Three scales of justice

India, Globe and Earth

I am writing this short message from a cafe in Bangalore, where I continue to absorb the momentous changes that are transforming India and the world. As I have said earlier, we are living in the first period in human history when politics engulfs the whole earth from bacteria upwards. We still haven’t grasped the enormity of that reality: calling it the anthropocene only obscures the necessary shift in perspective.

Anyway. I will keep this short.

This year, I want to explore the engulfing of the earth at three levels: India, Globe and Earth. Each level has a “keystone” challenge that I mention at the end of the respective description.

  1. India: everything is up in the air, from the nature of the Indian state to how we describe the national community to ourselves. The recent intensification of state oppression - from the permanent lockdown of Kashmir to the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, makes it clear that a new nation is (might?) coming into being. Of course, we can’t divorce these debates about foreigners and national identity without understanding the possibility of climate change induced massive migration both within India and from Bangladesh. Keystone challenge: Authoritarianism.

  2. Globe: The most recent COP talks were a spectacular failure. Meanwhile, automation continues apace and climate change is increasingly a part of daily calculations, from insurance rates for low lying areas to Saudi Arabias decision to pump oil at a furious rate. As goes India so goes the world: everything is up in the air. Keystone Challenge: Climate Change.

  3. Earth: This past month Australia saw the worst fires in its history. There’s no doubt that they were induced by climate change. In an eye popping figure, I read that 500 million wild and domesticated animals might have died in the fires including about 30% of all Koalas in the NSW region. Of course, that slaughter has to be contextualized by the billions of animals we kill for food, entertainment and clothing every year. It sure seems like we are living in Khandava writ large. Keystone Challenge: Extinction.

I don’t know how we are going to tackle these nested challenges but one must at least try to grasp their essence. Happy new year!