A National Pledge for Kerala after the Great Deluge of 2018

  • Kerala is the land of my birth, and my life is intertwined closely and inseparably with the lives of all fellow-Malayalis. I will respect and remember this truth and will never think of my life as totally unrelated to nature, my neighbours, and the government that we elect to rule us.

 

  • I vow to respect and celebrate both the expertise and the ethics of fellow-Malayalis who have been systematically marginalized and culturally denigrated in Kerala — our fisher-folk, our adivasi people, and others who live close to nature and know the pulse of our ecosystem. I beg forgiveness of them for having ignored or derided their wisdom. I also will listen closely to scientific and social scientific studies which try to alert us of impending danger created by our interventions.

 

  • I vow to  stay firm against both the Hindutva agents who are circulating  superstition, as well as equally irresponsible ‘intellectuals’ of the CPM, and carry on the work of helping the affected in all possible ways. I see that these positions  stem equally from equally virulent ways of diverting attention from the guilt that each and every one of us bear in bringing about this destruction upon ourselves.   [The latter have already started circulating  apologia for the awful mistakes committed by our government and the general contempt for environmental concerns shown by the present CPM government .For example, the article allegedly written by Prof. T Jayaraman, Member, Kerala State Planning Board, which completely misrepresents both the Pinarayi government’s general thrust towards predatory growth, and the environmental movement in Kerala, forwarded widely on Whatsapp. Or the equally irresponsible message, which advises us to not discuss the Sanghi fear-mongering about Ayyappan’s supposed anger towards menstruating women entering Sabarimala, because people shattered by the tragedy need to be left alone. Clearly, whoever wrote it cannot distinguish between faith and superstition. We need faith, not foolish blind superstition.]

 

  • I vow to remain unswayed by the political blame-game that has erupted now, and carry on my work till we have rebuilt our world in ways that respect the natural world. [True, the government and the CPM are at fault in countless ways, and especially in their searing contempt for any concern for nature. But there is also good reason to think that the rescue and relief work has been conducted considerably well, despite many failings, and the Kerala government has responded  maturely to the meanness of the Central Government. And, more importantly, one can hardly forget, neither the Congress nor the BJP have been innocent in this regard. They  ALL must share the guilt. The activists of the Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samithy, who fought against the unspeakable destruction of the Periyar by the recklessly polluting industries will surely vouch for this. As for the BJP, their selective environmentalism is nothing but a strategy — for their national government is no better than the CPM in its understanding of nature, and actually worse. Thirdly, blaming the government or politicians will not do, because we as a people, except those of us who live close to nature, all bear a share of guilt, and we need to introspect, not point fingers.]

 

  • I vow to resist all attempts to push resurgent civil society back into passivity by the cadre/workers of all political parties. I vow that I will NOT SHUT UP either, because we need to introspect urgently as a people . I vow to take a more active, critical part in local government here, and not ignore it, as the Malayali middle class have, till now. [Reports have begun to surface that many of the volunteers who worked tirelessly on their own in relief camps are being ordered out by alleged workers of various political parties, especially the CPM. The CPM better be warned that this egregious attitude will ultimately erode whatever goodwill that has accrued to them.]

 

  • I vow to stop being cynical, and recognize that even exploiters of our labour, like the Gulf countries, may be kinder to us than powers who historically have claimed to be our own.

 

  • I vow never to forget the truth that the raging waters spared no one — that it destroyed the wealth accumulated by Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, and in the moment of danger, the rich felt the fear of death as intensely as the poor. And I will forever remember that Hindu, Muslim, and Christian came together in extraordinary ways; I will never let anyone forget that THIS WAS REAL, THIS IS POSSIBLE.

 

  • I vow not to patronize any resort/hotel/builder which violates environmental safeguards. I will demand to know of others what they have done to repair the damage they did, and to prevent any further deterioration of the environment.

 

  • I vow to love and respect animals and plant life, tame,wild, or in-between, as co-sharers of our natural world and vital to the survival of all life, including mine. I vow to do all I can to protect and foster them in my surroundings.

 

  • I vow to change my life to minimize the harm I do to my environment, especially by becoming a responsible consumer in daily life.

 

  •  I vow to stop thinking of Nature as a bunch of dead resources. I promise to acknowledge that the natural environment in which I sustain myself is part of my subjectivity — it is not just out there, it is in me. 

 

  • Above all, I vow to think of Kerala as my HOME, and not just as a place to come on vacation, or launch myself globally.

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “A National Pledge for Kerala after the Great Deluge of 2018”

  1. J. Devika, very moving. I could substitute the word ‘Kerala’ with ‘Goa’, and given we are next in line for a similar disaster in a next monsoon that is similar, you have hit the right chords…

  2. Let humanity be the paramount consideration and not petty politics of hindutva brigade or otherwise

  3. As usual reflexive and sensitive. thanks, Devika. This holds for all regions of India and for all communities.

  4. Very Well worded,Brilliant as very full of empathy,makes One feel the need to Introspect once own Life Style as the So called HAVEs community and inspire to be more of a Society Once again in tune with the Nature around.

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