Another iPhone or a Meal a Day: The Choice Now Lies Here
In the end it is all circular and that gives hope and depresses at the same time. Livelihoods, survival, food crisis, water riots and fundamentally skewed resource allocation systems, which in turn create further inequities – one way to look at all these issues together is through the lens of climate change.
A street play by Antral, performed under the Canvass for Climate Change, Oxfam forced us to look at these specific linkages. Ironically the linkages are so obvious that in fact we end up missing them. Did someone say that climate change is an issue which is overarching and impacts all of us in spite of our divides? I think its time to rethink.
What happens for instance in a society where there has been historic inequity not just in terms of resources but also social status? Who gets that last bucket of water? Who pays the cost for every time that we order an extra large French fries? Who does not get a meal when we throw away extra food after a party?
When the choice is between a cheaper cell phone and basic requirements like food what will we as a society opt for? More importantly who will get to make that choice? And who will face the consequence? Factors like caste, class, gender and even status will play increasingly significant roles here.
When seemingly abstract phenomenon like climate change get down to issues such as these, it is not difficult to guess that when prices of fertilizers go up and the margins in cultivating cash crops go down, it is not just the city which will face steeper prices for whole wheat pastas but the farmer herself/himself will not even have enough for sustenance.
This then leads us in to a trap – which will not get resolved till consumption patterns are reset, till we remap our priorities, till we rethink whether that bigger car can be replaced? Or done away with? The only hope here is that some of this might be reversible.
These questions need to be raised and raised in a specific context – that which includes questions of social linkages and inequity and how climate change will either contribute or even heighten them. When it does not rain somewhere in an unmapped village, maybe the nearest metropolis is pumping in excessive garbage in to the surrounding water bodies. Did we then hear someone say price rise in food grains?
Another small detail: The play has no name; not yet. Because the play is in progress — a continuum which will keep changing with each such performance, will keep adding issues resolving old ones — the name will subsequently emerge.