Logic of environmental sustainability

Jhum cultivation had been blamed for contributing to the deteriorating climate change in the world without taking into consideration how this method had immensely benefited the communities.

World Environment Day was first held in 1974. Since then, it has been observed every year on June 5 to heighten awareness on the protection of the environment. The day is dedicated to understanding and raising issues related to the environment like pollution, global warming and ecological breakdown. On an occasion like the World Environment Day, it is imperative for the people of the Northeast region in general and the environmentally conscious citizens to raise certain uncomfortable questions not fully addressed by the government. For instance, certain predominant belief supposedly triggered by scientific approach to environmental issues needs to be reviewed. This has been necessitated by a paradigm shift even in the so called scientific belief for in the name of science policymakers have drawn conclusions quite opposite to the age old knowledge system of the people in the region. 

For instance, the benign practice of jhum cultivation in the mountainous regions has never been so subjected to systematic research that take cognizance of sustainable environmental approach. The issue of whether or not jhum cultivation has been beneficial to the people has been at the centre of heated debates. Tinged with supposedly scientific jargons, at least the generation in the post 1960s has been taught just the negativity of practicing jhum or slash and burn cultivation that had been practiced by the tribes and communities in the region. Jhum cultivation had been blamed for contributing to the deteriorating climate change in the world without taking into consideration how this method had immensely benefited the communities.

The narrative of the state had been taken as the absolute truth thereby allowing certain steps to be initiated without raising questions against the actual validity of a rationalization prompted by the newfound love for industrialization. In the age of globalization, the predominant belief needs to be probed further. With increasing focus on consumerist culture, twentieth century agriculture sought to shape the environment to its needs and methods leading to unnecessary prioritization of higher yield with imported technologies.

The attempt to homogenize crop production had been given priorities ahead of the actual need of the people based on time tested method of tribal and indigenous communities idea and practice of moving from burning small areas to farm and allowing others areas to lie fallow. This practice eventually came in as direct challenge to the set objectives of organized farms. This is where, the tribes and communities in the region needs to urge the authorities to have a re-look at its policies against the age old practice instead of demonizing indigenous culture and lifestyles of the highlanders.

Having spelt out one of the agenda in a small way, the World Environment Day on June 5 this year is also significant because of one reason. With the world combating COVID-19, there is an interesting observation that says that the pandemic is a godsend blessing for humankind as the subsequent lockdown enforced across the globe stopped people from engaging with destructive actions that squander true and sustainable environment. For instance, before the coronavirus outbreak, the air around us had been deemed toxic to breathe in due to the amount of greenhouse gases that had been emitted over the years.

The world experienced rising temperatures, which in turn led to the melting of glaciers and rising of sea levels. Down-slide in environmental damage was being fastened due to the depletion of natural resources - air, water and soil. However, the lockdown enforced after COVID-19 outbreak have positively impacted in the environment. To put the matter in a twisted nutshell, the perilous life humankind leads now has benefited the environment. 


World Environment Day amid Coronavirus pandemic

'COVID-19 has forced us to realise need for biodiversity conservation’

First Published:June 5, 2020, 12:44 a.m.