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PM Modi making climate change part of rural India’s conversations

CSDS' Sanjay Kumar

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PM Modi making climate change part of rural India’s conversations: CSDS’ Sanjay Kumar

Kumar, professor and co-director of Lokniti, a Research Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, and political scientist Nalin Mehta, were responding to an exclusive interview to Moneycontrol by Prime Minister Narendra ModiWhile climate change may not be a big electoral issue in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making the phrase a part of conversations in rural areas, according to Sanjay Kumar, professor and co-director of Lokniti, a Research Programme at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

“If you read the interview, look at how intelligently Prime Minister Modi has tried to convey this to the people of this country. He took the example of earthquakes and floods, especially floods,” Kumar said in a discussion that decoded Modi’s interview to Moneycontrol.

“So, if you talk about climate change, I don’t think the people in rural India or a large part of India, a large part of Indian voters, are going to connect with the phrase climate change. They might think this is an urban issue or it’s an issue you read about in the newspapers, books, or magazines. But the way it is now being conveyed, with examples of floods in Himachal (Pradesh), floods in Uttarakhand, and similar disturbances in various parts of the country, I think people have started understanding what climate change is about and that it affects your day-to-day life,” Kumar added.

In an exclusive interview to Moneycontrol, the Prime Minister said the world needs to accept that climate change is a “shared reality” and that the ‘Global South’ would be affected disproportionately.

“There is a need to understand that the poor and the planet, both need our help. Different countries of the world, especially the Global South, are at the receiving end of the impact of the climate crisis, despite having done very little to create the problem in the first place. But they are ready to do whatever it takes to help the planet, provided the world is ready to do whatever it takes to also help them take care of their poor people. So, a sensitive and empathetic approach that focuses on resource mobilisation and technology transfer can do wonders,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister’s comments come days before New Delhi hosts global leaders for the G20 Leaders’ Summit and in the run up to the national elections in the first half of 2024.

Green development and climate finance has been one of India’s key priorities during its G20 Presidency. The government has focused towards not only climate finance and technology, but also ensuring “just energy transitions” for developing nations.

India taking the lead

While climate change may not be a “big electoral issue”, CSDS’ Kumar said Modi talking about it will draw attention of voters and that they would take it “slightly more seriously now compared to how they have looked at this issue in the past”.

Political scientist Nalin Mehta, also part of the discussion to decode the Modi interview, said the Prime Minister’s articulation on the issue reflected a “quiet confidence” and India’s belief in itself as the leader of the Global South and a voice in the debate on climate change.

“India has also taken a lead on solar energy in a way that is unprecedented. So India is not just making a point about the way it looks at climate change, it is taking significant measures – and that’s directly fronted by the Prime Minister. The whole shift in solar has been led by him directly; he has personally put his political capital behind it,” Mehta told Moneycontrol.


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