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As PM Modi talks ‘Climate Justice’ in Paris, Jairam Ramesh denigrates India’s position in COP21

As the Modi Wave is weaning, intolerance of the Indian National Congress for Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on the rise! Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government has come to the power, the INC has been trying every trick to make a political comeback. The propaganda of #SuitBootKiSarkar was one such trick! It is perfectly legitimate for the INC to wage a political war against the BJP and Narendra Modi so long as it is in the national interest and the national interest is not compromised. Unfortunately, the INC has crossed the red-line and gone to the extent of compromising the national interest, for reasons which are purely political in nature; case in point, the recent controversy involving Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar Aiyar.

When the INC took a stand which was identical to that of Pakistan on the #terrorboat issue, nowhere in the national interest, it did so in order to further its political agenda. The INC is stalling all important bills, such as the GST bill, the Juvenile Justice Act amendment bill, in the Rajya Sabha because Prime Minister Modi and the NDA will get the due credit, even if it means stalling the growth and development of the nation.

In yet another such an attempt, the INC has gone to the extent of siding with the US, compromising the national interest, just to score some political points against the NDA government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Indian approach in COP21, hosted by France in Paris.

In an interview to The New York Times, former Minister of Environment and Forest and a senior Congress leader Shri Jairam Ramesh said: “I think Obama got carried away with Modi, frankly,”. Mr. Modi has made one major breakthrough in talks with Mr. Obama, Mr. Ramesh said, committing “against the advice of everyone in the system” to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, a component in refrigerators and air-conditioners. Since then, he said, India’s negotiators have returned to their familiar, confrontational manner.

“India is not an easy country to negotiate with,” Mr. Ramesh said. “We are moralistic, we are argumentative, we are regressive. It has gone back to the old rhetoric, there is no doubt about it.”

Let us nudge Shri Jairam Ramesh’s memory a bit, in order to remind him of an incident during COP15, when two key negotiators threatened to pull out just two days before the Copenhagen Conference as they were not satisfied with India’s stand announced by the then Minister of Environment and Forest (MoEF), i.e. Shri Jairam Ramesh. Veteran negotiators like former IFS officer Chandrashekhar Dasgupta and former Environment Secretary Pradipto Dasgupta had gone public to say India had played its hand too early, so there was “nothing left to negotiate”, though he has been reassured by other members. This was in sharp contrast to Ramesh’s statement in parliament that “India always left its announcements till too late, so there was the impression that it was acting under pressure”. They also alleged that they did not wish to be a part of the delegation as they had not been briefed adequately and feared that India’s stand was being compromised in the name of “flexibility”.

Shri Jairam Ramesh, in a confidential letter (which somehow found its way to the press) to the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, suggested that India should junk the Kyoto Protocol, delink itself from the G-77 countries (coalition of developing nations) and commit to a new deal of emission cuts without any counter guarantee of finances and technology. He also said that this change in stand would help in better alignment with the US and the current stand “takes away from India’s aspirations for permanent membership of the [United Nations] Security Council”.

It is a matter of debate whether these steps would ensure the economic progress and development in our country and whether it was a correct path to realizing India’s long-standing wish to become a permanent member (with or without the veto remains unspecified and only Shri Jairam Ramesh can shed some light over it) of the UNSC, which ironically was waived by none other than Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, in a naïve friendly gesture to China, which has proved to be detrimental to the national interest.

Previously, Shri Jairam Ramesh while speaking at the Columbia University, New York said that “India should aim for a low fruit, not be singled out as obstructionist and instead industrialized countries should agree on realistic targets for cutting emissions by 2020″; but Sir, did the US, the biggest polluter in the world whom you were trying to impress, not junk the Kyoto Protocol as it wasn’t in their self-interest? Is it fair to label India as “obstructionist” when it takes a strong stand and doesn’t want to be bullied by the developed nations? What is more disturbing is that Shri Jairam Ramesh was willing to compromise on India’s stand in the climate talks just for a permanent seat in the UNSC. How could the INC led UPA government even afford such a magnificent delusion? He even went on to the extent of saying that “India should not stick with G-77 but be embedded in G-20”.

This alteration in India’s position failed to convince even the members of Prime Minister’s climate change council and the opposition parties, lashing out at Shri Jairam Ramesh’s policy change, termed the move as a ‘sellout’ to the US. Shri Arun Jaitley, the then Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha, called it a “betrayal” of not only India’s national interest but also of all “poor nations”.  He questioned Shri Jairam Ramesh’s stand on 25% voluntary cut in carbon intensity by 2020 and the issue of per capita principle on climate change, saying that this would involve huge costs with no reciprocation from the developed countries. This stand even upset the usually neutral industry body, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI); they wrote a letter to the Prime Minister expressing their “anguish” over India’s position. Following the uproar, Shri Jairam Ramesh had to revert to his original position and agreed to be flexible and non-negotiable on the following three points:

  1. No legally binding emission cut
  2. A peaking year
  3. International review of mitigation actions that are not supported by international finance technology.

This development, however, left many people convinced that the then INC led UPA government did not have the support of negotiators. It also left people wondering whether the announcement was made at the behest of the US and other developed countries!

While Prime Minister Modi, in order to ensure the ‘climate justice’ for India, goes on to assert that the rich world must take greater responsibility for climate change, it is regrettably unfortunate that INC is again acting like a stooge of the US and other developed nations, which are trying everything they could to bully India and other developing nations, just to further its political agenda and score some political points against Shri Modi. One can only hope that the INC would soon realize its folly and refrain from compromising the national interest in order to further its political agenda. The future depends on the articulation of the ‘climate justice’ for India by Prime Minister Modi and his government.

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Vibha Sekhar
Researcher | Photographer | Tweets on Politics, Current Affairs, Science and other random things at @VibhaSays

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