Community Charter on Climate Crisis

P.V. Satheesh, guiding light of the Deccan Development Society in Andhra Pradesh, India, for more than a decade, sent us the Community Charter on Climate Crisis developed by indigenous communities across India. By way of introduction, he sent the following personal message which we post here with his permissison.

January 1, 2010

Year 2009 has been a year of great revelation for me personally. Let me share this with you. . .

Two weeks ago, huddled in a warm room of a community complex as temperatures hovered around -3 degrees Celsius in the freezing Copenhagen, were a group of animated people from Africa, Asia and Latin America with a sprinkling of Europeans. Everyone was discussing what should be the text of a defiant draft to be sent to the negotiators inside the Bella Centre, the official conference venue where the big and the powerful of the world had congregated for the Climate Summit. Suddenly one of the indigenous persons from India burst out with a long statement. I was stunned into inaction for a while. But as I regained my composure, I started fighting back my tears and started clapping. The entire room burst into applause even though it had not understood what she had said in her native Madhya Pradeshi Hindi. I realized that I had to translate this and started doing so in a choked voice: Tell them that WE are making no demands. No demands at all. If THEY want to retrieve life on this plant, let THEM make a demand on us. Because only we have the Power to Help Life Survive On This Earth. This is what she had said.

She had suddenly made myriad things clear for me. The philosophical and political struggle I have been engaged with during the last decade or more had been summed up so profoundly by an ordinary woman from a backward state of India. That statement made my decade.

In fact looking back at 2009 I feel privileged to have been a part of two major events each of which had proved in multiple ways, the inspirational point made by the MP woman. The Raita Teerpu, Farmers Jury in Karnataka on Democratising Agricultural Research in South Asia, held after a year of preparation with the help of a group of sacred hearts, people full of passion for the small and the excluded, was the first event. The farmers, over 20 of whom were very small and marginal, some non-literate, who had never traveled outside of their block headquarters, came to the megapolis of Bengalooru, heard and challenged mainstream agricultural scientists and finally delivered their verdict in front of a large audience of writers, intellectuals, farmers and media presided over by one of the most respected jurists of India, former Chief Justice of Supreme Court, Justice M N Venkatachalaiah.. Their verdict was the triumph of the small. Victory of the wise over the powerful. Of the ordinary over the privileged. It proved, if proof was needed, that the small have the civilisational knowledge to lead the world. The verdict and the process preceding it were so morally overwhelming that I stayed dazed for days If you are interested in more details, please visit www.raitateerpu.com

The second such event was during the months leading to the Copenhagen Climate Summit. As I sat in front of the Chakesang Nagas in the Chizami valley in Nagaland, with Dongria Kondhs on the heights of Nyamgiri Hills in Orissa and conversed with the Dalit Women Farmers in Deccan plains of Andhra Pradesh I was blitzed by the profoundness of their vision and the moral authority of their arguments. My faith in the community knowledge and their capability to be the stewards of their resources further deepened at the end of a series of participatory exercises done with these excluded communities over a period of six months and giving  birth to a Community Charter on Climate Crisis, [See attachment] an inspirational document that plants the signposts for the world out of the current climate crisis. At the Summit of the Climate Communities held in Delhi in October and later in Copenhagen in December, the community representatives said it loud and clear : We Have the Power to Heal The Planet.

As we enter 2010, a new decade in this century, I wish all of us will allow ourselves to be lead by our climate communities -- our small farmers and fishers, forest dwellers, pastoralists, dalits and adivasis, women -- who together show us a new path out of a planet full of greed and grief.

 May 2010 and the ensuing decade be the decade of hope and love for all of us.

 p v satheesh

ram