Climate activist Greta Thunberg is now facing international flak. Mohinder Gulati, ex COO of UN Sustainable Energy for All, has written an one letter to Thunberg, launching a scathing attack on her politically charged activism against India.
Gulati wrote: “I am writing to you with some disappointment that you have started using your well-earned bully pulpit to wade into political issues, such as farmers’ protest in India, which may not be as simple and as straightforward as you may have been led to believe.”
I would urge you not to expend your political and moral capital on controversial local political issues. I am sending a copy of this letter to the United Nations Secretary-General H.E. Antonio Guterres for his information,” the letter reads further.
The letter is crucial as it puts down four vital points that one should take into consideration while forming a particular opinion about the farmers’ protest.
The first and foremost issue that Mr. Gulati brings up in his letter is emissions from crop burning. He chastises Greta for her lack of data on this challenge. Gulati said that farmers demanded, and regrettably the government of India agreed, to withdraw penalties for burning crop residue. Indian farmers, mostly around Delhi in the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, burn about 100 million tons (Mt) a year of crop residue which generates 140 Mt of CO2, 12 Mt of other noxious gases, and 1.2 Mt of particulate matter, choking a population of about 50 million in the area, he added.
It provides, “Smog in Delhi forces younger kids to skip faculty and keep indoors, 2.2 million kids endure irreversible lung harm. Your embassy in Delhi can inform you of ways they gasp for air throughout that interval. Do you support farmers’ demand to allow them to proceed to burn crop residue and add to emissions?”
The second key issue that he brought up through his letter was the issue of food wastage. Mr. Gulati contends that the wastage of meals itself emits Carbon Dioxide and that the sheer huge scale of meal wastage in India is sufficient to be the third-largest emitter of Carbon Dioxide in the USA and China. Farmers’ Protest is towards privatization within the agricultural sector, which is the necessity of the hour to construct huge provide chains and storage amenities with a purpose to curtail the scarcity of meals.
His letter mentioned, “India desperately needs to modernize its agriculture, strengthen market linkages, and invest in the whole supply chain. This cannot, and should not, be done by the governments and should be left to a competitive, efficient, and well-regulated private sector. Do you support India to continue with the current archaic systems and waste food that could feed 100 million hungry every year?”
Adding further to it, he took the water crisis as the third issue. The letter reads how farmers are overutilizing the groundwater, exploiting the environment. He also sheds light on how excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides is deteriorating the water quality.
He bluntly asks her, “India is now food surplus and needs to create incentives to make agriculture less resource-intensive and demand-driven. Agitating farmers want the government to lock into the current system of growing resource-intensive and chemical-ridden agriculture. Do you support that?”
On corruption-controlled agriculture markets, Gulati said, “You may not be aware but the current system forces farmers to sell their produce through government-established market yards where they have to pay a brokerage of about 2 to 3 percent and market tax of about 5 to 6 percent. Market committees collect this tax supposedly for `rural development`, but they are controlled by politicians, and their accounts are not audited for years.”
“The revenue is often swindled by corrupt politicians controlling these committees. The new laws give a choice to the farmers to either continue to sell in the existing market yards or sell to anyone anywhere in the country and that too without paying any tax,” Gulati added in the letter to Greta.
Apart from these issues, Gulati didn’t miss the chance to talk about the most important topic- Minimum Support Price.
The letter goes on further, as Mr. Gulati cautions Greta and the readers that strong vested interests are against the farm laws. The new farm laws would bring in transparency which would close the loophole to exploit tax-free agricultural income.
The government procures large quantities of wheat and rice for the public distribution system and pays a pre-announced minimum support price (MSP). Out of about 210 Mt of wheat and rice produced in the country, the government procures about 85 Mt for sale to the poor at one-tenth of the procurement price. About 52 percent of this procurement is made from only three states – Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh – the hub of agitating farmers, he added.
“More than 90 percent of the farmers in the rest of India do not benefit from this system. Normally, the market price is lower than the MSP. This is what creates a great opportunity for the broker mafia. Brokers and politicians purchase wheat and rice from farmers in other states at a lower price (about 60 percent of MSP) and pay them in cash, bring it to government procurement stations in Punjab, Haryana, and UP, sell it at a higher price (MSP) and get paid by cheque. This is counted as their agriculture income which is tax-exempt,” Gulati said.
“So these brokers, often politicians or campaign financiers, not only earn the huge arbitrage but also convert the cash (generally crime money) to legitimate tax-free income. New laws would bring in transparency and make it difficult to legitimize crime money. No wonder the farmer agitation is so well-funded. I feel the innocent farmers may not even know the source of this questionable `philanthropic` funding. I wonder if you would support a system of legitimizing crime and corruption money in the hands of corrupt politicians and their cronies,” Gulati said.
This open letter not only offers a wider environmental perception but also brilliantly provides a criticism of Greta’s activism. The letter should be an eye-opener for those who claim themselves to be an environmental activist but does not have any plan to handle India’s environmental crisis.