ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Climate Justice and Gandhian Morality

Gandhian principles of morality have in the past been linked in various ways to India’s approach to environmental governance and, more recently, to the contemplation of the broader global debate on climate change. The applicability of these principles to conceptions of climate justice is examined by exploring the ways in which the idea of M K Gandhi is articulated in an Indian context. The vocalisation of Gandhi as a symbol of Indian engagement with climate change and sustainable development asks to be located within broader normative perspectives on the content and directionality of a Gandhian approach. Ideas of cosmopolitanism and “realised justice” supply a useful backdrop for a contemporary reading of Gandhi, and draw attention to several questions that this article examines.

The author is grateful to Mike Hulme and George Adamson for their guidance and encouragement, and is indebted to Sanjay Chaturvedi for his insights and support.

Climate change is at once a phenomenon that carries physical, sociocultural and political connotations (Hulme 2008a, 2009). It transcends traditional nation state boundaries in a manner that defies ready spatial compartmentalisation, and places the demand upon peoples of making a shift away from what Jasanoff (2010: 238) identifies as “not-but” rationalities towards the more inclusive expression of “both-and” reasonings. The project of contemplating a global form of justice that legitimately mirrors geographically and culturally situated realities is a challenging exercise at its core. The discursive construction of climate justice would, therefore, need to begin in an acknowledgement of the co-production of the normative and epistemic dimensions of climate change (Jasanoff 2004, 2010).

In the literature, there exist three primary categories of climate change justice, namely the compensatory, distributive and procedural forms (Ikeme 2003). In an Indian context that is characterised by the legitimacy of rights-based approaches to climate change, the first category of compensatory justice provides a script for the framing of climate justice perspectives in the global South in terms of socio-historically arrived upon principles of responsibility and fairness (Ikeme 2003; Walker and Bulkeley 2006). Placing these different categories in the developmental context of India as an emerging power, the idea of justice is one that is subject to multiple interpretations.

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Updated On : 24th Sep, 2018
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