Skip to main content

Despite all the difficulties, 2024 can still bring hope to humanity and other forms of life

By Bharat Dogra* 

With several significant elections (India, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico etc.) being topped toward the end of the year by the US Presidential election, 2024 will be a very important year for the world. The more significant issue is whether this year will be able to bring new hope to a world that has been through a highly disruptive pandemic and dangerous wars during the last four years, and on top of this has seen a worsening of the threat to the life-nurturing conditions of the planet which has become the single most important issue today.
When the 21st century started the scientific basis of this very serious threat was already well established, but with least care for this the most powerful country and its close allies embarked on a series of wars (wrongly called wars on terror as these created immense terror on their own among millions of people threatened in most terrible ways by them) which set the world on a road of confrontation at a time when international cooperation and peace were most needed. At the same time the background for perhaps even more confrontations like that of Ukraine was being prepared by a series of wrong steps being taken in the direction of a most dangerous proxy war.
To worsen the situation, some of the worst disregard for humanitarian concerns has been seen in the recent highly disproportionate response of Israel to the horrible initial attack by Hamas. While the world’s attention has been taken up by these entirely avoidable conflicts, life-threatening environmental problems including climate change have been worsening. This is where our precariously perched world finds itself at the end of 2023—in unprecedentedly dangerous times even though a majority of people appear to be going about their chores without much realization of the dangers.
In terms of facing the most important challenges which confront humanity in the 21st century, the first 23 years of the century have been largely a time of lost opportunities and even worsening trends. So much that should have been achieved and could have been achieved in the context of most urgent tasks has not been achieved.
It is in this context that the most important tasks for the new year 2024 should be visualized, and humanity will find hope if sincere efforts at a significant level can be made in taking ahead these tasks and hopes.
Briefly, the key task ahead is to create at a wide level an integrated agenda based on justice and equality, peace and disarmament, protection of environment and biodiversity in such a way that these various objectives are mutually supportive of each other and are pursued in a way that is linked to resolving the problems and threats which endanger the life-nurturing conditions of the planet.
The challenge is at the level of conceptualizing and spreading this understanding, as well as taking this forward in an action program. If such integrative understanding and actions can be realized on a significant scale, this will certainly give hope to a world which needs it much.
While the most important task is to resolve the life-threatening conditions before it is too late and to achieve this within a framework of justice and peace, when and how can this become a significant part of the social scene remains to be seen. People are already active on various aspects of such an agenda, which is a step forward but more linkages are needed before a more hope-giving movement incorporating various concerns can emerge.
During 2024 in times of important elections some of these concerns such as climate change are likely to be raised but only in some countries while other equally important concerns such as disarmament and elimination of nuclear weapons are likely to get much less attention. However if an integrated understanding emerges, then all the important issues are likely to get emphasized. Similarly in developed countries local economic problems are likely to be raised but not the much more serious problems of poorer countries. Again, if an integrated view spreads, then these problems too will be raised.
As increasing numbers of people and organizations follow such an integrated approach of bringing together all serious concerns, then cooperation among such people and organizations in various countries can increase, increasing the impact they can make.
In this and other ways, if an agenda of peace, disarmament, environment protection, justice and equality moves further, with increasing cooperation among people making efforts worldwide for this, and if this is taken forward in ways which raise hopes of resolving the existential crisis in time, then despite all difficulties 2024 can still bring significant hope to humanity and other forms of life.
*Honorary convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include “Planet in Peril”, “Protecting Earth for Children”, “Man over Machine” and “A Day in 2071"



'Modi govt's assault on dissent': Foreign funds of top finance NGO blocked

By Rajiv Shah  In a surprise move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, has cancelled the foreign funding license of the well-known advocacy group, Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), known for critically examining India's finance and banking sectors from human rights and environmental angle.

Misleading ads 'manipulate, seduce, lure' to market unhealthy harmful food

By Our Representative  The Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest (NAPI) in its new report “50 Shades of Food Advertising” has sought to expose how seductive, luring, manipulative or deceptive these advertisements can be. Consequences of such advertising are increased intake of unhealthy food products that is associated with obesity and diabetes, it says. 

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

'Failure of governance': India, China account for 54% pollution-related deaths globally

By Vikas Parsaram Meshram*   A recent report jointly prepared by UNICEF and the independent research organization Health Effects Institute has been released, and the statistics within it are alarming. It states that in 2021, air pollution caused the deaths of 2.1 million Indians, including 169,000 children who hadn't yet fully experienced life. These figures are indeed distressing and raise questions about why there hasn't been more serious effort in this direction, putting policymakers to shame. 

August 9 to be observed as Corporates Quit India day: Top farmers' group

By Our Representative A recent general body meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), the top farmers' organisation, stated hat "there is no need for any illusion of change in the pro-corporate policies of the BJP-NDA government" following the recent elections in which BJP failed to achieve even simple majority. It insisted,  Prime Minister Narendra Modi "is hell bent" to continue 'business as usual' policies.

Over 3.8 billion animals at risk: India on crossroad in animal welfare practices

By Rupali Soni*  In a collaborative effort, the India Animal Fund and Dasra have unveiled their report , "Our Shared Future | Securing Animal Welfare, Human Wellbeing, and Sustainability in India." This landscape report provides a thorough overview of animal welfare and underscores its indispensable role within India's socio-economic and ecological frameworks. It also illustrates how animal welfare is intricately intertwined with public health, labor welfare, and climate resilience.

Belgian report alleges MNC Etex responsible for asbestos pollution in Madhya Pradesh town Kymore: COP's Geneva meet

By Our Representative A comprehensive Belgian report has held MNC Etex , into construction business and one of the richest, responsible for asbestos pollution in Kymore, an industrial town in in Katni district of Madhya Pradesh. The report provides evidence from the ground on how Kymore’s dust even today is “annoying… it creeps into your clothes, you have to cough it”, saying “It can be deadly.”

'Genocidal violence in Bastar': Civil society groups ask UNHRC to intervene

By Our Representative  The civil rights network Forum Against Corporatisation and Militarisation (FACAM), along with the Foundation The London Story, Netherlands, International Solidarity for Academic Freedom in India, India Justice Project, Germany and London Mining Network, UK, in a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has complained of "genocidal violence" allegedly being unleashed on the Adivasi peasants in Bastar. Stating that the violence has intensified in 2024 since the Indian state launched the draconian Surajkund Scheme, the representation said, as of now, close to 200 individuals have been killed in Bastar. Along with this, multiple human rights defenders, ground activists and peasant leaders such as Surju Tekam, and Suneeta Pottem, have been arrested in Chhattisgarh based on falsified charges of being associated with the proscribed Communist Party of India (Maoist) under anti-terror and sedition law, it added. Seeking periodic review of th