Vichaar: Environmental Casteism and Climate Refugees in India

In Conversation with Professor Harsh Vardhan Bhati

Professor Harsh Vardhan Bhati, Jindal Global Law School

In this episode of Vichaar, Professor Harsh Vardhan Bhati walks us through the history of the issue of climate refugees, how the term was coined, what it means, and how it has gained recognition over the years. He talks about the specific case of a refugee who sought asylum in New Zealand on climate change and was denied it by the New Zealand government.

He talks about the adverse effects of climate change and how it has deteriorated to such an extent that many people have had to flee their homes because of the irreparable nature of damage caused. He points out the difference between climate refugees and other refugees.

He discusses the debates and stigmas surrounding the term climate refugee, how it is not as easy to trace the exact cause of the disasters that pushed people to migrate. So it is difficult to identify what was caused by climate change and what was caused by other manufactured factors.

He speaks in detail about the policy decisions made by the international community on climate refugees and climate change and how resistant countries are to accept climate refugees and grant asylum to people based on the ground of climate change.

He emphasizes the importance of nations having a comprehensive plan to curb climate change and global warming by reducing carbon emissions and mitigate the problem of displacement due to climate change.

The gaps in the legal system, how there is no legal theorization or jurisprudence of the issue, and how we need to address the different ways people are affected by climate change and its causes for us to understand the issue of climate refugees better.

Professor Bhati gives us some insight into climate change and climate refugees in the South-Asian context and explains how different social groups, especially different caste groups, are worse off than others because of climate change. It is not just climate change that impacts them but the way they are treated in society, the poverty they are subject to, and the kinds of professions they work in because of caste-based oppression.

Over the years, India sees an increasing amount of natural disasters, including droughts, cyclones, and floods. Profesor Bhati explains how this disproportionately affects those belonging to backward castes and talks to us about a few cases where entire villages have been damaged as a result, causing hundreds and thousands of people to be displaced.

He emphasizes the importance of nations having a comprehensive plan to curb climate change and global warming by reducing carbon emissions and mitigate the problem of displacement due to climate change.

The gaps in the legal system, how there is no legal theorization or jurisprudence of the issue, and how we need to address the different ways people are affected by climate change and its causes for us to understand the issue of climate refugees better.

Professor Bhati gives us some insight into climate change and climate refugees in the South-Asian context and explains how different social groups, especially different caste groups, are worse off than others because of climate change. It is not just climate change that impacts them but the way they are treated in society, the poverty they are subject to, and the kinds of professions they work in because of caste-based oppression.

Over the years, India sees an increasing amount of natural disasters, including droughts, cyclones, and floods. Profesor Bhati explains how this disproportionately affects those belonging to backward castes and talks to us about a few cases where entire villages have been damaged as a result, causing hundreds and thousands of people to be displaced.

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