Home Blawgs Indic Traditionalism and International Environmental Law: Tangible Realities and Ideation Strategies

Indic Traditionalism and International Environmental Law: Tangible Realities and Ideation Strategies

The Blog is written by Abhivardhan. Abhivardhan is an AI-Law Futurist, International law researcher. He is a Member of MIT Technology Review, Chair at Indian Society of Artificial Intelligence and Law, CEO, Internationalism & pursues law at AUUP Lucknow.

Civilizations have an inherent connection towards the conception and relativity of its commitments in any period. Currently, while civilizations have transcended from monarchies and empires to democracies (in most of the cases), it is important to note how the legal and ethical commitments of every civilization would relatively transform. India is no different from any of it. However, while civilizations emerge and globalization is transformed, it is very important to realize that the nature of implementation and fulfillment of such commitments cannot be deemed as ethnocentric, whether by a top-to-down legal approach, or whether by contemporaneous but out-of-touch policy suggestions. No law and policy can survive civilizational and rational issues in a contemporary post-modern age, where it is proposed to adopt ‘globalist’ or too much generalist standards over issues related to either environment or cybersecurity. Environmental issues, like technology – are politically consensual and motivated. It always depends on the balance struck and obviated.

Let us understand the concept of Indic traditionalism to deal with the issue of environmental protection in the Indian context. Indic traditionalism refers to a plethora of schools of thought in Indian jurisprudence, anthropology, and philosophy. Indic traditionalists believe that the conception of law and politics must have a naturalized and geographic purpose, which fits the naturality of cultures and social orders created in the state. Experts such as Sanjeev Sanyal, Subhash Kak& David Frawley have often regarded this as a cultural-geographic way of understanding issues of economics, environment, rule of law, and others. Unlike socialism and capitalism, where profit and power are at the center of the action, the Dharmic way of protecting the environment is – in line with the European model of the Kuznets curve, where once developed countries attain relevant economic growth, they can optimize their developmental activities to focus on ecological solutions.

The Indic view is proposed to be better and effective than the Western view towards ideas such as Responsibility to Protect, Sustainable Development and Carbon Taxation in International Law in this work, due to the reasons as enumerated:

  • The Indic worldview is not expansionist and thus, does effectively discriminate power and competence with sheer and clear dissection, even within the ambit of law;
  • Since competence and responsibility are essential for post-civilizational democracies (even post-colonial in the case of the Global South), it is clear to state that the discourses and analyses on issues related to human rights shall not be based on ideological, political, or metaphysical obscuration;
  • The Indic worldview does not reckon itself as the best and final means to endorse solutions, nor any worldview has been. Instead of calling out civilizational ideas as experimental, within the Indic worldview, we must look at the problems in different worldviews and considerations holistically, with a sense of positive conviction.

In the realm of environmental law, Indic traditionalism focuses on a cultural-geographic conception of natural law, unlike a metaphysical and imaginatively materialistic conception of Catholics & Protestants, Communists, and Islamists. The Indic worldview does not focus on extreme crony capitalism to defy natural order, neither it can rely on socialism to deprive individuals and communities of their indigenous economic liberties. Since many civilizational texts are lost, and some of them are traceable and observable, it would be better to assume that the Indic worldview cannot be dogmatic. However, the propensity and reasonability of interpretations should always be idea-centric and practical. Vedic philosophers have analyzed wide-ranging texts and rituals which glorify various elements of Nature such as Mother Earth(Prithivi), atmosphere (Bhuvah), air (Vayu), space (Akash), water (Aapa), and fire (Agni), altogether known asPanchaMahabhutas. The notion that Earth being the sustainer of all life and that human activity should not devastate the equilibrium the evident leitmotif of the Vedas. Swami Vivekananda also focuses on the Vedic view as a quote by him speaks clearly:

Man is first to be saved; he must be given food, education, and spirituality.

How can India perceive Sustainable Development under its Indic Lens?

Sustainable Development Goals of 2030, like the Millennium Development Goals – have been predicated on the imaginative basis of humanist outlook towards the international community. More or less, the predicated understanding of the UN targets has been proposed with good faith, with no successful implementation to date. Noted historian, Ian Morris, in his incredible works on Civilizational Economics, focuses on the nativity of geographical realities that cause industrialization, mercantilism, and other phenomena. Even within the Indic upfront, it is possible that we understand and transform the operational basis and considerations of how the targets can be achieved. Since sustainable development is a more overarching and discoverable conception in international environmental law, let us understand despite the fact that India does have its own limitations in terms of implementation and pause to lead to environmental protection, it is with the humble submission that the Indic take or worldview does not ignore the problems and fallacies that might emerge in the approach. However, it would be appropriate to proceed with the aesthetic propositions that the Indic worldview can provide to improve the legal and ethical ethos of SDGs in international law:

  1. That since power and competence are separated, the scope of the sustainable development goals is to be considered within the sovereign considerations of states, and policies cum solutions must be tailor-made, not internationalized until the approach is geographically cogent;
  2. That a top-to-down approach to policy solutions does not serve the real cause of SDGs, and would threaten the cause of international environmental law;
  3. Trust is an important consideration, but instead of discussing climate crisis and its mediation, it would be more appropriate to focus on the glocalization of the economic liberties and environmental necessities of the state, which are based on open, fairly bargained and politically consensual aspects of environmental problems;
  4. Implementation reforms cannot be based on mere judicial overreach or review: it is seriously imperative that while a freer basis of democracy and dialogue is given, it must be based on the notion of responsibility, and not an attractive and technocratic liability;

Let us discuss some of the important sustainable development goals, and their targets in the Indic context, to understand the fallacies and probable solutions that can be provided in order to lead towards better and transformative solutions:

  • With respect to SDG 7 – which espouses the emancipation of clean energy, India can enforce solar, geothermal, and nuclear energy to render sustainable and cost-effective solutions. Even PM Modi inaugurated the Rewa solar plant amidst the COVID19 pandemic and emphasized on the One Sun One World One Grid initiative. However, a cost-benefit analysis is strictly necessary so that it does not become an economic failure like the Belt and Road Initiative by China. At the same time, India can focus on clean energy based on the characteristics of its ecological diversity and geographical abundance. However, having a rendition of renewables cannot combat climate change, and therefore, the principled usage of nuclear, solar, and geothermal power must be based on support and self-prosperity considerations, which can be a good starting point with utmost humility.
  • SDG 9, which is central to industrial development, entrepreneurship, and innovation, is a great opportunity the Indian state has to achieve. The current socialist establishment which is wrongly enforced by a 42nd Amendment Act in the Indian Constitution is an obstruction to India’s economic and ecological development. Even the interpretations by the Hon’ble Supreme Court on ecocentric environment laws, especially by Justice Radhakrishnan, are good on paper, but on implementation, does not merit any support to the conception and practice of rule of law in economics and development. It is therefore important that India’s innovation strategies are not regarded as merely frugal. Like Africa, we can form frugal and cheap solutions and services. However, the Indic worldview can help here in this way – (1) instead of monopolizing services and products for an ultimatum of profit, it would be better to focus on the internalization of profiteering of indigenous entities such as MSMEs and proprietors; (2) taxation must be limited gradually but competition must be reasonable so that monopolistic considerations and corporatism are regulated with better geo-economic understandings, including the frugality & ingenuity of cyberspace and splinternet, based on the doctrines of Arthashastra by Vishnugupta Chanakya; and (3) conflict economics, ideology economics, or any means of economics, which defies the autonomy, integrity, and dignity of any economic liberty exercised by an individual, a company or any other entity (legal);
  • SDG 16 on Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, for example, can be achieved. However, the Indic worldview does not believe in the micromanagement of law and order circumstances. Regionalization and federalism are already within the ambit of the Indian Constitution from Arts 245 to 254. To expand its purpose, the socialist estimate of governance and administrative law, inherited from common law democracies such as the British (colonial) must be removed and replaced with better governance initiatives. However, a top to down approach will fail as it always has, and thus, it does not serve the cause of a rules-based international order. Instead, like the Gujarat Model, state governments in India can make a good example of competitive federalism, with a special focus on collective and cultural liberties, while maintaining the scope of individual liberties by removing the dichotomous behavior asserted by Western scholars across the globe. In the case of environmental issues, Indic traditionalism can instrument cultural-geographic patterns from the states and UTs, which eventually can force the Central establishment to implement reforms. Even if the current political map of India does not support the same, the Indic worldview provides a patient, consultative, and reasonable approach.

Can Indic Traditionalism over Ecology Issues Triumph International Regulations?

The approach of international law towards environmental issues stands in various domains and has transformed in capitalist economies. However, there are some conflicting behaviors that most of the principles of international environmental law certify, which is important to be understood:

  • International Environmental Law does not discriminate between issues of power and competence. Inducing a strictly technocratic conception of green criminology does not render any solutions to the problematic behavior of liability frameworks;
  • IEL instruments cannot internalize the rule of law issues that exist separately in the Global North countries and the Global South countries. While in the Global North regions, the issue is more related to the influence of corporatism over the corrosion of the geographic and civilizational originality of the regions, the Global South faces economic and skill issues at large. Immigration, excess volunteerism, and too much financial stimulus to the Global South countries granted by developed countries sometimes turns out to be in contradiction with any possible chance that a cost-benefit analysis must have been done or the same might be a debt trap;
  • Internationalization of liabilities does not help out in ecological issues, because in private international law, countries stay in disagreements & the nature of disagreements differ a lot in the Global North and Global South regions;
  • The post-modern approach of international environmental law cannot be based on climate activism, extreme veganism, and cultural Marxism. If radical legal principles are made and implemented, then it would not be just some top-to-down approach imposed on indigenous economies, but it would also not support the cause of IEL, leading to its bitter collapse, which is possible even in the case of multilateral bodies such as the IPCC, WHO, and UNICEF;

The Indic worldview therefore at an international level, can be based on these following underpinnings:

  1. Foreign Relations and Eco-diplomacy;
  2. Internalizing economic liberties;
  3. Prevent hyphenation of environment policies and ideological manifestos;

Foreign Relations and Policy issues define but not enforce the peremptory norms of IEL. Therefore, a smooth transformation of IEL can be based on by seeking the diversification and lubrication of implementation mechanisms in various countries. There cannot be globalized approaches to appropriate ecological solutions. Sustainability can be based on the autonomy of profit and trust, therefore protecting economic liberties, and harmonizing the environment. The internalization of economic liberties is another interesting reality that can be met through glocalization. We must remember that China used glocalization to uplift the middle class under Den Xiaoping. The problem with the current establishment under Xi Jinping is that his BRI project and the string of pearls renders debt trap and hostage diplomacy. However, it does not support any generic benefit to the Chinese people because the Chinese Communist Party has lost the cultural-geographic capabilities of the Chinese state due to its socialist policies. Cashing support does not mean you can cause development schemes that can pay you back. This is the reason why the CCP has to face the middle-income trap, which they can never overcome until 20-30 years or maybe more. India’s glocalization therefore must not be sensitive, but conscious – so that at communitarian levels, judicial overreach is avoided and better anthropological interpretations are done to serve both ecological and economic causes. Mainstreaming economics is one of the failures of American capitalism, and it must be taken into consideration anyways.

The hyphenation of environment policies and ideological manifestos is not helpful for the jurisprudential development of international law and politics. No jurist can define top-to-down policies, which cannot serve proper and realistic causes. The best examples can be taken from the Kyoto Protocol, which again lacks implementation, and enforces standards. In most of the cases, the focus on the equality of outcome is given. In reality, the equality of opportunity is lost the most. Indian civilization has the inalienable right to earn some equality of opportunity, which must be internalized and free. If at a civilizational level, equality of opportunity is granted, then it is for sure that solutions to fix international environmental law are not far trodden.


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