Climate change art opinion
We all need hope. The hope of clean air and not damaging our planet further. Image Credit: Supplied

Did the mourning for Queen Elizabeth the longest reigning monarch in Britain surprise you? Even in India — and we’ve a contested and complicated relationship with Britain as a former British colony — there was both regret and a fascination with royal protocol following her death.

The mile long queues in London to pay their last respects to the Queen were a testament to the fondness her subjects had for her. She reigned but didn’t rule and was a symbol of permanence and continuity in a world most recently battered by a pandemic, which no one could predict.

The Queen was a Rorschach test. You could project anything on to her and she kept smiling and never complained. Queen Elizabeth II perhaps never put a foot wrong in her incredibly long reign.

All of us across the world yearn for the simplicity and continuity she symbolised.

Queen Elizabeth's coffin being carried in Scotland, where she passed away at age 96 Image Credit: AFP

Our covenant with democracy

In a way our covenant with democracy is broken as governments across the world take short term decisions about matters which have fundamental impact.

We watch bewildered as the reality of climate change — with the world hurtling towards insane temperatures and melting permafrost.

We get politics as performative theatre in thrall to transnational corporations.

This summer as temperatures climbed, the universal tragic reality of what we’ve done to our planet dawned on most of us.

I know it did for me as I suffered the sweltering heat in Zermatt in Switzerland without even the recourse to a ceiling fan, forget air conditioning.

Ironically, I had left Delhi in hopes of escaping to cooler climes. I remember thinking in Zermatt that this is the global reality, yet why don’t those in positions of power care?

I came home to the same indifference as Delhi seared and all of us were roasted.

Summer 2022: A worker quenches his thirst next to power lines as a heatwave lashed India's capital New Delhi Image Credit: AP

The great blame game

Political leaders, specially in south East Asia, are united in pretending that climate change is not our reality. While it is the elephant in the room, it is unaddressed. We have all the laws on our statute books but, none are implemented.

As the air in India becomes toxic, we blame other states and farmers, yet our governments across the board don’t throw the rule book in what is actually an emergency. “Strong leadership” is not exercised to make the country safe for our future generations.

Fundamental problems of bijli-sadak-paani (electricity, roads and water) remain unsolved and yet we pretend we have “smart cities”.

The rich who can have virtually built their own republics, can’t remain cocooned anymore as they can generate their own electricity and power backup but, not the common air that we all breathe.

Perhaps this is why we were all affected by the Queen’s passing. She lived her life caring for environment, almost as a rebuke to those of us, who suffer in giant megapolises, completely cut off from nature and its seasons.

The Queen epitomised nurture and care. That’s perhaps why we were affected by the story of her passing. We all need hope.

At least the hope of clean air and not damaging our planet further.