Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Vatavaran: The individual as the locus of change

So the environment film festival called Vatavaran, organized by the Center for Media Studies (CMS) started yesterday. The good thing about living in Delhi is that this kind of thing happens, and regularly. A lot of it is free, which is always an incentive to attend.

The artwork, which has been done by the students of Shriram School is really worth checking out. Theres a crocodile made mostly out of paper mache egg trays, hanging lights made of used CDS and plastic cups, trees made of the little leaf bowls you eat phuchka or chaat out of. The look of the festival, overall, is very hip, and strikes exactly the right note. Its quite clear who the targets of behavior and attitude change are: younger, middle and upper middle class people. As good a place to begin as any.
They (or Oxfam, one of the sponsors) have commissioned a video by Euphoria, and Palash Sen singing about ordinary people joining hands to make a change was the starting moment of the festival. ok video, when you think of the target audience. all the mandatory elements - smiling rajasthani women, smiling rural schoolchildren, smiling farmers -- everything that our urban young may think is out there.

I thought the shindig was beginning at seven, and so, unusually for me, got there at about 650. Unfortunately, the space of time from 7 to 830 was crashingly boring. It was a inaugural ceremony. Have you been to an inaugural ceremony in Delhi lately? Its all about hierarchy. People can't stop talking, mainly about themselves. NO one says, well we're here to see movies on climate change, so lets get on with it, and let the media speak for themselves... oh no, that would be losing an opportunity to hear their own voices, so the most yawningly trite things were said, over and over again by different people. All of who, I am sure, drive very large cars, live in very large houses, and have generally very ecologically harmful lifestyles. So we heard from someone who will represent us at Copenhagen, speaking in a hindi overlaid with amrican accent, the head of HSBC bank, Farooq Abdullah (who, i was both amused and happy to see, took potshots at the American Center person wrt clean technologies the west will not give India at reasonable rates).
The representative from the American center spoke for several minutes, and said nothing you couldn't get, in much more nuanced and sensitive detail, from any picked-at-random issue of Down to Earth magazine. The only original:) advice was that apparently one very powerful way to tackle climate change is through advertising (????). Nevermind.

The single most interesting moment of the inaugural ceremony was when they showed clips from the work of awardee Krishnendu Bose, maker of films on ecology. I've heard only peripherally about his work, and was very impressed by the spliced sample they showed. Needless to say, this very short exposition of his work was cut short so the crashingly boring speeches could go on. But MEM to myself, have to check out his films.

So all that was ok, if somewhat monotonous and way too long. But what i found most interesting was the fact that the entire rhetoric of ALL that was said (and i do mean ALL) was that the individual, read you and me, is the locus of climate change. There was NO (and i mean NONE) mention of the role of large corporations, and only brief references to the role of nations, or implementable legislation.

So you're devastating the planet if you drop a napkin on the road, but the fact that major corporations, supported by the infrastructure of globalization and capital based power are pumping millions of liters/ kilos of the most noxious pollutants into the environment found absolutely no place. The politics of development (and i do mean POLITICS) and how it plays into clearing mile after mile of irreplaceable forest had no mention.
Not that i support dropping napkins on the road, but i do think that in the scale of things, a napkin does less damage than oil corporations and the various pharmaceutical and lumber conglomerates. Not a word was spoken on this subject, in an HOUR AND A HALF OF CONVERSATION DEVOTED TO CLIMATE CHANGE.

Convenient, innit?

And oh, by the way, the movie was great: 'Home' 01.33.00/ English/Yann Arthus-Bertrand/ France. Do watch if you can get a hold of it. Spectacular, and very relevant. They could have shown it twice, instead of having the speeches, it made the point better than all the speakers lined end to end:)

Needless to say, about 20 people watched the film. Everyone else left with the powerful people of the boring speeches.


Sue said...

No wait, my first visit to this place. Didn't you have some other blog earlier?

Anyway, am following. :)

Beq said...

Damn fine. Krishnendu Bose's films looked risky and decidedly NOT safe, which is a fabulous thing. And HOME was a neat summing up of the issue as well as a welcome implication of mean spirited big business. And that guy with the accent isn't going to represent India. He's the head PR -basically- of the UN Governor General.
Ergo, his stupid statements about the motto for Copenhagen being "Seal the Deal".

debo said...

didn't he say things like 'we are are hoping that this will make a huge difference in our country'?
oh, but he used the royal 'we' even when he sneezed, like 'excuse us'. stupid me. Thanks, b:)

debo said...

yeah, 'seal the deal'. moron.