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After Bandung: Marxism’s exit from the Third World

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On 18 April, exactly 65 years ago, the Bandung Conference took place with the participation of 29 countries, almost all of them ex-colonies. This is the first in a series of essays examining the Conference, the Non-Aligned Movement, and their eventual dissolution.

By Uditha Devapriya

The postmodernist intellectuals of continental Europe who grew up adulating Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin had, by the time they left university and become policymakers or thinkers (or both), grown cynical of them. Ernest Mandel characterised the post-World War II order as ‘late capitalist’. I make this point because it’s futile to deny the parallels between the intellectual trajectory of postmodernist movement and the path capitalism took during this period. That link, as it stands, is essential to any critique of postmodernism.

Postmodernists, especially Foucault, Baudrillard, and Lyotard, gradually came to believe in the futility of political confrontation, and substituted notions of discourse and hegemony – the latter ‘borrowed’ from Gramsci – for the more fundamental dynamic of labour and class relations, which, after all, is what Marxism is supposed to be about. Frederic Jameson’s famous description of postmodernism as “the cultural logic of late capitalism” must be seen in this light; in shying away from political confrontation, he argued, it had succeeded in abdicating from its rightful task and sustaining the status quo.

Jameson wasn’t alone. Terry Eagleton and Christopher Norris made the same critique, from a different perspective. So did Ihab Hassan, Immanuel Wallerstein, Jurgen Habermas, Samir Amin, Andre Gunder Frank, and Aijaz Ahmad. Samir Amin and Gunder Frank, while basically disagreeing with one another, agreed that postmodernism, under the pretext of offering an alternative to Marxism, cut off the debate over disparities of wealth, income, and power from its working class, economic roots. Particularly in the Third World.

Aijaz Ahmad wrote of the emergence of a new intellectual movement, among Third World émigrés in the West, which “continued to call itself a formation of the left” while removing itself from the labour movement and at the same time invoking “an anti-bourgeois stance.” For Ahmad, this movement, an outcome of the continuous pummelling of anti-imperialist thought by the political right in the West, got propped up in the name of similar movements like anti-empiricism, structuralism, and post-structuralism. This critique of postmodernism, the most relevant yet to the Third World, continues to be made even today. But for every such critic and critique, there is always a fellow traveller.

Edward Said adopted Foucault’s notion of ‘discourse’ as the foundation for his critique of orientalism. As much as I am inclined to believe in what Orientalism talks about, at times Said comes across as an anti-ideological intellectual who finds in the very discussion of the orient by Westerners their supposedly condescending attitude to the East. As Irfan Habib, no opponent of Said, once asserted, “Said’s concept of ‘orientalism’ is both far too general and far too restricted,” general since it can cover anyone who professes to talk and write on the topic, and restricted since by doing so, it excludes the possibility of discussion about the orient by Westerners who are not Orientalists.

However, my critique of Orientalism, and Said’s name-calling, goes much deeper than that. My issue with Orientalism is that Said conflates Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami, both neo-conservatives who supported Bush’s crusades in the Middle East, with Karl Marx, the latter “dismissed in the book as another orientalist.” I have my take on how Marxists, particularly European Marxists, viewed the problems of the Third World. They were, to be sure, Eurocentric, and fundamentally of the belief that ex-colonies required bourgeois democratic revolutions; a grave misreading of the ground reality, given the inability of bourgeois elites in ex-colonies to carry forward any such revolution even within the framework of a Non-Aligned Movement.

Said’s reading of Marx’s position on India, though, does not follow this critique, or even reproduce it. Instead he suggests that Marx, like the orientalists he targets, ‘otherised’ the people of the Third World with his argument that colonialism sped up the destruction of feudalism; in essence, that India needed Britain to help destroy its superstitions and feudal practices, just as Iraq, in the eyes of Lewis and Ajami, needed Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to escape the clutches of a brutal quasi-medieval dictatorship.

The point I’m trying to make is that Said, while offering a radical reading of how politics, economics, literature, and art and culture, (the latter’s impact on Orientalism explored in greater depth 15 years later in Culture and Imperialism), shape the First World’s view of the Third, turns the tables on Marxism itself. He doesn’t do so from the vantage point of Left theorists like Amin and Gunder Frank. He does so from the vantage point of postmodernism: Foucault and his notion of discourse, which writes off all “grand narratives” as domineering, and writes off Marxism since, like capitalism, it domineers.

Amin and Gunder Frank didn’t turn Marxism on its head as much as critique communist theorists for misunderstanding the ground situation in the Third World, especially in their support for the Non-Aligned Movement (read, in particular, Amin’s essay “The Bourgeois National Project in the Third World”). Yet they were critical of postmodernists also, whom they saw in the same light vis-à-vis Jameson, Eagleton, and Norris. I believe their rebuttal of the movement offers us a nuanced reading of it that can help us understand, more clearly, how it came to subsume the Marxist movement in the Third World.

Historically, postmodernism has viewed Marxism as part and parcel of the Enlightenment. It regards the Enlightenment, not as an emancipatory movement, but as a restrictive ideology which bound everyone to a rational worldview. What flows from that line of thinking is the claim that Marxism originated from the same Western Judeo-Christian worldview capitalism had: both, after all, happened to be driven by “the hubris of dedication to man’s mastery over nature” (Regi Siriwardena). This observation, sceptical as it is of the ‘internationalist’ character of Marxism, is made by rightwing ethno-nationalists as well.

Thus the most typical and frequently invoked critique of Marxism by the postmodernists is that it belongs in the same vein as bourgeois thought to the Enlightenment. A corollary of that critique is that Marxism reduces everything to class struggle; communism and socialism are therefore indicted as assuming that everything falls down to class relations. I disagree with such a stereotype: as Jason Schulman once pointed out, “for Marx the fundamental human category is not class struggle, but labour.” Indeed, I’d go further than Schulman and say that the fundamental human category for Marx is neither class struggle nor labour, but production, “the basis of social order” according to Marx and Engels.

But valid as this counter-response is, it still doesn’t resolve another complaint: that Marxism rationalises everything in economic terms. Postmodernists contend that this underlies its quintessential flaw: its rigidly economistic interpretation of history, which views all societal arrangements through the prism of material relations.

The flaw is followed by a contradiction: to topple a social order and the basis for it, power has to pass from the top of society to its bottom.

Yet the transition can only be carried out through a bourgeois revolution, by the bourgeoisie at the top. This orthodox Marxist reading of history lured much of the Third World, including Egypt and, to a certain extent, Sri Lanka, which explains why, in part at least, the Non-Aligned Movement failed: much of the Third World that emerged from Bandung 1955 happened to be led by the same nationalist elites who later contributed to the deterioration of their countries, and of NAM, due to their inability to take the revolution in their streets beyond the bourgeois-democratic stage.

Liberating and progressive as they were, towards the end of their terms, leaders like Nasser had become adamantly opposed to the incorporation of radical Left elements. In Sri Lanka this culminated in the expulsion of the Trotskyist LSSP in 1975 (the same year the Group of 77 supported New International Economic Order attempted, and failed, to integrate the Third World into the global economy) and the entrenchment of the right wing of the SLFP, leading to their defeat by the UNP in 1977. As with Sri Lanka, so with Egypt: the dissolution of Communist parties in 1965 was followed two years later by the catastrophic defeat of the June war. By 1982, with Mexico’s debt default, NAM had more or less unravelled; with much prescience could J. R. Jayewardene thus declare, at the 1979 Havana Summit, that the only nonaligned countries in the world were “the United States and the Soviet Union.”

Development economists, theorising against the backdrop of the Third World debt crisis and the ‘triumph’ of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism, as well as the collapse of the Non-Aligned Movement, thought they had the solution to this problem. They reasoned that the intelligentsia, as opposed to the elite, should be tasked with ‘delinking’ underdeveloped countries from the clutches of capitalism. In their opinion the rulers had failed, miserably (“the regimes were nothing but bourgeois,” wrote Samir Amin); the time had come for the baton to pass from them to the professors.

Later events confirmed that this solution turned out to be more flawed than the one they chose to discard. Why? Their solution was rooted in a critique of capitalism that first had to lay bare its contradictions and then transcend it. “The critique,” Samir Amin emphasised, “is meaningless unless it sharpens our awareness of the limitations of bourgeois thought.” But the intelligentsia on whom this task fell, at the time Amin wrote his prognosis, had changed, and its capacity to take on that task of critiquing the capitalist framework, and transcending it, had diminished. Just as the professors no longer adhered to orthodox Marxism, they also no longer opposed globalisation. There’s no other reason why the dependenistas, as Gunder Frank and Amin were called, failed in their project than this.

To understand why and how, it’s necessary to go back. Throughout the 1960s, Third World immigration to the West swelled considerably. This happened to transpire at the peak of the Bandung Project, when much of the nonaligned world as Fouad Ajami later put it seemed buoyed by the “enthusiasm of youth.” Ajami himself soon made his way to Western citadels of learning; so did Ranajit Guha, and so did Edward Said.

Because of that intellectual shift, the 1970s became a productive period for studies of the Left, feminism, and development in the Third World. Gunder Frank and Samir Amin were at the forefront here, along with George Beckford (Persistent Poverty), Eduardo Galeano (Open Veins of Latin America), Gordon K. Lewis (The Growth of the Modern West Indies), Eric Williams (From Columbus to Castro: The History of the Caribbean), and Kumari Jayawardena (The Rise of the Labour Movement in Ceylon). S. B. D. de Silva spent the better part of the decade collecting his thoughts for the most perceptive analysis of Sri Lanka’s economy ever written: The Political Economy of Underdevelopment, first published in 1982.

As Aijaz Ahmad correctly observed, many of these academics hailed from the upper classes of their societies. They would have cut a poor figure in the West, but back home they were eagerly sought after as experts by their governments for the formulation of economic and foreign policy, against the backdrop of a rising New Third World. (NAM was yet to enter its twilight years.) Most of these émigré intellectuals managed, in their new role as Third World policymakers, to escape their largely non-working class social background. Many could not. This paradox, between their social class and their status as Third World intellectuals, did not come out into the open just yet.

But then the 1970s would give way to the 1980s. That decade saw the resurgence of neo-liberalism in the person of Thatcher, Reagan, and before them, J. R. Jayewardene of Sri Lanka. In much of the Third World, the transition to ‘free markets’ invariably accompanied brutal centralisations of power by the political Right as well as assaults on the Left (including on trade unions, as seen in July 1980 in Colombo), and, concurrently, the rise of a parallel non-state sector; I call the latter ‘civil society’ in deference to a classification favoured by most scholars. Émigré intellectuals, some of whom had worked in the public sector, now found their place in the sun in that non-state sector.

Accompanying all this was the rise of an alternative non-Marxist discourse, fuelled in part by these émigrés from the West who were now writing on orientalism (Said), Islamism (Ajami), and subalterns (Guha). While not giving up on their Marxist roots, many of these émigrés repudiated – sometimes rightly, often wrongly – the tenets of Marxism. Some, like Ajami, sold themselves out to neo-cons, becoming what Adam Shatz of The Nation calls “the native informant.” Others, like Said, tried to achieve a balancing act, veering away from Ajami’s pro-Western polemics and from fundamentalist groups which would gain prominence after the 1980s. These three ideological formations – neo-conservatism (Ajami), post-Marxist humanism (Said), and cultural revivalism – soon began to brandish swords at one another; no common ground ever brought them together thereafter.

Save, of course, for one: their sidelining of Marxism.

The intrusion of postmodernism in the Third World can thus be viewed in the same light as the resurgence of nationalism on the one hand and the triumph of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism on the other, given their mutual aversion to the Left. The dismissal of Marxism by Third World émigré intellectuals can be considered, in that sense, as having facilitated the rise of anti-Marxist nationalist as well as post-Marxist postmodernist groups throughout much of this part of the world, particularly in Africa and South Asia.

Certainly, it is one of the ironies of history that the same anti-Marxist discourse which gave birth to communal-nationalist outfits could also, later, give birth to post-Marxist intellectual movements opposed to them. These have become, to borrow that memorable but worn out cliché, two sides of the same coin, or the same sword. The triumph of postmodernism in the Third World today has hence led to both sides – civil society and ethno-nationalists – gaining at the cost of the most progressive ideology we have ever come up with: Marxism. I called this one of history’s ironies. It is also, most certainly, one of its tragedies.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

 



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Sat Mag

Notes on a not-so radical class

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By Uditha Devapriya

A little over a year ago, Devani Jayathilaka, the Gampaha Division Wildlife Officer now on a crusade against the government, stood up to a State Minister and got away with it. Objecting to Sanath Nishantha’s proposal to build a children’s playground on forest land, she stood her ground even as the Minister and his acolytes attempted to intimidate her.

Videos of Devani retorting to Nishantha and those acolytes gained supporters across social media. Public opinion being very much with her, the government quickly began feting her: Bandula Gunawardena said that the Cabinet took her side, and S. M. Chandrasena regretted the incident while half-heartedly exonerating the Minister.

Devani Jayathilaka’s courage was seen at the time as a symptom of the President’s resolve to make the bureaucracy more independent and efficient, free of bias and politicisation. As such, supporters of the government jumped on the bandwagon. The Daily News dedicated an entire editorial to her, calling her “the toast of all environmentalists, nature lovers and generally all those who cherish our country’s legal and constitutional integrity.” Hopefully, the laudatory piece concluded, “this signal act… will be a beacon to others in the public service to do their bit in fulfilling their public duty while resisting the pressures of politicians.” The subtext was unmistakably clear: the President’s reformism had empowered the officer’s activism.

A year later, and here we are: the premature love affair aborted, the feeling of celebration dampened. Yet could one have expected otherwise? At no point here in living memory have environmental concerns permeated every layer of society, from Colombo’s civil society to Sinhala nationalist outfits, as they are now. A broad conjuncture of oppositional forces, some drawn from organisations that fuelled the ideology which brought the government to power (such as the Sinhale movement), has pitted itself against that government’s apathy over the environment, while social media continues to enthrone activists: environmentalists and state officials. The President’s men, meanwhile, seem to be resorting to a policy of either ignoring or retorting to these voices. In both cases, it’s the government that has lost out.

It is hard not to side with the activists. They have a point: no regime has engaged properly with the environment. Between 2017 and 2019, forest cover reduced from 29.7% to 16.5%. It was the yahapalana government, remnants of which are tweeting against the present regime’s environmental record now, that held

the reins of power then. Yet the administration before it was no different: in 2012, to give just one example, roughly 1,585 hectares of primary forest land were lost, the biggest annual loss in a decade. The numbers for 2020 and 2021 have not been released yet, but there’s no doubting they are as big as, if not bigger than, these figures; according to the Rain Forest Protectors of Sri Lanka, forest cover stands at 17%, above what it was in 2019, but well below the 30% promised by the president.

The politics of the campaigns against the government, however, goes well beyond a simple dichotomy between political representatives and wildlife activists. Frustratingly enough, it’s not easy to put a finger on the dynamics of these protests, to draw a line between protagonists and antagonists within them, not least of all because a simple twofold division – government versus us – has been replaced by a threefold one in them: the government (high level officials included) on one side, activists and officials on another, and us on yet another.

Led by a mostly Sinhala and Buddhist lower middle-class, including the clergy (no less than the Sinhala Ravaya), these campaigns, which have mobilised activists and officials, appear to have unearthed a rather interesting contradiction from within that middle-class: a distrust of political representatives, and an ambivalent attitude towards lower level officials. To identify this contradiction for what it is, and explore it, is not easy: that requires research, the mettle of an anthropologist or ethnographer, and I am neither. Yet from what little I have been able to gather, it appears that this recent spurt of activism has facilitated a shift in the character of anti-state activism, particularly in its class composition. How so?

Devani’s message resonates profoundly with a section of the country’s upward aspiring middle-class, educated mostly in Sinhala but idealising a better life: one to which they feel both government representatives and private interests are obstacles.

They hold contrasting views regarding the state. As far as the government proper – Ministers plus high level officials – is concerned, they are against it. It’s a different story with officials, not least because of the latter a great many hail from the milieu they do: Sinhala educated and upward aspiring. This is the demographic Patali Champika Ranawaka is targeting through his “43 Senankaya”, a demographic parties have not tried to court until fairly recently.

What explains their relationship with the state? Regarding government representatives, their opposition is easy to rationalise: most of these representatives are seen to have risen to where they are now by foul means, not fair. That irks an educated middle-class bereft of political or economic power; simply put, they feel hard done by, left out, unrepresented.

Such feelings of distrust cut through parties; indeed, a defining characteristic of the middle-class is the absence of a unifying political ideology. Any Opposition which believes that by coming to power on the strength of their convictions it can expect support from them forever is therefore walking on water, for this lower middle-class happens to be adamantly protean. It is their protean character, incidentally, that explains their response to state officials.

Their view of the latter is borne out by two main considerations: that they hail from the same class background, and that, since of late, these officials have taken up arms against political authorities, a group whose actions are seen as burdening the lower middle-class.

Indeed, far from berating officials like they berate political authorities, the lower middle-class rebelling against the regime share a desire to enter the bureaucracy as either professionals or administrators, though through education attainment, and not political backing. This desire is essentially a retread of the demand made by unemployed graduates: they want to fill a post in a state institution as soon as they leave university. Under Gotabaya Rajapaka their integration into the bureaucracy has been remarkably rapid: by September last year, for instance, around 60,000 graduates had been absorbed into the Public Service, as part of his “Rata Wenuwen Weda” programme. Yet even this rather modest realisation of lower middle-class aspirations has failed to dampen, or stunt, lower middle-class opposition to his government.

To sum up, what we are seeing here is a division between state officials, assumed to have entered the government through merit, and political representatives, assumed to have entered it through influence. That Devani Jayathilaka continues to be idealised by this class therefore points at the consolidation of a uniquely petty bourgeois consciousness, which at once aspires upward in the bureaucracy, and pits itself against the government overseeing the bureaucracy. Gravitating to meritocratic ideals, they have become a huge floating electorate.

This raises another point: their disavowal of party politics. Let’s not mistake karawala for mallum here, however; the line this milieu touts, that they lack party ideology, should not mislead one into thinking that they can’t be co-opted into any party ideology. For those who believe that a non-political middle-class rebelling against an elected government, even one infringing every other norm in the book, is incapable of political manoeuvring, the case of Anna Hazare offers a counterargument: opposed to political groups, what Hazare achieved in the end was an electoral landslide for just such a group, Narendra Modi’s BJP.

By no means am I saying that Anna Hazare was/is to India what officials crusading against political representatives are/will be to Sri Lanka. Yet not unlike Hazare, these officials have given what little of an Opposition that’s there in the country some much needed ammunition (with which to topple the government). Far from welcoming such a state of affairs, I see two problems with this: the lack of a proper policy on the environment from the Opposition (apart from a few perfunctory protests), and the risk of letting what environmentalists are combating continue under a future administration led by that Opposition. As environmentalists and Left activists have pointed out only too clearly, much of what is being protested against, including the Sinharaja debacle, can be traced back to the yahapalana period. How wise would it be to trust the party that held the cards then so much as to return them to power now?

To these two problems one can add a third: the contradiction between the social conditioning and the activism of the middle-class. That contradiction translates itself into another: between political ideals that pit this middle-class against political authority, and social aspirations that orient them towards personal achievement in education and employment.

One can ask why this is a problem, why it’s so problematic. In matters of political concern, so the idealists say, personal matters are of no relevance.

But that’s precisely the issue. How pertinent are one’s personal aspirations to one’s political inclinations? Not pertinent, some would say; pretty pertinent, in my book.

That leads us to a crucial issue, the most important to crop up from what we’re seeing today: the extent to which those leading the protests are willing to own up to how class aspirations, and not just state complicity, have contributed to environmental degradation.

Let me reduce this to a simple query: how much do you attribute everything wrong with the environment to the government’s doing and non-doing, and how much do you attribute it to, say, our propensity to import, a major factor in environmental degradation?

To be fair, of course, it’s not only imports. The truth is that degradation of the environment is linked inextricably to an economic model rooted in consumerism and urbanisation.

But that merely reinforces my point: consumerism is promoted by the private sector, and urbanisation by the public, because both have an audience: the same middle-class blaming the government for what’s happening to our forests, our rivers, our way of life.

To restate this as simply as I can, then, the problems of environmental degradation today are the result of a decades-long experiment with capitalism and neoliberalism that has failed. The crisis is thus a crisis of a consumerist and exploitative model based on a capitalist framework. Now no critique of what is happening to our forests can evolve without taking this model into consideration. As perhaps its biggest beneficiaries, the middle-class must hence recognise the need to formulate an alternative model to it, in line with their activist inclinations.

However, in continuing to ignore if not marginalise this need, those taking the government to task over the environment are offering an inadequate response, radical enough to question the regime for its failings, yet not radical enough to question our embracement of an acquisitive, consumption-led economic model that has contributed to the quagmire we are in. Now I hate gazing into crystal balls, but if this is what will continue in the future, then these protests, no matter how laudable, will someday, somehow, fizzle out. That would be a pity.

The writer can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com

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Sat Mag

CELEBRATING EARTH DAY: THE VOICE OF THE NEXT GENERATION

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Our world needs transformational change, and it is time for us, those of the present generation to hold ourselves accountable for our role in the environmental crisis while also calling for bold, creative, and innovative solutions. This year marks the 51st anniversary of Earth Day and this Webinar is designed to commemorate the occasion and to support the worldwide efforts to conserve and revitalize the environment of the blue planet that is our home. If we are to succeed, we must listen to the children who will link hands from around the world during this webinar and voice their concerns and ideas to preserve a pristine environment for their generation.

This is the 17th of a series of virtual zoom panel discussions hosted by the America-Sri Lanka Photographic Art Society in Los Angeles California, USA (ASPAS); Member of Photographic Society of America (PSA) and The International Federation of Photography of Art in France (FIAP). The objective of the series is to showcase the beauty of world fauna and flora and promote environmental conservation in the context of nature photography and tourism, with a special focus on the grandeur of Sri Lanka’s natural habitat. The upcoming programme will commemorate World Earth Day 2021.

At a previous ASPAS Webinar, Dr. Peter H. Sand, former Secretary-General of ICUN, stated, “Pandemics, such as coronavirus, are the result of humanity’s destruction of nature, the illegal and unsustainable wildlife trade, as well as the devastation of forests and other wild places, are the driving force behind the increasing number of diseases leaping from wildlife to humans.” The ASPAS Webinars are intended to offer a platform to discuss a more balanced relationship with these ecosystems and the tools that can help us reach this objective, so that future generations can continue to enjoy and benefit from them sustainably and responsibly.

Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970 which gave voice to an emerging public consciousness about the state of our planet. Our planet is an amazing place, but it needs our help to thrive! That is why each year on April 22, more than a billion people celebrate Earth Day to protect the planet from pollution and deforestation and environment related issues. By taking part in activities like picking up litter and planting trees, we are making our world a happier, healthier place to live.

In the decades leading up to the first Earth Day, the world was consuming vast amounts of leaded gas through massive and inefficient automobiles. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of the consequences from either the law or the press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Until this point, the world remained largely oblivious to environmental concerns and how a polluted environment threatens human health. Since, the great challenge for the environmental community is to combat the cynicism of climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent policy makers, and a disinterested public. In the face of these challenges, Earth Day prevailed and established itself as a major movement for global action for the environment.

Over the decades, it has brought hundreds of millions of people into the environmental movement, creating opportunities for civic engagement and volunteers in 193 countries. Earth Day engages more than 1 billion people every year and has become a major steppingstone along the pathway of engagement around the protection of the planet.

Now, the fight for a clean environment continues with increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more and more apparent every day. As the awareness of our climate crisis grows, so does civil society mobilization, which is reaching a fever pitch across the globe today. Digital and social media are bringing these conversations, protests, strikes and mobilizations to a global audience, uniting a concerned citizenry as never before and mobilizing generations to join together to take on the greatest challenge that humankind has faced.

It is quite apparent that the youth of our world should also be engaged in this vital conversation as an absolutely indispensable partner.

Governments have recognized this for decades and many have introduced some level of climate and environmental education into their education systems. But the truth is that impact of climate and environmental education is in some cases week, cursory, and still in many countries non-existent. In the decades since the launch of the global environmental movement, it is estimated that more than 3 billion young people have graduated from high school having learned little or nothing about one of the greatest issues that will shape their lives and their livelihoods for decades to come.

The time is now, indeed it is long overdue, for a massive environmental literacy campaign that can create a generation of citizens, workers and leaders who really understand why and how to stop climate change and environmental degradation, ensuring that every student around the world completes their formal education as an environmental and climate literate citizen. A citizen who is ready to take action and speak up for change and build knowledge and skills for the growing green sector of clean energy, efficient transportation, sustainable business and making themselves competitive for new jobs.

The youth must also equip themselves with the knowledge and skills needed to build a better future and be stewards of this planet. They must learn that to sustain a functional society and economy, natural resources must be used wisely and efficiently while protecting the ecological systems to ensure clean air, clean water, and food security for all.

But just as vitally, we need to equip future generations with the knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm to survive and indeed thrive in the decades to come. And that begins in school. Even world leaders recognized that pivotal role as far back as 30 years, when the countries that forged the original United Nations climate change treaty in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit enshrined climate education as an essential part of a national response to a global emergency.

Educationists believe every school in the world must have compulsory, assessed climate and environmental education with a strong civic engagement component. They have also pointed out that the onus for developing environmental consciousness in youth could not be the sole responsibility of schools as the young people need the help of adult allies. There is a role for everyone, parents, relatives, and society to support youth voices and stand alongside them.

It is in that spirit that the America-Sri Lanka Photohtaphic Art Society Los Angeles, led by its President, Suriya Jayalath Perera, has organized this Webinar to bring together 10 young people from the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Sri Lanka to voice their concerns and present their ideas on the occasion of Earth Day 2021. Youth from ages six to 18, will address the entire gamut of environmental issues from climate change to plastic pollution. It would be a truly ground-breaking event, and you can be a part of it by virtually joining them on Sunday April 18th, 2021. The webinar will be moderated by Medini Ratnayake.

More Information: www.usacaaspas.com

Join us live on Sunday April 18th, at 8.30 P.M. 2021 https://www.facebook.com/aspaslausa/live Nandasiri (Nandi) Jasentuliyana, Former Deputy Director-General, United Nations

 

 

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Sat Mag

How to flush cholesterol out of your body

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Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in all the cells in your body. Your body needs cholesterol to make hormones, vitamin D, and substances that help you digest foods. Your liver makes all the cholesterol you need. The cholesterol in your body that you do not need comes from animal bodies.

If you have more cholesterol in your body than you need, then you are heading for heart disease and heart attacks. A build-up of cholesterol narrows arteries, causing a restriction of blood flow to the heart. Very often a person with high cholesterol levels has no symptoms until he has his first heart attack.

This is even more problematic if you are overweight – which you will be, because the food that causes an increase in cholesterol also increases your weight. Though some cholesterol components are stored in the liver and gallbladder, the main storage area is in fat cells called adipocytes. When you have too much cholesterol, these cells swell up and you gain weight. Too much cholesterol can be caused by eating too much fat or carbohydrates.

 

There are two types of cholesterol: HDL and LDL

High density lipoprotein (HDL) is good cholesterol which protects you from hearts attacks, and strokes, by mopping up excess bad cholesterol. It takes the cholesterol that you don’t need back to the liver. The liver breaks it down so it can be passed out of your body. LDL is bad cholesterol. This blocks the blood supply and causes strokes and heart attacks. Non-HDL take cholesterol from the liver to the cells around your body. Too much bad cholesterol (non-HDL) can be harmful because it sticks to the inside walls of your arteries. This can lead to fatty material (atheroma) building up – this process is known as atherosclerosis.

Cholesterol is found in animal foods, meat, milk, butter and cheese.

There are only two things that raise cholesterol in the blood: saturated and trans fats.

Saturated fats are found in meats, dairy products, chocolate, baked goods like biscuits and popcorn, margarine, deep-fried, and processed foods, basically junk food.

Trans fats occur in some fried and processed foods, also in junk food.

In adults, total cholesterol levels less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) are considered healthy. 200 – 239 mg/dL is borderline high. 240 mg/dL and above is high. LDL cholesterol levels should be less than 100 mg/dL.

How do you know that your cholesterol levels are high? You usually don’t. There are no typical signs if you have high cholesterol, which is why it is so important to get it checked. It is a hidden risk factor, which means it happens without us knowing until it is too late. Some people get soft, yellowish, growths or lesions on the skin, especially round the eyes, called xanthomas. If you are lucky you develop left-sided chest pain, pressure, or fullness; dizziness; unsteady gait; slurred speech; or pain in the lower legs. Any of these conditions may be associated with high cholesterol.

How do you flush cholesterol out of your body?

Stop eating meat or drinking milk. Avoid ghee, butter and paneer, and seafood like crabs, shrimps and lobsters. Don’t smoke. Exercise. Eat fewer refined grains such as maida. Foods to avoid if you have high cholesterol levels include white bread, white potatoes, and white rice, highly processed sugars. Fried foods should be avoided, as well as foods high in saturated fats.

Eat fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains, every day.

A report from Harvard Health has identified foods that actively decrease cholesterol levels: Oats, barley and whole grains, beans, eggplant and okra, nuts, vegetable oil (canola, sunflower), fruits (mainly apples, grapes, strawberries, and citrus), soy and soy-based foods. Eating just one and one-half cups of cooked oatmeal a day can lower your cholesterol by 5 to 8%. Oatmeal contains soluble and insoluble fibre – two types that your body needs.

In June 2020 a report, led by Imperial College London Majid Ezzati, et al.​ and involving dozens of universities, “Repositioning of the global epicentre of non-optimal cholesterol” ​was published in Nature. It said that while cholesterol levels have declined in high income countries, particularly Europe, since 1980 , they have increased vastly in lower and middle income countries, with Asia, specially Southeast Asia, now being the centre.

The reason for this is the consumption of animal-based foods, refined carbohydrates (maida) and palm oil. In short, the heart attack and stroke risks have been globally repositioned with the shifting of a high cholesterol diet.

A group of nearly 1,000 researchers, from around the world, analysed data from 1,127 studies comprising 102.6 million adults, to assess global trends in cholesterol levels from 1980 to 2018. This is the largest ever study of global cholesterol levels.

Previously cholesterol was considered a problem in high income Western countries.

The report said that Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland (the centre of the milk/meat diet) and Iceland (meat) had shown the steepest declines in cholesterol, going from the highest to the lowest. There has been a sharp drop in LDL cholesterol in the UK, according to the British Heart Foundation.

China, which had the lowest levels of cholesterol in 1980, was among the highest in 2018. India, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand have not covered themselves in glory either.

In 1980 Australian women ranked 32nd highest in the world in cholesterol levels. Today they are 146th . Australian men have fallen from 31st highest to 116th. 

Dr Avula Laxmaiah, National Institute of Nutrition, one of the authors of the research paper, said LDL cholesterol among Indian men ranked 128th in 1980 and remained the same in 2018.  Women are 139th in the global line-up.

Other conditions, that can lead to high cholesterol levels, include diabetes drugs that increase LDL cholesterol and decrease HDL cholesterol, such as progestins, anabolic steroids, and corticosteroids. India is one of the highest users of steroids – not directly, but through these being fed to chicken.

The authors have suggested that each country in Asia set into place prices, and regulatory policies, that shift diets to non-saturated fats. But, at the end of the day it is not prices that will decide – meat/chicken and milk are already expensive but it doesn’t stop you from eating them. You will have to take a personal decision, depending on how much you value your life or the lives of your family.

(To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)

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