Thursday, 11 August, 2022

‘The Other’ of Sustainability

Dr. Engr. Khandaker D Islam


The effect and impression of sustainability throughout the globe is simultaneously serious and comic for it has been seen and understood differently by different parts of the earth partly because of the reason that the way of seeing and understanding and then expressing its true meaning from one’s perspective is not a good fit for the others. As a result, there is no cumulative theorised and generic effect of sustainability. This most buzzing term in the recent era of time can be well interpreted by the analogy of an example. It is that western civilisation is often represented by some group of thinkers as stressful, brutal, emotionless, consuming, and of course dehumanising, whereas the other part sees it as a source of authenticity, spiritualised humanity, and something very close to the nature. Which part of the thinker is correct? And what actually western civilisation is? This is of course an unanswerable question. They often come up with some ground-breaking works, only they claim of course, but they lack in going inside of us and fail to read our mind. In the same way, sustainability and its thinking worldwide have given us a distinction in terms of a given conviction, especially for those westerners who usually do not take criticism lightly.

It has been seen that those minds employed with true love for the whole humankind are deeply critical of the action the so-called westerners have so far taken for us. In the light of true comprehension of our need in sustainable development, for example, in the energy sector in particular and speaking the truth in all spaces we have at our hand, they always have a shadow of a unified theory of everything. This is meaninglessly a bewildering claim from their part. The west could not prove themselves to be for the globally local commoners with the shape of so-called civilisation they made. Their altruism, being vague and shadowy, is often contaminated with fiction and false hope. Their response to the sustainability of creating peaceful earth for ‘all and sundry' is a myth. Let’s cut a piece of history in this regard. This may sound uncalled for because too many associations of ideas may distract the track of thinking. However, one of the most horrific massacres of Indian subcontinent was carried out by soldiers of the British Raj led by General Reginald Dyer who opened fire at will on a gathering of unarmed men, women, and children at Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, Punjab  killing nearly 400, and leaving no other choice but with another 1,200 wounded. This very Dyer was awarded a cumulative amount of 26,000 bucks on coming back to his homeland after he was removed from his command by the British government after the incident. Now one may ask what will be the connection of sustainability issues with this kind of historic event. Its answer cannot be made possible like the way a school-goer solves an arithmetic problem, rather it is a matter of deep perception. The west is in general remorseless of their action. In general, their idea of taking action for us strikes horror to our fate - our local and regional political fate I am meaning. They are sought to be never honest enough for acknowledging it. Their idea is neither virgin; it is most of the time borrowed but in vogue in their name, nor it is precise and accurate. Emanating their idea of the promulgation of sustainability is vulgar, many times, in many ways. I now must be saying that whatever the rights and the wrong the questions I made, maybe it has significant importance in terms of political, economic, and psychological interest. It is not just a peripheral to that so-called west-wise argument. This is ours too. Have we ever noticed their mentality, motive and idea of the third world? They always are prone to think like that we cannot help doing with anything but them. Subsequently then formed colonialism, and now the same thing emerging in a new name—   globalization, the same old wine in a furnished new bottle. Now that we realise this to be a western myth, delusion and fallacy, we have the share and right to define our own argument. Now, who this ‘we’ are? This is important to define. We are those billions that have been made out of the bridge that might carry us safely to form a true right upon everything that the west has. Even a beggar tramping and vagabonding in the street of that very west is not devoid of it. They are equally a part of it.


From the facts regarding sustainability, let’s talk about the global phenomena of energy transition policy, in a broader manner, the policy in the energy and environment sector; if it be a fact, we have to find a way to describe a faithful and reliable set of policy for proper action, either overtly or covertly. We have to undergo such experience envisaged for finding policies for sustainable energy and environment sector in local (for example country like Bangladesh), regional (for example SAARC/ ASEAN, etc.) or global manner which may be able to supersede the existing fossil fuel-based policies. It will work with a number of disciplines that relate to the respective sectors so as to understand the problems, barriers, and also the proponents that naturally affect the energy transition process explaining how to arrive at the strategic development analysed in relation to the current national or regional integrated energy policies in order to identify the relevance of sector-specific plans in the sector. Our own policy for sustainable development will include the investigation as well as the evaluation of existing national/global level plans, related policies, and strategy documents for the development of sustainability in the energy and environment sector.

A proper sustainable approach for policy study is to understand properly the energy issues, then find ways to work on policies that will be effective for building a sustainable energy sector. Energy policy, in particular, for renewable power and its proper implementation, has to be the primary challenge for those billions I was talking about. The reason for this is that they cannot be generalised. We need to be looking in advance in order that our national and regional goals may be met giving priorities for a sustainable energy transition that will embody resiliency, reliability, low power price, and environmental safety. This will form how the country or region might be capable of energy with alternative sources of power. The inter-government withinside has actually given topmost precedence to the energy sector and has organised short-, medium- and long-term energy plans through the usage of gas, coal, nuclear and renewable power resources. Other than the government, some non-profit national and global agencies can be well enough in operating on diverse problems with the energy transition system and minimising carbon emissions from the energy sector. This will have to significantly value the future scopes of clean energy technology adoption in the energy and environment sector which will be operating for the sustainable generation, transmission, and distribution of both conventional and renewable energy sources. Nobody from the west is going to build us in the way we actually require. We ourselves should feel privileged to accompany our own policies.


By far the policy is founded on the presumption of a resemblance between the demand the west feels for their own kind of achievable and our entitlement of assumption. We have been introduced to the wrong and, at the same time, we have been enticed with the right philosophy. But the western policy for sustainability is being made for an imagined community, not for a true entity like us. The way in which they relate to a large number of people we cannot actually know by face or by identity, but yet we know them, is believed to be given a common share of rights. This is a western malady. Their thinking, they will claim, is politically correct for they impose such language which in general does not contain any kind of educational, racial, cultural or gender prejudice. This type of thought is sort of schizophrenic for they experience by themselves multiple personalities. They do not think of themselves to be a different entity, yet they form different characteristics. This is nothing but orientalism— a supernatural mode of thinking the west is convinced of their own superiority, studies, and produces the knowledge of the east. They have emerged as ‘the other’, simple thinking we can have like a definition of who and what they are not. They are not like us. But strange is the thinking like this that we all are human being in the sense that we share the same earth with the same wind, with different textures of complexity and mystery of the nature of it.

The more the world has gone too far to work for human rights, the more it has initiated a devastating binary opposition, an unsustained judgmental way of dividing the world into black and white, you and us, east and west, etc. And this often embodies stereotyped hostility among ourselves. The so-called ‘powerful’ west is genuinely truly global in the operation of their policy promulgation in the sense that only they will enjoy the lion’s share of economic growth. They will have no national ‘home’ and they will be operating the globe from anywhere. We understand that things are happening like this as long as we are not certain that we are really uncertain to our judgment.  

We require a very truly positive and respectful pursuit from the west. A modification of their thinking upon which their ideas are based may in the future be able to be instantiated by our positive impressions through which it may accommodate those modifications. Also, a matter of fact is that, either intuitively or demonstratively, unless being purely conceptually understanding, it will restrict us to perceive their ideas. We ourselves have to begin with those ideas of how quickly we may arrive at those west thoughts on sustainable issues without giving too superficial fragrance of display of our effort.


The writer is an Assistant Professor, Royal University of Bhutan