Paul Divakar
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GFoD convener Paul Divakar makes passionate appeal to save India’s CDWD among intense heatwave

Paul Divakar, the convener of the Global Forum on Discrimination, has issued a passionate appeal against the increasing dangers of and how it is leaving 's CDWD with nowhere to go. 

In a story published by Al Jazeera titled: “‘I'm in hell': How rising heat is amplifying India's social divides”, Divakar said the exclusion from welfare on -basis discrimination, or its crisscross with class factors in India is so widespread that “it touches you whether it is the state budgets, development programmes, or a disaster like a heatwave.” 

“It is not only the natural part of the heat but the deliberate situation that we build where people from marginalised backgrounds are not treated as equal citizens. And they are the most vulnerable to this deadly heat,” Divakar, quoted by Al Jazeera, said. 

The Al Jazeera story focused on how the effect of record-breaking heat waves has been disproportionately unequal, reinforcing divides within Indian society along caste and class lines. 

In fast-deteriorating climate conditions, Divakar said the survival of marginalised communities is also stacked against the basic architecture of Indian cities, which have increasingly become segregated in the last decades.

“If we look at the socioeconomic conditions of these communities or how the places have been built, and how much breathing space is between them,” Paul Divakar said. “We can see the difference and the inequality,” he added.

Climate change has increasingly become one of the biggest concerns across the world, and comes under Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13), which aims to combat climate change and its impacts. 

SDG 13 holds significant importance for India, especially considering its vast and diverse workforce. Indian workers, particularly those in agriculture, construction, and informal sectors, are highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, floods, and droughts, can disrupt their livelihoods, reduce productivity, and pose serious health risks. 

For instance, agricultural workers face crop failures and water scarcity, directly impacting their income and food security. Similarly, construction workers, often working in extreme heat without adequate safety measures, are prone to heat-related illnesses. Addressing these challenges requires comprehensive policies that integrate climate resilience into labour practices and protect workers' rights and well-being. 

The Al-Jazeera story profiled the families of those who had lost their loved ones to extreme heat. 

India's commitment to SDG 13 necessitates a multi-faceted approach to support its workforce amidst climate challenges. Enhancing climate education and training programs can equip workers with the skills needed for green jobs, fostering a transition to a more sustainable economy. Investments in renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies can create new employment opportunities while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, strengthening social protection systems can provide a safety net for workers affected by climate-induced disruptions. Collaborative efforts between the government, private sector, and civil society are essential to ensure that climate action initiatives are inclusive and equitable, prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable workers.

In the Al Jazeera story, Paul Divakar added that caste-based discrimination has again been reinforced by the recent heatwave.

“We need policy regulation and stricter implementation of the existing guidelines. And strengthening the agency of the communities themselves,” he added. “With conscious investment in equity measures in every sphere of our life – from wages, access to civic development, to financial inclusion,” he pointed out.

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