The decline of independent Dalit political parties in India and the changing aspirations and identity quest among Dalit communities. It highlights the need for these parties to adapt to the changing socio-political landscape and develop effective political programs that address the aspirations of Dalit communities.
Dalit politics in India has evolved with the rise of independent Dalit political parties such as the RPI, BSP, VCK, PT, and PRP.
These parties are gradually weakening and their political actions reflect this.
There is uncertainty about the future of independent Dalit politics in India.
The RPI celebrated its 66th foundation day and the BSP has completed nearly 40 years.
These parties have played a role in enabling Dalit empowerment and cultivating assertive consciousness among Dalits.
However, there has been a decline in their organisational capacities and electoral performance.
Many Dalit leaders are either joining dominant regional and national parties or forming their own groups.
The RPI and BSP have lost a large percentage of base voters to parties like the BJP and Congress.
The socio-political profile of Dalit communities has changed rapidly over time due to democracy, state-led affirmative actions, and rising developmental desires.
The percolation of education and the dissemination of the benefits of affirmative actions have led to a class of Dalits who aspire for a proper space in politics.
Independent Dalit political parties have failed to provide sufficient political space to politically aspirant sections in Dalit communities, leading to a quest for political space in other political parties.
Social welfare schemes launched by major political parties play a key role in forging political relationships with Dalit communities and fostering their aspirations.
State-led democratic interventions and media/social media exposure have resulted in the creation of a 'new Dalit mentality'.
To retain politically aspirant sections of Dalit communities, independent Dalit political parties need to adopt new directions in political mobilization and transformative political programs and actions.
Independent Dalit political parties are still focused on clichéd identity, dignity, and representation rather than developing effective political programs.
There is a need for these parties to recognize the changing aspirations and identity quest of Dalit communities and incorporate the economics of identity into their politics.
Democratic functioning within these parties is crucial to provide political space for grassroots leaders and prevent the development of dynastic tendencies.
The BSP and some RPI groups have failed to prevent the growth of a dynastic political culture.
The era of Dalits being "chamchas" of the brahmanical establishment is unlikely to return, as current Dalit leaders are politically competent and assertive.
Dalit masses, cadres, and leaders may disperse among various political parties, leading to a multi-polar Dalit politics in India.
The recent glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in Sikkim and the risks of climate change-induced GLOFs in the Indian Himalayan Region. It highlights the need for early warning systems and risk mitigation strategies for such hazards.
A recent glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in Sikkim has highlighted the increasing risk of climate change-induced GLOF in the Indian Himalayan Region.
A study published in Nature indicates that 90 million people across 30 countries live in basins containing glacial lakes, with one-sixth living within 50 km of a glacial lake and 1 km of potential GLOF runout channels.
Hazards in mountains often occur in a cascading fashion, with heavy rainfall triggering landslides, which can cause glacial lake outbursts and more landslides downstream, leading to flash floods.
Predicting this chain of events is difficult, but institutional awareness of these risks is increasing.
The challenge is to develop a system to mitigate risks from such hazards and provide early warnings.
In September, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) led a preparatory mission to the South Lhonak and Shako Cho glacial lakes in Sikkim.
Solar-powered automated cameras and monitoring equipment were installed, but the equipment at South Lhonak ceased transmission four days later and could not be revived.
The equipment at Shako Cho continues to transmit data.
The expedition successfully identified locations to install sensors for an end-to-end early warning system during the next mission and identified possible mitigation measures such as small check dams for both lakes.
Monitoring equipment reported higher-than-normal temperatures of zero to 5°C in the days leading up to the disaster, which is exceptionally warm for Himalayan glaciers.
The collapse of a large mass of rock/moraine from the north-western bank of the lake is believed to be the key trigger of the disaster.
The collapse displaced a significant volume of melt water, widening the river mouth and causing flash floods.
The Himalayan Region is susceptible to various hazards, including hydro-meteorological, tectonic, climate, and human-induced hazards.
Glacial melting and recession are mapped, but the multitude of glaciers and temporal variations make monitoring and risk estimation challenging.
The NRSC's Glacial Lake Atlas of 2023 shows that there are 28,000 glacial lakes greater than 0.25 hectares in the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra river basins, with 27% of them in India.
This region has experienced catastrophic glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) events in recent decades.
Geo-technical solutions for mitigating GLOFs (Glacial Lake Outburst Floods) have been tried globally, but conditions above 5,000 meters above mean sea level create challenges.
Downstream hill communities and authorities are at the greatest risk of such disasters and have a short lead time to respond.
People downstream are mostly unaware of the risks posed by sudden glacier-melt and cascading hazards.
Risks from glacial melting, landslides, intense precipitation, and other hazards are increasing.
Disaster and climate resilience principles need to be integrated into government policy and private investment.
An integrated, multi-disciplinary effort is required across institutions to monitor and mitigate the risks of GLOFs.
The NRSC provides high-resolution data through remote sensing, the Central Water Commission conducts hydro-dynamic assessments, and the NDMA provides national guidelines for monitoring and mitigation.
A comprehensive GLOF risk mitigation plan is in the final stages of approval
The plan will include installation of monitoring and early warning systems at high-risk glacial lakes
Governments and scientific institutions need to come together to integrate resources and capacities in disaster risk reduction
Increased focus on prevention and mitigation will reduce loss and damage and bring stability to hill communities.