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Updated: March 27, 2013 01:00 IST

The past & present of Indian environmentalism

Ramachandra Guha
Comment (30)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

Polluted skies, dead rivers, disappearing forests and displacement of peasants and tribals are what we see around us 40 years after the Chipko movement started

On the 27th of March 1973 — exactly 40 years ago — a group of peasants in a remote Himalayan village stopped a group of loggers from felling a patch of trees. Thus was born the Chipko movement, and through it the modern Indian environmental movement itself.

The first thing to remember about Chipko is that it was not unique. It was representative of a wide spectrum of natural resource conflicts in the 1970s and 1980s — conflicts over forests, fish, and pasture; conflicts about the siting of large dams; conflicts about the social and environmental impacts of unregulated mining. In all these cases, the pressures of urban and industrial development had deprived local communities of access to the resources necessary to their own livelihood. Peasants saw their forests being diverted by the state for commercial exploitation; pastorialists saw their grazing grounds taken over by factories and engineering colleges; artisanal fisherfolk saw themselves being squeezed out by large trawlers.

Social justice and sustainability

In the West, the environmental movement had arisen chiefly out of a desire to protect endangered animal species and natural habitats. In India, however, it arose out of the imperative of human survival. This was an environmentalism of the poor, which married the concern of social justice on the one hand with sustainability on the other. It argued that present patterns of resource use disadvantaged local communities and devastated the natural environment.

Back in the 1970s, when the state occupied the commanding heights of the economy, and India was close to the Soviet Union, the activists of Chipko and other such movements were dismissed by their critics as agents of Western imperialism. They had, it was alleged, been funded and promoted by foreigners who hoped to keep India backward. Slowly, however, the sheer persistence of these protests forced the state into making some concessions. When Indira Gandhi returned to power, in 1980, a Department of Environment was established at the Centre, becoming a full-fledged Ministry a few years later. New laws to control pollution and to protect natural forests were enacted. There was even talk of restoring community systems of water and forest management.

Meanwhile, journalists and scholars had begun more systematically studying the impact of environmental degradation on social life across India. The pioneering reportage of Anil Agarwal, Darryl D’ Monte, Kalpana Sharma, Usha Rai, Nagesh Hegde and others played a critical role in making the citizenry more aware of these problems. Scientists such as Madhav Gadgil and A.K.N. Reddy began working out sustainable patterns of forest and energy use.

Through these varied efforts, the environmentalism of the poor began to enter school and college pedagogy. Textbooks now mentioned the Chipko and Narmada movements. University departments ran courses on environmental sociology and environmental history. Specialist journals devoted to these subjects were now printed and read. Elements of an environmental consciousness had, finally, begun to permeate the middle class.

Changing perception

In 1991 the Indian economy started to liberalise. The dismantling of state controls was in part welcome, for the licence-permit-quota-Raj had stifled innovation and entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, the votaries of liberalisation mounted an even more savage attack on environmentalists than did the proponents of state socialism. Under their influence the media, once so sensitive to environmental matters, now began to demonise people like Medha Patkar, leader of the Narmada movement. Influential columnists charged that she, and her comrades, were relics from a bygone era, old-fashioned leftists who wished to keep India backward. In a single generation, environmentalists had gone from being seen as capitalist cronies to being damned as socialist stooges.

Environmentalists were attacked because, with the dismantling of state controls, only they asked the hard questions. When a new factory, highway, or mining project was proposed, only they asked where the water or land would come from, or what the consequences would be for the quality of the air, the state of the forests, and the livelihood of the people. Was development under liberalisation only going to further intensify the disparities between city and countryside? Before approving the rash of mining leases in central India, or the large hydel projects being built in the high (and seismically fragile) Himalayas, had anyone systematically assessed their social and environmental costs and benefits? Was a system in which the Environmental Impact Assessment was written by the promoter himself something a democracy should tolerate? These, and other questions like them, were brushed off even as they were being asked.

Steady deterioration

Meanwhile, the environment continued to deteriorate. The levels of air pollution were now shockingly high in all Indian cities. The rivers along which these cities were sited were effectively dead. Groundwater aquifers dipped alarmingly in India’s food bowl, the Punjab. Districts in Karnataka were devastated by open-cast mining. Across India, the untreated waste of cities was dumped on villages. Forests continued to decline, and sometimes disappear. Even the fate of our national animal, the tiger, now hung in the balance.

A major contributory factor to this continuing process of degradation has been the apathy and corruption of our political class. A birdwatcher herself, friendly with progressive conservationists such as Salim Ali, Indira Gandhi may have been the Prime Minister most sensitive (or at least least insensitive) to matters of environmental sustainability. On the other hand, of all Prime Ministers past and present Dr. Manmohan Singh has been the most actively hostile. This is partly a question of academic background; economists are trained to think that markets can conquer all forms of scarcity. It is partly a matter of ideological belief; both as Finance Minister, and now as Prime Minister, Dr. Singh has argued that economic growth must always take precedence over questions of environmental sustainability.

An environmentally literate Prime Minister would certainly help. That said, it is State-level politicians who are most deeply involved in promoting mining and infrastructure projects that eschew environmental safeguards even as they disregard the communities they displace. In my own State, Karnataka, mining barons are directly part of the political establishment. In other States they act through leaders of the Congress, the BJP, and regional parties.

In 1928, 45 years before the birth of the Chipko movement, Mahatma Gandhi had said: “God forbid that India should ever take to industrialisation after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of a single tiny island kingdom (England) is today keeping the world in chains. If an entire nation of 300 million took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.”

The key phrase in this quotation is ‘after the manner of the West.’ Gandhi knew that the Indian masses had to be lifted out of poverty; that they needed decent education, dignified employment, safe and secure housing, freedom from want and from disease. Likewise, the best Indian environmentalists — such as the founder of the Chipko movement, Chandi Prasad Bhatt — have been hard-headed realists. What they ask for is not a return to the past, but for the nurturing of a society, and economy, that meets the demands of the present without imperilling the needs of the future.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the finest minds in the environmental movement sought to marry science with sustainability. They sought to design, and implement, forest, energy, water and transport policies that would augment economic productivity and human welfare without causing environmental stress. They acted in the knowledge that, unlike the West, India did not have colonies whose resources it could draw upon in its own industrial revolution.

In the mid-1980s, as I was beginning my academic career, the Government of Karnataka began producing an excellent annual state of the environment report, curated by a top-ranking biologist, Cecil Saldanha, and with contributions from leading economists, ecologists, energy scientists, and urban planners. These scientific articles sought to direct the government’s policies towards more sustainable channels. Such an effort is inconceivable now, and not just in Karnataka. For the prime victim of economic liberalisation has been environmental sustainability.

Corporate interests

A wise, and caring, government would have deepened the precocious, far-seeing efforts of our environmental scientists. Instead, rational, fact-based scientific research is now treated with contempt by the political class. The Union Environment Ministry set up by Indira Gandhi has, as the Economic and Political Weekly recently remarked, ‘buckled completely’ to corporate and industrial interests. The situation in the States is even worse.

India today is an environmental basket-case; marked by polluted skies, dead rivers, falling water-tables, ever-increasing amounts of untreated wastes, disappearing forests. Meanwhile, tribal and peasant communities continue to be pushed off their lands through destructive and carelessly conceived projects. A new Chipko movement is waiting to be born.

(Ramachandra Guha’s books include How Much Should a Person Consume? He can be reached at ramachandraguha@yahoo.in)

More In: Lead | Opinion

The tragedy is that today we do have the technology to minimize degradation at some cost, avoid waste and ensure equitable growth.
The only obstacle is the greed of the powerful coterie of -Politician, babu and vested corporates.

from:  neeraj
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 17:38 IST

Ramchandra Guha in his artilce has expressed concern over the deteriorating environment and ecosystem. One thing significant is the cronology he cited here to indicate the changes in the policy of the ruling class after independence and its impact on our vulnerable environment. This is a time where global warming is in the discussion of even common man and various levels of mitigation measurement is ongoing at international level. In Maratwada region the water scarcity is at its hight ever before. The article is a cursor eye to the future happening and rings alarm bell in the ears of all sensitive and responsible citizens.
Our construction industry is heavely and over depended on natural resources like lime stone, river sand and metals,and sand mafias are active in each and every part of the country. Author has really produced this peace of article which can be used as a referal material for any group or individual in their camaign to protect the environment.

from:  Appade Rajeevan
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 15:08 IST

Keeping aside the root cause that ensued due to,corruption in
political class,Industrial growth,I have experienced lack of awareness
by society and state.Why?&How?lets see..I belong to a fastest growing
city called Bhubaneswar.In Last 3-4 years I have seen massive growth
in real estate.Builders are bribe the BDA-Bhubaneswar devlopment
Authority-to get the permission for apartment project.Not only they
start doing the project by felling trees,but also they built by
blocking the drain and without proper sewerage system.The state has to
take the ownership to ban such type of project.The people,I must
designate them as land owner,sell their agriculture land without
looking into future aspect.Because they know that the money they are
being offered would suffice their requirement to get all type
luxury,which job cant suffice.This people has be educated about effect
in long run.Eventually slogan would be "Awareness Program" that self
guard Chipko Movement.

from:  Prasannajeet Mohanty
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 07:48 IST

Excellent piece by Mr.Guha.Industrialisation and afforestation will
never go together.No doubt,cutting of trees is unavoidable while
making advancement in industrialising the economy but how best the
same is compensated through afforestation is significant.Present
Congress government has not made any conspicuous improvement so far
either in framing or in implementing environmental policies.As
rightly said by the author, Mr.Manmohan being an economist would think
that economic growth must always take precedence over the questions of
environmental sustainability.Country is already experiencing effects
of El nino and La nina. By raising voice in climate summit,prescribing
voluminous pages in school curriculum and establishing research
departments in universities,awarding people,we only make mockery of
the situation without doing anything constructively.People,students,
politicans,academicians should realise significance of contributing
towards environmental sustainability. India today is marching fast towards the brink of environmental
disasters. The rainfall all over the country is dwindling. Lesser
rainfall, untimely rainfall, fast depletion of ground water level,
drying up of river beds, lakes, dams leading to water wars between
states. Rainwater harvesting, arresting of surface water, encouraging
usage of recycled water have to be given utmost importance by each
state. We lost thousands of acres of forest cover in the name of
golden quadrilateral project. We allowed cutting of trees. We never
insisted for restoration of the lost green cover. But we pay hefty sum
towards toll and pass through the roads. The chipko movement should
take a re-birth. Each one should become a Sundarlal Bahuguna. Each one
to protect one atleast to retain the existing green cover. Else, the
future generation would see trees and rains only in video clippings.

from:  BASKARAN R V
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 07:28 IST

The article is right on the track. It is ironical that even with
growing concerns for environmental protection all over world, we are
still not concerned about environment. Economic development at the
expense of environment is like asking asking a cricketer to play a
cricket match in the rain ( ;) ). What we need is sustainable
development along with non-perfunctory policies. An economist always
thinks in terms of economic gains and losses and Manmohan Singh is not
an exception. I wish that presence of an environmentalist in PMO
should be made mandatory to guide PM from environmental perspective.

from:  ranjithp
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 00:58 IST

Now a days, we don't expect sensitive intervention from the authorities to advocate innovative programmes to address the complexities of sustainabilty with development. If the people are responsible and are willing to respond we will have some way forward. No one at power can ignore the urge of people appropriately represented. We will start with caring the premises of our residences, joining hands to resist the sand mafia and land mafia, making it as a social struggle to protect environment, forming local committees with serious action programs. Leaders will be there behind us if we lead the way. The article definitely give us energy to join the mission.

from:  S Naduthodi
Posted on: Mar 28, 2013 at 00:35 IST

Mr. Guha has hit the bull's eye! The article rightly analyzes the
problem with the current economic growth model. Even when safer and
sustainable ways of industrialization are available, the government is
strangely and apathetically adopting disastrous methods of economic
development. It is high time we pay the necessary attention to
environment, lest we are left with wads of money but no pure air to
breathe. Till then, my best wishes to the band of enlightened
environmentalists.

from:  Aashish
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 23:28 IST

It is really unfortunate that we, the Indians are committing the same
mistakes that the western countries made after the dawn of the
industrial revolution.Despite the growing numbers of so called
"educated people" in our country,we are driving our society to the
edge of environmental catastrophe.As if global warming is not
enough,we are adding fuel to fire.
A large dependence on thermal power coupled with poor environmental
regulation has significantly vitiated our atmosphere.A greater effort
has to be made towards co-generation power plants for improved
efficiency.Individual solar power generators are to be subsidized to
make them people friendly.Public transport system needs to be
streamlined to accommodate rapidly growing population.Taxes on cars
and fuel they consume needs to be adjusted according to their
efficiency.A sustainable agriculture policy encouraging natural
farming techniques is the need of the hour.We need to rediscover the
past to guide us into the uncertain future.

from:  PRADEEP
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 22:10 IST

All talk and waiting for Govt to magically do something is going to
get us nowhere - even today, you can see the main river of each city
running through 'posh' areas as black streams of sewage. the rich
and powerful and educated dont care enough to do anything.
Corrupt govt. is not the main problem, it is the people, even the
elite who dont care enough. environment movement elsewhere in the
world is when masses took up the call to action by a few activists
(which india has) - until the masses care enough to change something,
nothing will get done.

from:  Ramesh G
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 21:52 IST

The historical trajectory of environment movements in India has been different from that in the west, but the global environmentalisms of today embrace social justice as much as they do pristine wildernesses or protected areas. Movements to protect forest, rivers and homelands of indigenous peoples have built far greater synergies in today's ecosystems of resistance - whether in inherently global and dispersed spaces like the social media or physically sited spaces like the forests of Central India. The resistances still speak many languages, but that is (arguably) the beauty of the postmodern condition. The challenge perhaps is to find where these dispersed networks get dense enough to impact the conversation, where transnational resistances can build enough traction to push against transnational exploitation and profiteering.

from:  Arnab Sen
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 20:47 IST

Wish this article by Ram Guha was available to the Finance Minister
much ahead. I would still recommend it as a compulsory reading by all
in the Krishi Bhawan, state agricultural universities and all
politicians to realise how Bringing Green Revolution to Eastern India
(BGREI) along with Rashtriya Kosh se Vyartha-Vyaya Yojana is going to
transplant Punjab and Haryana (pH) environmental woes to the eastern
provinces.
The finance minister has given a lot sops to promote industrial
agriculture in the country. BGREI got a Rs 1000/-crore package in the
central budget plan allocations 2013-14 while RKVY got about 19% rise
in the state plan allocation. To top it pH was rewarded with Rs500/-
crore for environmental degradation under the felicitous expression-
crop diversification. What were or are the agricultural scientists
doing if not playing with natural resources and bounties?

from:  Prof. J. George
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 19:09 IST

Mr Senthilkumar finally makes some sensible points. Coming to 'asking
difficult questions', HERE are some difficult questions! Why just the
modus operandi in India, even the United Nation sanctions
"reproductive rights" for all adults. Now how're you going to feed
your child? How will you protect it from infections until its
immunity's learned everything? Indeed, how will you ensure your child
grows up and gets a career that is reasonably satisfying as well as
pays well (or lives reasonably well even without a career)? It IS a
question to be asked. Not of the child, but of the parent -- without
whose irresponsible actions the child won't need a morsel of food, a
drop of water or a molecule of oxygen, let alone all else that
constitutes dignified living.

There is a fundamental fallacy in expecting a welfare government (or
society) to provide a standard of living (however minimalistic) to a
number of people without it having any hold whatsoever on that number.

from:  Srikant
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 17:48 IST

Country should comprise of 40% forest area and rest for the living but in India its deteriorating day by day because of human accusation. Cities like Chennai,Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai,Pune & Delhi expands 1 km everyday which is not a welcome sign. Corrupt politicians should think and stop involving acquiring lands and sell it to common people. Politicians should know that even their own childrens cannot live in India if the city grows rapidly in this phase. Government should take some action and implement some projects to make greenery. In my opinion India is heading nowhere but to pit when compared to other nations just by relying on serving sector. If our Government wakes up and concentrate hard on how to make agriculture possible then India might sustain otherwise we Indians are in a big trouble.

from:  Anand
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 17:25 IST

Ramchandra Guha has done appreciable inputs in this article by presenting cronological discription of environmental impact of changing political climate since independence in India. His article is time tested and an excellent account of what really happened and ringing an alarm bell on what is going to be happened in the nearest future where thousands of Tribal hamlets will be replacing with the Engineering colleges and golf fields, fishing points of folk community into tourist spots,both urban and rural poor standing in the big line waiting for drinking water. The article appeared in a right time when most part of the central India especially Maratwada region of Maharashtra is the grip of acute water scarcity. Such articles are really serving the civil society group to take appropriate steps to protect environment from disastrous conssequences. Recently a large section of citizen's group of Nagpur city is in a campaign ro protect Naga river from pollutution and degradation. Thanks

from:  Appade Rajeevan
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 17:12 IST

Thirst for money and greedy humans are destroying the environment. Every common man has a role in protecting the place he lives in. Contrarily, they do not mind raising concrete structures to the full extent of land, haplessly cutting down the trees just for money. Letting out sewerage in open drains and throwing plastic on the roads is the prevailing attitude today. One who says 'health is the best wealth' are named incapacitated to earn money. So, no wonder industries and the government - whose target is to achieve Y-O-Y GROWTH ON ANY COST - are not caring for the environment.

from:  Sankar
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 16:01 IST

It is unfortunate that India with its knowledge base needs to be sensitized to environmental degradation and importance of conservation instead of it being the other way around. Soon we will need to import environmental friendly technologies instead of producing them. Nowhere has nature been as kind and abundant as it has been abused in India. Our so-called 'development' is not only unsustainable but most unscrupulous too. Forget natural bodies of water, the water supplied to our houses is not potable, the food we eat is contaminated with dangerous chemicals and metals, the air we breathe is toxic, and we still want to trick ourselves into believing that the only way out of 'poverty' (read unrestrained accumulation of wealth) is the 'development' model that we are so foolishly following. Saner elements in the West are screaming loud to countries like India and China not to make the same mistakes they once did. But seems like our greed has got the better of us.

from:  luhar sen
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 13:44 IST

Indian Forests are dying!The only way to save the forests is to leave
the area free to Nature to clothe itself.An example of this sort is
greening of TIRUMALA Hills with some inputs and total protection from
biotic interference.
The enactments and other local considerations are making the forest
area dwindle day by day.
Another movement is to come from Public irrespective of Government programmes.
Pending initiation of any movement it is the duty of media to inculcate and spread the importance of protecting Forest and Wildlife and Environment.The campaign mode should be very vigorous so that every Citizen realises the duty cast upon him by the Constitution of India.

from:  A.Kishan
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 13:21 IST

While making government fully culprit for the environmental degradation,Mr Guha has forgotten one important aspect that we are also a part of the government. If 1.2 billion people become conscious,a major portion of degradation will be reduced.Some form of exploitation is just for the sake of advancement but major part of exploitation happens due to greedy and selfish reasons.Every people thinks 'why only i care.'The need of our to instill a sense of brotherhood in people towards environment,make them understood that we sustain because of far-sighting of our past generations,we should also give our future generations a environment in which they could prosper.

from:  Safiullah Ansari
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 13:08 IST

Sir we Indians talk much and do nothing. This is also applied on
Indian environmentalists. They talk too much but do nothing. They are
very corrupt and their aim is to gulp money, corner awards and big
positions. They are anti developments also. Because of them all the
major projects are almost stopped causing massive loss and creating
massive unemployment. For the protection of environment, we must plant
trees on large scales. But most of the plantation is done in files
only and money is gulped by NGOs and government bodies. River linking,
construction of dams in large number, install rain water harvesting on
war scale are the permanent solutions to protect environment and
control floods and droughts. All other measures will be only farce.
But as is the system in the country, only we do the lip service. There
are few individuals like Shri Narendra Modi who are honestly working
to protect the environment otherwise the situation is very frustrating
and dangerous.

from:  Dr.Yogesh Sharma
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 13:02 IST

Sustainable development always remains an agenda on papers and failure to implement them by successive governments made India a country of dried rivers, polluted skies , untreated waste of large amounts and disappearing forests.
Our Environment degradation is at the cost of this countries capitalist, neo-liberal and crony-capitalistic economy.

from:  Sushanth
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 11:47 IST

A timely, one could say long overdue, assessment and alert by one who has delved deeply into environmental history. To this forthright depiction should be added the recently published book 'Churning the Earth - The Making of Global India' by Ashish Kothari and Aseem Shrivastava. The new Chipko Movement is being born in the resistances emerging in different areas. What it lacks is a critical mass of supportive leadership from those who know the extent and cause of damage but are reluctant to get involved in struggles.

from:  Kishore Saint
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 11:29 IST

With the growing collusion between businessmen and politicians, the number of ill-conceived projects which displace people and harm the environment are going to increase in the future. What is required to stop this menace is to strengthen the regulatory mechanism. The Environmental Impact Assessment must be made more transparent, accountable and also must include local representatives as stakeholders in the creation of the report. As to the issue of displacement, projects should be planned in areas where the displacements would be minimum and in these projects too, there should be clauses ensuring proper rehabilitation and compensation for the affected.
Any solution must encompass the twin objectives of environmental protection and economic development. A trade-off is required. I believe this balancing can be done provided we have the proper will and can identify our priorities.

from:  Mukut Ray
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 10:52 IST

the air we breath and the food we eat is all polluted. Even the new
born babies are not free from the effects of pollution, as they have found
residue of pesticides in the breast milk of young mothers feeding
these new born.
we have too many agencies supposed to monitor degradation , but they
are bunch of certifiers for some consideration. so much money is spent on Ganga purification, but it is all down the drain or should i say down the Ganga river.
We have seen mining in most of the states being carried out for making more money and not for development of the country. No body has bothered to improve our public transport systems in our cities and hence we can see private vehicles clogging the roads. private participation in developing infra structure is another way of making money for the private players, mostly having politicians as
beneficiary.
Indian banks are not able to cope up with so much money, we need swiss to handle it for us?

from:  sathyan
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 10:36 IST

Thank you Mr. Guha for another wonderful article. Mahatma Gandhi's prescient
warning to avoid conspicuous consumption has fallen on deaf ears. We in India ape without critical judgement the horrible mannerisms of the West, while adapting none of their strengths. Since we have sown the wild oats of rampant destruction with respect to our ecosystems, we will be reaping its devastating dividends. Nature always has the final say!

from:  G Parameswaran
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 09:38 IST

A very nice article. The only form of development Indian's understand
is industrialization. Growth without equity is of no use and such a
development model could not be sustained. Focus of the policy makers
should be such that equity should be given prudence over any growth
model. The use of available resources in an efficient way is a
challenge and there needs to be innovations on how we use natural
resources,which complement the existing technologies. Development of
efficient and new technologies will definitely put a curb on
exploitation of natural resources. Laws too have an important role to
play in this regard.

from:  Divya Prakash
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 09:17 IST

Hi, most wanted article in this summer. No one can say 'No' to any point here. But, too much of environmental protection and stricter laws will cause the following -
1. They increase the cost of everything
2. With out speeding up the industrialization what other plans we have to bring 50% of out country poverty?
3. Without cutting trees inside cities how are we going to provide broader roads for the every increasing car sales?
The problem is scarcity of resources and not usage itself. The problem is too much people crowding out little resources, not usage. Post liberalization, the usage/consumption of resources has speed-up because of the speed-up of activity in the economy. I am not saying it is sustainable but no other choice given our corrupt politics. So, live with it. thanks.

from:  Senthilkumar Subramaniam
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 08:43 IST

I can see an indescribable empathy in the tone of Ramachandra Guha. It is very unfortunate that our political class are ready to destroy the country for the sake of their personal gains. Until and unless every the middle class takes initiative no one can save this country. The route cause to every major problem that Indian society faces is the nepotism of our leaders. This is high time, another freedom movement started to save this country from corrupt political system and crony capitalism.

from:  Ramesh
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 08:39 IST

Excellent, and quite hard-hitting on the political class and the
economists. "On the other hand, of all Prime Ministers past and
present Dr. Manmohan Singh has been the most actively hostile. This is
partly a question of academic background; economists are trained to
think that markets can conquer all forms of scarcity. It is partly a
matter of ideological belief; both as Finance Minister, and now as
Prime Minister, Dr. Singh has argued that economic growth must always
take precedence over questions of environmental sustainability".
But who reads these pieces? ONLY care for the environment, and that's
a fact.
The greed of the present has compromised the needs of the future. Let's all pray for and work at getting a "wise, and caring, government" that deepens "the precocious, far-seeing efforts of our environmental scientists".

from:  swarna
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 08:21 IST

It is true, that 40 years ago — Himalayan village peasants stopped loggers from felling a patch of trees. Thus was born the Indian environmental movement. A major contributory factor to this continuing process of degradation has been the apathy and corruption of our politicians and civil servants. Our sincere request to the politicians and civil servants is to protect our environment. Indian population is growing at higher rate than developing coutries and India has limited resources. My sincere request to all leaders - political & Civil Servants, is to use their clout in protecting the environment. Please help, if you do GOD will help. Please do what is in your control first.

from:  P.N. Reddy
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 04:28 IST

It is heartening to see an article on the deterioration of our natural
environment in The Hindu, while the other papers embrace only the
glamour of the West. All the points Mr. Guha has made are a stark
reminder to mend the foolishness of our ways. There seems to be a new
theory of evolution arising, 'the survival of the richest', with the
poor sacrificing their lives to meet the endless desires of the rich.

The Government should immediately begin phasing out coal and switch to
renewable energies like solar, wind and biomass. Perverse subsidies
for coal and nuclear must be removed. If the poorest in Karnataka are
willing to invest in a solar light, the rich can definitely afford it.

With FDI in retail, the amount of solid waste generated is going to
increase 10 fold, as these supermarket chains wrap every little fruit
and vegetable in plastic. A policy of zero packaging waste must be
introduced as a pre requisite for beginning operations.

The time is ripe for the rebirth of Chipko

from:  Akanksha
Posted on: Mar 27, 2013 at 03:21 IST
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