‘Economists should understand ecosystems’

Driving home a point: Catherine Suard, left, Consul-General of France, Puducherry, addressing the participants at the inaugural session of the 2017 Social Sciences Winter School in Puducherry on ‘Water and Socio-Environmental Challenges’ within the framework of Bonjour India in Pondicherry Central University on Monday. At right is a section of the delegates.   | Photo Credit: T_Singaravelou

Warning that mankind is in a dangerous situation where all profits come from extracting things from nature, Felix Padel, research associate, Centre for World Environmental History, University of Sussex, on Monday said that most economists are not trained to understand the pressure put on ecosystems by many projects for increasing profits.

During his presentation at the plenary session of the 2017 Social Sciences Winter School in Puducherry on “Water and socio-environmental challenges”, he said: “To look at the ‘Adivasi economics’ as a kind of economic system based on ecological principles is what is required today.

“People have such precise understanding of engineering and economy but they don’t understand the environmental and social practices.

“Adivasis are much ahead of us in the real sustainability and their ritualised restraint in what we take from the nature is what we should learn. They have certain actions that are taboo or sacred. For them taking too much from the nature too fast is a taboo,” he said.

Water consumption

Mr. Padel, an anthropologist-activist, said that production of one tonne of steel consumes 40 tonnes of water and to produce one tonne of aluminium nearly 1,000 tonnes of water is required. “If you see the industrial growth and at what rate the GDP is rising, the price we are paying for this is too heavy,” he added.

“We are mining the mountains for bauxite which is resulting in adverse impact on the environment. Mountains form the source of water and it is destroyed for mining bauxite.

“On the other hand, in India, the effect of the dams on water and other systems around water is too big. People are extracting groundwater too fast and there is not enough scrutiny on that. As adivasis often say for any action, we should take into consideration the impact on the generations to come and the real development should be to create a safe world for our grandchildren to live,” he added.

Catherine Suard, Consul-General of France in Puducherry, who inaugurated the event, said the third edition of the Social Sciences Winter School in Puducherry, which is a multi-year programme of intensive and multi-disciplinary training workshops addressing theoretical and methodological issues in social sciences research, focuses on water and socio-environmental challenges.

The Social Sciences Winter School in Puducherry has emerged from the partnership between the French Institute of Pondicherry (IFP), Pondicherry University (Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy - CSSE), French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and the Centre for South Asian Studies (CEIAS, CNRS) and DIAL (IRD-Universite Paris-Dauphine).

Nearly 80 individuals are trained in each edition.

Frederic Landy, director, IFP and Nalini J. Thampi, Dean, School of Humanities, Pondicherry Central University, were present.

Anne Casile and Christophe Jalil Nordman, Research Fellows from IFP, Remy Delage, Research Fellow, CNRS, CEIAS, Thanuja Mummidi, Head (i/c), CSSE and IP, Pondicherry University, introduced the Social Sciences Winter School programme to the participants.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 1:16:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/economists-should-understand-ecosystems/article21262047.ece

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