Understanding the economic context and ecological challenges faced by India’s tribal communities – Down To Earth

Sunita Narain, Down To Earth Dec 15, 2013 | From the print edition | Read the full article here >>

In the past 10 years, India’s environmental movement has had a rebirth. It was first born in the 1970s, when the industrialised world was seeing the impact of growth on its environment. […]

It was also in the 1970s that the second environmental challenge—issues of access and sustainable management of natural resources—emerged. In the remote Himalayas, the women had prevented the timber merchants from cutting their forest. But their fight was not to protect the forest. Their fight was to assert their right to the resources of the forest. It was an environmental movement because the women of this village in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand knew they had to protect the forest to protect their livelihood. It was a call to redefine development and growth.

But it is only now that these two sides of the environmental challenge have truly come home to India. Importantly, this is a time when environmental issues have taken centre stage in the country. Yet matters are going from bad to worse. The pollution in our rivers is worse today than it was three decades ago. The garbage in cities is growing by the day, even as governments scramble to find ways of reducing plastic and hiding the rest in landfills in far-off places. Air pollution in cities is worse, and toxins are damaging our lungs.

This, in spite of efforts to contain the problem. […]

The fact is in India a large number of people—and it is indeed a large number—depend on the land, the forests and the water around them for their livelihood. They know that once these resources are gone or degraded their survival will be at stake.

We must recognise that across the world, the environmental movement is based on the idea that people do not want anything bad in their vicinity: not in my backyard or NIMBY. […]

When the urban and middle-class India—as across the world—faces an environmental threat it does not stop to ask in whose backyard it should be allowed. The fact is garbage is produced because of our consumption. The richer we get, the more waste we generate and the more we pollute. […]

In middle-class environmentalism there is no appetite for changing lifestyles that will minimise waste and pollution. […]

We can do things differently to reinvent growth without pollution. But only if we have the courage to think differently. I hope we will.

Source: Down To Earth: “India’s twin environmental challenges”
Address : http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/india-s-twin-environmental-challenges
Date Visited: Tue Dec 10 2013 19:33:36 GMT+0100 (CET)

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