Model Answer : Economic development of India and sustaining people.

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 13th, 2023

India’s economic growth has been spectacular over the last decade. However, this growth has had a price attached to it. The growth trajectory has been such that it has taken a toll on its natural assets like forests, minerals, clean air and in totality on the environment.

This has been officially stated by the report on environment accounts given by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation.

Business growth has come at a price. India’s ecology has seen threats to livelihoods, health and lives of millions.

India scored all of 5.75 in global air quality index, while Switzerland and Japan were perched at over 90, showing how far behind India has slipped in ecological terms while trying to boost its economic growth.

Another study by the World Bank has found that India’s air pollution alone caused welfare loss equivalent to 7.69% of its GDP in 2013.

Going by the records, the average growth rate of gross state domestic -product for almost each of the Indian state was 7-8% in between 2005-2015, 11 of the Indian states registered a decline in their natural capital. Notwithstanding the growth that few of the Indian states saw in the range of 0-5%, it was only for 3 of the Indian states that the growth rate was more than 5 % with respect to the natural capital.

Developmental activities are carried out by converting natural land into a developed one. For this, the often-reported tool is the destruction of the forest. By doing this, we are destroying the natural source of oxygen and the living space of most living organisms.

One must always bear in mind that the web of life is interconnected and interdependent. It will become weak if any of its links are to become loose.

The price of a commodity doesn’t cover the damage cost. Hence, we remain oblivious to the fact that a commodity that is relatively cheaper will have more damage cost. 

Take any development activity, for instance, the biomass burning directly releases CO2 into the atmosphere. Even when the forest is turned into timber for construction, the wood is decomposed by microorganisms and CO2 is released, eventually leading to global warming.

Every developmental activity is linked with infrastructure which inevitably involves the use of cement in one way or the other. The primary component of cement is limestone. The production of cement releases greenhouse gas emissions both directly and indirectly.

This model of economic growth may not let the country sustain the rate of development for long.

Besides these, development and economic growth has led in a cult of consumerism which has had a bad impact on the environment. E.g. Construction of highways will not only lead to more air pollution but will lead to lesser use of public transport in turn leading to more emissions. So, will ACs and TVs in each room do.

The government has been keen to bring in large scale mining and manufacturing projects in the central and eastern parts of India. Forests are home to 100 million tribal of India. It has been a result of the development process that the Naxal movement has been on the rise. Development at the cost of unrest like these is not worth anything and neither is sustainable in the long run on ecological grounds.

The strain that the environment faces is visible in the extreme weather phenomena. Constant floods and droughts might strain the economy which is fighting to grow.

There needs to be a policy change on our part too. The approach, “pollute-first; clean-up-later” must be done away with. We need to acknowledge the ecological cost of the economic growth that we set to embark on. A lot many people are dependent on the environment for their day to day activities. Thus, we need to focus more on an improved environmental quality for sustainable income growth.

What can be done

  • Market-based instruments like pollution tax and tradeable pollution permits must be given a greater role.
  • Strict environment regulation must be brought into force.
  • Environmental accounting and green GDP for India can help us achieve sustainable development in future.
  • Collaboration with foreign governments and organisations to find ways in which clean fuel can be accessed at a subsidised rate, to explore ways to clean and recharge our aquifers.
  • The concept of the “coalition of the willing” becomes important here as the problem we are facing is very much global and isn’t only local.
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