Path to sustainability to lead the development of India

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“We cannot have an ecological movement designed to prevent violence against nature, unless the principle of non-violence becomes central to the ethics of human culture.” — Mahatma Gandhi

By Manisha Bhatia

Today India is undoubtedly the fastest growing nation in the world. With favorable climate conditions, 356 million youth constituting 28 per cent of the country’s population, favorable FDI policies and the availability of ample natural resources, India comprises full potential of becoming the next global leader. In past 10 years, the India economy has registered rapid development growth leading to adverse effects at the environment. A recent report reveals that environmental degradation alone costs $80 billion per year or 5.7% loss to its economy. Hence, in order to achieve sustainable growth, the green growth strategies should be adopted ensuring optimum utilization of the resources.

India occupies 2.4 percent of the world’s land and supports 16 percent of the world’s population for living hence putting extreme pressure on the land and natural resources. The overgrowing Indian population which is on the verge of explosion is severely making unsustainable use of perishable natural resources leading to the environmental degradation since generations. India was once known as the land of forests but continuous deforestation and mismanagement by the citizens and government has resulted in the desertification, soil erosion and severe loss of flora and fauna.

These actions have caused unavoidable repercussions on the livelihood of millions of people, especially weak and marginalized leaving them impoverished and homeless across the globe. For example, it was found that due to deforestation around five million tribal people in Rajasthan have been effected due to low access to forest products such as wood, honey, fruits and other related products leading to extreme poverty in year 2004.

In 2003, the state has also been severely hit by drought when reportedly around one fifth villages of Rajasthan had no access to any reliable source of drinking water and major population relied on just one single source for all the water related needs. The unavailability of safe drinking water sources has severely affected agriculture, livestock population, health, income and productivity of the state. Looking at the appalling situation, numerous NGOs in Rajasthan have volunteered to build rain water harvesting system for improving the drinking water quality in the rural areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also launched some ground level initiatives such as mission Clean Ganga, eliminate open defecation, improved sanitation habits under the Clean India Mission to improve the health of environment. Many known corporations and eminent personalities have joined the mission under their CSR initiatives and otherwise to contribute towards the growth of healthy economy. We applaud the proactiveness of Indian government for initiating a plethora of advance level initiatives like setting up of solar power projects worth Rs. 500 crore in various states such as Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir. Additionally, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also fixed a budget of Rs. 400 crores for solar power driven agricultural pump sets and water pumping stations and has also kick-started the Green Energy Corridor Project to boost renewable energy across the country.

IT major Infosys pioneered the concept of green buildings in 2014 and constructed its Hyderabad office with energy efficient infrastructure which uses 38% less energy than its counterparts. Apparently, the cost of infrastructure was 1% less compared to its counterparts. Looking at the massive expansion plans of leading businesses, building green infrastructure will help them in achieving their sustainability goals. India is highly capacitated and it just needs strong willpower and stringent policies to embrace renewable energy resources and hydropower resources. Recently, the Bangalore-based infrastructure firm GMR Group inked a deal worth $1.4 bn deal for developing 900 MW hydropower project. We feel that other business should draw inspiration from these companies and adopt greener technologies to lay the foundation of sustainable future.

(Manisha Bhatia is a management graduate comprising enriching experience in the Content and Communication domain. She is associated with Fiinovation as Manager Editorials and churns out content on the issues related to social development.)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author(s) in this feature are entirely her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of India CSR.