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Tracing community level injustices to relentless pursuit of high GDP growth rate

By Shankar Sharma* 

This has reference to the email by Sri Nagraj Adve, providing us the extract of an interview with Ms Sudha Bharadwaj. Whereas there have been many articles/ opinion pieces published during the last many years over the issues of how our natural resources are being over exploited/ abused for the commercial benefits of a tiny but powerful segment of our society, while pushing the vulnerable sections to destitution, this particular interview provides a grim scenario of relevance to any part/ community of the country, for the simple reason that such injustices to the vulnerable sections of our country are being reported regularly from all parts of the country.
At the societal level, it may not be an act of over simplification to trace all such community level injustices to the relentless pursuit of high GDP growth rate economic paradigm by the successive governments since the past many decades; may be particularly so since the 1990s. Many, of those who are similarly concerned as you and I are, wonder whether it is possible to satisfactorily address such injustices on a long term basis, without effectively questioning the economic paradigm our country has been pursuing.
"A sustained high GDP growth rate will mean the manufacture of products and provision of services at an unprecedented pace leading to: setting up of more factories/ manufacturing facilities; consumption of large quantities of raw materials such as iron, steel, cement, chemicals etc.; increasing an unsustainable demand for natural resources such as land, water, minerals, timber etc.; acute pressure on the Government to divert agricultural /forest lands; huge demand for various forms of energy (petroleum products, coal, electricity etc.); accelerated urban migration; clamor for more of airports, airlines, hotels, shopping malls, private vehicles, express highways etc. Vast increase in each of these activities, while increasing the total greenhouse gas (GHG, responsible for global warming) emissions, will also add up to reduce the overall ability of natural carbon sinks such as forests to absorb GHG emissions. There will also be increased pollution of land, air and water along with huge issues of managing the solid, liquid and gaseous wastes."
In this larger context of the overall welfare of our communities, it may be high time for various civil society groups to provide adequate focus to this aspect of our economic policy also at every available opportunity, so that a greater national level debate on such an economic policy can be initiated and a consensus can be arrived at.
---
Power & Climate Policy Analyst

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