Globalisation has increased inequity, and is at the core of our problems today: Sunita Narain addresses audiences at Jaipur Lit Fest
Narain releases State of India’s Environment 2017, an annual publication from Down To Earth magazine, at the Jaipur Literature Festival
Makes a strong case for de-globalisation
The report is a unique, one-of-its-kind compilation of information, opinion and data on environment and development in India
Covers subjects ranging from forests and wildlife; climate change; rural development; and disasters and conflicts to health; mining; water and sanitation; energy and industry; and air pollution
Also includes latest statistics on environmental crimes, land and agriculture, water bodies, transportation etc
Jaipur, January 19, 2017: Amidst the titles and covers that the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival has brought together, this one stands out -- for simply telling the truth as it is. The State of India’s Environment 2017, an annual publication brought out by Down To Earth magazine, is unique in many other ways. One of them is that it is perhaps the only compilation of its kind in the country of facts, figures and narratives on environment and development. It was officially released here today – at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) by Sunita Narain, the director general of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Narain released the book with an address on ‘De-globalisation in the age of climate change: New pathways for sustainable development’. “In 2016, we had Brexit, the coming of Trump in the US, more of erratic weather and unseasonal rains and resultant havoc. 2016 has told us that something must change drastically so that our tomorrow is different, better and more secure. It has told us that there is something fundamentally wrong in the way we are managing our economies and our societies, because of which there is so much dissent,” Narain said.
“In India, we are seeing the same dissent – in the ‘revolt of the rich’: when the powerful land-owning castes like Jats and Patels want to be labelled backward because they feel they are being left behind,” she added.
Narain went on to connect this state of affairs with the numerous environment-development quandaries that India is faced with. “The lesson of the past two years is that environmental issues cannot be ignored if we want to secure life and health,” she said. In fact, the State of India’s Environment 2017 – or SOE in short – which she released at the JLF, contains a clump of disturbing data from India which give credence to her argument. It shows that:
On an average, India has only two buses for every 1,000 people – this is despite the growing emphasis on public transport as cities across the country succumb to severe air pollution.
Many water bodies in India are now severely polluted. Three of Rajasthan’s most well-known lakes – the Jalmahal, Jaisamand and Udaisagar – are in a list of the most severely polluted water bodies of India, with BOD levels above the safe limit of 3 mg/l3
While there has been an overall decline in environmental crimes reported in the country, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan account for 76 per cent of the cases and the maximum number of people arrested for environmental crimes.
26 of India’s 29 states have reported a rise in area undergoing desertification in the past 10 years. Almost 30 per cent of the country’s area is degraded.
India ranks among the lowest in the list of countries on the Sustainable Development Index.
“The breakdown of liberal and secular democracy that we see in the rich world tells us that there is a growing dissent against what was considered a successful economic growth model,” said Narain. Globalisation, according to Narain, has increased inequity. “This is at the core of our problems today. This is also the crux of the climate change debate,” she added.
Narain points out that this could be an opportunity to reconsider future strategies of growth. “Localisation, to me, therefore, is not a bad idea. It is building a new future, with local resources, by local communities. This challenge of affordable growth is what will drive sustainable growth in the future,” she said.
About CSE, Sunita Narain and the book
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) is one of Asia’s leading think-tanks on issues of environment and development. Based in New Delhi, CSE has worked to influence public opinion and change policy for over 30 years. CSE is known internationally for its State of India’s Environment reports, which cover, scrutinise and analyse subjects ranging from forests and wildlife and climate change to air and water pollution, sustainable urbanisation and health.
Sunita Narain, director general of CSE, is a writer and environmentalist and the editor of Down To Earth. She is one of the leading voices on environment and development from South Asia. She has received the Padma Shri from the Government of India, and was adjudged one of the world’s 100 most influential people by TIME magazine in 2016.
As part of its commitment to the Paris climate change agreement, India has pledged to reduce its emissions intensity by 35 per cent by 2030 under its INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution). One sector that has had a big impact on climate as well as public health and air quality is urban transport. In India, especially over the past decade, rapid and rampant motorisation has enhanced the risks of air pollution.