Prof V.P. Singh,
Centre for Globalization & Development of Allahabad University


Prof V.P. Singh, Centre for Globalization & Development of Allahabad University|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqIdDBqi66c


Science and technology have increased the ability of man to harness and exploit the natural resources for his benefit and created complex and multidimensional problems. The rapid depletion of non renewable resources and the exploitation of natural resources beyond the limit, destruction of the ecosystem, biosphere, flora and fauna due to industrial pollution are the important issues today in India. Unregulated industrialization and urbanization combined with the capitalist economic development models lead to ecological disaster. The degradation of environment would affect the human life and their entire ecosystem.

India witnesses the lower level of gross national product (GNP), per capita income, population explosion, higher infant mortality and lower expectation of life at birth. While life expectancy has increased in India over the past decades (64.19 years) in comparison with (above 80 years) developed nations. In the developed countries, it is less than 6 out of thousand children born, die immediately after the birth and vast majority of them survive through childhood and adulthood but in India it is 47/1000 birth die. The developed countries enjoy good water supply and sewerage systems and the incidence of water related diseases has been reduced. By contrast, in India, 72 of the 1000 babies born fails to reach their fifth birthday. The major killers are gastrointestinal infections, pneumonia, pre-term birth complications, diarrhea, and malaria.

Eighty per cent of all the diseases are caused by water, sanitation and environmental pollution . Ill- health of this kind would impose economic costs reducing the availability of labour, impairing the productivity of employed workers and capital goods, wasting current resources and impending the development of natural resources. The low health status and the loss of human potential in India can be attributed to the lack of safe drinking water supply and sanitation facilities. The most recent UNICEF survey indicates that about 783 million people are without adequate safe drinking water supply and 665 million people (72 percent) lack sanitary facilities in India. 626 million people practice open defecation and only 31 percent of Indian population have access to sanitation facilities.

Only 21 percent of rural population in India have adequate sanitary facilities against 54 percent in Urban areas. 84 percent of rural population have access to better water supply against 96 percent in urban areas. In many villages in India, women spend many hours every day to fetch water from far-off places for their families’ survival. The number of water facets per 1000 habitants would be a better measure of health than the number of beds in a hospital.

Environmental Problems

Non-renewable resources in India cannot sustain the infinite growth of industrialization. The non-renewable resources are getting depleted at a rapid rate and the renewable resources have to be used widely to protect the environment.

Population explosion in India (1.22 billion) places higher demands on natural resources. Growth of population (1.312 percent) today is an important contributing factor to the rapid depletion of resources, as the use of resources increase with the increase of population. Population pressure (382 persons per sq.kilometer) on land may lead to over exploitation and soil degradation with the excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides which in turn would disturb the ecosystem. Unemployment and the meager resources force the rural people migrate to urban areas resulting in socio-economic, environmental and health problems. These migrants are forced to live in huts with unhygienic conditions which later develop into slums causing environmental hazards. In Tamilnadu alone, there are about 2,88,66,893 people live in slums. Thus the population pressure (20,000 persons per sq.kilometer) in cities makes it more difficult to provide safe and sufficient water supply and sanitation facilities.

Exploitation of forest and energy sources are other important factors for the environmental degradation. Deforestation affects the equilibrium of fragile environment and the livelihood of the poor. In India, forest area is getting depleted by 367 sq. kilometer compared with 2009. The adverse consequences of indiscriminate deforestation affect the climate, geography, atmosphere and cause floods, land slides, soil erosion, silting of canals, reservoirs, etc. Now, there is a greater need to protect the forest resources in order to create good environment which ultimately connected with good health.

Apart from the depletion of resources, environmental pollution is considered to be the extreme gravity of global situation. Industrial pollution has far-reaching affects on the health and well being of human beings. The industrial effluents, wastes, smoke and dust, poison the land , air and surface as well as ground water to the point that they pose a threat to the survival of human, plant, animal and marine life. Besides, the direct effect of the environmental pollution, lead to bio accumulation and biomagnifications in aquatic food chain. Modern agricultural and horticultural practices also cause pollution of environment because of the nitrate toxity from the heavy application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Irrigation adversely affects the water quality due to chemicals entering the streams and rivers for which chemical treatment become necessary.

Atmospheric pollution caused by industrial plants is further exacerbated by the automobiles in cities accounting for a high proportion of population at risk for lung cancer, respiratory diseases and cardio-vascular ailments.

Development and Environment

The rapid depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation could be attributed to the development models that are inequitable and wasteful. There is a greater need for radical rethinking of the rationale for the developmental strategies. Technology in the west has involved the mechanization of many functions with high energy input. Developed countries with this kind of technology cannot provide a model for developing countries which are in need of the employment creating and energy conserving technologies. Hence, the adoption of western models are misguiding and unlikely to contribute to an improvement in the quality of life (QOL) in developing countries.

Development planning in India gives high priority to economic criteria and fails to incorporate the environmentalist’s concern. Even the environmentalists have ignored the environment in the construction of development theory. Both planners and administrators need to possess vision and display a capacity to think clearly and plan ahead in their efforts to construct a suitable development model. Preservation of environment need not be at the cost of development rather both should go hand in hand. Both are inseparable expressions manifesting the capacity of man to improve his quality of life. As a matter of fact, the conservation of environment should coincide with the development strategy. People should not only aim to conserve our resources but also to enrich them so that they can be safeguarded for the future generation as our heritage. Hence ‘development without destruction’ should be our goal.

Social Culture and Development

The analysis of environmental crisis must take into account its interacting variables. Therefore environmental problem should not be treated as just those resulting from the detrimental and irrational use of resources. This is to be viewed as a problem of under development and advocates a holistic approach which requires the contributions of natural, physical and social sciences.

It is not the mere scientific breakthrough that has revolutionized the health of the people by eradicating small pox, cholera and other epidemics but the political will and social participation. Public resistance and lack of community cooperation are the practical obstacles to be removed. Change of attitude and acceptance of fresh values should start at the grass root level.

In the process of obtaining cooperation and participation of the community the choice of technology plays a vital role. Appropriate technology in water supply and sanitation programmes should be scientifically sound, technologically feasible, economically viable socially and culturally acceptable and environmentally compatible.

Technology which is imposed independent of social context cannot be easily accepted by the people. However, scientific knowledge must be transferred into socially useful goods and services in accordance with social demands. The adoption of technology and programmes may be easier, if they are need-based, endogenous, self reliant, economically sound and based on structural transformation. Above all these, people must be mentally prepared to avail the services rendered through relevant educative processes.

It is obvious that there is a bridge between the development agents and the people they intend to serve in the transfer of information, skills and attitudes. Development agents, most often, operate at a different conceptual level and in a different framework from the people. Hardly, there is any consideration given to the local environment and indigenous culture that are more crucially functional. Utilisation of traditional culture and religious practices as variables are ranked higher in correlation with development process. The premise underlying such a strategy is that culture is a living entity, functionally adaptive to social change and is a vanguard of such a change.

Many planners have taken up the banner of culturally rooted development strategies and efforts are made to tailor the development’s potentially attractive benefits to the dimensions of traditional rationalities. The crux of the culture-development strategy is identify the most efficient and effective means of introducing new skills, knowledge and attitude within the existing cultural patterns social institutions and values so that development takes place in a more meaningful and harmonious fashion. The long cherished cultural pathways of interaction, established roles, value incentive systems and the established social institutions must be utilized as levers for positive development enhancing human survival.

Religious aspects of culture in India in which the sense of personal hygiene is deeply rooted in the form of customs and norms which are the essential avenues for the development strategies. The indigenous models of socio-economic organization, politico-legal systems and patterns of leadership that are integrated into the life of community offer the greatest potential for people’s participation in development.

Placed in a structural-functional framework, the entire range of cultural elements, cultural norms and motivational resources could be identified, mobilized and used to carry the message of personal as well as community health to the collective heart of the people with age old credibility. It is essential to identify the two important parameters of culture if our development programmes are to be successful. The first one is ‘soft culture’, that is, cultures and customs that we could change easily and influence immediately; and the other parameter is ‘hard culture’ which is intimately associated with deep-rooted beliefs and religious that may create antagonism in the community unless approached cautiously. Development through the traditional fabric of culture is guided by the principle that cultural elements would assume traditional legitimacy to participate in development. Thus culture can be viewed as a foundation than a barrier to development. Hence the cultural factors are to be revitalized and marshaled for the intellectual nourishment.

United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA)(2011)
Children in urban world UNICEF 2012


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