By Ashok Misra, Garhwal Post, January 15 – 21, 2006
There is no doubt that globalisation of the economy has drawn Indians towards a Western lifestyle and higher levels of consumption. This has meant a rise in the cost of living and level of aspirations. Anybody not struggling to avoid starvation is looking to meet a hugely expanded list of desires. The producers of goods are working overtime to cater to this instinct in every section of society.
The force that is turning masses of people into consumers, however, does not inculcate any sense of responsibility among them towards the larger issues. It is all focused on instant gratification. So, nothing like the required discipline is being practised when it comes to ensuring a sustainable lifestyle.
The impact of this is already being felt in India, particularly in the environmentally sensitive states like Uttaranchal. The pressure for ‘development’ is so strong that the mountain state is unable to put into operation policies that would put the necessary focus on the environment. Already, the rivers in the foothills are massively polluted and choked. (See story on the Rispana on page 8). Water sources are drying up. Worse, wildlife even in the protected national parks is dying out – the best indicator of a mortally wounded environment. It is not just the tigers and leopards, it is also all the species that form the complex lattice that constitutes the biosphere. In the context of what the Worldwatch Institute has said, Uttaranchal’s biggest responsibility is to ensure that this region, which is the most critical for North India’s environment, remains pristine and healthy. Environmental meltdown here would mean a disaster for the whole of North India.