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Business and ecological / environmental issues in the Indian context and case studies

A satellite picture, taken in 2004, shows thick haze and smoke along the Ganges Basin in northern India. Major sources of aerosols in this area are believed to be smoke from biomass burning in the northwest part of India, and air pollution from large cities in northern India.

BUSINESS & ECOLOGICAL ENVIRONMENT IN INDIAN CONTEXT:

 

A satellite picture, taken in 2004, shows thick haze and smoke along the Ganges Basin in northern India. Major sources of aerosols in this area are believed to be smoke from biomass burning in the northwest part of India, and air pollution from large cities in northern India. Dust from deserts in Pakistan and the Middle East may also contribute to the mix of aerosols.

 

There are many environmental issues in India. Air pollution, water pollution, garbage, and pollution of the natural environment are all challenges for India. The situation was worse between 1947 through 1995. According to data collection and environment assessment studies of World Bank experts, between 1995 through 2010, India has made one of the fastest progresses in the world, in addressing its environmental issues and improving its environmental quality. Still, India has a long way to go to reach environmental quality similar to those enjoyed in de veloped economies. Pollution remains a major challenge and opportunity for India.

 

Environmental issues are one of the primary causes of disease, health issues and long term livelihood impact for India.

 

Major issues

 

Floods are a significant environmental issue for India. It causes soil erosion, destruction of wetlands and wide migration of solid wastes.

 

Major environmental issues are forest and agricultural degradation of land, resource depletion (water, mineral, forest, sand, rocks etc.), environmental degradation, public health, loss of biodiversity, loss of resilience in ecosystems, livelihood security for the poor.

 

The major sources of pollution in India include the rampant burning of fuel wood and biomass such as dried waste from livestock as the primary source of energy, lack of organized garbage and waste removal services, lack of sewage treatment operations, lack of flood control and monsoon water drainage system, diversion of consumer waste into rivers, cremation practices near major rivers, government mandated protection of highly polluting old public transport, and continued operation by Indian government of government owned, high emission plants built between 1950 to 1980.

 

Air pollution, poor management of waste, growing water scarcity, falling groundwater tables, water pollution, preservation and quality of forests, biodiversity loss, and land/soil degradation are some of the major environmental issues India faces today.

 

India's population growth adds pressure to environmental issues and its resources.

 

Population growth and environmental quality

 

There is a long history of study and debate about the interactions between population growth and the environment. According to a British thinker Malthus, for example, a growing population exerts pressure on agricultural land, causing environmental degradation, and forcing the cultivation of land of poorer as well as poorer quality. This environmental degradation ultimately reduces agricultural yields and food availability, causes famines and diseases and death, thereby reducing the rate of population growth.

 

Population growth, because it can place increased pressure on the assimilative capacity of the environment, is also seen as a major cause of air, water, and solid-waste pollution. The result, Malthus theorized, is an equilibrium population that enjoys low levels of both income and environmental quality. Malthus suggested positive and preventative forced control of human population, along with abolition of poor laws.

 

Malthus theory, published between 1798 and 1826, has been analyzed and criticized ever since. The American thinker Henry George, for example, observed with his characteristic piquancy in dismissing Malthus: "Both the jay hawk and the man eat chickens; but the more Jayhawks, the fewer chickens, while the more men, the more chickens." Similarly, the American economist Julian Lincoln Simon criticized Malthus's theory. He noted that the facts of human history have proven the predictions of Malthus and of the Neo-Malthusians to be flawed. Massive geometric population growth in the 20th century did not result in a Malthusian catastrophe. The possible reasons include: increase in human knowledge, rapid increases in productivity, innovation and application of knowledge, general improvements in farming methods (industrial agriculture), mechanization of work (tractors), the introduction of high- yield varieties of wheat and other plants (Green Revolution), the use of pesticides to control crop pests.

 

More recent scholarly articles concede that whilst there is no questio n that population growth may contribute to environmental degradation, its effects can be modified by economic growth and modern technology. Research in environmental economics has uncovered a relationship between environmental quality, measured by ambient concentrations of air pollutants and per capita income. This so-called environmental Kuznets curve shows environmental quality worsening up until about $5,000 of per capita income on purchasing parity basis, and improving thereafter. The key requirement, for this to be true, is continued adoption of technology and scientific management of resources, continued increases in productivity in every economic sector, entrepreneurial innovation and economic expansion.

 

 

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