Wednesday, October 14, 2009

India, What is Your Problem?

Frankly, I am getting very upset with the Indian government's position on climate change. They do not support emission reduction targets because as they put it "poverty eradication and social and economic development are first and over-riding priorities". Bullshit.

First, a startling fact: India has more people below the poverty line than all of Africa. Yet at the same time it has a large number of millionaires (in 2007 it had the highest growth rate of millionaires in the world), it has very large international companies (e.g. Tata), and it has had very high economic growth rate over the last few years.

India has very poor infrastructure, severe problems with caste issues, and serious health and literacy problems.

But what the Indian government has done is promote business and especially big business. It seems to want to encourage economic growth at all costs. Usually if companies are found to be polluting the local environment, infringing on land, violating labor laws, etc. very little is done. In addition, corruption is high in India (84th out of 180 countries in Transparency Internationals new report).

This is not to say that India is not doing some things right. For example, It did recently decide on a very large solar energy project.

The point of this is despite the rhetoric India is not developing sustainably. India is fast becoming a two-tier society.

Finally there is one more thing. Many people say that countries need to get to the economic level that the US and Europe enjoy. OK, but why do they need to get there in the same way? The development of these so-called industrial countries is the reason we have so many environmental problems in these countries. Remember that the Thames River in London was once an open sewer and cities such as Los Angeles still have huge air pollution problems. And most of these problems were caused by unrestricted growth.