Have you ever thought about what it really means for India to be known as a Developing nation?
Think about what you are really imagining when you think of The Ideal Country. There are certain prejudices that are set in our minds. Most of us have grown up thinking about a developed nation like what we watch in Hollywood Movies & TV shows. New York’s high-rise buildings, rows and rows of shopping complexes, well-built roads, and transportation, the best technology used in every corner of the street for making a citizen’s life easier. It captured, enamored and we grew an obsession for the idea of this developed country. With no clue about how much of it we really needed. We love everything these “foreign” countries have to offer, and surely, we have seen someone experience the shame of the developing states of India. We think rural villages living in dirt, potholes, and looked everywhere for other signs of failure.
UNDERSTANDING THE REAL COST OF DEVELOPMENT
Even old Bollywood had an obsession of traveling over to a different country to shoot their scenes in the exotic and modern backdrops. It is no wonder that we continue being charmed by anything BUT what we already have in our own home turf. Pop Culture, daily conversation, and mindsets had slowly shifted the idea of what a developed nation means. Glass buildings, more construction and more concretization in every street.
But were you informed about the full picture of this developed nation? We were never told:
- That for the western countries to become what they are, they had to decimate millions of acres of forests. The quality of their agricultural land depleted from inorganic means of food production to feed the growing sophisticated needs of their urban citizens.
- With growing consumption demands of the public, forced these developed countries to outsource their production. This eventually fell upon poor nations in south-east Asia where consequences of over-production have been destroying their ecosystem.
- The cost of living in this developed nation meant the carbon footprint of the country rose so high that it would take 5 earths if every person on earth lived the way US citizens lived.
We were not told, that the cost of this development today, is called Climate Change.
CHANGING HOW WE MEASURE OUR WORTH
Did you know GDP is an absolutely flawed model to measure development? How can a model that makes countries compete in over-consumption, possibly be the answer to creating an eco-friendly economy? In a contest to see who can loot the resources of the earth the fastest, the GDP has been questioned by few countries (Netherland, New Zealand, Bhutan) who have now adopted “Gross National Happiness” or the GNH to measure the health of their nation! This measures the well-being of the citizens. It ensures the basic economic needs are met, health & educational services are available to all and the country is well sustained.
Today we see protests led by environmentalists and scientists around the world, trying to stop infrastructure projects that encroach natural ecosystems. Hidden under the guise of economic opportunity and growth, we need to start thinking about the ecological effect created by such projects. In the end, it only matters if we can have a future. We need a new standard to measure development.
The world economic forum released 5 more measures of development which are better than GDP!
The reality is we can build a thriving Circular economy and grow small & medium enterprises, yet we keep catering to large destructive industries.
While rich nations are learning and recovering from the mistakes of their past, it seems as though developing nations are still enticed by increasing their GDP figures. So how can we change this as citizens?
CREATING NEW IDEAS FOR A NEW INDIA
You are being sold the dreams of a developed nation by the leaders of our country. The images in your head associated with “modern” “economically forward” & “developed” plays a vital role in the future for India:
- Does it have to mean introducing a commercial center in a village that encourages consumerism?
Or can it mean, an organic farm which makes an entire village self-sufficient with food?
- Should it mean building a factory by destroying ecosystems, to offer menial jobs for the rural communities?
Or can it also mean educating the communities to be well equipped with modern tools to continue their native traditional family businesses with more ease & well-being?
- Are we okay with displacing Tribal communities from their homes, compensated with a little money, for a large pompous project?
Or can it instead mean a focus on access to healthcare and education for every Indian no matter where they live?
- Is it wise to encourage the growth of real estate around already crowded metropolitan cities, when 21 major cities of India are soon about to face a major water crisis?
The ones way forward in any issue is education!
The circular economy thrives on the use of existing resources rather than mining new material, making it the optimum solution for our economic future. Imagine how deep the illusion of development can run into our minds that many of us still assume the only way we can have a healthy economy is if we destroy virgin natural resources. We urgently need to educate our peers so communities can begin to collectively brainstorm for a green economic future!
CONNECTING THE DOTS BEFORE US
A clear example has been the flood-stricken western coast of India. This monsoon season, every poor infrastructural decision was tested by the force of nature. We saw the collapse before our very eyes!
Land reclamation, building houses next to rivers illegally, a settlement near dams, cutting down mangroves on coastlines to make way for more infrastructure, has proven to be a very costly consequence of development. These floods will go on to cost crores of rupees worth of damage to our nation, which isn’t part of the economic benefits we were promised.
Yet when we speak about this, it seems as though many of us have not been able to connect the dots. Most people cheer the new infrastructure projects in one hand and blame inaction for disaster management of municipality on the other hand. It is time we begin to see how everything is connected in the grand web that is mother nature. It is the destruction of forests with deep roots, that have led to the loss of water retention after rainfall. Concretization during infrastructural projects has been a major culprit in the reduction of ground-water levels in India. And to add to this pressure has been our own wasteful habit of over-consuming water resources.
“Construction is not equal to Development. What we are doing right now is constructing, we are not developing. Development is ensuring people have enough water, public transport is accessible, make sure cities don’t flood with water, living in better harmony, better comfort, better health. That is Development” Says Anand Siva. “Anything else is mere destruction or construction”
Resources for more information:
https://www.techvshuman.com/2016/08/15/gross-domestic-product-vs-gross-national-happiness-gdp-vs-gnh/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8a9xWfuzgQ https://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/narendra-modis-top-10-signature-infrastructure-projects-to-power-new-india/613121/ https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/indian-forest-act-amendment-govt-ready-with-first-draft-63654