Why Now is a Good Time to Track India’s Green Economy
The green economy is a combination of two words: greenery (ecology) and economy. Economics studies human needs in relation to material ends and means, while ecology deals with the study of living organisms and their interactions with the environment. Green economy is a new theory and approach in which an economy is seen as a component of the ecosystem in which it resides. Simply, the economy is part of the ecosystem in which it exists, being its subsystem. The green economy is known by different names such as eco-economy or ecological economy.
According to this theory, material wealth and the environment are not mutually exclusive. It presupposes that the economic resources of the earth and planet earth are interconnected, interdependent and can coexist. The purpose of the economy to satisfy the material needs of human beings cannot be at the expense of the environment, which is as important for the well-being of human beings as its material well-being.
Green economy refers to efforts to identify a path of growth that leads to sustainable development – ecological, economic and social. It seeks to expand existing economic theory to include natural systems of the earth and its resources, human health, values and their well-being that are not considered in conventional economic theories. He also stresses that natural resources should not be destroyed in the name of the economy. It is not about shutting down economic activities in the name of the environment; however, it aims to foster economic efficiency and sound decision-making by fully considering all cost effects of economic activities on natural systems and resources. Thus, it speaks of sustainable economic development through the path of green growth.
It seeks to extend the traditional concept of green growth and GDP to GGDP (Green Gross Domestic Product) which incorporates environmental costs into a country’s conventional GDP. Green GDP takes into account the loss of biodiversity and accounts for the costs induced by climate change. It also includes physical indicators such as ‘waste per capita’ or ‘carbon dioxide emissions per year’, which can be aggregated to indices such as the Green Development Index. In June 2009, 34 countries signed a declaration on green growth, recognizing that greening and growth can go hand in hand.
The twin factors of the economy are production and consumption. The green economy views natural capital as an essential economic asset. For this, the green economy proposes sustainable consumption and production. It does this by championing the safeguarding, restoration and investment in nature. It proposes investing in the protection, growth and restoration of biodiversity, soil, water, air and natural systems. Unlike the traditional approach to economics, the green economy focuses on growing wealth that will support well-being as well as well-being. Financial wealth is a means to achieve well-being that is not just material but includes the full range of human, social, physical and natural capital. It takes a long-term view of the economy, creating wealth and resilience that serve the interests of future citizens, while acting urgently to address today’s multidimensional poverty and injustice. An inclusive green economy is low carbon, resource efficient, diverse and circular. It encompasses new models of economic development that meet the challenge of creating prosperity within planetary boundaries. On an institutional basis, the green economy is driven by integrated, accountable and resilient institutions.
Green economy in Indian cultural ethos
Indian traditions, values and culture have always been the proponents of unity with nature. Man is not an independent individual; it is part of a larger universe. According to Indian scriptures, as human beings who are composed of Panchtatva (five basic elements of earth, water, fire, air and space), the universe is also composed of these five elements. Our scriptures from the Vedas and Upanishads to the Puranas worship these five gross elements and teach us to protect them for our own survival.
Amazingly, the pollution referred to in these ancient texts is the deterioration of these five raw elements through unethical activities. The Rig’s Vedic hymns refer to gods and goddesses like the sun, moon, thunder, lightning, snow, rain, water, rivers, trees, etc., and were glorified and worshiped as givers of health, wealth and prosperity. Veda, which is chanted at every auspicious occasion, worships the sun daily. ancient Indian traditions of sacred grove, which consists of a clump of old trees, usually on the outskirts of a village, which were left untouched when the first settlers cleared the forest to establish the village, are still followed in many rural areas. Jainism advocates total non-violence or Ahimsah which forbids killing even the smallest insects or microbes. Sri Guru Granth Sahib states, “Air is the guru, water is the father and earth is the great mother of all.
In his treatise Arthshastra, Kautiliya emphasizes the economic importance of forests in the formulation of state principles and policies. This is perhaps the oldest reference we have ever found to the “green economy” in the written history of the world. For him, nature and economy coexist and the state can only flourish if the ecology is preserved. It gives the concept of Dravyavan which is an economic forest where economic resources can be exploited but not at the expense of ecology. It mentions special posts responsible for protecting and safeguarding wildlife, preventing the act of poaching. Chanakya’s reference to vikriti (pollution) warns people about the side effects of impurity in the air and polluted water.
Achieving Green Economy in India
The green economy aims for sustainable consumption as well as sustainable production. At the individual level, the green economy aims for minimalism, which means that the consumer, when using any resource, should be guided by their needs rather than greed. One school of thought, also known as eco-idealist, assumes that man is a rational ecological human being who can reverse environmental degradation by changing his way of life as follows minimalism in which man uses minimal resources.
Nature has its own solution and will eventually lead to a healthy balance between man and ecology and green growth. The COVID-19 period is cited as evidence where the reduction in human activities has led to improved ecological conditions like cleaner water in rivers, less air pollution, etc. Indian culture has an inherent philosophy of minimalism which is juxtaposed with the growing Western culture of consumerism. . There is another vision, called eco-capitalist, which says that sustainable development can be achieved within existing structures by modifying existing laws, by promoting green and environmental technologies, by a carbon tax, by decarbonization and by limiting the use of perishable natural resources.
So, to follow the path of green economy, we need to combine the above two approaches. At the individual level, a culture of minimalism and concern for mother nature must be imbued in education from school age. For this, the values of being one with nature, planting and purifying air, water and other natural resources must be incorporated into the curriculum. The 5Rs – reuse, reduce, recycle, refuse and reuse – should be part of the curriculum. The other way is to invest heavily in green technologies such as renewable energy, resource-efficient technologies and carbon-free technologies.
Renewables provide power in four important areas: power generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services. Renewable energy is harvested from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished, including carbon neutral sources like sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, biomass and geothermal heat. At the policy level, incentives for efficient use of natural resources and assets, including improving productivity, reducing waste and energy consumption, and making resources available at their highest value , should be targeted.
Opportunities for innovation in green technologies addressing environmental issues should be encouraged. To do this, we need to create new markets by stimulating demand for green technologies, goods and services; create new job opportunities. Now is the time to follow the green economy.
The author is an interior designer. She has created more than 120 mini-forests and 700 vertical gardens with plastic bottle waste with her husband. The opinions expressed are personal.
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