Development and Sustainability: India in a Global Perspective

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Our analysis has shown that India's per capita levels of material use are still far below the global average, while pressures on the regional, national and global environments caused by India's metabolism are already now considerable. At the same time, India's metabolism, and above all the use of mineral and fossil materials, is growing with its economy and is likely to continue to do so. A simple back of the envelope calculation illustrates the impossibility of such a business as usual development.

If India with a projected population of 1. India's total DMC would increase from currently 4 Gigatons per year to roughly 22 Gigaton, which is almost a third of the current levels of global resource use annually.

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Thus, if India would adopt the metabolic profile of Japan, currently one of the best performing industrial countries, this would result in enormous pressures on India's and on the global environment. The hope lies in the fact that for India, still in the early stages of a metabolic transition, the directions of change may be less path-dependent as compared to other booming Asia-Pacific countries such as China that are already far ahead with a resource intensive strategy of industrialisation Schandl and West, In the last three decades, the Indian economy has exhibited a new pattern of physical growth shifting from a biomass towards a mineral and fossil resource base, and towards a growing per capita resource use.

There is no doubt that India's metabolism will grow in the coming decades. Just as it is imperative that the fully industrial economies will need to reduce their metabolism, India needs to be able to increase its currently extremely low level of resource consumption to improve the quality of life of its population. India needs access to energy and key raw materials, but it is extremely doubtful that India can adopt metabolic patterns typical for industrial economies.

The big question that arises is, how India, which will be inhabited by 1. India would need a new resource revolution.

Development and Sustainability

But unlike the green revolution, which boosted the output of plant based raw materials through increasing inputs of energy and fertilizers, the next revolution must reduce both the use of fossil fuels and mineral materials. Extraction and processing of mineral materials not only exacerbates the need for more fossil energy, but is often reported to cause social conflicts, dispossession and violence Padel and Das, ; Temper and Martinez-Alier, While part of this can probably be reached with efficiency gains and progress in prevailing technologies, but solving this puzzle will also require more fundamental changes.

There is a host of extremely promising examples and initiatives in India that need to be recognised, rather than imitating western capitalism and industrialisation. For example, introducing different patterns of mobility such as urban mass transport, freight movement by railways and energy efficient vehicles and resource efficient settlement patterns and infrastructure design that are less environmentally damaging such as in the use of compressed earth block technology, decentralised rural solar energy system, solar refrigeration in dairy, and the use of wind power should be widely considered, together with a high rate of use of the internet for communications and work.

TERI has identified SME clusters that are material and energy intensive but with high potential to bring about technological revolutions that will not only be environmentally friendly but also profitable Sethi, New regimes are being created in terms of food, energy and infrastructure and opportunities for new niches are abundant van den Bergh and Bruinsma, ; Wiskerke and Van der Ploeg, India is not to expect a top-down transition driven by national policies and programmes alone, but to focus on multi-level transitions based on socio-technological innovations compatible with culture, markets, organisation, regulation and infrastructures Geels, ; Smith et al.

Markets, entrepreneurship, and innovation should play an important role. The challenge, however, is that capacities in terms of securing an educated population, creating green jobs, science and technology institutions, markets and governance system needs considerable improvement. Systematic research on the links between the increased social metabolism and ecological distribution conflicts and resistance movements that propose alternative solutions would be useful. To find ways is not only imperative for India but also for the global community, by burden sharing, technological transfer and by using a host of integrated and interdisciplinary approaches to make India, the world's largest democracy, also a trendsetter in seeking a new definition of quality of life and human well-being in line with a viable and healthy environment.

Further, we assumed that 1. To adjust for rural construction activities not related to concrete or asphalt production we further assumed a consumption of 0. The two droughts were in —66, that lead to a massive food crisis. Food grains had to be imported from the United States, but on one occasion, against the backdrop of the Cold War, a U. S shipment was stopped on the way to ensure compliance from India. For example, more than half of the fertilizer use is concentrated in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh.

Among the most important factors driving these increases in feeding efficiency were a shift towards more productive livestock species like chicken and poultry, improvements in the quality of feed from crop residues towards market feed and also a shift from multifunctional livestock providing labour, manure and milk in subsistence agriculture towards the production of meat and milk. This is a very modest gain as compared to its neighbour Bangladesh that moved 11 ranks higher in the same period Campbell et al. National Center for Biotechnology Information , U.

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Simron Jit Singh: ta. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract India's economic growth in the last decade has raised several concerns in terms of its present and future resource demands for materials and energy. Introduction Within the ongoing discourse on global sustainability, India has come to feature rather prominently with its unequivocal message of attaining a higher material standard of living for its population by , at par with industrialised nations.


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Concepts, methods and data sources We use the concept of social or industrial metabolism Ayres and Simonis, and the corresponding methodology of material flow accounting MFA to investigate changes in India's biophysical economy, compatible to standard monetary system of accounts Fischer-Kowalski et al. It has been argued that DMC also equals the waste potential of an economy in the long run. Negative values indicate net exports. It is the inverse of material productivity.

Material flows through the Indian economy — 4. Overall trends In this section we report results of our calculations on material flows in India to examine the ongoing metabolic transition in India since the s. Open in a separate window. India's biomass system Biomass is the most essential of the four material groups, providing food, feed, fuel and raw materials.

Mineral and fossil materials Mineral and fossil materials show a fundamentally different pattern of development over time as compared to biomass Steinberger et al. Socio-metabolic transitions and the sustainability challenge: India and the global context India shows key features of a sociometabolic transition from agrarian to industrial society Fischer-Kowalski and Haberl, ; Haberl et al. Outlook In the last three decades, the Indian economy has exhibited a new pattern of physical growth shifting from a biomass towards a mineral and fossil resource base, and towards a growing per capita resource use.

References Ahluwalia I. Oxford University Press; Delhi: Ariza-Montobbio P. Ecological Economics.

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