When a team of young French civil servants selected by the Paris-based Foundation Nationale Entreprise et Performance (FNEP) visited India in the second week of November, the media was quick to assume they had come to India with a technology offer. A press release from an apex industry organisation further confused the issue when it declared that the team was "keen to tie up with Indian entrepreneurs to train Indian personnel on environment and pollution abatement".
But an FNEP note revealed that the officials were actually on a study tour for firsthand exposure that would enable them to include environmental dimensions into strategies adopted by their firms. Said team-member Kristin Schreiber, an administrator with the European Economic Commission in Paris, the team visited the Daurala Organics unit, the Mathura refinery and some plants belonging to the Shriram group; apex bodies such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Indian Industry, and regulatory agencies such as the Central Pollution Control Board and the Union ministry of environment and forests.
Reflecting on their observations in India, group leader Regis Dubourg, who works for the French ministry of agriculture and rural development, said, "Only when industry realises that profits can be increased by waste minimisation and pollution abatement, will it care for the environment. Popular pressure is more effective than regulation to compel industries to take action." Schreiber observed, "In India, efficient technology co-exists with conventional technology, which leads to unique environmental problems."