IT HAPPENS ONLY IN INDIA,
GREAT JOB MR. PARMAR
it is good to eat as many as vegetables and fruits (totally vegetarian), but my aurvedic doctor asked me to stop eating every...
Book>> How Much Should A Person Consume, Thinking Through The Environment by Ramachandra Guha Permanent Black New Delhi, 2006
In 1958, the us thinker John Kenneth Galbraith laid threadbare the social consequences of mass consumption in The Affluent Society. Galbraith highlighted the "preoccupation with productivity and production" in post-war usa and Western Europe. Productivity and production has become the hegemonic credo of the world today. It's the overwhelming preoccupation of policy-makers, economists and the middle classes in much of the post-globalised Third World. But societies here have a critical difference with those studied by Galbraith.Galbraith's subjects had, by and large, been adequately housed, clothed, and fed; so, now they expressed a desire for "more elegant cars, more exotic food, more erotic clothing, more elaborate entertainment". That's not so in the Third World enormous swathes of deprivation here are interspersed by small pockets of middle and upper class affluence
But make no mistake. It's not a small number we are talking of. The Indian middle classes, for example, comprise a much larger market than entire population of Australasia. What does their swaggering buoyancy augur for democracy? What does it do to the already strained natural resources? Are there any moral checks to the middle class's voracity? Ramachandra Guha's How much should a person consume does not offer easy answers.
And that's among the greatest merits of this collection of essays. Guha has had a long--though sometimes tart--scholarly engagement with environmental movements in India. He homes in on this engagement to answer the question raised in the book's title. One can't help but discern a self-reflexive academic at work here. Experiential and scholarly influences form the core of these essays. Most of them have appeared elsewhere and seem to have been expanded for this volume.
Some of his strongest praise is heaped on the Scottish town planner Patrick Geddes, the us thinker Lewis Mumford and the Indian ecologist--Guha's mentor--Madhav Gadgil. Geddes conceptualised the city as an extension of the countryside, Mumford engaged with the sociological implications of technology and urban life and Gadgil continues to combine his passion for fieldwork with a commitment to solving practical problems.
The three thinkers inhabit the intellectual interface between the three locales Guha concentrates on the wilderness, the village and the city.These have been subjects of philosophies which Guha describes as the troika of primitivism, agrarianism and scientific industrialism. He rejects these as romantic and incapable of offering socially progressive and ecologically sustainable alternatives.
Guha also has little patience for Gandhian models which emphasise the village as the centrepiece of economic development. But he also acknowledges the radical inspiration which a lot of India's environmental movements draw from Gandhian thought--Chipko, for instance, or the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Guha describes them as radical critiques of received notions of development, as well as a defence of people's rights over their environment.
But how much should we consume? Guha's potted ecological history makes for an excellent introduction to this complicated subject.
His analyses, however, sit uncomfortably with the solutions he advocates privatisation of goods and services. To be fair he does say that social and environmental costs must be taken into account. And he also calls for participatory democracy, greater literacy, land reform and health care.
But such homilies are now routinely mouthed by advocates as diverse as left-wing economists and World Bank mandarins. And Guha's optimism about the way the world is heading does appear somewhat nave, especially in the aftermath of the recent report of the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change.