Community accounting I
I enjoyed reading the article Community Enterprise Unlimited (March 15, 1994). I also had the opportunity of listening to Sixto K Roxas and fully subscribe to his view that the "business" approach to life and work is destroying every basic ideology, and the purpose of life and living.
Traditional cultures, communities, human dignity, rural livelihood systems and eco-systems are being destroyed by profit-maximising "business" enterprises all over the world.
For example, air and water pollution created during the production of goods like paper, chemical fertilisers, pesticides and leather, reduces the quality of life of the people/community living in the close proximity, but this loss/cost is not reflected in the enterprise's accounts. In fact, the accounts will show increased production and hence increased national income year after year.
In other words, what is needed is a system of listing and valuation of natural resources and environmental amenities, creating property rights and vesting them in local communities.
It is gratifying to know that now a few research organisations in India are making a humble beginning to develop natural resource accounting systems.
Community accounting II
The paper by Filipino Economist Sixto K Roxas is pathbreaking in the area of community participation for natural resource accounting.
With increasing marketisation, community feeling is gradually eroding. Modern growth has had painful impacts --increased social tensions, family break-ups and the neglect of the aged. On the other hand, the ecological damages of modern growth such as global warming, ozone layer depletion, acid rain and nuclear waste are threatening civilisation.
Roxas' paper breathes fresh air into community participation. His contribution lies in suggesting an innovative way of moulding communities into business culture without losing their human values and at the same time preserving the common good. The world in an enterprise-mode has now to seek the support of community for lessening the damages inflicted by the process of growth and modernisation. Alternatively, the whole enterprise would some day collapse under the weight of its damages and negative externalities.
The idea of empowering the community to do its own accounting is excellent but making the idea operational at the field level requires more thinking on its modus operandi.
With reference to the feature, The spirit of the sanctuary (January 31, 1994), I would like to say that the enoromous collective effort, both at the research as well as editorial levels, that has gone into writing this article is extremely impressive, even for this journal, renowned for its thoroughness.
Let me also add that the underlying tone of the whole endeavour seems to be one of nostalgia. One could underwrite the decline of old values that had for long sustained an ecological or social system in either of two ways: with the sentiment of a sense of loss and a fond backward glance; or, as a matter of sociological datum, the outcome of a society in motion, which should compel one to seek alternative modes for minimising ecological imbalance.
I think any counterposition of ecology and development can only be self-defeating for ecology. It is this perspective that I thought was missing from the article. But that is my honest opinion, which might not necessarily be right.
In your March 15, 1994 issue, reference was made to the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute working on solar cookers. Many thanks for the publicity. However, we do not deal in solar cookers and I do not know how your correspondent got this information.
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