The altar is no alternative

SACRIFICING OUR FUTURE: THE NEW ECONOMIC POLICY AND THE ENVIRONMENT·Ashish and Miloon Kothari·The Consumer Unity and Trust Society, Calcutta·1995· Price Rs 20

By Milind K Pathak
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

In this paper, the brothers Ashish and Miloon Kothari have ably examined the effects of the new economic policy (nep) on India's environment during the post-reform period (1991-1995). They strike home when they say that the effect of the nep on the environment can at best be described as "throwing the baby out with the bathwater". Some of the consequences of liberalisation have been the encouragement of consumerism and mncs, the dropping of barriers to industrial production and the expansion of privatisation.

The authors feel that the environment has been viewed by framers of the nep as "a sink into which the effluents of affluence can be thrown".They also state that the nep, which focusses on aquaculture, agro-industries and food-processing, has intensified commercial fisheries and cash crop cultivation, disrupting the livelihoods of indigenous people.

So, the only ray of hope is an expression of mass disgruntlement. This is where the authors' activist leanings perhaps overshadow the neutrality expected of an academic understanding of the subject. But, they also propose that the government should play a pivotal role in "harmonising developmental and environmental interests". People-based develomental efforts like the one in Sukhomajri in Uttar Pradesh could inspire the same.

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