Struggles for environmental justice on rise in India, China
Exploring struggles and innovations for environmental sustainability in India and China, a new book nudges stakeholders to "rethink" pressing ecological concerns arising in these nations in the context of current rapid industrial expansion and rise in number of protests for sustainability and equity.
"Environmental Sustainability from the Himalayas to the Oceans Struggles and Innovations in China and India" published by Springer and co-edited by Shikui Dong, Jayanta Bandyopadhyay and Sanjay Chaturvedi, presents a historical perspective of social innovations and struggles for environmental justice in the two 'civilisational twins', with ecosystems and economies that depend on the 'Himalayan water tower'.
"In both China and India, the number of struggles in the form of social-environmental protests and movements is one the rise, demanding information symmetry, transparency, and participatory decision-making. The system of public interest litigation introduced in India exemplifies a judicial innovation to protect and promote the social space," the book states.
China and India need to get their acts together given their need for providing a better quality of life catering to their very large populations, said Bandyopadhyay, an expert on environmental policy.
"These countries cannot continue with the Euro-centric perspectives of human advancement through merely economic growth. The present environmental issues need to be looked at from the perspective of a new perception of modernity and industrial advancement. The accumulation of greenhouse gases are products of the earlier industrial revolution but these issues should be rethought in the present context," he told IANS.
Contending that China and India should lead the world in terms of both modernity and human development, Bandyopadhyay itiin the book: "The regional and global responsibility that accompanies their rise in international system further compels China and India to strengthen the collective pursuit of finding common innovative solutions to multi-scalar and incremental environmental challenges such as climate change."
"The challenge of finding innovative solutions to the problem of environmental unsustainability in China and India is compounded by global power-political transformations, on the one hand, and the dominance of Euro-centric experiences and understandings of environment, and 'environmental movement', on the other."
Bandyopadhyay stressed on the need to mend the "divorce of social from the ecological".
He said the trend of putting up a "green" face to avoid criticism and condemnation from the civil society and the voluntary sector, has facilitated a more market-driven, techno-scientific approach to environmental sustainability that leaves "largely unaddressed" the gap between the scientific and the cultural understanding of nature and the environment.
"A collective note of appeal is sounded in this book in favour of bridging this gap by emphasising the central and strategic importance of social innovation as the fulcrum around which various other approaches to environmental sustainability, including legal and institutional, could revolve. Leadership in science is as important as leadership of equitable social distribution of use of that knowledge," Bandyopadhyay added.
The book provides a background of environmental history in both countries, and particularly on the deplorable environmental status of the two 'Mother Rivers', Yellow River in China and the Ganga in India.