Problems of sustainable development in India

Problems of sustainable development are rooted in issues of resource use and their pattern of distribution and ownership. Thus a policy towards sustainable development cannot be framed in isolation to politics and state regulations. The world community is confronted by a chicken and egg controversy; economic problems aggravate resources crisis and environmental despoliation and this leads to constrained economic revival due to which nations find it more difficult to solve problems of unsustainable use of environment. In a world where progress depends on a complex set of national and international economic ties, any step towards sustainable patterns of growth involves as yet unresolved problems and challenges.

In the 1970s the debate on development was safely mortizat between the issue of environment and development. This decade saw a major revision in the thought of development itself and that has presented a major challenge to the conventional consensus on economic development. New expressions such as ‘sustainable development’ have added new dimension to development debates. The problem today is not primarily one of absolute physical shortage but of economic and social mal-distribution and misuse.’ Thus United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 1975 explains ‘environmental management implies sustainable development’. Since then the challenge as expressed in the Brundtland Report also as ‘the process of economic development (which) must be more soundly based on the stock of capital that sustains it.’

Issues of sustainable development have become centre stage to economic debates and are now setting the pattern of economic growth and world trade. The conventional agenda of the trans national businesses is found to be inadequate for sustainable development programmes of developing and transitional countries and international institutions are required to implement inter and intra-generational equity and justice in trade pacts. The challenge of changing lifestyles and mode of production would require a technological change towards a just order. Economic growth cannot be translated into economic well being till distribution of costs and benefits of both financial and natural resources in economic policies is accounted for. It has been found that the costs of development are generally borne by the poor and subsistence community but the benefits are always falling into the pockets of the rich.

This is also translated into international relations where the poor countries over-extract their resources to meet the requirements of the international market under the pressure of debt and amortization payments leaving them with no choice but to abuse their environmental resources in an unsustainable manner. Thus the primary requirement of sustainable economic prosperity in the world is to make the international economic system more equitable and just so that the developing countries can access it more vibrantly. It would also need a firm action towards debt servicing so that the poor countries may come out of the debt trap and participate in the world economic recovery programmes. Success of sustainable development is dependent upon the capacity development of the developing countries and environmental management. The main purpose of this programme would be to establish better management practices for both the human and the natural resources through innovations in technology, social policies, political and cultural paradigms.