Being Indian

I couldn’t have timed this post more perfectly,this is published on Indian Republic Day.

“My wealth has come from a combination of living in America, some lucky genes, and compound interest. Both my children and I won what I call the ovarian lottery.”-Warren Buffet (More)

Pursuing a Sustainable Development degree in 2016 wouldn’t have been the same had I done it a few years earlier more so because I’m doing it from an Indian context (for most part).

What is Sustainable Development?

This is a tough question, not because I can’t answer it but Sustainable Development or rather sustainability has become a ‘cliche’ word. True, it could be used under many contexts but with a same perspective that believes in consistency of results by tapping in on the human capital and drawing out from the natural capital for a wider good. It becomes unsustainable when this balance is compromised. An inclusive and balanced development is what it means.

The Geographical Lottery

Countries in general have to be lucky. A development of a country is directly proportional to its physical location and the natural resources it inherits. Countries that are now called under developed to an extent have a common pattern; they are either land locked, in central Africa, or a small island with zero or little natural resources below the ground. (This analogy is well explained by Jeffrey Sachs in his book, the age of sustainable development). So isn’t it fair when these countries demand more compensation for damages suffered from climate risks?

The case of India

Historically in the pattern of development, with its geographical positioning and vast area, India shouldn’t have the tag ‘Developing’ now. Well, that is what most historians say and I don’t take sides on this. But, I felt there was some meaning to what former undersecretary to the UN Shashi Tharoor had to say in his speech “Britain owes Reparations to her former colonies” . (The video link)  Would India have been a different country without that period in history? It’s tough to conclude!

Nevertheless, 69 years later we have indeed made significant progress in economic and social development, although the development has not been inclusive. We have significant gaps between the top and the bottom. It is in bridging this gap that the nation is working towards but under the watchful eyes of the world. Why? Before I come to that, let’s look at what India has to offer.

India is the biggest democracy; of course if you are a democratic nation with a population of 1.2 billion you could easily get the tag. There is a sense of pride in a related fact when I say we are the first country to use electronic voting machines in the democratic process. Yes, we are good at science and technology, talking of which I recollect the other bragging right we got when we entered the Martian orbit for the fraction of cost to what NASA managed (Read More).

Talking of brilliance, we shouldn’t forget ‘jugaad’ the Indian way of doing things with basic materials but  generating maximum output. This incorporates the core principles of sustainability. This particular concept has now been adopted by multinationals in sustainability. (Read more about ‘Jugaad Innovation and how it has been accepted as frugal innovation by the western world)

One of the positives of being ruled by the British was that we had a natural affiliation with the english language which helped in securing jobs that were outsourced to smart people who were fluent in english. With its rapidly growing population and the developing economy with disposable income it has provided a big market of Multi National Companies (MNCs) to setup bases. And the diversity it offers has also benefited many NGOs in running experiments and trials that could then be adopted to different countries.

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But, the context in which we are currently seen is not really pleasing. We always called for climate justice in the Paris agreement but the global media did portray us in a wrong light. We never stalled the proceedings.

Glad we had an answer to that!

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Is it wrong to ask for a share of carbon space to accommodate the minimum development that we need? We aren’t building more coal power plants than the world is building. Here are some answers to that.

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COP2

There are however some concrete developmental issues that come about in discussion for which I have no answer. Like this one

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However, I would look at the positive side of it and see the penetration of mobile network in India and the way it has connected people together and delivered services. Overall, Being Indian in 2016 could be tricky in what you are expected to know and answer but I see an opportunity for a development that is sustainable. It doesn’t matter if we classify what we don’t have but rather look at what opportunities are presented through them. But for that to happen we need the world to allow us some breathing space and use some resources.

 

 

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