Human development and the Environment - zzzzzzzzzzzz !!!

Do they go hand in hand? Or is human development measured by economic growth only?

I just googled human development and this is the first line of the wikipedia stub I came across “In the scope of humanity, human development is an international and economic development paradigm” I am not saying that wikipedia is the be all and end all of everything about humanity and everything else under the sun … however, this is the exact approach that we are depreciating right?

Of course, the wikipedia stub then goes on to elaborate that “it is about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests … The most basic capabilities for human development are to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community.”

Where does environment fit in here? Besides the idea of creating one that is congenial to human development? What about the natural environment? Nature, environment? Environment, nature? Rice, beans … rice and beans … ring a bell?

To many it doesn’t ring a bell and I am pretty certain many outside this small web community will be squeamish upon hearing a quote (albeit indirect) from the movie ‘the 11th hour’, which goes something like … nature includes us, we are part of nature –of environment, and the human trait of seeing oneself as removed from nature is almost a psychological disorder.

So, to answer the question, “Should we assume that today, environment as an indicator to human development is accepted only on paper and not in spirit?” … YES! Very much so!

World culture of the 20th Century does not dictate equal growth, sustainable development and other such shenanigans. It dictates consumerism. This new world culture is that of Wall Marts, and Malls, and Supermarkets. Everything is super-sized and on a scheme (!?!) just like your Mc Donald’s meal. It’s a world full of mesmerizing building length counters of food, clothing, shampoo, and fairness creams. It’s a world of ‘Surplus’.

This world of Surplus of the developed nations is standing proud on a rock solid foundation i.e., -- the ‘greed’ of the corporations. A corporation is basically a giant that makes people of the developing nations labour over the customized goods supposedly manufactured by the corporation; pays them hundreds of times lesser the wages they would pay employees of their own colour/country; and then sells these goods for hundreds of times higher the prices than their worth. It’s a rock solid formula, which reaps gold if anyone uses it. And ‘anyone’ is using it. Developing nations are taking to it like moths to light!

And of course, it doesn’t matter if in the process of reaping gold the alimentary canal of the giants also reaps environmentally lethal substances. It’s easy to get rid of such blames using a strategy called … ‘deny, delay, dominate, dump’.

(Exemplary article) http://www.oneclimate.net/2009/04/30/corporate-greenwash-and-the-ozone-layer/

And God forbid, if something like ‘economic recession’ (sort of like influenza in human ailment terms) hits the giants, they simply shuffle the gold around. The gold that isn’t available for “human development” but only for “Surplus”.

(Exemplary article) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8036559.stm

In today’s day in fact, oil which is basically according to some scientists ‘a pocket full of sunlight in some form, stored in the depths of our planet millions of years ago’ has become almost as valuable as gold because we are beginning to run short of it.

So, its not difficult to see CEO’s of some of the most important nations of the world doing all in their might to hoard barrelful’s of it … or create situations wherein they can acquire it easily, going as far as maintaining healthy relations with families and friends of our world’s most dangerous terrorists. (Hint – I am referring to Uncle Sam)

In this world of Surplus … right next to the chewing gum counter, is a large counter of butter popcorn packs, you just have to open the poly pack and shove the paper bag containing corn into the microwave and ta-da … Popcorn Ding!

Of course, in this same world … in fact in the same country … there are my relatives from Phalaur, Punjab – who are very very surprised on seeing the preparation of this delicacy – not because they’ve never the popcorn packs before … but because they’ve never seen a “microwave” EVER before in their lives.

So, now not only is there a huge gap between the consumerism driven lives of the developed nations … but also amongst individual cities of the developing ones … cities approximately 300 kilometers away from each other!

So, what are these ‘apparently’ developed cities of developing nations catching on to? I believe they are learning to live without ‘nature’ from the developed nations. And it certainly is a fast spreading disease.

But, if I am to believe the argument that ‘humans are a part of nature’, then even as developed cities we cannot possibly be living without nature, can we? Well then, we must be “royally screwing” our own environment that we live in, isn’t it? I guess so! But what can be done about it huh?

Coming back to the other aspects of human development in context of our own country … Do we have any of these going for us – factors that are considered crucial for human development? Or is it unfair to generalize?

Education and knowledge – Well, not everywhere
Health and longevity – Ahem! Umm! Not really!
Overall social and physical environment of people – Erm! Well you know … It’s a rather tall order …

Hmm! So, is India really developing, going by the adage of "India Shining".

Well, I guess so! I mean we have the IPL, don't we? Its all for a good cause!


Remya said...

I think India is developing. Yes we have a long way to go. A long long way to go. I guess that too depends on people like you and me. Even if its as small an action as not littering or not spitting on the roads or using less plastic bags or turning off the lights when we leave a room. And of course, in our own small ways, explain to/convince others of what they should be doing.

i strongly believe that most people don't care beyond lip service... whoever they might be (politicians, corporates,public figures, citizens etc etc). but an individual can only take responsibility for what she does. I think sometimes we are so excited (or disillusioned)by the concept of "India" that we forget that all India really is is a coming-together of many different kinds of people who choose to call themselves Indians. So as Indians, what are you and I doing to make India shine?

At the end of the day if you feel your India is shining (and i don't mean it in a selfish/tunnel-vision kind of way)because of something you as an individual have done... or not done...then we are one step closer to "development"... whatever that means.

sacredeastwind said...

You're right! We are making progress and I shouldn't be too harsh. However, my pwoblem is that we are doing so at the cost of our environment. I truly believe that the answer lies in a complete revamping of our processes like the building process, the transportation process, the industrial process.

I don't mind the slow speed of progress, in fact that's how it should be, slow and steady. But look at what are currently losing in return for that