Friday, June 06, 2008

Change We Can Believe In

Change We Can Believe In
. Yes, I borrow from Barack Obama, his catchy statement to believe that as Indians we can!

In the first ever, opinion poll on environment, conducted by CNNIBN in partnership with CSE and Outlook Magazine and telecast on 5th June 2008 - most Indians ranked environment pollution as their second worst, problem in a list of six and believe that air, water and noise pollution will get worse. Needless to say the first is, rising prices.

The panel comprised Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Dr Subir Gokarn, chief economist for Standard and Poor in the Asia Pacific region, CSE director Sunita Narain, Rahul Ram, lead vocalist of music band Indian Ocean, and Ramachandra Guha, historian and writer.

Most Delhiites will agree that the city is choking because of the high pollution level, which incidentally is back to the pre-CNG days. And no prizes for guessing that the biggest contributor to the pollution are automobiles.

Ironically, Delhi is also one of the few Indian cities to have done more than its fair share to cut air pollution in the last six years.

Polluting industries have been relocated, government buses, three-wheelers, and taxis run on CNG, 15-year-old commercial vehicles are off roads and there is a tighter control on power plants, but none of this is able to combat 4.5 million registered vehicles with 1,000 being added every day. Add to this, an ever increasing number of diesel vehicles and the future looks completely dismal.

“The gains that we had made in switching buses to CNG is being nullified because of increase in private diesel vehicles and pollution caused by them,” Vivek Chattopadhyaya from the Centre for Science and Environment explained.

Indians may regard air pollution as the country’s worst environment problem but they think industries are the top culprits for this and vehicles next. Is it a case of ‘my car doesn’t pollute’?

“Everybody wants to think he or she is good, nobody wants to admit that they might have something to do with environmental problems. The mindset is if it’s green—haryali—it can’t be polluting. Nobody thinks that better public transport can take the burden off the environment too,” said Ram.

People’s good intentions won’t end pollution; environment-friendly policies will need hard work and long-term commitment, said Gokarn. Polluting industries will have to be taxed and environment-friendly ones given incentives—tasks that require effort and coordination, he said.

People have to pay some price for a better environment, said Guha. “Cities will have to stop shifting the burden to the countryside. Delhi is situated on the Yamuna but the river is dead; Varanasi is on the Ganga but the river is dead. Urban Indians need to think about the footprint of their activities on the hinterland.”

“People are not being asked to give up their cars, but give them affordable, convenient and the best option to travel,” said Narain.

The survey’s findings reflect the “maturing of the environment” in India. “Urban Indians are realizing the problem that is staring at all of us,” she added”

We do. And how! And we find that it is already too late. We need to pull up our socks and - Be The Change We Want.

And this has to begin with you and me. Industry has to be forced to change. If we as customers, refuse to buy, products that are environmentally unfriendly, they will be forced to change their mindset which is always, profits at any cost.

It has to begin at your home and mine, in schools, colleges, indeed everywhere, we need to teach and follow what we preach, on becoming conscientious citizens of the world.

Strategies To Use To Combat Environmental Damage

Say no to diesel cars. And SUV. Take a bus to office and leave your car at home for weekend use. Opt for car pools, cut down on the number of private vehicles. Use buses, Metro, eco-friendly modes of communications whenever possible, like bikes, CNG, LPG, electricity run vehicles.

Walk! Its good for you

Junk bottled water. Demand clean water. Insist in free water as a basic human right

Use less water, to discharge less sewage. All the sewage finally goes to the rivers. Think when you flush. Insist your colony recycles its waste-water and reuse it

The tiger is beautiful. So are the tribal who co-exist with them. Demand justice for both

To make your beautiful home green, harvest rain water, use water saving toilets, segregate garbage and compost kitchen waste. Use CFL bulbs, and solar hot water heater

Impose economic sanctions against the US for rogue climate behavior

Do not use any product which uses plastic to pack food or other stuff. This will put pressure on manufacturers to make recyclable packaging

Levy a global “greenwash service” tax on corporate. Make them fully liable for products that damage the environment, today and tomorrow

Do not first adopt wasteful and environmentally bad habits and then become green. Think of the last person. Do not first buy processed food and then ask for organic and home-made food. Do not first eat junk food and then go on diet. Enjoy biodiversity in food and lifestyle. Shun McWorld

Use less of everything that you use in your daily life. Not greed of some but need of all is the only way ahead.
- Courtsey Down To Earth June 1-15 issue (

I would like to end with Kapil Sibil’s most wonderful statement – “We have to understand that we are not inhering a world, but we are borrowing a world from our children”.

Green revolution: Air is what's bothering Indians
State Of The Environment Survey, Air Pollution , New Delhi
What Indians worry about most? The air we breathe
Pollution, India's biggest bother

Further info on Global Warming


Amrita said...

Excellent post Julia. I saw the tail end of that CNN prog. It was good.

In india very few people care about the enviroment.Its the lack of education and over population which is killing us.

Today I saw a prog. about a place in Goa where mining has polluted their drinking water and they can 't use it any more (CNN)

Julia Dutta said...

Dear Amrita,
Thanks for your comment. There is a sense of apathy to nature and all life there is around us which finally makes us, disregard the beautiful world that is around us. Its sad, but true.