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   Sunday, October 21, 2018
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It's all about market!!
By Devinder Sharma

World Environment Day celebrations get global publicity because these are mostly supported by companies engaged in selling green technologies.


Today is the World Environment Day. You know it already. Your newspaper has suddenly gone green. Some of them have even changed the colour of the headlines to green. Your TV channel is talking about those who made the difference. Many TV channels are digging out visual stuff from across the globe to show how much they care.

Schools and colleges have debates on the subject, and some even hold rallies. Most of the discussions are being sponsored by the corporate houses. Political leaders will plant saplings. You will be told 'each-one-plant-one'. If you escape planting a sapling, some NGOs will catch you to tell you to go for rainwater harvesting.

How could you then have missed it?

Of course we cannot protect our planet without the support and collaboration from one and all. Prime Minister will appeal the nation to join the movement to protect environment. All through the year, the government brings in policies that unabashedly destroy the environment. But on this 'auspicious' day, they make a resolve to save the environment. Somehow I get an impression that the government thinks its job is to plunder, and the task to save the environment is that of the people.

Somehow I get an impression that the government thinks its job is to plunder, and the task to save the environment is that of the people.

Not only the government, which operates through the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), but almost all official bodies and agencies do the same. The other day the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) organised a conference on biodiversity. At the fag end of the two-day conference they had a session on 'Role of farmers, NGOs, Civil Society in Biodiversity Conservation'. I was amused. To me it appears as if the task to save biodiversity is only that of the civil society and farmers. ICAR's job is to destroy biodiversity.

Similarly, the industry is allowed to pollute the rivers. They dump effluents into the rivers all through the year. Whether it is Ganga, Yamuna, Kaveri, and you name it, all Indian rivers are like open sewers. And on June 5, we do not mind launching programmes (and that for a day) inviting common people to join the effort in cleaning-up the rivers. Who are we befooling?

We launch programmes and project to create awareness about environment protection. The phrase they use is 'capacity building'. You will invariably see that the 'capacity building' exercise is always limited to the poor and marginalised. I wonder when will we begin 'capacity building' of bureaucrats, policy makers, politicians, journalists and the business and industrial leaders? The problem is not at the level of the ordinary citizen but among the people who matter. If the elite and the opinion leaders were to be sensitized, the economic and political discourse can change, and change for the better.

We are a great nation. All through the year we destroy the environment. In our misplaced emphasis on GDP, we plunder the natural resources. In the name of increasing crop yields we bring in technologies and products that sap the Earth and eventually kill farmers. In the name of development, we actually exploit, and exploit ruthlessly.

And then one day -- June 5 -- we want to give an impression as if everything has changed. The goalpost has shifted. As if we have learnt from our mistakes.

The next day, June 6, life is back as usual.

Why is that the world celebrates World Environment Day with such fervour? There are so many other international days marked, but why the excitement only for the World Environment Day? The answer is simple. The entire exercise is supported by companies engaged in selling green technologies. This is an opportunity for the $ 200 billion industry to showcase its hardware. No wonder, already leaders of the G-8 economies are talking of ushering in a Green Technology Revolution on the lines of Green Revolution.

Therefore, the reason why your favourite newspapers have gone green for a day, your TV channel has suddenly become conscious of environment, your policy makers are talking green is simply because of the power of money and advertisement. And you thought it had something to do with the changing conscious.

It's all about market, stupid !

The views expressed above are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of d-sector editorial team.

Devinder Sharma  |  hunger55@gmail.com

Devinder Sharma is an award-winning journalist, writer, and researcher globally recognised for his analysis on food, agriculture and trade policy. 

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