Globalisation bringing us closer to ecological crisis: Book

Kolkata: India`s model of economic development and the current phase of globalisation is leading us towards an ecological crisis and climate change, claims a new book.

"The current phase of globalisation has had a severe impact on the country`s natural environment and, consequently, on those communities who depend directly on nature for their subsistence and livelihood," writes environmentalist Ashish Kothari and economist Aseem Shrivastava in `Churning the Earth`.

Pointing out that although the government has shown signs of moving towards the path of sustainable development, they say the "ecological crisis has only intensified" however.

Kothari, who co-authored the book published by Penguin, is the founder of the environmental NGO `Kalpavriksh`.

Assessing the consequences of India`s impressive growth story on people and environment, he questions the sustainability and inclusiveness of the model of development.

Arguing that the ecological crisis surrounding us is an inherent and inevitable outcome of globalisation and the model of development that India has chosen, the book says forests, wetlands, grasslands, coasts and marine areas are under severe attack as a result.

"With a single-minded pursuit of a double-digit economic growth rate, demand achieves the status of a god that cannot be questioned," it says while observing that the ecological and social impacts have been "horrifying".

Multiple crises like food insecurity, water shortages, inadequate fuel availability and dislocation of livelihoods with limited alternative options have only exacerbated or stayed as severe as they were before the modern formulae of development and globalisation came into picture.

Scrutinising data to find out the ecological consequences, the authors say that hundreds, possibly thousands, of species of plants and animals are being pushed to the edge of extinction as their habitats are gobbled up by the same land-grab process that is displacing communities.

"Development in general and globalisation in particular have contributed to these crises in many ways. The state has sponsored or backed the appropriation of fields, pastures, forests, wetlands, groundwater and other natural resources by the corporate sector or for use by the elite," the book says.

Pointing out that across countries there are no binding laws to regulate environmental harm, it says that for enforcing conventions like the Biodiversity or the Toxic Trade (Basel) Convention, a global authority is missing.

"Hence it is no accident that some of the fallouts of globalisation have predictably been the outsourcing of dirty industries and the growth of trade in toxics," the authors say.

On the increasing divide between India and Bharat, or urban India and rural India, they say city-dwellers are mostly ashamed of rural India.

Throughout the world, globalisation has suddenly heightened the role of cities and pushed villages into oblivion.

Presenting a solution to the problem, the authors have presented an alternative framework of radical ecological democracy based on the principles of environmental sustainability, social equity and livelihood security.