ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Reluctant Minister

Green Signals: Ecology, Growth and Democracy in India by Jairam Ramesh, Oxford University Press, 2015; pp 604, Rs 850.

For the layperson, the process of decision-making by governments remains something of a mystery. It is not just opaque but also confusing as one decision often contradicts the other. Who finally decides whether a dam will be constructed, how many people will be displaced, how much forest will be submerged? Is there a rational process of doing a cost-benefit analysis or does the loudest and most persuasive voice at that particular point influence the final decision?

Whenever the government arrives at a controversial decision, particularly on an issue that affects the environment, the only insights on the process of decision-making come from an inquisitive media. Yet these are largely based on conjecture or “leaks,” often by “sources” with their own agenda. In the end, the reading public is left none the wiser with regard to why a particular project was cleared, or stopped.

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