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

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Interpreting Environmentalism and Sustainability in China and India

Environmental Sustainability from the Himalayas to the Oceans: Struggles and Innovations in China and India edited by Shikui Dong, Jayanta Bandyopadhyay and Sanjay Chaturvedi, Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, 2017; pp 270, €150 (hardcover).

China and India, Himalayan neighbours and two of the most populated countries of the world, are at the crossroads of defining their development trajectories at a time when challenges are many and emerge from various directions. On the one hand, growth needs are listed as supreme, with critical driving forces of urbanisation and increasing consumption ruling the roost. On the other hand, the concerns of environmental destruction as a result of mindless, unbridled growth loom large as they impinge on the future prospects of economic development. For China, urbanisation and increasing the levels of domestic consumption are drawn by design, being part of the ongoing Thirteenth Five Year Plan, while for India, urbanisation and rising levels of consumption are more organic and driven by market forces.

The “growth-fundamentalism” of both economies has brought about an inextricable externality, which has often been ignored in the policy discourse: the negative impacts on the ecosystem, its structure and functions, and consequently the services provided by them. Over the last two decades, China has battled the outcomes of a strategy based purely on economic growth, with ecological destruction having an impact on both the growth and the quality of life. The problem is no less for India, though the acknowledgement of the same in the policy circles is low. Decline in air quality, deforestation, killing of rivers and aquatic biodiversity through large constructions, and decline and degradation of the coastal ecosystem have been ubiquitous (Damin 2018). In the process, ecological distribution conflicts and social movements have arisen, probably a bit more vociferously in India through civil society voices, though they hardly had much impact in creating a change in paradigm thinking in Indian policymaking. In China, however, environmentalism has been more policy-driven, more so lately with extensive research taking place at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the various provincial academies to create knowledge in a space that was earlier a void. The book under review needs to be read and construed against this background.

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Updated On : 14th May, 2018

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