Deepmala 15 – Environment and the Technological Challenge

In the characteristically integrative Indian tradition, equity, environment, ecology and economics will have to be viewed, not in isolation, but in tandem with each other. Environment will have to be viewed as a unique national asset in the next millennium. The study of the relationship between the land use and soil processes, mechanisms of global environment change, industry-environment interaction, prediction of our environment particularly with respect to human impact, will require innovative tools of science and technology.

In the new millennium, the old ideas of quantitative growth must give way to the idea of qualitative growth within the limits of the ecosystems. The key question is how do we reconcile the developmental goals with ecological capabilities? Promotion of environmentally sound technologies warrants large scale technological substitution towards environmentally-benign technologies. Emphasis on biotechnology for substitution of non-renewable with renewable resource base would move the chempresent to biofuture. Restructuring of the economy by substituting environmentally harmful endeavours with equally productive but environmentally comparible ones could form an important strategy in the economic policy.

We also need a change in our systems of valuation as well as value systems. For instance, we are well used to the conventional indicators of economic growth measured in terms of Gross National Product, Gross Domestic Product, etc. Should we not think in terms of new indicators such as Gross Natural Product or even Gross Ecological Product? Such indicators will not only themselves measure growth but be indicative of ecologically-sound structural changes in economy.