Who’s at fault for India’s slow-to-grow economy? If the government is to be believed, the fault lies with the country’s environmentalists. That’s right, those mother nature-loving hippies are singlehandedly destroying the economy!
It turns out, India’s domestic spying program has had its sights set on eco activists for a while now, and has prepared a report fingering green groups for stalling economic development in the country. The agency blames environmentalists for ruining the financial productivity of the country by 2-3 percent each year. However, the statistics and calculations India used to reach this figure are not stated in the report.
In actuality, it sounds like big business is frustrated by increasing efforts to raise environmental consciousness in India and attempting to discredit these efforts by labeling them threats to the state. It’s the 1 percent that suffers the most financially from efforts to reduce pollution. Besides, if India really wanted to position itself well in the global economy in the century ahead, it would work on developing the green technologies that will be the way of the future.
As Grist points out, there are plenty more significant factors that can be listed as reasons for the country’s slow economic growth: widespread government corruption, massive health consequences from the coal industry, and frequent power outages due to heat waves. If anything, tackling some of the country’s pressing environmental issues could serve to benefit the economy on the whole.
Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, has promised to expand the economy and introduce new development, but faced obstacles from environmental regulations. Some suspect that the government is attempting to intimidate environmental groups by revealing that it has been conducting surveillance on them. By filing this report, India can insinuate that environmentalists are criminals without having to file any bogus criminal charges.
The insinuations don’t stop there – the government suggests that many of these environmentalist groups have ties to foreign groups who are trying to intentionally sabotage India’s progress. Even if there is some validity to these claims, it’s a sad state of affairs to label people who care about the longevity of the planet as conspirators with nebulous intentions. Surely some activists have the world’s best interests in mind!
Greenpeace, one of the organizations named specifically in India’s report, objects to the characterization from the government. “We have a legitimate right to express our views in what is the world’s largest democracy. We believe that this report is designed to muzzle and silence civil society who raise their voices against injustices to people and the environment by asking uncomfortable questions about the current model of growth,” said a Greenpeace press release.
By declaring environmentalists the enemy, India is shooting itself in the foot long term. Though green regulations may impede on rich people from making more money in the present, the health of the economy is irrelevant once the health of the planet declines, after all.