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Conservation versus Development in Indian Environmentalism

Conservation versus Development in Indian Environmentalism

Since India gained independence, there’s been a persistent divide regarding the essence of environmentalism—whether it’s primarily about fostering development or preserving nature.

Understanding Environmentalism:

Environmentalism represents an ideology and social movement. It also advocate for the safeguarding of the environment and the well-being of living organisms amidst environmental changes. It delves into how changes affect animals, plants, humans, and non-living elements.

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Historical Context:

The environmental movement in India has significantly influenced developmental policies in three key ways:

  1. It has shaped strategies for managing natural resources.
  2. It has raised concerns and disputes regarding developmental projects, leading to a consensus for action.
  3. It has instigated policy changes addressing pollution and human health.

Tenets of Environmentalism:

This movement evolved globally in response to environmental crises. It revolves around theories explaining environmental issues, moral perspectives on our relationship with nature, and endeavors to establish an environmentally sustainable society.

Environmentalism advocates for preserving, restoring, and enhancing the natural environment, including critical elements like climate, biodiversity protection, and pollution control. Additionally, it aims to raise awareness about the vital role of the environment for humans and other organisms.

Differing Perspectives:

The core moral debate lies between those valuing nature for human well-being and those embracing an ecocentric view—believing in the intrinsic worth of natural elements.

In India, the environmental movement has been torn between environmentalism as a tool for development and as a means of conservation. This division has persisted since the movement’s inception in the 1970s.

The divergence in objectives, exemplified by initiatives. Projects like Project Tiger and the Chipko movement, has influenced policies oscillating between exploiting and conserving natural resources. Unfortunately, these policies often neglect the rights of local communities intertwined with these resources.

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