Two issues that do not receive the attention they deserve in a country with a population of over 1.2 billion that is in a hurry to industrialise and develop.India needs health care, water, sanitation, forests and wildlife protection, soil-conservation, agrarian development and food security, employment, socio-economic improvement and many, many other such necessities in as much a ratio as it needs roads, bridges, electricity, housing, scientific research, urban development, metropolitan jobs and the like.
The unfortunate problem, however, is that the speed of industrialisation in the country has not matched the speed with which environmental fall-outs of each activity are being addressed. We continue to have forests being felled for mining and other development activity,watershed zones disappearing under the real-estate boom in urban areas and for industrial and other purposes in rural areas, rivers being polluted from toxic effluents and sewage, solid waste clogging our fields and roads. The list is endless.
Land issues have caused, and continue to cause, much controversy over their method of acquisition for industrial purposes, as well as the rehabilitation measures being effected, if at all they are, for those being ousted from such lands.
It is not that India can do without developing itself economically: it is that its management practices to control its natural resources that have been, I feel, unable to keep up.
And, it is in this sphere, to bring public and administrative attention to such issues, that environmental journalists can help. But this too is an area that has not seen a rise in the number of journalists addressing these issues. Publications find it more 'suitable’ to dwell on fashion, entertainment and sensationalism. And along with the changing face of the media, journalists in India, sadly, have not been using the considerable clout that the Press continues to have in this democracy to address matters of social and environmental change.
But of course there have been some significant exceptions to this state of affairs. A few magazines and dailies pay much, if not total, attention to environment and development issues, realising its long-term effect on matters ranging from policy to economics of this country.
And there remain a small, sturdy group of environment and development professionals who keep trying to bring public attention to such matters in the interests of the public itself, not just in India alone, but internationally too.
On all matters relating to environment and development.