India’s Biggest Environmental Problem is Poverty – Palak Chandra

India, the third largest economy in the world, is flooded with many social, political, cultural, and environmental issues. All such issues are interlinked with each other in one or the other way. The issues which are of major concern these days are all discussed separately in many ways and the solutions to tackle these problems are also being discussed. Apart from these issues, there is an issue of major concern, that is, Poverty. The lives of poor people and the environmental conditions are interlinked to each other.  Poverty causes lack of economic development leading to inadequate sanitation and clean drinking water facilities and an unsuited environment to people. Their cultural heritage is also affected, their livelihood and their true sense of living is also hampered.

The root cause of poverty can be said as improper governmental planning, high population growth, illiteracy, high fertility rate, unemployment etc. The main reason among all these is the industrialization in a village area due to which the available resources of that area gets contaminated or is utilized by the persons who migrated in that area from other regions. This way the available resources would not be able to reach the people already living there due to high cost by industrialization or are utilized by other people and so poor will not be able to utilize the resources.

Factors such as surrounding poor environment, low usage of resources and bad health of poor people are interlinked to poverty. Increase in population is major factor which is not in proportion with the economic output of the country and due to which poverty is increasing day by day. High growth rate of population is causing lowering of natural resources and deforestation, and the affect of which can be seen in nearby small villages and the tribal areas. Poverty leading to unhygienic environment, illiteracy, unemployment, poor health etc should be treated in the same manner as other issues are considered.

Environment is best defined by the relationship between the biological and physical environments along with their chemical constitutions that affect an organism. The major threat to the natural environment being degraded is by several factors included economic growth and the technological advancements ultimately causing air pollution, water pollution, and nuclear pollution etc. The resources are utilized by each and every person but in different amounts.

Resources emerging from the technological advancements and the economic growth are only being utilized by the upper class or the middle class people. Poor people are not able to utilize the most of the resources as they live in such an area which is dominated in only the degraded landmass or where there is lack of the usable resources like clean drinking water, electricity, or other facilities. This way poor remains poor and becomes poorer. Conclusion follows that the poverty is India’s biggest environmental problem. Poor people are both cause and effect of the environmental degradation.

Our surrounding environment is most affected by the poverty in the country. The links between the poverty and the environment are embedded in the social, cultural, economic and climatic factors. The population of India encompasses the broad range (from minimum to maximum) of income and the education spectra. It has the diverse range of cultural, religious and social systems. Different languages, different races, different social and cultural heritages etc in a region is the reflection of this beautiful environment, of which we all are part. But how we can make it more beautiful?

The need of the hour for the developing countries like India is the social and economic development and poverty eradication. When the situation of poor environment is handled properly then only we consider to be moving in the direction of development. Before the cycle of poverty gets completely unstoppable, it should be taken into account that poverty as soon as possible should be removed.

The cycle of poverty can be described as the continuous events that take place one after another repeatedly when the person or the poor family becomes trapped in the poor situation (poverty) and no way of coming out of it is visible. The factors included in the cycle of poverty are low personal income, less access to safe food and water, hunger and poor sanitation, disease, malnutrition and death, depleted workforce and ultimately leading to economic decline and so a degraded environment.

Coming at the scenario of the development in India, several steps have been initiated in the direction of the development but only some of the initiatives among many were on right track. Since independence, economic development and poverty eradication were the main and centralized problems to look upon. Indian constitution has made way for the same by providing the freedom of education to all without any discrimination so that the educated people and youngsters should come up with the ideas of making the level up of the country.

Five year plans by the government also showed us the way to handle the situation of poverty by including the sustainable development and inclusive growth in the context of development of the country. Making use of the available resources and stepping forward in the track of development are some good initiatives by government.

Despite the improvements in human development and the higher GDP growth in the country, India’s household sample surveys suggest that poverty reduction has been sluggish recently. In the early 21st century, poverty worsened following the stabilization of the unsustainable policies, a poor harvest and a decline in food availability.

Though government provides many good solutions and ways to improve the surrounding conditions, no steady growth is seen but a slow development. Many ministries and committees have been setup whose work is only to think and work to eradicate the poverty from the country. But as we are entering in the future scenario, people instead of keeping their voice loud for the consequences of poverty like illiteracy, unemployment, low growth rate etc, they focus on other illogical problems and situations like the rumors about the poison in cold drinks, use of genetically modified food, unhealthy food supply etc.

Literates and highly educated people seem to get confined in themselves only instead of utilizing their knowledge for the welfare of the poor families. They never want to go to the villages and help the poor person to fight with the present day situations which keeps on pushing poor person underground day by day.

If the ministries of environment and others seriously took the problems of the country then instead of raising voice only for the cleaning of the water resources, and unhygienic food they should have looked upon the basic factor causing all these which is the poor condition of the people. Poverty is the root cause of all such things. And if this is considered to be exactly what it is then there should not be any problem relating to hygiene and clean water supply.

According to UNICEF, about 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. Around 27 % – 28 % children in developing countries are underweight and stunted. In India, about 72.2 % populations live in villages. About 35 % people are illiterates. According to Government sources, the Slum Population of India have exceeds the population of Britain. About 1.1 million people still lives in slum areas of the country surviving at less than 1$ per day.

Considering all the causes and consequences of the poverty, strong steps should be taken by the government. As in the recent Rio+20 conferences, leaders of different countries including India have reminded of the move for the sustainable development and eradication of poverty from the country. Not only the government but individual people should take initiative so that the programs made by the government should achieve the highest level in eradicating the poverty and making the surrounding environment safe and clean.

Every ministry in the government of India should at priority level talk about the poverty eradication methods and follow the steps or the methods to gain a beautiful and safe environment. Several NGOs that raise their voices against many evils in the country should also raise their voice against the population rise and poverty eradication and come up with a helping hand to the government.

Increasing household incomes with small loans that can be invested in business such as farming can lead to greater access to basic needs such as food and water etc. Diseases of poor people should be treated with low cost medicines to keep them working and thus strengthening the economy. Officers and trainers should work with poor families to improve and apply more agricultural techniques.

With all these things and government initiatives we will soon have a safe and clean environment around us which is free of poor conditions and poverty being the worst pollutant of the environment is washed away. Then there will surely be a country with high economic growth and clean and green environment standing with other developed countries. (Essay Contributed by Target 2012 Member – Palak Chandra)



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