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30 years: Economic reforms and environmental degradation: Current Affairs Special Series

Team Adda247 and BankersAdda are here with a Current Affairs Special Series. In this series, candidates will be introduced to current affairs topics daily, which will not only improve their general awareness but also will ensure that the candidates do not lack in any current affairs topic. Today’s Current Affairs topic is 30 years: Economic reforms and environmental degradation.

30 years: Economic reforms and environmental degradation: Current Affairs Special Series_40.1

30 years: Economic reforms and environmental degradation

As we know in 1991 India faced a severe Balance of Payment crisis. The Indian government set out on an economic reform programme privileging decentralisation, de-bureaucratisation and globalisation.  

The prime objectives of the new industrial policy were to introduce liberalisation measures to integrate the Indian economy with the world economy thus government had abolished restrictions on direct foreign investment, liberalisation on indigenous enterprise and achieve international competitiveness. The past 30 years have seen a story of spectacular economic performance and rapid environmental degradation. India may be going ahead on the path to eradicating extreme poverty; it still lags behind in other important development indicators, especially regarding health and education. The reforms were largely in the formal sector of the economy but the agriculture and forest dependent communities have not seen any reforms leading to uneven growth and unequal distribution. 

According to the State of Environment Report 2021, out of 88 major industrial clusters in India 35 showed overall environmental degradation, 33 pointed to worsening air quality, 45 had more polluted water and 17 land pollution became worse. The major greenhouse gases (GHG) which are added to the environment as a result of increased industrial activities include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrogen Oxide (NOx), nitrous monoxide (N2O) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). According to the Climate Watch report which was published in 2018, India was ranked among the world’s top-five contributors to GHG. 

India’s rank in the 2020 Environmental Performance Index was 168th out of 180 countries. This index which is developed by Yale and Columbia universities shows that environmental statutes which are seen as impressive in range and coverage, are more often observed in the breach than practice. The environmental crisis must be unleashed by economic reforms and those can be addressed by the courts especially Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. 

The World Economic Forum’s 2020 report on global risks signals that biodiversity and climate-related risks are now widely acknowledged to be the risks with the highest likelihood and impact. India cannot afford to have an isolated climate policy longer, or one that places business interests over environmental concerns.  

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