Greenomics: Economic Development v/s Environment

Starting today, Ek Titli presents to you a 7 part series on Greenomics, by guest writer and young economist, Mr Abhishek Ranjan.

An economic system attuned with the environment

A green economy is understood as a system that is attuned with the environment and thus, is environmentally friendly. Today, the concept of green economy has evolved to also accommodate social issues. By using clean technology and clean energy, the green economy is expected to provide safer and healthier environments, create alternative green jobs and maintain the development of societies. This concept is often associated with ideas such as “low-carbon growth” or “green growth”. With this perspective the term “growth” does not simply mean economic output development, but indicates “sustainable economic advancement”. In fact, it aims to rise above the reductionist approach that has considered gross domestic product as a straightforward measure of macro market economic activity and a signal of progress and societal well-being. This understanding proved to be misleading, as current climate and economic crisis exhibit that growth is unsustainable with over-exploitation; in fact, wiping out the natural resource base hinders present and future livelihoods.


Low-carbon Growth

Over the past few months, Indian government has witnessed major commotion on grounds of environmental stability and economic growth. The government has been striving to come to a consensus between the dilemma of focusing on developmental goals and simultaneously maintaining ecological balance. There is an incessant tension between those who support development and those who fight for environment protection. The two groups do not eye to eye and with every passing day, the gap seems to be widening. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment and Forests, Government of India very aptly puts itChoices need to be made about large projects that are considered central to the economic progress, but are detrimental to the environment. Let us all accept the reality that there is undoubtedly a tradeoff between growth and environment.”


Many believe that the deterioration in the environment is of such high scale that all development must close down for the planet to survive. Others turn down the entire environmental movement as comprised of eccentric troublemakers who have no right to mess about with the sanctity of private property and private enterprise. Still others criticize the environmental movement as the one that is irrelevant to the class struggle.

India's future development needs to be harmonized and reconciled with environmental contradictions

The problems of development in India are exceptionally complex. Class inequities, geographical and political hindrances greatly compound India’s environmental situation. We need economic development to meet our most critical challenge of bringing our citizens out of poverty and deprivation is unarguable. Economic augmentation is the only way to create jobs and help people achieve their aspirations. The general perception of the exploitative nature of a large number of investments has helped fuel the recent backlash against the anything-for-economic development model. However, neither of the extreme alternatives is practical.


But with greater understanding towards basic human needs, one hopes that India’s future development will be harmonized and reconciled with environmental contradictions. But without a doubt, that will involve restrictions on the “freedom” of private capital to make use of land and mineral resources at will. It will also entail restrictions on the lifestyles of India’s rich and powerful.

Author: Abhishek Ranjan
Abhishek is a Business Journalist in the making. He blogs at

Greenomics is a 6 part series which will be published every Friday. The next part to this series will be published on the 20th of May.

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