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Scientific Debate (Economic Development Edition)


This house believes that economic development is more important for India than environmental sustainability.

By Ishita Malhotra and Aditya Kapur

March 2017

For the Motion – Ishita Malhotra

India, a developing nation, must focus on its economic growth as compared to environmental concerns at this stage of struggle for economic prowess. A developing country is one which is vying to become more economically and socially advanced, and has demands and needs different from that of developed countries. Problems such as poverty and unemployment plague various parts of India, making it unfeasible for the nation to invest resources in the name of environmental conservation, while simultaneously compromise economic development, which has the potential to eradicate our larger concerns. Prioritisation becomes extremely essential for a country with limited resources, and such great goals.

Sustainable development as a notion isn’t viable for a developing nation, as it puts restraints on, inter alia, the industrial sector preventing optimum level and speed of economic growth. The industrial sector is the greatest contributor to the economy of any country, making its efficient operation rudimentary. Limiting industrialisation also houses scope for the widening of the gap between the first and third world countries, putting India even lower on the development scale vis-a-vis superpowers like the United States.

Focus on the economy ensures good financial growth of the country, which in turn improves the standard of living of the citizens, and the functioning of the nation as whole. Countries in the Mediterranean provide testimony to the superiority economy has over environment. With highly superior environmental conditions, the citizens of these countries have terrible standards of living, courtesy; the poor economic conditions, which if persistent, will lead to the collapse of such nation states.

According to the Environmental Kuznets Curve hypothesis, environmental quality comes only when basic needs such as housing and food are met. As the country becomes richer through its economic development, it can afford to clean up the pollution from the past, as well as invest more into environmental regeneration. As demands of basic needs are fulfilled, public demand for cleaner environment also increases, subsequent to which the government can enact and enforce stricter regulations.

Hence, it isn’t the environment that creates the basis for economic development, but economic development that assists ecological conservation.

Against the Motion-Aditya Kapur

“The future will either be green or not at all.”

-Bob Brown, Politician and environmentalist

In this modern era of globalisation and global warming, capitalism and climate change, developing nations such as India have a number of choices to make with regard to the path that lies ahead for such countries. One of the major decisions is with regard to the prioritisation of economic development over environmental sustainability or the opposite. I strongly believe that it is more important to focus on environmental sustainability, not only for the benefit of the environment and the life it supports but also its added benefit as a catalyst for future economic development.

The environment, which is home to all life forms, creates a space for any type of work or activity to be carried out. Economic development is inherently progress at all levels, whether personal, regional or international. All of this development is based upon the resources and spaces available to us, all of which make the environment.Thus, if the environment is not completely sustained, there is no scope for economic growth, with emphasis on India, where development has majorly taken off in the 21st century. If there is a strain on the facilities nature offers us, then all economic development is redundant. Thus, especially in the scenario of a developing country, environmental sustainability is of more importance than any other option.

In terms of the Indian scenario, everyone is prone to the ill repercussions of environmental instability. Natural calamities and drastic changes in the environment can wreak havoc, more so than that of the absence of complete economic wellness and rapid economic development. As aggressive economic development has put the world on the path of degradation of the environment, it is imperative that we sustain the environment in order to even think of economic development.

Along with these two primary ideas, another strong argument in favour of prioritising environmental sustainability over economic development is that of saving the environment for future generations. The environment is not somethings human can play around or experiment with for their own luxuries and comforts; no matter how much capital one possesses one cannot undo these problems in the environment. While environmental sustainability leads to economic development and helps maintain the health and opportunities available to the living beings in that environment,the opposite does not hold true.

It is time that we save the environment and protect the life giver that further helps us in fulfilling our goals and development. 

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Rohil Bahl