October 23, 2017

India

The introduction to the special edition of The Ecologist on India.


This issue is about India’s future. It does not deal with political institutions for these are likely to play but a secondary role in shaping it. Nor does it deal with India’s industrial sector, for if the Indian people is to have a future, it must first learn how to feed itself on a sustainable basis, not how to provide itself with manufactured goods.

The first part is concerned with the land, for it is from the land that man derives his sustenance, and if we in Britain fail to realise this, it is only that for so long, we have exploited other people’s land, to which we have exported our surplus population and from which we still obtain (but not for much longer) more than half our food.

Thus India’s agricultural potential is carefully examined (Swaminthan) as are the measures required for preserving the land from further deterioration (Vohra) the means of deploying the population so that it exerts the minimum impact on the land, and of providing the population with the technologies which are least destructive to it (Kapur).

The notion of an urbanised society on the western model does not seem feasible (Kapur)—India’s future is clearly to be a rural one.

The essential problem of population is not dealt with here, but in a future issue it will be shown that it is only in a decentralised rural society, in which the villagers are largely responsible for the conduct of their own affairs, that this daunting problem can hope to be solved. Indeed in trying to solve any of India’s problems at any level higher than that of the village, the massive logistical problems encountered (among many others) are simply insuperable.

The second part of this issue is concerned with the social philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi. The reader will be able to establish for himself just how extraordinarily relevant it is to the solution of the problems raised.

My thanks to Satish Kumar who arranged my journey to India earlier this year and who gave much help with this issue.

Also to Rada Krishna, my host at The Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi, where I stayed whilst collecting material for it.

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