It’s time to focus on a bottom-up business model

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The Covid-19 has dealt a terrible blow to our economy. But there is a silver lining. The long stop showed us what a beautiful world of clear skies and clean rivers we can afford once this crisis is over.

For this, however, we must consciously review the growth model that we have adopted since the start of liberalization in 1991 and which has been so destructive for our environment. For much less to show than China on the run to develop, we have a pollution level that is not lower than that of China, and the depletion of the water table is just as serious. The fragility of our social fabric has also been highlighted by the massive flight to the countries of origin of occasional employees.

One of the adaptations that we will have to make will therefore concern the very economic models that we have been following since 1991, in particular the one-dimensional pursuit of “GDP” growth rates and the whole of the free market model with open borders based on the preeminence of private incentive.

It is time for us to listen to those who have been warning us for decades against purely market-driven growth. One of those who got the ball rolling was EF Schumacher with his widely read but barely followed Small is beautiful. Amartya Sen specifically spoke of a heartless business model that further marginalizes the marginalized. Latest and most vocal is Oxford University economist Kate Raworth in her book Donut Economy, which argues forcefully against the neoliberal economy, which appears to have caused much of the environmental problem that threatens the world today.

John Kenneth Galbraith, a successful actor at the heart of the American political system, in his 1958 book The society of abundance warned us of the fragility of economies which made the production of consumer goods the only objective measure of success, and which looked to the market to judge the prices and availability of all goods, even social ones such as education and health.

In recent decades, growing ecological and environmental constraints have underlined the need to make room for our fragile and rapidly depleting eco-spaces, whether in the tropical forests of Amazonia or Indonesia. and Africa, or natural habitats closer to our Western Ghats and the Himalayas.

Public institutions

The arguments for strengthening rather than weakening the role of public institutions in these areas are stronger today than ever. As a result, we may need to find new ways to cut spending and channel the funds we have available to areas, which make small but essential changes that make a positive difference in the lives of ordinary people in the countryside, the last men and women of Gandhiji.

It will of course be a question of giving up our desire for ultra-fast communication and prestigious projects, and aiming for a bottom-up model where the small players take precedence over the large ones in the allocation of resources that will be released in the framework. economic recovery. packages.

We must consciously allocate more of our resources to strengthening education, health and housing, and creating infrastructure that will work for people everywhere, such as better rural connectivity, efficient storage and cold chain systems that will work for people everywhere. store our products better and reduce waste. All of these have been overlooked in recent decades.

While we cannot revisit the destructive decisions of the past, the least we can do today is do no harm: by carrying out current projects, but consciously avoiding mega-projects in the future. environmentally and socially destructive, which tear the bowels of the earth, destroy more forests and wetlands and disrupt poor communities across the countryside.

By paying more attention to the conscious preservation of what remains of our ecosystems and natural resources like freshwater, soil, vegetation and biodiversity across the country, we will lay the foundations for a state that is secure. of its survival even under the onslaught of impending climatic disasters. Covid is giving us a second chance to mend and we must seize it for all it’s worth.

Kumar is a former DG – Forests and a former ICSSR Fellow; Balakrishnan, former senior official, teaches at IISc, Bengaluru


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