Guest Post by Gopinath Mavinkurve
India’s liberalization measures in the early ‘90s, by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the erstwhile Finance Minister, changed the fortunes of the Indian industry, which has grown from a protection-seeking, defensive player on the Foreign Trade front to one of an aggressively expanding, globally ambitious, business-acquiring player in today’s world markets.
But did we not usher in these changes because of international pressures of the IMF loan that we sought after our foreign exchange reserves dwindled to just a couple of weeks? India was seemingly forced into mending its ways by the international community (read: IMF), which ultimately resulted in benefiting the most from the slew of measures taken out of compulsion.
During the recent visit to India, of the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the international pressures of taking measures to counter climate change brought back these memories of the similar pressures in the ‘90s.
A typical argument from an Indian perspective this time around was:
“USA, with its petrol-guzzling SUVs, escalator-adorned malls and microwave-cooked meals, being the major consumer of electricity and gas, would certainly be a bigger contributor to climate change than India. How could they tell a country like India, which has the lowest per-capita consumption of just-about-anything, to reduce its carbon emissions?”
A typical argument from an American standpoint was:
“It is the Indian economy that is going to grow and that is where the action is going to be. So it is critical for India to go green”
One suddenly felt like a chronic alcoholic insisting on a casual tippler to promise to be a teetotaller!
So how keen is India on going green?
Would we brush aside this bogey of being a major contributor to climate change and blame it on the developed countries or would we still take these measures seriously? If we do want to put in place several green measures in the future projects and even current industries, why did we want to tell the US that we are not ready? What does it really mean if we were to commit to a 2020 deadline of reduced carbon emissions? Will our glaciers stop melting just because we don’t have answers to these questions?
I got answers to most of these questions when I had the opportunity to attend a presentation at Mumbai on 4th September 2009 by Mr. S. Raghupathy, Senior Director & Head, CII – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre, Hyderabad.
Even though we did not want to commit to specific targets and quantified reduction commitments within laid down time-frames, India is serious about green initiatives and is well on its way to implementing them in future projects. The changes would come by way of spreading awareness, dispelling myths and educating the trade and industry in the benefits of going green.
One also learnt about the rapid progress made by the Indian Green Building Council in India and the prestigious green building projects being awarded the Platinum, Gold and Silver ratings already in operation in India, details of which can be read in these websites, which also contains loads of information about what green buildings are all about.
The only deterrent for going green, apparently, is the myth that project costs are prohibitive and unaffordable!
According to Mr. S Raghupathy,
“With a payback period of 4-5 years, it is a crime, both national and financial, not to go for a viable green project”.
The choice then is clear, Go green to save resources and let your competitors go green – with envy, of course!
The construction industry and upcoming Special Economic Zones would certainly welcome these changes and implement them – with the same approach as India’s was to USA – offer the carbon-credit carrot for implementation, but not to make it mandatory and impose penalties or fines for non-conforming to stipulated norms!
Note: The Indian Green Business Council is organizing “Green Building Congress” from 9th September 2009 to 12th September 2009.
[This post is authored by Gopinath Mavinkurve, a professional in Foreign Trade Policy, SEZ/EOU schemes and is also a hobbyist writer. His articles also appear in the Times of India. Humour is his forte – his humour blog, is worth exploring. He has also published a book called “The ArTicKles Collection”]