Livelihood Issues and Environmental Conservation in India

By Dubey, Ashwani Kumar; Saurav, Shashi | Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences, June 2010 | Go to article overview
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Livelihood Issues and Environmental Conservation in India

Dubey, Ashwani Kumar, Saurav, Shashi, Madhya Pradesh Journal of Social Sciences

Presently sustainable development approach is a very popular approach of development accepted through out the world. The dominant sustainable approach mainly comprises both economic growth and environmental conservation. But the third side of this dichotomy between growth and environment is the livelihood issue, which is the main focus of this paper. The main objectives of sustainable development are social progress and equality, environmental protection, conservation of natural resources and stable economic growth. But the very first objective of equality with social progress and justice is being victimised by any attempt made either to conserve the environment or to achieve economic growth. The victimisation of general masses for the sake of environmental conservation or economic growth can never acquire the requisite mass support for the policies concerning sustainable development. The way to achieve the desired goal of sustainable development can only materialise when human security is incorporated with due emphasis on reducing poverty unemployment, income disparities and social justice.


The relationship between 'development' and 'environment' is often viewed as dichotomous but it is not so. There is a third side of this dichotomy which needs attention while formulating plans and policies i.e. 'livelihood issue'. Thus, livelihood generally deals with people, their resources and what they do with these and the issues and problems of access and changing political, economic and socio-cultural circumstances.

We count this 'livelihood issue' under development, but it is wrong to do so. Development itself has two aspects, firstly, the development of the poor and vulnerable sections of the society and secondly, the development of upper sections of the society i.e. the rich. The policies concerning establishment of factories, providing electricity, construction of dams, formation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) etc. have no meaning for the people who are deprived of even two morsels a day.

Sustainable development, no doubt, has ended the dichotomy between development and environment and made them complimentary but the third aspect (livelihood issue) still remains to be addressed. Government is taking many steps for environmental awareness but the implementation is getting harder to be achieved. The reason is the lack of mass-support; this in turn is a consequence of deplorable condition of the people and the problem of satisfying their basic needs. A hungry man knows no ethics. The environmental awareness cannot be spread unless and until the curse of poverty is eliminated.

Environment and Environmental Problems

Environment is derived simply from the French verb environner i.e., to surround (Oxford Dictionary 2004: 173). Literary it is no more and no less than our surroundings. It is defined as everything that surrounds us. It includes both the physical conditions such as water, air, land forms, etc., which are interlinked with the survival of the eco-system and development of an individual or a community; and social and cultural conditions such as ethics, aesthetics, economics, etc. on which the behaviour of an individual or a community is dependent.

Man also forms an integral part of the environment and he has been assigned the role of a protector of environment. But increasing population and the socio-economic needs led to urbanisation and industrialisation which in turn caused environmental crisis. The major environmental issues confronting in the present century are: atmospheric pollution, stratospheric ozone depletion, global warming, water and land degradation, deforestation, desertification, loss of biological diversity, environmental hazards, etc. (Gupta, Surojit Sen 2005: 27).

The broader scope of these problems has given it a global nature, although the remedies are to be looked for locally. In response to such problems 'Environmentalism' started in the 1950s and 1960s.

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