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Inter generational equality and ecological resources

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Indian Constitution defines “Right to Equality” guaranteed under Article 14, as; “Equality before law,” and reads as follows, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” (Singhvi, 2008) Article 14 read along-with Article 21 i.e. ‘Right to life,’ has acquired a much broader meaning with the broadest possible concept of equality among all. This concept of equality certainly extends to ‘equal rights for all people to enjoyment and use of nature’s gifts.’ The Indian Supreme Court has upheld it many a times and often interpreted this right as overriding the rights of artificial juristic persons, i.e. corporate engaged in purely economic activities.

The question to be considered here is, “Is this right to equality is limited to people living/existing presently or does this right extend and transcend future generations too?” Is it to be inferred that a person yet to be born after 200 years also have the same right over nature? Does this mean that equality has to be maintained across generations too? Therefore, is this inter-generational equality not only a basic human-right but also an enforceable legislative and constitutional right? Can we monetize and attach a notional value to something which does not belong to us? How can a future generation, due to come after 200 or 500 years ensure equality with present generation? Is this inter-generational ‘Right to Equality’ enforceable, and can it be effectively legislated? How can the levels of this inter-generational equality be calculated?

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Inter generational equality and ecological resources

  1. 1. Hemant Goswamihemant@citizenrights.info
  2. 2.  The very concept of “Ecosystem Services” isbased on the premise that nature is meant toprovide services to human beings andconsequentially, providing happiness tohuman beings. The concept is deficient onmany accounts; The new semantics of „Ecology,‟describing it as „Service,‟ misleads anddoes not address or focuses attention onthe comprehensive ecological approach
  3. 3.  It‟s purely an „Economic Model‟ with all the assumptions of an imperfect estimationof economic theories and systems. Nature can‟t be capitalized in economic models.It‟s beyond human comprehension. The “Ecosystem Services” model is based on limited understanding we have of thenature‟s phenomenon, bio-diversity and inter-relationship among all matters andbeings. Weaving a system with broad assumption sitting atop another set ofassumptions, highly biased in favour of human consumption needs, can never yieldany long-term sustainable model. The “Ecosystem Services” in its execution promotes monetizing of nature. It helpsbusinesses and not the rest of the 99.9% people of the world. Banking of ecology isan extremely bad idea and against the concept of inter-generational equality. Longterm sustainable results come not just from preserving but also limitingconsumption. Approach to limit consumption is missing in the suggested solutionsthrough “Ecosystem Services.” The “Ecosystem Services” concept has purely anthropocentric approach; which isextremely deficient. Micro environment weaved around all other life forms can‟t beignored. The calculations of the “Ecosystem Services” are based on „The Present‟ and a briefextended period of a couple of future generations. It does not take into account thelong-term future. The concept of „Intergenerational Equality‟ is entirely missingfrom the concept “Ecosystem Services.”
  4. 4.  The concept of „Equality‟ has been the core to thephilosophy of „Democracy‟ and the most basic„Human Rights.‟ Most countries have a well-meaningdefinition of „Equality‟ within their constitution. Indian Constitution defines “Right to Equality”guaranteed under Article 14, as; “Equality beforelaw,” and reads as follows, “The State shall not denyto any person equality before the law or the equalprotection of the laws within the territory of India.”(Singhvi, 2008) Article 14 read along-with Article 21i.e. „Right to life,‟ has acquired a much broadermeaning with the broadest possible concept ofequality among all.
  5. 5.  Is this right to equality is limited to people living/existingpresently or does this right extend and transcend futuregenerations too? Is it to be inferred that a person yet to be born after 200years also have the same right over nature? Does this meanthat equality has to be maintained across generations too? Is this inter-generational equality not only a basic human-right but also an enforceable legislative and constitutionalright? Can we monetize and attach a notional value to somethingwhich does not belong to us? How can a future generation, due to come after 200 or 500years ensure equality with present generation? Is this inter-generational „Right to Equality‟enforceable, and can it be effectively legislated? How can the levels of this inter-generational equality becalculated?
  6. 6.  The basic idea of monetizing the natural andecological resources based on hypothetical andabstract calculations based on GNP and GDP The current economic models and the cost-calculation tools do not properly value andestimate the effective cost of the naturalresources and ecological material. Example: Fossil Fuel – Petrol undervalued 2000 times Agriculture – Environmental cost does not justifyforced increase in yield
  7. 7. All the current tools of cost estimation suggested by “EcosystemServices” are deficient in calculating the actual cost. It‟s actually amisappropriation and a theft from the account of the future generations
  8. 8.  The scenario in Punjab is no different from any otherState of India. However Punjab is of specialimportance if one considers that Punjab is said to bethe bread-basket of India. Punjab has been using a very high level of chemicalfertilizer and pesticide and its consumption isgrowing exponentially, year-after-year. Punjab is oneof the highest users of both, chemical fertilizers andpesticides. Punjab accounts for almost 10 % of thetotal fertilizer consumption in the country in just2.98 % of the cultivated area and 4.2 % of croppedarea of India. It also uses highest amount of fertilizerper hectare (192.5 kg/ ha) followed by Haryana(166.2) as compared to average use of 88.2 kg/ha inIndia.
  9. 9.  Water: The water in Punjab is not only polluted butthe water table has gone down to an alarming level.The quality of water has reduced drastically withpesticide and chemical contamination found acrossPunjab. Flaura- Fauna and Loss of Biodiversity: Punjab haslost most of its genetic resource. The croplandecosystem was known to harbour great geneticvariability. However, over the years this has reduced. Soil and Micro-Organisms: The soil in Punjab is alsoin a bad shape. Over exploitation has led to nutrientdepletion and combined with water-logging hasincreased soil salinity. Over use of pesticides has alsonegatively impacted soil quality inPunjab, consumption of chemical fertilizers haswitnessed an eightfold increase
  10. 10.  In a nutshell, the whole ecological crisis is aresult of greed and not human need. The current economic model has resulted inmany imbalances, including changes brought inthe work/ labour patterns, massmigration, creation of unnecessary cosmeticneeds, unnecessary movement of goods and rawmaterial, loss of many productiveactivities, monoculture of thoughts andideas, etc. All this has resulted in over-consumption and created immense pressure onthe ecology and all form of natural resources. The actual solution lies in reversing the patternby stopping over consumption.
  11. 11.  Needless to say that such a model isunsustainable and disastrous. It does notchange anything. It only guarantees anuninterrupted supply to the industry. Till the time the world can ensure justconsumption in proportion to the shares ofthe present generation in terms of long-terminter-generational equality, mankind willremain on slippery slope; racing towards itsown destruction. Austerity in consumption inall forms is the only solution; increasingproductivity is not.
  12. 12.  Following needs to be ensured; Valuating natural and biological resources oncomplete cost calculated on inter-generationalactual and opportunity cost. Using sustainable, replenishable methods andprocesses of consumption; in the event of anyform of loss to nature (including killing of so-called pests, insects, etc.), factoring the loss tothe nature also in the total cost of productionand pricing it accordingly. Capping and limiting the unnecessaryconsumption by discouraging unnecessarycreation of need and its demand.
  13. 13.  Allow, accept and promote alternate definitionand ideas of “good life,” “development,”“progress” etc. Reducing and capping the size of artificial juristicperson, i.e. the corporate. Limiting theirgeographical operations too wherever necessary. Refusing and rejecting all kinds of proprietarycontrol/ ownership on ecological resources orbiological material in the form of Patents or anyother variation of intellectual property rights.
  14. 14.  Avoiding transportation of raw material andfinished goods by promoting local operations.Increasing the cost of transportation to the trueprice of the natural resource used in terms ofinter-generational cost, especially the cost offossil fuel. Ensuring legislative measures of inter-generational equality and putting a prohibitivecost to violation along-with immediateincapacitation of the violators. As a broad guideline, the thumb rule should be toconsume only that much in one‟s life-time whichcan be replenished in such time-frame.
  15. 15.  Is the world really bothered about the futureand willing to accept legislation for ensuringinter-generational equality of naturalresources? Would corporate, who actually control theworld governments, willing to reduceconsumption?
  16. 16. ThankyouYour QuestionsHemant GoswamiMail : GPO Box 137, Sector 17, Chandigarh INDIA – 160 017E-Mail : email@hemant.org

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