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The Environment- Development Debate

It is heartening to read the article by Jairam Ramesh, “The Two Cultures Revisited: The Environment-Development Debate in India” (EPW, 16 October 2010). His statement that “the time has come to make trade-offs explicit and make the correct choices, however unpalatable that may be to some” is not only valid but when it comes from the union minister for environment and forests, it is highly valuable. However, I have a few comments and questions.

The alternatives, “yes”, “yes but” and “no” are important for policymakers. However there is one more alternative that needs to be made very explicit. This alternative is of treating natural resources as capital in the development process and promoting economic growth that streng thens the linkages between natural resources (capital) and growth. After all, the definition of sustainable development does not only mean using natural resources in a sustainable manner, but it also means strengthening linkages between natural capital and economic growth in the development process.

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