I Love 'Make In India', But I Fear 'Make in India'

I love 'Make in India' because, if it succeeds, it'll create millions of jobs, reduce our ever growing import burden, alleviate poverty, and let people lead lives with dignity.

Who wouldn't want these for their country? Employment is an important way to keep a million youth engaged and prevent a country's gradual slide into anarchy. 

I fear 'Make in India' because, as a country, our record of preserving our environment is abysmal. We have no measures. Our regulations and environmental clearances don't mean squat.

Majestic rivers have reduced to a trickle or become sewages, ground water in our cities has depleted significantly or is polluted, many of our lakes have dried up or can't support life.

Delhi now has the most toxic air in the world and pollution from various un-regulated small scale industries in Delhi is considered the major contributor. As a matter of fact, most of us live completely oblivious to how bad the air quality really is.

The new state government supporting growth of MSMEs will only make matters worse. Small scale industries actually now don't need any environmental clearances whatsoever. 

So, though this plays well with the larger 'Make in India' campaign, promoting manufacturing without putting checks & balances in place will only make matters worse for the people of Delhi. Imagine what a truly successful country wide campaign would do. Most of our cities are already stressed and polluted.

Without clear environmental regulations and periodic checks, I can discard heavy metals, toxic gases and pollute water to unfathomable levels; something most of our industries are already doing.

There is little mention of environmental responsibility in the 'Make in India' campaign. And that mention can't be made; since it'll work against it. Adhering to environmental regulations can/will eat away into a company's bottom-line, since the disposal, reuse-recycling chain in India is really weak and often doesn't even exist. Some may say we already have the requisite environmental laws; but look where our laws have gotten us so far? Whether the air in our cities, the Moosi River, the Yamuna & the Ganga , the Varthur Lake in Bengaluru or this lake in Rajasthan; domestic or Industrial, we really have no checks in place. Every year, we've come up with plans to re-plenish and bring back sustenance to our rivers and lakes. But where has that too gotten us so far?

So, while the governments of the most polluted cities are now closing down polluting traditional factories, we've just started a journey to let them grow without a conscience. We've taken several steps to avoid policy paralysis due to environmental factors, and in doing so we've undermined what we will only miss later. In our current state, we are only equipped to pick one; prosperity or degradation. But we can't have both. We're not planning to have both.

I hope I'm wrong and ill-researched and I hope a thousand people prove that I am. A few already say that these claims aren't right. If that is truly so, this is one battle I'll gladly lose.

As long as I'm hoping, I can also hope that recycling and replenishing also becomes a sub-sector and we have whole industries dedicated to them, that it raises our awareness and makes great strides and that we're able to negate all the ill-effects which manufacturing brings. But that's a pipe dream for now.

God bless America?

God bless India too.

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