Lately, i’ve been reading “Making India Work” by William Nanda Bissel, the owner of FabIndia. The book articulates the challenges we face, so clearly that i had to share it with you all.

With nearly four out of five Indians living in poverty, millions of Indians are caught in a lethal web.

We are told that the “way out” is to let the economy grow, so that millions will be rescued from poverty as their income grows, and as they buy more goods and services, jobs and opportunities will be created that will translate into further growth, and so on. The problem with this image of a consumption-driven economy is that the supply of most of what we need is finite. Even air and water are limited. When the First World nations were developing they used this model to create economic growth for half a billion people; and it is the consumption of the First World that has caused most of the environmental damage that we see today. What is happening now is that the rest of the world’s six-and-a-half billion people want to embark on the same journey. But there are not enough resources to support seven billion people travelling down the same road.

Our current economic model is failing. It is failing the common Indian and the majority on our planet. We are facing a global crisis. Though we are consuming about 25% more natural resources than the planet can replace, some 2.7 billion people live below the US$2-a-day poverty line.

If China and India adopt the Western road to development, it is likely to lead to an environmental breakdown. Overpopulation is often cited as the crux of the population. However, the real issue is consumption. It is not about numbers of people but how much they consume. For everyone on earth to live at the current average level of consumption in the US we would need the equivalent of four planet Earths to sustain us. If he entire developing world were to suddenly consume the Us levels it would be as if the global population has ballooned to 72 billion. Yet the world can barely support the one billion consuming at these levels. We are living on precarious ecological credit, rapidly depleting reserve of natural capital. All the signs show that the earth’s systems are unable to cope with the consequences of human activities with climate change as the ultimate consequence of human demands on the environment. Forests are shrinking dramtically; over-pumping of freshwater supplies is causing catastrophic results. In many countries, rivers are running dry. Fishery collapses have become pandemic. Grasslands are deteriorating in every continent and we are facing such high levels of species loss that scientists are labelling this period, a great extinction. In short, the world is in an ‘overshoot and collapse’ mode.

The book also offers some radical changes in designing the Indian system of living to make it sustainable yet progressive. Buy it!!