As we need to do away with the relentless exploitation of natural resources, imaginative leadership has to step in to find alternative and sustainable way of life
People have been increasingly realising the impact of climate change throughout the world whether they are rich or poor. Both are facing plethora of problems in day to day life and the poor will face severe problems in their livelihood choices. Faster growth also depletes natural resources quickly. Global companies with their giant machines move from one place to another place to exploit the resources and more particularly the minerals. Rules and regulations are being violated with the help of the politicians and the bureaucrats.
Sensitive citizens and civil societies vigilantly have taken the violating companies to the task through legal means. But exploitation of natural resources is continuing in the third world countries unabatedly. In this process a few segments of the society got advantages and many face problems. Equally important is the fact that policy communities at the global level are seriously concerned about combating the climate change and, hence, a series of resolutions have been passed in global institutions and followed by resolutions in national and regional legislative bodies. Many serious legislative decisions have been taken at the national and regional levels. They are being implemented. These are not enough to arrest further damage to the ecology and environment and a strong option was advocated in Paris summit to pursue “Green Growth” which argues that the humanity has to pursue economic activities in a different way. It is an alternative path. This resolve came after a strong realisation that the present way of economic activities will not sustain the achievements that humanity has made and more particularly the present day economic activities brought severe issues in developmentalism itself.
Now it becomes a developmental crisis. Green growth, and sustainable developments are not new subjects but they had been brought to light for discourse on development eighty years back. When they were advocated by the ecologists and environmentalist, the mainstream thinkers have branded them as anti-development thinkers and non-system believers or anarchists. Until now they are treated as anti-state advocates. But now only after seeing the severity of the impact of the climate change they start recognising the environmentalists and ecologists as scientist. In the development discourse they are being included to share or contribute their input to evolve a development framework which is new and it is considered as ‘development beyond’.
In countries like India 68 percent of the people still live in the rural areas and 58 percent of the total populace rely on agriculture for their livelihood and, hence, actions have to be initiated at the ground. Green growth economic activities have to be initiated at the village level. Ecology and environment have to be nurtured and protected in the rural areas. Environment friendly economic activities have to be initiated. Activities which damage environment have to be totally prohibited. Solar energy augmentation has to be done at the village level. Organic and natural farming have to be encouraged. Biomass burning has to be stopped. Biogas plant has to be set up and the gas has to be used for cooking purposes. Green building norms have to be followed in construction of building in the rural areas. Alternative building technology has to be introduced. Instead of burnt brick, compressed mud block can be used for construction. By doing so an enormous amount of wood can be saved and emission of huge carbon can be reduced. In such a way smart solutions have to be found out for achieving sustainable development. All the common lands are being used to create green cover. Biodiversity act has to be implemented in the rural areas to protect the rare species which are grown in the locality. All kinds of plastics and polythene usages have to be stopped.
Maintaining perfect sanitation in the villages is the prime activity of the institutions at the grassroots. The whole lifestyle has to be changed at the village level and in this context a behavioural change among the people is the need of the hour. People have been lured to spend and they are encouraged to consume. But now new behavioural traits have to be brought in. In this process people have to be consciented on conservation and nurturing of nature. All the activities of the community have to be oriented to conserve resources and not to spend more. A new paradigm of rural transformation has to be evolved to maintain equilibrium in the relationship between humans, society and nature.
This paradigm is not new, it was advocated hundred years ago by MK. Gandhi. At that juncture, he was ahead of time. He is more relevant today. To bring such massive transformation in the rural areas among the people in their attitude, behaviour and activities, transformational leaders are needed for the rural communities. Appropriately, time has come as the Fourteenth Finance Commission made it mandatory that every Gram Panchayat has to develop a perspective plan for the development of the village Panchayat areas. Guidelines for preparation of Gram Panchayat Development Plan have been issued. While preparing the Gram Panchayat development plan, the Panchayat has to keep the climate change, disaster preparedness, green growth, sustainable development in the backdrop. To perform the above the Panchayats have to be prepared through capacity building, training and sensitisation. People have to be mobilised and sensitised on all those subjects and new transformational leaders have to be prepared. In a conventional training institute one cannot expect that these inputs will be given to the Panchayati Raj elected representatives through training process. In order to integrate the aspects which have been mentioned above, training modules have to be prepared and they are to be integrated with the general training modules meant for training the Panchayat leaders.
A new leadership training programme has to be conceptualised to shape transformational leaders. To perform the above task a new leadership school has to be created in all the states or to convert the existing State Institute of Rural Development as new leadership school. It is the crying need of the hour.
G Palanithurai is an academic activist besides being Professor and Dean Gandhigram Rural Institute, a Deemed University in South India. Views expressed here by him are his personal.