(Sample Material) Gist of IIPA Journal: Sustainable Development: The Concept and Policy Perspectives N.R. Inamdar

(Sample Material) Gist of Important Articles from IIPA Journal

Topic: Sustainable Development: The Concept and Policy Perspectives N.R. Inamdar


The definition highlights two key sub-concepts: the first covers the essential needs of the poor of the world, which invites overriding priority, and the second takes into account the limitations, entailed by the exigencies of technology and social organisation, of the environment’s capacity to satisfy the present and future needs.

The concept does not discriminate between the needs of the developed and the developing countries. It, thus, underlines the urgent task of bridging gaps in social and economic development among these countries.

The Commission was asked by UN General Assembly, inter alia, to make recommendations on environment that may be translated inti greater co-operation among countries at different stages of economic and social development and “lead to the achievement of common and mutually supportive objectives that take account of the interrelationships between people, resources, environment, and development” Equally compelling was the need at the international community level to address effectively the vital global issues relating to the imbalances between development and environment highlighted by fast depletion of non-renewable energy resources since the oil crisis of 70s, and enormous outflow of industrial affluent and wastes in the West. Yet another reason was inadequacy in conceptualizing development merely in term of GNP -ignoring among others, harmful effects on environment and the welfare aspect of economic activities-and the need to redefine in socially and environmentally more comprehensive and meaningful terms.

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Satisfaction of Basic Needs of All

The World Commission emphasised satisfaction of the basic needs of as well as of their aspirations for a better life, but the consumption standard of the people had to be “within the bounds of the ecologically possible”. The concept comprehends the possibility of co-existence of productive activity and widespread poverty on the one hand, and its consequence endangering environment on the other. The concept also realises the required harmony between the demographic developments and the changing productive potential of the eco-system.

“In essence, Sustainable Development is a process of change in which the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change, are all in harmony and enhance both current and future potential to most human needs and aspirations."

The conceptualization of Sustainable Development by the Commission is, thus, comprehensive, enveloping all countries, and not only the present but also the future needs.


The United Nations Declaration on Human Environment and the Stock holm Conference in 1972 signalled India to take positive steps in the direction of environmental improvement. The emphasis on poverty eradication programmes during the 1970s also underlined the urgency of taking action on the associated environmental issues. This is the background on which, by a Constitutional amendment, a directive principle for the protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life, a fundamental duty in this behalf, and an item on the subject in the Concurrent List, were inserted in the Constitution.

The recommendations of a committee on environmental co-ordination in 1972, and of another committee in 1980 for reviewing legislative measures and administrative machinery, paved the way for establishment of a Department of Environment in 1980. The Department was subsequently upgraded into an independent Ministry of Environment and Forests (1985), to serve as a nodal agency for planning, promotion and coordination of environmental and forestry programmes in the country.

The other component of the infrastructure for environmental improvement is provided by the existing legislations. Thirty major enactments on the subject exist on the statute books of the Union and State Governments. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, the Factories Act and the Insecticides Act, are prominent among these enactments. A further enabling enactment, Environment (Protection) Act 1986, seeks to get over difficulties experienced in the earlier legislatlions.

The details of the administrative machinery and measures with an assessment are given in the following section.

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