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How much do Indians consume?

By Darryl D’Monte

, by Infochange

While India’s per capita material consumption is still low, a new report reveals that in 50 years India’s consumption of fossil fuels increased 12 times, construction materials 9 times and industrial materials and ores 8.6 times. How will India support its growing economy sustainably?

Just before the Rio+20 summit began on June 20, the International Society of Ecological Economists held its conference in the Atlantic coastal city. [...]

On the sidelines of the Society’s meet, Professor Joan Martinez-Alier, from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, who is an old India hand and has written extensively on Indian issues, including the devastation of minefields in Orissa, referred this columnist to a recent article in the journal Ecological Economics, on ‘India’s Biophysical Economy, 1961–2008: Sustainability in a National and Global Context’. [...]

This is the first time that anyone has calculated the biophysical outflows and inflows into the Indian economy over an entire half-century, as distinct from these measured in prices, which is the universally accepted practice. The authors write that it is their attempt to “better understand the relationship between the economy and biophysical flows… we aim at analysing the ecological ‘embeddedness’ of India’s socioeconomic system.

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