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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Ailing Planet - Key Notes and Question Bank


Nanabhoy "Nani" Ardeshir Palkhivala (Jan 16, 1920 - December 11, 2002) was an Indian jurist and economist. Having earned his worth as juror and economist, he went on to receive honorary doctorates from Princeton University, Rutgers University, Lawrence University, University of Wisconsin–Madison, Annamalai University, Ambedkar Law University and the University of Mumbai. The laudatio from Princeton called him "... Defender of constitutional liberties, champion of human rights ...", and stated, "he has courageously advanced his conviction that expediency in the name of progress, at the cost of freedom, is no progress at all, but retrogression. Lawyer, teacher, author, and economic developer, he brings to us as Ambassador of India intelligence, good humour, experience, and vision for international understanding...." It is indeed this visionary that we see emerge in his understanding of the ecological system and our ailing planet.


1) First Nation-wide Green Party: established 1972, New Zealand
2) Worldview shifted from mechanistic to holistic and ecological
3) Realisation that the planet is a living organism in declining health due to human impact on its natural resources
4) Sustainable development - Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs - key to human survival and prosperity in the future
5) We, today known as the 'world's most dangerous animal', are custodians of the future.
6) Undiscovered species exist in large numbers but we may never discover their identity if we do not conserve their habitats
7) Lester R. Brown's book 'The Global Economic Prospect' identifies four principal biological systems of the earth as fisheries, forests, grasslands and croplands. They provide food supply and raw material for our survival.
8) Over-fishing and deforestation, coupled with uncontrolled population explosion, has led to the collapse of fisheries, disappearance of forest cover, conversion of grasslands to barren wastelands and the deterioration of crops.
9) We lose an acre and a half of forests every second and the World Bank estimates a five-fold increase in the rate of forest planting to cope with the demand for fuel wood.
10) Article 48 A of the Constitution - "The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country". Author laments that laws are never respected or enforced in India.
11) Fertility falls as incomes rise, education spreads, and health improves. Thus development which may ensure raised incomes, is the best contraceptive. But development itself is not possible without a control on our population explosion. More children mean more hungry mouths which implies poverty as well as increased demand on our natural resources.
12) India's current population is estimated to be 1.2 billion while the world population is about 7 billion. Hence, we hold the major chunk of the world. The author questions whether we recognise this fact and are at least now willing to make a change in our awareness of the human impact on environment.
13) Era of responsibility - the awareness of our role and the need for sustainable development
14) Author claims that the industry must join the cause and work towards becoming eco-friendly just as Du Pont under the leadership of Mr. Edgar S Woolard.
15) We are tenants of the planet, and are required to keep it repaired and well-maintained for generations to come - Margaret Thatcher, Lester Brown


The Green Movement
in India is an emerging movement that stresses environmentally friendly practices in transport, construction, law, etc. Some of the Indian movements towards ensuring a safe, ecologically healthy future are as follows:

      Tiger Task Force
      Chipko Movement
      Project Tiger Scheme
      Beej Bachao Andolan
      Narmada Bachao Andolan
      TERI – GRIHA (Green Rating for Integrated Habitat Assessment) - National Green Building Rating System for the country


Short answer questions –
Q.1. ‘No generation has a freehold on this earth. All we have is a life tenancy with a full repairing lease’ Justify this statement.
Q.2.  How has ‘the most dangerous animal  of the world’ caused the destruction of the earth’s principal biological systems?
Q.3.  How is population explosion perpetuating poverty?
Q.4.  Why did the zoo authorities put a mirror inside a cage in the zoo at Lusaka?
Q.5.  Discuss the ‘holistic and ecological view of the world’
Q.6.  What do you understand by sustainable development?
Q.7.  What is the Green Movement? Name some movements in India which fall under this category.
Q.8.  ‘Forests precede mankind,deserts follow’. Explain this statement.
Q.9.  What is the role of the industries in protecting environment?
Q.10.What did Margaret Thatcher say about man’s lifespan on earth?

Long answer questions –
Q.1. Human survival and environmental conservation go hand-in-hand. Comment.
Q.2. Deforestation, overfishing and overpopulation are some of the problems identified by Nani Palkhiwala in his essay. Discuss his views and your opinions about the same.
Q.3. Write an article on the misuse of natural resources taking inputs from the chapter.
Q.4. How is poverty related to the ailment of our planet? Explain with reference to the cycle of inflation and fertility.
Q.5. What are some of the ways in which a school student can contribute to the conservation of our environment?

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