Economic Sustainability

Dr. D. Mukhopadhyay
Of late, questions of sustainable development or economic sustainability has attracted the attention of the researchers in the field of science and technology, social sciences and management thinkers and practitioners spread all over the world . Economic progress of a nation invariably depends on the quality of human resource and quality of human resource depends on the quality of education and training. People can remain engrossed in research and development when a peaceful environment endowed with economic sustainability is available before the researchers. Jean Piaget, famous psychologist and Philosopher, once says that the goal of education is not to increase the amount of knowledge but to create the possibilities for a child to invent and discover, to create men who are capable for doing new things and perhaps this message is aptly relevant and significant for the society when it is in search of finding out an effective tool for securing sustainable development and socio-economic growth for a nation which is struggling to emerge as one of the leading economic powerhouses in the globe and this society is none but India. India’s socio-economic development has been eclipsed with superstitions, illiteracy, child marriage and non-recognition of intellectual capability of women and it is education and only education which can take the country from the group of less economically developed countries to the league of developed countries like the United States of America, France, Germany, Japan and many more.
Importance of education is well-acknowledged by all those countries who have occupied the significant room in the global map of developed nations and what they are today is just because of having educated manpower who remain ceaselessly engrossed in inventing , discovering and practicing new things in order to bring about social transformation and acquiring economic power.
John Elkington , an authority in sustainable development , who gave the concept of ‘Triple Bottom Line’ – is of the view that policy makers and management practitioners should give due weight-age to the theory of ‘Triple Bottom-Line’ whose important constituents are people, environment and profit who in combined form is the cause and sustainable economic progress is the effect . Therefore, the primary enabler of sustainable development is the quality and capability of people that is the human resource. The quality and capability of human resource of a country is dependent of the quality of education and social environment under which a man learns to be inquisitive and inquisitiveness is the fundamental attribute that leads him or her to the door of invention and discovery and it acts as an inspirational stimuli for practicing new methods for generating overall social and economic well-being. Education is beacon that enlightens people and it brings them to the world of rational and scientific domain of creative thoughts from the canvas of ignorance. The people is the maker of future of a nation and a country should invest its efforts in developing the human resource and making them capable of meeting future challenges. A person is born just as an animate object and it is the society that makes him or her a responsible and noble citizen for taking care of the future of the nation and behind this process of man making is the pivotal role of education. Education is the responsible force for developing productive and intellectual skills in the individuals by dint of which sustainable development and overall well-being of the society is secured. Education besides being the subject of quality -standard examinations and results should be based on the strong platform of knowledge cultivated under the influence of conducive socio-economic environment. The phenomenon of sustainability is the function of People, Planet and Profit as it has been mentioned elsewhere. The ‘ People Bottom Line’ represents human capital which is the function of quality of education and it invokes people to act fairly and ethically in day to day economic operations. The ‘Planet Bottom Line’ refers to natural capital in the form of environment and natural surroundings that need to be dealt with care and utmost caution since the hazardless existence of people in the Earth is the function of pollution free, ecological and atmospheric sustainability. Thirdly, the ‘Profit Bottom Line’ denotes the ability of a commercial entity to earn reasonable economic surplus which is excess of total revenue over sacrifice of resources measured in terms of money. The ‘Profit Bottom Line’ is the economic strength of a business representing the life line of an enterprise. An economy can sustain its growth when it is saturated with the influential impact of the combined function and strength of the ‘ Triple Bottom Line’. The issues concerning significance of economic sustainability are receiving the priority of the policy formulators and decision makers at global level. India has become one of the fastest growing economic powerhouses and she is perceived as a country who can play a leading role in the global politics for which India needs to continue with her socio-economic sustainability. The question of sustainable development is not a concern for a singular country but it is a global agenda and that is why India must prepare herself to response to the strategies for framing public policies and it is a very difficult task ahead.
According to the Brundtland Report, to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is sustainable development. The experts and researchers in the field of sustainable strategy are of the views that sustainable development shall come into existence when economic factors in conjunction with ecological and social factors are taken into consideration while framing the strategies and implementing the same on the basis of top economic priorities.
Overall economic progress is not possible unless India is in a position to reduce her dependence on the bounty of climate- sensitive sectors. Sustainable development shall be a dream for India so long as long she is not in a stage to pass the litmus tests of employment generation for people in accordance with their level of education , skill and training. It appears to be a serious issue before the policy makers and strategy framers to ponder over as to how to bring about employment generation, poverty elevation, gender disparity reduction and providing quality education.
There are many challenges before the Government of the country and some of them are just mentioned here which represent the tip of the iceberg. It been observed that India suffers from the adverse effects of drought and flood in both ways. India needs to take appropriate measures against this natural calamities. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 has become an effective instrument to check poverty and improving living conditions in rural areas of the country and this is an appropriate action that helps in securing sustainable development. Again, India has adopted many steps in bringing about improvement in ecological and environmental conditions through Clean Development Mechanism Projects in terms of the Kyoto Protocol to award en-cashable points to the eco-friendly projects who control the emission of carbon , Mumbai based Start up Sustainable Technologies and Environmental Projects in order to convert plastic, organic and electronic remnants into petroleum having no harmful effect to the environment. Plants installed under this project costing for about US $3 Million are able to produce up to 25,000 liters of petroleum per day at a operating cost excluding raw materials cost of Rs. 12 per liter. India is also contemplating to substitute about 10% of automobile fuels with bio-fuels in next 10 years time in order to check carbon emission in the atmosphere. Similarly inclining to the installation of Green Buildings under the US Green Building Council-Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design initiative is definitely a welcome step.
In the same way, Corporate Social Responsibility compliance mechanism under the provision of Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013 and Corporate Social Responsibility Rules , 2014 is a bold and unique legislation all over the world which has already started generating results by way of reducing socio-economic disparity and improving environmental conditions through adopting various activities in education, health, infrastructure development, natural resource depletion management, community development and livelihood provisions for the weaker sections of the society. Therefore, it may be mentioned that India is quite aware of her pragmatic role to be played in achieving sustainable development but the areas and issues which are yet to be addressed by the policy designers are required to be given a serious attention immediately so that India is able to secure inclusive economic growth and consequently achieve sustainable development and finally she reaches her desired destination in the economic map of the world as one of the economic super powers.
(The author is Professor of Management, School of Business & Dean-Faculty of Management, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra.)