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Saving our toxic motherland

india Updated: Mar 14, 2010 23:04 IST
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March is Women’s month — we’ve had the bill in Parliament and the first woman director to win the Oscars. Perhaps it’s time to think of the environmental burden women bear in India.

Consider just toxics. According to the Blacksmith Institute, an organisation that cleans up toxic hot-spots, of the 2000 worst polluted places in the world, 10 per cent are in India, impacting 15 million people. Let’s do the numbers. About 7 million women are being poisoned. Women pass on a share of their toxic burden to their kids, particularly the first born. If only half of these women produce two babies each, we’ll have 8 million impacted children.

Treatment cost apart, women will have to bear the stress of additional caring for these kids. Not enforcing a strict polluter pays principal thus, creating a triple burden for women — as a poisoned population, as mothers with suffering children who will be challenged to meet their own potential and as caregivers under pressure.

Footprint of a Neta

Ministers can now look forward to the end of the austerity drive, because the economy is looking up. But the question is, should they allow themselves to go back to their consumptive ways again?

It is only appropriate that the leaders consciously opt to reduce their ecological footprints: Less air travel, more video conferencing, fewer official cars, smaller cavalcades, less lavish events, greening their homes and using LED lighting are just the tip of the iceberg. This does not mean they shun all air-conditioning or wear only white khadi. We are not asking them to live in staged penury, but volunteer a lot more austerity and consequently, green the business of governance.