India is just behind China in procreating their way to being the second most populous country on earth. At 1,266,883,598, India’s population has been, er, ah, shall we say, rather busy. India’s people probably will not likely be as proud to know that they are rapidly approaching being the most polluted country in the world. Of course, it goes without saying that being the most polluted state also means being the biggest polluter in this global economy that everyone is so excited about. An exploding population and one of the worst air pollution problems in the world will mean that somewhere around 1.1 million Indian citizens will perish from the effects of air pollution. To quote the New York Times, “the confluence of rapid industrialization, population growth and an aging populace in India that is more susceptible to air pollution.”
While the air is deadly, the water is no less so. Contaminated water is killing the children of India at a rate that to use the word alarming would be too subtle. “Diarrhea is the third leading cause of childhood mortality in India, and is responsible for 13% of all deaths/year in children under 5 years of age, according to Subitha Lakshminarayanan and Ramakrishnan Jayalakshmy in a 2015 Journal of Natural Science article. India quite deliberately wants to industrialize and become an economic powerhouse; they take great pride in their citizens being promoted to CEO positions like Satya Narayana Nadella being the head of Microsoft.
I won’t blame all of the largest democracy in the world’s pollution on industrialization, as the population isn’t helping any. According to the Huffington Post, “Indian cities produce nearly 40,000 million litres of sewage every day and barely 20 percent of it is treated… Weak or non-existent enforcement of environmental laws, rapid urban development and a lack of awareness about the dangers of sewage are all blamed for water pollution. ‘Untreated sewage is killing Indian rivers.’”
Small wonder they want to come to the U.S., and bring all of the high-tech knowledge with them, leaving their soiled air, rivers, and landscape to those of the lesser born caste. You see, in India, the Brahmins run everything and the Untouchables, the lower caste, are allowed to wallow in the slime when the Brahmins are feeling generous. All kidding aside, the Untouchables in Indian society face discrimination that would make U.S. pre-civil war treatment of African Americans look like they were given the velvet glove treatment.
Environmentally, India is killing itself and its people in almost every way imaginable. Urbanization, water supply, wastewater collection and treatment are becoming serious problems. Eighty percent of the domestic water tapped passes back into the system as wastewater. Big industries such as steel and chemicals as well as cottage industries like textiles create toxic water and sludge that percolates or is washed into the water supply by rain, gone but by no means forgotten. Agricultural runoff as well as tapping the Himalayan Rivers upstream for water for irrigation is leaving the rivers as only a trickle by the time they reach the lower cities. Lastly and most disappointingly, cremated bodies, disposing of animal carcasses and mass bathing are stressing the rivers, making them unsafe.
The global economy has certainly given India many opportunities. The vision of environmental responsibility being a global consideration has largely been lost to a country that is polluting their air and water at rates that are unsustainable and are already costing lives. A more efficient and effective government (without corruption) could go a long way in correcting the problem. Whether that is likely to happen is anyone’s guess, and I would guess, at this point in time, not. The government corruption, bolstered by the social structure of India, is not helping, and it appears from all indications, that it will not be happening anytime soon. In the meantime, India’s people will suffer and die because of India’s desire to become a player in the global economy.