Earth Summit 1992 resulted into five documents
Rio Declaration on Environment and Development,
Convention on Biological Diversity,
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and
Agenda 21. Agenda 21 is a blueprint for sustainable development
into the 21st Century. There are 40 chapters of Agenda 21, divided
into four main sections. It includes combating poverty, changing
consumption pattern promoting health, atmospheric
deforestation, conservation of biological diversity (biodiversity),
control of pollution, the roles of children, youth, women,
NGOs’, local authorities,
technology transfer, Promoting Education, Public Awareness &
Training etc. Agenda 21 has brought out many issues. It is a vast
document. However, due to space restrictions only two chapters from
section IV are taken for comparison with Gandhaian philosophy.
It is striking to
note that most of the issues forming integral part of Agenda 21 are
already brought forth by Mahatma Gandhi a century back when there
was absolutely no environmental degradation and pollution. All the
problems were anticipated long ago and given probable solution to
it. There may be repetition of certain points and quotations at
more than one place because of their relevance.
Introduction and History:
The United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the
Rio Summit, or Rio Conference, Earth Summit (Portuguese:
Eco '92) was a major
conference held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil from 3 to 14 June
In the conference
172 governments participated with 108 sending their heads of state
or government. There are some 2,400 representatives of
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) attended with 17,000
people at the parallel NGO "Global Forum", who had
Rio produced two
international agreements, two statements of principles and a major
action agenda on world wide sustainable development.
The Earth Summit
resulted in the following five documents:
Rio Declaration on Environment and Development - It resulted
into 27 principles define the rights and responsibilities of nations
as they pursue human development and well-being.
Forest Principles A
statement of principles to guide the management, conservation and
sustainable development of all types of forests, which are
essential to economic development and the maintenance of all forms
Convention on Biological Diversity The
Convention on Biological Diversity requires that countries adopt
ways and means to conserve the variety of living species, and ensure
that the benefits from using biological diversity are equitably
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) - The aim of the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is to
stabilize greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at levels that will not
dangerously upset the global climate system. This will require a
reduction in our emissions of such gases as carbon dioxide, a
by-product of the use of burning fuels for energy.
- It is a blueprint on how to make development
socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.
genda 21 is a
programme run by the
United Nations (UN) related to
sustainable development. It is a comprehensive blueprint of
action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations
of the UN, governments, and major groups in every area in which
humans directly affect the
agenda 21 by member states remains essentially voluntary.
There are 40
chapters in the Agenda 21, divided into four main sections.
Section I: Social
and Economic Dimensions
combating poverty, changing consumption patterns, population and
demographic dynamics, promoting health, promoting sustainable
settlement patterns, integrating environment and development into
Section II: Conservation and Management of Resources for Development Includes
atmospheric protection, combating
deforestation, protecting fragile environments, conservation of
biological diversity (biodiversity), and
control of pollution.
Strengthening the Role of Major Groups
It includes the
roles of children, youth, women, NGOs’, local authorities, business
Implementation includes science,
education, international institutions and mechanisms and
It is striking to
note that most of the issues forming integral part of Agenda 21 are
already brought forth by Mahatma Gandhi a century back when there
was absolutely no pollution. All the problems were envisaged long
ago and given probable solution to it. There may be repetition of
certain points and quotations at more than one place because of
In this article we
will concentrate on two chapters that is Chapter 34 and 36 from
Section IV of Agenda 21 and compare the same with Gandhian
philosophy as follows:
Section IV1. Transfer of
Environmentally Sound Technology, Cooperation & Capacity-Building
-Chapter 34 Environmentally
sound technologies protect the environment, are less polluting, use
all resources in a more sustainable manner, recycle more of their
wastes and products, and handle residual wastes in a more acceptable
manner than the technologies for which they were substitutes.
sound technologies are those which generate low or no waste, for the
prevention of pollution. They also cover technologies for treatment
of pollution if generated.
sound technologies are not just individual technologies, but total
systems which include know-how, procedures, goods and services, and
equipment as well as organizational and managerial procedures. This
implies that when discussing transfer of technologies, the human
resource development and local capacity-building aspects of
technology choices, including gender-relevant aspects, should also
be addressed. Environmentally sound technologies should be
compatible with nationally determined socio-economic, cultural and
There is a need
for favourable access to and transfer of environmentally sound
technologies, in particular to developing countries, through
supportive measures that promote technology cooperation and that
should enable transfer of necessary technological know-how as well
as building up of economic, technical, and managerial capabilities
for the efficient use and further development of transferred
technology. Technology cooperation involves joint efforts by
enterprises and Governments, both suppliers of technology and its
recipients. Therefore, such cooperation entails an iterative process
involving government, the private sector, and research and
development facilities to ensure the best possible results from
transfer of technology. Successful long-term partnerships in
technology cooperation necessarily require continuing systematic
training and capacity-building at all levels over an extended period
proposed in this chapter aim at improving conditions and processes
on information, access to and transfer of technology (including the
state-of-the-art technology and related know-how), in particular to
developing countries, as well as on capacity-building and
cooperative arrangements and partnerships in the field of
technology, in order to promote sustainable development. New and
efficient technologies will be essential to increase the
capabilities, in particular of developing countries, to achieve
sustainable development, sustain the world's economy, protect the
environment, and alleviate poverty and human suffering. Inherent in
these activities is the need to address the improvement of
technology currently used and its replacement, when appropriate,
with more accessible and more environmentally sound technology.
Gandhiji the industrialisation and urbanisation have created
multiple problems and miseries for the modern man. In the process,
we have tried to explain in detail as to how industrialisation,
modern civilisation and rapid urbanisation have created chaos,
lop-sided development, rapid depletion of natural resources and
danger for natural environment.
critical of modern civilisation, rapid industrialisation and
galloping urbanisation. In this context, we find the pertinence of
Long before the
modern environmentalists, Gandhi correctly realised that rapid
industrialisation can not be the panacea to all ills. Increasing
industrialisation in today's world has not reduced social
inequalities, but has rather resulted in further differentiations.
Increasing use of technology has led to greater heterogeneity,
greater inequalities and greater un-altruistically oriented
industrialisation detrimental to growth of a non-violent and
eco-friendly society. In his ideal society, as in the classical
anarchist model, there would be complete decentralisation of
political and economic system and self-sufficient, barter type of
village economy would be the desired model.
Machinery has, in
his judgement; three-essential attributes. First, it can be
duplicated or copied. Secondly, there is no limit to its growth or
evolution. Thirdly, it appears to possess a will or genius of its
own that operates as the inevitable law of displacement of the
labour. Once the machine is created and allowed to operate, it goes
more and more out of human control.
regards all machinery as thoroughly undesirable. Once he commented:
"Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of
millions. The impetus behind it all is not philanthropy to save
labour but greed. It is against this constitution of things that I
am fighting with all my might”.
against machinery can broadly be divided into two categories:
ethical and economic. The arguments of the first category run as
(i) Labour is a value relative to non-violence and
machinery tends to undermine it.<
(ii) Machines are
repugnant in his thinking to the good life.
invention of machinery has led to the growth of
the factory system which has reduced the masses of
men to the condition of slaves.
(iv) The technological advancement has led to the growth of the monetary
exchange system which is characterised by inequality and
has led to the growth of economic
competition which undermines the process of
falling in the second category are:
of human labour is an essential characteristic of a machine and a
great argument against it, introductions of machines results in
employment of a few and unemployment of many, it saves labour and
provides leisure, leisure results in wastage of time, and potential
cause of demoralisation.
Machines lead to
the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few.
inevitably leads to mass production and mass production necessarily
leads to over production, storage, transportation. Hence Gandhiji
used to say that instead of mass production there should be
production by masses.
The application of
machinery in agriculture may destroy the fertility of the soil and
lead to loss of production.
Machines lead to
growth of congested, unhygienic cities, speed of travel, etc. which
results in the loss of health.
Gandhi felt that
the present industrialisation and use of large scale machinery was
not very healthy and resulted in serious economic dislocation. Dead
machinery must not be pitted against millions of living machines. As
Gandhi once commented:
good when the hands are too few for the work intended to be
accomplished. It is an evil when there are more hands than required
for the work, as in India."4
industrialisation perpetuates war and many other evils and all the
naturalness come to an end.
Gandhi rejected the modern industrial-urban concept of development
for its anti-democratic, anti-humanitarian, and exploitative
features. In its place Gandhi offers the ideal of the economically
self-sufficient, politically self-governing and culturally
non-violent village republic as the guarantee of genuine democracy,
true humanism, civilising non-violence and lasting peace. Thus
Gandhiji was in favour of technology and development of cottage and
small scale industries at village level because these industries are
localised, energy saver, job intensive and less polluting.
According to him cities should as store and forwarding houses and no
production in cities to prevent congestion and pollution.
Education, Public Awareness & Training - Chapter 36
of public awareness and training are linked to virtually all areas
in Agenda 21 This chapter sets out broad proposals, while specific
suggestions related to sector-wise issues are contained in other
chapters. Programme areas described in the present chapter are:
education towards sustainable development;
including formal education, public awareness and training should be
recognized as a process by which human beings and societies can
reach their fullest potential. Education is critical for promoting
sustainable development and improving the capacity of the people to
address environment and development issues. The basic education
provides the underpinning for any environmental and development
education, the latter needs to incorporate as an essential part of
learning. Both formal and non-formal education is indispensable to
changing people's attitudes so that they have the capacity to assess
and address their sustainable development concerns. It is also
critical for achieving environmental and ethical awareness, values
and attitudes, skills and behaviour consistent with sustainable
development and for effective public participation in
decision-making. To be effective, environment and development
education should deal with the dynamics of both the
physical/biological and socio-economic environment and human (which
may include spiritual) development, should be integrated in all
disciplines, and should employ formal and non-formal methods and
effective means of communication.
According to Gandhiji education should include element of morality
and ethics to motivate individual to perform his duty better.
Gandhiji was of the opinion that hand, head and heart to be
simultaneously trained. He also strongly promoted physical education
which he would prepare the youth in earning his livelihood by bread
labour. He was firm believer that education should be linked with
training and production that is vocational and job oriented
training. Intellectual training or training of head was to be done
through literature and social science. Mind is trained by
observations and experience and experiments. Training of mind is
necessary because mind weary and keeps on wandering and body also
demand more and more and must be trained to curb the wants. Hence
poor and rich both are not happy.
The ethical people
are better human beings. They are qualitatively very superior like
saints. Gandhi’s man is not economical man but ethical man because
such man is fit for sustainable society. Self regulated individual
could contribute better to a sustainable society because there would
be least opportunity to govern. Gandhiji always stood for ‘Minimum
State’. Minimum state is only possible when individual is self
regulated and self disciplined.
The education that
has no relation to actual living conditions is not national
education essential for democracy to function in fruitful ways. The
education to be proper must help shape lives and answer the wants of
people. It is no education if it fails to make farmer’s son a better
farmer. Present primary education is of no use in after-life becomes
useless. Similarly higher education makes us foreigner in our own
county, higher he goes further he moves from the house. Gandhiji
says that “by education it means all round drawing out of the best
in the child and man.
On this basis
Gandhi announced new system of education that is called as Nai
Talim. New education branches into three stages. First stage up to
the age of eight, children is not taught reading or writing. It
consists of manual training under supervision of an educationist
Education should appear as a play. Second stage is from nine to
sixteen. This is primary education, the basic education covering
standard matriculation subjects plus vocational subjects except
English. Third stage lasts after nine years after primary education.
During this period youngster will have education according to this
wishes and circumstances Education should increase all types of
subject history, geography, arithmetic, science, languages
-vernacular and Hindi, painting , music, handicraft. Education
should be self supporting and self confident and courageous.
Ganhiji felt that
agriculture taught should be intimately related to rural conditions.
College engineering student should be attached to different
industries paying for the training of the graduates. Thus the Tatas
, textile mills associations under the supervision of the state.
Medical colleges should be attached to the citified hospital.
Agriculture College should part with extensive agriculture
experience. Gandhian philosophy continues to hold relevance and
rural institutes inspirited in their establishment by Gandhian
philosophy have a special responsibility to establish the intrinsic
connection between the classroom the community surrounding it.
Nature has its own
self-cleaning system. But it has limitation beyond which it can not
work. This system has been adversely affected due to manmade
activities which have led to degradation of environment through
pollution of air, water and land and exploitation of natural
Around a century
ago environment was clean, virgin, pure, uncontaminated and
acceptable to all. Now it is unclean, impure, contaminated and
unacceptable to living beings. The worldwide environmental
problem/degradation is well felt. This is due to following
4. Throw away
concepts of human beings
exploitation of Natural Resources
Besides this due
to greedy nature of the people there is heavy reduction in Natural
Resources (both renewable and non-renewable) that is air, water,
minerals fuel- petrol, diesel, kerosene, gases, wood etc. ( some of
them are renewed after long period of time) and none of these
resources are free of cost. There is famous quoting by Mahatma
Gandhi – “we have enough to satisfy all people’s need but not enough
to satisfy some people’s greed.” In New Delhi Declaration views
similar to above have been expressed “Some for all rather than more
In rural area
generation of energy is at most important to run rural industries
and other activities. These industries are energy severer, less
wasteful and less damaging to environment and are essential to
supplement agricultural growth.
increasing global warming (effect of Carbon dioxide), the hole in
stratosphere Ozone layer of atmospheric and depletion in
biodiversity has threatened the human, animal, plant life and
aesthetics of property.
All above problems
could be solved by studying, accepting and following Gandhain
philosophy and practices. This will also save future generation
suffering from psychosomatic diseases (physical and mental)
problems were envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi a century ago when
actually there was no environmental problem and hence Gandhiji was
real visionary. According to Gandhian philosophy problem of
environmental degradation is in the mind of individual. He should
change himself from inside out for which individual must be
spiritual and religious. Hence prayer was made part of daily routine
in Gandhi ashram. The root cause is human greed, needs and wants.
This gives rise to vicious circle that is
consumerism-industrialisation-mass production-huge requirement of
raw material and fuel-large storage space-heavy transportation and
finish product in bulk quantity. The technology and machinery
required will displace labour due to automation. This will give rise
to another vicious circle that is displacement of
labour-unemployment-poverty-environmental degradation. These two
vicious circles will have negative effect on environment. Hence
concept of swaraj was put forth by Gandhiji that is total
liberation, self reliance and self sufficiency. Hence Gandhiji gave
slogan for youth “to go back to villages”. He insisted for village
and handicraft industries which are less machine dependent, labour
intensive, energy saver and protects environment. Hence Khadi
industries were promoted.
approach of protection of environment and reduction of pollution was
holistic socially and economically.
Notes and References:
3. Prabhath S.V.(Ed). (2010), Gandhi Today, Serials Publications, New Delhi.
4. Gandhi M.K.,Quoted by Mathurs (Ed.), ETMG, pp 476.
5. Ibid.,pp 249.
6. Kumar S.B.,
Environmental Problems and Gandhian Solutions, The only ray of
Hope to the present ailing world, Deep & deep Publications (Pvt.)
Ltd. New Delhi.
7. Mahatma Gandhi, Last Phase, Vol. II (1958), P. 65.
Sarabhai Foundation, January 2002