The Forum of Free Enterprise is a non-political organization founded in 1956 by A. D. Shroff and has been established to educate public opinion in India on free enterprise and a democratic way of life. The Forum publishes booklets to further its objects. The following booklet titled “India’s Ecological Heritage and Sustainable Development” was published on January 4, 1994, and was authored by Alan Herbert and N.D. Jayal.
Alan Herbert’s article is a brief introduction to the concept and lays out some of the main lines that sustainable development will need to follow if it is to offer solutions to the present global environment and social crisis. He argues that the ‘sustainable’ revolution will have to take place rapidly, consciously, and on many different levels and in many different spheres simultaneously. He goes on to discuss the changes required at various levels- technological, political, economical, social, informational and environmental. He further argues that the critical shift required is an attitudinal one as ‘Industrial Man’ has grown accustomed to thinking that the world’s resources are infinite and they exist primarily to be exploited for the benefit of Mankind.
N.D. Jayal focuses on ways to sustain India’s rich ecological heritage. She argues that despite the endowment of an exceptionally rich base, the scale and speed of land degradation continues to be a matter of grave concern. She further points out that the changing land-use patterns due to faulty government policies, particularly the dilution of crop diversity, increasing monocultures and emphasis on cash crops, and the socio-economic transformation of rural agriculture from survival needs to agro-business and agro-industry, under the control of urban market economic forces, are accelerating land degradation. She proposes an approach based on ‘land ethics’ which recognizes the importance of communities and cultures preserving land and the environment. She notes that only with collective survival response people will respond adequately to the crisis we are facing.