To develop, conventional wisdom tells us, is to urbanize and to industrialize. Today, this concept of development is increasingly at odds with the carrying capacity of the planet both in terms of finite natural resources and in terms of pollution of the environment. "Sustainable development" means urbanizing and industrializing without doing undo harm to the environment. As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies in an era of resource scarcity, global warming and widening gaps between rich and poor India finds itself facing the dilemma of sustainable development. Can development ever be sustainable, or is the expression an oxymoron? Does economic growth equal development? If development is not equitable, is it sustainable? What has the history of development been in India? Are all regions in India developing equally? Will India succeed in its ambition to transform itself into a developed country within a couple of decades? How will the global economic crisis affect the prospect of India charting a sustainable path to development?
Fellow, World Policy Institute and Asia Society de New York.
Author, Planet India: How the Fastest-Growing Democracy is Transforming America and the World