I'm on record as saying I believe India will become an environmental leader in the 21st century. I try to keep a close eye on what's happening there. I've noticed that a great deal of what you can learn about India as an outsider seems to depend on the phrasing of your search, what you're looking for and the source of your info.
For example if you search "India environmental issues" you tend to find a lot of western news sources talking about "India is the fourth worst country in environmental policy." You'll see that India has made statements in international climate discussions such as "India's right to development is non negotiable."
However searching "composting in India" or "vermicomposting in India" the results are MUCH different. Stories of a grassroots movement to clean their environment. Photos of large composting facilities. Stories and studies on the positive effects of vermicompost on farming and the environment. Even stories of failed government composting projects.
After researching for a while it's easy to feel like India has a split personality. I almost picture the little devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other; like we have all seen in cartoons.
So what is the reality? I started contemplating the reasons why there is such a differing message on the state of India's environmental solutions. What follows is my assessment as an outsider based only on the information I've been able to find.
Western media paints a very negative picture of India's environmental policies and the leadership of the country refuse to sacrifice their economy and development to appease the international community. The same negativity slammed President Trump when he announced dissatisfaction with the Paris accord. Does western media have an internationalist agenda? If so is that agenda responsible for the reporting? I just can't know, but I have to question the objectivity of the reports.
I do tend to believe that India has some fairly serious issues regarding environmental practices. Previously weak policies have led to a crisis or near crisis situation in regard to pollution and sanitation.
So with all of these things going against India why do I predict they'll be an innovator in composting, vermicomposting and eventually environmental cleanup?
The university in my home city specializes in environmental studies and sciences. Over the last decade I've witnessed an ever increasing number of smiling students from India, visas and passports in hand enrolled in our university and eagerly studying in the library. Indians are taking education very seriously.
A recent article in The Asian Age details some regulation that appears to be more strict and more fiercely enforced than most I've seen elsewhere. Housing developments over 20,000 square metres must earmark a composting space for all trash that can be composted. Bulk solid waste generators are being legislated to deal with waste at its source rather than placing it in landfills or hauling it offsite. Failure to comply can lead to imprisonment and hefty fines. If Canada's Ministry Of The Environment and/or the USA's Environmental Protection Agency are threatening prison for failing to compost; I've not heard of it.
Another observation I've made is a tidal wave of interest in composting and vermicomposting technologies from India's residents. Whether the interests are fed by fear of penalty, or profit seeking based on the requirements of law, or a genuine desire for improvement; I don't know for sure. It appears a grassroots movement is sweeping across India to reduce solid waste pollution.
It appears as an onlooker that India wants to solve her own problems and yet not be forced into arbitrary quotas or purchasing carbon credits that would negatively effect their GDP.
My feelings on India are that there's a unique mixture of desperation, desire, education, and stubbornness that is fueling changes in environmental policy that will lead to a cleaner tomorrow as well as profit for a few Indian innovators and entrepreneurs.