Edited by Pauline Deutz, Donald I. Lyons and Jun Bi
Chapter 2: Industrial ecology in India: converging traditional practice and modern environmental protection
India is a land of contrasts. Poverty exists alongside vast wealth; leaps of technical progress occur alongside traditional industry and agriculture. Resource conservation has been practised in India for millennia, driven primarily by economics and culture, similar to many other societies including Victorian England (Desrochers, 2002). This remains true in communities across the sub-continent and in many industries trying to turn profits on small margins. But, as populations urbanised and industrialised across the Indian sub-continent, the material and energy systems were thrown into a state of flux with a clash between traditional recycling systems and modern materials that have difficulty being recycled through these channels. Agriculture has traditionally been the dominant economic sector in India, and remains so today, employing about 60% of the working population, and accounting for about one-quarter of economic output (India MoLE, 2012). Modern and traditional manufacturing coexist. The former is characterised by large-scale production in modern factories and the latter by small-scale activities, especially micro-scale ‘cottage’ industries in rural areas.
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