The Environment of India

India is the oldest civilization in the world. Civilisational awareness of the environment and ecosystem was part of the psyche of every citizen. Of the five things that every citizen was expected to venerate every day, the environment is one. Apart from being home to the largest diversity of races, religions, languages, kingdoms, and sub-cultures, India also has one of the world’s largest biodiversity.


Multipronged foray to meet 2030 sustainability goals

April 14, 2021

India is working with Russia, France, the US, Denmark, and Sweden to find ways to meet its sustainability goal of generating 450 gigawatts(GW) of renewable energy by 2030.

Continue reading
Science & Technology

India joins Hypersonic Missile and Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet clubs

April 14, 2021

India announced that it “India successfully flight-tested a Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSDTV) and demonstrated Solid Fuel Ducted Ramjet (SFDR) technology-based missile.

Continue reading

As the oldest civilization in the world, awareness of the environment and ecosystem was part of the psyche of every citizen. Of the five things that every citizen was expected to venerate every day, the environment is one. While many of the ancient values are not ubiquitous among every citizen but they are still prevalent. The Indian Constitution is the only national framework that considers the life of an animal or plant as precious as a human. Ancient practices divided the year into 6 seasons—in modern Indian, the Indian Meteorological Department divides the year into four: winter (mid-December to mid-March), summer (mid-March to May), the South-West monsoon (rains from June to September), and the North-East Monsoon (rains from October to mid-December).

Apart from being home to the largest diversity of races, religions, languages, kingdoms, and sub-cultures, India also has one of the world’s largest biodiversity. India has all the natural features in one country – deserts, the tallest mountains, tropical and temperate forests, swamps, swamps, plains, very long rivers, island archipelagos, wide beaches, etc. According to one source, India has 350 species of mammals, 375 reptiles, 130 amphibians, 20,000 insects, 19,000 varieties of fish, and 1,200 species of fish. It also houses the largest number of cats with tigers, Asiatic lions, leopards, and panthers being the most famous. India has 6% of the world’s flowering species, about 17,000 and 7% of the world’s flora about 45,000 species.

India is divided into eight floristic regions: the Andamans, Malabar, Deccan, Indus Plain, north-Western Himalaya, Ganga Plain, Eastern Himalaya, Assam and the North-East. India is a signatory to the multilateral Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) treaty whose signatories promise to conserve their biodiversity, use it sustainably, and share its benefits equitably.

Five essential actions required by every citizen
Many Indians still venerate the environment
Every living being is still venerated by many
Varied biodiversity -- although details differ with each study
The Royal Bengal Tiger -- India's national animal
Historical population of tigers
After King George V was coronated, he went on a hunting spree killing over 40 tigers in 10 days
Despicable tiger massacres and tasteless flaunting
The disastrous communist style governance destroyed the environment
Forest encroachment is major problem
Project Tiger progress 2006-2018
Project Tiger progress 2010-2014
Tiger sancturies in India

The environment charter is managed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change at the Centre and each state has its similar department and together create and implement policies on this subject. A slew of legislation like the Indian Wildlife Protect Act of 1972, Environment (Protection) Act of 1986, and Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act 1992 aim to protect India’s environment. There was a National Forest Policy of 1988 which was updated again in 2006. Further, a National Board for Wildlife and corresponding state-level boards were created in 1972 to identify and formulate rules to protect wildlife. In 2009, about 4.8% of the country’s land area was designated as “protected” including national parks(100), sanctuaries (514), conservation reserves (41), and community reserves (4). The state of wildlife in India can be understood by investigating the national animal, the Tiger.

Disrespect for the environment started with British colonial rule. To get into the good books of the British, between 1875-1925 many Indian kings organised hunting parties inviting British rulers and army official to kill nearly 80,000 tigers. After King George V was coronated, he went on a hunting spree killing over 40 tigers in 10 days. Such barbarism was abetted by the British colonial office in full connivance of erstwhile Kings of India. Over time, tigers have lost 95% of their historical range. Starting during colonial times under the British, their historical forests are being destroyed, degraded, and fragmented by logging, road building, and other human activities. Tigers need large swathes of forest land to roam, hunt, and live comfortably. They do not know about roads, forest boundaries, or human settlements.

After independence, communist-style central planning paid little regard to the environment. Fragmenting forest areas in the name of development and connectivity, have brought tigers into a confrontation with (mostly illegal) human settlement. Each tiger can use as much as 200 square kilometres as its territory. Recently, environmentalists were surprised that a two and a half-year-old collared tiger travelled 1,300 kilometres to find a mate.

Sadly, rampant corruption, political considerations, and wanton disrespect for non-native religions of India towards animals have resulted in large-scale encroachment of forests endangering flora and fauna. Seeing the rapid dwindling of tigers due to this malaise, India launched Project Tiger in 1973. Over 90% of tiger habitat in India is overrun by human development and illegal habitation. This has increased the density of wild animals causing them to migrate outside their traditional habitat areas. There are over 50 tiger reserves in India. In 2004, there were reports that tigers were poached and their body parts shipped to China. Interested in securing votes of those opposing protection of nature, the government at that time, refused to pay any attention leading to increased poaching.

Body parts of tigers killed in conflicts situations end up in the black market to satisfy the never-ending demand from Chinese nouveau riche who believe that the tiger's body parts heal many ailments such as impotency, ageing, and so on. As is the wont of communists, the Chinese have started several tiger farms where they are raised in captivity to service this medicinal market. Meeting such demand further perpetrates outdated beliefs and practices.

However, subsequent governments of late have made an earnest attempt to address these challenges. Recruitment of many forest guards from tribal communities, stricter enforcement, and selectively targeting poachers have brought the number of incidents down. Also, many conservationists have worked with the local population to bring their connection back to the forests. Sustained studies are being conducted by government agencies using methods like camera trapping, analysing DNA from their scat (droppings), collaring, etc. These steps made the data from Project Tiger credible free from double counting, data fudging, and misreporting.

With control on corruption, the tiger population has increased in India from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018. Peer-reviewed data says that 83 per cent of the tiger population, that is 2461 tigers, were counted through individual photographs and the remaining 17 per cent of the tiger population was estimated using robust statistical models. The urban educated population has also become more aware and economically and democratically punish companies and political parties which affect wild animals. Tourists, most urban residents pay premiums to stay at resorts and also pay good visiting fees to go on safaris. These have generated a lot of jobs for those living at the periphery of forests. This has changed people's mentality of being in conflict with animals to look at their continued living as a source of income.

India now is home to 70% of the world's tiger population. The tiger census published every 4 years, is an arduous task covering half a million square kilometres where scientists and forest officers have to trek through difficult terrain to ascertain information. They have to compare 350,000 images taken by 26,000 cameras installed in over 50 sanctuaries. The number of protected areas rose from 692 in 2014 to 860 in 2019. The number of community reserves has more than doubled, to 100. According to Management Effectiveness Evaluation of Tiger Reserves (MEETR), an index developed by the government, 42 per cent of the tiger reserves fell in the Very Good management category, 34 per cent in the Good category, 24 per cent in the Fair category while no tiger reserve was rated Poor.

Climate change has been disastrous for most wild beings. Notably, it has played havoc on the majestic Bengal tigers inhabiting the mangrove forests of the Sundarbans separating India and Bangladesh. Rising sea levels have vastly reduced the space bringing these tigers into direct conflict with humans. Rising salinity damages the livers and kidneys of tigers forcing them to become man-eaters.

Climate change in India is induced by many factors ranging from pollution carried from China, waste dumping by rich countries in oceans, an unending appetite of the Indian economy to produce power, mismanagement of power distribution, and use of polluting source of fossil fuels. Acknowledging that “climate change and calamity are major challenges facing the world“ Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi disclosed plans to deal with self-induced climate affecting factors. India wants to generate renewable energy 450 gigawatts(GW) by 2030 up from 136GW in 2020. He said that his government will advance “the target of mixing 20 per cent ethanol” to 2025 and will set up “5,000 compressed bio-gas plants will be set up to turn municipal and agriculture waste into energy.”

In the last 6 years, India has had several small but significant wins on the environment front—“switch over to energy-efficient LED bulbs” reduced carbon emission by 38 million tonnes; use of “modern techniques of irrigation” has reduced the use of pesticides”; adoption of Bharat-VI emission norms in April 2020 to reduce vehicular pollution; India’s installed non-fossil electricity generation capacity has grown to 38%; showing sustained progress to reach Paris Agreement targets ahead of the 2030 target date; and, voluntarily planning to cut its pollution rate by 33-35% by 2030. For all these achievements, he was conferred the 2021 CERAWeek Global Energy & Environment Leadership Award.

India has signed strategic partnerships and agreements with many countries including Russia, France, Denmark, and Sweden. Top US Government special presidential representative on the environment, John Kerry, revealed that he has “put together a small consortium of several countries” and “private sector capital” “that are prepared to help India with some of the finance and transition” in its ambition to “produce 450GW of renewable energy by 2030.”

Tigers are popular with tourists
Tiger poaching has been falling steadily
Average rainfall by month
Rainfall from 1955-2005 at Cherrapunjee (where India gets most rainfall)
Energy generation capacity by category
Solar installations over time
Energy investment potential
Hydroelectricity by various countries
Historically, who contributed to CO2 emissions the most?
Gross and per-capita pollution by countries

Historically, India has only contributed 3% of all historical emissions; the United States (US) and European Union (EU) have been the largest polluters in the last 150 years. India’s per capita use of electricity is 1,200 kilowatts per year while that of the US and EU is more than 12,000. Since, the country aspires to grow its GDP and also its per-capita GDP, the usage of electricity will only be proportional to that growth. Even though India is the fourth largest emitter of GHG in gross terms after the US, the European Union (EU) + United Kingdom (UK), and China, its per capita emissions are only one-third of the global average and one-seventh of the largest polluter in the world, the US.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates, in 2019, that the G-20 countries account for 85% of the total Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions down from 92% in 1990. In gross emission terms, Argentina produced only 171 Metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) while China produced 9,802 MTCO2e. Only five countries produced more than 1000 MTCO2e accounting for 70% of emissions from G-20 countries and 58% of the world’s emissions – China (9,802), US (4,766), India (2,309), Russia (1,587), and Japan (1,066). In per capita terms, Australia and Canada produce a 15.3 true cost of carbon pollution (tCO2) while India has the lowest per capita emission at 1.7 tCO2. Only Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico are below the per capita world average of 4.4 tCO2. The Government of India is considering getting to net-zero emissions 10 years before China, although the target date has not been set.


India is the oldest civilization in the world. Civilisational awareness of the environment and ecosystem was part of the psyche of every citizen. Of the five things that every citizen was expected to venerate every day, the environment is one. Apart from being home to the largest diversity of races, religions, languages, kingdoms, and sub-cultures, India also has one of the world’s largest biodiversity.