India and China are known to be two of the world’s greatest polluters — and certainly, American companies and politicians usually point to two of the world’s most populated countries when arguing over whether climate regulations are relevant to American interests. There’s one big problem inherent in those arguments: India, for example, uses about one-sixth of the energy per person as the average American. It’s comparing apples and oranges.
The same applies to China, which is leading the world in creating new renewable energy infrastructure. It doesn’t seem to make much sense to place blame there.
Still, there are mounting concerns over climate and economy when looking at Indian farm laws. The laws are notorious for providing farmers with freedom of choice. The decision of where their crops are sold and to whom is theirs alone. Protests against the laws have been framed amidst western conspiracy theories, which seems like an easy argument to make — we’re known for them. Social media regulations toward the end-of-Trump era seem to make them even easier.
The problem is farming is such an important part of the Indian economy — and a huge drain on the local environments. The goal for protesters is to ensure that farmers produce fewer cattle and less rice. Both of these results would be wonderful for the environment, but terrible for the Indian economy. So far, compromises aimed at reconciling the conflicts have proved difficult to achieve.
Big American firms like Hale & Monico have shown an interest in approaching litigation built on cases of personal injury due to unhealthy environmental practices. That appetite is spreading to law firms in other countries like India.
And few other solutions have presented themselves thus far. The agriculture that has sustained India for decades is built on subsidy, which is no longer a strategically tenable choice for government agencies to implement. The debt created by these programs is extraordinary, and even blamed for a string of suicides among the agricultural community. Notably, the farmers are using too much groundwater and relying heavily on fossil fuels to power farms. Without change, it’s difficult to see a positive outcome for farmers.
Even worse, desertification has become a huge issue all over the world. This is readily apparent in local regions like Punjab and Haryana, where desertification due to over-farming is a big problem.
Farmers must transition to less damaging crops, but have shown little motivation to do so — especially by the new farming laws providing them the option to basically ignore climate and environmental impacts. India is struggling to create employment in other sectors of the economy, which is part of the reason farmers continue to defend a broken system. The economy will not grow without change. It will stagnate instead.
The government — and foreign entities, certainly — must research new methods to incentivize farmers or move them away from traditional economic outcomes. So far, there has been too little dialogue to effect these changes.