Sunday, 27 September 2020

Is Consumerism Becoming A Threat To Sustainable Development?

By Ravi Mishra
Updated: September 9, 2020 11:07 am

Development is the necessity of the world and it will continue till  the mankind exists, as learning is the nature of the human being. Of course, one can question the model of development whether it is sustainable or unsustainable?  The world has seen mass industrialisation in the last five decades and this is increasing day by day. Without any doubt this industrialisation has helped people in tackling their suffering, making their life easy. Production of different types of products is heavily increasing. Consumption is also huge. People across the globe are adopting modern technology to ease their struggle. However, it is also true that, on one hand, people are getting rid of physical struggles, on the other hand, their mental struggle is on the highest level due to growing ambition. The fact is that no revolution, no government can control the ambition of people. And this is the reason why despite having adequate resources governments across the globe try their best to acquire more resources to fulfil the ambitions of their people. Earlier, people would struggle for food. But, at present, despite having the food easily, people are struggling for their other needs like TV, motor car, extra clothes, internet, air condition, new smart phones, fast-food, etc. Not only this, people who already own a home are struggling to buy another home.  Now the question is: Can any government fulfil the desires of its people? Seeing the current situation, no government can satisfy its people as their desires are ever mounting.

Now coming to the point, why are people becoming so ambitious? Have we all trapped in this unsustainable development?  Is the society being manipulated in the wrong direction? There are various examples which point out that the current development model is pushing people in the dark. This development model can fulfil people’s desires for a while, but it is never going to be the solution. And all these things are happening because of extreme consumerism. For instance, the real motto behind digitalisation was to make things easy and fast. But now, the data is being used in an unnecessary way by the people. It would not be wrong to say that now the data is consuming the people. It is consuming the people through social media, online games, or online videos. Social media companies like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, in the beginning, were the platforms for connecting the people. But now the social media has become a huge podium for shaping public opinion. Here, the big concern is that the two-three companies have almost the full data of billions of peoples across the globe and they can manipulate the public opinion easily. But, how did this happen? Why are billions of peoples compromising with their data? It is because of consumerism that we were forced to consume their way of technology. Now, these tech companies are controlling our choices and opinions. Online video companies like Amazon, Netflix are free to upload any type of content they want. There is no restriction on them. Owing to this, people are being forced to consume those videos which are sensitive in nature. Not only this, the story of Chinese apps like TikTok and PUBG (both are banned in India) is also interesting. These two companies came into being very silently, and with the passage of little time, they established their vast regime with crores of their subscribers worldwide. They became famous and billion dollar companies.

India is the world’s youngest country. So, it is obvious that consumption and demand would be very high in India. And the most important fact is that due to globalisation and being digitally connected to the world, Indians are demanding the same product that is being used by people living in developed countries. Of course, this is happening because of qualitative innovation by these countries. And innovations by developed countries are still dominating the world’s market. Even if China may claim to be the world’s largest manufacturing hub, it too copies the R&D of developed countries.

Now the poser arises, is consumerism good for India? From shoes, phones to food, Indians are being forced to buy foreign products. It is not because of the absence of Indian products, it is because of so much of global campaigning and manipulation of foreign products. We are now so obsessed with western culture that pizza, burger and noodles are gradually replacing our traditional foods from our platter.Those who prefer Indian food are called traditional, not modern. Why did it happen? Indian foods are widely preferred and admired in the world, but we neglect our own foods, which are full of nutrition and sustainable for everyone. It is because of Consumerism.

Owing to consumerism, Indians (and also people across the globe) are spending more on availing services and this is the reason India attracts more investment in the service sector than that in the manufacturing sector. For the sake of consumption, we are being fed on foreign apps, foreign games, foreign lifestyles. If we use so much of outside manufactured products, what would happen to our manufacturing sector? We cannot survive for long. If we stop using our own local products, it would be a threat to the livelihood of crores of Indians.  In this case, we can learn something from China. Only to fulfil its people’s desires, it started manufacturing the same products being manufactured by developed countries with very limited resources, and the interesting thing is that the prices of these products are very cheaper than those being manufactured in developed countries. By doing so, China not only stopped its people from doling out benefits to developed countries, but also benefited its own companies.

Of course, India is a democratic country and it follows some ethics, therefore, what India needs to do, in collaboration with global companies, it should manufacture sustainable products for Indians. Unless we work on manufacturing, investment in the service sector would be worthless. For, only the manufacturing sector can generate more employment opportunities, which, in turn, would also secure the service sector in future and increase people’s earning.

Having said that, it cannot be gainsaid that consumerism is posing a serious challenge to the Indian economy. It is also damaging India’s social fabric and diverse culture, which cares for everyone. If this continues, it will create a huge economic gap in Indian society. Therefore, to combat this threat, India will have to change the economic perception among people by promoting sustainable Indian products in the global market and within the country.

 

By Ravi Mishra

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