ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Policy versus Pretence

Tackling Air Pollution in India

Air: Pollution, Climate Change and India’s Choice Between Policy and Pretence by Dean Spears, Noida: HarperCollins, 2019; pp x + 258, 250.


Air pollution was only beginning to get acknowledged as a public health crisis by the political class in India when COVID-19 redefined how a public health crisis is perceived for a generation. And now, either seeking to improve the “ease of doing business” or being unwilling to impose costs on poll­uters citing the economic crisis, there is a real risk that the Indian state may ­regress on its recent, tentative steps.

Air: Pollution, Climate Change and India’s Choice Between Policy and Pretence by Dean Spears is an instructive reading to navigate this moment. Two themes surface repeatedly in this book. First, Spears argues that the notion of a tradeoff between development and environment is vastly overstated, and especially when we consider the impacts of pollution exposure on early childhood development, the two converge. Second, he discusses how governments often engage in the pretence of appearing to be serious about environment, while doing little in practice to make substantive progress. Both these themes have impor­tant implications on sustaining progress on environmental outcomes in the ­coming years.

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Updated On : 17th Apr, 2021
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