From The Editor’s Desk
Sustainability : the larger picture...
That Sustainability is the buzz word in almost every industry or activity seen globally is common knowledge. What is even more obvious is the fact that this is more pronounced than ever, and more seriously taken in our textile industry for a variety of reasons. Firstly, the fact that our industry is one of the most resource-intensive industries when it comes to consumption of energy, and more pertinently water. Secondly the fact that that it is also one of the most polluting industries today, and the scale of business and production makes its effect even more pronounced. Thirdly, the increased understanding of the effects in terms of toxicity to living life and environmental harm from chemical inputs has led to a greater awareness. Fourthly, there has been immense pressure from both government as well as nongovernment establishments for the industry to shape up or get booted out.
While all of these have, and hopefully, will continue to make for a better industry and ecosystem, somehow, an important concept or element seems to have slipped beneath the radar. The concept of the parallel growth of communities and people is not something that has been given due credence in the various discussions surrounding Sustainability. While certain tools and parameters have taken into account the working conditions of people and safety of employees, attention to communities, villages and the population in the vicinity of the textile producing units has not really made its way into the thought-process.
Unfortunately, the narrower scope of sustainability which encompasses human health and safety, environmental care, optimal use of natural resources and regulated usage of chemicals, seems to be a settled mindset of the larger class of industrialists and policy makers alike, and does not pay heed to the above. The ramifications of the same are not as visible, and this is perhaps the reason.
However, when we look at Sustainability in its totality, and also in its broadest definition of something that could continue forever, or as long as possible, social factors cannot be ignored. A lack of social unrest and social inequalities, the need for local employment and local rehabilitation (which is invariably an issue where the industry proliferates), and inclusive growth are currently an implicit need. Ignoring these could have serious repercussions on both the business and socio-economic fronts.
This is where both our industry and the government needs to include this aspect in its vision for Sustainable Development, and it is something that needs to go beyond legal mandating, and adopted as a part of the work culture of the industry, whether looked upon as CSR or simply empathy. Sustainability would then be a true representation of the spirit of the term, both in attitude and in reality.
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