Greedy little worlds: Need to reconsider ‘responsible consumerism’

The “greedy little world” that Shania Twain alludes to in her superhit single is not something which we can unfortunately hum along and forget about. The World Environment Day, celebrated globally on June 5, passed by with nothing much happening in India, except the usual call for planting more trees. An interesting comment, however, was made by Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, who bringing in the theme of this year’s global events (‘Seven billion dreams. One planet. Consume with care.’), called for “a culture of responsible consumerism”.
Given that revisiting the past glories (imagined and real) of India is in vogue, it may be worthwhile to recall that the pursuit of ‘the good life’ through practice of renunciation of material goods- Vairāgyara (loosely translated as detachment towards worldly possessions) – and respect for all forms of life (with animism surviving even in mainstream religion) has a strong lineage in several socio-religious-cultural traditions of the subcontinent. Invoking these cultures of sharing, community living and responsibility towards all living creatures rather than a watered down Western ideal when giving a broad brush theme for environmental conservation, could then be more useful.

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