Bioethics in India: Proceedings of the International Bioethics Workshop in Madras: Biomanagement of Biogeoresources, 16-19 Jan. 1997, University of Madras; Editors: Jayapaul Azariah, Hilda Azariah, & Darryl R.J. Macer, Copyright Eubios Ethics Institute 1997.
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95.Urbanisation and Environmental Sustainability - A case study in Madras, South India

R. Ramanibai
Department of Zoology, University of Madras, Chennai - 600 025


From an ecological point of view, the process of urbanization produces a variety of unprecedented and intense changes in environmental conditions such as disturbance regimes, landscapes structure, hydrology, water quality, biota, physiological stresses (e.g. pollution) and socio-economic factors. Urbanization can be defined in terms of increase in human habitation with an increase in per capita energy consumption and structural modifications of local environment. The important consequence is the development of an ecosystem that does not principally depend on natural resources to persist. Such environment, unprecedented in nature, affects the biological life of these ecosystem that may be unique. It may be of interest, therefore, to study these urbanized ecosystems and their impacts on its own inhabitants. In this paper we discuss the case study of Madras, a fast growing city in South Asia.
96. A Post-Rio Blunder! are the poor to be saved first or Germplasm

Felix A. Ryan
UN Development Consultant, 8 West Mada St., Srinagar Colony, Chennai - 600 015


Governments which are deeply interested in sciences and discoveries. Germplasm and genetic engineering, which is their bread, butter and land mark, don't want to allow the poor to harvest the God-given fish from their ponds and lakes fearing that their personal well-being and progress will be jeopardized. Their misconceived philosophy of sustainable development and the very justification for their existence in their organization for R & D will suffer and they will eventually lose their role as scientists. Plainly, scientists look only within themselves and their science and are not concerned with the poor man's plight. What does it matter to them if the poor remain poor and development is not sustainable? They are only interested in their science culture.
99. Bioethics and Planet Protection

Rolla S. Rao
Formerly Director of Botanical Survey of India &
Former Head, Dept. of Botany, Andhra University


We are eager to develop our country much better than our present condition. In general, scientists feel that their newer technologies and those being imported, if employed in proper way with good encouragement, will bring very good results in developing our economic, food, health security. But why we could not achieve better results during our post-Independence period in this country? Now for the last 3-4 years, the country is quite eager to import of technologies, export oriented multinationals, globalization and free trade and privatization of every thing including the scheme of "afforestation" by Industrial Houses.

Depletion of our natural resources is going on at a very fast rate. Soil and vegetation cover, species diversity and some important economic and medicinal plants are in state of concern. The basic cause is rapid increase in population of man and his live-stock, bringing about obvious increase in demands, resulting into depletion of resources, pollution of air, water, soil and noise due to free economy, rapid industrialization and transport.

While presenting a holistic approach in understanding structure and functions of Nature, dividing "Whole Environment" into three components namely, 1. Physical sub-environment, 2. Biological sub-environment and 3. Socio-Cultural sub-environment and their complete integrated nature are explained briefly in the paper.

With the know-how we have for the physical and biological aspects of environment, the biggest hurdle is our socio-cultural sub-environment comprising cultural heritage, social customs, religion, economic status, level of education, politics and crime. As we begin to understand the planet we inhabit, we face some rather perplexing if not frightening, scenarios heading into 21st century. How can we sustain a population that will possibly double the next 40 years and thus require 4 times the food calories and 8 times energy and income levels needed today?

Such impact of humanity on Earth's life support system is not just determined by the number of people alive on the planet. It also depends on "HOW PEOPLE BEHAVE". This is the Dilemma of the Environmental Scientists!


100. Bio-concept of Tamils

J. Ramachandran
Professor of Applied Mechanics, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai - 600 087


Tamil is the oldest language of the Indian subcontinent. The Tamil civilization is perhaps the oldest and hence one may be interested to know the early Tamil concept of life - humans, plants and animals. It may be worth to note that among the world literature - in whatever language - Tamil literature has the unique distinction of being down to earth. There is no place for improbable things like a person having ten heads or a monkey talking in human language to mention a few. They have concern over everything that surrounds them. The oldest literary piece namely the Tholkappiyam give ample evidence to prove the bio-concept of early Tamils. The evolution of life is vividly expressed that is acknowledged by researchers today. This will be explained fully in the paper.

The rulers of yesteryears were exemplary in many things and among them the way they respected plants and animals are quite noteworthy. To mention a few: The king Pari while traveling found a jasmine creeper wavering without anything to climb. He placed his chariot nearby for jasmine to climb and walked to his place! He is praised as "mullaikku thaer koduththa" Pari in literature.

Another Chola king Sibi give his flesh - cut from his thigh - just to save a dove from the hunter who wanted it for his food.

Tamilians mixed with the plants and animals friendly and did everything to protect and preserve them. Most of the plants and animals are attached to one god or other so that the general public may not misuse them. For example the animal elephant and the plants Kadampu (Anthocephalus cadamba) and Vengai (Pterocarpus marsupium) are attached to Lord Murugan. Such animals and plants are preserved in the temples as thala virutcham.

The paper will describe in detail and fully the biological and ecological concepts of Tamils.


101. Sustainability Vs Survival: Dilemmas for the indigenous people of India

P.J. Sanjeeva Raj
Centre for Research on New International Economic order, Chennai - 600 006


Sustainability is being advocated as the guiding principle of all development today. However, sustainability is shown in this paper as a prerogative of the developed North alone, whereas development and survival are the priorities for the poor of the South. Indigenous people of the South, in particular, are the victims of both development as well as of the implications of sustainability. Development within India unfortunately, has been biased to help only the local rich and the government, all at the expense of the indigenous people.

Three major categories of indigenous people of India, namely, forest tribals, coastal artisan fisherfolk and agricultural labourers (dalits) are analyzed eco--politically, for their ethical dilemmas between sustainable use of resources and struggles for survival. Forest development programs like afforestation in reserve forests, social forestry, joint forest management and joint protected area management are examined against the survival security of the indigenous forest dwellers. Developmental strategies like seafood exports from India to earn foreign exchange, mechanized bottom-trawling, aquaculture and joint fishing ventures, all to boost up such seafood exports, and their impact on the survival struggles of the coastal artisanal fisherfolk are discussed. Finally, the dilemmas of agricultural labourers (dalits) in relation to the land tenure and water use policies and developmental encroachments onto the village commons, shrinking the livelihood security and human dignity of dalits are analyzed. Recommendations for policy, administrative and attitudinal changes within the country, and also at the international level are made herein, so far as the policy and attitudinal changes of the North towards the South are concerned, so as to keep in mind the priority to safeguard the environmental, livelihood and human right securities of the indigenous people of the South.


Please send comments to Email < Macer@biol.tsukuba.ac.jp >.

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