Consumerism Culture and Environmentalism in Contemporary India

by Mahmudul Hasan Laskar

The city of Guwahati along the bank of river Brahmaputra

Photo: Udayan Borthakur

Science and technology can be saviour for the mankind and can act as solution to many of our problems. This being said, there has to be a critical analysis of the situation and the same being presented before the scientific community to reform the underlying tendency of capitalism exerting unsustainable pressure on nature and environment. Sociologist like Ulrich Beck of Germany through his “Risk Society” theory made an attempt to critically analyze the unwanted and uncontrolled speed of science and technology and its adverse impact upon nature and environment. He has played very important role in making policy of dealing with climate change in Germany. So, duty of sociologist is to interpret the actual situation and draw the attention of scientific community for technological reformation. I as environmental sociologist have tried to critically analyze an important issue that formed the title of the article.

Consumerism culture of capitalism is gradually taking away the tradition of nature-nurture through indigenous methods. Consumerism has engaged everyone in competition for material prosperity and investment on lavish lifestyle. Urban middle classes and wealthy sections under the influence of capitalism are more concerned about meeting the luxurious needs that are often fulfilled at the cost of nature. For example, wetland around Guwahati city has been occupied for conversion to large housing apartments and other infrastructure. This geographical expansion is nothing but a consumption trend among middle classes and wealthy sections. It no way implicates the inclusive development, rather emerged as one of the reason of flood situation and flash flood is Guwahati city. Countries like Norway, Sweden, and Finland are in top rank of human development index and these countries marked great example of mutual co-existence between human and nature. But here, cities are flourishing at the cost of rural under-development and exploitation of nature and poor rural migrants.

Deeper Beel, a large wetland in Guwahati r