Cutting Consumption to Save the Planet

In Mumbai on Sept. 22, 2011, Chandran Nair argues that a Western model of consumption-led economic growth can't be replicated in Asia. (4 min., 11 sec.)

MUMBAI, September 22, 2011 — The Western model of consumption-led economic growth can't be replicated in Asia, and at a time when resource constraints are only too apparent, economic policy needs to be realigned to avoid the catastrophic outcomes likely to result from the relentless promotion of a consumption-led growth model in Asia.

This was the argument made by Chandran Nair, author of Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet, at the Asia Society India Centre programme "Reconstructing the Global Economic Order: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism for Sustainable Development." Nair was joined in conversation by Rama Bijapurkar, an expert on market strategy and consumer-related issues in India.

Nair said that there is much dishonesty and denial prevalent about the scale of the problem we are facing. Given the planet’s limited resources, current population growth and consumption trends, if continued, will likely prove disastrous. Goods are drastically underpriced today, allowing levels of consumption to increase exponentially. Thus, we need a strong state to impose restrictions on consumption. Democracies with four- to five-year election cycles are inadequate to this task, he argued, as they provide political leaders incentives to make short-term decisions at the cost of long-term welfare.

Watch the video excerpt, above, for highlights from Nair's discussion.

Presented in partnership with World Trade Centre Mumbai and the All India Association of Industries