24 November 2007 The Hindu

Minister calls for balanced development

UNESCO THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Minister for Education M.A. Baby has stressed the need to reorient the development priorities of the State to ensure that the compulsions of economic growth do not lead to irreversible damage of the natural environment.

He was delivering the inaugural address at a workshop on eco-informatics, organised by the Indian Institute of Information Technology and Management- Kerala (IIITM-K), here on Friday.

Mr. Baby said the rich biodiversity of the State called for a balanced approach to development, focussing on sustainable exploitation.

He said history offered insights into how the progress made by mankind had led to unsustainable exploitation of nature. “Productivity and profitability are key words in the development process. But when profit assumes more importance than people and nature, it becomes unsustainable. It is akin to cutting the branch on which mankind is sitting.”

Mr. Baby said the reckless plunder of natural resources would deprive future generations of valuable resources and cause irreversible damage to the environment. “Imperialist forces seeking to consolidate power are largely responsible for the reckless assault on the environment. The effort to make the energy consumption pattern in the West as the global standard is part of their agenda to subjugate developing nations,” he said.

K.R. Srivathsan, director of the IIITM-K; C.S.P. Iyer, faculty member; T.V. Ramachandran of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and K.N. Harilal, member of the Planning Board, also addressed the meeting.

Outlining the concept of eco-informatics, Dr. Iyer said it involved a synergy between informatics and computational science on the one hand and environmental science and ecology on the other. “By filling the knowledge gaps in describing and understanding ecological processes, it is expected to give a boost to conservation efforts and help economic and scientific planning for a biologically-rich state like Kerala.”

Experts who participated in the deliberations highlighted the need for a computational approach to research and studies on natural sciences. Mr. Iyer said a working group in ecological informatics would be set up to promote the concept. Over 200 academics, engineers, administrators, researchers and students attended the workshop.