A report on human development released by the UNDP
squarely blames the increasing carbon emissions in the world for the
rising poverty and decreasing nutrition levels in India.
''What we know is that these shock effects such as droughts and floods can have long term impacts in human development because when people face droughts, they have to reduce their food intake, they have to take their children out of school and these can limit the perspectives later in life,'' said Ricardo Fuentes Nievea, Policy Specialist of United Nations Development Project.
''In India, women who were born during the droughts have had a lesser chance of primary schooling that any other population,'' he added.
Using various methods to determine the well-being of a country's development, the UNHRD ranked India 128th on its human development index, a drop of two rankings since last year. Bangladesh, though poorer, still ranks two places higher to India.
However, blaming India's falling human development standard on global warming is controversial.
India is ranked the 4th largest carbon emitter in the world, just behind the United States, Australia and China.
But India's per capita carbon emissions are a lot lower. The US's per capita figures are twenty times that of India.
This is an intense, political and economic game. Environmentalists warn the UN report should not be used by the West to pressurise developing countries into cutting carbon emissions.
''If you look at in cumulative basis, you will see rich countries whose stocks are still in atmosphere. This is the agreement we have with them, they will reduce their emissions so we can increase them. So please don't fall in the trap of the Western media who go on and on about the fact that India and China are to be blamed for climate change,'' said Sunita Narain, Director, Centre for Science and Environment.
The immediate effects of climate change can already be noticed in India. Wheat production is already in decline, for no other reason than climate change, say experts, leading to chronic hunger and malnutrition.
And for India's most vulnerable, such as these slum dwellers in New Delhi, climate change may not be the most visible threat to their present but it can become a greater danger to their future if left unchecked.
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