Lawyers must lead the way

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Business Law Journal, letter to the editor
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Dear Sir,

India’s economy is forging ahead with GDP growth of 9.4% this year and predictions are that in time it will match the output of China.

However, those of us familiar with the economic boom in China are concerned that India will follow the same path of “to make money is glorious” and ignore the fact that development that does not adhere to the principle of sustainability will bring to India similar scenes of environmental degradation that are now commonplace in China. Air pollution, the poisoning of rivers and lakes that are the main sources of drinking water, the common occurrences of toxins and pesticides in the food chain are some of the results of an economic boom without good business practices and social development.

Many stories come out of China about whistle blowers and environmental campaigners who are thrown in jail on trumped-up charges when they have revealed environmental disasters brought about by the corrupt practices of businessmen and officials who are above the law.

India, however, has a well established, free and vibrant legal system.This means that economic progress can be achieved through well planned programmes that ensure that regulations to protect the environment are followed while due respect is shown to the rights of local residents.

The future of India lies in the hands of your readers who must remind the management of the companies they work with or advise when expansion plans do not comply with best practices. They must not be afraid to object to proposals that involve smudging the issues, use “legalease” to confound members of the public and avoid the use of offshore shell companies to get around local regulations or to hide the true identity of interested parties. They must be ready to offer pro-bono services to members of the community who have well founded reasons to raise objections to particular projects.

The integrity of legal practitioners is essential to sustainable and social development in India. The members of the legal profession must be prepared to stand up and be counted to ensure that India’s progress will be a story of pride rather than a litany of environmental disasters.

Martin Brinkely
Hong Kong

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