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By : brainykey   May 2, 2018

Environmental Kuznets Curve


  • GS Prelims, GS Mains paper III
  • Environment, Environmental Kuznets Curve, Industrial growth


What is Environmental Kuznets Curve:

  • As per the Environmental Kuznets Curve, the environment of a country degrades in the initial stages of industrial growth.
  • After a certain level of economic growth, the society begins to improve its relationship with the environment and levels of environmental degradation reduces.
  • The pollution reduces with greater protection of the environment, technological improvements, diversification of the economy from manufacturing to services, and increasing scarcity and prices of environmental resources, leading to lower consumption.
  • However, the opponents criticize this model. It is not certain that after a certain level of economic growth, the relation of society with the environment will improve or not.
  • It can be understood with the following curve:

Figure: Environmental Kuznets Curve

Indian case:

  • In developmental countries like India, pollution is increasing beyond the carrying capacity of the environment.
  • Natural resources are being over-exploited and there is indiscriminate discharge of waste in the environment.
  • Presently, India is on the upper side of the EKC. In order to attain sustainable development, we have to move to the second stage of the curve.
  • India is on the upward part of the EKC. For achieving sustainable development, it must move to the second stage.

Why is this cause of concern?

  • India can’t ignore the environmental consequences of its rapid growth.
  • Over the last few decades, water-intensive and polluting industries such as textiles, leather, sugar and paper have shifted from developed to developing countries.
  • They withdraw huge quantities of water and discharge effluents without adequate treatment.
  • Before 1980, countries like the U.K. and the U.S. played a vital role in textile production and export.
  • But by 2000, their dominance had substantially reduced and the share of developing countries like India and China had increased.
  • One of the factors attributed to this shift is that there are relatively less stringent environmental policies in developing nations.
  • Countries like India are now manufacturing products which contribute to pollution for domestic and international markets.

What is the cost of pollution?

  • Health: At the household level, the economic loss on account of pollution includes the cost of treatment and wage loss during sickness.
  • Agriculture: Pollution impacts ecosystems and related economic activities like agriculture and livestock.
  • Climate change: Air pollution causes climate change. Hence, pollution leads to the real and potential loss of the overall development opportunity in an economy.
  • Vulnerable sections: Generally, pollution impacts the socially vulnerable and poor communities more due to their weak coping options.
  • When traditional drinking water sources get contaminated, the rich can buy packaged water.
  • But the poor cannot afford it and are hence compelled to use contaminated water. They are also less aware of the health hazards caused by pollution.
  • Remedial measures
  • The ‘polluters pay’ principle should be in force. For the most part, polluters are not willing to internalise the external and social costs.
  • Pollution is also neglected by funding agencies worldwide and by governments in budgets.
  • However, experiences from the U.S. and Europe reveal that pollution mitigation can yield large gains to human health and the economy.
  • There should be public awareness about its consequences, adequate pollution-linked databases, integration of pollution prevention policies into the development sector, strict enforcement of pollution control policies, eco-friendly inputs in production, reliance on renewable energy, introduction of market-based/economic instruments (charges/taxes/levies, tradable permits, subsidies and soft loans), and increase in ecosystem resilience through the conservation of biodiversity.


Terms Related To Biological Warfare (BW)


  • G.S. Paper 3



Agroterrorism, is the malicious use of plant or animal pathogens to cause devastating disease in the agricultural sector.


Anti-microbial Susceptibilities

It aims to identify whether bacterial etiology of concern is capable of expressing resistance to the anti-microbial agent that is a potential choice to develop a therapeutic agent. It includes methods that directly measure the activity of the anti-microbial agent against a bacterial isolate and directly detect the presence of a specific resistance mechanism.



A suspension of killed or attenuated bacteria for use as a vaccine.


Biological Agents

They are microorganisms such as viruses, bacteria or fungi that infect humans, livestock or crops and cause an incapacitating or fatal disease. Symptoms of illness do not appear immediately but only after a delay, or ‘incubation period’, that may last for days or weeks.


Biological Disasters

Biological disasters are scenarios involving disease, disability or death on a large scale among humans, animals and plants due to toxins or disease caused by live organisms or their products. Such disasters may be natural in the form of epidemics or pandemics of existing, emerging or reemerging diseases and pestilences or man-made by the intentional use of disease causing agents in Biological Warfare (BW) operations or incidents of Bioterrorism (BT).


Biological Diversity

The variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic

ecosystems and the ecological system.


Biological Laboratory

A facility within which microorganisms, their components or their derivatives are collected, handled and/or stored. Biological laboratories include clinical laboratories, diagnostic facilities, regional and national reference centres, public health laboratories, research centres (academic, pharmaceutical, environmental, etc.) and production facilities [manufacturers of vaccines, pharmaceuticals, large scale Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)] for human, veterinary and agricultural purposes.



It is the method of detection of biological agents based on properties like rapidity, reliability, sensitivity, and specificity so as to quickly diagnose the correct etiological agent from complex environmental samples before the spreading of illness on a large scale.



The probability or chance that a particular adverse event (in the context of this document: accidental infection or unauthorised access, loss, theft, misuse, diversion or intentional release), possibly leading to harm, will occur.



Laboratory biosafety describes the containment principles, technologies and practices that are implemented to prevent the unintentional exposure to pathogens and toxins, or their accidental release.



The protection of high consequence microbial agents and toxins, or critical relevant information, against theft or diversion by those who intend to pursue intentional misuse.


Bioterrorism (BT)

The intentional use of microorganisms, or toxins, derived from living organisms, to produce death or disease in humans, animals or plants.



Biological weapons include any organism or toxin found in nature that can be used to incapacitate, kill, or cause physical or economic harm. Biological weapons are characterised by low visibility, high potency, substantial accessibility and relatively easy delivery methods.



The administration of a chemical, including antibiotics, to prevent the development of an infection or the progression of an infection to active manifest disease, or to eliminate the carriage of a specific infectious agent to prevent transmission and disease in others.


Communicable Disease

An infectious condition that can be transmitted from one living person or animal to another through a variety of routes, according to the nature of the disease.



The outbreak of a disease affecting or tending to affect a disproportionately large number of individuals within a population, community, or region at the same time.




The branch of medicine concerned with the incidence and distribution of diseases and other factors relating to health.



Organisms whose cells are organised into complex structures enclosed within their respective membranes and have a defined nucleus, e.g., animals, plants, fungi, and protists.


Genetic Engineering

A process of inserting new genetic information into existing cells through modern molecular biology techniques in order to modify a specific organism for the purpose of changing one of its characteristics. This technology is used to alter the genetic material of living cells in order to make them capable of producing new substances or performing new functions.


Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Organisms whose genetic material has been altered using techniques generally known as recombinant Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) technology. Recombinant DNA technology is the ability to combine DNA molecules from different sources into one molecule in a test tube. GMOs are often not reproducible in nature, and the term generally does not cover organisms whose genetic composition has been altered by conventional cross-breeding or by ‘mutagenesis’ breeding, as these methods predate the discovery (in 1973) of recombinant DNA techniques.



Hybridoma are fused cells with continuous growth potential that have been engineered to produce as

a single antibody.



The process of inducing immunity against an infectious organism or agent in an individual or animal through vaccination.


Infectious Diseases

Diseases caused by microbes such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites in any organ of the body that can be passed to or among humans, animals and plants by several methods. Examples include viral illnesses, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), meningitis, whooping cough, pneumonia, Tuberculosis (TB), and histoplasmosis, etc.



A pandemic is an epidemic (an outbreak of an infectious disease) that spreads across a large region (for example, a continent), or even worldwide.



Microorganisms that can cause disease in other organisms or in humans, animals and plants. They may be bacteria, viruses or parasites.

Phyto-sanitary Measures

The measures to achieve an appropriate level of sanitation and phyto-sanitary protection to safeguard human, animal or plant life or health as per the laid down standards are called phyto-sanitary measures.



The group of microorganisms that do not have a cell nucleus or any other membrane bound organelles. They are divided into two domains—bacteria and archaea. They are mostly unicellular, except for a few which are multicellular.


Recombinant DNA Technology

Recombinant DNA is a form of artificial DNA that is engineered through the combination or insertion of one or more DNA strands, thereby combining DNA sequences that would not normally occur together. This is an exclusively engineered technological process of genetic modification using the enzymes restriction endonucleases.


Sentinel Surveillance

Surveillance based on selected population samples chosen to represent the relevant experience of particular groups. It is a monitoring method that employs a surrogate indicator for a public health problem, allowing estimation of the magnitude of the problem in the general population.



A toxoid is a bacterial toxin whose toxicity has been weakened or suppressed while other properties—typically immunogenicity, are maintained. Toxoids are used in vaccines as they induce an immune response to the original toxin or increase the response to another antigen.



The involuntary movement of an organism activated by an external stimulus wherein the organism is either attracted to or repelled from the outside stimulating influence. An example is heliotropism, the movement of plants, where they turn towards the sun.



The term is derived from the Latin word vacca which means cow, as the first vaccine against smallpox was derived from a cowpox lesion. It is a suspension of attenuated live or killed microorganisms (bacteria, viruses or rickettsiae), or fractions thereof, administered to induce immunity and thereby prevent infectious diseases.



A carrier, especially the animal or host, that carries the pathogen from one host to another, e.g., mosquito spreading malaria using a human as host.


Virulence refers to the degree of pathogenicity of a microbe, or in other words the relative ability of a microbe to cause disease. The word virulent, which is the adjective for virulence, is derived from the Latin word virulentus, which means ‘full of poison’.



Diseases that can be transmitted to people by animals and vice-versa

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