With scarce and erratic rainfall, and frequent droughts in the region, a pastoralist community of Rajasthan, Raikas follow the practice of moving their flocks and herds in search of water and forage.

Environmental situation Natural resources under pressure

India's rapid economic development, its huge consumption of raw materials and its high population density are placing an ever greater strain on the environment. India is the world's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.

The air quality in many of the country's conurbations is very poor indeed. The country's waterways are heavily polluted; and in many parts of the country there are no proper systems of waste disposal or wastewater management. Large swathes of India's forests are damaged, and the groundwater table is falling dramatically.

A government target stipulates that one third of country's surface area is to be covered by forests. However, according to the 2019 Forest Report, actual coverage is only around 22 per cent. And, of that area, only about 12 per cent is actually covered by what is described as “fairly dense” or “very dense” forest.

Climate change

Increasing soil degradation and the considerable impacts of climate change bring potential for conflict. According to government figures, more than half of India's land surface is affected by desertification or soil degradation. Existing model calculations for global climate change forecast dramatic fluctuations in temperatures and precipitation on the Indian subcontinent.

Although India does have modern environmental legislation, these laws are often not enforced because there is a lack of clearly defined responsibilities and financial resources as well as technical competence at the local level. Whether India manages to turn its economic growth into “green growth” will have a considerable impact on the country's sustainable development and on the global climate.