Culture and sustainable development

Culture is core foundation for the nature of a community on which is dependant the notion of sustainable development of society. Globally, the urge for sustainable development has been recognised due to the aftermaths of the lopsided development undertaken with either no concern or marginal concern for environment. Nature, of late, showed the adverse outcomes in the form of natural calamities due to the consistent implementation of actions or decisions devoid of any balance between environment and the so called development. There is strong need recognised among the world leaders for taking sustainable developmental decisions. Sustainable development means taking decisions for development and implementing them in a manner that the very “resources remain forever” on which the development is based. This approach is needed so that the next generations too have the resources for their life support. This is, in other words, about care for the common future of the progenies.
The most important feature of the concept of the sustainable development is that it relates to the present decisions or choices of the present generations. In order to make the decisions or choices for sustainable development, the pre-requisite in the decision making process is that the decision should be guided by the ethical values of a society.
Values of a society belong to the culture of the communities. Inherently, culture has its influence on the choices we make. Thus, we cannot ignore examining culture to know what values it carries. Working on the bases of one’s values of one’s culture may be detrimental if the values are not ethical. Ethical means the goodness that is appropriate for the humans, non-humans and their environment. To undo the subjectivity involved in the notion, ethics may be understood as actions or decisions or choices of conduct which create well being for all.
Values, however, mean only about the one’s preferred state of existence i.e. how a particular community or group prefer their existence for themselves in terms of their diverse ways of conduct or behaviour towards fellow humans, non-humans and the environment. So, culture is a broader term encompassing values which give particular features to those who belong to the culture. Culture gives expression to the various symbolic features adopted to carry out the values that guide for particular decisions in certain situations or contexts. Thus decision making process which becomes programmed in certain situation or contexts has in its core the cultural values inherited from the past generations.
Now coming to sustainable development again, it is not a form of development. This is a philosophy for development which focuses on the immense importance of taking decisions which are guided by the ethical values. The policy decision maker’s notion of ethical values is influenced by the culture he/she has been brought up in. Thus culture is central to the notion of sustainable development.
Therefore to understand the sustainable development there is a need to understand culture and the various forms of culture which have emerged over a period of time giving diversities in the behaviour of mankind for achieving the same basic goals in life. There is a need to know about how different cultures emerged. To carry on with the sustainable development for the overall good to the planet and its dwellers, there is need to therefore examine the core values of the cultures to know whether these are aligning with ethics. Ethics are virtuous or righteous approaches rendering harmony, peace, welfare and freedom for creativity for all irrespective of gender and irrespective of being human or non-human.
One’s culture may seem to be the most appropriate than “others” as the values are regularly positioned in mind as such by the fellows. Mass following of a culture creates only constructed social reality for the values being ethical. Construction of social reality should be natural but it is also done intentionally or by force to cherish the egos of belief being carrying superior cultural values than others. Since the world is now being felt as small like a family, though proclaimed already in vedic literature as “Vasudevam Katumbakam”, there is a need to share common thought i.e. the care for the future generation through care for the planet. This care can only be operationalized through sustainable means of development and for the sustainable development, there is a need to examine the core values of different cultures of the Global Big Family so that we may know about the detrimental values which may need to be either corrected or aligned or deleted to the present context of the planet for the overall welfare of humans, non-humans and their environment.