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Is ‘IT Services Hub’ of the World Becoming an ‘e-Junkyard’?

  • Economics
  • Law


India has earned itself the “reputation of an IT superpower” as the GDP (gross domestic product) growth currently is mainly driven by services sector and within services sector by IT (information technology) and ITES(information technology enabled services) sector. IT and ITES sector has not only given a brand identity to India as a knowledge economy but has been substantially contributing to increases in GDP, employment and exports. Besides, India’s hardware industry is also growing because of high growth rate of the economy, emergence of a vast domestic market catering to the gen next and thriving middle class populace with increasing disposable incomes, relatively low-cost work force having advanced technical skills and the technological changes, in deed. These factors have led to widespread use of computers and related hardware. Further, it is also expected that India will be one of the largest electronics markets in the world by 2012. In India, the use and obsolescence of electronics/ electronic goods is taking place at a rapid pace and giving rise to a new stream of waste called electronic waste. E-waste refers to the electrical and electronics products which has reached the end of their useful life and are ready for recycling or some other form of disposal. The problem has been assuming alarming proportion because not only, we are generating our own e-waste but also we are importing waste from developed countries for recycling. The illegal traffic of e-waste and non-prohibition of informal e-waste recycling processes through legislations is making India a dumping yard or e-junkyard. As per United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) study, the amount of e-waste being produced in developing countries could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in some countries, such as India .The use of unscientific methods and inappropriate processes for recycling of this waste in the unorganized sector of urban slums along with employment of women and children in the recycling yards exposes them to hazardous toxics, which are having serious implications for health and environment. Therefore, we raise the question in this paper: is IT services hub of the world becoming an e-junkyard? The paper provides the profile of e-waste in India from such aspects as domestic and imported e-waste along with the recycling system and regulatory mechanism. It also highlights briefly the global scenario and the best practices followed in other countries from which lessons can be drawn for India for disposal and management of e-waste. It emphasizes on the need for green initiatives’, multi-stakeholders initiatives along with legislative measures and other national management strategies to address this emerging challenge, lacking which the ‘IT services hub’ might become an ejunkyard.

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