Noise Pollution in India
by Spencer B. Johnston
Although noise pollution is a growing concern to all global dwellers, it’s perhaps a particularly pertinent issue to the people of India. It’s there, that a population of 1.2 billion3 can’t help but contribute to the country’s growing plague of noise pollution. Even the few who are advocates against excessive and unnecessary noise are guilty of making sound waves of their own. This is the current paradox of the Indian people submerged in a sea of sound. Ironically, the vibrations of contemporary India are a far cry from the delicate mantras of Hinduism’s Brahma or World Soul. The Aum is meant to entomb harmony and balance through a meshing of all things. Not surprising, the uncompromising dissonance of our own inventions disrupts the very balance of life’s natural vibrations.
Noise pollution has somehow become the neo world soul of India. Perhaps, a sound or multiple sounds to be relished rather than be down upon. But, human health, wildlife and nature in general disagree. Distaste for noise is something that people of all walks of life share. In a recent survey, I discovered that 21 out of 23 of my classmates find noise to be bothersome4. India’s population is familiar with the concept of noise pollution and its many adverse effects. Alongside health problems such as insomnia, attention deficit disorder, and hearing loss, noise pollution is also a great source of environmental disturbance. Wildlife and natural, native habitat and scenery are increasingly lost, which in turn fuels further deforestation as a result of it being of less quality in terms of land equity.
India is getting smaller every year5. In fact, the Indian plate as it is referred to, is actually decreasing in size by nearly 2 inches per year as it merges with the northern Eurasian plate. Obviously, a population that experiences such rapid growth, yet is dwindling in terms of land area would begin to show inevitable signs of wear and tear. To the surprise of many scholars and researchers, the adverse effects of noise pollution have emerged as a first of perhaps many problems the country of India will face as a result of “overpopulation”6.
Aside from overpopulation, the causes of India’s noise pollution problems are widely varying and often, quite easily overlooked when isolated. Car alarms, street vendors, musicians, produce trucks, boiling pots, zippy mopeds and crying babies are just a few of the sounds that fill the air on a typical, urban afternoon in New Dehli. The capital of India, the city is home to roughly fourteen million people, which is nearly the size of the state of Florida alone in terms of population.
Naturally, being exposed to noise pollution for prolonged periods of time has been known to bring about many health problems. On the forefront of noise-related health problems is insomnia, stress, decreased productivity, and of course, hearing loss or impairment.
Indians are nearly 4 times as likely to suffer from bouts of insomnia than Americans1. The correlation between health and noise are quite obvious to the large number of people living in India’s largest cities. Many Indians living in urban areas are largely living in states of uncontrollable chaos and high concentrations of noise pollution. It is here that the population experiences the adverse effects of noise pollution firsthand.
Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only ones feeling the negative effects of noise pollution. Noise from urban and industrial development eventually drives precious wildlife species from their natural habitats, increasing endangerment and even extinction. In fact, it may be happening faster than we know. “Animals communicate in a similar way to humans—by vocalizing”7. Unfortunately, without proper communicatory ability due to noise, chances of survival for much wildlife in India are drowning in a sea of seemingly meaningless sound.
Like the rest of the world, it may be initially difficult for the Indian people to understand the importance of wildlife conservation and the like. However, the cyclical nature of India’s soul and prosperity may be at risk as well. The outcome of noise pollution’s effect on wildlife and nature may be less detectable, because it is to be experienced second-hand and without a doubt, after a great trickling has taken place. Urban noise, wildlife, nature, tourism, health and economy are all part of a cyclical nature contemplated by Brahmin of Hinduism.
Current efforts and studies show that urban planners in India’s major metropolitan cities could benefit greatly by looking at molds formed by fellow national titans of ingenuity. In England, for example, city planners and dwellers alike have collectively turned their urban woes into smiles and joy. They’ve done this through a series of what is referred to as “green spaces”8. It’s here that citizens “connected to nature, even unconsciously, can make life worth living”8! Conceptually, England’s isolated efforts and implementation of “green spaces”8 serve as a highly effective tool in combatting urban noise pollution.
India is a vibrant land that offers much to any willing student. The growing population there is truly an intricate part of this great society. Unfortunately, the need for technological advancement and sheer ingenuity has superseded the need for existential harmony. Ironically, it is the very nature of the Indian population that drives the neo-Aum of Today’s Industry in India. The spirit of the Indian people is a strong one. Their achievements have long been an example of greatness to their global peers. For now, it is up to further research and human ingenuity in India’s next great frontier: noise pollution.
1. cover photo of boy and white noise machine courtesy of http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/4/2010/01/white04.jpg
2. cover photo of traffic jam courtesy of
3. India. World Bank. November 28th, 2010. http://data.worldbank.org/country/india
4. Audience Analysis on “Lawn Care vs. The Environment”, by Spencer Johnston, SPC 1608, Valencia Community College, Fall 2010.
5. ESC 1000, Professor Mary Beck, Geology Department, Valencia Community College, summer 2010.
6. “India”, by Professor Uday Murthy. Department of Information Sciences, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. http://www.cs.iupui.edu/~umurthy/India/people.html
7. Sheryl De Vore. “Noise Affects Wildlife Profoundly, Too”. Copyright 2004, Cary Grove Countryside, Pioneer Press.
8. England’s Green Spaces Organization, 2010.
Other Acknowledgement of Area of Study:
“Noise”. A feature film starring Tim Robbins, 2007.