Presented by: Manesh Rangarajan, Professor of History and Dean of Academic Affairs, Ashoka University
Abstract: A quarter century since economic reform began, the issues of the environment loom large in Indian public life. Atmospheric pollution in large cities such as Delhi, the floods in Mumbai and Chennai, the continuing debates on large development projects and the issue of imperiled species, fragmented forests and loss of fertile agricultural land: these are but a small sample of live controversies. In an earlier era, impelled both by grass roots movements and middle class concern, ideas of ecological patriotism in the eminent domain and community control at another level, India saw major initiatives in the form of legislation, executive action and civic initiative. But as it seeks to be an emerging power, do alternative visions have less not more space ? Does the growth of mega cities put paid to programmes of local rural empowerment? What are the wider implications for Asia and the world of the ways in which India's democracy grapples with the ecological dilemma?