Ecology and Development in India

The history and socio-economic impact of development interventions on ecological systems.

To understand development in India, it is essential to appreciate how the ecology of the sub-continent has shaped and been shaped by human activity from colonial times onward. There is now sufficient accumulated evidence, at the global level as well as within the Indian subcontinent, that the broad bio-physical capacities and integrity of landscapes are becoming seriously undermined. It is also evident now that the consequences of deteriorating physical environments are disproportionately borne by poor and marginalized communities. What is required therefore is an approach that illustrates the complex and causal nature of relationships between the way we live and the environments that we produce.

This, broadly social-ecological’ approach to development, would enable students to acquire a conceptual framework that is truly interdisciplinary in nature, and contributes in developing their capacities to explain development in India as shaped by and shaping social-ecological systems/​landscapes.

This course aims to encourage students to critically reflect upon mainstream contemporary narratives of India’s development by focusing on illustrative sites of social-ecological conflicts across diverse biogeographic zones of the Indian subcontinent. Through this process the course allows students to explore a framing of sustainability from the Global South.