Publications & Resources

Our faculty, students and researchers work together everyday to contribute to a better world by grappling with urgent problems we are facing in India. We conduct rigorous work to produce high quality learning resources and publications to contribute to public discourse and social change. Here, we feature a sample from our work for everyone to access. You can explore featured resources, policies, and the latest publications from the University. 

To explore all the work of our University, please visit our publications repository.

  • MOL Newsletter Apr 22 2024 Earth Day Planet vs Plastics Coverpage PNG
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    Building on the success of the Forests of Life newsletters last year, and with the upcoming Mountains of Life festival scheduled in November 2024, we are excited to bring you a collection of mountain wonders through captivating stories, insights into challenges faced by the communities and calls for action. Additionally, we facilitate a platform for young voices to showcase their creative renditions, encouraging them to explore the various facets of the mountain ecosystems and the need for their conservation. With Planet vs Plastics” as the theme of this newsletter, we intend to raise awareness about the danger of plastic pollution in the mountains, advocate for the reduction of single-use plastics, acknowledge the efforts of some unsung heroes, and call for more sustainable alternatives.

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  • Article

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    Fifty years ago this week, Gaura Devi, an ordinary woman from a nondescript village in India, hugged a tree, using her body as a shield to stop the tree from being cut down. Little did she know that this simple act of defiance would be a seminal moment in the history of India and the world. Or that Reni village, where she lived, would come to be recognised as the fountainhead of the Chipko environmental movement. What the foot soldiers of Chipko wanted was an acknowledgement of their Indigenous rights to access forest resources that were crucial for their survival. What they got instead was a national law and a ministry populated by a new breed of power brokers — who, in the years to come, would decide at times that habitat preservation is possible only by keeping local communities out.

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  • Forest of life Oct 2023 Page 01
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    Forests of Life Newsletter is a monthly limited edition newsletter curated by Azim Premji University, offering glimpses of our upcoming mega festival, Forests of Life, which will be held at our Bengaluru campus from 02 to 24 November 2023. This month, we celebrate World Animal Day which is commemorated on 04 October every year to celebrate animal rights and their welfare with the collective aim to bring together people who are promoting the improved treatment and welfare of animals, both in the wild and on farms.

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  • Tree planting guide sep 2023 cover page
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    We stay in an apartment, and there is very little space around. What trees can we plant?”

    I live in an independent house, and we would like to have trees. But we are worried the roots will damage our walls and underground sump.”

    These are questions we have often been asked by residents of Bengaluru. What it tells us is that while there is an interest in planting trees, there are also concerns about what kind of trees are most suited owing to constraints of space and potential damage to infrastructure. 

    This guide is aimed at addressing some of these concerns. We have included 26 species of trees that can be grown in independent houses or apartment complexes in Bengaluru. We have included a basic description of each of the species, how to plant and care for the trees, the different kinds of uses and a fun fact or information nugget. The guide also contains information on installing root barriers to protect infrastructure from being damaged by tree roots. We have also included how diseased or damaged trees can be treated.

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  • Forests of Life September 2023 Newsletter page 0001
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    This is a monthly newsletter published by Azim Premji University, as a part of Forests of Life, a climate awareness festival celebrating forests — a quest and yatra of young people from across different parts to engage with the youth of this country. In this edition, we celebrate National Forest Martyrs Day which is commemorated on September 11 each year to pay tribute to those who sacrificed their lives to protect forests and wildlife. The day is aimed at creating awareness about protecting forests and the environment at large.

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  • Tracking workers across generations a cohort based analysis
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    Alongside rapid economic growth, India also saw steady de-agrarianisation of its economy in terms of contribution to GDP. In terms of employment, however, the movement out of agriculture was slower, and when they did exit, it was often a withdrawal from the workforce entirely. In general, more of the workforce are in salaried employment, however, these have filtered differently by gender, caste and religion. While cross-sectional data gives us a sense of how these structural changes affect workers at any given point in time, it cannot tell us how these play out for workers over their lifetime as well as how different generations or cohorts of workers have been affected. Here, we use seven rounds of nationally representative official data to construct cohorts who are tracked over these periods to observe employment participation and the patterns over time. We find that younger generations of women systematically less likely to be in paid employment whereas for men, after a certain age, generations look similar in terms of employment rate. Similarly, when examined from the perspective of cohorts, we find that access to salaried employment has changed by gender and caste, and increase in earnings over time over their lifecycle has slowed for certain groups.

    Author:

    • Rosa Abraham

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  • Forests Of Life August 2023 Newsletter Final 2 Page 1
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    This is a monthly newsletter published by Azim Premji University, as a part of Forests of Life, a climate awareness festival celebrating forests — a quest and yatra of young people from across different parts to engage with the youth of this country. In this edition, we celebrate International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, aiming to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population. We intend to pay respect to all the Indigenous people who have made significant contribution towards the preservation and transmission of traditional knowledge.

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  • Article

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    Urbanisation is one of the most transformative drivers of global environmental change today, with India representing one of the fastest urbanising countries. The researchers map the urban expansion of India’s ten largest cities from 2001 to 2016, through a regression tree classification of Landsat data in Google Earth Engine. Indian cities are growing through sprawl, and simultaneously densifying through in-filling. In Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, urban growth is multinucleated, aggregating to form a larger urban region. However, the dominant pattern in most cities is mono-nucleated growth via edge-expansion. The colonial signature is visible in many cities such as Bengaluru, where due to the British colonial practice of planting trees in the cantonment, the city interior has lower urban density at the core as compared to the periphery. Much of the urban growth between 2001 – 2016 is at the expense of agriculture and fallow areas. Across all cities, urban patches have expanded and coalesced into larger units. At the same time, there is an overall loss of surface water cover within cities. Urban growth has led to fragmentation of tree cover, agriculture/​fallow and water bodies. This paper demonstrates that India’s urbanisation is leading to severe impacts on water security (because of the loss of surface water), biodiversity (because of the fragmentation of tree cover and the conversion of agriculture and fallow lands to built-up urban cover), factors which if left unaddressed will severely impact the sustainability of Indian urbanisation.

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  • Forests Of Life July 2023 Newsletter Page 1
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    This is a monthly newsletter published by Azim Premji University, as a part of Forests of Life, a climate awareness festival celebrating forests — a quest and yatra of young people from across different parts to engage with the youth of this country. In this edition, we celebrate International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, aiming to raise awareness of the importance of mangrove ecosystems.

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  • June Cover Page Of Newsletter
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    This is a monthly newsletter published by Azim Premji University, as a part of Forests of Life, a climate awareness festival celebrating forests — a quest and yatra of young people from across different parts to engage with the youth of this country. The editions of this newsletter cover diverse aspects of forests — ecology, biodiversity, and climate change impacts; informative and unique titbits about forests, their resources, communities, and conservationists; national parks, wildlife sanctuaries; puzzles, quizzes, activity corners for children, and much more!

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  • Sustainability science springer vol18 2023
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    The social – ecological systems (SES) framework (Ostrom 2009, Science. 325(5939):419 – 22) typologically decomposes SES characteristics into nested, tiered constituent variables. Yet, aligning the framework’s concepts of resource system (RS) and resource unit (RU) with realities of individual case studies poses challenges if the underlying SES is not a single RS, but a mid to large-scale nested RS (NRS). Using a diagnostic approach, we describe NRSs — and the activities and networks of adjacent action situations (NAAS) containing them. An NRS includes the larger RS and multiple interlinked semi-autonomous subsidiary RSs, each of which support simultaneous, differently managed appropriation of individual RUs. We further identify NAASs operating within NRSs in two diverse empirical cases — networks of lake systems in Bengaluru, India and German wheat breeding systems — representing a lever towards understanding transformation of SESs into sustainable futures. This paper contributes towards unpacking and diagnosing complexities within mid to large-scale RSs and their governance. It provides a generalizable, rigorous approach to SES case study analyses, thereby advancing methods for synthesis in sustainability science.

    Cite this article: Unnikrishnan, H., Katharina Gerullis, M., Cox, M. et al. Unpacking dynamics of diverse nested resource systems through a diagnostic approach. Sustain Sci (2023). https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​7​/​s​1​1​6​2​5-022 – 01268‑y

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  • Lakes Reservoirs 2022 Issue Information Page 1
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    The present study analyses civic and community-based initiatives in conserving urban ecological commons in India, which have been increasingly polluted, encroached upon and degraded because of rapid land-use transformations. Bangalore, a city in south India, has one of the largest networks of manmade lakes, some of which are restored and managed by citizen groups, civil society, environmental activists and voluntary private bodies. The restoration process interfaces with urban policy making, shaping predominant management agendas in association with the State. Community initiatives in conserving the lakes are not only well-organised, but also play a crucial role in making city commons vibrant and integral nodes of cultural and social identification. However, the contemporary management system involving citizen groups in lake conservation is largely at odds with the tradition of community-managed lake systems previously existing in the city, which have eroded as the city became industrialised and increased in size and population, resulting in rapid landscape transformations. Against this background, the present study aims to illustrate that a seemingly representative community management of city ecologies is often embedded in an overwhelming political context. It also discusses the need for an urgent deconstruction to better understand how overtly flexible and dynamic restoration actions interact with inequality, power and conflicts. The results of the present study emphasise that the current participatory and community-driven initiatives of ecological restoration in Indian cities unfortunately accord limited significance to the overarching questions of social justice and relations of power.

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  • Book

    Chasing Soppu

    in Azim Premji University

    Chasing Soppu Cover
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    Bas saaru, Uppina saaru and massoppu are curries made of mixed greens, and are staples in the homes of Bengaluru residents. But these greens are not always bought in the market. They are also gathered from sidewalks, little strips of soil beside the road, drains, and around lakes. The act of gathering such edible plant species from private or public spaces in the city is called urban foraging, and it is a common practice across the globe.

    In Bengaluru, it is mainly middle-aged or older women from low-income backgrounds who forage. These women are vital knowledge holders and experts on the local wild plants around them. They know what parts of the plants are used for food, medicine, or cultural uses, and which is the best season to forage. They also have delicious recipes, of curries, chutneys, and pickles that have been passed down through the generations.

    Sadly, as the city has developed and urbanised, these foragers are losing access to the spaces where these greens were found. 

    Yet, so many people still forage for wild plants across the city. It is a dying art, one which needs to be repopularised.

    Chasing Soppu is a guide to wild edible plants of Bengaluru. In this book, we provide an introduction to 53 forageable species in the city. For each, we provide a guide for identification. We also share a collection of local recipes, shared by women foragers we spoke to, which can be used to cook these plants. In addition, we share some home remedies as well. 

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  • Chapter in a Book

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    This chapter discusses collective and multiactor interventions by local communities in Bengaluru, in conserving urban ecological commons — specifically, urban lakes — which provides a range of services to residents, as well as protecting the overall resilience of the city. Bengaluru, which once had an agrarian ecological landscape nourished by a large network of interconnected rainwater harvesting structures — tanks or lakes, has now grown to a megacity. Rapid urbanization has been accompanied by conversion of many of these lakes into other forms of land use, with a decline in the functioning of lakes and their surrounding reliant socio-ecological systems. With the import of piped water to the city since the early 20th century, lakes lost much of their perceived relevance for policymakers. Waste discharge and sewage eventually polluted most of the lakes and choked the overflow channels that connected lakes along a topographic gradient, reducing the flow of water. In recent years, spurred by a resurgent awareness of the importance of lakes, a growing number of civic and community efforts have resulted in lake restoration, in collaboration with the Government.

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  • Chapter in a Book

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    Cities are often seen as incubators for enterprise and innovation. However, in this urbanisation era, we seem to suffer from a lack of imagination on how to handle the many environmental problems associated with expanding cities. This is especially true in the case of the peri-urban interface (PUI), a geographical and conceptual landscape with which the city core often has a contentious relationship. In this chapter, we look at the complex linkages between water and waste in the PUIs of two metropolitan cities: Bengaluru and Kolkata. We look at two water systems: Kannuru lake in Bengaluru and Kolkata’s wetlands. Kannuru is a freshwater lake that supported traditional livelihoods and subsistence use by local communities, while Kolkata’s peri-urban wetlands not only served as the city’s natural sewage treatment plant but also enabled agriculture and aquaculture. Urbanization has adversely impacted both these water systems. Kannuru lake is threatened by a landfill on its periphery, while sewage-based farming and fisheries in Kolkata’s wetlands have been impacted by changes in land use and composition of sewage. We unravel the complexity in the waste-water relationship, where waste is seen as a pollutant in one and as a nutrient in the other. We attempt to understand how we can re-envision waste and water linkages in the PUIs of expanding cities if India needs to move towards a sustainable future.

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  • Pandemic informality and vulnerability
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    We analyze findings from a large-scale survey of around 5000 respondents across 12 states of India to study the impact of COVID-19 pandemic containment measures (lockdown) on employment, livelihoods, food security and access to relief measures. We find a massive increase in unemployment, an equally dramatic fall in earnings among informal workers, large increases in food insecurity, depletion of savings and patchy coverage of relief measures. Two-thirds of our respondents lost work. The few informal workers who were still employed during the lockdown experienced more than a fifty percent drop in their earnings. Even among regular wage workers, half received either no salary or reduced salary during the lockdown. Almost eighty percent of surveyed households experienced a reduction in their food intake and a similar percentage of urban households did not have enough money to pay next month’s rent. We also use a set of logistic regressions to identify how employment loss and food intake varies with individual and household level characteristics. We find that migrants and urban Muslims are significantly worse off with respect to employment and food security. Among employment categories, self-employed workers were more food secure. The Public Distribution System (PDS) system was seen to have the widest reach among social security measures. However, even under PDS, 16 percent of vulnerable urban households did not have access to government rations. Further, half of the respondents reported not receiving any cash transfers (state or central). We conclude that much more is needed in the way of direct fiscal support that has been announced thus far by state and central governments in India.

    Authors:

    • Surbhi Kesar
    • Rosa Abraham
    • Rahul Lahoti
    • Paaritosh Nath
    • Amit Basole

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  • Thomas Johny Labour Absorption May 2018
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      A striking feature of the Indian economy has been the relatively small contribution made by the manufacturing sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and, more importantly, to employment. In 2013, manufacturing accounted for only 16.5 per cent of India’s GDP, compared to 29.7 per cent of China’s.3 According to the National Sample Survey (NSS) on Employment and Unemployment, India’s manufacturing sector provided employment to 61.3 million in 2011-12, which was only 13 per cent of the country’s total workforce of 472.5 million in that year.

      Authors:

      • Jayan Jose Thomas
      • Chinju Johny

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    • Gunda thopes cover
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      India is rapidly urbanising, but our cities are facing an environmental crisis. Whenever there is any development, for building a road, a flyover or a metro, the first casualties are trees. This story is our attempt to communicate the work we have done on gunda thopes to a wider public, hoping to partner with them to protect the city’s environment. 

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