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BW Businessworld

"I've Been Working On Environmental Issues"

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Why this book? And why should a reader pick up this book?
Economic globalisation has had profound effects on India's social, political, economic, and ecological being, and it impacts all of us. While there has been much coverage about the 'shining' part of India's leap into the 21st century, not much attention has been paid to the dark side: continuing poverty, the increasing dispossession of people from their lands and resources, the snatching away of opportunities for healthy living  for hundreds of millions of people in this and future generations. As affected people, and/or as people who should be aware of what is happening and how we are part of it, we should be reading it.

What does the book mean to you?
For over 30 years I have been working on environmental issues, and in particular the conflicts and complementarities between 'development' and environment (and people's livelihoods based on a healthy environment). This book is one culmination of this work, putting together a comprehensive view of what globalised 'development' has done to India, and presenting the outlines of alternative ways of achieving human well-being.

How difficult was it to put the book together?
It took quite a lot of background research, and bringing together 3 decades of learning, to put this book together. It was also challenging because we set ourselves the task of not only critiquing what is going wrong, but also pointing to what and how things could go right.

When and where do you write?
At home, in office, while travelling….there is no set pattern. It depends on when I feel inspired and the writing flows…

Where all did this book take you?
For the alternatives section in particular, I travelled to several sites in India where communities are trying out ecologically sensitive, more equitable ways of living: agriculture, rural development, livelihoods, and so on. And to sites where people are resisting destructive development. Not all this travel was only for the book, it was also part of my regular work and passion.

Can you suggest another title to this book? Also give us a new blurb!
One title we initially thought of was 'Reclaiming India: Escaping the Globalisation Trap'.

What's your energy drink?
Nimbu paani.

What makes a book a really good read or a bestseller?
When its direct (not convoluted), honest and written from the heart.

What are you reading now?
Crime thrillers and Mukul Sharma's Green and Saffron.

So, what's next?
I am now working on more in-depth exploration of the Radical Ecological Democracy framework that I started working on a few years back, and which Aseem (Shrivastava) and I have developed a bit in the book. I intend to go  to many more such initiatives in India,  write about them, and help them come together for mutual learning and synergies. 

(Compiled by Jinoy Jose P.)