Environmental Science India and the Environment
Sunayana Ganguly
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 January 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 21 January 2016
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199363445-0049


Environment as a concept is so overarching that each of the sub-topics could easily have its own bibliography. The range of topics and concerns that it articulates involves the interaction between man and nature, or in political terms development and sustainability. In India, this has played out in discourses attempting to follow the colonial tradition of centralizing control that come in conflict with more decentralized movements and processes. This is a common theme in the broader debates on environmental protection in India. The post-independence (1947) concerns in India were largely growth and equity. To this was added a third concern: sustainability. Serious engagement with environmental issues in India remained negligible until 1971, when reports were written on the state of India’s environment in preparation for a 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. The debates around resources and the environment in India have always centered on creating a development process that will integrate equity, growth, and sustainability. One finds that the contestations around the environment have played into many of the broad categories that create a holistic system that is integral to environmental sustainability in India.

General Overviews

Environment in India has been inextricably linked to questions of growth and equity, and there are many ways to approach the different dimensions of these questions. A good starting point is Balakrishnan 1998, which provides a good framework to broadly outline some of the major environmental problems in India. Two informative reads, each allowing for several perspectives, are Prasad 2008 and Rangarajan 2007. Both these works incorporate essays, which offer readers a multi-faceted view of environment issues in India. Khator 1991 offers a comprehensive view the process of environmental decision-making and implementation in India. The enormous social and environmental costs of India’s development are well captured by Shrivastava and Kothari 2012, while D’Souza 2012 links the cost of scientific technology to environment and development. For more contemporary coverage of environmental issues, the Center for Science and Environment monitors green practices, covers global environmental issues, and publishes the bi-weekly magazine, Down to Earth. In addition, the website India Together is an excellent independent resource to get different perspectives on policy developments and environmental issues in the country.

  • Balakrishnan, Mundanthra. 1998. Environmental problems and prospects in India. New Delhi: Oxford & IBH.

    A general text, relevant for undergraduate courses, that outlines the larger concerns of environmental problems in India.

  • Down to Earth.

    Monitors green practices, news, opinion, and blogs on environmental issues in South Asia.

  • D’Souza, Rohan, ed. 2012. Environment, technology and development: Critical and subversive essays. New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.

    This volume is very relevant for gauging public discourse on a varied range of issues on both technology and the state of the administration in India.

  • India Together.

    Features information on forests, energy, hazards, water, and urban issues.

  • Khator, Renu. 1991. Environment, politics and development in India. Lanham, MD: Univ. Press of America.

    This study provides an accessible and practical overview of the influence of politics and development on the environment agenda. It particularly pays attention to the institutional structure and functioning of the environmental bureaucracy.

  • Prasad, Archana, ed. 2008. Environment, development and society in contemporary India. New Delhi: Macmillan.

    This book provides basic readings on contemporary debates around environmental issues. Covering a wide range of sectors and resources, it discusses different perspectives, interventions and their impacts on society.

  • Rangarajan, Mahesh, ed. 2007. Environmental issues in India: A reader. New Delhi: Pearson Longman.

    This book, consisting of thirty-three essays from a range of domestic and global scholars and activists, discusses wide-ranging themes, which include developmental patterns, environmental movements, and the impact of globalization.

  • Shrivastava, Aseem, and Ashish Kothari. 2012. Churning the earth: The making of global India. New Delhi: Penguin.

    This book is a synthesis of social, economic, and environmental changes in India since the end of the 20th century.

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