Cultural Heritage Has a Lot to Teach Us About Climate Change

While cultural heritage sites are under threat from rising sea levels and melting permafrost, indigenous knowledge such as that of Assam’s Majuli communities can provide the key to unlocking adaptive climate change strategies. (Republished from The Conversation and The Wire) Museums, archaeological sites and historical buildings are rarely included in conversations about climate change, which tend to focus on the wider impact and global threats to our contemporary world. Yet these threats impact everything, from local cultural practices to iconic sites of outstanding universal value. In light of this, it’s worth exploring the relationship between our heritage and the changing […]

Environmental Bearings on Culture & Traditions

  Geography and its environmental makeup has had a profound effect on the people and their culture and tradition. Why is it that houses in some regions have flat roofs while others slant— why is it that certain regions specialize in cotton linen attires while others in thicker clothes— Why is it that in some cultures the dead bodies are buried while in others cremated— Is it only religious motive or does it go beyond that…. Culture most certainly leans heavily on environment. Be it topography, climate or raw materials— environment is decisive factor in the inception and structure of […]

ILR AND THE HIDDEN PRICE

The world in name of globalization and development is fast destroying the very environment it inhabits. With uncontrolled emissions, melting glaciers, frequent floods and hurricanes- climate change and societal damage are a very real threat. And yet the governments world over, despite signing landmark treaties, are either backtracking or giving catastrophic environmental clearances, such as Brazil allowing for mining in the world’s largest carbon Sink- the Amazon, thereby stimulating irreversible damage to local culture and endangered species. However, joining the league are other countries like the USA and now our very own India (with the ILR scheme). India’s ILR project […]

Environment and Society

We live in a world full of paradox- social ironies and economic enigmas. As discussed in my article Geopolitics of Environmental Issues, the regions where man first settled down, like the Fertile Crescent or the Indus Valley for instance, and initiated agriculture are today also the regions with greatest number of hungry people and range of other humanitarian crisis. Environment throughout history has been fundamental in shaping the society and the cultural practices. And yet today it has become the most vindictive antihero of the society. The challenge then lies in figuring out the balance between the anthropogenic and ecological practices. […]

Environmental Lessons from Ancient Indian Literature….

At the 18th India-Russia Annual Bilateral Summit, when questioned about India’s stance on environment conservation and climate change, the honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a very emphatic answer resonating with the views of millions of Indians. He cited ancient Indian wisdom on the protection of environment and how the 5000 year old legacy still forms the core of India’s social fabric and sustainable policies. It is indeed intriguing to note that the ancient Indian literature serve as vast reservoirs of knowledge related to everything environment. Whether it is about maintaining ecological balance, weather cycles or simply protecting Earth- Vedic […]

Placing Indigeneity in Environment & Development Paradigm

Indigenous people have often been treated as burden on the ecosystem, impediment to development and worst of all as tourist spectacle. However, it only takes an all-inclusive attitude to understand the integral role played by the Indigenous people in conserving the environment and providing alternate route towards sustainable development. Given the pace of the current development, it is vital to recognize these native people as natural partners. For this, one needs to understand the way they respond to ecological and development challenges and how their cultures and knowledge systems contribute to the sustainable development agenda. The UN System Task Team […]