Development and Change in India: Workshop at Essex, 26th June 2013

Schoolboy in Ahmednagar district, India. Photo: Zareen P. Bharucha

The great Indian Growth Story is one of the most exciting of our times.  Socioeconomic change is altering the lives of 1.2 billion people. For communities who farm, fish, hunt or forage for a living, development brings poverty-alleviation, but also displacement, vulnerability, violence and loss. How do communities adapt and navigate the complex terrain of ‘development-induced change’?  To address these issues, the Essex Sustainability Institute is collaborating with researchers from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi on a series of research workshops. We invite you to take part in this exciting new collaboration, and bring your expertise to bear on the new research questions which will present themselves! Papers will be followed by round-table discussion and the event will be followed by dinner, courtesy of the Essex Sustainability Institute.

The event is free, but places are limited. Registration is required for both the event and dinner thereafter. To register, click here. For further information, please email: zpbhar@essex.ac.uk 

Facilitators: Prof. Steffen Boehm and Dr. Zareen P. Bharucha

Speakers:  

Prof. Amita Singh, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University.Assessing development through the Ecosystem Well-being Index.This paper suggests that unless development policy is directed around the conservation and protection of ecosystems rather than protecting a few selected species,or diverting huge land areas into infrastructural projects , progress may neither be sustainable nor peaceful. Measures of progress towards development play an important role in measuring what counts as development and how much progress is being made. The Ecosystem Well-being Index (EWI) is a relevant and culturally-acceptable mode of evaluating progress towards development.  To explain its relevance, the paper analyzes land acquisition processes in India.

Prof. Sachidanand Sinha, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Development and Displacement of Land-based communities: The tribal population of Central India.

Projects such as mining, the constrution of new townships, urbanization and the development of major infrastructure projects has led to massive land acquisition during the last two decades in India. This paper will examine the magnitude of displacements of the agrarian populations in general and tribes in particular. It will examine the processes of land acquisition of the forest-based communities in Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and the consequences it may have with respect to their livelihoods and survival.

Prof. Fiona Marshall, Science, Technology & Policy Research Unit and STEPS Centre, University of Sussex
Living on the edge: Perspectives on Sustainability in Peri-Urban India. 
As BRICS countries forge new development pathways, the pace and nature of growth in peri-urban spaces is unprecedented. Rapid urbanisation and industrialisation inevitably brings pro-poor benefits, generating jobs and resources that contribute to overall well-being. However the benefits remain very unevenly distributed and many of the costs to the environment and to human well-being remain little understood and under reported. This paper discusses a series of interdisciplinary research and policy engagement initiatives in India, which explored these issues. We have examined how a failure to address these apparently transitory issues results in a plethora of missed opportunities to benefit from rural-urban synergies, for example in waste management and provision of affordable and nutritious fresh food produce. Crucially, there is much to be learnt from peri-urban communities about adaptation in rapidly changing environments, which rarely contributes to the formal policy and planning making processes. Through empirical case studies we are currently exploring possibilities for a more positive relationship between the city and its periphery.

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The roles and values of wild foods in agricultural systems

Abstract: Almost every ecosystem has been amended so that plants and animals can be used as food, fibre, fodder, medicines, traps and weapons. Historically, wild plants and animals were sole dietary components for hunter–gatherer and forager cultures. Today, they remain key to many agricultural communities. The mean use of wild foods by agricultural and forager communities in 22 countries of Asia and Africa (36 studies) is 90–100 species per location. Aggregate country estimates can reach 300–800 species (e.g. India, Ethiopia, Kenya). The mean use of wild species is 120 per community for indigenous communities in both industrialized and developing countries. Many of these wild foods are actively managed, suggesting there is a false dichotomy around ideas of the agricultural and the wild: hunter–gatherers and foragers farm and manage their environments, and cultivators use many wild plants and animals. Yet, provision of and access to these sources of food may be declining as natural habitats come under increasing pressure from development, conservation-exclusions and agricultural expansion. Despite their value, wild foods are excluded from official statistics on economic values of natural resources. It is clear that wild plants and animals continue to form a significant proportion of the global food basket, and while a variety of social and ecological drivers are acting to reduce wild food use, their importance may be set to grow as pressures on agricultural productivity increase.

Citation: Bharucha, Z. and Pretty, J. 2010. The roles and values of wild foods in agricultural systems. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (B). 365(1554): 2913-2926

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