Exploring the Environment in India: Issues in Sustainability


To be held from June 23rd to July 20th, 2019

This summer programme is a reworked version of a summer programme, “Approaching the Environment in India: Issues and Methods in the Study of the Nature-Economy-Society Interface”, that NCI successfully ran for over a decade in cooperation with Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) in Bangalore. To make the programme have more contemporary relevance, the contents of the previous programme were substantially reviewed and altered. The new programme continues to be located at ISEC, Banaglore and is coordinated by the Centre for Research in Urban Affairs.

Course Description and Material
  • Course name: Exploring the Environment in India: Issues in Sustainability
  • Educational institution: Centre for Research in Urban Affairs, Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore, India
  • Course credits: 7,5/10 ECTS
  • Language of instructions: English
  • Study period: June 23rd to July 20th, 2019
  • Rate of studies: Full time
  • Maximum number of students: 25
  • Admission: Master level course that requires 2 to 3 years of college or university studies with minimum grades equivalent to 3.0 GPA on a 4-point scale or grade C according to ECTS.

The course has three educational components:

  • Lectures: Three hour lectures in the morning five days a week. On demand a few additional lectures may be organized on topics of interest for students.
  • Field visits: There will be four to five field visits in the weekends or in the afternoon sessions during the first three weeks.
  • Student seminar presentations: 4 to 5 afternoon sessions during the fourth week.The teachers of the course are researchers from ISEC and invited lecturers from other prominent Indian research institutions and universities alongside practitioners in the field both governmental and non governmental.

The cost of the summer course is 110000 INR (currency converter). The amount covers all local costs, including the course fee, board and lodging at the Guest House, basic course material, shorter excursions, and the use of medical facilities and the library at ISEC. The cost does not include expenses for travels to and from Bangalore, visa fees, or medical and travel insurance, for which the students need to pay by themselves


Students apply to the summer course at ISEC by submitting an application to the International office at their university. The application should include the following documents:

  • A letter providing information about previous university studies, expectations and motivations for attending the course, as well as contact information.
  • A certificate of previous studies and a proof of the current registration at the university (a copy of the student card or any other documentation).
  • A CV or other related material to support the application.The admission procedure is conducted by nomination, i.e. after the International offices have received and reviewed the applications they will nominate students qualified for the summer course to the Nordic Centre in India (NCI). Based on the nominations, the NCI suggests students to be admitted and assists them further with the formal admission procedure. The final selection of students is made by ISEC. In case the number of nominees exceeds the maximum number of students who can participate in the course, the NCI and ISEC select students based on their qualifications and university affiliation. The students admitted to the course will be given a letter of admission from ISEC and can apply for study visa through the Indian embassy in their home country.

Upon successful completion of the summer course, the students receive a certificate from the Nordic Centre in India that can award them 7.5 ECTS at their respective home university. For students who wish pursue 10 ECTS it is also possible to do additional assignments during the same period of time. Since the course is designed to suit students from Nordic universities with European and national credit systems, students are requested to consult the International offices for information about how to translate and register the course credits at their home university.
International Grade Converter online
European Grade Converter online

About the Course

The primary aim of this programme is to equip students with the contextual knowledge to answer the question: “How does India manage its environment?” The course will primarily attempt to provide a historical overview of the policies and narratives surrounding environmental management in India, a summary of the current challenges, a glimpse of the possible options for the near future along with the approaches adopted in managing environment in India.  Besides, we have designed the course keeping in view Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to match the global agenda.  SDG’s aims to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is an ambitious, universal and holistic agenda. UNDP promotes an integrated approach that tackles the connected issues of multidimensional poverty, inequality and exclusion, and sustainability, while enhancing knowledge, skills and production technologies to enlarge peoples’ choices, reduce risks and sustain development gains.

UNDP aims to strengthen capacities and provide an enabling environment for access to opportunities focusing on the most vulnerable and excluded population groups – in ways that are sustainable from economic, social and environmental standpoints.  We, in the course, would like to see to what extent India is able to walk towards that goal.  As rightly mentioned all the 17 Goals are interrelated and in the process of achieving one of the goals will tackle the issues commonly associated with the other.  However, we have emphasized four goals in terms of priority for this Environment course, around which we will be inviting expertise to deliver lectures, while the other goals will be discussed as they cut across our prioritized goals for the course.  Since the other goals are interconnected, for instance, eradication of poverty is related to sustainable management of natural resources through sustainable consumption, education is related to responsible use of natural resources and so on.  The other SDG’s will be discussed in relation to the identified 4 prioritized goals in the course.

The key SDGs that will be in focus include (1) Sustainable Cities and Communities (2) Clean Water and Sanitation (3) Affordable and Clean Energy (4) Climate Action

Aims of the Course

By taking this course, students will get a better understanding of – what are the problems, challenges and complexities of environmental management in India; What have been the approaches and governance mechanisms in addressing these challenges; Why has there been unrest and reasons for protests, questioning governance, what are the gaps, issues and concerns; What are the innovative and best practices, role of civil society that has contributed to improving the quality of environment; How do we move towards bringing about the required change and what are the needs to bring about the transformations for sustainable societies, communities and environmental protection; What are the strategies and policies that help overcome the challenges to move towards an environmentally sustainable society.

By the end of the course, we expect students who have been diligent with the lectures and exercises to gain a deeper understanding of the environmental challenges, but even after you complete the course, you will have questions to ponder about such as what should be the out of the box solutions to address challenges of such magnitude, in particular, sheer scale, behaviour, governance, laws, etc and make you come back to India for future research.

Areas of Study

The course aims to cover the following areas of study:

  • Philosophical and indigenous underpinnings of traditional environmental management to more modern practices as in policy making and the increasing diverse management styles that have arisen in contemporary India
  • Evolution of modern environmental policy making, its critical analysis and the efficacy of environmental institutional safeguards
  • Gaps in environmental management with  special focus on the Green revolution and the effect it has had on the local ecology, water resources, and the interests of the small and marginal farmers and Failures in managing industrial pollution as witnessed with the Bhopal gas tragedy for instance
  • The conflictual nature of the debate on Environment versus Development as seen in India through the example of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, and examples of environmental state regulation adversely affecting disempowered groups like (women, tribals and Dalits)
  • India’s interaction with the world in terms of environmental management: India’s voice in the climate change debate and the interests that determine that voice
  • Environmental challenges in the process of urbanization with a focus on migration issues, peri urban challenges, mega cities, metropolitan cities and small towns. Challenges discussed will be in the context of provision of basic services, challenges of governance, role of technology, smart cities, crime, insecurity and violence
  • Innovative solutions from the bottom up with a focus on the activist role played by civil society and how this is bringing about change. Examples will include eco innovations, green entrepreneurs, green spaces

This course draws content from a variety of sources so as to elucidate comprehensive responses within the above mentioned themes. This will be primarily achieved through lectures from specialists in the field, specific reading material, and field visits so as to make coverage of the topics holistic.

Themes and Topics


Indian culture historically has been mindful of the environment giving god like attributes to nature. This module provides a temporal introduction to the same.

Environment Management in India – a temporal perspective
Towards Environmentally sound and pro-poor Development in India – Issues in the interface area of Nature, Society, Economy and Polity – A Gandhian Vision
Role of Social and Cultural factors in Environmental Sustainability
State of India’s environment problems and impacts – current scenario
Environment dealt by Kautilya’s Arthashastra
Environment movement as outlined in Varaha Mihira’s Brihat Samhita (9th Century) and Lokopakaram (10th Century) and in inscriptions


Environmental issues have been much debated in India by the State. The state has taken many initiatives in this direction. There are various Acts to protect the environment and ecology like Water pollution Control Act, the Air Pollution Control Act, and the Environment Protection Act etc. This module will discuss on these aspects and the challenges involved including de jure and de facto practices.

Environmental Governance in India – An overview (role of institutions)
Environmental Law, policies and Governance in India – An Overview
Environmental Law, Administration and Acts in India
Key challenges in Implementation and Execution


The emerging interdisciplinary field Urban Ecology understands how humans and ecological processes coexist in human dominated systems and thereby help society to be sustainable. This module introduces ecological challenges in growing cities. The field visits will help to identify the problems practically and the challenges involved.
A peek into emerging urbanization and India’s Urban Environmental Challenges (Field trip to ward 128)
Providing basic services – Waste Management in India – Status and Concern, problems in providing housing and shelter in Indian Cities, Alternate housing solutions – Ecological Architecture and Sustainable Cities – India’s experiences (Field trip to Green Buildings)
Negotiating public spaces in city contexts – a case of street vendors in Bengaluru (Field visit to Vijayanagar market)
Commute challenges and Transportation problems
Rising crime, violence and Insecurity in urban cities
Role of Technology and Smart cities


With a growing population and rising needs of a fast developing nation as well as the given indications of the impact of climate change, availability of utilizable water will be under further strain in future with the possibility of deepening water conflicts among different user groups. Water, sanitation is intrinsically linked to human and ecosystem health.  This module will introduce the participants to challenges of water resources management and sanitation that India encounters and policies to combat the same.

Challenges and Concerns in Water Resources Management in India – an overview
Urban Water supply challenges – (drinking water, quality of water, groundwater dependence, water markets)
Integrated Water Resources Management – Strategies and Methodologies
Sanitation Challenges in India – An overview
Sanitation concerns of the Urban poor – Case study from Bengaluru slums


Technological change is a vital component of the overall process of development. However, there are some instances where they have adversely affected the environment. It has differential impact on different groups of people. This topic helps us to understand the changes in and impact of technology in agriculture, industries, importance of natural resources with special focus on women in developing country like India. It also helps to understand the issues related to livelihood and rights to forests and natural resources.

 Green Revolution and its implications – local ecology, water resources and interests of small and marginal farmers
Industrial pollution on Environment – special emphasis on Bhopal Gas Tragedy
Natural Resource Management in India – the Gender dimensions


There are many bottlenecks in unleashing the full potential of India’s energy sector.  There is need for energy conservation, technological options for improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy technologies across end-user sectors. This module will help participations to get an overview of energy situation in India, policies towards renewable energy options and their promotion, financing green energy options.

Growing Energy Crisis in India
Promotion of Renewable energy options and its adaptation in India
Financing India’s Clean Energy Targets
Energy laws and policies in India


Climate change poses many ethical issues as it has impact on not only humans but also ecology in general. It results in threat of environmental displacement. In this context, this module helps us to understand how India has been coping up with this challenge, role of institutions in mitigating impacts, supported with case studies.

Climate Change Debates and Policies – Indian’s Stand on Climate Change
Climate Change in India: Challenges in Vulnerability and Adaptation
Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change in Indian Policy Planning
Mitigating Climate Change: Case Studies
Forest Management in India – Carbon credits and emissions
Agriculture Residue – Alternative Uses – A Case Study of Punjab


Achieving the SDGs requires the partnership of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens alike to make sure we leave a better planet for future generations. Environment is represented and renegotiated by different social actors. There are many unconventional environmental organisations, entrepreneurs, citizen forum etc that are actively finding out their own innovative way to sustain urban ecology. This module explains such initiatives and gives the participants an opportunity to interact with these groups.

Lake rejuvenation movement in cities – experiences from Bengaluru (Field visit to a rejuvenated lake and discussion with a civil society group)
Conflicts in managing Solid Waste – capturing peri urban protests and political dimensions
Eco innovations – some interesting cases
Green entrepreneurs – Visit to the ‘The green path’ Restaurant and ‘Sukrishi organic farm’
Greening Cities – terrace gardening initiatives (Field trip)

Field visits

The aim of the field visits would be to give the students firsthand knowledge of the topics covered in the classroom and also to interact with various stakeholders that are part of the larger environmental concerns being discussed.

The following field visits will be part of the programme:

  1. A walk around a ward at Bengaluru (A Ward is an administrative boundary of an urban area). Here students can see the residential areas, interact with people including residents, municipal workers, small business owners, etc., see a public park, visit a slum, watch the rituals performed in a temple, witness Peepal tree worship – part of the cultural tradition, visit a public school, a public health centre, understand how water supply works, get an idea of how solid waste/e-waste, biomedical waste, sewage is managed, etc.
  2. Visit to Green Buildings – Green Buildings are eco friendly buildings. Students will be able to interact with experts at the Green building Mr. Vishwanath, Mrs. Chitra Vishwanath and their team at their residence/ office who have designed the spaces meticulously to make it nature friendly. It is a living example of how they have evolved the efficiency standards and harvested solar energy, water, & materials reducing building impacts on human health & the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, & the complete building life cycle.
  3. Visit to a Market (Vijayanagar) place – A visit to a typical urban market will help students get an experience of how the local markets function and appear, and provide a glimpse of how negotiating public spaces is a matter of concern in shrinking urban spaces.
  4. Visit to Sukrishi Organic Farm and a village closeby–Sukrishi Farm in Nelamangala is spread across 40 acres of serene landscapes, a natural habitat for birds and animals with variety of trees, crops and herbs. Food grown in this farm are grown organically and served in their traditional restaurant that serves authentic Indian cuisine.  Students will also visit a village located close to the farm.Students will get to meet a green entrepreneur Mr. Jayaram who runs a restaurant ‘The Greenpath’ which serves organic food and millets besides promoting natural and simple living through various products in his organic stores.
  5. Visit to Terrace Gardens–Students will be visiting some of the terrace gardens that have become popular with the initiative taken by Dr. B.N. Vishwanath, President of Garden City Farmers. Terrace gardens have helped the environment and feed the family with the best organic produce, besides making use of wasted spaces of building roof tops and not adding to the burden of solid waste.
  6. Interaction with a Civil Society Group that rehabilitated a local lake– Students will be able to discuss with the civil society organization representatives about the problems encountered, challenges, constraints and the processes by which they were able to come together and organize themselves to achieve their goal in improving the quality of the lake.
Practical Information

Information regarding the University, your stay, and other practical matters can be found here and information on how to prepare for your programme can be found here.

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2019 Course Poster: Environmental Management in India


2018 Programme Schedule:  2018 AEI Programme Schedule

2018 Programme Reading List: 2018 AEI Reading List

ISEC Campus: Map to ISEC campus

Coordinator at ISEC

Prof. S. Manasi and Dr. Channamma Kambar
E-mail: manasi@isec.ac.inchanamma@isec.ac.in
Address: Centre for Research in Urban Affairs, Institute for Social and Economic Change, Nagarabhavi, 560 072 Bangalore, India.
Phone: +91-80-23215468

Coordinator at Nordic Centre in India

Christabel Royan
Email: christabel.royan@nordiccentreindia.com
Address: B2, Nizamuddin East, New Delhi 110 013, India
Phone: +91-9985146729