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Book Talks @ WRI Engage | Uncivil City: Ecology, Equity and the Commons in Delhi

WRI Book Talks engages with timely and compelling new books, and discusses their implications for policy and action.

Please join us for a discussion between Dr Amita Baviskar, author of Uncivil City: Ecology, Equity and the Commons in Delhi, and Dr Shahana Chattaraj and Dr Madhu Verma from WRI India, followed by an audience Q&A.

Watch the full event here

As India urbanizes in an era of climate change and environmental crises, safeguarding cities’ ecological capacity to sustain lives and futures is paramount. In Uncivil City, Dr Baviskar explores the contradictions between city planning, governance and environmental discourse in Delhi, and questions of ecology and justice. She looks at two decades of environmental politics in Delhi—across homes and workplaces, ordinary streets and extraordinary spectacles, the river and the Ridge. She argues the terms of environmental discourse—what is an environmental issue, who is authorised to speak in the public interest, and which modes of action count as legitimate—are partial, particularistic and perverse, contributing to creating a city increasingly unfair and unliveable. Linking urban ecological survival to questions of equity and democratic citizenship, Dr Baviskar proposes that only citizenship and civility will save the commons—air, water, space and trees—upon which cities depend for survival.

Dr Verma's conversation with Dr Baviskar will explore the following questions:

  • How can we remake urban environmental and planning discourse and practice to centre ecology and equity?
  • Can we, and should we, put a ‘value’ on the urban commons?
  • What are the prospects for more broad-based and inclusive urban environmental politics and mobilization?

Featured Speakers

  • Amita Baviskar, Professor of Environmental Studies and Sociology & Anthropology, Ashoka University: Her research addresses the cultural politics of environment and development in rural and urban India. Currently, she is working on food and changing agrarian environments in central India and studying the social experience of air pollution and heat in Delhi.
  • Madhu Verma, Chief Economist, WRI India: She specialises in Ecosystem Services Valuation, Green Accounting & Incentive-Based Mechanisms. She is a Fulbright Fellow (2012); LEAD Fellow (2007), joint winner of Zyed Prize Diploma for Environment (2006), INSEE Fellow (2019) and currently on the Board of the International Society for Ecological Economics. She is leading WRI’s Flagship study on ‘Approaches for Doubling Farmers Income in India - Agroecological System based Considerations’ and working on Economics of Nature Based Solutions.
  • Shahana Chattaraj, Director, Research Data and Innovation, WRI India (Moderator): She is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. Her research looks at urban political economy, governance and policy; the informal economy, digital platforms and the future of work, in India and globally.

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