Title of Talk: The A&N Islands – At the tri-junction of fragility and vulnerability
Date: 4th February 2019
Time: 16:15 p.m.
Venue: IITB-Monash Research Academy Seminar Room 1 and 2
Duration: 60 minutes plus Discussion
Description: Speaker will share his journey as a trained researcher. Topic will be of general importance, all branches of student most welcome to attend.
Objective: To provide students with a concise report on his recent book on A&N.
Resource person: Prof Pankaj Sekhsaria, Member, Kalpavriksh Environmental Action Group
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands constitute an unique system in the Indian context that is also one of the least understood. The islands have no parallels on multiple grounds – geological, ecological and socio-cultural – and put together these form a unit that is complex and needs special attention and care.
The islands are extremely rich from an ecological point of view – rich tropical forests, a diverse coastline comprising beaches, rocky coasts and mangroves and oceans that are thriving with coral reefs and marine life. The islands are home at the same time to a number of indigenous communities who have been here for thousands of years but are today among the most marginalised and vulnerable. And very importantly, the islands are located in Seismic Zone V, the most seismically active zone on the planet. Earthquakes here are a regular occurrence and the 9.3 richter scale earthquake that caused the giant tsunami of December 2004 had its epicenter not very far from the Nicobar islands.
The presentation will dwell on these three distinctly different but complexly inter-related aspects of these islands to argue for a larger and a more holistic understanding of the place. It will present a range of examples of how recent developmental interventions in the islands – for infrastructure development, defence installations and tourism promotion – are wilfully ignoring the dynamic and sensitive social, ecological and geological realities of this remote island chain and increasing manifold the vulnerability of the islands and its human and non-human residents.
Pankaj Sekhsaria’s research interests lie at the intersection of environment, science, technology and society. He has worked extensively in the A&N islands and is the author/editor of four books on various issues of the islands. These include ‘Islands in Flux – the Andaman and Nicobar Story’ (Harper Litmus 2017) and ‘The Last Wave’ (HarperCollins India 2014) his debut novel that is a deeply ecological story based in the Andamans.
He is currently Associate Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (C-TARA), IIT Bombay, and also a long time member of the environmental action group, Kalpavriksh. He has a PhD in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from the Maastricht University, Netherlands and his latest book based on his doctoral research is ‘Instrumental Lives – an intimate biography of an Indian laboratory (Routledge, 2019).