Ecology and Equity: R Guha, M Gadgil


The book, Ecology, and Equity talks about ecological degradation. And how it has impacted the major sections of the society. The authors call the people living in rural areas, closer to nature as ‘Ecosystem people’. And the book describes how for the development of cities and for providing facilities to urban areas, the ecological balance is being disturbed in distant areas. It gives an interesting episode of the time when electricity was first supplied to Bombay. And how it impacted the rural areas in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Ecology and Equity by Ramachandra Guha, Madhav Gadgil

It also extrapolates the same analogy to how the so-called ‘developed nations’, actually save their own environment by importing things like Wood and other minerals from third-world countries. And hence have a negative impact on the people living in those ecologies.

It explores the age-old way of living in India. That is self-sufficient and self-sustaining villages. And how that model was conducive to protecting and sustaining good ecological balance. It goes on to propose the various models by which the lost ecological balance can be regained. In the global world today, going back to self-sufficient villages may not be possible or feasible. But they propose active participation of the ‘ecosystem people’ in the rebuilding process. And have given ample examples of the local wisdom and knowledge that had helped sustain the ecosystem.

Definitely a very good book, but slightly boring to read. At times it seems like a textbook and you tend to lose interest. It could have made an interesting and informative reading if it was written in a slightly more interesting way. Nonetheless, for environment enthusiasts, it still makes a good reading.


Ecology and Equity is a book by Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha explores the relationship between ecology and equity in India. It argues that the two are inextricably linked and that any attempt to address environmental problems in India must also address the issue of equity.

It begins by providing an overview of the ecological diversity of India. India is home to a wide range of ecosystems, from dense forests to deserts to coastal areas. The book then discusses the different ways in which people in India have interacted with their environment over time. Some groups, such as hunter-gatherers, have lived in relatively sustainable ways, while others, such as farmers, have had a more disruptive impact on the environment.

The book then turns to the issue of equity. The authors argue that environmental problems in India are often caused by the unequal distribution of resources. For example, the poor are often forced to live in areas that are environmentally degraded, while the rich are able to live in more protected areas. Authors also argue that environmental problems can exacerbate existing inequalities. For example, droughts can lead to food shortages, which can disproportionately affect the poor.

Proposes a number of policies that could help to address the issue of equity in India. These policies include:

  • Providing the poor with access to land and other resources
  • Investing in sustainable development
  • Empowering local communities to participate in environmental decision-making

It is a well-researched and thought-provoking book that provides valuable insights into the relationship between ecology and equity in India. The book is essential reading for anyone who is interested in environmental issues in India or in the broader context of sustainable development.

Details about the book:

  • Published in 1995.
  • The authors, Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha are both well-respected ecologists and environmental activists.

You may buy this book – Ecology and Equity the Use and Abuse of Nature in Contemporary India by Ramachandra Guha and Madhav Gadgil at Amazon.

Recommend you read the review of Ramachandra Guha’s book India after Gandhi.

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  1. Why does the name Ramachandra Guha seem so familiar? I think he is a cricket writer too. Is that true? Do they mention it in the credits?

  2. Yes Parth, he is the same guy who writes on cricket as well…I happened to hear him speak at an event, and he speaks very well and very convincingly.

  3. Have you read Jared Diamond’s highly acclaimed “Guns, Germs and Steel” which describes how the environment is actually responsible for human history? Of course the same pattern will not be repeated in our present day world (since everyone today is much better connected). All the same, interesting topic..

  4. it does sound like a textbook material of class9 or10 but highly effort to create more awareness about the realistic things and situations around us.the writer is also a guest lecturer at many occasions i believe.


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