Back

From skeet shooting to waste management: the wider impact of the Oxford India Centre

5th December 2018

Every year since 2013, the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development has hosted exceptional students from India who have won prestigious scholarships before returning home to contribute to their country’s multi-faceted development challenges.

The presence of the centre at Somerville has also inspired other Somerville students to deepen their engagement with India. Asmi Khusi reports.

From the sustainable management of water, land, and waste to the ecology of animal-human interaction, study at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development (OICSD) has helped to shape the work of our alumni and students.

Smit Singh is the only Indian to reach the finals in Men’s skeet shooting at the Commonwealth Games. When he is not busy with his sport, Smit works to advise the government of Punjab on policies including finding solutions for groundwater management.More than 88% of the habitation in Punjab is affected by contaminated groundwater.

“The interactive seminars at Somerville such as the India Ideas room, allowed me to better understand the complex problems of India in a lively environment, which along with my MSc., built the grounding for my work with the Punjab government… as I return back to shooting, I am no more just a shooter, the academic experience gave me a better perspective on my sporting career and improved my competitive psychology. Shooting is essentially a mental sport, the build-up in confidence was seen on the field.”

Smit Singh, competing in Belgrade, Serbia, in 2011

Smit competed at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games a year after he finished his MSc in Contemporary South Asian Studies at Somerville. Recently he also advised the Ministry of Local Government in Punjab on their Municipal Solid Waste Policy for bringing in new scientific methods and improving the livelihood of waste workers.

The waste management situation in India is already dire today and is set to worsen with India’s rapidly expanding cities. It was in the infamous landfill of Ghazipur in New Delhi, which is twenty metres higher than the stipulated height, where Nishant Kumar saw a dense flock of black kites and contemplated their relation with the city’s inhabitants and their waste.

For Nishant Kumar and Urvi Gupta, who completed their PhD and MSc in Biodiversity Conservation and Management respectively at Somerville, their involvement with the centre helped to launch their project studying the urban ecology of black kites in Delhi.

Urvi says: “During my M.Sc. days at Somerville, my general interactions with the members of the OICSD and discussions in the India Idea Room meetings allowed me to expand my approach from science to social sciences. Future conservation research in India needs to address the questions in an amalgamated context of science for society, and OICSD provides every new student with the right platform.”

Nishant and Urvi have been studying several the behavioural, physiological and demographic traits of the city scavenger against the backdrop of Delhi’s urban landscape for 5 years now. Together they have held conservation-conversation sessions for more than 40,000 people on the city streets, and are spreading awareness through their comic ‘Kitoons’ where Govinda and Lineatus, a local and migrant black kite find a voice to talk about the city.

Nishant says: “I look to expand our research to address these questions in the context of the healthy sustenance of the human-animal interface in India’s megacities.

“The OICSD has allowed us to discuss this concept, and develop collaborative research with Professor Barbara Harriss-White, who is on the OICSD academic advisory committee; Dr Siddharth Arora; and Dr Maan Barua.”

 

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close