Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development Newsletter
Welcome to the fifth edition of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development newsletter.
The past weeks have brought unprecedented changes to our lives.The spread of COVID-19 has given rise to concerns about health and safety of our families and friends, with a growing feeling of disquiet at how the crisis is playing out in different parts of the world. We are working to build on our collective strength as a community to tide over this crisis together, while supporting those worst affected by the pandemic. For the coming months, the OICSD seminars are being adapted to an online mode and our research affiliates, scholars and alumni are engaging with crisis through their research, advocacy, webinars, volunteer services, data collection, fund-raising and other kinds of contributions.
Our research affiliate Dr Vikranth Harthikote Nagaraja is part of a multi-disciplinary team comprising of engineers, scientists, clinicians, and manufacturers at the University of Oxford and King’s College London developing a rapidly deployable ventilator for COVID-19 patients. As a project developer, Vikranth is contributing to Mechanical design, CAD modelling, and 3D printing aspects. Dr Anant Jani, our research affiliate at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, is part of an effort to monitor and track COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom. A parallel national observatory is being built to track social needs of the population and whether they are being met. Anant has written an article on approaches to address the COVID-19 aftermath, accepted at the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
OICSD founding academic committee member Barbara Harriss-Whit is highlighting the plight of migrant workers in India during the lockdown, and bringing focus on the needs of the healthcare system, job losses, effect on informal and gig economy workers, among others. Our senior legal adviser, Debottam Bose, has been raising awareness and funds for the humanitarian relief work carried out by Ramakrishna Mission in Meghalaya. Gauri Chandra, DPhil scholar in Public Policy, is volunteering with the Blavatnik School of Government‘s latest project: Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker. This is a new tool to track and compare policy responses of governments addressing the coronavirus across the world.
The OICSD and Somerville alumni are actively engaged in efforts to address the COVID-19 circumstances in India. Tanvi Agrawal is involved with Let’s Reach Out – a group of volunteers working with the National Health Mission (NHM) – reaching out to stranded migrant workers over the phone to provide logistical and moral support during this crisis.
Gabriella D’Cruz is working with the Goa Humanitarian Helpline, a volunteer run initiative that answer calls and supplies basic rations free of cost. She is also working on a ‘Food Wall’ in her village of Saligao, Goa, which is a compound wall with vegetables growing on it for those in need of food during this crisis.
Somerville alumnus Smit Singh, chief administrator of social platform Jittega Punjab, is distributing rations and other essentials in Amritsar, along with former Cabinet Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s team. Alumnus Arindam Banerjee, partner at Policy & Development Advisory Group, is working closely with the Jharkhand Chief Minister’s Office to formulate state level COVID-19 advisories – including those aimed to mitigate socio-economic costs to vulnerable communities i.e. tribal, homeless and migrants. A map-based portal has been developed for users to easily identify the nearest COVID-19 quarantine and treatment centers. Somerville alumni Nishant Kumar and Urvi Gupta, currently working with Wildlife Institute of India, are involved in a project examining human-animal relationships during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Mr Ratan N Tata, Chairman of Tata Trusts and Honorary Patron of OICSD, has pledged an extraordinary commitment of Rs 500 crores towards personal protective equipment for medical personnel, respiratory systems, testing kits, treatment facilities and training of health workers and general public.
Research at the OICSD has led to various outcomes including a range of publications (see below). Research director Dr Radhika Khosla and co-authors won the Environment Research Letters journal award for their paper on the future of India’s energy and emissions. DPhil scholar Vaanathi Sundaresan successfully completed her viva on the thesis titled ‘Detection of cerebral small vessel disease signs on brain MR images’ at Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, which has led to a number of publications.
Recent OICSD publications
Bird, W., Adamo, G., Pitini, E., Gray, M. and Jani, A., 2020. Reducing chronic stress to promote health in adults: the role of social prescriptions and social movements. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 113(3), pp.105-109.
Jani, A., Bertotti, M., Lazzari, A., Drinkwater, C., Addarii, F., Conibear, J. and Gray, M., 2020. Investing resources to address social factors affecting health: the essential role of social prescribing. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 113(1), pp.24-27.
Jungmann, S., Mistry, P., Conibear, T., Gray, M. and Jani, A., 2020. Using technology-enabled social prescriptions to disrupt healthcare. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 113(2), pp.59-63.
Kamat, A., Khosla, R. and Narayanamurti, V., 2020. Illuminating homes with LEDs in India: Rapid market creation towards low- carbon technology transition in a developing country. Energy Research & Social Science, 66, p.101488.
Khosla, R., Kamat, A. and Narayanamurti, V., 2020. Guest Post: How Energy-Efficient LED Bulbs Lit Up India In Just Five Years. [online] Carbon Brief.
Future of Cooling
Oxford’s Future of Cooling Programme at the Oxford Martin School has a new research paper on the links between fuel poverty, thermal comfort and cooling strategies in the Brazilian Amazon, and presents a conceptual framework for fuel poverty in tropical areas of the Global South. The research programme also examines cooling energy consumption in India, with an in-depth study of the nature and characteristics of cooling use in the Delhi region.
Climate Change and India reading group
The OICSD, in partnership with School of Geography and the Environment, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and the Oxford Martin School, hosted three sessions of the multi-disciplinary reading group on Climate Change and India. Dr Anupama Sen of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies discussed the political economy of electricity in India. Sugandha Srivastava, DPhil candidate in Environmental Economics at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, led a discussion on the political economy of coal mining. Emeritus professor of development studies Barbara Harriss-White presented on the low carbon transition in agriculture.
In November, Mr Subramanium, former Solicitor General of India and Senior Advocate of the country’s Supreme Court, delivered a lecture in Somerville College titled ‘Modern Challenges to the Rule of Law,’ exploring the linkages between democracy and the rule of law, as well as a psychological approach to the rule of law. The full paper can be downloaded at: Modern Challenges to the Rule of Law-4.11.19
Vaanathi successfully completed her viva on the thesis titled ‘Detection of cerebral small vessel disease signs on brain MR images’ at Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences. Her research analyses structural and functional changes of the brain in disease, specifically on modelling the distribution of white matter lesions within a population and the detection of white matter pathologies of the brain in MR images.
Trisha completed her Transfer of Status to DPhil candidate status at the School of Geography and the Environment. Her research explores the trade-offs and synergies between climate change mitigation, biodiversity and water services following restoration of tropical forests in India.
Awarded a sponsored place on the Data Analysis: Statistics for Ecologists and Field Biologists (10 Weeks) Course at the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford. Aavika is a DPhil student in Zoology, studying the effects of climate and land-use land-cover changes on the forest birds of Northeast India.
Won second prize for Floor Speech at the Oxford Union Main Debate on Religion and State. Priya is enrolled in the BCL programme, and is interested in commercial/corporate law.
Recent News and Events
Following a signing ceremony with Baroness Royall and Mrs Sandra Shroff, Vice Chairman of UPL, Somerville College and UPL launched the new Sustainability Fund at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development. The fund will provide for new research into climate change, food and water security, clean energy, healthcare innovation, sustainable cities and environmental sustainability. As part of this collaboration, UPL and OICSD will co-host the OpenAg Forum, a new annual conference on sustainability, innovation, technology and investment topics in agriculture.
In our second research seminar for the year, Sanghamitra Mukherjee, Varun Mallik and Gaurav Dubey presented their research on agricultural finance, anti-colonial politics and electric mobility respectively. Sanghamitra looked at the complementarity of financial products based on experimental evidence from Kenya. Varun spoke about how Japanese imperialism influenced the Swadeshi movement in Bengal. Gaurav examined the role of neoliberal political economy in pushing electric vehicles as a solution for reducing carbon emissions in India's transport sector.
Thomas Hale and Tina Fawcett spoke about the interconnections between individual and systemic responses to climate change, in an event co-hosted by OICSD and the Oxford Climate Society in January.
OICSD participated in the third international meet on domestic violence, mental health and equitable health systems for all. The conference was held in partnership with Queen Mary University of London and the Tata Institute for Social Sciences in Mumbai.
Somerville College's Senior Associate Dr Gita Piramal hosted a gathering at her residence in Mumbai after the Resilience Future's India Initiative conference in December 2019. OICSD and Queen Mary University of London presented their respective work, with Radhika Khosla speaking about OICSD's climate change and urban energy research. The gathering was an opportunity to advance research collaborations with institutions working on sustainability in India.
OICSD hosted a gathering in December 2019 at the residence of Sir Dominic Asquith in Delhi for alumni scholars and Somerville India alumni, and were joined by generous supporters and advisers. The event was an opportunity to consolidate and strengthen ties with the OICSD community, and build collaborations between University of Oxford and Indian supporters on sustainable development in the country.
Q&A with Prof Manu Bhagavan on the life and work of Indian diplomat and politician Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, who was also an Honorary Fellow at Somerville College. This was the first session of the Global Thinkers of the International discussion series on historical women thinkers, in February.
A large turnout from across Oxford in February for the panel discussion on citizenship debates in India, with keynote speaker Prof Niraja Jayal and panelists Dr Nikita Sud of Oxford Department of International Development, author and journalist Mirza Waheed, theoretical physicist Dr Subir Sarkar and moderator Dr Sneha Krishnan from the School of Geography and the Environment.
In collaboration with the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, journalist Tejas Harad discussed why people from India’s lower castes are under-represented in journalism.
The OICSD is supported by a network of generous philanthropists in India and the UK, who have enabled us to double the number of postgraduate scholarships we offer.
If you would like to support our mission of education and research that benefits India and the world, please contact our Director of Development Sara Kalim at: email@example.com