Welcome to the latest issue of the OICSD newsletter featuring quarterly updates on our research, scholarships and seminars.

World news at the moment is immensely grim, and even as a countless people are directly and brutally impacted by the current crisis in Ukraine – the full extent of this geopolitical situation is only just unfolding across borders and sectors, to every corner of the world. Somerville College, where the OICSD is based, is doing its best for relief work. We at the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development realise that in times like these our efforts to bring together people from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to think collectively about global issues of sustainability and climate change, becomes all the more important.

We are delighted to share that OICSD Research Director Prof Radhika Khosla is one of the academic leads for University of Oxford’s new multidisciplinary ZERO Institute, aimed at tackling the challenges of global zero-carbon energy transition. This term, OICSD researchers have published a new set of high profile cross-disciplinary articles in Nature Climate Change, Conservation LettersApplied Energy and more. We have held seminars on gender equality laws in India, the application of artificial intelligence in healthcare and the ‘self-rule’ development paradigm. Take a look at our interdisciplinary research and upcoming events, and subscribe here for news and updates from the Centre. 

Research Highlights

The meaning of net zero and how to get it right
In this perspective for Nature Climate Change, OICSD Research Director Prof Radhika Khosla and co-authors write about how the concept of net-zero carbon emissions has emerged from physical climate science but is operationalized through social, political and economic systems. The perspective sets out the attributes to ensure that Net Zero is a successful framework for climate action across countries. 

Review of low voltage load forecasting: Methods, applications, and recommendations
This study for Applied Energy co-authored by OICSD Programme Director Dr Siddharth Arora discusses the applications on low voltage, local networks, such as community energy markets and smart storage, which can facilitate  decarbonisation of the energy systems. This paper also helps establish an open, community-driven list of the known low voltage level open datasets to encourage further research and development.

Assessing Parkinson’s Disease at Scale Using Telephone-Recorded Speech: Insights from the Parkinson’s Voice Initiative
This study co-authored by Dr Siddharth Arora investigates the use of using telephone-quality voice as a population-based screening tool for Parkinson’s disease. This research aims to facilitate the development of an inexpensive, remote, and reliable diagnostic support tool for Parkinson’s disease using voice as a digital biomarker.

International Regulation of Platform Labor: A Proposal for Action
OICSD scholar Aradhana CV co-authored an article for an International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention that outlines the ways in which platform work could be regulated. The status of platform workers as ‘independent contractors’ has often excluded them from the scope of labour rights, making effective regulation all the more important for maintaining fair standards of work.

Antibiotic resistance
This paper co-authored by OICSD scholar Divya Choudhary, DPhil candidate in Biochemistry, examines the spread of resistance among a specific type of multidrug-resistant organism: the epidemic ST258 strain of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP). This study improves our understanding of how antibiotic-resistant strains emerge and spread in hospitals. Such studies are critical to combat antibiotic resistance by detecting the emerging threats of growing resistance in hospital settings.

Spotlight: Trisha Gopalakrishna’s study on climate mitigation potential of Indian forests

new study led by OICSD scholar Trisha Gopalakrishna and co-authors found that the additional mitigation potential from forest restoration in India was less than a quarter of the country’s commitments to the Paris Agreement in 2015. Trisha and her co-authors from the University of Oxford, University of Exeter, University of Hyderabad and Jawaharlal Nehru University used a machine learning framework to define areas that could naturally sustain forests. The study accounts for varying land use such as agriculture, and land cover like grasslands, savannahs and wetlands. The main finding is that the additional areas available for agroforestry was very small compared to global India-specific estimates and India’s international forest restoration commitments. In other words, India’s commitments overestimate the area available and the mitigation potential of forest restoration. Read Mongabay India‘s coverage of Trisha’s study here and the guest post on Carbon Brief here.

Events at a glance

Women, Power, and Property: The Paradox of Gender Equality Laws in India

In this seminar, Rachel Brulé, Assistant Professor of Global Development Policy at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University, along with Akshay Mangla of the Said Business School and Maya Tudor of the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, discussed how well-designed quotas can operate as a crucial tool to foster equality and benefit the women they are meant to empower.

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
Ikigai Law, the British High Commission and the OICSD hosted a day-long event at Somerville College on digital healthcare, data, ethics, and public governance  including a presentation by Dr Siddharth Arora, OICSD Programme Director. This was followed by an interaction with early-stage start ups in Oxford using AI in healthcare and allied biomedical settings. The event was part of a learning tour to facilitate dialogue between Indian and UK experts on ‘building bridges on regulatory approaches to AI/ML enabled healthcare technology.’

MK Gandhi’s development paradigm
In an interaction with the current scholars cohort, OICSD alumnus Sumanas Koulagi presented his work on the theory and praxis of the Swaraj development paradigm proposed by  MK Gandhi and JC Kumarappa. Sumanas recently completed his PhD in International development at the University of Sussex and is currently associated with the Janapada Khadi initiative of Janapada Seva Trust in Karnataka.

New interdisciplinary seminar series: Thinking through Toxicity
With an unprecedented rise in air pollution, environmental degradation and ever-widening socioeconomic disparity, everyday life in South Asia involves living within and amidst toxicity. But does ‘toxicity’ only mean contamination? Is it always visible? In this seminar series spanning over the coming months, we attempt to unpack the multiple meanings and complex logics of ‘toxicity’, tracing its different material and structural forms through an interdisciplinary lens. We turn to a range of questions and sites in India – historical and contemporary, urban and rural, intimate and collective – to consider how we might expand our understanding of these toxicities and how political, economic, technological, and social interventions might be re-imagined. How do different forms of toxicity intersect? How do they affect identities and landscapes? What are the implications for policy-making and governance? In turning to the thematic concern of ‘toxicity’, this series endeavours to map a breadth of distinct yet related forms of slow violence and ecological and political messiness, and asks if and how we might excavate from these the possibility of a sustainable, egalitarian future. Subscribe to our mailing here to receive updates on our Trinity Term events.

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