Medha Mukherjee

Matric Year: 2022 – Subject: DPhil in Geography and the Environment – Scholarship: Oxford-Indira Gandhi Scholar

“A significant part of the global population still lacks access to even the most basic services, such as safe water, food and healthcare in the 21st century. A sustainable world without such inequalities of access is what I try to work towards, with the countless academics, practitioners, and most importantly, the affected communities out there, envisioning the same.” 

Water, a basic human right, is the focus of Medha’s research. She explores how the low-income, the marginalised, and the most excluded in rural India, can have reliable access to safe drinking water. Medha examines how inclusive outcomes can be reached through national, state and individual choices that impact, and are impacted by, inequalities. Studying such choices and inequalities through the prism of Intersectionality, she identifies markers of identity that shape everyday experiences in limiting, or enabling, access to drinking water. Gathering empirical evidence is a critical component of her work: she grounds her academic research in lived experiences of the people, to inform both theory and practice. As an anthropogeographer and social scientist, she further draws upon the natural sciences, development economics, politics, sociology and history.

Prior to her selection as a PhD candidate and Oxford Indira Gandhi Scholar, Medha was a recipient of the Felix Scholarship, for her postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford. Medha’s MSc dissertation focused on inequalities of water access faced by the urban poor in Kolkata, India. She conducted extensive empirical research, amidst COVID-19 restrictions, documenting quotidian challenges of the inhabitants of informal settlements. She graduated with a Distinction, and went on to become a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS).

Growing up in India, Medha has been sensitized to the juxtaposition of excess and inadequacy, in both rural and urban settings. Travelling across India’s diverse landscape since childhood, particularly the Himalaya, has shaped her perception of the delicate balance that exists between humans, and the natural world. Her study of Ethics and the Classics, as an English Literature undergraduate at Jadavpur University, has been pivotal in informing her current research interests. Her five-year background as a writer for the film industry, particularly, documentaries, contributes to her diverse research approach. She remains a strong advocate of transcending disciplinary boundaries, and is happy to engage in any discussion, academic and beyond, to further inclusivity.

Previous Qualifications:

Master of Science in Water Science, Policy and Management, School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, UK

Bachelor of Arts in English with Honours, Department of English, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India

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