Students, senior researchers and faculty from all disciplines – physical sciences, social sciences, humanities – are invited to participate in the Climate Change and India reading group, and provide insights into multiple aspects of climate change debates specific to the Indian context.

The Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development, in partnership with School of Geography and the Environment, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment and the Oxford Martin School, has initiated this interdisciplinary reading group to generate knowledge and build interest on the subject. This reading group is an opportunity to generate discussion around the complexities of environmental challenges in the Global South. It could also potentially lead to collaborative research between  participants in the future.


Topics in focus

The Indian subcontinent is in the midst of a large-scale transition to low carbon futures to meet climate targets set during the Paris Agreement of 2015. But achieving these targets requires more than just technological transformations. Climate action in India is also having to contend with the nation’s carbon-intensive development strategies to tackle poverty and unemployment.  Energy transitions are intricately bound up with overlapping issues of energy access, food and water security, housing and sanitation, among others. Closing the gap between ambition and what can be achieved involves considering social, political, technological and ecological challenges posed by climate change in both cities and vast rural stretches of the country.

Some questions that this reading group could seek to uncover are: How can climate action be incorporated into rural and urban planning – thereby achieving both climate targets and development goals? What kinds of governance structures and institutional capacity is needed to tackle problems of climate-induced migration and urban informality? How can we devise socio-technical solutions that address class, caste and gender inequalities exacerbated by climate change? What is the role of social movements grassroots activism in bringing about environmental justice?

We have hosted seven reading group sessions till date:

  1. India’s climate policies and politics
  2. Political economy of electricity
  3. Political economy of coal mining
  4. Low carbon transition in agriculture
  5. Role of education in climate change mitigation
  6. Climate change and livelihoods of indigenous communities
  7. Climate change and anti-poverty initiatives in India



Scholars from across disciplines are invited to participate in the reading group, held thrice every term. Each member is expected to suggest a reading, which will be shared ahead of the meeting. The meeting will be a discussion of the reading, led by the person who suggested it (upto 20 min), followed by a group discussion for 40-50 minutes. Each session will be 1-1.5 hours, with the half hour extra in case additional conversation is needed. The members will be required to commit to attending 80% of the sessions in order to be a part of the group.



Session I: November 27, 2019

Dr Radhika Khosla led the first session, giving an overview of India’s climate policies and politics over time.

Dubash, Navroz K., Radhika Khosla, Ulka Kelkar, Sharachchandra Lele. 2018. “India and Climate Change: Evolving Ideas and Increasing Policy Engagement.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources (43): 395-424.


Session II: January 29, 2020

Dr Anupama Sen of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies discussed the political economy of electricity in India.

Sunila S. Kale, Navroz K. Dubash and Ranjit Bharvirkar (2018) “A Framework for Mapping Power” in Sunila S. Kale, Navroz K. Dubash and Ranjit Bharvirkar (Eds.) Mapping Power: The Political Economy of  Electricity in India’s States, OUP.


Session III: February 19, 2020

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.

Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt (2017) Resources and the Politics of Sovereignty: The Moral and Immoral Economies of Coal Mining in India, South Asia: Journal of South Asian Studies.


Session IV: March 4, 2020

Emeritus professor of development studies Barbara Harriss-White presented on the low carbon transition in agriculture.

Harriss-White, B., Gathorne-Hardy, A., & Rodrigo, G. (2019). Towards Lower-Carbon Indian Agricultural Development: An Experiment in Multi-criteria Mapping. Review of Development and Change24(1), 5–30.


Session V: May 6, 2020

Steve Puttick, Associate Professor at the Department of Education, discussed the role of education in sustainable development and climate change mitigation.

Sarabhai, KVyas, PThe leapfrogging opportunity: The role of education in sustainable development and climate change mitigationEur J Educ201752427– 436.


Session VI: June 3, 2020

Aavika Dhanda, DPhil in Zoology, discussed the impact of climate change on the livelihoods of indigenous communities in India.

Rautela, Piyoosh & Karki, Bhavna (2015). Impact of Climate Change on Life and Livelihood of Indigenous People of Higher Himalaya in Uttarakhand, India. American Journal of Environmental Protection. Vol 3. 112-124. 10.12691/env-3-4-2.


Session VII: June 17, 2020

Mrinalini Penumaka, MPhil in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance, discussed how climate change impacts poor, vulnerable communities, and the implications for climate adaptation and anti-poverty initiatives in India.

Main paper

Godfrey-Wood, R., and Flower, B. C. R. (2018) Does Guaranteed employment promote resilience to climate change? The case of India’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Development Policy Review 36: O586–O604.

Supplementary reading

  1. Research approach: Hallegatte, S., and Rozenberg, J. (2017) Climate change through a poverty lens. Nature Climate Change 7(4): 250–256.
  2. Context and emerging issues:


Session VIII: November 19, 2020

Dr Sharachchandra Lele, Distinguished Fellow in environmental policy and governance at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), led the first session unpacking themes of sustainability, justice, well-being and a multi-dimensional notion of environmentally sound and socially just development.

Main readings:

Lele, S. 2011. Climate change and the Indian environmental movement. In: A Handbook of Climate Change and India (ed. Dubash, N.). Pp. 208-217. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Dubash, N. K., R. Khosla, U. Kelkar and S. Lele. 2018. India and Climate Change: Evolving Ideas and Increasing Policy Engagement. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 43 (1): 395-424.

Supplementary reading:

Lele, S., 2020. Environment and Well-being: A perspective from the Global SouthNew Left Review, 123.


Session IX: December 3, 2020

Thomas Spencer, Fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), discussed his forthcoming paper co-authored by Professor Navroz Dubash in which they conduct a meta study of Indian energy scenarios out to 2050 from a variety of models. 

Unpacking India’s 2050 Energy Scenarios: How Consistent, How Useful? (Forthcoming)


Session X: February 4, 2021 (Upcoming)

Safa Fanaian, OICSD scholar and DPhil candidate at the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, will draw attention to the ‘other’ i.e. medium and small-sized cities of India. These other and often overlooked cities are experiencing higher growth rates, have low infrastructure support and pose a higher cumulative impact on the climate. These cities also present great opportunities for enabling inclusive growth.

Main readings:

Cook, I.M., 2018. Sizing the city: Lack, intimacy and niche positioning in Mangaluru, India. City 22, 703–720.

Haque, I., Patel, P.P., 2018. Growth of metro cities in India: trends, patterns and determinants. Urban Research and Practice 11, 338–377.

Supplementary reading:

Bhardwaj, A., Khosla, R., 2020. Superimposition: How Indian city bureaucracies are responding to climate change. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space 251484862094909.