Penguin presents, “Conflicts of Interest” by Sunita Narain, a book that has a blueprint for how India can clean up its act and deal with its environmental exigencies.
India’s foremost environmentalist, Narain gives a personal account of her battles as part of the country’s green movement. While outlining the enormous environmental challenges that India faces today, Narain talks about how corporate lobbies and political interests often scuttle their effective resolution. She recounts some widely reported controversies triggered by research undertaken by her along with her team at the Centre for Science and Environment, such as a report on pesticides in colas, and a study on air pollution in Delhi, and includes a ringside view of global climate change negotiations.
Conflicts of Interest also includes an ‘environmental manifesto’, a blueprint for the direction India must take if it is to deal with the exigencies of climate change and environmental degradation.
‘The fact is that every issue is contested because of conflicts of interest. It is contested because it is the contest of ideas and the contest of realities. To engage requires research and an ability to stand against the stated truth—or what I have called the established fact. This is where we have faced our biggest enemies. Not because of the conflict of interests but because of the conflict of ideas, which is driven by interests.
Read any chapter and you will see what I am talking about. We had to fight the “established” science of diesel in our fight for clean air; the “established” science of pesticides in our work on toxins and food safety; the “established” science of conservation in our effort to bring a new way to manage wildlife so that people also benefit. The list is long. But the war is about the mind. . . . Please do read Conflicts of Interest because you must—not only to agree, not only to dissent. But because it tells stories of our present, and points to the common future we must make.’
Sunita Narain is an environmentalist and political activist who uses knowledge to push for changes in policy and practice. She has been with the Centre for Science and Environment since 1982 and is currently its director general. She is also the editor of the fortnightly magazine Down to Earth. For her tireless struggle for a cleaner environment in a fast-growing economy, Narain was included in Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people, in April 2016, where her profile was written by Amitav Ghosh. Hers was a compelling voice in Before the Flood, a feature-length documentary produced and presented by Leonardo DiCaprio and released in October 2016.