Tejaswini Niranjana

Aim: To revisit and bring into renewed circulation historically effective practices that can help mitigate climate change, through generating new interdisciplinary conversations around forms of urban living in the 21st century as they relate to the issues of public health and climate change. This will be done through a programme of workshops and public engagements with the participation of specialists, students and the general public. The immediate objective would be to create three working groups to undertake collaborative research and impact local and national policy. The long-term objective would be to drive positive transformation from below through the public engagements, reports, and a published volume on the topic. 

Concept: We begin by identifying three key nodes or ‘industries’ around which our host city of Ahmedabad has been organized historically: food, clothing, and housing, and then connecting each one to urban life, collective health issues, and the crises sparked by climate change. By doing so, we plan to extend the urgency of dealing with the global process of climate change into tangible everyday questions that can be widely comprehended. Although the ultimate beneficiaries of the project will be ordinary citizens, the knowledge driving the conversation will be based on the work of reputed researchers, some of whom will be directly involved in our discussions. Our attempt as a University-based project is also to help bridge the gap between specialist knowledge and specialist publications, and everyday forms of life.

Why should food, clothing and housing be understood in relation to climate change, health, and city life? Because these everyday necessities are affected by and contribute to the crises of the latter. And because our society has a long history of localized forms of growing and consuming food, creating clothing and shelter. How can these time-tested practices be adapted for contemporary use? Can they mitigate the downsides of urban living? Can we work to document the practices and see whether they can be put to use in producing sustainable kinds of food, clothing and housing? How do we identify the many levels across these domains at which the putting-to-use can happen? Instead of looking at this interest in sustainable practices as a belated response to the depredations of climate change caused by human action, can we identify, adapt and deploy such practices as a positive move to fashion a different kind of future?