The social and political economy of an estuary worth protecting

Oyster mudflats, a political space that also serves hundreds of households

Last week I presented another set of research findings / summaries of my work with Panchabhuta Conservation Foundation. This presentation casts the Aghanashini River estuary as a political economic space, affected by multiple external and internal optics and development trends. This review ultimately ends in a call for robust valuation of this critical ecology (from non-monetary and monetary perspectives).

To see the full presentation which may yet yield a paper, click here.

Note: There are serious critiques to be made of the ecosystem services valuation paradigm. Yet such valuations remain critical for much policy and management. A balance must be struck between pricing everything all the time and pricing nothing ever. On this I straddle.

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The Yamuna, in black and white

Old?

India today still exists spread across generations and centuries: old and new, modern and traditional, renovated and decrepit, built-up and torn-down, present and past.

A simple, fuzzy black and white photo of today can seem like something from a different era. Here, the squalid but holy Yamuna river flows behind the Taj Mahal.

I tell my students that in the context of photojournalism, black and white photography is too often a artistic gimmick. Not always, but most of the time. I feel grayscale makes an image look more “stunning” by covering up poor lighting and colors and adding contrast. I argue, if an image can run in color — and if the goal of journalism to is to capture reality — it should run in color.

So a gimmick, yes. But a beautiful one, nonetheless.

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Pristine Siliguri waters

Hooray for pollution!

And by pristine, I mean the Mahananda, a stream mixed with sewage and garbage. Shot taken on my way to Sikkim last month.

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