“Indira Gandhi: A Life in Nature” by Shri Jairam Ramesh

20190923 Indira Gandhi by Jairam Ramesh

Sanjaya K.Mishra @sanjayakmishra

The unconventional biography of the former prime minister Late Smt. Indira Gandhi is a scholarly exposition. The book is a seamless weaving of myriads of little known facts about one of the charismatic Indian leaders. The elucidation by an erudite politician-scholar, Shri Jairam Ramesh, who has eloquently narrated; how Indira Gandhi’s views on the environment, her passionate efforts for the protection and conservation of India’s wildlife, biodiversity; how she persuaded her colleagues while taking noteworthy decisions on forests and wildlife; and policies, programmes, initiatives, laws and institutions, that have endured. How her focus was on national progress with an ecological balance. The book describes that she was singularly responsible not just for India’s best-known wildlife conservation programme, “The Project Tiger”—but also for less high-profile initiatives for the protection of crocodiles, lions, hanguls, cranes, bustards, flamingos, deer, and other endangered species. Furthermore, prevailing laws to deal with water and air pollution were enacted during her tenure.

The book also reveals that Late Smt. Indira Gandhi was the only head of government, other than the host prime minister, to speak at the first-ever United Nations (UN) Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm in June 1972. Her speech there has reverberated down the decades.

The author genuinely advocates that India can’t afford to follow a blind ‘grow now, pony up later’ model. As recently heard in Rajya Sabha, while he was emphasizing on the primary role of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change is to safeguard environment and natural resources and not ease of doing business; he has outlined in the book as well, “Climate change is a devastating reality, and is affecting our monsoon patterns, glaciers and mean sea levels. Pollution and chemical contamination are having very substantial public health consequences. Our forests—the absorbers of greenhouse gases that cause global warming—are under threat as we extract more coal, iron ore and other minerals, and as we build more irrigation projects and power plants to fuel our economic growth.”

Shri Jairam Ramesh has described the book, in a way, is a diary of Late Smt. Indira Gandhi’s environmental activities—a diary not maintained by her obviously but reconstructed with the help of archival material.

An extremely well researched, deep work. The author has magnificently distilled vivid contents from unpublished letters, notes, messages, and memos. The chronological deliberation has gone the whole hog to make it so lively and a conversational narrative of the fascinating side of Indira Gandhi. The creation could also be described as a calibrated compass that could guide India at a time when the writing is on the wall with disastrous air, water, and land environment. The author has made tireless efforts to show the need for realignment of the focus on India’s green growth.

Author: Enviro Annotations

Environmental Weekly Newspaper

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