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An Autonomous Institution, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India
Seminars and Colloquia

Humanities and Social Sciences

At the tri-junction of fragility and vulnerability The Andaman and Nicobar story 
Wed, Apr 08, 2020,   12:00 PM to 01:00 PM at Seminar Hall 24, First floor, Main building

Pankaj Sekhsaria

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are an unique and complex island chain in the Bay of Bengal. They are extremely rich from an ecological point of view and are also home to a number of indigenous communities who have been here for thousands of years but are today among the most marginalised and vulnerable. Very importantly, the islands are located in Seismic Zone V, the most seismically active zone on the planet. Earthquakes here are a regular occurrence and the 9.3 richter scale earthquake that caused the giant tsunami of December 2004 had its epicenter not very far from the Nicobar islands. 
This illustrated talk will present a range of examples of how recent developmental interventions in the islands - for infrastructure development, defence installations and tourism promotion - are wilfully ignoring the dynamic and sensitive social, ecological and geological realities of this remote island chain and increasing manifold their vulnerability.
The presentation advocates for a re-framing and re-understanding of these islands and other such systems as pivoted on three intersecting axes of the geological, the ecological and the socio-cultural, all of which need to be accounted for to ensure development interventions do not increase vulnerability.
Pankaj Sekhsaria is the author of four books on the A&N islands including Islands in Flux – the Andaman and Nicobar Story (Harper Litmus 2017, 2019), which is a collection of 20 years of his journalism about the islands, his debut novel The Last Wave (Harper Collins India 2014), a story embedded deeply in the ecology, history and people of the place, and The Jarawa Tribal Reserve Dossier – Cultural and Biological Diversity in the Andaman Islands (UNESCO & Kalpavriksh 2010).
He has a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, a master’s degree in Mass Communication and a recent PhD in Science and Technology Studies from the Maastricht University in the Netherlands. He is a long time member of the environmental action group, Kalpavriksh and currently, Associate Professor, Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), IIT Bombay. His more recent books include Instrumental Lives - an intimate biography of an Indian laboratory (Routledge 2019) and Nanoscale - Society's deep impact on science, technology and innovation in India (Authors Upfront, 2020).