The field of Indian environmental science is a collective effort with contributions from many individuals and organizations. It would be inaccurate to attribute the title of “mother of Indian environmental science” to a single person. However, there have been several notable figures who have made significant contributions to environmental science in India.
Environmental science as a discipline in India has evolved over time through the collective efforts of numerous scientists, researchers, policymakers, and environmentalists. The field encompasses various branches, including ecology, conservation, pollution control, climate change, and more. Many individuals have made significant contributions to advancing environmental science in India, and it would be inappropriate to single out one person as the sole “mother” of the entire field. Indian environmental science’s mother, Sunita Narain.
One such prominent figure is Sunita Narain. She (born 1961) was a prominent Indian environmentalist and political activist who advocated for the Green philosophy of sustainable development.
|Date of Birth
|23 August 1961 (Wednesday)
|Age (as of 2021)
|New Delhi, India
|• University of Delhi, India
• Cranfield University, UK
• University of Calcutta, India
• University of Alberta, Canada
• University of Lausanne, Switzerland
|• Graduated from University of Delhi (1983), India.
• Doctor of Science (Honorary), Cranfield University, UK.
• D.Sc. Degree (Honorary) University of Calcutta, India.
• Doctor in Geosciences and Environment (Honorary), University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
• Doctor of Laws (Honorary), University of Alberta, Canada.
|Father– Raj Narain ( a freedom fighter, started his handicrafts export business after India’s Independence in 1947)
Mother– Usha Narain
Note: Her father passed away when she was eight and her mother was forced to take over the reins of the family business and support the family.
|She has four younger sisters. MBA Rendezvous
Note: One of her younger sisters, Urvashi Narain, is a Lead Economist at the World Bank in Washington DC.
Sunita Narain is a renowned environmentalist who has made significant contributions to the field of environmental science and advocacy in India. While the term “mother of Indian environmental science” is not an official title, Narain’s tireless efforts and influential work have undoubtedly played a pivotal role in shaping India’s sustainability path. From leading the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) to her contributions to policy formulation and public awareness campaigns, Narain has emerged as a leading voice in India’s fight for environmental protection and sustainable development.
Early Life and Education
Sunita Narain was born in 1961 in Delhi, India. She developed a passion for environmental issues from an early age, which led her to pursue a degree in Chemistry from the University of Delhi. Narain later obtained a Master’s degree in Environmental Planning from the School of Planning and Architecture in Delhi. Her educational background equipped her with the scientific knowledge and understanding necessary to address the complex challenges facing India’s environment.
Leadership at the Centre for Science and Environment
Narain’s association with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) began in 1982, and she has been serving as its Director General since 2002. Under her leadership, the CSE has emerged as a prominent research and advocacy organization, driving environmental change in India. The CSE has been instrumental in addressing critical issues such as air and water pollution, industrial waste management, climate change, and sustainable urban development.
Policy Advocacy and Impact
Narain’s influence extends beyond the confines of the CSE. She has actively engaged with policymakers and played a significant role in formulating environmental policies in India. Government bodies and international organizations alike have sought her expertise. Narain served as a Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change member and has been involved in shaping policies related to environmental regulations, sustainable development, and conservation.
Narain’s persistent advocacy has led to several important achievements. She played a crucial role in the implementation of the historic Supreme Court directive for reducing pollution in Delhi by mandating the conversion of public vehicles to compressed natural gas (CNG). Additionally, her efforts were instrumental in the development of the National Green Tribunal, a specialized environmental court ensuring the timely and effective resolution of environmental disputes.
Public Awareness and Outreach
Sunita Narain firmly believes in the power of public awareness and education. She has actively engaged with communities, spreading awareness about environmental issues and sustainable practices. Narain’s ability to communicate complex environmental problems relatable has garnered widespread attention and support for environmental causes.
Narain has inspired countless individuals to take action and make sustainable choices through her writings, public lectures, and media appearances. She has consistently emphasized the importance of individual responsibility, urging citizens to adopt environmentally friendly habits daily.
Filmography of Sunita Narain
In 2019, she produced the documentary “One Point Seven.” As Director-General of the Center for Science and Environment, she produced a documentary titled Climate Change: The Facts in 2017. She produced the documentary RiverBlue in 2016. In 2012, she shot the documentary “Before the Flood.”
She narrated the TV program “Democracy Now!” in December 2012. ‘Frontline’ was a documentary produced in 2012 on behalf of the Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi. She produced the documentary Heat in 2008. In 2008, she provided narration for the documentary “Weather Report.” She produced the documentary Flow: For Love of Water in 2007. She produced the TV special CNN Future Summit: Saving Planet Earth in 2008.
Publications of Sunita Narain
- 1989: Sunita co-authored the book Towards Green Villages, which promoted local democratic participation as the key to long-term sustainability.
- Global Warming in an Unequal World: A Case of Environmental Colonialism was a 1991 publication she co-authored.
- She co-authored the 1992 book Should Environmental Management Be Based on Legal Conventions or Human Rights in the Direction of a Green World.
- She has contributed to several publications and studies on the subject of flexibility mechanisms, as well as the necessity of equality and rights in climate discussions, since 1997.
- She co-edited the book Dying Wisdom: Rise, Fall and Potential of India’s Water Harvesting Systems in 1997 and promoted the idea of water harvesting. Since then, she has worked on several essays on the policy interventions required for the eco-regeneration of rural India and the alleviation of poverty.
- She co-edited The Citizens’ Fifth Report: State of India’s Environment in 1999.
- She co-edited the book Green Politics: Global Environmental Negotiations in 2000, which examines the context for rising ecological globalization and presents a negotiating agenda for the global South.
- She authored “Making Water Everyone’s Business: The Practice and Policy of Water Harvesting” in 2001.
Awards of Sunita Narain
- 2009 saw her receive the Raja-Lakshmi Award from the Chennai-based Sri Raja-Lakshmi Foundation.
- 2011—The Rotary International District 3201, Kerala, presented the Citizen of the Decade Award for 2011.
- 2011 saw the establishment of the M R Pai Memorial Award by the Mumbai-based All-India Bank Depositors’ Association.
- In 2012, the Kirloskar Vasundhara International Film Festival in Pune screened Kirloskar Vasundhara Sanman.
- 2012: University of Alberta in Canada awarded an honorary doctorate in law.
- The Energy and Environment Foundation Delhi received the 2014 Energy and Environment Foundation Global Excellence Award in Renewable Energy.
- In 2015, Business Standard presented the Public Institution of the Year award to the Centre for Science and Environment.
- In 2016, Time Magazine included Narain in their list of the 100 Most Influential People.
The IAMCR Climate Change Communication Research in Action Award was given to Narain in 2016.
- 2017: The Sri Chukkapalli Pitchaiah Foundation, based in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, established the Sri Chukkapalli Pitchaiah Foundation Award for 2017.
- Upon collecting the 2017 Sri Chukkapalli Pitchaiah Foundation Award, Sunita
- 2020: She received the Edinburgh Medal.
While accepting the Edinburgh Medal in 2020, Sunita Narain
Environmental Science’s Value
- The environment is vital to everyone since it belongs to all living things. Environmental problems, including ozone depletion, global warming, decreasing forests, energy resources, and biodiversity loss, affect everyone.
- Analysis of the processes in water, air, land, soil, and creatures that cause pollution or environmental degradation is the focus of environmental studies. It aids in setting a norm for a secure, hygienic, and stable natural ecology.
- It also addresses significant concerns, including access to clean and safe drinking water, sanitary living conditions, clean air, fertile land, nutritious food, and development.
- Environmental engineering, environmental management, and sustainable environmental legislation are emerging as environmental management and protection aspects.
While the term “mother of Indian environmental science” is not an official title, Sunita Narain’s contributions to the field cannot be understated. Her leadership, advocacy, and unwavering commitment to sustainability have impacted India’s environmental landscape indelibly. Narain’s work continues to inspire a new generation of environmentalists and serves as a testament to the power of dedicated individuals in driving positive change. As India grapples with pressing environmental challenges, Sunita Narain’s legacy serves as a guiding light, urging us all to prioritize environmental protection and sustainable development for a better future.