Phase I– Ideation, Concept Generation & Validation (2010-2011)

Unbridled population explosion, finitude of global resources and equally increasing pressure of energy dependence and forces of emulative globalization in the developing part of the world make it indispensible to engage with solutions and strategies that have to be adopted as innovations rather than emulated as conventions by newly developing regions of the world like North-East India. The choices made by these regions are fundamental to the understanding and implementation of solutions towards global sustainability. Based on a number of research interventions and engagement with institutions, organizations and projects in this area, GISDP was conceptualized as an initiative to address primary areas of sustainability concerns for North East India.

Our study reflected three primary areas of concern:

Firstly, the region exhibits high vulnerability to ethnic conflict and violence that has over the years matured into insurgency and global terrorism. North East India has recorded a high density of ethnic conflict for the last two decades and is currently known to house the largest number of insurgent groups in India, all claiming ethnic sovereignty and secession from Indian Nationhood. A part of the ethnic question also arises from the illegal immigration of Muslim population from the impoverished regions of the neighboring country of Bangladesh. The ethnic identities are very often colored through religious differences.

Secondly, North-East is situated in a highly sensitive seismic-zone of the world and is vulnerable to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. For example, Majuli, the world’s most vulnerable riverine island, is almost at the point of extinction due to river erosion. It houses a wealth of biocultural and archaeological archive of traditional knowledge belonging to the ‘Satras’ monasteries of the medieval Hindu sect of vaishnavs. These monasteries were established by the greatly revered saint Shankardev.

Thirdly, North-East India, being one of the richest bio-diversity hotspots in the world, requires a strategic planning for sustainable utilization of its natural resources through a comprehensive plan for natural resource management, disaster management, harvesting of its indigenous and local knowledge base for economic growth and human development. In this regard, conventional understanding of ethnic conflict based on identity assertion and indigenous rights has to now make way for a more integrated and systemic approach to analyzing conflict by emphasizing on ecosystem management, indigenous knowledge systems, education, health, equity, poverty, land rights and other special problems of marginalized people.

Activities and Events

Case study-II of Avalon Springs Ecovillage, Napa Valley, CaliforniaAssessment and follow-up of the development plan for sustainable ecotourism.Nov 2011
Fieldwork on “Ecotourism in Kerala: A sustainable business option at Alleppey”The fieldwork was undertaken to evaluate the socio-economic impact of commercial tourism in Kerala, one of the richest destinations in India in terms of local resources, both natural and human.May 2011
Symposium on “Sustainability: Issues and Challenges for the Developing World” organized by NECRDThe objective of the symposium was to unearth the challenges in constructing a shared vision of Sustainability as a universal concern that transcends fractured interests such as local vs. global, developed vs. developing, eco-centrism vs. anthropocentrism etc.March 9th, 2011
Prestigious US-India Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship awarded to Dr. Sujata Dutta Hazarika, Deputy-Director NECRD and Co-Founder GISDPUnited States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) awarded the Fulbright fellowship to Dr. Hazarika to enable her to conduct research on ‘De-Constructing Sustainability: Questioning Ideas of Growth and Consciousness’ at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI), University of California, Berkeley.August-December 2010
Fieldwork conducted on Sustainable Livelihood Practices in San Francisco Bay AreaThe California counties of Santa Clara (San Jose), Alameda (Berkeley) and Napa were surveyed through participant observation to assess the level of permeation of a value consensus about sustainable forms of living manifested through concepts of Ecocity and green urban development planning, Ecovillage initiatives, organic agricultural practices such as Farmers Markets and other human activities in one of the most technologically and economically advanced regions of the world.August-September 2010
Case study-I of Avalon Springs Ecovillage, Napa Valley, CaliforniaAvalon Springs Ecovillage resort was chosen as a case study for fieldwork to study the compatibility of Ecovillage living with modern capitalism in USNov 2010
UC Berkeley Dow Sustainability Innovation Challenge 2010 Honors mention award to Saurabh Garg, Co-Founder GISDPGarg was awarded for his proposal on “Greening the Industrial Production Environment”.May 2010
NECRD’s 1st Annual National Conference on Sustainability: “Indigenous Technology, Livelihood Options and Habitat Utilization: Concepts and Perspectives of Development”The key objective of the conference was to document and compile new applications and models, research and interventions in North-East India which establish the region’s significance in the global discourse of Sustainability.November 22-24, 2009