The Introduction gives outlines the previous debates on India’s ecological past and provides an overview of the book. In bringing together past debates, the Introduction discusses works of Ian Whitcombe, David Gilmartin, Nirmal Sengupta, the Centre for Science and Environment, David Hardiman, and Indu Agnihotri. It also discusses the four broad themes on which structure the book. The first underlines the need for a notion of ‘ecological integrity’ in order to track ecological transformation and thereby help situate the society/nature dynamic. The second theme explores the link between capitalist property and environmental change. The third theme discusses the attempts of the colonial government to overcome the crisis created by capitalist property by trying to regulate the Orissa Delta’s river system and commodifying it through the Orissa Canal Scheme of 1863.
Keywords: Ian Whitcombe, David Gilmartin, Nirmal Sengupta, Centre for Science and Environment, David Hardiman, Indu Agnihotri, ecological integrity, commodification of nature, Orissa Canal Scheme, 1863, environmental change
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