Policy Engagements and Blogs

Clearing the Air Seminar Series: ‘Lessons from the Ground: Civic Engagement with Air Pollution

August 13, 2018

Watch the full video (above) of the tenth event in the Clearing the Air? Seminar Series: ‘Lessons from the Ground: Civic Engagement with Air Pollution’.

The discussion was held on August 8, 2018, and the speakers included Dr Rohit Negi, Ambedkar University; Ashutosh Dikshit, URJA and Chetan Bhattacharji, NDTV. The panel was moderated by Dr Navroz K Dubash, Professor, CPR.

The panel discussed the changing nature of public engagement with the issue of air quality over the years. Dr Rohit Negi while presenting his research findings as part of the Asthma Files project, discussed the key differences between the activism of late 1990s and post-2014. He emphasised the need to identify and prioritise particularly stressed populations and areas. Ashutosh Dikshit reflected on the (false) assumption that the public wants to engage with the issue. According to him, air pollution, though important, is one of the many issues that people have to deal with, and therefore several factors are considered before prioritising actions. He underscored the importance of effective administrative mechanisms to citizen-led initiatives. Chetan Bhattacharji discussed the media’s role in creating narratives around air pollution that can ensure its regular coverage and resonate with the public, and proposed increased collaborations across stakeholders and involvement of school children to keep the issue live and central to public debate.

The question and answer session that followed the panel discussion can be accessed here.

Videos and other information about previous events in the Series can be found here.

About the Speakers

Dr Rohit Negi is an associate professor of urban studies at Ambedkar University, New Delhi. Trained as an urban planner and geographer, Negi has been a collaborator on The Asthma Files project since 2016, which brings together scholars and practitioners to advance understanding and efforts to address environmental public health challenges.

Ashutosh Dikshit is the CEO of United Residents Joint Action (URJA), the Apex body of Resident Welfare Associations of Delhi. URJA, established in 2005, represents a collective strength of almost 2500 RWAs that look after the interests of almost 5 million residents. Both as the head of URJA and as a concerned and proactive citizen of Delhi, Ashutosh has been involved in a range of actions aimed at improving the lives of common citizens. In 2013, he founded the Citizens’ Alliance, along with economists, architects, researchers, lawyers and professionals. Both URJA and Citizens’ Alliance have carried out peaceful public agitations by rallying RWAs and the common citizens of Delhi.

Chetan Bhattacharji is Managing Editor, NDTV. As a journalist with more than 20 years of experience in broadcast news, Chetan has led multiple teams on content development, analytics, and operations.

The Clearing the Air? Seminar Series, organised by the Initiative on Climate, Energy and Environment (ICEE) at the Centre for Policy Research (CPR), aims to promote sustained and informed public understanding around the data, impacts, sources and policy challenges involved in clearing Delhi’s air. While it focuses on the context of Delhi, the series also reflects on the fact that the problem extends far beyond Delhi. The seminar series presents the work of experts in a range of areas to help promote informed public discussion about what changes are needed, what is possible, and how to get it done. Clearing the air in terms of knowledge and public information, we hope, will make a small contribution toward actually clearing Delhi’s air. Information about previous events held as part of the series can be found here.