Anurag Behar, corporate vice-president, social and community initiatives at Wipro Ltd, never loses a chance to spread the word. Behar thinks Earth Day is as good a time as any to brush up on your green quotient. “The key problem is not the availability of solutions, but an inadequate understanding of the depth of the problems,” he says. Here are his favourite reads:
• Robert Cotanza et al ‘The Value of the World’s Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital’(from the journal ‘Nature’): Since we may still want to put a dollar value to all that cannot be valued by dollars.
• Leo Tolstoy’s ‘How Much Land Does a Man Need?’: Master of the grand novel, he is also a master of the short story. At heart Tolstoy was the humanist that a lot of us want to be.
• Garrett Hardin’s ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’ (from the journal ‘Science’): Simple, short, specific…and broad.
• EF Schumacher’s ‘Small is Beautiful’: Read it for its prescient nature. Read every sentence—because each sentence seems to have greater immediate meaning 35 years after he wrote it. Read it despite its curious fascination with things like Burma. Read it (above all) so that it may make you read Gandhi, rather than merely having an opinion about him. And perhaps Buddha too.
• Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’: Read it for, how a single issue can capture the essence of our dilemmas. Read it for the remarkable resonance of its title. Read it in tribute to her courage.
More books we like
• ‘Varieties of Environmentalism’ (Ramachandra Guha and Juan Martinez-Alier): Is environmentalism only for the rich and the elite? A collection of essays, which analyses the differences between the two.
• ‘Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed’ (Jared M Diamond): A classic on how environmental neglect has brought down ancient civilizations.
• ‘Environmental issues in India: A reader’ (Mahesh Rangarajan): India’s most eminent environmental intellectuals and thinkers trace environmental issues from pre-colonial India and end with India’s place in the globe’s environmental issues.
• ‘Nature and the Orient: The Environmental History of South and Southeast Asia’ (Richard H Grove, Vinita Damodaran, Satpal Sangwan): A history of forest management and indigenous societies in the region.
• ‘Waterscapes: The cultural politics of a natural resource’ (Amita Baviskar): A key book about the most critical resource of this century.