Bhaskar Vira, MA MPhil PhD
Reader in the Political Economy of Environment and Development, and Fellow of Fitzwilliam College
Environmental and development economics; political economy, particularly the study of institutions and institutional change; public policy in the developing world, especially India; state-society interactions in development.
- 1993-1994: College Lecturer in Economics, St John's College, University of Cambridge
- 1994-1997: WMI Research Fellow in Environment and Development, Oxford Centre for the Environment, Ethics and Society, Mansfield College, University of Oxford
- 1998-present: Department of Geography & Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge.
- BA (Hons) Economics, St Stephen's College, University of Delhi
- BA (Hons) Economics, St John's College, University of Cambridge (MA Cantab.)
- MPhil Economics, University of Cambridge
- PhD University of Cambridge
My research interests centre on the changing political economy of environment and development, especially in South Asia; with a particular interest in the political ecology of forests, water, food, wildlife and landuse change and the social and political context for biodiversity conservation.
I am concerned, in particular, with the often-hidden costs of environmental and developmental processes, and the need for scholarship to draw attention to the distributional consequences of public policy choices. My work focuses on the ways in which large-scale economic, societal and environmental transformations are governed, the values that frame how human societies engage with each other and with nature, and the networks of formal and informal institutions that are intertwined in everyday decision making across a variety of spatial and temporal scales. I apply a critical political economy perspective to contemporary debates in relation to ecosystem services and natural capital, and the values of nature for human wellbeing.
I have led large scale intellectual and policy-oriented projects that involve interdisciplinary conversations across the natural and social sciences. Trained as an economist, but with a portfolio of research that now engages across the critical social sciences and their interface with the biological and environmental natural sciences, I inhabit the interdisciplinary intellectual 'borderlands' of a number of disciplines (Human Geography, Development Studies, Institutional Economics, Environmental Studies and Conservation), while being firmly rooted in the political economy tradition.
I am Founding Director of the University of Cambridge Conservation Research Institute, one of the University's Interdisciplinary Research Centres. I am closely involved with the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, and the Global Food Security strategic research initiative at the University of Cambridge, and also work with the Centre for Science and Policy and the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. I am Acting Director of the Centre of South Asian Studies for the academic year 2016-17.
My research links to two thematic groups in the Department: Natures, Cultures, Knowledges; and Societies, Markets, States. I am a member of the Political Ecology research group, which meets regularly to discuss research in progress, to hear visiting speakers, or to discuss published papers.
Current and recent projects
- Unusual Suspects: what contributions can biodiversity conservation organisations make to the Sustainable Development Goals?
- Biodiversity and Natural Capital
- Governance and Accounting for the Management of Ecological Systems (GAMES)
- Developing an environmentally-adjusted Index for Multidimensional Poverty
- Ecosystem Services as a Missing Dimension of Poverty
- Framing Debates about Poverty Reduction and Ecosystem Services
- The political economy of water security, ecosystem services and livelihoods in the Western Himalayas
Completed doctoral research students
|Name||Title of thesis/research area||Results|
|Shashi Singh||The political economy of land acquisition in India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Girija Godbole||Relationships between women and land in rural society in western India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Arshiya Bose||From Ficus to Filter: The Political Ecology of Market Incentives for Biodiversity Conservation in Coffee landscapes in India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Rohini Chaturvedi||Forest Federalism: Centre-States' Negotiations and the Politics of Environment and Development in India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Tatiana Thieme||Trash and Toilets: The 'Hustle' and the Informal Economy in Mathare, Kenya||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Heather Bedi Plumridge||Contesting land, uneven development, and privilege: social movement resistance to Special Economic Zones in Goa, India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Sushil Saigal||Life and Afterlife of a Development Project: Origin, Evolution, and Outcomes of the Tree Growers' Cooperatives Project, India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Kim Beazley||Oustee Powerlessness, Pragmatism and Potential: Conservation-Induced Displacement in Central India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Deepta Chopra||National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, India: towards an understanding of policy spaces||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Philippa Williams||'Being Muslim' : everyday lived realities in urban north India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Chetan Kumar||The political ecology of deforestation in Meghalaya, India : role of 'meso-level' institutions||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Aditi Mukherjee||Political economy of groundwater markets in West Bengal : evolution, extent and impacts||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Smrithi Talwar||Empowerment in an authoritarian context? Community forestry in Myanmar (Burma) as a case study||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Jane Dyson||Faces of the forest : children's work in Uttaranchal, India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Murat Arsel||Risking development or development risks? : probing the environmental dilemmas of Turkish modernisation||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Jo Woodman||Between bureaucrats and beneficiaries: the implementation of ecodevelopement in Pench tiger reserves, India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Kathryn Tovey||Institutional responses to the water needs of the urban poor: a study of collective action in Delhi slums, India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Richard Perkins||Technology and environmental leapfrogging: three case-studies from India||Awarded Ph.D.|
|Kaveri Gill||Of poverty and markets: the political economy of informal waste recovery and plastic recycling in Delhi||Awarded Ph.D.|
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- Geographical Tripos (Undergraduate level)
- MPhil in Conservation Leadership
- MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies
International Science-Policy Panels
- IUFRO Global Forest Expert Panel on Forests and Water
- Committee on World Food Security High Level Panel of Experts report on Sustainable Forestry for Food Security and Nutrition
- IUFRO Global Forest Expert Panel on Forest and Food Security
- Human resilience to climate change and disasters: a Royal Society Working Group
- IUFRO Global Forest Expert Panel on biodiversity, forest management and REDD+
- UK National Ecosystem Assessment
- Millennium Ecosystem Assessment