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Indian social science neglects climate change
  • Indian social science neglects climate change

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  • Indian social science neglects climate change

  • Social science's role limited to communication

  • Inter-disciplinary studies wanting

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[NEW DELHI] Climate change and environment are low priority areas for India's social scientists because of inadequate funding, says a new UNESCO report.
 
According to the UNESCO World Social Science Report 2013, the volume of social science research around environment and climate change has, since 1990, been lower in India than in other parts of the world, despite a rise in international funding during the period.
 
The report observes that such institutions as the University Grants Commission, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Indian Council of Medical Research and the Indian Council of Social Science Research do not identify climate change and global environmental change as primary areas of research.
 
Climate change is largely perceived to be a natural science domain and contributions by social scientists go unrecognised, the report says.
 
Social science is largely seen as a support for research agendas and problems framed in the natural sciences, and to help communicate findings and bridge the divide between science and policy.
 
While some areas like the impact of climate change on tropical storms, the monsoon, agricultural production and sea level rise on India's coastline have received the attention of social scientists, others such as droughts, floods and deforestation have been neglected.
 
Dinesh Abrol, professor at the Centre for Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, tells SciDev.Net that the report could have considered the numerous studies bringing out concepts arising from climate change negotiations, such as carbon debt and historical responsibility.
 
Abrol also says that many earlier studies on droughts and floods do not mention climate change. 
 
Rajeswari Raina, a scientist at the National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies, Delhi, attributes the slow growth of social science research on climate change to a lack of understanding of the phenomenon. 
 
“Most social scientists in India lack the ability to conduct interdisciplinary studies which are required in climate change," Raina says.
 
For example, says Raina, the logic for tackling climate change is heavily dominated by the economic argument of productivity reduction. "The logic of human sufferings from environment and climate change is lacking."  

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