River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India's Future

Oxford University Press
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India is killing the Ganges, and the Ganges in turn is killing India. The waterway that has nourished more people than any on earth for three millennia is now so polluted with sewage and toxic waste that it has become a menace to human and animal health. Victor Mallet traces the holy river from source to mouth, and from ancient times to the present day, to find that the battle to rescue what is arguably the world's most important river is far from lost. As one Hindu sage told the author in Rishikesh on the banks of the upper Ganges (known to Hindus as the goddess Ganga) - 'If Ganga dies, India dies. If Ganga thrives, India thrives. The lives of 500 million people is no small thing.' Drawing on four years of first-hand reporting and detailed historical and scientific research, Mallet delves into the religious, historical, and biological mysteries of the Ganges, and explains how Hindus can simultaneously revere and abuse their national river. Starting at the Himalayan glacier where the Ganges emerges pure and cold from an icy cave known as the Cow's Mouth and ending in the tiger-infested mangrove swamps of the Bay of Bengal, Mallet encounters everyone from the naked holy men who worship the river, to the engineers who divert its waters for irrigation, the scientists who study its bacteria, and Narendra Modi, the Hindu nationalist prime minister, who says he wants to save India's mother-river for posterity. Can they succeed in saving the river from catastrophe — or is it too late?
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About the author

Victor Mallet is a journalist and author who has reported for three decades from Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe, first for Reuters and then for the Financial Times. From 2012 to 2016 he was based in New Delhi as the FT South Asia Bureau Chief, and is currently in Hong Kong as Asia News Editor. His highly praised book on the south-east Asian industrial revolution and the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis, The Trouble with Tigers (HarperCollins), was first published in 1999. He twice won the Society of Publishers in Asia award for opinion writing. In India, he was twice awarded the Ramnath Goenka correspondent's award for excellence in journalism in 2012 for a feature about the rise of Narendra Modi, and in 2015 for a magazine cover story on the Ganges.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Oct 20, 2017
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9780191089442
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Asia / General
History / Asia / India & South Asia
History / General
History / Historical Geography
Nature / Ecology
Science / Global Warming & Climate Change
Travel / Essays & Travelogues
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Environmental history has evolved into a well-established historical subfield which has broadened the horizons of historical research, beyond human affairs, to include the study of human interactions with natural and man-made environments. This broadened scope has attracted scholars from many different fields; a development which is reflected by this volume as it highlights the recent studies on East Asian environmental history by scholars of History, Economic History, Political ecology, Sociology and Environmental Studies.

This book examines the local realities and environmental changes in East Asia, and is one of a few publications in English on the subject. Contributors apply rich historical material, maps and statistical data to reveal the local environmental realities infused by global perspectives. Part I deals with attitude toward nature, focusing on the soundscape conceived by traditional Chinese literati and on "industrious revolution" in Tokugawa Japan. Part II includes four case studies which respectively discuss the hydraulic management and political ecology in the Yongle reign (1403-1424), the "Woosung Bar" controversy in the 1870s, the expansion of Daihaizi Reservoir in Xinjiang in the 1950s, and interactions between the indigenous communities and NGOs in Hualien, Taiwan. Part III presents case studies of Japan dealing with natural disasters: volcano eruption, floods, and the human actions around Tokyo since the eighteenth century. These chapters and the insights they offer provide the reader with the most recent research on East Asian environmental history.

Covering the geographical areas of Japan, North and Northwest China, the Lower Yangzi Delta and Taiwan, and the timeframe spanning the seventh century BC to the present day, the book will be of great interest to anyone studying the history of East Asia, environmental history or environmental studies.

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"In Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, Roy Scranton draws on his experiences in Iraq to confront the grim realities of climate change. The result is a fierce and provocative book."--Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

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