Best books on environment and sustainability in India

Best books on Environment and Sustainability in India
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Today, environment and sustainability concerns grow more and more urgent with every passing day, and the planet and species get closer to extinction. In such a case, literature plays a crucial role, not just in highlighting the urgency of the situation, but also acting as an educational medium.

When it comes to Indian literature, there are hundreds of books written over the years that successfully capture a few or several aspects of the complex environment and sustainability issues that plague the country.

If you enjoyed reading this, you might want to check out the different booklists on our website.

Let’s look at some of the best books on environment and sustainability in an Indian context.

From personal narratives to scientific research, these books present the underlying issues that highlight the graveness of the situation while also explaining the various aspects of it. Whether you’re a student or a curious reader or a researcher, I’m certain these books would help you in many ways.

Islands in Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story

Title: Islands in Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story

Author: Pankaj Sekhsaria

Publisher: HarperLitmus

Price: 382

Pages: 304


This book serves as a valuable resource, offering readers a consolidated and comprehensive account of the key issues that have shaped the islands’ landscape and communities. Sekhsaria’s astute observations and deep understanding of the region provide readers with unique insights and perspectives on the islands’ life and challenges.

Islands in Flux not only acts as a map of the region, guiding readers through the complexities of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but also presents a framework for the way forward. Sekhsaria skillfully navigates through the delicate balance between conservation, development, and sustainability, encouraging readers to contemplate the future of this beautiful yet fragile island chain.

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The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis

Title: The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis

Author: Prerna Singh Bindra

Publisher: Penguin

Price: 487

Pages: 320


The Vanishing presents a poignant and unflinching examination of the ecological crisis facing India’s wildlife. As our planet grapples with the alarming loss of over 150 species each year, India finds itself amidst this mass ‘sixth extinction.’ The book sheds light on the disheartening reality of disappearing species, from the once abundant sparrows in our backyards to iconic creatures like the great Indian bustards and flamingoes on the brink of extinction.


Through compelling storytelling, the author deconstructs the human-wildlife conflict, painting a vivid picture of wild elephants as peaceable creatures and weaving a beautiful narrative of their bond with their protectors. In the face of the relentless development versus environment debate dominating headlines, the book reveals the inherent threats posed by the ‘development at all costs’ model to our ecological and economic security.

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Green Growth

Title: Green Growth

Author: Arun Firodia

Publisher: Vishwakarma Publications

Price: 181

Pages: 164


Through his in-depth study, research, and entrepreneurial experience, Firodia explores the key facets of climate change and how various sectors, including domestic consumption, transport, public utilities, and more, contribute to its escalation. The book delves into the pressing question of finding effective solutions to these challenges, with a particular focus on making Pune a carbon-neutral city.

Firodia’s insights provide valuable guidance for policymakers, business leaders, and individuals alike, highlighting the need for sustainable practices and emphasizing the role of innovative approaches in achieving green growth. By presenting a balanced approach that considers both economic and environmental considerations, Green Growth offers a roadmap for fostering sustainable development in India and beyond.

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The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable

Title: The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable

Author: Amitav Ghosh

Publisher: Penguin

Price: 199

Pages: 284


With a gripping and dynamic writing style, Ghosh calls upon us to envision alternative forms of human existence, urging us to confront the climate crisis head-on. He argues that fiction, with its capacity to engage and transport us, holds the key to exploring these other possibilities. Ghosh’s deep understanding of the power of storytelling shines through, making a compelling case for the vital role of literature in shaping our responses to this unparalleled challenge.

The Great Derangement serves as a clarion call, demanding that we confront the most urgent task of our time. Ghosh’s brilliant summons resonates with both urgency and hope, urging readers to transcend our complacency and take immediate action. With his commanding prose, Ghosh navigates the complex intersections of culture, politics, and environment, revealing the profound interconnectedness of our global predicament.

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Climate Justice in India: Volume 1

Title: Climate Justice in India: Volume 1

Author: Edited by Prakash Kashwan

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Price: 1294

Pages: 230


Climate Justice in India provides a comprehensive examination of the justice implications surrounding the societal and economic impacts of climate change in a global hotspot. This brilliant book goes beyond surface-level analysis by delving into the historical, social, economic, and political factors that contribute to India’s vulnerability to climate-related challenges. With a sharp focus on climate justice, the book emphasizes the urgent need for collective democratic deliberations and action.

By synthesizing a wide range of perspectives and research, the authors offer a nuanced understanding of the complex issues at play here. They highlight the interconnectedness of climate change with issues of inequality, poverty, and social justice in India. The book serves as an important resource for policymakers, researchers, and activists, providing a research and policy agenda that can guide meaningful action.

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The Climate Solution: India's Climate Change Crisis and What We Can Do About It

Title: The Climate Solution: India's Climate Change Crisis and What We Can Do About It

Author: Mridula Ramesh

Publisher: Hachette India

Price: 550

Pages: 336


Throughout the book, Ramesh shines a spotlight on the inspiring stories of climate warriors from diverse backgrounds and regions. From the emerald fields of Punjab to the water-starved city of Bengaluru, she unveils the ingenious strategies employed by these unsung heroes to combat and even reverse the effects of climate change. These stories paint a vivid tapestry of resilience and innovation, breathing life into a movement that is steadily gaining momentum.


With meticulous research and an engaging narrative, Ramesh strips away the cloak of helplessness that often engulfs us when faced with the enormity of the problem. She dissects the intimate dynamics of how shifting weather patterns ravage India, but amidst the storm, she ignites hope.


She beckons us to confront the urgent need for change and embrace our roles as stewards of the Earth. This book is a rallying cry, a call to arms for individuals deeply invested in transforming our story, preparing us to forge a more sustainable and harmonious path forward.

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Who Really Feeds the World?: The Failures of Agribusiness and the Promise of Agroecology

Title: Who Really Feeds the World?: The Failures of Agribusiness and the Promise of Agroecology

Author: Vandana Shiva

Publisher: North Atlantic Books

Price: 907

Pages: 192


In a time when globalized food systems dominate, Shiva presents a compelling case for localization—a movement that reconnects communities with their food sources and promotes resilience and self-sufficiency. Furthermore, she underscores the invaluable role of women in food production, highlighting their contributions and emphasizing the urgent need to address gender inequalities in agriculture.


Drawing upon her three decades of groundbreaking research and tireless advocacy, Shiva presents a powerful manifesto that calls for agricultural justice and genuine sustainability. With conviction, she dismantles the flawed notions that have led us astray and offers a compelling alternative: agroecology. This transformative approach recognizes the intricate interconnectedness of our food systems and celebrates the life-giving potential of working with nature rather than against it.

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Elemental India: The Natural World at a Time of Crisis and Opportunity

Title: Elemental India: The Natural World at a Time of Crisis and Opportunity

Author: Meera Subramanian

Publisher: HarperLitmus

Price: 390

Pages: 352


In a time when the future of our planet hangs in the balance, Elemental India offers a ray of hope. It is a reminder that by embracing our interconnectedness with nature and by working together, we can forge a path towards a sustainable and prosperous future for all. Meera Subramanian has crafted a necessary and timely book that will leave you both enlightened and inspired to take action.


Drawing on her extensive research, Subramanian introduces us to a side of India that is often misunderstood by the West. Through her narratives, we meet ordinary individuals who are on a quest to create a greener and happier future for themselves and their fellow citizens. From an engineer-turned-farmer championing organic food to villagers reviving a once-dry river, each story is a testament to the resilience and determination of the human spirit.

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From Soup to Superstar

Title: From Soup to Superstar

Author: Kartik Shanker

Publisher: HarperLitmus

Price: 478

Pages: 368


While tigers, elephants, and lions have dominated discussions on wildlife conservation in India, the marine habitats and species have often been neglected. From Soup to Superstar fills this gap by providing a deep exploration of the conservation efforts surrounding sea turtles, which have been intertwined with folklore, mythology, and cultural traditions for over two millennia.


The text is a compelling blend of science, culture, and conservation. It not only educates us about the challenges faced by marine ecosystems and the interplay between humans and wildlife but also instills a sense of awe and respect for the natural world. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the intricacies of marine conservation efforts and the extraordinary journey of sea turtles in India.

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Title: Environmentalism

Author: Ramachandra Guha

Publisher: Penguin Random House India

Price: 279

Pages: 248


Guha profiles prominent thinkers such as John Muir, Mahatma Gandhi, Rachel Carson, and Octavia Hill, highlighting their profound contributions to the environmental movement. He also examines transformative movements like the Chipko Andolan and the German Greens, revealing their impact and significance within their respective contexts.


As a renowned environmental historian, Guha delves into the major trends, ideas, campaigns, and influential figures that have shaped the course of environmentalism worldwide. It is an indispensable resource for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the global environmental movement and its profound implications.

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Conflicts of Interest: My Journey Through India’s Green Movement

Title: Conflicts of Interest: My Journey Through India’s Green Movement

Author: Sunita Narain

Publisher: Penguin Viking

Price: 377

Pages: 240


With her narrative, Narain sheds light on the environmental challenges that plague the country while delving into the obstacles encountered in the pursuit of effective solutions. She exposes the influence of corporate lobbies and political interests that impede progress, providing a thought-provoking examination of the systemic forces at play. Through compelling narratives, she recounts controversies triggered by her research, such as the groundbreaking report on pesticides in colas and the study on air pollution in Delhi. 


The book aptly book captures the urgent environmental issues facing India and the world. Her personal stories and deep understanding of the subject matter further make this book an engaging read for anyone interested in environmental activism and corporate accountability.

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The (Im)Perfectly Zero Waste

Title: The (Im)Perfectly Zero Waste

Author: Srini & Shubhashree

Publisher: Hachette India

Price: 319

Pages: 264


Srini and Shubhashree tackle India’s impending waste crisis head-on, providing a refreshing and accessible guide to sustainable living, specifically tailored to urban dwellers. With research predicting India to become the world’s largest waste contributor by 2048, the urgency to take action is palpable, and this book serves as a timely call to action.


By emphasizing that small steps can make a significant difference, they empower you to take meaningful action. Their approach is refreshingly free from jargon, making the book accessible to a wide range of readers who are eager to contribute to the planet’s well-being.

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Flood and Fury: Ecological Devastation in the Western Ghats

Title: Flood and Fury: Ecological Devastation in the Western Ghats

Author: Viju B.

Publisher: Penguin eBury Press

Price: 275

Pages: 296


Viju B. takes you on a journey through the Western Ghats, uncovering the alarming consequences of large-scale mining, quarrying, deforestation, and mismanagement of water resources. As the book looks into the region’s culture, history, and ecology, it also paints a landscape of the interconnectedness of these factors and their impact on the sustainability of both the environment and the people who depend on it.

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Green Wars: Dispatches from a Vanishing World

Title: Green Wars: Dispatches from a Vanishing World

Author: Bahar Dutt

Publisher: HarperCollins

Price: 360

Pages: 183


Dutt takes you on a journey to varied locations, from the Arctic to Arunachal Pradesh, Goa to Gangotri. Through her experienced traveler’s eye, she unveils the complex web of environmental concerns, shedding light on the vital trade-offs that society faces. Whether it’s the construction of a modern airport in rural Uttar Pradesh or the conservation of the habitat of sarus cranes, Dutt forces us to confront the difficult choices that must be made.


Dutt navigates the intersection of development, environment, conservation, and global warming, unraveling the consequences of these issues for the people living on the ground. Through anecdotes, Dutt brings to life the personal stories and struggles of those affected by these conflicts. The book offers a unique blend of scientific insights and human experiences, revealing the tangible impact that these decisions have on individuals and communities.

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Our Toxic World: A Guide to Hazardous Substances in our Everyday Lives

Title: Our Toxic World: A Guide to Hazardous Substances in our Everyday Lives

Author: Toxics Link

Publisher: Sage India

Price: 225

Pages: 180


With a focus on the mode of development that has shaped our world, both globally and in India, the author exposes the alarming reality of our surroundings. From the air we breathe to the products we use daily, toxic substances have become an inescapable part of our lives. However, Our Toxic World goes beyond simply raising awareness about the problem. It goes a step further by offering practical alternatives and suggestions that empower you to make informed choices for a healthier and safer future.


The strength of this book lies in its ability to provide viable alternatives and solutions. It offers a guide that empowers you to make positive changes in your lives and surroundings. By suggesting alternative routes and highlighting safer options, the book empowers you to take control of your physical well-being and make a positive impact on their environment.

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The Wildest Sport of All

Title: The Wildest Sport of All

Author: Prakash Singh

Publisher: HarperCollins

Price: 1147

Pages: 208


This is a journey into the world of tiger hunting in India, with a first-hand account of a sport that once held popularity before its eventual ban in the 1970s. Narrated by an expert shikari, the book immerses readers in the thrilling adventures that unfolded in the dense forests of the Kumaon and Garhwal mountains in north India.


While the book delves into stories of narrow escapes, unsolved mysteries, and the patient pursuit of tiger sightings, its intention is not to glorify hunting. On the contrary, it seeks to recreate a specific era of lawful and regulated shikar, where the shikari formed a close connection with nature. By weaving together the multivaried narratives with sensitivity, the author allows readers to experience the visceral thrill of the chase without resorting to cheap thrills or sensationalism.

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Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities

Title: Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities

Author: Harini Nagendra and Seema Mundoli

Publisher: Penguin Viking

Price: 420

Pages: 256


From native species deeply rooted in Indian soil to exotic imports, from trees with sacred significance to those cherished for their culinary or ornamental value, each tree carries a unique story. They serve as living testaments to the passage of time, evoking the memories and experiences of generations past. Like an urban tapestry, trees are intertwined with the very fabric of cities, their trunks standing tall as pillars, their bark adding texture, and their branches offering precious shade.


Cities and Canopies” takes you on a beautiful journey through this rich tapestry of urban trees, uncovering their hidden stories and exploring their contributions to the urban ecosystem. The book weaves together specific examples with broader insights, offering a thorough understanding of these life-giving entities that grace our cities.

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The Great Smog of India

Title: The Great Smog of India

Author: Siddharth Singh

Publisher: Penguin Viking

Price: 399

Pages: 272


Singh highlights the gravity of the situation during the Great Smog of India, which descends upon northern India each winter, subjecting the population to air quality equivalent to smoking a pack of cigarettes daily. The severity is such that emergency health advisories warn people against venturing outdoors. Despite the dire circumstances, many continue with a business-as-usual attitude, failing to recognize the magnitude of the crisis.


The book lays bare the harsh reality faced by Indian families trapped in a vicious cycle of hospital visits, deteriorating health, and financial struggles caused by the pernicious effects of air pollution. It shines a spotlight on the long-term consequences for children born in highly polluted areas, whose reduced lung function and cognitive abilities hinder their potential and future earnings. He shows how, only by addressing these underlying dynamics, can we hope to make a meaningful impact on emissions and safeguard the health and well-being of future generations.

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Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent

Title: Indica: A Deep Natural History of the Indian Subcontinent

Author: Pranay Lal

Publisher: Penguin Random House India

Price: 1197

Pages: 384


In this groundbreaking book, biochemist Pranay Lal takes readers on an enthralling journey spanning millions of years, unraveling the fascinating story of the land that we now call India.


From the awe-inspiring rock-cut caves of Ellora, formed during cataclysmic lava floods that potentially wiped out dinosaurs, to the intriguing climatic heritage of Bengaluru shaped by ancient tectonic events, the book reveals an array of astonishing discoveries.


You’re also introduced to the Rajasaurus, an Indian dinosaur that may have been even more fearsome than the famous T rex. These extraordinary findings, along with others such as 70-million-year-old crocodile eggs in Mumbai and the dinosaur nesting grounds near Ahmedabad, contribute to a captivating tapestry of India’s natural history.

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The Himalayan Arc: Journeys East of South-East

Title: The Himalayan Arc: Journeys East of South-East

Author: Edited by Namita Gokhale

Publisher: HarperCollins India

Price: 470

Pages: 352


The anthology presents a mosaic of literary genres, blending poetry, fiction, mysticism, essays, photographs, folk tales, and fables. Each piece contributes to a broader narrative that sheds light on the intricate narrative of the Himalayan belt. The collection captures the essence of a trans-Himalayan identity, highlighting the enduring connections between the people who inhabit these majestic mountains.

Through the contributions of writers such as Janice Pariat, Salil Tripathi, Prajwal Parajuly, and many others, you embark on profound journey into the region’s rich concoction of stories. The essays cover a wide range of topics, including diplomacy, espionage, insurgency, and the socio-political landscape of various cities. The anthology also provides portraits of notable places like Shillong, Gangtok, Darjeeling, and unveils hidden aspects of life in the region that are often overshadowed by mainstream narratives.

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Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh Mukherjee

Amritesh doesn't know what to do with his life, so he writes. He also doesn't know what to write, so he reads. Gift him a book if you chance upon him and he'll love you forever.

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