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New books – Soils for life

State of India’s Livelihoods Report 2014

ACCESS Development Services, December 2014, 124 p., Rs. 545.00, Paperback, ISBN: 9780199458271

The State of India’s Livelihoods Report (SOIL Report) is an annual publication that documents recent trends and challenges faced in the sphere of livelihoods promotion of the poor. It is one of the few annual documents that aggregates the experiences and challenges of the livelihoods sector, analyses case studies, and reports on policy paradigm, new initiatives, and evidence on results of both government and privately run programmes. The 2014 edition of the SOIL Report looks at the changes taking place in the sectors that are generating livelihood opportunities for the poor. Analysing the major patterns and shifts in policies and programmes that are impacting livelihoods of specific communities that suffer from social exclusion, marginalization, and multiple deprivations, it discusses important government policies centring around livelihoods promotion and protection and analyses the depth and width of two flagship poverty reduction programmes—the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme and the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (Aajeevika). It attempts to give a glimpse of growth of collective action fuelled by the growth of Farmers’ Producers Organization and global experiences including the ‘theory of change’ and recommends possible improvements for greater effectiveness. The report also captures the new developments in the realm of Corporate Social Responsibility consequent to the introduction of a new policy and its implications on livelihoods promotion. It looks at the role of livelihoods finance to bridge the difference between Bharat and India. Most importantly, the report captures the gradual shift in policy direction with a new government in power at the centre.

The Political Ecology of Climate Change Adaptation: Livelihoods, agrarian change and the conflicts of development

Marcus Taylor, 2015, Routledge, Routledge Explorations in Development Studies, 206 p, $140.00, ISBN:978-0-415-70381-9

This book provides the first systematic critique of the concept of climate change adaptation within the field of international development. Drawing on a reworked political ecology framework, it argues that climate is not something ‘out there’ that we adapt to. Instead, it is part of the social and biophysical forces through which our lived environments are actively yet unevenly produced. From this original foundation, the book challenges us to rethink the concepts of climate change, vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity in transformed ways. With case studies drawn from Pakistan, India and Mongolia, it demonstrates concretely how climatic change emerges as a dynamic force in the ongoing transformation of contested rural landscapes. In crafting this synthesis, the book recalibrates the frameworks we use to envisage climatic change in the context of contemporary debates over development, livelihoods and poverty.With its unique theoretical contribution and case study material, this book will appeal to researchers and students in environmental studies, sociology, geography, politics and development studies.

Ecocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities

Steffen Böhm, Zareen Pervez Bharucha, Jules Pretty (Eds), 2014, Spon Press, www.TaylorandFrancis.com, $59.95, 296 p, ISBN: 978-0-415-81285-6

The world faces a ‘perfect storm’ of social and ecological stresses, including climate change, habitat loss, resource degradation and social, economic and cultural change. In order to cope with these, communities are struggling to transition to sustainable ways of living that improve well-being and increase resilience. This book demonstrates how communities in both developed and developing countries are already taking action to maintain or build resilient and sustainable lifestyles. These communities, here designated as ‘Ecocultures’, are exemplars of the art and science of sustainable living. Though they form a diverse group, they organise themselves around several common organising principles including an ethic of care for nature, a respect for community, high ecological knowledge, and a desire to maintain and improve personal and social wellbeing.