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EPW published a review of Dean's book 'Air'

Blog Post1 min read

The Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) recently published a review of Dean’s new book “Air: Pollution, Climate Change and India’s Choice Between Policy and Pretence”. The review was published in the edition dated April 17th 2021 and was written by Santosh Harish. The author is a researcher in energy and environment policy and currently works as a Fellow with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. The author describes the book as one “that manages to be both accessible and engaging to the uninitiated, while offering new perspectives and arguments for the converted.”

Some excerpts from the review can be found below.

“Two themes surface repeatedly in this book. First, Spears argues that the notion of a tradeoff between development and environment is vastly overstated, and especially when we consider the impacts of pollution exposure on early childhood development, the two converge. Second,he discusses how governments often engage in the pretence of appearing to be serious about environment, while doing little in practice to make substantive progress. Both these themes have important implications on sustaining progress on environmental outcomes in the coming years.”

“Environmental policy is often characterised by symbolic measures and grand declarations that are not followed up in practice. As the book points out, policy pretence is not restricted to the environment, but welfare outcomes in other spheres often improve despite the government, given the larger global advances in technology and commerce. Unfortunately, there is no real substitute for the state in regulating against polluting activities. Since environmental degradation is an externality of economic activities, “environment policy requires navigating the ship of state against the current, not with it”.”

“The book draws extensively from the environmental economics literature, and especially the author’s own body of work with his collaborators. As a result, the book also provides a peek into quasi-experimental methods to investigate the effects of pollution on health. This could be especially valuable for researchers and government officials approaching air pollution from other vantage points. Notably, most of the research cited here is based in India.”

“One crucial difference between India and other countries that have had to deal with air pollution is its much weaker state capacity. Or as the author puts it, “India is tasked with regulating pollu- tion on a 21st century scale with a 19th century regulatory state”. “

You can read the full review of the book here!

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r.i.c.e. is a non-profit research organization focused on health and well-being in India. Our core focus is on children in rural north India. Our research studies health care at the start of life, sanitation, air pollution, maternal health, social inequality, and other dimensions of population-level social wellbeing.

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