Cognitive processes and policy discourses underpinning the Ganges pollution and degradation

Faculty: Yashpal Jogdand

Dr Yashpal Jogdand is part of an international team involving collaboration between political scientists and social psychologists from Lund University, Sweden, Keele University, UK, and IIT Delhi that has been awarded over 4440000 Swedish Krona (nearly 3 crore and 25 lakh rupees) from the Swedish Research Council to study cognitive processes and policy discourses regarding the Ganges pollution and degradation across India and Bangladesh.

The Ganges forms a significant part of the sacred geography of South Asia, particularly to Hindus, while at the same time millions of people depend on it for daily sustenance. These paradoxical attitudes towards the Ganges and not only influences the policy discourses of India and Bangladesh seeking to govern and promote sustainable water management, but also affects how individuals and communities relate to the usage and welfare of the river. The project will examine cognitive processes and policy discourses implicated in the tension between religious versus secular meanings attached to the Ganges River, and the impact that this tension has on the management of pollution and degradation of the river. 

The project consists of two components. The first will examine attempts in India and Bangladesh to make the Ganges integral to development efforts and nation building, and the extent to which these relate to the basic tension, while the second will examine how individual- and country-level value and belief systems underpin religious versus secular assumptions about the Ganges, and in turn its pollution. The researchers will aim to understand the ways in which disparate ideas about the river are reflected in state activities and in lay beliefs, and where they can find overlaps and inconsistencies between levels of analysis within and between the two countries.

This project brings together researchers across disciplinary and national boundaries to address pertinent challenges faced by South Asian societies – in this case the intersections of identity, ideology, water management, and pollution. The findings from the research will contribute to existing knowledge about natural resource management across borders, but also inform interventions seeking to increase awareness of and reduce Ganges pollution.