Climate change has increasingly become a key facet of politics, media and academia, becoming a buzzword around the world. While significant attention has been devoted to international climate change negotiations (e.g. Paris UNFCCC conference 2016), analysing national and sub-national level policies is crucial to gauge how effective the policies are at the grassroots level. Placing this dimension in the context of how, much of the limelight has been on EU and US climate policies inspired me to investigate the climate change policies in the developing world (specifically Asia) targeting three large economies: India, China and Indonesia.
As soon as I delved into the literature and policy briefs for India, China and Indonesia I quickly realised the depth of material and diversity within it and the challenges that will be posed in trying to comprehensively cover all three countries. I then decided to change the focus of the project just to India, as attempting to cover all three would lead to a broad-stroke analysis. After a discussion with my supervisor I finally decided to focus on India.
By focusing on one country I was able to explore India’s climate change national policies through different spatial scales: national, regional and local. Additionally, as I spent the entire summer in India I was able to conduct valuable primary research in the form of interviews more than I had originally envisaged.
Not only did I have to adapt my research topic during the course of the internship but also my research methods. The prominence of interviews posed a different challenge: sticking to the timeline I had set myself for completing different sections of the project. As I interviewed senior officials (CEO/Director) it was difficult to organise the interviews according to my convenience and project dates. Thus in all elements of this project, flexibility and and open mindset was crucial to mould the project to a new shape, which in my opinion has allowed me to learn about India’s climate change policy environment in a more constructive, engaging and comprehensive manner. Incorporating interviews in my project also allowed me to gauge, albeit at a preliminary level, the effectiveness of national policies in reality. Additionally, this new direction provided me the perfect platform to test interview skills I had learnt about as part of my degree. I conducted interviews in Mumbai and Bangalore and an e-mail interview with a senior researcher in Chennai as well, where an in-person interview wasn’t possible.
Thus, this summer provided a valuable lesson about the importance of keeping an open mindset when approaching a research project. Planning, consistency and structure are of course crucial elements that form the basis of any project, but being reflexive and flexible for certain phases of research provides the opportunity to explore new directions for improving the project and in the process acquire new skills.
I would specially like to thank Lord Laidlaw for the generous funding provided and Dr. Eoin McLaughlin for supervising my project and providing valuable advice and support throughout the summer. I would also like to thank Mr. Sameer Nair, Mr. Vivek Venkataramani and Mr. Ganesh Shankar for the insightful interviews that contributed significantly to my project.