UConn professor presents book advocating for global awareness of environmental protection


Environmental legislation is an important focus of new policies in India, Tanzania, and Mexico and deserves an in depth look by citizens around the world, according to Dr. Prakash Kashwan during his presentation about his new book, “Democracy in the Woods.”

Kashwan, a UConn political science professor, gave the presentation regarding his new book at 12 p.m. in the Oak Building on Wednesday, Jan. 25. Packed into a modest conference room with few open seats, Kashwan’s audience listened eagerly as he explained the book’s premise. “Democracy in the Woods” examines how the governments of India, Tanzania and Mexico address the issues of environmental protection and social justice in today’s political climate. Although the book goes beyond the scope of most people’s understanding, Kashwan brought the issues down to earth, making them accessible to those less familiar with global environmental protection.

“Democracy in the Woods” looks at the legacies of colonialism in the aforementioned nations and the legislation that their new governments put into play. Kashwan pointed out how Indira Gandhi, Julius Nyerere and Carlos Salinas (former leaders of India, Tanzania and Mexico respectively) turned their focus to protecting the environment to cover up bad press regarding problems in their administrations. Regarding the land laws put into effect, Kashwan quipped, “Unless otherwise specified, you are not allowed to do anything.” The audience chuckled at his honesty.

The book’s comparative analysis is multifaceted, exploring the similarities and differences between the three nations regarding their political systems, especially how those in power responded to the lower classes gaining some control over their own lands. Kashwan said, “A central finding of the book is that addressing sociopolitical inequalities is crucial for the long-term sustainability of international and national environmental protection efforts.”

When a member of the audience asked Kashwan how writing the book had changed his perspective, he said that he found the undertaking to be challenging but rewarding.

He also acknowledged that he was not originally a comparative political scientist but the method he used in his research was helpful in coming to his conclusion. Kashwan then said, “This book’s interdisciplinary focus also illustrates why supporting interdisciplinary research – as UConn does so effectively – is extremely important for meeting some of the greatest challenges of our times.”

Following the presentation, many audience members thanked Kashwan for his presentation and said they were interested in reading his book. Among those in attendance were Marc Reyes and Shaine Scarminach – two doctoral students from the history department. Reyes said he had personal interest in the subject, specifically the environmental movement in India, while Scarminach said he knows a lot about the forestry laws in Mexico. The two students joked that they only needed a third companion who had studied Tanzania’s environmental protection laws to cover each of the three countries in the book. Reyes also said that he is familiar with some of Kashwan’s previous work and he really enjoyed the presentation. He mentioned that he definitely intends to pick up “Democracy in the Woods” as soon as he gets the chance.

Brian Roach is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus.  He can be reached via email at brian.roach@uconn.edu.

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