Environmental History


Hey there! How are you? I am plastic. Not plastic like your college friends; I’m the real deal. My breed is straw, and my colour is white, but out here in the plastic world, we don’t judge each other in terms of colour or breed. Who does anyway?

I was last used at PAM, this eating joint at Hindu College. PAM stands for Pizzas and More, but the funny thing is there are no pizzas here. I feel like I should petition to change PAM’s full form to ‘Plastics and More’!

So, I was a fresh new kid ready to be dipped in a nice cup of not-so-nice cold coffee. But then members of this college society told the owner, a grumpy white-haired uncle, that he should stop using plastic straws in his shop. They called me and my plastic family murderers and said that he should play his part in saving the environment by banning us. To this, PAM uncle did what he’s best at: he told the students to bugger off.

I felt offended that those students called me a killer but as I realised later, that’s the sad truth. I could have said this is my autobiography but this is more like a confessional. You see no one is a natural born killer. Killers are made, rather than born. I too was made a killer by my creators, human beings.

You see I look good when you are French kissing the life out of me, sipping on your drink. But then, you dispose me off. And when I am disposed, I wish for a nice, calm death. The purpose of my life has been served. However, it seems that I’m borderline immortal. The problem with being immortal is that you can get extremely…bored.

Now I lay in this pile of garbage to rot but I won’t even rot; the organic things have it easy, I tell you. No one would pick me up and reuse me. And just to add to my concerns, I have unintentionally started destroying and killing things.

This bird was scrounging for some food in the garbage and the dumbo swallowed me down too. The feel inside his body was gross but what felt grosser was when it vomited me out. The poor creature couldn’t ingest me. I told you right, I just can’t die!

The bird kept on choking for some time and to my horror, it just stopped breathing in a few minutes. That was when I became a killer. I imagine how so many members of my family might have become such unintentional murderers. Those ‘woke’ students were right.

I have blown with the wind now to some littered road in Delhi (there are many in the city), waiting for my death. But instead, all I do is just stay in my non-biodegradable state killing Mother Nature slowly (I heard this science kid talk about me like that once; he also said that some of the straws kill marine creatures).

I wish that in the next life, I’m not reborn as a plastic straw. Maybe in the future, humans stop using plastic straws altogether so we’ll never be created and we’ll never be killers. Maybe…


Shaurya Singh Thapa

[email protected]

During the two day workshop on ‘Networking on Eco-Historic and Cultural Heritage of India’ at Lady Doak College, Associate Professor Vipul Singh from the Department of History, University of Delhi talked about the need for Environmental History to be a compulsory interdisciplinary course and also develop into a separate discipline in undergraduate and post graduate courses.


Lady Doak College has already been in the news numerous times for their plans to be a carbon neutral college and their zero waste policy amongst others. During his talk, Vipul Singh focused on the increased employment opportunities of the course along with how the subject can help tackle climate change. Explaining the interdisciplinary approach, he explained how a historian’s emphasis on tracing the past could lead to better environment conservative.


Environment History is the study of interaction between human and nature in the past, a rather new course in India that is currently included in the MA/MSc syllabus of History and Environmental History of University of Delhi but not as a separate discipline.


Source: Hindu, Times of India


Adarsh Yadav

[email protected]

Second year students of Lady Shri Ram College have a stream of complaints relating to the lack of choice given between the different inter-disciplinary courses offered by Delhi University. Most of the Honours courses in this college have no say when it comes to which subject they need to opt for, leading to indignation in some students. “We’re being forced to study Environmental History. This really beats the purpose of an ‘inter-disciplinary’ course as we’re still stuck with a subject linked to history. How is this one of the premier colleges of the country when a simple choice offered by the University itself is denied to us?” says Diwita Mathivanan, an angry second year student pursuing History Honours.

This is not just the case with one or two courses. Political Science, Sociology, Psychology and Philosophy Honours students are left with no option but to take up Individual and Society, an English Credit course. “Ideally, we were supposed to be offered a choice between so many subjects, but at the beginning of this semester we were given Individual and Society without any questions asked or opinions taken into consideration,” claims Aarushi Chugh, a second year Sociology student. English is one of the only courses that offers a choice between Gender studies and Philosophy as Individual and Society is a credit course they complete in their first year.

When the teachers were questioned, almost all of them had the same answer. Due to the impossible cut-offs that keep increasing each year, complimented by the equally ridiculous marks doled out by educational systems, the number of students in each course is increasing by a big margin every year. Due to a disproportionate ratio between the faculty available and the students, courses with a larger number of students like History and Political Science are not left with any options for their credit courses.

Another requirement put forward by the teaching staff is that at least one-fourth of the class must be in favour of a particular subject for it to be offered, subject to sufficient availability of teachers. This is leading to the faculty making the decisions themselves and no options are given to the students. There is talk of General Body Meetings being held within the different courses with all the students involved, so that the faculty gets a better idea of what subjects are preferred, but as of now, the students continue to resent the fact that they’re forced to read something  which they would rather not spend any time.