The Sewage Pond's Memoir

We seem to know nature as something outside us, as a deep experience. The separation makes us know nature as an ‘other’, a duality. But we all also know nature through our myths and memories. Post enlightenment nature has been understood as a set of scientific laws and theories, as an absolute. But as Bruno Latour says, we as social beings co-create ideas of nature. Sadly though today we increasingly know nature as a ‘resource’ to be exploited and plundered. The film is a reflection of all these, as a personal myth about water turning to sewage in a forest I helped protect.

I would like to raise the issue of the role of institutions and related legislative structures, which are supposed to safeguard the environment. Often these are forest departments, regulatory bodies, urban planning bodies, energy regulatory bodies or water management bodies. We have relegated our rights of ecology to institutions, which should work and act, on our behalf. The battle is how these institutions embed older values and ideas of nature, historically, with little space to reflect new relationships with evolving  understandings.  For example, in India the imperial colonial ‘gaze’ of natural landscapes has continued even to this day, even though social power structures are changing rapidly in the relatively new democracy.  Reforming institutions to reflect new relationships and values is a challenge.