Venkat Ramanujam Ramani

PhD Scholar


PhD project

My Ph.D. research project, entitled Shifting human-nature interactions in the Maikal Hills of Madhya Pradesh, India, seeks to understand, from the standpoint of environmental sustainability, how two indigenous forest-dwelling communities in Central India, Baiga and Gond, are engaging with rapid socio-economic and ecological change. I use ethnographic fieldwork to investigate (i) livelihood shifts towards agricultural intensification, wage employment, and migration, (ii) changing environmental attitudes, and self-perceptions among men and women of different generations, and (iii) religious values and practices in transition.

Dr. Sharachchandra Lele, Senior Fellow, ATREE, is my Ph.D. supervisor. Dr. Amita Baviskar, Professor of Sociology, Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, and Dr. Ankila Hiremath, Fellow, ATREE, are members of my Doctoral Advisory Committee, along with Dr. Lele.

Professional information

Prior to the Ph.D., I worked on a study of forest governance in Madhya Pradesh with Dr. Sharachchandra Lele, and Jeetesh Rai. This resulted in a discussion paper on the trade in the tendu or bidi leaf (leaf of Diospyros melanoxylon), an important non-timber forest product of Central India, published by ATREE, and entitled Co-operative procurement of tendu leaves in Madhya Pradesh: Image and Reality. (See 'Publications' below for a pdf version.)

In an earlier avatar as a development worker, I volunteered for post-tsunami reconstruction in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and went on to examine the socio-cultural impact of tsunami aid on the indigenous Nicobarese community. I used my participant experience in humanitarian intervention to write an M.Phil. thesis at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, entitled Gifts without dignity? Gift-giving, reciprocity, and the tsunami response in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. (Scroll down to 'Publications' below for a pdf copy.)

Still earlier, I served as Project Officer with the Foundation for Ecological Security, Spearhead Team Udaipur, Rajasthan, working with forest-dwelling communities in regenerating the forest and pastoral commons in the Aravali Hills.


  • M.Phil. in Environment, Society, and Development, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.
  • M.A. in Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.
  • B.A. (Hons.) Economics, St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi, India.


  • Ramanujam, R. Venkat (2017) Forest Rights in Baiga Chak, Madhya Pradesh, Economic and Political Weekly, 52 (25 & 26), pp. 47-50 [pdf]
  • Thorat, O., Ronita Mukherjee, R. Venkat Ramanujam, Vikram Aditya, and M. Soubadra Devy (2016) Patterns of herbivory on Macaranga peltata, a pioneer species in the mid-elevation forests of the Western Ghats, Current Science, 111 (5), pp. 790-92 [pdf]
  • Ramanujam, R. Venkat (2015) NTFP decline in the Maikal Hills: What are its implications? Protected Area Update (No. 114), Vol. 21, No. 2. [pdf]
  • Lele, S., R. Venkat Ramanujam, J. Rai (2015) Co-operative procurement and marketing of tendu leaves in Madhya Pradesh: Image and reality. Environment and Development Discussion Paper No. 3. Bengaluru: Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment.[pdf]
  • Ramanujam, R. Venkat, Simron Jit Singh & Arild Vatn (2012) 'From the ashes into the fire: Institutional change in the post-tsunami Nicobar Islands.' Society and Natural Resources, 25 (11), pp. 1152-1166.[pdf]
  • Ramanujam, R. Venkat (2010), Gifts without dignity? Gift-giving, reciprocity, and the tsunami response in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. Unpublished M.Phil. thesis. Cambridge: Department of Geography, University of Cambridge.[pdf].
  • Singh, S. J. & R. Venkat Ramanujam (2010), ‘Exploring ecological “unequal” exchange using land and labour appropriation: Trade in the Nicobar Islands, 1880-2000’. In: Hornborg, A. & A.K. Jorgenson (eds.) Global Trade and Environmental Justice: New Approaches to Political Ecology, New York: Nova Publishers.
  • Ramanujam, R. Venkat (2004), Opportunity cost of forest conservation in Kenya . Unpublished Master’s thesis. Mumbai: Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Book reviews

  • Ramanujam, R. Venkat (2011) Local/regional/global resonances. Review of Kumar, D., Vinita Damodaran, and Rohan D'Souza, (Eds.) 'The British Empire and the Natural World: Environmental Encounters in South Asia.' The Book Review, 35 (8-9).
  • Ramanujam, R. Venkat (2010) Moral imperatives of the development paradigm. Review of Pandian, A. 'Crooked Stalks: Cultivating Virtue in South India.'The Book Review, 34 (12), pp. 3-4.

Recent non-academic writing

  • 'The Sahib of Saraidadar', an autobiographical essay in two parts on the blog Pangolin Prophecies [Part 1] and [Part 2]
  • 'Labours of love', a short story in two parts set in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on the blog ATREE Young Researchers' Network [Part 1] and [Part 2]