Professor Maharaj K. Pandit of University of Delhi’s Department of Environmental Studies has been appointed Radcliffe Fellow by Harvard University. Radcliffe Fellows are chosen after a rigorous process of selection and awarded in a range of disciplines to scholars with a record of significant accomplishment and demonstrated interest in participating in the multi-disciplinary programme. Prof. Pandit is internationally acclaimed for his work on the Ecology, Conservation and Impact of large-scale development in the Himalayan region. An academic with high impact researches published in Nature, Science and other top scientific journals, Pandit has been awarded the Fellowship in the area of Life Sciences.
As a scholar-in-residence at Harvard, Prof. Pandit will complete his book entitled Life in the Himalaya commissioned to him last year by the Harvard University Press. ‘Life in the Himalaya’ will explore the nature and extent of interactions between geological, biological and cultural facets of the Himalaya. The project which Prof. Pandit will undertake at Harvard envisions an integrated assessment of Himalaya’s longue durée geo-biological and socio-historical change, juxtaposed with contemporary challenges, in pursuit of ‘safe space for the Himalaya’. Engaging with accomplished scholars from a range of disciplines – arts and sciences - will help him explore the idea of ‘Himalaya as pantheon of Asian memory’ and its indispensability to the well-being of earth. Frozen and flowing in its folklore, this memory is depicted by lyrical rendition of Himalaya’s grandeur - Kalidasa’s 5th century poem, Kumarsambhava, and 20th century ‘Bang-e-Dirah’ of Iqbal. The project is also an ecological saga of quintessential ‘immigrant biota’ that arrived in the Himalaya around Miocene and subsequently diversified in situ. It deals with the ‘first axe’ that fell her forests and also the hands that prevented it from felling her trees.
As part of the Fellowship Pandit will be required to deliver talks and public lectures at Harvard and other institutions.