Water, Society and Sustainability

By Prof. Jenia Mukherjee   |   IIT Kharagpur
Learners enrolled: 3308
The global water scenario is beset by multiple challenges: water availability, severe inequity to water access and entitlements across social and spatial lines, frequent floods and droughts, disputes over corporate control of limited water resources, etc. The world appears to be on track to halve the number of people without access to safe clean water. However, in the urban Global South, this success masks regional and local inequalities and a process of urbanization without infrastructure, which is particularly acute in the growing peripheries of existing cities. Interestingly enough, lessons can be learnt from small-scale community water conservation practices and localized needs-driven initiatives. Within this context, it is important to understand and address water beyond the physical and technical attributes and explore the complex and cyclical processes through which water shapes, and, is in turn shaped by society. The course is located at the intersections across water, technology, science and society towards sustainable future. It combines fundamental theoretical, methodological approaches and empirical case studies to introduce and familiarize students with water-society relationship: the contemporary challenges and prospective potentials.

INTENDED AUDIENCE:  Located at the intersections across science, society, technology and sustainability, the course will be highly relevant for students from different disciplinary backgrounds including: agriculture,
water resource engineering, environmental sciences, rural development, civil engineering, geology and humanities and social sciences. 
INDUSTRY SUPPORT:    Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Other companies interest (some of which have approached the instructor) can be explored. 
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 4 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 1
Level : Postgraduate
Start Date : 23 Aug 2021
End Date : 17 Sep 2021
Enrollment Ends : 30 Aug 2021
Exam Date : 24 Oct 2021 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1:  1.Setting the Context
        2.Beyond Hydrology
        3.Socio Hydrology
        4.Political Ecology of Water
Week 2:   6.Critical Physical Geography
  7.The South Asian Context
  8.Water Harvesting and Water Use Techniques in Ancient India 1
  9.Water Harvesting and Water Use Techniques in Ancient India 2
  10.Water Harvesting and Water Use Techniques in Ancient India 3
Week 3:  11.Water Technology in Medieval India 1
12.Water Technology in Medieval India 2
13.‘Colonial Hydrology’
14.Dams and Development in Contemporary India
15.The Farakka Barrage Project: Historical and Technical Details
Week 4:   16.The Farakka Barrage Project: Socio-environmental Implications
17.Urban Waters: Historical and Political Ecological Perspectives
18.Transforming Trajectories of Blue Infrastructures of Kolkata
19.Peri-urban Water Justice in the Global South
20.Discussion and Conclusion

Books and references

  • Acharya A (2015) The cultural politics of waterscapes. In: Bryant RL (ed) The International Handbook of Political Ecology. Cheltenham, UK ; Northampton, MA, USA: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp.373–386. 
  • Allen A, Hofmann P, Mukherjee J and Walnycki A (2017) Water trajectories through non-networked infrastructure: insights from peri-urban Dar es Salaam, Cochabamba and Kolkata. Urban Research & Practice 10(1):22–42. 
  • Bakker K (2003) Archipelagos and networks: urbanization and water privatization in the South. The Geographical Journal 169(4): 328–341. 
  • Bouleau G (2014) The co-production of science and waterscapes: The case of the Seine and the Rhône Rivers, France. Geoforum 57: 248–257. 
  • Budds J, Linton J and McDonnell R (2014) The hydrosocial cycle. Geoforum 57: 167–169. 
  • Budds J (2009) Contested H2O: Science, policy and politics in water resources management in Chile. Geoforum 40(3): 418–430.
  • D'Souza, R (2006) Water in British India: The Making of a ‘Colonial Hydrology. History Compass 4/4: 621-28. 
  • D’Souza R (2009) River as resource and land to own: the great hydraulic transition in Eastern India. In: Conference on Asian environments shaping the world: conceptions of nature and environmental practices, 19-21 March, 2009, National University of Singapore, Singapore. 
  • Mukherjee J (2018) From hydrology to hydrosocial: historiography of waters in India. In: J. Caradonna (ed.), Routledge Handbook of the History of Sustainability (UK: Routledge). 
  • Klingensmith D (2007) One valley and a thousand: dams, nationalism, and development. New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 
  • Swyngedouw E (2009) The political economy and political ecology of the hydro-Social Cycle. Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education 142(1): 56–60.

Instructor bio

Prof. Jenia Mukherjee

IIT Kharagpur
Dr Jenia Mukherjee is Assistant Professor at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur. Her research interest spans across environmental humanities, transdisciplinary water research and urban studies. In 2013, she was awarded the World Social Science Fellowship by the International Social Science Council. In 2010 and 2015 she received the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Government of Australia sponsored Australian Leadership Awards Fellowship (ALAF) for her research on riverine island communities. She had conducted and organized several workshops, conferences and seminars. She had recently organized an AICTE course on ‘Combining Hydrology and Hydrosocial: Towards Comprehensive Understanding of River Systems at IIT Kharagpur (October 2017). She had published three books, several articles and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes. Presently, she is leading three international projects funded by AHRC-ICHR, EU-ICSSR and SSHRC (Canada) at IIT Kharagpur apart from and along with co-investigation of multiple projects funded by national agencies like DST. She received the prestigious Carson Writing Fellowship in 2019 from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Development, Munich (Germany) for completing her book: Blue Infrastructures of Kolkata: Natural History, Political Ecology and Urban Development in Kolkata (Springer Nature: Singapore, 2020). She is member at the international advisory committee for the TU-Delft conference on Sociohydrology to be held in September 2021. She is the lead (guest) editor for the (forthcoming: 2022) Special Issue on ‘Sociohydrology: Solutions Related to Actual Interventions’, Frontiers in Water.

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 24 October 2021 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 3 assignments out of the total 4 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Kharagpur .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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