An Interview with Author Arnab Basu at The Literature TodayMarch 27, 2021
Que: First and foremost, I would like to extend my congratulations to you for the publication of “The Journey Through Holocene.” How have the readers responded to the book so far?
Arnab Basu: Thank you very much for that. The response has been encouraging so far, considering it’s my first endeavor as an author. The book ranked 4 in few consecutive weeks as Amazon bestseller in the sustainability development genre. A lot of my readers have shared their positive feedback and I am grateful to them.
Que: Would it be fair to call “The Journey Through Holocene” the next step in the written record of raising environmental awareness?
Arnab Basu: It would be too early to set such a high benchmark for this work, however, I would definitely say that the next step of raising environmental awareness is inculcating a deep ecological culture in our lifestyle. And from that point of view “The Journey Through Holocene” has received a lot of positive feedback from few international organizations, which are involved in promoting deep ecology.
Que: At present, very little is being written to raise concerns about the environment? What could be the probable reason for that?
Arnab Basu: Actually there is a lot of literature written to raise environmental awareness. But the real root cause of the environmental problem of this planet is very carefully avoided in most of such work. The reason is we human beings are so “brainwashed” by the concept of the commodification of the environment and “arrogant” with our human supremacy over all other species, that we don’t want to talk about the need of giving equal importance to all life forms of this planet. “The Journey Through Holocene” is my first endeavor to be vocal about that concept.
Que: How was the journey of writing “The Journey Through Holocene”? Did you talk to like-minded people before writing the book?
Arnab Basu: The five years of experience in writing this book was great and enlightening for me. Being a professional environmentalist, I get to work very closely with corporate and business decision-makers, regulators, conservationists, academicians, wildlife photographers, etc. My interaction and exchange of thoughts with this community helped me a lot in giving shape to this book. However, more importantly, working on this project also created an opportunity for me to interact with common people who are knowingly or unknowingly affected by environmental issues.
Que: If you have read any book about the environment, what would you say about it in the light of “The Journey Through Holocene”?
Arnab Basu: While writing on sustainability-related issues I had come across two legendary works in this genre – Ramchandra Guha’s “How much should a person consume?” and Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”. Guha’s social ecology and Carson’s deep ecology-based thought processes are kind of resonated through my own opinion on the environmentalism of today’s world. Also, two more legends who questioned human supremacy over nature on a very serious note are Jim Corbett and Sy Montgomery. They presented two different perspectives of human-wildlife conflict using the tiger as a flagship species. Their works also compelled me to critically analyze environmental conservation and its relation to human survival. I tried to highlight that in my commentary in “A Nation and Its National Animal” chapter of this book.
Que: As per your experience in writing “The Journey Through Holocene”, what could be the other possible ways to raise awareness about the critical condition of the environment?
Arnab Basu: Encouraging people to live a life with less impact on nature’s carrying capacity is the most crucial thing to do on an immediate basis. This reduction of impact also has multiple dimensions. Usage of products which are not harmful to ecology as well as put a check on ever-growing human population – are two important elements of this issue. Therefore, its not going to be an easy task and need dialogues and campaigning at different levels of society. Writing a book on this is just a beginning.
Que: Your writing has given a solid introduction to your potential as a writer. Can the readers expect a work of fiction from you in the future? Please share about your future projects.
Arnab Basu: I am not sure about writing fiction in near future. But currently, I am working on two more projects. One is related to dispensing environmental justice in our country through judicial systems. The other one is on natural history related to Bengal Tigers. The first one is more for the academic people but the second one is again for the general audience as it is all about my own experience on tiger-centric adventures and explorations in subcontinental forests.
Que: Have you enjoyed reading any writers in your childhood or as a grown-up? Did their work inspire you to write?
Arnab Basu: In my young days my favorite writer was Satyajit Ray, and my scriptwriting endeavor was also inspired by him. In my childhood, I guess I was 11 years old at that time, it was early 1990, and I converted a popular short story of Rabindra Nath Tagore into a play and staged that under my direction in my residential community. All these happened because of my hero-worship of that famous writer-director. I made several attempts to write fiction as I wanted to be a writer like him. But I guess fiction writing is more difficult than nonfiction writing.
Que: If you had to get the attention of a person to “The Journey Through Holocene” without letting out much information, what details would you give?
Arnab Basu: I would tell that person, “If you have heard the term sustainable development and if you think this term might have something to do with yours and more importantly your future generations’ survival, then you should know what happened in past and what might happen in future. That would help you in deciding what you should do in present. “The Journey Through Holocene” is an account of that which might provoke your thought process in that direction.”
Que: Do you think raising awareness through books and campaigns is enough to make a difference? What else can be done?
Arnab Basu: Motivating people to shade off excess requirements from their life, living close to nature, and check on the human population is in my opinion going to be the crucial contributing factors as far as the survival of this planet is concerned. Therefore, we need a structured action plan and governance system around it. If needed regulatory intervention may also be used to change our habits and mindset. A combination of all these along with mass-level campaigning might help in achieving this objective.
Que: How easy or difficult was it for you to keep the content short and focused when so much more could be written about the environmental issues?
Arnab Basu: Keeping content short and focused on an issue like this was definitely a challenging task. I tried my best considering a general and wider audience of my work. How much I succeeded in that, can only be said by my readers.
Que: On the basis of your experience of writing “The Journey Through Holocene” what advice would you like to give the writers who intend to try their hand in this genre?
Arnab Basu: I would advise them to study and understand the history of environmentalism on this planet. It’s really ancient, started with the beginning of human civilization and since then has gone through several interesting socio-economic and political transformation. I am still learning and studying this subject and there is plenty to learn about it.
Que: I thank you very much for giving your time and answering the questions. I hope that there will be a lot coming from your pen in the future. All the best.
Arnab Basu: Thank you so much for taking your time out as well and making all effort to take this book to a larger platform.