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A large body of research has documented urban environmental inequalities around the world but the nature of their association with a racialised social order remains open. Pairing spatially explicit demographic census micro-data from one of the world’s leading urbanisation hotspots (Bengaluru, India) with high-resolution satellite imagery, Dr Deepak Malghan will describe novel multi-scalar residential segregation channels, including intra-street micro-segregation.

The study uses data from approximately 1.75 million households located in more than 15,000 neighborhoods containing the first-ever spatially explicit coding of India’s elementary caste categories (jatis). Spatially marginalised groups in India — Dalits (the formerly “untouchable” castes) and Muslims — live in the densest neighborhoods that are closest to stationary sources of air pollution, experience the greatest urban heat island effects, and have the least access to mitigating green spaces. The differences between environmental outcomes for dominant and marginalized groups span 0.6–1.7 standard deviations.

By analysing this data, Dr Malghan shows why racialised hierarchies, rather than mere ethnic diversity, explains the observed inequality in access to environmental public goods.

The talk is drawn from a paper co-authored with Arpit Shah (Indian Institute of Management Bangalore), Anish Sugathan (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad & Princeton University), Naveen Bharathi (University of Pennsylvania & Harvard University), Andaleeb Rahman (Cornell University) and Amit Garg (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad).


Dr Deepak Malghan

Dr Deepak Malghan is a chemical engineer and ecological economist working at scale theory and thermodynamics interface. Scale in ecological economics refers to the proportional relationship between the economy and the ecosystem that contains and sustains it. Among other recognitions for his contributions to scale theory, Malghan received the 2015 VKRV Rao Prize in Social Sciences. Malghan has served as an editor at Ecological Economics, the field’s flagship journal (2018-23). His applied environmental policy research has been centered on urban hydrology problems.

Beyond ecological economics, Malghan’s lab at the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore has pioneered new methods for characterising ethnic inequality and stratification by combining tools and insights from economics, demography, and political science. His current projects apply these methods to study classical and emerging problems in ethnic politics and environmental injustice. 

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