Aldo Leopold once remarked, “There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot”. I belong to the latter category. I believe that human race can prosper only in harmony with nature. My belief turned into conviction in my early childhood as I painfully experienced how the once mighty Brahmaputra River gradually turned into a thin flow of water wrecking havoc on small farmers living in the river basin. This dramatic experience motivated me to think about the variable impacts of environmental factors on particular communities in a society. I therefore pursued a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in sociology to be able to analyze the ways in which climate change impacts vary across the social and power structures.
Recently, I finished the first round of fieldwork in three different ecological zones in Bangladesh to understand the unique set of challenges they negotiate in their everyday life from climate change and market variability. During my fieldwork, I realized that not being organized exposes the small farmers to exploitation from various quarters. My long-term goal therefore is to build a farmers’ alliance in the country, which will organize the farmers against market exploitations, and make them conscious about the harmful use of fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals.
Manoj organised a panel at the Grabbing Green Conference in May 2013 with Kasim Tirmizey (2012), Rishi Bastakoti (2012) and GEN resource person Susannah McCandless and funding from the Alumni Innovation Fund.
In April 2014, Manoj successfully defended his doctoral dissertation titled “The Implications of Globalization and Environmental Changes for Smallholder Peasants: The Bangladesh Case.” Several chapters of his dissertation are now under review with reputed journals. His dissertation chapter/article on microcredit and peasant dispossession has been adopted as a required reading for Trent University Development Studies students. The Canadian Association for the Study of International Development recently awarded him for his article on environmental changes, markets and smallholder farming in Bangladesh the prestigious 2014 Kari Polanyi-Levitt Best Graduate Paper Award.
Throughout his graduate career, Manoj has received several major scholarships and awards including the Aga Khan Development Network Award, SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship, and the University of Alberta President’s Prize of Distinction. Besides teaching at the University of Alberta, he is also writing a book on the implications of environmental changes and globalization in Bangladesh for farming communities. [Updated June 2014]