Meera Subramanian’s Elemental India: The Natural World at a Time of Crisis and Opportunity tells five tales of India’s efforts to balance economic development and environmental protection. The book is divided into chapters entitled Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether–to investigate the five aspects of sustainable development: organic farming, clean cookstoves, freshwater, endangered species, and population and family planning.
Subramanian is a US-based freelance journalist who received a Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellowship and a grant from the Fund for Environmental Journalism to support reporting for her book.
In the following excerpt, she describes the carcass dump in Bikaner, Rajasthan once home to the White-backed vultures and the longbilled vultures. However the widespread use Diclofenac, a common anti-inflammatory drug administered to livestock has resulted in their near extinction. The drug is fatal to vultures if they eat from the carcass of an animal that has been treated with it.