Mark Lindley first got interested in India at the age of nine, when his father – the then Washington bureau chief of Newsweek – visited the country to report on the inauguration of the Republic in 1947. Decades later – as a historian of modern India – Lindley authored books and essays on the independence struggle, centred on Mahatma Gandhi’s role in it.
Interestingly, this exposed him to the alternative economic thought of J.C. Kumarappa – one of Gandhi’s closest associates – and in turn to the early history of ecological economics, an area he now specialises in.
Most recently he has been studying the findings of a landmark research project conducted at the University of Zaragoza in Spain, which assesses the long-term viability of non-renewable resources, especially the critical metals and minerals that make high-tech society possible. Another aspect of his work focuses on the concept of ‘economic man’, a cornerstone of mainstream economic theory, which he considers “noxious” for aggravating the many social and ecological crises confronting the world. Traversing musicology, history, economics and ecology, Lindley’s has been an unconventional scholarly journey of a truth seeker, rather than that of a conventional academic career.
This interview was held in Bengaluru, where he recently delivered a series of lectures and public talks on ecological economics, which were organised by voluntary groups Graama Seva Sangha and the Ecologise network. The lectures were hosted by prominent academic institutions including the Indian Institute of Science and the National Institute of Advanced Studies.