Mani Dhingra: ‘Sustainability to me is an attitude and way of life’

Name: Mani Dhingra
Lives in: Kharagpur, West Bengal
Country of origin: India
Period in Germany: September, 2013 to March, 2014
Educational institution: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Occupation: Research Scholar (pursuing PhD from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India)

After a DAAD scholarship at the research unit ‘Urban Housing and Development’ of the Institute ‘Entwerfen von Stadt und Landschaft’ (ISEL) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) Mani Dhingra received her ‘Master of City Planning’ from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur in the year 2014. She has worked as a Research Associate at advanced research institute, Integrated Research and Action for Development (IRADe) in New Delhi for a year on climate change and sustainable development in India and across the world. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD from Department of Architecture and Regional Planning, IIT Kharagpur focusing on traditional Indian cities to understand how sustainable the old settlements in India are.

Ms. Dhingra, the United Nations recently adopted a set of ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ to open a pathway into a sustainable future within the next 15 years. Do you think we will succeed?

Mani Dhingra: These Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the next step after UN‘s Millennium Development Goals whose patchy results are not achieved as targeted till year 2015. SDGs seem more like an old wine in a new bottle but with more ambitious targets of eliminating gender inequality, hunger and poverty by 2030. The question whether SDGs will be successful to attain its target of universal sustainability is quite pressing if its vast ambitious scope is considered. However, the explicit inclusion of developing countries for commitment and making progress in this direction is a plus point.

You know the situation in Germany as well as in India. Regarding the challenges we are facing: What are the main differences between the situation in India and Germany?

Mani Dhingra: The situation in Germany and India has contrasting challenges when it comes to sustainability. India is still lacking the common awareness amongst its public about the environmental and social issues which the world is facing whereas in Germany the things are on a better side. They have already taken a leap to achieve sustainable development by going carbon free cities. The scale of planning in German cities takes place at micro level neighborhood units which makes the execution of plans successful, while in India the bottom up approach is yet to gain popularity at individual level.

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