The Ganges and India’s Future: an interview with Victor Mallet

What brought this book about?

I arrived in India about five years ago. I’m pretty interested in rivers, and I was immediately fascinated by the Yamuna River, a big tributary of the Ganges that runs through the middle of Delhi. By the time it leaves Delhi, it’s extremely polluted, yet if you look at Indian art and literature the Yamuna, like the Ganges, is considered this extraordinarily beautiful and pure river. A goddess, in fact.

Both these rivers, which eventually join up and become one, are celebrated in Indian mythology and history as these fantastically pure rivers with turtles and deer, and Krishna playing on the banks with his gopis. It’s tragic to see the rivers now so heavily polluted in places. In the case of the Yamuna, it’s completely dead because it’s so full of raw untreated sewage and toxic waste as it heads down towards the Taj Mahal at Agra.

The Ganges is still beautiful in places, but obviously things have gone wrong. I wanted to find out what can be done to help the river, so I decided to report on it.

This is an excerpt from an interview with Victor Mallet, published on the Asian Review of Books on November 26th, 2017. The full interview can be found here.