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Heal the world

Itching to make the planet a better place? Now you can turn your passion into your career, says Vimal Chander Joshi.

education Updated: May 23, 2012 11:34 IST
Vimal Chander Joshi

A few weeks ago, when TERI University in Delhi announced its new Master’s programme in economics with specialisation in natural resources and environment, a barrage of queries came in. Such is the pull of environment studies in these times of global warming that many young people want to make a full-fledged career out of it.

Even people already in very well-paid positions find this call from nature irresistible. Nilakshi Das, an IIT alumna, quit her Rs 20 lakh-a-year job at oilfield services major Schlumberger to join Next Gen, a consultancy firm that advises corporate houses on reducing their carbon footprint.

There are options galore in carbon rating, recycling waste, rainwater harvesting, renewable energy et al. “One can get a job in a private company, NGO, public sector or government enterprises. The sector is growing,” says Badal Mukhopadhaya, Head of the Department, MSc programmes at TERI University. “We are expecting around 90 per cent placement of our MSc students this time,” he adds.

Working for the planet does not need any specialisation, as it is the amalgamation of several areas, says Pallavi Pant, a young green consultant. “One could come from disciplines like economics, sociology, anthropology or environmental law to become a professional.” There is one overarching requirement — a passion for the environment. “Even if a ‘green job’ pays well, one must have some basic interest in the cause of the environment to make a career in it,” says Mukhopadhaya.
IIT, St Stephen’s and Oxford University alumni do not think twice before taking the plunge. Vimlendu K Jha, founder of Swecha, an NGO, is a Stephanian who has a Master’s degree from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. “I found that environment issues have much scope for exploration,” says Jha, “and I believe they have a lot to offer to budding professionals.”

While there are jobs aplenty, this is not yet a sector that pays very highly from the beginning. “You need to have patience if you want to make good money. The market segment is small at present,” says Amit Chugh, co-founder and CEO, Cosmos Ignite Innovations, which has devised an eco-friendly lamp for rural India.

But enthusiastic youngsters can spot enough opportunity. Pant says, “One can earn Rs 30,000-Rs 40,000 per month if one provides consultancy services to more.

What’s it about?
An environment professional arranges work in such a way that waste is cut to the minimum. S/he also works to earn the maximum carbon credits for the company. Carbon credits are linked to the degree of emission control. The job involves the management of all components of the bio-physical environment, both living and non-living. Jobs are available in several consultancy firms and industrial units

Clock work
9 am: Timeline set by the coordinator 10am: Go to field and collect data
1 am: Occasional meetings with policy makers;
3 pm: Analysing the data and make the presentation
5 pm: Interviews with experts
6 pm: Seminar/conference/meetings

The payoff
The starting salary is usually between Rs 20,000 and 30,000.

Working in NGOs or start-ups means a relatively low salary, but the work is satisfying. To earn more, one can freelance as a consultant

After a couple years in the sector, one can earn Rs 7-10 lakh a year

How do I get there?
Though a Master’s degree in environmental science serves the purpose, some people also do an MBA programme in business sustainability or related areas. The job market is still not very well organised in this sector because of its small size, but professionals come from diverse backgrounds, like the life sciences, engineering and economics

Institutes & URLs
TERI University (for MSc/MTech/MBA)

ISMU, Dhanbad (for BTech/MTech in Environmental Science & Engg)

Gauhati University (for MSc and PhD)
www.gauhati.ac. in/environment_science/courses/index.htm

NEERI (for PG research and development programes) www.neeri.res.in

Delhi University (MSc in environmental biology and BE in environmental engineering)

Pros & cons

The job calls for a social conscience. A professional feels immense satisfaction

The job is exciting as it involves scientific research and dwelling on the civic and urban demands of people

It is a unique profession that combines subjects like economics, anthropology, sociology and science

The job is not so well paying at the beginning and the sector is still growing