Swati recounts experiences of studying MSc Environment and Sustainable Development at the Development Planning Unit
I am an architect by profession who later completed a postgraduate degree in Housing Planning from the School of Planning, Centre of Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University, Ahmedabad, India.
Immediately after completion of the course, I was engaged in various grassroot-level planning projects with NGOs and International agencies such as Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) and Oxfam to work in the area of disaster housing, slum rehabilitation and upgrading of environment sanitation programs in urban slum areas.
My work was mainly focused on Gujarat and Mumbai. I continued working in the area of human settlements and environmental health for about 4 years with a diverse range of organizations including NGOs, Funding agencies, Research organizations and Environment Consultancy. The broad array of agencies helped me to grasp a picture of how development activities are perceived and implemented on various actors of the society.
However it was during this time that I decided to stop and research on environment aspects of development studies. This is when I got admission to the Development Planning Unit (DPU) and was also nominated for CSS/DFID scholarship.
The scholarship provided by Commonwealth in association with University College London (UCL) helped me to gain a holistic approach to planning. Not only did it sharpen my analytical & research skills but gave me an exposure to similar issues observed internationally. The platform of the DPU helped to understand people from my neighboring countries and to identify commonalities between the issues faced by our countries.
After the completion of the Environment and Sustainable Development (ESD) masters course, the Commonwealth Association allowed me to complete an internship for 3 months before coming back to India, which was useful as an international experience. Upon my return to India, I joined an infrastructure development consultancy. I am presently working as an Assistant Manager in a Consultancy named IL&FS IDC and am presently located in Chennai. I am working on project implementation and delivery for mass scale urban projects such as Low cost Housing, Eco Tourism, and Special Economic Zones etc
The ESD course has equipped me with improved research skills and a development orientation towards projects which involve large scale area planning. Also it has helped me to provide strategic environmental inputs and developing a holistic approach towards development while working on mega projects in the country.