The book From Soup to Superstar: The Story of Sea Turtle Conservation along the Indian Coast was launched by Rohini Nilekani at the Indian Institute of Science, during an event opened by noted historian and author Ramachandra Guha recently.
Raman Sukumar, Professor at the Centre for Ecological Sciences and Karthik Shanker, the author of the book shared their thoughts at the event.
This science book aims to spread awareness about the efforts to conserve sea turtles and their habitat in India. Karthik says “The book traces the history of sea turtle conservation in India from before Independence to the current day.” As a result of coastal development and unregulated fishing, they are endangered, and the pressing need to conserve them has led turtle enthusiasts and conservation biologists to initiate conservation programmes and campaigns, which the book covers.
“It also turns the spotlight on the birthplace of citizen participation in turtle conservation, Chennai, and on the remote and pristine beaches of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.”
Though the idea of writing a book on this topic occurred to him more than a decade ago, Karthik was waiting for the grant from the New India Foundation.
Having conducted research on these turtles and their conservation for the past 15 years, he says, “It’s been a fantastic journey since, from digging out obscure documents to interviewing a range of biologists and conservationists and finding parallels with, and distinctions from, other campaigns in the early days of conservation in India.”
Professor Raman too spoke about the relevance and importance of iconic flagship creatures in conservation and says “This book sets a new standard in conveying science to people”.
Published by HarperCollins, the book features the author’s own experiences, as well as conversations with wildlife conservationists. Though extensive research has gone into it, it’s not overly technical. Karthik hopes “everyone who is interested in the environment will enjoy it.”
Ramachandra Guha, co-founder of the New India Foundation, says, “Karthik was always interested in literature. The marriage of high quality research and conveyance of this research to common people is often seen in the West but is not an active tradition in India. It is important to publish about the social implications of academic research. Karthik’s book takes high quality research beyond the confines of the scientific community. This book is vivid, compelling and readable. It is a work of serious research, passion and literary elegance.”