Pricing purity: the ethical worlds of public servants in the transition to organic agriculture in Sikkim, India.
A career in international development has led me to become compelled by the ways in which people engage morally with projects of social, economic and ideological transformation. The northeast Indian state of Sikkim is currently engaged in a remarkable example of such transformation, having recently been declared a “fully organic state”. The transition of all Sikkim’s agriculture to “organic practices” frames Sikkim as a beacon of environmental stewardship and also hinges on hopes of economic benefit, both for farmers in a depressed agricultural sector, and for the state’s fiscal position. It has at its centre administrative processes and technologies such as certification, marketing and branding. The global organic movement itself is a confluence of diverse and historically situated ideological currents, from environmental protection through health, food safety and bodily and spiritual purity to nationalism, autarky and economic rationalism. My interest is in how public servants in the Government of Sikkim navigate this transition and the diverse ideological currents it entails.
Academic interests: public service; concepts of the professional and professionalism; ethics and knowledge; economic and ethical value; environment and landscape; Hinduism and Buddhism; South Asia and the Himalayan region.