N C Narayanan

Professor, CTARA (Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas)


N C Narayanan works in the area of water policy and governance with normative concerns of sustainability and equity as pointers. He started his career as a hydrogeologist and worked in an interdisciplinary team for land use planning using remote sensing techniques. The involvement with a science movement led him to studies on participatory land use planning for decentralised governance. In his later studies he focused on the institutional aspects of water management and governance. After his M Phil in Applied Economics from JNU (CDS) and PhD in Development Studies (ISS, Erasmus University, The Netherlands) he joined as faculty in the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). He moved on as Senior Fellow and Executive Director of the South Asia Consortium for Water Resources Studies (Saci WATERs) initiating an academic collaboration to instil interdisciplinarity in Water Engineering programmes linking Wageningen University, NL and four South Asian Universities in Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and India. Since 2008, he teaches and contributes to the interdisciplinary M Tech and PhD programmes in Technology and Development and newly started public policy programme in IIT Bombay. He has been a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley for two semesters in 2016-17. He and his students have worked on issues of water governance, water conflicts, uncertainty and climate change, technology/institutional choices in urban sanitation, rural drinking water governance/reforms, scaling up technology alternatives etc. He also has two ongoing field projects working with local governments on canal rejuvenation (see here) and flood mitigation planning. He has published four books and contributed to book chapters and journals.

Research Areas

– Water Policy and Governance

– Environment and Development (Political Ecology)

– Scaling Up Technology Alternatives

– Development Theory

– Public Policy

– Decentralisation and Local Governance

– Transdisciplinary Research (Concept and Practice)

Academic Background

Ph.D. (Development Studies), International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands (part of Erasmus University, Rotterdam).

M.Phil. (Applied Economics), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

M.Sc. (Geology) University of Kerala, Trivandrum, India.


Journal Articles:

Tankha, Sunil; Fernandes, Denise; Narayanan, N.C, 2019, Overcoming Barriers to Climate Smart Agriculture in India. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management.

Argade, P. and Narayanan, N.C. 2019. Undercurrents of participatory groundwater governance in rural Jalna, Western India. Water Alternatives. Vol 12, Issue 3. Pp 869-885.

Lalita Joshi, NC Narayanan, Jayendran Venkateswaran, Chetan Solanki, Praveen Kumar , 2019, Adoption of solar photovoltaic lighting in rural India: Role of localization strategy , Energy & Buildings 202 (2019) 109370. Elselvier.

Gautham Ganapathy and NC Narayanan, 2019, Between financial viability and access to drinking water provision: Tracing the path dependence from an early gravitation scheme in a regional Indian town, Water History (2019).

N.C. Narayanan, 2019, Exacerbated Flood Damage in Kuttanad in 2018, Causes, Consequences and Caution for the Future, Social Science in Perspective, Vol. 11 No. 1. pp 610- 636.

Jeffrey Immanuel, Anshul Singh, NC Narayanan, 2019, CRZ 2018: Yet another toss into the Sea of Coastal Regulations, Economic and Political Weekly, Vol LIV, No. 10. 57-60.

Shibaji Bose, Upasona Ghosh, Hemant Kumar Chauhan, Narayanan, NC, and D Parthasarathy, 2018, Uncertainties and Vulnerabilities among the Koli fishers in Mumbai: A Photo Voice Study. Indian Anthropologist, Vol 48, No.2. pp 65-80.

René Véron, Nishara Fernando, N. C. Narayanan, Bishnu Upreti, Babu Ambat, Ranga Pallawala, Sudarshan Rajbhandari, Swetha Rao Dhananka, Christian Zurbrügg, 2018, Social processes in post-crisis municipal solid waste management innovations: A proposal for research and knowledge exchange in South Asia, Research Ideas and Outcomes, e31430. doi: 10.3897/rio.4.e31430.

N. C. Narayanan, Isha Ray, Govind Gopakumar and Poonam Argade, 2018, Towards sustainable urban sanitation: A capacity-building approach to wastewater mapping for small towns in India, Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, Volume 8, Issue 2. IWA Publishing.

Youngmee Tiffany Jung, N.C. Narayanan, Yu-Ling Cheng, 2018, Cost comparison of centralized and decentralized wastewater management systems using optimization model, Journal of Environmental Management, 213 (2018) 90-97. Elselvier.

S. Thrikawala, M. I. Sudasinghe, L.W. Galagedara, E.R.N. Gunawardena and N.C. Narayanan, 2016, Applicability of decentralized, small scale Vs centralized, large scale Sewage Treatment Plants for Urban Sanitation: A case study from Sri Lanka. Journal of South Asia Water Studies ( SAWAS) Vol 5, Issue 3. Pp 85-97.

Sheila Bonde, Clyde Briant, Paul Firenze, Julianne Hanavan, Amy Huang, Min Li, N. C. Narayanan, D. Parthasarathy, Hongqin Zhao, 2015, Making Choices: Ethical Decisions in a Global Context, Science and Engineering Ethics. ISSN: 1353-3452 (Print) 1471-5546 (Online).

Solanki, C.S., Narayanan, N.C., Jayendran, V. (2015). Million solar urja lamps programme: An initiative towards ‘Right to Light’. Renewable Energy Akshay Urja. Vol. 9, Issue 2, p 36-40.

N C Narayanan and Nitin Lokhande, 2013, Designed to Falter: MGNREGA Implementation in Maharashtra, Economic and Political Weekly, vol xlviii nos 26 & 27, Pp. 61-66.

N C Narayanan and Sunil Trikhawala, 2011, Aid, Technology and Project Dependence: A Case of Institutional Weakening of Water Sector from Sri Lanka- Journal of South Asia Water Studies ( SAWAS), volume 2, issue 2. Pp. 60-74.

N C Narayanan and Anju Helen Bara, 2012, Enhancing Drinking Water and Sanitation Access to Poor: Lessons of NGO-Government Collaboration in Eastern India. Journal of Governance and Public Policy, VOL 1, Issue 2. Pp. 28-46.

N C Narayanan and Lalitha Kamath, 2012, Rural Water Access: Governance and Contestation in a Semi-Arid Watershed in Udaipur, India; Economic and Political Weekly, VOL XLVII, No.4. Pp. 65-72.

N C Narayanan et Jean-Philippe Venot, 2009, Échelle(s) communes(s) ou échelles multiples Pour une gouvernance démocratique des ressources naturelles : Les zones humides en Inde. Vertigo, Vol 9, Numero1, Mai.

N C Narayanan and Jean-Philippe Venot, 2009, Drivers of Change in Fragile Environments: Challenges to Governance in Indian Wetlands. Natural Resources Forum (A United Nations Journal for Sustainable Development), Volume 33. Pp 320-333.

N C Narayanan, 2006, For and Against Grain Land Use: Politics of Rice in Kerala, India, International Journal of Rural Management. V 2, No.1: 123-144

N C Narayanan, 2002, Technical Fixes and Social Relations: The Case of Group Farming in Kerala, India. Review of Development and Change. Vol. VII, No.2, July-December.

Book Chapters:

N C Narayanan and Neelam Rana (2019), The centralized approach to wastewater management and implication for sanitation governance: an analysis of the intent and practice of the national urban sanitation policy in India, In S Janakarajan and KJ Joy (Ed), India’s Water Futures: Emergent ideas and Pathways. London and New York: Routledge Sage. Pp. 119 – 148.

D. Parthasarathy, Yash Shethia and N.C. Narayanan (2018). Cross-Scale Institutional Linkages in Climate Change Responses: An Indian Perspective In Chandra Venkataraman, Trupti Mishra, Subimal Ghosh, Subhankar Karmakar (Ed), Climate Change Signals and Response. Singapore: Springer Nature.

Neha Singh, D. Parthasarathy and NC Narayanan, 2018, Contested Urban Waterscape of Udaipur, In Sustainable Urbanization in India. Singapore: Springer Nature.

N C Narayanan, (2015), Pollution Abatement Strategies in River Ganga: A Review of GAP and Gaps in Emerging Institutional Models, In Iyer Ramaswamy (Ed), Living Rivers, Dying rivers. New Delhi: OUP. Pp. 77-100.

Neha Singh and N C Narayanan (2014), Rural Urban Water Transfers: Conflict over the Mansi Wakal Dam in Udaipur, Rajasthan In Joy, K.J., Suhas Paranjape and Sarita Bhagat, Domestic Water and Sanitation: Cases, Issues and Prospects. Pune: Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India, Pp. 131-150.

N C Narayanan, S. Parasuraman and Rajindra Aryabandhu, (2014), Paradigm Shifts in Water Governance in South Asia: A Review In N C Narayanan, S. Parasuraman and Rajindra Aryabandhu(ed), Water Governance and Civil Society Responses in South Asia. New Delhi: Routledge. New Delhi: Routledge. Pp. 1-30.

N C Narayanan and Sunil Thrikawala (2014), Foreign Assistance, Dependence and Debt: Sanitation Case Study, Kandy, Sri Lanka In N C Narayanan, S. Parasuraman and Rajindra Aryabandhu (ed) Water Governance and Civil Society Responses in South Asia. New Delhi: Routledge. New Delhi: Routledge. Pp.144-169.

N C Narayanan and S. Mohammed Irshad (2014), Institutional Changes, Public Provision and Drinking Water Supply in Kerala In N C Narayanan, S. Parasuraman and Rajindra Aryabandhu (ed) Water Governance and Civil Society Responses in South Asia. New Delhi: Routledge. New Delhi: Routledge. Pp.170-200.

N C Narayanan and Jayati Chourey, 2012, Environmental Governance: Concept, Complexity and an Illustration in E.R.N. Gunawardena, Brij Gopal and Hemasiri Kottagama (ed) Ecosystems and Integrated Water Resources Management in South Asia. New Delhi: Routledge. Pp 302-337.

N C Narayanan, 2010 Multiple Uses, Conflicts and Challenges to the Integrated Management and Governance of Wetlands: Evidence from the East and West Coasts in India. In Hoanh, CT, B Szuster, Pheng, A Ismail, and A Noble, Tropical Deltas and Coastal Zones: Food Production, Communities and Environment at the Land–Water Interface: Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management, No. 9. Oxfordshire: CABI Publications.

N C Narayanan, 2008 State, Governance and Natural Resource Conflicts: Background Paper in N C Narayanan (ed), Where to go from here? State, Natural Resource Conflicts and Challenges to Governance. New Delhi: Academic Foundation. Pp.15-38.

Smriti Das and NC Narayanan, 2008, Alloyed Projects, Metalled Resistance: A Case of Bauxite Mining in Orissa in N C Narayanan (ed), Where to go from here? State, Natural Resource Conflicts and Challenges to Governance. New Delhi: Academic Foundation. New Delhi: Academic Foundation. p 221-246.

N C Narayanan, 2008, Water Control Structures and Conflicts in Lake Vembanad: Governance as Mobilisation in N C Narayanan (ed), Where to go from here? State, Natural Resource Conflicts and Challenges to Governance. New Delhi: Academic Foundation. New Delhi: Academic Foundation. Pp. 91-116.

N C Narayanan, 2002 Sustainability in Dutch Agriculture In Barthelemy Honfoga, Marian Perez, Nozizwe Esther Chinkanda, Chhewang Rinzin and N.C.Narayanan The TINA and Milk: Southern Perspectives on Sustainability in the Netherlands. pp. 35-44. Utrecht: International Books.

NC Narayanan, 1997 Towards Operationalising the Concept of Sustainable Land Use – Amicro level study on valley land forms in Trichur, Kerala in Anil Agarwal (Ed), The Challenge of the Balance: Environmental Economics in India. New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment.

N C Narayanan, 1996 Micro/Village Level Resources Survey with People’s Participation for Sustainable Development (with Srikumar Chattopadhyay) In R.B.Singh (Ed) Research in Geography – Land Use Changes and Sustainable Development Vol. I, New Delhi: A.P.H Publishing Corporation.

N C Narayanan and N. Bindu, 1996, Rudravanom- Despoiling a Pilgrim Centre in The Hindu-Survey of the Environment 1996. Chennai: The Hindu

N C Narayanan, 1995 Issues in Sustainable Land Use – A micro level study in Madakkathara area, Trichur District, p. 87-103 In P.P. Pillai and R.P Nair (Ed) Understanding Ecologically Sustainable Economic Development. Trichur: Institute of Planning and Applied Economic Research.


N C Narayanan, S. Parasuraman and Rajindra Aryabandhu (Ed), 2014, Water Governance and Civil Society Responses in South Asia. New Delhi: Routledge.

N C Narayanan, 2008, Where to go from here? State, Natural Resource Conflicts and Challenges to Governance. New Delhi: Academic Foundation.

N C Narayanan, 2003, Against the Grain: The Political Ecology of Land Use in a Kerala Region, India. Maastricht: Shaker Publications.

Barthelemy Honfoga, Marian Perez, Nozizwe Esther Chinkanda, Chhewang Rinzin and N C Narayanan, 2002, TINA and the Milk: Southern Perspectives on Sustainability in the Netherlands (English and Dutch editions). Utrecht: International Books.

Courses Taught

– Development Theory (CTARA)

– Water Resources Management (CTARA)

– Public Policy and Governance (CTARA)

– Social Science Research Methods (CTARA)

– Technology/Development in Practice (CTARA)

– Public Policy in Practice (Centre for Policy Studies)

– Science and Technology for Development in India (Humanities and Social Sciences)

– Making Choices: Ethical Dimensions of Scientific Endeavor (Humanities and Social Sciences)