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Irada: a well-intended expose of pollution and graft from Bollywood

Debutant director Aparnaa Singh’s Irada is said to have been inspired by real events –the pollution of groundwater by a chemical manufacturer with the blessings of a state’s ruling party. Set in Punjab, Irada advocates solutions that viewers will be hard-pressed to replicate, but its concerns are timely, character sketches memorable, and its empathy unmistakable.

ALTERNATIVES

M.G. Jackson: A new worldview for our times

The worldview that informs contemporary global culture was conceived during the European ‘Enlightenment’ of the 17th century. Its shortcomings have become increasingly evident today, and they are beginning to be seen as the root cause of the many seemingly intractable global problems that confront us today. This essay presents an overview of an alternative worldview.

Digests & Specials

Kaziranga: The park that shoots people to protect rhinos

In Kaziranga national park, rangers shoot people to protect rhinos. The park features in a new BBC investigation, which highlights some of the conflicts that characterise contemporary conservation, as the need to protect endangered species comes into contact with the lives and rights of people who live in and around the increasingly threatened national parks.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #130

The New York Times reports: India’s rapidly worsening air pollution is causing about 1.1 million people to die prematurely each year and is surpassing China’s as the world’s deadliest, a new study shows. India has registered an alarming increase of nearly 50 percent in premature deaths from particulate matter between 1990 and 2015, it says.

ALTERNATIVES

Is Costa Rica the world’s happiest, greenest country?

Ariana López Peña writes: Costa Rica was the most environmentally advanced and happiest place on earth last year, followed by Mexico, Colombia and Vanuatu, according to the Happy Planet Index, which measures life expectancy, well-being, environmental footprint and inequality to calculate nations’ success– all areas where Costa Rica’s government has made significant effort and investment.

Finance & Debt

The terrible truth behind the wave of farmer suicides in India

Nikita Sattiraju writes:  Farmer suicides in India have largely been attributed to debt, drought, crop failure or poor returns. However, farmers have been taking the drastic step regardless of a good rainfall year or bad, a good price year or a disappointing one. Why? Questions arise on the exact nature and reasons behind the deepening problem.

ALTERNATIVES

Wellbeing and sustainability: irreconcilable differences?

Modernity’s dominant narrative of material progress– which represents an industrial model of development–gives priority to economic growth and a rising standard of living. It is being increasingly challenged by the alternative narrative of sustainability, which seeks to balance social, environmental and economic priorities and goals to achieve a high, equitable and lasting quality of life.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #129

Disclose TV reports: Unimaginable disaster: Japan declares crisis due to unprecedented events at the Fukushima nuclear reactor. Officials have said that the damages at the reactor are “far worse than previously thought”. They have now found that melted fuel has contaminated underground water and melted core appears to have spread out over an “extensive area”.

Consumerism/Lifestyle

Some of the world’s wealthiest are preparing for the crackup of civilisation

The New Yorker reports: Survivalism, the practice of preparing for the collapse of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: eg. the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.

ALTERNATIVES

The Enlivenment Manifesto: Politics and Poetics in the Anthropocene

Enlightenment thinking is coming to an end… But our civilization still operates as if reality is about organising inert, dead matter in efficient ways. It is impossible to achieve sustainability with our prevailing ‘operating system’ for economics, politics, and culture if the underlying ‘bios’—our unconscious assumption about reality—remains tied to an ideology of dead matter.

ENERGY

The draft national electricity plan paints rosy picture of power scenario

Every five years, the Central Electricity Authority prepares a National Electricity Plan. Last December, the CEA released draft of third NEP for 2017-2022 seeking comments from various stakeholders. Some of its conclusions, like ‘close to zero energy demand deficit’, may sound like music to power starved India but also raises serious questions about its authenticity.

Forests & Wildlife

Ritwick Dutta: ‘We need to have a selfish interest in environment’

Ritwick Dutta, noted environment lawyer and founder of the highly accomplished Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), received the Bhagirath Prayas Samman, an award that recognises efforts towards protection and conservation of rivers. Manu Moudgil caught up with him on his journey so far and how we can further expand the constituency of environment.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #128

Common Dreams reports: The symbolic Doomsday Clock inched closer to midnight on Thursda.. For the first time in the 70-year history of the clock, “the BAS board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States,” according to a press statement.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Daesung Lee

Women bear the brunt of climate-forced migration

Manipadma Jena reports: An ActionAid report released last month warns of the devastating and increasing impact of climate change on women in South Asia, stating how “Young females from neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh who migrate to India as well as internal migrants from rural areas moving to cities are increasingly vulnerable to abuse and trafficking.”

ALTERNATIVES

Daripalli Ramaiah: The man who planted (ten million!) trees

Daripalli Ramaiah, recently awarded the Padmashri, India’s third highest civilian honour, has dedicated his life to increasing the country’s green cover and in the process has been credited with planting one crore saplings. The fight of Ramaiah to plant trees was not alone, as his wife Janamma has also made significant contribution to tree planting.

ALTERNATIVES

The mismeasure of progress: Is the West really the best?

Western liberal democracies dominate the top rankings of progress indices. But are they the best models of development when their standard of living is unsustainable and their quality of life is, arguably, declining? Only when environmental impacts are given significant weight, as in the Happy Planet and Sustainable Society indexes, does this ranking change substantially.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #127

Business Standard reports:  The NDA government changed regulations meant for protection of tribal rights and forests in order to ensure that more than 130 mines do not face fresh auctions and are instead retained by existing miners. Documents show regulations were changed in a coordinated manner by the environment, tribal affairs and the mines ministries.

Displacement/Conflict

Amitav Ghosh: What nutmeg can tell us about globalisation

From The New York Times: …It is impossible to imagine a world without global connections: They have always existed, and no place has escaped their formative influence. But this does not mean that there is any inherent merit in interconnectedness, which has always been accompanied by violence, deepening inequalities and the large-scale destruction of communities.

Displacement/Conflict

Why the Forest Rights Act is yet to achieve major milestones

G. Seetharaman reports: Activists say one of the biggest hurdles for FRA is that even states like Maharashtra, among the better performers, and Odisha are introducing policies which will help the forest department retain control of forest resources through joint forest management committees or similar bodies, which will dilute the powers of the gram sabha.

Development/Growth

Jemima Rohekar

Sounds of silence: a forest that survived ‘development’

Jemima Rohekar writes: So secluded is Silent Valley that there is no written record of any human habitation in its core area. It is also the site of the first and most bitterly fought ‘environment vs development’ debate in India. Silent Valley reinforces the fact that forests and their resident biodiversity are our greatest wealth.

ALTERNATIVES

Tribute: T. Hanumantha Rao, champion of water management alternatives

T. Hanumantha Rao, irrigation engineering expert and the brain behind a participative method of water management based on his ‘Four Waters’ concept, passed away on Sunday. The Four Waters concept, explained in this video, brought rich benefits to Rajasthan, where even drought-affected areas improved over the years. Several other states are actively pursuing his recommendations.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #126

Common Dreams reports: Global sea ice levels are at their lowest in recorded history, according to the U.S. National Snow & Ice Data Center. In the Arctic, the loss is due to climate change and extreme weather events likely influenced by global warming, while the changes in the Antarctic may be attributed to natural variability.