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Rutger Bregman: Wealth isn’t created at the top; it’s only devoured there

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded–but virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top. In reality, it is precisely the other way around. This is one of the biggest taboos of our times– the truth that we are living in an inverse welfare state.

Devinder Sharma: Does the banking system really want to help farmers?

The total outstanding loans of public sector banks stands at Rs 6.8 lakh crores. Of this, 70%  belongs to the corporate sector, whereas only 1% of the defaulters are farmers. Why’s the banking system designed to favour the rich who already have many perks, while the poor pay a higher price to sustain their livelihoods?

Earth’s ‘technosphere’ now weighs 30 trillion tons, research finds

CBC News reports: A new report has calculated the total mass of all manmade things-from buildings to cars and computers- to be an astounding 30 trillion tons, seven times more than the total amount of living matter on Earth. It shows the sheer magnitude of the human impact on our planet, which is still growing.

As Posco exits steel project, Odisha is left with thousands of felled trees and lost livelihoods

Scroll reports: Twelve years and several twists and turns later, the South Korean steel major has officially withdrawn from the project. With this development, the net result of the Odisha government’s most ambitious industrialisation dream is lakhs of felled trees, thousands of promised jobs that never materialised, and frustrated villagers staring at an uncertain future.

Exposed: The Indian govt’s plan to get environmental violators off the hook

The Wire reports: India’s environment ministry issued a notification that’s a remarkable show of partisan support to projects that have been illegally operating without environmental approvals. The document lays out a process by which illegal industrial units, mines, ports or hydro projects can be granted clearance and “brought into compliance” within the next six months.

The fossil fuel industry’s invisible colonisation of academia

From The Guardian: The research centres we assume to be objective, are connected with the very industry the public believes they are objectively studying. To call this conflict of interest is an understatement: many of them exist as they do only because of the fossil fuel industry. They are industry projects polished with academic credibility.

Indian govt is wary of foreign NGOs, but not corporations?

Ritwick Dutta writes: India’s Environment minister recently urged his colleagues to be wary of foreign-funded NGOs. Ironically, his own party, the ruling BJP, was held guilty by the Delhi High Court for accepting funds from Vedanta, a UK-based company accused of gross environmental and human rights violations. Other violators include Lafarge, POSCO and Coca Cola.

UN experts bust ‘myth’ that pesticides are necessary to feed the world

The Guardian reports: It’s a myth that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population, according to UN food and pollution experts. Their new report is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments to obstruct reforms.

George Monbiot: The Golden Arches Theory of Decline

A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols and slogans trump facts and nuance. One in six Americans now believes that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonald’s can remain a democracy.

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions

Suzanne Goldenberg reports: The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests. They range from investor-owned firms –household names such as Exxon and BP– to state-owned firms.

Vandana Shiva: Beware of digital dictatorship

The digital economy is a design for atomisation, for separation… Imposing the digital economy through a “cash ban” is a form of technological dictatorship, in the hands of the world’s billionaires. Economic diversity and technological pluralism are India’s strength and it is the “hard cash” that insulated India from the global market’s crash of 2008.

Celebrity isn’t just harmless fun – it’s the smiling face of the corporate machine

George Monbiot in The Guardian: The rise of celebrity culture did not happen by itself… It is hard for people to attach themselves to a homogenised franchise, owned by a big corporation. So the machine needs a mask. It must wear the face of someone we see as often as we see our next-door neighbours.

Demonetisation, not drought, behind farmers’ woes

Devinder Sharma writes: After a month of demonetisation, the picture in the rural areas remains too bleak. I know of villages where the farmers had to return empty handed even after seven days of queuing up.  As a TISS study points out, nearly 81 per cent of the villages do not have access to banking.

What has neoliberal capitalism ever done for India?

Colin Todhunter writes: Data from the Multi-dimensional Poverty Index indicates that 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries, but now it has the second worst position. Bangladesh has less than half of India’s per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India.

Demonetisation is a permanent transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich

Shankar Gopalakrishnan writes: Demonetisation’s biggest impact will be on the distribution of resources within the economy, whatever happens to the economy as a whole. Demonetisation’s a giant vacuum, sucking up the resources of the weak and delivering them to the powerful, while acting like it’s doing the opposite. More importantly, this transfer will be permanent.

Is data the ‘fourth paradigm’ of science?

In scientific discovery, the first three paradigms were experimental, theoretical and (more recently) computational science. This new book of essays inspired by the Microsoft researcher Jim Gray argues that a fourth paradigm of scientific discovery is at hand: the analysis of massive data sets. Read John Markoff’s review of the book in The New York Times.

The richest 1% of Indians now own 58.4% of the country’s wealth

Live Mint reports: The richest 1% of Indians now own 58.4% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Switzerland based Credit Suisse Group AG. In the last two years, the share of the top 1% has increased at a cracking pace, from 49% in 2014 to 58.4% in 2016.

Heart of rural India has suffered a stroke: P. Sainath on the note ban

Acclaimed journalist P. Sainath reports from rural Maharashtra: The “Modi masterstroke”, a term contrived by assorted anchors and other clowns on television to hail an unbelievably stupid action, is spreading agony and misery in its wake across the countryside. If there’s been any stroke, it’s the one the heart of the rural economy has suffered.

Pushpa Bhargava: Genetically Modified Mustard and India’s future

GM mustard, if approved, will open the floodgates for other such crops making India one of the largest users of GM crops in the world. Given that its agriculture is largely in the hands of MNCs, India will end up bartering its freedom for the benefit of a few and the misery of the rest.

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