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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Amit Bhardwaj reports: The Jharkhand Government wants thousands of farmers to give up their multi-crop fertile lands for the Adani power plant. The plant will sell its entire electricity produce to Bangladesh. “They’ve used 1932 land records to show that a majority of the land here is not being used for agriculture,” said Vidya Devi.
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.
Rahul Chandran writes: A resident, who did not wish to be identified, talks about certain benches where the maids and drivers were not allowed to sit. “We had one more rule earlier— now its scrapped— the maids are not supposed to travel in the passenger lift, they were supposed to travel in the service lift.”
When seven deaths have not stirred the government’s conscience, Rai is convinced that the resistance is futile. “The worst pain in the world is the pain of being displaced,” said Rai. “But the fact is neither political protests nor public demand can stop displacement. We’ll have to leave this village, our fields and our history.”
The Forest Rights Act of 2006 was widely hailed as a landmark legislation, one that sought to empower some of India’s most disenfranchised communities– the Adivasis. Ten years later, only 3 percent of forest dwellers have their rights recognised, and the Act itself is increasingly being undermined by the present government. Here’s a closer look.
Catch News reports: Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir-Champa region, once famous for paddy cultivation, is now emerging as the state’s power hub with several power plants coming up in the area during the recent years. While fuelling the state’s economic growth, dust and ash emitted from these power plants are turning thousands of local people blind from cataract.
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.
From the lignite mines in Rhineland, to the streets of Paris, the struggles for climate justice are fought at more and more fronts. This film documents the story of a growing movement that says “Enough! Here and no further!” and commits civil disobedience taking the transition towards a climate just society into its own hands.
Hydropower is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions: a new study shows that the world’s hydroelectric dams are responsible for as much methane emissions as Canada. The study finds that methane, which is at least 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide, makes up 80% of the emissions from water reservoirs created by dams.
Can there be a collective search for paradigms and pathways towards a world that is sustainable, equitable and just? How can such frameworks and visions build on an existing heritage of ideas and worldviews and cultures, and on past or new grassroots practice? This note attempts to layout a few thoughts towards such a process.
Samar Halarnkar writes: In Nature in the City, her evocative exploration of Bangalore’s natural history, Harini Nagendra, says, “… residents engaged in practices such as placing a plate of warm rice (often with ghee added) outside to feed crows, leaving water baths for birds in the summer, and sugar and milk for ants and reptiles.”
Development is more than an ideology; it is an ideology in service to an economic necessity which, in turn, is not a real necessity but contingent on a growth dependent debt-based financial system. Until that system changes, the pressure to develop— to convert natural resources into commodities and social relationships into services— will not abate.
Shashank Kela, author of an acclaimed study of adivasi history and politics, writes: This essay aims to make connections between things that are usually studied separately– environmental history, political economy, conservation practice and adivasi politics. The belief that this potential convergence could do with wider discussion is my sole justification for putting it up here.