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India’s dispossessed confront a new threat: solar parks

Frontline reports: Across the country, large tracts of land are being earmarked for exclusive solar power parks. The rocky terrain of Madhya Pradesh’s Neemuch district has emerged as the largest solar power-generating hub in India, but the nomadic communities that have lived there for generations find themselves dispossessed of land and reduced to abject poverty.

Medha Patkar: Politics over Narmada, once again

From The Wire: As the Gujarat government rushes to close the Sardar Sarovar dam gates ahead of elections, 40,000 residents of the Narmada valley are facing a nightmare of submergence. It’s this injustice and violence, and the development paradigm debate –development for whom and at what cost– that makes Narmada a litmus test for India.

New report ranks India near the bottom of the global heap on inequality

Huffington Post reports: India ranks 132nd out of 152 countries on a new index that measures the commitment by a country towards reducing inequality. The index is composed of 21 data points with varying weights; including health and education, share of tax revenue in the GDP, share of tax exemptions, minimum wage and maternity benefits.

Tribute: A mountain and a movement: the Save Western Ghats March

From The Hindu:  Straddling six states, the 1600-odd kilometre-long Western Ghats is home to an astonishing diversity of life and supports innumerable communities and cultures. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the remarkable 100-day ‘Save Western Ghats March’, a landmark event in Indian environmental activism, which became the model for numerous campaigns to follow.

India’s top predator may just be the dog. And we’re to blame

From Hindustan Times: Man’s best friend has become a growing threat to India’s wildlife. As canine numbers rise in cities, towns and villages, entire ecosystems are being affected.They’ve attacked endangered stags in Kashmir and preyed on livestock in the Himalayas. Wild ass, gazelle, nilgai, blackbuck and deer have died of dog attacks in our sanctuaries.

Spotlight: Rs 1,402,680,000,000 – India’s agrarian import bill for 2015-16

Down to Earth reports: Despite bumper production, volume of import of cereals like wheat and maize increased by 110 times between 2014 and 2017. Traders now find it cheaper to import from Australia than to procure locally. India’s already distressed farmers are the hardest hit by the fall in the prices caused by the rising imports.

Three times rise in killings of India’s land, eco-defenders: Modi govt blamed for “stifling opposition” by any means

From Counterview/Global Witness: A just-released global report has revealed that the number of land and environment defenders killed in India has almost trebled, from 6 in 2015 to 16 in 2016, blaming it on “a disturbing trend” of increasing police brutality, indicating the Modi government’s determination “to stifle opposition to ‘development’ by any means necessary.”

Branding the farmer agitations ‘political’ betrays a lack of understanding

From The Indian Express: It’s a dark satire to tell a farmer that the Minimum Support Price (MSP), CPI and WPI changes reflect farmer incomes are doubling and farmer suicides are declining. The trigger for the recent farm agitation remains the depressed farm gate price compared to previous years —that’s what matters on the ground.

A Bangladeshi professor is risking his life to defend the Sundarbans

From Scroll.in: 60-year-old Anu Muhammad, the author of 30 books, has been getting repeated death threats for his role leading a seven-year campaign against plans to build a $1.5 billion coal-fired power plant in Rampal, southern Bangladesh, on a site teeming with waterways, mud flats and a host of threatened species from crocodiles to pythons.

Conservation betrayals in Central India

Heera Bai reports: Across the Tribal Belt of Central India, indigenous communities are constantly being evicted from ancestral lands to make way for development projects, industry, tourism and government-sanctioned conservation initiatives. In the states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Baiga community have faced a legacy of evictions that dates back more than 30 years.

Watch: Will Bhangar be Mamata Banerjee’s Nandigram?

From People’s Media: In January 2017, two people were killed when the police fired on villagers in Bhangar, in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district. They were protesting the forcible acquisition of their fertile agricultural land for a proposed powerg-rid substation. Read reports and watch a short film made on location, as the events unfolded.

Only a unified Kisan identity will make politicians take notice of the agrarian crisis

Devinder Sharma writes: In the past 21 years, over 3.18 lakh farmers have committed suicide; that’s one farmer ending his life every 41 minutes. Every death on the farm infuriated the farmers, their families. But political leaders have always ignored the warning. Not realising that the day farmers wake up, Indian politics will change forever.

What Gujarat govt calls ‘historic’, could be catastrophic for 1,00,000 villagers

Fifty-six years after the foundation stone for the Sardar-Sarovar dam on the Narmada was laid, the Gujarat government has got permission from the Centre to shut its gates. It will open the gates of misery for more than 100,000 people, whose houses and land are likely to get submerged. A Down To Earth ground report.

Tribute: Bill Kayong, Malaysian activist who fought to protect native forests

From Yale Environment 360: On this day last year, Bill Kayong, an up-and-coming political activist in Miri, a coastal oil town in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, was shot dead. At the time, Kayong was leading a campaign to protect native forest lands and stop incursions on traditional lands by logging and palm oil companies.

Former Planning Commission member Mihir Shah on the farm crisis

From The Hindu: For long, we’ve said that the solution is to get people off farming. While we need more manufacturing jobs, latest projections show rural India will still have 800 million people in 2050. Moving people to the cities could deepen the urban imbroglio. So solutions have to be found for agriculture, and fast.

Demonetisation has failed: Farmers’ anger is the final piece of evidence

R. Jagannathan, Editor, Swarajya Magazine, writes: It is time for a mea culpa on demonetisation. This writer has been largely positive on the medium-to-long-term benefits of notebandi, as opposed to its short-term downsides. Now, especially after the farmer agitations for loan waivers, I believe the negative side is larger than the positive. It has failed.

P. Sainath: Why are our farmers angry?

From People’s Archive of Rural India: From farmers being shot dead in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh, to those across Maharashtra out on the streets, to those from Tamil Nadu on hunger strike in New Delhi not so long ago, this has been a season of agrarian discontent. Why is this happening, which way will it go?

Forbes Magazine’s ‘Go bust’ prescription for Indian farmers is a death warrant

A recent article by Tim Worstall on the Forbes website states that, in effect, India’s farmers should be allowed to go bust because that’s how economic development works. This response from Countercurrents.org traces the criminal role of neoliberal policies in undermining farmer’s independence and livelihoods to favour global agribusiness. The article has since gone viral.

Ground Report: How demonetisation brought MP farmers onto streets

This series of timely reports from Hindustan Times surveys the explosive situation in Madhya Pradesh’s Mandsaur district, epicenter of the violent protests that left six farmers dead from police bullets. The lead article looks at the impact of demonetisation in creating the crisis, while another report examines the role of social media in organising farmers.

Harsh Singh Lohit: Why do farmers protest?

Why, please ask yourself, does the city get 24 hour electricity, schools, colleges, dispensaries, hospitals, roads, public transport, even cooking gas and the village either not at all or services that are a pale shadow of their urban selves? Why this inequality in allocation of resources, even though 68.84% of Indians live in rural areas?

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