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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.

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.

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.

Environ-Mental? The bizarre ‘green’ ideas of our netas

India Water Portal reports: The year 2016 was an abysmal year in terms of environmental policy and conservation in India. There were also many initiatives worth talking about. Any initiative, however, is only as good as those managing it. Here we talk about four people in the country who made news for their water-related actions.

Why the 2017 Union Budget is deceptively ‘pro-farmer’

Kirankumar Vissa writes; Everyone in the media has been talking about the slew of pro-farmer measures included in Budget 2017, how it is a Budget for the ‘have nots’ and one that will give a big fillip to agriculture. It is time to call this Budget what it is–a big prank on India’s farming community.

Ecologise Hyderabad celebrates 200 years of the bicycle

Cycle enthusiasts from across the city of Hyderabad gathered on January 29, 2017, to celebrate the bicentenary of the invention of the bicycle. The event was organised by Ecologise and included a film screening and a talk by T. Vijayendra, a founding member of Ecologise Hyderabad, on the relevance of the bicentennial year of bicycle.

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.

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.

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.

Demonetisation, farmer suicides, and the Union budget

Live Mint reports: Agriculture is likely to be the worst affected by the note ban, because 1) The policy coincided with harvest of kharif crops, and farmers are facing difficulty selling it. 2) Lack of cash must have posed difficulty in sowing of rabi crops. 3) Unlike other sectors, farm output is perishable in nature.

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.

Defying capitalism and socialism, Kumarappa and Gandhi had imagined a decentralised Indian economy

Gandhi and Kumarappa shared an objective of building a non-violent social and economic order that promoted equity and justice for all. Their understanding led them to conclude that “the only path to true democracy in political life, and to peace among nations” was a decentralised economic and political system where, necessarily, the “rewards were moderate”.

Adani Power Vs The People Of Jharkhand

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.

Demonetisation and the silent suffering of Bharat

Milind Murugkar writes: ‘Why doesn’t the informal sector, supposedly badly hit by demonetisation, protest or scream in pain?’. Defenders of demonetisation often pose this question. If you want an answer to the question, please listen to Sachin Jadhav. His story takes us through the long chain of economic loss and suffering of the rural population.

Report: Farmer suicides spiked by 42% in 2015; debt leading cause

Samar writes: Indebtedness was behind 38.7% of farmer suicides in 2015; the corresponding figure for the same head in overall suicides in India is a mere 3.3%. Nearly 80% of those who killed themselves because of indebtedness had taken loans from “Financial Institutions like Bank/Registered Micro Financial Institutions”, and a mere 302 from “Money Lenders”.

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.

This gated community in Bangalore epitomises urban India’s class divide

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.”

Take a deep breath – here’s what 2016 revealed about the deadly dangers of air pollution

Gary Haq writes: The health impacts of air pollution are well documented; but now, new evidence suggests a link between air pollution and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with exposure to poor air quality equivalent to passively smoking six cigarettes a day. Toxic air has been blamed for more road traffic crashes from pollutants distracting drivers.

The Jharkhand Model of Development: Resources for investors, bullets for villagers

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.”

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