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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.

How a holy hill got its groves back

From The Hindu: An afforestation initiative led by naturalists and locals, with support from forest and revenue department officials, has resulted in the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, shedding its barren, brown visage. Lalitha Sridhar reports on the decade-plus-long turnaround of a damaged fragile, semi-arid ecosystem by successfully harnessing scientific expertise and local knowledge.

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.

Nivedita Khandekar: Why floods in Assam and Bihar are worsening over time

From Daily O: Two important things stand out: lack of information at the grassroots level and the attitude of policymakers, and to some extent people too, towards dealing with floods. Assam’s information network has improved, but population explosion forces people to risk lives for a few weeks of floods by living at the river bank.

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.

The Dirty 120: Urgewald exposes world’s biggest coal plant developers

From Mining Review Africa: Environmental NGO Urgewald has revealed companies that are at the forefront to expand the world’s coal-fired power by 42.8%. The report identifies the 120 companies that are planning about 850 new coal plants in 62 countries–including Indian coal majors Adani, Tata, Lanco and Coal India, which are driving the biggest plants.

From Bangalore to Srinagar, India’s lakes are dead in the water

From Hindustan Times: The NGT has repeatedly criticised Bengaluru’s civic authorities this year for letting the city’s water bodies become toxic waste dumps. The central body could find similarly mistreated lakes in countless Indian cities, where wetlands are being lost due to urbanisation, changes in land use and pollution. What lakes have survived are shrinking.

A grain of truth: RCEP and the corporate hijack of Indian agriculture

Colin Todhunter writes in Countercurrents.org: A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift to cash crops (including GM-cotton) has caused massive financial distress to small farmers in India. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal now being negotiated by 16 countries across Asia-Pacific, could accelerate this process.

One of the biggest icebergs in recorded history just broke loose from Antarctica

The Washington Post reports: Scientists have announced that a much-anticipated break at the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica has occurred, unleashing a massive iceberg that is more than 2,200 square miles in area and weighs a trillion tons. Also, Nagraj Adve on why India must heed the cracking of this Haryana-sized Antarctic ice shelf.

Nuclear power: Expensive, hazardous and inequitable

From The Hindu: The government’s recent decision to approve the construction of ten 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors deserves to be scrutinised carefully. The government claims that this displays “India’s commitment to sustainable development”. But does the path to sustainable development run through a source of electricity that’s expensive, hazardous and antithetical to equity?

Sabarmati riverfront, inland waterways, Mahanadi dispute, are all newer forms of onslaught on rivers

From Counterview.org: The Sabarmati River Front has been in the news lately as a model of “river beautification”. When in reality, it is a dead river, filled with effluents and sewage. It was “rejuvenated” with Narmada water, which came at a great cost of the displacement of lakhs of people and destruction of the environment.

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.

Why landslides have been leading to a higher loss of life in recent times

From The Wire: Why are landslides are proving so costly in terms of loss of human lives in recent years? Relentless deforestation leads to denudation of the hills, making them more vulnerable to landslides. Another factor is that without giving due consideration to vulnerability of certain areas, indiscriminate construction and mining activities are taken up.

Mining in Gadchiroli – building a castle of injustices

From Countercurrents.org: This article is about the struggle to save the rich, dense and old growth forests in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra by the Madia Gond adivasis residing in these forests. Communities like theirs don’t celebrate World Environment Day, but it is in their struggles that the ecological and cultural wellbeing of our country currently rests.

Independence of the National Green Tribunal under threat

News Click reports: The Ministry of Environment plans to amend the National Green Tribunal Act, which was passed during the UPA regime as part of India’s commitment under the Rio Declaration. The move will result in a dilution of the powers of the body, widely regarded as the most effective environmental court in the world.

Modi govt’s environment policy endorses everything that bodes well for business

From The Wire: From its environmental track record, one thing that emerges is the current government’s penchant for innovation, be that its earliest initiative – wanting to ‘reform’ (or dismantle) key environmental laws – or the subsequent interventions that have ended up in subverting the management of natural ecosystems, spanning forests, rivers, coasts and wetlands.

Felix Padel: Adivasi economics may be the only hope for India’s future

India’s Tribal communities are under extreme pressure, right from big dams and mines to violent insur gencies and militarisation engulfing their lands. In 25 years, will these communities cease to exist? Or, will they represent thriving, revitalised models of egalitarian sustainability that the rest of the world has come to recognise and is learning from?

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.

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