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livelihoods & rights

‘If we go on like this, the entire mass of small fishers will be wiped out.’

The Indian coastline no longer belongs to its traditional custodians— the small fisher people. A jamboree of development —cities, SEZs, power plants, ports, sand mining— is eating up the coastline and eroding it beyond repair. Debasis Shyamal of the National Fishworkers’ Forum speaks to Sayantan Bera on the present and future of India’s traditional fishers.

What does it mean for a river to have rights?

From The Hindu: The rights do not stem from an intrinsic identity or status of the river, but more from their use for humans; and giving them ‘personhood’ or legal status makes it very human-centred. Can rivers not be recognised as having identity, worth, dignity, and rights as intrinsic qualities, not because they serve us?

Goenchi Mati: A call for environmental custodianship and inter-generational equity in mining

Rahul Basu writes: Goa Foundation, one of the country’s best-known environmental groups, has proposed a whole new approach to mining that’s designed to tackle the colossal damage caused by rampant corruption and human greed. It can be applied globally to natural resources and commons generally, but starting with minerals as their economic values are clearer.

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?

Fishers turn climate scientists to save beaches

India Climate Dialogue reports: A community-managed shoreline monitoring project in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry is tracking changes to beaches to safeguard an ecosystem that is vital for the livelihoods of fishing communities. “A Tide Turns” is a community science initiative that has helped turn more than 120 people from local fishing communities into climate scientists.

Historic verdict in Indonesia’s fight against deforestation

From Friends of the Earth: The 2015 Indonesian forest fires, started by farmers and palm-oil companies to clear land for plantation, lasted for months and caused massive air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, at one point releasing more carbon dioxide than the entire U.S. economy, and causing an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region.

Meat-eating and the environment: An open letter to Sunita Narain

Global Environmentalist writes: Your blog post has given every urban Indian a free pass to continue to devour animals as it pleases their taste buds, all in the name of ‘saving the farmers’. The question is, will these people be able to save themselves when we don’t have enough clean water, air and good health?

El Salvador makes history as first nation to impose blanket ban on metal mining

The Guardian reports: El Salvador has made history after becoming the first country in the world to ban metal mining. Cristina Starr, from Radio Victoria, said: “Today water won over gold. This historic victory is down to the clarity and determination of the Salvadoran people fighting for life over the economic interests of a few.”

Spotlight: Activists fighting to protect nature and livelihoods in India’s scheduled areas

Counterview reports: At a time when indigenous communities are losing access to land, and other natural resources, these activists have been relentlessly fighting for social justice, mostly in schedule five areas and other tribal belts. Here are profiles of some of these inspiring grassroots heroes, who were recently felicitated at an event held in Delhi.

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.

Sunita Narain: Why I would not advocate vegetarianism

Farmers need options to take care of animals that are not producing milk. Or they will be forced to let them stray, to eat the plastic cities throw away and die. By banning meat we are literally taking away half the potential income the livestock owner possesses. It is stealing from the poor, nothing less.

Why our approach to World Forests Day is a threat to forests

Souparna Lahiri writes: How will forests provide for such high energy demands being put on them, especially in the name of renewables? In the Global South, there’s a rise in monoculture tree plantations for biofuels, or wood. Biofuel plantations have already caused the clearing of rainforests and threatened animals and humans that depend on them.

Obituary: Veloor Swaminathan, who led a legendary fight against Coca Cola that’s finding new resonance

K.P. Sasi writes: Swaminathan along with Mylamma were the initial foundations of the historic struggle at Plachimada, Kerala. The struggle initiated by a small group of these Adivasis with Dalits and farmers forced one of the largest corporate powers in the world to back down and quit Plachimada. Swaminathan passed away on March 14, 2015.

The biggest refugee crisis since WWII is a sign of a planet in trouble

David Korten writes that if don’t make a collective choice to heal the planet and build a fundamentally more equitable society, we’ll see intensifying competition for shrinking resources and habitable spaces. Activist Mary Robinson explains why climate change Is a threat to human rights and asks us to join the movement for worldwide climate justice.

Can India Inc. face the truth about the Manesar violence?

Yesterday, a local court convicted 31, and acquitted 117 of the 148 workers charged with the murder of an HR manager at Maruti-Suzuki’s Manesar plant five years ago. The verdict once again puts the spotlight on the extreme exploitation and structural violence that characterise Indian industry, described by G. Sampath in this unforgettable 2012 article.

When money does grow on trees

The services provided by Nature mostly bypasses markets, escapes pricing and defies valuation. Consider this. A 50-year-old tree provides services like oxygen, water recycling, soil conservation and pollution control worth Rs 23 lakh. Cutting and selling it fetches only Rs 50,000. Yet due to ignorance olf its ecological services, felling a tree seems more profitable.

Five families that gave up city life for the rural dream

TheNewsMinute reports: About a half-hour distance from the Tiruvannamalai government bus depot lies the Marudam Farm School in Kanathampoondi…  It was in 2009 that the idea for the farm school was born when Govinda and his wife Leela came here for an afforestation project. It was then the couple dreamt of building a sustainable community.

George Schaller: ‘India has far too casually allowed development in nature reserves’

Dr George Schaller, considered one of the finest field biologists in the world, and has a close connection to India. His work with tigers in Madhya Pradesh’s Kanha National Park, revolutionised wildlife research in India. He tells Scroll.in how Indian conservation has changed, why scientists need to engage with governments and what keeps him going.

How to steal a river: New York Times on India’s rampant sand mining

The hundreds of millions of Indians migrating from villages to cities require up to a billion square yards of new real estate development annually. Current construction already draws more than 800 million tons of sand every year, mostly from India’s waterways. All the people I spoke to assumed that much of it is taken illegally.

Why the Coke-Pepsi boycott in Tamil Nadu is a good thing

Nityanand Jayaraman writes: Coke and Pepsi are the best-known agents of commodification of water. It’s unethical and immoral for a resource that is so vital to life to be commodified. So, every nail in the coffins of companies involved in selling water –like Coke, Pepsi, Nestle, Tata and so on– is a nail well driven.

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