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livelihoods & rights

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.

Red alert: Fish under threat from ocean oxygen depletion

The Guardian reports: A new study shows that oxygen levels in oceans have fallen 2% in 50 years due to climate change, which threatens future fish stocks and the habitat and behaviour of marine life. Related: Amitav Ghosh warns that the Bay of Bengal’s depleted fish stocks and huge dead zone signal a tipping point.

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.

Is Costa Rica the world’s happiest, greenest country?

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.

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.

George Monbiot: The Golden Arches Theory of Decline

A wave of revulsion rolls around the world. Approval ratings for incumbent leaders are everywhere collapsing. Symbols and slogans trump facts and nuance. One in six Americans now believes that military rule would be a good idea. From all this I draw the following, peculiar conclusion: no country with a McDonald’s can remain a democracy.

Women bear the brunt of climate-forced migration

Manipadma Jena reports: An ActionAid report released last month warns of the devastating and increasing impact of climate change on women in South Asia, stating how “Young females from neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh who migrate to India as well as internal migrants from rural areas moving to cities are increasingly vulnerable to abuse and trafficking.”

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.

Amitav Ghosh: What nutmeg can tell us about globalisation

From The New York Times: …It is impossible to imagine a world without global connections: They have always existed, and no place has escaped their formative influence. But this does not mean that there is any inherent merit in interconnectedness, which has always been accompanied by violence, deepening inequalities and the large-scale destruction of communities.

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.

Tribute: T. Hanumantha Rao, champion of water management alternatives

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.

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