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The precarious situation of India’s water problem

Hari Pulakkat writes: The country’s water data has been largely hidden from public view, and what was available was poor or untrustworthy. This brings up a question rarely asked by policymakers. If scientists find it difficult to analyse the country’s water resources at the moment, how valid are the reports that forecast India’s water future?

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?

How growing a forest transformed a Jharkhand village

From VillageSquare.in: The residents of Hesatu village have successfully raised a thriving forest without any intervention from the state or civil society organisations. They have demonstrated how to create a sustainable economy from ecology by raising a forest of over 100,000 trees on what used to be 365 acres of wasteland barely six years ago.

Commodity derivatives: Playground for speculators, graveyard for farmers?

In a major push to widen the scope of commodity derivatives market in India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has recently allowed options trading on commodity exchanges. Kavaljit Singh argues that what’s good for financial investors and commodity speculators is not necessarily good for the already vulnerable Indian farmer and small entrepreneurs.

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.

Climate change key suspect in the case of India’s vanishing groundwater

Mongabay reports: Since the Green Revolution, Indian farmers have depended on groundwater to grow enough crops to feed the country’s 1.3 billion people, but groundwater is vanishing in many parts of the country. This combination of overpumping and climate change– resulting in weaker monsoons– is partly what’s driving social disruption, including violent protests and suicides.

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.

Pumped dry: India’s accelerating and invisible groundwater crisis

From Policy Forum: India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than anything previous generations ever faced. All water bodies near population centres are now grossly polluted. Interstate disputes over river water allocations are becoming increasingly intense. Surface water conditions in the country are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.

Learning from the past: A new protocol for agricultural education and research in India

We scientists, each one of us, should ask ourselves what the agricultural establishment needs to do in order effectively to address our current agricultural crisis. Given our present mechanistic scientific paradigm, we are part of the problem, and thus cannot, be part of its solution. Our first task, therefore, is to change our outlook fundamentally.

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.

This company is helping 50,000 farmers across 11 states grow and sell pesticide-free food

Safe Harvest is a conglomeration of eight civil society organisations that have been working towards and promoting non-pesticide management (NPM) practices among some of India’s poorest and most disenfranchised communities. Today, they work with a farmer base of close to 50,000 across 11 states, many of whom have seen a 20% rise in their income.

A documentary on India’s agrarian crisis, by an award-winning young filmmaker

This 27-year-old documentary filmmaker from Hyderabad has won 104 national and international awards. Anshul Sinha has spent more than a year now, studying and understanding the agrarian crisis that has affected the country. “The vision of the film is to save farmers in India,” says Anshul. Despite his credentials, Anshul’s new film has no takers.

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.

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.”

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