“The worst thing about cars is that they are like castles or villas by the sea: luxury goods invented for the exclusive pleasure of a very rich minority, and which in conception and nature were never intended for the people”. So starts Andre Gorz’s justly famous 1973 essay which remains as relevant today as ever.
In 1964, renowned filmmaker Satyajit Ray was asked to create a short film for a TV-showcase by American oil company Esso. Asked to write and direct the film in English, Ray opted instead to make a film without words. The result is a poignant fable of modernity and ‘development’, which remains just as relevant today.
Shashank Kalra writes: We have a vivid vision of a thriving urban space; but what would a thriving rural space look like? This was one of the key questions I went with in this Gramya Manthan, a rural immersion-programme. Here, I shall bring up some of the subtler issues, which aren’t ‘rural issues’ but all-pervasive.
A startlingly pessimistic vision of India’s looming environmental and economic collapse by a senior business leader deserves our urgent attention and ought to revive the debate on development, democracy and policy choices. It’s also the closest we have got to a confession from an insider as to what has really been going in the country.
Here is the ambitious (and controversial) proposal by E.O. Wilson —arguably the world’s most lauded living evolutionary biologist— to save life on Earth by setting aside around half the planet in various types of nature reserves. Also included is a research paper exploring the viability of Wilson’s proposal, along with a sharp critique of it.
During my first encounter with resource depletion issues I thought re-localisation would be a strategy to defy the odds. One relocates to a resource abundant small geography and maintains it through a community driven process. But then, I never pursued it. However, the recent news of India’s looming water crisis has got me thinking again.
J.C. Kumarappa was a stalwart of India’s freedom movement, Gandhian economic philosopher, pioneer in the development of village and cottage industries and advocate of a decentralised, localised economy of permanence and freedom. Yet, he remains practically unknown to the present generation of Indians. A tribute to Kumarappa by Pranjali Bandhu, editor of his collected writings.
Sopan Joshi writes: Sanitation links the rich to the poor, the land to the water, the clean to the unclean, the sacred to the untouchable. But sanitation discussions among India’s elites is driven by a concern about India’s international image. If it evades our dirty realities, SBA will not go beyond an attempted image makeover.
Oil. The 20th century was shaped by it. The 21st century is moving beyond it. But who gave birth to the oil industry? What have they done with the immense wealth and power it granted them? And what are they planning to do with that power in a post-carbon world? The Corbett Report finds out.
Reading about energy today, it’s easy to get the impression that our energy problem is a quality problem—some energy is polluting; other energy is hoped to be less polluting. There’s a different issue that we are not being told about. It’s the fact that having enough energy – quantity – is extremely important, as well.
Ratheesh Pisharody writes: The protest in Tuticorin and the police reaction to it is exactly what is expected in a society built on foundations of greed and injustice. Whose interest do you think the police is supposed to protect? Ours, the “middle class” of course. We need those cheap phones and air conditioners, don’t we?
José Mujica was the President of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015 and was a former urban guerrilla fighter who was imprisoned for 13 years during the military dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s. Often referred to as the “world’s most humble president”, he retired from office in 2015 with an approval rating of 70 percent.
With $405 billion in sales last year, Wal-Mart is so big, it casts a global shadow across the lives of hundreds of millions of people, from California to China. David Moberg takes closer look at the controversial policies of the retail giant, which recently made a backdoor entry into India by acquiring e-commerce major Flipkart.
Martin Parker writes: B-school market managerialism sells a utopia for the wealthy and powerful, one which students are encouraged to imagine themselves joining. But it comes at a very high cost: environmental catastrophe, resource wars and forced migration, inequality within and between countries, the encouragement of hyper-consumption as well as persistently anti-democratic practices at work.
The pro-and anti-GMO positions will remain irreconcilably polarized as long as larger questions remain unexamined. What’s at stake here is much more than a choice about GMOs. It is a choice between two very different systems of food production, two visions of society, and two fundamentally different ways to relate to plants, animals, and soil.
It was supposed to be the site of western France’s biggest airport, but instead, it became the center of a utopian experiment. Hundreds of squatters –eco-warriors to some, green jihadis to others– now live in the ZAD, which resisted a eviction operation after a 2,500 strong police unit recently forced their way into the camp.
Ashish Kothari & Aseem Shrivastava write: The growing protests of farmers around the country-last month’s protests in Mumbai being the latest-is not just a claim for dignity. Even more portentously, it calls into question the paradigmatic rationality of the reigning development model. Alternatives do exist, practised and conceived of at hundreds of sites in India.
From Transformative Cities: The Atlas of Utopias is a global gallery of inspiring community led transformation in water, energy and housing. The atlas features 32 communities from 19 countries who responded to the Transformative Cities initiative which seeks to learn from cities working on radical solutions to our world’s systemic economic, social and ecological crises.
The Indian Himalayan region is seeing a myriad of conflicts and challenges, and somehow increasing literacy levels or education is not providing the answers we urgently seek. Reliance on an education providing merely literacy, connecting people to a wider world, but alienating them from their environments, has done little good to people or their ecosystems.
From Nature: In this in depth investigation of India’s feeble fight against consumerist waste, are robust statistics, compelling history and telling case studies. The authors, anthropologist Assa Doron and historian Robin Jeffrey, also throw the occasional philosophical curve ball, such as: “waste is in the eye of the beholder”. The result is both beguiling and disturbing.