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Beggars as choosers: Why India’s poor opt to beg

Beggars are usually ignored on the streets and questions are asked about why they don’t work. But many have indeed worked as paid labour and have chosen begging as the primary activity, finds Sabina Yasmin Rahman. As India’s urban and rural poor reel from a state-made economic crisis, this revealing study takes on an urgent relevance.

The fate of Ladakh in the Age of Ambani

Padma Rigzin writes: Ladakh’s folk religion teaches that humans do not form the centre of the natural world but are merely inhabitants. So much so that my ancestors would not move a rock to build a house. Unfortunately, people in Leh are shouting the tune of the mainstream. Ambani has already started knocking our doors.

Arabian Sea: The new cradle for deadly tropical cyclones

From Down to Earth: Findings by Hiroyuki Murakami of Princeton University suggest that 64% of the cyclone risk in the Arabian Sea was due to climate change. The study further warns that the coastal areas surrounding the Arabian Sea are at specific risk since the geographical location offers cyclones nowhere to go but the land.

How the ‘Gujarat model’ is devouring Gujarat (and not just Gujarat)

From The Hindu: The perverse ‘achievements’ of those relentless in their advocacy of the Sardar-Sarovar dam are now evident. The riches of Gujarat—shown as a model to the rest of India—are the result of such violent extraction, exploitation and destruction that benefit a few while victimising many. Any protest is being beaten into the earth.

Paradise imperilled: The ‘development’ onslaught awaiting Kashmir

A slew of infrastructure projects in Kashmir, now a Union Territory, are now likely to be fast-tracked. These include road projects totalling 683.31 km, the marquee Zojila and Z-Morh tunnels, and several dam projects. This LiveMint article says the infrastructure push must be seen in the backdrop of China’s controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor next door.

The terrifying implications of India’s elections for people and the planet

Basav Sen, director, Climate Policy Project, writes: The Modi government’s far right bigotry is well known, but its equally disturbing environmental record isn’t. While indigenous peoples and other rural populations have borne the brunt of the Indian state’s environmental recklessness, urban populations aren’t faring much better. Half of the 50 most polluted cities worldwide are in India.

Forest rights: The arrogance of the ignorant

From The Hindu: That those forests inhabited by Adivasis are some of the best conserved in the subcontinent is a long-standing fact contrary to the understanding of supposedly educated Indians. Sadly, the articulate arrogance of ‘New India’ prevents them from seeing any virtue in those communities who have lived in and by the forests since times immemorial.

NDA 2.0: What it means for India’s environment

From Mongabay: Activists fear dilutions of the green laws and rules against the interests of forest dwellers and tribals would continue unabated. The union environment already has, on its table, an amendment in the Indian Forest Act 1927, revision of the national forest policy and the new set of rules for the environment clearance regime.

Arundhati Roy: ‘We’re lurching into an unknown future, in a blitzkrieg of idiocy’

“And now, irony of ironies, a consensus is building that climate change is the world’s single largest security challenge. Increasingly the vocabulary around it is being militarized. And no doubt very soon its victims will become the ‘enemies’ in the new war without end.” (From Arundhati Roy’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture for PEN-America)

How the Narendra Modi government is diluting green clearance norms

From Down to Earth: It looks like the environmental clearance process is becoming a formality. The quality of assessment, compliance of clearance conditions and the involvement of local community through public hearings are being further weakened. The purpose is to ease the process of obtaining clearances for mega projects like Bharatmala Pariyojana and Sagar Mala.

Dhruv Rathee: Environment is the Modi government’s most under-reported disaster

The UPA government didn’t have a stellar record on environment, but what has happened in past five years is unprecedented. The biggest statistical evidence for this lies in the Environmental Performance Index, where India was ranked the fourth-worst country (177) in the world out of 180 last year. Five years ago, India was ranked 155th.

Taking India’s climate migrants seriously

Given the scale of the problem, India’s response to climate migration has been woefully inadequate. Administrative lethargy or the lack of foresight and planning will only exacerbate the suffering and plight of climate migrants. This is particularly unjust to them, as they are least responsible for the mess we find ourselves in, writes Nandan Sharalaya

Kaiga nuclear plant expansion: Expect body blow for Western Ghats biodiversity

From Down to Earth: The biodiversity of the Western Ghats, already under a lot of anthropogenic pressure, will suffer even more if the expansion of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant, goes ahead. That this will be done for generating power through a technology that has several alternative and much benign options is even more ironical.

Indian environmental movements: Why they failed or succeeded, and the challenges ahead

Many of these battles were fought not because people understood how these projects affected the environment but because they saw the loss of their land and livelihoods as the loss of security and dignity. As a woman adivasi farmer succinctly put it, “I wish to be a farmer, and not a housemaid in someone’s home.”

Thousands in Maharashtra are opposing what could be ‘globe’s largest’ oil refinery

From The Wire: The Rs 3 lakh crore oil refinery project, planned by oil majors over an expanse of over 15,000 acres of land in Maharashtra’s Konkan region, if it takes off, will inevitably displace farmers and fisherfolk from 17 villages – 15 villages in Ratnagiri and two in neighbouring Sindhudurg along the western coast.

How conservation became colonialism

From Foreign Policy: Conservationism often conflicts with indigenous traditions of stewardship that have kept the rainforests in balance for thousands of years. The tension has its roots in the founding worldview of modern conservationism, which was conceived not during today’s battle to save the rainforests, but during the genocidal Indian wars in the American West.

Laboratory of Fascism : Capital, labour and environment in Modi’s Gujarat

Rohit Prajapati and Trupti Shah write: We are caught in a false debate, where Narendra Modi, the perpetrator of 2002 carnage is counter-posed with Modi the “development leader”. We call it a false debate, since for us, who have lived and grown in Gujarat, the two aspects are actually the same – that of fascism.

The unseen driver behind the migrant caravan: climate change

From The Guardian: Thousands of Central American migrants trudging through Mexico towards the US have regularly been described as either fleeing gang violence or extreme poverty. But another crucial driving factor behind the migrant caravan has been harder to grasp: climate change, even if migrants don’t often specifically mention “climate change” as a motivating factor.

What’s the truth behind the Botswana elephant deaths?

The news is awash with reports of 87 elephants having been “killed by poachers” in Botswana, supposedly a result of wildlife guards no longer carrying firearms. The story originates with “Elephants Without Borders,” an NGO which is getting massive publicity, and presumably donations, as a result. Survival International’s Stephen Corry digs up the real story.

The great Indian irrigation deceit

J. Harsha, Director, Central Water Commission, writes: India fails to deliver water in time, and in adequate quantities to small landholdings (< 1 hectare) belonging to marginal farmers (constituting 85 per cent of total farmers) cultivating in 43.64 million hectares of canal-irrigated areas. The impact of this great Indian irrigation deceit is enormous on agriculture

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