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Toilets for all? May be a crappy idea

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.

Nanduwali: A river comes to people

Nanduwali in east Rajasthan started flowing again when the villagers decided to work with nature and not against it. There was a time when they believed that crops grow only with rainfall -lacking knowledge about the underground movement of water and how it can be enhanced. Today, the revived river is a lifeline to them.

Tribute: Pirating Seeds – The story of Dadaji Khobragade

Grown over a million acres of farmland, the HMT rice variety – developed by Dadaji Ramaji Khobragade, a small cultivator and self-trained plant breeder – brought a measure of prosperity to several hundred thousand farmers in Maharashtra and neighbouring states. Bharat Mansata pays tribute to the legendary farmer and seed saver who died on Sunday

Monsanto and Bayer: Agriculture just took a turn for the worse

Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto represents another big click on the ratchet of corporate power over farming and food. With the ‘Big-Six’ of global agribusiness now set to turn into the ‘even bigger three’, farmers and consumers face more GMOs and pesticides, less choice, and deeper price gouging. Agroecology has never looked more attractive.

Modi and Adani: the old friends laying waste to India’s environment

From Climate Home News: Perhaps the most egregious fix, given the prominence of the issue and its consequences for Indians’ health, is the Modi government’s attempts to defer a December 2017 deadline for air pollution standards for thermal power plants. Without these, India’s hopes of reducing deadly air pollution from its electricity sector are nixed.

Polavaram: The pointless mega dam that will displace 4,00,000

Dam’ned, a documentary by filmmaker Saraswati Kavula, takes a closer look at how the Polavaram Dam project affects the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people, with dubious benefits expected. Despite increasing evidence of the destructive consequences of big dams across the world, why do our governments keep pushing for these mega projects, she asks.

The Pathalgadi rebellion

Tribals make up 26% of Jharkhand’s population. Recently, many Adivasi villages in Jharkhand have put up giant plaques declaring their gram sabha as the only sovereign authority and banning ‘outsiders’ from their area. The Hindu reports on a political movement that is gathering steam across the State’s tribal belt, originally inspired by the PESA Act.

Storms in India: The Science of Severity

Around 127 people died and 300 others injured during the severe dust and thunderstorms that shook north India on May 2; wind speeds of 126 kilometres making it the strongest storm in six years. The world may see more such freak storms due to rising temperatures; reducing pollution and protecting forests are perfect preventive measures.

How Wal-Mart shapes the world: A warning for India

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.

Caged in concrete: an Adivasi urban nightmare in Mumbai’s Aarey Colony

From PARI: The people of Aarey find their eviction and ‘rehabilitation’ absurd. Prakash Bhoir, 46, who lives in Keltipada, says, “We are Adivasis [he is a Malhar Koli]. This land is a source of income and survival for us. Can we do cultivation in those high-rise buildings? We just cannot live without soil and trees.”

The Char Dham road project: Narendra Modi’s Himalayan blunder

The 900km, all-weather road enhancing connectivity between four major Hindu pilgrimage sites is PM Modi’s pet project. It will not only displace hundreds of people, but create a massive rush of pilgrims, putting untold pressure on the delicate Himalayan ecology. Experts say it’s also ill-conceived, given its location on the ‘floodway’ of the Ganga basin.

Missing the forest for the trees? A perspective on the draft forest policy

Ramesh Venkataraman writes: A common theme running through the policy document is increasing tree and canopy cover in all areas with low tree cover at present. While prima facie this seems to be a laudable objective that is aligned with climate change mitigation goals, this raises a number of questions from ecological and sustainability perspectives.

Farmers’ protests reveal growing anger against India’s development model

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.

Bookshelf: River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future

The Ganges and its tributaries are now subject to sewage pollution ‘half-a-million times over the recommended limit for bathing’ in places, not to mention unchecked runoff from heavy metals, fertilisers, carcinogens and the occasional corpse. ‘Where is this going?’ That’s the question at the heart of Victor Mallet’s book on the river, writes Laura Cole.

A blow from an axe: Ramachandra Guha on India’s new forest policy

Both social equity and environmental sustainability are critical to our republic’s future. The present government seems bent on reversing the modest gains of the past three decades by making the corporate sector, once more, the key beneficiary of State forest policies. This is the inescapable conclusion one reaches after reading the ‘Draft Forest Policy, 2018’.

[email protected]: Revisiting India’s legendary ecological movement

Forty five years ago, villagers in the Alakananda valley stopped a group of loggers from felling a patch of ash trees. Thus was born the Chipko Andolan, the peasant movement that focused popular attention on the depredations of commercial forestry in India. A tribute to India’s original ecological movement, which inspired many more to come.

India could see 200-fold increase in heat wave exposure by 2100: study

From Down to Earth: According to an IIT Gandhinagar study, population exposure to heat waves is expected to increase by a massive 200-fold increase if carbon emissions continue under a business-as-usual scenario. Heat wave is already the third biggest natural killer in the country, but is not recognised as a natural calamity by the government.

Inside Antarctica: the continent whose fate will affect millions

From Financial Times: Antarctica is changing fast, including sections of the massive ice sheet that covers it. This holds so much water that if it ever melted completely, global sea levels would rise by nearly 60m. The race to understand Antarctica has become more urgent. Also watch, the documentary ‘The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning.’

Manshi Asher: Will the ‘educated’ save the environment?

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.

Growth and garbage: A tour of India’s waste mountain

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.

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