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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.

How caste shapes water conflicts in drought-ridden Maharashtra

Anuj Ghanekar writes: Drought affects everyone, but the Dalits are the worst affected. They often become targets of threats and violence in different ways if they try to access water or demand rights for water, with several atrocities on record. One study noted several instances where water sources used by Dalits were deliberately contaminated with human excreta.

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.

Why technological solutions cannot combat ecological challenges

From The Hindu: More fuel-efficient cars usually mean that car owners take many more trips, in effect nullifying the saving of fuel from the technical innovation. This simple example shows why any advocacy of a lasting technological solution to ecological challenges is only destined to set the stage for the next generation of ecological problems.

The invisible victims of an unfinished city

From Mongabay India: First envisaged in the early 2000s, Lavasa was touted as independent India’s first privately owned hill city. But over the years, the project faced numerous legal cases of usurping the land of villagers and violating environmental conditions. It’s now a ghost town with empty, unfinished construction or buildings vacated by their occupants.

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.

SAPACC: A big step forward for South Asia’s climate justice movement

From The Wire: The SAPACC campaign rests on two pillars: climate science and mass mobilisation. Large organisations coming together on an issue considered too abstract for a movement only a few years ago is a significant shift. It reflects the climate’s intensifying impact in South-Asia and how the issue has exploded in the public consciousness.

Mahul, Mumbai: Unfit for human habitation

From Vice.com: “When we go to private hospitals outside, they immediately tell us that the only way to survive is to leave the area. But the doctors here tell us there’s nothing wrong. Are they saying doctors outside this area are all mad? Are the researchers who’ve declared this place unfit mad?” asks Farah Sheikh.

Jaunti Live: The first Green Revolution village now has a farm crisis

From Down to Earth: India is going through one of the worst farm crisis in its history. To understand about this crisis we have to investigate the roots of the celebrated Green Revolution and what happened after that. This is the story of Jaunty, the village which was once the flagbearer of the Green Revolution.

Budget & Zero Budget Farming: A response to Subhash Palekar

Influential natural farming advocate Subhash Palekar recently approved the use of Genetically Modified crops in his well-known “Zero Budget Natural Farming-ZBNF” method. In an equally startling interview, he described organic farming as “worse than the atom bomb.” Here, two veteran practitioners respond to Palekar, while reviewing the history of the Organic/Natural Farming movement in India.

Shashi Shekhar: “We are not allowing sub-soil water to recharge”

The irony couldn’t be crueler. Even as large parts of India battle floods, a new report has ranked the country 13th among “extremely highly water-stressed” nations. Alarming news, since India has “three times the population of the other 17 combined”. Former Water Resources chief Shashi Shekhar casts a knowing eye on India’s ballooning water crisis.

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.

P. Sainath: How a patch of Anantapur came to be a desert

From The Wire: This specific patch of some 1,000 acres near Dargah Honnur village in Anantapur district –once covered by millet cultivation– has over many decades become more and more a desert. That has been driven by often paradoxical factors –and created the kind of space that filmmakers send out location scouts to look for.

Poisoned earth, poisoned people: The unravelling of Punjab

From The Guardian: Cancer rates are the highest in the country, drug addiction is rife, and 900 farmers have killed themselves in two years. How did Punjab turn toxic? A new film explores the roots of its problems; ‘Toxification’ tells the moving stories of farmers at the sharp end of the chemical epidemic engulfing Punjab.

We have drought-proofed our cities, and left farms and farmers to die

Devinder Sharma writes: This year, nearly 82% of Karnataka is reeling under drought. But in Bangalore, you won’t get even a hint of the terrible human suffering that continues to be inflicted year after year. Karnataka has suffered drought for 12 out of the past 18 years. But life in Bangalore has never been affected.

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.

Pradip Krishen: In Delhi lies a forest uprooted

From The Wire: Is it too much to expect that a Forest Department respond appropriately to the character of a natural habitat in order to plant new species suitably? Why is it that some 170 years after we started training foresters, we still have a cadre that knows and cares so little about natural habitats?

Indian villages lie empty as drought forces thousands to flee

From The Guardian: With over 43% of India reeling under drought, hundreds of villages have been evacuated and homes abandoned after wells, handpumps ran dry in a 45C heatwave. Estimates suggest that in villages 250 miles from Mumbai, up to 90% of the population has fled, leaving the sick and elderly to fend for themselves.

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.

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