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Test no evil: The truth behind India’s low coronavirus numbers

What explains India’s remarkably low numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases, which defies every global trend? The Union Health Ministry’s false claims and the ICMR’s ‘designed not to detect’ testing policy may have ensured that India has wasted precious time and suppressed the real picture of coronavirus’ spread in India – with disastrous consequences for all.

Big Farms make Big Flu: The deadly connection between industrial farming and pandemics

From Climate and Capitalism: Evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace explains the tight links between new viruses, the epidemiologically dangerous methods of industrial food production, and corporate profits. “To understand why viruses are becoming more dangerous, we must investigate industrial models of agriculture and livestock production. But, few governments, and few scientists, are prepared to do so.”

Just like the economy, India’s forests too are thriving only on paper

From Live Mint: Dodgy numbers, a ‘flexible’ approach to the facts and self-serving definitions beginning with how “forest cover” itself is actually defined. This is what accounts for the unanimous skepticism among ecologists and other experts of the “growth” in India’s forest cover, claimed by the recently released India State of the Forest Report 2019.

Combustible Australia, combustible world: Lessons for India

Aseem Shrivastava writes: There are several lessons for India in the Australian catastrophe. For starters, it must restrain its own fossil barons: both within our shores, and beyond. Adani’s mammoth Queensland coal venture, for example, will significantly boost carbon emissions (both within Australia and to countries like India to which the coal will be exported).

The terrifying science behind the accelerating locust plague

From Wired: It’s the worst locust outbreak to strike Africa in decades, and Pakistan and India’s border states too have been badly affected. And the problem is about to get a lot worse—the insect population could boom by a factor of 500 by June. Unlike other species, a rapidly-warming planet present an advantage to locusts.

Ahead of ‘Day Zero’, Delhi’s water crisis is about to turn into a water war

From ABC News: Delhi is one of 21 Indian cities that could run out of groundwater, according to a 2018 government thinktank report. Disputes over water often lead to violence, especially in the city’s unauthorised settlements. The state government and the local “water mafia” are drilling bores, further depleting groundwater and exacerbating the larger problem.

Priya Rajan: A window as wide as the world

I live in a concrete maze that boasts a few yards of curbed open space and calibrated greenery. High-rises clutter the view of sky; pigeons and mynahs rule the roofs. Urban wildlife often feels incongruous, surreal. A praying mantis sheltering from lashing rain makes the windowsill suddenly more meaningful, though that is not its purpose.

A $5 trillion economy for India: At what cost?

PM Narendra Modi wants India to be a “$5 trillion economy” by 2024. The consequences of such high GDP growth –even setting aside questions regarding its distribution or true worth– will result in depriving the dispossessed sections of society of access even to natural resources, while driving fragile ecologies to a point of no return.

Mihir Shah: India’s water crisis has a simple solution

“This plan has multiple win-wins: Improvement in soil and water quality, higher incomes for farmers, reduced malnutrition and obesity, and a simple solution to India’s water problem by drastically reducing use of water in agriculture.” Also watch: ‘Bringing the Science Back Into Water: A New Paradigm for 21st Century India,’ a talk by Mihir Shah.

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.

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