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New study: Extreme heat will hit India’s most vulnerable the hardest

From Climate Central: If greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory, parts of eastern India and Bangladesh will exceed the 95°F threshold by century’s end, a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has found. The findings raise the issue of environmental justice, as these populations have done the least to cause global warming.

Limits to growth: policies to steer the economy away from disaster

From The Conversation: If the global economy grows by 3% till 2100, it will be 60 times larger than now.  The existing economy is already environmentally unsustainable, so we simply cannot“decouple” growth from environmental impact. This paper looks at policies that could facilitate a planned transition beyond growth–while considering the huge obstacles along the way.

Indian Independence: Made in U.S.A.?

Colin Todhunter writes: At a time when India commemorates the end of British rule, it finds itself under siege from international capital. Its not only on course to become an even weaker and more hobbled state permanently beholden to US state-corporate interests, but it is heading towards environmental catastrophe much faster than many may think.

Can you feel capitalism dying?

Joe Brewer writes: There is a reason only 5 men have the same aggregate wealth as half the human population. And that the Earth’s climate is ramping up for a phase transition that threatens our entire civilization. It’s because the 500 year old Global Architecture of Wealth Extraction is designed to produce exactly these outcomes.

The domestication of humankind

From Pragati: Why did humans abandon hunting and gathering for sedentary communities dependent on livestock and cereal grains, governed by precursors of today’s states? Anirudh Kanisetti reviews James Scott’s lucid Against The Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States, which provides surprising new evidence that refutes mainstream narratives of how civilization came into being.

New report ranks India near the bottom of the global heap on inequality

Huffington Post reports: India ranks 132nd out of 152 countries on a new index that measures the commitment by a country towards reducing inequality. The index is composed of 21 data points with varying weights; including health and education, share of tax revenue in the GDP, share of tax exemptions, minimum wage and maternity benefits.

What tames inequality? Violence and mayhem, says new book

From Chronicle.com: In his new book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Stanford University professor Walter Scheidel puts forth the following thesis: that historically, it took four kinds of violent ruptures  –mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state failure, and lethal pandemics– to reduce widespread inequality.

Now five men own almost as much wealth as half the world’s population

From AlterNet: Last year it was eight men, then down to six, and now almost five. The world’s richest five men now own over $400 billion in wealth. On average, each man owns nearly as much as 750 million people. The super-rich are absconding with our wealth, and the plague of inequality continues to grow.

Harsh Singh Lohit: Why do farmers protest?

Why, please ask yourself, does the city get 24 hour electricity, schools, colleges, dispensaries, hospitals, roads, public transport, even cooking gas and the village either not at all or services that are a pale shadow of their urban selves? Why this inequality in allocation of resources, even though 68.84% of Indians live in rural areas?

Are we about to witness the most unequal societies in history?

Best-selling author and historian Yuval Noah Harari writes: As we enter the post-industrial world, the masses are becoming redundant.  Biotechnology and the rise of Artificial Intelligence may split humankind into a small class of ‘superhumans’ and a huge underclass of ‘useless’ people. Once the masses lose their economic and political power, inequality could spiral alarmingly.

Luddites have been getting a bad rap for 200 years. Turns out, they were right

From Quartz.com: The Luddites were the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton mills, which they believed was threatening their jobs. As machine learning and robotics consume manufacturing and white-collar jobs alike, New York Times journalist Clive Thompson revisits the Luddite’s history to see what the 200-year-old workers’ rebellion can teach us.

How come Bangalore doesn’t give an inkling of the severe drought in its backyard?

Devinder Sharma writes: The development process is so designed that cities have been made drought proof over the years… Life in the mega city does not even provide an inkling of a severe drought prevailing everywhere in the state, where as many as 139 of the 176 taluks have been declared drought hit this year.

The devastating reality of Somalia on the brink of famine

Vice News reports: Drought has devastated vegetation and water supplies, and hunger is soaring. More than half the country — 6.2 million people — are in need of emergency aid to avoid starvation. And around 1.4 million children will risk acute malnutrition in 2017, according to UNICEF — 50 percent more than what the charity

Heat waves are getting worse, but these simple measures can save many lives

Gulrez Shah Azhar writes: This summer’s shaping up to be especially bad in India. Satellite images show large areas dried up from lack of water. Without access to water, heat waves become particularly deadly. But heat deaths are preventable and simple measures could save lives. Here are three actions that would make an enormous difference.

Early heat wave baking India is a sign of worse to come

Climate Central reports: The early heat this year is due to a shift in wind patterns that has seen air flowing in from the south and west, across dry areas that quickly cause that air to warm. That heat-waves will become more common and intense is one of the clearest outcomes of human-driven global warming.

‘India has world’s best anti-slavery laws’ (and largest number of slaves)

IndiaSpend reports: Nearly 46 million people live under conditions of slavery across the world, with 18 million (39%) of those in India, home to the world’s largest number of slaves, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index. They have lost their freedom by way of bonded and domestic labour and sexual slavery, among other means.

Devinder Sharma: Does the banking system really want to help farmers?

The total outstanding loans of public sector banks stands at Rs 6.8 lakh crores. Of this, 70%  belongs to the corporate sector, whereas only 1% of the defaulters are farmers. Why’s the banking system designed to favour the rich who already have many perks, while the poor pay a higher price to sustain their livelihoods?

Pumped dry: India’s accelerating and invisible groundwater crisis

From Policy Forum: India is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than anything previous generations ever faced. All water bodies near population centres are now grossly polluted. Interstate disputes over river water allocations are becoming increasingly intense. Surface water conditions in the country are bad. However, the groundwater situation is even worse.

Can India Inc. face the truth about the Manesar violence?

Yesterday, a local court convicted 31, and acquitted 117 of the 148 workers charged with the murder of an HR manager at Maruti-Suzuki’s Manesar plant five years ago. The verdict once again puts the spotlight on the extreme exploitation and structural violence that characterise Indian industry, described by G. Sampath in this unforgettable 2012 article.

This gated community in Bangalore epitomises urban India’s class divide

Rahul Chandran writes: A resident, who did not wish to be identified, talks about certain benches where the maids and drivers were not allowed to sit. “We had one more rule earlier— now its scrapped— the maids are not supposed to travel in the passenger lift, they were supposed to travel in the service lift.”

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