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Jean Dreze: Jholawala Economics for Everyone

‘Jholawala’ is a derogatory term that India’s urban elites use to dismiss the arguments of social activists without having to contend with them. Jean Drèze is a prime example of a jholawala who is also a first-rate economist whose arguments cannot be dismissed easily. A condensed version of the thought-provoking introduction to his new book.

Video: Farmers’ voices from around the country confirm a nationwide crisis

This series of videos feature farmers – many of them from remote villages – from Assam to Andhra Pradesh, expressing their views, concerns and apprehensions about the future. Produced by farmer support organisation I4Farmers, they confirm once again what we know well – the agrarian crisis that has gripped rural India is only getting worse

India’s political leadership failed the environment in 2017

From DNA: Under the leadership of PM Modi, governments pushed down the bar on environmental standards this year. At both Centre and state levels, there have been numerous reversals in environmental legislation. Today, there are 2357 applications with the Centre that were rejected approvals by state institutions or have nearly completed construction with no approvals.

The price of development: Gujarat’s dams are now drowning the state

Sneha Vakharia reports: Gujarat’s chronic floods, underreported and devastating, tell the story of Narendra Modi’s failure to deliver the state from water scarcity, and the onset of a new kind of problem, with crucial political implications. Since the state began its battle to control its water, increasingly and unforgivingly, the water has started fighting back.

In a Bengal school swallowed by the sea, a lesson for the world

When a group of us visited Boatkhali Kadambini Primary School four years ago, classes were on in full swing. This primary school is at one edge of Sagar island in the Sunderbans. That entire stretch, including the Boatkhali school, has now been swallowed up by the sea, including the house in which we had stayed.

This Indian student’s video on climate change won a global competition

From The Third Pole: In 2004, the world’s second largest mangrove forest, Pichavaram in Tamil Nadu, helped moderate the tsunami wave and protected 18 villages. ‘Let mangroves recover’, a film on Pichavaram by Adarsh Prathap, a 23-year-old from Kerala, has won one of two prizes in the 2017 global youth video competition on climate change.

Why the BJP lost rural Gujarat

From Rediff.com: In the recent elections, the Congress made stunning gains over rivals BJP in rural Gujarat, winning 62 of 109 seats. According to food policy analyst and activist Devinder Sharma, this is a direct result of Gujarat’s prolonged and acute agrarian crisis being ignored by the ruling party, the urban-centric media and pollsters alike.

The Indian Oil project that could turn a Kerala village into a deathtrap

From The Wire: An Indian Oil Terminal, which can store up to 15,400 metric tons of cooking gas, is scheduled to be built in Vypeen, Kochi, which is among the world’s most densely populated islands. Will Kerala’s Communist Patrty-led government allow this high risk project to come up, defying all common sense and public opinion?

The lady who saved the falcon

From Live Mint: In October 2012, Bano Haralu led a small group of conservationists to Nagaland’s Doyang reservoir to check on large-scale falcon hunting. What they witnessed that balmy October day shook them to the core. Nagaland was and still is infamous for hunting, but this was something even the conservationists had not bargained for.

Yogendra Yadav: The Indian farmer’s what-the-hell moment has truly arrived

From The Indian Express: Yogendra Yadav, who is part of a platform of over 180 farmers’ organisations that have come together to raise key demands, says: “(One of the things) I have seen, which cuts across all farmers, is anger against government. This all-round disenchantment is more so against the current government at the Centre.”

The Gujarat Model – An obituary and a warning

Whoever wins the Gujarat elections, its clear that as a political idea, the Gujarat development model is floundering, and may never be revived. It may have been a textbook case of what development should not be like, but given the powerful interests it serves, it’s still likely to haunt India’s policies for years to come.

Incredible India? GDP is growing, yet hunger getting worse

From Down to Earth: GDP does not reveal the ground truth about progress in development. The top 10% of Indians control the wealth basket while the common people—more than one billion—slide down along ‘Hunger Index’. While the government flaunts a surging economy, prevalence of hunger in India is at the “high end of serious category”.

River inter-linking: India’s $168 billion ‘development’ nightmare

Swati Bansal writes: The project envisages the building of many dams, canals and tunnels, which will lead to a huge social and environmental cost. The proposed Ken-Betwa link alone will destroy over 4,100 hectares of forests. If a single project of interlinking could accrue such an environmental cost, what will be the impact of 30?

‘Nature gives us hope’: A tribute to Latha Anantha, river guardian

Dr Latha Anantha, an expert on rivers and one of the first names to crop up in the struggle to protect them, is no more. The founder and moving spirit behind the River Research Centre, Kerala, she was best known for her efforts to save the Chalakudy river. She’d been diagnosed with cancer in 2014.

Illegal GMOs and the criminal plan to alter the genetic core of India’s food system

Colin Todhunter writes: Despite four high level government reports that have advised against adopting Genetically Modified crops in India, there are alarming reports of GM okra, soyabean & brinjal being cultivated illegally in thousands of acres. The industry’s strategy is to flood the country with illegal GMOs so that there’s nothing you can do about it.

Narsanna Koppula: The man behind the upcoming Permaculture Convergence

Narsanna Koppula, a pioneer of permaculture in India, founded Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, with an aim to provide alternate solutions to the present chemical agricultural practices. Later this month, Aranya, which has impacted thousands of farmers in Telangana and Andhra, is playing host to the International Permaculture Convergence, the biggest event on the permaculture calendar globally.

The grave environmental cost of ‘ease of doing business’

India has just climbed an unprecedented 30 spots on the World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business” ranking, which’s being celebrated as a historic moment by the mainstream media. This Down to Earth report shows how this ‘achievement’ has come at a possibly permanent damage to the environment, thanks to a steady dilution of regulatory norms.

How coal is choking Goa: An investigation by The Indian Express

Jindal, Adani, Vedanta are the Big Three who are transporting most of the millions of tonnes of coal unloaded at Goa’s Mormugao Port every year. In a painstaking investigation carried out over four months, Smitha Nair of The Indian Express tracked three key coal routes to find a trail of health hazards and environmental damage.

Kadwi Hawa: A harsh wind is blowing

Set in a village in Bundelkhand, which hasn’t seen rain in the last 15 years, the soon-to-be-released Hindi film Kadvi Hawa is a stark story about how climate change affects us all. Instead of capturing the socio-economic impact, director Nila Madhab Panda says, he is interested in looking at the emotional impact of climate change.

Paani Foundation is creating a new paradigm for fighting drought

Moin Qazi writes: The Indian film celebrity Aamir Khan is shepherding a very revolutionary campaign–making Maharashtra drought-free in five years. Khan’s Paani Foundation is galvanising the rural population to go back to fundamental lessons of water management taught by their ancestors. Many Maharashtra villages are seeing water in their parched lands after consecutive dry years.

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