How solid are the BRICS?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
The heads of BRICS nations at Goa Summit. Source: PIB, India

The member countries have little in common as far as economic and foreign policy interests are concerned. They generate growth in different and often competing ways. While Brazil and Russia are major energy producers that benefit from high energy prices, India, as a major energy consumer, suffers from them. Except in highly unusual circumstances, like in last decade, they are unlikely to grow in unison. Except China, they have limited trade...

How Niyamgiri sees development

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
A Dongria Kondh girl collecting forest food in Niyamgiri Hills. Source: Rita Wilaert/Flickr

The movement against global mining behemoth Vedanta Corporation led by a small adivasi community of around 8,000 people was likened to many grassroots-level organic and contemporary struggles. However, the popular perception remained that this indigenous community does not want development. That they may yearn for the benefits of modern age was lost in the din of voices as varied as seeking their mainstreaming to leaving them on their own. A...

Where does your car end up?

Monday, September 12, 2016
Around 2.2 crore vehicles are estimated to reach their end of life by year 2025. Source: Sreeram/BHP Team

In India, the automobile industry is only 25 years old. But post the entry of foreign direct investment and liberalisation in 1991, the market for vehicles of all types has seen a colossal growth. Around 2.2 crore vehicles are estimated to reach their end of life by the year 2025. Around 80 percent of those vehicles are expected to be two wheelers. In India, ELVs are almost entirely processed in the informal sector with little to no inputs...

Chennai gets another chance at waste management

Monday, July 11, 2016
A scene outside the ever-crowded Kottur Market in Chennai. Source: India Water Portal

The Chennai floods of December 2015 had little to do with nature’s fury and more about city’s flawed urban planning and decades of improper garbage management. Chennai generates between 4,500- 4,800 tonnes of waste every day, and about 1.8 million tonnes a year. However, the city seems to be learning its lessons pretty quickly, and the effort of some responsible citizens has culminated into the Plastic Waste Rules 2016, and the Solid Waste...

Iraivi: Feminism for all 

Saturday, June 18, 2016
Iraivi tells us that empowerment is not an exchange between the genders, but something that must come from within each woman.

Apart from brilliance in all the technical departments, Iraivi’s strength lies in the strong characterisation, and situations you can relate to. Except for a couple of songs that seem unnecessary, Iraivi succeeds in telling the stories. Karthik Subbaraj doesn’t resort to any major physical or mental transformation to show the grit of his leading ladies. Instead, their supremacy lies in their ability to “handle” situations they are thrown into...

Case of Commons: What has the SC judgement achieved so far

Thursday, June 16, 2016
A herder taking his cows away from the enclosed pasture area in Rajasthan.

Across the world, rapid development restricted to few growth centres has induced a major change in land use. Forests and traditional set up have given way to farm houses, orchards, plantations, industries and residential societies. On January 28, 2011, the Supreme Court gave much needed judicial recognition to the importance of ‘Commons’. Commons can be understood as a community’s natural resources such as forests, wastelands, and water...

'Chennai is not water-starved any more'

Friday, June 10, 2016
Dr Raghavan at the Rain Centre.

It's not without reason that the Third World War is predicted to be triggered by water scarcity. The numbers themselves give us enough reason to be worried- by 2025, 60 per cent of India is expected to be living in towns and cities. Bore wells are getting deeper, urban areas brimming with population, and some already suffer from water shortage. However, success stories of humble organisations like the Rain Centre in Chennai let the results...

Panama Papers is another pointer to inheritance crisis

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Panama Papers leak offer India an opportunity to rationalise inheritance

Panama Papers have demonstrated how unfettered inheritance turns leaders and celebrities into petty thieves and knaving dynastic slaves. In 2004, I read in the Utne Reader that the founding fathers of free market economy had very strict views on inheritance, and that they strongly disapproved the policy of unfettered inheritance. I realised the simple equation that "Capitalism without the compounding effects of inheritance was actually some...

Is Aadhaar mandatory now?

Saturday, April 9, 2016
Aadhaar on a firmer foundation?

The premise of Aadhaar is that it’s put to use as a universal proof of identity by public and private entities. So, even when you have surrendered that LPG subsidy and don’t take any benefit from the welfare schemes, you may still be required to get the unique ID. Banks continue to ask for linking the account with Aadhaar numbers, private schools want parents to furnish the UID numbers of their children even though there’s no subsidy to be...

‘When we have money they call us by our names, not our disabilities’

Sunday, January 31, 2016
People with disability and their families are at core of this microfinance initiative

What can microfinancing scale up to is evident from a cooperative bank being run in Madhya Pradesh which caters to those with disabilities and their families. From modest people who saved Rs 20 every month, the members are now the stakeholders in a ooperative bank. Persons with a disability are the entry point to gain access to unprivileged neighbourhoods because they tend to be poorest of the poor. These families have the greatest need for...