Projects with scant regard for environment

Friday, March 31, 2017
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A drain emptying raw sewage. Source: Daniel Bachhuber/Flickr

The recent audit report on environmental clearance and post-clearance monitoring lists many such instances of violations from development projects across India. Inadequate environmental impact assessments, irregularities in public hearings, not meeting promises and unregulated use of natural resources are just a few of the points raised by the audit team. Companies also routinely went back on their promises made during public hearings whether...

What CAG said about Army food supply

Saturday, January 14, 2017
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Indian soldiers breaking bread with PM Modi at Siachen. Every day a helicopter drops canned food here. Source: PIB

The army jawans continue to consume ration even after the expiry of original shelf life putting their health at risk. Modernisation of the food testing laboratories could not be done despite availability of funds. Army continues to procure most items of dry ration without following the recommended procurement process. Full requirement of ration was not met, which led to local purchase by the supply depots at higher rates. Recovery of this...

Demonetisation: Why it didn't work for India earlier

Thursday, November 10, 2016
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The withdrawal of relatively lower denomination notes in 2016 has widened the net, which was also essential considering the huge amount of black money circulating. Source: Pixabay

Cash notes worth over Rs 14 lakh crore have been junked by the government via its order on November 9 to curb black money. Pegged at over Rs 30 lakh crore, black money in India is estimated to be 20 per cent of the GDP. While most are optimistic about this move, many have also questioned if it will be worth the inconvenience people have been put to. Thankfully, we can always look back at history to know if we have done better than before....

How solid are the BRICS?

Tuesday, October 18, 2016
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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
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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
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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...

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

Thursday, June 16, 2016
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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...

Panama Papers is another pointer to inheritance crisis

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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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...

‘केवल भूमि सुधार गरीबी और भ्रष्टाचार को रोक सकता है’

Saturday, June 7, 2014
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पर्दर्शनकारी 2007 में दिल्ली की तरफ पद यात्रा करते हुए । सौजन्य: एकता परिषद्

भूमि सुधार कानून स्वतंत्रता के बाद बनी सरकार की मुख्य प्राथमिकता थी जिसके तहत जमीन को अमीरों से लेकर गरीबों में बांट कर परंपरावादी जमींदारी प्रथा को समाप्त करना था। लेकिन आज किसी भी पार्टी के घोषणा-पत्र में यह नजर नहीं आता।  वर्ष 2012 में एकता परिषद् ने भूमि सुधार की मांग को लेकर ग्वालियर से दिल्ली तक पद यात्रा की थी। एकता परिषद् के अध्यक्ष पीवी राजगोपाल बता रहें हैं कि क्यों यह भूमि सुधार के लिए कठिन समय है और कैसे इससे निपटने के लिए अपनी...

Indian Railways right on the track: In 11 charts

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
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Only 24% of railway track is electrified. Source: Vinoth Thambldural

From1850s when the first train ran in India and royal families sponsored its expansion to the present-day envious network and 12,000 trains running daily, railways has connected India like nothing else. Here we look at how things have changed with Indian Railways whether it's the expansion of tracks, jump in freight traffic or even casualties during operations. The total length of track used by Indian Railways is about 90,000 km of which 24...

Women cops satisfied with work, not with set up

Sunday, August 9, 2015
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Two police women in Chennai. Source: John Hill/Wikipedia

There are only 499 women police stations in India, out of a total of 15,000 police stations. The Union Ministry of Home Affairs is also proposing to appoint women in six lakh villages across the country as Special Police Officers (SPOs) on a voluntary basis. SPOs are ordinary citizens appointed by the state police to help them in community policing mostly given non combative assignments. While there is consistent emphasis to bring more women...

India's largest employer has less than 7% women in its workforce

Wednesday, July 1, 2015
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Maximum women are employed in Group A and B and least with Group D.

Train tracks connect India like nothing else. Meandering through valleys, counting fields, jumping over rivers and bringing to halt road traffic, Indian Railways carried over more than 23 million passengers a day in 2014-15 on its 65,436 km network. For many, train turns into a home for few days. However, it’s not easy for women to commute on this convenient and many a times the only mode of transport. In 2013, 693 cases of crime against...

When States get rich and powerful

Monday, May 4, 2015
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States are better capable of administering their finances. Source: Aart van Bezooyen/Flickr

The Union budget saw increase in share of states in the gross tax receipts. While in actuals this might translate to an increase of a nominal 4 per cent in terms of tax revenue shared from Rs 7.62 lakh crore in 2014-2015 to Rs 7.93 lakh crore in 2015-2016, it is the nature of these resources that add value to fiscal devolution. Studies have indicated that states are better capable of administering their finances, while at the same time...

'Policing requires wide and numerous reforms'

Sunday, May 3, 2015
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Amidst Chaos. Source: Harni Calamur/Flickr

In India, police are trained well, paid minimally, put to odd times and jobs. Yet they remain in a position of power over the rest of the citizens, which is then used to extract money, and other favours. Political control further aggravates the situation. This is why the need for reform of the police force was felt but the reforms were not really acted upon, and if done, it was merely a lip service. Devika Prasad, who works with police...

Movement in the woods

Wednesday, March 11, 2015
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FRA gives powers back to the people not only for using the resources but also for conservation and protection.

Forest Rights Act proposes to do away with historical injustices done to those living in and around forests. It might be a tribal sourcing out forest foods and cultivating the land or a non-tribal using the wood for building own house, the Act gives powers back to the people not only for using the resources but also for conservation and protection. But there's still a lot of ground to be covered and we should not miss trees for the wood. Here...

Land for all but Adivasis

Sunday, March 8, 2015
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Nahar Singh with his fellow farmers.

Bhils of Dungarpur bought land from their erstwhile king without knowing that it had already been acquired by the government. While the royal family and the government fight over compensation, farmers continue to live under fear of eviction. All this, despite paying the king as well as the new administration for over 50 years now. The government goes on to build anganwadis, primary health centres, schools and even granted mining leases on the...

Think people, not vehicles

Thursday, March 5, 2015
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The vehicle population in India increased from 5 million in 1980 to 145 million in 2011. Source: Tamal Mitra

In India, only 4 per cent of transportation is by private cars; but these contribute 20 per cent of passenger transport emission. The policy of encouraging private cars and neglecting public transportation makes transportation of both the car owners and others miserable. Width of the roads becomes inadequate and cannot be increased due to crowding of buildings on both sides. Our policy makers offer flyovers and metro rails in big cities as...

More power to the States

Sunday, November 2, 2014
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Source: Bin im Garten/Wikimedia Commons

The Centre-State relations have always been under strain especially when opposite political parties are heading the two governments. Most of the bickering is either due to fund allocation or matters of jurisdiction. It’s the subjects under the Concurrent List which provide much fodder for conflict as they invite overlapping of powers. These items require an overhauling policy framework defining service delivery, availability of adequate funds...

Doordarshan's disruptive signals

Sunday, September 28, 2014
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Programme mismatch has been the bane of Doordarshan

A major change has taken over the Indian skies. Gone are the days of aluminium rod antennas decked with torn kites. The small direct to home (DTH) dish antennas of today signify the shift from terrestrial (over the air) transmission to satellite telecast. In India, this also implies easing out of the national public broadcaster Doordarshan (DD). While most would like to believe stiff competition from private channels and lack of autonomy are...

A bridge on the river Kosi

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
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A boy stands outside his home on a spur

It is difficult to make small talk with a woman who has lost her all. Khair-un-Nissa had generously invited me to her home for a meal, a curry made of the famously succulent Black Haringhata hen, no less. The curry was special but it was her house that impressed me most. The bamboo and straw structure boasted a fresh coat of clay. The area was so scrupulously tidy that I felt refreshed the minute I entered the courtyard. Normally, I would be...

Money savers of rural India

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
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Around 3 crore women are members of various SHGs. Source: MoRD

In a country where savings of poor families are meagre and banks not ready to risk giving loans, how do you fund local business plans? You let the poor be the bankers themselves. That’s what 2.5 million aptly named self-help groups (SHGs) do across India. The core belief behind SHGs is that poor can help each other by pooling in their savings and lending the money to the members in need. Linkage with banks also gets them easy credit for group...

‘Only land reforms can tackle poverty, corruption’

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
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Women protesters walking in Delhi under the banner of Ekta Parishad in 2007. Source: Ekta Parishad/Wikicommons

Land reforms were meant to right the wrongs of traditional zamindari system through redistribution of land from rich to the poor. On top priority of the government at the time of independence, land reforms don’t feature in any party manifesto now. In 2012, Ekta Parishad took out a foot march from Gwalior to Delhi demanding the same.The government agreed to the demands and drafted a homestead law which never got tabled in the Parliament. Ekta...

Rural job scheme: Can we get it right?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
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Around 47 per cent of the total person-days generated have been by women. Image: Steve McCurry

The rural job scheme, officially known as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), has received more brickbats than bouquets in its six year run. With Rs 1,66,000 crore spent between 2006 and 2012, many call it a government dole rife with corruption and lack of long term vision. Lately, claims about its negative impact on agriculture have also been made. 

The joke is on us

Tuesday, February 18, 2014
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Handover holds a mirror to our conditioned learnings.

What’s the cost of a child’s life in India? Should poor people be allowed to sell their children?  The answer has always been a resounding no. The law does not permit this. Religion and social norms also go against such a practice as this puts a child’s life in jeopardy making him a slave of trafficking industry.  But there are always two sides of the coin and we should not favour one for another. In 2012, 42 out of every 1,000 infants died...

A city wasted and redeemed

Saturday, February 15, 2014
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Members of SWaCH collecting waste during a festival. Source: SWaCH

Surekha Gaikwad is a high school graduate. She started picking waste along with her mother-in-law after getting married. Till five years back, she would not even bother to dress up as the day would be spent at a hot and filthy garbage bin. “Even if I had a bath in the morning, by midday I was stinking. So I never bothered to stay clean,” she says. But now Surekha wears a nice fresh sari to work, with a rose in her hair. She leads a team of...

'We need to declassify all records about Netaji'

Thursday, December 13, 2012
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The latest book on Bose mystery by Anuj Dhar

Disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose has been the biggest mystery of modern India running for almost seven decades and involving multiple international link ups, national political interests and mysticism. GOI Monitor talks to journalist-turned researcher Anuj Dhar who recently came up with his second book on Bose which tries to clear several doubts

'Slums are a solution not a problem'

Saturday, May 12, 2012
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Two boys on a concrete wall, overlooking rubbish in Dharavi, Asia's largest slum and home to hundreds of businesses defying the myths about poverty. By- NGO MEDAPT

Q It is estimated that by 2050, 54 per cent of Indians will live in cities. But with such a high premium being placed on urban land, how are the cities going to host migrants, especially the poor?

Firstly, that estimate is probably incorrect. Already, as indicated by the 2011 Census, urban growth is slowing down - from 54 per cent in the 1970s to 32  per cent currently even though the Census has

Differently-abled greater security threat: RTI reply

Monday, March 12, 2012
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As frequency of instances of passengers with disabilities being discriminated by airlines continue to increase alarmingly, the Disabled Rights Group (DRG), India’s first cross-disability alliance, has unearthed a shockingly discriminatory policy in the name of ‘security’. Through a reply to an RTI application

Happy In Dependence?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011
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India is a polarised country today. Divided on political lines with little room for tolerance to opposite view point. The sanctity of an elected post is often ignored and seen an extension of political affiliation. Political parties thrive and grow at the cost of Indian democracy and help in promotion of an organised lobby of selfish people. The spirit of the Constitution demands that good people contest elections on their own, reach the...

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