Ghaziabad temple incident and our absurd definitions of sexual assault

Thursday, March 25, 2021

We still relate sexual assault to 'lust' rather than 'power' and view it as a form of desire, not abuse of power. Sexual assault / rape takes place in riots and wars because domination over the opponent’s private parts without their consent is the ultimate display of power. On the other hand, the rape law remains gender specific setting in stone the identities of victim and preperators. Section 377 also doesn't encompass all sexual offences

Scrappage policy: A step forward but a missed opportunity

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

While the new draft policy is a big positive, its focus on targeted fleet renewal for maximum emissions gains is still weak. The proposed policy puts the entire onus of incentivising fleet renewal on the state governments. They have been advised to waive off a big chunk of road tax and registration fees on replacement vehicles.  Given the fact these are important sources of state revenue, the reaction of the state governments is still not known

Will a smog tower help tackle air pollution in one of the world’s most polluted cities?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

In 2016, Patna was declared as the sixth most polluted city in the world according to a report by the WHO. Even as there is no robust data supporting the efficacy of smog towers, the Bihar government is considering introducing one in Patna to tackle air pollution. In 2019, several civil society organizations in collaboration with the Bihar government released a comprehensive “Clean Air Action Plan” for Patna. The idea of a smog tower was not even mentioned in the plan. In November 2019, the Union environment secretary itself raised doubts over the efficiency of smog towers

India's Biggest Spenders Cause 7 Times More Emissions Than The Poor

Monday, February 8, 2021

THE TOP 20% of high-expenditure households in India are responsible for seven times the emissions traceable to the poor who spend less than Rs 140 a day. The mean carbon footprint of every Indian was estimated at 0.56 tonne per year--0.19 tonne per capita among the poor and 1.32 tonne among the rich. Food and electricity are the two areas of spending that account for most emissions in India across socio-economic groups while western India emits the most carbon

A Generation in Peril. How Climate Crisis is Impacting Childhood

Monday, January 11, 2021

The impact of climate crisis on people across the world is highly disproportionate but no other group is as vulnerable as children in low income families of developing countries. Children are not emotionally and physically capable of understanding the dangers during extreme weather events and are dependent on adults for their survival. They are more susceptible to water and vector borne diseases, malnutrition and they are forced into labour due to economic challenges induced by climate crisis. 

Farm Laws 2020: Why farmers are protesting

Sunday, December 20, 2020
Farmers during protest prayer at Singhu border. Image: Randeep Maddoke

Government claims the new farm laws will open up the agriculture market and help farmers get better remunerations for their produce. The protesting farmers, on the other hand, point out that they won't be in a position to negotiate with private companies in absence of a regulatory mechanism and oversight of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC). The new laws allow traders to bypass government mandis but don't mention any regulatory mechanism or authority to monitor such transactions or agreements

How censoring of OTT platforms will hamper art

Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Streaming platforms have opened up new possibilities. Image: Andrés Rodríguez

The bloom of Over The Top (OTT) digital streaming platforms in India has offered a range of opportunities for independent artists. Writers also enjoy the liberty to produce any narrative unhindered by a regulation but that is set to change. The cabinet secretary issued a gazette notification to amend the rules putting digital streaming platforms under purview of the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry, causing many to fear undue censorship

In images: Farmers' Protest in Last Two Months

Saturday, December 5, 2020
Farmers' protest crossing the border into Haryana.

India woke up to the determination of Punjab's farmers on November 26 when national television started relaying images of the long march to Delhi border. But the movement had been gathering pace since September 25 when the 31 farmers' unions first came together to sit in protest on national highways, railway lines and major corporate outlets. From November 26 onwards, they took the protest to Delhi galvanising support from other states and sections of society

Harvest of Hope: Women reap rich dividends through group farming

Monday, November 23, 2020
Two women transplanting rice. Image: PX Fuel

The states of Kerala and Telangana have created cooperatives of women farmers which has not only reaped financial benefits but also ensured better social status for the members. The women got familiar with farm practices, government institutes and private agencies, market negotiations and fund management, all of which helped them overcome gender, caste and class barriers

NEP may make higher education inaccessible to many

Sunday, November 15, 2020
Govt Medical College, Haldwani. Image by Dr Deanndamon

Making higher education accessible to all has been a challenge for India due to high drop out rates at school level, lack of infrastructure and funds. The New Education Policy (NEP) proposes an overhaul of the higher education set up. It promises lot of radical changes but experts worry that this may lead to further rise in privatisation, loss of institutional autonomy and higher drop out rates at school level

Lockdown Woes: 91% workers didn't get ration, no wages for 84%

Tuesday, November 10, 2020
Stranded workers during lockdown. Image: Sumita Roy Dutta/Wikimedia Commons

While the lockdown did not contain the spread of the virus as expected, it did spawn a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. India’s lockdown has been cited as one of the most ‘stringent’ and ‘stingy’ lockdowns in the world shutting down the economy and movement with a meagre fiscal package for the vulnerable. In the first half of the lockdown, migrant workers were stranded with no food and money. In the second, their woes were compounded due to chaotic travel orders

Camel milk inspires hope for herders

Saturday, November 7, 2020
Fresh camel milk in Kutch region of Gujarat. Photo from Sahjeevan.

India’s camel population has declined by 37 percent over the last seven years because it’s no longer needed for transport or farming. Camel milk, found to be a healthier option for people with diabetes and those with food allergies, can be the source of sustenance for camel rearers. Several small dairies and Amul are selling camel milk and its products to city clientele, but low awareness, lack of bulk milk coolers and shrinking pastures for grazing are the limitations that need to be addressed for this dairy segment to flourish

Fund diversion and policy paradox mar climate finance

Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Climate finance need not be a green wash.

Climate crisis is real and a serious threat to India’s ambition to become a $5 trillion economy. India’s targets form the basis of the country’s action plan but contradictory decisions continue to derail it. Funds meant for climate have been diverted, access to land resources misused and renewable energy achievements are unreliable. There are many other policy responses that question the very commitment of the Indian government to climate concerns

12% of India prone to landslides, 264 killed in 2019

Sunday, October 18, 2020
Landslide during Uttarakhand disaster 2013. Diariocritico de Venezuela/Flickr

Besides heavy rainfall, human activities such as construction of roads, buildings and railways, mining and quarrying, and hydropower projects damage hilly slopes and impact natural drainage by removing soil and vegetation, loosening soil and gravel and making the hills more susceptible to landslides. In India, 420,000 sq km, or 12.6% of the total land, is landslide prone. Last year, 264 people died in landslides and over 65% of these fatalities happened in the Himalayas and the Western Ghats

Covid 19: Pastoralism under shadows of fear

Wednesday, September 23, 2020
Herders faced hardships during lockdown. Pic: Anu Verma and Biren Nayak

Nomadic herders, whose livelihood depends on livestock, travel in search of pasture land. There are communities whose journeys start every year and pass through traditional routes through different regions. They stop at fixed places where people accept them and allow their herds to camp on their farms in exchange of manure. The lockdown disturbed everything. They had to divert routes and spend more time and energy working out where they could move

In Pics: Suffering in the town powering India’s nuclear dreams

Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Haradhan Gope (20) helping his father in a paddy field, suffers from a facial deformity. Photo by Subhrajit Sen.

Uranium is a vital mineral for India’s ambitious nuclear power programme. Out of the seven states with uranium reserves, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh have currently operating mines. In Jharkhand’s Jaduguda region, which has India’s oldest uranium mines, local communities narrate stories of suffering due to degrading health and the environment. The government, however, denies any ill-impact of uranium mining on people. The Indian government is aiming to increase uranium exploration and mining. This photo essay features images of residents of villages around uranium mines

India should spare its forests for sustainable post-Covid recovery

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Forests offer far more benefits than a development project. Image: GoI Monitor

Indian forests offer model of equitable development in the post-Covid world by offering food and money to the most vulnerable. The government is, however, going the other way by auctioning coal blocks in rich forests and diluting environmental laws. ​Around 50 million families in India supplement their diet with food from forests and scrubland while Rs 20,000 crore worth of minor forest products are traded in the country. Loss of forest ecosystems will displace people and make them more dependent on government and market, both of which failed to live up to their promises during the lockdown

Covid-19: Sex workers battle stigma, hunger

Sunday, August 16, 2020
Kareena Kapoor played a sex worker in movie Chameli.

Sexual interactions run contrary to physical distancing norms required to avoid contracting coronavirus thus unconditionally stalling source of livelihood of sex workers. In India, sex work is criminalised and stigmatised putting these workers in the most vulnerable category, thus left behind in response to the pandemic by the government. They lack documents and bank accounts to avail of social welfare schemes and are also denied medical facilities

Agriculture in post-Covid economy has to be sustainable

Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Women are mostly invisible farmers.  Image: CCAFS/Flickr

As the world debates about the post-Covid economic model, farming is regaining its status as the most viable, decentralised livelihood generator. Right policies can ensure that it not only revives the economy but also acts as a carbon sink and neutralises pollution. As the biggest nature-based occupation that gives a bounty with little investment, agriculture also has the capacity to employ a large number of people. It can revive the village economy with greater possibility of equitable development

How Draft EIA 2020 will impact environment

Thursday, July 30, 2020
EIA regulates impact of development projects on surrounding ecosystem.

Environmental Impact Assessment sets in place a legal framework for regulating activities that impact the natural resources and people. Many environmental activists call the draft detrimental towards protecting the already deteriorating environment. The draft allows a freer reign to industrial projects while limiting public consent and interference. Some of the major changes include post facto clearance which means industries can start projects and get environmental clearances later, reduction in minimum notice period for public hearing and no scope for public complaint about violations