Politics of electoral bonds

Monday, April 15, 2019
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Political funding is still a grey area in India.

Electoral bond is an instrument to donate money to political parties  and can be purchased from State Bank of India and identities of donor and receiver are kept secret. NDA government claims that electoral bonds will weed out black money from political funding but opposition parties and Election Commission feel the bond scheme promotes anonymous funding and favours the BJP. The Supreme Court said that if identity of the buyers of electoral...

How Borewell Restoration Is Helping Farmers Repay Their Loans

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
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Irappa Saugli grows 80 types of crops on his organic farm thanks to recharged borewell.

In 2013, there were 2.6 million deep tubewells and/or borewells (deeper than 70 m) in India irrigating 12.68 million ha of land. However, around 12% of these borewells had either dried up or supplied less water than expected. Expenditure on borewells is one of the reasons for mounting farm debt. This is why artificial recharge of aquifers is essential. But exhaustive awareness campaigns...

In Bihar, shared solar pumps solve irrigation trouble

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
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Increase in farm area and replacement of diesel with sun are major benefits. Source: AKRS)

Agriculture in Bihar has languished primarily because of high input costs, especially that of energy due to inadequate grid electricity supply and a high price of diesel. Rural electrification through grid supply is not happening in Bihar due to lack of public investment. Also, the existing groundwater markets are neither increasing irrigation nor achieving equity. So, there is a need for an alternative. The Bihar government launched a scheme...

Why north east India is on boil over Citizenship Bill

Sunday, February 3, 2019
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Protests in Assam against Citizenship Bill. Source: Mohammad Belal Shaikh Hussain

Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on January 8 this year triggering widespread protests in north east India. The bill changes definition of illegal migrants by providing citizenship to non-Muslims coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. North east people fear influx of outsiders and loss of indigenousness with these new rules. Most partners of BJP in north...

History of reservation in India

Friday, January 11, 2019
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Protest by Maratha Kranti Morcha for reservation in 2016. Source: Midhanesh/Wikimedia Commons

Parliament recently passed the bill to allow 10 per cent reservation for poor in general category in education and jobs. Many hail the move as a corrective  measure even though a petition has already been filed in the Supreme Court challenging its legality citing that the court had earlier put a cap on reservation at 50 per cent. The history of reservation in India begins much before...

Hilsa fishers driven to the edge by overfishing

Tuesday, December 18, 2018
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Fishermen getting ready to fish hilsa. Source:  Dhruba Das Gupta)

The hilsa fishermen of Howrah district in West Bengal are struggling against declining catch, stiff competition from mechanised trawlers and non-traditional fishermen entering the lucrative occupation. ​The hilsa fishermen get about six months to fish hilsa, considered a delicacy in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Mid-July to mid-September is the season for larger hilsa that fetch high prices....

In Pics: From Tripura to Gulf via Chennai

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
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Tripura migrants in Chennai.

SLUMS OF Chennai are becoming the testing ground for young men from Tripura who want to go to Gulf countries in search of better, richer lives. Each one of these young men has a plan — they know what they will be doing in five,10, 20 years. Life is a game of hopscotch; the moves have been charted for them by those who have gone before. Tripura has the highest unemployment rate in India and...

Plunder of the Aravallis risks lives in north India

Thursday, November 22, 2018
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The lush Aravalli range of Rajasthan over a decade ago. Photo by Nataraja/Wikimedia Commons.

Fourteen years ago, in 2004, a Supreme Court order had banned mining in many parts of the hill ranges, but it was blatantly violated by illegal miners with the connivance of the government that turned a blind eye. The systematic plunder of the Aravallis continued despite numerous government reports documenting it. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report earlier this year had...

How Kerala floods can push for protection of Western Ghats

Friday, October 26, 2018
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Suggestions by Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel were ignored. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The entire Western Ghats was proposed as an ecologically sensitive area (ESA) with a graded or layered approach to conservation. These concerns were largely ignored by the governments of six states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, that come under Western Ghats. Several protests were held and private funders lobbied against the report. The Union...

India and Malaria: The constant wrangle

Friday, October 5, 2018
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Malaria, at one time a rural disease has diversified into various ecotypes. Source: Pixabay

While the number of cases has declined by 60 per cent over 2001, there are concerns that malaria is still being under reported. Other issues include the systemic resistance to drugs which were previously used to limit vector growth. Around 35 countries have been certified to be free of malaria and another 21 on their way to reach their target of zero transmission by the year 2020. In our...

Faith in the forest: How sacred groves function

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
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Such temples dedicated to local deities are spread all over pasture, forest lands of south Rajasthan.

With certain rules around extraction of resources, including ban on cutting of trees, these sacred groves contribute significantly to wildlife protection, soil conservation, groundwater recharge, and as a good source of herbs, fruits and other economic resources to local people. But practices around these spaces differ with location and may not always abide by the concept of unaltered,...

Swacch Bharat and its motivators

Saturday, July 28, 2018
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Prereks during a menstrual hygiene management session. (Pic courtesy: Divyanshu Seth)

The Preraks provide coordination, management and monitoring support to the district administration for effective implementation of SBM-G. They are involved in developing district-level swachhta action, finance, and sustainability plan for monitoring mechanisms and quality supervision protocols. They also ensure monitoring and implementation support for district-level...

These people-managed forests are setting new examples in conservation and economy

Sunday, June 10, 2018
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Villages in Gondia district of Maharashtra got community rights to sell Tendu leaves.

After 12 years of the implementation of the FRA, many of the forest-dependent communities are already deriving benefits in different pockets and several localised factors have in turn influenced the objectives of community forest resources. Gram sabhas have received more remunerative prices for custard apples, bamboo, siali leaves and tamarind compared to the pre-CFR scenario. Bamboo alone fetches the gram sabhas huge economic returns with...