Number crunching helps farmers manage water

Monday, June 3, 2019
The weather station at Randullabad that helps farmers plan their crops. (Photo by Manu Moudgil)

It is easier to estimate surface water by looking at ponds and tanks and plan accordingly. On the other hand, groundwater is hidden in complex layers of soil, rocks, sand and gravel. Farmers possess traditional knowledge about groundwater, but that is not always enough to make informed decisions especially when means of extraction, like borewell technology, have changed drastically. This is...

A roadmap for next government on farm crisis

Thursday, May 9, 2019
Can direct income support help farmers?

BJP-led goverment came up with PM-Kisan scheme to provide Rs 6,000 annual income support to small farmers while Congress party is promising Rs 72,000 for poor families through NYAY scheme. How will these help deal with consistent farm crisis and where will the money come from? How the new government can deal with indebtedness of farmers, loan waivers. Is there a way to implement market reforms that will ensure that farmers get the minimum...

Muslims, OBCs feel police bias more than others

Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Amidst Chaos. Source: Harni Calamur/Flickr

Over a half of 15,000 respondents from across 22 states of India said that police discriminate on the basis of class, followed by caste, gender and religion. What makes the bias more worrisome is the lack of diversity in police. While SCs, STs and women have reservations in the police, the targets remain unmet. Muslims were most likely among all religious groups to feel the bias of police....

Politics of electoral bonds

Monday, April 15, 2019
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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...