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Richard Mahapatra
Richard Mahapatra

Senior editor, Down To Earth. He has been associated with the fortnightly since 1997 and has written extensively on rural affairs and development matters.

Articles by the Author


Historically, a deficit monsoon in July invariably leads to drought


"Let's pray to God that the revised forecast doesn't come true," said Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, as the India Meteorological Department on June 2 further downgraded monsoon rain forecast in the wake of strengthening El Nio conditions over the Pacific Ocean. A failed monsoon this year could mean sixth consecutive crop failure in most parts of the country. Weak summer monsoons and untimely winter rains and hailstorms in the past three years have already pulled down the overall agricultural growth rate to near zero per cent. The pattern is uncomfortably similar to the most severe droughts in recent Indian history (see `Rude reminders'). Fears of foodgrain shortage and food price inflation loom over the country. But the worst affected will be the farmers. Decades of decline in agricultural productivity has left them cash-strapped, distressed and without resilience to cope with anymore adversities. The agricultural economy is primarily made of loans now. At this point, a collapse of the agricultural sector seems imminent. This will hit 60 per cent of the country's population that relies on farming and affect the national economy that's struggling to revive.

As the government goes into overdrive, drawing up contingency plans, it must remember the situation demands no short-term solutions. It must also remember that dry monsoons and unseasonal rains will only become more frequent with changing climate. But seasonal devastations should not cause long-term destitution. So, the government must analyse where it is going wrong in its strategies and immediately prepare a long-term plan to resolve the agrarian crisis. Farmers have endured policy myopia for long. An assessment by Richard Mahapatra with reportage by Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Jitendra and Jyotsna Singh from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra


Unplanned growth despite the region being quake-prone led to massive destruction


While the link between summer monsoon and agriculture has been thoroughly researched, there is absence of deliberation over the impact of rains in the winter


Fifteen years after it rose and went limp, the biotech sector, globally, as well as in India has seen a bull run of sorts. In January this year, some 10 healthcare companies went public on the NASDAQ. Meanwhile, India has become the world's 12th biggest biotechnology economy having the second highest number of USFDA-approved plants. But will this boom continue? Or will it prove to be just a bubble like it was in 2000, impacting drug manufacturing companies badly. Richard Mahapatra and Kundan Pandey take stock


Survey hints at what we can expect from Union Budget 2015-16


India is staring at a rural economic crisis. If the budget does not spend on rural India, the nation’s growth will be badly impacted


States, already flush with cash surplus of Rs 1.6 lakh crore, will get significantly raised share from the central taxes. Along with this financial devolution, the Central government is also going to devolve the responsibility of planning and implementation of centrally sponsored schemes to states in the coming budget. This makes state budgets the key instruments of gauging the social sector


The eminent journalist was closely linked to the evolution of environment and development journalism in India


Environment versus development: 2014 sets the stage for bitter polarisation


The post-MDGs target seems impossible as chronic poverty sets in. Now, more poor people are becoming chronically poor compared to earlier times. The subject needs a different debate and design


Countries are delving deeper into the ocean to explore its mineral wealth. The deposits on the ocean floor are enormous and the ecology of this largest habitat on earth, unexplored. The high seas are also global common property that demand an equitable distribution of their riches. How will deep sea mining impact the ecology and shape the mechanism to share common resources?

A report by Richard Mahapatra and Anupam Chakravartty


Indications are that the National Development Reforms Commission that will replace the Planning Commission will not have financial allocation powers


Narendra Modi's first budget may have many surprises contrary to popular expectations being raised in media. Don't ignore the deficit monsoon and imminent drought in election-bound states that contributed to his victory in recent parliamentary elections.


Around 7,500 of its defence installations across the world are vulnerable to impacts like sea level rise, storm and snow melting


Get the focus on environment and health, Mr Prime Minister


Northern Bangladesh successfully fights its age-old famine-like situation by creating a new cropping season and introducing lost indigenous rice varieties


The weather phenomenon will bring down production, increase food prices worldwide


Anil Chandra Mahanta, one of the first 20 farmers to cultivate genetically modified brinjal in South Asia, does not understand the new technology. He is curious about the fierce debate going on between the pro- and anti-GM lobbies in his country, Bangladesh. Down To Earth speaks to him and the other stakeholders to understand why the country allowed Bt brinjal that is banned in India and several other countries


Finance minister lists Forest Rights Act as one of its key achievements while MGNREGA doesn't find mention.


The country is waiting to see if Aam Aadmi Party can bring participatory government to the fore


Political parties are fine tuning their campaigns, policies to gain more votes of women, who are exercising their franchise in increasing numbers


Aam Aadmi Party’s metamorphosis from a civil movement into political party is not a lone instance; such experiments started in rural India


Governments in power in the four major states that went to polls were running similar schemes, but not all registered a win


A mysterious chronic kidney disease is afflicting a large number of people in India and Sri Lanka. Despite decades of studies, scientists are yet to pinpoint the cause of the disease. Vibha Varshney travels to Sri Lanka and analyses the state of research, while Richard Mahapatra and M Suchitra report from the hotspots of the disease in India


Half of India's population defecates in the open. In all probability, they will continue to do so for the next 10 years


Over 1.3 million tribals and forest dwellers have got rights over the land they had been using for years under the Forest Rights Act. This can, in some way, be called contemporary India’s largest land regime change—from the forest administration to the rightful owners of forestland. The Act promises another bounty—access to government schemes. But six years after the Act was enforced, lives of the forest dwellers have not changed much. Not one state has initiated concrete steps to officially register the title holders in the state land records. Without this they remain what they used to be—officially non-existent.

Ahead of the general elections in 2014, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Aparna Pallavi, M Suchitra and Richard Mahapatra travel to the forest districts of Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh to assess the impact of the landmark legislation


Cyclone Phailin has not taken many lives but has left behind a trail of destruction that severely cripples people’s livelihood. What did it take to save so many lives in the face of a potential killer? A Down To Earth analysis with a rider: should saving lives be the only mission of disaster preparedness?

Alok Gupta from Paradip and Ashis Senapati from Jagatsinghpur in Odisha; Raghuram Puvvada from Hyderabad, Jyotsna Singh and Richard Mahapatra from Delhi


It will continue ravage the coastal districts till early morning; scale of devastation will be known by late Sunday morning


A look at the business transacted and other highlights


Rural development ministry revives two-decade old plan to demarcate the country according to land use to avert conflicts


States get freedom to decide whether land under multi-crop is to be acquired


A look at how the key players involved in the tussle to control Niyamgiri hills will move forward


A Nepal school that imparts practical knowledge to farmers


Market for green bonds picks up; experts urge caution


A look at the progress of the Congress-led alliance's flagship programmes


Thousands of changra goats die of starvation as record snow buries pastures


The rising demand for vegetables has opened up a money-making opportunity for small farmers. Already reeling from recurring droughts and declining productivity of staple crops, they are enthusiastically turning to these short-duration crops. In a couple of years India has become the second largest producer of vegetables. This is a green revolution the government did not sponsor. But with vegetables driving the agriculture growth, the government cannot afford to ignore it anymore. Richard Mahapatra analyses the prospects and challenges, while Alok Gupta reporting from Jharkhand and Sayantan Bera from Sikkim chronicle the transition


Emboldened by SHG movement, reservation in panchayats, women emerge as key constituency


Proposes to redefine backward region


MGNREGA blamed for causing labour shortage; cut in budgetary support likely


In the face of a rising demand for fish and a stagnating aquaculture growth, government wakes up to the potential of small fishery


Any job creation policy will have to refocus on ecology that has been giving employment to a large section of the population


Backed by three decades of water conservation measures, semi-arid Saurashtra is driving Gujarat’s agricultural growth. Will it be able to sustain it?


World Bank's forestry projects have not helped reduce poverty, says its own evaluator


Budget to start process of reforming Central rural schemes, 45 years after first demand


A standard and simple exclusion method has been evolved to determine BPL families


Five years after it was implemented, the Forest Rights Act finally takes root. Communities across the country rush to claim rights over forests and their produce, particularly bamboo. But they face a double challenge: the forest bureaucracy refuses to help communities prepare forest management plans, and contractors manipulate the market for their benefit. Is this the new battle in implementation of the Act? Richard Mahapatra from Odisha and Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava from Maharashtra unfold the plot


Supreme Court commissioners report multi-crore scam involving private contractors and bureaucrats in food distribution under Integrated Child Development Scheme


Khap panchayats oppose marriage in same gotra to control landholdings


It was a vote for self-governance, not self-determination. No panchayat election in the country ever created as much hype as that of Jammu and Kashmir last year. Both voters and candidates defied militant threats to make the first state-wide panchayat polls in three decades successful. Yet about 900 panchayat leaders have resigned in the past seven months following threats from militants. Many of them face an even greater threat: the state government’s reluctance to devolve powers for self-governance. The state is yet to put the three-tier Panchayati Raj system in place more than a year after the village panchayat polls. Powerless, panchayat leaders increasingly face the anger of communities.

Caught between militants and restless voters, quitting seems to be the best way out for them. Richard Mahapatra reports from Srinagar and Baramulla


Economic growth didn't result in hunger reduction after 1996, says Global Hunger Index


Debates explode over more focus on species beneficial to humans


CoP-11 has an urgent agenda: to look for money to fund new targets


UN works on agenda to follow millennium goals; civil society says it has been given little role


In face of drought and rising food prices, attention shifts to local diet and food diversity


Met department delayed fresh monsoon forecast for a fortnight. El Nino is active


Around 83 million rural people still live on less than Rs 20 a day


Forestry rescues recession-ridden investors in Europe and North America


As corruption hijacks procurement centres in Bundelkhand, farmers prefer suicide to a debt trap. Richard Mahapatra reports from Uttar Pradesh with photographer Sayantoni Palchoudhuri


He is not allowed to cart away bamboo poles purchased from village conferred community rights under Forest Rights Act   


No place to store seven million tonnes of procured foodgrains


World is moving towards natural capital as a measure of economic growth


States that are currently facing severe drought are the ones who have spent the least on soil conservation and water conservation


Past two months saw B D Sharma negotiating release of high-profile hostages by the Maoists in Odisha and Chhattisgarh. TV viewers saw and heard Sharma, probably for the first time. Widely respected in the civil society, he has been championing the rights of tribals for four decades now. He served as collector in the undivided Bastar district of Chhattisgarh in the 1970s, after which he quit the Indian Administrative Service. Later he was appointed the commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Known as the mover behind the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act, Sharma says the tribals will not accept the current development model as an alternative. Excerpts from a conversation with Richard Mahapatra


States rush in with new policies and programmes to protect village land


Parliamentary panel recommends changing definition of “public purpose” clause in land acquisition Bill


Rising temperature and melting Arctic ice are changing global geopolitics. Oil, natural gas, minerals and fish—there is enough of these trapped under the melting sea ice to satiate the world’s growing hunger. Receding ice caps are opening up new sea lanes, making the exploitation easier. The eight nations surrounding the Arctic Ocean are in a frenzy not to let go of even an inch of their territory. The newfound resource is also attracting distant players like India and China.

But is the melting of the Arctic as promising as it seems? It has been under permafrost for ages. No one knows how human activity will affect its pristine ecology. Scientists warn that locked in its permafrost is twice as much carbon as in the atmosphere. Freeing up of this carbon and access to more hydrocarbons will accentuate global warming, causing a domino effect. Is the world being complacent about the warnings? Richard Mahapatra finds out


30 new types of work added to the rural job guarantee scheme list to restore demand for work under UPA's flagship welfare programme


District Rural Development Agency in conflict with Constitution; committee suggests its abolition


India struggles to clear its image of being the accident capital of the world


Rural affairs ministry rejects wage payment in kind under rural job scheme


Have an aggressive government and an overreaching judiciary curbed dissent?


Developing countries challenge US monopoly by putting up candidates for World Bank’s presidency


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh orders for new methodology


But will it reflect true level of poverty in the country?


The budget projects a pro-poor image, while covertly playing to the market


The Economic Survey 2011-12 showcases the dividends of economic liberalisation started by the ruling party. But admits: growth is not possible without agriculture


Congress likely to go all out to woo people in the new budget


Legislative scrutiny of budget in India compares with that of Afghanistan and Rwanda


Local procurement for anganwadis can revive rural economy in a big way


Odisha village gets pattas after nearly half a century. Land reform programmes get jumpstart


Rivers Krishna and Mahanadi are in crisis. In the race to industrialise, states have drawn plans to exploit their last drop. For four decades, three states have been squabbling to exact the maximum water from the Krishna, writes Bharat Lal Seth. Two tribunals have been of little help in resolving the dispute. Richard Mahapatra travels along the Mahanadi in Odisha and witnesses conflict between farmers and industry


Agriculture sector undergoes a historic change as livestock surpasses the economy of food grain


The ruling alliance’s flagship rural employment programme took unprecedented strides in creating water conservation structures across the country, but only to harvest disillusionment. What went wrong? Richard Mahapatra travels to Jharkhand, M Suchitra to Andhra Pradesh and Moyna to Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in search of answers


Arguably, this is the hottest political summer for Delhi. Reason: friction between anti-corruption activists and the Union government over the anti-graft Lokpal Bill. It has been more than three months, but there is no sign of ebb in the confrontation. Rather, it has metamorphosed into an all-out war between the government and non- government groups. The polarisation is getting sharper. Most political parties have joined hands with the ruling alliance to oppose the “legitimacy” of non- government groups in taking part in legislative affairs. The confrontation has left many questions in its trail.

Does this reset the relationship between government and non-government organisations? Is it a battle for space between government and non-government? Why is the government adopting such an aggressive approach towards the other side? Or, have the non-government organisations strayed into the political arena?

There are no yeses or noes. The crisis is an outcome of a post-liberalisation churning taking place. In the past 20 years, the state has undergone changes and comfortably settled its relationship with the market. Government is shrinking its role in development works leaving space for non-government players. The private, for-profit companies are entering the health and education sectors through private-public partnerships. Non-government not-for-profit organisations are also rediscovering their roles.

Subjects that NGOs dealt with as “social contractors” have now gone to the Panchayati raj institutions. That is why NGOs have started reinventing themselves into groups advocating for rights and empowering legislation. But elected representatives see this as a threat to their mandate.

Richard Mahapatra, Arnab Dutta and Ruhi Kandhari analyse this transformation as India marks 20 years of liberalisation


Iconic paan no more appeals to farmers, traders and common people. They say the contagious spread of chewing tobacco, especially gutkha, is fast taking over the paan market. Farmers have more reasons to shy away from the crop once referred to as green gold. Skyrocketing input costs, water scarcity and unpredictable weather mean betel gardens are no more lucrative.

Richard Mahapatra, Sayantan Bera and Moyna travelled to betel leaf gardens of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha and Delhi and visited paan markets to understand the fate of the cash crop considered ideal for small farmers


The Polavaram dam on the Godavari could displace 400,000 people and submerge nearly 4,000 hectares of forestland. Most of the people threatened to be displaced cannot be relocated until their rights over forestland are recognised under the Forest Rights Act. How did the Andhra Pradesh government meet this immense challenge? It quietly told the Union environment and forests ministry that all claims have been settled.

The ministry gave forest clearance to the project last year. Now over 50 villages have written to the ministry, saying their forest rights have not been settled. Richard Mahapatra visited the villages and found the state had indeed lied.

Following similar complaints, the ministry had scrapped Vedanta’s proposal to mine Niyamgiri hills and withheld forest clearance to the POSCO steel plant in Odisha. Will it apply the same yardstick to Polavaram?


Fifty-four suicides in Andhra Pradesh have blown the lid off the social posturing by microfinance companies. Before the news of the deaths sank in, the country feted Vikram Akula, head of SKS Micro-finance, as the new messiah of microcredit. A 273 per cent growth in loan disbursement and returns to investors made him a national hero. India’s micro-finance institutions claim they followed the fabled Grameen Bank model of Bangla­desh. In reality, they went against its principles. And the government did not do enough; regulations are fleeting and they don’t touch where it hurts most: the high interest rates.

Richard Mahapatra reports from Andhra Pradesh. Arnab Pratim Dutta charts the growth trajectory of India’s microfinance institutions


The government has a plan to reach welfare to the poor without wasting money. It wants to put hard cash in their hands instead of spending on welfare programmes. To begin with, it wants to end the public distribution system of food grain and give money directly to the people. Its logic: the new system of cash transfer will plug leakages and save an enormous amount of money.

But is it that simple? About 40 per cent of the poor are still not officially recognised. Richard Mahapatra finds out how cash transfer works and how ready is India for the shift in the delivery of welfare schemes


Does this official data betray a conspiracy? Only 1.6 per cent of the 2.9 million claims approved under the Forest Rights Act recognise community rights; the rest recognise individual rights over forest dwellings and farms in forestland. Now consider this: community rights under the Act include the right to collect minor forest produce, like bamboo and tendu leaves, which accounts for half the forest department revenue. Reason enough for states to scuttle community rights, which the Centre is trying desperately to enforce. The government of India views MFP rights as a means to curb Naxalism since the states most affected by Naxalism are also home to the maximum number of people dependent on forest produce. These states contribute more than 90 per cent of the MFP trade

Down To Earth correspondents travelled to six states to unravel the conspiracy to deprive forest people of their rights. Richard Mahapatra reports from Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava from Madhya Pradesh, Sumana Narayanan from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh and Aparna Pallavi from Maharashtra


In the undivided Koraput district of Orissa, there exist 190 villages that have slowly been pushed off the map of India. Hurled by fast-track development into what the state officially calls a "cut-off" region -- hills submerged by the stilled waters of huge reservoirs; a space created by administrative fiat; a gap in the collective memory of the nation; a gash in its growth -- 20,000 tribals today find themselves in an absurd situation: whereas they exist, they also don't.

Years ago, these people were among the first to come across the progress machine, only to be progressively crushed. They were among the first to have suffered the nation's birth pangs. As India celebrates the 56th year of her Independence, they seek freedom from forced remoteness


Tiny forgotten villages teach India a firsthand lesson in governance. Down To Earth reporters and photographers fan out to six states to discover how villages have kept their date with history. And it’s not August 15


The needs of many were once again compromised to accommodate the demands of a powerful few. Given the alarming tilt towards self-interest and unilateralism by the rich, will the concerns of poor countries ever be addressed in global negotiations?

Battle of the brackets
World's biggest trade fair
"Let's put our cards on the table"


Afghanistan, the badland of international politics, faces its toughest challenge: life and peace. Two decades of war, six months of non-stop bombing and incessant US efforts to establish a friendly government, make this a bitter dream. One-tenth of its population has already perished. One-third has been driven out of the country. As for the rest, their only source of livelihood - an ecology based on land and water - has been severely threatened. Afghanistan wants its life back. Its land, agriculture and water. The rest of the world, through operation Enduring Freedom, curtails that wish. The US-led coalition is pushing for a new government and a new constitution with the carrot: a global aid package of US $4.5 billion. The stick: imposition of a centralised governance system. But the concept of a centralised government is anathema for Afghans. An Afghan's loyalty always remains with the local community chiefs. Afghans have seen too many rulers and too little development. In a month from now, an assembly of tribal chiefs, called the Loya Jirga, will meet to decide the country's future. This is Afghanistan's moment of reckoning


Naxalism started as a movement against land alienation. Today it has become a popular movement against natural resource alienation, particularly forests. Large areas of densely forested regions in the country are controlled by Naxalites. In these forested areas, the state and forest administration dare not enter. Naxalites use the growing alienation of tribal people against forest laws to gain ground. They secure tribal rights over non- timber forest produce and dispense quick justice -- at gunpoint. Sadly, the victims of Naxal violence are invariably the custodians of our forests -- forest guards. What is even more unfortunate is that they lose their lives defending laws that are so anti-people. Down To Earth reporters travel to these densely forested areas to discover what the Naxal rule means for forest management


India and China, two emerging economic powers, may also be included under the aid effectiveness strategy now


It may not be possible to reject land title claims filed under Forest Rights Act in future


Move coincides with Rahul Gandhi's public relations campaign in poll-bound state


Legislation codifies rules for all government procurement and purchases


Century-old teak plantation business loses ground in India because of poor management and short-sighted policies


Centre delinks access to welfare schemes from poverty line


Work demand under the rural employment programme is decreasing in the state


As bank gears up for competition, it may further dilute environmental safeguard policies


Government to wait for results of socio-economic caste census to decide parameters on who should be covered under social welfare programmes


Share prices of metal and coal companies nosedive


When V Kishore Chandra Deo became the Union Minister for Panchayati Raj and Tribal Affairs three months ago, both the ministries were in inertia. Recently, the two have gained political profile, courtesy the prime minister’s mandate to revitalise the Forest Rights Act and ensure community governance under the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Deo speaks to Richard Mahapatra and Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava on the challenges ahead


Countries donate on condition that recipient nations buy goods from them, shows a report


Negates its earlier order that gave temporary permission to do so


This has been arrived at by applying the price level in June 2011


'Forest department is worst enemy of Forest Rights Act'


Planning Commission factors in less than one rupee a day as health expenditure in its affidavit to the apex court


Whatever the poverty line, 50 per cent people in India will remain poor


Can this flawed measure of growth be reversed?


The river has strayed from its flood control route


Odisha wants to dam surplus water downstream of Hirakud dam. But where’s the surplus?


More women than men are voting in India. Majority of them are from rural areas


As bank gears up for competition, it may further dilute environmental safeguard policies


Wood used in Jagannath’s chariot vanishing fast from Odisha’s jungles


Uncertainty looms over its $12 billion steel plant project in Odisha


A 30-year survey of the poor gives a wake-up call


Police open fire, but people resolute to weed out power plant from wetland in Andhra Pradesh


Two villages in Uttar Pradesh have reversed the trend of migration by digging six kilometres of channels to bring water to drought-hit farms


Sea water being used for the first time to cool the nuclear reactor


Overexploitation of water leaves very little for farming


People in urban scheduled areas suffer as Centre fails to legislate


Richard Mahapatra reveals how a chocolate supports people in forests


States want them, but not willing to spend on their salaries


Big changes are expected as the global body acts on review committee’s advice at plenary meet in Busan, South Korea


Book>> Sacrificing People: Invasion of a Tribal Landscape • by Felix Padel • Orient Blackswan • Rs 395


Book>> The Indo-US Nuclear Deal, A Reference Compilation Edited by S K Pande Published by the Delhi Union Journalists and its Media Centre, Delhi 2007




Rich states, fewer disasters, more calamity relief fund


Demand to amend Forest Conservation Act looms large over talks between Naxalites and AP


Now even the World Bank says money should flow to local bodies directly


Precious little achieved as states resist financial empowerment of panchayats


Creation of panchayati raj ministry sparks row


Survey reveals how MPs have made a thorough hash of development fund scheme


CMP: thrust correct, implementation a challenge


Feisty women hill broom gatherers force the forest department to relent in a Orissa village


Women come to the rescue of a village burdened by drought


Mired in misery, Chilika's fisherfolk continue to doggedly fight for their rights


Folklore guides farmers about droughts and rains


Francis Wurtz, president of the Paris-based European United Left party, is certain that ecology is emerging as a political ideology on the left. Attending the World Parliamentary Forum, held along with the World Social Forum (WSF) in Mumbai, he spoke to RICHARD MAHAPATRA


Bhutan unveils new plan


An 'anniversary' story changes tack, a tragedy continues unabated


Ironically, the upgrade involves a technology that is being discarded worldwide due to its poor safety record and complicated processes


The centrality of the Northeast to India's ambitious national electrification plan cannot be overstated, since the region will be required to generate about 60 per cent of the total power produced through some 45 mega hydroelectricity projects. In the process, vast swathes of the area's dense forests will be submerged


"There is radiation everywhere on earth. Mining in Nalgonda will not increase it." This comment of S D Prasad, adviser to public sector undertaking Uranium Corporation of India Limited, typifies the Indian authorities' disregard for the impact of uranium mining on human health and the environment


In the undivided Koraput district of Orissa, there exist 190 villages that have slowly been pushed off the map of India. Hurled by fast-track development into what the state officially calls a "cut-off" region -- hills submerged by the stilled waters of huge reservoirs; a space created by administrative fiat; a gap in the collective memory of the nation; a gash in its growth -- 20,000 tribals today find themselves in an absurd situation: whereas they exist, they also don't.

Years ago, these people were among the first to come across the progress machine, only to be progressively crushed. They were among the first to have suffered the nation's birth pangs. As India celebrates the 56th year of her Independence, they seek freedom from forced remoteness


The 2003 monsoon could herald a great change in the socio-economic landscape of village Birora Kheth in the Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh. Its 42-member fishery co-operative -- set up and run by the village's Dhimar (fisherfolk) women -- is all set to double the village's annual income just by selling fish


On January 5, 2003 hundreds of rickshaw pullers in Hyderabad got together to declare: "Protect our right on roads."


Chemical taint spells doom for jaggery business in western UP


One man's battle to save a village economy


Tamil Nadu seems set to gift community land to corporates under the name of wasteland regeneration


A survey currently underway in states to calculate the number of below poverty line households is being opposed tooth and nail by civil society groups under the 'right to food' campaign. They are objecting to the exercise on two counts: firstly, the criteria used for poverty estimation are incorrect; and secondly, the large-scale migration due to drought is likely to distort figures


Trees take centrestage in Himachal Pradesh


National programme on improved chulhas put on ice


A decade after their inception, Panchayati Raj bodies are yet to be granted adequate powers


Two proposed moves that could drastically alter forest management in India


Central and state authorities fiddle while underground coalfields burn in Jharia in the state of Jharkhand


Experts attempt to map the mythical river's palaeo-channels and put them to good use


Hidden from the outside world, this is the plight of the Van Taungiyas. They were hired during the British rule as resident labourers to plant sal forests in Uttar Pradesh. Now, the government has conveniently washed its hands of them


India's first alliance of women affected by mining takes shape


Thailand policymakers' volte-face on community forestry bill jolts devolution process


As the Himalayan country's forestry scheme for the poor reaps rich dividends, its government entrusts more degraded areas to the underprivileged. The only hurdle for a complete environmental revival seems to be bureaucratic inertia


The frequency of droughts has made even traditionally water-rich regions fall under the spectre of death


There is euphoria in the villages which have harvested rain. Overcoming hurdles, village communities learn the first lesson in water management


Three months after Gujarat was flattened by an earthquake, the state government goes in for a relocation plan to satisfy the builder's lobby


Nepal's forest bureaucracy prepares for the funeral of the much-hailed community forest management programme


Water warriors from across India shared their experiences in harvesting water at a conference, which aimed to 'Make Water Everybody's Business'


The Aquaculture Authority Bill makes a mockery of the Supreme Court ruling on aquaculture firms


A quarter of a century ago, a jeep driver decided it was time to make a change. Ralegan Siddhi, made into a model village by Anna Hazare, faces challenges of a different kind today


The Andhra Pradesh government is giving forests that sustain tribal communities to the Reliance group of industries for plantations. That, too, with the help of joint forest management institutions. The reason may be more than "fund crunch"


The sandalwood forests are gone. Now an ageing Veerappan looks for greener pastures


The human cost of the cyclone in Orissa is very high. So is the cost of the damage to the environment. The failure of the state machinery in handling this crisis is only going to make matters worse. At present, chaos reigns supreme in the affected areas


Catch rain where it falls. No one knew it better than the people living in Mandu, a hill-fort town in Madhya Pradesh, 1,400 years ago


With elections round the corner, the Delhi government has gone back on its decision to phase out 15-year-old commercial vehicles


With the dismantling of the Union Carbide factory responsible for the Bhopal gas leak, vital evidence in the case, which reveals the company's callousness, will disappear

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