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Crosscurrents

The year of ecobabble

Author(s): William Moomaw
Issue Date: Feb 28, 1994
"WHAT DID we achieve in 1993?" The simple answer is: "Not much!" If that is an unsatisfying note to begin a new year on, we could rephrase the question: "What did we lose in 1993?" The answer, once again, is: "Not much!" Wordplay and sarcasm aside, 1993 was an extremely eventful year in which very little was actually achieved. For historians that would make 1993 more of a rule, than an exception.

The ethics of genetic combinations

Issue Date: Feb 28, 1994
SINCE ancient times, we have been aware of several basic ideas of heredity. Plants and animals with superior characteristics were isolated and multiplied. Human mating practices were restricted to exclude incest, as well as matings outside specific defined groups.

Cultivating wood for fuel

Author(s): Barry Hague
Issue Date: Feb 15, 1994
THESE are difficult times for UK farmers. Food surpluses are forcing land to be taken out of food production. In many instances, farmers are being paid to leave their land idle - the system of "set-aside" payments - but this fails to compensate fully for falling incomes. Farmers have been looking for other ways of making money from their land and some have even been forced to sell their land.

'Sab kuch chalta hai!'

Issue Date: Feb 15, 1994
WHOEVER said scientists were boring obviously hasn't attended the annual session of the Indian Science Congress Association. The 81st session, held in Jaipur recently, dispelled any doubts that when 4,000 scientists decide to congregate, they are far from dull, never mind that much of the fun took place outside conference halls and seminar rooms.

The common root

Author(s): Kishore Saint
Issue Date: Jan 31, 1994
Sacred groves are the embodiment of a multitude of human impulses, energies, relations and creeds. But, lack of holistic perspective leads to a dangerous reduction of this wide spectrum to a one-dimensional rationalisation. From there, it is only a short step to theological, legal and technological definitions, leading to appropriation of the concept of scared groves by the dominant systems of religion, state and the market.

From butterfly to caterpillar

Author(s): Ajay S Rawat
Issue Date: Jan 31, 1994
A reverse metamorphosis is taking place in Naini Tal: a beautiful butterfly is changing into an ugly caterpillar. Pollution of the Naini lake, illegal construction, land encroachment, faulty planning and lopsided tourism development is ruining Naini Tal. Its very existence, especially that of the lake, is endangered. Technology alone cannot solve this problem: there must be an awareness that the people and the landscape are an inextricable whole.

Need for an overhaul

Author(s): Anders Wijkman
Issue Date: Jan 31, 1994
Whichever way we look at the future, nobody can deny that today's world is in deep crisis. The central task must be to provide adequate living conditions for a growing world population that restores and maintains a sustainable relationship with nature. This is not only a moral imperative but a question of global security.

'Nature's gardeners' to the fore

Author(s): Ram Etwareea
Issue Date: Jan 15, 1994
AS THE December 15 deadline of the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) approached, European farmers occupied centre stage by protesting various points of the agreement and forcing their respective governments to take uncompromising stands. While European and American agricultural negotiators pledged tariff cuts, farmers from all over Europe gathered in Geneva to oppose any farm deal that will require any sacrifice on their part.

Going public

Author(s): Sanjay Ghose
Issue Date: Jan 15, 1994
FOR CENTURIES, the people of western Rajasthan have depended on uncertain rain for their feeble attempts at settled agriculture and for drinking purposes. The scarcity has given the people a sense of conservation that is remarkable by modern standards. Children are bathed in shallow metal containers and the water is then mixed in cattle feed. The other ingredients of the feed are mainly crop residues and by-products.

The global environmental fiasco

Author(s): Karan Kapoor
Issue Date: Jan 15, 1994
NEGOTIATIONS on how to structure a more democratic Global Environment Facility (GEF), which will finance the environmental treaties signed at the Earth Summit, broke down once again in Cartagena, Colombia, in December 1993. Participating countries were unable to agree to the proposed changes to restructure the GEF, set up by the World Bank with the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.
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