icrn phw energy cse dte gobar times rwh csestore iep aaeti
Contents page
Nov 15-30, 1992

Cover Story

India is one of the few developing countries to have its own space satellite systems. And, now Indian planners are depending increasingly on remote sensing for resource mapping and the monitoring of natural disasters.

Editor's page

THE NEW US administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore promises to be environment-friendly. Gore, derided as the "ozone man" by outgoing president George Bush has sound environmental credentials. His book, Earth in the Balance, has been called visionary by some. Others liken it to Hitler's Mein Kampf and they rate him an environmental extremist. But on the whole, the new Democratic administration is good news for environmentalists though it may be too early to say so.

INDIA'S politicians and bureaucrats have often been compared to the five blind men and the elephant, with the difference that they have consciously chosen to be blind. For years, they have woven a shroud of secrecy over the state of the country's natural resources and every bit of relevant data remains an official secret stored in sacrosanct files.

News

Much useful and reasonably priced reading material for children, focussing on environmental issues, is available now.

The prospect of being kept out of forests they have occupied for 50 winters, on the pretext of environmental conservation, the Gujjars of Uttar Pradesh have finally taken a stand against the avarice of forest department officials.

As the Tatas try to counter public opposition to their prawn farm, the environment ministry looks on passively.

A growth hormone that the National Dairy Development Board seeks to import because it can increase milk yield by as much as 30 per cent, has run into trouble. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research, emulating the European Commission, insists it must first test the long-terms effects of the drug.

A noon meal food supplement consisting of a blue-green algae was provided to schoolchildren on a trial basis in Pudukottai district, with dramatic results in terms of weight gain and resistance to ailments.

With a recession-hit economy to revive, it remains to be seen how much priority the environment will get when the new administration takes over in Washington.

John Major's Conservative government is learning the hard way that a free market economy alway works better anywhere but at home.

In the new environment-sensitive atmosphere after Rio, two Northern agencies that aid research projects in the developing world are being compelled to question the dimensions of their role.

Despite the Asian Development Bank setting up a social dimensions unit to liaise with NGOs and involve them in projects the bank funds, Asian NGOs are unconvinced of the bank's seriousness.

The proposal for setting up a Commission for Sustainable Development, considered one of Rio's successes, is already caught in a dispute over size, composition and status.

Interview

Rameshwari has been working as a scavenger in the pilgrim town of Ajmer in Rajasthan for the last 15 years. She abhors her work, yet she does it as it is her only source of live...

Science & Technology

Developers of a new, clean and efficient process for coal-based power generation say it will not become popular unless the government enforces stricter environment protection standards.

The oxidising property of cigarette and chulha smoke is one of the factors being linked by researchers to the formation of eye cataract.

Specialised structures such as chromosomes were thought to float haphazardly in cells. Now, researchers believe tiny motors guide them on cytoplasmic tracks, a finding that could explain certain genetic disorders.

People infected with the AIDS virus are more susceptible to tuberculosis, and this further reduces their chances of survival.

Evidence suggests plants have a nervous system that enables them to respond to touch.

Certain mouse brain cells have been found to be capable of producing neurons. Scientists say if similar cells are found to exist in the human brain, it will soon be possible to treat nervous disorders.

Analysis

India is one of the few developing countries to have its own space satellite systems. And, now Indian planners are depending increasingly on remote sensing for resource mapping and the monitoring of natural disasters.

Special Report

An Indian government report that criticises and asks for several amendments in the Montreal Protocol is expected to generate heated debate among signatories meeting later this month.

Feature

The success of various programmes initiated under a pilot project in Orangi, a Karachi slum, has inspired its leader to predict the squatter colony would become a thriving section of the city in a few years.

The Fortnight

With a recession-hit economy to revive, it remains to be seen how much priority the environment will get when the new administration takes over in Washington.

John Major's Conservative government is learning the hard way that a free market economy alway works better anywhere but at home.

In the new environment-sensitive atmosphere after Rio, two Northern agencies that aid research projects in the developing world are being compelled to question the dimensions of their role.

Despite the Asian Development Bank setting up a social dimensions unit to liaise with NGOs and involve them in projects the bank funds, Asian NGOs are unconvinced of the bank's seriousness.

The proposal for setting up a Commission for Sustainable Development, considered one of Rio's successes, is already caught in a dispute over size, composition and status.

Leader

THE NEW US administration of Bill Clinton and Al Gore promises to be environment-friendly. Gore, derided as the "ozone man" by outgoing president George Bush has sound environmental credentials. His book, Earth in the Balance, has been called visionary by some. Others liken it to Hitler's Mein Kampf and they rate him an environmental extremist. But on the whole, the new Democratic administration is good news for environmentalists though it may be too early to say so.

INDIA'S politicians and bureaucrats have often been compared to the five blind men and the elephant, with the difference that they have consciously chosen to be blind. For years, they have woven a shroud of secrecy over the state of the country's natural resources and every bit of relevant data remains an official secret stored in sacrosanct files.

Crosscurrent

To most modern Indian writers, the environment means trees, birds and animals -- and human beings, in aesthetic or metaphysical communion with them.

... but the government has done nothing to monitor the prevalence of tuberculosis in the area.

Rigoberta Menchu, a Guatemalan human rights activist and peasant leader, was awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Menchu was witness to the massacre of her entire family at the hands of the Guatemalan army. In this excerpt from her testimony, Menchu describes the close communion that Latin American Indians have with nature.

Review

SCIENCE, DEVELOPMENT AND VIOLENCE -- THE TWILIGHT OF MODERNITY Claude Alvares Publisher: Oxford University Press, New Delhi Price: Rs 195

FROM POVERTY TO PLENTY: THE STORY OF RALEGAN SIDDHI Ganesh and Vasudha Pangare Publisher: INTACH, New Delhi Price: Rs 85

Individuals and voluntary agencies continue to make films in different parts of the country on subjects that interest them, though hardly any of these make it to the television screen.

Grassroots

The success of various programmes initiated under a pilot project in Orangi, a Karachi slum, has inspired its leader to predict the squatter colony would become a thriving section of the city in a few years.

Letters

Speculative study

The Skakkebaek et al study (Study finds sperm count decreasing worldwide, October 31) remains speculative regarding the role of environmental factors in the decreasing semen count and density, although at least seven references (1981-1990), all utilised by the authors in their study, specifically document the effect of hazardous chemicals on human reproductive health.

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