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Sunita Narain

Gujarat v UPA: models of non-governance?

Issue Date: May 15, 2014
The 2014 general election, it would seem, is becoming a referendum on the so-called Gujarat model and the something-UPA model. In the heat, dust and filth of elections, rhetoric is high, imagery is weak and facts are missing. Very broadly, the Gujarat model is seen to be corporate-friendly, with emphasis on economic growth at any cost and little focus on social indicators of development. The UPA model, on the other hand, is seen to promote distributive justice and inclusive growth.

Junk games and school children

Issue Date: Apr 30, 2014
“There is nothing called junk food. The problem with obesity lies with children who do not exercise enough. What is needed is for them to run and jump, and to do this they need to consume high-calorie food. So, food high in salt, sugar and fat is good for them.” This is what was argued vehemently and rudely by representatives of the food industry in the committee, set up under directions from the Delhi High Court to frame guidelines for junk food in the country. See also:  Editorial More to junk food than meets the eye DTE archives DTE archives: Lifestyle diseases and food habits  

Coal politics in an unequal world

Issue Date: Apr 15, 2014
Australia is a coal country. It is big business—miners are important in politics and black gold exports dominate the country’s finances. But dirty and polluting coal evokes emotions in environmentally concerned people. Coal-based power provides 40 per cent of the world’s electricity and emits one-third of global carbon dioxide, which is pushing the world to climate change.

Western Ghats: lessons in protection

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2014
Madhav Gadgil and K Kasturirangan are both scientists of great repute. But both are caught up in a controversy on how the Western Ghats—the vast biological treasure trove spread over the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu—should be protected. First the Ministry of Environment and Forests asked Gadgil to submit a plan for protection of the Ghats.

When planting trees is a curse

Issue Date: Mar 15, 2014
Forests have been blacked out in the economic assessment of the country. The Economic Survey does not even list forestry as a sector, for which accounts are prepared. Instead it is lumped together with agriculture and fisheries. In other words, there are no estimates of the productivity of this sector, which encompasses over 20 per cent of the country’s land area.

The chulha politics

Issue Date: Feb 28, 2014
Chulhas—cookstoves of poor women who collect sticks, twigs and leaves to cook meals—are today at the centre of failing international action. Women are breathing toxic emissions from stoves and these emissions are also adding to the climate change burden. The 2010 Global Burden of Disease established that indoor air pollution from stoves is a primary cause of disease and death in South Asia.

Ganga needs water, not money

Issue Date: Feb 15, 2014
It was way back in 1986 that Rajiv Gandhi had launched the Ganga Action Plan. But years later, after much water (sewage) and money has flowed down the river, it is as bad as it could get. Why are we failing and what needs to be done differently to clean this and many other rivers?

Letters - January 16-31, 2014

Issue Date: Jan 31, 2014
Backdoor for big brother With regard to the article “How private is privacy?” (December 16-31, 2013), I was curious to know how far the National Security Agency (NSA) of the US and other similar organisations with online surveillance programmes have succeeded in getting hold of encrypted softwares. Will we ever know the extent of the damage done? Anupama anupama.kumar@balliol.ox.ac.uk Response from author

Breaking the impasse of 2013

Issue Date: Jan 31, 2014
When I look back at 2013, I hear a cacophony. There was huge dissent about the way we are mismanaging coal reserves; the Supreme Court shut down iron ore mining in Goa; there was outcry about rampant sand mining and the havoc it is wreaking on rivers. There were equally loud calls for the need for green clearance to all projects, from hydropower projects in the Himalayas to mines in dense forests of central India. One side wanted to shut everything; another wanted to open up everything.
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