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Sunita Narain

If only cities can see wetlands

Issue Date: Jul 31, 2014
Sixty People died in a building collapse in Chennai last fortnight. There is much more than the municipal incompetence that needs to be fixed to avoid such tragic incidents. This building was located on Porur lake, a water body that provides services like groundwater recharge and flood management to an otherwise water-starved city. If you care to ask the obvious question how construction was permitted on the wetland, you will get a not-so-obvious response. Wetlands are rarely recorded under municipal land laws, so nobody knows about them.

Make India drought-proof

Issue Date: Jul 15, 2014
METEOROLOGISTS ARE still not sure of the timing and intensity of El Niño. But it is clear that this monsoon will not be normal and there is a serious possibility that some parts of the country will be hit by drought and crop failure. The question is why we remain so unprepared to deal with crippling water shortages year after year. Why have all our efforts to drought-proof India failed? What should we do now?

Roads are meant for walking

Issue Date: Jun 30, 2014
In India, traffic accidents are not on the health agenda. It is time the agenda is changed. Last week when the Union Minister for Rural Development met with an unfortunate and tragic accident on the road in Delhi, the issue was highlighted. But as yet, there is little understanding of the seriousness of the problem, and why India, which has just begun to motorise, needs to take action, and fast.

To all our readers

Issue Date: Jun 15, 2014
YOU WILL NOTICE in this issue some big and small changes. This is our 530th issue, which means we have been researching, writing, designing and publishing Down To Earth for 22 years. Every fortnight our aim is to bring you news, perspectives and knowledge that can help you make a difference. Our objective is to prepare you to change the world. We believe information is a powerful driver for the new tomorrow.

Change of climate in the US

Issue Date: May 31, 2014
Climate change has a surprising new follower: the US president. The US government has been the biggest bugbear in climate change negotiations. Since discussions began on this issue in the early 1990s, the US has stymied all efforts for an effective and fair deal. It has blocked action by arguing that countries like China and India must first do more. Worse, successive governments have even denied that the threat from a changing climate is real, let alone urgent.

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.
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