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Poverty

Kind to cash

Issue Date: Feb 15, 2011
It is logical for India to be one of the few countries to spend about two per cent of its gross domestic product on the social sector. After all it hosts the world’s largest number of poor. But it sounds illogical that nearly three-fourths of it is the cost of reaching development to the poor. To reach one rupee of development, India spends Rs 3.65, according to its own official estimate. To put it in perspective, India needs to triple its development budget to ensure each rupee currently allotted reaches the intended beneficiary.

Profit from the poor

Issue Date: Nov 30, 2010
Ega Mounika was born into debt, lived in debt and died with debts. The college-going 20-year-old of Warangal’s Karimabad village immolated herself on September 25; three days later, she died. “My daughter wanted to release us from debt,” said her father Laxmi Narayan who sustained burn injuries trying to rescue her. He owns a paan shop and always had debts, which is why no bank found him worthy of a loan. So five years ago, when a microfinance institution (MFI) approached her mother, a beedi roller, offering a loan of Rs 10,000, Mounika was quick to say yes. She bought a sewing machine with the money, started a tailoring business, dividing her time between studies and the new machine. “Things were fine for two weeks,” said Narayan, “then we began to default.” Loan repayment is usually weekly in microfinance.

How government is subverting Forest Rights Act

Issue Date: Nov 15, 2010
Two tribal villages in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra—Mendha Lekha and Marda— savoured victory when they won community rights over their forest resources in August last year.

Dharavi's real estate threat

Issue Date: Nov 30, 2007
Poised on the northern edge of south Mumbai is a piece of real estate developers would love to get their hands on. Rubbing shoulders with upmarket Bandra, Dharavi is known as Asia's largest slum, but it's actually much more than that--it's a settlement in which people live and work, producing a wide array of goods and services. The government's plan to 'redevelop' Dharavi is threatening a huge number of livelihoods.

Making India's mining sector socially and environmentally viable

Issue Date: Apr 30, 2007
By Chandra Bhushan I learnt an important lesson on my travels in Orissa's Sundergarh and Keonjhar districts. One, the people of one of the most resource-rich areas of the country were also some of its poorest; and, two, this was because their land contained minerals that were important for industrial growth.

Sponge iron industries are killing fields

Issue Date: Sep 15, 2006
Wayward growth Since 2002, India has been the largest producer of sponge iron, also called direct reduced iron (dri), in the world. Today about 20 per cent of the sponge iron produced worldwide is made in India.

SEZ, how special?

Issue Date: Nov 15, 2006
Roughshod riding SEZs will trample on farmers' rights A farmer in Cheete Kalan village in Amritsar, Harjeet Singh Hundal, has big plans. For the past year, he has been using organic manure on his fertile and irrigated agricultural land and he can't stop talking about it.

Disconnect

Issue Date: Oct 31, 2004
Tractors in India are out of reach for the majority of farmers. The cheapest tractor costs Rs 1.8 lakh, almost as much as a new car. But while a car is a luxury, a tractor is not: it's becoming an imperative as the demand for food grains increases.

INEVITABLE TRAGEDY

Issue Date: Jul 15, 2004
Newspaper reports show that from January 1, 2004 to May 16, 2004, about 29 farmers in Andhra Pradesh (AP) committed suicide. From May 17, the suicides suddenly increased: the AP Rytu Sangham, the farmers' wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has compiled reports of 279 suicides by farmers in the state in one month.

Out of breath

Issue Date: Mar 15, 2004
The shanties in Yamuna Pushta are packed tight. A dusty and torn curtain hangs over the entrance to Sabina's house. Trunks and cupboards leave little space for Sabina and her family. A kabadiwala has spread his polythene bags and plastic ware at their doorstep. A neighbour's goats roam nearby.
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