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Difficult to digest

Issue Date: Jan 31, 2012

Future shock

Issue Date: Nov 30, 2011
It is a definite recipe for disaster, barely short of apocalypse. Thousands may die, millions get affected, and assets worth billions of dollars get destroyed. As human-induced greenhouse gases increase, so will extreme weather events like floods, heat waves and droughts.

Ethics on trial

Issue Date: Jun 30, 2011
Nine-year-old Rani is unhappy. She has to stay away from her mother Janki Patel, who is taking part in a clinical trial at a centre 10 kilometres from her house at Bapu Nagar in Ahmedabad. “I do not like these trials. They take my parents away,” says Rani.

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.

The goat gamble

Issue Date: Dec 15, 2010
Giyasilal Saini is a marginal farmer who has market savvy. It comes from experience. Living in a semi-arid area like Alwar in Rajasthan, he always knew he could not depend on farming alone. So he would keep some goats, like others in village Jaitpura. Then three years ago the pond that irrigated his tiny field dried up. “Rains have not been enough. I spent a fortune on irrigating my field but could not grow enough for my family,” said the 36-year-old. He devoted his energy to goat rearing.

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.
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