Your article 'Efficiency versus democracy' (June 30, 2007) hits the nail on the head. Your fear that the country is bartering democracy for corporatisation is a reality. The government is busy achieving higher gdp rate in the name of reforms. We should oppose policies that intend to sell democracy for efficiency.
Your editorial is an excellent gambit. Please broaden the scope of the debate and suggest ways to pull back from this efficiency overdrive.
Too sweet for tooth
Recently I discovered that Mangola (Pepsi's mango juice drink brand), as stated on the bottle, contains about 15 gramme of sugar per 100 ml. Duke's Lemonade has a sugar content of 12 gramme per 100 ml. In fact every cola brand has a similar proportion of sugar. Health websites recommend the average daily intake of sugar for an adult should not be more than 12 gramme. But an average serving of Pepsi (a small cup of 200 ml) contains about 24 gramme of sugar, which is double the recommended amount. Should I conclude that the cola companies are unethically over-sweetening the drinks? Is there any research done on the issue?
I read an article that quoted an American scientist saying how colas disturb our dna structure. They contain chemical e 211, which combines with the chemicals present in our body to form carcinogens. This harms our dna structure, causes cancer and other diseases, noted the article. Yoga guru Swami Ramdev also discourages people from drinking colas. Your organisation has been saying this for the past few years. Hope the world agrees to it now.
A compassionate move
The West Bengal government's rapid industrialisation programme has recently come under scrutiny following movements against several anti-people projects in the state.
Two incidents have particularly drawn our attention: one at Singur where the Tatas are setting up a small-car factory, and the other at Nandigram where the government has proposed to set up a special economic zone for an Indonesian enterprise of doubtful credentials. The state machinery, acting in collusion with the ruling communist party of India (Marxist) cadres, have unleashed a reign of terror on poor farmers and their families refusing to part with their land.
Drik India proposes to take a note of the incident as well as the work being done by writers like Mahasweta Devi, who are spearheading the movement in Singur and Nandigram against the industrial policy of the West Bengal government. While travelling with the writer during her frequent journeys to the affected villages, Drik India team, too, witnessed how people of these villages are being made to suffer in the name of development, industrialisation and employment generation.
Drik India team
I came across a study, which says that we can produce biodiesel from algae (Chlorella vulgaris). It seems to offer a viable solution for the oil crisis and the global warming that the world currently faces. More than this, open pond cultivation of algae can offer a major breakthrough in the agro-industry. The process will particularly help small and marginalised farmers in the tropical zones. I request your team to carry out a detailed study on the subject.
Recently, I came across a few local reports saying that a group of tantriks from Uttar Pradesh are threatening the rare Indian fishing owl. To catch these birds, they offer anything between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1 lakh to local people. They sell their body parts as drugs or in the form of tabiz, and claim that the owl's body contains aphrodisiac properties. Please focus on the issue in your esteemed magazine.
This is in response to the article 'Cane fumes' (January 31, 2006). It is thought-provoking to read about the pollution-emitting sugarcane crushers around Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur district. Farmers sell their sugarcanes to these mills not only for instant payment but also to clear their fields for the next crop. But their need is often over looked by mill owners. They not only delay the payments, at times the farmers do not get paid at all. It's not only the private mill owners who harass these farmers, even government-owned mills are no better. Besides, the toxic fumes emitted by these mills prove fatal for the farmers after prolonged exposure. I feel the state government should evolve a comprehensive strategy to deal with all these problems of the farmers.
Ajit Pal Singh
I want to make a few points regarding receding glaciers. Situation cannot improve unless there is a joint effort by India and Pakistan.
Both the countries have deployed about 10,000 troops to protect the border line, which passes through the Siachen glacier. This requires more than 40 tonnes of fuel every day. The soldiers need around 10 tonnes of kerosene a day for cooking and keeping themselves warm. Lifting the kerosene to base stations needs another 30 tonnes of fuel. Can one imagine the carbon footprint caused by the burning of this huge amount of fuel every day? This has been happening for 23 years now.
Even the disappearance of the ice lingam at the Amarnath cave this year was because of the body heat of pilgrims. I don't agree with the ipcc chairperson Rajendra Kumar Pachauri saying that human presence is hardly responsible for the melting of the Siachen glacier.
Apropos the fact sheet 'Distribution matters' (August 15, 2007), the third point mistakenly mentions Annapurna Anna Yojana as one of the food assistance programmes. Name of the programme is Antyodaya Anna Yojana.
In the article 'Sanitary wares do the catwalk' (August 15, 2007), the toilet 'beauty contest' was mistakenly said to have taken place in Kerala's Nagapattinam district. The contest was organised in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.
We regret the errors.
While budgeting CO2
I read your editorial 'No more kindergarten approach to climate' (May 31, 2007). The article mentions: "Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere has increased from a pre-industrial value of 280 parts per million (ppm) to 379 ppm in 2005. Scientists tell us that the remaining budget is 450 ppm (to keep risks as low as possible) and 550 ppm to be adventurous."
I find two errors in the paragraph. One, you have compared two different figures: the first two figures are co2 concentration, while the last two are concentration of co2 equivalent co2e). The current co2 concentration is 379 ppm and the maximum permissible concentration of co2e is between 450 and 550 ppm.
To calculate co2e, scientists also consider other greenhouse gas emissions like methane, nitrous oxide, and derive the figure through a complex formula. Although there is some disagreement over the exact percentage of other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, scientists say the current co2e concentration is around 430 ppm. Some even say we have reached 459 ppm co2e concentration. This means, there is 'no scope' for emissions.
The second error is the assumption that "to keep risks as low as possible", we should limit emissions co2e to 450 ppm. At 475 ppm, global warming is likely (chances are 64 per cent) to exceed by 2c. If the concentration dips to 400 ppm or less, then the global temperature will rise (chances are 28 per cent) by more than 2 c. We are already between 430-460 ppm co2e concentration. This means the picture is extremely grim and challenges ahead is enormous.
The 379 ppm is the estimate for the amount of co2 in 2005. Yes, it is correct that if the amount is estimated in terms of total concentration of all greenhouse gases then the amount is 430 ppm co2e. This, as said, makes the budget available for us even smaller.
A plastic bag manufacturing company plans to set up its factory in our village Thazekadu in Kerala's Thrissur district. The unit aims to produce 30 thousand plastic sacks a day using 5 tonnes of plastic and polypropylene granules. Every day, the plant will use around 8,000 litres of water. The plant is located in a densely populated area, for which we are worried about its possible health and environmental hazards. Can your organisation help us know if the factory will emit toxins? Will melting of polypropylene granules affect the surrounding environment? Please help us.
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