Chipko: Environmentalism of the poor

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The idea that people are prepared to hug trees to save them from being felled excited and enthused so many people across the country, that it built the foundation for a nationwide environmental concern and a whole generation of home-grown environmentalists. Given the fact that there was a powerful environmental concern growing in the West, there would have been, sooner or later, a fallout of this Western phenomenon in India. But this country did not have to wait for it. Chipko had a deep intellectual impact and helped to resolve the conflict between the concepts of development and environmental protection, without which the environment concern could not have come to enjoy a reasonably widespread acceptance in a poor, developing country.

Whereas Indira Gandhi had told the 1972 Stockholm Conference in no uncertain terms that “poverty is the biggest polluter”, Chipko told Indians and the rest of the world that it is the…DOWN TO EARTH

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Focussing on the marginal farmer

While traditionally the blame is cast on the usurious local moneylender, NCRB data highlight that 2,474 of the 3,000 farmers who were reported to have committed suicide in 2015 had loans from local banks, while those who had loans from moneylenders were just 9.8 per cent of the total. Maharashtra reported 1,293 such suicides for indebtedness, while Karnataka had 946.

FEROZE VARUN GANDHI


THE HINDU

| JANUARY 19 2017

The sluice gate on the Bhakra main line canal in Khanauri-Kalan village in Sangrur district, Punjab, has become infamous. According to reports, it is a suicide point for farmers and their families. Typically, 30-45 corpses are found in the canal on average every month. Farmers’ suicide in Punjab is a major worry: over 2,632 farmers are reported to have committed suicide between 1995 and 2015,in the land famed for its Green Revolution, according to State government records. Mansa district alone accounts for 1,334 suicides. Adding farm labourers raises the total to 4,687 reported suicides. The reasons for this vary: cotton crop has been whittled by whiteflies, basmati’s market price has declined, the local moneylender has hiked up rates to 20 per cent. The farmer ekes his way to penury.

Farmer suicides are not a new trend. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), 2,195 marginal farmers reportedly committed suicide in 2015 (of which 834 were in Maharashtra), while 3,618 “small farmers” undertook such drastic steps, with Maharashtra alone seeing 1,285. More curiously, a larger…THE HINDU

From Plate to Plough: With humility, on farmer income

ASHOK GULATI SHWETA SAINI | JUNE 20 2016 | INDIAN EXPRESS


NDA’s existing agricultural policies are ill-equipped to achieve the stated goal of doubling them in five years.

As the Narendra Modi government completed two years in office, almost each arm of government issued hordes of advertisements celebrating achievements and delineating policies and programmes that were transforming India. The ministry of agriculture and farmers’ welfare came out with a big picture of PM Modi, spelling out 10 points reflecting the government’s agri-vision and strategic interventions to transform Indian agriculture. Topping this list were: “Farmers’ income to be doubled in five years”, followed by the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, soil health cards, organic farming,…CONTINUE READING

A Wider Battle

 

DIPA SINHA | JUNE 13 2016 | INDIAN EXPRESS

Other indicators such as those related to women’s status also show a very strong correlation with malnutrition levels. Calculating simple correlation coefficients between stunting levels and different indicators it is seen that stunting is most highly correlated with the percentage of women in the state having a bank account in their name (minus 0.83) and percentage of female literacy (minus 0.68). Similarly, stunting is also highly correlated with the percentage of households in a state using improved sanitation facilities (minus 0.62)…CONTINUE READING

Maize farmer ‘beats the heat’

R. VIMAL KUMAR | JUNE 4 2016 | THE HINDU

/PICTURE FROM THE HINDU

Even as several maize farmers are upset over withered crops due to extremely hot conditions, a farmer in Tirupur district is showing how adopting progressive farming practices can ‘beat the heat,’ and reap success by cultivating maize.

S. Shanmugasundaram (65), a multi-crop farmer from Karapalayam village who always looked for innovations over the past four-decades, tried out a new hybrid, heat-resistant seed variety of maize developed at the State Seed Farm in Pongalur, and followed certain creative agronomic procedures, to get rich dividends.

His maize field, spreads little over an acre, is now filled with cobs that have seeds/grains till to the top and in sizes more than the conventionally grown corncobs.

“Usually, severe heat is not conducive for raising maize as even I have faced losses earlier. This is due to…CONTINUE READING

The MGNREGA index

Figuring out key parameters on which to measure a State’s performance provides a playbook of best practices for others to follow.

GRAPHIC FROM THE HINDU

SHOBHIT MATHUR NOMESH BOLIA | MAY 31 2016 | THE HINDU

Second, MGNREGA requires that wages be paid within 15 days of closing the muster roll. Last financial year, only 40 per cent of the wages were paid within the stipulated time of 15 days. Manipur stood out in this case with 82 per cent of wages being paid within 15 days while Meghalaya was only able to pay wages for 4 per cent of the people on time.

Third, work completion rate refers to the number of works completed compared to works started, in percentage terms. Mizoram performed best in this case with a 92 per cent work completion rate. Tripura, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh also had work completion rates of above 80 per cent. Arunachal Pradesh was at the bottom at just 20 per cent work completion rate.

Performance score

The absolute values of each performance metric are scaled to a value between 0 and 10 by dividing with the highest value across States (to get a value between 0 and 1) and multiplying it by 10. We added up…CONTINUE READING

Starving MGNREGA

 

NIKHIL DEY, ARUNA ROY | MARCH 30 2016 | INDIAN EXPRESS

The MGNREGA was inspired by the Maharashtra Employment Guarantee Act, passed in 1977, wherein policymakers found wage employment as the best way to empower people against drought…CONTINUE READING

Modi Sarkar’s big budgetary miss: Malnutrition

KUNDAN PANDEY | MARCH 4 2016 | DOWN T EARTH

Photo: Soumik Mukherjee

Photo: Soumik Mukherjee / Picture from DOWN TO EARTH


 

Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat when he claimed that malnutrition in his state was high because girls had become “beauty-conscious”. In May 2014, he became the Prime Minister of India. Five months into his stint, the National Democratic Alliance government received a survey conducted by UNICEF named the “Rapid Survey on Children”. The survey was commissioned by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development. All this information was revealed…CONTINUE READING

The poor and the environment: lessons from energy crisis

SUNITA NARAIN

| MARCH 15 2016 | DOWN TO EARTH

We know that the poor are worst affected by environmental degradation. They live in poverty; have the highest exposure to pollution; drink contaminated water, which is responsible for the highest mortality among children; breathe polluted air; and depend on depleting forest resources for their survival. Research over the years has made it clear that the poor, through their intensive use of natural resources, are not responsible for environmental degradation. It is the extensive use of resources on a commercial scale, involving highly energy-intensive and extractive industrial methods, by the rich that is primarily responsible for degradation.

In the 1970s and ’80s it was widely said that the “other energy crisis” is firewood for cooking as supply was short and women had to spend hours walking to collect this basic need. It was also said that this use of energy by the…CONTINUE READING

Across the aisle- Dear farmers: Achhe din are coming

P.CHIDAMBARAM | MARCH 6 2016 | THE HINDU

Farmers had taken note of the BJP’s failure to keep its election promise of offering a Minimum Support Price (MSP) of cost + 50 per cent. I had pointed out that the increases in MSP in 2015-16 were paltry. Members of Parliament were aghast when Prime Minister Modi declared his contempt for MGNREGA that, according to him, was “a monument to the failure of the Congress governments”. Critics warned the…CONTINUE READING