Category Archives: Countryside

Two Reports and Many Strategic Agents: Post-Disaster Thinking in Kerala

Two massive calamities, tremendous losses, continuing signs of serious ecological destruction impending — yet all we Malayalis seem to have produced in response: two reports, and even more frenzied strategic calculation. There is little doubt that the disasters happened in the first place at least partially because of the latter, but there seems to be no rethinking. Instead, we have strategic agents refurbishing their strategies to the new circumstances.

What else explains the Kerala government’s  Rebuilding Kerala Development Programme Report (RKDPR)? It popped up all of a sudden around the end of last year, after the UN-led Post-Disaster Needs Assessment Report (PDNAR), and even members of the Chief Minister’s Advisory Council were caught unawares.  The economist K P Kannan, whose life’s work has been focused on Kerala’s economy, a member of the Council, remarked in a recent interview in the Sastragathy that they did not know of it until the third meeting of the council. None knew who put it together, and there is no mention of this in the report itself. It draws heavily but selectively on the PDNAR, but also perhaps on the projects that were prepared for World Bank funding – and Kannan reaffirms this impression. The draft report was made available online for comments but there is no clear idea about these experts or the public consultations. Continue reading Two Reports and Many Strategic Agents: Post-Disaster Thinking in Kerala

Healing Kerala: Thoughts after the Second Warning

 

Everywhere the talk is still about rebuilding Kerala: I say, we need to talk about healing Kerala. The change in phrasing is not trivial. When we admit that we need to heal, rather than rebuild, we are admitting much that we did not care to own up till now. That is, we would be agreeing that the problem at hand is a human one and not just one that can be resolved through technical intervention; that, as a complex process, it will take its time and quick-fixes will not suffice.  Thankfully, there is a widespread discussion on the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee Report and the Post-disaster needs assessment report of last year; quarrying has been stopped all over the state. Maybe we will heal, indeed. What do we need to do to heal, and not just rebuild? Continue reading Healing Kerala: Thoughts after the Second Warning

After Kavalappara: Is the Future that of Ecological Patriotism?

I guess bad habits in development take a very long time to unlearn. Even in the face of the direst of warnings.

I know that last year, when taken completely by surprise, Kerala rose to the occasion. It appeared that a new civil society had come to being around the flood rescue and relief work, and that promised a new lease of life for our flagging-if-still-working project of people’s planning and political decentralization. It appeared that there was a real chance to stop the bureaucratic-technocratic coterie from shoving this ecologically-fragile area down the path of utterly destructive infrastructure-obsessed growth. It seemed that we could now seriously expose the depredations of the predatory capitalists, especially in the construction sector. Continue reading After Kavalappara: Is the Future that of Ecological Patriotism?

Alternative Futures – India Unshackled

Alternative Futures
Alternative Futures – India Unshackled

After the Berlin wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, many consigned ideologies and alternatives to the rubble of history. The end of the cold war was explained as the victory, not just of liberal ethos and individual freedom, but of dynamic, market-driven capitalism championed by likes of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Manmohan Singh. India’s left also embraced this belief in practice, promoting foreign and national capitals and capitalist-led industrialization. They hoped market miracles would generate employment and wealth. Women such as MedhaPatkar, a social activist and a fierce opponent of the globalized developmental model and Sudha Bhardwaj, a trade union activist in Chhattisgarh seemed as thoroughly on the wrong side of the history as it was possible to be. Continue reading Alternative Futures – India Unshackled

Effects of Climate Change are not Contained within Nations – The Impact on India: Nagraj Adve

Guest post by NAGRAJ ADVE

This post is the second part, excerpted and slightly adapted, from the booklet by Nagraj Adve, Global Warming in the Indian Context: An Introductory Overview (Ecologise Hyderabad 2019). The first part appeared in Kafila on 1 July 2019

While the earlier post covered the basic science of global warming, the roots of the problem, and how inequality relates to climate change, this part focuses on key impacts of climate change in India, on humans and other species, and the reasons for urgency in tackling the problem. 

Villagers try to catch fish in drying pond in West Bengal, image courtesy Science News

Before we consider impacts in India and elsewhere, a few things are useful to keep in mind:

– Unlike most other forms of pollution, the source of carbon dioxide and where its effects are felt can be very far apart. Carbon dioxide generated in the United States affects people on the Orissa coast.

– A significant portion of carbon dioxide emitted today will remain in the atmosphere for centuries, influencing future climates.

– Even after the world ceases to emit carbon, higher average temperatures are “largely irreversible for a thousand years” because the gains of lesser radiation being trapped gets offset by the reduced loss of heat to the oceans. Hence, climate change is the new ‘normal’.

– Impacts will worsen because of the time lag between emissions and warming. Some of it is unavoidable. Our urgent intervention is needed to make sure they do not get much worse, and that the situation does not spiral out of our control. Continue reading Effects of Climate Change are not Contained within Nations – The Impact on India: Nagraj Adve

Justice denied – the Dharmapuri rape: Ila Ananya

Guest Post by ILA ANANYA

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On the night of November 12th 2018, more than fifty people from Sittilingi, a village in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, made their way back home from Dharmapuri Government Medical College Hospital with the body of a 16-year-old Adivasi (Malaivasi) girl. The girl had been raped on November 5th by two drunk men, and had died in the hospital five days later – a death that her family have described as linked to blatant police negligence, beginning with their refusal to file an FIR, and involving the questionable role of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Dharmapuri. Manjunathan*, a resident of Sittilingi, says that on November 12th, around ten police vehicles and 100 policemen had followed the girl’s funeral procession through the village, all the way to the graveyard. “Till now we have never seen the police,” Manjunathan attests, “now suddenly, since the day of the protest, they have remained in the village, especially at the junction, harassing people.”

This large and unusual police presence in Sittilingi began on November 10th, after around 2000 people gathered on the main road of the village, frequented by buses connecting Salem and Thiruvannamalai, to protest against the rape and death of the girl. Continue reading Justice denied – the Dharmapuri rape: Ila Ananya

The Kisan Charter – ‘Farmers are not just a residue from our past but integral to the future of India and the world’

Kisan Mukti March in Delhi, image courtesy New Indian Express
Till just the other day, they were committing suicide, while some of them were demonstrating in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, humiliating themselves by disrobing and eating rats, trying in vain to draw the attention of the political establishment to their plight.  And to pour salt on their wounds, BJP leaders were saying that committing suicide had become a fashion among farmers! Today they are out on the streets, demanding, among other things, that their own debts be written off, not of the powerful and predatory capitalists. (See the Charter of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee below). This is, in all probability, the sign of a decisive shift, for today the charter relseased by the Coordination Committee declares loud and clear that
Farmers are not just a residue from our past; farmers, agriculture and village India are integral to the future of India and the world.

Continue reading The Kisan Charter – ‘Farmers are not just a residue from our past but integral to the future of India and the world’