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Sunita Narain's picture
15 March 2007
Sunita Narain

Call it is one of the unknown Indian ironies. Over many years, the Indian state, through its public irrigation agencies, has systematically taken over the management of surface water systems. It has taken over the job of building irrigation systems—dams, reservoirs and canals—then maintaining these and supplying water. This has meant that over the years it has taken over water resources from the hands of village communities. The irony is that even as the state has vested this power in itself, people have taken water under their control.

Sunita Narain's picture
28 February 2007
Sunita Narain

Now that the jury is out on the very real threat of climate change, we must focus on what needs to be done. The recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (ipcc) should make climate-sceptics like us president George Bush blush.

Sunita Narain's picture
15 February 2007
Sunita Narain

Every society must understand how the excreta it produces is managed. It teaches us many things about water, about waste, about technologies to clean, economics and politics: of who is subsidised to defecate in our societies. But, most importantly, it teaches us humility. We know so little about our own world. If we knew better, we would understand why we are failing to ensure our present and why we will all need to do things differently, if we want to safeguard our future.

Sunita Narain's picture
31 January 2007
Sunita Narain

RECENTLY, the Rajasthan High Court, concerned about lesser tigers in the Ranthambore tiger reserve, directed that all vehicles should be denied entry into the park. The response was immediate and furious. Conservationists, tiger lovers and tourist operators combined to argue that the ban would destroy the hotel industry and hit livelihoods of tourist operators. Angry scenes of foreign tourists denied sight of the tiger flashed on national media.

Sunita Narain's picture
15 January 2007
Sunita Narain

The year 2006 will go down as environment’s watershed year. This is not because this year we have had extraordinary success in environmental management; there was also no environmental disaster per se. This year must be remembered because the task of environmental management has come to be even more contested and even more challenged. Protests against environmental degradation have grown. But so have efforts to deny environmental concerns or to dilute regulations.

Sunita Narain's picture
31 December 2006
Sunita Narain

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (siam) says India produced over 10 million vehicles in 2006. The number of cars was more than one million. As the manufacture and sale of vehicles are important parameters of the national economy, this millionth-vehicle yardstick says the economy’s fundamentals are buoyant.

Sunita Narain's picture
15 December 2006
Sunita Narain

IN this past month, farmer associations in Haryana and Tamil Nadu have located and burnt field trials for genetically modified Bt rice. In Chhattisgarh the state government has stopped similar trials happening under its nose. It is all too easy to deride these actions as the handiwork of some misinformed eco-fundamentalists or miscreants out to seek ‘cheap’ publicity. It can also be argued that these actions will impede scientific progress designed to find answers to malnutrition and food insecurity in the country.

Sunita Narain's picture
30 November 2006
Sunita Narain

Last fortnight I wrote about making space for emissions. Let’s discuss how this can be done. Let’s discuss this with governments meeting, possibly for the millionth time, to discuss the global agreement to combat climate change. Let’s discuss this when we know with some greater certainty that global warming is beginning to adversely change our world. And we know that in spite of all the years of intense negotiations, governments have done too little to avert the reality of climate change.

Sunita Narain's picture
15 November 2006
Sunita Narain

What does the ubiquitous auto-rickshaw and the plush aeroplane have in common, other than getting us from one place to another? The auto-rickshaw, as India’s largest manufacturer Rahul Bajaj will tell you, is the symbol of democratic mobility — it provides transport for large numbers of people at what he says is affordable costs. But these vehicles are technology poor, and extremely polluting.

Sunita Narain's picture
31 October 2006
Sunita Narain

At a media-studded book release function, a leading editor was recounting a recent incident. He was travelling with a top Uttar Pradesh politician (who we will not name but call Mr A) in his brand new plane. The politician told him that the plane was a gift from a leading industrialist (who we will not name but call Mr AA). The editor was then told that the return gift by the politician was not meagre: it was 1,000 hectares (ha) of prime agricultural land for a new special economic zone (sez). Hearing this tale, we in the audience smiled wisely.

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