The image of the cow conjures up every oriental stereotype about unchanging India, mired in tradition, religious belief, and obsolete agricultural methods. Yet, the cow has emerged as an index for India’s changing political economy and regulatory politics over the last decade. Statistics show that over the last few years, beef consumption in India has risen and is greater than the combined consumption of other meats.
In recent years, whenever India and China have met at the highest level, the issue of water has been prominently put on the negotiating table. Much of the unease has been over a truculent temperamental trans-border river, the Yaluzangbu-Brahmaputra-Jamuna (YBJ) system, which exhausts its full watery course only after having traversed three sovereign nations: China, India, and Bangladesh.
The Ministry of Water Resources recently prepared a cabinet note about creating a permanent tribunal for interstate river water disputes (IWD) resolution in pursuance of a proposal to the effect in the national draft water policy of 2012. As reports go, the government is concerned about long delays in dispute resolution and the tendency of States to approach the Supreme Court for redressal of recurring disputes. Setting up a permanent space for adjudication may be helpful, but certainly not adequate.
We are just weeks beyond the fifteenth anniversary of the 1998 nuclear tests, and less than a year from the fortieth anniversary of India’s 1974 “peaceful nuclear experiment.” India is justly proud of what its nuclear scientists have accomplished. In the face of an international regime to slow their progress, Indian scientists, engineers, and even bureaucrats and politicians collaborated to find a way to build an increasingly diverse nuclear energy infrastructure and the ability to produce nuclear weapons. To overcome these obstacles, India built a closed, close-knit nuclear enclave.
Despite profoundly negative health consequences of indoor air pollution, about half of the households in the world cook using solid biomass fuels. The situation is much worse in India where 83 percent of rural households and nearly 20 percent of urban households still use firewood or animal dung as the primary source of energy for cooking. Burning these unprocessed biomass fuels in traditional open fire burners, or “chulhas,” results in an estimated half a million premature deaths and nearly half a billion illnesses each year.
One of the flagship programs of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has been hailed by leading health economists as one of the “the most ambitious rural health initiative ever.” The stated goals of the NRHM were to “provide effective healthcare to rural population, especially women and children, with special focus on eighteen states – Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, the eight north-east states, and the three hilly states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand – which
2011 was a landmark year for environmental litigation in India, a country with a rich history of environmental movements, grass-roots activism and a responsive higher judiciary. Although litigation on environmental issues has flourished for more than three decades, 2011 is distinctive for the establishment of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). It is not just the fact that it was set up, as earlier on, there was a similar tribunal, albeit a less powerful one.
In 2008, for the first time ever, the urban population of the world outnumbered that of the rural. This visible trend has escalated over the last couple of decades; projections suggest that by the end of the twenty-first century, 80 percent of the world’s population will live in cities (which occupy 0.05 percent of the Earth’s surface).
“Technology magnifies human intent and capacity.” – Dr. Kentaro Toyama
Knowledge of the spatial nature of one’s surroundings is essential for resource use, environmental management, allocation of land rights and diplomatic relations with other communities. Obtaining and recording geographic information is an essential component of community functioning. Processing this information and making robust decisions is critical to the continued existence of a community, whether it is a small nomadic tribe or a nation the size of India.
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom; it was the age of foolishness. While the current dynamics of coal may not match the intrigue and tumult of A Tale of Two Cities, the initial sentiments certainly reflect how things are shaping up in the sector. Recently, newspapers were all abuzz with Coal India’s emergence as the country’s “most valued company” in terms of market capitalization.