The “habitat” of the Western Ghats is constructed of particular landforms—ridge and valley, peak and plateau, escarpment, and plains. Today, these features are at the heart of the development-environment conflict that has escalated since the 2012 UNESCO designation of the Ghats as a World Heritage Site. The use of this language of landforms can be traced back to colonial texts; but the roots of the image behind it are more difficult to unravel, being embedded in visual articulations of geographic maps and object drawings.
Society & Culture
India needs its roads. Our road network is essential to the free flow of goods and people across the country and connects rural villages to the rest of the nation. India’s roads, together with the railways, make us one. The question that should be asked, however, is how many roads does India need? It is obvious that there is an upper limit to the area that any nation can allocate to its road network. Aside from the fact that building roads is expensive, the opportunity cost must also be considered; the land given over to building a road can now no longer be used for other purposes.
Every year, the Indian government spends considerable resources on public infrastructure programs designed to provide citizens with access to basic amenities such as water, sanitation, electricity, and roads. Although such efforts have the potential to greatly improve the standard of living of ordinary citizens, these programs have been widely criticized for being mired in political influence. But how does political influence actually shape the implementation of public infrastructure programs in India?
The Indian Constitution ensures certain protection for communities deemed as having Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. However, which groups should be accorded that status has been contentious. Getting ST status means that members of the group have access to highly desired tangible benefits such as political representation, reserved seats in schools, and government jobs. Over the years, social and political mobilization has led to the number of STs growing from 225 in 1960 to 700 today (with overlapping communities in more than one state).
It has been nearly one year since India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued its draft drone guidelines. Given the criticality of these regulations in shaping a relatively young industry in India, several industry bodies and start-ups had provided feedback and pushed for timely action. That drones have tremendous practical applications can no longer be disputed. Some of India’s start-ups are revolutionizing drone applications in areas as diverse as disaster management, precision agriculture and crop insurance, mining, infrastructure projects, and land records.
In part one of this two-part series on India’s informal slum leaders, we discussed how some slum residents rise to become leaders of their settlement, and the range of activities in which they are involved. In this issue, we draw on our second survey, conducted in the summer of 2016, of a sample of 629 actual slum leaders across those same settlements. Finding slum leaders, let alone a systematic and large sample of them, is extremely challenging, and to our knowledge, has not been previously attempted in India.
India’s demographic shift to cities has been accompanied by a number of pressing governance and development challenges. Among the most serious of those challenges is the spread of slum settlements—spaces defined by their haphazard construction, material poverty, tenure insecurity, and lack of basic public services. The 2011 Census of India estimates that 65 million people reside in the country’s urban slums. This is a staggering figure, exceeding the entire population of countries like Argentina, South Africa, and Spain.
The last decade has witnessed a steady rise in activism by the urban middle class, as demonstrated by the historic India Against Corruption Movement. It gave rise to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP),arguably India’s first major class-based urban political party. Beyond large cities, the 2014 general election saw the middle classes vote more than the poor for the first time in recent history.
The provision of energy has long been central to India’s development planning. In most cases, this has taken the form of generating and making available the supply of energy in the form of increased coal, gas, nuclear, renewables, etc. The salient elements of current energy plans highlight this trend: through a focus on coal (with a domestic production target of 1.5 billion tonnes by 2020) and a growth in renewables (with aspirations to produce 175 gigawatts of renewable power by 2022).
Girls in India face many challenges. From the moment they are conceived, they are less likely to be born as compared to boys. This presence of “missing girls” appears to be linked to access to ultrasound technology. Moreover, girls also get breastfed for a shorter duration and get fewer childcare investments. Growing up, they are less likely to be educated than boys.