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Preview: write2kill.in - a critique of the times

write2kill.in - Select writings of Subir Ghosh





 



Critically endangered: The state of India's wetlands

Sun, 31 Jan 2016 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Publication: 

There are natural disasters, and there are those that are man-made. The ones usuallly most catastrophic are natural disasters that are compounded and accentuated by man-made factors.

When Mumbai was ravaged by just 900mm of rain over a 24-hour period leading to almost 450 fatal casualties, one might have thought that planners and policymakers would have sat upright and taken note of the ecological degradation in their own backyards: that of the wetlands both within the city limits as well as those on the fringes.

World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar that lies on the shores of the Caspian Sea. 'Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods' is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2016.
Photographs
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Caption: 
Chilika Lake. World Wetlands Day marks the date of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands, called the Ramsar Convention, on February 2, 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar that lies on the shores of the Caspian Sea. 'Wetlands for our Future: Sustainable Livelihoods' is the theme for World Wetlands Day in 2016.
Credit: 
Wikimedia Commons

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Terrain of complex issues

Wed, 27 Jan 2016 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Intro: 
Modi's campaign speech in Assam displayed ignorance about ground realities.
Publication: 
DNA
Column: 

Politicians from mainland India, bogged down by their own mainstream and patronising narrative of what development or nationalism ought to mean, hardly ever get the ground situation right as far as the Northeast is concerned. All the more so with Assam, an anthropologist’s dream-come-true and a demagogue’s proverbial nightmare.

This was amply evident from the cavalier way in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off the election campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Kokrajhar on Tuesday. What he said at the rally spoke a lot about his lack of understanding of the ethnic equations in the state, and what he didn’t say in turn screamed considerably about the shape of things to come. And add to this the backdrop by the strikes that greeted him, and the bandhs that followed.

Photographs
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Caption: 
Modi's campaign speech in Assam displayed ignorance about ground realities.

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Ambani brothers may now control telecom space, and more

Mon, 28 Dec 2015 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Intro: 
Taken together, R-Com and R-Jio would become a formidable combine.
Publication: 

The pomp and glitz surrounding the launch of Reliance Jio's 4G services on Monday was all-pervading. It would have one believe that the company, part of the Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) conglomerate, had done something revolutionary. But then, it hadn't. Neither had it introduced a new technology, and nor launched an innovation. It had only annnounced the rollout of its 4G telecom services, something that rival Bharti Airtel had done way back in February 2014.

Photographs
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Caption: 
Don’t fall for R-Jio’s media blitzkrieg, Ambani brothers may now control entire telecom space. Taken together, R-Com and R-Jio would become a formidable combine.

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The Jio launch was all about Mukesh Ambani. Here's why

Sun, 27 Dec 2015 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Intro: 
For the businessman tycoon, telecom services are a way to fulfill a dream he inherited from his father.
Publication: 

The media blitz surrounding Reliance Jio's launch of 4G services (albeit for its employees, as of now) has been as overwhelming as the launch event itself had been a spectacle. But the real story is hardly about the rollout of a broadband service as it is about being a personal milestone for Mukesh Ambani, the chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL). For more than ten years Ambani had been biding his time—to get into the telecom space.

When the undivided RIL had launched Reliance Infocomm in December 2002, it had been Mukesh's baby all the way, with neither sibling Anil nor any of the latter's representatives on the company’s board of directors. Infocomm’s parent company was Reliance Communications Infrastructure Limited (RCIL), which held a majority stake. Mukesh and Nita indirectly owned 50.5 per cent of the company through nine holding firms, and 45 per cent were held by RIL.

Photographs
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Caption: 
The media blitz surrounding Reliance Jio's launch on Sunday of 4G services (albeit for its employees, as of now) has been as overwhelming as the launch event itself. The press was filled with reports of the event, which featured actor Shah Rukh Khan. Twitter was filled with message from other Bollywood celebrities expressing their support for the new telecom service.

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A flood of corruption

Fri, 04 Dec 2015 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Publication: 
DNA
Column: 

The advantage with hindsight is that even the proverbial fool, after the event, gets the chance of a lifetime to become wise. No, the event one is alluding to here is not the Chennai cataclysm, but the one that had ravaged Mumbai ten monsoons back. There had been a lesson in urban planning for all and sundry there; for coastal city Chennai, especially so. The Mumbai floods had been as much about unbridled concretisation and unabated corruption, as it had been about frenetic altering of land usage patterns and mindless disintegration of wetlands and rivers. Volumes were written, and innumerable studies done. The causes were underlined, and the solutions outlined.

Photographs
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An obsessive psyche that dictates policies when it comes to urban planning is at the root of urban disasters.

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The artful dodger

Thu, 19 Nov 2015 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Publication: 
DNA
Column: 

The heat and dust generated by the hateful and acrimonious exchanges over the Karnataka government's decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan will settle down sooner or later. As in all other debates, there are merits and demerits in the arguments being put forward by both proponents and detractors; but what has been missing from most contentions is the role of the man central to the conflagration – the state's chief minister, S Siddaramaiah.

Before one delves into the political compulsions that made Siddaramaiah take such a decision, it is worth recollecting something that Canadian essayist Stephen Leacock penned almost 100 years ago while trying to point out fallacies intrinsic to many English proverbs. Among other sayings, he wrote about the one that talks of people who live in glass houses ought not to throw stones.

Photographs
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Siddaramaiah has not only been unable to tackle Hindu rightwingers politically, he has also been come a cropper in addressing the issues plaguing Bangalore's huge hinterland.

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Let's throw a BRIC at the US

Sun, 11 Oct 2015 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Publication: 
DNA
Column: 

In the first week of October, what was hitherto only looming large over the trade horizon became a disturbing reality. Twelve countries announced the inking of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) after years of clandestine negotiations. Though the partnership has not yet been ratified by lawmakers from the member countries of the Pacific Rim that constitute the bloc, it is likely to cause a flutter in global trade equations. And affect India’s already-declining exports, too. Whether that would be substantial or marginal is still being debated since details of the treaty have not been revealed yet.

There are two issues that emerge as an upshot – that of India’s trade prospects, and that of TPP being a major step in the United States (US) propping up alternatives to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Photographs
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There are two issues that emerge as an upshot – that of India’s trade prospects, and that of TPP being a major step in the United States (US) propping up alternatives to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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As you lake it: The case of disappearing lakes of Bangalore

Wed, 30 Sep 2015 22:25:00 +0000

Intro
Publication: 

Early this summer, a couple of incidents threw the issue of Bangalore’s lakes back into the limelight. Not that they ever deserved to fade away from the headlines, but a couple of bizarre happenings at two lakes, and an order from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) over unauthorised constructions has since ensured that the issue does not disappear all over again, as many lakes themselves have.

Buried and gone
Close to 50 major lakes have lost their character due to developmental activities, some of them being:
  1. Akkithimannahalli Lake: Converted into a hockey stadium
  2. Dharmambudi lake: Converted into the Kempegowda Bus Terminus
  3. Hennur Lake: Converted into HBR Layout
  4. Jakarayana Kere: Krishna Floor Mills
  5. Koramangala lake: Land used for National Dairy Research Institute
  6. Sampige lake: Land used for Kanteerava stadium
Photographs
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If Bellandur (above) and Varthur lakes resembled overflowing washing machines, those shouldn’t have come as surprises: such environmental disasters were always on the cards. The consequences of polluting and choking Varthur lake had long been laid threadbare and predicted by a number of research studies.
Credit: 
Wikimedia Commons

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Reliance figures at bottom on climate action, deemed 'obstructionist'

Mon, 28 Sep 2015 05:46:00 +0000

Intro

On Wednesday last, many news establishments diligently reproduced a press release announcing Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) as the first Indian company to partner with the Global Goals Campaign that aims to reach seven billion people in seven days with news of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. Among other things, this campaign seeks to tackle climate change for everyone by 2030.

What went unnoticed, however, was that this news came just a few days after RIL figured miserably in the findings of a study that looked at how the 100 largest global industrial companies are dealing with climate change issues. Not only did RIL figure in the bottom rung, its scores indicated that the group has an “obstructionist behaviour” towards climate change legislations. The three other organisations figuring in the bottom F group were Duke Energy, Phillips 86 and Koch Industries.

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This news about RIL’s ranking went virtually unreported despite the fact that it was the only Indian corporate group to figure in the rankings. Moreover, its transparency and performance indicators on climate change issues showed an apparently obstructionist behaviour.

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Ivory trade will not end till China and US make it illegal

Mon, 31 Aug 2015 18:30:00 +0000

Intro
Publication: 

In mid-2015, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) carried out a well-publicised event in New York city’s Times Square. It crushed seized ivory items weighing one ton (equivalent to 2000lbs or 907kg), as crowds cheered on and photographs with the hashtag #CrushIvory flooded Twitter. Then came the post-event rhetoric about how “we’re not just crushing ivory; we’re crushing the blood ivory market.”

It would seem illegal ivory trade had already come to a grinding halt.

The New York event followed a similar episode in China where 662kg of confiscated ivory items were destroyed. The Beijing event of May 29 too was well-publicised, with China’s State Forestry Administration (SFA) pulverising the goods in the presence of foreign diplomats, including US officials. The US, as if on cue, extolled “China’s ongoing strong commitment to ending wildlife trafficking, a global challenge with conservation, economic, health and security dimensions that affects all nations.”

Photographs
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Caption: 
Confiscated ivory items being destroyed by authorities in China.
Credit: 
UNEP

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