Interviews

Sunita Narain, environmentalist, interviewed by Bindu Shajan Perappadan (The Hindu)Sunita Narain, environmentalist, interviewed by Bindu Shajan Perappadan (The Hindu)

-The Hindu If we oppose every solution to the problem of air pollution, how will we ever breathe clean air, asks the environmentalist Environmentalist Sunita Narain has been fighting for clean air for decades. The Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, with which she has been associated and now serves as director general, led the shift to compressed natural gas in Delhi, to reduce air pollution. Ms. Narain is on the statutory body set up under the Environment Protection Act as well as the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), a Supreme Court-appointed panel to monitor pollution in the Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). Excerpts from an interview on the magnitude of the problem and the way forward: * Every breath we are inhaling at the moment is toxic. How have we reached this point? Nobody is really serious about pollution is all I can say. It’s not sudden. In fact, pollution last year...

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Jean Dreze, development economist, interviewed by Ankita Virmani (Firstpost.com)Jean Dreze, development economist, interviewed by Ankita Virmani (Firstpost.com)

-Firstpost.com Development economist Jean Dreze has been vociferous critic of the Narendra Modi government's demonetisation of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes a year back. He had famously warned that "demonetisation in a booming economy is like shooting at the tyres of a racing car". A year on, it seems his caution has come true. In the first quarter of the current financial year, the GDP growth slowed to a three-year low of 5.7 percent due to twin effect of goods services tax and note ban. On the eve of the anniversary of the most disruptive step taken by the National Democratic Alliance government, Firstpost did an email interview with Dreze. Here are the excerpts: * It’s been a year since demonetisation. Do you see it as a success or as a failure? I think that it is best to be frank about demonetisation and admit that it was a goof-up. The objectives outlined...

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Jean Dreze, development economist, interviewed by Santwana Bhattacharya (The New Indian Express)Jean Dreze, development economist, interviewed by Santwana Bhattacharya (The New Indian Express)

-The New Indian Express NEW DELHI: Amid controversial reports of hunger deaths in Jharkhand due to PDS beneficiaries being turned away, economist Jean Dreze says that even official records show that a significant proportion of people are being deprived of food rations every month. In an interview with New Sunday Express, the prime mover behind the NREGA welfare scheme said “this does not mean that Aadhaar is solely responsible for the failures of the PDS, but the point is that compulsory biometric authentication is making things worse.” Critical of “over-enthusiasm for sophisticated technology” and adoption of “inappropriate technologies,” Dreze said excess centralisation is affecting welfare programmes such as the PDS, NREGA and Integrated Child Development Services. “There is no reason for these programmes to be held hostage to sweeping instructions from New Delhi. The worst situation is where the central government controls social programmes but has no serious commitment to them. That is the...

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Harprit Kaur, head of the Psychology Department in Punjabi University, interviewed by Meenakshi Sushma (Down to Earth)Harprit Kaur, head of the Psychology Department in Punjabi University, interviewed by Meenakshi Sushma (Down to Earth)

-Down to Earth A new study is focusing on identifying vulnerable farmers in Punjab, Maharashtra and Telangana, the three states that experience high rate of suicide In India, farmer suicide is an issue that has been talked about widely. The cases of farmers’ suicide rose by 42 per cent between 2014 and 2015. In 2015, one farmer committed suicide every hour. The latest report of the National Crime Bureau (NCB) shows that around 6,867 farmers committed suicides in 2016. Meenakshi Sushma speaks to Harprit Kaur, head of the Psychology Department in Punjabi University, about a research project initiated by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to address farmer suicides. * What is the goal of the study? Our focus is on the psychological reasons behind farmer suicides. The main goal of the project is to empower farmers. For this study, Punjab Agricultural University has teamed up with Professor Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, Hyderabad and Vasantrao Naik...

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Shyam Khadka, India's representative at the FAO of the United Nations, interviewed by Sayantan Bera (Livemint.com)Shyam Khadka, India's representative at the FAO of the United Nations, interviewed by Sayantan Bera (Livemint.com)

-Livemint.com In India, 9 million people left farming between 2001 and 2011 largely due to distress, not because industry invited them, says Shyam Khadka, India’s representative at the FAO Shyam Khadka, India’s representative at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, says more Indians are moving out of agriculture due to distress and not because the manufacturing sector is inviting them. In an interview, Khadka calls for converting food security into nutritional security. Edited excerpts: * Despite consecutive years of normal monsoon, farmers are protesting. How do you see the distress situation in Indian agriculture? On the price front, there are certain crops where Indian farmers have a reason to say that they are not fully compensated for their effort. But if one looks at the comparative prices globally, Indian agricultural produce prices are not very low, especially for grains. FAO studies show that during the next decade, agriculture commodity prices...

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