News Alerts

January 1, 1970

  The 2009 drought has once again highlighted the need for farming drought hardy crops such as millets and coarse grains instead of water guzzling paddy and wheat in the country’s water deficient areas. Officially, about 70 per cent of India’s cultivable land is un-irrigated and falls in the country’s most backward dry-lands. It is a proven fact that India’s rich diversity of resilient millet crops are the farmer’s best protection against drought, particularly in the less fertile and water-deficient regions.   But our policies are taking us exactly in the opposite direction. For instance, offering cheap wheat and rice -- and not the drought-resistant millets -- to the BPL families under soon-to-be-launched Right to Food Act is pushing farmers to sow paddy at their own peril. There is no move to include the high-nutrition millets in mid day meal scheme either. The government is not even contemplating a ban on summer...

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January 1, 1970

Is the Right to Education Bill a landmark legislation as it is made out to be? The opinion is divided and it is not an exaggeration that the Bill has disappointed India’s educationists and Civil Society activists alike. To say the least, what got passed in Lok Sabha was a huge compromise from the state’s earlier commitment of providing the country’s children easy and equitable access to quality education without discrimination. It provides easy but not equitable, and the bare minimum rather than quality education. The biggest problem is that there is no commitment to quality in the Bill and there is no punishment for those who flout its provisions. It guarantees promotion by removing exams without setting standards for learning. It has ignored an earlier suggestion to benchmark the minimum quality of education to the level of Kendriya Vidyalayas. The other problem is that it has nothing for children...

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January 1, 1970

Government of India is preparing to allot alternative sites to the South Korean mining giant POSCO for its Rs 51000 crore steel plant in Orissa because it fears a major tribal backlash against forced displacement from their lands and livelihoods. The plan is to ‘arrange’ alternative sites for the company without moving it out of the state. It is no secret that the hugely profitable mining industry thrives on corruption and opaque land transfers and is indifferent to the tribals’ main demand -- long-term rehabilitation of the displaced. However, now when the Government is working on a Land Acquisition Bill, there is little effort on the ground to involve the tribals in their own affairs. The situation is not very different in other districts of the mineral-rich tribal region of India where national and international mining lobbies are awaiting transfer of humongous tracts of tribal and forest land. The area...

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