Lack of clarity over legal requirements, shoddy implementation and selective approvals have made it extremely difficult for poorer communities to build or maintain their houses in coastal zones. Vinod Patgar describes the situation based on his experience in Karnataka.
As environmental clearance on the proposed Tadri port in Karnataka is awaited, Dina Rasquinha and Aarthi Sridhar discuss how assumed future benefits of the port have been projected in complete disregard of the natural, environmental gifts that the region enjoys.
A citizen’s probe unearths a racket in which toxic burnt waste is sold to farmers in the garb of vermicompost; what’s more, the packaging indicates involvement of a composting firm under the government. Shree D N and Akshatha M report from Bengaluru.
Recent incidents, where sex workers were detained by the police and subsequently forced into a state shelter for beggars, are symptomatic of the continuous harassment faced by them and a basic lack of understanding of their realities. Pushpa Achanta elaborates.
The Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act Amendment Committee suggested reforms in the 1993 legislation to realise the ideal of decentralisation in letter and spirit. Nandana Reddy, a core member of the committee, holds the state accountable for the manner in which it has dealt with the report and proposed amendments.
The Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001, based on the European seed patenting model, is increasingly proving to be more of a burden on small farmers. Shalini Bhutani explains why.
Legal and procedural lapses as well as disregard of critical public submissions are tarnishing the EIA of the proposed Tadadi Port in Karnataka. Kanchi Kohli reports.
As has been the historical trend, most of the budget announcements on agriculture this year, too, are geared towards benefitting agribusiness rather than augmenting farm income, writes Devinder Sharma.
As Gram Panchayats in Karnataka go to the polls this year, Madhavi Rajadhyaksha explores the untapped potential of these grassroots institutions and suggests ways in which their capabilities may be leveraged and capacity strengthened.
The thrust on chemical-free cultivation of vegetables that started as an experiment in the 90s has now evolved into a culture in Kerala’s Kanjikkuzhi Gram Panchayat. P N Venugopal traces the growth and success of this initiative so far.
The struggle to feed themselves and their families round the year drives millions of farmers in India to desperate measures. Abhijit Mohanty’s story shows how sustainable agriculture has helped transform the lives of farmers in Odisha’s backward Kalahandi district.
The Karnataka government’s attempts to reintegrate Naxals into the mainstream through the provision of a surrender and rehabilitation package have met with limited success. Akshatha M reports on the ground realities.
In 25 villages across Rayagada district of Odisha, tribal village women have reclaimed the denuded commons and achieved a remarkable turnaround in food security and livelihoods through eco-friendly alternatives to shifting cultivation. Abhijit Mohanty highlights a few successes of the project.
Across 20 villages of Bankura and Birbhum districts in West Bengal, 800 families are learning to farm dry land anew in a sustainable manner, resulting in increased income, better health and nutritional outcomes, and food security. Ajitha Menon reports from Bankura.
The erstwhile UPA government’s Food Security Act, now set to be implemented by the present government, could mean unendurable strain for the country’s public distribution framework. P V Rajeev spells out better alternatives to explore.
For over two decades now, agriculture has suffered overall neglect as successive governments, led by World-Bank prescribed growth models, have issued disproportionate doles to industry. While the present allocations do not spell much hope, Devinder Sharma suggests what the Modi government may still do to reverse the trend.
Overcoming our ignorance of the richness of traditional food options, and imbibing the culinary cultures of those who live in harmony with nature could signify a giant step towards food and nutritional security, says Devinder Sharma after his visit to a tribal food fest.
At the 101st Indian Science Congress in Jammu, the Prime Minister reaffirmed his faith in the potential of biotechnology for agricultural development. Devinder Sharma discusses findings that raise questions about the basis of his conviction.
Italian farmer group Coldiretti is ushering in a new paradigm in farming, and has emerged as a powerful lobby for the interests of the small
reports on the campaign and wonders if Indian agriculture can emulate the same.
The Nanagu Shaale programme of a Karnataka-based NGO shows why the national Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan's provision of home-based education for
children with special needs may in practice defeat the ideological objective of inclusion.
Satarupa Sen Bhattacharya
It is certainly not because of mere demand-supply mismatch.
deconstructs the supply chain dynamics and credit linkages in the vegetable markets to show how these, coupled with government impotence, have
led to uncontrolled, spiralling inflation.
Hospital-based Collaborative Child Response Units can go a long way in providing immediate medical attention, minimising secondary trauma, and
ensuring that children abused sexually get adequate social support.
Vinita A Shetty
looks at why these CCRUs are so critical for minor victims.
Despite India's reliance on the agrarian sector, a serious farming and food crisis persists due to lack of government action and policy
indifference. On its 20th anniversary, Gene Campaign releases a Charter of Demands to form the basis of an advocacy programme for bountiful
farming, prosperous farmers and healthy food.
Various independent studies and research reveal close to 20 per cent of students across India suffering from some degree of visual impairment. A new initiative from the Nayonika Eye Care Charitable Trust seeks to correct this through the combined efforts of a wider network.
A performance audit of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in Karnataka reveals delayed payment of wages, sometimes by three months or
more, to nearly five lakh workers under the scheme during the period 2009-12.
looks at the key audit findings and connects the dots.
In July this year, the B Marappa Memorial Trust and the Karnataka Forest Department honoured 14 professionals for their commitment towards
and excellence in forest and wildlife protection.
talks to two of them about their work, motivation and challenges.
Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah presented the maiden budget of the recently elected Congress government on July 12, but does his populist package promise anything beyond mere intent?
A retired physician in small-town Manipal in Karnataka sets an example in kitchen gardening and highlights the many benefits it brings apart from the yield itself.
brings us his remarkable story.
While the government claims that an Aadhaar-linked system for direct transfer of social security benefits and receivables will soon be a reality
across India, a local experiment devised around reimbursement of LPG subsidy in Mysore fails to raise hope.
Karnataka's new chief minister Siddaramaiah is certainly more left-leaning than some of his counterparts in the Congress party at the Centre.
Fielding questions on Kannada TV's Suvarna News, he displays a calm demeanour to round off the tough-man image he has cultivated over the
years. India Together brings you translated excerpts from the interview.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised Bengaluru world class infrastructure on the eve of elections in Karnataka, recently.
exposed the farce in a letter to him.
There are two spheres of politics being played out in India at present. One is patronage, and the second, aspirational. During the just concluded Karnataka assembly elections, both were seen. More and more people are waking up to the aspirational one, writes
Bangalore, once the poster-boy of new age India and its development, is now crumbling, having been sorely let down by the administration and politics of the state. As Karnataka heads for polls,
Subramaniam Vincent, discusses the prospects and necessary preconditions for change with independent MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
The grant of close to 10000 acres of forest land in Chitradurga district for non-forestry purposes threatens the ecology as well as the means of subsistence of local communities, leading irate villagers to decide to boycott the impending State Assembly elections.
In a desperate bid to outdo each other in television rating points, regional news channels are increasingly resorting to celebrity coverage
bordering on tabloid journalism that infringes the right to individual privacy.
B S Nagaraj
comments on the trend.
The proposal to create two industrial corridors around Bangalore has generated heady excitement, but this needs to be tempered with
rationalism and transparency around water and land acquisition, says
B S Nagaraj.
Despite a political decision to drop charges against Kannada TV reporter Naveen Soorinje,
he continues to remain in prison. A PIL filed soon after the decision has put the case in limbo.
Satarupa Sen Bhattacharya
tracks and analyses the developments.
Findings of a unique apolitical initiative that brings farmers from the Cauvery basin together indicate that a fair distress-sharing
formula may not be as elusive as it seems.
How did a journalist who covered the infamous homestay attack for his employer end up in jail with serious charges leveled against him? The Mangalore Police holds the answer, finds
This linkage between agriculture and nutrition, and its impact on development indices is very clear, and a number of recent
reports point the finger of blame at agricultural policies.
Graduates are difficult to influence with money and liquor, says one BJP campaigner flatly about the race for Bengalurus MLC seat. The Lok Satta candidate meanwhile is targeting precisely the reform seekers amongst the elite.
Navya P K
Are the numerous benefit schemes really helping anyone get out of poverty, or are they merely petty politics that victimises
the poor, asks
For its work on child rights and participation in governance, Bangalore-based Concerned for Working children has received the big nomination this year.
Navya P K
Even as Justice Santosh Hegde credibly exposed the Karnataka government for its many scams, senior state politicans and Bangalore's academics worry that nothing will eventually come of it.
reports from an October meeting in the city.
There is no data at the constituency level about how the development indicators have changed over the tenure of the local
elected MLA or MP.
The unseen impact of corruption on the millions of the deserving poor does not seem to affect our collective conscience.
We are losing a great opportunity to show we care, writes
Karnataka's Human Rights Commission's work suffers from many weaknesses - the composition, manner of operations,
and the lack of force of its recommendations to the Government.
The Mayawati government proposes to reduce the distance that farmers must travel to take their produce to market to an average of
seven kms. This should help farming families boost their incomes, writes
It has been known informally for long. But recently, animal nutrition scientists announced that areca leaf sheath fodder can replace paddy straw. This is timely, since paddy straw supply has been declining, notes
Sick soils, declining yields, growing debts and rising malnutrition stalk the Punjab farmer, as the practices of the boom years
catch up with him, writes
A vicious cocktail of weak purchasing power among the hundreds of millions of poor people, and a systems failure in tackling supply
side challenges is driving food prices beyond the reach of many, writes
For the last one year,
Parameshwara Hegde Tumbemane hasnt taken his banana crop to the market. He has instead used it to make sukeli, a delicious dried version and that is getting popular in the Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka.
With two decades of continuous research and wise management, this ex-lecturer in Karnataka's Udupi district has made a barren hillock into a model of rain harvesting.
A tigress recently attacked and killed a man inside the Bandipur Tiger Reserve, Karnataka.
Malini Shankar digs deeper to find answers for the inevitable question.
Revival of millet cultivation in Medak of Andhra shows how a variety of millets can fight hunger even during drought, keep farmers debt-free, and provide the much-needed nutrition without using pesticides, reports
Did you know that Titan Industries, the wristwatch major, does safe disposal of 600,000-700,000 of its old watches each year as part of e-waste management? Darryl D'Monte on a recent UN report that highlighted India's massive e-waste challenges and silver linings.
Notwithstanding these hellholes called shelters, the state government has been going gung-ho about its swift action to resettle the flood victims in North Karnataka. A visit to one such shed revealed the officials heartless rhetoric writes
In operation now for more than two years, Gorus has a network of about 50 committed families as consumers and 25 farmers as suppliers, and growing steadily.
Barely three days after the conclusion of the last of six public hearings, Minister of Environment Jairam Ramesh slapped a moratorium on the release of Bt Brinjal.
summarises key points from the Minister's note.
It takes more to feed the family amidst destroyed houses and ruined hopes. The flood-hit women in North Karnataka are putting up with more than what their menfolk could ever empathise with.
"Trying to measure the success of water harvesting only with increased water level is not fair. The vegetation improves, so does the soil moisture.
reports on an arecanut farming family's success.
Ankola railway station along the rainy Konkan coast is in a heavy rainfall area yet is suffering from water shortages.
reports on half-hearted water harvesting efforts here.
The current situation of impotence that the Government finds itself in should prompt some soul searching about the reliance on market mechanisms to
take care of India's food security, writes
A long history of questionable practices in the mining industry catches up with its practitioners, landing the whole affair in the Supreme Court.
Karnataka's plan to harvest power from the Gundia river that runs through the Hassan and Dakshin Kannada districts has been criticised by environmentalists, farmers and the Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
Post October floods in North Karnataka, Dalits find themselves in a greater predicament. A century of struggle for equal rights and worse, fundamental faith in human progress, is at stake, writes Savita Hiremath.
Sloppy and biased surveys of damaged houses and paltry compensation have made the flood victims in Koppal and Bellary districts run from pillar to post to get what is rightfully theirs, writes
North Karnataka's flood victims feel that it was relatively easier to run away from raging waters than dealing now with a corrupt bureaucracy and eking out a livelihood fraught with imponderables.
It's a classic headline: "Government-funded rainwater harvesting for public schools goes wrong, money wasted". However in one district, the tale is altogether different.
records the positives and the lessons.
The handling of sugar production, sale and external trade by the government shows a complete absence of strategic planning on an
issue that critically affects the aam aadmi.
This is a bill that the Governor of Karnataka sent back to the state government in 2007 saying that it "evidently seems to undermine the Constitutional mechanism for rural development governance.." The same bill may be back in the state assembly soon, warns
Disillusioned by the total lack of responsiveness from mainstream parties to their plight, displaced tribals from Polavaram decide to contents the
assembly elections themselves.
R Uma Maheshwari
The common thread between our external and internal security predicaments is our approach to time. Most security issues are long-standing
and seemingly interminable. If we understood why this is so, we can change it, writes
They are two simple, rural women, living in rural Andhra Pradesh, in an area known for its arid soils, its resultant lack of food and its poverty. And unbelievable as it may seem, the answer to the healthy skins of Chandramma and Narsamma lies in good nutrition.
In the name of good governance, decision-making powers in Karnataka are being given to parastatal organizations and non-elected task forces.
asks for a re-look at outsourcing government.
Earlier, this tank was providing water for 600 trees only. Now 2000 trees are being irrigated from the tank itself for four months.
as another success story, this one from southwestern Karnataka.
Rainwater harvesting need not be limited to household purposes. It can be successfully implemented to solve water problems in commercial establishments too, as demonstrated by an automobile dealer agency in Mangalore.
Frustrated with the hardness of borewell water, H Ramesh and his family are harvesting rain in their Mysore house
for almost all their domestic uses.
Girish Kasaravalli's latest film is a beautiful celluloid essay on the trials and tribulations of a poor Muslim woman, Gulabi, as the world around
her changes in response to apparently unconnected events.
reviews the film.
It was 25 years ago this month when villagers in Karnataka undertook an eight-kilometre-long trek to resist massive tree-felling at the Kalase forests. In today's milieu, the Appiko movement is facing fresh challenges, writes
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10 September 2008 - If your journey along the west coast still remains picturesquely green, thank the chants that had rented the air of this region 25 years ago, and which seemingly echo even today. Chanting the Kannada slogan of Ulisu, Belasu and Balasu, meaning save, grow and sustain, the forest-loving people of Uttara Kannada - the most green district in the country stood up against the tyranny of the state that was clearing the native forests to pave way for monoculture plantations.
The 25-year-long journey
History was created on 8 September 1983 when people from villages around Salkani in Uttara Kanada district undertook an eight-kilometre-long trek to resist massive tree-felling operations underway at the Kalase forests. Hordes of men and women lay seize to the forest over the next three months, hugging the trees and forcing the perpetrators with little option but an unceremonious exit.
Western ghats, a biodiversity hotspot. Pic: From Paradise Lost, a report published by Prakruti, Uttara Kannada, Karnataka.
The news spread fast, catching the imagination of forest dwellers across the state in Kodagu, South Kanara, Chikamaglur and Shimoga districts. Appiko, meaning hug the trees, soon became a potent expression to counter violence against nature, reflecting empathy towards forests. It seems a cosmic force was fuelling indelible energy into each of us, recalls M N Mableshwar of Gubbigadde village in Sirsi.
The villagers of Gubbigadde and Balegadde, who were the first to lodge a formal protest against clear felling, wonder if Appiko could have found a better home than Uttara Kannada. Called the forest district, this region had an impressive 82 per cent of its geographical area under forests in 1950, earning the tropical evergreen forests in the Western Ghats the distinction of being one of the 16 global biodiversity hotspots in the world.
Despite hailing from the forest district himself, then Chief Minister of Karnataka Ramkrishna Hegde took six years to withdraw the timber concessions given to forest based industries and impose a moratorium on felling of green trees in the natural forests. Passed in 1990, the order has been valid till date. But for this order, the region would have long been shaved off its pristine green cover for filling the insatiable desire for industrial development mining, paper industry, hydro power and railways.
Dubious justifications for forest clearance have made a mockery of the order, laments Pandurang Hegde, who not only led the movement but continues to anchor it. Six hydropower projects including a nuclear power plant on the 184-km short stretch of river Kali have already accounted for loss of 21,000 hectares of forests. The irony is that of the 1800 MW power being produced in the district, local consumption doesn't exceed 18 MW.
There are significant milestones that the movement recounts as it begins to prepare itself for the challenges that lie ahead. Given the fact that the global discourse on democracy toes the neo-liberal model of market economy, the future of social movements like Appiko face new challenges. As consumerism casts its influence on young minds, the next generation lacks the empathy to align with social causes.
With a view to convert present challenges into future opportunity and to showcase the significance of the Western Ghats from a wider perspective, it has been decided that the historic day of 8 September will henceforth be observed each year as the Sahyadri Day, so that the chants of Ulisu, Belasu and Balasu continue to echo in the region.
Some good news on conservation
A familiar battle at Tadadi
Building a fresh engagement with the younger generation to sustain countervailing forces and contest the oppressive policies of globalisation is a formidable challenge, admits Hegde. The key word of ecology has been replaced by economy and conservation makes room for consumption. In the present context, environment versus development debate is considered anti-growth both by the state as well as sections of the public. Be it land, water or forests, each natural entity gets viewed through an economic standpoint. Obsession with growth has helped brew widespread apathy towards ecological conservation. Needless to say, times have changed and the challenges have been further compounded since Appiko movement was launched 25 years ago.
Success for Appiko
Appiko may have lost some ground to changing developmental priorities but the ethos of a movement guided by sheer grit and determination still persists. Three years ago, it organised a massive protest against the proposed 4,000 MW Barge Mounted Power Plant at Tadadi. Over 25,000 people protested the setting-up of a plant that could have devastated 1,800 hectares of estuary, created at the point where river Aghanashini empties itself into the Arabian Sea. The livelihoods of local fishermen came in handy in making a case against the proposed project.
The scrapping of the proposed seventh dam on river Kali and the holding back of the proposed rail link cutting across 2,000 hectares of tropical forests between Hubli and Ankola on account of environmental clearance are more examples of the success and continued relevance of Appiko.
Appiko has neither been opposed to growth nor development; it views nature conservation complementary to human growth and survival. While forests can be converted into monetary terms, there is no way the fundamental role of tropical forests in pulling the strong oceanic currents to offload their showers can have a replacement. As the threat of climate change becomes real, there could not be anything more pressing than protecting the monsoon gateway (i.e., Sahyadri) to the country.
With a view to convert present challenges into future opportunity and to showcase the significance of the Western Ghats from a wider perspective, it has been decided that the historic day of 8 September will henceforth be observed each year as the Sahyadri Day, so that the chants of Ulisu, Belasu and Balasu continue to echo in the region. From modulating climate change to maintaining river discharge and from maintaining biodiversity to enriching nutrient regime, preservation of tropical forests can open a new window of opportunity at the global scale to generate unique ecological capital. It is in this context that Appiko is repositioning itself for a major role in the coming years.
10 Sep 2008
Sudhirendar Sharma is a water expert and Director of the Delhi-based Ecological Foundation.
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Father Benjamin D'Souza's rain harvesting measures in four acres of the Tallur Church campus in coastal Karnataka have assured zero runoff for the last half a decade and watered neighbouring wells too. Shree Padre reports.
Over the years, nationalised banks have had to buckle up and polish their looks to serve new generation customers and meet stiff competition from the private sector. But the personal touch, valuable to many customers, has been lost, laments
a former PSU-banker.
With lakhs of the city's long-term residents, traders and others likely to be affected, there is much opposition to Bangalore's
road-widening plans. Protests against tree-felling have acquired a much deeper dimension.
The government school system is not a rationally driven and coherent apparatus of state policy. Instead, its everyday work is continuously and varyingly
reshaped in the light of social, institutional, and policy related inflections, write
A R Vasavi and Rahul Mukhopadhyay.
The policy that reportedly favoured Indian consumers at the cost of farmers has come back to bite the consumers with a vengeance.
And with the US and Europe embracing biofuels, things could get even worse, writes
S Ganesh Mallya, a high school teacher cum Sunday farmer in Yedapadavu in Karnataka, has greened his plot without borewells. Using simple techniques to catch rainwater, he has managed to raise the water level in his open well and grow a bountiful farm.
Konkodi Bhat's simple pipe system at his home in Dakshina Kannada allows the family to use
rainwater for half the year and lets the excess recharge the open well for usage in the remaining months.
His easily replicable technique can successfully reduce groundwater usage in heavy rainfall areas,
reports Shree Padre.
The proposed 1000 MW coal-fired power plant at Chamalapura, Mysore, to be located on agricultural land and within 30 kilometres of the Nagarhole and Bandipur national parks, evoked strong protests last year. Recent announcements indicate that the government is going slow.
A Karnataka Bank branch in Mysore is the setting for a unique tale of investment - in water. The bank's senior manager devised a simple plan to allow accumulated rainwater, which was earlier just pumped out and wasted, to percolate into the earth.
As the heaps of pineappples grow bigger, prices will go down drastically from Rs.5 to Rs.2 and finally to 50 paise per pineapple, says Priyalal Sharma, a Tripura grower, who has also started rubber plantation in some portion of his land.
Ratna Bharali Talukdar
This 58-year-old illiterate farm labourer has developed irrigated farming at a hilltop in the Dakshina Kannada
district of Karnataka. His hard work, vision and never-say-die attitude have turned the land around and he now advises visiting
An initiative at an educational institution near Mangalore ensures that the
institution can do without water tankers during the monsoon months. Rainwater
suffices and what's more, its borewell also gets recharged.
A two-day seminar held recently in Mumbai brought together policy makers, bureaucrats, social workers, farmers, journalists, activists and researchers. Scrutinising farm policy in depth, they said that policy had failed to address some of the main
An inspection of the latest electoral rolls released by Bangalore's municipal body reveals that it's riddled with errors, despite recent door-to-door
reports on suggestions made by a joint initiative of citizens groups to correct the anomalies.
79-year-old Achyutha Bhat brought surangas to Manila village in
district of Karnataka. His passion for the water
caves - which help tap and supply water - and his commitment to
training newcomers in suranga-digging has been a boost
for local farmers, reports
A 3-acre pond dug in the Yenepoya Medical College 15 kms from Mangalore is catching run-off from about 15 acres
of the campus and from an equal area of their neighbourhood. It has already saved the institution a substantial
sum on getting water from outside.
A university professor in Shimoga had the fore-sight to make his home nearly autonomous from various public utilities, and alongside do his
part for the environment. And when his neighbours were slow to learn, he set out to educate them too.
Vidarbha farmers are shifting to soybean and oilseeds as substitute, harangued
by dipping cotton prices, highly volatile markets and withdrawal of government
support. Jaideep Hardikar reports on the trend, the risks
and the other alternatives
for the farmers.
Has bamboo's time arrived? The high cost of inputs going into conventional
construction is beginning to push more people in the direction of
alternatives, and this was topic of a recent seminar at the Indian
Institute of Management, Bangalore.
A far-sighted educational trust is reaping the benefit of digging recharge wells long before the need for them. While its own decision is a lesson in
conservation, the institution is also going further, imbibing ecological concerns into the students too.
With water run-off patterns in his area disturbed by the Forest Department's plantations, more bore wells being sunk, and pumping of
groundwater turning multifold, a Karnataka farmer decided to build his own network for recharging ground water. Surprisingly for him, these
efforts have revived his local stream.
A study of women's lives in the L R Nagar slum of Bangalore shows how women's economic and social independence in the slum may be linked to age, as
well the socio-economic constraints of individual families.
summarises her study.
Smooth relocation of forest dwellers from within to outside tiger reserves requires
effective land records and
land use policies. Citing the messy situation in the Sariska Tiger Reserve, an official says that
even today, there is no reliable estimate of number of people and livestock
living inside the
has more on the challenges.
By building tanks to catch run-off in the higher reaches of the land, a Karnataka farmer reaps the benefit of a higher water table in the lower
areas. In doing so, he remembers that this was the practice for a long time in this area, and he has simply recalled an old tradition.
almost! is a report on the Western Ghats written by
Sudhirendar Sharma. The report follows the trail of destruction in the ghats
and engages with those who have been engaged in the task of reversing the dominant trend. An IN-PICTURES
Charles and Nirmala Sequeira were simply looking for something different to do. Little did they think that, many years later, their decision to start
selling ice cream made from local fruits would catch on with customers, and open a new channel for value addition for local produce.
In the major metros, a range of new vocational courses is helping high school students find jobs in the rapidly industrialising sectors. What about
job-seekers in small towns and rural areas?
reports on two NGO-led training innovations in Tamilnadu and Karnataka.
The village of Hebballi in the Krishna river basin is a striking example of a successful and sustainable piped water supply in rural India.
While challenges still remain, this experience shows that some steps towards equity and sustainability can be taken in many other places too.
The Karnataka state legislature's amendment to the Panchayati
Raj law has already attracted severe criticism from civil
society. The governor had also expressed his objections. There
is now an outpouring of wrath from women panchayat members
around the state as protests intensify.
The latest vocational education courses are presenting job opportunities
for high school graduates that their poor parents lacked. Institutes
conducting bilingual training are particularly helpful for students
who are very likely to have not schooled in English medium.
Two areca farmers of Sirsi in northern Karnataka, Ganapathy Dattatreya Hegde
and his brother-in-law Ananda Subbray Pratakahal have become community
leaders, workhorses and heroes, all in one. They have turned a situation of
water-scarcity and soil-degradation into one of regeneration.
A private high school in Sirsi, in northern Karnataka is not
stopping at imparting academic education. It has also started
teaching practical water literacy to the people of five Malnad districts.
The rain centre at the school, with 28 examples of rain water harvesting, opened in early June.
No matter which way India's seed policies are heading, the underlying purpose of
Malnad's home garden programme as a community conservation initiative for the
preservation of genetic diversity, organic agriculture, health and ecologically
sensitive livelihoods remains undiluted.
reports from northern Karnataka.
In Karnataka, job-training programmes are on offer at a number of institutes, and yet, students unable to make it into college are not lining up in large numbers. Ironically, a manpower crunch exists across industries at the entry level, placing employers in a bind.
Claiming highest quality standards in the world when it comes to its own
agricultural imports, the United States has no qualms in exporting
sub-standard wheat to India. US participation in India's wheat procurement
cannot be at the cost of India softening quarantine standards,
When a teacher specially trained to handle children with special needs
started work at a local government school in Bangalore, children
were benefited and stopped dropping out.
Recent research has shown that computer/digital technologies can
help children with autism (and other disabilities) learn and
communicate better. A computer training workshop for parents and
children was held recently at Bangalore.
Bagalkot district in Karnataka is today emerging as a model for how AIDS awareness can make all the difference in stemming the disease. It is also showing how it is not impossible to create an atmosphere where HIV positive people can continue to live with freedom, dignity and hope.
Ramesh Menon reports.
Despite the high price of imported wheat, the government prefers this option to paying Indian farmers a higher support price for their crops.
says that this amounts to a covert policy of dismantling the procurement and price support mechanisms.
A three day festival of a special tender mango called appe midi held last
month in Shimoga, Karnataka attracted 6000 visitors. The festival showcased
a range of preparations including popular pickles, and gave a filip to the
conservation of this wild mango variety.
27-year-old Ratnamma, a garment factory worker, was forced to deliver a baby on
the streets of Bangalore. 20-year-old Gayathri was run over by the bus belonging to
the Bangalore garment factory where she worked. Garment workers in Bangalore are
caught in an exploitative web, reports
For decades, Karnataka has been haunted by the devadasi tradition where girls were 'dedicated' to
goddess Yellama and then turned into sex-workers. Today, determined groups of devadasis of Bagalkot district
are bravely stopping the practice, stemming the growth of AIDS and gaining a new respect in society.
A hurriedly passed amendment to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act last week gives MLAs unwarranted
powers over panchayats, which are themselves a separate tier of local goverment.
Nandana Reddy and Damodar Acharya
say the amendment is contrary to the spirit of decentralisation and the Constitution.
The devotees of historical Veera Narayana Temple at Gadag now have an important lesson to take
home along with their theerth and prasad. That if they harvest rainwater falling on their land
into the mother earth's womb, they won't have to suffer in the summer.
Using a deviously devised method, Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh
is claiming that 75 per cent of Vidarbha farmer suicides are not due to
indebtedness at all. Meanwhile, the toll has crossed 250 this year and is rising.
The West Bengal government remains under a cloud due to violence over its industrialisation
plans, but in other areas, its procurement and off-farm processing support for farmers has helped
them far more than Maharashtra's approach to its own farmers.
visited Burdman district.
There is much that the nation's farmers need to hear in the Green Foundation's message, and avoid past mistakes. But there is also a positive
message, reminding farmers that "traditional farming will help you gain control of your finances and your food
Efforts to make learning more interactive and more fun for students appear promising, but it may be too soon to judge if they are positively impacting
children's performance in standard tests and surveys. Meanwhile, teachers complain that these efforts have added to their already heavy burden.
What is the price of water to the supplier? What are people being charged out there? Where are our institutions headed in the balance between
equity-accessibility and cost recovery?
looks at the example of Bangalore, and finds much room and need for improvement in water pricing.
This year, 160 farmers in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district committed 480 acres
for organic production. Two complete cycles of procurement, processing, and
marketing of organic produce in a number of cities have already been completed.
says Timbaktu Organic is expanding.
Setting himself a target of a thousand trees each year, Dr Mahantesh Tapashetti has greened his neighbourhood and surrounding areas in Hubli by
himself. Many residents appreciate his work, and the Forest Department has been happy to support him, supplying trees for his care and planting them
School authorities say, and records show, that while enrolment has not been substantially improved as a result of mid-day meal programmes, school
attendance has certainly gone up by 10-12%. However, there is still plenty of room for improvement in the management of the scheme.
The Belgaum City Corporation has in the last one decade has revived 16 big and 21 small dug-wells.
Today, 2 million gallons (16 per cent) of Belgaum's water supply comes from these local wells alone,
leading to precious cost savings that have paid back the revival expenditure long ago.
In a few weeks, Karnataka will once again seek public input in setting electricity tariffs. While the era of state electricity boards has
ended, public participation is important to counter pressures from the government, utility companies, and the commercial private
sector on regulators, write
Lina Krishnan, Gautam Menon and M V Ramana.
With a properly metered water bill, consumers have a much better chance of being heard than
otherwise. Yes, there are justified concerns about rights and equity when we talk of water, but metering is not anti-poor. In fact, used well, it
can address their demands powerfully, says
In what appears to be a desperate move to prop up agriculture growth, Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh has called for reversing the declining trend in investment in
agriculture. But his approach may also end up compounding the already existing crisis, writes
The proposed Hubli-Ankola railway line in Karnataka originally stirred up criticism because if built, it would pass through the ecologically fragile Western Ghats forests. Matters recently came to a head when evidence emerged of the Railways proceeding to construct a part of the line without forest clearance.
It's 'ready to serve' and like a soft drink bottle or tetra pack, you can take it
inside any office, drink and then dispose. Sold with the brand name Tender Fresh,
1500 2000 tender coconuts every day are reaching a clientele that reads like the
who's who of Bangalore's software companies.
The Karnataka Governor, T N Chaturvedi, recently asked the state government for an explanation on why the state wants the central government to clear the Dandeli dam on the river Kali. This, in light of the fact that state government departments had themselves recommended and shelved the project earlier. An
At the core of the agriculture crisis in Vidarbha are the disparities
between the western and eastern regions that the state's policies have
fostered over five decades. Starved of the funds that western region has
for long received, it now hardly matters whether Vidarbha gains the status
of statehood, notes
The scientific establishment remains highly sceptical about organic methods. But Dr Tarak Kate and his
colleagues at a Wardha-based NGO
have collected data systematically, to negate the charge that this alternative is unscientific and unproven.
Can transgenic cotton ever be a livelihood security measure for the majority of India's small-holder farmers?
is circumspect. She says that the Bt cotton story in India is one of confusion. Bt appears more to favour 'rich' farmers, who have access to water, better resources, and alternative support.
Rescue operations carried out with tactful involvement of media and the police can offer victims protection
from further trauma, and also begin to sensitise a number of people on the complex issues involved.
reports on the experiences and learning of Odanadi Seva Samsthe.
Five and a half years ago, a visit to nine Karnataka farmers
who were trialing Bt cotton showed regulatory breakdown.
Six years on, despite fresh criticism by NGOs, scientists and the media,
India's regulatory practice with transgenic crops appears to have
offered a repeat performance of its 2000 conduct, says
There seems to be a steady increase in the acceptance of Bt cotton by Karnataka
farmers. And, after experiencing the disastrous consequences of spurious seeds, farmers
are particular about buying only from authorised sources. But disturbing
and worrisome trends remain, reports
Disregard for local sentiment is now the norm in most large projects. At Tadadi, which has faced a long line of threats
of displacement, the latest struggle is against a proposed 4000 MW coal-fired plant. With Coastal Zone regulators not very
attentive to the violations of law, the villagers can rely only on themselves.
Seven months after last year's disastrous flooding finally ended, residents in low-lying areas southeast of Bangalore
are anxious what this year's monsoon rains will bring. With city authorities yet to tackle the infrastructure problems
of the area, many can do little more than hope.
Through registration and certification, the draft law seeks to promote quality seeds. But it's unclear
if farmers can meet the standards set for commercial seeds. Controversially, the Bill also permits
inspectors to carry out search and seize operations without warrants.
M R Madhavan and Kaushiki Sanyal
present a legislative brief.
What is behind the suicides in Vidarbha? Is it drought or
lack of irrigation, like some are saying? Why have over 550
farmers ended their lives in the last season? Many factors
-- local and global -- have together pushed farmers to the
brink here, notes Jaideep Hardikar
, but says that lopsided global cotton trade is
Two farmers from Chamarajanagar, Karnataka, took the state
government to court for not giving them water for the past
three-four years. The twist is that they approached a district consumer
court, and won the case in less than a year.
Growing corporate interests and influences in the country's farm sector are beginning to underplay the significance of
cooperatives, despite failed pilot programs. Moreover, farmer-owned-firms continue to be successful in the developed
nations, and this evidence too is being ignored, writes
The government's stance towards biotechnology shows such disregard for the public interest that even its
own Expert Committee is not privy to the proposed new policy.
protests the reckless endorsement of vested interests while many other stakeholders are kept in the dark.
In a twist to the usual practice of digging deep bore wells in search of water, Mohammad decided to try scouring
for water horizontally. His success at this unusual method has earned him the nickname 'adda-bore', and many satisfied
The Greater Bangalore Water Supply and Sanitation Project aims to supply
piped water to 8 townships on the outskirts of Bangalore, boldly
proposing to unhook citizens there from reliance on tubewells, borewells
and water tankers. Yet, the only certainty in the much debated project is
that the waters are murky, muddy and unclear.
Neither the protections of law nor interventions by the Supreme Court have ensured adequate minimum wages
for the jobs performed by tens of millions of unorganised workers.
reports on a recent survey by a Bangalore-based group showing how far below fair standards these workers have been pushed.
The area around the Nagavalli tank in Tumkur, Karnataka has been reeling under water scarcity for the
past several years, with extensive sinking of bore wells not helping. But Jaya farm, owned by
75 year-old Jayanna and run by his middle-aged son Kumara Swamy, has become a ray of hope and self-help.
The line between cultural assertion and chauvinism is a very thin one. The demand for renaming
Bangalore, part of the unfinished business of linguistic nationalism, is legitimate, and should be honoured.
However, Kannada pride should not lead to Kannada chauvinism, writes
Should Bangalore and its surrounding municipalities be merged into a single jurisdiction, as the state's politicians
are now proposing to do? The Constitutional standard as well as Bangalore's abysmal record of administering even the
core metropolis both argue against centralisation.
The India Together editorial.
All the steel and glass towers of the glitzy facade of Bangalore cannot hide its seamy underbelly where
life is pieced together under plastic tents, with fear and want as constant companions. The Bangalore
Social Forum that came into existence on Independence Day believes that another Bangalore is possible,"
Despite abundant evidence that the PDS has failed to ward off starvation, the Centre proposes
a new plan that shows none of the wisdom of this experience.
reports on an alternative grounded in local production, storage and distribution, which does a much better job of
On 31 December 2005, the curtains are set to come down on the Kudremukh Iron Ore Company Ltd's
long disputed mining operations in the protected Kudremukh National Park. But ensuring an end to
mining in one of the most stunning landscapes of the country has not been easy.
provides a telling narrative.
For a number of reasons including frustration
with chemical agriculture,
improved economic prospects and concern for nature, some farmers in Punjab
are growing organic.
travelled around parts of the state to meet a number of farmers and
dealers of organic products last month.
Much of the agrarian crisis is the result of unwanted and cost-intensive technologies that have been
forced on the farmers. Scientists were unknowingly trying to promote the commercial interests of
the seed, tractor and the pesticides industry. And we don't need to repeat this error, says
Talk of the city's future is a lament over failing infrastructure, encroachments, and neglected
millions. Civic-minded citizens are critical of the latest Comprehensive Development Plan, and point to its
legal flaws, mismanaged process for citizen inputs, and misplaced priorities.
Five years ago, the United Nations set a goal to drastically reduce hunger and poverty in the
world by 2015. This September, the UN met at New York with over 850 million people going
hungry everyday. To target hunger, an international consultation in April at Chennai had
recommended a new approach to the UN, reports Ramesh Menon.
Rainwater harvesting isn't just for drought-prone regions, nor is it an entirely recent development.
travels to an old church in Dakshina Kannada district, where despite living in one of the rainiest places in the nation,
monks put up a roof water harvester many decades ago, and maintain it to this day.
It may take more than random coverage of dramatic developments on the civic front for the media
fulfil its promise of connecting citizens and governments. Mere reports based entirely on press
statements and conferences in which plans are presented with little questioning
won't do, writes
Three generations of a farming family in Bagalkot district in Karnataka campaigned to drought-proof the fields
and to conserve the soil and water.
Their inspiration was a 170-year old book that until recently remained only in manuscript form.
reports on the enviable results.
A Karnataka district that has been reeling under three successive years of
drought may be bouncing back. The state government's top bureaucrat in Bagalkote
district led civil society groups in a water harvesting campaign between 16-27 June, just as
the monsoon rains had begun.
Residents of seven villages in Kolar district depend on water from the Mudiyanur tank which
is not in good shape and in need of de-silting. Still, the villagers' worship of goddess
Chowdeswari has helped them preserve an age-old tradition of water allocation, finds
A citizens forum at Bangalore has been spearheading interventions using the Karnataka Right to Information Act
for the past year. The Katte members' focus has helped expose the law's weaknesses and make recommendations to better the recently passed Central Right to Information Bill.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India is the nation's supreme audit
institution. It is widely respected for its unshaken independence in
auditing government expenditure. But in its scrutiny of Karnataka's Gerusoppa dam,
it let off the Karnataka Power Corporation on two key counts.
interprets the CAG's 2004 report.
Water table reports in Karnataka show that the future looks bleak. While rainwater harvesting (RWH) is looked upon as a viable solution and has become a buzzword, the state has only taken an incremental implementation path, with urban areas currently leading rural areas, reports
Since 1980, organic tea consumption has grown by leaps
and bounds. India too has joined this new green revolution with many farmers already growing organic tea or converting their plantations to do so. However many barriers have to be overcome before this sector realises its full potential.
K V Prayukth
Large numbers of farmers have opted for a way of cultivation that does away with chemical
pesticides, and most importantly, uses less water in a water-starved state. The dramatic
results are nowhere more visible than in Rajasthan's Shekhawati belt, reports
The potential of rainwater harvesting has been much talked about in recent times. But
that an ordinary plastic water storage drum connected to the roof through a pipe will
turn this potential to reality is surprising many citizens in the Bangalore-Mysore region,
Illegal felling, mining, and conversion of forest land into non-forest uses, have all been unchecked here. Repeated
hearings in the Supreme Court were ignored by forest
reports that the case presents both new opportunities for holistic conservation as well as risk of the Court's orders
being flouted brazenly.
At a conference on the eve of the 2005-06 Budget, Planning Commission vice chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said
he is advocating redistribution of farm subsidies into road construction and improving
warns that Ahluwalia continues to bank upon the World Bank's flawed understanding.
Last year saw Maharashtra go to the polls and the incumbent government offer freebies to farmers.
But cotton growers in Vidarbha saw their problems only worsen as they entered 2005. None of the political
parties seem interested in a real way out, finds
There is no overlap between the administrative jurisdictions of various city agencies, or congruence with political boundaries. The
result: the citizen is confused, the local politician is confused, the agency representatives are confused.
calls for a transformation of this chaotic situation.
True, Bangalore must be able to handle more flights, passengers and air freight to meet current
demand and future growth. But Londons Heathrow airport sits on 1000 acres less land, and yet
flies 14 times more passengers than Bangalore's new airport will. What's going on?
Jacob John investigates.
The conflict between farmers and government in Rajasthan escalated recently. Farmers resorted to violence after demonstrations failed. There are simply too many stakeholders and too few resources to satisfy everybody. But
there are ways to make life easier for citizens, writes
India's upcoming National Biotech Policy will aim at food security, health-safety,
farmer well-being, protection of the environment and security of trade in farm commodities. But
favouring GM crops over alternatives runs real risks of jeopardizing this agenda, argues Kasturi Das.
The pressing need for direct participation of citizens in public
oversight has always contrasted
with the eagerness
of political parties to penetrate virtually all public offices. In Karnataka,
school development monitoring committees were the latest to fall victim to this imbalance.
Hit by metal mining and tree cutting, the Kapotagiri hill range in Karnataka was turning barren. But in the
last year, a local seer has worked with forest officials to bring back some of the green glory, reports
comments on the recently released report of Task Force on Biotechnology policy.
Citizens and government are thinking differently about each
other on access to information, notes
The Central law in the next challenge.
follows the intrigue, as New Delhi seeks to weaken Right to Information
laws on the one hand, and receives a proposal to strengthen RTI at the
The majority of civil fire incidents happen due to lack of clear laws and a blatant disregard for existing rules and regulations, assert
Harminder Kaur and Bhargavi S Rao.
The authors look at the Karnataka situation.
The Bangalore based technology non-profit, eGovernments Foundation has recently
been in the news for expanding its municipal systems reform operations
to New Delhi. Managing Trustee
talks to Subramaniam Vincent.
The measure of the Budget lies in whether the proposals have
the potential to provide an effective solution to the
crisis of the agrarian community.
On that score, says
there will be little to cheer
as long as the government persist with the failed Green
reports on one of the most critical predicaments of the Indian elections process.
A deeply flawed voter registration system.
Farmers' suicides will end only when we are willing to confront the real
villain - the misplaced faith in industrial farming, says
discusses the challenges for conventional farmers who may want to adopt organic practices.
As the Congress promises priority to agriculture, it needs to strike a balance between its policies
and those of the Left Front.
Ashok B Sharma
Farmers in Andhra Pradesh's Warangal district are doing the math, and learning that
the chemistry that kills their pests is taking its toll on them as well.
Karnataka Election Watch Committee
collected an enormous amount of data about candidates as the state
went into Assembly and Lok Sabha polls late last month. A brief report.
With many of its regular programmes running smoothly, Bangalore's
pioneering civil society organisation turns to newer ways of
Cautiously, but with conviction, some farmers are switching to organic
farming, and bidding goodbye to the pesticide-driven harvests of the Green
A new bio-fertilisation solution offers protection for the long-term
health of soils, as well as a cheaper alternative to traditional chemical
Well-known experts presented `Water: More Nutrition Per Drop' at the April 20 meeting
of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development in New York.
reviews the report and its considerations of the Indian situation.
Karnataka's state government proposes to divert the waters of the Goa bound Mahadayi river
back into the Malaprabha river to counter acute water scarcity.
profiles eGovernments Foundation's partnership with Karnataka to create
better property-tracking systems, and notes the early gains for the state.
reviews Of Master Plans, Laws and Illegalities in an Era of Transition, a report prepared by the Alternate Law Forum for the Bangalore Development Authority.
makes a strategic case for a shift to organic agriculture in India.
Encouraging contract farming is going to hurt the 600 million people dependent on subsistence agriculture, says
To expect poor and marginal farmers to trade online seems to be a wild imagination of a stockbroker, says
Karnataka's Electricity Regulatory Commission reminds Bangalore's
power supplier it has an obligation to provide reliable and
profiles a large landholding family farm in Karnataka's Hassan district
that switched from chemical farming to organic in the mid-nineties.
India Together interviews Srikanth Nadhamuni of Bangalore's eGovernments Foundation.
delves into the details of a unique, successful experiment of self-help farm journalism.
As 2003 draws to a close,
reports on Janaagraha, a Bangalore's citizens platform for participative
In a significant move, the Kerala government has decided to promote the production and marketing of organic food.
A new legislation aims to bring in a rigorous process of planning, transparency and citizen participation together at the local level in Karnataka, says
Incorporating a financial structure that allows stakeholders to hold each other accountable in their balance of interests can make municipal water supply a win-win for everyone, says
Karnataka's West Coast Paper Mill had to deal with much more than shareholders on the day of its recent Annual General Meeting.
Why is it that large expenditure on food subsidy in India
does not achieve more in reducing undernourishment? At a
New Delhi public hearing earlier this year,
Dr. Amartya Sen addressed this question.
A proposal for the last dam on Karnataka's Kali river has been abandoned, says the state's Industries Minister R.V.Deshpande. The state's apex environmental regulator makes several forward-looking promises.
A township on the eastern outskirts of Bangalore was among the first to run into council elections after the Supreme Court ruled on new disclosure rules for candiates.
Public Affairs Centre
looks at whether candidates and officials actually followed due process.
Karnataka's best bid at electronic governance is targeting land records, says
N G Hegde
on a Karnataka water project that is more than an innovation making water and irrigation a reality in a drought-prone area.
An update from Bangalore's PROOF (Public Records of Operations and Finance) campaign.
profiles the Bala and Yuva Janaagraha campaigns at Bangalore.
Having failed to meet the challenges of the post-green revolution era,
agricultural research has reached a dead end, says
Leo Saldanha and Subramanya Sastry
on the threats to the Kali River from pollution and sand mining and more recently a proposal to build the seventh dam across the river's last stretch.
Bangalore Municipality's fourth quarter results round up and other updates from the city'
Public Records of Operations and Finance (PROOF) campaign.
With more citizens taking interest, Bangalore's Janaagraha campaign is expanding to neighboring municipal areas.
T R Raghunandan is a hard hitting IAS officer managing Rural Development at the Government of Karnataka. In this interview to India Together, he talks about decentralization reforms and the challenges of winding down prevailing hierarchies in government.
On G S Gidde Gowda's farm outside
Hassan, the theories
of conventional farming take a backseat, while he applies
preference for nature's own hand.
Led by children themselves, and ably assisted by
concerned adult guidance, a remarkable Children's Council
gives true meaning to citizenship and informed choices.
Kathyayini Chamaraj looks at a civil society partnership that is catalysing a government urban poverty alleviation programme.
An update from the Bangalore's Public Records of Operations and Finance (PROOF) campaign.
A recent Supreme Court order has said that the Government shall build a second runway only in full compliance the law.
Marginalised communities continue to demonstrate that they can own and operate their own media to ensure that their voices are heard. But is the Government looking their way, asks Ashish Sen.
The Government of Karnataka's Working Group on Decentralization discusses mechanisms for democratizing decision making in Panchayats. This is the third in a series of articles adapted from the Working Group's 2002 report.
The Government of Karnataka's Working Group on Decentralization discusses institutions for upward accountability in Panchayati Raj. The second in a series of articles adapted from the Working Group's 2002 report.
The Malenadu home garden and seed exchange network in the Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka has made an impressive beginning in saving seed diversity says Sunita Rao.
Veena Poonacha's recent book on three Kodagu women chronicles a
significant journey into the changing fortunes of women in India, says
The Government of Karnataka's Working Group on Decentralization discusses transparency and accountability for rural self-governance in the state. The first in a series of articles adapted from the Working Group's 2002 report.
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