Just Change – People Before Profit

Many of us have struggled for and with the poor for over four decades now. We have fought human rights abuses, land alienation, untouchability, feudalism and violence against women.

We have mostly won major victories and changed the lives of the poor with whom we had worked.  But forty years down the line, most of us are faced with the stark fact that fighting poverty and fighting for the economic rights of our people is now virtually impossible, and moved beyond our control.

From easily identified local exploitative individuals, the forces causing poverty have moved to new, distant, complex structures way beyond the reach of communities. The blame is now conveniently laid on catch phrases such as market forces, globalisation, liberalization. But the question still remains as to how one deals with these faceless forces? Writes Stan Thekaekara

Photo by Austin Yoder

Welcome to the drought

Despite large-scale water supply infrastructure built over the years in India, areas prone to drought have only increased. Communities having had to deal with changing climate and ill-planned infrastructure, innovate and look at simple systems to manage water requirements. Gopakumar Menon throws light on such best practices, and asserts the need of the Government to learn from these.

Sustainable Planting

Communities moving away from traditional farming in search of opportunities in cities is a common trend in India. With is the loss of traditional farming knowledge and practices that have proven over and over to be sustainable is worrying. But there is are a few shining examples, as shown by the author Mari Marcel Thekaekara, in her article on Sustainable Planting.

From Shallow Cleanliness to Zero Waste

Alex Jensen in his thought-provoking article on waste management, focuses our attention on plastic wastes in India and the associated environmental problems. He highlights linkages between climate change, environmental health, plastics production, waste & health of the economy, to drive home the point of interdependencies and the need to move towards zero waste options. Above: Leh landfill. Photo Credit: Juan Del Rio

Sesame: the dismal story of a rainfed crop

Sesame known as the Queen of Oil Seeds is grown extensively in Karnataka, Maharashtra and Orissa. It is drought resistant and many pests find it inedible because of its salty tang. The only requirement is regularity in the rainfall pattern. With the accelerating changes in climate the inherent need of the sesame crop for good rain at planting and dry spells during harvesting has become skewered. Ganapathi Bhat observes that this unpredictability has reduced productivity and many farmers are seeking alternate means of livelihood.