Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Blog Posts by author Sunita Narain


Sunita Narain

Director General of CSE and publisher of Down To Earth, an environmentalist pushing for changes in policies and  practices and mindsets. More>>

31 May 2009

The influenza A(H1N1) virus is not transmitted to humans by eating pork, that much is now known and said. But what are the origins of this virus, winging across our air-travel interdependent world? Why is this question never asked? Why are the big doctors of our world looking for a vaccine for all kinds of influenza without checking on what makes us so susceptible to pandemics, year after year? Is there something more to the current contagion?

15 May 2009

About 24 years ago, I was in a house in a small village some distance from Udaipur town in Rajasthan. A government functionary was explaining how an improved chulha (cookstove) worked— they had installed it in the kitchen. At that time, India was waking up to forests being devastated. It was believed then (wrongly, as it turned out) the key reason was poor people cutting trees to cook food. It was also being understood smoke from chulhas was carcinogenic and that women were worst hit by this pollution.

30 April 2009

Whenever election to India’s Lok Sabha approaches, two questions tend to emerge: When will India get a green party? Are environmental issues important in our elections? The answers are interlinked; they relate to the nature of the Indian electoral system as well as the nature of India’s environmental concerns.

15 April 2009

The world’s cheapest car, the Nano, rolls out in India this week. Manufacturer Tata Motors says it will change the way Indians drive, for the inauguration places the personal car within the reach of people who once could only dream of owning one. Indeed, the Nano has been marketed as an ‘aspiration’—the right of every Indian to a car. No quibble here. There is no question an affordable car is better than an expensive one; or that a small car, being more fuel efficient, is better than a big one.

31 March 2009

The global meltdown led to expectations governments would use money to reinvent economies for climate change. The plan was simple: spend obscene amounts of public money in infrastructure and other projects, to stimulate national economies. If this money got spent on all those things which would improve the environmental sustainability of countries, it would go a long way in building the foundation for the new-age world. It would make us climate-proof and insure us against the excesses of an out-of-control market.

15 March 2009

A year ago, in this very column, I discussed the myopia of budget 2008, which did not touch upon events then beginning to unfold. Since then we have seen the world collapse and, perhaps, even change forever.

28 February 2009

There was a jamboree in my town recently, a gathering of the powerful and famous, to discuss the climate change agreement the world must carve out in Copenhagen by end 2009. But what happened was rather discomforting: We Indians were publicly lectured, castigated and rapped on our knuckles for being bad boys and girls by one and all. UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon told us developing countries must make more efforts to address climate change and get on-board with industrialized world for solutions.

15 February 2009

Which cooking oil is best for us? Why do I ask? Are we not bombarded with advertising messages telling us there is a healthy oil that is good for the heart? They talk of monounsaturated fatty acids (mufa), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (pufa) and of course, catch-us-words like omega properties. I am sure you, like me, try to understand this scientific jargon and conclude that any oil that has all these elements, must be good.

15 February 2009

Which cooking oil is best for us? Why do I ask? Are we not bombarded with advertising messages telling us there is a healthy oil that is good for the heart? They talk of monounsaturated fatty acids (mufa), and polyunsaturated fatty acids (pufa) and of course, catch-us-words like omega properties. I am sure you, like me, try to understand this scientific jargon and conclude that any oil that has all these elements, must be good. Then we presume if we are being told the product is healthy, somebody must have verified the claim.

31 January 2009

Let me dare to predict how regulatory and corporate India will resolve IT major Satyam’s scandal/saga. The government will stand tall, its arms and branches spread out in never-ending enquiry, to provide tactical cover. Some fall-guys might be found: now-disgraced chairman B Ramalinga Raju could be sentenced, as could the auditing company official who signed the accounts; but it takes time to prove guilt, so that they will probably live a retired life in the comfort of their homes, out on bail. Meanwhile, the media will bray for blood.

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