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Sunita Narain's picture
15 January 2007
Sunita Narain

The year 2006 will go down as environment’s watershed year. This is not because this year we have had extraordinary success in environmental management; there was also no environmental disaster per se. This year must be remembered because the task of environmental management has come to be even more contested and even more challenged. Protests against environmental degradation have grown. But so have efforts to deny environmental concerns or to dilute regulations.

Sunita Narain's picture
31 December 2006
Sunita Narain

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (siam) says India produced over 10 million vehicles in 2006. The number of cars was more than one million. As the manufacture and sale of vehicles are important parameters of the national economy, this millionth-vehicle yardstick says the economy’s fundamentals are buoyant.

Sunita Narain's picture
15 December 2006
Sunita Narain

IN this past month, farmer associations in Haryana and Tamil Nadu have located and burnt field trials for genetically modified Bt rice. In Chhattisgarh the state government has stopped similar trials happening under its nose. It is all too easy to deride these actions as the handiwork of some misinformed eco-fundamentalists or miscreants out to seek ‘cheap’ publicity. It can also be argued that these actions will impede scientific progress designed to find answers to malnutrition and food insecurity in the country.

Sunita Narain's picture
30 November 2006
Sunita Narain

Last fortnight I wrote about making space for emissions. Let’s discuss how this can be done. Let’s discuss this with governments meeting, possibly for the millionth time, to discuss the global agreement to combat climate change. Let’s discuss this when we know with some greater certainty that global warming is beginning to adversely change our world. And we know that in spite of all the years of intense negotiations, governments have done too little to avert the reality of climate change.

Sunita Narain's picture
15 November 2006
Sunita Narain

What does the ubiquitous auto-rickshaw and the plush aeroplane have in common, other than getting us from one place to another? The auto-rickshaw, as India’s largest manufacturer Rahul Bajaj will tell you, is the symbol of democratic mobility — it provides transport for large numbers of people at what he says is affordable costs. But these vehicles are technology poor, and extremely polluting.

Sunita Narain's picture
31 October 2006
Sunita Narain

At a media-studded book release function, a leading editor was recounting a recent incident. He was travelling with a top Uttar Pradesh politician (who we will not name but call Mr A) in his brand new plane. The politician told him that the plane was a gift from a leading industrialist (who we will not name but call Mr AA). The editor was then told that the return gift by the politician was not meagre: it was 1,000 hectares (ha) of prime agricultural land for a new special economic zone (sez). Hearing this tale, we in the audience smiled wisely.

Sunita Narain's picture
15 October 2006
Sunita Narain

Urban India is beginning to explode. The question is if our cities will be able to manage this growth or will they just burst at the seams? The reason I ask this is because we still don’t have a clue about what urban growth will mean for us. We cannot see beyond the glitz of the malls, the swank of the private housing apartments or guarded green areas.

Sunita Narain's picture
30 September 2006
Sunita Narain

Just imagine: floods in dry Rajasthan; drought in wet Assam. In both cases, devastation has been deadly, with people struggling to cope. But are these natural disasters or human-made disasters signs of change of the world’s climate systems? Or are these simply the result of mismanagement so that people already living on the edge of survival, cannot cope with any variations — small or big — in weather events?

Sunita Narain's picture
15 September 2006
Sunita Narain

What a line of attack! PepsiCo, in its advertisements to deny that it had pesticides in its drinks, said that there were more pesticides in tea, eggs, rice and apples. Coca-Cola, in its defence, has similarly argued that as everything in India is contaminated, its drinks are safe. They say this is being done to target them, because they are big brands and us multinationals. On the other hand, the pesticide industry, in its public response, wants the focus not to be on pesticides but on heavy metals and other contaminants.

Sunita Narain's picture
31 August 2006
Sunita Narain

When we released our study on pesticides in soft drinks, our objective was clear: we needed action on regulations, which had been stymied because of corporate pressure. What we hadn’t anticipated was the response of the cola majors. Three years have lapsed since we published our first report on pesticides in colas. The response then had been immediate and vituperative. “There are no pesticides in our drinks and the Centre for Science and Environment cannot test our products” was the line taken by the cola majors.

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