Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Sunita Narain


The battle for control of our bodies

They say you are what you eat. But do we know what we are eating? Do we know who is cooking and serving us the food we take to our kitchens and then into our bodies?

Vedanta and lessons in conservation

The Forest Rights Act of 2006—also known as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act—came after considerable and bitter opposition from conservation groups.

From where our food will come

Vijay Jawandhia is a farmer in Vidarbha, the region which brought home to us the crisis that is compelling farmers to kill themselves. He is also a leader of farmers. Recently, he spoke of new challenges: "In my village we are hiring vehicles and bringing people from cities to work in the field." Sounds bizarre but news stories from across farming regions suggest a similar trend.
 

See the light

There is no question that India desperately needs to generate more power. The energy indicators say it all. It has the lowest per capita consumption of electricity in the world. This when access to energy is correlated with development, indeed with economic growth.

What monsoon means

There is one being-Indian-thing, which spans the urban-rural and the rich-poor divide: our annual watch and wait for the monsoon. It begins every year, without fail as heat climbs and the monsoon advances. The farmers wait desperately because they need the rain at the right time to sow their crops. The city managers wait because by the beginning of each monsoon period, the reservoirs that supply water to cities are precariously low. All of us wait, in spite of our air-conditioned living, for the relief rain brings to the scorching heat and dust.

Green buildings: how to redesign

There is a buzz about green buildings. But the question is: what does one mean by building green? And how does one design policies to make the green homes of our dreams?

Green is not about first building structures using lots of material and energy, and then fixing them so that they become a little more efficient. Building green is about optimizing on the local ecology, using local material as far as possible and, most importantly, building to cut the power, water and material requirements.

Before cars take over

There I was, zipping down bustling Ahmedabad. The bus stopped at a station, designed so the doors of the bus and the station open simultaneously to let passengers out and in. People were walking to the station, buying tickets and waiting. A notice flashed when the next bus would arrive. Each bus has a GPS device that transmits its movements to a spiffy control room inside the city corporation. You know when the next bus will come. It will be on time.

The US and us

Visiting the US, one thing came home to me: the country has very little political will to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Policy makers and media professionals talk about the climate change crisis. But any opinion on cutting emissions, based on historical or even current responsibility, is just dismissed. The public perception, seemingly carefully nurtured, is it is runaway pollution in China and India that will devastate the world. Indeed, talk about serious action by the US is hushed up, for it will play into the hands of the Republicans.

2010: choose your future today

A new decade. For me, three decades of work in environment. I wonder: have matters improved since the early 1980s, when I began? Or, are things worse off? Where do we go from here?

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