Sunita Narain | Centre for Science and Environment

Sunita Narain


Connected events and difficult future

Two major events happening at two ends of the world—Japan’s natural disaster and nuclear fallout and unrest in Libya and other countries of the region—have one thing in common. Energy. The fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, hit by earthquake and then the tsunami, has not yet been contained. As I write this, news is breaking about possible contamination of the seawater surrounding the damaged installation. Fears are it could lead to groundwater contamination and radioactive toxins in the food and fish. Last week there was a scare when Tokyo’s water was reported to have iodine 131 in excess of safe limits. Nobody really knows how badly the core of the reactor is damaged. Nobody’s clear how Fukushima’s problems will be buried.

Think differently, Mr Finance Minister

As I write this piece, the finance minister has dispatched the Union Budget 2011. The press is busy reflecting the views of business and industry lobbies, as they quibble over duty exemptions, insist on financial stimulus and other incentives, and cry for big-ticket reform—foreign direct investment in retail and insurance. The only other discussion is about the growing fiscal deficit: will the finance minister give in to populism while extending the programmes for the poor? Or will he raise taxes to pay for the growing developmental needs of the country? The finance minister, it would seem, is caught between two battles: of checking the bulge in fiscal irresponsibility and of meeting the need for delivering governance.

Fatal disconnect

The World Economic Forum—the gathering of power glitterati each year in Davos—has assessed the top risks the world faces in 2011. According to this analysis, climate change is the highest-ranking risk the world will face in the coming years, when its likelihood and impact are combined. What’s even more important is the interconnections between climate change and the other top risks: economic disparity (ranked 3), extreme weather events (ranked 5), extreme energy price volatility (ranked 6), geopolitical conflict (ranked 7), flooding and water security (9 and 10). The world—even according to the richest men—is in deep and desperate trouble.

2008 K R Narayanan Oration Why environment needs equity: Learning from the environmentalism of the poor to build our common future

Sunita Narain, director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi I am honoured to deliver the 12th K R Narayanan Oration 2008. It is a special occasion because our former President K R Narayanan was a very special person. Most of us, who knew President K R Narayanan, will remember him as an erudite, compassionate, thoughtful politician, who knew his mind and stood by his beliefs. We will remember him for his integrity and for his intellectual might.

Climate Change: The challenge and opportunity for our world

Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi.
Speech delivered at Asian University for Women Symposium: Imagining Another Future for Asia: Ideas and Pathways for Change, held at Dhaka, Bangladesh on January 21-22, 2011.

How climate ready are we?

On a brief visit to Pakistan this week I noted that the recent floods have left deep impressions on the country’s policy and political leadership. They spoke about the scale of devastation, human suffering and the massive challenge of rehabilitation. They also noted, interestingly, that in their view there was a link to climate change.

Control your food. It is your business

Our control over our food and our health requires inventive institutional reordering and new ideas about the way food regulations work.

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.
 

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