India

China is a “major driver” of environmental degradation in Latin America – Robert Soutar

April 21, 2015 // 0 Comments

China’s increased trade and investment in Latin America over the past decade has resulted in powerful social and environmental impacts such as job losses and pollution, although the growing relationship has also brought some benefits, says new research published today. The high concentration of Chinese activity in Latin America’s agriculture and extractive sectors has placed a heavy strain on water supplies, increased deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) and is aggravating local concerns about resource use and job creation, the study coordinated by Boston University’s Global Economic Governance Initiative (GEGI) concludes. But the paper, entitled China in Latin America: Lessons for South-South Cooperation and Sustainable Development also highlights the potential for cooperation on renewable energy projects. Read

India and the Globalization of Servitude

April 9, 2015 // 0 Comments

Angus Maddison has noted that India was the richest country in the world and had controlled a third of global wealth until the 17th century. The village was the centre of a rural economy that was an economic powerhouse of entrepreneurialism. The British Raj almost dismantled this system however by introducing mono crop activities and mill made products, and post independent India has failed to repair the economic fabric. If anything implies that India’s social and economic fabric requires restoring, it is the findings of the 2014 global MultidimensionalPoverty Index. Out of its 1.2 billion-plus population, India is home to over 340 million destitute people and is the second poorest country in South Asia after war-torn Afghanistan. Some 640 million poor people live in India (40% of the world’s poor). Just 20 years ago, India had the second-best social indicators among the six South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan). Now it has the second worst position, ahead only of Pakistan. Bangladesh has less than half of India’s per-capita GDP but has infant and child mortality rates lower than that of India. What is going wrong? Former Indian Finance Minister P Chidambaram once claimed that his government’s economic neoliberal policies were pro-growth and pro equity and envisaged 85% of India’s population eventually living in well-planned cities. That would mean at least 600 million moving to cities. He stated that urbanisation constitutes

Traditional rainwater harvesting could be used to combat the effects of climate change across the world.

April 8, 2015 // 0 Comments

School textbooks in India have been telling children for generations that Rajasthan is an inhospitable state in the northwest of the country, constrained by the hot, hostile sands of the Thar Desert. But the driest state in India has a softer, humane face as well – that of Rajendra Singh, known as the “Water Man of India”, whose untiring efforts in water conservation in arid Rajasthan have led to him being awarded the Stockholm Water Prize, commonly referred to as the Nobel Prize for Water. Singh did not attempt to design a new technology to address Rajasthan’s water problems. He began simply by de-silting several traditional surface level rainwater storage facilities – called “johads” in the local Hindi language − that fell out of use during British colonial rule. And, in doing so, he has quenched the thirst of villages that were dying. Thousands of villages followed his example, and so much water was captured and soaked into aquifers that dry rivers have begun to flow again. Water wars Singh believes that water conservation is vital to combat the effects of climate change and to avoid “water wars” in the future. And such is his reputation on water issues that

Journalism as Subversion

March 24, 2015 // 0 Comments

The assault of global capitalism is not only an economic and political assault. It is a cultural and historical assault. Global capitalism seeks to erase our stories and our histories. Its systems of mass communication, which peddle a fake intimacy with manufactured celebrities and a false sense of belonging within a mercenary consumer culture, shut out our voices, hopes and dreams. Salacious gossip about the elites and entertainers, lurid tales of violence and inane trivia replace in national discourse the actual and the real. The goal is a vast historical amnesia. The traditions, rituals and struggles of the poor and workingmen and workingwomen are replaced with the vapid homogenization of mass culture. Life’s complexities are reduced to simplistic stereotypes. Common experiences center around what we have been fed by television and mass media. We become atomized and alienated. Solidarity and empathy are crushed. The cult of the self becomes paramount. And once the cult of the self is supreme we are captives to the corporate monolith. As the mass media, now uniformly in the hands of large corporations, turn news into the ridiculous chronicling of pseudo-events and pseudo-controversy we become ever more invisible as individuals. Any reporting of the truth—the

White men meet in London to plot ways of profiting off Africa’s seed systems

March 13, 2015 // 0 Comments

A meeting is to be held in London on 23 March by predominantly white men with a sprinkling of Africans, some of whom represent private seed companies, to discuss how to make a killing off Africa’s seed systems. Farmers and civil society organisations have not been invited to the meeting, which will be attended only by private seed companies, donors, representatives from Africa’s regional economic communities, research centres and multinational development organisations. The meeting will discuss a study produced by Monitor-Deloitte, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and USAID. BMGF is a big sponsor of the commercialisation of agriculture in Africa, including through the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). Working with USAID, this commercial agenda extends US foreign policy into Africa and threatens the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers who rely on recycling seed for their livelihoods. The goal of the Deloitte study is to develop models for commercialisation of seed production in Africa, especially on early generation seed (EGS), and to identify ways in which the African public sector could facilitate private involvement in African seed systems. The study was conducted in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia on maize, rice, sorghum,
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