- Leapfrog Factor : Workshop on clean air in Asian cities
- Sneak peak inside Leapfrog factor - Clearing the air in Asian cities
- Cover Story: After the deluge-Narmada drowning people in confusion
- Editorial : Old-style corruption better?
- CSE launches Green Educators Network
- Gobar Times : Why Indian fisher folk are starving
- Science: Do mangroves really protect against Tsunami's
- Analysis : Aizwal's quest for water
- Media: Water conservation - Coke style
- How green is your school
- Sign up for Down To Earth online
The Leapfrog Factor : Mumbai
A book release and briefing workshop on clean air in Asian cities
CSE invites you to an event that offers a unique opportunity to
understand the air pollution crisis overwhelming Indian cities, and
how a technology 'leapfrog' can ensure that the problem does not overwhelm
Experts from CSE and Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB)
will conduct the workshop which will acknowledge the efforts that
cities like Mumbai and Pune have made to lower pollution levels. It
will also explain new challenges and refocus the future agenda to
achieve clean air in Indian cities.
The event will also present CSE's new publication 'Leapfrog Factor:
Clearing the air in Asian cities'- the product of a ten-year campaign
to combat vehicular pollution.
Friday, May 19, 2006
10.00 AM-1.30 PM
Conference Hall, 3rd Floor, Y B Chavan Centre,
General Jagannathrao Bhosale Marg, near Mantralaya, Nariman Point
Mumbai-21, Ph 022-2204 3617/19
Cover Story: Awaiting the miracle
In the past two months, India has revisited its most contested dam,
the Sardar Sarovar Project. While people affected by it in Madhya
Pradesh remain stranded, Gujarat can't distribute the water that it
Read the in-depth report>>
Editorial: Old-style corruption better?
By Sunita Narain
A journalist from the International Herald Tribune asked my opinion
about what he called "modern forms of lobbying" that us multinationals
operating in India engaged in. He was investigating how these companies
were bringing their skills of influencing policy - from 'planting'
stories in the media, to 'engaging' academics and scientists to counter
debates, to 'lobbying' legislators - to India.
My reply was simple: firstly, cash transactions are still part of
the game but more covert. Secondly, given a choice between the new
and the old, I would prefer old-fashioned, Indian-style corruption.
This is because direct financial dealings, however distasteful, cannot
be hidden for long. But this us -refined influence game will erode
our public institutions, subvert public decision-making and fatally
It is important to learn and analyse how democracy is 'worked' in
the us. Robert F Kennedy Jr. explains some of this in his writings
on the Bush administration. Kennedy, a politician and lawyer, is the
son of the charismatic Democrat senator, who was assassinated.
What he reveals is chilling. We know in American electoral politics,
industry and other interest groups make donations to candidates. These
donations are seemingly not corrupt, because they are given openly
(not Indian-style cash under the table). Unfortunately, the truth
lies elsewhere. Kennedy describes, in detail, the corporate takeover
of the us and how this undermines issues of public health and policy.
The process is deliberate. The corporate world knows that policy
is personnel. So, the first step in dismantling public policy formulation
is to ensure 'their' people are put in charge. This has been done
in institution after institution, with devastating impacts. For instance,
when a mining industry person is given charge of public land policy
or a coal industry person is put in place to decide energy policy,
you cannot expect unbiased outcomes.
Another step is to recruit scientists, who Kennedy calls 'biostitutes
- prostitutes to serve industrial interests. He describes in detail
how this was done again and again in cases concerning public health.
For instance, in deciding how much arsenic should be acceptable in
drinking water, how much mercury Americans should ingest through fish,
how to regulate effluents from pig-farms, industrial-style, which
release a toxic mix of chemicals. In this case, Kennedy documents
how a government scientist found an antibiotic resistant strain of
bacteria near pig farms, which was making people sick. He was gagged,
his studies buried and his public appearances cancelled. This, Kennedy
says, was done because of lobbying by the National Pork Producers
In the fight for a voice, all tricks are used. One such case concerns
a bill introduced in the us Senate in late 2001, which would require
chemical plants to reduce their inventories of highly toxic and dangerous
substances. The first assault came with industry associations lobbying
senators against the proposed law. Money poured in - the chemical
industry donated over us $38 million to Republicans and spent another
us $30 million on lobbying. To 'soften' public servants, money was
paid to benefit funds; suddenly there was a spate of articles and
editorials condemning the legislation as subversive. Right-wing think
tanks like the Heritage Foundation and Competitive Enterprise Institute
produced briefs justifying the opposition. The bill was killed.
The most devastating fact is that this 'corporate cronyism' can
take root because democratic institutions have been seriously compromised.
Kennedy finds that even his party members - Democrats - need to play
the game, because they need corporate money for elections. He also
finds that the media has been systematically taken over and its role
as a public informer been compromised. This has been done through
pincer-like actions. Firstly, the law that regulated media as a public
trust - mandating it to publicise different points of view - was abolished.
Till the 1960s, under the Fairness Doctrine, advertisers of gas-guzzling
automobiles, for instance, had to provide rebuttal time for public-interest
advocates to debate the impact of wasteful fuel use. But in the 1980s,
Ronald Reagan, supported by the media, changed this. Secondly, media
has been consolidated, is often owned by industry: its business is
expensive so that money rules. Stories on corporate shenanigans are
buried or journalists fired, finds Kennedy.
The fact is that India is currently standing on a precipice. Our
institutions of governance - particularly our political institutions
- have been so weakened that we are ready for the same 'corporate
takeover'. If you don't believe me, visit the official homepage of
the Indian Planning Commission, click on the report of the innocuously
termed Indo-US CEO forum. Its members included the most respected
from India - from Ratan Tata to Nandan Nilekani. Read the report and
its action agenda for the Indian government on everything - agriculture,
food processing, intellectual property rights, real estate, education.
No surprises there, you will say. After all, all industry - Indian
or foreign - has a wish list.
But wishes are commands when lobbies, not government, rule. For
instance, the report directs that Indian government must "eliminate
policies like the discriminatory special excise duty on carbonated
drinks". In the same budget, the duty was reduced. The group included
the head of soft drink major, us multinational Pepsico. No surprises
Read Kennedy. Get angry. Don't allow this takeover of India. This
is not a us makeover we can afford.
To comment, write to: email@example.com
Read this editorial online >>
Green Educators' Network
CSE's Environment Education Unit presents the Green Educators Network
a forum to bring educators across the world together to collaborate
and discuss environment matters. Membership of the network is free
and open to University/College teachers of all backgrounds interested
in the field of environment. Apart from regular updates and reviews
on the latest books, films and other resources on environment, members
can use the forum to showcase their own books and publications on
Gobar Times : Environment for beginners
With a coastline of 9040 kilometers and a network of rivers crisscrossing
every part of its land, its not surprising that India is the third
largest fish producer in the world. Yes, fisherfolk-living in Assam
at the top of the map, or in Kerala right at the bottom--contribute
enormously to our national income. So why are they still starving?
Find out in this issue of Gobar Times>>
More in Down To Earth magazine
Do mangroves really protect against Tsunami's
A new study on mangroves is raising a storm by claiming that coastal
green belts do not protect against Tsunamis. The study calls into
question rehabilitation work such as IUCN's US$ 45 million programme
to build natural barriers to protect against future Tsunamis. Find
out about the study published in Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science,
and how scientists and NGO's are responding.
Aizwal's quest for water
Faced with a piped water system that is unable to meet the growing
demand, residents of Mizoram's state capital are returning to harvesting
rain to supply their water needs. Click for an in-depth study of the
options available to this growing city.
Water conservation - Coke style
The soft drinks giant is attempting to shed it's water hogging image
by promoting water conservation in 5 villages in Rajasthan and Tamil
Nadu. Find out about the company's new initiative in collaboration
with International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
(ICRISAT) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII)
Gobar Times Green Schools Network
Students from 1,600 schools are assessing how green their schools
are as part of the Gobar Times Green School Network. Is your school
a part of the network?
Member schools receive a lively activity sheet every month which
engages students in environment issues.
For details about the programme>>
Inside Down To Earth (subscription required)
To get a trial issue>>
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to Down To Earth receive a complimentary copy of Down To Earth print
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Give us 6 referrals and you will receive a gift>>
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Mishka Zaman - ADB's priority is business
Why Indian does India's agriculture lag behind China's.
Book : The Burning of the Rice, A Cambodian Success Story
To read these and more subscribe to Down to Earth online>>
CSE is an independent,public interest organisation that was established
in 1982 by Anil Agarwal, a pioneer of India's environmental movement.
CSE's mandate is to research, communicate and promote sustainable
development with equity, participation and democracy.
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E-mail: < firstname.lastname@example.org >
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