ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Brick Nationalism: Silver Bricks or Sun Dried Ones?

While this building material supports a shiny political campaign in the form of a silver brick laid at Ayodhya, the on-ground situation of brick kilns in India remains grim, with the exploitation of both labour and the environment. To change this scenario, an array of solutions for brickmaking, including compressed stabilised earth blocks, need to be made mainstream. The decentralised, skill-based technologies in brickmaking are the answer to mitigate environmental deterioration and enhance skill development.

Will the 2018 NGT Order Lead to Improvement in River Water Quality?

On 20 September 2018, the National Green Tribunal ordered all states and union territories to prepare action plans within the next two months for restoring the quality of polluted river stretches to at least “bathing standards” within six months of the finalisation of the plans. However, making of the action plans alone is not likely to lead to an improvement in the river water quality.

Ecological Memory

Along with our birds and natural landscapes, our ecological consciousness is slowly disappearing.

Today's Environmentalism

Environmental activism in India comprises two streams. The first focuses on protected areas and relies on the bureaucracy that often misuses its powers against communities that live in close contact with nature. The second focuses on protecting nature to safeguard people's livelihoods and health. The environmental agenda should focus on the reassertion of people's rights over natural resources, and this should be coupled with an action-oriented promotion of nature-friendly cooperative enterprises in sectors like quarrying, and mineral and sand mining.

The Adi Ganga

The article sheds light on the Adi Ganga, one of the most significant streams of the Ganges in its lower course, and narrates how the stream (later Tolly’s Canal) which was once the life line of Kolkata transformed into a mere sewer and was ruthlessly slaughtered with the changing politico-economic interests of the state. 

Health, Illness and Disease

The conceptions of disease and its formulation under different paradigms have made it clear that the approach towards health and medicine has never been completely detached from ecology. Health and disease are thought to be the products of the interaction among three key elements: the agent, the host, and the environment. This paper is an attempt to develop an approach that encompasses the concerns surrounding an understanding of disease ecology and a patient's behaviour during treatment. Using the example of tuberculosis patients put under DOTS, which disregards the patient's say in decision-making, it analyses the implications for the larger health issue using the political ecology approach.

Scientists or Spies?

Ecologists in India, as well as other parts of the world, acted throughout the 1950s and 1960s as if their research funding did not have any political or ethical import. Ecologists had been accustomed to taking money from any funding source and attempting to do their own work while also fulfilling grant requirements. In doing so they often implicitly supported institutions or policies that they might not have actually supported. The now controversial Bharatpur bird-banding project, in the late 1960s, the first large-scale study of bird migration in India, receiving funds as it did from the US Army is a case in point. It led in complex and unfortunate ways to a tighter government control over ecological research projects.

The Varna Trophic System

The evolution of castes including the forming of the varna ideology was a historical consequence of ecosystem development. As this paper argues, the brahminic theory of a varna social structure based on the notions of purity and pollution is systematically mapped on to the framework of the trophic system as developed in the field of ecology. The evolution of castes follow the logic of Darwinian principles elaborated in the field of population ecology. The emergence of untouchability is seen as an ecologically determined adaptation contributing to the fitness and survival of those regarded as untouchable. Untouchability and the varna framework are inseparably joined by an ecological logic. It is not possible to preserve in any way the identities of caste and at the same time hope to eradicate untouchability.

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