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16-30 APRIL, 2016

SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENT FORTNIGHTLY Subscriber copy, not for resale `45.00
Bangladesh: Taka 58.00 / Pakistan: Rs 58.00 / Nepal: Rs 38.00 / Sri Lanka: Rs 117.00 / Maldives: Rf 28.00 Bhutan: Ngultrum 24 / Rest of the World (South): US $2.70 / Rest of the World (North): US $3.40

WHITE Should ivory trade be legalised to Seized ivory stock in
combat elephant poaching? a government godown
in the Philippines

01Cover.indd 5 08/04/16 2:39 PM



See 2015 assi Special

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02 apr30 2016
02Agenda for survival Ad 2016.indd 49 08/04/16 4:12 PM


WACHH BHARAT Mission, the governments much-need- This is the sewage collectors tanker businessin almost all cit-
ed flagship programme, is not just about building toilets. ies, it is private, thriving and underground. The economics are sim-
It is about building toilets that people can use, and most ple: tankers with pipes suck and empty the sewage for a fee that
importantly, are linked to the waste disposal and treat- ranges between 800 and 1,200 per visit. The faecal sludge is then
ment systems. This much is clear. But how will this be done? This is emptied into the nearest drain, river, lake, even a field or forest.
still a million dollar question. The reason is that we do not even I see this every day on the road outside our office in Delhi. The
know where our waste comes from and where it goes. tankers are ubiquitousyou will not even notice them. But watch
My colleagues studied the excreta sums of different cities. The carefully, and you will see a pipe extended from the tanker empty-
city shit-flow diagram shows that the situation is grim as all ing into the municipal stormwater drain, right outside a major hos-
cities either do not treat or safely dispose the bulk of the human pital. This drain will make its way to the river. It is no wonder that
excreta. This is because we often confuse toilets with sanitation. cleaning our rivers remains a farfetched dream.
But the fact is that toilets are mere receptacles to receive waste; when But this is not all bad news. The fact is that septic tanks are de-
we flush or pour water, the waste flows into a piped drain, which centralised waste collection systems. Instead of thinking of build-
could be either connected, or not, to a sewage treatment plant (stp). ing an underground sewerage networkthat is never built or nev-
This stp could be working, or not. In this case, the faecal sludge er completedit would be best to think of these systems as the
human excretacould be conveyed, but not safely disposed as it future of urban sanitation. After all, we have gone to mobile teleph-
would be discharged into the nearest river, lake or a ony, without the landline. Individual septic tanks
drain. All this will pollute. could be the way to achieve full sanitation solutions.
In most cities, this connection from the flush to This demands three changes. One, governments
the stp does not exist. According to Census 2011, the recognise that these systems exist, and what is needed
flush water of some 30 per cent of urban India is con- is to incorporate them in future sanitation plans. Two,
nected to a piped sewer. But our survey found that in they provide oversight to the building of these sys-
most cases, these underground drains have either lost temsthe codes exist, but they need to be implement-
their connectionsthey need repairor are not con- ed and structures certified. Three, they provide mini-
nected to stps. mal regulation for the collection and transportation
There is another route for excreta to flow. The faecal sludge business so that waste is taken for treat-
household flush or pour latrine could be connected to ment, and not dumped somewhere.
a septic tank, which, if it is well constructed, will retain And most critically, city governments must work
the sludge and discharge the liquid through a soak pit. out the treatment system for faecal sludge. This is
The faecal sludge would still need to be emptied and conveyed for where the real rub lies. The fact is that this sludge is nutrient rich.
treatment. But in most cases, our survey found the septic tank is not Today, the global nitrogen cycle is being destroyed because we take
built to any specificationsit is a box to contain excretaand it human excreta, which is rich in nutrients and dispose it in water. In
is either connected to a drain or emptied out. This is where the dra- this case, we can return the human excreta back to land, use it as fer-
ma of faecal sludge begins. tiliser and reverse the sanitation cycle. The faecal sludge, after treat-
Who collects it? How is it transported, and most importantly, ment, can be given to farmers and used as organic compost. Or, it
where does it go? Nobody knows. There is a focus on sanitation can be treated and mixed with other organic wastelike kitchen
providing toiletsand, a focus on pollutionbuilding stps. But wasteand used for biogas, or to manufacture fuel pellets or etha-
the fact is that the bulk of Indian households with access to sanita- nol. The technologies exist.
tion are connected to septic tanks40 per cent of urban India, But for all this to happen, the nation must know: where do its
according to the Census, 2011. It is also a fact that as underground flushed excreta go? Ask and find out.
sewerage is unavailable, people, including large builders, have no
options to provide containment of human excreta on-site. They
build septic tanks and call for help to remove the faecal sludge and
take it somewhere else. Our estimate is that every day we generate
roughly 1.75 million tonnes of this wasteeven more than the es-
timated solid waste generated in the country. @sunitanar

16-30 APRIL 2016 3

03Editors.indd 3 08/04/16 4:03 PM

Down To Earth
EDITOR Sunita Narain
Richard Mahapatra
`Open civil reactors to scrutiny'
Vibha Varshney, Archana Yadav,
On March 11, authorities at the Kakrapar
S S Jeevan Atomic Power Station (KAPS) in southern
MULTIMEDIA EDITOR Arnab Pratim Dutta Gujarat closed down one of its units as a
precautionary measure after leakage in its
primary heat transport system. Down To
Earth speaks to Kumar Sundaram, a Research
Anupam Chakravartty, Jitendra Choubey, Consultant with the Coalition for Nuclear
Kundan Pandey, Rajeshwari Ganesan, Disarmament and Peace, about Kakrapar
Shreeshan Venkatesh, Karnika Bahuguna. and nuclear power in India. According to
Jigyasa Watwani
Sundaram, the Centre must allow civilian
nuclear reactors to be publicly scrutinised as
Snigdha Das, Rajat Ghai, Jemima Rohekar,
Aditya Misra, Rajit Sengupta, Deepanwita India has signed the civil nuclear deal with the
Niyogi, Aakriti Shrivastava, Priya Talwar US in 2006-07.
Chaitanya Chandan, Shri Krishan,
Raj Kumar Singh, Tarique Aziz, Ritika Bohra
PHOTOGRAPHER Vikas Choudhary
Your environment, a silent killer Can we conserve
biodiversity without
Rajendra Rawat, Jaidev Sharma
asks A K Ghosh
Rakesh Shrivastava, Gundhar Das
Kiran Pandey team
On web
Agasthyamala included in
Chandra Bhushan, Anumita Roychowdhury UNESCO's World Network
of Biosphere Reserve
Vol 24, No 23; Total No of Pages 60 The air you breathe, the Health Organization
Editorial, subscriptions and advertisements: Society for
Environmental Communications, water you drink and the (WHO) shows how your On Facebook
41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, surroundings where you environment could be
New Delhi 110 062, India has the highest
Phone: 91-11- 29955124, work, play and sleep may killing you. According to a number of people without
29956110, 29956394, 29956399 go largely unnoticed new WHO report, 23 per cent access to safe water
Fax: 91-11-29955879.
Email: on a day-to-day basis. of all global deaths are
2005 Society for Environmental Communications.
All rights reserved throughout the world. Reproduction
But visible or not, they linked to the environment. On Twitter
in any manner is prohibited. Printed and published by constitute your living The data pertains to 2012 21 villages inside Simlipal
Richard Mahapatra on behalf of Society for Environmental environment. Now, new and is an update from the granted community
Communications. Printed at International Print-o-Pac
Limited, B-204, 205, Okhla Industrial Area, Phase I, New research from the World previous report in 2006. forest rights
Delhi-110020 india and published at 41, Tughlakabad
Institutional Area, New Delhi 110 062.
To subscribe, sms 'dte Subscribe' to 56070
or visit
Jyoti Ghosh
Compost waste at home
K C R Raja Priyanka Bhasin from non-profit Roots and Wings explains what
COVER DESIGN Ajit Bajaj organic waste is and how it can
COVER PHOTO Reuters be segregated and composted
at home using earthen pots and
some other elements.
Down To Earth editorial does not
endorse the content of advertisements
printed in the magazine @down2earthindia

4 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

04Web & Credits.indd 4 07/04/16 10:14 AM

Cartoon in the cross hairs
Down to Earth is a Science and Environment fortnightly as is proclaimed on the
cover page. However, I would like to know one thing: what was the cartoon that
appeared in the regular column Cross Hairs (1-15 March, 2016) by Sorit Gupto
doing in a publication dedicated to science and environment? The facts presented
in the cartoon are wrong. The cartoonist is probably giving his opinion on the
debate on tolerance and intolerance.
For instance, he has referred to the sedition charges slapped on students,
writers and environmentalists. If you calculate the total number of students,
writers and environmentalists in the country, it will come to a few crores. Out of
that only three students have been slapped with sedition charges because the
freedom of speech guaranteed under our Constitution does not include freedom
to shout slogans for breaking up the country. Please specify whether you support
the breaking up of our country and those who either try doing that or those who
shout slogans demanding that.
Similarly, the cartoonist's other points about the murder of M M Kalburgi, the
attack on rationalists, the suicide of Rohith Vemula, the JNU incident, the incident
regarding mediapersons being attacked by lawyers and the incident of a family
Down To Earth welcomes being asked to leave a cinema hall for not standing up for the national anthem are
letters, responses and his own selective interpretations of events. In no way do they mean that under the
other contributions from
Narendra Modi regime India has become a more intolerant nation.
readers. Send to Sunita
Narain, Editor, Down To
I and my friends pay for our subscription to your science and environment
Earth, 41, Tughlakabad fortnightly to keep abreast of news from the world of science and the
Institutional Area, environment. But if you intend to politicise it then we will be forced not to renew
New Delhi - 110062. Email: the subscription. DILIP PHANSALKAR

16-30 APRIL 2016 5

05-07Letters.indd 5 07/04/16 10:17 AM

letters Our cartoonist replies: a party/ideology. In such bad


times, we are left with very few
Thanks for your letter. The
options as citizens of a free
job of a cartoonist is to work
and democratic society. Either
beyond the headlines and as
we succumb or we accept and
a cartoonist of a science and
realise our responsibilities by
environment magazine, my
fearlessly condemning any
job is to see things on a bigger
act of violence, killing and
canvas and with scientific
every act of destruction of the
temperament. We at Down
democratic fibre of our society.
To Earth believe that the
Let us take again in our hand
environment is not just about
the most effective weapon of
some physical abnormalities
democracy the argument.
like pollution; we have a wider
Through my cartoon I hinted at
approach, that includes the
exactly the same.
politics, the economics and
the functioning of the state to
be precise. For us, the politics No more burning plastic converted to energy. By far, the
means looking at things in the This refers to Mumbai's greatest headache is plastics
broader perspective because burning question (16-29 which are neither recyclable
for any human-made disaster, February, 2016). It is an eye- nor safely disposable. Usually,
it is the common people like opener and needs serious plastic waste is disposed of
you and me who become the attention of all stake-holders. by burning, which in turn
victim. As for the points you Municipal solid waste, which produces carcinogenic gases
have raised in your letter, is dumped at municipal like dioxins and furans.
let me clear my standpoint. landfills, usually happens Our regulators have failed
We can keep on playing the to be an assorted mess of miserably to effectively
blame game for years vis-a- compostables, construction control rampant use of plastic
vis the series of unwanted debris, recyclables like metals bags, cups and pouches
happenings like the killing and papers, biomedical and both in urban and rural
of rationalists, suicide by a other hazardous wastes areas, not to speak of their
student, state atrocities on and, above all, bio-non- littering. In this backdrop,
a professor and students. degradables like plastics. it is heartening to find a
But the problem arises when There are very few instances recent directive by the Union
we give such developments of municipal solid waste being Ministry of Road Transport &
shelter by providing a mask of segregated, composted or Highways (November, 2015)
First of all, let us have a clear definition of ill-conceived belief. Everyone must ignore such
cancer and its causes, not the ones propagated foolish utterances.
by multinational drug companies and JOE BHAT TA
their interests.
RA JAN VAYAKKAT TIL Yes. It is true. The All India Institute of Medical
Do you agree with Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi has a research wing
This is all a farce. Fortunately, it costs on this.
the Union Minister practically nothing in India for making SAUMYA SINGH
of State for AYUSH, irresponsible statements from the seat of
responsibility. In fact, politicians here tend to I think our main goal is prevention. It is better
Shripad Yasso Naik, gain by speaking irresponsibly. than cure. If Yoga or any yogic technique helps
when he says that DHARMENDRA DAUKIA in preventing cancer, then there is no harm in
investigating it further.
Yoga can cure cancer? Fanatics may claim anything that satisfies their RAME SH CHANDRA RATH

6 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

05-07Letters.indd 6 07/04/16 10:17 AM

disconnect between the rigid academic innocuous but actually insidious purpose,
programmes and the real issues occurring whose fallout will be felt in the days to
in the world. come. It is indeed a sad commentary on
R BASKAR , our politicians who swear by secularism
PROFESSOR, GURU JAMBHESHWAR UNIVERSIT Y but do not hesitate to align with
whosoever has the potential to influence
voters at the hustings.
Baba black sheep VIA EMAIL
This refers to the editorial Art of gobbling
up the Yamuna flood plain (16-31 March,
2016). The Modi government and Sri Sri
Ravi Shankar have done incalculable
harm to the fragile Yamuna floodplains
Palar Centre For Learning
by holding a cultural extravaganza Krishnamurti Foundation India
there despite the National Green (A Cambridge International School)
Tribunal (NGT's) orders not to disturb
Invites teachers who are learners,
to concerned departments to make the environmental sanctity of the area. committed, brave...
compulsory use of waste plastics along Modi's deafening silence on this issue and ready to choicelessly work together
with asphalt in hot bituminous mixes for Sri Sri's obstinate reaction to the NGT's
The newest residential school under KFI,
periodic renewal of highway surfaces queries, followed by his threat to prefer we focus on individual autonomy and
around the periphery of cities having jail than to pay any fine was a sheer show intelligent coexistence among the people
populations of more than 500,000. But of arrogance. It is unfortunate that this in our community.
only time will tell whether this alternative highly publicised event has opened the
80 kms from Chennai, the campus uses
to plastic burning succeeds or not. flood gates for others to openly flout the solar and wind energy and has only dry
MUKTIPADA DAS, authority of the NGT and the judiciary. All composting toilets. Staff & students learn
KOLK ATA of us need to seriously assess the gains an environmentally sustainable way of
living while working towards a CIE
and losses of this controversial event for certication.
Highly recommended future guidance.
I enjoyed reading about the Zika virus R M RAMAUL We offer a minimum CTI of Rs 3
PAONTA SAHIB Lakhs for experienced teachers and
(Sting Chorus, 16-29 February, 2016) an apprentice programme for teachers
and congratulate Down To Earth for without experience.
bringing a complete review of the subject. Religious gurus have made deep
I just wanted to tell you that I am adding inroads into politics and have popular Work experience in any eld welcome.
a slot about the Zika virus in the teaching sanction. The editorial is a narrative of APPLY AT
programme for my students. I will a religious guru, who, a la Dale Carnegie
acknowledge Down To Earth in my lectures won (political) friends and influenced teacher-application/
and will ask my students to read your people (in government) to gobble up +917299938920
magazine. I take this step to break the the Yamuna's flanks for a seemingly



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05-07Letters.indd 7 07/04/16 10:30 AM

contents 11

So near...and yet so far Win the trophy
After four decades, conservationists
made contact with the rare Sumatran Can legalising the ivory
rhino in the Indonesian island of Borneo. trade stop poaching?
But it died due to unknown reasons

Excluding the core Weak foundation

The new plastic waste management rules The Parliamentary Standing Committee's
exclude the informal sector that manages recommendations can further dilute the
most of the plastic waste already weak Compensatory Afforestation
Fund Bill, 2015



8 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

08-09Contents.indd 8 08/04/16 12:57 PM


Human v
Will artificial
intelligence bring a
boon or doom?

Think in parallel
Loans for loos India must plan with a lateral
38 Microfinance is helping mindset as extreme weather
poor people in Tamil Nadu events are becoming the norm
to build toilets


Sweet surprise Inclusively
Indian scientists develop smart?
a new device capable of Do slum dwellers
computing different diabetic feature in the grand
tests within minutes plan for smart cities?

A new book explores the role of
culture in human evolution

Monopoly v
Competition Learn
The Ericsson case
highlights the uneasy from
50 interface between the India,
competition policy and Dilma
the patent law The Brazilian
40 president could
take lessons
SPACE from Narendra
A new dawn Modi on how
India's maiden solar mission,
55 to handle
the crisis
Aditya-I, to be launched in surrounding
2019-2020, will enhance the her leadership
world's knowledge about
the sun
Lethal green mutant
A mutation in the genes of vegetarian WORLD EARTH DAY
populations could increase the risk Tree fall
of heart disease and colon cancer The number of trees per
person has declined

16-30 APRIL 2016 9

08-09Contents.indd 9 08/04/16 2:33 PM



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Rare rhino spotted in Borneo, dies POINT

S C I E N T I S T S R E C E N T LY female died a few weeks after capture
India's average
physical contact with a critically for unknown reasons. Borneo is the
internet connection
endangered Sumatran rhino on the world's third-largest island that is
speed in the last
Indonesian part of Borneo Island. shared between Malaysia, Indonesia
quarter of 2015. It is
the slowest average
The contact was the first in 40 years. and Brunei. The capture of the rhino megabits connection speed in
The rhino was caught in a pit trap in was a joint effort between Indonesian
March in East Kalimantan province environment ministry officials, the per second Asia
in an area close to mining operations World Wildlife Fund and the Rhino
and plantations. The six-year-old Foundation of Indonesia. Source: State of the Internet Report by Massachusetts-
based cloud service provider, Akamai

16-30 APRIL 2016 11

11-15The Fortnight.indd 11 07/04/16 5:41 PM



THE FUELLERS Dung collectors at Tilda Newra, a town on the outskirts of Raipur, Chhattisgarh. Groups of them straggle along herds of cattle
throughout the day and collect the dung whenever possible. On an average, they collect 10 kg of dung to be converted into fuel cakes. India is
thought to use as much as 400 million tonnes of cow dung for cooking fuel alone each year, with approximately 30 per cent of rural fuel production
dependent on animal waste. The country faces a huge problem of fuel accessibility, with some 12 million people having no access, according to the
National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report

Karnataka abolishes China to more than triple solar

agriculture income capacity by 2020
tax; farmers relieved C H I N A P L A N S to more than
triple its solar power capacity by
2020 to as much as 143 gigawatts
K A R N ATA K A' S AG R I C U LT U R A L income to help reduce carbon emissions.
tax for planters has been abolished, starting from At a recent conference in Beijing,
April 1. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had made the Nur Bekri, head of China's National
announcement in mid-March while presenting Energy Administration (nea), said
the State Budget for 2016-17. By abolishing the the country would add 15 to 20
tax, Karnataka, India's largest coffee producer, gigawatts of photovoltaic power
has followed neighbouring Tamil Nadu, which annually in the next five years. The
abolished a similar tax in 2004. Karnataka's move numbers show that China accounted
will provide relief to about two dozen companies for more than a quarter of global
such as Tata Coffee and Bombay Burmah Trading solar additions with a record 15.1

Corporation that operate coffee, tea and rubber gigawatts of installations in 2015.
plantations in the state besides thousands of China's total solar capacity was
individual coffee growers. Plantation companies 43.2 gigawatts at the end of 2015,
had to pay a 35 per cent tax on their net income surpassing Germany as the country
in the state and the total outgo in the state is with the most installed solar cap- unted for only 3 per cent of China's
estimated at around `20 crore. acity. However, solar energy acco- electricity mix by 2015-end.

12 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

11-15The Fortnight.indd 12 07/04/16 10:20 AM


I N FO C U S I N CO U RT On March 16, the NGT ordered the

municipality of Almora and all its
India's water blues On March 17, the National Green
Tribunal (NGT) directed three firms,
members to ensure that municipal solid
waste was properly collected
Kenwood Mercantile, Goodfaith and dumped.
Builders and Nandak INFOCOM to
deposit a compensation of `one On March 22, the NGT appointed
lakh before the state Pollution Rahul Khurana, advocate present
Control Board within 3 weeks. before it as local commissioner and
asked him to submit a
On March 22, the NGT sought comprehensive report in relation
re-demarcation and exact to the collection, transportation
classification of Gram Sabha and burning of municipal solid
land encroached by discom waste in Vrindavan city.
BSES at Asola village in Delhi. Haryana
On March 16, the apex court
gave two weeks to Kalkaji Delhi Uttar Pradesh

Temple authorities to Jharkhand On March 28, the Delhi

implement measures Madhya Pradesh District Court convicted
suggested by their committee Jharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd
to clean the temple. Maharashtra
( jipl) and its two directors
On March 17, the Madhya R S Rungta and R C Rungta
India has the highest number of people Pradesh High Court in a case pertaining to
76 million in the world without access admitted the petition filed irregularities in allotment
to safe water, a recent report released by against land acquired to of the North Dhadu coal
international non-profit WaterAid rehabilitate outees of block in Jharkhand to
has revealed. Maheshwar Hydro-electric the firm.
Project and cancelled On March 17, the Nagpur bench
The report titled Water: At what cost? The
acquisition of 0.283 of the Bombay High Court
State of the World's Water names China as hectares of land owned by directed the Nagpur
next to India with 66 million people without a small farmer, commissioner of police to start
access to safe drinking water, followed by the petitioner. a helpline for citizens to report
Nigeria. Pakistan is at the 10th place. cases of violation regarding
WaterAid's analysis shows that in the noise pollution in the city,
developed world, a standard water bill is as especially at night.
little as 0.1 per cent of the income of SO FAR...
someone earning the minimum wage. Total cases on
However, in a country like India, a person COURT COURTS TRIBUNAL
development tracked
reliant on a water vendor (tanker) for their
water supply would spend as much as 17 per
since January 1, 2016 till 21 38 274
March 23, 2016
cent of their daily income on water to get
just the recommended daily minimum supply.
In India, aquifers provide 85 per cent of Don't argue for a man-killer tiger, top
drinking water, but levels are falling in
56 per cent of the country. Hand pumps court tells senior lawyer
are exacerbating the crisis in many areas by THE SUPREME Court recently told senior lawyer, Indira Jaising that human life was
depleting shallow aquifers. more important than that of a man-killer tiger. She was representing wildlife activist
The report states that poor management Ajay Dubey who had challenged a Rajasthan High Court order which upheld the state
of water resources is the biggest problem government's translocation of a 10-year-old dominant male tiger named `Ustaad' and `T-
holding India back from reaching all of its 24' from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve to Sajjangarh Zoo, 400 km away after it allegedly
population with water supplies. killed a forest guard in May last year. Jaising said that if Ustaad was forced to stay in the zoo
It highlights three reasons for people's for a further period, his health would deteriorate. A surprised Chief Justice T S Thakur then
struggle to access water: lack of money told Jaising : "How can you argue on behalf of a man-eater? Human life is more important."
or political will, government inability to deliver Compiled by DTE-CSE Data Centre. For detailed verdicts, visit
and deep prevailing inequalities.

16-30 APRIL 2016 13

11-15The Fortnight.indd 13 07/04/16 10:20 AM


This common bacterium grows better in space

S C I E N T I S T S H AV E found that of the 48 harmless bacteria Rover at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, before launch in 2004
strains they have been raising on the International Space Station grew an impressive 60 per cent better in space than the control
(iss), one has not just adapted to its new microgravity environment colonies on Earth, and it's not yet clear why. The next step will be
some 400 km above Earthit prefers it. According to a new study to perform more complex tests with the microbes, to try to narrow
published recently in the PeerJ journal, Bacillus safensis JPL- down what they respond to most strongly. The scientists have
MERTA-8-2a strain originally isolated from a Mars Exploration already sequenced the genome of B. safensis.


$309 bn
W H Y : Passing of this Bill by the
Punjab Assembly is nothing but
hogwash. It is just a pre-election sop.
The cost of cumulative damage caused to G20 First of all, this Bill had been pending
countries by climate change events from 2005 for 15 years. Why was it passed only at
to 2014 . This is as estimated by the HongKong this time? Secondly, there is nothing
and Shnaghai Banking Corporation (hsbc). substantial in the Bill. It merely
transfers debt dispute cases from civil
18 The number of extreme weather events courts to the tribunals. There are two
in 2014 that were mostly caused due to
anthropogenic influence. This is according to a
A hogwash main issues concerning farmers in
the state of Punjab. One is that money
paper by the American Meteorological Society W H O : Devinder Sharma
lenders charge them exorbitantly.
that hsbc cited. Food and agriculture policy analyst &
The Bill does not provide a cap to that.
commentator, Chandigarh
Second, if the farmer is unable to pay
39 per cent The damage incurred by China. W H A T : The Punjab Legislative
Assembly recently passed the Punjab his loan then his assets are seized. The
It was followed by the US (22 per cent) and
Settlement of Agriculture Indebtedness Bill does not do anything about that
India (11 per cent)
Bill, 2016, which seeks to provide fair too. Is it of any use then? It is merely
$44 billion The costs incurred in 2014 due settlement of debt-related disputes of making a fool of the electorate in
to extreme weather events. persons dependent on agriculture. the state.

Former Chambal dacoits now pledge to protect forests

IN A first of its kind gesture to organised by Kalpatru, a non-
save the environment, former profit. Most ex-dacoits were of
Chambal dacoits have come the view that during the heyday
together in the fight against of dacoity in Chambal, nobody
deforestation. On the eve of tried to encroach on the land
International Day of Forests in or cut trees. That was no longer
March, more than 25 former the case. The ex-dacoits urged
dacoits of Chambal gathered the government to allot regions
in Jaipur and pledged to save to each of them to protect. They
the forests from deforestation. claimed that the forests would
The former bandits made return back to their original
the pledge at a programme shape under their protection.

14 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

11-15The Fortnight.indd 14 07/04/16 10:21 AM


MP's Happiness
M A D H YA P R A D E S H Chief
Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has
announced his intention to create a
Department of Happiness on the
lines of India's neighbour, Bhutan, to
infuse positivity in the lives of people.
Happiness will not come into the lives
of people merely with materialistic

possessions or development but by
infusing positivity in their lives so that
they don't take extreme steps like
suicide in distress. Madhya Pradesh
will be the first state in the country
to create a Department of Happiness
Dryland birds in `wet' Kerala
and I got this inspiration from Bhutan ORNITHOLOGISTS AND historical weather and habitat data,
which gave the world the concept of birdwatchers in Kerala have noticed our initial findings indicate that birds
Happiness Index way back in 1970s, a very unusual and disturbing that seek drier tracts are moving
Chouhan said recently at the Madhya phenomenon. They have identified 36 into Kerala, says P O Nameer, head
Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party (bjp)'s species in Kerala in the past 15 years of wildlife research at the College of
executive meeting. The department, that have otherwise been seen only in Forestry, Kerala Agricultural University,
Chouhan added, would organise yoga, the drier parts of India. Our group has Thrissur. Among the bird species
meditation and cultural programmes been tracking the spread of dry-land identified are peafowl, the Greater
among others to keep people happy. birds in Kerala systematically and we Spotted Eagle and Desert Wheatear.
The proposal to constitute the are seeing a pattern. Even though we The fact that these birds are coming is
Department would be passed in the need to do some more work correlating an indication of changing temperature
next Cabinet meeting. our observations from the field with and also dryness," says Nameer.

Scientists at the University

of Kansas in the US, led by

Jesse Grismer, have
published maps showing
that before the final
collision of Eurasia and the
Indian subcontinent, land "The state
bridges between the government pays
landmasses may have `70 to a fodder
served as freeways of camp for the keep of
biodiversity exchange that an animal, while the
flowed in both directions. To orphanages and
state-run children's
arrive at their conclusion,
homes are paid ` 30
Grismer and his co-authors for a child per day as
performed a phylogenomic grant"
analysis of Indian Dragon Anil Bonde, Member of
Lizards, revealing multiple Legislative Assembly,
A map showing the distribution of Draconinae and the four biogeographic area (differently origins in Southeast Asia. Maharashtra
colored borders) used in ancestral range reconstructions.

16-30 APRIL 2016 15

11-15The Fortnight.indd 15 07/04/16 5:41 PM


Trashing the ragpicker

The new rules
AJA IS a waste dealer in Seema- and also to make the waste management
puri in Delhi, who employs system sustainable.
for plastic waste around 15 people to segregate The informal sector is the backbone of
mixed waste into paper, plastic waste management, especially plastic and
management exclude and bottles. His monthly income of solid waste, and yet it has been completely

the informal sector, around ~30,000 is just enough to survive,

but his business is always at stake. There
neglected in the new rules, says Shashi
Bhushan Pandit, secretary, All India Kabadi
key to their successful are many dealers without a license in the
area. There is frequent harassment from
Mazdoor Mahasangh (See How the new
rules exclude the informal sector). The
implementation the police or governmental officials who Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016
ask for a bribe, complains 48-year-old mention including waste pickers in the
SWATI SINGH SAMBYAL Raja. For many unrecognised workers like waste management system, but do not men-
| new delhi Raja, who constitute a large part of the tion how that would happen.
waste management sector in the country, The rules have introduced the concept
the long wait to get formally recognised of Extended Producer Responsibility (epr)
has ended disappointingly. for the first time, which means that produc-
The recent notification of rules for plas- ers, importers and brand owners will be
tic waste mangement by the Union Ministry responsible for plastic waste management
of Environment and Forest and Climate by opening collection centres individually
Change has once again failed to include the or collectively. Though a much needed
informal sector. The new rules which were rule, Pandit says that the introduction of
Waste pickers in Sangam Vihar, New
Delhi. Plastic production is growing 2.5
first notified in 2011 are meant to improve epr will only secure the formal sector and
times faster than the GDP in India the implementation of the previous rules, not the informal sector, which handles 20

16-17Waste.indd 16 08/04/16 4:16 PM


5.6 million tonnes The state level monitoring committee
Annual consumption Local bodies would be The producers, importers or brand
of plastic in India; 99% responsible to engage owners need to work out modalities for that would meet once in six months, shall
growth in the last 20 years civil organisations or setting up a waste collection system discuss the monitoring and implementation
groups working with either individually or collectively, of these rules.
20% waste pickers. based on Extended Producer
The committees will have bureaucrats and
of recyclable wastes (60% Responsibility, six months from
Experts doubt how this will academicians, but nobody who can speak
of it is plastic) handled by publishing these rules.
informal workers happen without formally
on behalf of the informal sector. To map the
registering the workers. A The rule does not make the integration of
progress of the inclusion, the committee should
user-friendly mechanism the informal sector mandatory. This can
2011 to register the workers, threaten the livelihoods of workers in the involve civil society, or social groups, and
India's first plastic members of the informal sector
waste management rules thus, should be developed informal sector
didn't include the
informal sector

Source: Central Pollution Control Board

per cent recyclable wastesfrom its collec- producer, and without such integration, the ity on how the municipality will channelise
tion to treatment. plan must not be approved. this money and are uncertain on the pur-
The rules assume a huge significance Municipal corporations, he adds, sho- pose of its use in plastic waste management.
if one looks at the growth of plastic waste uld enumerate waste pickers and other in- Since the amount can be rather expensive
in the country (See Plastic Platoon). formal waste workers with the help of civil for the vendors, a differential pricing mech-
According to a Central Pollution Control society organisations. Online registrations anism could have been proposed. Shops
Board (cpcb) report published in 2009, the and a frequently updated list of vendors on should be encouraged to do away with the
per capita plastic consumption in India was a web portal accessible to the public can en- plastic bags by providing alternatives such
67 kg per annum. The demand for plastic sure transparency. They should also help in- as jute or cloth bags, he adds.
raw material doubled from 3.3 to 6.8 million formal recyclers organise themselves. This To protect the livelihoods of the work-
metric tonnes during 2010-2011. In Delhi will help in implementing the rules better, ers, he suggests, more should be done. The
alone, 20-30 per cent of recyclable waste especially in areas where the informal sector framing of by-laws under epr should include
consisted of plastic till four years ago, but to- is still largely unorganised. an action plan for waste management, and
day, almost 60-75 per cent of recyclable The new rules have introduced some emphasis should be placed on recycling
waste consists of plastic, according to cpcb. necessary provisions like increasing the rather than incineration or its usage in road
thickness of carry bags and plastic sheets construction, Bhushan adds.
Who gets affected? from 40 to 50 microns. The generator will Imran Khan of Chintan, a Delhi-based
Experts doubt whether epr can work with- have to segregate the waste, and penalties non-profit which works with waste pickers
out recognising the informal workers. The as per the by-laws of the municipal body and recyclers, says waste pickers work for
informal sector in Delhi employs about 0.2- will have to be paid in case segregation is about six days per week and around 9-12
0.35 million people who transport almost not done. However, the rules fail to address hours per day without protective gear. This
1,088 tonnes per day (tpd) of recyclable the management of short-lived plastic puts them at a risk of frequent injuries like
waste, says Pandit. If Pandit is to be be- products such as disposable plates, glasses, cuts and bruises. The disposal of plastic also
lieved, urban local bodies save 80 lakh a and cutlery which are used extensively. carries severe health risks as it contains
year in Delhi because of their services. Another contentious provision is the fee heavy metals like lead, copper, cobalt, sele-
Shyamala Mani, professor, National of 4,000 per month, which street vendors nium, cadmium, and chromium, which are
Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru and shops will have to pay to provide plastic highly toxic.
says that without incorporating the infor- carry bags. Bhushan says that rule lacks clar- Though the new rules look at the bigger
mal sector, epr can never be successful. picture, plastic waste management is a local
Chandra Bhushan, deputy director gen- "The informal sector is problem. The government can set up small
eral, Centre for Science and Environment, enterprises to help the informal sector or-
suggests that the state pollution control
the backbone of waste ganise, as proposed in the epr. Providing
boards, or the approving authority must en-
management, and yet it has health and security benefits must be priori-
sure the integration of the informal sector in been completely neglected ty to safeguard their livelihoods.
the waste management plan made by the in the new rules" @swatisambyal

16-30 APRIL 2016 17

16-17Waste.indd 17 08/04/16 4:16 PM


Flawed attempt
The recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing
Committee Report can further dilute the already weak
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, 2015

NDIA'S LONG and confused chase on ue to plague the compensatory forestry re-
how to compensate the forests divert- gime (see Pushed to act p19). Unfortuna-
ed for development projects just got a tely, the recent psc report has not only
bit more complex. Notwithstanding a missed many critical issues ailing the caf
rare political consensus. Recently, the regime but also made some alarming rec-
Parliamentary Standing Committee on ommendations.
Science and Technology, Environment and This is worrying because caf 2015 al-
Forests (psc) submitted its report on the ready has too many lacunae to be plugged.
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, For starters, the bill is weaker than the
(caf) 2015, giving wide ranging suggestions caf 2008 bill, which is loosely adapted into
to the contentious proposed law. More to it, the 2015 bill. New Delhi-based non-profit
committee chairperson Ashwani Kumar, a Centre for Science and Environment (cse)
Congress member of Parliament, demand- says caf 2015 is less participatory than caf
ed immediate adoption of the bill. We are 2008, it has no time frame for creating
concerned that over `38,000 crore is lying compensatory forests, and is
unutilised under this account and The highly bureaucratic in opera-
Compensatory Afforestation Fund Bill, tions (see Getting worse
2015 should make its way in the Budget ses- with time p20).
sion of Parliament, he said.
The caf bill has always been articulat-
ed as a law to unlock the money deposited
by companies/entities taking over forest Idling away
lands for afforestation work. However, 11
years after the Compensatory Afforestation
1.3 million hectares
Forestland diverted since 1980
Management and Planning Authority
(campa) was set up by the Union gov-
ernment, problems contin-
K40,000 crore*
Total amount lying with Ad hoc CAMPA

K6,000 crore
Annual increment to Ad hoc CAMPA out of
fresh collections and interests

11 Out of the 30 states audited by CAG were

unable to spend more than half of their funds
between 2009 and 2012

7 StatesGujarat, Haryana, Kerala,

Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Punjab and
Rajasthancarried out no compensatory
afforestation between 2006 and 2012
*Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
reply to a Rajya Sabha question on March 14, 2016

18 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

18-20Forest.indd 18 08/04/16 2:19 PM


While the psc report has addressed cer-

tain critical lacunae in caf 2015, the report
has faltered in many others. It suggests re-
Pushed to act
ducing the share of National Fund, a corpus The road and struggle with compensatory afforestation continues
in caf 2015 to fund the proposed National
Authority, from 10 per cent to five per cent.
2002 | Supreme Court (SC) orders the funds are parked in bank fixed deposits
setting up of Compensatory Afforestation
This means states will have more funds for 2008 | CAF bill proposed, but lapses in 2009
Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA)
afforestation activities. It also prohibits the after 14th Lok Sabha's tenure ends
and Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF)
use of Compensatory Afforestation Funds,
accumulated in the ad hoc campa (a tempo- 2004 | Centre constitutes CAMPA, but with 2009 | SC orders release of `1,000 crore per
no prescription to establish a mechanism to year to states. Centre sets up National CAMPA
manage CAMPA funds Advisory Council and issues State CAMPA
2006 | SC orders establishing Ad hoc CAMPA
to operationalise CAMPA funds. Funds start 2015 | Reworked bill introduced in
flowing in. But without CAFs in place, the Parliament by NDA government

rary body set up in 2006), for the Green the use of native species in plantations and
India Programme, noting that it is a sepa- broadening the scope of environmental ser-
rate programme of the government having vices (including pollination and seed dis-
its own budgetary allocation. Green India persal). The report seeks clarity on infra-
Programme is a national commitment of structure development, supply of wood and
creating additional forest assets to mitigate other forest produce saving devices and
climate change, which is in sharp contrast other allied activities in the bill to avoid
to compensatory afforestation that does not ambiguity and misuse. It also recommends
create additional forests. voluntary relocation from critical wildlife
The psc report also recommends habitats which will help address this long
standing issue ailing Indias wildlife sector.
The recommendations of including
ministries of Space and Earth Sciences
in the governing body of the National
Authority and including an expert on tribal
affairs or a representative of tribal commu-
nity in national and state authorities will
make these bodies more representative and

16-30 APRIL 2016 19

18-20Forest.indd 19 08/04/16 2:19 PM


sensitive to tribal concerns. The report also

prescribes a time-bound approval (within
Getting worse with time
three months) of annual plans received How the two bills and the report fare on important issues
from the states/union territories (UTs) by
the National Authority, which will expedite CAF Bill, 2008 CAF Bill, 2015 PSC Report
the afforestation activities on the ground.
Afforestation money Prescribes 90 per cent Recommends reduction of National
Going wrong collected from a state utilisation in states/UTs Fund share to five per cent
Currently, private user agencies are man-
to be used within that state and earmarks 10 per cent
for National Fund
dated to provide non-forestland equal in
extent to the area of the forestland pro- Afforestation targets This clause is missing. This Recommends approval by National
posed to be diverted. Where non-forestland should be met within can seriously delay the Authority within three months
is not available or available in lesser extent one year or two growing utilisation of funds, a from the date of receipt of the
to the diverted forest, compensatory affor- seasons major problem annual plan of operations of
estation must be carried out over degraded state authorities
forests twice in extent to the diverted forest-
land (or twice the difference in case of a More people-oriented and No such JFMC involvement Recommends an expert on tribal
mix). Against this background, the psc re- states that All work at the prescribed. This makes the matters or a representative from
ground level shall be structure extremely the tribal community in the
port makes an alarming recommendation
executed through Joint bureaucratic and executive committees of National
that in order to meet the situation where
Forest Management non-participatory Authority and State Authorities.
enough land is not available for afforesta-
Committee (JFMC) But fails to prescribe any grassroot
tion, specific provisions should be made in
the bill for encouraging densification and
revitalization of available forests closest to
areas where deforestation is considered un- The bill mentions investment of funds, including farm forestry, strengthening eco-
avoidable on account of critically important which is not the original purpose of cafs. It sensitive zones and promoting community
national projects. Thus the bill should con- fails to provide specific periodicity for revi- conserved areas. caf money must also be
tain provisions emphasizing the same. sion of net present value (the current value of used to strengthen forest democracy by
This indiscriminate recommendation a forestland). caf, which promises to provide making communities participate in affor-
can be misused by forest authorities to divert sustainable development, is also silent on the estation activities. This will speed up forest
forests on the pretext of densification and issue of community involvement. It pre- restoration, revive the livelihood base of
revitalization of available forests with no im- scribes a heavily bureaucratic institutional forest-dependent communities and help
plied liability to compensate diverted forests. arrangement without significant public/ build a long-term people oriented forest
Given the poor track record of the forest de- community participation. Worse, the bill is economy in the country. In fact, activities
partments of letting forests degrade over dec- silent on the much-needed social or environ- under cafs have the potential to generate
ades, such a relaxation in land acquisition mental audit process too. employment to rural people, similar to
process put forth by psc seems outlandish. It So what can be done? Ecologically spe- the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural
will enhance forest degradation and worsen aking, forests once cut cannot be compen- Employment Guarantee Act, and create
irresponsible forest diversions. This clause sated entirely, at least for centuries. Despite permanent green assets for the poor for
also has the potential to curb the implemen- this fact, Indias forests, which are spread long-term ecological and economic sustain-
tation of the Forest Rights Act, 2006, espe- over a quarter of its land area, continue to ability. Ensuring the survival of planted
cially when many forest communities are be diverted for industries and develop- stock must also be ensured. Given the huge
waiting to get rights. It can also be misused ment. Since the enactment of the Forest financial resource, this opportunity should
to reduce Indias overall forest cover by re- (Conservation) Act, 1980, the government be used to design an integrated long-term
stricting compensatory afforestation. has diverted over 1.3 million hectares of national forest action plan in consonance
forests. While a complete ban on forest with national and peoples needs.
Not enough diversion is difficult, considering the While it is true that the recent psc report
caf 2015 has several other problems that immense development pressure, the gov- has suggested some positive changes in the
need to be plugged for compensatory affor- ernment must develop healthy compensa- bill, it has also suggested some that can lead
estation to be effective. cse, which recently tory mechanisms. to large-scale corruption and forest losses.
analysed the proposed bill, has found sever- The bill should be based on the princi- Parliament should review the psc report cau-
al flaws in it. It says that a look at the campa ples of healthy forest regeneration and eq- tiouslyincorporating only the positive
annual plans of operations from states re- uitable benefit sharing between the govern- suggestionsand act soon to avoid further
veals a meagre 20-40 per cent allocation for ment and the local communities. caf should degradation of forests.
afforestation activities. be used for diversifying livelihood options, @ajay_ecologist

20 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

18-20Forest.indd 20 08/04/16 2:19 PM

21 april30, 2016
21AMway ad.indd 21 08/04/16 4:09 PM

International ban on ivory trade has neither
reduced elephant poaching nor the volume of
the illegal trade. Is it time the trade is legalised?
in Hong Kong, SIFELANI TSIKO in Zimbabwe and
MANDI SMALLHORNE in South Africa, analyse how
such a decision will prevent elephant killings and
financially empower communities in Africa

Zimbabwe has an ivory

stockpile of more than
90 tonnes, worth

US $13 million, which it

wants to sell


22-32Cover Story.indd 22 08/04/16 11:34 AM


22-32Cover Story.indd 23 08/04/16 11:34 AM


LL OBJECTS are made of one hun- of conservation at wwf, Hong Kong, told Down
dred per cent genuine ivory, says To Earth. Between 2010 and 2012, more than
the shopkeeper at Ming Hing Arts 100,000 elephants were poached in Africa, with
showroom in Hong Kongs Kowloon forest elephants bearing the greatest impact, he
locality. Hong Kong is the worlds said. A cites meeting held in 2013 grouped China,
largest market for ivory and the Kenya, Malaysia, Thailand, Uganda, Tanzania,
showroom is one of Hong Kongs oldest shops sell- Vietnam and the Philippines as parties of prima-
ing ivory artefacts. The shop proudly displays a ry concern where poaching and/or illegal trade
board that reads, In business since 1952, and has in ivory is at its peak.
artefacts ranging from 10,000 Hong Kong dollars
(hkd) to 1,000,000 hkd. We show him a picture of Penalised for saving elephants
Ganesha and ask how much would it cost to get the While the cites ban has failed to protect the ele-
image carved into a 15 x 10 cm ivory idol. It will be phant, it has led to a disquiet among African coun-
98,000 hkd. Delivery in a month, he says, adding, tries like Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana,
50,000 hkd for ivory and 48,000 hkd for carving. Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania and Swaziland.
When we ask him when and where the ivory was These countries have managed to protect the an-
procured, he curtly asks us to leave. imal and its population has increased beyond the
The shop is symbolic of the global ivory trade, carrying capacity of the land. They say that ivory
which is illegal, but continues to thrive in countries trade should not be banned because they need rev-
such as China. Unofficial estimates put the annu- enue from ivory sales to fund conservation efforts.
al volume of illegal ivory trade at US $18 billion. Many of these countries have stockpiles of ivory
Ivory trade was banned in 1989 by the Con- and they want to earn from its sale. Zimbabwe, for
vention for International Trade in Endangered
Species (cites), an international agreement be- To curb trade, many
tween 181 governments to ensure that trade in countries destroy all
specimens of wild animals and plants does not ivory confiscated from
poachers or obtained
threaten their survival. The countries voted to from animals who have
place African elephants on cites' Appendix 1, which died natural deaths
prohibits trade in ivory and other elephant parts.
However, the ban caused a vertical split in
cites, with one side demanding that the trade be
declared legal and the other saying that legalising
would be fatal for African elephants, which are the
source of most of the illegally traded ivory in the
world. The issue is likely to come to a head at the
17th Conference of Parties of cites to be held at
Johannesburg, South Africa, from September 24
to October 24. cites is under pressure to devise in-
novative methods to allow ivory trade while ensur-
Most of the ing elephant conservation.
Ivory trade has caused a rapid decline in ele-
illegally phant population in the continent (see Ivory trail
traded ivory on p26). The Hard Truth, a report released by
in the world the World Wide Fund for Nature (wwf) in 2015,
comes from states that there were three million to five million
Africa. This African elephants at the beginning of the last cen-
has caused a tury but the figure came down to 0.47 million in
90 per cent 2015. The situation deteriorated particularly dur-
ing 2000-2015, when the number of elephants in
decline in central Africa declined by 62 per cent.
elephant Though habitat loss and conflicts with hu-
population in mans contributed to this decline, poaching for

the continent ivory has been identified as the biggest threat to

over the past elephants. Illegal international ivory trade has ac-
100 years tually tripled since 1998, Gavin Edward, director


22-32Cover Story.indd 24 08/04/16 12:24 PM


example, has a stockpile of more than 90 tonnes, which we could have used for conservation ef-
worth nearly US$13 million, obtained mostly from forts, says Zimbabwes Environment, Water and
elephants that died a natural death. Rather than Climate Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri.
being able to earn from it, Zimbabwe spends al- Licensed hunters pay $120,000 for an elephant
most the same amount ($13 million) every year and $60,000 for a lion, while tourists pay $3 to
on retrieving, preserving, transporting and stor- view animals, she says.
ing ivory, say wildlife officials. With the countrys Prior to a ban on trophy hunting and carry-
economy in a precarious situation, the govern- ing of ivory products on major US airlines, the ele-
ment cannot afford such expenditure. Moreover, phant-hunting industry in southern African coun-
against a holding capacity (the maximum num- tries used to generate $14 million annually. Now,
ber of elephants that a countrys ecosystem can instead of earning, they spend huge amounts on
support in natural conditions without affecting protecting the ivory stockpile. And it is not that the
its equilibrium) of 45,000, Zimbabwe has an el- elephants are now safe. They continue to be killed
ephant population of around 100,000. Till about because domestic trade is still allowed in countries
a decade ago, legal trophy hunting could pro- like Zimbabwe. In the absence of options, com-
vide the communities that manage forests under munities resort to poaching even though the lo-
Zimbabwes campfire programme (see The trophy cal market lacks the financial clout to consume
would not hold on p28) enough money to survive large amounts of ivory. MuchinguriKashiri says
in the harsh land where agriculture is not possible. the ban has actually increased poaching across
But that is no longer the case (see Hunter hunted the country. In 2015 alone, 11 suspected poachers
on p36). The US has been campaigning against were shot dead, 2,139 incursions were detected,
sport hunting and this has reduced our earnings and 1,354 local poachers and 129 foreign poachers 25

22-32Cover Story.indd 25 08/04/16 11:35 AM


IVORY 1989 The Convention for International Trade in

Endangered Species (CITES) bans international
commercial trade in elephant ivory. Zimbabwe, Botswana,

Mozambique, Malawi and Burundi announce they would leave
the convention so they could continue trading in ivory

Unofficial estimates put the annual 600,000 African elephant population

between 1979 and 1989

volume of illegal ivory trade at CITES membership: 101 countries

US $18 billion. Most of the ivory comes

from Africa. India and China are
the major carving centres,
and the US and Europe
the main markets of
finished goods



Major ivory sources

Major ivory carving centres
Major ivory markets

Infographics: Raj Kumar Singh

Compiled by: Rajeshwari Ganesan
Source: Reports by government institutes and
non-profits, and published research papers

were arrested. The country also lost 35 elephants co-founder, programme manager and principal
to poaching the same year. The government has researcher at Elephants Alive, a research organi-
roped in the army to improve security in protect- sation based in Hoedspruit, South Africa. Twenty-
ed areas. But with inadequate revenue to support two elephants have been poached from the park
these operations, poaching is likely to continue. since September last year.
MuchinguriKashiri says she will present a report Southern AfricaSouth Africa, Botswana,
on poaching to the Cabinet soon. We are holding Zimbabwe, Namibia and Mozambique, effec-
more than 90 tonnes of ivory and we are losing tivelyis the last stronghold of the African
some of the tusks, she says. Poaching will con- elephant, says Henley. Thirty years ago, this
tinue because there is a market out there. If we are region had only 21 per cent of the elephants in
permitted to do sport hunting and trade in a legal Africa; today it has over 50 per cent. A wave of
way, it will help us a lot. poaching has swept across Africa, starting in
West Africa (which has less than two per cent of its
Overpopulation and poaching elephants remaining) and taking 65 per cent of the
South Africa faces the same dilemma. The coun- elephants in Central Africa.
trys elephants have grown in numbers to a point About 0.8 million elephants have been killed
of overpopulation. Poaching cases are also on the in the last three decades, according to the Wildlife
rise. The Kruger National Park has had the high- Conservation Society, a New York-based non-
est poaching incidence within the last 15 years dur- profit. The non-profit launched a 96 Elephants
ing just the past six months, says Michelle Henley, Campaign in 2013, to highlight that 96 elephants

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Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe agree to an 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties
1997 international ban on ivory trade, but want to sell 2016 of CITES to be held from September 24 to
their ivory stockpiles. CITES approves the sales based on the October 5, 2016, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The
positive status of these countries' national herds. The "one-off discussions are likely to centre on the possibility of legalising
sale" occurs in 1999 to a single CITES-approved buyerJapan ivory trade

850,000 African elephant

population in 1999 470,000 African elephant
population in 2013
CITES membership: 136 countries CITES membership: 181 countries

China is
United Kingdom the largest
market of raw
Germany ivory
Dip in ivory
France rates
Italy Japan Raw ivory rates fell to
Spain China
South Korea $ 1,100
Taiwan per kg in 2015 from
$2,100 in 2014
Hong Kong
Kenya OR

Tanzania IV
(Delhi, Jaipur,
South Africa Lucknow,
Murshidabad and

were then being killed every day. The majority of Like Zimbabwe, South Africa is in the posses-
these deaths were because of poaching. Trophy sion of a fairly significant stockpile of ivory confis-
hunting contributes a very tiny percentage of cated from poachers or collected following natural
elephant deaths, says Henley. deaths. Currently, the countrys stand on legal ivo-
The rising elephant population is a problem ry trade is officially undecided, with huge inter-
because elephant herds can cause substantial losses nal debate in the Department of Environmental
if they enter farms. As far back as in 2008, the South Affairs, says Ross Harvey, senior researcher at
African government had lifted the moratorium on South African Institute of International Affairs,
the culling of elephants. At that time, the countrys a Johannesburg-based non-governmental rese-
environment minister, Martinus van Schalkwyk, arch institute.
said that culling would be considered only as a Theres a strong chance that South Africa will
management option of last resort. But culling has come out in support of legalising trade in ivory,
not been practised for years, and experts at the says Chris Galliers, a unit leader in biodiversity at
Kruger park say they are using natural methods the Wildlife and Environment Society of South
such as closing boreholes and allowing more Africa, a Howick-based non-profit. There is quite
natural patterns of movement to prevail by opening a prominent ideological stance that this is our ivo-
up the borders with Mozambique, for exampleto ry and we should be able to capitalise on it, says
keep the numbers down. They reckon the numbers Harvey. Moreover, in certain pockets, poaching is
have risen, but not by as much as they could have the only option available to communities to sur-
without these methods. vive. Though poachers get only about a tenth of

16-30 APRIL 2016 27

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The trophy would not hold

Zimbabwe's CAMPFIRE programme to manage wild areas was a success. But now things have changed for the worse
AFTER INDEPENDENCE animal products. The land paying the communities a diminished role of CAMPFIRE.
in 1980, the Zimbabwe still belonged to the state, dividend. At present, 58 out of
government established but benefit-sharing became But over the years, due to a 60 rural districts in the
the Communal Areas more acceptable unlike in the combination of factors, both country are members of the
Management Programme colonial era. internal and external, the programme, although just
for Indigenous Resources Proceeds from the project CAMPFIRE programme 16 of these are regarded as
(CAMPFIRE). The aim were used for the benefit weakened, and stopped "major" CAMPFIRE areas in
was twofold: to increase of communities. Under the remitting the 60 per cent it which income generation is
income opportunities in programme, rural district was supposed to give village primarily through big-game
dry and arid areas close councils were authorised to wards. Donor support trophy hunting. CAMPFIRE
to animal sanctuaries and market wildlife resources withdrawal (USAID was a director Charles Jonga
to maintain the ecological in their districts to safari major funder but withdrew says, "Currently, CAMPFIRE
balance. Income was to be operators on behalf of in 1999), poor leadership, generates, on an average $2
generated through various communities. The operators conflicts between local million in net income every
forms of natural resource would sell hunting safaris to authorities and communities, year, which is much lower than
exploitationtourism mostly foreign sport hunters political interference and poor estimated potential earnings
and sale of wild animals or and eco-tourists, before funding contributed to the for the programme."

the price, it still is a huge amount. For instance, dent, Species Conservation, Wildlife Conservation
one tusk, weighing 35-40 kg, gets a poacher over Society, says, The legal market would be supplied
$8,000 in Malawi, an east African country whose from animals in the wild now or recent past (e.g.,
per capita income in 2015 was $275. So it came sales from stockpiles of ivory and saiga horn), from
as no surprise when assistant director of National captive or semi-captive animals (e.g., rhinoceros
Parks and Wildlife of Malawi, William Mgoora, horn removed from live animals), or from farmed
announced in September 2014 that the population animals (e.g., bear bile, tiger bones). Numerous
of elephants in the country had fallen to less than plant and animal species are already subject to a
2,000 due to poaching and illegal wildlife trade. managed trade which, in many cases, is sustaina-
Illegal wildlife trade has been escalating, with re- ble; legal trade dominates the market and illegal
cent evidence [suggesting] that organised inter- trade is minimal (e.g., ornamental plants, croco-
national crime syndicate are targeting and exploit- dilian skins).
ing Malawi as a source and transit route for their In Africa, budgets are tight, and governments
illegal wildlife trade, he had said. Low per capi- have bigger priorities such as funding health and
ta income and rampant elephant poaching make education. At an international level, public sym-
The ban on Malawi an ideal country to source ivory. pathy for elephants rarely translates into cash, so
ivory trade donor funding is normally short-term and unpre-
has caused Legal market will curb poaching dictable, says Bob Smith, senior research fellow in
a vertical If the trade is legalised, there would be regular conservation science, University of Kent, the UK.
split in CITES, markets for ivory and this would help curb poach- This is why many African governments stockpiled
ing. Regulated sale of ivory can benefit conserva- ivory that was confiscated from poachers or came
with one side tion, as claimed by the countries with regulated from elephants that died of natural causes before
demanding markets [for instance, Zimbabwe, South Africa selling their ivory legally and using the money to
that the trade and Namibia]; perhaps more important, the re- fund conservation work, he explains.
be declared sults [of the study] also suggest that action to The passionate opposition to the trade part-
legal, and close unregulated ivory markets in Africa is need- ly comes from lack of awarenessmany people
the other ed to protect the elephant, Ronald Clarke, author think all ivory comes from poaching, whereas some
saying that of The International Ban on Ivory Sales and its comes from elephant deaths and herd conservation
Effects on Elephant Poaching in Africa, a paper and management. Many people are also uneasy
legalising published in The British Journal of Criminology about the idea of making money from wildlife and
it would be in 2009, told Down To Earth. are particularly uncomfortable when it involves
fatal for In an article published in Conservation animals as majestic as elephants, explains Smith.
elephants Biology in 2014, Elizabeth L Bennett, vice-presi- In An Analysis of Ivory Demand Drivers, a

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29 APR30 2016
29EFRAC ad.indd 29 08/04/16 4:10 PM

2015 study sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation In Hong Kong, nearly

242 tonnes of ivory
Society, author Daniel Stiles of the International was sold between
Union for Conservation of Nature, argues that 1990 and 2008,
Closing the legal market will not make the black an average of over
13 tonnes per year
market disappear; if anything, it will grow larger
There are more than enough elephants to supply
a legal market from natural mortality without il-
legally killing a single elephantif the ivory items
are kept expensive, which, he says, can only be as-
sured if theres a legal market.

How to legalise?
The task is to chalk out the road map to legalise
the trade. There are a few examples to learn from.
Take, for instance, crocodile farming. With de-
clining wild populations in the 1960s and 1970s,
crocodile farming began to gather momentum in
as many as six countriesZimbabwe, Australia,
Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Venezuela and
the US. During this time many countries enact-
ed legislations to protect crocodilian population,
and cites was enacted in 1975 to regulate trade in
wild species. Crocodile farming was seen not only
as a way to reduce the pressure on the wild popula-
tions, but also as a means through which commer-
cial incentives for the conservation of crocodilians
could be generated. indicates that between 2000 and April 2014, at
By late 1970s and 1980s many programmes least 1,590 tigers were poached around the world.
were being developed, based on the sustainable In the same period, the number of captive tigers in
use of crocodilians to generate conservation ben- about 200 farms in China soared from less than
efits for several subspecies, including the Nile 1,000 to 6,000.
crocodile, Saltwater crocodile, American alliga- Though there are claims that the animal is
tor, Spectacled Caiman and New Guinea croco- ill-treated in captivity, Chinas tiger farm indus-
dile. As all species of crocodilian are listed on the try vouches that the trade in captive animals
cites Appendices, international trade is regulated. helps to relieve the pressure on wild felines. Terry
Countries that are signatories to cites, and which Anderson, executive director of Property and
utilise wild crocodilian resources, must demon- Environment Research Center, a US-based non-
strate that the use does not threaten the survival governmental organisation that looks at mar-
of the species. This typically involves some sort of ket-based approaches to conservation, feels that
Closing the monitoring of the wild population to assess the im- Regulated tiger farms could provide enough tiger
legal market pacts of use, and regulation of products in trade. products to reduce the pressure on wild tigers from
will not For example, all crocodilian skins in international poaching. It would be wrong to say that by elimi-
make the trade must have a uniquely numbered, non-reus- nating the market we eliminate the demand for ti-
able tag attached to themthis allows legal skins gers. Anderson adds that the focus on the issue of
black market
to be easily identified. With only farmed crocodiles killing the animals means many animal rights ac-
disappear. being used to meet the demand for meat and leath- tivists may lose sight of the potential of what he
It will grow er, the population in wild has increased considera- calls a conservation-commodity solution.
larger. There bly. According to a 2015 report by the unep World These examples show that the demand for ivo-
are enough Conservation Monitoring Centre, the population ry too could be met by farming. It is also said that
elephants of crocodiles in the world has increased from 0.3 the tusks of captive elephants are more in demand
to supply a million in the 1960s to 2.5 million in 2013. because of their off-white buttery colour. The tusks
Chinas successful breeding of tigers in captiv- of wild elephants have black striations and the ar-
legal market
ity is another example that can be followed. Trade tefacts made of wild tusks are considered inferior.
from natural Records Analysis of Flora and Fauna in Commerce Countries with sizeable elephant populations can
mortality (traffic), the wildlife trade monitoring network, consider the option. In Zimbabwe, South Africa,

30 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

22-32Cover Story.indd 30 08/04/16 12:24 PM

and Botswana, for example, people already farm India and ivory trade
elephants on ranches for trophy hunters.
AS PER the last countrywide elephant
census held in 2007-08, India has over 27,000
The naysayers elephants and the country is one of the main
Though there have been a lot of arguments in fa- ivory carving centres of the world. India has
vour of legalising ivory trade, not everyone is con- also had its share of poaching cases. According
vinced that it would help matters. The propo- to Wildlife Crime Control Bureau of India, about
nents of legal ivory trade say that allowing sales 30 elephants were poached in August 2015
of stockpiles would flood the market with ivory from Kerala and Tamil Nadu alone. According
and bring the price down. But this did not hap- to Raman Sukumar, senior elephant biologist
pen in 2008 when cites allowed African countries at the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru,
to auction their stockpiles and China and Japan around 1,000 elephants were poached from
bought it in significant amounts. Even pre-1990 the country during 1990-2015. India is a part
ivory was allowed to be sold in this one-time sale. of CITES and is against removing the ban on
In fact, this sale of ivory is said to be the reason international ivory trade despite having an
for the continued decline in elephant numbers. ivory stockpile of around 25,000 kg, worth
George Wittemyer and five other researchers in over $275 million, stored with the forest
their study Illegal killing for ivory drives global departments of various states.
decline in African elephants highlight that illegal
killing of elephants in Africa increased significant-
ly after 2008 and correlated strongly with the lo- African elephants. The auction opened up the di-
cal black market ivory price and increased seizures minishing ivory market and its effect is still contin-
of ivory destined for China. The study, which was uing with rampant poaching of elephants, Li says.
published in Proceedings of the National Academy Even the decision to ban only the post-1990 ivo-
of Sciences in 2014, says that in Africa 29,124 tusk- ry is now considered short-sighted. Its extreme-
ers were killed in 2010 and the figure increased to ly difficult to differentiate between post- and pre-
41,044 in 2011. Li Zhang, professor of ecology at 1990 ivory, says Gavin Edward. He says that cites
Beijing Normal University, China, says that cites may not have thought of this problem while im-
move to auction ivory stockpile proved fatal for posing the ban.

16-30 APRIL 2016 31

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Legalising ivory trade will not end the ry trade and President Xi Jinping has already con-
problem, says Henley. As long as there is ivory stituted a working group to prepare an effective ivo-
available, the killing will continue. Most of the ry ban policy. The government has apprised ivory
illegal trade is, in fact, apparently happening at carvers and traders to exhaust their stock within
the less expensive end of the market, with seizure 12 months. After that ivory permits wont be re-
data showing enormous amounts entering China, newed, Li said. It means that the domestic market
explains Harvey. Henley says, If you open up the of ivory in China will be abolished by the end of next
market, you risk unintended consequences which year. Li, however, says that such country-wise ban
could be disastrous for the elephant. She adds, It will have a very limited or no impact on elephant
is poverty and unemployment that make poaching poaching. He points out that China and Hong
so uncontrollable. With the best of intentions, Kong might have huge stockpiles of ivory, but the
people around the world pour money into US and many European countries also have hun-
increasing the guns and protection in vulnerable dreds of tonnes of ivory brought through trophy
areasbut to me, thats addressing a symptom hunting. Though US President Barrack Obama
and not the cause. More money should be going has taken a tough stand on the trade of endangered
into community development and education, species, only three of the 50 states in the USNew
raising awareness of the value of this wildlife to York, New Jersey and Californiahave banned it,
the community. Li adds. This despite a recent US-China agreement
There is also a need to bring the demand of which, according to a White House press release
ivory down. Ivory is a status productit has no issued during Chinese president Xi Jinpings vis-
medicinal use, says Henley. When you know it it in September 2015, says, The United States and
is a social status artefact, what you need to do is China commit to enact nearly complete bans on
shame it. ivory import and export, including significant and
Ivory trade is unlike any other industry, says timely restrictions on the import of ivory as hunting
Harvey. There isnt enough data to understand the trophies, and to take significant and timely steps to
possible consequences of a legal trade. We have to halt the domestic commercial trade of ivory.
ban the stuff, we have to enact strong internation- Li advocates for a complete global ban with
al law and enforcement efforts. governments buying the entire stock of ivory to
Globally, a lot of effort is being made towards put an end to elephant poaching. If China is se-
continuing the ban on the trade. Even Hong Kong rious about the ban, it would buy the entire stock
has succumbed to the pressure. This January, of ivory from the market and donate it to muse-
Leung Chun-ying, head of Hong Kongs adminis- ums. No ivory in the market will end ivory trade,
tration, announced plans to ban ivory trade. At a he says. He calculates that going by the current
press briefing held after the announcement, Leung price of ivory at $1,350 per kg, and adding inven-
said, We will take steps to totally ban the sale of tory and storage expenses, China will have to invest
ivory in Hong Kong... As to the matter of timing, $84 million to buy raw ivory and another $500
we will do it expeditiously, as quickly as we can, but million to purchase carved ivory. These pieces can
this will require legislative amendments and that be conserved in a museum as an educational ini-
will be a matter for the Legislative Council. tiative to teach children about wildlife crime and
The prices of ivory are already going down. In how China ended it, Li adds. He advocates simi-
Rather than December 2015, a new research to be published lar initiatives by all the countries.
being able by Save the Elephants, a UK-registered non- Ivory is not used to make any life-saving
to earn from profit based in Kenya, indicated that the price of il- drugs. The only purpose is to carve statues and
its ivory legal raw ivory in China has almost halved over the make seals. There are already suitable alternatives
stockpiles, past 18 months. The value of raw ivory in Beijing to ivory and I think totally banning ivory trade
had tripled in the four years up to 2014, reaching should be the answer, says Jose Louies, Head,
Zimbabwe an average wholesale price of $2,100/kg, but by Enforcement & Law Division, Wildlife Trust of
spends November 2015 this had dropped to $1,100, as re- India. Ivory is not something without which we
$13 million vealed in the new study by experts on ivory mar- cannot live and farmed ivory will only increase the
every year on kets, say Lucy Vigne and Esmond Martin, authors poaching, Edwards says.
retrieving, of the study. This is because of the growing aware- This does leave the question of what is to be
preserving, ness in China about the impacts of buying ivory done with the increasing elephant population in
and the slowdown of the Chinese economy, say the the African countries that have successfully pro-
researchers in the study. tected elephants.
and storing it There is huge pressure on China too to ban ivo- @down2earthindia

32 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

22-32Cover Story.indd 32 08/04/16 12:24 PM

33Ion Exchange.indd 33 08/04/16 4:11 PM

Should the trophy hunter be driven to extinction?

34 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

34-36Cover package.indd 34 08/04/16 11:25 AM


BLACK RHINO in Namibia, a ma- conservation efforts if certain parameters are kept
jestic elephant outside Gonare- in place, such as legal limits, buffers around nation-
zhou National Park in Zimba- al parks, no illegal baiting and more. But the prob-
bwe, and Cecil the lion: it lem is that before issuing hunting permits, you need
seems like 2015 was the year of to know the wildlife population, and the govern-
the trophy hunter. As western ment doesnt have that information. It seems intu-
society digested this shopping list of threatened and itive that if you are going to shoot an animal for its
endangered species, members of the scientific cape, you want to know if that kill will hasten ex-
community, conservation practitioners, hunting tinction of the species.
associations and ecotourism operators continued
their acrimonious and long-standing debate aro- Paying to kill
und one question: should the trophy hunter be dri- Hunters have always said that they pay for conser-
ven into extinction? vation. In support of this, the Safari Club Inter-
Now would be the time to answer that ques- national has a link to a New York Times Op-Ed
tionin December 2015, the US Fish and Wildlife posted on their website. Written by Tanzanias most
Service announced that lions are now protected un- senior wildlife conservation official, Alexander N
der the Endangered Species Act of 1973, something Songorwa, the article says, Hunters pay $9,800
that prevents the import of trophies to the US, the in government fees for the opportunity [to hunt].
nation that leads the market. An average of about 200 lions are shot a year,
Wildlife filmmaker and photographer Dereck generating about $19.6 million in revenue. All told,
Joubert runs camps in Botswanas Okavango Delta. trophy hunting generated roughly $75 million
When asked what he considers to be the solution to for Tanzanias economy from 2008 to 2011. This
the problems faced by a nation like Zimbabwe, with income supports conservation in 26 game reserves,
its recent abysmal conservation history, Joubert, claims Sogorwa.
who is also the founder and chairman of the Nati- Markus Borner, former director of the Frank-
onal Geographic Big Cats Initiative, said, Follow furt Zoological Garden, Germany, who oversaw It is not trophy
the Botswana modelincrease high-value low-vol- conservation programmes in Tanzania, comments, hunting that
ume tourism; phase out high-volume tourism by It is not trophy hunting that is threatening the sur- is threatening
clustering it into limited areas; ban all big cat hunt- vival of lions in Africa. It is mainly the loss of habi-
the survival of
ing, and let the species grow back; convert hunting tat due to fast growing populations that is reducing
areas into ecotourism concessions; encourage do- wildlife. Borner then drives home an essential ele-
lions in Africa.
nor funding of parks and projects in parks. ment of the hunting argument, Whatever one It is mainly
The view that trophy hunting is detrimental to thinks about the moral of trophy hunting, the in- the loss of
species is also supported by a paper written by dustry is essential if the large reserves are to survive, habitat due to
Andrew Loveridge (the researcher who collared not just in Africa but also in Alaska. fast growing
Cecil) in which mortality among lions between Adri Kitshoff, ceo of Professional Hunters populations
1999 and 2004 in Hwange National Park, Zimba- Association of South Africa, says that the country that is
bwes largest gaming reserve, was examined. The has an estimated 20.5 million animals that can be reducing
study, published in Biological Conservation in hunted, with the off-take through trophy hunting wildlife
2007, was designed to measure the impact of sport in 2013 being just 0.002 per cent of that wildlife.
hunting beyond the park on the lion population Although this generalises the differentiation of
within the park. While hunting is not allowed in- species, Kitshoff emphasises, It just goes to show
side the park, it is permitted in the safari areas that how sustainable trophy hunting is in South Africa,
surround it. The researchers tagged 62 animals and how well our natural resources are being man-
(male and female) and found that sport hunters in aged. It creates incentives for our people to look
the safari areas surrounding the park killed 72 per after our animals by negating competition with
cent of tagged adult males. That is unsustainable. wildlife for land
There is also the view that money earned from
trophy hunting can finance conservation efforts. Communal benefits
Johnny Rodrigues, director of the Zimbabwe Con- Professional hunting associations are also quick to
servation Task Force, which carries out much of the mention communal programmes that benefit from
nature conservation responsibilities in the country, trophy fees. There are three primary examples
says trophy hunting of lions might contribute to campfire in Zimbabwe, admade in Zambia, and

16-30 APRIL 2016 35

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the Communal Conservation Program in Namibia. of land use. Michael H Knight, the chair of iucns
The director of Zimbabwes campfire pro- African Rhino Specialist Group and the director of
gramme, Charles Jonga, says, Our information science for South African National Parks, offers a
shows that communities are receiving 55 per cent concrete solution to the mess of corrupted coun-
of income directly from safari operators. We are un- tries, corporate concerns, and complicated caveats.
able to determine at this stage what the implica- There is a need for certification of hunting conces-
tions of this are on wildlife monitoring and protec- sions to promote a better hunting ethic. I would
tion... Some of this obfuscation may be due to also push for the best possible value through some
corruption, which has also been blamed on a histo- sort of ticket system for lions, leopards, elephants,
ry of violence and colonialism. buffalo and rhino, he says.
Regarding the campfire figures, Vernon Bo- That would be similar to the Forest Stewar-
oth, a wildlife conservation ecologist in Zimbabwe, dship Council brand seen on many wood products
says, You will see that it is not that easy to arrive at in the US, where certification ensures that products
an amount that each individual in a community come from responsibly managed landscapes.
would potentially receive. The number of people, Knight adds, By this I mean that the hunting asso-
in the case of campfire, is often just too many ciations will only patronise those concessions, and
to make this meaningful. So, one has to define what the professional hunters and outfitters that sign up
is meant by a community. Are there several tho- to the certification system.
usand people in a village, as in Tanzania and Mo- Rosie Cooney, the Chair of the iucns Sus-
zambique, or just a few families, as in Namibia tainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group,
or Botswana? summarises, We need to move towards such a cer-
So for the trophy-hunters fees to support con- tification system, and we need the big, developing-
servation, the issue appears to be how to define world based hunting organisations to show leader-
what is meant by community and then to devel- ship on this. Otherwise poor practices, corruption,
op incentives at the community level to encourage and unsustainability that plague some parts of the
Shifting the conservation of wildlife. Has this been done? hunting world, will completely tarnish the really
ownership and The director of southern Africas World Wide excellent examples of good practice. Currently, in
responsibility Fund for Nature, Chris Weaver, says yes. He points most areas where this high value tourist hunting is
to Namibias highly respected community conser- active, there are no other land uses that make wild-
over wildlife
vation programme. The market-based approach life, and wild areas as valuable to people as hunting.
resources to to conservation has dramatically altered the mind- If the hunting goes, it will hasten the vicious cycle
communities set of communities from animosity to that of of persecution of wildlife, agricultural encroach-
will cultivate embracing wildlife as a livelihood asset. Weaver ment, and de-gazetting of protected areas.
a sense of provides guidance to conservation partner organ- But not everyone is of the same view. Regarding
proprietorship, isations for whom the term community normal- the role of revenue raised from trophy hunting, lion
provided it ly means just a few families. researcher Craig Packer comments, Its a myth that
offers more sport hunting raises enough money to conserve lion
than the So, what's the answer? habitats. A trophy lion costs about a million dollars
alternative Allow the trophy hunter to go extinct? Perhaps the to protect through its life. Twenty hunters should
best person to answer that question is an African each pay $50,000 for a lottery tag to shoot one six-
form of land use
village resident. In an article published in The New year old maleif this isnt done, all the land set
York Times on September 12, 2015, Jimmy aside for sport hunting will lose its lions in the next
Baitsholedi Ntema says, Before, when there was 20 years, so hunting will disappear anyway.And
hunting, we wanted to protect those animals be- the trophy hunter would follow.
cause we knew we earned something out of them. It seems incongruous to have to roll this boul-
Now we dont benefit at all from the animals. The der of trophy hunting up the hill of western senti-
elephants and buffaloes leave after destroying our ment, when in effect the same Sisyphean task has
plowing fields during the day. Then, at night, the li- to be accomplished for all of biodiversity using eco-
ons come into our kraals [cattle enclosures]. system services, or with carbon trade-off plans for
Shifting ownership and responsibility over climate change. As unpalatable as it might be, the
wildlife resources to communities, many of the spe- strategy needs consideration.
cialists say, will cultivate a sense of proprietorship, @down2earthindia
provided it offers more than the alternative forms Ian Vorster is a freelance writer based in the US

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Cloud of data
R E S E A R C H E R S H A V E interpreted

Vege mute! the popular phrase "every cloud has a silver

lining" in a new way. They used cloud cover
to identify threatened biodiversity. Clouds
A mutation in the genes of vegetarian influence factors such as rain, sunlight,
populations could increase the risk surface temperature and leaf wetness
that dictate where plants and animals can
of heart disease and colon cancer survive. The study found variations in cloud
cover sharply delineated the boundaries of
ecological biomes, including tropical cloud
forests that harbor many species not found
anywhere else in the world. Clouds also helped
better predict where specific species live.
PLOS Biology, March 31


Key to virus spread

V I R U S E V O L U T I O N differs by species
of mosquito carrier. That's the finding of
researchers who studied how the West Nile
virus has evolved. They infected four different
mosquito species with the virus and used
next-generation sequencing to characterise
virus populations within distinct tissues. The
greatest accumulation of mutations occurred
in the southern house mosquito, Culex
quinquefasciatus. Diseases transmitted by
mosquitoes, including West Nile, Zika, dengue
THINKSTOCK PHOTOS and chikungunya claim several million lives

ORNELL UNIVERSITY researchers have found evidence each year. Cell Host & Microbe, March 31
that a vegetarian diet over many generations among
Indians has led to a mutation that if they stray from
a balanced omega-6 to omega-3 dietcould make people Trash the wash
more susceptible to inflammation, and by association, NANOTECHNOLOGY HAS thrown up an
increase the risk of heart disease and colon cancer. The amazing discovery. Researchers have
study found traces of a higher frequency of a particular developed a cheap and efficient method
mutation among a vegetarian population in Pune, when to grow special nanostructures, which can
compared to a traditional meat-eating population in degrade organic matter when exposed to
Kansas, usa. The mutation, called rs66698963, is an light. The discovery holds a range of
insertion or deletion of a sequence of DNA that regulates applications, including nano-enhanced
the expression of two genes that are key to making long textiles that can spontaneously clean
chain polyunsaturated fats. The insertion mutation may stains simply when put under a light bulb.
be favoured in populations subsisting on vegetarian diet. Advanced Materials Interfaces, March 23
Molecular Biology and Evolution, March 29

16-30 APRIL 2016 37

37S&T Bytes.indd 37 07/04/16 10:22 AM


Sweet I
F YOU are a diabeticand there are about 65.1 million
diabetics in Indiaor have a family history of diabe-
tes, you would know that regular monitoring through

multiple tests is the key to fight the disorder. At present,
these tests are done in labs and they take at least 24 hours
to deliver the results. They are expensive too. Instant glu-
cometers only monitor blood sugar levels and are not al-
ways accurate.
A cheap hand-held device that But this scenario could change soon. A team of re-
searchers from the Indian Institute of Science (iisc), Benga-
does multiple tests accurately luru, has engineered a device which could revolutionise di-
and quickly could revolutionise abetic treatment. The device can compute eight different
tests essential for diabetes management in a few minutes.
diabetic treatment These tests include blood sugar, hba1c (which gives a trend
of what average blood sugar levels have been over a period of
MEGHA PRAKASH weeks/months), haemoglobin, glycated albumin, microal-
buminuria, urine acr (albumin/creatinine ratio), urine cre-
atinine and serum albumin.

38 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

38-39Health.indd 38 06/04/16 4:30 PM

patients to monitor and manage their dia- found in urine, is an indicator of poor kidney
betes better. health. It can even cause kidney failure. At
To market the product, the researchers present, albumin test results take at least 48
have patented the technology and founded hours, and this device will reduce the time
a company, PathShod Healthcare Pvt Ltd. period to a few minutes, adds Chauhan.
The co-founders are Bhat, Vinay Chauhan The current market rates for these tests
(who became a diabetic when he was are expensive to say the least. While the rates
14-years-old) and Gautam Sharma. They for blood tests vary across the country, test-
have also filed for a patent for the strip. The ing microalbuminuria could cost as much as
device is pocket-sized and has a touch screen I500, urine acr test could cost I420 and the
display, just like a mobile phone. hba1c tests costs I400.
The company plans to provide the in-
Easy to use strument free to customers, so the only
Once the paper strip is inserted, the device is cost is that of the strips. Each test is likely to
automated to decipher what test is required. cost about I150 only. The price is likely to
The display screen then guides the user on dip further when the strips are manufac-
how to proceed. We are developing an ap- tured in bulk. The company is finding in-
plication for users having a smart phone, vestors for this initiative. The manufactur-
adds Sharma. The application will be con- ing of strips is now being done at iisc and a
nected to the database which will provide in- new unit is being established.
formation on test results as old as one year.
This data can be mailed to physicians to fa- Trials for accuracy
Navakanta Bhat cilitate easy follow ups. Instant glucometers in the market must
(centre) holds Conventionally, approximately 5-6 ml provide results that are within 20 per cent
the PathShodh
device he of venous blood is taken from the patients of the laboratory standard 95 per cent of the
developed and the blood sample is stored at an ambi- time. However, a number of factors affect
along with
Gautam Sharma ent room temperature. However, the Path- its accuracy. These include calibration of
(right) and Shodh device requires only a tiny blood drop meter, ambient temperature, pressure use
Vinay Chauhan
(left) at the (less than 20 microlitre). Since the device to wipe off strip, high levels of certain sub-
Indian Institute doesnt require sample preparation, no stances such as ascorbic acid in blood, dirt
of Science,
Bengaluru chemicals and reagents are required. This on meter, humidity and aging of test strips.
further cuts costs, Bhat told Down To Earth. Keeping these errors in mind, Bhats
He says developing the test for albu- team is busy testing the device. The re-
The technology is non-invasive and do- min was challenging because it is a protein searchers say that the device is accurate as
esnt require medical procedures like sample and acts as an insulator, not allowing elec- results show a plus-minus 20, which is a
preparation and storage. Using the device is tric current to pass through it. Since our in- gold standard accepted worldwide. The
also simplea prick for a drop of blood that vention is based on the principle of electro- device is being tested by S S Srikanta of the
has to be placed on a paper strip, and in less chemistry, we found it difficult. To resolve Samatvam Endocrinology Diabetes Center
than two minutes, the results flash on the the problem, we designed paper strips to in Bengaluru. Srikanta, who has been test-
digital monitor. measure the metal ions that attach them- ing the PathShodh device for the past five
Navkanta Bhat, the lead research- selves to the protein molecule. The biomark- months, says this device will be very useful in
er at the Centre for Nano Science and er for testing this protein is directly propor- every healthcare situation, especially in re-
Engineering (cense) at iisc, says the device tional to the amount of metal ions present, mote clinics and primary healthcare centres.
will help healthcare professionals, physi- adds Bhat. A diabetic needs to frequently Sharma says the device will be available
cians and, more importantly, individual monitor albumin levels, a protein which if through hospitals and physicians but will
not be immediately available as an over-
the-counter product. The researchers re-
The technology is non-invasive and using the device cently demonstrated their device during
is simplea prick for a drop of blood that has to the Festival of Innovation at Rashtrapati
be placed on the paper strip and in less than two Bhavan in New Delhi.
minutes, the results flash on the digital monitor @megha_prakash

16-30 APRIL 2016 39

38-39Health.indd 39 06/04/16 4:31 PM


A new awakening
When India
HOUGH THE sun marks the differ- failed to grow. In Ireland, a famine and a
ence between a habitable world subsequent typhoid epidemic killed 65,000
launches its maiden and a barren wasteland, we are on- people, says Bill Bryson in A Short History

Aditya-1 Mission, ly beginning to understand the var-

ious dynamics of our parent star. The yellow
of Nearly Everything.
More than 20 international space mis-
it will further ball of gas that brightens up our days (and
nights) shapes the physical processes on
sions are trying to understand suns struc-
ture and composition. Now India is gearing
illuminate our Earth and sustains our foodchain. Earths up to launch its maiden mission, Aditya-1,

understanding of climate is governed by the sun and the suns

variability is a hotly debated issue in climate
which will be launched in 2019-2020. More
than 50 solar scientists from 10 institutions
the sun science. For instance, the Little Ice Age of
1816 was the result of a mere one degree fall
across the country are working round the
clock to shield us from the impacts of unru-
JIGYASA WATWANI in global temperatures. 1816 came to be ly space weather and suns variability on
known as the year without summer. Crops Earths climate. When Aditya-1 is launch-


40 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

40-42Space.indd 40 06/04/16 4:07 PM

Sun surfing Light alight
What other sun missions are
Prototype of India's Aditya-1; what its various trying to find out
components will study, and why

HEL1OS 1995

PAPA SOHO changed our understanding of the

sun, from a static object to a dynamic
beast. The mission is now studying sun's
interior, solar wind and solar corona


Aims to understand the causes
and mechanisms of coronal mass
SoLEXS ejections and how they propagate
through the heliosphere

ASPEX: Will study the variation, distribution and spectral characterstic of solar wind HINODE
WHY: Solar wind can affect our power lines, communication satellites and high NASA/JAXA/ESA*
altitude spacecraft Intends to study the magnetic
VELC: Will study the parameters of the solar corona and origin of Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) activities on the photosphere
WHY: CMEs can collide with Earth's magnetic field and change its shape and its effect on the corona
SUIT: Will image the photosphere and chromosphere in UV range
WHY: A better understanding can help us keep track solar flares emanating from the photosphere
SoLEXS: Will monitor X-ray flares to study the heating mechanism of the corona
WHY: Energy from X-ray flare can disrupt radio waves, causing blackouts in navigation and
communications signals

PAPA: Will study the composition of solar wind and its energy distribution Has been to be able to send data
WHY: Solar wind can disrupt communication and navigation satellites 24 hours a day. The mission aims
HEL1OS: Will observe the dymanic events in the corona and estimate the energy used to to study the solar magnetic field
accelerate the particles during the eruptive events
WHY: An estimate of the energy can help us shield ourselves in an effective and timely manner

ed, India will join a select group, which in- outstanding problems of solar physics, says
cludes usa, Japan and the European Space Karnik (see Sun surfing).
Agency, that have sent missions to the sun. We are in the process of designing the
payloads. Aditya-1 will be launched from NASA
What Aditya-1 will study Sriharikota, an island off Sullurupeta, a sm- The mission is studying solar wind as well
Our primary objective is to study the solar all town in Nellore district, Andhra Pra- as understanding energy transport from
the photosphere to the corona
corona, processes leading to changes in it, desh, Karnik says.
and to understand what heats the corona. The other institutes working on Aditya-1
Observations of suns photosphere, chromo- include the Indian Institute of Astrophysics,

sphere and corona are also possible, says Bengaluru, which is working on the Visible SOLAR PROBE PLUS
Deviprasad Karnik of the Indian Space Re- Emission Line Coronagraph (see interview), (TO BE LAUNCHED)
search Organisation (isro), which is leading the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmeda-
the mission. bad, which is working on the Aditya Solar NASA
The corona is the outermost layer of the Wind Particle Experiment and the Vikram
The proble will go as close as we have
ever gone to the sunone quarter of the
suns atmosphere, preceded by the chromo- Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapu-
distance between us
sphere and photosphere respectively. The ram, which is working on Plasma Analyser
mission will provide a multi-pronged holis- Package for Aditya.
* NASA: National Aeronautics and Space Administration;
tic approach to understanding some of the When the mission was first conceptual- JAXA: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency; ESA:
European Space Agency
16-30 APRIL 2016 41

40-42Space.indd 41 06/04/16 4:07 PM

INTERVIEW ised in 2008, its launch was envisioned to More than 50 solar
coincide with solar maximaa period of in-
scientists from 10 institutes
`Aditya-1 will tense sun activity that occurs every 11 years.
However, it was later decided that the satel-
across the country are
take images lite would be placed in a halo orbit around working to shield us
from the impacts of
every second' lagrangian point 1, which is 1.5 million km
from Earth (where a satellite can maintain unruly space weather

IPANKAR BANERJEE of its position with respect to other bodies). and sun's variability on
the Indian Institute The initial concept was to put the corona- Earth's climate
of Astrophysics (IIA), graph payload in a small satellite in an 800
Bengaluru, which is one of km low Earth orbit. Aditya-1 is an updated
the institutions working on Mission version of the original Aditya mission with ense significance. On the night of Sep-
Aditya-1, speaks to Down To Earth six additional payloads, adds Karnik. tember 2, 1859, the world woke up to red,
The advantages of placing the satellite green and purple auroras that had erupted
What specific area of the mission is in a halo orbit are many. Situated outside nearly everywhere on Earth and not just at
the IIA working on? Earths atmosphere and magnetosphere, it the poles where they are a characteristic
IIA is making the Visible Emission remains unaffected by Earth. A halo orbit feature. Telegraph systems were disrupted
Line Coronagraph (VELC), which also ensures that there is no occultation for as the world witnessed its first recorded so-
is one of the main the spacecrafts line of sight. Moreover, a sat- lar flare, also known as the solar storm of
payloads. Coronagraph ellite placed in a halo orbit experiences much 1859. And as recently as on July 23, 2012, a
creates an artificial less mechanical and thermal disturbances, solar storm, touted to be as strong as the
total solar eclipse in and is, therefore, more stable. one in 1859, was predicted. Fortunately, we
space by blocking the missed it by a weekEarth had moved
sunlight by an occultor. What past missions have found ahead in its orbit.
This telescope will have Other sun missions have added gravity to our Disruptions in the solar atmosphere and
capabilities of spectral understanding of the sun. The Solar and surface can also cause a flurry of solar activi-
imaging of the corona Heliospheric Observatory (soho), a collab- ty that affects space weather. A better under-
in visible and infra-red. oration between the European Space Agency standing of the sun can also help in aeronaut-
We are in phase 1 of and the National Aeronautics and Space ics (high-altitude aircraft exposure to
the mission. Design and review are Administration (nasa), celebrated its 20th radiation), astronautics (radiation threat to
almost complete. anniversary on December 2, 2015. soho astronauts and spacecrafts) and technology
changed our popular view of the sun from a infrastructure development (effects of radi-
What is going to be the payload picture of a static, unchanging object in the ation on communication satellites).
capacity of the mission? sky to the dynamic beast it is. It showed us As new frontiers in scientific enquiry are
The coronagraph is the biggest what we had never seen before. We realised being conquered, they are only throwing up
payload occupying 60 per cent we need more eyes on the sun, says Bernhard more questions. The next frontier in our un-
of weight of the instruments on Fleck, a project scientist with soho. derstanding of the sun is to measure its polar
board Aditya-1. Using this payload, This gave birth to a plethora of space- regions with the same instrumentation we
we want to study the dynamic based solar observatories: Hinode, the Solar use near the equator. At present, we have very
changes in the sun. Dynamics Observatory (sdo), the Interface few measurements from above the poles,
Region Imaging Spectrograph and the Solar says Pesnell. Better predictions will lead to
How is Aditya-1 different from and Terrestrial Relations Observatory. nasas a more cost-effective response. Power plants
previous missions to the sun? sdo has been recording the suns dynamic so- that will be affected can be isolated; satellites
Aditya-1 is a multi-wavelength lar activity since its launch on November 2, can be tuned to power off sensitive high-volt-
observatory which will look 2011 (see Light alight). age components, and, astronauts in deep
at different layers of the solar The scientific objective of the sdo mis- space can get into a safe shelter before the
atmosphere. Aditya-1 is different in sion was to understand the lifecycle of the so- danger arrives, adds Pesnell.
many ways. Take NASA's STEREO. lar magnetic field. We wanted to understand Aditya-1 will hopefully reveal, among
It has two coronagraphs and one how the suns magnetic field is generated, other things, why the solar corona heats up
imager. The coronagraphs on board how it moves around the sun, and how it is to temperatures of a million degrees or so,
STEREO take images every 10 destroyed. With this understanding, we sou- much higher than the visible outer layer of
minutes, and probes only at the outer ght to develop the science needed to predict the suns surfacethe photosphere. Fin-
corona. Aditya-1's VELC, on the other solar activity, says Dean Pesnell, a project dings that will unlock the secrets to our un-
hand, will look at the inner corona scientist with sdo. derstanding of our parent star.
and will take images every second. Predicting solar activity assumes imm- @jigyasawatwani

42 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

40-42Space.indd 42 07/04/16 11:57 AM


43 APRIL30 2016
43USIEF ad.indd 43 08/04/16 4:11 PM

The rise of the machines

Artificial Intelligence is riding on both hope
and fear. Here's why

AST MONTH a computer program called AlphaGo telligence. So, for problems that require sorting out and
took on one of the greatest players of the complex interpreting gobs of data, such as managing peak-hour
board game, Go, and beat him four games to one. traffic, or making sense of census data, smart algorithms
Lee Sedol, the South Korean Go master, lost $1 mil- should be our go-to thing. But when it comes to making
lion, offered as prize money by Google, the challengers policies or laws on complex subjects like nuclear power
proprietor. But, more momentously, his humbling has or juvenile crimes, it is best to leave AI out of the picture.
taken the battle of wits between machines and humans At the other extreme, some Cassandras fear that AI
to yet another level. could potentially turn into a Frankenstein nightmare.
To be sure, this isnt the first time software has got Critics say its merely a trope exploited by sci-fi writers,
the better of an exceptionally clever human. In 1997, but there are valid anxieties over AIs military applica-
ibms Deep Blue had checkmated Garry tions. Even physicist Stephen Hawking
Kasparov, the erstwhile world chess believes that AI could spell doom for hu-
champion. Deep Blue triumphed be- man existence. In cue with such con-
cause its brute computing power enabled cerns, some people have started creat-
it to dive deep into chess archives and ing moats against such Trojan horses.
quickly come up with the most winna- DeepMind, Googles AI arm and devel-
ble move. AlphaGo too exploits the same oper of AlphaGo, for instance, has put to-
processing agility and thick memory but, gether a safety and ethics board to ensure
unlike Deep Blue, it is also groomed to that such technologies are not hijacked
be an autodidactit can become smart- for evil designs. All of this may sound a
er by playing against itself and, just like bit fantastically alarmist, especially fears
we do, commit that learning to memory, about robots enslaving us, but make no
thus creating a primitive analogue of hu- mistake: wittingly or unwittingly, we
man experience or intuition. are already caught in the ever-expand-
Many have dubbed AlphaGos victo- ing web of AI software. What are Google
ry as spectacularly precocious and path- search and maps, if not one of the many
breaking. They believe that algorithms like AlphaGo will tentacles of this web?
eventually make human tasks and skills that entail trawl- The trouble is that some of this software is so efficient
ing through and parsing reams of data, such as diagnos- and smart that before we know it, we are hooked. For in-
ing disease, predicting weather or even detecting art for- stance, anyone who relies on Google maps for directions
geries, easier and more accurate. while driving would be totally lost without it. That said,
However, some observers, though in a minority, are isnt that generally true of our relationship with technol-
not euphoric about artificial intelligences (AI) latest ogy? It is almost always a trade-off between aesthetics
poster boy. They contend computers were in any case de- and ethics on the one hand, and economics and efficien-
signed to excel in solving complex puzzles like chess and cy on the other.
Go, and as they become more powerful and their algo- Besides, we are too intellectually arrogant to brook
rithms cannier, machines will eventually make humans any challenge from even other species, let alone ma-
pass in data-heavy tasks. But luckily for us, a majority chines, which, ironically, are products of the same hu-
of human endeavours require unprogrammable traits as brisKasparov blamed ibm of foul play while Sedol
empathy, ethics, esprit de corps, and irrationality. vowed never to play against a machine. Burton suggests
American neurologist Robert Burton believes it is a graceful way out of this Catch-22: Rather than fret-
unhelpful to pit AI against ours. Instead, he proposes that ting over what sources of pride machines will take from
we should humbly concede that AlphaGo is a new kind of us, we should focus on those areas where man alone can
intellect, though utterly devoid of moral or emotional in- make a difference.

44 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

44Column.indd 44 07/04/16 10:22 AM



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45Triveni ad.indd 45 apr30,16 Down To Earth4:1245

08/04/16 PM

As one billion people in 192 countries pledge to do their bit to save trees
this Earth Day on April 22, the conflict between human habitats and
trees becomes clearer. Tree growth is condusive in wetter and warmer
regions, which even humans prefer. As a result, trees are now forced
to grow in dry regions such as the American West

1 Density plot

91,000 Density plots

Global tree cover

Map highlights the eco-regions from which the 429,775

ground-sourced measurements of tree density were
collected. Shading indicates the total number of plot
measurements collected in each eco-region. A global forest
map was overlaid in green to highlight that collected data
span the majority of forest ecosystems on a global scale.
A tree is defined as a plant with woody stems larger than Number of trees per person
10 cm diameter at breast height Deforestation and changes in
land-use patterns are the major
Prepared by DTE-CSE Data Centre
Infographics: Raj Kumar Singh; Analysis: Rajit Sengupta reasons for the loss of trees
Data source: Mapping tree density at a global scale report, published in
Nature on September 10, 2015. For more such infographics visit:

46 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

46-47World earth day.indd 46 08/04/16 11:30 AM

749.3 Before cities were born
(1,200 years ago)

6.5 trillion 1.3 million

The number of trees when humans Trees per person
started to settle in cities

Today's story

3.04 trillion 429

The number of trees in the world today Trees per person

3 6
15 billion

Boreal forests



Trees lost every year due to


deforestation and land-use changes

gra forest
Mo iterra Mang

ed gr




nta nea

b fer

ra te c
pe erat sslands


T Temp te gra
Tem pical coni
Tro ry
Tropical d
Tropical grasslands
Tropical moist
94.9 799.4

Trees in major terrestrial biomes (in billions)


282,900 28 Less than one
*British overseas territory

16-30 APRIL 2016 47

46-47World earth day.indd 47 08/04/16 11:31 AM


Flush W HEN BHANUMATHI'S son got married, she faced a

strange situation, which threatened to divide her
family. Her daughter-in-law left the house as she
simply refused to defecate in the open like her

mother-in-law. We are not economically well-off and could not
bear the expenses of constructing a toilet, confesses Bhanumathi,
a resident of Sellipalayam village in Tiruchirappalli district, Tamil
Nadu. Help came in the form of a microfinance programme of

Gramalaya, a non-profit, which provides loans for constructing toi-
lets. Her daughter-in-law has now returned home, and the family
is now living a dignified life.
Bhanumathi is not alone. Over 73 per cent of rural Tamil Nadu
defecates in the open. The construction cost is a major deterrent for
poor people. It equals our monthly income, says Trirathimala of
Microfinance is helping Chettikulam village in Tiruchirappalli district. Realising this crit-
poor people construct toilets ical gap in providing sanitation, Gramalaya started a microfinance
programme, the Gramalaya Urban and Rural Development Initia-
in Tamil Nadu tive Network (guardian) in 2007 and targeted womens self-help
groups (shgs) . Women play a very crucial role in decision-making
RASHMI VERMA | tiruchirappalli in any household. The mobilisation of shgs helped reduce physical
and emotional barriers to avail commercial credit and increase in-
vestment in sanitation facilities, says M Elangovan, executive di-
Microfinance has increased the bargaining power of women, who are rector of Gramalaya.
typically more interested in bringing sanitation home


48-49Good news.indd 48 06/04/16 4:31 PM

Sanitation surge

Over 60 per cent of loans

disbursed by GUARDIAN were
for constructing toilets
Water loans
Sanitation loans
Other loans (biogas, water purifier, etc)


Number of loans

Though ECOSAN toilets are expensive, they generate excellent fertiliser and conserve water Source: Compiled from annual reports of GUARDIAN

The establishment of guardian has purifier loans, it received the maximum Andy Barebery, an economist with the
helped mobilise funds so that individual number of applications for sanitation loans. University of Massachusetts, usa, who has
linkages between shgs and local banks for Of the 70,595 loans disbursed by guardian been closely working with Gramalaya, feels
toilet construction are strengthened. Gram- till 2015, 45,055 were for constructing toi- there are strong externalities to sanitation.
alaya provides community mobilisation and lets (see Sanitation surge). Microfinance increases the bargaining po-
facilitation support, and sanitation loans are wer of women, who are typically more inter-
disbursed by guardian with technical sup- Eco models ested in improving sanitation facilities, says
port from non-profits such as But providing sanitation loans is just a part Barebery. Theres always a huge response
and Basix. of Gramalayas interventions. To ensure the- from the community during microfinance
Jayshree, who is among the 70 commu- se toilets are integrated with nature, the exercises, says S Mohanmed Sheriff, proj-
nity health educators working with Gram- non-profit is promoting two eco-friendly ect director with Gramalaya.
alaya, says, A maximum loan of up to toilet modelstwin-pit toilets and ecosan One of the most significant outcomes of
I14,000 is given as per the requirement toilets. Though ecosan toilets are expensive, microfinance for sanitation is that with the
of the borrower. The beneficiary has to they generate excellent fertiliser that help availability of capital, women have got em-
return a monthly installment of I980 (vari- increase crop productivity. It also conserves powered, and they take keen interest in
able with loan taken) for 18 months with an water. The quality and quantity of our crops utilising the loan for sanitation.
interest rate of 18 per cent. The repayment have improved as we use compost from the Gramalaya is now expending its work in
rate is 98 per cent. The beneficiaries, main- ecosan toilet, says Kamalaveni of Naras- 286 slums that come under the Tiru-
ly women, are selected on the basis of their ingapuram village. chirappalli City Municipal Corporation
age, whether they either own the house or In Kavalkaraipariyom, Tiruchirappalli (tcmc). It is also planning to construct 1,000
have land, and whether they are physically district, twin-pit toilets have been con- toilets each month in the villages of Tiru-
challenged. structed. These toilets have a prolonged life chirappalli in collaboration with WaterAid,
The impact has been telling. Within a cycle and are cost-effective. The faecal slu- Acumen, and the tcmc. This success of this
year, Thathaiengarpet block in Tiruchira- dge is converted to compost or biosolid and initiative shows that microfinance can help
ppalli district was declared open defecation can be used to enhance the fertility of the fill critical gaps in the sanitation sector. But
free. So far, 56 of the 404 panchayats in the soil. Both toilet models are highly decentral- more importantly, the initiative has provid-
district have been declared open defecation ised in terms of operation and maintenance ed self-respect to the marginalised. Like
free. Though guardian offers various kinds and have been appreciated by the people in Bhanumathi, who was able to save her sons
of loans, including water, biogas and water the region. marital life.

16-30 APRIL 2016 49

48-49Good news.indd 49 06/04/16 4:31 PM


Cultural calling
Henrich attempts a thrilling adventure in the fierce
interplay between genes and culture in human evolution

The Secret of Our Success: How

Culture Is Driving Human Evolution,
Domesticating Our Species, and
Making Us Smar ter Joseph Henrich
Princeton Universit y Press | `1,491 (hardcover)

ABOUT FOUR million years ago, an ape that walked on two natural selection has conferred special cognitive abilities on us that
legs emerged in eastern Africa. It had brains only slightly are coded into our genes, most notably with respect to two skills:
bigger than a chimpanzee, but its freed fore limbs meant working memory and information processing and scheming in a
it could do things that its quadruped cousins couldnt Machiavellian world. The first is self-explanatory. The second
wield a sharp stone to cut flesh, for instance. Over the next two alludes to the view that our brains grew bigger and we smarter in a
million years, the capricious chisel of nature and chance sculpted sort of arms race in which individuals competed in an ever-
this new ape into our earliest ancestor. Eventually, about 50,000 escalating battle of wits to strategically manipulate, trick, exploit,
years ago, this early human gave rise to its modern vintage, who at
some point left the African shores and gradually spread across the
world as the preeminent human species by the sheer dint of its
intelligence. Or so the story has been told a countless times over, each
adding its own embellishment. But the main arc of this standard
narrative has remained largely unaltered ever since Darwin pub-
lished The Descent of Mannatural selection or genes shaping our
brains, which, in turn, fashioned our behaviour and culture.
Joseph Henrich in his provocative book, The Secret of our
Success, dares to unsettle this evolutionary doctrine. Collating
findings from a melange of disciplines like anthropology, palae-
ontology, behavioural economics, and psychology, he seeks to make
culture as the centrepiece of our evolutionary history. He claims that
ever since the first ape stood up, genes and culture have been
engaged in an intricate evolutionary tango. Even more audacious,
he posits that while genes were the dominant partner for the first
few million years, once we became a cultural species, which is around
one million years ago, it is culture that has been leading the dance.
Henrich, an evolutionary biologist at Harvard University, de-
fends his hypothesis by asking fundamental question: what makes
us smart or unique? He then provides the mainstream theorys
answers, and then one by one, picks holes in them. Take the most
common one: we are smarter simply because we are more intelligent.
Henrich refutes this view citing a landmark study that found no
difference between adult apes and toddlers in cognitive skills related

to space, causality, and quantity, despite toddlers having much larger

brains. In fact, in some tests the apes did much better. The only skill
in which the toddlers beat the apes had to do with social learning.
Another conventional explanation for our smartness is that


50-51Book.indd 50 07/04/16 10:24 AM

and deceive each other.

Henrich offers two much-cited studies that pitted chimpanzees
against university students and found that humans didnt exhibit a
significant edge. In Henrichs view, this simply suggests that THE KEY to understanding Fuegian arrows, and Fijian fish
although we are an intelligent species, we are not nearly smart how humans evolved and taboos to numerals, writing,
enough to account for our species ecological success. For instance, why we are so different from and the abacus.
he cites the chilling saga of how an expedition of British explorers, other animals is to recognize Once these useful skills and
headed for the Arctic, perished when marooned on an island. An that we are a cultural species. practices began to accumulate
apparently superior brain, that can build advanced technologies like Probably over a million and improve over generations,
a ship, was useless when it came to surviving in an unfamiliar setting. years ago, members of our natural selection had to
Henrich contrasts this with an equally incredible story of an evolutionary lineage began favour individuals who were
aboriginal woman who found herself stranded all alone for 18 years learning from each other better cultural learners,
on her island-village 70 km off the Los Angeles coast. Since she had in such a way that culture who could more effectively
grown up on the island, she had the skill-set to survive against the became cumulative. That is, tap into and use the ever-
odds. Through these stories, Henrich wants to drive home the point hunting practices, tool-making expanding body of adaptive
that our ecological pre-eminence stems less from our larger brains skills, tracking knowhow, and information available. The
or superior intelligence and more from our social and cultural ability edible plant knowledge began newly produced products of
to learn, cooperate, and adapt in a challenging environment. to improve and aggregate this cultural evolution, such
He then unravells how humans became a cultural species with by learning from others as fire, cooking, cutting tools,
brains biased in favour of learning from others, and how culture so that one generation could clothing, simple gestural
leaves an imprint on our bodies and minds. For instance, he argues build on and hone the skills languages, throwing spears,
that complex cultural traits, such as respect for elders, or affinity for and knowhow gleaned from and water containers,
ones community are reflections of a mind shaped by genes that the previous generations. became the sources of the
nature has selected over eons. Conversely, he cites three well- After several generations, main selective pressures that
documented cases in which he believes the spread of certain cultural this process produced a genetically shaped our minds
practices may have engineered genetic changesthe appearance of sufficiently large toolkit of and bodies. This interaction
practices and techniques that between culture and genes,
individuals, relying only on or what I'll call culture-gene
their ingenuity and personal coevolution, drove our species
experience, could not get down a novel evolutionary
anywhere close to figuring pathway not observed
out over their lifetime. We will elsewhere in nature, making
see myriad examples of such us very different from other
complex cultural packages, speciesa new kind
from Inuit snow houses, of animal.

blue and green eyes in some people living around the Baltic sea for
whom cereals was the main staple; the probable link between the
expansion of rice farming and the spread of a new gene that breaks
down alcohol more efficiently in the liver; and, the huddling of genes
favourable to lactose tolerance among Europeans.
While one is impressed by his attempt to rewrite the story of
human evolution with culture as the main protagonist, culture is so
humongous, complex and nebulous a concept that at the end of it,
one feels more seduced than convinced. At times, he is even guilty of
making presumptuously sweeping propositions such as prestigious
people are often generous, or that lower-status individuals tend to
admire and imitate prestigious individuals more than dominant
ones, or that elders lose their prestige in rapidly changing societies.
Still, The Secret of Our Success is a bold and thrilling theoretical
adventure into the borderland between genetics and culture. More
importantly, it is a welcome harbinger for future collaborations
between science and social science on the ever-contentious yet
fascinating subject of culture. 51

50-51Book.indd 51 07/04/16 10:24 AM

The skyline of Delhi looks beautiful through the window of the metro train, giving it the `world
CLASSROOM class look'. But a city is not about its skyline only. It's about the residents as well. People
come to this city from different places and slowly develop a sense of belonging to it.But not
everyone is fortunate to get a place in the formal city.

Life in informal
Do slum dwellers feature in the
grand plan of smart cities?
SORIT GUPTO A vast number of people are forced to live in the informal city, the slums .
According to the Census 2011 data, over 65 million Government data acknowledges that slum But they lack basic civic services like safe drinking
people in India live in slums. The number will swell dwellers participate in the workforce at a water, sanitation, solid waste management and
to 104 million by 2017. higher rate than the urban average. street lighting.

The Census defines a slum as a residential area where Civic bodies do not provide the required municipal
dwellings are unfit for human habitation. services in slums.
Slum dwellers also face social burdens and health problems 12 Dec '15-Ramvilas was unloading the Ramvilas knows its meaning. He ran towards
worse than their non-slum and rural counterparts. cement bags in Shakoorbasti Cement yard. his hut in the nearby slum.
Devastation of slum by fire is as common as the
Oh No
not again!!!

ravaging of a slum by bulldozers by the civic autherities to

free the state land of illegal encrochment. As It had Everything was usual till he heard a voice, What he saw on reaching there was a number
happened in a slum near the Shakurbasti cement yard. Masheen aaya! Masheen aaya! of bulldozers.
Smashing and demolishing his home, his slum, Even media persons covering the event Thousand families were left homeless.
destroying and flattening whatever came under their were not spared.
mighty wheels. Somewhere in this
rubble were my
belongings, my home.

And a large contingent of police force chasing away the The residents were allowed to return Like other people of the slum, Ramvilas had no clue
residents trying to save their belongings. only in the evening. about what to do.

52 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

52-54Comic strip.indd 52 07/04/16 10:25 AM

We unload cement Kuddus is from Alamnagar-Lakshmania
If you want to in Madhepura district of Bihar. He is one
bags from railway to know our This slum is our ...For five thousand people
bogies and load them plight... Kuddus bhai of the oldest inhabitants of this slum only shelter. And there is just one water tap.
onto trucks... look how we are No electricity , no toilets
I have been Nothing is left living... nothing.
here since
1978. in the village.
My Indira Awas
home has been
snached away We steal water
by puncturing nearby
municipal water

Another labourer said Cement decays our

Every time we built
our homes government legs and hands. We
smashed them with the don't have any medical
bulldozers fecility
Most of us
have breathing
Don't we have problems, even TB We live in
the right to cement, we die
have a roof becuase of it
above our

Women are the main victims. After the demolition

drive on 12th December, Government had sent water tankers for a
Rajina Khatun, a resident, says
railways distributed couple of days. Then tankers stopped
food packets comming. We have no water to drink, let
are not new alone to meet our other daily needs
for us.

Usman, a lobourer, said Living with double-edged sword

I have been
living here
since it was a We have nothing
For fear of to eat. How can we
mere sapling bulldozers earn without work?
we can't
go to work
This tree is more
fortunate. Unlike us
at least it is allowed
to develop Its root
over here

16-30 APRIL 2016 53

52-54Comic strip.indd 53 07/04/16 10:25 AM

After the uproar over the death of a kid Resident Arun Kumar shows identity cards provided to
during the demolition drive, state lent the residents of the slum by different state authorities
a hand of support, temporarily
We are provided
with candles as
What's the use of these
cards when we can
be rendered homeless
any time?

Shamsuddin, son of a labourer, studies in

We made Delhi Till a few days ago I had a jhuggi (hut) of my Class XII
Metro, we made own. Now I have an orange plastic sheet with
this city by carrying some writings over it, our only identity !
cement on our My home was
backs. And see what demolished
we are geting in just
return. before my
Don't we have a exams.
stake in this city ?

Slum is limping back to life Muhammed Mustkeem weaves The metro line passes near the slum. It
I appeared for bamboo sticks, rebuilding his hut looks like the fence deviding two sections,
exams without
one devoid of any civic aminity and the
any books or Don't know for
how long other enjoying the metro.
my new hut will
be safe from
the bulldozers.

I was on my way back, leaving behind slum residents to face the Delhi cold in the open, with the help of just of
candle. Smart cities are the talk of the town. I wonder whether our policymakers have any marked space for the
people like Kuddus, Rajia Khatun and Ramvilas in their grand plan?
I tried to spot the slum but
nothing was visible from
inside the metro.
Just like the answer to this
simple question.

54 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

52-54Comic strip.indd 54 07/04/16 10:25 AM



Competitive policies
The Ericsson case highlights the uneasy interface
between competition policy and patent law

HERE IS an uneasy interface between competi- Justice Vibhu Bakhru has now dismissed the challenge
tion policy and patent law, an inherent tension stating categorically that there is no irreconcilable re-
between these regulations. While patent laws pugnancy or conflict between the Competition Act and
give the inventor or the patent holder a monop- the Patents Act. As such, the jurisdiction of cci to enter-
oly by preventing the copying or imitation of patented tain complaints of market abuse against patent holders
goods, competition policy regulations, on the other hand, cannot be taken away.
seek to ensure a fair market behaviour by barring rights Significantly, the judge also held that provisions for
holders from abusing their dominance of the market. compulsory licensing (CL) under the patents law did not
Finding the right balance between competition pol- take away the jurisdiction of cci to look into complaints
icy and patent rights is sometimes not easy and courts of market abuse. Under the Patents Act, companies like
are frequently brought in to adjudicate in disputes where Micromax or Intex that have been denied license at rea-
patent holders rights infringe on the operation of a free sonable terms can seek recourse to CL. On its part, cci can
and fair market. The core principles of the system have pass orders in any case where there is abuse of dominant
been broadly framed by the government to ensure that position by a company. The court found that the two pro-
the system simultaneously fos- visions are not mutually exclu-
ters innovation and remains sive; that is, grant of one is not
consistent with fair market rules. destructive of the other.
There is also the question of pub- The ruling is important
lic interest which is best illustrat- for its clarity on another is-
ed by the ability of companies to sue which has led to legal tan-
access and use standard essential gles. Bakhru said if there is an
patents (sep). These are basical- RITIKA BOHRA / CSE
investigation underway by cci
ly technologies which have been against a patentee, then the
accepted as standards to be uniformly accepted and im- Controller of Patents can consider it if it is considering CL
plemented across various countries in order to ensure applications. However, if cci has found a patentees con-
uniformity as with wireless standards for 3G, WiFi or duct to be anti-competitive, the Patent Office would have
Bluetooth. If a patent is deemed essential to a stand- to compulsorily consider it while giving its final order.
ard it means that every company that is in the business of Legal experts say in high-tech industries, patents
making such devices requires a license. This gives owners are used strategically to saddle new entrants to the mar-
of seps huge market power and many countries regulate ket with higher costs to gain access to technology. This
it by requiring that holders licence their patents on Fair, is done through tough licencing norms or by throwing
Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (frand) terms. a patent thicket around critical inventions. While none
In India, domestic smartphone manufacturers of this is wrong in law, it circumscribes competition and
Micromax and Intex had complained to the Competition impacts the consumer, specially where seps are involved.
Commission of India (cci) that Ericsson, holder of seps, There have been several high-profile disputes over seps
was abusing its dominant position by demanding ex- such as the Samsung-Apple case. Negotiations between
cessive royalties and refusing to be transparent about the two broke down over what amounted to a fair and
its licencing terms. In January 2014, cci had found pri- reasonable royalty-rate for seps. Samsung then applied
ma facie evidence that Ericsson was abusing its market for injunctions, leading to a messy legal row.
dominance and ordered an investigation into its prac- Bakhrus clear ruling should prevent any further con-
tices. However, Ericsson challenged ccis jurisdiction. fusion on the jurisdictions of these laws.

16-30 APRIL 2016 55

55Patently Absurd.indd 55 07/04/16 5:58 PM


India must think in parallel
because extreme weather events
both known and unknownare
becoming the order of the day

HE CONTRAST is striking. Over 90 per cent of Rotterdam in the
Netherlands sits below sea level whereas 100 per cent of Chennai,
Mumbai and Kolkata sit either above or at sea level. Yet, Rotterdam
is considered safer than Chennai, Mumbai or Kolkata. Why? Be-
cause bands of smart dykes and computer-controlled massive floating arms,
constructed by the visionary and gritty Dutch, bind Rotterdams shorelines,
keeping away the storm surges from invading the port city. On the other
hand, Chennais, Mumbais or Bengalurus stormwater and drainage infra-
structure crumbles every time there are incessant rains, drowning major
parts of the cities. Though extreme events strike western countries too, they
rarely transform into large-scale disasters. Images of the recent floods that
submerged Chennai have not faded out of public memory.
Twenty five years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(ipcc) made its first scientific climate change assessment and confirmed
global rise in mean temperatures and sea-levels. It predicted that rise in
global mean temperatures and associated shifts would lead to extreme hy-
drological events in the 21st century. Since the first ipcc report, many inter-
national agencies have come up with various scientific studies on climate
change so that governments mitigate the impacts of extreme events. While
the Dutch, Germans, French and Americans have taken this science seri-
ously and taken action to protect their citizens, Indians either view these
studies as science fiction or have just confined the science of climate change
to reports, advertisements, seminars and symposiums.
The country has failed to focus on the mitigation and adaptive meas-
ures to various extreme weather events. As a result, coastal cities like Chen-
nai, Mumbai and Kochi continue to march closer towards the shorelines,
when they should have, instead, moved away from the sea. Similarly, cities
like Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi are encroaching upon vital flood-
plains, making residents vulnerable to extreme events.

The `unknown' extremes

But consider the paradoxes. Till recently, Chennai was synonymous with
water scarcity. Yet the city is hailed as the pioneer in rainwater harvesting


56-57Opinion.indd 56 07/04/16 5:42 PM

with a remarkable 90 per cent coverage. The record rainfall during Novem-
Water scarcity isn't the ber/December last year exposed the gaping holes in Chennais water man-
only dimension in water agementclogged drains and dysfunctional rainwater harvesting struc-
management as the Chennai tures. Decades ago, Cherrapunji in Meghalaya used to be the largest
floods showed. Nor is recipient of rainfall in the world. Today, it is facing a severe water scarcity.
water-abundance the only These paradoxes expose Indians penchant for serial thinking, even as ret-
dimension in Cherrapunji rospective debates regarding adaptation to extreme events rage across the
media. The blame game is ubiquitous, but all in hindsight.
Worse, this regressive blame game continues unabashedly despite re-
curring warning signals about extreme events, like the 2011 floods in
Odisha, floods in the Northeast in 2012, the Uttarakhand flood fury in 2013
and devastating floods of Jammu & Kashmir in 2014. Academic institu-
tions such as the Indian Institute of Technology and National Institute of
Technology have become elitist, focusing merely on academic excellence in
water managementagain a serial thinking mindset. This approach is con-
trary to the parallel thinking of many world class institutionslike the
National University of Singapore, TU Delft and unesco-ihe in the
Netherlands and the University of California in the USthat have collab-
orated their innovations with governing bodies so that their work benefits
the common person on the ground.
El Nio driven events have given rise to new extremes. Gradually, more
people are now waking up to the new reality of this unknown extreme
the reality that water scarcity isnt the only dimension of water manage-
ment, as was illustrated in the case of the Chennai floods. And on the con-
trary, water abundance is no longer the only dimension in Cherra-punji. So,
there is an urgent need to shift towards a parallel thinking to better under-
stand the unknown extremes.

What needs to be done?

Coastal cities should halt development towards shorelines before sea levels
rise further causing devastation to life and property. Development strate-
gies should be diversified so that the focus shifts from major metros to small-
er towns and cities. Authorities must prepare for any eventuality by keep-
ing reservoirs desilted; by decongesting drains and pipe outlets; and by
reviving rainwater harvesting structures.
But cities remain vulnerable as authorities are stuck in a serial mind-
set. Groundwater has already been overexploited and can no longer guar-
antee water during a drought. Therefore, water conservation, including re-
cycling and reuse of water, improving the efficiency of water management
agencies, and, improving water governance and delivering efficient water
services should be given a priority.
More importantly, India needs to shift focus towards the unknown ex-
tremes through higher investments in r&d in the water sector. It must in-
crease engagement between government agencies and academic institu-
tions. There must be development of technology and innovation on a par
with the western world. Now with the flood season behind, a severe season
of water scarcity is staring at us. The faster the administration learns les-
sons from the impacts of unknown extreme events like the Chennai floods
or the Cherrapunji water scarcity and takes lateral decisions, the better it
will be for common people and their quality of life.
The author is Director, Central Water Commission.

The views expressed in this article are personal.

@infoharsha75 57

56-57Opinion.indd 57 07/04/16 10:26 AM



Indian lessons for Dilma Rousseff

Brazil's handling of its social programmes amidst a
political crisis will have immense ramifications

NE AND a half years ago, this column argued through impeachment. Corruption cases against her
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi must government rival those of Singhs, like the huge corrup-
learn a few lessons from the election of Brazi- tion in the allocation of coal mines. Brazils economy is
lian President Dilma Rousseff (Brazilian les- fast slipping into an abyss. There are protests across
sons for Modi, Down To Earth, 15-30 November, 2014). the country against her government. Nobody talks
Like Modis predecessor, Manmohan Singh, Dilma faced about the social programmes that bridged the gap be-
widespread corruption charges even though her govern- tween rich and poor. The middle class has virtually per-
ments social programmes were appreciated across the petuated this perception: corruption and huge social
world. Such programmes helped close to 20 million poor spending have wasted public money which, in turn,
Brazilians escape poverty. have contributed to the decline of the economy.
Her narrow victory margin made one thing clear: Now, should Rousseff take lessons from Modi?
an effective delivery of social Notwithstanding the corruption
programmes can sway votes in charges against her government,
ones favour, despite the anger nobody should doubt the impacts
of middle class voters who alw- of her social spending on reducing
ays treat government assistan- poverty. Perhaps, cowed down by
ce to the poor as anti-growth. the country-wide sentiment agai-
At that time, this column sug- nst her, she has not been able to
gested Modi shouldnt tinker mount a public campaign to pro-
with social programmes like ject her achievements.
the Mahatma Gandhi Nati- But the threat is more disturb-
onal Rural Employment Guar- ing: the re-distribution principle is
antee Act (mgnrega) that could work as an electoral being questioned. Any development messages from di-
cushion in case of dwindling popularity. In other words, verse countries like India and Brazil are accepted with
dont treat development spending as anti-growth. credibility. And if a government is thrown out on this ba-
The current situation, in both India and Brazil, and sis using democratic procedure, it further adds value to
for the respective executive heads, convincingly prove such a perception. A new government coming to power
that. First, lets look at how the situations for Modi and in this context will tend to spend less on the social sector,
Rousseff have changed. Modi, for close to one-and-a-half like the Modi regime did until the last budget.
years focused on economic growth and made it clear that Interestingly, such a shift always gets the approval from
the erstwhile Manmohan Singh governments vast devel- the global economic fraternity who have sold the growth
opment programmes were not yielding results and were rate as the sole parameter of well-being.
not contributing to economic growth. But after he lost Modis recent turnaround is a lesson for not just
major state elections, in the last budget, he painted his Rousseff, but any leader representing a developing coun-
government in pro-poor colours with significant alloca- try. Modis re-focus on the social sector is not just an elec-
tion for agriculture and rural development. He made a toral trick, but also a pragmatic economic decision. If the
public declaration: Money for the poor shouldnt be majority rural people dont spend, the national economy
termed as anti-growth. is not going to grow. She may be thrown out of power or
Rousseff, on the other hand, is facing her worst po- be re-elected, but how she handles the situation, and her
litical crisis: there is even a threat of her removal focus on social spending is going to be her legacy.

58 DOWN TO EARTH 16-30 APRIL 2016

58Last word.indd 58 08/04/16 11:25 AM

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