Western Ghats reports stir wide debates

Western Ghats reports stir wide debates

The year saw two reports on the development in Western Ghats being tabled and rejected. This stirred a wide debate on the environmental concerns versus politics and business concerns. The first report was prepared by WGEEP under the leadership of eminent ecologist Dr. Madhav Gadgil. The report, that recommended the region to be declared as eco sensitive and suspend all developmental activities, lied with the MoEF for a long time before it came in public domain after a huge pressure by the people. But, the government rejected the report and set up a new panel under the leadership of Dr. k Kasturirangan. The new panel, thought it granted a few concessions, also proposed a one third of western ghats to be declared eco sensitive.

Uttarakhand tragedy posed serious questions over development model

Uttarakhand tragedy posed serious questions over development model

In June 2013, a multi-day cloudburst centered on the North Indian state of Uttarakhand caused devastating floods and landslides in the country's worst natural disaster since the 2004 tsunami. Though vast areas in Himalaya ranges experienced heavy rainfall, over 95% of the casualties occurred in Uttarakhand. As of 16 July 2013, according to figures provided by the Uttarakhand government, more than 5,700 people were "presumed dead." This total included 934 local residents. Destruction of bridges and roads left about 100,000 pilgrims and tourists trapped in the valleys. Air Force, Army and paramilitary troops evacuated more than 110,000 people. The debate is still going on over whether this should be called a natural disaster or a man made one.

Only 6% of Indian towns have sewage treatment systems

Only 6% of Indian towns have sewage treatment systems

The grim picture of the challenge of the polluting water resources in India came to light after an assessment report, on the pollution in the river, prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) was published this year. The report highlighted that only 6 percent of Indian towns and cities have some sort of functional sewage treatment plant. West Bengal treats only 49 per cent of the waste water before dumping it in the Ganga, said the report. It also raised concern about the inefficiency of sewage treatment plants. CPCB also made an inventory of the138 drains that flow in the Ganga river catchment. Total 76 per cent of the pollution load was contributed by Uttar Pradesh. Maximum flow of pollutants was also measured in Uttar Pradesh.

Thousands spared in Cyclone Phailin

Thousands spared in Cyclone Phailin

Super powerful tropical cyclone Phailin made landfall on the coasts of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha in mid October. But, advanced warnings and evacuations by government agencies saved hundreds of thousands of lives. The approach of Phailin, among the most powerful historical cyclones in the region, led to the evacuation of close to 1 million people. Warnings of Phailin's potential arrival were sounded more than a week ahead. While Phailin weakened into a tropical rainstorm, rainfall from the once-powerful tropical cyclone finally winded down. There were widespread heavy rain and flooding across much of northern India, however some areas remain flooded after days of torrential downpours. Storms of this magnitude over the past couple of hundred years have often taken the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Government insists on the open trials of GM crops

Government insists on the open trials of GM crops

The last month of the year saw resignation of Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan over, what was said to be, her opposition to the open trials of the Genetically modified crop varieties. Indian scientists have over the years developed more than 200 genetically modified (GM) varieties of as many as 15 crops including cotton, brinjal, castor, groundnut, mustard, papaya, potato, rice, rubber, sugarcane, wheat and tomato. These varieties, developed by scientists in different Indian universities and research institutions, have all the traits — resistance to insect, fungal, drought and virus — which may bring them in the league of Bt cotton by increasing productivity and export earnings. Most of these are awaiting field trials.

Encephalitis poses great risk in India

Encephalitis poses great risk in India

Incidences of Japanese Encephalitis outbreak were a commonplace throughout 2013 in northern Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. Major outbreaks of the disease compelled thousands of the patients to be admitted to hospitals and around as many deaths in over 171 districts of eastern north India. In October India launched its first indigenously developed vaccine (JENVAC) on the disease. The most important factor of JENVAC is that it can be administered even during an ongoing epidemic condition.  Leptospirosis presenting as acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) was observed in Assam. At least 13 people died after JE related complications in Bihar last month, which was a mystery for medical fraternity, as a disease that usually affects people in summer had found its way in the winters.

Dengue fever outbreaks stung India

Dengue fever outbreaks stung India

Dengue cases usually jump during and just after the rainy season in India. But, an outbreak of dengue fever since February killed more than 100 people, inundated hospitals with patients and triggered school closures. This year, the country saw the heaviest rains in nearly two decades, particularly pleasing farmers who rely on the monsoon for their living. But, the rains also brought challenges, including the appearance of Aedes aegypti, a species of mosquito that spreads dengue and yellow fever. The government said, 109 Indians have died from the tropical illness in the first nine months of this year and 38,179 cases have been recorded in total, more than double that of 2011. Experts said this year's early and prolonged monsoon has provided more breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Alarming! 48% Indian children are stunted: UNICEF

Alarming! 48% Indian children are stunted: UNICEF

UNICEF released its report on state of children across world that revealed startling fact that as many as 48% of Indian children under age five are stunted i.e. underdeveloped due to malnutrition. Stunted children learn less in school and are more likely themselves to live in poverty and go on to have children also stunted by poor nutrition. These in turn increase poverty in affected countries and regions, and drive greater gaps between the rich and the poor. And the key point is that it is absolutely irreversible. You can feed up an underweight child, but with a stunted child, because of the effects on the brain, it has a permanently reduced cognitive capacity by the age of around two years old, the report said.

Climate: Carbon emissions, badger culls and extreme weather

Climate: Carbon emissions, badger culls and extreme weather

Carbon emissions, badger culls and extreme weather made for a terrible year for the environment. On a global level, a major report from the UN’s premier authority on climate change – the IPCC – concluded in September that the case for man-made global warming was overwhelming. But climate change summit, in Warsaw, is generally regarded as the worst since nearly 200 governments began meeting annually in 1992. Indeed, the fight against global warming arguably regressed during the meeting as Japan dramatically scaled back its commitments to reduce its carbon emissions while Australia moved to repeal its carbon tax. The Climate issue got a fuzzy “roadmap” towards a hugely ambitious global accord to tackle climate change in 2015.

India witnessed coldest January

India witnessed coldest January

India witnessed coldest January in 44 years as it entered the year 2013. New Delhi saw a maximum temperature of 9.8 Celsius on 3rd January - the lowest since records began in 1969. Fog forced cancellation of flights and trains. Low temperatures prevailed over the next several days and the mercury hovered around 3 to 4 Celsius. Experts with the Meteorological Department said that winters in northern India have become colder in recent years and blamed pollution from industrialization and changing crop planting patterns. The Supreme Court told state governments to provide winter shelter for homeless people, but compliance was low and many people slept on pavements, as over 100 homeless people succumbed to the chilly weather.

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Vivid manifestations of Hindutva thought were seen in 2013: Bhaiyyaji Joshi

Abhijit Mulye
Nashik, December 30 : 


undefinedThe passing year put before us vivid manifestations and acceptability of the Hindutva thought amongst the intelligentsia of our society, SarKaryavah (General Secretary) of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangha (RSS) Shri. Suresh (Bhaiyaji) Joshi told NewsBharati here today.  

Vivekananda 150th birth anniversary:growing acceptance of Hindutva  

Vivekananda Saardhashati (150th birth anniversary) celebrations started on 12th January 2013 got overwhelming response from all cross sections of the society. Through various symposia, lectures, seminars and other similar kind of events, efforts were made to reach out to the thought leaders of the society. These efforts were received very well and we could see a broader, brighter manifestation of the Hindutva thought through such interactions. We realized that the thought leaders of the society have a much more acceptance to Hindutva than what was perceived earlier, Joshi elaborated.

Rise of AAP is a clear signal to all political parties

In a special interview for the ‘Recap 2013’ section of NewsBharati, Shri. Joshi elaborated on various topics that made news in 2013. When asked about the much talked of success of Aam Aadami Party in Delhi assembly elections and the discussions regarding the new political culture that followed it, Joshi said that this is a clear signal for all the political parties that they should be more careful in choosing candidates.

Dignity of women: Not by law alone: it is a social responsibility

While speaking about the crime against women in our society, Joshi said that, these crimes are an outcome of ill, degraded minds. We, as a society, need to look into the ‘Samsakara’ factor or the values that are inculcated through our societal institutions like family, educational institutions, and media. We will have to ensure that right values are inculcated into the society and this won’t be possible merely by passing some legislation. He said, “Legislation is not an alternative to value system.” Joshi also expressed concern over the demands to nullify recent Supreme Court verdict regarding article 377. He said, homosexuality does not have social sanction in India and does not have any standing in Indian culture. Hence, any attempts to get legal status for that “would not be acceptable”.

Safety and security of Hindus all over the world is responsibility of Bharat 

When asked about the attacks on Hindus in Bangladesh and Pakistan, Joshi said that, it has always been our demand that Indian government should ensure safety and security of Hindus world over. Indian government should convey its concern over such cases to the respective country.

Weak and meek foreign policy towards neighbors

While speaking about the Chinese and Pakistani aggression on the borders along India during the year, Joshi said, such incidences are not new to us, in the sense that they are obvious side effects of the weak external affairs policy which our government has adopted. If we feel that such incidences should not repeat in future, we will have to have our foreign policy corrected. “Any lapse in internal or external security is always a danger. India should take all such actions by Pakistan and China very seriously. India should not bow to any kind of pressure from any international forces or groups. And our external policy needs to have correction in this regard”, he said.Joshi appreciated Indian government’s tough stand in the Devyani Khobragade case and said, this might be an effort to weaken and demoralize India. Government should ensure that nobody dares any such attempt in future.

Government machinery should be more trained to handle natural disasters

Joshi expressed deep condolences towards the lives lost in the natural calamity that hit the state of Uttarakhand earlier this year and said, “We need to ensure that the development plans are made after a due consideration to the geological and geographical factors and are implemented flawlessly”. He praised Indian military forces for their efforts during the calamity and also commended the way in which the voluntary organizations across the nation started relief and rehabilitation operations in the region. He expressed displeasure over the response of the government machinery and said government machinery should ensure proper and complete training in disaster management.