Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: 10 Lessons India Taught It's Women

Lesson 1. Rape is on the rise and Woman, its thy fault
Rapes in India have risen by 873% in past five decades. And from politicians to members of  the parliament to top cops, everyone thinks that its majorly women's fault. Here is a sample: right at the beginning of the year, Dinesh Reddy, the Director General of Hyderabad (where I live) said, "rape is increasing because women have started dressing fashionably" and ‘women provoke men to rape them by wearing flimsy clothes.

(Oh, and the cop not only got away with that,  but actually got a pat on the back. Last month, he became the president of Indian Hockey Federation. Don't be surprised if our women hockey players are now ordered to play in Pyjamas!)

Lesson 2. Know that thy Law maker's job includes watching Porn at work and preach you on decency

It's a male law maker's prerogative to chastise women and decide what kind of clothes they will wear, even when he will watch porn, right inside the assembly building.
Example: A minister in Bangalore, was caught watching a porn clip right within the state Assembly in February this year. The minister had advised women many times to wear less revealing clothes to avoid getting raped. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Migration: Prevention Is Always Better than Cure

It is International Migrants day and since morning, a series of faces have been passing before my eyes. These are faces of women whom I have met in recent times and found, they were all victims of climate change. It affected each of them in a different way, but at the end of the day, uprooted them from their homes and turned them into migrants with an uncertain future.

Let me share the stories of five of them.

Akshaya, Hyderabad - Migrant, because there was no WATER.

Akshaya Gaud is 24 and a commercial sex worker. She migrated from Adilabad - a district  in Andhra Pradesh state of southern India that has been severely affected by consecutive droughts. Akshaya migrated 2 years ago to Hyderabad because there was no water. All the ponds dried and ground water level depleted so much, borewells could not produce any water. When I interviewed her for my story 'Drought drives rural Indian women into city sex trade' , she said this: “The last time I visited my home, there was hardly enough water to drink. When I returned, I brought back a bundle of unwashed clothes with me because there was no water to wash them. How can we live like this?” 

Monday, December 10, 2012

In Photos - COP18

I just returned from Doha, covering for eight days the UNFCCC Climate conference (COP18). Compared to COP17 which was held in Durban, South Africa last year, this year's COP was quieter as the total turnout of people - at least journalists - was much lower. But there were some interesting sights nonetheless. Sharing here some of those interesting moments from the event that can be called the Kumbh Mela of environment.
Doers, in the middle of talkers. The three winners from (L-R) Turkey, Haiti and Uganda of 'Land for Life award', given by United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). In a town full of bargainers and talkers, it was refreshing to meet these three people who were working hard to reclaim, save and improve the quality of land in their respective countries.

The venue  - Qatar National Conventional Center (QNCC) was huge.  Really, really huge. And so was pretty much everything - the meeting halls, staircases and even the washrooms. But compared to COP17 in Durban, the total turnout of participants was much lower and it showed. The press section was particularly quieter and empty at times. Only 400 journalists turned up this time, compared to 3000 in Durban.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Climate smart agriculture: is assumption feeding farmers’ fears?

The following blog was published on the website of United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). You can read the original write up here.

Doha, 01/12/12. Chief Adam Tampuri is a cashew farmer from Ghana in West Africa. Last year, Tampuri has lost fifty cashew trees, but he does not know what killed them. ”They just dried up one by one. Nowadays, we are getting strange plant diseases we never saw before,” said Tampuri at a side event at the 18th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change today.

The loss of the trees has directly impacted Tampuri’s living condition: as a cash crop, the cashews are an important and dependable source of his monthly income. Fewer trees, therefore, mean that the money that will come from the sale of cashews will not be enough to buy food.

Despite the loss, Chief Tampuri is hesitant to try climate smart farming techniques, especially soil carbon sequestration. “Climate smart agriculture (CSA) will benefit only large corporate houses and not us small farmers,” he commented.