Thursday, September 2, 2010

What is India trying to prove?

More than 2 billion dollars are being spent on the Common Wealth Games to be held in Delhi for a mere 12 days, between October 3 and 14th. And even that they don't seem to be getting right. Delhi is far from ready. Stadiums are still yet to get fully ready. Basic infrastructure, such as foot paths, ares still being laid. The big question on everybody's mind, "will it be ready?"

   A number of reports suggest that the amount of money being spent does not reflect the ground reality. Quality of the stadiums is sub-standard.

   Is spending such a large amount justified when more than 55% of the Indian population lives below the poverty line?

   To add insult to injury, authorities in Delhi are planning to cover 'the not-so-welcoming sights', slums in Delhi, with bamboo mats( How in the world can you call this inclusive growth?

India wants to show to the world that it is an emerging super power by holding CWG 2010...tsk tsk!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Climate refugees

Waters lapped the side of the boat as I looked on toward the vast expanse of water that lay beyond me. I was in the Sunderbans, the land of the Royal Bengal Tiger. I was not here on a 'tourism' expedition, but part of a program that sought to highlight the urgency with which we need to act on the issue of climate change.

Already, four sizable islands have disappeared due to the rise in water levels. Locals are not able to understand this phenomena. Yet, on May 25, 2009, they were faced with the wrath of Cyclone Aila, that left some low lying islands in the Sunderbans under as much as 10 feet of water. Luckier ones found refuge in two storey houses, the others, stuck onto any dry patch of land they could find.

One boy I spoke to had climbed up a tree and stayed there for three days until the water had receded. He was totally emaciated said his father, who found him after a week. Many people were not as lucky as this family. Hundreds of people lost their lives.

Cyclone Aila could possibly be a warning to the locals in this area. The rise in water levels will, will lead to 15 per cent of the Sunderbans going under water by 2020, says a UNDP report. An estimated four and a half million people live on the Indian part of the delta. Even if a fraction of them have to relocate, where will they go? The city of Kolkata is already too crowded. Other places in West Bengal will not be able to host such a large population.  

This is just one example of climate refugees, people  directly affected by climate change. Millions of people all over the world are forced to relocate. In this age of strict patrolling along national boundaries, these people will be left with nowhere to go.