Thursday, June 11, 2015

Who's India's Real Enemy? Pakistan? China?

First came "boli nahi, goli"  (Bullets, not talks). Then came "chappan inch ki chhaati" (56 inch chest, 44 actual according to Modi's tailor). It seems that India's Hindu Nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi's soaring rhetoric against Pakistan continues to soar ever higher.

Modi's rising rhetoric is now being emulated by his lieutenants including Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and most recently Information Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore. Rathore is reported to have claimed that Indian forces have struck deep inside Myanmar and this Indian action has sent a "message" to Pakistan.  Indian military and Myanmar have both denied there was any cross-border attack into Myanmar.

World's Dirtiest Cities Source: WHO Via Quartz India

As I was reading the news of Hindu Nationalists' saber-rattling,  I started to wonder who is India's real enemy? Is it Pakistan? Or China? Or is it India's domestic problems of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, lack of  clear air and access to clean water and basic hygiene that result in tens of millions of deaths each year? Do the Indian leaders not know that their country is home to the world's largest population of poor, hungry and illiterates? Did recent heatwave deaths of over 2000 Indians not remind of India's extreme vulnerability to climate change?

Is it not true that more than half of India lacks access to clean water and toilets? Are they not aware that 13 of the top 20 most polluted cities are in India and 3 in Pakistan?  Do they not know that New Delhi is the dirtiest city in the world? Have they not seen data showing hopelessness is driving 30 to 40 Indian youths per 100,000  to suicide, among the highest rates in the world?

As these thoughts were running through my mind, I came upon a recent New York Times report  titled "Holding Your Breath in India" filed by the newspaper's New Delhi correspondent Gardener Harris who has been living in the Indian capital for several years.  Here are some of his observations:

1. We gradually learned that Delhi’s true menace came from its air, water, food and flies. These perils sicken, disable and kill millions in India annually, making for one of the worst public health disasters in the world. Delhi, we discovered, is quietly suffering from a dire pediatric respiratory crisis, with a recent study showing that nearly half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have irreversible lung damage from the poisonous air.

2. The city’s air is more than twice as polluted as Beijing’s, according to the World Health Organization. (India, in fact, has 13 of the world’s 25 most polluted cities, while Lanzhou is the only Chinese city among the worst 50; Beijing ranks 79th.)

3. For much of the year, the Yamuna River would have almost no flow through Delhi if not for raw sewage. Add in the packs of stray dogs, monkeys and cattle even in urban areas, and fresh excretions are nearly ubiquitous. Insects alight on these excretions and then on people or their food, sickening them.

4. Very high levels of air pollution hurt children the most. But it's not just children.  Many adults suffer near-constant headaches, sore throats, coughs and fatigue. Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, had to leave the city for 10 days in March to cure a chronic cough.

5. It’s not just the air that inflicts harm. At least 600 million Indians, half the total population, defecate outdoors, and most of the effluent, even from toilets, is dumped untreated into rivers and streams. Still, I never thought this would come home to my family quite as dramatically as it did.

6. Most piped water here is contaminated. Poor sanitation may be a crucial reason nearly half of India’s children are stunted.

7. So many of our friends have decided to leave that the American Embassy School — this city’s great expat institution — is facing a steep drop in admissions next fall. My pastor, who ministers to a largely expat parish here, told me he feared he would lose 60 percent of his congregants this summer.

Hindu Nationalists led by Narendra Modi need to recognize that their biggest enemy is widespread deep domestic deprivation of their people. They need to join hands with Pakistan and other neighbors to focus their energies and resources to provide decent living standards to their people. They need to understand that there will be no winners in any war they launch against Pakistan. Instead, all of the people of South Asia region will be big losers.  The sooner they realize these facts the better it is for the people of South Asia.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

India's Israel Envy: What If Modi Attacks Pakistan?

Why Are Indians Less Happy Than Pakistanis?


Anonymous said...

The sabbar rattling is to divert the attention from real issues. ZAB was correct "it is the hatred of Pakistan that has kept India united".

Ras S. said...

Before #Nestle #Maggi Noodles Scare: Look at What the U.S. #FDA Found in #India made Snacks #Haldiram via @WSJIndia

Indian regulators’ findings that samples of NestlĂ© SANESN.VX +0.24% Maggi instant noodles contained impermissibly high levels of lead stunned middle-class consumers this month. But long before India yanked the product off store shelves, U.S. food-safety inspectors had deemed hundreds of made-in-India snacks unfit for sale in America.

Data on the website of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration show that it rejected more snack imports from India than from any other country in the first five months of 2015. In fact, more than half of all the snack products that were tested and then blocked from sale in the U.S. this year were from India. Indian products led the world in snack rejects last year as well.

Mexico, a much larger trading partner of the U.S., was second in terms of rejections this year, followed by South Korea. China — whose exports to the U.S. are worth ten times as much as India’s — was a distant eighth.

And it’s not just snack foods. The U.S. FDA has rejected all sorts of imports from India, including everything from cosmetics to drugs to ceramics.


Most Indian snacks rejected by the FDA this year were from the Nagpur-based food company Haldiram’s. Among the rejected Haldiram’s products were some sugar candies and salty Indian snack mixes. The FDA said on its website that it rejected the Haldiram’s products because it found pesticides in them.

A.K. Tyagi, a senior-vice president at Haldiram’s, said its food “is 100% safe and complies with the law of the land.” Discrepancies, he said, arise because food-safety standards differ in India and the U.S. “A pesticide that is permitted in India may not be allowed there. And even if it is, they may not allow it in the same concentration as it is here,” he said.

Indian baked snacks also had troubles getting into the States. Out of 217 imported baked products rejected by the U.S. FDA so far this year, more than half were made in India. One of them was a biscuit pack manufactured by India’s largest biscuit-maker, Britannia Industries Ltd.

Riaz Haq said...

#Myanmar Photo goof-up leaves #India Army red-faced - The Hindu …

The Army, which has been commended by all for its surgical strikes against insurgents on the Myanmar border, was left red-faced when it came to light that two photographs doing the rounds on the media and social media platforms were actually from operations in 2009 and not of the current one.

As soon the error was spotted, the Defence Ministry issued a statement that it did not release any such photographs. “A Clarification: MoD has not issued any photo relating to Indian Army action along Indo-Myanmar border in the North East, so far,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted on Wednesday.

Later, it was found that the Army had cleared the photographs.

An Army officer clarified on Thursday that the 2009 photographs were approved as a “representative picture” and “it did not mean it was an operational picture”.

Jai said...

To Ras Bhai

- Apr. 40% of generic drugs sold in USA are made in India.
- India has highest FDA approved pharma plants outside USA.

I will wait for the day when Pakistan drugs make it to USA.

rjs said...

interesting article in the FT: Urbanisation is key to why India is so far in China’s wake

Riaz Haq said...

#Musharraf ordered retaliation on #India targets after intel reports of #Indian plans to strike #Pakistan in 2002. …

General Musharraf sharing the untold story about 2002 India-Pakistan 10-month long standoff.

Musharraf conveyed the message to Indians that if they violate the borders there will be swift retaliation.

After he got the intelligence reports that Indian Air Force was about to launch strikes in Azad Kashmir, he not only made it clear to Indians but he also ordered Air Martial Mushaf to select the targets inside India and take those out just after India's adventurism and continue the next day.

Samir said...

"Statistics no matter how new are still from the past" is a well known dogma that thinkers are careful not to overly rely on. Then come those who politicize or continually publicize statistics to force their contrived opinion.

IMF, World Bank or the UN agencies publish data to help address policy failures and successes and hopefully deal with stubborn problems that many countries face.

Mr Haq, your bias and contempt is not only obvious, it bleeds unstoppably and repeatedly from the many blogs you have written. If I were you, I would focus and think about which country is more conducive, in the next decade or two, to address the stubborn problems. My wild guess is India.

Please note that, for each and every stat that you mention there is equal if not more stats that shows Pakistan lagging.

Riaz Haq said...

Samir: " Please note that, for each and every stat that you mention there is equal if not more stats that shows Pakistan lagging. "

Assuming for a moment that you are correct, does it justify Modi's and his cronies' war against Pakistan? How will war help improve the situation? Would it help people of South Asia who by all measures are among the most deprived in the world?

Riaz Haq said...

Mani Shankar Aiyar: What #India's #Modi Has Not Recognised About #Pakistan: ITS RESILIENCE AND NATIONALISM … via @ndtv

"unlike numerous other emerging nations, particularly in Africa, the Idea of Pakistan has repeatedly trumped fissiparous tendencies, especially since Pakistan assumed its present form in 1971. And its institutions have withstood repeated buffeting that almost anywhere elsewhere would have resulted in the State crumbling. Despite numerous dire forecasts of imminently proving to be a "failed state", Pakistan has survived, bouncing back every now and then as a recognizable democracy with a popularly elected civilian government, the military in the wings but politics very much centre-stage, linguistic and regional groups pulling and pushing, sectarian factions murdering each other, but the Government of Pakistan remaining in charge, and the military stepping in to rescue the nation from chaos every time Pakistan appeared on the knife's edge. The disintegration of Pakistan has been predicted often enough, most passionately now that internally-generated terrorism and externally sponsored religious extremism are consistently taking on the state to the point that the army is so engaged in full-time and full-scale operations in the north-west of the country bordering Afghanistan that some 40,000 lives have been lost in the battle against fanaticism and insurgency.

"And yet," as was said on a more famous occasion, "it works!" Pakistan and her people keep coming back, resolutely defeating sustained political, armed and terrorist attempts to break down the country and undermine its ideological foundations. That is what Jaffrelot calls its "resilience". That resilience is not recognized in Modi's India. That is what leads the Rathores and the Parrikars to make statements that find a certain resonance in anti-Pakistan circles in India but dangerously leverage the impact on Pakistani public opinion of anti-India circles in Pakistan. The Parrikars and the Saeeds feed on each other. It is essential that both be overcome.

But even as there are saner voices in India than Rathore's, so also are there saner - much saner - voices in Pakistan than Hafiz Saeed's. Many Indians would prefer a Pakistan overflowing with Saeeds to keep their bile flowing. So would many Pakistanis prefer an India with the Rathores overflowing to keep the bile flowing. At eight times Pakistan's size, we can flex our muscles like the bully on the school play field. But Pakistan's resilience ensures that all that emerges from Parrikar and Rathore are empty words. India is no more able than Pakistan is to destroy the other country"

Anonymous said...

Mani Shankar Aiyar is member of Indian National Congress. The same party which broke Pakistan into two. As such his statement(s) are purely political and have no bearing in reality.

Riaz Haq said...

According to a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace, "the economic impact of containing and dealing with the consequences of India's levels of violence was estimated to cost the national economy $341.7 billion in 2014. This is equivalent to 4.7 per cent of India's GDP” (Hindu, HT, ET). Moreover, according to the 2015 Global Peace Index (GPI) published on Wednesday, India ranked at 143 out of 162 countries. Within the region India ranked 5th out of the 7 South Asian countries ahead of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The GPI report cited escalating civil strife and the consequent refugee crisis have been among the major factors behind the rising cost of global violence containment. Iceland emerged as the world’s most peaceful nation, while Syria got the bottom spot.

Riaz Haq said...

Little girls bear the brunt in #India's vicious cycle of malnutrition. Half are stunted #gendergap via @ReutersIndia
Despite India's economic boom over the last two decades, 46 percent of its children under five are underweight, 48 percent are stunted and 25 percent are wasted, according to the latest government figures.

Child malnutrition is an underlying cause of death for 3 million children annually across the world - nearly half of all child deaths - with most dying from preventable illnesses like diarrhoea due to weak immune systems, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.

Those lucky enough to survive, grow up without enough energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, causing their brains and bodies to be stunted which means they cannot fulfill their physical, academic or economic potential.

The problem of malnutrition starts well before birth in countries such as India, where there are high rates of child marriage, despite the age-old practice being illegal.

About 47 percent of women aged between 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18 in India, according to the latest government figures.

The custom hampers efforts to improve women's status, as it cuts across every part of a girl's development and creates a vicious cycle of malnutrition, poor health and ignorance, gender experts say.

A child bride is more likely to drop out of school and have serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Her children are more likely to be underweight and may be lucky to survive beyond the age of five.

Riaz Haq said...

BBC News - #Indians pray at #visa temples to go abroad. Why are #Indians escaping #india by millions? #EXODUS

Millions of Indians regularly visit temples and religious sites to pray and seek divine help in fulfilling their wishes.
Most pray for a child or well being of their loved ones, but in recent years, some unusual temples have come up, including a few that offer divine help in procuring a visa.

Tambi Dude said...

Do you know even now China is #1 in visa issues in western countries.

Riaz Haq said...

Divine Intervention? #Indians Seek Help From the 'Visa God' #India #visas #Exodus via @WSJ

Divine Intervention? Indians Seek Help From the 'Visa God'

Priest Says Prayers May Aid Those Trying to Enter U.S.; A Job With

Lord Balaji is one of the most-worshiped local incarnations of the Hindu Lord Vishnu. His adherents flock to his many temples to pray for things like happiness, prosperity and fertility.

Lately, the deity has grown particularly popular at the once-quiet Chilkur Balaji temple here, where he goes by a new nickname: the Visa God. The temple draws 100,000 visitors a week, many of whom come to pray to Lord Balaji for visas to travel or move to the U.S. and other Western countries.

Mohanty Dolagobinda is one of the Visa God's believers. Three years ago, a U.S. consulting company applied for a visa on his behalf. It was rejected. When the company tried again the following year, Mr. Dolagobinda's friends told him to visit the Chilkur Balaji temple ahead of his interview at the U.S. consulate. Weeks later, he sailed through the interview. "I've never heard of anyone who's gone to the temple whose visa got rejected," says Mr. Dolagobinda.

In the late 1990s, this small temple on the outskirts of Hyderabad -- the capital of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh -- drew just two or three visitors a week.

C.S. Gopala Krishna, the 63-year-old head priest of the Chilkur Balaji Temple, wanted more people to come. So he gave Lord Balaji a new identity. "I named him the Visa God," he says. Now, Mr. Gopala Krishna's temple is a hot spot. Billboards on the dirt road to the temple advertise English-language schools and visa advisers. Next to the parking lot, vendors hawk souvenirs and fruit.

The Visa God's growing celebrity reflects the rising frustration of educated Indians hoping to move West. In recent years, it's become harder to win the employer-sponsored "H-1B" visas that let skilled professionals like engineers work in the U.S. While the U.S. limits the number of H-1Bs granted each year to 65,000, the demand for visas keeps rising.

For the fiscal year ended September 2004, it took 11 months for the U.S. government to receive 65,000 applications for H-1B visas; last fiscal year, it took two months. This fiscal year, the U.S. government received more than 65,000 applications in one day. Applications are now assigned a random number, and the first 90,000 to 110,000 are processed and accepted or rejected until the quota is reached.

Riaz Haq said...

Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition

So why was Vivek malnourished?

It is a question being asked about children across India, where a long economic boom has done little to reduce the vast number of children who are malnourished and stunted, leaving them with mental and physical deficits that will haunt them their entire lives. Now, an emerging body of scientific studies suggest that Vivek and many of the 162 million other children under the age of 5 in the world who are malnourished are suffering less a lack of food than poor sanitation.

Like almost everyone else in their village, Vivek and his family have no toilet, and the district where they live has the highest concentration of people who defecate outdoors. As a result, children are exposed to a bacterial brew that often sickens them, leaving them unable to attain a healthy body weight no matter how much food they eat.

“These children’s bodies divert energy and nutrients away from growth and brain development to prioritize infection-fighting survival,” said Jean Humphrey, a professor of human nutrition at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “When this happens during the first two years of life, children become stunted. What’s particularly disturbing is that the lost height and intelligence are permanent.”

Anonymous said...

It is frightening that so many Hindus support Modi purely because they want Hindu Raj. No mention is made of rocketing food prices, neither that of real estate which will ensure that a huge chunk of urban dwellers will forever continue to live in squalid slums or on the footpaths without basic sanitation. Hindu Raj and its make believe world of flying chariots and bejewelled glory is the mantra today.
In the meanwhile, so many are unsure whether they will get water to wash, bathe or even drink. Or if they will have electricity. Go shopping and instead of being given change you get a "chocolate" - whatever that turns out to be.

Riaz Haq said...

80% of #India’s surface water may be polluted, report by international body says … via @timesofindia Even as India is making headlines with its rising air pollution levels, the water in the country may not be any better. An alarming 80% of India's surface water is polluted, a latest assessment by WaterAid, an international organization working for water sanitation and hygiene, shows.

The report, based on latest data from the ministry of urban development (2013), census 2011 and Central Pollution Control Board, estimates that 75-80% of water pollution by volume is from domestic sewerage, while untreated sewerage flowing into water bodies including rivers have almost doubled in recent years.

This in turn is leading to increasing burden of vector borne diseases, cholera, dysentery, jaundice and diarrhea etc. Water pollution is found to be a major cause for poor nutritional standards and development in children also.

Between 1991 and 2008, the latest period for which data is available, flow of untreated sewerage has doubled from around 12,000 million litres per day to 24,000 million litres per day in Class I and II towns.

The database defines Class I towns as those with a population of more than 1 lakh, whereas towns with population ranging between 50,000 to 1 lakh are classified as Class II.

The report, titled 'Urban WASH: An Assessment on Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Policies and Programmes at the National and State Level', is likely to be released next week.

According to the report, inadequate sanitation facilities, poor septage management and a near absence of sanitation and waste water policy framework are primary reasons responsible for the groundwater and surface water pollution in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan to set up #carbon markets to cut emissions, lure investment. #ClimateChange via @sharethis

Pakistan will set up a carbon market with technical assistance from China to cut greenhouse gas emissions and lure foreign investment.

The ‘Carbon Neutral Pakistan’ project will receive 7.752 million rupees (US$76,205) in state funding out of its total cost of 313.96 million rupees (US$3.85m) in next year’s Public Sector Development Programme.

Pakistan’s parliament gave final approval to the project in next year’s budget on June 23 along with 39.752 million rupees ($390,779) in the programme to combat climate change.

The developing country is vulnerable floods, droughts and extreme weather and needs up to US$15 billion a year to climate-proof its economy and cut emissions.

Pakistan pumped out nearly 150m tonnes of CO2 in 2008, which are rising at 6% a year, according to its climate change ministry.

Chinese advice

Arif Ahmed Khan, Secretary at the Ministry of Climate Change, told RTCC in an exclusive interview that local carbon markets would be set up with technical assistance from China for internal adjustment of carbon emissions and carbon credits.

“The carbon markets would help industrialists and other sectors to sell and buy carbon credits locally besides initiating a competition for greener technology,” he said.

The secretary said the project is being designed to meet future requirements that international community may impose on developing countries if an international deal on climate change is reached in COP-21, Paris summit in December of this year.

“Pakistan can also lure foreign investment in emission cuts in the coming years if we succeed in setting up the carbon markets to facilitate industrialists and people from other sectors,” he said.

The United Nations carbon market has spurred $356 billion of investment in emission cuts, encouraging climate-protection policies in at least 10 nations including China, India and Brazil, according to the Washington-based policy institute, Center for American Progress.

The secretary admitted creating a market was complicated, and said the ministry is working to simplify it for industrialists and investors with help of relevant experts and specialists. “We will also seek help from China to determine a viable carbon pricing formula,” he said.

- See more at:

Riaz Haq said...

UNICEF: In spite of #Modi's "Clean India" campaign, #India Lags Behind #Pakistan, #Nepal on Sanitation via @WSJIndia

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made sanitation a priority for his country, saying he would rather build toilets than temples and setting a goal for every home in the country to have a place to go to the bathroom by 2019.

But new data show India is lagging behind its neighbors in providing access to adequate sanitation.

“Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water,” a report published by the United Nations Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization this week, says that advancements in meeting Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, by 2015 in relation to sanitation have faltered worldwide. The report says 2.4 billion people still don’t have access to improved sanitation.

Mr. Modi launched his Clean India, or Swachh Bharat, campaign last year for good reason. Research shows that the practice of open defecation is linked to a higher risk of stunting in children and the spread of disease. A World Health Organization report said in 2014 that 597 million people in India still relieved themselves outdoors. And the new WHO/Unicef report says that the Southern Asia region has the highest number of people who defecate in the open.

The new data show that despite recent efforts, over the past 25 years, India has been losing the regional race to improve sanitation.

Its neighbors, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan led the way with the greatest percentage-point change in the proportion of the population with access to improved sanitation facilities between 1990 and 2015.

Pakistan’s percentage point change was 40–64% of people have use an improved sanitation facility. In Nepal, a country in which just 4% of people had access to improved sanitation facilities in 1990, access rose by 42 percentage points to 46%. Bangladesh improved its score by 27 percentage points — 61% now have access to improved sanitation facilities.

India meanwhile, had a lower 23 percentage point increase in the same period – bringing the number of people with access to improved sanitation facilities to 40%.

And Sri Lanka is way ahead, with 95% of people having access to improved sanitation.

The report defines an improved sanitation facility as one that hygienically separates excreta from human contact and the target was for 50% or more of those with inadequate water or sanitation in 1990 to have adequate sanitary services in 2015.

Likewise, rates of open defecation have reduced, but India still has the highest percentage of the population defecating in the open–with 44% of people going outside in 2015—down from 75% in 1990, compared with a 13% figure for Pakistan in 2015, 32% for Nepal and only 1% for Bangladesh.

But, the report says: “The 31 per cent reduction in open defecation in India alone represents 394 million people, and significantly influences regional and global estimates.”

Riaz Haq said...

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is one of the 95 countries that have met the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target for sanitation aimed at halving the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation, says a recently launched global report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP).

According to the report, 64 per cent of the population in Pakistan now has access to sanitation compared to 24 per cent in 1990. A feat achieved by only 95 countries so far. Pakistan is also placed among just 77 countries which have met both the drinking water and the sanitation MDG target.

The report says that the number of people defecating in the open has been reduced from 46 to 25 million during the last decade. However, closing the gap that exists due to inequities between urban and rural residents in terms of improved access to water and sanitation services, remains a challenge.

“This is an incredible achievement,” says Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Pakistan. “Toilet use is becoming the new norm in rural Pakistan. A country on the road to modernity with unprecedented uptake of toilets, has met the sanitation MDG. I would like to congratulate the Government of Pakistan and its development partners on achieving this all important goal. The Government’s leadership and commitment to improve access to sanitation through increased investment and supporting national and provincial level dialogue on the subject, has provided the required impetus for achieving this target which will go a long way in protecting women and children as well as overall national development.”

While providing a comprehensive assessment of progress made since 1990, the report also highlights what more needs to be done to help the 2.4 billion people globally who still lack access to improved sanitation and at the same time urgently address the large disparities that exist in this context. Despite significant progress, South Asia is still the region where the largest number of people, nearly 953 million, do not have access to improved sanitation.
It is noteworthy that earlier this year, the second Pakistan Conference on Sanitation (PACOSAN) was hosted in Islamabad where a large gathering of eminent specialists deliberated on accelerating Pakistan’s move towards achieving the sanitation MDG.
Addressing the inaugural session of the conference, the President of Pakistan, Mr. Mamnoon Hussain highlighted that despite strong emphasis on cleanliness in Islam, lack of sanitation facilities is one of the major causes of high child mortality rate in Pakistan. He urged all stakeholders to join hands for universal coverage of sanitation and hygiene in the country.

Riaz Haq said...

The curious case of world's most polluted city #Delhi #India …

In an uncanny incidence earlier this year, the US embassy in India bought 1,800 air purifiers in New Delhi. It was later deciphered as a protective measure for the US president Barack Obama from Delhi's toxic air. The air we have been breathing away all our life was deemed so detrimental for the president that the US authorities insisted on curtailing Obama's outdoor activities, according to a newspaper report.
In the past, when fuel emission norms were a far flung reality and vehicle sector was booming, the state of Delhi air had started showing visible signs of impact. So much so that Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) issued an advertisement about 16 years back: "Roll down the window of your bullet-proof car, Mr Prime Minister. The security threat is not the gun, it is the air of Delhi." The environment lobbies vociferously demanded a roadmap for pollution control. Even as some of the demands were met; such as the thrust on clean fuel, use of CNG, Vehicular emission standards etc, the situation steadily depreciated.
So much so that, in November, December and January of 2014-15, the quality of air in Delhi was recorded to be severely polluted for more than 65 per cent of the days. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee data also showed consistently high level of PM2.5 (particulate matter), one of the finest pollutants, capable of making inroads into human lung and blood tissue and increase the risk of heart and lung diseases. While the WHO (World Health Organization) has set a limit of 25 microgram per meter cube, in the past three years the PM2.5 level in the metropolis has been roughly 130 to 170 microgram per cubic meter; 5-7 times more than the permissible limit.
The issue got fresh impetus when Delhi surpassed Beijing to become world’s most polluted city. Soon thereafter, National Green Tribunal (NGT), took cognizance of the matter and held vehicles as the main movement of aviation contamination, thus banning all diesel vehicles over ten years old from plying on Delhi roads. In an earlier judgment last year, NGT had similarly banned petrol vehicles over 15 years old in Delhi. Yet, this time around, the verdict met overwhelming response.
While the Delhi government was quick to applaud the decision and promised swift action, the central government appealed against the ban. Citing an IIT Delhi study, counsel argued that the old vehicles contributes a negligible amount of the air pollution. Various stakeholders mooted their own apprehension of the alarming level of pollutants in the urban center. Speaking to CNBC, Sunita Narain from Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) alleged that the government is hands in gloves with the transport sector. Naming the big three commercial vehicle manufacturers, Narain held the government responsible for steering the interest of automobile manufacturers, disregarding public health emergency and ignoring the health risks from direct exposure to vehicular fume.

Riaz Haq said...

WHO: 4 of the top 10 dirtiest cities are in #India. #climatechange #airpollution via @WSJ

The World Health Organization’s latest study showed that many of the world’s most polluted cities were located in fast-developing nations. The worst levels of small particulate matter were recorded in the eastern Iranian city of Zabol, which is regularly hit by seasonal dust storms, with a so-called PM2.5 reading of 217

That city was followed by Gwalior and Allahabad in India, and Riyadh and Al Jubail in Saudi Arabia. India’s Patna and Raipur were the sixth and seventh most polluted, according to the report by the WHO, .

PM2.5 refers to particulate matter that is smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. The pollutants, which come from dust, soot and smoke, can penetrate deep into the lungs, increasing the risk of heart and lung diseases including asthma and lung cancer, the WHO said.

Delhi, India’s capital, tied with another Indian city, Ludhiana, for 11th worst in the world for air pollution, with a PM2.5 measurement of 122, according to the WHO study. Beijing tied for 36th with a PM2.5 reading of 85. Delhi has recently tested out measures the Chinese capital has used to restrict the number of cars on its roads.

Riaz Haq said...

A dark cloud has hung over Delhi these past few weeks, and it isn’t just the pollution. Ever since a September attack by militants in Kashmir killed 19 Indian soldiers, war has been in the air. And, as with the pollution, no part of life here is unaffected. A 65-year-old water-sharing pact between India and Pakistan is apparently being reconsidered. The famous Wagah checkpoint – where audiences watch Indian and Pakistani border guards trade high kicks and handshakes – was briefly shut to the public, reportedly after Pakistani revellers pelted the Indian side with stones.

And last week, after India announced its troops had launched “surgical strikes” in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the Indian Motion Picture Producers Association said it, too, was on a war footing. The legion of Pakistani actors and technicians in Bollywood, and other Indian cinema hubs, would be banned from working “until normalcy returns”, it said. The organisation’s president, TP Aggarwal, went even further, saying Pakistanis would be banned from the industry “for ever”, and asking the Indian government to boot them from the country.


Divya Spandana (also known as Ramya), another Indian actor turned politician, was threatened with a civil sedition charge after visiting Pakistan in August. Her crime? Saying India’s rival was “a good country, not hell”. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s cinema lobby has called the restriction on its nationals “deeply regrettable”, and announced its own embargo, pulling all Indian films from Pakistani screens. Indian cinema was already banned in Pakistan for 43 years, after the second Kashmir war between the countries, and only permitted again in 1998. On Thursday, Indian sitcoms and soap operas – already restricted on Pakistani television to 86 minutes a day – were also completely banned by the country’s media regulator.