The Race for Dams in the Great Himalaya

The Race for Dams in the Great HimalayaLast November, the biggest hydroelectric dam in Tibet started to produce electricity. Standing 3,300 meters above sea level, the RMB9.6 billion (US$1.54 billion) dam sent ripples of concern across the neighboring state of India.  That is because the Zangmu Dam is on the Yarlung Zangbo River which in India becomes the Brahmaputra, whose lower reaches…

Banking on Human Milk in India

Banking on Human Milk in IndiaSarita, 28, was shattered when her obstetrician placed her newly-born daughter in her arms at a maternity hospital in the town of Nagda in the desert state of Rajasthan. The girl weighed 1 kilogram, less than half what a normal infant should, and in grave danger of being blighted by malnutrition if not of death.…

Act East: Nehru’s Lesson for Modi

Act East: Nehru’s Lesson for ModiThe torrent of praise and criticism directed at Lee Kuan Yew since his death the other week highlights a paradox: How could one man with a micro-state as his base leave such a decisive imprint on the whole of today’s Asia? This paradox is sharpened even further when one considers that Lee was deeply influenced…

India Tries to Block BBC Rape Film

India Tries to Block BBC Rape FilmThe Indian government is adept at shooting itself in the foot, especially on social issues. In the past three days, it has done this spectacularly by trying – and failing – to impose an international ban on an hour-long film, India’s Daughter, about an horrific and fatal rape that shocked the world when it took place on…

Is India’s International Art Fair Really International?

Is India’s International Art Fair Really International?Delhi’s annual International Art Fair last weekend provided a classic example of how India produces order out of chaos, but doesn’t quite meet its potential. Some 80,000 people arrived at the fair in the south of the city by car on chaotically crowded and sometimes gridlocked highways, or squashed into unbelievably crowded metro trains and…

India’s Jaipur Lit Fest

India’s Jaipur Lit FestArvind Panagaria one of India’s top economic advisers has a short fuse and shouts. Eighty-two year old V.S.Naipaul, the Nobel Prize winning author has given what might turn out to be his last long interview, and Abdul Kalam, the 83-year old space and missile scientist who became India’s president, is greeted by young Indians like…

India’s Remote, Underdeveloped Northeast Quarter

India’s Remote, Underdeveloped Northeast Quarter“Are you going on to India?” I found myself asking two Swiss tourists whom I met over New Year in India’s north-eastern state of Assam.  I could try to justify the question by explaining that they had been talking about going next to the nearby countries of Bhutan and Nepal, but that wasn’t what was…

Can There be Such a Thing as ‘Peak Children?’

Can There be Such a Thing as ‘Peak Children?’The world has largely accepted the concept “peak oil” – in which oil production peaks, then goes into an irreversible decline. Now it is being asked to contemplate that the world is also rapidly approaching “peak youth.”  That is the point at which there will be more young people than ever before in the history…

Rape Again Raises Ugly Head in Delhi Case

Rape Again Raises Ugly Head in Delhi CaseWhen the international Uber taxi hire firm opened in India last year, it was seen as a potentially efficient and easily accessible alternative to creaky unreliable rivals’ cabs. That image was shattered late last Friday evening when an Uber driver allegedly raped a young woman in Delhi. The affair demonstrates how little has changed since…

After 30 years, Bhopal Still Festers

After 30 years, Bhopal Still FestersIndia’s central government and the state government of Madhya Pradesh are in denial over the scale of the tragedy that occurred 30 years ago when at least 5,000 people died in Bhopal in a devastating Union Carbide gas leak that has caused continuing ill health for some 500,000.  Neither government has even begun to deal…