Update on Bhutan’s Quest For Happiness

Update on Bhutan’s Quest For Happiness“Gross National Happiness is critical for Bhutan – otherwise we will undo all our success so far,” says Tshering Tobgay, prime minister of the tiny Himalayan kingdom of some 700,000 people that is sandwiched between the giant nuclear powers of India and China. For Tobgay, that means balancing economic development with maintenance of the country’s…

Tuk-Tuks to Save Elephants

Tuk-Tuks to Save ElephantsIn India, the iconic Bajaj auto rickshaws or tuk-tuks cost around Rs200,000 [US$3,100], Two nights ago, 20 were sold for up to £100,000 each in brightly colored designs at a wildlife charity auction hosted in Lancaster House in London by Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. There was a London taxi lookalike, a…

The Tragedy of Quack Anti-GMO Science

The Tragedy of Quack Anti-GMO ScienceA half-century ago, the International Rice Research Institute, based in Los Banõs in the Philippines, and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in Hyderabad entered into a partnership that ultimately would forestall an apocalyptic famine in which millions would almost certainly have died. The organizations are now celebrating 50 years of cooperation and the effect they…

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…