Energy Transition #3. What Carbon Capture needs to work: Supportive state policies. An interview with Asam Rafi of Carbon Clean
As CarbonCopy has reported, a global race is underway to bring down electrolyser prices. That should help users seeking to ditch carbon fuels for cleaner alternatives. As for firms without cleaner pathways, they can reduce their emissions through carbon capture. Existing technologies for capture, however, are too expensive, and run on too small a scale.… Continue reading
Why India should embrace Net Zero
In August last year, Coal India put out an eye-popping statement. Quote-tweeting India’s Union minister for coal, it said: “CIL is poised to become a “Net Zero Energy Maharatna PSU”.” The accompanying video had more details. Coal India would produce 3,000 MW of solar power by 2023-24, it said, enough to cover all of its… Continue reading
India’s solar sector #1. Dissonance, chaos and tumult
At first glance, all seems well in India’s solar sector. Its tariffs continue to crash. At the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI)’s auction last November, Saudi Arabia’s Aljoemaih Energy and Water Co and Green India Wind Energy, one of Sembcorp’s India investments, won after bidding ₹2 per unit. State-run NTPC wasn’t too far behind.… Continue reading
Why India’s GHG emissions are about to rise faster
This morning, Carbon Copy published the second – and concluding – part of my report on global fossil fuel companies making a beeline for India. It is a development which comes with large fallouts. In the past, every time India liberalised a nationalised sector, private players have gained at the cost of public sector entities… Continue reading
India’s great fossil fuels push
In global circles fighting climate change, India scores a passing grade. Take Climate Action Tracker, a website tracking countries’ actions on climate change. Citing India’s ambitious renewable energy targets — 450 GW by 2030 – it says the country is on “track to overachieve its ‘2˚C compatible’ rated Paris Agreement climate action targets”. If the… Continue reading
Reviving the Ganga #3. Three ways in which the Modi government is adding fresh stresses to the river
A century ago, the gharial could be found all the way from the Indus to the Irrawady. The thin-snouted, fish-eating member of the crocodile family was spread out over 20,000 sq km at the time, studies estimate, and numbered between 5,000 and 10,000. Now, no more than 200 breeding adults survive in the wild. The… Continue reading
Urban planning: Why Gujarat’s cities are losing their fight against a changing climate
Out today, the second — and concluding — part of our series on Gujarat and climate variability. Urban planning has seen a lot of changes in Gujarat. Take Rajkot. In 1973, when this town in Saurashtra became a municipality, its municipal corporation was responsible for urban planning. That changed in 1976 when Gujarat passed the… Continue reading
Gujarat is battered by heat waves, floods, drought. How are its cities coping?
What does the climate map of Gujarat currently look like? Southern parts of the state get fewer days of rainfall now. In Surat, for instance, locals say that rainfall patterns over the city began changing about 15 years ago, with the city getting fewer days of rain each year. However, the rainfall is more intense,… Continue reading
Can the courts save India’s rivers from pollution? Tirupur shows the answer is no
the second — and concluding — part of our trip down the Noyyal (see previous post). A slum sprawled on one side of the river. In the distance, a factory belched smoke in the air. The riverbed was overrun with weeds and crammed with plastic bags that were half buried into the earth. An earthmover… Continue reading
How a river in Tamil Nadu turned into a sewage canal
A narrow little rivulet splashes down, bouncing from boulder to boulder as it descends the rockface. It pauses to catch its breath in a tiny pool limned by trees, before rushing downhill again, merging with other streams to form a small river called the Noyyal. For centuries, the river’s 170-km course used to take it… Continue reading
A tsunami of debt is building up in Tamil Nadu – and no one knows where it is headed
G Venkatasubramanian trots out some astonishing numbers. Over the last 15 years, he and his fellow researchers at Pondicherry’s French Institute have been studying debt bondage among families in 20 villages in Tamil Nadu. Half of these settlements are in the coastal district of Cuddalore, and the others are in the adjoining district of Villupuram.… Continue reading
Why Tamil Nadu’s fisherfolk can no longer find fish
“What did you catch?” Alagairi Madhivanan shouts across to the fisherman in a small boat to our left. The young man stops scanning the net he has just pulled out of the lagoon, turns towards us and says, “Five fishes.” His answer echoes what Madhivanan has been telling me over the past hour as his… Continue reading
NASA scientist on how Earth is tipping (and spinning slowly) because of climate change
Think about how climate change affects earth and some obvious answers come to mind: Rainfall patterns will change, sea temperatures will rise, more corals will bleach, planetary wind systems will change, the number of extreme weather events will rise… But a paper published last month in scientific journal ScienceAdvances, added another change to what we… Continue reading
How climate change has sparked political and social unrest in Punjab this year
my first article on punjab is out. it looks at the recent whitefly attack on the state’s cotton crop and traces it back to worrying behaviour by the mid latitude westerlies and the collapse of extension work in the state. Continue reading
A puzzling assertion on climate change
In November 2009, the ministry of environment and forests released a discussion paper that argues there is no sign of any abnormal retreat among Indian glaciers. And says instead that it is “premature to make a statement that glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating abnormally because of … global warming”. This was a baffling statement.… Continue reading
I am an Indian journalist with interests in energy, environment, climate and India’s ongoing slide into right-wing authoritarianism. My book, Despite the State, an examination of pervasive state failure and democratic decay in India, was published by Westland Publications, India, in January 2021. My work has won the Bala Kailasam Memorial Award; the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award; and five Shriram Awards for Excellence in Financial Journalism. Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“…une plongée dans les failles béantes de la démocratie indienne, un compte rendu implacable du dysfonctionnement des Etats fédérés, minés par la corruption, le clientélisme, le culte de la personnalité des élus et le capitalisme de connivence. (…a dive into the gaping holes in Indian democracy, a relentless account of the dysfunction of the federated states, undermined by corruption, clientelism, the cult of the personality of elected officials and crony capitalism).” Le Monde
“…a critical enquiry into why representative government in India is flagging.” Biblio
“…strives for an understanding of the factors that enable governments and political parties to function in a way that is seemingly hostile to the interests of the very public they have been elected to serve, a gross anomaly in an electoral democracy.” Scroll.in
“M. Rajshekhar’s deeply researched book… holds a mirror to Indian democracy, and finds several cracks.” The Hindu
“…excels at connecting the local to the national.” Open
“…refreshingly new writing on the play between India’s dysfunctional democracy and its development challenges…” Seminar
“A patient mapping and thorough analysis of the Indian system’s horrific flaws…” Business Standard (Image here)
“33 മാസം, 6 സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങൾ, 120 റിപ്പോർട്ടുകൾ: ജനാധിപത്യം തേടി മഹത്തായ ഇന്ത്യൻ യാത്ര… (33 months, 6 states, 120 reports: Great Indian journey in search of democracy…)” Malayala Manorama
“Hindustan ki maujooda siyasi wa maaashi soorat e hal.” QindeelOnline
“What emerges is the image of a state that is extractive, dominant, casteist and clientelist.” Tribune
“…reporting at its best. The picture that emerges is of a democracy that has been hijacked by vested interests, interested only in power and pelf.” Moneycontrol.com
“Ten best non-fiction books of the year“, The Hindu.
“Twenty-One Notable Books From 2021“, The Wire.
“What has South Asia been reading: 2021 edition“, Himal Southasian
“Journalism is a social enterprise…,” Booksfirst.in.
“Democratic decay at state level: Journalist M Rajshekhar on book ‘Despite the State’,” The News Minute.
“Covid-19 en Inde : “des décès de masse” dont un “État obscurantiste est responsable,” Asialyst.
“JP to BJP: The Unanswered Questions“.
Mahtab Alam’s review of “JP to BJP: Bihar After Lalu and Nitish”.
“Urban History of Atmospheric Modernity in Colonial India“. Mohammad Sajjad’s review of “Dust and Smoke: Air Pollution and Colonial Urbanism, India, c1860-c1940”.
“Westland closure: Titles that are selling fast and a few personal recommendations,” by Chetana Divya Vasudev, Moneycontrol. (Because this happened too. In February, a year after DtS was released, Amazon decided to shutter Westland, which published the book. The announcement saw folks rushing to buy copies of Westland books before stocks run out.)
“Time to change tack on counterinsurgency” by TK Arun, The Federal.
“All Things Policy: The Challenges of Governing States” by Suman Joshi and Sarthak Pradhan, Takshashila Institute (podcast).
“The Future of Entertainment“, Kaveree Bamzai in Open.
“On What India’s Watching“, Prathyush Parasuraman on Substack.
“The puppeteers around us“, Karthik Venkatesh in Deccan Herald.
“Will TN election manifestos continue ‘populist’ welfare schemes?“, Anna Isaac for The News Minute.
“Why wages-for-housework won’t help women“, V Geetha in Indian Express.
“The poor state of the Indian state“, Arun Maira in The Hindu.
12 November, 2022: Stop Loss: Overcoming the systemic failures of the Indian State. Tata Literature Festival, Mumbai.
26 December, 2021: Rangashankara, Bangalore, a discussion with Dhanya Rajendran.
16 November: Rachna Books, Gangtok, a discussion with Pema Wangchuk.
29 August: Books In The Time of Chaos, with Ujwal Kumar.
21 May: Hyderabad Lit Fest with Kaveree Bamzai and Aniruddha Bahal.
28 March: Paalam Books, Salem, Tamil Nadu.
19 March: The News Minute, “Citizens, the State, and the idea of India“
6 March: Pen@Prithvi, with Suhit Kelkar
20 February: A discussion between scholars Usha Ramanathan, Tridip Suhrud, MS Sriram and me to formally launch Despite the State.
6 February: DogEars Bookshop, Margoa.
5 February: The Polis Project, Dispatches with Suchitra Vijayan.
30 January: Founding Fuel, “Systems Thinking, State Capacity and Grassroots Development“.
25 January: Miranda House Literary Society