Skip to main content


Showing posts from February 4, 2017

Diagnose the discord (downtoearth)

Sitting in a surgical oncologist’s cabin, Shyam Babu (name changed) curses the day he gave in to his old habit of chewing tobacco and consuming alcohol. Just six years ago, the 63-year-old Delhi-based textile businessman had successfully defeated mouth cancer. He now suffers a relapse of the disease. “I am talking with a lot of pain and great difficulty,” says Babu, as he shows marks around his neck caused by radiotherapy.

Tobacco-related cancers, which include the cancer of lip, tongue, mouth, oropharynx, hypopharynx, pharynx, oesophagus, larynx, lung and urinary bladder, have emerged as the biggest cancer group in the country. Though easily preventable, they account for about 30 per cent of the country’s total cancer load. In the Northeast alone, tobacco is responsible for 60 per cent of the cancer cases (see ‘Life in cancer capital’).

This is the finding of the consolidated reports of cancer registries, released by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in May. ICMR started…

After US, rising sea level may soon gobble up an entire island in Canada (downtoearth,)

Lennox Island, on the east coast of Canada, is drastically changing its character as the place has started seeing warmer winter and rising sea level. Between 1880 and 2015, the area of the island shrunk from 1,520 acres to 1,100 acres, indicating more than 300 football fields worth of land have been gobbled up by the sea within the span of a few generations. While the island is experiencing fiercer and more frequent storms, the warmer winters are gnawing at the ice cover that has traditionally protected the shores for months. Is the Canadian island going to suffer the same fate as the vanishing island in Louisiana in the US? The possibility can’t be ruled out. Layers of concern It is to be noted that Lennox Island is vulnerable to coastal erosion because it’s made of sand and sandstone and lacks hard bedrock. In this low-lying island, sacred burial grounds have started getting washed away and baseball courts are already under the water. Homes, which were once comfortably elevated, now…

Confusion is the BCCI’s ally, hence the need for clarity (Hindu.)

The leadership crisis in Indian cricket administration is being prolonged. There is much work to be done; in fact, the real work hasn’t begun yet. The current uncertainty is anathema to stability.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India can use confusion to its advantage. The delay in naming the Committee of Administrators charged with getting the house in order cannot be good for cricket.

An important home series — against Australia — is round the corner (before that there is the Test against Bangladesh), IPL deals need to be worked out soon, there is the matter of crucial International Cricket Council meetings coming up, and the BCCI remains headless, and largely bodyless too. Indian cricket cannot afford to have inactivity replace over-activity; it is better to have a bad administration than no administration at all.

If the Supreme Court is seeking perfection, that is an impossible dream. Bishan Bedi, rumoured to have been in the Supreme Court’s list that was to be announced yes…

Tracking the oil spill (downtoearth,)

Concerns are elevating over the oil spill near Chennai, as revised estimates present proof of a much larger environmental disaster. In a new development, the Centre on February 4, has claimed that over 65 tonnes of sludge has been removed from the sea, and 90 per cent of the work is completed.

On the other hand, Tamil Nadu fisheries minister D Jayakumar, speaking to reporters on February 3, said nearly 85 per cent oil has been removed from the sea. The coast guard claimed that 72 tonnes of oil sludge has been removed.

Another media report claimed that the size of the spill was around 116 tonnes and would take 10 more days to be cleaned.

The scale of oil spill was initially estimated to be around 200 litres. The number was later updated to two tonnes and then three tonnes. It was revised again to 20 tonnes and later, 40 tonnes. The changing estimations and unsynchronised statements by officials not only raise questions on our ability to understand a disaster but more importantly, on o…

A season to repair relations (hindu,)

It’s time for a comprehensive, open dialogue between India and China to promote communication and connectivity in diverse spheres and preserve the peace on our shared borders

The Chinese Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, recently put forward some suggestions for improvement of bilateral ties between China and India. The suggestions are timely since relations between the two Asian giants have looked tired and worn in recent months. The voices from the gallery have been worrisome. China’s obduracy on India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) bid, its incomprehensible stand on the listing of known terrorist-progenitor Masood Azhar under the U.N. Security Council’s 1267 Committee, the deployment of Chinese military and engineering assets in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are all pointers to a complex and tension-riddled relationship.

Absence of trust

On the CPEC, the Prime Minister himself, speaking at the Raisina Dialogue in New …

Monumental mistakes(hindu,)

Without architecture, we cannot remember.”— John Ruskin, ‘The Seven Lamps of Architecture’

When the British occupied Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi), they remodelled the city and the Mughal Red Fort to suit their convenience. Around 80% of the buildings inside the Red Fort were demolished to make way for military barracks. Mansions and havelis were brought down to make way for broader, new roads so that the British had easy access for defence purposes, in case the people decided to ‘rebel’ against them again. Perhaps everything would have got demolished but for a horrified Charles Canning who tried to preserve our heritage.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was formed in 1861 by a statute passed into law by Canning, with Alexander Cunningham as its first Archaeological Surveyor, to excavate and conserve India’s ancient built heritage.

Preserving heritage

In 1904, a Cambridge classics scholar, who was the Director General of ASI, formulated the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 190…

Tarred by the oil spill (Hindu.)

The destruction caused to a significant part of the Chennai coastline from the oil spill that followed a collision between two ships is both tragic and ironic. A large quantity of oil was released into the sea, affecting marine life and livelihoods of coastal communities. What makes the collision ironic is that it comes at a time when there is steadily declining pollution due to such incidents. Ship collisions are less common today because GPS-based navigation systems have made their operation much safer. It is apparent that the first response to the Chennai collision involving an LPG tanker and the fuel carrier off the Kamarajar Port was seriously deficient. The port initially denied any significant environmental damage from oil, but as the scale of the disaster began to unfold, and a large number of dead turtles and fish were washed ashore, it became obvious that the spill had not been quickly contained. Such failure calls into question the efficacy of the National Oil Spill Disast…