MD Writes...

The tragic death of thousands in Uttarakhand brings forth the question of man's relation with this environment. It takes years, often decades for development; but to wipe it out take just a few hours! This month's wallpaper visualises the monsoon clouds against a serene beach. Learning from the intriguing message from Chanakya's wisdom, we need to distill feasible solutions from academic literature and other similar efforts to provide affordable, implementable and sustainable solutions for development. The monsoon clouds hence would urge us to be the distiller and carrier of pure and useful solutions for a developing world. 
- Ashwajit Singh


Dear Subhashish
Hello, The modern makers of Uttarakhand dreamed of making it the "energy capital" of India by taming its rivers, blasting its hills and building dams ignoring the issues related to ecology and environment. Development activities, hence, need to be more scientific and robust, taking into account the ecological concerns and people's requirements. This issue highlights Census 2011 data on literacy and workers along with NSSO findings. Interesting news on global cooperation, good practices and the new drug price control. Some innovative internet applications show that IT is going to play a crucial role in development  in the near future. We hope you Stay Inspired. Stay Ahead!! - Abdul Rahim & Anindita Roy


Disaster Preparedness: Lessons from Uttarakhand

While there is still no clarity on the cause of the North India Floods especially in Uttarakhand (Kedarnath) in June 2013, the entire episode shook the nation by its scale of devastation and India's limited ability to manage such disasters. While the official death estimate is 5,748, more than 30,000 people were rescued and indiscriminate development is being touted as the major cause of the deaths. No wonder the tragedy is being labelled a man-made natural disaster.

India's large geographical area, variations in topography and climate and a population of 1,200 million pose several challenges to manage disasters. As in Kedarnath, congregations at religious sites make it extremely challenging in case of disasters. As sociologist Shiv Visvanathan says, 'Indian tragedies are social tragedies'.
However, despite a formidable National Disaster Management System built up over the last decade, there is hardly any evidence to show disaster preparedness and / or quicker or more efficient management than previous years. The Disaster Management Portfolio includes:

In the end, it was the Army which was the major saviour (see pics) along with NGOs and Volunteers. Google also launched a “Person Finder” application allowing individuals to post and search for the status of relatives or friends affected by a disaster.
While the government admits its failures, what remains to be seen is whether Uttarakhand acts as a wake-up call for developing countries on disaster preparedness; or whether it is just another blip on the radar of development.
Report of the CAG India on performance Audit of Disaster Preparedness in India
Read The Special Issue of Down to Earth

India's agro population drops below 50%

It has almost become a cliche to say that 'two-thirds of India is dependent on agriculture' - but that is all set to change now. According to data from the 68th round (July 2011-June 2012) survey by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), released in June 2013, the proportion of people employed in agriculture has fallen to its lowest level ever at 49%. This reflects a maturing of the Indian economy and a clear movement towards secondary and tertiary sectors, although there may be issues about the pace of change.
As an economy grows, it forces a sectoral shift away from agriculture towards manufacturing and services. This had already taken place in terms of the sectoral contribution of GDP, but was seemingly sticky with respect to employment.
  • Among the workers in the usual status (primary + supplementary source) (ps+ss), about 49%, 24% and 27% were engaged in agricultural, secondary and tertiary sector, respectively;
  • In rural areas, nearly 59% of the usual status (ps+ss) male workers and nearly 75% of the female workers were engaged in the agricultural sector.
  • In urban areas, nearly 59% of male workers and 55% of the female workers were engaged in the tertiary sector.
Further, the latest Census of India report shows that the numbers of farmers have dipped by over 8.6 million in the past decade. "Cultivators," as the Indian government describes farmers, now total some 119 million, making them the second-largest group in the workforce in absolute numbers, but representing just below 25 percent of the total number of workers, down from about one-third in 2001. While the number of “cultivators” has been decreasing, there are actually now more agricultural laborers (that is, people who work on farms but do not own the land) – numbering some 144 million, or 30 percent of the total workforce, up from 26.5 percent in 2001.

New order on Drug Price Control
A new Drug Price Control Order (DPCO 2013) was announced in May 2013. The simple average price control formula and other features of the National Pharma Pricing Policy (NPPP 2012) now find confirmation in it with the hope that prices of medicines will reduce and super-profits will be curtailed through the government's drug control measures.
The new order is set to regulate the prices of 348 essential drugs listed in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM).Forty life-saving medicines like cancer, diabetes drugs have been brought under this price control .Read More
Lessons and Insights from South Asia
A recent ADB publication - Developing South Asia: Lessons and Insights, showcases eight projects that delivered exemplary and significant results in their implementation. These projects represent various sectors such as energy, urban development, transport, information and communications technology, irrigation, and disaster risk reduction. This knowledge product aims to be a useful reference for mainstreaming good practices that could be replicated across the countries of the region. Read more

Awarding Nutrition Champions
The research consortium Transform Nutrition along with IDS, has teamed up with the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement to launch a new initiative to find the 'unsung heroes' of nutrition. This initiative is looking to recognise individuals who are innovating or influencing to improve nutrition and whose work has started to make a real difference in their locality in recent years. Nominations have been invited from the 34 countries that collectively contribute 90% global stunting burden.
Data + Tech = Health
Joel Selanikio is a Health and technology activist who started to experiment with electronic data capture back when the Palm Pilot was cutting edge technology. He has helped to experiment with the growing potential and availability of technology--and the growing ubiquity of the cloud - combining the two has led to systems such as Magpi mobile data collection software. Previously known as "EpiSurveyor," the service now has over 20,000 users in more than 170 countries. In this TED talk he shares his ideas of combining technology and data to help solve global health challenges. Watch Now
The Fall of the Rupee
The exchange rate of the Indian Rupee per US Dollar has hit the key psychological level of 60.00.The rising strength of the dollar, widening trade deficit, weakness in domestic equities, rising import bills and weakness in economic fundamentals contribute to the fall of the rupee, as suggested by analysts. On the other side, NRIs have grown much more interested in investing in Indian real estate than before, a record-breaking number of NRIs have been lining up to send money home even by taking loans and moreover, India has become a more attractive tourist destination amid the sharp depreciation in the rupee
Using tools and information to reduce Child Mortality
The first anniversary of the Child Survival: Call to Action brought global leaders to determine what is needed to change health-related behaviors in lower and middle income countries (LMICs) and reduce under-five mortality.  The summit marked a broad commitment to provide science-based tools and information to caregivers, families,  communities, and health systems on how to accelerate progress on child survival in the last 1,000 days leading up to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) deadline of December 2015. Read India's initiatives
Mobile App to track Development
The fourth edition of the Atlas of Global Development provides a visual guide to global challenges with easy-to-read maps, tables, and charts on every topic. The Atlas by Collins app offers instant access to the World Bank Development Globe and World Bank Economy Globe, allowing users to visualize progress on topics like poverty, population growth, food production, climate change, foreign direct investment and international trade, using their mobile device.
Google's bringing remote areas online
Google-initiated Project Loon is a network of balloons traveling on the edge of space, designed to connect people in rural and remote areas, help fill coverage gaps, and bring people back online. Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere and are carried around the Earth by winds and they can be steered in the desired direction. People connect to the balloon network using a special Internet antenna attached to their building. The signal bounces from balloon to balloon, then to the global Internet back on Earth. Project Loon started in June 2013 with an experimental pilot in New Zealand.
Reducing Gender Gap in Literacy
The Government of India on 12 June 2013 announced that it has set a target to achieve 80 percent literacy rate in the country by 2017. The literacy rate of the country at present is 74 percent. The government aims to strengthen the Panchayati Raj Institutions as it serves as a vital leverage to promote education in general and literacy in particular. The Saakshar Bharat Programme works as an instrument of literacy and empowerment as well as the agent of change to create equal and inclusive India.The Government has also stressed on the need to bridge the gender gap in rural and urban areas to attain the target. View
USAID and DFID join hands to end poverty
The USAID and DFID announced plans to build a global investment platform that reimagines how to support breakthrough solutions to the world’s most intractable development challenges. The mission of the Global Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) will be to focus resources in international development towards innovative approaches with proven, radically successful results. The fund would enable entrepreneurs, academics and NGOs to secure financial backing for solutions to the most pressing problems facing the developing world. Read more
Harvesting water in Temples
Pandit Purushotam Gaur, known as Guruji, in Jaipur has initiated an unique endeavour to harvest water in the temples. The astrologer and social activist has turned the religious practice of offering water and milk in temples into a unique way of water conservation. He has developed his system in more than 300 temples in Rajasthan over the past 13 years. The water that literally used to go down the drain is now channeled from temples through several filter chambers before it drained into the ground and recharges ground water level. Read more
Games for a cause
Next time you feel like gaming, think of a change from violence, wiza
rds, wars and car races. A new breed of developers are creating computer games that not only entertain, but also inform and educate one about social issues.Address issues related to women while playing Half the sky movement, learn more about natural disasters while playing Stop disasters, keep your city clean through The garbage dreams game and more on climate change in Eskom energy planner etc. Read more