India: Pesticide Takeover Spells Trouble for Bees | Asia-Pacific Research

07-12-20 11:13:00,

When the history of the insect collapse of the early 21st century comes to be written, it is likely that failure to implement adequate corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices will be blamed.

In a recent example, in September when a consortium led by Japanese giant Mitsui Corporation announced its acquisition of Indian pesticide manufacturer Bharat Insecticides Ltd. (BIL), the reasons given for the takeover contradict Mitsui’s published CSR policy.

The result is likely to be a further decrease in pollinating insects in India. On its website, BIL lists several neonicotinoid insecticides for sale in India that have been banned in the EU due to their effects on bees, as well as fipronil which has been banned in China due to its devastating effects on water insects.

Crops

Pesticides Action Network India representative Narasimha Reddy Donthi said by email that the acquisition will allow access to the Indian market as BIL already has licenses there.

In addition, Donthi said that insecticide exports are also a likely aim as “India has lax laws on environment protection, which means low cost of production, through externalisation of environmental costs.”

Donthi added that, “all pesticide companies have to submit to principles of liability and pollution pays principles.

“Products such as neonicotinoids are playing havoc with the people, environment and ecology. This foreign acquisition only spurs a more expansive campaign to rein in companies that are profiting from destruction of ecology and environment.”

The situation in India is deteriorating rapidly, according to a 2017 peer-reviewed study by a team from the Centre for Pollination Studies at the University of Calcutta published in the journal Biological Conservation.

Using observations by local farmers due to the lack of prior scientific studies, the study found that together with declining vegetable crop yields, insect pollinator populations had dropped drastically compared with 25 years before.

Takeover

The disappearing insects include honeybees, carpenter bees and blue-banded bees, and the paper states that pollinator declines were attributed by farmers to the quantity and number of pesticides used.

Lead scientist Dr Barbara Smith told The Ecologist: “An increase in insecticide application is likely to be negative for pollinators – particularly broad spectrum pesticides – and this could certainly lead to declines in crop yields in the medium to long-term.”

Mitsui’s Basic CSR Policy states that the company will “contribute to the achievement of a sustainable society through the promotion of sustainable development as well as maintaining a strong awareness of the importance of preserving the global environment.”

It also emphasises the importance of communicating with stakeholders and being accountable for CSR activities.

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India: Largest Strike in World History : Over 200 Million Workers and Farmers Protest against Poverty and Unemployment – Global Research

06-12-20 03:41:00,

Barely Covered by the Mainstream Media

The general strike occurred in the context of the devastation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in India.  Added to this are the millions of people who have lost income and who now face increased poverty and hunger, in a country where even before the pandemic 50 percent of all children suffered malnourishment.

by Maria Aurelio (Left Voice)

On Thursday over 200 million workers held a one day general strike in India. They were joined by farmers in mass actions across the country against the right-wing government of Narendra Modi.

On Thursday, some 200 million workers held a one day general strike in India. This massive day of action was called by 10 trade unions and over 250 farmers organizations and was accompanied by massive protests and a near total shutdown of some Indian states. According to the call put out by unions, the general strike was organized against “the anti-people, anti-worker, anti-national and destructive policies of the BJP government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Their demands included:

  • The withdrawal of all “anti-farmer laws and anti-worker labour codes”
  • The payment of 7,500 rupees in the accounts of each non-tax paying family
  • Monthly supply of 10 kg of food to needy families
  • The expansion of the MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act of 2005) to include 200 workdays each year, higher wages, and the Act’s extension to urban industries
  • Stop the “privatisation of the public sector, including the financial sector, and stop corporatisation of government-run manufacturing and service entities like railways, ordnance factories, ports, etc.”
  • The withdrawal of the “draconian forced premature retirement of government and PSU (public sector) employees”
  • Pensions for all, the scrapping of the National Pension System and the reimposition of the earlier pension plan with amendments

Workers in nearly all of India’s major industries — including steel, coal, telecommunications, engineering, transportation, ports, and banking — joined the strike. Students, domestic workers, taxi drivers, and other sectors also participated in the nationwide day of action.

In addition to the demands of the nationwide strike,

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China vs India: Who Benefits? | New Eastern Outlook

23-06-20 07:39:00,

ND5323

A recent border dispute between China and India have resulted in multiple casualties including deaths. It is the first time in decades that this scale of violence has been seen between the two nations. Western headlines have immediately tried to play up the notion of conflict between China and India, but to what end?

China and India respectively have the two largest populations. Both find themselves within the top 5 largest economies on Earth. Both have tremendous historical, cultural, and political influence regionally as well as growing influence globally.

Recent headlines have focused on a simmering conflict along China and India’s borders, but at other times in recent years, Chinese and Indian cooperation have been on the rise – a fact conveniently underreported in many articles.

Of course, neither China nor India as nations benefit from armed conflict between one another. Both nations possess large conventional armed forces and both nations possess nuclear weapons. Both nations have suffered from the impact of COVID-19 economically. A large-scale conflict would be costly and catastrophic for China and India.

China has maintained that it was merely responding to Indian aggression along the border and claims it seeks to quickly deescalate tensions.

China’s CGTN in an article titled, “China’s military urges India to stop provocative actions along border areas,” would claim:

China’s military voiced strong dissatisfaction and opposition Tuesday to India’s provocative actions on Monday evening in the Galwan Valley region, which caused severe clashes and casualties. It urged India to go back to the right track in properly managing disputes.

Conversely, India’s media tells a different tale. The violence has been immediately leaped upon by hawks to bolster entirely unrelated issues involving China’s “challenge” to the international “status quo.” It is a narrative that sounds torn straight from a Washington-based think tank’s white papers.

The Indian Express in an article titled, “Explained: What the clash in Ladakh underlines, and what India must do in face of the Chinese challenge,” cites Indian politicians, explaining that the incident serves as impetus to create a wider confrontation with China in a bid to roll back not only its regional influence – but its growing global reach.

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India’s strict Covid-19 lockdown puts 122 MILLION people out of work

01-06-20 12:27:00,

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) said on Monday that India’s unemployment rate in May rose to 23.48 percent as a result of the pandemic lockdown. The May figure is marginally lower from April’s 23.52 percent rate.

Some 122 million Indians were forced out of jobs last month alone, according to CMIE’s estimates. Daily wage workers and those employed by small businesses have taken the worst hit, it said. Among these are roadside vendors, people employed in the construction industry, rickshaws and many others.

Statistics show that urban India has a higher unemployment rate and a lower labor participation rate compared to rural India.

CMIE said earlier that the economic measures announced by the government aren’t going to kick in for some time and industry will likely struggle to restart because of the flight of labor from India’s industrial hubs. 

Also on rt.com
Indian economy to contract sharply as pandemic cripples activity – S&P

Government data showed the country’s infrastructure output, which contributes nearly 40 percent in industrial production, has contracted 38.1 percent in April from a year earlier. That’s the worst performance in years. 

India went into a strict lockdown more than two months ago due to coronavirus outbreak. Official data suggests that decision prevented the loss of between 37,000 and 78,000 lives.

READ MORE: India’s unemployment rate remains high despite lifting of lockdown measures

On Saturday, the country announced plans to start easing its strict national lockdown. As part of a three-phase plan, from June 8 restaurants, hotels, shopping centers and places of worship will be allowed to re-open in many areas. Weeks later (probably in July) schools and colleges will resume teaching.

As of Monday, the country has recorded over 191,000 Covid-19 cases and more than 5,400 deaths.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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Is India Fighting COVID-19 the “Mass Surveillance” Way? – Activist Post

04-04-20 07:13:00,

By Subhashish Panigrahi

In addition to a country-wide lockdown, India is has been experimenting with technology that will help them control the spread of COVID-19. On April 2, the government launched its COVD-19 mobile tracking app, Aarogya Setu. The app, which alerts users when they are within six feet of a person infected with the coronavirus, is creating major concerns about potential digital security issues.

Arogya Setu App – Stay informed with the latest updates on the fight against COVID-19.

The Government has launched a Bluetooth based ‘Aarogya Setu’ app to strengthen the fight against COVID-19.

pic.twitter.com/O5SdjHPBEX

— Gujarat Information (@InfoGujarat) April 4, 2020

Aarogya Setu users sign up using their mobile phone number and can add personal details as well as past travel history. A feature allows users to perform a self-assessment if they suspect they might be infected with the virus.  It also alerts government authorities if a person’s tracked details — such as recent travel to any country with high infection rate or medical symptoms — draw suspicion. The app was developed by the National Informatics Centre under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) who claim that data they collect will only be shared with government agencies. Google Play store has already registered more than one million installations of the app.

During the launch of Aargogya Setu, Neeta Verma, General Director of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) said:

[…] the app will enable people to assist themselves [from] the risks of catching coronavirus infections. The risk score is calculated based on their interactions with others using cutting edge Bluetooth technology, algorithms and artificial intelligence. Citizen privacy is taken into account while designing the app. Personal data collected stays secure on the phone until it is needed for medical intervention.

In a series of tweets, Krishnaswamy Vijay Raghavan, principal scientific adviser to the Indian government, says the app will let citizens know if they accidentally come in contact with infected people around them. In one of the tweets,

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