Articles by Mahesh RangarajanSubscribe to Mahesh Rangarajan

A Man of Ideas and a Woman with a Sense of Power

Intertwined Lives: P N Haksar and Indira Gandhi by Jairam Ramesh, New Delhi: Simon and Schuster, 2018; pp xvi + 518, ₹ 799.

Fire in the Forest

The Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005 that is expected to be tabled in Parliament in the winter session has revealed a deep chasm between advocates of adivasi land rights and those who favour continued retention of these lands by the state forest departments. The deep disaffection in adivasi areas and among other forest-reliant peoples cannot be ignored but ecological concerns do exist and cannot be wished away. A two-track approach is needed to give force to the bill. One is to recognise rights in forests outside the protected area network and the other is to provide for a case-by-case evaluation of not only the biology but also the socio-economic character of settlements within parks and sanctuaries.

Polity in Transition

The general elections of May 2004 in India saw the ousting of the National Democratic Alliance and the victory of a Congress-led coalition. Though Indian politics has since undergone a significant shift, with the Congress entering into power-sharing arrangements with smaller formations, an unusual situation at the apex finds corollary shifts in the base of the body politic. The ascendancy of 'regional' parties and the increasing electoral clout of marginal groups have been major developments. How these forces will govern in an era of economic reform will influence India's future. Political and institutional challenges will continue to matter, but whether or not the Nehru-Gandhi clan can restore the fortunes of their party is still unclear. It will also be worth watching how the opposition re-groups and how far the ruling coalition resolves internal contradiction

The Polity: BJP Prepares for the Morrow

Unlike any other political entity in the country, the BJP is an arm, a front organisation, and an extension of another organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. In the Eighties there was a fundamental transformation in the mass character of the party: on the heels of the VHP's test runs with emotive symbols the party cashed in to reap a rich harvest of votes. When these proved inadequate to reach power without back-pedalling the core issues, a compromise was arrived at. The issues were deferred but never renounced. They were put on the shelf, ready to be activated when the time was ripe. Such a time had clearly arrived by mid-March 2002 for a variety of reasons.

Congress: Hopes and Home Truths

There is elation in the Congress camp following the assembly elections that belie the need for urgent introspection within and without. The Congress is yet to begin adjusting to the realities of a multipolar polity in which their leader does not naturally gravitate to power. In an as yet evolving, amorphous situation, the Congress's role may yet be a critical one.

Ecology Dilemmas and Problems

Mahesh Rangarajan Ecology and Equity: The Use and Abuse Of Nature in Contemporary India by Madhav Gadgil and Ramachandra Guha; Penguin, 1995; pp 213, Rs 150.

Paranoia Masquerading as a Review

for empowering women, along with a well- defined gender development index to monitor the impact of its implementation in raising the status of women from time to time. The plan document, time and again, speaks of capacity building. However, at the operational part, it speaks only of invigorating some of the traditional programmes like 'Rashtriya Mahila Kosh'.

The Politics of Ecology-The Debate on Wildlife and People in India, 1970-95

The Debate on Wildlife and People in India, 1970-95 Mahesh Rangarajan If the older preservationist agenda looks like it is in deep trouble, it still has a lot of life left in it. The preservationists' shortcoming was their reliance on the state machinery, in particular on the legislative and executive power of the union government. But neither a technocracy or bureaucracy acting as the arbiter of conflicts nor a free market system which may tilt towards privatisation of open access resources would address ecological issues adequately, whereas the assertion of people's rights has the potential for a different kind of conservation-oriented control of their lives and lands. The question then becomes one of working out a new set of relations with the forest which will be enduring both for the people and the natural world. How this will be done at a time of demographic growth and agrarian intensification will be a major challenge and site-specific approaches will play a vital role.

Nuanced View of Swidden Cultivation

was delivered to the poor: first, a guaranteed supply of food; secondly, a storage network; thirdly, a transportation network; and fourthly, genuine community participation. A key organisational innovation of SAM was the involvement of the community in the supervision of the system of retail food distribution. The management of rural stores was put under the "direction of elected village committees" (p 116, emphasis added). Each village committee was to choose two representatives to be on the Community Food Council, a regional body, to ensure that subsidised food reached the village stores on time.

Towards a People s Science Movement

Towards a People's Science Movement Anwar Jaffry Mahesh Rangarajan B Ekbal K P Kannan A LARGE number of groups are working, mostly on a voluntary basis, in areas which may be said to fall on the interface of science and society. Some are attempting to popularise the natural sciences; some are engaged in focusing attention on the unscientific attitudes and policies towards such basic issues as health; some are engaged in highlighting the adverse impact of development activities as a result of inadequate and often wrong application of science and technology, particularly in the field of environment; a few are engaged in demonstrating innovative and interesting ways of teaching science, while quite a number are' engaged in' development activities in the areas of health, nonformal education, appropriate technology, housing, etc, bused on their scientific knowledge. Apart from such specific activities, attempts are also under way, as in Kerala, to develop a People's Science Movement (PSM for short) fusing the numerous activities listed above with the help of the spoken and the printed word as well as the various art forms of the people. The. underlying motive for such a PSM has arisen from the need to enhance the people's capability to understand and analyse social issues in a scientific framework, It is the use of science, in one way or the other, in the activities of these various groups which -has created a common thread bringing them together under the banner of PSM.
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