Five months of a Fulbright-Nehru fellowship is coming to a close. Given that the fellowship involves both the US and Indian governments, there was just a wee bit of paperwork. At. Every. Step. [Has anyone else ever known where I’ve slept each and every night?] As it all wraps up, there was a final report. Actually, two. A couple questions seemed worth sharing. [Read more…]
It’s the one year anniversary of the brutal gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in New Delhi. The date also marks the night — The Times of India reminds us this morning — when a nine-year-old boy named Raju was assaulted and sodomized in the city, and Razia left her toilet-free home for relief and was attacked. It’s not just the young modern educated girls out carousing with their boyfriends (How dare she. A movie? Out at 9:00 pm?) who are at risk. It’s not just girls. The protests that erupted were in the name of Nirbhaya, the student, but they were also for these two, and for all those whose skins and boundaries have been unwillingly transgressed at the hands of another. [Read more…]
On my way back from Mussoorie, I stopped for a couple of days at Navdanya. Here’s how they describe themselves:
Navdanya is a network of seed keepers and organic producers spread across 17 states in India.
Navdanya has helped set up 111 community seed banks across the country, trained over 5,00,000 farmers in seed sovereignty, food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture over the past two decades, and helped setup the largest direct marketing, fair trade organic network in the country.
Navdanya has also set up a learning center, Bija Vidyapeeth (School of the Seed / Earth University) on its biodiversity conservation and organic farm in Doon Valley, Uttarakhand, North India. [Read more…]
It was a pleasure to join Camille Buat and the locals and travelers and students of Landour for a double-talk evening. Camille spoke about the complicated forces at work within the labor movement of the jute industry in 1930s’ Calcutta (sometimes labor won!), and I shared some photos and thoughts on the work-in-progress of Elemental India.
Days before I got on a plane to head to India to continue researching and reporting my book, it was sold in the USA. (HarperCollins India will be publishing it in South Asia.) Here’s the official announcement:
Meera Subramanian’s ELEMENTAL INDIA, a bittersweet tapestry of five stories dealing with life, loss, and survival set against the lush backdrop of India’s natural world that renders the storm of opinions around natural resources into an intimate drama, to Clive Priddle at Public Affairs, by Elise Capron at Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency (NA).
Now, to work…
The death of 23 schoolchildren last month in Bihar after they ate a free school lunch that was tainted with an abundantly used pesticide is just a reminder of the extensive presence of these chemicals in all facets of life in India. Last week, I spoke with radio host Carol Hills of PRI’s The World about the issue. Thanks to Peter Thomson for producing it.
India is still reeling from the deaths of 23 schoolchildren in the village of Dharmasati Gandawa in Bihar on July 17 after they ate a free school lunch that was made with cooking oil tainted with the pesticide monocrotophos. The police say that the cooking oil might have been kept in a container that once held the pesticide.
The devastating event in Bihar reveals a larger problem in India that stems from the wide use of biocides in myriad forms, in cities and villages, in homes and fields.
J. William Fulbright was an American senator from the south who fought McCarthyism and the Vietnam War, and in the time in between, set up the Fulbright program in hopes of infusing “a little more reason, and a little more compassion into world affairs.” Jawaharlal Nehru was India’s first prime minister, a man who — in the words of scholar Ananya Vajpeyi — “is himself caught up in the subtle alchemy that transforms him into the leader of all Indians and all Indians into the People of India.”
Their legacies live on in both their countries, and I’m elated to announce I’ll be tapping into that heritage as a Fulbright-Nehru Research Scholar in 2013-14. The funding will allow me to spend five months in India, reporting, researching and writing my first book, Elemental India. To say I’m not quite sure how I would have done it without this support is no small understatement. On behalf of struggling journalists everywhere, I bellow, “Thank you!”