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!”