The Mint City Wrap is a curation of the most compelling stories emerging from our cities today. While the focus is on urban centres, the Mint City Wrap engages with wider geographies in the effort to connect stories with each other across places and borders.
The distress of migration
In drought-stricken Marathwada, distress migration is reportedly on the rise even as rural authorities and activists clash about the availability of jobs under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The situation is not very different in Bengaluru, where water scarcity has forced villagers to leave their farms in Raichur and Yadgir districts for work and water in Benguluru. Storm surges and river erosion have been forcing rural families into Dhaka in search of work, spurring the need to align urban development to the twin futures of climate change and distress migration. As Scroll highlights, the farmers who arrive in the cities for construction labour do not find work easily and have to live under flyovers and slums. The exodus of able-bodied labour to the cities has also left behind ghost villages inhabited by only children and the elderly.
Wild versus urban, a bleak fight
This picture of a herd of elephants struggling to cross a four-lane highway in Coimbatore is symptomatic of development that has not yet figured how to balance urbanization with ecology. Parts of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh are facing acute water scarcity as the water sources to these areas have been redirected to ensure uninterrupted supply to Delhi and Noida. The wildlife of Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand is particularly affected by the water shortage. Majid Maqbool, writing for The Wire, argues that the rising incidence of man-wildlife conflict in Kashmir can be attributed to conversion of forests into croplands and settlements, and reduction in the food base and prey available to predators.
High air and water pollution across Indian cities
Mayank Aggarwal, writing for Mint, reports that moving out of Delhi and Mumbai to duck pollution is ineffectual in the face of extensive and severe air and water pollution in 41 tier II cities. Union minister for forests, environment and climate change, Prakash Javadekar, said in Parliament on Tuesday, “analysis of data shows that 41 cities exceed the ambient air quality standard. In addition, these cities are also facing problem of water pollution due to discharges of untreated sewage".
Meanwhile in France, a few environmentalists went rogue and dyed 12 rivers neon green to raise a hue and cry about pollution.
Why do rapists get away with murder?
In an ongoing series on sexual violence, a person accused of rape in Delhi has an 83% chance of acquittal. The low conviction rate is enabled by shoddy investigative procedures, the inept handling of forensic evidence and the lack of a proper witness protection programme.
NASA and Tesla, it’s time we had that talk
Space X announced that it would send its Dragon capsule to Mars by 2018. But as we get serious about interplanetary travel, there ought to be more discussion on menstruation in space, as well as that one troubling detail of human life—sex. NASA has been famously tight-lipped on both fronts. In 1983, NASA astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman to fly in space. She was approached by a group of NASA engineers and asked if 100 tampons would be enough for a six day mission. You have to be a woman to know why that is hilarious. From the article, “If humans are really going to live permanently on multiple planets, then sex is going to be part of that, so figuring out exactly what happens to the body during reproduction and gestation in space and on other planets is an important next step."
Why should you listen to Mashrou’ Leila?
Mashrou’ Leila is a Lebanese alternative rock band whose songs feature unabashed critiques of Lebanese society and politics. Mashrou’ Leila’s music was called the ‘Soundtrack of the Arab Spring’. Predictably, their music has been perceived as a threat by the Jordanian government, which cancelled a much-anticipated concert in Amman. Reason? Mashrou’ Leila’s music is incompatible with Jordanian customs and traditions. Why does this line of reasoning sound so familiar?
Listen to one of their best songs here.