Hafta 227: Environmental journalism, Patanjali in the Aravallis, Uttarakhand forest fires and more

Hafta 227: Environmental journalism, Patanjali in the Aravallis, Uttarakhand forest fires and more

The podcast where we discuss the news of the week.

By NL Team

Published on :

In this week’s episode, Manisha Pande wears the host’s hat and is joined by Newslaundry’s Raman Kirpal and guests Nitin Sethi and Hridayesh Joshi to discuss climate change and environment reporting in India, among other topics.

The discussion kicks off with Nitin discussing his latest story in Business Standard on how Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali has crept into the Aravalli hills. Patanjali bought spans across 400 acres which amount to “one-third of a village”. Nitin says the land is forested land which cannot be used for commercial purposes, and expresses his reservations about the fact that the land has been “privatised and cordoned off” which is unlawful as the land is supposed to remain in the “commons of the panchayat”. Hridayesh weighs in about the mining activity that has been taking place despite the Supreme Court ruling. He appreciates Nitin’s article for adding a deeper perspective to the discourse.

The panel moves on to the forest fires in Uttarakhand. Manisha asks Hridayesh whether the situation has become worse considering it is common practice to burn the ground to grow grass. Hridayesh agrees that the “people (there) have lived with fire” but this occurrence has become severe to the extent that people are forced to migrate from their villages. He adds, “More than 1,200 villages have become ghost towns.” Nitin talks about the need to draw fire lines to prevent the fires from spreading—a job of immense commitment on the part of the government and forest officials.

Manisha asks the panel how they would rate the attention to environmental issues in newsrooms and the associated hindrances. Nitin thinks that the media is doing a “spectacular job” of reporting with “very limited resources and individuals who are motivated across newsrooms”. He also commends the vernacular press, and believes the coverage of environmental journalism has expanded since 2007, when people would think of environmental journalism as akin to writing about tigers. Hridayesh talks about how locals and committed on-ground reporters who take journalists to ground zero and give them all the information are not mentioned in the national media.

Following a feedback letter, the panel discusses how sources of news work. While Manisha is against any legislation to reveal sources, she also acknowledges the distrust among general readership. The panel agrees that the instincts of a journalist need to develop over time to be able to validate a source’s credibility.

Discussing Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s announcement to make bus and metro rides free for women in Delhi, Raman thinks it’s a “good idea” and “definitely political”, though it does not solve the issue of security. Nitin thinks that leaders “should get a political advantage” if they make a good decision. He also thinks that the rich need to be taxed to be able to bear the financial burden of this policy, especially when “11 per cent of Delhi’s geography is covered in cars”—a dimension that the government is avoiding. He points out the lack of data to enable an analysis of the feasibility of this policy, calling it a “half-a-cookie job”.

The panel also discusses the debate around the Draft National Education Policy and Hindi imposition. Listen up! There’s more.

A review of NL Hafta by Aj Parikh and Amar Akshat





Bottle Of Lies by Katherine Eban



Produced by Kartik Nijhawan, recorded by Anil Kumar and edited by Samarendra K Dash.

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