The Green Pen: Environmental Journalism in India and South Asia

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Edited by: Keya Acharya & Frederick Noronha

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    Dedication

    To all the authors of this anthology who have contributed so generously in good faith, and to all the many journalists who have kept India-EJ active and useful over the years.

    Foreword

    DarrylD'Monte

    When I look back at 30 years of writing about the environment, I realise that many seminal occurrences are due to chance or intuition, rather than a clear-cut, well thought-out decision. I was editing the Sunday edition of The Times of India throughout the 1970s and my brief was to steer clear of politics. Business, I ought to remind younger readers, wasn't even an issue worth discussing those days: it was left to the Commercial Editor. Environmental issues were just beginning to become newsworthy.

    One day towards the end of 1977, a slim green pamphlet landed on my desk titled ‘Report of the Task Force for the Ecological Planning of the Western Ghats’, not exactly a subject which would have set the Arabian Sea on fire. The 19-member task force was headed by the well-known naturalist Zafar Futehally and concluded, among other issues, that the Silent Valley hydel dam across the Kunthipuzha river in the western ghats in Kerala would destroy ‘one of the last vestiges of natural climax vegetation of the region and one of the last remaining in the country… and various adverse ecological consequences will follow’.

    I cleared a Sunday editorial on this report with my formidable editor, Girilal Jain, who was solely preoccupied with political issues. But he issued me a caveat, which I still recall: ‘make sure your argument isn't unscientific’. Those days, the battle lines were clearly drawn: reason was on the side of the hard-headed ‘developmentalists’ and those who were opposed to them—and they weren't too many—were guilty of fuzzy thinking.

    In the early 1980s, I resigned as the Resident Editor of the The Indian Express in Mumbai and was at a loss as to what to do. It occurred to me that I should write a book, dealing with three major environmental controversies of the time, in the context of the development versus environment debate. These were Silent Valley, the Mathura oil refinery near the Taj Mahal and the natural gas-based Thal Vaishet fertiliser plant near Mumbai.

    When I applied for a Homi Bhabha fellowship to do the research, I was somewhat intimidated by the interview panel. The head of the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute asked me how I, as a mere journalist, could possibly make sense of the mathematical ‘constants’ that are used in the complex calculations of how a smoke plume—from a refinery chimney in the case of the Mathura refinery—would land on a site 40 km away. I was not even aware of what constants were but, gathering my wits, replied that it was our job as journalists to be confronted by complexities we couldn't understand every day of our working lives. Our task was first to comprehend these and then to convey them in a manner that readers could follow.

    I had been active in the civil liberties movement till the mid-1970s. During the emergency, we had to disband the Association for Defence of Democratic Rights, because this could invite trouble. Soon after I began my research on the book in the 1980s, I met an acquaintance who asked me what I was doing. When I told her about the book, she admonished me: ‘So you've moved from being concerned about people to being concerned about things?’

    The remark stung me at the time; such stray comments always catch you off-guard. I wondered if I had let the side down and abandoned my commitment to protecting human rights. It was only in the months to come, when I was engrossed in my research, that I realised that far from there being any disconnect with human beings, the environmental crisis lay at the heart of such concern. My intuition, I was happy to learn, hadn't deserted me.

    Later, Anil Agarwal struck a balance in the environment versus development debate by citing Gandhiji and his exhortation to look to the needs of the last man, the Antyodaya. If his needs are given topmost priority, the purpose of all ‘development’ schemes becomes transparent. Agarwal added a nuance when he stated that actually in this country, the last man is a woman, thus lending a gender dimension to the debate.

    Most journalists, I suspect, come from a background in social sciences. I had studied economics but wasn't aware at the time that both economics and ecology stem from the same Greek root—oikos, meaning home or house. Thus, economics is the science of good housekeeping, making sure that the household accounts are in order and expenditure doesn't exceed income. Ecology, on the other hand, concerns itself with ensuring that the home is well stocked with resources that go into people's well-being. There is now a respectable International Society for Ecological Economics.

    I had to battle with unfamiliar natural sciences constantly during my research into these three quite diverse case studies for my book. Silent Valley, in particular, called for some insights into botany, forestry and zoology; the Taj case into chemistry and conservation, not to mention mathematics; and the Thal fertiliser plant into industrial location policy. Politics permeated each and every stage of the discourse. In Silent Valley, the threat to a rare species called the lion-tailed macaque, a denizen of this forest, led to a fiery debate between development and environment and prompted the pro-dam lobby to exclaim: ‘Are monkeys more important than men?’

    This was my baptism in environmental journalism and extended research. Earlier, as a Sunday editorialist in The Times of India, I had criticised conservationists for being uncaring about the conditions of tribals in forests. Later, environmentalists welcomed me to their fold and believed that I had crossed over. But I continue to argue that in this debate, humans and wildlife must co-exist, without one being promoted at the cost of the other. The argument got very heated over the recent report of the Tiger Task Force headed by Sunita Narain, who contributes to this book. Elsewhere, she asked a question which no one can easily answer: ‘How is it that India's poorest people live in the most resource-rich areas of the country?’

    In the 1980s, I was in Bandhavgarh National Park in MP when an adivasi was killed by a tiger as he was bending over the forest floor to collect some produce. More than my gory photographs of the hapless man, with his head nearly severed by a single blow from the mighty cat's paw, what lingers in my memory is the image of the forlorn widow, clad only in a tattered sari, without a blouse. Her legs were bow-legged with anaemia and I think, in retrospect, that even if she had been saved from the fury of the beast, she would have succumbed, sooner or later, to sheer starvation.

    Baba Amte once described central India to me as the country's cummerbund, which is an apt metaphor, considering that this waistband contains the forests and minerals and some of the rivers which make up our natural wealth. Is it an accident that the Naxalite movement has taken root precisely in these most wretched regions, now extending to one-sixth of all the districts in the country? Many conservationists, in their admirable zeal to protect endangered animals, have not paid as much heed to endangered countrymen. In this book, Richard Mahapatra recounts some basic truths about poverty. The suicides of farmers is as much an environmental issue as it is a matter of agricultural and trade policies, not to mention the utter callousness of politicians.

    I relate these personal instances not out of any exaggerated sense of my own contribution to environmental journalism but because they address many of the concerns expressed in this book. Speaking for myself, I am sometimes referred to in public as an environmental activist and sometimes as a journalist. When I was an editor, as I was when I rejoined The Times of India in the late 1980s, I never spoke about environmental issues on public platforms, confirming environmentalists' worst fears that I had become a member of the establishment! But I continued to write about the environment in this country and elsewhere in the newspaper. I prefer to call myself an environmental journalist and I see no harm in doing that. It requires a certain degree of specialisation, particularly with today's complexities regarding environmental treaties, trade and technology.

    No such opprobrium attaches itself to being a business journalist or a political journalist. Why should environmental journalists feel defensive about themselves? As for the argument that it creates a special category which seeks privileges and is not subject to the same checks and balances as other forms of journalism, me thinks the proponents of this line of thought overstate their case. Do business journalists tell the whole, unalloyed truth, or are they susceptible to be swayed by particular interest groups, particularly in an era when media houses are themselves investing in companies? And, by the same token, are political journalists not guilty of planting stories to embarrass their sources' rivals? In other words, aren't they also ‘committed’ and not objective?

    The admonitions that several contributors to this book address to environmental journalists actually apply to all scribes. There are good journalists and bad journalists on every beat. At the same time, there is certainly a strong case for not ghettoising environment by allocating a page or section to it every so often. It has to compete with other stories for the front page, the city page, the international page, the editorial page, the business section and even—as pollution issues during the Beijing Olympics indicate—on the sports pages. While that is true of the mass media, the fortnightly Down to Earth is one of the best environmental journals anywhere in the world.

    There is actually a surge in environmental reporting throughout the world with the publication of the fourth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The skeptics are being silenced, although they raise their head from time to time. It may well be true that this is a cyclical phase and that the environment will undergo a downturn in the years to come. But it is difficult to see how, with oil and food prices going through the roof. I would argue that it is the short-sightedness of the media—particularly with the emergence of editors who don't write a line themselves these days—that is responsible for a general neglect of environment and development.

    If one sees the international opinion polls on environmental issues conducted by the Toronto-based organisation Globescan, environment—particularly when it is linked to health—figures amongst the top three concerns in every society, both in industrial and developing countries, across all classes and communities. That is a message which politicians don't understand; that is a message which bureaucrats don't understand; but, most of all, that is a message which the media itself doesn't understand. An increasingly globalised media in this country is dumbing down with a vengeance, trivialising all issues: ‘amusing ourselves to death’.

    Ecology has been originally defined, as long ago as in the mid-19th century, as the study of the relationship between living organisms and the environment. Humans, as much as wildlife, are integral to its concern, which is why its variant has subsequently been termed human ecology. Ecology always enjoins us to look holistically at the entire picture, not one dimension of it. As Agarwal always emphasised, environment and development are two sides of the same coin, or two sides of the same tree trunk, as Kunda Dixit paraphrases in this book. As a die-hard environmental journalist, I can only hope: may the tribe increase!

    Preface

    We both belong to the second generation of environmental journalists in India, if you could call it that. Pioneers like Anil Agarwal and editors like Daryl DeMonte preceded us. So when we met up in Goa recently, and got talking about the changing situation in the environmental journalist scenario, a thought struck us.

    Even as the environmental crisis gets worse, and even conservative business-as-usual politicians are getting around to accepting mega-threats like global warming, the space for environmental journalism is shrinking. Things are not as rosy as they once were.

    The lack of demand could indeed kill the supply. Where is the next generation of environmental journalists from India going to come from?

    In this context, the least we could do is to not forget our history. When we proposed to SAGE-India a book of this nature, our intention was to ensure that the upcoming generations could read about the past. Read and know what went into the field of environmental journalism in years not so long ago.

    This book puts together the ideas and experiences of many women and men who reported from the frontlines and offers an engaging insight into the debate on environmental writing in our region through deep and varied viewpoints from seasoned journalists. We hope it will inspire an upcoming generation of journalists about what is possible.

    We are grateful to SAGE-India for making it all possible.

    KeyaAcharya, Bangalore, keya.acharya@gmail.com, FrederickNoronha, Goa, fn@goa-india.org, November 2008
  • About the Editors and Contributors

    Editors

    Keya Acharya is an independent journalist and researcher, who has been writing exclusively on environment and development for many years and has various national and international publications to her credit. She also teaches development journalism and development issues to media students in Bangalore, where she is based and has conducted several media training workshops. Keya has travelled extensively in the course of her journalism assignments, reporting from various countries on subjects as diverse as solid and hazardous wastes, to human rights, corruption, forestry and wildlife, climate change, agribiotech and others.

    E-mail: keya.acharya@gmail.com

    Frederick Noronha is a Goa-based journalist and the founder of the India-EJ, the environmental journalists' cyber-network that links those writing on green issues across India. His works focus on developmental themes and he recently launched an alternative book publishing venture, Goa, 1556 http://goa1556.goa-india.org. He is known for his work on Right to Information issues (including in unearthing the frequent-but-unnoticed crashes of Sea Harrier planes of the Indian Navy), and effectively linking campaigners who worked on a long and successful drive to launch community radio in India.

    E-mail: fn@goa-india.org

    Contributors

    Kazimuddin (Kazu) Ahmed is an anthropologist presently working with Panos South Asia and is based out of Guwahati, Assam. He has earlier worked with Down to Earth and North Eastern Social Research Centre. His areas of interest include borders, migration, resource politics, identities, conflict and media issues. He also experiments with documentary filmmaking and photographic documentation.

    Shahidul Alam studied and taught chemistry in London University before taking up photography. He returned to his hometown Dhaka in 1984, where he photographed the democratic struggle to remove General Ershad. A former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik Agency, the Bangladesh Photographic Institute and Pathshala: The South Asian Media Academy Institute of Photography. He has been a recipient of the Mother Jones, Howard Chapnick and Andrea Frank awards. Alam is also a jury member at numerous international contests including World Press Photo, which he has judged on three occasions. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Bangladesh Photographic Society and the Royal Photographic Society.

    Pallava Bagla has been a globally acclaimed award winning photo-journalist for 20 years. He has written for Science, the prestigious weekly magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Washington DC, for over a decade. He recently joined NDTV, India's well-known television channel, as science editor. His solo photo exhibition on water issues titled ‘Drops of Life’ has been displayed globally.

    Bagla is also a still photographer working for Corbis, one of the world's largest photo agency owned by Microsoft chief, Bill Gates. His pictures have found place in respected magazines like National Geographic, Time, Nature, New Scientist, Scientific American, Newsweek, Elle and The Economist. He has published over 800 news and features stories in leading national and international publications; authored five books; edited five books and over 1,700 of his photographs have been published over the years. He was also a frequent contributor to the leading national daily The Indian Express. In 2006, he was conferred the National Award for Outstanding Effort in Science & Technology Communication in Print Medium. It is the highest honour of its kind for science journalism in India, given by the Union Ministry of Science and Technology. In 2003, he became the first Indian to win the ‘Outstanding Journalism’ award from the United Nations-sponsored Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the world's apex body looking after agricultural research and headquartered at the World Bank, Washington DC. Previously, he was awarded the prestigious science writing fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, USA in 1994. In 2004, he became a Fellow of the Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD), London.

    E-mail: pbagla@vsnl

    Lyla Bavadam is a senior assistant editor with Frontline magazine. She writes on issues specific to the environment as well as on politics and development. She has been with The Hindu group since 1996 and has been a working journalist since 1992. Prior to this she worked with a documentary film unit that produced films and slide shows for clients like UNICEF, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and the Public Health Department, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

    She was the first Bellagio Forum Fellow, a programme for Environmental Studies in collaboration with the Reuters Foundation Fellowship Programme. She also received the Panos Reproductive Health Media Fellowship for research that got published in a compilation The Unheard Scream. She was spotlighted at the Sanctuary Awards in the ‘Defender of Nature’ category because of her writings on the environment. She has written cnsistently on issues like the Narmada Dam, groundwater, drought and environmental policy.

    Dionne Bunsha is an award-winning journalist in Mumbai, India, who has written about suicide deaths among farmers, religious strife in India, human rights, environment and a range of other crucial issues. She currently works for the Frontline magazine of The Hindu group. She is the author of Scarred: Experiments with Violence in Gujarat (2006).

    Bunsha is a Knight International Journalism Fellow at Stanford University 2008–09 and has won several awards for her writing. She was awarded two of the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, 2006–07 for Environmental Reporting and Books (non-fiction), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Journalism for Tolerance Prize for South Asia 2005, the Sanskriti Award for Journalism 2003 and the People's Union for Civil Liberties Human Rights Award 2003. She has a Master's degree in development studies from the London School of Economics and has also completed a diploma in social communications media from the Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai.

    Patralekha Chatterjee is a Delhi-based award-winning writer and photographer. She has reported on public health, human rights, environment and the economy from many countries for leading publications in Asia, Europe and North America including The Lancet.

    Ardeshir Cowasjee (born 1926) is a renowned newspaper columnist from Karachi, Sindh in Pakistan. His columns regularly appear in the country's oldest English language daily newspaper Dawn and are translated to appear in the Urdu press. He is also Chairman of the Cowasjee Group and is engaged in philanthropic activities apart from being regarded as an old ‘guardian’ of the city of Karachi.

    Kunda Dixit served as the Asia-Pacific Regional Editor of Inter Press Service, and later helped establish Panos South Asia in Kathmandu. He is now the editor and publisher of Nepali Times and is the author of the books Dateline Earth and A People War.

    Nirmal Ghosh is a senior foreign correspondent for The Straits Times, based in Bangkok, Thailand. He has lived and worked in Singapore, Manila, New Delhi and Bangkok, and covered much of Asia as a photojournalist. He has been President of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (1998–99) and of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand (2008–09).

    He has written on and photographed wildlife, and covered related issues like biodiversity and climate change for over 25 years and has authored three books on Indian natural history and wildlife. In 2004, he won awards for narration and conservation message at Missoula, Montana, USA, for the documentary film Living with Giants (camera Ashish Chandola). He is a Trustee of The Corbett Foundation, a wildlife conservation NGO working with communities living on the periphery of Corbett Tiger Reserve in northern India and in Kutch in western India. From 2001 to 2003 he was on the Steering Committee of the Government of India's Project Elephant.

    Peter Griffin used to be in advertising and is now a journalist and web producer. He works in Mumbai and likes to get out to green, cool places with either mountains or water bodies in easy reach. He blogs at zigzackly. http://blogspot.com and helps run the writing community, Caferati. He is very impressionable: he became an environmentalist as a child when he saw an advertisement that said, ‘Don't waste water; you'll need it later.’

    Nalaka Gunawardene is Director and CEO of TVE Asia Pacific, http://www.tveap.org. Trained as a science writer and journalist, Nalaka has worked with print and broadcast media and later with development organisations across Asia for over 20 years. He co-founded TVEAP in 1996 as a non-profit, regional foundation using audio-visual and new media to communicate development and social issues. Having originated the idea of The Greenbelt Reports, Nalaka served as its writer and executive producer. He blogs on media, development and society at http://movingimages.wordpress.com/

    Pandurang Hegde has been with the Appiko and Chipko movements. After his post graduate study form the University of Delhi, he joined the Chipko Movement in the Himalayas. He joined Sunderlal Bahuguna in the historic Kashmir—Kohima Foot March along the Himalayas. Thereafter he came to Karnataka to help with the spread of Appiko Movement. He has been part of the movement for the past 25 years. At present he is motivating people to re-launch Save Western Ghats Movement to conserve the tropical forests in south India. He works as a freelance journalist, contributing articles on environment and development issues in three languages: English, Kannada and Hindi.

    E-mail: appiko@gmail.com, appiko@sancharnet.in

    Nandkumar Kamat is a microbiologist at the Department of Botany, Goa University, Goa. For years, he has been active in highlighting environmental issues in Goa and elsewhere and has an encylopaedic knowledge of a vast range of issues of relevance to Goa.

    E-mail: nkamat@unigoa.ac.in

    Richard Mahapatra is the South Asia Regional Coordinator at the New Delhi office of the Bank Information Center (BIC), which partners with civil society in developing and transition countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability. Before joining BIC, Richard worked as the coordinator of the Environment and Poverty unit of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) where he conceived, designed and led campaigns on sustainable development. During his tenure as the news coordinator of the environment magazine Down to Earth, he reported extensively on environment-poverty linkages in rural areas, people's movements for rights over natural resources, and other livelihood issues. Before CSE, he worked as a correspondent in mainstream media for five years, focussing on Northeastern India.

    E-mail: richardmahapatra@gmail.com

    Max Martin is a special correspondent at the Bangalore bureau of the Mail Today. He writes on science and environment. From 2005 to 2007, he edited the web publication http://indiadisasters.org and reported on tsunami rehabilitation. He has also freelanced as a photojournalist.

    Email: maxmillanmartin@gmail.com

    Meena Menon has been a journalist since 1984 and has worked with United News of India, Mid-Day and The Times of India, Mumbai and is at present with The Hindu as a special correspondent in Mumbai. She has won many fellowships, including those from the Centre for Science and Environment, Panos, the National Foundation for India, New Delhi and SARAI. Her articles on prostitution have been compiled into a book co-authored with Sharmila Joshi. She is also the author of Organic Cotton: Reinventing the Wheel, a history and compilation of organic cotton farmers in the country.

    E-mail: meenamenon@gmail.com

    Laxmi Murthy is currently Associate Editor, Himal Southasian, the monthly magazine published from Kathmandu. She has written widely on gender, environment and the links between the two. As a journalism instructor, she has conducted training courses for working journalists on reporting gender.

    Ahmed Zaki Nafiz is a Maldivian journalist. He has been based in New Zealand and has worked in the Maldives. He has travelled extensively in Asia, Europe and the Pacific.

    E-mail: ahmedzaki@xtra.co.nz

    Sunita Narain has been with the India-based Centre for Science and Environment since 1982. She is currently the director of the Centre and the director of the Society for Environmental Communications and the publisher of the fortnightly magazine Down to Earth. In her years at the Centre, she has worked hard at analysing and studying the relationship between environment and development and at creating public consciousness about the need for sustainable development.

    She has co-authored various publications like Towards Green Villages (1989), Global Warming in an Unequal World: A Case of Environmental Colonialism (1991) and Towards a Green World: Should Environmental Management Be Built on Legal Conventions or Human Rights? and has co-edited Dying Wisdom: Rise, Fall and Potential of India's Traditional Water Harvesting Systems (1997) and Green Politics: Global Environmental Negotiations (2000). In 1999, she co-edited the State of India's Environment, The Citiiens' Fifth Report and in 2001, Making Water Everybody'sBusiness: Practice and Policy of Water Harvesting. She has also authored many articles and papers. Narain remains an active participant, both nationally and internationally, in civil society. She serves on the boards of various organisations and on governmental committees and has spoken at many forums across the world on issues of her concern and expertise. In 2005, she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India.

    Shree Padre is a farmer by profession, a journalist by obsession. Since over a decade, he has been zealously documenting and disseminating information on the common man's success stories of Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) from all over India. Under his editorship, Adike Patrike, a 21-year-old unique farm magazine of, by and for the farmers in Karnataka, started a pioneering campaign on RWH in Karnataka. He has been a columnist for Vijaya Karnataka, a leading Kannada daily, and has so far run 220 case studies in six years. He contributes regularly to http://www.indiatogether.org and Civil Society. He has written 11 books on RWH, ten in Kannada and one in English. Out of this, two books are on drought-proofing. He was in the forefront of the agitation against spraying endosulfan in the Kasaragod district of Karnataka.

    He has received many state awards as well as the Statesman National Award for rural reporting.

    E-mail: shreepadre@gmail.com

    Shivaram Pailoor is news editor and Head, News Unit, All India Radio, Dharwad, Karnataka. He is also the trustee of the Centre for Agricultural Media (CAM), which he founded in 2000. The Centre, with an objective to promote farmer-friendly communication system, tries to build up alternative efforts in agricultural communication. He has launched a website: http://www.farmedia.org, as part of the venture.

    Shivaram writes on developmental issues like soil and water harvesting, GM issues and farm-related issues for major news dailies and magazines in Karnataka. He has been working in the field of mass communication for 18 years. Having done his doctoral study on effectiveness of agriculture communication, he has initiated a correspondence diploma course (Kannada) in farm journalism through CAM in 2003. He is an Ashoka Fellow.

    Email: shivarampailoor@gmail.com

    Beena Sarwar is a Pakistani journalist, documentary filmmaker and artist. She has a BA in studio art and English literature from Brown University (1986) and an MA in television documentary from Goldsmiths College, University of London (2001). She started her journalism career as an intern with the Star Weekend, Karachi in 1981. Her editorial positions include assistant editor at The Star Weekend, features editor, The Frontier Post (Lahore), editor, The News on Sunday, a weekly paper that she launched in Pakistan for The News International and OpEd Editor for The News International. She was a producer at Geo TV, Pakistan's first 24-hour news channel. She is a Nieman Fellow (Harvard, 2006) and a Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy (2007). Her documentary films have been broadcast on various channels and screened at festivals in Pakistan and abroad. She serves on the board of Panos South Asia and is associated with the Pakistan-India People's Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and the Women's Action Forum (WAF). She freelances for various publications in Pakistan and abroad, including Inter Press Service, and is on the editorial board of the monthly, Himal Southasian, Kathmandu.

    Nandan Saxena is a poet and documentary filmmaker and was a television journalist earlier.

    Sahana Singh is Editor of Asian Water, Asia's leading magazine on water and wastewater. She graduated from Delhi College of Engineering and worked for some time as an engineer in the Environment Department of HPCL Refinery in Mumbai. After winning two national essay contests, she made a career shift to writing. In 2003, she was one of the winners of the Water Media Network Journalists Competition conducted by the World Bank, and was awarded during the 3rd World Water Forum at Kyoto. Her winning article focused on the threat of marine organisms being transported to foreign waters through ships and wiping out local species. In November 2008, Ms Singh won the Developing Asia Journalism Award (DAJA) in the Infrastructure category, in Tokyo, where journalists from Asian countries competed. She lives in Singapore with her husband and daughter.

    Malini Shankar is a Bangalore-based freelance environmental photojournalist specialising in content creation about anthropogenic environmental conflict that seeks to quantify the impact on wildlife conservation. She has specialised in writing about anthropogenic environmental conflict in the Western Ghats. Her articles have been published in Deccan Herald, The New Indian Express, The Indian Express, The Times of India, The Hindu Group of Publications, and Features Service Syndicates. She was the UN accredited correspondent covering the proceedings at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg for Bangalore-based Deccan Herald in 2002. She has also produced 2–13 episodes of a series for All India Radio and around a dozen world service radio documentaries for Deutsche Welle and Panos Radio.

    Her articles on Sariska and issues pertaining to tiger conservation have been widely published. Besides, she has just completed shooting for a multinational TV production called ‘Eco Crimes’ which is to be broadcast in 16 countries in nine languages over a three-year-period.

    Devinder Sharma is an award-winning journalist, writer, and researcher respected globally for his analysis on food, agriculture and trade policy. Trained as an agricultural scientist, Sharma has worked for The Indian Express. He quit active journalism to research on policy issues concerning food and agriculture, biodiversity, genetic engineering and IPRs, and hunger, trade and food security. He is the author of GATT and India—The Politics of Agriculture (1994), GATT to WTO: Seeds of Despair (1996), In the Famine Trap (1997) and Trade Liberalisation in Agriculture: Lessons from the First Ten Years of the WTO (2005). His columns and writings have been widely published in India and abroad.

    Kalpana Sharma is an independent journalist and columnist based in Mumbai. In over three decades as a full-time journalist, she has worked with The Hindu, for which she writes a column, The Times of India, The Indian Express and Himmat Weekly. She was one of the co-editors of CSE's First Citizens' Report on the State of India's Environment (1982). She was also responsible for 15 years for The Hindu's annual State of the Environment Report. She has authored Rediscovering Dharavi: Stories from Asia's Largest Slum (2000) and co-edited two books with Ammu Joseph: Whose News? The Media and Women's Issues (1994/2006) and Terror, Counter-Terror: Women Speak Out (2003).

    Sudhirendar Sharma, an environmentalist, was formerly with the World Bank. He is an expert on water, a keen observer of climate change dynamics, a critic of the contemporary development processes, and has been dividing time as a writer, researcher and consultant. He was a senior correspondent with India's leading weekly India Today and the science editor for The Pioneer newspaper. He holds a Masters in agriculture and a doctorate in environmental sciences.

    S. Gopikrishna Warrier is Lead Media Officer at The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). Earlier, he was principal correspondent at The Hindu Business Line, the south India correspondent for Down to Earth, and assistant editor at the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH). He has been an experienced communicator and journalist specialising in agricultural, environmental and developmental issues. In his other work, he has developed relationships with key stakeholders for public-funded international research organisations and non-governmental organisations. As a journalist he has specialised in communicating complicated environment and science stories in simple language, with the ability to link the macro with the micro developments. His interests include writing, communication, travelling, reading, photography and cooking.

    Email: gopiwarrier@gmail.com

    Manori Wijesekera was a journalist and writer for several years, working for an English language daily, a business magazine and travel publications, before joining TVE Asia Pacific in 1998. As its Regional Programme Manager, she promotes the regional organisation's partnerships with dozens of broadcast, civil society and educational organisations across the Asia Pacific. Manori was production manager of The Greenbelt Reports, managing four film-maker teams across eight locations in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. She also directed its Indonesian and Thai stories.

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