The Purple Corner
  • My friend, the Young Mountain

    Akanksha Joshi, an award winning documentary film maker based in New Delhi writes a poetic rumble, one that puts an ear to the heart of the Himalaya. And hears the ultrasound of man’s doings and undoing. A fresh take on a long relationship the mountains have with rivers and people with nature.

    The story is old, very old. About 90 million years ago. India began a journey. Not the nation, but the land mass. It split from what used to be a huge continent - Africa, South America, Australia, Arabia, Antarctica. Somehow, this land seemed to be in a hurry. Travelling fast. Northwards. About 18 cm per year. Simultaneously rotating, creating oceans, and finally, colliding with Asia.

    A part of the land went down, another part came up. Some folded, some twisted. Bits of the ocean's crust, Tibetan earth and bits of the Indian earth, all mish-mashed to emerge as the world youngest mountains. Yes, the Himalaya. Since some 10 million years, growing. And showing no signs of stopping.

    To a mountain,

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  • A sarpanch who cleared Class 8 at 53

    By Stella Paul

    The year 2005, Handitola village in Chhattisgarh’s Rajnandgaon district:

    A Dalit hangs himself. The early stench of a decomposing body is what helps identify the tree. Yet, nobody dares go near him; for some, the man’s an untouchable. The others are just plain scared. A woman in a faded sari with that other rural staple, a very cracked heel arrives on the scene. Sukhantibai with a sickle in her hand, stands upon a stool, cuts the rope and lowers the body. The villagers mostly look on. Few days later, the villagers unanimously select Sukhantibai – a Gond Adivasi woman as their Sarpanch.

    Sukhantibai Sarpanch7 years hence she has been reelected. Not that anything in her home would give that away today. Her house is still a mud hut with uneven walls, a tiny courtyard; her kitchen consists of a wood stove, a couple of earthen pots and a few small tins containing tea and spices; her family has to fetch drinking water from the tap at the entrance of the village and no personal privilege of separate

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  • The Western Ghats in the eastern imagination

    By Narayani Ganesh and B Sivakumar

    NARAYANI GANESH and B SIVAKUMAR make a plea to conserve the sacred groves and rich bio-heritage of the Western Ghats that stretch all along the coast of western India from Kerala upwards to Gujarat as they run across parts of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa.

    The Western Ghats have long been home to ancient sacred groves, inspiring deep insight into life and living. Designated as one of the 10 top biodiversity hotspots in the world and soon to be declared a World Heritage Site, the Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri range, are home to over 5,000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species. There could be as many species here that are still unknown to us whereas 325 of those we know are on the endangered list.

    Western Ghats, Eastern Pride: Click to see more stunning images of the Monsoon mountains.Western Ghats, Eastern Pride: Click to see more stunning images of the Monsoon mountains.According to the Worldwatch Institute, from 1980 to 2008, an average of 52 species per year moved one category closer to extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red

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  • When a 17-year-old Shook up Heads of State

    By Narayani Ganesh

    A twelve year-old Severn Suzuki blazed into the world’s consciousness with her touching SOS for Earth in 1992. And now it’s the turn of 17-year-old New Zealander, Brittany Tilford who is keeping her Date with History at Rio+20.

    When twelve year-old Severn Suzuki delivered her short but powerful speech at the Rio’92 Earth Summit, everyone sat up. “The world simply stopped for those six minutes,” while heads of states and others were transfixed by a child’s plea for survival – not just of humans but of all species – demanding governments and all adults to take steps to reverse the damage that was being done to the environment.

    Today, 32 year-old Severn continues to campaign for Earth as she did at Johannesburg in 2002 and now in Rio in 2012. “That was the most powerful thing I have ever done in my life till today,” says Severn in Rio, of her 1992 address to heads of state. And thanks to the power of social media, her 20 year-old speech continues to touch people across

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  • The laughing Buddha and a Rio homestay

    By Narayani Ganesh

    Having to stay with a family on my first night in Rio de Janeiro as hotel rooms were unavailable – with Rio+20 delegates filling them well before the event -- I found myself in for a pleasant surprise.

    The Brazilian couple, now retired, live in an apartment in Lapa, the happening place for music and dance lovers in Rio de Janeiro. My hotel booking was available only from the day after my arrival that night after a long flight. Because of the recommendation of a Brazilian friend of a friend, this couple kindly hosted me that night. All my apprehensions vanished into thin air the moment the lady of the house rushed downstairs to greet me at the entrance to her building despite it being close to 11 pm.

    “Welcome to Brazil, to Rio, to Lapa....” she gushed, grabbing my suitcase and guiding me to the elevator. She has three children, she informs me. The older son lives with his wife elsewhere and the other two stay here. She ushers me into what looks like the master bedroom,

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  • What is your MP doing?

    By Narayani Ganesh
    Editor’s note: 300 parliamentarians from 80 countries meet up before Rio+20. Find out what’s new.

    Every which way you turn, you bump into a legislator –- from Botswana, Gabon, Bahrain, Pakistan, Australia, Japan, Costa Rica, USA, Sweden, UK or India, to name a few -- for the ornate hall here at the Palacio Tiradentes in Rio de Janeiro is brimming with legislators, speakers and others from 80 countries with delegates and media persons attending the proceedings that began on June 15. It’s the old building that was used by the National Congress of Brazil, between 1926 and 1960, and is the current seat of the Legislature of the State of Rio de Janeiro. The palace is named after a seventeenth century dentist (Tiradentes) who later became a revolutionary, only to be arrested, executed and dismembered.

    Palacio Tiradentes, RioThe summit, organised by GLOBE International, a UK and Costa Rica-based group seeks to place national legislation, natural capital and scrutiny at the heart of the Rio agenda.

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(21 Stories)

Columnist Profiles

  • Bijoy Venugopal, Editor

    Wanderer, leech-bite fetishist and musicosaur

  • Deepak Gopalakrishnan, Chuck of all trades

    Inspiration kills creativity

  • Kartik T, Sir Loondry

    Grad student who puts dreams into robots' heads by day and writes about the ones in his head at night

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