Delighted to announce that my cousin, Dr. Radha Gopalan (pictured below right), has started a blog, Rayalseema Diaries, on development in rural India. Radha received her PhD in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai. She then spent several years as an environmental consultant in India, the U.S. and the Middle East. In that capacity, Radha worked on projects ranging from environmental impact assessments to rural water supply improvement to hazardous waste management to groundwater cleanup in California (at Hinkley - the Erin Brockovich site) to managing the master planning for Masdar, the emerging sustainable city in Abu Dhabi. Moving away from consulting, in her current avatar, Radha teaches environmental science to high school students at the Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh, and is the Coordinator of the Rishi Valley Special Area Development Programme. The school was established by the philosopher J. Krishnamurthi about eighty years ago. Radha is using her long abiding interest in food security as the basis of her work with the community of small and marginal farmers who form the rural community in which the school is located. From that perch, she offers this:
The Indian growth story (6%, 8% - pick a number of your choice) has been splashed across print and visual media and everybody's talking about how this growth engine is going to pull the country out of poverty, malnutrition, gender inequity, etc., and how this is development. In all this din the "real development" story on the ground is nowhere to be seen except the occasional report where the reporter is surprised that in spite of this growth, poverty and malnutrition do not seem to be abating. In an effort to share some realities on the ground, I decided to blog my version of the story on the ground from one corner of South India - the Rayalseema region of Andhra Pradesh where I teach environmental science to high school students (from urban homes) in a residential school. Teaching is "part time" since my "day job" and very often "night job" is engaging with pastoralists and small and marginal farmers to sustain livelihoods and enable them to be sustainable. Read the blog and let me know what you think!