Issue 14

How will China’s decision to stop funding coal overseas impact developing countries?

At the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, 2021, in New York City, Chinese President Xi Jinping in a pre-recorded video address spoke about the centenary of the Communist Party in China and mentioned COVID-19 vaccinations. Then he said, “China will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad.” 

It is clear the writing is on the wall for coal power”, tweeted Alok Sharma, President of the Conference of Parties (COP26). China had been facing increasing diplomatic pressure to renounce coal funding. Japan and South Korea made similar announcements about phasing out coal in early 2021. BBC’s Robin Brant said that China’s pledge “is the low hanging fruit. This was increasingly expected in terms of a pledge from Xi Jinping.” Jin Liqun, President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, announced that “China needs to do its utmost to export renewable tech to low-income countries”.

Days after China’s declaration, the No New Coal Compact was announced as a joint effort by Sri Lanka, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Montenegro, and the UK. Promising to expedite coal phase-out nationally in line with COP26’s goal of consigning coal power to history. With promises of shifts to renewable energy being made globally, China has the potential to enter an international market of renewable energy, especially in Southeast Asian countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan which depend heavily on Chinese-funded coal.

Mr. Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary of India and former Special Envoy and Chief Negotiator on Climate Change, adds, “China has the ability to supply solar panels or wind turbines to the international market and it has been doing so.” Taking India as an example, he continues, “the solar power industry in India is almost completely dependent upon solar panels which are imported from China. So they [China] are very well placed, in fact, for exploiting the international market if there is an expansion of renewable energy capacity in the rest of the world as a return of climate change concerns.”

In February 2021, China refused to fund coal mines and polluting power plants in Bangladesh,  in a letter seen by Financial Times. In August 2021, Bangladesh’s Sirajganj district floated a tender for a solar park with expected Chinese funding of US $500mn, as reported by PV Magazine. While the shift to renewables is a welcome transition, what global problems are likely to crop up? “If you are looking at the current composition of energy infrastructure across the world, then you will see that it is still predominantly based on fossil fuels. So the great problem for countries is, what do I do with stranded assets which have been built upon the assumption that fossil fuel use will continue? And these are billions and billions in dollars worth of assets, whether it is in oil or coal.” Mr. Saran emphasizes that the poorer the country, the more difficult this transition will be. 

This shift will have tangible impacts on individuals as well. Mr. Saran points out such manifestations in the employment sector, “a large number of people are employed in the fossil fuel industry across the world. When you are going to be making a shift, unless you have the ability to generate more jobs, say from renewable energy, or that the use of renewable energy is leading to an expansion of economic activity generally, you are also going to be faced with a very major social problem and an economic problem. And neither technology nor funding is today coming from the developed countries to the developing countries.” Dr. Rityusha Tiwary, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Delhi and Visiting Fellow at Delhi-based Institute of Chinese Studies, adds, “tangible impact on all the sectors of the economy as well as all sectors of the working class, labour class included. We don’t have very strong labour laws so this compensation, the big multi-corporations are going to draw out from perhaps, the salary of the working class.”

So where does this leave Beijing’s coal-dependent international allies? The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a US-based non-profit, published a report in July 2021 revealing that China supports 56% of the total capacity of international coal pipeline proposals. According to another report published by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, a nonprofit thinktank, 4.5 times as much overseas coal capacity linked to China has been shelved, than progressed to construction. Indicating that overseas coal projects initially backed by China have subsequently wilted to significant political and financial challenges. For instance, Indonesia had the largest share of coal capacity backed by Chinese financing, 11 gigawatts of which have been cancelled since 2017.

Analysts expect China’s announcement to improve Beijing’s coveted Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) reputation for future greener energy investments. For Pakistan, for instance, where China is a major coal-based energy investor, a renewable shift would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions with improved air quality. This change may take time. According to Dr. Tiwary, there are several initiatives in BRI which are “coal-based infrastructural capacity-building, so that might mean that there is a slag as well in BRI because immediately, if you stop funding international projects which involve coal, then there is expected to be a kind of slugging outcome in terms of how those projects are completed. So, it’s a two-way road.” 

Anushree Pratap is a second-year student at Ashoka University pursuing Political Science and Environmental Studies. 

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 14

When a people’s eyes are as moist as a land: The Tharu speak

A people whose eyes are as moist as the land they once knew, as their own.

The Tharu of Chitwan, living close to Nepal’s south-central border with ours. India’s 1751 km border with Nepal, may be open, but ask the average Indian about the Nepalese, he or she might mention a Gurkha as guard or soldier, a farmer tilling the rice field, and a people migrating to India freely. None of this would be inaccurate, but ask some more, have all Nepalese migrated? What about the Tharu, native to an Indo-Gangetic marsh on both sides of the border? With Yogi Adityanath’s UP home terrain of Gorakhpur being part of this landscape. A bog, like London, was once. But what is this Terai?

Geographically, Nepal is not only at the centre of the Himalayan arc, it has the longest stretch of the Himalaya. The Siwalik hill range, under it, is an undulating comma threading Chitwan and Rapti valleys, in the lowlands. Dr. Toni Hagen, a member of the Swiss Technical Assistance team in 1950, who was the first to do a geological reconnaissance of the country, classified the edge of the Gangetic floodplain as the Terai. In Urdu, it implies the edge of a watershed; in Hindi, low-lying plain or foothill. Terai, or the moist land. Wild swamp. Unpredictable sinkhole. Inundated with floodplains. In part a fertile extension of the Indo-Gangetic plain, thick with forest, grassland, and an all-around sticky humidity. Click to see the immensity of this forest landscape, in The Skin of Chitwan online exhibition, (referred hence as TSOC exhibit). Nature’s own no-entry sign, as we will see, for colonial powers and the Nepalese themselves.

The Tharu, a forest people, are native to Nepal’s Terai. Their name, some say, comes from where their ancestors migrated, the Indian Thar desert. Some say it comes from sthavir, referencing followers of Theravada Buddhism. In fact, one TSOC exhibit quotes scientist Ulrike Müller-Böker’s The Voices from Chitwan: Oral histories, ‘The forest presents itself to them as a familiar environment, whose rich biological stock they know, and know how to use, very expertly.’ A life of gathering thatch-grass for their home, firewood for cooking. Land close-by for grazing cattle and growing rice by the riverbank. (A TSOC click-through album shows you their rice diversity from the Nepal Gene Bank. Another photo album highlights their foraging choices for fermenting grain. A moving, matter of fact audio clip describes how the simal tree’s fluffy fiber made their pillows and blankets. Yet one more, lets you flip the pages of a Tharu shaman notebook, with a hand-drawn herb a page and a few lines on how it can be used). Scientists in both Indian and Nepalese academia have also written several research papers on whether the Tharus are more malaria-resistant than those who came after them.

But wait. This is one photo of two Tharu women, at home in the Chitwan valley. The story of this basin with sediments of the peaks from the Northern parts, after all, turns into a political scratch card across Nepalese history. We will in fact use four images borrowed from the multimedia exhibition, to tell the Tharu story.

‘Photo of women “A domestic record of being in time and becoming of place. Old family photographs collected from the private albums of Harnari’s inhabitants.” Mangani Raut’

Firstly, a need to maximize revenue base, means land grants are given in this Terai over two centuries of Gorkha and then Rana rule. A landed class emerges. Some supply timber to the then British-colonized India. The jungles with one-horned rhinos, swamp deer, and Asian elephants are also easy game for hunting howdahs. None of this includes the earliest settlers, the Tharu. Forest and timber offices come up under the Ranas here by 1880, as does a national level Central Forest Management office in 1924. But the threat of malaria is still so real that the forests and the Tharu survive into the 1940s.

It’s the year 1951. Mount Everest is yet to be scaled, and the era of foreign aid to Nepal begins. The US is first, India follows. As does a political revolt. 

Rana rule after over a century is replaced with a blink and miss political party formation and while democracy appears still-born, a bureaucracy doesn’t. One of the early development projects set off by King Tribhuvan in 1952 with external aid, is an inspection to Chitwan. The aim is to see if the upper hill folk, reeling under landslides, food shortage, and a flood in 1953, can be rehabilitated in this valley. In 1957, the new rulers of Nepal pass the Nationalization Act. All forest land is now government-owned.

At about the same time, American marine biologist Rachel Carson is becoming the public voice of science, as she leads a decade-long DDT expose in the US. While the US stirs in the wake of a burgeoning environmental consciousness at home, a forerunner of USAID along with the WHO in 1953, begins funding and leading the spraying of DDT on Nepal’s Terai. The spray reaches Chitwan by 1956. Dr. Randall Packard debating this developmental policy writes in 2009, ‘Following World War II and the development of new anti-malarial drugs and pesticides, including DDT, malaria control and eradication were increasingly presented as instruments for eliminating economic underdevelopment. By the 1960s, however, economists and demographers began to raise serious substantive and methodological questions about the basis of these claims.

But this is still the 50s. With the success of the malaria eradication programme, the fear among the hill folk recedes. They clear the dense Terai quickly. The new moniker for their settlement, Moujas. Between 1927 and 1977, sixty percent of the Terai forest is gone. Most of it over two decades of this resettling, steered by King Mahendra. Population triples in a decade. Arguing for the hill folk to be seen as environmental refugees themselves, a 2010 paper acknowledges, ‘Chitwan was indeed the site of tremendous agricultural extension during the 1950s and 1960s, and substantial agricultural intensification in the 1970s and 1980s. Intensification included irrigation, fertilizer, mechanization, improved seeds, and the creation of the country’s first agricultural institute (located in Chitwan).

‘New settlers hoe their fields in Narayanghat.
Photo by Bill Hanson

Some say that the king wants more monarchy-loyal settlers to move, hoping to stem future revolts. Ex-military personnel in particular are encouraged to move closer to the Indian border near Chitwan. (Another TSOC exhibit looks at this from the Tharu point of view). To neutralize local opposition in the 1970s, 1400 hectares are apparently distributed among 696 local politicians. Some of them, Panchayat leaders. While serious land reform which includes the Tharu or agricultural sharecroppers is never seen on the ground, the Forest Act gets several updates.

Hunting by the new migrants makes the swamp deer and the wild buffalo disappear. The numbers of the Bengal Tiger, one-horned rhino, and wild elephants dip alarmingly and the Sarus crane becomes endangered. The Tharu, largely illiterate and lacking official documentation, become poorer and in debt, with each passing year. To address this wildlife crisis, Nepal gets its first national park in 1973 – The Royal Chitwan National Park. 

Kathmandu’s focus on the Terai is also evident from the fact that out of the 22 Forest Resources Survey publications to come out between 1965 and 1973, only two end up being on non-Terai areas. In the first of many roads, an all-weather road comes up in 1979, linking Chitwan’s largest town, Narayanghat, to the eastern part of Nepal’s East-West highway, which opens up toward Eastern Nepal and India. Narayan, who the Tharu believe to be the provider of sunshine, rain, and harvests, becomes the namesake for the transportation hub by the 80s.

The TSOC exhibit channels this dislocation of the Tharu, ‘Almost overnight, in-migration turned the Tharu into minorities in their own homeland. In 1955 nearly 100 percent of the population were Tharu; in 1970, that figure was only about 14 percent. Today, only a third of the valley is forested, and almost all of that forest lies within the national park.’

‘Travellers cross the Narayani River at Pitauji Ghat, down the river from Narayanghat. Logs are piled across the river, which will be brought over to be hauled to India.
Photo by Dave Hohl, 1967’

The Army moves in to regulate poaching, but also to evacuate 20,000 Tharu as the park expands. They also have to pay to access their thatched grass now. An excerpt from Joanne McLean’s 1999 paper, Conservation and the Impact of Relocation on the Tharus of Chitwan, Nepal documents clashes between soldiers and locals in a TSOC exhibit as well. Between 1966 and 2000, state control of the forest becomes a financial asset, as it earns 3398 million in tax revenue from the sale of forest products and approximately 2751 million in Nepalese currency, through the sale of timber. In fact, through the late 1950s and 1960s King Mahendra’s coined slogan, ‘Hariyo Ban, Nepal ko Dhan’ {Green forests are Nepal’s wealth} gets a local version which goes like ‘Hariyo Ban, Raja ko Dhan’ {Green forests are the King’s wealth}.

‘The degraded landscape: A spectacle of modern technology opening a new frontier in Chitwan. A dozer clears forests to pave way for the construction of infrastructure and an integrated economy.
Photo by Dave Hohl

Community forestry laws with multiple amendments from the late 70s to the 90s have now made a pathway for decentralized natural resource and forest management? With iffy early gains, forest cover in many parts of Chitwan has improved, as has its wildlife numbers. Although by 2005, only 10 % of the Terai forest user groups get to have a say in how the national park functions, as against approximately 24 % of the hill forest groups. While the Tharu community itself scatters with a very mixed Chitwan now.  

With the People’s Revolution in 2006 overthrowing a corrupt Panchayat system and a national population census planned in 2021, this is still a live tug-o-war between top-down instruction and bottom-up need. Not to mention the silences in between. Quite like the experience of tuning in to the Skin of Chitwan online exhibition.

The featured photo is by Amrit Bahadur Chitrakar, Nepal Picture Library.

Tisha Srivastav teaches Media Studies at Ashoka University.

All the images are courtesy of the photographers attributed in the story and Nepal Picture Library. 

Issue 14

The revolution begins from the street (art)

“Thoughtful street art is like good fiction – it speaks out on behalf of everyone, for us all to see.” 

Carla H. Krueger

The final day of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow from 1 – 12 November has a special event called Arts and the Imagination”  hosted by Brian Eno, a British musician, composer and record artist, who defined and reinvented some of the most popular songs of the ‘80-’90s era. It will discuss art and culture in building conversations around climate change. Art has often been shown to have a powerful influence in communication on climate change. Where science fails in inspiring public concern for it, art with its visual engagement makes facts relatable and emotively direct.

So how is a street as a space of interaction between people and art? Think of any lane, street, road, anywhere in the world. As you step on the sidewalk, falling leaves crunching below your feet, cars and buses zooming past you on one side, you happen to glance at a wall on one side of the road.  Swirls of paint in vibrant colours of blue and green in intricate designs coat the walls, cheering you up immediately. Perhaps, you take a step back to observe, , and see that the entire work seems to have some message. Does it speak to you?– The latest Indian Census figures confirm that the biggest part of India’s working population walk to their place of work or cycle. In both cases, a glance on repeat, at the wall on your way to work is something many can choose to engage with. 

According to researchers, streets carry out various social functions, they act like a meeting space to interact with peers, both friends and strangers as well as the society at large. They are ever-changing spaces that symbolically communicate urban problems. Street art in particular, beyond the lens of being a visual image, acts as a mode of communication to other individuals and to protest against an ongoing current event. This conversation is not discriminatory in nature, as the audience is not restricted by class, like it often can be in art galleries. Street art also inserts itself into the small social space within the daily routine. Through this process, street art acts as a connection between the artist and the viewer but also between the individual and society. Street art manages to go beyond​​ the standard, restricted use of space with the help of appropriation and reappropriation of powerful known images and messages. 

So how are Indian artists thinking about this egalitarian space, now?

The word on the street (art)

Shilo Shiv Suleman, 32, a renowned artist from Bengaluru and the founder of Fearless Collective, has used public walls as her canvas to draw attention to the livelihood of waste pickers and Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike’s (BBMP) pourakarmikas (waste and sanitation civic workers), during the pandemic. These women work to collect, segregate and recycle the waste collected from residential areas on an everyday basis. These services didn’t qualify as essential services during the pandemic, so they were not considered frontline workers, who had access to emergency payment or early vaccination.To highlight this, the Fearless Collective along with Hasiru Dala, a social impact organisation working for the welfare of waste pickers, started “Essential” and collectively created a public monument. 

With the slogan “We are for you, you are for us”, the mural stands beautifully painted on the Utility building in Bengaluru, as a timely tribute to the hard working women, who hold our cities together. 

Street art also acts as a medium to celebrate the rich biodiversity of a place. Artist Afzan Pirzade, a street artist based out of Pune, as a part of the Worli Dairy Project, painted the walls in blues and greens, showcasing the diverse biodiversity of Mumbai. Though always seen as the concrete hub of the country, Mumbai also has rich natural heritage that needs to be safeguarded. Through this artwork, he sought to remind the people of Mumbai of the rich fauna and flora they are surrounded with. The artist covers some of the concrete to replicate a scene from nature to convey this message. 

An illustrator and artist born in Tamil Nadu and currently based in Goa, Osheen Shiva’s mural, “Better Together” showcases the interdependence between nature and us. Painted on the walls of the Kendriya Vidyalaya School in Trivandrum, Kerala, is animal life native to the state. The backdrop and the placement of the art on a school wall, is a subtle reach out to everyone who will care to look at it.

Art to Articulate 

John Dewey, a renowned American philosopher and psychologist in his book Art & Experience thought of art to be at the pinnacle of communication when it comes to universality and reach. Art transcends the boundaries of language and communicates shared experiences and thus, a shared sense of meaning. But how do artists use art to communicate? 

Scott R. Rudd, a professor of communications at University of Texas, Austin, argues that the artist through their art communicates either a certain experience to the viewer, or leads them to make certain judgements about an experience. They use the material media that art provides to elicit experiences or thoughts about the specific message they seek to communicate. Art does not always convey new information, but creates new ways of communicating it. 

So while Glasgow discusses this in relation to climate change, a great diversity of subjects and concerns, both local and national continue to revitalize Indian city and townscapes. So, look up as you walk by and see if your lived experience shows up on the wall close to you.

Devanshi Daga is a fourth year undergraduate student at Ashoka University. She has completed her major in Psychology and is currently pursuing her minor in Sociology and Media Studies. 

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 14

All the good girls go to hell: A Soul-Stirring Yet Undeniably Catchy Single By Breakthrough Singer-Songwriter Billie Eilish

Listen to the song here

19-year-old singer-songwriter Billie Eilish is known for her cryptic songs that are surprisingly lilting. Yet more often than not, they point toward a dark story. All the good girls go to hell is no different. Its music video was dropped in September 2019, as the fifth single in her breakthrough album – When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go and features the award-winning singer having white wings, soaked to the skin in black oil, struggling to make her way out of a pool of sludge. Instantly reminding the viewer of a helpless bird stuck in an oil spill. My Lucifer is lonely, sings a wispy voice struggling for breath, as she tries to escape the clutches of the pool, and the listener immediately understands she is referring to the devastating and inescapable consequences of climate change. 

When the video was dropped on YouTube, Billie even confirmed her message through the video’s description. “A note from Billie”: “Right now there are millions of people all over the world begging our leaders to pay attention. Our earth is warming up at an unprecedented rate, icecaps are melting, our oceans are rising, our wildlife is being poisoned and our forests are burning.” 

Standing there, killing time, can’t commit to anything but a crime, sings Billie, possibly taking a dig at our world leaders’ unwillingness to address the climate crisis. The video then has the weary-looking singer managing to come out of the pool, but now staggering through a street, engulfed in flames. The fire continues to burn down her surroundings, as she turns her piercing gaze directly towards the camera and sings, Hills burn in California. The chorus line airs her fears about the rising sea levels, Once the water starts to rise. 

It seems Billie Eilish is not the first singer to express concern about the changing climate through her music. Every day gets hotter than the one before, Running out of water, it’s about to go down sings Childish Gambino in his 2018 hit song, Feels Like Summer. Likewise, the English pop-rock band, The 1975, opened their 2019 album, Notes on a Conditional Form, with a monologue by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s where she calls for civil disobedience to fight for proper climate action. 

While Eilish skillfully uses her lyrics to ask difficult questions and urge humans to show more compassion to the planet, the music itself is incredibly unique; confusing almost. ‘Flitting between gothic, cartoonish show tunes, slow-burning, glossy pop and sculptural, choral electronic strangeness’ as The Guardian describes it. Her voice is fluid but the sounds are funky. Something about the teenager’s intense breathy vocals, neo-gothic vibe, and use of electric sounds, immediately draws a listener in, making them want to truly understand the message she is trying to spread through her craft. 

Meera Anand is a third year undergraduate student at Ashoka University, who is currently pursuing a major in Economics and a minor in Media Studies. 

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 14

Book Review: The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis

The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis, is celebrated writer Amitav Ghosh’s latest offering on the perils of the current climatic context we find ourselves in, its roots with the past, and our undeniable reliance on nature for survival. Out in October, it follows after ‘The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable’ written by Ghosh in 2016. Which was acclaimed for its prowess in calling out the world of art and literature, for failing to bring climate change & our ecological crisis to common parlance and public consciousness.

Ghosh, who won the Jnanpith Award in 2018, employs the nutmeg as the unconventional protagonist in his new work. One that gets transformed into a commodity through Europe’s colonial expansion in its pursuit of trade monopolies, like in the case of the spice trade leading to conquests in the Indian Ocean from the 15th century. And the fossil fuel economy in the present day. 

Ghosh excavates the tale of the Nutmeg, a ground spice, native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, and draws an analogy between it and the transformation of the earth into a set of resources that can and should be exploited.  It’s in the pursuit of the nutmeg by the Dutch and their consequent conquest of the Banda Islands and its people in the 17th century that Ghosh creates parallels with the modern liberal interventionism observed in present-day international politics. He does so by highlighting a still-pervasive philosophy traceable to the 16th century, which states that any “well-governed country…has an absolute right to invade countries that are ‘degenerate’ or in violation of the ‘laws of nature & nations’”. The Bandanese people, like many other cultures of that era and before, regarded the earth as a living entity, as living and breathing as they were. Their deep-seated, ancient bond with the Earth had passed down generations through stories, songs, and tales, and they knew that without nature, they would not survive.

Ghosh’s investigation into the past uncovers many rich details for the reader such as the falling of a lantern at the Banda Islands, an incident that led to extreme panic among the Dutch soldiers, and violence against the Bandanese people. Discovered by Ghosh after translating Dutch records. With this, Ghosh demonstrates how brutality against indigenous people is inextricably linked with Europe’s conquest of nature.“But since the nutmeg trade is synonymous with the Bandas, it can’t be helped”. 

Similarly, Ghosh brings to light many other instances that mark shifts in thought as well as the tools used to transform the earth into an inert entity that has been conquered ideologically & physically. The modern civilisation, Ghosh remarks, prizes itself for finally conquering nature and becoming the “crowning race”, achieves so by exterminating every other species. Ghosh attempts to unpack the centuries of subjugation of the earth and its people through the tales of the Banda and Maluka people of Indonesia, and the Navajo Tribe of North America.

The earth has lost its meaning, as it is conquered, inert, supine. The earth can no longer enable, nor delight, nor produce new aspiration.” In a world where the earth’s billionaires (who not-so-coincidentally are also major polluters) are in a space race, Ghosh’s choice of the nutmeg, a spice, an entity of and from the earth as the focus, is a deliberate attempt to break free from the capitalist notion: “[views] the earth as though it were an inert entity that exists primarily to be exploited and profited from, with the aid of science and technology”. The reader can’t help being moved as the account traces the loss of the sacred relationship of humans with the earth under the guise of the privilege of modernity. The modern world, where chasing profit is considered the sole virtue, isn’t meant to sustain the bonds of the earth.

Ghosh creates a parallel between the geopolitical conflict driven by the spice trade & the modern geopolitical conflict for “botanical matter” (fossil fuels). “Five centuries of history – going back to geopolitical rivalries over the control of cloves, nutmegs & pepper – have given the world’s most ‘advanced’ countries a strategic interest in perpetuating the global fossil fuel regime.” He explains that the primary reason for inaction towards addressing the climate crisis is that the hegemony of the West rests on the control of the fossil fuel regime & their vested interests prevent a shift away from it. He, however, may be giving too much leeway to China & India, two of the biggest oil importers, on their renewable energy efforts as the same fossil fuel lobbies drive domestic coal production which maintains this hegemony. 

While the world awaits climate action, and the elite sections of society hope for technology to buy them out of the climate crisis, Ghosh’s latest attempt hopes to restore the bonds with earth. He brings together the many crises we face today, placing them in the historical and present context and offering insight into how we landed at this moment of planetary crisis. By interlinking events through space and time, he creates a rich understanding of what must be done to survive the crisis, and perhaps come out of thriving. 

Mehak Bhargava is a student of Environmental Studies at Ashoka University. When she’s not worrying about the planet, she dances & experiments with specialty coffee drinks. 

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 14

Who is riding pillion on the e-scooter buzz in India?

“We have recorded our best month in September, with one e-scooter sold every day,” says Sminy Devassy, owner of Ampere Electric’s franchise in Thrissur, a district in central Kerala. Ampere Electric, the e-mobility business of Greaves Cotton Limited, has otherwise sold more than one lakh e-scooters nationally since they launched thirteen years ago. In the case of another e-scooter manufacturer, Ather Energy, its CEO, Tarun Mehta, through a LinkedIn post on October 15, said that their sales in the past fortnight alone equaled the total sales in 2020.

One look at the data of India’s apex body representing the Indian automobile industry, SIAM’s 2020-2021 domestic sales trend, tells you why. All two-wheeler sales dipped in 2020 nationally. So compared to a year ago, is it picking up again as a category in general and a buzz around electric vehicles in particular? Has Sminy, who started this franchise at the cusp of 2020-2021 and sold more than 200 e-scooters, in the first three weeks of October, entered the EV business at the right time? 

The Electric Vehicle (EV) Push: Business & energy-security?

20 Indian states, including Kerala, now have an EV policy, with more joining in. To help the common man make the shift, the cost price is down, with a subsidy or two. One, the central government’s Fame II subsidy and states are individually offering their own. Many have early bird incentives and schemes for battery packs like Maharashtra here

The Kerala State Electricity Minister recently launched an online EV store and app for the state, passing on 50 % of the subsidy, first to government employees. In fact, Vehicle Registration data for two-wheelers, which in this case, shows motorcycles and scooters in the same category, is down in all Central and Southern Kerala districts, barring Ernakulam. Like it has been across India in 2021. Much of it is due to the pandemic, but are a few, in wait and watch EV mode?

At one level, this shift attempts to address national energy security. Fossil fuel based transportation is the second largest source of CO2 emissions, it has already caused over 50 % of the global energy consumption and the rising price of crude oil will continue to affect a nation’s trade deficit. Like much of the world is realising, a reset begins with shifting from a vehicle dependent on the internal combustion engine or ICE. To electric options. But is it here that EV companies like Simple Energy and OLA are aiming for the world?

OLA Electric’s live stream on August 15, was kicked off by its CEO Bhavesh Agarwal’s e-scooter launch, where he had this to say, “As we develop as a nation, we need to make sure many many more people get access to a two-wheeler. But we can’t make them gasoline two-wheelers — we need to ensure these are electric two-wheelers.” He went on to add, “scooters, which are urban mobility vehicles haven’t been innovated upon for decades. The scooters currently in the market are completely out of sync with the aspirations of India. They are boring, dull, slow, clunky and just don’t represent the future.” He then introduced the OLA S1 — the e-scooter which within a matter of two months, received over half a million bookings. Stepping up production capacity, deliveries are slated to begin October end, says the company. Although it is tight-lipped about final booking numbers.

Will India’s two-wheeler consumer adapt?

In India, 80 percent of all vehicles sold are two-wheelers, so it makes economic sense to innovate in this consumer segment. Even when sales are currently down in 2021, the number of Indians using two-wheelers has grown from a decade ago. While a little less than ten Indian companies are in the e-scooter space, global brands like Honda and Yamaha are currently doing feasibility studies in India, to see the world’s largest two-wheeler market readiness, for e-scooters in all aspects. Ask Sminy what her customers look for before deciding and she says, “Customers look for e-scooters with high power and high range. They generally buy with the intention of keeping it for 5-6 years, expect low maintenance and some people even get their e-scooter, to experience an electric vehicle for the first time as an experimental mission.” Her next statement is a reminder that this EV segment has also seen a boom and bust before. When EV bicycles of Chinese make were pitched as EV scooters, Indian EV companies like the one she has a franchise for, lasted out, “being an older brand under Crompton Greaves gives them credibility and trust to the customers, compared to the Chinese scooters. And now with petrol prices increasing so rapidly and moving beyond 100 rupees.” 

CEO Tarun Mehta in the same post also says, “Smaller cities are producing an amazing EV story, beating most predictions (including some of our own). EVs are going mainstream now.”As a YouTuber with over 9000 subscribers,  Hasna Nishaf, a quail farmer from rural Kerala might agree with him. She has recently bought one. She also quickly put out her cost-benefit analysis of  EV use on her Malayalam channel, Zara the Farming Partner, “this e-scooter has helped me bring down my monthly running costs from 3000 rupees to just 150.

Nikhil C Rimon, who works as a mechanic in the same store, comments on the maintenance cost for servicing, “we just check the batteries, brakes and do general maintenance for the services. After the initial 3 free services, a customer typically only spends about 300 rupees for each service afterward which includes a water service as well.” 

The health benefits have been confirmed by a 2021 study conducted by the International Council on Clean Transportation which says that mass adoption of EVs with a market penetration of 67 percent by 2030 alone, would save Indians $10.3 billion in avoided health costs, due to decreased pollution. ‘This is under the conservative assumption that the additional power demand due to vehicle electrification is met through fossil fuel power plants. Additional policies to clean up India’s electricity grid could amplify the air quality and health benefits of vehicle electrification.’ The current leader in charging networks for electric vehicles in India, Tata Power, has already invested widely in solar and wind electricity generation

While e-scooter startups like OLA Electric and Simple Energy, aim for export and the Indian market, the central and state governments gear up with schemes and subsidies, the road ahead is abuzz with change. 

Gamechanger? Time and the price-sensitive Indian consumer will tell.

Cefil is a student of Mathematics and Environmental Studies at Ashoka University.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 14

Issue XIV: Editor’s Note

With the leaders of the world – most of whom chosen by us – preparing to meet at the critical Conference of Parties 26 (COP26) gathering in the first weeks of November, this axis of environment and politics, is one whose outlines are becoming increasingly apparent. Before we get to unpacking what may be in store there, maybe it is wise to take a glance at the politics of the environment at large. The new generation strives to demand more; we ask for accountability from our leaders, expect our institutions to be fairer, and recognise that the effect of climate change has not been equal on all. There is a politics to most things around us – by acknowledging this and by asking the right questions, we make our own politics more just. 

As student-journalists training for the world at OpenAxis, it is our responsibility to bring to you this spirit of inquiry in Issue XIV, the second of our several issues, entirely on environmental matters. 

2021 saw a historic federal election in Germany, with the country stepping into a post- Merkel world and climate change, becoming an influential marker. Aritro Sarkar explores how the ‘climate elections’ in Europe’s most powerful economy could shape the climate conversation for Germany and the EU. 

Cefil Joseph Soans connects the worlds of a ground up conservation movement in Kerala with the global shift in data modelling access and analyses why this could be significant.

Stepping into the cultural realm, Rishita Chaudhary celebrates Rachel Carson’s masterpiece Silent Spring, as it approaches 60 years of publication, by taking stock of contemporary climate literature. 

Ishita Ahuja speaks to three young Indian climate activists to understand their politics as individuals and as representatives of the Global Climate Strike movement, out in full force again on October 22, 2021.

Meera Anand in Open Axis Recommends speaks about a song and a web series and their connection with us and the changing natural world.

Manufacturers say bookings are up for electric scooters in India in October 2021. Is this disruptive enough to trigger mass market EV adoption? Cefil takes an analytical route to see if this is indeed the way to address pollution. 

With the recent release of Amitav Ghosh’s sequel to the Great Derangement, Mehak Bhargava reviews The Nutmeg’s Curse. What are the arguments it makes to demonstrate our fundamental dependence on the environment and its role in shaping human history?

What kind of power exists at the intersection of art as a medium and the street as a stage, set against a climate crisis backdrop? Devanshi Daga tries to find out by speaking with some artists.

The Skin of Chitwan, part of the “Indigenous Pasts, Sustainable Futures” project of the Nepal Picture Library, goes beyond the news tidbit to offer a visual history of dislocation, from a terai forest in Nepal.

With Beijing’s September declaration of ending its funding for new coal projects abroad, Anushree Pratap explores what this means for several developing nations.

-Anushree Pratap, Aritro Sarkar, Cefil Joseph Soans, Isha Pareek

Issue 14

The Commons: A Dystopian Science Fiction Series that does not Feel Like One

The Guardian called it, ‘eerily plausible and uncomfortably timely’, Australia gave its top sci-fi screenwriting award in 2020 to Shelley Birse, who wrote The Commons, an eight-part Australian TV series from 2019. Birse strongly felt the need to see“the climate opportunity rather than the climate emergency”, and make a show about “humanity’s chances of retaining our humanity in the face of those choices.” 

Set in an orange-skied, pollution-stricken, near-future Sydney, the story revolves around Eadie Boulay, played by Joanne Froggatt (also seen in the popular British series, Downton Abbey). A neuropsychologist in her mid-thirties, as determined to have a baby, as she is to help her patients and the refugees. The story feels personal, with climate change, ricocheting through it. 

Everyday life moves to the sudden rhythms of extreme weather events. The protagonist and her son are walking back from school and there is a quick spell of acid rain. Power outages are scheduled, because the city’s electric grid has been aligned to windstorms of a certain severity. When it crosses that danger mark, the system auto-shuts down and citizens are trained to seek shelter. A city’s government’s public address system alerts, in the face of an oncoming typhoon is so normalized. In different seasons throughout the series, nature’s particular fury has the most ordained responses, as if to show at once, how humans have adapted, can fall in line and remain somewhat maladjusted. And by seasons, I mean nature’s seasons because this is a one-season show in web series terms. Immigration features in the context of government capacity to take in refugees. With a headcount, so arbitrary that who you may know in the system, still counts. If you don’t, off you go, to the edge of town shelters, cramped, shared, but working. Yet in moments it can get so overwhelmed that all ID papers become iffy. The psychological astuteness of the creator of the series, is in the fact that she imagines the nervous tic such a life would have and then also offers it scope for humanity. To ask for help, to get help, to look out for someone you don’t know. Even as the richest one percent living in what is quite literally a bubble scamper to buy forest land in the Australian outdoors, far off from the city. In fact unlike the clichéd Hollywood trope of portraying an exciting future filled with state-of-the-art technology, transparent computer screens, and talking robot assistants, this show displays a future that seems a lot more plausible. Surreal and real.

What surprised me the most about this show though, was how unsurprised I was while watching horrifying outdoor events unfold in every episode. This near-future prediction does not look very different from our present, almost as if, with every subplot, the show highlights an effect of the climate crises we are already witnessing. As new diseases emerge because of increasing global temperatures, the scientists on screen work towards finding cures.

The climate track seems to walk in a lane parallel to the human one. Where Eadie’s own inner voice guides her actions, with a steel that acknowledges rust, but still walks stainlessly. Tough decisions, soft moments, ordinary kindness feature, intercut with each other, as normally as they do in life, but then nature weathers several characters and in a few they just get wrung out. The viewer might come away, feeling a little of what resilience can mean.Without giving too much away, let’s just say that Eadie’s desire to have a baby and her drive to be a responsible citizen for the commons can pull one in. The Commons, of course, is usually used as a shorthand reference, for the resources that belong to all and this series reminds you of the different ways people try and claim it.

Unlike our world leaders, writer Shelley Birse is not afraid to show things as they are, making this artfully directed drama series, a must-watch.

Meera Anand is a third year undergraduate student at Ashoka University, who is currently pursuing a major in Economics and a minor in Media Studies.

The featured image is from Best Movie Cast.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 14

The Politics of a Climate Strike: Three Young Activists Talk Impact, Space, and Privilege

With the 3 pm sun beating down on her, 19-year-old Rakshinda A. stood alone with her climate action placard at Gandhi Maidan, Patna. “We had enrolled 12 volunteers in our group and the 12 had confirmed, but they didn’t show up. Some people were saying that they weren’t in Patna, some were saying that there was too much heat so they couldn’t come outside,” says Rakshinda.  

The maidan, has, over the years, witnessed pivotal moments in the nation’s history, from Netaji Subhash Bose’s rallies during the independence movement, all the way to Jayaprakash Narayan’s Total Revolution movement in the early 1970s, during which, the maidan was almost an epicentre. Gandhi himself hosted prayer meetings at the Bankipore Maidan. It was renamed in 1948, after his assassination.

Therefore it is no surprise, Rakshinda found a group of social workers, curious to help her here too. “I was sitting with my placard there only and some people came up to me and asked what is this, what are you doing, and luckily they were social workers so it was helpful, ” she says

Rakshinda was one of the many activists observing the Global Climate Strike held worldwide on September 24, and across 51 such sites in India, initiated by the non-profit organisation FridaysForFuture. The theme for the strike was Uproot the System. Climate change may be a global emergency, but weighing its impact requires one to understand that it will affect different social groups on different scales. “That’s why the term MAPA arises, to make communities that suffer the most from the effects of climate change more visible”, says FridaysForFuture on their website. The next such strike is to be observed on October 22.

It is not easy. But these young activists know what they are up against. “These past 10 days we were very demotivated because people didn’t join us and along with that we had to hear lots of negative comments. [People said things like] if you’re striking plant trees, clean the place instead, rues Rakshinda. Echoing her sentiment, FridaysForFuture in the Narrative for the Next Global Climate Strike, argues that climate activism for underrepresented communities has become even harder over the last year and a half.  “The pandemic, on top of other long-standing political and socio-economic issues, continues to devastate MAPA and makes it difficult for local communities and organizations to mobilize for climate and social justice.”

Still, there seems to be no shortage in the drive and desire to make protests count.“The last time, we went into the Delhi Secretariat and received a signed document that acknowledged our demands. This time we plan to follow up on them, “says Eco-Logical, a substack newsletter by FridaysForFuture Delhi.

Speaking to us from Patna, Rakshinda has worked with communities in Barari and Bhagalpur districts of Bihar, on water and waste management. “We had to reach people and ask them their problems and enable them to have resources, it’s a very big process and we don’t have the capacity. Outside the boundary, there is an area where they stay and they migrate here for jobs. But they cannot afford the rent to stay here, so we try to reach out to them.”

Laksh Sharma, a coordinator at FridaysForFuture Delhi, understands how the idea of privilege too weaves itself into the conversation around climate change and MAPA. The 21-year-old explains how getting in touch with all underserved communities is difficult, so they started with who they could reach, “so that was the LGBTQ+ community and women.” 

“We tried to uplift them, bring them to our strike, and give them space so that they can also come and speak their minds,” says Laksh. He was one of the people who led the march from ITO Metro Station, all the way to the Delhi Secretariat, organized by FridaysForFuture Delhi on the day of the September strike. The march culminated with the organization’s leaders handing over their demands for inclusive climate change action to Gopal Rai, the Minister for Environment and Development in the Delhi Government. 

While urban centres in India connect to a growing global movement of climate resistance, it is an ideal native to the subcontinent for centuries. The Chipko movement, for instance, campaigned strongly against the felling of trees, with protestors hugging them. In 1974, led by Gaura Devi, the women of Reni village in Uttarakhand, for example, prevented the cutting down of more than 2000 trees by refusing to move out of the forest.

It can be traced back to the 18th century, when Amrita Devi hugged the Khejri tree in the Khejarli village, which sparked off a movement leading to the then king of Marwar, banning the felling of trees under his rule. While the Central Government of India has had a national award in wildlife conservation on Amrita Devi’s name since 2013 and their first awardee was from a community known to protect the Blackbuck, environmental activism continues to speak of social justice and livelihood security across India. There is in fact a growing realization in urban climate activism in India too, with activists like Laksh keen to create more space for communities affected by climate change at the frontlines.“So this journey of learning and building a community has been the reason that I can go on and on,” he claims.

Mehak Bhargava, co-founder of the collective Millennials for Environment says, “[climate change] is already impacting us on a huge scale. And it’s going to get worse from here if we don’t do something about it… at the very core of me, I don’t want to live a life where I’m constantly battling with one catastrophe after the other”. The 21-year-old, who hails from Nagpur, highlighting the inequalities of climate impact continues.“More than half of the people on this earth don’t deserve what’s coming for them. I just really think that’s very, very unfair.” 

As someone who runs a social media page seeking to mobilize and raise awareness about the uneven effects of climate change, she also acknowledges the powerful role social media, is playing during the pandemic, “Whatever we do now is creating mobilization online, that is creating campaigns pushing out narratives in the mainstream media, like getting the big newspapers to cover events, getting the big people on Twitter or Instagram, and politicians to talk about these issues.” FridaysForFuture Delhi too works social media, to raise awareness on issues slipping under the radar of mainstream media: be it on the environmental impact of diamond excavation in Buxwaha, Madhya Pradesh, or the displacement and degradation that could befall Hasdeo, the coal-rich province in Chhattisgarh, if indiscriminate mining is sanctioned there.

A lot of these activists – particularly the ones in urban India – are still relatively young, and at some level, there is a worry about the repercussions of their activism. The Disha Ravi episode, which saw the climate activist jailed because of a social media toolkit, would still be fresh in the minds of most. There is also the perpetual fear of retaliatory violence. FridaysForFuture has been mindful of this, and while insisting on continuing their protests peacefully and without violence, remains steadfast in their commitment to strike: “We strike because we have no choice”

At the end of the day, these activists are united in their shared politics of an inclusive climate conversation.“MAPA are unheard, not voiceless. They’ve been fighting for their present, not just their future… Don’t fight FOR MAPA, fight ALONGSIDE MAPA,” is the emphatic message FridaysForFuture offers. It is what these urban activists must try to live by.

Ishita Ahuja is a second-year undergraduate student at Ashoka University. She is an aspiring Literature major and Environmental Science minor, with an affinity for the outdoors. She hopes to become an environmental journalist soon.

The featured image is from @fridaysforfuture.bihar via Instagram

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).

Issue 14

The Storyteller approach: Scientific writing since Silent Spring

As Rachel Carson stood in front of the US Congressional Hearing in 1963, waiting to testify as a witness against the agricultural practice of reckless usage of pesticides, she knew her words could have consequences for the health of millions in America. “I have pointed out before, and I shall repeat now, that the problem of pesticides· can be properly understood only in context, as part of the general introduction of harmful substances into the environment. In water and soil, and in our own bodies, these chemicals are mingled with others, or with radioactive substances. There are little understood interactions and summations of effect.” 

The publication of her book Silent Spring in 1962 had brought the ecological danger of these practices into public consciousness, threatening the chemical and agricultural industry. They critiqued her writing as anemotional and inaccurate outburst and her style as “hysterically over empathetic” and However, Carson’s meticulous research was verified by experts and she stated on record that she had “never asked the reader to take my word. I have given [the readers] a very clear indication of my sources.” 

Master Scientist and Wordsmith

The questions that Rachel Carson raised through her writing sparked the modern environmental movement in the US. A host of environmental and health laws concerning solid-waste disposal, clean air, and protection of endangered species were passed in the years after Silent Spring came out. The US government also created the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), a federal agency tasked with ensuring the protection of such laws, in 1970. Two years later, the pesticide DDT was banned in the US

First of its kind in the world of American publishing, Silent Spring also spawned the genre of science non-fiction literature. Carson blended empirical scientific research with fiction writing and storytelling. She sprinkled the book with cautionary metaphors. With chapter titles like River of Death, The Rumblings of an Avalanche, and The Human Price. Well aware of her audience, she played directly to their fears. In one instance, she spoke directly to suburban housewives, painting a portrait of having to discover mutilated, dead squirrels right in their curated backyard, as a result of pesticide accumulation. 

Carson and her new genre gave rise to works such as Bill Mckibben’s The End of Nature (1989) and Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes From a Catastrophe (2006), both relaying red alerts about climate change; and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (2006), which tied the systems connecting agriculture, food, and health together. As Dr. Salma Monani, Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities at Gettysburg College argues, Al Gore was inspired by and borrowed from Carson’s rhetoric, in his documentary film, An inconvenient truth.

Is there scope for making science more popular? 

The bulk of climate communication in the past has been spearheaded by scientists employing an arsenal of facts and figures. Behind such an approach is the science comprehension thesis, which assumes ordinary individuals will act to mitigate the climate crisis if they are presented with more scientific facts. However, a 2017 study shows it is not only what you present to the public that matters, but how. “Every day, all over the world, online and in print, in newspapers and magazines, there are scientists and academics droning on and on in boring ways about this and that in terms of climate change. They never talk about emotions, they never talk about culture, they never talk about poetry….Their discussions don’t and won’t change a thing,” remarks former journalist and blogger Dan Bloom. 

Usual doom and gloom climate crisis messaging can send readers spiralling, leading both to different kinds of severe mental illnesses and making it difficult to carry out effective climate action. Instead of raw data, dire statistics, and loud proclamations of the end of the world, activists are now switching gear, to tell stories. The handbook for IPCC authors highlights several pointers for groups working with climate communication – Connect with what matters to the audience; Talk about the real world, not abstract ideas, and Tell a human story

59 years after publication, Silent Spring remains a landmark piece in environmental literature because it does precisely that. While deeply rigorous in the scientific method, it eschews overreliance on jargon and data, working the literary tool instead, pathos, personification, and fable. Silent Spring starts with A Fable for Tomorrow, where Carson paints the picture of an imagined tragedy on the verge of becoming a stark reality, where a town afflicted with some evil spell had silenced all life. 

It quickly becomes apparent that this fable is not meant to enchant the reader but to jolt him out of enchantment,” writes Dr. Lisa Sideris, an Associate Professor at Indiana University. “The fabled town is a composite sketch of actual disasters occurring all over communities in America,” she explains, “and so it is not quite factual but neither is it fabrication. It is the sort of science-fiction fantasy that Carson now fears is possible.” Speculative fiction as a writing tool has been used by scores of writers since, leading to the emergence of an entirely new genre called climate-fiction or Cli-Fi.

When Fact meets Fiction 

Coined by Dan Bloom, Cli-Fi is a branch of fiction literature driven by the human-induced climate crisis. At bookshop sections earlier, it would show up under science fiction. But no longer. From ​​surviving in skyscrapers half-submerged by sea-level rise (George Turner’s The Summer and the Sea) to living in a world erupting in a civil war, over scarce water rights (Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife), these storylines also imagine life differently in the near future. Sometimes they can be dystopian and sometimes not. For instance, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future reckons with a world where nation-states have begun geo-engineering, to respond to climate changed daily life. They are effective, says Dan Bloom, because, “They use heart to write stories about these issues, not brain. They create characters the reader will care about and perhaps even identify with. Novels are about empathy.

Together, the popularity of this genre signals a shift in climate communication. With an emphasis on scientific accuracy and non-fictional description of social science, perhaps it can help unravel the inherent tension between communicating urgency and instilling hope. In many ways, Silent Spring’s message remains salient today, provoking not only emotional resilience but the courage to recognise what is to be done and by whom. Rachel Carson, in her own words, remains an inspiring silo-breaker. “Many people have commented with surprise on the fact that a work of science should have a large popular sale. But this notion that ‘science’ is something that belongs in a separate compartment of its own, apart from everyday life, is one that I should like to challenge. …Science is part of the reality of living;… It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.”

Rishita Chaudhary is a second-year student studying political science, international relations, and media studies at Ashoka University.

We publish all articles under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives license. This means any news organisation, blog, website, newspaper or newsletter can republish our pieces for free, provided they attribute the original source (OpenAxis).