• Saturday, September 21, 2019

New York Times correspondent explains why he is leaving India

Discussion in 'World Affairs' started by VelocuR, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. VelocuR

    VelocuR SENIOR MEMBER

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    Why India claim that they are fake superpower and cleanliest place in the world ??? They continue to bash Pakistan, Afghanistan, US and China yet despite many trolling here ?!?

    Glad to see many Western foreigners now realize about the ugly side of India's dirty environments and horrific experiences in order to protect their children..

    Delhi is killing my kids: New York Times correspondent explains why he is leaving India

    June 1 2015

    [​IMG]

    The fact that the residents of Delhi breathe some of the worst air in the world is hardly in doubt any more. Yet, despite a variety of reports raising alarm bells about the precipitous decline, there's no real sign of action. In an evocative piece for the New York Times that's being widely shared on social media, its South Asia correspondent Gardiner Harris documents his decision to move back to the United States to save his children's health.

    Harris starts by documenting how he moved to India with his family three years ago, little realising 'how dangerous the city would be for his boys'. The Harisses quickly realised the perils of Delhi's poor air quality when their son's inhaler stopped working a mere nine months after they moved to the city.

    "We nearly left two years ago, after Bram’s first hospitalization. Even after his breathing stabilized, tests showed that he had lost half his lung function. On our doctor’s advice, we placed him on routine steroid therapy and decided that as long as his breathing did not worsen again, we could stay in Delhi."

    They received another rude shock when sewage water started trickling out of the taps of their brand new apartment building due Delhi's open and badly planned sewers.

    The correspondent and his family, however, chose to remain -- Harris' choice over the objections of his wife -- until recently when the final straw broke the back of his decision:

    "Yet one afternoon this spring, someone in our neighborhood burned something toxic, and an astringent cloud spread around our block. My wife was out walking with a friend, and their eyes became teary and their throats began to close. They bolted back inside our apartment where they found Bram gasping again, for the first time in two years."

    He also points to the various health problems that come from high pollution including reduced lung capacity, earlier death, disability, autism, epilepsy, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and says there are also nascent studies that indicate it could reduce kids' IQ.

    Harris acknowledges that there are many expatriates who have chosen to live on in Beijing, and even Delhi, despite documenting and knowledge about the pollution around them but says his family's not one of them. His family's moving to Washington this week.

    Harris claims that he is not alone, citing a steep fall in the admissions for the American Embassy school, and dwindling expat parishioners in his pastor's congregation,

    there is little that is new in Harris' column about the state of Delhi's environment. Doctors have long been recommending parents to move their kids out of Delhi. As Firstpost's Tarique Anwar had reported, a study conducted by scientists from Kolkata-based Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute (CNCI) has found that the number of killer respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) in the air spiked to 316 µg/m3 (microgram per cubic metre) in 2014, which are double that of Beijing, from 161 µg/m3 in 2007.

    This means that compared to children elsewhere, Delhi’s children were more prone to ‘upper and lower respiratory symptoms’ such as sinusitis, running or stuffy nose, dry cough, wheezing, breathlessness on exertion, chest pain or tightness and disturbed sleep due to breathing problems. It also meant that kids were more likely to develop conditions like hypertension.

    But what Harris doesn't acknowledge is that this is not about Delhi alone. Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata are no better with a recent survey by an NGO saying that 35 percent of school-going children suffer from poor lung health across all cities.

    Delhi is killing my kids: New York Times correspondent explains why he is leaving India - Firstpost

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    NYT writer is absolutely right: Delhi is literally a shithole; but so is all of India

    June 1 2015

    In his 1960 exploration of eastern mysticism, The Lotus and the Robot, Arthur Koestler compared the smell of Bombay to that of “a wet smelly diaper” wrapped around his head. Four years later, VS Naipaul was so revulsed about the filth in India that he wrote in an Area of Darkness that “Indians defecate everywhere” - beside the railway tracks, on the beaches, on the hills, on the riverbanks and on the streets. “They never look for cover,” he said with absolute disgust.

    India was smarter than Koestler and Naipaul — it promptly banned both the books.

    [​IMG]

    When the South Asia correspondent of New York Times, Gardiner Harris, wrote on 29 May (Holding Your Breath in India) — that Delhi is an unliveable place because of pollution and that he left the city to safeguard his son’s health, the outrage was similar. There was no possibility of banning an article on the Internet, but angry Indians took to social media and slammed Harris for being an elitist expat. Some said while he was over-protective over his child, he had scant regard for the Indian children in Delhi who had no option but to live there, little realising that his voice was that of a frustrated father, who doesn’t have to put his family through the perils of living in a dirty city.

    Harris wrote: “Foreigners have lived in Delhi for centuries, of course, but the air and the mounting research into its effects have become so frightening that some feel it is unethical for those who have a choice to willingly raise children here. Similar discussions are doubtless underway in Beijing and other Asian megacities, but it is in Delhi — among the most populous, polluted, unsanitary and bacterially unsafe cities on earth — where the new calculus seems most urgent.”

    He hits where it hurts. The capital of a super power aspirant, a country which is projected to become the world’s third biggest economy in 2020, has been described as “among the most populous, polluted, unsanitary and bacterially unsafe cities on earth”. He also goes on to add that out of the 25 worst polluted cities in the world, 13 are in India.

    It’s remarkable that even after 50 years since Koestler and Naipaul refused to hold back their revulsion to the all-pervading filth in India, it still remains a humiliating truth that visitors find out the moment they set their foot in the country.

    In his recent overseas tour, Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that earlier Indians felt ashamed of being born in India, but now they feel proud. Do they? His point was political. He thought that the change of government in India makes its people proud. But in reality, Indians should still be ashamed because outsiders find their country too filthy to live in; the filth that has permeated every state of matter — solid, liquid, gas and perhaps even plasma. It doesn’t befit a modern nation that’s apparently raring to go.

    What Koestler and Naipaul wrote in the sixties and what Harris wrote in 2015 are not anecdotal, but are borne out by facts. According to WHO, India accounts for 90 percent of open defecation in South Asia and 59 percent of the practice in the world. It also accounts for more than twice the number of open defecations of the 18 countries that come after it in the WHO list.

    WHO also says that close to 100 million Indians don’t have access to improved sources of water, which is not surprising because our waterways are filled with filth. According to Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) 2011-12 annual report, about 60 percent of India’s water-sources (which are routinely monitored) have poor “bio-chemical oxygen demand”, an indicator of organic pollution, and about 68 percent have faecal coliform — bacteria from shit.

    In other words, more than 60 percent of our water sources are polluted with organic waste and faecal matter. This happens because untreated sewage, faeces and other organic wastes are led into rivers and ponds that Indians draw their water from. Industrial waste and toxic substances that are dumped into them on an hourly basis make them lethal. All major Indian rivers are polluted by industrial effluents and untreated sewage. In its report, the Pollution Control Board even specifically mentions how under-capacity sewage treatment plants let out raw filth into the rivers at various places.

    In terms of air quality, the principal concern of Harris in Delhi, 79 percent of metropolitan cities have very high levels of particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide, both of which are the main causes of air pollution. Among the four metros, the presence of particulate matter in Delhi is a well-known story and is obviously rising compared to others. But Delhi is not alone, many other cities, including small towns are asphyxiating in their own emissions.

    Delhiites can be peeved because Harris picked on their city while the rest of urban India is no different. It’s only a matter of degree of criticality (air pollution levels are classified as low, medium, hight and critical). The fact of the matter is that urban India is rotting and is sinking in its own filth.

    Can the Prime Minister’s boutique project of “Swatch Bharat” change this?

    Absolutely not, because the socio-economic determinants of this environmental degradation are far deeper than what’s apparent. With more than 42 percent of its population living in 53 cities, India’s urbanisation is so skewed that it’s hard to provide a matching civic infrastructure and therefore untreated sewage will continue to flow into rivers, lakes, and open places. If the agriculture and rural employment continue to fail, it will get worse.

    Without stopping open defecation, the spread of coliform and other parasites cannot be stopped. Without cracking down on crony-capitalists, including big corporates, the dumping of effluents into rivers and toxic gases into air will not stop. Without providing reliable public transport, the ambient air can never get clean.

    And more importantly, all these are to be handled at the local level by the state governments and local bodies. Given the pathetic standards of governance and political priorities in some states, it’s a daunting task.


    In the end, India’s filth is a metaphor for its overall ills that include poverty, inequality, castes, corruption, poor development policies and greed. It’s not a question of aesthetics, but a question of fundamental social change.

    NYT writer is absolutely right: Delhi is literally a shithole; but so is all of India - Firstpost

    More interesting:- 8 Reasons Why I Hate Delhi


    Let's ignore trolls.......:disagree:
     
  2. Donatello

    Donatello PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    He can move to Islamabad.
     
  3. Black Alloy

    Black Alloy FULL MEMBER

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    Waiting for the hordes of Hindus to come charging in.
     
  4. New Resolve

    New Resolve FULL MEMBER

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    :bad:
     
  5. Star Wars

    Star Wars BANNED

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    Must suck to have your NGO closed down, eeh ?... :lol:
     
  6. cerberus

    cerberus BANNED

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    Well thanks for elaborating on the problems we face as Indians. However, it makes me difficult to understand, how Author manage to live a healthy life with so much negativity within. But this is not about you. We all have to agree to the fact that India is indeed polluted and the pollution levels are rising day on day basis.

    What you missed here, in your criticism spree that Swach Bharat is a strong and a bold step taken to check on this issue. Wonder why you didn't take the pain of finding out, how many toilets have been built so far and you'll be astonished by the number. I'd also recommend you to study the latest regulations by pollution control board in PM Modi's regime.

    So, here's a suggestion. Stop cribbing about things and try to highlight the positive aspects. This will motivate Indians to do something good and bring in the change.
     
    • Thanks Thanks x 1
  7. Lonely Hermit

    Lonely Hermit FULL MEMBER

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    Hold Your Breath And Cut The Hyperbole, Mr New York Times Reporter
    Hold Your Breath And Cut The Hyperbole, Mr New York Times Reporter

    For an article that talks in excruciating detail of the cataclysmic effect of Delhi’s air, Harris Gardiner quotes but a single scientific study.
    Posted by

    Anand Ranganathan


    [​IMG]

    The snow was packed loosely and ready to rumble. Gardiner Harris checked his watch and set off a controlled explosion. And now the avalanche.

    Ever since his dispatch, Holding Your Breath in India, appeared in The New York Times, the Indian media has gone into a tizzy, with The Times of India leading the vanguard. These Quentins would have you believe that Delhi, a megapolis of 25 million inhabitants, is a dungeon full of gimps. The water is undrinkable, the land is unusable; and the air – well, the air is unbreathable. The message is clear: Leave or Die.

    Using each one of his 1771 rusted and pointed words as though they were a sloshed acupuncturist’s needles, Harris set about pricking the average Dilliwallah at all the wrong places. Then he went for the jugular – weaving personal anecdotes into the story that otherwise resembled the omnibus edition of a drain inspector’s report. At long last the great Paul Bowles has competition in the Travel Horror Lit category. Mind you, anecdotes have a surreal effect on the reader, whisking him away to the twilight zone where concrete facts are allowed to mingle freely with creative writing. This is the reason why Homeopathy has its aficionados in this country – “I’m telling you, it worked for me. Ma-kasam.”

    There is little doubt, though – and for Dilliwallahs less than little – that Harris’ Huns-are-here piece, when scrunched into a ball acceptable to the nearest wastepaper bin, dribbles enough juicy truth.

    Delhi is polluted. This is a fact. Yes, we have seen the mighty Yamuna – that now resembles an angry columnist frothing at the mouth. Yes, we know that a third of Dilliwallahs live in slums. Yes, all 25 million of us wish we had water the purity of Bisleri to drink, space the quality of Lutyens’ to live, and air the quality of Ooty to breathe. But personal anecdotes do not make a story watertight. If that were the case, all of us would have believed Congress minister Jairam Ramesh when he held for show a fistful of Union Carbide soil and hollered, “Look, I’m holding this and I’m still alive!”.

    Remember, also, that no matter how much we cried about the harmful, deathly effects of smoking, the cigarette companies were pummelled into accepting the truth only after scientific evidence was thrown at them. “My grandfather smoked and he died of cancer” was a statement the fat cats at Phillip Morris giggled at; “Here, you sods, are 1001 peer-reviewed scientific papers that prove smoking causes cancer” made them leap to safety and cower behind a lamppost. Anecdotes make you emotional, scientific facts make your mind up.

    To be sure, away from the customary “My wife was out walking with a friend, and their eyes became teary and their throats began to close,” Harris does back his story up by providing as many as 26 citations. Here’s the breakdown:

    1 on Delhi’s monkey menace

    1 on Delhi’s cattle stealers

    1 on Delhi’s stray dogs

    2 on Smog in China

    1 on Kejriwal seeking treatment

    2 on Bio-data of scientists

    1 on Pollution in Yamuna

    12 on Air pollution causing respiratory diseases in general

    1 on PM2.5 causing respiratory and other diseases in general

    1 on Superbugs

    1 on Poor sanitation in India

    1 on WHO PM2.5 and PM10 worldwide study (including Delhi)

    1 on Effect of Delhi’s air-pollution on children’s health

    There we have it. For an article that talks in excruciating detail of the cataclysmic effect Delhi’s air has had on the health of the author’s child – and the ethical dilemma faced by expats, whether they should risk raising their loved ones in this godforsaken metropolis – for all those morbid adjectives and gut-wrenching, bile-inducing descriptions, Harris quotes but a single scientific study.

    “Delhi, we discovered,” he writes, “is quietly suffering from a dire pediatric respiratory crisis, with a recent study showing that nearly half of the city’s 4.4 million schoolchildren have irreversible lung damage from the poisonous air.”

    Single it may be, a citation is still a citation. Except that here it is in the form of an article written in The Indian Express, and worse, the study it quotes is born out of data that was collected between 2002 and 2005. Yes, more than 10 years ago.

    Discounting the fact that Harris insists on calling it “a recent study”; discounting also the fact that The Indian Express blunders with their subheading“Just under half of the 44 lakh schoolchildren studied…” it says, while in reality only 11,628 schoolchildren were studied and the results of the survey extrapolated – the cited report is as comprehensive as one can get.

    The study points to the harmful effect Delhi’s air had on the health of 11,628 schoolchildren between 2002-2005: “In lung tests conducted on 5,718 students, 43.5% suffered from “poor or restrictive lungs”; about 15% of the children surveyed complained of frequent eye irritation, 27.4% of frequent headache, 11.2% of nausea, 7.2% of palpitation and 12.9% of fatigue.”

    But it is more nuanced than that. The study surveyed children from 36 schools, six of which were situated on Delhi’s main roads that are notoriously choked with traffic all through the day, with one, Lakshmi Public School – that presented one-tenth of the children surveyed – located near one of Delhi’s biggest bottle-necks – Vikas Marg intersection. It is also worth noting that in 2002, Delhi’s fleet of 6,000 rickety diesel buses had not yet been phased out despite Supreme Court orders, nor had most of the 25,000 odd auto rickshaws converted to compressed natural gas, or CNG.

    In the age group of six to eight – the same as Harris’ son – the prevalence of current asthma in Delhi’s children was found to be marginally higher: 2.5 per cent compared to two per cent in the control group. Prevalence of current asthma shot up in children belonging to large-sized families and families with poor socioeconomic background (5.1 per cent for a family size greater than six).

    The study found a strong positive association between PM10 and eye irritation, but not with asthma or headache. (PM10, or Particulate Matter of size 10 microns, and PM2.5, or Particulate Matter with size equal to or less than 2.5 microns, are the two major determinants of air pollution. It is now an accepted scientific fact that prevalence of PM2.5 – measured in µg/m3 – is more dangerous than PM10 as it settles deep inside the lungs).

    Twenty-seven per cent of Delhi’s children studied were exposed to cigarette smoke at home (Control 28 per cent) and, crucially, the study found that a child’s BMI, or Body Mass Index, has a profound influence on his lung function.

    The study concluded:

    More respiratory symptoms were found in children from low socioeconomic status, i.e. poor sanitation, low birth weight, vitamin A and zinc deficiency, and poverty.

    Underweight children from low SES of this study had greater prevalence of lung function deficits than that of children with normal weight, suggesting a role of nutrition on lung function.

    Respiratory and associated symptoms were most prevalent in children from low socioeconomic status, and least in children from families with high socio-economic background.

    Not exactly the conclusions that should worry Harris who, as a primer to his article, commented, rather gaudily it must be said: “Should rich/foreigners raise children in Delhi? Maybe not.”



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    Be that as it may, the 10 year-old study is a landmark – it is the most extensive and thorough study ever carried out on the correlation of Delhi’s air-pollution with the health of its children. The only other major study of this nature one can think of – and one which is truly recent – is the 2015 study conducted by the HEAL Foundation, a non-government organisation. The researchers surveyed 2,000 schoolchildren nationwide, and their extrapolated conclusions: Nearly half of Delhi’s children suffer severe lung problems due to air pollution, were splashed across all newspapers and news channels on May 5, 2015. “Around 35 per cent of school-going children in India suffer from poor lung health with Delhi topping the chart,” said NDTV .

    What NDTV and others failed to report was that the HEAL Foundation survey was not only not a peer-reviewed study published in a scientific journal but, more worryingly, it was paid for by the global Air-purifier company Blueair, that launched in India two weeks after the study was published.

    NDTV, that incidentally is running a Clean Air, My Right campaign, has not brought to the attention of its readers and viewers this startling fact.

    Returning to Harris’ magnum opus, the only other study he cites concerning Delhi’s air quality or lack thereof, is a 2014 World Health Organisation study, that tabulates the prevalence of Suspended Particulate Matter PM10 and PM2.5 in 1,600 cities across the world during the period 2008-2013.

    The WHO report mentions Delhi as having a mean PM10 value of 286 µg/m3 for the year 2010, and a mean PM2.5 value of 153 µg/m3 for the year 2013. Delhi’s air came out as one of the most polluted among all the cities surveyed. At the time this study was published, the government-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research disputed the WHO findings, stating that PM values changed with seasons and became comparatively better than the values given for Beijing (121 and 56 for PM10and PM2.5 respectively).

    Interestingly, the PM2.5 value for Doha, Qatar – that has the highest GDP per capita (PPP) among all the nations of the world – is 93 µg/m3 (year 2012). Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE had a PM10 value of 170 µg/m3. It should also be noted that in the 10 year-old study cited by Harris, and discussed in detail above, the 2002-2005 mean PM10 value for Delhi’s traffic intersection points was 250 µg/m3.

    The PM10 and PM2.5 values for Delhi this morning (June 3, 2015) are 120 and 71 µg/m3 respectively, less than half of WHO’s figures.

    What’s going on? Has Delhi’s air turned healthier than what it was in 2010? Highly doubtful, considering the increase in vehicular traffic, the rampant burning of dry leaves despite High Court guidelines, and the unbearable menace of street sweeping in the mornings. The PM2.5 range includes atmospheric, construction, cement, and settling dust, and dust it is that envelops millions of Delhi office goers and schoolchildren in the morning. Ravinder Raj, an 80 year-old man has filed repeated public interest litigations to get the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to switch to sweeping the streets at night but to no avail. Just this simple solution, he says, can reduce the instances of respiratory diseases by 90 per cent.

    If Delhi is bad, it has company. “Half of the world’s urban population,” says the WHO study, “lives in cities that exceed by 2.5 times or more the recommended levels of fine particulate matter set out by the WHO Air Quality Guidelines and only around 12 per cent of the total urban population lives in cities where the air quality complies with WHO levels.”

    So, should Harris’ piece be ignored? Hardly. We as a nation collect everything else except data. The last National Family Health Survey – the single-most important survey to judge our nation’s health, and one on the back of which hundreds of policies are drafted – the last NFHS was conducted in 2005, 10 years ago. Worsening air pollution is a reality, and what the departing Harris has done is given us a wake-up call. It is astonishing, and frankly unacceptable, that there exists no recent comprehensive and peer-reviewed scientific study on the effect of Delhi’s air pollution on its inhabitants, particularly the most vulnerable group, children.

    The Ministry of Environment’s website is silent on this. How can things improve if policy-makers have no up-to-date scientific study to base their decisions on, and are forced to rely on 10 year-old reports? Policy-making is not op-ed writing.

    Harris moves to Washington this week along with his family, and if he believes the WHO findings his next important posting best not be in the world’s richest country, Qatar. But his last dispatch from Delhi might just be his most important, its PM2.5 value notwithstanding.
     
  8. Echo_419

    Echo_419 ELITE MEMBER

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    We know you like American presence in your country
     
  9. nForce

    nForce ELITE MEMBER

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    And then you tell everybody that you are not racist ?
     
  10. Black Alloy

    Black Alloy FULL MEMBER

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    How is using the term Hindus racist? Wow I didn't know that I would be called racist for using that term.
     
  11. nForce

    nForce ELITE MEMBER

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    Playing with words, are we ? How does a religious bigot sound to you ? Happy with that ?
     
  12. bhola singh

    bhola singh BANNED

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    Where did India as a country claim that??

    Stop going to the local madarsa and get an education asap!!!
     
  13. 21stCentury

    21stCentury FULL MEMBER

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    This is true. India is really one big giant slum. I actually think India's population already exceeds that of China's by several hundreds of million. There are simply too many poor homeless-looking people in India, perhaps close to a billion of them, all dalit, the lowest level humans in the caste system of democracy India. India still very much resemble a 3rd world country due the inferior and serious lack of proper infrastructure, overwhelming amount of illiterate and poor, lack of proper sanitation and sewage systems, and backwards national tribal culture.

    There is no check and balance on India's massive population, where an indian couple can multiply very quickly, producing unlimited offsprings; 5 or 10, is okay and normal. Whereas in China, having children is limited to 1 or 2 per couple with exceptions. At the rate that indians have been multiplying without any restrictions to population control for the past few decades, there is no doubt that India holds the largest population in the world. With that many people and so little resources to go around, you will end up with a handful of poor. Imagine a farmhouse with livestock all packed into one small enclosure. It gets very crowded and very dirty, similar to how India is today.
     
  14. Sneaker

    Sneaker FULL MEMBER

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    Air filters/face masks can prevent pollutants getting inside one's body but they can't do the same to shrapnels from a bomb, suicide or otherwise...
     
  15. Donatello

    Donatello PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    More people die of rape, murder and pollution in Delhi everyday than in Islamabad....

    Just sayin....