KumKum Dasgupta

KumKum Dasgupta

KumKum Dasgupta is with the opinion section of Hindustan Times. She writes on education, environment, gender, urbanisation and civil society.

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Articles by KumKum Dasgupta
Pollutants emitted by the incomplete combustion of solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting are associated with serious health risks(SHUTTERSTOCK)
Pollutants emitted by the incomplete combustion of solid fuels or kerosene for cooking, heating and lighting are associated with serious health risks(SHUTTERSTOCK)

Indoor air pollution: Don’t brush it aside

PUBLISHED ON DEC 26, 2020 07:43 PM IST
In the discussions on air pollution, IAP often loses out to outdoor pollution. But as the extent of the challenge shows, IAP is an equally big problem. Let’s not brush it under the carpet.
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Look back to plan for the future. Heritage towns such as Jaisalmer are great examples of how built-up areas can be cooler and improve microclimate(Shutterstock)
Look back to plan for the future. Heritage towns such as Jaisalmer are great examples of how built-up areas can be cooler and improve microclimate(Shutterstock)

Broaden the idea of a smart city in India | Opinion

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 04, 2020 07:44 AM IST
To tackle the climate crisis and make cities liveable, invest in energy-efficient buildings and microclimate
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The government estimates that there are 26-37 million families in urban India that live in informal housing, and they largely belong to the poorer sections.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
The government estimates that there are 26-37 million families in urban India that live in informal housing, and they largely belong to the poorer sections.(Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

India needs to rethink housing for the poor | Opinion

UPDATED ON JUL 12, 2020 01:41 PM IST
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed an ugly reality: Migrant labourers live in slums and informal/unauthorised colonies that are congested, lack basic sanitation and water services, ventilation and green spaces. As a result, they are at a far greater risk of contracting the virus, along with other illnesses.
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Students wash their hands before attending a class at a governement-run high school, Secunderabad, March 4, 2020(AFP)
Students wash their hands before attending a class at a governement-run high school, Secunderabad, March 4, 2020(AFP)

Without clean water, fighting diseases is a pipe dream

UPDATED ON MAR 22, 2020 08:54 AM IST
As the number of coronavirus cases detected in India rises, health professionals have suggested frequent hand-washing as a precautionary measure. But getting people to do this may not be easy as many households across the country do not have adequate hand-washing facilities, according to the National Family Health Survey (2015-16).
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Residents queue up for water, Shimla, May, 2018(Deepak Sansta/Hindustan Times)
Residents queue up for water, Shimla, May, 2018(Deepak Sansta/Hindustan Times)

Why Himalayan towns and cities are running dry

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON MAR 21, 2020 04:29 PM IST
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In India, in-migration of any kind is not always looked at favourably by many state governments, and political parties find it a handy tool to foment tension between locals and migrants(Hindustan Times)
In India, in-migration of any kind is not always looked at favourably by many state governments, and political parties find it a handy tool to foment tension between locals and migrants(Hindustan Times)

Why climate migration doesn’t have to be crisis | Opinion

UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2020 05:11 PM IST
In-migration states must take an anticipatory approach to include migrants in growth and development strategies
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Linking sustainability with quality rather than pricing can create opportunities for upcoming housing projects, especially since India’s socio-economic milieu warrants different perceptions of affordability. The underlying idea is that people should be able to maintain comfortable living standards within affordable sustainable housing.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)
Linking sustainability with quality rather than pricing can create opportunities for upcoming housing projects, especially since India’s socio-economic milieu warrants different perceptions of affordability. The underlying idea is that people should be able to maintain comfortable living standards within affordable sustainable housing.(Pratik Chorge/HT Photo)

‘Affordable housing can be green too’

UPDATED ON FEB 25, 2020 01:57 PM IST
Linking sustainability with quality rather than pricing can create opportunities for upcoming housing projects, especially since India’s socio-economic milieu warrants different perceptions of affordability.
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An ecosystem health assessment of wetlands under the 100 days programme of the Government of India indicated that one in every four wetlands had low to very low ecosystem health and faced high to very high threat. As wetlands degrade, so does their ability to make societies water, food and climate secure, and conserve the diversity of life.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
An ecosystem health assessment of wetlands under the 100 days programme of the Government of India indicated that one in every four wetlands had low to very low ecosystem health and faced high to very high threat. As wetlands degrade, so does their ability to make societies water, food and climate secure, and conserve the diversity of life.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

‘Destruction of wetlands will lead to water, food and climate insecurity’

UPDATED ON FEB 02, 2020 03:30 PM IST
India has witnessed a rapid degradation of its wetlands. In the last three decades alone, nearly one-third of natural wetlands have been lost to urbanisation, agriculture expansion and pollution.
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The massive protests against the CAA have brought the Constitution into the public discourse. A demonstrator stands next to a hoarding of the Preamble to the Constitution in Delhi.(REUTERS)
The massive protests against the CAA have brought the Constitution into the public discourse. A demonstrator stands next to a hoarding of the Preamble to the Constitution in Delhi.(REUTERS)

Constitution @ 70: A look at how citizens are reanimating its progressive ideals

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 24, 2020 06:16 PM IST
As the Constitution completes 70 years, its stirring Preamble continues to inspire Indian citizens
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People wait for their turn to fill empty containers, June 12, 2019(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
People wait for their turn to fill empty containers, June 12, 2019(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

Water management: Not just the government’s job

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 05, 2020 07:45 PM IST
The decision to focus on building community-managed decentralised water supply systems in rural areas is a welcome move
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Dimbeswar Das is a forest officer at the Kaziranga National Park, Assam. The 53-year-old is the 2019 Earth Hero Award from the Royal Bank of Scotland.(RBS)
Dimbeswar Das is a forest officer at the Kaziranga National Park, Assam. The 53-year-old is the 2019 Earth Hero Award from the Royal Bank of Scotland.(RBS)

India’s forest guards, the unsung climate warriors | Analysis

UPDATED ON DEC 07, 2019 08:13 PM IST
To appreciate the work of the guards, one needs to understand the why forests are important. A report by the ministry of environment says India’s forests absorb 11.25% of greenhouse gases, which are responsible for the climate crisis.
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Schoolchildren hold placards as they participate in a protest against the inaction to curb global warming and climate change, Connaught Place, New Delhi, March 15, 2019(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
Schoolchildren hold placards as they participate in a protest against the inaction to curb global warming and climate change, Connaught Place, New Delhi, March 15, 2019(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

Indian states and cities don’t have adequate funds to tackle climate crisis

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 26, 2019 01:45 PM IST
Cities in India are the largest consumers of resources, including energy and water. They are also large generators of waste. As climate change impacts are now more pronounced through increased droughts and floods, cities are now facing a visible brunt of it. Moving to renewable sources of electricity reduces their reliance on fossil fuels — is something now that is now well-embedded in the Indian electricity sector.
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School children hold placards as they participate in a protest against the inaction to curb global warming and climate change, Connaught Place, New Delhi, March 15, 2019(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)
School children hold placards as they participate in a protest against the inaction to curb global warming and climate change, Connaught Place, New Delhi, March 15, 2019(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

Italy will have climate education in schools. India must follow suit

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 13, 2019 12:04 PM IST
Despite its impact on every facet of our lives, from social to economic, the issue is still languishing on the margins of our lives. The general public is still not talking enough about what we can do at a personal level to tackle the climate’s challenges
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A view of a flooded area in Kochi, October 31, 2019. A study by Climate Central, a US-based climate think tank, said that if spiralling emissions are not brought under control, parts of Mumbai, Surat, Chennai, and Kolkata, will be either underwater or ravaged by recurring floods by 2050.(PTI)
A view of a flooded area in Kochi, October 31, 2019. A study by Climate Central, a US-based climate think tank, said that if spiralling emissions are not brought under control, parts of Mumbai, Surat, Chennai, and Kolkata, will be either underwater or ravaged by recurring floods by 2050.(PTI)

To build urban resilience, we must empower the city | Analysis

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON NOV 06, 2019 08:35 PM IST
India’s city governments are weak, and departments work in silos. To tackle climate change, this needs to change
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Local fishermen row their boat in Yamuna, Noida, October 16, 2019(Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)
Local fishermen row their boat in Yamuna, Noida, October 16, 2019(Virendra Singh Gosain/HT PHOTO)

‘To clean rivers, Indian must learn to reduce waste’

PUBLISHED ON NOV 04, 2019 04:49 PM IST
The University of Chicago’s Water-to-Cloud (W2S) system provides for high-resolution spatial and temporal monitoring of rivers to gain insights that may be missed with the traditional approach.
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Lakshmi - a Chitera painting. In this genre, there is a profusion of figures of gods, goddesses, animals, birds, flowers and celestial bodies.(Photo courtesy: IGNCA)
Lakshmi - a Chitera painting. In this genre, there is a profusion of figures of gods, goddesses, animals, birds, flowers and celestial bodies.(Photo courtesy: IGNCA)

Diwali’s visual archive - lights on the canvas

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON OCT 25, 2019 05:43 PM IST
Indians have celebrated Diwali with lights, but also with art of all kinds (from folk art to miniatures), reflecting the different forms the festival takes in the country
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Developing foundational skills is a complex issue as there are a large number of factors that impact a child’s ability to learn: Gender, race, place of birth, or the social and economic condition of their family – all of these lead to wide disparity in children’s capabilities and levels of exposure.(HT PHOTO)
Developing foundational skills is a complex issue as there are a large number of factors that impact a child’s ability to learn: Gender, race, place of birth, or the social and economic condition of their family – all of these lead to wide disparity in children’s capabilities and levels of exposure.(HT PHOTO)

India’s students have poor learning levels. Can foundational education help them?

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 13, 2019 06:40 PM IST
To focus on foundational learning, the draft National Education Policy proposes new curricular and pedagogical structure, with 5+3+3+4 design, covering the children three-18 years. Under this, pre-primary and grades 1-2 is considered as foundational stage; grades 3-5 as preparatory stage; grades 6-8 as middle stage and grades 9-12 as secondary stage.
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Instead of a no-ban on SUPs, the least the Centre could have done was ban six SUPs — plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws, and certain types of sachets — and then others in a phased manner.(Getty Images)
Instead of a no-ban on SUPs, the least the Centre could have done was ban six SUPs — plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws, and certain types of sachets — and then others in a phased manner.(Getty Images)

Plastic will choke India in the long run. Tackle it | Analysis

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 05, 2019 04:54 PM IST
What is most troubling is not the plastic challenge in cities because they would still have the first access to information, technology, funds, and expertise to tackle the problem. The real challenge lies in smaller towns and kasbahs
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Women hold placards with portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a cleanliness drive, October 1, 2015. Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission, to modernise sanitation within five years in 2014.(REUTERS)
Women hold placards with portraits of Mahatma Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a cleanliness drive, October 1, 2015. Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission, to modernise sanitation within five years in 2014.(REUTERS)

Five years of Swachh Bharat: India still needs a policy that promotes toilet use

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 03, 2019 10:24 AM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 2 said rural India has declared itself defecation free. In the past four years, India has built 100 million toilets in about 0.6 million villages, and another 6.3 million in its cities. The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) is now in its second phase, and there will be a new set of challenges that it needs to tackle for its long-term sustainability.
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Tara Bhattacharjee at her residence in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT)
Tara Bhattacharjee at her residence in New Delhi.(Amal KS/HT)

‘I kept feeling that Bapu would wake up any minute’: Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON OCT 01, 2020 05:44 PM IST
Mahatma Gandhi 150th Birth Anniversary: Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, the eldest of four children of Devadas and Lakshmi Rajagopalachari (the daughter of C Rajagopalachari), spoke about her father’s stint in Hindustan Times, her grandparents, and the changing face of Delhi.
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It was clear from the beginning of the SDG journey that the world will not reach the ambitious goals without the active participation of the private sector because national governments don’t have the wherewithal to reach the goals on their own.(SHUTTERSTOCK)
It was clear from the beginning of the SDG journey that the world will not reach the ambitious goals without the active participation of the private sector because national governments don’t have the wherewithal to reach the goals on their own.(SHUTTERSTOCK)

Private sector should take the lead in investing in SDGs

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON OCT 01, 2019 04:27 PM IST
Companies need to look at their SDG strategy because there has been an increase in regulatory pressure, push from investors and banks, and media to align their polices with the global goals
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The Amazon fire provides an opportunity to review the status of India’s rainforests, which are restricted to the Western Ghats, and the Northeastern Himalayas(Bloomberg)
The Amazon fire provides an opportunity to review the status of India’s rainforests, which are restricted to the Western Ghats, and the Northeastern Himalayas(Bloomberg)

To save India’s rainforests, we must first value them

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON AUG 30, 2019 09:55 AM IST
The ‘development-at-any-cost’ model doesn’t work. There is a growing urgency to protect this ecological heritage.
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Comfort food: When you’re hungry for nostalgia

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON AUG 24, 2019 07:23 PM IST
There is a strong link between scents of food and emotional memory. And so, our learning history predisposes us to enjoy certain food that improves the mood and produces feelings of social connectedness, say experts.
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A paper Urbanisation and socio-ecological challenges in high mountain towns: Insights from Leh (Ladakh) by Juliane Dame et al of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment, Heidelberg University, Germany, gives a detailed assessment of the uncontrolled urbanisation of Leh. According to the study, between 1969 and 2003, the number of new buildings constructed was 9,400. The pace has gathered so much that the town added the same number between 2003 and 2017.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
A paper Urbanisation and socio-ecological challenges in high mountain towns: Insights from Leh (Ladakh) by Juliane Dame et al of the Heidelberg Center for the Environment, Heidelberg University, Germany, gives a detailed assessment of the uncontrolled urbanisation of Leh. According to the study, between 1969 and 2003, the number of new buildings constructed was 9,400. The pace has gathered so much that the town added the same number between 2003 and 2017.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Leh must not become another Shimla

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON AUG 17, 2019 08:31 PM IST
The people of the brand new Union Territory are happy. But they should be apprehensive too. The Indian tourist army may ravage the ecologically fragile region
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With the BJP making deep inroads into West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is keen to quickly douse the flames of discontent over corruption(Ajay Aggarwal / Hindustan Times)
With the BJP making deep inroads into West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is keen to quickly douse the flames of discontent over corruption(Ajay Aggarwal / Hindustan Times)

The Bengal ‘cut money’ issue goes beyond politics

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON JUL 18, 2019 08:14 AM IST
India’s welfare delivery system has improved. But, as the corruption controversy in Bengal shows, it’s not foolproof.
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While the impulse of politicians is understandable, local reservation in the private sector may not be the ideal solution to tackle the unemployment crisis; in fact, it can deter the corporate sector from investing in states that come up with such a rule.(SHUTTERSTOCK)
While the impulse of politicians is understandable, local reservation in the private sector may not be the ideal solution to tackle the unemployment crisis; in fact, it can deter the corporate sector from investing in states that come up with such a rule.(SHUTTERSTOCK)

Why local quota in private sector is not a good idea

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 17, 2019 04:13 PM IST
A better way to engage with the private sector would be to make the youth of a state employable with proper investments in education, health and skill development
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The World Health Organization recently recognised occupational burnout as a medical condition.(Shutterstock Image)
The World Health Organization recently recognised occupational burnout as a medical condition.(Shutterstock Image)

Is that burnout or are you just tired?

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUL 13, 2019 11:32 AM IST
In a report released in June, the World Health Organization defined burnout as a chronic process of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy due to an imbalance between job demands and the resources available to meet them
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Puppy love(Photo: Shutterstock)
Puppy love(Photo: Shutterstock)

Friends with benefits

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON JUN 21, 2019 06:31 PM IST
Dogs are good for our well-being. For doubters, here’s scientific evidence
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People wait for their turn to fill their containers, Sanjay Colony, Okhla Phase II, New Delhi, June 12(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
People wait for their turn to fill their containers, Sanjay Colony, Okhla Phase II, New Delhi, June 12(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)

The political response to India’s water emergency is tepid

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUN 14, 2019 08:17 PM IST
This water emergency, however, is not just about the lack of availability of the natural resource. It is much more severe than that: Our rivers are polluted, traditional water harvesting systems are gone, catchments are deforested, groundwater water levels are depleting and ponds and lakes are disappearing at an alarming pace.
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On June 3, an expert panel submitted the draft New Education Policy (NEP) to the human resource development (HRD) ministry. The draft required students from non-Hindi states to study Hindi and English apart from the regional languages. This move led to a controversy, with several political parties from the south and Maharashtra protesting the move.(HT FILE PHOTO)
On June 3, an expert panel submitted the draft New Education Policy (NEP) to the human resource development (HRD) ministry. The draft required students from non-Hindi states to study Hindi and English apart from the regional languages. This move led to a controversy, with several political parties from the south and Maharashtra protesting the move.(HT FILE PHOTO)

The three-language formula is a bad idea

By KumKum Dasgupta | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUN 03, 2019 05:12 PM IST
This will be a very heavy cognitive burden on a young child of five to seven years as each of the Indian languages has a very large number of visual units (aksharas) between 400 and 700, to be mastered in two to three years’ time. This formulation is developmentally inappropriate for young children and cannot be allowed to form part of the final policy.
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