India Ink Vol. 1: Vanishing villages, smart cities, and clairvoyant tweets

This is the first in a new series highlighting the week’s best stories on life in India from around the web: agriculture, energy, environment, entrepreneurship, health, housing, and water. India Ink will be published every Friday.

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Best of the best

Our favorite read of the week:

P. Sainath is perhaps India’s greatest documentarian of rural life, but he began as an ordinary Mumbai journalist. In Jason Overdorf’s riveting profile in The Atlantic, Sainath says, “…I realized that conventional journalism is about the service of power.” And the rest is history–a history that Sainath is trying to capture in photos, videos, and stories before it vanishes.



“A farmer’s life crisis” from Business Standard. Charts and maps demonstrate just how tough it is to make ends meet as a farmer in India, and why more and more are quitting cultivation to become laborers.



“India must harness clean energy to combat climate change, says Modi” from the Economic Times. PM Narendra Modi has been on a world tour of late, visiting France, Germany, and now Canada, where he made the case that India needs increased access to nuclear energy in order to combat climate change. Canada will supply India with Uranium under a new agreement.



“Can we become creators?” from YourStory. ‘Most of the time, when we ask about career aspirations, the response is, “I want to work for XYZ company.” Rarely does anybody say, “I want to create XYZ Company.”’ India has long been a go-to country for Western entrepreneurs seeking talent, especially in IT and tech. But in order to create enough jobs for its enormous youth population, it needs more entrepreneurs of its own.



“How to read India’s new colour-coded Air Index” from the Hindu. This is not only a primer on India’s new Air Quality Index, but a neat assessment of its utility (at least, so far): “We don’t yet know what to do with the AQI, except look it at and panic.”



“Tweets can predict emergency room traffic” from ZNews. Sudha Ram of the University of Arizona is publishing research that says people who overshare about their health on Twitter can actually help hospitals predict their emergency room demands. Maybe that’s what Larry King was thinking?


Should India be building new “Smart Cities,” working to update the infrastructure of its existing cities, or both? The Gazette Review and City Fix looked at that question this week, on the heels of the CONNECTKaro Conference in New Delhi.



“MIT team makes clean water from the sun” from the Boston Globe. The Tata Center’s Amos Winter and Natasha Wright are in sparkling form in today’s Boston Globe, fresh from competing in USAID’s competition to create a desalination system for deployment in the developing world. We expect to hear the results of the competition next week!