Delhi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 400 units in October 2021, which is considered severe as per the scale developed by the Central Pollution Control Board. It is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Over the past few years, the discussion has centred on the health issues of its 30 million residents. Medical experts are clear: poor air quality leads to a number of respiratory problems, especially among the most vulnerable – children and the elderly. Dust particles from stubble burning in the farmlands of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana flow towards Delhi with a push from the North-western winds. This report by Vox explains the problem in detail and raises questions on the environmental importance of efficient agricultural practices. This continued issue highlights a critical lack of coordination between the state-level and central governments which is directly impacting the quality of life for Delhi residents.
The Supreme Court of India had to step in to force the governments to chart a long-term plan to reduce the AQI. As a result, the Central Government has been ordered to devise an emergency plan in consultation with the Delhi and neighbouring states’ governments. The court heard the matter of Delhi’s pollution for the third time in 2021 alone and stated that ad hoc measures will not work to curb this problem. The court was responding to a petition filed by an 18-year-old environmental activist, Aditya Dubey who is seeking judicial intervention for measures to control worsening air quality in the city.
In response, the Delhi State Government introduced a 5 point plan to curb air pollution. The plan identified four key sources of air pollution and proposed solutions such as an anti-dust campaign, water sprinkling across areas with high dust emission, a ban on diesel generator sets, stopping open-burning of waste at landfills and spraying the bio-decomposer solution on 4000 acres of farmland within Delhi. It also proposed measures under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), such as banning coal furnaces, a key contributor to the city’s air pollution. Six of eleven coal powered plants in a 300 kilometres radius of Delhi have been temporarily shut and schools have been on a week-long leave as a part of the response.
While these measures demonstrate an acknowledgement and an improvement in the response of the state government, they are not sufficient to address the critical issue which transcends state borders. The Delhi government has limited jurisdiction and is bound by geographical boundaries. The Central government must immediately intervene and, working with Delhi and surrounding state governments, generate a comprehensive and coherent emergency plan. Air pollution is an annual crisis for the city, making national and international headlines and impacting the health of an estimated 30 million people in the city. As the Supreme Court remarked, “This is the national capital. Look at the signal we are sending to the world”. It’s time for the Government of India to show leadership on reducing air pollution to protect the residents of Delhi and set an example for the rest of the country.
Photo Credit: Sajjad Hussain / AFP / Getty
Ethiopia Needs Long Term Healing, Not Just a Ceasefire
We are in Trans Awareness Week from the 13th to 19th November. This week leads up to Trans Remembrance Day on 20th, which memorialises transgender people who lost their lives due to transphobic violence. Although the awareness and visibility of the trans community is increasing, this is not enough – as violence against trans people is spiralling, and so liberation, solidarity and action is much needed.
The visibility of trans people in the media, the workplace, social and political life is growing. This exposes the cis-normative assumptions inherent in the structue of society. As these assumptions are challenged, a regressive backlash against trans people has transpired in every corner of society from politicians attacking the legal protections and rights, to best-selling fiction writers like JK Rowling and TERF academics framing the intellectual environment. The go-to strategy for these conservative forces is creating a moral panic around the issue to counter the liberation and acquisition of rights. Nonetheless, this regressive backlash is not unique. Rather, many movements of equality and liberation are receiving backlash from the parts of society feeling threatened by the “radical” changes in power relations. As Shon Faye puts it: “The demands for true trans liberation echoes and overlaps with the demands of workers, socialists, feminists, anti-racists and queer people. They are radical demands, in that they go to the root of what our society is and what it could be.”
The presentation of the issue in media matters as it could reinforce this backlash by encouraging prejudices and abuse towards people, especially minority groups. The UK mainstream media is particularly problematic when it comes to the representation of trans people. Research by Mermaids UK states that transgender people are receiving greater news coverage but mostly in an ill-informed and misleading way such as portraying them as being too aggressive or having a propensity to be involved in conflicts. There are also growing numbers of televised debates in TV shows like Good Morning Britain mocking trans identities and questioning their existence. This media climate has severe consequences for trans people as violence and hate speech is on the rise. It is particularly severe with respect to trans people of colour.
A recent article published by the BBC is one example of this wider trend. This article makes a case that cis-lesbians are being pressured into sex by some trans women and these are not isolated incidents. The article is transphobic because it takes either unrelated or isolated incidents and frames them as a general behaviour of trans women. People of all genders could commit sexual assault, yet targeting a specific group of people without sufficient data is a discriminatory act. If there would be a claim that heterosexual women are coerced into sex by some lesbian women, it would be easier to see the homophobic tendency. It is more difficult to see the transphobic tendency since the awareness about transphobia is only recently getting more attention. We should be on the lookout for indirect transphobic discourse because transphobia is not just outright hatred. It is also stereotyping or ‘debating’ the basic rights of trans people.
I would like to finish with a quote again by Shon Faye: “It is only through solidarity, compassion and radical reimagining that we can build a more just and joyful world for all of us.”
Love and solidarity to all trans+, non-binary, gender-nonconforming people and allies.
image source: wikicommons
Since the 3rd of November 2021 at 9.22 am women in France have been working for free. This year, the pay gap between women and men is estimated to be around 16.5% and has worsened since 2020. Women are also in more precarious jobs since they are 83% of the part-timers. Generally in the OECD, the average pay gap is 15%. In the UK eight companies out of ten pay women less than men.
Additionally, a report by PWC shows the pandemic has also impacted women greatly since women have been losing their jobs faster than men. These inequalities are also obviously intersectional as this gap is worse for people and women of colour. For instance, NHS data reveals that black men are paid 84p for every £1 earned by their white male counterparts. Women of colour are also less likely than white women to receive a higher education certificate, which means that from the start they are disadvantaged when it comes to equal opportunity and higher salaries.
This concept of equal opportunity is better understood with the idea of the glass-ceiling, a term coined by Marilyn Loden in 1978 which plays a significant part in society today, as women are far from receiving salaries and positions equal to their male counterparts. Indeed, it is not only the pay gaps that matter, but the opportunities women have and how women perceive themselves in the working environment. It is not only the patriarchal system that slows us from accessing equal pay, but also psychological barriers that restrain us from seeing ourselves at the top.
This notion is very much intertwined with a problem of representation in pop culture among other things. Women are less often in positions of power and are too often sexualised. For instance, in over 1300 movies in 2019 women and girls represented only 34% of the speaking characters. In the top 100 films, 68% of female characters were white and 94% of these films had no female-identified LGBTQ characters.
We are also used to identifying with male characters in movies and series because women are still very much invisibilised* in mainstream movies and series. I recently came across the work of Jennifer Padjemi, a French journalist who explains the difference between the visibility (visibilité) and representation concept in pop culture. She sees a difference in how movies and series often make minorities visible but less often represent them in detail by giving them a back story and a real voice. I think this process of increasing the representation of people of colour and women in pop culture is needed in today’s world. We can give as much data as we want on how women and minority groups get paid less than white cis-het men but if we do not show that everyone can do the same job, how are we even supposed to understand that we can do it?
*This word is here to understand the notion of visibility/invisibility, the notion was coined by J.Padjemi, even though it is not a proper English word it is important to use it to understand her argument.