Why would metropolises as disparate as Delhi, Dhaka, N’Djamena, Dushanbe and Muscat be bunched together in any listing, much less a catalogue of calamity? The reason has all to do with the piece of Earth — and the air therein — that these urban centres live and breathe in.
The recently released World Air Quality Report 2021 places Delhi at the top of the heap, for a fourth successive year, in a collection of the world’s most polluted capitals. The bad news for India does not stop there: 63 of the 100 most polluted cities globally are in the country, and no Indian city meets the World Health Organization’s air quality standards.
Air pollution may not be a direct consequence of climate change but the two are joined at the hip. The bigger global peril is, of course, climate change itself, the overarching issue in this edition of Horizons and the subject matter of our cover story. The protagonist here is the India Climate Collaborative (ICC), a Tata Trusts-supported organisation that is on a mission to bring together a variety of stakeholders to help our country cope better with the many challenges posed by climate change.
India is a frontline nation when it comes to the damage climate change is inflicting — and will continue inflicting — on the land, its people and its communities. Countering the menace will necessarily require a cohesive and unified approach. Creating, enabling and sustaining such an approach is at the heart of the ICC endeavour.
Our feature stories offer a blend of narratives: a teacher education programme that is out of the ordinary; an aftercare initiative providing young adults leaving childcare centres with a lifeline and life skills; the work that the North East Initiative Development Agency is doing to keep its community-centric projects running through difficult times; an attempt to bring the children of Maharashtra’s migrant sugarcane workers back to school; and a heart-warming report on children with congenital heart disease in Chhattisgarh getting desperately needed treatment and care.
We have two interesting personalities speaking to us this time — Shalini Bharat, director and vice chancellor of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, and Arjan de Wagt, chief of nutrition with Unicef India. Also on the menu is an article by HSD Srinivas and Satish Khalikar, both from the Tata Trusts, about how technology is changing India’s healthcare services; and the pioneering Shanta Sinha on the importance of bringing children from poor families back to school to minimise child labour.
And then there are watermelons and mangoes, to round off what we hope will be a fruitful and thought-provoking edition. Cheers!Christabelle Noronha
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