The Union government’s direct cash transfer scheme linked to the Unique Identification (UID) number was launched with much fanfare in January with pilots in five districts of Rajasthan. The government believes this initiative is a game changer, which will successfully plug leakages in delivering entitlements to the poor and pluck out fake beneficiaries.

On 15 July, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi hosted a group of professionals working on rural housing in diverse geographies of the country. The agenda for the meeting, which was co-hosted by several partners, was to present a portal built for the rural housing sector ( and to get feedback before the portal goes live in a month.

An angry protest is gathering momentum in Mithi Virdi, a picturesque village in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district. Four villages have united forces to oppose a nuclear plant coming up in their vicinity. Mithi Virdi is likely to become as famous as Jaitapur and Kudankulam. In 2008, Mithi Virdi was placed on India’s nuclear map when the Indo-US deal was signed. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) endorsed a Memoradum of Understanding (MoU) with Westinghouse, a nuclear major in Pennsylvania, to build a power plant on land acquired from four villages here. External Affairs S.M.

Even from the outside, the IRRAD building gives you the feeling of tranquillity. Its dull reddish-brown façade looks like it has yachts sailing across it, except they are all upside down. Later I would find out that the sails of these ‘yachts’ are actually triangular curtains, specially designed to keep the summer sun out and let the winter sun in, one of several key features that makes this a ‘green building.’

Just days after the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant came third in an environmental rating of the steel industry, a huge fire at the plant claimed 16 lives. The disaster at Vizag raises questions about standards in the steel industry. If health and safety are so poorly managed in one of the top three plants in the country, what does it say about the others?

Historically, the jackfruit has always enjoyed the status of a holy tree in Sri Lanka. Named baat gasa or ‘rice tree’ it is said to have saved Lankans from hunger in a crisis. Jackfruit has social and religious connotations in Sri Lanka too. In recent years it is the economic significance of jackfruit that has grown. Since the past 10 years HORDI, funded by the International Centre for Underutilized Crops (ICUC), has trained free of cost, street vendors, housewives and entrepreneurs in minimal processing, dehydration, and bottling technologies.

Government officials and functionaries still shudder at the name of Fatehpura taluka in Dahod, a tribal district in Gujarat. In August 2010, India’s first union of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) workers, called the Rashtriya Rojgar Khatri Kamdaronu Kayda Union (RRKKKU), had exposed a massive scam in which Rs 4.18 crores of NREGA money had been siphoned.

A high-voltage campaign to draft in record time a major anti-corruption law (Lokpal Bill) for India won concessions from the government in the street, but thereafter its leaders found the going much tougher.

Arvind Kejriwal has been the moving force behind the India Against Corruption movement and the fast unto death undertaken by Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar. He spoke to Civil Society on his draft for a Jan Lokpal Bill and some of the concerns expressed over how it has been put together.

Nikhil Dey is the low-profile joint convener of the National Campaign for the People's Right to Information (NCPRI). As a member of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), he has worked extensively at the grassroots for the implementation of the RTI Act and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA).