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Garbage a Ticking Time Bomb in India, Will Have ‘Disastrous Consequences’ if Not Checked

They suggested empowering of local urban bodies and municipalities to deal with the crisis

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Plastic pollution.
Pollution caused due to plastic. Pixabay

By Saket Suman

The boom that followed India’s economic liberalisation in the 1990s led to an “exponential increase” in the accumulation of garbage while also changing athe very nature’ of litter generated. This “storm of waste” is a ticking time bomb and could have disastrous, fatal and horrifying consequences if not checked, say Robin Jeffrey and Assa Doron, who have co-authored the monumental “Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India”.

Doron, an Associate Professor of Anthropology and South Asia Studies at the Australian National University, once went to Seelampur on the outskirts of Delhi and was “horrified” to see the manner in which old mobile phones — e-waste — were being treated.

He immediately and approached Jeffrey, a visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies in Singapore, saying: “This is huge, we need to study garbage in India,” thus beginning the research for the book.

“Since India’s boom in the 1990s and the aftermath of its economic liberalisation, the volume of waste has increased exponentially and the nature of waste has changed too. This boom has also produced construction and demolition waste, the hazardous waste and the plastic and the fast-moving consumer waste,” Doron told IANS on the sidelines of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

India, for example, had a culture of using biodegradable plates instead of plastic plates that you see all around today, he said.

Garbage dump (representational Image), Wikimedia

“All of these together make an almost perfect storm of waste which is very difficult to tackle unless you do it at different levels of governance,” he added.

His co-author Jeffrey, on the other hand, said that there is some value in the waste and the people who work in the landfills extract that value.

“While you got to extract that value out of the garbage, it must must follow a certain procedure,” Jeffrey told IANS.

He said this complexity applies to all kinds of waste. “You have to find out who is throwing it, why is he throwing it, is there a need to throw it, who is the first person to handle it and then where can it go to have a new life.”

“The pharmaceutical industry is centred now in India because certain ventures are not profitable anymore in the West. These multinationals have outsourced their companies to India, particularly Hyderabad, which has emerged as the pharmaceutical capital of India. A lot of what they discharge into the waterbodies and in the soil are active ingredients. They are creating a bacteria-resistant environment, what is also known as superbugs.

Yamuna River in New Delhi, India. (Pollution, environmental, Scavengers at work in the Yamuna at Qudesia Ghat, Boat, Garbage)

“It’s disseminating and killing the fields, its harming the livelihood of the people who live in the periphery of these companies. It’s creating new bugs that even the most powerful antibiotics cannot tackle. So you have a situation where effluents produced as a result of bringing new industries in india, or creating special economic zones, is actually harming India in the long run. There has to be better planning and corrective measure need to be applied,” anthropologist Doron said.

Jeffrey said that life expectancy for those working and living around landfills in India is just 39 years as respiratory diseases and infections are common among them.

Also Read- Indian Origin Team Develops Model For Safer Self-driving Cars

They suggested empowering of local urban bodies and municipalities to deal with the crisis.

“At the moment they have the responsibility but they do not have the wherewithal, not do they have enough trained staff,” said Jeffrey, while Doron added that local governments need to partner with civil society and the people who are already on the ground dealing with waste. They need to be made aware of the serious health implications, and “trained in extracting value from waste without hampering the environment or causing serious health implications” to themselves or those around them. (IANS)

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Microsoft Ready to Help Indian Startups, Says President Anant Maheshwari

Microsoft is focused as much on selling third party solutions as their own, and this co-sell motion has helped generate $8 billion in revenue for partners within 18 months

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

Armed with a cutting-edge technology platform, a well-established partner organisation and an expansion of M12 venture fund, Microsoft is ready to help Indian startups across the spectrum embrace the next phase of growth, Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India, said here on Monday.

India, which saw a tremendous growth in the startup space in the last couple of years, is now witnessing a growth in the business-to-business (B2B) tech startups coming up with innovative ideas to deal with local problems.

“With our intelligent tech expertise, deep focus on trust and unique global go to market partnering, we empower unicorns and startups to scale sustainably at a global level,” said Maheshwari.

“We remain excited about India’s entrepreneurial startup potential and will continue to accelerate it as a growth engine for the economy,” he added.

India witnessed a dramatic rise of eight unicorns in 2018 from among the start-ups across verticals as against a mere nine in six years from 2011 till 2017, according to IT industry apex body Nasscom.

The start-ups joining the select club for their valuation over $1 billion are Oyo Rooms (hospitality), Zomato and Swiggy (food delivery), Udaan (retailer marketplace), Byju’s, (edu-tech), Paytm Mall (e-tail), Freshworks (software programmer) and Policybazaar (digital insurance).

Maheshwari said Microsoft is uniquely positioned to support Indian startups to achieve scale and evolve from market ready to enterprise ready.

Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

The introduction of M12, Microsoft’s venture fund, in India in February is creating new value for startups, VCs and the company itself to maintain the pace and direction of innovation.

“M12 is looking at investing in innovators who have aligned their focus on cutting-edge technologies that better enable digital transformation. The portfolio development team at M12 is specifically built to help support and scale companies by leveraging the expansive resources of Microsoft,” said the company.

According to reports, venture capital investments in Indian tech business-to-business (B2B) start-ups have been trending upwards, with over $3.09 billion raised in equity funding across 415 deals in 2018 — 28 per cent more than $2.41 billion in 2017.

Also Read: Facebook’s Push to Become China’s WeChat May Kill it

Under the “Microsoft for Startups” initiative, startups can co-sell with Microsoft sales teams, get access to top tech VCs in the global arena and mentorship from industry veterans.

In less than 18 months, Microsoft for Startups has closed more than 120 co-sell deals with more than $126 million in active pipeline for startups.

Microsoft is focused as much on selling third party solutions as their own, and this co-sell motion has helped generate $8 billion in revenue for partners within 18 months. (IANS)