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Classquake: What the global media missed in Nepal earthquake coverage May 8, 2015

Posted by nishankmotwani in : Guest authors, Nepal , comments closed

Andrew Nelson

As the world comes to terms with Nepal’s earthquake and media outlets start shifting their gaze elsewhere, it is worth analyzing how the global English media covered the disaster – and what they missed. This was a “classquake” as much as a natural disaster, a point missed amid the dramatic descriptions and heart-rending videos.

Initially, attention was focused on Nepal’s recognizable symbols,Kathmandu’s world heritage sites, and victims at the Mt. Everest base camp leaving several commentators on Twitter to criticize the media for its “orientalist gaze” and “disaster porn” while under-reporting where the devastation was more extensive: rural Nepal.

A man walks past collapsed buildings after an earthquake last week in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 3, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX1BAO5

A man walks past collapsed buildings after an earthquake last week in Kathmandu, Nepal, May 3, 2015. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

The media’s attention to Kathmandu valley and Everest was as much a product of orientalism, that is, the West’s patronizing or romanticized perceptions of “the East,” as it was a reflection of disconnect between the capital and the (non-mountaineering) hinterland. (more…)

The future of nuclear energy in India March 24, 2011

Posted by southasiamasala in : India, Kumar, Vikas , comments closed

Vikas Kumar

From mining to waste disposal, the nuclear energy industry faces hazards at every step. The recent nuclear accidents in Japan following the massive Tsunami have shaken any confidence we may have had in viewing nuclear energy as a safe alternative to hydrocarbons. These accidents raise serious questions regarding the ability of developing countries like India, which have weak regulatory bodies and dysfunctional disaster management systems, to deal with nuclear accidents. There is very little scope for public scrutiny of the nuclear energy industry in these countries due to “national security” considerations.

Let us focus on a specific problem highlighted by the Japanese accidents, namely, uncertainty associated with emergency cooling measures. A large number of nuclear power plants across the world are located near the sea to ensure adequate supply of coolant in emergencies. Tsunami is, however, just one of the numerous threats to the safe operation of coastal nuclear power plants. Rising sea levels and the increasing frequency of high intensity weather events like cyclones due to climate change means that such plants will increasingly face emergencies of the kind seen in Japan. The alternative is to locate plants inland. But climate change has also made that option unattractive in two ways. Firstly, inland water bodies are warmer than ever before. Secondly, such water bodies are prone to dry up in summers. So, switching to nuclear energy cannot be a reasonable answer to climate change. Nuclear power plants are, in fact, sitting ducks for nature’s fury. (more…)