Photo essay – Delhi Pride Parade 2014

Hundreds of Delhiites marched together on Sunday, the 30th of November to participate in the city’s seventh LGBTQ pride parade. Stuti Bhattacharya was there. 


By Stuti Bhattacharya, 8th December, 2014 

The Delhi Queer Pride Parade is an annual event that has been held in New Delhi every year since 2007. The parade is a festive event meant to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people, while protesting unequal treatment by law and society.

In India, Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code criminalises sexual activities “against the act of nature”, which is defined in a manner that effectively criminalises homosexuality (it also criminalises certain consensual heterosexual acts). The Delhi High Court declared this section to be unconstitutional in 2009. This judgment, however, was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2013. The Supreme Court maintained that only the parliament can repeal Section 377. That is unlikely to happen in the near future as the new government in India is led by the BJP, which is a right-wing conservative party. The BJP has explicitly spoken out against homosexuality.

This is the first pride parade since the Supreme Court verdict and since the new government took office.

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“Good fences make good neighbors”?

Writing about her visits to the West Bank, the author shares with us her impressions of the separation wall.


By Margaret McKenzie, 5th July, 2014.

It will have been a decade on July 9 since the International Court of Justice (ICJ) passed its advisory opinion saying Israel must cease construction of the Wall and dismantle sections, compensate for damage caused; and, return Palestinian property or provide compensation if restitution is not possible. The Wall has always been contentious with radically polarizing opinions, exemplified by the many different terms for the Wall depending on who you speak to – “Separation Fence”or “gader hafradeh” in Hebrew, “Apartheid Wall” or “al jidar al azil” in Arabic, are just a few terms used to describe the Wall separating the West Bank from Israel. The Wall depicted in the photos below around the West Bank is illegal under international law.

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Fear and Loathing in the Magic Valley of Malana, India’s Cannabis Country

Satellite mapping by the authorities forces India’s famous cannabis growers deeper into the bush. 


By Shweta Desai, 10th January 2014 (Republished with permission) 

Deep in India’s Himalayas, in the remote and isolated Kullu Valley of Himachal Pradesh, is the quiet village of Malana. When autumn arrives each year, Malana is enveloped in what was once a hopeful air brought on by the new harvest, as lanky cannabis trees bloom wild in panoramic fields and against scattered houses. Farmers and villagers begin cultivating in late September, rubbing the buds of fully bloomed plants between their palms to extract the brown hashish resin known mystically as Malana’s crème. Today this time of year carries with it the dark pall of police interference.

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Challenges of grass root rural development in Tamil Nadu

Looking at the adverse effects of pesticide use on health and farmer yields in Erode, Tamil Nadu state in India, the author highlights the needed measures to bridge the gap between the remedies available to the government, NGOs and civil society on one hand, and the sustainable options for the farmers on the other.


By Camille Maubert, 23rd November 2013

India’s outstanding economic development following the Green Revolution (1960s) was characterized by a remarkable increase in agricultural production. In the past decades, India’s crop yield was multiplied by four through the use of enhanced crop varieties, fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals. However, despite such success on the global scale, concerns are emerging at the micro level regarding the sustainability if intensive agricultural exploitation. The biggest challenge facing farmers is the dramatic decrease in soil fertility. Indeed, after five decades of intense farming, some challenges have become alarmingly recurrent.

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Colourful Challenges: Street Art from the Middle East

The author looks at Street Art in the Middle East (Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran and Palestine). He draws attention to how in some parts it became an apparent means for protest, while in others it is more widely used to endorse the current regime.


By Dallin Van Leuven, 13th October, 2013

The Arab Spring brought far more than a change of leadership to nations in the Middle East and North Africa.  Its political upheaval introduced a marked increase in the freedom of speech, as well as a challenge to the definition of public space.  At the intersection of these two currents lies street art.  Street art – rather than graffiti – is an appropriate term, with vibrant, poignant expressions of free speech capturing the attention of both residents and passers-by. Continue reading

An Attempt to Discover India – Chapter 1

InPEC presents to you the “Discovery of India” log of Kartik Radhakrishnan, an engineering graduate student from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, as he travels through India. In this post, he presents the story about a village in India which “has been forgotten by both the political and administrative executive of the country.”

Place : Aalapalayam (50km North of Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu)
Date : 25th June, 2013


By Kartik Radhakrishnan, 10th July, 2013 (republished)

In the past few months, I have often asked myself the question “What do I consider to be a privilege in my life?” The answer seemed to be obvious “food, shelter and education.” Now that I think about it, this might have been a very shallow response from a guy sitting inside an AC room, oblivious to the actual hardships of the world. How about eating your food without the stench of an exposed drainage that runs around your house? How about a house whose roof falls on your head with every rainfall? How about the absence of an avenue to dispose your dead ones? Continue reading

Photoessay: 2013 Kumbh Mela, India

InPEC presents a photo essay of the “Kumbh Mela” in India by Hemley Gonzalez, a Cuban-American activist who runs the Responsible Charity in the city of Kolkata.

By Hemley Gonzalez, 21st February, 2013

The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu religious pilgrimage that takes place every twelve years at one of four places: Allahabad, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik in India. More than 100 million people will attend the 2013 Kumbha mela.

The major event of the festival is ritual bathing at the banks of the Ganga river. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized.

Kumbh Mela is the most sacred of all the pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men and women attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this. The sadhus are seen clad in saffron sheets with Vibhuti ashes dabbed on their skin as per the requirements of ancient traditions. Some, called naga sanyasis, may not wear any clothes even in severe winter. Continue reading

Photoessay: Delhi Rape Protests

On the 16th of December, 2012, a 23 year old paramedical student was gang raped in a moving bus in India’s capital city of Delhi. The girl has since been in a critical condition in a government hospital. Delhi has a reputation of being notoriously unsafe for women. Owing to a perceived lack of appropriate response by the government, protesters – ranging from university students to political parties and civil society groups – turned up at the centre of the government setup in Delhi. Many were demanding the capital punishment for this case as well as a new legislation that would bring the capital punishment to all rapists. This photoessay by Raghu Karla documents the protests that took place on the 22nd of December, 2012. The police used tear gas shells, water cannons and lathicharge (a term used to describe a charge with batons against protesters) when the crowds began to storm the Raisina Hill, on which the main ministry office buildings (including the Prime Minister’s Office) and the Presidential Estate are situated.


By Raghu Kalra, 22nd December, 2012

Raghu Kalra writes,

“The situation was tense. Most of the crowd comprised of school and college students demanding justice for the 23 year old rape victim. This protest was not guided by any leaders. It was a spontaneous gathering of a lot of people who were angered and shaken up by what had happened in the capital only a few days ago. The protest was peaceful for most part of the day until a few tried to go over the weak barricading put up by the police, which ultimately led to the tear gassing and use of water cannons. This made the situation worse. It is expected that the crowds of protesters will grow on Sunday.”

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Photo Essay: Tradition and the Sahel

The Sahel is in the headlines.  As the death of US Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya is linked to pan-Sahelian terrorist organisations and terrorism in Nigeria and Mali drifts further towards the front pages of western newspapers there is a need to look at some of the stories emerging from the region.  This collection of photos, taken by Jack Hamilton, looks at the changing nature of tradition in Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

By Jack Hamilton, 4th October, 2012 Continue reading

Reporting from Barcelona: general strike and social chaos

In this reportage the author, Alba Franco, shares photographs taken during Spain’s general strike on March 29 when thousands took to the streets in protest against the economic crisis and the decisions adopted by the recently elected government of Mr Rajoy. Though protests were essentially peaceful, Barcelona saw a significant rise in violence coming from urban groups whose rage was mostly directed at financial institutions, big chains and commerces. 


By Alba Franco, 31 March, 2012

1. V for Vendetta: structural violence vs visible violence

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2. Can Mr Rajoy clean up the mess?

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3. Rage against the banks

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4. Who said smoking was not permitted?

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5. Washing out the sins

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6. Women too are brave: ‘sick of cleaning up your f******* crisis’

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7. Street signs have proliferated since the emergence of the crisis

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8. Don’t kid with me

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9. In plain English: ‘People’s Party, f*** off’

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10. Barricading the city: urban guerrilla in the ascent

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Research Project: Best Before, the London food revolution

In this post, documentary filmmaker Ben Mann brings us his latest work on the current food revolution taking place in London.


By Ben Mann, 27 February, 2012

Best Before is about the current food revolution in London and the reasons why it is happening. Since it is a revolution that few people are aware of, we wanted to draw a picture of what it constitutes of, and how and why it is happening. The 2007/2008 Food Price Crisis pushed an extra 800 million people around the world into chronic hunger, as a result of the price for basic foods drastically increasing. This was so dramatic a shock since many developing countries are net importers of staple crops. Here in the UK we import about 40% of the food we consume[i]. With increasing oil volatility, the food system in London and the UK is vulnerable to increasing prices of basic foods. Food prices are expected to double across the world by 2030[ii], and food prices have already risen 6% in the UK in the last year[iii].

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Photo Reportage: South Tel Aviv, a changing neighbourhood – Part II

In this second part of a series of photo reportages, the author shares photographs taken in South Tel Aviv, Israel, where large numbers of refugees have landed over the past decades.

Part I can be accessed here: South Tel Aviv, a changing neighbourhood


By Natalie Muallem, 22 Feb, 2012

Last summer I spent two months in the south part of Tel Aviv. I was teaching English to a family from Darfur who arrived in Israel over three years ago. I have not included photos of them in this series as I feel they are too personal. However, I spent a lot of time walking around the neighbourhood in which they live with Ahmed, a refugee from Darfur and someone who has volunteered much of his time working for an NGO that helps to make the life of other refugees easier. These photographs are not a statement about the life of refugees but rather a document of a changing neighbourhood. This second part of a two-part series on South Tel Aviv includes photographs of the Central Bus Station Area.

1. Ahmed

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2. Locals

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3. Landscape of the summer social protests

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4. Kids playground

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5. Friendship

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6. Time for celebration

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7. Local market

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8. The road towards Central Bus Station

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The copyright of all photos are with Natalie Muallem. Please do not reprint without permission.

Interview with Dr Dan Plesch (Part I) – ‘Disarmament is the Cinderella while Weapons and Non-Proliferation are the Mean Sisters’

In this issue of a two-part interview, longstanding disarmament activist and Director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, Dr Dan Plesch, answers questions on disarmament.

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By David J. Franco, 21 Feb, 2012 Continue reading

Photo Reportage: South Tel Aviv, a changing neighbourhood – Part I

In this part of a series of photo reportages, the author shares photographs taken in South Tel Aviv, Israel, where large numbers of refugees have landed over the past decades.

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By Natalie Muallem, 20 Feb, 2012

Last summer I spent two months in the south part of Tel Aviv. I was teaching English to a family from Darfur who arrived in Israel over three years ago. I have not included photos of them in this series as I feel they are too personal. However, I spent a lot of time walking around the neighbourhood in which they live with Ahmed, a refugee from Darfur and someone who has volunteered much of his time working for an NGO that helps to make the life of other refugees easier. These photographs are not a statement about the life of refugees but rather a document of a changing neighbourhood.

1. Friend of Ahmed and founder of NGO Bnei Darfur (sons of Darfur)

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2. Families

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3. Kids

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4. The Neighbourhood

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5. A Synagogue

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6. Old friends

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7. Ahmed and two locals

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8. Ahmed

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The copyright of all photos are with Natalie Muallem. Please do not reprint without permission.

Photo Essay: Stories from Kabul, Afghanistan – Part III

As part of a USAID project, Abhishek Srivastava worked in Kabul, Afghanistan on AMDEP (Afghanistan Media Development and Empowerment Program). The principal goal of the project is to train and assist Afghan journalists and students of Kabul University on the nuances of reporting. Abhishek tells us stories of people and places in Kabul using his photos as a medium. This is the second in a series of photo-essays on Kabul.

Part I can be accessed here: Stories from Kabul – Part I

Part II can be accessed here: Stories from Kabul – Part II

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By Abhishek Srivastava, 17 Feb, 2012

1. Your Country Needs YOU!

A poster calling people to join the Afghan National Army and be a hero.

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2. The Kite Runners

Kite flying at dawn. I was not aware that kite flying is so popular among Afghans. Kite flying had been banned during the the Taliban regime.

3.

Bullet ridden walls and barbed wires are common in this area around Zahir Shah’s tombstone, a typical Kabul suburb. I saw hundreds of people scattered over a limitless piece of land, flying colorful kites.

4.

Keeping a hawk eye. The number of kite catchers were the same as the number of people flying the kites.

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5. Baaz

That is a Baaz (Falcon). In Afghanistan, keeping of birds as pets has long been a popular pastime.

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6. The River of Poppies

The main river of eastern Afghanistan is this famous Kabul River. It is a 700kms long river, and it flows east past Kabul and Jalalabad, north of the Khyber Pass into Pakistan, and past Peshawar; it joins the Indus River northwest of Islamabad. Alexander the Great used it to invade India in the 4th century BCE. It now mainly helps in the cultivation of poppies.

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7. The Corner of a Foreign Field

‘Jumma Cricket in Kabul’

At 6am one day, I got a call from an Afghan asking me to accompany him to see what some Afghans do on a holiday morning, after their morning prayers.

And here I was, right in the middle of some mountains, with the wind blowing away the clouds and making way for the clear blue sky. On a ground full of rock and pebbles, with spectators sitting right next to the batting wicket, a match of cricket was on.

The ground was yet again a part of Soviet recreation facility built in the 1980’s. I could not have been more delighted, for it was the World Cup season, and India was in the finals. That was reason enough for me to connect with any match of cricket.

Out of nowhere, I got that extra adrenaline rush to hold the bat and try those rusted strokes from childhood. But first I had to watch. Yes, the cricket fever was on in Afghanistan as well. Being a holiday in this Islamic country, playing cricket every Friday is like a ritual for most. I saw some of them wearing the Pakistan cap as well.

It was 12 over match with 11 players in each team. Some of the them even tried enacting Shahid Afridi, their hero. Afridi is a popular Pakistani batsman. The moment they got to know that an Indian was present, they congratulated me for defeating Pakistan in the World Cup Semi Final and handed me the bat!

8.

Our cricket ball was a normal tennis ball, which was nicely wrapped in white plastic tape. They say that it makes the ball heavier and makes it swing, much like a leather ball. Well it did hit me hard a couple of times!

9.

Firing star batsman, Haaseeb.

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10. Taimani Fort

The mud walled Taimani Fort. This fort was built in the late 1880’s. It belongs to a tribe called ‘Taimani’ in Afghanistan. I am told that underneath this fort runs a Cavernous hall and a lot of debris from the Soviet era.

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The copyright of all photos are with Abhishek Srivastava. Please do not reprint without permission.

Research Project – Pune: A (Nearly) Waste-Free City

This post is the tenth in a series sharing findings from a research project Sam Kornstein and Paul Artiuch are working on throughout the month of January. Paul Artiuch and Samuel Kornstein are graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Throughout the month of January they are in India researching market-oriented approaches to reducing agricultural food waste.

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By Samuel Kornstein and Paul Artiuch

January 26, 2012

Until now, we’ve spent the majority of our time exploring upstream agricultural supply chains – learning about what happens to food between farms and markets, before it reaches end consumers. Unlike many western countries, Indian consumers waste remarkably little food, as a use is found for nearly all left-overs and food scraps. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s no waste, and Pune, a four million person city three hours southeast of Mumbai, is implementing an innovative initiative to change that.

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Research Project: Four Problems with India’s Food Supply Systems

This post is the ninth in a series sharing findings from a research project Sam Kornstein and Paul Artiuch are working on throughout the month of January. Paul Artiuch and Samuel Kornstein are graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Throughout the month of January they are in India researching market-oriented approaches to reducing agricultural food waste.

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By Samuel Kornstein and Paul Artiuch

January 24, 2012

We’ve spent the past three weeks in India researching agricultural supply chains to see if we could uncover the reasons why an estimated 30-40% of food grown in the country goes to waste. Over this time we’ve had a chance to speak with many stakeholders to gain their perspectives on the issue. Not surprisingly, the landscape that’s emerged is quite complex. At the risk of oversimplifying some of India’s largest agricultural challenges, we’ve outlined four of the main problem areas.

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Research Project: Smaller Markets in Rajasthan

This post is the eighth in a series sharing findings from a research project Sam Kornstein and Paul Artiuch are working on throughout the month of January. Paul Artiuch and Samuel Kornstein are graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Throughout the month of January they are in India researching market-oriented approaches to reducing agricultural food waste.

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By Samuel Kornstein and Paul Artiuch

January 23, 2012

Earlier this month, we visited Azadpur Mandi, the largest wholesale produce market in Asia. We found that while the marketplace is extraordinarily chaotic, it’s actually quite efficient, and little food goes to waste once it reaches the city. Since then, we’ve spent some time in rural areas, meeting with farmers, commission agents, traders, academics, and start-up companies. It’s become clear that some of the most significant causes of food waste in India include inadequate storage facilities, limited processing capacity, government program inefficiencies, and as well as some economic challenges related to cold storage and capital investment capabilities.

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Photo reportage: 10+1 photographs of Nicaragüa

In this photo reportage, the author explores part of Nicaragüa’s beauty.

For more on Nicaragüan politics follow this link: Quo Vadis, America?

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By David J. Franco, 27 Jan, 2012

Introduction

Few places have captivated me more than Nicaragüa, the largest country in Central America, famous for its Sandinista revolution, its colonial cities Granada and León, Rubén Darío’s poetry, and the twin volcanos, Maderas and Concepción, located in that tiny island called Isla de Ometepe, in the middle of the Lake Nicaragüa. True, not all in Nicaragüa is as mystic as I’ve just portrayed. Life and drama coexist in this Central American country: politics is a corrupt matter and poverty, drugs, and crime continue to force many Nicaraguans to cross the Southern border in search for a better life in Costa Rica. Two unfortunate recent events have brought Nicaragüa back to the international stage: its 2010 military incursion into the Río San Juan, and José Ortega’s victory in the 2011 presidential elections amidst claims of fraud.

Good thing though about sharing personal experiences is that one can choose which side of the story is worth telling, and which side of the story is better left untold. In this case, I will not share with you photographs of piles of litter in the roadsides, or photographs of that place where a young lady got kidnapped one night, or photographs of the chaos reigning in border posts. Instead, I will limit this series to show you some of the beauty of Nicaragüa. Because, unfortunately, it is her beauty that is often left untold.

1.School Buses

I want to start this series of photographs by showing you the interior of one of the many old decommissioned yellow US school buses that populate Nicaragüan geography. These are usually packed and not very comfortable for long distance trips (they were initially meant for US kids with short legs, not for adults carrying luggage). There is however something unique about crossing the country in these buses: their decoration is colourful, and at every stop women take the opportunity to get on the bus to try and sell all sorts of produces: from water contained in small plastic bags, to fried plantains.

2. Granada, Iglesia de la Merced

Granada is beautiful, it is silent, it is lonely. It is like many of Spain’s old cities but without the buzz. From the top of this bell tower, I could see Nicaragüa’s lake. Still, quiet, paused. It felt good, it felt as if time had been put on hold.

3. Daily life in Granada

No traffic lights, no street names. Only coloured houses with the typical Spanish tyled-roof. When you ask for directions, don’t be surprised if you get the following answer: ‘walk a hundred meters down the road, then turn right, walk fifty meters and you will see the post-office. It’s ten meters after the post-office’. Skinny, hungry horses pulling old carts are a common sight.

4. Social Centre Tío Antonio

Located in the old colonial city of Granada, this social centre was founded in 2007 by Antonio Prieto, known locally as Tío Antonio. When I got there with a Costa Rican friend I was caught by the slogan of a sign governing the place: ‘Take a rest by helping others’. Though the most touristic city in Nicaragua, Granada has a large population living unde poverty line. In this photograph, impaired boys and girls knit hammocks that will later be sold to finance shelter, education, and other social programmes.

5. León, Museo de la Revolución

The city of León is fascinating. Compaired to Granada, it is much more chaotic and noisy. It is also more decadent and the home of the Sandinista revolution. In this photograph, two former guerrilla fighters pose at the Museum of the Revolution holding the flag of the Frente Sandinista, leaders of the 1979 revolution that ended more than four decades of ruling by the Somoza family. Upon entering the Museum I saw a big cardboard sign reading ‘No Weapons Allowed’. The gentlemen in the photograph treated me very well and even took me to the roof of the building from which we could see the Cathedral of León.

6. León, Casa Museo de Rubén Darío

Rubén Darío is one of the greatest Latin American poets of the nineteenth century, known for initiating the literary movement of modernism. Like the magnificient Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, Darío combined his literary work and passion with a diplomatic career that took him to several posts outside his Nicaragüan borders. Poets are said to be solitary souls. If Darío was as solitary as the house where he died in 1916, surely poetry must have been his ultimate refuge.

7. San Juan del Sur

Very close to Costa Rica’s border of Peñas Blancas is San Juan del Sur, a town of fishermen that every year sees the arrival of hundreds of backpackers in search of sun, sea, and surf. Locals are very nice and usually very discreet, they mind their business yet are very friendly. After all, tourism is one of their main sources of income.

8. Beaches near San Juan del Sur

I stayed a few days in San Juan del Sur but instead of practising surf I spent every morning fishing when the tyde is low: I only caught two catfish and one of them sank its spine well into my finger. While not very tasty, catfish is good for making soup. The photograph above shows a beautiful, wild beach near San Juan del Sur where some friends and I spent the day surfing and fishing. It is also, with Playa Maderas, the scenery chosen by different TV programs to shoot reality shows.

9. Isla de Ometepe

I never thought there could be something like a twin volcano island in the middle of a lake. Until I saw Isla Ometepe, home to the twin volcanoes Concepción (1610 metres) and Maderas (1394 metres), right in the middle of Lake Nicaragüa.

10. Finca Magdalena

When arriving at Isla Ometepe, I suggest you take a local bus to Finca Magdalena, a 350-hectare organic farm and agricultural cooperative stretching along the foothills of Volcán Maderas. The place is fantastic and well kept. Wake up at dawn and hike up the volcano, When you get to the top after some three to four hours, enjoy the view as the crater is inundated with rain water. You can even take a swim, if you dare… Unfortunately for hiking lovers, Volcán Concepción (above) is currently active.

Conclusion

Little else needs be said, The above are only snapshots of some of Nicaragüa’s Eastern spots. Many more places are left unexplored by this series of photographs. As the kids in the opening photograph show us, Nicaragüa can also be all smiles.

Research Project: India’s Grain Storage Problem

This post is the sixth in a series sharing findings from a research project Sam Kornstein and Paul Artiuch are working on throughout the month of January. Paul Artiuch and Samuel Kornstein are graduate students at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Throughout the month of January they are in India researching market-oriented approaches to reducing agricultural food waste.

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By Samuel Kornstein and Paul Artiuch

January 18, 2012

India is one of the largest wheat producers in the world, with the most recent harvest bringing in over 80 million tons of grain. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, the government buys a significant portion of each year’s harvest and distributes it to the poor through ration shops. As part of this program, the government also maintains a grain reserve as a food security measure, and provides farmers with purchase guarantees at a minimum support price. As a result, massive stocks of wheat are kept in government storage every year – 17 million tons was held by the program’s agency, the Food Corporation of India, at the beginning of 2011.

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