MAY 2018  

The River Island of Majuli in midstream of Brahmaputra River in Assam is the world's biggest river island and in 2016 it became the first island to be made a district in India.

Majuli Island is among the monuments and historical sites in India that have beenidentified tentatively for listing under the World Heritage Site list of UNESCO. In fact, the Assam government has been pressing for a UNESCO World Heritage Site tag for Majuli for many years now.

This month, our cover story, 'The Disappearing River Island of Majuli' highlights that Brahmaputra is constantly eating into the landmass of the Majuli Island, which is also the 'Cultural Capital of Assam'. Consequently, the island has shrunk to one-third of its original size, going from an expansive 1,200 sq. km to a mere 400 sq. km. The fury of the floods has been unleashed on human life too as many people are rendered homeless every year. The annual tally of death toll and casualties are also high. But, the good thing is that the state Government of Assam is leaving no stone unturned to conserve Majuli. In 2016, it made an announcement of its intention to save the island by introducing Project SACReD, Majuli, which stands for 'Sustainable Action for Climate Resilient Development in Majuli'. Under this initiative, the Assam government is striving to make the river island of Majuli carbon neutral. Other than these steps aimed at preserving Majuli and giving it a national identity, the central government has also created a roadmap for its development. Naturally, these developments would expand the tourism base in the district while giving rise to more job opportunities. With the government, NGOs, social activists, and individuals making good efforts to rescue Majuli, there is a ray of hope that their efforts will pay off sooner than later.

This month the special report highlights the plight of the Indian farmers as they have to deal with extremely distressing conditions of poverty, agonizing mental pressure, and the subsequent suicides. Noticeably, when the future of farmer is not secure in farming, how long can one continue to do farming willingly? There is a need to strengthen the efficiency and accuracy of low, medium, and long range agro-meteorological forecasting so that farmers can receive the weather warning in time. It would be useful to conduct some relevant studies on climatic models, climate change, and climate resilient crops. It would also be sensible to develop suitable storage facility for grain and agricultural produce to minimize the post-harvest losses of crops.

Both the articles—the cover story and special report—bring out the unstable conditions of the rural poor. While Majuli is a victim of natural calamities, the conditions of Indian farmers are such that very inadequate action has been taken for resolving the problems which have been well documented. Appropriate human efforts in respect of both the issues are necessary more than ever before.