Tag Archives | 2013

We are still vulnerable to climate variability

Samanth Subramaniam writes in UAE’s The National on the floods in Uttarakhand and quotes me on the link between flooding and climate change.

But Pavan Srinath, a policy researcher at the Chennai-based Takshashila Institution, who has written extensively about climate change, told The National that cause and effect were difficult to establish in such situations.

“Theoretically, if you mess around in mountain systems, you can increase chances of landslides or floods, yes,” Mr Srinath said. “The question is: How much does the risk go up? We don’t know that yet.”

Similarly, Mr Srinath hesitated to draw a link between global climate change patterns and the early monsoon rain that triggered Uttarakhand’s floods.

“One of the theories is that global warming increases the intensity of the monsoon rains,” Mr Srinath said. He acknowledged that climate change was causing “extreme weather events” but argued that it was difficult to conclusively prove that these floods were one such event.

“I would say, instead, that our towns haven’t even adapted to regular variations in climates, let alone climate change-induced ones,” Mr Srinath said. “Really, that’s the conversation we should be having.”
[Samanth Subramaniam, The National]

I cannot stress the last point enough. The sad truth is, even without climate change, our towns, cities and villages are deeply vulnerable to the natural variability in climate. Be it droughts that hit parts of India like clockwork every few years, or how Assam or Orissa get inundated by floods regularly – we see constant evidence that we aren’t even resilient to what we ought to be. We should be talking about adapting to local climes, to variability and finally to climate change. Talking excessively of climate change alone shifts the focus instead to mitigation, to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and a host of other issues that serve as distractions.

For a nation that is one-sixth of the world’s population, we have but contributed to 3% of greenhouse gases emitted globally since the industrial revolution. Our most important goals need to be of climate adaptation, and building disaster resilience and good emergency services.

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Visualising Karnataka’s municipal elections 2013

Urban Karnataka took to the polling booth earlier this month to vote for their corporators and municipal councillors. The elections were to be a four-way contest, with the Indian National Congress (INC), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (Secular) and Karnataka Janata Party (KJP) being the large political parties in the fray. Congress had a significant victory in the elections, securing 1960 of the 4976 seats contested: over 39% of the total. BJP and JDS were far behind, securing but 905 seats each, about 18% a piece of the total seats. The breakaway former Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa’s new party the KJP could manage only 274 seats, less than 6% of the total. Independents won a significant portion of the seats as well.

The Karnataka municipal elections are happening at a rather critical time, with state assembly elections due in a few months and with the national parliamentary elections due in 2014. The results here will have a significant impact on both the impending elections. Twitter and other social media are already abuzz with speculations and assertions on what this would mean for the coming elections, on whether the municipal voters represent the entire state’s dispositions, on the signaling value of Congress’s early win, on anti-incumbency as a driver within the state, and much more. This article limits itself to a brief analysis of the municipal elections and their results, with an attempt to understand who will be governing much of urban Karnataka over the next five years.

Out of a total of 61 million residents of Karnataka, 208 cities and towns with a total of 13.9 million residents had local elections this month. At 22.8% of the state’s population, this covered all of urban Karnataka with the exception of Bangalore and a few minor towns. While most news stories are talking about the total number of corporator/councilor seats won by political parties, what matters is who has been able to win a majority of seats in individual local bodies such that they can form the local government there. Like in assembly and parliamentary elections, city mayors are elected indirectly by allowing elected municipal councilors to select their mayor.

The above graphic shows how many cities and towns of different sizes have been won by individual political parties. Overall, the Congress won 79 of the total 208 seats, with JDS and BJP with 25 and 24 each. The KJP managed only 5 seats, but it is interesting to note that there were 12 urban local bodies where all independents put together won a majority of the seats. Also, a good 30% of the local bodies had no clear victors. These 62 cities and towns will be where a lot of negotiations will take place over the next few weeks so that coalitions can be cobbled together to reach a simple majority.

Click on the map to know more about election results in individual towns.

A quick look at the above map tells us about the geographical spread of each party’s victories in Karnataka’s municipal elections. The congress (blue) appears to be well spread out throughout the state. The majority of JDS victories (green) are clustered in Southern Karnataka, conforming with their traditional strength in the Old Mysore region. The BJP (red) appears to have won towns in the eastern half of Karnataka – ranging from Belgaum and Bagalkote all the way down to Dakshina Kannada and Kodagu.

In all, the Congress has won a significant victory in Karnataka – be it in the number of corporator seats won, cities with majorities and their size. Below is a set of major cities and towns won by each of the political parties in the fray.

Notes. In this article, victors have been declared if they have won more than 45% of the seats in any given town or city. This is with the assumption that by taking on board one or two independents, the party can attain a simple majority. As of writing of this article, 24 seats out of the total 4976 are yet to be declared on the NIC website: most of which are seats from Terdal TMC, Bagalkot district. 

Data used in this post is available here.

You can also take a look at my fellow blogger Karthik Shashidhar‘s work for other visualisations of the election results: Congress Sweep |  Overall resultsDistrict-wise results | Party-wise performance on a district map | 

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