India is the world’s second-most populated country with 1.3 billion people, and is ahead of the United States — the third highest population — by nearly 1 billion people. When comparing the populations of the two countries, it is easy to understand how the media misrepresents India as an overcrowded, poverty-stricken country.

While true that India has a high population and a large percentage of the nation lives off of incomes considered below the world poverty line, there is also financial and social growth leading to improved conditions in India.

It is also easy to understand how the media misrepresents India as an environmentally unfriendly country: many cities in India suffer from problems of air and water pollution. However, India is instituting new policies to combat those issues and to improve the quality of the environment.

Economic Progress

Even though 68 percent of India’s population lives in poverty according to World Bank standards, the poverty level has declined since 2004. Further, India has one of the world’s fastest growing economies — growth of India’s GDP is expected to be 7 percent in fiscal year 2018, and increase to 7.4 percent by fiscal year 2020.

India also has a growing international business market that will increase industries and jobs. For example, solar panel manufacturing is becoming an important market and there are multi-billion-dollar investments being made to further expand and produce panels for both domestic and exportation purposes.

Social Progress

In recent years, India has improved in its quality of life measurements in addition to moving up from the low social progress category. This shift means that measured standards indicate that India is meeting an increasing number of basic human needs for all its people. One large factor in that advancement was progress made in providing shelter; 67 percent of the population now has access to affordable housing.

India also increased general access to information and communication. The numbers of both internet and phone users increased since 2014, allowing people to connect and obtain information more easily.

Environmental Progress

The smog in India’s capital, New Delhi, is infamously thick; however, solutions to the pollution exist that are less readily portrayed by the media. One such solution is an air purifier that can be used indoors to help clean the air, and bigger policy initiatives to help tackle the root of the pollution problems are also being pushed by the government.

India is trying to eliminate its manufacturing of gas-running engines by 2030 and turn toward electric vehicles to remove one source of pollution. Along with other policy measures, and investments in cleaning polluted air and water, India aims to alleviate its problems of environmental degradation.

How the Media Misrepresents India

How the media misrepresents India is through its focus on big picture negatives rather than on the positive growth of the country. All the separate instances of progress add together and help to create a more sustainable future for the people of India.

With monetary and policy support, further strides can be made in the media’s notation and highlighting of the resilience of India.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

The cost of energy is on the rise, especially in the hot summer weather. Solar panels are the equipment of the future for providing energy. Bright, a solar panel installation and distribution startup, has raised $4 million to provide free installation for solar energy in the developing world.

Last year, Bright began installing solar panels in Mexico. Specifically in Mexico, energy is expensive and involves a complicated process. According to the Mexican Federal Electric Commission, energy can cost upwards of $4,000 MXD ($240 USD) in the hot summer months.

This is a cost that most individuals cannot afford. There is a program in Mexico that subsidizes the energy costs for the poorest citizens, but it does not cover everyone.

This is where Jonah Greenberger, former Chevron executive and founder of Bright, saw the potential for solar panels.

Greenberger explains: “Solar is the path forward. Specifically, it’s a solution that doesn’t need to be centrally controlled and distributed (i.e. it can sit on roofs instead of in one large location in the desert), which means we can be independent from a totally government controlled situation.”

Bright will install solar panels for free and then provide a subscription service, a system which is similar to cable television in the United States.

Bright is able to have private investors cover the initial cost, and, over time, the private investors are paid back by the individuals paying for the subscription. The funding comes from a number of firms and investors including First Round Capital, Felicis Ventures, Max Levchin, Patrick Collison and several YC partners.

With the funding, Greenberger plans to hire and grow the team “so that we can tackle one of the largest and most significant challenges of out lifetime–delivering clean energy to a planet of over 7 billion people.”

To avoid higher costs, Bright does not build its own solar panels. Instead, Bright hires Mexican contractors to install ready made solar panels. This tactic decreases the cost to private investors, which eventually decreases the cost to individuals in the program. It also creates jobs to local contractors.

Although Bright is only active in Mexico now, they hope to take the same model to other countries where is believes it can do better than the government energy programs.

Bright is also working on improving their financial and solar software that would allow startup partners to sell, approve, install and verify installations. This would make Bright solar equipment available to more parts of the world.

Bright is paving the way for a more affordable and cleaner way to provide energy to the world. With this program, not only will people have access to affordable energy, but pollution will also decrease in the developing world.

Kerri Szulak

Sources: Founder World, TechCrunch
Photo: TechCrunch


When plastic is disposed of, it is hoped to be recycled for better purposes; most elementary classes teach their students how to be “eco-friendly” so their planet can thrive, and they watch films or listen to presentations about the benefits of recycling. Despite these truly noble efforts, according to findings from the BBC World Service, out of the approximate 288 million tons of plastic waste produced on the earth per year in the past 30 to 40 years, 10% of that goes through drains into the ocean. Eighty percent of worldwide plastic waste comes from land-based sources. If not all, most of that waste has been produced by humans.

According to Professor Richard Thompson of Plymouth University, the best solution to remove plastic waste (especially plastic waste in the oceans) is to simply prevent it from getting there.

Twenty-year-old Boyan Slat, Founder and CEO of Ocean Cleanup, thinks we can do one better. The idea came to him at age 16 while diving in Greece. He noticed that there was more plastic in the ocean than there were fish. He was right to a greater extent than he probably realized at the time. According to Nicholas Mallos of the Ocean Conservancy, “the amount of plastics is roughly one third the total biomass of fish–1 lb of plastic for every 2 lbs of fish.”

When Slat was 19-years-old, a first-year studying Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft University in the Netherlands, he came up with the idea of a solar powered floating boom with a processing platform. The device is comprised of an array of barriers that would catch and concentrate plastic, then would move it to areas where it could be extracted.

Currently, there is an estimated 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean, according to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Unfortunately, because so much of the debris can be found within the darkest depths of the ocean, this particular device wouldn’t be able to catch all of it. But, Slat and his associates have estimates that within 10 years of its development, almost half of it has a chance of being removed.

Boyan Slat was fortunately able to host a Ted Talk, and once his video explaining his cause and his abilities went viral, he was able to raise about $2 million with Crowdfunding campaigns and recruited several volunteers from around the globe to help him.

Now, announcing deployment in 2016 via the Seoul Digital Forum in South Korea, the solar powered boom will be the world’s largest floating structure at 2,000 meters. It will be deployed off Tsushima, an island between Japan and South Korea, and is expected to be operational for two years. If this endeavor is successful, progressively larger booms will be deployed in other locations. All associations involved hope to use the recovered plastic as an alternative energy source.

Anna Brailow

Sources: BBC, Good News Network, The Ocean Cleanup, TEDx Talks
Photo: The Ocean Cleanup