Pulitzer Center Update

This Week: Capitalists Carve Up Mumbai

April 06, 2015|

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Mazagon Dock, India’s leading shipyard, looms above the Mumbai Port. (The Megacity Initiative). Image by Matthew Niederhauser. India, 2015.

THE MESS IN MUMBAI

Mumbai is India’s financial capital and economic engine. But as Pulitzer Center grantee Matthew Niederhauser notes in a piece for The Atlantic’s “CityLab,” Mumbai’s prosperity has done little to inspire a coherent planning vision for the metropolitan region. “Private interests are carving the city into a jumbled mess in order to capitalize on surging land prices. Currently, proposals to redevelop the Mumbai Port have come under fierce debate as the city grapples with an unprecedented opportunity to build a brighter and more sustainable future.”

With this report on the Mumbai port project, Matthew and partner John Fitzgerald launch their “Megacity Initiative,” a new media venture that explores the increasing significance of megacities in the developing world through video, photography, and immersive virtual reality technologies. The idea is to promote sustainable development, social equity, and freedom of expression in these burgeoning metropolitan areas.

“This century already belongs to the city, especially the megacity, where populations eclipse 10 million inhabitants,” says Matthew. “The ecological fate of the planet is bound in myriad ways to the prudent integration of these future city dwellers, especially with regards to how they live, work, travel, and consume.”

TURKEY’S NEW SULTAN

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who became Turkey’s prime minister in 2003 and president in 2014, is "the single most important force driving today’s Turkish foreign and domestic policy—the new sultan, as both his critics and admirers have dubbed him,” writes Pulitzer Center grantee Yigal Schleifer in a profile of Erdogan for Moment.

“He has emasculated the nation’s once-powerful military as a domestic political force: Starting in 2007, his government launched a massive investigation into an alleged several-years-old coup plot, accusing top generals and officers, opposition leaders, journalists and academics of conspiracy and, by 2013, jailing nearly 300 of them. This helped cement his position as the most potent leader in modern Turkey’s history, with the exception of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, its founder,” Yigal writes.

“Basically, Erdogan and the AKP (Justice and Development Party) are willing to ram through measures…that increase their powers,” one human rights activist tells Yigal. “It’s a kind of thuggery, using an iron fist approach from the top. They are abusing their parliamentary authority with these measures that go against human rights, that erode Turkey’s democratic institutions and its democratic credibility.”

THE HIGH PRICE OF SHARK FIN SOUP

The shark is one of the ocean’s most fascinating and feared inhabitants. But as Pulitzer Center grantee Erik Vance notes, “Over the last decade, marine scientists have been sounding the alarm about plummeting shark populations. Up to 100 million sharks are caught by fishermen every year. By some measures, commercial fishing has led to a decline in the population of certain large shark species by more than 95 percent.”

Two cultural forces drive this trend, one related to supply and the other to demand. Erik and photojournalist Dominic Bracco II, in a feature story for the Virginia Quarterly Review, explore the supply side from the point of view of small-scale Mexican fisherman struggling to earn a living—and the demand side across the Pacific Ocean where China’s booming economy and ancient cultural traditions mean that a shark fin is much more than just an exotic ingredient in bowl of soup.

ON INSTAGRAM

Follow us this week on Instagram @pulitzercenter! Paula Bronstein will take over our account starting Monday to post from the field in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Michael G. Seamans will follow, posting to our Instagram account from the field in Sierra Leone starting on Friday through the weekend.

Until next week,

Tom Hundley
Senior Editor