How MSMEs, households are falling deeper into debt trap despite FM’s stimulus

Data indicates most of the 6.33 crore MSMEs in the country, employing nearly 11 crore people, are hurting due to debt burden that worsened due to the COVID lockdown.

How SPB’s statue added fuel to a spooky superstition

Is it a bad omen to have ...

What a Durga Puja away from pandals means for Bengal

An unfinished building, a...

Land swap: 5 yrs on, these people regret choosing India over Banglades...

On July 31, 2015, as part of a historic land boundary agreement (LBA), India and Bangladesh exchanged 162 landlocked islands embedded deep inside the territory of the other country.

Lockdown slashed air pollution. Can we sustain the gains?

Experts opine that there can be sustainable unlocking and greening of economic revival to sustain the unexpected gains of the lockdown to whatever extent possible.

Jobless at home, migrant workers return to cities

With the government having no record of migrant workers, it’s obvious that they cannot plan anything for migrant workers, especiall in home states.

How a small idea and big resolve turned this village self-sufficient

Paradsinga village near Nagpur is slowly and steadily inching towards self-sufficiency with its indigenous cottage industries, an IT firm, sustainable organic farming.

How Kalam’s chat with Biju Patnaik gave wings to India’s missile dreams

Former president of India and missile scientist Dr APJ Abdul Abdul Kalam was one of the simplest men but also very cunning.

Hindu nationalism is rising in Tamil Nadu. Can BJP be far behind?

Growing up in Coimbatore’s Saibaba Colony, a middle-class neighbourhood, 27-year-old Prakashan* boasted of an ‘entourage’ of six close friends in college. That number came down a few years back to just two after Prakashan found a new ‘mission’ in life—to be proud of his Hindu roots. Some of those friends still don’t know what changed Prakashan’s...


Early voting catches on in the US, that could be a worry for Trump

New Delhi: President Trump and Republicans, in general, have had a love-hate relationship with early voting in general. In fact, Trump has questioned the validity of mail-in votes saying they helped rigging, but, at the same time, saying he was okay with “absentee ballots”. However, the fact is both terms mean the same; there is no distinction

Thai parliament meets to debate political protest tensions

Bangkok: Thailands Parliament beg...

Writer for Muralidharan’s biopic ‘800’ requests people to allow fil...

Shehan Karunatilaka, a writer who is associated with Muttiah Muralitharan’s biopic 800 starring actor Vijay Sethupathi, appealed to people to give a chance to the creators of the movie and allow them to go ahead with the movie.

Typhoon displaces thousands, floods villages in Philippines

Manila: A fast-moving typhoon fo...


Mumbai: Sensex drops 173.47 point...




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Marijuana: What brought Bollywood to its knees keeps Manipur ‘high’

The cannabis plant has been the mainstay of livelihood for many villagers in Manipur, particularly in some of the economically backward districts, for decades despite a ban on its cultivation, posing a dilemma for the government’s anti-drug drive.

Mysterious elephant deaths in Coimbatore: A Botswana in the making?

Following reports about the mass elephant deaths in Botswana, conservationists in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore are worried if a similar bacteria is causing elephant deaths here.

Toxic tales: As aspirations grow, digital India swamped by e-waste

Sitting in a small rented shop in Yarab Nagar to the south of Bangalore city, Aasha Vadivelu and four of her family members sort through dry waste every day. For the poor family that has been dependent on waste segregation for livelihood for decades, things are turning for the better in the last few years. A rapid rise in mobile phone usage and ...

What gag orders on media in sexual abuse trials take away

Although trials in sexual harassment/rape cases have been generally held in-camera as stipulated under section 327(2) of CrPC, some argue that that the blanket ban on media from reporting the trial need not necessarily help the victim always.

Socialism: Where did the dreams and promises of a just democracy go?

The biggest setback to socialism in India was the idea that social change can be initiated through caste politics, experts observe.

Uttar Pradesh: When the regime rots and the rotten rules

The slow and sickening response of police and administration is pushing India’s most-populous state into an abyss that’s darker than ever.

Govt’s progress report on beti bachao, beti padhao far from ground realities

Five years after the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme was launched by the Narendra Modi government, the state of the scheme to save the girl child remains dysfunctional at the ground level as workers battle patriarchal mindsets amid shortage of resources.

Gained in translation: A Tamil novel ‘written’ in Malayalam

Can a Tamil novel be written in Malayalam? Sounds baffling but seems possible, if a great translator can give the readers a work beyond the language in which it was written and yet retain the original essence. “A translation should always reflect the spirit of the author’s original work and that should be the thumb rule of every translator,” say...

Virtual marathon: When every mile is worth the while

As the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a ‘standstill’ with mass-participation events either postponed or cancelled, organisers of prestigious marathons across the world decided to hold virtual marathons instead.

I am a farmer. And I have something to say. Would you care to listen?

If the government really cares about us farmers, then it should first give them food security or assure minimum support price (MSP) doesn't go.

When 2 Kerala farmers took on Adani Group and won a legal battle

On April 15, 2009, farmers Rajan and PP Baby were surprised to see hundreds of trucks unloading sand in a field adjacent to their land in Kizhakkambalam in Ernakulam district of Kerala, an eastern suburb of Kochi. But the two, who also happened to be CPI(M) activists, were busy with the Lok Sabha elections that were being held in the state the next...

The sea that lay between Pa Singaram and literary world’s indifference

Set against the backdrop of the Second World War, Pa Singaram’s novels are some of the earliest known literature on Tamil migrants and seafarers.

Lights out: The dark truth behind coal mine accidents

Considering that miners work in hazardous working conditions in a high-risk sector, safety is always a concern, say experts and activists.

The pandemic of suppression is peaking and how

Apart from suppressing facts, the Centre is also being accused of rushing through its contentious policies at a time when the scope of protests and stakeholders interventions has been severely constrained by the pandemic.

Hindi row: How Periyar, Anna continue to inspire the language of resistance

While Periyar wrote and spoke against Hindi based on the social events of the time, Annadurai made it a political issue amid agitations in Tamil Nadu.

COVID casualty: What movie theatres taught us about loving and living life

For a regular movie goer, visiting a cinema hall is like being in a dream, where reality is forgotten and imagination is brought to life. But that came to a stop during this lockdown.

From rasoi to rozgaar, SHG workers kept the boat afloat

Soon after the government announced its first lockdown in March this year, the biggest worry for Veena KS, a farm labourer, was how to repay the loan of Rs 1.5 lakh borrowed by the self-help group run by her. Veena and 10 other women, part of Siddapaji women self-help group, had borrowed the money for self-employment and household expenditure. W...

Taken for granted, anganwadi workers are made to walk the extra mile

Thousands of families across the state whose children were given nutritious midday meals at school, but had to lose out on them due to the pandemic lockdown, received raw supplies through the anganwadi centres.

Could Project Dolphin be India’s great leap to save the endangered species?

With the number of dolphins going down, spotting of the species is becoming rarer and rarer, ironically sprouting a tourism industry on dolphin sightings in various parts of India.

Usually in high spirits, Kerala’s love for toddy is wearing off

Once a favourite of the locals in Kerala, toddy consumption has been seeing a steady decline over the years, thanks to many factors, including a decline in interest among the youths of today.

Remembering Bharathiyar: When poetry met the common man’s fight for freedom

Poet Subramania Bharathiyar is a common thread that brings together Tamils across the world, as his works still kindle a fire in everybody.

Madigas’ fight for equitable quota benefits shows caste still rules in India

Till date, the reservation benefits under the Scheduled Caste category has been skewed against the Madigas in Karnataka and Andhra.

Struggles of African-origin Siddis expose India’s ‘black lives matter’ pretence

Most Siddis still reside in the forests, surviving on agriculture and minor forest produce. One of the reasons for that, according to the community, is racial discrimination.

Godavari-Cauvery river linking: Tamil Nadu’s pipedreams and ground realities

But are such mega river-linking projects enough to solve the woes of people like Kannan? Both environmentalists and engineers beg to differ.

The PUBG ban and the gaming of the Indian market

Seen from the industry-specific perspective, the Indian government's ban on 118 games and apps with “Chinese links” certainly appears arbitrary.

‘Mor’ than meets the eye: The making of the Modi iconography

When the carefully choreographed pictures of Prime Minister Modi feeding peacocks and geese at his official residence were released last week, it was greeted with the usual hoopla.

Why the rice bowl in Kerala is shrinking

From 7.6 lakh hectares in 1955-60, the area under paddy cultivation in Kerala has come down to just 2.5 lakh hectares in 2018-19.

What ails Tagore’s abode of peace, Santiniketan?

Beneath the veneer of soothing vista of mango grove, Rabindranath Tagore's Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan is gradually slipping into an abyss.

How uncertainty amid COVID-19 is hurting JEE, NEET aspirants

S Kavi Darshini, an 18-year-old girl who has completed her Class 12 from a government school in Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu, is full of anxiety these days as she doesn’t know how she will attend the NEET exam on September 13 at the exam centre in Coimbatore, which is over 300 km away from her house. “Though the restrictions on travelling ...

The op-ed space is shrinking in Hindi newspapers and what it means

Greater awareness of healthy nativism and regionalism, especially at the grassroots, can lead to a brighter future for the Hindi press.

Travelling to normalcy: It’s one small trip at a time

As governments and the industry look to revive tourism, a survey has revealed that 75 per cent of the respondents were concerned about health and safety.

How the uncharted hills of Chhattisgarh are navigating the pandemic

Tucked in a remote corner of Chhattisgarh, tribal Abujhmad is largely insulated from the tapestry of modernity, and as a result COVID-19 too.

How the poor and backward battle a skewed higher education system

Thousands of youths from backward and marginalised communities are waging many battles on the financial, social and political fronts to access higher education.

Ravaged by the pandemic, cities are trying to reboot

Throughout history, pandemics and plagues have targeted cities as if it was nature’s wrath for the destruction that cities have wrought on nature, killing its rivers and trees.

How deep has BJP’s ‘Ram baan’ stung Bengal

Several centuries after 15th century Bengali poet Krittibas Ojha tried to mainstream Rama in Bengal by depicting him as a devotee of Durga, another movement is now being launched to reinvent the mythical hero in the state.

The tale of a dying beach in Kerala

By the time the world comes back to normalcy after the COVID-19 shock, Shanghumukham beach in Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram would become a memory.

Facebook’s lack of control on fake news, hate messages lighting the matchstick

While Facebook has bowed down to governments in other countries after causing violence and riots, its content moderation is yet to raise alarm in India.

Tiger conservation doesn’t need eviction of tribals

Without the tribal people’s support, tiger conservation cannot be achieved, and so dialogues need to continue rather than evicting locals, and the community participation initiatives and tiger numbers are proof of that.

What it means to treat mental illness amid COVID-19

The wards in the Institute of Mental Health, Chennai, for the mentally challenged are a revelation, that challenge general perceptions about people with mental issues

Roja and the making of a whole new generation of nationalists

Wittingly or not, Mani Ratnam’s acclaimed film Roja, released on August 15, 1992, about a woman's battle to get her abducted husband back from Kashmiri terrorists set the trend for more such one-sided ‘patriotic’ movies.

Assam fire: 3 months on, villagers caught in OIL’s ‘smokescreen’

For nearly three months, a fire has been raging at OIL's natural gas field in Assam's Baghjan, leaving thousands of people homeless, their crops and cattle destroyed and the ecology affected.

Who is an Assamese? Panel report raises more questions than answers

In a latest ‘revolt’ to Centre’s ‘betrayal’, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) released a confidential report prepared by a government-appointed high-level committee to answer the question ‘who is an Assamese’.

In the digital education race, many are yet to start

Meera Crasta (name changed), a class 9 student of a private English medium school in Bangalore, has a harrowing time every time she sits for online classes. All her classes are available online on Doordarshan’s Youtube channel but they are in Kannada. The Tamil-origin girl who has limited knowledge of Kannada and has taken up studies in English ...

While you’re having lockdown blues, life’s pretty dope for some

While the COVID-19 lockdown was a morose affair for most, illegal drug users continued to live a high life, albeit at a higher cost.

BJP’s Bengal blueprint threatens the hegemony of ‘bhadralok’

The Matua community in West Bengal, with their influential population, holds a strong political base that the BJP and Trinamool look to tap.

Assam floods: ‘The challenge is twice the size of Brahmaputra’

The devastation caused by the floods in Assam is terrible. This year alone, more than 56 lakh people were affected in 30 of the 33 districts since May and 109 persons have died.

How these Kashmiri women are struggling to spread BJP’s message in the Valley

Despite some Kashmiri women standing by BJP, issues like lockdown, internet blockade and domicile law are bound to affect the party.

Black magic and Bengalis: The wicked narrative against women

It was early morning and a road trip from Delhi to Shimla looked inviting enough to make Arumita Mitra slip into a dreamy nap inside the car. Outside, the sun was shining bright and the trees were swaying gently. Arumita was not alone in the car. A young couple, Arumita’s close acquaintances, and their 10-month-old baby were also travelling along w...

Law and disorder: How Yogi raj pushed UP deeper into hellhole

Crime stories topping news headlines headlines over the past week speaks volumes about the law and order situation in Uttar Pradesh under Yogi Adityanath, an alien insider in the Sangh Parivar, who was pitchforked into chief ministership by the RSS.

How Venkatram’s epic novel mixed humour, hallucination and sex

Tamil writer MV Venkatram's almost-autobiographical novel Kaathugal (Ears) is one of the most poignant works describing hallucination in detail.

How India’s ‘drone boy’ crash-landed

From a high of fame, 'drone' Prathap had a hard crash as his claims of having built drones and won international awards were exposed.

Mars rover: It’s finally time for Nasa’s Perseverance to pay off

NASA’s latest rover Perseverance will be launched towards Mars on July 30, 4:50 pm IST (4:50 am PDT) from Space Launch Complex 41 in Florida.

Digital divide exposes India’s neglect of tribal students

Sixteen-year-old Sreedevi has to walk at least 5 km from her home in Poochukottamparai tribal settlement in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupur district just to get a workable mobile phone signal. Sreedevi recently made headlines after scoring 95 per cent in her Class 10 board exams and became the first one from the forest-dwelling Muduvar tribal community to ...

What profiling of govt staff means for Naga society

In the Kenye family in Kohima, there is a much-shared joke they often laugh over: “What goes on and on and on? A gossipmonger’s tongue and the Naga peace process." Unfortunately, they say, this joke will never get old or die. Recent developments in the state have once again given the Kenye family reasons to believe so. The state government, at t...

The many Karthiks of Tamil cinema

What’s in a name? Well, a lot if it's a Tamil film and the hero goes by the name of Karthik. While Rahul happens to be the textbook hero of millennial romance in Bollywood, Karthik wields the same sway, if not more, over Kollywood filmmakers and their audience. This perhaps became more pronounced with Mani Rathnam's Alaipayuthey (2000). Since th...

Mohun Bagan-ATK merger: Will the end of an era kick off a new beginning?

In the early 2000s when Mohun Bagan was struggling to raise funds to sign Brazilian footballer Jose Ramirez Barreto, a fanatic fan mortgaged his house to arrange the money. For over a century the grand-old club Mohun Bagan Athletic Club -- commonly popular as just Mohun Bagan -- had been essentially run as a public institution dependent on the g...

Silk rout: COVID, Chinese imports take the shine off Indian silk

About 50 km from Bengaluru, on the way to Mysore, lies the Ramanagara silk cocoon market, one of the largest in Asia. Farmers from across Karnataka gather here to sell their produce through a bidding process. They arrange the cocoons in the bins allocated, as per different grades and qualities. Reelers who reel the cocoons together to produce si...

How the pallbearers of grief are shouldering death and despair

The coronavirus forced funeral rituals in India to undergo dramatic changes as many families refused to perform the last rites of their relatives over the fear of the spread of the virus.

Call of duty: How Haryana punches above its weight in the Army

It’s not just young men from Haryana who are enamoured with the Indian Army, brave women too have pulled their weight in the forces.

Chennai chutzpah: When the city labels migrants as ‘traitors’

The criticism against migrants leaving Chennai city seems unjustified as experts believe most of the city's population comprises settlers from outside and it is outsiders who built the city.

Rain or shine, IMD has been under the weather for a long time now

IMD’s repeated failures have given a leeway to private weather monitoring companies to come up, with a number of state governments hiring private agencies to firm up their plans.

Oscars: How Senthil Kumar’s Qube Cinema changed the Indian film industry

Senthil Kumar and his ventures Qube Cinema and Media Artists Centre have been working behind the scenes silently to ensure the Indian film industry's shift to digital.

Italian marines case: How the UN court order leaves India at sea

The Permanent Court of Arbitration's ruling that the two Italian marines cannot be tried in India is a severe blow to the country, feel experts.

Kolkata’s love for Chinese-Indians is limited to the cuisine

Since the first recorded Chinese settler, Tong Atchew in the 18th century, the Chinese community in Kolkata has grown considerably, although they have lost touch with their homeland and speak little Mandarin.

Unchecked, unquestioned, police atrocities continue

According to NCRB data, between 2001 and 2018 as many as 1,727 people have died in police and judicial custody.

Toy story: As ‘boycott China’ chorus grows, hopes revive for Channapatna ...

Channapatna toys, made of ivory wood, has a long history tracing back to the times of Tipu Sultan, and has been accorded the geographical indication tag.

TV set for change, courtesy COVID-19 break

The audience's shift to OTT during this COVID-19 lockdown will bring about a big change in TV content, feel some experts.

New domicile law amplifies anxiety over demography in J&K

Some experts believe the government has brought the domicile to disempower the permanent residents politically and economically.

Siddha: Understanding the science and history behind mysterious cures

Siddhars were the earliest known medical professionals who discovered a particular form of medicine from the forests and mountains, which is now known as Siddha.

Nabanna vs Raj Bhavan: Inside the murky corridors of power in Bengal

One loses count of the number of occasions West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar engaged in a war of words with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her government since taking oath as Governor on July 31 last year.

Contract farming needs more than an ordinance

While from the outside, contract farming may seem a success story where the farmers were better off compared to their peers, there were issues.

COVID-19 vaccine soon? Why you need to keep the mask on for now

Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin, an inactivated virus vaccine for novel coronavirus, is a sweet respite coming amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in India.

A Ladakhi royal family fighting Chinese land grab since 1980s

The erstwhile royal Dorje family has lost their ancestral property, a heritage castle in Chabji to the Chinese while another one in Chumur area has been made out of bounds as it falls in the border buffer zone.

How lockdown spun medical nightmares for expectant mothers

Sometime in May, Promilla Devi, who was 32 weeks pregnant, visited a healthcare centre in Jharkhand’s Bokaro district with complaints of heavy bleeding. Suspecting it to be a case of placenta previa — low lying placenta — the healthcare centre run by Jan Chetna Manch sent her to the Sadar Hospital in Bokaro since it has an ultrasound machine, 24x7 ...

Keeladi: What makes Tamil Nadu keep digging deeper

Although Tamil Nadu has had quite a few excavations over many years, only a few like Arikamedu and Keeladi come to mind immediately.

Lockdown leaves handloom weavers hanging by a thread

The art of handicrafts and handlooms has overcome all kinds of hardships over the years. Hopefully, it will continue to preserve itself.

How COVID-19 turned big celebrations of life into small mercies

COVID-19 has brought the world to its knees, and created a new normal for almost all. What used to be big fat Greek affairs have seen a minimalist, stick-to-essentials makeover, especially special moments in life, weddings, birth of newborns, or even normal phases of life, like a career leap.

The butterfly chase in India is turning exciting. Here’s how

Rapid urbanisation and development have eroded the habitats of many animal, plant and insect species. Butterflies are no exception. That's why conservation efforts in this regard is a welcome change, even from urban spaces.

When a vibrant Kashmir is painted in radical colours

Cinema and alcohol have always attracted controversy in Jammu and Kashmir, with reasons being linked to political discourse and social sensibilities than to perceived radicalism or intolerance.

Athirappilly project: When people’s persistence can win the good fight

For villagers living in Athirappilly-Vazhachal region in Kerala’s Thrissur district and opposing the proposed Athirappilly hydroelectric project for over three decades, the tide in Chalakudy river is turning, albeit sluggishly.

Riding back in time as Atlas cycles slam on the brakes

Bhumika Sharma was flicking through a book in her study when she received a notification on her smartphone: “Atlas Cycle (Haryana) Ltd is closing its operations on June 3.” A rush of childhood memories started flashing before her eyes — how she would pedal 10 km from her village to her school in Sonipat city. “I am a lecturer at Sonipat’s GVM Co...

Our identity, legacy at stake in India-China face-off: Galwan family

For the Galwan family, the contested valley is at the core of their happiness and prosperity. They fear that if China won’t retreat from Galwan Valley, India may lose a strategic location and territory but the Galwans would lose the fulcrum of their existence, legacy and dreams.

Beyond Paatal Lok, the pain and progress of transgender people in Manipur

Paatal Lok, the nine-episode Amazon Prime series, breaks stereotypes about transgender people, with the role being played by a transgender person.

In the heartland of Changpas, brand ‘Ladakh’ battles Beijing’s belligerence

Changpas rear their livestock in eastern Ladakh’s limited and almost barren pasture lands, which the Chinese troops have been slowly encroaching.

Peddling food myths in the time of pandemic

Given the fear that comes with this pandemic, people tend to believe in ‘WhatsApp forwards’ that perpetuate food myths surrounding coronavirus.

Online classes in ‘digital India’ raise more questions than answers

The most common reason for not being able to attend online classes was not having access to a separate smartphone and network connection.

Dry taps water down COVID-19 battle in Chennai slums

It is portrayed as if there is no water scarcity in the city. Maybe the government will initiate some measures only if the rich get affected and are left without water.

Yesterday’s Gulabo, today’s Sitabo: Amitabh Bachchan as metaphor for India

Amitabh Bachchan’s cinematic odyssey is a metaphor for India. He has, like Forrest Gump, not just been present as a witness to several social, cultural and political transformations, but has had the good fortune — and the bad luck — to have been part of them, sometimes as the leading man, sometimes as the side actor, and once or twice as the sidekick.

How Indians are targeting LGBTQ+ community with ‘conversion therapy’

Despite the Supreme Court decriminalising homosexuality, the LGBTQ+ community is largely stigmatised and face persecution, even at the hands of families.

COVID-19: For Mizoram’s lost Jews, ‘promised land’ and kin seem farther away

In the wake of the pandemic and the ensuing financial hardship, Jewish organisations from Mexico, USA and Israel are sending aid to the Bnei Menashe community in Mizoram and Manipur. 

How app-based lenders are harassing, sucking borrowers dry

Thousands of customers have fallen prey to lending apps which are misusing data, overcharging customers and taking advantage of the digital illiteracy.

Beyond ‘Kerala model’, there is a lot to learn from Shailaja Teacher

It was due to Shailaja teacher's tireless efforts that the ‘Kerala model’ is today recognised as an effective anti-COVID strategy, not only by the country but around the world.

As cities unlock, fate of migrant workers in gig jobs remains locked

With the lockdown being relaxed in phases, many believe that the gig economy will be back to normal sooner than later and help migrant workers earn their livelihood.

Family portrait of novel coronavirus reveals a new type in India

While largely the coronavirus has been classified into two superclades, A and B, referring to Europe and South Asian origins respectively, a new variant has been found in India

Disability: 30 yrs after Anjali, Indian cinema is as cold and indifferent as ever

Anjali (1990) is a celebrated Tamil film made by the ace director Mani Ratnam that still continues to evoke a special attachment in many even now.

How hate-mongers turned a man-animal conflict into a Hindu-Muslim turf war

Malappuram, the only Muslim majority district in Kerala has often been referred as a ‘mini-Pakistan’. The reality, however, is far from these myths created outside Kerala.

As virus eclipses life, get set for a shadow play between sun and moon

The earth is set to eclipse the moon from the sun’s glare on the night of June 5, and it will be the second lunar eclipse this year.

Delta of decay: Human folly, nature’s fury ravage the Sunderbans

For nature’s fury, people of the delta in Sunderbans in West Bengal could not escape their share of blame and the worst is yet to come, believe many.

Bursting at the seams, urban slums became soft targets for coronavirus

Most places in Chennai where a high number of COVID-19 cases were found have been traced to densely populated slum settlements.

Coronavirus deepens rural reporting crisis in India

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, many newspapers have run into losses and due to this, rural news reporting has taken a big hit.

Eat, pray and stay at home: COVID-19 has unleveled the playing field

Unable to practise and maintain fitness levels, and with uncertainty looming over events, whether state-level, national or international, including the Olympics, sportspersons fear a loss of competitiveness, opportunities and other benefits, including jobs.

Shramik Specials: Train to hell and back

A common refrain of migrant workers from across the country is that boarding the special Shramik train has become akin to winning a lottery.

Grit and compassion: How women are tackling strongman-led COVID-19 fight

Indian women have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, and it has borne successful results for all to see.

Is it the end of the great American education dream?

Clouds of uncertainty looming over admission processes, academic schedules and financial aid at the US campuses, growing visa restrictions and job losses have hit aspirants very hard.

How lockdown has hit tribal communities and forest dwellers

Lockdown restrictions have affected tribal communities and forest dwellers, whose livelihood depend on collecting and selling forest produce.

How Koyambedu market became a COVID-19 super-spreader

Panic gripped Inbaraj when the police took scores of daily wage labourers engaged in loading and unloading vegetables and fruits from Chennai’s Koyambedu market for COVID-19 testing in early May. Since the lockdown was imposed on March 24, the scene at Asia’s largest perishable goods market had been scary. He has been striving hard for a meal. “...

Community radios going vocal about local issues, fight to stay alive

Community radios rise to the occasion during every disaster and go vocal about local issues at other times, but now they fight to stay alive.

On Eid eve, Ramzan is unusually quiet and sombre

Muslims across the country are adapting to the crisis but it has been hard for them to accept the new normal, especially in not having the mosque as their centre of rallying point during Ramzan.

For Indian expats returning home, COVID’s shattered a dream too many

For S Suresh, a server working in a Dubai bar, life had gotten better since he left his native Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. “Since I was given food, accommodation and a decent pay, I always felt safe to be here, instead of looking back at my native.” But the novel coronavirus struck, forcing the bar to shut, leaving the daily-wage earner without a ...

Back in their villages, only hope for migrants is UPA-era MNREGA

More than any long term measures, the migrant workers seeking immediate relief after their recent nightmarish experience are pinning their hope on the MNREGA, once ridiculed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a living monument of the failure of the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government.

On his birthday, let’s see the world through Ruskin Bond’s window

Sitting at an altitude of 7,000 ft, a tiny space has become home to India’s celebrated author Ruskin Bond who’s turning 86 today (May 19).

The invisible women in the sea of migrant labourers

The word ‘migrant’ in the time of coronavirus lockdown conjures up images of tired, desolate men walking hundreds of kilometres trying to evade hunger and misery. However, women migrants who are either on their own or with their families, remain largely invisible as they quietly brave the transient times in the face of the pandemic. For 45-year-...

From telegram to e-mail, how India Post managed to remain relevant

Post offices have evolved over the ages to cater to the new needs of the new ages, but experts feel it could have become local internet service provider and acted like moving ATMs, especially in a time of crisis like this.

OTTs are replacing multiplexes and lockdown isn’t the only reason

OTT platforms give the option of watching any film through any medium. The films can be viewed on smartphones, TV, desktops or laptops.

Migrant workers: Labour without liberty

Experts believe that he decision of states to amend labour laws will be a body blow to the working class, especially migrant workers, and that taking the ordinance route for this was unconstitutional.

Covid-19 ‘infects’ administrations with new zeal, but for how long?

It took a pandemic to rouse the administration to ensure basic necessities for the marginalised and act against violations of law.

When liquor withdrawal in lockdown pushes tipplers to the edge

After 40 days of lockdown, the serpentine queues outside liquor shops across the country, disregarding social distancing norms, became a telling sign of the importance of alcohol consumption for thousands and the extent of addiction, even when a pandemic like COVID-19 was close on heels.

A conversation with Gandhiji in the time of coronavirus pandemic

What would Gandhiji who lived a century ago have to say to us as we negotiate the coronavirus pandemic in modern times?

Behind the wheel of an ambulance: Steering hope amid despair

For ambulance drivers on COVID-19 duty, they have to protect themselves fully and be ready anytime to transport patients to hospitals and back even as they navigate problems and face a high risk of contracting the disease.

How to bridge the gaping digital divide in India

Internet infrastructural support and access to information continue to be crucial in supporting our underserved populations in these critical times.

Anti-microbial resistance: When microbes get the better of humans

Antibiotic resistance is putting achievements of modern medicine at risk as life-saving activities such as organ transplantations and chemotherapy.

MSMEs struggle as migrant workers look to leave for home

Migrant workers say they would return from their homes only after there is clarity about the situation and the future. “We will leave now and will decide about coming back after a few months.”

Making the most during COVID-19 crisis

Companies in the edtech, foodtech, healthcare, telecom and OTT sectors have seen an uptick in demand even as others lost out, dragged down by a slow economic growth and coronavirus lockdown.

How the post-coronavirus world will look like

Everything was planned. And then nothing made sense anymore. The most disruptive event in our lives happened — COVID-19. As a bunch of individuals who’ve been predicting how people think and how their purchases can be influenced, we thought we could spend this time thinking about what the post-corona world would be like. We are not economists or...

Chithirai Thiruvizha: Missing Meenakshi’s wedding

One of the grandest of festivals in Tamil Nadu, the Chithirai Thiruvizha associated with Meenakshi Sundareswara temple, this time has been cancelled owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Citizens care: How volunteers teamed up to feed the hungry

It is the job of the government to take care of all its citizens, both rich and poor. Those in power should not become complacent just because some citizens have taken upon themselves to help these people.

Arunachal gets its first ICU as Covid-19 exposes NE’s health woes

Apart from Assam, most of the northeastern states have poor healthcare infrastructure, that leaves them exposed in the battle against COVID-19.

Taken for granted, nurses are overworked and underpaid

“I mutter a prayer every time I enter the COVID-19 ward in the hospital,” says Saroja (name changed), a 49-year-old nurse on COVID-19 duty in a tertiary government hospital in Chennai. The fear of contracting the virus lingers although she has 25 years’ experience and like nurses across the country, she has gone through the drill about precautio...

Sanitation workers: ‘COVID-19 or not, our lives are at risk every day’

Right next to a containment zone in Uttar Pradesh's Noida, a towering high-rise apartment complex with more than 1,100 flats houses a dirty secret. And Usha Devi, a sanitation worker, has been one of the many keepers of that secret for a couple of years now. Rain or shine, mahamari (epidemic) or Mahashivratri, her God, she says, has never been merc...

Truth be told, masks expose the hidden face

When the world goes back to being 'normal' (if ever), perhaps we will have mastered the art of being vulnerable, perhaps we will have understood that nothing lasts for ever, that power crumbles easily, that life is fragile, that love is precious.

COVID-19: For lab technicians, it’s a litmus test

With India scaling up the tests for COVID-19, the limited number of testers in the country are racing against time to identify cases quickly and prevent further spread of the contagious virus.

Like oil, the US may be worth a lot less in a post-corona world

The oil sell-off and potential demise of shale companies is a big threat to US. In post-corona world, it may have a diminished stature in geopolitics.

Police diary: ‘You either die a hero or a villain’

For constable Bittu Singh (name changed), a childhood memory has remained etched into his mind like words on a tombstone. Bittu, along with his elder bother and friends, was playing cricket in the lane leading to their red-brick house with a leaking tin roof in Uttar Pradesh’s Azamgarh district. Suddenly an argument ensued over a missed wicket a...

Doctors, the soldiers in the war against COVID-19

By the end of March, Anand (name changed) would have completed his graduation in medicine (MBBS). But in the middle of the month, he and his batchmates at Thanjavur Medical College Hospital in Tamil Nadu received a message that thrust them into the frontline of a crisis. “We were told that we will be on a month-long duty till April 28 in the COV...

Contact tracing, hotspots and plodding through sewers: Cholera in Bangalore 1895

During the cholera outbreak in Bangalore in 1895, there was then, as now, a constant battle between faith and reason, both in India and the UK.

Lockdown and loneliness: Lessons from literature

The COVID-19 lockdown has brought about a certain kind of loneliness among humans, but loneliness is a basic trait of human beings and it has been captured in literature in different languages through the ages.

How the pandemic has hit the hands that feed India

Farmers in many parts of Assam, Bengal and other states too are facing problems in harvesting and transporting their produce due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Locked down, migrant workers are running out of hope

With no future to look forward to, migrant workers stranded in relief camps in other states yearn to go home. “From there we can make a fresh start," they say.

COVID-19 stigma: Indians have distanced themselves from rationality

A society devoid of rationalists will continue to invoke superstitious beliefs and practices. This gets amplified when top political leaders attach everything to mythology and vedas and puranas.

The scramble for COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges ahead

Research institutions across the world, from China to US to India have commenced development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus and COVID-19.

What India’s wobbly healthcare system needs to survive future crises

In the wake of the COVID-19, experts believe the Indian healthcare system needs a major revamp to deal with future pandemics of this scale.

COVID-19: The wild are back to life, for now

The lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19 has brought about a temporary relief to elements of nature, especially the wildlife which plays a great role in running our ecosystem.

Indian Muslims battle Islamophobia amid COVID-19

What seems to be keeping the vilification of Muslims afire on social media and on the ground is the coverage of the pandemic, from a communal angle, by many news media outlets.

COVID-19 is changing consumer behaviour and how

The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown is changing consumption patterns of people and may have a long-lasting impact on certain industries.

How smallpox once pockmarked Bengal’s puja calendar  

As Basanti Puja passed off quietly in the state, it left many in Bengal, like everywhere else, in a state of daze and disbelief. Could this be the last spring and celebration?

For COVID-19 cure, WHO unites nations for global study

As the coronavirus is new, it is not surprising that there are no drugs against it. At present, the treatment for COVID-19 is primarily supportive care, including ventilation if necessary.

COVID-19: Reel-life apocalypses feel so real now

Cinema often reflects society but some filmmakers have gone the other way and projected an imagined future. Based partly on science and partly on fiction, these films remain just films until an imagined scenario becomes real.

Lockdown has outed the dirty little secret of modern Indian households

With COVID-19 lockdown forcing people to work from home, a hidden sexism has been exposed, thanks to the lack of domestic helps, which leaves women in the house to be expected to do all household chores and also her office work.

Eat sweets, sleep, repeat: Story behind Bengal’s sugar rush amid COVID-19

On the afternoon of March 31, retired bank employee Sudip Dasgupta hopped into his neighbourhood sweet shop in South Kolkata’s Jadavpur area as the state government allowed a four-hour window to tickle the taste buds of sweet-toothed Bengalis. Armed with a face mask and a jhola, the 67-year-old rushed to get his favourite dessert —  mishti doi (...

Slum dwellers worry job loss, price rise will break their backs before COVID-19 gets ...

Government will have to generate employment like beedi rolling, incense stick manufacturing, tailoring, among others to keep the informal settlers engaged, according to experts.

COVID-19 has unmasked India — the poor are on their own

Unfortunately for the poor, the Coronavirus continues to chase them as barriers have come up in their own villages, which wish to safeguard them against the impending disease.

What simple mathematics can tell us about coronavirus

As on March 26, 2020, the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID19) has killed 18,589, and infected 4,16,686. Every minute, the virus is claiming more lives. Before we are convinced of the savagery of the novel coronavirus pandemic, let us look in comparison, say, the deaths caused by road accidents. The epicentre of the novel coronavirus, China, has...

With COVID-19, we also face a ‘pandemic’ of anxiety

A pandemic is not a public health issue alone — but economic and social as well. Incorporating cultural and social aspects into the scientific efforts by public health authorities coupled with people’s support can go a long way in fighting coronavirus.

Coronavirus sparks xenophobia against Chinese, Northeast Indians

Du Fengyan, 35, a Chinese from Beijing arrived in Mumbai, India on January 29, a day before India reported its first coronavirus case in Kerala. The airport authorities had screened him for the virus and had cleared him. As Fengyan toured the maximum city for a week, staying out of a hostel, little did he know what was in store for him, as the n...

Coronavirus: It’s critical to understand the science to avoid the frenzy

Like seasonal flu, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is a respiratory disease. About 80% of infected persons will recover on their own, not even needing a visit to a doctor.

In times of pandemic, India’s R&D begs for attention

The COVID-19 crisis is attracting the best expertise from around the world to find solutions. But India has many other problems of its own, and will have more in the future, which require all the homegrown expertise we can get.

Behind the scenes: Indian TV’s ‘good bahu, bad bahu’ sagas

Dressed in chiffons, eyes highlighted with kohl and a long bindi on the forehead, she is often scheming about how to bring down the other woman — the female protagonist, who is angelic and sacrificial. If you have already guessed that this is the antagonist of popular Hindi soap operas from the stables of Ekta Kapoor and her spawns, you won’t be di...

Coronavirus is not man-made, only the rumours are

By analysing the public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2, researchers have convincingly concluded that "SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus", putting to rest all suspicions of bio-weapon gone astray.

Coronavirus is curbing carbon emissions, but for how long?

For Siva Kumar, 28, a management professional working for a China-based cross-border e-commerce firm, seeing his fellow Chinese colleagues flying down to Bengaluru every month was a routine. They visited Bengaluru for the company’s monthly review meetings. But since January, the travel restrictions placed across countries due to the novel corona...

CAA, NRC: BJP’s ‘Bangladeshi termites’ rant is now gnawing at India...

Dhaka, like its ethnic cousin Kolkata, is known for street protests and agitations. But even going by its own track records, the large-scale mass demonstrations Bangladesh’s capital witnessed earlier this month were unprecedented. The Islamists, as well as the secularists, were on the streets, for once, over the same cause — to oppose participat...

As coronavirus ploughs through life, COVID-19 threatens globalised world order

It is not often that one gets to act in a Hollywood movie, or for that matter, any movie anywhere. Today, in 2020 CE, the entire world appears to be “acting” in a classic Hollywood blockbuster where entire cities and even countries are in varying degrees of a lockdown marked by deserted streets, empty malls and humans dressed in white, moving, as i...

Is rightist Draupathi turning Dravidian Tamil cinema on its head?

Experts believe that one caste film like Draupathi will not have much impact on people and says it is wrong to think that Tamil Nadu is turning right.

After SC lifts RBI ban, crypto startups see a sliver of hope

Cryptocurrency experts say the government does not see technology as disruptive but perceive it as a threat to the banking culture and so seek to ban it.

Inside BJP’s hate message factory

Considering that the BJP leaders themselves engage in hate speeches, spreading misinformation and rumours continuously, the act of not condemning the posts on these party-monitored groups comes as no surprise. They let such content flow freely without any technological possibility of moderating them.

When violation cannot be justified as artistic manipulation

Acclaimed director Anjali Menon says not informing actress Rekha, who was a minor then, about the kiss (with Kamal Haasan in Punnagai Mannan) meant transgression of body rights.

Meghalaya: How CAA reignited the ethnic cauldron

In the wake of the recent violence in Meghalaya triggered by the anti-CAA protests, the fact remains that the perceived threat to tribal rights in Meghalaya is often amplified, as their interests are well protected by job reservation and land rights.

How a photo archive in Puducherry helps retrieve stolen idols

The French Institute of Pondicherry has over 1.7 lakh archived photographs of idols and temple art, recorded over a 60-year period since 1955, which has come to the help of police tracing missing or stolen idols in several Tamil Nadu temples.

An astronomer’s telegram: A bright red star Betelgeuse is dying

When Betelgeuse collapses and goes supernova, it would appear brighter than a half-moon for more than a hundred days

Ban and beauty: Unfair colour bias runs deep within

Being dark-skinned has always been looked down upon as a disadvantage, as fairness ads harped on the obsession to encourage brides and career women.

When social media runs riot, and paves the mob way

If, say, WhatsApp makes one pause for 30 seconds to check whether the information is unverified or asks the user to exercise caution while forwarding messages or while posting inflammatory speeches, the hatred one spreads can be reduced, feel experts.

Books to films: When a writer loses rights and is left in lurch

Writers, including the Jnanpith awardee, have been treated mercilessly by filmmakers who promise to adapt novels and books, only to give them the slip.

Trump’s visit had all the smoke but little fire

Only the politically very naïve would have thought that the American President’s visit to India would have set either the Potomac or the Indian Ocean on fire. But from the time Donald Trump and his delegation set foot in Ahmedabad, there was no doubt that the 45th President of the United States and his family that included the First Lady, Daughter ...

Waste wars: Hospitals need to manage biomedical trash

Waste management is beyond just data and adherence to the rules and regulations. It has to be supported by appropriate education, training, commitment of healthcare staff at the grassroots level.

The divine truth behind ‘Hinduisation’ of tribes in Arunachal

Look-alikes of Hindu deities have burgeoned across Arunachal Pradesh as efforts are being made to formalise the indigenous religions of various tribes of the state in a bid to thwart the growing influence of Christianity, which emerged as the largest religion of the state, as per the 2011 Census

Breakfast scheme at schools: TN govt is serving an old recipe on a new platter

The Tamil Nadu government's noon meal scheme is surrounded by a controversy in the state over its decision to tie up with Akshaya Patra, which removed onion and garlic from the ingredients.

Parai attam: Drumming up change was not easy, but it’s happening

On a February Friday, in an unassuming alley outside a marriage hall in Madurai, two kids break into a jig in tune with the beating of the drums. Inside the hall, the coy bride is waiting for her groom, her heart beating hard. As guests start crowding the venue, both her heartbeats and the sound of the drums grow louder. By now, even passersby coul...

Despite PoSH, sexual predators continue to lurk in workplaces

Despite POSH Act in place to deal with and deter sexual harassment at workplaces, crimes continue to take place in offices with impunity due to the lack of effective implementation of the law on the ground.

AI isn’t unbiased because humans are biased

“Machine Bias”, screamed the headlines. The tagline said, "There's software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it's biased against blacks." In a revealing exposé in 2016, ProPublica, a US-based Pulitzer Prize-winning non-profit news organisation, analysed the software known as COMPAS used by US courts and police to forecast...

Chasing cheetahs: A conservation effort or misplaced priority?

Compared to other big cats, cheetahs are smaller in size. But it is the fastest land animal on the planet and has never had any conflict with humans.

From coal to solar: How India’s energy transition is caught in a fog

All the power generated by solar plants around afternoon is consumed immediately whereas the peak demand is for 5pm-7 pm.

Vijay vs Ajith: Wait till the climax of this blockbuster-in-the-making

Actor Vijay's connections to politics go beyond the recent IT raids, as is evident in his films and actions outside them whereas actor Ajith has kept away from politics.

Manohar Mhatre, the last of Progressive artists

At first glance, Manohar Mhatre’s appearance belies his vast artistic legacy. At 89, he is the last standing Progressive, but is unlike any of his contemporaries. Not for him the flamboyance of MF  Husain, the brooding mysteriousness of VS Gaitonde, or the defiance of Akbar Padamsee. Mhatre’s personality, like his art, is distinctive in subtle, ...

Kallars are paying the price for a century-old crime that was never committed

By branding and constantly calling Kallars thieves, over a period of time, these people themselves started to believe that their ancestry was into robbing.

Displaced and denied: How slum dwellers are socially, economically quarantined

For most of the residents in slum sites in Chennai, relocation to resettlement sites far from their original homes means a shortage of facilities in addition to the risk of losing livelihood options.

How RSS election specialists fanned out on ground zero for BJP campaign

Specialised in prior election work, the thousands of RSS workers are given talk material and punchlines that helped take the narrative set by top leaders such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, to the doorsteps of lakhs of Delhiites.

Politics, misery and hope: Life in informal settlements amid NRC scare

On a complaint from people in the high-rises about the presence of illegal Bangladeshis, around a 100 slum dwellings were razed in Bengaluru in January, without any verification by the police.

Radhika Vemula: The journey from a victim to leader

When Radhika Vemula decided to withdraw from all forms of protests and stay-put in Guntur around mid-2018, it seemed unlikely we’d meet again in a political program. It had been more than two years since the suicide of her son Rohith Vemula in which union minister Smriti Irani, as well as her senior BJP colleagues Badaru Dattatreya and Ramachand...

Rugby in India: Starved of resources but not short of appetite

The folklore goes that schoolboy William Webb Ellis picked up the ball during a game of football in 1823 and ran with it, introducing the world to a new sport — rugby. Predominantly popular in England, France and New Zealand, the sport has been embraced by Asian countries in the last few decades. But India, from where the Calcutta Cup — the olde...

Can Ravan’s Bhim Army forge Dalit unity across India?

The world around Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan appears to be spinning very fast, like he is at the centre of a vortex. Pressure is growing from his supporters to turn the Bhim Army into a political party. According to many in his inner circle, he could launch a new national party as early as in March 2020. But given that his inner circle is very lar...

Can Nirmala Sitharaman find enough growth pills for the ailing economy?

India has been witnessing an unusual trend wherein the political temperature has remained high since the last six years. This may impact not only domestic productivity and investment but also global opportunities.

Tamil vs Sanskrit: What is God’s favourite language?

Almost 1,000 years later, the Brihadeeshwara temple and many other temples in Tamil Nadu are caught in a controversy over which language should be used to conduct the consecration — Tamil or Sanskrit.

‘Knot’ an easy job for textile weave revivalists

In 2014, when Bengaluru-based Hemalatha Jain set out to revive Patteda Anchu, a handloom weave from North Karnataka, in Gajendragarh in Gadag, she was also set for the challenges that would come with the revival of the 19th-century saree. The drape was popular among the lower and middle-class families of North Karnataka and was given as a father...

Dip in body temperatures seen in humans over the decades

A thermometer reading around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) usually means the body temperature is normal. Not any more, says Julie Parsonnet and her colleagues at Stanford University, School of Medicine.

MGNREGA: Pilferage continues as govts ignore vigilance processes

Ombudspersons are potentially a low-cost, time-effective accountability institution. They can substantially improve the quality of MGNREGA implementation by plugging leakages and suggesting improvements.

As Hindutva comes calling, Catholic church struggles with caste in Karnataka

Catholics belonging to the politically influential Vokkaliga and Golla castes have ruled Harobele village in Karnataka’s Kanakapura with an iron hand for centuries. They’ve enforced a strict caste-code ever since the first parish was established here in the year 1675. When this writer visited the village first in January 2015, a tense situation ...

The world, made to order by the US war machine

In a global system designed and controlled by the US using various means including the dollar as the sought after currency of exchange, state of the art military equipment and a huge consumer appetite to consume what the rest of the world manufactures, it seems unlikely that any country can challenge Washington’s hegemony, at least at this time.

Gaganyaan mission: Acing the Indian space dream

India is set to launch its first manned mission to space, Gaganyaan. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has already set the process in motion. But ISRO needs to be ready on 10 vital aspects before the Gaganyaan can take off.

Belur caught between philosophy and pragmatism as BJP pushes Hindutva in Bengal

The Ramakrishna Mission and Math in Belur expressed displeasure the perceived attempt by BJP's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to politicise and homogenise the pluralistic ideas of the organisation.

Why the plan to revamp Delhi’s Central Vista has raised eyebrows

The Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ordered a complete revamp of Central Vista area as per their vision for a ‘new India’ and make it a “world-class tourist destination”.

Rapist is you: Women protesters vs a macho Hindu rashtra

Blindfolded, they shouted, "The oppressive state is a rapist." "This is rape, the rapist is you". A group of women marched in coordinated rhythm, challenging what they called "hyper-masculine attitude of the state". On January 4, the busy streets of Kolkata’s Esplanade, and later Jadavpur, erupted in a fresh wave of resistance — Dhorshok Tumi-i ...

A money-making venture for cattle farmers is saving vultures from extinction in TN

To save vultures, cattle owners are encouraged not to use Diclofenac or its variants, and sell ghee made from such milk through an NGO called Arulagam.

Why JNU is misunderstood and much maligned: An insider’s account

Students who enter JNU are like other students in any university — an eclectic mix that jostle in a mini-India, brought into a level playing field.

How Congress is walking the Hindutva route in Chhattisgarh

The Congress is trying to usurp the local Hindutva legacy, even as the original proponent of Ram-politics, the BJP has promised to build a sky-kissing temple of Lord Rama in Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh.

Forgotten healers: When barbers in TN were also medicinal experts

In the 17th-18th century, hairstyling was a traditional profession taken up mostly by a community, called Ambattans, who also acted as healers following the Siddha practice.

Fund shortage, delayed payments put MGNREGA and workers in peril

Though the BJP government wished to do away with the scheme, the sheer scale of it is stopping them. In fact, the budgetary allocation and expenditure for the scheme increased year on year.

What’s worse — to be a Muslim in India or a Dalit wanting azadi from caste?

When he was 12, Kittan often fantasised sitting outside the tea stall at his village square after a hard day’s work, holding a glass tumbler full of piping hot tea and a cigarette hanging from his lips. He had just started working — assisting his father, a manual scavenger. But it didn’t take long for Kittan’s fantasy to come crashing down. “I h...

How Modi-Shah’s CAA is painfully oblivious to the plight of Dalit Muslims

Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), which began in December of the year gone by, have now taken a pan-India shape, bringing droves of people to the streets. Although the protesters have raised different concerns and demands, the exclusion of Muslims from the CAA ha...

Zia Hind! The irony of calling Faiz’s poetry anti-Hindu

The late Pakistani dictator General Zia ul-Haq would be so proud of Indians. All his life he wanted to ban Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry, calling it anti-national, anti-Islamic, and almost anti-everything. General Zia failed miserably. But he would be ecstatic his ideological scions in India have taken up the challenge of banning the poet's work, bra...

Shahbag to Shaheen Bagh: Anti-CAA protests have echoes of a secular movement in BR...

The Shahbagh Spring definitely emboldened the minorities to come out and express their opinion. The Shaheen Bagh protest, much as Shahbagh, has also given voice to the minorities, but can they reclaim the lost space in Indian politics is something that the New Year will wait to see.

Unplugged from the world, Kashmir still awaits normalcy

It’s January again. The entire world is in 2020. But Kashmir is not. As tens of thousands of people around the globe gathered along the embankments of rivers and near famous city squares to burst firecrackers to ring in the New Year, people in Kashmir kept looking at their smart mobile phones rather curiously. Of course they wanted to send New Y...

CAA: Why the Assamese feel disowned and alienated

It happened in an instant. One second, Gunajit Barua and his friends were wobbling down a somewhat placid stretch of River Brahmaputra (Siang) in the remote village of Tuting in East Arunachal Pradesh. The next, a huge wave crashed into their raft, tossing the young men in their 20s into a whirlpool of white water, leaving them hanging on for dear ...

Substance abuse: How patriarchy is stopping women from getting help

Forty-year-old Latha*, who was admitted to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), a psychiatric facility run by the Tamil Nadu government, had a tough time returning home after treatment. Initially, she was being treated for psychotic issues and after repeated questioning, her family admitted that she was addicted to alcohol. After treatment, her hu...

Covering anti-CAA protests: Price of being a Muslim journalist

The police crackdown on journalists covering the anti-CAA protests across the country has made one thing clear. The press card, a powerful tool in the hands of every journalist, offers little protection if the name on it is that of a Muslim. Dozens of journalists were hounded by the police across the country during the protests in the last few w...

How tsunami resowed resilient paddy in the farms of Nagapattinam

The tsunami of 2004, that wrought devastation along the coast of the Indian Ocean, swallowing villages, destroying farmlands and causing huge fatalities in the coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Kerala, left an indelible mark on the lives of people who witnessed its fury and survived its consequences. For the farmers...

A sincere ‘sorry’ can replace courts to ensure justice

In a school in Bengaluru, every student from class one to 10 sits around in a circle for at least 40 minutes every week. The students have teachers sitting amid them, voicing their views and thoughts on any given topic. The talking points range from the idea of friendship to the students’ understanding of the concept of betrayal. But the discussion...

The tumultuous road that led to the Nehru-Liaquat Pact

In the history of every nation, there are events that continue to shape its destiny. For Germany it is Nazism, for America it is the Civil War, for Russia it is the Russian Revolution and for India it is Partition. A major event that shaped the destiny of post-Partition India was the Nehru-Liaquat pact, signed nearly 70 years ago by former India...

A century later, why the world still needs Ramanujan

The opening lines of the letter were startling. Dated February 27, 1913, it was addressed to Godfrey Harold Hardy, the most prominent mathematician in England at that time. It had come from afar India and was written by a humble Indian clerk. There were about 10 sheets of papers filled with 120 incredible and what appeared to be improbable mathemat...

Inside Karnataka’s refugee camps, making of a ‘Hindu rashtra’

Armed with the Citizenship Amendment Act, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has found a fertile ground for its 'Hindu rashtra project' in people living in government rehabilitation camps for Bangladeshi refugees in Karnataka's Sindhanur village.

Why ‘progressive’ south India is unable to shun the Devadasi system

Banning a practice such as devadasi system is ineffective. One can only hope that after nearly a century since they were first banned, devadasis can finally break free and live a life of dignity and freedom.

Arunachal-China dispute: Real issues lost in rhetoric

What constitutes Arunachal Pradesh’s border with China is an undemarcated line that locals or troops on either side have little understanding of. Apart from militaries of both the countries, even ordinary villagers frequently criss-cross the unfenced boundary called Line of Actual Control.

When government cradles fail abandoned babies

Tamil Nadu's cradle baby scheme, aimed at rescuing female babies who would otherwise have been killed by encouraging parents to give them up for adoption by leaving them in cradles, has seen a gradual fall over the years, with some districts even recording zero.

Hurdles in the fast lane delay Fastag execution

While it comes with a number of advantages, Fastags also have issues, as people have little awareness about the latest digital move of the government. It raises the question as to whether the Fastags will be seamless and hassle-free as promised.

Parasite and class war cinema — exposing the ugly face of the world

Translations are sacred. In Bong Joon-ho's Okja, the Korean director buried an in-joke not just by way of filmmaking and dialogue, but also through its English subtitles. It's when the Korean American 'K', played by Steven Yeun, mistranslates (as the ALF or Animal Liberation Front's translator) something that Mija says in Korean, and then has a ...

How BJP lit the CAB fire that threatens to burn itself in Assam

No one community or creed can claim absolute dominance over any part of this multi-ethnic, multi-religious country, whose demography as well as boundary is a construct of several historical events.

One film, a lifetime: How Rajinikanth did justice in Aarilirunthu Arubathu Varai

Tamil cinema never had an aversion to make depressing films, especially of life struggles involving siblings. Such films made viewers melt and shed copious amounts of tears. Pasamalar (Flower of Love) in 1961, starring Sivaji Ganesan, Gemini Ganesan and Savithri, drew a large female audience to cinemas, following which many began to consider Sivaji...

Instrumental role: The last of the nadaswaram makers

Far away from the music of Margazhi in good old Madras (now Chennai), Nadaswaram makers, like the family of Ranganatha Aasaari, quietly toil away in a nondescript Tamil Nadu village called Narasingapettai.

Hiding behind high walls, shocking reality of India’s caste system

Early on November 29, seven-year-old Akshaya slid her hand into her mother’s and walked as fast as her little legs could carry her. Akshaya was worried she would be late for school that’s barely 100 metres away from her home at Nadur village in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore district. Akshaya was considered one of the smartest kids in her class, and th...

Ayodhya verdict: Can Tamil Jains reclaim heritage destroyed by Hindus?

Countless rulers of all faiths across the sub-continent have done the same. Hindu kings too destroyed Hindu temples, and more often than not, Jain and Buddhist sites as well. If each religious group asked for their heritage to be reinstated, the Jains and the Buddhists may have a lot to ask of the Hindus.

Nithyananda & Birinchi Baba: Einstein’s two nightmares

If Albert Einstein had been alive today, he would have certainly worked out a plan to visit India, where his equations have found a new explanation, not once but twice — once by a fictional character and later by a godman.

Tamil Nadu’s HIV success story is far from over

From a prevalence rate of 0.83 per cent in Tamil Nadu in 2003, HIV/AIDS has come down to 0.27 per cent, with 1.42 lakh people living with the disease in the state.

Jharkhand polls: In the shadow of police repression and a tribal uprising

Like any other day, Silmani Purty, a tribal woman, is busy collecting firewood from a forest near her village in Jharkhand’s Khunti district. Of the 38 houses in Udburu village which has a population of 200, she is one of the lucky few to have electricity connection in her home, though there is no gas connection. Apart from successive governm...

Are Indians ready to infect themselves to help scientists make new vaccines?

Back in 1984, Australian gastroenterologist Barry J Marshall willingly drank an infectious concoction of live H pylori culture and gave himself an ulcer to prove that bacteria — and not stress — is the cause of gastritis and peptic ulcer. In a fete comparable, health researchers in India are proposing to intentionally infect volunteers with dead...

Two years after Ockhi, Kanyakumari fishermen feel trapped in a whirlpool of misery

C Gilbert, 57, can still feel the sting of the wind whipping his face, the angry sea leaping up to swallow his brother C Josebath. The fisherman from Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari district lost his brother to Cyclone Ockhi that struck the country’s southern coast two years ago in November, killing more than 250 people and ripping apart several homes and...

Reliving childhood: 40 years of Azhiyaatha Kolangal

As a sequel is being released on Friday, The Federal revisits Balu Mahendra's 1979 film Azhiyaatha Kolangal. The year 1979 was truly golden for Tamil cinema. Then-superstar Sivaji Ganesan’s 200th film Thrisulam (Trident) had just been released. Sivakumar’s 100th film Rosa Poo Ravikkaikkaari (A woman wearing rose coloured blouse) and Kamal Haasan...

India’s flip-flops on Rohingya crisis exposes its neighbourhood disconnect

“I had to once tell my boss that I deal with the ‘tail of China’ just to get his attention,” a former foreign service official, who looked after Myanmar affairs in the External Affairs ministry’s Bangladesh-Myanmar division, said at a recent private gathering in Kolkata. As witty as it sounds, there, however, was no hint of a jest on his stoic f...

Surrogacy Bill: Protecting women’s rights or denying choice?

Experts believe altruistic surrogacy in a country where only the low income group volunteer will fail as a model in India.

22 years after Melavalavu massacre, what has changed — and what hasn’t

On a sunny November day, M Muthu (name changed) is busy tying haystacks on a piece of farmland owned by his caste Hindu employer. Exhausted after hours of back-breaking work since 7 in the morning, Muthu approaches a nearby house for a glass of water. When the woman of the house comes out with a pot of water, Muthu's thirst gets the better of hi...

Save the cow, target the tiger: Twisting an old tale

Govina haadu (Song of the Cow) is a popular Kannada folk ballad that has touched the hearts of generations. A pious cow, Punyakoti, is accosted by Arbudha, a tiger in the forest. The cow says she has to feed her calf and would return to the tiger to become her prey. The tiger lets her go and as promised, she returns to the tiger. Struck by the cow’...

More than just music: A Margazhi in Madras

In less than a month from now, Chennai will usher in yet another year of its famous music season also known as Margazhi music festival. Held in the Tamil month of Margazhi, which runs from mid-December to mid-January, the relatively cooler and balmy weather of the city is welcomed with strains of Carnatic music. Enthusiasts are seen sabha (music ha...

A world of sex, sin and sleuths stuffed into pocket novels

A spooky night. A cold-blooded murder. A hard-boiled detective peeling off a revenge plot. A long chase and finally a climax with a moral. Add to this, a fleetingly appearing ghost and a dash of romance and sleaze — and you have a crime novel in your hands. It was all that one needed to while away a hot summer vacation or to survive a ...

Caught in the crossfire: Inside Kerala’s Attappadi hills, days after Maoist ...

An eerie silence pervades the sprawling forests of Attappadi hills in Kerala's Palakkad district. In nearby Mele Manjikkandi, fear seems to have gripped the tribal villagers following the contentious “encounter killing” of four suspected Maoists here on October 28. “Three men and a woman were killed less than 2 km away from our village,” says Si...

Man vs wild: Is India really serious about tackling the mammoth problem?

On the evening of November 9, villagers of Arthanaripalayam—located close to the buffer zone of Annamalai Forest range in Pollachi district in Tamil Nadu—had to face the wrath of a wild elephant that went rogue and entered the human settlement. The elephant, nicknamed the tusker ‘Arisi Raja’, or rice king in Tamil as it was fond of devouring ric...

Act East policy: An idea whose time has not come

Just around the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi was busy making the claim of developing Northeast India as a gateway to Southeast Asia in Bangkok earlier this month, a few incidents that took place in Myanmar and Manipur once again laid bare an inherent flaw in the idea. Five Indian nationals, engaged in building the Kaladan road project in My...

Is big budget alone enough to revive Kannada cinema?

The year 2018 was a landmark of sorts for the 85-year-old Kannada film industry, popularly known as Sandalwood. Yash-starrer 'KGF: Chapter 1', made on a budget of ₹80 crore and was released last year, made history by becoming the first Kannada movie to mint over ₹200 crore worldwide, and to make ₹100 crore in Karnataka alone. Another highly-anti...

The truth about Nehru and new India’s tryst with fake propaganda

That Jawaharlal Nehru’s life has been narrated through a huge body of apocryphal stories isn’t a big surprise. For, the story of his life began with a tale that sounds more like a myth, a metaphorical argument meant to lend a certain aura to his personality. The story goes that his father Motilal once visited a yogi in Rishikesh to find out if h...

Politics and theatre: A story of the oppressed in Bengal

"I was murdered today. Yesterday. Day before... I get murdered every day. I will be murdered tomorrow." Khoka cries out loud. He speaks to the audience and tries to tell the same to a police officer. But his screams fall on deaf ears. The principal character in theatre-great Badal Sarkar's Michhil (Rally, in Bengali), Khoka, has been the epitome...

Chained to misery, bonded labourers in Tamil Nadu’s brick kilns

The once bright coral pink paint on the walls of her house has faded to a paler shade, peeling at places, giving the one-room concrete abode a bleak look. Inside the house, R Kala in her late 30s sits and recalls her life story brick by brick — memories of a grim past that she fears will never fade. Kala was in her early 20s, a young bride, m...

Getting the story right: How some wounds are finally healing

The oral tradition of storytelling which is entwined with culture has several applications — corporates are banking on them to convey messages to their workforce, while counsellors are finding ways to help clients speak their mind or help overcome addictions when others’ stories mirror their lives.

Cop drama in the Capital: Inside the broken policing system

While the efficiency of the police force — or the lack of it — remains debatable, the common man was at his wit's end when the Delhi police personnel took to the streets on November 5 seeking protection.

Celebrating 60 years of movie magic that’s Kamal Haasan

For his millions of fans across the world, Kamal Haasan is a man of few words. But once he starts to talk, he is certainly not afraid to speak the ugly truth. So much so that in the recent past, especially after his plunge into active politics, his words have become a little too much for many to digest. But for the past six decades, the actor ta...

Campuses under siege – Saffronising education, suppressing dissent

A number of top universities in country are witnessing an increase in communalisation of campuses, loss of autonomy among teachers, students, panels, and recently, a distortion of and demand to change history.

Is Manipur’s ‘government-in-exile’ a smokescreen to hide a ponzi sc...

From a ginger farmer to a business tycoon to a founder of a 'government-in-exile', Narengbam Samarjit is an enigma that Manipur is trying to come to terms with. The bespectacled man in his late forties with a penchant for flamboyant black attires with traditional regalia shocked and awed the state in equal measures when he and his lesser-known com...

Why women saddled with caregiving need support, breaks

Rajini K, a 63-year-old homemaker, barely steps out of her house. She is so caught up with taking care of her ailing mother-in-law (87) that there is with no time left for herself. Rajini's life revolves largely around  her mother-in-law — from ensuring she is fed on time to getting her to change her clothes after she is given a bath and making her...

Indian cricket: From barren lands to powerhouse

With Virat Kohli & Co. steamrolling South Africa 3-0 in the recent three-match Test series and the BCCI having established itself as one of the important members of ICC, India is on top of the world, like never.

We shall overcome: Sounds of protest blowin’ in the wind, again

For decades, many indigenous groups have been struggling to protect their identity, land, culture and resources, which they feel are threatened by insensitive and unsustainable development. And songs have become a medium to express their angst.

Revolution interrupted: The cult of George Reddy

Nearly five decades after his death, a biopic is now ready on the life and times of student leader at Osmania University, George Reddy.

In la-la land: How Kollywood harvested farm life

The special connection between Tamil cinema and farming has remained strong through the ages even as it dealt with other issues such as dowry, caste atrocities, female foeticide and water scarcity.

Eco-friendly crackers: How green is your Diwali?

At one point of time, the bursting of tens of thousands of firecrackers during Dussehra and Diwali turned several cities in the country into virtual “gas chambers”. It’s time that changed now, with the use of green crackers.

Why the Deepavali buzz is fizzling out in Kollywood

Once upon a time in Kollywood, high profile face-offs was the norm during Deepavalis that included clashes between films of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, and Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Cut to the present day, the buzz has fizzled out over the years.

Section 498A – Misused or underused?

In September 2019, a group of men’s rights activists conducted a special puja at 50 different locations across the country to end the ‘cancer’ of feminism in India. Organised by Save India Family Foundation, which works on promoting ‘gender equality and family harmony’, the puja was called Feminism Pishachini Mukti Puja. According to the men’s r...

Why the fate of Sivakasi cracker workers is clouded in smoke

At 5 o'clock on an October morning, a scrawny man in his late 30s hops onto a bus. Behind him, a young woman carrying a tiffin box calls out to wait for her. She is just in time before the bus hurtles past tiny lanes with rain puddles left by the previous night's downpour — the air reeking of a sour odour of sulphur and sadness. As the bus stops...

Fadnavis: How the ‘new kid’ on the block upstaged Maharashtra stalwarts

While his political opponents have lost out because of their own doing, making it easy for him, Maharashtra Chief Minister Fadnavis has made it difficult for anyone to point fingers at him.

The real Savarkar: A British stooge, Hitler’s admirer or a Bharat Ratna?

Several years ago, a puny little man, who was fond of wearing round black caps and perfumed jackets, thundered at the princes of India: “But anyone who might have actively betrayed the trust of the people, disowned his fathers, and debased his blood by arraying himself against his Mother — he shall be crushed to dust and ashes, and shall be looked ...

A first gay novel, a poor Tamil Brahmin and an unequal world

For a teacher and Sanskrit scholar in Tamil Nadu of 1970s, talking about sexualities that resist social definitions was not quite the norm. Nor was the temple town of Kumbakonam — otherwise also known as the hub of modern Tamil literature — used to such 'digressions'. Yet homosexuality found a voice in Karichan Kunju's writing. Like his celebrat...

NBA makes a giant leap to the final frontier, India

India’s population of 1.3 billion, when last counted and certainly already much higher, and its economy, despite the recent slowdown across industry, are just too tempting for any global operation to ignore.

Special needs: How parents are coming to their own aid

When her two-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, Radhika was in a state of shock and denial. "Why me?" she kept asking herself. After several rounds of consultation with child psychiatrists and neurologists, she decided that brooding over the situation wouldn’t help. Instead, she began meeting parents of other children with autism. After enr...

How China turned the tide and fired its economy

Seventy years ago, India and China stood at the crossroads of change. Freed from the shackles of imperialism — British and Chinese — India in 1947 went the secular democracy way, while China in 1949 embarked on the road to Communism "with Chinese characteristics". Now, China is a veritable superpower and has lifted a humongous 850 million people ou...

How China’s education system produces world beaters

For the past several years, China has maintained a high rate of growth in their GDP. From around 400 billion dollars in the 1990s, its GDP has grown to over 13.6 trillion dollars. Compare that to India, from around 320 billion back then, it has grown to only about 2.7 trillion. Despite having similar populations, China has galloped on the dollar...

Chinese love learning Tamil, just like ancient times

The Chinese are learning Tamil and imbibing the culture, especially by giving themselves adopted Tamil names. That they speak the language as fluently as natives here is no secret.

Endangered Indian languages face threat of extinction

On the banks of Burhi Dihing river, a tributary of Brahmaputra in eastern Assam, resides a group of tribals called Phakials. Originally from south China, a small section of the tribe had in 1775 crossed the Pat Kai hills of Myanmar and settled in Assam. More than two hundred years later, there are just about 150 families left of the community in th...

NRC: Once bitten, twice shy – Hindu immigrants in West Bengal

A sense of anxiety and déjà vu hung like a dark cloud over Cooper’s Camp, one of the oldest refugee settlements in India. Hunched over a rickety table on the verandah of a small brick house, overlooking the marshland, stretching east towards the 2,216-km Bangladesh border, Ashok Chakraborty was busy rummaging through old documents. A paltry g...

Spoils of an India-Pak ‘war’, the legacy of a Nizam long dead and his man...

It is a case that brings back memories of the embers of Partition fire, the whiff of deviousness of the retreating Raj and of the last Nizam of Hyderabad, profiled by the Time magazine in 1937 as the world’s richest man who wanted to remain independent or join Pakistan. What has come to be known as the 'Hyderabad Fund Case' is a heady cocktail of ...

Are vaccination fears hurting immunisation efforts?

Experts too blame the ‘anti-vaccination movement’ for the huge drop in immunisation. WHO, earlier this year, too has pointed out that the anti-vaccine movement is one of the worst health threats in 2019.

Mughals to Mamata and now BJP: Politics at the heart of Durga Puja

Attempts to ride piggyback on Durga to make inroads into the Bengali hearts have a long history. From rulers during the Mughal times to the British after the Battle of Plassey to freedom fighters during the independence struggle, Durga could morph with élan from Queen Victoria to 'Mother India' and to Balakot airstrike and NRC.

Joker: Why we love a creepy megalomaniac more than a superhero

We all love a little bit of chaos in the lives we lead and the movies we watch. Why wouldn’t we love the Joker then? He’s everything you shouldn’t be – a megalomaniac, a destroyer of world peace, and a sociopath. He isn’t good at maintaining relationships, and, on top of that, he kills people for fun. While his presence in the comic books — he f...

India’s traditional products need more than just GI tags

Dalavai Kulayappa, a fourth-generation leather puppet maker from Nimmalakunta village in Anantapur district, is unsure about the future of the craft. Clearly, the Geographical Indication (GI) tag has not helped a lot of artistes in India, who keep centuries-old tradition alive, market their products.

The ‘no land’s men’ in Munnar’s tea estates

With each passing day, Chinnathai — a third-generation tea plantation worker of Tamil origin in Munnar — is reminded of her approaching retirement in two months. And with that, the fear of becoming homeless.

With bank mergers, end of an era in South Canara

Six principal banks, including Canara Bank, Syndicate Bank, Corporation Bank, originated from the South Canara region which was called 'The Cradle of Banking in India'. According to reports, between 1880 and 1935, 22 banking companies were established in this region.

NRC: Fear and dismay at ‘India-Bangladesh border’ in Bengaluru

“That side of the road is Bangladesh, this side is India. We don't go there and they don't come here,” says Jamaal Hassan (43), sounding panicky. “The police should go after them, not us. We are Indians, it’s our birthright to live and work here.” Hassan is one of the 5,000 Bengali-speaking Muslim labourers who live in a confusing maze of tarpau...

Difficult to diagnose: What doctors say, what patients hear

When 50-year-old Chandra from Chennai was diagnosed with a cyst in one of her kidneys, she expected her nephrologist to give her a detailed account of the prognosis or the likely course of her treatment. But her doctor only suggested dietary changes and told her to take it easy. "I learnt from friends that it could lead to dialysis. However, my ...

Keeladi excavation raises more questions than answers

A famous Tamil folktale speaks about a prince who is able to draw a life-like portrait of a princess based on a lock of her hair. Keeladi — an archaeological site in Tamil Nadu's Sivaganga district — today is like the princess of the folktale. Recent findings about artefacts from the site have thrown up several 'princes' vying with each other to dr...

Quite a stir: Science and serendipity behind the new liquid magnet

Xubo Liu of Beijing University of Chemical Technology and Thomas Russell of the University of Massachusetts Amherst made a new material that is liquid and magnetic.

Online gaming addiction: How much is too much?

On the morning of September 9, residents of Kakati village in Karnataka's Belagavi district woke up to murmurs about a cold-blooded murder of a 61-year-old retired policeman. Early in the morning, a neighbour heard screams coming from the house of Shekarappa Kumbar and called the police. But by the time the cops reached, Shekarappa was dead -- h...

Vlogging: Making a living and living their dreams

Perched on the middle of an open field in Theni district in Tamil Nadu, an elderly man wearing a white shirt and dhoti, readies a patch of land to cook a Christmas special dish. With a camera focused on him, 62-year-old Arumugam wishes his viewers and starts skinning a turkey. He then seasons it liberally with a paste of butter and chopped coriande...

In ‘sanskari’ India, abortion continues to be a big deal

When Girish (name changed) and his partner approached a gynaecologist for abortion at a renowned multi-specialty hospital in Chennai, he was horrified at the reaction. “She asked if we were married. When we said no, she said she won't perform without a husband or parents of the woman being there.” While gynaecologist clinics should be space...

The journey home, to a tomorrow of hope and promise

This August, Bijoy Harpal, a resident of Bolangir, Odisha, received a call from Chennai’s Little Hearts Home with news about his long-lost aunt. Maya (45), a distant relative, had gone missing from her home in Jharkhand's Jamshedpur almost 13 years ago. “She was living with her father and brother in Jamshedpur in 2006 when she went missing. We h...

Kashmir to Kohima: The muddied pathway to peace talks

On August 14, 1947, a day before India made her tryst with destiny, the Naga National Council (NNC), then an omnipotent political organisation of the Naga people headed by Angami Zapu Phizo, declared Independence for the Nagas. However, the world outside did not immediately get to know about the development as the NNC’s telegram addressed to lea...

How Arunachal woke up to Hindi and joined the heartland

Back in the 1980s, every August 15 and January 26, residents of Anini, a small town in Arunachal Pradesh, would wake up to the call of "jaagte raho" by T Mello, a kotoki (government-appointed interpreter). Although the words "jaagte raho" in Hindi is used as a command of sorts, asking people to stay awake and alert, in kotoki Mello's limited Hin...

Drought to deluge: The growing threat of climate change

Various studies project possible linkages of global warming with the change in frequency and intensity of weather. Frequency of heavy rainfall events (rainfall exceeding 15 cm in 24 hours) has increased over parts of central India at the rate of 6% per decade.

In Tamil Nadu, Hindu Munnani project rests on Ganesha’s shoulders

On September 1, when M Muthupandi, an IT employee working in Chennai, reached his nondescript village of Old Silukkuvarpatti, for a moment he thought he lost his way in a maze of saffron flags and pandals. “The place looked like a sea of saffron — the village entrance festooned with saffron flags, pandals in saffron hue and devotional film songs...

Indians love football. Then why are local clubs struggling?

At Indira's Nagar's Doff pub, a group of four young men are conspicuous by their presence. Dressed in co-ordinated outfits — stonewashed denims and bright red Manchester United jerseys — they are among the regular customers frequenting the popular sports bar in Bengaluru every time there is an English Premier League (EPL) match on TV. One of the...

David and his slingshot: How Isro customised rocket science

From the launch to the landing attempt on the moon, Chandrayaan-2 took 48 days. While the Soviet and the US seemed to have taken a jet plane to travel to the moon, we were doing so on a bullock cart.

Being a Kashmiri outside Kashmir, inside India

When 21-year-old Rifat Wani (name changed) arrived in Bengaluru from Srinagar in July to study management at a private university, she expected to have a regular college life. Instead, she was greeted by classmates who sometimes called her an ‘anti-national’, sometimes a ‘Pakistani’. But the worst was yet to come. On August 5, when the BJP governme...

Why do humans want animals to be like them?

Imagine this scenario: a woman wakes up naked in an abandoned building and eventually goes to the nearest dumpster to find something to cover herself with. But a pack of ferocious stray dogs get territorial and one chases the woman across the street, into a parking lot, where there’s a building, and sits outside the toilet that she manages to lock ...

Bengaluru’s theatre circuit is experimenting with intimate spaces

For a millennial growing up in Bengaluru, one of the earliest exposures to the creative arts was perhaps watching a play at Ranga Shankara, attending a concert at Chowdiah Memorial Hall or going for an exhibition at Chitrakala Parishath. These are some of the city’s most iconic cultural spaces. Today, the city’s theatre culture has evolved subst...

From generic to customised: How gene editing may change the face of healthcare

Imagine that you are a kid sitting with your friends on the ground having a good time talking. Then everyone decides to go and play a game of hide-and-seek. You find yourself struggling to get up and your legs are not able to lift you. When you finally do slowly stand up, you find yourself struggling to keep up with the others and you are constantl...

NRC: The pain and struggle that never ends

At the crack of dawn, on September 1, Shehnaz Begum, 27, held her six-year-old daughter Soniyara's hand and trudged along the muddy lanes of Batarbari village in Assam's Barpeta district. The mother and daughter then got inside the autorickshaw of a family friend, Soyeb, and set out on a journey to the Public Health Centre in nearby Daulasal in Nal...

eSports in India is turning nerds into millionaires

Twenty one-year-old Bhavin Kotwani is a professional athlete who starts training at 8 in the morning and continues till 10 at night. The intense regime begins with three hours of individual training, and moves on to team training and strategising to play in international tournaments. He gets one day off — Sunday. However, in India, Kotwani isn’t...

Are de-addiction centres the solution to drug problems?

It is around 11 am on a weekday when a group of youngsters walk into a room. After a minor argument, the nine boys, all aged between 14 and 18, sit down for a game of carrom. One of them hits the coin arrangement with clinical precision and jumps with excitement as a white piece slips into a pocket. The de-addiction centre meant for boys below t...

Buried tales of Dalit discrimination in Tamil Nadu village

Narayanapuram, Vellore: The block paved lane that leads to the Dalit colony in Tamil Nadu's Narayanapuram village is dotted with shabby mud huts. In one of those huts, where S Chinnathai lives alone, there is a small patch of dry land — all of 64 square feet — which the 55-year-old widow likes to call her courtyard. It is in this courtyard where Chinnathai's husband and f...

Music festivals in India are slowly turning green

Every year, as the searing summer starts giving way to fall, the music scene in India begins to heat up. With more than 20 music festivals — both indoor and outdoor — taking place every year, these events are not just about popular bands and some great music. While cavorting sweatily to some rip-roaring, toe-tapping and head-banging music, fans als...

Soothsayers see an uncertain future with saffron surge

Madurai: At 10 pm, men dressed in black coats and saffron dhotis, with saffron turbans resting on their heads, walk into a village burial ground. Carrying cloth sacks filled with their bread and butter — cowrie shells, a mat, damaru, picture of their deity — they pray there till midnight, before walking the streets of the village telling fortunes. They s...

On Madras Day, a tale of the first election and ‘funny politics’ 

Much before India attained Independence, Madras Presidency  was a large swathe of land that included the present-day states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka and Kerala (the Malabar region). It, however, excluded the princely states of Puducottai, Banganapalle and Sandur. The capital of this diverse and rich presidency was...

Gender diversity: What anime taught the 90s kids that school books didn’t

In 2003, when Pokémon was first aired in India, it flooded classrooms with trading cards and tazos of Pikachus, Charizards, and Bulbasaurs. Surprisingly, even an anime as innocuous as Pokémon bucks gender norms as we are taught to understand them. Vinay, a 25-year-old photographer, remembers how anime shaped his thoughts on gender and queerness ...

How millennials are reviving traditional tattooing in India

The Mer community of Gujarat has a proverb that says even if one is deprived of all things in the world, no one can take away their tattoos. And this, and not materialistic wealth, is what they take with them to the afterlife. Traditional Mer tattoos are done using a single stick and pigment made from soot and tannin from the bark of trees. Howe...

Why India must keep chasing its space dream

Why do we spend millions of rupees on space explorations, say for example mission Chandrayaan-2? What is the urgency to know how and when the Moon was formed when a sizeable chunk of the Indian population struggles to get clean drinking water and enough food to eat? There are many of the view that astronomy and space exploration have no direct rela...

Indian comics are choking and it’s not funny

In 1968, Tamil actor and political satirist Cho Ramaswamy directed a satirical play ‘Muhammad bin Tughlaq’ and played the title character. The play was a parody of India’s political situation at the time. It remains as one of his best works to date. Buoyed by its success, Ramaswamy went on to start a Tamil weekly magazine by the same name in the 19...

Yesterday, today and tomorrow: The India story

In the early 1980s, if you lived in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, and wanted to commute within the city using public transport, it would have taken hours to negotiate a few kilometres. The city buses would halt at designated stops and continue to stall endlessly until they found enough passengers to fill the seats. They wouldn’t move until...

HS Doreswamy: When the quest for freedom continues

August 15, 1947. At the stroke of midnight, when the world was sleeping and India awoke to life and freedom, 28-year-old Harohalli Srinivasaiah Doreswamy, like many of his fellow Indians, dreamt of a country free from the shackles of poverty and inequality — a great nation built by its 'honest', 'hardworking' and 'compassionate' citizens. Seven dec...

Your freedom, our struggle, and nothing to celebrate

Why exactly should we celebrate a day earmarked as a country’s Independence Day? You’ll argue it’s a celebration of freedom. But, freedom has nothing to do with countries, societies or cultures. It is primarily a private pursuit based on man-made constructs and individual philosophies that aim to extend the boundaries of human will. There isn...

Freedom and integration: A swaraj of the Mahatma’s dream

Security measures beefed up across the country ahead of the 73rd Independence Day celebrations, read some of the headlines. But does every part of the country celebrate freedom in equal measure? Many would like to avoid answering that question since such deliberations may invite action under a more stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act,...