Udupi struggling to script Srithale revival story on palm leaves

The temple town of Udupi -- known to be the global headquarters of Dvaita philosophy, a dualistic interpretation of the Vedas that theorises...

A year on, rain, heat, winter chill and insults fail to deter India’s farmers

The winter chill is beginning to set in the national capital reminding farmers at Delhi’s borders that it has been a full 365 sunsets since they came to the doorsteps of the national capital, facing water cannons and lathicharge on the way, halted from making it to Lutyens’ Delhi, their chosen site to stage a protest against the three Farm Laws. ...

Tamil literature: Where did all the children’s writers go?

In 1940, a young man of 18 entered a small magazine office in Chennai looking for a cashier’s job. A year later, he came out of the same office with a wealth of accomplishments, albeit as a writer. The magazine was called Sakthi, run by Vai Govindan, a stalwart in the Tamil publishing industry. And the young man was none other than Al Valliappa,...

Nagaland’s community conservation efforts take the flight to success

On the face of it Yaongyimchen looks like any Naga village nestled in the mountains shrouded in morning mists. Come winter and the clear blue sky over the village is covered with black patches as thousands of avian guests start arriving from far-off lands, making Yaongyimchen an ornithology hotspot. But more than the annual month-long sojourn of...

Why ‘room for river’ may not be enough to keep Kuttanad afloat

Shaji Mol and her husband Madhu remember spending sleepless nights fearing floodwaters would gush through their house. They wouldn’t know how to leave and where to reach in the dark since flood water inundated the entire area of Kainakari Panchayat in Kuttanad. The days proved no better apart from the fact that sunlight provided visibility to sc...

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Faultlines

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Viswanathan Anand and the Queen’s pawn opening of 2008

“Chess players are from an alien planet.” This is the notion Indian chess Grandmaster Viswanathan Anand is trying to debunk these days. The fiercely private chess player has decided to tell his story by way of a biopic to achieve that end. Confirming his nod to the biopic, Viswanathan Anand, who is in Kolkata currently, said, “I have agreed to t...

Tamil films and caste realities: What’s pricking the fragile egos

The sheer scale of injustice meted out to Rajakannu, his wife and two children, one still in the womb, depicted in TJ Gnanavel’s movie Jai Bhim, has led to animated discussions about the portrayal of socially marginalised communities in Tamil cinema. Suriya plays advocate K Chandru, a real-life legal crusader, who fought the case in 1993 on beha...

Death by fasting: Why sallekhana is rising among Tamil Jains

A few months ago in Chennai, a 74-year-old Jain monk stopped eating food and taking fluids. As Sunamra Sagarji Maharaj’s human passions and body began to thin, people gathered around to watch, seek blessings and partake in the rituals. Nearly three weeks back, Sunamra Sagarji Maharaj attained ‘samadhi maran’ by way of sallekhana (santhara), a relig...

The women of Bengaluru slums who fought Covid and family’s hunger

It’s 4 am and pitch dark in India’s IT hub Bengaluru. Baby A, a 37-year-old mother, from the city’s Gautam Nagar slum, is up and hastening to finish her household chores before she heads out for work at 9 am. “It’s my daily routine, except for Sundays, since August 2020, when I took up the work of a Covid-19 healthcare volunteer,” says Baby, a Dali...

Repackaged promises: Assam govt selling bitter brew to tea tribe

Sardar bole kaam kaam/ Babu bole dhori aan/ Saheb bole libo pither cham/ Oii bideshi Sham/ Phakidiye anilo Assam (Sardar says work harder/ The supervisor says haul them here/ The saheb says I will skin them/ The white-skinned foreigners brought us to Assam by deceit) The plight of the tea tribe community of Assam as desc...

Habeas Corpus: How citizens’ rights suffered a body blow

Perhaps not intended to be so but Tamil filmmaker TJ Gnanavel’s heart-rending cinematic interpretation in Jai Bhim of a tribal woman’s real-life legal battle to trace her husband – illegally detained and later killed under custodial torture by the police -- is a sad reminder of how far our judiciary has drifted from being the ultimate guardian of c...

The Rajan case that Jai Bhim refers to in passing

In 1993, a heavily pregnant Parvathi, holding her young girl child by one hand, started a desperate search for her husband Rajakannu who went missing from police custody in Tamil Nadu. The search that spanned Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring state of Kerala found the Madras High Court in between. TJ Gnanavel’s movie Jai Bhim has now told us all how...

Do good football players score better as managers?

Back in 1999, Norwegian striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer came on as a “super-sub” for Manchester United in the UEFA Champions League final fixture against Bayern Munich and scored a last-minute winning goal in injury time to lead the Red Devils to victory, sealing the historic treble for his club. Twenty two years later, he finds himself as the manager...

Back to school: How kids, parents and teachers are adjusting to the new normal

As schools across India are reopening and students try to resume their education, The Federal attempts to get answers to some out-of-syllabus questions to know how children are coping, what their parents and teachers have to say and, most importantly, what all has changed since March 2020. Where did the children go? It's been 19 months since ...

5 yrs on, what demonetisation doesn’t let the common man forget

On the evening of November 8, 2016, Dheeraj Rai's shop in Gandhi Nagar market, Delhi’s largest textile bazaar, was teeming with shoppers fetishizing over the right fit and colour of jeans that Rai and his team of tailors had been sewing for years. That was the last time he remembers seeing such a footfall on his shop floor. "As soon as news spre...

What ‘veg mutton’ offering to Kali tells about Bengal’s culinary hi...

Vegetarian mutton! If that sounds incredulous, visit Bengal to savour it during Kali Puja, which coincides with Diwali. Kali, the four-handed, dark-skinned warrior goddess, her naked body covered only with ornate jewellery comprising garlands of demon heads and limbs she has chopped off, is the ultimate embodiment of shakti, the female power, as...

AIR overhaul: Is this the death of local radio as we know it?

On October 18, Geetha Ramanand, a veena artist and an avid radio listener was in for a rude shock when Amruthavarshini FM (100.1), a dedicated classical music station, went offline. She later realised the regional Kannada radio channel, which was part of Akashvani Bengaluru, ceased to exist and was merged with Raagam, a multilingual national cha...

Nasa is ready with a sci-fi plot and it will play out for real

In 1998, two Hollywood sci-fi flicks — Armageddon and Deep Impact — enthralled us with magnificent plots: Nasa dispatches a crew to blow up an asteroid that is on a collision course with earth, with a potential to wipe away humanity. The protagonists carry out the mission successfully and save the planet from catastrophe. Who knew that Nasa woul...

What made Tripura singe in communal flames

On the night of October 23, Abdul Rahman (name changed), a resident of Naraura Tila village in Tripura's Sepahijala district, was getting ready to sleep when someone started banging his door. It was a neighbour who came to inform that the local mosque was up in flames. While Rahman and others rushed to douse the fire, similar incidents took plac...

The human brain is shrinking and you didn’t know because…

‘Small-brained and big-mouthed’. A favourite rebuke of many a grandparent is perhaps not way off the mark. For the past 3,000 years, the human brain has been shrinking in size. This is one of the well-kept secrets of human anthropology, and researchers have been trying to find its explanations and implications. A recent study co-authored by Dr J...

You don’t have our consent for mining: Hasdeo Aranya adivasis tell govt

On October 28, the Chhattisgarh Tourism Board laid out the red carpet in Raipur for artists belonging to diverse tribal communities from the state as well as various countries for a three-day dance gala. The National Tribal Dance Festival, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel said, will promote and “celebrate” the uniqueness of tribal culture and showc...

Zero death milestone: Is the nightmare really over for Mumbai?

When the pandemic first struck India in March 2020, very little was known about coronavirus apart from the fact that it originated in China, was zoonotic and could even kill people if they came in contact with infected persons. In overcrowded Mumbai though, what people didn’t know was how not to come in contact with people. With a population of ...

BJP’s Kerala prospects depend on Church’s Muslim stance: Ashutosh Varshney

Mar Joseph Kallarangatt, bishop of the Palai diocese of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala, recently stirred a hornet's nest by claiming the existence of ‘narcotic jihad’ targeting young people belonging to non-Muslim faiths in the state. He laced his claim with an added allegation of ‘love jihad’ saying that young women, belonging to non-Muslim fai...

A month on, Assam’s displaced families stuck in squalid ‘exile’

In a damp corner inside a shack, a moldy plate lies covered in flies. Because most nights, Hanif Ali, father of two girls, is too tired to either finish his plate of food or wash it after loading and unloading goods trucks the whole day. The guilt of wasting food doesn’t let him sleep. “I often wake up at night. My stomach is in a knot and my he...

Hindu-Muslim rift leaves Gangolli’s air smelling fishy

Gangolli, a small village in the Udupi district, sees the Panchagangavalli River find its freedom by merging into the Arabian Sea. With the river flowing to its east and the Arabian Sea to its west, Gangolli, which is mentioned on the postal seal as Ganguli, offers the sight of a natural confluence. Its people, however, are falling apart mirroring ...