From Battle of Verandah to gallows: How Alipore Independence Museum has frozen the fra...

It was around 12 noon on December 8, 1930. Writers Building, an important centre of British power in India, in central Calcutta (now Kolkata...
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The atlas of lost islands in a rapidly drowning world

The oceans have played a significant role in life on Earth — this holds as true today as it has been for millennia. Early great civilizations built their prosperity on maritime trade. The waterways opened opportunities for people to share cultures, helping societies to grow. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, about 37 per cen...
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Social injustice: How Kerala’s aided education institutions alienate marginalised gro...

Bishop Chulaparambil Memorial College, Kottayam, owned and managed by the Corporate Educational Agency of Colleges of the Archeparchy of Kottayam for the Knanaya Catholic Community is one of the most well-known women’s colleges under Mahatma Gandhi University, Kerala. The college has 14 non-teaching staff members and 37 teachers, none hail from the...
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From gothic Churches to Sao Tome port: The forgotten Portuguese imprints on Chennai

It was still the early part of the 16th century when a group of Portuguese traders and missionaries were struck by a hurricane in the deep sea. The group managed to survive the storm but was left adrift in the middle of the sea. With water extending to as far as eyes could see, the group had no way to know where they were headed or where they shoul...
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How Kumkis with ‘criminal past’ led the Kerala elephant capture operation

Over the last month or so, the jungles in Kerala stood witness to loud rumblings and hurried movements, both involving humans and animals. Humans set out to capture animals believed to have ‘gone rogue’ after they killed people and destroyed crops. The animals put their sense of smell, sight and hearing to use to outsmart humans. Those outside the ...
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Iron curtain on culture: How the Russia-Ukraine war is cancelling shared cultures

Even as Kiev is freezing and trapped in darkness, mostly without electricity and heat, and while most of it shivers and takes refuge in underground metros and subways amidst a barrage of missile attacks from Russia, a dark irony is floating across the borders. The memory of legendary classical musician, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), is bein...

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A museum where palm leaves tell the tale of ancient kingdoms

How do you create a museum with palm leaves alone - mostly of the same size and texture, illegible to the layman? It took a while for museologist-bureaucrat Venu Vasudevan to find an answer to the questifon. Even though the contents on the engraved palm leaves differed, their physical features remained the same. A mechanical display of the manuscri...
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Vignettes of polo from Turtuk, the far-end of Ladakh

This is a memory so vivid as if it had all happened just moments ago. It was March 21, 2014 – a day of particular interest to a vast majority of people not just in India but also in neighbouring Pakistan. The two countries, madly infatuated with cricket but famously notorious rivals both on and off the pitch, were set to face off against each other...
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The fault in our calendars: How Pongal moved from January 14 to January 15

This year Pongal was celebrated on January 15. For most, who grew between 1940s and 2000s, it was January 14 which became synonymous with Pongal, with the festival advancing by a day occasionally during leap years. But now, Pongal falls more often on January 15 than January 14. What many may not know is that there was a time when Pongal was celebra...
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How German missionary Rev Ferdinand Kittel came back to life in a new font in Karnata...

In 1853, a young man aged just 21 arrived in India from Germany with a mission to tell the locals of Karnataka about Jesus Christ and spread Christian faith. A full 170 years later, the man can still be found in Karnataka’s many districts. Reverend Ferdinand Kittel, who was immortalised in statues across the state, now finds himself commemorated in...
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A year on, Karnataka hijab ban costs Muslim girls access to education, peace of mind

For 19-year-old Aasma K (name changed on request) from Karnataka's Udupi district, the last year has been an arduous one since the southern state banned Muslim girls from wearing hijabs (headscarves) in educational institutions. While the ban kicked in February 2022, Aasma told The Federal she has been wearing hijab since she was 11. “The piece ...
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Now, Harvard in Hyderabad: Why the distance is longer than what UGC wants India to be...

Sania Farooqui has been thrilled since January 5 when she heard the news that the University Grants Commission (UGC) had allowed foreign universities and educational institutions to set up their campuses in India. Sania’s dream of a Harvard degree need not remain a dream. It now appears well within the realm of the real. After completing her BTe...
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How aroma of Iruttu Kadai halwa unites north and south in Tamil Nadu

Nothing stands between the Dev and devotee at Nellaiappar Temple, standing to the north of Thamirabarani River in Tirunelveli district. Entering through Raja Gopuram (the main temple tower), for centuries people have remained focused on catching a glimpse of the presiding deity Shiva — who going by legends protected the paddy fields (nel: padddy, a...
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In photos: Why Gangasagar Mela is teeming with people wanting to tag along the cow’s ...

The last of the four goals — after dharma, kama, artha — set for mankind in Hindu religious philosophy is moksha. So, after one has followed the path of righteousness, fulfilled desires and earned wealth, the perilous cycle of life, death and rebirth, comes to an end with moksha, which loosely translates to salvation in English. The road to atta...
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From Changthan to America: How Ladakh is claiming pashmina from Kashmir

Zospi rtsa la rama ly nha la lena jik sal. Thungspi chu la rama ly nha la lena jik sal. Seka ldemo jik chosty juksna rama ly naye lena lenin ba ly. (For the grass that you have just eaten, oh goat, Give us some good pashm. For the water that you just drank, oh goat, Give us some good pashm. Sit down on the grass and be still, ...
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Pill to fight stigma: What Seva Bharati’s dedicated health clinic means for sex worke...

In 2020, Nidhi* was in her early 20s when she realised her periods were delayed. Despite the concern weighing heavily on her mind, she went about doing her work, which involved providing sex services to men, on Delhi’s Garstin Bastion Road, running from Ajmeri Gate to Lahori Gate. As a few more days passed, she grew worried. Shrouded by anxiety and...
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A journey from the necropolis of Gujarat’s Juna Khatiya to pre-Harappan era

Having flourished in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent during the third millennium BCE, the Indus Valley Civilisation (aka Harappan Civilisation) has been divided into three phases – pre-Harappan (3300-2500 BCE), mature Harappan (2600-1900 BCE) and late Harappan (1900-1300 BCE). Even though scholars have studied in detail the urban a...
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From Kukuda to Khasi Cup, how a flavour of fun entered hockey in Odisha’s tribal dist...

It’s a late winter morning. Having hurriedly finished an early lunch at around 11.30 am, 83-year-old Salmon Minz rushes out of his house in Nimdihi village, under Balisankara block of Odisha’s tribal Sundargarh district. Minz takes quick steps on the uneven muddy path that leads to the dusty village ground surrounded by bushes and trees — the venue...
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How Chandrababu Naidu is scripting resurgence, challenging those writing his politica...

On a day the world was busy ringing in the New Year, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo N Chandrababu Naidu opened his party coffers announcing three families would get Rs 5 lakh each. The money was no New Year gift but a compensation for the lives of three women who were crushed to death during a stampede at Naidu’s Sankranti gift programme in Guntu...
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How wrapping in the traditional art of gamocha-making is infusing life in an Assam vi...

Phulmoni Das was at her wit’s end living in a picturesque, but off the map village called Sagolikota under Lahowal development block. With an especially-abled husband, she didn’t know how to send her three daughters to school. To meet the daily expenses of running a household, Phulmoni worked at the tea garden in Assam’s Dibrugarh district, where w...
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Sangam literature: The Tamizhakam tales that offer a window into ancient Tamil life

Witten between 300 BC and 250 AD, Sangam poems stand testimony to an ancient, sophisticated culture of Tamizhakam, the southernmost region of the Indian subcontinent comprising today’s Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which prevailed more than 2000 years ago. There are 18 Sangam books — 10 long songs (Pathuppattu) and eight antholo...
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Guru Vanam: One man’s pursuit to document historical greats out in the open

G Chandrasekaran and his wife Muthulakshmi started planning a quiet retirement pretty early in life. It was the hustle and bustle of Chennai that made them want to escape the city and stay close to nature. The couple cut corners to give shape to their plans. The sacrifices helped as in 2012, when Chandrasekaran, fondly called Chandru, managed to bu...
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How Premalayam sprouted in drought-prone Rayalaseema

With rain only a frequent visitor, Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema is an arid, drought-prone area. Even as rain has deserted Rayalaseema, poverty has sadly and completely embraced it. With governments showing scant regard for the region and people deserting it in search of greener pastures — quite literally — many have missed the sprouting of Premalay...
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Fusion or just fizz: Has the National Ignition Facility really trapped the Sun in the...

Scientists have for long being trying to find an energy source that sustains itself – quite like the Sun, burning bright day after day. And so the announcement made by the US National Ignition Facility’s (NIF) Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California on December 13, 2022, created a huge sensation among the scientific circles across the world. ...
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Salaam Aarti to Namaskara: Greeting the ‘Right’ side of history in Karnataka

Situated in the midst of a thick forest on the foothills of Kodachadri in Shimoga district of Karnataka, believed to have been established by Adwaita philosophy proponent saint Adi Shankaracharya 1200 years ago, is the Sri Mookambika temple. For over two centuries now, every evening between 7 pm and 8.30 pm conches blow, bells ring and incense stic...
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Dhabari Quruvi: Of unwed Irula mothers in Kerala and a tribal cast

Like many tribal hamlets in India, Attappady offers breathtaking scenic views, having the Nilgiris to its north and Silent Valley to its west. The splendour of nature unfortunately doesn’t reflect in the lives of people who belong to various indigenous communities in this tribal taluk of Kerala’s Palakkad district. Poverty, malnutrition, unemployme...
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