COVID-19 PANDEMIC 

India’s staggering COVID crisis could have been avoided. But the government dropped its guard too soon

Pradeep Taneja & Azad Singh Bali

The Conversation | April 23, 2021

India reported 314,000 new cases of COVID-19 on April 22, the highest-ever infection tally recorded by any country on a single day.

Many hospitals across the country are unable to cope with the unprecedented demand for life-saving necessities. Family members are scrambling to buy oxygen cylinders and medication for their loved ones in hospitals, often paying exorbitant prices in the black market.Read More »

PLIGHT OF FARMERS IN INDIA

State of India’s environment: Why farmers kill themselves

Down To Earth | February 24, 2021

Family members of farmers who committed suicide demonstrate in Delhi (December 2018). Photo: Adithyan PC

Family members of farmers who committed suicide demonstrate in Delhi (December 2018). Photo: Adithyan PC Family members of farmers who committed suicide demonstrate in Delhi (December 2018). Photo: Adithyan PC
More than 28 farmers and farm labourers die by suicide in India every day, according to the 2021 State of India’s Environment (SoE) report — an annual brought out by Down To Earth in association with Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The SoE report highlighted the suicide numbers in recent years:

  • 5,957 farmers in 17 states (and Union territories) and 4,324 farm labourers in 24 states in 2019
  • 5,763 farmers in 20 states and 4,586 agricultural workers in 21 states in 2018

The toll in increased between the two years in:

  1. Andhra Pradesh
  2. Assam
  3. Chhattisgarh
  4. Himachal Pradesh
  5. Maharashtra
  6. Mizoram
  7. Punjab
  8. Uttar Pradesh
  9. Andaman & Nicobar Islands.

Read More »

ENVIRONMENT OF INDIA

Displaced from the hills: Livelihoods of tribal communities in Eastern Ghats under threat

Vikram Aditya

Down To Earth | February 24, 2021

India’s forest-dwelling communities have since antiquity utilised various biodiversity elements in forests to augment their livelihoods and fortify their nutritional security. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the hilly region of the Eastern Ghats, spread along India’s east coast in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

It is home to several forest-dwelling tribal communities, including the Koyas, Konda Reddies, Kondhs, Savaras, Valmikis, Soligas and Parajas. The importance of biodiversity to agriculture dependent livelihoods has assumed greater significance with the new farm laws, which may result in the homogenisation of small farms through private participation, and consequently, the loss of biodiversity.Read More »

NATURAL DISASTER

An Unnecessary Himalayan Disaster

Bharat Jhunjhunwala

Countercurrents | February 19, 2021

There is a huge tectonic place below the land mass of India known as “Indian Plate.” The rotation of the earth is causing this plate to continually move northward just like any matter moves to the top in a centrifugal machine. The Indian Plate crashes into the Tibetan Plate as it moves to the north. The pressure between these two plates is leading to the continual rise of the Himalayas and also earthquakes in Uttarakhand in particular. Thus, Uttarakhand has been having an earthquake every ten years leaving aside the last 20 years. A possible reason for earthquake not taking place in the recent period could be that the load of water in the Tehri Reservoir is acting like a cushion between the two plates just as two boxers stop for a moment if a small child stands between them. However, the Indian Plate continues to push against the Tibetan Plate despite this cushion. Consequently, a bigger earthquake may take place in the coming time.Read More »

INDIA 

Our Battle for Love Must Be Militantly Waged – And Beautifully Won

The text of Arundhati Roy’s speech at the Elgar Parishad 2021 on January 30.

Scroll.in | January 30, 2021

I thank the organisers of the 2021 Elgar Parishad for inviting me to speak at this forum to mark what would have been Rohit Vemula’s 32nd birthday and the 1818 victory of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. Not far from here, Mahar troops fighting in the British Army defeated the Peshwa King Bajirao II under whom Mahars and other Dalit castes were cruelly persecuted and ritually debased in indescribable ways.

From this platform let me join the other speakers to express my solidarity with the farmers protest that is calling for the immediate withdrawal of the three Farm Bills that have been rammed down the throats of millions of farmers and farm workers and brought them onto the streets. We are here to express our sorrow and anger for the many who have died during the course of the protest. The situation on Delhi’s borders where the farmers have been peacefully camping for two months is becoming tense and dangerous. Every possible trick and provocation is being used to divide and discredit the movement. Now, more than ever, we must stand by the farmers.Read More »

INDIAN FARMERS’ MOVEMENT 

The Unraveling of A Script In Two Parts And Writing A New Script By Farmers

Amit Bhaduri and Chaman Lal

Frontier | January 30, 2021

The script of collaboration is in two parts. The first part was written long ago when the once revolutionary Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was released after long years from prison in the Andamans. He collaborated with the British as he had promised in several petitions for mercy he had written to the British authorities from jail. In what psychologists describe as ‘transferred anxiety’ he seemed to have transferred his hatred of the colonial British power to a hatred of fellow Indian Muslims. Since then, Guru Golwalkar and others in the RSS took this agenda forward. They all stayed away from the then anti-colonial struggle, and joined neither its non-violent stream led by Gandhi nor its violent stream led by martyrs like Bhagat Singh or Subhas Bose.

In a curious similarity the one-time revolutionary Savarkar became a collaborationist of the British, while Jinnah, a one-time resolute secular nationalist Congress leader who had stood firm even against the Khilafat movement because of its religious overtones, came to depend increasingly on the British for helping the Muslim minority against a majoritarian Hindu nationalism.  Both Savarkar and Jinnah who had started as secular political leaders ended their careers as leaders whose politics were defined by the religion they championed.Read More »

INDIAN FARMER’S MOVEMENT 

Conspiracy to Malign Farmers’ Movement

Harsh Thakor

Frontier | January 30, 2021

Tragically a historic peaceful march in the Capital of over 20 lakh peasants has been foisted as  a conspiracy against the nation. The sinister act of hoisting the Sikh flag on the red fort was undertaken by a BJP agent, Deep Sidhu. He infiltrated the ranks similar to Nazis masquerading as Communists in the burning of the Reichstag. There could not be a better manifestation of neo-fascism penetrating. The Kisan Sangarsh Commitee and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Krantikari) played into the hands of the rulers by raising Khalistani politics and robbing the agitation of it’s secular democratic prestige.

The marchers stuck to the plan and did not divert from the route. Disruptionist elements from Kisan Sangharsh Commitee with Khalistani overtones violated the discipline or programme of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha and stated attacking the police barricades. Tragically one farmer succumbed to police attacks. Tremendous violence is being unleashed with a cross of swords which was instigated by elements hand in glove with the ruling party.The Social media has distorted the picture accusing or framing the participants of violating the norms set for the march. BKU(Ugrahan) secretary told me that this conduct was a complete aberration of the agenda planned with almost every participant adhering to the conditions agreed. It has virtually no w given a licence to the rulers to launch repression, paving the way for justifying terror on the farmers.Read More »

INDIAN FARMERS’ MOVEMENT 

Twitter Withholds Accounts Tweeting on Farmers’ Protests, Restores Them After Several Hours

The Wire | February 01, 2021

New Delhi: A slew of Twitter accounts – belonging to individuals, groups and media organisations – were withheld by the social media site in response to legal demands on Monday, February 1. The only common thread connecting these accounts is that nearly all of them had been posting updates and opinions on the farmers’ protests regularly.

By 9 pm, most of the accounts were back and functional. It is not known as to what triggered the reversal of the decision.

The news agency ANI quoted unnamed ‘sources’ as having said that Twitter made the move on the request of the Union home ministry headed by Amit Shah.Read More »

INDIAN FARMERS’ MOVEMENT 

Is the Charge Against Farmers of ‘Disrupting Order’ in Delhi Politically Valid?

Nikita Sud

The Wire | January 26, 2021

How anarchical of a section of India’s striking farmers to break political codes ordained by the government. How dare they push for the will of the gana or a collective of people on Gantantra Diwas (Republic Day), a day on which ‘we the people’ gave to ourselves this constitution.

It would have been so much more proper for farmers to keep to neatly defined, peripheral routes for their tractor parade. After all, these routes on the outskirts of Delhi symbolised their place in the governmental imaginary. At the heart of this imaginary remains the political executive, shored up by military might, an indulgent judiciary, a pliant bureaucracy, fawning corporatised media, and ever-ascendant big business. Representatives of these pliant groups were no doubt invited to the official parade, replete with displays of military might and tableaus of the peaceful and prosperous federal units of India.Read More »

INDIAN FARMERS’ MOVEMENT 

Fact-Check: Flags Hoisted at Red Fort Neither Replaced Tricolour, Nor Promoted Khalistan

Pooja Chaudhuri and Priyanka Jha

The Wire | January 26, 2021

As part of the protests against the Centre’s farm bills, farmers’ unions and the Delhi police had chalked out agreed-upon circular routes from Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri borders for the Republic Day tractor parades.

It was decided that the protesters will enter Delhi but remain in areas near the border from the three entry points. Several protesting groups, however, veered off the course and were met with police lathicharge and tear gas shells. They entered the iconic Red Fort and hoisted flags from some domes and from a flagstaff, on the ramparts of the fort, used to unfurl the tricolour on Independence Day.Read More »