Indian farmers’ struggle: International Women’s Day celebrated with huge mobilizations

Peoples Dispatch | March 11, 2021

On March 8, tens of thousands of women gathered at the borders of Indian capital New Delhi where the current farmers’ agitation is going on to celebrate International Women’s Day. They demanded rights and recognition as farmers, and continued the struggle against the three farm laws passed by the far-right Narendra Modi government.Read More »


‘What is Your Name?’ ‘Azad!’

Remembering Chandrashekhar Azad(1906–1931)

Prabal Saran Agarwal

The Citizen | February 21, 2021

The revolutionary freedom fighter Chandrashekhar Azad is usually remembered only by the famous photograph in which he is twirling his moustache bare-chested, and wearing a janeu ritual thread, a symbol of masculine nationalism.

Deeper research into his life and political career reveals not only the truth behind this photograph but the progressive political ideas of Azad, who led the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, a revolutionary socialist organisation founded by Bhagat Singh and others in September 1928.Read More »


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 »


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 »


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 »


Chamoli Glacier Burst: Himalayan Blunders Compounded

Sunita Narain

Down To Earth | February 12, 2021

The devastated Rishiganga power project at Tapovan, Uttarakhand. Photo: Manmeet Singh

The devastated Rishiganga power project at Tapovan, Uttarakhand. Photo: Manmeet Singh The devastated Rishiganga power project at Tapovan, Uttarakhand. Photo: Manmeet Singh

The flash flood in high Himalayas, which has claimed lives and wiped out two hydroelectric plants on the Ganga, should be a grim reminder of the mistakes we continue to make. There is no rocket science here about why this devastation happened. The Himalayas are the world’s youngest mountain ranges, prone to erosion and landslides and unstable because of high seismic activity.

This is compounded by the sheer madness — I will explain why I say this — of development, with hydropower projects being built back to back. On top of this, climate change and its resultant warming of glaciers and unseasonal snow and heat are exacerbating conditions in the already fragile ecosystem. On February 7, 2021, the people of Reni village — the birthplace of India’s environmental consciousness as this is where the women stopped the felling of trees — say they heard a loud bang. Read More »


Chamoli Glacier Burst: It Is Time to Learn From Our Mistakes

Shailshree Tewari

Down To Earth | February 07, 2021

A glacier broke after an avalanche in the Joshimath area of the state’s Chamoli district. Photo: Twitter

Human activities profoundly affect the earth’s climate and mountains are a sensitive indicator of that effect. The mountain ecosystem is easily disrupted by variations in climate owing to their altitude, slope and orientation to the sun.

Several scientists believe that the change occurring in the mountain ecosystems may provide an early glimpse of what could come to pass in a lowland environment. As the earth heats up, mountains glaciers melt at unprecedented rates, while rare plants and animals struggle to survive over ever diminishing areas. As a result, people living in the mountains face a great deal of hardship.Read More »


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. | 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 »


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 »


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 »