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Millions of women volunteers form India’s frontline COVID response

Vijayalakshmi Sharma rang the doorbell of an apartment in a sprawling housing complex in Noida, a satellite city of New Delhi that has been designated a COVID-19 red zone. As she waited for someone to answer the door, she tightened her dupatta, a traditional long scarf,around her head, and adjusted her surgical mask. She tapped…

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‘They treat us like stray dogs’: Migrant workers flee India’s cities

Along the Barabanki highway outside Lucknow—the capital of India’s largest state, Uttar Pradesh—a spring morning finds two men asleep under a tree, limbs askew. One of them lies on a worn-out black throw with colorful stripes; the other sleeps on a discarded white gunny sack, near bicycles with duffel bags attached. Another three men sleep…

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Handwashing helps stop COVID-19. But in India, water is scarce

In the village of Kaithi, in the Bundelkhand region in north central India, there is one shared tap for every five households. Bundelkhand has suffered 13 droughts in the last two decades. Water shortage is a way of life there. And with COVID-19 now spreading rapidly, people in Kaithi and other villages face a disconcerting…

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India’s New Laws Hurt Women Most of All

India’s New Laws Hurt Women Most of All On the evening of Dec. 16, 2019, a group of conservative, middle-aged Muslim women in hijabs and burqas began a peaceful sit-in at Shaheen Bagh—a Muslim-majority, working-class neighborhood in South Delhi—blocking a major road that connects the Indian capital to its suburbs. A few days earlier, on…

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Bookkeeper of nature’s services

Bookkeeper of nature’s services Two little words sum up the philosophy of environment economist Pavan Sukhdev. Value nature, says this year’s winner of the prestigious Tyler Prize, often described as the “Nobel Prize for Environment”, which was announced today. The former banker’s environmental activism has been marked by transformative ideas combining economics, policy and a…

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‘Nobel for environment’: India’s Pavan Sukhdev wins Tyler Prize

‘Nobel for environment’: India’s Pavan Sukhdev wins Tyler Prize Since 2008, Indian banker-turned-environmentalist Pavan Sukhdev has been warning the world about the kind of climate catastrophe currently unfolding in countries such as Brazil and Australia. On Monday, Sukhdev, 59, was awarded this year’s Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement, often called the “Nobel prize for environment“, for “revolutionising how decision-makers would come…

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‘Women Don’t Give Up.’ Why Female Protesters Are at the Forefront of India’s Resistance Movement

‘Women Don’t Give Up.’ Why Female Protesters Are at the Forefront of India’s Resistance Movement Nusra Ara had only just fallen asleep when the phone rang. It was 10 a.m. on Tuesday and though she had returned home seven hours earlier, she stayed up cooking, cleaning, packing lunch boxes and…

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Why This Indian State Is Witnessing the Country’s Most Violent Anti Citizenship-Law Protests

Why This Indian State Is Witnessing the Country’s Most Violent Anti Citizenship-Law Protests On Wednesday, cries of “kagaz nahin dikhayenge” (we wont show papers), “Tanasahi nahin chalegi” (we won’t allow dictatorship) rang out at the iconic India Gate in Delhi as protesters took a pledge to defend the…

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Sadaf Jafar, a woman who would not be silenced

Sadaf Jafar, a woman who would not be silenced Is it because Jafar’s voice had constantly rang out from Lucknow, sometimes reaching thousands through her Facebook videos, resisting divisive politics, injustices, even arbitrary arrests? Jafar has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s Hindutva politics, much before she…

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MJ Akbar-Priya Ramani defamation case: Defense counsel team’s conduct at recent hearing proves women battle patriarchy in courtrooms too

MJ Akbar-Priya Ramani defamation case: Defense counsel team’s conduct at recent hearing proves women battle patriarchy in courtrooms too When Ghazala Wahab was testifying against MJ Akbar in court, there was reportedly a snigger from the defense counsel’s bench. Wahab’s mocking at the hands of Luthra’s team was widely reported in the media. The reports…

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Mr Narendra Modi, Where Is Najeeb?

Mr Narendra Modi, Where Is Najeeb? It’s been four years since a young, underprivileged Muslim student disappeared from a residential university in India, reportedly after a squabble with some right-wing students. His story had faded from public memory. We don’t talk about Najeeb Ahmed anymore. But the fresh state-sponsored crackdown on Indian universities and police…

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Activist Deepak Kabir’s wife says he was arrested for asking about missing protesters, claims he is paying price for confronting injustice

Anti-CAA protests: Activist Deepak Kabir’s wife says he was arrested for asking about missing protesters, claims he is paying price for confronting injustice – Firstpost Deepak Kabir was reportedly assaulted by half a dozen police officers who hit him with batons and rifle butts for trying to speak up for the arrested protesters. The 48-year-old…

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Not Modi’s India Anymore

Not Modi’s India Anymore By Nilanjana Bhowmicknewint.org — 6 January 2020Ongoing countrywide protests are rooted in a battle for India’s secular values, argues Nilanjana Bhowmick. Demonstrators attend a protest against a new citizenship law, outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, January 1, 2020. REUTERS/Anushree FadnavisA 31-year-old Muslim woman, Bijoli Bano ekes out a…

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The invisible green warriors

View From India (New Internationalist Magazine) Nilanjana Bhowmick heralds India’s most overshadowed environmentalists: waste-pickersRag pickers collect recyclable material at a garbage dump in New Delhi November 19, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood Old Indian homes from the country’s colonial past – often raved about in style glossies – usually have elegant, long, spiralling iron stairs at the back. These…

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How women in India demanded—and are getting—safer streets

India’s urban women have long risked harm just by walking down the street. Now there are signs of progress, in burgeoning programs to make spaces safer and increase penalties for assailants. This feature explores the steps taken by local Indian women to lessen horrific crimes and keep them safe. READ THE ARTICLE HERE (This appears…

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50 Days and Counting…

In August, India stripped Kashmir’s autonomy, cutting off internet amidst mass arrests. Will the UN intervene? JOURNALISM IN VERSE My mother’s tears have not fallenbut her face grows harder and harder.I scrunch my eyespretending I can seethe semblance of a smile,that I can hear the main door creak,that my brother is home.My mother doesn’t,her days…

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A Numbers Game

India has one of the largest populations of illiterate people in the world at 266 million, amounting to 35 per cent of the global total. This is a huge concern for a developing country, which is expected to become the world’s second-largest economy by the year 2050 and which will have the youngest population in…

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10 Years Of Right To Education: A Progress Report

By 2030, India is poised to become the world’s third-largest economy with the largest young, working population globally. The RTE could usher in rich dividends in its growth story and help it gain a huge advantage over arch-rival China and its rapidly ageing population. It is well timed (never a day early, actually), but could…

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Time is Money

On average, commuters in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata spend 1.5 hours more travelling each day than their fellow commuters in other Asian cities during peak hours, according to the Boston Consulting Group. Meanwhile, the number of vehicles on our roads – as a daily driver I am painfully aware of my own contribution –…

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What’s Next for Indians Living Under Modi?

Modi’s individual popularity had seen a surge despite declining support for his lawmakers and policies. His ‘earthliness’, a carefully crafted image that contrasts with the elite, English-speaking opposition in the centre-left Congress Party, continued to make him a favourite of the aspiring middle classes, who identify with his rags-to-riches story to the extent that it…

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The Poet Has Left the Room

Bhattacharya’s most iconic poem, written in Bengali, “This Valley of Death is Not Mine,” is a chilling reminder of the way cycles of democracy, interspersed with periods of absolute fascism, both feed off each other. He knew fascism would raise its ugly head in his country again. He was absolutely certain. The poem—written in early…

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May 23 Will Not Be a Defining Moment in the History of Secular India

Exit polls on Sunday evening predicted a second landslide win for the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, renewing a question that was asked repeatedly over the past few weeks: whether India can handle another five years of Modi. Here’s the short answer. Yes, it can. There’s a long answer…

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Lok Sabha polls: Patriarchy shrouds women’s vote in Bundelkhand as men go all out to ensure status quo

The unpaved road leads to a haphazard colony of mostly makeshift and a few pucca houses in Mauranipur, in Jhansi district in Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region. The lanes are narrow, the sewers are blocked with fallen leaves and sludgy water. Cows masticate nonchalantly on a sliver of ground visible from between two houses. The daughters-in-law…

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In Uttar Pradesh’s Jhansi, toilets built under Swachh Bharat Mission exist only on paper, open defecation continues

I stood there struggling to make myself fit in the tin-box. The two feet by feet (barely), windowless container was one of the over 90 million toilets India claims to have built under Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the past five years. In trying to figure out how to negotiate my limbs, the curious journey…

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India: men and #MeToo

Why are Indian men feeling unsafe? Nilanjana Bhowmick reacts to the ‘unease’ expressed by Indian men in today’s #MeToo era. READ FULL ARTICLE

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When viral hashtags promote religious extremism

In our hyper-connected world, hashtags are often a state of mind. A recent popular hashtag campaign made it clear to me that polarization and the religious divide are firmly entrenched in India. On 17 July, #TalkToAMuslim trended at #1 on Twitter. Over 500 Twitterati picked it up, followed by hundreds of thousands of ‘impressions’. Of…

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Make Our Digital Backyard Safe

India has been patting itself on the back for being at the forefront of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ driven by digitisation. Reports have gushed about the speed and scale of digitisation. But this speed and scale have come at a cost to our privacy. READ FULL ARTICLE

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Anger is consuming India

What stands out in the Karbi Anglong video is unbridled, savage anger. It points to the unshakable fact that much of India has been overtaken by a sense of insecurity, fear and paranoia. This anger is now targeted against anything that doesn’t fit our narrow definitions. The anger could be over differences in religion, caste, community, or merely way of…

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Militant Hinduism and the Reincarnation of Hanuman

Last Sunday, I was stuck in traffic on my way to Noida’s Sector 18. Craning my neck, I saw a sea of saffron ahead of me – men in saffron kurtas and turbans, on motorbikes, carrying swords, tridents and knives. They chanted ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Jai Hanuman’ and ‘Hindustan Humara Hai’. My taxi driver, a young…

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Why is Modi playing down the deaths of children in an Indian hospital?

Nilanjana Bhowmick is a journalist and writer in India. India this week celebrated 70 years of freedom. It should ​have been in a state of mourning. Leading up to the 70th anniversary of India’s independence from British rule, at least 63 children, among them 34 infants, died in a state-run hospital in the town of Gorakhpur —…

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Maid in India. Unmade in Noida

A couple hires a maid. The maid goes missing and the heat is squarely on them because she was last known to have gone to their house. The woman’s family is worried sick. They try looking for her with the help of the police. But when all else fails and the woman is finally handed…

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Modi’s Party Stokes Anti-Muslim Violence In India, Report Says

A joint report by two rights groups accuses Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its active promotion of Hindu nationalism for the spike in communal violence in India since it came to power in 2014. According to official statistics, India witnessed more than 700 outbreaks of communal violence last year that killed 86…

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As India’s Muslims are lynched, Modi keeps silent

On June 23, three days before India celebrated Eid, 15-year-old Junaid Khan was stabbed to death by a group of men aboard a train. He was going home to Khandawli, a village in the north Indian state of Haryana, after shopping for new clothes in New Delhi, accompanied by his brother and a couple of…

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Meet the militant monk spreading Islamophobia in India

On Monday, Amnesty International released an unusual statement asking the new chief minister of India’s largest state to publicly retract his anti-Muslim statements. The last such statement by the human rights organization directed at a popularly elected leader was aimed at President Trump. Amnesty’s statement came after hard-line Hindu monk Yogi Adityanath took power last week in Uttar…

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Racist Attacks In India Give China The Edge In Africa

If India is in competition with China for a toehold in Africa, as geopolitical experts say, the past week’s racist attacks on the streets near New Delhi must have set it back far behind its northern neighbor. For three years in a row, India has been in the news for racist attacks against African nationals. The…

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India’s feminists need to address why so many Indian women are killing themselves

While women across the Western world were waking up to the momentous Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, women in India were already taking to the streets in more than 22 cities and towns across the country. Both marches were essentially feminist protests against misogyny, fueled by the organizing power of social media. The Indian…

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50 days of Demonetisation: A hollow war on black money

         How does one understand and explain the chaos that has been unfolding in  India over the last 50 days, ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in one strike banned India’s two highest denomination notes? We could start with history or we could start with logic. The first will educate. The second…

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What Does the Rest of The World Thinks About the U.S. Elections

  Indeed, this is only the second U.S. presidential election to have inspired such passionate reactions in India, following similar responses when Barack Obama first won. But there is a crucial difference between that election and this one. Back then, India was united in its support for Obama; as the first non-White U.S. president, he represented an underclass…

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Why Banning Surrogacy in India Will Hurt Women

  This August, the Indian government approved a bill to ban commercial and international surrogacy. India, which has long been an important hub of transnational surrogacy, will now only allow altruistic surrogacy for married, heterosexual couples. The ban will kill a legitimate livelihood option for thousands of poor women. READ MORE

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After Nepal, Indian surrogacy clinics move to Cambodia

As India bans foreign surrogacy, clinics look towards Cambodia, but what will it mean for the rights of surrogates? Rita* tucks hungrily into a plate of steaming white rice, daal (lentils), a mixed-vegetable curry, yoghurt and a green salad. Her just-washed hair is gathered at the nape of her neck in a loose bun and…

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India’s embarrassing North Korean connection

Hong Yong-il is the North Korean embassy’s new first secretary to India and has been in the country for just a month. He lives on the first floor of a two-storey house in a tree-lined lane in Delhi’s busy Lajpat Nagar. The apartment is huge but nondescript, sparsely furnished; a modest affair as compared with…

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Football, bicycles, hashtags: how women are reclaiming public space

  On a sultry weekday afternoon, 16-year-old Bhavna came flying out on her bicycle, a blur of black and yellow prints, enmeshed with the black and red of her bike, smelling overwhelmingly of freedom. The narrow alleyways of Madanpur Khadar, a lower-middle-class locality in the Indian capital New Delhi, is just about getting used to…

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Tending the Flock

The plight of the Changpas partly reflects that of Kashmir. The region, divided into Jammu and Kashmir on India’s side and Azad Kashmir on Pakistan’s, has been hotly disputed by the two countries since 1947. READ MORE

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When cash turns to ash: a look at India’s demonetization drive

  On 8 November, India banned two of its highest currency notes to fight graft. In an apparently impromptu address to the nation late evening – as the collective imagination of Indians were focused on the US presidential elections – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the ₹500 (about $7) and ₹1000 (about…

Varanasi’s Secular Dream

Varanasi is still the India we knew and loved, where despite differences and grouses communities co-existed peacefully. However, we are now ruled by Hindutva fanatics, who have been targeting minorities in every possible way, from lynching to exclusion as Indian citizens in the country’s archaic National Register of Citizens, which was revived last year by…