Fifty Years Ago, Hindutva Groups Led the First Attack on the Indian Parliament

By ISHAN MARVEL | 7 November 2016
Nearly 35 years before the attack orchestrated by the Laskhar-e-Taiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed took place in 2001, on 7 November 1966, a massive protest comprising nearly 125,000 people charged the Indian parliament. The protest was part of a movement for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter, led by various Hindutva groups. In his September 2016 story, In the Name of the Mother, Ishan Marvel reported on how the state is nurturing the gau rakshaks, or cow-protection vigilantes, of Haryana. In the following excerpt from the story, Marvel recounts the first-ever attack, and how it was a “a day of violence and vandalism.”

Under Prescribed: Why Indian TB Patients Are Unable to Access New Medication for Treatment

By Atul Loke | 6 November 2016
Twenty-five-year old Hanif lives with his wife, mother and two children in a small ground-floor apartment, in the Govandi area in Mumbai. In 2012, Hanif was diagnosed with extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis, or XDR-TB, a form of tuberculosis that is resistant to the standard drugs for treatment, as well as some second-line drugs. At the time, he worked as a salesman in a shopping mall in the city. “Initially I was okay and was on treatment, energetic, and had a normal weight, and could lift heavy things,” he said. “But then suddenly my mind became blocked, I stopped interacting with people, I used to talk senseless—blah-blah-blah—and would trouble everyone a lot. I used to feel like a living corpse. I never felt that I was alive.” For four years, he received treatment at three different clinics in the city. But the treatment was not regular, and as a result, ineffective. One of the clinics, for instance, which provided him with drugs, “was a charity dependent on donations, and sometimes would run out of money.”

Why the Parliament Must Carefully Consider A Private Members’ Bill to Decriminalise Natural Drugs

By Amandeep Sandhu | 4 November 2016
In the coming winter session of the Parliament, which begins on 16 November 2016, Dharam Vira Gandhi, a member of parliament from Patiala who was suspended from the Aam Aadmi Party in August 2015, will table a private member’s bill to amend the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. The bill proposes that the definition of “narcotics” and “psychotropic substances” in the act, which currently includes all drugs, be classified into “soft” drugs—which are naturally grown, such as opium and poppy husk—and “hard” drugs—which are synthetic compounds and laboratory or industry-made chemicals. The proposed amendment also suggests that the possession of soft drugs be decriminalised, and its growth and sale be regulated by the government. “We are seeking a classification of drugs so petty drug users are not unnecessarily penalised,” Gandhi, who is a heart specialist, told me when I met him in October in Patiala, at his clinic, which was teeming with patients. Gandhi said that the regulated supply of opium and poppy husk for medical and personal use would be crucial in providing relief to drug users and to “rid society of dangerous unsupervised medical and synthetic drugs.”

How Liquor and Crime Shaped Bengaluru: An Excerpt from TJS George’s “Askew”

By TJS GEORGE | 3 November 2016
In his 2016 book Askew: A Short Biography of Bangalore, the senior journalist and author TJS George writes about the growth of Bengaluru, before and after it became known throughout the world as a hub for India’s burgeoning information technology sector. George writes about the different avatars Bengaluru has taken since Independence—a pensioner’s haven until the early 1980s, a hub for entrepreneurs after, and, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, home to a software revolution, all the while growing at an alarming rate and without proper urban planning, riddled with crime and corruption. “Looked at the through the lens of a Wordsworth poem,” George writes, “Bangalore in its youth began in gladness but therof came in the end despondency and madness.” In the following excerpt from the book, George describes how Bengaluru’s other major industry—liquor—shaped the city, and the atypical relationship it shared with both politics and crime.

“I Cannot Live With the Idea of Modi and Me in the Same Frame”: Akshaya Mukul Boycotts the Ramnath Goenka Awards

By Sandeep Bhushan | 2 November 2016
On 2 November 2016, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi presides over the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards—instituted by the Indian Express in honour of its founder—at least one recipient is conspicuous by his absence. Akshaya Mukul, a senior journalist from the Times of India, has boycotted the ceremony. Instead, Krishan Chopra, the publisher and chief editor at HarperCollins India, the publishers of his book, Gita Press and the Making of Hindu India, received the award on his behalf.

“My Sweetest Thoughts Have Been With You”: Habib Tanvir’s Letters to Jill MacDonald

By Jill MacDonald | 28 October 2016
In June 1958, the renowned theatre activist Habib Tanvir had just moved to India after spending over two years travelling around Europe, exploring different forms of theatre. Before he began his trip, he met Jill MacDonald, a young English teenager, at the Edinburgh Festival in 1955. Tanvir and MacDonald began a long exchange of letters that continued when he moved back to India. The couple met briefly while he was in Europe but the nature of their next few meetings, which occurred in India, is contested. In his memoirs, which were published in 2013, Tanvir mentions MacDonald almost in passing—he describes her once as a young woman who “was going to come to India with my child in her womb,” and later, as the mother of their child, Anna, born in 1964. But MacDonald’s account of their relationship differs significantly. “It is important to explain that the book does not read like a consciously crafted memoir,” she wrote in a 2014 piece published on Vantage, The Caravan. “It is put together as a series of vignettes describing memorable individuals and events, interlaced with thoughts on the progress of theatre and recollections of love affairs, all without chronological order. As such, some of the accounts tend to be incomplete and at least one, even though short, is decidedly inaccurate.” MacDonald followed her assertion with a brief account of her relationship with Tanvir.

The Case for Millets: Despite Calls by Scientists and Activists, The Coarse Grain Remains Unavailable Under PDS

By Shawn Sebastian | 27 October 2016
On 2 September 2013, an adamant United Progressives Alliance government sailed through stiff opposition in the Rajya Sabha to pass an ambitious legislation: the National Food Security Act. The NFSA, which had been in the making for nearly a decade, aimed to make food a legal entitlement of the population. Under it, 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of the urban population—nearly 800 million people at the time—would receive subsidised food grains. The act promised nutritional security to women and children in particular, and mooted the digitisation of ration cards to prevent leakages and duplication in public distribution systems, or PDS. It also proposed plans to revitalise India’s agriculture in favour of small and marginal farmers.

The Impaired Lawyer: Why We Need To Talk About Mental Health In The Legal Profession

By Govind Manoharan | 23 October 2016
On a warm August morning, as I was waiting for my matter to be called for a hearing in court number two of the Supreme Court, I saw a fellow lawyer who appeared to be about my age, sitting in the gallery. Every day, nearly 3,000 lawyers of various descriptions—of varying practices, ages and even gown forms—occupy the corridors of the Supreme Court. They are uniform only in the black and white hues of their attire. The man I noticed was staring at his brief and talking quietly to himself. Although he caught my attention, his actions did not strike me as particularly odd—after all, he could have been doing anything, from practicing his submissions to recreating a recent conversation he had with someone. Soon enough, he realised that I had been looking at him. He did not smile at me, as lawyers often do at each other in the corridors, regardless of whether they know each other. “Does your boss shout at you?” he asked.
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