On 9 July, the Times of India’s Sunday edition carried a full front-page advertisement for Cryptocurrency for Beginners: an e-book written by the entrepreneur Amit Bhardwaj, priced at a steep Rs 1,499. The ad boasted that the book was “Introducing everyone to the world of cryptocurrencies and how it is changing the financial landscape.” Around the same time, Bhardwaj also issued front-page ads in other major dailies, including The Hindu, the Economic Times and Dainik Jagaran.
In early June 2017, Saitya Brata Das, an associate professor at the Centre for English Studies (CES) in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), was denied a promotion
to the post of professor. Das alleged that he was not given the post due to his caste, and that M Jagadesh Kumar, the vice chancellor of the university, was responsible for this action. According to Das, caste discrimination against faculty members belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had always existed at JNU, in “subtle” forms. He added that the manifestation of this discrimination, especially from the administration, became “blatant” after Jagadesh took over as the university’s vice chancellor, in January 2016. The personal testimonies of faculty members belonging to these communities and the record of the university’s appointments and promotions seemed to reflect this discrimination. “Born as a Dalit, I’ve become used to discrimination,” Das told me. “I’ve spoken out now because it affects my academic career.”
On 4 August, a district court in Delhi passed an order granting an injunction on the book, Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev, by the journalist Priyanka Pathak-Narain, published by Juggernaut Books. In the book, Pathak-Narain recounts her investigation into Ramdev’s rise from a yoga guru in Haridwar to founding and running the Patanjali group, India’s second-largest fast-moving consumer goods company. She writes about how the godman secured prime slots at devotional channels such as Aastha TV; his role in the anti-corruption movement of 2011; as well as the crimes that appear to surround him—including the mysterious deaths of his two associates, Rajeev Dixit and Swami Yogananda, and the disappearance of his guru, Shankar Dev.
In her latest book, Monuments Matter: India’s Archeological Heritage Since Independence, the historian Nayanjot Lahiri discusses the impact that the division of India had on its monuments and on the nature of its archaeological work, as well as the evolution of this work through the decades since then. Lahiri notes how Partition surprisingly spurred the Indian state’s archaeological efforts, and examines the roles played by several government institutions in protecting historical heritage, including the Archaeological Survey of India. Constituted in undivided India, the ASI was responsible for the division of the archaeological heritage such as art and artefacts between India and Pakistan. Presently, under the ministry of culture, it continues to be the apex body for preservation of monuments and archaeological artefacts. Lahiri also discusses how legislation and judicial intervention impacted the efforts to preserve sites that are “dead”—no longer in use—and the living monuments that continue to be important to the culture of those currently residing in the nation.
In the heart of Delhi, near Karol Bagh, is a sprawling neighborhood named Rehgar Pura that hums with the sounds and sights of urban life. The streets are lined with narrow buildings, residences stacked above bustling commercial establishments—wholesale and retail shops, godowns and small leather and garment production units. The neighborhood is well known in the city as a primary trading hub for leather goods. Yet for all its commercial renown and central location, Rehgar Pura barely marks a presence in the social landscape of the city. It is one of many invisible neighbourhoods, which, despite their long histories, do not feature in city guidebooks. Yet Rehgar Pura is a prime site of South Asian history even in its invisibility. It is entrenched in the politics of the formation of modern India and Pakistan—the history of Partition.
On 10 July, India reported the diagnosis of its fourth case of the Zika virus
, in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district. The patient first presented with symptoms—fever, headache, photophobia, among others—on 28 June. He visited a local primary healthcare centre, and was treated with paracetamol. When he returned to the health centre on the subsequent day with the same symptoms, the medical professionals sent his blood samples for further testing to the Manipal Centre for Virus Research in Karnataka. The test returned positive for the virus, and the result was then confirmed by two other medical institutes
. Within 11 days of its detection, the state government released information of the case to the public.
Between November 2016 and February 2017, three people in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, tested positive for the Zika Virus. The first was a woman who developed a fever after delivering a baby, and who recovered within a week. The other two cases—a pregnant woman in her early 20s, and a 65-year-old man—were identified during screenings conducted in January and February 2017. The existence of these cases however, was not publicly known until much later—on 26 May, the World Health Organisation published a report
regarding these cases on its website. The WHO said that the Indian government had notified it of the cases only in mid May—over six months after the first case was diagnosed. The report was followed by a significant outrage among the public-health community, much of which was severely critical of the government’s delay in informing WHO.
It was the first week of May. The summer sun beat down on Lanjigarh, a town in the Kalahandi district of western Odisha, which appeared to have been reduced to an industrial wasteland. Beyond the stockpiles of toxic red mud and desert flats of fly ash, born from the refining of bauxite—the primary ore of aluminium— lay our destination: the thickly-forested Niyamgiri hills.
Priyanka Pathak-Narain is a journalist who covered religion and business for the newspaper Mint for several years. In her book, Godman to Tycoon: the Untold Story of Baba Ramdev, Pathak-Narain covers his rise from a yoga guru in Haridwar to founding and running what is now India’s second-largest fast-moving consumer good, or FMCG, company—the Patanjali group. She writes about how he secured prime slots at devotional channels such as Aastha TV; his role in the anti-corruption movement of 2011; as well as the crimes that appear to surround him—including the mysterious deaths of his two associates, Rajeev Dixit and Swami Yogananda, and the disappearance of his guru, Shankar Dev.
On 21 July, during the parliament’s monsoon session, CR Chaudhary, the minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, stated in the Rajya Sabha
that the government has issued around 231 million rations cards covering almost 80 crore beneficiaries to food subsidies under the National Food Security Act of 2013
. The NFSA aims to make food a legal entitlement in India by providing monthly subsidised food grains to at least 75 percent of the country’s rural population and 50 percent of its urban population.