“The bed, the cupboard, the table … nothing is there … The water had risen above our heads”

By aathira konikkara | 21 August 2018
The whirring blades of a descending helicopter drew the attention of everyone present in Christian College in Angadickal village in Chengannur, late in the afternoon on 19 August. “Look, it’s an airplane,” a young girl told her mother, who told me that they had come to “just watch” what was unfolding on the ground adjoining the campus. For many others currently residing in this town, however, the arrival and departure of the Indian Air Force helicopters—which carried food, water and other supplies—had become an essential feature of their day. Many of them had recently moved to a relief camp set up at the college to escape the worst flood they had seen in their lifetime, and that Kerala had seen in nearly a century.

“I Should Not Allow Myself to be Scared”: Narendra Dabholkar on Facing Threats from Religious Organisations

By Narendra Dabholkar | 20 August 2018
Five years ago today, the rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune. Dabholkar was a well-known anti-superstition activist in Maharashtra, and a prolific writer in Marathi, though little of his work is available outside the state. This year, a compilation of Dabholkar’s writings that was originally published as a Marathi book Timiratuni Tejakade in 2010, will be released as a two-volume series in English by the publishing house Context. The book has been translated by Suman Oak, a long-time associate of Dabholkar who worked with him closely at the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, referred to in the book as ANiS, an anti-superstition organisation that the late rationalist founded in 1989. 

How religious politics masked as issues of sanitation led to the shutdown of Delhi’s Idgah slaughterhouse in 2009

By Zarin Ahmad | 14 August 2018
In her recent book, Delhi’s Meatscapes: Muslim Butchers in a Transforming Mega-City, the researcher Zarin Ahmad traces the journey of meat from the farm to the margins of Delhi, where butchers are able to work and sell their meat. Ahmad follows the lives of the Qureshi community in Delhi, and the challenges they have faced in their traditional occupation as butchers, in an environment that is increasingly hostile towards the consumption of cow meat. In the following extract, she chronicles the history of an abattoir in Delhi’s Idgah locality, how in the early 1990s a “plethora of” organisations joined the movement against cow slaughter, and how arguments that it was a “health hazard” eventually led to the slaughterhouse to be shut down in 2009. Taking note of the recommendation of a court-appointed commission—to relocate the Idgah abattoir—and the observations of its dissenting members, Ahmad writes that “the hygiene discourse was in fact a cover-up for deep-rooted aversion and discrimination.”    

अमित शाह ने चुनावी हलफनामे में नहीं दी उस वित्तीय देनदारी की जानकारी जिसकी वजह से मिला था बेटे की कंपनी को क्रेडिट; जय शाह की फर्म को पिछले एक साल में मिलने वाले वाले क्रेडिट में नाटकीय बढ़ोतरी

By KAUSHAL SHROFF | 13 August 2018
अमित शाह ने बेटे जय शाह की फर्म कुसुम फिनसर्व एलएलपी के लिए अपनी दो संपत्तियों को गिरवी रखा था। कुसुम फिनसर्व की बिगड़ती आर्थिक स्थिति के बावजूद पिछले कुछ वर्षों में मिलने वाली  क्रेडिट सुविधाओं में नाटकीय रूप से तेजी देखने को मिली है। हालांकि, भाजपा के राष्ट्रीय अध्यक्ष अमित शाह द्वारा 2017 में दाखिल किए गए चुनावी हलफनामे में  क्रेडिट सुविधाओं के बदले इस देनदारी के ब्यौरे का कहीं कोई जिक्र नहीं मिलता है। सार्वजनिक रूप से मौजूद दस्तावेजों के अनुसार 2016 में कुसुम फिनसर्व के 25 करोड़ रुपए के क्रेडिट के लिए अमित शाह की दो संपत्तियों को कालुपुर कामर्शियल को-ऑपरेटिव बैंक में गिरवी रखा गया था। यह गुजरात का सबसे बड़ा को-ऑपरेटिव बैंक है। कारवां  द्वारा हासिल किए गए नए दस्तावेज यह दर्शाते हैं कि 2016 से अब तक कुसुम फिनसर्व को दो बैंकों और एक सरकारी उपक्रम से 97.35 करोड़ रुपए की क्रेडिट सुविधा मिली है। कंपनी द्वारा यह क्रेडिट पांच हिस्सों में क्रमश: 10.35 करोड़ रुपए, 25 करोड़ रुपए, 15 करोड़ रुपए, 30 करोड़ रुपए और 17 करोड़ रुपए के रूप में हासिल किया गया। कुसुम फिनसर्व को मिलने वाले क्रेडिट में पिछले एक वर्ष के दौरान 300 फीसदी तक की बढ़ोतरी हुई है, जबकि कंपनी की ताजा बैलेंसशीट में इस की कुल जमा पूंजी मात्र 5.83 करोड़ रुपए दर्शाई गई है। अहमदाबाद की जिन तीन प्रॉपर्टी के बदले जय शाह की फर्म को क्रेडिट सुविधाओं मिली, जिसमें शिलाज गांव स्थित 3,839 वर्गमीटर व 459 वर्गमीटर के दो प्लॉट और बोडकदेव के सार्थिक-2 कॉम्प्लेक्स के तीसरे फ्लोर में स्थित 186 वर्गमीटर का ऑफिस स्पेस शामिल है।

The “discernible lack of transparency” in 360-degree empanelment is “rather unfair to the officer”: Former cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar

By Nileena MS | 12 August 2018
KM Chandrasekhar served as the cabinet secretary, the highest post in the Indian civil service, for four years from 2007–11. Chandrasekhar is an Indian Administrative Services officer from the 1970 batch of the Kerala cadre and served a 15-year-long tenure with the central government. During this period, he served as a joint secretary to the minister of commerce, a revenue secretary, the deputy chief of mission in the Indian embassy at Brussels, and India’s ambassador to the World Trade Organisation.

Why India’s civil servants are disaffected with the 360-degree empanelment process for top central government posts

By Nileena MS | 12 August 2018
In April 2015, the central government introduced the 360-degree appraisal procedure for the empanelment of civil servants for central government posts. Three years on, while the government is yet to frame any guidelines for its implementation, the process has received heavy criticism for its lack of transparency and its susceptibility to discrimination. Empanelment is the process through which a pool of civil-service officers is selected for appointment to the top bureaucratic posts of joint secretary and above with the government of India. The 360-degree appraisal system, or the Multi Source Feedback—introduced as an additional overarching step during the review for empanelment—is designed to consider feedback on the candidates from peers, subordinates, and other stakeholders, in addition to superiors.

Amit Shah omits liability that secured credit for son’s business in electoral affidavit; Dramatic increase in credit facilities to son’s firm in last year

By KAUSHAL SHROFF | 10 August 2018
Amit Shah mortgaged two of his properties for his son Jay Shah’s business venture Kusum Finserve LLP, which has recorded dramatic increase in credit facilities in recent years despite its poor finances. The BJP national president’s contingent liability with respect to this credit facility is, however, missing from his 2017 electoral affidavit. Publicly available documents indicate that in 2016, two of Amit Shah’s properties were mortgaged to the Kalupur Commercial Co-operative Bank, one of Gujarat’s largest cooperative banks, to secure Rs 25 crore in credit for Kusum Finserve. New documents accessed by The Caravan show that since 2016, Kusum Finserve has secured credit facilities amounting to Rs 97.35 crore—in tranches of Rs 10.35 crore, Rs 25 crore, Rs 15 crore, Rs 30 crore, and Rs 17 crore—from two banks, and one government undertaking. The credit extended to Kusum Finserve has gone up by nearly 300 percent in the last year, even while its latest reported balance sheets show a net worth of only Rs 5.83 crore.

When Naveen Patnaik deceived BJD leader Bijoy Mohapatra pre-empting a challenge to his authority

By Ruben Banerjee | 9 August 2018
In 1997, the death of the veteran Odia politician Bijayananda Patnaik opened the space for his 51-year-old son, Naveen Patnaik, to contest elections for the first time. At the time, political leaders in the state expected Naveen to attract voters who were sympathetic to his father, but did not have greater expectations of the debutant politician. But Naveen has surprised his sceptics—he is presently serving his fourth consecutive term as the chief minister of Odisha.

Hastings vs Hicky: The defamation trial against the publisher of India’s first newspaper

By Andrew Otis | 6 August 2018
In his recent book, the American scholar Andrew Otis chronicles the journey of Hicky’s Bengal Gazette—India’s first major newspaper, printed from Calcutta in 1780. The newspaper was founded by a poor Irishman named James Augustus Hicky, and sold for Re 1 every Saturday. It immediately became a “sensation,” Otis writes, laying bare the underbelly of the early British Empire. 

Why introducing death penalty for first-time offenders under the NDPS Act would do little to deter Punjab’s opioid epidemic

By Anup Surendranath | 4 August 2018
In December 2015, at an election rally in Bathinda, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh swore by the “Gutka”—the Sikh holy book—that he would wipe out the “drug menace”in the state within four weeks if elected. After nearly 17 months in power, it is clear that he underestimated this challenge. In June, news of over 20 drug-related deaths provoked fear and outrage in Punjab. Videos of parents grieving over their dead children went viral on social media, and spurred, to a large extent, protests in various districts in the state. In an interview to the Hindustan Times in July, Singh seemed unfazed by this mobilisation. He suggested that it was the duty of the public to tackle the menace: “It has started becoming a movement, and that’s the only way it can be sorted out. Police can only bring pressure.” He also suggested that it was a good thing that people in certain villages were taking the law into their own hands to thrash drug peddlers and “those taking drugs.” The next step, perhaps, will be to speak of good lynchings and bad lynchings.