How the Ganga Is Contributing to Increasing Antibiotic Resistance Worldwide

By Victor Mallet | 14 November 2017
In his book River of Life, River of Death: The Ganges and India’s Future, Victor Mallet traces the journey of the river from source to mouth. Mallet, the former South Asia bureau chief for the Financial Times, writes in the book that “Indians are killing the Ganges with pollution, and that the polluted Ganges, in turn, is killing Indians.” The book includes chapters on the history of the Ganga, the distressing fate of the river in Varanasi, the extent of the toxicity of its waters, as well as its significance in the country’s water crisis. In the following extract from the book, Mallet describes the Ganga as a “Superbug river”—host to bacterial genes that expose the water’s users to infectious diseases that are resistant to modern antibiotics. The journalist discusses the role the Ganga and its tributary Yamuna play in the spread of blaNDM-1—a bacterial gene that codes for a protein called NDM-1, or New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, and whose presence can make the carrier highly resistant to antibiotics. Mallet writes that the spread of the gene is a political issue that is closely connected to the Ganga’s state, its sacred position among Hindus, and to India’s sanitation problem.

Demonetisation Punished Those Who Didn’t Do Any Wrong: An Interview with Arun Kumar

By Kedar Nagarajan | 13 November 2017
On 8 November 2016, in an unexpected late-evening message on television, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the government’s decision to pull notes of the Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations from circulation. The aim of this demonetisation, he said, was to “fight against corruption, black money, fake notes and terrorism.” Arun Kumar, an eminent economist who formerly taught at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University, has been amongst the strongest critics of the move. Kumar noted that the move would not tackle the issue of black money, as it does not impede the generation of black income. On 10 November, Kedar Nagarajan, a web reporter at The Caravan, met the economist to discuss the outcomes of the policy decision. Kumar discussed the scheme’s impact on economic growth, employment and on the shift towards a cashless economy.

Corruption Allegations and Courtroom Drama: What Happened in the Chief Justice’s Court Yesterday?

By ATUL DEV | 11 November 2017
“The subject of judicial corruption is taboo, and like the proverbial Chinese monkeys, one shall not see, hear or speak of this evil,” KK Venugopal, the attorney general of India, told an India Today reporter in 1990. “During the early ’80s, rumours of corruption, nepotism and favouritism were like distant thunder. Now they have got louder.” In the subsequent decades, the legal fraternity largely lived by Venugopal’s words; but the thunders clapped closer and closer to the judicial edifice. On the afternoon of 10 November, I saw a storm break loose in the court of the chief justice of India.

The Hadiya Case Represents the Crossroads Between a Sociological Trend of Muslim Alienation and Self-Assertion by Kerala’s Youth

By J Devika | 9 November 2017
On 30 October, the Supreme Court directed that Hadiya, a 25-year-old Malayali woman whose conversion to Islam and choice of a partner who shared her faith is under judicial scrutiny, be brought before the court on 27 November. In August last year, Hadiya’s father Asokan had filed a petition in the Kerala High Court claiming that she had been forcibly converted to Islam. While the case was ongoing, Hadiya married a Muslim man named Shafin Jahan—her father challenged the marriage in the high court as well. In May 2017, in an extreme and unprecedented move, the court annulled her marriage and confined her to her father’s custody. Three months later, while hearing Jahan’s appeal against the high court’s decision, the Supreme Court directed the National Investigation Agency to conduct a probe into the marriage. Rather than remedying the violation of the two citizens’ rights immediately, the apex court chose to embark on an enquiry into the alleged radicalisation of young Hindu women converts in Kerala.

How the Confessions of the Punjab Synthetic-Drug Racket Accused Point to the Involvement of Former Cabinet Minister Bikram Singh Majithia

By HARTOSH SINGH BAL | 8 November 2017
On 8 November, the Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra took over as the president of the Tribune Trust, which manages the national daily The Tribune, in the wake of a controversy following the daily’s front-page apology to the former Punjab cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia. On 29 October, the national daily had published “an unconditional apology” to Majithia for reports from November 2014 and March 2015 “with prominent headlines” that suggested towards his “involvement … with an illegal drug syndicate.” The web publication The Print reported that the daily’s editor-in-chief Harish Khare has “offered his resignation in protest after the apology was forced upon him from the top.”    

Financial Capitalism to Surveillance Capitalism: On the Government Initiatives Towards a Cashless Economy

By PVS Kumar | 8 November 2017
Exactly a year ago, on the evening of 8 November 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a surprise broadcast that beginning midnight, currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 were denominations to be pulled from circulation, and would be rendered invalid for any transactions. On 7 November this year, ANHAD, a non-governmental organisation run by the social activist Shabnam Hashmi, and 32 other organisations released a report titled Demonetisation: Exorcising the “Demon.” Over January and February, ANHAD conducted a survey of 3,647 respondents across 21 states and union territories in the country, on the public perceptions of demonetisation, and its aftermath. In addition to the findings of the survey, the report also includes the analyses of several issues that arose out of the policy decision, such as its effectiveness in dealing with the initial goals of eliminating black money, counterfeit currency, and terror financing; the government’s shifting narratives on the motive behind demonetisation; and the impact on people across the country.

An Account of India’s Attempts to Curb the Black Economy, and Why They Don’t Work

By Arun Kumar | 8 November 2017
Exactly a year ago, on the evening of 8 November 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in a surprise broadcast that beginning midnight, currency notes of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 denominations were to be pulled from circulation, and would be rendered invalid for any transactions. On 7 November this year, ANHAD, a non-governmental organisation run by the social activist Shabnam Hashmi, and 32 other organisations released a report titled Demonetisation: Exorcising the “Demon.” Over January and February, ANHAD conducted a survey of 3,647 respondents across 21 states and union territories in the country, on the public perceptions of demonetisation, and its aftermath. In addition to the findings of the survey, the report also includes the analyses of several issues that arose out of the policy decision, such as its effectiveness in dealing with the initial goals of eliminating black money, counterfeit currency, and terror financing; the government’s shifting narratives on the motive behind demonetisation; and the impact on people across the country.  

How RK Pachauri Systematically Harassed Women at TERI

By NIKITA SAXENA | 7 November 2017
For her July 2016 cover story, “Hostile Climate,” Nikita Saxena, the web editor at The Caravan, investigated the allegations of sexual harassment against RK Pachauri, the former director general of The Energy and Resources Institute, or TERI. Saxena’s reporting suggested that Pachauri had, for years, been systematically harassing women employed at TERI. In the following excerpt from the story, she details the various accounts she heard from present and former women employees of the institute. Saxena’s reporting also uncovered how TERI fostered a tacit acceptance of Pachauri’s conduct, often making it hard for his employees to even recognise his actions as sexual harassment.

How Ties With The Think Tanks Vivekananda International Foundation and India Foundation Enhance Ajit Doval’s Influence

By PRAVEEN DONTHI | 5 November 2017
In “Undercover,” the cover story for the September 2017 issue of The Caravan, Praveen Donthi profiled the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. In the piece, Donthi reported on the NSA’s ties to the Vivekananda International Foundation and the India Foundation. The NSA is the founding director of the former, while his son, Shaurya, is a director of the latter. The two think tanks share close ties with powerful leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh—the VIF’s ties to the RSS are an open secret, and in addition to Shaurya, the India Foundation counts among its directors the cabinet ministers Nirmala Sitharaman and Suresh Prabhu, as well the BJP’s national general secretary, Ram Madhav.

More than Meets the Eye: On the Attack Against A Bengaluru Activist For Reporting an Allegedly Illegal Slaughterhouse to the Police

By Kedar Nagarajan | 3 November 2017
On the evening of 14 October, Nandini Neeraj, an animal-rights activist, filed a complaint at the Talaghattapura police station in Bengaluru, alleging that residents of Avalahalli, a Muslim-majority neighbourhood on the outskirts of the city, were illegally slaughtering cows. After filing the complaint, Neeraj returned to Avalahalli. According to various accounts she later gave to the police and to the media, her car was pelted with bricks and stones, causing it great damage, and injuring her and her friend Rijil V, who was also in the car.
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