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.

Satish Uke, petitioner in case concerning Judge Loya, arrested in Nagpur in a 17-year-old case

By Arshu John and Atul Dev | 3 August 2018
In the evening on 31 July, Satish Uke, a lawyer and activist, was arrested by the Economic Offences Wing of the Nagpur Police’s Crime Branch for offences he allegedly committed 17 years ago, in 2001. In June this year, Uke had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court demanding official compensation for the family of the late CBI judge BH Loya, on the basis of government documents showing that the judge was in Nagpur “for government work” at the time of his death. Two weeks before his arrest, Uke filed another application in the court, requesting it to entertain the petition. The court has not yet listed the petition for its first hearing. Uke has previously filed petitions accusing the chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis of electoral offences, alleging that Fadnavis filed inaccurate nominations for two state assembly elections.

The Coal Within: The Black Death | 3

By The Far Valley | 3 August 2018
On 28 April, Leisang in Manipur became the final village in the country to be connected to the power grid, and the Indian government declared that it had achieved 100-percent electrification. However, government data indicates that nearly 25 million households continue to live in the dark. The next day, the union power minister announced a deadline of 31 December 2018 for uninterrupted power supply to every household in India.

The Coal Within: Darkness at Day | 2

By The Far Valley | 2 August 2018
On 28 April, Leisang in Manipur became the final village in the country to be connected to the power grid, and the Indian government declared that it had achieved 100-percent electrification. However, government data indicates that nearly  million households continue to live in the dark. The next day, the union power minister announced a deadline of 31 December 2018 for uninterrupted power supply to every household in India.

How the Modi government used a legal loophole to escape environmental scrutiny of the 900-kilometre Char Dham Highway Project in Uttarakhand

By Tushar Dhara | 2 August 2018
On 27 December 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the Char Dham highway project in Dehradun, Uttarakhand. The project, estimated to cost Rs 12,000 crore, aims to improve road connectivity to four revered Hindu pilgrimage sites in the Himalayas. It involves widening 900 kilometres of national highways leading to the Char Dham spots—Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. The government’s stated goal is to make the journey to these sites safer and faster by building all-weather roads as well as a series of tunnels, bypasses and bridges.

The Coal Within: The Burning Man | 1

By The Far Valley | 1 August 2018
On 28 April, Leisang in Manipur became the final village in the country to be connected to the power grid, and the Indian government declared that it had achieved 100-percent electrification. However, government data indicates that nearly  million households continue to live in the dark. The next day, the union power minister announced a deadline of 31 December 2018 for uninterrupted power supply to every household in India.

What happens in Mewat cannot stay in Mewat

By Natasha Badhwar | 29 July 2018
“Not a single bone of his body was unbroken. Both arms and legs were fractured in three places each. His shoulders and all his ribs were broken,” Haroun Khan spoke up from amongst the group of men who were sitting in the courtyard of Rakbar Khan’s home. Haroun is Rakbar’s first cousin and the man who went to the mortuary to claim Rakbar’s corpse.

Data Localisation and the RTI Act: Why changes in the Srikrishna committee’s final draft are significant

By Arshu John | 29 July 2018
On 27 July, almost a year after it was constituted, a committee of experts chaired by the former Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna submitted its report and bill on the framework for India’s foremost law on data protection and privacy. Earlier this week, The Caravan accessed drafts of both the bill and the report. In one piece based on these drafts, I detailed how proposed amendments in the bill would strengthen the Unique Identification Authority of India—the parent agency of Aadhaar—and dilute the provisions of the Right to Information Act. Another piece revealed that the proposed data-protection bill would require the parliament to enact a law overseeing Indian intelligence agencies.

The Srikrishna committee’s data-protection bill does not do enough to hold the government accountable for use of personal data

By Amba Kak | 28 July 2018
On 27 July, a committee of experts, chaired by the former Supreme Court judge BN Srikrishna, released a bill and report that forms the framework for India’s first comprehensive law on privacy and data protection. The Srikrishna committee’s recommendations have been released nearly a year after the constitution of the committee and the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment in KS Puttaswamy v Union of India, in which the court recognised privacy as a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.