In the first week of August, a few days after the national media had descended on Meerut to cover the story of the alleged gang rape and forced conversion of a young woman, I received a call from Muzaffarnagar. The caller, a lawyer and Jat political activist recently aligned with the Bharatiya Janata Party, was irate that while the Meerut story received wall-to-wall coverage in the national press, there was no interest in another story of abduction, rape and forcible conversion of a Hindu woman from the town of Thana Bhawan in Shamli district.
Of the four Fields medals—awarded every four years for outstanding mathematical work done by the age of forty—announced recently, three attracted attention for reasons that went beyond exceptional achievement. These three medals were awarded to Artur Avila, a Brazilian, Manjul Bhargava, a Canadian, and Maryam Mirzakhani, an Iranian. Mirzakhani became the first woman and Iranian to win the medal, Avila the first Brazilian and Bhargava the first person of Indian origin to do so. But while Avila and Mirzakhani were products of the educational systems of their respective countries of origin, Bhargava was emphatically not.
To commemorate the centenary of India’s service in the First World War, the British historian David Omissi collected the letters of Indian soldiers away from home in Indian Voices of the Great War, published this year by Penguin. These eloquent letters offer a poignant glimpse into the lives of these Indian soldiers, whom history forgot.
Earlier this year, British Pathé, the news archive set up in the early twentieth century, released its entire collection of 85,000 films to its YouTube channel, an exercise aimed at making its films accessible to a wider audience. These include nearly a thousand films produced in the Indian subcontinent during the last years of the British Raj and the first few years after Independence, which are now available to anyone with access to a computer. In addition to British Pathé, the archives of the British Film Institute and Colonial Film Database have also been made available on YouTube.
On 30 July, in the town of Lanjigarh in the district of Kalahandi, Odisha, district authorities and the Odisha State Pollution Control board organised a public hearing to discuss the potential expansion of an alumina-producing facility in the town. Sesa Sterlite, a subsidiary of the Vedanta group, was seeking environmental clearance to expand its 1 million tons per annum (MTPA) refinery to a capacity of 6 MTPA. The public hearing is a mandatory step in this process, and is the only formal space for local participation in a project’s clearance.
Between 1 August and 7 August, the World Health Organization, along with several partners, celebrated World Breastfeeding Week with awareness campaigns, photography contests and other initiatives. Though the global event is in its twenty-third year, in India it received little endorsement or coverage.
Hi JN: Thanks for this great piece of work. It's a good start, and I think we're on our way to a fitting welcome for a new country. I know time is of the essence, given how busy the transfer of power and allied activities must be keeping you, so let me run you quickly through some mild suggestions for tweaks and changes. Let me know what you think! Thanks again.
The internet is a powerful thing in the hands of a Hindutvavadi bully. That became clear once again on 6 August, when an online movement led by Hindu chauvinists forced a powerful Bollywood studio to remove scenes from an upcoming film that they suspected of pushing an “Islamic” agenda.
Yesterday, more than twenty years after they last addressed a meeting together, Laloo Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar shared the dais
at a gathering in Hajipur, brought together by the common cause of defeating the BJP in upcoming by-elections in Bihar. Their political partnership in the Janata Dal in the early 1990s had fallen apart over Laloo’s intemperate ways, his reckless governance and his distrust of Nitish.
But though Laloo sidelined Nitish in the party in the first years of the 1990s, it wasn’t until 1994 that the latter worked up the courage to formally part ways with him.
Last December at the World Trade Organization meeting in Bali, the Indian government—then run by the UPA—agreed to sign the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which was being hailed as a landmark in trade reforms. But the new NDA government has, surprisingly, backtracked from that commitment. As a result, the TFA has now missed its planned deadline of 31 July 2014.