Posts

Mystery of the Missing Cases

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- Jashodhara and Abhijit The second wave of Covid suddenly overwhelmed the entire nation towards the end of the month of April 2021. It was not long since the Indian Prime Minister had declared victory over Covid at the World Economic Forum that the cases started to rise once again. While the first wave in 2020 had seen the peak of a little less than 1 lakh new cases daily, this year between mid-February and mid- April the rate of increase was far in excess: in fact, by early May 2021, more than 4 lakh new cases were being detected every day! The virus has mutated and is now much more infective than earlier. The second wave was first felt in Maharashtra but soon Delhi faced the brunt of the second wave. Around that time, we were planning to move our household to Mukteshwar in Nainital District, Uttarakhand. Almost everything had been packed, most furniture been disposed off and we were negotiating with the movers, when on the 19 th of April, lockdown was announced in Delhi. The infect

Who will Shine the Light ?

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The Covid situation in India is exploding and probably all of us have friends or family who have not only had the infection but have lost their lives to this virus. The foreign media are reporting failures in management and many countries have stopped any travellers coming from India. A new set of social media posts have started coming from people who are partial to the government in power which build the ‘Indian’ situation as being not as hopeless as being made out. The case fatality or ratio of people is still far lower than what the more advanced countries in Europe went through. One particularly bold post went forward to claim that India was probably the safest country to be in. Other posts claim that this is not the time to be anti-Government because the government is trying the best that it can. It is time to support the government and not criticise it. And is there an alternative to Mr Modi? The moot question is not who is anti-Modi and who is pro-India. The larger question

With a little help from my friends

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Many of my friends must have felt a little irritated when I sent around a series of requests for donations some weeks earlier. It was my effort at crowd funding from my friends for a social project supporting elderly women and adolescent girls in a few ‘slums’ in Kolkata. The fund raising was somewhat successful, and we have been able to raise funds for take-home rations for about 200 older women for a few months. Dear friends, thank you for your contributions, and do bear with me when I come back to you for your support a few months later. In my conversations with friends over the last months, I have come to realise that many of you make contributions to many social causes. As a person working in the non-profit or the voluntary sector for over three decades, this makes me incredibly happy. Financial support from those who can give it, is extremely important for the social sector, now more than ever before. I feel proud that my friends are so generous. I have learnt that while ther

Keep the Baul-Fakir Tradition Alive in West Bengal

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The battlelines are drawn and getting deeper every day. The BJP is throwing in some mighty punches while the TMC is preparing for rear-guard action as many of its stalwarts are deserting the mothership. The Congress and the erstwhile Left Front have joined forces after having been bitter enemies during the long years of the Left Front rule in West Bengal. BJP moved early when it launched its Mission Bengal in early November last year. Within a month TMC intensified its outreach through the Duare Sarkar (Government at your doorstep) programme. There is already news of many scuffles. The BJP president’s convoy was attacked last month when he and other leaders were on their way to a meeting near Kolkata. It promises to be a long and bitter struggle till voting takes place in the first half of this year . (Image from TripAdvisor) Hindutva, Voting and Politics of Contestation Voting is a political act, but in India, citizenship is being increasingly conflated with cultural identity. I

A World of Privilege

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The storming of the US Capitol has created shock waves around the world. The world was stunned at the way thousands of supporters of incumbent President Donald Trump, egged on by him, marched to the US Capitol, pushed past the guards and vandalised the building including the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. The President-elect John Biden while condemning the event as ‘one of the darkest days of our nation’s history’ said that the police was very lenient , unlike during the Black Lives Matter protest last year. Many reports are noting the muted response of the DC police to the predominantly white mob in this case compared to the earlier Black Lives Matter protests. This differential response of the police is drawing widespread condemnation of silent sympathy from authorities for the rioters this time around. This entire episode is also being considered a display of ‘white privilege’ . There have always been two Americas. The Capitol Hill riot proved it.   (Click for a video)  The

Covid Needs New Masked Heroes

  It was 1919, the world was recovering from the devastations of the Great War and the Spanish flu pandemic was raging around the world when Zorro burst into the scene through a serialised novel The Curse of Capistrano. Zorro is considered a precursor of the more well-known masked saviours like Phantom (introduced in 1936) and Batman (introduced in 1939). Superman also debuted at the same time (in 1938) but Clark Kent wore thick glasses and our favourite superhero did not need any masked subterfuge to hide his super-powers. Masked heroes have been a favourite among readers and writers to save people, cities, and countries from catastrophe. In hundreds of comic strips, novels and films they come out on top. When the enemy is defeated and the people are saved, the masked hero makes a quiet exit only to be resurrected when needed again. Exactly one hundred years from when Zorro made his screen debut through Douglas Fairbank in the Mark of Zorro, the world needs masked saviours once ag

Heeding August Lessons

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We went through an interesting period during the first ten days this August. It was replete with events, memorials, and memories. First there was Bakr id or Id ul Zuha followed by Rakhi. Then in quick succession were three incredibly significant days of remembrance. On the 5 th of August, the foundation laying ceremony for the Ram temple in Ayodhya took place.   This auspicious act was done on a day that had little religious significance. In a country where timings, of events little or large, are decided through complex astrological calculations, the date for such an important event was aligned to the date of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. A political act was dressed in the garb of a social or religious one. The very next day was the 6 th of August. It is a day which possibly does not mean much anymore but is a day of immense significance in the history of the 20 th century. This year the 6 th and 9 th of August marked the 75 th year of the bombing