Panama Papers is another pointer to inheritance crisis

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
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Panama Papers leak offer India an opportunity to rationalise inheritance

Panama Papers have demonstrated how unfettered inheritance turns leaders and celebrities into petty thieves and knaving dynastic slaves. In 2004, I read in the Utne Reader that the founding fathers of free market economy had very strict views on inheritance, and that they strongly disapproved the policy of unfettered inheritance. I realised the simple equation that "Capitalism without the compounding effects of inheritance was actually some...

Is Aadhaar mandatory now?

Saturday, April 9, 2016
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Aadhaar on a firmer foundation?

The premise of Aadhaar is that it’s put to use as a universal proof of identity by public and private entities. So, even when you have surrendered that LPG subsidy and don’t take any benefit from the welfare schemes, you may still be required to get the unique ID. Banks continue to ask for linking the account with Aadhaar numbers, private schools want parents to furnish the UID numbers of their children even though there’s no subsidy to be...

‘Baiga Chak is a watershed moment in history of tribal India’ 

Thursday, March 10, 2016
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Naresh Biswas (standing) with traditional Baiga leaders during a consultation about Forest Rights Act.

The Baiga tribals of Madhya Pradesh got the best new year gift they could have thought of. The tribals living in Baiga Chak area of Dindori district, have become the first community in India to gain habitat rights over forest land under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The administration will not be able to undertake any development work in this area spanning 9,308 hectare without their consent. Habitat rights are especially associated with 72...

‘When we have money they call us by our names, not our disabilities’

Sunday, January 31, 2016
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People with disability and their families are at core of this microfinance initiative

What can microfinancing scale up to is evident from a cooperative bank being run in Madhya Pradesh which caters to those with disabilities and their families. From modest people who saved Rs 20 every month, the members are now the stakeholders in a ooperative bank. Persons with a disability are the entry point to gain access to unprivileged neighbourhoods because they tend to be poorest of the poor. These families have the greatest need for...

It's time we make farming renewable

Tuesday, December 29, 2015
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Our farmers always saw farming as means of caring for the earth.

Climate change talks are often centered on renewable energy. Nobody talks about making farming renewable. Around 50 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to chemical farming. It emits carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuel required to make chemicals. To prepare 1 kg of urea, 2 litre of diesel is burnt. When used in farms, urea produces nitrogen oxide which is 300 times more harmful than carbon dioxide for the earth. Instead...

History, Ideology and Internet

Saturday, November 7, 2015
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Internet can be a good medium to deal with ideological bias in history.

Author Chetan Bhagat stirred a debate by questioning the worth of historians' work. But much before his utterances, historians in India have been accused of pandering to leftist ideology at the cost of facts. We talk to Prof Rajiv Lochan of History department, Panjab University, on how politics affects history, what role Internet is playing in this debate and how the discipline can be rescued from bias through scientific collection and...

Forest in my soul

Saturday, November 7, 2015
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The film follows the Kondhs through their lives and engagements with the forest. Source: Top Quark Films

If you frequent villages, ‘Jal, jungle, zamin’ is the commonest refrain you hear. While we city dwellers are acquainted to land and water, forest often remains a distant resource for us. But in many places of the world, there are people who are one with the forests. India is home to many such tribes who treat trees and shrubs as their extended family. The film, “I cannot give you my forest’, gives a glimpse of such a tribe, the Kondhs of...

'Tawaifs were highly educated women erased from social scene by new morality'

Friday, October 30, 2015
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Rasoolan Bai was a courtesan famous for her thumri.

Courtesans contributed to music and literary scene of an era when most women were in purdah. 'The Other Song' is a film that examines how we stigmatised these performers resulting in annihilation of their profession which could not meet the new moral standards of independent India.  Their whole existence was termed immoral both by the British colonialists and also ironically by the nationalists who themselves were English educated and...

Indian Railways right on the track: In 11 charts

Tuesday, October 27, 2015
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Only 24% of railway track is electrified. Source: Vinoth Thambldural

From1850s when the first train ran in India and royal families sponsored its expansion to the present-day envious network and 12,000 trains running daily, railways has connected India like nothing else. Here we look at how things have changed with Indian Railways whether it's the expansion of tracks, jump in freight traffic or even casualties during operations. The total length of track used by Indian Railways is about 90,000 km of which 24...

Rural-urban shift is more fluid than we believe

Friday, September 11, 2015
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There is great fluidity of occupations in rural India.

Census 2011 brought in a revelation that the population of urban India increased much more than the rural population, for the first time in 90 years. If urban population shows greater increase, does that necessarily imply rural to urban migration, where the migrants have given up on agriculture? And when we say migration, is it only about rural to urban migration for better work opportunities? Is this an inevitably one sided transition? A...