Currently Browsing: January 2017

In cradle of harmony, Insaniyat only religion

(Top) Liban Ram in his village Mir Sahab

Mir Sahab lives in the Irani area of Forbesganj. A small town in Bihar on the border of Nepal and Bangladesh, Forbesganj has both an Irani and Iraqi area. Mir Sahab’s ancestors had a zamindari. A victim of the Land Ceiling Act, the property of his family was seized and now belongs to the aviation […]


Dreams soar over poverty

The writer (centre) with girls from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas. Picture by Ruchira Gupta

As I travel through Bihar, to small bustees, little villages, remote hamlets, I see pink schools everywhere, behind clusters of bamboo groves, down a mud road, near a pond. There are more than 1,000 schools in Araria district alone, and the number of children enrolled is 4,16,511. In 2006, the Indian government had named Araria […]


Gaping holes

In a shameless hoax, India’s ruling party pushed through a legislation recently that said it was banning child labour in its first paragraph, but actually legalized 90 per cent of the country’s child labour of all ages through a clause in a later paragraph. Section 3 in clause 5 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and […]


Colonial prejudices against tribes in India refuse to go

Kiran Bedi has apologised for her tweet. Her next step could be to read the history of the de-notified tribes and of outdated colonial laws. (HT)

Prejudice sometimes is more deeply embedded in our consciousness than historical fact. Recently a member of the Bawariya community in UP was accused of rape. Kiran Bedi, lieutenant governor of Puducherry and a former IPS officer, promptly tweeted: “Ex-criminal tribes are known to be very cruel. They are hardcore professionals in committing crimes. Rarely caught […]


A law that allows child labour


The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016 suffers from several flaws. At first glance, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, passed last month in Parliament, seems progressive. It prohibits “the engagement of children in all occupations and of adolescents in hazardous occupations and processes” wherein adolescents refers to those under […]


Clinton’s nomination marks a welcome shift in gender politics

Hillary Clinton has been learning from her women counterparts both within the US and outside. She has consistently ensured people that she would leverage her power to help women (AP)

Read about this woman. But think about all the rest. After the roll call of the states at the Democratic National Convention, Hillary Clinton became the candidate for President of the United States. She is the first woman to win the nomination of a major party, a milestone for America nearly a century after women […]


What India can learn from Bihar

Nitish Rishidev (in blue T-shirt), reunited with his family. Telegraph pictures

This is what poverty looks like in Bihar: a 10-year-old child boarding a train for big, unknown Punjab so that the food at home is enough for his Ma and Babuji. A sister postponing her wedding so that she can be the additional daily wage earner in the family. An anxious mother and father borrowing […]


The victims of superstition across centuries & oceans

Hujrat Khatoon

Yesterday I met a woman labelled as a dayan – a witch – in the village of Balbat in Araria. The village was so remote that people bought petrol in little rum bottles for the scooties and motorcycles that farmers now use. The pump was far away. One of the most sensitive journalists of this […]


English-vinglish: Language & legacy

Shivanand Tiwari (in spectacles) on a cycle rally from Delhi to Guwahati in 1983 against the official use of English

Shivanand ji called this morning. Shivanandji has been to jail five times, twice for protesting the use of English in government work. The slogan was: ” Angrezi mein kaam na hoga/Phir se desh goolam na hoga” (Work will not be in English/The country’s enslavement must finish). A recently retired Rajya Sabha MP, Shivanand Tiwari was […]


The jail that sparked many a story


I stop at Purnea to meet Girindranath Jha, a journalist, who has returned to his ailing father and begun farming. I read his blogs and Facebook posts on harvesting potatoes, the impact of the westerly wind – pachiya – on fruits, the joy of seeing rice saplings sprout, the significance of green fields and running […]