Archives  >  2019  >  July  >  19th

Assam, Underwater

1. What’s the story?

As Six Things had covered earlier, Assam is currently underwater. The state has been ravaged by torrential rain and subsequent floods, displacing lakhs and killing at least 36. Presently, more than 2 lakh people are in relief camps, 30 (out of 33) districts are submerged, and more than 57 lakh have been affected. According to Guwahati’s Meteorological Centre, incessant rains for three consecutive days may have been the main culprit behind this utter devastation.
Tell me more.
Brahmaputra is flowing over its danger mark, even in the capital city of Guwahati, while the district of Barpeta has been reportedly the hardest hit. With the collapse of power grids, hundreds of villages remain disconnected from bigger cities and a college has been turned into a temporary “jail”. (Ironically enough, the entire Northeastern region of India has reported a rainfall deficiency of 38% this year.)   

90% of the Kaziranga National Park is currently submerged and endangered rhinos are in danger of being swept away. Animals have been fleeing the wildlife sanctuary in droves, often exposing themselves to the deadly traffic on National Highway 37 that borders the Southern perimeter of the park. A tiger also found itself inexplicably chilling on a bed while trying to escape the flood waters.

Meanwhile, however, a very different kind of tragedy is being played out in other parts of the state. “At this moment, thousands of people in Assam, a majority of them poor, are living in houses where water levels have risen to alarming heights. But people in these submerged houses are unwilling to move to places of safety. They have the noose of a July 31 deadline tightening around their neck. The final National Register of Citizens (NRC) will be published at the end of this month, barely two weeks from now. Till then, flood-affected people – however vulnerable they are to rising, perilous waters – are resolved to guard their documents.”  (Quick recap: The NRC is meant to be a list of Indian citizens living in Assam – being currently updated in order to better delineate the “bahiraagats” or illegal immigrants in this state. You may want to take a look here in order to better understand the effect of this act across the state.)
So, what now?
The central government has released more than INR 250 crore as assistance to the distressed state. Meanwhile, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Army have been deployed to lead rescue efforts.

You may consider donating to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund here if you want to help.

2. Where else should I be looking at?

The state of Bihar, that’s where. As Six Things had mentioned last week, Bihar has also been facing terrible floods for the past few days. According to some, the trigger for this deluge was the heavy downpour in Nepal. Till date, at least 67 people have lost their lives and 45 lakh have been affected. Water levels are still rising, the Kosi is overflowing its banks, and more than 12 districts remain underwater. Even though NDRF has been deployed across the state, the situation remains grim, with some survivors even eating rats to survive.

Here is where you can donate to lend a helping hand.

3. What more?

P Rajagopal, the founder of the famous Saravana Bhavan chain of restaurants, passed away in Chennai on Thursday. He was 72, and his life has all the ingredients of a masala movie (and maybe also a masala dosa.) Starting his life as a tea seller, Rajagopal’s spectacular rise started in 1981, when he opened the first branch of his restaurant in Chennai.

“The case that destroyed Rajagopal began in 2001 when he was accused of threatening, abducting and murdering his employee Prince Santhakumar, so he could marry Santhakumar’s wife Jeevajothi.

At the time, Rajagopal already had two wives, the second of whom was the wife of a former employee. Jeevajothi too was the daughter of Rajagopal’s former assistant manager, a man called Ramasamy.” And that was only the beginning.

4. Anything else?

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has pronounced its verdict on the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, and it’s a mixed bag. As covered by Six Things earlier, retired Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav was sentenced to death in Pakistan in 2017. India had appealed to the international court against this order, and the verdict on Wednesday managed to provide some relief. The ICJ has suspended the death penalty awarded to Jadhav, urging Pakistan to review the entire trial process once again. However, it did not annul the death sentence altogether, nor did it guarantee Jadhav’s safe passage to India. Pakistan, meanwhile, has also claimed that it will release Jadhav only if India admits he was a spy.

5. Is that all?

Jeffrey Epstein is in trouble. The former jet setting financier (and close friend of — among others — Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, and Prince Andrew) was denied bail on Thursday after being accused of running an international child sex traffic ring and raping dozens of underage girls. Epstein was first indicted in 2007 but got away with a light sentence of 13 months of imprisonment. However, new allegations have now surfaced, with more women coming forward with horrific stories of abuse. It looks like he’s going down. And he may just take down his famous friends with him.

6. Before you leave …

Take a look at how some cities may be heading towards childlessness. No, really. Last year, for the first time in history, New York City shrank during a non-recession period. The jury is still out on whether that is a good thing.

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