Archives  >  2019  >  December  >  20th

India, Rising

1. What’s the story?

India protested on Thursday. An unprecedented mass show of public discontent with the current Government and its newly passed Citizenship Amendment Act saw the country come to a standstill. Two people died in Mangaluru and one in Lucknow as a result of violent clashes between the protestors and the police. Thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the nation, including Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai. (Quick recap: The Citizenship Amendment Act gives eligibility for Indian citizenship to illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and who entered India on or before 31 December 2014. The Act does not include Muslims.)

Tell me more.

“Two people died in Mangaluru and one in Lucknow due to bullet injuries on Thursday as a fresh round of protests against the amended Citizenship Act gripped various parts of India. Agitators defied prohibitory orders across regions, prompting authorities to detain activists and politicians, including noted historian Ramchandra Guha, Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav and Left leader Sitaram Yechury, and suspend mobile Internet services in several areas of Delhi.

Minutes before he was detained, Guha said, “The police are acting at the behest of their colonial masters and I feel sorry for them. We can see ordinary citizens protesting here in a peaceful manner.” Criticising the central government, Guha said, “Our paranoid rulers in Delhi are scared. Our (Union) Home Minister would not dare allow a peaceful protest.”

In Delhi, Jantar Mantar became the epicentre of the protests after thousands of activists were not allowed to hold demonstrations near the Red Fort and Mandi House, where prohibitory orders were imposed in the morning. Left party leaders Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, former JNU leader Umar Khalid, Yogendra Yadav were among scores of protestors detained by Delhi Police near Red Fort when they tried to take out a march in defiance of prohibitory orders.

“India today has the ignominy of being the largest internet shutdown in the world. It is unacceptable. Metro stations were closed. This is worse than what we saw during the Emergency. Today’s protests showed the determination of youngsters to not let democracy be butchered,” CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said.”

Thursday also saw widespread protests in front of Indian embassies around the world — including Washington DC and London.

So, what now?

Things have not calmed down yet. More protests are planned all over the nation — especially in and around the National Capital Region. This has led to the Ghaziabad administration to announce an unprecedented internet shutdown of 24 hours — from 10 PM on Thursday to 10 PM on Friday

“This will plunge lakhs of people, who use their smartphones for everything from building security to ordering food, into an internet outage not seen before in NCR. District magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey said the decision was taken in the wake of intelligence reports that “anti-social elements” could create law-and-order problems, block the national highway and damage public property, in the district. Police are on high alert, he added.”

It’s a long road ahead for the world’s largest democracy. 

Keep your eyes on this space. We’ll keep you updated.

2. Where else should I be keeping my eyes on?

Kashmir, that’s where. The state has been under virtual lockdown since August, with no signs of normalcy returning anytime soon. And here’s the story of a young journalist forced to work as a labourer after 143 days of internet shutdown (and counting.)

“Ever since the suspension of internet services in Kashmir, photojournalist Muneeb-Ul-Islam has been forced to work as a daily-wage labourer.

“I’ve been working as a photographer forthe past 10 years from South Kashmir. Since the conditions worsened after 5 August (abrogation of Article 370), the financial condition at home kept getting worse. I didn’t have any money. There were several expenses at home, so I took this route and for a few days I worked as a labourer,” Muneeb said.

Muneeb told The Quint that there were no internet services for journalists. “There is a media centre in Srinagar but it used to cost Rs 1,500 per day to reach there. The expense was high and we couldn’t afford it. Additionally, the office doesn’t pay that much to cover the cost.”

He said all district reporters from Anantnag, Pulwama to Shopian and Kulgam are facing similar issues.”

3. What more?

A special bench of Peshawar High Court has announced the death penalty (in absentia) for former Pakistani President, Pervez Musharraf. In a bizarre ruling, the judges also said that  “if found dead, his corpse be dragged to the Democracy Chowk in Islamabad, Pakistan and be hanged for three days.”

“The three-member special court bench sentenced 76-year-old Musharraf to death in absentia on Tuesday for high treason following a six-year legal case.

In its 167-page detailed judgement authored by Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, who headed the bench, the court on Thursday said the “convict be hanged by his neck till he dies on each count as per charge.”

The detailed judgement came hours after Musharraf raised serious questions on his trial and said the verdict was based on some people’s “personal animosity” towards him.

“Some people in high offices misused their authority to target one individual,” he said, in an apparent reference to Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa.

Musharraf is the first military ruler to receive the capital punishment in Pakistan’s history. His sentencing was highly significant in Pakistan where the powerful military has ruled the country for nearly half of its 72-year history.

Following his sentencing on Tuesday, the Pakistan Army reacted angrily and said that its former chief can “never be a traitor”. The verdict against him has been received with “lot of pain and anguish” by Pakistan Armed Forces personnel, it added.”

4. Anything else?

The green revolution has widely been heralded as India’s economic and agricultural miracle. It was what “sparked India’s obsession with rice.” However, it now seems that replacing rice with other different grains might just be better for personal and global health

“If Indian farmers grew a greater variety of staple cereal crops, it would deliver substantial wins for citizens’ health and the environment, finds a new study.

On top of this, the hypothetical switch to more diversified crops would increase overall climate resilience of cereals by 13%, because the wider variety of grains would withstand drought better, and therefore, incur fewer losses than the water-dependent rice crops that currently dominate India’s agricultural landscape.

Why does India find itself in this rice-heavy predicament in the first place? The country’s current agricultural make up is the legacy of the Green Revolution in the 1950s and 60s, a period that brought high-yielding crop varieties to developing countries, with the aim of dramatically boosting global production of staple foods like wheat and rice.

In India, this led to an explosion in rice production: it now makes up 44% of the country’s cereal production. But this has come at the expense of other grains that are nutritionally more valuable.”

5. Is that all?

US President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un seemed to be heading towards being best friends. Until they suddenly weren’t. Here’s how Trump’s North Korean diplomacy fell apart

“The subtext of all the nervous talk was that Trump’s once-promising diplomacy with Kim is rapidly unraveling. The two leaders are no longer unknown quantities to each other, making a return to the military brinkmanship of 2017—perhaps the most dangerous standoff involving nuclear weapons since the Cuban missile crisis—less likely. But as the new year nears, the United States and North Korea are reverting to their old ways, however half-heartedly.

Although Trump says his friendship with Kim has produced a more peaceful North Korea, the reality, especially of late, has been quite different. Since May, North Korea has tested more missiles than it has in any other year in its history, except possibly 2016, according to the analyst Ankit Panda. It never stopped producing fissile material for nuclear bombs. Think tanks are pumping out reports on establishing “maximum pressure 2.0” against Pyongyang. The name-calling is back: Kim is once more “Rocket Man,” Trump a senile “dotard.” Satellites are spotting renewed activity at North Korean nuclear sites, while Kim has resumed testing at a rocket-launch site he had promised to dismantle in 2018. U.S. officials are yet again warning of military options. North Korean officials are proclaiming the days of denuclearization negotiations over. Kim is galloping around on white horses, and let’s just say it’s not because white symbolizes peace.”

6. Before you leave…

Take a look at this story of a man who bought no food for one whole year, and claims to have never been healthier

“For the last year I grew and foraged 100% of my food. No grocery stores, no restaurants, not even a drink at a bar. Nature was my garden, my pantry and my pharmacy.

Most people would imagine I live in the countryside on a farm, but actually I live in a city; Orlando, Florida, a few miles from the centre. When I arrived here, I didn’t own any land, so in order to grow my food I met people in the neighbourhood and turned their lawns into gardens and shared the bounty of food with them. I’m a big believer in the philosophy “grow food, not lawns”.”

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