Our reportage in October reflects our commitment to surfacing underreported stories from across the length and breadth of India. We reported from Punjab, Assam, Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Gujarat, among other places, on subjects as diverse as environment, health, and livelihoods. Here is a sample of the work we published.
Every winter, North India is smothered in the world’s most toxic air. This year, there was hope that pollution levels might come down since the Aam Aadmi Party, which is in power in Delhi, won elections in Punjab and promised that it would find a solution to the stubble burning problem.
In early October, Vaishanvi Rathore travelled to Sangrur, the Punjab district that reported the highest number of farm fires last year and which also happens to be the home constituency of chief minister Bhagwant Mann. Rathore found out that the new government’s initiatives to encourage alternatives to stubble burning had barely made a dent. She interviewed scores of farmers who explained why the proposed solutions were not working. Her in-depth ground report anticipated what we saw in satellite images later that month: hazardous air rising above the farms of Punjab, and making its way to the rest of North India.
The Aam Aadmi Party also featured in Arunabh Saikia’s dispatches from Gujarat. Through a high-decibel media campaign, the party has positioned itself as the main challenger to the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has been in power in the state for 27 years. But reporting on tobacco farmers in Mehsana, Saikia found that the Congress continues to hold its ground among some caste groups. Caste, more than economics, appears to be dictating voter choices, his report shows.
In Assam, the search for “foreigners” continues to haunt Muslims, not just those of Bengali-origin, but also Desi Muslims who the state classifies as “indigenous”. Rokibuz Zaman met several Desi Muslims who had been summoned to foreigners tribunals in recent months and asked to prove their Indian citizenship yet again. Read his report here.
The silence around women’s health concerns has meant there is very little awareness even among women about pelvic organ prolapse, a debilitating condition in which the muscles of the pelvic floor weaken, leading to the uterus, bladder and other organs sliding out of a woman’s vagina. Romita Saluja travelled to Uttarakhand, where the condition is frighteningly common, to report on the experiences of women living with the condition. Read her in-depth report here.
In Ladakh, India’s conflict with China is having larger ripple effects. The boundaries of a wildlife sanctuary are being redrawn to create more room for military infrastructure. The local Changpa community has welcomed the move since its younger generations are no longer keen to live the life of nomads. Safwat Zargar spent weeks reporting on the implications of the changes sweeping through the world’s highest plateau.
A change of government in Maharashtra has led to the revival of a controversial metro car-shed project in Mumbai’s Aarey colony. While the movement against the project has been widely written about, few have focused on its staunchest participants: the Adivasis who have lived in Aarey for generations. Nolina Minj wrote a compelling account of their struggle to protect their land and identity in a fast-changing metropolis.
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