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Veteran Bihar land rights activist on how land reforms became defunct in state

Human rights defender Vidya Bhushan Rawat talks to Pankaj Singh, a veteran land rights activist based in Champaran, Bihar. One who was arrested for raising the issues of the backward Mushahar community's land rights, he remained in jail for several months till the Patna High Court granted him bail. 
Recent posts

Did Nidhi Razdan find out if post-graduate diploma can be Harvard associate professor?

The Nidhi Razdan episode, which I learned from the blog she wrote on the NDTV site, has created a flutter among journalists, whether in New Delhi or in Ahmedabad. I talked with half-a-dozen senior journalists, three of whom said they knew her personally and were "surprised" how and why she was a victim of what she claimed to be a phishing attack, which led her to believe that she had been enrolled in as associate professor to reach journalism at the Harvard Extension School in US.

Have India's rulers favoured Gujarat by supplying only 'safer' Covishield to state?

The controversy surrounding the two vaccines appears to be taking a scary turn. It so happened that I was talking to a senior healthcare expert of Gujarat on January 17. A very kind soul, this expert, whom I have known since 1990s, took the vaccine and posted the exercise on the Facebook so that others should know it's "safe". I contacted him on Facebook messenger, congratulated his gesture, and asked him which one was it. He said, "Covishield. This is the only one in Gujarat."

Slavery existed in Kerala in early 19th century, Christian missionaries helped abolish it

A keen observer of history, culture and politics, Bhaskar Sur, in a Facebook post , has brought to light an unusual fact: Existence of slavery in India at a time slavery ruled the roost in America and Europe. Even as providing link to a short article published in a little known site “Nalloor Post”, he says, “There are many post-colonial historians who have dwelt exhaustively on the Trans-Atlantic slavery and its relation to capitalism. While we should admire the quality of the scholarship, we cannot help feeling that it is history writing with an agenda.”

A 2004 study first said how 2002 Gujarat riots spread communalism to rural areas

Recently, I did a story on a Gujarat NGO report by Buniyad, which said it had noticed a new trend: Especially since 2014, communal violence, it insisted, spread to new rural areas. While I did cover Gujarat riots of 2002, I must admit, as I was based in Gandhinagar, and my main job was to cover the state government, I did fewer spot stories compared many of my journalist colleagues of the “Times of India” and “Indian Express” based in Ahmedabad, who did surely an excellent job.

Folk singer Mukund Nayak on Adivasi identity, jal-jungle-zameen, untouchability issues

Mukund Nayak has been a prominent cultural voice in Jharkhand, who has staged live performances worldwide as well as in India. He was awarded with Padmashree by the Government of India several years ago. Sharing his video conversation which took place about three years ago, Vidya Bhushan Rawat , a human rights defender says, the prominent folk singer, songwriter and dancer talks about Jharkhand's Adivasi identity, issues of jal-jungle-zameen (water-forests-land), impact of the outsiders’ onslaught on Jharkhand, caste and untouchability issues.

Ex-IAS Atanu Chakraborty and a tale of two different Gujarat vision documents

The likely appointment of Atanu Chakraborty as HDFC Bank chairman interested me for several reasons, but above all because I have interacted with him closely during my more than 15 year stint in Gandhinagar for the “Times of India”. One of the few decent Gujarat cadre bureaucrats, Chakraborty, belonging to the 1985 IAS batch, at least till I covered Sachivalaya was surely above controversies. He loved to remain faceless, never desired publicity, was professional to the core, and never indulged in loose talk.

When Khushwant Singh objected to talk about Indianising people who are already Indian

Known for his incisive thinking, a senior IAS officer, who retired recently, has shared on social media top writer-journalist Khushwant Singh's article "Why I am an Indian", published as an editorial in the "Illustrated Weekly of India", a former Times of India publication. The bureaucrat insists, "It makes sense, and I believe is a must-read for all civil servants, perhaps all Indians in the present political situation." The article was published on February 15, 1970. Read on... ***

Conversation with Stan Swamy, tirelessly working for tribal rights, not money or fame

Human rights defender Vidya Bhushan Rawat was in conversation with octogenarian tribal rights leader Father Stan Swamy, currently in jail for his alleged role in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence, about three years ago at his Ranchi office in Jharkhand. Hailing from Trichy district in Tamilnadu, Stan Swamy worked tirelessly for the adivasis in different parts of the country and was also associated with Indian Social Institute, Bengaluru, after which he went to Jharkhand where he dedicated his entire life since 1990s. Text and video recording: *** 

Recalling Albert Camus' "The Plague" in our age of pandemic and polarisation

Writing on the one of the world’s topmost novelists, Albert Camus, author of “'The Plague'”,  Mugambi Jouet  calls him “a thinker for our age of pandemic and polarization.” Titled “Reading Camus in Time of Plague and Polarization”, published in the Boston Review, a political literary forum, Jouet's review says, “The French Algerian writer steadfastly defended democracy and humanity against dogmatic ideologies of all stripes. We need to read and reread him today.” Read on... ***  This year has not only seen revived interest in Albert Camus’s novel 'The Plague' (1947), it also marks a key anniversary: Camus’s death at the age of forty-six in a sudden car crash sixty years ago. The occasion has led to commemorations in France but it has been understandably overshadowed in the United States by COVID-19, the fateful presidential election, and beyond. Yet Camus is a thinker for our age of pandemic and polarization. He sought to transcend the divides of his own epoch by w