Dear Reader,

On the first day of February this year, the military staged a coup in Myanmar, arresting all lawmakers, including state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Since then, the military has embarked upon a reign of terror with hundreds reported killed in the violent crackdown on peaceful protestors and civilians.

This repression has resulted in a flood of refugees into India from Myanmar. As EastMojo reports from the Indo-Myanmar border in Mizoram, most are low-ranking officials from Myanmar security forces fleeing for their lives. Their crime was that they refused to obey orders to shoot at peaceful protestors and their only plea is to be provided refugee status and political asylum in India. But the Indian government is far from moved.

Last year when Covid struck and India declared a dramatic lockdown with the shortest of notices, the hardest hit were urban labourers. Without a safety net at their workplace in the cities, they were forced to walk thousands of kilometres to their villages and towns without food or water. Memories that have been etched on our national consciousness.

As Covid returns with a vengeance and potential lockdowns loom, The Wire explains why it is important to learn from the past and understand urban labour’s relationship with the city. The nature of the vagaries of the market on labour would have to be better catered for and social and financial security nets constructed, if we are not to repeat last year’s tragedy.

Most projects in India are a chronicle of massive delays, cost-overruns and governmental inertia, the Polavaram irrigation project on the Godavari is an extreme and current example of this truism. ThePrint dives deep into the malaise plaguing the project and concludes that what was touted as Andhra’s lifeline is now itself on life support.

Access to water is a basic and fundamental need. However, as EPW discusses, the policies on water usage in India has shifted from a ‘welfare-based, free-supply mode’ to a market-oriented one and has warped into a process which has further entrenched the historically unequal social hierarchy in accessing it.

And, Down To Earth brings you the story of how forest officials in Odisha’s Keonjhar district have used some ‘jugaad’ to keep rampaging elephants at bay in the villages – recordings of tiger growls which have deterred the pachyderms. In 2019-20 alone, Odisha recorded 115 human casualties and 132 injuries due to man-elephant conflict.

For a selection of stories from our grantees this week, please take a read.


Sunil Rajshekhar

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A cry for asylum: For Myanmar refugees, India is their only hope

EastMojo reports on the steady inflow of refugees from Myanmar into India through the Mizoram border. Most are junior security forces personnel who refused to shoot at civilian protestors and now fear for their lives at the hands of the Myanmar military for their dissent. They plead for grant of refugee status and political asylum in India. However, the Indian government has a different view.

Read Here

The Urgent Need to Understand Urban Labour

As the second wave of Covid surges, The Wire analyses why it is important to build on the lessons learnt in the first wave and the migrant crisis last year, when it comes to protecting the lives and livelihoods of urban labourers. If we are not to repeat the tragedy, the state needs to understand the exposure of urban labour to the vagaries of the production cycle and provide for basic incomes and alternate work options.

Read Here

Missed deadlines, cost overruns, tiff with Centre — why Polavaram isn’t yet Andhra’s ‘lifeline’

Eighty years since first proposed and 17-years after it was greenlighted by the father of the present chief minister of Andhra, the Polavaram irrigation project on the Godavari, is in limbo. The project was touted to irrigate 2.91 lakh hectares and provide drinking water to 28.5 lakh people on its completion. ThePrint brings you the story with a deep-dive investigation into the problems with Polavaram and explains why Andhra’s ‘lifeline is itself on life-support’.

Read Here

Research Radio Ep 21: The Government, Markets, or NGOs—Who Can Ensure Equitable Access to Water

Access to such a basic need as water has been scarred by caste, gender and sectarian considerations in India. This, unfortunately, has a past. EPW examines and discusses this discriminatory access based on social hierarchies.

Read Here

Odisha forest officials use recorded tiger growls to keep elephants away from villages

Forest officials in Odisha’s Keonjhar district have resorted to innovation to keep elephants away from villages and crops abutting the forests. The innovation - recordings of tiger growls which keeps the elephants at bay. Conventional methods such as firecrackers and ‘chilli bombs’ have only ended up harming the pachyderms, hence the ‘jugaad’. Down To Earth reports.

Read Here

More from the grantees
Farmer protests, dissent, and disappointment
India Development Review published the first episode of its new podcast series ‘On The Contrary’. The episode features differing takes on the recent farm legislations but agrees that laws could be made more effective through better and wider consultations.
Jallianwala Bagh: British Empire's Dark Day
Live History India narrates the tragic events of Jallianwala Bagh and the political and historical repercussions that followed the massacre.
Old incident of fake EVMs recovered in Rajasthan linked to recent West Bengal polls
Alt News fact-checks news reports which were circulated to claim that the West Bengal polls are being rigged with counterfeit EVMs.
How Can Our Schools Create More Financially Literate Citizens?
The Bastion analyses how schools can help students be financially literate and help them achieve a more secure financial futures as adults in the workforce.
How West Bengal 2021 Election Can Redefine State & National Politics
Suno India discusses the importance and significance of assembly elections in West Bengal and analyses how the outcomes could reshape both state and national politics.
"Newspapers are no more a necessity!" | Paperkaaran | Asiaville Ground Report
Asiaville talks to distributors and vendors in Chennai and finds that circulation of print dailies have been impacted both by the pandemic and the rise of digital media.
स्वयं सहायता समूह की मदद से बचत कर रही महिलाएँ| KhabarLahariya
Khabar Lahariya speaks to women from Dingwahi village in Banda in Uttar Pradesh who are part of self-help groups which have helped them inculcate and institutionalise the habit of saving.
'कुछ समय और जारी रहता लॉकडाउन तो भूख से मरने वालों में पहला नम्बर वकीलों का होता'
Janjwar reports on the plight of legal professionals who, mostly self-employed, have been hit hard in the pandemic-induced lockdown.
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