Where is the data?

Ever since the pandemic began, many Indian scientists have anguished over the lack of transparency on government data. This, they have argued, has forced scientists to grope in the dark or rely on Chinese or western data. The results have been for all to see – the delta variant of the virus ravaged India earlier this year.

Now, that the threat of another variant looms large, things appear to have not changed much, bemoan scientists Gagandeep Kang and Gautam Menon in a piece in The Hindu:

“Data from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), India’s premier medical research agency, remains inaccessible. The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has not responded. The CoWIN data (the government’s web portal for COVID-19 vaccination registration) contains valuable information but beyond the real-time data on vaccine delivery by doses, as displayed, it is of little value for future planning and prediction unless it can be tied to testing data and clinical information at the level of individuals.”

Read more here.

The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 and India today

Last Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of the Bangladesh Liberation War. While it was a cataclysmic event that changed the map of South Asia, it also had a great impact on domestic polity in India, points out political scientist Sanjib Baruah in an article in The Indian Express. Many Hindu migrants who had escaped what was then East Pakistan and come in to India never left, Baruah contends, leading to great political unrest in North East India the aftershocks of which continue to be felt:

“The fact that the Assam Movement (1979-1985) broke out in the same decade as the Bangladesh liberation war is not an accident. Those six years of political turmoil saw the collapse of four elected ministries, the outbreak of an armed insurgency, and three spells of president’s rule. The violent elections of 1983, including the horrendous Nellie massacre, are also part of this history. The troubles that began with the refugee influx eventually led to the coming of the hard state to Assam in 1990 when the whole of Assam was declared a “disturbed area” under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).”

Read the article here

A curious scam

By now, pretty much everyone in the Indian digital space knows about former NDTV journalist Nidhi Razdan’s infamous Harvard ordeal. Razdan wrote a confessional in January for her alma mater – to mixed response.

Now, a year-long New York Times investigation reveals that it was a scam not just wildly elaborate, but one that is long-running and has targeted several prominent Indian women with offers of positions in Ivy League universities in the United States.

But what could possibly be the motivations of such an intricate operation?

Read more here.

Impunity in the hills

Earlier this month, the Indian Army killed 17 Naga civilians in what it claims was a case of “mistaken identity”. The Indian government has expressed regret for the killings, but anthropologist Dolly Kikon asks a more fundamental question: What do the inhumane extra judicial killings of civilians followed by apologies tell us about the state of India democracy?

“The history of holding perpetrators of state violence in Northeast India is appalling”, Kikon writes, thanks to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which for all practical purposes empowers security personnel to use force and kill people on mere suspicion. The law of the land in Nagaland, Kikon writes in Shillong-based webzine Raiot, is the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

Kikon writes: “The shock and condemnation are meaningless unless the draconian AFSPA (1958) is repealed. This act suspends the right to life, a fundamental right enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution for the Naga people and its neighbouring states in Northeast India. Many extrajudicial killings were forgotten in the past. This one will be no different.”

Read the full article here.