Was Bucha a Turning Point for India’s TV News Channels?

“Have the Russians lost it completely?” asked Arnab Goswami, host of a popular news show on Republic TV. Most nights, “the Tucker Carlson of India” sticks to a hyper-nationalist script in line with the government’s policies. But in the aftermath of the Bucha massacre in Ukraine, the controversial host pressed the pause button on Russia-friendly coverage. “No, Russians, it’s not fake news,” he said, referring to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s claim that the killings were staged. “If you’re hear

Is Russia Really India’s Friend?

India frustrated U.S. and European diplomats at the United Nations last week by declining to vote on a resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The abstention put India in an awkward spot: out of step with its strategic partner, the U.S., and in the same boat as its rival China. But the fence-sitting may have given the Indian government some leverage in its negotiations with Russia on safe passage for thousands of medical students trapped in eastern Ukraine. Former Foreign Secretary

Pulling the Plug in Myanmar

Last month, TotalEnergies and Chevron Corporation unexpectedly announced they would be pulling out of Myanmar. For human rights activists, the exit of the oil majors was a “mission accomplished” moment. Their decades-long campaign to break up the partnership between the energy companies and the military-controlled oil and gas entity known as the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE) had finally borne fruit. TotalEnergies of France and California-based Chevron were partners in an international co

Under Taliban Rule, What Happens to Afghanistan’s Artifacts?

In 1995, a cache of antiquities sourced by a mujahideen commander made its way to the international art market through Afghanistan’s porous border with Pakistan. Two decades later, the artifacts were discovered in a Manhattan dealer’s warehouse during a sting operation to uncover an extensive antiquities trafficking network. In April, the Buddhist, Hindu, and Greek relics were shipped to the National Museum in Kabul, one of several art homecomings that have taken place in recent years. Other rep

Rare Earths in Myanmar: Unobtanium?

Kachin State in northern Myanmar has a long history of armed groups using illicit gold, copper, or iron deposits to fund insurgent activities. Lately, reports have been trickling in about a free-for-all scramble for the control of another group of valuable metals: rare earths. The spurt in unauthorized mining, which began after the coup of February 1, appears to be taking place along the border with China. The Kachin State mining department released photos of ten-wheeler trucks, presumably from

The Kazakh Herders of Xinjiang

When “Winter Pasture” was first published in 2012, the travel memoir became a literary sensation in China. Set in the Altay region of Xinjiang, the book describes a herding family’s journey into the wilderness for one eventful season. Along with memorable vignettes of steppe life, author Li Juan offers a rare inside look at Xinjiang’s other beleaguered ethnic minority: the Kazakhs. The long-awaited English translation was released earlier this year, and it doesn’t disappoint. In the winter of 2

How Singapore Connected the Dots on Coronavirus

In early February, health officials in Singapore were stumped by a sudden spike in novel coronavirus infections. A majority of the cases came from two church-related clusters. Was there a connection? Armed with activity maps, tracking data, and an experimental antibody test, the Ministry of Health systematically connected the dots until they zeroed in on the missing link: a Chinese New Year gathering on Mei Hwan Drive where a 28-year old man known as case 66 picked up the virus from an older co

How Wuhan Virologists Pegged Chloroquine as a Potential COVID-19 Cure

On February 4, when a novel strain of coronavirus – officially dubbed SARS-CoV-2 — was raging in Wuhan, a letter to the editor appeared in the journal Cell Research. Written by scientists at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the letter outlined the promising findings of a recent experiment. In a test tube, coronavirus was “potently blocked” by two drugs: remdesivir and chloroquine. The letter was the first indication that chloroquine, a widely available and cheap malaria drug, might prove useful

The Ordeal of the Diamond Princess Crew

On Valentine’s Day, Mae Fantillo tweeted a video of crew members dancing on board the Diamond Princess, staying positive in the face of a crisis. The cruise ship had been quarantined in Japan’s Yokohama Port following an outbreak of novel coronavirus. By the time the quarantine ended on February 19, however, Fantillo was no longer upbeat. “Each day, the gravity of the situation only gets worse…We dont know where the virus really is,” she tweeted. She was breaking with protocol and reaching out

Plastic roads: India’s radical plan to bury its garbage beneath the streets

Jambulingam Street, Chennai, is a local legend. The tar road in the bustling Nungambakkam area has weathered a major flood, several monsoons, recurring heat waves and a steady stream of cars, trucks and auto rickshaws without showing the usual signs of wear and tear. Built in 2002, it has not developed the mosaic of cracks, potholes or craters that typically make their appearance after it rains. Holding the road together is an unremarkable material: a cheap, polymer glue made from shredded waste

Overlooked Solutions

Conflicts of Interest: My Journey through India’s Green Movement By Sunita Narain; India Viking, 2017 Every winter, a toxic, eye-watering cloud of diesel fumes, smoke, and dust descends on Delhi like a shroud. Children stay indoors, pedestrians wear masks, and hospitals overflow with people gasping for air. Sunita Narain calls it “death by breath.” Narain has been fighting the battle for clean air in Delhi for the past two decades. She is one of India’s most vocal environmental activists and h

Indian Crew on Board the Diamond Princess Speaks out About Flawed Quarantine

It was a dramatic SOS from the Diamond Princess, the cruise ship quarantined in Yokohama Port after an outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19. “We are very scared. Please save us from this quagmire,” pleaded Binay Kumar Sarkar in a Facebook video posted on February 10. Along with him were fellow Indians wearing face masks. Sarkar was the first crew member on the Diamond Princess to publicly draw attention to one of the major flaws in the ship’s quarantine process: passengers we

China’s Rogue Builders – OpEd

When a small, seven-story condominium collapsed in Cambodia in late June killing 28 construction workers, the reverberations could be felt all the way in Beijing. The building was an illegal construction in the coastal city of Sihanoukville, a hub for Chinese investors and the “first port of call” on the infrastructure network known as the Belt and Road Initiative. Sihanoukville is on the cover of a new report from the Asia Society Policy Institute called “Navigating the Belt and Road Initiativ

Review: ‘Himalaya: A Human History’

When mountaineer Ed Douglas arrived in India’s Garhwal region to ascend a mountain called Shivling, he had a moment of profound realisation. Local travellers who visited the legendary peak were not climbers but pilgrims, paying homage to a small glacial stream: the source of the Ganga. Mountains are a western obsession, writes Douglas in his richly detailed book Himalaya: A Human History. For people in the region, rivers are what matter. A “life-giver and life-taker”, water is the ultimate archi

From National Capital to Mosquito Metropolis, How Delhi Built Itself an Epidemic

Paras Tierea is a massive residential complex in Sector-137, Noida. Landscaped “sky gardens,” earthquake protection and proximity to the Noida Expressway are among the desirable features of their apartments, advertised as “dream homes.” But Paras Tierea has been under a cloud of late. It made the news when several residents came down with dengue fever during the recent outbreak, the worst Delhi has experienced. Two people died. A construction area in Paras Tierea is believed to be the source for

How New York is Trying to Outsmart the Aedes Mosquito

New York: On a sultry afternoon in August, Anthony Doyle sweeps the leaves outside his home on tree-lined Gunther Avenue. He is not bothered by the heat but what really gets to him are the mosquitoes. “Sometimes two, three of them come and just take you down,” says Doyle who has lived in the Wakefield section of the Bronx for 30 years. Health department trucks had been spotted on Gunther Avenue recently spraying pesticide and a flyer posted on the street corner urged people to stay indoors. Doyl

The Doctor's Diary That Holds Clues About the Residents of North Sentinel

I was in Port Blair earlier this year and had an opportunity to visit the small but impressive Zonal Anthropological Museum. Most visitors to the Andamans are curious about the indigenous inhabitants of these remote islands between India and Myanmar. However, contacting the groups or even taking a photograph is strictly prohibited. The museum offers a window into their lives with models of thatched huts, canoes and pictures of islanders dancing or hunting for fish, leading lives seemingly untou

Football fans warned about dengue fever risk at Fifa World Cup in Brazil

Brazil has the highest incidence of dengue fever in the world. Last year, cases spiralled to a new high of 1.4 million and the trend shows no signs of abating. São Paulo, host city for the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup on June 12, battled a major dengue outbreak this month. "Our campaign has not been effective," laments Guilherme Ribeiro, an epidemiologist who specialises in infectious diseases at the Institute of Collective Health at the Federal University of Bahia. "We spend a lot of

The Art and Science of Kashmir's Pink Tea

On chilly winter evenings in Lahore’s Lakshmi Chowk, a bustling marketplace famous for street food, tea vendors sell a pink beverage known as Kashmiri chai. Made with green tea, Kashmiri chai has a savory taste that belies its strawberry-milkshake appearance. The millennial-pink beverage is wildly popular, as both a drink and a color. In Pakistan, upscale cafes sell Kashmiri chai cheesecake, and “tea pink” is a trendy shade for wedding outfits, men’s shirts, and even lingerie. Originally a Hima

Indigestible: Popular Sustainable Materials Like Areca Leaf Are Rarely Composted

The James Beard Foundation’s farm-to-table gala in the Hamptons is a model of green dining. On the menu this summer was a smorgasbord of local ingredients: Long Island corn, husk cherries and Montauk scallops. Even the dinnerware was sustainable. An Instagram shot of grilled Albacore tuna served in a leaf bowl was posted by guest of honour Padma Lakshmi. Made from the fallen leaf sheath of an areca palm tree, the bowl was fully compostable. So why were the discarded remnants of the dinner shippe
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