Pamela Philipose: If the Media Fails to Read the Farm Struggle Right, Irrelevance Awaits

NB: The Greek word hubris , conveys the sense of overweening pride, arrogance before the gods. The punishment adequate to this sin derives its name from  nemesis , the goddess who exacts retribution from those who succumb to hubris. It is not just defeat in an election that Mr Modi's friend (remember Howdy Modi ?) the ruthless sociopath and ignoramus Donald Trump is facing, it is historic infamy and financial ruin. Worse still, the whole of American society is now paying the price for flirting with dreams of imperial greatness.  In India's case mind you, it is not merely the media that needs to listen to the warning in this article, it is the Indian bureaucracy and above all, the upper reaches of the judiciary . They need to remember that India is not the fiefdom of the Sangh Parivar, nor Mr Modi an emperor in possession of the Divine Right of Kings. The biggest and most powerful tyrants ultimately fall victim to their own arrogance. Why should ours fare any better? DS If the

Shekhar Pathak: A hundred years ago, a fiery speech in Uttarakhand escalated the protests against forced labour

This month marks the centenary of a remarkable (and successful) peasant protest in Uttarakhand. The British had inherited from native maharajas a system of forced labour known as begar, which they imposed on the peasantry. Under this system, villagers were compelled to carry the loads of British officials and European travellers, and also provide them with milk and vegetables when they were on tour. It was an onerous and much-hated system, which so angered the peasants, that, after a series of petitions had been rejected, they went on strike in January 1921, refusing to carry luggage or supply provisions, and brought the system to an end. Begar generally implies unpaid forced labour, extracted either by landlords or the state. In the agrarian system of British Kumaun, there were three distinct forms of begar in operation. Coolie begar meant forced labour without any payment. Coolie utar carried an obligation of a minimum wage payment, although this was often not given. Finally, coo

MATTHEW ROZSA: This 45,500-year-old cave painting of a pig may be the oldest known work of art

45,500 years is a long, long time. It is nearly 23 times as long as the distance between the point at which you are reading this article and the birth of Jesus Christ. It is roughly 9 times as long as the distance between the present day and the rise of ancient Egyptian civilization.  And, according to a  recent archaeological paper , that is how long ago artists on an island in modern-day Indonesia were in a cave, painting an adorable rendering of a pig.  If their estimations are correct, that pig portrait could be the oldest known example of a figurative drawing, meaning a form of art that attempts to depict the real world rather than designs or patterns… More posts on art

Australian bird photographer of the year 2020: See some exquisite photos of birds

BirdLife Australia’s annual photography awards. From a hungry fairy tern to a thirsty corella, the best images from photographers across Australia have been entered into this year’s prize... Comb-crested jacana by Adam Blyth

Seagrass 'Neptune balls’ sieve millions of plastic particles from water, study finds

Underwater seagrass in coastal areas appear to trap plastic pollution in natural bundles of fibre known as “Neptune balls”, researchers have found. With no help from humans, the swaying plants – anchored to shallow seabeds – may collect nearly 900m plastic items in the Mediterranean alone every year, a study reported in the journal Scientific Reports said. “We show that plastic debris in the seafloor can be trapped in seagrass remains, eventually leaving the marine environment through beaching,” lead author Anna Sanchez-Vidal, a marine biologist at the University of Barcelona, told AFP. This clean-up “represents a continuous purge of plastic debris out of the sea,” she added. The study adds to the long list of services that seagrass provides – for ocean ecosystems, and the humans who live near the water’s edge. They play a vital role in improving water quality, absorb CO2 and exude oxygen, and are a natural nursery and refuge for hundreds of species of fish. They are also the foundat

Satarupa Chakraborty: CJI's Remarks on Women Farmers Are an Assault on Human Agency and Constitutional Rights / Pratap Bhanu Mehta: SC’s order on the farm bills is terrible constitutional precedent, bereft of judgment

Chastising the Centre for its handling of the farmers’ protest, the  Supreme Court on January 11  observed that it will not pass an order that “citizens should not protest”. This was encouraging. But subsequent remarks made by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) S.A. Bobde, have given cause for concern. He asked:  “Why are women and elders  kept  in the protest?”  He also asked advocate H.S. Phoolka to ‘persuade’ the women and elderly protesters to go back from the protest sites, indicating that an order may be passed by the court later to this end. On January 12, the CJI  pronounced  in the court, “We want to place on record our appreciation for this stand (about elders, women and children not participating in protests in future).”  These remarks irk the question – who is considered a citizen and who isn’t? Can there be a ‘guardian’ at a given protest site to decide who should be ‘kept’ there and who should not be? Such a stance is not only an attack on human agency, but also puts the

Nouriel Roubini: The US is now the focus of global instability

Whether the storming of the US Capitol was an attempted coup, an insurrection, or an assault on democracy is merely a question of semantics. What matters is that the violence was aimed at derailing a legitimate transition of power for the benefit and at the behest of a dangerous madman. President Donald Trump, who has never hidden his dictatorial aspirations, should now be removed from power, barred from public office, and prosecuted for high crimes. After all, the events of January 6 may have been shocking, but they were not surprising. I and many other commentators had long warned that the 2020 election would bring civil unrest, violence, and attempts by Trump to remain in power illegally. Beyond his election-related crimes, Trump is also guilty of a reckless disregard for public health. He and his administration bear much of the blame for the massive Covid-19 death toll in the US, which accounts for only 4% of the global population but 20% of all coronavirus deaths… https://www.theg