WTF Just Happened: December 24

#1. In Uttar Pradesh, the always-innovative Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath — who, last month, came up with the Kamadhenu model to kickstart the state’s economy — has solved the problem of backlog in the state courts. His government will soon withdraw nearly 20,000 cases against politicians.

The move is aimed at reducing the pendency of cases. Yogi said that the police usually registers petty cases against people’s representatives staging dharna or protesting on some issue. “These cases should be closed.”

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On Bombay

Writing in the wake of the May bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, Spiked! Editor Brendan O’Neill wrote:

After the terror, the platitudes. And the hashtags. And the candlelit vigils. And they always have the same message: ‘Be unified. Feel love. Don’t give in to hate.’ The banalities roll off the national tongue. Vapidity abounds. A shallow fetishisation of ‘togetherness’ takes the place of any articulation of what we should be together for – and against. …

It is becoming clear that the top-down promotion of a hollow ‘togetherness’ in response to terrorism is about cultivating passivity. It is about suppressing strong public feeling. It’s about reducing us to a line of mourners whose only job is to weep for our fellow citizens, not ask why they died, or rage against their dying. … They want us passive, empathetic, upset, not angry, active, questioning. They prefer us as a lonely crowd of dutiful, disconnected mourners rather than a real collective of citizens demanding to know why our fellow citizens died and how we might prevent others from dying. We should stop playing the role they’ve allotted us.

I was reminded of O’Neill’s visceral anger as I followed news of the deadly stampede at the railway station formerly known as Elphinstone Road.

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Disaster, foretold

The news:

A water vessel carrying 1,235 tonnes of coals has sunk in the Sundarbans’ Shela River after its bottom was ruptured.

So? So, this: it piles tragedy on tragedy in a fragile, precious ecosystem. For those interested:
In late 2014, photo-journalist Arati Kumar-Rao had pointed to the unhindered shipping in this protected site, and predicted disaster. In early 2015, she went back to the Sunderbans and filed a series of reports on a disaster that unfolded exactly as she had predicted. Read:
The story of a hazardous clean up, and a stunning cover up.
The story of a UN “study” that saw precisely what it was supposed to see: no evil.
Five months later the government — having learnt nothing from the disaster — decided to let ships ply along the Sela again.
There is much more of Arati Kumar-Rao’s coverage, which received wide international notice at the time, here: (Scroll down to the section titled Estuaries: The Endangered Sunderbans).
Update: 12.30 PM: Shipping along the Sela has been banned again. So the playbook is still in use: Ban as soon as disaster strikes, wait for the fuss to die down, then quietly revoke the ban and carry on as usual.


Watch-list: Kakrapar

#1 in an occasional series on stories that slip under the radar because we are too busy analysing the hell out of two a pie-fight between two Bollywood personalities: The leak at the Kakrapur nuclear plant, and the total silence thereafter:

We know that on-site emergency was declared in Kakrapar late evening on March 11 although the accident happened, or started, around 9 am. But we don’t know if the emergency has been lifted and if the situation has returned to normal.

We also don’t know the status of workers, especially those who were on the morning shift that day. All that we have is assurances from the plant officials that radiation counts are “not abnormally high”. When this author spoke to the district magistrate of Surat on the phone, he said he has nothing to say beyond what has appeared in the official press release.

Last heard, the plant officials said they are yet to ascertain the cause of the leak. The current chief of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board said to the press that “the magnitude of the coolant system failure is significant”.



The man-made “natural disaster”

It's all about money, honey


Remember this image, which spoke a thousand eloquent words about the June 2013 floods in Uttarakhand?

A Supreme Court-mandated committee finds that the unchecked building of hydro-power plants was the trigger behind the devastation. Read, an excellent report by Nidhi Jamwal.