Tragic trek: on unauthorised expeditions

Venturing into forests for a trek without certified guides is akin to walking into a death trap with one’s eyes closed. Many cases of trekkers being fatally attacked by wild animals, often elephants, and other accidents such as falling off cliffs in the Western and Eastern Ghats bear testimony to this. In the latest incident, on Sunday, a 40-year-old woman, who reportedly went trekking in a reserve forest in Coimbatore, with her husband and friends, was trampled by an elephant. In 2018, 23 people, most of them youngsters, perished in a forest fire while on an unauthorised expedition in south Tamil Nadu’s Kurangani hills. The hike was organised by a private trekking club without Forest Department permission. There have been numerous instances of lost trekkers being eventually rescued by forest personnel or locals. Not all are fortunate though. In 2014, a budding Tamil film art director vanished while on an unauthorised trek in Coimbatore’s Vellingiri hills. Far from being sensitised by

Stay put: on Vladimir Putin's Cabinet reshuffle

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government reshuffle is the latest phase of a calculated transition strategy aimed at his political relevance beyond 2024, when he demits office. The overhaul, detailed in his recent state of the nation address, includes sweeping constitutional changes, which he said would be put to a referendum. Most significant is perhaps a two-term limit for future Presidents. Mr. Putin is currently serving his fourth. A 2008 manoeuvre, when the former KGB officer, at the end of a second successive term swapped the presidency with Dmitry Medvedev, installing himself Prime Minister for the next four years, caused outrage. A third term from 2013, was after an amendment to extend presidential terms to six years. There was a hint of the new revamp at a press conference in December, when Mr. Putin also pointed to a woman’s eligibility for the country’s highest office. Other changes include the expansion of the powers of Parliament and Prime Minister, besides
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