Dangerous conflagration: On Assam-Mizoram border clash

Following a dangerous and avoidable escalation of an otherwise dormant border dispute, five policemen and a civilian from Assam were killed in the Mizo border town of Vairengte in clashes between police from the State and their counterparts in Mizoram, on Monday. The sequence of events, beginning October 2020, suggests that what began as skirmishes between residents close to the disputed border between Assam’s Cachar and Mizoram’s Kolasib districts has snowballed into a violent confrontation between police and residents. The events point to a failure of the constitutional machinery, empowered to de-escalate tensions at the border. The presence of central paramilitary forces should have helped maintain the peace, but it is curiously not the case. Besides, Assam and Mizoram are governed by the BJP and its ally, the Mizo National Front, respectively, and are part of North-East Democratic Alliance, of which the Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, is a founder-convenor. The political

Crisis in Tunis: On Tunisian politics

Tunisian President Kais Saied’s decision to sack the Prime Minister and suspend Parliament, amid widespread anti-government protests, has triggered the worst political crisis in the country since the Arab Spring protests. Among the countries affected by the Arab street protests, Tunisia was the only one that managed to successfully transition from dictatorship to parliamentary democracy. But the North African country’s elected rulers never managed to ease its economic woes, or offer stable governance. Tunisia has had nine governments since 2011, with its crisis-hit economy being battered further by the COVID-19 outbreak — last year, its GDP contracted by 8.8% in real terms. The trigger now is the government’s poor handling of the pandemic. The country of 11.8 million has recorded nearly 18,000 COVID-related deaths so far — one of the highest per capita death rates in the world. Only 7% of the population are fully vaccinated. Last week, the government’s move to speed up vaccination by

Change at the helm: on Yediyurappa's resignation

By unseating B.S. Yediyurappa from the Chief Minister’s chair in Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has set in motion a new strategy for its consolidation in the State. Considering that this change of guard has been in the making for a while, the party must have accounted for the ramifications. The BJP had to change its Chief Minister in Uttarakhand twice within a span of four months recently, pointing to the pitfalls in effecting changes even when they are premeditated. Mr. Yediyurappa is no pushover and remains agile and active even at the age of 78. He has already said he would remain active in politics. At least for now, he has no intention of crossing swords with the central leadership of the party, which gave him the marching orders. But the Lingayat community that he belongs to has left no opportunity to express its displeasure. Community leaders and seers have come out openly in support of the displaced Chief Minister. Lingayats form the axis of the BJP’s social base


Wounded mountains: on Himachal landslide tragedy

The tragic death of nine tourists in a landslip in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh is another pointer to the fragility of the ecology of the Himalayan States. Extraordinarily heavy rain pummelled the State recently, leaving the hill slopes unstable and causing floods in built-up areas including Dharamshala. The descending boulders from destabilised terrain, which crushed a bridge like a matchstick, are a source of worry even for cautious local residents, and for unwary visitors, such as the tourists travelling in a van, they can turn into sudden disaster. Himachal is famed for its scenic vistas and welcoming summer climate, and drew a few hundred thousand tourists in June this year as States began relaxing the controls for COVID-19. There was justified alarm at the prospect of a fresh surge in infections, prompting Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to appeal for COVID-appropriate behaviour. Unfortunately, there was not enough vigil against travel to risky areas, in the wake of a


A climate risk: On extreme weather events

The monsoon is nearing its halfway mark and July, which is among the rainiest months, began with a rainfall deficit but has since seen a revival. For most of last week, all-India rainfall has been over 50% more than what is normal for this time of the year. Many regions in the Konkan coast and the southern peninsula have been seeing instances of extreme rainfall. According to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data on the regional distribution, the ‘South Peninsula’ has seen 29% more rain from June 1-July 25 than what is normal for this period. Rainfall in Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra, was torrential enough to beat its all-time record, according to the IMD. The monsoon is characterised by unexpected variability that forecast models can capture only in a limited way. However, much evidence is accumulating that there is a distinctive change in climate patterns. The frequency and the strength of cyclones over the Arabian Sea have increased in the last two decades. There has been a 52%

Money changer: On need for an official digital currency

The Ganga’s message: On microplastics pollution

Return to troubles: On Brexit and the Good Friday agreement

Dealing with denial: On playing down the COVID-19 tragedy

Water as woe: On Mumbai’s annual mayhem

Spy in hand: On Pegasus spyware issue

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