Episodios

  • The Bhartiya Janta Party on 23 February put up its best performance in the two decades by sweeping all six municipal corporations in the Gujarat Urban local body elections. The ruling party won comfortable majorities in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar corporations.

    And the numbers speak for themselves. BJP improved on its 2015 tally of 389 seats out of total of 572 to as many as 483 out of 576 this time. However, on the other end, the Congress party took a nosedive in this election, from 174 seats in 2015 to just 55 in 2021. 

    While the BJP did cement its domination in urban Gujarat, what gave a jolt to both the BJP and Congress was the performance by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) who won 27 seats in Surat, a number so staggering for the debutant party that it even led to BJP Gujarat President CR Patil terming AAP’s victory as a “nail in the golden plate”. 

    Delhi Chief Minister and AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal congratulated the people of Gujarat on Twitter for “the beginning of a new politics”, and is also expected to arrive in Surat to participate in a victory rally on 26 February.

    In today’s episode, we will go through what was exactly at stake in this election, what led to AAP making in-roads in Gujarat and how important is their win? and does the Congress loss mean an end of a support in the state?

    Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram

    Guest:

    Aditya Menon, Political Editor for The Quint

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • Delhi’s Patiala Court on Tuesday, 23 February, granted bail to Bangalore-based climate activist Disha Ravi, who was arrested on 14 February in connection with a toolkit on the farmers' protest that was tweeted by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.

    In his order granting bail, Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana said, “Considering the scanty and sketchy investigation, I do not find any palpable reason to breach the rule of bail for a 22-year-old girl who has absolutely no criminal antecedents.”

    Ravi has been directed to furnish two sureties of Rs 1 lakh each for her release, responding to which her lawyer Siddharth Agarwal argued that her family was in no position to pay as much.

    However, the court denied this request. Ravi has also been directed to cooperate with the ongoing Delhi Police investigation and not leave the country.

    Ravi was also produced before a magistrate in the same court for remand hearings. Upon being told that Judge Rana had granted her bail, the magistrate said that he will dispose of the matter.

    As per the Delhi Police, Ravi edited the ‘toolkit’ containing ‘anti-India content at the behest of pro-Khalistani organisations,’ which sought to trigger violence amid the farmers' protests.

    However, Judge Rana in his bail order noted the Bombay High Court ruling which previously held that, “conspiracy cannot be proved merely on the basis of inferences. The inferences have to be backed by evidence.”

    And that the lack of evidence by the prosecution is what was highlighted by Judge Rana in his bail order as well.

    In today’s episode, we will tackle the big questions: What were the claims in Delhi Police’s FIR? How did Judge Rana respond to the key contentions of the parties and where does the case stand right now?

    Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram

    Guest:

    Vakasha Sachdev, Legal Editor, The Quint

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • Stopping just short of a lockdown, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday, 21 February announced a slew of new rules given the consistent rise of COVID-19 cases in the state. The state has been consistently reporting cases over 6,000 for the past three days and recorded 6,971 new cases on Sunday -- the highest one-day spike in last 121 days since 23 October when the state clocked 7,347 cases.

    Issuing an ultimatum to people in his 30-minute address on Twitter on 21 February, CM Thackeray warned them of a lockdown if COVID-19 protocols were not followed. 

    “It all depends on you, whether you want a lockdown or you are ready to follow the norms to avoid it,” he said in his address.

    As of now, districts such as Amravati, Akola, Yavatmal, Pune, Nashik, Parbhani have restricted movement of the people. Amravati city has been placed under lockdown for a week starting 22 February with only essential services allowed to function during the lockdown.

    The state government has also banned all political, religious and social gatherings in the state and Pune district administration has also imposed a curfew and announced closure of schools, colleges and private coaching classes till 28 February.

    What has caused this sudden spike in cases in Maharashtra? Is this spike an indication of a second wave? Does this indicate a new COVID-19 variant? And are the current vaccines available in India, Covishield and Covaxin, effective on the new variants?

    Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram

    Guest:

    Dr Subhash Salunke, Technical Advisor on COVID-19 to Maharashtra government.

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • If you are a Facebook user in Australia, you may have woken up to a very different news feed on 18 February. And don’t worry, your account was not hacked.

    The social media giant took the nuclear option in response to the Australian government’s proposed law that would require big tech platforms like Facebook and Google to reach commercial agreements and strike revenue deals with news outlets whose content drives traffic on these platforms.

    And in the early hours of 18 February, Facebook actually followed through on its earlier threat that it will ban all news websites and also the option for users to share news links.

    But the move inadvertently also resulted banning Facebook pages of government health departments, fire and rescue, Suicide Prevention Australia, charities and somehow, Facebook’s own official page as well.

    And this is a cause of concern because Australia is actually a few days away from a national COVID-19 vaccine rollout. However, executives at Facebook were quick to realise of this fumble and apologised for the error. But, according to Facebook, the pages of government departments will take at least a week to come back.

    In today’s episode, we will go through why Facebook has banned news in the middle of a pandemic. Will misinformation and conspiracy theories fill the void that news outlets left and what does this step mean for other countries like India?

    Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram

    Guest:

    Udhbhav Tiwari, Police Advisor at Mozilla

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • In the backdrop of the farmer's agitation at the borders of the capital, the Congress party made a clean sweep in Punjab’s seven of the eight municipal corporation elections on 17 February which are Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Abohar, Pathankot, Batala, Bathinda, and now Mohali as well, which went into a re-poll and the Congress emerged victorious there on 18 February when the results were declared.

    In the final count, the Congress won 1,399 of the 2,165 wards in municipal councils and 271 of the 350 municipal corporation seats. The most stunning victory came from Bathinda, where the Congress party is set to elect a mayor for the first time in 53 years, a city which has been the bastion of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

    On the other side, the BJP had a disappointing day since it is considered as an urban party in Punjab but came in with only 38 seats in the municipal wards and 20 of the municipal corporation seats. BJP's defeat in the elections does send a clear message to the Centre from the people of Punjab in the context of farms laws and the handling of ongoing farmers protest.

    The rest of the seats were won by the SAD which trailed at 289 and 33, and the Aam Aadmi Party at 57 and 9, respectively.

    How important is this victory is for the Congress, how big was the defeat for the BJP, and does this shed any light on the 2022 Assembly polls?

    Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram

    Guest:

    Aditya Menon, Political Editor at The Quint

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • Following a trial which lasted almost two years and became one of India’s most high-profile cases arising out of the #MeToo movement, a Delhi trial court on Wednesday, 17 February acquitted journalist Priya Ramani in the criminal defamation case filed against her by former Union Minister MJ Akbar.

    In the criminal defamation suit, Akbar had claimed that an article by Ramani, written for Vogue in 2017 amid the #MeToo movement, and a subsequent tweet about him in 2018 when the movement was sweeping India, caused damage to his “stellar reputation”.

    Ramani had contested these claims pleading truth, good faith, public interest and public good as her defences in the defamation trial – and as the court pronounced its verdict on 17 February, it observed that these defences raised by her were justified in light of systemic abuse of women at the workplace.

    The acquittal order was scheduled to be pronounced by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ravindra Kumar Pandey at 2 pm. However, the parties were asked to reconvene in 30 minutess by the judge to make some minor corrections to the verdict.

    When the court reconvened, Judge Pandey noted the following in the order: “Right of reputation can't be protected at the cost of right to dignity”

    The judge also noted that a man of "stellar reputation" can also be a sexual harasser and that “the Indian Constitution allows a woman to put forward her grievance before any forum, and at any time, even after decades.”

    What does this victory mean? What next for MJ Akbar?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram

    Guest:
    Priya Ramani, the defendant in the case and a senior journalist,

    Vakasha Sachdev, Legal Editor for The Quint
    and Karan Tripathi, Legal Consultant for The Quint

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • A day after Delhi Police arrested Bengaluru-based climate activist Disha Ravi on charges of sedition for having allegedly edited a toolkit which Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg shared on Twitter, two more activists came under the spotlight –– Nikita Jacob and Shantanu Muluk. 

    Who are they and what is the police alleging?

    Nikita Jacob is a practicing lawyer in the Bombay High Court and Shantanu Muluk is an environmentalist who had quit his aerospace engineering job around six months back, to focus on the parched regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada. 

    From the press conference held on 15 February, we know that the Delhi Police had named the three accused –– Disha Ravi, Nikita Jacob and Shantanu –– as the editors and creators of the toolkit who laid out an “action plan” for 26 January. Their aim? To create misinformation and disaffection against the lawfully enacted government. The police further revealed that a Zoom meeting took place on 11 January, attended by Jacob and Shantanu, and organised by the Poetic Justice foundation, which the police deems as a pro-Khalistani organisation, in which ‘the modalities of the Global Day of Action were worked out’.

    In her defence, Nikita Jacob has stated that the toolkit was simply an information pack, that her intent was never to incite violence and there was nothing illegal in what she did.

    Shantanu Muluk, who was granted transit anticipatory bail on 16 February after a Delhi court issued a non-bailable warrant against him, had said in his bail plea before the Bombay High Court: 

    "...Vendetta has trickled down from politics to the house of a common man making a mockery of the rights and principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. That such vendetta, which is the dark face of authoritarianism, is the real ‘toolkit’ for devastation of not only of democracy but also basic human rights.”

    Naturally, the statements of the police and the accused contrast... so in this episode we are going to try and see where the law stands on toolkits and sedition, and how the law should treat Shantanu and Nikita Jacob's case.

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guest:
    Vakasha Sachdev, Legal Editor for The Quint

    Editor: Shelly Walia

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  • In a move that has triggered anger and disbelief in equal parts across social media by legal experts, the opposition parties, climate activists and even the Samyukt Kisan Morcha, Delhi Police on 13 February arrested 21-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi from her Bengaluru residence on charges of creating and sharing  a toolkit on the farmers’ protest that was posted by international climate activist Greta Thunberg.

    Disha Ravi’s arrest marks the first arrest in an FIR filed by the cybercrime unit of the Delhi Police, which was registered against the creators of the ‘toolkit’ on 4 February.

    Delhi Police’s statement claimed that Ravi was a ‘co-conspirator’ in the toolkit's formulation –– and ‘in this process’ collaborated with ‘pro-Khalistani Poetic Justice Foundation to spread disaffection against the Indian State’.

    Ravi has denied being part of any conspiracy and said that she didn't create the toolkit and just made two edits to it. She was produced before a magistrate in Delhi on Sunday, 14 February, who remanded her to five days police custody.

    Disha Ravi’s case raises questions on the legality of her arrest – and the process which the Delhi police followed – over and above questions about whether the offences that she and others are accused of are even made out.

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guest:
    Dr NC Asthana, a retired IPS officer and the former DGP Kerala,

    and

    Rebecca John, a senior law advocate

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • In a major breakthrough in talks to resolve the standoff between Indian and Chinese armed forces at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, China’s Defence Ministry and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on 10 and 11 February respectively announced that Indian and Chinese troops on the southern and northern shores of Pangong Tso lake have begun a phased, coordinated and verified disengagement.

    The consensus was reached during the ninth round of previously held military commander-level talks. According to the agreement, both forces will move back to their traditional bases on the north bank of Pangong Tso. Significantly, both sides will stop patrolling to the extent of their respective claims in the area.

    The development comes after months of stand-offs between India and China at the LAC, during which a violent face-off last year between the two sides at the Galwan Valley led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese troops.

    The last standoff between the two Asian giants was in late August 2020 when India occupied certain peaks on the south bank, which were previously unoccupied by either side.

    Does this disengagement mean an end to the hostile environment in relations between the two countries? or is it just another addition to a long list of landmark standoffs that are yet to be negotiated?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guest:
    Former Army Commander Lieutenant General AK Singh, also served as the Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Puducherry

    and

    Manoj Joshi, senior journalist and a Distinguished Fellow at the Observer Research Foundation

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • On 3 January 2021, Covaxin became India's first indigenously produced vaccine against the novel coronavirus to get 'emergency approval in public health interest in clinical trial mode.’ 

    The vaccine is jointly made by Bharat Biotech, Indian Council of Medical Research and National Institute of Virology. 

    However, its approval raised many questions, especially since phase 3 clinical trials were still ongoing and no efficacy data had been published.

    Several media outlets in January 2021 reported on the vaccine’s clinical trial at People’s Hospital Bhopal, one of the several sites where phase 3 trials are taking place. The reports pointed to how poor people were lured without any understanding that they were taking part in a vaccine trail and not a vaccination drive. 

    There has been one death and several participants have reported illnesses at this site. 

    Why are there fears of ethical breaches in the clinical trail and what does it mean for Covaxin?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guest:
    Priyanka Pulla, freelance science journalist

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • After almost half a century of service in Indian politics, outgoing Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha and veteran Congress parliamentarian Ghulam Nabi Azad signed off from the upper house on 9 February.

    While Mr Azad's touching speech left Rajya Sabha members emotional, a teary-eyed Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Mr Azad’s replacement will have a tough time filling his shoes.

    A Congress loyalist from the start since he was a block committee chairman at 24,  Mr Azad has been a close confidante of the Gandhi’s, and in the recent days even a critic of the Congress' lack of leadership.

    In the shadows of lingering leadership crisis, his exit from the Rajya Sabha signifies a big change for the Congress party.

    What does this mean for the Congress? Is there any possibility of a comeback? If not, who are the frontrunners who can take up the mantle?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guest:
    Senior journalist and political commentators Arati Jerath and Javed Ansari.

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • Laidback, insufficient, and unprepared are just some of the words used in a report by the Parliamentary Committee of IT to describe the efforts of the Union Communications Ministry's in rolling out 5G technology.

    5G trials in India are set to launch in March. But the 125-page report, titled “India’s Preparedness for 5G”, released on 8 February and prepared by a 31-member committee comprising members across party lines, from both Houses of Parliament, concluded that India has not gone beyond the initial stages of preparation as compared to other countries, so much so that, India may actually “miss the 5G bus.”

    The Committee also states that its concerns for 5G deployment are enhanced by the fact that previous network technologies like 2G, 3G, and 4G were all deployed later in India when compared to the rest of the world.
    The Committee has raised several issues with the DoT’s current preparedness on 5G, one of the biggest being the unit price of spectrum, which is in the range of 3-70 times more when compared to other countries.

    While some countries like the US, UK, Australia have already introduced 5G services, India is running behind all other players.

    Where does India stand in 5G deployment, what are the obstacles, and by when should we expect it in India?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guest:
    Sanjay Kapoor, former CEO of Bharti Airtel India.

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • Is it a landslide or a glacial burst or a man-made disaster that triggered the sudden flash floods in Uttarakhand's Chamoli district? It is yet to be ascertained as to what exactly caused the disaster that led to the death of at least 19 people, while around 200 others are reported missing as of Monday, 8 February.

    All hands are on the deck to rescue those who are feared to be trapped in the Tapovan tunnel - the ITBP, the Indian Army, the IAF, the NDRF and the NCMC have been deployed for the search and rescue operations. The death toll is expected to rise as bodies of the labourers working in the flood path are still being recovered.

    At least two under-construction hydro power projects in Chamoli district were severely impacted by the flood, with fatalities reported among personnel deployed at these sites.

    Several other projects on the Alaknanda and Bhagirathi river basins in northwestern Uttarakhand have also been impacted by the flood.

    While the central government has stated that the a landslide at a high altitude caused the flash flood, several experts have pointed their fingers towards developmental projects like hydro plants,  which may be causing harm to the ecology of the Uttarakhand region.

    What led to this disaster? Could it have been caused by climate change or human interventions?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guests:
    Dr Anjal Prakash, Research Director and Adjunct Associate Professor, ISB Hyderabad

    Dr Farooq Azam, Assistant Professor, Glaciology & Hydrology, IIT Indore

    and

    Bahar Dutt, award winning environment journalist

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • While barricades are being put up in a bid to crackdown on farmers' protest, simultaneously there have been FIRs and cases of sedition against several journalists over their reportage of the protest.

    Since the incident of the Red Fort violence, over the past couple of weeks, Rajdeep Sardesai, Mrinal Pande, Zafar Agha, Paresh Nath, Anant Nath, Vinod K Hose had cases against them for allegedly misreporting the events and promoting disharmony.

    In a separate instance, freelance journalist Mandeep Punia who's a contributor to the caravan, was arrested while reporting at the Singhu border for allegedly misbehaving with the police. While visuals of the police manhandling him at the protest site went viral, prompting the media fraternity to demand for his release, Mr Punia was kept in judicial custody for 14 days without being allowed to see his lawyer until he received his bail on 3 February.

    After his release, Mr Punia alleged that he was falsely accused of assaulting the police, and was given a brutal treatment in custody. 

    As these kind of incidents have been spiking over the last few years, India has also been sliding down the ladder of the world press freedom index. In 2020, india ranked 142nd out of 180 countries.

    Is India turning hostile towards free press? What challenges are journalists facing on the ground from the state?

    Big Story Episode on blockades at farmers protest sites in Delhi:

    Are Blockades at Farmer Protest Sites Needed and Legal? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7791279-are-blockades-at-farmer-protest-sites-needed-and-legal)

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guests:
    Mandeep Punia, a freelance journalist and contributor to The Caravan

    and 
    Patricia Mukhim, a veteran journalist and  Editor of The Shillong Times

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • Unlike the regular mobile barricades set up by the police to restrict foot traffic, vehicle movement, the police blockades at Ghazipur, Singhu and Tikri, where scores of farmers are currently protesting, are more permanent in nature.

    Apart from the internet shutdown that was imposed after the Red Ford violence, video footage and photographs from these areas now show cement walls being constructed, spike wire on top of steel obstacles, iron nails bolted to the road to prevent advancement.

    But the barricading has also led to larger consequences. It has been reported that these barricades have cut off farmers access to water and sanitation facilities, which they had access to previously.

    But is this level of blockade legal? Do they violate any human rights law? Are barricades of this scale necessary and what do the farmers feel about them?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guests:
    Dr N C Asthana, who is a retired Indian Police Service officer,

    Vakasha Sachdev, The Quint’s Legal Editor,
    Shadab Moizee, Senior Correspondent for Quint Hindi 

    And voice of protesters from Ghazipur.

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:

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  • Just as farmers have been accusing the Centre of harassing them in a bid to shutdown their protest, the whole movement against the centre's controversial farm laws got a fresh impetus as it gained an overwhelming international attention.

    On 2 February, when Singer and actor Rihanna shared a report by CNN on the internet blockade imposed around Delhi, on her Twitter asking her 100 million strong followers “Why aren’t we talking about this?! #FarmersProtest” — barely hours within posting the tweet, a huge amount of global support came pouring in from international icons, journalists, activists, advocacy groups and legislators too.

    Rihanna's tweet is perhaps not all that suprising since she has frequently spoke up about human rights issues such as Black Lives Matter and even the recent coup in Myanmar.

    But immediately after Rihanna's tweet, teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg also tweeted saying, "We stand in solidarity with the #FarmersProtest in India."

    British MP Claudia Webbe retweeted Rihanna's post and wrote: "Solidarity to the Indian Farmers. Thank you Rihanna. In an era where political leadership is lacking we are grateful for others stepping forward."

    US Vice President Kamala Harris's niece Meena Harris wrote, “It's no coincidence that the world's oldest democracy was attacked not even a month ago, and as we speak, the most populous democracy is under assault. This is related. We all should be outraged by India's internet shutdowns and paramilitary violence against farmer protesters."

    Is this renewed international support going to be a significant turning point in the farmers' protest? Tune in to The Big Story!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Vishnu Prakash, former High Commissioner to Canada, Ambassador to South Korea and Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs
    Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Senior Journalist 
    Sayani Gupta, Bollywood Actor
    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:

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  • On 1 February, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Union Budget for the next financial year on the back of several challenges thrown up by the pandemic. In response, Indian stock markets zoomed over 2300 points on the day and even extended their rally today. But how did everyday people and experts view the Budget?

    According to a Budget opinion poll by CVoter conducted on 2 February, 36.4 percent respondents said the Centre delivered "worse than expected" in the Budget. The survey also states that 25.1 percent people felt that the Budget was "better than expected" and 27.6 percent people said it was "just as expected".

    Experts noted the budget as bold, transparent, and a big gamble on growth revival.

    Among key highlights were a sharp rise in fiscal deficit, emphasis on capital expenditure, privatisation of public sector banks and primary focus on the health and wellness sector. However, digging deeper into the numbers, we noticed there's more than meets the eye.

    References:
    The Big Story episode on the health budget:
     

    Health Budget Increased by 137 Percent But Enough for Recovery?  (https://audioboom.com/posts/7787857-health-budget-increased-by-137-percent-but-enough-for-recovery)

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guests:
    Dr Rathin Roy, leading economist and Director of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy,

    Sanjay Pugalia, Editorial Director for The Quint, 

    and 

    Saurabh Mukherjee, Founder of Marcellus Investment Managers.

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:

    Apple: https://apple.co/2AYdLIl (https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=https%3A%2F%2Fapple.co%2F2AYdLIl&redir_token=G9sQMbbppKv-LEFD29gDyTmPMzt8MTU3MTM4MDU5NkAxNTcxMjk0MTk2&v=xkpX1V6aUFo&event=video_description)

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  • In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave a fresh impetus to the Indian healthcare sector as she tabled the Union Budget 2021 on 1 February.

    The very first item on her checklist, the health budget –– with a total outlay of Rs 2.24 lakh crore –– witnessed a nearly 137 percent jump from last year. The finance minister said that the fight against coronavirus will continue well into 2021, as she identified "health and well-being" as one of the six pillars of the Budget.

    Apart from healthcare, the Budget gave major emphasis to infrastructure and agriculture sectors. Amid chants to 'repeal the farm laws' that has caused countrywide protests for more than two months now, Sitharaman said her government was "committed to the welfare of farmers.”

    Talking of infrastructure, the government announced investments in highways, roads, and metros in four states where Assembly elections are due soon –– Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and West Bengal.

    Besides, a host of announcements were made on the divestment front, including the government's decision to privatise two public sector banks and one general insurance company.

    Though the Budget has been received favourably by the stock market, with some saying "no bad news is good news", let's dissect some of the highlights – health, agriculture and infrastructure. Does the health budget have enough financing needed for vaccine distribution? How will the new budget allocations for poll-bound states play out for the BJP? What about India's farmers?

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guests:
    Dr Amir Ullah Khan, who is Development and Trade Economist, and also an Advisor to the Bill and Melina Gates Foundation,

    Aditya Menon, The Quint's political editor

    and

    Kiran Vissa of the Rythu Swarajya Vedika.

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:

    Apple: https://apple.co/2AYdLIl (https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=https%3A%2F%2Fapple.co%2F2AYdLIl&redir_token=G9sQMbbppKv-LEFD29gDyTmPMzt8MTU3MTM4MDU5NkAxNTcxMjk0MTk2&v=xkpX1V6aUFo&event=video_description)

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  • With the entire country in a lockdown since March, with malls, offices, schools shut, salaries being slashes, people being fired from their jobs, migrants walking back home for want of employment and food, it felt like we are all in this pandemic together.

    However, a recent report by Oxfam states that India’s wealthiest escaped the worst of the pandemic and actually got richer in the lockdown!

    Sample this: India’s top 100 billionaires have seen their fortunes increase by Rs 12,97,822 crores since March, enough to give every one in India's 138 million-strong population a cheque of Rs 94,045.

    The pandemic has pinched more than just the pockets of many Indians. It has also revealed glaring cracks in our health care system, the access to education, the digital divide and most importantly, how the pandemic has NOT impacted us equally.

    So how did billionaires continue to get richer during a pandemic? And how has income inequality aggravated the general state of inequality in India and is a reform of our tax code the answer?

    References:
    Oxfam India Virus Inequality Report 2021 (https://d1ns4ht6ytuzzo.cloudfront.net/oxfamdata/oxfamdatapublic/2021-01/The%20Inequality%20Virus%20-%20India%20Supplement%20%28Designed%29.pdf?RrFsF8iTfT.g_PfT0H7HLpMvSTrb.M__)

    Big Story Episodes on Covid-19 Impact on Education in India:

    Part 1: Should India Reopen Schools or Provide Equitable Education First? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7684095-part-1-should-india-reopen-schools-or-provide-equitable-education-first)

    Part 2: Prolonged Shutdown of Schools Affecting Students' Health as Well? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7685088-part-2-prolonged-shutdown-of-schools-affecting-students-health-as-well)

    Producer and Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guests:
    Amitabh Behar, Chief Executive Officer, Oxfam India

    Editor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:

    Apple: https://apple.co/2AYdLIl (https://www.youtube.com/redirect?q=https%3A%2F%2Fapple.co%2F2AYdLIl&redir_token=G9sQMbbppKv-LEFD29gDyTmPMzt8MTU3MTM4MDU5NkAxNTcxMjk0MTk2&v=xkpX1V6aUFo&event=video_description)

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  • A decades-old border dispute between Maharashtra and Karnataka has caught fire again, with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray staking claims to some long-disputed territories between the states.

    Maharashtra, for the last 60 years or so, has been laying its claim on areas such as Belagavi, Karwar, Nippani, Vijayapura, Dharwad and Uttara-Kannada – that are currently a part of Karnataka, arguing that Marathi-speaking regions should come under Maharashtra.

    And recently, in a public book launch event on 27 January, as CM Thackeray revived the state governments agenda asking for the disputed areas to be made into a union territory until the problems are resolved, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister Lakshman Savadi spat back at him saying that Mumbai should be made into a Union Territory.

    While Thackeray accused the Karnataka government of deliberately changing Belgaum's name to Belagavi... even threatening to take the matter to court, Savadi condemned the statements made by Shiv Sena top brass and said that Marathi people in Belgaum are like all Kannadigas in the state.

    So, what is the Belgaum land dispute all about and what is fuelling it all these decades?

    Host: Himmat Shaligram
    Guests: 
    Deepak Pawar, Editor for the book "Maharashtra-Karnataka Border Dispute: Struggle and Pledge"

    Producer: Himmat Shaligram

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:

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