Episodit

  • In a very shocking and saddening incident from Assam, at least two people were reported dead in police firing and nine injured, after violent clashes broke out on 23 September, during an eviction drive in Darrang district.

    Disturbing videos of the clashes between the locals and police from the eviction drive that have surfaced online, give a glimpse into unrestrained police brutality.

    One particular video that has drawn a lot of anger, shows policemen firing at the residents of Sipajhar area, when a lone local charges at them with a stick. And, in this mayhem he is then seen being thrashed brutally by the police even as his body lies motionless.

    While this incident of violence has drawn a lot of reprobation from ordinary citizens, activists, and politicians alike, the eviction drive itself is also raising a lot of questions.

    Over the past few months, the Assam government has embarked on an anti-encroachment drive that has rendered hundreds of people from socially and economically marginalised communities homeless.

    But unlike the previous eviction drives, the recent one that began from 20 September, is seen to be a far bigger exercise to clear 4,500 bighas of encroached land that according to the Assam Chief Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma's own tweet, has left people from 800 households homeless.

    This raises several questions:

    Firstly, with a large number of the displaced families being Muslims of Bengali origins, is the Assam government's anti-encroachment drive likely to heighten polarisation in the state?

    Secondly, with a recent analytical report from the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) also pointing out that nearly 21 people were evicted every hour in the pandemic months between March 2020 and July 2021, what kind of a commentary do these evictions from Assam and other parts of India present on the lack of social security for the landless? How do these acts affect lives and livelihoods of marginalised people?

    Thirdly, how should authorities go about evictions without impinging on the dignity of living? What are the safeguards required to ensure that such drives don't leave people with nowhere to go?

    Tune in!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Suraj Gogoi, PhD scholar of Sociology at the National University of Singapore; Manish, Lawyer and Researcher at the Centre for Policy Research;
    Mukta Joshi, Legal Associate at Land Conflict WatchEditor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

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  • From being the first speaker at the 76th United Nations (UN) General Assembly to holding meetings with CEOs of big companies, and scheduled bilateral discussions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day US visit is jam-packed.

    However, this visit also comes in the backdrop of an array of geopolitical developments – from the fallout in Afghanistan to the recent strategic alignments between the US and Australia and uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Pertinent to this visit will be the first in-person leaders' meeting of the Quad – an alliance between India, US, Australia, and Japan – on 24 September.

    The group, which has only met sporadically since it was formed in 2007, is officially committed to a shared vision “for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, resilient and inclusive” by strengthening its relations on supply chain, communications, technology and climate chance projects.

    However, its recent revival in 2017 and again in 2021 is seen to be largely due to the growing assertion of China in the Indo-Pacific region and all four countries have their respective motivations to dilute China’s military presence in the region.

    And now, given the geopolitical flux in the region with the fallout in Afghanistan and India’s sour relations with China post Galwan Valley clashes, what is expected out of the Quad summit? And what role can India play in it?

    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Akshobh Giridharadas, a US based journalist and Manoj Joshi, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Following a massive backlash from India over its “racist” and "discriminatory" travel restrictions, the United Kingdom (UK) finally recognised Covishield in its list of approved COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, 22 September.

    The new travel policy in the UK, which is set to kick in from 4 October, had left many Indians confused as it required even the fully vaccinated travellers to undergo COVID-19 tests before departure and after arrival, and a mandatory 10-day quarantine when they land in the UK.

    What further infuriated people was the fact that the rules were different for other travellers who have been inoculated with vaccines such as Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson and Johnson.

    Pertinently, what is puzzling about the refusal was that Vaxzevria, the UK version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which is branded as Covishield in India, are the same vaccine, to the extent where India even exported 5 million doses of Covishield to UK to help with their vaccine rollout earlier this year.

    But even though the UK government has now recognised Covishield, according to the new rules, there is no respite to Indian travellers since they would still have to undergo all the COVID-19 tests and even the 10-day quarantine.

    So what is making the UK government refuse the authenticity of the Indian shot? What are their concerns? And what steps can the union government take to rectify this issue?

    To understand this, for today’s episode we spoke with health journalist Divya Rajagopal and former Indian ambassador Anil Tringunayat. Tune in!

    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Divya Rajagopal, senior health journalist and former Indian ambassador Anil Tringunayat.

    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • All's not looking well for the BJP in West Bengal.

    Amid a spate of defections of BJP leaders to the Trinamool Congress, the party's state chief Dilip Ghosh was shifted to the post of the national vice-president, well before his term was due to end.

    In his stead, Sukanta Majumdar, a relatively lesser-known first-time MP, has been appointed as the chief of BJP in Bengal, at a time when the party seems to be facing a very serious organisational crisis at the state level.

    While there have been complaints about Ghosh's leadership, especially since the BJP faced a humiliating defeat in the state assembly polls unlike its expectations, the change of guard is also believed to have been spurred by a series of desertions from the party that has exposed a chink in its armour.
    Ever since their electoral defeat in the state, the BJP has been struggling to keep its party together in West Bengal, with reports of infighting and defections.

    Over the past few months, four party MLAs, who were former TMC leaders, have gone back to the TMC – Mukul Roy being one of the prominent faces among them.

    But after Roy's 'ghar wapsi,' former Union minister and two-time Asansol MP Babul Supriyo switching to the TMC was perhaps a bigger blow to the BJP.

    Now, with murmurs of more possible defections, will the reshuffling in the state leadership be able arrest the niggling problems within the party?

    What will be the task ahead for Sukanta Majumdar, the new state unit chief? Why is the party seeming so directionless and imploding with dissension in West Bengal? Tune in!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Ishadrita Lahiri, Kolkata Correspondent, The Quint
    Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Senior JournalistEditor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    References:BJP MLA Count Down By 6 Since Bengal Polls: Why Is It Failing To Retain Leaders?
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  • The political corridors in Punjab were bustling over the last two days, with the resignation of one of its oldest guards Captain Amarinder Singh on 18 September and, just 24 hours later, the surprise pick of Dalit Sikh Charanjit Singh Channi as the new chief minister.

    The Captain’s resignation comes after months of infighting, public insults and bitter jabs between him and his political arch-rival Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had been gunning for the Captain’s ouster for the better part of this year.

    However, the final straw towards the Captain’s resignation fell after a faction of MLAs wrote a letter to the Congress high command, voicing a change in leadership and a lack of confidence in him, resulting in the former CM’s public statement that he “feels humiliated” and resigning from his post.

    The change in guard in Punjab also comes just four months before the state heads to polls. So what are the tasks ahead the new CM? Will he be able to bring the divided party together? What lies next for Amarinder Singh and most importantly, is this signalling a change in the functioning of the Grand Old Party?

    To analyse these questions, for this episode, we spoke with


    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Aditya Menon, The Quint’s Political Editor.Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Putting an end to all speculation in recent days, Virat Kohli stunned the cricketing family when he announced that he will be stepping down as the captain of the Indian men's T20 team after the 2021 T20 World Cup, which will be held in UAE and Oman in October-November.

    He will, however, continue to lead India in Tests and ODIs.

    Under his captaincy, India has won 27 out of 45 matches including some unforgettable series wins in South Africa, England, and Australia.

    But as shocking as this news is to Indian cricket lovers, many believe that the decision to relinquish the T20 captaincy came at an apt moment, with pressures increasingly mounting on the skipper.

    While Kohli wrote about his immense workload as the captain of all three formats — Tests, ODI and T20 and the need for space to be able to lead the Indian cricket team, the team's less-than-adequate performance at ICC events has also been a cause of concern.

    So, all in all, was it a good call on Kohli's part? What does this mean for Virat the cricketer in T20s for India and what next for India in T20s in terms of its team selection? In this episode, we speak to senior sports journalist Ayaz Memon. Tune in!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Ayaz Memon, Indian Sports Writer and JournalistEditor: Mendra Dorjey

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • In a significant move on 15 September, the Centre top-uped the telcos by a providing a four year moratorium on their due payment as part of its latests reforms.

    The move comes as a big relief to the financialLY starved industry, especially to Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel which are two of the hardest hit telcos. In short, these reforms provide the telcos four more year to pay their adjusted gross revenue (AGR) and spectrum dues and will kick in from 1 October.

    While the telcos will also have to pay interest on the four year deferral of payments, they have the option to convert the due amount into equity at the end of four years.

    But even though many experts have welcomed the reforms, the question which still looms in the air is if this is enough to help Vodafone Idea survive, which just six weeks ago was on the brink of collapse due to the burden of its exposure to the market.

    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Sanjay Kapoor, former Bharti Airtel CEO
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • At a time when polarisation between the Hindu and Muslim communities across India has increased, a Catholic bishop in Kerala has set off a new controversy by alleging that Muslim communities are waging a “narcotics jihad”.

    On 9 September, Bishop Mar Joseph Kallarangatt of the Pala, Kottayam district alleged that the Muslim community is endangering youth belonging to other religions, especially the Christian youth, by luring them into Islam using drugs.

    These drugs, according to the Bishop, are allegedly used in ice cream parlours, juice corners, and hotels, which are run by “hardcore jihadist” and that drugs are being used as a “weapon to spoil non-Muslims”.

    Not surprisingly, the comments also set off alarm bells across the Christian community in the state, with other bishops and nuns, several Islamist groups, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, and the Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan condemning the Bishop’s comments.

    However, the Catholic Church along with the influential Nair Service Society community and the Bhartiya Janta Party, who has been trying to make inroads in the state, has come out in full public support of the Bishop's comments.

    The Kerala unit of the BJP also went a step further and wrote to Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking a law to deal with “narco-terrorist and love jihad”.

    But why is a Catholic Bishop in Kerala triggering a war of words against another minority community in the state? What is it about the Muslim community that is making the Catholic Church anxious? And is this the first time this has happened?

    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: KA Shaji, senior journalist based in Kerala.

    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Also check out:

    Kerala Bishop & ‘Narcotics Jihad’: Demographic Fear Pushing Christians to BJP?
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Five months after coming to power, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin fulfilled one of DMK’s crucial election promises and passed a bill to do away with the common entrance exam for the state's medical aspirants.

    The Tamil Nadu Admission to Undergraduate Medical Degree Courses Bill which was passed on 13 September, seeks to exempt medical admissions to undergraduate courses in medicine, dentistry and homeopathy based on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test or the NEET exam.

    Since this common entrance test was made mandatory in 2017, we have read several reports of student suicides across Tamil Nadu.

    In fact, the day before that the state adopted the bill, a 19-year-old NEET aspirant Dhanush was found dead in Salem hours before he was supposed to sit for his third NEET attempt. As per reports, it is suspected that he took his own life fearing that he may not be able to clear the entrance test for admissions yet again.

    Another student was found dead on 14 September at her home in Thuvarankurichi, two days after writing the NEET exam. According to reports, her parents said that she was unhappy with how the exam went.
    While such cases of student suicides has been triggering an outcry over the entrance exam in the state, the passage of the bill means that now all medical admissions in the state will be based on Class 12 marks instead of a common entrance exam.

    But there's still one last hurdle to cross.

    This Bill is effectively challenging a central legislation, so it can't just come into effect without the Presidential assent. But will the DMK be successful in persuading its case? Why does the state government want a permanent exemption from NEET? How does it impact Tamil Nadu's medical aspirants?

    Tune in!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Dr K R Malathi, Educationist
    Prince Gajendra Babu, EducationistEditor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz

    References:
    Explained: Why Did Tamil Nadu Assembly Pass Bill Exempting the State from NEET?
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  • It’s been an interesting weekend in Gujarat for political observers.

    In a surprising twist, BJP leader Bhupendra Patel was named as the new Gujarat Chief Minister just a day after his predecessor Vijay Rupani resigned from the post.

    Patel, who’s a first-time MLA from Gujarat’s Ghatlodiya seat took his oath as the CM in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah on 13 September, while Rupani is a fresh addition to the string of BJP Chief Minister who have resigned over the past few months.

    After tendering in his resignation, Rupani told the media that it is in the nature of the BJP to change the roles of karyakartas depending on the need of the party, but what are the possible needs that triggered such a decision in Gujarat?

    The change of guards that comes a year ahead of the state assembly elections is also raising speculations around why the party high command overlooked Gujarat Deputy CM Nitin Patel and Union Minister for Health Mansukh Mandaviya who were believed to be the frontrunners for the post, only to pick a lesser-known leader like Bhupendra Patel as the CM? What purpose does it serve for the BJP?

    Tune in to The Big Story!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Mahesh Langa, Senior Assistant Editor at The Hindu in GujaratEditor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • September 11 2001. There was so much destruction, loss and despair that even 20 years later, it is hard to comprehend the magnitude of its impact.
    What has been described as the largest military attack ever to hit the United States, everything from books, TV shows, movies, news reports have tried to capture the scale of the tragedy which took place.
    On that horrific day, four commercial flights travelling to California were hijacked by 19 al-Qaeda terrorists. What transpired in the less than an hour was a devastating hit on the symbols of America’s military might, intelligence. political power and its financial centre.
    The attacks resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths, over 25,000 injuries, long term health effects, a global recession, a fundamental shift in US foreign and security policy, and a 20 year forever war in Afghanistan, which set the country in an unfathomable future where now a terrorist organisation is running it.
    On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, we bring you first hand accounts of three people who covered and responded to the attacks.

    Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram

    Guest: Maya Mirchandani, the former senior foreign affairs editor at NDTV, Sudheendra Kulkarni, aide to former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sanjay Pugalia, Editorial Director at The Quint.

    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Three weeks after the Taliban captured Afghanistan, they announced their new acting government who will be running the country, which will be now known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

    However, the announcement also rang alarm bells around the world as the Cabinet was far from “inclusive” and “representative” as the Taliban earlier asserted. With no women in the Cabinet and the presence of only three minorities, the entire Cabinet comprises Taliban leaders and loyalists – some of whom are global terrorists and are listed on the US and UN watch list – and include members of the islamic terrorist mafia the Haqqani network.

    The inclusion of the Haqqani network also indicates that Pakistan played a role in handpicking the Cabinet members since the country has been home to the terror mafia for at least the past four decades and shares close ties with the Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

    In today’s episode, we discuss the portfolios of the new Taliban government, the involvement of Pakistan and how should India, which has engaged with Afghanistan closely for the past two decades, and the world engage with the new regime.

    For this, we spoke with former Indian ambassador to Afghanistan and Secretary [West] of the Ministry of External Affairs, Vivek Katju.


    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Vivek Katju, former Indian ambassador to Afghanistan and Secretary [West] of the Ministry of External AffairsEditor: Shelly Walia
    Also check out:

    The Fall of Panjshir Valley and the Implications it Holds for India


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  • 'One of the three best bowling performances as captain' is how Virat Kohli described India's big win over England at the Oval on 6 September, which was also India's first Test win at the venue in 50 years.

    That victory now also helps Virat and his team go into the fifth and final Test at Manchester with a 2-1 series lead.
    While England had started off the fourth Test on a good note, it was Rohit Sharma's century and then Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur's fifties that helped India get back into the match. They set England a 368-run target and then once Jasprit Bumrah was given the ball in the second session on Day 5, India sailed to a big victory.
    Goes without saying that this match has turned out to be one of the legendary ones for India for several reasons. But in this episode Indian sports writer and journalist Ayaz Memon takes us through the significance of this win for the Indian cricket team, what are the striking aspects with this team that has come up, and what is the likely way ahead? Tune in!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Ayaz Memon, Indian Sports Writer and JournalistEditor: Mendra Dorjey

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • Panjshir Valley of northeastern Afghanistan, the last stronghold of anti-Taliban resistance forces in the country has fallen, according to claims made by the Taliban.

    The valley has historically been the bastion of resistance forces in Afghanistan and has never been captured by any invading force — be it the Soviet Union or the Taliban of the ’90s.

    But with the US forces having completely withdrawn from the region, no international support in sight, and with little to no resistance to the Taliban, the valley fell after days of clashes between the Nationall Resistance Front and Taliban.

    However, the fall of Panjshir may also translate for a setback for India as well, given that Pakistan has been a safe heaven for the Taliban for decades and has always looked at Afghanistan to further their strategic depth towards India.

    In this episode, we will discuss what led to the fall of Panjshir valley to the Taliban, the significance of this takeover and what implications may it hold for India.

    For this, we spoke with former Indian ambassador to Jordan, Libya and Malta, Anil Trigunayat and senior journalist and author David Devadas.


    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Former Indian ambassador to Jordan, Libya and Malta, Anil Trigunayat and senior journalist and author of 'The Story of Kashmir' and 'The Generation of Rage in Kashmir' (OUP, 2018), David Devadas.

    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • With only months to go for the crucial Uttar Pradesh state assembly elections, the ongoing farmers' movement gained a fresh impetus as lakhs of farmers gathered in Western UP's Muzaffarnagar district in a formidable show of strength.

    Seething with anger against the government, they said they are here fighting to “save the nation”.

    The kisan mahapanchayat as it has been termed, was called on 5 September, by the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), an umbrella body of 40 farmer unions that has been spearheading the farmers' protest for the last nine months over the three contentious farm laws passed by the Centre.

    Despite several hundred deaths during the course of the protest, farmers have made it clear that they won't budge until all the three laws are repealed and a legal guarantee is provided for MSP.

    But as the logjam with the government continues, the kisan mahapanchayat comes bearing political implications, as farmer leaders have now also vowed to take on the BJP and oust the Yogi Adityanath government from the state.

    “We have kicked off ‘Mission UP and Uttarakhand’ from this stage. We will not let BJP win the elections," a statement by the SKM read.

    The choice of venue for this mammoth gathering also holds vital importance, as the deadly Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 was seen to be a turning point that helped the BJP make inroads UP and eventually win the 2014 state elections.

    But raising chants of "Har Har Mahadev" and "Allah Hu Akbar" from the podium, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait said that farmers wouldn't be polarised over communal politics, as he pledged to unite farmers of all creeds and oppose the BJP.

    Although Tikait didn't indicate any plans of joining electoral politics, what kind of an impact and what scale of an impact is the farmers' movement likely to make in the UP polls? Will the combination of Jaat and Muslim voters change things for the BJP?

    In this episode you will hear voices of farmers from ground zero. We also spoke to Ranjan Pandey, an independent journalist and co-author of Battleground U.P.: Politics in the Land of Ram. Tune in to The Big Story!

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Rajan Pandey, an independent journalist, Co-author of Battleground U.P.: Politics in the Land of RamEditor: Shelly Walia

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the 92-year-old veteran Hurriyat leader, who guided the separatist movement in Kashmir, passed away late on 1 September at his Srinagar residence.
    Though he tendered his resignation from the Hurriyat Conference almost 15 months ago and has been in house dentition for more than a decade, his death brought a near-total blackout of communication services in the valley, an overnight curfew, and the presence of hundreds of security personnel on the streets of Srinagar.
    A teacher-turned-separatist, Geelani’s political career spanned over six decades, rallying around a single unwavering agenda of merging Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan. Apart from his hardline views, he commanded a large support group, especially among the valley’s youth.
    However, his departure has now left his party the Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, without a captain and with Centre also considering a ban on the Hurriyat faction, the party is left at a crossroads on what lies in their future.
    In today’s podcast, we discuss how Geelani shaped Kashmir politics over the years and what his death means for the future of the Hurriyat.


    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Shakir Mir, Srinagar based freelance journalist.Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • As Punjab nears its election season, the chasm in Congress between Capt Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu is only deepening with both factions once again publicly lambasting each other.

    Barely a month after Sidhu was made Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee Chief in order to broker peace in the leadership tussle within the party, far from yielding a truce, the infighting keeps bubbling over.

    While the Chief Minister criticised Sidhu and his "advisors" over their unsavoury comments on Kashmir and Pakistan, on the other side in the Sidhu faction, twenty-three Punjab Congress MLAs including four state ministers once again expressed the lack of faith in Capt Amarinder Singh's leadership.

    In a bid to douse the rivalry between the party chief and the Chief Minister, Congress' Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat met both the leaders on 31 August.

    While Rawat is said to have spoken to Amarinder Singh about placating the rebels, the message on the state's leadership is that the party high command is not looking to replace the chief minister ahead of the upcoming elections.

    But can a truce be achieved? Where is this political tug of war possibly headed to and what lead to this fresh infighting? Tune in to The Big Story!


    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Aditya Menon, Political Editor, The QuintEditor: Shelly Walia

    Also check out: What’s Behind Growing Dissent Against CM Amarinder in Punjab Cong?

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • After a frantic scramble, the last evacuation flight carrying Americans left from Kabul before the 31 August deadline set by US President Joe Biden. And so, the US’ longest war against terror officially came to an end.

    Hours after a C-17 military aircraft airlifted the last US soldiers, Taliban fighters took charge of the Kabul airport. Shots were fired into the sky, to celebrate their victory and a "free and sovereign" Afghanistan.

    Taliban leaders were seen inspecting the airport, flanked by the elite Badri unit, posing for photographs brandishing US rifles and flying the group's white flag.

    In a press address, General Kenneth McKenzie said while the military evacuation is complete, the diplomatic mission to ensure that additional US citizens and eligible Afghans who want to leave continues.

    But as this new chapter begins for the country, the mood is grim for thousands of common Afghans who fear losing their basic rights and freedom under the Taliban.

    While on one hand, the Taliban has been trying to seek international recognition and presenting a moderation of their views, on the other hand, there have been reportage of the Taliban going back to their old ways.

    In fact, just days after Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that music will be banned in public spaces as it was in the previous regime, a popular folk singer by the name of Fawad Andarabi was dragged out his house and shot by a Taliban fighter.

    Amid this atmosphere of fear, the UN has passed a resolution which requires the Taliban to keep their commitment to allow safe passage for eligible Afghans out of the country, but can international leaders hold the Taliban responsible to their commitments?

    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, Observer Research FoundationEditor: Shelly Walia

    Also check out: How 20 Years of US' "War Against Terror" Started & Ended With Taliban Rule in Afghanistan

    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • The twin suicide attacks in Kabul in the early hours of Friday, 27 August, have been as the deadliest day for US troops in Afghanistan in more than a decade.The bombings claimed the lives of at least 95 Afghan civilians, 13 US troops and injured dozens more.

    The first attack was reported at Abbey Gate, which is one of the entrances to the Kabul airport and the other at Baron Hotel, which has served as a bunker for evacuees, diplomats and civilians before they head to the airport for boarding the evacuation flights.

    The attack was claimed by the ISIL offshoot in Afghanistan, known as ISIS-K which reportedly singled out supporters and affiliates of the US Army. The group has been blamed for some of the worst attacks in the country since its formation in 2015.

    However, ISIS-K is not only a threat to the population of Afghanistan but also to the Taliban, who they have reportedly accused of abandoning principles of Jihad and favouring a peace settlement.

    These bombings in Kabul now pose a series of pressing questions on future of Afghanistan and its repercussions on the Biden administration:

    What precedent do the recent attacks set for Biden? How will the Taliban vs ISIS-K rivalry play out with the US out of the picture, and more importantly , what kind of future is Afghanistan headed towards?

    To answer these questions, for today’s episode, we spoke with Ajay Sahni, the Executive Director at the Institute for Conflict Management and South Asia Terrorism Portal.


    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Ajay Sahni, the Executive Director at the Institute for Conflict Management and South Asia Terrorism Portal.Editor: Shelly Walia
    Also check out:
    How 20 Years of US' "War Against Terror" Started & Ended With Taliban Rule in Afghanistan
    Will the Humanitarian Disaster in Afghanistan Define Biden's Legacy?
    Why Taliban's Pledges for Women's Rights Fail to Inspire Trust Among Afghan WomenHow Will the Taliban Rule Bring a Shift in Geopolitics in South Asia?Exploring the Ground Reality in Afghanistan vs the Taliban's Claims



    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • For much of 2021, we have only heard about prediction of the next wave of COVID-19, about new variants like Delta and Delta Plus, and rising number of cases. But for the first time, we have received news that India may be in the final stages of this pandemic.

    In an interview with The Wire on 25 August, the World Health Organization's top scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said that India could have reached some stage endemicity.

    Essentially, an endemic is defined as a stage in the pandemic when the virus is only present in small areas of the population and the rate of infection within that population is predictable. Some examples of endemic diseases are chicken pox, malaria, and even the common cold.

    In the interview, Dr Swaminathan stated that it is likely that the current stage of COVID cases may continue with a few local surges and COVID may transform as an endemic by the end of 2022.

    However, she pointed out that vaccinations and COVID-appropriate behaviour will be essential components to facilitate this transformation.

    So how close is India to enter the COVID endemic stage and what would that future look like? Will masks no longer be a part of society, will there be no future waves or variants?

    To answer these questions, for today’s episode, we spoke to Gautam Menon, a Professor at the Departments of Physics and Biology at Ashoka University.


    Host and Producer: Himmat ShaligramGuest: Gautam Menon, a Professor at the Departments of Physics and Biology at Ashoka University.Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
    Apple: https://apple.co/2AYdLIlSaavn: http://bit.ly/2oix78CGoogle Podcasts: http://bit.ly/2ntMV7SSpotify: https://spoti.fi/2IyLAUQDeezer: http://bit.ly/2Vrf5NgCastbox: http://bit.ly/2VqZ9ur