Episodes

  • India and China are holding Lieutenant General level talks on 6 June in a bid to de-escalate the tensions between the countries along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh.
    There have been a couple of fistfights, injured soldiers and an ongoing standoff between the Indian Army and People's Liberation Army at 14,000 feet at Galwan Valley in East Ladakh over boundary differences.
    The build up at the border has been triggered by what defence experts say Chinese 'transgression' over the disputed border between the countries, with the PLA pitching tents, bringing troops over in thousands, while on the Indian side, anti-Chinese sentiments have flared up again on social media with a call to go swadeshi and boycott Chinese goods.
    Relations between the two nations have seen its ups and downs since the Sino-Indian war of 1962 but not a single bullet has been fired across the border since 1975.
    Will the current tensions escalate or will diplomacy champion once again? Tune in to The Big Story for more!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Editor: Jaskirat Singh Bawa
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    References: Pandemic or Revenge: What’s Behind China’s LAC Intrusion? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7591587-pandemic-or-revenge-what-s-behind-china-s-lac-intrusion)
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  • The killing of a pregnant wild elephant in Kerala with an explosive laden pineapple has triggered nationwide outrage.
    Cricketers, celebrities, common citizens, wildlife experts are all up in arms against this horrendous act of cruelty and are demanding accountability.
    While the Kerala forest department is investigating into the matter, are we missing the big picture here? Is outrage and handing out punishments for an act of animal cruelty a sustainable solution or just a quick fix? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Dr Nitin Sekar, Lead, Elephant Conservation Programme, WWF India
    Dr P S Eas, Wildlife Expert
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    References:
    "Intentional Act To Kill The Elephant": Kerala's Top Wildlife Officer (https://www.ndtv.com/kerala-news/on-pregnant-elephants-death-kerala-officer-says-most-consider-humans-superior-2240300)
    Kerala elephant death: Officials suspect pregnant pachyderm ate explosives meant to kill boars (https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kerala-elephant-death-probe-on-officials-suggest-pachyderm-ate-explosive-meant-to-kill-boars-6441176/)
    This elephant-obsessed Indian state is finally stepping in to protect abused captive animals (https://qz.com/india/1641301/indias-kerala-state-tweaks-law-to-take-over-abused-elephants/)
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  • Barely two weeks after super cyclone Amphan wrecked the east coast, the West coast of India is witnessing a cyclone formation in June for the first time in a century!
    Cyclone Nisarga made landfall near Alibaug in Maharashtra with a strong wind speed of around 120-140 kmph and is currently causing heavy rainfall in the coastal districts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai and also other neighbouring states. And there's good news and bad news.
    The good news is that Nisarga is much weaker than Amphan was, but the bad news is that it's climate change that has triggered a pre-monsoon tropical cyclone to develop over the Arabian Sea for the first time in a 100 years!
    How exactly have climate change been bringing about an overwhelming number of cyclones in the last decade? What kind of impact is Nisarga making and how prepared is Maharashtra for it?
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    References:
    Hurricane and Tropical Cyclones (https://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/articles/deadliest-tropical-cyclones)
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  • It's been seven continuous days of large scale civil unrest all across USA, over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a White police officer in Minneapolis, in the city of Minnesota.
    "I can't breathe" – the final words that Floyd uttered before his death, as Derek Chauvin the police officer in concern knelt on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds straight – has become a rallying cry for the protestors.
    New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Seattle, Ohio, Colorado — all the major states and cities that were deserted until only a week back because of the coronavirus outbreak have been witnessing large scale violence, arson, face offs between police officers and protestors who are angry about the racially-driven police killings of black Americans.
    As the protest turned to destruction of public property and looting in some place, President Trump put out a controversial tweet warning, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
    So far, at least 4,000 people have been arrested nation-wide, curfews have been imposed in at least 40 cities and National Guard members have been activated in 23 states including Washington, DC as the protests reached an unprecedented level not seen before in decades.
    But why did this incident trigger such massive outrage even at such a critical time as this dangerous pandemic? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Aditya Menon, Political Editor, The Quint
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    References:
    Police excesses for lockdown violation led to 12 deaths: Study (https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/police-excesses-for-lockdown-violation-led-to-12-deaths-study/story-qj5dZ68nxPBc3B0HbSBg3L.html)
    These 4 charts describe police violence in America (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/01/george-floyd-death-police-violence-in-the-us-in-4-charts.html)
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  • After more than two months of lockdown, India has now begun to unlock the restrictions and curbs. As announced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the unlocking will be in three phases.
    Even as India is set to reopen, the number of coronavirus positive cases are ever on a rise. Recently India has risen up to the 7th spot from the 9th on the list of the 10 most affected countries with over 1.90 lakh cases.
    Delhi has over 10,000 active cases, Maharashtra over 36,000, Tamil Nadu over 9,000, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh around 3000 — but given that different states are facing different realities, all states have been empowered to take their own decisions based on their own assessments.
    So what do the MHA guidelines say and how are different states planning to go back to normalcy? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Reporting:
    Ankita Sinha, Mumbai Correspondent, The Quint
    Smitha TK, Chennai Correspondent, The Quint
    Ishadrita Lahiri, Kolkata Correspondent, The Quint
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • From Article 370 to Ram Mandir to the Citizenship Amendment Act, and now a pandemic — the first year of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's second term has been jam packed with big events.
    On 30 May last year, Modi took oath for the second time as India's Prime Minister after the NDA alliance won with a greater majority than 2014, virtually decimating the opposition's mahagathbandhan.
    It's been a long one year since but what does the annual report card look like? What did the government tick off its bucket list, what did it achieve and where did it fail? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Aditya Menon, Political Editor, The Quint
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • A new political map by Nepal has riled up animosity with India. This new map claims regions of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura, which are at the trijunction of India, Nepal and Tibet, to be a part of Nepal's territory. By doing so, Nepal has rejected India’s claim over these territories.
    The issue made a resurgence recently as Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a crucial 80-km-long Link Road to Kailash-Mansarovar in Tibet, connecting the Lipulekh pass along the border with China.
    The Nepal government found that move to be "violating Nepal's sovereignty" and retorted with this new political map.
    What perhaps added more fuel to this fire was Indian Army Chief General M M Naravane commenting that all this was probably at the behest of "someone else" – hinting at China.
    So why has this been a festering issue for so long, and does China really have a role to play in this friction between India and Nepal? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Manoj Kewalramani a Fellow-China Studies at The Takshashila Institution
    Akanksha Shah, Delhi-based Nepali Journalist
    Editor: Jaskirat Singh Bawa
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Also Listen to: Pandemic or Revenge: What’s Behind China’s LAC Intrusion? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7591587-pandemic-or-revenge-what-s-behind-china-s-lac-intrusion)
    References:
    India’s Nepal Outreach Must Step Up Before China Makes Gains (https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/india-nepal-china-road-map-army-chief-kalapani-lipulekh)
    Can India Fight Off China’s ‘Communist Unity’ Agenda in Nepal? (https://www.thequint.com/voices/opinion/china-xi-jinping-communist-ideology-belt-and-road-in-nepal-india-loses-out)
    Nepal Objects to Link Road For Kailash Mansarovar, India Responds (https://www.thequint.com/news/world/nepal-objection-india-inaugurating-link-road-uttarakhand-lipulekh-pass-border-china)
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  • Pandemic, a super cyclone and now locust attacks. India is in an environmental and agrarian quandary.
    Armies of locusts are swarming across Western India in alarming numbers, through farmlands and urban settlements, destroying any patch of green they can find on their way.
    The first swarms of these desert locusts, the most devastating variety to come from the grasshopper family entered India along the India-Pakistan border around April 11, months before their usual time of arrival. And in the last few days they have been spotted in huge numbers in Rajasthan
    They are also active in Gujarat and other states they’ve not been sighted in before like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
    So, what kind of damage can these pests bring, what measures are we taking to control the outbreak? And what kind of environmental changes have triggered this untimely, unusually big swarm of locusts to attack India? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Manoj Ahirwar, Agricultural scientist at the Krishi Vigyaan Kendra in Madhya Pradesh
    Dr Roxy Matthew Koll, Climate scientist 
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    References:
    Locust Watch (http://www.fao.org/ag/locusts/en/info/info/faq/index.html)
    Locust swarm: UN warns of food crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-51501832)
    A new concern: early locusts (https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-locust-agriculture-crops-india-lockdown-6400755/)
    India’s Worst Locust Attack in 26 Yrs: What Does This Threat Mean? (https://www.thequint.com/news/environment/locusts-attack-india-what-it-means-explained)
    India’s Second Plague: Locusts (https://thediplomat.com/2020/05/indias-second-plague-locusts/)
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Chinese incursion into the LAC in Ladakh has flared up tensions in multiple locations in the disputed Indo-China border.
    Chinese soldiers, numbered by some at 5,000, reportedly intruded into Indian territory with heavy equipments and bunker material, they have also pitched tents around the Galwan Valley in East Ladakh which was previously a point of standoff during the 1962 war with China.
    The Indian army in its turn is reportedly matching up to the Chinese buildup with its own deployment and aggressive patrolling and is currently engaged in a standoff at four locations along the LAC.
    But what could have triggered these sudden tensions? How is India responding? And how is the government managing the diplomatic channels? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
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    Ajai Shukla, Journalist and Former Officer in the Indian Army
    Editor: Jaskirat Singh Bawa
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • After 61 days of being grounded by the nationwide lockdown, domestic flights across India finally took off today. Well, not all all flights as nearly a hundred were cancelled across airports in India.
     
    On 17 May all domestic air travel lay suspended when guidelines for the fourth phase of the lockdown were announced. However, just four days later, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri announced that one-third of domestic flights would be started in a calibrated manner.
     
    While airports limped back to life on Monday, passengers, cab operators and airport staff also had to ensure that the long list of 15 safety protocols including masks, gloves, sanitisers, thermal checking and social distancing had to be adhered to.
    Producer and Host: Sushovan Sircar
    Reporting: Asmita Nandy
    Editor: Shelly Walia
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  • In a big development, Indian airlines are opening up their businesses in a calibrated manner with 30 percent capacity from 25 March.
    It's been two months since the airline industry shut shop due to this pandemic outbreak, and the fate of millions of employees has been at risk because of the massive drop in travel demands.
    The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimated that the industry could be facing a revenue loss of at least $11.2 billions and a 47 percent drop of travel demands, that would also put roughly 2.9 million jobs in jeopardy.
    Will this move be able to resuscitate the airline sector? What are the new reservations in place and what kind of fares can we be expecting? Tunes in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Jitender Bhargava, Former Executive Director of Air India
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • It was a long night for those living in the coastal areas of Odisha, West Bengal and Bangladesh, as what is being said to be one of the worst storms in decades, left a trail of destruction in the east coast.
    In Odisha the damage is limited to mostly agricultural lands but two people including an infant have also been reported dead.
    However, West Bengal clearly took the bigger hit in this cyclone. There's an ongoing power cut, phone lines are still down, drinking water is scare and at least 72 people have died in the state from cyclone Amphan.
    The Bay of Bengal has triggered many a few deadly cyclones in the past that have battered the east coast, but Cyclone Amphan is only the second "super cyclone" with wind speeds crossing 220 kmph, since 1999. It's being said that the damage from Amphan has been far worse from the cyclone that Bengal and Odisha have witnessed in the previous years. Tune in to The Big Story for more!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Saif Hasnat, Dhaka-based Reporter
    Ishadrita Lahiri, Kolkata Correspodent, The Quint
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Also Listen to: Cyclone Amphan & COVID-19: Odisha, WB Prepared for Double Danger? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7586165-cyclone-amphan-covid-19-odisha-wb-prepared-for-double-danger)
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Five sets of announcements over seven hours on legal and economic reforms, fiscal and liquidity measures summed up the government's 20 lakh crores worth relief package last week.
    The package have already been dissected, analysed and critically evaluated by experts and analysts but recently Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman too has given an insight into what led to these economic decisions.
    Was the package indeed 10 percent of India's GDP or far less? Shouldn't the government have introduced more direct cash transfers for immediate relief? Was the relief allocation sufficient?
    In interviews to news publications like The Indian Express (https://indianexpress.com/article/india/nirmala-sitharaman-interview-economic-package-msme-sector-migrant-workers-coronaviryus-lockdown-indian-economy-6418250/) and Business Standard, (https://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/i-ve-to-be-careful-am-answerable-to-parliament-fm-nirmala-sitharaman-120052000084_1.html) Sitharaman has addressed some of the criticisms and questions about her relief package. So what was the government's mindset behind these announcements, is there anything else in the books? Tune in to The Big Story.
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Anjela Taneja, Campaign Lead Inequality, Education and Health at Oxfam India
    Aditya Menon, Political Editor, The Quint
    Editor: Shelly Walia
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  • West Bengal, Odisha, as well as some coastal areas of Bangladesh are on high alert as Super Cyclone Amphan moves across the Bay of Bengal.
    It's the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal since the 1999 Odisha cyclone which had killed 9,000 people.
    Preparing for a super cyclone in a pandemic which requires physical distancing can't be easy and yet the east coast is bracing for a big storm. So what kind of measures are being taken to face this super cyclone? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Biswajit Pattnaik, Reporter, Kanak News
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • Shops will be open, inter-state movement will be allowed, private offices will be operational — the fourth phase of the lockdown or lockdown 4.0 has begun and as promised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it’s going to be different from the previous phases.
    While the Ministry of Home Affairs has released a new list of dos and don'ts for the next two weeks, states are likely to add their own restrictions and relaxations unique to their situation.
    The big change in lockdown 4.0 is that states will be allowed a fair amount of autonomy in deciding the zones. So far, the MHA has been categorizing the zones and that has been a cause of great distress for the cash-strapped states which are looking for ways to restart the economy.
    In the last meeting between the PM and the states, Chief Ministers of some states like Punjab, Kerala, Delhi, Tamil Nadu  had stressed on how states should have some flexibility in micro-planning after factoring in the local issues.
    Keeping within the parameters of the MHA guidelines, states can now define what constitutes a red zone now.
    So what are the new rules in lockdown 4.0? Tune in for The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Also Listen to: Aarogya Setu App Row: Health Surveillance or State Surveillance? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7575600-aarogya-setu-app-row-health-surveillance-or-state-surveillance)
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  • Stay home, stay safe.
    The irony of this philosophy to beat the COVID-19 pandemic isn't lost on domestic abuse survivors the world over, because for them, staying home is hardly staying safe.
    Last month, the United Nations Women said, and I quote, "As more countries report infection and lockdown, more domestic violence helplines across the world are reporting rising calls for help. It’s a perfect storm for controlling, violent behaviour behind closed doors, as confinement is fostering the tension and strain created by security, health, and money worries. End quote.
    In our home turf, with people's movements being strictly restricted for the last 50 days, helplines numbers are buzzing with reports of mental and physical abuse accentuated by confined living conditions.
    Between March 23 and April 16, there were 587 distress calls made to the National Commission for Women. This is just the first 24 days of lockdown. According to its Chairman Rekha Sharma, domestic violence cases in India have shot up by almost 50 percent overall during the lockdown. Like the NCW, all NGOs working on women's safety have also reported a spike.
    Where is India going wrong as country? Does the lockdown lack a gendered approach in tackling what the UN Women termed as a shadow pandemic? And are these helpline numbers enough to address the issue of domestic violence?
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Bharti Sharma, Honorary Secretary for Shakti Shalini
    Yogendra Yadav, Founder of Swaraj Abhiyan
    Ambika Tandon, Senior Policy Officer, Centre for Internet and Society(CIS)
    Mira Swaminathan, Policy Officer, CIS
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
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  • The lockdown may have cleared the traffic from India's roads, but not road accidents.
    A survey conducted by SaveLIFE Foundation which is an NGO that works on road safety found out that in the first five weeks of the lockdown between 24 March to 4 May, around 140 lives were lost due to road crashes across the country.
    A 100 of these deaths were recorded in across 9 states alone. These are Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Punjab and Tamil Nadu. Punjab topped the chart with the highest number of death 42 to be specific, followed by Kerala and Delhi.
    Even as the nation is under a lockdown, why are there considerable incidences of road accidents? What makes our roads so accident prone? Is it negligent drivers or badly engineered roads? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Piyush Tewari, CEO and Founder of SaveLIFE Foundation
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • A fiscal package worth Rs 20 lakh crore – equivalent to 10% of India's GDP – comes from the government, after close to two months of a COVID-19 lockdown. Prime Minister Narendra Modi made this announcement as he brought home a new aspiration – Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, in other words, a self-reliant India.
    A day after Modi's address, on 13 May, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave us a brief insight into what the economic package would entail. What does this package mean for businesses and citizens? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Mayank Mishra, Senior Journalist
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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  • After nearly two months of a total shutdown, the Indian Railways opened up its services again on 12 May with limited offers.
    Fifteen passenger trains have begun running between New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Chennai and also go via Dibrugarh, Agartala, Howrah, Patna, Bilaspur, Ranchi, Bhubaneswar, Secunderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Madgaon,  Ahmedabad, and Jammu.
    Even as it brought some relief to the stranded citizens, the re-opening didn't go without hiccups. Indian Railways wasn't nearly braced for the number of passengers who are desperate to go back home. As the bookings opened up on the IRCTC website, approximately 30,000 tickets got booked within 3 hours and the website crashed eventually from a huge surge in user traffic.
    But how was day one of the opening like? How did passengers manage a ticket for themselves? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests:
    Zijah Sherwani, Sr Producer, The Quint
    Vrinda Bhandari, Supreme Court advocate, of-counsel for the Internet Freedom Foundation
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Also Listen to: Aarogya Setu App Row: Health Surveillance or State Surveillance? (https://audioboom.com/posts/7575600-aarogya-setu-app-row-health-surveillance-or-state-surveillance)
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  • ELISA anti-body testing is the newest addition to the COVID-19 testing kits in India. They've been used to test other infections previously but it's the first time that India has developed its very own indigenous version of these tests as we deal with the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
    The National Institute of Virology (NIV) which is in Pune developed this test over the last month as India cancelled orders of about half a million faulty COVID-19 rapid antibody test kits from China.
    So, how are ELISA tests different from RT-PCR and Rapid Antibody tests? And what do we know about these made in India kits so far? Tune in to The Big Story!
    Producer and Host: Shorbori Purkayastha
    Guests: Shahid Jameel, Virologist
    Editor: Shelly Walia
    Music: Big Bang Fuzz
    Listen to The Big Story podcast on:
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