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COVER STORY

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29-07-2022

Maha Circus (July 29, 2022)

Editor’s Note: That a State government, which was functional, moderate, and reasonably competent despite riding an unlikely coalition, was brought down in an act of vengeance bodes ill for Indian democracy and the federal structure central to it. While the Congress during its own hegemony was infamous for imperiously dismissing State governments by misusing Article 356, the BJP which came to power claiming to cleanse the system has instead only shown that it plays the game better. Its “one nation” theory is proving to be not so much about the nation as about its overweening ambition to become the only ruling party in the country. The agenda has morphed, as Venkitesh Ramakrishnan writes in this issue, from creating a “Congress-mukt India” to an “opposition-mukt India”. But for the party to stay in power in perpetuity, it also needs to silence all dissenting voices. Anupama Katakam reports on the witch-hunt that has been launched against Mohammed Zubair of Alt News, the fact-finding website that regularly busts fake news. She also traces the disturbing arrests of Teesta Setalvad, Sanjiv Bhatt, and R.B. Sreekumar after the Supreme Court called them out in the Ehsan Jafri 2002 Gujarat riots case. Covering the Maharashtra crisis for us, Lyla Bavadam writes that in the 62 years of its existence, the State has never seen such political anarchy before. If one reads the tea leaves right, the chaos is likely to play out repeatedly in the coming years as the BJP tries to surmount the stubborn south. Yes, the circus is coming to town. Keep reading, as we continue to bring you stories from the big top. Vaishna Roy

Briefing

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Gulberg Society case: A verdict & three arrests

India
Setalvad, Sreekumar and Bhatt fought for justice for the victims of the 2002 Gujarat riots.
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BJP’s toppling game in Maharashtra a sign of things to come?

Politics
‘Operation Lotus’ will extend to Jharkhand next, say experts, followed by the southern States. 
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Assam floods: When the river runs high

India
After 2004, this year was the worst by all accounts.
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Goods and Services Tax: Faulty by design

Economy
Never was so much promised to so many in the name of a tax.
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Readers write

Letters
Letters to the Editor.
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Where are Bengaluru’s lakes?

Environment
Bengaluru has lost most of them to urbanisation and pollution. And to the politics of encroachment.
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The way of all flesh

Books
This novel remarkably conflates sexuality and spirituality in a strait-laced Brahmin society of the Thanjavur of yore.
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Hong Kong: The city still packs a punch

World Affairs
In truth, Hong Kong has not had much to celebrate.
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A rarefied self-search

Books
An intimate record of the heart of a vibrant writer-artist that will serve as an inspiration to other writers and artists.
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What explains India’s record number of passports since 2014?

Data Stories
The record number of passports issued shows the growing interest among Indians in going overseas.
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The Great Indian Family is in transition

Columns
The family in pop culture is morphing into an unsteady and fragile site of introspection.
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Uddhav Thackeray: Too moderate to survive

Politics
He is a reluctant politician and possibly a weak one. But he made the Shiv Sena a respectable party.
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Droupadi’s moment: Can the presidential candidate push the envelope?

Columns
Droupadi Murmu’s nomination has been audacious and imaginative. Will she grasp its possibilities?
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US a step closer to getting Julian Assange?

World Affairs
The possible extradition and trial in the US of Assange would strike a blow against press freedom.
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The West sticks to rhetoric against Russia-China amid flurry of summits

World Affairs
But there are fears that increased sanctions will hurt Europe.
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Jency Jacob: ‘It’s a dangerous time to be a ground reporter today’

India
Interview with Jency Jacob, fact checker and managing editor of BOOM.
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FLQ - The Frontline Quiz

Other
All things archaeological.
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Silchar submerged: How illegal cutting of embankment led to floods

India
The illegal cutting of an embankment on the Barak river resulted in a month-long flood.
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The Supreme Court’s voice

India
With the Supreme Court’s latest ruling, it appears it is curtains down on every major riot case.
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Game of thrones: Maharashtra witnesses political upheaval like never before

Politics
The BJP engineered the Shiv Sena’s split and achieved what it had set out to do in 2019. 
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Expert Explains: Why exceptions to the anti-defection law must go

Politics
In the light of the Maharashtra situation, the anti-defection law clearly needs strengthening.
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Zubair’s arrest is part of a pattern

India
The witch-hunt involves stacking of FIRs against those who dare to question the powers that be.
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Why the fall of the rupee should have us all worried

Columns
The factors causing it are likely to persist even as the import bill continues to climb. 
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‘Shiv Sena is unlikely to fade into oblivion’

Politics
Says Kumar Ketkar, veteran Marathi journalist and Rajya Sabha member.
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Why is drug abuse in Kashmir skyrocketing among the youth?

Social Issues
They see it as an escape from the uncertainty and trauma of living in a conflict region.
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Pilgrimage to Pandharpur: The pit stop at Chinchani

Columns
A rural art installation emerges as a critique of nationalism with its embracing of pluralism.
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Tola defeats the tiger

Books
In Spirit Nights, Easterine Kire transports us to the Nagaland of legends and lores, as well as to the real Nagaland.
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Peter Brook (1927-2022): The creator of illusions

Obituary
Brook created a repertory theatre that was consistent only in being defiant of the existing norms.
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‘There was no expectation of reward’

Books
In conversation with Shanta Gokhale, one of the winners of the Sahitya Akademi Award for Translation 2021.
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How African cheetahs trumped Asiatic lions in India’s conservation debate

Environment
How politics has allowed African cheetahs to trump Asiatic lions in India’s conservation discourse.