December 10, 2021
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State of Affairs

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Good morning. We’ve turned Kubrick on his head. His seminal work, 2001: A Space Odyssey, heavily features a mysterious black monolith that is supposed to help humans evolve. The scientists over at the University of Tasmania, Australia, are working on exactly the inverse of that.

The Earth’s Black Box project is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a big black box made of “three-inch-thick steel fitted by granite”, so as to make it “indestructible” for future civilisations to find. What will it do? Just sit and listen. Listen to humanity waste away due to our inaction towards climate change. It will hold unbiased recordings of our mistakes so that the future, if any, doesn’t do the same.


The Call For ‘Greater Tipraland’ – Is It Justified?

Across the world, indigenous communities and tribes have struggled to gain mainstream acceptance and relevance as the world moves forward. It is estimated that there are between 370-500 million indigenous people worldwide. They are culturally distinct and often have ancestral ties to the lands and natural resources where they live. It is essential for their livelihoods and survival. They have customs and languages distinct from the mainstream. 

In some instances, they wish to have their own identity in terms of a separately governed state, language, etc. They often lack formal recognition of their lands and resources. They are often last in line when it comes to receiving public investment. In India, one such movement has propped up – the demand for ‘Greater Tipraland’ by several tribes in Tripura. They want a separate state for indigenous communities in the region.


During the British colonial era, the region remained isolated until independence in 1947. In keeping with parliamentary democracy, the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution provided special provisions and status for tribes. It conferred autonomy and the right to self-governance to indigenous people. Over the decades, the region and its people have struggled with self-determination. There have been several armed conflicts and ethno-nationalist movements.

The Sixth schedule allows for the formation of autonomous districts and regional councils. Except for Tripura, every state in the region has a couple of these councils. Their members are elected from the local tribal population, and a few are nominated by the governors. Even in terms of environmental governance, such as preserving the biodiversity and natural resources of the region, tribes play a role, as Abhishek Chakravarty, assistant professor of law at Sai University, specialising in environmental law, wrote.

On November 30 and December 1, several tribal outfits staged a dharna at Jantar Mantar to demand a ‘Greater Tipraland.’ Among the parties involved in this cause are the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance and Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT). One interesting point on these two groups is that they were once political rivals. They want the government to carve out a separate state under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution.

Changing demographics threaten tribal livelihoods

There is anxiety among the tribal and indigenous communities that changing demographics will further reduce their population. In 1881, 63.77% of the population were tribals. It declined to 31.8% in 2011. 

The calls for Greater Tipraland state that it should be done in a democratic manner. The aim is also not restrictive as it goes beyond the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) area. The IPFT’s failure in this effort spurred the call for others to come to the cause. One of those fighting for this is former state Congress president Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma. 

As part of this, in 2019, he floated the Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) for the welfare of indigenous people in the state. During campaigning in Tripura earlier this year, he said the call for Greater Tipraland is not against any community but for the welfare of tribals in the region. He spoke about why the movement is important for the people of the state and region.

The main aim is to have a separate state. This would enable a powerful council to be established for the socio-economic development of indigenous tribals residing in the northeastern states. It would help resolve some of the basic problems permanently. He is not alone in this endeavour. The movement has support from the Shiv Sena, Congress, and the AAP.

Ambiguous demands and a better alternative

Some ruling and opposition parties like the BJP and CPI(M) oppose the call for Greater Tipraland. BJP MP and prominent tribal leader Rebati Tripura said the demand from TIPRA Mohta was ambiguous and wanted a transparent explanation. One point of contention that he had was the geographical boundary of the proposed Greater Tipraland. 

In June, when the Greater Tipraland resolution was adopted by the TTAADC, Tripura State Congress President Pijush Kanti Biswas said the demand was not practical. Jitendra Chaudhury, a veteran tribal leader and the national coordinator of CPM-backed Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, said the concept of a Greater Tipraland wasn’t well thought out. He cited comments made before the April 6 elections about it being for a separate state. He then mentioned later ones made by TIPRA Motha leaders, saying it is for socio-economic development.   

The CPI(M) said the demand for Greater Tipraland was irrelevant and could cause law and order issues in the state and with neighbouring ones. CPI(M) state Secretary Gautam Das said the demand was only about a map that covers Tripura and some areas of Assam, Mizoram, and Bangladesh.

In the map of the District Council, the tribal areas have a large portion of the landmass. However, the centres of economic activities are outside of these areas. They lie in the urban areas. Medical colleges and other important educational institutions are outside the TTAADC. If a separate state is created, it would be incapable of functioning as a federal state. The IPFT’s electoral performance has improved in the recent past. A more practical option would be winning Council elections. Capturing power in the Assembly would help get indigenous tribes and communities more power and rights.


For the Right:

PM Modi Must Realise That A Dyarchy Is As Big A Threat To Democracy As Dynastic Politics

For the Left:

Don’t Ignore Context Of NFHS Data


Anti-lynching bill (Jharkhand) – After West Bengal and Rajasthan, Jharkhand might follow suit on anti-lynching legislation. The tribal state has been recording a noticeable rise in the number of lynchings taking place. And to deter the same, there have been talks of an anti-lynching bill that “proposes capital punishment for those lynching individuals”. The bill would even call for the imprisonment of those participating in a lynch mob. This bill is expected to be brought up in the upcoming session of the Jharkhand Assembly.

Education isn’t a commodity (Tripura) – Back in October, the state government had decided to “hand over government schools to the private sector due to low presence of students”. This threat of privatisation has been criticised by a number of groups, especially students’ unions. So, on Wednesday, the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and the Tribal Students Union (TSU) organised a demonstration to protest this controversial move. SFI Secretary Sandeep Biswas said that this change is “anti-student” and that it will turn education “into an expensive commodity”.

Kashmir’s vegetable village (Jammu & Kashmir) – Wanigund village, in the south of Kashmir, has become a source of pride for the region. Located about 55 km from Srinagar, the village cultivates vegetables all throughout the year. This has not just been a steady source of income for the 250 households living in it but has also accepted the unemployed educated youth in open arms. According to an elderly resident of the village, they have been cultivating veggies since the 1970s and are not planning to stop any time soon.

History at the Statue of Unity (Gujarat) – Looking at how big of a tourist site the Statue of Unity is, the government is planning to add a museum that chronicles the history of the state to it. Requested by the PM himself, this museum would be dedicated to the state and will track its “development journey”. Reportedly, “the vision of this museum is to showcase the constant growth of the state and the contributing factors towards it.”

Go Gutka Gone (Andhra Pradesh) – Earlier this week, the state government banned the “manufacture, storage, distribution, transportation and the sale of Gutka or Pan Masala”. Invoking the provisions of the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006, any “chewing tobacco” product stands banned for at least a year in the state. This ban is supposed to end on December 7, 2022, but for now, steer clear of what’s generally bad for you.


76% – According to the World Inequality Report 2022, 76% of the world’s wealth is hoarded by the top 10% of the population. It also pointed out that India is one the most unequal “in terms of wealth and income distribution.” Turns out, 50% of our population has “next to no wealth” while the richest 10% accounts for about 57% of India’s national income.