Change is a loaded word. It signifies a break from the present, even from the past, and throws out a spark in a new direction, not always for the better. It’s a word sloganeers go to bed with. Catch phrases like “Be the change”, “Change the world” and its other permutations occurs with great regularity around the world. It’s a theme on which our politicians have spun various myths in the past month—with four states going to vote, perhaps they didn’t have a choice.

Change is also the theme that our March issue deals with. We bring you two sides of change, one of the more questionable kind, and the other, a powerful tale of self-transformation, the kind the world needs to see more of.

In our essay “The lost world”, writer Ranmal Singh Jhala speaks about the environmental degradation of the Aravallis, one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges that predate the Himalayas by more than a billion years. The Aravalli range that snakes from Gujarat to Delhi has been reduced to a mere shadow of its once majestic and green past. Lakes have shrunk, mountains blasted for marble, industrial pollution has killed natural aquifers (people went angling and swam at the Okhla barrage in the 1960s), and the golf courses of Gurgaon are an environmental disaster.

Our cover story “Stepping across the threshold” is the story of a couple, a woman who is HIV-positive, and who left Mumbai’s Kamathipura after 11 years to make a home with the man she loved. Zarina and Parvez Khan, now married for nine years, share their story with photojournalist Sudharak Olwe who has documented their life for about a decade now. The photos, from Zarina’s last day at the brothel to those of her wedding and finally, domestic life, are a reminder of the power of courage and love.

We continue our coverage of the UP Assembly elections and bring you the story of the election through the eyes of party workers. Career political workers from the BJP, BSP, SP and the Congress give their own take on the polls as Phulpur (from where Jawaharlal Nehru fought three parliamentary elections) goes to vote. Their concerns are more practical and their experience of political change firsthand, and often at odds with the rhetoric of parachuted leaders.

Don’t miss our travel essay on the sluice gates of Goa, a traditional system to control the flow of water in the estuarine belts of the Zuari and Mandovi rivers.

We interview writer Rahul Bhattarcharya, whose book The Sly Company of People Who Care has been shortlisted for the Man Asian Literary Prize, to be announced on March 15.

Saurav Kumar, Editor

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