There are faraway lands in this country, cut off not just geographically but from our imaginations too. Most of them are in border areas, of great importance both strategically and politically. Many of them, like the far flung areas of the northeast, some places along the Brahmaputra, and Kashmir are theatres of conflict, making the news every now and then with a security-related issue. Other places like the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep don’t evoke anything more than the sun and sand imagery of the tourist brochures.
There is more to both these places, of course. Our story in May last year (“In a world of their own”) showed what a heavily-administered and controlled place Lakshadweep is. Alia Allana’s cover story “Sea of danger” on large-scale marine poaching in Andaman lifts the veil off the pristine image of the place. The islands, India’s pivot for its Act East policy and maritime diplomacy, are also a hub for illegal deep sea trawling by Thai fishermen, and poaching of protected marine life by citizens of Bangladesh and Myanmar. The islands house more than 600 Myanmar nationals in its jail, the highest number of foreign prisoners in India. Many are repeat offenders, and investigators have found that some successfully formed links with locals. Crime in India’s exclusive economic zone is rampant, and a couple of incidents have even raised national security questions, according to official memos.
What killed off the dinosaurs is a question that has divided scientists across disciplines for a long time. According to the more popular theory a giant meteor crashed to earth 66 million years ago and the resultant apocalypse wiped off most living species. However, recent, more exhaustive and credible research, particularly in the Rajahmundry quarries, shows that Deccan Volcanism, especially phase II 66 million years ago was responsible for wiping out 80 per cent of species. G B S N P Varma documents the work of Gerta Keller—one of the chief architects of the Deccan Volcanism study—and her team as also the hostility they faced from the scientific community in dislodging the impact theory with their research.
Don’t miss Malayalam writer Benyamin’s interview and his honest views on his craft and audience, and how he feels it is the duty of the writer to present unpleasant truths to the powers that rule us.
Saurav Kumar, Editor