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Gurvinder Singh

Kolkata, India
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About Gurvinder
Gurvinder Singh is a journalist and fixer based in Kolkata, West Bengal, India. I have worked as a fixer for CNN International, Daily mail and other publications who need my services. 

As a journalist, I am able to help International correspondents and production houses in a better way as I have connects to the ground.
Languages
English
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Feature Stories Corporate Content Research
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Travel
Portfolio

Archaeologists Discover Jain Idols in Southern India

06 Jun 2024  |  www.archaeology.org
During the construction of a new drain in Varuna, near Mysuru in southern India, archaeologists discovered three Jain idols. These idols, found just three feet below the surface, include two male tirthankaras and one female goddess Kushmanda Devi. The region was a Jainism center from the ninth to thirteenth century A.D. before Vaishnavism began to dominate. Retired archaeologist N. S. Rangaraju from the University of Mysuru suggests that the idols, which were found damaged, might have been destroyed by Vaishnava rulers.

How we used old plastic bottles to build a whole street of homes for under £7,000

04 Apr 2024  |  inews.co.uk
Namita Kapale and Kalyani Bharmbe, two 23-year-old fine arts graduates from Maharashtra, India, built an eco-friendly street using 16,000 non-recyclable plastic bottles amidst the COVID-19 lockdown. The project, which cost less than £7,000, resulted in the construction of six huts and two round huts, leased to a restaurant owner. The buildings, which are environmentally friendly and cheaper than traditional houses, require low maintenance and can last for up to 10 years. The initiative aims to raise awareness about sustainable housing. The United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health reported that the world generated around 600 billion plastic bottles in 2021, with most not being recycled.

India says new law saves persecuted refugees. Rohingya ask ‘Why not us?’

27 Mar 2024  |  www.aljazeera.com
Rohingya refugees in India are facing the threat of deportation, with the government of Manipur initiating the process, which was halted after Myanmar refused cooperation. The Indian government's Citizenship Amendment Act, which grants citizenship to persecuted minorities from neighboring countries, excludes Muslims, including the Rohingya. Critics accuse the government of double standards, especially as the general election approaches. The Supreme Court of India has been involved in a plea against the deportation, and activists are concerned for the safety of the Rohingya amid Myanmar's civil war. Additionally, Rohingya activists have filed a petition against Facebook for allowing hate campaigns against their community.

Night-watchman supports Odisha’s Adivasi archers’ Olympic dreams

14 Feb 2024  |  www.villagesquare.in
Mitrabhanu Mohapatra, a night-watchman and archery coach in Jujumura, Odisha, has dedicated over two decades to training Adivasi archers, fostering champions like Arnab Kumar Dehuri and Anwesha Dehuri. With minimal resources and despite skepticism, Mohapatra has invested his earnings and crowdfunded to provide equipment for his students. His efforts have been recognized by the district administration and the Odisha Archery Association, but he still dreams of establishing a full-fledged archery academy. His students, inspired by his commitment, aim to become successful Olympic archers.

The Indian ‘lost tribe’ that wants to move to Israel, even ‘fight Hamas’

30 Jan 2024  |  www.aljazeera.com
Members of the Bnei Menashe community in India's Manipur and Mizoram states, who believe they are descendants of one of the biblical lost tribes of Israel, express a strong desire to migrate to Israel. They seek to connect with their ancestral roots and improve their economic conditions. Despite delays in the aliyah process, many remain hopeful and committed to their goal. The Israeli government is working on plans to facilitate their immigration, while some community members face challenges due to ongoing ethnic conflicts in their regions.

In India’s Ayodhya, the Ram temple means ‘land is costlier than gold’

21 Jan 2024  |  www.aljazeera.com
The construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, India, has led to a significant surge in land prices, with many farmers and landholders adopting a wait-and-watch approach to selling their land. The Supreme Court's 2019 verdict favoring the temple's construction has spurred a real estate boom, attracting investments from entrepreneurs and real estate majors. The state government is developing a new township, Navya Ayodhya, to accommodate the anticipated influx of tourists and pilgrims. However, the rapid increase in land prices has also led to allegations of encroachment by the Muslim community, with complaints of inaction from authorities.

Ethnic conflict in India’s Manipur has ‘completely ruined’ businesses

09 Jan 2024  |  www.aljazeera.com
The ethnic conflict in Manipur, India, has severely disrupted businesses, with significant economic losses and operational challenges for both small and large enterprises. The violence, which began in early May, has led to curfews, shutdowns, and a drastic drop in sales for vendors like Helena Kshetri. The conflict has resulted in about 180 deaths, widespread destruction, and displacement of thousands. Retail inflation has surged, and the internet shutdown has further impacted businesses. Key figures like Haorokcham Anil and Thangjam Joy Kumar Singh highlight the unprecedented nature of the crisis, with businesses operating at reduced capacities and significant layoffs. The tourism sector has also been hit hard, with a sharp decline in visitors. The government faces challenges in assessing the economic damage due to the ongoing volatility.

Joining forces to transform a Gujarat village

27 Dec 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Dang district in Gujarat, known for its underdevelopment, witnessed a significant transformation in Mahalpada village through community efforts and support from Aga Khan Rural Support Programme – India (AKRSP-I). The village, which previously suffered from poor infrastructure and low human development, saw improvements in water management with repaired check dams and an earthen bund, leading to better water availability and multiple cropping seasons. Social and educational developments followed, with the construction of toilets, formation of self-help groups, and increased school attendance. The changes reduced the need for migration and instilled a sense of hope and dignity among the villagers.

Kashmir’s walnut harvesters are in danger

16 Nov 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Kashmir's walnut farms, which sustain numerous families, face a tragic reality as the joy of harvesting is marred by accidents due to outdated harvesting methods, lack of protective gear, and limited safety awareness. Over three years, more than thirty lives have been lost, and hundreds injured. A climber and rescuer from Kerala is now working to train and empower the farmers for a safer harvest.

This transwoman empowers children through education

15 Nov 2023  |  Village Square
Smiley Thabu, a Muslim transwoman from Neelankarai village in Tamil Nadu, overcame bullying and abuse to become an advocate for education among marginalized communities. Despite facing challenges in her school years and workplace, Thabu's mother's belief in education as a tool against oppression inspired her to provide tuition and empowerment programs for children, especially from LGBTQIA+ backgrounds. She founded an organization, Siragugalai Tharugirom Parandhu Sellungal, offering skilling programs and self-defense training. Thabu's journey includes working in a call center, facing harassment, and eventually being replaced after gender affirmation surgery. Her PhD in business administration and supportive family highlight her resilience and commitment to social change.

City student’s eye-opening account of village trip

07 Nov 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
The article recounts a day-long rural immersion program organized by Birla Institute of Management Technology (BIMTECH) in partnership with Village Square, where 320 students visited villages near Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh. The visit highlighted the challenges faced by villagers, including sanitation, water supply, and economic difficulties. The transformative role of self-help groups (SHGs) for women and the enthusiasm of local school children despite limited resources were also noted. The experience fostered a sense of shared responsibility among the students to contribute to rural development.

How ‘Lady Tarzan’ saved the forests

04 Nov 2023  |  inews.co.uk
Jamuna Tudu, known as 'Lady Tarzan', has been instrumental in combating illegal logging and deforestation in Jharkhand, India. Despite facing a violent attack, she has successfully regenerated about 50 hectares of forest and mobilized a 10,000-woman association to protect the environment. Her efforts have been recognized with the Padma Shri award in 2019. Tudu's environmental activism began after noticing the devastation caused by the timber mafia near her home and has since expanded to include neighboring villages.

Jharkhand’s McCluskieganj struggles to stay alive

31 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
McCluskieganj, a hill town in Jharkhand known as 'Mini-England,' faces a decline as the once-thriving Anglo-Indian community dwindles. Key issues include the lack of educational and medical facilities, illegal harvesting of medicinal plants, reduced train services, and environmental degradation due to illegal brick kilns. Efforts to revitalize the town include the establishment of Don Bosco Academy and government plans to transform it into a tourist destination. Local residents and activists continue to voice concerns over inadequate healthcare and environmental damage.

A rural woman’s ‘toy story’ towards success

26 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Indra, a rural woman from Sadhuwali in Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, transformed from a life of poverty to a successful entrepreneur by making soft toys. With no formal education and married at 13, Indra's journey began with a handicraft training program she stumbled upon. Her entrepreneurial spirit, fueled by further training and opportunities to supply toys for a government project, led her to earn Rs 30,000 per month and employ 12 women. The article highlights the role of self-help groups, the power of convergence in governance, and the impact of strong female role models. Indra's story is a testament to the potential of rural women when given the chance to learn and grow.

Nutmeg spices up income of Tamil Nadu coconut farmers

18 Oct 2023  |  Village Square
In Pollachi, Tamil Nadu, farmers have significantly increased their income by cultivating nutmeg as an intercrop with coconut trees. The region's geographical advantage has led to a higher density and superior quality of nutmeg seeds. The formation of a Farmer Producer Organisation (FPO) has empowered over 80 cultivators to collectively market their produce, resulting in better pricing and profits. The FPO's success has attracted interest from even Kerala's cultivators, and the future looks promising for Pollachi's nutmeg farmers.

Why is Jharkhand’s Paitkar scroll art losing colour?

18 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In the village of Amadubi, Jharkhand, the traditional Paitkar scroll art is facing extinction due to lack of government support and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Artisans like Anil Chitrakar and Kamal Chitrakar have abandoned their craft for menial jobs due to economic hardships. Despite efforts by the state government and non-profit organization Kalamandir to promote the art through the Amadubi Rural Tourism Centre, inadequate marketing and support have hindered progress. Some artisans have become profit-oriented, demanding high prices that deter buyers. Efforts to secure a Geographical Indication (GI) tag are ongoing to enhance the art's visibility and marketability.

Creative economy is empowering rural India

17 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
India's creative economy, encompassing crafts, textiles, music, and more, is providing new livelihood opportunities for rural youth. Success stories like PC Mustafa's ID Fresh Food and various rural entrepreneurs highlight the potential of traditional knowledge and digital platforms in bridging the rural-urban divide. Despite challenges like limited infrastructure and low awareness, initiatives by organizations like Rang De and government programs are supporting rural artists and entrepreneurs. Promoting rural incubators and eco-tourism can further enhance local employment and income.

Saraswathi’s journey from orphanage student to leader

11 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Saraswathi, from Ravogodlu village in Karnataka, narrates her journey from growing up in an orphanage to overcoming an abusive marriage and becoming a leader. After enduring hardships, she now runs an orphanage, nurturing and guiding young girls. Her story highlights resilience, empowerment, and the importance of seizing opportunities despite life's challenges.

Mizoram’s Chite Lui River is crying for help

05 Oct 2023  |  www.downtoearth.org.in
The Chite Lui River in Mizoram is facing severe pollution due to unplanned urbanization, encroachments, and waste disposal by local businesses. Despite its cultural significance, the river has turned into a dumping ground, leading to environmental degradation. Efforts by the Zoram Research Foundation and local campaigns have made some progress in raising awareness and cleaning the river. However, more comprehensive measures and government action are needed to address the issue effectively. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has acknowledged the local efforts in his radio program, but activists stress the need for sustained and serious intervention to save the river and other water bodies in the state.

Titanic comes alive as Jahaj Bari in a north Bengal village

01 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In the village of Nijbari, Darjeeling district, Mintu Roy has built a house modeled after the Titanic, driven by a childhood fascination. Despite financial constraints and initial ridicule, Mintu's determination led him to learn masonry in Nepal and invest around Rs 15 lakh over a decade. The 'Jahaj Bari' has become a popular selfie spot, earning admiration and media attention. Mintu's story exemplifies the power of dreams and perseverance.

Trout fish lifts Sikkim woman out of poverty

01 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Kopila Pandey, a woman from Pangthang village in Gangtok district, Sikkim, transitioned from selling vegetables to becoming a successful fish farmer. Despite her poor background and limited education, she now earns a substantial income through rainbow trout farming, milk sales, and poultry farming. Her achievements have been recognized by the state government and ICAR-Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, serving as an inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

Caution: Reading this will make you crave paani-puri

01 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Rukumani, a 46-year-old woman from Chikkardanhalli in Tamil Nadu, is part of a self-help group of 12 women who have empowered themselves by producing and selling puris for paani puri. Despite initial challenges, they scaled up their production with loans and support from the Tamil Nadu Rural Livelihood Mission and other organizations. The group now produces 100-120 packets of puris daily, achieving economic stability and personal growth. Their success story highlights the importance of self-help groups in rural development and women's empowerment.

What do Kadaknath chicken & betel nut have in common?

01 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In the border village of Mallabari in Darjeeling, West Bengal, residents like Khukumani Mallick rely on areca nut trees and Kadaknath chicken for their livelihood. The Kadaknath chicken, known for its black flesh and high nutritional value, has gained popularity and provides a significant income. Areca nuts, extensively grown in northern West Bengal, also contribute substantially to the local economy. However, the villagers face challenges such as elephant attacks that destroy crops and trees. There is potential for eco-tourism in the area, which could offer additional livelihood opportunities. Local leaders and government officials acknowledge the need for tourism development to boost the region's economy.

Bengal’s Sabar tribe struggles for survival

01 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
The Sabar tribe in Amlasole, West Bengal, continues to struggle with extreme poverty and social discrimination, nearly two decades after a tragic hunger incident brought them brief national attention. Despite promises of aid, the tribe remains marginalized, relying on forest produce for survival and facing significant challenges in accessing basic services. The article criticizes the government's failure to improve their living conditions and highlights the paradox of private investors profiting from the area's isolation while the tribe suffers.

Food truck provides a bright spot to Himachal’s rural women

01 Oct 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
A food truck named Food Truck Wala, operated by Purusharth Jamwal, provides a market for products made by over 200 rural women in Himachal Pradesh. These women, often part of self-help groups, produce homemade pickles, chutneys, jams, and other local delicacies. Jamwal's initiative, Himachal Hills, helps these women gain market access and financial support. Inspired by his mother's late-blooming entrepreneurship, Jamwal chose to support his community over a lucrative career in the merchant navy. The food truck, a cost-effective and mobile solution, has become a beacon of hope for many women, offering them a source of income and recognition for their skills.

What a ‘grape’ village!

29 Sep 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Repora in Kashmir's Ganderbal district is renowned for its high-quality organic grapes, praised historically by Sufi saint Sheikh Noor-Ud-Din Wali. The village's vineyards, covering 60 hectares, produce grapes that exceed international size standards. Despite their quality, these grapes are mainly confined to local markets due to limited production. The community relies heavily on grape cultivation for their livelihood, with 90% of the population engaged in this industry. Challenges include weather impacts and threats from animals, but the dedication to organic farming sets Repora's grapes apart.

Jharkhand villagers waiting to see ‘light’

28 Sep 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Villagers in Asnapani, Kashitand, and Birho Dera in Bokaro district of Jharkhand, India, live without electricity, running water, or proper roads, facing daily challenges such as fetching water from a river, risking snake bites, and dealing with the absence of healthcare and schools. Despite setting up power lines four years ago, electricity was lost after two months and has not been restored. The local panchayat head has complained to authorities with little action taken, and villagers are considering protests. The block development officer acknowledges the issues and promises road construction will begin soon.

Family Trees

26 Sep 2023  |  Bluedot Living
Massachusetts forest managers are using beetles and flies to combat invasive species. In India, Richa Vatsyayan creates eco-friendly sanitary pads from banana stems. French organizers of the 2024 games aim for unprecedented sustainability. Various global initiatives focus on environmental conservation, sustainable agriculture, and innovative solutions to climate change challenges. Key organizations like the Alliance for Affordable Energy and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy are highlighted for their positive impact.

A woman’s fight against corruption in Odisha

13 Sep 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Minati Panda, a 50-year-old woman from Kalabuda village in Odisha, has been fighting against corruption for over 12 years. Her journey began in 2010 when she exposed officials demanding bribes. Despite personal hardships, she has continued her crusade, receiving the Rani Laxmi Bai Puraskar in 2016 for her efforts. Minati's work includes catching corrupt officials and advocating for proper implementation of government schemes. She recently married Mrityunjaya Pati, who supports her social work.

Cheap Nepal tea hits India’s Darjeeling tea sales

11 Sep 2023  |  www.aljazeera.com
Darjeeling tea, once known as the 'champagne of teas,' is facing a decline in production and demand due to cheaper alternatives from Nepal. Production has dropped, and exports have decreased over the past five years. The Tea Board of India reports a decline in both Darjeeling and overall Indian tea exports. Nepalese tea benefits from a free trade agreement with India and lower production costs, which is squeezing Darjeeling's market share. The Darjeeling tea industry, which employs about 300,000 people, is demanding a revision of the trade agreement with Nepal and strict enforcement of the geographical indication tag to prevent blending with other teas. The Tea Board of India is considering a financial rescue package, but industry stakeholders are concerned about the future viability of Darjeeling tea.

Traditional snake boat race in Kerala waters

30 Aug 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Kerala's rich tradition of boat-making, particularly the crafting of snake boats, is a testament to the Malabar coast's historical ship-building expertise. The state's numerous water bodies have shaped its cultural history, with snake boats playing a role in both ancient naval warfare and modern boat races. The Nehru Trophy Vallam Kali is the most famous snake boat race in Kerala. Master carpenter Sabu Narayanan Achary is renowned for his skill in creating these boats, which are meticulously crafted over 7-8 months using both traditional and modern techniques. The Melpadam Chundan Vallam Samithi commissions these boats, which are celebrated for their craftsmanship and are not affiliated with any religious or political groups. The demand for snake boat maintenance has risen, with new races emerging across Kerala, expanding the tradition beyond its southern roots.

India’s thriving trout farming scene

18 Aug 2023  |  The Fish Site
Rainbow trout farming in Sikkim, India, has significantly transformed the local economy, particularly in the village of Sribadam. Pioneered by farmers like Samdup Bhutia, the practice has thrived due to favorable climatic conditions and continuous water supply. Despite initial setbacks and challenges such as water supply disruptions, the industry has grown, supported by government initiatives and financial aid. The state now produces substantial quantities of rainbow trout and fingerlings, contributing to the livelihoods of many farmers. However, issues like high fingerling mortality rates and feed availability persist, necessitating further government support.

Puppets in Jaisalmer museum preserve old tradition

10 Aug 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
The Desert Culture Centre and Museum in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, is a vital institution preserving the traditional art of puppetry. Founded by Nandkishore Sharma, the museum showcases twice-daily puppet shows that narrate historical and contemporary stories. Despite challenges from modern entertainment, the museum remains a crucial platform for puppeteers to express their art and earn a livelihood. The museum also conducts workshops to educate schoolchildren and tourists about puppetry. Support from the Government of Rajasthan and notable figures has been instrumental in the museum's development. However, the art form faces challenges in maintaining its relevance in today's entertainment landscape.

The Elephant and the Buddha

08 Aug 2023  |  Archaeology Magazine
Archaeologists in Odisha, India, discovered a three-foot-tall elephant sculpture from the third century B.C., a period when Buddhism was prominent in the region. Elephants hold significant symbolic value in Buddhism, with connections to Queen Maya and the Buddha. The sculpture resembles other statues found in the area, indicating a rich history of Buddhist symbols, including elephants, in local temples. Anil Dhir of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage highlighted the region's historical significance.

Vermicompost: How earthworms helped this Kashmiri farmer succeed

08 Aug 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In the verdant apple orchards of Gagran village, Shopian district, 70-year-old Ali Mohammad Mir has established a successful vermicomposting unit. Inspired by his love for farming and disheartened by chemical-based practices, Mir sought a sustainable method to enhance farming products. With a loan and training from the government agriculture department, he set up a thriving vermicomposting farm, producing around 300 quintals of nutrient-rich compost annually. His Kissan Vermicompost Organic Fertilizer is in high demand among local nurseries and farmers. Mir's efforts not only enrich his own farm but also provide a sustainable income and inspire others to adopt eco-friendly practices.

Bengal farmers bear brunt of Assam poultry ban

07 Aug 2023  |  villagesquare.in
The poultry industry in northern Bengal has suffered significant losses estimated at Rs 900 crore over four months due to an Assam ban on poultry and eggs, implemented in response to avian influenza outbreaks in Bihar and Jharkhand. The ban, which lasted until early June, affected around 2 lakh people in Bengal's poultry trade, causing prices to drop and farmers to sell at lower rates. The West Bengal Poultry Federation highlighted the challenges, including an illegal extortion racket at the Bengal-Assam border. Despite no bird flu cases in Bengal, the ban's impact was severe, and the situation has not fully recovered even after the ban was lifted.

Kashmir’s walnut wonders

31 Jul 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In the Haft Yarbal area of Safakadal, near Srinagar, artisans like Mohammad Ismail and Waseem Ahmad continue the centuries-old tradition of walnut wood carving, known locally as doonhachi kaem. Despite a decline in market demand since the 1990s and challenges such as the abrogation of Article 370 and COVID-19 lockdowns, these craftsmen adapt their designs to cater to changing trends. The craft, which originated in central Asia and flourished under the Shah Mir dynasty, faces issues like the use of non-walnut wood and a lack of interest from the younger generation. Artisans call for government intervention to preserve this cultural heritage.

Women suffer as Kashmir garlic faces market blues

26 Jul 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In rural Kashmir, garlic cultivation, a source of sustenance and prosperity, is facing a market slump for the fourth consecutive year, affecting growers, especially women. Prices have dropped by 40-50 percent since 2020, with demand declining from outside the Valley, particularly Himachal Pradesh. The COVID-19 pandemic worsened the crisis, with competition from states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh also contributing to the decline. Women, traditionally responsible for garlic cultivation, have seen their potential earnings from surplus produce diminish, impacting their ability to contribute to household expenses and personal savings.

Fury in India as viral footage shows women stripped and paraded naked through street

20 Jul 2023  |  inews.co.uk
A viral video showing two women being stripped and paraded naked in Manipur, India, has sparked national outrage and prompted government action. The incident occurred amid ethnic violence between the Kuki and Meitei tribes, resulting in over 130 deaths and the displacement of more than 35,000 people. The women were allegedly gang-raped by a mob, leading to widespread condemnation, including from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Supreme Court has urged the government to take strict action, and a man has been arrested in connection with the crime. The violence was triggered by a march against the Meitei community's

‘We lack robust mechanisms to tackle child labour’

12 Jun 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Shrishti Shankar of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) discusses the complexities of rescuing children from labour, emphasizing the multidimensional nature of the problem, including poverty, forced labour, and trafficking. She highlights the challenges in rehabilitation and the need for policies that address both the child's education and family needs. Shankar describes the prevalence of child labour in industries like bangle making, construction, and domestic work, and the efforts in Jharkhand to make education accessible at brick kilns. She outlines BBA's rescue approach, cooperation with Child Welfare Committees, and the pursuit of justice against employers, including securing back wages and criminal action. The article also mentions a recent case of a child in domestic work facing abuse and the ongoing efforts to rescue her.

Old well lone lifeblood for water-parched Bengal village

09 Jun 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In Balidiha village, Jhargram district, West Bengal, residents rely on a century-old well for drinking water due to the lack of government water supply. The village's tube wells are unusable due to high iron content, leading to health issues. Villagers face severe water shortages, especially in summer, and blame administrative neglect for their plight. Despite promises from officials, sustainable solutions like solar pumps are still in planning stages. The article underscores the urgent need for clean water and the challenges posed by climate change and population growth.

What I Saw Was Unforgettable: Survivors Of Odisha Train Tragedy Recount Horror

03 Jun 2023  |  www.thequint.com
Survivors of the Odisha train tragedy recount their harrowing experiences, describing the chaos and devastation following the accident. Many passengers, including families and laborers, suffered injuries and faced significant delays and cancellations. Eyewitnesses claim the death toll is higher than reported. Railway officials and the state government have mobilized resources to assist the injured and manage the aftermath, but criticism arises over the handling of the situation and lack of timely information.

Bay leaf brings aroma to lives in Bengal

30 May 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In West Bengal's Darjeeling district, women like Lalita Rai work with Indian bay leaves, contributing to their family's income and supporting their children's education. Bay leaf production provides livelihoods for nearly 10,000 women across Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, and Cooch Behar districts. Local traders lease trees from plantation owners, and the leaves are harvested, dried, and sold. However, climate change has affected rainfall patterns, leading to disease and insect infestation, impacting production. Intercropping with tea plants offers dual income for farmers, and there is a demand for bay leaves for cooking and essential oil extraction. A study is needed to understand the full impact of climate change on bay leaf production.

Odisha village reunites with man missing for 60 years

27 May 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
In Luhagudi village, Odisha, a man named Gobardhana Lahara, who had been missing for 60 years, was reunited with his village and family. Lahara, who had left the village as a child to find work and ended up in Nagpur, was brought back by his children after they traced his roots. The reunion was marked by joy and disbelief among the villagers, who had long believed him to be dead. Lahara's return has left a lasting impact on the village, which is now eagerly awaiting his next visit.

The last water-run flour mills of Kashmir

19 May 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
Traditional water flour mills, known locally as Aab-e-Gratte, were once common in Kashmir, but now only a few remain in rural villages. These mills, made of mud, stone, and wood with tin roofs, are powered by water diverted from rivers or ponds to rotate wooden turbines, which then grind grains between two large stones. The elderly who currently run these mills believe they are the last generation to do so.

Banni Maldharis battle to rear cattle in Kachchh

18 May 2023  |  villagesquare.in
The Maldhari community in the Banni grassland of Kachchh, Gujarat, is facing challenges in rearing traditional cattle due to various factors such as the rise of buffalo rearing, invasive species like Prosopis juliflora, harsh climatic conditions, and diseases like lumpy skin disease. The decline in cattle population and the lack of governmental support have made their livelihood precarious. The community has filed claims for community forest rights under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, but these have not been granted. The article suggests that government intervention and welfare schemes are needed to preserve the indigenous Kankrej cattle and support the herders.

The last of Kashmir’s flour water mills

16 May 2023  |  www.villagesquare.in
The article discusses the traditional water flour mills in Kashmir, highlighting their cultural and historical significance. It provides a detailed description of how these mills operate, grinding wheat, corn, and maize between rotating wheel-shaped stones. The piece underscores the importance of preserving such traditional practices amidst modern advancements.

Brazilian travel vlogger demands justice after alleged India gang rape

15 Mar 2023  |  inews.co.uk
A Brazilian travel vlogger named Fernanda and her Spanish husband Vincente were allegedly gang-raped by a group of men in eastern India. Fernanda, who has a significant following on Instagram, and her husband were on a world tour and had stopped in the village of Kurmahat in Jharkhand state when the incident occurred. Eight men have been arrested, and local authorities have compensated the couple. The Brazilian and Spanish embassies are involved, and the incident has sparked condemnation in India, highlighting concerns about safety for foreign tourists and the country's justice system, which has a low conviction rate for rapes.

‘Struggling’: An Indian wedding photographer’s monthly expenses

30 Nov 2022  |  www.aljazeera.com
Arijit Khan, a 35-year-old video editor and part-time wedding photographer from Howrah, West Bengal, India, is the sole breadwinner for his family, earning a monthly income of 17,000 Indian rupees. After loan repayments, his take-home pay is 12,370 rupees. In October, he made an additional 7,000 rupees from wedding photography, totaling 19,370 rupees for the month, which is below the median salary in India.

Women in India’s West Bengal fight upcoming coal mine

21 Apr 2022  |  www.aljazeera.com
In Birbhum, India, Indigenous women are leading protests against the West Bengal government's coal mining project, which threatens their land and livelihood. Despite government compensation offers, villagers remain unconvinced, citing inadequate job promises and the irreplaceable value of their land. The project, managed by West Bengal Power Development Corp Ltd, faces criticism for potential environmental damage and lack of clarity on coal usage. The controversy underscores broader issues of land acquisition and India's reliance on coal amid commitments to reduce emissions.

Concerns as India builds rail network in remote state near China

28 Jul 2021  |  www.aljazeera.com
India's railway project connecting West Bengal to Sikkim, near the China border, faces criticism from environmentalists and local forest dwellers. Concerns include potential natural disasters due to the region's seismic activity, ecological damage from construction, and alleged violations of the Forest Rights Act. Despite technological assurances from officials, the project has been delayed, leading to increased costs and local discontent over pollution and displacement.

The ‘tiger widows’ of India

19 Jun 2019  |  Al Jazeera
In West Bengal's Sundarbans, an area prone to tiger and crocodile attacks, women known as 'tiger widows' have been adapting to new livelihoods to avoid the dangers of the forest. NGOs and government initiatives have been instrumental in providing alternative sources of income, such as fishing, beekeeping, and tailoring. Despite these efforts, challenges such as human trafficking remain prevalent, with West Bengal recording a high number of cases. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect the Sundarbans and its biodiversity, including at least 76 tigers, while also ensuring the safety and economic stability of the local communities.

I am freelance journalist based in Kolkata and can work as a writer, translator and fixer for the correspondents who want to do stories from Kolkata or Eastern region of India. I have already worked with journalists from CNN International, Mirror Group among others. My reports have also got publised in Al-Jazeera..

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