Vandana Agrawal is a journalist based in Raipur, India.
In a world saturated with BFFs (Best Friends Forever) and friendship bracelets, these Chhattisgarhi villagers hold their friendship to such high standards that it can put even familial ties to shame. Mitaan translates to ‘friend’ in the local tongue. The procedure of befriending someone is called Mitaan badna. Interestingly, the friendship is not only between two people, but also the families are involved.
Tribals across the state, from Sarguja to Sukma, face a threat to their livelihoods ever since the Chhattisgarh government drastically reduced the minimum support price (MSP) of minor forest produce. In Chhattisgarh, the minor forest-produce business is worth around Rs 2,000 crore a year.
Privatisation is a dirty word in large swathes of socialist India. So, it would take an extremely brave person or a madman to hand the management of a community asset like a river to a private company. But that’s what the Digvijay Singh government in Madhya Pradesh did in 1998, when they contracted out a 23.6-kilometre stretch of the Shivnath River in Durg district to Radius Water Ltd (RWL) to build a barrage and supply water to a nearby industrial estate.Twenty years on, the controversy over the original decision refuses to die down.
Despite a hike of Rs 200 per quintal to Rs 1,750 in the minimum support price (MSP) of rice, Chhattisgarh's paddy farmers are an unhappy lot. Chhattisgarh, eastern India's 'rice bowl', is home to 43 lakh farmers and paddy is the state's main crop. They were hoping the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government would keep its promise of paying an MSP of Rs 2,100.
As political pundits and journalists analyse the Chhattisgarh election results, where the Congress won a two-thirds majority in the Assembly, one trend has become clear — a large group of women in the state voted against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Polling data shows that of the 21 constituencies where more women voted than men, the Congress won 17 seats, while the BJP bagged only two and the other two went to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC).
As though the allegations of EVM tampering during the recent Chhattisgarh Assembly polls weren't enough, the State Election Commission is now under attack for inconsistent voter turnout data since the final phase of polling on 20 November. At loggerheads over the figures are the State Election Commission and the Chhattisgarh government's Directorate of Public Relations (DPR), from where the nodal officer to disseminate information about the elections is appointed.
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