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Weak infrastructure and a national shortage have made water costly all over India, but Sushila Devi paid a higher price than most. It took the deaths of her husband and son to force authorities to supply it to the slum she calls home.
“They died because of the water problem, nothing else,” said Devi, 40, as she recalled how a brawl over a water tanker carrying clean drinking water in March killed her two relatives and finally prompted the government to drill a tubewell.
“Now things are better. But earlier … the water used to be rusty, we could not even wash our hands or feet with that kind of water,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Delhi.
India is “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history”, threatening hundreds of millions of lives and jeopardising economic growth, a government think-tank report said in June.
From the northern Himalayas to the sandy, palm-fringed beaches in the south, 600 million people – nearly half India’s population – face acute water shortage, with close to 200,000 dying each year from polluted water.
Residents like Devi queue daily with pipes, jerry cans and buckets in hand for water from tankers – a common lifeline for those without a safe, reliable municipal supply – often involving elbowing, pushing and punching.
On the rare occasions water does flow from taps, it is often dirty, leading to disease, infection, disability and even death, experts say.
“The water was like poison,” said Devi, who still relies on the tanker for drinking water, outside her one-room shanty in the chronically water-stressed Wazirpur area of the capital Delhi.
“It is better now, but still it is not completely drinkable. It is alright for bathing and washing the dishes.”
Water pollution is a major challenge, the report said, with nearly 70 percent of India’s water contaminated, impacting three in four Indians and contributing to 20 percent of the country’s disease burden.
Yet only one-third of its wastewater is currently treated, meaning raw sewage flows into rivers, lakes and ponds – and eventually gets into the groundwater.
“Our surface water is contaminated, our groundwater is contaminated. See, everywhere water is being contaminated because we are not managing our solid waste properly,” said the report’s author Avinash Mishra.
Loss of livelihood
Meanwhile, unchecked extraction by farmers and wealthy residents has caused groundwater levels to plunge to record lows, says the report.
It predicts that 21 major cities, including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.
The head of WaterAid India VK Madhavan said the country’s groundwater was now heavily contaminated.
“We are grappling with issues, with areas that have arsenic contamination, fluoride contamination, with salinity, with nitrates,” he said, listing chemicals that have been linked to cancer.
Arsenic and fluoride occur naturally in the groundwater, but become more concentrated as the water becomes scarcer, while nitrates come from fertilisers, pesticides and other industrial waste that has seeped into the supply.
The level of chemicals in the water was so high, he said, that bacterial contamination – the source of water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid – “is in the second order of problems”.
“Poor quality of water – that is loss of livelihood. You fall ill because you don’t have access to safe drinking water, because your water is contaminated.”
“The burden of not having access to safe drinking water, that burden is greatest on the poor and the price is paid by them.”
Frothy lakes and rivers
Crippling water problems could shave 6 percent off India’s gross domestic product, according to the report by the government think-tank, Niti Aayog.
“This 6 percent of GDP is very much dependent on water. Our industry, our food security, everything will be at stake,” said Mishra.
“It is a finite resource. It is not infinite. One day it can (become) extinct,” he said, warning that by 2030 India’s water supply will be half of the demand.
To tackle this crisis, which is predicted to get worse, the government has urged states – responsible for supplying clean water to residents – to prioritise treating waste water to bridge the supply and demand gap and to save lives.
Currently, only 70 percent of India’s states treat less than half of their wastewater.
Every year, Bengaluru and New Delhi make global headlines as their heavily polluted water bodies emit clouds of white toxic froth due to a mix of industrial effluents and domestic garbage dumped into them.
In Bengaluru – once known as the “city of lakes” and now doomed to go dry – the Bellandur Lake bursts into flames often, sending plumes of black smoke into sky.
The Yamuna river that flows through New Delhi can be seen covered under a thick, detergent-like foam on some days.
On other days, faeces, chemicals and ashes from human cremations float on top, forcing passers-by to cover their mouths and noses against the stench.
That does not stop 10-year-old Gauri, who lives in a nearby slum, from jumping in every day.
With no access to water, it is the only way to cool herself down during India’s scorching summers, when temperatures soar to 45 Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).
“There usually is not enough water for us to take a shower, so we come here,” said Gauri, who only gave her first name, as she and her brother splashed around in the filthy river.
“It makes us itchy and sick, but only for some time. We are happy to have this, everyone can use it.” (VOA)
Just as much as man has evolved from the time of the nomads, his practices and rituals have grown more and more sophisticated. With time, things that once were just formalities have acquired ritual significance and are observed in solemnity. Death was once something that marked the end, but now is an important life change event that is memorialized. Some people come alive only after death.
In nomadic times, men buried their dead companions or family along the route they traveled. They would place a stone or any heavy object over it, to prevent the soil from becoming loose around the body, or to keep it safe from scavengers. This practice is no longer followed as the animal kingdom and man's world have become distinct from each other.
Europe is dotted with Stonehenge clusters, which are historical pieces of evidence of human progress. It is a keen and detailed system that human ancestors devised for burying their dead. Carbon dating suggests the presence of decomposed remains, but its actual significance is speculated.
The Egyptians devised building pyramids in which they laid their dead. They are one of the earliest civilizations to propagate the idea of an afterlife. They filled the pyramids with earthly treasures, all of which they believed were required in the next life.
Traditional orthodox graves with elaborate gravestones Image credit: Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash
When devastating plagues hit countries, the dead were buried in masses. Walls were built around these sites to contain the dead bodies and to prevent them from spilling out. Later superstitions and folklore about the 'undead' forced people to place crosses and crucifixes on graves to keep their loved ones from turning into blood-sucking vampires. Sometimes, coffins were pierced in the centre with a large stake to prevent the deceased from waking up again. Gravestones were laid to make sure that the person did not escape. Sometimes, an intact gravestone was an indicator of a pure soul.
The Renaissance instilled a scientific spirit of inquiry, which caused brilliant advancements in every field, but this came at rather bizarre costs. Students of human anatomy needed a basis for their theories and were often found vandalizing property, digging up the dead to use for dissection. Laws were passed against this, but it was a practice that prevailed. Some of the most famous principles of medicine come from this era.
Burying the dead has changed so much with the times. Today's practice of laying gravestones has no preventive measures like those in the past. Instead, they serve to immortalize the dead. It is to fulfill the life of the person by laying them to rest in their final earthly abode and leaving behind a marker of their life either by a symbol, a quote, or a verse that best describes them. As the population of the world continues to grow, land space for burial is growing scarce, and gravestones are now becoming a rare privilege.
Keywords: Ritual Practice, Graves, Memorial tombs, plague disease, white plague
The sporting industry thrives on the success of the patron teams, or at least, teams that the people love. It is common knowledge how much time and energy people are willing to spend watching matches between their favourite team and its rival. Matches that take place across the world, in different time zones, do not matter much when it comes to expressing patronage for a star player or team. Late nights, crowded sitting rooms, and rain-checked appointments are absolutely welcome during match season.
Cricket has gained the world's love when it comes to making them stop everything and stare at a screen, awaiting the next run, boundary, or wicket. No other sport across the world receives as much love and undying allegiance. In this scenario, it is only natural to have an entire system in place that makes use of this immense love for the sport. Creating leagues that run annually, and pit one team against another, to measure prowess, skill, and popularity does not seem odd at all. In fact, it pumps the adrenaline more than ever, and receives an incredible amount of support. People will do anything to watch their team in action one more time.
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Like in every other cricket-loving nation, Australia's Big Bash League reigns supreme among the predictors, who weigh the statistics of each team, player, and season. They go by the name of KFC Big Bash League, more popularly, BBL, and were established in 2011. Their franchise Twenty20 matches are held during the summer season, between the months of December and February. Currently, there are six local teams, Sydney Sixers, Perth Scorchers, and so on, the former being the latest champion. Apart from the Indian Premier League, BBL has the most attendance.
A batsman swinging the ball Image credit: Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash
Since the world's eyes are on Australia anyway during this season, BBL also predicts its winners and losers, hosting events and putting up charts of the same. Experts that work under them regularly update the ravenous public about the latest developments based on experience, how often team members change hands, leadership developments, and even predict the success of each player in turn. The BBL points table sees a raving amount of reviews each year from the publicity of the franchise itself. People from all over world want to be able to know the outcome of the match beforehand, to increase the excitement of watching it.
Over the years, newer features have been introduced to make the franchise more enticing. Awards, both real and imaginary, are handed out to winners, and to exceptional players. Online betting also takes place to see who wins and who loses, based on personal opinions coupled with the experts' predictions. The BBL chart is extremely useful in this context. They even have a Women's Big Bash League that is gaining momentum.
Also read: The Ultimate Cricket Stay
The odds offered by BBL takes into account all the minute factors that most predictors do not pay attention to, such as weather conditions, and a list of probable players, including match details. What makes BBL reliable is that the experts who give out suggestions do their best field work, and have sound knowledge of the game and players. On Crictips, BBL has truly made a name for itself as an all-round cricket guide to all kinds of sporting audiences.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and contains some commercial links)
Keywords: Australia, BBL, Crictips, Cricket, Betting
Cinema and movie making is constantly changing, and the result is in front of us we've come a long way from silent black and white short movies to high definition, colour, 5-D movies. It has evolved for the last 108 years and continues to grow. India's first auteur-filmmaker Dhundiraj Govind Phalke popularly known as Dadasahen Phalke directed and produced India's first feature film Raja Harishchandra which was a hundred per cent made by the Indian crew. The movie was released in Bombay's (Mumbai) Coronation Theatre on the 3rd of May 1913 under the label of being India's first home production, full-length film.
Raja Harishchandra was the first to be 'acted, directed and produced by an all-Indian team. Phalke's inspiration to make a "Swadeshi" movie comes from when he viewed the silent movie, "The Life of Christ" in 1911. He wrote in Navayug, November 1917 that While the Life of Christ was rolling fast before my physical eyes, I was mentally visualizing the gods, Shri Krishna, Shri Ramachandra, their Gokul and Ayodhya… He wanted to feel the connection with the movies but that connection failed to form as the context of the movie was foreign.
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Phalke went to London the very next year to learn about filmmaking techniques. He even imported the hardware required for filmmaking to India from England, France, Germany, and the United States of America. Upon his return to India, he founded Phalke Films Company. Phalke published classified in various newspapers for the cast and crew to apply, what's unique about the film was that even the female roles were played by male actors this happened as no women were available for the role.
Phalke was a one-man crew for the production, he was in charge of writing script, direction, production design, make-up, film editing along with film processing. The filming of the whole movie took six months and 27 days.
The female roles were played by male actors in the movieWikimedia Commons
As the name itself suggests the film closely follows the story of Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra from the Vedas who is known to be the epitome of truth as maharishi Vishvamitra makes him go through numerous torturous tests to prove himself.
The story goes as Raja (King) Harishchandra was teaching his son, Rohitashva how to shoot with a bow and arrow as Queen Taramati watches over her son and husband. Later the people of the Kingdom request the king to go on a hunting expedition as the animals have been creating havoc. While on the hunt, Harishchandra hears the cries of some women. Upon following the voice Harishchnadra discovers the sage Vishwamitra was performing a yajna to get help from Triguna Shakti (three powers) against their will. After witnessing the sight Harishchandra revolts and interrupts the sage, which infuriates the egoistic sage. To calm his wrath Harishchandra offers to sacrifice his kingdom to the sage. He informs his queen of the events and the family is exiled from the kingdom by Vishvamitra. The sage asks the poor king for Dakshina within the time period of 48 days. While in exile Rohitashva meets his demise, the king asks his wife to visit Dom king in the hope of free cremation only to face more difficulties on the path Vishvamitra frames her for the murder of the prince of Kashi. Taramati faces trial, pleads guilty and is ordered to be beheaded by Harishchandra. With a torn heart but as he could not turn away from his duty, the king raises his sword to behead his wife, Lord Shiva appears, and it is revealed that all the difficulties they have been going throw were the tests laid down by Vishvamitra to test the integrity of the king, Harishchandra gets back his kingdom, his son is brought back to life and the movie ends.
A legacy of the century
Only a handful of "firsts/indigenous" movies made in India have survived the century. Raja Harishchandra being one of them still holds the same meaning and inspiration for its audience as it did a century ago. Film historian Firoze Rangoonwalla describes the film's impact on the public as "a wide impression and appealed to a large audience in different places" and its box office success provided "the seal of acceptance and laid the foundation of the film industry" in the country.
The debate over whether Raja Harishchandra is truly the first full-length Indian feature film has been argued over for decades. Some film historians claim that Shree Pundalik by Dadasaheb Torne was released in the same theatre a year before Raja Harishchandra was the maiden Indian Film. However, other historians differ they argue that Shree Pundalik is a simple cinematographic recording filmed by a British cameraman on a single fixed camera, and later processed in London. On the other hand, Raja Harishchandra was completely made in India, from cameraman to final editing of the movie. Thus, it has recognition from the government of India as the first Indian feature film.
Keywords: Filmmaking, India's first feature film, Raja Harishchandra, Dadasaheb Phalke, filmmakers in India