Gasping For Breath: Women Provide A Glimpse Into India’s COVID Disaster

‘What Has to Happen Will Happen’

In this compilation of ground reports from across India, is a glimpse into the life of a joint family in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The women caregivers in the multi-generational house speak about their experiences through the first and the second wave of COVID. | The Fuller Project, April 2021

How WhatsApp became a tool for Indian police to fight harassment

Despite the dozens of “safety” apps for Indian women, WhatsApp might be the simplest — and most effective — solution. | Rest of World, April 2021

Will the new laws lead to more GHG emissions from India’s farms?

Experts fear the recently passed farm laws are pushing India’s agriculture sector towards more intensive, industrial farming that comes with a larger carbon footprint | Carbon Copy, April 2021

Republished in The Wire Science

Feral dogs aggravate biodiversity crisis in Indian Himalayas

The booming population of strays causes economic hardship, risks the spread of disease and threatens conservation efforts – but NGOs and some state governments are taking action. | The Third Pole, March 2021

Meet the King Cobra Rescue Team That Saves Both People and Snakes

A research station in the rain forests of the Western Ghats, India is on call 24/7 to aid wayward reptiles in need. | Atlas Obscura, February 2021

The ecological roots of India’s farming crisis

The storming of the Red Fort in Delhi marked a dramatic escalation to months of protest to new farm laws. Could a more sustainable form of agriculture be part of the solution? | Deutsche Welle Global Ideas, February 2021

This article was also published in German and Spanish.

Root Cause

In theory, the Miyawaki method of afforestation is a panacea for urban woes but there is limited understanding of the long-term outcomes and impacts of urban forestry in the country. | The Caravan, February 2021

This story was done with the support of Stockholm Environment Institute Environment Reporting Grant 2020.


Microplastics on Your Plate

A short report on microplastics, plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in length, are entering edible parts of fishes meant for human consumption. | Earth Island Journal, December 2020

Women will be the first to fall as India’s rural credit sector unravels
German: Pinky Devi im Teufelskreis der Schulden

Set up in the 1980s, microfinancing was heralded as a champion of women’s empowerment, extending cash to women who had never used or even visited a bank before. But cashflow has dried up during the pandemic, and payments on these high-interest loans are getting put on hold — kicking off a cycle that threatens the already fragile state of financial security among these women borrowers. The report covers the unique debt burdens women are facing in parts of rural India, as the gap between men and women’s access to opportunity widens. | The Fuller Project, December 2020

This article was republished in India by Scroll.in.

This article also appeared on Der Spiegel in German. Link here: Pinky Devi im Teufelskreis der Schulden

“No One Knows About Me.” India’s ‘Left-Behind’ Women

As India’s men migrate in the millions, ‘left-behind women’ keep India’s rural farm sector running. But they have no liberty, land rights or even the acknowledgement that they are employed. This 10-month-long reporting journey led to this feature about the life of women like Anita Kumari | Article 14, December 2020

Supported by the IWMF Grant For Women’s Stories

Though Cyclone Nivar had a soft landing, floods hit coastal districts

Nivar made landfall on the night of November 25, bringing heavy rains in south-east India. Many coastal districts were flooded, and livelihoods were disrupted. Fishermen and residents from affected areas talk about living life under the constant threat of a disaster. | Mongabay India, December 2020

Without interventions, COVID-19 will burn the bridge for STEM education

The recent death by suicide of LSR mathematics student Aishwarya Reddy is a tragic reminder of how STEM careers are not easily afforded. What are some approaches to change that? | Life of Science, November 2020

The Pandemic is Resurrecting India’s Folk Arts by Forcing Performers to Make Their Online Debut

Folk and tribal performers are finding tech solutions in the hopes of creating sustainable revenue streams. There is a lot riding on a smartphone and a data plan: their livelihood, and the future of their artforms. | VICE, October 2020

Excess Baggage: How wildlife is trafficked by air in and out of India

Wildlife trade poses the second-biggest direct threat to the survival of species after habitat destruction. India is among the top 20 countries for the illegal wildlife trade and its fast expanding airport sector is often used by wildlife traffickers to smuggle high-end, high-value species and products.
Over 31% of trafficked items were in checked luggage in India (43% globally) followed by air cargo at 20%, seizure data shows. | Mongabay, July 2020

This story was republished on The Wire Science and India Bloom

“I Want to Make Fisherfolks’ Lives Better”

Marine scientist S. Velvizhi overcame class and gender barriers to help coastal communities to build safer and sustainable fisheries in the Bay of Bengal. | The Earth Island Journal, July 2020

Lockdown and the Festival Where Hindu Gods Go Into Isolation

Lord Jagannath at Puri falls ill every year, and is quarantined for 15 days. After this isolation ritual, called anasara, the deities emerge at the grand rath yatra. The anasara rituals aren’t as famous as the Puri rath yatra but they are a window to understand how temple festivals intersect with the caste system, and notions of wellness and purity. | Atlas Obscura, June 2020

Pregnant during COVID-19: Expecting mothers left in the lurch by India’s healthcare system as tackling pandemic takes priority

The pressure on the healthcare system due to the pandemic, India’s lockdown and lack of clear guidelines have caused severe disruptions in access to maternal healthcare and antenatal services. The critical procedures affected include routine check-ups, scans, institutional deliveries and follow-ups — which may lead to the increased suffering and eventual deaths of pregnant women. | FirstPost, June 2020

Glacier Research Is Particularly Treacherous at the ‘Third Pole’

Scientists in the Indian Himalayas deal with low oxygen, zip lines, and paths blocked by giant boulders to reach the research stations and the glaciers, where they conduct critical climate change research. This story follows glaciologists with India’s National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research as they go to “work” in Spiti Valley in Himalayas and in their labs in the tropical state of Goa. |Atlas Obscura, May 2020

Reporter’s Diary: No One Goes To Talamala

Every year several depressions are formed over the Bay of Bengal, and some turn into cyclones and pass over India’s East coast. Like the “extremely severe” Cyclone Fani did exactly a year ago on May 3. The cyclone hit Odisha’s coastline destroying several villages. At it’s peak the wind speed was over 250 km/h. The devastation was so severe that many people were without power and a roof over their head for months.

This photo story is from Talamala two months after the cyclone. The damage was still visible and fresh, as if it had happened just a few days before. | Medium / The Logical Indian, May 2020

False Steps: The commercial roots of a “traditional” folk dance

Ayla Joncheere is a Belgian anthropologist who has spent the past decade researching the Rajasthani Kalbeliya community’s dance form. She has found out that it is an “invented tradition.” Many traditions are recent creations, often invented to express the social cohesion of nations and communities, or to legitimise an existing order, institution or authority. Read this article to know how it came to be. | The Caravan Magazine, May 2020

‘Use of War Metaphors For COVID Divides People, Spreads Fear’

This interview explores the problems of equating the COVID-19 pandemic to a war, using metaphors such as ‘warriors’, ‘fighters’, ‘battle’, ‘war’ and ‘soldiers’. However, military and war analogies may have serious unintended impacts, dividing people and spreading fear and panic, according to psychiatrist Soumitra Pathare, director of the Pune-based Centre for Mental Health for Law and Policy at the Indian Law Society. | IndiaSpend, April 2020

Agrobiodiversity initiatives open women’s horizons in Kerala

Mainstreaming agrobiodiversity initiatives can address complex problems such as nutritional security, poverty alleviation, and women’s empowerment. The Kudumbashree Mission runs an agrobiodiversity project in Palakkad wherein tribal women “Master Farmers” share their traditional knowledge with younger farmers and students. The farmers are ensured of market linkages as Kudumbashree also procures the produce for community kitchens and retail sales. | Mongabay, April 2020

This article was republished in Hindi in India Water Portal: एग्रो-बायोडायवर्सिटी से केरल में महिलाओं के लिए बढ़े अवसर

Artificial reefs breathe new life for Tamil Nadu’s fishing communities

When climate change and over-exploitation of resources was impacting the livelihood of local fisherfolk in Tamil Nadu, scientists came forward with a unique solution: artificial reefs. These long-lasting structures improve marine biodiversity as well as livelihoods. | Mongabay, February 2020


Ayodhya verdict: Can Tamil Jains reclaim heritage destroyed by Hindus?

If each religious group asked for their heritage to be reinstated, the Jains and the Buddhists may have a lot to ask of the Hindus — but they wouldn’t know whom to ask, given that the Hindus themselves never self-identified under this unified category, as has been pointed out by several scholars. | TheFederal, December 2019

Why Disaster Rehab Must focus On Landless Dalit Farmers

Disaster relief is a one-time job, it starts and has an end point but rehabilitation lasts for 2-3 years and should provide sustainable income sources and resilient housing. Dalits, with a population of over 200 million, are among the most vulnerable in the face of climate-related disasters, and experience discrimination not just in the relief but also in the rehabilitation process. Nearly 71% of Dalits work as farm labourers at the bottom of India’s agricultural economy, and over 50% Dalit houses are made of semi-permanent or temporary structures, making them highly vulnerable to disaster. This story examines how disasters affect them disproportionately, leaving them without any means to recover once they leave relief shelters. | IndiaSpend, October 2019

This article was republished on EarthJournalism.Net, South Asia @ LSE, Scroll.in, among others. It is also available on IndiaSpend’s Hindi and Tamil websites:

This article is also available on IndiaSpend’s Hindi and Tamil websites:

भूमिहीन किसानों पर क्यों केंद्रित होना चाहिए आपदा पुनर्वास?

பேரிடர் மறுவாழ்வு ஏன் நிலமற்ற தலித் விவசாயிகள் மீது கவனம் செலுத்த வேண்டும்

This story was done with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network Bay of Bengal Grant 2019.

Coal Is In The Air

Victory for Adani’s Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia spells a loss for two communities 5,000 miles apart. The first is in Australia. The second is in Goa, on India’s west coast, where residents fear the impacts of even more coal arriving at the Mormugao port once the Carmichael mine is operational. | The New Internationalist (Print), September 2019

Ha Long Bay Despatch: Something is stinking in Vietnam’s heritage sites

Poorly enforced waste management norms and unsustainable practices in the tourism sector are among the major concerns plaguing Vietnam, particularly it’s heritage sites such as Ha Long Bay and Hoi An. The increasing number of tourists are a burden on this weak waste management system. | The Hindu, September 2019

The birthplace of modern nature healing

In the 19th Century, Europeans travelled to Bled, Slovenia, to seek out the natural healing treatments of Arnold Rikli. Today, his methods are making a comeback. | BBC Travel, August 2019

Landless Dalits, hit hardest by disasters, are last to get relief

Lower castes are vulnerable to climate-related disasters and have the least ability to recover from them because of their precarious position–on the very edge of society. Socio-economic factors, such as the compulsion to stick to caste-based occupations and the pressure to live in the most vulnerable parts of the village, further marginalise farm labourers during disaster relief. Report from investigations across the coastal villages of Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu and Puri, Odisha after Cyclone Gaja and Cyclone Fani respectively. | IndiaSpend.org, August 2019

This article was republished on EarthJournalism.Net, South Asia @ LSE, Scroll.in and FirstPost, among others. It is also available on IndiaSpend’s Hindi and Tamil websites:

आपदाओं से सबसे ज्यादा प्रभावित होते हैं भूमिहीन दलित, वे होते हैं राहत की अंतिम पंक्ति में

பேரழிவுகளால் கடுமையாக பாதிக்கப்படும் நிலமற்ற தலித்துகள், நிவாரணம் பெறுவதில் கடைசியாக உள்ளனர்

This story was done with support from Internews’ Earth Journalism Network Bay of Bengal Grant 2019.

Frankfurt Despatch: Magic of gifted hands without brand power

Feature on Indian handicrafts exports to European markets, reported from Frankfurt, Germany was part of Despatches, curated and edited selections from The Hindu‘s weekly page on international affairs 2017-2018. The article covers state of export industry and largest home fair in Europe held at Festhalle Messe, Frankfurt, Germany.

International page, The Hindu, April 2018 | Despatches, The Hindu Group, 2019. Click here to order the book.

Lok Sabha polls: Being on ‘shifted’ list doesn’t bar you from voting; a how-to-vote guide for those on ASD list

The Absentee, Shifted and Deceased List has been a pain point for the Election Commission for a few years now, but many voters and officials are unaware that those on the ASD list can actually vote. | FirstPost, April 2019

The exoticised images of India by Western photographers have left a dark legacy

“Photography in India”, a new book by Nathaniel Gaskell and Diva Gujaral looks back at the history of photography in India and reveals some interesting insights. | Scroll.in, February 2019

Protecting India’s fishing villages: Q&A with ‘maptivist’ Saravanan

Fishing communities across Tamil Nadu are fighting to protect their traditional lands as the sea rises on one side and residential and industrial development encroaches on the others. To support these communities, Saravanan, a 35-year-old local fisherman is helping them create maps that document how they use their land. | Mongabay.com, January 2019. Republished in Scroll.in, FirstPost, The NewsMinute

How WhatsApp, the enabler of fake news, helped save lives in Tamil Nadu after Cyclone Gaja

The article focuses on the use of the messaging app for efficient disaster relief, management and mitigation operations by various government departments. It explores questions of hierarchy, archiving and record keeping, policy frameworks for use of social media and institutional adaptation to new communication platforms. | Scroll.in, January 2019


Ram or crackers had no place in my Diwali

A personal essay on the homogenisation of the festival. The grand celebration by the UP government and the claim that firecrackers are integral to the festival goes against the ethos of the many narratives of Diwali. | Scroll.in, November 2018

How did Jainism spread in South India? A small town in Tamil Nadu holds the answer

For the marginalised Tamil Jain community, Kazhugumalai is of great religious significance. | Scroll.in, October 2018

Racism and stereotypes in colonial India’s ‘Instagram’

In the early 20th Century, picture postcards served as a kind of Instagram, giving Europeans a glimpse of the life their family and friends led in British colonial India. | BBC News, September 2018

The India fishermen using cheap smartphones to map the coast

Trapped between rising sea levels and development projects that are eating into the coastline of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, fishing communities using cheap technology have taken matters into their own hands. | BBC News, September 2018

British Indian postcards had more in common with Instagram posts than we realise

An exhibition in London sheds light on the subtext of postcards, the media craze that swept the globe in the 20th century. | Scroll.in, September 2018

Zagreb Despatch: From the ruins of Operation Storm

The 1991-95 Croatian War of Independence claimed 20,000 lives in Croatia. During Operation Storm, which ended the war in Croatia’s favour, over 2,00,000 Serbs were forced to flee the country and hundreds were killed. The article focuses on the 23rd anniversary of the War and the rise of right-wing ideologies in Croatia. | The Hindu, August 2018

“The mixture of Islam as a state religion adjoining secularism is not healthy.” – Sara Hossain

On the sidelines of the LSE-Berkeley Bangladesh Summit held at LSE in June 2018, Mahima A. Jain interviewed to Bangladeshi lawyer Sara Hossain, who was a panellist discussing “Civil Society and the State”. | South Asia @ LSE, July 2018

Dr Sanchita Saxena and Dr Mukulika Banerjee talk about LSE-UC Berkeley Bangladesh Summit and future of Bangladesh studies

In this video interview Dr Sanchita Saxena, Director of Subir and Malini Chowdhury Center and Dr Mukulika Banerjee, Director of LSE South Asia Centre about their vision for the LSE-UC Berkeley Bangladesh Summit, Bangladesh studies and placing Bangladesh within the South Asian agenda. | South Asia @ LSE, July 2018

Paris Despatch: France’s carpool service takes wing

As France’s railway strike enters the third month — services are suspended two of every five days until the end of June — carpooling has emerged as the best alternative to most affected commuters. | The Hindu, June 2018

The reopened Ambedkar House in London holds the key to understanding the man and his inspirations

Dr BR Ambedkar was a man of cities, having lived in New York, London and Mumbai during the formative years of his life. This article explores the socio-political situations that Ambedkar encountered in London in 1920-1922 when he was a student at LSE, and how these situations shaped his understanding and scholarly approach. | Scroll.in, May 2018

“There is a need now for a systemic change for dealing with judicial accountability. This is a time for institutional articulation” – Dr Aditya Sondhi

Interview with Dr Aditya Sondhi, former Assistant Advocate General, Govt. of Karnataka and senior Counsel at the High Court of Karnataka and Visiting Faculty at the National Law School of India, Bangalore. The interview focuses on transparency in the Indian judicial system, issues of dissent and freedom, and systemic issues within the judiciary. | South Asia @ LSE, May 2018

Frankfurt Despatch: Magic of gifted hands without brand power

Feature on Indian handicrafts exports to European markets, reported from Frankfurt, Germany. Article covers state of export industry and largest home fair in Europe held at Festhalle Messe, Frankfurt, Germany. | International page, The Hindu, April 2018

Harry Potter can never die while History of Magic survives

Personal essay interwoven with review of the History of Magic exhibition at The British Library. The article focuses on the sheer magnitude of the universe created by JK Rowling, and compares how comprehensive her work is as a treatise of global magic mythology. | THread, April 2018

Law, nationhood and the Constitution of India as a work of art

As India celebrates its 68th Republic Day, in this photo essay Mahima A. Jain showcases the highlights of LSE South Asia Centre’s exhibition ‘Law and Nationhood: India at 70’ curated by Dr Nilanjan Sarkar and Dr Charlotte de Mille, and the story of the hand-written and illustrated Constitution of India. | South Asia @ LSE, January 2018


In a post-Brexit deal, “India keen on freer movement of professionals – not ‘immigration’” — Y.K. Sinha

In this interview, His Excellency Y.K. Sinha, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, talks about India-UK Year of Culture, post-Brexit deal between the two countries and India’s diplomatic presence.| South Asia @ LSE, December 2017

Youth, democracy and dialogue are the keys to the future of Pakistan

Reporting from the Future of Pakistan Conference and key note address delivered by Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. | South Asia @ LSE, November 2017

“Humanitarian action, which should be neutral, has been tainted with the stench ofregime change and reactionary politics” – Dr Timothy Nunan

Interview with Dr Timothy Nunan, a scholar of international and global history on his research, the ‘humanitarian invasion’ in Afghanistan. | South Asia @ LSE, November 2017

“A new, emerging Indian security doctrine in the Indian Ocean is set to challenge the narrative and impact of China’s influence” – Rahul Roy-Chaudhury

Interview with Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, Senior Fellow for South Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), on India’s foreign policy and India’s approach in the Indian Ocean region | South Asia @ LSE, October 2017

“We have some critical national security interests, and you have to be respectful of those interests” – General Haq

Interview with Ehsan Ul Haq, retired four-star general of the Pakistan Army | South Asia @ LSE, October 2017

Lifting the veil

A trio of women battle the ghunghat in the heart of Haryana’s Faridabad district, a stronghold of patriarchy | The Hindu Sunday Magazine, January 2017


Many ministers had large cash holding

Data story on how much cash Cabinet Ministers held just before demonetisation. With Visvak. | The Hindu, Front page, December 2016

ATMs in rural areas are still a far cry

With only 40,000-odd ATMs available in rural areas, providing access to money poses a greater challenge. With Radhika Merwin | The Hindu BusinessLine, November 2016

Little known facts about India’s banking network

India not only has the highest number of commercial bank branches in the world, the number of bank branches in rural and urban areas is almost equal. | The Hindu BusinessLine site, November 2016

Unquiet flows the Cauvery: the tale of how it became a river on the boil

Data story giving a lay down of the construction of dams in the Cauvery Sub Basin using GIS mapping and Fusion Charts. There are over 100 dams in the region, mapped historically to understand the patterns in construction and conflict. | The Hindu BusinessLine site and print (Politics), October 2016

Mind above the water

As flood-affected Chennai staggered back on its feet a year ago, mental health professionals began their rounds of those struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. | The HinduBusinessLine, BLink, September 2016

Keeping museums in vogue

Long-form story on the coming together of public and private agencies, that work toward turning cultural institutions such as museums into sustainable and engaging public spaces

Main: Getting museums to trend : Government projects and private investments are helping museums make a comeback in the public mind

The business of keeping the past alive : Museums bank on consultants to attract more footfalls

In IndiaFile, The Hindu BusinessLine‘s long-form features section, September 2016

Judged by twelve

The notorious Nanavati case is being relived in Bollywood’s Rustom. A look at the jury system that the case is famously believed to have killed. | The Hindu Sunday Magazine, August 2016

The game of thorns

Countries that host Olympics have bled, while the International Olympic Committee has gained. Brazil’s pain is acute. | Think (Op-ed), The Hindu BusinessLine, August 2016

Head to the watering hole

Bars get booming business on the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, thriving on thirsty seekers from the land of Prohibition. | The Hindu Sunday Magazine, July 2016

Looking for Jina Kanchi

Feature on the former Jain quarter of Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu and the small Tamil Jain community | The Hindu thREAD, January 2016


Paris will endure

Travel feature and commentary on Paris and the November 2015 Paris Attacks | The Hindu BusinessLine, Variety, and BLoC’s Hangouts section, November 2015

Inside the mind of an outsider artist

Review of an art exhibition by autistic children and a feature on outsider art | The Hindu BusinessLine, Variety, November 2015

Pirouetting around gender

Feature on male dancers and masculinity | The Hindu Business Line, BLink, January 2015

Chennai’s old Parsi flame

Feature on the Parsi community in Chennai | The Hindu Business Line, BLink, January 2015

Lost Shadows

On the Spice Route and Muziris Heritage Project in Kerala | The Hindu Business Line, Blink, December 2014

Money Spinners

Book Review of “The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas” by Thomas Timberg | The Hindu Business Line, Op-ed page, November 2014

Kerala’s 3,000-year-old history gets four new homes

Feature on the Paravur and the Chendamangalam Synagogue, and the homes of the Paliam family | The Hindu Business Line, November 2014

Where the wild flowers are

Feature on Lachung, Sikkim, and the history of Valley of flowers | The Hindu Business Line, BLink, October 2014

GPs: The disappearing first line of defence | What ails family practice in India

A two-part series on general practice and family medicine | The Hindu Business Line, Pulse, October-November 2014

‘In a global world, IIMs need to reach out’

Interview with Ashima Jain, PwC National Head, the US | The Business Line, New Manager, May 2014

All roads lead to Sithamoor

Mahavir Jayanti celebrations by Tamil Jains at a small village in Tamil Nadu | The Hindu, Friday Review, April 2014

The great Indian election comedy

Feature on political satires on YouTube channels | Front Page, Business Line, April 2014

Getting down to the Brass Tacks of clothing

Feature on Anaka Narayanan’s label Brass Tacks | Emerging Entrepreneurs, The Business Line, April 2014

Election fever spills over to app zone

Feature on an app, a trump card game, by Saddahaq | The Business Line, April 2014

Pause to observe a changed world

Review of ‘A Changed World: Singapore Art 1950s and 1970s’, National Museum of Singapore | The Business Line, March 2014

‘Just literacy and numeracy is not quality education’ | Why babus can’t be ignored

Interaction with Akshay Mangla, Assistant Professor, Harvard Business School; and report of seminar on RTE at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public policy, January 2014


Tamil Jain?

The Hindu’s Sunday Magazine, December 2013

Weaving a tale of success

Feature on an all-woman NGO from North Sri Lanka | The Business Line, Weekend Life, November 2013

Making waste count, for a cause

Feature on Paperman, a startup that works toward collection of recyclable waste | The Business Line’s Emerging Entrepreneurs, November 2013