THE WORLD’S BIGGEST ELECTION LOSER KEEPS DEMOCRACY ON ITS TOES

K. Padmarajan is a little different from the rest of the candidates who run for elections in India. Mostly, and majorly, that’s on account of his losing 168 elections since 1988. It’s a feat that has gotten him entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for being “the most unsuccessful candidate in elections in the world.”

 

But sporting a big bushy mustache, a round red tilak and a colorful shawl on his shoulder, Padmarajan is, to put it mildly, unstoppable.

 

To date, the humble tire shop owner has spent Rs. 30 lakh running for a variety of positions in national, state, and local elections. The distinction has earned a passel of well-placed queries: “Why is he acting like a clown?” “Who does he think he is, trying to get into politics?” And these are, according to him, from his friends. Read and watch Election King Dr. Padmarajan's story here. 

The Man Behind Gods- Portrait of a Mylaudi Sculptor

Mylaudy, a sleepy little town on the tip of South India, is famous for its stone sculptures and master sculptors who use the traditional handicraft method to sculpt various Hindu deities. Lakshmanan Sthapathi is one such brilliant sculptor in his twilight without proper recognition for his work, not even from his son. 'Art is a force, a divinity, that's beyond us and that art, is God' he says. He recounts his experience from working on the famous Vivekanandar Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari and how difficult it was for him to set up his own sculpting workshop back in the day. Watch the video to understand the effort that goes beyond his craft and how the advent of technology threatening to destroy the handicraft art of sculpture making. 

Kadhal Aran – How an app is helping couples escape honour killing

In India, inter-caste marriages can get you killed.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB in India), 3560 cases were reported with motive as “Honour Killing.”

The organisations working on the ground to prevent caste-based atrocities say that the number is grossly inaccurate and could be much higher. They estimate that more than 190 honour killing incidents have taken place since 2014 in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu alone.

In 2016, when Bharathi, who runs one such organization called ‘Aran’, heard about the Shankar-Kausalya honour killing incident that took place in the Udumalpet district of Tamil Nadu, India, he spurned into action. Deeply affected by the horrifying incident, he started making preparations for a moblie based application to help inter-caste couples get married and seek the protection of the law. Thus ‘Kadhal Aran’ app, which means ‘Save Love’ in Tamil, was born. This story was published here. 

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC OUT OF EDEN WALK SLOW JOURNALISM WORKSHOPS

In 2013, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Paul Salopek set off from Ethopia on the Out of Eden Walk, a 10-year, 21,1000-mile foot journey across the world in the pathways of ancient human migration. 

As Salopek walked across India in 2018, he paused in three major cities to lead in-depth National Geographic workshops, which trained a cadre of Indian journalists to find and tell stories.

Being an attendee of the first workshop in Delhi, I also documented the other two workshops held in Chennai and Kolkata along with interviews of the journalists and the teaching faculty. To know more about the National Geographic Out of Eden workshops on slow journalism, click here. 

Former TV Journalists Are Now Independent Media Stars. Here's Why. 

  It was just before the results of the 2014 elections and a prominent news journalist from a Tamil media outlet is asked to resign from his job because he criticised the then Prime Minister aspirant, Mr. Narendra Modi, on a talk show. Fast forward to 2018, a journalist working in News 18 Tamil, Mr. Haseef Mohammed, is forced to quit his job after mounting pressure from Right-Wing trolls on the internet.

  Responding to the 'injustice' met to their colleague fellow journalists, Mr. Jeevasagapthan and Mr. Senthil Vel, voluntarily resign from their jobs as well. These fierce journalists, after experiencing the limitations of established media houses, decide to start their own independent media ventures to counter the 'State-approved' narratives in the media space. This is their story.

Old Delhi’s Last Calligrapher

Mohammad Ghalib, who has practiced the craft of calligraphy for about 35 years, is now one of the last remaining traditional calligraphic artists in Old Delhi. Others have vanished from the streets there, not finding it economically viable anymore. Even Ghalib now wonders if the art of calligraphy could die soon. But he hopes it won’t. “It’s still alive because we had learned it in the past,” he says. Read the full story of Old Delhi's Last Calligrapher here. 

A Quiet Revolution- the Fatima Sheikh-Savitribai Phule library at Shaheen Bagh

 In the Fatima Shiekh- Savitribhai Phule library, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" and Anne Frank's "The Diary of a Young Girl" were lying next to each other. Arundhati Roy's latest essay collection, "My Seditious Heart", Revathi's "A life in TransActivism"; a couple of introductions to the Indian Constitution, Urdu edition of Mahabharata, books on Gandhi, Nehru, Bhagat Singh, and even Isaac Asimov's sci-fi novels were available for the readers.

"We started with a measly collection of 25-30 books, now we have over 500 books that the protesters can choose from," beamed Asif. Read about the revolutionary library here. 

PAWNS OF PROGRESS TEASER

Mayuri Deshmukh is one of the many young women in rural India who travel far distances to get her education. Although her village has a public school, many villagers send their children to modest private schools for a better education; an education that will allow them to escape a life of farming.

In India, conservative figures show that there are 8 million fewer farmers today than in 2001, and 15 million less than in 1991. The overwhelming opinion amongst economists is that, for our country to develop, more people need to leave agriculture and strengthen other industries.

This teaser was shot as part of a larger documentary, Pawns of Progress. 

I'm a Loco Pilot. I'm also an Organic Farmer. Here's my story. 

When does life end and dream begin? We try to seek happiness by doing something we love. Here is one such story of a man trying to catch up on his dreams. He is bored with his everyday mechanical life and when an opportunity presents itself, he is not afraid to grab it.  

P.S. It's my father and it was a delight to shoot him during the pandemic. Stories start from home.