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Saraswati River in the Thar Desert

Saraswati River in the Thar Desert

The vedas mention the mighty Saraswati river flowing down the Himalayas and then westwards towards Rajasthan. But Rajasthan is a desert. So where did this huge river, which the vedas say was bigger than the Ganga, disappear? It is widely believed that this river still flows under the Thar desert, though no one has been able to prove this for sure. Even the epic Mahabharata, written in 1000 BC, mentions Saraswati as the once-mighty river that was drying up....

Ride the Camel

Ride the Camel

The world looks very strange from a camel’s back. On a recent trip to Rajasthan, we travelled on camel back from the city of Jaisalmer to the Sam dhani or sand dunes of the adjoining Thar Desert. We were travelling to Thar, just 42 km away, to watch its dazzling sunsets. Deoram and Raju When we set out from Jaisalmer, the desert city famous for its golden fortress, the early evening sun dazzles our eyes. Bright, beige wasteland stretches all around us for miles....

The Shoe-shine Women

The Shoe-shine Women

Ludhiana, the industrial capital of the state of Punjab in northern India, is like any other prosperous Indian city but for one interesting difference. Its cobblers are largely women. A trip to the inter-state bus stand, outside the railway station, at roadside corners, in the local markets, under trees, and in almost every other place that you can think of, will reveal scores of them, polishing shoes of commuters in the vicinity. The Shoe-shine Women [Illustration by Sudheer Nath] Actually, they may not like being referred to as cobblers....

The Peacocks are Dying

The Peacocks are Dying

May 11: The residents of the Rajasthan State Electricity Board colony in Heerapur, 12 km from Jaipur, are in shock. They don’t know how to reconcile to the sudden, unexplained deaths of 19 peacocks in their colony in the first week of May. The priest at the Radha Krishna temple in the colony is inconsolable: there are no more peacocks to peck at the vessel filled with jowar. In the first week of May, at Sirsiya village in Phagi district, a villager saw six of the birds die, foaming at their mouth as they tried to dance....

Aruna Roy – Voice of the People

Aruna Roy – Voice of the People

July 31: She was once an officer of the Indian Administrative Service or the IAS as it is popularly known. What is equally well known is that most IAS officers are as remote from the people as possible. Today, she has won the Magsaysay Award for public service for daring to question this attitude. She looks like a village woman in a simple sari, chatting away in a local dialect or language of Rajasthan. She is Aruna Roy, the winner of the Magsaysay Award for public service of 2000....

Roy of Light

Roy of Light

November 4: While cities and towns have the privilege of an electricity connection, there are still a number of remote villages in India that lack this facility. Their homes remain shockingly dark, even on the threshold of the twenty-first century. It’s a reality that the Indian government has done little to change. Providing electricity to all of India appears to be beyond its reach, even today. So the loudest cheers must be reserved for the man who says, yes, it’s possible to light up all the villages in India, even the poorest, most remote ones....

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