October 18, 2018

Cyclones buffet Odisha as temperatures rise


The rise in temperatures due to climate change has increased the vulnerability of Odisha on the east coast of India to intense cyclonic storms

Cyclone Titli made landfall on October 11, 2018,
and caused extensive damage in coastal areas of
Odisha and Andhra Pradesh
The southern coast of Odisha, with the small port town of Gopalpur at its centre, seems to have become a favoured destination for tropical cyclones occurring in the months of October-November in the Bay of Bengal. This year, coastal districts of Odisha and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh on the east coast around Gopalpur faced two intense tropical cyclones — Daye in September and Titli in October.

Gopalpur has been facing a constant threat of post-monsoon tropical cyclones since at least 1999 when it was badly hit by a devastating tropical cyclone 10 days before the super cyclone of 1999. The later one hit near Odisha’s port town of Paradeep in the early hours of October 29 ravaged large parts of coastal areas, leading to at least 10,000 deaths.

October 16, 2018

Assam: Skill training empowers girls, raises hope for gender parity

#GenderEmpowerment

Skill development trainings are not only helping rural communities fight poverty in Assam but are also empowering girls to aspire big, overcoming challenges posed by social stigma and deep-rooted gender disparity


After her training in office administration skill, Kakoli Bora, 25, now works as assistant manager with a microfinance company in Assam.

October 15, 2018

A year on, Odisha yet to ensure justice in Kunduli gang rape case


Image source: Citizens for Justice and Peace
A year on, the case of alleged gang rape of a minor girl by men in uniform in Kunduli area of Odisha’s Koraput district has become a point of discussion again. After dismissal from Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Dr. Damodar Rout, lawmaker as well as former minister in the Naveen Patnaik cabinet, sparked fresh controversy by making statements that evidences were manipulated, destroyed and altered in the case to protect one alleged rapist, a constable in paramilitary forces.

However, scientific experts reject Rout's charges while inviting him and all to prove the reports wrong.

September 22, 2018

BJD mustn't take people of Odisha for granted all the time

Political warmth is on an increasing trend in Odisha as elections are on the head and many expect it to happen earlier than usual.

Confident about its electoral success until a few weeks ago, Biju Janata Dal (BJD) now seems to be worried a lot since dismissal of the veteran politician Dr. Damodar Rout and the speculations following it over formation of another regional political outfit to challenge the ruling party on the lines of the true ideology and dreams of late Biju Patnaik, the legendary person whom people of Odisha consider the icon of pride. 

September 12, 2018

Women farmers suffer due to unequal land rights

Although they are often the actual cultivators, the lack of land rights among women farmers in Odisha has resulted in chronic distress because they are unable to get government loans or compensation over crop loss
Since her husband migrated out of Odisha for work, it fell upon Remati Majhi (25) of Dhamnaguda village in Nuapada district to cultivate rice in the fields owned by her husband. But she could neither avail any government loan nor insure the crop because she didn’t have title over the land. So, she had no option but to arrange the required resources through private moneylenders.

August 09, 2018

Warning for Odisha Govt: 56K Adolescent Girls Drop Out of School

Two ministries of the Odisha government are at loggerheads over the dropout rate of ‘adolescent girls’ from school, in the state. Last week, based on a baseline survey, the department of Women and Child Development and Mission Shakti (WCD-MS) claimed that nearly 56,000 girls, in the age group of 11-14, are out of school.

July 26, 2018

Act now to spur urban climate resilience

Like most cities in India, Bhubaneswar is being driven to its knees due to extreme rainfall and intolerable temperatures, underscoring the urgent need for climate-smart urban planning 


After intense overnight showers, Bhubaneswar woke up on Saturday, July 21, morning with half the city under water. The situation at the capital of the eastern state of Odisha in many ways typifies poor urban management in India that is crumbling under adverse climatic conditions.

Residents in many parts of the city were stranded in their homes and the condition was so dire in some parts that the state’s disaster response team has to start rescue operations. Roads in the state capital looked like gushing streams. Disaster response forces moved to waterlogged areas with floating pumps to drain out water.

July 18, 2018

Araku Valley takes baby steps to address maternal health

An initiative to reach healthcare services to pregnant women and new mothers in the underdeveloped Araku Valley, bordering Odisha's Koraput district, has seen a measure of success in tribal communities ruled by superstition and regressive practices

In a lively anganwadi or daycare center in Godiguda village, an auxiliary nurse midwife (ANM) conducting health check up of over 10 women, some pregnant and others lactating, reflected the changing scenario in maternal and child health in the Araku Valley of Andhra Pradesh.

Traditionally, delivery cases handled by a dhai, elderly women from the village or the community, being the practice, and pregnant women visiting a medical or a doctor considered an act against norm, pregnant mothers had to submit themselves to their fate despite high rate of maternal and neonatal mortality in the valley, Malati (35), who has decided to go for an institutional delivery for her sixth child, told VilageSquare.in.

July 11, 2018

Community protection holds hope for climate change affected Similipal sanctuary

Impacted by climate change and human activity, hope for the Similipal biosphere reserve in the eastern state of Odisha has come from protection offered by area residents. 

 Standing in the backyard garden of his thatched house near the core area of the Similipal national park, Shyam Ho (50) of Kusumi village recalled his childhood when the forest around his village was thick and the primary source of food for his tribal community.

“We used to get everything, from tubers to leafy vegetables and a variety of fruits and berries, in the forest. Honey was abundant available in the hedges, the mud walls of our houses, and in the nearby forest. They all have become rare these days,” Shyam Ho said. “Today, we have to buy honey from collectors whenever we need it even for medicinal use. We don’t see so many varieties of honeybees around our villages these days.”

May 30, 2018

Enterprising Odisha women take to selling fish to improve lives

Women in Odisha’s coastal fishing villages have turned to selling fish and value-added fishery products after eliminating middlemen and abolishing the home brewing of country liquor, the root cause of their problems.

Selling fish at the local fish market, Dulana Das (40) of Rambha village in Odisha’s Ganjam district took pride in introducing herself as a businesswoman instead of a fisherwoman. “I buy fish every morning from fishermen who fish in Chilika Lake and the nearby sea,” Dulana told VillageSquare.in.“With a designated place for me in the market, and a 20% profit, I earn a good income.” 

March 26, 2018

Yatri Panji: The Database Mystery of Puri

Inspired by the news of celebrities finding mention in the records of the Pandas in Puri, I wanted to verify what these records document and how the database has been maintained.

The curiosity was after President Prativa Devi Singh Patil saw mention in the personal records called ‘Yatri Panji’ of the traditional Panda (People traditionally engaged in various services of Jagannath Temple), Damodar Mahasuara, whose family has been looking after the pilgrims from the state of Maharastra and Gujarat.

March 23, 2018

When Political Parties Question Media Neutrality

As the media fraternity in Odisha gets increasingly vocal about protecting freedom of speech and ensuring a free media, a few political parties in the state have decided to stage a confrontation.

While, in the most recent case, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), the ruling party of Odisha, has openly declared a boycott of the OTV, alleging that the channel has been carrying news and views intentionally against the interests of the party, nearly a month back part of the media in the state also felt that the Odisha chapter of BJP was planning to boycott another channel, Kalinga TV, for similar reasons. But the BJP didn’t publicly claim a boycott, the way the BJD did on 21 March 2018 through a press conference.

January 29, 2018

Is Baijayant planning for a new party?

What now looks more likely is that Baijayant Panda may float a regional political party to counter BJD by engineering an alliance with BJP in Odisha following the same formula BJD used to oust Congress from power in the State.

Since his ouster from Biju Janata Dal, everyone in Odisha is speculative on Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda’s next political move, what would be his next move and which party would he opt to land up in. And, if not joining any party, what could be his next course of action? Is he planning for a new party because the current political situation is quite similar to that of the 1997 when the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) emerged by splitting the old Janata Dal?

January 26, 2018

Chronic Kidney Disease Plagues Rural Odisha, but Why?

At 47, G Dharma Rao of Badaputi village in Chhatrapur block of Odisha’s Ganjam district suddenly finds himself becoming a burden on his family. He was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) two years ago. Dharma is now unable to do any work and is undergoing dialysis in a Bhubaneswar hospital twice a week.

“We have already spent over 5 lakh rupees for his treatment by taking hand loans from relatives and others at an interest of 2 percent/month,” said G Aimma (42), Dharma’s wife.

January 10, 2018

Traditional tribal farming shows way to climate-smart agriculture

The practice of planting a wide variety of crops by Odisha’s Dongria Kondh tribe could hold the key to strengthen climate-smart agriculture in a state that has been buffeted by recurrent droughts and erratic rainfall.