Hafta 278: Cyclone Amphan, rerouting of Shramik Special trains, India-China dispute, and more

06.20.2020 - By NL Hafta

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In this episode of NL Hafta, Newslaundry’s Abhinandan Sekhri, Manisha Pande and Mehraj D Lone are joined by Shoaib Daniyal, associate editor at Scroll. 
The panel starts with a discussion on Cyclone Amphan and the resultant devastation in West Bengal. Shoaib says: “This was so fearsome that it came into Kolkata also, which is a good 100 km from the sea...It was a pretty scary sight that day and, of course, the city then went through terrible problems for the next few days.” He adds that casualty numbers are relatively low, despite the cyclone’s severity, “because of basic precautions. Just putting people in a pakka house — that very simple act saves lives.”
The panel also discusses the media coverage of Amphan. Manisha acknowledges that there are possible constraints for media organisations. However, channels like Zee Bangla and News18 Bangla still managed to cover the cyclone, but Zee and News18’s Hindi counterparts did not, “despite having this great resource of reporters being on the ground for the Bengali channels,” she says. “So I think it’s more wilful than the lack of being able to get someone.”
Moving on to the rerouting of Shramik Special trains, Mehraj says, “I am just at a loss. Even incompetence alone doesn’t explain this. This is a time when they are running a fraction of the usual number of trains...It is not just that these trains are getting lost, but they are also not providing food or even water.” 
Bemoaning the government’s inability to coordinate the provision of food with civil society groups, Abhinandan says the government “doesn’t want to talk to anyone. Because they think of everybody as an enemy. When you are such a hostile and venom-filled entity, you will not reach out to anyone to collaborate.”
The panel also discusses the recent India-China dispute, Newslaundry’s coverage of different issues under constraints, lockdowns in other countries, Rahul Gandhi’s recent comments on the Maharashtra government, and the possibility of opening places of religious worship. 
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