The Big Story

The Quint

The Big Story podcast – Where we dissect headline-making news with analysis and inputs from experts.

How Can Hardik Patel & Sunil Jakhar's Exit Impact The Congress?
19-05-2022
How Can Hardik Patel & Sunil Jakhar's Exit Impact The Congress?
On 18 May, Hardik Patel who gained popularity during the Patidar agitation, quit the party. Taking swipes at senior leaders, he accused the party of lacking strong leadership both at the state and central levels. He said that Congress only plays the role of a “roadblock” when it comes to serious issues — be it about Ram Mandir, abrogation of Article 370 or GST. While it’s not yet clear where Hardik will be headed next, resignations within the Congress party have been on the rise. There have been brazen expressions of discontentment over party leadership and the party's functioning from Congress leaders themselves.  Besides Hardik, many prominent and senior leaders – some of whom had decades-long association with the Congress – quit the party and switched over to opposition parties over the last few year. In fact, earlier in the day a former senior leader of Congress from Punjab — Sunil Jakhar joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, merely days after quitting Congress. But what doesn't make for good optics is that Hardik's resignation comes just days after the Congress wrapped up their 3-day 'Chintan Shivir' in Udaipur, where the party got together to chart out a plan for its revival. Jakhar, in fact, resigned while the Shivir was still underway. So, we’ll look at two things in this episode: firstly, how does Hardik Patel and Sunil Jakhar’s exit stand to impact the Congress at a time when its fast losing its grip over its voters? Secondly, what are the big takeaways from the Chintan Shivir? Is the Congress acknowledging the shortcomings that has been costing it so dearly? Host and Producer: Shorbori Purkayastha Guest: Aditya Menon, Political Editor, The Quint Editor: Shelly Walia Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
India's Rationale Behind Banning Wheat Exports & Its Impact On Markets
18-05-2022
India's Rationale Behind Banning Wheat Exports & Its Impact On Markets
After enforcing a ban on wheat exports, India announced some relaxations on 18 May. The surprise decision had led to a lot of chaos as hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wheat were reportedly left stranded at Gujarat’s Kandla Port after the ban was announced. But the new notification from the Ministry of Commerce has said, "It has been decided that wherever wheat consignments have been handed over to Customs for examination and have been registered into their systems on or prior to 13.5.2022, such consignments would be allowed to be exported." Explaining its rationale behind prohibiting the export of wheat, the central government had said that it was committed to providing for the food security of India as well as other vulnerable countries that had been adversely affected by sudden disruptions in the global market for wheat. But in the aftermath of the ban, as the wheat prices soared to a record high, the ban drew criticism from G7 nations, which said that such moves would "worsen the crisis" of rising commodity prices. But even back at home the jury is divided. While some are of the opinion that such a ban can impact India’s credibility and is also harsh on farmers who could profit from the higher export prices, others say that it is needed to curb the rising prices in the country as severe heatwaves have damaged crops. But to better understand the rationale behind the export ban and its likely implications on domestic and foreign markets, I spoke to Deepanshu Mohan, Associate Professor and Director at the Centre for New Economics Studies at the Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities. Host: Sakshat Chandok Guest: Deepanshu Mohan, Associate Professor and Director at the Centre for New Economics Studies at the Jindal School of Liberal Arts and Humanities Editor: Shelly Walia Producer: Shorbori Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath Dispute: How It Started & Where It Stands Now
17-05-2022
Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath Dispute: How It Started & Where It Stands Now
The decades-old Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Vishwanath dispute has sprung back in the news once again. While there are several chapters to this long-drawn dispute, which goes back as far as 1991, let's look at the recent developments first. On Monday, 16 May, a Varanasi court directed for a spot within the mosque complex to be sealed after a court-appointed advocate commissioner, Ajay Kumar Mishra, made a sensational claim that a shivlinga was found in a pond during a videography survey. This video assessment was ordered by the Varanasi civil court after a group of five women petitioners had sought a round-the-year access to pray at “a shrine behind the western wall of the mosque complex”. But the Committee of Management of Anjuman Intezamia Masjid has been contending this order arguing that the court's directions are contrary to the provisions of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991 which specifically states that except for Ram Janmabhoomi–Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, the nature of all places of worship shall be maintained as it was on August 15, 1947. As the matter came up before Supreme Court bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud on 17 May, the apex court order passed an interim order directing the District Magistrate to protect the area where the shivling was allegedly found but to not stop namaz. But as the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Viswanath issue flares up once again, the crucial legal questions around this dispute now are: Firstly, can the Varanasi court order sealing of a spot within the mosque before the video assessment report was filed? Secondly, does such a videography survey go against the Places of Worship Act? The Quint's Legal Editor Vakasha Sachdev will be analysing these questions for us. And in this episode we'll also look at the timeline of the Gyanvapi Mosque-Kashi Viswanath dispute and where the matter stands so far. Host and Producer: Shorbori Purkayastha Guest: Vakasha Sachdev, Legal Editor, The Quint Editor: Shelly Walia Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
IndiGo Incident Shows Why We Need To Raise Awareness Around Disabilities
11-05-2022
IndiGo Incident Shows Why We Need To Raise Awareness Around Disabilities
Are we as a society practicing inclusivity and showing sensitivity towards people with disabilities? A video from Ranchi airport that went viral on social media platforms recently is raising this question. This said video captured an incident where a teenage boy with disability was purportedly mistreated by IndiGo airlines. This incident took place on 7 May.  In the video, several passengers in the airport are seen asking the IndiGo staff to let the boy and his family board the flight after they were denied from doing so. The ground staff allegedly said that the child was in a state of panic and would be a threat to other passengers' safety if he was allowed to board. As the incident caused a furore with many tagging Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia to take action in response to the outrage , the airlines said in a statement that "the ground staff waited for the child to calm down till the last minute, but to no avail". Soon after, IndiGo CEO Ronojoy Dutta also released a statement expressing "sincere regrets over this unfortunate experience" and offered to purchase an electric wheelchair for the boy as a token of appreciation.  He also said that "Having reviewed all aspects of this incident, we as an organisation are of the view that we made the best possible decision under difficult circumstances." But many felt that while this incident showed an example of the many difficulties that people with disabilities face in navigating a society that is largely driven by an ableist approach, it was also heartwarming to see how common citizens showed awareness and sensitivity in this particular incident and stood up for this teen and his family. In this episode, you will hear from Dr Sumit Ray, a senior consultant in critical care medicine, who was waiting at the Ranchi airport when the incident took place, witnessing it first hand. He was also seen intervening with the staff on video footage. We will hear from him what exactly happened at the airport that day. And we also spoke to Prachi Deo, founder of Nayi Disha, an organisation that provides families and primary caregivers of children affected by autism and other developmental disabilities with counselling and guidance. We talk to her about how public spaces and airport staff can be sensitised towards children and adults with disabilities. Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram Scripting: Shorbori Purkayastha Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
Girls Out of School - The Faces Behind The Stark Numbers on School Dropouts
09-05-2022
Girls Out of School - The Faces Behind The Stark Numbers on School Dropouts
This time around marks a year to the deadly second wave of Covid. While  officially 5.42 lakh people lost their lives to the virus in India since 2020, there have been many repercussions of the pandemic. This episode of The Big Story is not going to be about the headline making news, it's going to be about an issue which is very close to us here at The Quint. Two years since the onset of Covid, India's schools have almost re-opened, but millions of underprivileged students aren't going to be returning to schools anytime soon. We at The Quint, wanted to look into this long-term impact of Covid on girls' education through our video series — Ladki Hoon Padhna Chahti Hoon – India's Girls Out of School. If you look at the data, according to UNESCO, almost 1.8 billion students globally have been affected by school closures in the pandemic. Around 320 million of them are in India alone, and out of this at least 158 million are female students. And it's not just this UNESCO data alone. Ever since India started relying on digital classes for school students from 2020, there have been several parallel surveys and analysis to shed light on who have been impacted the most by the school closures during Covid and how. Most of these surveys and data point to the one fact that girls especially from caste and economic minorities became the bigger casualties of the pandemic. So we decided to go to the faces behind these numbers and meet the girls whose dreams have been shattered and who childhoods have been lost. Tune in to The Big Story! Host and Producer: Shorbori Purkayastha Editor: Shelly Walia Interviews: Sadhika Tiwari and Mythreyee Ramesh Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
Unpacking the Main Takeaways From PM Modi's Europe Visit
06-05-2022
Unpacking the Main Takeaways From PM Modi's Europe Visit
In the backdrop of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrapped up his first foreign visit of the year to Europe on 5 May with visits to Germany, Denmark, and France. PM Modi’s first port of call was Berlin, where he met the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose government has decided to make economic sacrifices by reducing its energy dependence on Russia and even changing its decades-old stance on defence spending. PM Modi then travelled to Copenhagen, where he held the second India-Nordic summit with Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, and Norway to explore new areas of cooperation. This summit was special because India is the only country other than the US that the Nordic Five engages on such a level. And on his way back to New Delhi, PM Modi made a stopover in Paris, France, where President Emmanuel Macron was re-elected just 10 days ago. India and France have been strategic partners since 1998 and the talks here focused on the importance of a "free, open and rules-based" Indo-Pacific. A common texture across the trip was the joint statements in each country, where differences over Ukraine were apparent. In Germany, Modi’s statement said no one will be the "victorious party in this war" and the only way out was through talks. While India has been in an uncomfortable position since the Russia-Ukraine war began and has continued to not condemn Russia for any of its actions so far, there seems to be a level of comprehension by European countries on India’s stance. And the flurry of European leaders and delegations to India in the past few weeks, especially the visit of EU President Ursula von der Leyen suggests a changing world order. In today’s episode, we discuss the main takeaways from PM Modi’s EU trip with our guest Manoj Joshi, a distinguished Fellow at The Observer Research Foundation. Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram Editor: Saundarya Talwar Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
What Explains RBI's Sudden Hike in Repo Rate? Rising Inflation or Catch Up?
05-05-2022
What Explains RBI's Sudden Hike in Repo Rate? Rising Inflation or Catch Up?
In a surprise move on Wednesday, 4 May, the Reserve Bank of India hiked the benchmark repo rate for the first time in four years by 40 basis points to 4.4 percent. Alongside this, the central bank also raised the cash reserve ratio or CRR by 50 basis points to 4.50 percent. Unveiling the new policy on Wednesday, RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das said the bank is aiming to keep inflation – which is already close to 7 percent – at the desired level in the wake of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and increase in food and commodity prices globally. However, there are a few puzzling takeaways from the central bank statement. First, is the fact that the bank has retained the accommodative monetary policy, which essentially means that the bank is prepared to expend the money supply to boost economic growth. This, obviously, runs counter to the bank's latest move. Second is the timing of it. Less than a month ago on 8 April, the bank's Monetary Policy Committee – which decides the repo rate – decided to keep the rate unchanged despite rising inflation and tightened geopolitical uncertainty. And since the same factors remain even now, why the sudden hike? What changed? In today’s episode, we break down what prompted the RBI to hike the repo rate, the significance of the move, and how it will impact the end consumer. In today’s episode, you will hear from Ananth Narayan, Professor of Finance at SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, and Quantum Advisors India's Arvind Chari. You will also hear from Prosenjit Dutta, former editor of Businessworld and Business Today. Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram Editor: Shelly Walia  Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
LIC IPO Listing: What Are The Pros and Cons of Investing?
04-05-2022
LIC IPO Listing: What Are The Pros and Cons of Investing?
The wait is over! India’s biggest ever Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) kicked off for subscription for retail institutional investors today, that is on 4 May. Since it's completely an offer for sale, all the proceedings will directly go to the government which is expecting to raise Rs 21,000 crores by selling a 3.5% stake of LIC, in a bid to replenish the public coffers that have been drained out by the pandemic. But moving on to the pricing details, the price band for this IPO has been set at Rs 902-949 per share for sale of 22.13 crores equity shares. There is also a discount offer of Rs 60 per share for its policyholders and Rs 45 apiece for retail investors and LIC employees. The LIC IPO will close on 9 May and the company will be listed on the stock exchange on 17 May. And the first two hours of the first day of bidding itself saw a pretty decent response with a subscription of around 28 percent by 12 noon. By the time of the recording of this podcast, it was at 58 percent. Expectedly, in the months leading up to this massive IPO listing, there's been a lot of buzz around this listing, partly because LIC which is a state-run insurance company, has been a household name in the country for several decades given that it's the biggest and the oldest insurance company in India. But after some newly listed stocks of companies Zomato, Nykaa and Paytm hit record lows after many weeks of record highs...there's also been a big question among policyholders and investors, and it is: to invest or not to invest? While that is a tricky question to answer, what are the pros and cons of investing? We'll take that question to our guest Prosenjit Datta, former editor of Businessworld and Business Today in the podcast today. We'll also hear from senior journalist Madhavan Narayanan on his take on why the government is going ahead with this IPO listing under volatile market conditions. Tune in! Host and Producer: Shorbori Purkayastha Editor: Shelly Walia Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
Unpacking the State of Freedom of Press in India
02-05-2022
Unpacking the State of Freedom of Press in India
A month after taking office in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India's "democracy will not sustain if we can't guarantee freedom of speech and expression". However, 8 years on, the freedom of one of the fundamental pillars of democracy – the press – has taken a nosedive. In 2015, the World Press Freedom Index, which is compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders, ranked India at 136 out of 180 countries. This number in 2021 reached the all-time low of 142. While India has not slipped further down the index, Reporters Without Borders continues to classify India as “bad” for journalism and termed it as one of the “world’s most dangerous countries for journalists trying to do their job properly.” A February 2022 report by the Rights and Risk Analysis group points exactly to how dangerous it is. In its India Press Freedom Report 2021, the organisation states that at least six journalists were killed and 121 journalists including 13 media houses were targeted in India just in 2021. Time and again we hear about the state of freedom of the press in India, how journalists have been selectively targeted and attacked in India for their reportage, and in some cases also for their religious identity. On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, we take a look at how press freedom in India has shrunk over the years. Joining me to unpack this, for today’s episode, are senior journalist Seema Chishti, Patricia Mukhim, the editor of the Shillong Times, and Alishan Jafri, an independent journalist who covers hate crime in India. Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram Editor: Aditya Menon Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
Explainer: Why India Is Witnessing Power Outages in a Heatwave
28-04-2022
Explainer: Why India Is Witnessing Power Outages in a Heatwave
If you, like me, have caught yourself multiple times a day complaining about how this year is hotter than the last, you are not alone. March 2022 has been India’s third warmest March since 1901 and there have been at least 26 heat waves since the start of March, which can last for anywhere between 4-10 days.  On 11 April, Delhi broke a 72-year-old record with the temperature hitting 42.6 degrees Celsius. And the absence of summer rains, which usually keeps a check on the heat, has also made the heat worse. While climate change is one of the main reasons why it is so hot, what has made it even more frustrating is the constant power cuts which are occurring across the country. As per the power ministry's own data, 14 out of 36 states and union territories are currently facing a power shortage.  And there are multiple reasons behind this power crunch, with the most obvious one being record-high power demands in this scorching heat.  As the country witnesses a revival of the economy due to declining COVID cases, businesses have started operating at full capacity, adding to the power requirement.  But the big reason behind the power cuts is the shortage of coal in India. Barely six months ago in October 2021, we saw a similar crisis, with several states facing electricity outages due to prolonged monsoon. But why is India witnessing a power crunch again in the summers? What is leading to this constant power outage? And what is causing this heat? To understand this, we spoke to Sudiep Shrivastava, Chhattisgarh-based lawyer and activist; Sanjay Vashisht, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia; and Dr Narendra Taneja, a leading energy expert. Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram Editor: Shelly Walia Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
India-UK Relations: Unpacking Main Takeaways from Boris Johnson's India Visit
22-04-2022
India-UK Relations: Unpacking Main Takeaways from Boris Johnson's India Visit
In his first visit to India since being elected United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson on 22 April said the relationship between the two countries is stronger than ever. It has taken three attempts for Johnson to finally arrive in India, having cancelled his earlier trips as the chief guest of the 2021 Republic Day and then calling his trip off again four months later in April on account of the deadly COVID second wave. However, even as her arrives in India, Johnson is being trailed by reverberations of “partygate” where the UK Parliament vote is deliberating on whether to refer him for a formal investigation into his is knowledge of parties at 10 Downing Street despite the countries strict COVID restrictions. And his first day in India on 21 April was not a smooth landing, with an outpour of outrage online against his inauguration of a JCB factory in Gujarat, just a day after bulldozers made by the company razed alleged illegal construction in Delhi’s Jahangirpuri. But despite the stumbles made by the Johnson, his visit to India since being elected to Prime Minister is important since it signals that the two countries have to a large extent let go of their legacy colonial issues, which have plagued negotiations and ties in the past. In today’s episode, we take a look at the India-UK relations and the main takeaways from UK PM Boris Johnson’s India visit. Joining me today is Vivek Mishra, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation. Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram Editor: Shorbori Purkayastha Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts:
How Jahangirpuri Demolitions Went On Despite Supreme Court Orders
21-04-2022
How Jahangirpuri Demolitions Went On Despite Supreme Court Orders
Hit by communal violence just days before, Delhi’s Jahangirpuri on 20 April saw seven bulldozers roll into the neighbourhood accompanied by heavy police deployments as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led North Delhi Municipal Corporation razed parts of shops, carts, tin sheds, homes, and the gate of a mosque. The demolition, which started around 10 am, went on for over an hour till 12:15 pm despite the Supreme Court’s directions at 11 am that the status quo be maintained. And taking notice of the disregard of its order, an apex court bench of Justices L N Rao and B R Gavai heard a clutch of petitions on 21 April, where it extended its status quo order for two more weeks and said that it would “take a serious view of all demolitions that took place after the court's decision was communicated to the mayor.” The demolition drive has left behind a trail of despair in Jahangirpuri, due to the lack of due process followed by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), with many vendors and shopkeepers asserting that they were not given any notice of the demolition drive and more so, were not even given a chance to move their carts and stalls. In today’s episode, we take a look back at what happened in Jahangirpuri on 20 April and the impact of the demolitions through The Quint’s ground reports and also take a look at the arguments made in the supreme court with The Quint’s Legal Editor, Vakasha Sachdev. Host and Producer: Himmat Shaligram Editor: Somya Lakhani Interviews: Eshwar Gole and Samarth Grover Music: Big Bang Fuzz Listen to The Big Story podcast on: Apple: Podcasts: