Vidya Venkat

Vidya Venkat

Senior Assistant Editor, The Hindu. Formerly, Media Officer at CHRI. Felix scholar, SOAS, London, '12

Reclaiming the Republic

Essay written on the occasion of India's 70th Republic Day

Economic & Political Weekly / January 2019

Living between worlds

Long reportage on the Tibetan exile community entering 60 years in India, including an exclusive interview with the Dalai Lama

The Hindu Sunday Magazine / June 2018

Cauvery, a river in distress

Long reportage on how the Cauvery River is facing an existential crisis even as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu fight it out in Court to control its waters...

The Hindu / May 2018

Kashmir's information warriors

Reportage on how ordinary citizens are using the RTI Act to demand accountability from the government in J&K. It describes how in one major instance they even managed to push the Indian Army out of a meadow in Budgam.

The Hindu Sunday Magazine / January 2018

Towards the flame

Book Review of "Revolutionary violence versus democracy" edited by Ajay Gudavarthy. The book is a critical appraisal of the Maoist movement.

The Hindu / November 2017

CIC backlog grows as vacancies remain unfilled

Reportage on poor implementation of Right to Information (RTI) law due to huge backlog of cases at the Central Information Commission, the apex court-like body hearing pending information appeals

The Hindu / September 2017

Tamil Nadu's granary losing substantial ground

Long reportage on how climate change and anthropogenic factors are having a detrimental effect on the Cauvery delta region, based on findings of a study spanning almost four decades

The Hindu / July 2017

Doctor, artist, conservationist

Interview with doctor-turned-conservationist Pramod Patil on the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard and how it is now in the Indian Army firing line

The Hindu Sunday Magazine / June 2017

Rights to the Forest

Book Review of 'Democracy in the Woods: Environmental Conservation and Social Justice in India, Tanzania and Mexico" by Prakash Kashwan

The Hindu / April 2017

Will Budget 2017-18 help double farmers income?

Analysis on budget 2017-18 provisions for agriculture, to show how they might not really help double the incomes of farmers as claimed by the government; includes interviews with experts

The Hindu / February 2017

Missing the bull's eye

Long read in which I show how the present debate on Jallikattu reveals the widening gap between an urban animal-rights activist concern and a rural-conservation ethic

The Hindu THread / January 2017

The limits of liberty

Opinion piece on how Indian women cannot exercise their liberty to walk the streets, despite all the talk of emancipation

The Hindu THread / January 2017

In the eye of the storm

Reflective piece on the experience of Cyclone Vardah in Chennai, and how our "modern way of life" is both vulnerable to and a causative factor of climate change.

The Hindu THread / December 2016

"India lifts ban on porn but blocks documentary on rape"

Interview with filmmaker Leslee Udwin on the one-and-a-half-year-old ban on 'India's Daughter', a documentary she made on the December 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape, which the Delhi High Court recently declined to lift.

The Hindu / August 2016

The story of Kudankulam: From 1988 to 2016

A backgrounder on the Kudankulam nuclear power project, written in the context of the dedication ceremony in which PM Modi, Russian President Putin and Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa participated.

The Hindu / August 2016

Mahasweta Devi is not dead

Reflective essay on a meeting with the great writer. I also elaborate on her contribution to literature and activism quoting experts who have known her personally.

The Hindu THread / August 2016

Have we lost it?

Reportage on Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Amitav Ghosh discussing climate change at the Chennai launch of his new non-fiction work The Great Derangement

The Hindu Metroplus / August 2016

Gandhi, in his own words

An article recounting my experience of attending a winter school on Gandhian thought in IIAS, Shimla, taught by Tridip Suhrud, for which we read Gandhi in original to probe the intentions behind his various actions. / January 2016

Nothing 'British' about the Brits

In this short essay I reflect on the findings of an ethnographic study on British food and culture, in the post-Brexit scenario, asking what is uniquely 'British' about the Brits that Brexiters are trying to salvage?

The Hindu / June 2016

Vermin or victim?

Explainer on why culling wild animals might not be the best way to resolve man-animal conflict, featuring interviews with wildlife experts

The Hindu / June 2016

Disappearing source of the Ganga

Reportage on the retreat of Gangotri glacier, source of the River Ganga. Story was based on a trek to Gaumukh, the snout of the glacier.

The Hindu and The Third Pole / June 2016

Is the mighty Ganga drying up?

Reportage with exclusive data on historically low inflow of water recorded in the Ganga river at Farakka, with scientists explaining why the river is dying slowly.

The Hindu / April 2016

'We exaggerate the lives of our historical subjects'

Interview with author Sunil Khilnani on his latest work 'Incarnations: India in 50 lives' in which he speaks about the perils of mythologising historical subjects and how Hindutva poses a threat to the "idea of India" as a pluralistic nation

The Hindu / March 2016

The 'good' elephant and the 'bad' elephant

Reflective, narrative piece of reportage on man-elephant conflict in two Indian states - Karnataka and Tamil Nadu - with an attempt at decoding violent animal behaviour

The Hindu / January 2016

A New Year's Resolution from Paris 2015

Reflective essay on the complex interconnections between climate change and terrorism and how the two are the consequence of the plunder of fossil fuels by rich nations of the world

The Hindu / January 2016

The Goddess Behind the Tattoo

In Bengaluru, an Austrialian tourist was threatened by BJP goons for sporting the tattoo of Goddess Yellamma. I went in search of the story of the Goddess herself and the cult she inspired...

The Hindu / November 2015

A fig leaf for the world's woes

Seventy years after it was found, the United Nations continues to function on a budget lesser than that of New York city's. What is it hoping to achieve?

The Hindu / October 2015

Raising wages can boost growth in India: ILO

Interview with ILO's Deputy Director General (Policy) Sandra Polaski on global economic slowdown, need to raise minimum wages, Modi govt's controversial labour reforms and improving female labour force participation

The Hindu / October 2015

Coca Cola and its water replenishment claims

Coca Cola's global campaign claims to have returned the water it uses to manufacture its products, back to the nature and to the communities. The story investigates the reliability of these claims and finds them not so tenable.

The Hindu / September 2015

The Sacred and the Profane

A magazine feature on the dichotomy between Indian pilgrims worshipping the River Ganga as their mother goddess and their willingness to pollute it all the same.

The Hindu Sunday Magazine / May 2015

Jayapura rides crest of development boom

News feature on the village PM Modi adopted and the sudden development boom by private and CSR agencies here at the cost of ignoring state-led interventions

The Hindu / May 2015

Rs. 20,000 crore and a 'holy' river

First in a series on the Clean Ganga campaign of Modi government. This one's a ground report from Varanasi, PM Modi's Lok Sabha constituency after his govt completed a year in office.

The Hindu / May 2015

The farmer's 'mann ki baat'

In this op-ed I draw attention to dissenting voices of farmers reeling under the agrarian crisis, against the Modi govt's proposed land acquisition Bill, in the form of a response to the PM's Mann Ki Baat radio address to them on the subject

The Hindu / May 2015

In Haryana, a bitter harvest

Report calling the bluff of Agriculture Minister in Lok Sabha of there being zero farmer suicides in Haryana

The Hindu / April 2015

Kabul woman turns icon against bigotry

Report on Afghanistan's First Lady Rula Ghani narrating the story of how Farkhunda's lynching has sparked a movement against religious bigotry in that country

The Hindu / April 2015

Demand to declassify Bose files hots up

Reportage on controversial allegations of snooping by Nehru on Netaji Bose's family, subsequent demands to declassify secret files concerning Bose & the charges of historical prejudice by Congress towards Bose's contribution to the freedom struggle.

The Hindu / April 2015

Trapped lives

A blog entry based on an encounter in 2009 with women trafficked for sex work from Bangladesh to India.

Self-published / April 2015

Much Ado About Nothing

In which I reflect on the absurdity of a fringe Hindu outfit bombing a TV station office (Puthiya Thalaimurai) in Chennai for attempting a debate on the significance of the 'thaali', a sacred necklace for married women.

The Hindu / March 2015

No Country for Women

An article for the Women's Day special page, on whether empowering laws against sexual violence have changed the ground reality for women in India and the unfinished agenda of judicial reform. Written in the post Dec 16, 2012 context.

The Hindu / March 2015

Paisa, power & politics

In this op-ed, I discuss how Aam Aadmi Party won despite not having much money to flaunt in comparison to its adversaries in the Delhi polls. I further argue why it is high time political parties adopt accountability measures for party funding

The Hindu / February 2015

Charlie Hebdo cartoons are bigoted

Interview with Columbia academic Mahmood Mamdani on the Charlie Hebdo episode in which 10 staff members of the French satirical magazine were killed in a terror attack in Paris in response to "blasphemous" cartoons portraying Prophet Mohammed.

The Hindu / January 2015

'Arab Spring has now turned into a winter'

Interview with renowned Lebanese academic Gilbert Achcar, author of The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising (2013), on the struggle for democratisation in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Hindu / December 2014

Making India Inc. Accountable

Op-ed on why corporate accountability is crucial for addressing India's black money concerns. Written in response to Switzerland envoy's comment that India must show proof of fraud before seeking information on illegal wealth of Indians in Swiss banks

The Hindu / December 2014

Conservatism or cultural hypocrisy?

In this article, written as part of the Sunday story package on the Kiss of Love protest, I question whether the opposition to it smacks of cultural hypocrisy.

The Hindu / November 2014

30 years after the Bhopal gas tragedy

In this article I look at the lessons that have not been learnt from the Bhopal gas leak incident which went down in history as one of the worst industrial disasters

The Hindu / November 2014

Modi acting like a CEO: Jairam Ramesh

Interaction with Congress leader and former Union environment & rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on the NDA govt's land acquisition ordinance.

The Hindu / May 2015

Have freebies and bribes depoliticised voters?

In this article I examine whether offers of freebies and bribes to voters has resulted in their co-option by major political parties in Tamil Nadu. Written in the context of the continuing sympathy and support for J. Jayalalithaa after her conviction.

The Hindu / October 2014

Colonial yoke or bureaucratic insouciance?

In this article I discuss whether Indian officialdom can still afford to offer the excuse of 'Blame the British' for the country's woes. Written in the context of Modi government's move to repeal colonial-era laws.

The Hindu / September 2014

Discretion, the better part of valour

In this opinion article I argue that in order not to deter whistle-blowing, past court observations should encourage a debate on the need to remain discreet about the identity of informers in high-profile corruption cases.

The Hindu / September 2014

U.S. monopoly over the Internet must go

Interview with Louis Pouzin, a pioneer of the Internet and recipient of the Chevalier of Légion d’Honneur, the highest civilian decoration of the French government.

The Hindu / September 2014

Long Road to Justice

The second part of the series on the Supreme Court-mandated Victim Compensation Fund. This story focusses on delays in police investigations/court proceedings while addressing crimes against women.

The Hindu / August 2014 / [Pdf , 551 KB]

Ignorance or apathy?

First in a two-part series on the Supreme Court-mandated Victim Compensation Fund for victims of sexual offences, acid attacks, et al. In this story I focus on sexual crimes against children.

The Hindu / August 2014

The Nowhere People

An article on how Australia violated the UN Refugee Convention in its handling of 157 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. I also analyse data on how very few refugees have opted to return to their home country after the war ended in 2009.

The Hindu / August 2014 / [Pdf , 848 KB]

Silent Crime

An article analysing sex ratio at birth data to establish how sex-selective abortions continue to be a silent crime.

The Hindu / July 2014

Nature and nationalism

Book review of 'Green and Saffron: Hindu Nationalism and Indian Environmental Politics' by Mukul Sharma, with a focus on Anna Hazare's mobilisations in Ralegan Siddhi.

Biblio - A Review of Books / January 2012 / [Pdf , 75.5 KB]

A Timely Treatise

Book Review of 'Out of This Earth: East India Adivasis and the Aluminium Cartel' by anthropologist Felix Padel and social activist Samarendra Das describing the consequences of bauxite mining in the tribal habitations of East India.

Biblio - A Review of Books / July 2010 / [Pdf , 22.7 KB]

A Valentine's Day Punishment

This article condemns the decision to sign the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law in Uganda by President Yoweri Museveni and refers to it as another development in the worrying practice of penalising homosexual conduct, which is a legacy of colonial-era law

Pambazuka News / February 2014

Political Control Over the Delhi Police

A short policy paper on the debate as to whether the Delhi Police should be brought under the state government raised during Arvind Kejriwal's protest as Delhi Chief Minister.

NIPSA, Hosted by CHRI / January 2014

The Malaise is Systemic

Op-ed on the urgent need for police reforms in West Bengal which tops in crimes against women as per National Crime Records Bureau statistics.

The Statesman / January 2014 / [Jpg , 701 KB]

Commonwealth Must Honour Its Own Commitments

Op-ed on why Sri Lanka is unfit to chair the Commonwealth. Published ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo in Nov. '13

Groundviews (Republished in Ceylon Today) / November 2013

Foreign and Forgotten

Opinion article on how despite adequate laws, hundreds of foreigners are stuck in overcrowded prisons across India and what needs to be done.

Open / May 2013

The Politics of Labeling

A crtitique of the manner in which prime-time TV represented the Maoist crisis in India, sidelining the views of human rights advocates and pressing for a military solution to the problem. / June 2013

The Commonwealth Challenge

A briefing paper for the media on the human rights violations in Sri Lanka which makes it a challenge for the Commonwealth.

CHRI / March 2013

India's development paradox explained

Book Review of anthropologist Akhil Gupta's 'Red Tape - Bureaucracy, Structural Violence and Poverty in India' on how bureaucratic hurdles affect the efficiency of anti-poverty programmes.

Biblio - A Review of Books / September 2012 / [Pdf , 79.3 KB]

Of Anti-corruption Mantras and the Poor

Written during the Jan Lokpal movement in 2011 when effective anti-corruption measures were being debated widely in the mainstream press, I ask whether the recommended measures such as Jan Lokpal, RTI and social audit would work for the poor.

Governance Now / September 2011 / [Pdf , 799 KB]

Sewer Rats

Reportage on deaths of sewerage workers and how there is a lack of data on occupational health and safety of sanitation workers in India.

Infochange Agenda / April 2009

Every Refugee Longs to Return Home

Interview with S.C. Chandrahasan of OfeRR, an organisation working for Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu, on their aspirations after the conclusion of the civil war.

The Hindu / May 2009

Migrants without votes

Election reportage on migrant workers being left out of the poll process

The Hindu / April 2009

From the Shadows

Narrative article on the transgender community's struggle for rights and the welfare measures introduced by the Tamil Nadu government for them.

Frontline / February 2008

An Act of Faith

Narrative article on Sharifa Khanam's struggle to build a mosque dedicated to Muslim women in Tamil Nadu.

Frontline / April 2008

Voice of Silence

Interview with Shamita Das Dasgupta, co-founder of Manavi, an NGO working on domestic violence in the US.

Frontline / January 2008

Dow Shalt Pay

Article on how civil society groups resist Dow Chemical’s bid to evade liability for the Bhopal gas disaster as the government seeks to absolve it.

Frontline / December 2007

Jenita's Tale

Reportage on the return to India of a marital abuse victim Smalin Jenita, who was in the US with her husband. It discusses the perils of NRI marriages.

Frontline / December 2007

Off Course?

Feature article on the debate surrounding the sycophantic move to introduce a course dedicated to 'Kalaignar' Karunanidhi by the University of Madras.

The Hindu / November 2009

Campus Politics

Reportage on Thevar-Dalit caste clash in Chennai Law College

The Hindu / November 2008

Caught in a Weave

Reportage on exploitation of young women garment mill workers in the textile belt of Tamil Nadu under the 'Sumangali scheme'

Frontline / October 2007

Bird Watching

Profile of Theodore Baskaran, a wildlife conservationist, on his passion for birding.

Harmony Magazine / April 2007

In Deep Water

Narrative article with pictures about an island doomed by an infrastructure project in Pondicherry.

Personal blog / October 2012

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