Tapasya

Tapasya is a journalist writing about policy and resource governance. They are interested in reporting on local and hyperlocal issues in the context of larger political structures, with a focus on Jammu and Kashmir. An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi (2018-19), they have previously written for The Diplomat, StoriesAsia and The Third Pole. Tapasya enjoys writing poetry and watching films in their free time.

WRITER CREDITS

January 25, 2024

An Algorithm Declares Them Dead; Thousands Fight To Prove They Are Alive

Haryana used the state’s Family ID database and algorithms to identify genuine beneficiaries of welfare schemes. The database wrongly listed thousands of citizens as dead. Result: They lost their pensions. The Collective’s Tapasya travelled to Haryana to understand how states are using artificial intelligence in an unintelligent way, at a cost to citizens. She writes along with Kumar Sambhav and Divij Joshi. The story was produced with support from the Pulitzer Center’s AI Accountability Network.

January 24, 2024

How an Algorithm Denied Food to Thousands of Poor in Telangana

Telangana used an algorithm to build 360-degree profiles of citizens and decide whether they were eligible for state's welfare. The profiles were faulty. As a result, subsidised food was denied to thousands of poor. The state government knew of the blunder, but did not fix it. The Collective’s member Tapasya travelled to the state to understand how states are using artificial intelligence in an unintelligent way, at the cost of citizens. They report along with Kumar Sambhav and Divij Joshi. The story was produced with support from the Pulitzer Center’s AI Accountability Network.

EDITOR CREDITS

Technology

January 2024

Algorithms of Exclusion

In the past few years, at least half a dozen states have adopted profiling software to predict the eligibility of citizens for welfare schemes. These algorithms have wrongly declared the alive as dead, the poor as well-off, the disabled as able-bodied, robbing thousands of subsidised food, old-age pension, disability pension, widow pensions, and other welfare benefits for the poor. An investigation into how states are using artificial intelligence in an unintelligent way, at the cost of citizens. With support from the Pulitzer Center’s AI Accountability Network.

Environment

November 2023

Patanjali’s shadow real-estate empire

Hidden in plain sight, the Patanjali business empire is functioning as a dubious real-estate agency buying and selling forested lands in the fragile Aravalli mountain range through a web of shell companies.

Environment

September 2023

Forests for Profit

This investigative series exposes how the Modi government favoured commercial interests over forest conservation and indigenous rights while abandoning the long-delayed National Forest Policy. Just after taking office, it aimed to open forests for private plantations, culminating in the 2023 amendments to the Forest (Conservation) Act. These changes prioritize profit over biodiversity, granting private businesses access to India's forests. The amendment limits protection to recognized forests, endangering large swathes of potential unofficial forestland. These investigations reveal a troubling pattern of forest exploitation, corporate interests, and indigenous rights neglect.

Governance

December 2022

After foreign fund curbs, Modi gov’t squeezes domestic fundraisers of NGOs

Union government asks two prominent nonprofits to quit seeking donations in areas where the government runs schemes.

Governance

September 2022

Paper trail debunks environment minister’s claim, proves his ministry had been planning to dilute tribal rights over forests

Internal files of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change reveal it had been planning to weaken tribal rights over forests since 2019. Modi government’s new Forest Conservation Rules made it easier for industries to grab their traditional homelands.

Environment

September 2022

How to beat environmental laws? Vedanta shows you how

Vedanta’s pig iron industry in Goa got clearance to expand despite being caught emitting dangerous substance for more than a decade. It went to great lengths to dodge environmental laws and avoid paying for pollution mitigation efforts.

Governance

June 2022

Centre Makes Aadhaar Must For Free Meals Under Nutrition Mission

The move could stop millions of poor children without Aadhaar from having healthy meal, and violates a Supreme Court order that no subsidy or service may be denied to children for want of Aadhaar

Governance

June 2022

To discredit WHO’s Covid death estimates, the Union government used flawed data

The Union government used a flawed set of data to mask the gloomier death count calculated by the UN body, and ignored a robust number thrown up by another of its own survey. The data was so unreliable that 20 of the 36 states and Union territories saw more registered deaths than what the government claims died.

Environment

March 2022

In Jammu Illegal River Mining Crackdown, Offenders Have It Easy

Former J&K BJP legislator Vikram Randhawa accused BJP's Union minister Jitendra Singh of profiting from corruption in Jammu's mining department after being being slapped with Rs 96 lakh penalty for illegal river mining. The accusations were withdrawn and guns holstered. But penalty documents and inquiry committee reports reveal how Jammu's mining department abandoned penalties worth Rs 6.68 crore on stone crushers operating illegally around Tawi and how miners had it easy.

Governance

January 2022

Pandemic Found Them, Compensation May Not

Through death register data obtained from across the country, The Reporters’ Collective estimates that in the pandemic 3,59,496 more people died than in a normal year in just 3 states where officially only 28,609 died of Covid. Experts fear relatives of thousands of Covid-19 victims will be excluded from compensation due to lack of medical records, poor testing and red-tape despite the Centre initiating compensation procedure on the instructions of the Supreme Court.

Governance

August 2021

Gujarat's Real Covid Tragedy Revealed: Data Suggests At Least 2.8 Lakh Excess Deaths During Pandemic

Data from thousands of pages of death registers maintained by municipalities in Gujarat show an excess death count of 16,892 for just 6% of the state's population during the pandemic. When projected across the state, the figure zooms to a staggering 281,000.

Governance

August 2021

Flawed Reform: How Modi Govt's New Coal Auction Regime Robs Chhattisgarh of Rs 900 Crore a Year

Under its commercial coal mining auctions, the Modi govt has sold off at least two coal blocks for rates cheaper than their 2015 prices. As a result Chhattisgarh will end up losing Rs 900 crore every year and over Rs 24,000 crore over decades.

Environment

July 2024

Uttarakhand gov’t snatches forest conservation funds, outsources policing and royalty collection from riverbed miners to private players

Ignoring the conflict of interest, the BJP government has encouraged tax-collecting private companies to also mine the rivers in the ecologically-fragile Himalayan state. All done in the name of preventing disasters.

Finance

May 2024

रामदेव और उनके सहयोगियों की टैक्स-फ्री चैरिटेबल संस्था बनी पतंजलि समूह पर कब्जा बनाए रखने का जरिया

पतंजलि ने योग और आयुर्वेद को बढ़ावा देने के लिए एक चैरिटेबल संस्था की स्थापना की। इसने सालों तक कोई चैरिटी कार्य नहीं किया। इसके बजाय इसका इस्तेमाल बढ़ते कारोबार को मजबूत करने के लिए किया गया।

Finance

May 2024

How Baba Ramdev and associates used a tax-free charity to park Patanjali investments and funds

Patanjali set up a charitable entity to promote yoga and ayurveda. For years no charity work was undertaken. Instead it was used to consolidate the expanding business.

Governance

February 2024

इलेक्टोरल बांड युग का अंत, लेकिन सरकार इकठ्ठा कर रही है हर पार्टी को मिले चंदे की जानकारी

आयकर विभाग ने डोनर्स से नकद, चेक या किसी भी अन्य माध्यम से राजनैतिक दलों को दिए गए हर डोनेशन का विवरण देने को कहा है। प्रवर्तन एजेंसियों के पास जल्द ही यह डेटा होगा, लेकिन अंधेरे में रहेंगे नागरिक।

Governance

February 2024

Electoral Bonds era ends. But gov’t is now collecting details of every donation to each political party

The Income Tax department has asked donors to divulge details of all contributions made to political parties through cash, cheque, or any other mode. Enforcement agencies will soon have this data, but the citizens will stay in the dark.

Governance

December 2023

'ईज़ ऑफ़ बिज़नेस' की दौड़ में हरियाणा ने प्रदूषण कंट्रोल बोर्ड और नियमों को किया कमज़ोर

नियामक एजेंसी प्रदूषण नियंत्रण बोर्ड को मुख्यमंत्री की मांग पर एक सेवा-प्रदाता बना दिया गया। जिससे उद्योगों को मंजूरी देने के लिए अधिकारियों पर अवास्तविक समयसीमा का दबाव पड़ा वहीं इससे चूकने पर उनके खिलाफ दंडात्मक कार्रवाई भी की गई।

Governance

December 2023

Haryana weakens pollution watchdog and rules in race for ease of doing business supremacy

On Chief Minister’s demand, the pollution control board, a regulatory agency, was turned into a service provider. The move imposed unrealistic deadlines in granting approvals to industry, coupled with penal action on officials missing the tight deadlines.

Environment

November 2023

हरियाणा सरकार ने रखा अरावली को संरक्षण से बाहर, पतंजलि ने चुपचाप किया विशाल वनभूमि का व्यापार

हरियाणा सरकार ने अरावली की वनभूमि के संरक्षण के कई कानूनी रास्ते बंद किए। इससे पतंजलि की शेल कंपनियों को इनकी खरीद-फरोख्त करके भारी मुनाफा कमाने का अवसर मिला।

Environment

November 2023

संदिग्ध शेल कंपनियों के ज़रिए पतंजलि ग्रुप ने फैलाया रियल-एस्टेट कारोबार

पतंजलि समूह ने संदिग्ध फर्जी कंपनियों का एक जाल बिछाया, जिसके ज़रिए पैसे का हेर-फेर करके अरावली में वनभूमि खरीद कर फिर उसे रियल एस्टेट के रूप में बेचा गया।

Environment

November 2023

As Haryana kept Aravallis unprotected, Patanjali quietly traded forestland

Haryana govt blocked multiple legal routes to protect Aravalli's forest lands. This allowed Patanjali's shell companies to earn super-profits by trading in them

Environment

November 2023

Patanjali Group spawned dubious shell companies for lucrative real estate business

Patanjali Group employed a web of dubious shell companies that funnelled money to buy Aravalli forestland and sell it as real estate.

Environment

September 2023

लुप्त जंगल

1996 में SC ने केंद्र और राज्यों से कहा कि भारत की सभी वनों की पहचान कर उन्हें संरक्षित किया जाए। 27 साल गुजरने के बावजूद उन्होंने यह काम पूरा नहीं किया। अब, केंद्र के नए वन कानून ने उन वनों के संरक्षण को खत्म कर दिया है जिन्हें कागजों पर मान्यता प्राप्त नहीं है।

Environment

September 2023

Forests Deleted

In 1996, the Supreme Court asked the Union government and states to identify and protect all of India’s forests. For 27 years, they did not complete the job. Now, the Centre’s new forest law has removed protection for forests not recognised on paper.

Environment

September 2023

2015 में शुरू हुई जद्दोजहद को पूरा करने के लिए मोदी सरकार ने कारोबारियों के लिए खोल दिया जंगल

दस्तावेज़ों से पता चलता है कि मोदी सरकार ने जंगलों को व्यावसायिक पौधारोपण के लिए खोलने की योजना पर काम कार्यभार संभालने के तुरंत बाद ही शुरू कर दिया था। हालाँकि इसे आदिवासी अधिकारों और जंगलों को नुकसान पहुँचाने के लिए विरोध का सामना करना पड़ा, लेकिन हाल ही में वन (संरक्षण) अधिनियम संशोधन के माध्यम से यह योजना सफल हुई।

Environment

September 2023

Modi gov’t unlocks forests for business, a pursuit that began in 2015

Modi govt's dogged pursuit of a plan to open forests for commercial plantation began shortly after taking office, documents show. Though it faced pushback for hurting tribal rights and forests, the plan reached a fruition through the recent Forest (Conservation)Act amendment.

Environment

September 2023

एक खोखला आश्वासन: कैसे मोदी सरकार ने वन संरक्षण से मोड़ लिया मुंह

केंद्र सरकार ने नई वन नीति लाने का अपना वादा नहीं निभाया। यह वादा निभाने की बजाए वन संरक्षण कानूनों में ऐसा बदलाव किया जैसा वह चाहती थी।

Environment

September 2023

A hollow assurance: How Modi govt turned its back on forest conservation

Centre abandoned promise of a new forest policy. Instead chose to cut the laws on conservation down to the size it desired.

Environment

July 2023

As CM lobbied, Centre went against rules, courts to allow river mining in Uttarakhand

Before the onset of monsoon, Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami personally lobbied with the Centre to keep mining four rivers. The Centre, ruled by his fellow partymen, fulfilled his demand in breach of critical environmental safeguards.

Governance

June 2023

India fumbles towards a carbon market

Will India allow industries to sell carbon credits in the international market at a cost to the country? The upcoming national carbon market postpones answering this fundamental question.

Governance

June 2023

Meet Uttarakhand leaders targeting Muslims, while police turn a blind eye

Police and Administration dismiss threats asking Muslims of Purola town to leave as media hype, but The Collective finds in plain sight leaders targeting Muslims, and maps rising hate crimes that are turning the state into a communal tinderbox

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