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Voices across borders: a note from the editor

From the plight of the Baltis along the LoC to the farmer protests, this issue of Lounge looks at forms of community engagement

The Balti community has endured separations across the Indo-Pak border.
The Balti community has endured separations across the Indo-Pak border.

Nearly 50 years ago, in December, some members of an ethnic group of Tibetan descent became Indians overnight. As the border changed, five villages, now 2.5km from the Line of Control along the Shyok river in Ladakh, were incorporated into India during the 1971 war with Pakistan. This was the Balti community’s “third Partition”, as they call it, separated from the rest of Baltistan across the border, where most of their relatives, lands and cultural roots remain. Our cover story this week explores the loss and longing the community feels while trying to preserve its culture for a younger generation. They are setting up museums not just to showcase their ancient links to the Silk Route but also recent history, while social media helps take their poetry and music to bigger audiences.

It’s a similar desire to tell one’s own tale, in one’s own words, that reflects in an interview with Yogesh Maitreya, poet and publisher. He started his own imprint because he felt no one was amplifying Bahujan and Dalit voices. To tell the stories that were missing needed someone like him, who not only understood the context and history but also the experience. This lack of real representation is also a reason why Bollywood portrays Adivasis either as violent Naxals or happy-go-lucky wraiths living in harmony with nature, as our review of the web series Naxalbari points out. It’s the same desire for representation that’s prompting farmers to unite across borders, lean on the generosity of strangers, and protest new farm laws, our ground report shows.

There’s another anniversary to mark this week: It’s five years since countries settled on the Paris Climate Change Agreement. Lounge analyses where it failed, where it worked, and the way ahead. What’s significant is that it recognised the threat climate change poses. Until then, it was up to the worst affected, who tended to be small in size and might, to prove to larger powers that a half-degree temperature rise would make a world of difference.

Write to the Lounge editor @shalinimb

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