By Jessica Phelan
Cyclone Nilam has reached the southeast coast of India, where residents are braced for floods, power cuts and widespread damage.
Nilam made landfall south of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu state, at about 4.30 p.m. local time, NDTV reported.
It was carrying winds of up to 62mph and is said to have uprooted several trees, though no major damage has yet been reported.
Forecasters are warning people to expect a storm surge of up to 1.5 meters, high seas, gale force winds and heavy rainfall for up to 48 hours in Tamil Nadu, neighboring Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh.
India’s Meteorological Department expects “extensive damage” to vulnerable rural homes, as well as the destruction of crops.
Fishermen have been warned to stay out of the sea for at least 24 hours.
An oil tanker was stranded in rough waters in the Bay of Bengal, the Times of India reported, and a lifeboat sent to rescue the crew capsized. Six people have been brought to shore so far; another eight remain at sea.
The area in Nilam’s path houses a nuclear power plant, the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam.
The Times of India cites officials as saying that both the site’s reactors were operating safely and extra staff had been deployed to monitor key systems. The plant is designed to withstand winds of up to 160kmph (99mph), the statement said.
The region has been hit by similar disasters in the past, including the 2004 tsunami, which killed more than 12,000 people in Tamil Nadu, and last year’s Cyclone Thane, in which around 30 people died.
This latest storm will test the extra preparation measures put in place by the government at a cost of billions of rupees, the Wall Street Journal said.
Almost 4,000 people had been evacuated from Tamil Nadu by the time the storm hit, NDTV said, and hundreds of emergency shelters set up in Chennai.
Cyclone Nilam has already brought floods to Sri Lanka, which is still feeling the effects of its strong winds and rains, the BBC reported. The worst of the storm did not hit the country directly, however.
said General Ehsan Ul-Haq, Former Director of Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence. He spoke to Senior Editor Tom Hundley as part of Tom’s Pulitzer Center project on India and Pakistan’s nuclear arms race. (Watch a video compilation of some of Tom’s interviews here and continue reading for a synopsis.)
India thinks Pakistan uses its nuclear capability as a shield to hide behind while allowing proxy extremist attacks on India. Both the US and India are concerned about what would happen to the nuclear weapons if Pakistan should fail as a state, but nuclear disarmament looks like a far-off prospect.
Rajah Mohan of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi voices his concern by asking a question which he says no one has been able to answer for the last 20 years: “How does India change Pakistan army’s strategic calculus?”
Reports of a man beheading his sister in an apparent honor killing in India have garnered attention recently.
On Dec. 7, 29-year-old Mehtab Alam dragged his sister out onto the street, cut off her head in one stroke and walked to a police station with her head in his hand. The Times of India said it was the first honor killing to happen in Kolkata in decades.
The horrific news came as Indians protested in favor of stronger safety measures for women, after the 23-year-old victim of a brutal gang rape died last week.
India wasn’t the only country in the news for women’s issues.
In the United States, for the first time in 18 years, Congress did not reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.
House leadership chose to let the bill expire, balking at new provisions that would extend protections to undocumented immigrants, Native Americans and LGBT individuals.
In Indonesia, the city of Lhokseumawe ruled that female passengers are only allowed to ride side-saddle.
But after all that bad news, here’s a look at what women did achieve in 2012:
Shilpa Jamkhandikar at Reuters writes:
“If you thought the Delhi gang rape would cause a serious debate on women’s rights in India, you’d be half right. Let’s look at the other half: last December’s brutal incident seems to have put a spell on India’s politicians, holy men and otherwise educated people.
From suggesting that the rape victim should have called her rapists ‘brother’ to blaming her stars, plenty of reasons cited for the crime lay the blame on the women whom men brutalize, or portray women in ways that reveal our skewed attitude toward women and their place in our society. When given an opportunity to figure out ways to improve the education and behavior of men, and thus try to reduce the number of rapes that occur in India, many people revert to the more traditional method: limit the rights of women.”
Indian women participate in a candlelight vigil protesting a leader of the ruling Congress Party on accusations he raped a woman in a village in Gauhati, India, Jan. 4, 2013. (Anupam Nath/AP)
|—||The response of a doctor to a woman in India who was “bloodied and soiled after she had been raped.” Fixing India’s Rape Problem - The Daily Beast|
As the doctors cautiously revealed the details of injuries inflicted on the young woman, who needed a gut transplant as her intestines had been torn by iron rods, thousands of students from colleges and universities in the city gathered in a spontaneous protest in Delhi. Anger spread like a heat wave. In my years in Delhi as a student and a reporter, the protests against the various instances of sexual assault would be attended and lead by left-leaning women’s organizations student groups. India’s conservative middle and upper-middle classes mostly stayed home. This was different…
Basharat Peer on the fury in Delhi after the rape and murder of the 23-year old unnamed victim: http://nyr.kr/YSQPOw
Photograph by Rakash Singh/AFP/Getty.