Puja Bhattacharjee

Writer | Documenter | Visual Storyteller

Location icon India

I am an independent journalist based in Kolkata, India. I cover health, politics, public policy, environment, science, art and culture. If you have any tips write to me at pujabhattach@gmail.com.


Impacts of COVID-19

People's Archive of Rural India
Lallan Paswan: trying to pull on in Kolkata

When Lallan Paswan first tried to learn how to manoeuvre a hand-pulled rickshaw, other rickshaw pullers sat in the back like passengers to help him practice. "When I lifted the [front end of the] rickshaw for the first time and tried to take it forward, I couldn't do it," he says.

People's Archive of Rural India
Lockdown lays waste to Kalu Das's scrap work

Some weeks ago, Kalu Das - who travels from his village to Kolkata to collect items for recycling - resumed his rounds. But business is bleak, profits are tiny, his wife has lost her job, and the family is struggling #RuralIndiaOnline

People's Archive of Rural India
Under the over in a time of cyclone and corona

Even when the howling wind and torrential rain brought by Cyclone Amphan was causing havoc around her on May 20, Sabita Sardar was not afraid. "We are used to dealing with bad weather. I wasn't feeling scared. In fact, those who live in concrete homes were more scared," she said.

Role of NGOs in the COVID-19 Crisis - Y-East

The social and economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic continues as governments around the world grapple with the crisis. When the first COVID-19 case was reported in India in January, WHO and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare issued a list of basic protective measures against the disease.

The Quint
Surviving COVID-19: Struggles of Homeless India

She resides under a flyover in the busy Gariahat area of Kolkata. After breastfeeding her son, she hands him over to her mother Sabita Sardar and leaves for work. Cradling the baby, Sardar slowly sits down on a piece of cardboard. "Mampi found a cleaning job in two local shops.

Health & Science

A new digital health clinic on a boat is addressing Sundarbans' healthcare challenges

An older study done in 2010 by the Institute of Health Management Research in Jaipur found that Sundarbans suffered from poor health indices. At the time, about half of the children below the age of five years were malnourished; the general morbidity rate was higher than in the rest of the state and there was a high reliance on quacks.

The Swaddle
Scientists to Test An Antibiotic to Treat Women With Endometriosis

Researchers at The Washington University School of Medicine, in the U.S. have found metronidazole, an antibiotic, can inhibit the growth of endometriosis in mice by regulating the mice's gut microbiome. The finding opens up the potential of a new, cost-effective treatment for women with endometriosis.

Ozone pollution from Asia isn't well understood, but may be damaging Arctic plants- Technology...

Ozone pollution in the Arctic can take anywhere between a few days to several weeks and months through slower mixing in the high latitude troposphere, says Professor Frode Stordal, Department of Geosciences, University in Oslo (UiO). "Ozone can be formed in Asia and transported to the Arctic, or the ozone precursors can be transported to the Arctic and ozone being formed there.

Nerf guns can pose serious eye risk, doctors warn

But in a report published Monday in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports, doctors warn that popular toy Nerf guns really can put eyes at risk. The case report details three unrelated cases within three months treated in the Moorfields Eye Hospital accident and emergency department in London.

Fan sues Cubs, MLB after ball blinds him in one eye

"I am trying to protect others from going through what I and my family are going through," John Loos said at a news conference in Chicago on Monday. During a Chicago Cubs-Pittsburgh Pirates game on August 29, Loos was hit by a ball traveling at high speed.

How does your child's screen time measure up?

The Parent Curve offers a look at the norms and numbers around tough decisions parents face. Where are you on the curve? The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that overuse of digital media and screens can put children and teens at risk of obesity, sleep problems, cyberbullying and negative performance at school.

Children still being prescribed codeine, despite warnings

Between 2010 and 2015, doctors collected data on more than 350,000 privately insured children up to 18 years old who had undergone those surgical procedures. They monitored the children's prescriptions for codeine and alternative opioids. Codeine, an opioid pain reliever, came under scrutiny due to its adverse effects on children.

Epilepsy is personal for 'Hamilton' star

"She wasn't developing on a regular trajectory," said Cervantes, who stars as Alexander Hamilton in the hit musical theater production "Hamilton" in Chicago. Soon after, Adelaide had a seizure. "Then the terminology 'epilepsy' starts coming into the conversation about what's wrong with her," he said.

Cholera cases in Yemen could reach 1 million this year

Alexandre Faite, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Yemen, described the scale of the outbreak as "unprecedented" on Friday. Faite said the number of suspected cases there stands at about 750,000 -- up from almost 276,000 as of July 5.

Cancer drugs from chicken eggs may lower costs

They have successfully genetically modified hens to produce eggs containing large amounts of interferon beta protein, a protein used to treat various illnesses, including multiple sclerosis and cancer. The protein is very expensive, costing between $300-$1000 for just one microgram, according to pharmaceutical company, Cosmo Bio who co-led the research.

Beware these Halloween safety ghouls

Cloee Cooper, a research analyst in Boston, remembers it that way. "You get to dress up as someone else, walk all over town, attend haunted house parties and celebrations at school," she said. But Coopersays that when she was growing up in Mount Shasta, California, her parents had a few rules: "Don't go inside a person's house unless you know them.

3D printed bone may hold key to treating birth defects and accidents

Featured Image: A portion of 3D printed spine from hyperelastic bone The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that each year, about 2,650 babies are born with a cleft palate and 4,440 babies are born with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate in the United States.

Sodium-Ion Batteries May Power the Next Big Break In Tech

When researchers at Northwestern University started researching sodium-ion batteries, they had one uniform goal - find commonly abundant materials for a cheap alternative to lithium ion batteries. The depletion of lithium sources makes it essential to find alternative sources of battery power - soon.

Fraser Stoddart: The Man Behind the Celebrity

Molecular machines can perform tasks such as removing toxins from chaotic environments. But Stoddart's lab is a haven of tidiness and order. SHyNE spoke to members of his research team at Northwestern University to get know the mentor for whom they work.

Medill Reports Chicago
Severe storms lab developing remote flash flood sensing system

Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, the oldest church camp in Oklahoma, hosts more than 50,000 kids and teens who come for summer camp each year. Falls Creek originates from the Washita River in Murray County and flows directly into the campgrounds named for it.

Medill Reports Chicago
Building a better tornado warning system

People start trickling into the National Severe Storms Laboratory holding coffee cups and laptops. By 8 a.m., eight people fill a room for the Spring Experiment. The laboratory in Norman, Okla., is open all year. But now it's tornado season.

Live Blogs & Personal Essays

The Wire
The Time to Reach Out to Your Muslim Friends is Now

As the Delhi riots raged, I realised that sometimes remembering to reach out to people can be a powerful expression of solidarity. My grandmother had witnessed the aftermath of the Hindu-Muslim riots in 1947, at what was then Calcutta. She had also lived through the Naxal movement in the city.

Colorscope by CNN

Why gold has that special allure

For millennia, the metal has adorned crowns and hilts of swords. It has been used to enhance paintings and ornaments to increase their value. In some cultures, gold is a predominant feature of festivals and celebrations. In Eastern cultures, the metal is an integral part of auspicious occasions like marriages and festivals by way of gifts and sacred rituals.

Orange: The color of warmth and comfort

Frank Sinatra called orange the happiest color. Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky described orange as "red brought nearer to humanity by yellow." It is a sacred color in many Eastern religions. Hindu and Buddhist monks wear orange robes, and in Hinduism, orange represents fire and therefore purity; impurities are burned in fire.

The complicated gender history of pink

The color is overwhelmingly associated with delicacy and femininity. That, however, is a recent development. "If you go back to the 18th century, little boys and little girls of the upper classes both wore pink and blue and other colors uniformly," said Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at FIT, the Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York.

Environment & Related Policies

Governance Now
And unquiet flows the Yamuna

Like a child, the Yamuna gushes down the Yamunotri glacier, its free flowing and crystal clear waters cutting through mountains and valleys. The youthful Yamuna generously nurtures life on its way. But its free-flowing spirit is abruptly interrupted at Hathnikund barrage in Haryana. There, the water is diverted through the western and eastern Yamuna canals.

Governance Now
This road is actually green

Years ago, Rasool Khan toyed with the idea of adding plastic to bitumen to improve roads. Now, government has adopted the eco-friendly technology Failure is an opportunity to learn and grow. But only a few adhere to this adage and Rasool Khan is one such person.

Governance Now
How 70 workers toil round the clock and keep New Delhi railway station clean

At half a million, the number of travellers who use the New Delhi railway station every day is larger than the population of most cities. Imagine the waste they leave behind, from water bottles to leftover food and much more. It would form a sizeable dump. Yet, surprisingly, the station appears cleaner these days.

Videos Stories

Telemedicine: A Lifeline for Rural Healthcare

According to 2018-19 Economic Survey of India, 60 percent of primary health centres in India have only one doctor, while about five percent have none. This results in the accumulation of diseases among the most vulnerable segment, delayed presentation and the subsequent need of speciality treatment at high costs, leading to health-related poverty shocks and untold misery. Some startups in India are trying to address this gap in rural healthcare by providing telehealth services and...

Medill Reports Chicago
Domestic worker gains her rights and finds her voice

Lucia Wrooman has been cleaning homes in the Chicago area for 14 years. Originally from Mexico City, she came to the United States with her Italian husband and son after they sold their restaurant in Acapulco in 2002.

Medill Reports Chicago
Skokie animal hospital treats only exotic pets

Chicago Exotics Animal hospital opened its doors in November 2000 in Skokie, Ill. The clinic was started by Dr. Susan Horton who saw the need for an exotics-only practice. It caters exclusively to exotic pets like chinchillas, geckos, hamsters, bearded dragons and tortoises. The clinic has three full-time doctors, as many part-time doctors and nine technicians.

Medill Reports Chicago
Chicago's LGBTQ community gearing up for Trump presidency

The LGBTQ community in Chicago is not taking any chances on President-elect Donald Trump's shifting statements. Organizations and groups advocating LGBTQ rights are hosting on-going events to calm, organize and inform the community about their rights and the resources available to them.

Edited Videos


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Politics & Policies

The Wire
Kolkata Trans Woman's Harassment by Cop Raises Questions on Whether Rules Are Enough

Kolkata: Ranjita Sinha, a transgender woman, a former member of the West Bengal Transgender Development Board and director of Association of Transgender/Hijras of Bengal (ATHB) has been distributing rations to members of the trans community in Kolkata since the lockdown began in March. "A lot of them have lost their livelihoods due to the pandemic.

Trending Hate Against Muslims: Is Twitter Complicit?

In 2009, Twitter took down a trending hashtag. The hashtag in question started in South Africa and had the word "darkie" in it.That word is not a slur in South Africa, but it was used as a slur against the African Americans community in the USA.

How West Bengal Is About To Lose Its Demographic Opportunity

Kolkata: The son of farmers for whom farming was no longer viable, Tapan Das left home 20 years ago. Today he is 42, illiterate, earns about Rs 4,000 a month working on construction sites--Rs 3,000 if you deduct the rent he pays for a mud house without electricity and water in an illegal slum.

Governance Now
Bridges to nowhere

September 4, 2018. Kolkata. It's quarter to five in the evening. The shanty dwellers in Majerhat felt the earth shake. A loud crash, dust rising from rubble and crumbling concrete, water splashing. The Majerhat bridge, running partly across a canal, had collapsed. A nearly 70-foot section came down, crushing many vehicles and killing one person instantly.

Governance Now
Left seats set to go up but what's in store for future?

In complete disarray after 2011 assembly poll drubbing, the Left Front in Bengal tried to regroup before the general elections. A few more seats in this Lok Sabha won't matter much. The question is, are they in it for the long haul?

Governance Now
'Rape has become a political slugfest in Bengal'

Governance Now photo On Monday, June 17, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee finally decided to visit the house of a Barasat college student who was raped and murdered on June 6.

Governance Now
Why Mamata has fielded so many celebs, stars

One in every four Trinamool candidates in Bengal is a celeb, mostly from the film world. A look at the strategy behind Mamata Banerjee's masterstroke to contain faction fighting Only the most ardent of fans would recognise Deepak Adhikari even in West Bengal. Unless, of course, you add a.k.a. Dev.

In-depth Reporting

Governance Now
Life after India-Bangladesh land boundary pact

Living in geographical anomalies called enclaves along the Indo-Bangladesh border, they lived bereft of modern administration. After decades of struggle, people of 51 enclaves in India and 111 in Bangladesh get to chose their nationality (Puja Bhattacharjee) Agroup of seven crowd around a newspaper Abu Bakr Siddique is reading.

Governance Now
The Coal India Saga: Fuelling growth

The inside story of how India's largest coal producer played on the strengths of the public sector to revive its fortunes Photos courtesy: CIL A few kilometres from the Dhanbad railway station lies Jharia Coal Field (JCF), one of the biggest coalfields in India.

Profiles & Interviews

Governance Now
Sexuality is much more complex than political lives: Shereen El Feki

British journalist and health worker Shereen El Feki dared to rush where most fear to tread. But she's nobody's fool. She researched on sex in the Arab world. The result: her first book, Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, has been nominated for the Guardian First Book Award and The Orwell Prize.

Governance Now
Meet the IAS who eradicated open defecation in rural Chhattisgarh

Breaking Bread with Governance Now: Dr Priyanka Shukla, CEO, Rajnandgaon, Chhattisgarh The idea was to talk over lunch, but by the time we finally meet, it is 4.30 pm. Dr Priyanka Shukla had had her lunch earlier. Shukla is not a district collector yet.

Governance Now
In rags lay his raison d'être

Chance confrontations with rawness of reality changed his perception of life; he chose to make the most of it for others Even for a hillman, a winter night in the high-altitude Uttarkashi district can be ruthlessly cold. Biting, shivering, bone-chilling - all adjectives will fail here; cold will not.

Governance Now
Art is intricately associated with our lives: Painter Jatin Das

When not painting, celebrated Indian artist Jatin Das is busy researching for a series of projects. In between he likes to have a cup of strong coffee and listen to classical music gifted to him by his close friend, photographer Raghu Rai.

Governance Now
Puran Bhatt: a puppet of time

Puran Bhatt's world-renowned puppetry stares at the same fate as that of his locality, Kathputli Colony - bleak In the mid-1950s, a group of travelling artistes, mostly puppeteers from Rajasthan, would frequently tour the northern and eastern states, sometimes going as far as Nepal. The money was good, and they got respect.

Governance Now
Meet the man who took on realty giant DLF

The man whose efforts brought realty giant DLF on its knees wishes he never had to do all this It took Mr Biswas a lifetime of hard work to have a house of his own in VS Naipual's 1961 classic novel, 'A House for Mr Biswas'.

Urban Development

Governance Now
Kashi and Kyoto - can the twain meet?

Irreverent city might not be game for a Kyoto-like transformation A s dusk sets in, Asi ghat comes to life. A stage has been set up and performers gather in colourful garb. Locals and tourists begin to occupy the steps of the ghat. Tea sellers and boatmen do brisk business.

Governance Now
In Delhi, price of art has real estate tag to it!

A locality of artists sits on land worth 1,000 crore. It has gone to a builder for 6 crore. Even if the people survive relocation, their art may not Pooran Bhatt is famous in Kathputli Colony, and he is famous in the many countries where he has performed.

Governance Now
The capital cart: Travails of e-rickshaw drivers

In a season of bans in India, the one on e-rickshaws in Delhi is being lifted. The travails of e-rickshaw drivers show the tricky nature of regulations in the country Shree Bhagwan Jaiswal pushed the pedals of his cycle rickshaw in Old Delhi for more than 20 years.

Governance Now
Surat: Where waste is not wasted

Rising out of an epidemic, Surat has made incredible progress in waste management with citizen participation - a model worth emulating Governance Now image Natwarlal Patel still remembers those few days in 1994 when a plague epidemic broke out in Surat. He spent a week holed up in his home, too afraid to venture out.

Governance Now
Surat shows the way: A ring road that costs nothing!

To build a 66km ring road, Surat will not take a penny from the state or centre. Nor will it spend a penny from it's shallow pockets. So what's this self-financing, self-sustaining model that is making waves in urban planning circles?


ADP Rethink
Bringing humanity to the boardroom

In March 2020, as Covid-19 began to spread across India, the government in New Delhi enacted the world's largest nationwide lockdown. Businesses shuttered, and many low-income families lost their livelihoods overnight. With both the formal and informal economies at a near standstill, many workers fled the cities for their home villages, and the health crisis quickly became a humanitarian crisis as well.

Investigations underway after Florida nursing home deaths

By Wednesday, eight of the nursing home's residents had died. The causes of the deaths are under investigation to see if any of them were heat-related, said Raelin Storey, director of public affairs for the City of Hollywood. "The initial investigation has determined that the facility's air conditioning system was not fully functional," the city of Hollywood, Florida, said in a statement.

Restaurant report card: What's in your meat?

The new report grades the 25 largest US fast food chains on where they stand on antibiotics. The results are a mixed bag: For the third year in a row, the only two As were awarded to Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread. More companies passed this year than ever before.

Reclaim the night, reclaim the day

For anybody a mid-December Delhi night brings up images of cold and eerily empty roads. And for a woman out in the street, it is nothing but the constant threat of rape or death. However, a group of c...

Governance Now
Youth wasted in jail, yet he has no bitterness

Aamir returns home full of hope and pride Mohammed Aamir Khan has reasons to be unhappy, feel vengeful and hurt. Instead, he chooses to be grateful with an angelic smile spread across his face. Most of us complain about little inconveniences in our daily life.

Governance Now
The 'third eye' makes diamond city a safer place!

People running Surat's renowned diamond cutting and textile units in zone-3 are sleeping better these days, and it's set to get contagious - thanks to the third eye! It was the first week of June and Khetan Bhuva was about to end his eight-hour shift.

Governance Now
Lesson for babus: special children need special attention

With over 700 children with special needs, Salboni is adequately short of expert educators and infrastructure to give the lessons due to them. It's more an issue of implementation than a systemic snag, say experts Amrit Das stood on the porch of the headmaster's office in Salboni high school as his father spoke to one of his teachers, staring straight ahead, oblivious to the general air of chaos and cacophony around him.

Governance Now
'Maoist sympathiser' turned MLA shows the way to locals

In a West Medinipur village, the local politician puts his MLA local area development fund to pump water, show the future to poor children In large swathes of land across India, few men are more powerful than an elected public representative, and fewer still are as essential for development as such men and women on a mission to usher in change.

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