fiftytwo

amal shiyas

Amal is an assistant editor at Fifty Two. She is a history & film graduate.

Stories amal has worked on

Storm Catchers by Colin Dadelia; Illustration by Bhavya Arora (3 Sided Coin) for FiftyTwo.in
paradigm/shift

Storm Catchers

A group of Indian scientists are testing out a new monsoon forecasting model, and it might just be the most important achievement of 21st century meteorology.
After the Storm, by Prthvir Solanki, Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in. Part of a series of stories called Paradigm Shift in collaboration with MIcrosoft India.
paradigm/shift

After the Storm

Weather forecasting is a complex undertaking, especially in India. Now, meteorologists are turning to Artificial Intelligence to find solutions. It could help save millions of lives.
Out of the Park by Amal Shiyas; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
paradigm/shift

Out of the Park

Cricket’s changing for many reasons. One of those is artificial intelligence. From finding the sweet spot of the bat to transforming the viewer experience, the machines are hard at work.
Greener by Amal Shiyas; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
paradigm/shift

Greener

A new wave of Indian start-ups are thinking up innovative ways to deal with the climate crisis. Their tools are artificial intelligence and a whole lot of resolve.
Model Behaviour by Vikram Shah; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
paradigm/shift

Model Behaviour

From a corner building in central Bengaluru, a bunch of researchers are trying to crack the knottiest problems in computer science.
Troops by Monika Mondal; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Troops

Monkeys and humans are fighting for space in Indian cities. Right now, it doesn’t look like a winnable war.
23 Jul 21
Mysore Star by Seema Singh; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Mysore Star

Not all new Indian cinema was born in Bombay, Calcutta or Madras. One pioneer helped build the Kannada movie world in Mysore. In the year of his birth centenary, this is the story of Shankar Singh.
06 Aug 21
Homelands by Rayan Naqash; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah on FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Homelands

For the nomadic Gujjar-Bakarwals of J&K, the abrogation of Article 370 came with a sliver of hope for their lands and livelihoods. But they’ve been losing both for years.
13 Aug 21
Khansama by Sadaf Hussain; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Khansama

A chef lifts the veil on his journey from home cook to TV stardom and the heat of the Indian restaurant kitchen.
20 Aug 21
Solo by Nikhil Eapen; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Solo

Three boats, three men, and the Indian history of one of the world’s last great adventures.
27 Aug 21
The Foreigner by Makepeace Sitlhou; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in. Picture credit: Prakash Bhuyan.
Season One

The Foreigner

An Assam Border Police official and ex-serviceman, Mohammed Sanaullah was the model Indian citizen. Then his employers decided he wasn't.
03 Sep 21
Majority Report by Alok Prasanna Kumar; Illustrations by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Majority Report

For most of independent India’s history, President’s Rule was imposed on an average of 2.5 times a year. Now it’s rarely invoked. Here’s what changed the game for Indian federalism.
10 Sep 21
Reservoir Gods by Aparajith Ramnath; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Reservoir Gods

How the Cauvery was dammed, through the eyes of the project’s foremost champion, M. Visvesvaraya—and his fiercest critics.
17 Sep 21
Source Code by Vedica Kant; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Source Code

Liberalisation helped make India the world’s software capital. This is what it looked like to the men who built its most successful company, Infosys.
24 Sep 21
Stamina by Sohini; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Stamina

India’s marathon culture came of age thanks to liberalisation. It jump-started the career of many athletes, birthed new marketing strategies—and changed the lives of dozens of girls in a drought-prone village of eastern Maharashtra.
01 Oct 21
The Namesakes by Sanjana Ramachandran; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

The Namesakes

The story of roughly fifty Sanjanas, how their parents decided to call them that, and the secret history of why Indians give their babies the names they do.
08 Oct 21
Rice, Fat, Meat, Streets by Ahmer Naqvi; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season One

Rice, Fat, Meat, Streets

Why does biryani mean so much to so many people on the Indian subcontinent? The answers may be found on the streets of one of the world’s food capitals: Karachi.
15 Oct 21
The Dragnet by Gautam Pemmaraju; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah on FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Dragnet

Beyond Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah or Bose, the British Empire feared one revolutionary. This is the story of how MN Roy was chased around the world.
04 Feb 22
The Bounce by Karan Madhok; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Bounce

How a generation of Punjabi giants rode the highs and lows of Indian basketball, guided by one slight Tamilian man.
11 Feb 22
Your Honour by Menaka Rao; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Your Honour

Priya Ramani spoke up during 2018’s MeToo movement. A Union minister filed a criminal case against her. The consequences were severe—but also offered hope for the future.
17 Feb 22
Ire on the Mountain by Neha Mehrotra; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Ire on the Mountain

Some years before reality TV in India went full rogue, a primetime show had five civilians reach the basecamp of the world’s highest mountain. An oral history of ‘Mission Everest.’
26 Feb 22
Doctor Who by Kasturi Das & Nabarun Guha; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Doctor Who

He was a doctor on a tea estate in Assam. He studied at a prestigious college. Like thousands of other medical professionals in rural India, he was also not the person he claimed to be.
05 Mar 22
Footsoldiers by Prabhanu Kumar Das; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Footsoldiers

Political violence in West Bengal isn’t a new phenomenon. It isn’t dominated by election cycles. It doesn’t follow the same patterns as elsewhere in India. This is an explainer from those who’ve survived it for half a century.
12 Mar 22
Estate by Chitranshul Sinha; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Estate

Forty years ago, there were two parallel movements in Bihar. One wanted a separate state. This is the centuries-old story of the second one: the movement for the independent country of Kolhan.
19 Mar 22
Brown Hunters by Niyoshi Shah; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Brown Hunters

Shikar: the sport of kings, the symbol of colonial power play, legacy of an unfair age. But for a few years in independent India, it was also a source of income for a poor country—and a calling for the brown hunters, men trying to adjust to a changed world.
26 Mar 22
Searching for Swadesh by Nirupama Dutt; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Searching for Swadesh

On a June morning in 2006, a pathbreaking writer walked out of his home, never to be seen again. His friend and fellow writer is still looking for him and his words.
02 Apr 22
Home Alone by Karan Mujoo; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Home Alone

In the 1990s, most Pandits were displaced from the Kashmir Valley. The ones who remained are still fighting to be heard and seen.
09 Apr 22
Off Balance by Ankur Paliwal; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Off Balance

In places like Saharanpur and Buldhana, a rare genetic disease has been taking away control of bodies, lives and livelihoods from entire neighbourhoods. Against all odds, a few scientists and doctors are determined to ease the pain.
16 Apr 22
Crossfire by Saurabh Sharma; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Crossfire

Two trends mark the Great North Indian Wedding today. The first is gunshots. The second is orchestra dances performed by women artistes. Together, they’ve created a minor epidemic of crime headlines.
23 Apr 22
Exceptions by Nandini Ramachandran; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Exceptions

The ‘disturbed areas’ and ‘illegal migrants’ of today’s India were yesterday’s ‘scheduled districts’ and ‘criminal tribes.’ The line between the past and present is straighter than you think.
30 Apr 22
Resistance by Sayantan Datta; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Resistance

In the mid-1970s, a remarkable cohort of women found themselves in Bombay. They believed there was more to science than labs and male geniuses. Some of them would pioneer the cause of feminist science studies in India. These are the women who paved the way for themselves.
14 May 22
Man of Culture by Sukhada Tatke; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Man of Culture

A bacterium found on a remote Pacific island first became the obsession of a Punjabi microbiologist. It then became a wonder drug that gave hope to millions around the world.
21 May 22
Numbers Game by Himanish Ganjoo; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Numbers Game

Big data already changed the way cricket was being watched. Now, machine learning is transforming the way it’s played.
28 May 22
Cast Away by Vaishnavi Suresh; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Cast Away

For two decades now, fish have dwindled along Gujarat’s shores. So local fishermen have to go further out, closer and closer to danger: the unmarked, watery border between India and Pakistan.
04 Jun 22
Restricted Code by Sanjana Ramachandran; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Restricted Code

Many Indians believe Sanskrit is a perfect language for computer programming and AI research. State-led programmes have deepened the impression. Indian scientists working on AI research would like a word.
11 Jun 22
The Adversary by Srikar Raghavan; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Adversary

Karnataka and Naxalism are not often spoken about in the same breath. But for a whole decade, an enigmatic man named Saketh Rajan led the movement in the state. It wasn’t even his sole name, or claim to fame.
18 Jun 22
Eulie by Anuradha Kumar; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Eulie

Chandigarh, one of the great projects of the new Indian republic, is forever associated with the genius of its Franco-Swiss chief architects. But it was also a fresh beginning for a generation of brilliant young Indians. One of them was the only woman architect in the group, who made the city her own.
02 Jul 22
Horses by Hansda Sowvendra Shekhar; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Horses

An unusual sight pops up along the highways veining southern Jharkhand: paired statues of horses. Soon after moving to the Seraikela region, the author set out to find their origin story. It turns out there are more than one.
09 Jul 22
Pen Friend by Surajkumar Thube; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Pen Friend

Even as the mass nationalist movement was gaining steam and popularising its ideas in print, one family’s own smaller newspapers insisted on a different kind of freedom—from the shackles of caste, illiteracy and poverty. Meet the Bhalekar-Patils of Tarawadi.
16 Jul 22
Human Touch by Karishma Mehrotra; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Human Touch

Artificial intelligence may be making some jobs obsolete but it has given a new lease of life to one group of people who play an unglamorous but critical role in the machine learning pipeline: first generation women workers in Indian towns and villages.
23 Jul 22
Relish by Nikhita Venugopal; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Relish

Hot. Sweet. Sour. Tangy. Food companies trying to turn tomato ketchup into an Indian condiment attempted every trick in their book. This is the story of how they succeeded.
30 Jul 22
Traders by the Creek by Revati Tiwari; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Traders by the Creek

The first Indians in Dubai weren’t oil workers or wage labourers. They were traders, who brought commerce, capital and adventure to this once-small kingdom.
06 Aug 22
Title Deeds by Madhuri Karak; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Title Deeds

For a decade now, Ruby Hembrom has been publishing stories that aim to get close to the lived experience of Adivasis. Her own life story reflects the big themes of that project.
20 Aug 22
Knife in the Back by Kapil Kajal; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Knife in the Back

In western Rajasthan, Dalits may be murdered for the endearments they call their children, for twirling their moustaches—or for their social media. This is the story of one young man’s death and how it is foregrounded by a legacy of caste crime.
27 Aug 22
The Match by Bhavya Dore; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Match

A generation of Europeans is now returning to Sri Lanka, a country from which they were adopted as children, to search for their birth mothers. What they learn about their families, and themselves, has deep consequences.
03 Sep 22
Hijacked by Tooba Masood-Khan; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Hijacked

1971 changed the course of subcontinental history in more ways than one. Far from the field of battle in Bangladesh, hijackers diverted a plane from Srinagar to Lahore, shaking up Pakistan’s Kashmiri community, and changing one family forever.
10 Sep 22
Pending by Umesh Kumar Ray; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Pending

Bihar was the model state in the days soon after the Right to Information Act passed. Then began the slow slide into intimidation, chaos, silence—and much worse.
17 Sep 22
Hunger by Andrew Fidel Fernando; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Hunger

Power cuts. Fuel queues. Popular uprising. A historic and crisis-ridden year in Sri Lanka is drawing to a close. For many, the battles are just beginning.
24 Sep 22
The Slide by Colin Daileda; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Slide

For years, Himachal Pradesh was on an environmental precipice, brought to the brink by official neglect. A murderous showdown at a Kasauli hotel laid the fault lines bare.
01 Oct 22
Crossing over by Sanskrita Bharadwaj; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Crossing Over

Demographic change in one small state is used as a red flag in its giant neighbour, Assam. But the history of Tripura and its people is much more than that.
08 Oct 22
Uprooted by Sarita Santoshini; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Uprooted

Residential schools for indigenous people have a long and dark history around the world. In Odisha, children are recognising how these schools, newly funded by mining companies, are changing their lives—and that of their communities.
15 Oct 22
The Clansman by Devendra Pratap Singh Shekhawat; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Clansman

Anand Pal Singh was from a community that occupied the fringes of Rajput culture in Rajasthan. But his life and death recalibrated the community’s dynamics—and swung an election.
05 Nov 22
Demolition by Ramachandra Guha; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Demolition

Three decades ago, the destruction of a mosque in Ayodhya changed the course of Indian history. A writer recounts what life was like before the dismantling.
12 Nov 22
Italian Job by Ankita Anand, Daniela Sala & Marco Valle; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Italian Job

In the farms of Italy, the dreams of Punjabi migrants sour like curdled milk. One man, pushed to the brink, had to confront the very demons he wanted to escape back home.
19 Nov 22
Identity Crisis by Deepa Padmanabhan; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Identity Crisis

The efforts of Argentinian grandmothers transformed forensic science and how it identifies the dead. In India, however, the official approach is still catching up. At no time is this more evident than during natural disasters.
26 Nov 22
The Advocate by Anuradha Kumar; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

The Advocate

In the middle of the twentieth century, country after country threw off the colonial yoke in East Africa. An Indian lawyer represented the men who would become the dissidents and presidents of the future. It was a ringside seat—until they reached his doorstep.
03 Dec 22
Killey by Adil Rashid; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Killey, Part One

In 1996, a Kashmiri carpet trader was picked up in Kathmandu and accused of orchestrating two bombings in north India. It took hundreds of witnesses, four different courts, and 23 years of incarceration, before he was free again.
10 Dec 22
Killey by Adil Rashid; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Killey, Part Two

For Mohammad Ali Bhat, the process wasn’t just punishment. It was the only life he knew for 23 years. But life from the outside filtered in, all the same. Slowly, meanderingly, the justice system prepared to let him go, too. 
17 Dec 22
Dear Neighbour by Sharanya Deepak; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Dear Neighbour

Bans. Danger. Polarisation. The cross-border harmonies of Indian and Pakistani pop culture have been imperilled over the last few years. But fandom, and cultural memory, survives against increasing odds.
24 Dec 22
Our Struggle by Neerja Deodhar; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Our Struggle

Their grandson is one of the most successful Hindi filmmakers of the 21st century. But back in the 1950s, the Motwane family of Chicago Radio already knew that celluloid made legends—and preserved them. This is the story of their forgotten magnum opus, “Andolan.”
08 Jan 23
Barrage by Raza Kazmi; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Barrage

In 1857, the brothers Nilamber and Pitamber led Adivasi rebels against the British in the hills and forests of Palamau. For their descendants, the battle for water, forests and land never ended.
14 Jan 23
Elephants in the Room by Abhilash Pavuluri; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Elephants in the Room

In Hassan, humans find themselves jockeying for territory with animals they love, revere—and are deathly afraid of. But the elephants weren’t always like this.
21 Jan 23
Victory City by Karthik Malli; Illustration by Akshaya Zachariah for FiftyTwo.in
Season Two

Victory City

A century ago, an English district collector’s book about a great empire distorted the history of an old town in Karnataka. But in recent years, research has cast fresh light on the complicated and glorious story of Bijapur.
28 Jan 23