In Malayalam, the official language of the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, as well as in Sanskrit, the word lakshadweep means “hundred thousand islands”. In fact, there are but 36 in the remote Indian archipelago of that name, which spreads across 32 sq km of the Arabian Sea, about 300km off Kerala’s coast. Ten of those islands are inhabited by a total population of about 65,000, and none is wider than 1.6km. All of them, though, are under threat from tourism, at least as far as islanders are concerned. Some of those locals went on a hunger strike recently, to protest legislation drafted by Lakshadweep’s new administrator, Praful Khoda Patel, designed, among other things, to expedite tourism development, according to Indian newspaper The Economic Times . “Since he took over the Lakshadweep administration in December last year, Patel has pushed through a slew of new laws and regulations without consulting locally elected representatives in India’s only Muslim-majority territory apart from Indian-administered Kashmir,”Al Jazeera reported last month. The controversial proposals range from a ban on beef to a law that disqualifies anyone with more than two children from running in local elections. However, the one that has raised the most alarm, according to Al Jazeera, is the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021, which would give Patel powers to remove or relocate residents from their property for town planning or development reasons. In a May interview with The Hindu newspaper, Patel, who is backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, argued that his administration was “committed to developing the infrastructure in the archipelago as well as providing employment to the islanders”. The way he plans to do this, according to The Hindu , is by building “three eco-friendly water villa projects”, similar to those found in the Maldives, with work set to begin in August. “The people of Lakshadweep are in such a pitiable state even after 70 years of freedom. We are trying to improve the lives of fishermen as well as coconut growers,” Patel said. Dos and don’ts for Phuket’s quarantine-free reopening But residents fear that the “improvements” will cost them their homes and livelihoods, as well as the environment that has sustained them. “For generations we have lived quiet lives, rarely protesting policies created in the mainland … but if they take away my land and home, where will we all go?” said fisherman Sakariya, in a phone interview with South African newspaper Business Day , earlier this month. “Like many local fishers, [Sakariya’s] only asset is the family home his grandfather built,” the •Business Day• report said. “This is not a big city where people can be relocated nearby. For us, it will probably mean having to move to the mainland. How can we allow anyone to take our homes away?” Sakariya asked. He is one of scores of islanders who have taken to social media to draw attention to their plight, using the hashtag #SaveLakshadweep on Twitter. As well as fearing eviction, protesters worry that development could strain the islands’ limited public services, including access to clean drinking water, health care and the mainland. Lakshadweep district collector S. Asker Ali dismissed residents’ concerns as a “misinformation campaign” propagated by those “whose vested interests are hit by the administration’s development works” in an opinion piece for newspaper The Times of India , but another local official, K. Nizamuddin, told Business Day that public mistrust was widespread and “fuelled by authorities’ demolition of fishers’ beach shacks”. “We haven’t been consulted and most islanders are clueless about what the future will bring,” said Nizamuddin. “If drastic changes are coming, they should be told about it.” Development need not be detrimental to the environment and its inhabitants, but “progress” that ignores the rights of indigenous populations and ecosystems is undeserving of the word. Fisherman Sakariya has perhaps said it best: “We have lived in this small strip of land for decades. We know the impact of disturbing this ecology better than anyone. Officials should listen to us.” Selfie lovers flock to Cambodia’s cafe in a carriage The pandemic has put a stop to many train services in Cambodia, but one carriage remains as busy as ever. Standing at the railway station in the capital Phnom Penh, the Royal Railway Cambodia carriage has been converted into a cafe and thus, inevitably, “has become a hub for Instagramers and Facebookers looking for a selfie location and cold drink”, Agence-France Presse reports. “We had the idea to turn a carriage into a train cafe in order to generate some income for the company and help staff members with work during the pandemic,” Sak Vanny, manager of passenger operations for Royal Railway Cambodia, told the news agency. “We did not make a lot of changes to it so that it’s original look wouldn’t disappear … When guests come here they can have the same feeling like they are riding a train.” The carriage-cafe has proven particularly popular among youngsters keen for a change of scenery after a recent three-week lockdown. “I come for leisure and to take pictures with my friends and enjoy the coffee,” said one 19-year-old student. “It helps reduce my stress.” All aboard the selfie train! Hong Kong quarantine hotel pool on world’s top 25 list While we’re on the subject of social media, website Big 7 Travel recently released its list of the 25 best hotel pools in the world. Taking into account “online reviews, Instagram hashtags and previous media coverage, as well as input from our editorial team on factors including views, architecture and uniqueness”, the compilers placed the glass-bottomed pool at Hong Kong’s very own Hotel Indigo at No 25. “As you practice your laps you can see straight down into the street below. The pedestrians can see right up to you!” Big 7 writes. What it fails to mention is that Hotel Indigo is one of the city’s designated quarantine hotels and its spectacular pool is probably spectacularly underused currently, as guests are not allowed to leave their rooms. The pool at the St Regis Lhasa Resort in Tibet is the highest ranking Asian property, at No 6, followed by Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands Hotel pool, at No 8. And where in the world would you have to go to make the biggest splash? That would be Lake Como, in Italy, and the cool pool of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo.