Thoothukudi Massacre – When State becomes Predator: Bobby Kunhu

Guest post by BOBBY KUNHU

Thoothukudi protests – Image courtesy LiveMint

On 22nd May 2018, in what cannot be imagined even in a dictatorial regime, the police in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu – a South Indian state opened fire to kill, on a group of peaceful protesters marching towards the district administration office demanding denial of permission for expansion and closure of the existing copper smelting plant of Sterlite. Sterlite is a subsidiary of the London based corporation Vedanta, which has been dumping toxic waste all over this town since 1998 resulting in widespread health hazards including increase in reports of cancer. This massacre is unimaginable even in the worst dictatorial regimes, because not only were known national and international legal norms and protocols in crowd/riot control violated, but also because the video clippings that have surfaced after the massacre seem to indicate sufficient premeditation – with a plainclothes sniper on the top of a van being ordered to kill at least one person. Continue reading “Thoothukudi Massacre – When State becomes Predator: Bobby Kunhu”

National Alliance of People’s Movements condemns killing of Anti-Sterlite protestors

NAPM demands Court – monitored Judicial Inquiry by Retired Apex Court Judge & action against senior political leaders, officials responsible for the massacre. Demands that Government of Tamil Nadu must ensure permanent shut down of old and proposed units of Sterlite.

National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) strongly condemns the brutal gunning down of over 11 citizens including a 17 year old girl and violence on more than 60 persons by the Tamil Nadu Police, during the mass and largely peaceful protests against the Sterilite Copper Plant of Vedanta Pvt. Ltd. in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu. It is know that the people of Thoothukudi have been protesting against the pollution of ground water and air by the copper smelter for years. This current phase of protest started in early march when the expansion of Sterlite plant to double capacity was announced.  On the 100th day of protest i.e. 22nd May, against the Sterlite copper unit Ltd, thousands of people of Thoothukudi took out a pre-announced march towards the Collectorate. The march was to reiterate their demand to shut down the existing copper smelter, causing severe pollution and health hazards. Over 10,000 people – men, women and children marched to meet the collector. Continue reading “National Alliance of People’s Movements condemns killing of Anti-Sterlite protestors”

नवोदय और भारत की साझी हानि: यश पाल रोहिल्ला व संतोष शर्मा

Guest post by YASH PAL ROHILLA and SANTOSH SHARMA

हाल के वर्षों में हुई दो घटनायें उल्लेख के लायक हैं। पहली एक कॉलेज में पढ़ने वाली छात्रा ने मुखौटा लगाकर भीड़ के सामने अपनी कहानी बयान की, जिसमें उसने बताया कि किस तरह से उसे कॉलेज की पढ़ाई के लिए, लिए गए कर्ज को उतारने में देह फरोख्ती का सहारा लेना पड़ा। दूसरी घटना मे लगभग एक लाख विद्यार्थी सड़कों पर उतर आए क्योंकि उन्हें मंजूर नहीं था कि उनके देश की सरकार परा-स्नातक की पढ़ाई के लिए भी ट्यूशन फीस ले। पहली घटना अमेरिका में हुई और दूसरी जर्मनी में। दोनों घटनाएं विचारधारा सम्मत हैं: पहली पूंजीवाद का फल है और दूसरी लुप्त होते सामाजिक लोकतंत्र की निशानी।

भारत की वर्तमान सरकार ने अमेरिका वाला रास्ता अपना लिया है। इसका एक पुख्ता उदाहरण है जवाहर नवोदय विद्यालय में फीस वृद्धि। जवाहर नवोदय विद्यालय की स्थापना करना एक विशिष्ट व आदर्शोन्मुख कदम था। यह कदम, तब जब राजीव गांधी प्रधान मन्त्री थे और पी.वी नरसिम्हा राव मानव संसाधन विकास मन्त्री, 1986 की राष्ट्रीय शिक्षा नीति के तहत लिया गया। इस नीति के तहत, अन्य कदमों के अतिरिक्त, देश के हर जिले में नवोदय विद्यालय होगा जिसमें छठी कक्षा में 80 सीटों पर दाखिला होगा; दाखिले के लिए पांचवीं स्तर से कठिन व मेधा मापने वाली प्रतियोगी परीक्षा होगी जिसमें कम से कम 75 प्रतिशत सीटें ग्रामीण क्षेत्र के विद्यार्थियों और बाकी शहरी क्षेत्र के विद्यार्थियों के लिए आरक्षित होगीं। एक तिहाई लड़कियों के लिए और अनुसूचित जाति व जनजाति के लिए सरकारी प्रावधान के अनुसार। अन्य पिछड़ा वर्ग का आरक्षण अभी भी लागू नहीं है। हालांकि यह कहना आवश्यक है कि उस वक्त जब नवोदय विद्यालय की शुरूआत हुई थी तब कहीं पर भी यह आरक्षण नहीं था। विद्यालय आवासीय सुविधाएं देगा और सारा खर्च केन्द्र सरकार वहन करेगी।

Continue reading “नवोदय और भारत की साझी हानि: यश पाल रोहिल्ला व संतोष शर्मा”

PadMan, Patriarchy and the Poor Man’s Innovation: Tannistha Samantha and Mukta Gundi

This is a guest post by TANNISTHA SAMAMTHA and MUKTA GUNDI

 

With the success of “PadMan”, Akshay Kumar has established himself to be a bleeding-heart ‘feminist’. News channels are pouring praises for a film that introduces a ‘bold’ topic while regurgitating the crucial link between safe menstrual practices and women’s health. While the message is old (and important), the euphoria around it is new. Continue reading “PadMan, Patriarchy and the Poor Man’s Innovation: Tannistha Samantha and Mukta Gundi”

Exposing the mirage of ‘Modicare’: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

Statement by JAN SWASTHYA ABHIYAN

The Union Budget 2018-19 makes tall claims, with no clear road map for the health sector, one that is sensitive to the needs of the poor and the vulnerable population of India.

The allocations for Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) (including for AYUSH) have increased from Budget Estimate of Rs. 50,281 crore in 2017-18 Rs. 56,226 crore in 2018-19.

However, from 2017-18 (Revised Estimate) the increase is much lower, a mere Rs. 1374 crore, or just about 2.5 percent. This is a decline in real terms if we account for inflation, and Union Budget allocations for the health sector have stagnated at 0.3 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The 2017 target of National Health Policy (NHP) is 2.5 percent of GDP as health expenditure by the Government (both Centre and States) by 2025. However, with central allocations stagnating at the current 0.3 percent of GDP, it would not be possible to achieve this target.

The ‘Modicare’ mirage

Continue reading “Exposing the mirage of ‘Modicare’: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan”

His Smile Matters Too: Vikas Bajpai

Guest Post by VIKAS BAJPAI


Ram Teke Bhoi, rickshaw puller from Puri, Odisha

My search for Mr Bhoi, whose sketch I present above, had started on the 1st of January 2017. It culminated sometime around the middle of May 2017 in Puri while on my sojourn to the state of Odisha for conduct of Jawaharlal Nehru University’s entrance exam. Between these two points in time I shall try to weave a tiny story, albeit a true one, of the hundreds of millions of our country’s women and men who live by the sweat of their brow but are expected to remain content with the brow beatings they get in return. Mr Bhoi to me emerges as emblematic of this goings on.

In the last week of December 2016 our ‘twosome awesome’ daughters – Moozna and Amaira, my wife and I had been on a vacation to Meghalaya. On our return back home we decided to have a teat-a-tea with the rhinos at the Kaziranga National Park. Kaziranga in itself was a tame affair and is not relevant to the narrative I attempt to weave here. Rather your attention is solicited for something that transpired on our way back to Guwahati from Kaziranga.

Continue reading “His Smile Matters Too: Vikas Bajpai”

Development Outcomes And Politics in Gujarat: Atul Sood

Guest Post by ATUL SOOD

Development is back in focus after the endless noise about cow protection, nationalism, Hindu-Muslim, janeus, Shiv Bhakti, Gorakhpur governance, casteism, love jihad, enemy nation and the rest. Why this talk about development now? Perhaps the dissent and protests on the ground by various sections in Gujarat in the last few years have compelled even the diehards to acknowledge (Mr. Amit Shah recently said ‘It is not my point that the issues raised in those agitations are not an issue’), that something is deeply problematic about the “Gujarat Model of Development”. The ASHA workers have taken to the streets demanding a living wage, regularized working hours and social security; dalits are no longer silent about the violence, indignity and intimidation heaped upon them; displaced families from Sardar Sarovar Dams have occupied streets seeking rehabilitation; farmers are demanding reprieve from a crisis to which they have had no hand in creating; tribals and evicted farmers are protesting against showpiece infrastructure projects which have meant their displacement and destruction of human habitations; and the youth from cultivating castes are seeking guarantee for jobs.  The list is continuing.  

Continue reading “Development Outcomes And Politics in Gujarat: Atul Sood”