Disinheriting Adivasis – The Gadchiroli Game Plan: Vidhya A

Guest post by VIDHYA A

Image courtesy Subcontinental wind

In a statement issued on April 16th 2018, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) claimed that the ‘National Policy and Action Plan’ to combat Left Wing Extremism (LWE) is ‘a multi-pronged strategy involving security and development related measures’[1]. This new policy, apparently in place since the NDA government came to power at the centre, claims to have ‘zero tolerance towards violence coupled with a big push to developmental activities so that benefits of development reached the poor and vulnerable in the affected areas’[2]. The statement talks of substantial improvement in the LWE scenario by indicating reduced incidents of violence over the last four years. Within a week of this statement to the press, several Maoists are killed in an alleged encounter in Gadchiroli district of Maharastra and, then, in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh[3]. The Maharashtra state police immediately issued press notes and organised a press conference on April 24th declaring the operation an unmitigated success. A week later, Chhattisgarh police did the same. Even as the death count of Maoists kept rising, the police claimed that none of their personnel, primarily the elite C-60 force in Maharashtra and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), were seriously injured let alone killed in action.

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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”

A Theatre Olympics that Isn’t: Arundhati Ghosh

Guest post by ARUNDHATI GHOSH

Image courtesy Deccan Herald

I have been working for the past 16 years with a small organisation called India Foundation for the Arts (IFA) that attempts to support arts and culture projects across the country. In these years I have been fortunate enough to travel across the country to big cities and small ones, towns and villages where arts practitioners and scholars work intensely, passionately, with almost no economic resources or social acknowledgements. The percentage of our total national budget outlay to the arts and culture is negligible as is the amount that finally gets spent on it. The state of our national arts and culture institutions is abysmal and much has been written by eminent experts critiquing the vision, mandates, policies and mechanisms of funding or the lack of any of these prerequisites to support the sector with an imagination that attempts to build a robust, vibrant ecology for the arts.

Continue reading “A Theatre Olympics that Isn’t: Arundhati Ghosh”

Thinking a local Cosmopolitanism – the Kochi Muziris Biennale: Interview with Dilip Menon by Riyas Komu and CS Venkiteswaran

English transcript of  interview published in Malayalam in Mathrubhumi Weekly, October 17 2017.

CSV

Kochi is a curious choice as a site for an international art event like Biennale, isn’t it? It has played no prominent role insofar as art activity, practice or market is concerned, nor is it a metropolitan city like Mumbai or Delhi. One qualification, of course, could be its long cosmopolitan history of trade and the movement of people, ideas, religions or goods from time immemorial. Is KMB in a way, trying to invoke and re-imagine the cosmopolitan past or heritage of a place like Kochi?

Dilip Menon

I think there is a particular history to why such an event should happen in Kochi, and why it could be successful here alone. Kochi, being a port city, was always part of a universe that was much larger than the immediate geography within which it is located. So, like most port cities, it sits on the edge of land and looks out to the sea. When one thinks about the idea of cosmopolitanism, there is something about the already existing cosmopolitanism of port cities, whether it is Malacca, Kochi or Venice. It is not without significance that two of the more important biennales are in Venice and Kochi. I think that a port city is located in a much longer history of movements of people, ideas, materials and political ideologies across the ocean.  Even though these ports are now part of nation-states, their histories and memories are much deeper and much longer. The Kochi Muziris Biennale (KMB) is able to summon up these memories.

Continue reading “Thinking a local Cosmopolitanism – the Kochi Muziris Biennale: Interview with Dilip Menon by Riyas Komu and CS Venkiteswaran”

Statement Against Genocide and Deportation of Rohingya Muslims

Violence is sweeping Myanmar and in a short span of two weeks lakhs of ethnic Rohingya refugees have fled to Bangladesh and thousands have lost their lives. Satellite data shows, large parts of the Rakhine state, home to most of the Burmese Rohingya population have been set on fire, and murders, rape, arson, loot and forced displacement of the Rohingya population is taking place on a scale, that should be alarming for all humanity. Even the UN secretary general has called out to Mayanmar to end violence against the Rohingya and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu has urged Mayanmar state Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi to speak out against the persecution of the Rohingya. The tragedy facing the Rohingya is of an unprecedented scale and needs to be addressed with a sense of utmost urgency.

As Indian citizens, we need to break the silence on ethnic violence against the Rohingya and the unconstitutional proposed deportation of a wide and long-residing Rohingya community from India, to certain death that awaits them in Myanmar. The Rohingyas have been living as a peaceful refugee community in various parts of India since the 1970s, with no criminal records or history of crime. Let us not be a part of this genocide. Let us stand up for justice and humanity, and raise our voice against the killings, displacement and deportation of the Rohingya!

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Why tribals do mind being ousted by dams: Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

SHRIPAD DHARMADHIKARY and NANDINI OZA write a stinging response to Swaminathan Anklesaria Iyer’s unsupported claims in Times of India about how much tribals love being ousted for big dams. The newspaper did not care to publish this rebuttal so the authors posted this on Dharmadhikary’s blog and also in the comments section to Iyer’s article.

We reproduce Dharmadhikary and Oza’s original response in full below from Manthan.

However, here is an update from Shripad:

I put my comment in brief, within the allowed 3000 characters, yesterday in the Comments section. Today, it’s gone.

Then, a friend brought to my notice that Swaminathan has written a completely new version of the blog and put it out yesterday. Wonder if he is in the habit of writing different versions of the same blog within a matter of two days! https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Swaminomics/most-of-the-ousted-tribals-are-flourishing-and-loving-it-thank-you-activists/

Have yet to read the new version of his bog properly (am out since early morning), but it appears that he has rewritten it in a way that tries to skirt the response we had given. Now I am planning to write another response to the new blog….but can only do it tomorrow as busy with meetings today.

And now, Dharmadhikary and Oza’s original response in Manthan:

SA Iyers’s piece in Times of India dated 10 Sept 2017, “Why many tribals don’t mind being ousted by dams”, examining the condition of some of the oustees of Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam is a classic case of misinterpretation of data, hiding the more important issues, and conclusions not supported by research findings. Indeed, a proper reading of the article itself shows that unlike Iyer’s assertion, his own figures show that tribals do mind being ousted. Some important points are given below.

Iyer claims that their “surveys showed, unambiguously, the resettled villagers were better off than their former neighbours in semi-evacuated villages.” In support, among the figures given from their survey, they point out that comparing the resettled with their former neighbours who remain in the original areas, the access to drinking water was 45% against 33%, to PHCs was 37% versus 12% and to hospitals 14% versus 3%. Given that the oustees were resettled between 25-30 years ago, and that the Sardar Sardar project has poured in hundreds of crores of rupees for resettlement, these figures don’t speak of oustees being better off, but indeed, point to the pathetic case of the oustees.

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Losing the Soul’s Acid Tongue … Terrorist State, Unbowed Children at Kerala’s Puthvype

[The title is inspired by Balachandran Chullikkad’s searing poetry]

I have recently been asked about why I didn’t write anything about the anniversary of the CPM-led government of Kerala.  Have also been asked why I don’t write about politics in Kerala anymore. The answer to the first is easy and painless: governments are not organic things. You measure your kid’s height and weight and other things and think about how they have grown in their minds and hearts on their birthdays. There is nothing that proves that anniversaries are the best occasions to reflect on how governments have grown and thrived. The answer to the second question is more conflicted and excruciatingly painful: it is because we have no politics in Kerala, but plenty of anti-politics. therefore, what one needs to do is invest in the silent, unglamorous, unpopular,  long-haul intellectual and political labour that may preserve the possibilities of politics in the future, and that may even create internalities capable of courage and responsibility necessary for being political. Continue reading “Losing the Soul’s Acid Tongue … Terrorist State, Unbowed Children at Kerala’s Puthvype”