To Elphinstone Road

When a system is forced to run at four to six times its capacity for years on end, it doesn’t break – it was always broken. Elphinstone Road is the story of almost all urban infrastructure in our cities. It’s a template. It’s a warning. It’s our history, our everyday, and our future. It’s horrifying. It’s utterly banal.

When only death can make you think of repair, maintenance, upkeep, and expansion, then the everydayness of our infrastructure is a state of violence. When that death will still not make you change the way you manage that infrastructure, that violence is a siege, and we have Stockholm Syndrome. Not resilience, but a hostage situation.

The real challenge to us – all of us, in all our locations – is to realise the deep insufficiency of our anger if it is anger just at death. Anger is needed as much at the way we live, not just the ways in which we shouldn’t die.

Continue reading “To Elphinstone Road”

In Which Swaminathan Iyer McDonaldises the Tribals and Serves Other Junk Food : Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza

Guest Post by SHRIPAD DHARMADHIKARY AND NANDINI OZA

Reposted from Manthan

What can one expect when one is faced with a blog by “India’s leading economic journalist” which is titled “Most of the ousted tribals are flourishing and loving it”? That there will be a large helping of fries on the side? That it will taste great but is really junk? In all of these expectations, one is not disappointed.

First, a little background. The leading economic journalist is Swaminathan Iyer, who along with a colleague carried out a survey of some tribals ousted by the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam, comparing their situation with those left behind in the hilly areas near the river, and others in the hilly areas but near a mining project. On 10th Sept 2017, Iyer wrote a blog titled “Why many tribals don’t mind being ousted” based on his study. In a matter of just two days, Iyer has come out with a second blog based on the same study on the same topic. One wonders why. But then, again, one may not wonder, for the Sardar Sarovar has become an important topic with the Prime Minister scheduled to dedicate to the nation the dam on 17th Sept 2017.

The first blog was a classic case of misinterpretation of data, hiding the more important issues, and conclusions not supported by research findings, as we showed in our response. We showed that the tribals do mind being ousted. Now Iyer has written another blog on the matter, which skirts the issues we had raised in our response and omits some crucial survey findings given in the earlier blog, but still tries to show the Sardar Sarovar rehabilitation program as being successful.

Continue reading “In Which Swaminathan Iyer McDonaldises the Tribals and Serves Other Junk Food : Shripad Dharmadhikary and Nandini Oza”

हिंदुत्व और निजता का अधिकार : वैभव सिंह

Guest post by VAIBHAV SINGH

सुप्रीम कोर्ट के द्वारा निजता के अधिकार संबंधी फैसले ने निजी बनाम सार्वजनिक, व्यक्ति बनाम समाज, सरकार बनाम नागरिक के द्वैत को फिर बहस के केंद्र में ला दिया है।ऐसा समाज जहां गली-मोहल्लों व गांव-देहातों में निजी जानकारी छिपाने की कोई धारणा न तो रही है, न उसका सम्मान रहा है, उसी समाज में बड़े कारपोरेशन, सरकारी तंत्र व राज्य ने जब निजी जानकारियों का दुरुपयोग करना आरंभ किया तो गहरी प्रतिक्रिया हुई। इसका मनोवैज्ञानिक कारण यह है कि राज्य व बड़े कारपोरेशन्स समाज के लिए ‘बाहरी शक्ति’ के रूप में रहे हैं। वे पराए, अजनबी और अनजान तत्व हैं जो मनुष्य की निजी सूचना जुटा रहे हैं। उनके बाहरी शक्ति और विशाल संरचना होने के बोध ने निजी जानकारी के मुद्दें पर लोगों को उद्वेलित कर दिया। आधार कार्ड, सोशल साइट्स, सरकारी स्कीम आदि कई चीजें ऐसी रही हैं, जिनका सहारा लेकर नागरिकों की निजी जानकारियों मे बड़े पैमाने पर सेंध लगाई जा रही है और उन जानकारियों को निहित स्वार्थ वाले बेचेहरा व अज्ञात समूहों में शेयर किया जा रहा है। ऐसे माहौल में सुप्रीम कोर्ट का ‘राइट टु प्राइवेसी’ को स्वीकृति देते हुए यह कहना काफी मायने रखता है कि अनुच्छेद 21 के तहत जीने के अधिकार की सार्थकता तभी है जब व्यक्ति की गरिमा और निजता की भी रक्षा की जाए। व्यक्ति को यह पता हो कि उसकी निजी जानकारियां किसे, कब और क्यों दी जा रही हैं। कानून या राज्य के पास निजता को समाप्त करने के मकसद से देश का विकास, प्रशासनिक मजबूरी या डेटा-कलेक्शन की जरूरत का तर्क देने का विकल्प नहीं है।कोर्ट ने अपने फैसले में ‘सेक्सुअल ओरियंटेशन’ के बारे में टिप्पणी करते हुए इसे भी निजता के दायरे में रखा है। Continue reading “हिंदुत्व और निजता का अधिकार : वैभव सिंह”

The True Bargain : How Dr. Ram Rahim Singh Insaan Defined His Time

[ Random notes made in the wake of the conviction of Dr. Baba Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insaan of Dera Saccha Sauda for the offense of rape in Panchkula, Haryana, with some attention paid to the testimonials of his close friends. ] Continue reading “The True Bargain : How Dr. Ram Rahim Singh Insaan Defined His Time”

Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army Formed Amidst Continuing Repression

Image courtesy Indian Express

Even as the state government’s repression on Bhim Army continues, most of its leaders still in jail and some forced to leave Saharanpur, a committee has been formed for the defense of Bhim Army. (For background information, please see the ‘Note on Bhim Army’, appended at the end of this post, which carries links to informative videos as well). A group of activists and committed lawyers have been following up the legal struggle practically at their own expense – which at the moment involves getting the arrested activists, including the founder-President Chandrashekhar out of bail as the topmost priority. Some of the activists have started getting bail many still remain, including just ordinary people simply picked up by the people and framed by the police as Bhim Army activists.

However, getting the jailed activists out on bail is simply the first step in a long battle. The deliberate campaign of vilification that has been going on about Bhim Army has tried to paint the organization as ‘antinational’ and ‘instigators of violence’ who apparently have ‘Naxalite’ connections. Even though none of this could be substantiated and thus brought by the police into their charges against the jailed activists, the campaign of demonization has nevertheless continued through some sections of the media. Needless to say, such misleading campaign is meant to incite popular feelings against such groups who have been working mainly for education and self respect among the Dalit population in their area. Such a campaign of vilification cannot but affect the chances of wining the legal battle as well. It also ends up driving people who may have initially been sympathetic to their cause by sowing doubts about them in the popular mind.

It is with this concern in mind that a large number of citizens from different walks of life have come together to form the Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army, in order to mobilize all possible support for the embattled activists.

The Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army has been constituted comprising the following members from different walks of life:

Coordinators: Pradeep Narwal and Sanjeev Mathur

Treasurers: Presenjit Gautam and Nakul Singh Sawhney

  1. Anand Teltumbde, Civil rights thinker and activist, Mumbai
  2. Jignesh Mewani, Rashtriya Dalit Adhikar Manch
  3. Kancha Ilaiah, Political scientist, thinker and writer, Hyderabad
  4. Chandrabhan Prasad, Dalit thinker
  5. Radhika Ramaseshan, Senior journalist with Business Standard
  6. Harsh Mander, Human rights activist and Director, Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi
  7. Syeda Hamid, Former member, Planning Commission
  8. Om Thanvi, Senior journalist, former editor, Jansatta
  9. Sambhaji Bhagat, Cultural activist, Maharashtra
  10. Meera Velayudhan, Academic, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum
  11. Martin Macwan, Social activist, Gujarat
  12. Ratan Lal, Academic, Hindu College, Delhi University
  13. Sachin Mali, Cultural activist
  14. Sheetal Sathe, Cultural activist
  15. S.R Darapuri , Former IPS officer, social activist
  16. Colin Gonzalves, Lawyer
  17. Anand Patwardhan, Film maker
  18. Anil Chamadia, Journalist
  19. Subhash Gatade, Writer and social activist
  20. Akram Hassan, Social activist, Shamli
  21. Surender, Dalit youth activist, Delhi University
  22. N. Sukumar, Academic, Delhi University
  23. Rehana Adib, Social activist, Saharanpur
  24. Banojyotsna Lahiri, Academic and independent researcher
  25. Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Actor
  26. Amar Singh, SC/ST Trade Union, Delhi University
  27. Dr. Mahesh Chandra, Bhim Army
  28. Sanjay Tegwal, Bhim Army
  29. Zakia Soman, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan
  30. Presenjit Gautam, Jati Todo Manch, Ghaziabad
  31. Pradeep Narwal, Dalit youth activist, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  32. Saroj Giri, Academic, Delhi University
  33. Tushar Parmar, IRS
  34. Sanjeev Mathur, Journalist
  35. Nakul Singh Sawhney, Film maker
  36. Praveen Verma, Research scholar, Delhi University
  37. Aditya Nigam, Academic, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi
  38. Amar Paswan, Ambedkarvadi Chhatra Sabha, Gorakhpur
  39. Dhirendra, Poorvanchal Sena
  40. Anil Yadav, Rihai Manch
  41. Sagar Raghunath, Chhatra Bharati activist
  42. Dr J.K. Gautam, Doctor
  43. Dr. Sushil Kumar Gautam, Dalit Youth Activist, Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut
  44. Subhashini Ali, Social Activist
  45. Mohinder Singh, Professor, JNU
  46. Prashant Nihal, Social Activist (Bihar)
  47. Atul Meena, Research Scholar JNU

Continue reading “Committee for the Defense of Bhim Army Formed Amidst Continuing Repression”

No to ‘Geri Route’, Bekhauf Azadi/ Reclaim the Night in Chandigarh: Janaki Srinivasan

Guest post by JANAKI SRINIVASAN

Reclaim the Night

If you are a resident of Chandigarh and came across pictures of the Bekhauf Azaadi Reclaim the Night and the Streets march of August 11 in the newspapers, it is most likely that you assumed it to be just another routine protest.  Protests in ‘the city beautiful’ do tend to follow a standard template. A small number gather in the Sector 17 plaza, banners are held, a few speeches made, photographs taken and a brief news report gets generated for the inner pages of the city supplement. In a small city, finding a mention in the newspapers is no indicator of the importance of one cause or one protest over others. Over the past decade, the administration has ensured this indifference, by physically redirecting political rallies- any event with the potential for large numbers- away from both government offices and public spaces to the outer perimeter of a severely gridlined map. The ‘Rally Ground’ neighbours the crematorium and the garbage landfill. Yet just as Le Corbusier’s monotonous plan and strict guidelines have been subverted by its residents to infuse vitality and uniqueness to the city, the protest template too sees a rare upheaval. Continue reading “No to ‘Geri Route’, Bekhauf Azadi/ Reclaim the Night in Chandigarh: Janaki Srinivasan”

Noida’s Domestic Workers’ Take on the ‘Madams’ – A Report from Ground Zero: Maya John, Sunita Toppo and Manju Mochhary

This guest post is an investigative report by MAYA JOHN, SUNITA TOPPO and MANJU MOCHHARY, who are associated with Gharelu Kamgar Union and actively involved in organizing domestic workers.

Recently, the otherwise docile workforce of domestic workers – most of whom are migrant labourers from the poorest states in the country – showed remarkable collective zeal against their wealthy employers in Noida (Uttar Pradesh). On the morning of 12th July 2017, a confrontation broke out between wealthy residents in a posh housing society, Mahagun Moderne in Noida Sector 78, and a gathering of agitated domestic workers and their families. The rampant exploitation of domestic workers, and the huge antagonism between their interests and those of their employers was directly exposed with the outbreak of this agitation.

The 12th July incident and subsequent developments have also revealed the sickening nexus between the police, employers, and right-wing politicians who have extended support to the wealthy residents. Within hours, an obvious labour issue, and the struggle of workers against the alleged illegal confinement of a female domestic worker was projected as a communal confrontation. With the accused employers and their sympathizers identifying the protesting workers and the missing domestic worker as ‘Bangladeshis’, the social media exploded with communal diatribe and messages of hate. Conditions for communal discord were consciously sown by Mahagun residents, putting at risk the lives of hundreds of workers living in neighbouring slums.

Continue reading “Noida’s Domestic Workers’ Take on the ‘Madams’ – A Report from Ground Zero: Maya John, Sunita Toppo and Manju Mochhary”