Tag Archives: Aruna Roy

Whatever happened to the great debate? Ankita Anand

Guest Post by ANKITA ANAND

On 6 November 2014 BBC World invited three panellists from different sectors to debate on ‘A New India: Free, Fair and Prosperous’ as part of the World Economic Forum. Issues of content and objectivity apart, one still has high expectations of a group like BBC when it comes to setting high standards of form. But this ‘debate’ fell flat on its face on all counts.

No rules of the game

One would think that in a discussion like this all three panellists would bring in varied viewpoints due to their specialization in their individual sectors. However, if one wants to quote either the minister or the corporate voice in the debate, it would require constant rechecking to distinguish who said what. Of course businnesses and governments need not always be in conflict with each other. But this smooth overlapping can be dangerous if those who are to be at the receiving end of this coalition between corporate bodies and governing bodies get completely left out. So for all practical purposes, instead of having three distinct voices, the format of the session (to keep calling it a debate would be to perpetuate technical erroneousness) was two against one. The yesmanship resulting out of this format naturally dulled the sparkling energy any debate worth its salt should have. Continue reading Whatever happened to the great debate? Ankita Anand

Resisting the Second Childhood: Towards Universal Pension in India

Guest post by AKHIL KATYAL

Ashiya Begum, an elderly widow, had worked as a road construction labourer after her husband’s death. She recalls that when all the workers used to have lunch by the construction site, she tried to sleep under the bushes as there was no food and it was better than seeing others eat. When the pangs of hunger grew insistent, she would drink a lot of water and then tie her saree end tightly around her stomach and continue to work. At night if the children cried and she had nothing to feed them, she peeped out of her tent to neighbours’ utensils and used to beg a glass of ganji (water which is to be drained out of rice once it is cooked) from them. Everybody got 5-6 spoonfuls of ganji before sleeping. Sometimes in the evening, after the road construction work, she cooked in other people’s houses. They gave her four rotis that the entire family ate…‘Even if I tell you (what we eat to survive),’ she told the researcher, ‘will you ever be able to feel what we eat?’
–          from the ‘Study on Destitution and Hunger’, Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi

Old age mostly inspires the sentiment of the universal in us, the aesthetics of the general, so much so that when we speak of the old, we often let go of the specific and relish statements that tend to be as wide-ranging as they could be naïve: the old are wiser, we say, the age is just a number, our frames turn more literary, more contemplative, it is the dusk of life, we think, or sometimes being metaphorical, we consider to be old to be in a second childhood. The last one is Aristophanes, no less. Continue reading Resisting the Second Childhood: Towards Universal Pension in India

The Lokpal- NCPRI approach: the right to differ

In the midst of the overwhelming focus on Anna Hazare and the campaign around a bill that lacks consistency or clarity, both legal or ethical, below is a letter from Aruna Roy drawing our attention to an alternative approach to the Lokpal. It is an existing process for us to partake in, agree, disagree and/or rally behind.

Click here for more information on this alternative.

A letter from Aruna Roy

We write to you on a matter of mutual and common concern, the
Lokpal bill, now in Parliament. The context of this letter is
explained below.When the Joint Drafting Committee of the Lokpal was working on the Jan
Lokpal ,  the NCPRI had written to the Chair, Shri Pranab Mukherjee,
and the co-chair Shri Shanti Bhushan, enquiring about the TORs and the
process of and participation, in public consultation. Both assured us
that there would be formal public consultation. It did not happen.

When the government bill went to cabinet with the intention of placing
it in the monsoon session of parliament, the NCPRI decided to make its
position known. The NCPRI is continuing with its deliberations and
consultations and has  prepared an approach paper and a set of
principles for circulation. This is a work in progress.

The belief in consultations and discussion is the reason why we write to you. Continue reading The Lokpal- NCPRI approach: the right to differ