Guest post by SIDDHARTH PETER DE SOUZA and SABA SHARMA
In a world where breaking news cycles drive our imagination and interaction with events and incidents around us, it often becomes difficult to not to have a fragmented idea of trends because they evolve and develop so rapidly. Does this volume of information necessarily imply that we become unable to view similar types of stories because they are portrayed as isolated, anomalous and disconnected? Is this also because it is much more comfortable to forget, rather than remember and reflect on an accumulation of incidents that maybe unpleasant, inglorious and inconvenient. Amartya Sen recently stated that “The problem is not that Indians have turned intolerant. In fact to the contrary we have been much too tolerant of intolerance”. Is our numbness because we are overwhelmed by these incidents or because we perceive them to be isolated without an underlying systemic pattern?
Intolerance Tracker is a visual story telling and crowd-mapping platform that seeks to engage with some of these issues. The idea of using a map is because it provides a compelling medium through which information can be consolidated, and presented across temporal and spatial boundaries.
It aims to utilize the power of the community to identify, report and map instances of intolerance across South Asia, and organically create and curate a visual storytelling database. This initiative is primarily led by students at the University of Cambridge, and has been set up on an entirely voluntary basis by people who are passionate and committed to the cause of documenting intolerance across the region. Continue reading Intolerance Tracker – A Community Curated Visual Storytelling Platform: Siddharth Peter de Souza and Saba Sharma
Guest post by SABA SHARMA
From the crisis in Iraq, a story is emerging of 40 construction workers in Mosul who have gone missing, some reports claim because they were trying to escape from the city and were captured by militants in the process. Many of these workers, feared kidnapped by ISIS, refused both their employers’ and the Indian government’s help to evacuate, as many have not been paid up to five months’ wages. Another report reveals that a group of 46 nurses from Kerala, working in a hospital in Tikrit, have refused to leave despite an offer from Delhi to help them evacuate. They need the money, as do their families back at home, so they would rather move to a safe zone in Iraq than return. Two nurses in the same hospital, who are on holiday in India, told the BBC that they would return despite the travel advisory issued by India advising citizens not to travel to Iraq. For them, failing to return means defaulting on loans taken to pay recruitment agents.
A few days before, on June 16, the NDA government announced that it was looking at liberalizing labour laws, primarily to make easier the retrenchment of workers. The UPA, and former PM Manmohan Singh in particular, also had labour law reform as an agenda, propelled by constant laments from industry saying ‘obsolete’ labour laws hindering growth and holding back the economy. The Vansundhara Raje government is already amending some state-level acts in Rajasthan to ‘liberate the corporate sector from the shackles of stringent requirements of the laws’, as one report put it.
Continue reading From Baghdad to Bolangir – Labour Laws in India: Saba Sharma
Guest post by SABA SHARMA
Since the evening of the 1st of May, it has been reported that at least 23 people have been killed in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts in Assam, administered under the Bodoland Territorial Council. All the victims were from the Muslim community, and were allegedly shot by the militant Bodo group, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit), named after its ruthless leader Songbijit, from the Karbi Anglong area in Assam. Indefinite curfew has been imposed here and in neighbouring districts as well, as rumours of other killings and beatings filter in, impossible to separate from facts in the atmosphere of panic that currently prevails.
Polling ended in the Kokrajhar constituency in Assam on the 24th of April, ending a temporary sense of calm and normalcy. Ethnic violence between Bodos and Bengali Muslims took place in July 2012, majorly affecting Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri district. Nearly 5 lakh people were displaced from their homes, and most did not return until January 2013, staying in relief camps, too afraid to return. Once the camps were formally shut down and people returned to their homes, normalcy was still a distant reality. An economic boycott imposed by Bodo leaders on the Bengali Muslim community meant that agricultural labour, a primary occupation for Bengali Muslims, was all but non-existent. In the last year, this economic boycott has slowly been relaxed in some areas, while in other areas, it prevails as strongly as ever. In most areas, markets were among the first spaces to become mixed again, an almost neutral zone where people began to interact with one another again. But in other markets, like Koila Moila bazaar in Chirang, Muslims are still ‘banned’. Continue reading The Carnage in Kokrajhar: Saba Sharma