Acid violence: The faceless women you can’t forget #VAW


 

Nita Bhalla and Sonali Mukherjee pictured at a sikh temple in New Delhi which has given Mukherjee shelter. | Photo Ahmad MasoodNita Bhalla and Sonali Mukherjee pictured at a sikh temple in New Delhi which has given Mukherjee shelter. | Photo Ahmad Masood

Source: TrustLaw | Nita Bhalla

Since I met her over a week ago, I have been unable to forget.

Every morning as I put on my lipstick and black eyeliner in front of the mirror, I am reminded of her face. Or lack of it.

Sonali Mukherjee, 27, is one of hundreds of women across the world who have lost their faces, and their will to survive, as a result of one of the most heinous crimes against women I have come across: Acid violence.

Nine years ago, three men broke into Sonali’s home in the east Indian city of Dhanbad as she slept, and threw concentrated acid over her face.

The highly corrosive chemical caused 70 percent burns to her face, neck and arms and melted away the skin and flesh on her nose, cheeks and ears – leaving her almost blind and partially deaf.

Sonali, who was a 17-year-old college student at the time of the attack, had rejected their sexual advances for months and when she threatened to call the police, they took their revenge.

Despite multiple painful skin reconstructive surgeries, she still looks nothing like the photographs taken before the attack – a smiling pretty, confident, young woman who took pride in her appearance and who wanted to be a teacher in India‘s poor and marginalised tribal areas.

Sonali says she is living “half a life with half a face” and has endured so much mental and physical pain over the years, that she is now pleading with the government to allow her to end her life. Euthanasia is illegal in India.

 

According to London-based charity, Acid Survivors Trust International, around 1,500 acid attacks are reported globally each year, with 80 percent of them on women. Figures are likely to be much higher, though, as many victims are too scared to speak out.

Acid attacks are not specific to any one country, but are more common in India and other South Asian nations such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal as well as in Cambodia and Uganda.

Many of the attacks on women, like that on Sonali, are simply because men in these deeply patriarchal societies cannot handle rejection of love or a marriage proposal by a woman and decide to take revenge.

In a conservative culture where women are largely still judged by their looks, rather than by their attitudes, education, career or achievements, throwing a bottle of cheap and easily available hydrochloric acid over them is guaranteed to ruin their lives.

No one will marry them, employ them or even want to be seen with them. Their families, which are often poor, are burdened with the expense of years of medical treatment and soon run out of money – forcing victims with “half faces” to hide indoors, isolated and unable to return to the life they once had.

Despite the long-term financial, medical and psychological support vital for victims, little compensation, if any, is given by authorities.

As a result, these faceless women are left forgotten – but if you meet them, you simply cannot forget.

 

Obituary- French film-maker Chris Marker ( 1911-2012)


French film-maker Chris Marker dies

The controversial Left Bank Cinema director scored an arthouse hit with Sans Soleil and made the brilliant, haunting, highly influential La Jetée

The Guardian

Film director Chris Marker, who has died aged 91

Film director Chris Marker, who has died aged 91

Chris Marker, the enigmatic master of left-field French cinema, has died at the age of 91. The artist and film-maker was best known for his award-winning documentary Sans Soleil and for his haunting drama La Jetée, charting the quest for memory in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse.

  1. La Jetee
  2. Production year: 1962
  3. Country: France
  4. Runtime: 29 mins
  5. Directors: Chris Marker
  6. More on this film

Born Christian François Bouche-Villeneuve, Marker fought for the French Resistance and then cut his teeth as a journalist and a critic for Cahiers du Cinéma. He made his film debut with Olympia 52, a documentary on the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, and went on to become a leading light of the Left Bank Cinema movement alongside his friends Agnès Varda and Alain Resnais. In 1961 he sparked controversy with the documentary Si Cuba, a film that praised Fidel Castro, denounced America and was promptly banned in the US.

Marker’s other notable pictures include 1985’s AK, an essay on the work of the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa, and 1977’s A Grin Without a Cat, charting the socialist struggle in the period before and after the 1968 Paris uprisings. He scored an arthouse hit with 1983’s Sans Soleil, his elliptical meditation on travel and memory that darted from Japan to Africa via an appreciation of the 1958 thriller Vertigo. Hitchcock’s movie, said the director, was the only film “capable of portraying impossible memory, insane memory”.

Yet Marker’s most influential production remains 1962’s La Jetée, a 29-minute drama composed almost entirely of still images and tracing one man’s attempt to reclaim an image from his past. Marker’s poetic, provocative meld of global catastrophe and human frailty went on to inspire the 1987 drama The Red Spectacles and Terry Gilliam’s 1995 blockbuster 12 Monkeys.

The teasing, elliptical nature of Marker’s work was reflected in the man himself. He refused to give interviews, hated being photographed and claimed to have born in Mongolia despite contradictory sources that suggested he was a native of Paris. All of which, wrote the critic David Thomson, fostered the notion of Marker as “some mysterious if ideal figure, a hope or a dream more than an actual person”. He was, Thomson added, “the essential ghost”.

Landmark Ruling in Nambia on HIV+ve Women Sterilized


 

Johannesburg– In a landmark judgment, the High Court in Windhoek found today that the Namibian government had coercively sterilised three HIV-positive women in violation of their basic rights.

“This decision is a significant victory for HIV positive women in Namibia,” said Nicole Fritz, the Executive Director of the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC). “This ruling affirms not only the rights of HIV positive women but also of all women to access their sexual and reproductive rights.”

The case, H.N. and Others v Government of the Republic of Namibia involved three HIV-positive women who sought to access pre-natal services at public hospitals in Namibia. The three women ranged in age from mid-20s to mid-40s when they were sterilised. All three were sterilised without their informed consent while accessing such services.

Ruling in the women’s favour, the High Court held that obtaining consent from women when they were in severe pain or in labour did not constitute informed consent. The Court further found that failure to obtain the three women’s informed consent violated the women’s rights under common law.

The women will be awarded damages, although the amount is still to be decided.

“These three cases represent only the tip of the iceberg because numerous HIV positive women have come forward alleging they were similarly subjected to coerced sterilisation at public hospitals in Namibia,” said Fritz.

Dozens of other cases have been documented throughout Namibia of HIV positive women being subjected to coerced sterilisation. However, despite significant evidence of the widespread practice throughout Namibia, little action has been taken to address this problem.

“This decision is the first step in ensuring that no other women will be coercively sterilised in public hospitals in Namibia,” said Priti Patel, SALC Deputy Director. “Now the government must meaningfully investigate all the other cases to ensure justice for every woman who has been coercively sterilised.”

For more information

Nicole Fritz, +27 82 600 1028, nicolef@salc.org.za

Priti Patel, +1 347 526 0831, pritip@salc.org.za

Nyasha Chingore, +27 83 784 8496, nyashac@salc.org.za

 

The great unmentionable in disability politics #mustread


 

English: Barnstar for WikiProject Disability

English: Barnstar for WikiProject Disability (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

RAHILA GUPTA , 31 July 2012

 

 “I felt there was no space for me to express grief at my son’s disability”. The grief of those who care for people with a disability is betrayal of the Cause.  Rahila Gupta asks: how do you value disability at the same time as mourn the loss of ability?

Most political movements at their inception demand radical resolution of the wrongs and injustices that they have been set up to overturn – and the disability movement is no different. My first brush with the movement happened in the 80s when I began the battle for a proper education for my son who had cerebral palsy as a result of a difficult and negligent birth. There was a huge amount of institutional oppression and individual prejudice which was hard to fight as an individual both in physical and emotional terms. There was no right to a mainstream education enshrined in the law and various groups of parents and carers of disabled children and disabled people themselves came to our support at critical moments in the struggle. As I had been involved in race and gender politics, it would have been a natural transition to become active in the wider disability movement, a transition I did not make and which I put down to a lack of time then. Gradually I became aware that there were some deep seated reservations which I had not articulated even to myself. Only now, ten years after I lost my son, I realise that the contradictions of the movement had me in a vice like grip which I can only now begin to untangle.

There is no doubt that the history of disabled people is littered with the most grotesque and inhumane attempts to wipe them off the face of this earth – even progressive socialists, like the Fabians, of the early twentieth century supported the idea of eugenics to create a super race until Hitler’s experiments with it consigned the idea to the scrapheap.  Of course, the first step towards unwinding this hatred would be to promote positive images of disabled people, of the excavation of a hidden history of great contributions, of heroic stories, of moving towards light and glory, of asserting the right to exist, of being and becoming visible. It has been the inevitable pattern, with some variations, of the feminist, anti-racist and gay movements among others. But this is where the similarity ends, or should end. Whereas the attributes of sex or race or sexual orientation become a ‘handicap’ because of patriarchy, racism or heterosexism, there is a point at which impairment becomes a ‘handicap’ not merely because of disablism but a condition which can cause pain, discomfort, aggravation and frustration to the individual concerned, regardless of how far society travels in its attitudes and how far technology succeeds in bridging that gap.

This is not to promote the suffering, helpless victims deserving of charity narrative. Important insights have emerged from the disability movement which challenge those narratives, namely the distinction between the medical and social models of disability. The medical model sees disability as an individual problem to be ‘cured’ and ‘treated’ whereas the social model recasts this as a problem inherent in the way that society and the physical environment have been structured, so wheelchair users cannot attend a meeting not because they are in wheelchairs but because no ramps have been provided.  As Vic Finkelstein puts it, ‘What was paramount was our focus on the need to change the disabling society rather than make us fit for society.’

I completely agree with the flaws of ‘the fit for society’ model. And yet, and yet what about being fit for your own sake?. Somewhere between the medical and social model stood individuals like me and my son. We did both: I campaigned for schools to admit him which meant they had to do a lot more to become accessible than merely provide ramps but devise and implement policies of inclusion and initiate a thoroughgoing change of attitudes. At the same time, I tried Botox on the advice of the doctors so that it might make his eating more efficient, his muscles less stiff and therefore less painful. He had operations on his leg muscles to prevent his hips becoming dislocated. He wore a variety of splints and braces, the line between chasing a ‘cure’ or increasing comfort often a blur.

The attempt to rescue disability from its tragic status tipped over into a glorification of disability. A similar trend was apparent in the early days of the women’s movement when it was impossible to be openly critical of mothers or to even admit the possibility that women could be violent. The great immigration lawyer Steve Cohen said towards the end of his life when severe arthritis had all but stopped his campaigning and writing, ‘I’m not disabled and proud, I’m disabled and pissed off!’ Like him, I felt there was no space for me to express grief at my son’s disability. It was the great unmentionable in disability politics – the grief of those who care for them. How do you value disability at the same time as mourn the loss of ability? By separating the disability from the person, by valuing the disabled person, would be one answer, another version of the biblical exhortation to ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’. It is, of course, hard to separate these in practice: the disability is so much a part of a disabled person’s identity that any comment on the disability feels like an assault on the person.  I raised these knotty questions in The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong,  a dramatic monologue performed at the Arts Theatre in London last June, in which I recount the story of our struggle and triumphs in the fight for my son’s rights. Perhaps it is the intense love for my son that permeates the Ballad that gives me the ‘permission’ to mourn his loss of ability.

There are some who see disability as a gift, a position which finds particular favour among religious groups. Eleanore Stump, an American Professor of Philosophy, argues that suffering makes one grow and narrates approvingly  the story of a mother with an autistic child ‘who came to see that even the suffering (i.e. her autistic child) of her life was a gift’ in her book, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering. The language and perspective of this position, while trying to be positive, would be dismissed by most disabled people because of its equation between suffering and disability.

This idea of disability as a gift, as something special and worth reproducing was taken to its logical, but in my view extremely troubling, conclusion by a deaf couple in 2008 who wanted the right to select an embryo with the deaf gene. They wanted their child to be part of a proud linguistic minority although it was not clear why a hearing child could not be brought up in that culture with the additional advantages that hearing brings such as the ability to enjoy music. The argument as seen from the perspective of the disability lobby is twofold: an interpretation of equality, if you have the right to discard a deaf foetus, you should have the right to discard a hearing foetus rather than an equality between people with more strings to their bow; and doing anything that reduces the number of disabled people in the world is evidence of discrimination, an argument that underpins the opposition to abortion and the right to die movement.

Definitions of impairment are becoming wider so that, from some perspectives, the size of the disabled community in most societies is larger than ever.  Laying claim to greater numbers has often been the strategy used by minorities to tackle their powerlessness – black people claiming powerful ‘white’ men and women rumoured to have black antecedents as their own, for example – although as we have seen numbers are no guarantee of increased bargaining power as women are still widely oppressed.

As political movements mature and strengthen, they move from striking either/or positions to a recognition of the complexity of human situations and responses. Having established its presence, a movement does not feel threatened by a multiplicity of opposing views. I believe the disability movement is at that point. Baroness Jane Campbell, Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in 2008, ‘I believe our position as disabled people is fundamentally different to what it was 20, 10, even 5 years ago. I believe we have a powerful voice.’  She argues that is time for the disability movement to join forces with other disadvantaged groups, even carers, because ‘the ideas of the disability movement – barrier removal, reforming public services to give people greater control over their own lives, and equality legislation based on accommodating difference rather than ignoring it – are the blueprint for the next stages of promoting equality and human rights overall.’  The movement should be ready to accommodate a carer’s perspective without feeling threatened and to explore the contradictions that dishearten potential allies.

 

 

 

Bowing to local opposition, Maharashtra government cancels four SEZs including Mahindra and Mahindra’s #goodnews


 

Mahindra Group Logo

Mahindra Group Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

30 JUL, 2012,, ET

 

MUMBAI: Bowing to opposition from the local communities, Maharashtra government today cancelled four proposed Special Economic Zones(SEZs).

 

The decision was taken at a meeting between Industries Minister Narayan Rane and board members of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation here.

 

“We have cancelled four SEZs, which were facing strong opposition from the locals,” Rane told reporters later.

 

Mahindra and Mahindra SEZ was to come up on 3,000 thousand hectares in Mawal in Pune districtIndia Bulls SEZ was to come up on 1,936 hectares at Ranjankhar, Raigad district. Videocon Realty and Infrastructure SEZs were to come up at Gandheli, Aurangabad and at Pune‘s Wagholi, on areas of 2,763 and 1,000 hectares respectively.

 

“The locals, especially the farmers, were strongly against these SEZs. At Gandheli, police even had to lathicharge (to disperse the protests),” said Rane.

 

The senior Congress Minister also said that most of these lands were under irrigation, which was another reason. “We (MIDC) have adopted a policy wherein the land under irrigation is not acquired for the industrial purpose.

 

Rohingya Muslims: A brief history of centuries-long persecution


 

By Syed Zubair Ahmad, Two circles. net

The recent ethnic clashes between the Rohingya Muslims and the Buddhist community in the Rakhine (or Arakan) province of Myanmar have attracted global attention though late – the latest is the UN’s decision to probe into the killings and human rights violation there. An ugly incident of rape and murder of a Buddhist woman allegedly by three Rohingya Muslims in the end of May this year turned into a disaster for Rohingya Muslim community in Myanmar.

There are more than 800,000 Rohingyas residing in Burma, mostly in the province of Rakhine. According to several UN reports, Rohingyas are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. The military Junta striped Rohingyas off all the rights of a citizen through a law called Citizenship Law in 1982, thus making Rohingyas the only stateless community of the world.

Who are Rohingyas?
The history of Rohingya community in Burma goes back to 8th century as they claim to be original settlers of Rakhine (Arakan) province the country while tracing their ancestry to Arab traders. Bengali Muslims from neighboring Bengal (which then included Bangladesh also) started arriving in Rakhine after King Narameikhla (1430–1434) retained his throne with the help of Sultan of Bengal of that time. Besides, a large number of Bengalis migrated to Rakhine during the British rule which encouraged Bengali inhabitants to migrate to fertile valleys of Arakan as agriculturalists.

Rohingyas practice Sunni Islam. Because the government restricts educational opportunities for them, many pursue only basic Islamic studies.


A group of Rohingya Muslims fleeing Rakhine state in Myanmar – photo:Reuters

The British census of 1891 reported 58,255 Muslims in Arakan. By 1911, the Muslim population had increased to 178,647. However as of 2012, there are more than 800,000 Rohingyas residing in Myanmar, most of them in the province of Rakhine.

A brief history of persecution of Rohingyas
This is not the first time that Rohingya Muslims were persecuted in Myanmar. In their history, such mass killings and exodus have happened several times.

The annexation of the independent province of Rakhine in 1784 by the Burmese government came up with discriminatory policies and persecution of Rohingyas. They were marginalized and the Myanmar government put several restrictions on their movement, their marriage, and constantly confiscated their land and drove them to annihilation. It is said as many as 35,000 Arakanese people fled to the neighbouring Chittagong region of British Bengal in 1799 to avoid Burmese persecution and seek protection from British India. The Burmese rulers executed thousands of Arakanese men and deported a considerable portion of the Arakanese population to central Burma, leaving Arakan as a scarcely populated area by the time the British occupied it

During World War II, Japanese forces invaded Burma, then under British colonial rule. The British forces retreated and in the power vacuum left behind, considerable violence erupted. This included communal violence between Buddhist Rakhine people and Muslim Rohingya villagers. The period also witnessed violence between groups loyal to the British and Burmese nationalists. The Rohingyas supported the Allies during the war and opposed the Japanese forces. The Japanese committed atrocities toward thousands of Rohingyas, including rape, torture, and murder. In this period, some 22,000 Rohingya are believed to have crossed the border into Bengal, then part of British India, to escape the violence. Some 40,000 Rohingya eventually fled to Chittagong after repeated massacres by the Burmese and Japanese forces.

In 1947, Rohingyas formed Mujahid Party which supported jihad movement in northern Arakan. The aim of Mujahid Party was to create a Muslim Autonomous state in Arakan. But after the 1962 coup d’etat by General Ne Win, military operations targeted them over a period of two decades. The prominent one was “Operation King Dragon” which took place in 1978; as a result, many Muslims in the region fled to neighboring country Bangladesh as refugees. Over 200,000 Rohingyas are said to have fled to Bangladesh following the ‘King Dragon’ operation of the Myanmar army. Officially this campaign aimed at “scrutinizing each individual living in the state, designating citizens and foreigners in accordance with the law and taking actions against foreigners who have filtered into the country illegally.” This military campaign, in effect, directly targeted civilians, and resulted in widespread killings, rape and destruction of mosques and further religious persecution.

During 1991-92 a new wave of atrocities forced over a quarter of a million Rohingyas to flee to Bangladesh. They reported widespread forced labor, as well as summary executions, torture, and rape. They said they were forced to work without pay by the Burmese army on infrastructure and economic projects, often under harsh conditions. Many other human rights violations occurred in the context of forced labor of Rohingya civilians by the security forces.

The present alarming situation
In its latest report issued on July 19, 2012 the rights group Amnesty International has slammed the increasing human rights abuses and arbitrary detention of Muslims in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state.

“It is the duty of security forces to defend the rights of everyone – without exception or discrimination – from abuses by others, while abiding by human rights standards themselves,” said Benjamin Zawacki, Amnesty International’s Myanmar Researcher.


A group of Rohingya Muslim asylum seekers in Delhi in May 2012

The group accused both security forces and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists of increasing attacks on the Rohingya Muslims, killing, rape, arbitrary detention of Muslims and destroying their properties, urging the Myanmarese authorities to put an end to the violent action.

“Amnesty International has also received credible reports of other human rights abuses against Rohingyas and other Rakhine Muslims– including physical abuse, rape, destruction of property, and unlawful killings – carried out by both Rakhine Buddhists and security forces,” said the group in its report.

After the recent wave of ethnic cleansing (May-July 2012), according to the Amnesty report, between 50,000 and 90,000 people – with lower figures coming from the government and higher ones from UN agencies– are estimated to have been displaced.

Amnesty International has called on Myanmar’s Parliament to amend or repeal the 1982 Citizenship Law to ensure that Rohingyas are no longer stateless.

“Under international human rights law and standards, no one may be left or rendered stateless. For too long Myanmar’s human rights record has been marred by the continued denial of citizenship for Rohingyas and a host of discriminatory practices against them,” concluded the report.

Decades of discrimination have left the Rohingya Muslims stateless, with Myanmar implementing restrictions on their movement and withholding land rights, education and public services, according to another report released by Turkish charity group the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (İHH).

The report, released on 21st July 2012, states that Rohingya Muslims, who are seen as foreigners by nationalist Myanmar leaders and extremist Buddhists and are denied citizenship by the government because it considers them illegal settlers from neighboring Bangladesh, do not have the freedom to travel. In order to travel from one village to another, they have to pay taxes to the government.

The report underlines that there is a great number of Rohingya Muslims who are detained, subjected to torture and raped, adding that it was difficult to accurately determine their identities or numbers.


Rohingya Muslim asylum seekers who were given a shelter by Zakat Foundation of India with makeshift huts in Kanchan Kunj locality near Sarita Vihar in Delhi

According to this report, Rohingya Muslims are not allowed to renovate their mosques or schools without the permission of the government, adding that anyone caught renovating these buildings without permission would be sent to jail. The report also adds that a new mosque or school has not been built in over 20 years.

They cannot benefit from the social services provided by the state, including health services, underlines the report, adding that Muslims do not have the right to work in government offices.

According to the report, a Muslim who commits an illegal act is not allowed to defend himself and is sent directly to jail. The report also underlines that Muslims can be forced to work for Buddhists or the government without any payment.

A human catastrophe is happening in Burma which needs immediate attention of the world community. The world community should intervene into this inhuman genocide that has been happening in Burma for a long time.
(Syed Zubair Ahmad is a Writer & Journalist. He can be reached at smzubairahmad@gmail.com)

 

With most workers fleeing in terror, unions pin hopes on fair probe #Maruti


 

Aditi Nigam

MARUTI MANESAR VIOLENCE

New Delhi, July 29:

Analysts don’t see ‘light at the end of the tunnel, at least for the time being’ for Maruti’s Manesar plant, but the workers in its Gurgaon plant are hopeful.

“Our two jewels (here), Swift and DZire are made in Manesar. We are doing our bit to ensure immediate lifting of the lock-out there so that work restarts,” Kuldeep Janghu, General Secretary of Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union, told Business Line.

But will all the Manesar workers be taken back, or will new workers be recruited? Janghu smiled, but did not answer the question. As of now, most of Maruti Manesar workers have fled or are underground.

In 2011, there were 970 permanent workers, about 1,100 contract workers, 400-500 trainees and 200-300 apprentices. Some permanent and contract workers were suspended after last year’s strike.

The lock-out followed the violence on July 18 that led to the gruesome death of an HR Manager, left about 90 officers injured and caused a fire in the administrative block. About 3,000 workers fled their homes overnight.

Ironically, the lock-out notice has been pasted on the main gate in Hindi and English alongside a black marble plaque with “Maruti Suzuki Employees Union, IMT, Manesar, Gurgaon (Regd no 1923), Established on March 1, 2012” written in golden letters. The tension is palpable and an air of suspicion hangs in the area.

Investigations on

The Haryana Government has set up a special investigation team and the Maruti management is merging its findings with it. The Japanese Embassy is said to be conducting its own probe.

The questions are many. What went wrong in the once buzzing car plant that catapulted as a market leader in the country? Why did the workers, most of them in their 20s, who carried out a peaceful and prolonged struggle last year, suddenly turn violent? What were the 300-odd bouncers hired by the company doing? Why didn’t the Haryana Police act? Wouldn’t one teargas shell or one firing in the air have dispersed the miscreants? The police could brutally cane Honda workers in 2005, so why not in this case? The dead HR Manager’s wife, too, has raised some of these questions.

Corporate statements abound and accounts of the injured managers have started trickling in. But, to reach any fair conclusion about the ‘good, bad and the ugly’, the camera has to zoom into every nook and corner of the scene.

The First Information Report by Maruti reportedly names 55 workers and has added 600 others. “Some 90-odd workers, many of whom were on the other shifts, have been picked up,” Janghu said. “They can be made to say anything in custody,” added another worker. Clearly, they did not trust the Haryana Government probe team and wanted a CBI inquiry.

There is terror in the villages where these workers stayed, said Satbir, President of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, which has sought a judicial inquiry. “Anyone is being picked up by the police to make up for the figure of 600. They are also picking up parents and family members and harassing them,” he added.

A Maoist angle is also being floated. “It is too premature. Could be anything, could be Maruti’s competitors, could be Maoists, could be a section of workers or the management,” Janghu said.

Area unions admitted that the situation in Manesar was “worrisome”, but warned against the danger of demonising all workers, which was adding to the panic among the huge casual workforce, largely from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

Widespread concerns

“The tendency to demonise all workers is not good for industrial relations in the belt. The massive turn-out in the July 25 Honda factory meeting signals the widespread concerns of workers,” said Satbir.

Workers from Maruti’s Gurgaon plant, Suzuki Powertrain, Suzuki Castings, Suzuki Motocycle, Lumax Auto Technologies, Satyam Auto Components, Endurance Technologies, Hi-Lex India Pvt Ltd, Rico and others attended the meeting despite prohibitory orders.

Not just factory labour, about 30,000 workers attached to Maruti Manesar plant vendors are also sitting idle, said Satbir.

The huge casual workforce, a critical mass of this industrial belt, is living on the edge, with no laws to protect their livelihood, no social or job security, poor working and living conditions.

“In Manesar, the rent for one small room is a minimum of Rs 3,000. With inflation and rising transport costs, and a cut to the contractors, there is nothing left. Some companies even deduct provident fund and ESI from contract workers’ wages but do not submit these,” said Janghu.

According to the National Sample Survey Organisation, between 2004-2005 and 2009-2010, the number of casual workers increased by 21 million, while regular workers increased by only 5.8 million.

Corporates blame rigid labour laws for their increasing dependence on casual labour. But, unions do not buy this.

“Who follows labour laws? Two years ago, 11 workers died in a Panipat factory. None of them were registered. When we approached the Haryana Labour Department, we were told that the factory itself was not registered,” Satbir.

“The problem is that 21st century corporates have 15th century mindset when it comes to treating workers. You can’t turn half the wheel of development back,” he added.

aditi.n@thehindu.co.in

 

Private Organisations can now adopt BMC schools- FIRST STEP towards privatisation of Education in Mumbai


STORY HIGHLIGHTS
By Jai Maharashtra News | 26 Jul Thu, 2012

Mumbai: In a move that could be  MOST DISADVANTAGEOUS  ( orginal post says advantageous) to students of municipal schools as well as to the government, the ruling parties Shiv Sena and BJP in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken the decision to let civic schools be run by private educational institutions.

The proposal for this decision was first put forward 2 weeks ago, on the 11th of July, and the final nod came from the standing committee of the BMC on Wednesday 25th July. This was seen as a welcome move to improve the quality of education in state run government schools.

According to the decision, a private Non Governmental Organization (NGO) can select one civic school, and after approval, it will be responsible for recruitment of teaching and non teaching staff, as well as the overall functioning of the school. However, all other matters of the administration, as well as student enrollment will still be handled by the BMC.

Although some members from the Opposition were against this move, stating that the BMC was attempting to shirk its responsibility, it was pointed out that by Vitthal Kharatmol, BJP councillor and education committee chief chairman, that the move would help the students from civic schools to come up on par with better educational institutions, and would remove the inferiority complex that is associated with civic schools. Additionally, since there was no more open land for building more schools, it was hoped that this move would help make most of the existing educational land.

Many members of the opposition reacted strongly to this proposed decision while it was still under discussion, including Congressman Asif Zakaria, who sarcastically inquired whether the next move by the BMC would be to outsource its roads too. Samajwadi Party group leader Rais Sheikh said that managing civis scolls was the sole responsibility of the BMC under the Mumbai Municipal Corporation Act (MMC).

The additional municipal commissioner Mohan Adtani also promised that the civic schools would still be under the control of the BMC, and that despite the provision of better facilities by the NGO, the students would still be enrolled free of charge and not be asked to pay fees for their education. “Students will not be denied educational facilities,” he said. The ruling party asserted that far from trying to get out of their responsibility to provide free primary education to the poorer sections of society, the move would elevate the quality of teaching as well as the morale of students from civic schools.

There are currently more than 1,139 civic run schools in the state, and the attendance rates are not as good as the government would have wanted it to be.

A quarter of India’s mentally ill homeless


 

Jul 31, 2012

 

New Delhi: In the dimly-lit lobby of a shelter for the mentally-ill homeless, she sits reading the tattered printout of an e-mail from her US-based brother. The 55-year-old scans every word – her brother has sternly refused to accept her following her recovery from mental illness.

It’s a body blow but she refuses to give up. After a long and hard battle against mental illness at Sudinalaya, a shelter for such homeless women in north Delhi, the doughty woman has drawn on her inner resilience to carry on living. She misses her family, fights the rejection, but is trying to come to terms with the fact that the shelter home is perhaps her refuge – for the foreseeable future.

Agencies

“My family has refused to accept me even after recovery. I have nowhere to go, so now I have to accept this shelter home as my home,” the former schoolteacher, who is not being identified for fear of further taint, said.

“These women here are my family. I cook here and talk to friends,” the economics graduate from Nagpur, who was found on the streets last August and was treated at the the Delhi government’s Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), said in a determined voice.

Tragically, she’s not the only one.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), there are over 70 million people with some form of mental illness in the country and about a quarter of them are homeless. Experts say familial apathy and an attitudinal shift in society are pushing millions of recovered mentally-ill people into homelessness.

“A shelter home cannot replace the emotional support provided by a family,” said Sudinalaya director Sreerupa Mitra.

“I will file a petition in the high court asking whether and how much penalty can be imposed on families who abandon people in our society, put them in utmost misery and render them homeless,” Mitra told IANS.

According to Nimesh Desai, director of IHBAS, a major concern is rehabilitating those who have recovered.

“Generally, the outlook towards people with mental illness has improved. But homelessness of millions of mentally-ill is a major concern because of the changing face of society,” Desai said.

“There have been cases where the family members corner property worth crores and throw the individual into a mental asylum,” he added.

“It is frustrating to see such active deprivation of economic and social rights even in well-to-do families. Are the families falling short of physical space in their apartments or do they lack emotional space?” Desai wondered.

Interestingly, families declining to accept a loved one with a history of mental illness have been more evident in “urban and economically well-off families”, said experts.

While “legal persuasion” could be applied on families to support a patient, more often than not, patients are left with no option but to struggle in custodial asylum or languish on streets – both of which are worse after recovery.

Back at Sudinalaya, lunch is over and the utensils have been washed and put away. The now recovered woman, hoping to get back to a teaching job, heads for the carom board for a game she excelled at when in college.

“If no one comes for me, I will stay here and teach the other women this game,” she says.

IANS

 

#Mangalore Mob attack- TV reporter’s version #VAW #Moralpolicing


The shameful news of Mangalore is very well known to you all. It is a good sign that eight assailants have been arrested in relation to this case. Along with the eight of the assailants the reporter Naveen Soorinje who reported the incident first has also been booked under section unlawful activities prevention act along with the eight assailants.  A friend in mail sent the account of the shameful event and him being framed in the case.
Here is what Naveen Soorinje has to say, A TRANSLATION….
At 6.45 in the evening on July 28, one of my news sources from Padil (in Mangalore) called me. This was all he told me: “Naveen, around 30 men have gathered near the Timber Yard in Padil Junction and I overheard them talking to someone trying to coax them to gather some more people. They were instructing someone to be prepared with their motorbikes. It looks like they are planning to attack the guest house in Padil. I overheard them saying something like Muslim boys and Hindu girls.”
I asked him to find out which organization the men belonged to. All he could gather was that they were from some Hindutva organization, though he could not find out the name of the exact organization they belonged to.
The immediate thought that crossed my mind was this: “Should I inform the police right away or should I not?” The dilemma was because there was no accurate information as to who belonging to which organization was to attack whom and where. I just had very rudimentary information on hand. If the members of the organization had called me themselves, I could have indeed informed the police instantly. As the news came from a my source, I thought I should inform the police only after confirming the news. Having come to this decision, I set out on my bike to Padil along with my cameraman.
In a while, my cameraman and I were outside the guest house/ home stay named Morning Mist located on the hill in Padil. None of the attackers who eventually turned up were present at the spot then.We stood there for five minutes unable to understand why anyone would plan to attack that particular home stay which is located half a kilometer away from the highway cutting through Padil. The home stay is surrounded by a tall compound wall on all four sides. There is only one gate and 60 meters from the gate is the home stay. I stood near the gate and watched. There was nothing happening inside that could conceivably provoke an attack. A girl was sitting outside on a chair and two boys in another corner of the bungalow were absorbed in their mobile games. They were not indulging in any activity which can be considered illegal. That is the reason why I did not inform the police at that point of time. If my information turned out to be wrong, it would be an unnecessary anxiety for the entire police department.
While I was making all these calculations in my mind, I saw a group of over 30 people marching towards the home stay. Out of curiosity I asked them in Tulu: “Do you know what the matter is? What is happening here?” Some boys in the group pointed to the girl sitting outside saying: “Look, there is the girl and there are the guys…” They ran towards them, all set for attack. The girl, who realized that the group was there to attack, ran inside the bungalow and tried to close the door unsuccessfully. The group of 30 managed to run to the door and open it before the girl could close it completely.
Only at that point was I completely aware of what was happening and my conscience was also awakened. I immediately called Ravish Nayak, Inspector, Mangalore (Rural) (+91-948085330) from my official number (+91-9972570044). That must have been around 7.15 p.m. Ravish Nayaka did not receive my call. On the other hand, the assault had just begun. The girls started running helterskelter failing to understand what was happening. The police personnel were not receiving the calls being made. I asked my friend Rajesh Rao of TV-9 to call the police and Ravish Nayak did not receive the call made by Rajesh Rao either.
While I was trying to get in touch with the police inspector, the cameraman ran behind the attackers and got started on his duty of recording the action. Till then only my cameraman and I were present at the spot but were soon joined by the cameraman of Sahaya TV, Sharan, and a photographer, Vinay Krishna. I was a mute witness to all that was happening there, with the guilt of not being able to do anything. More than half the attackers had consumed alcohol and were not in a position to listen to anything. I have been witness to violent incidents in my life, but never before violence of this scale and nature. Our cameraman was running wherever the group was attacking individuals. I was watching it and screaming and requesting, “Don’t hit the girls.” My request reached the camera sound recorder but did not reach the attackers.The boys who were attacked were pleading, “Please leave us. We are having a birthday party here. Please…” and were falling at the feet of the attackers. But nothing moved the attackers. If it were to be just this, probably I could have forgotten the incident. But I saw something much more terrible and shocking.
The girls who saw the boys being trashed were shocked at the sight and ran in all directions only to be followed by the attackers. Believe it or not, one of the girls jumped down from the first floor but was caught by nearly 20 attackers who began to pull out her clothes. They slapped her and pushed her to the wall. By then the girl in pink clothes managed to run away. When the attackers caught her, she was literally stripped naked. Leaving her with only one piece of cloth the assailants molested her. This sight sent a chill down my spine. Never in my life had I seen something as horrific as this, though I had heard of such things. These were the scenes which could not become visuals for the news. Only a portion of the incident was shot. Later on, all the boys and girls partying there were locked inside a room. All this happened in a matter of 15 minutes.
When the attackers were done with one round of their planned action, Inspector Ravish along with Police S.I. Manikantha Neelaswamy and others arrived at the spot. It appeared as though the police had a tie-up with the attackers. For over half an hour the police were in conversation with the attackers. I was utterly shocked by the scene of police conversing with the them. While they were conversing, one boy who was in the partying group tried to escape, but was caught by the police. When in the custody of the police, the attackers trashed him.
By then many media persons had arrived at the spot. My cameraman and I returned to the office and uplinked all the visuals to the Bangalore office. At 8:45 p.m. the news was aired. Within no time the visuals of our channel was used by national channels and thus the incident became national news. This angered city police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar who called my friend Rajesh Rao of TV-9 who then was with me. Rajesh put the call on loud speaker while Seemanth Kumar was saying: “Why should Naveen have reported the incident? I will teach him a lesson. He not only compared this incident to the Assam incident, but also said that Mangalore is being Talibanized. This time he will be taught a lesson. We will fix him in this case and none of his contacts at any level will be of any help.” It is crystal clear from the words of Seemanth Kumar that his concern was not the attack itself, but the fact of the attack being reported.
This morning I received yet another shock. The attacked boys and girls had given statements against me at the Mangalore Rural Police Station. I was sure that those statements were given under pressure. I guess the boys and girls had heard me requesting the assailants not to trash them. By evening my doubt was cleared. Speaking to the media the attacked boys and girls said: “We haven’t complained against the media. They have stood in our support.”
Mangalore (Rural) police have filed a case against me under the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The police have arrested eight of the assailants with the help of our visuals. The incident we have reported is shameful, not the visuals we have shown. The 28 July incident at Mangalore is neither a stray incident nor are such attacks in Mangalore a new phenomenon. Every week such incidents take place. Fundamentalists not only attack boys and girls mixing with the boys and girls of another religions but also take them to the police station. This incident would have taken place even if I had not shot it. Our recording has revealed the inhuman face of the fascists and has led to the arrest of eight attackers. No matter what is said and what cases are booked against me, I believe I have done my duty as a reporter and that is the only satisfaction to my hurt self.
It doesn’t matter to me that there are complaints filed against me and an FIR has been lodged. I will be happy if the attackers are punished because of the FIR lodged against me. If I am to be freed of these charges because of some pressure and if that is going to benefit the the attackers in any way, then I do not need such freedom. No matter what punishment is given to the attackers, it will never do justice to those girls who were assaulted right in front of my eyes. Yet they need to be punished.
There is more to write, but time does not permit. If any individual or association needs more information to fight the cause or if any investigation team needs more information, I can be contacted at any time of the day.
My address:
Naveen Soorinje
Reporter
Kasturi News 24
Mangalore
Mobile: +91-9972570044. +91-8971987904