#India-*Do We Exist? -Fifth Letter From The Women Of Idinthakarai #Koodankulam #Vaw


    23 October, 2012
    From
    The Women of Idinthakarai
    People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy
    Idinthakarai
    Thirunelveli district

    Dear Sister

    We hope you are all fine. This is the fifth letter from us to all of you.
    So much has happened since we last wrote to you. As we look at the yellow
    domes of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant so close to our homes, we
    wonder what is happening there. We have one question to you all: Do you
    know exactly what is happening there?

    We have heard that fuel loading with 163 enriched uranium rods that started on Sept 16th got over by Oct 2nd. What an auspiscious day to complete the initiation of one of the most violent of processes human kind has discovered!
    The Nuclear Power Corporation of India states that the KKNPP is
    just 2 steps away from attaining criticality.
    It is also understood that the safety concerns of the villagers (does it
    mean us ?) are misplaced. At the same time the NPCIL assured the Supreme
    Court that there is no human population within 2km Exclusivity zone of the
    plant and no such colony as the Tsunami colony falls within this zone.
    Whoever wants can make a complaint or representation for which sufficient
    relocation, rehabilitation and compensation measures will be made. The
    NPCIL claims that sufficient caution has been taken about the population
    living within 5km sterilization zone of the power plant.
    We have yet another question in our minds: So WHERE ARE WE?
    Do we exist? Do we live within the exclusivity or sterilization zone? Are
    we to go and make a representation or complaint and wait for the response?
    We understand that none of our representations or appeals have been
    considered. Now how can we make a representation about something that we do
    not ever want? We do not want to be relocated or rehabilitated. We want to
    be here by the seashore in our own birthplace. We want to pursue our
    livelihoods linked to the sea and its bounties. We want good food, water
    and access to resources here in these villages. We do not want money that
    is so ephemeral. We are willing to work hard, earn and live well. This is
    the only representation that we want to make .
    We have no complaints other than dissent about the way in which the concerned authorities are unwilling to come to us and allay our fears and doubts. We want them to assure us
    that the KKNPP will not be allowed to attain criticality at the cost of our
    lives and dreams. We want our sisters and brothers languishing in the jails
    to be released. We want our peaceful resistance to be dealt with decently
    and humanely.
    This is all we have to tell you. Please share this with the world.
    We hope this will not be the last letter we are writing to you
    Thanking you
    Oct 23, 2012
    Sisters from Idinthakarai
    *Prepared by Anitha.S after talking to women of Idinthakarai *

    #India-Where women fear to tread #MP #VAW #Indiashining


    MAHIM PRATAP SINGH, The Hindu

    In the State that leads in incidents of rape, the shame-inducing statistics are pushing the administration into action

    Time was when Payal (name changed to protect her identity), a standard VII student from Madhya Pradesh’s tribal dominated Betul district, had only school, friends and family on her mind. But her little world changed dramatically in March this year.

    The 15-year-old, a resident of Betul’s Majhinagar slum, was abducted in public by a gangster, Rajesh Harore.

    Rajesh (32) then took the tribal girl to a shanty and raped her. But that was not all. Two weeks later Rajesh, along with two other men, came to her house. As the helpless teenager watched, they shot her mother dead for having approaching the police.

    Payal’s story is just one of the several thousand stories of rape that get scripted in Madhya Pradesh every year.

    Away from the kind of media glare that Haryana found itself facing after a string of rapes committed recently, in Madhya Pradesh the crime continues unabated and with impunity.

    Over the last two decades, the State has led the country in the number of rapes committed, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data (1991-2011).

    Only last year, it recorded 3,406 cases of rape, which means nine women were raped here every 24 hours.

    In the first six months of this year (January-July 2012), there were 1,927 cases of rape — an increase of 6.11 per cent over the number of rapes committed during the same period in 2010 and 2011. Overall, the State accounted for 14 per cent of the rapes committed across the country in 2011.

    Among cities, the State capital, Bhopal, with 100 rapes, was second only to the metropolises Delhi (453) and Mumbai (221), while the State’s industrial capital, Indore, stood fifth, registering 91 rapes.

    Floating population a reason

    The statistics tell a horrifying story. But why are so many women raped in Madhya Pradesh every year?

    According to the police, the State’s huge floating population is one reason. Also, they say, unlike in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan or Haryana, they never turn away a complainant. Every rape complaint is registered.

    Perhaps, another more important reason is the conservative attitude of people in M.P., as in certain other States, towards women.

    “In most parts of these States, the girl child is still considered a liability. Women are perceived to be good for only two things — sex and giving birth to a boy. It is almost like they need the women, but not the girls,” says Anuradha Shankar, Inspector-General of Police, Indore.

    Not surprisingly, the top five States in terms of the number of rapes — Madhya Pradesh (3,406), West Bengal (2,363), Uttar Pradesh (2,042), Rajasthan (1,800) and Maharashtra (1,701) — also have dismal sex ratios.

    While Madhya Pradesh (930), Rajasthan (926) and Uttar Pradesh (908) have sex ratios below the national average of 940, West Bengal (947) and Maharashtra (946) are just on the threshold.

    Attitudes within the government too are a cause for concern. At least two ministers of the Shivraj Singh Chauhan cabinet have publicly blamed victims for bringing rape upon themselves by dressing provocatively.

    In April, the Urban Development Minister, Babulal Gaur, blamed short dresses of girls for the rising number of sexual harassment cases. Three months later, the Industries Minister, Kailash Vijayvargiya, while commenting on the Guwahati molestation case, advised girls to dress in sync with Indian culture.

    He went a step ahead and said that members of the National Commission for Women team who went to probe the Guwahati incident looked like participants of a fashion show.

    Low conviction rates

    But if provocative dressing by young girls was indeed the reason for rape, more revealing are the statistics that show that rapists have no age preference when it came to choosing targets.

    According to the NCRB, Madhya Pradesh registered the highest number of rapes of women above 50 years of age, along with the maximum number of minor adolescent rapes — 1,195 cases.

    Of these, 886 girls were between 14-18 years while 309 were between 10-14 years.

    Earlier this year, the State Home Minister, Umashankar Gupta, admitted in the Vidhan Sabha that 3,176 minor girls were raped in the State over the last two years. That’s four minor girls a day.

    At 6,665 cases, M.P. also had the highest number of molestation cases during 2011. Even as rapes have been rising, conviction rates have remained low with Madhya Pradesh recording an abysmal rate of 23.6 per cent during 2011.

    Police say rape is a complicated crime and is difficult to stop since “about 65 per cent cases involve people known to the victim.”

    New department

    “Earlier this year, when a lot of rapes were being reported from Indore, we did a survey and found that 22 out of the 25 rapes reported were committed by relatives, family members or persons known to the victim,” says Ms Shankar.

    The State has been trying hard to get rid of the shame-inducing statistics. A step in that direction is the setting up of the Crime against Women (CaW) branch. Headed by ADG Aruna Mohan Rao, it was set up this June. The unit has four Inspectors-General of Police functioning under the ADG. The IGs, one each in Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Jabalpur, are tasked with monitoring cases of crime against women on a daily basis.

    Besides, there are four deputy-directors of prosecution (DDP) who monitor all cases in the courts during the trial stage in order to check the abysmal conviction rate.

    The new department has also undertaken a ground level study in order to analyse all rape cases, follow-up on pending investigation and identify reasons for low conviction rates. CaW is still in its infancy, but Ms Rao claims it has started showing results.

    “There has been an increased level of sensitisation within the police force. Only the constables are yet to be adequately sensitised but we are working towards that. We will assess the results once the specialised branch completes six months of operations,” she says. Even then, only an assessment of how safe women in Madhya Pradesh feel, will provide the true measure of CaW’s success or otherwise. Right now, they live in an atmosphere of fear and insecurity.

    Native Americans ‘slaughtered, sacrificed, fenced in reservations’ in US #Russell Means


    Published: 24 October, 2012, 16:43, RT

    Russell Means, 2008 (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)

    Russell Means, 2008 (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)

    The prominent Native American activist Russell Means passed away on Monday. In 2008 he met with RT to talk about the Native Americans withdrawal from the US, their fight for recognition and his unhappiness with US citizenship.

    At the end of 2007, a large group of Native Americans from South Dakota declared the independence of the Lakotah Republic from the United States, and renounced their US citizenship.

    Following the incident RT’s Nadezhda Kevorkova met Russell Means, who told her about his struggle for independence.

    RT: Russell, you are no longer a U.S. citizen, are you?

    Russell Means: I am not. I am a Lakotah citizen, and I really regret about those who are hesitant to terminate their U.S. citizenship.

    RT: In Russia many people dream of getting US citizenship, and they consider it stupid if anyone could’ve stayed in the U.S. under any pretext but failed to do so. What do you make of that?

    RM: The United States is a fake country that has no culture. It’s easy to manipulate such a country, and to channel its people. The U.S. has a façade shown to the rest of the world, but few know of its reverse side as thoroughly as Indians do. The picture people see is not the reality of today’s United States. Even the President who’s in office today wasn’t really elected, like back in the year 2000. Young people certainly strive to get here to achieve their dreams. But really anyone coming only has one reason: they want to become rich and successful, and they want to get their opportunities [to succeed]. Once you talk to them you realize they don’t even dream of anything beyond money-making. This was the reason Europeans came here. This is the principle of the American life. The world is sick and tired of American prosperity. The world is waking up.

    RT: You have declared the Republic of Lakotah’s independent from the United States. What has the response been like?

    RM: The world has shown a great response that’s been growing by the day. Thanks to the internet, we see how keen people are about our freedom. A large number of people support us, and welcome us. People are vividly interested in our independence. The world understands us; while the US government doesn’t.

    RT: Who’s been supporting you?

    RM: People don’t merely support us; thousands of people demonstrate their willingness to come to the Republic of Lakotah. Unlike the unfortunate refugees fleeing to the U.S., those willing to join us are highly qualified professionals – doctors, lawyers, professors, teachers, scientists, various profile engineers, computer specialists, farmers. When people employ their minds they understand the meaning, and value, and the true meaning of freedom. We’re excited about anyone. If Americans want to join us we welcome them as well. The Lakota are a free people in their free country. The global situation has never been more favorable for us.

    Chief Oliver, descendant of the legendary Chief Red Cloud, a supporter of Russell Means (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)
    Chief Oliver, descendant of the legendary Chief Red Cloud, a supporter of Russell Means (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)

    RT: There’s a notion that Native Americans are now running casinos in their reservations, and making huge profits from them.

    RM: Casinos are legalized robbery. Only weak-minded and weak-spirited would want to spend their time playing in them. There won’t be any casinos in the Republic of Lakotah. We don’t want people to be robbed under a pretext that this kind of business is profitable for a tribe.

    RT: What kind of difficulties do you expect to face, such as traveling outside the U.S. without a passport?

    RM: A passport is required to be able to return to your home country. You only need an ID within the country; and the same applies to Europe. People will need their Lakotah passports to travel the world; this is something we’ve been working on now. As for me, I don’t expect any problems leaving the country; but they may want stop me from getting back in, that’s a possibility. It would be interesting if an American-born wouldn’t be allowed to return to his homeland. According to a UN convention, all groups of nationalities have the right to their own passports. So we are operating within international law.

    RT: What is the meaning of freedom that Lakotah represents?

    RM: Today the world lives by 17th-century values. That’s when the idea emerged that interests of an individual were protected by representative democracy. Few understand that a national government isn’t the most balanced kind of representation.

    The strongest kind of representation is an association of communities where each community is a group of free citizens that guarantees their protection. The United States was intended as such a union of communities but they are no longer that way. They became an old-fashioned system of hierarchal governance.

    The Republic of Lakotah will be designed on a communities principle based on consensus between them. Each community will have their own judges, law enforcement teams, and electoral councils. A community governed by its people doesn’t need police.

    The patriarchal governance system is based on fear that produces various phobias. Men fear women, and women gain so much power that their identity gets modified. Refugees storm the state borders, and states protect their borders, maintain armies of prisoners, and practice torture and execution. The entire society is saturated with fear that’s been stirred up artificially. A patriarchal state believes in negative only, and expects negative only from its people. It was generated together with the market; and it made people its slaves.

    A union of free communities is based on the principle of freedom rather than fear. A lot of people worldwide do realize it; this is why the Republic of Lakotah has so many supporters. If racists want to join us they are welcome to come here and live in a racist community. Freedom implies an opportunity to be an idiot and to live in a community of the likes.

    RT: Native Indians aren’t represented in the U.S. Senate, or Congress, or the Supreme Court, are they?

    RM: They aren’t, and they haven’t been throughout all these centuries. We intend making the U.S. government liable for the genocide of ethnic Indians. We’re now preparing paperwork to start a case at the International Court in The Hague. We are convinced that many countries will support our cause.

    RT: Many journalists paint a picture of your program as a return to wigwams, fires and ritual dances, is it not true?

    RM: Some would probably find this picture quite attractive, but this isn’t a possibility. We have to proceed from the reality. By returning our culture we mean using all the opportunities. I’ve traveled to Europe many times, and I’ve learned of various approaches to preserving the national culture. Back in the Soviet times, I visited Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, and East Germany – everywhere except Russia and the Arctic region. So I can make comparisons between places. The United States doesn’t even have opportunities for culture; it is only focused on money and on those forms of culture that yield money. Any art that sells is the kind of art that generates profit. It’s a terrible fodder turned into a machine for generating profit.

    What we see now is the world being Americanized, the profitability principle, expanded. It’s caught up even with Russia which is however trying to resist it. We don’t want to see any further Americanization, but are no revisionists either – we aren’t calling people to going back to the Stone Age, to isolation, to an ethnographic museum type of life. Or to perform paid rituals, a kind of a spiritual prostitution that’s been involving Indians under the pretext that this is our way to preserve our identity by publicly performing our sacred dances.

    So they say, if you don’t like Columbus, and progress, and democracy, you should give up using electricity, and computers, and phones. This is exactly what we will do immediately, as soon as those strangers and immigrants get on their boats and go back to their countries.

    One of Russell Means’ achievements: A school for Native American children in Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)
    One of Russell Means’ achievements: A school for Native American children in Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)

    RT:What do you have to offer instead of the pragmatic American system?

    RM: We have a special group that’s developing a whole new system, from creating alternative energy sources to our own banks that won’t be robbing our citizens. You have no idea just how positive people are about Indians. This is something I felt quite strongly in my travels – they were positive about me just because I was an ethnic Indian rather than an American. With this kind of trust credit, we will overcome all our difficulties, together with our allies.

    The governments will have to recognize us and give us sovereignty. Their laws say it’s our land. If they refuse to do so, we will file a suit to the Supreme Court. They will have to make that decision – you know they keep talking about the supremacy of law. Now it will backfire. So far they’ve been trying to ignore us, with the American press marginalizing us. But now, with the advent of the internet, these tricks have stopped working. The best idea for them would be to sit down and negotiate. Otherwise our next step would be going to the International Court in The Hague and demanding that genocide against American Indians be recognized. And we hope that as a founder of this court, Russia will support us.

    Gandhi once said: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then condemn you, then you win.

    RT:Vladimir Putin also holds Gandhi in high esteem. He says that after Gandhi died, there is no one to talk to.You have something to build upon.

    RM: Putin was talking of the double-standard democracy in America. The US supports the sovereignty of all peoples, save for those who live in the US. So we are certain Russia will back us. There’s more on this. China’s resources are now worth around 40% of what the US has. Few people at all know that China has promised Bush a market collapse if the US attacks Iran. So there is a variety of tools for peoples to support one another.

    RT:What if special services assassinate you?

    RM: We the Indians are not afraid of death.And I haven’t been, either. Thirty-four years ago at Wounded Knee we defeated a whole army of special services. We will defeat it now, too.

    You know the best thing about the Republic of Lakotah people? For centuries they slaughtered us, sacrificed us, fenced us into reservations, and stole our land, our air, our water. But we survived! We have things to offer. By contrast, they have nothing to offer. So they pretend we are non-existent.

    RT:What are your arguments against the US government?

    RM: According to the US data, when Europeans came here, there were around 12 million Indians across 48 states. By the early 20th century, only 250,000 Native Americans survived. About 70% of Indians are refugees in their own country; they have been displaced from their own land. The US carried out an unparalleled genocide: they killed 99.6% Indians.

    The US takes pride in its commitment to law and democracy. But throughout the years, there has been no respite in wars. There are only two countries in the world that keep breaching international law non-stop: the US and Israel. The US goes as far as neglecting its own constitution, which says that we are all free and can declare independence any time.

    Right now the Republic of Lakotah is a five-state area. Six more have already supported us and would like to join us, too.

    RT: Do you want to stick to peaceful means? And if it doesn’t work out, will you take up arms?

    RM: Never. This is inefficient. If you want to fight your way to freedom, you are no different from your enemies. You can’t protect your independence by throwing swords into the scale. Look at the Soviet experience: it was a failure.

    Russell Means poses for a portrait at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, October 28, 2011 (Reuters / Joshua Lott)
    Russell Means poses for a portrait at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, October 28, 2011 (Reuters / Joshua Lott)

    RT: I was shown the houses of drug dealers in the reservation. What should one do about them?

    RM: The communities will sort it out by themselves. There are two legal drugs in the US: alcohol and tobacco. Alcohol kills 75% of the population, while tobacco kills 24%, and the remaining 1% dies of illegal drugs. One day the six of us decided to block alcohol traffic to the reservation and formed a barrier on the border with Nebraska. But then came the police. They arrested us and let the dealers get away scot- free.

    RT: But it was the Indians who introduced tobacco to the world, wasn’t it?

    RM: Indians smoke a pipe with unadulterated tobacco as part of a ceremony, while the US produces cigarettes for daily consumption without any ritual meaning but with a lot of lethal chemical drugs.

    RT: Do you smoke?

    RM: I do smoke a pipe, but no cigarettes. Anyway, I don’t inhale the smoke – just like Bill Clinton.

    RT:Americans killed all the buffalo.Now the buffalo are back and white people eat their meat in restaurants. Have they turned your basic meal into fast food?

    RM: Americans crossbred the bison bull with domestic cattle. What they eat is the meat of this hybrid. They also add beef to buffalo meat. You can only taste buffalo meat at a dancing ceremony in our state and in Wyoming.

    RT:Thanks to you, South Dakota no longer celebrates Columbus Day. Instead, it observes Native American Day. Now what about Thanksgiving? What is the true background? There are conflicting accounts that come from Europeans: that it is a celebration of the first harvest, or that Indians brought gifts and saved the settlers…

    RM: This is all a lie. Native Americans have repeatedly saved the settlers, but there are no holidays to mark this. The true story is that the pilgrims massacred Indians, so the governor of Massachusetts issued a message to thank God for that and called on the other states to follow suit. Later on they tried to give the holiday a more peaceful meaning, but there’s no changing the past.

    RT: Now what do Indians do on Thanksgiving Day?

    RM: They eat turkey. Many of them don’t know a thing about it. They are a colonized people with a changed mentality and memory. Schools don’t teach them anything. Most of them don’t even know a thing about me. They believe I’m just a cinema star. Maybe the 1890 massacre rings some bell. But they are fully unaware of our 1973 victory at Wounded Knee. And that was a true triumph of Native Americans over the US government.

    A sacred Native American mountain in South Dakota, which was destroyed to create a privately owned museum about the great indigenous Chiefs (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)
    A sacred Native American mountain in South Dakota, which was destroyed to create a privately owned museum about the great indigenous Chiefs (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)

    RT: Could you please share some statistics on how American Indians live today?

    RM: They are struggling. The life span is getting lower by the year. Men hardly live longer than 44 years, and few women are older than 47. This is worse than in the poorest African countries. The unemployment rate is about 73%. The only fluent speakers of the Lakota language are at least 65 years old, and they are few and far between. Here’s why I built a school at my ranch, where all the subjects there are taught in Lakota only.

    Every fourth baby dies. Pharmaceutical companies take the healthiest kids away from their families, send them to orphanages and test drugs on them, including psychotic ones. To make matters worse, people kidnap children from reservations and sell them for organ removal or psychiatric experiments. A few cases have been started against these kidnappers. Beating and corporal punishment is rampant in schools. For kids from the reservations school embodies violence.

    Scores of reservation dwellers are infected with tuberculosis, polio, and other diseases which have been defeated in the US. There are many more instances of hypertension and diabetes in reservations than in the areas populated by white Americans.

    The reason for that is this particular free fodder that generations of our people have been fed. This free food contains nothing but carbs, while two thirds of our people cannot afford buying proper food. No other place in the United States has such death and disease rates as we do. Our water is intoxicated by uranium mines located in the Reservation. People living near uranium deposits suffer from cancer and all the associated diseases; women suffer miscarriages, and deliver unhealthy babies. Poor living conditions, uranium-intoxicated water and bad nutrition are the three reasons that have been killing off my people. We tried going all kinds of other ways such as rebellions, protests, marches, addresses, and strikes, but nothing got changed. The Republic of Lakotah was declared in the name of rescuing our people that the U.S. government didn’t care about. We began to die out, but we don’t want to anymore.

    Most of tribal unions aren’t doing anything but cooperate with the colonial regime. They are like the Vichy Government under Hitler – merely making an impression of self-governance in the reservations. But they are even worse than the occupants. They are now spreading rumors that we hadn’t consulted with our people and chiefs. This isn’t true. We did consult with those who are respected by people rather than the authorities. We reached an agreement with a hundred out of over 500 tribes, and with 480 families of several hundred people each. There are those in our tribes who we call miniature oligarchs, the caricature millionaires who made money on troubles of their people by selling alcohol and TVs. They also want to keep the current state of things otherwise they would lose their platform for developing their business. This mockery of life had ended on 17th December 2007. We are free. The Indian ‘Vichy’ wanted to keep their power over the Indian souls; but the Republic of Lakotah put an end to it.

    Vietnam War veteran Harry Roland, the director of the Wounded Knee Museum (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)
    Vietnam War veteran Harry Roland, the director of the Wounded Knee Museum (Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova)

     

    #India- Union govt okays free fertility treatment for Parsis


    DNA / DNA Correspondent / Friday, October 19, 2012 7:30 IST
    The Union government has approved a proposal by the minority affairs ministry to bear the cost of fertility treatment in
    order to arrest the decline of Parsi population in the country. A similar proposal by the ministry had been shot down
    by the planning commission in 2010 on the grounds that it would spur demands from other communities as well,
    thereby disturbing the health ministry’s family welfare programme designed to control rising population.
    In the 12th Plan budget, the Planning Commission has allowed the minority affairs ministry to spend Rs2 crore in in
    the current fiscal to organise fertilitycamps in areas concentrated by the community in Mumbai, Gujarat and Kolkata.
    The amount will also be utilised to create awareness on in-vitro fertilisation or IVF technique adoption to increase
    fertility by engaging health volunteers.
    Planning Commission member Sayeeda Sayeedain Hamid had in her report on “empowerment of minorities”
    highlighted the need to help Parsis lest it becomes an endangered community in India. The ministry of minority
    affairs will now present a detailed roadmap to execute the scheme.
    The ministry, which conducted a survey before moving the proposal for the fertility clinics, noted that the average
    number of births per year in the Parsi community has never crossed 200 since 2001 and as such their number is
    further dwindling. It said that while India’s population had grown to 1 billion in 2001, the number of ParsiZoroastrians has fallen 39% from 1.14lakh in 1941 to 69,000 in 2001.
    Against the general child-woman ratio of 578 per 1,000 in the country, amongst the Parsis, it is just 85 per 1,000. The
    proposal said late marriages, reduced fertility levels and migration were the major reasons for the decline in the
    Parsi population.
    About 30%of the Parsi population remains single, while another 30%is above 60. And to make matters worse, the
    death rate in the community is three times the birth rate.
    Dwindling Numbers
    The average number of births a year among Parsis has not crossed 200 since 2001
    Against the country’s general child-woman ratio of 578 per 1,000, among Parsis, it is 85 per 1,000
    About 30% of Parsis remain single while another 30% is above 60. Also, the death rate within the community is thrice the birth rate

     

     

    #India- SC asks panel to spell out stand on #Endosulfan


    New Delhi, Oct 9, 2012, DHNS:

    Apex court concerned at economic impact of ban

    The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked an expert committee to tell in definite terms if the use of pesticide endosulfan could at all be permitted in the country or it would be in greater human advantage to ban it in entirety.

    A bench asked a slew of questions to the committee, including the exact quantity of all forms of endosulfan formulations available in the country.

    The court also wanted to know if it was possible to permit the export of the pesticide in case its use was not allowed here.

    The Bench sought the response within six weeks while clarifying that it would not give further time to the committee as the PIL petition seeking permanent ban has been pending for over a year.

    The court passed the fresh directions after noting that the committee which consisted of, among others, Director-General, Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and Commissioner, Agriculture provided no “satisfactory answers.”

    “Needless to say that the matter is pending for over an year, we want a definite stand of Union of India,” the court said. The interim order banning use and manufacture of endosulfan was passed on May 13 on the Centre’s support.

    The committee was told on August 5, last year, to conduct scientific study if the substance caused health hazard or environmental and ecological damage.

    During the hearing, the court observed: “If we allow use of endosulfan, it creates human crisis, if we continue with ban, it creates economic crisis.” The remarks came after it was pointed out that it about Rs 1,232 crore would be required for disposing of the existing stocks.

    The court decided to add Director-General Health Services, one scientist each from Agriculture Ministry and ICMR and Joint Secretary, Plant Protection, Agriculture Ministry and Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board as members of the committee.

    Senior counsel Krishnan Venugopal, appearing for PIL petitioner Democratic Youth Federation of India, submitted that when report of the committee emanated from the agriculture side, it tried to circumvent the order of the court banning the use of the pesticide.

    The director of ICMR could not confirm that there was no consequence on human health due to its use, he said.

    Framing fresh additional issues for consideration, the Bench told the committee to hold its meeting within one week and also inform it in case, the use of endosulfan was not permitted, if it was possible to destroy the available endosulfan and cost, required in it, along with economic ramifications of such a decision.

    The court, while posting the matter for passing direction for November 20, said, “We make it clear we will not be inclined to give any further time to government on the matter.” The Centre had constituted the joint expert committee having members among others from National Institute of Animal Health, a group of epidemologists and immunologists to suggest measures on the issue.

    The committee submitted its report on August 24 saying that, except in Kerala and Karnataka, the ban might not be imposed because no negative impact of this pesticide

    #India- Jammed Wheels #disability #rights


    Outlook Magazine | Oct 29, 2012

     

    Sanjay Rawat
    Disabled girl in a wheelchair crossing the road in New Delhi
    rights: disabled people
    Jammed Wheels
    Out in our streets, disabled people feel the pain everyday

    The Gaping Holes

    • India yet to get a cohesive, standardised sign language
    • Barrier-free infrastructure yet to be implemented in public areas like bus stations, railway stations, schools, cinema halls
    • Lack of basic, inclusive civic facilities: no audio-enabled traffic signals, pavements with ramps, few disability-friendly toilets, negligible penalties
    • Poor functional entertainment accessibility, like no subtitling on local language TV channels
    • Reservation for disabled persons in govt posts is 3%, but only 0.5% utilised

    ***

    Most of Ummul Kher’s childhood memories involve incidents of fractures—17 in all, and seven surgeries to fix them. The frequent accidents, spurred by a rare bone disease, had a plus though—it prodded her to deal with her insecurities by taking to books with a zeal never seen before in her family; neither of her parents, from an urban Delhi slum area, had even gone to school. And so she excelled at academics, served as headgirl at school, won numerous scholarships.

    Six months ago, though, 22-year-old Ummul’s legs gave way and she landed up in a wheelchair. As a post-graduate student majoring in politics at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ummul’s affection for books has only grown, except for one detail: a trip to the library, her “favourite” haunt on campus, is barely accessible anymore. “To get to class and the library, I need to take an autorickshaw, which I can’t afford everyday. So I step out of hostel only a few days a month.”


    Pol science post-graduate student Ummul Kher’s biggest regret is that she can’t visit the JNU library as often as she wants. (Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari)

    At the other end of town, in Delhi’s Rohini locality, 19-year-old Riya Gupta feels just as helpless, cooped up in front of the computer all day long. Except for one day a month, when she is driven to a spinal injuries centre which has counselling sessions for quadriplegics like her. An ace swimmer at 13, she was forced into a dive in a shallow swimming pool by her teachers, and that caused permanent damage to her spine. “I have been in a wheelchair for the last five years and in all this time accessibility has not improved one bit in public spaces, at least not enough to enable me to venture out on my own. People on the road still stare, awareness continues to be limited,” rues Riya.

    Riya and Ummul both have a pressing, valid question: why has so little changed for disabled persons in India? Why does their lot, and they number roughly 70 million in the country, continue to be an ‘invisible minority’? Right now, a new disability bill draft submitted to the ministry of social justice is under consideration. Among other updated provisions, it speaks of widening the definition of disability, aims to ‘recognise legal capacity, establish national and state disability rights authorities’ and provide better access to information to the differently abled.

    Meanwhile, the Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLRTC) at IGNOU has been set in place just this month to ‘create a linguistic record/analysis of the Indian Sign Language’, the first effort of its kind in India. A few months ago, the ministry of social justice also set up a disability division (empowerment of persons with disabilities), to streamline all kinds of planning and integration in the area.


    Bhola Nath Dolui, by turns autorickshaw driver and swimming coach in Calcutta. (Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee)

    In 2010-11, the percentage of students with disabilities in govt-run schools dropped from 0.75% to a dismal 0.26%.

    But after decades of neglect and continued stigma, it’s just not enough, say disabled rights activists, calling it just more meaningless laws and regulations on paper. “Disability did not even get factored into the census till 2001. And even though the 1995 Disability Law clearly states that public spaces should be made accessible for persons with disabilities, how many in reality are actually accessible even now? How many of the new buildings that have come up post-1995 are barrier-free?” asks Javed Abidi, founder of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, and Disability Rights Group. “Isn’t it appalling that India is yet to get a standardised sign language? The nuances of sign language in one city are different from that in another city,” points out Abhijit Dasgupta, who spearheads the Sukriti Foundation for disabled people in Calcutta.Even supporters of the current disability law, like ex-chief commissioner for persons with disability and founder of Amar Jyoti School in Delhi, Uma Tuli, admit that “while this law is currently the best in Asia, a drawback is the lack of provision for penalties for those who do not follow the rules”.

    At a very basic level, the concerns go back to inclusion in the barest of daily activity. Shivani Gupta, founder of AccessAbility, ticks off all the places in India’s big cities that are inaccessible to her as a quadriplegic, and that the ‘abled’ take for granted: “None of the traffic lights are audio-enabled. Pavements are not smooth enough for a wheelchair. Even in supposedly inclusive systems like the Delhi Metro, there is only one entry-exit that has an elevator. What if you need to cross the road? The metro feeder buses are inaccessible. At most bus stops, there is no seamless movement from the platform into the bus. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system too is flawed—how will a person with physical disability get to a bus stop planted in the middle of the road? And now there is talk of replicating it, despite protests. Plus any movement towards better accessibility is sporadic, there is no sense of civic agencies coming together to build long-term, large-scale barrier-free infrastructure.”


    Hearing-impaired Anurag Tripathi takes orders at Gurgaon’s Lemon Tree Hotel. (Photograph by Sanjay Rawat)

    In Mumbai, Mahesh Umrania, 26, who lost his vision to glaucoma 15 years ago, faces a similar issue with the city’s local railway, where incidents of vision-impaired persons falling on the tracks are not uncommon. Worse, the sitarist and photographer continues to face discrimination each time he hunts for a new home to rent in the suburbs. “The landlords ask the strangest questions: how will you keep the place clean, what if you get robbed? How will you eat? How will you dress?” Asha Singha, a sign language interpreter in Delhi, has more subtle concerns. She wonders why TV programmes are still not subtitled.

    Now here’s a shocker: in 2010-11, the percentage of students with disabilities in government-run schools dropped to 0.26 per cent, a sharp decline from 0.75 per cent the previous year, as revealed in an HRD ministry survey. “There is a systemic problem, in every aspect of nation-building, people with disabilities are always ignored. There is no strong law, no real planning, it’s all token charity,” feels Javed Abidi.

    The annual Employability Fair will have about 45 companies this year to select nearly 900 people with disabilities.

    Still, gradually today there is a sense that the private sector may be opening up to inclusion. The Deaf Way Foundation’s Namrata Patro reports that they have an increasing number of corporate employees signing up to learn sign language, to be able to communicate with colleagues with hearing disabilities. A range of fast food joints and hotels are signing up the differently abled to be part of their staff, even seeking out hearing- and speech-impaired people. Like Anurag Tripathi, 24, who’s been waiting tables at a star hotel cafe for the last four years. He keeps a special notepad designed for hearing-impaired employees close at hand, and places it in front of customers, where they can scribble in their order. “It’s difficult to adjust with new staff members, because it takes time for them to come to terms working with colleagues with hearing impairment but, yes, there are far more employment opportunities than before,” says Tripathi.Many private firms have approached organisations like Ability Foundation to look at their building plans and suggest changes. “But employers still need to look at giving jobs to disabled persons as an effective and compelling workforce, not just CSR,” says Jayshree Raveendran, founder, Ability Foundation, Chennai. In other words, there is movement, though slow. The annual EmployABILITY Fair, put together by Raveendran’s organisation, which will have about 45 companies this year to select nearly 900 people with disabilities, also challenges “tokenism”.


    Mahesh Umrania, a vision-impaired musician and photographer in big, bad Mumbai. (Photograph by Apoorva Salkade)

    There is an attempt to break other barriers too, however sporadic they may be. “In the last 15-20 years, we have had more social acceptance. Plus, with events like the Special Olympics, Paralympics, Abelympics etc that highlight their skills, there is a move towards integration,” feels Tuli. Technology has also tipped the scales, feels Bangalore-based G.K. Mahantesh, who is vision-impaired and runs Samarthanam, a centre for persons like him. “It has simplified life a little, especially tools like screen-reading software, educational and recreational devices, like the audio cricket ball.”

    Meanwhile, in Calcutta, Dasgupta invites differently abled participants to an annual adventure expedition, likewise Partho Bhowmick of Beyond Sight Foundation trains blind people to take photographs with still cameras. “Learning photography gives them a certain confidence…to do something others believe they can’t,” the latter says. But these positive stories are too few and far between, often the result of a few individuals’ lifelong struggle. The state as a whole, and its people, continue to be prejudiced and unfeeling towards people who just need a little bit more attention.


    Some Bright Spots, Some Less Dark Places

    • Blind With Camera Started by photographer Partho Bhowmick of the Mumbai-based Beyond Sight Foundation, Blind With Camera works with a simple idea: to provide vision-impaired people an artistic platform. In 48-hour workshops held in Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, Bhowmick helps collate their work for display at exhibitions held across the country. The project also offers an online photography course; the plan is to introduce photography courses in blind schools. The Blind With Camera E-school, in compliance with web accessibility standard for the visually impaired, throws up basic and advanced tutorials, info about adaptive tools and a platform for students to upload and share their photographic work.
    • Beyond Belief Every year, young men like Bhola Nath Dolui, an autorickshaw driver in Calcutta with a lower limb disability, get together for the Beyond Belief project, a series of adventure programs and survival training that resembles a television reality show. Led by documentary filmmaker Abhijit Dasgupta, a team of differently abled persons undertake challenges that include scaling high mountains, hiking through deep forests, river rafting in West Bengal, all to prove that people with physical disabilities are differently abled, not ‘disabled’. The project also seeks to boost their employment opportunities.
    • Travel Another India This unusual travel outfit runs a ‘Journey Without Barriers’ initiative, reaching out to physically disabled persons across the world who may want to visit popular tourist hotspots in India, like Ladakh, Spiti, Mysore, Goa, and even lets you work out your own itinerary. One of the few such ventures in the travel sector in India, the idea is to “develop accessible tourism opportunities”, still in its infancy here. The team at Travel Another India works closely with AccessAbility consultancy firm to improve accessibility at various locations. Himalaya On Wheels, another one of their initiatives, makes mountains more accessible to tourists using wheelchairs.
    • EmployABILITY A one-of-its-kind professional annual employment fair, conceived by Ability Foundation in Chennai, it challenges the view that for the corporate sector, hiring persons with disability is merely good CSR. This one is a job fair for disabled persons with educational qualifications, which are duly matched with the vacancies available in 35-45 companies across banking, hospitality, retail, IT sectors. Nearly 900 disabled persons will take part in the fair this year, to be held in the first week of November in Hyderabad. The participants will also be trained beforehand on how to face job interviews. “The fair opens the corporate world up to a whole new pool of skilled persons,” says Jayshree Raveendran of Ability Foundation.

     

     

    #India- Woman of Steel #Dayamani Barla #Jharkhand #Tribal #indigenous #aboriginal


    The Other Half

    Woman of steel

     

    KALPANA SHARMA, The Hindu

     

    Using her pen to fight for displaced tribals and to expose corruption, Dayamani Barla could teach even Mahendra Singh Dhoni a lesson or two about how to fight back…

    Different possibilities: Dayamani Barla with the Chingari Award for Women Against Corporate Crime, 2008.

    The State of Jharkhand, that mineral rich southern part of the former State of Bihar, which was hived off into a separate State in 2000, has become famous recently for the achievements of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian cricket captain who seems to be on a permanent winning streak.

    But Dhoni is not the only remarkable individual from this State. In the wake of the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, when the media was understandably concentrating on developments surrounding that tragic incident, a woman from Jharkhand was honoured at a ceremony in New Delhi. This went virtually unnoticed. She is not part of the glitterati, the “beautiful people” who seem to dominate our television screens these days. She will not be invited to television chat shows to give a sound byte. She will not feature on the front pages of our magazines and newspapers.

    Yet, this exceptional 44-year-old tribal woman, a journalist and an activist, could probably teach even Mahendra Singh Dhoni a lesson or two about how to fight back even when you are down and everyone expects you to lose.

     

    Worthy recipient

     

    Dayamani Barla was chosen for the Chingari Award for Women Against Corporate Crime 2008. The award itself is remarkable because it has been instituted by two women who took on one of the biggest corporations in the world, Union Carbide in 1984 after one of the worst industrial disasters killed thousands of people in Bhopal. Rasheeda Bee and Champa Devi Shukla won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2004 for their work in Bhopal to get justice for the victims. Instead of using the sizeable award money for their needs as they could have given that they were victims of the gas disaster, they decided to invest it in a trust that would recognise each year a woman struggling on the same issues as them.

    In Dayamani Barla they have found a worthy recipient for the award. Like Rasheeda Bee and Champa Devi, Dayamani knows the cost of fighting against the powerful. Born in a village in Gumla district of Jharkhand to a landless family, Dayamani’s father was forced to give up his house to usurious moneylenders when she was still young. Her mother had to find work as a domestic in Ranchi and Dayamani had to work to supplement the family income from the age of nine. But she also continued to study, and worked to support her family by giving tuitions and typing, at the rate of Rs. 1 per hour. Many children under such circumstances would have given up education. But Dayamani persisted and cleared not just high school but even university. She did her Masters in Commerce from Ranchi University and went on to be an award-winning journalist and author. She was clear from the start that she wanted to use her pen to give a voice to those who are otherwise not heard.

    There are many lessons one can learn from the struggles and lives of women like Dayamani. Currently, she is leading the fight against Arcelor-Mittal’s plans to set up a giant steel plant in Jharkhand. Why should she oppose industry that will create jobs in her State? Because she believes that the price that the tribals pay when they are displaced from their lands cannot be compensated through a few jobs or money. “Natural resources to us are not merely means of livelihood but our identity, dignity, autonomy and culture have been built on them for generations,” she is reported as saying. She believes that the location of such a huge plant will adversely affect the forests and water sources in the region.

    Dayamani honed her skills for such a struggle when she joined the tribal groups opposing the Koel Karo dam in the 1990s. The dam would have submerged 66,000 acres and displaced 135,000 tribal families from their lands. Because of their determined struggle, the plans to build the dam were finally shelved.

     

    Relevant journalism

     

    As a journalist, she has used her pen to write about not just the injustices meted out to tribals resisting efforts to displace them, but also to expose the corruption in several government-run schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Here fake muster rolls allow contractors to claim money on behalf of the poor. Only vigilance by local groups or by the media can ensure that the scheme actually serves the purpose for which it was designed. Through her writing, primarily in the newspaper Prabhat Khabar, Dayamani has set a standard for the kind of relevant journalism that is rare at a time when celebrity and sensation dominate all media.

    In Jharkhand as in other tribal dominated States, while State governments are busy signing deals with industries and mining companies to barter away tribal lands, the local people are organising resistance to these projects. The winners and losers in these struggles could well shape the future of economics and politics in this country. These battles represent an opportunity to devise a process of development that is inclusive, that is environmentally benign, that acknowledges the rights of people who have cared for the forests and the rivers, and that ensures that even if there is industrial development, it is not at the cost of these irreplaceable natural resources and vulnerable lives.

    So as 2008 ends, I would like to salute women like Dayamani, for reminding us that there are other ways to “develop” and that it is possible to fight peacefully but with determination for your convictions.

     

    Email the writer: sharma.kalpana@yahoo.com

     

    #India #Chhattisgarh, a lifeline gone without trace #Tribal #Indigenous #aboriginal


    Rogda (Chhattisgarh), October 24, 2012

    In Chhattisgarh, a lifeline gone without trace

    Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu , Oct 24,2012

    • The Rogda water reservoir site. Photo : Special Arrangement
      The Rogda water reservoir site. Photo : Special Arrangement
    • Ramkhilaon, a construction worker at the dam in the 50s, says those who never used water from the reservoir have decided its fate.
      Special Arrangement Ramkhilaon, a construction worker at the dam in the 50s, says those who never used water from the reservoir have decided its fate.

    Legislative Assembly panel gives clean chit for transfer of Rogda reservoir land to private power company

    While there is an outcry in Maharashtra over disappearing irrigation water, in Chhattisgarh, an entire reservoir — the lifeline of four villages — has vanished. The 131-acre rain-fed reservoir has been leased out by the government to a private power company.

    However, an Assembly committee, recently constituted to investigate the ‘transfer’ of the reservoir, in its 3:2 majority report, did not find anything wrong with the deal. But a map by Google and the testimony of several villagers are evidence enough to prove that the reservoir was indeed located at Rogda, a small village on the southwestern side of Janjgir-Champa, the most irrigated district of Chhattisgarh, even a few years ago.

    Rogda, like most other villages of Janjgir-Champa, produced two or more crops till recently with water obtained from the reservoir. The villagers of Rogda and adjoining Nariyera, Amora and Tarod used its water also for drinking and other household activities. In fact, the Assembly panel states the government acquired 130.54 acres of land from three villages to construct the reservoir in 1954 during the first Five-Year Plan. But the committee has concluded that the decision to transfer the Rogda reservoir by the Water Resources and Revenue Department was “correct”.

    In 2008, more than 207 hectares of well irrigated government land, of which the reservoir was part, was allotted to the KSK Mahanadi Power Project for a little over Rs. 18 crore to build a 3,600-MW unit.

    “We found out that Rogda water was not used for irrigation,” Dipak Kumar Patel, a BJP member on the committee, told The Hindu. Its report was based on district-level, fact-finding reports which indicated that Rogda land was “mostly fallow,” he said.

    “It is ridiculous,” shouted 70-year-old Ramkhilaon of Rogda, who was employed in the 1950s as a daily wage worker to construct the reservoir. “Those who never used the reservoir or even saw it have decided its fate,” he lamented.

    Soon after acquiring the land, KSK Mahanadi filled up the reservoir. In its place, now stand giant metal structures which are busy grinding stone chips.

    “The committee could not locate any reservoir as KSK promptly filled it up,” said Md. Akbar, who along with the other Congress member, opposed the report’s findings. But the other three, all from the ruling BJP, ensured its passage.

    In leasing out the main water source of several panchayats, the Chhattisgarh government has also flouted the Supreme Court verdict of 2011 that says community ponds cannot be used for commercial purposes. “The time has come when these malpractices must stop,” the judgment said.

    This correspondent witnessed large tracts of land with paddy, not less than a few hundred acres, at Rogda turning brown for lack of water. Farmers have started migrating to other villages in search of cultivable land.

    Meanwhile, the power company has planted several trees in the vicinity in order to create a ‘green belt’ in accordance with environmental guidelines.

     

    #India -‘I have a problem with the makeover of tribal culture’ #Indigenous #aboriginal


    October 24, 2012 , The Hindu

    NIRANJAN MAHAWAR: ‘Market forces are also changing artefacts.’ Photo: Rupesh Yadav

    NIRANJAN MAHAWAR: ‘Market forces are also changing artefacts.’ Photo: Rupesh Yadav

    Niranjan Mahawar, 75, is a self-taught ethnologist of Chhattisgarh. He spent almost five decades in southern Chhattisgarh to study the life and art of the Bastar tribes. It was his family’s rice production business that first took Mahawar to southern Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region in the early 1960s. At that time, the family was not aware that Mahawar — a masters in Economics from Sagar University in Madhya Pradesh — had enrolled as a member of the undivided Communist Party of India (CPI) of India in 1955. Later, while administering the rice mill, he started the CPI’s first district unit in Dhamtari of Chhattisgarh, eventually joining the CPI-M after the division. While the family finally managed to delink him from the Communist Party, Mahawar’s love for Bastar — especially tribal art and culture — kept growing. Today, Mahawar — who was made famous in a series of interviews by the writer Dom Moraes — is considered an authoritative voice on central Indian folk art, folklore, tribal myths and theatre. He spoke to Suvojit Bagchi extensively on his work. Excerpts.

    It was difficult to find out your house in Raipur as nobody knows you here, not even your neighbour

    Yes, that is a problem. A woman came from USIS in Mumbai once. She said the same thing.

    But in the early 1980s, Dom Moraes wrote a lot on you and possibly you are known since then especially among people who are interested about Bastar art.

    That’s correct. Dom came here with a friend as he was planning a visit to Bastar. That was in the early eighties. He came twice and we had a long chat over lunch.

    He visited Bastar and wrote a book, Answered by Flutes: Reflections on Madhya Pradesh. It had two pages on me. He then wrote more on me. Well ….after that, the journalists started pouring in and a lot [has been] written on me in mainstream magazines.

    So what is there in those articles…or more precisely, what exactly do you mean by Bastar art? The bell metal artefacts…wrought iron ones…the wood carvings?

    Well, everything. But first let me say, I won’t call it bell metal but bronze.

    Why is it called bell metal?

    Bells of temples were made of the metal which is pure bronze. And as you said, besides bronze artefacts, there are wooden carvings, wrought iron, masks, combs… I have about 200 combs. They are all Bastar art. They all tell a story.

    Like…

    Like this woman Tallur Muttai (shows a picture of a woman in bronze, embracing a child with her left hand and holding a stick with a funnel on top with her right). She, in tribal myth, lives in palmyra fruit trees. To the tribals, palmyra juice is the breast milk of Tallur Muttai. She, therefore, is the earth mother. But then there is the massive Hindu-isation of the tribal myth and the earth mother is made to sit on a tiger as Hindus prefer their goddesses on the tiger. I have a problem with this makeover. If the tribal gods are comfortable on the trees, let them be…why make them a Hindu? Besides, the market forces are also changing the artefacts.

    So, in spite of the overlapping of the images of the icons, a tribal is in no way a Hindu?

    P.N. Haksar, while heading a national committee on the tribals, once asked that. I said, tribals don’t believe in chatur-varna or the caste system that is the basis of Hindu society. Tribals lived with their native tradition and for over five thousand years refused to get dominated by Hindus. Hence they are not Hindus.

    So, the difference with Hindus has been there for a long time?

    Of course. In the Ramayana, you have the demon. Remember the woman, Tadoka, the demoness. The word Tar or palmyra is in her name too. I assume, she is the same Tallur Muthai and she, like other rakshas, got a snub-nose. The Gonds have a snub-nose. So while Ram represents the upper caste Hindus, the Aryans, Tadoka and her friends represent the tribal society, the Dravidians. This resistance against the outsiders was documented in modern times by the British gazetteers, anthropologists. They published how the locals resisted them. When the British tried to enter the region, one of the kings of the area, the Raja of Kanker, asked them to refrain. The kings, however, were small and while they also were outsiders, always avoided confrontation with the Bastar tribals.

    You mean, Bastar almost always accepted the local rulers, but not the big imperialist forces?

    Yes. They will not accept you easily. Even now, you would find tribals while talking among themselves would call you a ‘thug’ — a cheat. They don’t trust outsiders. Now, associate this thought with today’s mining. Bastar will resist mining and outsiders.

    You mean the State and its mining policies will not be able to penetrate Bastar?

    I cannot say that for sure. The Indian state is far more complex and powerful now.

    Maybe this has helped the Maoists…

    Of course. Maoists used this sentiment to their advantage. But I think they are extortionists and not Communists.

    You yourself were a Communist. What or who really inspired you?

    Yes. I joined the party in 1955. Initially I was influenced by writers like Premchand, Yashpal, Saratchandra Chatterjee, Rabindranath Tagore or Gorky. I had a science teacher, Surendra Bhatnagar, whom I met in school in Dhamtari, Chhattisgarh, as we migrated from Alwar. He was a CPI sympathiser and influenced me. Soon I joined the family business and did two things in my factory. Paid women and men equally and asked the workers, who were paid peanuts, to organise themselves. This seriously unsettled my father and uncle (laughs). Eventually I went to study at Sagar University, Madhya Pradesh, and met Sudhir Mukherjee, the legendary CPI leader. I joined as a whole timer.

    Anything that you did as a CPI activist in the 1950s?

    Well….the usual party work. But we used to run a party unit among students in the university, which grew fast. We started the first party office in Dhamtari. See, it was a time, when we all thought that Communism is around the corner as the Korean War of 1950 was interpreted as Stalin’s victory. Stalin was a hero — even in these remote areas like Dhamtari (laughs).

    But things changed…

    Yes. It did. From the early sixties the debate within the CPI started distracting us. I was in the party class in Gwalior in 1960, where different groups, within the party, spoke in favour of and against Nehru. B.T. Ranadive, Homi Daji and Dr. Gangadhar Adhikari were there. I was not really aware of the developments but slowly came to terms with multiple opinions within the party. Finally the split took place, albeit for different reasons, and after some vacillation, I joined the CPI(M).

    Eventually left the CPI(M)…?

    Yes, but that was not necessarily because I was disillusioned with politics. My family was creating a lot of pressure on me…my father…he requested me to leave the Communist Party as it was bad for the business. I was upset, took a sabbatical and went to Kolkata. After a brief stay I came back to Chhattisgarh and started working in the rice mill.

    And started studying Bastar art?

    I have been visiting Bastar and documenting tribal folk lore, tales, music, theatre and every other forms of art in the region even before I left Chhattisgarh briefly.

    But you have not written any full scale book — other than monographs — until recently when you published Bastar Bronze. Why is that so?

    Somehow it could not be organised but now I have several books and monographs in the pipeline. I did publish some translations of Verrier Elwin’s works.

    After the formation of the new State of Chhattisgarh, the State government commissioned you to write two major books on the crafts and the performing arts of Bastar. You were paid a fee as well. I assume it was about a decade ago. Why did the government not publish the books, after commissioning?

    I don’t want to talk about that.

    Apparently the department of culture where you submitted the manuscripts, did not even want to return the manuscripts?

    Let us not talk about that.

    It was only after Governor Shekhar Dutt’s intervention that the manuscripts were returned …is that correct?

    Yes, that is right. But let us not discuss that.

    I have been told, that you refused to assume the post of the president of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) when they requested you recently, even though you were an active activist at one point.

    That is because of my health, my kidneys are not fine, I told them.

    Is life difficult in Chhattisgarh as an independent academic or human rights activist?

    I don’t know. I avoid activities as I am not well.

    Do you think your Communist identity and love for tribals prevented the government from acknowledging your work?

    I don’t want to comment.

    Maybe that is why you are not even known in your colony…

    Thank you.

    Thank you very much.

     

    Fasih Mehmood case: We are unaware of any state module of terror, says Bihar DGP


    Tarique Anwar, Dailybhaskar.com | Oct 24, 2012,
    New Delhi The Bihar Police Headquarters on Tuesday said they are not aware of Bihar terror module allegedly run by suspected Indian Mujahideen operative Fasih Mehmood, who has been deported to India after five months of detention in Saudi Arabia.

    “We are not in the know of any Bihar module of terror allegedly run by Fasih. He did not have any criminal record in Darbhanga district,” Director General of Police Abhayanand told Daily Bhaskar.

    The family of Fasih has decided to move the Supreme Court for speedy trial.

    “We will request the Supreme Court for speedy trial so that Fasih is proved innocent at the earliest,” his father Dr Firoz Ahmed told Daily Bhaskar over phone from Darbhanga.
    “My father (Mehmood Babu) was chief of Keoti panchayat for 22 years and respected by all section of people because of his clean image…my family does not have any criminal antecedents,” Ahmed said.
    He said, “We have full faith in the Supreme Court which will do justice to my son.”
    “Fasih’s wife Nikhat Parveen and mother Amra Jamal have gone to Delhi,” Ahmed, who is Medical Officer of Government Primary Health Centre at Benipatti in neighbouring Madhubani district, said.
    Fasih’s mother is headmistress of an Urdu school in Darbhanga.

    Talking to Daily Bhaskar, management graduate Nikhat has asked several questions to both Indian and Saudi governments:

    “If there is no allegation against my husband in Saudi Arabia, how can he be arrested there?

    “If the Indian agencies say that they had no role in his arrest, how is it that after I filed the habeas corpus, they issued a warrant on May 28 and a Red Corner Notice against him on May 31?
    “Despite the government claiming to have no role in Fasih’s arrest, why was it that the Saudi government was accusing the Indian government of not being able to produce any logical evidence against him and the Indian government was talking about producing the said evidence?”

    Nikhat had approached the Supreme Court in May this year claiming that her husband was in the custody of central security agencies, a charge denied by the government.

    Security agencies are investigating Fasih’s suspected involvement in the Chinnaswamy Stadium blast in Bangalore and the shooting near Jama Masjid (Delhi). Both the incident took place in 2010, and Fasih is wanted by Delhi and Karnataka police.

    Fasih’s family hails from Barh Samaila village, about 35 km from the Darbhanga town.

    Fasih did his intermediate from Millat college in Darbhanga and engineering from Anjuman Engineering college at Bhatkal in Karnataka. Five years back, he went to Saudi Arabia. Fasih was employed as an engineer in a Saudi firm.