Borivli woman was in no affair with John G Jerrit : Kin


, TNN | Nov 11, 2012, 05.44AM IST

MUMBAI: Film professional Jerrit John , 46 , was not having an affair with the Borivli woman he tried to target after his early morning attack on Aryanka Hozbetkar at Worlion Wednesday , according to a relative of the woman . The relative said that John was merely a distant relative of the Borivli woman and was angry with her because he felt she had destroyed his relationship with Hozbetkar.Earlier , it was reported that John , a married man with a son , was in a relationship with Hozbetkar as well as the Borivli woman , who is herself married and with a child. It was reported that after Hozbetkar and the Borivli woman found that he was two-timing them , they confronted him.After throwing a chemical on Hozbetkar , John went to the house of the Borivli woman to target her . But Hozbetkar alerted the Borivli woman , who didn’t open the. The Borivli woman’s relative said , “He was ringing the bell and hiding from the door camera . She opened the window of the safety door , saw him and shut the window . He threatened her for spoiling his relationship with Aryanka . The woman reported the matter to the police to avoid further trouble.”

The Borivli woman’s relative contacted TOI on Saturday to say that she was in no relationship with John , but just a distant relative . The relative said Hozbetkar had begun to doubt if she should continue her relationship with John and got the contacts of people who knew him . She then began contacting those people and in the process contacted the Borivli woman . The woman sent Hozbetkar a message back in which she discouraged her from continuing the relationship . Recently , John called the Borivli woman to ask if she had said anything about him to Hozbetkar . She denied any such communication , the source claimed.

“After Jerrit snatched Aryanka’s phone (on Wednesday morning ), he must have gone through her SMS es and call details and seen the SMS of the Borivli woman . So after attacking Aryanka , he went to Borivli and threatened to malign the woman’s image in media and in court for spoiling his relationship with Aryanka ,” said the relative . The Borivli woman is reportedly upset as she is not close to Jerrit , who is a cousin of her mother’s sister-in-law . The relative said , “They met sometimeduring a family function , but there was no relationship between them as reported in the media .”

The source said the Borivli woman is shocked and depressed . “Everyone started saying she had a relationship with Jerrit , which is not true . She is married and happy and has a child.”

 

The Confiscation of the Bhattacharya Children by Norwegian Authorities – A Case Study


The gist of the Norwegian case against the mother was that the children feared and rejected her and were emotionally disconnected from her. This is belied, among other things, by the following home video that Sagarika has now uploaded on You Tube. Do have a look – it speaks for itself.

This report surveys the care proceedings faced by the Bhattacharyas in Norway as a case study in the thinking and practices of child welfare regimes in the developed West.The Bhattacharya case was no exception. Social service agencies with the power to separate children from their families and place them in permanent care as a measure of protecting children from parents considered to be unfit exist in many first world countries. These include the countries of Western Europe, the United States and Britain. If the confiscation of children by these agencies is not justified, then we have in the nations that support such action a situation of grave inhumanity.

The permanent separation of children from their families has severe consequences for both parents and children. Parents are deprived of their children; their state of being as mothers or fathers permanently imprisoned by the State‟s confiscation of their children. As for the children, their extraction from their families and re-location as subjects of public care in institutions or foster homes; or being put up for adoption constitutes a radical and complete re-writing of their childhood and of their identity into adulthood by the State.
The care proceedings in this study are revealing of how, despite the drastic and far reaching nature of this form of State intervention, the issuance and review of care orders is almost entirely free of the usual checks and balances against the misuse of coercive State powers. The actions of social services bureaucrats and the decisions of courts operating in these child welfare regimes are largely hidden from public view by confidentiality laws. Moreover, neither the collection nor the assessment of the evidence on which parents are found to be unfit is subjected to the level of scrutiny of even a regular civil suit, let alone a criminal trial.
In the Bhattacharya case, even if the evidence on the record is taken at face value, it does not substantiate the determinations of unfit parenting and breakdown of the relationship between parent and child. Much of the so-called evidence describes normal interactions between the mother and the elder child, such as might be witnessed between any mother and her toddler.
The result is a denial of procedural and substantive justice for parents and children.
Another aspect of the care proceedings that gives rise to concern is the low threshold for the confiscation of children from families. There was no allegation of sexual abuse, child battery or abandonment in the Bhattacharya case. There was no allegation of any criminal act having been carried out against the children. The facts as alleged in the case did not justify the grave and life altering step of permanent confiscation of the children from their parents.
The case record also reveals that there was little attempt to help the family stay together by enabling the parents to overcome their perceived deficiencies. Parenting flaws and mistakes, such as they were, appear to have been identified only to provide the excuse to remove the children. So for all that the system claims to exist for the welfare of children, the children of families caught in care proceedings are given no real chance of staying with their families.
The decisions about the Bhattacharya parents and children in the care proceedings are also revealing of the distorted understanding of the child and family that underlies intervention by permanent separation of children from families perceived to be dysfunctional. In the Bhattacharya case, the home environment and parenting practices were found to be faulty on a number of fronts. The parents were assessed to be incapable of improving. And based on these determinations the conclusion in the logic of the Norwegian child welfare system was that the children should be placed in permanent care.

The response of the care system at each stage in the proceedings to the Bhattacharyas‟ pleas to be given a chance to be re-united with their children, of being allowed visitation with their children, of their offers for improving the perceived deficiencies in their care of the children,of the prospects of the siblings in the case being placed in separate homes and being brought up in a Norwegian rather than in an Indian family, reveal the extent to which the Norwegian approach to child welfare devalues heritage and family ties. There is a pervasive disavowal of filial love in the assessment of parental performance and the well-being of children. The question of what constitutes a good childhood is reduced to a laundry list of care criteria. Not only does filial love find no place in this approach, many of the care criteria are deeply rooted in Western culture. As a result, these child welfare regimes are inherently biased against families from foreign cultures.

Download full report below

Case Study Final

Leases not renewed but deemed so, mining goes on


Debabrata Mohanty Posted online, Deccan Herald: Fri Nov 09 2012,
Bhubaneswar : As in Goa, where the deemed extension of mining leases was at the heart of a mining scam, in Orissa too such deemed extension gave leaseholders an open season while also putting them at the mercy of government officials.The deemed renewal of a lease allows the holder to continue extracting ore even after the expiry of the lease, while it waits for renewal. In September this year, the M B Shah Commissionpointed out how over 60 mines in Goa were on a “deemed extension” and led to illegal mining.In Orissa, where the steel and mines department has sent showcause notices to holders of 103 leases because of excess mining of iron ore and manganese to the tune of Rs 68,000 crore between 2000 and 2010, 215 mines are at present working on a “deemed renewal” basis. All the 103 leases involved in the showcause notice are deemed renewed, a senior official of the steel and mines department said.Deemed renewal is granted under rule 24A(6) of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960. Under the rule, the miner’s application for renewal of his lease should be pending with the government before expiry. It is also necessary for miners to have all statutory clearances under the Forest Conservation Act, the Environment Protection Act, the Wildlife Protection Act, the Water Act and the Air Pollution Act when seeking and being granted a deemed extension.

A central empowered committee of the Supreme Court, which probed violations of several provisions of FC Act during its investigation into the Orissa mining scam in 2010, found that 215 mines had not got their leases renewed for 10 to 20 years and continued on a deemed renewal basis.

“Deemed renewal was an exigency provision in the MC Rules. The government should have either accepted or rejected the mining lease renewal applications within a reasonable period of six months to one year,” said the top executive of a mining company, unwilling to be named. “But instead they were kept pending, which helped government officials collude with some of the miners to allow them to mine beyond their limits.”

At the Orissa Mining Corporation’s Khandabandh iron ore mines in Keonjhar, spread over 294.53 acres, the lease expired in November 1993. Though the OMC filed its first renewal-of-lease application for a period of 20 years in November 1992, it is yet to be renewed and the mines have continued to run on “deemed renewal” for 19 years. None of the steel and mines officials The Indian Express spoke to was willing to comment why mines were being allowed to run on such extensions for years together.

The state forest and environment department too contributed to excess mining when the mines were on deemed renewal. In May 2011, the department recommended the diversion of 390 hectares of forest land in the Sarkunda iron and manganese mines of Sundargarh district for Feegrade & Co. Official documents show that the lease area contained 3.208 million tonnes of iron ore and 1.629 million tonnes of manganese ore, and the company was allowed to mine 0.98 million tones every year. The extraction would have exhausted the mine in just four years. The mining hardly helped locals as the company’s own application for forest clearance said it would give jobs to only 20 people.

The Orissa Pollution Control Board, which gives consent-to-operate (CTO) certificates under the Water and Air Pollution Control Acts for a period of five years, too granted such certificates to miners whose leases had been deemed renewed. Under the laws, no mine can operate if the CTO has not been obtained or not been renewed after its lapse. A CTO certificate is also a prerequisite for environment clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Usually, the CTO is issued for a specified period and is subject to compliance with various conditions imposed by the board. The OPCB in a letter dated February 4, 2011, said mining activities may not be stopped just for the want of a CTO certificate from the State Pollution Control Board. The letter, addressed to the Eastern Zone Mining Association, stated that consideration of consent to operate beyond May 31, 2011, would take some time but unless consent has specifically been refused, it may be assumed that the application for consent to operate was under active consideration.

India- Appeal to President Abolish Death Penalty


10th Novemeber 2012

Respected Mr. President,

We, the undersigned Indian citizens, urge the Government of India to grant mercy to Md. Ajmal Kasab and commute his death sentence to one of imprisonment for life. We believe that it is wrong and immoral to kill a human being by way of revenge or punishment.

Executing Kasab in the name of the Indian people will only feed a base blood lust that will make our society more blood-thirsty, vengeful and violent. It will not contribute to our safety or well-being in any way. On the other hand, keeping Kasab in jail and treating him like a human being allows for the possibility of him regaining his humanity, repenting his crime and atoning for the harm he has caused. That would indeed be a big victory in our battle against terrorism.

We, like many other Indians, strongly oppose the death penalty on political and ethical grounds, and want an end to state-sanctioned killings. These views should also be respected and considered. For this reason as well, we urge you to consider commuting the death sentences of Kasab and other prisoners on death-row.

We believe that all of us – the best and the worst – are in need of mercy, and it is only by showing mercy that, morally, we ourselves become entitled to receiving it. Bereft of mercy, our  society becomes impoverished and inhuman. If we have to become a more humane and compassionate society, and leave a better, and less blood-thirsty world behind for our children, we have to curb our instinct for bloody retribution and abandon the practice of killing those who have hurt us. In the land of Buddha, Mahavira, Gandhi and Ambedkar, let it not be said that there is no place left in our hearts for mercy or that the national conscience can only be satisfied by the killing of Kasab.

Sincerely

Vrinda Grover

Kalpana Mehta

Tultul Biswas

Bela Bhatia

Laxmi Murthy

Bondita Acharya

Pyoli Swatija

Indira Chakravarthi

Kalyani  Menon Sen (Feminist Learning Partnerships)

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Jayawati Shrivastava

 

Deepti (Saheli, Delhi)

Sandhya Gokhale (Forum Against Oppression of Women)

Ranjana Padhi

 

‘Can 17 lives be paid for with free rice?’


Kamla Kaka
Kamla Kaka, 25, Tribal Activist

Why were you angry with the CRPF?
At night on 28 June, we were attending a seed festival in our village when CRPF personnel surrounded us and started firing. Many of us lay down on the ground. Those who stood with their arms raised, shouting, “We are not Naxalites, we are villagers,” were killed. In all 17 were killed, including a 12-year-old girl. Then they set our village on fire. So when the CRPF returned later to distribute rice, I could not hold back my anger.

But they had come to distribute food.
Tell me, does the government distribute food to Naxalites? If we are Naxalites, why do they come to distribute relief materials? The rice may last us a few days, but will that really change our lives? Can 17 lives be paid for with this rice?

What do you plan to do?
I met the district collector, and then Chief Minister Raman Singh. I invited the CM to visit our village. However, he said that he will be unable to do it as long as the investigation is on. When I asked him to take some action and move the CRPF out of our village, he left without responding.

Atul Chaurasia is Chief of Bureau, Tehelka Hindi.
atul@tehelka.com

 

 

#RIP- Iqbal Haider was a voice of voiceless people # Obituary


 

Agencies and Jatin Desai

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Mr. Iqbal Haider was born on January 14 1945. He was a close associate of Benazir Bhutto. He was elected as a Senator in 1991 and soon became law minister of Pakistan. He also served as an Attorney General of Pakistan. Frustrated with Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), he quit it in 2005 and concentrated on human right issues. He will always be remembered as a man of principle. He was a successful lawyer and he always stood for the cause of downtrodden.

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Iqbal Haider was one of the founder member of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD) & Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). He was a true champion of peace. Till he breathe his last, he was trying for an enduring peace between India and Pakistan. In fact, he was planning to come to Mumbai on 26th November 2012 for Mr. Kuldip Nayar’s  felicitation to be held on 28th November.

He was disturbed with the growing influence of fundamentalism in Pakistan and elsewhere. He never missed an opportunity to criticise Taliban and other extremist forces. He was aspiring for a Secular Pakistan. In fact, in June this year he took an initiative and launched The Forum for Secular Pakistan along with few friends.

Iqbal Haider often used to quote Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s historic delivered in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11 1947. Mr. Jinnah had said”In the course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense… but in the political sense as citizens of the Pakistan.

Mahesh Bhatt was aghast when he called me and so many of his Indian friends. He had a vast friend circle. I have fond memories of him. We travelled together to Coastal Gujarat & Diu in September 2011. The fishermen of Gujarat & Diu had organized his & Justice (R) Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali’s felicitation programme. Thanks to their efforts Pakistan had released 442 Indian fishermen in the last week of August & first week of September 2010.  Iqbal Haider appeared for Indian fishermen in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

When Pakistan released 442 Indian fishermen he was equally keen that India must reciprocate. He immediately flew to Delhi along with Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali. Before flying to Delhi, he told me, Mahesh Bhatt & Kuldip Nayar that they are coming and you should do ‘miracle’ and see India release Pakistani fishermen. We met UPA Chairperson Sonial Gandhi and then Home Minister P Chidambaram and  could get around 50 Pakistani fishermen released.

He was conferred with Mother Teressa Memorial Award for Social justice in 2010.

The Coastal Gujarat’s travel was hectic. We travelled around 700 km by road. He was not feeling well. He was a diabetic and used to take Insulin. But, he was not tired. Though, he told me that now we are no younger and the programme should not be too hectic. I feel sorry now. He was also one of the leader of the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of judiciary.

He was in the forefront of the movement launched by Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) for the removal of Martial Law. He was arrested at least ten times by then military dictator Zia ul Haq between 1981-1986.

He was also a political commentator. He used to write articles for various English newspapers of Pakistan. Indian media, too, has published many of his articles on the socio-political scenario of Pakistan.

He left us at a time when his presence was needed most. He was a voice of voiceless people.

Surviving in a world of men- #Gender #Discrimination


BY KALPANA SHARMA, The Hindu

Women have to develop a thick skin and hit back if they are to play an effective role in Indian politics.

Winter is in the air, and so are elections. And with them, the season of loose talk and personal attacks. Narendra Modi leads the brigade with his one-liners; his verbal arrows become particularly sharp when aimed at women. His constant attacks on Sonia Gandhi are now so old hat that one can ignore them. But what of his sudden lashing out at Sunanda Tharoor, wife of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor? Some other men from his party have joined in. Does this mean this is open season to attack women, even if they are associated with male politicians?

Modi’s jibes at Sunanda Tharoor were in such poor taste that they do not even merit a discussion. But what is worth discussing today, in the light of the forthcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, and a general election in the not-too-distant future, is the status of women in Indian politics.

Again, much has already been discussed about the powerful and visible women in Indian politics. Each has had a different, and specific, trajectory to the top. The factors that got her there cannot be replicated. But apart from this handful, what is happening to millions of other women who are in politics at various levels?

Ever since the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution were passed, guaranteeing one-third reservation (now 50 per cent) to women in panchayats and nagarpalikas, millions of women have been exposed to politics. Not all of them have flourished. Many remain mere tokens of their husbands. Despite their numbers, many do not attend meetings, do not have the courage to speak at meetings, and even if they do, what they say is not heeded.

But for every one woman who is a front for a man, there is at least another who has begun to understand what governance is all about. And at least half of these women should have been able to influence the process of governance at this lowest tier. That alone would add up to thousands of women spread across this country.

What happens to these women after they have had a taste of power, realising that they can be heard, that they can make a difference in their villages or towns? Do they subside once their terms are over and go back to the traditional roles ascribed to them, of being daughter, wife or mother? Or do they dream of moving up to a higher tier, perhaps to the State Assembly?

Stuck in a limbo

There is little data to establish whether women who have served several terms in panchayats, and who have been active participants, get picked up by local political parties to contest elections for the State Assemblies. If such a natural trickle-up process had begun to take place, we would have seen an increase in the representation of women in State Assemblies. Nothing of the kind has happened.

Meantime, as we know, the Women’s Reservation Bill remains stuck, having passed the Rajya Sabha last year, but moving nowhere since then. And with all the rhetoric about giving women a place in politics, there is little to show that major political parties are making any effort to recruit more women to their party ranks.

One could also ask whether the women who are in the political parties – and many of them have become visible faces on television talk shows – have any say in crucial matters in the party. Are they in the working committees, executive committees, election committees or politburos? Are their voices heard where it could actually affect the direction of the political party? If not, they remain mere telegenic faces for their parties at a time when the media has become such an important player.

So if the reality is that, barring a few exceptional women, an effective role for women in Indian politics still remains restricted, why are some men so worried that they would launch personal attacks against women who are not even in politics?

Modi’s misogyny is well known. But one has to ask whether his latest diatribe is a precursor to more such personalised attacks on women in public life. You might say that just as men have to learn to withstand such attacks, women must too. They too have to develop a thick skin. They too have to learn when to hit back and when to hold back. They have to reckon that politics is not just a full-time job – one that allows for no concessions to other commitments – but that it is a dirty game.

This is the reality that probably makes many women hesitate about taking the first step into State level or national politics. It is not as if politics at the panchayat or nagarpalika level is bereft of sexism. In fact, women mukhiyas and sarpanches have also had to face considerable violence in many States. It is possible that they realise that moving up the political ladder brings with it more of this. Yet these women are a valuable resource with their experience in grassroots politics. What a pity that entrenched misogyny and indifference to giving women a fair chance has resulted in us wasting this resource.

sharma.kalpana@yahoo.com

Manipur’s Irom Sharmila: Our Irom Sharmila # Sundayreading #Poems


By- Upal Deb

“Thunder will blow away/

Storms too are ephemeral/

though shameless, the dark force will bid farewell/

to beauty someday//

Spring goes on endless”.

This is how a young Manipuri poet sings the heart of everybody of his state. Spring in heart can wait. But this heart will sing on. Till the boots and bullets bid farewell. The heart of hearts, our Meira Paibi, this is how a Kerala playwright dubbed IROM SHARMILA, a torch-bearer….can rekindle a hope, or awaken us cautiously to the spite of state laws. Sharmila is a champion to the cause of human rights in her state. Specifically, she is seeking the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), an emergency legislation that has been in force in Manipur since 1980, under which the right to life lies suspended. Fake encounters, torture, rapes and the disappearance of ordinary citizens are commonplace in regions that come under AFSPA. Since November 2000, when a group of soldiers from the Assam Rifles shot dead a 10 civilians standing at a bus-stop, she has refused to eat, drink or even brush her teeth, she has not seen her mother too since the fast began. Charged with trying to commit suicide, she has been repeatedly arrested, detained and force-fed by tubes inserted into her nose twice a day. Her sacrifice focuses on a struggle barely glimpsed in the rest of India, let among the wider world. A decades-long insurgency by up to 50 armed groups and the subsequent rule by troops may only see a saturnalia where as a poet from different land said, “Between the closed eyes/ in the air all black”. Rule of the gun in a lunatic frenzy. But Manipur survives on hope. Blood its witness.
This post of poems offers a peep into poetic responses to a state in siege, offers a nod to the resilience of Sharmila and her people. Needless to say, her people include us all living between death-wish and dream of spring, between wounds of dawn and songs of life.

1. ~YES~/ K.Satchidanandan (Malayalam)
(For Irom Sharmila)

My body is
my flag at half-mast.
My water comes
from Tomorrow’s river,
my bread,
from the wind’s kitchen.
In my brain is a bullet,
green like the clairvoyante’s parrot.

My name is the last letter
of my ancient language,
the final answer to every riddle,
the moral of every proverb,
the god of every magic chant,
the ominous truth of every oracle.

My life leaves me everyday
and everyday it comes back
like the bird that survives the hunters
to return to its nest
with the odour of the forest-rain.

In the night emptied of
the morning’s greetings
and the evening’s prayers,
I lie alone under one desolate star
like the broken bench
in an abandoned village teashop
holding on still
to the warmth and odour
of yesterday’s visitors.

I have forgotten love
like the nameless flower
once seen in a flash
on a village hillock;

my childhood lies sunk in the sand
like the paper boat
pulped by the heavy rain.

My poems are the autumn’s
last yellow leaves.

My kids turned into vapour
by the echoes of rifles’ reports
will come down heavily
as a rain of blood
over those soldiers of hell.

I won’t be there; but
my hope will be :
a word from the mountain
that doesn’t need to be tube-fed,
a poem from the woods
no boots can crush,
an alphabet of steel
no bayonet can pierce,
a purple hibiscus:

My Manipur heart
ever in bloom.

(TR: By the poet from the original Malayalam. K. Satchidanandan is one of India’s finest poets and a respected critic. He was a nominee for the Nobel literature prize in 2011).

2. ~Ibomcha Singh~/Subodh Sarkar (Bengali)

’95, in a wintry Delhi, in a poetry reading
at Sahitya Akademi,
Ibomcha Singh twittered out like a bird:
–Come in my homeland, at Manipur’s Moirang

Moirang, what a lovely name it is, who named it?
Just in a distance, Asia’s most beautiful lake, Loktak,
A colour like a child’s gum.
There’s nothing lovelier than
a child’s gum.

In the midnight, from Manipur a phone call: Ibomcha Singh
I said: what’s happening there in your state?

–What’s happening? Don’t you all know this?
If tomorrow the Assam Rifles
barge into Tagore’s Jorasanko household
and masturbate in front of Rabindranath?
How will you feel?
If tomorrow at the Gariahat Road a teacher
is stripped and made to do rounds of
sit-down stand-up before his students?
How will you feel?
If tomorrow the daughter of your Sankha Ghosh
is bundled off? How will you feel?

Ibomcha Singh was in tears

I sat motionless
Did he call from Manipur?
Or from across India?
Nine hills surrounding
the Loktak Lake are fading out
Trucks of the Assam Rifles
march through these hills
Did they kidnap Manorama, did they?

Did Ibomcha Singh call me,
Or was it anyone else?
His daughter can’t go to the school
If she doesn’t return!
No, how can this be possible,
we have one Constitution
who has scripted another?

–The military can quarantine you
You cannot lead a nation with them
Even the military know this
and you do not know this?

(Tr: Upal Deb from Bengali. Subodh Sarkar is a well-known name in contemporary Bengali poetry. His poetry is often marked by mordant irony and insights into our social dynamics).

3. ~ Sister~/ Saratchand Thiyam (Manipuri)

This rain has not let up
Don’t get out yet, sister.

It’s only a semblance of afternoon
After it decided to live in
With its paramour Night
This is no longer the afternoon we know

Your umbrella alone will be useless, sister
You’ll not be able to cover
Your body from the raindrops.

Haven’t you heard this sound
The commotion in every home
Of the still incoherent babies.
Don’t you go sister
This rain is only becoming harder
Don’t you go sister
Don’t you go.

Look sister, every courtyard
Has become
Mangarak kanbi*
Since, I won’t allow to go
Every road is reverberating
With the deafening utterance of boots.

Hide inside the house, sister
Don’t you go at all

*Mangarak kanbi is a place in Manipur. Early Meiteis used to throw
the bodies of people who died unnatural deaths in Mangarak kanbi.

(TR: Robin S. Ngangom from Manipuri. A very popular poet, Saratchand Thiyam is
also a sports columnist. He is an engineer by profession).

4. ~Manipur~/Mona Lisa Jena (Odia)

The soldiers can recognize
They can sense the stench
A roof without walls on the wayside
Breathing of eleven dead human beings
It smothers their lungs….
How many years more
till her petition lies unanswered?
Alone,
She gasps out these days
in a mud hut, walled by gun point
An ordinary young woman, dogged to the core,
She is not afraid of working hard
She does not beg anyone….
Like this, one morning
Many, many days ago
A morsels of rice ran short
In the Ima Market
Thousands of ‘mothers’ had assembled
At Kangla’s main roads
Not even a smidgen
of rice could be shipped way from their country.
Like this
Just recently,
They had uncovered their bosoms and humiliated
the unashamed administrators

And yet,
They were not shameless.
They did not vend their semi-naked body
In the market place
At the Ima Market
Of women only.

From the long over bridge
One can see clear
their carnival, all tinctured in crimson
because many women are together
they do not ripple out
A sea of flames….

Their dust-laden sobbing
And the flashes
wafting in fitfully
leave trails in the heart:
It is painful to be a woman!

(TR: By the poet from Odia. Monalisa Jena is a promising Odia short story writer and poet.).

5. ~Manipur: 2~/ Thaudam Netrojit Singh (Manipuri)

What’s the crime of these children,
Are they disinherited from life?
Why do they ride the cremation-bed?
In your inviting lap
are they so fond of death
like nectar-like mother’s milk?

The paths to the cremation ground
are all mud today
Mothers’ tears mingle with
blood of the cremation
in dry colours of the red rose

Say
for whom is the door
of the vacant room open
before the despairing heart of the veiled mothers?

What else can you hear
other than sad sound of the cymbals and
mridangam?
Have you ever heard
love songs echoing back, floating from
a land of peace?
Did the generous men sing paeans
in the infinite sky for you alone
in hope of flying till eternity
in wings of white pigeons
whose feet are tied with
garlands?

No
You’re only the night without a face
Even your blue sky
pales in smoke.

(37-year old Thaudam Netrojit Singh is an up-and-coming Manipuri poet, playwright and story writer).

6. ~Death of a Poet~/ Irungbom Deven (Manipuri)

In a closed abandoned room
lies a decomposed corpse
rotten, putrid
body of some poet
Cause of his death
still unknown
The police let out offhand:
This is a suicide
People around whisper:
This is certainly a murder
Whatever
the reality is
he is dead
With his poems in hand
the police finally say:
They are his suicide note.

7. ~News of My Death~/ Irungbom Deven

1
Last night an unknown man
was mercilessly killed
The body was not found
Combing operation is on

2
Morning
Evening
Night
I walk on endlessly
towards the unknown
I walk
my dead body
on the shoulders.

3
On the front page
of the newspapers
the news of my death
with photos

I am reading this news!

(TR: 5, 6 and 7 by Upal Deb from Bengali translation of original Manipuri poems. Irungbom Deven is a leading Manipuri poet. He is a professional doctor).

 

Activists cast doubts over IAEA review of Rajasthan atomic power plant


JAIPUR, November 11, 2012

MOHAMMED IQBAL, The Hindu

 
“The inspection team must look into tritium leak at Rawatbhata earlier this year and occurrence of diseases in the plant’s vicinity”
 

Expressing doubts over the ongoing operational safety review by an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team at Rawatbhata Atomic Power Station in Rajasthan, anti-nuclear activists here have demanded “transparent and independent” inspection which can address the issues of vulnerability, unaccountability and secrecy plaguing the Indian nuclear industry.

Activists said at a Press conference here over the weekend that they had received information about the 12-member IAEA team raising serious safety issues, particularly non-availability of crucial auxiliary generators and use of obsolete equipment in the health physics unit to check radiation exposure to workers in the reactors. The team’s final report is not likely to be made public.

Those who addressed the Press conference included senior journalist Praful Bidwai, who writes on environmental and nuclear issues, scientist Sowmya Dutta, activist Kumar Sundaram and People’s Union for Civil Liberties general secretary Kavita Srivastava. The PUCL and the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament & Peace (CNDP) jointly organised the Press meet.

Raising the larger issues of nuclear safety vulnerabilities and lack of independent regulation of atomic power production in the country, the activists said the first-of-its-kind inspection must look into the tritium leak at Rawatbhata earlier this year, high occurrence of diseases in the power plant’s vicinity and lack of published data about radiation releases.

Mr. Bidwai pointed out that the IAEA team is visiting the Rawatbhata plant’s Units 3 and 4, whereas the tritium leaks took place in Unit 5 in June this year, in which 34 casual workers were exposed to high doses of tritium: “These casual workers, not given any health benefits, are the most vulnerable part of the nuclear industry.”

Independent observers have documented the facts about the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) seniors forcing the workers to operate in unsafe zones and intimidating them to hide radiation exposures from the media and the society at large, said the activists.

“In Rawatbhata, we have come to know that the contractual workers have been asked to take leave for next 15 days or work only in night shifts until the IAEA team is there. The Rawatbhata contractual workers have been struggling for [proper] wages, health benefits and independent radiation check-ups,” said Ms. Srivastava. Rawatbhata is situated in Chittorgarh district, 322 km from here.

Noted experts Sanghamitra Gadekar and Surendra Gadekar have carried out an independent health survey around Rawatbhata reactors revealing high occurrence of cancer, leukaemia and other diseases. “This study was published in a reputed and peer-reviewed medical journal but the NPCIL has callously ignored it,” said a statement issued by activists.

Besides, the Union Government has not done any independent safety review of its atomic power facilities after the nuclear accident at Fukushima in Japan following the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year. Concerns have been expressed at the top level about the safety of nuclear plants in the country in the wake of the damage caused in Fukushima.

The NPCIL hastily carried out an internal safety review last year within three months and gave a “clean chit to itself”, alleged the activists. The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), which has no independence and is due to be replaced by a new regulatory body currently under discussion in Parliament, has in the meanwhile given only very general recommendations on safety, they said.

Calling for a thorough safety review under independent experts, the activists requested the IAEA team to ask for a moratorium on new constructions and commissioning of nuclear reactors until such an independent review takes place. They said the people at the grassroots have raised serious safety issues in Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Mithivirdi, Chutka, Fatehabad, Kovvada, etc., where intense mass struggles are under way to oppose nuclear projects.

Charges denied

Rawatbhata atomic power station spokesperson D. Chanda, contacted by The Hindu , denied all the allegations and said the IAEA team, comprising experts from eight countries, was working in an “absolutely independent” manner and would submit its report to the international body which would share it with the NPCIL.

“The people who are out to defame the nuclear regulatory institutions are probably unaware that the IAEA mission is visiting India on the Union Government’s request. This is not a suo motu inspection. It will [just] look into our proven good practices and our adherence to safety standards,” said Mr. Chanda, adding that the plant is working within the limits laid down for it.

The IAEA team, comprising experts from the nuclear power plants of Canada, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, will stay at Rawatbhata till November 15. The experts have conducted plant tours and interacted with the personnel.

However, activists said the nuclear industry in India does not publish data about radiation releases in its nuclear facilities, nor does it carry out any periodic health survey of the population around its facilities. Despite the Government officially asking people living near Hyderabad’s Nuclear Fuel Complex not to drink ground water, no proper mechanism to ensure transparency on radiation health has been put in place and the establishment lives in complete denial of health hazards caused by radiation.

The Rawatbhata atomic power station — comprising eight units, including two units of 700 MW each under construction — is at present generating 1,140 MW power. The two units selected for the IAEA mission had earlier undergone peer review by the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) in 2003 and 2009.

 

Notes from an illuminating journey #sundayreading


ANKITA AGGARWAL, The Hindu

People at Gola block office in Ramgarh district listening to the yatris demand for universal old age pension
People at Gola block office in Ramgarh district listening to the yatris demand for universal old age pension

 to Food campaign launched a series of yatras in north India last month. Ankita Aggarwal joined the Jharkhand yatris and got a taste of the woes of the villagers.

The National Food Security Bill, tabled in Parliament in December 2011, is a travesty of the right to food. There have been regular agitations ever since for a comprehensive food security act, which guarantees adequate nutrition to everyone. Last month, the right to food campaign launched a series of yatras (convoys) in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and West Bengal to take this issue to the people.

I joined the Jharkhand yatra on October 11 in Bokaro. Baleshwar Bauri, who seemed to be leading the yatra at that time, is a Dalit from Dhanbad. He joined the Total Literacy Campaign in 1992 and was later a part of Asangathit Mazdoor Vahini, which agitated for minimum wages in the unorganised sector. He has also worked with Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti (BGVS), the right to information movement, and the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Encouraged by the achievements of earlier struggles, he is hopeful that the campaign for a comprehensive food security act will also succeed.

The next day we moved to Ramgarh and gathered people at the Gola block office compound. After talking about our demand for universal old age pension, we asked the few elderly people intently listening to us whether they were getting pensions. One of them, a woman, said that her pension was yet to be sanctioned in spite of her giving money and murga (chicken meat) to the middlemen. Another woman, a widow, had also paid money to get her pension sanctioned but was still waiting for it. People said that in their villages (Chadi, Chokada, Hupu, Navadih, among others) there were many other cases of old people or widows who were not getting a pension. Even those who do get a pension often receive it after delays of up to six months.

In the same meeting we asked people how they would feel if food rations under the Public Distribution System (PDS) were replaced with cash transfers. Without pausing for a second to think, some people said that they preferred rice to cash. When I asked if anyone would rather get cash, nobody in the group of about 50 people said “yes”. I then asked one of the old men who wasn’t getting a pension why he preferred rice. He said that money would get spent within a few days on other things. A younger man shouted from the back that if the old man was given money, he would squander it on alcohol.

A yatri’s story

Farkeshwar Mahto, one of the yatris (travellers), told me how he got involved in “social work”. He said that in 1999, when he was about 18 years old, a Dalit widow in his village was branded a daayan (witch) by her relatives who actually wanted to scare her away and seize her land. This woman was stripped, paraded in the village and sexually assaulted. Shaken by this incident, Farkeshwar decided to join struggles for justice. He was confident that the campaign’s demands would be accepted, because the government – he felt – is afraid of the people and needs their votes. He also said that some people, after listening to the yatris, asked whether they belonged to a political party and said that they wanted to vote for them.

Sometimes we would do a street play on a negotiation between the government and the public on PDS entitlements. The play was written by Bhagirath Das, another Dalit from Dhanbad, who also writes and sings songs on various social issues. When I asked him about the role of this creative work in the struggles he had been part of, he said that the public was bored of bhashans (speeches) and was more attracted to songs, plays and slogans. He felt that these were great means of communicating to others what social movements are trying to achieve.

On October 14 we reached Geddu Amba toli in the Angara block of Ranchi. In this village, people had mobilised last year to protest against the non-distribution of PDS rations in April and May. After a dharna at the Block office and other agitations, they had succeeded in forcing the administration to distribute the missing rations. This was an encouraging story, in a State where people generally feel so powerless to prevent corruption.

Jharkhand has expanded its Below Poverty Line (BPL) list to include more rural households in the PDS. All families among the (so-called) Primitive Tribal Groups have Antyodaya cards which entitle them to 35 kg of rice every month, free of cost. BPL cardholders also get monthly rations of 35 kg of rice, at one rupee per kg. A survey of the PDS conducted last year in Dumka and Ranchi districts found that actual purchases of PDS rice by BPL cardholders were around 70 per cent of the official entitlements. This was lower than in any other State covered by the same survey (except Bihar), but still represents an important step forward in a State where most of the PDS grain was diverted to the black market just a few years ago.

The yatris came from very diverse social backgrounds. Arif Ansari, 20, was assisting the driver in the bus we were travelling in. Soon after the yatra began, he took a liking for our songs, slogans and plays, and decided to join in. There was of course no looking back. Arif said that he didn’t have a ration card, but that after listening to so many people speaking about the need for everyone to have a ration card, he was hopeful that his family would be able to get one too.

Onward to Delhi

On October 16, a large convention on the right to food took place in Jamshedpur, where yatras from different States (Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal) converged. The Bihar yatra had begun from Jalhe Bogia village in Gaya district, where, sometime in 2005, hunger forced people to exhume a dead goat and eat its meat. Yatris from Chhattisgarh recounted many complaints of hardship due to the diversion of land and water for industries. In West Bengal, the yatra played a crucial role in the State government’s decision to start distributing additional allocations of 5 kg of foodgrains a month to 5000 households in every district. Various speakers stressed that ensuring food security requires addressing related issues of food production, procurement, storage and distribution.

In all the States where yatras took place, people earnestly supported the campaign’s demand for abolishing the division between BPL and APL (Above Poverty Line) households, and for a universal PDS. They wanted not only cereals from the PDS, but also pulses and oil, which are crucial for good nutrition. The campaign’s demand for excess food stocks to be immediately distributed through the PDS also received overwhelming support.

It was most energising to be part of a gathering where people from different States (some of whom had travelled for more than two days to reach Jamshedpur) had come to share their struggles for the right to food. The participants also danced, sang songs and exchanged slogans in several languages. The convention ended with a resolve to intensify the movement for a comprehensive food security act and agitate in the capital during the winter session of Parliament. I look forward to meeting all these people again, this time in Delhi.