#India – has Yo Yo Honey Singh already won ? #Rap #Vaw


A song that celebrates rape and sung allegedly by Honey Singh has been ‘discovered’. The tragedy in Delhi created the ground for this. If the discovery was supposed to raise awareness against the contents of the songs, that scheme has failed miserably. The number of online views of the said song has shot up steeply ever since the free publicity. Honey has denied singing the ‘Balatkari’ song.

Many people and groups, who, till yesterday had hardly heard of Honey Singh or this song, have assembled his paper and cloth idols to consign them to flames in public amidst much supportive sloganeering. This speedy move from relative ignorance to active denunciation, however heartfelt, is all too familiar. This has also given a good cover to misogynists to peddle high-decibel righteousness. If morality-fired censorship riding high on the back of a human tragedy is not immoral and cynical, I do not know what is. Even more cynical is how some such groups stand side-by-side folks who have devoted decades working at the grassroots – Honey has provided a strange equalizing opportunity, a short-cut.

Many patriotic songs are full of exhortation of death and killing of name-less ‘enemies’. ‘Religious songs’ have elements of killing demons (considered by many as euphemism for Dalits) and infidels. Most of the folks who want to stop watching Anurag Kashyap’s movies for his association with Honey, will not stop using products that are advertised using advertisements that ‘objectify’ women or boycott filmstars who publicly endorse such products. Walking the talk requires a different culture than consumer culture. We are like this only.

Honey Singh has put to tune fantasies that are known and liked widely — what many draw on bathroom walls. Some argue that the free distribution of such material creates an ambience that facilitates viewing women in a certain way – rape is a part of that way of viewing. The individual, in such a milieu, has a greater propensity to rape. The problem with such conjectures is that they do not have a clear causal relationship with criminal action. In the absence of that crucial strict causal link between action and crime, to criminalise human behaviour, however reprehensible it may be to some, leads all of us down an extremely slippery path. Theories of broad propensity are good enough. Consider the implications of this for the ‘single, migrant, underclass, male’ theory.

We should strive towards a fuller understanding of the popularity of songs such as these. The sad use of ‘impressionable children’ to grind their own axe has to stop. There is no evidence that grandfathers from ‘purer’ times are any less likely to grope. And why should everything be ‘family friendly’ anyways? Media ‘explicitness’ as a cause for sexual violence also tacitly legitimizes the ‘titilation’ theory. The less said about that, the better. We have more to lose by sacrificing free expression than the supposed gains of censoring Honey Singh.

There is an anxiety that unless there are curbs, Honeys will take all. There is a tacit acknowledgement that there is no robust alternative on offer. And there is the rub. There is a secret fear that there is no cultural repertoire that is up-to-date and ‘presentable’ as alternative to ‘the youth’. Beyond religion and sex, the relationship of the market with non-sexual elements of ‘Lok-sanskriti’ is faint. Real ‘Lok’ is important in production, consumption and propagation. When profiteers limit ‘Lok’ only to consumption, we have a problem. Organised industry has a certain idiom it is comfortable with. Socially rooted cultural produce without corporate intermediaries, say, the Baul-shahajiya minstrels, thrive in a supportive ecology. One cannot take away the ecology and then expect that it will continue its own evolution, as if nothing changed.

No number of ‘folk-music’ festivals in Delhi can provide alternatives in the backdropwhere ‘folk’ are systematically displaced and brutalized on a daily basis. Music and art, in their many shades, spring forth from life. Without it, it is simply a plant without roots — destined to die sooner or later. The new world selectively cuts roots. Hence Honey lives. After the destruction of rooted cultural idioms and ways of life, from where does one expect songs of life to spring? What will the songs be about – since sadness and pain are ‘unfit’ for modern consumption? Even the idea of songs from struggles of the displaced is met with the some kind of mental cringe, if not a mental block. Consumption is the basic framework in the new world. And there are no holy hills, groves, cultures, homelands, people. Honey Singh has sung the allegorical anthem of the new world. He may have sung it a bit too loudly, at an inopportune time.

Garga Chatterjee is a postdoctoral scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

 

Cultures cause violence against women not the length of skirts #Vaw #Womenrights #moralpolicing


Banamallika Choudhury

‘We have low crime statistics here’ our instructor at Chulalongkorn University told us during the orientation of new students in Bangkok. “Most common thing that can happen to you is someone snatching your bag away or cheating you off your money. And we do not have crime against women,” she said. At that point I wondered if she really meant it or if it was her English. For how can there be no crime against women in a city as big and bad as Bangkok? 3 months of living there later, it turned out that indeed it is a city very safe for women.

A lifetime’s experience of growing up in India and the rising incidents of violence against women makes me think – why is it that just across a few hundred km, there are places, people, countries where it is absolutely safe for me to be a tourist, wear the shortest of shorts and walk back drunk from a night club alone at 2 O’clock in the night. And how is it that my own society, where I am born and where I have grown up and where I continue to live makes me feel unsafe taking a city bus during the day to work?

Of the recent Delhi gang-rape case, the anger that young people demonstrated on the streets of Delhi and the solidarity shown from other parts of the country is inspiring. However, some of the opinions that floated on my facebook page were disturbing. It looked to me like most people thought stricter law and punishment would end violence against women. Not really, I say. For we already have many laws and punishment in place but this has been no deterrent to patriarchal mindsets that perpetrate women’s subordination. Yes, the question is about subordination and discrimination. Not how brutal or how ghastly the crime is. And here lies the answer of culture.

Only a change in cultural practices and attitudes towards women will change the societies which right now are terribly tilted to one side. How women are treated in a society is not only reflected by how terribly they are raped but also how women are restricted in their daily lives. The fact that inherently most people feel women are weak, less informed, needing protection at the best and loose, immoral and should be controlled at the worst show that women are generally considered unequal in our societies and mind. But these ideas about women are not the same in all societies. These considerations about women change from Delhi to Lhasa, from Guwahati to Shillong, from Dimapur to Imphal and from Agartala to Aizawl. This shows it is all in the mind and all in the culture.

The good thing is cultures can be changed. In Thailand’s history of women, it is said in their societies too women occupied a lesser position, were expected to be caring, docile and looking after their husband, children and family. Their popular King Rama IV, who tried to modernize the country somewhere in the middle 1800s, was sure that women’s status in their society needs to change for them to become a modern nation. He took women out of the homes into the economic productivity zones and insisted they lower the length of their traditional skirt. Not that short skirts are a sure sign of modernization but his logic behind this was damn cool. He said that those long skirts limited women’s movement and if they had to go out and participate in the world equally with men, they better be able to move. That I call logic. Thailand’s endeavour for the equality of women continued beyond Rama IV. In 1932 Thailand was one of the first Asian countries to give voting power to women. Today, the Thai women make up for 47% of the workforce including businesses making them the highest percentage of women in the Asia-Pacific. Not that everything is perfect in Thailand, but it is also considered one of the safest countries in the world for women both domestic and tourists.

Therefore by taking measures, personal and official, we too can change things. For this a whole lot of self-questioning is prerequisite. Let us see what frivolous-yet-having-impact kind of myths are there about women in our society. Are women bad in maths and science? Can girls rapture their hymen by riding bicycles and climbing trees? Are they physically incapable of carrying heavy load or doing jobs that require physical strength? Are women cantankerous or nagging by nature? Do women listen to music? Are women mostly emotional that rational? Can women make sensible decisions about money, investment, buying of big things like cars, house, TV? Do they know what latest gadget has entered the market? Are single women cranky? Do all women have the desire to become a mother? Do women have less capacity to drink then men? Is menstruation a dirty thing? Are pregnant women something special? Have you ever told a boy he is acting like a girl if he is whining or crying? Do you find effeminate men funny or repulsive? Do you think you have a say in who your sister is hanging out, seeing, going around with? Do you have a say in what your girlfriend wears? Do you think women are goddesses or exotic creatures? Have you ever wondered what women were doing while history happened? Do you feel uncomfortable when someone says I am a feminist?

An honest answer to these questions will reveal how patriarchy plays out in the minutest of our daily events, thoughts, conversations. Most of the time, we let these things pass our lives without even registering the perpetration of patriarchy and violence against women they cause. Yes, rape is not the only violence against women. Patriarchal thoughts and practices are.

At times I despair thinking it has taken Thailand 200 years to reach where they are now (Thailand is just an example and not even a perfect one). But I am hopeful in knowing that it can be changed. Our commitment and will to change things have to start at the personal and reach out to the political level. The recent report of Justice Verma Committee

(http://www.thehindu.com/multimedia/archive/01340/Justice_Verma_Comm_1340438a.pdf) is a step towards this positive direction. In Arvind Narayan of Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore’s word “What is particularly moving and inspiring about the Report is that it does so by placing the autonomy and indeed the sexual autonomy of women at the very centre of its discourse.” (http://kafila.org/2013/01/25/the-verma-committee-alchemizing-anger-to-hope-arvind-narrain/). And this is precisely what we all need to do.

Put women in the centre. Recognise that every woman is an individual and has her opinion, feelings, circumstances and experiences, physicality, sexuality, aptitude, angels and demons. Let her decide what she wants. By assuming you can decide for your daughter, sister, friend, wife, neighbor and the girl on the street you are automatically putting her in an automatically subordinate position. And in an unequal world, there is bound to be violence.

Although I have found many similarities between South East Asia and North-East India, I feel sad to say that this is one of the aspects where the dissimilarity is stark. The societies of North-East which were supposed to be more equal for women are changing fast to compete with the most gender violent places. Walking about in Guwahati, the similarity is more with Delhi than with Hanoi although our physical distance is the opposite. And only by accepting this and not harping on the myth that North-East is safe for women, can we begin changing. If we have to emulate and adopt other cultures, let us chose the ones that are more respectful to its members. Let us chose the ones that ensure safety for all. Let us resist the ones that drag us down to a violent future. Let this be our neo-colonial resistance.

Banamallika Choudhury loves to travel and talk. Her mainstay passion is the North-East of India and the post-sub-neo discourses. Luckily her job with ActionAid India provides opportunities to practice all of these daily.

 original article -http://www.thethumbprintmag.com

 

PRESS RELEASE- Newly Married Dalit Couple brutally assaulted #TISS


FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
NEWLY MARRIED DALIT COUPLE BRUTALLY ASSAULTED
PFA the Fact Sheet and the Detailed Report of the case of Physical Assault of Vaibhav Ghadage, TISS alumnus SW Batch 2010 and his newly wed wife Mohini Ghadage.They were married on the 20th.of January 2013 in Baramati. On the evening of 22nd.January 2013, they were brutally beaten up and left to die by three local goons in Vaibhav’s ancestral village Kulakjai, Maan Taluka, Satara district, Maharashtra.The Ghadge family has lodged an FIR and the police has charge IPC section 394 (robbery) and Section 34(common intent) against the three accused. Vaibhav, with fatal skull injuries and Mohini with injuries all over her body are currently out of danger, although still hospitalized in YNTC, Satara town.
 
Assaulted, near fatally injured, molested, pushed off a cliff and left for dead.
These were definitely not the thoughts that were running through Vaibhav’s and Mohini’s minds before they set out on the evening of January 22, 2013 to their village temple. But these words simply describe what happened to them on that fateful evening, just two days after their much anticipated wedding.
 
The Incident
They were followed by three men on motorcycles as they traveled to the temple situated along the cliffs near Kulakjai Village (Maan Taluka, Satara District, Maharashtra) around 5.30pm. The temple is situated outside the village.  The area is generally deserted. As they finished visiting the temple the three men attacked the newly wedded couple without warning or provocation. Vaibhav and Mohini were taken to edge of the cliffs. There they were beaten repeatedly and assaulted with stones. Mohini was forced by the men to watch as they continued to brutalize Vaibhav. While their phones were taken away, Mohini was forced to hand over all the gold she was wearing. The assaulters then tried to pull her sari off.  She was told that if she did not “cooperate” with them she would have to watch Vaibhav being done to death, and that she would be responsible for that happening. In trying to resist them, she held on to one end of the sari. Vaibhav threw a stone at the one doing this. Following this the man let go of the sari because of which Mohini fell off the cliff from a height of 300 feet and lost consciousness. Thinking her to be dead, they turned their focus completely onto Vaibhav and kept hitting his head with rocks. When it seemed to them that he was passing out to all the injuries, including a serious head injury (later identified as a cracked skull), the three men threw him off the cliff. Believing the couple to be dead, they left the place.
Mohini regained consciousness after about an hour and began climbing up the cliffs. She did this in spite of the serious injuries she had suffered all over her body, in addition to the various internal injuries. Vaibhav, who was slipping in and out of consciousness at that time, was able to call out her a couple of times before passing out completely. This allowed Mohini to find him, who then pulled Vaibhav up to a place of relative safety amongst the cliffs. Upon reaching the top, Mohini was able to make contact with some people living near the temple, with whose help she called her maternal home. They then alerted Vaibhav’s family, who put together a search party to find and rescue him. Vaibhav was found and rescued a couple of hours later and both of them were rushed to the hospital. Vaibhav was admitted to the ICU due the grievous nature of his injuries.
Their condition stabilized only two days after the incident. Vaibhav is at present out of the ICU. Mohini has suffered many internal injuries and is unable to eat solid food to date. An FIR was lodged with the Dahiwada Police Station on January 24, 2013. Statements from Mohini and Vaibhav have been recorded by the police. The police have registered a case of robbery with grievous injury. The couple has identified the perpetrators and one arrest has been made as of January 26, 2013.
 
The Background
While prima facie this incident is being considered as a case of robbery, the magnitude of brutality meted out to Mohini and Vaibhav should force one to examine the larger context of the case in detail. Motive of robbery alone instigating such violence is questionable. Mohini has stated to the police that the men who assaulted them were speaking and laughing to each other before throwing Vaibhav off the cliff. One of them reportedly said, Aata yanchya gharcha dusra gela! (There! One more person of the family is now dead!)” This statement by itself should be seen as one that weakens this case as one of mere robbery. A brief look into the family history will provide further clarity.
Vaibhav’s paternal uncle, Shri Madhukar Ghadage, was murdered in April 2007 over a land dispute with a family belonging to the dominant Mali caste (Kulakjai Village is home to 30 Dalit families, while the rest are Malis). This murder definitely had caste based overtones and the case was registered under the Prevention SC/ST Atrocities Act. Eleven persons were arrested. The prime accused in the murder case, Mr. Bhivaji Kapse, is the maternal cousin of the sitting MLA of Maan, Mr. Jaikumar Gore. Mr. Gore exercises significant clout and influence over government officials in the area. He is known to be close to  Mr Prithviraj Chavan, presently the sitting Chief Minister of Maharashtra. There were many obstructions to the process of investigation in this case which can only be traced back to pressure from higher authorities. Consequently, all the accused were let out on bail by the Sessions Court. The case is presently pending at the High Court with the hearing date yet to be set. Meanwhile all the accused remain to out on bail.
Last year, around October, the farming equipment and fields of the Ghadage family at Kulakjai were sabotaged. This led to the family incurring financial losses. The perpetrators of the farm incident could not be positively identified, though the family has strong suspicions that the family of the prime accused in the murder case is involved.
The prime accused in the Mohini-Vaibhav assault case, Navnath Kapase, is also an accused in the murder of Shri Madhukar Ghadage. He is the son of Bhivaji Kapase (who is the the prime accused in the murder case) and nephew of the MLA, Mr. Jaikumar Gore.
With this background thus established, the alleged motive of robbery in the latest incident of violence on Vaibhav and Mohini comes under serious doubt. The impunity with which Navnath Kapase has dared to commit such a crime while out on bail for murder, should give one further food for thought.
 
Implications
The Ghadage family is in constant fear of further harm befalling them. They are worried about the safety and security of all family members. The social and economic progress of the family has been thwarted at every step. Members of the family are being systematically targeted one after another, at regular intervals. Yesterday it was Shri Madhukar Ghadage and today it is Vaibhav. Tomorrow it could be anyone else in the family. The perpetrators need to get the message that they cannot expect to go scot free for the crimes they commit just because of their upper caste affiliations and the resultant connections in high political places.
 
Action Required
1.      The case is presently been registered under very weak sections in comparison to the nature of crime i.e. sections 394 (robbery) and Section 34 (common intent). Also the caste overtones in the case need to be examined. This incident cannot be considered an event in isolation, but one in a series of actions aimed at systematically disrupting the lives and livelihood of the various members of the Ghadage family in Kulakjai Village.
2.      That this case be brought under the purview of the Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act.
3.      That the case be registered as one of attempted murder, as the details clearly imply.
4.      It should be ensured that the Investigation Officer and investigation process in the matter of the Mohini-Vaibhav assault is not influenced by politicians.
5.      That the Shri Madhukar Ghadage Murder case pending with the High Court is fast tracked and hearing dates set immediately.
6.      That the bail of all accused in the murder case be cancelled with immediate effect as they are a constant threat to the family, as they have already demonstrated.
7.      That the safety and security of the Ghadage family is ensured at Kulakjai village.
Please contact the following people if you can be of proactive assistance in ensuring justice for this family at the earliest.
Tushar Ghadge – +91 90962 49712 /  +91 75886 96559
Mayank Sinha – +91 80802 67769
The above piece is based on inputs from Tushar Ghadage.

 

Press Release- Uphold the Maruti Worker’s right to protest #humanrights


Press Statement

Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, Delhi (PUDR)

UPHOLD MARUTI WORKERS’ RIGHT TO PROTEST

Imaan Khan, one of the active members of the Provisional Working Committee, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union (MSWU ) was picked up by the Haryana police in the morning of January 24, just before a press conference of the union was to begin from outside the union office of Sarva Karmachari Sangh in Civil Lines, Gurgaon. The charges put against him are the same as those on the workers arrested for the July 18, 2012 incident which was happened in manesar plant, in which one of the HR Managers Awanish Dev had died. There is apprehension now of other active members of the provisional committee being picked up. This is possible because the FIR of the incident was against 500 unnamed accused.

It needs to be reiterated that 146 workers, including the entire union, are in jail for the last seven months and there are non-bailable arrest warrants against 66 more workers. Also 546 permanent and 1800 contract workers were terminated.

With the entire union body in jail, the provisional committee is actively questioning the actions of the illegal termination of workers, arbitrary arrests and in general state-management-police nexus. All are being met with a heavy hand to break the morale of the workers.

A week long program comprising of ‘JUSTICE RALLY’ through the villages and cities across Haryana was organized, by the committee from 21st January 2012, after all talks with the management and labor department for the reinstatement of terminated workers failed. The program culminated in a dharna in Rohtak on 27th January. During this period too, the workers participating in the jattha  were harassed, intimidated and finally forcibly picked up by the police from Bilaspur, cycles all 20 of workers’ were dumped into police vehicles and dropped off to a village in Jhajjhar. When the workers resisted by laying on the ground and holding on to each other, the police used force to remove them and gave threats of arrests and torture if they entered Gurgaon. The MSWU union office was raided January 22 and 23 January.

Even the family members of the workers are being continuously harassed, by repeatedly summoning to the police stations and pressurized to get the workers to stay out of organizing work. Workers inside the plant are being given transfer orders to far away places for supporting the agitation too. Transfer orders were handed out to 12 workers to Mumbai, Kerala and Gauhati. This amounts to a virtual dismissal since workers find it tough to relocate.

PUDR strongly condemns the continuous repression and persecution of the Maruti workers by the Haryana government. This repression is clearly aimed at preventing them from exercising their right to protest against unfair labour practices and for demanding their legitimate rights.

We in PUDR

  • Uphold the democratic right of the workers to protest and demand the immediate release of Imaan Khan, MSWU Provisional Working Committee member
  • Demand an early and complete inquiry into the death of the HR manager and other events of July 18 and urge the Haryana government not to use the case to arrest more workers justly struggling for their rights!
  • Prevail upon all other democratic forces to stand by the right of workers against the state, capital and management nexus for a more dignified life struggling workers and recognition of their just demands.

Ashish Gupta and D Manjit,

Secretaries (30th January, 2013)

 

Saba Naqvi’s quest in search of an unknown Indian


The Quest, http://www.thethumbprintmag.com

Saba Naqvi embarks on a journey in search of an unknown India in her new book

In Good Faith, the title of my book at times sounds like a cliché to me. But it was appropriate to use if for a journey that contested the idea of absolute religious identity and traditions. It’s been 20 years since the book began and now that it is finally published, what I am most happy about is the notices it is beginning to get in the regions, in Bengal, Maharashtra and now Assam.

What drove me to write this and undertake this journey is what also drives some of my journalism—A mix of ideology and curiosity and the great love of understanding and discovering new things. I operate as a mainstream political journalist and I am careful not to cross certain lines but idealism, certain political views have always motivated me.

As I have written in the opening chapter of the book it was the events surrounding the Ram janmabhoomi movement that motivated me to undertake a journey to find people, communities and shrines that challenge our predetermined notions of what makes a Hindu or a Muslim. Along the way I found people and places on the periphery of absolute identities creating a unique space for themselves. It was a journey that had me travelling to all parts of India. I have a short chapter on Assam as well and I loved the place and spent more time there than was necessary. I had also travelled to the northeast of India from there. Unfortunately could never return to Assam as found no excuse to do so.

Anyway I carried this book with me for two decades and every now and then returned to the project. When I finally did do so it was over summer holidays in 2011 and 2012. As a journalist I am used to working on deadlines and I told myself that if I don’t do it now this work will just slip away from me.

So in June 2011 my parents, daughter, sisters, the whole clan went for an annual summer break. This time we rented a house in Manali in a beautiful apple orchard and estate. The Beas river was a short walk. It was very lovely and calm and with my father as master of ceremonies, fabulous meals were being prepared. We were eating, walking and surrounded by beauty. I began writing there but all too soon the vacation was over and it was back to work in Delhi.

In April last year I took a week off and wrote from home and some shape was finally beginning to take place. Then again back to journalism…

Then it was finally in the 2012 holidays, this time in a very nicely done up historic home in Shimla. I moved into a small corner room in the cottage and kept my own schedules. I would wake up early, do some yoga and write till lunch. It required discipline to keep myself from joining the noise, the fun, the outings, my nephews running around, but I isolated myself. It actually took me two weeks to finish the draft that I then made a few changes to over one weekend back in Delhi. The manuscript was sent to the publishers in July and it was only in October that they decided to bring it out quickly within a month. Hardly any editing changes were made and before I knew it the book was out in December last year.

I have learnt a lot from this process. First we have to set schedules to write and be stubborn about it. I have another long pending work to complete but now I know how to go about it. And now that this book has done well and number two is on its way, I have ideas for so many more. The first idea that is taking shape in my mind is a fiction to tell the story of a certain public event that moved me and I have followed closely. I would then be testing my abilities and whether I can make the shift from non-fiction to fiction. I may even fail at the attempt but along the way shall certainly give it a shot.

As a journalist one is so trained to deal with facts. Would I have the skill to write using my imagination? I wonder about that now. The other thing off course is will I be able to balance writing with my journalism? For journalism is important to me also. It is a way to engage with the world, to interpret events around us, perhaps even imagine we are making a difference in the way we tell a story.

But now that the book is out and I have new choices and options because there is one thing that I am clearer about now than perhaps some years ago. Ordinary careerism does not interest me. It is the belief that whatever I am doing is driven by some ideas, ideals and compassion. I like caring about things in the world around us, I like being moved, and I will go on trying to chronicle the troubled age we live in.

Saba Naqvi is the political editor of Outlook, one of India’s leading news magazines, and writes on politics, governance and current affairs. She has travelled extensively around India and covered elections in the country, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat. Beyond her role as a reporter and analyst, she follows issues of identity and culture. She lives in New Delhi.

 

‘Racism’ of early colour photography explored in art exhibition


 Friday 25 January 2013 , Guardian

Artists spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film engineered with only white faces in mind

"Shirley", which was the nickname given to the girl used in Kodak plotting sheets 
Kodak Shirley’ cards used for calibrating skin tones in photographs were named after the first model featured. Photograph: Adam Broomberg And Oliver Chanarin/Goodman Gallery

 in Johannesburg

Can the camera be racist? The question is explored in an exhibition that reflects on how Polaroid built an efficient tool for South Africa’s apartheid regime to photograph and police black people.

The London-based artists Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin spent a month in South Africa taking pictures on decades-old film that had been engineered with only white faces in mind. They used Polaroid’s vintage ID-2 camera, which had a “boost” button to increase the flash – enabling it to be used to photograph black people for the notorious passbooks, or “dompas”, that allowed the state to control their movements.

The result was raw snaps of some of the country’s most beautiful flora and fauna from regions such as the Garden Route and the Karoo, an attempt by the artists to subvert what they say was the camera’s original, sinister intent.

Broomberg and Chanarin say their work, on show at Johannesburg’s Goodman Gallery, examines “the radical notion that prejudice might be inherent in the medium of photography itself”. They argue that early colour film was predicated on white skin: in 1977, when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the stock was inherently “racist”.

The light range was so narrow, Broomberg said, that “if you exposed film for a white kid, the black kid sitting next to him would be rendered invisible except for the whites of his eyes and teeth”. It was only when Kodak’s two biggest clients – the confectionary and furniture industries – complained that dark chocolate and dark furniture were losing out that it came up with a solution.

The artists feel certain that the ID-2 camera and its boost button were Polaroid’s answer to South Africa’s very specific need. “Black skin absorbs 42% more light. The button boosts the flash exactly 42%,” Broomberg explained. “It makes me believe it was designed for this purpose.”

In 1970 Caroline Hunter, a young chemist working for Polaroid in America, stumbled upon evidence that the company was effectively supporting apartheid. She and her partner Ken Williams formed the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement andcampaigned for a boycott. By 1977 Polaroid had withdrawn from South Africa, spurring an international divestment movement that was crucial to bringing down apartheid.

The title of the exhibition, To Photograph the Details of a Dark Horse in Low Light, refers to the coded phrase used by Kodak to describe a new film stock created in the early 1980s to address the inability of earlier films to accurately render dark skin.

The show also features norm reference cards that always used white women as a standard for measuring and calibrating skin tones when printing photographs. The series of “Kodak Shirleys” were named after the first model featured. Today such cards show multiple races.

Broomberg and Chanarin made two recent trips to Gabon to photograph a series of rare Bwiti initiation rituals using Kodak film stock, scavenged from eBay, that had expired in 1978. Working with outdated chemical processes, they salvaged just a single frame. Broomberg said: “Anything that comes out of that camera is a political document. If I take a shot of the carpet, that’s a political document.”

 

#RIP -Dipankar Chakraborty (1941-2013)


January 29, 2013, Sanhati

55.jpg

Dipankar Chakraborty, leftist author and activist, and editor of the Bengali political magazine ‘Aneek’, passed away at 10.05 PM on 27th January, at his Teghoria residence in Kolkata following a cardiac arrest. He was one of the founder members of APDR (Association for Protection of Democratic Rights). At the time of death he was one of the Vice Presidents of APDR. Aneek was launched in 1964 and has been published uninterruptedly since; except for the 19 months when Chakraborty was in jail during the Emergency. He had been a dedicated supporter of and participant in peoples’ movements in West Bengal, while not holding back from criticizing what he felt were failings of these movements. His loss would be sorely felt in the movemental and intellectual space in Bengal.

Press Release from Aneek

Mahasveta Devi, Sankhaya Ghosh and others condoled the death of Dipankar Chakroborty, the editor of Left journal ‘ANEEK’.

Dipankar Chakroborty (71), the founder-editor of the independent Left journal, ANEEK, passed away on Sunday night. A cardiac patient, he had suffered respiratory problem last evening and died on the way to hospital. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter and grandchildren.

He was born in Dhaka in 1941 and grew up in Murshidabad after the partition. Educated in Baharampur and Kolkata, Chakroborty taught economics at Krishnanath college at Baharampur. he later settled in Kolkata.

A veteran of the Left movement since the sixties, he began publishing and editing ANEEK since 1964 when ruptures in the CPI on ideo-political issues led to first split and birth of the CPI(M).

In the wake of the Naxalbari uprising three years later that had triggered the second split and birth of the CPI(ML), Chakroborty did not join the new party. But he made ANEEK an independent forum for debates on contemporary communist movement, both national and international.

Under his stewardship, ANEEK has become one of the leading left periodical in Bengal and among the few ‘little magazines’ which have survived five decades against all odds. He himself was an accomplished political commentator and had several books to his credit. Chakroborty was jailed by the S.S Roy government during the Emergency. A life-long defender of human rights, he was also one of the founders of Association for Protection of Democratic Rights and its vice-president.

He was always active in the campaigns of release of political prisoners irrespective of the creed of the ruling parties and governments since the seventies. He stood by peoples’ movements and joined protests in their support despite his failng health– from Maruti to Nonadanga.

He was also one of the founders of Peoples’ Books Society, a major publication house and a enthusiast of Little Magazine movement in Bengal.

Noted novelist and activist Mahasveta Devi who knew Chakroborty closely expressed her ‘profound shock’. ” I am deeply grieved. It’s an irreplaceable loss for the human rights movement as well as for me,” the octogenarian writer said. Poet Sankhaya Ghosh, also mourned Chakroborty’s death. ” I feel like losing a near and dear one,” he said.

#Gujarat- Most girls feel unsafe on MSU campus: Survey


TNN | Jan 29, 2013,
VADODARA: Going by a recent survey conducted by nine students of M S University (MSU)’s faculty of law, it seems sexual harassment and gender sensitization are issues which the varsity would have to address sooner than later.

The survey conducted on 966 students (766 females and 200 males) is an eye-opener, according to Sahiyar, a women’s NGO, which has shot off a letter to the VC, forwarding some of the survey findings wherein 63% girls and 69% boys had a perception that girls were “not secure on the campus“. Worse, 24% girls and 19% boys “witnessed” sexual harassment within the campus, but none complained about it to any of the authorities.

Further, only 8% girls and barely 5% boys were aware of the existence of ‘women grievance redressal and counseling cell’ within MSU, but none of them was aware of its location.

The survey also recorded that 95% of girls and 92% boys felt that women needed some space or avenue where women’s grievances could be addressed.

“It is unfortunate that instead of taking positive steps to make the university free from sexual harassment and implement the judgment by the Supreme Court of India (Vishaka committee guidelines)…the authorities have taken regressive steps to put further restrictions on girl students by reducing the time for hostel girls,” the NGO wrote to the MSU VC, while seeking appointment to discuss the survey findings.

The complete survey report would be released after discussions with MSU authorities, they said.

When contacted, MSU registrar, Amit Dholakia said, he would not say much on the findings of the survey since he was yet to see the report.

“I am not saying the findings are baseless or incorrect, but surveys have their limitations or different methodologies. Also, I am not denying any reservations about perception of safety on the campus.”

He, however, admitted that the grievance cell had to be replaced by a committee to address complaints of sexual harassment. “We realize that a tighter mechanism for addressing women grievances is required, and that the counseling cell’s role is different from the committee which needs to be set up,” the registrar said, adding they would be setting up a committee “this week” to create a mechanism for setting up the committee, at both the varsity and at faculties’ level.

 

The empire within: India’s imperialist misogyny, a response to Madhu Kishwar #Vaw #Patriarchy


By Pubali Ray Chaudhuri
Posted on January 28, 2013 by Pubali Ray Chaudhuri

Tehelka, a leading investigative Indian news magazine, has just published an article “Rape, and How Men See it,” that I hope will become an important resource for readers and researchers alike looking for the views of Indian men on women.

Although the writers try, in the popular journalistic tradition, to put a positive, hopeful spin on the story, the larger, more common reality of the Indian male attitude of deep, unrelenting hatred towards women cannot be hidden: “Hindu, Muslim, or Christian. Farmer, labourer, auto driver, scientist, lawyer or teacher. Educated or illiterate. Old or young. Haryanvi, UP-wallah, or Southie. Only one thing seemed to bind the men Tehelka spoke to: they had no concept of male accountability; no concept of the hijab of eye and action. The burden of social order lay only with the woman.”

But I have chosen to focus here more on what hope, in the article, Indian feminism, Indian feminists, have to offer Indian women. After reading instance after vomit-inducing instance of the vicious, soul-deep hatred so many Indian men feel for Indian women, one looks, in despair, for the only hope: feminist rage, feminist protest, loud, uncompromising feminist opposition. The article does speak of the “acetylene rage” with which the media has responded to a flood of woman-hating invective that has proceeded from Indian men, misogyny that is as old and as vocal, almost, as India itself. But here is the reaction of the one Indian “feminist” Tehelka chooses to quote in response to the outrage over the overt misogyny (though other activists also speak, Kishwar is the only one Tehelka refers to as feminist, and with reason, for she runs the country’s best known feminist magazine: “Madhu Kishwar, feminist and editor of Manushi).

Madhu Kishwar is scathing about the media’s tone. “What kind of imperialist vocabulary is this? If you treat everyone who does not agree with you as aliens and fools, if you refuse to accept them as your own people, what gives you the right to dictate to them? What makes you think they will even entertain your criticism?” she asks.”

There is a lot to respond to here. First, one can take Madhu Kishwar’s words as coming from a position of authority, since she is one of the leading and well-respected Indian “feminists.” That position of authority as “leading Indian feminist” is no doubt why Tehelka went to her in the first place when it wanted a quote. So, Kishwar’s words, given the position she occupies, may be said to represent an important, central viewpoint of Indian feminism. It is to words from women in Kishwar’s position that women like me, for example, might be expected to turn for hope and guidance. What she said, therefore, is worth looking at. What does she say and what does it mean and how should we react?

Well, as we have seen, Kishwar begins by excoriating the anger of the Indian press against those who have made public and vicious misogynistic statements. She calls such a response on the part of the press “imperialist” and says that the press needs to “accept” those who make such remarks, expressive of hatred for women, as “our own people.” Or we cannot expect them to accept our criticism. There is a good deal of food for thought here; let us fall to.

Kishwar’s choice of vocabulary used to critique those who stand up to Indian misogynists has an interesting provenance if we examine it closely. The opposition she sets up between “imperialist” and “own people” has its roots in the fact of colonialism, in India being ruled by the British for over two centuries. We are not, she tells us, to act like “those people,” the British imperialists, with “our own people,” Indians. According to Kishwar, that is what we are doing when we express our fury, our vocal and uncompromising disagreement, and implacable opposition to misogynistic remarks made by Indian men (and a few women in positions of authority, as well). Because those who make such utterances are Indian, she implies, standing up to them makes us a sort of oppressor, because, after all, they are our “own people.”

Kishwar’s words imply that those who take, with their words, an indefensible moral position are yet in the same moral position as those who spiritedly oppose them. No, worse; she tells us that, because we express rage and resentment at misogynistic statements, WE are the oppressors, not those who, by making statements full of hatred and contempt for women, take the side of the patriarchal oppressor, enable, encourage and perpetuate patriarchy. It is a curious inversion, and it seems that we are to accept those supportive of oppression as our “own people,” rather than opposing them, simply because they happen to come from the same country.

But Kishwar forgets, in her colonialism-inspired vocabulary, her worldview that still takes its metaphors from the long-collapsed British Raj, that the oppressed woman has no country. That she is exiled from her very birth in a country like India where she belongs to another (her husband’s family) from the moment she is born, if she has managed to escape being aborted for the crime of being female in the first place. The parents who would abort us for being female are not our “own people,” they, by their actions, have exiled us to the land of the “other.” The brother who snatches our deserved share of the parental property is not acting as our “own,” rather, his actions are “othering” us by their very nature of exclusion, of disinheritance, exiling us to an “other” country where we do not belong to our families, nor they to us. When our in-laws demand a dowry for the favour of their son marrying us, and when our parents pay it, neither our parents nor our in-laws are acting towards us like true family. And if we protest these injustices loudly, if we express my horror and anger, our rage and frustration, we are the ones—if we take Kishwar’s view to the logical next step—being divisive, we are the one being imperialist? One does not know whether one is on one’s head or one’s heels. There is a very upside-down feeling to all of this, that much is clear.

I realized, long ago, as a woman beaten in childhood by her father, and a witness to the repeated physical abuse of her mother by her father, that a woman has no country. As a woman who watched her mother being refused her share of the parental property which was kept aside for her two financially independent brothers, thus forcing her to return to her abusive husband, I realized that a woman often has not even a house to call her own, let alone a country that grants her full and equal citizenship in any meaningful sense of the word.

In India, a woman is exiled and “othered,” and that exile and “othering” is in your face at every gut-wrenching, thorn-ridden, blood-stained step. It is not some distant foreigner, some evil white colonial British bugbear, who betrays and oppresses you, it is bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh, who shows you, and shows you unmistakably and without possibility of misunderstanding, just how “foreign” you really are, how much you don’t belong. I realized that the people whom society tells us should be our nearest and dearest can exile us, empowered and encouraged as they are to do so by the larger disenfranchisement perpetuated by Indian society. Mere ties of blood, or local or regional or even national ties do not a sense of community make. Such ties, violated and travestied for hundreds of millions of women like myself because of the simple fact that we are born female, are not what make up family.

The “aliens” and “fools” of Kishwar’s statement are not, then, those people who support and celebrate misogyny. The “fools” and “aliens” are women themselves, made such by society’s actions and attitudes that strip us of our self-esteem, that rob us of our independence and our rights. Such an alienation can take place and be felt within a community, within a nation, as well as without it. In India, it does take place within the community; those closest to us are often the very ones who make the most distant aliens of us, who drive us to the furthest possible margins of “otherness,” whose equivalent no “foreigner” can possibly accomplish.

The British conqueror and the Indian conquered are not the only possible binaries, especially not when it comes to Indian misogyny, for which the British are in no way responsible. When it comes to misogyny, there exists an Empire within India’s borders, run and administered by Indians themselves, by both men and female enablers who do the dirty work of patriarchy for personal gain, even as local Indian collaborators once did the dirty work of the British Empire for theirs. This Empire of Indian patriarchy, where we are our own imperialists over one another, where men and female enablers become the oppressors of all the women who are victims and targets of misogyny, is every bit as pernicious and bloody a reality as any foreign-controlled domination ever was. As I have pointed out elsewhere, it’s time we got rid of the colonial hangover as it applies to the British. India’s misogyny is an honest-to-God, desi, made-with-pride-in-India product. We even export it abroad in the persons of Indians living in foreign countries, people with excellent educations and jobs who still prefer male children, who cling to our charming Indian practices of sex-selective abortion and performing all kinds of poojas and vratas for the birth of the coveted male child. It is the misogynistic actions of such people that “other” us, that reduce us to the status of strangers in a strange land among people of our own country, our own community, our own region, our own family. The concept of “own,” when it comes to women, must be re-evaluated. The usual ties do not always, do not often, apply.

Nor is womanhood the only sphere of alienation, the only space where our “own people” can ruthlessly “other” us. The usual ties did not apply, for example, when Martin Luther King, whose legacy we commemorated this month, was engaged in his historic struggle for equal rights for African-Americans. Both European-Americans and African-Americans belonged, and still belong, to the same country, the United States. Yet it was African-Americans who were alienated, othered and exiled in their own land by European-American racism. What should King have done? Not vigorously protested racist statements, racist facts and attitudes, because they proceeded from his “own people,” fellow Americans?

If we follow the logical implications of Kishwar’s remarks, then Dr. King would have been the imperialist one for daring loudly and unequivocally to oppose the racism of his fellow-Americans, rather than those racist Americans for having made those statements and adopted those attitudes in the first place. This is looking-glass logic for a looking-glass world, where the protestor of injustice and those who support and perpetuate injustice occupy the same moral space. Now take Kishwar’s logic one step further and imagine an African-American saying to Dr. King that he, Dr. King, needed to “accept” the statements of racist European-Americans as coming from his “own people” rather than excoriating such statements with the unyielding opposition they so richly deserved. Now you get the blatant absurdity of Kishwar’s admonition that it is “imperialist” to stand up to imperialism merely because the oppressive woman-hating statements happen to come from those who would be issued the same country’s passports and speak, perhaps, the same language as oneself.

Kishwar’s words are not so far removed from those of Asaram Bapu, the Hindu guru and religious leader with a large following of devotees who declared that the victim of the Delhi bus gang-rape could have survived had she pleaded with her attackers, (who raped and beat her brutally and one of whom thrust an iron rod into her vagina with such force that he disembowelled her) held them by the hand, and called them “brother.” Is this not an extension of the “own people” argument put forward by Kishwar? Bapu is also invoking a quintessentially Indian meme, the festival of Rakhi, where women tie a thread to the wrists of their brothers, their closest blood relatives, and invoke the protection of those brothers. Many Indian women also tie Rakhis on men who are sexually harassing them, in a bid to invoke the brotherly protection rather than the predatory ravishment.

Rakhi, and the Bengali version, Bhai Phonta, no matter what positive spin one might try to put on them, are essentially festivals that honour men who promise to “protect” women as their sisters, thus reinforcing women’s identity as vulnerable entities and that of men themselves as predators from whose unwelcome attentions women need to be protected. How would it help to see rapists and rape apologists such as Bapu as our “own” people when they are the ones responsible for othering and disempowering women? This insistence is like begging our assailants by appealing to our common humanity, a commonality that they themselves, by their words and actions, have utterly repudiated.

One anecdote may be worth a thousand statistics; let me, therefore, recount an incident my mother narrated to me in my childhood, which may serve to illustrate to the reader, as it does to me, some of the misogynistic attitudes and behaviours to which our “own people” our own families, subject us in India. No Indian will be surprised at what I am about to relate, so common and normalized is our misogyny, so much is it a part of ordinary, everyday Indian life and social intercourse.

My mother had just given birth to her first-born child, myself; less than two months later, her older brother also had his first-born, a boy. My mother’s younger brother, then an unmarried youth, went to the hospital to see my male cousin. As he entered the house on his return, he remarked, with pride, “Amader chhele hoyeche. We’ve had a boy.” To my mother, listening, this was a double whammy: her brother’s use of the word “we,” effectively told her that as a married daughter she was not part of “us”, i.e., no longer part of the parental home, that she was outsider, “other.” The pleasure in the male child, of course, also diminished her in that she had evidently come off second-best in bearing the second-best, inferior goods, a girl rather than a boy. That a girl was certainly second-best was brought home to her anew when the same younger brother brought gifts for the two newborns; the toy for the girl was much smaller, as befitted the inferior child who didn’t even belong to the family, being as she was only a daughter’s, not a son’s, child.

No, as a woman I have no “own people,” by virtue of the same race, religion, geographical region or even family, because as a member of a perpetually oppressed class, I have no country, no place to call home. I have not alienated myself; alienation and othering are things that have been brutally done to me against my will. But I do have my “own people,” and they are people who stand with me against oppression, no matter where they are from. Feminists of either sex are my “own people.” Thus defined, I have family from Ghana to Ireland, from Bangalore to Munich. In the hearts of my allies is my only home, the one home I have ever been allowed as a woman “othered” from birth by my misogynistic culture. And I will not stop loudly and implacably protesting against misogyny, even if, as so often, it is Indians or my own blood relatives who are the ones making statements that express hatred of women. They are my fellow-human beings, and I support their human rights as I support my own; but they themselves, by their words, their attitudes, their actions have dis/owned me. I will not beg them; I will not cajole or coax or plead; I will not, as Kishwar it seems would have me do, appease them by appealing to our commonalities, for appealing and begging is not only fruitless, it is also humiliating and destructive to one’s self-esteem. As an exile into my own country of womanhood, I find many others exiled with me. They are my people.

Kishwar’s words fill me with disappointment and sadness, not hope. They offer no guidance, no validation, no support; they disempower and humiliate me for the legitimate anger I, and millions of other women like me, feel at Indian misogyny in its myriad forms and expressions. If Kishwar is representative of the best in Indian feminist thinking, as would seem to be the case when she is approached by mainstream news media looking for the feminist point of view, then I take my stand far away and worlds apart from such “feminism.”

I stand with Anubha Sharma, the young lady who read a courageous and moving poem

“Let there be no mother

Let there be no wives

Let there be no daughters

And there will be no crimes,” where she located the source of misogyny firmly where it belongs: in that basic unit of society, the Indian family, in the often toxic relationships that we are supposed to honour and cherish but that so often demean, objectify, exile and disown women. Sharma wrote this poem after an argument with her father. Kudos to her for not taking refuge in the comforting illusion of family ties and, instead, coming forward to claim as her family those who do not diminish her selfhood as a woman, those who honour and cherish her as she deserves: the audience for her poem. Kudos to her for stepping out boldly to find her family of allies in shared feminist values.

I stand with Taslima Nasrin, the Bangladeshi writer and freethinking feminist, another woman who has also realized that women have no geographical home, as she declares in the title of her blog “No Country For Women.” Yet Nasrin, in being exiled from her beloved Bangladesh, has found a home in the hearts of thousands of admirers from a variety of countries, who follow her work and who resonate with her progressive ideas.

These women are my home; they are my family; they are my people. Ideas are the ties that bind us. Our rebellion holds us together and makes us sisters.

I stand with them.

Pubali Ray Chaudhuri is an Associate Editor of Intrepid Report. She lives and writes in the California Bay Area.

 

Five years after kin murder, Dalit family attacked again, for pursuing justice


ALOK DESHPANDE, The Hindu 29,10213, Mumbai

The ghosts of the past continue to haunt the Ghadges, a Dalit family, of Kulakajai village in Maharashtra’s Satara district. They are still threatened and beaten up by caste Hindus.

The police have refused to invoke the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the accused, claiming that the victims did not ask for it.

On January 22, as part of the family tradition, newly wed Vaibhav Diwakar Ghadge, a postgraduate from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and his wife Shalini (name changed), an M.Com student, went to the Sitamai temple, three km from their village in Man tehsil. Three persons on a motorbike followed them to the temple. One of them was Navnath Kapse, an accused in the case of murder of Vaibhav’s uncle Madhukar and nephew of the local Congress MLA, Jaykumar Gore. Vaibhav is the complainant and only eyewitness in the case.

(On April 26, 2007, Madhukar was brutally murdered by 12 caste Hindu villagers for digging a well on his field. Three years ago, the lower court at Satara acquitted all the accused for lack of evidence. In 2010, the Bombay High Court admitted the appeal of the Ghadge family and is expected to give its ruling soon.)

Navnath and two other unidentified persons attacked the couple at an isolated spot near the temple. At first, Vaibhav was hit with a stone on the head. He fell down unconscious. The one who was holding Shalini demanded that she hand over her jewels and threatened to kill Vaibhav, if she refused. After robbing them, the assailants threw Vaibhav and his wife into a valley, and left them for dead. After some time, Shalini climbed up the hill and approached the nearby hamlet. She rescued her husband with the help of the villagers. Both are being treated at the Yashwant Neurological and Trauma Centre at Satara and said to be out of danger.

The incident occurred in the home district of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and in the constituency of the Congress MLA.“We are a joint family. After the murder of my father, our family didn’t bow to [the pressure from] the caste Hindus… We continued tilling our land. Though we are Dalits, ours is the most educated family in the village. All my cousins are postgraduates. We consistently pursued our fight for justice, and this does not seem to have gone down well with these people. They want us to withdraw that [murder] case,” said Tushar Ghadge, son of Madhukar and cousin of Vaibhav, who is also a postgraduate from the TISS.

Meanwhile, the police have arrested Navnath on robbery charges. “The accused did not make any casteist remark. How can we book them under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act? The victims did not ask us to charge them under the Act,” said Shahid Pathan, investigating officer of the Dahiwadi station.

But Tushar told The Hindu that the police ‘under pressure from the local MLA’ refused to invoke the Act. “They should also have slapped attempt-to-murder charges. The robbery charge will set them free in a few days,” he said. Navnath has been remanded in police custody till Tuesday. Despite repeated phone calls to Mr. Gore, he was unavailable for comments.

The Ghadge family owns around three acres. Tushar alleged that the caste Hindu families went all out to torture his family and to prevent their farming activity. “They destroyed new machines we brought, began disputing our purchase of new land, threatened us, and once [we] even came to blows.”

Keywords: Kulakajai Dalit family, Maharashtra caste Hindus, crimes against Dalits, India Dalits