Jaipur: 5 deaf, mute orphan girls raped and beaten by school staff #Vaw #WTFnews


PTI  Jaipur, May 18, 2013

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Five deaf and mute orphan girls were allegedly raped and beaten by staff at a residential school run by an NGO in Kanota area in Jaipur.

Four persons, including the director of the NGO ‘Awaaz Foundation’ have been arrested after the incident was reported to police on Saturday, DCP (East) Shweta Dhankar said on Sunday.

“The girls, aged between 15-17 years, were staying at the hostel run by Awaaz Foundation where two employees Ashok and Suresh had been sexually exploiting them for some time. The girls were raped and beaten, and when they approached the NGO officials, their complaints were ignored,” she said.

The girls were from a juvenile shelter home in Gandhi Nagar and had been sent to the residential school, which runs with the support from the Social Justice department, to undergo a training, police said.

The case came to light when the girls returned to their shelter home, run by the state government, in Gandhi Nagar after completing the course.

“We have arrested Alpana Sharma, who runs the NGO, and employees Geeta, Suresh and Ashok. A few more arrests are likely to happen soon,” the DCP added.

Police said that 109 students were staying at the hostel, which has been functioning for the last six years.

Meanwhile, People’s Union for Civil Liberties activists today protested in front of the girls’ home in Gandhi Nagar and demanded action against the culprits involved in the case.

 

Access to Medicines in Rajasthan, after Novartis Ruling


In the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment against Novartis trying to
seek patent on its anticancer drug Gleevec used for treatment of CML and
the granting of license to pharmaceutical company Natco by the Controller
General of Patents India to produce another anti cancer drug Sorafenib used
for treatment of liver and kidney cancers at 98% lesser cost than its
innovator company Bayer under the provisions of Compulsory Licensing, a
workshop for continuing medical education of the clinicians titled *”Making
Essential Medicines Available and Affordable to All Citizens” was jointly
organized by the SMS Medical College Jaipur, Rajasthan Medical Services
Corporation, Prayas and JSA Rajasthan on Saturday, 11th May 2013 in
Jaipur.*The key note address was delivered by Prof. Ranjit Roy
Chaudhury who
currently chairs the expert committee to formulate guidelines and SOPs for
approval of new drugs, clinical trials, banning of drugs and FDCs
constituted by the MOHFW, Govt. of India. Another speaker Mr. Anand Grover,
UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health and intervening lawyer on behalf
of the Cancer Patients Aid Association in the famous Novartis V/s Union of
India case in the Supreme Court of India spoke about the history of patent
laws and its impact on access to essential medicines in India besides the
developments which led to the Supreme Court rejecting the appeal of
Novartis. Dr. Mira Shiva of AIDAN and IHES spoke on TRIPS, WTO and global
issues relating to access to medicines. Dr. Subhash Nepaliya, Principal SMS
Medical College, Jaipur welcomed the participants. Other speakers were Dr.
Samit Sharma, Managing Director Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation and
Dr. Narendra Gupta of Prayas & JSA Rajasthan. The workshop was attended by
more than 140 persons including Dr. Virendra Singh, Supdt, SMS Hospital
Jaipur, Dr. S.D. Sharma, Supdt. Children’s Hospital, Dr. Pradeep Sharma,
Supdt Mental Hospital attached to SMS Medical College, Jaipur and large
number of other senior faculty members including medical oncologists. There
was very intense question answer session after each presentation. Most
questions raised were relating to the quality, efficacy of generic
medicines and adherence to essential medicines list.

As reported earlier, the Govt. of Rajasthan has included Imatinib Mesylate
under the Free Medicines Scheme of Rajasthan and the innovator company
Novartis had offered to provide 30 capsules of 400 mgm of it sold by it
under the brand name Glivec in Rs. 8000 which it sells in Rs. 1,23,456/- in
the market. This offer came prior to the Supreme Court judgment. But, the
RMSC floated tenders which were opened on the last Friday. Five companies
participated in the tender and offered to provide the medicine in prices as
follows:

1. United Biotech: Rs. 654.84
2. West Coast Pharma : Rs. 883.38
3. Glenmark :Rs.  902.70
4. Naprod Life Science : Rs. 1101.60
5. Cipla : Rs. 2548.62

According to a senior oncologist SMS Medical College Jaipur there are more
than 9,000 patients undergoing treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia in
the state right now and the govt. of Rajasthan is determined to make
Imatinib Mesylate available completely free for all such patients at govt.
health facilities under the Chief Minister Free Medicine Scheme. This would
certainly come as a huge relief to all these patients in terms of the cost
of treatment which they all must be bearing out of their pockets till now.

Prayas, Centre For Health Equity,
URL : www.prayaschittor.org

 

#India – People leave mother and daughter to’ bleed to death’ on Jaipur road for 40 minutes #Vaw #WTFnews


Tuesday, Apr 16 2013 

Traffic camera captures family’s anguish as mother and baby daughter ‘bleed to death on Indian road as callous motorists drive past for 40 minutes’

  • Family of four were on the same motorbike when they were hit by a lorry
  • Desperate pleas for passing drivers to help were ignored for 40 minutes
  • Shocking tragedy struck on section of road where bikes are banned

By Sudhanshu Mishra

PUBLISHED: 15:33 EST, 15 April 2013 |

A mother and baby daughter bled to death on the road while motorists sped past them, ignoring the desperate cries for help of the victim’s husband and their four-year-old son.

The family was travelling on a motorbike in Jaipur‘s newly constructed tunnel, Ghat-ki-Guni, where two-wheelers are banned, when a speeding truck hit them, killing Guddi Raigher, 26, and her eight-month-old daughter Arushi.

Her husband Kanhaiya and son Tanish, both of whom suffered minor injuries, spent the next 40 minutes desperately trying to flag down passing motorists for help.

Scroll down for video – WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT

Desperation: Kanhaiyalal Raigher and his young son try to flag down passing motorists as his wife and young daughter bleed to deathDesperation: Kanhaiyalal Raigher and his young son try to flag down passing motorists as his wife and young daughter bleed to death

Not a single motorist stopped to help Kanhaiya, who kept running to each and every vehicle passing the accident spot where his wife and daughter lay in a pool of blood.

He fainted near the bodies after running around for more than half-an-hour.

 Finally, some motorcyclists stopped to lift him and informed his relatives and the police.

This, too, was possible only after coming out of the tunnel as there is no mobile connectivity inside.

Horror: A CCTV camera captures Kanhaiya consoling his distraught son as vehicles pass by the scene of the accident without providing help for nearly 40 minutesHorror: A CCTV camera captures Kanhaiya consoling his distraught son as vehicles pass by the scene of the accident without providing help for nearly 40 minutes

Desperation: Kanhaiya Raigher and his young son attempt to flag down passing motorists after the motorbike they were travelling on was hit by a truck, killing two other members of their familyDesperation: Kanhaiya Raigher and his young son attempt to flag down passing motorists after the motorbike they were travelling on was hit by a truck, killing two other members of their family

Carnage: Motorists swerve around the fatally injured mother and daughter instead of stopping to helpCarnage: Motorists swerve around the fatally injured mother and daughter instead of stopping to help

But by then, 40 valuable minutes had passed without any assistance coming his way.

The ban on two-wheelers has not yet been enforced in the tunnel as a tug-of-war is going on between the traffic police and the private company responsible for its maintenance over who would deploy personnel to implement the rule.

The Ashok Gehlot government had shown unusual eagerness in getting the 2.8km tunnel inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on January 19, during the Congress party’s Chintan Shivir.

Devastating: The couple's son, pictured with relatives, sustained head injuriesDevastating: The couple’s son, pictured with relatives, sustained head injuries

The hurry was such that artificial trees and plants worth Rs 1.25 lakh were fixed with cement at the tunnel’s entrance to give it a green look.

The tunnel, on the outskirts of Jaipur, is on NH-11. Ever since the tunnel was thrown open to public, the Jaipur traffic police and Rohan Rajdeep Rajasthan Infrastructure Limited (RRRIL), the company entrusted with its maintenance, have been evading the responsibility of implementing the ban on two-wheelers.

Tragedy: Distraught father and grieving husband Kanhaiya pictured left, with a bandage around a hand wounded in the crash watched his wife and daughter bleed to deathTragedy: Distraught father and grieving husband Kanhaiya pictured left, with a bandage around a hand wounded in the crash watched his wife and daughter bleed to death

The traffic police maintain that it is the company’s responsibility, while the RRRIL claims that it had installed the warning boards restricting two-wheelers, but it does not have the authority to penalise the defaulters.

As a result of this dispute, two-wheeler riders have been flouting the ban, using the tunnel to reach their destinations. Kanhaiya’s ordeal was caught on the CCTV camera installed inside the tunnel.

Police rushed the family to hospital, where Guddi and Arushi were declared dead on arrival and Kanhaiya and Tanish were discharged after first aid.

Police tracked the truck’s registration number from the CCTV cameras installed in the tunnel and a hunt has been launched to catch the driver.

 

Passersby ignore accident victim in Jaipur street

 

Activist seeks info on terror camps, MHA provides Shinde’s clarification #RTI


Neha Shukla, TNN | Apr 5, 2013,

RSS Flag

LUCKNOW: In what could be described as a double whammy for the
Congress, after Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde made a U-turn
on his comments on Hindu terrorism, the ministry of home affairs did
not provide information about terror camps being operated by the
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Bharatiya Janata Party, when asked
under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The ministry, instead, provided the copy of Shinde’s clarification and
said the “home minister has issued a clarification on February 20,
clarifying the position.”

The political furore over Shinde’s comment on BJP and RSS conducting
terror camps, though died down after the minister tendered an apology,
caused embarrassment to the government. In an RTI response, the
ministry denied information. The questions could be irrelevant since
the minister has already apologised for his comment.

Shinde had said, during Congress’ Jaipur conclave, in January, “We
have got an investigation report that be it the RSS or BJP, their
training camps are promoting Hindu terrorism.” He later clarified that
he meant saffron and not Hindu terrorism. The comment was strong
enough to leave BJP livid, which demanded that the minister either
apologise or be sacked. Shinde later backpedalled and retracted his
statement by issuing a clarification and also regretting his
statement.

In January, activist Urvashi Sharma had sought certified copies of all
records available with the government based on which the home minister
had accused RSS and BJP of conducting terror training camps and
promoting “Hindu terrorism”, from the PMO. The response which came
more than two months after the application was made, said the
government has no records available on any of the information sought.

The query had also sought certified copies of information on location
within India and/or abroad of RSS and BJP terror training camps;
certified copies of records available with the government on action
taken against BJP and RSS to ban them for running terror training
camps; certified copies of prevailing national/international
rules/regulations/treaties/Government Orders as per which “terrorism”
has been divided on the basis of religion/caste/creed/sect etc.;
certified copies of list and all records available with the government
on cases of infiltration and/or insurgency and case wise actions taken
by government.

 

51 children including from Manipur-Nagaland rescued from Jaipur


March 14, 2013 by Imphal Free Press | 

DIMAPUR, Mar 14 (NNN): Young girls and boys including minors from Manipur and Nagaland have been rescued by Tangkhul Shanao Long, Delhi (Tangkhul Women Union-Delhi) on March 12 from two children`s homes in Jaipur.

Out of the 29 girls and 22 boys rescued,  22 girls are from Manipur and 3 from Nagaland. Regarding the boys, 7 are from Manipur and 4 are from Nagaland. They are from the age group of 5 to 14.

On Tuesday, the Tangkhul Women Union (TSL-D) on learning about the information raided both the children`s homes called Grace Home along with  a team led by the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Rajasthan with seven members of TSLD, social workers and activists and media persons.

Both the ‘Grace Home’ were illegally run by one Jacob John, flouting every norm and guideline laid by the Child Welfare Committee. He was arrested under the Indian Penal Code section 344,366 and 370(5) and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 section 23 and 28. TSLD was informed about the existence of this Home by a former inmate. TSLD then got in touch with the concerned authorities in Jaipur, according to TSL-D.

The Tangkhul Women Union said the condition in which it existed was shocking. In the girl’s home the children shared a single room with no female warden or caretaker and no helper either. All the domestic work was done by them. They informed the team that they were not allowed to make phone calls to their parents and families. When rarely allowed to do so, someone would be present to ensure that they do not report to their family about how they live and were being treated, the TSL-D added.

When some of the team members tried to talk the younger ones could respond only in Hindi. They had forgotten their mother tongue, the TSL-D narrated.

According to TSL-D, the team also found about 600 bottles of liquor and rotting vegetables lying in the kitchen and the toilets broken, indicating how the girls were made to live in such inhuman conditions. Of the 29 girls rescued, 22 are from Manipur, 3 from Nagaland and the remaining from Jharkhand. Among the boys 7 were from Manipur, 4 from Nagaland and the rest from Punjab and Chattisgarh. The children were promised free education, food and shelter but they never went to a school.

“TSL-D would like to state that Human Trafficking is a serious concern and would like to appeal to all parents and guardians to be cautious and verify the credibility of such Homes before sending their children. Taking advantage of economic vulnerabilities they lure people, promising jobs, free education, training and care. Very often the “traffickers” are family members or someone known. TSL-D is concerned about the personal and psychological toll it will have on the children and how slowly it will impact the society. TSL-D would also like to call upon every citizen and social organization to spread awareness and educate the people of this increasing trend. Human trafficking robs human dignity and conscience and it must be stopped!,” the Tangkhul Shanao Long-Delhi expressed.

 

Infosys to pay Rs.20 lakh as compensation to ‘Jaipur blast suspect’ #goodnews


_

Tuesday March 12, 2013 , Agencies

New Delhi: India‘s leading IT firm Infosys has agreed in the Rajasthan High Court to pay Rs.20 lakh as compensation to Rashid Husain, an IT Engineer, whom it sacked after he was detained in the 2008 Jaipur blasts.

Rashid Husain was detained by the Jaipur police for questioning in connection with the serial blasts that killed around 60 people on 13th May 2008. He was neither arrested, nor charge-sheeted for the blasts.

Infosys however terminated him within weeks of the detention without issuing any show-cause notice and without giving him an opportunity to defend.

He was kept in detention for 10 days and was later released as no evidence against him was found.

Rashid Husain challenged the termination order in the local labor court in August 2008. After three years of hearing, the labor court delivered judgment in his favor in March 2011.

According to Rashid’s counsel Prem Kishan Sharma, the court had observed there were “mala fide” intentions behind his termination.

“The applicant was not offered any opportunity to explain or give evidence on charges levelled against him about concealment of facts and submission of wrong facts.

“The termination is in violation of the Rajasthan Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1958. Therefore, he is entitled to be reinstated in service,” the order had said.

Infosys moved the Rajasthan High Court in April 2011 against the labor court judgment. But, the company agreed after 20 months in the High Court to pay a compensation of Rs.20 lakh to the sacked engineer.

After the settlement between Infosys and Husain, the High Court disposed of the case on 21st Jan 2013.

Rajasthan: Student gangraped by sacked cops #Vaw


PTI
Jaipur, March 11, 2013

RAPE

A 20-year-old girl was allegedly gangraped by two sacked jawans of Rajasthan Police Constabulary, police said in Jaipur.

“The girl was with her friend on a motorbike on March 7 when the accused, also on motorcycle, chased and stopped them near Rawatbhata road. The accused

identified as Mohan Singh and Jai Kumar, posing as policemen, sought papers of the motorbike and asked the couple to come to a police outpost with them saying that they were roaming in suspicious circumstances,” SHO Dadabadi police station-Kota, Dharmendra Kumar said on Monday.

“The couple was forced to sit on Jai Kumar’s motorcycle, while Mohan Singh drove the boy’s bike to an isolated area where they beat the boy and took turns to rape the girl,” he said.

After the incident, the couple reported the matter to the police and an FIR was lodged.

Mohan Singh was arrested on Saturday, he said, adding he was sent to judicial custody till March 16.

Another accused Jai Kumar is still absconding and a hunt is on to arrest him, he said.

The girl was living in a rented accommodation in Kota city and attending medical coaching classes.

Both the accused, who are local residents, were the RAC jawans and they were terminated from the services in 2006 for their involvement in a robbery case, the SHO, who is the investigating officer, sai

 

On a car ride with Mother Courage- Bhanwari Devi #Vaw #Sexualharassment


Independent journalist & radio anchor Vasanthi Hariprakash tells about her date with Rajastan’s firebrand Bhanwari Devi
bangalore Mirror

bhanwari devi

Posted On Sunday, March 10, 2013 at 09:19:45 PM

It is one thing to read about Bhanvari Devi in the papers; totally another to see her, and then realise she is smiling at you with every bit of her warmth even when you are just introduced to her. A woman about whose courage reams have been written, whose grit in the face of gang rape 21 years back by upper caste men in her village had eventually led to the landmark Visakha judgment on sexual harassment of women at the workplace, Bhanwari does justice to that line I had heard sometime, recited on stage as part of a poem: “Rajasthan ki naari hai, phool nahi, chingaari hai” (The English translation of that line would do no justice to the spirit in which it was written: The woman of Rajasthan; she is no flower, she is the spark of a fire.)

Firebrand Bhanwari certainly is, or why would the unlettered woman from the oppressed Kumhar caste have ventured about 30 years back to be a saathin (woman community worker) in her village in Rajasthan? Why would she agree to be a volunteer whose job, as part of the Women’s Development Programme (WDP), was to intervene in child marriages that would mean taking on unrelenting powerful patriarchs?

It was a job that was to cost her very dearly. The year was 1992, village Bhateri, about 60 km from the capital city of Jaipur. And in that part of the country where child marriages are rampant, an uppercaste Gujar household had been getting ready for a wedding. Or more aptly, getting ready for cradle-snatching. The bride was a nine-month-old baby girl; the ‘groom’ all of 1 year!

Bhanwari, who knew what it meant to be a child bride having been one herself, landed up at the house. She tried telling them gently, explaining to them why it was so wrong, “Mat karo chhoti bacchii ki shaadi, bhavishya kharab ho jaati hai ladki ki. (Do not get the child married now, her future will be ruined),” she pleaded.

But when all the Gujar men present there yelled at and taunted her, she revoked the power of being a saathin. “Collector saab has asked women like me to stop the marriage if the bride is a child,” she said. The party was over, even if only for that time — the child’s marriage is said to have taken place a few months down the line.

The male ego and the caste pride were hurt; the price extracted soon enough. One evening, when Bhanwari and her husband were working in their sparse little field, five Gujar men showed up. After picking a fight with him, they took turns to rape Bhanwari.

“Itne chhote chhote thhe yeh sab,” she tells me putting out her hand to describe how small her kids back at home were. The mother of two sons and two daughters decided it was no time to cry. How she then told her husband that she would not listen to him and would go ahead to file a police complaint, how the local primary health centre refused to examine her, how women cops at the local police station took away her ghaghra as evidence leaving her to travel to Jaipur by bus wrapped only in a thin bed sheet, how her first medical examination happened only 48 hours after her rape, and how it was the pressure of women’s organisations that brought the horrific crime to light – these are part of the Bhanwari story now well known, and well documented in newspapers, books as well as online articles.

Bhanwari’s incredible courage pushed her to be an unlikely hero. It won her awards, most famously the Neerja Bhanot award — named after the brave airhostess who died trying to resist a hijack attempt on a Pan Am flight in 1986. It took Bhanwari to international fora and women’s conferences in foreign lands. It also made her the mascot of victory over traumatic circumstances, but back in her own village, little or nothing changed for her, especially socially. Today, while she is the toast of woman power all over the country, to her own fellow villagers in Bhateri, Bhanwari with her family continues to be an ‘outcaste’.

The crippling social boycott that bans any link with her is a hurt she doesn’t express openly, but is evident when she says, “Aas paas ke gaon ki auratein salaah lene aatin hai, mere gaon se ek bhi nahi. (Women from all the nearby villages come to me asking for guidance, not one from my village.)”

Her rapists, meanwhile, were freed long back, after serving barely a year in jail.

Even the government has done little for the welfare of saathins like her, who travel village to village, carrying the word of government schemes for the poor, and risk their life and limbs while trying to intervene in cases of dowry demands, female foeticide and child marriage. “Women workers of Anganwadi, which came in much later after the WDP did, earn much more than we do. From Rs 300 decades back, today it’s barely 1,600.”

And since they are cleverly termed ‘volunteers’, these women retire with no pension, despite having been government servants all their lives. But that lament is only temporary. The positive power of Bhanwari’s persona kicks in, embracing every person she comes in touch with.

At a felicitation function organised on Saturday in her honour by the Kannada Lekhakiyara Sangha (Women writers’ association) in Bangalore’s Chamrajpet, the reed-thin Bhanwari deeply hugs a young girl whose own story of courage had earlier moved the audience to a thunderous applause. That long, deep hug is freely dispensed to every woman, every girl who wants Bhanwari to pose for a picture with her, mostly clicked on mobile phones. Even this writer, meeting her for the first time, is a beneficiary of that embrace.

From Chamrajpet, a couple of women are set to take Bhanwari to an activist’s home in Srirampura near Malleswaram for a simple lunch. Seeing that they are trying to hail an autorickshaw, I ask them if they want to come along in my car. They agree, and soon the middle aged woman in a bright Rajasthani saree, its ghunghat covering her head, is seated in the middle of the backseat next to me. On the other side is her daughter Rameshwari, who has accompanied her on this trip to Bangalore, and earlier Mangalore, where she addressed — and “energised” — a rally of around 4,000 people to mark International Women’s Day, to specially speak out against increasing moral policing in the coastal city.

Rameshwari, who translates Bhanwari’s Rajasthani dialect into Hindi for us, says her mother was thrilled to see so many women come together in the rally. She saw on TV all the “maar-peet” how they dragged girls out of a party, tore their clothes, pulled their hair…

Bhanwari speaks before her daughter can finish that line. “Kisi bhi aurat ke saath aisa hota hai, toh lagta hai mere shareer par atyachar ho raha ho. Bahut zyada dukhi hoti hoon. (Whenever a woman goes through that kind of ordeal, I feel I am violated. It makes me very sad.)”

That sadness, though, is not of the helpless kind. “Suryanelli ki ladki ko itni badi sazaa kyon?” she suddenly breathes fire. Referring to the church’s ban on the Kerala rape survivor, she says, “Why is she being punished? What is her crime? Why can’t all of us behenen (sisters) go there to show our support for her?”

Looking out of the car, Bhanwari lapses into memories of her own struggle, first to get even the complaint against her rapists registered, and then the battle in the courts. “Court mein koi bhi nahi hai garib ki sunne ke liye. Beizzati hoti hai, khilvaad karte hain mahilaaon ke saathh. (There is none in the courts to listen to the poor. There is only indignity and insult for women.)”

Talk then veers to the Delhi girl whose gang rape and death caused such national outrage. I mention the recent American award given in her honour, and Bhanwari retorts, “Puraskaar se pet kaun bhare? Hume puraskaar nahi, nyaay dijiye. (Can an award feed the stomach? Give us justice, not awards.)

Sunny, spirited, sharp and ready with repartees — just what’s the secret source of her mum’s spunk, I ask Rameshwari as the women get out of the car. “Bas, Maa aisi hi hain. Suru se hi. (Mother is always like this. Right from the start). A proud smile later, “Strong. Ekdumm majboot

 

The Irony of Iconhood: The life and times of Bhanwari Devi #Vaw #Sexualharassment #Justice


http://www.lawisgreek.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/bhanwari-devi.jpg

by- Laxmi Murthy
“Only justice can fill my belly, not awards,” says Bhanwari Devi in response to a question from the audience about whether or not she had been recognised by international awards. She was speaking at a meeting organised by the Alternative Law Forum, Bangalore. The previous day, along with other leaders, Bhanwari had roused a massive rally in Mangalore with her fiery calls for solidarity and action against violence against women. The Mangalore March 8th program itself was phenomenal, from all accounts (I couldn’t go), and I hope Madhu, Shakun or others will share some of the spirit and verve of the rally, Women in Black event and the seminar. The unprecedented coalition of women’s and progressive groups (almost a hundred) to raise a voice against the saffronization of Karnataka’s coastal belt and increasing attacks on women, has been the outcome of dedicated work by the Forum Against Atrocities on Women (the Mahila Dourjnya Virodi Vedike, Karnataka). That none of the events, which saw the mobilization of more than 5000 women, made it to even the Bangalore editions of the dailies (can’t even dream of the national media bothering!) is a matter of dismay, but won’t go into that right now.

Here I just wanted to share what some of us were talking about soon after Bhanwari’s talk. Many of the questions, particularly from the press (and apparently this happened even in the meeting earlier in the day), kept pushing Bhanwari back into the victim mode and somehow managed to zero in on her vulnerabilities. It is no surprise then, that she broke down on stage even 20 years after she was gang raped.
Some of us tried to steer the discussion to the context in which she worked – the context in which women’s safety as workers led to the Vishaka Guidelines. Again, no surprise, that nothing much has changed for Sathins on the ground. They continue to work in precarious conditions, for a monthly pittance of Rs 1600 (raised from Rs 200 in 1the 1990s, after determined work by the Sathin Karamchari Sangh, many of us in women’s groups in Delhi at the time were part of the support group, so are aware of just what an uphill battle that was). The task of “consciousness raising” or stopping “social evils” like dowry, sex selection, child marriage etc can be extremely precarious, especially at the village level. How many of us, asked  Shyama Narang in the audience, would enter people’s houses and demand that they stop child marriage or refuse to take dowry? Bhanwari was raped while attempting to overturn exactly these sorts of practices. Needless to say, there is no job security, no transport, and no support at all from the government for doing this risky work.
Throughout, her focus was on individual effort, collective action and non-government efforts if any change was to come about. She spoke of her efforts to educate her daughter Raneswhari (a bright and confident young woman who accompanied her to Mangalore-Bangalore) – she is now an MA B.ed and teaches in a school. Bhanwari spoke of the support she had received from her husband, activists in Jaipur and women’s solidarity in general. As for the rape case, Bhanwari does not talk much about, frustrated by the legal process and the appeal by her rapists pending in the High Court.
It is deeply ironical that the icon of the Vishakha Guidelines to deal with sexual harassment at the workplace finds the whole effort of law reform utterly futile and of no real help to women. Her response to deal with perpetrators of violence against women is to round them up and beat them. She was also in favour of death penalty for rapists, while responding to a question from a journalist in the audience: what should be done about the juvenile perpetrator of the ‘Delhi gang rape”? Predictably, today’s item in the Times of India (why are we not surprised?) says, “Fearless fighter wants all Nirbhaya rapists to be hanged”.
Bhanwari’s anguished response underlines once more why the best opportunity to undertake law reform might not be during times of trauma, emotional distress or mass mobilization, despite popular notions or even a progressive groups’ understanding of “striking while the iron is hot”. The job of reviewing or making laws is better done when one is somewhat removed from the situation. It is in the nature of Commissions and government response to agitations that they pick and choose what suits the status quo, but to appear to be responding to popular sentiment and “public mood” (however that is defined) gives the regime brownie points that the feminists are loathe to give.
As for Bhanwari, her life goes on, and that’s the wonderful part. True grit, impassioned activist, flame of hope – all the clichés in our lexicon can’t even begin to describe her.

 

A Sour Mail- #Nardendramodi


By: Akshay Pathak

(Akshay Pathak, having worked with the publishing industry for five years, is an independent consultant now)

An email invite landed in my inbox yesterday. A garishly designed and grammatically flawed invitation to hear the “honourable” and “enigmatic” ‘Narendra Modi ji’, who has been elected chief guest to the All India Federation of Master Printers’ (AIFMP) annual conference, “Romancing Print”, on March 2, 2013, in New Delhi. How fitting as we approach the eleventh anniversary of the Gujarat pogrom.

Many in the print and publishing world are outraged by this. I am sure many are equally eager to be blessed by a vision of the king himself, and partake of his “remarkable ability to transform dreams into reality”—as the brochure written by some sycophant, or most likely by his PR agency, informs us.

I belong to the former, the outraged set of people. Perhaps not a very large number, but surely a set of people loud enough to not let the “the supreme dream” that Modi says he has—“to regenerate and transform the state of Gujarat”—be touted around yet again. And this time, to the world of print and publishing. Some of us have already signed and sent a letter to the organizers denouncing this decision of theirs. A petition is being planned. In fact as I write this a welcome email hits my inbox where PrintWeek, their media sponsor has withdrawn from the event. The editor Ramu Ramanathan has since been receiving threats from members of the federation.

The event being titled “Romancing Print,” perhaps the organisers deemed it fit to invite the poster boy, the hero of the macho men of India, who, the brochure says, has the reputation of being “a hard taskmaster and strict disciplinarian and an embodiment of strength and compassion”. Since reputation is the word they chose to associate the “enigmatic” chief minister with, it would be fitting to identify other tags attached to that “reputation”. And, compassion, yes, it is a lovely word indeed—to be used for a man who, while he finds it easy to suck up to European Union officials, refuses to acknowledge even once, forget apologize, the carnage of 2002 where Muslims were brutally attacked, murdered and displaced on his watch. Did that also fit in with the dream of this supreme dreamer, whose vision, we are told, fosters “agricultural research, protection of the environment, infrastructure as the lifeline of industry and global investments”? The fact that the development story of Gujarat is a selective promotional exercise churned out by the Modi government and the corporate houses that benefit from it, is not news anymore.

A year ago, at roughly around the same time, I received a phone call from someone representing the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation. In my capacity as the Director of German Book Office, New Delhi, then, I was invited to a “core meeting” to discuss publishing. The AMC was planning to host a book fair, and wanted to discuss ideas and “learn from international experience”. Curious to know more about the proposed fair, and also because my job demanded it, I attended the meeting. It was held at the Gujarat Bhavan in New Delhi, and I saw some men from among the publishing circuit of Delhi sitting in a room stinking of damp sofas and perhaps some other unidentifiable stench.

The meeting began with a representative from the National Book Trust, New Delhi, introducing the new fair that they would be organizing in Ahmedabad in collaboration with the municipal corporation. We were shown grand 3D plans of a makeshift book fair tent on the banks of the River Sabarmati. There was an uneasiness in the room. Not because of the stench, I can say for certain. Surprisingly, in all this time, the “M” word was not mentioned once. The presentation was made by Powerpoint-savvy bureaucrats, the rare breed that a lot of urban yuppies imagine to be their ideal “public servants”.

At this time, I had already quit my job at the GBO, and was serving my notice period, and I was quite disillusioned with the world of publishing (something I have written about previously. But, for once, I was almost proud of the old men of publishing, men of my grandfathers’ age, who habitually grope young women after they have raided the bar sufficiently at book fairs and festivals. These men—for that room only had men—categorically asked if the proposed book fair had anything to do with the Gujarat Government (read “Shri Narendra Modi ji”). Never mind that the NBT and the AMC perhaps forgot that publishing is also made up of women, many women in fact. Or perhaps this was a demonstration of the true face of the vision and mission of the supreme dreamer, being emulated by his orderlies. I was glad that the “M” word was brought up by the publishers before I could do it. The officials, after quickly exchanging glances, insisted that it was the municipal corporation’s event. One still could not dare to convince people to associate with anything to do with Modi. After much cross-questioning, the officials admitted to wanting to create a “Jaipur-like event.” Here, DSC Jaipur Literature Festival can be proud yet again. The “greatest literary show on earth” has the supreme dreamer taken in by it too. Now that Kapil Sibal has stopped inflicting poetry on us (or has he?) in Jaipur, they have a candidate for next year’s list of VVIP guests. It can also assure them of enough scandal.

My engagement with the AMC-NBT event ended then and there. The first “Ahmedabad National Book Fair” went ahead, though not in a Jaipur-like manner, nor with similar results, I am told. It was a seven-day affair in an air-conditioned canopy on the banks of the Sabarmati. All over the venue, larger-than-life backdrops of the supreme dreamer himself (in one of the stalls alongside those of Steve Jobs) greeted visitors, something that wouldn’t surprise anyone any more. They dwarfed guests and invitees who were invited on stage, as well as the audience that sat to hear them speak. Some of notable Gujarati writers attended, and all the big Gujarati publishers and booksellers reported brisk sales. A handful of booksellers from neighbouring Rajasthan and Maharashtra, and a few from New Delhi too, had taken stalls. An Indian Express article dated May 2, 2012 describes all this and quotes Modi who inaugurated the book fair saying, “When we say German or Yahudi (Jews), we conjure up specific images of them but when it comes to Gujaratis, the image that comes to mind is people with taraju ya vyapaar (weighing scale or business). But the arrival of this fair will change this image.” A large statue of Vivekananda was also to be seen the moment one entered the fair. It was earlier advertised that the event would be opened by none other than Sri Asaram Bapu, clearly the most literary of all figures we have in India today. The PR companies must have realized the danger of that in time for this plan to be abandoned.

Narendra Modi, many say, has visions of taking this country “ahead”, something the organisers—and a section of the print and publishing industry too—seem to endorse. What do we read into this? The comically titled conference, which by its own admission derives inspiration from Bollywood, with sessions titled Jab Tak Hai ‘CARE’, promises to be a drab event. But the organisers, AIFMP and PRESSIdeas, urge us to be “inspired to do better business in our chosen field of printing.”

Does this mean that the print and publishing worlds, having first succumbed to the corporate world’s sin-bins—the many lit-fests and think-fests—are also now succumbing to the designs of a man whose political biography should have to be printed in blood?

source-http://www.bilkulonline.com/