#India- don’t focus too much on individuals in the battle against sexual violence, #Censorship #Vaw


PRERNA BAKSHI, The Hindu  #India-Towards a Decisive Victory in the Historic Battle for Women’s Rights

Against the recent backdrop of the gang rape incident in Delhi, rapper Honey Singh found himself surrounded by a number of protesting activists and NGOs. Some of his songs have come under the scanner and have been termed by these activists as offensive towards women.

However, the rapper himself has denied being associated with one such song which has in particular grabbed attention for demeaning women. The song has been doing the rounds on internet for quite some time even though neither the management nor the singer has claimed responsibility towards the ownership of the song.

While the trueownership of this song could be debatable, the question that needs to be asked is should this matter be given the amount of attention it has and more specifically, are songs such as those made by Honey Singh responsible for the growing rape and sexual violence towards women.

While it would be true to say that many of the contemporary songs do objectify women (of which Bollywood has a lot to answer for) which further affects the position of women in society, it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture while making such claims.

On New Year’s Eve, Honey Singh was forced to withdraw from the show at Bristol Hotel where he was scheduled to perform. Many people on social media celebrated the occasion by terming it the ‘first battle won’ on the first day of the New Year. It is here where the masses, activists and progressives need to take a step back and reassess their goals and strategies in a manner which does not over generalize and trivialize the issue at stake.

While there is not enough space in this article to look deeply at these issues, I have highlighted them in order to contribute to the debate about both the causes of gender violence, and the debate about what can and should be done about it.

A few points must be taken into account. Firstly, by focusing primarily on a single agenda and on a single individual, notwithstanding how achievable or worthwhile it is, we lose sight of more significant issues, thereby weakening the argument and the cause itself. By no means should any form of derogatory remarks towards women be tolerated in songs or public speeches but it should be recognized that removing sexism in songs and speeches, though helpful, cannot in itself fix the problem.

Secondly, by focusing on silencing the sexist elements within one’s speech without taking into account the existing power structures prevalent within the society, any efforts made in this direction would prove to be futile in the long run. It is for this reason the ultimate goal should be to alter the existing gender power differentials by aiming for a radical social transformation in order to truly achieve its ultimate aim of women emancipation. This cannot take place without altering the very power structures that have given rise to the ideology that gets manifested in speech towards women. Thirdly, devoting too much time and resources in shutting down the activities of people like Honey Singh would unnecessarily shift the focus of the debate from the praxis of gender relations to a debate about freedom of speech and would end up dividing public opinion and complicating matters further.

This is not a suggestion that time and effort should not be spent in protesting against such people but rather that it is imperative to address and correct their sexist and misogynistic attitudes. It is also not suggested that people should have the right to free speech no matter how violent and discriminating it may be towards women but that it has to be met with responsibility and accountability. The only necessary point is to refrain from over generalizing the effects of certain songs on the whole praxis of gender relations and not to attribute certain songs wholly as the cause of sexual violence and rape crises prevalent in the society.

Fourthly, caution is to be exercised whilst advocating for a ban or censorship of certain songs as doing this could further provide an impetus to the reactionary conservative forces that could later use this move to further their own agenda of maintaining the status quo and perpetuating existing power structures and thus consequently could prove to be detrimental to a revolutionary change in the society.

Censorship may sound appealing when the censors are targeting people we dislike, but for anyone interested in social transformation, censorship is negative in the long run.It is for these reasons that attitudinal and discourse level changes cannot be brought about independently and remain strongly influenced by the material and structural conditions. Without a change on the structural level, any meaningful change would seem unattainable.

 

PRESS RELEASE- #Mumbai-Police Act as Agents of Builders Against People


Relay Fast to Begin at Ambewadi Golibar, Mumbai

State Government and People’s Commission Enquiry Continues in SRA Corruption

GBGB Supports the Struggle of Slumdwellers in Bangalore against Evictions at EWS Quarters

Mumbai, January 20 : On the first day of the New Year, Mumbai witnessed a storm of people marching the streets for land and housing rights. A renewed struggle against Land Scam involving corrupt builders, illegal demolition and impeachment of housing rights began when thousands of poor belonging to slums across Mumbai, gathered at Govandi and Golibar to start their long march on foot to demand implementation of Rajeev Awas Yojana as self- development towards right to shelter, and to fight against atrocities faced by them.

 

The march reached VT station on 02 Jan, 2013, there was heavy deployment of rapid action force and police, who had surrounded the whole VT area, Azad Maidan and blocked most roads going towards Mantralaya. It was quite ironical as this was a march that was marching on the Gandhian path of non-violent protest. After much negotiation with authorities at Mantralaya and police, the marchers finally reached AzadMaidan.

 

On 5th January, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan started a relay fast for 24 hours to demand land and housing rights, at 1 pm by 30 representatives of various slums as well as middle class localities across Mumbai participating in the fast while more than 5,000 people continued their sit-in throughout the day at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.

 

Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan withdrew its 10 days long agitation, after having received certain concrete promises and directions for investigations in the issues related to of corruption in respect of housing rights and land scams throughout Mumbai. The State Government has agreed to conduct an enquiry through the Principal Secretary, Housing into SRA projects in 6 localities- Golibar, Ambedkar Nagar, Mulund, Ramnagar-Ghatkopar, Chandivali, Sion-koliwada and Indira-nagar Jogeshwari, defining the modus operandis involving all stakeholders and holding public hearings.

The State has also taken and conveyed a firm decision to take RAY ahead and Mandala RAY project proposal to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

 

While the Andolan was going on, all the things were moving on the right path. However, within a few days of withdrawal of the agitation and announcement of inquiry in the 6 SRA projects having approval on fraudulency and involving irregularities and illegalities, the harassment of the people have been started by the henchmen of developers under the tight police protection. Few examples of this harassment are cutting of public water supply and locking the doors of fencing compound just to block the way of local residents of Sion Koliwada. No cognizance was taken by Police and MCGM Authorities for this.

 

In Golibar, Ambewadi, on 18 Jan, 2013, developer with help of his 70-80 henchmen entered to fence the demolished area where the henchmen started assaulting the women with stone and bamboos to vacate the place. These women were badly assaulted and were admitted in hospital as they were severely injured. Nirmal Nagar Police Station has not taken any cognizance of the matter and was playing pro-builder role. On contrary, FIR has been registered in the favour of the developer’s henchmen and against the people who have raised their voice against the injustice. Demolition ride is still going on in different parts of slums.

 

Protesting against all the above mentioned injustice and harassment, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan with various slums as well as middle class localities across Mumbai has decided to continue and even intensify the struggle by starting Relay Fast today at 3pm, at Ambewadi Golibar, Mumbai, to reach out on the deaf ears of Government Authorities for our rights and justice.

 

Even though the Apex Authorities are issuing the orders of certain investigations but the sub-ordinates are least bothered to implement and follow the directions given by their Senior Authorities.

 

The struggle of Mumbai’s slum dwellers and those affected by corruption in Slum Rehabilitation and Re-development, continues at Ambewadi Golibar, Mumbai. We also stand in solidarity with the slumdwellers of Bangalore who are facing evictions and police repression at EWS quarters at Ejipura by BBMP. We demand that illegal demolitions by state will be resisted at all costs and we will stand in solidarity wherever homes will be demolished across the country.

 

Andolan demands that Maharashtra Government takes firm and concrete decisions, investigates into corruption and irregularities as well as Government should also carry out inquiry on Police Administration & Authorities for providing police protection to private bodies and for not even taking cognizance of the effected people and until then, people are determined to continue.

 

Sumit Wajale, Sandeep Yeole, Ajit bhau, Dattaram Tandel, Sushant Gumre, Madhuri Shivkar

9892143242

 

Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn #Vaw #drinking #smoking


by Sangeeta Das on Thursday, 17 January 2013 , Facebook

I was 18 when I first went to a party where there were many people of my age group smoking and drinking. Till then our parties were about food and music only. I was at the brink of being an adult and had rudimentary knowledge about sex and sexuality.

I was also not even aware about what exactly is sexual harassment, because there was practically no interaction with men. I was from a girl’s school, only went out with my girl friends, siblings or parents, had no boyfriend, most male friends were more like brothers, others were friend’s brothers; and being a gawky teenager hardly anybody noticed me on the streets. I was anonymous and invisible.

I started going to college at 18. That was the time I was exposed to the feelings of utter confusion of choosing between ‘what I want to do’ as opposed to ‘what I am supposed to do’ to be accepted as an adult among adults.

That was also the first time I started regularly travelling by bus. To me, the road side romeos were a different breed of people, who were nasty men, best avoided, glared at, or hit with the umbrella or water bottles. They were not civil and not at all found among the society of people where we lived.

At the party, the first question I faced was my about my age. Then I was asked, what will I drink. I had never had a drink till then. I refused and there were counter questions, why? A question for which I had proper answer. I was confused from then on.

I had some replies, “Because I don’t want to drink”… “Because I am here to enjoy”… But almost every answer I gave got me a volley of more questions…and it happened regularly.

If I said, ‘I don’t want’… I faced many remarks… “Do you think it is a bad thing to drink”… “How can you say you don’t like it, when you haven’t tasted it”… “You think we are bad people that we are drinking here”…”You don’t have to get drunk, you can just taste”… “Are you scared of your daddy”…

…followed by more jibes… sometimes deriding, sometimes angry… “Why don’t you get your father’s permission to drink”…”How can you enjoy a party, when you are not drunk”… “You have to experience everything in life”… “Its all part of growing up”… “How come, you are from LSR and you have such block headed ideas”.

Till date I never really could make this connection of my Alma Mater with the choices in my life. :-D

———

I was not very verbal or vocal and I felt I was being cornered so I never argued over the issue of drinking and smoking or its bad effects, versus, my choice in leading my life my way. I found it futile & juvenile.

I used to quietly refuse or smile and say no, or agree to take a little bit mixed with some soft drink.

Finally one day a guy said, “If you think we are all a bunch of drunakards then why are you here”, and I started declining the invitations.

I was sick and tired of being labeled — A behenji, a Low society girl, You know one of those govt. aided school girls, A prude, Mother-mary, homely girl and what not.

By the time I was 20 I knew for certain, how I wanted to enjoy being at a party; and getting drunk was not my kind of enjoyment. It happened at a New Year Party. We were all offered rum punch and I had picked up a whole bunch fruits floating in it and merrily chewed them. Before I knew what hit me I was sombre and sitting quietly in one corner on the floor with a girl-friend of mine. I felt like puking.

A guy almost 10 yrs elder to me, my friend’s elder brother’s friend, came and sat next to me and started asking me if I was ok or not. I nodded & said I am giddy. Soon a couple of his friends sat down next to us. This guy, suddenly laid down on the floor and put his head on my lap and said, “Hey you don’t mind na, I just want a head rest”… It took me a minute to realize what he was upto.

I shifted my legs so fast that his head hit the floor and I pretended to puke on him and he immediately moved and I got up. I told my girl-friend, about what happened and we left promptly.

After that my resolve to say ‘NO’ got even more stronger. I was prepared with my answers.”I do not have the stomach to hold alcohol. I don’t want to lose my alertness when drunk, cause I know anything can happen to me when I am drunk”… That shut people up to a large extent.

This was the first time I felt what is harassment and not from any loathesome road-romeo, but a civil, highly educated guy, rather man. My giddyness was his first indication, that I won’t protest.

———

After that I have been to hundreds of parties. I tasted almost every form of alcohol there was available, in large and in moderate proporitions…but I am always resolute about, how much I want to drink, what I want to drink, whether I want to drink at all or not, how I want it mixed, etc.

I did get drunk once at a New Year party at my home. I was so drunk that at 3 o clock in the morning, I threw out the gate crashers, screamed at someone for breaking one whole bottle of ‘Old Monk‘, made all my friends sit in a row on the floor, while I cleaned the entire house and then moved on to clean the kitchen. It has a become a joke among my friends, “If you want your house cleaned, get her drunk.”

Alcoholic substance has a different effect on my mind.

I have even got raving drunk on HOLI thrice after drinking Bhaang… I was stoned for 5 hours, talking nothing, just dreaming…and meditating.I was always particular to come back home before it hits me and never to drink among unknown people. Never giving in to undue pressure or judgment.

———

The same happened to me when I refused to take to smoking. I like the feeling of smoking. I do it occasionally if I have company.

I have smoked marijuana several times. But knew when to stop.The bottomline is even if I know and like smoking, I don’t smoke, by choice.

Every time I said ‘NO’ to a proffered cigarette, I got a raised eyebrow, “What??? I thought you were progressive”… Yes darling I am progressive, I just don’t want to kill you with passive smoking.

“What’s wrong in smoking, everybody smokes. Your health has more hazards from the food you eat.”Yes dear, I have more hazards from being around people like you.

Or I just turn around and fix my gaze and tell them, “Why is is so difficult for you to NO for an answer?”

As I developed Migraine and went through several medical tests, I recognised that my body is not too happy with alcohol or smoke. I reduced drinking and smoking all together.

———

When I got married the exact opposite started happening. None of my husband’s friends would even offer me a drink. If I asked for one, they would first look at my husband and then back at me sheepishly, “Oh sorry sorry, I didn’t know you drink”… as if to ask him for permission. Some times they even asked my husband what I would drink and he would come and ask me.

So my husband made it a point to always ask me aloud in front of his friends, “Shall I get something for you”, making it clear that I don’t need his permission, but he needs mine to make me a drink.

Yes often women rely on their husbands to make their drinks. I do it too, but not always. At the same time I have accumulated enough knowledge to know what I want. Once when I directed him, mix this, mix that, a dash of this and a dash of that, that raised eyebrows as well.

“OH! I didn’t know your wife is a mixologist”…

… “No actually I used to work as a bar tender before marriage”,…. I winked & smiled at them.

———

Even today often I meet people who don’t understand or accept my ‘NO’, as an answer. For them if I am saying ‘NO’, that means either I am being too coy, shy, regressive, prudish, behenji, snooty whatever.

Alternatively if I say ‘YES’ — I fall into the category of, fast, loose in morals, slut, not respectable enough, not responsible enough etc etc.

2 decades have passed and I have never tried to fit in any peer group of adults, which didn’t accept my choices as my own. I flit from one circle of friends to another. Whenever wherever I have felt or was reminded that there were some unsaid rules or norms to belong to the group, ideologically or morally… I stuck out like a square peg.

The judgements about me, my character, my behavior, my past have never stopped and never will in future as well.

In fact even now that half my life is over, people come up judging me with my past choices. They seem to be more worried than I am about my life. ha ha ha

But then what they don’t know is that I am very very adamant when it comes to making choices of my life. I am very clear about what I don’t want and nothing on this earth can make me do it. Just as I am very clear about what I want. I am also well equipped to shut them up with the right polite words.

I have many reasons for my choices. I either tell them, if I find the person receptive enough or I ignore them. I am an adult and I have a right to my choices. I am an adult and I don’t really need approval from everyone about the way I want to live my adult life.

I don’t feel angry, I don’t feel shocked. Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. I never did.

——–

That is what I would tell my young friends who are on the brink of adulthood. If you feel you are being pressurized or pushed into doing or being something, or behaving in a manner, that you are not happy with, just to be called an ADULT, or to be accepted among adults, then its time you introspect, re-think your choices, assess the possible repurcussions and be prepared to be accountable for the same choices. But don’t give in because everybody is doing it or you would be judged if don’t do it.

That is the whole point of being an adult. Not always conforming or being a part of what the rest of the adult world thinks or gathering more and more adults in your way of thought or behavior; but knowing and respecting your mind, body, heart and soul, their signals, your instincts, and your experiences, that

“My mind is mature enough, to understand what my choices are in life. I am the sole person making them and taking the responsibility of those choices. Nobody makes my choices and nobody takes the responsibility if the choice goes wrong. I am an adult and I can think for myself.”

In the end you are, what you choose to be. So choose wisely and be accountable for it.

#Mumbai -Invitation for Gender and Leadership Workshop on 12th Jan


Dear  friends,

 

Warm greetings for the New Year.

 

The active involvement of youth, especially of girls, is essential to bring change in society.   Given  direction and opportunity to display their skills, capacity and vibrant energy, they can be an important part of developmental programming and more. Youth leadership can be enhanced through building their alliances and giving them exposure to meet and share their views with peers.

 

To celebrate the National Youth Day on January 12, Vacha is organizing Gender and Leadership Workshop for young girls and boys between the ages of 16 – 24 years on Jan. 20. We invite you to nominate youth members from your area of field work. The participants will be girls and boys associated with a social organization, an NGO or basti level youth groups at least for a year. Maximum 6 people from one organisation can participate in the workshop at least 50% of them should be girls.  Participants need to register before January 12 by email to vachamail@gmail.com or by post/courier. Registration fee is Rs.20 per participant. Tea, breakfast and lunch will be provided. A certificate of participation will also be issued to all participants.

 

The objectives of workshop are:

  1. To increase gender understanding in youth
  2. To develop collaborative leadership in youth
  3. To encourage youth to be more active at basti level

 

Vacha is a Resource Centre for Women and Girls.  The major focus of our work is on building youth leadership of girls and boys living in bastis..

For more information contact:

Vacha Trust, Municipal School Building, Tank Lane, S.V.Road, Santacruz (W), Mumbai – 400054

Ph.No.- 022-26055523/ 9820957430/ 9820778330             Email: vachamail@gmail.com                                  website: www.vacha.org.in

 

An invitation in Hindi is also attached.

 

With thanks and best wishes,

 

Yagna Parmar and Amrita De

 

#India-“Give up KKNPP, go for solar and wind energy”- Adm.Ramdas


TIRUNELVELI, January 1, 2013, The Hindu

Staff Reporter

 

The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project is totally unsafe and should not be commissioned, according to former Navy Chief Admiral L. Ramdoss.

With ample resources of renewable energy and over 300 bright sunny days, government agencies should tap the potential to generate wind and solar energy, instead of commissioning the high-risk nuclear energy project at Kudankulam, he said.

The technology for generating solar energy was very competitive and cheaper than nuclear energy. However, the existing grid system was not suited to tap such clean energy resources. While developed countries around the world had abandoned the nuclear energy option on grounds of safety, the Indian government was pushing ahead with the commissioning of the risky nuclear energy project, overlooking safety concerns raised by the people, especially the coastal population.

Admiral Ramdoss was addressing the media at Idinthakarai near Kudankulam on Monday.

“In my view no assurance on safety has been made by the Central government, the Russian government, NPCIL, Department of Atomic Energy or any expert from the Indian officialdom,” he noted.

In the past, experts had certified nuclear energy plants to be safe.

These included plants such as Three Mile Island in the US, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Fukushima in Japan. Yet these plants suffered accidents, he pointed out. Design of the equipment, natural causes beyond our control and human failure could cause accidents, Mr. Ramdoss warned.

“People have the right to protect themselves from the risks of nuclear energy, but all these rights have been scuttled. They have been told lies that the emerging nuclear plant is safe. It is time to give up this unsafe project and the government authorities should find alternative source of energy to safeguard the lives of the people in the vicinity of Kudankulam and protect their livelihood,.” he said.

Binayak Sen, national vice-president, People’s Union for Civil Liberty, said the judicial process had been misused and AERB norms were being flouted in the process of commissioning this nuclear plant.

The protest by the people against nuclear energy was being suppressed. The PUCL and human rights organisations had been engaged in the withdrawal of sedition charges levelled against the protesters.

Praful Bidwai, senior journalist, said fake cases had been foisted on the protesters. As many as 325 cases were filed against those involved in the agitation at Idinthakarai. Charge sheets were filed against 1,20, 000 people and 13, 350 were charged with waging a war against the State and criminal conspiracy.

As many as 8,456 persons were booked on sedition charges, 18,143 persons accused of attempt to murder and 15,565 persons charged with destroying government properties. Sixty-six persons were arrested and nine imprisoned. Forty-five persons were released on conditional bail.

Children performed cultural programmes on the eve of the New Year. S.P. Udhayakumar, convener, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, and members of organisations against nuclear energy from various States took part in the agitation. The agitation at Idinthakarai has crossed 500 days.

 

#India – Lets ALL Resolve for FREEDOM from VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN this New Year #mustshare


Struggle to Make 2013 a Year 
For Freedom from Violence Against Women
On the very eve of the New Year of 2013, the life of a young woman was brutally cut short. This young woman with her dreams of education, of a job, of love and happiness, lives on in all of us. Her courage and dignity inspire us to resist the terrible discrimination, bias, and violence that eats into the heart of our society, and to demand justice and freedom for every woman. It takes courage to confront the government, the police and other institutions and demand accountability. It perhaps takes even greater courage to face and fight the daily discrimination and shackles that are imposed on women in our own homes and communities. We hope that we will find that courage in the spirit of that nameless young woman who lives on in our hearts.
We pledge to make 2013 a year of resistance to gender oppression, discrimination, and violence.
We pledge to support women’s struggle in the home, in the community, on the streets, at the workplace and in public spaces for equality and rights. 
We pledge to speak out against gender bias and violence wherever we see it.
vaw

Urgent Release – Kudankulam New Year event


Kudankulam all set to witness a Celebration of Peace:

People pour in from different parts of the country to celebrate the New Year with children, women and men of the anti-nuclear struggle

 

Press Release: 29th December 2012

 

Kudankulam is all set to witness a different event; where people from various walks of life, from across India will be joining to celebrate New Year with the local people of the coastal villages of Tamil Nadu.

 

All through 2012, Kudankulam – the now famous epicentre of anti-nuclear struggle in Tamil Nadu, India – was in the news for the local people’s valiant fight against the nuclear power plant. The place became renowned for the militancy of the local fishing communities, the clashes they had with police and the kind of state repression the people had to bear, despite being a democratic and peaceful struggle. It was also in the news for the loss of ecology and livelihood that will affect the local people, if the plant was commissioned. The Indian state has rubbished their struggle and with support from the state run atomic department scientists, setting aside the concerns of the local communities as ‘unscientific apprehensions’ and ‘baseless fears’. However, to the dismay of many, the local people in thousands, continue to believe that their ongoing struggle shall succeed and that the nuclear plant will not be commissioned in their neighbourhood, which will destroy their lives, livelihood and the marine ecology they depend upon. It is evident that they are not bothered about the power of the structures that they continue to oppose effectively. Their battle against the world’s highest paid nuclear lobbies is nothing but a repetition of the old story of the battle between David and Goliath!

 

However, the coastal areas neighbouring Kudankulam are all set to witness an event of a different nature and sort. Many groups across the country have gotten together to celebrate the New Year’s eve 2013, with the people of Idinthakarai and the other coastal hamlets of Tamil Nadu. The event is titled: New Year 2013 @ Kudankulam: Celebrating Resistance, Asserting Freedom. Hundreds of people from different parts of the country will reach Idinthakarai on the 31st of December to celebrate the New Year along with the peaceful struggle of the people of the region, also to salute the spirit of the people in sustaining the battle for democracy, peace and sovereignty.

 

I want to go to Kudankulam on 01.01.2013 to be with the coastal fisherfolk as well as the common people who are resisting the proposed nuclear power plant; a danger for the sea, the sand and the people”, says Mahasweta Devi, the internationally acclaimed poet and writer (Jnanpeeth Award winner).

 

Renowned poet and award winning writer, K. Satchidanandan emotionally added: It (the struggle) is all about the politics of life against the politics of death… I would like to be at Kudankulam this New Year day as I would like to be part of this politics, which is my politics and the politics of my poetry that sings life against death and the merchants of death. I want to sing the green, to sing love, to sing the undying dreams of the people, to celebrate the people’s right to survive, to work and to enjoy their brief existence on earth in a clean environment free from Hiroshimas and Chernobyls, without having death ticking nearby like a dark nightmare concealed in concrete. Because I want many more happy New Years to dawn at Kudankulam and everywhere on our dear little planet!”

 

 “Our people are joining in this celebration of resistance, to salute the spirit of the struggling people of Kudankulam. We want to use this occasion to wish the children, men and women of the coastal area a meaningful and peaceful 2013”, said Surinder Tirkey, General Secretary, Jharkhand Mines Area Coordination Committee (JMACC). “Democratic struggles for rights and dignity are not about some poor people in utter distress trying to battle some corporations or the Indian state. It is about celebrating the resilience of the people, their faith in the democracy and constitution of India. This is why me and our cultural team are going to Kudankulam to celebrate the New Year”, states Shankar Mahanand, award winning playwright and convener of Sanskrutik Andolan, Odisha who was instrumental in leading a cultural yatra for peace and harmony after the Kandhamal riots in the state.Fishworkers from different coastal unions will be joining the people of Idinthakarai and other nearby fishing hamlets, stated T. Peter of National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF).

 

“For twenty years now, Kudankulam has seen a struggle against the commissioning of the existing two reactors. The actual work has been completed only recently but they have not been able to load the fuel rods. They promised us that they would not, unless they implement the 17 safety regulations given by AERB (Atomic Energy Regulatory Board). And they have admitted that 11 of these are still outstanding and will take another two years to fulfil… We are going to join the people in ringing the New Year bells in the hope that we will not let this disastrous project happen”, said Admiral R Ramdas, the former head of the Indian Navy.

 

“The Kudankulam struggle is a remarkable, peaceful & courageous movement. Yet Close to 7000 people have been charged for sedition & war against the Indian state. This is not just an issue of nuclear energy but of rights of people & the violation of those rights. The people of Kudankulam are in truth fighting for the kind of India that we all want”, remarked Prof. Achin Vanayak of Delhi University, who is also a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament & Peace (CNDP).

 

Filmmakers, artists, musicians, activists and intellectuals from academia alike are expected to attend the gathering to be held in Idinthakarai on the 31st December evening. Prior to the New Year celebrations, filmmakers and theatre experts will be holding workshops for the children of the area, traumatised by the repression in 2012.

 

Special guests on the occasion will be the youth and children from Bhopal, who are themselves victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy 1984, or who are victims of the continuing water contamination by Dow Chemicals in Bhopal. They will be joined by adivasi and dalit groups and cultural teams from Central and North India.

 

In a message sent to the people in the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), Aruna Roy, a senior activist associated with the Mazdoor Kisan Sakti Sanghathan, Rajasthan stated: “If distances were short, I would be with you for both these days to celebrate your extraordinary courage & determination in fighting a very difficult battle with the state for democracy. For my democratic rights as well as yours! And for establishing that people have a right to decide what kind of development they should have…”

 

Dignitaries like Adv. Prashant Bhushan, Mallika Sarabhai, Xavier Dias, Kamla Bhasin, Praful Bidwai, Nikhil De, Ambai, Gabriela Dietrich, Prafulla Samantara, Lalitha Ramdas, Ajitha George, Bishop Geevarghese Coorilos Nalunnakkal, CR Neelakandan, Sr. Celia, Abhay Sahoo, Vilayodi Venugopal, Prof. Niveditha Menon, Ashok Choudhary, Laha Gopalan, some political leaders and others have expressed their solidarity with the event. More than seventy groups from across the country are expected to join their Kudankulam hosts in taking forward the struggles against destructive development paradigm.

 

For details contact: Magline (09495531555), Bhargavi (09999563950) & Lakshmi (09791009160)

 

Mumbai cops to film New Year parties, legal experts decry move #WTFnews #moralpolicing


By , TNN | Dec 27, 2012,

Mumbai cops to film New Year parties, legal experts decry move
MUMBAI: This New Year’s eve, partying at clubs and hotels may not be so much fun if the Mumbai Police‘s flying squads have their way and zoom in on your Gangnam-style moves.Allowing police to film parties at hotels and clubs is nothing short of unauthorized violation of privacy of individuals, say legal experts. Former senior IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh said, “Any use of force by the police has to be sanctioned by law and filming of parties at a club would amount to use of force which has no sanctity of law.” The Bombay Police Act does not permit any such filming, he said. Police said they would seek support of club owners to video shoot the parties if their flying squads suspect any activity underway at such a place that may be against the law. But legal expert point out that there is no provision in law to permit the police to record such parties or to ask club owners to do so on their behalf on mere suspicion that the law may be broken.

Western democracies hold the “right to privacy” as sacrosanct. Unlike India, which lacks a comprehensive law or rules governing privacy, the Criminal Code of Canada under section 162(1) states that, ‘Everyone commits an offence who, surreptitiously, observes – including by mechanical or electronic means – or makes a visual recording of a person who is in circumstances that give rise to a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

“Police cannot decide to wire up public places with CCTVs without justifiable reason,” said senior advocate Amit Desai. International lawyer S S Kothari said, “It is ludicrous to suggest that the police can film private parties without infringing on the right to privacy ensconced in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution“. He added, “In the United States, the laws stipulate when a photographer is on private property, the property owner sets rules about taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner’s rules, the owner can order you off his property and even have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply.” Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant in the US. “It would be perhaps only in the case of ‘national security’ or ‘a person is going to commit a crime’ that the police may do away with the right to privacy,” said Kothari. Another lawyer Sujay Kantawalla added, “Such filming would open doors to mischievous elements taking full advantage and throw up new avenues for harassment and corruption.”

While India lacks a special law on privacy and the new bill on Right to Privacy is still pending, the Supreme Court through numerous rulings has held it to be fundamental right under right to life and also a right under the Common Law. Such a right cannot be trampled on by circulars or rules made by the police or state departments without satisfying the test of Constitutional validity. Hence, any move to film the NYE parties in Mumbai, will be stamped with a VIP mark—”violating individual privacy”, said a young lawyer.

Know your rights:

Right to privacy is a fundamental right, the Supreme Court has held.

WHAT THE SC had ruled: ‘Rights and freedoms of citizens are set forth in the Constitution in order to guarantee that the individual, his personality and those things stamped with his personality shall be free from official interference except where a reasonable basis for intrusion exists. ‘Liberty against government’ a phrase coined by Professor Corwin expresses this idea forcefully. In this sense, many of the fundamental rights of citizens can be described as contributing to the right to privacy.”

* Police cannot invade an individual’s privacy without reasonable grounds or suspicion that an offence is expected to be committed.

* Filming without specific provisions in a statute is contrary to law and thus unlawful.

* Phone tapping too, which is if done without proper permission, is an invasion of a person’s privacy.

* The Indian Telegraph Act lays down strict rules to govern phone tapping.

* Electronic surveillance such as land line phone tapping or intercepting conversation through on cellular services and web-based technologies requires permission from none other than the Home Secretary, a high ranking officer.

Voices:

Advocate Swapnil Kothari: Any such circular or act by the government to allow filming would go against the Constitution and open unwanted floodgates of litigation on courts that are already overburdened. It is time that the Government lets its citizenry alone and leaves the individual’s peremptory rights to privacy and livelihood unfettered!

Advocate Amit Desai: This is like big brother watching. It would be a complete invasion of an individual’s privacy. What would be the justification? Legal principles require for any rule or law to be brought in, there has to be reasonable apprehension of commission of crime. “Police cannot decide to wire up public places with CCTV with out a justifiable reason,” said Desai

Advocate Shrikant Bhat: CCTVs outside at the entrance may be a permissible exception because of rise in terrorist attacks, but police cannot act in a knee-jerk reaction and seek to implement a move that would invade privacy, without any study that would merit such a law.

Times View

The government should have considered basic privacy issues before taking this step. What right does the state have to film what a citizen does in an enclosed space? Can it ensure the film will not be used against anyone in future? Effective policing does not mean filming law-abiding, paying patrons of bars and nightclubs; instead, it has to do with putting the fear of law in criminals. Breaking or bending of rules by bar owners and restaurateurs is condem- nable; but, for the man (and the woman) on the street, of much greater concern is crime on the street. We need to feel a lot safer on the street and at railway stations and on trains and buses before we know that no bar in town is breaking some rule formulated decades ago.

New Year 2013

 

Invite to Kudankulam to Celebrate the New Year 2013!


newyear

 

Dear friends/comrades,

 

We invite you join us in celebrating the arrival of the New Year 2013 at the coastal hamlets of Kudankulam, Tamilnadu.

The men, women and children fighting against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant have caught the attention of the entire nation. Even while the Central and State governments are using their concerted powers to squash all opposition, the people’s struggle, led by PMANE (People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy), remain resolute to protect the present and future generations from the negative impacts of radiation. And this, they are doing by staking their very lives! The fisher people, farmers, traders and others in Kudankulam continue to organise boat protests, blockades outside the plant, rallies, and public meetings.

Keeping aside the debate around nuclear power, the people’s resistance and their unrelenting spirit ought to be celebrated– for their collective capacity to continue their peaceful struggle. Let all of us who believe in the struggle of the Kudankulam people come together to assert our freedoms, reclaim democracy, and celebrate the spirit of resistance.

We invite you to three days of conversations, songs, dance, music, poetry, films and more at Idinthakarai, Kudankulam from 30 December 2012 to 1 January 2013. Please find beneath the invite/call for the programme!

ENDORSE THE CALL. PASS THE WORD AROUND. JOIN US AT KUDANKULAM. CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS THE EXPENSES (We don’t need ‘foreign’ funds, we need yours!!! )

We look forward to celebrating the arrival of the New Year with you @ Kudankulam.

For programme related queries, confirmations, etc please contact:

 

Bhargavi: 09999563950/ 011 26680914/26687724; bhargavi@delhiforum.net

 

Nityanand Jayaraman: 09444082401; nity682@gmail.com

 

T Peter: 09447429243; peter.ksmtf@gmail.com 

In solidarity,

Vijayan MJ

 Celebrating the New Year-2013 @ Kudankulam  

Three days of conversations, songs, dance, music, poetry, films

and more at Idinthakarai, Kudankulam 

30 December 2012 to 01 January 2013

 ASSERTING FREEDOM; CELEBRATING RESISTANCE

“I want to go to Kudankulam on 01.01.2013 to be with the fisherfolk as well as the common people who are resisting the proposed nuclear power plant; a danger for the sea, the sand and the people… In fact the total environment will be threatened when nuclear power plant comes. The humanity, marine and animal life will be destroyed… I hope that Kudankulam, the very name, will set an example before Indian citizens and lead us towards the victory of humanity.”

Mahashweta Devi

 

An alternative world is emerging from the grassroots- through social movements and people’s resistance, through the power of ideas and practice. This emergence is always there though the scale of social movements and people’s resistance varies. It expands and contracts, it fragments and converges, and it goes through defeats and reorganising. Yet over a historical time it grows silently, incrementally and unevenly in many streams, in many movements and organisations, and erupts decisively through their confluence in revolutions.

People get drawn in by various motivations, interests and persuasions. At the core of all social movements and people’s resistance are always communities of activists, who carry a simple truth: the human capacity to change. This shared belief is fundamental, to be retained and nurtured through a sense of belonging.

There is always a frontline from where the power of domination and the state is confronted and struggled with to make way for social and political change; where people inspire, make sacrifices, families suffer and individuals are tested for their commitment.

The resistance at Kudankulam is one such frontline. We have to stand with them from everywhere. We can also be with them as they face suffering, loss and pain. As communities of activists, we can gift them with the power of belonging and the strength of our solidarity. All of us carry traditions of cultural and political celebration – a moment when differences remain subdued and belongings become pronounced. In bringing together the New Year celebration with a people’s movement at the frontlines, we make the personal political, celebration a form of protest, and belonging deeper and broader.

We invite you to three days of conversations, song, dance, music, poetry, films and more to stand in solidarity with the people in Idinthakarai, Kudankulam from 30 December 2012 to 1 January 2013. We look forward to celebrating the arrival of the New Year with you.

With best wishes and solidarity

Organising Collective for New Year @ Kudankulam

CHENNAI SOLIDARITY FOR KUDANKULAM | DELHI SOLIDARITY GROUP | KERALA SOLIDARITY FOR KUDANKULAM | PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY

 

For more details contact Organising Collective for New Year @ Kudankulam

Bhargavi: 09999563950/ 011 26680914/26687724; bhargavi@delhiforum.net

Nityanand Jayaraman: 09444082401; nity682@gmail.com

T Peter: 09447429243; peter.ksmtf@gmail.com
Vijayan MJ
General Secretary
Programme for Social Action (PSA)
Address: H-17/1 (Basement), Malviya Nagar,
New Delhi INDIA – 110017
Phones: + 91-11-26687725 (Direct), 26671556 / +91-9582862682 (Mobile)
Emails: vijayan@psa-india.netgs@psa-india.net
Web: http://psa-india.net

 

I salute Meena Kandasamy, each and every domestic Violence survivor needs to read this


  Meena  is my Facebook friend, and I salute her, as it takes extraordinary courage to come out in the open about a  violent and an abusive marriage, I hope this step by Meena ,will give the courage to many such women trapped in such abusive relationships to break their shackles    

‘With sad-woman eyes and soulful smiles’
Meena Kandasamy

In that strange coastal town-city where it rains every morning, I partake of pain as if it is prayer. Married to a violent man who treats me with nothing but distrust and suspicion, my skin has seen enough hurt to tell its own story.In the early days, his words win me back: I don’t have anything if I don’t have you. In this honeymoon period, every quarrel follows a predictable pattern: we make up, we make love, we move on. It becomes a bargain, a barter system. For the sake of survival, I surrender my space.

Two months into the marriage, he cajoles me into parting with my passwords. Soon he answers my e-mails with the same liberty with which he used to select my clothes. Why do you need my password, I ask. You have mine, he says. But I did not ask you for it, I say. You don’t love me enough, he says. Possess me so that I can possess you for possessing me: the thoughts of a possessed, possessive man who has made possession into his single obsession. There can be no secrets when love has become a cruel slave-era overseer. He proposes the idea of a common  e-mail address one week, it is enforced the next. He makes personal boundaries disappear. I am isolated from all my friends and family. As an act of purification, 25,000 e-mail messages are erased on New Year’s Eve. I become the woman with no history.

Soon, in my loveless marriage, sex begins to replicate the model of a market economy: he demands, I supply. Never mind that my response does not matter, never mind that I bleed every single time, never mind that he derives his pleasure from my pain. With a scattered heart and in no mood for seduction, the woman in me carries on a conversation with the ceiling, she confides in the curtains. Faced with so much damage, she seeks pleasure in the flaming forces of nature: harsh sunlight, sudden showers. Secretly, she refuses to be tamed.

The first time he hits me, I remember I hit him back. Retaliation can work between well-matched rivals, but experience teaches me that a woman who weighs less than a hundred pounds should think of other options. It also teaches me other things. I learn that anything can become an instrument of punishment: twisted computer power-cords, leather belts, his bare hands that I once held with all the love in the world. His words sharpen his strikes. If I deliver a quick blow, your brains will spill out, he says. His every slap shatters me. Once, when he strangulates me, I imbibe the silence of a choked throat.

And when I tell him that I want to walk out of the marriage, he wishes me success in a career as a prostitute, asks me to specialise in fellating, advices me to use condoms. I shrink and shrivel and shout back and shed a steady stream of tears. He smiles at his success. He wants me to feel like a fallen woman. He always inhabits the moral high ground and resorts to extreme generalisations: literary festivals are brothels, women writers are whores, my poetry is pornography. His communist credentials crumble. He faults me for being a feminist. I am treated with the hatred that should be reserved for class enemies.

As fear seeps into my body, sex becomes unto submission. in this role of a wife, I remember nothing except the relief of being let go, being let off after being used up… I am no longer myself… I think death will put an end to this.

As a bored housewife, I colour-code the domestic violence: fresh red welts on my skin, the black hue of blood clots, the fading violet of healed bruises. It appears that there is no escape from this unending cycle of abuse, remorse-filled apology and more abuse. One day, when I am whipped with a belt and cannot take it anymore, I threaten him with police action. He retorts that no man in uniform will respect me after reading a line of my verse. He challenges me to go to anyone anywhere. I have no friends in that small world—only his colleagues who think the world of him and his students who worship the earth on which he walks. I do not know whom to trust, even our neighbours could hand me back to him. In the middle of the night, I want to rush to a nearby convent, seek shelter. Would I be understood? Would it work out? How far can I run away in a city that does not speak my tongue, a city where young women in bars are beaten up?

I tell him that I cannot live with him any longer. I tell him that I have lost count of the last chances I have given him.

The next morning I wake up and see that he has singed his flesh with a red-hot spoon. A twisted mind and its twisted love. He is willing to explain himself: I inflict this punishment on myself because I realise my guilt. I did this because I love you. In other words: you made me hurt you, you made me hurt myself. The subtext: please take the blame, please take the beatings too. I am held hostage emotionally. I crave for a freedom that will just let me be me, I flounder to find the words to help me speak my story. I live in a house of slamming doors and broken dreams. I am no longer myself, I am convinced that I am starring in somebody’s tragic film. I look forward to dying, I think death will put an end to this.

As fear seeps into my body, sex becomes submission, and in this role-play of being a wife, I remember nothing except the relief of being let go, being let off after being used up. In this marriage of martyrdom, kisses disappear.

We sleep in separate rooms. Every night, my heart sings a sad song. I long for tenderness. I circle around my sorrow as if it were a village goddess, I feed it my bruised flesh. Come and get me,
I cry. No one hears me, it is just me screaming in my head. I manage to pull myself together because I have vowed never to break.

I grow distant, we grow apart.

I later uncover his double life: he has been previously married, a fact concealed even by his own family members. He has not yet divorced his first wife. When I confront him, he attempts to explain everything scientifically and then comes right back at me. There is more name-calling, hair-pulling, badmouthing, blackmailing. He begins to beat me. He brands me a bitch. I will skin you alive, he says, and then call your father to come and get you. I am numb, too traumatised to react. That night, I am thrown out, like trash. I leave home with a handbag and a bad-girl tag. I plead with the paramilitary personnel at the airport to let me sleep there, they ask me a thousand questions but allow me to stay. One of them buys me dinner. I fly back to Chennai the next morning. I have no words to tell my parents. They ask no questions. My mother hugs me with the air of a woman who will never let me go. My sister is angry why I ever left her.

Weeks later, I consult lawyers. They tell me that my marriage is not valid, that seeking a divorce is a pointless exercise. As an act of mercy, even the law has set me free. When I press for his punishment, the police speak of jurisdictional issues. You lived elsewhere, they say. Lady justice does not serve displaced women.

It is more than a month since I moved back to my parents’ place. I talk to my well-wishers. I wear my sister’s clothes. I weep, alone, at night. I look back at those four months of my life and realise that what I had lived through was not “my life” at all, but something that someone else had charted for me. Wedded to a wife-beater, I never believed that I would live to tell my tale. I console myself that now I have first-hand experience of brutality: a story of struggle and survival that I can share on unfair days. Such empty consolations soothe violated bodies. I join a lucky league of battered women who find comfort in the safe zone of family, solace in the warmth of friends and flirtatious strangers who nurse my wounds with words. Can I overcome this nightmare of a marriage? I don’t have straight answers. I have learnt my lessons. I know that I am single and safe now. With sad-woman eyes and soulful smiles, I strive to find the courage to face this world. Perhaps, along the way, poetry will help me leave the pain behind.

( The first person account appears in magazine ‘ outlook “