People should oppose FDI in retail: Mahasweta Devi #mustshare


 

Kolkata, May 21 — Supporting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s decision to withdraw from the UPA last September on the issue of FDI in retail, eminent writer Mahasweta Devi Tuesday exhorted people from all walks of life to protest against the measure.

“Of course, I support our chief minister’s decision to withdraw from the centre on FDI. I think everybody should protest against it. People from all walks of life should contribute in their own way in standing up against it,” Mahasweta Devi said while launching a book “FDI-Gobhir Shorjontror Shikar Aamra” (FDI-We are a target of conspiracy).

The 89-year-old Jnanpith awardee suggested tapping into indigenous resources for India‘s growth and development.

“We have sufficient resources. If we use them properly then India can walk on a path of progress and development,” she said.

Mahasweta Devi said she was “somewhat satisfied” with the state government’s stance on introduction of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.

Commending the Trinamool Congress for “trying” to bring about changes during its two years in power, she said it is too early to comment on its impact.

“It’s too early to comment. It has just completed two years. It hasn’t done too good or anything worth praising nor it has done anything bad worth criticising.

“It’s trying… let’s just say that,” she added.

Trinamool Congress Monday completed two years in power in West Bengal.

 

nydailynews.com

 

An open letter: Adivasis need speedy and impartial justice


 

May 6, 2013, TNN

To the Government of India, Members of the Judiciary, and All Citizens,

One of the most disastrous consequences of the strife in the tribal areas of central India is that thousands of adivasi men and women remain imprisoned as under-trials, often many years after being arrested, accused of ‘Naxalite/ Maoist’ offences.

The facts speak for themselves.

In Chhattisgarh, over two thousand adivasis are currently in jail, charged with ‘Naxalite/Maoist’ offences. Many have been imprisoned for over two years without trial. In Jharkhand, an even larger number of adivasis, possibly in excess of five thousand, remain imprisoned as under-trials. The situation is similar in many other states of central and eastern India currently affected by armed conflict between the government and adivasi-linked militant movements, namely Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal. The adivasi undertrial population may run into thousands in each of the states. Assessing the true scale of the problem is inherently difficult, given that none of the police or jail administrations are making comprehensive figures public, even after RTI requests have been filed by concerned citizens. This opacity adds to the injustice.

In each of these states, the adivasi under-trials, and particularly those arrested under special security statutes, face grave common handicaps that obstruct their Constitutional right to a fair, speedy trial, to justice.

One, language barriers. The vast majority of adivasi under-trials speak only adivasi languages, such as Gondi and Halbi. However, few if any courts have official interpreters/translators. This leaves the adivasis unable to communicate directly with the Officers of the Court or otherwise effectively make their case.

Two, the failure, in case after case, for evidentiary material, such as captured arms or explosives, to be promptly submitted in court by the security forces when they first produce the detainees before the Magistrate, as the Magistrate can statutorily direct the security forces to do when they level such serious charges. In the absence of prima facie proof, the grave risk of injustice being done to innocent adivasis is self-evident.

Three, procedural barriers relating to ‘Naxalite/Maoist’ and other security offences. Being charged with such offences, the under-trials are not produced in the courts for lengthy periods. Owing to this, the trial does not proceed for years together.

Four, other procedural barriers. Since under-trials charged with ‘Naxalite/Maoist’ offences are only held in Central Jails, many of them of them are transferred to jails at a great distance from their homes and families. In Chhattisgarh, for instance, nearly one hundred adivasi under-trials from Bastar have been transferred to Durg or Raipur Central Jails, a distance of over 300 kilometers. The great distance, coupled with the poverty of most adivasis, means that families are unable to regularly visit them or provide them with vital emotional support.

Five, the lack of proper legal defence. Lawyers who visit ‘Naxal/Maoist’ under-trials in Chhattisgarh are photographed by the authorities and their information listed in a separate register, making lawyers reluctant to visit their clients. In any event, many of the adivasi under-trials are dependent on legal-aid lawyers who rarely go to meet the client or seek instructions regarding the case. Often lawyers are careless in their conduct of cases and are amenable to pressures from the police or prosecution.

In addition to the humanitarian imperative, the prolonged failure to provide speedy and impartial justice to these thousands of adivasi under-trials is damaging the prospects for peace in India’s heartland – by leading adivasis to feel that the Indian government does not treat them as full citizens and by intensifying their generalised sense of alienation. It is telling that in the widely publicised “Collector abduction” incidents of Chhattisgarh and Odisha, one of the major demands raised by the insurgents was speedy and fair trial for these thousands of jailed adivasis, accused of being Naxalites/Maoists. Yet, virtually none of the efforts belatedly agreed to by the state governments – such as the ‘High-powered Committee for review of the cases of Adivasiundertrials in Chhattisgarh’, set up in mid-2012 under the aegis of Nirmala Buch, the former top IAS officer – have come to fruition or been acted on to any degree by the concerned governments.

More than anything else, the failure to ensure justice for the adivasis is a grave blot on India’s human rights record. Not only are we as a nation committed to democracy and human rights, but our Constitution provides extensive safeguards and rights to the adivasis that are being violated by not ensuring fair and speedy trials for these thousands of adivasi under-trials.

On every count – whether humanitarian or strategic – it is imperative that this prolonged failure to assure our country’s adivasis of speedy, impartial justice be set right immediately.

Justice is in everyone’s interest.

Hence, we the undersigned, a large group of concerned Indians – including adivasi leaders, jurists and lawyers, and public intellectuals – urge the Union Government, the concerned State Governments, and the Supreme Court to undertake to appoint a special Commission of eminent jurists to oversee dedicated fast-track courts that hear these cases speedily and impartially.

Sincerely,

VR Krishna IyerMahasweta DeviSwami AgniveshNandita Das, Nitin Desai, GN Devy, Jean Dreze, Gladson Dungdung, Anand Grover, Ramachandra GuhaGirish Karnad, Manish Kunjam, Harsh Mander, Vinod Mehta, Arvind Netam, Rajinder Sachar, BD Sharma, Nandini Sundar, Father Stan Swamy, Tarun Tejpal, Mukti Prakash Tirkey.

 

 

Right to dream should be fundamental right: Mahasweta Devi #JLF


Published: Friday, Jan 25, 2013, 9:00 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Jaipur | Agency: DNA

“ ‘O to Live Again!’ – at my age, this desire is almost a mischievous one; look at all the damage I’ve done being around longer than I should have!” These opening words of author and social activist Mahasweta Devi, in her keynote address, at the Jaipur Literature Festival had the audience completely charmed throughout her speech.

Taking up the cause of Naxalites, Mahasweta Devi said: “All my life I have seen small people with small dreams. It looked like they wanted to put them all in a box and keep them locked up…but somewhere, some of them escaped, as if there has been a jailbreak of dreams. Like the Naxalites. Their crime is they dared to dream. And why shouldn’t they?”Addressing the gathering during the inaugural session of the Jaipur Literature Festival, she said: “The right to dream should be the first fundamental right of people.”Mahasweta Devi scorned at “the middle class morality where everything is suppressed”.

Going around the circle of life, of youth, of motherhood, and as a writer, she said “sometimes, I feel like an old house privy to simultaneous conversations of its inhabitants,” as she spoke of all the characters she had met and written about coming alive and haunting her.Giving the audience glimpses of what she hopes to write next, she shared her ‘recipe’ to stop gobalisation. “Just a small plot of land, covered with grass. Grow a single tree on it, let your child’s bicycle rest on it, let some poor kid play there, let a bird sit on it. Small dreams….after all, you save your small dreams, don’t you?” she paused, leaving the rapturous audience with this moving thought.

Later in the day, Tibetan Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, addressing a jam-packed session, invoked the age-old catch phrase ‘Hindi-Chini bhai bhai’.When questioned about the tension between India and China with regard to Tibet, he said that good relations between the two nations are essential. “The saying — ‘Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai, is unfortunately not implemented,” he rued and said that he strongly advocates democracy.
“We must not be taken for granted,” the Dalai Lama said and added, “The 21st century should be the century of dialogue. This is the only way forward.”A fulfilling romance at JLF
Jaipur: “Write in the language that comes most naturally to you…write in the language in which you dream.” That’s the advice Mahasweta Devi – arguably, one of the most iconic writer-activists of our times – had to give to a young school-girl who wanted to know which language she should choose to begin her literary career with.A little while later, Fahmida Riaz — celebrated Pakistani writer-poet and feminist — informed the Bengali writer (to her surprise) that her books had been translated into Urdu and were

Mahasweta Devi —Joshy Joseph

 

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