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August 2, 2015

Thanks to Kalyani Menon-Sen!


Porcupine Jacket – free hugs to molesters


Bagzilla – portable monster assist


Intergalactic Pest Control

Who gets caught – From death row convicts to ‘criminals by birth’: Anuja Agrawal

August 1, 2015

Guest Post by Anuja Agrawal

The recent reports regarding the findings of the Death Penalty Project of the National Law University, Delhi, confirm some of the worst fears we have about our criminal justice system: the system is exceedingly tilted against the interests of the poor, disadvantaged and the marginal while the rich and the advantaged often get away, literally, with murder. The results are very important as such systematic studies help in confirming what are often vague impressions and unconfirmed suspicions.

While this study focuses only on the convicts on death row, what we urgently need is data which give us a caste and community wise breakup of the incarcerated population as a whole. While some may think that this would be useful in establishing the ‘criminality’ of some social groups, in fact this data, when juxtaposed with degrees of conviction, will help in establishing not only the conditions in which people take to criminal activities but also how our system is systematically biased towards particular groups.

Read more…

Response to ‘Open letter by a Cop’ on Yakub Memon: Ishani Cordeiro

August 1, 2015


A reply to ‘An Open Letter By A Cop To Those Opposing Death Penalty To Yakub Memon’ by ‘ A Thulla’.

Dear ‘Thulla’

Let me begin by stating, for the record, that a lot of people who have raised their voice against death penalty (and not just Yakub Memon’s) are not necessarily sitting in ‘plush AC offices’ or writing ‘editorials seeking clemency for a murderer’ or visiting TV studios and shouting themselves hoarse. A lot of them are activists and lawyers and the aam aadmi – working on the ground. Having said that, let’s not disregard the voices of the public based merely on where they decide to park their backside! Also, I would like to bring to your notice that terms like human rights, due process and fake encounter are not ‘ramifications’ of pulling a trigger per se. The term ‘ramification’ implies an unwelcome consequence of an action. Human rights and due process are pillars of a democracy and fake encounters are constitutional infringements. The fact that ‘terrorists’ don’t consider these of much value but you have to consider these burdensome terms before taking any action also implies that the law (read constitution) considers you to be ‘reasonable person’ and not the ‘terrorist’. Read more…

Rapping Some Sense into Unilever for Mercury Pollution

August 1, 2015
Sent to Kafila by Nityanand Jayaraman
Hitting where it hurts Unilever most, a new music video that is turning many eyes uses rap to expose Unilever’s crimes in the South Indian hill town of Kodaikanal. Sofia Ashraf, a Chennai-born rapper, wrote the lyrics and sang the song which was set to video by Chennai-based filmmaker Rathindran R. Prasad. 
Set to Nicki Minaj’s racy song “Anaconda,” this song asks Unilever to clean up the toxic contamination in Kodaikanal and compensate mercury-affected workers. Unilever operated a mercury thermometer factory in Kodaikanal for 18 years, and was shut down in 2001 after it was caught having dumped broken thermometer waste in a scrapyard in a crowded part of the town. Now, 15 years later, Unilever has neither cleaned up the contamination nor compensated workers.

The video is being used to promote a petition targeting the Anglodutch MNC’s CEO Mr. Paul Polman. Unilever spends more than $8 billion marketing itself as an ethical, transparent, caring and environmentally responsible company. However, for more than a decade, it has failed to walk its talk in Kodaikanal. Its CEO talks exhorts other corporate leaders to be responsible and compassionate, and is a great proponent of a concept called “Inclusive Capitalism.” Kodaikanal is proof of how Unilever is no different from Union Carbide.

The Egg Debate – Missing the Bean in the Room? Dr Arun R, Ashraf Mohammed and Sejal Parikh

July 31, 2015


The Madhya Pradesh government’s recent decision to continue avoiding eggs in children’s mid-day meal schemes sparked off heated debates in newspapers, social media and the television. There are several facets to the inclusion of eggs in mid-day meal schemes. This article examines those, and sheds light on facts and perspectives ignored by most parties involved in these debates.

Opponents of the government decision have rightly pointed out the resistance to certain food options for the midday meals scheme in schools is largely due to caste oppression and class privilege. In India, diet has indeed been used, historically and now, as a tool in oppressing dis-privileged caste and minority-religion groups. These groups comprise a huge chunk of India’s impoverished people who must get all the government support possible for meeting their dietary and other needs. Interestingly, governments which oppose eggs on the basis that they are not vegetarian do not have any problem with dairy, when dairy also involves the killing of spent cows and male calves (apart from the forced impregnation of cows every year). While we must acknowledge and oppose these forms of bigotry steadfastly, the way we do it should be such that we don’t uphold one good cause at the expense of another. Read more…

All That Remains for Us to Consider in the Wake of the Death of Yakub Memon

July 31, 2015

Yakub Menon was murdered yesterday morning. Apparently it was his birthday. When his brother Suleman and his cousin Usman met him on Wednesday afternoon his words to them, as reported in today’s Indian Express, were – “Agar woh mujhey mere bhai ke gunahon ke liye sazaa de rahe hain, toh mujhe kabool hai. Par agar unko lagta hai ki mein gunehgaar hoon aur sazaa de rahe hain, toh yeh galat hai. Main bekasoor hoon.” (If they are punishing me for the sins of my brother, then I accept this verdict. But if they are punishing me because they think I am guilty, then it is wrong. I am innocent.)

Read more…

Tough Girls in a Rough Game: Normalizing public discussion of ‘She things’ in Bangladesh — Nazia Hussein

July 30, 2015

Guest post by NAZIA HUSSEIN

On 28- 29 May, 2015 the play titled It’s a She Thing was first staged in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Inspired by Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, eleven young Bangladeshi women decided to develop a local adaptation with their own accounts of sexual, aesthetic, psychological and emotional experiences of being a woman. Many of the stories were written by the performers themselves while some were taken from Naripokkho, a nationwide women’s advocacy organization. Read more…


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