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There is hatred in the air yet again: Preeti Chauhan

November 13, 2014

Guest Post by PREETI CHAUHAN on the recent communal tension in Noor e Illahi area of Delhi.

It was around 9 pm on Tuesday, November 11th, I was heading to my parents’ home to go with my sister for an interview the next morning, when my cellphone rang, my sister was asking me frantically where I was. I replied a bit anxiously but with irritation, ‘Kya hai? Pahunch jaaungi thodi der mein’. She said don’t come, turn back. I asked why, ‘yahan dange hone waale hain, saari dukaanein band ho rahin hain’, my sister replied. In those two-three seconds my heart skipped many beats, a strange fear about the safety of my family gripped me. I could for the first time feel what it is to live in fear of communal riots. I called up my close relatives who were out of home to ask where they are. There was such an uncertainty as to how will my sister go for the interview tomorrow? Would I be able to reach home tomorrow morning? Would my vehicle be attacked if I decide to go home now?

In those three- four minutes the world seemed to have taken a terrifying turn for me. Mundane, everyday things, everyday routes suddenly turned hostile and suspicious. I could feel the agony and fear so very close. Then there was a sudden burst of anger that I felt against the communal forces that are so hell bent on creating communal trouble everywhere in Delhi. I had not read the newspaper the whole day yesterday and hadn’t watched TV but just before I was leaving home my spouse told me that my native place is in the news and it was then that I had read about the communal tension and curfew in Noore-illahi. It’s the area, the vicinity of my childhood, adolescence and my adulthood too. It’s the area of the weekly bazaar for us, the Eid bazaar as well from which we had returned at 1 am at times. Noor Chicken is where Noor Jahan furniture once stood if I remember correctly; it belonged to the family of one of my classmates in school. I hear today that Noor Chicken’s owner and his son was badly beaten and the son is rumored to have succumbed to injuries. I shudder to think if he is my primary school classmate Shahnawaaz… Read more…

Crime and Consent: Vrinda Grover

November 13, 2014

VRINDA GROVER analyses the recent Delhi High Court judgement on the rape and consequent death of a 65 year old woman, acquitting the accused because the woman was ‘menopausal’ and making a curious distinction between ‘forceful’  and ‘forcible’ intercourse.

In a recent judgment in Achey Lal vs State Govt of NCT Delhi, the Delhi High Court on October 30 set aside the conviction of the appellant for rape and murder. What has provoked discussion are the observations, inferences and conclusions of the court. Briefly, the facts as reported in the judgment are: on December 31 2010, a house maid, aged about 65-70 years, was found dead, with her clothes disheveled to expose her body. The accused, Achey Lal, 45 years old, was present in the room in an intoxicated condition. The husband of the deceased deposed that the accused had come at 8 am that day to his house with a quarter bottle of alcohol and when it finished, the husband left, while the accused stayed on with his deceased wife. The cause of death, according to the doctor who conducted the post mortem, “was asphyxia due to aspiration of gastric contents consequent upon forceful sexual intercourse, which was sufficient to cause death in the ordinary course of nature”.

Read the rest of the article in The Indian Express.

Statement On Sterilsation deaths in Chattisgarh by Public Health groups

November 13, 2014
The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Sama Resource Group for Women and Health, Commonhealth and National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights are shocked at the death of 11 women and the critical condition of 50 other women due to the callous negligence of the Health Department, Government of Chhattisgarh. The deaths and morbidities are a result of a botched-up sterilization operation camp organized by a private hospital under the National Family Planning Programme in Takhatpur Block of Bilaspur District on 8 November 2014. Horrifically, during this camp, 83 women were subject to surgeries in a short span of 5 to 6 hours. Amongst those who have died are Dalits, tribals and Other Backward Classes, leaving behind shattered families and young children. This has resulted in gross violation of the reproductive and health rights of the women.

This tragedy raises grave questions about the unsafe, unhygienic conditions and the slipshod attitude under which these operations were conducted. Moreover, the women who are presently critical continue to get treatment in dismal conditions exposing them to further risks and danger.The surgeries were conducted in complete violation of the Supreme Court orders (Ramakant Rai Vs Govt. of India, 2005 and Devika Biswas Vs Govt. of India, 2012). These orders instruct that a maximum of 30 operations can be conducted in a day with 2 separate laparoscopes only in government facilities. Also, one doctor cannot do more than 10 sterilizations in one day.  Despite this, the surgeon in Chhattisgarh performed about three times the permissible number of surgeries (83) in less than 6 hours in a private hospital which has reportedly remained closed for 15 years. This is evidence of how these operations were not done under standard protocols.

Read more…

From a Professor to a Showman: Kishen Pattnayak on Prannoy Roy

November 12, 2014

Translated from the original Hindi by Akhil Katyal

Kishen Pattnayak (1930-2004) was a socialist thinker and writer. He had been a member of the Indian parliament from Orissa. Pattanayak was the founding editor of a Hindi monthly periodical called ‘Samayik Varta’. In this Hindi essay ‘Professor Se Tamashgeer’ published in March, 1994, he understands Prannoy Roy as representative of a new class of intellectuals which came into being precisely with the changing economic policies of the Indian government in the early ’90s.

Those who do not know English in this country might not know Prannoy Roy. But knowing him is important because Prannoy Roy represents a new social phenomenon. Prannoy Roy’s fame has been sealed by the program “The World This Week” running every Friday on Doordarshan. Not unlike a magician putting on a show, it has lately become quite an art for Doordarshan to concentrate the attentions of the TV viewers and keep them spellbound with only select news and statements on the channel. Pritish Nandy’s show and Prannoy Roy’s weekly program etc. are prime examples of this art.

Among the country’s intellectuals, such folks must surely be rare, who apart from being immensely intelligent, can also put on a circus-show in the middle of a street. Television professionals are always on a hunt for such gifted intellectuals. Through them, the TV business gets some intellectual prestige, making it reputable to carry on showing several dreadful and obscene things. Read more…

Images from Kiss of Love Gathering in Delhi: Ishan Tankha

November 12, 2014

Guest Post by ISHAN TANKHA

Every time my girlfriend puts her arms around me while we are out  on our terrace i end up first doing a quick scan of the windows that look down at us to see if we are visible to anyone, it’s almost  an instinctive reaction. Mind you, one that doesn’t win me much affection from her ,understandably! It’s not that I care but I do notice them looking, and it’s always disapproving. Unfortunately, It’s not just my neighbours.

After the ‘Kiss of Love ‘ protests in Kochi and Kolkota it was Delhi’s turn and the few hundred who turned up to stand up for their right to not be morally policed did a fantastic job countering the right wing hooligans, for whom showing love or affection to one of our choosing is ‘immoral’.  The police spent it’s time not allowing the peaceful protesters from marching to the RSS headquarters, their intended destination, pushing and shoving them.  While pleading with, instead of arresting those who threatened and abused with impunity.

It’s not over of course, if it’s not a skirt wearing girl being stopped from entering a building or a cafe being trashed, there will be another reason to collect and be heard.
Maybe tomorrow we’ll give my neighbours a matinee to gawk at.Meanwhile, here are some pictures I took at the Kiss of Love gathering in Jhandewalan, Delhi.

Read more…

Whither Social Movements? Exploring the Problematic and Action Strategy: Soumitra Ghosh

November 12, 2014

Guest post by SOUMITRA GHOSH

The context

One of the biggest and most visible problems plaguing the anti-capitalist social movements of today is the statist framework which conditions, shapes and governs their thoughts and actions. Thus the political praxis which should ideally be moored in a post-capitalist (hence post-state) vision of society, is seldom reached, and the movements are stuck in the morass of extremely limited actions informed by their purely normative and emotive thoughts about how the present society should function. The war-cry of justice is aired, millions take to the street demanding it, yet this ‘justice’ is rarely explained in terms of the real and the grounded. It is taken for granted that the state will be transformed from its overtly pro-capital avatar to a more radical one by this means or another because the movements want it to change: what is forgotten is that history has seen hundreds of experiments with such ‘changed’ states—each one of which failed in the long run, and led to a more coercive rule of capital.

Also, today’s social movements are non-violent and democratic, which in reality means that they prefer working within the framework of parliamentary democracy, and where that is absent, fight for it. Once again, the history of the institution of parliamentary democracy is forgotten: willy-nilly, it’s ignored that historically—more so going by today’s neo-liberal situation—such democracy is intrinsically linked with capitalist production systems and the hegemony of capital in both our societies and polities. Read more…

B Hridayakumari in My Garden: A Loving Memory

November 11, 2014

I cannot write the standard obituary. The obituary is expected to hold back grief in sedate, decorous ways, remember the departed person’s best qualities with quiet dignity, and forgive her less admirable aspects gracefully. When I try to write an obituary, I usually trip over my own grief and the terrible ache that the memories of the deceased one’s physical presence produce — the turn of the head, the peculiar contortion of lips forming a smile, the wave of a hand.(I cannot write obits for people I don’t feel for). To get away from that, I quickly turn to the personality, and here I find myself mired, completely unable to separate neatly those qualities that drew my admiration and those which I hated and hurt me. Far from sounding dignified, the obituary ends up structured quite like intensely physical mourning, only that it will be composed in words.

Read more…

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