Mon21Apr2014

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Politics of Biodiversity /Ashish Kothari

Ashish Kothari is a founder-member of Kalpavriksh, a 30-year-old environmental research and action group. He has been a member of people's movements against destructive development projects including the Narmada dams. He co-ordinated the Technical and Policy Core Group to formulate India's National Bio-diversity Strategy and Action Plan. He has been a member of several government committees including the Expert Group on the Biodiversity Act, the committee to revise the National Wildlife Action Plan, the Environmental Appraisal Committee for River Valley Projects, etc. He co-chairs the IUCN inter-commission Strategic Direction on Governance, Equity, Livelihoods and Protected Areas (TILCEPA)and is currently chair of the board of Greenpeace India.

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Small World /Swarna Rajagopalan

Swarna Rajagopalan is a political scientist, currently Chennai-based, and working as an independent researcher and writer. Human security, governance and gender issues form the core of her research interests, and she has published several academic and non-academic works. She is also the founder of The Prajnya Trust. You can follow her on Twitter @swarraj.

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Third Wave /Manjima Bhattacharjya

Manjima Bhattacharjya has a PhD in sociology and has been active in the Indian women's movement for over ten years. She has worked with the feminist resource centre Jagori, and with the international secretariat of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in Geneva. Her areas of interest include gender, globalisation, work, feminism and other social movements, sexuality, trafficking and migration. She has written for an eclectic mix of publications, from The Times of India to ELLE and Seminar, on an equally eclectic range of issues.

She is from the younger generation of feminists in India who have tried to build on the struggles of earlier generations using new ways of networking and campaigning. Her column 'Third Wave' for Infochange refers to the third wave of feminism, which is where she locates herself. The third wave essentially covers perspectives from those marginalised from previous 'waves' of feminism -- women of colour, women from the South, young women. As a term it also represents how feminist struggles manifest themselves in today's times when we are enjoying many of the benefits of second wave feminism. 'Third Wave' provides the perspective of a young feminist from the global South.

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Rethinking development /Aseem Shrivastava

Aseem Shrivastava wrote his doctoral thesis on Environmental Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has taught economics for many years at college and university level in India and the US. Most recently, he taught philosophy at Nordic College, Norway. He now works as an independent writer, focusing on issues emanating from globalisation, including specifically on Special Economic Zones. His articles have appeared in The Hindu, Outlook, Economic and Political Weekly, Seminar, and Himal.

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Urban India /Kalpana Sharma

Kalpana Sharmais an independent journalist, columnist and media consultant based in Mumbai. She writes a fortnightly column in The Hindu titled The Other Half. She writes for several other Indian publications as well. Until 2007, Kalpana was Deputy Editor and Chief of Bureau of The Hindu in Mumbai. In over three decades as a full-time journalist, she has held senior positions at Himmat Weekly, Indian Express and The Times of India. Her special areas of interest are environmental and developmental issues and gender. In 1982 she worked with Anil Agarwal of the Centre for Science and Environment to edit the first Citizens' Report on the State of the Environment. During her years at The Hindu, she was responsible for the annual Survey of the Environment published by The Hindu, a collection of articles on contemporary environmental issues that appeared in the form of a separate priced publication. Kalpana has also followed and commented on urban issues, especially in the context of Mumbai's development. She is the author of Rediscovering Dharavi: Stories from Asia's Largest Slum (Penguin 2000). Her other books, which she has co-edited with Ammu Joseph, are Whose News? The Media and Women's Issues (Sage, 1994 and 2006) and Terror Counter-Terror: Women Speak Out (Kali for Women, 2003).

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Eco-logic /Darryl D'Monte

Darryl D'Monte is the former Resident Editor of The Times of India & Indian Express in Mumbai. He is author of Ripping the Fabric: The Decline of Mumbai & its Mills (2002) and chairs the Forum of Environmental Journalists of India. He is the founder President of the International Federation of Environmental Journalists.

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Sidelines /Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Mari Marcel Thekaekara has been an active media campaigner on the rights of adivasis, dalits and disadvantaged groups, which is the focus of this Infochange column. An independent writer, Mari has focussed on social issues in magazines and newspapers which include The Hindu, Statesman, Times of India, Indian Express, Frontline, Economic and Political Weekly, Hindustan Times, Seminar, Infochange, New Internationalist and The Guardian.

Mari's book Endless Filth published in 1999, on balmikis, the caste condemned to cleaning filthy toilets all over the country, has triggered a huge campaign within India to abolish manual scavenging work.

She was part of an independent women's commission to document the atrocities against Muslim women during the 2002 Gujarat riots.

She is a co-founder of ACCORD -- started in 1986 to work for the rights of adivasis of the Gudalur Valley, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu -- and Just Change, an international cooperative linking producers and consumers in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Orissa, UK and Germany.

Mari was a fellow at the Advocacy Institute, Washington, and a founding member of the National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune, which has grown to become India's leading advocacy institute. She is currently its Vice President.

She is a visiting fellow at the Skoll Centre for social entrepreneurship, at the Said Business School, Oxford University, and a member of the steering committee of the Planning Commission of India for women and child development to draft the 11th Five Year Plan.

In 2005, she edited an issue on caste for the New Internationalist which was shortlisted for the Amnesty award. This was taken to British Parliament by MP Jeremy Corbyn and used as an advocacy tool for dalit rights.

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Worldview /John Samuel

John Samuel has been a human rights activist, policy researcher, writer, institution-builder and development manager for more than 20 years. He has been working with social movements, human rights and advocacy organisations and development organisations at the grassroots, national and international levels. He has initiated and promoted national and international campaigns for human rights, accountable governance and social justice, including the Rights to Information in India and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. He was formerly the Executive Director of the National Centre for Adovocacy Studies. He has helped to establish more than ten organisations and networks at the national and international level, including the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, Social Watch India, Asia Media Forum and CCDS. He is currently the International Director of Actionaid, based in Bangkok.

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Healthcare markets and you /Sandhya Srinivasan

Sandhya Srinivasan is an independent journalist, based in Mumbai, with master's degrees in sociology and public health. In her 24 years as a journalist, she has written extensively in academic publications and in the press on current issues in healthcare and medical ethics in India, covering subjects such as the quality of health services, the medical industry, the ethics of outsourced clinical research, and concerns emerging from assisted reproductive technologies and the business of surrogacy. She is Executive Editor of the Indian Journal of Medical Ethics and a consulting editor on public health for www.infochangeindia.org. A collection of papers edited by her, Making Babies: Birth Markets and Assisted Reproductive Technologies in India, with Sama-Resource Centre for Women and Health, was published by Zubaan in 2010.

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Rights and Resistance /Oishik Sircar

Oishik Sircar is a lawyer, independent researcher, academic and documentary filmmaker. He has worked as an activist-researcher with Amnesty International, South Asia Documentation Centre and Calcutta Research Group, and has taught and lectured at the Jindal Global Law School, National University of Juridical Sciences, Women's Studies Centre, Pune University, Lady Sri Ram College, Delhi University, SNDT Women's University and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. He has developed and conducted human rights training modules and programmes for young people, social workers, lawyers and junior judges. He writes extensively on issues of human rights law, queer politics, sex work, social movements and migration for both academic and journalistic publications. He has been associated with the Centre for Communication and Development Studies for several years, and was also the founder of the Open Space Young Human Rights Defenders Programme. He is closely associated with the sex workers' movement in Kolkata, and has co-directed two documentary films.

As an upper-caste, elite, married man and a queer feminist, he is continuously fighting the beasts of hetero-patriarchy in and around him, and negotiating / resisting capitalism and liberalism's cruel seductions (not always successfully!).

His column 'Rights and Resistance' will delve into cultural, literary, cinematic, photographic and artistic archives that capture alternative articulations of human rights and collective resistance to structures of domination.

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