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Human Rights

Backgrounders

Human Rights : Background & Perspective

By John Samuel

As important as civil and political rights in the Indian context are the rights of the marginalised -- women, tribals, Dalits or lower-castes, and the poor whose survival depends on access to natural resources. It is the rights of the marginalised and of the minorities in the country today that are in peril. The challenge is to empower the poor and marginalised to demand their rights and participate in the public sphere
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Analysis

'Letter to death penalty lovers on Facebook'

By Debolina Dutta

Rape Death penaltyThe death penalty for some of those who raped and killed Jyoti Singh Pandey may bring a sense of satisfaction to some. But let’s not fool ourselves by calling it justice. It’s more like revenge, says Debolina Dutta

FB walls have always been a quick and easy source of knowledge, news and views from around the world. On politics, tan removal, cinema, social issues, how to have a fulfilling love life, how to lose belly fat in three days, home remedies for gas and constipation, and how to tackle violence against women in 10 steps, to name a few. Now, FB walls serve another purpose.
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Related Articles

»Patriarchal underpinnings of caste violence By Subhash Gatade
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»Triple oppression of dalit women panchayat members By Subhash Gatade
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»Impunity under AFSPA By KS Subramnian
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Features

Exile, through the lens

By Kavita

Dharamsala International Film Festival

Most of the films screened at the Tibetan Film Festival and the Dharamsala International Film Festival had a strong political theme, reflecting the trauma of a people fenced in and outnumbered at ‘home’, silenced in exile

It’s the last week of October, a busy week for Dharamsala, a small town unlike any other in the Himalayan foothills.

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Related Articles

»The long shadow of dalit massacres By Subhash Gatade
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»February 27, Ahmedabad: The remains of the day ByMari Marcel Thekaekara
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»No reconciliation without remorse By Mari Marcel Thekaekara
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Books & Reports

Good governance + mass mobilisation = Social inclusion

By Subhash Gatade

, India Human Development Report 2011Why is the health, education and nutritional status of SCs, STs and minorities in Tamil Nadu and Kerala so much better than their counterparts in states like UP and Bihar? The India Human Development Report 2011 suggests that this is the result of good governance and massive mobilisation of the lower castes in the southern states, writes Subhash Gatade

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Related Articles

»Dalits: Such a long journey By Kalyani Chaudhuri
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»Ideas of justice By Lawrence Liang
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»Indian police: A law unto themselves By K S Subramanian
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Changemakers

Socialism after Gore and the old guard

By Rajni Bakshi

Mrinal Gore socialist and women’s rights leader

There is no dearth of citizens’ movements for rights today. But do they have the ideological frame, the vision of society, economy and politics that Mrinal Gore and her generation of socialist leaders had, which could weave disparate struggles into a larger transformative force, asks Rajni Bakshi

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Related Articles

»Queer beauty By Abhijit Kondhalkar
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»In Vinoba's footsteps: Tribute to Eli Gadkar By Jyoti Punwani
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»"Being Indian, you have no right to be cynical" By Anosh Malekar
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No Man's Land

'Civilising the uncivilised'

By Geetashree

Around 40% of the children evacuated by the Salwa Judum to camps in Chhattisgarh are not in school. Some of them are being “adopted” by ashrams like the Chhattisgarh Jana Kalyan Sangh which aims to “civilise the uncivilised tribal children”. Eleven-year-old Naampodium Lacchu is now called Akash, and is well on the way to losing his tribal identity

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Related Articles

»'What wrong have we done?' By Geetashree
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»Fire in the forest By Geetashree
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»Inside the camps: "We have been left to die here" By Geetashree
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The Body Politic

Understanding India's pub-going, loose and forward women

By Padma Govindan

The Pink Chaddi and Pub Bharo campaigns that followed the attacks on women in a Mangalore pub should be seen not just in terms of the right of women to access public spaces, but as a negotiation with what it means to be middle class, Indian, women, and consumers in a global modernity, says Padma Govindan

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Related Articles

»Interrogating aravani activism in Tamil Nadu By Padma Govindan
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»Waiting in line: Queer women and the case against 377 By Padma Govindan
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Stories of Change

Under an equal sky

By Manjira Majumdar

Presidency Correctional Home

Classical dancer Alokananda Roy’s dance project for prisoners serving life sentences in West Bengal’s correctional institutions helps build self-esteem and gives the prisoners hope and purpose


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Related Articles

»Ashvasan: The night is not here yet  By Charumathi Supraja
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»Playing for peace
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»Sanganer's no-bars prison gives criminals a new lease of life
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News

Children burn guns for peace in Manipur

Children burn toy guns in Thoubal district of Manipur in a protest against the violent culture imposed on them by more than 40 years of insurgency and suppression

With daily reports of violence in the troubled state of Manipur, parents, civil bodies, and like-minded organisations staged a demonstration in Thoubal district against the gun culture in the state and human rights violations.

In a symbolic protest, around 100 children, aged 6-7, brought their toy guns to Tangjen Ningthou school and set them ablaze with parents and local residents joining in.

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Related Articles

»SC holds administration accountable for caste atrocities
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»Supreme Court gives Binayak Sen bail, questions sedition charge
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»Amnesty calls on Indian govt to repeal draconian Kashmir law
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Rights and Resistance

Coffee shops, cricket and a pogrom

By Oishik Sircar

Kai Po Che (KPC)

Kai Po Che cleverly supports the idea of the Indian nation as one that is secular in appearance, neoliberal in conduct and Hindu at the core, says Oishik Sircar

Paisa wasool and relaxed redemption

Much has been written about the recent Hindi feature film Kai Po Che (KPC). The 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in Gujarat is not central to the film's story, yet it has become what the film has been most noticed for.
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Related Articles

»How do we remember Gujarat 2002? By Oishik Sircar
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»Why the to-do over this particular rape? By Oishik Sircar
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»Homonationalism: Queer tales of queer prides
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Struggle for Human Dignity

Dirt and the Delhi Jal Board

By Agrima Bhasin

Delhi’s dalit sewerage workers labour in the city’s sewers without bodysuits, oxygen cylinders and other protective gear

‘Dirt’, British anthropologist Mary Douglas famously explained, is ‘matter out of place’. Dirt, on its own, does not mean impurity, contamination or pollutants. Dirt is what we, as a society, designate as ‘unclean’, thereby giving birth to a social order and its boundaries. Outside the boundary is ‘dirt’ or ‘dirty’, marking the purity of what lies within the boundary.

Related Articles

»A bill rooted in apology is the way forward By Agrima Bhasin
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»A death foretold By Agrima Bhasin
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»The Railways in denial By Agrima Bhasin
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Crackdown on cultural activism

The subversive power of culture

By Aritra Bhattacharya

Dalit Panther

A chronicle of the Republican Panther, a cultural organisation committed to anti-caste struggle in Maharashtra, dogged by a state that brands dissenting dalits Maoists and dissenting Muslims terrorists

Thirty-five years is a long time for memories to fade – but not if the connection between the past and the present is organic. That is perhaps what explains the intensity in Sharad Gaikwad’s eyes as he narrates how he was propelled into cultural activism.

Related Articles

»Breadth of a balladeer By Aritra Bhattacharya
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»Jung ki pukar: Avahan’s cultural revolution By Aritra Bhattacharya
Read More

»Decline and fall By Aritra Bhattacharya
Read More

 

Human Rights : Background & Perspective

By John Samuel

As important as civil and political rights in the Indian context are the rights of the marginalised -- women, tribals, Dalits or lower-castes, and the poor whose survival depends on access to natural resources. It is the rights of the marginalised and of the minorities in the country today that are in peril. The challenge is to empower the poor and marginalised to demand their rights and participate in the public sphere

Read more...

Letter to death penalty lovers on Facebook

The death penalty for some of those who raped and killed Jyoti Singh Pandey may bring a sense of satisfaction to some. But let’s not fool ourselves by calling it justice. It’s more like revenge, says Debolina Dutta

Rape Death penalty

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Patriarchal underpinnings of caste violence

By Subhash Gatade

Dalits are not allowed inside temples in 12 districts of Tamil Nadu, and 460 tea shops in Madurai still follow the two-tumbler system for dalits and non-dalits. Why is this state, with its 100-year-old anti-caste movement, a shadow of its former self, asks Subhash Gatade in this comment sparked by the recent death of Ilavarasan

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Triple oppression of dalit women panchayat members

By Subhash Gatade

Affirmative action might get dalit women into panchayats, but caste compounds the gender discrimination they face and stymies real empowerment, says Subhash Gatade 20 years after panchayati raj in India

Women in panchayats

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Impunity under AFSPA

The impunity under AFSPA of law-enforcement personnel guilty of sexual offences against women is most pronounced in the Northeast, writes KS Subramanian

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958

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Schools of discrimination

By Subhash Gatade

The removal of a dalit cook from the anganwadi in Majure village, Karnataka, indicates that top-down measures to address caste discrimination are changing little on the ground

Midday meal scheme

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The ashes of Dharmapuri

The dalits whose homes were attacked by dominant castes in Dharmapuri district on November 7 would do well to invoke the special provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities Act in pursuing justice, as the dalits of Tsundur, Andhra Pradesh, did over a 20-year struggle, writes Subhash Gatade

VIOLENCE AGAINST DALITS

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Crime and punishment

A nation consumed by outrage and a sense of retribution easily confuses punishment and revenge, justice and vendetta, says the PUCL in a statement following the hanging of Ajmal Kasab and asking for a rethink on the death penalty

Ajmal Kasab  death penalty

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Can we afford to be culturally blind?

By Shilpa Kameswaran

India's state and market institutions promote only a passive respect for religious and cultural co-existence. Ethnic sensitisation stops at caste-based affirmative action. What are the perils of the absence of institutional diversity-education in a country as heterogeneous as India?

promoting cultural diversity

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Assam violence: Land, identity and immigration

The conflicts in and around the Northeast have little to do with religion and everything to do with land and identity, writes Walter Fernandes, detailing the history of immigration to the Northeast

Northeas Immigrants

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Dronacharyas all: Caste discrimination in higher education

By Subhash Gatade

A committee has recommended legal action under the SC/ST Atrocities Act against faculty of the Vardhman Medical College for caste-based harassment of 35 students. This is only the latest in a long list of similar cases in India’s institutions of higher education. Subhash Gatade provides the details

Caste discrimination

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The shaky foundations of dalit capitalism

Is economic prosperity the road to dalit emancipation? Or will it just serve to co-opt dalits into the system, asks Subhash Gatade

Milind Kamble, Chairman, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Jharkhand: The failed promise of an adivasi state

By Richard Toppo

A tribal perspective from Jharkhand describes how the creation of the state, ostensibly for the welfare of tribal populations, has only led to their exploitation and displacement

Displacement of tribals

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Questionable inclusion?

Recent data reveals that around 40% of the positions of ‘sweeper’ in the central government are now filled by non-dalits. Does this suggest a more progressive society, or simply one where the post of government sweeper is acceptable for the security it offers, but the work continues to be done by the socially-excluded, asks Alok Srivastava

Poverty and Social Exclusion in India

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Manufacturing offence: The cartoon controversy

Ambedkar knew that the best way to eliminate caste is education that encourages critical thought. Seen from this perspective, manufacturing offence in order to attack the 2006 NCERT textbooks is undoubtedly a betrayal of his legacy, writes Rohini Hensman

Ambedkar

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Truth and reconciliation in Kashmir

Burhan Majid points out why a truth and reconciliation commission is appropriate for Gujarat 10 years after the Godhra riots but makes absolutely no sense in Jammu & Kashmir

Kashmir conflict

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Persistent exclusion of Muslims in India

India’s Human Development Report 2011 cites only a minuscule improvement in the socio-economic status of Muslims in India compared with other excluded groups. Ayesha Pervez explores the government’s response to this situation and explains why the extreme deprivation and exclusion of Muslims continues despite these measures

Poverty of Muslims

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The language that fosters social change

Caste bias and prejudice runs deep in India. But when court judgments display such conscious or unconscious biases they confer legitimacy on an institution we are trying to uproot, says Rakesh Shukla

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Flaws in the Communal Violence Bill

A law that differentiates between Hindu and Muslim victims and proposes separate courts to try Hindu and Muslim accused only legitimises communal resentment and polarisation, writes Jyoti Punwani in this analysis of the Communal Violence Bill

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In times of war and extremism: State praxis and the Constitution

The Supreme Court judgment condemning Chhattisgarh state’s use of the Salwa Judum to counter the Maoist menace is not infringing on the security responsibilities of the executive or legislature, but safeguarding constitutional values and fundamental rights such as equality and right to life, says Rakesh Shukla

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From Empire to Monsanto: Challenges of seeking the truth

Using the MNC Monsanto as a metaphor for concentration of money power and political influence, Rajni Bakshi asks: How should we tackle the enormous distortions of power that are as much a reality in our times as the British Empire was in Gandhiji’s time? Can we speak truth to power today in the dialogic and persuasive manner that Gandhiji did?

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Grey areas in the right to live - and die

The argument of possible misuse cannot be grounds to oppose the legalization of euthanasia, says Rakesh Shukla in this comment on the Aruna Shanbaug judgment. If misuse were grounds to do away with laws, the first to go would be the power of the police to arrest. After all, the National Police Commission itself admits that two-thirds of detentions in the country are unjustified

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Why temperance will not work with the AFSPA

There are only two ways to proceed with the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, says Supreme Court lawyer Rakesh Shukla: retain it or scrap it. Tempering it with pleas to refrain from ‘excessive use of force’ etc will simply not work with an army trained to inflict maximum damage

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Beyond the Khushboo case

The Supreme Court judgment quashing all criminal cases of obscenity against Khushboo is a welcome blow against hypocritical morality masquerading as virtue. But it isn’t enough. We need to debate the merits of criminalising sexually explicit material as obscene, in sharp contrast to publications, films and material that promote sexism and violence, writes Rakesh Shukla

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Re-examining the Communal Violence Bill

The draft law on communal violence fails on many counts, says Sonal Makhija. In the first place, it vests the power to declare an area communally disturbed in the state government, although we have seen the complicity of the state itself in communal violence in recent times

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Crime and punishment

The recent conviction of caste panchayat leaders in Haryana who killed a young couple for marrying within their gotra is historic. But the knee-jerk reaction of calling for new laws on ‘honour killings’ will not help, says Supreme Court advocate Rakesh Shukla

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Sex, lies and videotape: The right to privacy in India

By Siddharth Narrain

In the recent cases of Swami Nithyananda and Prof S R Siras, the individual’s right to privacy has been violated in the name of “public morality”. But the Delhi High Court’s landmark judgment decriminalising homosexuality has clearly said that the right to liberty, dignity and privacy of individuals cannot be restrained by the notion of public morality

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'Love Jihad': A challenge to the Constitution?

The objection to inter-faith marriages, derisively called ‘love jihad’ by the Hindu right, goes against the very letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution, argues Arvind Narrain

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Against racism

Racial discrimination is increasing, and not only against Indian students in Australia. Dismissing racist attacks as hooliganism will not help, says Mukul Sharma. There is an urgent need to speak out frequently, strongly and at all levels of government against racism and xenophobia

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Dalits in a 'Hindu rashtra'

By Subhash Gatade

Everyone knows about Gujarat’s bias against Muslims. But consider the dalits in this ‘Hindu rashtra’: they are confined to ‘dalits only’ housing societies in Ahmedabad, school quotas for recruitment of dalit teachers are ignored, and dalits are buried in separate burial grounds if available and in wasteland if not

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Justice, not revenge

By Bikram Jeet Batra

In India, public support for capital punishment is quoted as the reason for continuing a practice that is increasingly being discredited worldwide. Yet, apart from half-baked media surveys and television SMS polls, there is no serious evidence to support this claim

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Academic untouchability?

If passed, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill 2008 will bar reservations at the faculty level for SCs, STs and OBCs in 47 premier institutions, including the IITs and IIMs . Why is there no opposition to this proposal to close the doors of our premier institutions to the historically oppressed, asks Subhash Gatade

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Reclaiming the meaning of independence: The struggle against special laws

The distinctive features of the revised Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act, like of many of the special security laws being passed in India, are directly lifted from one of the most odious laws of British India, the Rowlatt Act, says Arvind Narrain

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Police reform: We need it, but do we want it?

Despite several laws and Supreme Court directives on how the police must conduct investigations and what the rights of citizens are, human rights abuses, corruption and misconduct persist in the Indian police force, says Navaz Kotwal

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Tibet needs meaningful autonomy, not independence: Dalai Lama

By Rashme Sehgal

Spiritualism alone cannot fill stomachs, says the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetans in this exclusive interview. He believes there are benefits to staying with China, but only if China learns to respect democracy, civil rights and religious freedom

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The grammar of protest

By C S Venkiteswaran

Kerala does not tolerate anything but calibrated and conventional protest. The media recently "exposed"a group of youngsters expressing solidarity with the Chegara land struggle as frolicking and not serious. They trivialised in the process both the cause and the process of investigative journalism

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Development without inclusiveness aggravates resentments: Asma Jehangir

By Rashme Sehgal

The difference between the communalisation of Kashmir and of Gujarat is that there is no State complicity in the former, and no remorse in the latter, says Pakistani activist Asma Jehangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion for the UN, who recently toured India

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Izzat ka mamla hai: The doomed love story of Rizwanur-Priyanka

By Rajashri Dasgupta

The indictment of the police by the CBI in the Rizwanur Rehman case in Kolkata reveals the complicity of State and society in maintaining and perpetuating regressive socio-cultural prejudices in the name of family honour and religious belief

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The merits of affirmative action

By Meher Gadekar

An important pillar of affirmative action in the US has been the preferential allotment of tenders and contracts in the corporate sector to blacks. What have opinion-makers and industry in India done to build a just society for dalits? Most recently,industry turned down the government's request for reservations in the private sector

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Open letter to Gandhiji on his 60th death anniversary

By Ravindra RP

On the Mahatma's 60th death anniversary, a former member of the right-wing RSS writes about his early indoctrination against Mahatma Gandhi and his eventual realisation of Gandhi's relevance in modern-day India

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India's senior citizens finally get a hearing

By Neeta Lal

The Union Cabinet's recent decision to approve a new law -- the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill 2007 aimed at helping the elderly live in dignity and peace -- is a welcome move towards the protection and care of India's 77 million elderly citizens

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Speaking out against wrong actions is both a right and a duty

By Sandhya Srinivasan

The recent arrests of Binayak Sen in Chhattisgarh and Arun Ferreira in Maharashtra are sending out a clear message that anyone who speaks out against the government and the status quo will be targeted. But surely challenging the conditions in which the vast majority of people live is a duty, not a crime, writes Sandhya Srinivasan

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The importance of social medicine

By George Thomas

Binayak Sen, who was arrested in Chhattisgarh in May, is one of very few medical practitioners in India who see their role as not just saving individual lives but examining and highlighting the social context of disease. Is it just to arrest a doctor who is acting according to his conscience?

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Playing God: The arbitrary nature of capital punishment

By Rakesh Shukla

The Supreme Court has stated that the death penalty is to be awarded only in the rarest case of exceptional depravity and brutality. But human judgement, as several recent court cases have revealed, is totally subjective

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A bargain-basement knowledge 'mandi'

By Rahul Goswami

The new US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture will re-examine and overhaul existing curricula in agricultural education institutions in India. It will also leave Indian agriculture open to the interests of the world's largest food and agri-business corporations, says Rahul Goswami

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Refugees are not illegal migrants

By Oishik Sircar

Though India plays host to over 300,000 refugees from neighbouring countries, the country has a completely ad hoc system of refugee determination, deportation and protection

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Who says dalits under-perform?

By Chandra Bhan Prasad

Chandra Bhan Prasad responds to the debate about extending affirmative action for dalits to the private sector

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Dance bar ahead: Keep out: Part 2: The right to sexuality

By Maya Indira Ganesh

The ban on dance bars in Mumbai is ostensibly to protect youth from the sexualised environment of the bars. Instead of keeping the shadows and silences around sexuality intact, we need a rights-based approach to young people's sexuality, giving them the right to information that has a direct bearing on their health and well-being

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Brewing tensions in adivasi India

By Amitabh Behar

From the eviction of adivasis from forestlands in Madhya Pradesh's Burhanpur district to the continued threat to their lives from the army's routine firing exercises in Netarhat, Jharkhand, tribal populations throughout India are being exploited, intimidated and further alienated. The sharpening conflict between the adivasis and the Indian state must be addressed

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Untouchability: What the tsunami couldn't wash away

By Chandra Bhan Prasad

The dalit survivors of the tsunami were reportedly thrown out of relief camps, barred from using makeshift toilets, and given stale food. What will it take to wash away this powerful and destructive caste order that is so firmly rooted in Indian society, asks Chandra Bhan Prasad

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Baina beach demolitions: What about the sex worker's right to shelter?

By Rakesh Shukla

Acting on orders by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court, around 250 huts belonging to sex workers, on Goa's Baina beach, were bulldozed in an effort to 'clean up' Goa. 'Operation Monsoon Demolition' appears to have been based on the assumption that sex workers have no right to shelter

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Putting a premium on diversity

By Darryl D'Monte

This year's Human Development Report comes as a breath of fresh air. It emphasises that enjoying cultural freedoms in the 21st century is a basic human right. And that instead of viewing diversity as a drag on development, we should consider cultural liberty an integral component of social and economic progress

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Untouchables in the world of IT

By Gail Omvedt

While the US's leading private sector IT firm, Microsoft, has recognised the need for affirmative action and is taking steps to increase minority recruitment, no Indian corporate house has declared its commitment to ending caste discrimination

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Orissa: A continuing denial of adivasi rights

By Anu Kumar

The recent Justice PK Mishra Commission report on the Maikanch firing in Orissa's Rayagada district, in which three adivasis were killed in December 2000 as they opposed displacement, faults the police for excessive use of force. But the report dilutes its impact by observing that environmental protection cannot hold back Orissa's development

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Big Brother in the bedroom: 'Unnatural' offences and Section 377

By Laxmi Murthy

Decriminalising private, consensual adult sexual behaviour, the Indian government feels, might open the floodgates of delinquent behaviour. By refusing to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the government is reinforcing 150-year-old strictures disapproving sex for pleasure and not procreation. Shouldn't the State allow consenting adults to make their own sexual choices?

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Exile, through the lens

By Kavita

Most of the films screened at the Tibetan Film Festival and the Dharamsala International Film Festival had a strong political theme, reflecting the trauma of a people fenced in and outnumbered at ‘home’, silenced in exile

Dharamsala International Film Festival

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The long shadow of dalit massacres

By Subhash Gatade

The Patna High Court’s acquittal of the 23 Ranvir Sena members accused of the massacre of dalits and Muslims in Bathani Tola in 1996 underscores the continuing atrocities against dalits and other oppressed communities. How much has changed since the Keezhvenmani massacre in 1969?

caste violence

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February 27, Ahmedabad: The remains of the day

Mari Marcel Thekaekara reports from Ahmedabad on the week-long commemoration of the Gujarat genocide, and the violence that will not go away

communal riots Gulberg Society Gujarat

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No reconciliation without remorse

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara

Ten years after the Gujarat genocide 15 cabinet ministers and 28 IAS\IPS officers have been chargesheeted and Narendra Modi has been summoned by the Special Investigation Team. But, activists say, communal harmony will not be restored until the government and Gujarati society express remorse

communal harmony

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The other September 11 tragedy

Crimes against scheduled castes have actually increased, according to the government's own figures. But a fact-finding team in Tamil Nadu, where on September 11, 2011 serious police atrocities against dalits were committed, found that the district administration had little awareness about laws and measures for combating crimes against scheduled castes and tribes, writes K S Subramanian

Violence against dalits

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The burden of being Muslim

After every terror strike India's Muslim youth are fearful -- of encounters, illegal detention and torture. How long must Muslims live under suspicion of being terrorists or supporting terrorism? The sense of insecurity has become part of our lives, says Mahtab Alam

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Anna Hazare is inspiring India's somnolent people: Irom Sharmila

2,500 km away from the Ramlila grounds where Anna Hazare’s fast has the government in jitters, Irom Sharmila in Manipur continues unheard into the 11th year of her fast protesting human rights abuses under the AFSPA. Thingnam Anjulika Samom asks this prisoner of conscience what makes her continue to uphold democratic ideals with her only weapon – her body

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Hashimpura, the massacre that everyone forgot

By Darshan Desai

A media frenzy next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the horrifying Gujarat riots. But few will remember that 2012 will also mark 25 years after the shocking Hashimpura massacre in which a reserve force of the UP police rounded up 42 people and allegedly shot at them with impunity. After 23 years of research and investigation, former SP Vibhuti Narain Rai’s forthcoming book will for the first time tell the complete story

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Kahani queer India ki

The queer movement has gained visibility and a measure of acceptance in metropolitan India. But the rainbow has only just begun to hover over the rest of India. In Bhadrak, Barasat and hundreds of other places, queer folk are waiting and watching, says Pawan Dhall

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Dalit student suicides: The death of merit

A dalit student group has exposed the extent of caste discrimination in India’s premier educational institutions in two amateur documentaries uploaded on YouTube. These films tell the stories of two final-year medical students, driven to suicide because of the taunts and harassment they faced as dalits

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We are all complicit in the exile of MF Husain

Our ‘patriots’ hounded MF Husain out of his country. Our ‘secularists’ didn’t have the guts to bring him home. All of us are guilty of giving in to intimidation in the name of pragmatic governance, says Dilip Simeon

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WSF: The view from Senegal

Africa was the focus of the World Social Forum 2011 held in Senegal in February. But oddly enough colonialism, which is responsible for depleting the continent’s resources and its present crisis, was simply not discussed, says Sachin Kumar Jain 

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KG Kannabiran: Warrior for civil liberties

Rajindar Sachar pays tribute to KG Kannabiran, one of India’s foremost human rights activists, who died in December 2010

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Malabar, 1811: The long road to freedom from slavery

By N P Chekkutty

Two hundred years ago the first battle against slavery in India was won when Magistrate Thomas Hervey Baber freed 123 slaves, including children, from private trader Murdoch Brown’s plantation in Malabar. This is a story of marauding imperialism, a cruel caste system, and a crusade for human rights which led to a ban on slavery in British India in 1843

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Caste matters: What web matrimonials say

By Ashok Gopal

They might be Web-savvy, well-educated, well-off and living in a big city, but almost all women looking for a partner on India’s popular matrimonial websites want to marry within their religion and within their caste as well

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'Caste no bar'? You've got to be joking

By Ashok Gopal

How much does caste matter to young urban Indians, as reflected in the preferences they post on the hugely popular matrimonial websites? For almost everybody who hopes to find a life partner via the web matrimonial route, revealing one’s jati identity is a prerequisite for getting enquiries. This is Part 1 of a 2-part article on caste in matrimonial portals

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No peace without justice

By Anosh Malekar

If they return to their villages they may not survive. If they stay on in their resettlement colony they will never have basic education, healthcare or livelihoods. Eight years after the Gujarat riots, this is the status of thousands of displaced Muslims in the state.

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Modern-day slaves in a globalised world

By Shamita Das Dasgupta

Blue-collar workers from developing countries often sell everything they own to get a job in the land of milk and honey. An increasing number of these ‘guest workers’ in the US are being exploited and forced to live in inhuman conditions, with the constant threat of deportation

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The veil as a political weapon

Force can never be used to achieve freedom, writes Azar Mahloujian, an opponent of the Islamic regime in Iran, who has been living in Sweden since 1982. Women cannot accept anyone else telling them that they must – or must not – wear the veil

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Life on the line

By Jayanta Kumar Bhattacharya

The new barbed wire fencing India has erected for security reasons along the India-Bangladesh border in Tripura has caused homes to be demolished, people’s movements and employment to be restricted, and compensation, as usual, has been inadequate or non-existent

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Watchdog for women's rights

By Rajashri Dasgupta

Thirty years after CEDAW, does the Convention really serve a useful purpose? Sunila Abeysekera, Sri Lankan human rights campaigner who heads International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific, says the Convention is a good space for democratic countries to reaffirm that they respect women’s rights

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Tiger boundaries

A turned-away tiger complains to the Supreme Court. Ashish Kothari reports on this strange case from the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border

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The human rights mathematician

Bobby Kunhu pays tribute to the committed human rights activist and lawyer K Balagopal who passed away on October 8, 2009

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Violence in the jhoom fields

By Anup Sharma

One hospital for a population of 1.86 lakh, 136 villages electrified out of a total of 552, infant mortality at 4 per 10 infants, and per capita income at Rs 39 a day. Such underdevelopment is a fertile breeding ground for ethnic strife and militancy in Assam’s North Cachar Hills district

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Cracks in the citadel of peace

By Raheel Dhattiwala

Inaccessible education, unemployment and fear of displacement are threatening the peace in Ram-Rahimnagar, the settlement in Ahmedabad where Hindus and Muslims have kept the peace over four major communal riots. This is a disturbing picture of a settlement that is celebrated as a model of communal harmony

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A psychological look at 'honour killings'

It might be time to apply a psychoanalytical approach to honour killings and other social issues of our times, in order to devise ways to engage with pathologies at a community level, says Rakesh Shukla

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Mizoram's unwanted citizens

By Jayanta Kumar Bhattacharya

Thirty-seven thousand people violently displaced in ethnic clashes in Mizoram have been living in miserable conditions in six makeshift camps in neighbouring Tripura for over a decade. Despite having documents to prove their citizenship, the Mizoram government doesn’t seem to want them back

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'We lacked a civil society movement to halt the hatred in Gujarat'

By Melanie P Kumar

When minorities have no place in a state sworn to secularism, when freedom of speech and expression is curtailed, what vibrant Gujarat are we talking about, asks Father Cedric Prakash, human rights activist from Ahmedabad

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Binayak Sen's release: A victory for civil society

What kind of man inspires such a huge swell of civil society support wondered this correspondent as she marched with all the rest to Central Jail in Raipur, demanding the release of Binayak Sen just days before he was granted bail

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"We are fighting for democracy and dignity"

By Nilanjan Dutta

Angry at the brutality unleashed by the police in combing operations for Maoists, the tribals of remote and backward Lalgarh district in West Bengal refused to allow police to enter their villages this election and forced polling booths to be set up on the outskirts. They have drawn up a 10-point development charter as well

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'There is a huge gap between the voiceless and those who have a voice'

By Melanie P Kumar

Ilina Sen, wife of public health activist Dr Binayak Sen, who has been behind bars for the last two years for suspected links with extremists in Chhattisgarh, talks about Dr Sen’s work and the long and continuing struggle to secure his release

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'The poor pay the most for food - and also for health'

By Pamela Philipose

Isn’t there something wrong with the fact that there is one Indian doctor available for every 1,325 Americans in the US, but only one Indian doctor for every 2,200 Indians, asks Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and human rights activist

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Stony resistance

By Peerzada Arshad Hamid

A strange debate is going on in Kashmir these days. Newspapers and scholars are debating the legitimacy or otherwise of stone-pelting as a form of civil society resistance. Is it Islamic or un-Islamic? A seminar was also organised on the subject

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"Independence, even after I die"

By Dilnaz Boga

On the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising, 73-year-old Tibetan nun Anila recalls the torture and violence she experienced in 1959, when the Red Army overran Lhasa. It took her more than 20 years to make her way to India and be reunited with her husband

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'It is imperative that we come face-to-face with the demon within us'

By Deepa A

Human rights activist Teesta Setalvad plans to set up a Museum of Resistance in Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society, the site of a massacre during the Gujarat riots of 2002. In this interview, she explains why such a memorial is necessary

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Curfews and the women of Ima Keithel

By Chitra Ahanthem

The Market of Mothers in Imphal, Manipur, is the only marketplace that is run and controlled entirely by women. Over the generations, it has been an arena for women's uprisings and opinion-moulding. But curfews and general strikes are now affecting the women who trade here

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'Things have changed; 16 years ago coming to India was seen as treason'

By Aditi Bhaduri

Pakistani peace activist Karamat Ali discusses the many civil society initiatives to lay the groundwork for peace between India and Pakistan

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Similar yet different: What dalit activists think about Barack Obama

By Anuja Mirchandaney

As Barack Obama is sworn in as the first black President of America on January 20, 2009, dalits in India debate what this means for marginalised communities in both countries

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Songs of connectivity

By Deepti Priya Mehrotra

The deep roots of Islamic culture in India were explored in a week-long celebration of multiculturalism in Delhi recently

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Caste walls

By Anosh Malekar

Dalit Bhimnagar was separated from Maratha Dare by a 60-foot road when the villages were set up to rehabilitate Koyna dam oustees. Now, a new barrier in the form of a 155-m wall has caused simmering caste resentments to erupt in this western Maharashtra region. Our correspondent travelled to the divided villages to investigate how strong the caste divide really is in 21st century India

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Blue is the colour of peace

By Anita and Edwin

An international peace meet in Tumkur, Karnataka, explored the stages of transition for India's dalits: from a subjugated peace, in which dalits live with the dominant castes in subjugation and fear, to resurgence, conflict and finally, peace with dignity

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Rainbow Walk: Coming out, in pride

By Rajashri Dasgupta

In Kolkata, a city known to provide space to the marginalised, the LGBT community celebrated its sexuality and publicly declared its alternative sexual preferences

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Criminalising beggars instead of rehabilitating them

By Neeta Lal

A recent survey in Delhi revealed that many beggars are able-bodied and educated, forced into beggary by unemployment. The findings underscore the absence of a cohesive and humane national policy for beggars in India

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Brutal eviction

By Aparna Pallavi

In yet another conflict over land between tribals and the forest department, government authorities brutally evicted 1,500 families from a stretch of land in Ghateha village in Madhya Pradesh, claiming they were illegal settlers. The tribals are now in hiding, desperately trying to earn enough to get by

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The seeds of a new social movement

By N P Chekkutty

Trade liberalisation has had a severe impact on Kerala's fisherfolk. With no organised lobby to fight for their rights, the fisherfolk have been fighting among themselves, leaving the wealth of the sea to be plundered by middlemen and the global marine industry. But this August, traditional and mechanised fishermen across caste and communal divides, came together to fight the 62-day ban on monsoon trawling

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Fishing communities: the economics of impoverishment

By N P Chekkutty

Foreign trawlers are entering Indian fishing zones as part of global joint ventures, and Indian markets will soon be flooded with foreign fish products. This is yet another nail in the coffin of Kerala's traditional fishing communities, and a major contributor to violence and social conflict

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Tension grows as pressure on marine resources mounts

By N P Chekkutty

For centuries the Hindu, Muslim and Christian fisher communities co-existed peacefully in coastal Kerala. The forces of communalism only surfaced after the 1960s, when mechanised fishing and the pressures of economic liberalisation destroyed traditional knowledge systems and brought new pressures into the lives of fishing communities. This is the first in a series of articles exploring the socio-economic roots of communal strife in Kerala. The series was researched as part of the CCDS Research Fellowships 2006

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Ram-Rahim Nagar: An oasis of peace in Ahmedabad

By Shiv Kumar

A 21-member peace committee formed in 1969 has held the peace in this slum. Ironically, it is poverty and social stigma that binds these 'low-caste' Hindus and Muslims

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