An excellent fact-based presentation with photographs (likely not seen before) providing chronological milestones on “Nine Decades of Subjugation for India’s Women” as the title indicates.
It provides quick excerpts and also sound bites on the various less known Acts passed in India to help improve the lives of women.
For the uninitiated, it gives a glimpse into the broad array of hindrances faced by the Indian women.
One would suppose that I would have already read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy long time ago given that I am an avid reader. After all it has received Booker Prize for fiction in 1997.
Friends had warned me against reading the book as they found it boring and too slow. Who wants to read that kind of a book? So I had never picked it up. But until then I had neither read anything else written by Arundhati Roy nor was I interested in the social/political issues.
Having said that, I changed over time and began following current affairs. With this new interest I had developed, I looked for alternate reading sources which were far and few in India. Arundhati Roy presented herself as a vehement critic of the neo-imperialism, and published collections of essays such as Listening to Grasshoppers: Field notes on Democracy and others with a poetic, hard hitting style of writing. I found myself swept away in love with her. She was the testimony of freedom of speech. I was instantly under the influence of her rhythmic style of writing, using repetitive phrases to give an echo-like effect to drive the point home. For a woman in India to be like Arundhati Roy aka forthright and articulate takes a lot of courage.
She is a polarizing figure and there were those who claimed that it would do better if she brushed up her knowledge of history, thus implying that hence her opinions should not be taken very seriously. But every time I read her articles, she did not come across as someone who had became a patron of the marginalized people overnight. Then I started having second thoughts about my decision; how could I have not read the only book written by someone I admire so greatly? And so I did. My conviction was right. The book speaks volumes of her understanding of the political realities in India, possibly through first hand experiences. Clearly, she has seen a lot more than the critics give her credit for.
My imagination raced wild as she opened the book with these stunning lines… “May in Ayemenem is a hot, brooding month. The days are long and humid. The river shrinks and black crows gorge on bright mangoes in still, dustgreen trees. Red bananas ripen. Jackfruits burst. Dissolute bluebottles hum vacuously in the fruity air. Then they stun themselves against clear windowpanes and die, fatly baffled in the sun…”
She started the novel with the end, went all the way to the start and ended in the hot, sweaty, controversial and courageous middle (for which she was first sued and then case was dismissed). Summarizing the plot will take everything away from it, so I won’t. I can only offer some glimpses into the story. Highlight of the book is in the small things. Journey through life of the characters was natural and surreal. The melodic narrative shattered the invisible door between the reader, the author and the character; before I knew it I had transitioned from feeling for the character to becoming the character. Her lyrical style at once took control of my pace. Rhythm and repetition prevailed throughout the book as a way to emphasize the intensity of the emotions. Her unique use of grammar and punctuation was highly forceful in creating a reminiscent effect of personal experiences.
She has written several proses with a child’s imagination, at least like the one I had as a child and sometimes do even now where thoughts begin with a significant event, somehow trail off into utmost trivial but precise observations and then wander off into a recollection of something similar or exact opposite…a rollercoaster ride that makes you forget where it had all started from.
Arundhati Roy’s keen awareness of the highly complex and shameful social constructs of Indian society is reflected. To name a few – rampant unaddressed issue of pedophilia, prevailing caste issues, abuse of power by authorities like the police, social discrimination, betrayal on the grounds of higher morality, insults bore by divorced wives (not husbands) and the taboo affiliated with single mothers and their chastised children.
The story is full of suffering and its reality will stay with me forever. It reflects a great tragedy of Indian society. It is about the brave characters who dare to follow their heart and to stay free-spirited. It is about loss and longing. It is about the children whose inner quirky world is beyond the reach of the world and who see the world through an innocent lens. It is about injustice and hypocrisy. It is about love…Familial love, romantic love, unrequited love, forbidden love, desperate terrible poignant restless love (as someone put in their review).
It is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. I wept for long after finishing it.
“But what was there to say? Only that there were tears. Only that Quietness and Emptiness fitted together like stacked spoons. Only that there was a snuffling in the hollows at the base of a lovely throat. Only that a hard honey-colored shoulder had a semicircle of teethmarks on it. Only that they held each other close, long after it was over. Only that what they shared that night was not happiness, but hideous grief.
Only that once again they broke the Love Laws. That lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much.”
Although it takes 40 minutes to reach Will Rogers State Park from my place, I still go for a long run by Santa Monica on Saturdays. It is invariably 100% times refreshing and invigorating and we feel that it is worth the drive. Coming from the valley which is usually 10-15 degrees warmer, the cold wind of the beach always hits me at first. But a few deep breaths, swinging of arms and legs and heart pumping music gets me going.
Once I’m on the track, it is impossible not to be perked up and feel alive. The stylish unique homes built on the side-walk are attractive and they secretly make me absurdly curious…who lives here, must they have designed this home, do they walk about naked inside, maybe they are all artists or actors, maybe they live alone and write, or maybe they like to cook while watching the sunset, what would I do if I lived in one of these homes, … and on and on and on my mind wanders to the point that I begin laughing at myself for these uncanny thoughts.
The track takes me under the pier and on the other side of it. I love that that section is always crowded. I have to make my way through bikers, runners, rollerbladers, beach bums, good and bad guitar players, homeless people, and just those who like to hang out in other people’s way lost in their world. There are kids, dogs, gays, retirees, married couples who are fighting and young couples in love, just friends hanging out, visitors for site-seeing, people of all colors and kinds. I feel as if hundreds of stories are woven at the same time and told to me silently through them. One of these days after my Oct race, I will get a pic of all these and post them on my blog.
Running back to my car is almost like time for introspection. The sunset is always gorgeous. It gets quieter as people start to leave. The sound of the waves becomes distinctly loud. I think of the pacific – the world on the other side of pacific and inside the ocean. The child in me wonders if there is a Little Mermaid in there?
Many times there are sail boats to be seen, I think of where they may be going or coming from. I often times find myself dreaming about how life must have been centuries ago when voyages by some brave adventurous men thousands of miles across the waters changed the map of the world.
The drive back home via Topanga Canyon is curvy and like Nitin likes to say, a perfect place for ambush. He says that almost every time we drive through the canyon. In fact, he has said it so many times, that when he does not say it, I still hear it. No matter how much of a hurry we are in, we always find time for a quick stop at our favorite spot on the Top of Topanga that presents to us the gorgeous views of the Valley.
The adrenaline pumping run combined with the blissful natural surrounding brings out the philosopher in me. When I leave Los Angeles, I will always fondly remember my runs in Santa Monica.
The ordinary stories of extra-ordinary people are always intriguing. The question always lingers about them…what must have caused them to become how they are? This film takes us through the journey of answering that question for the one person who has touched the lives of common man in Central & South America – Che.
The Person – There are some people who turn everything they touch to gold. When they enter the lives of other people, they also bring along a breath of fresh air, energy and fearlessness. They carry an invisible power to breakthrough the years of superstitious belief systems simply by their actions and curiosity. Before they realize it, they touch the lives of several people. That person is Che in the eyes of everyone whom he has met in his journey…a young daring lad who defies the logic and the man-made (unjust) laws, who is not afraid of questioning and has a strong conviction, and who is simply following his heart. When he leaves, the void difficult to fill.
The Friendship – Dreams and aspirations transcend across all barriers or differences amongst individuals and societies. That is what connects people and creates enduring friendships like that of Alberto and Ernesto. The experience of traveling long winding journeys on the path less travelled (literally and not so literally) together defines the foundation of one’s life. That connection stays forever and would be difficult to surpass. I have experienced this with my (once) boyfriend- (now) husband. When faced with extremely grueling situations in life and close-to-death experiences, when participating in highly challenging outdoor activities of very demanding hikes, races, skiing, ice-climbing, etc, and when traveling together through thick and thin, that is when the bond of friendship, trust and love strengthens, and the belief in each other solidifies. The journey of overcoming an arduous circumstance in life, the pull and push of each other, is what defines the relationship of the two individuals. In a spiritual sense, they become one in heart and soul. While this may sound too romantic, it is for real and can be only understood deeply by those who have been through something similar. The movie does a phenomenal job of showcasing this depth of friendship for those who can see it. Hence their departing in the end is truly heartbreaking because no-one else can possibly understand what they meant for and to each other. It would be a tall order to ever fill those big shoes of attachment, understanding and companionship.
The Journey – The journey of Che and the stories of people he touches invokes the following emotions. It completes the circle of understanding why Che is what he is, why might have done what he did. The stories of indigenous people are very similar across the boundaries of nations. Rural India is more similar to Latin America than to the Urban India. The so-called developed society ironically shows its true colors of primitive thinking by side-lining the handicapped, by legalizing unjust take over of someone else’s property, by making this self-sufficient communities homeless and then calling them illiterate, by destroying the ecology for immediate comforts, by abandoning the idea of a community. Clearly it is under-developed in the ideas of respect for others, ethics, justice, truth and freedom. Repeatedly history has shown that when we decide to understand the real reality, the ideas of creating a better world will naturally come. But we are so afraid of knowing the truth, of crying, of inconvenience that we even fashionably admit – Things are so miserable that I don’t want to know about it (and hence deal with it and hence do anything about it). In silence, we are supporting the status-quo. If we feel that we will die (with exaggeration ofcourse) of seeing the injustice, then let’s open our eyes to see that people are actually dying of the same injustice. If you feel that nothing can be made better, I dare ask you, what you have you really done to ever change it? Let’s not hide under the pretext of development to escape from the sacrifice needed to make this world a better and equal place. The explanations for the mistreatment of and war against the handicapped, the weaker, the underprivileged, the powerless are now long due. What kind of development are we trying to achieve if it cannot respect basic humanity.
This movie is an absolutely beautiful human story. Even if one does not feel strongly about the things I mentioned above, one will likely enjoy the story of their friendship and travel adventures.
Norman Finkelstein’s candid take on Gandhi, Non Violence and the Occupy Movement.
A very interesting one hour spent this weekend.
No need to say anything more, he says everything that has to be said.
Let him that would move the world, first move himself.
India Friends Association is a Non Profit organization based in Camarillo, CA. I have been involved with them since 2009 through my husband Nitin. It has been a significant life changing event.I have not become an activist all of a sudden and do not intend on becoming one. But I will not subscribe to the hype, the lies, the spin in the words of Tarun Tejpal. There has only been one, single change in me. I have opened myself to the truth of the world.
Many of us have accepted status-quo due to lack of imagination or simply out of laziness; I have decided not to do so. Some take pride in apathy; I find it silly. Many have found happiness in self indulgence; I find it to be a narrow perspective of life. Development is being defined by ability to earn or create more and more luxuries; this may be a lovely dream created by those who profit out of it, but by no means a reality.
Dibaker Banerjee, director of Khosla ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Love, Sex Aur Dhoka said in one of his recent interviews ” If you think you are not a part of politics in the post-World War II democracy era, you are a fool. All of us are a part of politics; which means either you are a part of the reasons or consequences, or you are the victim or beneficiary. The success of a citizen in a politically-defined society depends on how much s/he can be a part of the reasons, rather than being at the receiving end of the consequences.”
I fully agree with him.
You are lying if you say that you really cant do much; the one thing you can surely do is become an aware individual.
In only a few Google searches, you will find that….”there are more poor people than rich although there is enough money for all to have a satisfactory life; hundreds of hungry people can be fed from the food you throw away; when floodlights are turned on for playing ‘cricket’ at night in the stadiums of metropolitan India, electricity is taken away from thousands of villages for several hours which results in people not getting proper treatments in hospitals, or they not getting work due factories having to shut down.” The ice at the poles is melting, global warming is real and it will impact you. There are several wild species at the verge of extinction today due to urbanization. Food is becoming more genetically modified than ever before and it is not healthy. We can not ignore these realities.
Gandhi had said, “there is sufficiency in the world for man’s need, not for man’s greed.” The world has become global not just because of internet and ability to fly across the globe in less than a day, rather because for every action in your life, there is a reaction in someone else’s and vica-versa. This earth, this nature, all the resources in it, are in our hands. We do indeed have the power to influence the future.
At IFA, the founders decided to use their valuable time and money to support Projects and Fellows in India on two fronts: 1) At the Grassroots level, working directly with the marginalized poor, educating them about their rights and empowering them to improve their lives 2) At the Top level, influencing the Members of Parliament in India to bring about strategic Policy changes and introducing new bills that will bring about greater common good.
They provide assistance and cooperation in building self sufficiency, not charity. They support projects such as rural healthcare, supporting women’s rights, at risk children, educating people about their rights through Acts such as Right to Information, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, halting Illegal mining to preserve natural resources and many others.
Every year, for past 18 years, IFA has held an annual Fundraiser called “Archana and India Festival” which is a colorful extravaganza of India’s culture, dances, songs and stories at the respected Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks. There are more than 1200 people in the audience. More than 100 volunteers perform at this event. IFA could have easily hosted outside professional performers or a Black tie event for the fundraiser. But in keeping with their philosophy of Community development and Personal involvement, this 2-3 hour professional program is fully performed, managed, and hosted solely by local community volunteers. And it is a super hit. I had never thought that sitting in Southern California, I would enjoy children’s performances on Indian songs, Kathak, Bharat Natyam, Odissi – Indian Classical dances, and Drama on Indian folk tales, etc. It engages individuals of all age groups (from age 3 to 60+) and makes this event an unforgettable part of everyone’s lives.
In May 2011, Nitin & I were highly inspired by this Event, by the Founders and by the Intellectuals and Change-makers of India whom we met through the IFA Speaker series such as P.Sainath, Jean Dreze, SR Hiremath, etc. We felt the need to do something out of the ordinary. We believe that this world can become a better place. We have a responsibility to give back to the society what we take from it. Hence, we began the IFA Young Professionals (YP) chapter. In May 2012 we complete our first anniversary. Hence I am posting this article this month.
We have, since then, felt enlightened through our experiences and journey of reading, discussions, debates and sharing of thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Life is no longer the same; we can not undo what we now know. Perception of life has changed forever. The beauty lies in the fact that we have barely scratched the surface of knowledge pool available to us. So we have a long exciting journey ahead of us. The quality of time spent has remarkably improved.
There is a constant realization that everything and anything we do in life has an impact on someone else in the world (whether visible to us or not). This has brought about some sort of accountability towards the world. It is a wonderful feeling of liberation.
Below is a beautiful article on IFA-YP that Nitin wrote for the Archana Booklet of 2012.
India Friends Association (Young Professionals) or IFA-YP is an experiment born out of hope to extend the extraordinary ideals shared by core IFA members. Sure, the team ran half marathons to raise funds for IFA, hosted public speaking events, debated over bills & regulations proposed in the Indian parliament. But, more importantly, YP group today symbolizes that increasingly rare tenet of commitment to community and a deep curiosity of an engaged citizenry.
IFA-YP team met for the first time in Woodland hills in May 2011 with a group of 8 like-minded individuals & quickly turned into a full-fledged chapter (monthly meeting) with 8 to 12 members each assigned a unique task as per his or her liking & proficiency. Our clarion call to encourage new members revolves around creating awareness that most of us unmistakably possess X amount of disposable income & time. One simply needs to find avenues to share that valuable asset (volunteer time more than monetary commitment) with our community. IFA-YP offers that opportunity and we invite anyone interested to attend IFA team meetings to further this process of contribution to community.
Another constant theme in IFA-YP meetings is the willingness to learn about the world in general and India in particular. All members seek to understand the activities of IFA supported fellowships and projects and critically analyze how they are impacted by new bills and revolutionary changes occurring in post-liberalization India. Others are more engaged on US domestic policy in the light of 2008 financial crisis. Some were active participants in occupy wall-street movement acutely aware of the sharp income inequality despite their own privileged financial position.
It is not only the cerebral side that we engage with; many of our members are proud owners of a passionately creative spirit. This has resulted in development of concise and snazzy trailer-version of longer, detailed documentaries showcasing IFA activities in India, designing of new newsletters, development of website or painting and coloring of banners to encourage marathon runners.
That brings us to the physical commitment shown by youth members in order to support IFA. 14 runners, bikers & walkers came together to train for 3 months for half marathon (13.1 miles) or bike race (26.2 miles). It is noteworthy that most participants were first timers and came from as disparate locations as San Diego to Santa Monica and Woodland Hills to West LA. We would track our progress on Google docs & fancy phone apps during the week and then run together at Santa Monica beach on weekends. One member made creative videos of runners to assist in fundraising while others came down as cheering squads for the race day. This remarkable synergy resulted in vigorous fundraising and tenacious racing. All runners and bikers completed their race, many in record time. In that moment of accomplishment, lifelong bonds were formed. The group had forever integrated. India friends association – Young Professionals group had veritably come into being.
“Walking with the Comrades” is an engrossing account of the under currents of social, political and economic direction of India. Arundhati Roy’s unassuming question sums up the book, “Can you leave the water in the rivers? The trees in the forest? Can you leave the bauxite in the mountain?”
The book questions the accepted ideas of what constitutes progress, development and indeed civilization itself. It condemns both the Indian State and the Maoists for their war over power, land, ideology, mineral riches, rights and ecology. Contrary to popular belief about A Roy’s inclinations, the militant behavior of the Maoists has no sympathy or support in the book. She expresses clear skepticism whether these Naxalites would do anything different if in power than those currently in power. She draws a picture for us to understand the conundrum of the extreme circumstances under which these people live, the boundaries to which they are pushed, and why and how the resistance movements have come about. She aptly states, “If you pay attention to many of the struggles taking place in India, people are demanding no more than their constitutional rights”.
Beneath the forests of India lies billions of dollars worth of minerals. Approximately 24 types of minerals including iron, bauxite, copper, chromium, gold, lead, manganese, zinc and coal, are found in nearly 50 percent of India’s total landmass of 3.20 million sq km. India’s considerable mineral resources are being coveted not just by the Indian industry, but increasingly by foreign capital. There is international demand for these natural resources and pressure on the Administration. Roy exposes the conflict of interest of various top level Politicians with the exponential growth in the mining industry.
Fueled by the furious pace of development in foreign countries, the production of iron ore, bauxite, chromium, coal and natural gas has doubled and even tripled from mid-1990s to mid-2000 in India. But this huge spiraling production has contributed a measly 2.5% to the country’s GDP in the last ten years. In southern mineral-rich Karnataka state, for instance, royalties from mining have remained a static 0.7 to 0.8 percent of total revenues even while the value of these minerals have shot up manifold.
Of 1.2 billion people in India, 700 million continue to live under $2 a day while 50 Indian billionaires top the Forbes wealthiest people charts. On one hand, we are the fastest growing nations, but on the other hand less than 6% employment comes from the industrialization, 40% of students drop out by secondary school, 230 million Indians are suffering from malnutrition and 6 lakh villages are in desperate poverty with access to limited or simply no water, electricity, hospitals, etc.
According to the 2001 census, there are more than 90 million tribal people in India, with large concentrations in the eastern and central Indian states, such as Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Jharkhand. The human development report of the eastern Orissa state, the country’s richest mineral-bearing State, is an abysmal low of 0.404.
To make matters worse, almost all of these minerals are exported; thus not benefitting India even indirectly in terms of our own infrastructural growth. The gross ecological damage, health degradation, uncontrolled pollution and scale of social irresponsibility are horrendous. In the meanwhile, the industrialists across the globe are trading Futures in the stock market waiting on the secretly signed MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) to materialize, over the dead bodies of the tribals & police.
Here is a disarming account that I want to share from the book. The Maoists invite A.Roy to spend time with them. In order for them to recognize each other, she had to arrive at a given location with camera, tika and coconut and look for the person with a cap, Outlook magazine and bananas. Upon reaching the destination, she met a young boy with a cap, but he was carrying neither the magazine nor the bananas. He said, he couldn’t find the magazine and he ate the bananas since he got very hungry on the way. And from here she began her journey with the Naxalites whom the government portrays as the “Internal Security Threat” (an over simplified and exaggerated term for a very complex issue).
In an earlier blog, I have captured some other excerpts from the book: http://ourglobaldiary.weebly.com/chandnis-blog/excerpts-walking-with-the-comrades-by-arundhati-roy
She covers intriguing personal accounts of various tribal people, that was made possible only because she spent one on one time spent with them over several days by living, eating, and experiencing their way of life. Their life’s tragic stories start to feel like getting to know of the losses in a friend’s life.
She exposes the human rights violation performed at catastrophic levels in the name of “Operation Green Hunt” by the State. It is typical of the Government to kill the key liaison for peace-talks between the Maoists and the State while holding make-believe peace talks. (Alongside the urban Indian asks rather naively, “but why don’t they hold peace talks”?) The oppressive government is becoming more and more hostile towards its own marginalized citizens that suffer poverty, illiteracy, malnutrition, and caste and gender discrimination.
Legalizing of unfair practices via new laws and policies is brought to light. The Fifth Schedule of the Indian Constitution provides protection to the Adivasi (indigenous) people living in the Scheduled Areas. This constitutional right is under threat of being amended to effect transfer of tribal lands to non-tribals and corporate bodies. Since 2000, India has begun liberalizing the mining industry; there are laws and amendments being passed to even allow 100% Foreign Direct investment with almost no controls and nil accountability. India ranks among the five largest markets in the world for coal, steel and aluminum. But we fail to ask the critical question…at what cost?
Committees set up by the Government acknowledged (but this information was intentionally dropped from the final released reports) that facts are being misrepresented for the purpose of forcibly acquiring land for private industry. The media is working hand in glove with the establishment, twisting and faking stories in favor of the powerful & the influential, eroding one’s belief in the daily news headlines.The author also covers women’s issues and rural health problems in the book. She has written at great length about the need for “personal integrity” in our leaders and decries the extent of killing of people in this internal combat.
Reading this collection of essays requires one to keep an open mind to a different point of view. I really appreciate her voice and this book despite the highly acerbic remarks, especially in the last essay. After all, someone has to say it. It exposes us to other people’s reality. That someone can still write such essays reinforces that Indians continue to live in democracy and there is still hope.
Arundhati Roy is a Booker Prize winner and has written a screenplay for a TV film that won 2 National awards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arundhati_Roy
This book has 3 essays all of which can also be read online:
Mr. Chidambaram’s War – http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?262519
Walking with the Comrades – http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?264738
The Trickledown Revolution – http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?267040
The Introduction of the book ‘Walking with the Comrades’ is so compelling that I wanted to share a snippet of it here:
“The Minister says that for India’s sake, people should leave their villages and move to the cities. He’s a harvard man. He wants speed. And the numbers. Five hundred million migrants, he thinks, would make a good business model.
Not everybody likes the idea of their cities filling up with the poor. A judge in Mumbai called the slum dwellers pickpockets of urban land. Another said, while ordering the bulldozing of unauthorized colonies that people who couldn’t afford it shouldn’t live in cities.
When those who had been evicted went back to where they came from, they found their villages had disappeared under great dams and quarries. Their homes were occupied by hunger and policemen. Their forests were filling up with armed guerillas. War had migrated too. From the edges of India, in Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, to its heart. So the people returned to the crowded city streets and pavements. They crammed into the hovels on dusty construction sites, wondering which corner of this huge country was meant for them.”
Another excerpt from the first page of the first chapter of the book “Chidambaram’s War” –
“The low flat topped hills of south Orissa have been the home to the Dongria Kondh long before there was a country called India or a state called Orissa. The hills watched over the Kondh. The Kondh watched over the hills and worshipped them as living deities. Now these hills have been sold for the Bauxite they contain. For the Kondh it’s as though god has been sold. They ask how much god would go for if the god were Ram or Allah or Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the Kondh are supposed to be grateful that their Niyamgiri hill, home to their Niyam Raja, God of Universal Law, has been sold to a company with a name like Vedanta (the branch of Hindu philosophy that teaches the Ultimate Nature of Knowledge). It’s one of the biggest mining corporation in the world and is owned by Anil Agarwal, the Indian billionaire who lives in London in a mansion that once belonged to the Shah of Iran. Vedanta is only one of the many multinational corporations closing in on Orissa.
If the flat topped hills are destroyed, the forests that clothe them will be destroyed too. So will the rivers and streams that flow out of them and irrigate the plains below. So will the Dongria Kondh. So will the hundreds of thousands of tribal people who live in the forested heart of India, whose homeland is similarly under attack.
In our smoky crowded cities, some people say, “So what? Someone has to pay the price of progress.’ Some even say, ‘Lets face it, these are people whose time has come. Look at any developed country. Europe, the United States, Australia – they all have a ‘past’. Indeed they do. So why shouldn’t “we”?
Appeal to save Soni Sori
Update on 4/28/2012: Various Non Profits & Human Rights Organizations are running campaigns to save Soni. Over last few months, I have taken the issue of Soni Sori torture to my heart. Please see the bottom of this blog to see what you can do to save her.
UPDATE on May 2nd, 2012: http://iadhri.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/supreme-court-directs-chhattisgarh-government-to-bring-soni-sori-to-aiims-for-treatment/
See bottom of this page for information on this topic from Dec 2011.
Tehelka is running a campaign to save Soni Sori since atleast last month: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main52.asp?filename=Ws030412spLanding.asp and http://www.tehelka.com/story_main52.asp?filename=Ne140412Arrest.asp
For the uninitiated:
Soni Sori is an Adivasi school teacher from Dantewada who was arrested on Oct 4, 2011. The charges against her are possibly completely false. Anyhow, since then she has been brutally tortured and sexually abused while in police custody in Chhattisgarh.
Despite doctors from NRS Medical Hospital having confirmed that stones had been inserted into her vagina and rectum, Soni Sori has received no proper medical attention. She has been passing blood with her urine, is having difficulty to sit or get up, and has lost considerable weight.
More than six months after she was tortured, Soni remains imprisoned in Chhattisgarh and has received none of the follow-up medical treatment she badly needs. During this time, no investigation or action has been initiated against the officers implicated in torturing her.
Soni’s petition is still pending before the Supreme Court, and in the meantime, her health condition continues to deteriorate. Unless she receives medical attention soon to treat the injuries she sustained in police custody and infections developed as a result, there is a very real possibility that by the time the petition comes up for hearing, there will no longer be someone left alive to offer any justice to.
The brutal treatment meted out to Soni Sori, and the prevailing situation of conflict and repression in Chhattisgarh, cause grave concern about Soni in particular, and the situation of women (and men) prisoners, in general. We should be outraged and ashamed at this inhuman treatment of a woman in India. Such shameful behaviors are like a slap in the face of our civil liberties.
Police is supposed to protect people, not victimize them. Indian Government must take strict action to protect its innocent citizens and punish the police that is misusing its powers.
Power of changing the world is in the hands of people i.e. You and Me. We always complain that Government didn’t do this or that. Today, it is OUR turn to do something for fellow citizens.
We must take charge and not let even a single case of such torture continue.
There are several Non-profit Organizations already doing the work for us. All you need to do is send them, from the comforts of our safe and luxurious homes, your name and affiliation (if any) as an endorsement.
Please sign these appeals to save Soni Sori:
Email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your endorsement.
Petition can be signed online on this website itself.
I have already sent my endorsements. I encourage you to do the same.
My heart-felt gratitude for reading this, (hopefully) endorsing this, and spreading the word to your friends and family.
After reading this article, I cried for several hours. My heart was filled with terror. Just reading about such a harrowing experience on another woman/ human being feels so terrifying that it is a matter of concern as to how Soni Sori is living through this ghastly encounter. I wonder where she gathers the strength and the spirit to keep fighting?
I am very ashamed that such incidents happen in India even today. Where is the Government of India when its citizens need it the most? How is it allowing the pathetic Chhattisgarh police to get away with something so abominable? Where are the People of India when it is time to speak up? Where is the mainstream media that covers some ridiculous gossip news on bollywood stars but fails to write a single line on this story?
Original Article: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne151011coverstory.asp
“Independence begins at the bottom… A society must be built in which every village has to be self sustained and capable of managing its own affairs… It will be trained and prepared to perish in the attempt to defend itself against any onslaught from without… This does not exclude dependence on and willing help from neighbours or from the world. It will be a free and voluntary play of mutual forces… In this structure composed of innumerable villages, there will be ever widening, never ascending circles. Growth will not be a pyramid with the apex sustained by the bottom. But it will be an oceanic circle whose center will be the individual. Therefore the outermost circumference will not wield power to crush the inner circle but will give strength to all within and derive its own strength from it.”
– Mahatma Gandhi