The fisherman’s tragedy

Fishermen arrested-bars-getty

Arrested Indian fishermen in Pakistan lockup. File photo. Getty images

Something I wrote in anguish yesterday, published in The Citizen, The Wire and Aman Ki Asha…  Not only are fishermen punished harshly for crossing a border they cannot see, once detained they are treated like prisoners of war by the other country.

The India-Pakistan Fisherman’s Story: Caught, Jailed, Dies, Body Wrapped in Red Tape

Imagine you are a fisherman. Born into poverty. Born in a small coastal village in India. Or Pakistan. (Hardly a matter of choice). You lead a tough life, following the profession of your father and grandfather. You are barely literate. You spend your life eking out a bare existence for yourself and your family, chasing the depleting shoals of fish that the wind and tide drive further out to sea.

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#NotInMyName and expanding ‘islands of sanity’

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Residents say they keep a 24-hour vigil during disturbances to prevent any mischief by ‘outsiders’

Talking about the #NotInMyName campaign in India against lynch mobs that forced PM Modi to break his near-silence on the vigilante violence, my friend Jaspal Singh in an email also discusses the model of citizens’ “defence committees” against communal violence, as seen in Canada and in India. He gives the example of Ram Rahim Nagar (population over 20,000), Ahmedabad, cared for by a welfare society formed by two security guards in 1974. “It is to their great honour that to this day not a single communal incident has taken place there, even when Gujarat was burning,” added Jaspal when I probed him further about it. An earlier piece, Islands of Sanity (PUCL, Feb 2006), examines  more such examples. Do these examples still hold true? Have more islands of sanity emerged? How do we expand such islands of sanity? Another journalist friend, Shivam Vij, argues for shifting the focus from “Keyword Beef (which only furthers Hindutva) to Keywords Farmer, OBC, unemployment, demonetisation, economic slowdown” in his piece taking a critical look at the Not in My Name protests. Jaspal Singh’s ‘Reflections’ below. Continue reading

Why #NotInMyName protests against vigilante violence, mob lynchings in India resonate elsewhere too

My piece published in The Wire today. Also posted below.

Not in my name-Orijit Sen

Image by graphic artist Orijit Sen.

Catalysed by the mob murder of a teenager in India on June 24, followed by a Facebook post on June 24 by filmmaker Saba Dewan, a #NotInMyName campaign is taking off across India with simultaneous protests in several cities on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, against the ongoing mob lynchings and vigilante violence targeting Muslims and Dalits. Continue reading

#NotInMyName protests in India and elsewhere, June 28 and beyond

Not in my name-Orijit Sen

People in more cities are joining the #NotinMyName protest against vigilante violence and mob lynching, since the first one was announced in Delhi. Scroll reported that demos were planned in 9 (later updated to 11, and counting) cities including London, Toronto, on Wednesday.  Compiled below, the venues mentioned in the report as well as others: Continue reading

Remembering Indira Gandhi’s Emergency

Jaspal SinghEmail from friend Jaspal Singh on June 25, 2017 that I meant to post earlier about a situation that feels all too familiar to Pakistanis. The long-running democratic political process in India – interrupted only by Indira Gandhi’s three-year long Emergency in 1975 is one of the reasons the country has done so much better than neighbouring Pakistan. Until the current scenario where, fuelled by signals from the top, mob lynchings and vigilante violence in the name of religion are rising. Some argue that the Emergency sowed those seeds. Read on. 

Reflections. June 25,2017

Forty two years ago today, a state of emergency was declared in India by Indira Gandhi  I remember that day very clearly. I had summer job in Vermont and lived in this idyllic village west of Burlington. The rolling hills were full of flowers. There was a small mountain stream in my backyard. I would wake up and go for a bath in the stream. Every where greenery and flowers. It was like being in paradise. I had no TV, no radio. So I was cut off from the world. A friend  who lived close by came and told me that she had heard on the radio that the prime minister of India had declared emergency and thousands of people had been arrested.
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In solidarity with Dr. Udayakumar, anti-nuclear activist targeted by “journalists”

Udaykumar-Vidhi Doshi

Dr Udaykumar believes that India’s nuclear programme is a costly prestige exercise that endangers the lives of millions. Plus, he points out, villagers are still living in the dark, since most of India’s energy is used by the industrial sector. “Who really benefits from the nuclear plants in the end, except the foreign companies that are building these plants in India?” he says. Photo: Vidhi Doshi/The Guardian

Just heard from peace activist friend Lalita Ramdas in India that the well known anti-nuclear, village-based activist in India Dr. S. P. Udayakumaran, has filed a complaint with the press council of India against the harassment meted out to him and his family by Republic TV and its reporters (see below). Shame on these people using journalism like an entertainment tool, bringing a bad name to the profession. This is not the first time he has been targeted. Read this piece in The Guardian last year on The lonely struggle of India’s anti-nuclear protesters – a struggle that Dr Udaykumar plays a key role in.

It is truly shocking to see the extent to which our so called free and fair media will go to implicate one of our best minds, those with integrity of purpose and courage to stand up for what they deem to be right.

Uday Kumar whom we have known for decades, is a fine scholar, a fearless fighter, and a Gandhian practitioner who had led one of the longest , peaceful and non- violent struggles in our recent history.

Being against nuclear energy and nuclear weapons does not make you anti national.

On the contrary it is these men and women of Idinthikkarai/Koodankulam, who have demonstrated a commitment to the people of this country through their amazing struggle for a nuclear free India.

If this is seditious and unpatriotic and anti national, then I am too.

Lalita Ramdas

Dr Udaykumar’s letter below:

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India Pakistan cricket #KhelneDo

Ind-Pk-cricket-VOR“It’s just a game” doesn’t apply to any cricket match between India and Pakistan. But in recent years, fans have been stepping beyond national positions to support the other team even while rooting for their own, and to point out that yes, it is just a game. And that it’s better to fight on a sports ground than the battlefield. Continue reading

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