• stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : July2017

It’s man versus man in MP’s villages where condoms are a taboo

Experts say the decline in the use of contraceptives by men has threatened women’s reproductive health and has led to an increase in the number of abortions in the central state

Shruti Tomar
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh
A sex worker takes a condom from a volunteer in a red light area. (AP File Photo)

Radheshyam Sharma scouts agricultural fields, bus stops and tea shops under a scorching sun to look for newly-wedded and other men so that he can distribute packets of condom among them.

Sharma is not a salesman for a condom manufacturing company but a male health worker assigned by the Madhya Pradesh government to ensure more men start using contraceptives and also create awareness about their benefit among them, especially in the rural areas.

Like Sharma, hundreds of male health workers in MP have been given the task after the ministry of health and family welfare released data on reproductive and child health (RCH) recently that revealed a major decline in usage of condoms in the state.

As per the data, the use of male contraceptives decreased by 76% in the past nine years in Madhya Pradesh. In 2008-09, there were 11.8 lakh users of the condom but in 2016-17 the number drastically came down to 2.79 lakh. The decline is not limited to usage of contraceptives; vasectomy – a surgical procedure meant to protect against pregnancy permanently – also came down by a whopping 74%, it said.

Radheshyam Sharma (in the white shirt) convincing a villager to use male contraceptives in a rural area of Bhopal. (HT Photo)

Experts say the decline in the use of contraceptives by men has threatened women’s reproductive health and led to an increase in the number of abortions by 127% in the central state. The major problem lies in rural areas, they add. The problem is compounded by the fact that men play a dominant and decision-making role in reproductive health in villages because of gender inequities.

Madhya Pradesh’s public health and family welfare department (PHFWD) started the campaign to ensure more men start using condoms. Under this campaign, the department has deputed male health workers to motivate more men to use contraceptives in all the districts in the state, but especially in 25 districts where infant mortality rate (IMR), total fertility rate (TFR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) are very high.

“Despite all efforts of the department in the previous years, the results were not satisfactory. When we saw the data, we realised that ASHA workers are motivating only women for family planning. Particularly in the rural area given the social customs, it is not possible for them to motivate men so we have decided to launch a campaign by engaging male workers in it,” state PHFWD director JL Mishra says.

Mishra was referring to accredited social health activists (ASHA), who are responsible for delivering health services to the villages.

  • MP’s maternal Mortality Rate: 221 per 1,00,000 live births
  • National average is 167
  • Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)
  • MP has the highest IMR with 52 deaths of children less than one year of age per 1000 live births.
  • National average is 40.5

Doctors also say the participation of male health workers is necessary as in the remote parts of rural MP people have little awareness about condoms as ASHAs only talk to women and often hand over male contraceptives to women without explaining much about its use.

“A few months ago, a woman, who had come for tubectomy, told us that she chews the condom as she didn’t know how to use it. It was shocking to me,” Dr Hemendra Singh Kadam, a surgeon based in Bhopal, said.

An IndiaSpend report cited a 2015 research study conducted in rural Odisha that male health workers can make a difference by educating men about maternal health issues and guiding their decisions. They can also complement the efforts of female health workers in delivering health services in remote areas and at late hours.

The report added that India’s RMNCH+A (Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent) health strategy – formulated in 2013 – recognised the central role of men in women’s reproductive health and includes guidelines for the training of health workers to provide husbands of pregnant women with the relevant information.

“In rural areas, the family planning concept awareness goes from ASHA workers, who all are women to women of society only. A man comes forward to family planning only for money, which is given as an incentive by the government but a woman’s concern is always family planning. There is a need to change the mindset of men,” Dr BS Ohri, former executive director of PHFWD, said.

This was corroborated by Balram Vidhu, a male health worker from Kadaiya community health centre in Bhopal, who said is it difficult to talk to men regarding contraception and sexual health issues.

“First, we have to cover almost an entire village to search for men. The real challenge starts when we try to convince them for using male contraceptives. In the process, we sometimes have to face abuses too and we also become a laughing stock. Many refuse to listen to me while saying that it’s a duty of women to go for family planning.”

According to experts, if the health department’s campaign is successful MMR and IMR will improve significantly in the state.

Related posts

Basirhat riots – The vicious cycle of fake images

The scourge of fake news and photoshop is upon us. A morphed image started a riot and now more morphed images are being used to fuel it. We saw tempers flare over a photoshopped image of Kaaba leading to Basirhat riots. Barely had the situation settled down that there is an attempt to fan tensions using a new set of fake images. How did we get here? Where do we go from here?

We are caught in a vicious cycle of fake news, manufactured outrage and increased polarisation that is now spilling out of social media into the real world in the form of violence. Let us take a look at some attempts to fan communal tensions post the Baduria riots.

Deliberate attempt to fuel tensions.

Fake claim 1:

This Facebook post by person named Bhabatosh Chatterjee is going viral. He has posted it twice. The translation of two accompanying messages read as follows:

“In Baduria, Hindu women are getting molested. Hindus, who are still supporting TMC, are you Hindu? If you are born of a Hindu father, then you will roar against these radicals. All Hindus of West Bengal must unite.”

“Aparna Sen, where are you now? Peaceful people (read Muslims) are stripping Hindu women at Baduria”

Bhabatosh Chatterjee rumours

The same claim was also shared on Instagram by Vijeta Malik, who according to her Facebook profile is a State Executive member of BJP Haryana. She shared the image with a message about Hindus being under attack in West Bengal.


Reality: The image is a scene from a Bhojpuri movie titled “Aurat Khilona Nahin”, released in 2014. The image has been taken from a blogpost

The image has been deliberately picked from the Internet to fuel tensions and incite violence. Chatterjee did not delete it after people pointed it out to him that it is fake. He shared it a second time with another inflammatory message. Vijeta Malik on the other hand has quietly deleted her inflammatory post. As expected, there is no explanation or apology from her end for misleading her followers.

Fake claim 2:

Twitter user Gita S. Kapoor, one of the select few followed on Twitter by Prime Minister Modi has shared an image saying, “Souvik’s parents. Attacked with no fault of their’s. But they do not fall under the #NotInMyName narrative. #HinduLivesMatter”.

Geeta S Kapoor Souvik's parents. Attacked with no fault of their's. But they do not fall under the<span class= #NotInMyName narrative. #HinduLivesMatter" width="640" height="649" />

Reality: This same image was circulated during 2016 Dhulagarh riots as well as that of a Hindu family being attacked. The image is originally from Bangladesh where a Hindu family was attacked. Read about it in this” target=”_blank”>2016 Lallantop article.


Kapoor’s profile mentions that she is a VP of a BJP Mahila Morcha and a psychological counsellor by profession. Perhaps in a case of confirmation bias, she too has fallen for an image that she must have received on WhatsApp or seen on one of the many sites that routinely peddle fake news.

Fake claim 3:

A Twitter user, @Sunil_Kashmir, who describes himself as a “Modi Bhakt” who wears his religion on his sleeve, shared this image of a man called Karthik Gosh, lunched (sic) by Muslims in Basirhat. The image is in form of a poster created for ease of sharing on social media.

Sunil Kashmir, Dear HIndus my name was karthik gosh and I was lunched by Muslims in bashirhat always remember me

Reality: This is an unrelated image of a person by the name of Kartik Chandra Methia, shared by Hindu Samhati and our Hindutva websites in 2014. The blogpost reports his murder and subsequent protests in Falta, South 24 Parganas. An article in the Times of India, reported that murder was solved in 2014 with the arrest of five people.

The first casualty in Baduria was a 65 year old man called Kartik Ghosh. Seeing the similarity in names, Hindutva handles seized this opportunity to circulate an old picture to fan an already tense situation.

Polarisation by media

In an already volatile situation, media could play a responsible role to stop the spread of rumours and calm tensions. It could help to bust the fake news and rumours that are doing rounds. What does it do instead?

Here are a few examples: Times Now featured polarising hashtags, #HindusOnHateList and #HindusDontCount. Zee News ran a show and posted a video on YouTube titled, “West Bengal is not safe for Indians but heaven for Muslims?” The special guest for the show was Tarek Fatah, the Canadian of Pakistani origin, who is particularly interested in Indian affairs and is known for his rabble-rousing views.


If we look at the propaganda websites, the situation is even more alarming. It has been “Mission West Bengal” for them since long. They have systematically shared fake news and propaganda over the last many months about West Bengal. The hate-mongering is now bearing fruit. Here is a screenshot of the propaganda about West Bengal from Postcardnews, which is only one of the many such right-wing propaganda sites.

Idealogical differences aside, it is worthwhile for people from all walks of life to reflect on who is really benefiting by spreading these rumours that destroy the social fabric of the country.

Circulation of fake news, morphed images and doctored videos has reached alarming levels. Repeated exposure only to a certain perspective leads to social conditioning at a young age. The 17 year old boy was perhaps not the one who photoshopped the offensive image yet he shared it without a second thought probably because of this social conditioning. There is absolutely no doubt that violence over a mere image is reprehensible. Growth in religious-mindedness has led to a growth in general intolerance all around us. People take offence over photoshopped images, paintings, depiction of characters in movies, you name it and there is someone somewhere who is upset. There are no winners in this race to offend and take offence.

The situation with fake news and photoshopped images is clearly getting out of hand. There is an urgent need for a multi pronged approach with efforts from online platforms and the government to control this epidemic of fake news. Morphed images are a dangerous tool in the hands of those who have a single-minded agenda to polarise and incite violence. It is not just irresponsible, it is criminal.

The vicious cycle of fake images in Basirhat riots

Related posts

Australia- the Native Title Act is now tainted by Adani, but our fight continues

It’s some weeks since the Parliament backed George Brandis’s distortion of the Native Title Act in the service of the mining lobby.

The dust has settled and we’re writing to let you know that our fight continues.

We were not beaten just because the major political players cut a dodgy deal under the veil of a manufactured crisis.

We are still in the courts fighting the mine. Our supporters in the community grow every day. And we are more resolved than ever to defeat this toxic mine proposal and its Government and media backers.

Last week we were honored to jointly receive the Ngara Institute’s Inaugural “Activist of the Year” award from Julian Burnside QC, and to have a generous testimonial from Naomi Klein.

And this week, we have launched our new “Adani, No Means No” t-shirt for people to show their support for our campaign.

Please buy one and share this with your friends. All proceeds go to our fight against Adani’s mine destroying our Country.

Your support and appreciation helps us greatly. And we will use it to continue our fight.

So while the Turnbull Government certainly delivered on its promise to Adani to ‘fix’ native title, it absolutely did not give Adani ‘the green light’.

The Native Title Act is now tainted by Adani. But it hasn’t stopped us. And we will stop them.

We have Adani, the Queensland Government and the Native Title Services body in the Federal Court until March 2018. Adani do not have a registered land use agreement with us and if we succeed with our litigation, they will never have one.

Please continue to assist us directly with donations to our Defence of Country fund. Even with the support of our dedicated legal team, we still have substantial costs to meet.

We maintain our resistance. And we want you to know that with your support we fought hard to stop the Native Title laws being weakened in the service of the mining lobby.

We held the changes off for months. We proved that there was no crisis or urgency. And we shone the light on the Turnbull Government’s manipulative and disingenuous conduct.

In that time, we had Adani on the ropes (and it took the intervention of the Attorney General George Brandis to save them). We got our litigation against the sham ‘agreement’ into the courts. We made progress.

In the end, only the Green Party held a line against the native title amendment bill; and for real native title reform underpinned by the consultation and consent of Traditional Owners around the country.

But even in the midst of this badly concocted outcome, the Federal Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus QC, recognised the strength of our ongoing resistance when he told the Parliament that:

The passing of the bill did not “provide some kind of removal of a final legal hurdle for the Adani mine, as some media reports have suggested. There are in fact several very serious pieces of litigation that remain on foot… In particular, the Wangan and Jagalingou people, the traditional owners of much of the land on which the mine and its facilities are proposed to be built, have several legal actions against Adani…

     “In particular, they have made clear that there are some very serious allegations of fraud against Adani regarding the processes under which the Wangan and Jagalingou agreement was purportedly reached. Those proceedings, which may very well impact on the validity of any Indigenous land use agreement, will only commence trial hearings in March of next year, and there are other legal actions underway, including a case that challenges the validity of the licences issued by the Queensland government”.

Our “unfinished business” with Adani and the State is far from over.

Please stand with our Family Council as we continue our Defence of Country.

Thank you for your commitment and support.

Adrian Burragubba & Murrawah Johnson

for the Wangan & Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council

Related posts

Sadhguru uses fake video from Africa to praise PM on Swacch Bharat, gets trolled

Self-proclaimed spiritual guru and known supporter of Prime Minister Narendra ModiSadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, on Thursday posted a video from Africa’s Kruger National Park and credited it to Swacch Bharat scheme.

In his tweet, Jaggi Vasudev posted a video of a bin trained elephant throwing rubbish in a black garbage box. But his tweet implied that it was all due to Modi’s Swacch Bharat scheme that even animals had become conscious of cleanliness.

He wrote, “#SwachhBharat has truly caught on. Congratulations to the Prime Minister. (sic)”

He even tagged Modi in his tweet.

sadhguru uses fake photo

Twitter users were quick to remind him that his photo was fake and the elephant being passed off as the one in India was actually from Africa’s Kruger National Park.

Also Read:  Narendra Modi government had no role in the transfer of Justice KM Joseph”

An article by Daily Mail published in November 2015 had written about this bin trained elephant, which used ‘its trunk to pick up and sipose of rubbish left on grass.’

Faced with public embarrassment, Vasudev then tweeted the original video saying that his intention was only to cause a brief humour.

He wrote, “I know this is a promotional video for a resort in S.A. Unfortunate the only humor that some people have is vitriol.”

He’s been a known supporter of Modi and publicly praised the latter’s demonetisation move.

In February this year, Modi had visited Vasudev’s Isha Foundation in Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.

Isha Foundation, according to a report by Scroll, has also been served several notices by the Town and Country Planning Department in 2012 on charges of flouting government rules. The site of the construction of Isha Foundation, Ikkarai Pooluvampatti village near Velliangiri hills (part of the Western Ghats), is notified under the Hill Area Conservation Authority.

There are also cases pending before the Madras High Court and the National Green Tribunal against the construction, believed to be spread over 13 lakh square feet, as environment activists allege that wildlife in the area would be impacted.

Janta Ka Reporter – Leading the Media Revolution in India

Related posts

Justice Chelameswar: “Set up constitution bench at the earliest to hear #Aadhaar matter “


The Supreme Court on Friday, July 7 heard applications for interim relief to stay notifications which make Unique Identification Number or Aadhaar, a biometrics-linked identity number for residents, mandatory for availing any benefits and entitlements. The applications are by the same petitioners whose challenge against the constitutionality of the Aadhaar Act is pending before a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court.


The notifications make Aadhaar mandatory for a number of schemes, including for children to get hot cooked meals, several scholarships for disabled students and students in SC. ST, OBC categories, schemes for relief for women rescued from trafficking, bonded labourers, and relief for Bhopal gas leak victims. The notifications make possession of an Aadhaar number, or proof of enrolment in Aadhaar database, mandatory.


Petitioners have prayed that imposing enrolment in Aadhaar as a pre-condition for availing social benefits violates the fundamental rights of citizens. It is causing denial of benefits to persons who are otherwise legally entitled to the benefits, at enrolment stages, as well as when they face biometric rejection, data errors, network errors, and other problems.


The hearing began with the senior counsel for the petitioners Shyam Divan taking the Bench through the earlier orders of the Supreme Court including those of 11th August 2015 and the 15th Oct 2015 which clearly stated that Aadhaar shall be purely voluntary. Divan emphasised that the case deals with a vital constitutional question as allowing Aadhaar project to go ahead unchecked in the manner, seeking linking aadhaar to almost every transaction and aspect in life, is effectively reducing the citizen into a 12-digit number and transforming the country into a concentration camp for the citizens.


The Court was of the view that given that the entire matter was before a Constitution Bench (it is now 696 days since a constitution bench was asked to me formed to finally decide on Aadhaar matter), and that the litigation on Aadhaar has been lingering on for years, the correct course would be for both the parties i.e. the petitioners and the government to jointly mention before and impress upon the Chief Justice to constitute a Constitutional Bench to finally dispose of the entire batch of petitions.  Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal who  was present in Court agreed to join Divan for a mentioning before the CJI early next week for that purpose.


The Bench also indicated that in the eventuality of CJI not being able to form a Constitution bench, petitioners may come back to the court and argue for interim relief.


These applications were earlier heard on 9th May and then on 27th June by a vacation bench consisting of Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Navin Sinha.  July 7 hearing was before a special three judge bench headed by Justice Chelameswar sitting with Justice Khanwilkar and Justice Sinha. Justice Chelameswar also headed the bench that passed the order dated 11th August 2015 that referred the batch of petitions challenging Aadhaar project to a constitution bench as it felt it required a definitive pronouncement on, among other issues, the issue of the existence and scope of a fundamental right to privacy under the Constitution of India.


The Friday’s hearing marks the first time that the government has agreed to mention before the CJI to constitute a larger bench to finally hear the constitutional challenge to the project and the Aadhaar Act.  In October 2015, government had mentioned before the then CJI Dattu to get the Constitution Bench only to hear and decide their applications for modifying the 11th August order.



Related posts

A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat Genocide

Robert J. Burrowes

It is a tragic measure of the depravity of human existence that genocide is a continuing and prevalent manifestation of violence in the international system, despite the effort following World War II to abolish it through negotiation, and then adoption and ratification of the 1948 ‘Genocide Convention‘.

According to the Genocide Convention, genocide is any act committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and/or forcibly transferring children of the
group to another group.

While this definition is contested because, for example, it excludes killing of political groups, and words such as ‘democide’ (the murder or intentionally reckless and depraved disregard for the life of any person or people by their government,) and ‘politicide’ (the murder of any person or people because of their political or ideological beliefs) have been suggested as complementary terms, in fact atrocities that have been characterized as ‘genocide’ by various authors include mass killings, mass deportations, politicides, democides, withholding of food and/or other necessities of life, death by deliberate exposure to invasive infectious disease agents or combinations of these. See ‘Genocides in history‘.

While genocide and attempts at genocide were prevalent enough both before World War II (just ask the world’s indigenous peoples) and then during World War II itself, which is why the issue attracted serious international attention in the war’s aftermath, it cannot be claimed that the outlawing of genocide did much to end the practice, as the record clearly demonstrates.

Moreover, given that the United Nations and national governments, out of supposed ‘deference’ to ‘state sovereignty’, have been notoriously unwilling and slow to meaningfully respond to genocides, as was the case in Rwanda in 1994 and has been the case with the Rohingya in Myanmar (Burma) for four decades –  as carefully documented in ‘The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya‘ – there is little evidence to suggest that major actors in the international system have any significant commitment to ending the practice, either in individual cases or in general. For example, as official bodies of the world watch, solicit reports and debate whether or not the Rohingya are actually victims of genocide, this minority Muslim population clearly suffers from what many organizations and any decent human being have long labeled as such. For a sample of the vast literature on this subject, see ‘The 8 Stages of Genocide Against Burma’s Rohingya‘ and ‘Countdown to Annihilation: Genocide in Myanmar‘.

Of course, it is not difficult to understand institutional inaction. Despite its fine rhetoric and even legal provisions, the United Nations, acting in response to the political and corporate elites that control it, routinely fails to act to prevent or halt wars (despite a UN Charter and treaties, such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact, that empower and require it to do so), routinely fails to defend refugees, routinely fails to act decisively on issues (such as nuclear weapons and the climate catastrophe) that constitute global imperatives for human survival, and turns the other way when peoples under military occupation (such as those of Tibet, West Papua, Western Sahara and Palestine) seek their

Why then should those under genocidal assault expect supportive action from the UN or international community in general? The factors which drive these manifestations of violence serve a diverse range of geopolitical interests in each case, and are usually highly profitable into the bargain. What hope justice or even decency in such circumstances?

Moreover, the deep psychological imperatives that drive the phenomenal violence in the international system are readily nominated: in essence, phenomenal fear, self-hatred and powerlessness. These psychological characteristics, together with the others that drive the behaviour of perpetrators of violence, have been identified and explained – see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘ – but it is the way these (unconsciously and deeply-suppressed) emotions are projected that is critical to understanding the violent (and insane) behavioural outcomes in our world. For brief explanations see, for example, ‘Understanding Self-Hatred in World Affairs‘ and ‘The Global Elite is Insane‘.

Given the deep psychological imperatives that drive the violence of global geopolitics and corporate exploitation (as well as national, subnational and individual acts of violence), we cannot expect a compassionate and effective institutional response to genocide in the prevailing institutional order, as the record demonstrates. So, is there anything a targeted population can do to resist a genocidal assault?

Fortunately, there is a great deal that a targeted population can do. The most effective response is to develop and implement a comprehensive nonviolent strategy to either prevent a genocidal assault in the first place or to halt it once it has begun. This is done most effectively by using a sound strategic framework that guides the comprehensive planning of the strategy. Obviously, there is no point designing a strategy that is incomplete or cannot be successful.

A sound strategic framework enables us to think and plan strategically so that once our strategy has been elaborated, it can be widely shared and clearly understood by everyone involved. It also means that nonviolent actions can then be implemented because they are known to have strategic utility and that precise utility is understood in advance. There is little point taking action at random, especially if our opponent is powerful and committed (even if that ‘commitment’ is insane which, as briefly noted above, is invariably the case).

There is a simple diagram presenting a 12-point strategic framework illustrated here in the form of the ‘Nonviolent Strategy Wheel‘.

In order to think strategically about nonviolently defending against a genocidal assault, a clearly defined political purpose is needed; that is, a simple summary statement of ‘what you want’. In general terms, this might be stated thus: To defend the [nominated group] against the genocidal assault and establish the conditions for the group to live in peace, free of violence and exploitation.

Once the political purpose has been defined, the two strategic aims (‘how you get what you want’) of the strategy acquire their meaning. These two strategic aims (which are always the same whatever the political purpose) are as follows: 1. To increase support for the struggle to defeat the genocidal assault by developing a network of groups who can assist you. 2. To alter the will and undermine the power of those groups inciting, facilitating, organizing and conducting the genocide.

While the two strategic aims are always the same, they are achieved via a series of intermediate strategic goals which are always specific to each struggle. I have identified a generalized set of 48 strategic goals that would be appropriate in the context of ending any genocide here.
These strategic goals can be readily modified to the circumstances of each particular instance of genocide.

Many of these strategic goals would usually be tackled by action groups working in solidarity with the affected population campaigning in third-party countries. Of course, individual activist groups would usually accept responsibility for focusing their work on achieving just one or a few of the strategic goals (which is why any single campaign within the overall strategy is readily manageable).

As I hope is apparent, the two strategic aims are achieved via a series of intermediate strategic goals.

Not all of the strategic goals will need to be achieved for the strategy to be successful but each goal is focused in such a way that its achievement will functionally undermine the power of those conducting the genocide.

It is the responsibility of the struggle’s strategic leadership to ensure that each of the strategic goals, which should be identified and prioritized according to their precise understanding of the circumstances in the country where the genocide is occurring, is being addressed (or to prioritize if resource limitations require this).

I wish to emphasize that I have only briefly discussed two aspects of a comprehensive strategy for ending a genocide: its political purpose and its two strategic aims (with its many subsidiary strategic goals). For the strategy to be effective, all twelve components of the strategy should be planned (and then implemented). See Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

This will require, for example, that tactics that will achieve the strategic goals must be carefully chosen and implemented bearing in mind the vital distinction between the political objective and strategic goal of any such tactic. See ‘The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions‘.

It is not difficult to nonviolently defend a targeted population against genocide. Vitally, however, it requires a leadership that can develop a sound strategy so that people are mobilized and deployed effectively

Robert J Burrowes, PhD

Robert J Burrowes

has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?

Related posts

Mobs Fight Pitched Battles, As For the First Time Since 1946 Communal Strife Sears Rural Bengal


KOLKATA: Pitched communal battles based on rumours being spread with unforeseen viciousness and ferocity by Hindu and Muslim fanatical groups in Basirhat, just about 100 km from Kolkata has exposed the faultlines in the body polity exploited by unscrupulous political interests.

Even at this moment, the fourth day since the violence erupted over a Facebook post, violence continues with the political leaders in the state capital also unable to differentiate any longer between the lie and the truth. Rumours are spreading so fast, and so furiously, of deaths and injuries and new attacks, that responsible politicians openly admit that they have little idea now of what is happening in the interiors of the state.

CPI(M) leader Mohammed Salim, well respected in the state regardless of political affiliation, said that reports could no longer be believed without adequate verification as rumours are flying, and distorted news is replacing facts. He said that except for the armed police forces Basirhat is almost sealed off, with political leaders unable to enter, and the state government invisible. “Mamata Banerjee and the BJP have been stoking the fires of communalism and these kind of incidents have been reported at different levels for the past few years, almost two or three such clashes of different magnitude each year,” Salim maintained.

In this case a Facebook morphed image of the Prophet allegedly by a schoolboy was almost immediately flashed across the social media, resulting in large Muslim mobilisation. In what became pitched battles between the two communities at the first instance in Badurai, (from where it spread to Basirhat and adjoining areas), the state government disappeared, and the extremists on both sides took over. The Muslims protested, indulged in violence and arson, demanding the boy be arrested. The state government initially arrested a family member that did not assuage the Muslim mobs, being instigated by various religious outfits. The schoolboy was detained later and claimed that he had not put up the post as he had lost his SIM card.

The Muslim mobs, however, were uncontrollable and wanted the police to hand over the boy to them. As local Muslims openly critical of this violence told the local media, the instigated Muslim mob attacked the family’s house in Baduria, vandalised it and set it ablaze in a terrifying show of violence. Fortunately the boy and his family were not in the house, having been arrested by the police by then.The mobs went on an orgy of violence and arson subsequently.

By the second day, the Hindu mobs instigated by rumours on the social media of the attacks, had taken over the ground with both communities pitched against each other while the state government watched. Rumours of all kinds swept the area, almost inciting a civil war in the area. Salim said that a RSS supported organisation Hindu Sanati was reportedly at the head of the propaganda, mobilising the community on the basis of such rumours. Trains were dislocated, with mobs of both communities out despite the police force.

This, Salim said, has been the first time that communal violence has been reported from rural Bengal and that too with such intensity, since Independence. And even during the Partition Basirhat remained incident free. Sources from the state said that the government had lost the plot and instead of taking action, rushing political representatives to the village urging calm, Mamata Banerjee went indoors.

On the third day of the violence, she held a press conference but did not speak of the measures taken to restore calm, and instead shared details of her spat with the state Governor.The media attention shifted almost entirely to the CM vs Governor story, but then as a Congress leader from the state said, “perhaps thats not such a bad thing given the damage the media does.”

However, the area has been sealed not by the security forces but by the mobs of both communities who continue to torch vehicles, throw petrol bombs, and gut whatever they can lay their hands on. Last night was the first when widespread clashes were not reported but although the Army has been deployed in North 24 Parganas the situation is far from normal.

Salim said that both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP were playing divisive politics. Added to by the various community organisations have become particularly active in the region, aided and encouraged by the so called mainstream political parties. Banerjee is trying hard to retain control over the state even as the BJP unable to make major inroads in the civic elections, has upped the ante on the communal front as well. The Congress is non-existent, and the battered CPI(M) largely ineffective.

However, Salim said that efforts were on by not just his party but civil rights and organisations to ensure that the polarisation did not spread beyond the affected belt. Everyone is working day and night to counter rumours and convince their specific areas of influence not to be taken in by the communalists of all hues, he told The Citizen. In his view “there are positive stories as well as many here know and understand what is happening and why.”

The situation is far from normal towards the fourth day of the violence with isolated incidents now being reported though, instead of mob clashes. However, the damage done is still to be assessed as the Internet services have been snapped, and no one outside the men in uniform has been able to enter the villages to assess the situation.


Related posts

Gujarat – Farmers march denied permission , leaders detained

A footmarch (padyatra) of farmers from Gandhi Ashram to Gandhinagar started today;

Permission denied; Freedoms denied;
Leaders and marchers detained;

The issues of farm distress in Gujarat are multiplying. Farmers are committing suicide, reeling under the enormous burden of nearly two decades of neglect of the farm sector by the ruling dispensation. Instead of addressing their issues and, at the very least, entering into a dialogue with them, the state government is using every repressive tactic at its disposal.

The ongoing agitation of farmers has been organising a series of protest actions – rallies, demonstrations, footmarches – to highlight the pitiful conditions of farmers in the state at various locations in Gujarat. Today, 7th July 2017, they had planned to take a footmarch from Gandhi Ashram to Gandhinagar to ask the elected representatives of the people as to what they are doing and intend to do for the farmers of Gujarat. Today’s footmarch is jointly led by Khedut Samaj-Gujarat (KSG) and the OBC Ekta Manch.

The footmarch started from Khet Bhavan near Gandhi Ashram and went to Gandhi Ashram where they garlanded the statue of Mahatma Gandhi. They then began to move towards Gandhinagar. They had just about reached near the Collector’s office when the police detained the leaders of the footmarch – Shri Sagar Rabari of KSG, Shri Alpesh Thakore of OBC Ekta Manch and other leaders and fellow marchers. The ostensible reason for the detention given by the police is that they were marching without police permission.

This is now the new normal in Gujarat. The police routinely deny permission and then crack down on protests. The voice of dissent in Gujarat is being smothered and democracy itself is in danger today. We urge the citizens of Gujarat to raise their voice and register their protest at this anti-democratic and unconstitutional acts of the Government of Gujarat.

Jayesh Patel

President, Khedut Samaj – Gujarat

Related posts

Karnataka – Condemn irresponsible police action and media reportage on LGBTIA issues

Image result for LGBTIA
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Coalition for Sex Workers and Sexual and sexuality Minorities’ Rights, Payana, Swabhava Trust, LesBit, Jeeva, Karnataka Transgender Samiti, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, and Sarayatha condemn the irresponsible, sensational and salacious reportage by media houses on the issue of LGBTIA rights. On Wednesday, July 5, Bangalore Mirror published on its front page a news item titled “All hell breaks loose as two women wed in Koramangala”.
The news item proceeded to give a one-sided account of the women’s relationship. It published salacious details about how their relationship started and went on to falsely claim that the women had gotten married. Further, the news item mentioned two quotes from lawyers saying that they were in an “unnatural union” and would be “punished”, and only one from a lawyer, who was misidentified, saying that same-sex relationships per se are not criminalized under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code 1860. At the same time, Public TV, a kannada news channel, also obtained the contact details of one of the women, and called her to appear on their show. When she refused, stating that she wished to keep her private life private, the reporter from Public TV told her to “wait and see”. Subsequently, Public TV uploaded perfunctorily blurred pictures of the women on their Facebook and Twitter feed, with captions insinuating that they were in an incestuous relationship. Public TV continues to harass one of the women by constantly calling her and demanding that she appear on this show.
In case anyone is doubtful about the repercussions of such irresponsible reportage- one of the women was fired from her employment with immediate effect, within a few hours of the Public TV report. As civil society organisations that work on the rights of LGBTIA individuals, we are horrified at the absolute lack of concern that media organisations demonstrate for the lives of people that they are reporting. We know that this is an incident that involves tremendous amounts of domestic violence and abuse. We are also aware that these women are living in constant fear for their lives. They have endured domestic violence, police harassment, and threats to their lives, and had achieved a semblance of peace for themselves.
However, the actions of media houses has shattered this hard-earned respite, and now they are again forced to be on the run. This is not the first time that media houses in Karnataka have chosen to report in this manner. TV9’s reporting on Operation Anandi had devastating impact on the lives of the transgender women involved, some of whom continue to languish in jail. Media houses refuse to acknowledge actual human lives in their reportage, and absolve all responsibility for consequences. Every time a media house publishes a report like this; LGBTIA persons are pushed further into the closet, and are made more vulnerable to violence.
Moreover, we understand that the police themselves have leaked much information to the media. It is disconcerting that in spite of closing all formal proceedings, the police continue to interfere in the lives of these women, and are harassing them using the media.
As a group of civil society organisations concerned for media reportage and its impact on the rights of LGBTIA persons, we are calling for a press conference tomorrow, July 6, 2017, at 1 pm, Bangalore Press Club.
Organisations: People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Coalition for Sex Workers and Sexual and sexuality Minorities’ Rights, Payana, Swabhava Trust, LesBit, Jeeva, Karnataka Transgender Samiti, Karnataka Sexual Minorities Forum, and Sarayatha

Related posts

Goa- Women Making Eco-Friendly Sanitary Pads That Decompose in 8 Days

Till now they have sold 1000 pads and they manufacture 50 packets in a day.

We are all well aware about the issues related to waste management in our country. With rapid urbanisation we are consuming lot of disposal items which can’t be recycled or reused. One such item is the sanitary pad. These one-time use pads are made of plastic and hence are non-biodegradable. This menstrual waste lands in our landfills or worse in our water bodies, thus polluting our ecology.

According to a 2011 survey, only 12 per cent women in India use sanitary napkins which still makes for at least 9,000 tonnes of garbage and India produces over 1 billion non-compostable sanitary pads every month. And with modernisation this number is continuously increasing.

“Society in India still being largely conservative and patriarchal in nature, menstrual hygiene management has still not been planned well and women face issues in disposing sanitary pads in an appropriate manner,” says Sumit Singh, governance expert on Swachh Bharat Mission, Urban Development Department, Government of Goa. He further adds, “Sanitary pads are generally disposed with mixed waste or in dry waste bin category of door-to-door waste collection if the facility is available. This again poses problems to sanitation staff while segregating waste at processing plants. If the waste is simply dumped at a landfill site, it poses health hazards to waste pickers. In some of the progressive cities, municipal authorities raise awareness about wrapping the pad in old newspaper and marking it with a red cross before disposing it in dry waste bin. Some of the housing societies and girls schools have also started installing small incinerators to dispose sanitary pads. However, initiatives like this cover a miniscule portion of the population and all of the women living in urban and rural areas have to face the issue every month.”


However now there are few initiatives by individuals and groups to manufacture eco-friendly pads.

The Self Help Group (SHG) named Saheli in Pilgao village in Bicholim taluka of Goa is the first SHG in Goa to manufacture and sell eco-friendly sanitary pads.

Jayshree Parwar, with the help of three other women, has started this initiative around two years ago. These pads are manufactured at Jayshree’s home where utmost care is taken regarding hygiene and sanitation. Till now they have sold 1000 pads and they manufacture 50 packets in a day. One packet consists of eight pads and its retail cost is Rs 40. They sell it under the brand name ‘Sakhi’ bio-degradable sanitary pads. “We get all our raw material from Tamil Nadu. The main component of it is the pine wood paper. This pad when buried in mud gets degraded within eight days,” says Jayshree who has taken this initiative of making and selling these pads.


She was trained by Dr Subbu Nayak and is now confident of this product and has trained other women—Naseeen Shaikh, Sulaksha Tari and Revati Parwar, who hail from the same village of Pilgao.

Jayshree was the first who showed confidence in accepting this challenge of installing and running a unit for manufacturing sanitary pads in her house. “When the company, Teerathan Enterprises, had approached a federation of 48 SHGs in the Panchayat with the offer of installing the unit free of cost, most of the SHGs shied away from accepting the offer mainly out of a feeling of shame. Jayshree accepted the challenge and has been running the unit for the last two years,” says Singh.

These sanitary pads consist of pine wood paper, silicon paper, butter paper, non-woven paper and cotton. They are UV light radiated which helps kills germs.

“Sanitary napkins made from artificial fibres cause allergies and irritation to the delicate skin in the vaginal area.

These napkins made from pine fibre, as they are natural, will help prevent these,” says Dr Anita Dudhane, allergist and clinical immunologist, practicing in Goa.

Jayshree further informs that eco-friendly pads are a good option for village women. Most of them use cloth pads which may not be a hygienic option and those who use sanitary pads tend to burn them by making a hole in the ground. But this practice produces hazardous gases like dioxins.

Marketing and sale of eco-friendly pads

As there is no retail outlet of this SHG, they sell it at various cultural fests like Lokotsav (annual art and culture festival organised by Government of Goa in joint collaboration of West Zone Cultural Centre, Udaipur in Panaji, Goa) and also at a café like Saraya Art Café at Sangolda. But, this journey is not easy for Jayshree. “Many a time women are hesitant to talk about this issue. Also sometimes girls are hesitant to look at these products when I put up a stall at these events. At that time I try to convince them that it is not something to be shameful about. We all go through this every month and we need to talk about it,” says Jayshree who has her regular clientele from her village and she also supplies to women customers from Kerala, Mangalore and Kolhapur. She is also positive with the response she is getting from her customers and also from her two daughters. She states that now her daughters are more confident and feel comfortable while using this product.

Now due to this product this SHG has got its unique identity. It has also given confidence to Jayshree to go out and talk about this topic and taboo associated with it. Jayshree informs that till now she has 50-odd women customers who are using this product. Most of these customers are the village women of Pilgao. These women are not only choosing it compared to their cloth pads but at the same time educating young girls about it. This product gives them a sense of confidence and freedom to go out and achieve their goals. One such customer is Afroz Sheikh who is now happy with this product. “Its main advantage is that it is chemical free. Also it is very convenient to use especially when we are travelling. With cloth pads it was quite a hassle as one had to wash it, dry it. But, this is a one-time use and also easy to dispose off. I am now also telling school and college going girls to use it as it is very beneficial to them.”

Another customer Niyati Patre from Mapusa city also opted for this. “The main reason I bought it was because it was eco-friendly. It was nice to know that I am not adding to bio-medical waste as it is biodegradable. The only issue I have is with its size. I wish it could be little bigger so it would be more beneficial especially during heavy flow days,” says Niyati.

Jayshree in future also wants to manufacture eco-friendly diapers as they are also in demand.

Looking at the commitment of Jayshree and the SHG many individuals and organisations are coming forward to help them to market this product.

One is the Goa Institute of Management (GIM).  “Goa Institute of Management, Sakhali with intension to help the helped ones, started an ABHIGYAN “GIVEGOA”. Under this all first year students have to learn more from the community. This year we would like to help this lady from Sakhali with her maiden venture of ‘Sakhi: Green pads’. We would brand them, promote them, and create a market place. As they are cost positive and nature friendly a big market is waiting for them,” says Prof Vithal Sukhathankar of GIM.

Jayshree also spoke and interacted with SHGs and citizens in Bicholim and Valpoi during the city stakeholders meet on Swachh Bharat Mission about this product.

Singh, who will help her marketing, adds, “I am planning to help her connect to the large network of SHGs working in urban areas. It will help Jayashree in getting a broad consumer base for her market without spending on marketing of the product, other SHGs will benefit in getting eco-friendly sanitary pads and it also provides them a potential livelihood opportunity to install and run similar plants.” He is also planning to introduce these eco-friendly sanitary pads to women in colonies selected for Smart Colony – Smart Ward initiative in all municipalities of Goa on pilot basis. He is hopeful that looking at Jayshree more SHGs from Goa will come forward. He has also received confirmation from one SHG to start the same. “If more SHGs start the unit, then raw material of sanitary pads which is currently brought through transport from Chennai can be manufactured by companies in Goa. This will further reduce the cost and make it more accessible in less privileged sections of society,” says Singh


Related posts