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#Sundayreading – Counting 116 Moonlit Nights… Gulzar Sahib


photo courtesy: Gokry M.

photo courtesy: Gokry M.

In one of the most memorable songs penned by Gulzar sahib i.e. Mera Kuch Saamaan the last stanza makes a mention about 116 moon lit nights (ek sau solah chaand ki raatein) that were spent together. Why is it 116 and not any other number? Did Gulzar sahab try to indicate that the couple was together for four months (with four new moons)? Or is it just a random number? The significance is not in the number but in the fact that somebody kept a count of it. For someone to keep count of it the emotional value and the worth of that togetherness must be enormous!

So when it is said that of the 101 years of Indian cinema Gulzar has been a part of it for 55 years its not mere statistics but an emotionally loaded statement which underlines the emotional value cine lovers attach to the name and works of Gulzar who has contributed to cinema in various capacities as lyricist, screenplay writer, dialogue writer and as a director.


It is said that Meena Kumari had the habit of collecting pebbles and assigning names to them and also giving them some characteristics. She used to introduce her pebbles to everyone on the set. While everyone laughed at it Gulzar, it is said, saw all those humans that Meena saw in those pebbles.

When Pluto was considered as not a planet Gulzar wrote a poem on the abandonment and in an interview he said it reminded him of his own position in his family. Gulzar sees life even in non-living objects and also feels for them. Such is his sensitivity.

He was once slapped by Ritwik Ghatak with great affection. But the slap was a bit hard. Gulzar sees it as a melodramatic expression of love. Even when hit hard he sees the beauty in it and he sees melodrama which is intrinsic to Ghatak in that slap which he calls as expression. Remembering his troubled relationship with his father he says there was some beauty in the way his father abused him. His reference is to the language used while abusing. Gulzar saw poetry in everything and everything he did got a poetic touch.

Meena Kumari was a poet who wrote in the pseudonym Naaz. She left her diary of poems with Gulzar before dying which Gulzar has published with some modifications. To see the original and the modified gives a glimpse of what make a genius a genius.

He not just sees poetry in everything but also has the ability to turn anything into good poetry.


photo courtesy: internet

photo courtesy: Chakmak magazine

In an interview to Nasreen Munni Kabir he said that his temperament matches to that of poetry to a great extent.

In the very same interview to Nasreen Munni Kabir, Gulzar sahib says, “If I want to show you a sunset in my film, I would have to go through many processes to do that- a camera lens, different focal points, etc. whereas if you read a poem of mine that describes a sunset, it would be a first hand description of how I had imagined it.” This personal imagination which makes the same image look differently with every new description new poem new expression holds so good while looking at the image of moon that Gulzar has repeatedly used several times but differently.

In one of his non-film albums Visaal with Ghulam Ali one of his couplets reads, “Chaand Jitney Bhi Ghum Huye Shab Kay, Sab Ke Ilzaam Merey Sar Aaye.” These stolen moons can be seen in his various creative writings in different forms. Like the song fromOmkaara begins he can say, “Main Chaand Nigal Gayi,” changing the gender. He has internalized moon in different ways and given extremely different descriptions. It is a beggar’s bowl once (Merey Apney), then in another place a bag, in another place a fifty paise coin (Aandhi) and in another place a ‘theeka’ (Bunty Aur Bubli)

Similarly one can see variations in the way Gulzar describes water/wetness and also the sun.

Gulzar sahab is of the belief that some of the lyricists who are senior to him were not lyricists committed to the film medium where they are expected to write according to the character, according to the story, according to the subject. Gulzar makes his lyrics rooted in the characters in the story in the situation. The “lai le” in his first song “Mora Gora Ang Lai Ley,” (Bandini) is the rural touch Gulzar gives because the character is based out of a rural setting. The lyrics of the man who used words like ‘saundhi’, ‘sila’ etc writes the song, “Goli Maar Bheje Mein,” (Satya) when the story the character demands for it. The expression in such a context also becomes, “Khaali si rikshaw.” It shows not just the range of the creative writer but also his understanding of the characters his understanding of the story his understanding of the situation.

In the film Namkeen directed by Gulzar sahib the daughter asks, “Yeh Kaun Sa Shabd Hai?” and the mother reacts saying, “Shabd Nahi, Lafz Bolo.” This suddenly shows the difference between the two characters and helps in understanding the two worlds the two characters belong to and gives us a texture of the characters. While the women in his filmsMausam and Hu Tu Tu do abuse in films like Kitaab the child says, “Pehle Kehti Thi Doodh Piyunga Toh Badaa Ho Jaaunga Ab Kehti Ho Padhoonga Likhoonga Toh Badaa Aadmi Banoonga,” and in Maasoom the child asks, “Main Paidhaa Hee Nahi Hoti Toh Kya Hota?” not just define the characters but are also organically coming out of the character who is shaped by the atmosphere in which s/he lives. Because it is true to the nature of the characters the character Anand referring to a fat man as “motey” in the film Anand doesn’t come across as demeaning because the character is a playful character.

The shift from ‘lafz’ to ‘shabd’ is also suggestive of the erosion of the language Urdu in independent India. Gulzar mentions that the language he uses is Hindustani which was also a language that Gandhi was in favour of. But because Hindustani as a language is not existing now the language is called Urdu as it is more close to Urdu than to Hindi.

In the post independent India Hindustani eroded and so did Urdu with more and more Sanskritization of Hindi and labeling of Urdu as Muslim language, which is not true. The sanitization of Hindi is well reflected in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee film Chupke Chupke for which Gulzar wrote the screenplay and dialogues. The role played by Urdu writers in Bombay cinema- Sahir Ludhianvi, Kaifi Azmi, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Shakeel Badayuni, Jaan Nisaar Akthar, Krishan Chander, Rajendar Singh Bedi, Javed Akthar and also Gulzar- is enormous in keeping Urdu alive in the independent India where it was being branded as a Muslim language.

Photo: Anwar

Photo: Anwar

Gulzar says that Hindustani is a language which adopts local flavor. Gulzar who locates himself in the Hindustani tradition has adopted himself to the changing times. He believes that with time sensibilities also change and with it poetry also changes. Gulzar’s lyrics started incorporating the English terms such as “personal se sawaal” and terms like, “email”, “beedi,” “ashtray” in his works. But in the same breath he utters “beedi” and also words like “gilaaf” and ‘lehaaf” to ensure that language does not erode. The line is contemporary and rich with heritage.

Gulzar knows the tradition he belongs to and has consciously made efforts to keep it alive. Metaphoric to this would be his film Kitaab. The central story of the film is based on a short story by Samaresh Basu. But Gulzar while adapting it he fits the story of Basu within a story of his own-Daadi Aur Das Paise and writes the screenplay. Within his work he invokes the story of another writer. This is metaphoric of an entire tradition a culture being within Gulzar sahib.

Looking at the films of Gulzar one is to find that Mausam is based on The Judas Tree (AJ Cornin), Parichay on Rajkumar Maitra’s novel, Namkeen based on Samaresh Basu’s novel, Angoor on Shakespeare’s play, Ijaazat based on Subodh Ghosh’ story, Kushubooon Sharatchandra Chaterjee’s writing. These show us that within Gulzar is a tradition and that Gulzar knows the legacy to which he belongs.

This can be seen even in his lyrics. In the song, “Dil Doondta Hai,” Gulzar is taking a flight from a couplet of Ghalib which originally is Jee Doondta Hai which became Dil because of the composer Madan Mohan. He invokes Ghalib even in his song Satrangee Re from the film Dil Sey. The song Chaiiyya Chaiiya from the same film is taking off from Bulleh Shah, the song Raah Pe Rehtey Hai from the film Namkeen has the line, “khush raho aye ahl-e-watan hum to safar kartey hai,” where Gulzar is invoking Wajid Ali Shah and in the songZeehaal-E-Muskin from the film Ghulaami,Gulzar invokes Amir Khusro. These can be seen Gulzar’s tribute to all of them and also as Gulzar identifying and revealing the tradition that he belongs to.

Gulzar had once said that all the languages that he has within him become his. He had also said that he has inherited from Tukaram, from Bulle Shah, Fair and Namdev and that he belonged to the tradition of all these writers and that all of them are a part of his consciousness.

So Gulzar has been one among the several Urdu writers who has kept the tradition and language of Urdu alive in India. The relationship between Urdu and Bombay cinema songs can be best described with the line of Gulzar: Woh Yaar Hai Jo Kushboo Ki Tarha Jis Ki Zabaan Urdoo Ki Tarha. Not just through his songs but also through his tele serials Gulzar has kept the Urdu tradition alive. The most famous of his tele serials being ‘Tahreer Munshi Premchand Ki’ and ‘Mirza Ghalib.’ Both Premchand and Ghalib were celebrated Urdu writers.

In the poem that Gulzar as an introduction to his tele-serial Mriza Ghalib after describing the locality of Balli Maaran- where Ghalib’s house is located, Gulzar in the last two lines lifts the poem to a higher level. These minor touches which life the work to a higher level is seen again and again in many of his lyric writing. Take for example the song from Sadma, “Aye Zindagi Galey Laga Ley,” where after questioning life, “Humney Bhi Terey Har Ek Gam Ko Galey Sey Lagaaya Hai,” adds the question, “Hai Na?” which throws the ball in the court of life and asks life to answerable and holds life accountable. Just the question “Hai Na?” lifts the lyrics to a higher level. Similarly in the song “Tujhse Naaraaz Nahi Zindagi” the usage of the word “Maasoom” before “Sawaal” adds great beauty and depth to the lyrics.

These small additions which add beauty and make the lyrics tasteful are like the pinch of salt added to food. Salt is something that adds taste and hence Gulzar refers to ‘Ishq’ as ‘Namak’ which when added in the right amount makes the food (read life) tasteful and food (taste) without it is bland and tasteless. The usage of ‘Namak’ too is like that pinch of salt which adds not just taste but also depth and takes the lyrics to a higher level.

In the film Hu Tu Tu at one point Aadi’s father shouts saying, “Tum Sawaal Bahut Kartey Ho” to which Aadi politely responds saying, “Lekin Jawaab Bhi Toh Nahi Miltey.” This again shows that Gulzaresque touch which lifts the scene to a higher level and also shifts the weight. This and the use of “Hai Na?” in the song, “Aye Zindagi Galey Lagaa Ley,” are like a hit back in tennis, a game Gulzar plays daily, which throws the ball in the oppositions court so well that the opposition is left with no answer. In both places with just a small twist Gulzar adds great value to the existing.

In the film Masoom when tension erupts between the husband and wife is changing the saree and the husband enters the room and the wife covers her body and runs into the bathroom. These small Gulzaresque touches take the narrative to a different level.

Such moments come repeatedly in his films which make us wonder if the screenplay written by Gulzar can be called screenPLAY or should they be renamed as screenPOESY for they are more poetic than dramatic.

photo: Daya Kukkaje

photo: Daya Kukkaje

Gulzar had made his entry into cinema by working as an assistant director to Bimal Roy. He was suggested as a lyricist to Bimal Roy by Shailendar. But Gulzar considered cinema to be inferior to literature and hesitated to write. So Bimal Roy is said to have asked Gulzar to assist him and only later under circumstances he got into writing lyrics and screenplay and dialogues. But when he started to write he wrote in such a fashion that his scripts became kings and the films became heavily script centric and to an extend shifted the weight of the film from director to the screenwriter.

Even as a lyricist he added to the storyline. In adding and underlining he became a co-writer of the film. For example Dil Sey is a film where the Sufiyaana undertone of the film comes out only in the lyrics written by Gulzar. By bringing out the Sufiyaana element Gulzar also becomes a co-writer of the film and not just lyricist.

Gulzar was closely associated with the Progressive Writer’s Association which believes in literature for social change. He says that his association with the PWA did have a great impact on him and calls himself a “soft communist” though he diverged from the ways of expression from that of PWA writers. These influences come out while writing lines like, “Din Khaali Khaali Bartan Hai…” in the song “Ek Akela Iss Shehar Mein,” written for the filmGharonda, where he continues to say, “Aur Raat Hai Jaise Andha Kuaan,” making the hunger and thirst particular and universal at the same time and extending the hunger and thirst to more than starvation to existential starvation and deprivation. There is an auditory imagination to the double use of the word “khaali khaali” for when spoke into an empty vessel there is a slight echo. The bartan used in the song also echoes with its emptiness making the word “khaali” echo once. The soong, ‘Theek Thaak Hai” from Merey Apney is also a reflection of the deep social concerns of Gulzar sahib.

His non-filmi album on Kabir Abida Parveen is also a reflection of the progressive nature of Gulzar and also his efforts to keep a tradition a legacy alive.

The progressive nature of Gulzar is reflected also in his women characters who are quite independent and strong. In the film Aandhi there is a lady who follows the will of her heart, in Namkeen there are four women living their own ways, In Ijaazat there is a women who doesn’t want to marry and another lady who moves out of marriage and remarries. InMausam the girl is a sex worker and holds grudge against the man who had betrayed her mother. Merey Apney is about a widow’s truggle. Sanjiv Kumar is said to have famously said about Gulzar, “Har Baar Kehta Hai Meri Film Hai, Magar Hoti Hamesha Aurat Ki Hai.”

Gulzar’s progressive nature is seen also in his depiction of handicapped people inKoshish and challenging the education system in Kitaab. Gulzar’s initiative to work, in real life, with children and for Aman Ki Aasha (for the betterment of Indo-Pak relations) are also reflection of his progressive nature. His poem for Aman Ki Aasha says, ‘Aankhon Ko Visa Nahi Lagta, Sapnon Ki Sarhad Hoti Nahi,” and another poem appeals, “Inn Lakeeron Ko Zameen Per Hee Rehne Do, Inhe Dil Pe Na Utaaro.” Being a victim of partition and having had nightmares of partition riots for over two decades when Gulzar writes these lines it not just makes great impact but also shows the craving one has to find his land his home back.

Photo: Anil Bedge

Photo: Anil Bedge

Like his experiment with the form which led him to inventing a new form called Triveni he did his experiments in the world of entertainment too. He cut two non-filmi albums with Abishek Ray titledUdaas Paani and Raat Chaad Aur Main. These two albums have Gulzar reciting poems with the music and aalaap of Abhishek Ray in the background. This has been the most unique of non-filmi albums amidst a lot of mediocre and below average music albums the late 20th century and early 21st century saw. The experiment was also seen in his album with Vishaal Bharadwaaj, Bhupendir Singh and Chitra titled Sunset Point. These are unique gems in the world of entertainment like Gulzaar’s films and teleserials.

Gulzar worked closely with music directors of generations from Salil Chaudhary to AR Rehman and Abhiskek Kapoor and Vishaal Bharadwaj. But his closest association was with RD Burman.

It is said that when Gulzar went to RD Burman with the song, “Mera Kuch Saamaan,” RD Burman looked at the free verse and said, “Get Times of India tomorrow with you and I will compose for that.” This episode speaks of the faith Gulzar had in his poetry for he was not demoralized by the words of RD Burman. The song went on to win the national award for best lyrics that year.

RD Burman once told Gulzar that when he composes songs he has the face of the singer in his mind. Meaning while he is composing slowly a face emerges before his mind’s eye. Sometimes of Lata sometimes of Asha sometimes Kishore. RD Burman added to it, “While composing some songs the face that appears before my eyes is of yours.” The experience is similar to several cine lovers whose mind’s eye sees the face of Gulzar when they hear any reference made to the songs of Bombay cinema.


Gulzar’s father on discovering his love for poetry had said that he will have to live a life dependent on his siblings. Gulzar had a great zeal to prove his father wrong and he did. In one of his poems he tells his dad his fear of poetry drowning him someday hasn’t come true and says he is still afloat and also expresses his desire to keep floating and never returning to the shore.

Stay afloat a paper boat carrying poems. Take along with you my congratulations…

[Originally written for the Sunday Magazine of Vijayavani, a Kannada newspaper. Published on 20 April, 2014 to mark and celebrate Phalke award being conferred on Gulzar]


The english tranlsation by Samvartha Sahil –


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Radical activist sentenced to read Malcolm Gladwell #WTFnews

A punishment cruel and unusual: A jailed 90’s environmentalist faces a harsh, moralizing sentence

Radical activist sentenced to read Malcolm Gladwell

A radical environmental activist in the 90′s, Rebecca Rubin was sentenced Monday for taking part animal rights-related arsons allegedly perpetrated by the collective “The Family” over a decade ago.

Rubin has refused to give evidence against any other activists to federal prosecutors, accounting, some say, for her considerable sentence of five years in prison (determined by minimum sentencing laws — a scourge of the legal system).

The details of Rubin’s punishment are nothing short of cruel and unusual. She was ordered to pay more than $13 million in restitution upon her release and perform 200 hours of community service. Add to this the bizarre requirement that she read Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath” — the author’s sweeping work of pop science with a message to “misfits and underdogs” that essentially combines non-violence and capitulation, undergirded by an appeal to a scientific method with far-reaching topic matter, and little argumentative strength.

Of “David and Goliath”‘s core message, Gladwell himself said: “The fact of being an underdog changes people in ways that we often fail to appreciate. It opens doors, and creates opportunities and educates and permits things that might otherwise have seemed unthinkable.”

Demanding a jailed activist — who has remained resistant to years of state intimidation — read such a work seems not-so-subtly dystopian. Gladwell as state-enforced antidote to rebellion.

One hopes that Rubin’s supporters send her ample countervailing reading supplies, too.

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email [email protected]


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India – Politics: AAP[alling] Drama – Media Commentary



Arvind Kejriwal and friends

Arvind Kejriwal and friends (Photo credit: vm2827)


The Hindu, January 22, 2014


The antics of a Chief Minister

Until reason prevailed, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was not
merely sitting in dharna in Delhi, he was also toying with the
people’s trust and endangering their hopes for an alternative form of
politics and administration. By holding the city to ransom until he
called it off last evening, he was violating the mandate of those who
voted for his party in the belief that he would place the public
interest above political posturing. And by making the patently
unjustified demand that police officers who refused to comply with his
Minister’s illegal orders be suspended, he was undermining the rule of
law. It is strange that he should be defending vigilantism by his
Ministers. The drama began last week when Ministers in the AAP
government embarked on law enforcement, in a fit of
self-righteousness, against purported prostitution and drug-peddling.
In one instance, their target was a group of Ugandan women, who were
detained, vilified and forced to give urine samples, with groups of
vigilantes hovering nearby. Forgotten here was the fact that Indian
law does not permit arbitrary search and seizure, especially involving
women in the dead of the night. Delhi’s Law Minister Somnath Bharti
demonstrated astonishing ignorance of the fact that the law on immoral
trafficking aims to rescue and protect victims of trafficking, and not
to capture them. The External Affairs Ministry had to assure diplomats
from African countries that the incident was an aberration, and not to
be viewed as an instance of how the country treats African nationals.
Surprisingly, the police are yet to proceed against Mr. Bharti; nor
has Mr. Kejriwal thought it fit to drop him from his Cabinet.

Mr. Kejriwal sought to give a veneer of political legitimacy to his
absurd drama by raising the larger demand that the Delhi Police, now
under the Union Home Ministry, be made accountable to the Delhi
government, as he wants to ensure better security for the people of
Delhi. There is nothing new in this demand and it is hardly the kind
of issue for which the Chief Minister should plunge the city into
anarchy. Bringing the Delhi Police under the State government involves
amendments to the law and a process of calm negotiation. If at all
there is a political explanation for his actions, it is that Mr.
Kejriwal wants to invite the dismissal of his government, or at least
withdrawal of support by the Congress, so that he can face the Lok
Sabha election in the garb of a martyr. It was time he put his party
and his government on a proper course and called off the unseemly
agitation. A certain directness, simplicity and a move away from the
VIP culture did mark a welcome change, but Mr. Kejriwal should guard
against the new style degenerating into antics.

o o o

Daily News and Analysis

Editorial: Failing a promise

Jan 21, 2014

AAP came to power promising an alternative politics, but Somnath
Bharti’s actions and the party’s defence of them is not the way to go
about it.

In the aftermath of Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti’s actions last
week, the escalating drama has rapidly created a situation where the
main issues at stake have become tangled to their detriment. And chief
minister Arvind Kejriwal’s protest outside Rail Bhavan — doubling down
in the standoff with the police and central government stemming from
last week — is further obfuscating them, creating a confused mix of
pertinent ends and faulty means. There are two main elements here. The
first is law and order for the capital being within the central
government’s purview rather than with the state administration. This
is an administrative oddity that serves no particular purpose,
undercuts the latter and enables police corruption and
ineffectiveness. AAP is not alone in arguing the point; former chief
minister Sheila Dikshit has spoken of this in the past, and so has the
BJP. The other element is the incident last week that catalysed the
current situation, and AAP’s continued backing of Bharti’s actions.
This is far more problematic.

The criminal case now registered against Bharti and multiple accounts
of Wednesday night’s events have made this much clear: the manner in
which Bharti and his cohort compelled the Nigerian and Ugandan women
to be detained and subjected to medical tests was at best extra-legal,
and at worst an instance of mob justice. Neither did the law minister
appear to have a clear understanding of the limits of his authority —
or the police’s — when he harangued police officers for not following
his instructions and raiding a house he alleged was a hub of
prostitution and drug dealing.  Laws preventing the authorities from
freely taking action against individuals on the basis of suspicion are
among the strongest barriers to state overreach. If the current
protest is predicated on the assumption that putting the Delhi police
under the state government’s control would compel it to fulfil AAP’s
demands, no matter the circumstances, it is a dangerous one.

As troubling is the strong element of racism in the entire affair.
Bharti’s rhetoric hasn’t helped in this regard. When he warns that
foreigners will be tolerated only if they are “good people”, he is
employing a familiar rhetoric, that of groups like the Shiv Sena and
Bajrang Dal. And by accusing the BJP and the Congress of harbouring
pimps and supporting drug dealing and prostitution, he has employed
the crude tactics of mainstream parties where nuance is an ignored
concept and with-us-or-against-us polemics are the order of the day.

AAP now faces a choice. There is legitimate anger in the capital
against its police force and racism against African nationals is an
unfortunately widespread sentiment. If Kejriwal chooses to tap into
these sentiments, explicitly or implicitly, he may well find that his
party has popular support. It may even be a canny move politically; by
taking on the police and underlining its lack of control over them,
the AAP government is putting itself in a position to disavow all
responsibility for rape cases and other law-and-order problems. But
this would be bargaining away a vital element of AAP’s promise. It has
come to power on a plank of alternative politics. Such a politics does
not include only matters of governance and corruption, but race and
sex as well. Defending Bharti’s actions — and conflating them with a
needed reform — is no part of it.

o o o

Financial Times

January 21, 2014 1:24 pm

Delhi’s AAP accused of failing to swap activism for governance

By Amy Kazmin in New Delhi

Push comes to shove: supporters of Arvind Kejriwal break police
barricades in New Delhi on Tuesday

When India’s year-old Aam Aadmi, or Common Man, party, unexpectedly
took power in Delhi last month, euphoric residents of the city hoped
for a much-needed revolution in governance from a party rooted in a
popular anti-corruption movement.

But the AAP’s political honeymoon is ending fast, as its
street-fighting tactics, including vigilantism and protests threaten
to alienate the middle-class voters who helped propel it into power
and raise its aspirations for a bigger role on the national political

“In my view, the AAP’s magic has lost its shine,” says Dipankar Gupta,
sociologist and author of books on India. “On the national front, the
AAP has kind of blown it. Either they don’t have a game plan, or they
are not able to plot their strategy properly.”

Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s chief minister, on Tuesday called off a
36-hour street protest he had instigated to back his demand that
authority over Delhi’s police be transferred from the national
government to the local administration.

The demonstration, and the police closure of metro stations and
blocking of main roads to prevent AAP supporters from joining the
protest, caused serious traffic jams and huge problems for commuters.

The rabble-rousing tactics have also prompted fierce criticism that
the AAP is failing to make the transition from activism to governance.
It has even fuelled speculation that Mr Kejriwal is angling for the
Congress party, which has backed his minority administration, to
withdraw its support and spare him the difficulties of governing the
city of 17m people.

“Delhi govt goes missing,” screamed a banner headline in The Indian
Express newspaper on yesterday morning. Inside, a scathing editorial
said: “Despite heading a state government now, Arvind Kejriwal’s party
seems to know only one trick – that of showy, permanent insurrection.”

The AAP’s stunning electoral upset in Delhi – on the back of strong
middle-class support – prompted talk of it as a wild card in upcoming
parliamentary elections, offering a fresh alternative to voters fed up
with both India’s ruling Congress and its rival Bharatiya Janata

They’ve brought in a militant protest culture and a confrontational attitude

– Swapan Das Gupta, political analyst

But even before Mr Kejriwal’s street protest, serious doubts had
emerged about the new administration’s style that critics say seems
rooted in vigilantism or mob rule.

Its first step in the battle against corruption has been a new
telephone hotline that coaches citizens on how to carry out sting
operations against bribe-seekers. Party volunteers dispatched to
assess state facilities like schools and hospitals were accused of
manhandling the staff.

Then last week, Somnath Bharti, the AAP’s law minister, led a mob in a
controversial raid in which four Ugandan women complained of being
held hostage in their car for hours. Other African women complained
that mobs tried to kick down their doors.

Mr Kejriwal’s street protest – which began with the Delhi police’s
refusal to obey Mr Bharti’s orders to arrest the Ugandan women without
proper warrants – amplified doubts.

“This is the instinct of people who have always agitated,” Swapan Das
Gupta, a political analyst, said of the current demonstration.

“They’ve brought in a militant protest culture and a confrontational
attitude. They will certainly alienate the middle class. Chaos is
something they don’t want.”

Additional reporting by Avantika Chilkoti in Jaipur.

o o o

The Times of India


Aam admi copout

Jan 22, 2014, 12.05 AM IST

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has said that his government is open to
learning, as well as criticism from media. He should therefore be open
to the idea that it’s a chief minister’s job to govern with whatever
tools he has at his disposal (and they are plenty). A government
resorting to dharna and placing the national capital under siege is a
copout. If AAP’s unprecedented moves in this direction are designed to
tempt Congress to pull the plug from their government and thereby prop
up popular support for itself, it’s a pointless political gimmick.

AAP’s core support base — on which it is relying not only to sustain
itself but also to scale up rapidly across the country — is the
educated middle class and youth. The middle class is unlikely to fall
for such gimmickry. It will find mainstream parties’ taunt, that
Kejriwal plays opposition leader even as CM because AAP lacks the
capacity to govern, more credible. Youth value jobs and personal
freedom, they will bolt when they find AAP policies militate against
both. Congress could well refuse Kejriwal’s temptation and string AAP
along, till the latter makes a complete mess of governance.

AAP has resorted to a cruel parody of the Gandhian idea of dharna. In
Gandhi’s time colonial authorities enjoyed absolute power, dharnas and
strikes were the only available means of protest to people stripped of
power. But Kejriwal appears to be using his dharna to reach for
absolute power. He demands action against cops who upheld due process
and human rights when four Ugandan women were allegedly assaulted by a
mob instigated by vigilante law minister Somnath Bharti. The dharna
also crystallises fears around the Jan Lokpal Bill, whose main
criticism is that it hands over unchecked powers of harassment to a
vigilante Lokayukta.

o o o

Hindustan Times
January 21, 2014

The agitation by Kejriwal and party made life really difficult for aam aadmi

Everyone expected the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to preside over a
government with a difference. But no one quite thought that this would
amount to protests and clashes with the police even as it got off the
starting blocks. As chief minister Arvind Kejriwal led the street
protests in the
Capital to get some policemen suspended, Metro stations were shut
down, buses diverted and roads near India Gate blocked. He has now
called off the dharna after apparently coming to a compromise with the
government and an assurance from the lieutenant governor that one SHO
would be sent on leave. Kejriwal’s dharna with his Cabinet colleagues
and supporters was anything but genuinely revolutionary.

At a time when the need of the hour is good governance, one wonders if
the way to achieve this was through the CM himself sitting on a dharna
and signing classified files on the pavement. It seems Kejriwal, who
branded himself an anarchist, is unable to transform himself from a
rabble-rouser to a responsible chief minister. Kejriwal, who spent
Monday night on the street amid heavy security deployment, wants the
Delhi Police to be brought under the control of the state government.
However justified his demand is (his predecessor Sheila Dikshit too
made a similar request), a CM must display faith in the political
system and take up the matter through the right channels.

AAP, born from the anti-corruption movement, has been in power only
for three weeks and with the Lok Sabha elections a few months away it
must utilise this time to showcase its achievements rather than
fuelling the suspicion that AAP is trying to push the Congress to the
wall so that the latter withdraws support. In effect, this will
deflect attention from the promises AAP has not delivered on. The
dharna caused enormous inconvenience to the aam aadmi with commuters
having to walk long distances to reach work. With the security threat
in the Capital heightened as Republic Day approaches, the police had
to deal with the unruly protestors at the dharna at the cost of
safeguarding the welfare of the aam aadmi.

The debasing of public discourse as in the language used by the
party’s top brass is something that Mr Kejriwal should condemn
roundly. From Kumar Vishwas’ racist and sexist remarks about nurses
from Kerala to law minister Somnath Bharti’s statement that he wanted
to spit on BJP leader Arun Jaitley and senior lawyer Harish Salve
because the two had criticised his vigilantism, AAP’s rogue elements
seem to be taking the CM’s silence as approval of their conduct. If
this is the change that many people sought, some among them must be
hankering for the pre-AAP days.

o o o

The Telegraph
January 21 , 2014



Democratic governance is not just about translating political will
into immediate action. It is also the fruit of rational thought. This
rationality is the foundation on which the institutions of democracy
must stand, and must be embodied in its leaders as well. The Aam Aadmi
Party’s recent interventions in governance do not bode well for these
essential principles of democratic modernity. And what is more
alarming is that the lack of hard thinking, and of working out
consistent and clearheaded positions on matters of governance, comes
with a populism that is fairly adept at drawing upon collective
mindsets and prejudices in the name of a radical transformation of
politics. The Delhi law minister’s recent raid on Ugandan women in the
capital, followed by alleged physical violations of their right to
justice and privacy, not only undermines the due process of law, but
also taps into the worst kinds of racist and misogynist prejudice that
the women regularly face in the city. Moreover, in the way the
minister and his volunteers have chosen to handle the situation, and
the chief minister continues to endorse this modus operandi, has led
to a confrontation with the police that further degrades the political
and administrative ethos of democratic rule.

There is something unpleasantly ironic about a law minister first
harnessing popular racism and misogyny, and then expecting the police
to subvert correct pocedure at his behest, in order to enforce the
rule of law. When a highly proactive antipathy to corruption is built,
among other things, on notions of purity that equate racial, cultural
and sexual difference with the illegal and the immoral, and when such
a position is empowered by the mandate of the ‘people’, then the risk
of a polity built on such impulses becoming unacceptably majoritarian
is rather grave. The AAP seems to have arrived at a rationale for such
behaviour through its own theories of how drugs, sex and rape are
related to one another, and are embodied in people who are, as the
minister put it, “not like you and me”. Such a commonsensical idea of
what is good or bad for the “common man” — held by more than one
minister affiliated to the party — seems to bypass the usual
institutions of law and order, like the police and the courts. This is
hardly the alternative to corruption and nepotism that would bring new
life to a jaded polity.

o o o

Deccan Herald

Editorial: Immature action

Jan 21, 2014 :

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his supporters, who sat on a
dharna in Delhi demanding executive control over the police and
transfer of some police personnel, have called off their protest

The action of the head of an elected government taking to the streets
to put public pressure on the Central government to concede a demand
had created an unprecedented situation. The Delhi police, for
historical and practical reasons, has been under the control of the
Union home ministry. Governments in Delhi, including the previous
Congress government, have been unhappy about this and have demanded
transfer of police powers to the state. The blame for law and order
problems goes to the state government but the power and responsibility
to enforce the law vest with the Centre. This is an odd situation.
There is perhaps a case for a change of the arrangement but the
tactics adopted by Kejriwal to force the issue might not find ready

Kejriwal has claimed that he resorted to his unconventional protest
because of the refusal of the Delhi police to conduct a late night
raid on a house where some African women were allegedly running  a
drug and prostitution racket. The AAP saw this as an attempt to shield
criminal elements. In another case, another minister put pressure on
the police to arrest some people allegedly involved in a dowry crime.
In both cases there was an  element of vigilantism which goes against
the norms and procedures of the rule of law. The demands made by the
ministers and the method adopted by Kejrival  were in agreement with
the populist stances advocated by the Aam Aadmi Party on other issues.
They have always made known that they would not accept the argument of
limitations of the system in finding solutions to

The dharna was called off after an assurance was given that some
action would be taken against the police men who, according to the
AAP, were guilty of lapses. This might be considered a victory by the
party. But was it?  It should realise that straining the system beyond
its limits would only be counter-productive. However well-intentioned
the ideas and demands of a person, group or party, vigilantism and
populism are not the ideal methods to get them implemented. The AAP is
in a hurry to change the system. But it should think through the full
implications of its actions.


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India – Government needs to make amendments to law public

Make amendments to law public, says Aruna Roy

Rahi Gaikwad

Aruna Roy

Aruna Roy

Terming the right to information a fundamental function in democracy, Aruna Roy, RTI pioneer and social activist, who recently quit the National Advisory Council, said here on Sunday that on the last day of her term, NAC had sent a suggestion to the Prime Minister for making public changes in laws.

“If any amendment is made to the new laws and regulations, it should be put in the public domain for scrutiny, before it goes for drafting. The draft law should be put up on the website,” Ms. Roy said. She was delivering the Pradhan Jwala Prasad memorial lecture on “The Challenge of Transparency and Accountability in Indian Democracy.”

Critical of middle class cynicism, Ms. Roy warned against such a “defeatist” attitude. She said the landmark right to information law was born from the distress of the poor. She stressed engaging with the government. In her first term at NAC, important legislation related to forest rights, domestic violence and employment guarantee were brought into force.

Ms. Roy said her departure from NAC had been “sensationalised” in the media.

“I was not against anybody. I only said that there were two thought processes in the country — one that believed that market growth would solve all problems and the other that advocated socialistic measures.”

The Indian government was highly averse to participatory decision-making, she said.

Raising concerns over the harassment faced by information-seekers, Ms. Roy said asking questions had become difficult.

“What is the price of asking a question in this country? IAS and IPS officers can’t ask questions. Students can’t ask questions and these days even journalists can’t. We have been suppressed for long … Those who are asking questions on sensitive issues, like the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, are called extremists and Maoists. They are harassed and killed,” she said.

About 30 lakh people in India were asking questions under the RTI, but it had cost the lives of 30 people, from all sections of society, including engineers, intellectuals, and farmers. They paid with their lives because “they had the audacity to ask questions.” Earlier in the day, Ms. Roy attended a meeting of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, where she met RTI activists in Bihar and learnt about the threat and intimidation they faced.

Ms. Roy questioned the Unique Identification project for being ambiguous on the issue of privacy.


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Kalpakkam must be made a case study: Medha Patkar

24 May

  • Addressing the people, social activist Medha Patkar said, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the ‘man-made tsunami’ has changed that pleasure. (File/PTI)
    Addressing the people, social activist Medha Patkar said, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the ‘man-made tsunami’ has changed that pleasure. (File/PTI)

On the second day of her visit to the State, social activist Medha Patkar visited Kalpakkam. While she was interacting with the people from the fishing community, she said, “More and more scientific data over the effects of radiation must be coming from Kalpakkam, and thereby, it should be made a ‘case study’ for other nuclear reactors.”

Addressing the people, she said, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the ‘man-made tsunami’ has changed that pleasure. The struggle of the fishing community against nuclear plants either in Kalpakkam or in Koodankulam, has turned a service to the environment and to the whole of mankind.”

“During the Narmada Valley protests, we had said it was in the quake-prone zone. But officials denied it. Later, there was a quake at Latur, where the place has been pointed as not in the quake-prone zone. It clearly shows that we cannot estimate the possibility of a quake at any given region. When there are scientific reports that showcases Kalpakkam is under such a hazard, why should we want to take the risk?,” she asked. She further said, “In the past, there were judges like V R Krishna Iyer and P N Bhagwati who ordered investigation committees to go to the ground and inspect. Such practices are not followed in today’s judiciary.”

Meet cancelled

Meanwhile, the proposed meeting with Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan IAS by social activist Medha Patkar was cancelled on Thursday evening.

According to members of NAPM, Medha Patkar had written to the Chief Secretary and got an appointment for around 5.30 pm on Thursday. But due to work exigencies, it is said the chief secretary cancelled the meeting.


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Press Release- A Radio Ad on Red FM names Medha Patkar shopping in R City Mall




Advertising Standards Council Of India

Mumbai, May 23, 2013

Complaint- Radio advertisement of  R City  Mall using name of activist Medha Patkar


I was aghast to listen to your advertisement on Red FM between 1545 hrs and 1555 hrs on May  23rd 2013. The R City Mall, shamelessly names Medha  Patkar,  of Narmada Bachao Andolan , the activist enjoying shopping at R City Mall. I contacted  Medha Patkar and she denied completely giving any consent to the R city Mall   using her name. Even the Radio Station RED FM, with tag line Bajate Raho , have ignored such a big  blunder  in the advertisement

Medha  Patkar is a name which resonates  with rights of  slumdwellers   in Mumbai and she is last person to endorse and shop at Malls. She has   been fighting the Builder Mafia and has stood like a rock against the  islum demolitiosn for many years now and recently had been on a ten day  hunger strike against  the Golibar demolitions, which have were stopped due the  relentless efforts of NAPM.

R City has defamed Medha Patkar by using her name in their promotional advertisement for the Mall.

The advertisement should be immediately  withdrawn  , and the Mall and Radio channel need to tender a public apology  with immediate effect.


Kamayani Bali Mahabal



May 23, 2013

complaint tracking No – 613ed1596928

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Gujarat – Death threat to RTI activist: Police get no lead yet

Express news service : Rajkot, Mon May 20 2013, 04:06 hrs

THREE days after RTI activist Nathalal Sukhadia of Amreli was allegedly threatened by an anonymous caller after he declared to expose the alleged corruption in the administration of Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee (APMC), Amreli taluka police has not achieved any breakthrough in the case.

“We are seeking the call details of Sukhadia and trying to identify the person who made the phone call,” an officer of Amreli taluka police said on Sunday. Sukhadia hit the headlines last year after he alleged the then state Agriculture Minister Dilip Sanghani and his family members of irregularities in the affairs of Amreli District Cooperative Bank on the basis of information he obtained under RTI. The activist’s campaign had dented the reputation of Sanghani and had contributed to his defeat in state Assembly elections in December last year.

But Sukhadia had filed a complaint with Amreli taluka police on Friday, stating that a man called him at 9.56 on Thursday and threatened to kill him if the activist called a public meeting on Monday.

The activist is fighting election as a director of the APMC. The election will be held on May 23. He had announced to hold a public meeting to “expose corruption” of the outgoing BJP-backed APMC board. “The board had indulged in corrupt practices in auctioning 400 shops . I suspect the caller was an aide of one of the outgoing office-bearers,” Sukhadia said.

– See more at:


Related posts – Sign the change you want to see #onlineactivism

The concept of online petitioning is riding high on the wave of social change sweeping the world. MANU MOUDGIL says that while the impact is promising, there are several roadblocks to be negotiated.
Posted/Updated Saturday, Apr 27 ,
Every other day, a new mail drops into the inbox asking you to ‘change the world’ by signing a petition. It can be as serious an issue as seeking justice for an acid attack victim or as trivial as asking Justin Bieber to have a live concert in India. For an increasing number of urban Indians bred on concepts of equality and justice but frustrated by trappings of age-old power hierarchies of this country, the idea is promising. You don’t need to be a kurta-wearing social activist sitting on dharnas or a donor writing cheques to fund campaigns. Just filling in your name, email Id and postal code would do.
Petitioning around social campaigns has been in practice for decades but never has its impact been more pronounced than today when a call to ‘stop rape’ can gather 59,000 signatures in just 24 hours (On last count, the petition had 6.64 lakh signatures). For every signature, the decision makers get an email (many petitions also request the supporters to call the officials) thus ensuring constant pressure on them to act.
Two government school teachers in Jharkhand get paid after four years, five asphalt factories in Rajasthan shut down for causing air pollution, a discriminatory temple ritual is banned in Karnataka…the list goes on about the impact online petitions have made, though not singularly.
Online petitioning picked up pace in India after 2011 when, the world’s largest e-petition platform, started its operations here. Today, it has close to 6 lakh users with 600-800 petitions started every month, up from 11-15 petitions two years ago. Worldwide, it has operations in 18 countries and boasts of 35 million users. also scores over other online platforms because of its support team, which helps build a communication strategy around selected petitions. In India, a small five-member team sends emails to users, talks to the media and suggests ways to engage with decision makers around campaigns which are bound to get popular support like the anti-rape petition started in wake of the Delhi gang-rape. The team works on 14-16 campaigns a week.
Everyone’s invited
One palpable difference online platforms have made in the field of campaigning is democratisation of the petitioning tool. Anybody can mobilise support for a cause they strongly feel about. Namita Bhandare, who started the anti-rape petition, had never participated in protest marches or candlelight vigils. She wrote the petition just to give vent to her anger and feeling of helplessness after the Delhi gang-rape. “At first, I questioned myself what would a petition do. In fact, now I realise that the recommendations we made in the petition were very basic and the Justice Verma Commission went much beyond as it factored in marital rape, action against armed forces and redefined sexual assault. However, filing that petition was cathartic for me. The tool lends power to the people who were earlier completely dependent on media or NGOs to mobilise support,” she says.
However, critics believe that e-petition promotes slacktivism or armchair activism which is also the reason it is so successful. It gives “false power” to those who feel helpless in face of problems they can’t control and prevents many of the supporters from participating in on-ground action. Preethi Herman, Campaigns Director at laughs off such criticism. “We tend to assume that people just sign petitions. Online platform is the first point of engagement. They make telephone calls to decision makers, participate in offline events and help spread the word further. You can’t equate mobilisation with activism as it’s more about developing a larger support base for your cause. Most of the supporters are not activists but they do want a change,” she says.
Bhandare agrees: “ E-petition does sensitise one to the cause. You can’t just start a petition on rape and go to a cocktail party. I am sure many of the signatories to my petition also joined the on-ground protests.” also collaborates with Video Volunteers and CGNet Swara, the two grassroots-level organisations which use video and audio media to highlight issues in rural India. “It was important for us to adapt to Indian conditions where Internet penetration is still very low. We work with Video Volunteers and CGNet Swara to identify issues in their areas which could be promoted online and hence bridge the gap between rural and urban population,” Herman says.
Tania Devaiah, the impacts manager at Video Volunteers, confirms that getting numbers behind a cause through online petition lends an institutional approach to the campaign. “Constant flow of emails and phone calls does build pressure on decision makers in comparison to a single approach of making and screening of videos. We pick up issues for online campaigns where either it’s difficult to make the authorities act or the cause has a universal appeal,” she adds. The next frontier wants to conquer is to make the platform available in Hindi and adapt it to mobile phones.
The loopholes believes that to get the desired impact, online petitions should be supported by on ground action, exposure in local media and interactions with decision makers. However, in many cases, the offline or on-ground mobilisation may be completely missing, thus putting a question mark on sustainability of the impact generated. For instance, a petition by Video Volunteers against a discriminatory practice in a Rajasthan village where a traditional practice of Dalit women carrying their footwear in their hands while crossing the houses of upper caste families garnered 5,480 signatures.
Acting on the petition, the District Collector along with other officials held a meeting in the village apprising them of the law banning caste discrimination and ordered that the practice be disallowed. However, the villagers did not even know that there was a campaign running on this issue and unknown people were playing their saviours over the Internet. The impact has been that the Dalits are now much more scared to talk about the discrimination, as mentioned by this report in Times of India. Herman refutes this claim, saying that the correspondent of Video Volunteers had mobilised Dalit women against this practice and villagers might be scared of talking to the media due to local power equations. However, independent inquiries made by The Hoot confirm that the action taken by the officials was solely on the basis of the online petition and there was no local campaign against the practice.
Verification of facts reported in the petition is another sore point. Though some petitions do carry images and videos related to the issue, there are chances that you might end up supporting a wrong cause. For instance, an incident in Hyderabad got two separate petitions running on the website. Girl college students coming out of a pub after a farewell party were accused by the regional news channels of creating nuisance at a public place and depicted as uncultured while the students blamed the media of moral policing and wrongful depiction. The chances are you may end up signing one of these petitions without getting to know the other side. Herman says since numerous petitions are created daily, it’s not possible to substantiate the facts presented in each of them but whenever the Change team works on and pushes a petition, the facts are verified in detail.
Values shortchanged? claims to be a corporation using the power of business for social good. It made revenue by allowing sponsored petitions from progressive groups willing to shell out dollars to promote their campaigns. The concept has helped the company generate enough profit to make its functioning self-sustaining.
However, something changed in October last year when a leaked internal documentrevealed how the organisation was replacing its value-based advertising policy to an ‘open’ approach allowing even conservatives and corporates to use its resources. This invited widespread criticism from the progressive community which felt that the vast user database it helped build through the years was being sold to the opposition camp.
On the other hand, as underscored by Isaac Luria of Groundswell, organisations running social campaigns don’t get a full contact list of their supporters whom they could later invite to attend meetings, join local groups, or donate. “Of course, I could have bought the names that signed the petition on for around $500,000 or about $2 per name if I had the foresight before the campaign was launched or had the money,” he adds.
Change’s founder Ben Rattray responded to the criticism by arguing that the organisation “cannot maintain an open platform and simultaneously block all ads that don’t fit a particular political view” and ads from controversial groups would only be accepted if the platform has users interested in their work. He also emphasised that an open advertiser policy was essential to avoid being “regularly forced into unsustainable positions.”
However, not everybody was impressed with these clarifications. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, an online campaigner who has initiated a petition asking Rattray to come out clean, says the definition of openness pushed by is not in consonance with progressive principles. “I used to laugh at some of the inane petitions like the ones promoting homophobia or anti-abortion, as I was sure will not give any support and the petition will die its own death. But with the new policy, anyone is eligible to advertise. So, after I sign a petition for human rights, I might find a link to a sponsored petition on giving legal recognition to khap panchayats,” she says.
Mahabal has now been trying other online platforms but is not happy with their technical support. For the time being, she is using her own blog to mobilise online support and is hopeful that Indian activists will have their own independent platform soon.
Meanwhile, as they say, every change is accompanied by discomforts. The question is how well can we deal with these.
Official recognition

Online petitioning is officially recognised in the US where the right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The White House hosts an online platform ‘We the People’ where any petition which gets 1,00,000 signatures within 30 days elicits a government response. The threshold before January 2013 was 25,000 signatures and one of the petitions which got the White House speaking was seeking ‘genocide’ status for the 1984 Sikh riots in India. The petition had more than 30,000 signatures.

original article

  • #India – : Campaign Victory’s exposed (

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A Quickie For Mr. Mahesh Murthy #FOS #Gender #Chrisgayle

india trans  A Quickie For Mr. Mahesh Murthy

Posted byPosted onApr 26 2013

There is a fine line between humor and everything else. One may think they have said the funniest thing of the hour, without giving the slightest of thought that their said words can have consequences. In fact words do have consequences, trust me! (Remember this? …Yes, I did learn a lesson or two there.)

And so at it happens, at times the well informed too need a reminder of the above perhaps a quickie on Queer sensitization as well. So we begin today’s session with Mr. Mahesh Murthy. Who is he? Er…he is blah blah & blah. Jumping onto what he did! Well… he posted the below message on his Facebook page;

Screen Shot 2013 04 24 at 7.04.34 PM A Quickie For Mr. Mahesh Murthy

Funny? Really?! Since I am one of the 26,000+ people who visit Mr. Murthy’s FB page every now and then, all I can say is that this isn’t his finest of wordplay. And believe you me, this man is funny.

Personally though I found his posted message not only demeaning but also his follow-up (defensive) comment to be equally arrogant. Here are bits of it:

I personally don’t give a rat’s ass for political correctness. Yes, I know LGBT and other minorities have fought long and hard to be treated as equal – but part of being treated as equal is about forgetting what our own sexual leanings and other badges of minority-ness are, and being warm, friendly and funny human beings.

Firstly my apologies to the rat for unnecessarily being pulled up in this conversation. Believe me I know how hard it is to maintain a toned ass. But only if the likes of Mr. Murthy started paying some attention to the necessity of political correctness (at least in some instances)…Sigh! Imagine a greener world. Now Mr. Murthy it is heartening to know that you are aware of our struggle, but I wonder how much of it do you actually understand. For a Queer person much of our humanness lies in the acceptance of our sexuality and/or gender. And while you may ask us to let go of the core ingredients that make us happy human beings to begin with, how about first giving us the basic necessities that an equal person is provided with. Lets begin with the right to exist (Yes it’s true… in 2013 we continue to fight a battle in the supreme court).

So while you rightly say “Equal doesn’t mean better than equal”…you must first ensure the other is on an equal platform to begin with before you start kicking below the belt. Even in the Just Joking context.

Moving on Mr. Murthy enlightens us with further gyan…(*Statutory notice: He is only a human being).

Everyone’s welcome here. We don’t discriminate here, nor do we believe anybody needs to be treated with kid gloves. We’re all adults, we all have thick skin here. You want sensitivity, get yourself litmus paper. But this group of folks is under no obligation to offer any. They might, if they feel like, but it’s not a membership criteria here.

Now to the issue of humour. My post was a simple pun on the word “Chhakka” to refer to a eunuch (or TG person, as other terminology puts it) and a sixer in a game of cricket. Chris Gayle hit 17 sixes today. So there was a silly thought of calling him “Chhakkon ka raja” – king of sixers. But the pun also indicated “King of the transgenders” so the joke went on, that eunuchs might be unhappy with someone saying he’s now their ruler.

Not a super-great joke, but one for the moment indeed. I see nothing offensive about it, and if you or anybody else seemed offended you have a responsibility to say why you are, and what the issue is. And if you do find it offensive, get off this page. Please. Like I’ve said before, nobody’s under any compulsion to read or like what I write, and nor am I under any compulsion to write only what you like to read. And that goes for everyone else here.

Getting to the crux of the matter:

Mr. Murthy, FYI the word “Chhakka” is deemed offensive. It is a derogatory word used not only to humiliate the TG/Hijra community but also gay men & lesbians. This very word is engraved in the every day living of a Queer person in the form of mockery and many a times physical abuse (rape) in the hands of both, the judiciary and society. Furthermore it has taken years for the transgender & hijra community to disentangle itself from the word “Chhakka” but clearly the battle is yet not won.

Agreed your Chhakka update was nothing but a thoughtless remark. On a closer look, your behavior could very easily have a negative affect on the TG community. By the way are you aware of the many deaths that happen in the transgender community via murders and suicides? Ever wondered why? It’s because of such attitude that continues to belittle them & treat them like they are anything but human!

So Mr. Murthy you are guilty of discrimination.

And mind you, no one is asking for sensitivity here. I accept that people tend to be over sensitive at times, but at this point, it isn’t the sensitivity speaking. It’s an effort to teach you to respect gender & gender expression. As I said earlier on, knowing does not mean you understandSensitisation is the word here; we are not even asking you to walk in our chappals. So by all means you can call Chris Gayle the king of sixers (in the context of the game of Cricket) but we would appreciate it if in the future you keep the word Chhakka away from the eunuchs and your pun even further away from the two.

And while you clearly state your freewill to write everything and anything, we too would like to add that each time we find your words offensive we shall not hesitate to give you another quickie. When you proudly boast your social media statistics, it wouldn’t harm paying some attention to the political correctness. The point being – if you are informed, you will inform others too! *Good karma all around!*

Lastly, time and again I am advised to develop a thick skin in the course of my journey; as a woman, as a lesbian, a blogger and I suppose to a certain degree I have (see how well I tackle ignorance). But I also make an effort to be continuously informed, as it is the latter that helps me grow as a human.
As for the assuming ‘goodwill’ part… we are expecting your thank you message in the mail pretty soon now.

PS – Happy watching T20!!

for comments above post click below

Original article here


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Press Release-Condemn the Growing Tendencies of Re-arrests of Political Activists!




Dated: 19.04.2013

Condemn the Growing Tendencies of Re-arrests of Political Activists!

Condemn the Brutal Torture and Illegal Detention of Zakir Hussain!!

Release Zakir Hussain and Sabyasachi Goswami

Immediately and Unconditionally!

Punish the Officers Responsible for the Torture and

Illegal Confinement of Zakir Hussain!


Yet again the People of West Bengal are being witness to another instance of police brutality, trampling all constitutional norms, perpetration of third degree torture in police lock-up and the submission of false statements in the court of law. In its treatment of dissident voices, the present Mamata-led government is no different from the previous Buddhadev-led government which had ruled the state of West Bengal for more than 3 decades.

On 19 April 2013, Zakir Hussain and Sabyasachi Goswami were produced in Bankshall Court, Kolkata. The police force (STF) as usual showed them to have been arrested on 18 April from Behala in Kolkata for having Maoist links. Zakir had signs of police torture in STF lock-up all over his body and was almost unable to move. Actually, Zakir was arrested on 15th from Dharmatala in Kolkata—a place other than what was stated before the court. He was produced after four days of arrest—a clear violation of Supreme Court directives which makes it binding for the police to produce an arrested person within 24 hours of arrest. Zakir’s face was covered by a mask by the police in the lock-up to escape identification. Then he was beaten black and blue to extract confession—yet another violation of court directives and UN Covenant relating to Civil and Political Rights.  Sabyasachi Goswami was picked up on 18 April from Piyali, Canning in South 24-Parganas. He was subjected to mental and physical torture and was not allowed to sleep the intervening night between 18 and 19. They, as usual, were implicated in false cases like carrying arms and indulging in seditious acts, having Maoist connections.

 Both Zakir and Sabyasachi were arrested and incarcerated earlier for years together in another case and both were acquitted and released in 2011 after spending six years in prison. Both of them had been attending courts regularly since then in cases where they were released on bail. Last year, the STF raided the house of Sabyasachi and threatened his relatives. His mother who had been suffering from various ailments had a traumatic experience and she expired recently—a clear case of death by torture, brutal police forces driving a mother to her death by intimidation. This is how ‘democracy’ works in this ‘this largest democracy’ in the world.

Re-arrests of activists who have been acquitted of previous trumped up charges that too after prolonged periods of incarceration—in this case six years—has become a regular feature of the modus operandi of the police forces whether it is in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa Bihar etc. This while undoubtedly shows the growing impunity of the police and other special forces as well as investigating agencies is further becoming a standard operating procedure vis-à-vis criminalizing all forms of political dissent in the subcontinent.     

At CRPP, we unequivocally condemn the re-arrest of Zakir Hussain and Sabyasachi Goswami, the torture perpetrated on them in police custody by the notorious Special Task Force under the Mamata Banerjee-led government, demand exemplary punishment of those police personnel guilty of committing torture as well as the immediate and unconditional release of the political prisoners.


In Solidarity,


SAR Geelani                  



Amit Bhattacharyya             

Secretary General                    


Sujato Bhadro              



MN Ravunni

Vice President


Rona Wilson

Secretary, Public Relations


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