Friday, February 13, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Academy Awards may be a slam-dunk for this popular movie but it has quite a few detractors on home turf.
“Slumdog Millionaire distorts Indian reality, conceals India’s prosperity” screams a front-page headline in the Organiser, mouthpiece of the fundamentalist Hindu organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

“The story…encapsulates almost all the dirt and squalor that one could conjure up in the slums of Mumbai," fumes the RSS writer. "Eyes being gouged out of young children who are introduced into beggary, children dipping into sewage tanks and garrulous prostitutes in dingy rooms lining both sides of narrow lanes all make up for picture postcards of Mumbai slums.”

Triumphant on the back of five Critics' Choice Awards, four Golden Globes and seven BAFTA Awards, as well as nominations for ten Academy Awards, Slumdog Millionaire is causing ripples in Indian society. A rags-to-riches yarn that generally tends to capture the imagination, it has quite a few detractors on home turf. The film puts a modern spin on the familiar story of the underdog who manages to emerge from poverty and make a new life for himself. Directed by Danny Boyle, a Briton, and Loveleen Tandan, an Indian national, Slumdog is set in the Dharavi of Mumbai, the megacity which is India’s financial hub, and begins with some torture scenes that, strangely, result from a victory on a television game show.

Through a stroke of luck, Jamal Malik (Dev Patel), a poor, uneducated boy from Dharavi, appears in the wildly popular Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. He is well on his way to winning millions of rupees but the producers find it implausible that a young man who grew up in the slums and now works in a call centre is capable of answering the show’s questions. They conclude that this “slumdog” must be cheating and decide to extract the truth from him by means of cruel and unusual punishment. It is via this interrogation process that Jamal recounts his life story, and in so doing refutes the charges brought against him.

A soundtrack composed by A. R. Rahman does well in adding to the enjoyment of the film. Rahman now has the distinction of being the first Indian to win the Golden Globe for Best Original Soundtrack and has also been nominated for three Oscars.

Exploitation -- or a plug for India’s poor?

A couple of the sequences of this movie were shot at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (or CST, formerly called the Victoria Terminus Station), a scene of the terrorist attack that captured world attention last November 26th. Prior to that date, Slumdog had been seen at a couple film festivals and had a limited North American release. It was after its general release in January that the film catapulted into the public consciousness -- cashing in, some critics imply, on the tragedy of the Mumbai massacre.

Exploitation of India’s weaknesses has been the theme of much criticism. “The whole build-up of hype around the movie reminds one of the new-found appreciation of Miss World and Miss Universe organisers towards Indian beauty after our economy was liberalized to allow international cosmetic giants to sell their wares in India," says the report in Organiser. "The idea is that Indian squalor sells in the western world, and spins money.”

The film has not gone down too well with some residents of Dharavi, either. On January 22nd, about 40 representatives protested outside the Mumbai home of actor Anil Kapoor, who plays a leading role in the film. The protesters held banners reading, "I Am Not a Dog" -- referring to the film's in-your-face title -- and, "Poverty for Sale". Two days earlier a slum leader in the central Indian city of Patna took the Indian cast and crew of the film to court for allegedly offending slum dwellers by the pejorative title. He said that he didn't expect any better of the British people associated with the film, because their ancestors called Indians "dogs" anyway, but that the Indians involved should have known better.

According to noted human rights defender, Dr Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), the movie has highlighted the contradictions in Indian society. “Slumdog aptly mirrors the gap between the poor rich and has highlighted the pitiable conditions slum dwellers and their children,” he says.

Raghuvanshi, who was awarded the 2007 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, told MercatorNet that this film is creating global awareness of the reality of poverty and the disparities which inevitably widen as India goes one-sidedly for economic growth. “This film is being denounced by certain segments of people who want to maintain the status quo in society, and do not want to highlight the pathetic conditions of the poor and the marginalized communities,” he says. “When such films are viewed on an international stage, then our policy makers will wake up to the reality of the poor and backward classes in society.”
Dharavi: the reality

Other critics are riled by Dharavi’s undeserved reputation as Asia’s largest slum. It is not really a slum, they say. It is a squatter settlement where nearly every household has some business. It is a thriving, bustling place with entrepreneurs by the hundreds of thousands. Rough estimates put the number of commercial and residential structures at around 57,000. Industries like plastic recycling, leather tanning, garment making, pottery and jewellery making co-exist in this microcosm of India.

These factories provide sustenance of a sort to the million or so people who are thought to live in Dharavi, which at 432 acres, is now prime property which even international developers are bidding to “redevelop”. The lack of basic sanitation (adequate water, toilets, drainage systems) and other amenities are merely a poor reflection on the civic authorities who have failed to provide for the community and not on the slum dwellers themselves.

Do these criticisms resonate much with the man in the street? Probably not. What counts for most Indians is a romantic, heroic story, and on that basis they will be just as thrilled as Danny Boyle if Slumdog cleans up, as predicted, at the Academy Awards.

They will acknowledge the truth in it and shrug their shoulders at the condescension of westerners who like to feel compassionate towards the world’s poor and indignant about their exploitation. If this can be done in the comfort of a movie theatre, so much the better.

Anjalee Lewis is a freelance journalist writing from Mumbai.


  • 21:14 S.H.O. Phulpur,varanasi is threatening the protestors,who are sitting at pindara tahsil,varanasi.Lenin,.V.O.P.
  • 22:53 A.D.M.(city),varanasi called delegation and told uhat do not sit in night.He indirectly threaten us.Protestors are doing meeting.Lenin,. ...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Weaver’s Struggle: Salute to Janab Siddiquilla

Siddiquilla has been died in morning of 8th February, 2009 at 2:00 am. He was at his nineties. He was a bonded labour and had been working as bonded labour in weaving industries more than fifteen years. In 2001, he met with Dr Lenin the convener of people’s vigilance committee of human right (PVCHR) and described him about his pitiable condition and showed his willingness not to be continued as bonded labour. He provided his full support with potential in his case. Recently on 23rd November, 2008 the ADM (Administration) Varanasi has provided him and his son Amirulla Release Certificate from Bonded Labour. After getting release certificate he had taken a sigh of relief and said I will not die as a bonded labour. He always showed his dedication and devotion in his struggle and his poverty and weakness had never causes hindrances.
He had also given his significant contribution to eradicate bonded labour and to improve the condition of weavers and to ensure the basic right of weavers. His valuable contribution can not be forgotten. In his sad demise many people have sent their tribute and many members along with convener of Forum for Right of Weaver & Artisan(Bunkar-Dastkar Adhikar Manch) had taken part in his funeral while he was buried in graveyard near Kamalgadha, RaMkatora, in Varanasi.
PVCHR has recently taken the testimony of Amirulla the son of deceased Siddiquella to provide him psychological healing, which is as follows:

Self suffering story of Amirulla

My name is Amirulla aged about 45 years. Sri Siddiquilla is my father. I live at house no. 35/40 Jalalipura, police station Jaitpura, District Varanasi. Apart from my wife I have four son and two daughters. I am a weaver and I adopted this profession when I was twelve years old. Thirty years ago I started this profession from the Gaddi of Badaruddin Hazi. I earned Rs 17 per sari and a sari was weaved within three or four days. I could manage for two meals a day easily. After two year when I developed skill in weaving, I started to work at the gaddi of Hazi Baqueridu. I earned there Rs 375 for each sari and sari was weaved within four to five days. The owner was honest and used to make payment regularly. I lived in his house. During that period I got married and five children had been begotten. I spent there fifteen years. Since the family of the owner growing larger, there was problem of accommodation. So I had to quit his services.
I approached to Altafurrahman resident of A-26/2 Hasanpura, police station Adampur, District Varanasi in search of work. There I started weaving at the rate of Rs 500/ per sari, but sari was weaved within twelve to fifteen days because silk saris were being weaved there. During that period my younger daughter was fallen ill and her condition was gradually deteriorating. So I borrowed total Rs 4600/ from the owner. He asked me to pay back the amount in wages. I paid Rs 50/ per sari to pay back his debt, and he noted down in the account kept for the purpose, but I did not have such account. Since I am illiterate so I can not tell the exact amount but I paid back to him large portion of the debt. I had to work from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm. There was one hour lunch from 12:30 pm to 1:00 pm. There was no holiday. Three days holidays for id-ul-juha and Baquerid and one day holiday for Sabebarat and Barawafat was allowed. If I became late by five minutes or go outside for tea/betel, he used to abuse and insult me in front of other worker and my elder son, Zia-ul-Islam, who came along with me to assist me. I had to go for work even at the time of illness.
In the mean time he made an agreement of a building adjacent to his house, and arranged my house hold articles in that house to express my rental position on behalf of him. I started to live in that house, but another person had made registry in his favour and compelled me to vacate the house, but Altafurrahman forced me to live in that house. It was a cold night when at 11:00 pm the policemen came in two jeep to vacate the house. Due to fear I returned the house in which I was living earlier leaving my all house hold and valuables the total cost of the articles and valuables is Rs 18000. On the next day Altafurrahman took me to court to file case against the person in whose favour the registry had been made. When I asked about my goods to Altafurrahman, he was feigning.
When I could not get my goods till three years I repeated him, he used abusive language and said I lost my house and you care for your goods. I beseeched him that I am very poor and how can I arrange these household and valuable again. At this he started to abuse indicating my mother and sister and slapped three or four times. Every slap spread darkness to my eyes and whistling in my year. I felt that if I were as powerful as he, I could reply for his slap and abuse. But I was helpless and compelled. I felt very insulting from inside. When he was slapping me, my elder son came and implored that “why are you beating my abba (father)?” At this he turned angry to my son and kicked three four times to my innocent son in his chest. He started groaning. Having seen it I was feeling extreme heartache and blood in form of tears was coming to my eyes. Even today I become terrified by assuming that scene that how a tall well build and muscle man is beating my lean child. I was feeling intolerable pain. I thought that my days are not helping me so this cruel man is insulting and beating me along with my son. I embraced my son and took him out of that place. The grief which I felt at that time can not be expressed in word and in this regard I can say that the weavers only know where the shoe pinches. I was feeling at that time that if I would have another option, I may escape from the jaws of this cruel man and I may save myself and my family from day to day insult. I was in great anguish but What could I do? I borrowed money from him, I could not save myself. In spite of this incident I worked for more than four years in his custody. I told the same to the other Grihastha (the owner of handloom), he became ready to pay my debt and I had to work for that Grihastha, but Altafurrahman was not ready for this. He said “if you will work, work for me only. You can not go anywhere.” I requested him to give my household and valuable and I will manage for your loan. But he was not agreeing for this. The honor and dignity of a man is nothing for him. Abusing daily is very common. I was feeling suffocation. The sun was distant dream for me.
When I was living like a slave, Dr Lenin came like God to Kargha (Handloom). He came in year 2000AD. I answered for his question that the Kargha (Handloom) and house belong to Altafurrahman and I am working as bonded labour. I had borrowed Rs 4600/ from him so I am working for him to pay back his debt. I also told him that my father Siddiqueulla is also working as bonded labour in the custody of Altafurrahman. My father had taken some debt from him for his medicine and for some domestic needs. Due to his old age my father was working slowly so Altafurrahman misbehaved, insulted and abused my father before me and other worker. I questioned Dr Lenin “why is he asking this to me?” with smiling face he answered that he would make release us from bonded labour. A ray of hope emerges in our dark life. We got courage form inside. Altafurrahman got notice from the court after two month. When the matter went to the court my father had given statement against Altafurrahman and I was also standing along with him.
In last the God paid attention and the effort of Dr Lenin brought color. On 23-11-2008 the SDM of Varanasi had given order to release us from bonded labour. I received a copy of order of court. A copy such order was sent to police station Adampur. So the SHO made a call for Altafurrahman. At this two men of Altafurrahman came to me and took me to his gaddi. By abusing me He forcefully made me to put my signature on stamp. He threatened me he will make me homeless and my family helpless. He also admonished me that I have teenage daughter. He warned me to think about my all family. Hearing this I became afraid and signed over stamp. My statement had been taken in the CO office in Kotwali and police station Adampur.
Today I am free. However he threatens me. Presently I am working according to my will. If I got rehabilitation compensation I will set up my own loom and bring raw material, so that I can start my traditional occupation. Now family is feeling very happy. I am feeling unlimited pleasure after telling you my story and I feel internal relief. Now I believe that there is someone who cares for deprived and poor people like me.

Dying Industry

Weaving is one of most ancient industries of India. It is main source of livelihood in the eastern up especially in Varanasi. The handloom product of Varanasi is very famous all over the world. Varanasi sarees are known as its patent.
However from last few years the conditions of weavers are deteriorating gradually. Now in present situation the children of weavers are dying due to malnutrition and starvation. So on one hand where India claims for growth of economy and development, on the other hand the starvation and malnutrition death of weavers and their children is the slap on India.
Recently on 15th December, 2008 Sri Ali Anwar Answari (MP) had raised the issue of starvation and malnutrition of weavers’ chidren and plight of weavers in Rajya Sabha during zero hour. He said that 9 children of weavers have died and 106 other children are the victim of malnourishment in the Dhannipur of Lohta Gram Sabha. 36 male and 31 female are suffering from TB in Kashi Vidyapith Block. However they get the medicine from government hospital but scarcity of nutrient engross them again in TB. He also demanded from the chairperson to abate the loan of weavers and other like craftsman and to protect the traditional occupation. He also said that the cloth minister Bhagela assured him to abate the loan of weavers and allow loan to them at 7%. But the tenure of this government is going to end but the assurance is not going to meet and the parliament is silent on the issue.
Earlier when the handloom industry was on boom the weavers were enjoying their life up to full amusement. Their entire products were sold like a hot cake. They got the proper wages and profit; even they were given advance amount for their product.
Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi informed national human right commission on in the beginning of this year about the plight of weavers and stated that weaving industry demolished because clothes are being imported from china at cheap rates. It is designed according to the latest fashions that attract the consumer to buy the imported clothes. But today the handloom weavers are living their life in hell. They are living on the pity of others. Now they are facing starvation. Their children are suffering from starvation. The weavers are selling blood and children to cope up with the situation. The hygienic condition of their colony is pathetic.
It has been demanded that government should promote the modernization of handloom sectors and living standard of weavers should be improved. The government should provide immediate assistance so that they can get rid of starvation. Thus the complaint sought intervention of the commission.
Immediately the commission took the cognizance and directed the DM Varanasi and the chief secretary UP for appropriate enquiry and action at his end. Pursuant to this the assistant director handloom Varanasi submitted that under 11th five year plan the weavers will be given training to raise their living standard and a provision for marketing export promotion scheme by the Indian government. A committee has been formed under the chairmanship of director kanpur along with ADM varansi and financial controller kanpur to solve the problem of weavers.
Due to liberation and global market the people tends to new era of fashion and availability of Chinese product in the market the market of traditional industry is falling down. Above all the power loom industry aids to ruin the traditional handloom industry.
Now in this era of crisis the inflation the things have become costlier and the wages of weavers have been decreased.
Government claims that it had launched many schemes for the welfare of weavers, but all of these require many formalities which the weavers can not met with. For example they have no BPL card as the administration says that they have house. Without BPL card they can not take benefit of any scheme. The weaver department (ADI) is like a close book which contains all schemes and benefits for the weavers but it is not open. So the weavers are not aware about these scheme and benefits as 90% weavers are illiterate. They are demanded bribes for health card, insurance etc. since their capacity is not worth for paying bribes, so they are deprived from these scheme.
Due to this reason the weaver could not be able to manage two meals a day. So the weavers are tending to adopt other profession. Some of them are pulling rickshaw, some are doing daily wages. Their women have to become maid servant and even their children are forced to domestic servant as well as hotel and dhaba.
Dr Darin a Srilankan Economist has presented plan for the revival of weaver through Varanasi Weaver’s Trust. He prepared his plan after visiting the weaver’s locality in Varanasi. His model is based on the revival model of French Wine and Srilankan Tea. He presented his model to Planning Commission of India. It is also in the knowledge of UP State Government, but no steps have been taken due to political reason and the plan can not be implemented.
The government has launched many schemes for the weavers and ADI handloom is the executor of these programmes. But making schemes is not enough real action must be seen on the ground. If the government really wants the welfare of weavers it should enforce the schemes properly and awareness amongst the weavers should be expanded to make them beneficial. Apart from this the government should fix the minimum price for the handloom product so that they may not be compelled to sale their product at the lowest rate. They should be provided market for their product and the broker should be extracted from market.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Message of Dr. Lenin on the 60th Anniversary of UDHR

Fr Edward, one of the first victims in Orissa, meets his attackers

Fr Edward, one of the first victims in Orissa, meets his attackers
Nirmala Carvalho
He was in danger of being burned alive, like his assistant, Rajni Majhi. After a period of recuperation, he has gone back to Orissa to understand the reason for this violence, a "personification of evil," but also in order to forgive his attackers. The region is still insecure, and all of the Christians have fled, unable even to participate in the upcoming elections. An appeal to the international community.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Fr Edward Sequeira was one of the first victims of the pogrom against Christians launched by Hindu extremists last August in the district of Kandhamal (Orissa). The Divine Word priest worked for years at a leper colony, and in an orphanage for abandoned children. It was there that on August 25 the horde of people he calls "terrorists" seized him, beat him unconscious, and tried to burn him alive. He was able to save himself from the fire and suffocating smoke when he regained consciousness and shut himself up in the little bathroom in the room. Before losing consciousness again, he heard the screams of one of his young assistants, Rajni Majhi, who was raped, tied up, and thrown into the flames, where she was burned to death (See: Fr Edward, survivor of arson in Orissa: the Hindu radicals are terrorists). In the interview we present here, he recounts his meeting with his assailants, in order to discover the reason for the violence. But above all, he talks about the "humanitarian disaster" in Orissa, where more than 50,000 Christians have been uprooted from their land and are now displaced out of the fear that they are still the target of extremist violence. The priest also denounces the political designs that are being realized precisely through attacks on Christians, who will not be able to vote in the upcoming elections. And he asks the international community to take to heart this situation, in which human dignity has been humiliated, so that globalization may also mean international solidarity.

( Photo: Fr Edward with our correspondent Nirmala Carvalho)

Fr Edward Sequeira, SVD, went back to Orissa on the 11th September 2008, after just 9 days in Holy Spirit Hospital.

He was back in Mumbai for treatment: his shoulder muscle ligament is torn, and his lungs are still weak, the wounds on his head have healed, but he continuous to have headaches. He showed me the scars of his stitches on his back and hands and legs. He offered up to the Lord the painful mystery of his persecution for graces for his attackers.

He moves around incognito, he has grown a beard, and can hardly be recognized, due to concerns over his safety. There are still pressing dangers to his life. He was in hiding for over a month since he returned to Orissa, staying at the Jharsuguda Provincial House in the Sambalpur district of Orissa.

He was very weak and has suffered from malaria and typhoid since his return, and kept moving his residence from one mission station to another in the district because of death threats.

Fr Edward has been offered a mere 20,000 rupees (315 euros) as compensation for the orphanage (the burnt down jeep is not even being considered). He completed the formalities for compensation in November, and yet nothing has been paid.

Fr Edward is saddened by the fact that not a single person from the village testified to the authorities, no one came forward to given witness of either his assault or even about the rape and burning of Rajni.

Rajni Majih's parents were given 200,000 rupees as compensation, which was divided between her adopted and biological parents.

Fr Edward has visited the Padampur orphanage and the village and leper colony five times since his brutal assault –in disguise the entire time. He even visited his attackers in the jail.

The priest shares that this is the third time he has beaten in Orissa -1997, 2004, and 2008. In May of this year, he celebrates the twentieth anniversary of his priestly ordination. "Such immense gifts, I have received, from the good Lord, who has found me worthy to suffer for His name."

"21 people were arrested for the attack on me, the burning of Rajni, and the burning down of the orphanage. Of these, 5 people were from Khuntpalli village, these were people who used to supply milk to the orphanage, some were my construction workers and mostly people whom I have served who were afflicted with leprosy, or others whom I have taken by jeep to hospitals.

"I went to the leper colony and asked them, ‘What grudge did you have against me? What harm had I done to you?' I was told that the attack on my orphanage and my beatings were very meticulously planned, and while some showed remorse, others merely shrugged stating that there were only executors of the plan, but most of those who had beaten me up were hardcore RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) people.

I had to visit these people, I had to know why, these were people whose maggot-infested wounds I had cleaned, who children I cared for, and yet I was brutally beaten and with attempts to burn me alive. These were the same people, who frequented my mission (orphanage) - either for gainful employment or for some personal favours which I gave generously, and yet they had no qualms about mercilessly thrashing me and burning alive Rajni, after they gang raped her.

"I told them I forgave them, that my wounds are graces for them and that my sufferings may be for their repentance for the evil.

"It is rather tragic that most of these villages were mute witnesses to my thrashing and also the burning alive of Rajni, yet not even one has come forward to testify and give witness.

"In November, with official permission I went to the sub-divisional jail, where 5 attackers from my village are being held. When they saw me, they were surprised and shocked. There were some rumours that I had died, no one was sure about my whereabouts.

"I asked them the same question. 'What harm have I done to you, why did you attack me and burn Rajni?' They too had the same reply, that they were not actively involved in any planning, they only carried out orders. Before leaving, I showed them my scars, on my shoulder, head, back, hands, and legs, and told them that I forgive them, and offer these physical wounds for divine graces for them, for their enlightenment and salvation. I told them that I will continue to serve them and I pray every day that God may give them an experience of love and that they may be reconciled to God.

"The 20 orphans are now in government ashrams. The village schools were forced to admit 8 of them, but there is a lot of stigma attached to these children, as their parents were leprosy afflicted and there is a morbid fear of contamination. I have to go and help these children, educate them, and treat them with dignity, I cannot abandon the mission."

Fr Edward is concerned about the Christians in Kandhamal, over their physical and mental situation, their isolation, the emptiness, the desperation. He fears for the future of the young people, who are so impressionable and have been witnesses of horrible violence and enormous injustice.

"The carnage was a personification of evil. The situation is still serious. Kandhamal is cut off and deserted, our 50,000 Christians have been displaced, our people are unable to return to their roots in Kandhamal. In many villages they cannot practice their Christian faith. Christians are not willing to go back because they are afraid they will be attacked, because they have found in these four months that no serious steps have been taken to prevent these attacks, to protect their property and to save their lives. Women have been hacked into pieces when they went to harvest their crops, moreover, the culprits roam freely in the villages. How can our people be assured of safety?

"After returning to Orissa, I went to register my complaint at the police station. The police told me that I am only giving 'narration', and not evidence. Can you imagine what our simple people are told then?

There are a large number of single mothers, so many women have been widowed, so many youths left directionless, these children and youth who have been left fatherless have to be cared for, nurtured and provided. There is serious work to be done for our people in Kandhamal. This is a gross humanitarian disaster.

"India is a spiritual country, home to many different religions, and unfortunately it is a small segment of the population who indoctrinate the poor people into false ideologies of hatred towards Christians. It also saddens me that a large number of the vast Hindu majority was silent at the carnage unleashed upon the vulnerable Christians in Orissa, these are the same Hindus who have passed out of our schools, colleges and professional institutions, and these did not raise their voice to even protest.

"Religion is being used as a medium for political gains in India, and I am worried about the forthcoming elections both central and state. Here in Kandhamal and all of Orissa, everything is polarized and partisan. I am concerned about the safety of our people.

"Here the votes of our people do not matter. Most of our more than 50,000 people are destitute, all their documents and proof of identity were methodically and intentionally burnt to ashes, so they will not be able to even cast their votes in the upcoming election. And the unfortunate fact will be that the politicians will have achieved their end.

In the face of what seems to be a situation without hope, Fr Edward does not give up: "On a national level, there should be the political will for the situation to improve, the federal government should intervene. Until then, the situation seems bleak.

"I appeal to the international community to raise the issue of Kandhamal on an international platform.

"Everyone speaks of globalisation and the shrinking of borders, but most essential to globalisation is universal solidarity and international brotherhood.

"Or else, this globalisation will only lead to a decadent society. The attack on the Christian community in Orissa was a demonic manifestation of evil, and it is not enough to speak out. Measures must be taken, sanctions imposed, and even the international court of law should be invoked to prevent an incident like this anywhere in the world.

"Any transgression on the dignity of the human person or on a minority community should evoke feelings of revulsion in humanity, and such incidents should be addressed at international forum.

"Only when the world community, leaders and governments, are concerned about the quality of life and humanity - only then will our future be ensured - a future where the dignity of the human person is the first priority."

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Police torture case of Dharkar Basti of Varanasi in News

Police torture, exploitation for forced displacement of schedule caste, Dharkars of Varanasi in India came as news at:

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Report on Human Rights Defenders

Report of representative of Secretary General of UN on Human Rights Defenders for seventh sessions of Human Rights Council.Please see the 207-208 page numbers for the case of Ram Prasad Bharati of PVCHR.We used the the testimony of Human Rights Defender Ram Prasad Bharati.

Report on Human Rights Defenders

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


  • 12:22 U.N. Rapporteur on torture and women intervened in case of police torture to dharkar ghetto of varanasi.P.V.C.H.R

Police Attacks Dalit Settlements

Please see the linkage and send your petition to authorities:

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Children of a lesser God§ionid=3&Itemid=1&issueid=91§ionid=22&Itemid=1&issueid=91

Children of a lesser God

Farzand Ahmed
January 29, 2009

It’s a human tragedy of massive proportions that everyone seems aware of but is clueless about combating.

In Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state and the only one currently to be run by a woman, women run the highest risk of maternal mortality. Last week, UNICEF came out with another devastating report which said the state is the “riskiest state” for babies, especially newborns and mothers.

In its ‘State of the World’s Children 2009’ report, it has also termed the state “the riskiest place for a woman to have a baby in India. In Uttar Pradesh, a woman has a one in 42 lifetime risk of maternal death, compared to a probability of just one in 500 for women in Kerala”.

Only a week before UNICEF presented its report to Governor T.V. Rajeswar, Vice-President Hamid Ansari had curtly remarked at a function in Lucknow that “being born in Uttar Pradesh reduces one’s lifespan by several years. It would seem that the state you are born into determines how long you would live”. Quoting data produced by the National Family Health Survey 2005-06, the vice-president said: “Indeed the picture that has emerged is very distressing.”

The UNICEF report highlights the link between maternal and neo-natal survival, and suggests opportunities to close the gap between rich and poor countries. This is not the first report to paint a gloomy picture.

Six months ago, the state Planning Department had brought out a firstever report titled ‘The State of Children in Uttar Pradesh’. That too made for depressing reading. The study, jointly conducted with UNICEF, revealed that 52 per cent of the state’s children were severely malnourished while the all-India figure was 43. It also revealed that while the percentage of malnutrition among children was just 35 in the least developing world, the figure for sub-Saharan Africa was 28 per cent. South Asia as whole has a 42 per cent child malnutrition rate as against 26 per cent in developing countries.

Last year, when the Uttar Pradesh Government came out with a report stating the per capita income in the state had jumped by 4.03 per cent, two-year-old Shaheena Parveen, who weighed three kg, breathed her last. Days before she collapsed, her twoyear-old neighbour, Sahabuddin, had died.

Malnutrition: An area of darkness

52% Uttar Pradesh
43% India
35% Least developing countries
42% South Asia
26% Developing countries average
25% World average

Several other children in Dhannipur village in Varanasi await a similar fate. Suffering from malnutrition, most of them are children of weavers whose looms once churned out saris. Now out of work, they’re unable to provide their children with proper meals. But Dhannipur is perhaps just a microcosm of the entire state.
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) quotes a state government survey to say that 540 children are still suffering from Grade III and Grade IV malnutrition.

Last year, Bijo Francis of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission circulated a report worldwide saying, “When he (Sahabuddin) died, he weighed six kg. This is Grade III malnutrition (often categorised as severe), a condition that exists in places like Somalia.”

Malnutrition is associated with half of the total number of child deaths and Uttar Pradesh accounts for over 10 million of India’s 72 million malnourished children.

Besides this, it is learnt that nearly 40 per cent of primary school dropouts have been denied mid-day meals provided by the government and other voluntary agencies.

The state Government has some tough paradoxes to deal with. Despite its 40-million-tonne foodgrain production, over 30 per cent of the state’s 17-crore population barely manage to get a single meal in a day.

According to the Planning Commission’s ‘UP Development Report’, even though the state is the largest producer of foodgrain, the per capita production is lower than other states.

Infant mortality rate in Uttar Pradesh

Every sixth undernourished Indian child lives in Uttar Pradesh
Every second child in Uttar Pradesh is undernourished
Every third infant has a low birth weight i.e. below 1,200 gm

It’s not just the numbers that are scary. Dr M.Z. Idris, head of the department, community medicine, King George Medical College, Lucknow, adds, “Malnutrition stops total growth of the child, affecting the economic growth of the state or the country.”
But these are not the only issues. The state accounts for the highest number of child abuse and child labour cases besides widespread Japanese Encephalitis (JE), mainly in Purvanchal. JE has turned out to be the biggest killer of children every year.

Last year, over 467 children died and 2,226 were admitted in Gorakhpur Medical College due to JE.

Yet the Government’s concerns are not reflected in its actions. When JE sowed panic in the state, the state Government decided to transfer all its JE specialists. Dr Sanjay Srivastava, one of the founders of Action for Peace, Prosperity and Liberty, says he was taken aback because a court order mentions retaining JE specialists.

Clearly, Uttar Pradesh has turned into a land of threatened children. The UNICEF report should ideally be a wakeup call for the state Government. The tragedy is that for Shaheena, Sahabuddin and thousands of other children, it is already too late.

From India Today Archives
June 9, 2008: Birth of hope
Consumed by hunger


URL for this article :

@ Copyright 2008 India Today Group.

Letter of VOP for Hunger Strike in Varanasi

Letter to Bahan Mayawati
Letter of VOP for Hunger Strick in Varanasi