Friday, 28 May 2010

I Walk the Woods No More...

It took just one person with inappropriately large powers, and a very large budget to change the face of IISc. Prof. Balaram took charge as the Director of Indian Institute of Science Campus in 2005. During the same period, Central government allocated Rs 100 crore to make IISc a world-class university ranked along with Harvard, Cambridge and the woods are gone, and also the fields, the dark groves of old trees. We mistakenly replaced world class achievements with world class buildings of concrete, steel, glass. Our leadership thought that original thinking and better performance could be achieved in larger, air-conditioned office spaces, more equipment, and shamefully high salaries - not to scale to the poverty that infests the land, hunger that wipes out our young, causes farmer suicides in hordes...We thought we would better compete with international performances, forgetting that excellence is an internal quality, fed by internal passion, nurtured by internal imagination - an obsessed curiosity , a pursuit to solve a puzzle, crack a problem - unmindful of the other, or the international, unmindful of pursuing excellence. Excellence is not an orchestrated, funded entity to be bought in shops, just as middle class happiness is not available in malls. Scientists whose discourses evolve around funding, and looking over their shoulders to catch up either with facilities abroad, or with salaries of their IT peers (with MNCs) are disabled to even comprehend, let alone access excellence.

Here at IISc, scientists are on verge of getting their 'firang' shaped spaces - it took five years to provide these facilities. Let us see, five years hence, whether they become a Stanford, or a Harvard, or whatever...

Meanwhile...I walk the woods no more...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Bright Light of the Day..

That was the name he asked me to call him...the driver of bus number 2341, route 284 to Old Yelahanka. He said that by telling his given name, he would reveal is religion, caste, and he did not want that to influence our interaction....

I ran and got onto this bus around 6:30pm to be advised by the driver, that I was on a wrong bus. Since I had actually got a seat, I refused to get off, maintaining that if he took me to the closest point I could easily walk the rest of the way. He was appalled that I might walk 3-5 km or lose 3 rupees getting another bus. However, I just grinned at him, bought a ticket and kept sitting there - on a side seat next to the driver.

What followed was a 45 min. ride with a non-stop 'sat-sang' in this brief companionship.

This is how I had got into conversation with him : I heard him converse with a passenger next to me " A lucky man has a little less money - since with more money he forgets himself and the God in him" - I knew then that I had hit a jackpot for the day! When I asked him, how and why he spoke like this, he said,

" I am never tired or unhappy - I research human beings - I come across 2000 human beings everyday and from this I learn much!";

Him:" I see God or ONE supreme energy in everyone - we might feel that we are the actors - but we are being directed by a mightier will"
Me: " You are lucky to have this belief or faith; I am not similarly blessed"
Him : " You are Still immature on Spiritual path"

"Let me give you only one advice - every morning when you wake up, think to yourself, I am re-born today";

and "I will Pray for you"

For all that I Witness that is dark and grim, there are some days that get illumined by fortunate encounters (accidental? he would not agree) that are clean slated, clear hearted, and memorable for life.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Drawing Parallels

There has been stiff opposition, persuasion, arguments and discord over my previous blog - on my previous non-condemnation of Maoists...

I thought, therefore, I'd elaborate a bit more...

My personal protest history began with the first Iraq War, by George Bush Sr. I continued to subsequently protest, publicly and privately, the US invasion of Iraq. As I see it (particularly highlighted after Randy Pausch's Last Lecture), "For every Agenda, there is a hidden Agenda". US actions in Iraq were certainly propelled by hidden agendas that went beyond their 'Moral War' dictum. There was wide scale protest against this immoral invasion, internationally and in the US. And, there were disproportionately larger material losses and losses of lives in Iraq, unforgivable collateral damages of a war - waged by an enemy from outside. Yet, when American lives lost, if the Iraqis were condemned (especially by Americans who were the invaders....just to show how they were against violence from both sides), since by attacking the US military personnel, the Iraqis were undermining the peace processes that the rest of the world was trying to design for them...

Well, the situation in CG, according to me, is similar. Indian State is waging a war on CG tribal population, as outsiders, for its own set of hidden-agendas. The State is guilty of all kinds of war crimes against a civilian population, in this case, its own civilian population that are disproportionally large compared to the lives lost by the security forces at the hands of the Maosits, who increasingly represent the interests of the tribals in that area. And, the Indian army, or rather the poor suckers that we hire out as SPOs, try to save their own hide by latching on to civilian populations by using buses, ambulances on completing their own 'operations' against the locals - hoping thereby to be spared by the Maoists!! But when they are attacked by Maoists, and they die with the civilians that they deliberately jeopardised, we all cry "FOUL!!

I just cant seem to do that.


Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Why I dont Condemn Violence by Maoists

Today, on email discussions, condemning the recent Maoist attack in Dantewada, I stated that my position on the issue is firmly one of silence. I was also silent last month when 76 CRPF lost their lives - no outrage, no condemnation, no protests on violations of Human Rights - the Right to Life - LOST.

I belong to People's Union for Civil Liberties, because I am opposed to all acts of violence created, and inflicted by and between humans, and because I believe Civil Liberties of All People, a cause worth defending. And Yet...

I cannot bring myself to simple condemnation of lives lost recently in Maoist attacks. Many reasons why I should do so have surfaced - some examples being
" If you want (PUCL) to be taken seriously you must condemn violence by both parties",
"you don't want to be branded as Maoist sympathiser",
"All human lives are precious and one must oppose all violence" etc.

To varying degrees, I do agree with the above positions. And Yet...

I have no tears, no anger, no outcries..
I sit in anaesthetised sorrow, a pain that only translates to longer hours of harder work, more protests, more letters, more leaving-no-room-for-sorrow, and working toward right-actions - at least right by me.

And my position on most conflict situations in the country today is as follows:
I hold the Indian State firmly responsible for creating these situation of conflict, in Chattisgarh, Orissa, and elsewhere. I feel that the state inflicted violence is vastly in excess, continuous and largely 'collateral' in nature. I see this State as representative of me, of who and how I am. I am ashamed and impotent as actions of this State seek to benefit my class, but do not represent - at all - my personal positions, politics, or understanding.

I see me, us, all of us - cumulatively as creators of these vast wrong doings on fellow citizens, mostly not-in-garb of alternate politics - largely women, children, old - those left behind when men, the able, run away into - fields, forests, far from the State or State Sponsored attacks...and I see myself responsible for this, in not stopping those that represent me. And for this that I or mine do... I do not continuously condemn - I do not have a roster of death tolls under my name,or my country's name - for which I send out a 'condemnation' at say every 50, or every 100 lives lost. I do not keep tabs of the heavy toll taken by my country, this largest democracy, on its civilians, citizens, those that oppose the high, imposed penalty of India's development - I cry, but I do not condemn continuously. Is dying more horrific when it happens in 35, or 76, or some such large number , because it happens in single dramatic events, but other quieter wiping outs, over longer periods, genocides of people, cultures, lands, rights, less horrific? What about the 644 villages attacked by Salwa Judum (according to NHRC) and all the lives rendered meaningless because of it? of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, of approximately three lakh lives?

I also believe that for all wrong doings, wrong speaking, wrong thinking, by non-state actors, we do have a mighty state to discipline us - harshly, strongly, insistently and often brutally. After these latest attack, there are many calls for larger, militarised interventions - to stomp out the maoist threat, to work even harder in Chattisgarh to preserve the interests of national security. I will watch this not silent, not mute, but also not effective in changing the future course of events that threaten to unfold.

How do I reach out to this country of mine? To those important governors of our national fate? How do I say to a nation - look at yourself and ask what you can do to make things right, for the least empowered of us, instead of appeasing only the corporates that are vultures at our doorstep for greed? How and who do I say all this to?

I feel that the country, its middle and privileged class and our leadership have strayed far from upholding the constitutional rights of all its citizens, and are very distanced from the ideal that seeks the welfare of the most. The effort to 'develop', 'globalise' are now formulas used to indulge in rampant, accumulative greed of a particular class that I belong to, which in turn feeds the hungry, globalised, powerful corporates that seek cheap people, cheap politicians, cheap forests, water, air, minerals...that seek a stupid, cheap India. Unless I and mine take responsibility for who we are and what we have become, how can I condemn someone else, who do not even acknowledge a belonging to 'us' ?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

The Tragedy at Mao and After...

My Dear Rose,

I weep as I read your words...Needless death, needless torture, misery - I cant make sense of the world these days or the minds of those that repress.

What can we/I do? Who to speak, who to write? Seems as if people in power are deaf, blind, and with impenetrable hearts. Is there a version available of the TV broadcast that can be uploaded on Youtube? I will share your report as widely as I can.

Wishes for courage, peace and hope, still-
10:00AM, responding to.....(also see Seby's entry)

On Sat, May 15, 2010 at 6:38 AM, Rose Dzuvichu wrote:
Dear All

For those of us who had been looking forward to the national meet at Imphal on 'State repression and sexual violence against women' , particularly from Nagaland, are shocked with the incidents of violence of the last fortnight,at the border town of Mao gate and its surrounding villages,which lies under the Govt. of Manipur.
For days,we tried to intervene as women from the Naga Mothers Association into the crisis that had threatened to erupt into another tragedy of violence at Mao gate.
The border town was sealed off and no Naga from nagaland was allowed to enter the Mao Gate leading to Manipur, as we heard of hundreds of women participating in peaceful dharnas against imposition of section 144 ,curfew and militarisation of the areas.On the 4th May, seven delegates of the NMA waited for two hours at the heavily fortified border, to finally get permission to meet the Inspector General of Police, Manipur in Mao.The appeal from the NMA was for restraint of forces and peace and we were witness to the strength of women's voices as we watched hundreds of women sitting in silent protest on the long road leading from Mao to Tadubi.
The tragedy of the 6th May was traumatic which has led to the senseless killing of two students by the Manipur commandos,hundreds wounded ,particularly women ,still recovering in hospitals and more than two thousand men, women and children on record, displaced and seeking shelter in Kohima, Kidima, Khuzama and Dimapur with relatives and by the villages concerned.The team of Naga mothers and public leaders who had rushed to the border of Mao watched helplessly as armed IRB of Manipur Police refused to let us or even the Red Cross go over to help the wounded and dead.After much persuasion they allowed the Red Cross doctors and nurses carrying medicines to enter Mao.The medical team were of great help as the Mao hospital had little medicine an with 3 doctors was not ready for the hundreds of wounded who thronged their hospital.The NMA suplied medicines from Kohima which was transported through some of the Red cross to Mao.Two of us as Red
cross volunteers were not allowed to enter Mao gate with the doctors, because the Police commando officer recognised the NMA officials.Two doctors, who had rushed with the Red Cross and had forgotten their ID card s were also not allowed to enter, even though the whole team claimed they were needed.The president of the Nags women union Grace shatsang was herself wounded i n the violence unleashed b y the commandos,while leading the rally at Mao
.The displaced women and children, have been helped now b y the Govt of nagaland in a tourist heritage village called Kisama, where they are bieng provided food and clothes by different Naga organisations, tribal Hohos,churches.The NMA organised a Candle service with the displaced on Mothers Day and hosted the dinner at Kisama. There are hundred of children, pre school, schoolgoing and even college students who are huddled up with their mothers in these shelters provided.When I visited them , as Rotary Club of Kohima,along with Doctor Rotarians in Khuzama village in the initial days, there were one thousand five hundred being hosted b y the small village which is adjacent to Mao on the Nagaland side..The whole community had come forward to help the women ,children and the aged who came trekking through the jungles and fields seeking shelter from the guns and violence of the Manipur Police and Manipur Rifles.There were many cases of traumatised pregnant
mothers and most of the children were suffering from shock and fever and flu, as our doctors checked patients.There was also a young mother with a one day old newborn who had escaped the violence.Most of the men had stayed behind as they were recklessly rounded up by the commandoes,beaten,kicked, hit with Rifle butts and shot in the legs, abdomen and treated like criminals o nthe run for protesting against state repression and for freedom of movement.These atrocities are captured on camera by visiting media people who were also caught in the rampage of the armed police commandoes.
Last night, video recordings of these terrifying atrocities in Mao gate carried out by forces that are kept to protect people, were shown for public viewing in all leading TV channels in Nagaland .We watched horrified, as they recklessly fired at the unarmed public, mostly women,who were beaten, kicked, shot and smashed with rifle butts,entering homes and houses bringing out men,even old men with their hands raised, to be assaulted,beaten and kicked on the streets of Mao like animals.Some of the commandos picked up stones and smashed windows of private vehicles parked along the road.Disgraceful acts of armed police caught on camera .
Two students o n the 6th May were killed, one was Loshuo, a B.A.2nd year student of sociology from St.Josephs college, Jakhama and the other Chakho, a graduate student of St.Josephs College, Bangalore.They had joined the protestors i n the peaceful rally, and were shot from behind by the commandoes.The post mortem report indicates bullet wounds through the heart and shots splitting the spinal column and lungs,when the NMA team visited the hospital at Mao.The Mao people refused to claim the bodies till their demands for withdrawal of armed forces and permission for entry of the Naga leader Muivah to visit his hometown was given by the Manipur Govt.However, on the 11th, the Naga mothers (NMA) from nagaland intervened by appealing to the United Naga Council to allow the NMA to receive the two bodies from police custody and give them an honourable burial.A team of twenty three Naga mothers from nagaland were given permission to croos the border
the nexr day into Mao, where families of the dead were waiting to receive the bodies from us.The President NMA Mrs.Abeiu Meru and I, as Advisor to the NMA were allowed by the Manipur police to receive and claim the two dead bodies of our children in the name of naga mothers.The bodies of the two students were highly decomposed,kept in two coffins in the police station.They were taken to the village square by the villagers who remained and their funeral the next day was attended by thousands of nagas from everywhere, with the Naga Stduents Federation declaring them as martyrs.Luoshuo had an aged paralysed mother, whom he used to bathe and fed every day before he rushed ot his college some kms inside the Nagaland border at Jakhama St.Joseph's college.His father had passed waway and his elder brother driving a taxi was the sole bread winner and paying for his brother's education.Chakho was a brilliant student throughout, from a family of 8 siblings and
studying in Bangalore St.Josephs.Two innocent students protesting armed state repression along with hundreds of others and killed.
The Naga Mothers organised a Peace Rally on 8th May, two days after the killings, on the border side of nagaland with hundreds of women from different tribes,including men.Jaya V, our friend from PUCL Andhra Pradesh, was on her way to the Imphal meet ,when it was cancelled and three of them were my guests in Nagaland and was witness to the tragedies.She spoke at the Peace rally in solidarity with the people.The NMA slogan of 'Shed No More Blood' of the nineties, was reiterated again that day with the appeal from women for restoration of peace, rights and justice i n the area.Armed Manipur commandos in armoured vehicles silently watched us,even in binoculars, as we held the rally on the Nagaland side of the border, on the main highway.
A Co=ordination Committee of Naga civil societies,consisting of the Naga Hoho, Naga Mothers Association, Naga Students Federation, Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights, United naga Council, Naga Women Union and All Nga Students Associaiton of Manipur, has been formed and an invitation was extended to the Manipur civil societies- the UCM and the All Manipur United Clubs Organisation by us, for a peaceful dialogue in a neutral place like Guwahati on the 14th May , which has been turned down.This invitation was extended as there is a long economic blockade imposed by Nagas from hill areas, including the Naga students federation that has banned any vehicle of Manipur from crossing Nagaland ,and essential commodities, fuel etc has been stopped and the valley is reeling from problems.The invitation for peace talks was also to avoid any further violence as the killings, violence and displacement has ended with the apex Naga body of all Tribes- the Naga
Hoho calling the actions of the Manipur government an attack on the Naga nation itself, which may have very serious repercussions.
Today we stand in this deadlock.Many Govt. offices of Manipur has been burnt down by the people of the Hill areas in protest.Nagas wanting to leave the valley Imphal are reportedly being stopped and searched,some prevented from leaving .The situation is tense in both the states.