I worked with the Mail Today newspaper in June 2014 and in a brief stint of one month, managed to get 15 stories published cumulatively in dailymail.co.uk, India Today online and Mail Today. The links of my stories are posted below. Kindly go through them and any kind of feedback is always welcome 🙂
Their houses are burnt, women raped, children slaughtered and property confiscated. This is the plight of Rohingyas, a minority group from Burma. Forced to leave their motherland, now they have no place to go. Their struggle with their identity is not new. It all started … Continue reading
Jan Ahaar Yogna started by Sheila Dikshit with the objective to provide nutritious food to the poor has fallen flat. Like other schemes, Jan Ahaar also seems to be a tactic to gain vote.
During the launch of the scheme, there was too much of hullabaloo. A weekly menu was prepared out by the Nutrition Council of India and an expert from St. Stephen’s Hospital. But the reality was soojy puris, stale vegetables and flies all around the stall.
Poor people still consider road side eateries much better than Jan Ahaar. Mohammad Salim who sells Chole Parathe just next to one of Jan Ahaar’s van said, “Crowd near my stall is more than my neighbour selling food under the scheme of Jan Ahaar, as the quantity I give is more and my food quality is also better.”
Quantity provided is also an issue. “We just get four puris and a handful of rice”, said Ram Singh, an auto driver. He further added that the quality is so bad that most of the time people suffer from stomach ache. Also every time they get same food.
In a daily menu prepared by the government, they have mentioned all the fancy food items to attract the poor. The food list consists of puri, chapatis, dam aloo, seasonal vegetables, sambhar, rajma, karhi, rice and halwa. But people who eat regularly have never seen halwa or karhi in their plate. All they get is potatoes with watery gravy, brittle oily puris, accompanied with lots of flies sitting on their plate.
Even the price they pay is more than what was promised to them. Initially Rs 15 was charged for a plate, which was increased to Rs 18. But people have to pay Rs 20 for a plate as vendors do not return their rupees two back.
Delhi is a city of contrasts. It exhibits a number of faces. Everyone had varied concepts about this city. But there a number of ways in which Delhi looks at everyone. The following images show how.
As long as women of India, declared Mahatma Gandhi in 1925, do not take part in public life; there can be no salvation for the country. As long as…women do not come to public life and purify…we are not likely to attain swaraj. Ever if we did, it would have no use for that kind of swaraj to which women have not made their full contribution.
No matter how many schemes targeting women empowerment are introduced in India, change is far from sight. There is an emergence of a hyper-local leadership structure where women as a community become more vocal about their issues and get their voices heard.
The issue of political representation for women in India was first raised in 1917 as a demand for universal adult suffrage. Women got the right to vote in 1930, but nobody really sees them as a “vote bank”. A United Nations report said it will take more than 50 years for countries like India to achieve gender balance in politics if women’s participation does not improve. Until now, political parties and their largely male leadership focused on the ‘aam aadmi’, or the common man, a phrase which subsumes women. [Courtesy: Reuters]
According to the 2009 electoral rolls, women voters were in a majority in six states -Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Puducherry but figures are yet to improve in many other states. Women form 44% of the total eligible voting population in Delhi, states the official website of the Election Commission of India. Therefore, 54 lakh is too big a number to be ignored.
Aprajita Pandey, partnerships, communication and research manager at ‘Haiyya’ – a Mumbai based non- governmental organization currently working in Delhi, feels the need to harness the power of these 44% shareholders and relate it to the state assembly elections scheduled to take place on 4th December 2013.
In order to give the right momentum to the issue, Haiyya has initiated ‘rise up’ campaign so that women as a community become more vocal about issues affecting them and make an informed choice. 16 December gang rape case triggered the thought process and in Aprajita’s words, “it has given a lot more fear than power so there is an immediate need to compensate for this lack-of-power”.
40 team captains and leaders will be working in four selected constituencies in Delhi to create voting blocs of women; an abstract space where women would come together and talk about issues of democracy, system and governance. These constituencies namely Malviya Nagar, Karol Bagh, Kasturba Nagar and Model Town were selected on the grounds of less marginal victory of MLAs.
“It is high time that a system is set up so that the voice of this huge chunk [women] does not go unheard and unattended”, says Nirmala Mathur, a school teacher. She believes that the only way to create sustainable social change is to give importance to the issues that they raise by being a part of such a voting bloc.
Aprajita, who conceived the campaign, asserts that the idea is not to create that structure where a particular MLA is being recommended by the team captains and leaders. Rather, the idea is to make women come out, sit and think because political participation is all about organizing, influencing and then voting. After all, Voting doesn’t make sense if they are not well informed about their decision.
Bhanvi Arora, a Web Content Writer at India TV, says, “Most of the urban women are so engrossed in their professional and personal lives, they don’t get time to take political participation seriously. This initiative would be helpful as long as they motivate each and every woman personally. They need to change their attitude towards the election procedure rather than condemning the system”.
Vulnerabilities differ when it comes to rural and urban population. Keeping this in mind, Haiyya chose to target urban middle class women through their campaign as they feel that they are the most disorganized in terms of being vocal about their issues as it’s not about rights for them. “It’s therefore relatively easy for women of lower income groups to come together and talk about their issues. It’s very difficult to explain them to think like a community. Suddenly they start feeling that somebody has taken away their personal, individual right to vote. This concept of individuality is so strong in the urban space and giving that up is like giving up power” adds Aprajita
Anshul Tewari, founder and editor- in- Chief of Youth ki Awaaz feels that urban middle class women in Delhi is a good audience as not many initiatives have been taken to cater to them. He says, “When you segment, perspectives become better. If its broad and you are not able to address the issues of any particular segment, it would be unfair.”
Sarah Elizabeth Jacob, who is a student of Development communication, disagrees. “If we look at India’s current situation, we have 67% population below poverty line and many of them are women and urban middle class women constitute a very meager part of India’s population. Thus, making them the target population will give a biased result as rural women are left out of the process”, says Sarah.
Although the effect of such an initiative is unpredictable, it would still be interesting to note how even after the elections these blocks create spaces for women to break their silence.
It was 27th September 2013, when forty five drivers and conductors attended their first class on gender sensitization. The six months special training program was launched on Tuesday, 24th September by Delhi Transport Corporation to sensitize all drivers and conductors of DTC buses.
Ramakant Goswami, Minister of Transport, Delhi Government, inaugurated the training program by releasing a protocol that specifically laid down dos and don’ts to be followed. It clearly lays down that physical contact, indecent comments, physical or verbal sexual conduct or any behavior that a woman finds inappropriate would be treated as harassment. Batches of drivers and conductors will be trained on every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on such significant issues involving twenty five trainers in six training centers across Delhi.
This one of a kind initiative is in association with Modi Care Foundation, an NGO working for the cause of HIV/AIDS. They have worked for the development of the training module which includes interactivities like presentations, lectures and games.
Dr. GK Sharma who heads the training program feels that the December 16 Delhi gang rape case has triggered the need for such desperate measures. He further adds that DTC has been involving its staff in numerous training programs since 1950 i.e. two years after it was established, but it is now that gender sensitization has been given a priority.
Apart from imparting knowledge on the list of measures to be taken in case of sexual harassment or molestation, the training program also includes the study of important laws pertaining to women security in India. It can prove to be an important step in creating awareness about issues affecting women. Sonal, a student of Jamia Millia islamia disagrees. When asked about this initiative, she said,
There is a deep rooted mindset that goes behind it and mindsets are not changed in six months. Plus it’s nothing new that they will be talking about. So, I don’t expect anything positive out of it. It is a good effort no doubt but i am still not sure about the results.
While Sonal does not seem quite optimistic about its results, there are many others like Jhanvi who are in favor of the idea. Jhanvi uses DTC buses to commute everyday and feels this initiative is a ‘need of the hour’.
I find it interesting and workable. We just know how to crib but do not have the patience to wait for change. At least someone has figured a practical way out. We should appreciate it. – Jhanvi