where trouble was needed

June 8, 2015

“Why Using Patriarchal Messaging to Promote Toilets is a Bad Idea” (letter)

Filed under: Letter to Editor — Aravinda @ 2:40 pm
Tags: ,

Dear Editor,

NIKHIL SRIVASTAV AND AASHISH GUPTA’s article, “Why Using Patriarchal Messaging to Promote Toilets is a Bad Idea” raises a number of shocking points about the campaigns that link sanitation to women’s safety rather than to public health for all. While disappointing, the government’s attitude is not exactly surprising. But I would have expected better from Vidya Balan. Why are otherwise smart, socially responsible people going along with the outrageous implications of such a message?
A few years ago the Guardian published an article co-authored by directors of four international organizations (WaterAid, Oxfam International, UN Millennium Campaign and Unicef), containing the following paragraph that has been quoted by everyone from angry young bloggers to the American Bar Association:

A report in the Times of India in February this year quoted the police in another district of Uttar Pradesh as saying that 95% of cases of rape and molestation took place when women and girls had left their homes to “answer a call of nature.”

Your piece however points to data that indicates that “most sexual violence occurs within the home, not outside it.” Rather than attributing violence to location, or trying to enclose women in the name of safety we must open the minds of all to the truth about violence, the facts about health and hygiene, and the right to freedom and dignity for all.


See Also: Not Only Toilets

May 10, 2015

Sometimes I remember … (poem)

Filed under: We Shall Overcome — Aravinda @ 12:17 pm
Tags: , ,

Sometimes I remember ….

a poem read aloud by a Korean-American poet on a Friday evening around 5ish

during the week-long anti-globalization actions / teach-ins / marches etc in multiple locations of Washington, DC, c. 2001

The first line is “Sometimes I remember …”

The last line is:  “Sometimes I remember, but never will I forget.”

Does anyone remember the name of the poet?

This poem is calling me across the years.

– Aravinda

March for peace in DC

April 21, 2015

River interlinking … again, now with “special purpose vehicle” for R&R

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 11:47 am

Comment: It is not for lack of a special purpose vehicle that the governments failed to rehabilitate people in past projects. Only a different process in planning the project can bring about a difference in ensuring that all stake holders, including those who invest their land, get a fair deal. The process must allow for free, prior and informed consent of affected people and also take their knowledge and experience into account in order to plan a project that utilize the resources more effectively, locally and democratically.
April 21, 2015 05:45 IST

‘Relief package to get priority in river interlinking’


Special purpose vehicle will be launched as rehabilitation measures are seldom implemented: expert

March 15, 2015

A life-changing cup – The Hindu

Filed under: Provocations — Aravinda @ 9:37 am

A life-changing cup – The Hindu.

December 24, 2014

Merry GoodGovernanceDay

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 10:49 am

Here is my essay.

Instance of Bad Governance

Canceling Christmas


#GoodGovernanceDay #EssayCompetition #AccheDin

(Firstpost |  Outlook)

July 8, 2014

Breastmilk bank in Mumbai

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 10:56 am

After 25 Years, Modest Gains at Mumbai Breast Milk Bank



Affordable health care starts with breastfeeding – it makes good sense for the government to support efforts to ensure that babies get breast milk and that mothers get support to overcome difficulties, believe in themselves, and breastfeed their young.

Simply knowing that there are people willing to donate milk for those in need will boost a young mother’s confidence and also help to increase people’s respect and appreciation for the value of mother’s milk. So much of the public and corporate messaging devalues it and makes it seem as if it is not worth the effort to solve problems that may arise.

I hope that greater awareness also comes to hospitals to follow the WHO Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative and the International Code and the corresponding Indian laws regarding formula distribution / promotion and also to doctors to follow the World Health Organization Guidelines, recommending six months exclusive breastfeeding and at least two years of complementary breastfeeding. We must also see that the government enforces the International Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes and the IMS Act, bans the offending advertisements, and punishes corporations that are violating it every day.

Had I known about this milk bank when my daughter was nursing I would have donated milk as well. May the bank serve more mothers and families and may more governments and hospitals follow suit.

June 7, 2014

Not only toilets

Filed under: Comment,Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 4:13 pm
Tags: ,

Dear Editor,

While I agree that "access to sanitation and water are fundamental human rights" the assertion that "a lack of these services is putting hundreds of millions of children, girls and women at risk each and every day" where the risks refer not to health and hygiene risk but personal safety and freedom from violence, takes attention away from basic equality and humanity.

Yes a woman should have a clean place to go and yes for the sake of public health this should not be out in the open, but even if a woman goes to the toilet in the open she should not fear for her safety.

Obviously we don’t expect Bill and Melinda Gates to look into issues of caste, gender and land tenure when they’ve got a huge toilet program going on. Good for them. But let theirs not be the last Word on the matter.

In response to

Two girls died looking for a toilet. This should make us angry, not embarrassed

Attacks on girls and women as they look for somewhere private to defecate are frighteningly common. Improving basic sanitation, as a global goal, would do a lot to make them safer.

May 23, 2014

Affordable health care begins with breastfeeding

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 10:30 pm

Response to

Most Women Can’t Afford to Breastfeed

The New York TImes

Cynthia Colen is an assistant professor of sociology at the Ohio State University.

MAY 22, 2014

Affordable health care begins with breastfeeding. Look at the countries with the most positive health indicators and you will see that they also provide for at least 6-12 months of maternity leave, along with reasonable working hours and dignified working conditions for all.

Formula is a precursor for packaged foods. Breastfeeding children learn the taste of real foods. Breastfeeding is the foundation of healthy eating and lifelong health. If we care about our health, our food and our economy we should recognize the importance of breastfeeding and all of the work parents do and make it possible to balance the work on various fronts. Maternity leave is not such a difficult thing to implement if you recognize its value. Neither is flex-time, part-time and other ways to balance work in the home and in the office. Instead we see everyone working increased hours and prices rising – we are on a treadmill that benefits no one.

March 28, 2014

Soni Sori, candidate for Lok Sabha

Filed under: Uncategorized — Aravinda @ 10:28 am

India Ink - Notes on the World's Largest Democracy INDIA VOTES

Tribal Activist Candidate Poses a Problem for Aam Aadmi

By NIDA NAJAR MARCH 27, 2014, 1:35 AM

My Comment to New York Times: Soni Sori was in jail not for any crime but for opposing the powers that be in the state – hence human rights organizations campaigned for her release. A large number of tribal men and women are unjustly imprisoned in Chhattisgarh, awaiting trial for years on end. Who will address their plight and the causes for which they went to jail in the first place, the gross injustices that the tribal people of Chhattisgarh face? It is a correct and courageous move for a political party to recognize the strength of a woman like Soni Sori to stand up for the downtrodden and lead the way towards a just society for all. I salute her determination to overcome such extreme torture in police custody and keep up the courage to fight for her people. Listen to the sincerity in her heart as she talks about the problems tribal youth face and how she would address them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFNyP4GhC8c (NRI Samay interview). You can only say that her candidacy poses a “problem” if you are looking at politics in the most narrow sense of winning an election. Her candidacy restored my faith that there is a political process that has space for selfless service. If people who have borne the brunt of the worst excesses of corrupt powers still have faith in democracy, and are willing to stand up and be part of the solution, then how can the rest of us be cynical? Recognizing the potential of Soni Sori to serve in the Parliament was a brilliant move by the AAP Party.

January 28, 2014

Little things lead to bigger things

Filed under: Memories,We Shall Overcome — Aravinda @ 8:00 pm

Farewell to another conscience-keeper, who made trouble where trouble was needed.

Pete Seeger marching with  Occupy Wall Street protestors, October 2011.

Pete Seeger marching with Occupy Wall Street protestors, October 2011.

He articulated my vision of activism to the letter:

“Realize that little things lead to bigger things. That’s what [the album] ‘Seeds’ is all about,” Seeger said. “And there’s a wonderful parable in the New Testament: The sower scatters seeds. Some seeds fall in the pathway and get stamped on, and they don’t grow. Some fall on the rocks, and they don’t grow. But some seeds fall on fallow ground, and they grow and multiply a thousandfold. Who knows where some good little thing that you’ve done may bring results years later that you never dreamed of.”

From Democracy Now! “We Shall Overcome”: Remembering Folk Icon, Activist Pete Seeger in His Own Words & Songs

And he fearlessly spoke truth to power when questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee:   Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times obituary:

“I am not going to answer any questions as to my association, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this.”

Mr. Seeger offered to sing the songs mentioned by the congressmen who questioned him. The committee declined.

Mr. Seeger was indicted in 1957 on 10 counts of contempt of Congress.

Pete Seeger, Champion of Folk Music and Social Change, Dies at 94 By JON PARELESJAN. 28, 2014

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