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Archive of posts filed under the Opinions category.

The need for global action

Time Magazine termed “The Protestor” as the person of the year in 2011. Protests in the middle-east overthrew tyrants; the Occupy Movement held the world’s attention spreading like wildfire and Europe was ablaze against austerity measures imposed. Clawing their way through, facing bullets, batons and pepper spray, the protestor influenced global change and made the world stand up to take notice. It wasn’t that the establishment wasn’t prepared for this level of an uproar, but had more to do with the fact that no amount of preparation can subdue the voices when they reach this decibel and in unison. As the Occupy movement has beautifully phrased this – “You can’t evict an idea whose time has come”. Yet there are millions of other voices which have not attained the chorus to cause the fundamental changes they would like to see.

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Suffering and helpless: Soni Sori’s letters

Soni Sori, an adivasi schoolteacher from Chattisgarh, who was arrested from Delhi in Oct. 2011 for alleged Maoist links has had to suffer one humiliation after another. She had alleged sexual abuse and stones being inserted in her private parts by the Chattisgarh police in the most recent case of atrocity against her.

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Letters to God, letters to Supreme (Court) Judges

It will be fair to assume that we all remember writing – or thinking of writing – a letter to God at some point in our lives, typically when quite young. Those were letters of various kinds but more often than not they encapsulated our acute feelings whose redress we had not been able to obtain from other sources. They were often in the nature of requests or registered some feeling of grave injustice for which we were convinced that we had to make a personal appeal to the highest arbiter or wish-granter. We often had profound unanswered questions, questions that we had turned over in our own heads endlessly but found no earthly answers to give us any comfort. We were totally at a loss and did not know what else to do or who else to turn to. So we finally decided to write to the Supreme Being, the One who was supposed to know all reasons for things that went terribly wrong and have all the answers.

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Sticks, Stones and Bones: Torture most foul of Soni Sori

When I first heard of it, I did not believe it. Who does such things, I thought? And to a helpless woman, a teacher, a mother of three, at that? Several Hindi-Urdu words swirled in my head: kroorta (cruelty), barbarta (barbarism), jaahiliyat (also, barbarism). But when the medical report from Kolkata confirmed that “certain ‘foreign objects’” had been removed from Soni Sori’s private parts, the conjectures of wilful cruelty took shape. The bestiality and the depraved nature of the act became palpable. It was about stones, it was about bones, it was about hurt, it was about pain, it was about brutal and inhuman vengeance. Against a helpless woman in captivity. Ah, brave men of our security establishment who can so exercise their prowess over the weak and helpless. What sense of avenging they must feel, what sense of righteousness at the indignity they could inflict on a poor woman!

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Another lovable radical

We don’t need to spell out the special significance this day a year ago holds. Earlier today, I happened to come across a reference to Eugene Debs and Howard Zinn and ended up re-reading the essay that I reproduce below. Introducing Debs to readers, Zinn wrote, “We are always in need of radicals who are also lovable …” We can all draw our own parallels (and identify differences) with other lovable radicals. Like Gandhi did four years later, Debs also admitted in the court the accusation against him. “I have been accused of obstructing the war. I admit it. I abhor war. I would oppose war if I stood alone.” Before sentencing, Debs said to judge and jury: “While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” He was sentenced to ten years in prison. He had served nearly three of those years when his sentence was commuted and he was released on Christmas Day, 1921.

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