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Facilitator Training workshop on Child Led Urban Planning in India

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Facilitators Training workshop on Child Led Urban Planning

Gopalpur on Sea, Odisha.

As I write these few paragraphs as a CRC representative I know that many of my observations come not only from my experience in being part of Child Led Planning training workshop but also as a filmmaker to explore opportunity for capturing the best process for learning and advocacy. Humara Bachpan Campaign (HBC), which started two years ago with aim of mobilizing children in India’s slums, has reached out to more than 30000 children, across 23 cities in India. In this journey HBC provided a viable platform for children in India’s urban slums to voice their concerns in day to day living. HBC was able to reach out policy makers in local governing bodies and started to bring a culture of ‘listening to children’ with respect to urban planning. Despite functional challenges and gaps in local governance, the task of influencing public policy is not so easy. Many of the Municipalities in India unlike in western countries do not enjoy decentralized governance. In many Municipalities elections are not held in time and are managed by appointed officers of the federal governments. Moreover the cities have grown leaps and bounds in area but the existing governing bodies are confined to smaller regions, making local self rule a challenge. HBC was able to get reach out many children in slums and built their leadership abilities to articulate various needs, which are detrimental to safe and healthy living. HBC has more than 200 staff drawn from various sectors and led by a young professional Ms.Preeti Prada a London School of Economics graduate.

Context for Child Led Urban Planning

Recognizing the necessity for a child friendly urban planning in India, especially in the context where the Government of India has a vision for creating 100 smart cities, and urbanists, economist arguing that new and upgraded cities are incomplete without “smart slums”. The current policy is a departure from earlier subsidized one, which has little or no opportunity for socio-economic mobility. The government of India envisages smart slums, with inexpensive rent and “easy financing” that encourages home purchases. Access to schools, public services, social networks and transportation is essential. Equally important is ensuring that slums are safe.

In an effort to positively influence public policies in urban planning, Humara Bachpan proposed to facilitate a massive campaign to empower the children in 150 slums in six cities across India. The purpose of child led planning is to encourage their participation, thereby identifying children needs and in process transforming child leadership.

In this extensive plan of reaching out to the children in the slums and encouraging their participation, Humara Bachpan Campaign has designed a unique process adapted the technique of using participatory tools which facilitate great outcomes while giving the children and the community their right to express their needs and to identify solutions. In this process the campaign started with building capacities of the facilitators who play a major role in bringing the expected change and outcomes in the areas of intervention. This initiated with the campaign’s facilitators who work with children in slums from all across India attending a 7day session at a beautiful beach resort in Gopalpur on sea, Orissa. The orientation focused in unpacking the CLP process, their roles and responsibilities, methods to be adopted, Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools to be used, filed application and documentation skills. In her opening remarks Ms.Dharitri Patnaik, Country Representative Bernard Van Leer Foundation and brain behind the CLP campaign explained larger objectives of Humara Bachpan campaign in the country. “It’s time we transform child leadership in urban slums through this process and influence local city plans to include child centered development”, says Ms.Dharitri Patnaik. Ms. Preeti Prada, National Coordinatory HBC who leads the team said, that it’s a team work which we all has to demonstrate if we have to reach out to large number of children in slums. It calls for planning, coordination and execution on the ground with active participation of all staff.

The nature of the campaign being a participatory approach, the facilitators from all over India were given an in-depth understanding of the participatory tools and their objectives. The major objective and motive of the campaign was re-emphasised, which is to ‘Build’ and ‘Mobilize’ children as leaders and to advocate policy changes for child friendly urban spaces. Damayanti Rout who anchored this master training said, good facilitation means unlearning. We need to be open for listening, overcome our own biases and prejudices if facilitation has to be democratic. We need to understand the tools as a process of promoting children conversations. Children are central to our planning exercise and tools are only means of getting together, conscientizing and opening space for promoting child clubs in the long run.

Damayanti Rout

For anyone to work with children especially when expecting active participation one has to be clear on her/his approach towards the children. The participants are given inputs on participatory rural appraisal tools customized to the CLP process. The tools focused on bringing rapport building, situational analysis, problem analysis and presentation of plans. A few of the mappings and tools used are social map, venn diagram, Mobility mapping, Timeline mapping, Daily activities, seasonality mapping, Problem tree, Solution tree etc.

Each of these participatory tools was designed in an interesting and playful manner to encourage the participation of every child. For instance the social mapping tool, which is an exercise to map out the entire slum as illustrated by the children, gives an opportunity for every child to point out her/his house and the surroundings. Hence, this facilitates for the participation of every child and an outcome of this is a map of their slum as seen through the children’s eyes. Further this map is used to identify and mark out the haves and have-nots of the slum, which would bring more awareness among the children about their community.

Participants during the training

Similarly the mobility mapping is used to mark out the proximity of various institutions and amenities around them; this will help in recognizing the distances and other factors, which would adversely affect a child. The daily activity mapping helps in understanding the daily routine of a child and to recognize her or his duties, burdens, obligations and vulnerabilities living in the conditions provided. Seasonality mapping helps the children understand and be aware of her/his household and parents’ livelihood pattern through various seasons of the year, which would have an impact on the child. The problem tree helps in analysing the problem and identifying the root cause of it. The roots of the tree mark the primary causes of the problem, the tree trunk denote the problem that are being faced due to the causes drawn below which leads to the branching out its subsequent effects which is indicated by the fruits and leaves of the tree. As a consequent to this map a solution tree draw to identify the feasible solutions. After the careful assimilation of the data and information from the maps, the children vigilantly analyze  proper means to draw a roadmap to make their dreams turn into reality and this is designed using a dream map.

Training Sessions

A good facilitation is itself a continuous learning and development for the facilitator. The facilitator is like a catalyst, who facilitate process with children as fulcrum and ensure that they take ownership and take collective decisions. The facilitators were taught on how to adapt their skills and learning in the field. A few of them are listed as

  • Go open minded and encourage them to open up and share
  • Respecting children just as one would respect an elder
  • Providing equal opportunity to all children
  • Facilitating a democratic participation
  • Building leadership qualities in them, especially in terms of claiming and standing up for their rights
  • Being creative
  • Be enthusiastic and build enthusiasm
  • Being a good listener
  • Giving space to the children
  • Believing their views and valuing them
  • Being sensitive
  • Being patient
  • Have empathy
  • Not imposing one’s own ideas

Adopting these approaches the Humara Bachpan Campaign is dedicated towards fostering children to understand the issues, analyze the problems, and Plan the outcome & solutions, demand and negotiate for a child friendly cities. The training was conducted in a participatory mode with trainees adding value to the entire process. As part of the training session the interdisciplinary teams of facilitators were taken on a field trip to practice what they have learnt. This gave them an immediate firsthand experience of the effectiveness and challenges of approaching a community and using participatory tools. Participating on these exercises the children have an in-depth understanding and build awareness of their environment, identify and start planning for solutions with expertise.

Children Participating

One of the interesting areas of the training is to identify challenges in implementation of the CLP process, which really helped in bridging the gap between management team and facilitators. CRC team members who will be part of video documentation had also participated and contributed to the process. “This training is eye opener for me, it gave me insight into children perspective into urban planning”, said Abhishek Devara team member CRC.

@Team HBC– The HBC team comprise of young and experienced people with varied exposure in development sector as well as from other fields. Many of them are attentive and positive towards training. The team is led by young leader in Preeti Prada who believes in driving process through delegation of responsibility and accountability of the local leadership in cities. Unless the regional team members believes in the CLP process and conviction comes from the heart it would be difficult to go ahead says Preeti Prada, confidence personified. The team also demonstrated collective leadership, openness and ability to discuss and debate on disagreements. Damayanti Rout who has years of experience in grounding participatory studies is upbeat about the campaign. “We have a huge task but it is achievable and I feel now the team is geared up for the show”, says Damayanti with a big smile.

Preeti Prada

Ms. Preeti Prada National Coordinator HBC on the CLP process

Voices of Trainees

  • This training program was very beneficial to me as part of implementing the Child Led Planning Process in the slums I am working. Earlier I wasn’t aware of these tools but now I understand and am excited about it.         –Manju, Field Coordinator, Delhi.
  • Participatory tools are something entirely new for me; I had good experience learning about them. These tools will help in encouraging participation from children and thereby make them aware of their rights.     –Puneet, Field Coordinator, Bangalore.
  • I had a great time here meeting all the city coordinator from different states; it is a new learning for me in terms of using participatory tools for children. This method would definitely be useful during the Child Led Planning Process because these tools were designed especially for the children. -Sonu Solanki, City Coordinators, Bhopal.
  • PRA is excellent tool when you want to have an in-depth knowledge about the community you are working with, using this tool we can encourage participation and disclose every issue they are facing. I have worked on PRA tools earlier but this is the first time we are using them for children.     –Aakash Srivasthav, Field Coordinator, Fareedabad, Hariyana.
  • This training was an orientation for the new joiners and also for everyone in terms of using PRA tools. Earlier in our program we had adults who led the children and built awareness but this a completely different approach which will help children identify and raise the issues on their own.                                 –Vijeesh, HBC Coordinator, Bangalore
  • I must thank HBC for giving us opportunity to participate in this training, which would be useful in designing right strategies for video documentation.       – Shruti Apsingiker

By, CRC Team- Vishy, Abhishek and Shruti

Cries and Whispers

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CRUELTY THAT LIES IN MIGRANT LIVES

Minor migrant girls were sexually harassed by brick kiln owner in Karimnagar district, and the employees at the brick kiln were tormented and ripped off life’s basic amenities.

Orissa’s share is 2.5 million and is considered a key state for supply of migrant labour. The brick kiln industry is today growing on a faster scale and contributing to the development of infrastructure growth in India. Children of seasonal migrants often migrate with their parents, and they are particularly vulnerable to child labour. Seasonal work sites at destination – often in agriculture but also in for instance brick kilns – are often far away from schools and other services, and school admission on a seasonal basis may be problematic, so children come along with their parents and work. Children who migrate without their parents are especially vulnerable to exploitation, coercion, deception and violence particularly if they are under the age of employment. Around 87 migrant workers including 18 children from Orissa, who were living in misery and torture in a brick kiln on the outskirts of Choppadandi which is located in Karimnagar district in Andhra Pradesh, were rescued by voluntary organizations with the support of the police. The women and the girl children were sexually harassed by the brick kiln owner. Three minor girls were allegedly raped by Lingampally Kishan(40) the proprietor of the brick kiln manufacturing unit, they had poured out their woes before a team of representatives of the voluntary organizations.

The owner seized 70 cell phones of migrant labourers. Fortunately, one of the migrants had hidden his cell phone under the ground and time to time informed his relatives about the slavery situation at the worksite. After 5 days of investigation, the labourers contacted their family and said they were threatened prior to the investigation by the owner to give faulty replies. The matter sparked out when Aide et Action staff received a call from the migrant who had hidden his cell phone under the ground. He informed about a girl named Geeta (Name changed) aged about 16 years, being sexually harassed  by the brick kiln owner on 6th April, 2014. Two more minor girls namely Rama and Priya (name changed) were also reported of being sexually harassed by the owner at the worksite. According to the girls, the owner often used to call them in his office during midnight and in an intoxicated state used to sexually assault them. “He used to sexually assault the victims all in the age group of 13-15 years frequently,” said Peddapalli DSP P.Venugopal Rao.

27 people including 7 children from Gaisilet and Padampur block migrated to Chopadandi on 2nd December, 2013. Each of them were given an amount of Rs.15000 as an advance by the local labour contractors namely Mr. Budhu Kumbhar Akshaya Rana of and Dahita village, to work as labourers in Andhra Pradesh. The labour contractor assured them to provide better worksite facilities. When the workers arrived at AP, the brick kiln owner started torturing them since the very first day and did not provide proper shelter, food & water, healthcare and education to their children. Each family was forced to produce 4000 to 5000 bricks per day. The owner kept abusing the labourers and also used physical strength to torture them. Two of the migrant labourers, Mr. Raju Bariha and Mr. Pitambar Bariha resisted this torture, they were hung upside down in a house by a rope by the brick kiln owner and were severely beaten up. Mr. Pitambar Bariha was beaten up on his head and ear using thick wooden stick which caused bleeding from his ears. He had vomited blood recently and later got checked at CDMO office, Padampur. Raju Bariha, a migrant labourer who worked at the brick kiln said that he had run away and hid in a well to avoid the wrath of the brick kiln owner, who would beat him severely with a huge stick demanding more work.

With the help of another fellow worker, both the workers escaped from the brick kiln and returned back to their native place on 28th February. On 1st March, they personally met and intimated in writing to the ADM and DLO of Bargarh for rescue of other hostage labourers at the brick kiln in AP. But the district administration turned a deaf ear to their plea. Hence they went to meet the SHRC commissioner who ordered the labour commissioner to rescue the rest of the migrant labourers kept under hostage. Thereafter, the District Labour Officer went to the Brick kiln for investigation. After investigating the matter, the DLO reported of migrants not willing to leave the brick kiln. According to the DLO, labourers there were living in peace with no one torturing or harassing them. The migrant labourers alleged that they were held captive by the owner and were forced to work for extra hours without proper worksite facilities. The labourers which include women and children live malnourished lives, housed in claustrophobic spaces, paid a pittance and with no proper medical care and lead a harrowing life. The migrant workers were illegally under confinement under the brick kiln owner for more than 2 years. One family was confined for more than 22 years.  On the official request of the superintendent of the police of Balangir district, Aide et Action coordinated the rescue with the support from SP, Medak district. The Medak district administration has released them under the bonded labour (prohibition and regulation act) 1976.

“We are forced to work for atleast 20 hours a day making 4,000 to 5,000 bricks in a day,” Chandra Dharua

 

Chandra Dharua a 45 year old migrant worker and his wife had gone to Andhra Pradesh 22 years ago to work in a brick kiln, however the brick kiln owner did not let them go and held them in confinement. Umi Daniel, head of Aide-et-Action, said Dharua had become numb following his years of toil in confinement. “As he opened up with every passing day, the tragic story of his is coming out. His elder daughter was born in a brick kiln and married off in the same place at a tender age. One of his kids has tuberculosis. Besides, all his children are suffering from malnutrition,” Mr. Daniel said, adding that efforts should be made to provide the family job and food.

 

“We starve for two to three days as the owner does not even give us money for the purchase of food. Even if the children suffer from fever and other ailments, we rely on the mercy of the kiln owner for treatment by an RMP doctor at the worksite,”

Kumari Sona(brick kiln labourer)

 

After discussing the matter with Mr. Umi Daniel, Regional Head, Migration thematic unit, MiRC, Aide et Action South Asia, a team involving Mr. Teki Vishy Director of CRC, Loksatta, Udyam Samasta, Aide et Action and media representative of Karimnagar visited the brick kiln at Chopadandi to rescue the migrant labourers kept in hostage. Prior to their visit, the team collectively met the Superintendent of Police, Karimnagar to take quick action against the owner. Later a team was jointly formed to inspect the site and enquire the migrants about the matter. But due to fear, migrants once again did not speak anything against the brick kiln owner. It was during this time when the victim, Geeta came forward and described in detail the situation faced by them at the brick kiln. Seeing the girl speak, other migrants joined in and explained the inhumane treatment they faced. Aide et Action along with local NGO facilitated their return by providing all amenities to them. CRC Hyderabad director T.V.V.Rao, said the owner had been harassing the labourers for the last four months. The rest of the three rescued migrants were taken by the local police to the police station in order to record their statement. As per the statement of the victims, they were sexually abused by the owner named Mr. Lingampally Kishan. The police then sent the three victims to the DHH, Karimnagar for medical examination. After receiving the details of their medical report from DHH, a FIR was filed by the police under the Act and section 376(2) (i) 506 of IPC, sec 3&4 POSCO Act -2012. The owner was arrested under charges of rape and was sent to the District Fast Track Court.The District Session Judge, Miss Kshyama Despande recorded the statements of victims individually. The Hon’ble Judge advised all three minor girls to return to their native place and get enrolled into a school. Later, the team of Aide et Action with the help of local NGOs PARDA and PAP repatriated them back to their village but due to summer vacations, the victims were not able to join school.

 

Later on 8th May, 2014, Mr. Umi Daniel visited Bhela village in Komna block of Nuapada. Prior to his visit AEA team met the Superintendent of Police, Nuapada and handed over the FIR copy to him. The team also had a meeting with the SP and the Child Welfare Committee who were informed about the incident after which the committee assigned the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) to investigate the matter and submit a report. Mr. Umi Daniel met the rescued labourers and two of the girls who were raped. During his visit to the native place of the victims, Mr. Daniel was accompanied by the DCPO of Nuapada and local NGO, PARDA. A letter pertaining to the case was submitted by Mr. Umi Daniel to the DCPO who promised to provide the victims proper care and protection. The matter was also discussed with the Director of Women and Child Development (DWCD) who assured of visiting the families along with the team of AEA. When the team met the families, the parents of the rape victims sounded to be hopeful and confident and showed their full support in fighting this case out.

Next day i.e on 9th May, Mr. Umi Daniel and team went to Badipali village of Bargarh and met another rape victim. They were accompanied by local NGO, PAP. Meanwhile, AEA field staff  Sumi stayed in the house of the victim and counseled her which helped the victim to regain her confidence. A village meeting was organized the same day involving the Bonded Labour Organization named – Dadan Goti Shramik Suraksha Manch (DGSSM) wherein the local media was also called to attend the meeting. However, AEA prevented the media from highlighting the issue. The team is still trying its best to get together to provide justice to the girls.Just after the migrants returned their villages, Mr. Umi Daniel along with Teki Vishy (CRC), visited Karimnagar where he had held discussions regarding the case with local activists, consumer protection forum, members of the Loksatta Party, CRC Hyderabad and media personnels. Where the meeting was held, the team was thanked for contributing in the release of the migrant labourers. According to them such incidents kept happening in the brick kilns of the area, the society assured the team that they will take necessary steps and keep a check on the owners so that such incidents do not happen in future.

“The condition of the labourers were worse than bonded labour, none should suffer such kind of situation. Government officials should ensure the migrants have adequate facilities at all worksites.”

N.Srinivas(Lok Satta Udyama Samastha district president)

 

Migration has become an integral part of livelihood strategies, pursued by a large number of poor people living in underdeveloped areas. About two out of ten Indians are integral migrants, who have moved across district or state lines—a rate notable for the sheer numbers who move within a country with a population that tops 1.2 billion. Migration is an important feature of human civilization. It reflects, human endeavor to survive in the most testing conditions both natural and man-made. Migration in India has existed historically, but in the context of globalization and opening up of the world economy it has assumed special significance for the country and the society. As a consequence of historical and economic factors, there are serious income disparities, agrarian distress, inadequate employment generation, vast growth of informal economy and the resultant migration from rural areas to urban, urban to urban and backward to comparatively advanced regions in the most appalling conditions. It is a complex phenomenon and closely related to economic and social factors. The various patterns and reasons for migration in India are – economic conditions, socio-cultural setting, caste and ethnicity, education, the skilled or less skilled poor, conflict, natural disaster, forced displacement and distress migration.

According to a study 77% of the population i.e. nearly 840 million Indians live on less than Rs.20 (40 cents) a day. Internal migration often involves long working hours, poor living and working conditions, social isolation and poor access to basic amenities like health care facilities, proper housing and basic food facilities.The constraints faced by migrants are many–lack of formal residency rights; lack of identity proof, lack of political representation, low-paid, insecure or hazardous work: limited access to state-provided services such as health and education and discrimination based on ethnicity, religion, class or gender. Yet internal migration is given very low priority by the government in policy and practice, partly due to a serious knowledge gap on its extent, nature and magnitude.

Human migration affects population patterns and characteristics, social and cultural patterns and processes, economies and physical environments. As people move, their cultural traits and ideas diffuse along with them, creating and modifying cultural landscapes.IMG_20140419_120116

Communication Resource Centre

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Communication Resource Centre

Communication Resource Centre aims at building knowledge base of clients on social matters cutting across issues that affect our day to day lives from education, environment, health as well as Climate Change. What we aim is, to make knowledge transparent by promoting public debates on various issues that impact citizens directly or indirectly.

Few steps MORE

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Few Steps MORE is a short video on how poor and vulnerable communities in Andhra Pradesh are exercising their right to information. Social Audits are introduced by the Government of Andhra Pradesh to promote community participation in National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as well as promote transparency and accountability. Since 2006, 4440 social audits are conducted in AP where communities came forward and audited wage works implemented by the government. Though a meagre Rs.30 crores is recovered from identified Rs250 crore of misappropriation but the process is bringing poor and vulnerable groups to come together and speak up against corruption in country side. Andhra Pradesh is the first state in India to initiate a separate unit called SSAAT headed by renowned right to information activist Ms.Soumya Kidambi.

We CAN

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We CAN

We CAN is a short video on how poor and vulnerable communities in Andhra Pradesh are exercising their right to information. Social Audits are introduced by the Government of Andhra Pradesh to promote community participation in National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme as well as promote transparency and accountability. Since 2006, 4440 social audits are conducted in AP where communities came forward and audited wage works implemented by the government. Though a meagre Rs.30 crores is recovered from identified Rs250 crore of misappropriation but the process is bringing poor and vulnerable groups to come together and speak up against corruption in country side. Andhra Pradesh is the first state in India to initiate a separate unit called SSAAT headed by renowned right to information activist Ms.Soumya Kidambi.

Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI)

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Sustainable Sugarcane Initiative (SSI)

Sugarcane, one of the largest commercial crops in India (comprising tropical and subtropical region cutting across 12 states) has around 45 million sugarcane growers a larger portion of rural labourers relying on this industry for their income. After rice, sugarcane employs the highest number of labour and 60 percent of them being women. Besides sugar, sugarcane is in great demand for various by products such as fodder, paper production and most importantly bio fuels. Ethanol a byproduct of sugar cane hugely contributes to alcohol production (2300 million litres in 2007) in India. Many sugar mills also produce electricity using the bagas, the waste material after extracting the juice.

Perhaps, one of the most important challenge, which might determine the future of Sugar Industry in India is that farmers, most of them small holders, are shifting to other crops and  Indian sugar mills are likely to face major crisis with respect to availability of sugarcane owing to fall in production. Some of the reasons attributing to low production and productivity are a) increasing cost of production, b) lack of consistency in price support system, c) lack of sustainable farm practices and innovative production techniques and e) lack of proper extension support. Particularly, the seed cost and cost of fuel for irrigation are estimated to be about 15 percent and 14 percent respectively of the total cost of cultivation, and this is next only to the labor cost at 21 percent

This video is a small case study of women farmers who achieved saved water, energy and expenditure on farm inputs by adapting SSI technologies in Latur district of Maharashtra. SSI can radically improve the net profits of farmers due to improved yields, crop diversification and use of less input like seed, water, fertilizers and pesticides.

My upcoming video on Kakinada Special Economic Zone

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Struggle for Survival

Struggle for Survival is a short video on displaced communities of Kakinada, where Government proposed to set up Special Economic Zone. The revenue department so far acquired 4800 out of 10000 acres of land from the farmers using threat and coercion. The film provides alternate perspective on livelihoods of coastal communities such as fishers, farmers, shepherd, toddy tappers, landless labor who are integral to local economy. Kakinada also boast of India’s richest mangroves, which are on the verge of being wiped out due to rapid industrialization and setting up of Reliance Gas project off the shore of KG basin.

The proposed SEZ will affect nearly 100000 population in 16 blocks and affect 20000 fishermen directly. The film gets close to communities in understanding the notion of ‘development’ from their perspective. The video captures voices of those affected by displacement and provides an environment dimension to their survival in terms of work, shelter and access to common property resources. As per earlier plans of Government ONGC (Oil & Natural Gas Commission) had plans to set up a refinery that would have serious implications on local groundwater resources. Struggle for Survival provides vivid details of ongoing land acquisition in Kakinada despite hue and cry raised by local communities. The SEZ proposal envisages setting up of hotels, parks and residential facilities in 70% of the land where crops are raised thrice a year. East Godavari district one of the fertile lands in Andhra Pradesh contributes to 10 percent of state food production.

The film captures the efforts of Kadali Network a people’s platform of farmer groups, landless labor and other occupational groups in taking forward anti SEZ movement in Kakinada. Government has so far filed criminal cases against activists and farmers for resisting against setting up of SEZ. The ruling and opposition MLAs have sold around 1000 acres of  land which they were holding under benami names to avoid land ceiling act to  Kakinada SEZ Pvt Ltd. The case study of Kakinada SEZ assumes importance in the light of new Land Acquisition bill, which is being introduced in the parliament. Though the bill promises better compensation to those affected, is not taking note of livelihoods of the most marginalized communities in this country. Struggle for Survival is a testimony of the conflict built into lives of traditional communities by the neo liberal governments which are keen to attract investments in the name of development. The video also advocate for changes in SEZ by showcasing lives and livelihoods of traditional communities who are excluded from new economy.

The video has been shot over a period of 3 years during my work with coastal communities on displacement. National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) and Human Rights Forum has supported the movement. The late noted human rights activist Dr.Balgopal has visited farmers 10 times during 2006-2009 and provided backbone support to the anti SEZ movement in Kakinada. Communication Resource Centre an NGO and Kadali Network have produced the film with support from other NGOs in Andhra Pradesh.

Untold story of frustration built in telangana by extrarordinary growth of India

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Why Film on Suicides in the context of Telangana?

Telangana movement at this juncture of Indian history, is not a slogan of political parties but it has assumed a form of dissent for many groups- farmers, dalits, tribals and other traditional occupational castes in the region. The extraneous reasons as discussed and debated in media might have prompted Government of India to push the case for the process, but it never expected that class conflict will assume such proportions that it will spread to smaller individuals such as masons, goldsmiths and toddy tappers. As a Hyderabadi, I was perturbed by the media induced morbidity that not only influenced viewers in small villages but set an agenda for a separate state- as a solution for the consistent marginalization of poor in the state. The contest is beyond any arguments for separate or united state, as youth disillusioned by the failure of state started expressing, unfortunately through suicides. The tension that youth from above mentioned social groups has undergone in the last two decades is to do the way life is structured for millions in country side, excluding from larger growth story of India. There might be parallels the way fishing communities are marginalized, tribals are displaced, dalits migrated, farmers committed suicides and muslim minorities are deprived in other regions, but the fact that these groups in Telangana found an umbrella connected by mass media with consistent images of death, violence and dissent.

“Nana, do we belong to coastal Andhra? But I am a telangana person right? You are half Andhra and half telangana and nanamma is full Andhra” is my daughter’s comment who is just 10 year old. “the students should be bashed for this bandh. Is this state/city belonging to them? Why don’t they work hard and come up in life?” cribbed my co-brother (works for WIPRO and draws five figure salary) who is son of Professor who migrated to city from Karnataka in late fiftees. As the mainstream media is corporatized and failed completely in promoting debates on poverty and injustice I felt need for getting close to the families which suffered not due to death of their kin and kith but are caught between state and way of living. The mass media in Andhra Pradesh run by businessmen (mostly owned from sudden wealth generated in last 10 years) do not understand that majority of the population are struggling to survive with false sense of development and live increasing disconnect between promise and delivery.

The film is an attempt to understand structural reasons of poverty and deprivation that forced people to choose suicides as an expression of dissent. Though it might be premature to define these deaths as expression of dissent by subaltern groups but fight over lands, debates on ownership of Hyderabad city in case of separate telangana, fear of sharing of waters and debates on agreements which were signed before formation of state, that dotted television shows do give an indication of isolation of these groups in the larger development processes. NREGA and waiving of farmer loans might have worked in electoral calculations but large number of population are unhappy with livelihoods, concentration of capital in few hands, new economic growth that undermined their existing traditional skills and current movement for separate state has brought primordial identities such as ethnicity to force open political debates in villages. At this juncture I believe that this movement is a unique challenge to modern Indian state that subjugated voices of poor as law and order problem. As I write these few lines explaining I remember an elderly lambada women in Warangal district saying- we had korralu, sajjalu, jonnalu and XXXXX (don’t remember) in the past, but we lost all those seeds due to various reasons (could not articulate but I understood). Agriculture crisis, debts, failure of social security system and highly feudal nature of political systems reduced options for many youth. I think the film sums up the frustration of these communities to lend credence to argument of larger political failure of our governance that excluded marginalized and created new economic equations in an unjust socially divided society of ours.

I tried buying one acre of land for half its price after recession from our house maid’s brother, as he is forced to sell his land to meet his daughter’s marriage. But eventually they sold to another house owner who gave them cash during marriage. Though I do not have one rupee but confident that CITI bank will give top up loan on my house loan. Unfortunately the dalit family lost land as well as future of daughter as the boy died in an accident. That sums up the story of these suicides. Water, land and assets are bone of contention for many in telangana region, as they continue to struggle from past into new economy. The incident has challenged my position and questioned my identity- Am I a settler son or another exploiter. I felt neither nor and the search is rooted very in much attempting this film.

Hello world!

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Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can alway preview any post or edit you before you share it to the world.