Anveshi Public Panel on Health Care in Contemporary India: Strengths and Pitfalls of Current Strategies
was held on 9th February 2013 Sundarayya Vignana Kendram Main Hall, 5.30 PM
Dr.Binayak Sen (Health care professional and human rights activist) - Chair
Dr. Rajan Shukla (Asst Professor Indian Institute of Public Health, thinker and activist) The structure and experience of Aarogyasri in AP
Mr.Srikanth (CEO Aarogyasri Health Care Trust) The present and future directions for Aarogyasri
Dr. Kameshwari (Practicing Gynecologist, Head, Women's Unit, Life-Health Reinforcement Group) The case of excessive hysterectomies in Aarogyasri
Dr. Abhay Shukla (Coordinator SATHI Pune, public health professional and health activist) The emerging directions of Universal Access to Health Care in India
Dr. Anant Phadke (Co-convener Jay Aarogya Abhiyan and founder member All India Drug Action Network) Free medicines for all, experiment, experience and implications
Medico Friend Circle Annual Meeting
February 8-9, 2013
The Annual Conference of the Medico Friend Circle was cooperatively hosted and organized by Anveshi at Hyderabad (for the first time), on 8th and 9th February 2013 followed by the general body meeting on the 10th. The venue was Satyodayam Retreat at Tarnaka in Hyderabad. The theme of the conference was “Work, Health and Rights”. Sub topics included social security, occupational health, informal work, women and work, safai karamchari work, surrogacy, silicosis among mine workers, a review of work and security in the 21st Century, a review of policy studies and reports like the Shramshakti report, the National Committee for Employment in the Unorganized Sector reports, etc., in relation to questions of health care. Strategies for security advocacy, occupational health activism and trade union activism were discussed.
The following is a select list of the workshops and conferences that Anveshi organised in the last several years. Many of these were organised in collaboration with academic institutions and other interest groups. These events have often served as an interactive space for scholars, activists and the general public.
Apart from these, Anveshi also organises regular meetings, talks and public events on topical issues. Anveshi members can join the mailing list which will keep you updated on current events.
Course for the faculty in Medical Humanities at Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, February to June 2011
The CMC-Anveshi health collective conducted a faculty training programme in the medical humanities. The faculty training programme was conducted in the form of three two day workshops on March 16th, 17th, April 13th, 14th and on June 1st and 2nd. The first two day workshop focused on the context of health and healthcare in India, i.e., development, neoliberalism, governmentality, etc. The second two day workshop examined the concept of disease, its relation to context and variability, nutrition, pharmaceutical interest, universal health care and ways to understand the concept of health. The third two day workshop examined the question of practice and its importance in medical care, the problems it throws up in terms of specific skills, appropriateness and in much broader terms of justice and accountability. It also looked at some of the questions of how to think about a pedagogic approach to the question of medical practice.
Book launch of 'No Alphabet in Sight' on 20th April, 2011
Anveshi co-hosted the book launch of No Alphabet in Sight edited by K.Satyanarayana and Susie Tharu published by Penguin on 20th April at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. Dr.Sanal Mohan from Mahatma Gandhi University and Prof.K.Srinivasulu from Osmania University reviewed the book. Both the editors also spoke at the meeting.
K.Satyanarayana on “Notes on dalit politics of caste and identity”, 16th April, 2011
K.Satyanarayana, elaborated on the context of the discussion of ‘astitvam’ in the Telugu public sphere. After noting the salient points that arose in the Andhra Jyothi discussion on ‘astitvam’ in 2010, he said that such a discussion is not new to Telugu public sphere. He traced the discussion on identity to the historic debates among the ML parties two decades ago. Even as the astitvavaadulu raise problems with the left debates on identity, the arguments remain to sketchy and need to be fleshed out.
Parcha Kishan Rao on Politics of intra-state river water distribution:
The case of river Krishna on 26th March, 2011
Kishan Rao Parcha is an engineer by education and a farmer by choice. His ancestral village Chinna Mandava in Khammam district has Munneru river on one side and Krishna district on the other. His family owns and cultivates land in Krishna district too. Both these adjacent lands lying in Telangana and Andhra regions receive Krishna waters through the left canal of Nagarjuna Sagar. Chinna Mandava is situated in the tail-end of the command area. Having watched the irrigation scenario on both sides, he developed a keen interest in the politics of intra-state river water distribution. He has published his views in Telugu newspapers and has also given a memorandum to the Sri Krishna Committee on this issue. K.Sajaya will preside over the meeting.
Jennifer Fluri on Gender and International Intervention in Afghanistan 12th March, 2011
Jennifer L. Fluri is an assistant professor in the Geography Department and Women's and Gender Studies Program at Dartmouth College. Her research is regionally focused on South Asia with an emphasis on Afghanistan. Her talk focused on gender-based forms of international intervention and the subsequent impacts on Afghan politics/society. In her talk she critically viewed the politics of international aid and militancy in Afghanistan which force a change in the direction and the priorities of local women’s organizations in Afghanistan. In order to understand the issues of Afghan women, she argued, it would be necessary to understand the framing of their issues, largely shaped by the forces of international aid and militancy.
Conversation with Madeeha Gauhar 3rd March, 2011
Madeeha Gauhar is one of the small group of cultural activists that started Ajoka during the repressive regime of Zia-ul-Haq. For the past 25 years, Ajoka has been part of the struggle for a secular, democratic, just, humane and egalitarian Pakistan. Few cultural institutions have been able to thrive, even survive, in the climate of hostility and apathy towards performing arts that has existed in Pakistan. Most of their plays have been on daring social issues such as dowry, honour killing and discriminatory laws. Juloos, Aik Thi Nani, Mara Hua Kutta, Barri …and with other plays, Ajoka set the wheels turning marking the beginning of the theatre for social change movement in Pakistan. Some of their prominent street and stage plays include Kala Qanoon and Kala Meda Bhes. In collaboration with Indian theatre groups, they also put up Indo-Pak theatre festival Zonani in 2004.
Madhava Prasad on 'Identity', 22nd January 2011
Madhava Prasad spoke delineated different ways in which identity can be conceptualized. He discussed the conceptual distinctions between identity, existence and recognition. While many identity movements are democratic, he argued that it is the politics of such identity struggles that determine the democratic potential. Without an engagement with the structures of dominance, the emphasis on cultural battles may not lead to democratization process.
Yehudi Yelkana’ s on Democracy and Education, 18th January, 2011,
in collaboration with Yugantar and Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS).
Prof. Yelkana spoke about the changes needed in the philosophy and management of higher education, based on his experience of working on these issues in Europe. He argued that higher education should be aimed at producing thinking individuals rather than technocrats or workers. Teaching should be given better respectability, remuneration and prestige equivalent to research in the universities. He also shared his views on the ongoing Israeli onslaught on Palestine.
Women’s Studies Course in Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), January 2011
For the third year in row, Anveshi conducted the Refresher Course in Women’s Studies with Academic Staff College and Department of Women’s Education in MANUU. The theme remains the same: Theories and Issues in Women’s Movement in India: An Introduction. Several members of the Anveshi General Body gave lectures at this course including many Executive Committee members.
Talks Series on Identity
Gogu Shyamala on Identity
Shyamala spoke at length about her understanding of 'astitvam' or 'astitvaalu'. She defined astitvam/astitvaalu as the original caste communities of India who create, produce and protect the natural resources through thier physical and mental labour. They should be called productive castes. In the imagination of Indian democracy, their cultures and knowledges do not count. They also do not seem to count in the imagination of the Indian left, who visualize a unified working class rather than thinking of working castes. Instead, their culture(s) get degraded. In contrast, it is the minority that enjoys the disproportionate share of the resources, educational and health benefits. Identity movements are many hued. Maadiga Dandora movement for the categorization of SCs has been an important one. The Telangana movement has been another important identity movement. The former sought the just sharing of state resources. How can the latter be called an identity movement? Because, there is stereotyping and cultural denigration involved in the Telangana question too.
Short course in women’s studies at Satavahana University, Karimnagar, October 2010
The course was conceived as an attempt to understand and influence the current discourse on gender at the muffasil universities. Given the limited access that the students have to resources and debates, we designed the course in a way that they would be able to relate to the discussions.
Satavaahana University students, majority of who belong to SC and BC sections, being in the heart of Telangana movement, we hoped would be able to understand issues related to history, law, nutrition, Dalit questions and the impact of globalization. The four day course was designed with lectures and discussions around these issues.
The first day’s session was on gender and history. The Anveshi group thought that ‘We were making history’ would be a good entry point to introduce the discussion on gender for one has heard that almost all students in all Telangana Universities are active in the movement for a separate state of Telangana. Lalita's lecture was received very well. Most of the students did not know that there were women in Telangana armed struggle of 1948 and were glad to know this. Shyamala's talk picked up many themes from Lalita's, elaborated them and went on to describe Nallapoddu. Her presence there, as a Telanagana Dalit intellectual, discussing the Dalit writings of the entire Andhra Pradesh was very important. It conveyed the importance of scholarship for all those who are interested in the movements.
The second day’s session was on gender, health and food. Many students also turned up to watch the films that were screened. A whole range of issues from nutrition, food and hunger were discussed on this day. On third day, five groups of students made presentations based on the essays from Quotapai Charcha. Subhadra's talk on Dalit women and reservations in Panchayat Raj also underscored some of the complexities about the question of women's reservations though the experiences of Dalit women.
On the fourth day, Rama Melkote spoke about globalization process and the paradigm shifts that it has brought in knowledge and thinking and discussed how it impacted the university education in Telangana. Vasudha discussed the changes in the law brought by the women's movement about dowry, domestic violence and the workings of 498A law in and outside the courts. It was well received because it was interspersed with several anecdotes and court asides.
The course had on an average there were 50 to 60 students in each session, going to over 100 in one. All are post graduate students, male and female, from different disciplines ranging from sociology (maximum number - 30), Telugu literature, English lit, Chemistry and Urdu lit. The sociology and Urdu group were most active. Though slow to warm up, many students had questions for the speakers and expressed anxieties such a course inevitably tends to generate. But the students were eager to learn, were glad that they came to know of many new issues and new people.
Through out the course, there were two directions/guiding in thinking that the students received. However, they did not clash. One was being pushed by Sujatha, who sought to foreground the importance of changes in personal life by learning about gender inequality. As such, she stressed on the need to take a stand on issues such as dowry, women students' freedom of movement and speech, male students' tendency to dismiss their women colleagues, women's students' fears etc. The second was being pushed by the entire Anveshi group - of taking gender as an element of thought in intellectual inquiry and the partial and biased nature of knowledge one acquires through disciplinary training in the universities. The University administration were quite cooperative though they could not offer any financial support. The course closed with a certificate presentation programme on the last day, with Registrar and Head of the Dept of Sociology giving away the certificates. Nearly 100 students came to take certificates.
Discussion with Kancha Ilaiah on ‘Post Hindu India’, 5th October 2010
Prof. Ilaiah's talk was structured as a response to the reviews of his book. Almost ten reviews were circulated in advance to the audience. He defended his book against the charges that it lacks methodology and does not follow conventions of social science writing. He argued that as an insider to the caste communities that he has lived with-in, he has had access to many backward caste and Dalit communities. The skills and knowledges of such communities do not feature in the mainstream culture, including academic writing and institutions. The lack of acknolwledgment leads to a cultural devaluation of the caste communities and a scientific denigration of thier skills. In order for such acknowledgment to enter the mainstream, he thinks that it is important that these cultures be written about in a methodical manner. He argued that such a logical exercise should be considered scientific. Two, he also argued that only when such a recognition and valuation of Dalit bahujan cultures enters the mainstream, it becomes possible to build a movement/campaign against 'spiritual fascism' in the country.
Srimati Basu on Playing off Courts: The Negotiation of Divorce and Violence in Plural Legal Settings in Kolkata, 7th July, 2010.
Srimati Basu, an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies (and Anthropology) spoke on her work around the feminist counseling centres in Calcutta and the negotiations that occur there.
Reading Workshop on Development for Telangana
On the 17th July 2010, we organized a workshop on development theory with an eye to the emerging situation in Telangana. The objective of the workshop was to provide access to recent theoretical advances in the social sciences in relation to recent understandings of development. In view of this aim, the design of the workshop was to have three presentations of different influential readings of development.
The Gram Nyayalaya Act: The New Face of the Judiciary
(A draft report on a roundtable conducted by the Anveshi Law Initiative on 19th September 2009)
The Gram Nyayalayas Act received the assent of the President in January 2009. The Act proposes to set up a Magistrate’s court at the Mandal level. In a press release issued on Gandhi Jayanti, the Centre announced that there shall be 5000 new courts across the country, that it shall spend approximately 1400 crores for its institution. Interestingly the same press release adds that the Centre is drawing a road map for judicial reforms. That the setting up of the Gram Nyayalaya is an important measure to reduce the arrears of the courts in the subordinate courts and that it is estimated that it will cut the arrears by 50%. Any discussion of law reform either by the Chief Justice or the Law Minister have touched upon the setting up of these courts primarily in terms of its impact on reduction of pendency of cases in subordinate courts.
It is true that the large volume of pendency of cases is a crippling feature of the Indian judiciary. The long drawn proceedings wear out the litigant, especially if she is poor and weak in her resources. There is no doubt that speedy disposal is crucial both for the litigant as well as the institutional mandates. An emphasis on speedy disposal raises doubts if these are moves which are being made to manage the arrears of the cases or to enable better access to the litigant-people. Surely long pendency is not the only issue which affects a litigant’s life in the courts. In the case of the Gram Nyayalayas, a court that is closer to the rural litigant and a speedy disposal are definitely laudable objective of the legal system. The Act resounds with the language of the alternate dispute redressal such as plea-bargaining in criminal cases, mediation, conciliation and settlement in civil cases. Several lingering doubts exist about the other motives of establishing these courts. A roundtable was organized in Hyderabad on 19 September 2009 with several lawyers practicing in District Courts to discuss the scope, possibilities and agendas of the institution of these new courts. The following is a report of the main issues that came up in the discussion. Before moving into the discussion in the Round Table, it is important to dwell briefly on the background of this concept and the description of this new court.
Background to the Concept of the Gram Nyayalaya
The concept of the Gram Nyayalaya was proposed by the 114th Law Commission (LC) report way back in 1986. The report recommends the concept of the Gram Nyayalaya with two objectives in mind. In its first recommendation it proposes that a participatory forum of justice can be introduced through the institution of the Gram Nyayalaya. The second objective was that these courts would tackle the backlog and ever increasing arrears of the District and High Courts. This is the reason why the appeal from the decisions of the Gram Nyayalaya is limited to the District Courts, an important measure in cutting the arrears of the High Court. To make it participatory the Law Commission recommended that the Magistrate be accompanied by two laypersons who shall act as Judges. It was envisaged that the legal training of the Magistrate would be complemented by the knowledge of the laypersons who would bring in the much required socio-economic aspects to adjudication. However this plan has been set aside in the current Act and we find the Gram Nyayalaya manned by the Judicial First Class Magistrate.
It is interesting to note that the Law Commission observes that a Gram Nyayalaya would be ideally suited for the villages as the nature of disputes coming before such a court would be ‘simple, uncomplicated and easy of solution’. It is in such a context that they propose that the Nyayalaya ‘should not be enmeshed in procedural claptrap’. Here again a comparison is made with the dispute resolution mechanisms of the village society where the solution is fast and on the spot. The report repeatedly refers to how a boundary dispute between two lands should not be enmeshed in the time consuming procedures of the universal practices of the Civil Procedure Code. The assumptions about village litigation being simple and quick to resolution are a problematic one which came up repeatedly in the Round Table.
Gram Nyayalaya: A Different Court
The Gram Nyayalaya is a new tier of courts added to the existing hierarchy of courts. In every district headquarters there are sessions courts and civil courts in addition to special courts such as Consumer Courts, Family Courts, SC/ST Atrocities Courts, Labour Courts and Permanent Lok Adalat. Additionally we also have Fast Track Courts. The next tier is the junior civil judges and Magistrates manning civil cases and criminal cases respectively. Often there are courts in which the civil and criminal jurisdiction is clubbed. In all probability the Gram Nyayalayas may be instituted in Mandal headquarters. The Gram Nyayalaya is a combination of the powers of the Junior Civil Judge and the Magistrate as well as well as an additional jurisdiction.
The functioning of this court will be different from the already existing courts having similar jurisdiction, in terms of its objectives, procedure and jurisdiction.
- The Gram Nyayalaya will be a mobile one and will conduct its proceedings in close proximity to the cause of action.
- The proceedings will be carried out in the local language.
- The court fees for any of the civil claims will not exceed Rs 100 irrespective of the worth of the property involved.
- In criminal cases the proceedings will be of a summary nature.
- In civil cases, in execution proceedings, the court will not be bound by the Code of Civil Procedure and will be guided by principles of natural justice.
- The Nyayalaya may accept documents that may not be strictly admissible under the Indian Evidence Act.
- All the orders (except consent orders) of the Nyayalaya can be appealed in the District Court and no further.
- In criminal cases the accused can petition the court for plea-bargaining.
The Magistrate presiding in this court will be called a Nyayadhikari, and the court itself called Gram Nyayalaya, a move hitherto unknown to the judiciary. The Nyayadhikari will combine the functions of both a Junior Civil Judge and a Magistrate. In addition to her regular adjudicative functions, the Nyayadhikari, will wherever possible, assist, persuade and conciliate the parties in arriving at a settlement.
Gram Nyayalaya’s jurisdiction not only covers civil and criminal cases but also extends to claims and offences arising under the Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Equal Remuneration Act, Protection of Civil Rights Act, Bonded Labour System Act, Domestic Violence Act and Maintenance cases under the Criminal Procedure Code. Additionally, the state government can also append its own list of offences and claims to the schedules of cases tried by this court. The jurisdiction for this court is a special one with emphasis on disputes arising in the context of the village. Thus we have disputes regarding irrigation and water channels, boundary lines, pastures and so on.
Issues in the roundtable
About eighty lawyers practicing in Rangareddy, Warangal and Nalgonda courts attended the roundtable. Broadly speaking the discussion veered around the following issues:
a) The Gram Nyayalaya is the latest in the trend of reforms coming up in the structure of the judiciary. In the context of reduction of arrears fast track Courts and Lok Adalats were introduced. Fast track Courts, entirely funded by the Central government, were instituted in the first phase from 2000 to 2005 and in the second phase from 2005-2010. These courts were set-up with the significant objective of reducing the pendency of criminal cases. Speedy disposal was the key term in their institution. Similarly Lok Adalats were instituted in order to provide for non-adversarial ways of resolving disputes. What began as temporary Lok Adalats in 1982 are now permanent institutions in very district court in Andhra Pradesh. It is noted that several matrimonial cases and motor accident claims are taken to these courts for resolution. In the same context one can also discuss the Family Courts which again espouse speedy disposal, sensitive approach and relaxation of strict rules of evidence and procedure. The character and features of the Gram Nyayalaya is a combination of these three courts. Speedy disposal, flexibility of procedure and mediation in contrast to the full trial emphasized in adversarial process are the key concepts animating judicial reforms in contemporary legal institutions.
b) Village litigation is a complex issue. For a foot of land there are instances where people have initiated cumbersome litigations. The proximity of these courts may lead to more litigation among family members or among neighbors too. What could be resolved with the help of local and customary mechanisms may end up being trapped in these courts. In a way these courts, with its judges and conciliators, will invalidate existing mechanisms of managing disputes in the villages. The new Act says that all suits irrespective of the value of property may be registered with just 100 rupees. While standardizing court fees is indeed enables access to the poorer litigant, it may also lead to excessive litigation. A rich farmer may find it cheaper to trap a poorer farmer into litigation about a boundary dispute .
c) The relaxation of rules of evidence is a troubling feature, especially the rule about admission of documents, even if they are not considered relevant by the Law of Evidence. It is well known that the parties to a dispute are drawn from unequal powers and resources. A more powerful man may be able to play the rules of the law much more to his advantage. His ability to introduce various elements of documentary evidence to counter check the opponent is also well know. It is not that the strict relevancy of documents as stipulated by the Evidence Code has helped the poorer litigant. But at least there has been a standard regarding admission of documents in a trial. However in the Gram Nyayalaya Act this departure from the standard may work either way.
d) The flexibility about procedures and evidence also depends on the Judge presiding in these courts. The discretion Judges exercise in the courts is something unique to each judge. Much depends upon how she would deploy these new aspects of procedure and evidence in the courts. It is common knowledge that some Judges are extremely rule bound while some are not. Some tend to use discretion quite freely which may also tend to become arbitrary. In whose defense and in whose cause will this discretion be used, remains a prickly issue.
e) All proceedings in criminal cases have been made into a summary one. Two important aspects of a summary trial are that charges are not framed and only the gist of evidence is recorded. It was felt that that making summary trial mandatory for all offences tried by the Gram Nyayalaya could be a serious limitation in view of the expanded jurisdiction of these courts. It was queried about what could be gained if full recording of the evidence is given up in favor of the summary recording. What constitutes the ‘gist of evidence’ is something that gets decided by the judge. Assessing the ‘gist of evidence’ clearly involves the decision and discretion of the judge. As it is there is plenty of discretion in how the Judge hears the witness and what he deems important to record. The recording of evidence is often a contested issue leading to many a confrontation between the Bar and the Bench.
f) Plea-bargaining and conciliation: Some apprehension was expressed about the provision of these two aspects in criminal and civil cases. K Balagopal in his note about the Gram Nyayalaya Act commented that the provision of plea-bargaining for all the offences triable in this court is harmful. He pointed that for cases filed by workers under the Minimum Wages Act or women under Domestic Violence Act, plea bargaining would wield lot of pressure on the victims to close the case, which may be detrimental to the interests of the victims. He opined that that law reformers are especially enamoured by provisions such as plea-bargaining and conciliation which are shortcuts to the procedures of real justice.
g) On a more hopeful note, some of the lawyers expressed that the Gram Nyayalayas would be helpful for those people living in remote Mandals of a district. Bheemarjun Reddy, practicing lawyer from Nalgonda gave instances of how, sometimes the rural litigant travels long distances and even sleeps overnight in the court complex to attend her case the following day. He also contradicted the general opinion that such courts would invalidate the existing local mechanisms of solving disputes. He felt that much of the local dispute redressal has been made over into the hands of the goondas, party leaders and police stations. Despite being local and customary, these forums have become expensive and time consuming for the common man. More importantly he pointed out that the interventions of the local mechanisms were not firm enough in concluding the dispute. A similar opinion was also expressed by women from Mahila Samata Programme who welcomed a legal sanctity to the conclusion of disputes in women’s cases.
h) On the proximity of the court to the cause of action and the litigant the following issues were raised. Apart from making it easier for the litigant to reach the court it was opined that the litigant would be able to mobilize her community and impact the procedure in the court. The presence of the litigant’s community in the court provides the much-required show of strength as well as enabling negotiations. A court which is at a closer distance allows the poorer litigant to mobilize her supporters. Here, it was also distinguished that not all petitions to the court are individual claims alone. Some petitions to the court arise from an injury or a violation which affects a community as a whole. K Sajaya cited the example of Chunduru wherein the Special Court tried the batch of offences under the SC/ST Atrocities Act in the village where the massacre had taken place. The Special Court was instituted in response to the specific demand from the Dalit community of Chunduru that the court should adjudicate in their village. On the other hand it was also argued that the proximity of the court might allow for the more powerful litigants to influence the judge.
At the end of the roundtable which lasted for more than four hours, one could not arrive at a fixed assessment about how these new courts will function. There was a dominant reaction that these courts are being set-up with an ulterior motive of ‘managing litigation’ and that it had the single purpose of reducing the pendency of cases. Whether speedy disposal meant speedy justice for the poorer litigant was a recurring question. One was also not sure about what to draw from the other new courts such as fast track courts or the Lok Adalats. About family courts it was clearly the case that the provisions which promised a new definition of court for the issues of the family have not been functioning anywhere near its ideal. To do away with lawyers’ representation or the flexibility of procedure always depended on the particular judge who presided in the courtroom.
 It has decided to meet the non-recurring expenditure on these courts to a ceiling of 18 lakhs and that it shall share with the states the recurring expenditure on these courts for the first three years.
Cultures of Criticism: Filmic Views from a Different Islamic Location
14th October – 31st October
Film: Close Up
14th October at Anveshi Meeting Hall at 4.30 PM
Pretending to be Mohsin Makhmalbaf, Ali Sabzian enters a well-to-do family in Tehran on the pretext of making his next movie. He is caught after he borrows money on the pretext of financing a film and is brought to trial. The actual people involved in the incident re-enact the incidents after which the movie continues to film Ali’s trial in the court, with the camera also playing the role of a judge and the director asking a few questions.
Director: Abbas Kiarostami
Duration: One hour forty minutes
Language: Persian with English subtitles
Film: Divorce – Iranian Style
23rd October, EFLU New Academic Building, at 5.00PM
24th October, Anveshi Meeting Hall, at 3.30 PM
This film documents the everyday functioning of a small Iranian family court: of women filing for divorce, demanding meher, custody of children or seeking to threaten the husbands with divorce. While the formal family laws favour men, the court proceedings reveal a different picture – of women fighting for their due in marriage and divorce, sometimes in the face of imminent defeat. For anyone who has been inside an Indian family court, the similarities in women’s battles and the dissimilarities between the Indian and Iranian courts are difficult to miss. This documentary was made for Channel 4 of BBC.
Made by: Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini
Duration: One hour fifty five minutes
Language: English voice over, conversations in Persian
31st October, Anveshi Meeting Hall, at 3.30 PM
Leila is the story of a young couple whose life begins to change when they come to know that she cannot conceive. Under the pressure of mother in law, Leila persuades her much-reluctant husband to take a second wife, despite the explicit opposition of the rest of her marital family. Thereafter unable to reconcile to it, she leaves the marital home, devastated. While Reza and Leila do not take divorce, her husband’s second marriage does not last. Delicately portraying a critical social issue, Leila went on to become the most watched film in Iran in 1998.
Director: Dariush Mehrjui
Duration: Two hours four minutes
Language: Persian with English subtitles
Steeped in Perso-Islamic culture, Iranian films offer refreshingly interesting perspectives for students of modern democracy, contemporary Islam and Muslims. For Indian researchers and teachers seeking to understand or explain the cultures, laws, traditions, practices and institutions of Muslims in India, Iran and its films present interesting possibilities. To begin with, these films can tell us how a self-confidently Muslim culture would offer critiques of Islamic laws, societal culture, familial relations, and other national institutions. They would tell us that each of the Muslim cultures may be Islamic in a unique sense, inflected by inherited notions of culture, history and the contemporary norms governing their societies. Consequently, they may help in locating Indian critiques of Islam and Muslims - as hailing from a culture where the governing norm is secularism. Anveshi Law Initiative intends to screen a few Iranian films hoping to raise a discussion around such possible readings.
Currently engaged in researching the relationship of Muslim minorities and Law in India, for Anveshi, these films assumed importance also to explore questions such as: how do Muslim women negotiate a modern democratic theological state; how do imaginaries of Iranian cinema deal with Muslim women in such situations; what notions of justice and Islamic norms inform and animate the critical sensibilities of Iranian cinema.
To recapture the context of new Iranian cinema briefly: Iran’s Islamic revolution shook the world nearly thirty years ago in 1978, paving the way for a new discussion about democracy, modernity, revolution and Islam. Post revolutionary Iran’s attempts to institute Islamic values, culture and law, while annoying for Europe and the US turned out to be a deeply contested process with-in Iran. Even a slightly non-superficial knowledge of Iranian politics and history would tell us that neither the meaning of Islamic values, culture and law nor the question of an Islamic state as the harbinger of this process has been ever settled in Iran, including now. Iranian Cinema, along with other institutions, also became an important locus of such contestations. Several directors, script writers, actors who supported the revolution actively participated in the shaping of the post-revolutionary cinema. This included a significant number of women. Working through the censorship norms and promotional schemes, they fashioned a tradition of cinema that is now acknowledged to be immensely rich, having evolved critical philosophical filmic language steeped in the Perso-Islamic culture. Dealing with divergent themes such as war with Iraq, problems of Kurds, Afghan refugees, gender relations, issues of childhood and poverty, disability, courts or Shariat law, they have evolved a self-conscious cultural critique of the society and government, offering perspectives on justice and law, from within norms of Perso-Islamic culture.
Shirly Mary Joseph, 24th September 2009
Shirly Mary Joseph spoke on “Writing for Tribal Children: Reflections from Kanavu Educational Initiative”. She narrated in a thoughtful manner how she and her husband, K.J.Baby founded Kanavu, a school for tribal children in Cheengode, Nadavayal of Wayanad district in North Kerala. Working with students to overcome a history of bondage, Kanavu stressed on education that enhanced tribal children’s sense of self and their cultures. Learning through practice, example and experience has been given emphasis in the school. Students got trained in music, painting, dance, theatre or martial arts. They also got equipped to sit for competitive exams as well. Kanavu students now work for organizations outside Kerala and have earned a formidable reputation as performers of traditional tribal dances and folk songs in Kerala. The school is run on income from students’ performances and is now managed by a board consisting solely of ex-students.
Round Table Discussion on Gram Nyayalaya: The New Face of the Judiciary, 19th September 2009.
This round table was organized by Anveshi Research Centre for Women’ Studies and Human Rights Forum. The following note was circulated in Telugu and English to all the participants.
The Gram Nyayalaya Act, 2008 An Introductory Note
The Gram Nyayalayas Act received the assent of the President in January 2009. The Act proposes to set up a court for every panchayat or a group of panchayats across the country. The objective of the Act is twofold. One, to provide ‘access to justice to the citizens at their doorsteps’ and two, to ‘ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of social, economic or other disabilities’.
Salient features of the Act:
1. The judge presiding in this court is designated as a Nyayadhikari, and the court itself called Gram Nyayalaya, a move quite novel to the judiciary. The Nyayadhikari will combine the judicial functions of both a Junior Civil Judge and a Magistrate. It is explicitly stated that the Nyayadhikari in addition to her regular adjudicative functions, will wherever possible, assist, persuade and conciliate the parties in arriving at a settlement. There will be a panel of official conciliators to help the judge in such mediations.
2. The functioning of this court has been planned differently from that of the existing courts, in terms of its objectives, procedure and jurisdiction.
· The Nyayalaya will be a mobile one and will conduct its proceedings in close proximity to the cause of action.
· The proceedings will be carried out in the local language.
· The court fees for any of the civil claims will not exceed Rs 100 irrespective of the worth of the property involved.
· In civil cases, in execution proceedings, the court will not be bound by the Code of Civil Procedure and will be guided by principles of natural justice.
· The Nyayalaya may accept documents that may not be admissible under the Indian Evidence Act.
· All the orders (except consent orders) of the Nyayalaya can be appealed in the District Court and no further.
3. The Gram Nyayalaya’s jurisdiction has been expanded presumably to suit the litigation arising in villages.
· Claims and offences arising under the Payment of Wages Act, Minimum Wages Act, Equal Remuneration Act, Protection of Civil Rights Act, Bonded Labour System Act.
· Domestic Violence Act and Maintenance cases under the CrPC.
· Civil disputes which covers rights of use of pastures, water channels, shared cultivation, forest produce and other disputes regarding right to purchase of property and use of village and farm houses.
· On the criminal side all those offences which are punishable upto a period of two years; theft and retaining stolen property where the value of the stolen property is not more than 20,000 rupees; criminal intimidation, breach of peace and attempts and abetments of the foregoing offences.
· Additionally, the state government can also append its own list of offences and claims to the schedules of cases tried by the Magistrate.
How did this Act come about?
The concept of the Gram Nyayalaya was proposed by the 114th Law Commission (LC) report in 1986. Such a proposal is made, the report argues, keeping in mind the long history of customary dispute resolution in villages which was local, speedy and inexpensive. The Nyayalaya is proposed as the statutory avatar of these existing practices. The LC report also explains there are two objectives backing this proposal. The first is to introduce a participatory forum of justice and the other is to address the backlog and ever increasing arrears of the District and High Courts. In the LC’s recommendations the judge was accompanied by two lay judges in order to combine the legal expertise with knowledge of local practices. But this aspect has been set aside in the current Act and the Nyayalaya now has a single judge.
The LC also observed that a Nyayalaya would be ideally suited for the villages as the nature of disputes coming before such a court would be ‘simple, uncomplicated and easy of solution’. Such being the nature of dispute, the LC recommended that the Nyayalaya ‘should not be enmeshed in procedural claptrap’. Accordingly the new court is being asked to use its discretion, to conciliate, to depart from the Codes of Procedure and Evidence and to follow principles of natural justice.
What could be the implications?
In Andhra Pradesh, there are 1,124 Mandals covering 21,807 Gram Panchayats. Each district in the state has about 40-60 Mandals. As of now the lowest tier of judiciary, Junior Civil Judge/Magistrate courts, exist in the district headquarters and select Mandals. For instance, in Warangal district there are 51 Mandals of which only 6 Mandals have courts. At the other end of the spectrum is Guntur district which has 57 Mandals and has 25 courts at the Mandal level. But, on an average there are not more than 10-15 courts in Mandal headquarters per district. If the new Act is actually going to set-up these courts at every panchayat level, it will be gigantic in terms of the thousands of courts that will be established in each state.
Undoubtedly, the proposal that courts should be closer to the litigant has been a long standing demand of several movements in the country. Simplification of procedure, a non-adversarial resolution and sensitive dealing of cases are also familiar demands. Even as there is a popular context, one is also a little anxious about the agendas underlying the establishment of these courts. Now that it is legislated, there are several questions being raised about this new court:
· What would be the practical difficulties for the Nyayadhikari in being ‘neutral and wise’ when she is so close to the cause of action?
· How will ‘proximity’ affect the trial processes?
· What will be the nature of adjudication or conciliation if it begins with the assumption that village litigation is simple and capable of being resolved on the spot?
· Is the setting up of these courts more a mechanism to manage and filter the disputes in villages and thereby reduce the institution of cases in the higher courts.
· How will ‘simplification of procedure’ be deployed in adjudications which draws litigants of unequal resources?
· Would the founding of such courts invalidate existing customary dispute resolution forums in villages?
Anveshi- Centre for Regional Studies, University of Hyderabad collaborative workshop on “Towards a Critique of Development Thinking”, 7th to 11th September, 2009.
This is a report about the workshop called “Towards a Critique of Development Thinking” that Anveshi did with Centre for Regional Studies at HCU from 7th to 11th September. It was organized around the readings from the Development Reader manuscript edited by R. Srivatsan, Senior Fellow of Anveshi. There were five sessions in all, with Srivats presenting five selected components from the Reader, followed by a detailed response by a discussant from HCU, and discussion with the research scholars. The faculty and the scholars were drawn from different departments of social sciences.
The first session was on Indian planning models (Lewis and Mahalanobis) and the discussant was Dr. Ramana Murthy, from Economics department. Second session was on the Mode of Production debates in the seventies, the discussant being Dr. Purendra Prasad from Sociology; third was on Dependency theories, the discussant being Dr. Vamsicharan from Economics dept; fourth was on Indian state, discussant being Dr. Janardhan from Sociology; fifth was on Boserup and Amartya Sen, response was from Prof. Omkar from Economics. Discussants in general agreed with the analytical commentary of Srivats' headnotes; drew attention to the broader context of analyses, models, histories in which these selected readings need to be placed; had a few questions why these, not others were selected. More substantially, the discussants were keen to know the standpoint from which Srivats was offering his critique; wanted him to elaborate his framework and objectives; wanted to know whether he is offering an alternative or rejecting development.
Scholars attended in large number, 40 to 45, drawn from economics, sociology, political science and a small portion from history. Anthropologists were not represented well. The inquiries of scholars (only a few of whom had read the readings that were circulated in soft copy form) was towards clarifications on issues raised in the course of lectures; selections of readings; opinions, agreements or disagreements about Srivats' analysis of debates or thinkers. Some, of course, were trying to test Srivats' knowledge.
At the end of the workshop, a feedback form was circulated in which most of the participants gave 7 out of 10 for the workshop. Most found the Mode of Production debate session difficult to follow. Others found the lack of debate on environment and development stark. But in general, they said that they found the workshop very useful. Sudha, an ex-Anveshi Short Term Fellow was there too, along with many of her colleagues in the department. She and her friends, she said, had difficulty following the first two sessions but by the fifth day began to follow where the discussion was going.
The faculty who were discussants also found the workshop to be useful, saying that they now have new insights into the old debates; that Srivats' analysis filled in some gaps in their own understanding of development debates. Also they found this idea of a workshop on development quite interesting,
Prof. Sheela Prasad anchored the entire programme, not only for the arrangements, but pulling in the faculty, persuading them to be discussants, encouraging students to register for the workshop; and being there all through - to see to it that the scholars participated in the discussions; giving feedback to Srivats about whether the scholars were able to follow what was happening in the session or to tune the lecture so that they could follow. While Srivats and the discussants focused on the actual readings, Sheela saw to it that the discussion was inclusive and useful, going beyond economics and Marxism!
Some Anveshi members attended a few sessions. It felt good to be going back to the University, doing the kind of workshop that I wish somebody had done for me when I was there! It is a useful experiment, which one can think of repeating with a different audience.
Book launch of Streevaada Rajakeeyalu: Vartamaana Charchalu
14th March 2009
Book launch programme of Streevaada Rajakeeyalu: Vartamaana Charchalu was held on 14th March 2009. Dr.Vinodini, well-known Dalit writer (Vemana University, Cuddpah), Dr.Katyayani Vidmahe (Kakatiya Univeristy, Warangal), Dr.K.Lakshmi (Osmania University) and Dr.K.Chenna Basavaiah (Osmania University) spoke at the meeting. Dr.Vinodini highlighted the importance of caste to discussions of dalit women’s issues in feminism. Dr.Katyayani Vidmahe said that the book will not only be useful for researchers working on women’s issues, but for political scientists, historians and other social scientists. She highlighted the problems of lack of resource material in Telugu for researchers from vernacular background. Dr.Chenna Basavaiah discussed how this book would be useful for those thinking about issues in political science and Indian politics. Dr.K.Lakshmi drew attention to the paucity of thinkable material on women’s issues in Telugu. The meeting was well attended.
Dr.Sanal Mohan spoke on
“Ethnography of a ‘Civilizing Mission’: Situating the Missionaries and Dalits in the twentieth century Kerala” on 10th March 2009.
This presentation addressed the interface of the missionaries and dalits in colonial Kerala. Stepping aside from the ‘modernization’ framework and reading the missionary archive against the grain, it tried to analyze the multiple ways in which dalits struggled to evolve new subjectivity and claim agency. By bringing together the archival and the ethnographic data, it attempted to open up dalit experience of modernity in Kerala, analyzing the multiple ways in which such experiences have been narrativised and discusses the dimensions of power involved in them.
Dr.Sanal Mohan is an ethnographer-historian whose path-breaking research has brought into focus Dalit history and identity formation in colonial and post colonial Kerala. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Department of History, Atlanta.
Dr.Ram Rawat spoke on
'Reclaiming a Past: The Formulation of a Dalit Agenda by Chamars in Early 20th Century Uttar Pradesh' on 10th January, 2009
Dr. Ram Rawat gave a brief talk on Chamars and the public sphere in the United Provinces in the early twentieth century. His talk uncovered an unexplored layer of political action among the Chamars in that region. Tracing the widespread network of political activism in the districts, in contestation of the claims of the nationalists over specific issues during the freedom movement, Rawat subtly explored the genealogy of the contemporary Dalit movement in the ‘anti-national’ struggles of the subaltern castes during the early Twentieth Century. In the process, he uncovered for the audience a surprising perspective on the way in which these castes fought their battles. The talk also made for a sobering understanding of the blind spots and suppressions of mainstream Indian history. The role of the subaltern castes is an interesting ‘new’ domain which is being explored by Dalit thinkers today.
Book Launch of Different Tales, 22nd December 2008
Book launch of Different Tales childrens’s stories was held on 22nd December 2008 at Room No.57, Arts College, Osmania University. At the launch, the Chief Guest was Prof. Shanta Sinha, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights drew attention to the use of regional dialects and marginal themes in the books saying that they boost the confidence of dialect speakers by lending authority to their speaking and reading practices. Mr.Vidyasagar, Commissioner for Social Welfare in the A.P. Government reflected on one of the stories and recollected his childhood spent freely amidst the nature in his village. Mr. Rafat, State Project Director, Rajiv Vidya Mission wished that the stories were available in Urdu, a language that he knows well. All the authors of the stories were felicitated. Subsequently, the storybooks were introduced to the Telugu public through a TV programme on Telugu Velugu in ETV.
Discussion on ‘Moulana Naseeruddin: a Political Prisoner?’, 21st November 2008.
In this discussion, Mr.Lateef Mohammad Khan, Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee, Prof.Rehana Sultana, Head, Dept. of Women's Studies, MANUU, Ms.Rafat Seema, Principal, Jamiatul Bannat and Mr. Rafiuddin, Brother of Moulana Naseeruddin, Secretary, Jamiatul Bannat spoke different aspects of Moulana’s personality. Mr.Rafeeuddin spoke about Naseeruddin’s charismatic speeches in the narrow lanes of old city in which he emphasized the moral values of Islam and exhorted the youth to discard laziness. Prof.Rehana Sultana spoke about the context in which Saidabad became a hub of activity for active Muslims who wanted to strengthen themselves against the Hindu rightwing forces. Mr.Lateef Mohammad Khan spoke about the case against Naseeruddin where charge sheet has not been filed till now and bail has been refused even after four years by the Supreme Court.
Media Workshop on Politics of Reporting Terrorism, 17th September, 2008.
Hyderabad Forum for Justice, of which Anveshi is a constituent part, conducted a media campaign in the month of September about the biases in local media reporting about arrests of Muslim boys in Hyderabad. Many editors of leading Telugu newspapers such as Andhra Jyothi, Eenadu, Surya, Saakshi suggested to the campaigning team that a workshop be conducted to discuss the nature of reporting in Telugu. They informed the team that it is the stringers who usually report such arrests and they operate under several constraints.
Following up the suggestion, the Forum organized this discussion on 'Media Reporting on Terrorism: Political Implications' on 19th October 2008 at Centre for Economic and Social Studies auditorium. The two main speakers were Mr.Ram Puniyani of Ekta and Mr.Ajit Sahi of Tehelka. Mr.Ram Puniyani spoke about the several instances of Hindu right wing organizations getting caught while making bombs and how the media did not pay attention to this issue. Mr.Ajit Sahi spoke about his investigations into the cases filed against SIMI all over India which revealed the lack of any credible evidence, presentable in the courts, whatsoever. He pointed to the post 1990s globalisation period where journalists have become non-accountable to the readership and more accountable to the compulsions of the market. Ms.Uma Sudhir of NDTV responded to the presentations, pointing out that while the structure of media ownership has changed in the post 1990s period, it does not rule out professionalism in reporting. Basic journalistic ethics such as impartiality, giving a hearing to both sides in an issue, accurately reporting what has been said can be pursued even here. Reporters from Eenadu, Munsif, and Siasat pointed to the possibilities such as panel discussions, special programmes that can be used to highlight these issues, even in these times of ascendance of the marketing departments in the media. Some reporters from the Urdu newspapers rued the lack of space for Muslim perspectives in the mainstream Telugu media, print and electronic. The meeting was attended well with nearly thirty reporters and journalists from Urdu, Telugu and English newspapers and electronic media. Academics, human rights activists and students also attended the meeting.
Discussion on Caste Panchaayats, 11th September, 2008.
A half-day discussion was held on experiences and memories of caste panchaayats with a group of Dalit activists and intellectuals in September 2009. Ms.Mary Maadiga, Mr.Vijay, Ms.Gogu Shyamala and Mr.Srinivas spoke about the caste panchaayats that they either witnessed in their childhood in the villages, that they participated as left or Dalit activists, or they conducted in the city. Majority recollected that it is the issues of adultery, sexuality, marriage that came to these forums. While they were not totally sympathetic to women, they were also not overtly patriarchal. For instance, in many cases of adultery, when the woman involved did not want to live with the husband, the Panchaayat endorsed such a decision. But most important outcome of the meeting was to note that major caste associations that emerged in the state were of professional castes such as padmasalis, goudas, yaadavas, during the early decades of 19th century. They were responding to the crisis in economy in this period and played a major role in reorienting the caste members to the new realities and to carve out space for their caste members in the same.
Discussion with B.Chandrasekhar on Chunduru, 15th August 2008.
The judgement on Chunduru atrocity came out last year, wherein 21 men belonging to the Reddy community (upper caste) were sentenced to life imprisonment and 35 to one year imprisonment. Members of Anveshi have been followed the developments of this event when the massacre took place. Again when the case came up for trial in the special court established in Chunduru, the follow up was done to the extent feasible. Three teams of members went from Anveshi who wrote their observations on the proceedings that later were published, including one in Chadrabhan Prasad’s Dalit Diary. B Chandrashekhar was appointed as the Special Public Prosecutor, to prosecute the cases of atrocity on behalf of the Dalits of Chunduru. Anveshi invited Chandrashekhar to give a talk on the various legal and other issues that were involved in defending a case of such mammoth proportions. It was a day long meeting, organised on 15th August, well attended by members of Dalit, civil liberties and other groups in the city.
Mr Gabor Gambos on 9th August 2008
Mr Gambos spoke about his experiences with modern psychiatric practices and his efforts in developing standards for alternative, non-coercive, community-based services for persons with psychosocial disabilities. Gábor Gombos, a former theoretical physicist and survivor of psychiatry, has advocated rights of persons with psycho-social disabilities. For over a decade, and until 2006, he chaired Hungary's only network of user organisations (Hungarian Mental Health Interest Forum). During this time he liaised with self-advocacy groups and local user NGOs with the relevant authorities, including local municipalities, members of the Parliament and the national government. Gábor focused his efforts to train self-advocates and local advocacy groups. He and the Forum have extensively contributed to recent legislative reforms in Hungary, including the legal ban on the cage beds that had been widely used in psychiatric facilities to restrain people.
Prof.T.M.Yesudasan, 8th March 2008
Professor TM Yesudasan spoke on “Poetics of Integration and Politics of Bad Faith : Experience of Dalits in Kerala Churches”. Prof. TM Yesudasan, a leading figure in the Dalit literary movement and a key mentor of the Dalit students' movement has been an important figure in Kerala public life. He has been at the forefront of the Dalit Christian struggles within the Church of South India in the 1970's and 80's, known as the Janakeeya Viswasa Vimochana Prasthanam, that drew its sustenance from Black Theology.
Speaking from the context of Malabar Kerala, he emphasised that there were very few records available for the reconstruction of Dalit histories. He said that there should be serious efforts to excavate and build archives to understand the particular history of Dalit communities. He also said that in the mainstream history textbook there was a deliberate attempt to invisiblise charismatic Dalit leaders such as Toikayil Appachan, Ayyankali who had contributed enormously to Dalit communities. They have never been seen as social reformers on par with the other conventional list of social reformer such as VT Bhatta Piripad and Srinarayanguru. To the audience he also appealed that Dalits should start formulating their agenda for politics beyond constitutional reservations.
Discussion on Ramabai Ambedkar’s Biography, 8th March 2008.
As part of the 8th March celebrations, J.Subhadra organized a discussion on Ramabai Ambedkar's biography written in Marathi by Shanti Swaroop Boudh and translated into Telugu by G.V.Ratnakar. Three eminent public intellectuals Dr.Vijayabharathi, Mallepalli Lakshmaiah and Jajula Gowri were invited to initiate the discussion. Vijayabharathi discussed the relevance of such biographies in the contemporary context wherein dalit women are raising issues of male dominance within the dalit families. She pointed out that such biographies opened out issues and demystified the personality of Ambedkar. Lakshmaiah pointed out that unlike other national leaders of his time, Ambedkar had either financial or other resources to lead his political life without setting aside the interests of his immediate family. Ambedkar’s family shared with other dalit families of his time, the poverty, caste discrimination and lack of access to health facilities etc. Lakshmaiah argued that to attribute the misery articulated by Ramabai to ‘neglect by Ambedkar’ would be totally misplaced. Jajula Gowri, a noted dalit short story writer discussed the politics of this publication in Telugu at this time. She questioned the rationale behind attempts to portray Ramabai as a devoted wife. Was it a way of quelling the activism of dalit women protesting against dalit men’s patriarchal attitudes? The discussion that ensued asked if it was valid to use this book to judge Ambedkar as a ‘patriarch’ in the conventional feminist sense? What was the politics of incorporating Ramabai into a feminist narrative, albeit a dalit feminist one? To what extent can we see map the conjugal relations of the past through the lens of the current ideologies?
Discussion with Chakkaliyar Intellectuals, 22nd February 2008.
Three important Chakkaliyar intellectuals from Tamilnadu, Sri Adhiyamaan, Founder, Aathi Thamilar Peravai; Madhavan, a well known poet, writer and activist, and Ramarajyam, research scholar from JNU visited Anveshi. They spoke about the political complexities involved in the demand for sub caste reservation for Chakkaliyars among SCs in Tamilnadu. There was engaged discussion between Maadiga Dandora activists and the Chakkaliyar intellectuals about the politics of sub caste reservation as well as the dynamics of caste and gender in the Dalit movement.
Sub theme on Feminism and Knowledges of Violence: Theories and Methods, Indian Association of Women’s Studies Conference, February 2008
In February 2008 Anveshi organized a sub theme titled Feminism and Knowledges of Violence: Theories and Methods at the conference organised by the Indian Association of Women’s Studies. It was coordinated by Dr.A.Suneetha, Vasudha Nagaraj and Dr. K.C.Bindu. This sub-theme is an invitation to contribute to and reflect on our current understanding on violence against women. What have been the ways in which we have demonstrated violations of women’s rights? What is involved in naming specific social practices and actions as violence against women, such as domestic violence, sexual harassment, caste atrocity, and so on? How has violence been linked to other agendas such as development? How have the women’s movement and feminism contributed to our understanding of the issues involved? Papers were invited to reflect on questions of violence on women: a) regarding the disciplines in which they appear such as medicine, social work and law; b) regarding methods that are used such as experiential narratives, case-studies, discourse analysis; and c) approaches and categories such as victim, agency/resistance; d) accounts of different institutional efforts to combat violence.
The sub theme was organized into five sessions and two panels. The sessions were on a) witnessing violence, b) gender and public spaces, c) citizenship and violence, d) women as subjects of healthcare and e) institutional responses to domestic violence. Each of the session had two papers while panels had two to three. The presenters included Dr. Pushpesh Kumar (SRTU, Nanded), Diia Rajan et.al (Yugantar), Nandita Dhawan (Jadhavapur University), Madhumeeta Sinha (EFLU), Lakshmi Kutty (JNU), Veena Gowda (Lawyer, Mumbai), Madhu and Sunita (Jagori, Delhi), Usha and Indhu (Hengsara Hakkina Sangha,Banglore), Namrata Mogaral (Kuvempu University) and Dr.Srila Roy (Nottingham University (Nottingham).
The main issues that were flagged in the discussions are as follows: The first set of issues that came up for discussion are around that of the issue of representation of violence - in varied domains such as ethnographic research, documentary film, UN report as well as Indian media. What kinds of problems arise when an ethnographer uses universal categories to analyze a tribal women’s experience located in specific community rationality, and names it as violence. Examining the documentary films, a popular medium for the women’s movement for building campaigns around violence against women, it was discussed how this realist medium produces it own set of mediations which frames the discussion of violence against women. UN reports such as the UNICEF on Status of Women produced in the context of international public health research, collate data of various local regions to create universal indicators to measure the status of women, erasing the effects of constitutive contexts such as culture, the specificities of the region and the local medical practices. In this kind of research, the responsibility of reducing inequality/discrimination/violence gets laid at the door of the family and the community, leaving the state and its policies.
The second set of issues was around the need to complicate the understanding of violence with the questions being asked by dalit and other minority politics. For instance, workplace, it was argued, should be not only seen as a sexed one but also as charged with questions of class, caste, community, region and their associations. The often decried difficulties in the working of sexual harassment committee should be understood in this context of tensions. For feminist politics another crucial issue in this context is: the sexualization of women’s bodies in the workplace often arising solely in the register of sexual harassment complaint.
The third set of issues raised the pertinent question of how we read Muslim women’s engagements with the law, administration, bureaucracy and the community in post-riots Gujarat? How do we see the effects produced by the legal actions initiated by Muslim women where the state was the main perpetrator of violence? What are the tropes of female subjectivity produced in the discourse of the judgments and proceedings of these severely contested trials? Is agency the most viable conceptual tool to analyze Muslim women’s everyday negotiations in this new set of circumstances? Should Muslim women’s actions be read as in modern secular frameworks, or should they be read in the context of debates in Islamic feminisms?
The last set of issues focused on the questions of female subjectivity and agency that arise in the context of women’s engagement with institutions. Feminist practitioners in counseling and law are confronted with recurrent scenario of women compromising and withdrawing complaints, returning to violent families/relationships, having unreasonable demands from the law. In making these institutions work for women, are we also reaffirming linear notions of victim hood? Considering the layered mediations required in appealing to the Law, how do we understand the legal decisions that provide copious amounts of data on violence against women?
Senthilkumar Solidarity Committee, February 2008.
The Senthilkumar Solidarity Committee was a group of university teachers, students and independent researchers based in Hyderabad that was formed following the suicide of Senthilkumar, a research scholar at the School of Physics, University of Hyderabad in February 2008. A few members of Anveshi participated in the activites organized by this Committee. They visited the University of Hyderabad and had discussions with the Dalit teachers and students in the university. In the meantime a Committee constituted by the University to enquire into the suicide released its report wherein it clearly stated that “There has been …inconsistency and subjectivity in the standards applied for course work and for allocation of Supervisors…' and that it has led to '…an understandable perception among SC/ST students … that they are being discriminated against on the basis of their caste”. Based on these findings the VC of University of Hyderabad hurriedly sanctioned a compensation of Rs 5 lakhs for Senthil Kumar’s parents. However, in a press statement the VC commented that the compensation was given on humanitarian grounds and that there was no caste discrimination in the university.
A Press Conference was organsied by the Senthil Solidarity Committee on 7th May to not only condemn the statement of the VC but also to foreground the modern forms of casteism that the Dalit student community faces in all universities. Several intellectuals of the city spoke sharply about the rampant casteism that was thriving in all university systems and condemned the practices that alienated Dalit students from higher education. The event was given wide coverage in the newspapers.
Prof. Carolyn Elliott, 17th November 2007.
Prof.Carolyn Elliott’s talk on “Markets, Communities and Empowerment” was based on her introduction to an edited volume entitled the Global Empowerment of Women: Responses to Globalization and Politicized Religions (forthcoming). She examined the contradictions between markets and communities, both theoretically and empirically, and the effects on women's empowerment, by considering case studies from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Middle East.
Prof. Elliott has specialized on India and women in developing countries in her long academic career spanning nearly 40 years, in the broad areas of comparative politics and women's studies. She has taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz and was the founding Director of the Center for Reaserch on Women at Wellesley College. She has also served as the Director of Indo-American Centre for International Studies, familiar to many here as ASRC.
Dr.Jayasree Kalathil, 14th September 2007.
Drawing on her work in the last four years, Jayasree spoke on “Race, Rights and Madness: Introducing the Context of Black Mental Health Work”. She spoke about her involvement in the Black mental health service user movement in the UK, placing it within the larger context of the UK survivor movement, mental health policies and recent campaigns. Much of the mental health work in the UK is within the frameworks of anti-discrimination and race equality, both conceptualised from a human rights perspective. Her talk will focused on the complexities of a rights-based framework in negotiating mental health services.
National Seminar on Histories, Cultures, Politics: Islam in South India,17th -18th August 2007.
The seminar was a two-day event, held on August 17 and 18th. There were two sessions on each day, with five papers being presented on the first day and six on the second. There was an additional presentation by the Telugu Muslim writer and poet Mr. S.K Yousuf Baba on the second day. The focus of the seminar was on various social, historical and theoretical concerns in the field of the study of Islam and Muslims in the main south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. We also wanted younger scholars, who have just begun their research, for example, along with more experienced and better-known names in the field to come together at the seminar, so that one may both get a sense of the fresh research being done, as well as benefit from the perspectives provided by the way the field has been thus far researched.
The preparation for the seminar began about 10 months in advance, when we began a reading group. A regular group of ten to twelve people, from Anveshi, CIEFL and Osmaia University met once a month to discuss readings drawn from different books and journals, dealing with contemporary Islam, Muslims, and secularism in India and the world. The invitees- discussants and those who presented papers- were based mainly in the academy, that is, in various universities and research institutions across India (Prof. M.A Kalam from Madras University, Dr. Neshat Quaiser from Jamia Milia Islamia, Prof. Janaki Nair from CSSS, Kolkata etc.) However, we also had some freelance researchers and other professionals, whose areas of interest and specialization coincided with the topic of the seminar- for instance, S. Anvar from Chennai, who made a presentation on the history of Tamil Muslims, and Dr. J. Raja Mohamad from Pudukottai (Tamil Nadu), who retired as the Curator of the Government Museum in Pudukottai, and is the author of several books related to the history of Islam in Tamil Nadu. Students and faculty of Osmania University, University of Hyderabad and The English and Foreign Languages University, representatives of organizations such as COVA and several researchers and activists from Hyderabad, Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi and Kerala made up the rest of the numbers. For this diverse audience, we had arranged for Urdu and Telugu translations of the abstracts of the papers.
The Discussions in the Seminar: a brief account
As can be seen from the schedule, a variety of topics of contemporary relevance were discussed. Conversion; the dominant discourses of secularism and modernity through which Islam and Muslim issues are discussed in India and the world over (Aisha Farooqi and Nigar Ataulla’s papers- and the very interesting responses to them); the way that archives of art (paintings, murals, sculpture), architecture (the planning of cities, eg. Mysore), monuments (cave-temples, mosques, viharas etc.) can be delved into to excavate various historical narratives about Muslim life in the South (S. Anvar’s presentation and Dr. Nair’s paper). However, by far the major topics of discussion over two days were 1) the question of history and memory- can one serve as a ‘corrective’ to the other, or are their operations and significance in completely different registers? And if this is so, then how do we take account of both in the contemporary forms of ethical and political subjectivity that become available to Muslims in the south- whether in Kerala, or Hyderabad, or Tamil Nadu? 2) The question of caste in relation to Muslim life and identity; how does one think in terms of political alliances, shared lifeworlds (or not), conflict, negotiation, or overlaps? Do we have the theoretical equipment to begin thinking about these questions?
M.A Moid’s paper on the ‘Muslim Situation in Hyderabad’ and Prof. Susie Tharu’s response to it aroused a great deal of interest and discussion, especially around the post- Accession history of Hyderabad. In an earlier session, Dr. Shamshad K.T had discussed the role of women’s memories of the Mapilla Rebellion of 1921, as an important archive to gain some understanding of an event that has been much written about. Both papers, though coming from completely different disciplines, with a different set of concerns and arguments, raised discussion about memory and memorializing events- how is an ‘event’ remembered by the group of people affected by it, and what can be the various consequences/ implications of this memory?
The discussion that followed Prof. M.A Kalam’s paper, as well as B. Venkat Rao and Shefali Jha’s papers, centered on the question of caste and Muslims in India. The poet S.K Yousuf Baba’a presentation, on the political stance of a group of vocal Telugu Muslim writers and poets, expressing solidarity and shared social spaces and lives with Dalits in AP, was also an important intervention in this regard. There was some discussion about whether various ‘occupation groups’ within Muslims could actually be equated with castes, and what was the relationship between these groups, and whether we had enough research and theoretical thinking in this area to engage with this question and its implications; the more interesting discussion was about how one could begin thinking in terms of alliances and politically shared agendas.
Workshop on ‘Dalit Women and Governance: Discourse of Empowerment’,1st August, 2007 (The detailed report of the workshop is available)
A day long workshop was organized on the theme Dalit Women and Governance: Discourse of Empowerment. This workshop was organized to enable a discussion with activists, NGOs and scholars working on the issues of Dalit women and empowerment. The discussions in the workshop focused on the questions: how do we understand the lived realities of a Dalit woman Sarpanch and the local resources that she mobilizes in order to stay in power? In what ways do we understand the support that Dalit women require from the families and communities to enable their political participation? Drawing on wide ranging experiences of working in rural areas, all the presenters drew attention to issues of caste relations that shaped the working of the dalit women as sarpanches. A.Suneetha welcomed the participants, giving a brief overview of the debates on women and empowerment and the context in which the discussion is being organized. Subhadra drawing on her interviews with nearly 35 dalit women in Telangana districts pointed out that all the dalit sarpanches had to learn, struggle to exercise power in the face of opposition of the landlords in the village’. Quite a few women wanted to continue in politics, despite the resultant troubles and subservient or reluctant entry. Sujatha’s presentation on East Godavari district where she found the dalit women not interested in challenging either caste relations or male dominance in the family evoked a heated discussion. Jhansi’s (Dalita Stree Shakti) presentation on cases of atrocities on dalit women sarpanches drew contrast with the picture that Sujatha’s study showed, where dalit women are being prevented from entering the office, beaten and sometimes killed. Veera Swamy’s (Sphoorti, Suryapet) presentation on efforts to mobilize electoral support for dalit contestants drew attention to the difficulties of mobilizing from outside the specific context of the village.
The discussions at the workshop, Shyamala concluded, threw up two perspectives on empowerment – one, that looks at dalit women’s entry into local politics from below; the other, from the structural power angle. There are signs of hope as well as despair on empowerment.
The other participants at the workshop were Dr.Samata (OGH); Satyavathi (Editor, Bhumika); K.Sajaya (independent film-maker), Jajula Gowri (dalit writer); and those working in various initiatives of Anveshi, including K.Sudha, A.Suneetha, Vasudha Nagaraj, Praveen Kumar, K.C.Bindu, S.Jaya, Shefali Jha and R.Srivatsan. This workshop was organized on 1st August, 2007.
Flavia Agnes, 2nd November 2007.
Flavia Agnes, the noted feminist and senior matrimonial lawyer in the country who has been consistently writing on aspects of women's engagements with the law, the politics of gender justice and the Uniform Civil Code, the possibilities of law reform from within the communities and many other issues relating to the structure and implementation of law. She was also one of the key persons who coordinated the efforts between the Christian communities and the State in enabling amendments to the Divorce Act, 1869. In this talk she spoke about the study that she had done in the last five years about the functioning of family courts in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, West Bengal and lately Andhra Pradesh. The study is both a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of issues related to functioning of a court: budgets allocated; staff and infrastructure, the number of people (men/women, Hindu/Muslim/ Christian) who use the courts, the reliefs sought and granted, and the time period in which they are granted. Family court Judges were interviewed as part of this study to understand their responses to the functioning of the family courts. In Andhra Pradesh the study was conducted in 2003-2004. The report is now due for release. Flavia presented the findings of this study and discussed the efforts that can be made to strengthen this institution.
Rekha Raj, July 2007.
Dalit writer and activist from Kerala, Rekha Raj, who has published several articles on gender and caste in Malayalam spoke at Anveshi on July, 2007 on the theme Gender and Caste: Dalit Feminist Experience in Kerala drawing on various aspects of Dalit status in Kerala and the mainstream partys’ response to such activism.
Dr. Vithal Rajan ,24th March 2007.
Dr. Vithal Rajan, in commemoration of the International Women’s Day, organized a show "Male Lens, Female Lens" in Anveshi where he compared the photographs taken by pioneering women photographers with that of famous male contemporaries. Featured on the show were many artists such as Cameron Talbot, Abbot Atget, Model Weegee, Levit Evans, Lange Salgado, Monotti Weston, Bourke White-Smith, Arbus Winogrand, Cunnigham-Bellocq, Sherman Friedlander and Homai Vyavarawalla.
National Seminar on Exploring Masculinities,30th -31st March 2007.
Exploring Masculinities, A South Asian Traveling Seminar was hosted by Anveshi and CIEFL. The Traveling Seminar on Exploring Masculinities was a unique concept designed to introduce diverse questions of masculinities and gender relations within the university system. The seminar was designed as a platform to introduce current theories and practices on the theme of masculinities and its relationship with gender based violence, reproductive health and gender equality/justice to the university community and hoped to generate interest for further work in the area. This seminar intended will travel to ten universities in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Anveshi collaborated with this group, Aakar, along with Centre for Cultural Studies, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages to host this seminar. The speakers and discussants included, Prof.Shohini Ghosh, Prof.Susie Thrau, Dr.Muralidharan Tharayil, Dr.Radhika Chopra, Prof.Shasheej Hegde, Prof.Deepak Mehta, Dr.Aparna Rayaprolu, R.Srivatsan, Rahul Roy, Dr. Pushpesh Kumar and Prof.Madhava Prasad among others. The seminar brought together a range of speakers interrogating the concept of masculinity from different locations.
Dr. Katti Padma Rao,19th March 2007.
An important programme in the Dalits and Minorities initiative is the Dalit lecture series. To introduce Telugu readers to the debates in Dalit Studies, Anveshi has initiated a Dalit Lecture Series, which include interactive sessions and public lectures with leading Dalit scholars and activists. In March we invited Dr. Katti Padma Rao, a leading Dalit intellectual in Andhra Pradesh and the founder of the Dalit Mahasabha, to deliver a talk. The talk was organized in a central and accessible location, Press Club. The meeting could be counted as an extremely successful one as more than 200 people participated. What was significant about the gathering was that most of them were Dalit students and activists. Mr. Katti Padma Rao spoke on the subject The Historical Necessity of the Dalit Socio-Cultural Revolution. Padma Rao spoke for about three hours reflecting on the politics of untouchability and its linkages to language, the philosophy of Ambedkar and the project of Dalit empowerment. An important message of his talk was that the Dalit youth should begin to write their particular social histories. Wide publicity was given for this talk so that many could attend.
Visit of Florence Howe & Shirley Mow, Feminist Press, 29th to 31st January, 2007.
Florence Howe, who heads the Feminist Press, New York, accompanied by Shirley Mow, another member of the Press, visited Anveshi to celebrate the release of four volumes of Women Writing Africa. They acknowledged that the inspiration for these four volumes came from Women Writing India, which was first published by the Feminist Press. In the meeting organized by Anveshi, the publishers spoke about Women Writing Africa and interacted with women writers in Hyderabad. Anveshi also organized meetings in EFL University with Florence Howe to enable students to interact with her and also learn about feminist publishing. Anveshi also arranged for Shirley Mow to speak on their project on Women and Science in US at the University of Hyderabad and this was attended by a large number of women Science faculty.
Professor Stacey Blakebeard , 19th January 2007.
Stacey Blakebeard, a Professor from the Simmons College of Management, Boston, USA spent time at Anveshi interacting with the Fellows, exchanging notes on the possibilities and problems of mentoring on January 19th 2007.
Dr Ann Rossiter, January 4th 2007.
Dr.Ann Rossiter, a leading socialist feminist from Ireland visited and spoke at the public lecture that Anveshi organized on Political Islam in Britain: State Policy, Cultural Representation and Feminist Responses. She focused on the persecution of the Muslim community in England in the register of terrorism on January 4th, 2007.
Dr. R. Srivatsan
Dr.R.Srivatsan, a senior research Fellow at Anveshi presented on the topic Art, Autobiography and Authenticity in the Digital Age at a public meeting organized by Anveshi. He raised the question: What constitutes an autobiography in art? How is it different from the self-portrait? How does the question of authenticity- of the self, but also of the 'nation'- play itself out in this terrain? And how does the medium of digital art inflect these questions about the self and authenticity, and 'art' itself? The presentation discussed these questions through the work of artists like Raja Ravi Varma and Amrita Sher Gil, and contemporary artists such as Vivan Sundaram, Pushpamala and Priyaranjan Lall.
Talk by Professor Salim Tamari, December 2006
Professor Salim Tamari, the Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies spent three days interacting with our Fellows in Anveshi in December, 2006. A public meeting was organized wherein Professor Tamari spoke on the subject The Arab Israeli Conflict and the Demise of the Two State Solution. He spoke extensively about the conflict between Palestine and Israel against the background of overpowering American presence and the complex internecine politics of various Arab countries.
The Pro Reservation Campaign, April – May 2006
The opposition to reservations resurfaced in May 2006 when the Human Resource Development Ministry announced its directive about implementation of OBC reservations in IITs, IIMs and Central Universities. The opposition was largely fuelled by the English language media, and reminded us that nothing had changed in the self-righteous mindset of the upper castes. This time round much of the hate campaign against the Dalits and OBCs was being carried out in the Internet.
Shocked by the intensity of the anti-reservation campaign Anveshi immediately collaborated with activists, students of Osmania University, Central Institute of English and foreign Languages and the Hyderabad Central University. A common platform called Forum for Reservations for a Better India was formed. Under the auspices of this forum a mass protest was organized in Indira Park on 21st may, 2006 at Indira Park in Hyderabad. A number of local activist groups, students and concerned individuals attended this protest despite the searing heat of summer. The protest was widely reported in the local and national print and visual media.
This was followed by a well-attended public meeting at Press Club on 26th May, 2006. As part of the public meeting we organized Dalit and OBC intellectuals in the city to express our protest against the campaigns carried out by the upper caste groups and also foregrounded the invisible reservations that they have enjoyed in accessing opportunities in both education and employment. Justice BSA Swamy ( Retired Judge of the AP High Court), Dr K.Nagaiah (Former Member, AP SC/ST Commission), Dr.V.G.R. Naragoni (BC Samakhya, Andhra Pradesh), Professor Kancha Ilaiah (Department of Political Science, Osmania University), Dr,. Krishna (Reader, Department of Hindi, University of Hyderabad) and Professor Susie Tharu (Secretary, Anveshi) spoke at the meeting. Anveshi brought out a booklet on the politics of reservations as part of this campaign called Reservations Now. This booklet was widely disseminated among student and activist groups. There was a symbolic walk of all the participants from Nizam College to Press Club with slogans and posters.
In a novel protest many of Anveshi members responded in the chat forums in the Internet. Sadly we do not have a document of all these writings, which ran into dozens of pages dialoging with ordinary students and lay people about the importance of reservations in a country like India where casteism and contemporary practices of untouchability continues to enjoy a significant currency.
Talk by Mr.Sitarama Rao, 29th April 2006
Mr. Sitaram Rao spoke on the issue of Micro Finance institutions (MFI) and their role in the economy. A guiding objective with which MFIs were set up was to provide access to basic financial services which can significantly increase economic opportunities for poor families and in turn help improve their lives. Sitaram will speak of the context in which Micro Finance Institutions have developed in India and the connections between commercial banking, MFIs and self help groups. The talk will also focus on the current controversy around the spate of suicides unearthed in Krishna district, committed by members who were unable to cope with the high interest rates on the loans taken by them.
Sitaram Rao, a Chartered Accountant by training, has held Chief Executive and senior advisory positions with several finance and international marketing companies including the DCL Group (India), Muscat Finance Company (Sultanate of Oman), Laila Group (India), and Paradigm Infotech (USA). He has also served as a visiting faculty member at Management Development Institute (Delhi), Industrial Finance Corporation of India, Computer Maintenance Corporation, and the State Bank of India.
Mr. Anant Mariganti, 9th December 2005
Mr.Anant Mariganti spoke on “The Place of the Poor in the Urban Imaginary of Hyderabad”. Anant Maringanti, PhD candidate in the Geography department of University of Minensota will be sharing the preliminary findings of his dissertation research. This research is part of a larger theme titled 'contested urban futures' in which a small number of critical social scientists across the world are engaged. The main premise of the research is that neoliberal globalization, the 'city' is the locus of an aggressive regime of transformations in the current phase of capitalist restructuring of time and space. Sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists, economists and cultural studies schoalrs of a critical bent, have analysed these reforms and the new configurations of resistance from a variety of vantage points, geographers have been attempting to unravel the ways in which new spatiotemporal imaginations are being unleashed across the world trying to pinpoint possibilities for resistance and opposition. Anant's research examines the place of the poor and their homes within the urban imaginary of Hyderabad.
Dr.Vibhuti Patel, 8th November 2005
Dr.Vibhuti Patel a well-known feminist economist and activist of the women's movement spoke on Gender Auditing of Budgets. In 2003, she conducted a gender analysis of the Union Budget for the Centre for Women's Studies at Mumbai University. In the course of the study she examined three successive Union budgets, the declared policies of the Central Government during the Women's Empowerment Year 2001 and the Human Development Reports released by the Planning Commission. Dr.Vibhuti Patel is currently a Reader in Economics, and is associated with the Centre for Women's Studies, University of Mumbai. She is also Member-Secretary of the Women Development Cell, Universtiy of Mumbai.
2005: Workshop on 'Remembering Sadalakshmi'
T. N. Sadalakshmi was an important Dalit woman leader, active in many political movements in Andhra Pradesh, and also a minister in many governments. The workshop was conducted as part of G Shyamala's current work on writing a biography of Sadalakshmi. It brought together several members of her family, friends and colleagues, who spoke in some detail of their associations with her. The discussions were not limited to her personality alone, but offered insights into other political issues, thus providing important inputs to the biography project.
2003: National Conference. The Public and Private of Domestic Violence
This conference discussed the findings of the project 'Institutional Responses to Domestic Violence.' Presentations were made on the history of the concept of 'domestic violence' in India, the category of conjugality and its usefulness in understanding the dynamics of the family, and the many difficult questions relating to the law -- rights, legal frameworks, and apparatuses designed to 'respond' or 'intervene' in domestic violence cases. The conference also discussed the feminist understanding of domestic violence, and the possible new directions of thinking and strategising. Several publications have ensued from this study, both in the regional and English media. A report of this study, 'A Difficult Match: Women's Actions and Legal Institutions in the Face of Domestic Violence,' was published in the Ecomonic and Political Weekly, October, 2006.
2003: Workshop on 'Family and Mental Health'
This workshop was the result of the year-long discussions within the Study Group on Mental Health in Anveshi, where 'the family' emerged as a significant location for understanding mental distress in the Indian context. The workshop sought to look closely at the articulations of and negotiations with mental distress in the context of family and addressed concerns in understanding distress, the question of care, issues in working with families and the legal implication for the family as caregiver. Read a report of the workshop, published in aaina: a mental health advocacy newsletter.
2003: Workshop on 'Sexuality: Issues and Concerns'
The culmination of a long and scattered series of discussions at Anveshi and the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages (CIEFL), this three-day workshop was organised jointly by the CIEFL Film Club and Anveshi. It brought together work on sexuality with a focus on gay/lesbian issues in both academic and non-academic debates. Structured around panels interspersed by film-screenings, the workshop incorporated a diverse set of views on questions of desire, representational practices, law and political movements in relation to sexuality, particularly those sexual practices and politics that challenge the heterosexual norm.
2003: Symposium on 'Inter-Community Violence'
Held in the aftermath of the violence against the Muslim community in Gujarat, this symposium aimed to take a holistic look at communal and mob violence, and initiate action-research for understanding and preventing inter-community violence in India. It served as a platform for activists, administrators, trauma counselors, media representatives, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and others interested in working against inter-community violence. The symposium was organised in collaboration with ThinkSoft, Hyderabad, Henry Martin Institute, Hyderabad, and the Confederation of Voluntary Organisations, Hyderabad.
2002: Workshop on the 'New Government Bill on Domestic Violence: Issues at Stake.'
This day-long workshop was organised to discuss the implications of the new Bill on Domestic Violence introduced by the then BJP government. Prior to the workshop, there was a series of meetings with women's organisations and human rights groups, where it was felt that the Bill had to be opposed in its proposed form. The workshop was attended by over fifty women. The well-known feminist lawyer Flavia Agnes and Veena Gowda, both from Majlis (Mumbai) were resource persons for this workshop.
2002: Workshops on 'Teachers' Perspectives on School Education'
Two workshops were held as part of the project 'Curricular Transactions in Selected Government Primary Schools.' The first workshop was held in February and discussed the problem of high drop-out rates in the schools. It yielded significant insights into the contexts in which children drop out of schools and the efforts schools make to bring them back into the education system. The second workshop was organised in April with teachers from the schools that were chosen for the project. Their opinions on a range of subjects such as the curriculum, examinations and evaluation, government policies etc were sought. More details about the workshops are available in the final report of the project, available at Anveshi.
2001: 'Listening Together, Talking Differences: A South Indian Young Feminists Conference'
Organised in collaboration with the Hyderabad Women's Collective, this three-day conference brought together about 200 participants who had been aligned with feminism for over a decade. Participants from various parts of South India attended in their individual capacities and as representatives of activist groups, and discussed issues ranging from engagements with and critiques of the women's movement, to personal spaces, questions of sexuality and singlehood, and women's struggles for control over economic resources.
2001: Workshop on 'Economic Reforms in Andhra Pradesh: A People's Review'
The main aim of this two-day workshop was to discuss the World Bank aided economic reforms in Andhra Pradesh and examine their impact on the people. The discussions contributed to understanding and building a shared perspective on issues such as governance, privatization, agriculture, public welfare, health and nutrition, poverty and livelihoods.
2000: Workshop on 'Information Dimensions for Women's Studies'
This workshop was organised in collaboration with CWDS and IAWS.
2000: Plenary session on 'Public Policy, Tribal Issues and the Women's Movement'
Anveshi organised this plenary session for the 9th annual conference of the Indian Association of Women's Studies held in Hyderabad. Various issues relating to lives, experiences, and political movements/rebellions of tribes in the North Eastern region, Bihar and other parts of the country were presented by the speakers on the panel (Jarjum Ete, Vasavi, Shyamala Rathore, Susie Tharu). The presentations and the discussions that followed undelined the importance of understanding women in their different locations, and raised larger questions of citizenship, justice and politics from a perspective that would engage with the margins.
1999: Workshop on 'the Status of Women's Health in the Population Policies of Andhra Pradesh'
1999: Symposium on 'Gender, Law and Citizenship in India and the US'
1999: Workshop on 'Telugu Cinema: History, Culture, Theory'
1998: Panel discussion on 'Rethinking Secularism'
1998: Workshop on 'Telugu Short Story: Structure, Scope and Extent'
1998: Workshop on 'Cultural Politics of Translation'
1997: National workshop on 'Rethinking Media: Gender, Globalisation and Social Change'
1996-97: Workshops on 'Visual Images'
1996: Conference on 'Women and Mental Health'
1995: Plenary on 'New Issues in the Women's Movement: Anti-Arrack, Dalit Women, Women Students'
1995: Workshop on 'Contemporary Feminism: Questions, Predicaments and Strategies'
1994: Workshop on 'Cultural Studies'
1993: Conference on 'Subalternity and Culture'
1992: Workshop on 'Caste and Gender'
1990: Workshop on 'Photography and Society'
This timeline presents for overview a select listing of Anveshi’s work, which includes lectures, film screenings and workshops/conferences. Many of these activities are undertaken in collaboration with academic institutions and interest groups. Such events have often served as an interactive space for scholars, activists, and the general public.
Announcements for all public events are circulated a week in advance. Members can join the mailing list of Anveshi and be updated regarding current events.
1. Workshop on Remembering Sadalakshmi, December, 2005.
2. National Conference on The Public and Private of Domestic Violence, August, 2003.
3. Workshop on Family and Mental Health, April, 2003.
4. Workshop on Sexuality: Issues and Concerns in collaboration with CIEFL Film Club, April, 2003
5. Symposium on Inter-Community Violence in collaboration with ThinkSoft, HenryMartin Institute and COVA, January, 2003
6. Workshop on the New Government Bill on Domestic Violence: Issues at stake, 2002
7. Workshops on Teacher’s Perspectives on School Education, 2002
8. Listening Together, Talking Differences: A South Indian Young Feminists Conference, in collaboration with Hyderabad Women’s Collective, October, 2001.
9. Workshop on Economic Reforms in Andhra Pradesh: A People’s Review, March, 2001.
10. Workshop on Information Dimensions for Women’s Studies, in collaboration with CWDS and IAWS, January, 2000
11. Plenary Session on Public Policy, Tribal Issues and the Women’s Movement at the IX National Conference of the Indian Association of Women Studies, Hyderabad, January, 2000
12. Workshop on the Status of Women’s Health in the Population Policies of Andhra Pradesh, June, 1999.
13. Symposium on Gender, Law and Citizenship in India and U.S in collaboration with the American Studies Research Centre, Hyderabad, January, 1999.
14. Workshop on Telugu Cinema: History, Culture, Theory, August, 1999.
15. Panel discussion on Rethinking Secularism, August, 1998
16. Workshop on Telugu Short Story: Structure, Scope and Extent in collaboration with Bhumika women’s magazine, February, 1998
17. Workshop on Cultural Politics of Translation, in collaboration with Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, and CIEFL Hyderabad, January, 1998
18. Workshop on Visual Images, 1996-97
19. National Workshop on Rethinking Media: Gender, Globalisation and Social Change, in collaboration with University of Hyderabad, February, 1997
20. Conference on Women and Mental Health, February, 1996
21. Anveshi organized the inaugural plenary at the VII National Women’s Studies Conference, Jaipur on New Issues in the Women’s Movement: Anti-arrack, Dalit women, Women Students, December, 1995
22. Workshop on Contemporary Feminism: Questions, Predicaments and Strategies, August, 1995
23. Workshop on Cultural Studies in collaboration with University of Hyderabad, July, 1994
24. Conference on Subalternity and Culture in collaboration with Subaltern Studies Editorial Collective, January, 1993
25. Workshop on Caste and Gender in collaboration with Samata Sanghatana February, 1992
26. Workshop on Photography and Society, in collaboration with CIEFL and University of Hyderabad, August, 1990
27. Women’s Film Festival in collaboration with National Film Archives, August, 1989