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August 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.  Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       August 2017 Edition of Power Politics is updated.   Happy Diwali to all our subscribers and Distributors       
Issue:August' 2017


What 's wrongin jails !

Humra Quraishi

It seems unbelievable that in this day and age we seem to be bypassing the jailed. Tell me, what's been happening inside those caged interiors? Why don't we talk in terms of the living conditions of the prisoned lot? Where can the prisoners go to lodge complaints? What is the aftermath,that is, if they pick up adequate guts to raise their voice? What are the nexus at work in those interiors? What good are jails when they are ruin the very mental and physical health of the prisoners? Why are jails associated with inhuman treatment meted out to the jailed out? Where are the supposed reforms? Where is the concept of 'open jails' where the inmates can at least survive like human beings? I'm throwing these queries in the backdrop of several news reports that all's not well inside our prisons and jails. Last month a convict died in Mumbai's Byculla jail after prison staff assaulted her in the most horrifying way by pushing rods into her private parts. Mind you, the prime four assaulters were women cops , so lets not come up with those hackneyed theories that lets increase the number of women cops and then all's going to be okay! Nothing is going to be okay until there comes about some level of transparency in the very functioning of jails. Right now the flow of information is via the released prisoners – who have been fortunate enough to have survived the jailed ordeal. Or through prisoners whohave written volumes on their prison terms.I have read at least ten such volumes and each one of them is laced with details of torture and inhuman treatment meted out to the prisoned lot. In fact, so horrifying are those details that the read gets difficult. Why don't we talk of the concept of open jails! For God's sake don't cage these men and women as though they are wild animals, good enough to be caged!They need to live and live with dignity!

Speak out !

Campaign against mobocracy will go on: Prem Singh Lets not commit the folly of calling ourselves a developed lot! Far from it! We are lynching fellowhuman beings, out there in the open, on roads and along highways! Something or everything seems to be going wrong …disasters are spreading out as never before.
The only cushioning in these dark times many are speaking out and taking on the political mafia. In fact, last month several well- known academics joined Dr Prem Singh at New Delhi's Jantar Mantar as he sat on a week long fast to relay his disgust at the way innocents are lynched in the various corners of this country. Also, in Pune more than twenty activists went on a day long fast in solidarity - Sheetal Kotmade, Snehal Giri, Shubham Halle, Jitendra Phaphale, Sudarshan Chorage, Kalyani D.R, Monali Aparna, Neelima Tara Suresh, Siddhant Seema Suresh, Aakash Giri, Shrikant Lalita, Geetanjali P.A, Kapil, Yogesh Manjula, Vishal Bansode, Uzma Khan, Shrikrishna Kulkarni, Shakuntala Bhalerao, Sayali Savita Pradeep, Ravi Prakash Kurandale, Amit, Tushar Bhotmange, Dayanand C. B.
Also, thousands of artists and actors and activists had gathered in the different cities of this country to voice their protest at the ongoing lynching or blatant murders by political goon brigades … Wake up my countrymen before the political mafia makes us kill each other. There would be nobody left to mourn our deaths.

Reaching out …

As freshly launched books are hitting the stands, I keep marvelling at our writers' sheer output. Correct me if I'm wrong but the one and only sphere where we seem to be going ahead is on the book front! Books as never before!
In fact, it wouldn't be amiss to say that efforts should be in that set-set -going pace to try and reach some of these books to all those who are going through turbulent times. I'm reminded of what academic writer, Sudhamahi Regunathan, had told me during the course of an interview – "Stories reach where nothing else can.

Mridula Koshy A story is told that a businessman wanted his son to learn and he sent him to several acharyas. The boy did not learn, in fact, he ran away from them. Finally, one teacher managed to teach him and that he did so by telling him stories. Soon, through a path that looked exciting, the teacher led him to the underlying lesson in each story…We should have story-telling sessions and that there is nothing wrong in highlighting the morals.
For, when you live in a society, there has to be some lessons on basic etiquettes, concern for others and the ways of the world. That is called culture."
And though there are several activists working with the disadvantaged children, I know of only one writer who is doing so, by reaching out through books.
Yes, it's the well-known New Delhi based novelist –writer, Mridula Koshy, who runs a library cum a reading room for the slum children of a South Delhi colony.
To the 'why' she tells me, "I founded the community library along with my partner, Michael Creighton. It is one of the many projects within the NGO, Deepalaya. Although, I was a volunteer when I started working in the organisation, today I work as a staff member. The bulk of work in the library is accomplished by dozens of volunteers and library members, and majority of them are children…I am a mother of three and I got involved in Deepalaya, because I wanted the right environment for my children to grow up in.
So, my involvement is a 'selfish act'. Martin Luther King Jr very rightly said, 'An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.' I realised that while my children enjoyed all the benefits of growing up with books and quality education, children elsewhere were deprived of the same privileges…. Poor readership for books in India disturbed me as a writer.
Again, my self-interest was at play when I started hauling a bag of books across the nallah that separates my upper-middle class home from the shanties of the children who are now members of the library. It wasn't long before the children's hunger for books increased to a cupboard from a bag. Thirty books were replaced by a few hundred, and eventually Deepalaya gave an entire room to the project. It enabled us to stock a few thousand books for 700 children and adults, who come to the library today."

Crucial connectors !

Yes, books build bridges, helps one to connect. This summer I read three 'impactful' books - Sanchit Gupta's – The Tree With a Thousand Apples ( Niyogi Books), Manju Kapur's - Brothers ( Penguin) and Marion Molteno's - If you can walk , you can dance ( Niyogi Books ).
They are different in terms of the storyline, settings, characters, plots , yet there is a connect. These works focus on the human being and with that those struggles and pains, turmoil and tragedies each one of the characters goes through, rather is destined to go through.
Whilst Sanchit Gupta's book focuses on the Kashmir Valley and how the havoc is affecting lives, Manju Kapur's novel dwells on human relationships in the backdrop of feuds within a Rajasthan-based business family , Marion Molteno's novel is about a young woman's life on the run across frontiers and cultures, 'from southern Africa to the 1970's London, it weaves the music of Africa and Europe through the patterns of work ,love and politics in which she tries to find meaning in her everyday life.' Days after I finished reading these three books, I kept introspecting on the very fragility of human relationships and forms. Not to overlook the psyches!