The Media Foundation invites nominations for
The Chameli Devi Jain Award 2015-16

The Media Foundation is pleased to invite nominations for its annual Chameli Devi Jain Award for an Outstanding Woman Mediaperson for 2015-16.

The annual Chameli Devi Award is the premier award for women mediapersons in India. It was first awarded in 1982 to an outstanding woman mediaperson, who has made a difference through writing with depth, dedication, courage and compassion. Chameli Devi awardees include some of the best known and respected names in Indian journalism. They have pioneered and popularised a new journalism in terms of themes and values - such as social development, politics, equity, gender justice, health, war and conflict, and consumer values.

The success of the annual award was largely due to the dedication and commitment of the late Mr BG Verghese. A standard bearer of the profession, a person of unwavering principle and a hub of intellectual curiosity, Mr Verghese personally ensured that the awardees met the objective of the award.

The criteria for selection are excellence, analytical skill, social concern, insights, style, innovation, courage and compassion. Other things being equal, preference will be given to small town/rural and Indian language journalists. The entries will be evaluated by an independent panel of jurists whose verdict shall be final.

Journalists in the print, broadcast and current affairs documentary film media are eligible, including photographers, cartoonists and newspaper designers. Names and addresses of sponsors or references should be clearly mentioned with email and phone numbers.

Nominations should include a bio-data (with complete postal address, telephone, fax numbers and email address, for facility of communication), together with samples of work done during the period January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 in the form of clippings/tapes/CDs or links to articles and TV programmes. These should be accompanied by a brief appreciation of why the candidate is especially deserving of recognition.

Nominations can be sent to The Media Foundation, Flat no 2B, 1/23 Shanti Niketan, New Delhi -110021 or emailed to themediafoundationindia@gmail.com

Nominations should reach the Media Foundation not later than February 15, 2016.

The Award will be announced a few days before it is presented at the India International Centre Auditorium in Delhi on March 17, 2016.

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Collective action will bring together students of Delhi colleges.

This year, Women Development Cell Miranda House, OBR, Action Aid and many other civil society partners and colleges want to expand the canvas and bring in issues of gender, social justice and masculinities to the fore.

When: 11 February at 10:00 to 13 February at 18:00
Where : Miranda House University of Delhi, Delhi-110007, New Delhi, India 110007

More info : https://www.facebook.com/events/1658208744429983/

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NEWS FROM CANADA (04 February, 2016 / No. 201602-01)

Canadian province of Prince Edward Island signs MoUs in Chandigarh

The Premier of the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island (PEI), Wade MacLauchlan, and the Premier of the Canadian province of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, met yesterday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a week-long trade mission to India. The mission is focused on building economic and education relationships with the country.

"I shared with Prime Minister Modi that there are rich opportunities for partnership between India and Prince Edward Island, including a strong fit for many of our high quality Island products and services," Premier MacLauchlan said. "The Prime Minister spoke of his commitments to skills, clean energy, and sustainable food and agriculture."

The PEI delegation met with government and business leaders in New Delhi and visited Chandigarh, which is one of 100 Indian cities being made more sustainable under Prime Minister Modi's Smart Cities Mission. Premier MacLauchlan met with senior Ministers and officials as well as leaders in business and education from Punjab and Haryana. ?

"We have taken important strides with these face-to-face meetings and look forward to pursuing these opportunities and relationships," added the Premier.

Among other successes so far:

  • the Premier and Economic Development and Tourism Minister, Heath MacDonald, met with leaders from software company Aark Infosoft - based in Ahmedebad - who announced they intend to open their first North American office in Prince Edward Island beginning this spring, and creating new skilled jobs;
  • the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) signed MOUs with Chitkara University and the Punjab Agricultural University, to facilitate exchanges of faculty and students and collaboration on research and programming.
  • the Province has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Canadian Nectar Products that will send apples grown in eastern Prince Edward Island to markets in India and Asia; and

Representatives from Aspin Kemp and Associates, Coles Associates, Portsmouth Atlantic, and the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) accompanied the Premier and Minister MacDonald to India. They are participating in meetings focused on cultivating relationships with India in renewable energy, sustainable development, food products, and post-secondary education.

This joint mission between the province of PEI and the province of Ontario is intended to confirm recent Indian business investments in PEI and generate new investment - as well as encouraging new applications to the Start-Up Visa program through LaunchPad PEI. It is part of ongoing efforts to promote PEI goods, services, and expertise in India and other emerging markets.

"I have no doubt that teaming up with Premier Wynne and her Ontario delegation will open doors for PEI products and companies," the Premier said. "With Canada's smallest and largest provinces working together, it shows once again that small can be big."

Meetings will continue in Hyderabad and Mumbai through the rest of this week. Minister MacDonald also held meetings in Bengaluru.

Contact: Brad Chatfield
Communications PEI
902-368-5501
bpchatfield@gov.pe.ca

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All India Democratic Women's Association

PRESS RELEASE

AIDWA CEC welcomes the fact that truth has been established in the brutal Kamduni gangrape and murder of a college girl student in West Bengal two and a half years ago. At the lower court the rape and murder have been proved. AIDWA is happy that justice is ensured in spite of the denial by ruling TMC and Chief Minister who only gave assurances of justice. Six acquitted have been given due punishment but still two of the alleged are being set free. The villagers claim that the two set free owe allegiance to ruling TMC. AIDWA has been by the side of the villagers whose struggle for justice was led by the two friends of the victim Tumpa Kayal and Mausumi Kayal along with their school teacher Pradip babu who formed Kamduni Pratibadi Mancha in support of the victim's family. Chief Minister herself threatened them personally and the movement but AIDWA was with the struggle for justice.

The judgement was declared on 30th January, while the crime was proved in the court on 28th January. AIDWA activists along with the villagers of Kamduni village assembled in the court and welcomed that the crime was proved. This was a victory of women's movement and democratic movement. On 29th January the justice was welcomed publicly in a mammoth rally held in Kolkata by Left women's organisation. AIDWA in West Bengal is still fighting to free the state from all anarchism and unholy nexus of police, antisocial and TMC and for restoration of democracy. Kamduni trials came as a partial victory to the struggle.

   Sd/-                                                        Sd/-
Malini Bhattacharya                   Jagmati Sangwan
(President)                                   (General Secretary)

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Amnesty International Human Rights Award 2016

Amnesty International Human Rights Award 2016 goes to Henri Tiphagne from India.

BERLIN, 25 JANUARY 2016 - Indian lawyer and human rights defender Henri Tiphagne will be awarded the 8th Human Rights Award by Amnesty International Germany. The award, which will be presented at an official ceremony on April 25 at the Maxim Gorki Theatre in Berlin, is a recognition of Henri Tiphagne's exceptional commitment to human rights. "For many decades now, Henri Tiphagne has been tirelessly and bravely standing up for human rights. His organisation's invaluable work includes campaigning against discrimination and the use of torture in India," Amnesty International said in a statement.

"Henri Tiphagne and his organisation People's Watch, while fighting to ensure the rights of others, are themselves being harassed and hampered in their work by the authorities. And there are other civil society organisations in India that are in a similar position. The award is therefore meant to send a strong signal of support to the whole of the Indian human rights movement," adds Selmin Çal??kan, Director of Amnesty International Germany.

Henri Tiphagne is the founder of the organisation People's Watch, one of the most notable human rights organisations in India. People's Watch has been researching and documenting human rights violations, as well as providing legal representation to those affected, for over 20 years. The organisation also actively supports human rights education: In 1997, Henri Tiphagne founded an institute offering training for teachers as well as mentoring around school human rights education programmes. So far, they have managed to reach out to around 500,000 children in 18 Indian states.

In recent years, many organisations have come under intense pressure by the Indian government, and People's Watch is no exception. The organisation's bank accounts have been frozen repeatedly since 2012. This meant that some employees had to be dismissed and many programmes needed to be abandoned. The Delhi government in power at the time used the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to justify this kind of harassment. A complaint filed by People's Watch against these government actions is still pending. The same legal framework is being instrumentalised for political ends by the current government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Those targeted by the authorities include non-governmental organisations as well as activists and local protest groups campaigning, for example, against forced evictions to make way for new coal mining projects.

Whenever activists and organisations are forced to limit the scope of their work due to this kind of harassment, human rights such as the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association are under threat.

The Human Rights Award is presented by Amnesty Germany every two years in recognition of individuals or organisations campaigning for human rights under very difficult conditions.

With the award, Amnesty International aims to honour and support the awardees' exceptional human rights commitment and raise awareness of their work amongst the German public.

The award is endowed with 10,000 Euros, provided by Amnesty Germany's foundation Stiftung Menschenrechte, Förderstiftung Amnesty. The Human Rights Award will be presented for the eighth time in 2016. Former award recipients include: Monira Rahman from Bangladesh (2006), Women of Zimbabwe Arise from Zimbabwe (2008), Abel Barrera from Mexico (2011) and Alice Nkom from Cameroon (2014).

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Indigenous Fellowship Programme - Senior Indigenous Fellow

In 2011, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) established an on-the-job training opportunity for indigenous persons who are more highly qualified / experienced. The position of "Senior Indigenous Fellow" aims at giving selected candidates a better understanding of the international human rights system and mechanisms, especially those dealing with indigenous issues, through direct work experience within the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section (IPMS) at OHCHR in Geneva. Along with gaining practical knowledge and work experience, the Senior Indigenous Fellow also develops extensive networks with other UN departments or agencies, Geneva-based human rights NGOs and other key actors dealing with human rights and indigenous issues at the international level.

The Fellow is expected to return to his/her home country with an enhanced set of skills and expertise to contribute towards the promotion and protection of human rights of indigenous persons at the national, regional and international levels. Who can apply? The candidate must be indigenous. He/she should have:

  • A university degree preferably in law, political sciences, international relations or any other disciplines related to human rights.
  • Basic understanding of international human rights instruments and mechanisms, including those specifically dealing with the rights of indigenous peoples.
  • Minimum of four years of working experience in the field of indigenous peoples' rights.
  • He/she should be fluent in English. Other language skills including Spanish, French or Russian are highly desirable.
The call for applications for senior indigenous fellowship is now open!

For more information click here. Deadline for applications: February 25, 2016.
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/IPeoples/Pages/SeniorIndigenousFellow.aspx

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Symposium on Relevance of the Social Forum

Invitation to national symposium on "Peoples movements in India today: Relevance of the Social Forum process" organized by the Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika on February 19th and 20th, 2016, @ St. Ann's Generalate, Behind CCMB, Tarnaka, Nagarjuna Nagar , Hyderabad.

13 years ago, on Jan 2-7, 2003, the Asian Social Forum was organized in Hyderabad, on the Nizam College grounds. It was the first Social Forum in Asia and was a historic event globally. Organized around the slogan of "Another World is Possible!" the focal issues of the Forum were imperialist globalization, religious and sectarian violence, casteism and patriarchy. The Asian Forum saw the participation of over 20,000 people and it prepared the ground for the even bigger mobilization of more than 100,000 at the WSF IV in Mumbai. Then came the Polycentric World Social Forum in Karachi , Pakistan in January 2006. In November 2006 an Indian social forum event was held in Delhi. The first South Asia Social Forum was held in Dhaka, Bangladesh In November 2011. After the WSF IV in Mumbai, the WSF went back to Brazil, and then Senegal, and twice in Tunisia. The next Forum is to be in Montreal in August 2016.

In India, the process virtually died out after the Indian Social Forum in 2006. There have been efforts to revive the Forum process, only over the past year or so. In Lucknow where local organisations/activists expressed their interest in organizing a Forum event. However, the national level process is essentially a slow and difficult one. It must be mentioned that there have been other processes of coming together on basis of specific urgent, or sectoral issues over the past decade, all with varying degrees of success, besides the Social Forum. However, Social forum processes have proved to be extraordinarily popular, as an open space where activists from people's movements, NGOs, political parties, cultural groups, trade unions, women's organisations, dalit and indigenous movements have participated in large numbers in almost all corners of the country. The main contribution of the social forum in India was the unique nature of the process of preparing for the event, involving broad multi sector, multi political tendency meetings at district and state levels, in which people participated from the broadest cross section of political and policy activism. Alliances have been formed, experiences shared, strategies formulated, ideas exchanged, friendships established. There has been contention and debate, but in the process, some level of understanding and tolerance for differences, have evolved.

Many debates arose out of the WSF event and the process that preceded it. The BJP was in government at the time that the process was owned and developed by people's movements in the country. There are differing views on whether the social forum process was helpful for people's movements and activists at the grassroots. However it is undeniable that the world social forum is a phenomenon; and there has not been an assembly and process of coming together of peoples movements at quite the same level, anywhere in the world, especially on a call for alternatives to globalization and capitalism.

Today the BJP is back in government. The emboldening of the right wing fanatics, growing intolerance of dissent, the takeover of institutions, the bureaucracy and all the pillars of the state are proceeding at a rapid pace. Social engineering is being organsied at the local level against minorities, through aggressive fringe groups who think they are above the law. The economic ascendance of India has meant increased economic disparities, more state repression and denial of human rights and the ruthless exploitation of peoples and natural resources in the name of development. However that is not all. There are still many issues that are yet unresolved, among the liberal and left organizations too, amongst ourselves, particularly issues related to social identity, caste and gender politics as well as the questions of democracy, especially internal democracy within organisations.

In the rapidly changing economic political and social scenario in India, the need for a broad discourse reflecting the huge diversity of political and social realities is urgently needed..The question of political alternatives and agendas have become critical. Also the need for broader alliances before events overtake democratic and progressive people's movements. While corporate interests and right wing, communal sectarian forces are gaining strength, solidarity among people's movements is lagging behind, leaving a gap which constitutes a danger to the effectiveness of all people's movements The questions of alternatives and the strategies and alliances needed to build those alternatives are still unresolved. In a multi- cultural country, diversity and differences on political positions, strategies and tactics are unavoidable. Yet should this reality become a stumbling block in coming together to meet the current situation, and the dangers inherent therein? Is the social forum process something that can be useful at this point in our history? Is it credible, possible, necessary, and effective? Should it be revived? Is it worth the time and effort, and the money?

This national symposium will seek to discuss these questions, and the other issues confronting people's movements today, the need for alliances, the nature of those alliances, and first steps. It will also look at the relevance of the social movement process in the current political context. We call upon people's movements, trade unions, mass organisations, NGOs, professionals, and others, from across the country to participate in this meeting. We especially call upon those who have been actively involved in the social forum before.

Do make it convenient to attend.

If you want accommodation at St. Ann's Generalate please contact the number given below for details.

Signatories:
M Kodandram, Rama Melkote, M Laxmaiah, K Lalita, M. Sashi Kumar, Uma Shankari, Meena Menon.

Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika (Telangana Intellectuals Forum) will host the meeting.
Contact for logistics: Anju Reshma: + 91 9949811120. Email: anjureshma.9@gmail.com

Contact address: Telangana Vidyavantula Vedika, 5-9-22/4, Hill fort, Adarsha Nagar, near MKA quarters, Hyderabad.

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Sama-bhav 2016

Inter-Collegiate Film Festival Sama-bhav 2016

Sama-bhav 2016 on Gender, Masculinity and Relationships to be organized by Men Against Violence and Abuse (MAVA) in collaboration with Ramnarain Ruia College's Department of BMM - English, National Service Scheme (NSS) and Marathi. The venue is Ruia College Auditorium, Matunga.

The festival is open and free to all Students and Faculty of Colleges across Mumbai, apart from few representatives of voluntary social organizations. We are expecting around 250 participants on both the days and hope to engage all of them through healthy conversations on Gender before and after the screenings of the films. The fest aims at developing understanding and perspective of the gathered audience, on the concerns and contemporary, critical issues faced by all the 3 Genders in Indian Society and in other countries.

Please note that Registration is on first-come-first-served basis. So please register soon name of the participating student, college name, phone number and email at samabhavfestmumbai@gmail.com

All College students will have to present their College I-cards while entering Ruia College on the days of the Film Festival.

Kindly forward this mail to all your contacts in colleges and among social organizations in Mumbai, encouraging them to register and participate.

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Breaking the Chains of 'Historical Injustice' Dalits and Adivasis assert their rights over the Sundarban Forest

PRESS RELEASE FEBRUARY 02, 2016

"The tiger is not our threat, the Forest Department is." "Forest Department Kee Jaagir Nahi; Sundarban Humara Hai"

Asserting their rights over the Sundarban forest, more than 200 people from the region assembled at the Public Hearing in Sundarban islands on 31st January 2016. The Press Conference of the Public Hearing took place at the Press Club Kolkata on 2nd February 2016 which was attended by Panelists and the representatives of the mass organisation.

The people, through submissions made to the Independent Public Hearing Panel asserted that the Sundarban forest is not a place where ONLY tigers exist. Around three million people out of the four million total population of the island dwellers are Dalit, Adivasi and most backward Muslim communities who are 'forest dependent'; subsistence peasants, fisher folk and forest produce collectors. Their voices have been ignored and left unheard over the past several decades, if not centuries. The Public Hearing paved the way for people to raise their issues before an internationally renowned Panel of experts, academia, lawyers and activists.

Women and men, mainly from the following islands - Shamshernagar, Gosaba, Saatjaliya , Kultali, Bali, Kumirmari made their submissions before the panel at the Public Hearing on their issues, including non-implementation of Forest Rights Act in Sundarban. The Public Hearing took place at Dakhin Uttar Danga Primary School, Bagbagan, Rangabelia, Gosaba Island of the Sundarban, West Bengal. It was organised by Sundarban Jana Sramajibi Manch (SJSM) and All India Union of Forest, Working People (AIUFWP) and was attended by over 200 people from different islands across the Sundarban and more than 100 people from different mass organizations across the country. 22 oral and written submissions were made to the Panel.

The panel members included Medha Patkar (Social Activist), Adv. Sanjay Parikh (Senior Lawyer, Supreme Court of India), Prof. Nandini Sundar (Delhi School of Economics), Arupjyoti Saikia (Professor, IIT Guwhati), Naba Dutta (General Secretary, Nagarik Manch and Social Activist), Dr. Kamal N. Chaubey (Researcher on Forest Rights Issues), and Jayanta Basu (Senior Journalist, Telegraph).

Highlighting the continuing 'historical injustice' towards them, the submissions of the forest dependent communities of the Sundarban islands to the panel focused on clear violations of the Forest Rights Act (2006), which is also a violation of the Constitution of India. They spoke about what is going on in these areas, the harassment faced by the people for whom the forest is the primary source of livelihood, the repeated attacks on their culture and identity, the atrocities they face from the Forest Department/Revenue Department/State police and the fact that the government authorities are taking no initiative for the people of this region. They spoke about the arbitrary and inconsistent 'License Raj' of the Forest Department, the harassment and violence and about structural corruption incorporated by the Forest Department in forest governance.

One of the core issues relating to the access to the forest for the people is the Boat License Certificate (BLC) impacting lives of the entire forest dependent communities. It was also reported that they are required to pay fines arbitrarily; the core and buffer area is changed as per the Forest Department deems fit. They are illegally detained, charged with false cases and their collection of the forest produce confiscated. On the other hand, the authorities do not register complaints raised by the community people, be it sexual harassment or SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities). The traditional forest dwellers are made to live in constant fear of vindictive repression by the Forest Department.

It was reported that there are no regulations on tourism in the region and that tourists are allowed to travel to the core areas with motorized boats whereas the forest dependent people are restricted from doing so. Fishing trawlers are given licences whereas the forest dependent people are fined and harassed for collecting what rightfully belongs to them.

The community members who deposed raised the rampant exploitation that they face during the honey collection season. The FD staff insists that the people submit a minimum of 120 kg. per person in every trip. The FD insists that the people sell the honey to them at Rs.110 per kg while the market price is much higher. The FD sells it at more than thrice the buying cost. Even if the people have collected more than 120 kg, the FD confiscates the rest. The FD gets away by doing this illegal exploitation by giving the people the false impression that they would not get the pass again next time they want entry into the forest. Instances where FD officials threw people into the river, for resisting to pay bribes were also reported to the Panel.

Many of the submissions highlighted the fact that there is a deliberate ignorance among the authorities about the relationship that forest dependent communities have with the forest. Neither the FD nor the State government is concerned about the increasing tiger attacks in the region or provisions for compensation for the victims' families. They raised that the authorities and other environmental conservation organisations are only concerned about the animal protection, especially 'saving the tiger'! They also mentioned several cases of people who go into the forest being kidnapped by huge gangs of dacoits. The FD and state government turns a blind eye when this is shared with them.

Although an elaborate administrative set up with several government bodies are in place to look after the development of Sundarban, it was raised that in actuality, they are dysfunctional.

Everything in the islands seems to be controlled by the Forest Department. After hearing the depositions of the people, the panellists presented their observations and recommendations. "Is the Constitution even alive?" asked Medha Patkar, social activist addressing the Central and State government. She stated that we live in a free and democratic country and follow the colonial legacy. Reminding the authorities about Nandigram and Singur struggles, she added that any state or political party trying to oppress the people will not succeed. She added that the duty of the government is to serve the people. She asserted that the FRA has to be implemented in this region and the people will make that happen. She also said that such a progressive law has come after a lot of struggle by the forest dependent communities. She warned the Central Government that any attempt that they make to dilute the FRA shall be strongly opposed by the people as it is a constitutional right. Adv. Sanjay Parikh shared his observations and made it clear that the FRA 2006 is a central legislation and the Government of India and state Governement of West Bengal must implement it. Quoting the much known Niyamgiri cases, he added that any violations of this law is unacceptable and the people have the right to hold the government accountable in such a condition.

Peoples' Movements that organized the Public Hearing on 31st January 2016 in Sundarban islands along with various mass organizations announced their way forward in asserting their constitutional rights over the forest as recognized and ensured by The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights Act) 2006.

The Press Conference was addressed by:
Dr Kamal Nayan Chaubey (Researcher on Forest Rights Issues and panel member), M. Ilango (Chairperson, National Fishworkers Forum), Ashok Choudhary (General Secretary, All India Union of Forest Working People), Roma (Deputy General Secretary, AIUFWP), Naba Datta (General Secretary, Nagarik Manch), Sanjeev Kumar (Delhi Forum), Amitabh Mitra (National Alliance of People's Movements, West Bengal) and Pabitra Mandal (General Secretary, Sundarban Jana Sramajibi Manch) Contact for report and any other information: 9897064627, 9874771779, 9958797409

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The first South Asian Women Parliamentarian Dialogue

Women political leaders from six nations come together to discuss gender issues. Leading women parliamentarians from India, Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka are engaging in a series of activities in Colombo and New Delhi designed to forge links between these political leaders and raise awareness on gender equality and the importance of women's political and economic participation in their society.

For more information write to womensfeatureservice@gmail.com

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