The All India Democratic Women's Associationstrongly condemns the Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh for trivializing the serious crime of rape and gang rape in a public meeting at Moradabad yesterday, where he openly asked for condoning such heinous acts as momentary lapses.

Rape can hardly be called a "mistake" as Mr. Yadav thinks it is; more than often it is a premeditated act and an expression and assertion of power over women. It can in no way be condoned by using the old patriarchal argument that "Boys will be Boys". Mr. Yadav's contention that women put false charges of sexual assault on their partners in a fit of pique is equally condemnable, and echoes the highly retrograde and anti-women assertions made in the Manusmriti. The Shakti Mills case, which Mr. Yadav criticized is clearly a case of gang rape by lumpen elements who had already committed a similar crime and gotten away with it because the woman did not complain out of fear. By making such retrograde remarks, Mr. Yadav is denigrating rape survivors and downplaying the gravity of sexual assault. He is obfuscating the issue by using the ploy of the debatable application of death penalty for sexual assault.

Such statements, especially by politicians who tend to influence policy making, will only further vitiate existing gender biases in our society. In this context, AIDWA reiterates the need to frame a Code of Conduct to prevent anti women remarks by public figures.

Malini Bhattacharya President, AIDWA
Jagmati Sangwan, General Secretary




A Sizeable Section Of Indian Voters In A Mood For 'High Risk, High Returns'

The author, Mr. Anand Agashe, a bilingual (English & Marathi) journalist with 30 years of experience, worked as an editor with several leading Indian newspapers including Sakal, The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Independent, Loksatta and a few others.

He analyses India's contemporary political landscape ahead of the elections and provides various possible scenarios that could emerge after the vote counting exercise has concluded. Download Paper ( FES India Paper - General Elections

We are pleased to share with you FES India Paper titled: THE 16th GENERAL ELECTION: A Sizeable Section Of Indian Voters In A Mood For 'High Risk, High Returns'.

814 million voters will make the 16th parliamentary elections in India the largest democratic exercise in the world. Opinion polls suggest that the Congress Party will register a decline this time, with the BJP projected to rise to new heights.

Most observers see Narendra Modi of the BJP as the most likely person to become the new prime minister of India so the question is: can the 'Gujarat Development Model' be a blueprint for the whole country?

Of interest to observers is also the question what difference the arrival of a new political formation like the Aam Aadmi Party will make to Indian politics? Will it make a meaningful contribution towards the transformation of the political-economic system in the country by steering it away from the endemic corruption that has come to mark it and by ensuring that the focus shifts to more substantive issues and to good governance?

We hope you enjoy reading the paper. We would welcome your feedback and/or comments.

Kind regards from Team-FES.

Download Paper (

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) was founded in 1925 as a political legacy of Friedrich Ebert, the first democratically elected President of Germany. As a private cultural non-profit institution, it is committed to the ideals and basic values of social democracy.


Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN)

Takes great pleasure in announcing the launch of its new publication HOW TO RESPOND TO FORCED EVICTIONS: A HANDBOOK FOR INDIA

Justice A.P. Shah, former Chief Justice of the High Court of Delhi willl release the publication. Wednesday, 16 April 2014 | 2.00 - 3.30 PM India International Centre Annexe, Lecture Room Two


The book release will be followed by a Panel Discussion on EVICTIONS IN INDIA: RULE OF LAW AND ROLE OF THE STATE


  • Justice A.P. Shah | Former Chief Justice, High Court of Delhi, and Chairperson, Law Commission of India
  • Mr Satyabrata Pal | Former diplomat and former member, National Human Rights Commission
  • Ms Kalyani Menon Sen | Feminist activist and independent researcher
  • Mr Indu Prakash Singh | Convenor, National Forum for Housing Rights
  • Mr Amar Nath | Chief Executive Officer, Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) (to confirm)
  • Mr D.S. Negi | Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation (to confirm)
  • Mr Balvinder Kumar | Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authority (to confirm)
  • Shivani Chaudhry | Executive Director, Housing and Land Rights Network, Delhi
To RSVP and for more information, contact / 011-2435-8492



Dear Friend,

The French Republic has awarded Chintan with the prestigious Human Rights Special Mention Prize of the French Republic, for its success in giving a voice to the poorest of the poor, India's wastepickers and kabaris. The medal was presented by the French Ambassador to India, H.E François Richier, on March 26th, at a formal investiture ceremony at his residence, in the presence of over 100 guests. The medal was accepted by the founder, Bharati Chaturvedi, along with 4 wastepickers, from the East, South, Centre and North-West of Delhi. Two wastepickers and Bharati offered acceptance speeches. In her speech, Bharati pointed out that 145 years ago, the famous painter Manet honored and dignified the wastepicker, Le Chiffonier, in his famous painting of the same name. "It is very special that these many years later", she said, "the French people have followed in the footsteps of one of their most famous artists." Wastepickers Manoura Begum and Santu, from Safai Sena, thanked the French people for recognizing their work and their importance, an honor they were hoping to receive some day from their own countrymen.

The French Ambassador remarked that what was unique about Chintan's work was that it combined green issues with issues related to poverty.

Chintan would like to thank those of you specially who have individually contributed to it by way of advice, a patient hearing, old clothes, electronic waste, waste, and of course, financial contributions. This honor and prize is yours to cherish, because you have given the wastepickers and Chintan the fuel to move ahead.

A very big and heartfelt thank you to all of you and congratulations!

Do click on the link to read up more on this on Facebook.

Chintan Team Chintan Environmental Research And Action Group
C-14 Lajpat Nagar, Second Floor, Part III. New Delhi 110 024. India
Tel: +91-11-46574171, 46574172 Fax: +91-11-46574174


Women Unlimited

A L L - T I M E F A V O U R I T E S !

A Chughtai Quartet.jpgA Chughtai Quartet

Obsession, The Wild One, Wild Pigeons, The Heart Breaks Free
Ismat Chughtai
Translated by Tahira Naqvi

Rs. 400 &nbs;   Pb &nbs;   Pp. 331+x &nbs;  ISBN: 978-81-88965-87-8
All rights available

The four novellas in this volume span the inimitable Ismat Chughtai's literary career, from 1939 to 1971. Each one develops the author's central preoccupation with the lives of women as they experience love, tragedy, societal prescriptions and proscriptions, in collision with their own rebellious spirit. A keen sense of their individual subversive potential and a willingness to take the consequences of obduracy in the face of overwhelming odds, ensures that they are neither hapless nor victims. Through them Chughtai delivers a scathing critique on the hypocrisy and cant of social mores, and the festering maladies that infect society.

Chughtai's characteristic mastery of form and technique, her vivid imagery and richness of language make for marvellous story-telling, and create some of the most memorable female protagonists in Indian literature.

ISMAT CHUGHTAI is the author of several collections of short stories, four novellas, three novels, a collection of reminiscences and essays, My Friend, My Enemy, and a memoir, Kaghazi hai Perahan (The Paper-thin Garment). With her husband, Shahid Latif, a film director, she produced and co-directed six films, and produced a further six independently.

TAHIRA NAQVI is a translator, writer, and Urdu language lecturer in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. She has translated the works of Sa'dat Hasan Manto, Munshi Premchand, Khadija Mastoor and Ismat Chughtai into English.


The Crooked Line: a novel

Vintage Chughtai: a selection of her best stories

A Very Strange Man: a novel
Masooma: a novel

Women Unlimited
7/10, First Floor Sarvapriya Vihar New Delhi - 110016
Tel: 011-26866596/ 26524129 Email:


Tulika Books

Towards a New History of Work

Edited by

March 2014 9.5 x 6.25 inches x+286 pages Hardback ISBN: 978-93-82381-35-8 Rs 575

This collection of essays is the outcome of a conference, organized by the Association of Indian Labour Historians in collaboration with the V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, on the histories of work, from the long-term and comparative perspective. Why did the conference organizers and participants propose to look beyond 'labour history' to look at 'the history of work'? Perhaps because at this moment of history we are in the midst of a huge change which compels our attention to turn to the notion of 'work' as distinct from that of 'labour'. This change appears to us in the form of a technological transformation that affects not just our view of history, but our life itself. Every time we use the computer or the internet or the cyber networks we experience this transformation - which brings home to us the fragility of the conventional boundary between 'labour' and 'work'. The information technology revolution has created a new space for some workers as a result of the relocation and dispersal of work, often to the home of the workers. In fact, this situates such information technology workers in a position analogous to that of the late medieval or early modern European artisans - an interesting recursive pattern in labour history. Moreover, in the less developed countries where capitalist relations do not exhaustively define all production relations, we have a large proportion of the economically active population without being in someone's employment, and thus it seems that the term 'worker' possibly accommodates them better than the term 'labourer'. Further, when we consider the long run of history, the same proposition holds for the workers of the pre-capitalist era in many countries - i.e. the artisans and others who remained self-employed even if they were tied to a dependency network. The term 'labourer' appears to be inappropriate, as some authors in the present volume have argued, to people of that class in the pre-modern period in India or elsewhere. There are many other issues which need rigorous re-thinking in the agenda of constructing a 'history of work'. In considering how the nature of 'work' is being transformed, the term 'work' needs to be defined because in common parlance it means many things. If value addition to a marketed product or service is the criterion, a pro tem working definition accepted since Adam Smith, there are problems to sort out. For instance, there may be work which is socially useful but not marketed, e.g. the home-maker's or house-wife's work, a vital question from the gender history point of view. These and many other questions surface in the segment of the current discourse of 'the history of work' represented in this volume.

The papers collected in the present volume have been arranged thematically into four sections in order to highlight some issues in focus at the conference and also to allow a cross-national perspective to develop. The first group of papers addresses the long run of history, extending to the late medieval and early modern period. The second section comprises papers on work communities and the development of their identity. The third group of papers looks at two of the oldest occupations in history, that of soldiers and sailors. Finally, we turn to the question: how was 'work' or 'labour' perceived by those who actually performed it? In the fourth section of the book we have essays which elaborate on that perception of work, the complexities of self-perception and the socially ascribed status of workers in different domains.

Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, the editor of this volume, was formerly Professor of Economic History, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Vice-Chancellor, Visva Bharati University, West Bengal; and Chairman, Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi. He is the founder president of the Association of Indian Labour Historians. His work ranges from economic history to cultural and intellectual history of modern India. Amongst his many books are Financial Foundations of the British Raj: Ideas and Interests in the Reconstruction of Indian Public Finance, 1858-1872 (2005), Talking Back: Idea of Civilization in the Indian Nationalist Discourse (2010) and Rabindranath Tagore: An Interpretation (2011).

To order copies of the book, please contact:
Tulika Books, 35 A/1 (ground floor) Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 110 049.
IPD Alternatives, 35 A/1 (ground floor), Shahpur Jat, New Delhi 110 049.
To buy copies of the book online, please visit:,


Population First

Population First has developed a draft for the political parties to be included in their General Election Manifesto, 2014. This draft manifesto guidelines attempt to bring forth the concern over loss of maternal lives owing to lack of access to safe abortion services. Despite a liberal law governing abortion in India (Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1972), every two hours one woman dies in India due to complications arising out of unsafe abortion practices. Research documents that, every year 6.4 million abortions take place in India, of which nearly 56% are unsafe.

Non-availability of trained providers, stigma around abortion, poor knowledge about availability and legality of abortions coupled with detailed documentation requirements from the service providers, forces women with unintended pregnancies to turn to unsafe methods or to untrained providers to end their pregnancy. Further, the access to abortion services is being restricted in an effort to curb the practice of pre-birth sex selection, thus blurring the line defining the gender biased sex selection and safe abortion. Data shows that, 80 to 90 percent of reported abortions in India take place in the first trimester and sex selection can be done only in the second trimester of the pregnancy. Yet, every woman availing an abortion service is viewed with suspicion of pre-birth sex selection. Restricting access to safe abortion services for women not only poses long term health impacts on them, but is a violation of their reproductive as well as the Human Rights.

The political parties need to be sensitive towards the issue of access to safe abortion in the ambit of women's reproductive rights. In the manifestos of 2009 elections, BJP has proposed to strengthen existing laws protecting women's rights, such as laws banning pre-birth sex selection, dowry, child marriage, trafficking, rape, and family violence. However, none of the political parties have ever shown interest in protecting or advocating the reproductive rights of women and specifically address the morbidity and mortality arising out of unsafe abortion practices. We therefore request the political parties to recognize and promote access to safe abortion services by articulating the need of women for safe abortion services under reproductive health rights of women.

Action Points
To reduce the number of deaths from unsafe abortion in India:

  • Expand the base of legal abortion providers. India basically has a "physicians only" abortion law. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act currently allows only gynecologists and MBBS doctors who have undergone specific training to provide abortion services. However, the latest developments in medical abortion makes it safe even for the non-allopathic doctors and para medics to provide services, when adequately trained to identify the complications arising out of it and refer them to the appropriate institutions in case of complications.
  • Data shows that a woman in rural areas has to travelon an average 29.4Kms to access an abortion services in a public health care setting, while her counterpart in urban areas has to travel 1.5km to access the abortion services. It has been also shown that, there are only four abortion facilities for 100,000 population requiring the service. Of these, only one is a public sector facility and remaining three belong to the private sector. The number of providers could be significantly increased by amending the law to authorize medical practitioners with bachelor's degrees in Unani, Ayurveda or Homeopathy to provide abortion care. Simplify access to legal abortion services by amending the MTP Act.
  • As per the law currently, women must obtain the opinion of one doctor for a first-trimester abortion and the opinion of two doctors for a second-trimester abortion. This is especially difficult for women living in rural areas, where there are far fewer physicians. Simplifying and reducing the requirement for a provider's opinion for both first and second trimester abortions would greatly increase women's access. Further, extending the condition of contraceptive failure for unmarried women as well would also help reduce number of women seeking unsafe abortions. Increase the upper gestational limit for abortion in exceptional conditions. In cases where there is a diagnosis of substantial fetal abnormalities, the MTP Act should be amended to allow for later terminations, i.e. beyond 20 weeks of gestation. Technological and medical advancements in recent years have made late abortions safer than ever before.
Contact: 3rd floor, Shetty House, 101 M.G Road, Fort, Mumbai 400 001 E-mail:


Caritas India Inaugurates Smallholder Farmers' Network

Caritas India Inaugurates National Level Smallholder Farmers' Network

New Delhi: Caritas India, a national level development organisation, announced the formation of a national level smallholder farmers forum in the farmers' conclave held in New Delhi on 26 March 2014. The event was attended by over four hundred farmers and delegates from seventeen countries of Asia.

Addressing the farmers, Cardinal Baselios Cleemis said that time has come for searching solutions to the survival challenges of farmers beyond modern agriculture. Cardinal Cleemis said "chemical farming has started yielding disastrous consequences like terminal illnesses of people who consume food grown with chemical farming. It has also failed to provide food and livelihood security for the vast agriculture dependent population". Cardinal Baselios is the president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI), the apex body of Roman Catholic Church in India. Cardinal Cleemis further said that smallholder farmers need to revive their traditional and sustainable agriculture which is more capable of solving their food, nutrition and livelihood insecurity.

His Grace Anil Couto, archbishop of New Delhi, in his chief guest's address said that farmers' solidarity will greatly contribute to strengthening the voice of farmers. "Farmers give food to the world; they must not live in poverty. Caritas India along with her partners should strive to establish a new society where farmers will have greater food and livelihood security", archbishop Anil Couto said. The farmers' convention, Pan Asia Farm Fest (PAFF)-2014, was organised to mark the commencement of the celebration of International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) by the network of Caritas India which has membership of over 1000 humanitarian agencies across India. The UN had recently announced year 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF).

Dr. Devender Sharma, eminent agriculture policy analyst, in his keynote address, expressed grave concern over the global conspiracy for corporatizing agriculture sector and stripping farmers of their wealth of agriculture. "It is a perplexing paradox that 56% of India's farmers, who grow food, go to bed hungry every day. Hence, eradicating the hunger of farmers assumes paramount importance", Dr. Devender Sharma said. No Genetically Modified (GM) can claim higher productivity; what they bring is manifold increase in the use of dangerous pesticides and chemical fertilisers, Dr. Devender Sharma added.

During the event, six farmers from across India were felicitated for their innovations and farming successes. Three books, which are compilations of the farmers' successes and eco-friendly agriculture practices developed and practiced by Caritas India, were also released.

A woman farmer read out the farmers' charter which was finalised on the basis of the recommendations that emerged from the one-day deliberation which was organised in the run-up to the farmers' convention.

Fr. Frederick D'souza, executive director of Caritas India, earlier gave an introduction to the objectives of PAFF. In his address he reiterated the commitment of Caritas India to secure the lives of farmers and enabling them to overcome their backwardness. Fr. Paul Moonjely, assistant executive director, gave a brief introduction about the process of consolidating agriculture knowledge capital drawing from the field experiences of Caritas India.

The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Dr. Haridas, Manager Natural Resource Manager of Caritas India.



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