AMAN in Media

The Waste Picking Community: Some Issues and Concerns, EPW


Lives in a wasteland

Millenniumpost, 18 June 2012,  New Delhi
'Flowers in the dust: The waste pickers of Delhi' showcases the plight of rag-pickers in the capital.
How many times have we gone to a plush market and thrown a wrapper or a plastic container in a wastebasket? Often, small feet scurry around the waste basket, we know they are small children who spend their childhood picking waste but we avert our eyes and walk on.

An initiative by the NGO Aman Trust, in collaboration with All India Kachra Shramik Mahasangh, Flowers in the dust: The waste pickers of Delhi is a photo exhibition which captures the life of rag-pickers of the city.


Interview in All India Radio, Waste-pickers of Delhi

An interview on All India Radio (AIR) FM Radio station 102.6, with our colleague Kausiki Sarma and Dharamendra Yadav, Gen. Secretary All India Kachra Shramik Mahasangh on the recently held Photo-Exhibition on waste-pickers Flowers in the Dust.



From rags to worse

Kusum Kanojia, Jun 20, 2012

Waste Pickers

Capturing rag pickers and slum dwellers in pictures is referred by many as a cliché.

Many who are privy to a photographer’s moments often feel that there are other feel good subjects that can be focused upon rather than project this bitter reality existing in cities.
For the lensman however, this reality is far more bitter and harsh than imagined by the viewer and therein lies the former’s fascination. An Assam-based photographer Kausiki Sarma who uncovered the tough lives of waste pickers of Delhi, recently showcased the same at an exhibition of her pictures.


Zooming into the world of waste pickers

 The Hindu, June 16, 2012

Salman is a 13-year-old slum dweller who lives near the Shahbad dairy here. He longs to attend school like children his age. But every morning he earns his livelihood by going to Rohini Sector 18 to help his relatives collect, segregate and sell recyclable waste.

Salman is one among hundreds of children working as waste pickers in Delhi. But on Friday, this boy was a special guest at the Art Gallery in India International Centre Annexe where he inaugurated a four-day photo exhibition on waste pickers of the city.

Salman says June 15 will always be a special day in his life. “I have never been to an art gallery before. I not only inaugurated but also interacted with so many people. Life is tough for me. As my father is an alcoholic, I live with my maternal grandparents. My goal in life is to attend school like other kids. But schools refuse to take me. So I was being educated at home by mammu, but he cannot do so now.”

His grandfather Oiinul Kazi migrated to Delhi from West Bengal three decades ago looking for work. Everyone in the family contributes because every set of hands means a little more money.



An article by our colleague Jamal Kidwai on the killing of Ranvir Sena Chief Brahmeshwar Singh Telegraph

The killing of the Ranvir Sena chief shows how Bihar continues to be haunted by violence,
writes Jamal Kidwai

Tuesday , June 5 , 2012

The brutal gunning down of the chief of the banned Ranvir Sena, Brahmeshwar Singh ‘Mukhiya’, in broad daylight in Ara on June 1 is being seen as linked to the April 2012 acquittal of 23 Bathani Tola massacre convicts by the Patna high court. The Mukhiya — one of the main accused among them — spent nine years in jail and was also an accused in 21 other massacres. But he was acquitted in 16 of these and had got bail in the remaining six.


A house divided for Mrs and Mr.

An article by our colleague Jamal Kidwai on Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill in the Tribun

A house divided for Mrs and Mr
Are women recognised as equal actors inside the institution of marriage? Success of the new Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill, which ensures half a share for woman in her husband's residential property depends on how this question is answered by other institutions and the society in general.

By Jamal Kidwai
The Union Cabinet has made some significant amendments to the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill. The most radical being that in case of divorce, the women will get half a share in her husband's residential property, regardless of whether the property was acquired before or during the marriage. The spirit behind this amendment is to empower and encourage women, by giving them financial security, to seek divorce when they are in an unhappy marriage or a marriage which is abusive and violent. This is truly a progressive amendment and should be welcomed not only by womens groups but all people who are progressive and liberal.

Having said that, our past experience shows that when it comes to empowerment and protection of minorities like women, dalits, tribals and Muslims, laws in themselves are not enough. This is because of several reasons.


Of Fatwas and Fascism

The intellectuals of Deoband need to understand that their mindless Fatwas contribute to the fascist degeneration of the Indian polity 
By Dilip Simeon, Delhi

Over the past four months, the Deoband Ulama has contributed to the climate of intolerance and religious bigotry in India. First, by opposing Salman Rushdie's presence at the Jaipur Literature Festival, and now by sabotaging a perfectly legitimate subject for research.

In the first instance they succeeded by riding on the backs of various hooligans disguised as 'Muslim leaders', and now by presenting themselves as the self-appointed representatives of 'hurt sentiment' - that tried and tested weapon of communal politicians of all colours. (Witness the hue and cry over AK Ramanujan's Three Hundred Ramayanas). They want Rushdie’s work to be excluded from bona-fide literary research, even if the research does not explicitly take up The Satanic Verses. 


Family chronicles

Family Chronicles: An article by our colleague Jamal Kidwai in the April 2012 issue of SEMINAR

April, 2012

The tragedy of the Partition can be revisited from many prisms. The most common is the brutal violence and displacement that shaped the formation of India and Pakistan. In this article I will not address that aspect; instead I want to try and sketch an anecdotal history by dwelling on incidents in my family which, in their own manner, invoke the tragedy of the Partition. These incidents, sometimes comic and at other times tragic, show how the Partition created new and largely artificial identities relating to notions of citizenship, culture, kinship, family and politics. It also shows how our understanding of these concepts became expressive, on the one hand, of a kind of common sense and, on the other, left these same concepts unresolved and unexamined.


Gandhi's Final Fast

by Dilip Simeon

Recently I was asked to write a couple of lectures for students, undergraduates - on the significance of Gandhi, and on communalism. When I began writing the lectures, which were supposed to be written very simply, I realized that I was not being true to the task of trying to bring across something important about that great man to the younger generation, many of whom may have forgotten. And then I decided to tell his story, and I myself began to research something which I had not done for a very long time which is, I simply began to read through Gandhi’s last utterances over the last weeks of his life.


Democracy over security: India's role in Afghanistan

Jamal Kidwai , 3 February 2011

India needs to drastically reformulate its policy in Afghanistan and adopt a more long-term political strategy based on the principles non-alignment, democracy and development, argues Jamal Kidwai

The Indian Foreign Minister, S M Krishna, recently made a two-day visit to Kabul where he met his counterpart Rasool Zalmay as well as president Hamid Karzai. The visit indicates the anxiety that India is facing with regard to its future in Afghanistan after a US withdrawal. Upon returning to Delhi, Krishna expressed concern over the security situation there. He said, “What is happening in Afghanistan is something which is very disturbing. [...]The Taliban are an umbrella organisation which shelters LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba] and other terrorist organisations.”


‘On Kashmir, It’s Essential To Listen Without An Agenda’

Interview, Magazine | Nov 22, 2010
'There is need to have conversations with the government and other sections in India'
Anuradha Raman Interviews Shobna Sonpar

“Psychologically speaking, the Kashmiris are already outside India and will remain there for at least two generations. The random killing, rapes, torture and the other innovative atrocities have brutalised their society and turned them into a traumatised lot. If you think this is too harsh, read between the lines of psychotherapist Shobna Sonpar’s report on Kashmir,” wrote political social-psychologist Ashis Nandy in a recent column in Outlook. Violent Activism by Delhi-based psychologist Shobna Sonpar is a clinical study of men who walked the violent talk to achieve their goals. Shobna’s depiction of what goes on in the Valley makes Kashmir our own Abu Ghraib where torture and humiliation of young men labelled as militants is nothing out of the ordinary.


Long march to hope

Rajashri Dasgupta, Mar 20, 2010

Caught in the crossfire between Maoists and security personnel, Gothi Koyas, a hill tribe from Chhattisgarh, have been rendered homeless in their own land. As they migrate in thousands to Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Maharashtra, Rajashri Dasgupta writes about the ordeal.

In February this year, hundreds of villagers walked silently with bags of rice and utensils slung over their shoulders. They left behind deserted villages with a few stray cattle, old women and lactating mothers. Men, women and children in small groups trudged swiftly southwards on the deserted bus route, all headed in one direction - away from Dantewada district in southern Chhattisgarh, perhaps never to return to their ancestral village.


Auto-meters for the people

Simon Harding

Mar 23 2010

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s promise to scrap autorickshaws — because autowallahs “harass” passengers and many ply “illegally” — is part of her desire to see visitors to Delhi’s Commonwealth Games return convinced “that they have been to a truly civilised city”. But are Delhi’s autowallahs really that greedy? Why won’t they switch on the meter? Why do so many ply “illegally”?

There are two types of auto-driver: 80 per cent are renter-drivers, renting autos from contractors who own multiple vehicles. They pay Rs 250-300 for 10-12 hours and earn the same amount in profit: half their daily taking goes on rent and CNG. Owner-drivers own their machines, although “owner” is misleading as most are repaying huge loans to auto-financiers from whom they purchased the rickshaw and the required permit. Monthly payments are Rs 9,000-15,000.


The Other Side of Maoism

Dilip Simeon
November 09, 2009

There are crimes of passion and crimes of logic.
Albert Camus Spokesmen of Maoist extremism have recently expressed regret for beheading a police officer and explained their actions as a defence of the oppressed. Their comrades’ brutality, they say, is an aberration. They cite
instances of state violence to justify actions they claim are undertaken in self-defence. There is more to this than meets the eye. Maoist theory holds that India is a semi-colonial polity with a bogus constitution that must be overthrown by armed force. The comrades view all their actions as part of a revolutionary war. Their foundational documents declare armed struggle to be “the highest and main form of struggle” and the “people’s army” its main organisation. In war, morality is suspended and limits cast aside. War also results in something the Pentagon calls “collateral damage”. Is it true that Naxalite brutality is only an aberration?


The Agony of Palestine

by Dilip Simeon,

Hardnews Burea, February 2009

Historian Dilip Simeon in Delhi explores the history of the Holocaust of Jews by the Nazis, the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the origin of the bloody conflict and the Gaza carnage. Is peace, justice and reconciliation possible?

Israel's Operation Cast Lead in Gaza has ended (coincidentally?) just before President Barack Obama's inauguration.  It has cost 1,300 Palestinian lives, half of them children and women. Over 5,500 have been wounded. Thirteen Israeli soldiers and civilians have been killed. Clinics, schools, cemeteries and UN buildings stocked with humanitarian supplies have been decimated.



Review of‭ ‬The Terrorist in Search of Humanity:‭ ‬Militant Islam and Global Politics by Faisal Devji‭; ‬Foundation Books‭; ‬New Delhi,‭ ‬2008‭; ‬ISBN‭ ‬:‭ ‬978-1-85065-925-9‭ ; ‬978-1-85065-946-4

Published in Biblio,‭ ‬Jan-Feb‭ ‬2009
Dilip Simeon

This essay in the history of ideas traces the trajectory of Islamic militancy and its implications for modern politics,‭ ‬including the so-called global war on terror,‭ ‬nicknamed GWOT by the author.‭ ‬Written from a South Asian perspective,‭ ‬it is a healthy antidote to the instrumentalist discourse that addresses the issue from the standpoint of Western security.‭ ‬It is also a critique of modernity and the self-deceptions of the international order:‭ “‬liberalism has no presence outside the nation-state,‭ ‬which is why the international order these states operate in has never been liberal‭”‬.‭ ‬Devji alerts us to the arrival of a globalised and mediatised phenomenon that may not be explained away.‭ ‬He notes that networks have infiltrated hierarchies as the form of political activity,‭ ‬and that bin Laden and his followers have dispensed not only with parties,‭ ‬but also with armies and battlefields.‭ ‬They have even ceased to pose a military challenge.‭ ‬And yet‭ “‬the United States can no longer wage war,‭ ‬it can only mount enormously costly and destructive spectacles of deterrence or revenge‭”‬.‭ ‬The upshot is that war has been de-militarised and made‭  ‬a police operation,‭ ‬civil and military law have begun to overlap,‭ ‬categories of prisoners have been reduced to the status of slaves and Western political institutions severely compromised.‭



by Dilip Simeon

Himal Southasia

The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world - Hannah Arendt

The words ‘terror’ (meaning intense fear and dread), and ‘terrorism’ (the systematic employment of violence and intimidation to coerce a government or community into acceding to specific political demands) are steeped in controversy. From the time of the French Revolution, ‘terrorism’ has been used to describe a range of violent political activism, including certain forms of Russian populism; Italian, Serbian and Irish nationalism; anarchism; and the actions of the Ku Klux Klan. Nowadays, ‘terror’ is what the ‘civilised world’, led by the United States, is combating. It is identified with Islamist fundamentalism, the Taliban, suicide bombers, Palestinian resistance and Maoist revolutionaries. Even though terrorism is quite clearly a form of political violence, mainstream journalism today does not associate it with aerial bombardment (although Hitler’s use of the Luftwaffe against the Spanish town of Guernica in 1936 was considered an act of terror); armed actions by the American and Israeli defence and special forces against their real or perceived enemies, kidnapping, collective punishments, and encounter killings by the apparatus of various Southasian states. In India ‘terrorism’ is also not generally used to describe the activities of the Bajrang Dal, VHP, RSS, the Ranvir Sena or the Shiv Sena, even though some of their activities would qualify them as terrorists within the dictionary meaning of the word. Yes, the usage of ‘terror’ is heavily politicised.


No quick fixes, please

Hindustan Times, April 28, 2008
by Dilip Simeon

The Supreme Court’s March 31 observations regarding the armed group — Salwa Judum — affect not only Chhattisgarh, where this group operates, but pose questions to major actors across the political spectrum. Admitting two public interest petitions on the matter, Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan asked the respondent, “How can the State give arms to some persons? The State will be abetting in a crime if these private persons kill others.” This observation contains a profound and much-evaded truth about our polity. It also has ramifications for a long-due process of reform in India’s fast-eroding criminal justice system. If Chhattisgarh persists with a strategy that the court has prima facie perceived to be illegal, it will only be following several nasty precedents that point towards the criminalisation of the State.


Corruption and patronage mars NREGS implementation in Biharrk NREGS implementation in Bihar

Feb, 2008

By Juhi Tyagi

A survey of the NREGA by AMAN Trust in Jehanabad and Arwal districts of Bihar reveals that 50% of eligible households do not have access to the benefits of the scheme. Awareness of the scheme is low, only 16.5% of the beneficiaries are women, and caste/class hierarchies dominate

Bihar has one of the lowest literacy rates in the country -- 47.53%, 12% less than the national average. According to the World Bank (1999), child malnutrition stands at a high 54.4%, almost 8% more than the national average. Bihar also has the lowest per capita income in India.

The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) has caught the imagination of many in Bihar. It enables the poor to at least negotiate basic survival. When the Government of Bihar (Rural Development Department) states it has created a commendable 50 million person-days of work in the 23 districts, by our calculation this amounts to labour being richer by Rs 448 crore. This figure is calculated on the basis of the earlier stipulated minimum wage of Rs 75 in Bihar. The present minimum wage is Rs 81.


THAT TIME OF THE GUN - After Nandigram, the political debate should focus on violence

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

by Dilip Simeon

The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world — Hannah Arendt

After Nandigram, the most important concern in political debate ought to be the issue of violence — legitimate, illegitimate, formal and informal. I doubt whether this debate will take place, because the ground shared by enemies is embarrassing for everyone and, by mutual consent, remains unspeakable. Still, certain disquieting facts stare us in the face. Avoiding their implications will take us yet again to the zone where we focus on “who started it” — an infinite sequential regression that explains nothing and satisfies no one.


LEADER ARTICLE: Hide Your Love Away

Rajashri Dasgupta, Oct 4, 2007

Rizwanur Rehman's charming smile refuses to fade from people's memory. After his body was found on September 21 on train tracks in the heart of Kolkata, there have been numerous candlelight vigils, angry protests and demonstrations demanding the truth about his death.

While his family suspects that Rizwanur was murdered, the police commissioner shrugged away his death as a "simple case of suicide" even before the post-mortem was complete.

Whatever the truth, Rizwanur's tragic death, the trauma of his wife Priyanka and brutal interference by the police reflects the daily struggle of lovers who defy tradition and resist authority to marry persons of their choice.



Behind the rash of accidents involving Blueline buses in New Delhi is a strained informal economy of meagre wages and rampant corruption, says Rukmini Barua

The recent public uproar against Delhi’s Blueline buses over a rash of accidents and the sub-standard condition of the buses has forced the Delhi government to take action against the errant operators. Many buses have been penalised and taken off the road. The Delhi government has suggested several schemes to replace the buses, which include giving contracts to big corporations or introducing a fare system based on kilometres travelled. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit suggested establishing cooperatives, but did not clarify whether they will be cooperatives of Blueline drivers and conductors, or of the bus operators and owners.


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