June 20, 2005

Out of sight

I called it "Anonymous on the maidan", but Mid-Day chose to call it Out of sight, out of mind: my Monday column for them, and you don't have to tell me which title you prefer.


Dilip D'Souza said...


What is the idea of democracy that I'm getting at? That everyone should have a voice. To me, shunting the protesters into Azad Maidan effectively stunts that voice. That's it.

Let's say I told you, you have a problem with the way your government runs, that's fine. Shout as much as you want about it, but you have to stay in your flat and do it. After all, anyone who wants to listen can come to your flat and listen, can't they?

Would this amount to stunting your voice? To me it seems so.

Now to me the force seems to be in keeping you in your flat -- or the protesters to one corner of Azad Maidan (after all, they aren't going to that corner voluntarily) -- but hey, that's apparently freedom. Leftist dimwits clearly can't see it.

Neela, does that make it clearer?

I'm all for the study of attitudes and behaviour. Problem is, in the meantime there are thousands of people living on the rubble of their homes and the monsoon is upon us.

Anonymous said...


A quick question - if you disagree with everything that Dilip writes, why do you religiously read his blog?

Also, please post more often. I like reading your logic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dilip/Uma,

What do you suggest that needs to be done to make their voices "heard"? Even if the government allows the demonstrations to be held in the whole of Azad Maidan, it doesn't change what you are saying. What more is needed?


Dilip D'Souza said...

Eswaran (and Sriram, for that matter): who has heard and paid attention to the Maharashtra Electropathy Doctor's Association? As far as I can tell, I'm the only journalist who has written anywhere that they are on dharna in Azad Maidan, and I didn't even stop to ask them what their demands were. The governments like this: nobody pays attention to these guys, so they need not either. That is the whole purpose of pushing these people into Azad Maidan: that nobody will listen to their protest.

After all, if governments were so concerned about inconveniencing the public, they might just have also done away with convoys of cars and police jeeps for VIPs that snarl traffic and inconvenience thousands of people.

Of course the slum dwellers look for other ways to make themselves heard, evidence for that being this very discussion itself.

But I believe it is wrong for a government to decide that protests must be confined to one small corner of a city.

Sriram, since you bring up rasta rokos again, let me pose to you again the question you evaded answering here. This is the question: why did the police assault one crowd that staged a rasta roko and inconvenienced thousands, but not the other crowd that staged a rasta roko and inconvenienced thousands? I look forward to your answer.

Dilip D'Souza said...


Why do you take it as a sharp slap in the first place? I meant it: We must study attitudes, and it should happen, preferably, right away. I also meant, there's an urgency about finding a solution to the housing problems of these people right away too.

But as for solutions: what makes you think that because I write about the problems, I'm any more qualified (time-wise, knowledge-wise, anything-wise) to offer solutions? What makes you think I would dismiss what you, or anyone, says as "Yet another clueless upper-middle class armchair sympathiser sitting in her warm home and making herself feel better by doing nothing while professing loving thoughts", or "morally bankrupt"?

I take what you say seriously, and try to react in that spirit.

But anyway: solutions. Things We Can Do. What are they?

First, don't demolish slums. I believe this is the surest way to spread poverty we have yet come up with.

Second, get rid of the Rent Control Act; the surest suppressor of affordable rental housing in this city.

Third, open up government-owned vacant land and give it to slumdwellers to live on; provide essential services like water/sewage.

Fourth, remove the oppressive licensing mechanisms that exist only to harrass the poor and keep them in a permanent shadow of supposed "illegality".

Things in that vein.

It's late here, I'll attempt replies to your other questions tomorrow.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Neela, some more answers.

There are plenty of organizations working with slum dwellers. The NAPM is one, SPARC is another, Akanksha is a third (as you know), smaller and more local groups ... some need money, some need volunteers. My suggestion would be to get in touch with them and ask how you can contribute.

Letter writing has been effective in the past. Earlier this year people wrote letters to the CM protesting the demolition of slums. It went on nevertheless, not least because there was apparently more vocal support for demolishing them.

Outside Bom, and in the US, try getting in touch with your local chapter of AID (www.aidindia.org). They will have some ideas. An impressive organization all around.

I am not in the habit of deriding anyone for being "clueless" and "armchair sympathizers." Nor am I particularly qualified to find solutions, really.

Anonymous said...

AID..is it the guys listed in here?

Anonymous said...

Neela, welcome to AID - the organization that marches in San Francisco with the Pakistan-American Alliance, waving banners saying: "Death to America! Allah Will
Destroy Terrorist India!"

Actually, the banners ended up saying: "Dath to AriMdecca!" and "Allah Will Destory Terrist India!"

We need peepal like you - you can spell. As long you don't spoil that by starting bad habits like THINKING, you will be most welcome in AID. However if you stard such bad habits, you vill be PURGED like we did to all the DYFI links on our website.

Look at Dilip here - perfect example. Rich parents, paid for education even at Arimeccan universitty, claims to have got Degree in Master-something, though there is some doubt about what that something is. Yet, he is so nice. Accompanied AID-DYFI-SFI and the CPI(Maoist) Sakhavs (comrades) all over Eastern India, yet kept writing that they are completely non-political. Perfect. Being like Dilip is sooo much easier than thinking.

So please email AID and become volunteer now. Contact us at AID-INDIA@ummah.com

Allha ho Abkar!