The best way to know the self is feeling oneself at the moments of reckoning. The feeling of being alone, just with your senses, may lead you to think more consciously. More and more of such moments may sensitize ‘you towards you’, towards others. We become regular with introspection and retrospection. We get ‘the’ gradual connect to the higher self we may name Spirituality or God or just a Humane Conscious. We tend to get a rhythm again in life. We need to learn the art of being lonely in crowd while being part of the crowd. A multitude of loneliness in mosaic of relations! One needs to feel it severally, with conscience, before making it a way of life. One needs to live several such lonely moments. One needs to live severallyalone.

Wednesday 30 November 2011


A harassed person dumped three sacks full of snakes in an office that had been scene of his continued victimization - I read this news first from international sources – the Associated Press, BCC, the Guardian, to name some. And it made a good national news item on the daily planning agenda. Refreshing stuff – recent revival of Gandhian ways to protest in this country has gained seekers – the victimized lot that we the common Indians – and surprised and observing lot of the global audience.

So it pulled the international airwaves to a village - and villagers enjoyed it when the ‘Time’ team arrived for Anna Hazare’s photo-shoot. News doing the round is Anna will adore the ‘Time’ cover. ‘Foreign Policy’ named him among 100 thinkers of 2011. Indeed a good exposure even if we consider the recent controversies associated with Team Anna. Put aside the recent controversies and we can safely say he has shown the vitality of Gandhigiri and viability of protesting for Just demands.

And this incident that came to light today says how desperate to react the harassed-frustrated lot has become. In this incident, a person Hakkul, who captures and conserves snakes, was at the receiving end. He had written to the President of India for land allotment to carry on his conservation work. The state government acted on it and directed the local administration of the district Basti to allot him land. But like Delhi, this district Basti, too, falls in India where, though corruption is the most debated issue with another round of Lokpal confrontation looming large, corruption has become so ingrained that most of us accept it as a way of life. Hakkul alleges he was being harassed by the officials of the revenue department for bribe –he would pay else they would have him having endless rounds of the office.

Can you correlate with Hakkul?
Sure, most of us have faced such incidents in our lives. Whether we end up paying the so-called ‘convenience fee’ or take a protest route is what we need to ponder on at this hour when we, as the collective force of the common man, are at the cross roads.

It is irrelevant whether Hakkul had nothing to pay the bribe or he took a moral stand. What matters is he protested. Okay some might say it could have been dangerous as some snakes were poisonous. Let’s not get into that debate here. Let’s give Hakkul benefit of doubt (he might have chosen harmless snakes). No one was injured or bitten so words can go like 'his act was harmless and his experiment with Gandhigiri was genuine' - also no case has been registered against him and the Sub-divisional Magistrate of the district has assured on camera that his land would be allotted soon. (Though the Associated Press report says it was by two farmers and the police is on the lookout for them.) The write-up here quotes a mainstream Indian source so we can go with that.

He might not be aware of the Gandhian methods or principles. It might have been an act of frustration done in impulse; it might have been inspired by the movie ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’ or many anti-corruption advertisements that followed the suit, but for the moment it seems to work.

Great na. J (Though dumping snakes in a public place cannot be accepted.)

Would it generate more such innovative ways to protest in the Gandhian style?
We should have no problems if it becomes shoe-gate of 2008 when George Bush was attacked setting a trend or should we have?
Should we or would we be worried of this setting a trend (assume harassed dairy owners let loose their herd of cows in the premises of the bribe seeking officials!)?

What do you say on this Gandhigiri with a difference? J

Another impulsive experiment to find solution to his problem by a frustrated, harassed common man, an Indian, who has now this to say - ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Tuesday 29 November 2011


Prepared, yes, as it was allowed to be! Team Anna allowed the government to take this daring step after many of its key members got themselves involved in unnecessary controversies. And this autocratic government is again going to take a shamelessly audacious attempt to deny the basic rights to grievance redressal that we, the common Indians, need so desperately.

Yes, an audacious attempt exceeding every norm of accepted values of grace and honesty – final draft of the Lokpal Bill by the Parliamentary Standing Committee headed by ‘seasoned’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi tells us about a ‘near consensus’ like situation  while keeping all the major demands untouched - deceiving the ethos deeply –once again – a government that was brought to its knees by the collective power of ‘us’ on August 28, has once again, tried to manipulate things by keeping all the major demands that will make Lokpal a strong institution; demands that were bone of contention creating the huge and unprecedented support to the Jan Lokpal Movement. See this:

  • PM has not been included.
  • Conduct of MPs inside the House is out of its purview (expect more cash-for-votes).
  • Judges will be under a separate Judicial Accountability Bill and not under Lokpal.
  • Lower Bureaucracy has not been included.
  • CBI has been kept out of it.

And so Anna Hazare is miffed. He says he is feeling betrayed, again. He has announced a day-long Fast on December 11 at Jantar Mantar and it will be followed by an indefinite Fast from December 27 at the Ramleela Ground if a strong Lokpal Bill is not passed in the Winter Session of the Parliament.

We are miffed, too.

But will it be so effective this time?

The question becomes all the more necessary when we realize that allegations on Team Anna members this time seem reasonable. And their outright denial and senseless defiance worked to dent the gains.

We need to see; we need to know; we need to follow the Symbolism of the strength of our character again if the promises are not delivered.

Will this Symbolism find its way through the Anna Symbolism again?

Monday 28 November 2011


Continued from:


Jhunu’s condition is yet another blot on the face of humanity when we come to know the plight of Alka Tiwari of Kanpur (  Suffering from Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria since she was 12, bone marrow transplantation costing around Rs 25 Lakh (up from the last estimate of Rs 12-20 Lakh) at CMC Vellore is her only hope. Like Jhunu’s family, Alka’s family, too, is living in abject poverty and cannot afford the treatment. They have already sold their house and other properties to meet the ever-increasing treatment cost of Alka in last nine years.

Like Jhunu’s family, they appealed to the high offices like the Prime Minister office or the Chief Minister office but didn’t get help. The resulting frustration led Alka's family to file court plea to order the government to make arrangements for her treatment or else she be granted Euthanasia. That was October 1. Doctors have given her very less time and the need for transplantation is urgent. This is November 28 and she is still waiting in Vellore for the funds that the central government says has already been deposited in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, account.

What happened with Alka is inhuman and beyond any perceivable cruelty. Her court plea to Euthanasia made headlines and some silly politicians saw an opportunity to gain some (cheap) publicity. One Rajya Sabha MP from BSP called Alka her sister and announced to donate Rs 20 Lakh for her treatment. That was October 3. A fake assurance and a silly politician! Nothing came. Why this breed is so insensitive?

Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, too, came forward to offer her help. But the uncommon common sense was lacking. When it was so abundantly clear that CMC Vellore was the only place for her bone marrow transplantation, she was admitted in AIIMS where the Health Department transferred the required sum (Rs 20 Lakh). And AIIMS is another hell for poor and resourceless patients with most of the doctors behaving insensitively and they maintained their track-record with Alka’s case. After taking her in and wasting 15 precious days of her life when every passing day counts for her, AIIMS doctors said she had to leave AIIMS as her treatment would be done at CMC Vellore and that they would transfer the amount to CMC. That was October 26. Alka left Kanpur for Vellore on October 28 and since then she has been in Vellore waiting for some generosity from AIIMS so that her fund could be transferred. Bunch of inhuman traders – what else can we say of AIIMS after this!

Another aspect of Alka’s case is the lingering court process. We all know the pace of judicial process in India owing to the huge backlog yet cases like Alka need special provision. It becomes all the more relevant in the light of the fact that Alka had directly approached a court with her treatment cost or Euthanasia plea mentioning she had very few days left if the transplantation was not done. The court has not reached on any decision yet and I could not locate any report if any decision was taken by the Kanpur court on November 26 hearing on Alka’s plea to direct AIIMS to transfer the amount in CMC Vellore account.


Jhunu and Alka – two names that tell us where are we heading?
Why can’t we be sensitive, at least in cases where human life is at stake and where every moment counts?
Agreed corruption has become a way of life and it would take us time to weed it out but have we become absolutely inhuman?

Delay in positive action by the government and the civil society in cases like Jhunu and Alka tells only this when their months old pleas to even the highest office of the country remain unheard; pleas to their right to live; pleas to their right to have health care in a country that proudly quotes social orientation of its administration and mixed economy.

That is just the lip service that this political class practices shamelessly. Health care is in shambles in India. A UNICEF report says one in every three malnourished children in the world lives in India. In a country where 64.9 percent of community health centers report lacking specialists while 68.6 percent of PHCs function with only one or no qualified doctor, we can easily find thousands of cases like Jhunu and Alka – cases that need specially trained medical aid – cases that cannot afford the cost of the treatment. There should have been a war scale effort to correct the wrongs. The only positive thing has been some of them have started speaking out like what Alka and Jhunu decided – going to the courts or writing to the higher offices. They got some attention but, as of yet, nothing concrete has come out.

These two cases may well be the test cases for the civil society to open a window of legitimate demands in the largely neglected area of health care rights concerning the specialized health care needs of the economically weaker sections of the society.

Shouldn’t we expect some landmark court ruling in Alka’s case to set a precedent?

Jhunu and Alka – the two names that remind us to repeat these lines again – Blood is still red. Such incidents should boil the blood to create instant ripples of reaction! Why do we see such shockers as mere bystanders? For how long would we remain mute spectators?”

Sunday 27 November 2011


Jhunu Behera is 38-year old bed-ridden heart patient in Odisha’s Ganjam district. She made headlines after it emerged she has written to the President of India as well as the Odisha Governor to allow her Euthanasia. Both of the offices acknowledge the receipt of the letters but yet to reply though the letters sent on October 28 as informed by her relatives.

Typical style of Indian Bureaucratic functioning! 

Jhunu has been bed-ridden for quite sometime due to her heart ailment that requires valve replacement. It costs around Rs 5 Lakh. The family of six dependent on daily wage earning husband is not in the condition to afford it. They have already mortgaged their house. Eldest son, 15, dropped out of high school to work as daily labourer to meet the expenses. Other three children are being looked after by a relative. The family wrote an application to the Chief Minister for help under the CM Relief Fund but found their application went missing in the transit!

Urgency of Jhunu’s medical condition has been diagnosed and certified by government and private hospitals in Berhampur, Bangalore and Bhubaneswar yet no one is coming ahead to extend help.

It’s a crude fact that almost of the middle class families of India without any insurance over would not be able to afford the treatment cost of Rs 5 Lakh in one go, that is the case here with Jhunu Behera. Governments announce health insurance cover to the weaker sections of the society but such help seldom reaches the needy. Hailing from the economically weakest section of the Indian social weaving, she retells the sad story of the plight of the common man who is also an Indian the rich ones. Jhunu’s case has echoes of the plight of Kanpur’s Alka Tiwari, a 21-year old struggling to save her life. They cannot afford treatment worth few Lakhs. 

Welcome to the IndiaIndia of socialist and egalitarian principles.

Jhunu’s primary enemy is not her ailment. Treatment is easily available for it. Her main enemy like in case of Alka is the poverty that is making this medically easily available treatment an impossible event of her life. She reminds us of the curse poverty is. She reminds us how cruel ‘humanity’ could be as we are witnessing in the case of Alka Tiwari.

Saturday 26 November 2011


Chaos and Faith are so intertwined in our lives that occasionally they transcend all the subtleties to take us to the realm of crude questions and innocent realities. 

The existentialist relevance of the very existence here!

We are born. We grow up. We decay. We depart. The unidirectional flow that life has adopted has dominating role of Chaos. The elements so ingrained are probably the most dynamic constituent that represent the faculty of reminding beacons – the need for us to know us; to take us from ignorance to knowledge; to make the known larger an entity; to bring as much order to our that existence of ‘I’ and ‘us’ as we can; to validate the Faith that sustains us. We arrive with Chaos, totally absent minded of everything. We start growing; realizing what belong to us; realizing what is ‘us’. Subconsciously, consciously, spontaneously, compulsively, we bring Order to outdo the Disorder. Faith gains dominance over skepticism. 

Life has a flow. 

But the Disorder never goes. The Chaos remains there. It manifests vitally in the final moments to tell us where we faltered; what we couldn’t do to bring the harmony of the Chaos in sync with the tune of the Order. At moments it leads us to question our Faith. 

Chaos turns us to the Faith. It turns us away from the Faith. 

Faith has different dimensions in our lives. It manifests in varying forms infiltrating us in varying degrees. Though we may develop spiritual, religious, ritualistic, atheistic, monotheistic, ignorant and every other conceivable dimension of individualism, we sustain and continue the tradition of Faith and Chaos is its driver. 

As a normal human being, we turn to the Supreme, be it a tragedy, to seek his protection or to complain; be it a celebration, to convey our thanks; be it our day to day lives, to pray to sustain our lives in a proper order. The Faith scrolls on. Some of us who don’t believe in the institution of the Supreme, have varying degrees of Faith in their own capabilities given the prevailing circumstances in their lives. 

Faith is the God. Faith is the Supreme. Faith is the realization of the Self. 

And Chaos is its alter-ego. 

Life is the sum total of the cumulative outcome of equations of ‘Poise-gained’, Poise-lost’ and Poise-sustained’. 

Chaos alters the Poise. It brings about modifications and changes in our day to day lives. It may have both aspects – supporting and disturbing. Consequences vary from transforming effects to the ruffling of a few moments. It disturbs the Faith that we have in life and its driving forces. It leads us to scrutinize. We start scrutinizing us. We tend to scrutinize everyone else in our social sphere. Chaos magnifies. The process takes its course. What we find in the 'intermittent end', we go through the event or the eventuality and accept the outcome. In some cases, some of us revolt to change the change. The disturbance recedes. The Poise alters the Chaos. 

During some of these moments, the magnifying Chaos may lead us to the moment when our helplessness takes us to the purest of us, when we criticize us first; when we can see our faults honestly; when we can see the fault lines in our living sphere involving people and relations that form the congregation of ‘us’. We put the sharpest and straight forward questions to us first. During some of these moments, we get platonic with our senses; we may get back the largely missing innocence. We come to see the reality as it is and not as we had started perceiving it. These moments of introspection may lead us to the nearly perfect Order in our lives if we are able to sustain it. 

But something happens most of the time that pulls us to the reality that we were living in, where we tend to justify us for every deed of us. The nearly perfect Order tilts more towards the Chaos on the horizon. Again we find us engaged in the equations of the Poise – the Poise of the Chaos and the Order.

In-between, we find some finer moments to capitalize on.  Sometimes, not knowing is bliss. Sometimes, knowing much is bliss. Sometimes, being on the line is the in-thing. Sometimes, being an idiot is a joyful complement. Sometimes, being a conscious Soul is a satisfying moment. Moments we live in. Moments we live for. Moments that make life a Whole. 


Repost: November 1, 2009

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Wednesday 23 November 2011



They have their names. Some of them don’t know who named them. Some of them even don’t remember names of their parents. Some of them have seen brutal killing of their parents and family. Some of them have sisters staying at shelter homes for girls but they have not been able to speak to them for years or months. The upper age limit of this group of eight is 15 while the youngest one is just 6.

Seven of them were in juvenile home of the district Ghazipur of Uttar Pradesh. They were there even though such juvenile homes are meant for minors indulged in criminal activities. Some of them were left there by the police while others were sent by the relatives after their parents were no more. In the course of the time, by a good chance event, the juvenile home saw a good-hearted probationary officer who realized plight of these children and took the initiative to transfer them to some appropriate place. He succeeded when he got positive response from one of the residential schools meant for below-the-poverty-line population. An initiative of the UP government, some +2 level schools have been established with provision of free fooding, lodging and education to the students from the economically weaker sections of the society. Such schools are called ‘Rajakiya Ashram Paddhati School’ (Government Ashram Training School). Ironically, these schools are under direct control of the Social Welfare Department of the UP government, a notoriously corrupt wing. So again it comes to the personal merits and demerits when we go to assess the performance of such schools on a humane scale. Luckily, this Varanasi centre got a good-heart fellow like the Ghazipur juvenile home. He happily agreed to take them in.

Now transferred, they know they have to study hard to get somewhere in life. They know it is their chance. They may be lacking in motivation now but will develop it if they continue to get patronage of a good heart, something we need to pray for and if needed, get actively involved for in the process. While talking to them, their tears bring tears to you but how they handle it to bring that smile back to their faces is worth thousands of talismans that we all need to learn and emulate.

Watch-out this space for more on their stories. 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

LIFE - COLORES INFINITUM: A column on my blog to share real time stories of real characters – stories that colour life – give it a meaning – give it a thought – without making any visible attempt – without seeking any reason – without seeking any change – they are here to tell the tale – after all, WE ALL ARE STORIES WAITING TO BE TOLD – and we may be our very own special audience. J

Tuesday 22 November 2011

..के रात अब लम्बी हो चली है

आँख फिर नम हो आयी आज 
पहली बार नहीं था ये पर इस बार
ना जाने दिल को क्या हुआ
जो इसने खुद ही कहा के तोड़ दूँ
हर वो बंधन जो कहती है रुक जा
दिल ने कहा तुम्हें पुकार लूँ 
मेरी आवाज़ पर खुद से ही पूछने लगती है  
के तुम तो मेरे शब्दों का दर्द भी,
चुपचाप देख लेते हो 
आँखों में फिर नमी है आज 
दिल ढूंढता है फिर तुम्हारा साया 
कोई बात न मानूं बहता जाऊं  
किनारे की परवाह नहीं गर तुम हो वहीँ 
क्यूँ चुप हो, आवाज़ क्यूँ नहीं देते तुम 
तुम्हें पुकारता है ये दिल आज भी 
आँखों की ये नमी मेरी मुझसे यही बयाँ करती है 
आ जाओ के रात अब लम्बी हो चली है 

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Monday 21 November 2011


Highways seem to be the in-thing of the season - be on and on! Some randomly snapped moments:

Momos' South Indian origin - heard of it??

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Sunday 20 November 2011


The temple of Mata Vaishno Devi in Dala (District Sonbhadra) – an attempt has been made here to construct surroundings like the original Mata Vaishno Devi Cave Shrine atop the Trikuta Hills in Jammu. One can pass through the cave resembling the original one supported well by artificial plantation. It is on Varanasi-Renukoot route, 30 Kms from Robertsganj.

On Wikimapia:

Saturday 19 November 2011


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

This cellphone photograph captured on an evening in the company of Ganga shows innovative resilience of life. Stationed on a stone platform at the ghat-steps of the Assi Ghat, this make-shift house made after modifications in a small boat symbolizes what Ganga stands for – the eternal flow – that continuity – to make a path of its own. 

Friday 18 November 2011


It was an accidental discovery of apathy by the stakeholders extended actively to the legacy of historicity.
While on Varanasi visit, en-route to the city from Mughalsarai, I had to take a detour from the normal connecting route via Rajghat Ganga Bridge after I found I could be trapped for hours in the choked mass of the vehicles if I went ahead. The alternative was taking the Ramnagar Bypass route circuiting Banaras Hindu University and Diesel Locomotive Works. Thought of the pontoon bridge at Ramnagar came to my mind given the reduced Ganga water level now. Another element working behind trying this option was enjoying the world famous Lassi of the Ramnagar Lassi vendor. This shop is at the corner of the approach road to the Ganga pontoon bridge at Ramnagar.
But taking a look at the Ramnagar Fort was not yet in my mind as it was a packed day and I had some other works to finish. To my dismay, on reaching I found the shop closed. Yes, I found the pontoon bridge already in its place there. But on the approach road I was informed that only two-wheelers were allowed as the assembling work was not complete yet. While coming back to take the NH-19, I thought I needed a refreshing tea. A local referred to a particular tea shop.
This particular tea shop was in front the main entry gate of the Ramnagar Fort. I ordered special tea and while waiting saw two cannons in dilapidated condition at the main door. A cursive look on the outer walls (cemented!) prompted me to see more of it.
Visiting Ramnagar Fort was in later part of my itinerary of this Varanasi trip. I had to assess its viability as venue for a future event. But the pathetic outdoor foreground pushed me to find some more time to look what the indoor midground had to offer.
The first impression while standing in front of the main door and looking on the surroundings was discouraging. Sleeping policemen on either side of the big wooden door of the Fort only added to the bad taste. Once inside, one can see how a historical place can easily lose it’s connect with the history. What I found is a sad story.
Bricks and mortars – this architecture is the first and foremost signature of the historicity of any Fort – something that is losing sheen here. Cemented walls, bushes and grass columns here and there, poorly kept gardens, pathetic pavements, uncultured policemen thronging the place – Ramnagar Fort is an apt example of the horrible mismanagement of a historical legacy.

Main entrace of the Ramnagar Fort - ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey

Unwelcoming cannons at the gate of the Ramnagar Fort - ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey

The police party right at the main door - - ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey

Inside the Fort - - ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey
Inside the Fort - - ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey

Inside the Fort - - ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey

Outer walls tell the story - - ©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey -

Thursday 17 November 2011


A day after Valsa John’s murder, the local police investigating the case ruled out involvement of Naxals or mining mafia in the case. Police officials suspect hand of some alienated tribals behind it who were of the opinion that their interests were sold to the companies behind the Panem coalmine project with the 2006 Agreement.

But links to her brutal killing may well go back to the days of ‘Raj Mahal Pahar Bachao Andolan’ (RMPBA). It all began when she suspected something foul during a land survey in the village Pachwara. The survey team could not satisfy her queries and that made her to go out for more information. Later she found out a total of 1151.70 acres of land was to be acquired to dig out a captive coal mine for Punjab Electricity Board. More than half of this (674.2 acres) was agricultural land – an alarming situation as agriculture being the mainstay of the life. A large scale displacement of many families was to follow with no clear terms of compensation defined. She educated and sensitized the tribals of the area for their rights and was able to build a movement from the scratch that ultimately followed the next step of the Movement – the December 2006 Agreement between the Andolam and Panem on terms as demanded by the RMPBA.

The battle saw many ups and downs. Administration and the Panem handlers (JV of a state government outfit and a private company) tried every trick in the book to weaken the Movement. They offered the village youth with lucrative offers with the sole intent to disrupt the protests. It divided the tribals into pro- and anti- Panem factions. But the basics of the Movement were strong and the pro-Panem faction couldn’t achieve much. Further came the arm-twisting of the administration to exploit the legal machinery. Multiple cases were imposed on key persons of the Movement including seven cases on Valsa John. Valsa and many others had to leave the village for forest for more than a month. But the Movement remained intact and gained attention from every quarters, media, politicians, locals and activists. There were active consultations with and involvement of organizations like Bharat Jan Andolan, Mine, Minerals and People (MMP), Jharkhand for Justice and people like Xavier Dias and Stan Lourdusamy.

Persistence of the Movement finally brought the Panem management on the discussion board resulting it in the December 2006 Agreement. Largely, the outcome created positive atmosphere but left some segments with grudge:

  • The pro-Panem segment during the agitation phase who later on blamed the Movement
  • Local mining mafia of the region who saw their operation gone with an organized government based outfit taking the charge
  • A segment of the tribal population who alleged Valsa to selling off to the company
  • Or the Naxals who are getting increasingly intolerant and extortionist in their activities and try to scuttle every conscious voice in their area of influence.  
Any of these groups might be behind brutal killing of Valsa John. The way she was killed (around 50 circled the house she was staying at; half of them entered and hacked her to death) tells it might be some alienated group of tribals either having a grudge or instigated by the local mining mafia or even the bunch on Naxals (they have carried out executions in this way in the past). Every Movement driven by the force of the common man needs answer here and that has to be soon, very soon.

Wednesday 16 November 2011


  • She made headlines like ‘why Pakur is not Nandigram’ way back in 2007 when the court had lambasted the police on her arrest for leading the 'Rajmahal Pahar Bachao Andolan' since 1995 with December 2006 successful compromise reached on compensation to be given to the 510 displaced families.
  • She extended her fight to ensure that these promises were met.
  • She was credited to bring hundreds of crores of revenue to this non-descript district of Jharkhand.
And yet she was brutally killed last night in the village – Pachwara – that she made her home during the years of fighting for the tribals to get justified compensation. Valsa John was beaten with sticks and then axed to death. No one knows why she was killed and what message the killers wanted to convey by hacking her so brutally.

Valsa John (Photo Courtesy: Indian Express)
But a conscious soul is gone and she is yet another addition to the list of great fighters like S Manjunath, Satyendra Dubey, Shehla Masood. Valsa, 52, was a nun from Ernakulum. She was introduced to the problem of the villagers’ displacement during her stint with the Fatima Mission Girls’ School. She organized the local tribals of the area and led a successful agitation against the Panem coal mines project. The settlement reached at in December 2006 promised practical gains to the tribals. An Indian Express report lists them as:

  • The cost of the land acquired at the current market rate
  • A job
  • A school, education for students of the displaced families free of cost
  • A hospital to provide them free treatment
  • Rs 6,000 per acre per annum to compensate for the loss of agriculture income
  • Rs 210 sq m of land for home stead
  • After mining complete, the land to be reclaimed and returned to its rightful owner
It is said she had active support of the then Deputy Chief Minister Stephen Marandi.  “Valsa John gave her consent only after she was convinced that the company had offered the best compensation to the people,” said Stephen Marandi. As a witness to the Movement, Marandi had signed the agreement between the Movement and Panem.

Her killing raises many questions. According to her family members she was receiving threats from coal mining mafia of the area. Apart from investigation into her death, a comprehensive recheck is needed to be carried out to see the progress report of the promises extended to the tribals in the 2006 agreement. She was away from the village for sometime and one needs to know why there were protests when she returned there in the first week of this month.

Monday 14 November 2011



Rahul, Amit, Priyanka and Sumit (names changed) - they leave their make-shift houses for the guest house of the Doon University every evening. They carry their schoolbags with them. They find the place under the street light on the corner of the guest house playground a comfortable place to sit and study. They find their tutors there, welcoming and smiling. Young academic staff of the university, some of them voluntarily began this. They undertook the responsibility to help these children in their school education.

Rahul and Amit are 10; Priyanka is 9 while Sumit is 11. There are others to company these four. Probably they would turn up in a while. They are children of the labourers and masons who have been given temporary houses to stay inside the Doon University premises as infrastructure development work is a long-term assignment for this newly established university, an ambitious project of the Uttarakhand government.

These questions were part of conversation with these four kids. It was so pleasant to talk to them, to be part of their aspirations, to learn from their confidence, to smile on their smile.

Why do you come here to study – is it because of ample light here? (Just to begin the conversation)
No. Even our houses have electricity connection. We love to come here as elders take our classes. They help us solve our homework.

That is good. Which classes are you in?
I, Rahul and Sumit are in 4th standard and Priyanka is in 3rd standard. (Amit says)

Which school you are enrolled in?
They tell the name a government primary school near to the university campus. They also say they hate the mid-day meal that is served there.

But, here people are playing badminton and other games. Doesn’t it distract you?
No. We are here for studies first as the teaching quality in school is vey poor. Once we complete the study and if we are lucky (if it is not too late), we, too, can try our hands on it. (Smiling)

It seems you all love your studies as evident by your commitment. What do you want to be in life?
Rahul, Amit and Priyanka say doctor while Sumit says IAS officer. (This innocent hope has to be preserved.)

Rahul, Amit, Priyanka and Sumit know very well that they cannot afford quality education and so try to grab every such opportunity which helps them in their studies. In such a tender age, when kids need to be spoilt for choices, they understand they do no have options. Their teachers do not teach in schools. They cannot afford private tuition.

They understand the economic condition of their parents and know they have to give them comfortable life ahead. They realize the commitment of their parents when they say they do not go for work like some other children of their age. They feel happy to tell their parents what they studied after they wind up their class under the street light.

And above all they realize they can move to scale up their lives only through proper education. When they talk of their future, they sum up and magnify the courage of every moment that they are building on to have their day and say in life. They might come from the ‘have-nots’ but they tell us the truth of life that most of the ‘haves’ never realize – hope, dream and be honest to give your all to dominate the life.

दिल है  छोटा  साछोटी  सी  आशा 
मस्ती भरे मन  कीभोली सी आशा
चाँद तारों को छूने की आशा 
आसमानों में उड़ने की आशा  

Standing ovation kids J J 

LIFE - COLORES INFINITUM: A column on my blog to share real time stories of real characters – stories that colour life – give it a meaning – give it a thought – without making any visible attempt – without seeking any reason – without seeking any change – they are here to tell the tale – after all, WE ALL ARE STORIES WAITING TO BE TOLD – and we may be our very own special audience. J