When She #ASKSTOPEE

via Video Daddy

Hindi/English (with subtitles). Just 3 minutes

Hi girls,

I once had a teacher who forced all the girls in my class to sit down and pee by the roadside, as it unhealthy to hold it in our bladders. Most of us were shy and found the teacher to be crazy that day. Actually she is a genius.

Eighteen years later, I still get angry when a male-friend zips down and pees next to a transformer or tree, not even asking me for courtesy-sake while I dance around on my toes and refuse to think about anything close to water or peeeee.

Do we need toilets? Do we need the right to pee? Do we need some kind of mutual understanding that all bladders are meant to hold urine and are meant to release it sooner or later?

Holding it in longer and longer, only weakens my bladder and sphincter. With all the tubing systems, and anyway the trickling way they pee, I do think men can quite easily hold it in much longer than women. Anyway, watch the video… and share…. and yes #ASKTOPEE and if no one allows you, anyway do it. Otherwise you are going to lose your favourite pair of undies and pants and some parts of your bladder.

Also related to your right to bleed

sam pc

Sofia Ashraf on The Self

One of the annual stars of Justice Rocks, Sofia Ashraf, tells her brief story of shedding expectations and shackles, and embracing her heart in her brain. Power to her and all of us.

The toughest part about following your heart is the trail of broken ones you leave behind. Standing up to society doesn’t mean picket fences and tear gas. My Tiananmen Square was hearing my grandmother plead, with tears in her eyes, for me to accept Islam again while I refused to give in. My hunger strike was seeing the pride my family had in me slowly drain away. My hemlock was willfully accepting that my mother could never truly accept the person I have become. But I am too brutally honest to lie to myself. I did it for 22 years and I couldn’t do it anymore… …I am not the same girl who left home 4 years ago and yet I am still her. That girl was rebelling against pop culture by wearing her convictions on her sleeve. This girl has a whole new revolution to sustain. That girl couldn’t experiment with her clothes, so she expressed herself through her hair. This girl still loves to take scissors and colours to her hair. I mean, I went bald for heaven’s sake. If haircuts are therapy, that right there is rehab! That girl may not relate to this one nor vice versa. But I think the two can respect each other. They both believed in something.

Read the full story on Homegrown

Can we crowdsource our memories of the city?

Fellowship Opportunity – The Urban History Project

“Neighbourhoods constantly change, and this change is a result of many forces that interact, and often resist each other to create the city that we see today…We hope that through granular narratives of people’s experience of place-making in Chennai, we gain insight into how we can build a more inclusive, and supportive city.”

Let’s start with Chennai…

The Old Mount Road. Source: The Hindu

The families and students of 1965 remember the Buhari’s at Mount Road, not the expensive chain of restaurants today, dipping chicken in chilli powder and frying it in deep boiling oil to create Chicken 65. What is the use of such a memory other than inducing an association or feeling in an individual(s)? Just a year before this Bob Dylan sang on American television sets  The Times They Are a-Changing

The million plans of restoration/beautification try to make Chennai a mega/metro/singara/swachch/industrial/growing city that arrogantly ignores the lives here. You and I are meant to move with the times that are a-changing. You or I might not own a strip of land here or have the status of power to make direct changes, but we do have our memories and our lives. We are introducing you to a new group of people who want to gather these memories and aspirations of our lives in this place and channel it for constructing Supportive Cities.

This fellowship opportunity is for any writer/filmmaker/photographer/historian or anyone who does not mind being unpaid in Chennai, while they set out on a six month journey to collect, collate and curate such memories. They promise bi-weekly training and a hand-held process that will end with a public exhibition at Dakshina Chitra. We think any student looking for internships or some experience should jump at this opportunity.

Register here NOW

sam pc

Update: Investigate Koodankulam Irregularities – Letter from Seventeen Eminent Activists, Scientists and Retd. Government Officials

10 September 2012

Photograph by Amirtharaj Stephen

23 October 2014

We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed at newspaper reports about the serious damage sustained by Koodankulam Unit 1’s turbine even before the plant has begun commercial operation. We are also concerned at the total lack of accountability of the Department of Atomic Energy, NPCIL and AERB with respect to the Koodankulam project, and are worried about the safety ramifications of persisting with the commissioning of Unit 1 without a thorough and independent review of the plant, its components and the processes of setting it up. We are also shocked to see that unmindful of the problems plaguing Units 1 and 2, and the issues arising from lack of transparency in the nuclear establishment, NPCIL and the Government of India are moving ahead with work on Units 3 and 4.

It is now confirmed that Unit 1’s turbine is severely damaged and would require replacement. One Tamil newspaper reports that the turbine may be manufactured in India, and that this may entail a delay of two months. This is yet another instance of prevarication. Replacing a turbine at a nuclear power plant will take a lot longer than two months. As usual, no official clarification has been forthcoming from Nuclear Power Corporation India Ltd or its regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. If the reports about the damaged turbine are true, then it is cause for serious concern. The delay in commissioning is the least of the problems; the damaged turbine spotlights far more fundamental issues that impinge on the long-term viability and safety of the reactor. It vindicates allegations by observers and civil society about the compromised quality control and assurance system in India, and raises troubling and as yet unanswered questions about the substandard quality of equipment purchased from Russia.

The manner in which Koodankulam Units 1 and 2 have been constructed represent everything that is wrong with the Indian nuclear establishment. Equipment for the nuclear reactor and related infrastructure arrived way before they were erected, and had to spend years exposed to corrosive sea-air. Instrumentation and other cables that had to be laid before the construction of the containment dome arrived well after the dome was completed. To “manage” this, Indian engineers demolished portions of the containment dome to insert several kilometers of cabling. This is not only unprecedented in nuclear history, but also extremely worrisome for two reasons – first, it compromises the integrity of the containment dome; second, it highlights the casual and unplanned manner in which an extremely delicate and highly risky facility such as a nuclear reactor is actually being constructed.

Many components and critical equipment were manufactured by corruption-tainted companies that had reportedly used substandard raw material. Where countries like China and Bulgaria, which also received such substandard components, held Russian manufacturers to account and forced them to replace or repair such components, Indian authorities continue to deny that any such problem exists. To make matters worse, the entire exercise is shrouded in unnecessary secrecy with NPCIL and the AERB either remaining mum or communicating with partial truths or outright lies.

For these problems to happen at a nuclear reactor that has been at the focus of massive public attention makes us shudder to think what is being passed off in other less visible nuclear projects. While Indian reactors have had an average lead time of 5 months between attaining criticality and commencing commercial production, Koodankulam’s Unit 1 will take more than two years to meet this milestone if ever it does.

We urge the Prime Minister’s office to commission an enquiry into the irregularities at Koodankulam Units 1 and 2, including an interrogation into how such a shoddy plant managed to secure safety, environmental and quality clearances. Such a move will inspire confidence in the minds of public regarding the intentions of the Government.

Sincerely,
Admiral (Retd) L. Ramdas, former Chief of Staff, Indian Navy, Raigad, Maharashtra
Lalita Ramdas, environment and women’s rights activist, Raigad, Maharashtra
E.A.S. Sarma, I.A.S. (Retd), former Union Secretary of Power, Vishakapatnam
M. G. Devasahayam, I.A.S. (Retd), Chennai
Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements
Aruna Roy, Social Activist, MKSS
Nikhil Dey, Social Activist, MKSS
Dr. Suvrat Raju, Scientist, Bengaluru
Dr. M.V. Ramana, Scientist, Princeton, USA
Dr. K. Babu Rao, Scientist (Retd), Hyderabad
Dr. T. Swaminathan, Professor (Retd), IIT-Madras
Dr. Atul Chokshi, Professor, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru
Praful Bidwai, Columnist, New Delhi
Arati Chokshi, Social Activist, Bengaluru
Achin Vanaik, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, New Delhi
G. Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Chennai
Dr. S.P. Udayakumar, PMANE, Nagercoil
Nityanand Jayaraman, writer and social activist, Chennai
Gabriele Dietrich, NAPM, Madurai

Please copy-paste and circulate this letter.

Update: KKNPP Must Tell the Whole Truth

Driving in Kopachi, the buried village in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone
via Miguel Ortega Lafuente

If you are pro-nuclear for the benefit of progress of your beloved country, your imagination of anti-nuclear ‘activists’ might merely be of a hypocritical bunch of thumb-twiddlers waiting for disaster to win a simple argument. We don’t want another Chernobyl, Cancer Street, Pripyat, or Kopachi in your/our beloved country. We don’t want our fish to die of brine accumulation or radioactive bio-magnification. We don’t want people to disappear and houses to be buried. We want transparent, trust-worthy technology that actually cares about the breathing lives in this land and sea. We don’t want disaster. And heck if disaster happens, we truly know we have nothing in place to manage it!

sam pc

Koodankulam Press Release | October 20, 2014
KKNPP Must Tell the Whole Truth and the Director Must Go

The turbine of the first unit at the KKNPP is said to have developed some major problem. Although the first unit attained criticality in July 2013, it has not begun commercial operation yet even after 15 months of its erratic functioning. Even before starting its commercial operations “the world class third generation plant” is on the blink. It is ironic that the Department of Atomic Energy, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, KKNPP and scores of pro-government scientists have been issuing “the best and the safest” certification to this project for the past three years.

It is reliably learnt now that the faulty equipment in the turbine are being replaced and it may take a considerable amount of time to do that. It is quite pertinent to note here that there was a valve burst at the first unit a few months back and six workers were badly injured. All this attest to our claim that they have used shoddy and substandard parts at the Koodankulam project.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board tested all the equipment and their functioning so carefully and methodically and issued certificates for each step. How come they did not detect any problems with the turbine then? What kind of tests did they do? How did they give “all clear” certification? If this is the efficiency and efficacy of the AERB, we have to be really worried about the safety and security of 8 crore Tamils and 4 crore Malayalis in the southern tip of India.

It is really disconcerting that the KKNPP authorities remain tight-lipped about the excessive diesel purchase, recurrent accidents, and equipment malfunctioning that keep happening at the KKNPP. Mr. R. S. Sundar, the Site Director of the KKNPP, must resign from his job. He has been refusing to tell the truth to the people of this country and the press about the KKNPP. This is a major dereliction of duty. He would do the same mistake even if a major accident were to happen here at Koodankulam. It is not clear who he is trying to protect. It is also not clear if he does care about the safety and security of the people of this area. People in this region cannot sleep peacefully with our children with officers like Mr. Sundar in charge of a mega nuclear power park. So he must resign from his job.

Interestingly, the Russian Ambassador to India, Mr. Alexander Kadakin, has spoken recently that the Koodankulam nuclear power project is the best and the safest in the world and that his country would sell some 22 more plants to India. But today we hear that the turbine is not working at Koodankulam. The turbines the Russians had supplied to China (Tianwan) and to Iran (Busher) had serious problems too. We have strong reasons to believe that there are problems not only in the turbine of the KKNPP but also in the reactor core and other crucial areas.

When the first two reactors at Koodankulam are limping and tumbling, it would be a reckless move to erect two more reactors at the Koodankulam site. It is all too clear that the KKNPP project is a complete and total failure and it must be shut down permanently to safeguard the safety and security of the people of the southern tip of India.

People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
Idinthakarai

Paper Flowers

“Clapping gives us strength.” – Latha

Tamil (with English subtitles) 24 mins 46 s

How can one move from treating the third gender as a spectacle and object of curiousity for the camera and instead attempt to capture fellow human beings’ lives, aspirations and dreams?

After the landmark Supreme Court ruling recognizing the third gender status of all transgenders in the country, Rajiv Krishnan (the cinematographer of Paper Flowers) uploaded this film on Youtube as a celebration and salute.

In 1998, Hijra Guru Meena and Deepa Krishnan, were invited to a trans-gender conference organised by a theatre group in Austria. Unfortunately, Meena couldn’t get her passport. And so friends got together, and made a film to represent her in the conference. The result is an intimate and yet quick window in to family of individuals on a journey for their rightful dignity and respect.

Please watch, screen or share.

Our Family

“People should realize who an Aravani is. People should know that we too have a life. They should learn to respect our feelings. Society should also accept us. If we’re accepted, everything is fine.”
– Seetha, a dancer

Tamil (with English subtitles), 55 mins 20 s

Maybe you remember Urvashi Butalia ask whether an organ, some hormones, a choice or an obligation makes one a mother. Let’s ask, what makes a family?

The School of Media and Cultural Studies in Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai have their very own Youtube channel, where every week they release a film from their archives. Our Family (2007) directed by Anjali Monteiro and K P Jayashankar, weaves together the story of a family of three generations of trans-genders, Aasha, Seetha and Dhana, with excerpts of  Nirvanam, a one person performance, by Pritham K. Chakravarthy. Watch, share and subscribe to the SMCS channel.