Sunday, November 29, 2009


For all those of you who care about the injustice in the world, and even if you can't do anything about it, at least want to know more, here's a poem for you to begin your search. Yes, it's not exactly a poem. But it's full of emotions and facts. It's a little crash course for many of the injustices that have happened in the world. You have Google, you have the keywords in this poem. Go find out for yourself... if you care.


By EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002 

Before I start this poem, 
I'd like to ask you to join me 
In a moment of silence
In honor of those who died in the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon last September 11th.

I would also like to ask you
To offer up a moment of silence
For all of those who have been harassed, imprisoned,
disappeared, tortured, raped, or killed in retaliation for those strikes
For the victims in both Afghanistan and the U.S.

And if I could just add one more thing...
A full day of silence
For the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died at the
hands of U.S.-backed Israeli
forces over decades of occupation.
Six months of silence for the million and-a-half Iraqi people,
mostly children, who have died of
malnourishment or starvation as a result of an 11-year U.S.
embargo against the country.

Before I begin this poem,
Two months of silence for the Blacks under Apartheid in South Africa,
Where homeland security made them aliens in their own country.
Nine months of silence for the dead in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,
Where death rained down and peeled back every layer of
concrete, steel, earth and skin
And the survivors went on as if alive.
A year of silence for the millions of dead in Vietnam - a people,
not a war - for those who
know a thing or two about the scent of burning fuel, their
relatives' bones buried in it, their babies born of it.
A year of silence for the dead in Cambodia and Laos, victims of
a secret war ... ssssshhhhhhh...
Say nothing 
we don't want them to learn that they are dead.
Two months of silence for the decades of dead in Colombia,
Whose names, like the corpses they once represented, 
have piled up and slipped off our tongues.

Before I begin this poem.
An hour of silence for El Salvador ...
An afternoon of silence for Nicaragua ...
Two days of silence for the Guatemaltecos ...
None of whom ever knew a moment of peace in their living years.
45 seconds of silence for the 45 dead at Acteal, Chiapas

25 years of silence for the hundred million Africans who found
their graves far deeper in the ocean than any building could
poke into the sky.
There will be no DNA testing or dental records to identify their remains.
And for those who were strung and swung from the heights of
sycamore trees in the south, the north, the east, and the west...

100 years of silence...
For the hundreds of millions of Indigenous peoples from this half
of right here,
Whose land and lives were stolen,
In postcard-perfect plots like Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee, Sand Creek,
Fallen Timbers, or the Trail of Tears.
Names now reduced to innocuous magnetic poetry on the
refrigerator of our consciousness ...

So you want a moment of silence?
And we are all left speechless
Our tongues snatched from our mouths
Our eyes stapled shut
A moment of silence
And the poets have all been laid to rest
The drums disintegrating into dust.

Before I begin this poem,
You want a moment of silence
You mourn now as if the world will never be the same
And the rest of us hope to hell it won't be. 
Not like it always has

Because this is not a 9/11 poem.
This is a 9/10 poem,
It is a 9/9 poem,
A 9/8 poem,
A 9/7 poem
This is a 1492 poem.

This is a poem about what causes poems like this to be written.
And if this is a 9/11 poem, then:
This is a September 11th poem for Chile, 1971.
This is a September 12th poem for Steven Biko in South Africa, 1977.
This is a September 13th poem for the brothers at Attica Prison, New York, 1971.
This is a September 14th poem for Somalia, 1992.
This is a poem for every date that falls to the ground in ashes
This is a poem for the 110 stories that were never told
The 110 stories that history chose not to write in textbooks
The 110 stories that CNN, BBC, The New York Times, and Newsweek ignored. 
This is a poem for interrupting this program.

And still you want a moment of silence for your dead?
We could give you lifetimes of empty:
The unmarked graves
The lost languages
The uprooted trees and histories
The dead stares on the faces of nameless children
Before I start this poem we could be silent forever
Or just long enough to hunger,
For the dust to bury us
And you would still ask us
For more of our silence.

If you want a moment of silence
Then stop the oil pumps
Turn off the engines and the televisions
Sink the cruise ships
Crash the stock markets
Unplug the marquee lights,
Delete the instant messages,
Derail the trains, the light rail transit.

If you want a moment of silence, put a brick through the window of Taco Bell,
And pay the workers for wages lost.
Tear down the liquor stores,
The townhouses, the White Houses, the jailhouses, the
Penthouses and the Playboys.

If you want a moment of silence,
Then take it
On Super Bowl Sunday,
The Fourth of July
During Dayton's 13 hour sale
Or the next time your white guilt fills the room where my beautiful
people have gathered.

You want a moment of silence
Then take it NOW,
Before this poem begins.
Here, in the echo of my voice,
In the pause between goosesteps of the second hand,
In the space between bodies in embrace,
Here is your silence,
Take it.
But take it all...
Don't cut in line.
Let your silence begin at the beginning of crime. 
But we,
Tonight we will keep right on singing
For our dead.

By EMMANUEL ORTIZ, 11 Sep 2002 

Emmanuel Ortiz is a third-generation Chicano/Puerto Rican/Irish-American community organizer and spoken word poet residing in Minneapolis, MN. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Minnesota Spoken Word Association, and is the coordinator of Guerrilla Wordfare, a Twin Cities-based grassroots project bringing together artists of color to address socio-political issues and raise funds for progressive organizing in communities of color through art as a tool of social change.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

PAIN and JUSTICE - 26/11 & 2009 - Mumbai & Rest of India

Is only that pain “pain” which others can empathize with? Is a person’s pain any less if he suffers alone, minus the prying eyes of TV channels and mags and newspapers that want to attract more eyeballs?

Or has pain something to do with justice, or the lack of it? Has it something to do with ensuring that others are not subject to that kind of pain?

It’s exactly a year since 26/11 shocked the world. And as with most anniversaries, the media is busy making a spectacle of it, pressurising my tear-ducts that are already dry reading a million accounts of bravery, courage, resilience…… I shed my customary tear, but as I dig deeper, I encounter a sickening stench that talks of the rot in this thing we call “civilisation”.

Why? And how do you arrive at the truth? Simple: take a pot full of facts. Add a pinch, full of intention. Stir it well in the broiler of the present. And let it explode into your consciousness, like a moment’s fraction stolen from god.

This is what I get when I take refuge in facts. Between 26/11-2008 and 26/11-2009 i.e., 1 year, close to a 1,000 people have lost their lives in Kashmir (40,000 in the last 2 decades), 500 odd people have lost their lives in the North-eastern part of India, at least a 100 villages have been burnt and destroyed in the tribal belt of India (average taken by available statistics that says 644 villages burnt in the last five years), a staggering 15,000 farmers committed suicide (average estimate made from available numbers i.e. 182,936 farmer suicides between 1997 and 2007)… why, if you want a statistic closer home, over 4,000 people died in rail accidents in Mumbai alone, and another 1,000 died in road accidents in the city.

Yet, look at any newspaper, TV channel, magazine or any popular form of media, and what you see is nothing but 26/11. Is the death of 200 people more important than the death of 25,000 odd people, most of who died in worse tragedies than 26/11? Is their pain, their tragedy any less because it did not play 24x7 across the world for 60 hours? Is their anguish any less because unlike the high drama of 26/11, there was no melodrama in their story, no final rescue by brave commandoes, no teary-eyed survivors recounting how they survived 60 hours? Drive an hour outside Mumbai and you’ll have thousands of people – farmers, mill workers, common man… recounting how they have survived 60 years in more pathetic conditions. Pick up a child on the street of Mumbai, ask him his story and see if you can stop your tears. Or talk to the thousands of mill workers of Mumbai left to lead a life of immense struggle after mills unjustly closed down.

Yet, 26/11 happened and it would have been a success had the city, if not the nation or the rest of the world, become more empathetic to the pain of others across the city, state, nation and the world. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

Can pain and suffering be so selfish? Can suffering of one be so apathetic of another who has felt a similar kind of pain? Can empathy be so non-inclusive?

In such a scenario, should one really feel pain for those who suffered, or angry because all that their own pain has done is blind them to the pain of others across the world? While they prostitute their own suffering before a voyeuristic media, they turn a blind eye to the pain of others.

Can’t one’s pain make one empathize with another’s? Can pain be so blinding? Can the truth of life as it really is, be so limiting?

At least in this case we know that the perpetrators were foreigners. What do we do when they are our own countrymen? When our own armed forces kill, rape and plunder, the perpetrators are our own people -- be it in Kashmir, the north-eastern part of India, or the tribal belts of Andhra, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Bihar, MP and Maharashtra.

I cannot help but realise that this 26/11 anniversary “business” is merely a means to fool us. I can imagine, having myself been a part of such media enterprise and meeting, a group of journalists and editors sitting together where the boss thunders, “Get me the saddest story. Get me the most painful photograph. Get me something exclusive. I don’t want to miss a single story and read it in our competitors’ paper. Go get it for me, or stay home from now on.” 

Truth be damned, raking up empty emotions is the order of the day in the media, for if one really wanted to report the truth that could make this world a better place, one would have found a million ways to do so. There are a thousand little and large corrupt practices being fructified in this city every second, all of which are interlinked to this terror attack. While we talk of the terror attack by 10 terrorists, we are strangely blind to other terrors.

The demolition of Babri-Masjid was the end of a fragile peace build over decades after the horrific partition. The ball of hatred and communal violence had been set in motion. The inability to stop it, indeed the complicity of everyone, from the bureaucrats and the governments to political leaders, allowed that one incident to take place that has snowballed into 26/11, which was not a one-off incident; but if we look at history, it’s a history of violence. The only difference was that it was much better and heinously planned than rest of the terrorist attacks.

Can’t we see that there are a 100 other 26/11 we are brewing with our apathy, antipathy and deliberate ignorance of what is happening across the country? Those that have been pushed to the brink because of our actions (direct or indirect) and have nothing to lose (the urban poor, the rural poor, the tribals, the people of Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, etc.), have everything to gain by standing up against us. The next big 26/11 will perhaps not be by foreign terrorists, but by our own frustrated citizenry. What will we do then? What do we do now? Kill them all? Like Mama Kansa, kill every potential threat before it really becomes one? Dispatch the army and air-force on it as the government is doing in the name of flushing out Naxals?

The Indian security agencies – the police, the army, the paramilitary forces, the vigilante agencies supported by the state – Salwa Judum, and the Naxals and Maoists… all these are exerting tremendous pressure on the tribal populace. They are being pushed to the brink, out of their natural habitat. They are poor and uneducated today. But everyone has a tipping point, even the poor, oppressed and the uneducated. A point after which they will refuse to take any more shit and we, the city folks, would find ourselves at the receiving end, for their numbers far outnumber those of us ‘civilized’ folks. What can we do then? What can we do now to avert that day? Can we do anything indeed?

The point to consider is also this: does the government give a damn about its people? Has the ruling elite, ever – historically speaking – given a damn about the common masses? Think about it. From the point of view of terror, after the Babri Masjid demolition, in retaliation, many extremist groups have targeted the country for terrorism. Thousands have lost their lives in the same. Yet, how many convictions have taken place in its name?

Ajmal Kasab is a scapegoat, who, like a hangman, cannot entirely be blamed for his actions. The one who deserve punishment, the true masterminds, will never be punished. Take the case of 9/11 (on which the name 26/11 has been sickly lifted). Did the US nab Osama Bin Laden? And mind you, this is a country which spends the world’s two-third military spending single-handedly, a whopping $1 trillion on defence. Did they not nab him, or do they not want to? Because, if they do, who will they go after later? With whose name will they convince their citizenry about an enemy? Every government needs a scapegoat. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda are the US’, while the Maoists are for the Indian government.

People, you and I, have always been ‘collateral damage’. We don’t matter because we are not rich enough. If we were, we could build the world’s most expensive house for our family of only four costing Rs 8,000 crore ($2Billion), next to the slums of the malnutritioned in the city, and yet be compared to a minimalist Mahatma Gandhi, not by an Indian paper but by New York Times (check this sickening piece out, and have a family-feud play out in the open where the Chief Justice plays the ‘compromise’ maker while a million other cases lie pending in the courts.  

Throughout history it has always been such, under any form of governance – monarchy, communism, fascism, democracy… And perhaps it will always be. Not because it needs to be so. Everything can change but only if we want to. But each one of us spends our energy so much in the hatred and fear manufactured by different groups (government, religious fundamentalists, etc.) against another group of people (Muslims, Hindus, low-castes, Maoists, Naxals, etc.) that we are blinded.

And it is for this reason, for the fact that there is no true democracy – not because the government does not want it (it never will) – but because we don’t shut down our TV enough to go out and cry ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it any more’, that 26/11 is merely the beginning, unless each one of us contributes practising true democracy and raise our voice against the smallest of injustice and hurt, especially others.

A poor man feels pain as much as a rich man. We are all bound by a bond of pain. Let us extend this to Justice. A poor man has as much right to justice, as a rich man… If you have truly been hurt by 26/11 can you bring justice to someone who has not got it? Can you at least try?

I’ll shudder less in my sleep if you do. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mumbai Terror Attack And Our Vicarious, Voyeuristic Tendencies

This was an expression of my anger a year back after getting a million calls from 'friends' who don't bother otherwise, but wanted to have the latest gossip on 26/11. Come to think of it now, quite a bit of it i find naive now, but then, that's what i knew back then. Would perhaps write a 'mature' piece on the same now. 

A drama of greater proportion is unfolding in Mumbai, and this country with the Mumbai terror attacks. Yes, the attacks are extremely heinous and true liberty suggests that you make your point in non-violent ways, and not by harming innocent people. But then are we truly innocent. What gives power to these terrorists, is it their act, or is it we, and our voyeuristic tendencies and the vicarious pleasures we gain by what the terrorists do.

Let me being with some statistic and some personal observations. I am a loner with very few friends who keep in regular touch with me because of my directness. But in the last two days, as the city has been held hostage by terrorists, I have got a number of smses and calls from the world over from ‘friends’, asking me about my well being. In total, at least Rs.1000 would have been spent on me by them on calls and smses. Now, like I said, I’m quite asocial. This figure would go up when we consider other Mumbaikars, who are much more sociable than me. And considering that Mumbai has a population of over 2 crores, with almost a crore mobile phones, even if everyone received calls worth only Rs.100, it adds up to Rs.100 crores spent on calls. For what? Yes, it was concern all right, but we would be kidding ourselves in believing that it was only concern. It is a voyeuristic tendency that we have. People want to know our stories. Were we there? Has one of my family or friends got effected, and if yes, how? Now this Rs. 100 crore spent (and thousands of crores lost in business that was closed and people who stayed home because of fear), was it spent on concern? No, it was spent in giving more power to those terrorists by getting scared. Imagine 10 people took the entire city, nay the entire country for ransom. How did they do it? They triggered the bomb of fear in our heads, that’s how.
Let’s cut down emotion for a moment and take refuge in cold, sterile statistics. 100 people were killed by these terrorist attacks. Over 700 people have died in the last three years in terrorist attacks in major towns of the country (excluding the North Eastern part of the country and Kashmir). Now, take the number of people who have died in suburban train related deaths in just the city of Mumbai last year – a staggering 4500. This is an average of 15 people daily who die after falling from Mumbai trains or being run over by them while crossing tracks. And this number is from all strata of society (except maybe foreign nationals). So, in three years over 13,500 people have died in Mumbai alone in its trains compared to 400 odd people killed by terrorists in the city in the last three years (last years serial bomb blasts included which killed 189 people). Now vicariously consider the number of people who would have died on the roads of Mumbai in the same period.
Some more statistics: In 2007, 95,000 people were killed in road accidents in India, with Delhi contributing 2,169 deaths. In Mumbai more that 800 people died in accidents while over 2,000 were seriously injured and 5,000 had minor injuries.

So this is Mumbai for you, where over 5000 people die every year on its roads or trains. Now let me get personal. In the Western Express Highway, which I take to reach office everyday, 116 people (official figures) died last year in fatal accidents. I have myself been involved in two accidents last year. Once when in this stretch of road on the WEH which is a killer spot because of the smoothness of the road (yes, quite an irony), when my bike slipped and I skid on the road for almost 15 meters before halting. The truck behind me applied its break just in time, and I had a ‘miraculous’ escape. And this has happened at least 10 times in the city of Mumbai where I have lived for the last 5 years. And each time it has been because of the bad roads. Because the Mumbai government and its BMC is so rotten with corruption that despite being the richest municipality in Asia, it has the roads and streets of the poorest. So, who should I fear more, the terrorists or the corrupt BMC officials.
But again, who makes these terrorists. Is it that alleged country across the border called ‘Pakistan’ (literal translation ‘Pious Land’). I would disagree. They may give the guns to the terrorists, but each one of us contributes in providing the reason to the terrorists. More than how and where and when and whom, it is the why that is the most important and yet most neglected.
What is our greatest crime? Stereotyping! We stereotype people on the basis of their religion, on the basis of the region of the country they belong to. Though we live in a democracy, the discrimination is shamelessly rampant. A few months back Times Of India had carried an article on how Muslims in the city find it next to impossible to find a house on rent. Why? Because we have this notion in our heads that every Muslim is a AK47 wielding terrorist. That every man who has a beard and wears a cap supports terrorists. Now I do not also subscribe to the hoax that Islam is a peaceful religion. No religion in the world is peaceful. Religion is a divisive force, and anything that divides is barbaric and violent. Consider Christianity and the atrocities it committed in the name of religion during the crusades, why till a few decades back in their colonies across the world and in their continued support of anything that creates division across the world. And if you thought Hinduism is peaceful, read the barbaric history of its rulers and how they butchered, looted and raped often in the name of religion. If you thought Buddhism is peaceful, read how the Buddhist monks punished people a few hundred years back. The latent idea in every religion might have been peaceful, but its executioners has been extremely brutal.

Is He A Terrorist Too?
Then there are people like Raj and his uncle before him Bal Thackeray, who have divided people in the country, Bal on the lines of Hindi speaking and South Indians way back in the 1960’s and Raj going deeper by dividing Maharashtrians and North Indians. Like the terrorists Raj Thackeray too took the city for ransom when it was closed for two days last months. Thousands of crores were lost due to that, just like this time. And yes, people did die then too. 20 odd people die due to Maharashtrian-North Indian violence in the state of Maharashtra. But whereas the terrorists will be gunned down, Mr. Thackeray will become the next powerful man of the city, after his uncle Bal. That is his intention, to become the next most powerful man and once his ailing uncle is dead, he would be the monarch of Mumbai. So if you consider cold statistics again, the only real difference between Raj and these terrorists, is that the terrorists killed 100 people, Raj is slightly low on that number.
And who is to say that Raj Thackeray and the nations lack of legally indicting him for his crimes, had nothing to do with the latest terrorist attacks. Watch Anurag Kashyap’s ‘Black Friday’ based on Hussain Zaidi’s book to know how important this ‘why’ is and why what Raj is doing is directly contributing to the death of our friends and family.

Now consider what the politicians outside the nation’s borders, and inside it need to recruit people for their terrorist activities. They do not care about religion, they do not care for the common masses. The most important task religion has performed in its 4 thousand year history, is unite a group of people and divide them from the rest to such and extent that murder and mayhem can be justified in its name. Look at the Crusades of the middle ages, a war by the ‘civilised’ west on ‘barbaric’ Islam. Really? Read history and you’ll know who the barbarians really were, and are. Islamic countries up until the 18th centuries were far more scientifically and intellectually advanced than the west. The Islamic middle east, and the Indian subcontinent and China was the world’s scientific and intellectual powerhouse. When the streets of the most advanced cities of the West during this period were plagued by darkness (resulting in stupid ghost stories like the headless horseman), the cities of these regions, Istambul, Baghdad (yes the same Baghdad, that lies in ruins today), Delhi and others had an intricate arrangement of street lights. The truly barbaric west looted and plundered these three regions (like it is still doing, western forces occupy Baghdad forcefully) and became the ‘scientific’, ‘intellectual’ and ‘economic’ powerhouse. And they called Muslims barbaric, called Hindus pagan worshippers, and Chinese, communists. And worse, they have managed to make the world believe that everyone who practices ‘Islam’ is a terrorist. Is the war on Terror that the US is perpetrating really a war on terror? Our inefficient Mumbai police and its intelligence can do a better job than the entire West in capturing this fictional character called ‘Bin Laden’ and the fictional organisation called ‘Al Qaida’. Do not read ‘Bin Laden’ as that… read it as ‘Big Brother’ from 1984, only a ‘Big Brother’ of a different kind. His face is thrust before our face every time the government across the world want us to be fearful (or cannot really find the true perpetrators of violence). He is merely a symbol, like ‘Big Brother’ was in 1984. A symbol that is used every time someone want us to believe that all Muslims are terrorists. And when we believe that, everything that we see is tinted by the colour of the glasses of prejudice we are forced to wear.

The real terror of these terror attacks is not the death of the 100 odd people. But in further perpetrating this ‘Every-Muslim-Is-A-Terrorist-Myth’. In the US, presidential candidate McCain distributed 28 million copies of a documentary that perpetrated this same myth. That is a crime on humanity. And like Raj here, McCain goes unpunished. The real terror is when that stereotype is further strengthened in our head, creating further divisions in society, and ensuring that further such attacks happen by a handful of those in Islam or other religions and sect who practice violence. Or worse, someone else will do it and blame it on them. Like I remember in the 1990’s how easy it was to incite Hindu Muslim riots. A dead cow would be thrown into a Hindu temple, and a dead pig in a mosque compound. This would be the handiwork of politicians, but tensions would flare up (no one would sit with a cool head trying to figure out the coincidence of both happening simultaneously) and before you know it scores of Hindus would have killed Muslims and vice versa, and scores of women from both sides would have been raped and innocent children ruthlessly slaughtered. This was the same in 1984 when after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, hundreds of congress workers went ahead and brutally butchered 10,000 Sikhs (unofficial figures) in less than three days (visit Hatred has no religion, neither has voyeurism.
What do we most enjoy about tragedy – talking about it? We enjoy others tragedy vicariously. Like we enjoy vicarious emotions in a film. This, one of my favourite words in the English language, a very very powerful word, a word that explains and makes sense of a lot of things, vicarious. A lot of things we do in life is explained by this word. Like the scores of calls enquiring about my well being. They wanted to hear some story of terror. Newspapers and TV reports are not enough. They want to know something more personal. They want to know my story of the terror attacks. And this vicarious pleasure and voyeuristic perversion will continue for months after the attacks. The media would once again find the easy way out, stereotype some religious group or some country, and move to the next news that would give there viewers vicarious pleasures. Like someone trapped inside a old well, like in Billy Wilder’s World Cinema masterpiece ‘Ace In The Hole’.

If you want to fight terror, do something. But first stop deriving vicarious pleasure from the same. Know what the truth is. Dig for it. Know that there are bigger tragedies unfolding. Like the unprecedented rise of the Naxal movement in different parts of the country, even in the rich and prosperous Maharashtra. Understand how the economic disparity between the rural and urban areas is giving reasons for people in the rural areas to take arms to address it. Do not sit quietly thinking that it will not effect you. Everything effect us. We are all connected. Today it is some terrorists. Tomorrow it will be Naxals that will point a gun at you and me. Then, we will find more stereotypes and go on with our lives once it is over.
Let us not go on with our lives. In a society, everyone’s life effects ours, and ours effect everyone’s else’s. Don’t be content by the big bucks you make in jobs that really do not contribute to anything in this world, jobs like the ones in the advertising field, most media jobs, financial jobs… you make a lot of money, and feel proud of the big house and the big car and big foreign trips you make. But does your life matter? A farmer, who contributes to feeding you matters much more than your Golden Lion winning advertising campaign. Because that poor farmer creates foods that feed you. You cannot eat your notes. You create nothing that feeds anyone or elevates their pain like a doctor, or puts great ideas and thoughts like a good writer or filmmaker or a journalist with integrity. You just believe you matter, but one day, like Alec Guinness in another World Cinema masterpiece, ‘Bridge On The River Kwai’ you will suddenly “…realise you are nearer the end than the beginning. And you wonder, you ask yourself what the sum total of your life represents. What difference your being there at any time made to anything, or if it made any difference at all, really.”
Try making that difference, try being that difference, and you will fight terrorism and any such evils automatically.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A Date with a Cinematic Genius

Abrar Alvi, close confidante and friend to Guru Dutt, died last week. And with him, perhaps died an era in what was thankfully still not called Bollywood (implying that there was still a desire to create something new rather than ape Hollywood). Thankfully Sathya Saran was able to distil successfully the essence of this man and present it in a very entertaining and insightful book over a year back, thus ensuring that the contribution of this genius and his knowledge of an era in filmdom which we all seem to take for granted today, would not be forgot. That he would not be merely remembered as a side kick of Guru Dutt, but a creative genius who stood his own ground even against Guru Dutt. Here’s a review on the book I had written that was published in the March, 2009 issue of DNA Me.

A Date with a Cinematic Genius

Satyen K. Bordoloi reads 'Ten Years With Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi's Journey' and recommends the book for everyone, lovers of cinema and otherwise.

The Cover of the book

Guru Dutt was without doubt one of the most creative directors in the history of World Cinema. His 'Pyaasa' has left audiences thirsting for more, the smell from his 'Kaagaz Ke Phool' has intoxicated cineastes and viewers have been the slave in his 'Sahib, Bibi Aur Gulam'. However, what audiences do not know is that Guru Dutt had a partner in crime, a creative 'sidekick' who though largely responsible for the success of his films, artistic and commercial, has largely been forgotten both by the film fraternity and the general audiences. The person is Abrar Alvi.

The writer of this book read an article about Abrar and took it upon herself to tell his story, wondering if she could correct this injustice. Once you are through with the book, you'll realise, she manages to do much more.

Abrar Alvi had a very nondescript beginning in the film industry: driver and escort to Guru Dutt's producer on the set of the film 'Baaz'. However, his sharp sense of cinematic observation and fearless way of expression, thanks to his work in theatre as a collegian, caught the attention of Guru Dutt who hired him. It was only a matter of time that he began writing dialogues, going against the cinematic trends of the times, and later wrote stories for Guru Dutt Films.

Guru Dutt and Abrar Alvi

It was his relationship with a streetwalker named Gulabo that became the genesis for the masterpiece 'Pyaasa' and created the unforgettable character of the same name, essayed marvellously by Waheeda Rehman. Also, major credit (besides a buffalo) also goes to Alvi for discovering Waheeda Rehman.

For 10 years (until Dutt's untimely death) Alvi remained Guru Dutt's closet friend and associate. It is hence without surprise that in the book he offers a fascinating ringside view of Indian commercial cinema and its creation. That he also manages to take you inside the head of Guru Dutt and the creative urges that drove this melancholic genius, is the cream over the milk.

Like a good film, the book exercises sufficient tension over its readers and glues their attention by going back and fourth in time. Where the writer scores an ace however, is her restraint. It is obvious to anticipate a universe of ideas and information from a person like Abrar Alvi. But the writer does not loose the plot in offering fascinating insights into the working of the Indian film industry, without indulging in vanity or patronising anyone, so disgustingly common to commercial cinema and its practitioners across the world.

The book often makes for a funny, but fascinating reading. An example is of how, according to Abrar, a buffalo helped discover Waheeda Rehman. On their way to Hyderabad, the car Abrar and Dutt was travelling on was hit by a buffalo. With three days to kill before it came back from the mechanic, they went to visit a distributor. Here, they saw a new Telugu starlet who had become a dancing sensation, walk into a office opposite theirs. They asked to see her, only to feel uninspired by this first meeting. It would however be much later, when looking for a girl to dance and seduce their hero in the film 'CID' that they would remember Waheeda and call for her. The rest as the cliché goes, is her-story. 

The Writer - Sathya Saran

Throughout history, mankind has been fascinated by the sources of creative inspiration. Whereas poets, writers, painters and musicians are famed for creating alone, filmmaking is unique for its teamwork. What are the nuts and bolts of creating cinematic visuals that haunt us for life. By bringing the story of Abrar Alvi, and through him Guru Dutt's most productive years, this book adeptly answers these and many more questions. The time it takes to read the book is like going on a date with the genius, only from beyond his grave. And it is a date that is sure to leave you 'Pyaasa' for more.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Irom Chanu Sharmila, a Manipuri poet, moved by the plight of her people and after the Indian Army massacred 10 civilians in Malom, Manipur, went on a hunger strike on 2 November, 2000 to force the government to repeal the AFSPA. She was arrested on 6th November and has been fed by a plastic tube forcefully inserted through her nose from 21st Nov 2000 (exactly 9 years ago today). She has been thus ever since and on 2ndNovember 2009, she entered the 10th year of her hunger strike. This unique protest which has moved the conscience of the world (but not enough i guess), apparently has also made her enter the Guinness Book of Records as the longest fasting person in the world.

The reason for this protest is the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) which is enforced in the state of Manipur. Under this, any person in the army or paramilitary forces, even a non-commissioned officer can:
  • Arrest citizens and enter their property without warrant, 
  • Shoot and kill anyone on mere ‘suspicion’.
 The AFSPA has been enforced in Manipur almost continuously since 1980 purportedly to crush insurgency. However the AFSPA has become a tool for state abuse, oppression and discrimination. In such a situation death, rape, fake encounters, abduction, arbitrary detention, torture and sexual assault as well as destruction and looting of property has become common in the state. 

Why should you be worried about it?
This draconian law can be introduced in any part of India declared by the Union as ‘disturbed’ and be enforced upon its citizens. The Act gives tremendous and arbitrary powers to the army without any safeguard for citizens’ rights. Also no legal proceeding can be carried out against the army’s abuse of power without the permission of the Central government. 

Imagine the government enforcing the act in Mumbai in the wake of the terrorist attack of 26/11 in the name of flushing out terrorists? Would you have allowed it?

The innumerable hunger strikes, nude protests, civil disobedience, dharnas, petitions, cases filed, marches etc. across the nation not had much effect on the government. Yet, we must continue on the path of resistance.

On 21st of Nov i.e. this Saturday, we are holding a demonstration in support of IROM SHARMILA between 4 to 6 p.m., at the Marine Drive pavement, opp Jazz by the Bay at Churchgate. If you can make it, do be there.

Here's a PUBLIC MESSAGE from Irom Sharmila, recorded on the 6th of November at her hospital bed in Imphal, Manipur.

Our government keeps telling the insurgents to give up arms and move forward to non-violence. But in order to tell others to take the path of non-violence one has to first of all adopt the path of non-violence. I myself who is an embodiment of non-violence am being guarded by using the various arms that can lead to violence. There is a constant order by the government to kill anyone who is suspected of being an insurgent. Seeing the everyday killings I feel the doubt in my mind about who will ultimately be our ruler. I don’t know what is happening in this land? As the class boycott is going on for so many months we must know that that the cost of loss of even one hour-class cannot be compensated. In truth the right to education also grew out of the right to life and right to livelihood. We know we cannot go for education with empty stomach. What will we do with education without our right to live? Why the prolonged class boycott by the students has proved to be not effective at all? Had the boycott erupted from the authentic concern and acknowledging the true cause of the action, it would have succeeded in its cause within a month or so. The government’s indifference towards the class boycott shows it has no concern for the students’ welfare.

We cannot think only of the present. The concern for students today is for the future. Who knows Sharmila’s fast for nine years; what changes could be brought by the upheaval caused after the Manorama’s incident in 2004. When will we get the human rights? The government says why we are making a hue and cry over the death of one or few. But we need to ponder how the deaths occurred- by a disease or by the pangs of separation of beloved…..we need to think. Is our government who claims to be our protector going to still cover the deaths as natural? Are we to just simply educated ourselves, get a good job and end our life? We need to ask a question why we are born. Do we have anything to feel proud of while surviving in this land? Everywhere you see the emptiness and hollowness and subjugation. Are we made so differently by god that we as human do not deserve justice? My heart pains as a human.

Others societies have advanced a lot. Bible and Koran are not left written by god before human exist; these are written by the thoughts of man. What is that we are lacking because of which we cannot strive toward achieving to that level? Even though we are lagging behind in many aspects we must put the best effort to progress. In this nuclear age and when men have gone to moon forty years ago, how can we still be dependent on others to move ahead? All these achievements are by human endeavors. Even though we are slow and late but we must move ahead. When will the idea of self-nurture, self-respect and self-sustenance will come to the minds of our rulers and student bodies? All these material constructions will vanish over night and what is more important is justice and love for humanity. Government’s mismanagement should be pointed out. They all belittle what I am doing…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Every day I carry a flower in my pocket, I am very fond of flowers. …………..Our ruler is so timid.

Recorded by Ranjeeta Sadokpam and Doren Oinam
Translated by Shreema Ningombam

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Himanshu Kumar's Letter to the Home Minister on behalf of the Citizens' Initiative for Peace

The pressure to the government of India to stop offensive against its own people in the name of hunting Naxals and Maoists under operation 'Green Hunt' seems to have worked a bit. Himanshu Kumar met the Hon' Home Minister Mr. P Chidambaram on Sunday and the latter has expressed interest in attending a public hearing in Chattisgarh. Here's praying, wishing and hoping that he does attend for the sake of all the people in this country (because the tribal problems affect us all).

Himanshuji along with Citizens Initiative for Peace had drafted a letter for Mr. Chidambaram, requesting some urgent action in the triabl areas, which along with the pressure by many such citizens initiative across the country is perhaps leading him to reconsider the plan of action against this problem. Here's the letter:

Shri P Chidambaram
Union Home Minister
New Delhi
28 Oct 2009

Subject: Suggestions for Urgent Action in Tribal Areas

Dear Sri P Chidambaram,

We are deeply concerned over the recent developments in the tribal region of central India. The unfolding para-military offensive in that area, we fear, is bound to worsen the prevailing situation there causing widespread killing of innocent adivasis besides increasing the hardships they are already facing. We are also concerned over the loss of lives of security personnel. It is well known that the adivasis have been subjected to deprivations for centuries and they are now confronted with new problems stemming from the manifold attacks on them from the side of the state in the wake of the recent industrialization drive and the resistance to it spearheaded in many areas by the Maoists.

We believe that the following initiatives should be urgently taken to address the situation which is fast developing into a crisis.

1. As a Gandhian activist working in one of the most affected areas of Chhatisgarh I am well aware that the civil administration was prevented from functioning by the Salwa Judum vigilantes and the security forces as a strategy to force the people to vacate the villages and come to the Salwa Judum Camps; that is why some of the major welfare programmes were abandoned and basic amenities denied to the people in the tribal villages. As a result of this a large proportion of the population became dependent on the naxalites for their survival and protection. Characterising the affected areas as a “liberated zone of the Maoists” was a part of that strategy.

Therefore, we suggest that the civil administration be allowed to resume its functions immediately. I believe that the Maoists have no reasons to deprive the tribal people from the basic amenities available through ration shops under the PDS for the BPL families, Anganwadi programme, schools, health services and National Rural Employment Guarentee Act ( NREGA) which must be resumed .

2. All offensive drives by the paramilitary forces,the SPOs and Salwa Judum vigilantes in the tribal areas should be immediately stopped. Police may function to assist the civil administration in carrying out the much-needed development measures.

3. The Supreme Court order to the Chhatisgarh Government to rehabilitate and compensate all tribal people displaced due to Salwa Judum be implemented forthwith.

4. State should create confidence in the minds of the adivasis by prosecuting all those involved in committing severe atrocities like rape, murder, looting their properties and burning houses. It should be noted that none of the criminals habe been brought to book and justice has been denied to the tribals till date despite the reports of the NHRC and orders of the Supreme court.

In this volatile situation it is imperative for the government to take concrete measures and demonstrate its sincerity of purpose and thereby win people’s confidence in democracy.

We assure you our unstinted support in pursuing these steps.

With warm regards,
Yours sincerely,

( Himanshu Kumar )
mobile: 91-9425260031
On behalf of the Citizens Initiative for Peace

Members of the Citizens Initiative for Peace include:

Rabi Ray, Rajindar Sachar, Mahasweta Devi, PB Sawant, Rajni Kothari, K G Kannabiran, Ajit Bhattacharjea, Kuldeep Nayar, Mahesh Bhatt, Muchkund Dubey, Prabhash Joshi, B K Roy Burman, D. Bandyopadhyay, B D Sharma, S R Sankaran, Binayak Sen, Amit Bhaduri, Randhir Singh, Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy, Annie Raja, Tapan Bose, Sumanta Bannerjee, Sumit Chakravartty, Sujato Bhadra, Teesta Setalvad, Lingaraj, R Ramdas, Manoranjan Mohanty, Ramachandra Guha, Sandeep Pandey, G Haragopal, KB Saxena, Meher Engineer, Harsh Mander, D Narasimha Reddy, Pushkar Raj, Shabnam Hashmi, SC Behar, Bhagabat Prasad Rath, Swadhin Pattanayak, Harivansh, Himanshu Kumar, Praful Samantara, Kavita Srivastava, Saraswati Swain, Rabindranath Sahoo, Madhu Sarin, Nandini Sundar, Ravi Hemadri, S.R. Darapuri, Sudhir Pattnaik, Suhas Borkar, Satya Sivaraman, Apoorvanand, Ajay Dandekar, and many others

Friday, November 13, 2009

Government Should Apologise To The Tribals

These are the words of Himanshu Kumar, in the language he is not only fluent, but orates so eloquent in. In this article he talks about how less than a month after his marriage he left to live in the jungles of Bastar in Chattisgarh, and how despite leaving his wife alone in the wilderness of the jungle for days together, he never felt insecure. He condones tribal life and their values by writing that, “After living with adivasis for so many years (17 years) I can easily state that the so called 'civilized' and 'urban' folks of cities can never match up to them.

He further goes on to say that, “The leader of a crossroad in the village, has become the leader of the state, small merchants have become big businessmen and they have named the art of robbery as development.”

At another place he says, “The height of banana republic is this that while the government of India is charging Japan only Rs. 400 per quintal of coal, it is charging Rs. 6000 for the same amount from a small trader in Raipur."

I have kept the post in Hindi itself, because it's full impact is felt in reading it in the original language, instead of a shoddy translation from me.

The post is from the blog of Ajay Prakash:

सरकार आदिवासियों से माफी मांगे

हिमांशु कुमार

छत्तीसगढ़ में मजदूर आंदोलन के प्रमुख नेता रहे शंकर गुहा नियोगी कहा करते थे छत्तीसगढ़ के बाद कोमा लगाकर बस्तर के बारे में सोचा करो। मैं भी मानता हूं कि छत्तीसगढ़ और बस्तर दोनों अलग-अलग हैं। यह अंतर मैं व्यक्तिगत तौर पर इसलिए भी मानता हूं कि बस्तर के लोगों ने मुझपर उस समय भरोसा किया है जब सलवा जुडूम की वजह से भाई-भाई दुश्मन बने हुए हैं। एक भाई सलवा जुडूम के कैंप में है तो दूसरा गांव में रह रहा है। सलवा जुडूम वाला यह सोचने के लिए अभिषप्त है कि गांव में रह रहा भाई माओवादियों के साथ मिलकर उसकी हत्या करा देगा तो,गांव वाला इस भय से त्रस्त है कि पता नहीं कब उसका भाई सुरक्षा बलों के साथ आकर गांव में तांडव कर जाये।

मैं बस्तर में 17 साल से रह रहा हूं और इस भूमि पर मेरा अनुभव आत्मीय रहा है। उत्तर प्रदेश के मुज़फ्फरनगर से सर्वोदयी आंदोलन की सोच को लेकर मैं बस्तर उस समय आया जब मेरी शादी के महीने दिन भी ठीक से पूरे नहीं हुए थे। तबसे मैं बस्तर के उसी पवलनार गांव में रह रहा था जिसे छत्तीसगढ़ सरकार ने हाल के महीनों में उजाड़ दिया है। मुझे अच्छी तरह याद है कि जंगलों के बीच मेरी अकेली झोपड़ी थी। कई बार ऐसा होता था कि मैं पांच-छह दिनों के लिए गावों में निकल जाया करता था और पत्नी अकेली उस बियाबान में होती थी। लेकिन हमने जंगलों के बीच जितना खुद को सुरक्षित और आत्मीयता में पाया उतना हमारे समाज ने कभी अनुभव नहीं होने दिया। आज आदिवासियों के बीच इतने साल गुजारने के बाद मैं सहज ही कह सकता हूं कि शहरी और सभ्य कहे जाने वाले नागरिक इनकी बराबरी नहीं कर सकते।

याद है कि हमने पत्नी के सजने-संवरने के डिब्बे को खाली कर थोड़ी दवा के साथ गांवों में जाने की शुरूआत की थी। डाक्टरों से साथ चलने के लिए कहने पर वह इनकार कर जाते थे। हां डॉक्टर हमसे इतना जरूर कहा करते थे कि आपलोग ही हमलोगों से कुछ ईलाज की विधियां सीख लिजिए। आज भी हालात इससे बेहतर नहीं है। छत्तीसगढ़ राज्य बनने के बाद गांवों में सरकारी मशीनरी की सुविधाएं पहुंचाने के बजाए लूट की योजनाएं बनायीं। जो चौराहे के नेता थे वे राज्य के हो गये, छोटे व्यापारी खदानों के बड़े ठेकेदार-व्यापारी बन गये और लूट के अर्थशास्त्र को विकासवाद कहने लगे। छोटा सा उदाहरण भिलाई स्टील प्लांट का है जिसके लिए हमारे देश में कोयला नहीं बचा है, सरकार आस्ट्रेलिया से कोयला आयात कर रही है। जाहिर है लूट पहले से थी लेकिन राज्य के बनने के बाद कू्रर लूट की शुरूआत हुई जिसके पहले पैरोकार राज्य के ही लोग बने जो आज सलवा जुडूम जैसे नरसंहार अभियान को जनअभियान कहते हैं।

छत्तीसगढ़ में जो लूट चल रही है उसने क्रूर रूप ले लिया है। क्रुर इसलिए कि आदिवासी अगर जमीन नहीं दे रहे हैं तो बकायदा फौजें तैनात कर उन्हें खदेडा जा रहा है, कैंपों में रहने के लिए मजबूर किया जा रहा है। सरकार अपने ही बनाये कानूनों को ठेंगे पर रख ओएमयू कर रही है। बंदरबाट के इतिहास में जायें तो भारत सरकार जापान को 400 रूपये प्रति क्विंटल  के भाव से लोहा बेचती है तो छत्तीसगढ़ की राजधानी रायपुर के छोटे व्यापारियों को 6000 हजार रूपये प्रति क्विंटल। अब जब आदिवासी राज्य प्रायोजित लूट का सरेआम विरोध कर रहा है तो भारतीय सैनिक उसका घर, फसलें जला रहे हैं, हत्या बलात्कार कर रहे हैं। ऐसी स्थिति में अशांति नहीं होगी तो क्या होगा।

सरकार बार-बार एक शगुफा छोड़ती है कि माओवादी विकास नहीं होने दे रहे हैं, वह विकास विरोधी हैं। मैंने राज्य सरकार से सूचना के अधिकार के तहत जानकारी मांगी कि वह बताये कि पिछले वर्षों में स्वास्थ कर्मियों, आंगनबाड़ी कार्यकर्ताओं, शिक्षकों और हैंडपंप लगाने वाले कितनों लोगों की माओवादियों ने हत्याएं की हैं, सरकार का जवाब आया एक भी नहीं। वनवासी चेतना आश्रम बीजापुर और दंतेवाड़ा के जिन गांवों में काम करता है उनमें से गांवों के लोगों ने बार-बार शिकायत किया कि फौजें और एसपीओ उनकी फसलें इसलिए जला रहे हैं कि लोग भूख से तड़प कर कैंपों में आयें। जबकि इसके उलट माओवादियों की ओर से संदेश आया कि 'हिमांशु कुमार 'वनवासी चेतना आश्रम' की ओर से जो अभियान चला रहे हैं हम उसका स्वागत करते हैं।' देश जानता है कि वनवासी चेतना आश्रम सरकार और माओवादी हिंसा दोनों का विरोध करता है क्योंकि इस प्रक्रिया में जनता का सर्वाधिक नुकसान होता है। लेकिन एक सवाल तो है कि सरकार अपने ही बनाये कानूनों को ताक पर रख कर देशी-विदेशी  कंपनियों के साथ मिलकर लूट का विकासवाद कायम करना चाहेगी तो जनता, अंतिम दम तक लड़ेगी।

हमें सरकार इसलिए दुश्मन मानती है कि हमने समाज के व्यापक दायरे में बताया कि सलवा जुडूम नरसंहार है और कैंप आदिवासियों को उजाड़ने वाले यातनागृह। फिलहाल कुल 23 कैंपों में दस से बारह हजार लोग रह रहे हैं। पंद्रह हजार लोगों को हमने कैंपों से निकालकर उनको गांवों में पहुंचा दिया है। इस दौरान राज्य के एक कलेक्टर द्वारा धान के बीज देने के सिवा, सरकार ने कोई और मदद नहीं की है।

अगर सरकार सलवा जुडूम के अनुभवों से कुछ नहीं सिखती है तो मध्य भारत का यह भूभाग कश्मीर और नागालैंड के बाद यह भारत के मानचित्र का तीसरा हिस्सा होगा जहां कई दशकों तक खून-खराबा जारी रहेगा। सरकारी अनुमान है कि सलवा जुडूम शुरू होने के बाद माओवादियों की ताकत और संख्या में 22 गुना की बढ़ोतरी हुई है। अब ऑपरेशन ग्रीन हंट की कार्यवाही उनकी ताकत और समर्थन को और बढ़ायेगी। सरकार के मुताबिक फौजें माओवादियों का सफाया करते हुए पुलिस चौकी स्थापित करते हुए आगे बढ़ेगीं। जाहिर है लाखों की संख्या में लोग वनों में भागेंगे। उनमें से कुछ की हत्या कर तो कुछ को बंदी बनाकर फौजें पुलिस चौकियों के कवच के तौर पर इस्तेमाल करेंगी। हत्या, आगजनी, बलात्कार की अनगिनत वारदातों के बाद थोड़े समय के लिए सरकार अपना पीठ भी थपथपा लेगी। लेकिन उसके बाद अपनी जगह-जमीन और स्वाभिमान से बेदखल हुए लोग फिर एकजुट होंगें, चाहे इस बार उन्हें संगठित करने वाले माओवादी भले न हों।

मैं सिर्फ सरकार को यह बताना चाहता हूं कि अगर वह अपने नरसंहार अभियान ऑपरेशन ग्रीन हंट को लागू करने से बाज नहीं आयी तो हत्याओं-प्रतिहत्याओं का जो सिलसिला शुरू होगा मुल्क की कई पीढ़ियां झेलने के लिए अभिषप्त होंगी। यह सब कुछ रूक सकता है अगर सरकार गलतियां मानने के लिए तैयार हो। सरकार माने और आदिवासियों से माफी मांगे कि उसने बलात्कार किया है, फसलें जलायीं है, हत्याएं की हैं। आदिवासियों की जिंदगी को तहस-नहस किया है। सरकार तत्काल ओएमयू रद्द करे, बाहरी हस्तक्षेप रोके और दोषियों को सजा दे। जबकि इसके उलट सरकार पचास-सौ गुनहगारों को बचाने के लिए लोकतंत्र दाव पर लगा रही है.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Not many know this, but malnutrition is one of the most serious health problems facing India. 46% of all children under 5 years old in India are underweight I.e. 60 million children. In Madhya Pradesh, 60% of children under 5 are malnourished— this exceeds the numbers in Ethiopia. 

Malnutrition raises a child’s chances of mortality from common diseases such as pneumonia and malaria, constituting 22% of India’s disease burden.

For the children who do survive childhood: malnourishment will have limited their mental and physical growth capacity, preventing their ability to get an education or contribute to the family’s economic stability, continuing the cycle of poverty.

Real Medicine Foundation has been working across the world to eradicate malnutrition by working with the most vulnerable communities to identify, treat and prevent malnutrition. The management team based in the US has operational teams in North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe. And the best thing is that these teams are made up of people who want to contribute their skills, time, knowledge, and their passion to support people in need, be it full time or part time.

Thus, if you want, and if you love children really, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE. In small ways and big and both are equally welcome.

The most obvious thing you can do is donate money, if you have excess of it, or if you feel enough for the cause. Donation of $25 can save a child. Donation of $100 can save a family. $300 can save a village.

But, if you have been involved with issues, you'd know that yes, money is important, but more important than that is to donate your time and efforts. I had asked Caitlin, who's the Director of the Malnutrition Eradication Initiative in India to send a me a list of how people in the cities, can make a little difference and do their bit for this big problem and this is her list of to dos for those interested.

  • Macro-engagement – do you have the time to volunteer at a larger scale? There are plenty of things we need help with from hands on the ground to creating business plans to data analysis to creative writing to fundraising to partnership development, etc etc etc.  What are you good at? We need help with that
  • Network – tell people about malnutrition in India and what RMF is doing to stop it! We can always use contacts who want to donate funds, donate goods (nutritional supplements, HIV test kits, etc)
  • Fundraise
    • Throw a house party or event for RMF – ask each guest to give a small amount at the door or buy a drink on behalf of RMF 
  • Donate old toys/games – even better, organize a drive! (only if you live in India)
  • Do you have a medical background?   We can always use the help of a paramedic, nurse, or doctor
    • You could either intern with our partner Jeeven Jyoti Hospital or work with us in the field on HIV/AIDS, malnutrition, rural health, checking up on the kids at the school, or any combination of the above.
  • Are you creative?  We can always use artists, graphic designers, etc to help us with
    • Communications materials for illiterate people
    • Poster/brouchure, etc design
  • Photographer/film makers: Come out to the field with RMF, it will be an eye-opening adventure, and a chance to get some amazing footage we can use for educational and outreach films, PSAs, YouTubes promotional videos, etc.
  • Editors: We’re always looking for people to help us edit footage and to make it into something educational and convincing

With your help, Real Medicine Foundation  wants to ensure a strong, healthy, and hopeful future for India’s children. For more information on this initiatives and how you can help, visit, or contact the Director of the Malnutrition Eradication Initiative in India, Caitlin McQuilling, with your question, comments, or suggestions at
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