News Feed 29-July ‘2016

Mahasveta Devi, a mother and a rebel, passes away

  • Mahasveta Devi, the irreverent litterateur with the he art of a rebel, passed away after a prolonged illness in Kolkata. She was 90.
  • She had been admitted to Belle Vue Clinic on May 22 with geriatric complications. Two weeks ago, she was put on ventilation and she never came out of it. A multi-organ failure led to a cardiac arrest.
  • Her novels throbbed with the sound and fury of tribal life, they originated from Mahasveta’s frequent sojourns to the forests of Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh that were practically home to her.
  • Mahasveta’s familiarity with tribal life made her novels resonate with a raw, earthy charm of the jungles and the struggles of the exploited tribals. Her accounts stemmed from first-hand experience and a genuine sympathy for the ignored, the abused and the marginalized. Her tales of people and places brought to the fore an India that had been swept under the carpet by the privileged and more influential classes. It was a battle against bondage and exploitation she fought her entire life.
  • Mahasveta had once famously said she always believed that real history was made by ordinary people and they inspired her to write.“Why should I look for material elsewhere, once I have started knowing them? Sometimes, it seems to me that my writing is their doing,“ she had said.
  • `Hajar Churashir Ma’ -a poignant tale of a mother and her Naxalite son who is killed -reveals her sympathy for the radical movement that shook Kolkata in the Sixties and Seventies. Mahasweta was pragmatic enough, though, to criticize radical excesses.
  • It was to supplement her family income that Mahasveta took to writing. Married at 20 to playwright and actor Bijon Bhattacharya, the couple faced a severe financial crisis soon after. Her husband faced persecution due to his Communist links and involvement with the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA).
  • In 1956, she published her first book `Jhansir Rani’, which stood out for its simple, yet robust narrative. But Mahasveta came of age as a writer more than a decade later with novels like ` Aranyer Adhikar’ and `Chotti Munda O Tar Teer’, drawing from her vast experience of living a tribal life in the forests.
  • The writer in Mahasveta was inextricably linked to the activist. So, her stories were often woven around the deprived and the oppressed across India’s vast, neglected tribal hinterland. It’s said that a visit to Palamau in 1965 transformed her.Moving from one village to another in the impoverished, backward Bihar district, she was confronted with the exploitation and poverty that had reduced people’s existence to sub-human levels in the region.
  • Till her last breath, Mahasveta remained true to the people who formed the core of her existence, the cause of her activism and the characters in her stories.


Green Corridor’ gets liver from Lucknow to Delhi in 90 minutes

  • Known otherwise for clearingr traffic for VVIPs, the police in Lucknow and Delhi, in a rare gesture, came together to successfully transport a liver in record 90 minutes.
  • The liver, that of one Vineeta Saxena (55), a teacher who was declared “brain dead” by doctors at King George’s Medical University, was being transplanted to a 50-year-old patient in Delhi at the time of going to press.
  • The hour-and-a-half-journey started from KGMU to reach Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport in Lucknow — 28 km in 24 minutes — and then from Indira Gandhi International Airport to Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences in Delhi — 9 km in 12 minutes. For both journeys, police in the respective capital cities created a successful ‘Green Corridor’, travelling at a speed of 90 kmph.
  • The task was herculean especially for the Lucknow Police, which had to overcome a busy day, and a busy traffic, with Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Harsh Vardhan and Bandaru Dattatreya all in the city to attend separate programmes. As many as 100 officers from traffic and civil police had been engaged for the purpose.
  • The transportation was necessitated after a team led by Dr Abhijeet Chandra, Head of KGMU’s Department of Gastro-Surgery, declared Saxena “brain dead” after treating the polycystic kidney disease, which had led the patient to develop multiple cysts. The doctors then advised the family to donate her organs. Since the kidney had shut down because of the disease, the family gave its consent to donate Saxena’s liver and cornea.
  • And thus, at 12 pm, began a three-hour surgery as the city police, put on alert, waited outside.
  • “I have been the Additional Superintendent of Police (Traffic) in the state capital for about a year but today has been the most satisfactory day in leading the traffic team here,” said Habibul Hassan.
  • He said the police had faced similar situation in the past but this was the “first completely successful” Green Corridor as “we had learnt from previous mistakes”. “With the route that we were able to create through help from about 100 police officers put on duty for the purpose, we could have driven faster but the doctors had advised us not to go beyond the speed of 90 kmph so as to prevent damage to the liver,” the officer explained.
  • Speaking to The Indian Expressfrom Delhi, Dr Abhijeet Chandra, said, “In about 90 minutes, we were able to cover the distance from KGMU (Lucknow) to ILBS (Delhi). I would like to thank the police for it. While Lucknow Police responded in such a short time, even the Delhi Police gave us a ‘Green Corridor’. The transplant is about to start and it would take another three hours.”
  • He said that the patient, to whom the liver was being transplanted, is “a 50-year-old woman suffering with end-stage liver disease”. Dr Chandra said he was “not aware” of the patient’s whereabouts.


PTM at 1,000 Delhi govt schools on July 30

  • Parents of all children studying in Delhi government schools have received invitation cards — some handmade by the students themselves — to participate in the first Parent Teacher Meeting (PTM), to be organised across 1,000 government schools on July 30.
  • The initiative plans to create a carnival-type atmosphere in schools biannually to welcome parents for a one-on-one interaction with principals and teachers. Schools have been instructed to create a conducive environment for discussions to give and take feedback, as well as celebrate the positive aspects of each student.
  • Speaking about the initiative, Education Minister Manish Sisodia said: “The PTM is aimed at opening the doors of the school for all parents and celebrating the occasion with them. We aim to enhance communication between parents and teachers, and to bridge the existing gap.”
  • Teachers from KG to Class VII have been instructed to discuss with parents issues like nutrition, hygiene, attendance and punctuality.
  • The Department of Education has also introduced initiatives like Friday meetings, during which parents can meet senior Department officials to discuss concerns and give feedback. The meetings will be held on a weekly basis between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.
  • The initiative plans to create a carnival-type atmosphere in schools biannually for the parents


HC tells govt to define green space ratio

  • The campaign to preserve open spaces in the city has just won some more ground. The Bombay high court in an interim order recently directed the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) to obtain the court’s permission before sanctioning any new slum rehabilitation scheme on spaces reserved as gardens, parks and playgrounds.
  • The order dated July 31 was passed while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Citispace, a non-government organisation, seeking to restrain the SRA from utilising open spaces in the city for slum rehabilitation. A division bench comprising Justice A.P. Shah and Justice Ranjana Desai adjourned the matter by four weeks.
  • The PIL is challenging SRA guidelines, which state that if an open space measuring 1,001 sq mts or more is occupied by hutments, it can be declared a slum and redeveloped provided 33 per cent of the area is retained for the playground or garden as reserved in the development plan.
  • An open space of less than 1,000 sq mts cannot be declared a slum and the authorities are bound to clear the area by shifting the slum-dwellers.
  • “This simply amounts to rewarding wrong doers at the cost of law abiding citizens,” said Nayana Khatpalia of Citispace. The NGO has sought that the court direct the authorities to remove all encroachers from open spaces in a time-bound manner.
  • In the order, the SRA was also directed to file a reply disclosing information regarding details of plots that are open spaces and public spaces for which proposals for slum rehabilitation have been received since 1998.
  • Citispace had sought this information from the SRA under the Maharashtra Right to Information Act, 2000, but had received no response. The PIL filed in April sought orders to prohibit the SRA, the state government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation from allowing the rehabilitation of slum dwellers on open spaces reserved as playgrounds, recreation grounds andno-development zones.

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