[Reader-list] Under Development: Singur

Shivam Vij शिवम् विज् mail at shivamvij.com
Sun Jun 29 22:10:47 IST 2008

Under Development: Singur

The present event, hosted at the Seagull Arts and Media Resource
Centre, Kolkata, runs through 27 June to 2 July 2008. The programme
stands as follows:

Photo exhibition

The photographs will remain mounted for viewing everyday from 2 to 8
pm at the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre, Kolkata.

Panel discussion and open forum

Friday 27 June, 4:30 pm
'On the Representation of Displacement and Development'

- Professor Samik Bandyopadhyay (Senior Film Critic and Scholar)

- Dr Kavita Panjabi (Professor, Department of Comparative Literature,
Jadavpur University)

- Dr Rajarshi Dasgupta (Fellow in Political Science, CSSSC)

- Dr Paromita Chakravarti (Senior Lecturer, Department of English,
Jadavpur University)

Film festival

Saturday 28 June 2008

11.00 am
Bombay: Our City – Anand Patwardhan (India: 1985, 82 min)
2.00 pm
Mahua Memoirs – Vinod Raja (India: 2007, 80 min)
4.30 pm
Czech Dream – Vit Klusak and Felip Remunda (Czechoslovakia: 2004, 90 min)
6.00 pm
An Aura of Development – Shubhasree Bhattacharyya and Sumantra Roy
(India: 2008, 65 min)
7.00 pm
Unnayan - Banduker Nole – Pramod Gupta (India: 2007, 44 min)

Sunday 29 July 2008

11.00 am
A Narmada Diary – Anand Patwardhan (India: 1996, 60 min)
2.00 pm
Still Life – Zhang ke Jia (Hong Kong: 2006, 111 min)
4.30 pm
Mahua Memoirs – Vinod Raja (India: 2007, 80 min)
6.00 pm
Teardrops of Karnaphuli – Tanvir Mokammel (Bangladesh: 2006, 60 min)

o o o o

    We at The Citizens' Initiative are trying to organize a continuing
open discussion on the paradigms of development and the relationship,
in this context, between politics and ethics. These issues, we feel,
are extremely important given the kind of state-sponsored violence
that people are facing all over India and particularly in West Bengal.

    The group of students, researchers, and teachers that is the CI
started out in February 2007 to debate and question the cost of
development and the growing schism between ethics and contemporary
political culture. Questions have also begun to arise on the naive
equation of the 'partisan' with the 'political', and the brushing
aside of any non-partisan civil political action as not just
irrelevant, but, as in some circles it is fashionable to say,
'anti-political.' The role of the civil society in a democracy is a
subject of critical re-examination now, and it is the disregard for
non-partisan opinion and the consequences of it that have led us to
discuss and take more concrete actions.

    We launched this initiative with a one-day seminar on 16 February
2008 on 'Development and Ethics', where the speakers were Dr Dilip
Simeon and Dr Aseem Shrivastava. Dr Dilip Simeon taught history at
Delhi University for several years and is currently a Fellow at the
Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi. Dr Aseem Shrivastava
has a doctorate in Economics from the University of Massachusetts at
Amherst. He has taught Economics at various universities in the US and
India, and Philosophy at Nordic College in Norway. He is an
independent writer who writes on various contemporary themes like
globalisation, human rights and US foreign policy. At the seminar, Dr
Simeon spoke on 'Ethics and Contemporary Political Culture', and Dr
Shrivastava's talk was titled 'SEZ and the Cost of Development'.

    Our next event was a workshop on the legal possibilities of the
common citizen's redress of wrongs. Mr Sabir Ahamed of the RTI Mancha
spoke on the Right to Information and Mr Sujato Bhadra of Association
for Protection of Democratic Rights spoke on Public Interest

    We have visited Singur six times since February 2008. A full
report of our findings is to be released shortly, and a brief interim
report is now ready for dissemination. In the last few months, we have
carried relief – in the form of clothes, rice and pulses – to Dobandi
in Singur (in March 2008), and organized a medical camp there (on 18
May 2008) with the help of the Centre for Care of Torture Victims. But
neither of these efforts reflects our primary objectives. Our most
ardent wish is to everywhere induce long-term reflection on models –
and ethics – of development, and to contribute to reconstructive
thought and efforts in the areas already adversely affected by the
present political take on development. We have extensively
photographed life in Singur and how it has been affected by the
fencing-off of the land for the Tata Motors factory. Very few people
in Kolkata have any idea of what Singur looks like, and press
photographs can perhaps tell only a minuscule portion of the story.
Our photographs are aimed at covering this invisible distance between
the affected village and the urban centre – to put it simply, to show
what development looks like in reality.

    However, we should stress that we have not been to Singur as
unaffected photographers who are there to snatch images and leave. We
wish to be able to propose/introduce alternative means of livelihood
for people who have for generations been based in agriculture.
Unhappily, the government's promises that alternative training and
employment shall be the norm rather than the exception among all
peoples displaced from land and/or livelihood, have been resoundingly
empty. In even our limited ways, we hope that we shall, in a few
months, be able to organize in Singur training workshops on certain
alternative means of livelihood like machine knitting, embroidery,
machine embroidery, and even cultivation of mushrooms.

    citizensinitiativecal at gmail.com

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