Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. Musings from someone who sees stories everywhere.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sponsor run to prevent child sexual abuse

Here's a message from Payal Dhar,author of the brilliant Shadow in Eternity Trilogy and a personal pal. Please support her noble cause.

I did the Great Delhi Run of the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on 21 November 2010 to raise funds for the RAHI Foundation, an NGO that works towards ending child sexual abuse in India. Contributions are still welcome, so please continue your support and join my campaign against child sexual abuse.

Sponsors so far:
i.Swapna Kishore and Rajesh Naik
ii.Niklas Ã…kerlund
iii.Anita Roy
iv.Nandita Dhar
v.Monideepa Sahu
About RAHI’s work
Did you know that more than 53% of children in India are sexually abused? Sadly, most of these children never speak of their trauma and suffer in silence due to the denial of such abuse in our country. Without understanding and help, it is practically impossible for a child to survive sexual abuse without being deeply scarred for life. This support is exactly what RAHI provides, along with other critical services promoting awareness and prevention of child abuse. RAHI’s activities are in the areas of Training, Education, Counselling, Research and Communication. You can visit their website to know more.

How will your contribution help?
i.Provide counseling to victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.
ii.Train parents and teachers on how to protect children from sexual abuse.
iii.Educate 15,000+ young people on incest/child sexual abuse prevention through RAHI’s College Peer Education Programme.
How to contribute
There are many ways you can donate.

i.It would be best if you could send me a cheque (contact me via the comments form for address, if needed). The cheque must be in favour of Concern India Foundation and payable at Delhi. Please include your full name, address with PIN code, phone no. and e-mail ID.
ii.Online: Click here to donate online, and REMEMBER fill in the following details:
Runner category:I PLEDGER
Name of the person you are supporting:PAYAL DHAR
iii.Cash: We’ll find a way of getting it to me.
Concern India is the official charity partner for this event. Funds raised by NGOs will be routed through them for purposes of transparency and accountability. Names of donors will be listed on their website. They will provide you with an 80G Tax Exemption Certificate that will allow you a 50% tax exemption on your donation (only for Indian donors). This won’t be possible for bank transfers and PayPal payments, though.

Please support my cause. Donate generously and help protect children from sexual abuse. I will gladly accept whatever amount you can give.

~Payal Dhar

Irom Sarmila, Fragrance of Peace

Irom Sarmila, a political and civil rights activist, journalist and poet, has been on a hunger strike since 4 November 2000 demanding the withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (henceforth AFSPA), a draconian law that allows the security forces unrestricted and unaccounted powers in areas that are declared “disturbed”. Under the AFSPA, the army is “allowed” to arrest, search and even shoot to kill based on mere suspicion that it is necessary to do so to “maintain public order”.

The Act was first applied to the north-eastern states of Assam and Manipur in 1958, and subsequently amended in 1972 to extend to all the seven states in north-east India — Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. The enforcement of the AFSPA has resulted in innumerable incidents of enforced “disappearances”, arbitrary detention, torture, rape and looting by security personnel. (Read more about the AFSPA at the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre.)

The Manipuri people have protested, demonstrated and petitioned against the AFSPA, with the support of civil society groups, political parties and human rights group, both Indian and international. Sarmila’s unique battle for peace has become a powerful symbol for all those engaged in fighting for peace in the region. She began her protest ten years ago after 10 civilians were gunned down in Malom by the army. Taken into custody and released every twelve months by the state for attempting suicide, she is being force fed to keep her alive.

Zubaan has published a collection of Irom Sarmila’s poems called Fragrance of Peace, which has been translated into English from Meiteilon (Manipuri). A compilation of twelve poems, the volume “provides a moving account of the underbelly of one woman’s lone struggle for peace” (from the blurb). The book was to be released in Imphal during the 10th anniversary of her hunger fast for the repeal of the AFSPA, but permission to do so was denied.

You can support Sarmila’s campaign by buying copies of her book since all proceeds from its sales will go towards it.

Buy Fragrance of Peace
Price: Rs. 125 (+Rs. 25 for postage).

Do pass on the message.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The dead camel and other stories of love

I recently read and enjoyed a fresh and lovely collecion of short stories by Parvati Sharma.Parvati Sharma draws us with deft strokes into the everyday lives and loves of urban Indian characters.

Her approach is engaging, humorous and humane, as she lifts their quilts to reveal intimate secrets or point at romantic canoodlings in the kitchen in the opposite flat with a conspiratorial wink. As a group of young partygoers in the story, The Dead Camel, put forth in small talk, “Fiction is what real life isn’t… it stabs at the truth of the human condition…”

Love crops up in various forms and unexpected places, binding this collection of short stories. Love may fade, but memories of past loves crop up and help to make sense of the present.

Re: Elections 2004 the narrator Meera discusses with her landlord ‘Uncle’ and ‘Aunty’ the differences and parallels between the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 and the more recent violence in Godhra, memories of which continue to haunt Indians. Meanwhile, Meera remembers with longing a former girlfriend, a Muslim, long after their relationship has died. Read my complete review published in Deccan Herald