On 28 February 2015, Arun Jaitley, India’s Union Finance Minister, presented the first full budget of Modi’s new NDA Government. Yet there is nothing new to cheer for in it, as far as the country’s 104 million Adivasis (Scheduled Tribes – STs) are concerned. The Government has not announced any new programme, scheme or legislation for the Adivasis in the budget. Instead, budgetary allocation for STs’ welfare and development was reduced from Rs.26,715 crore (267.15 million rupees) during 2014-15 down to Rs.19,980 crore (199.8 million rupees). Yet the Finance Minister claimed that his ‘Government being sensitive to the needs of the poor, under-privileged and the disadvantaged’!1 This reduction is blamed on ‘serious constraints’,2 with no mention of what these might be. Business as usual: this all comes under the Government’s ‘Tribal Sub-Plan’ (TSP).
Historic Statue of Mahatma Gandhi Unveiled in Parliament Square
Political leaders led by Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were joined by Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson Gopalkrishna Gandhi and Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan at the unveiling ceremony of the bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. The statue will stand alongside Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill.
You can read the speeches of Gopalkrishna Gandhi and PM David Cameron by clicking on the links below:
An International Writing Competition organised by Sampad
– South Asian Arts Development
“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”
~ Mahatma Gandhi ~
Mahatma Gandhi is a towering figure in history whose philosophy of non-violence, passion for equality and independence and socio-political intelligence continues to be an inspiration for many leaders.
Sampad’s latest international writing competition provides an opportunity for aspiring writers to connect with this immensely philosophical and influential thinker and leader, and express their own response through inspired writing.
Key motivations for delivering this project:
- Stimulate research into Gandhi’s life and philosophy
- Motivate young and old to express themselves through creative writing
- Inform new and uninformed generations about this amazing personality
- Engage with wide audiences and participants across the globe as an on-line project
The publication which will be produced at the end of the competition will be a valuable educational tool and source of inspiration for young people in schools and colleges and beyond, helping to keep Gandhi’s message alive for future generations.
More details of how to enter the competition can be found at:
The Gandhi Foundation AGM will be on
Saturday 16th May 2015 at 2pm
at Kingsley Hall, Powis Road, Bromley-By-Bow, London E3 3HJ
Followed by the screening and discussion of Cotton for My Shroud – A film about the plight of cotton farmers in India and the culpability of the multinational Monsanto and the Indian Government. https://www.facebook.com/CottonForMyShroud
2pm Annual General Meeting All Welcome
RSVP email@example.com or 07910215651(for catering purposes)
A letter from Gladson Dungdung, Convenor of Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights
On behalf of the “Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights”, I have the pleasure to share its first brief report, “Adivasi Campaign demands rejection of the Land Acquisition Ordinance, 2014″ which is available to view at:
The ‘Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights’ (Adivasi Campaign) has been recently established to lead the national campaign of the Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples of India, majority of whom, are notified as Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution of India.
In public domain in India, Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples are largely perceived either as victims or beneficiaries, but they are seldom considered as decision makers by government, non-governmental organizations, donors, international organisations etc. There is a serious lack of representation/participation of the Adivasis/indigenous peoples in the discussion, debate, policy formation, law making, budgeting, etc relating to them.
Therefore, it was decided to establish the ‘Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights’ with the aim to seek and ensure representation/participation of the Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples, among others, in discussion, debate, policy formation, law making and implementation of programmes relating to Adivasis/Indigenous Peoples by NGOs, donors, governments, UN bodies, etc.
The Adivasi Campaign is committed to promote, protect and ensure the rights of the Adivasis /Indigenous Peoples guaranteed under the Constitution of India and United Nations human rights instruments including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Convenor, Adivasi Campaign for Human Rights
In 1936, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was invited to deliver a lecture in Lahore – then very much part of India – by a Hindu group opposed to untouchability. When the group saw an advance text of the lecture, which was entitled Annihilation of Caste, they cancelled the invitation because towards the lecture’s end, the author had declared his intention of leaving the Hindu fold. In a riposte to the cancellation, Dr. Ambedkar published Annihilation of Caste. Its contents elicited an immediate comment from Gandhi in his journal, Harijan, to which Ambedkar issued a rejoinder.
A major text from India’s recent history, Annihilation of Caste has been republished many times and has been translated into several languages, often with the Ambedkar–Gandhi exchange added to the main text. In March 2014, a new edition was published in Delhi by Navayana. In this new edition, Annihilation of Caste is preceded by a 153-page text by Arundhati Roy, entitled ‘The Doctor and the Saint’, which is presented as an introduction to Ambedkar’s classic ‘undelivered’ lecture.
This little book is a response to Arundhati Roy’s ‘The Doctor and the Saint’. However, it also bears an indirect connection to the historic debate between Ambedkar and Gandhi, which took place during a period well removed from our times. While Gandhi’s assassination occurred nearly seven decades into the past, Ambedkar died in 1956, almost six decades ago.
The two were involved in a positive, if impersonal, relationship during the 1920s. Though they did not meet each other in this period, Ambedkar appreciated Gandhi’s concern for the plight of Dalits, and he also welcomed the method of satyagraha that Gandhi had introduced. However, the 1930s saw sharp, and from a historian’s standpoint revealing, exchanges between the two.
The exchanges help our understanding not only of two powerful individuals in history, but also of continuing flaws in Indian society and the tension in the first half of the twentieth century between the goals of national independence and social justice.
To read the full article click here: Independence and Social Justice – Jan 2015
The 2014 UCL Lancet Lecture was given by Arundhati Roy – The Half-Life of Caste: The ill-health of a nation.
The UCL video of the lecture can be viewed here:
Arundhati Roy, acclaimed novelist and political activist, won the 1997 Booker Prize for Fiction with her novel The God of Small Things. She has published several collections of political essays on issues ranging from large dams and nuclear weapons to the corporatisation and privatisation of India’s New Economy.