Neela Jayaraman is a clinical social worker specializing in trauma and gender-based violence. She volunteers for AID in Boston. While earning her Master’s degree in social work from Boston College, she spent 4 months in Ranchi, Jharkhand with an organization serving people affected by trafficking, child labor, bonded labor, as well as gender-based violence. Continue reading
“The saddest part about this whole thing,” said Karthik Ranganathan, “was that I was the only outsider there.” He was talking about an incident in the Ejipura neighborhood, whose residents belonged to the “Economically Weaker Sections” or “EWS.” In short, it was a slum. It was a place that hundreds of people called home. And when their homes were about to be demolished for the sake of a shopping mall, the people cried foul. Did anyone listen? Continue reading
Dayamani Barla gave the keynote address at the AID Conference in Chicago, May 27 2017.
Conference session on Campaigns.
Panelists: Kiran Vissa, Sanjeev Sane, Medha Patkar and S.R. Hiremath.
Panelists shared high and low points of their respective struggles and ways to build solidarity.
While many organizations have faced repression for activist work, there are instances when the government acts in the public interest, in response to campaigns by people’s organizations and related movements. In those cases one has the opportunity to stand with the movements and with those working in the government to respond to people’s concerns. In business terms, we can call these opportunities “low-hanging fruit” and by availing them, strengthen both ourselves as well as the trees civil society movements] that bear these fruits.
Whenever the government takes a stand by passing a law or a court order in favor of positions that AID stands for, AID can take the opportunity to issue a statement appreciating this move, thereby supporting all who worked for it and also raising greater public awareness of these causes and processes at the ground level.
In the run-up to the AID conference in College Park, the youth conference on Friday gave kids a chance to learn games and songs related to people’s unity, share experiences related to conflict and injustice, meet the speakers and learn about their work, and talk about ways to work for peace an justice from their own perspective and using their various talents. Continue reading
On the third day of the conference I could actually relax and focus on the talks. And what high-energy talks there were – first Kiran Vissa on agriculture and farmers and then Geetha Ramakrishnan on the rights and struggles of unorganized sector workers. Continue reading
Moving along, in the late afternoon there was the follow-up session on 10xAID, after which the Executive Board and Board of Directors presented the Annual Report and then Kamayani and Ashish talked about their work in Bihar. They talked about MNREGA and other issues of workers’ rights, village level discussions with women as well as with men on gender equality, and about the nirman work they were starting with children’s education.
And then there was dinner. Not just any dinner but the Reunion Banquet. Some of the folks from the early years of AID came along with their families to share stories from the times when they were all roommates dreaming up schemes for the future of India, or how to dumpster-dive a Xerox machine and make it produce the first copies of Dishaa, the AID newsletter.
So the interesting thing about having everyone stay in the hotel together is that after coming back from the conference we conferenced some more. In the hotel lobby, a small group gathered round to ponder questions of caste, class and gender in a discussion format similar to what Ashish and Kamayani use in their village workshops. Rashim had circulated a short list of questions earlier, with the title “Did you ever wonder?” It seemed like people really need to talk about these questions and rarely take the time to do so. I used the opportunity to share something I had no other place to share, regarding the trials of the police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case, and what our feelings about the verdict say about our own place in society. What would we do if we were in the place of the police? And why is it that none of us is?