Aisa Kaha Unhone: “They Said …”

Aisa Kaha Unhone

Translated from English, “They Said” by Usha Narayan

Video: Performance by Andrea Pereira, Heidi Pereira and Katheeja Talha of Space Theatre Ensemble

They Said

You should not read thus sprawled on your stomach,

or in bed, or in dark recesses of the house, they said.

You will have to wear glasses, and then your poor parents

will have trouble finding you a husband, they said.

Continue reading


The Development Set by Ross Coggins

This famous poem written in 1976 by Baptist missionary and USAID worker Ross Coggins (1927-2011) is all the more relevant today.

According to several sources it was published in a magazine called Adult Education and Development in 1976.  I haven’t been able to find a copy of the magazine so I am copying the poem as it appeared in the New Internationalist (Issue 272, October 1995), along with a few verses I found in another source. Continue reading


Struggling to Breathe

Bhopal 1984 – New York 2014

“I can’t breathe!” gasped Eric Garner.
His cry, replayed a million times
Echoes the night of 3 December 1984.

Unlike the people of Bhopal
Eric Garner was not choking on gas
From a Union Carbide pesticide plant.

A pesticide plant that could not have heard the people cry
could not have stopped leaking if it tried.

Or could it? Continue reading


In the Narmada Valley

In the Narmada Valley
translation by Rushabh Mehta from Hindi Narmada ki ghati mein
A fight is on in the Naramada Valley.
Stand up people, or there will be no valley.

This dam, they say, will bring prosperity,
But what will the cost be to humanity?

The daggers are out, the trap is laid,
Come take the water, and slaves will you be made.

The cities are hungry, they need the electricity,
If they don’t get it from the Tapi, they will take it from the Valley.

Crores have been spent and facts have been flared,
Without checks or balances, even Gujarat wont be spared.

The politics is clear, they will be gone in five years,
With or without the dam, you will be heard with deaf ears.

They will crush your home and snatch your plough,
And leave you homeless, helpless and rough.

And there will be no other place left for you,
Lakhs will be displaced to the benefit of few.

The minister, his party and his cronies sing,
Don’t come to us brothers, the middleman is the king.

Read between the lines, is this really sane?
A few years of gain and centuries of pain.

A fight is on in the Naramada Valley…..


The Development Set by Rost Coggins

Rost Coggins

Excuse me friends, I must catch my jet
I am off to join the development set
My bags are packed, and I have had all my shots
I have travelers’ checks and pills for the trot

The Development Set is bright and noble
Out thoughts are deep and our vision global
Although we move with the better classes
Our thoughts are always with the masses

In Sheraton hotels in scattered nations
We damn multinational companies
Injustice seems so easy to protest
In such seething hotbeds of social unrest

We discuss malnutrition over steaks
And plan hunger talks during coffee breaks
Whether Asian floods or Africa drought
We face each issue with an open mouth

We bring in consultants whose circumlocutions
Raise difficulties for every situation
Thus guaranteeing continued good eating
By showing the need for another meeting

The language of the Development Set
Stretches the English alphabet
We use swell words like ‘epigenetic’
‘Micro’, ‘Macro’ and ‘Logarithmetic’!

Development set homes are extremely chic
Full of carvings, curios and draped in batik
Eye-level photographs subtly assure
That your host is at home with the rich “n” poor

Enough of these verses ­ on with the mission!
Out task is as broad as the human condition!
Just pray to God the biblical promise is true:
The poor ye shall always have with you.

-Rost Coggins
(from “Lords of Poverty” by Graham Hancock)
http://www.etext.org/Politics/Progressi … ossCoggins