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Archives for : Justice

India – Why small, marginal farmers get just 40% of total agri credit


Small farmers typically take small loans — of less than 2 lakh. RBI data show that in FY17.

Small farmers typically take small loans — of less than 2 lakh. RBI data show that in FY17.

Loan waivers have made banks wary of them; beneficiaries are farm infra/services firms


Every year the Centre announces an increase in the agri credit limit, but not even half of this reaches small farmers.

Small farmers typically take small loans — of less than 2 lakh. RBI data show that in FY17, the share of loans of 2 lakh or less was just 40 per cent of the total agri credit of 10.78-lakh crore.

In contrast, loans between 2 lakh and 1 crore accounted for 47 per cent of the disbursals, and around 13 per cent of the total agri credit was accounted for by loans of 1 crore or more. Loans of over 100 crore were sanctioned to just 210 accounts (individuals/entities).

Speaking to bankers and market veterans revealed that the bulk of these subsidised loans — at 4 per cent interest rate — are taken by owners of warehouses/cold storages, manufacturers of fertiliser/farm-equipment, and food processors.

Gradual drop

The share of loans of 2 lakh or less in the total agri credit has gradually decreased from 45 per cent 10 years ago to 40 per cent in FY17.

Banks have been wary of lending to small farmers mainly because of the spate of loan waivers in recent years. The waivers have destroyed the credit culture in rural India, said a banker who spoke on condition of anonymity.

For Union Bank of India, which allots 60 per cent of its agri loans to small and marginal farmers, NPAs formed 7.62 per cent of the agri book in the September 2018 quarter.

The other reason why banks avoid lending to small farmers is that they are unable to price the loan as per the profile of the farmer or the commodity, observed Arindom Datta, Asia Head, Sustainability Banking, Rabobank Group. “Internationally, loans against riskier commodities are given at higher rates of interest compared to safer commodities. Further, banks make a distinction between a good and a bad farmer based on the repayment track record and tweak the interest rate accordingly.

“But banks in India cannot apply such differentiated pricing to farmers in the same region as it is a sensitive issue. So they keep away from small farmers,” said Datta.

Lending rule change

It’s only since March 2015 that banks have been set specific targets on lending to small and marginal farmers. There was no such requirement earlier.

A loose definition of agri credit has led to the leakage of loans under Priority Sector Lending (PSL) at subsidised rates to many large companies. Though the RBI had set a cap of 4.5 per cent (under the overall 18 per cent target for agri in PSL) for indirect loans, bank advances through indirect loans routinely breach the limit. Such indirect loans were made to dealers/sellers of fertilisers, pesticides, seeds and agricultural implements, and companies that maintain a fleet of tractors, threshers, etc., and undertake work for farmers.

Therefore, in 2015, the RBI dispensed with the distinction between direct and indirect loans and redefined agri credit to cover three categories: (i) Farm Credit, which includes short-term crop loans and medium/long-term credit to farmers, (ii) Agriculture Infrastructure, and (iii) Ancillary Activities. For lending to small and marginal farmers, a target of 8 per cent was also set within the overall target of 18 per cent, to be achieved by FY17.

This, however, is not seen as a happy situation. A farmer-activist who spoke to BusinessLine said: “Should we take comfort that at least 8 per cent will now go to small farmers or be upset that what started as 18 per cent is now effectively only 8 per cent?”

Data reveal that in FY17, private banks fell short of even this 8 per cent target — the proportion of advances made to small and marginal farmers was 5.5 per cent against the total agriculture advance of 16.5 per cent of all advances.

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Mumbai – 7,000 Mahul residents come to Mantralaya to meet CM Fadnavis to end the Pollution deaths – Fadnavis ignores

7,000 Mahul residents come to Mantralaya to meet CM Fadnavis to end the Pollution deaths – Fadnavis ignores, instead attends various events as chief guest, poses for photos and makes speeches and Tweets, ignoring the High Court order regarding Mahul, while detaining 7,000 protesters inside Azad Maidan, misusing state police


Rally begins at Carnac Bunder, Mumbai. Over 7,000 Mahul residents, including senior citizens, women, children and chronically ill pollution victims marched upto Azad Maidan to present their simple demand to the Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis – to honour the Mumbai High Court order instructing in no uncertain terms – to get the victims of ‘rehabilitation’ into #MumbaisToxicHell Mahul – out of that severely polluted hell and relocate them in a location safe for human life. The protesters have basically pressed for an end of the state-sponsored genocide/mass-murder of this entire community (over 150 pollution-related deaths so far and hundreds of people chronically ill and dying every week) by putting them in this fatal gas chamber against their wishes and against the orders of so many authorities.


The Gathering Reached Azad Maidan: Police were sent as messengers to convey the message that the protesters should meet junior secretaries who are not authorised to take a decision on the Mahul such as Secretary, Urban Development and lower ranking officers. Already the Mahul residents have met a whole series of ministers and senior officials, ranging from the environment minister Ramdas Kadam to Housing Minister Prakash Mehta and various other BMC and other officials – all of whom have been unanimous in one statement – that they all agree that Mahul is dangerously and critically polluted, and no place for human beings, and that the CM Fadnavis is the only government figure presently standing between these 30,000 lives and their safe rehabilitation. The only thing awaited in this whole story of rehoming them is Mr. Fadnavis’ order, and he is mysteriously silent on the issue, pretending that none of this is actually happening, and as if the High Court order counts for nothing.


 Mr. Fadnavis, on the other hand left for Pune and refused to meet these people or save these many lives, choosing instead run away to Pune to play an ornamental visit to a sugar factory in Pune to make a speech and post happy tweets from there, pretending that none of this was happening in Mumbai. The agitators’ demand was clear – ‘send us a person who’s authorized to take decisions leading to the urgent and immediate rehabilitation of this community even acknowledgement of the issue ’ according to the High Court Order. No such dialogue was offered by the CM’s office today.


Still no word from the CM’s office. The protestors decide that if the CM or his representatives refuse to meet them, then they will march upto Mantralaya to meet him. The gathering begins to proceed, and the police block the exits of Azad Maidan and positioned armed policemen, ready to attack the peacefully protesting  Mahul residents, threatening that if they move anywhere out of Azad Maidan they would be attacked with weapons, thereby trapping the entire peacefully protesting gathering of thousands of people inside the maidan, misusing the public space as an unofficial ‘detention centre’ and the police force as ‘bouncers’ of a genocidal CM – all because the CM insists on continuing the state govt sponsored murder and poison-gassing of tax paying citizens and considers itself above the orders of the High Court, which the protesters are asking the CM to implement as their constitutional Right to Life as human beings. The only people who have benefited out of the demolition of the Tansa Pipeline slums and the rehabilitation hellhole project in Mahul are cronies from the construction mafia, who have been raking in the profits through generous FSI and TDR bonanzas and the corrupt politicians who have been supporting this real estate mafia and related scams.

By trapping and detaining the Mahul residents, instead of meeting them for a humane and respectful dialogue, the already unpopular CM has now sealed his own fate and created out of the “Azad Maidan Open Jail” a long term, embarrassing live monument of his corruption, favour of the builder mafia and his anti-people and anti-environment policies. An entire exhibit of protestors who will now remain here for days to haunt Fadnavis, instead of hours as planned earlier. This dharna and his silence on the Mahul gas chamber will continue to shame him for several days, till the whole country begins to ask… “After all this, why is Fadnavis still silent?”  Or will he send the police to brutalise women and children to get them to leave, to ‘eliminate the problem’ altogether? The CM has put himself in a fix by misusing his power today and positioning himself as above the law


It turns out The CM is in Mumbai and still not interested in acknowledging the problem or saving these lives – and we only find out from other people’s social media posts, not from his office – he is at from the Gateway of India and attending another “Amrut Mahotsav” as chief guest, as an obvious statement to proclaim that 30,000 lives whom he has exposed to toxic gas can be ignored and more people killed because making speeches and cuttings is always more important. He doesn’t want to step down from his earlier position (pretend this is not happening, sweep it under the carpet while poor people die in #MumbaisToxicHell and the builders rake in the profits). This has now become a ‘status issue’ for the CM, but this time he will have a tough time explaining to the whole city of Mumbai why he has used state police machinery to lock-up 6000 people in a clearly visible “Outdoor jail” in downtown Mumbai.Mumbai

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Did Vedanta PR Firm access NGT order before publication : How deep is the Rot ? #mustshare

By Nityanand Jayaraman

Evidence released by Anti-Sterlite People’s Movement spokesperson Fatima in Thoothukudi today suggests that persons close to Vedanta may have had access to a “DRAFT” version of the NGT order well before the actual order was made public. Fatima has said she would file a police complaint seeking a probe into the matter, and has urged the Government to do the same.

The revelation lends strength to allegations on social media that Vedanta had illegally compromised judicial confidentiality and integrity.

“This is a very serious breach of judicial process. If proven, Sterlite’s access to the order even before it is pronounced indicates how far the company has gone to protect itself,” said Justice D. Hariparanthaman, a retired judge of the Madras High Court

The evidence emerged after a “draft” version of a Microsoft Word file containing the order circulated by media people during the early afternoon of 15.12.2018 was analysed for information regarding its origins. The file, reportedly circulated by Sterlite’s private PR agency, was titled “Final Order of VEDANTA DRAFT ORDER-15.12.2018.docx.” A closer look at its analytics revealed that it was created by an author named “NGT PA” at 07.39.00 that day and modified instantly by author named Aabhas Pandya. (See Screenshot.jpg)

Coincidentally, one Mr. Aabhas Pandya also happens to be the Senior Group Head at Adfactors, a PR firm that claims to specialise in public relations, media relations and crisis communications among other things. Adfactors manages Vedanta’s account, and Pandya is listed as contact person in Vedanta communiques.

The Delhi police must verify if the Aabhas Pandya mentioned in the analytics of the .docx file is the same as the head of Vedanta’s PR agency.

A PDF version of the order began doing the rounds in social media at around 2 p.m. However, this file too was titled “Final Order of VEDANTA DRAFT ORDER-15.12.2018.pdf.” This file was also created by author named “NGT PA” but at 08.01.17+00.00 which is Coordinated Universal Time for 1.31 p.m. Indian time. That is around the time that the order was uploaded on the website.


Vedanta was clearly confident of a favourable order despite the findings of illegalities by the Agarwal Committee. Within hours of the NGT order, a ship carrying 25,000 tonnes of copper concentrate for Sterlite Copper arrived in VOC Port in Thoothukudi from Peru, triggering speculation that the long arms of Vedanta had breached the judicial process. Not only that, the final order is starkly different from the report of the Committee. Committee’s findings have been misrepresented, and recommendations substantially changed in a manner than helps Vedanta.

Take, for instance, what the Order says on the matter of violations in the manner the copper slag has been handled:

Para 52 of the Order reads: “With regard to (ii), copper slag is not found to be hazardous nor has been found to be obstructing the flow even on visit of the site by the Committee. Physical barrier could be directed to be constructed for the entire area.”

This is in direct contrast to the findings of the Committee, which noted that the river was dry at the time of its visit.

Para 22(i) of the Committee report states:
“As per our naked eyes, the slag was dumped alongside the bank of the river Uppar. The river was dry at this moment, but according to the Collector and others, this dry bed gets filled up with the storm water during the monsoon season which occurs from October to December.”
Similarly, adverse findings by the Committee on matters that would have delayed or defeated the prospects of reopening the factory have been neutralised in the Order.
On the matter of greenbelt, the Committee found that “there was hardly any greenery inside the factory premises and that it was a concrete jungle. . .” and recommended that the “Appellant company should be directed that they shall develop a green belt of 25 mtrs width around the battery limits of the factory.”

Fact aside that this requirement has been in violation since 1995 when it was first imposed as a license condition, the NGT has done away with the recommendation on this front by stating incorrectly that the matter is covered by the 2013 Supreme Court judgement.

NGT’s treatment of two other recommendations of the Committee are noteworthy. Recommendations “s” and “t” of the Committee state that the chimney stack should either be increased to the legally mandated height or emissions made compliant by bringing production down to match stack height. Recommendation “u” directs the company to transport its copper ore concentrate in closed conveyance or a pipe conveyor.

While implementation of these recommendations would have offered some degree of protection to citizens, the NGT refuses to engage with them and instead refers the matter to a joint committee of TNPCB and CPCB which will once again take a view on the matter after giving “due hearing to the appellant.” Once again, the principles of natural justice are applied to Vedanta without a reciprocal offer to the citizens of Thoothukudi


On 10.12.2018, the NGT announced that its order would be uploaded on its website on or before 17.12.2018. That in itself was irregular. Section 23(1) and (2) of NGT Rules require that “Every order of the Tribunal shall be signed and dated by the Members constituting the sitting of the Tribunal, which pronounced the order” and that “The order shall be pronounced in open court.”

While the NGT has some leeway in creating its own procedures, the Open Court Concept is a constitutional principle binding even the Supreme Court. Article 145(4) of the Constitution states that “No judgement shall be delivered by the Supreme Court save in open court. . .”

The matter was not listed for hearing on 15.12.2018 – the date of uploading of the order. Neither has it been listed in the Causelist for hearing on 17.12.2018 suggesting that the order will not be read in open court

This lapse is not merely technical in nature. In uploading the order on Saturday during the vacation of the Supreme Court without the benefit of an open court pronouncement, parties and interveners have effectively lost their right to request a stay on the operationalising of the order until they have an opportunity to approach the higher court.

The NGT’s handling of this highly sensitive case has come under severe criticism with civil society interveners alleging bias, favoured treatment to Vedanta and violation of principles of natural justice. The Tribunal headed by Justice A.K. Goel refused to grant interveners any status to present arguments and denied them access to the report of the Committee appointed by it. An application by intervener Fatima seeking reconstitution of the Committee with a retired judge of impeccable integrity to replace Justice (Retd) Tarun Agarwal who was named as a beneficiary in the Ghaziabad PF scam was ignored by the Tribunal. The order disposes all applications of the interveners without hearing

>However, the allegations of bias now pale in comparison with the new revelations that suggest a breach in the confidentiality of a judicial order, and fuel suspicions regarding the integrity of due process.

At the very least, Vedanta and Adfactors have some explaining to do. At worst, the very order of the NGT is thrown in question.

Nityanand is a Chennai-based writer and social activist, and has been a part of the campaign to hold Vedanta accountable for Sterlite Copper’s pollution in Thoothukudi.

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Hindu Rashtra to peacocks not having sex: There is no way to assess conduct of our judges


Picture for representation |


Judiciary has simply looked away when judges have made sexist, casteist, xenophobic and sometimes utter nonsensical remarks.

It is simply naïve to dismiss Meghalaya High Court judge S.R. Sen’s judgment that says “India should have been declared a Hindu country” as a post-retirement job application to the Narendra Modi government.

The judge and his decision pose a larger question for the judiciary – What do we do with judges who rely on their inherent prejudices instead of the logic of law to arrive at judicial decisions? There is now a growing tribe of judges who cannot confine themselves to reason and logic.

Who can forget Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma of the Rajasthan High Court who said that peacocks don’t have sex?

Justice J.B. Pardiwala of the Gujarat High Court who said in a reported judgement in 2015 that “it is very shameful for any citizen of this country to ask for reservation,” a right guaranteed by the Constitution, still has a decade-long tenure. Pardiwala later surreptitiously deleted his remarks in the judgment after 58 Rajya Sabha MPs signed on an impeachment motion.

Justice Devadass, who in 2015 directed ‘mediation’ between a rape survivor and the alleged rapist, only had to recall his order and continue working like nothing ever happened.

Justice Bhaktavatsala of the Karnataka High Court routinely made sexist remarks and asked women to ‘adjust’ and tolerate physical abuse by husbands while hearing divorce cases. After a huge public outcry in 2012, the judge was taken off the divorce roster but continued his role in a constitutional court. In 2014, he even got a fancy post-retirement gig from the government.

Yet, if you look at other judgments of such judges, they are fairly rational, which makes it easy for anyone to dismiss them as an aberration. But it is a dangerous culture that has settled deep in India’s judiciary.

Craving for post-retirement jobs

It is also unsettling that Justices Sen and Sharma’s attitudes are ‘discovered’ only when their retirement is just round the corner. It is telling that their insecurities of a post-retirement life possibly manifested in such horrible judgments.

While Sharma spoke to television channels about his judgment to ensure the word spreads, Sen has asked the additional solicitor general to deliver a copy of the judgment to the Prime Minister’s office. Incidentally, Sen has also on 10 December taken up a case suo-motu and granted himself a number of post-retirement benefits including protocol and specific mobile phone allowance.

This desperation does not speak highly of the judiciary and demands urgent course-correction. The bright spot is the public announcement by two recently retired Supreme Court judges – Justices J. Chelameswar and Kurian Joseph – that they will not take up post-retirement jobs from the government.

While this is a small step in inspiring other judges, there is a need for more concrete steps. From increasing the age of retirement to bringing in a mandatory cooling off period, there are solutions that neither the government nor the judiciary seems interested in.


Public interest litigation is another tool that judges are making use of to send messages to the government. By taking populist stances devoid of any legality, judges are indirectly championing the cause of the government. Take for instance former CJI Dipak Misra’s orders on mandatorily playing the national anthem in cinema halls, which came at a time when Hindutva groups were upping the nationalism rhetoric ahead of the state elections.

While analysing the root cause of why so many judges are not hesitant to be seen pandering to the government, legal scholars lay the blame on the advent of public interest litigation that brought populism to the court.

It is then perhaps telling that Justice P.N. Bhagwati, the judge credited with cementing the PIL jurisprudence, wrote to Indira Gandhi congratulating her on returning to power.

Lack of accountability

For judges of high courts, a public outcry or attention to such mind-numbing orders can thwart their chances of being elevated to the Supreme Court.

The constitutional framework for dealing with errant judges is only impeachment, a complicated political process involving Parliament. While the judiciary has interpreted the Constitution to expand its role and draw more powers, it has done nothing to make itself accountable. The judiciary has simply looked away when judges have made sexist, casteist, xenophobic and sometimes even utter nonsensical remarks.

Between impeachment and doing nothing, there is a complete lack of accountability that is often encouragement for judges like Sen. In contrast, a Canadian Federal judge who made utterly sexist remarks in a rape trial was ultimately forced to resign after a massive protest from civil rights groups. He later stood trial for his jaw-dropping misogynistic conduct.

Bar Associations have to play a role in calling out such judges and must refuse to appear before them. More public scrutiny on what judges say and do also makes judges sit up and take notice.


There is a need for a better institutional framework to periodically gauge and evaluate the conduct of judges. Till then, calling them out in public, like it has happened in Sen’s case this week, seems to be the only solution till institutional solutions are brought in.

Courtesy –

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Vedanta Sterlite Plant May Reopen As Green Court Cancels Tamil Nadu Order #WTFnews

Vedanta Sterlite plant: The National Green Tribunal or NGT also directed the company to spend Rs. 100 crore within a period of three years for the welfare of people in the area

Vedanta Sterlite Plant May Reopen As Green Court Cancels Tamil Nadu Order

NGT order came months after Tamil Nadu ordered Sterlite Copper to be shut down

CHENNAI: The country’s green court NGT court set aside today the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close Vedanta’s copper smelter plant permanently, taking the company closer to reopening its facility in Tuticorin.

The decision came months after it was ordered shut by the Tamil Nadu government over alleged pollution that led to violent protests in May, which culminated when police opened fire on protesters and killed 13.

The court directed the Tamil Nadu state pollution regulator to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent for Vedanta’s copper smelter within three weeks. It also directed the company to spend Rs. 1 crore within a period of three years for the welfare of inhabitants in the area. During the NGT hearing, the smelter’s counsel said the amount may be spent on projects like water supply, hospital, health services and skill development.

“We allow this appeal, set aside the impugned orders and direct the TNPCB (Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board) to pass a fresh order of renewal of consent and authorisation to handle hazardous substances … within three weeks from today,” the National Green Tribunal said in the order.

A panel of experts set up by the NGT last month said the authorities in Tamil Nadu had failed to comply with procedures before shutting down the smelter.

The AIADMK government in the southern state led by Chief Minister E Palaniswami and other parties are against the plant’s operation.

Tamil Nadu’s environment minister KC Karuppannan said the state would file an appeal against the verdict in the Supreme Court. “Our stand is clear: we do not want this smelter to reopen,” Mr Karuppannan told reporters after the court order.

Electricity to the Sterlite plant was snapped when the plant was shut down in May this year. The NGT said power should be restored to the plant if it met certain conditions such as protection of environment under the law.

The NGT’s order is a setback for locals, environment activists say. They alleged that the Sterlite plant had been polluting groundwater and making people fall ill with serious diseases

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Maharashtra – Court extends activist’s relief from arrest

The police alleged that they had links with Maoists who had backed the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017.

Gautam Navlakha

 Gautam Navlakha

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Friday extended till January 10, the interim protection from arrest granted to activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case.

A bench of Justices B.P. Dharmadhikari and Sarang Kotwal also restrained the police from arresting activist and co-accused Anand Teltumbde till December 17. The bench said it would hear in detail the arguments on Teltumbde’s petition seeking quashing of the FIR. The court, however, refused to grant any interim relief to activist Stan Swamy who too has been named in the FIR but is yet to be arrested.

The Pune police, whi-ch is probing the case, informed the court that Swamy was still being treated as a “suspect” and not an accused. The judges said in that case he could not be granted any protection. Navlakha, Teltumbde and Swamy have moved the high court seeking that the FIR against them be quashed. Navlakha was arrested in August this year along with Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, all left-wing activists.

The police alleged that they had links with Maoists who had backed the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune


On December 31, 2017. Inflammatory speeches at the conclave led to violence at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial in Pune district the next day, the police claimed.agencies

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Gandhi Falls in Ghana as University Topples Statue Donated by India


Ghanaian professor: “This is part of a greater movement for black dignity and self-respect”

ACCRA, Ghana: Dec. 13, 2018 — Ghanaians made history this week when they tore down a statue of Indian icon Mohandas Gandhi.

Installed on the University of Ghana campus in June 2016 during a state visit by then Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, the statue immediately provoked outrage from students and faculty who protested that Gandhi was racist towards black Africans. Pointing to the 21 years that Gandhi spent working as an attorney in South Africa, they claimed he repeatedly made racist remarks, campaigned for racial segregation, and even volunteered to participate in a war against African freedom fighters. In the words of Dr. Obadele Kambon, a professor at the university’s Institute of African Studies, “The start of institutional apartheid there in South Africa was because of Gandhi.”

In October 2016, the government agreed to remove the statue. However, the Ghana Gandhi statue remained in place until December 12, 2018, when, according to sources at the university, it was toppled “somewhere after 9AM.” Pictures of the removal show workers tethering ropes to the statue to pull it down as the base cracks away from the pedestal on which it stood. News reports indicate that the statue was taken to the Republic of Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its final resting place remains unknown.


University of Ghana Gandhi statue (left); Dr. Obadele Kambon stands triumphant on the empty pedestal (right)

“We hope this Gandhi statue will be relegated to the rubbish bin,” says Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “From this point in history, Gandhi’s visage should only ever be displayed to tell the story of the suffering of the African people, expose the villains, and commit ourselves to never again countenancing such criminal acts of prejudice as were perpetrated by this ardent racist. This is a truly historical moment. We will not stop pushing until the #GandhiMustFall movement goes global and we see Gandhi’s statues toppling on every continent.”

Commenting on the removal of the statue, Dr. Kambon remarks, “This is part of a greater movement for black dignity and self-respect throughout the world. The same as the National Anthem protest in the U.S., the same as #RhodesMustFall in South Africa and Oxford, the same as the protests of black students who are beaten and stabbed daily there in India by those who consider themselves upper-caste Indo-Aryans.”

With hope in his voice, Kambon adds, “Black self-respect is on the rise. In addition to that, what this means is that we have more people who care about black dignity and black self-respect than those who would like to trample on our dignity and self-respect.” However, he suggests the struggle continues as he references “our colleagues there in Malawi, who did a court injunction” against a proposed statue in the Malawian city of Blantyre.

The Malawi Gandhi statue, which has not yet been installed, has also provoked outrage. Soon after learning of the proposed statue, Malawians launched a petition opposing it and, in October, filed a lawsuit to block its installation. A high court in Malawi granted an injunction prohibiting construction from continuing until Judge Michael Tembo reaches a final decision. His decision is expected sometime this month.

In a statement issued by the #GandhiMustFall Movement in Malawi, activists opposing the statue said, “We want to congratulate the #GandhiMustFall Movement in Ghana for successfully removing the statue of Gandhi. In 2016, the government of Ghana through a petition agreed to remove the statue of Gandhi from the premises of Ghana University. Two years later, the statue of Gandhi was still standing until today — 12th December! We hope the Malawi government will also follow suit to banish the racist and irrelevant statue of Gandhi in Malawi.”

Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs, thinks there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the issue of Gandhi’s statues. “These statues have been used as propaganda tools by the Indian State for decades,” says Friedrich. “The combination of Gandhi’s self-promotional autobiography, glamorization of Gandhi by the Congress Party, and mythologizing of Gandhi by Hollywood created an ahistorical, saintly, and white-washed figure that the Indian government loves to use a mask to conceal its atrocious human rights record. People look at India, think of Gandhi, and then think of peace instead of looking at India and thinking of caste, torture, or pogroms against minorities. Deconstructing the mythical Gandhi is central to exposing the truth about human rights conditions in modern India.”

#gandhimustfall gandhi statue davis

Signs at October 2016 protest against Davis, California Gandhi statue reference Ghana Gandhi statue

Bhajan Singh, the founding director of OFMI, says the human rights advocacy group initiated some of the earliest protests against Gandhi after reading books by G. B. Singh, a former colonel in the U.S. Army. “It was Gandhi: Behind the Mask of Divinity and Gandhi Under Cross-Examination, books by Col. Singh, which first ignited this crisis that has now developed into a global agitation,” says Singh. “Since 2010, OFMI has staged protests against Gandhi statues. We have stopped installation of several proposed statues, but the statue in Ghana is the first one ever to be removed.”

Singh was joined by a number of other demonstrators at a protest in San Francisco on October 2, 2010, which marked Gandhi’s 141st birthday. As reported by The San Francisco Chronicle:

A group billing itself as the Organization for Minorities of India plans to protest today to demand the removal of the bronze statue of Mohandas Gandhi that has sat in the plaza behind the Ferry Building since 1988.

Up until this point, about the only adversity the statue has faced has been people swiping the trademark circle-rimmed eyeglasses (at least four times) and the indignity of a roosting seagull or pigeon.

But the group – which says it was formed four years ago to publicize the oppression of Christians, Buddhists, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs and other Indian minorities considered to be on the lowest rungs of the Hindu caste system – says Gandhi was a racist who harbored violent urges.

“The popular image of Gandhi as an egalitarian pacifist is a myth,” Bhajan Singh, one of the organizers, said in a statement. “We plan to challenge that myth by disseminating Gandhi’s own words to expose his racism and sham nonviolence.”

The group plans to present Ferry Building management with a demand to remove the statue and ask for it to be replaced with one of either Martin Luther King Jr. or low-caste Dalit leader B.R. Ambedkar.

In an interview with MyJoyOnline TV, Dr. Kambon offered extensive comments explaining Ghanaian opposition to Gandhi:

When the government said that they would take the statue away, it was clear that it was a move to make everything die down because people were very incensed and angry about this. Some even took [Gandhi’s] spectacles. When I looked a few weeks ago, someone had thrown mud at this statue. So in terms of the timing, we haven’t got any communication from the government or the university about why now. So I’m not equipped to answer that question.

But all I can say is that I’m very happy that this is taking place right now because what this means is a triumph of black dignity and self-respect over those who don’t care about any of those things.

Gandhi duped many great people, as a matter of fact, because it wasn’t until 1999 or thereabouts that all of his collected writings were available. So he was writing in Hindi, he was writing in his native Gujarati, in addition to what he wrote in English — the autobiography and things of that nature. So all of these people who say, “oh, wow, he is so great” — you have to put him in context of who was he in relation to black people and in relation to African people.

Who he was is that he was someone who fought against the Zulus. He was someone who fought for apartheid and the separation of the post office and the telegraph office there in Durban. He was someone who was called there in India as the worst enemy of the Dalits by Dr. Ambedkar — so the Dalits are the black Untouchables of India.

So this is someone who we have to understand that, even if he was great for his own people — meaning the upper-caste Hindus — that he was someone who was terrible to black people throughout his entire life. Both during his time in South Africa and then when he went to India he fought tooth and nail against the aspirations of the Dalits — the black Untouchables of India. Which is why to even this day, black people, African people, Nigerians, Ghanaians are there and they are beaten every day. There was a Congolese man who was beaten to death in broad daylight in India. Why? Because he gets the same treatment as the indigenous black Dalits of India.

So this is something that we have to understand. There’s a saying that, if a lie takes a thousand years to go on a journey, truth will catch up to that lie in a day. So all of these lies about Gandhi get proliferated just because people didn’t know. If you mention Mandela, if you mention Martin Luther King, if you mention Nkrumah Kwame — all these people didn’t have the opportunity to research and read his words about black people in his early life and his later life and the consistency of it. If they had that opportunity, they would have taken a different stance.

But myself, as a researcher, I am a research coordinator of African Studies, so I’m paid by the Ghanaian people to do research. I’m not guessing about Gandhi. I’m not guessing about what he stood for. I’ve read his works. I’ve read all of these different collected works of Gandhi, and books on him, and what Dr. Ambedkar said about him in What Gandhi and the Congress Have Done to the Untouchables. So me, I’m very well-informed. So anyone who has this information and comes to a different conclusion, it means that they don’t mean well for black people. But most people just are uninformed and they do not know.

He did good things, if you want to call them good, for his upper-caste. When he wrote to the British, he said that the Indo-Aryans come from a common stock and that they are partners in the colonization of black people. This is what he stood for. He stood for his caste, the Bania caste, which is those who are the traders, which is a sub-group of the Vaishyas.

So we have to again understand this. It’s not only what he said or what he wrote. He actually was a Sergeant-Major fighting against the Zulus in a war in which thousands and thousands of Zulu people were killed. He wanted to get guns. He agitated to get guns. It was only that the British didn’t consider him to be good enough to get the guns.

So we have to understand not only the words but his actions. Look at how he argued in order to separate the post office and the telegraph office there in Durban. How many people are aware that he did that? This is really, when we think about it, you can look at this as the start of institutional apartheid there in South Africa was because of Gandhi. He wanted a different entrance so he wouldn’t have to go through the same entrance as the Kaffir.

What he did, he did for his caste and he did for Indo-Aryan people.

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Kaiga nuclear plant expansion: Expect body blow for Western Ghats biodiversity

Rich tropical forest, vibrant wildlife, water of Kali river will be in line of destruction

Nuclear Energy

The Satoddi waterfall in the Western Ghats, in Uttara Kannada district, where the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant is also located. Credit: Getty Images  The Satoddi waterfall in the Western Ghats, in Uttara Kannada district, where the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant is also located. Credit: Getty Images

The biodiversity of the Western Ghats, already under a lot of anthropogenic pressure, will suffer even more if the expansion of the Kaiga Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which is to come up for public hearing on December 14, goes ahead. That this will be done for generating power through a technology that has several alternative and much benign options is even more ironical.

To understand this, an overview of the related issues is necessary.

In May 2017, the Union government decided to commission ten nuclear power reactors of the type Pressurised heavy-water reactor (PHWR) of 700 MW capacity each in different parts of the country. Two of the ten PHWR type reactors are proposed at the Kaiga NPP, in Karnataka’s Uttara Kannada district.

Let us first consider the terrain around Kaiga NPP. It is made of undulating hills covered with thick forests as an important part of the Western Ghats (WGs) on the west coast of India. According to a 2011 report by the Union Ministry of Environment & Forests, the forests around Kaiga NPP, a World Heritage site, are considered to be some of the best tropical forests in the world with very high ecological value, rich tropical bio-diversity and many kinds of unique species. The hill ranges of the WGs, of which these forests are critical parts, are  considered as the backbone of the ecology and economy of South India, and are also very good carbon sequestration systems in addition to being the water fountains of Peninsular India.

In view of the fact that the existing transmission lines (4 lines of 400 kV rating) to evacuate power from Kaiga NPP will not be adequate for the new capacity of 1,400 MW, there will be a need for additional transmission lines to evacuate the additionally generated electricity. These new lines may require the clearance of a 75 metre-wide corridor for more than 100 km for the right of way. This means the destruction of many sq kms of thick tropical forest of very high ecological value not only for the WGs, the state of Karnataka, and the country, but to the global environment itself because of the good Carbon sequestration capability of the thick forests in the tropics. The total cost (both direct and indirect costs) of such a destruction of tropical forests will be incalculable from the ecological perspective to India, whereas the benefits of the additional electricity from the expanded project will be negligible from the country’s projected power sector capability by 2030 (year by which the two reactors may get commissioned).

The forest cover in the Uttara Kannada district, where Kaiga is located, has come down from a high of about 70 per cent of the land area in the 1950s to less than 25% now due to various ‘development projects’ including the Konkan Railway, Sea-Bird naval base, national highways, industries, many dam-based hydel projects, and the Kaiga NPP since 2000. As against the National Forest Policy (adopted in the 1980s) target of 33 per cent land cover by forests & trees, Karnataka’s forest & tree cover at present is less than 20 per cent for which the forests of Uttara Kannada district are major contributors. Any further loss of such rich forests in the WGs can spell doom not only to the drought-prone state of Karnataka, but to the whole of Peninsular India, for which the WGs are considered as water fountains.

As per the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) IV Assessment Report, “the emissions from deforestation are very significant—they are estimated to represent more than 18 per cent of global emissions”. It also says, “Curbing deforestation is a highly cost-effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

At a time when the mitigation aspects of climate change have occupied the minds of global leaders, it is a moot point to consider how rational it will be to loose many sq km of thick tropical forest around Kaiga NPP for the sake of a technology, for which there are many benign and much less costly alternatives. While the nationwide efforts to plant tree saplings are laudable, the same cannot replace the rich original tropical forests. It would be unacceptably destructive.

The increase in nuclear power capacity by 2.6 times at Kaiga NPP should also mean an additional fresh water demand on the Kali river, which is flowing adjacent to the project, by a similar magnitude. If this also leads to an increase in the temperature of the discharged water from the project back to the river, it should be a matter of concern from the perspective of the creatures dependent on that river.

Due to the increased volume of the used-water discharge from the project, the pollution level of the river water downstream of the project is likely to go up, despite the claims of project authorities on water purification processes to be deployed. It is a moot point as to what impact will this distorted quality of river will have on the concerned stakeholders. It is impossible to imagine that it will be beneficial from any perspective.

The impact of the vastly increased radiation density (because of the 2.6 times increase in nuclear reactor activity?) on the bio-diversity and the people working and living in the project area cannot be anything but negative. Additionally, the risk of any unfortunate nuclear accident can only multiply because of the need to store on site the vastly additional quantity of highly radioactive spent fuel for hundreds of years (India has no policy as yet to store the spent nuclear fuel and other associated wastes away from the nuclear reactor site).

In summary, the expansion of Kaiga will be catastrophic for the biodiversity of the area, which in turn will have effects on Karnataka, India and even the world. It will be a travesty of social and environmental justice, and the violation of the provision of the country’s Constitution to allow the diversion of more than 54 hectares of dense forest land of very high ecological value, and 6,346 cubic metre per hour of fresh water which can meet the daily needs of more than a million people to this enormously risky project.

Clearly, Karnataka and India can do without so much destruction. The costs of the expansion of Kaiga are unacceptable and just not worth it. The government should give serious thought before taking any further decisions on the project.

Shankar Sharma is a power policy analyst and professional electrical engineer with over 38 years of experience in India, Australia and New Zealand

ciurtesy- down to earth

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Writing A Book On The Gujarat Riots Taught Me Hate Can Be Rejected, Says Revati Laul

‘The Anatomy of Hate’ attempts to get into the minds of the perpetrators of the 2002 violence, and the ones who celebrated as human beings lay dying around them.

This famous photo from 2002 shows a Bajrang Dal activist who, years later, called the Gujarat riots a "mistake" and apologised for his role in them.

This famous photo from 2002 shows a Bajrang Dal activist who, years later, called the Gujarat riots a “mistake” and apologised for his role in them.

Many books have been written about the Gujarat riots of 2002 in the years since then—these include hard-hitting investigations that exposed holes in the official version of events and poignant narratives that examined living in the aftermath of violence. Now, a new book by journalist and filmmaker Revati Laul attempts to get into the minds of the perpetrators of the violence, and the ones who celebrated as human beings lay dying around them.

The Anatomy of Hate, published by Context/Westland, has three protagonists—a man who rejected the hatred he grew up with when he began working with Muslims, one who was part of some of the most heinous crimes committed by the mob, and another who burnt down houses belonging to Muslims in 2002 and later rebuilt them.

“We all live in the company of stories that validate us. But there are no stories that describe the guilt and fear of having been part of a crime,” said Laul, who is based in New Delhi.

In an email interview with HuffPost India, Laul spoke about why she wanted to understand hate and how she realised that “extreme prejudice” could be unlearned.

Edited excerpts:

It’s been 16 years since the Gujarat riots. What drew you back to write about them?

I think the violence of 2002 formed the base, the new saffron roots for our current politics. And while we’ve talked endlessly about the rise of the right, the lynch mobs and the politics of hate, we don’t really know much about the people who made up those mobs. We know the effect of the hate crimes, we know the politics and surround sound of it because now we are all living with it. But we don’t know what makes a mind turn,the emotional Richter scale of someone growing up in the 1980s and 1990s who is drawn to the Sangh. We don’t know what makes that person take part in the massacres of 2002. And we also don’t know what happens to this individual after. And until we can step into those shoes or try and look closer, we don’t really understand hate. So how can we expect to change it?

But this is gyan that came to me in the course of my research and reading on the subject. The reason I am writing this started out as a story that fell into my lap by sheer coincidence, 15 years ago. I was NDTV’s Gujarat correspondent in the year 2003, one year after the riots. And everywhere I went, everyone amongst the Hindu middle class would say to me over and over – “Behn, aapko samajh me nahi aayega ki humney bawaal ka support kyun kiya (You will never understand why we supported the mob violence)” That made me stop in my tracks and ask myself this: ‘What is the point of all the work I do as a journalist if I am always preaching to the converted?’ But on the other hand, how do I reach out to the other side—to people who don’t think like me, without preaching from a pulpit, without talking down to them or being patronising?

The answer fell into my lap a year later, when I met a man who made me change almost everything I knew about mass violence. He was finishing a master’s in social science when the riots happened. And he went around town as Gujarat burned with his friends voyeuristically, to watch the action. He said to me, “All of Gujarat was cut into two halves during the riots—those who were being cut and killed and those who were out celebrating. I was on the side of those who were celebrating.” Once the violence abated, this man had finished his degree and started to look for a job. With a social science background, the obvious choice was to look in NGOs since this was a sector that was just opening up—international NGOs and the possibility of a decent salary. So after cheering on the destruction of Muslims, this man got a job in an NGO that was rehabilitating them. And that’s when his whole world came apart. He started to see how the diet of hate he had been brought up on was built on entirely false pretexts. He was confronted every day with Muslims that did not fit the description he had carried around with him—the Satanic people who did everything upside down. And this confrontation with reality was terrifying. When I met him, he was undergoing a metamorphosis. And this meant he had to tell himself that everything he was brought up with was a lie. Rejecting that was almost impossible. It meant cancelling out everyone from his life. When I heard his story I was transfixed. Why had I never imagined that hate and extreme prejudice was not fixed? That it could change. And in describing it as fixed, was I guilty of fixing it?

We all live in the company of stories that validate us. But there are no stories that describe the guilt and fear of having been part of a crime. So where does the middle class that isn’t proud of what they’ve done go? To the politics that says it’s okay to forget, it’s okay to pretend everything is fine. And we aren’t allowing for any other conversations either. Most of all, this man answered the question I had asked myself. How do you reach out to the other side? By telling them their own stories, with all the attendant guilt and fear and uncertainty. Certainty is a fascist space. It is absolute, it leaves no room for openness, for conversation.

When I heard his story I was transfixed. Why had I never imagined that hate and extreme prejudice was not fixed? That it could change. And in describing it as fixed, was I guilty of fixing it?

But it took me ten years to convince this man to let me tell his story. Because it means stoking the pain, opening up the wounds that had healed. Finally, he let me in to that world and I knew this was it.

Your book focuses on the lives of three perpetrators of the riot. What did their stories reveal to you?

So having stumbled onto the light end of the spectrum that made up the mob, and got the first of three protagonists to agree to let me tell his story, I moved to Gujarat in 2015 to find other stories. I had to see what the other end of the spectrum looked like. Which led me to the story of Suresh. His story attracted me for two reasons. He committed some of the most heinous crimes from 2002. He raped women and children and was part of the mob that pulled out the foetus from a pregnant woman. But for me, what was key in Suresh’s story was to look past the hideousness of his crimes to what lay underneath. He bragged about his crimes to an investigative journalist. The bragging was my clue to the real story. Suresh wasn’t just a singular entity. He represented the collective fantasies of a large group of people who wanted him to do what he did. His bragging gave him popular support. It fulfilled the group’s fantasies. So what was that group that supported Suresh? And why? And there was another equally bewildering reason to write about Suresh. He committed these crimes against Muslims while being married to a Muslim woman. By the time I finished researching Suresh’s story, what I found was this. It disturbed me not because I didn’t understand where he came from, but because I did.

How do you reach out to the other side? By telling them their own stories, with all the attendant guilt and fear and uncertainty

In between the man who underwent a metamorphosis and Suresh, is the story of a third person. He came from an extremely underdeveloped part of Gujarat and is from the Bhil tribe. He burned down houses of Muslims in 2002. And later rebuilt them. Through him, I ask the question—if the only way for this man to move out of extreme poverty and the drudgery of farming in a time of diminishing returns was to associate with the Sangh, with the umbrella of Hindu right wing groups, what was he supposed to do? If we want people to act differently, are we creating alternatives for them to support themselves? And most of all, what gave him his sense of self?

By the time I finished researching Suresh’s story, what I found was this. It disturbed me not because I didn’t understand where he came from, but because I did.

Tell us a little about the reporting and writing process that went into the making of your book.

Much like my protagonists, I did all my research and writing from a place of great fear. I didn’t think I could get this done. I didn’t have the resources to stay in Gujarat for three years, I didn’t think I had the nuance or the writing skills. I had to battle my way through each of these and it was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. It was the biggest emotional churn I have ever put myself through. Let me illustrate this with one example. I realized towards the end of my writing that I was writing about violence because it is also the pivot around which my own life revolves—professionally and personally. I have lived in fear of my father growing up, he was a scary man to be around. Wonderful and intimidating with an underlying anger and latent violence that was always present. In asking my protagonists to empty themselves out, I had to empty myself out. I had to turn the gaze on myself in order to let go of my fears one by one, draft by draft, until, I think, the eighth and final one that is now the book. Serious food binges, outbursts with friends, lovers and family, meltdowns were all in the mix and if I knew that this is what I had signed up for, I may never have done this. On the other hand, I am a masochist.

The Gujarat riots are, thus far, one of the last widespread acts of mass violence spanning many cities in the state. Since then, the model seems to have changed to smaller, more localised conflicts that still seem to have similar social, political, and economic effects—the sole exception being a lower immediate death toll.

The Gujarat riots changed the course of our political history. It brought the politics of hate from the fringe to centrestage. Having achieved that, it was perhaps only possible for this model to sustain itself as a national model in a mutated form. But this suggests that the entire political trajectory was planned or that the Sangh is a singular, cohesive unit, which it’s not. It tries to be but nothing in this country can ever be a singular conversation, not even this. So the way I see it is this: the Sangh is both hyper-planned and very arbitrary. They have probably become much more cautious about supporting or enabling mobs where there is the possibility of legal tangles and court cases slapped on them. We seem to have moved into a similar space as Pakistan was under Benazir Bhutto. Where she came in on the strength and support of various non-state actors and warlords and had to give into their arbitrariness ever after.

But I also look at this another way. The writing of this book has made me acutely aware of the fact that we are a non-normative society. We don’t do anything by the book. Therefore power also lies outside officially mandated spaces. So it would be a mistake to look only at what the Sangh says and not at how people often use them selectively and disregard some of what they sign up for and pay obeisance to what they must. Therefore, the large factory of hate, having been built in 2002, does not need to replicate itself whole. But enable start-ups and franchises and also overlook the misdemeanours of rogue elements that are also their supporters.

The writing of this book has made me acutely aware of the fact that we are a non-normative society. We don’t do anything by the book. Therefore power also lies outside officially mandated spaces.

It would, therefore, be instructive to look at the mutating forms of hate in terms of what they do to disrupt their original model. Does the splitting away of Pravin Togadia from the VHP mean anything? Are there various political rivals working at cross-purposes in the BJP? And what does the average person do after voting for the BJP in an election? Does the MLA in a Gujarat state assembly have the same real power today as she did in 2002? Or has the political perception shifted to a much more centrist space where state assemblies may see themselves as beholden to the centre more now than two decades ago? If this is even partly true, then why do we often write about these elections as if it’s the same kind of power game when the power centres may have shifted?

What are your thoughts on this present moment we are living through—where then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi is now Prime Minister, and a Bajrang Dal leader is the prime accused in the killing of a cop?

I think this is a time for all of us in the middle class—you who reads this piece, me who is speaking to you, to look closely at the everyday that makes up the anatomy of hate. If we choose not to talk to people like ourselves, are we condemning ourselves to shrinking the liberal space? Are we perpetuating what we don’t want despite ourselves? What sort of conversations do we need to have that are different if we want a different politics? And that must start by looking past Modi at what he is standing on. At the politics we have willed ourselves into. And the various disaggregated and shaky parts of the edifice this establishment stands on.

What’s one other book—related or unrelated—that you would urge our readers to pick up?

Please do read Mahmood Mamdani’s When Victims Become Killers—Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, published by Princeton University Press in 2001. He bends all previous writing on genocides and mass violence and explains how the ordering of people into categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’—original inhabitants and settlers—is a colonial phenomenon. Colonisers could only see people as outsiders and insiders because they were outsiders. So they used this gaze to create and re-order people they conquered further into categories of us and them. And it has led to the kind of post-colonial polarization, mass violence and re-ordering of histories from the Hutus and Tutsis of Rwanda to the Hindus and Muslims in India. He also gave me the talisman I used as the reference point for my writing. It appears right at the start of the book, on page 8, in fact. And it is this. “We may agree that genocidal violence cannot be understood as rational; yet, we need to understand it as thinkable. Rather than run away from it, we need to realise that it is the “popularity” of the genocide that is its uniquely troubling aspect.” It isn’t the individual crimes in 2002 or in the singular act of a tiny mob in Bulandshahr this week that needs explaining as much as the group aspect of it.

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India – Artist Subodh Gupta a serial sexual harasser: Co-worker #MeToo

Leading contemporary artist Subodh Gupta has been accused of repeated sexual misconduct by a former co-worker and other women in an anonymous online post.

Describing Gupta as a “serial sexual harasser”, the author of the post alleged “multiple inappropriate advances and unwanted touching… even after clearly saying no”. The accusation was posted on the Instagram account, Scene and Herd, which has been exposing sexual misconduct in the Indian art world. Known best for massive installations made with everyday objects, Delhi-based Gupta has shown and sold his work across the world.

The post recounted multiple instances of sexual misconduct with young women “who had worked with or for him”, including repeatedly asking an assistant to pose nude “even after clearly being refused every time” and offering massages to women working with him. The post said he “grabbed the hand, touched the stomach, breasts, shoulders, pulled at bra straps, rubbed the thighs, even after the woman pulled away”.

“On a different occasion, when confronted by an assistant who witnessed his behaviour, he responded, ‘she just looked so sexy. Ok, maybe, write one email saying sorry, I got too drunk, will that make it ok? I’m the artist, and she just works as an assistant, it should be ok no? What do you think?” the post read.

Attempts to reach Gupta, who will make his debut as a curator at the forthcoming Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, were unsuccessful. Festival organisers said they had not issued a statement. Earlier, allegations of sexual misconduct were made on the same handle against Kochi-Muziris Biennale co-founders Jatin Das and Riyas Komu and Sotheby’s India MD Gaurav Bhatia. Komu and Bhatia stepped down from their positions, pending inquiry.

Subodh Gupta denies sexual harassment allegations, steps down as Goa fest curator

Responding to the allegations, Serendipity Arts Festival also issued a statement, informing that the artist will not be present at the December 15-22 event and had stepped down from position of a curator.

A day after allegations of repeated sexual misconduct surfaced against Subodh Gupta, the high profile contemporary artist stepped down as co-curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa on Friday and denied that he had indulged in any inappropriate behaviour.

The claims of sexual harassment are “entirely false and fabricated”, Gupta told PTI in a statement after a former co-worker recounted the alleged experiences of several women on social media and an art writer came forward to corroborate their stories “as a witness”.

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