The Invisible, Unimportant, Expendable Pedestrian

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

While walking home in Panjim on the riverfront road from Campal to Miramar recently, I found I could not walk on the pavement. Now this road, originally the Rua de Boa Vista, renamed the Avenida de Republica, and re-renamed the Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, is perhaps the nicest road in Goa, perhaps even in all South Asia, thanks to its broad and accessible pavements, canopy of shady rain trees, road dividers, and service roads. But the pavements were completely occupied that night by parked cars. Pedestrians were forced to walk on the road, squashed between the parked and the speeding cars.

 

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Racism: Theory and Practice

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

How can we forget Atithee devo bhava (the guest is god), that pillar of Indian culture? Such was the lament from some sections of the Indian media following the latest murderous attacks on Africans, this time in Noida and triggered by the death of a local teenager. Five Nigerian students in the neighbourhood were arrested after being accused by locals of everything from drugging the boy to eating him, following which mobs began to search for and beat up other Africans, grievously injuring four men who were cornered in a mall. Except for arresting the Nigerians on charges of murder (they were later released for lack of evidence), and thus adding credence to the wild rumours going around, the police did nothing.

 

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Demonetisation, both Economic and Social

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

It seems to be Achche Din for attacks on the citizen, economic as well as social, open as well as insidious. The open one is of course the demonetisation of currency. In 50 days there will be a new India, claims the Prime Minister; the ATMs will take 21 days to function normally, say the banks. Such is the gap between the hot air spouted by our leaders, and the situation that is actually killing people on the ground. Enough people—including even the BJP itself in its earlier avatar as opposition to the Congress government’s small demonetisation attempt—have pointed out that demonetisation never fulfils its purported aim of attacking the black economy; what it does do however is to attack the poor. The real aims of demonetisation are reported to be actually something else: to provide a shot of income to banks that were critically in the red, and also to upset the cash calculations of other parties for the oncoming elections.

 

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Caste Atrocities in Goa: A Fight against Invisibilisation

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Goa has been making headlines of late for violent crime. But while there has been criticism of the over-the-top way in which many of these crimes are reported and discussed, it is much worse when the violence is not reported at all, when it is in fact ‘invisibilised’ and thus normalised. Many Goans might not even know that a community called the Wanarmari existed before the recent newspaper reports of an attack on their settlement in Nirakal-Bethoda, Ponda. But this incident was only the latest and most overt form of violence faced by this community, one of the most marginalised in Goa. As the Goa govt danced attendance on BRICS, where Modi swanned around as the leader of the ‘largest democracy in the world’, not half an hour away is a community of Goans who have never voted, besides being denied basic education, healthcare, jobs and housing.

 

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Z Axis 2016: Of Architectural Heritage and Contexts

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

‘Everything is our heritage’, was one of the memorable statements made at Z Axis 2016, the second conference on architecture organised last month by the Charles Correa Foundation (CCF) in Goa. It was said by Chinese architect Yung Ho Chang, while speaking about how he looked for inspiration to ancient China, Soviet-era China, Le Corbusier’s Chandigarh, Modernist Germany, and all buildings anywhere. At a time when attempts are on to force people in Goa and India into nationalist straitjackets of what is ‘our’ culture, diet, language, history, etc, it was refreshing to hear an argument for global heritage, even if only from the limited realm of architectural practice.

 

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Caste Atrocities in Goa: Give Us this Day… Our Land!

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By AMITA KANEKAR

 

Gayechi shepdi tumi doura,amkaam amchi zamin diya – such is the slogan (translated into Concani) of the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladayi Samiti, formed in Gujarat after the recent atrocity where 4 Dalit men were tortured by Gau Rakshaks, for disposing of dead cattle. Atrocities on Dalits are of course not new for South Asia; indeed they are the way of life for the brahmanical societies here. But, even as India rang to this new slogan, and other inspiring news from Gujarat where a vow has been taken by Dalit communities to forswear this occupation that they have traditionally been forced to do, leading to the dumping of cattle carcasses in front of government offices, Goa has been mostly silent. There was a small protest on 15 August in support of the Gujarat struggle, but, apart from this, one would imagine that Goa has nothing to do with such atrocities.

 

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