Archive for April 25, 2015

Stand up for responsible advertising, activists ask Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

aishwarya-rai-racist-ad

By Team FI

Following Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s PR agency’s defensive response, activists question the actress’ power to control the final output of the ad she is featured in and ask the actress to make a categorical statement for responsible and progressive advertising.

The PR Agency, Imagesmiths issued a statement claiming that the image was photo-shopped and the final layout of the advertisement was decided by the creative team.

Activists who had protested against the advertisement have replied with another open letter questioning the PR agency’s defensive position.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Archana Sadanand,

We were forwarded your message by Scroll.in, in response to our Open Letter to Mrs. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, about her association with a racist advertisement. Thank you very much for the message and implicit acknowledgement that there is a serious concern here.

With reference to the photo of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan that you have widely circulated, which was taken during the shoot itself (without the slave-child holding an umbrella), we have no doubt that this is in fact how many advertisements are shot, first with a single model, and then two or more images may be put together to create a final layout by a creative advertising team.

However, we equally have no doubt that a star of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s stature, and indeed even lesser known models, approve of the final image that will be put out in public. In your response you say that, “The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand.” We hope you are not in any way suggesting that a creative advertising team is free to do what they like once Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has done her photo shoot.

Do they really have the license to photoshop her image in ANY manner and simply put out the advertisement? She surely retains some measure, if not full control over her own public image projection. Your response makes it seem that a star like her is powerless, and her image is controlled entirely by the brand she endorses and the advertising agency. That seems not only disingenuous, but quite disrespectful to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. We do sincerely hope neither is the case, and feel compelled to ask if she herself has authorized you to project her in this manner, as the victim of a photo shoot beyond her control?

Therefore, this photo of the ‘actual’ shoot, without the slave-child, does little to absolve a star brand ambassador of responsibility for the advertisement as it has finally appeared – glorifying and creating desire around child slavery. This may not have been the intention, but has been a grave lapse.

As a corrective measure to this lapse, you have suggested in your response that you – “shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professional working on the brand visual communication.”

First, we do wish to disagree that this is simply a matter of ‘our viewpoint’ and we have in our Open Letter gone to great pains to demonstrate through photographic evidence the direct inspiration for this enduring fantasy image – which is colonial, racist portraiture of white women posing with black child slaves.

Second, this advertisement has already done much harm – both in terms of its racist and child slavery content, and in terms of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s image. We, therefore hope that she will respond with due consideration to the strong sentiment that has been evoked against her association with this advertisement. And, it is perhaps inadequate for the issue to be merely “taken into consideration by the creative team…,” as you have proposed.

May we therefore suggest that it would be far more constructive and befitting for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan to demonstrate that she is indeed fully in control of the ethics of her public image, and has the humility to acknowledge a lapse? Yes, she is a star. But, we hope she accepts her stardom with full sense of social responsibility, and has the power to acknowledge that she is also human and capable of error.

We request that you communicate to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan that she should play a visible role in ensuring withdrawal of this offensive image, and make it publicly known through a statement, that she has done so; making it explicit that she alone has the right to control her image; and stating categorically that she not only stands strongly against racism, slavery, and child labour of any kind, but also importantly stands for responsible and progressive advertising.

We do look forward to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s response on this.

Yours Sincerely,

Farah Naqvi, Writer and Feminist Activist
Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India
Enakshi Ganguly & Bharti Ali, Co-Directors, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights
Madhu Mehra, Executive Director, Partners for Law in Development
Shantha Sinha, former Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)
Harsh Mander, Centre for Equity Studies
Mridula Bajaj, Executive Director, Mobile Creches

open letter to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan

Activists call Aishwarya Rai Bachchan jewellery ad racist

Aishwarya-Rai-racist-ad

In an open letter to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, activists argue that the Kalyan Jewellers ad in which she features, is racist and legitimises slavery. The actress has issued a statement through her publicist stating that the ad is a photoshopped image and she was not aware of the changed background

Here is the full text of the letter:
Dear Mrs Aishwarya Rai Bachchan,

We write to draw your attention to a full-page advertisement for Kalyan Jewellers in which you feature that appeared in The Hindu (Delhi edition) on April 17, 2015. In the advertisement you appear to be representing aristocracy from a bygone era – bejewelled, poised and relaxing while an obviously underage slave-child, very dark and emaciated, struggles to hold an oversize umbrella over your head.

We wish to convey our dismay at the concept of this advertisement, and that you have, perhaps unthinkingly, associated with such a regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product. While advertisers routinely use fantasy images to sell products, they must surely desist from using images that condone, legitimise, normalise, or build desirable fantasy around slavery or servitude of any kind, including child slavery or child servitude. Further, the extremely fair colour of your skin (as projected in the advertisement) contrasted with the black skin of the slave-boy is obviously a deliberate “creative” juxtaposition by the advertising agency, and insidiously racist. The genealogy of this image can be traced back to 17th and 18th century colonial European portraits of white aristocracy, depicting women being waited upon by their black “servants”. We have copied some examples of these racist portraits below.

racist-adWe are fully aware that yours is an advertisement selling jewellery through creating a fantasy/desire, and not a portrayal of reality. Yet, advertisements and visuals are a critical part of our socio-cultural-psychological ecosystem and these ecosystems can either help create conditions in our mind that will foster positive social change or work against it. So, in this context, what is the social change we want? One, racism is a global reality, and we need to fight it. Two, though child labour in many industries is illegal in India, it is still rampant and we all need to work together to change this. Three, the Right to Education Act mandates that all children up to age 14 must be in school, and we need to make sure they are there and learning.

Given that we proclaim commitment to each of these goals, we urge you to look beyond the product itself and examine the fantasy/desire that this particular advertisement seeks to subliminally create.
The fantasy here, it seems, is – buying and wearing Kalyan Jewellery will create for a woman the feeling of living in an era where it is OK for dark-skinned little children from poor homes (hence, the malnourished child model) to be enslaved or pressed into servitude to pander to bejewelled women from the nobility; an era where slavery is not only socially acceptable but a slave is something to be flaunted – hence the portraiture style of the advertisement echoing the 17th and 18th century genre, which pointedly has noble ladies along with their child-slaves.

We draw your attention to a similar image (with a more contemporary feel) that was created by Pakistani designer Aamna Aqeel in May 2013 in her “Be My Slave” fashion shoot, depicting white models in high-end clothes being served by a dark child slave. The pictures, which appeared in DIVA, a Pakistani fashion and lifestyle magazine, were called tasteless and racist. One photo from that shoot is a structural mirror of the Kalyan Jewellers advertisement, and serves to illustrate how frighteningly enduring this slave fantasy is.

Today, many national and international movements are struggling to change at least the public culture that normalises child labour, a struggle that the Nobel committee has also recognised. We, therefore, hope you agree that this sort of advertisement – a romaticisation of child servitude to feed into elite fantasies – is extremely objectionable and avoidable.

As an influential member of the Indian film industry and a popular star with a large fan following, we trust that you wish to use your image in a manner that promotes progressive thought and action, and would not knowingly promote regressive images that are racist and go against child rights.

We, therefore, urge you to do the right thing – cease to associate yourself with this offensive image by ensuring that further use of this advertisement is stopped.

We also request that you, as a National Brand Ambassador for Kalyan Jewellers, circulate a considered public retraction, and thereby provide a positive example to others to learn from your reflection and reasoning for withdrawing from such an advertisement.

We would like to use this opportunity to try and create better, more progressive, advertising in the future, and sincerely hope we can continue to engage with you towards this end. We have sent a similar letter to Kalyan Jewellers.

We do look forward to your response and action on this.
Yours sincerely,

Farah Naqvi, Writer and Feminist Activist

Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India

Enakshi Ganguly & Bharti Ali, Co-Directors, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights

Madhu Mehra, Executive Director, Partners for Law in Development

Shantha Sinha, former Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

Harsh Mander, Centre for Equity Studies

Mridula Bajaj, Executive Director, Mobile Creches

Statement issued by Archana Sadanand, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s publicist
“Dear Farah Naqvi, Nisha Agrawal, Enakshi Ganguly , Bharti Ali, Madhu Mehra, Shantha Sinha, Harsh Mander and Mridula Bajaj,

On the onset we would like to thank you on drawing our attention to the observation of the perception of the advertisement. Here is an attachment of the shot taken by somebody during the shoot. The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand. However shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professional working on the brand visual communication. Thank you once againaishwarya-rai

Regards
Archana Sadanand, IMAGESMITHS( Publicist to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan)

Inmate’s hunger strike stops CCTV installations inside Mumbai jail women’s barracks

CCTV in Mumbai Jail

By Team FI
The Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) has released a press statement on the successful protest hunger strike undertaken by a 45-year-old political undertrial prisoner, Angela Harish Sontakke.

Imprisoned since April 2011, on charges of being a Maoist, Sontakke’s hunger strike was to stop the installation of CCTV cameras inside the women barracks.

The CPDR in its press release stated that “the installation of CCTV cameras within the women’s barracks in jails amounts to violation of the right to privacy and dignity which is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution. It is important to note that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that merely because a person is imprisoned, he does not lose all his fundamental rights. It is also most alarming that when a prisoner protests the violation of fundamental rights, she is isolated and threatened with action for obstructing officials from performing their duties!”

On 1st April, 2015, when Sontakke and other inmates found out that cameras were going to be installed, they had objected to it on the grounds that it would be a clear invasion of their privacy, “since women inmates change their clothes, apply medicines (as skin infections are rampant in the overcrowded condition of the jail) and in the height of summer without any fans, women use minimum clothes while sleeping in the barracks,” stated the press release. The women had no objections to objection to CCTV cameras at the entrance of the barracks, corridors, court yard, at the gate, steps and offices. It was also found out later that the government Circular had not ordered the installation of cameras within the women barracks.

Following the protest Angela Sontakke was moved to a private cell the very next day upon which she began the hunger strike. Since public holidays followed, no one visited her and she was only attended to on 4rth April, 2015. It was on 7th April that her demands were met and the hunger strike withdrawn.

Following is the full text of the statement
Mumbai (16.4.2015/ Press Statement)
Angela Harish Sontakke is a 45 year old political undertrial prisoner facing charges of being a Maoist party member who has been incarcerated since April 2011. Most of this period has been spent in Byculla Jail at Mumbai. Eight out of her 11 co-accused have been released on bail. Angela herself has been acquitted in 15 of the 16 additional cases foisted on her and has been granted bail in the 16th case. She has been denied bail in Sessions Case No. 655 of 2011 under various sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (a law akin to the draconian TADA & POTA) A highly educated lady, she has a double M.A. and has taught in various schools and colleges in Maharashtra.

Angela requested an urgent mulaqat, so, Maharukh Adenwalla and Susan Abraham, both lawyers, visited Byculla Jail on 8.4.2015 at 12 noon.

During mulaqat Angela informed that on 1.4.2015, male jail staff arrived at Barrack No. 3, women’s barrack (where Angela was lodged) with cables. When the inmates made enquiries, they were informed that CCTV cameras were going to be installed inside their barracks. Angela and the other inmates protested that this would be a clear invasion of their privacy since women inmates change their clothes, apply medicines (as skin infections are rampant in the overcrowded condition of the jail) and in the height of summer without any fans, women use minimum clothes while sleeping in the barracks. Angela also asked that they should be shown the notice allowing CCTVs inside the barracks.

The Jail Superintendent Mr Indurkar came to Barrack No. 3 in the evening and next day morning, and said that he was in no mood to hold discussions with the inmates, and accused Angela of instigating other inmates. He threatened to: (i) put her in 24 hour isolation and (ii) to put a case on her for not allowing jail officials to perform their duties. Angela and the other inmates explained that they have no objection to CCTV cameras at the entrance of the barracks, corridors, court yard, at the gate, steps and offices, but that they cannot be installed inside the barracks.

On 2nd April 2015, after bandhi, at around 6.30 p.m. about 10-12 jail staff came to Barrack No. 3 and took Angela away saying that she was being kept in a “separate” cell – obviously as punishment for opposing the CCTV installation. Angela protested by starting a hunger strike that evening itself. On 3rd April 2015, no jail staff came for rounds because of it being Good Friday and a public holiday. On 4th April 2015, Angela met the Chief Medical Officer and informed him that she was on a hunger strike. The Officer took her weight and taking note of her frail health, he informed the staff to inform the higher officers.

Angela also got to see a copy of the circular issued by Meera Borwankar, I.G., Prisons where it is stated that CCTV cameras ought to be installed at: (i) main gate; (ii) judicial office; (iii) High Security Cells; & (iv) mulaqat rooms. The Circular does not state that cameras should be installed inside the barracks.

Again there was no round taken by the jail staff the next day, i.e., 5th April 2015, as it was a Sunday. Angela was on continued hunger strike. On Monday 6th April 2015, when bandi was opened, (i.e., the jail inmates are allowed to come out from the barrack into the jail courtyard), all other inmates were told not to talk to Angela. Angela submitted her letter to a prison officer -that she was on a hunger strike and demanded that (i) the CCTV cameras not be installed inside the barracks; and (ii) that she be returned to the barracks. Instead of considering her demands, Angela was further punished by putting her in an “isolation” cell with no contact with other inmates.

Since Angela continued her hunger strike for the 5th day, and her weight had come down to 57 kgs., the Superintendent came to meet her on 7th April 2015, and told her that she was always obstructing measures he was trying to implement. She pointed out that she did not oppose measures which were in the interest of women inmates, and pointed out that CCTV cameras inside the barracks were in violation of women inmates’ right to privacy. He finally gave an assurance that he would consider. She was removed from the isolation cell by evening. Based on this, and the assurance given to her, Angela withdrew her hunger strike on that evening.

After the jail mulaqat of Angela, Maharukh and Susan met the Jail Superintendent, Mr Indurkar. They pointed out that installing CCTV cameras inside the barracks was a direct invasion of the inmates’ privacy and dignity. When Mr Indurkar explained that only women would operate the cameras, they pointed out that even women staff could misuse the footage and anyone else can easily have access to the footage.Mr Indurkar gave an assurance that he would consider their suggestions fairly.

CPDR believes that the installation of CCTV cameras within the women’s barracks in jails amounts to violation of the right to privacy and dignity which is a fundamental right guaranteed under the Constitution. It is important to note that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that merely because a person is imprisoned, he does not lose all his fundamental rights. It is also most alarming that when a prisoner protests the violation of fundamental rights, she is isolated and threatened with action for obstructing officials from performing their duties!

Issued by DR ANAND TELTUMDE, General Secretary, Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR)

Mumbai’s new development plan excludes women, allege activists

Mumbai-plan

By Team FI
Women activists, politicians and architects have written to Mumbai Municipal Corporation voicing their concern over the proposed city development plan for Mumbai 2014-34. Activists cutting across the party lines argue that the draft of the Plan completely ignores the gender aspect in planning for the future, stating that it “remains gender blind, not taking cognizance of the way half the population can access, benefit and grow in the city.”

The letter called the Corporation’s invitations to women’s groups to submit suggestions at the stage of planning a charade and mockery of the fact since they have ignored the several submissions made by women’s groups that would have helped India’s financial centre to become more women friendly.

Further, the letter stated their objections to some aspects of the plan and reiterated the suggestions the women groups had made at the planning stage.

Here is the full text of the letter
We undersigned women’s organisations and women members from political parties, women architects and urban planner would request you to consider our concerns regarding the proposed Development Plan. We have studied the draft Development Plan for Mumbai 2014-34 which has been uploaded by MCGM for suggestions and objections. We are aware of the debates around the DP which have amply highlighted concerns around differential FSI, lack of focus on affordable housing, dereserving heritage structures and potential loss of open spaces. We would like to raise our concerns on the lack of planning towards making the city women friendly.

The current draft of the Development Plan completely ignores the gender aspect in planning for the future. It has not taken note of the fact which is well accepted worldwide – that women and men use the city and its services/amenities differently. Even among women, experience and empirical studies have shown that women of different classes pursuing different socio-economic ends use the city in markedly different ways. For example, women hawkers, ragpickers, homemakers, students and professionals use the same road or market or garden at different times of the day/night and in different ways. In addition, with the inadequate provision of housing and amenities in the city, the most severely affected are often women. In addition, as an increasing number of women join the workforce, the city is inadequately planned to provide for them. Therefore planning must include the gender perspective for ensuring an equitable plan. Mumbai is perceived as a city of great opportunity, attracting students and workers from across the country. Many of these are young women.

The present version of the DP is a mockery of the fact that the BMC went through the charade of inviting all stakeholders, including women’s groups, at the stage of planning. Women’s groups made several submissions and participated in the process. We had demanded that all access to and use of public amenities and spaces in the existing land use be analysed from the gender perspective and appropriate inclusions made in the PLU. The objectives of the D.P (Pages 247 to 252) contain 19 strategies, but none that clearly strategize from the gender perspective. Goal No.2 (Creating an Inclusive city) should recognize that inclusionary zoning has to address gender needs as well. The PLU remains gender blind, not taking cognizance of the way half the population can access, benefit and grow in the city.

That the DP does not reflect people’s and women’s suggestions is a shame. Clear pro poor and gendered guiding framework, a continued supervision not only by the Municipal Corporation but also by State Authorities could have prevented this condition where there is an overwhelming demand from various quarters for total rehauling of the Development Plan.

The demand from the women’s groups, cutting across party lines and other spectrum, is simple: The DP when revised and finalised, must include the gender-based planning approach and include the gender perspective at all levels of the plans. Gender should not be an add on factor as part of the ancillary allocation but need to get included in primary allocations and should be a cross cutting axis.

Observations and remarks on the draft DP:

Below are some of the objections we would like to place to this DP and reiterations of the suggestions that were made earlier, arranged along six broad themes:

1. LOCAL AREA PLANS

If the current DP is taken into account, it becomes clear that official planners have merely focused on built environment and FSI, thus consigning other vital aspects of everyday life to “Local Area Plans”. There are too many uncertainties regarding how the areas coming under LAP are going to be identified, the agencies that will carry out the planning process and the time frames and implementation mechanisms and what would be the role of women in this decision making process.

All gender focused demands have been put in the ancillary provisions to be discussed later. Even in the situational analysis to be undertaken under Local Area Plans, there is no mention of identifying needs of women in the area. Such a focus directly emerges from a non-gendered understanding of the city. We want local area plans to be integral part of the proposed DP and not a process to be deliberated later and gender provisions need to be spelled out clearly.

The DP identifies 150 planning sectors, with ward boundaries as definitive limits. As a result, planning sectors have not been linked with electoral wards and thus the functioning of local area plans does not have a governance framework of accountability or of ensuring all citizens participation in decision making. This will definitely affect the role of those marginalised like women in the process of decision making.

The other major loophole suggested in section of DCR is the landpooling of land as development happens and is envisaged to lead to public amenities of varying kinds based on assessment of deficiencies in the area. With marginalized sections and women having very little say, there is a high probability that the reservations emerging from landpooling will remain exclusive, segregated and out of women’s reach unless specific guidelines for such inclusions are incorporated.

2. HOUSING
This DP seems to make no progress in going towards the aim of providing affordable housing to citizens. Not having this puts women in a particularly vulnerable position. Cities over the years have seen migration of single women and women headed households and city plans do not take any efforts to make affordable housing possible for these groups of women. The NSSO survey has brought out that 40% of houses in the city are vacant. This DP continues to propose increasing FSI as a means to create affordable housing even though past experience points to the failure of this logic.

The DP seems to be silent on the issue of rental housing. From the point of view of women, especially for single and women headed households, this is essential for any kind of access to housing within the city.
We welcome the move of marking slums as residential areas. However, we urge that these be marked as reservations for affordable housing for the residents who live on that settlement. It is critical for retaining live-work relationship which affects women in particular. Also given that the DP document itself puts slum population at nearly 45%, a Development Plan cannot bypass the planning for this vast number in the name of second tier planning.

The DCR 2034 speaks of ‘Inclusionary Housing’ as promoted by the MoHUPA. It has stated that 10% of 2000 sq m plots will be handed over to the MCGM for PAPs, livelihood restoration and for EWS/LIG housing. In the 10% land reserved for inclusionary housing and other amenities, it must be specified how these facilities created will benefit women.

3. HEALTH, EDUCATION, TRANSPORT, and OTHER AMENITIES
It has been well established in the absence of required resources, women are girls are compelled to seek public services for health and education. Robust public health, public education and public transport system are essential for inclusion of women in the city planning.

For open spaces the report refers to international norms and standards, but when it comes to amenities our bench marks are only against the 1991 DP. The report surprisingly states that amenity provision of health and education are more or less sufficient and only needs some improvement. This is not acceptable at all.

Mumbai is witnessing and reporting higher cases of assaults on women and girls. The DCRs related to roads and infrastructure should ensure safety of women.

Health
Our demands to the DP authorities have always been to map the public and private facilities separately, as the claim of nearly all residential areas in Mumbai having access to public healthcare is incorrect. The DP must demarcate private and public health facilities separately and then plan to increase the public hospitals especially in suburbs.There is a disparity in the spatial distribution of hospitals providing secondary and tertiary care.

One part of the city having about 28% of the population has 62% of the public beds & 49% of the private beds,whereas, the majority of the population in the Eastern and Western suburbs have inadequate beds.

DP must define localized plans and create network of maternity homes, post-partum centers,dispensaries, adolescent health centres, one stop crisis centre and primary health posts.

Sexual and reproductive health care facilities (in addition to maternity care) must be available at primary health care. The norms as laid down under NUHM for such swasthyachowkies must be clearly stated in the DP.

Education
Similarly in the case of pre-primary, primary schools and secondary schools, private schools are to be separated from public, and a re-assessment of public-government run amenity requirements should be reserved in DP.

According to NGOs working on education, more girls than boys are dropping out of schooling, a large number on account of the lack of public education services in the wards beyond the 7th std and the lack of neighborhood schools. The children who live in slums have to contend with space constraints and a lack of suitable atmosphere to study. If the city has to be competitive, education is key and investment by way of reserving land for schools, colleges and reading rooms should be a priority of the DP and this should be clearly marked.

The city have very few hostels for girls studying in the city and working women hostels. Both these facilities are highly insufficient with long waiting lists and new ones have to be planned.

Transport
It has been noted in the Preparatory Studies that walking and public transport trips account for nearly 88% of total trips. 51% of all trips are by walking and yet pedestrians are the most vulnerable group of commuters as 58% of traffic-related fatalities are pedestrians. There is no recognition that women commuters use the transport differently despite multiple presentation and enough data available internationally.

The World Bank study conducted in 2011 , pointed out that Women tend to make more trips by public transport (especially by buses) and during off-peak hours. it was observed that women made 45% more trips by bus than train, across income categories. Buses also formed a greater portion of women’s total trips than men’s total trips.

The report proposes a generous car space policy citing rising incomes which will push the car ownership ratio. But fails to suggest points to augment the public transport.

Bus, train terminuses should provide facilities such as waiting rooms and shelters for women who commute long distances on daily basis.

Other Amenities
Not only the land use but structural allocation also need to recognize women’s needs.

● Every community centre should have a women’s community centre within its institution.
● Working women’s hostels
● Women’s short stay homes to be made available in case of domestic violence
● Creche and day care centres for children have to be not specific to women but for all
● Land allocation / reservation for decentralized amenity clusters within 5-15 minutes walking distance. These should include public toilets, drinking water, reading rooms, day-care centres, pre-primary and primary health care facilities
● Night shelters should be separated as ‘general’ and ‘for women’

4. OPEN SPACES
Serious concerns are – the existing per capita open space provision is 1, including clubs and other private open spaces increases it to 1.15, with other natural resources (beaches, national park etc) it increases to 1.24. This, by any standards, is too low. Lack of open spaces affects women and children in ways that go beyond the immediate and obvious needs.

The development plan of Mumbai needs to go beyond the playgrounds and parks and more clear plan to democratize open spaces like seafronts, spaces around lakes, mangroves, river, creeks, wetlands, ponds which are accessible to all citizens.

The report itself admits the threat identified by the MMREI Study – that says only 47% of open spaces are really accessible. Spaces that will be generated out of pooling will be privatized, exclusive spaces. So whatever sq per person, there is no guarantee that it will be accessible. The DP should recommend that the MCGM should take responsibility of open spaces and not lease it to private bodies.

5. ENVIRONMENT
While the DP aims to promote a sustainable city and constant references are made to preserving the natural areas with an aim to conserve existing ‘ecologically sensitive areas’ that would help retain the city’s ecology and biodiversity – for want of commercial amenity space, Aarey Colony is marked as an ‘opportunity for development’. This is akin to CBDs like Ballard Estate, BKC and Nariman Point. Not only does Aarey colony add to the ecological balance in the city and is a vital lung to the city, it is also home to Adivasi-padas and forms an integral connector to the Sanjay Gandhi National Park.

Water bodies need to be marked in the DP and plans made for preserving them so that water is available as a resource. Women spend a lot of time in getting water for the household and so creation of more reservoirs to ensure water supply in the suburbs is also needed.

6. LIVELIHOODS
Mumbai’s vision of being competitive is less likely to be achieved if female workforce participation remains as low as 16%. These low participation rates imply that Mumbai is unlikely to reap the demographic dividend associated with its currently favorable demographic constellation of a rising share of the working age population relative to young and old dependents. There is a need to ensure a higher rate of participation of women with provision of various services associated with easier access to workforce like tending to the young –creches and day care centres, working women’s hostels, skill training institutes focus with female workforce.

Studies have pointed out that skills shortage among women is is responsible for their low participation. Large-scale skill upgradation programmes for women that can boost prospects of formal sector employment require training centres. Spaces for these need to be marked. The MCGM proposal of Aadhar Kendras, needs to be implemented in every ward for which land reservation should be made. These centres can also work as resource centres for trainings of women.

There should be 10% reservation in all hawking zones for women hawkers. Support infrastructure such as public toilets, resting rooms, changing rooms for women, crèches, storage areas, drinking water facilities, waste disposal, etc. for street vending must be provided on all market streets and close to all vending zones. These must be shown in the PLU.

Considering that a large workforce of wastepickers is women, creation of designated space for localized segregation of waste should have space allocated for them and also every waste management site should have demarcated space for recycling.

Greenpeace India’s response to the allegations

Greenpeace-India

Following the Modi government’s decision to freeze Greenpeace India’s accounts and suspend its license to raise foreign funds, Greenpeace India hits out at the Government calling it “a strong arm tactics to clamp down on dissenting voices in civil society“

Here is the full text of the Greenpeace response:

The government has launched an all out attack on Greenpeace. Not only has it launched a smear campaign, but also blocked foreign and domestic accounts to attempt to stop the campaigns that Greenpeace runs.

The MHA has acted to stop Greenpeace India’s access to foreign funds and has even blocked some domestic bank accounts. The Delhi High Court in January had ordered that Greenpeace India be allowed to access funds sent by Greenpeace International. The court had also held that the MHA action to stop funds from Greenpeace International was ‘untenable’.

The MHA’s repeated moves to restrict our funding and the movement of our personnel are clear attempts to silence criticism and dissent. Instead of pursuing such diversionary tactics, the Government’s commitment to ‘sustainable and inclusive development’ is better met by actually engaging with different viewpoints and solutions that are being offered. As an organisation registered to receive foreign funds we have been and will continue to remain transparent and in compliance of the FCRA.

1. What does this mean for Greenpeace India? Is Greenpeace India blacklisted/ shutting down?

This means that GP India’s permission to receive money from overseas is currently suspended. It does not mean that GP India itself has been shut down or will have to shut down. GP India gets nearly 70% of its income from domestic donations and will continue to operate on those funds even as it fights the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) suspension.

Greenpeace believes this is an escalation of the intimidation campaign that started with a “leaked” Intelligence Bureau report in June last year. It is the government using strong arm tactics to clamp down on dissenting voices in civil society. We have been vindicated in our position more than once in the courts. In fact, the Delhi HC held that the actions of the MHA in the Priya Pillai case were arbitrary and the charges against Greenpeace India were misconceived.

We will not only challenge the Ministry of Home Affairs in courts, but also continue to campaign fearlessly on the issues we work on.

We work in India to ensure that this generation and future generations have clean air, safe food, standing forests, community rights are implemented and the threat of climate change is addressed. We will continue to work on this

2. Have Greenpeace India’s domestic accounts been frozen as well?

Some of Greenpeace India’s domestic accounts have been frozen as well. We believe there is absolutely no way this can be justified under the FCRA – it is an open threat to Greenpeace from the government and attempt to shut our work down. Greenpeace is receiving legal counsel and will challenge this in court.

3. How has Greenpeace India been getting its funds?

Greenpeace India raises a majority of its funding from Indians – according to our provisional fundraising figures for FY 2014-15, INR 20.76 crore was donated to Greenpeace India by 77,768 Indian citizens – accounting for nearly 70% of total income.

You can find more information here: bit.ly/1FpI0AJ

4. Are Greenpeace India’s foreign contributions illegal?

No! Greenpeace has been in operation in India since 2001 and we have followed the required norms under the FCRA and filed returns as prescribed. All the foreign grants have been deposited into the designated bank account and transfers for utilisation are made into the FCRA approved account only. Payments listed by the FCRA division in their show cause notice are to third parties or reimbursements to local accounts which is within the law.

4. Why does Greenpeace India need foreign contributions?

Greenpeace is a global organisation that works on environmental protection and social justice. Greenpeace has over 40 offices across the world. The scale of the environmental challenge that we face is massive and requires a massive response. We live in a globalised world where, for better or worse, billions of dollars flow into the country by way of foreign investment. Much of this goes to activities that have serious environmental impacts. In such a scenario, it is hypocritical for the government to single out the relatively meagre amounts of foreign money that flow to legitimate organisations.

6. Why does Greenpeace India involve foreign activists in its campaigns?

We live in a globalised world and Greenpeace is a global organisation working for a safe and sustainable future for the planet. Environmental and social justice issues today are also global issues. Just as governments and corporations seek support and also provide learnings to other countries or branches of multinational companies – so does Greenpeace share skills and information across its offices. It is absurd that the government questions this.

7. Why is Greenpeace India being called a threat to economic security, why has the government accused you of ‘protest creation’?

Greenpeace envisages a dream of a clean, green, healthy India, where every citizen has equal rights. Our campaigns strive to ensure that the development model followed is holistic and sustainable. Calling this “protest creation” or a threat to economic security is clearly a part of the smear campaign against Greenpeace by certain government agencies. There is no economic security in the absence of clean air, water, food and a liveable planet. It is every citizen’s right to stand up and ensure that the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian constitution are not violated – this spirit is the very basis on which our country was founded. The government clearly has a different definition of development which is heavily pro-corporate instead of being pro-people, and is seeking to dismiss any criticism of its actions as “protest creation”.

8. Did Greenpeace sponsor Channel 4 journalists’ visit to Mahan forests? Did they illegally use an unmanned flying vehicle for shooting?

This is one of the many lies in the MHA report. In a response to Greenpeace, Hugo Ward, director of the program from Channel 4 denied the allegation. Reproduced below is the content of the email:
“Unreported World is a critically acclaimed television series funded entirely by Channel 4. It is false to suggest that the trip made last year by our team was arranged or funded by Greenpeace.

The documentary in question is a balanced exploration of the impact of the Indian government’s drive to help the country’s development through widespread electrification. It includes an interview with Ramakant Tiwari, the CEO of Mahan Coal Corporation, Greenpeace activists and local villagers, many of whom have benefited from the recent arrival of electricity to their homes.

The documentary is freely available online and we urge your readers to watch it before making up their own mind about the issues it explores.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhoWM9ju8_U

9. Did Greenpeace sponsor Pankaj Singh, when he contested elections from the anti corruption Aam Aadmi Party? Does Greenpeace have any links with AAP?

Greenpeace has no political affiliations. Pankaj Singh had resigned before contesting elections. Greenpeace had nothing to do with funding or in any way supporting his campaign in Singrauli.

Greenpeace does not endorse any political party or political candidates, nor does it donate money to or accept money from political parties. This applies equally to AAP, BJP or Congress. We do brief all political parties and their representatives on the issues that we work on.

10. Has Greenpeace India transferred money from the FCRA designated account to FCRA utilisation account, and from there to five other bank accounts, in violation of FCRA rules?

Our auditors have assured us that we have not violated any FCRA rules. We will be reiterating this in our response to the MHA notice. Greenpeace has been in operation in India since 2001 and we have followed the required norms under the FCRA and filed returns as prescribed. All the foreign grants have been deposited into the designated bank account and transfers for utilisation are made into the FCRA approved account only. Payments listed by the FCRA division in their show cause notice are to third parties or reimbursements to local accounts which is within the law.

11. Greenpeace engaged in political activities in violation of section 9 by using foreign contribution for foreigners to lobby for and influence the Indian government policies. It invited foreign activists like Emma Rachel Tranquility Gibson (UK national) for handling conflicts, prioritization and difficult decisions and her given task was Election Project as mentioned in terms of reference for her job.

We have no idea what the MHA is referring to – Emma Gibson worked with GP India for a few months, however she was not in charge of any so-called Election Project. In fact GP India did not then and does not now have any such Election Project. This appears to be another case of the MHA twisting or outright manufacturing facts to mislead the public.

13. Greenpeace International UK took very keen interest in promoting the growth of Greenpeace India Society ground level protest creation activities having sent 13 foreigners (9 UK, 3 US and one Australian nationals, all subsequently black listed for violating Visa rules), to train and equip Indian activists in protest creation. However, despite objections the flow of Greenpeace foreign ‘experts’ continued up to September 2014.

All foreign nationals who have worked with GP India have had necessary visas. Greenpeace, like any global organization, shares skills and learns from experiences in different parts of the world. We don’t believe that it is a crime for people to exchange ideas and meet on issues that are of common interest.

It is laughable that the MHA refers to protest creation experts coming from abroad, if anything we Indians have a wealth of history in protesting injustice and in non violent civil disobedience. This is just more paranoia from the MHA. In this time and age, the nature of issues raised by the MHA is antiquated and not becoming of a democracy like India.

14. What about the issue of high salaries being disbursed to individuals? Is this against the objects of the charity?

Greenpeace believes that it should be in a position to pay people an amount that is line with what other international NGOs pay in India. We believe that good talent should also be able to work on issues of environment and social justice and we like to make this possible. However, we ensure that there is parity between the amount paid to the Executive Director and the lowest paid employee in the organization. Our directors and senior staff get paid at the lowest end of the market spectrum to keep parity within the staff in the organization.

Greenpeace believes that the issues the MHA raises on salaries and consultancies are absurd as it does not substantiate how this is a violation of the FCRA.

14. Who is Greg Muttit and why was he paid Euro 56951.16 per annum?

Greg Muttitt was an international colleague who was in India for a short period of time on a valid work visa. Greenpeace India has not made any payment to Greg Muttit, except to reimburse his travel, stay and related expenses in India. His salary of euro 56k approximately, was borne by Greenpeace International and not by Greenpeace India as he was their employee. There is no violation of sec 33 of the FCRA, as all the expenses here have been booked, included in our books and reported as required.

15. Has Greenpeace underreported and repeatedly mentioned the incorrect amount of the foreign contributions received so far? The MHA has alleged that the opening balance of one account for 2008-2009, which was reported as nil in the auditor’s certificate was actually Rs 6,60,31,783.

This was a typographical error that was made in the hard copy submitted and we have admitted to it. However, both in the online statement made to the FCRA authorities and also in the hard copy of the closing statement, we have shown the correct amount of INR 6,60,31,783. This is a clear indication that we were not trying to conceal anything. This is another example of the MHA willfully misrepresenting facts.