Flim maker and radical activist Anand Patwardhan’s latest documentary – Jai Bhim, Comrade is a heart rending experience of caste atrocities against Daliths in Ramabai Colony, Mumbai (Maharashtra). It provides a glimpse into their conditions and the manner in which even today Daliths are looked down upon in the so called World’s largest democracy. The documentary runs for over 200 minutes and is one of the longest documentaries ever made in India. The film bagged the Best Film award at the ‘Film Southasia 2011’. It is also for the first time, the Censor Board of India gave a clearance to an Anand Patwardhan’s film, without any cuts that have usually dogged all his earlier films.
With the onslaught of neo-liberal policies labour laws are being weakened or dismantled all together. While capitalist class is crying hoarse for making labour laws further ‘flexible’, these policies are brutally attacking the rights of working class. Among the worst impacted are those working in smaller industrial units that are generally unorganized and hence more vulnerable to these attacks. However despite all odds these workers are fighting hard to uphold their rights and earn better wages.
The scandalous land acquisition process robbing people of their livelihoods, destroying the environment and benefiting corporations for setting up Special Economic Zones – SEZ’s (or Special Exploitation Zones?), is today being met by resistance everywhere throughout India. In the case of Jaitapur too, a mass movement of the people has emerged against a project that is much more destructive than an SEZ, a nuclear power plant.
On 10th Aug., in less than half a minute, Maharashtra State Assembly passed ‘Maharashtra Self-Financed Universities (Establishment and Regulation) Act’ and this has now formally opened the doors for Education barons and businessmen. Now in the free market, where educations is traded as commodity, they can run their ‘Education Malls’ and reap huge profits out of it, estimated to be worth USD $68 bn by 2012.
The city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is a city of huge contrasts. A population of over 21 million, with some of the richest men in India like Mukesh Ambani living in 27 storey apartment for just a family of five and more than 11 million people living in slums such as Dharavi (Asia’s largest slum) occupying less than 13% of the city land area (!) without any basic facilities. Any govt. priority one would have imagined should have been towards directing its efforts to improve the conditions to those unfortunate lots who have been migrating to this city for several decades now, in search of livelihood and who are real wealth creators of this city. But in the minds of the state/ central govt. the slum dwellers constitute probably the last priority and are busy today fantasizing Mumbai as the next Singapore or a Shanghai in the making.