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Article on the illustrations of the Different Tales

Sneha Raghavan, has studied Ph.D. in English and Foreign Language University. She has written an article on the illustrations of the Different Tales books. Click on this link artetc.

Memories of Sharmila Rege

Manu raajyaallo….by Gogu Shyamala

Tribute to Sharmila Rege

It is an extremely sad occasion that we have to think of Prof. Sharmila Rege’s contribution in her absence. I got to know of Sharmila due to her essay Dalit Women’s Standpoint when I was doing my Ph.D. I met her twice, first in 2001 during a conference of CWDS on gender and social science where she spoke about the ways in which new groups of students – Dalit, OBC were changing the face of research in sociology in Maharastra. She was hale and hearty. When I met her again in 2010, briefly during a workshop on research methodology, she looked ill. I wondered why she looked so ill but I did not have the temerity to ask anyone. I wish I had.

For me, Prof Sharmila Rege’s contribution has been important in three registers – feminism, women’s studies and women’s movement. They are close, overlapping arenas but it is better to keep them separate to understand the significance of her contribution.

Let us begin with feminism. After 1990, questions of gender inequality and critiques of patriarchy could no longer be innocent of questions of caste and religion. Even though, questions of caste and gender have often been raised together at many points in Indian history, within modern Indian feminist thinking, these two questions have become separated, due to the legacy of the anti-colonial nationalism and Gandhi, in particular. Sharmila Rege belongs to the minority of Indian feminists who questioned this separation. She belongs to those who have begun to firmly characterize Indian patriarchy as Brahmanical patriarchy, specifically shaped in the context of caste system. And, for me, her singular contribution in this domain is her latest book, Against the Madness of Manu, where she argues forcefully that Ambedkar should be read as a classic in Indian feminism. She re-introduces Ambedkar, by selecting, interpreting and placing the siginificance of a few of his writings and speeches on patriarchy and caste – Castes in India, Fall of Hindu Women, Riddles on Rama and Krishna, and his speeches during the non-passage of the Hindu Code Bill. I have just finished reading the book and am immensely grateful for what she has done for all those non-dalit scholars who are keen to read Dr. B.R. Ambedkar but require mediation. Ambedkar’s scholarship and corpus of writing are formidable and their full force comes alive with some mediation by scholars, who place in them in the context of the contemporary debates. Phule’s and Periyar’s writings and intervention on questions of gender and caste have been mediated to us, and for me, Sharmila’s introduction to B.R. Ambedkar’s writings on gender and caste stands alongside such crucial s

Let us come to her practice of women’s studies. Women’s Studies is structurally different from feminism. It is bound by disciplinary protocols where students also need to be nurtured into scholarship on gender. However, even according to UGC’s own admission, most of the women’s studies centres in the country are not doing what they are supposed to do – mentoring and research – but are engaged in working in the register of reform – teaching women students in the art of managing home or making money out of the same or reforming the nearby slum areas or sometimes nothing. There are less than ten thriving UGC women’s studies centres in the country – among which Savitribai Phule Centre is one. Such centres are characterized by some features – they do rigorous research; they nurture dedicated and committed scholarship and students; they are collective in functioning, rather than being individualistic; they have thriving connections with other women’s studies scholars as well as different political movements.

She represents the best of women’s studies traditions – where the practice is oriented towards political resonance/significance of work, without ever losing sight of the rigour;  where the practice is consciously cross-disciplinary – she consciously straddles disciplines of sociology, history and literature; where the questions for study of gender are to be found in the empirical, grounded investigations and not through government policy or laws or already arrived at, prescriptive notions about patriarchy and gender – her work on Dalit women’s testimonies is the best example of such work.

For me, Sharmila’s institution building vision and effort is something that we need to remember, which is almost as important as her scholarship. To any visitor to the Savitribai Phule centre in Pune these features are strikingly visible. She not only did all of the above, but introduced new pedagogical practices such as teaching in two languages, framing syllabus to bring down the inequality between vernacular medium students and English medium students.

Coming to the third register in which we should take note of her contribution, it is the women’s movement. Women’s movements, work with-in specific goals – short term and long-term; among the people one can find some who work in register of reform, some work towards better laws and some work to improve the realm of policy. There are those few who recognize the politically contentious issues and seek to understand them and make conscious efforts to go beyond what is currently feasible. Sharmila was one of those who recognized the impasse over caste within the women’s movement and consciously sought to work with the dalit women’s movement in Maharastra. She sought to understand; articulate what they were saying to non-dalit women’s movements. Her work in this register has been extremely valuable in helping orient non-dalit women’s movements to register their caste-blindness in addressing issues.

Let me end by saluting Sharmila. Her spirit and her work will remain an inspiration to many of us!

FAQ about Nuclear Power


Mar 19

I am reproducing here an FAQ about nuclear power that I had written two years ago for Kannabiran and which was probably translated into Telugu.

Frequently Asked Questions about Nuclear Power

What is nuclear power?

Nuclear power or more precisely, nuclear energy is energy released from the nucleus of atoms.  Unlike energy from steam which is released when water boils (at the molecular level) and unlike energy from combustion of gas (at the level of a chemical reaction), nuclear energy comes from a much deeper level of material

What are the kinds of nuclear power known?

There are two major sources of nuclear power known, fission and fusion.  Fission occurs when an atom splits in two different smaller atoms, and releases some energy in the process. Only atoms of specific elements are unstable and undergo this splitting, and they are called radioactive isotopes.  Fusion, occurs when two atoms join, or fuse, and release energy in this process.  Here too, only some elements can practically be fused to produce energy.

Fission energy is in practice, extracted from Uranium which is rare in nature and it is possible to do so from Thorium too, which is more abundant.

Fusion energy has not yet been stably extracted through a controllable reaction for commercial use.  The smallest fusion reaction occurs when two Hydrogen atoms fuse to form a Helium atom.

How is nuclear energy different from conventional energy?

Nuclear energy is different from conventional energy in the manner in which heat is produced.  The excess energy when the atom splits is released as heat.  This heat is harnessed by technology to produce electricity.

How does nuclear power generation work?

When the atom splits and heat is generated, this heat is transferred to either water or gas and extracted from it.  In India, the technology uses an intermediate medium (sometimes water) to absorb the fission energy from the radioactive substance.  This intermediate medium then heats water which is then converted to steam used to run a conventional turbine driven generator that produces electricity for use in the electricity grid.

How is nuclear power different from nuclear weapons?

In nuclear weapons, either atomic splitting or atomic fusion is uncontrolled and releases vast amounts of energy in a very short time resulting in a massive explosion capable of mass destruction.  When nuclear power is used for peaceful purposes the energy release is controlled and harnessed to produce electricity.

What is the source of radioactivity?

The source of radioactivity is the isotope that provides nuclear energy through fission.  Fusion reaction does not seem to result in the release of radioactive isotopes (yet).

What are the dangers of radioactivity?

Radioactivity weakens and disrupts chemical bonds in a manner that results in the failure of the structure and function of organic materials.  Thus biological tissue is destroyed and its ability to reproduce itself is also often destroyed.  When life is exposed to radioactivity, the organism dies, relatively fast (in a matter of days) if the dose is massive, and relatively slowly (taking months) if the dose is less massive.  However, beyond a specific dosage, any radiation is fatal and the only question is how long one has to live and suffer.  Below that dosage, the problem that arises is that of genetic mutation and maiming of children for several generations, as has been demonstrated in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What is the safety of a nuclear power plant?

When it functions normally, a nuclear power plant is fairly safe since the radioactivity is limited within the containment chamber and is absorbed through shields to ensure that nothing escapes.  The intermediate heat transfer medium is shielded from the radioactive material adequately and the water that is ultimately heated usually does not come in contact with the radioactivity.  This safe water/steam runs a turbine that operates a generator to produce electricity.  From the turbine onwards, the power generation is conventional and well known – there are no radioactive hazards in the electricity that is produced and transmitted since the radioactive substance does not travel with the electricity.

What are the dangers of a nuclear power plant?

  1. The main danger of a nuclear power plant occurs when the control and moderation of the radioactive core generating the primary energy fails.  Then uncontrolled radioactive generation can cause a meltdown, resulting in the failure of containment.  This will then discharge vast amounts of radioactive energy in the atmosphere around the nuclear facility, without necessarily an explosion, but leading to death and long term maiming of all forms of life in the vicinity.  Reproductive capacity is also affected.  The radius of destruction depends on the magnitude of failure.  Three Mile Island in the USA and Chernobyl in the USSR are examples of what can happen when a reactor fails.  The latest and the most horrendous of all is the Japanese Fukushima reactor failure that has now occurred.
  2. Less serious danger occurs when there is a leak of radioactive material from the containment area.  In that case the personnel and sometimes innocent bystanders face death due to undetected nuclear radiation.  Here again the extent of damage and destruction depends on the seriousness and extent of the nuclear leak.
  3. A third potential danger that is unavoidable is that posed by the wastes of nuclear power generation.  Since the plant cannot work with low levels of radioactivity, it is necessary to remove and destroy spent nuclear fuel.  However this fuel still remains dangerously radioactive and its disposal given the chemical stability of radioactive materials is extremely difficult. This is a problem that is yet to be tackled with political will and is due to become critical in the decades to come, when the radioactive material in the existing plants begin to fall in their yield below sustainable limits.  This is another source of danger from the Fukushima disaster – spent rods, which generate heat spontaneously due to fission reaction, were kept cool in pools of water that also absorbed the radioactivity.  When the earthquake occurred these pools of water dried out due to leakages, and this resulted in the overheating of rods, and the release of radioactive material.
  4. A fourth potential danger is the waste material that is released from the uranium mines, from the plants that convert ore to metal, and finally the factories that enrich uranium to increase its radioactive isotope, in order to make it suitable for use in power generation or bomb production.   Radioactive wastes can kill many an unwary rag-picker.

What is a fast breeder reactor?

One of the difficulties of nuclear power technologies so far in use is that the fuel comes to the end of its use cycle and has to be disposed.  Waste disposal and the production of fresh uranium to continue running the plants are two major problems.  Fast Breeder Reactors, which are in the experimental stage, generate fuel fresh fuel as part of the power generation process, thus attempting to solve the perennial problem of source material alongside the process of producing power.

What is the use of Fast Breeder Reactors?

Theoretically, I am not sure why though, if it is possible to have technologies of normal Uranium based nuclear power plants, fast breeder reactors and finally Thorium based nuclear power plants, it would be possible to eliminate nuclear wastes.  This is because spent material from the first plants would go into the fast breeders, which will then alongside power production, also produce fuel for the Thorium based plants, whose waste material in turn would go back to the normal Uranium plants, and onwards to the next cycle.

What is fusion power?

Fusion power is the generation of power by a fusion reaction: the most elementary fusion reaction occurs when two hydrogen atoms fuse to produce helium and release energy.  This energy is much more than fission energy and has no radioactive hazard except at the moment of generation. Hydrogen is also an abundantly available material and thus there are no source constraints.   However methods to control fusion reactions have not yet been devised and fusion power is not yet a practical possibility.

Comments (1)Add Comment

March 19, 2011

Thanks so much for this info, Srivats. Yesterday, I heard a story doing rounds on the internet, through Vasudha: that the Tokyo Electrical Company which runs the Fukushima plant in Japan wants to resurrect the reactor, rather than close it, as the costs of setting up a new one are huge. The Japanese government is wringing its hands as it either does not have the necessary legal powers to prevent it or it also agrees with the company. One does not know the veracity of this story, but it appears to be a frightening scenario. The nuclear establishment here, under the government, is, of course, extremely opaque. One cannot obtain any information under the RTI about these plants, proposed or existing, Sajaya says. She should know, considering the anti-Uranium mininig struggle that she was part of in Nalgonda district. Indian scientists, by and large, have and are maintaining a stunning silence on the Japan nuclear disaster, Sunita Narain of CSE says.

Ravinder: The man for all seasons

ravinder at anveshircws hyderabad


Ravinder is the senior most member of presently working staff in Anveshi Research Centre for Women’s Studies. As the single male staffer his presence is a relief for all of us, as his services are very useful and necessary. Ravinder personally feels that he has learned a lot of skilled library work from Anveshi founder librarian T.S.S.Lakshmi in the early 1990s and enjoys his work.

In 2007 three students from a German University visited Anveshi and wrote about their experience in India for their University bulletin. The photo reproduced here is an illustration for their write up.

The caption under the photo is: Ravinder with the mountains of photocopying materials at AnveshiRCWS, Hyderabad (translated from the German by Amos Dienel, Berlin)

Adley — who started us on the web!

Adley Siddiqi
Adley has been the mainstay of our presence on the website since 2009.  He has, with Jayasree, set up the website and actually kept it running these four years pro bono, and also provided free space for the Anveshi website.  For reasons — good for him, and unfortunate for us — he has had to move jobs, and his time is now being sought for more urgent purposes.  So many thanks, and hopefully not a goodbye to him!  We would like to have him on and see him for both business and pleasure!
He describes himself in third person thus:
Adley is famous for taking Jayasree away from Anveshi :)
Has been working in IT for entire working life – which is a long time. Currently running a small web development company called Icreon. Half Pakistani. First got to know India whilst working as a volunteer for 2 years with an NGO in Orissa called Gram Vikas where he met Jayasree. Can usually be found lying in his hammock.

Sultan Salauddin Owaisi: An Obituary

Salar e Millat Portrait

Sultan Salauddin Owaisi

Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, the long time president of Hyderabad based Muslim political party, Majlis-e –Ittehad ul Muslimeen (MIM/Majlis) died on 29 September 2008 at the age of seventy two (b-1936). The Hindu daily called him a ‘colossus’ and the Deccan Chronicle remembered him as the symbol of an ‘era’. Similar responses came from other newspapers. Compared to the English, the Urdu press was cautious in appreciating him, where as the attitude of English press itself was surprising. Here was a man who was always ignored by the press or only talked about his negative aspects was suddenly respected.

Soon a few articles in Urdu newspapers were published and innumerable condolence meetings were conducted at every nook and corner of the old city of Hyderabad. There was a discussion everywhere about the personality of Owaisi (he was affectionately called ‘Salar-e-millat’—commander of the community—or ‘Salar’, a title given by a poor Muslim who used to regularly contribute two rupees every month for the party), and his contributions to the Muslim situation of Hyderabad. These meetings and discussions gave a different picture of Owaisi’s personality and his contributions. The content of these meetings, discussions and personal views are summarized in the following pages. It is an attempt to look at this grand figure of Hyderabad from the perspectives of Hyderabad Muslims who supported, opposed or watched Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi and his party.



Muslim’s Concerns and Owaisi’s Responses

After the Accession of Hyderabad to Indian Union in 1948, the situation of Muslims changed drastically. They lost the supportive bases of a government (of the Nizam) and a party (the Majlis) that was interested in them. They also lost jobs and properties along with lives and self-respect. Accession disturbed the classes and demography of Hyderabad. Muslims lost all these things in a short time resulting in a deep shock and far reaching socio-psychological impacts. The uncertainty about the future made the situation more difficult. In such situation new concerns emerged and became the priority of all the Muslims in Hyderabad.


In interviews, people reported that after ‘Police Action’ they developed three kinds of insecurities in relation to three fears. The first was the fear of the new government. They saw that most of the Muslim, Nizam and Majlis haters became ministers and important officials in the new government. They started fearing that these people will further harm Muslims and their interest in some way or the other. The second fear was about the Hindus. Many Muslims overnight saw a change in the attitude of many Hindus on whom they were dependent for many reasons. Though many Hindus supported Muslims in such difficult times and such Hindus outnumbered the hostile Hindus but still this fear took its roots. The third fear was about destiny, making them uncertain about the future and uncomfortable about the past.

The challenge before the Muslim leadership was to provide a solution to these and similar other fears, and to restore confidence. It became important for them to resist the government if it had designs against the Muslims, resist those Hindus who hate Muslims and reduce the anger of God by becoming virtuous. In the period after Police Action we see some perspectives emerging in this regard, which can be summarized, as cautious, low profile and inward looking. When the Majlis was revived in 1957 (It was banned in 1948) a significant change occurred in the people’s responses to it. It is said that Owaisi constantly used to roam in the streets of old city from morning to lunch and keep meeting people for many years. Even though he was a young man in his early twenties but the name of the party, Majlis and the support of his father, who was its president, both helped and created difficulties for him. Few supported and many opposed him. On the other hand there were communal tensions and riots were always a possibility. In such conditions Owaisi was always the first to be on the spot. According to the people this habit of Owaisi’s helped in developing similar tendencies in the public. Owaisi realized the importance of being on the hot spot in difficult situations and made it his policy to be present on the situation. This policy encouraged his party colleagues also to travel on the same path. Over a period the tendency to be on the spot and confront adversity became a strong tradition of not only the Majlis but also the Muslim residents of Hyderabad.

When the communal riots began in the late 1970s, the Muslims found them selves at the receiving end of Hindu ire, but this confrontationist attitude changed the situation and created a power balance between the two communities. Owaisi’s mastery of the art of being on the spot for the people resulted in a positive support for Muslims. The common Muslims who were scared and insecure felt that there was somebody who could understand their pains, show solidarity, and was ready to fight for them. Owaisi’s presence and later, the presence of a whole group from Majlis, was an extremely reassuring factor for the poor and affected Muslims. On the other hand it seriously discouraged rioters and scuttled their plans. As one person said, ‘what ever bad things that can be said about Owaisi, the truth is that he was always there for the people in times of trouble and moments of panic and fear’. It is also said that ‘Owaisi played a major role in controlling and ending the communal riots from Hyderabad’. His strategy of confrontation and presence explains this claim and thus played a major role in providing a sense of security to the Muslims of Hyderabad.


People were dejected and confused after the Police Action. Because of the collapse of social systems with the end of Nizam’s rule and because of in and out migrations there was chaos and disturbance everywhere. This situation was dangerous and it was necessary to collect the community on some grounds. On the other hand people’s inclination to the Communists parties was considered as threat to Muslims faith and religion.

It is interesting to explore how this unity was achieved in Hyderabad and how different strategies were adopted by the MIM in the earlier and latter years. For Owaisi, the concern for unity was always important, as it was in other groups dealing with Muslim issues. Owaisi’s concern for unity expressed itself in a call that the Muslims should show unity through one political party. Owaisi played a major role in creating this understanding in the people. This was so complete that whoever talked about unity was considered as talking and supporting Owaisi’s version/definition of unity. The efforts for an alternative unity as proposed by MBT (Majlis Bachao Tehreek, a break away faction of the MIM) and other religious revivalist groups who are not pro Majlis could not gain currency. The electoral success of Majlis contributed widely in spreading Owaisi’s particular connotation of unity. It will be a useful project to evaluate how this meaning of unity as used by Owaisi has an impact on Hyderabad affairs. Another visible strategy used by Owaisi to achieve unity among Muslims, according to an observer was that ‘ Owaisi always tried to give representation to different Muslim sects of Hyderabad. Presently the lone MLC is a Shia, one MLA is Mehdavi, two are Pathans and one belongs to the traditional soofi circle. He always tried to maintain this kind of harmony and include all the groups in Hyderabad’.


The Muslim question lost its legitimacy with the formation of Pakistan at the national level and with the defeat of Razakaar and Majlis at Hyderabad level. The active and passive supporters of Pakistan and separate Hyderabad lost their face and were overtaken by guilt. But the people who neither supported Pakistan nor a separate Hyderabad also lost confidence. The common Muslims who were least bothered about Pakistan or Hyderabad ironically became the biggest sufferers of losses in Accession. In such a situation there was an urgent need to address the Muslim question politically but the circumstances were against it and also no one—neither Hindus nor Muslims—were feeling courageous enough to do so. There was a dominant tendency among the Muslims to suppress their voice and concerns, and to escape, though there were instances of one or two Muslim leaders coming forward to take up the Muslim issues.

In Hyderabad when the Majlis was revived, the question of legitimacy was the most prominent. It was considered widely that the Majlis has no right to reestablish itself because of its earlier history/positions and its consequences. But when it was revived the important priority was to prove to the Muslims and to the government that its revival is justified. Abdul Wahid Owaisi, the new president of Majlis, struggled hard to prove its justification by changing the Majlis’ constitution and redefining its aims and objectives according to the principles of new Constitution of India. Secondly the people endorsed his presidentship of the party since he was nominated initially (though still many consider that his president ship was not endorsed properly).

Thus two legitimacies were achieved by Abdul Wahid Owaisi, but his son Salahuddin achieved the third legitimacy, i.e., that from the common Muslim’s perspective according to some observers. This was an extremely uphill task and required consistent hard work and presence. Owaisi spent his whole life for the people’s problems and gained not only legitimacy for the Majlis, the party but also a reputation for himself.

It is observed that Islam plays an important part in this legitimacy question. How Islamic values were, and continue to be, used along with the Indian Constitution and democratic processes to gain this legitimacy will be an important question.

The relationship of the Muslims of Hyderabad with the post 1948 governments was difficult most of the time. This relationship was determined in the earlier phases by the activities of the new military government and then later on by those of the civilian government. After Police Action the Muslims were nervous as well as hope full about the new government but soon they realized that the government’s decisions were directly influencing their lives negatively. They felt that their fears were not illusory. The governments subsequent to the military rule also continued this trend in different ways. And the later governments literally dumped the Muslims of Hyderabad. This worsening attitude of different governments to Muslims also brought change in their relationship with the governments.

It is seen that Muslims in Hyderabad are very sensitive to the governments and have strong opinions. According to one set of opinions all governments are bad for Muslims; according to another, governments are slow, weak and corrupt but interested in the betterment of its people. The people who have the second opinion are supportive of the good intentions of the governments. They think that governments should be approached for the Muslims problems in a sensible and wise way. According to the third set of opinions the ruling politicians matter most since they can influence the government. So the success and failure of the government in relation to Muslims is dependent on this relationship.

The MIM tried to include all the three elements in its understanding of the relationship with the government. Owaisi was the chief architect of this relationship and implemented his understanding throughout his long career as Majlis president. One very significant aspect of this relationship was that Owaisi never disowned any government; he always worked for some kind of relation ship with it, either critical or cooperative. Thus there are three elements in this relationship, one is about resisting, opposition and criticism, the second is about cooperation and collaboration, and the third is about applying pressure, lobbying and encouragement. It is also seen that people generally have a high regard for Owaisi’s judgments and are impressed by his boldness with governments. It is said that, ‘he is liked for the fact that he always interacted with the governments on equal basis and on his terms. He was never overawed and never went out of his way to get things from any government’.


Disinterestedness, passivity, fear and suspicion arose among Muslims in the context of Hyderabad’s accession. It was realized that this attitude would further damage their future prospects and present abilities. It was an extremely critical situation and demanded an immediate corrective. There was a need to speak to the people and made them aware so that these negative developments could be arrested. Thus we see that reaching out to the people and create awareness was the most important activity of the new leader’s agenda.

The first one to take a bold initiative in the earliest years with in the Muslim circle was Khallelullah Hussaini of the Tameer-e-Millat. But when the Majlis was revived Abdul Wahed Owaisi tried to reach out to the public in a new way. There are narratives that say that no one used to attend the public meetings conducted by Majlis initially but soon came a period in which people became obsessed with their public meetings. Many people confirmed that ‘some times there used to be three public meetings in a day and they used to rush to attend all the meetings and listen to the same speech again’. What they gained from these meetings was hope and an electrifying motivation. It is said that there used to be only two star speakers in these earliest public meetings- Abdul Wahed Owaisi and Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi—one was old and wise and the other was young and dynamic.

But after the death of Abdul Wahed in 1975, Salahuddin became the president and continued this trend. It is said that ‘Majlis is the only party in India which conducts so many public meetings all the year round with in Hyderabad’. The purpose of these meeting which became famous as ‘Jalsa Halat-e-Hazara’ (meeting about present circumstances), was to educate the people about the recent national and local socio-political developments and make them aware about its implications for Muslims and the options available for them. Public participation in these meetings is always found to be high even today. These meetings are conducted in every corner of the Muslim dominated areas and especially in lower income group localities. The impact of these meetings were serious and far-reaching. As one opponent of Majlis confessed grudgingly, ‘Majlis’ greatest contribution is that it created a political consciousness among the Muslims’. Another impact was, ‘Owaisi taught the Muslims to speak’. This was an important achievement for the people who lost hope and voice in the post Police Action period.

Self Help

After Police Action many people started migrating to Hyderabad from the affected areas. The military government allotted some areas for the settlement of these migrants and refugees along with providing some other kind of help. But people found these efforts meager and insufficient, at this moment the Muslim community came forward on its own to help the needy. As one resident recalled ‘my mother sent me to Nampaly railway station to find a needy family and get them home. I found one family who just arrived from Marathwada area. I asked them if they are searching for a place to stay. They said, ‘yes’ and I told ‘my home is available, please come’. I brought them home to Moghal pura in a rickshaw and gave a room in our relatively large house. This family took our help for few weeks monetarily and after couple of months left our house when the head of the family got some employment’. Accordingly many families came forward to rehabilitate the affected families. The government’s insufficient response thus did not create much resentment but the people were resentful when they saw that the government is not helping them in getting back their lands and houses in their native villages that was forcefully taken from them.

Similarly during communal riots the government announced some compensation that would never come; but the people’s need was immediate and urgent. In this period Owaisi asked the people to contribute financially for this purpose resulting in a large collection of donations and charities. Owaisi immediately distributed this money after any communal riots and restored peoples livelihoods and confidence. This response became a policy for Majlis, i.e., to support the people with people’s money and not to rely on the government’s help. Making the Muslims of Hyderabad self-reliant was an important desire of the Muslim leaders especially those of the Majlis from the beginning. It was considered a good in itself because it can raise the community morally and materially, also it could help the Muslims not to rely on the false promises of the governments. The struggle towards self-reliance was shown in different ways in different phases. It is widely believed that Majlis is the biggest supporters of small traders, service providers and marginal workers. It is also widely acknowledged that Majlis aggressively protect their interests and that this group is the biggest supporter of Majlis. Majlis provide protection to this group against the police and local anti social elements.

The protection of small livelihoods was the concern of Majlis but the practitioners of trades and skills felt a moral responsibility of spreading their skills to other members in their family or locality. It is widely noticed that cycle mechanics, auto drivers, welders, electricians, plumbers, zari workers, painters, tailors and other similar trades train many young persons so that they can help them learn skills and also help in starting their own units. Many children are also found to be in such trades seeking to acquire some skills. This trend was quite widespread and helped many people acquire productive skills quickly, without spending any money and by taking admission in to the training institutions. Owaisi encouraged such trends by providing protection and also encouraged people to take up some trade/skill for their livelihood.

Majlis established an Industrial Training Institute in 1970 when it got some money from the government as a rent for Darusalam (the Majlis office, which was used as a fire station by the government). A decade latter the MIM lobbied with Chenna Reddy government to establish SETWIN (Self Employment in Twin Cities) in the old city to give training in new skills to repair refrigerators, air-conditioners, TVs and other electronic goods, screen-printing and many such trades. This training institute brought a significant change in the vocational skills and spirits of the young people. Owaisi was the biggest supporter of this institute, which encouraged people to take up technical skills in a new way. This resulted in the spread of many service providers in the old city and helped various young persons to go to the Middle East for employment. Those who do not like Majlis feels offended when they see a lot of them everywhere in the old city and feel sorry for the Muslims who practice such trades. They also accuse that Owaisi has a vested interest in keeping the people poor and illiterate. However, when we examine the situation after Accession, and look at the affected rural/urban and semi-literate people, who were without any relevant economic skills, and who with in three decades have acquired significant skills and changed the livelihood landscape of old city and conditions of their own lives, our opinion of Owaisi cannot but be positive.

Thus it is widely believed by many residents of old city that Owaisi’s attitude and approach towards self reliance through vocational skills, his respect for the working class and their political protection played a vital role in helping the Muslims of Hyderabad stand on their own feet and live respectable lives.


These were some of the thoughts that circulated in the old city regarding the role of Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi and about the conditions in Hyderabad. In order to understand the Muslim politics of Hyderabad we need to look at the whole situation from 1940 onwards from the Muslim perspective. Adapting developmental, secular and nationalist perspectives will only contribute in perpetuating an unacceptable picture of the reality. It looks strange when you look at the contributions of Owaisi from the residents of Hyderabad and compare it with the image about him in the so-called mainstream. He is the hero, visionary, statesman, and a deliverer for the people, but for others he is a demon, an antihero, a villain and a pre-modern politician who thrives on exploiting peoples’ vulnerabilities. In such a scenario asking the proper questions about the Muslim politics of Hyderabad requires certain sensibilities about the lives of Muslims and awareness about the underside of official history.

Apart from these there are many questions that need to be asked for academic and practical purposes about the role of Owaisi, the Majlis, various other groups, the nature of Muslim politics, its dynamics, compulsions and limitations. Presently I am interested in asking what could be the role and limitations of minority politics of Hyderabad in the context of the larger Muslim and National politics of India. What could be the further relevant questions and points to focus on?

Hegel in Hyderabad

This is a forum for sharing notes about Hegel’s Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences (1830) based on a reading of the hypertext resource available at www.hegel.net.  Inevitably, the reading will involve references to his Science of Logic, to Phenomenology, and to commentators like Marx, Lenin, C.L.R.James, Erdmann, Westphal, and others.

It has been set up as a separate Google Group because it is organized as a structure that follows the table of contents of the volume.

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Tracking Telangana

Tracking Telangana…..

Tracking Telangana is an effort to go behind the scenes of the current Telangana movement. Reasons or outcome apart, this movement is extremely fascinating for its mass democratic character. Distinguished by wide ranging and active participation of diverse sections of  population – farmers, lawyers, students, employees, women, Muslims, caste groups, professionals, this a moment in which different kinds of injuries and aspirations are being articulated through the notion of a ‘regional inequality’. One is witnessing the process of ‘Telangana’ itself acquiring a history, identity and cultural integrity. Dalits, a strong presence in several forums, are contending that Telangana’s culture is a ‘Sabbanda culture’ that is predominantly non-Sanskritic or un-Hindu. The Muslimness of Telangana is being rediscovered and rearticulated. Nizam is no longer a pariah, nor the questions of Police action and Muslim repression in this region are. Long suppressed in nationalist and communist histories, Muslims in the movement are demanding that their presence, contribution and rights be acknowledged. Backward caste and Dalit Students of Osmania University, faced with bleak employment scenario of the liberalized/globalized world are asking, what is wrong in loosing a year, when their entire future is at stake!

Tracking Telangana, aimed at English readership, brings forth different voices in the Telangana movement – through pamphlets, interviews, news reports, fact-finding reports, poems, photographs, impressions and so on. This is an open group where people can post their opinions, share other posts and links.
Tracking Telangana has been created as a separate forum under Google Groups to help organize the discussion independently.

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Our Versatile Librarian

L.V. Lakshmi

Librarian Lakshmi

Anveshi’s quiet and self-effacing librarian, L.V. Lakshmi, has a keen interest in computerization of the library system.  She has played a key role in implementing our new on-line catalogue and currently is troubleshooting the new version of the SOUL software.  She is also at work on an M.Phil thesis in Library and Information Science, on an area of vital importance to research in women’s studies, , i.e., unpublished documents, technically referred to as “grey literature.”  She is collating the grey literature in women’s studies available in Hyderabad libraries and will suggest how access to it can be improved.

She has an engaged relationship with her two children for who she is clearly a friend as well as a mother. Both Shyam (14) and daughter, Keerthi (12) are lively presences in their school, and favourites in Anveshi. Both are keenly interested in the arts, especially in theatre.  Shyam has already played a role in a feature film.   Lakshmi’s husband, GLN, is a cinema buff and is one of a handful of experts in Telugu cinema.   Right now the family is looking forward to playing host to a German boy, Amos, who is coming on an exchange visit and will study in Shyam’s class at school.

This is how Lakshmi would like to describe herself:

I prefer to be an urban rural blended figure  and  have confidence of achieving good results if supported by a right guiding team. After my family members  I owe my gratitude  to many of anveshi senior members whose guidance helped me  look at the world with a different perspective. Assisting kids in their extra curricular activities and cooking  rayalaseema ethnic  tastes are my leisure time choices.