Harnessed In Slums

Vasant Kunj Fire

Over 500 jhuggis (huts) destroyed in Vasant Kunj.

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Mumbai Attacks: “These Weren’t Just Terrorists”

by matttbastard

ForaTV:

Counterterrorism expert Bruce Hoffman describes the November, 2008 attacks on downtown Mumbai, India as “more like a military operation than a terrorist attack,” and examines what implications the incident may have for the ongoing fight against global terrorism.

Complete video here

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Quote of the Day: The Gap

by matttbastard

If you were watching television you may not have heard that ordinary people too died in Mumbai. They were mowed down in a busy railway station and a public hospital. The terrorists did not distinguish between poor and rich. They killed both with equal cold-bloodedness. The Indian media, however, was transfixed by the rising tide of horror that breached the glittering barricades of India Shining and spread its stench in the marbled lobbies and crystal ballrooms of two incredibly luxurious hotels and a small Jewish centre.

We’re told one of these hotels is an icon of the city of Mumbai. That’s absolutely true. It’s an icon of the easy, obscene injustice that ordinary Indians endure every day. On a day when the newspapers were full of moving obituaries by beautiful people about the hotel rooms they had stayed in, the gourmet restaurants they loved (ironically one was called Kandahar), and the staff who served them, a small box on the top left-hand corner in the inner pages of a national newspaper (sponsored by a pizza company I think) said “Hungry, kya?” (Hungry eh?). It then, with the best of intentions I’m sure, informed its readers that on the international hunger index, India ranked below Sudan and Somalia. But of course this isn’t that war. That one’s still being fought in the Dalit bastis of our villages, on the banks of the Narmada and the Koel Karo rivers; in the rubber estate in Chengara; in the villages of Nandigram, Singur, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Lalgarh in West Bengal and the slums and shantytowns of our gigantic cities.

That war isn’t on TV. Yet. So maybe, like everyone else, we should deal with the one that is.

– Arundhati Roy, The monster in the mirror

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Mumbai Attack Resources

by matttbastard

Canadians concerned about relatives/loved ones in Mumbai can call the Department of Foreign Affairs at 1-613-996-8885 from inside Canada or 1-800-387-3124 from other countries. US citizens contact special State Department call center phone number set up for the crisis: 1-888-407-4747. UPDATE For Australians:1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 (DFAT) UK: 0207 008 0000 (Foreign Office) (h/t Brandy Betz)

Please add additional resources in comments and I’ll update accordingly.

– Indian dead tree media: Hindustan Times, Times of India, The Hindu, Outlook India, Deccan Herald, Indian Express

list of Mumbai bloggers liveblogging events as they unfold, comprehensive round-up from DesiPundit

– Vinu’s Mumbai attacks Flickr photostream UPDATE new sets from Vinu here and here, ashesh shah’s photostream (h/t Gauravonomics) UPDATE Boston Globe photoset (h/t dina)

Google Map of attacks

– regularly updated Wikipedia page

YouTube and VodPod videos, sorted by date (most recent first)

– Ongoing coverage from Neha Vishwanathan of Global Voices Online [UPDATE Global Voices special Mumbai attacks page) and from GroundReport.com

searchable list of injured/dead

– regularly updated emergency information at Mumbai Help

PinStorm information page

– Livestreams from CNN-IBN and NDTV

– Twitter content marked #mumbai, Colaba, Oberoi, Taj

Mumbai Tweetgrid (automatically refreshes)

– invaluable Twitter updates from MumbaiAttacks, zigzackly, vinu, gsik, chhavi, asfaq and dina .

SkyNews MicroBlog

Timeline of terror attacks in India, 1993-present

UPDATE public Google Notebook aggregating key points and facts (thanks, Anannya Deb!)

UPDATE Mahalo , Addictomatic and NowPublic pages

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“The Handmaid’s Tale Revisited”

by matttbastard

This headline screams “WTF?!”- Giving birth becomes the latest job outsourced to India:

Every night in this quiet western Indian city, 15 pregnant women prepare for sleep in the spacious house they share, ascending the stairs in a procession of ballooned bellies, to bedrooms that become a landscape of soft hills.

A team of maids, cooks and doctors looks after the women, whose pregnancies would be unusual anywhere else but are common here. The young mothers of Anand, a place famous for its milk, are pregnant with the children of infertile couples from around the world.

The small clinic at Kaival Hospital matches infertile couples with local women, cares for the women during pregnancy and delivery, and counsels them afterward. Anand’s surrogate mothers, pioneers in the growing field of outsourced pregnancies, have given birth to roughly 40 babies.

More than 50 women in this city are now pregnant with the children of couples from the United States, Taiwan, Britain and beyond. The women earn more than many would make in 15 years. But the program raises a host of uncomfortable questions that touch on morals and modern science, exploitation and globalization, and that most natural of desires: to have a family.

[…]

Experts say commercial surrogacy — or what has been called “wombs for rent” — is growing in India. While no reliable numbers track such pregnancies nationwide, doctors work with surrogates in virtually every major city. The women are impregnated in-vitro with the egg and sperm of couples unable to conceive on their own.

Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002, as it is in many other countries, including the United States. But India is the leader in making it a viable industry rather than a rare fertility treatment. Experts say it could take off for the same reasons outsourcing in other industries has been successful: a wide labor pool working for relatively low rates.

Critics say the couples are exploiting poor women in India — a country with an alarmingly high maternal death rateby hiring them at a cut-rate cost to undergo the hardship, pain and risks of labor.

“It raises the factor of baby farms in developing countries,” said Dr. John Lantos of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo. “It comes down to questions of voluntariness and risk.”

Hey, it’s all good if they are the ones risking their lives to satisfy willfully indifferent bourgeois vanity, all inspired by “that most natural of desires.” “Wombs for rent”; “a viable industry”; “a wide labour pool working for relatively low rates.” Imperial misogyny manifested in a maternal sweat shop–talk about an example of globalization as a patriarchal system of exploitation.

So wrong on so many levels.

h/t Debra @ Bread and Roses (for both the story and the post title)

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