S03E40 FindingTheVoices with Ms. Anubha Bhonsle: Manipur and Irom Sharmila

FindingTheVoices with Ms. Anubha Bhonsle: Manipur and Irom Sharmila (Part 2)
Guest Speaker : Ms. Anubha Bhonsle, Executive editor of CNN IBN, Journalist and author of “Mother, Where is My Country?”
Language: Interview in English
Location: Washington DC
Catch up the 1st part of the interview at  Manipur through the eyes of Ms. Anubha Bhonsle. (Part 1)

Our guest today is Anubha Bhonsle, recipient of the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award, 2009 and the author of the extensively researched book on one of the most ignored state of India titled “Mother, Where is My Country?”. She also received the Chameli Devi Award for Outstanding Woman Media Person in the year 2014 for her body of work. Anubha Bhonsle has been a founding member of CNN-IBN (now CNN-News18). In her role as Executive Editor, she led the channels’ coverage of major news events reporting from the ground and has anchored several flagship news, prime time discussions and documentaries.
In the first part of her interview, she shared her story about how she began her career in journalism. This is the second part of her interview.

Anubha Bhonsle’s book “Mother, Where is my Country?” published in January, 2016 is a result of 10 years of research in Manipur. It covers stories of injustice suffered by the people and violation of human rights amongst others.

The book is centered around Irom Sharmila and covers her life, goals and her struggle against the draconian law, Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The iron lady ended her 16 years long hunger strike on 9th August, 2016 to take up the fight from another angle. Anubha Bhonsle expresses her views about this new turn of events in this episode. There has been wide media coverage about the people of Manipur shunning Irom Sharmila’s decision to end her fast, but very little has been covered about the people who have come out in support of her. Anubha Bhonsle says that it took Irom Sharmila more courage to take up the decision to end her fast than she did when she started the hunger strike. She says that although this is not a positive situation, it can be taken as an opportunity for the people in other parts of the country to know more about the ignored state of Manipur and also be a turning point for anyone interested in the anti-AFSPA campaign. Anubha Bhonsle also shares about the experience of her time in Manipur from the perspective of mingling with the people, food and places she has visited. We talk about some of the challenges she faced when she came to Manipur doing her research going from one place to the other.


About FindingTheVoices:Monica Ingudam, Founder of FindingTheVoices

Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/

 

Low ebb of humanity in Manipur? #IromSharmila

Portrayed Low ebb of humanity in Manipur?

It was supposed to be a day of celebration, a day of freedom for Irom Sharmila Chanu when she broke her 16 years of fast. I watched the news coverage with her smiling coyly as she expressed that she would prefer to break her fast with honey rather than the water people suggested. Media from all over the world flew to Manipur to cover this important moment, a date which will be marked in the history.

With her newfound freedom, she must have expected a very different experience moving around freely after 16 years. I cannot imagine her level of excitement at that moment. Growing up in Manipur my freedom was very limited within the walls of my parents house, my school and books. My parents accompanied me everywhere in the name of the conflicts and the situations. I experienced a simple rickshaw ride alone very recently and I felt free and was very excited. So I can only imagine how excited she must have felt to move freely after being confined for such a long time.

But the reaction and harsh unwelcoming words from some small section of people that evening broke her heart leaving a very very bad taste. It’s hard to watch her break down. This video (Courtesy:newslaundry) stuck with me and it’s in my head. She doesn’t deserve to cry like this specially on her day, a day which should have been filled with celebrations. And yes, I stand in shame for such treatment and humiliation she had to go through on the day she set herself free, a day she could walk around freely after 16 very long years.

Yes, there may be a difference of opinion. Yes some of her comments and the way she said or did, might have hurt many because you truly supported her from your perspective. But your immediate action of rejection and outrage makes everyone question your kind of support. She must have her reasons for what she said or did. Can’t we all put everything aside, be the bigger one for a bit and see her as a human? Did it need to be resolved or dissolve at her moment leaving such a bitter taste, hurting even more? Where has our empathy gone? Where has our patience gone?

And the words that followed. Such mockery belittling her honest and genuine effort making many question the existence of humanity in Manipur. And the discussions comparing her with Martyr with an open disapproving note of her decision clearing inferring the preference to die? What kind of example and precedence are we setting for the youth where we glorify and elevate the dead over the living? Does one have to die for the glory and elevation?

Such intolerance drives me to seek out my quest to feature kind, strong voices and gestures to get her strength and smile. Words can make or break a person. Kind encouraging words and gestures can be very powerful elevating the strength of a human soul. I hold to many words I received giving me the strength to go through trying times.

Also the wide-spread coverage of a blanket statement that Manipur has shunned Irom Sharmila have challenged me to seek out for her well wishers and change that narrative and prove them wrong. I don’t agree with the Media reporting that the whole of #Manipur is shunning Irom Sharmila .

We come from a society where we aren’t comfortable or encouraged to speaking out our feelings but now is the time to speak out. Eche Sharmila needs us and we need to change the narrative for Manipur.

Calling out to one and all to join me in Waakhal, The people speaks up!

“You are not alone” a series of FindingTheVoices dedicated to Irom Sharmila Chanu of Manipur. #ISupportIromSharmila

I want to believe in the strong presence of humanity in the people of Manipur, let’s change the portrayed low ebb of humanity in Manipur!


MI_S03_withlogoMonica Ingudam, founder of FindingTheVoices, a talk show presenting voices from different parts of the globe with the vision to promote and spread Inspiring, Educative, Empowering and Entertaining stories in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur.


 

Accepting the real Irom Sharmila Chanu of Manipur

Accepting the real Irom Sharmila Chanu of Manipur

It’s heartbreaking to see Irom Sharmila Chanu in tears fighting for her basic right. She pleads for her right of choice, right to make her own decision. She wants to break free from the iconic image created by the people. She is more than the icon, she wants people to know her, the real her as a simple woman who loves peace. And now she is emotionally battered by the mental attack she received from the angry crowd and the reaction after she broke her 16 years of fasting. Does she deserve such kind of treatment at this juncture?

Many are showing disappointment that Sharmila hasn’t consulted them before she announced her decision and retorting back that they can fight for the cause with or without her. This will only alienate her even more widening the gap. Many are coming up quoting examples of instances of when and how they have supported her and it’s true that the people have supported her in their own way. However it’s a very long 16 years of struggle for her where she must have spent hours and hours in solitude and loneliness where her interaction with people are limited, very limited. It must be such a moment of loneliness where she saw no one around and said what she said sharing her thoughts. Don’t we all go through such moments? And don’t we expect that our love ones will stand by us during such times? By abandoning her aren’t we proving that her insecurity and fear of being alone is true? Isn’t it time to show our moral support for her?

It is a big question as to where she will be staying. It’s reported that Red Cross Society announced that they are ready to give her shelter with the condition that she cannot be involved in any political activities during her stay with them. That’s a BIG condition, considering her vision of joining politics. Can anyone accept the real Irom Sharmila Chanu without any conditions imposed?

Many are questioning on how Sharmila can succeed in politics but isn’t it an opportunity for the people to change the scenery of politics of Manipur? Why brush off with such negative criticism? Why not support and let her try? She has touched many people’s heart. She brought so much attention of the media and people at the national and international level getting AFSPA and Manipur the attention it needed. Maybe her presence in the political scene of Manipur will bring the much-needed attention of Manipur in India and internationally. In fact the Indian government should take this opportunity and offer her a platform to nurture and help her vision, the vision of a peace loving woman who have only strived for changes adopting peaceful non violent means.

As always most of the media digs and frame questions providing coverage to the sensational and controversial reaction portraying the rejection of the people. Just as Sharmila stated she knows that there are people, especially amongst the youth who are looking for change, change to a positive society, I believe that we have a lot of people who supports her and accepts her for what she is. I am seeking your voice for her. FindingTheVoices is inviting you to participate in a special episode we are making to consolidate your voice showing your stand for Irom Sharmila Chanu. Ready to change the narrative portraying the acceptance of the real Irom Sharmila Chanu? Because I know that those isolated cases reported by media doesn’t represent the overall reaction of the people.

I met Eche Sharmila just once and felt connected instantly, read and followed many of her coverage. I believe that she can bring a change, the much-needed change in Manipur. I believe that she can speak bravely and honestly on many of the topics people including myself are silenced to speak or write about.

Don’t let anyone say you can’t do it, Go for it, I am with you Eche!


MI_S03_withlogoMonica Ingudam, founder of FindingTheVoices, a talk show presenting voices from different parts of the globe with the vision to promote and spread Inspiring, Educative, Empowering and Entertaining stories in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur.


 

A new strategy to repeal AFSPA in Manipur, with food, marriage and politics from Irom Sharmila

A new strategy to repeal AFSPA in Manipur, with food, marriage and politics from Irom Sharmila

Today my news-feed is filled with the multiple coverage of Irom Sharmila’s decision to end her 16 years of fasting on 9th August 2016. Indian Express, BBC, Reuters, The Hindu, Times Of India, NDTV, Economic Times and many others have featured her story, one of the few times I cannot complain about the media not picking up news of Manipur.

Most people seem surprised with her announcement including her own family members. I am equally surprised but surprised that it took her this long. And more than being surprised, some people seem to be disappointed, very disappointed by her decision passing judgemental remarks, questioning and criticizing her decision, her capability of joining politics and her choice of personal life.

Why do you question her decision to end the fast? What is the guarantee that the outcome will be any different than what we see now, even if she continues fasting? Would you rather she continue with the fast till the very end and then type “RIP” or join the long queue for the floral tribute donning the white mourning dress?

Why do you think politics is not for her? Which political figure of Manipur would you prefer? You supported and accepted her as she was fasting sitting in a corner, building up the image of the Iron lady, but the idea of her becoming a leader is repelling? Or Is it that the political scene in Manipur has become so muddied that you have given up hope on any change in that front?

You seeked out to her for giving statements and comments for the issues/causes time brought on, which are many in a state like Manipur but you forgot to ask about her? Maybe you did ask her, maybe she did share on her own, in her frail voice but her thoughts which are not in line with the cause was hushed or edited out. Why is the idea of her getting married questionable? Or is it her choice that is not acceptable?

16 years is a long time, must be even longer for someone who is fasting and living in solitude for the most part. When I met Eche Sharmila back in 2015, I saw a woman who wants to live her life beyond the movement she is standing for, a woman very much in love, and a very lonely woman who didn’t anticipate such a long journey. We cried together talking about her situations, even giggled over simple things in the short visit I had.

It must have taken a lot of courage to make this decision, and not fulfil a promise she had made publicly. As per the reports, she indicated that she will continue with the movement and is only changing the strategy as it’s clearly not working even after 16 years. Why alienate her with all these judgmental and criticizing comments after all the sacrifices she has made so far? Why not get together and support her?

I am very happy for her, for this potential alternative of living.  A new chapter with a new strategy to repeal AFSPA with food, marriage and politics for Irom Sharmila. Go for it, Eche!


MI_S03_withlogoMonica Ingudam, founder of FindingTheVoices, a talk show presenting voices from different parts of the globe with the vision to promote and spread Inspiring, Educative, Empowering and Entertaining stories in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur.


 

S02E35 FindingTheVoices: Sanhita Ambast, International Legal Advisor talks about Silence On AFSPA

FindingTheVoices: Sanhita Ambast, International Legal Advisor talks about Silence On AFSPA

Guest Speaker : Sanhita Ambast
A web Interview, with Sanhita Ambast joining in from Delhi, India.
Language: Interview in English

I read the article “The Undemocratic Silence On AFSPA” written by Sanhita Ambast and featured at http://www.huffingtonpost.in. This article highlights about the silence from the government of India, 10 years after the Jeevan Reddy Committee submitted its report. It has done nothing about its recommendations.

Sanhita shared about AFSPA in Manipur and status about the “Jeevan Reddy Committee” and the findings and recommendations. We spoke about national and international bodies that echoed the recommendations of the Jeevan Reddy Committee.

Several UN bodies and experts have called on the Indian government to repeal the AFSPA. However, the government of India – 10 years after the Jeevan Reddy Committee submitted its report – has done nothing about its recommendations. And, as the answer to the question in the Rajya Sabha indicates, it has provided little meaningful explanation about why.

When the system takes so long to provide justice, can there be peace ? Where is the justice ?  Where is the hope for people opting for peaceful protest seeking for the system to work ? There has been compensations but compensation cannot replace Justice, and it is justice, the people are waiting.

Sanhita Ambast is the International Legal Advisor (South Asia) at the International Commission of Jurists. Sanhita graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore. She has completed an LLM from Harvard Law School, and an MA in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, specializing in international human rights law.
AFSPA

MI_5Born and raised in the violence-torn landscape of Manipur, I have a vision to promote and spread inspiring, empowering, educative & entertaining stories. I believe that we can create contents bringing the positive side of Manipur. I believe we can do this together by finding the voices, voices which needs to be heard and shared, voices of our own people, people of Manipur and well-wishers of Manipur. I believe that these voices will bring a change and connect all of us.

I welcome you to join me in my journey to finding the voices at Http://FindingTheVoices.com/