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Counterview: Urvashi Butalia’s rejoinder to AR Venkatachalapathy on women publishers and editors

Long years ago, when I began working in publishing, it was an almost entirely male world. Women were to be found in some publishing houses, but mainly in administrative and secretarial positions. The bosses were all men – at least in English language publishing in India – and so were the editors. There was something about their anatomy that seemed to qualify them more to work in the business of creating and disseminating knowledge – an activity that is generally governed by the brain, something that lies between the ears (and not the legs) and looks the same no matter what sort of bodily shell it’s placed in.

As women, we – the handful of us who joined the industry at that time and who slowly made our way to becoming editors – knew well we would never rise to the top of our professions. My bosses at the Oxford University Press were concerned that I was a woman: “We’ve never employed a woman in an executive position,” they told me. “They get married and go away.” They made it sound like a crime – one, clearly, that the men never had to answer for.

The Oxford University Press, where I began work, was filled with kind and caring men: Charles Lewis, Santosh Mukherjee, Ravi Dayal, Adil Tyabji, Adrian Bullock, Dipen Mitra. Yet none of them ever had to answer to the kind of questions posed to me. None of them needed to worry about how they would get home at night if they had to work late. None of them needed to be concerned about the safety of seedy hotel rooms when they travelled on business. None of them had to defend themselves against leering printers who wanted to take you out to coffee when all you wanted was to get a book printed. Not surprising then that their paths to the top were smooth, whereas ours were non-existent.

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Book review: The Mothers Of Manipur—Twelve Women Who Made History

By Namita Bhandare

At 10am on 15 July 2004, 12 angry women—some of them over 60—stood in front of the Kangla Fort in Imphal, stripped off their clothes and, shaking the gates, shouted: “Indian Army Rape Us. Eat our Flesh.” It was a protest unheard of before (or even after) anywhere in India and, certainly, in conservative Manipur. But the Meira Paibis, or women torchbearers of Manipur, had reason to be angry, so angry that they wanted to jolt the system. Another hunger strike or silent march was not good enough. They were responding to a new level of depravity of the army and wanted a new language of resistance.

The mothers of Manipur were using their bodies to protest against the sight of another body, that of 32-year-old Thangjam Manorama, a weaver, who had been found on 11 July, not far from her home where she had been picked up the previous night by troops of the 17th Assam Rifles, then stationed at the Kangla Fort. Read more

Source: Live Mint


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India: ‘Culture of Peace’ literary festival on northeast concludes

‘Culture of Peace’, a literary festival celebrating the diverse and vivid cultures of northeast through writing, music, theatre, film and media, was recently held in New Delhi.

Organised under the initiative of ‘Zubaan’, an independent feminist publishing house, in collaboration with the Heinrich Boll Foundation and Sasakawa Peace Foundation, the festival aimed at bringing pertinent issues concerning the region to the forefront.

Contribution to the Indian literature by eminent writers from the northeastern region like Mitra Phukan, Bhabananda Deka, Dhruba Hazarika and Temsula Ao has been immense.

Distinguished writers, novelist, poets, journalists and academicians from all across the region gathered at the festival to share their opinions and discuss about the literature. Read more

Source: Business Standard

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101 Indian Children’s Books We Love

A list of 101 Indian Children’s Books We Love nips one thing in the bud—raging arguments about “Who do they think they are?” “How can they be the best judge about the best books that children should read?” and so on. An open-ended pick, on the other hand, can only lead to a healthy discussion, not stiff outrage or even disapprobation, in some cases. Continue reading

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Riddle of the Seventh Stone

We like ambition in people. In India, children at a very young age are often asked by doting relatives what they want to become when they grow up: a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer, a scientist, a pilot, or a business executive. Indian parents take great pride in showing off the precociousness of their offsprings when they are able to set an ambition for themselves and rattle it out with an impressive perspicacity in front of their relatives at weddings or dinner parties.
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