In chronological order, these are the campaigns we have been associated with in various capacities:
The Pride March
In the wake of the increasing momentum gained for the rights of the “sexual minorities” communities, particularly the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) communities, several cities have been organising pride marches where these communities can occupy public space, indeed march through it, to celebrate their identity and presence. Simultaneously a platform to get the community and the issue more visibility, the centrality of the event is to take out one day in the year to discard intellectualisation and engage in open and public celebration. One of the few campaigns which is celebratory in nature. Maraa’s main engagement has been to help the participating community with creative forms of expression, including posters, theatre, public space events, face painting, masks, hats etc. Read more about the Bangalore Pride March
In early 2008, a series of women started getting physically attacked. While thousands of women have been molested and teased on a regular basis, physical violence in the public domain against women was unheard of, until this point. It was also preceded by an incident of beating up women at a pub in the coastal city of Mangalore. The culprits were never found out, but it became clear that while these women were getting attacked, the public was totally indifferent and did not come forward to help. The police turned out to be indifferent as well with some of them blaming the women for indecent clothing or behaviour! More than ten women were attacked in a horrifying blitzkrieg. Maraa’s main engagement in this campaign was to create awareness and dialogue about this both on the streets and in mainstream print and broadcast media. Read more about the campaign
The campaign around or rather against the Metro Rail has shaped in two ways. One is plain and simple anti-Metro. This is because of the lack of consultation with the people of the city before such a project was undertaken. Another primary reason is the huge debt the state government incurs due to this expensive project, and the opinion that this money could have been more effectively used in public transport which is already available like bus systems. The second type of protest was not so much anti-Metro as much as it was about the fact that building a Metro meant that lots of trees were going to be cut. Many residents did not have opinions about public transport but they directly connected to the trees issue with their health and their children’s and grandchildren’s health, as well as overall quality of life in the city. Maraa’s engagement in both these kind of protests was to largely help with organisation as well as communication material.
Citizens for Justice and Peace
From decades and according to some, centuries, there have been some parts of the population of this country, who have been unfortunate in terms of living in mineral and resource rich areas. As India industrialises herself, and in an increasingly liberalised environment, the land and resources which have been held sacred, are now under threat from industries and indirectly governments. This has led to many parts of the country turning into conflict zones, with invisible state of war being declared between two sets of citizens, often from the same place. A small group of people in Bangalore (including members from Maraa) came together under the banner of CJP, believing that unless there is justice for people, peace cannot be achieved. The group mostly focuses on creating awareness about the issue in a city like Bangalore, and occasionally organises talks, exhibitions as well as other cultural events.
Free Binayak Sen
Originally, Dr. Sen’s incarceration was symbolic of the hundreds of ordinary people who have been suffering the consequences of unethical industrial expansion. However, the campaign took on a different hue when the charge against him was of sedition. With not enough evidence or clarity, the Chhattisgarh government took him on in a legal battle, and as a result saw protests in all parts of the country. Some were on the issue of sedition itself, while others defended Binayak Sen in terms of his stature, his good work, his international recognition and so on. Read more about the campaign
More than 700 street vendors have been displaced in Bangalore. The reasons are unknown, but the displacement has been near simultaneous pointing out to a larger objective rather than street specific reasons. Unlike Delhi, there have been no Commonwealth Games used as an excuse to remove people from sight and mind. Still, the end result is that a lot of people’s livelihoods have disappeared, and no relief in terms of available legal recourse. Left with few choices, and the issue further complicated because of the diversity of stakeholders involved (like Dalits, women, Muslims etc) the campaign has sometimes been split and diluted, and infighting has also been witnessed.