From:   shaista husain <>
Sent time:   Friday, October 21, 2011 1:15:38 PM
Subject:   Re: [september17discuss] Changing the Culture Vs. Direct Political Action: A Lesson From India

Sorry, i have no place in this discussion--someone who avoids black/white dichotomies. I believe there are intersections of marginalization--there are also people of color undocumented who don't even speak english--and who shall speak for them? the same facilitator who decided he was going to represent people of color because he has a degree from NYU? Sorry--this structure is rigid, and a bad excuse for progressive anti-oppression work, lazy and bureaucratic. Its difficult for me to see who is policing who in this whole scheme of things---I promote direct action and for creating space where old discursive boundaries are broken down--not separated. I am not into autonomy of working groups but not establishing "native informants" into a "spokes council" who ONLY speak for their particular working group--if one or two people show up because they have the time and they have specific work to do, this happens organically. There is a real problem with this linear top down thinking, it is not horizontal organizing. I have been arguing for pluralism since day one and horizantal pluralism... I do not find this proposal allows for this. But if it is passed, i will work according to the consensus because i am just one voice.

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 2:57 PM, shaista husain <> wrote:
Sorry i can't answer your question, i don't think in dichotomies. I think framing such a question to me is not fair. I think individuals whether white or not, should be encouraged to educate--that's all. If someone cares not to educate others i think that is fine too... but this line comes from a position i don't agree with---the same idea i found when i went to the first PoC meeting. I do believe white comrades should teach other white comrades about oppression. Perhaps, i have misunderstood, yes. The first PoC meeting i attended, it was decided that "no whites allowed" i just disagreed, but the response was, this is consensus, if you don't like it, you can leave--so i did not speak and i left... hoping this would be changed. But it is not.
I just find it evasive that a diagram about spokes should avoid the first meaning spoke which is "speak" and only one delegate can speak for a working group. That is problematic, so far it has been fluid, should it be a man or woman--who decides--others can participate but not speak at a spokesmeeting, so rigid? so far at our open GA anyone can speak, i also attended the coordinating meeting on Sunday at 9pm where all the groups come to discuss, some groups were not there, some groups had four people, some people like me just came to learn without being of any particular working group (rather from the hospital staff seeking kitchen people to collaborate with...) i like the idea that anyone can speak and come and go--i appreciate that anyone can represent themselves. I don't like the idea of self imposed leadership, I don't like the idea that there can be no discussion about the same facilitators facilitating every meeting all the time....shoving structure of GA on the whole meeting.. rather than being democratic.
I like fluidity in identities of color, i don't believe in assigning delegates to "marginalized groups" because often those delegates just speak for themselves --

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 2:32 PM, Charles Lenchner <> wrote:
Shaista, I wonder if you misunderstood.
If you disagree with that statement, then consider the opposite: 'It is the responsibility of caucuses to educate others about oppression.'
that is a shift of responsibility that places the onus on the marginalized group instead of on everybody. Is that what you seek?


On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 12:10 PM, shaista husain <> wrote:
why should there only be one spokes per working group? how do we establish who that person is, working groups will begin to splinter and proliferate instead of unify, if this policy is mandated, i have seen it in every left organization--splintering of all activists along the lines of vanguardism...This establishes hierarchies within working groups.

Also--do we need the caucus for another layer of bureaucratic decionmaking? I thought we had a safe spaces comittee that would make sure there would be no escalation of oppression within the OWS. Also i don't agree with "whites not allowed" in a people of color working group, as i have disagree with, as much i disagree with "non-whites not allowed" in the caucuses, i don't buy into racial or ethnic "authenticity" and find it extremely problematic as most folks are racially mixed and whites are themselves ethnic minorities---ie. spanish, arabs, italians, irish, etc etc...I also don't approve of "men" not allowed in a feminist caucus--as much i don't like "straight people" not allowed in a queer caucus for example--this defeats all purpose of plurality and diversity. This proposal is highly problematic divisions being proposed. This is not based on spokescouncils of chiapas or other occupations--plus new york is far more diverse than say spain or elsewhere. The folks presenting this clearly want to establish leadership on a leaderless movement.

Furthermore, the line "It is not the responsibility of caucuses to educate others about oppression"
I completely wholeheartedly disagree with this anti-intellectual cowardly statement. It is the responsibility of every individual to educate others about oppression. Each of us. This is bogus.

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 11:51 AM, Lisa <> wrote:
attached is a copy of the proposal handed out at last night's ga.  it states that a download is available at:

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 11:45 AM, shaista husain <> wrote:
Thank you, this is a timely reminder, what happens to populist "leadership" considering what was brought to the GA last night, re--spokes council, does anyone have any thoughts about that proposal--in terms of "leadership" that is being called for, if i understand correctly.. but i am really really confused about that proposal... can someone please post it please?

On Fri, Oct 21, 2011 at 11:22 AM, Martin Kaminer <> wrote:
If you're not familiar with Anna Hazare, he's been a phenomenally successful crusader against government corruption overcoming full-strength government harassment.  Looking at the tensions emerging in his movement might be a harbinger of things to come, or perhaps already here . .. 

India Ink - Notes on the World's Largest Democracy

OCTOBER 21, 2011, 7:41 AM

Stress Fractures For Team Anna

Prashant Bhushan (L) and Arvind Kejriwal (R) with Anna Hazare during his hunger strike at the Ramlila Ground, Delhi on Aug. 20, 2011.Kevin Frayer/Associated PressPrashant Bhushan (L) and Arvind Kejriwal (R) with Anna Hazare during his hunger strike at the Ramlila Ground, Delhi on Aug. 20, 2011.
Kevin Frayer/Associated PressPrashant Bhushan (L) and Arvind Kejriwal (R) with Anna Hazare during his hunger strike at the Ramlila Ground, Delhi on Aug. 20, 2011.

Is Anna Hazare’s grand coalition of good-government activists cracking up?

Some serious stress fractures appeared this week when two prominent social activists on the 25-member core committee of India Against Corruption left the coalition. They  were displeased that Mr. Hazare and his close ally, Arvind Kejriwal, had chosen to wade directly into politics by campaigning against the governing Congress party in a by-election in Hisar in Haryana.

On one level, the Hazare team’s experiment in politicking in Hisar was a resounding success: The Congress candidate won so few votes that he lost his deposit. But the departure of two highly respected members, from what has been billed as a big-tent organization aimed at transforming the national culture, could dim the movement’s luster.

“The decision to go to Hisar and U.P. was a big setback to the anti-corruption movement,” Rajendra Singh, a veteran environmental activist from Rajasthan who withdrew from the Hazare coalition this week, said in an interview. “To support a political party and oppose another was like acting as power brokers. They have defeated the whole credibility of the anti-corruption movement.”

The Gandhian activist P. V. Rajagopal also withdrew, saying he had not been consulted about the decision to get involved in the Hisar campaign.

“I do not know when the decision to go to Hisar and U.P. was taken,” he said in an interview. “I learned it through the media. I was not consulted even on the phone.”

He was surprised, he said, because this was a major change in focus for what had previously been an avowedly nonpartisan campaign.

“To oppose or support a political party, it was a huge jump,” he said. “A lot of people felt uncomfortable. You can not shift from one position to the other so quickly. It is very unfortunate.”

Mr. Singh accused the movement of operating with the same secrecy that so loudly decried in government.

“You talk about democratic values and transparency,” he fumed. “Where are those values and where is that transparency? We decided to work through a core team and such decisions are not even informed.”

This summer’s vast anti-corruption movement, stirred up by Mr. Hazare’s epic hunger strike, seemed poised to transform Indian public life. The normally indifferent-to-politics middle class rose collectively to its feet, donning topis and declaring, “I am Anna.” A torpid political class was jostled into action, pledging to create the anti-corruption ombudsman, or Lokpal, that Mr. Hazare was demanding.

In the flush of this victory, Mr. Hazare and his allies cast about for the next mission: giving voters the power to recall misbehaving members of Parliament, for example. But signs of discord in the diverse coalition quickly surfaced.

When Prashant Bhushan was mauled by right-wing Hindu activists for his comments in support of a plebiscite to allow Kashmiris to determine whether to remain part of India, Mr. Hazare and others distanced themselves from his remarks and offered only tepid criticism of his attackers. Since then he has scarcely been seen among Mr. Hazare’s coterie.

The paper reported that she bought discounted tickets but billed organizations that paid for her tickets as if she had paid full fare, then used the difference to fund her charity. Responding to a barrage of questions from people on Twitter, Ms. Bedi did not deny doing this, but argued that she had in fact saved these organizations money by not flying business class and had used the proceeds for a good cause.Another top member of Team Anna has also been embroiled in controversy recently. Kiran Bedi, the former police official turned clean-government crusader, was the subject of two investigative articles in the Indian Express this week. As the winner of a police bravery medal, she is entitled to a 75 percent discount on tickets for India’s national airline, Air India.

“What wrong? What offense. Is saving an offense? And then putting the saving to a good cause a crime?,” she Tweeted.

Responding to questions via text message from a noisy public meeting in Meerut, Ms. Bedi said she had done nothing improper.

“I have done what any person who has total commitment to causes will do,” she wrote. “I generate and save all the time for education of under privileged children.”

She said she used the money she saved by not traveling business class to pay for charity.

“Many corporates are aware of my saving. And they were of course obliged that I gave them my day.”

Mr. Rajagopal said he was unconvinced by this argument.

“How can people respect you if you are not ethical?” he said. “Ethics are something not to be preached but to be practiced. This disintegration is a loss for the country.”

An editorial in the Indian Express argued that the episode is a useful lesson.

“Team Anna should square with itself and then start identifying what constitutes corruption, deception, and what is simply human resourcefulness, or finding a way to live with rigid and unrealistic rules. What, for instance, are the clear lines between ‘I used it for my NGO’ and ‘I used it for my political party’? ”

Mr. Kejriwal did not return a telephone call or text message seeking comment. But other members of Team Anna played down the divisions within the coalition, and said that the Hisar political experiment was less a full-bore entry into politics than a warning shot to a complacent political class.

“The idea was to give a mild warning to Congress,” said Medha Patkar, a prominent activist who is also part of the committee. The decision to become involved in the Hisar race, she said, was taken by a smaller working group in Delhi, not the whole committee.

“The issue of electoral politics and movement needs to be discussed at deeper level,” she said. “There is no big disintegration of the movement but, yes, there is a difference of opinion.”

Ms. Bedi said the Hisar vote was merely an effort to show voters they can elect representatives who support the Lokpal bill.

“We are on voter awareness to ensure the parliament gets MPs who vote for the Jan Lok Pal bill,” she wrote.

She said it was normal that some people would disagree and leave the movement.

“Team Anna is a coming together of strong activists and have own causes and views,” she said.

Was it a mistake for Team Anna to get involved in the Hisar election campaign? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.