Articles by: Shantanu Dutta

The Gig Worker

The Gig Worker

I usually use Uber Bikes, a bike-hailing service from Uber to get around short distances in my colony area… may be a maximum of 5 kilometers or so.  Apart from Uber, I am aware of at least two other apps that provide such services Ola and Rapido, and have these on my phone too. If  Uber isn’t available or the[Read More…]

by 03/10/2021 0 comments India
The Hangman’s Noose

The Hangman’s Noose

Does the death penalty work ? Or is it an anachronism which is long past its “use by” date ? But still continues to remain in use ? According to Amnesty International,  there are 106 countries where use of the death penalty is not allowed by law and 8 countries which permit the death penalty only for serious crimes in[Read More…]

by 22/09/2021 Comments are Disabled Human Rights
An Age of Rage

An Age of Rage

A few days ago , a few guys were travelling in an electric rickshaw at about 11 pm in the night. The driver , possibly to break the monotony of the hour had some loud music playing on his FM Radio. One of the passengers asked for the music to be turned off or at least toned down. The driver[Read More…]

by 12/09/2021 Comments are Disabled India
Those who built my House

Those who built my House

In the film, Dafan found on YouTube, a young civil engineer is giving a tour of a construction site to his manager and boss. When a worker at the site has an accident and sustains serious injuries, he is rushed to hospital. But despite the best efforts of the doctors, he dies. At this stage, the manager leaves after giving[Read More…]

by 09/09/2021 1 comment India
Dark Shadows – Domestic Violence and the Middle Class

Dark Shadows – Domestic Violence and the Middle Class

A young woman comes to office wearing dark goggles. As her colleagues direct enquiring glances towards her, she says that of late she hasn’t had much sleep and has developed dark circles under her eyes. But her colleagues seem to think they are bruises. In the evening , in the lift of her housing society, a particularly intrusive neighbour looks[Read More…]

by 03/09/2021 Comments are Disabled Patriarchy
Knocking at our Door – The fourth Industrial Revolution 

Knocking at our Door – The fourth Industrial Revolution 

A lot of my work in recent years has been to work for the eradication of Forced Labour in India. The approach favoured in my set up ( and in many others) is what has come to be termed as a “ Raid and Rescue” approach.  An establishment where Forced Labour is identified, a rescue team comprising or at least[Read More…]

by 28/08/2021 Comments are Disabled World
Maid in India : Reflections from a book 

Maid in India : Reflections from a book 

Tripta Lahiri’s book “ Maid in India” on what it means to be a domestic help in an average middle or upper class Indian households is a surprisingly accurate one. It does not paint a binary black and white picture – maids good and noble and employers all evil and cruel. It presents a balanced picture of the benevolent and[Read More…]

by 25/08/2021 Comments are Disabled Life/Philosophy
Displaced Afghans from the northern provinces are evacuated from a makeshift IDP camp in Share-e-Naw park to various mosques and schools on August 12, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. People displaced by the Taliban advancing are flooding into the Kabul capital to escape the Taliban takeover of their provinces. (Photo: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)

Refugee : The label no one wants 

Most people in the world have had the experience of leaving the place where they were born and grew up. Usually they will only move as far as the next big city or to a neighbouring state But for some people, they will need to leave their country entirely – sometimes for a short time, but sometimes forever. There are[Read More…]

by 22/08/2021 Comments are Disabled World
Parliament house in New Delhi on July 24th 2015. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

The 8 minute Parliament

The monsoon session has seen 20 bills passed in both Houses of Parliament, either without discussion or minimal, limited to treasury bench MPs speaking on the legislation. The Rajya Sabha has passed nine bills since the House convened on July 19 and clocked nearly 17 minutes per bill for discussion and passing, as the Centre decided to push the legislative[Read More…]

by 17/08/2021 Comments are Disabled India
Killing Ourselves 

Killing Ourselves 

Recently I watched a film with the title “ Project Marathwada”. The story is about an old farmer from Nandurbar , a small town in Maharashtra. He wants to meet the Chief Minister. His son has recently committed suicide due to mounting debt and so have so many other farmers in the area. He is unable to meet the Chief[Read More…]

by 11/08/2021 Comments are Disabled Life/Philosophy
Walls in the Cathedral

Walls in the Cathedral

As I write this piece ,what lingers in my mind is the picture of the Indian women’s hockey team entering the women’s hockey semi finals for the first time in history even though they eventually lost there. It is interesting turn of events in a country where women are generally denied as many opportunities as men that so many women[Read More…]

by 07/08/2021 Comments are Disabled Patriarchy
The Disabled : The Invisible among us

The Disabled : The Invisible among us

A few days ago, I happened to visit an ATM to withdraw some cash. The ATM was located in a busy marketplace and in a narrow space between two shops. The machine had to be reached by climbing a short flight of steps. At the glass fronted entrance there was a notice which referred to a Reserve Bank circular advising[Read More…]

by 04/08/2021 Comments are Disabled Life/Philosophy
Gender blindness and the Vaccine Gap

Gender blindness and the Vaccine Gap

In a patriarchal society male privilege is not far away. So it should be no surprise that it has entered the domain of Covid vaccinations in India , especially at a time of vaccine shortage. Since the beginning of the vaccination drive, 14.99 crore doses have been administered to women while 17.8 crore doses have been given to men, government[Read More…]

by 01/08/2021 Comments are Disabled India
Nationhood Undefined

Nationhood Undefined

Someone I know serves as a high ranking officer of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) that India maintains under the aegis of the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) to “ manage: its own people. The British had just two such force to control and subjugate its colonial subjects but free India has found it necessary to maintain seven of them[Read More…]

by 28/07/2021 Comments are Disabled India
Lonely and Old : The challenge of India’s seniors

Lonely and Old : The challenge of India’s seniors

Recently I had the opportunity to watch the Hindi film adaptation of Jaywant Dalvi’s famous Marathi play “ Sandhya Chhaya”. Set in the Mumbai (then Bombay) of the 1970s, it deals with the challenges of empty nesters. The play has just two characters – an elderly couple ( endearingly called “nana” and “nani”) who live in a large but empty[Read More…]

by 25/07/2021 Comments are Disabled Life/Philosophy
Progressive laws in a Regressive Society

Progressive laws in a Regressive Society

 The Hansal Mehta directed biopic “ Aligarh” is possibly the most stark of the recent films made that shows homophobia at its most brutal. The imagery of Manoj Bajpayee as the lonely and socially isolated Professor Siras, finding solace behind closed doors in endless pegs of whisky and melancholic Lata Mangeshkar songs will not easily leave you. Professor Siras has[Read More…]

by 20/07/2021 Comments are Disabled Arts/Literature
Azadi : The Resurrection of  a slogan

Azadi : The Resurrection of  a slogan

In August we celebrate the 74th anniversary of our independence. At the time, the communists had raised the slogan then famous or rather infamous – “  yeh azadi jhoohi hai” ..  this is a false independence meaning that this  independence would not mean anything the ordinary people fighting for daily survival and that this was a festival of the elite.[Read More…]

by 18/07/2021 Comments are Disabled India
No room for Dissent 

No room for Dissent 

In the post world war era, when the first wave of decolonisation happened and many countries were given their independence, India was the most prominent of those let go. Most prominent in the sense that India was considered the crown jewel of the British empire and the British King was separately designated too as the emperor of India. India’s independence [Read More…]

by 13/07/2021 Comments are Disabled Human Rights
Natsamrat – Shades of King Lear and other Tragedies

Natsamrat – Shades of King Lear and other Tragedies

  Natsamrat (The King of the theatre) has shades of King Lear in it. However, the masterpiece of this Marathi movie starring Nana Patekar as Ganapat Rao Belwalkar is not just Nana, though his performance is spectacular. It is his best friend in the movie, Vikram Gokhale as Rambhau who lingers. Both are actors on the stage and according to[Read More…]

by 10/09/2019 Comments are Disabled Arts/Literature
The Tattooist of Auschwitz —– Collaboration …. Sleeping with the Enemy

The Tattooist of Auschwitz —– Collaboration …. Sleeping with the Enemy

After reading this book “ The Tattooist of Auschwitz”, the first thought that came into my mind was that this novel based on the life of one man and his wife among others could be the fiction companion of Victor Frankl’s immortal work “ Man’s search for Meaning” written in similar circumstances in a concentration camp. But on deeper reflection,[Read More…]

by 10/09/2019 2 comments Book Review
A History Forgotten

A History Forgotten

During a visit to Amritsar some years ago, en route to the Golden Temple, I visited another neighboring Gurudwara – Gurudwara Saragarhi Sahib. The guide accompanying us narrated a bit of the history of the Gurudwara and its significance but the narrative meant nothing to me. Although I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about history, at least compared to most, all[Read More…]

by 06/07/2019 1 comment India
Storytelling – A Tribute to Female Media Persons

Storytelling – A Tribute to Female Media Persons

Prima facie, this piece is a reflection on the book – “Making News, Breaking News – Her way” edited by Latika Padgaonkar and Shubha Singh which chronicles the narratives of women media persons who have won the prestigious Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Women Media persons. In reality though, this is a tribute to journalists, particularly women journalists who[Read More…]

by 02/07/2019 Comments are Disabled Book Review
Remembering a Golden Age

Remembering a Golden Age

Very rarely one has the privilege and opportunity to see and observe a golden age. Mostly one reads about past golden ages in the history books…. The era of Ashoka, Akbar, etc … All in the past… in modern times, the era of Nehru…. There I have displayed by ideological biases, but I was around in the last years of[Read More…]

by 18/06/2019 1 comment India
A Broken System

A Broken System

I never thought that the face of a broken justice system would be made visible to the nation through a bunch of doctors. As I write, a junior doctor’s strike which initially began in West Bengal, but gradually garnering support enters its second week. Instigated by the assault of two junior doctors by a mob that assembled after a patient[Read More…]

by 17/06/2019 Comments are Disabled India
Side Effects of living – An anthology of Voices on Mental Health | Book Review

Side Effects of living – An anthology of Voices on Mental Health | Book Review

As a doctor because of it, I understood and looked upon mental health issues purely from a clinically detached fashion. I understood the basic facts, that India had one of the largest number of people suffering from depression and is in fact according to India today, the most depressed country in the world today according to a recent India Today[Read More…]

by 03/05/2019 Comments are Disabled Book Review
Shantanu Dutta: Failure of The Rule of Law

Shantanu Dutta: Failure of The Rule of Law

Violence manifests all around us every day, sometimes subtly and sometimes pervasively, but we often miss it. Except for the occasional headlines in the paper, mentioning road rage incidents where two drivers were caught in a brawl or an odd story about domestic violence which managed to escape the deep shutters of society and made it to the court or[Read More…]

by 19/04/2019 1 comment India
Violence and the broken Police system

Violence and the broken Police system

Everyday violence is all around us – all pervasive and yet invisible. Invisible because we live in a society where low-level endemic day to day violence is normalized that we have developed blind spots that stop us from seeing what is sometimes right below our noses – sometimes, often in our own homes. To highlight this, an organization recently held[Read More…]

by 03/04/2019 Comments are Disabled India
Growing Old

Growing Old

For decades, I am observing my mother growing old. 3 memories, 3 falls stay in my mind. The first fall was on the streets of Kolkata and that made her housebound after she fractured her hip and had to have surgery. Fortunately, it was a big house in Kolkata and there was plenty of space to move around but gone[Read More…]

by 29/03/2019 Comments are Disabled Life/Philosophy
Cry the Beloved Country …

Cry the Beloved Country …

Many years ago, I read a moving book appropriately titled “ Cry the beloved Country”. Written by Alan Paton, well-known author of the time, It was set in apartheid-era South Africa. But it could well have been set in India. Every time, I open my newspaper, I read the story of someone or the other who has been denied justice[Read More…]

by 21/02/2019 Comments are Disabled India
Donating yourself – The tortuous journey to donate your organs

Donating yourself – The tortuous journey to donate your organs

The Finance minister , Shri Arun Jaitley underwent a kidney transplant operation successfully recently, following in the footsteps of Mrs. Sushma Swaraj, the External Affairs Minister in 2016. Even as he recovers from the surgery, the transplant has brought into focus, the lives of lakhs of people  living in the shadows – those who are waiting, often for years for[Read More…]

by 26/05/2018 3 comments Life/Philosophy
A street play against witch-hunting in a village in West Midnapore- Photo Credit/ Telegraph India

Witch-hunting with Impunity

“Witch-hunting  is a modern phenomenon with ancient  roots. We are perhaps familiar of people being branded as witches in medieval times when certain people were labelled as ‘witches’ and executed across Europe, Africa and Asia. The victims included Joan of Arc, who was burnt alive at the stake, at the  age of 19 for heresy, on 30 May 1431.” But[Read More…]

by 22/05/2018 1 comment Patriarchy
Unpacking Modicare – The evolving health care paradigm

Unpacking Modicare – The evolving health care paradigm

The recently launched Ayushman Bharat, also known as the National Health Protection Scheme (or even Modicare in popular parlance!) has two objectives — first, creating a network of health and wellness centers to bring all-inclusive primary healthcare close to the community, and secondly, providing insurance cover to 40 per cent of India’s population, that is most deprived, for secondary and[Read More…]

by 15/05/2018 3 comments India
Dying Well –Palliative Care in India

Dying Well –Palliative Care in India

    On 10th May, the high-profile police officer from Mumbai, Himanshu Roy committed suicide by shooting himself with his service revolver. In a suicide note recovered later, Roy is reported to have said that he is taking this extreme step out of extreme depression due to an incurable cancer. Mr. Roy had been living with cancer since 2000 with[Read More…]

by 13/05/2018 2 comments Life/Philosophy
People waiting to get registered at Motihari District Government Hospital in East Champaran, Bihar. With so few doctors employed to work in the public sector of healthcare in India, this scene is typical.

Moving on from Primary Health Care

Primary health care is an important strategy which is the backbone of health service delivery. Primary health care is the day-to-day care needed to protect, maintain, or restore our health. For those who use it, it is both their first point of contact with the government healthcare system and their most frequently used health service. In last 6 decades of[Read More…]

by 11/05/2018 1 comment Life/Philosophy
Is Euthanasia Legally And Morally Valid ?

Is Euthanasia Legally And Morally Valid ?

Is euthanasia legally and morally valid ? This question has been asked in India in different situations. In India, the status of euthanasia is no different. It was the Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug case that got significant public attention and led the Supreme Court of India to initiate detailed deliberations on the long ignored issue of euthanasia The Constitution of India[Read More…]

by 21/04/2018 1 comment Human Rights
Rapes around the country – A citizen Safety Perspective

Rapes around the country – A citizen Safety Perspective

Today, as I write this, the country is outraged at rapes seemingly happening around the country and causing outrage- in Kathua, Unnao, Surat and now Etah. Nothing has much changed since December 2012 when the rape and murder of a 21-year-old college student on a bus in New Delhi shook the conscience of the entire nation. The incident led to[Read More…]

by 19/04/2018 1 comment Patriarchy
The Phenomenon of Bonded Labour

The Phenomenon of Bonded Labour

One of the few good things that emerged out of the Emergency imposed by Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1975 was the Bonded Labour System(Abolition) Act of 1976 which replaced an ordinance of the same name which was enacted in 1975. In fact, eradication of bonded labour was one of the famous 20-point programme that Mrs. Gandhi implemented and monitored during[Read More…]

by 16/04/2018 1 comment Human Rights