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Dominic D’Souza: India’s first HIV activist

Twenty five years ago, Dominic D'Souza, lost his life while battling HIV but not before starting a battle for the rights of people affected by the disease.
Dominic D’Souza

Last month, the HIV and AIDS (Prevention and Control Bill) Bill, 2017 was passed in the Parliament. The bill not only aims at improving the life and longevity of those affected and help them battle HIV/AIDS, it also aims at helping them to seek redressal if they face discrimination and are denied the rights as laid down by the act. An estimated 2.1 million people in India are affected by HIV. While things have certainly changed a lot for these people affected by the disease in India, things were exactly the same 25 years back. Had it not been for one man, the fight for the rights for people affected by HIV would have never gained so much momentum.

Twenty five years ago, in May 1992, 33-year-old Dominic D’Souza, a resident of Goa, lost his life while battling HIV. However, Dominic, who’s also often referred to as Goas patient zero, before his death fought against the discrimination against HIV patients and for their legal rights. It all started in 1989 when a 29-year-old Dominic, who worked with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), was arrested from his home and was taken to the hospital. After, he was diagnosed with HIV, he was kept in isolation by the authorities at a TB ward for 64 days under the Goa Public Health Act, which gave the state the authority to isolate HIV patients. Dominic legally fought and was released after 64 days post which he quit his job at the WWF and started the NGO ? Positive people ? along with his friend Isabel de Santa Rita Vaz. Goas patient zero became India’s first HIV activist. Dominics NGO was registered in mid-May and even though he died at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai a few days later, he had already started a fight which would continue to help people for years to come.

Notably, Anand Grover, who was Dominics counsel during his legal battle against the authorities, continues to fight for the rights of those affected even today; hes fulfilling his promise he made to his friend 25 years ago. Speaking to The Times of India recently about his promise, Grover said, A promise I did not realize would have a profound impact on me. It was May 22, 1992. I got a call about Dominic being seriously ill and in Breach Candy hospital in Mumbai. I rushed there. The otherwise handsome young man was skin and bones, but he was only interested in what I was doing for HIV issues. Whether by design or accident, it became a promise that I’d continue doing legal work for HIV rights.”

The 2005 Bollywood movie ? My Brother ? Nikhil – directed by Onir and starring Sanjay Suri and Juhi Chawla was based on the life of Dominic D’Souza.

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Governance

Dharavi redevelopment to have dedicated areas for manufacturing: Devendra Fadnavis

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Nation Next Newsroom | Mumbai

Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi redevelopment will have dedicated areas for manufacturing…

Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis said that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

Devendra Fadnavis

The Mah Deputy CM says that Dharavi is a great manufacturing cluster, has been kept in mind while planning its redevelopment.

As Dharavi redevelopment has been announced, doubts were raised on whether this locally evolved entrepreneurial hub will retain its spirit.  In a chat on Sansad TV with Sanjeev Sanyal, Member, PM’s Economic Advisory Council and a writer, on an Economic Sutra episode telecast on Nov 6, the Deputy Chief Minister had made it very clear how he foresees the future of Dharavi and Mumbai.

Saying that his government worked on clearing all the bottlenecks, he adds, “We understood that unless we have a place to rehabilitate people, which is nearby Dharavi, this project will not take off. We found out that there is around 42 acres of land which belongs to the Railways. We approached the Central Government and told them that we’ll free up your land. We’ll buy your land and we’ll give you a share in the profit and we entered into a definitive agreement and now they have handed it over to us.”

“The Dharavi Redevelopment project will be the most unique project ever done. In fact, this redevelopment was visualized by none other than Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 but nothing happened – until 2014 when Modiji came and we started governing Maharashtra. The redevelopment will be no less beautiful than BKC. Dharavi is just not a slum but it’s also a great manufacturing cluster, so what we did was that while planning this scheme we have created areas for this entire manufacturing industry along with planning for the rehabilitation of the people. Right now, this entire manufacturing sector is informal, but after this and over time they will come into the formal sector.”

Watch the full interaction here: https://youtu.be/FNeTrm0v0dw

Also, with Mumbai undergoing so many infrastructural changes, questions have been raised about retaining the quintessential character of “aamchi Mumbai,” which apart from being the financial capital of India is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant cities.

Speaking on the land issues, Fadnavis says, “The usable space in Mumbai is very little. It has length, but has limitations on the breadth so taking into consideration all these problems we wanted to design a very robust system for Mumbai for commuters and for vehicles. That’s why the all the new Coastal Road, which will decongest the western side of Mumbai. It will be a ring road type structure along the coast and this Western Expressway carries 60 percent of the Mumbai traffic right, so all that traffic will be mostly accommodated here.”

Commuting in Mumbai is a killer and every day Mumbaikars spend a lot of time on travel. Saying that he wants to reduce travel within Mumbai from anywhere to anywhere to an hour, Fadnavis explains, “Our Metro three is a very unique 40 kilometers of underground Network, which will be the lifeline of Mumbai. It is estimated to carry around 1.7 million passengers per day! All this work will be finished in two or three years and I want that from any place to any place in Mumbai one should reach within less than one hour – that is the planning. We are also trying to integrate the transportation system. Right now, our Suburban Railway is the lifeline of Mumbai. This Suburban Railway carries around 9 million passengers. The new Metro Network which we are creating will be carrying around 7 million or 8 million passengers, almost doubling the current number.”

Adding to this, the Deputy CM says that the 22 kilometers of Sea Bridge that will connect us to the hinterland, “so we have Mumbai, we have new Mumbai and that will be the third Mumbai that will be a land mass which will be bigger than Mumbai with new Mumbai airport. I think the future growth of Mumbai is on that side!”

Also read: Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Governance

Pritish Nandy’s ‘spirit of Dharavi’ tweet sparks off poverty porn debate

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Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm…

Dharavi comments of former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy on Friday, kicked off a storm.

Dharavi

Is squalor for cameras, money more important than dignified living for the residents…  

Former parliamentarian and noted media and television personality Pritish Nandy’s Dharavi comments kicked off a storm when he said on Twitter that Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, ‘is not actually a slum but a tribute to the great entrepreneurial spirit of the weakest and smallest person fighting for his or her livelihood in Mumbai. It is also a model in collective coexistence in one of the toughest cities in the world, where nothing else matters. Not caste. Not faith. Not where you come from. But trust and togetherness.’

While this may be true, what is equally true is the squalor and subhuman conditions that reign supreme in this slum. Netizens felt that Nandy, by romanticizing poverty in this manner, was only feeding poverty porn and tourism. Nandy clarified that he was seeking to keep the spirit of Dharavi alive by “researching the architectural grammar, the cultural history that builds integrated and interdependent societies like Dharavi that have survived and flourished over decades and make that the base for the new redevelopment plans. Not just look at the future but also build in the past.”

The Maharashtra Government had on November 29, opened the financial bids for Dharavi redevelopment project.  While 3 companies Adani Realty, DLF and Naman Group had submitted bids, the Adani Group clinched the project with a INR 5,069-crore bid. The timeline for the entire redevelopment of Asia’s largest slum, with an estimated population of 1 million, might take close to 17 years, the rehabilitation of slum dwellers should be complete in seven years. 

Also read: Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Crime

Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea on Dec 6; HC says plea should be heard on priority due to his ill health

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Radhika Dhawad | Mumbai
The Bombay High Court said ex-minister Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues.

Anil Deshmukh

The Bombay High Court said, as per prima facie, 74-year-old former Home Minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh’s bail plea should be heard on priority basis due to the senior leader’s health issues. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the CBI, said that when Deshmukh’s bail plea was moved on medical grounds, then a fresh medical report needed to be called for. 

Singh said, “There is a compilation that has been given now. There are medical papers attached. We need to go through it. Even though this is not a bail application on merit of the case, it is still being circulated under medical issues. He is getting medical treatment as required. Moreover, medical issues are not static. We need a check on what his condition is right now.”

Deshmukh’s advocate Vikram Chaudhari said the senior NCP leader was being treated but has been suffering from several ailments that require constant treatment and care. Chaudhary said, ”He needs to be released. He is a chronic patient.”

Justice MS Karnik said that the court would hear the bail plea on merits. He said, “I am satisfied that we can proceed with the hearing on merits and give it priority. This is my prima facie opinion that priority should be given. One of the medical ailments (that Deshmukh is suffering from) is degenerative.” Deshmukh’s bail plea would now be heard on December 6.

The bench asked Singh whether he was ready to argue on the merits of the case immediately, to which Singh said he would require a week while Chaudhari said that he was ready to argue. However, Justice Karnik said, “We need to give them a fair opportunity.”

Also read: 10 lakh spectators across 50 km; PM Modi makes history with road show for BJP in Ahmedabad

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