Interview with Jockin Arputham (Part 2)
Cinematographer: Shaina Anand
Duration: 01:27:32; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 10.209; Saturation: 0.038; Lightness: 0.290; Volume: 0.261; Cuts per Minute: 0.126; Words per Minute: 108.377
Summary: Part two of the interview conducted at the NSDF office in Thevar Nagar, Dharavi took place one day after Jockin's birthday.
He takes us back to the moment during the emergency. Janta Colony is demolished in 1975 , it's dwellers forcibly evicted and moved to Cheetah Camp. Jockin spends a few years underground in different parts of the world, and returns to India when the Janata Party forms the government.
He goes into detail about his tactical politics of "surveys", narrates the case of the Railway Slum Dwellers Federation he formed, then traces the formation Mahila Milan, and the beginnings of his collaboration with Sheela Patel and SPARC.
Jockin takes us deep into his world of giving dreams to women, who remain at the heart of his strategies of collective organising.
Close up shot of Jockin eating bread
SA: So, we'll begin.
JA: Ya, tell me.
SA: Wish you happy birthday.
JA: Thank you
SA: And how many years?
JA: I think I don't know maybe 73 beginning. 72's war. I am very going along with the independence day. 72 years... I think 71st independen... or 72.
SA: Ya 72.
JA: So I am one year. I am '46 born.
SA: So then, we had started the first interview with when you arrived from Kolar...
SA: ...as a young boy. And you were about 17, 18?
SA: 16 then?
SA: So that makes sense, '46 born and you were about 17 when you came.
SA: And we went through your early days, how you were living under different sarees on different balconies...
JA: That's right.
SA: ...in Janta Colony. And Lift and Shift business in BARC. And then the whole Janta Colony story.
SA: And you ended on a note that said that from that experience in one sense you understood Janta power. Power of the people, and in many ways Janta Colony's struggle forms your foundation for who you... went on to be and what you did. So, we will go from there, we need to cover a very long history. We'll try to do it step by step in as detailed way as possible.
SS: So last time you mentioned that during the emergency there were different types of parties who came together in Janta Colony and that was a kind of a experiment. What happened after that? Because people were shifted from there - shifted to Cheeta Camp. And your demands were not met even after the struggle. So, how was that and what happened next - in the shifting to Cheeta Camp? And what was your role in that?
JA: I think my biggest experience of that time... I used to say people 'emergency came for us', because if you look at coincident with all things what happened.... Emergency was declared, then first we have to go underground. Ours is an apolitical activity, very loudly anti-government, whatever we try to do... that is almost like anti ruling party, ruling party that time was congress. So, it is direct confrontation between us and Mrs. Gandhi, the prime minister, because we recognised her at that time.
JA: That time the BARC Portfolio was with Mrs. Gandhi - Anushakti Nagar. Anushakti, atomic energy under her power. So, it is atomic energy against people's power, that is what somebody quoted. Janashakti against Anushakti, therefore all we did was that fighting of your own cause, fighting the emergency was started. Back then whatever I was doing against emergency... it might have been part of politics, plus all the people gathered together that time irrespective of individual parties. We become a very directly aligned with any party which is opposing the government. So that is the reason my movement was become all party movement. It is become as an all-party, but always left the congress party, where it is the ruling party. So, anti congress, anti government- I remember that is the reason I was... I have to go under ground.
SS: Under ground, as in? Can you say where?
JA: Ha ha! Now I can speak confidently. First I was underground within India, within Bombay. Sometime I have spent time quite a bit of time in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh. Then I came back to Bombay as a tough emergency. So, I had to faced... I had to play a lot of... very clearly I used to remember I used to go sleep on the roof of houses, tiled rooves. But it was very difficult to sleep there hanging by ropes so that cops couldn't find me. That is what we did quite a bit.
JA: Then finally we did quite a bit of document on emergency crises, how was the ban, how to organise work,... anti emergency pamphlets - that is the time it is very relevant to me, something like Maharashtra Slum Prevention Act came out against the slum clearance. That was anti eviction.
SS: Vacant land...
JA: Ya! That's right. Maharashtra Vacant Land Tenant Act has come, so we had to work against that. No organising demonstration, etc.
JA: Whatever you want to do you can't do anything because of emergency. So whatever you did is an activity which is totally apolitical. And all the people where I remember, I got so many people arrested with me, not with me... when in my presence. Majority of them were Jansangh, because they are the one who were targeted by the government. I remember I was not caught but I escaped it. That forced me to think about - we did quite a lot of document on emergency crises, arrest, police harassment, traffic rules, bus rules - that time they'd become very strong rules for people to get into the bus by queue, allowing this and that, etc.
SA: When you say "we" did a lot of documentation...
JA: We were quite a bit of group...
SA: Who were they?
JA: Quite a bit of organisation. Network of organisation.
SS: Like which, some names?
JA: Some were... BUILD (BOMBAY URBAN INDUSTRIAL LEAGUE FOR DEVELOPMENT), some other NGO groups, PROYOM (Progressive Youth Movement), all those... there is a leftist, there is some rightist - all these got together - 11-12 of them - we used to hold various training camps. They could all do it under the slum cover, we could do all that. That is the time I was arrested at least number of times. So the whole court scene was documented - somebody came from South Korea to do the document. When they came, they arrived, they brought all the cameras, equipment etc. And they shot when I was taken to the court, when I was in the court and how I got bail could be rejected for me - 3 bails were rejected in a day - 4th time when I was got justice got angry and that is the way I was released - because on a personal bound. I was released. As soon as I came out - that I was planning with my people, how could I get out of the country - that is the first time I went to... I took all the documents, films, I took them to Japan.
JA: I went to Japan, Tokyo - from there I was outside India for almost... almost 18 or 19 months. From Japan I went to Manila, I went to Penang, I went to Malaysia all around south east Asia - because I can't stay anywhere without having a full visa - always you have to get extension of visa. So I used to go out to another country, another country, like that travel around. I was able to came back to India only when government of India - Indira Gandhi lost, then Janta government came. And Janta government withdrew all my cases, then I came to India. Till then It was not possible for me to look back, come back to India. Because I anticipated problem directly from the government - government of India, that's it, straight away.
SA: These documents (?) that you're talking about, do you have them?
JA: I don't know... I think I might be having something. But that time there are 3 movies shot by Saeed Mirza about slum eviction - he created 3 documents - on Urban Housing. These are the documents where that time banned. One supposed to be released on Doordarshan, therefore it gone banned. After that continuously all the 3 documentary...
SA: 3rd one is what?
JA: ...One is directly Janta Colony, Slum Eviction. 2nd one is "You Can't Afford to Buy the Justice" - that was also back on Janta Colony. These are the 3 documents I remember very well - it was in All India... Doordarshan therefore, that ban was a big issue - that was there only - after that I never tried it.
SA: Then they say that the final cut was submitted on 23rd of June, and next morning emergency was declared - that's why it was - not even banned or censored - they just made it vanish.
JA: I think there is quite a lot of story on that. But it was like very clearly it was banned. I think some tried.. I don't know who are the people who tried it.
SA: One Doordarshan sponsored, one BUILD directly commissioned.
SS: Was BBC also doing...?
JA: BBC was doing quite a lot of documents, lot of bit of it came out - on Janta Colony. BBC... I was saved from getting killed when they... in Janta Colony I was arrested and that is the day 1 week before - I think I had a very big public meeting with Dr. Mathew Kurian, in Janta Colony. That is the time we managed to get out Mr. Mathew Kurian - he's an MP, CPM MP. He got out, I was there. Then I prepared myself to court arrest on that day... when they took me to there only Anushakti Nagar. And I though that is the last day. And even they told already. That is the time, maybe around 7 o'clock BBC news, in broadcast 'Jockin has been arrested with 20 or 21 women' ...big noise, and this is what (was) heard by the police. Immediately they took me out, otherwise they'd tied my hands and they were trying to take me somewhere, with the towel. And then that is what they said 'if BBC hadn't announced, today would've been your funeral'. And that's what I thought too.
JA: But at the same time, now Mr. Roy he's a very close friend of mine - A.N. Roy that is the time he was searching for me. That time he was not a commissioner, he was DCP - some district I don't know in Bombay only. Very recently we were talking about that incident and that time he was very famous for working and getting people arrested under emergency against... what worked for against emergency. One day we were sitting and having a chat, that is the time he was telling all about it. And I was telling him how I was fooling them and I was running away and they could not catch me, how 80% of police was with me - 80% of police personnel was supporting me, therefore I could not be arrested and taken anywhere, any seriously doing things. Anyways this is what happened at that time.
SA: So, just to finish that thread... any of these films that you have, it'd be quite important.
JA: I am also of the same opinion, I'm trying to catch that...
SA: Because BUILD's office garage got flooded. Their tapes are lost. Saeed doesn't have - Saeed is actually very - he is my mentor. My guru. We had been searching for these films for quite some time.
JA: If you can't get from Saeed then you can't get them from anywhere.
SA: No, that's why... somehow if you had kept the tapes...
JA: I'll try to find out. I'll try to locate it. I know something. I know that other person who had this.... let me try to talk to somebody. I'll try to locate something will get it.
SA: Anyone who might have kept a copy. We asked his editor also, we thought he had it. He said he doesn't have.
JA: I don't know I think after emergency all this hectic - all where people were trying to hide the things...
SA: No, but because you particular said you took them while you were traveling.
SA: To Japan.
JA: I gave it to somebody in Japan to do the document, it was given to one association there, that is the church network. They are the one who did this editing and... I think BBC... well I'll find out somebody in BBC I know, they might be having it. They released twice thrice, very recently about two, three years back there was very big document published by BBC... No, I don't know its not BBC, somebody from... I think its BBC. There is whole document of Dharavi, was in Doordarshan in which they quoted that. I (was) got a shock. I was sitting here only, my TV was here, I was watching that movie - watching that Dharavi story, its about 40-45 minutes.
SA: So, they quoted footage...?
JA: Ya ya. That day I got a shock.
SS: There is a mention that after the emergency Shah Commission was appointed.
JA; Yes, Yes, I was participating in that.
SS: So then the people, the case of Janta Colony was presented?
JA: Ya Ya! I was there, I went and presented to them. I went and had at least 6-7 meetings with the Shah commission before going to Shah Commission. When going to Shah Commission, I presented to them. I did everything with all those guys where... you know this was... the Commission meeting was held in... that is the police headquarters next to Bombay University. There, I used to go there and meet, met all of them and spoke to them. How I pleaded this case to them.
SS: But, I think in the report there is no mention of Janta Colony, no? In the final report that came out?
JA: Ya... just after making out the case sound and clear - who all are arrested, who got out, how this Janta colony was evicted. I think up to making all affidavit etc., after that we couldn't afford to... I couldn't... I did try to see somebody would come to help us to appoint the lawyer etc, to carry on further. Automatically it will come, that is the idea. Then you, you are into different mode all the time. I was not in the same kind of time because I have to come back to do something else. That is the time I was even fighting with BUILD in down within myself, how to do reaching the things, because all of them thought you stuck there only, they were trying to work out differently.
JA: So I was...
SA: Can you explain more?
JA: See by the time I had been underground or I'd gone out, and BUILD wanted to survive and they got into various kind of welfare activities. When I come down they said they wanted to give me luxury, good salary, good thing, don't want to do the same thing, do something else, not to come to Janta Colony. They even allowed me.. rented a place in Bandra, MIG Colony, a house. They said you are the community organisation coordinator, you should head the team, but you should not go on work for yourself in Janta Colony. Because they are trying to do something else.
SA: What was that?
JA: It was like... You don't get into the main agitation, acquire the whole leadership. Leave it to others. This is what I felt. I felt very bad because they're trying to do Balwadi
, they had acquired 15-16 Balwadis
and they wanted to all this. On one occasion I got angry with them very clearly because they're trying to take out a morcha
(rally) on Sunday. All were planned. And the morcha
(rally) is going to take place on Sunday. I said "stupid buggers, on a Sunday who will witness the rally? Which office will receive you?" Rally is to distract, do something violently to get attraction from the government. You have to go and attack them, you can't go and plead with them. Those kind of very clear things keep me away from. Haan!
they worried about my kind of leadership, where lower leadership comes to me and I go. So, there is change directly. Then I vacated my house in Bandra, came back to Janta Colony. I was living there. Then I fought with them and they gave me 2 rooms for me to live... in Cheeta Camp. See after Janta Colony, (?) is Cheeta Camp.
SA: How many years did you live in Cheeta Camp? Because you went underground during that time.
JA: See first thing, 1976-77 till India Gandhi released, I think after Janta power... three months or something like that, I came back to India. Once I came back to India I got idea (of) network etc. Then I think within about 18 months I went to Colombia and I had a round of spending some time in Latin America, Dominica, Bugatti, all those places.
SA: This was also through Church Networks?
JA: Part of it. This was... there is a guy from Jack Bagni Court, he is from Senegal, that is a separate new network. And he was in the Environment development association organisation, I went through that. And they were trying to finance me for running a newspaper called Jhopdi Ki Awaz
, Voice of the Slum which I started. So its a new entity away from the Church network, not with the all jesuit. This was totally different from... another kind of activity. Therefore, that is where my beginning, I try to get out BUILD and this whole network. Then I try to work separately. Work with independent idea, that is where I try to promote a new concept of Slum Dwellers Federation, National Level Federation. Then going to other countries. That is where, I started with Thailand. From Thailand I went to other kind of non church based organisations. That starting from there I went to (ACHR) Asian Coalition for Housing Right, (HICK) Housing International... with them partly. But I have an independent status which I started working. I think that is a beginning of setting up a SDI network - Slum Dweller International. That is where I started very slowly. I did work for a most 2 years or 3 years in Cambodia. I spent - every month I used to go to Cambodia, setup a federation there. Then I tried to develop all these things in Thailand. Thailand, South Korea,... Vietnam, Cambodia and some more 2 other countries there were little bit. But my concentration...
JA: Oh! Ya! Philippines of-course. But I spent a lot of time, maybe around in 3 months I would have gone 40 times to Cambodia. So, I really worked like every month. I used to go there and organise the people there. That is what my attraction. It had become my own kind of independent initiative, with a different kind of people nothing to do with - back with whom I worked all that BUILD, etc everything was.
SS: So, What was the reason for this shift?
JA: So, I told you how they are trying to...
SA: Become more welfare and NGO I guess...
JA: They tried to have a NGO status, position along with that action, but different focus.
JA: You can say softer and also try to see they are very keen on documentation, they are very keen on putting into the news and translation and interpretation. And I didn't thought there is total independence there. Like for example, how to do a slum survey,... people decision is there, it was not given to the people. You have to fight it out.
SS: And that's the time you also founded the National Slum Dwellers Federation?
JA: Ya I was very keen that National Slum Dwellers Federation takes its position and try to really unite the slum dwellers on an independent note, not any big background. Therefore, even SDI till today it is an non kind of... Even though here is also the first beginning I remember Misereor is a German agency who never supported me, but globally my travelling was supported by them through somebody else. But not imposing any church values on me. I never know that, after 7-8 years only i got to know. That is how I went to South Africa.
JA: I think 1993 I got an invitation to go to South Africa. I said I wanted to go very much there, because of apartheid. Then that is the time Mandela was released. I was very keen to go there. And SHR... many others agencies participated. But we wanted to set up this organisation not with any church background. But when I went to... I remember I went with Celine D'Cruz, myself and Samsuk Bunia Pancha from Bangkok. We first went to Germany to meet the (?), from there we flew to South Africa. There I met all the church groups only 80% of them, 20% non church. But when we started the organisation it is nothing to do with the church. But even though the supporters come as silent support back side support not imposing any values on the organisational structure etc came from the church.
SS: And how was the coming together which SPARC or like Sheela Patel?
JA: ...Anyway that and then I think there is another story comes here. There is another... this is totally another space. I remember even before I went there - nahin
(no) - before I went to South Africa I remember I was... Ya! Ya! Exactly when Janta Colony this problem was... I was facing a problem with... BUILD.
JA: I got out. I started moving around independently here and there. I remember that is the time I went to Colombia and came back, that gave me some leverage, I have no job, no money, no salary, no income regularly coming, I had become a back square one to pauper, very... economically very bad. That is the time I said no I should not leave all these things I should start working, something strong, uniting people, setting up all these things. That is where I started working, getting Janta Colony but all other slum dwellers around first Bombay. Then I... that is the time SPARC was coming up, that is the time I don't know somewhere in March there around February or something they had a Sheela Patel - I know her in the... while she was studying in Tata Institute (TISS).
SA: Which year is this now?
JA: Now I think this is '85 or '86... that is where I found... see I went to see Sheela Patel. I went to see somebody else in Methodist Centre. She was there.
SS: Bombay Central?
JA: Bombay Central. Saeed Mirza's house.
SA: Near Nair Hospital.
JA: Nair Hospital. Patrao Hospital. Ya, I went there at something with a meeting then I saw Sheela Patel and she said, she is trying to do something. Then I got to know that she started an organisation. And all of them used to meet because she didn't have an office or any place. She used to meet at you know that Maratha Mandir theatre - there is a canteen there, there is a restaurant there. In the restaurant 7-8 of them used to meet. From there the SPARC has started. Then they got a garage alloted to them, by that time municipal commissioner. They opened an office there. In that office I went to meet them, and then I was... they're all talking about this and that etc. That is the time I found there is quite a strong women's group was there. All my initiatives used to be done with the men. But even though my crowd is women, but initiative all would come from men. But here is the group with the women and that is where I met Sheela Patel. Then I saw the group there 10-12 of them sitting and talking about, as an NGO. I said I told them see what you're doing all wrong, what you're talking is like, crap, bullshit anyway. Let me put it strongly - I used to be very nasty, I used to tell people shout at them.
JA: And that is the time they Sheela Patel offered - why don't you come and work, why don't we come together? But they said without any agreement let the federation - I'll come as - but, you should not put any condition to me. I will be working on behalf of Slum Federation, building a federation is my job and position will be not by NGO - you cannot tell us any condition. Anyway somehow he said I told them I will be coming and going, but let me try to see how. That is where first time interaction with pavement dwellers. Till then my initiative was with the strong slum dwellers either Dharavi, Chembur, Mankhurd, Malad, Goregaon anywhere - real slums. We did't treat pavement dwellers as part of that. I was almost like anti- pavement dwellers. I used to tell them why you crooks, why you horrible people, where you could't find a ground to occupy, why you have to occupy the footpath, footpath is for the people. So, it took time for me to understand the whole history, how, why you need to organise the pavement dwellers. That is when I joined with SPARC.
JA: I told them very clearly, see I am with a full male domination, you people are female domination. We get married together we'll have a first child, that first child will be a girl child. In fact I said very clearly we should have a girl child that is Mahila Milan. Both of us started working together, found Mahila Milan. And the Mahila MIlan reason is I used to talk to all the women and all those times all the NGOs totally rejected whatever I said. They had various kind of meetings. By then I would have made not less than 10,000 ration cards with my strength and my strategies. But these people, NGOs and all will sit and talk about how to get a ration card, how to do all those things. I got really very angry. Arre!
why you all people are so bad now you are talking of making ration cards. I can make 100 ration cards. You can't even make ration cards and you become NGOs, stylish girls, stylish all of them - bloody don't know what to do.
SA: So, what is your strategy?
JA: See I used to take... my strategy was very clearly - ...in the street if there are 20 houses, map the 20 houses and give the map to the ration office, tell them there are 20 families here 1 to 20, nobody has a ration card. You give ration card to 20 people and keep it and then there is no duplicate ration card allowed there. If any more ration card needed you have to say that - how did you get a jhodpa
(shed) here? It suited very well.
SA: Because map has only 10?
JA: In map there are only 10. And my number- address was electric pole, telephone pole which has numbers. There cannot be any other strong evidence than this. These are the - pole numbers are very serial, kilometre-wise, all is very clearly... this is how I used to go to the ration office - in a day - today submit the form, next day visit, third day checking, 4th day ration cards are issued. I used to do all dadagiri
(bullying) in the ration office.
SA: That time ration card didn't require paatra
(documents) - proof of address?
JA: No, that time it was not there no. But, that was a main proof. Ration card was very important but it was not a document proof, therefore nobody cared. When we started making ration card then it became a proof. It automatically became a proof. I am the only one who was clearly say 'what is your document proof? - ration card'. It was not written anywhere - we made it - in all my court document, all my court case, all my 7 litigations, all this was used - how we used ration card, electric bill, electric application, telephone bill, gumasta
licence - all the 13 documents which I argued with the government... how to make valid documents - through this card, not with your own sister or own your numbers.
JA: Anyway that is where then I joined in Byculla, they had an office where i joined with them. That is where I said now let's work together. SPARC and NSDF became together, then we started a organising. And I have complete access to women. I remember I gathered about 100-150 women in Byculla. When I was talking to them it just spontaneously came into my mind - What are they doing? Asking for your home, your land, look at your face you don't even know anything and asking for house, for land? If the government suddenly gave you land then how will you build the house? What do you have? Anything? You have gold? - No, silver? - no, nothing at all. You're Bihari, stripped of all, you guys have nothing. So why don't we tell the government by showing our money? Do any of you guys have money? Dig deep in your pocket... I think that is where first time... I don't know god knows even now I can't believe that I did it. Whoever was sitting in the meeting 163 or 165 women - I don't know somewhere like that - all of them took out some money, 10 rs, 5 rs, 50 rs, all of them put the money that is where instantly Saving Scheme started.
JA: It was started in 3 days back, after 3 days we saw how much money was being collected. We created our own system. And wherever I went, I went all over Bombay, money was falling like hell. Wherever you start, you go there, in half an hour - 1 hour you start the saving scheme. Appoint a local leader woman, as a leader give the money to her, she should manage the money. And that is why SPARC is surviving even today. Not here. Now the same is applied to 37 countries all aound the world. I did the same thing wherever I went there told them - (if) you need money, to go and talk to the government. And prove that you're saving money in order to get out from this dirty living. We are putting our money own, we want a land, we will build a house. This is what explanation I gave to everybody. That is the basis on which we build, we build (ACHR) Asian Coalition for Housing Right, then we build (SDI) Slum Dwellers International.
JA: Everybody... What is international doing? All these networks to become a member organisation with all of them. Only those who are saving could be partner. Even now I having the problem within various countries. All the people have money, they don't want to come together. They only wanted to fight, say you know Inqilab Zindabad
all that and they don't want to put money. I said I will not trust anybody who is without coming money - because there is no interest here. Now in the savings scheme if you put your money your heart will be with us. That was the only reason in saying. And we started building this whole this bill... like a wild fire. I don't know how may crores we have saved all over the world, all over the 37 countries. But in Bombay, in India I even today I don't know how many crores we have.
JA: And then this built up a relation with HUDCO.... Than we forgot about HUDCO, then we went to bank. Usually wherever you got to the bank... even bank has opened an organisation which... I think today I went to some bank I found that we have 2 crore rupees there. Now you can't keep that kind of money in any account, you have to account. How they have opened their account? Just because of they saw the strength of the group - women group, they opened a bank account without having a registration etc. Anyway this is how this relation. There is a lot to talking about it.
SS: But initially it would have also meant... people must have been confident (had faith)?
JA: People were so confident... immediately after establishing Mahila Milan second thing I have started telling the women - I took all of them 100-some women into a picnic on Sundays. Sundays and holidays I used to take 100 or 200 women, maybe 10-15 men. Taking them all the vacant land available in Bombay whether it is Malad, whether it is Goregaon, whether it is Cheeta Camp, whether it is Mankhurd, whichever land toady I am occupying is about 16 pieces of land of which 4 I already got it, another 12 yet to be... got.
JA: All this land, because we are saving money and set out to search for land, as though its our father's land. You need to think like that how vibrantly worked. And Sunday in Byculla there will be 200-300 women will be there. No need to take ticket, just follow Jockin and say Zindabad! Zindabad!
. They got a seat on the bus, get down Zindabad! Zindabad!
, nobody will ask the ticket. Get down, go for 'this is a vacant land', sit there, freshen up (take a piss), talk to each other - can we build our house here, would we get jobs here, etc. This is what I call as a land search programme. Then we should, we have listed out set up priory. Tell the government 'give us this land. Not this, then another. If not this then another'. So list it out to the government, 10 lands! Atleast give us one. You got a policy, you got land rules everything is there, but give it to us. That is how I started SDI. That SDI grows in the same 4 steps in a big... big way.
SS: When you went to picnics did you actually make slums?
SA: Or were you imagining (dreaming)?
I am... Sorry, let me, don't poke me too much, I will get into my mesmerism. I got into it, I used to say I make all about 200 people sit around me. I tell them all of you close the eyes. Everyone closed their eyes, now dream, how will your house be, how will you sleep, who will sleep next to you, where will your children sleep, will your house have a loft? I used to talk to them. See I am very well in talking to the communities, children, women, girls, others. Like this I can attract all of them. So the crowd is always with me. So everyone must dream of a home. And then as you see the sapna
(dream), the money is increasing. Then we stared withdrawal system, loan system, like that. Even now people... 100's or 1000's of them anywhere, all my countries, (?) countries, everybody saving. The saving is important for us to be part of SDI.
SA: So, how does this work now, once the mahila (women) has done the savings, she can start withdrawing on a need base?
JA: See whenever you need money one is you are allowed to withdraw your own money. But when you come to withdraw, people like me I educated all of them to sit with them and tell - 'With so much hard work you saved your money, if you take your money back then where will you go? And then you will not give back. So don't withdraw. Instead of that take a loan, there is a pressure on you that you give back. Then you your capital is there in order to demand for a house.' Like this I encouraged them. And other people whenever...
SA: No interest loan?
JA: There is, it is very cheap - 1%, sometime even waiving off. Like that. So... see first is... as I gathered the people, I gathered double the people money, money is being gathered. In the name of gathering money, gather the people. And all the people come, they come under the federation. So a settlement comes, no individuals. That is how settlement is the member of the federation SDI. Then I converted all of them into country wise, city wise, town wise, and then they have become a federation... totally for housing. Land and housing.
JA: So, you... because there were now very recently, last 10 days this is happening in Kenya, we have a demonstration everyday, against eviction. With the government of Kenya. Now the government has come out to clearly support with the people because of all of the groups - say I have 20,000 million, or 10 million, or 5,000 dollars... I said that 'when you go there, you go and say this much money is there, we don't want to occupy, we want a house, proper house, you give the house. We don't want free house, we will pay for it. As per our affordable capacity.
SS: Sir, have you seen Shree 420 movie?
JA: No, heard about it.
SA: Old Raj Kappor one.
JA: I have heard many times.
SA: He will tell you...
SA: He will tell you the story.
JA: My God, good.
SS: Because the film also ends with something like this, Raj Kapoor is... earlier he has done a scam with the people.
SS: He led them with false dreams...
SA: ...that we will make Janta Ghar
SA: ...we'll make Janta Colony.
SS: He collects 1-2 rupees from the pavement dwellers...
JA: Very good!
SA: Sab 100-100 rupiya (All 100 rupees)
JA: I have to see that now.
SA; You much see it.
JA: What is a move name?
SA: Shree 420, old Raj Kapoor movie.
JA: I know I know very good songs.
SA: Mud mud ke na dekh mud mud ke
JA: Haaan, I love all that songs even now, not now... five years back, as an activist have a little drink, then I used to buy Raj Kapoor's songs. Have a drink and cry. I love that songs. Arre!
SA: So, that is the crux of the story, when he is reformed from his crooked ways, he tells the Janta (people)...
JA; Where is Shanti goes? Will she give me something? Okay.
JA: Tell her Shree 420... I will tell later to get that movie.
SA: You should watch it. In the end he says we could't make a house in 100 rs, but we have this much money collection, so we could tell the government 'give us a land, we'll make our own house'.
My God, Wah!
SA: And... it was called Janta colony.
JA: Ha ha... My God. I don't think... Wow!
SS: I though perhaps you saw that movie.
JA: No, I have heard of it many times, but haven't seen it.
SA: People forget that actually the story was of housing. They think it was about his crooked and fraudulent ways (420),...
JA: Achha ! Achha!
This film is what literally I've done in the globally today. You can tell me I am Shree 420 that is okay, but this is what I did it. Now I go to the people - I come from India when I go to any place I think I remember I went just Mandela got released, 3 months after he got released I went to South Africa. I went to about 21 slum settlements. You know what I did? 21 saving groups I started. Every slum I went there, 100-200 people they gathered, you tell a story - how I am a slum dweller, what I am trying to do, how to organise the women, what I did, where is the money...
JA: I used to call money means women, mouth means women, who will talk the most? - women. So women come together, put the money together, we'll get house. Who dream for house? Only women can dream for house? Who want the house? Only women want the house. Men can come about 10 minutes and go back. Give a bucket of water, he will walk with it, on the street he will have a bath. Which women could have a bath in the street? So this is how I used to do all that. I don't know. I think I have to interact with you people to get to know more, all this.
SA: Ya ya lots of movies we want to discuss.
JA: Ya ya! My God very good.
SA: That' also the..
JA: Shree 420 haan? Raj Kumar... Raj Kapoor.
SA, SS: Raj Kapoor.
JA: Shree 420
SA: That... Ramaiya vasta vaiya
JA: Haan! Ramaiya...
SA: But... you were saying, maybe we can continue next time. Now music has also begun. But from the 16 sites, 4 new land housing has been built... So, how long is this struggle from the seeing the dream to... land...
JA; ...In India alone, Bombay alone, I've given houses for little more than lakh of people. Gave 1 lakh people homes, through various means, with the government whom I have promise....
oh Shanti just remember Shree 420, Raj Kapoor film
Shanti: Which one?
JA: Your father! 420. Haan, take note Shanti 420.
Shanti: Shree 420
JA: Shree 420, get today or tomorrow from someone.
SA: You will find on YouTube also
JA: I think Shree 420. Any way this is what I have done. For example airport, airport we are able to rehabilitate only about 2000 houses. But 80,000 houses not yet got, all of them stuck there.
SS: I think if we go chronologically, you first started with railway line...
JA: First railways line...
SS: What was that?
JA: See what happened, immediately after that my struggle continued, I think you will get fed up... it maybe interesting also. All along when I started this then I remember one of the government guy Mr. P.S.A Sundaram, he was the housing secretary for government of Maharashtra. Once he called me I remember, some meeting somewhere, then he told me: "Arre! Yaar!
Jockin, you speak so much of things to be done, rallying people, slum dwellers - this is all very good."
JA: All my scene is people were completely good. Sincere. It is the way how you approach them. Therefore, he called me and said "See, here's Central Railway, Western Railway, Harbour line - there's not more than 10,000 slums in these 3 lines. But the railways claims there are 5,000-6,000. Government claims there are 10,000. Some engineers claim there are 15,000. But I don't understand, are you interested in doing something... do you enjoy this?" In same language.
JA: I said, "Sir please give me the job, I'll survey the entire slum for you - how many in railway lands and how many outside, rehabilitating the railway slum dwellers - I am ready to work with you." That is the time The World Bank was trying to do some work. I remember I had somewhere some meeting, there they were saying this. I... I don't know sometime I had a meeting with the housing secretary Suresh Shalvi, plus... Mr. P.S.A. Sundaram. When he become a MHADA chief he said: "Jockin why don't you... I wanted to keep... government can't do the right thing, private agency can't do the things, why don't you under your SPARC - can you do enumeration of the slum dwellers on the railway slums?" I just jumped at it. I said "if you don't pay me that is also fine". I remember Sheela Patel got so angry, me with a background in social work Tata Institute, saying, "Do for free. Take money from them". Than I said "first we will shake hands, then we'll catch their neck", that is my strategy. But she said, "No, no. We have to be very clear on that, why do it like that". Then I said "No... now I only told them about survey, when they come to survey I will catch their necks, then I'll grab their pockets, once I grab the pocket they have to give us money".
JA: Anyway. We agreed to do a complete enumeration with a very nominal cost. And I said "Sheela you take it up because I want to take this opportunity to form a federation of railway slum dwellers". I said "enumeration is an excuse, but forming my railway slum dwellers federation is my objective. Than I will form the railway federation, I build the house, I will shift the people." This was my idea. Why people are squatting theere? - They want a house. How can you get a house? When they are holding a land they will get the land. If the government can't give land, they can't get out the people out.
JA: Then they really understand. Then I had number of meetings with all the SPARC-ies, explained to them how to do it. Then I went from VT to Thane walking on the street, walking on the patri
(railway track). I used to walk up and down number of times. In a day 2 times I would completely walk up to Thane, come back also. That is what happened. Then I gathered some people, Shekhar, he was about 10 or 11 years old and he joined me and lot of others boys. I used to get all the boys and others, girls. Joined them, I set up a NSDF survey team. SPARC - the social workers - well educated. I took the survey. I went to all the people doing survey, but decided we would set up a slum federation at every station. If there are 10 slums, each slum would have a committee, 2 slums would have 2 committees. Like that, complete railways - central, western, harbour - all the area we formed the federation. While completely forming - completing the federation, our objective was very clearly - we formed the railway slum dwellers federation and we built a model house. We built in Wadala. So in Don Bosco Church ground we built a model house, and we invited the people, government and others to say we don't want to live on the tracks.
JA: While I was organising the people I talked to them, how many people want to live on the patri
(tracks)? No one is ready to live there, everyone wants a house. How many homes do you need? 150 sq. ft., 180 sq.ft., 220 sq.ft. - discussed this, all were agreed, all were ready to put the money. That is when I built a house, model house, and submitted the report of the railway federation enumeration report to the government of Maharashtra. That is when they said My God, this was nothing... Everything was mapped! Every ward was numbered, every family was enumerated. All minute details were completed. Completely almost 90% of this was done by 7th-8th std students, children from the slum. From people like me those who are took the idea and did the enumeration by station wise. Not more then 100-150 people in a cooperative housing society. 480 cooperative societies where formed.
JA: Then I know the law of the land. Maharashtra government made it very clearly - you cannot form a cooperative society unless you have a land. So mine is all proposed cooperative society, we will try to work it out. Than demand for land. That is the time I slowly I was working on it. Then finally that is the time the government of India is negotiating with the central railway how to do the rehabilitation of the railway land. That is the time there is a court case, citizen... some lawyers got into form an organisation, NGO...
SS: Citizen Vigilance?
JA: No, something wrong, this is some thing else.. citizen... I'll tell you other.
JA: They formed an NGO to say all these people need to be taken and thrown out of the city. They should be because they are encroachers. That is where...
SA: Citizen Vigilant Committee.
JA: Something like that... it is not vigilant... something... I'll tell you I know the very well...
SA: This was the mid 80's?
JA: Court case... '85. '85. There is a court case...
SA: Was Suttankar the municipal commissioner?
JA: No. after Suttankar. ...
JA: Anyway when this was... so I was trying to work it out that time, and then the World Bank team would come. The World Bank team was trying to come to analyse how to do the rehabilitation. I was sitting and having a meeting in MMRDA and that is the time I got a call from my people - "Bulldozers came to the railway", all houses getting demolished.
JA: I am cutting short of all the story. Otherwise it is... lengthy. We can go into... RSDF separately we can do it. RSDF is one of the very very clear initiative. And in which I was sitting with the World Bank people talking to them I got a phone call. Not this kind of mobile, other phone call with the officer came saying that "Demolition is coming into Mankhurd".
JA: I said Ooh! "Arre
structures built before 85 are to be demolished". Arre
... What should I do I am telling the World Bank people "you are discussing with me how do rehabilitate, see the railway is trying to demolish".
SA: Was Suman Nagar also a part of this?
JA: Right, right, right. The demolition was started at Suman Nagar. Up to that the demolition went on.
Shanti: Food is getting cold
JA: If my mouth is full how will I speak? Mad!
JA: First Mankhurd they bulldozed. I think that is where I was just getting (?) myself. I just really thought what should I do. What is the argument? - All these people are illegal. All the people who are not... by then I had completed mapping of all the hutments, all prior to 1985. I did it all and kept it ready. It was all blue print in which my signature, Deputy collector's signature, Railway signature on the map. Saying this is all prior to '85 therefore,... it was approved kind of thing. Approval. Legal. I said - "Allow all demolition", because I was very sure I am going to win. At the same time I went told all the people - whichever leaders you know, get them and show them place. Nawab Malik, etc all were there. People went with them and created sympathy. That is the time when Bombay was so horrible. Bombay was totally kind of middle class orientation against the slum dwellers, specially railway slum dwellers. They are dirty, they are horrible, etc they should be removed from this city, they shouldn't be here.
JA: And I remember very clearly next day they are still... they are going to demolish. We tried to talk to many other people. Its okay, let them do it. Next day also let them. All my leaders were stuck - whole day night meeting. I told them "I am going to... all of you have to listen to me. We will allow them, then we will arrange a meeting with the chief minister. Where we'll produce our documents, prove our legality".
JA: Second day, Govandi was demolished. After people are crying. I said okay, take care of it. Second day we got a good political momentum. All of the officials came and went. They said "okay okay, what to do now, we must demolish".
JA: Third day. I went to the government with the other sympathisers. We told the government whatever railways is doing is very bad. They said no. The chief secretary Mr. Bohirvar - that is a how I became a good friend of Bohirvar. And I told them "sir this is all injustice. I have a document to prove all of them legal. Entitled for 1985." He said how do you prove? I proved him. "Ohh!" he said "this is all there, Jockin it may be right, but it is not them no? Why don't you show the railway people what you are talking?" - "Sir they are not listening to me". Then he called me, set up a committee because of they were 2 people who were in support with me. No - many other people in the government, that is one UPS Madan was ex MMRDA chair, commissioner and Mr. Gautam Chaterjee who was the secretary that time.
JA: He said "these 2 and Jockin - these are the 3 people, go to the railway. If there is a demolition illegally goes on - if you think it is illegal, you can stop the demolition". And he told these railway guys, "see these are the 3 people who are coming there to visit. If they think anything you are doing wrong, they have a right to stop it and you should stop it. If you don't stop it..., I requested the railway, state is giving the police if you withdraw the police, how they can do it?" He said "sir where did you get this idea?" - Sir, what to say,like that only.. So he said very good. He called the police commissioner. He was there in the team. He said Jockin, Madan and Gautam - if they call you should ask for stopping it. Once you stop you should not allow them to do anything.
JA: My God. We went to Koliwada. We went to Chembur, Mankhurd, we started from Mankhurd. Then I arranged all my people - federation people, all over the track. Everywhere keep ready. When they come you should show the map. I went with them, Chembur station we got down. Mankhurd station. I proved him - see all you demolished, legal people. Therefore I told all the people nobody should... see this you have to really document it. You have to tell that how they were able to see whatever they demolished is illegal demolition. Because the map shows all of them legal, having '85 document.
JA: Then we went to Chembur, Chembur station. They are trying to... the bulldozer has already come. They are going to start. "Where are you starting? Mr. Gupta where you starting?" Arre
this all... I showed take this map, he saw the map, go see the number. No you can't do it. So he told "no demolition here, we will go." Little farther, Chunabhatti, they got stuck there. Then they wanted to have tea. We came to Sion to have tea. That is where he said Chunabhatti demolition is going on. Because we had gone out they thought they are going to do the demolition. The big bulldozer coming there. And we went and I jumped from the bridge in Koliwada on the track. I told them "Stop it! You can't do it, because you see, whatever you planned to demolish, all is illegal. You stop the demolition."
JA: All of us went to CM's office there we met the chief secretary and I proved it. So they also - both the secretaries they proved it. Whatever Jockin says is 100%. All these are old houses. Now, what to do? I said speed up the rehabilitation, and I said whoever's been demolished for them Jockin will build transit house, government will play the money. And rehabilitation has to be done by the government of Maharashtra and government of India. And they said if they don't say land, Jockin will find out an option. That is where the railway rehabilitation took place.
SS: So, where did you find the vacant land?
JA: See they were all over Bombay, I told you no earlier. I went around all over..
SS: Yes but in this particular case?
JA: In this particular case whatever, wherever people today living all the land were identified by me 10 years before.
SS: Like give an example...
JA: Mankhurd, Chembur, now you go to Maharashtra Nagar. All the land whatever rehabilitation has been done, except one land in Vashi Naka, I did't approve of the land. I gave in writing I don't approve of this land. That time there was a condition from World Bank 'no land will be given for rehabilitation unless federation approves it, SPARC approves it'. But he overruled in one case saying there is no other land here therefore we can't do it. So I had complete rehabilitation done on this survey.
SA: We'll continue...
JA: Let me stop now.
SA: Yes, absolutely, but I think part 3 and part 4 that also be done. Because in this detail lots of thing come out...
JA: Ya ya.
SA: We've done 60's , 70's, 85 we've stopped.
SA: So, we are 90... 35 more years to... But we'll do it.
JA: ya ya.
SA: Thank you so much.
Wide angle of hall decoration for Jockin's birthday, Jockin talking to Simpreet Singh
Shot of colorful balloons tilt down to Jockin talking to Simpreet Singh
Close up of Jockin frame zoom out to Jockin talking to Simpreet Singh
JA: Went everything into the holes. Later they all came... quite a lot of architects.
SS: But initially...
JA: Initially nobody came. I said women,... remove your blouse, remove your mangalsutra (wedding necklace) (?) remove blouse and see its width. Remove mangalsutra and see the length. This much only, then its mangalsutra, not longer or shorter. This is the size.
JA: ... How to do this without women. So house belong to her, size belong to her, she needs the house. Who is the centre of the housing? Women. If a woman doesn't have a house will anyone take her home? No need for anyone. That is where I worked with all the people and went on developing slowly slowly, (?) become a MHADA laws... whose knows what is written in the news papers.
JA: That's why told no they made a 10x15 house go into house see the height and weight. How bathroom size should be sit down and try the size so, I have practically developed this. Same demonstration all over the world.