Development Cooperation Handbook/Stories/Responsible Development - Varanasi

YouTube: Kautilya Society

MDG8: Develop a Global Partnership for Development

Responsible Development
a Project managed by Kautilya Society for Intercultural Dialogue
Varanasi, India , 2013

The KS logo
The KS logo

Kautilya Society is an Indian Non-governmental organization with an internationally open membership and worldwide operation.[1]

KS was originally founded in Varanasi, India (1998) by a group of students and scholars of Indian philosophy to promote Indian studies and interfaith dialogue. [2] From a mainly academic concern, the Society gradually expanded its scope to include social action and media production.[3] KS promotes partnership amongst people using electronic media platforms for knowledge exchange and manages a study centre cum residency in Varanasi for on-site personal interactions.[4]

Vrinda Dar : contrasting illegality, promoting participation

Kautilya Society Mission and Values edit

Vrinda Dar - Development and conservation

In the 1980s, the group, that later created the Society, was composed of scholars that had come to learn and experience in Varanasi, the traditional hub of Indian studies. Initially, it was a group for reciprocal assistance in addressing the challenges of the city (both intellectual and organisational); later on, it became a network amongst those who had gone through "the Banaras" experience.

The first concrete actions of the newly created association was the publication of a book on Indian philosophy [5] and the preparation of a documentary film for the Indian television (Doordarshan).[6]

In 2000, the KS started the "hospitality project", i.e. the utilisation of a building in the Varanasi historical city centre as a meeting ground, study centre and residence. The Kautilya Society centre was neither a hotel, where individuals are isolated and the environment is commercial, nor an ashram, where there is an uniform ideology and a "guru" centred hierarchy, but something in between, with some discipline and some autonomy, some community sentiment and essentially a respect for diversity and reciprocal privacy.[7]

Vrinda Dar - How we can learn from others

Later on, the Kautilya Society became an NGO acting as an "umbrella institution" under which members can undertake different projects in coherence with the organisational bye laws, each managed autonomously, all coordinated within the "Kautilya programme", with the overall objective of promoting dialogue amongst civilisations and traditions.

At the centre in Varanasi, KS members independently carry out their studies, travels and social projects; however all Society members are invited to create occasions for peer-to-peer learning and for dissemination of the knowledge created through dialogue. The frequency and the intensity of such occasions depends on the generosity and brightness of the members who reside in the logistic hub at Varanasi or contribute to the community spaces in the Internet.[8]

The Name "Kautilya" edit


Kautilya is the name of a historical figure from the 4th century B.C. (also called "Chanakya", i.e. "the Cunning") and the author of the w:Arthashastra[9] . However it was not the historical figure but the myth around him, that inspired the founders of the Society. The myth narrates that Kautilya was a brahmin who rebuked a king, declaring in a public assembly that he was behaving without intelligence for the state and without ethical responsibility for the people. The king publicly offended Kautilya as a "talkative impotent" claiming that what gives real political power is the concrete force of the warriors and not the abstract intellectuality of the Brahmins. Kautilya challenged the king and claimed, in the public assembly, that he would have proved that intelligence and discipline are the source of all forms of power. He is generally represented with a long braid because he is believed to have promised not to cut his "choti" (braid) until he removed the king from the throne and put the crown on someone not born in the Kshatriya (warriors) caste, but was ready to learn from Kautilya the art of governance. If Kautilya was really, as is commonly believed in India, the guru of w:Chandragupta Maurya he really did it!! And he overthrew the king to reinstate one whom he had taught the art of governance! The founders of the Kautilya Society liked the myth and the idea of knowledge as the real "empowering factor": they wanted a name that referred to the classic culture of India without using the smoky connotations of asceticism and transcendentalism.

Kautilya Society Activities edit

The Kautilya Society members value traditions but contrast bigotry and ethnocentrism (including the modern Western biases). They value difference and therefore do not accept any form of denigration of the others. They contrast all forms of oppression on other persons, especially when motivated by the desire to disempower certain groups or categories. In all activities, the KS requires that women are respected and empowered at all levels, be they members, guests, employees or friends; and that in all external communication, women rights are promoted and violence against women is contrasted.

In all dialogues and research, KS requires that the authority of opinions is based on the degree to which it is freely accepted by the counterparts and that it leads to reciprocal understanding. We contrast any sort of absolutism and any attempt to undermine the credibility of others.

Promoting Intercultural Dialogue edit

Pietro Cocco - Perché cercare il dialogo a Benares  

In the study centre of Ram Bhawan in Varanasi, the Society animates occasions of personal and group interaction, seminars and cultural events; it maintains a library and a support cell for those who want to learn more about Varanasi culture and for newsmakers who want to cover events in India. On the terrace of Ram Bhawan, the KS hosts Filocafè, a space to study, read, network, converse, that has become popular among the younger generations of Varanasi that want to gather in a more international and multicultural context. [10] So, communication now moves through both channels, towards foreigners that want to better understand local India and towards local Indians that want to have a more global horizon of thought.

Promoting Responsible Tourism edit

Responsible Tourism is tourism that uses, in a responsible manner, the social and environmental assets that travellers are interested in visiting. This kind of tourism minimises negative economic, environmental and social impacts, generates greater economic benefits for local people, enhances the well being of host communities, involves local people in decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods, and makes positive contributions to the conservation of the local natural and cultural heritage.[11]

Religious tourism in Varanasi has given to the city, for centuries, enormous economic benefits while maintaining the development of spiritual, philosophical and artistic knowledge. Temples, royal palaces, and ashrams have been the focal points for such tourism.[12]

Vrinda Dar - The case of Darbhanga palace is an epitome of irresponsible and unsustainable tourist development

Foreign tourism, interested in observing such traditions, was begun by the British and developed outside the cultural and religious centres of towns, usually in the cantonment areas. These have contributed to increasing the wealth of the area and to the success of large chains of hotels like the Clarks, Taj, etc. However, utilising these models to unsettle existing patterns of hospitality and tourism, especially in the old city area, is dangerous for the tourism industry itself.

Vrinda Dar - Destroying the ancientness of Varanasi is in fact destroying its potentiality for development

At KS, we believe that the construction of large hotels in the Varanasi heritage zone does not contribute to sustainable development in the city. Large chains of hotels usually bring their own personnel, managers, shops, etc. and employ the local labour only as their lower staff. They don't use the local boatmen, local shops, Brahmins, masseurs, etc. and their luxury tourists don't venture out to see the tiny and congested lanes that are the beauty of an old town like Varanasi. This not only has a negative economic impact on the local people but also contributes to killing local jobs and sustained employment patterns: it burdens the carrying capacity of the local infrastructure, traffic, water and electricity usage, pollutes the already congested areas with CFCs from air conditioners and poisonous fumes and noise from generators.

Ashrams, maths and small guest houses are undoubtedly much more integrated and in harmony with the existing social, religious and cultural dynamics of the town, the Ghat and the river w:Ganges. KS claims that tourism development should be managed in such a way that has a positive impact on human and physical environment. Construction of tourism infrastructures must not be dictated by large economic interests but must follow de-centralised patterns. This is also what Mahatma Gandhi advocated in his philosophy of khadi and swadeshi, an economic model that preserves local identities.[13]

Protecting the Varanasi Heritage edit

Hindu culture, have attributed supreme importance to the preservation of tradition Classical civilizations, and especially the Indian one, have attributed supreme importance to the preservation of tradition. Its central idea was that social institutions, scientific knowledge and technological applications need to use "heritage" as a "resource". Using contemporary language, we would say that ancient Indians considered, as social resources, both economic assets (like natural resources and their exploitation structure) and factors promoting social integration (like institutions for preserving knowledge and maintaining civil order). Ethics considered that what had been inherited should not be consumed, but should be handed over, possibly enriched, to successive generations. This was a moral imperative for all, except in the final life stage of the sannyasa

The KS members strongly feel, like many other citizens of the world, that India has a responsibility towards the world and towards herself to develop in harmony with her spiritual and cultural identity. Varanasi is a universal heritage city and not just for urban Indian or foreign tourists.[14] Its architectural heritage is the frame of a natural Sun Temple, that rises on the banks of Ganges in the form of an amphitheater, where the Ghats form the platforms, the water the altar and the sun is the epiphany of God. In Varanasi, the river Ganges, that normally flows eastward, takes a sudden turn towards the North; where the sun rises perpendicularly to the river creating, at dawn, a burning line of refracting light that cuts across the river and allows the bathing devotee to pour the Ganges waters directly into the "yoni" of light. To betray Varanasi and allow its environmental and social decadence or unsustained commercial exploitation of its unique heritage would be a betrayal to Indian tradition and to the patrimony of future generations. [15] [16]

In 2002, the KS prepared a draft dossier, commissioned by the Varanasi Development Authority, for proposing the enlistment of the Varanasi riverfront Ghats in the list World Heritage sites of Unesco.,[17] , [18], [19]

See   ⇒ Wikiversity The Varanasi Heritage Dossier

The Indian Government could not forward this proposal because one of UNESCO's requirements is that the site is protected by policies, plans and legislations made by local Governments. It was not enough that the Varanasi Development Authority declared it a "heritage zone" [20] ; nor that the UP Government had issued an order (no. 320/9-A-3-2000-127 of February 5, 2000, and 840/9-A-3-2001 of April 11, 2001) prohibiting new constructions within 200 meters from the Ganges river front: because these were not implemented! And there was a widespread pessimism about whether they would ever be really implemented in the near future. [21] [22]

Vrinda Dar - Awareness, documentation, legislation, implementation, monitoring are the processes required in order to protect the cultural heritage

In order to react against such pessimistic sloth, the KS started conducting an awareness creation campaign to sensitise the population and to advocate with the Public Authorities that they implement existing laws and constitute a Heritage Committee that proposes new laws and adequate management plans. [23]

Vrinda Dar, the General Secretary of KS, had been personally leading the KS activities for heritage protection. She believes that the only way forward for sustainable development is to involve local communities, build their awareness about the cultural and economic value of local resources, build on local resources and hold governments accountable for their policies and actions. She maintains a blog [24] where she informs about the progress on heritage preservation in Varanasi.

Vrinda Dar - How we got involved in heritage protection of Varanasi

The PIL edit

In the Year 2005, some Government officers and local leaders suggested that the KS file a PIL, i.e. Public Interest Litigation suit. [25]

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) is an instrument available in India that enables persons and organisations to sue Governments and Public Agencies for not fulfilling their responsibilities and causing damage to the public. [26], [27].

The KS accepted the invitation and filed a PIL (PIL 31229 of 2005) against the Varanasi Development Authority for negligence in supervising the enforcement of heritage protection laws and for turning a blind eye to illegal constructions that were mushrooming in the prohibited zones (that are within 200 meters from the Ganges and within a 300 meter radius of ASI, i.e. w:Archaeological Survey of India protected monuments).

Vrinda Dar - Why Kautilya Society filed a PIL for protecting the heritage in Varanasi

In order to get information on unauthorised constructions and on the activities sanctioned by the local authorities on the Ganges riverbanks in Varanasi, the KS made extensive use of the Right to Information Act (that came into force on 13 October 2005); a tool by which any citizen or organisation can request information from a public authority that in turn is obliged to give a written reply within thirty days. [28]
This allowed the KS to collect evidence on the negligence of the U.P. Government regarding its activities and local implementation of policies, plans and legislation.

In the Year 2006, the Allahabad High Court issued its first order [29] instructing the (VDA) to make a list of all illegalities carried out in the heritage zone and to inform the Court on the measures being taken by VDA in order to address such irregularities. The newspapers and the Varanasi community supported the KS in its effort to bring the public authorities to task.

Back portion of Darbhanga palace in Varanasi - before demolition (2 floors), during construction (year 2004-2012) and after new construction (4 floors) "The photographic evidence shows that the old building was demolished and what stands now is a much taller and wider construction; and therefore it is completely illegal".

After continuous rebukes by the High Court and a period of prolonged hesitation, in 2008, the VDA finally submitted a list of 57 major building irregularities and formally declared its intention to "restore legality" by impeding further constructions and by ordering the demolition of all unauthorised constructions. To achieve this target, the VDA gave precise timelines that they committed to respect.

Meanwhile, the KS presented evidence that, besides unauthorised constructions identified by the VDA, some major new constructions had been irregularly authorised and illegally compounded. The most famous amongst these was the case of the rear portion of the Darbhanga Palace building. The new owners, a Hotel business, first demolished and then reconstructed a much taller building that covered a much wider ground surface and had a much bigger volume. This new building had been compounded by VDA in a heritage zone where, as per the U.P.State Government and VDA building byelaws, neither is compounding permissible nor can a Hotel be built.

In 2011, the High Court nominated an independent inspector to examine and document the status quo of the illegal constructions that had been listed by VDA. The inspection was carried out under pressure from the owners of the illegal buildings and from the VDA officers who had turned a blind eye to these irregularities. The Allahabad High Court discovered gross inconsistencies between the Inspector's statements and the factual on-ground photographic evidence that had been submitted by KS.

In December 2012, the Allahabad High Court nominated another Committee, this time to be headed by the Divisional Commissioner of Varanasi, for measuring and photographing the status quo of unauthorised constructions in the heritage zone. Once again, the report was inconsistent with factual evidence provided by the KS and with written responses provided by the Public Information Officers to queries made by the KS using the Right to Information Act provisions.

The Allahabad High Court responded strongly to being maliciously and purposefully misinformed by the Varanasi Authorities. In the 14th March 2013 judgement, the High Court labeled the report of the Committee as "nothing but an act to protect the illegal constructions" [30]; the Court formally admonished the district officers and ordered the implementation of the previous orders that had not been attended. [31]

The Allahabad High Court also instructed the VDA to speed up the resolution on illegal construction cases pending in lower courts and to carry out its declared plan of demolishing the structures that VDA itself listed as illegal. [32]

In a successive judgement, in July 2013, the High Court stalled a pharaonic construction project of the U.P. State Government on making permanent structures in the heritage zone (on and around the Assi Ghat) in Varanasi that was in open contrast with the Government laws and would have permanently disfigured the Varanasi urban landscape and the skyline of the riverfront ghats [33] These proposed constructions included jetties in the river, toilets, shelters, big bathing platforms, parks, kiosks, parking area, greening, a 9 metre wide and 635 metre long promenade. [34]

As the PIL continues, there is undoubtedly a noticeable sharp decline in new illegal constructions in the heritage zone of Varanasi and ample public debate has taken place on the kinds of laws that should be designed and enforced in Varanasi in order to balance heritage protection and economic development.

The local community is increasingly demanding that it is consulted on programmes and plans for its city and that the VDA, the Varanasi Municipal Authority and other government agencies respect the needs and hopes of local residents and listen to people's voices brought across by civil society organisations. The press is also increasingly demanding that the existing laws are equally imposed upon all and not only on those that don't have enough resources to obtain privileged treatment form the local authorities; and if there is a need to change existing laws, that these are changed equally for all and communities are involved in policy making. The KS also has submitted draft heritage legislations to the High Court, demanding that the VDA constitute a Heritage Conservation Committee that develops guidelines and plans for the heritage zone and proposes modifications in existing laws in consultation with the citizens of the city.

Vrinda Dar   How the cooperation with Local Authorities became conflictual - सहयोग कैसे युद्ध में बदल गया ?

Being Harassed by Local Authorities edit

After the High Court [35] made it clear that the Varanasi Development Authority officers and the Varanasi Divisional Commissioner in person (Mr. Chanchal Tiwari) were responsible for serious negligence[36], the KS became a target of institutional harassment. The objective of this harassment was to impede the progress in the PIL, to discredit the Kautilya Society in front of the public and to deprive it of the support it had been receiving until then. Two FIRs were officially lodged against the Kautilya Society; wherein local authorities levied criminal charges on the top management of the KS.

"Obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions" edit

The first FIR was lodged by VDA against Vrinda Dar, the General Secretary, and Debashish Paul, the Treasurer (and manager of Filocafè) of KS, on charges of "assault or criminal force to deter public servants from discharge of his duty" (Section 353 of IPC), "obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions" (186), "intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace" (504). [37] Misinformed local press gave ample resonance to this sensational news but did litle to conduct an independent analysis of the happening. [38]. The KS has denounced the entire affair as a form of misuse and abuse of power by public officers that were brought to task by the Allahabad High Court on the basis of the PIL suit. [39] However the FIR has not been withdrawn and the case is presently pending in the Varanasi court.

The case has many blatant incongruities. To the point of appearing almost comic.

Varansi, 28 June 2013. We see here four VDA officers in Ram Bhawan, writing the FIR against the KS staff. In their inspection they did not find any construction irregularity. So in the FIR they said that they have been "assaulted" (by the old lady standing in the photo) and insulted (by Vrinda who was not in India) .... comic or tragic?

The incident, that the VDA referred to in its FIR, happened when a team of four officers from the Varanasi Development Authority came to the premises of the Kautilya Society in Varanasi on an announced inspection alleging that an illegal construction was being carried out in the Kautilya Society premises. At the time of their arrival, the persons incriminated in the FIR were not present. One of them, Vrinda Dar, was not even in India but was in Afghanistan, on an assignment of the World Bank. Only women staff of the Kautilya Society were present in the building, along with ordinary members residing in the study centre. The Society personnel are under contractual obligation not to let any person go to the upper floor, unless she/he is a member of the Kautilya Society or has an official authorisation. The team of VDA inspectors had neither an authorisation letter, nor did they submit their identity cards. Instead, the VDA officers treated the KS employees harshly. The Society employees suspected that they were not truly VDA persons also because that day was an official holiday and the personnel of VDA are not particularly known for working extra hours.

In the FIR, it is stated that the KS staff obstructed VDA officers from verifying whether KS was respecting building norms; but the inspecting team freely carried out a thorough investigation at the KS premises and did not find any architectural illegality. Here, we see the VDA officers inspecting the terrace of Ram Bhawan, the KS residency, in a congenial atmosphere - Varanasi 8 June 2013

The staff members of the Kautilya Society that were present in the premises that day, did allow these VDA officers to enter the building and asked them to sit on the ground floor but refused to allow them to go upstairs without official authorisation or presentation of identity cards. Nevertheless, the VDA officers tried to force their way up the staircase, pushing and manhandling Mangala Devi, the 57 year old lady cook, who was preventing them. The 4 members of the VDA assault platoon where so "assaulted" by Mangala who used "criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of their duty". The VDA officers forced their way upstairs and called uniformed police officers to assist them. By that time, Debashish Paul, the KS Secretary, also arrived to the KS headquarters and recognised the VDA officers. The VDA team conducted the inspection of the premises.

Well! the VDA officers entered the building, they found evidence of what they thought was the “evidence of crime” of the Kautilya Society. Did they find secret documents? No! Illegal constructions? No! They found only some cement bags and some piled Chunar stones! Oh! And that seemed to be enough to prove that the Kautilya Society had wrong intentions to build an unauthorised floor! They went to the press and declared that they found illegalities in the KS premises. That was a sensational news! The very society that champions heritage protection is then found guilty of illegal constructions! So newspapers as serious as the Times of India, which previously reported regularly on the VDA inefficiency to protect the heritage zone, acted as a sounding board of denigrative language and went on to publish the news on “Kautilya Society landed into troubles”.[40]

In fact, VDA officers never sent any notice of irregularities found in the inspection. Storing some repair material in the house for use in ordinary maintenance work of an old building is definitely not an offence. And these officers did not mention any special findings of this instance in successive hearings of the Allahabad High court where they continued to report what they had been doing in order to "restore legality" in Varanasi heritage zone.

The VDA, however, filed an FIR for obstructing public servants in discharge of public functions; and this was not addressed towards the brave Mangala who stopped them at their arrival. But against Debashish, who allowed them in and against Vrinda, who was in Afghanistan! What sense did it make to lodge an FIR when the Society employees did not obstruct inspection but allowed the VDA officers to enter the premises once they were identified as such? And what sense did it make to lodge an FIR when, contrary to press reports, the inspection found no irregularities and no notice was served to the owner of the building where they came to inspect irregularities?

Vrinda Dar, fearing that the Varanasi authorities would use the non-bailable sections quoted in the FIR to prevent her from appearing in the hearings of the Allahabad High Court hearing (or at least be sufficiently harassed to withdraw the PIL from the High Court) reported the whole issue to the Varanasi Superintendent of Police and asked them to verify if there was any improper use of power by the VDA against her or the Kautilya Society.[41] Until now, there has been no answer from the Senior Superintendent of Police in this regard.

On asking the Public Information Officer about the reason for the raid, through the Right to Information Act, Satish Chandra Mishra, the VDA officer leading the inspection team declared that "he organised the raid (on a holiday) because he was solicited by Mr. V.K.Singh, the Vice Chairman of VDA who had "personal hostility" against persons of the Kautilya Society. This is the official recorded written statement!

Finally some response did come from the Varanasi Superintendent of Police. But it was not a response to the report of the Kautilya Society on misuse of power by VDA officers. And what was it? Another FIR!

In a note Vrinda Dar explains the reasons why she believes both the FIRs are malicious:
  • the Government Authorities say that they have acted on the basis of complaints they received from the public, but then they filed criminal charges against me before even contacting me or requesting me for clarifications on issues for which they are receiving such complaints. This is not the standard way of dealing with complaints. What was their haste in filing an FIR before asking questions?
  • In both the FIRs, I am accused of infringing norms of the Indian Penal Code that are not bailable (i.e. these sections of the Indian Penal Code that permit the police to arrest me without bail) but these are inconsistent with the allegations made in the FIRs. Even if we were accused of wrongdoings, these would come under the civil law, not under the Penal Code. Penal Code sections have been quoted in the FIRs without linking the alleged actions with the Indian Penal Code norms.
  • I am accused of carrying out illegal civil society related activities, while these have been regularly reported to the concerned Indian Authorities and for which I have received, in writing, required permissions and certifications. In the FIRs, I am accused by Authorities of forging documents that in fact are regular certifications provided by the competent authorities.
"Punishment for cheating by personation" edit

The second FIR was lodged on the direct and explicit instructions of Mr. Ajay Kumar Mishra, Senior Superintendent of Varanasi Police, on indication by the Varanasi Divisional Commissioner, Mr. Chanchal Tiwari. It charged all 9 founders of Kautilya Society of non-bailable criminal offences like "cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property (IPC 420), forgery of valuable security (IPC 467)," etc. The allegations that have been made do not give specific instances of irregularities but make general accusations that the KS has many foreign members and that the KS receives funds from foreigners. Both facts are true, but neither of them is an offence. All KS activities are implemented as per its bylaws and as per the rules and regulations of the country.

Vrinda Dar   Why they want to silence me - मेरी आवाज बंद करना चाहते हैं

The Times of India, in its article reported Vrinda's statement, "since the filing of PIL we are being harassed in similar style as not only the local authorities but the entire machinery has been exposed on the issue of illegal construction in the prohibited zone. But we are prepared for it and under no circumstances will we withdraw the PIL"[42] As in the case of the other FIR, Varanasi newspapers that were previously supporting the KS against the inefficient local administration have generally given ample resonance to the lodged FIRs without counter-checking the issue with the KS.

The KS is contesting the charges and believes that it is a blatant case of malicious institutional harassment and misuse of government power [43]

Allahabad High Court Judgment - PIL 31229 of 2005 - 14 March 2013

The main accusation is that Kautilya Society has foreign members in its Managing Committee. Sure, it is an NGO where foreigners are among its founding members as well as its current ordinary members. All foreigners who become members and sometimes also reside in the Kautilya Society premises are duly reported to the Local Police Office. The names and details of the Managing Committee members and the organisational activities have always been reported to the Registrar of Societies that has approved and renewed the official status of the organisation. The KS receives donations in Indian rupees from both Indian and Foreign members who avail of its services within the society premises and this is an activity within the bye laws of the Society, it is permitted under the FCRA (Foreign Currency Regulation Act 2010, Clause 2, Explanation 3) and it is regularly assessed and reported to the Income Tax Authorities through audited accounts.

In a written reply to the District Authorities, the KS stated that:

  • "We have always declared the organizational activities and regularly audited and declared the financial transactions to concerned offices. In fact, our Society was accorded renewal in 2008 on the basis of our regular functioning;
  • The Society has foreign members in accordance with its byelaws and the Memorandum of Association that is in accordance with the Indian Society Registration Act 1860 that permits foreigners to subscribe to the Memorandum of Association of a Society. The names and details of the members of Kautilya Society Managing Committee has always been shared with the concerned offices.
  • The names and details of all foreign members who consult our study and resource centre, visit, work with us or stay in our premises have always been declared to the Local Foreign Registration Office.
  • Our funds are always audited and submitted to the concerned offices. In a recent scrutiny conducted by the Income Tax Department of the Govt. of India, our financial details and accountancy were considered as per laws and clear.
  • Not only are our activities and documents regular but they have regularly been submitted to concerned authorities and received official approvals.
Vrinda dar - "They harass me because I demand civil society participation to public policies and I contrast the misuse of privileges"

Also in this very FIR, the 9 founder members are accused, in a confused manner, of “forgery” because one of the members, Vrinda Dar, transferred part of her property to another member Pietro Cocco as an individual; a transfer that was done legally and registered with the property registration office as per the FEMA rules and regulations and with approval from Income Tax Authorities."

When the KS management went to meet the Varanasi District Magistrate to object about the FIR, he was apologetic, saying that an FIR is not malicious and that it is just a necessary step taken by the Varanasi police after receiving many complaints from local people (on Facebook!). Perhaps it is true. But one can surely suspect malice because non-bailable charges in the FIR have been made on a very well known organization that has been a partner of the District Authorities for many years and with which, in the past five years, there has been a fierce, but until now honest, litigation in the Allahabad High Court. (See the draft report prepared by the KS on Varanasi's heritage is published on its web site).

And what is particularly inappropriate is the accusation of "Forgery for purpose of cheating" (469 of IPC) and "using as genuine a forged document" (471) concerning the authorisation by Indian authorities to carry out civil society activities in Varanasi, when in fact the authorisations have been given in writing by the Indian authorities themselves.

Vrinda thinks that both FIRs are basically forms of harassment and mental torture meant to discourage her from proceeding with the PIL. But she wants to continue and she wants the Varanasi people to be informed about what is happening. She has shared a   video interview on   ⇒ the TVP channel.

On the facebook page of the Kautilya Society, she sent an appeal to all members and friends to share her message, and this article, as widely as possible so that she is not left alone in bearing harassment in return for demanding legality in Varanasi; and for trying to preserve as much as possible of the Varanasi heritage so that future generations can better understand the values of the Indian traditional culture.

The video has been widely shared by the social media, largely divided in support or opposition to the KS advocacy efforts. [44]

Criticism edit

KS being targeted by anti-foreign sentiments in India edit

Shiv Sena activists have been holding demonstrations against the KS.[45] [46] [47] Although some of these activities might not be genuinely political but sponsored by local businessmen whose illegalities have been exposed by the PIL, there has been criticism, in the town, of the Kautilya Society that it is a "foreign" institution. Actually, the KS is an Indian organization with no bar on multi-national membership. But the very fact that it promotes dialogue and understanding amongst civilizations is opposed by those who promote closed and reciprocally hostile cultural identities.

One of the problems that organizations promoting dialogue face is that sensationalist-media tend to act as a "sounding board" for divisive language. In the desire to gratify the desire for moral superiority of the vastly ignorant public, they tend to disseminate denigration even when the source is only unverified rumors.

Stefano De Santis, one of the founding members of KS says that "It appears that modern societies are becoming less tolerant of the traditional ones and that the "global village" is more divided by global media then the many villages of the classical age. And that is why we are KS felt the duty to promote intercultural dialogue and not limit ourselves to the study of the ancient traditions".

Fundraising edit

In India, the Kautilya Society receives only donations made by its members and only in Indian Rupees. The Society also undertakes projects funded in India by the Indian Government or local Authorities. The Kautilya Society also participates in International Cooperation programmes funded by International Donors like the World Bank, the European Union, etc.

Media production edit

The KS uses extensively new media as a means to interact and communicate. Besides animating a   Facebook group and page, KS has developed a Wikibook-based knowledge management system on Development Cooperation issues and produces videos that are shared the videos on   TVP Channel and on   Wikimedia Commons, under a   Creative Commons License: in this way, project stakeholders can freely utilize and share the video footage with others or partners.

Testimonials edit

Pietro Cocco - Gli MDGs riguardano tutti e ciascuno di noi  
Pietro Cocco - Dialogo tra religioni - (istituzionale e non) progresso in corso  
Vrinda Dar - The case of Darbhanga palace is an epitome of irresponsible and unsustainable tourist development
Vrinda Dar - Talking of construction illegalities at the observatory at Man Mandir Ghat

Vrinda Dar - Fascinating Varanasi where the old and new co-exist
Vrinda Dar   In Varanasi there is a unhealthy business environment - वाराणसी में व्यवसायिक वातावरण अस्वास्थ्यकर है

Vrinda Dar - A call for international partnership to protect Varanasi, which is a world heritage

References edit

  1. What is Kautilya Society, Banaras Biradari.
  2. Estetica dell'incontro, Banaras Biradari.
  3. Kautilya Online Resources, Banaras Biradari.
  4. Study Centre and Hospitality, Banaras Biradari.
  5. Nature and Man, Indica Books {{citation}}: Unknown parameter |Author= ignored (|author= suggested) (help).
  6. Into Our Nature, TVP channel.
  7. Ram Bhawan Residence, Banaras Biradari.
  8. The Kautilya Community, The Kautilya Society for Intercultural Dialogue.
  9. Arthashastra, Penguin.
  10. Filocafè, Trip Advisor.
  11. Cape Town Declaration, Responsible tourism partnership.
  12. Tourism, Religion and Spiritual Journeys, Routledge.
  13. May Kashi be a model of responsible tourism !, Banaras Biradari.
  14. Heritage Resources if Varanasi, Indian Heritage Cities Network.
  15. The Unity of the Aesthetic Experience of the Ghats, Banaras Biradari.
  16. Banaras, the City Revealed, Marg Publications on behalf of the National Centre for the Performing Arts.
  17. Proposing Varanasi for the World Heritage List of UNESCO (PDF), Varanasi Development Authority
  18. Varanasi Dossier for the World Heritage List of UNESCO, Wikiversity
  19. Singh, Rana P.B., Vrinda Dar and S. Pravin, "Rationales for including Varanasi as heritage city in the UNESCO World Heritage List", National Geographic Journal of India (varanasi) 2001, 47:177-200{{citation}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link).
  20. Varanasi Heritage Zone (PDF), Varanasi Development Authority.
  21. Unplanned construction destroying riverfront majesty, The Times of India.
  22. थाती पर मंडराता खतरा (PDF), India Today.
  23. Ganga continues to be exploited, The Times of India.
  24. Banarasi Biradari (Varanasi community), Kautilya Society for Intercultural Dialogue.
  25. History of the PIL, Banaras Biradari, November, 25,2010 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  26. K. G. BalaKrishnan, Chief Justice of India (October, 8, 2008). "Growth of Public Interest Litigation in India" (PDF). Supreme Court of India. {{cite web}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  27. Adv. Mihir Deasi and Adv. Kamayani Bali Mahabal (ed.). "Introduction to Public Interest Litigation, in Health Care Case Law in India – A Reader by CEHAT and ICHRL". Retrieved April, 4-26. {{cite web}}: |chapter= ignored (help); Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  28. THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT, 2005, Gvt. of India, June, 5,1005) {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  29. Allahabad High Court Order Dated 26 May 2006 (PDF), Allahabad High Court, October, 13,2006 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  30. "The Court constituted the committee with fond hope that the committee shall identify unauthorised constructions and check those unauthorised constructions which have not yet been demolished and which are coming on very Ghats of Varanasi city for which this public interest litigation has been filed. We are dismay to note that the committee has not done its job and the photographs which have been brought today before us clearly indicate that unauthorised constructions have been ignored and the inspection has ignored several material facts. We are of the view that members of the committee who carried on the inspection, not carried the same with responsibility and the casual manner in which the unauthorised constructions are being ignored is nothing but an act to protect the illegal constructions." Allahabad High Court Judgment - PIL 31229 of 2005 - March,14,2013
  31. Order PIL 31229 of 2005 (PDF), Allahabad High Court, March, 14,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  32. Allahabad High Court Order of 9 October 2013 (PDF), Allahabad High Court, October,9,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  33. Allahabad High Court Order 31229 of 2009 (PDF), Allahabad High Court, July,29,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  34. हाईकोर्ट ने सरकार से वाराणसी के घाटों के सौंदर्यीकरण का प्रस्ताव मांगा, नवभारत टाइम्स, September, 3,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help)
  35. Order PIL (PIL) No. - 31229 of 2005 (PDF), Allahabad High Court, July,29,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  36. PIL 31229 of 2005 (PDF), High Court of Allahabad, March,14,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  37. VDA overdoes its duty to follow Allahabad High Court instructions asking to strengthen surveillance against illegal constructions in Varanasi, Banarasi Biradari, June,11,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  38. FIR against Kautilya society, The Times of India, June,8,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  39. Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) officers are misusing their official power to harass citizens (PDF), Kautilya Society, June,11,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  40. VDA's joint secretary and zonal officer for Dashswamedh zone, Satish Chandra Mishra, said when the VDA officials entered the building, the care taker of the building, Debashis, not only tried to make them hostage but also interrupted the process of inspection. The matter was reported to the senior officers including the vice chairman and SSP, following which the police reached there. Debashis fled from the scene, added Mishra. He added that an FIR had been lodged against the building owner Vrinda Dar Sauntis and Debashis for violating HC's order regarding restriction on new construction in prohibited zone along Ganga and construction without seeking permission of VDA, he added." FIR against Kautilya society, The Times of India, Varanasi|date=June,8,2013
  41. Varanasi Development Authority (VDA) officers are misusing their official power to harass citizens (PDF), Kautilya Society, June,8,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  42. Another society in trouble for violating laws, The Times of India, October,14,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  43. The Sections of the Penal Code mentioned on the FIR do not correspond at all to any of the allegations made in the FIR. (PDF), Kautilya Society.
  44. Kautilya Society, Varanasi:a boon or a menace?, Espirito Kashi, October,26,2013 {{citation}}: Check date values in: |date= (help).
  45. एनजीओ के खिलाफ निकाला जुलूस, जागरण.
  46. कौटिल्य सोसायटी के सदस्यों की गिरफ्तारी न होने से क्षुब्ध शिवसैनिकों ने जुलूस निकाला, Gandiv Hindi Daily.
  47. धर्म नगरी में विदेशियों को हुक्का, काशी में उबाल,

See also edit

On this Wikibook   Issue 7 ⇒ What is the relationship between "Global" and "Local" agendas and responsibilities?
Related stories:
 Heritage and Community  playlist
 Youth & Heritage - Sweida (8) -  playlist
 Preservation and Development - MAM - Damascus (8) -  playlist
 Muisca Indigenous Heritage  playlist

  In Wikinews ⇒ Litigation for Varanasi Heritage intensifies

  In Wikiversity ⇒ The Varanasi Heritage Dossier

On Wikipedia
 Responsible Tourism
 Cultural heritage
 List of heritage registers
 World Heritage Site
 Heritage tourism
 Interfaith dialogue
 Centre for Dialogue
 Social dialogue
 Public interest litigation (India)
 Right to Information Act

External links edit

 Kautilya Society - playlist
 Vrinda Dar playlist

 Kautilya Society Web Site
 Kautilya Society page
 Kautilya Community Group
 Kautilya Society for Intercultural Dialogue
 Banaras Biradari (blog)

 UNESCO World Heritage List

A view of the Ghat of Varanasi from the Ganges