The rhetoric of development has always been used as a method to lure people. The cost of this kind of development has always been borne by the marginalised and voiceless people, or the environment. In such a context consent becomes an important parameter if one really wants inclusive development. This open letter describes the plight when the rhetoric wins over the essence of development. 

Dear Development, 

I was in awe of you when they said you will improve my life. You would ease these sufferings and would take the “underdeveloped” in me to a “developed one”. I hoped to come out of this vicious cycle of poverty, as is what meant development to me. I expected to avail a better physical quality of life as that meant development. You were my ray of hope of becoming a human. They said you were good for me, and I simply agreed, because how does my consent matter any way. They know what is good for me. They know what is the best in the interest of development.

I have always aspired to become like the developed countries, as that is what a better life means. I was appealed to, by the common rhetoric of development. Little did I know my cost for development had a bigger picture, vested interests, and a propaganda complementary with it. My development never took my consent. I am the trees of Aarey and I paid the cost of development. I am a slum dweller and I paid the cost of development. I am a native of Kashmir and I paid the cost of development. Only to realise that I had a flawed notion of development being inclusive, holistic and for my benefit and well-being.

That is when I realized the importance of Consent for Development. You can have growth, you can build those structures, but how will you build my inner self?

You came for me and made me a destitute in the name of development. This development was not my development. It was largely governed by the vested interests and the public opinion professed by the propaganda of development. 

You came for me because I was the easy, soft target, I was voiceless and lured by you, development. 

I never wanted this type of development to happen. I never wanted your parenting for my good. I never wanted your progress at the cost of my own. India is my country defined by secularism and democracy. India is my country flaunting those plush green forests. India is my country defined by religious tolerance. But my idea of India does not matter, because that is not what the consensus today says. Surely there was vikas, but not sabka saath. You cut me down, you shut me down, and you threw me out because you were going to make my life better. I am still waitingf for that day to come, if ever it does. 

Yours truly,

The cost of development.

Feature Image Credits: Greenbiz

Sriya Rane 

[email protected]


A common point on the agenda of every political party is women’s safety. Candidates promise to make the campus a safer space for women with the use of surveillance and police presence everywhere. But the question that looms in the air is where consent is during the elections.

As the Delhi University Students’ Union (DUSU) elections inch closer, the University of Delhi (DU) experiences hooliganism at its best. Keeping aside the forgeries, muscle power, and the waste of paper, the elections also turn into a breeding ground for harassment and violation of personal space. It starts with the handing out of pamphlets and flyers at the metro station. Party members, associates, and strangers get in the way to hand out pamphlets and cards while whispering the classic ‘please vote and support’ in the ear. This violation of personal boundaries continues in the e-rickshaw and till the college gates where a line of supporters stand to greet the students, ask to vote for certain candidates, and force students to memorise their ballot numbers.

“As I enter college, people in line ask me to vote for certain candidates and repeat their names and ballot numbers and promise that I’ll vote for them,” says Chhavi, a first-year student at Sri Venkateswara College. A student, who requested to stay anonymous, shared, “I was on my way to the metro station from college, and three men on a bike followed me till the gate while shouting the name of a candidate.” A second-year student from Ramjas College also added, “As I was entering college, men in white shirts were trying to hand pamphlets to students forcefully. I avoided their gaze and continued walking but a car from the parking lot came in front of me. Though the car was metres away, one of the men jumped in front of me, held both of my hands and said in a meeting tone, ‘Sambhal ke chalo yaar, gaadi ag jati’(Be careful while you walk, you could have hurt yourself).”

The harassment continues in so many more ways. From shaking one’s hand forcibly or sending unnecessary Facebook friend requests, to Instagram photos no one gave consent for or getting student’s numbers from the admission form to ask “if they need any help”. As a matter of fact, no one does. They just need you to respect their space.The understanding of consent, boundaries, and harassment lie unclear in the minds of election campaigners and candidates. Even if they do understand, they choose to ignore it.

Pooja Thakur, Professor at the Department of History, Ramjas College, says, “Instead of running a campaign on taking up issues most pertinent to the students and upholding democratic functioning and gender parity and treating the posts they stand for as positions of responsibility and not of power, they end up doing the very opposite. Within the colleges they end up disturbing classes with the beating of drums, loud sloganeering and bursting of crackers. Apart from this, they use tactics as is used in any mainstream political campaigns by distributing freebies to organising informal freshers parties. They also use tactics like confiscation of the students ID cards which is only given to them on the day of voting wherein they are pressurised into voting for their candidates.”

The University is meant to be a place where ideas and dissent run free, where students can finally have the safe space they deserve. Instead, seeds of hooliganism, fear, and censorship lie in its lap. As time passes, more allegations of harassment surface; it makes one wonder, is the University of Delhi turning into space where identities are punished for who they are? Amidst all election manifestos, we are yet to see any points about the queer community or the Dalit, Bahujan, and Adivasi community. Climate change is another issue the parties continue to sleep on. The still silence on issues of inclusivity and harassment serves as a reminder of our privileges.

Image Credits : Jaishree Kumar for Du Beat.

Jaishree Kumar

[email protected]

Recently the Delhi High Court acquitted Peepli Live co-director Mahmood Farooqui, in what seems to be a travesty of a judgement by the judiciary. Feminists and conscientious citizens alike have been outraged.

What has been the case so far: The judgment by Justice Ashutosh Kumar holds that in the modern world where equality is the “buzzword” and where both men and women are “initiators” of sexual acts, consent should not be mere hesitation or reluctance, but a clear and unambiguous “no”. In short, there is no room for a feeble “no”.

“The judgment creates a new defense for the rapist which does not exist in law. There is a double presumption – absence of intention to rape (by the accused) and non-communication by the woman despite a clear ‘no’ from her. The judgment has turned the definition of consent on its head. What was meant to protect the woman has been made into a defense for the rapist. The judgment is dangerous and will allow no conviction for rape at all,” is how Former Additional Solicitor General and noted human rights lawyer Indira Jaising reacted to the judgement. With its head-turning judgement, the judiciary has again established the rigidity of the conservative legal framework. What we are then left with, are the age-old stereotypes of an ideal rape victim, real rape, real resistance, and true consent. What the courts have refused to take into account in their judicial interpretation is that there is no feeble no. A no, in any form of hesitation and resistance is a no.

On the evening of the assault, the facts are these: We know that she went to his house believing they would all be going for a wedding. She found herself alone with a drunk Farooqui and his male friend.  We know she was concerned both about Farooqui’s state of inebriation and his mental health because she called his friend so that he was not left on his own. She wanted to leave soon after arriving. However, Ashish Singh, a friend of Farooqui, asked her to stay back since his wife had not returned, as if being a female friend somehow obligated her to provide “care” for him by “feeding him” in his wife’s absence (pp 4 of the verdict). Despite the fact that she had called a Meru cab (3 times) to leave his home and when the driver couldn’t find the location, she was willing to leave in a rickshaw, she was prevented from doing so by Ashish Singh, using the ruse that it would be unsafe for her to do so. But the judgement still does not take into consideration these interesting aspects into believing that she clearly didn’t consent or was interested in having sexual intercourse with Farooqui. Because c’mon, you wouldn’t want to leave a house so desperately if you wanted to have sex with its resident.

What the judiciary has carefully dissected is the relationship between the accused and the survivor, which it rightly should. it appears that Farooqui and the survivor had multiple interactions usually in the presence of other people. During many of these instances, Farooqui is described as being drunk and there are two mentions of consensual kissing. It isn’t unfair to discern that they may have been casual flirtation between the two. But that is on no account justifiable, nor does it excuse non-consensual sex at any later date.

There is a brilliant animation that uses a cup of tea to explain the concept of consent, and yes, it is as simple as that.


Consent is a constantly negotiated process. Women can consent to certain sexual acts and not others. They can start to have sex but withdraw consent at any time during the act if they are uncomfortable. The judiciary’s stand also reflects the twisted ways in which the larger society creates the definition of consent. There simply aren’t any grey areas between a consensual sexual act and rape. An individual’s hesitation and resistance echoes as loud as a vehement utterance of ‘no’. Just because a woman wasn’t supposedly resolute enough during the act, or preceding the act for reasons which could very well involve fear, does not equate to being ‘playful’ or being a ‘tease’.

In this case, the focus has been conveniently shifted from what the woman said, to what the man understood, illustrating how problematically, the terms of consent can be twisted.

Feature Image Credits: Feminism in India


Ankita Dhar Karmakar

[email protected]