Saturday, November 04, 2006

KHETRO Broadsheet 04: Editorial

The new thrust of "global development" seems to have finally arrived with a big bang in West Bengal.

As the capital of the state, Calcutta has entered a phase of resurrection. Of late, the widespread declaration that we are heading towards becoming a 'neo-city' which will be at par with any other major city of the world, is being heard. To achieve that status, Calcutta needs to lure global business investors to the city as well as the state. The city therefore needs a complete facelift to provide the right infrastructure for investors to feel comfortable. With this, money will pour in and soon the city will be elevated to a level which Calcuttans have only dreamed of.

It is now the new dictum of the state government that we should all subscribe to this dream and cheer the way Calcutta is changing. Enthused by this way of thinking, many have responded to the call and joined hands with the government's new "development" programs as active collaborators. Government-private collaboration and privatization of the public sector is the new trend here.

The phenomenal boom in the real estate sector has significantly changed the cityscape, and now seems to be the prime indicator of development here in Calcutta. The city has a glossier look because of these new urban constructions, unfortunately happening mostly through the encroachment of paddy fields and wetlands on the city's fringes, and by closing down factories without caring too much about the economic or environmental impact. What dream are we actually chasing? And what is the price we will eventually pay for its realization?

Being a Calcutta based organization involved with issues related to community culture, ecological existence and media explorations, Khetro cannot avoid critiquing the disastrous changes taking place. We have initiated a study, "The Changing Landscape of Calcutta" to document the transformation of landscape which is happening at a random and reckless pace. Through this study we intend to learn and understand the consequences of these changes in the ecological fabric of Calcutta and offer potential sustainable alternatives.

In tandem with this, another segment we are exploring is the "Transforming Industrial Landscape" which will look at the eroded industrial scenario of Calcutta.

Editorial Collective: Dr. Silanjan Bhattacharya, Patrick S L Ghose, Ranu Ghosh, Nilanjan Bhattacharya, Mrityunjay Chatterjee (Sarai-CSDS, Delhi)

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  • Khetro has published the English translation of Public Biodiversity Register (PBR) of Teligram village in Hooghly district of West Bengal. It is an anthology on the local biodiversity resources of Teligram documented by the villagers.
  • Khetro Broadsheet is a bilingual (English and Bengali) publication, which evolved from a demand to explore the multiple domains of our living practices. Khetro Broadsheet is intended to create an interactive space in print form by collecting images, expressions, thoughts, and the stories of many unique implementations in the areas of community culture, old and new media, and the ecology.

Please mail: for a copy of the Khetro Broadsheet 04. Limited numbers of issues 02 and 03 are also available. Unfortunately, we are completely out of stock for issue 01!


LIFKEY/ LIFDAT: The making of an illustrated manual on the fish species available in Bengal for the generation of a computer based programme to identify these species. It was done as part of the LIFKEY/LIFDAT project undertaken by Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Indian Academy of Sciences.

The Changing Landscape of Calcutta

For the last three years Khetro has undertaken the photo documentation of the rapid urban expansion taking place in the eastern part of Calcutta (mainly along the Eastern Metropolitan Bye-pass).

  • Community Ecological Mapping: As a continuation of the Changing Landscape Documentation work, one of our members implemented a unique project of participatory bio-resource documentation led by a group of knowledgeable children from a semi urban locality in the Eastern part of Calcutta. The possibilities of using various media forms such as photographs, GPS data, audio recordings and sketches, to document biodiversity have been explored in this Community Ecological Mapping project. It was supported by a research grant from Sarai-CSDS, Delhi.

  • Documenting the Industrial Landscape: A small group from Khetro has been monitoring and photo documenting closed and sick industries in and around Calcutta for quite some time. While documenting abandoned buildings and workshops, both demolished or soon to be demolished, this documentation team is also trying to document the status of the unemployed labour force that was very much a part of ‘the production’ once. This study documentation is also intended to understand their improvised ‘strategies of survival’ in the eroded industrial ambience of neo-Calcutta.


New Approach to Documentaries: Workshops aimed at understanding the history, evolution and future possibilities of documentary filmmaking in the context of emerging and newer developments in media.

Such a workshop was organized by Akor, the core media group of Khetro in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan in Calcutta. The highlight of the session was the production of an experimental short video, Mother Goddess.

Workshop on Free Software: Conducted in collaboration with Sarai, Camp, and the Linux User Group Calcutta. A two day session on installation and basics of Red Hat Linux – an open source code operating system. Participants were students, software professionals and hardware vendors, painters, graphic artists and filmmakers. : Net art workshop and online exhibition of new net art works from Britain in collaboration with the British Council and Sarai.

An interactive session with Sarai representatives at Max Mueller Bhavan Calcutta that discussed the possibilities of new media ad its implementations.

Screening of a series of documentaries with post screening discussions about various environmental problems/issues affecting the South Asian region. Screenings and discussions were held in collaboration with Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, the Department of South and South Asian Studies and the Department of Women Studies, University of Calcutta.

Screening of a series of short experimental fiction films and videos in collaboration with Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, Calcutta.

A Seminar on THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENT: Towards Indo-German collaboration to explore environmental education and media relationships. Organised by the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata and Khetro in collaboration with Humboldt Club Calcutta.

Khetro: In A Nutshell

Khetro is an initiative to foster an open space for cross-disciplinary dialogue and for the implementation of innovative ideas that will explore, exchange and implement within the domains of community culture, old and new media, and ecological existence.

Khetro has programmes to generate, develop and encourage alternative ideas and thoughts on urban and rural public culture, social practices and the ecology.

Our key objectives:

  • To explore the possibilities of media towards ensuring space and scope for pluralistic discourse and implementation with an emphasis on public participation and open access;

  • To operate this as a non-proprietary collaborative endeavour through sustained collective interactions between theorists and practitioners from diverse fields of ideas and activities;

  • To act as a catalyst for initiating multicultural and open dialogue between the subject and the intent;

  • To include semi urban and rural issues within the agenda of socio-cultural transformation is a crucial concern for the collaborative;

  • To produce documentary films, support archiving activities, publish journals, books, monographs and other modes of dissemination, specifically in cultural studies and in the vernacular, and to develop multimedia products and freeware, are priority areas for Khetro.

Khetro is involved in the research and compilation of works in various fields of socio-cultural significance, and is committed to make such information and findings widely available for public knowledge and use.