Chiragh Dilli matters!

We at Chiragh Dilli came across the poster for this event scheduled at IIC on 26 August 2022. The same information is also provided on the IIC website events page. The affiliation of one of the panelists Mohammad Sayeed is given as ‘Co-Founder Chiragh-e-Dilli: Writing a City’. Technically this is correct. Sayeed was among the original founders of the blog Chiragh Dilli along with Samprati Pani, the editor of the blog since its inception in January 2017. Sarover Zaidi, who was in many ways involved with the blog from the outset, became part of the team later that year. In June 2018, Sayeed voluntarily agreed to leave the team because he had been unable to either write for the blog or contribute in any other way for almost a year. This was in keeping with a core ethic of how we wanted to run the blog—anyone who is part of the team has to write and also engage with the essays in progress by other team members and guest authors. This was also the sole non-negotiable criteria when we expanded our team this year to include four contributing editors. The attempt has been to consciously not have a distinction between those who ‘think’ and those who ‘labour’ in the functioning of the blog. 

‘A co-founder will always be a co-founder’, we have been told. But the manner in which the affiliation has been provided for the IIC event is not in itself self-explanatory. The convention of presenting affiliations generally involves stating the primary and current affiliation as the first in a list that might include other current or past affiliations. Given that Sayeed’s name is immediately followed by ‘Co-Founder Chiragh-e-Dilli: Writing a City’ gives the impression that he is currently associated with Chiragh Dilli. We would like to set the record straight. 

The last piece that Sayeed wrote for the blog was in June 2017, after which he has not contributed in any manner to the blog. After he voluntarily parted ways in mid-2018, he has not been associated with the blog in any which way. The blog has taken the shape it has over these years through the love and labour, struggles and dilemmas of the two of us—Samprati and Sarover. Making something together is never simple or easy. What has kept us going is our love for writing, for cities and for creating a unique space for thinking with cities, as well as the immense support, cheering on, love and respect of our readers, guest authors and collaborators. This is not a quibble about technicalities—a co-founder can remain a co-founder—but about two women taking ownership for something they have created, about not being okay with false impressions, intentionally or unintentionally, being in public circulation, about not letting their labour be appropriated. 

—Samprati Pani and Sarover Zaidi

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