Open letter to Mamta Bannerji- ‘ Fake- Rapes’


18-02-2012

Madam Chief Minister,

We, the members of Maitree, a women’s rights network in West Bengal, are writing to protest against the manner in which the complaint of rape of a woman in a car in Kolkata on Feb 5, 2012 been dealt with by the government, especially the police.

  • Despite being the Chief Minister and the Home Minister of the State, without giving time for investigation, you have stated that the incident is contrived and intended to malign your government. We are extremely apprehensive that your pronouncement will discourage a just and fair investigation. Supreme Court judgements on rape, say that for such cases oral testimony is enough to initiate the case, and sensitivity has to be shown to the assaulted women who come to seek justice.
  • The Minister of State for Transport and Sports, Mr. Madan Mitra, also made offensive public comments about the lifestyle of the complainant and alleged that the complaint was fabricated to extort money. He said: “She has two children and so far as I know she is separated from her husband. What was she doing at a night club so late in the night?”
  • A section of the police officials seemed more intent on finding “inconsistencies” in the complainant’s statements, instead of taking action against the police personnel who delayed in filing the FIR, failed to get the medical investigation done in time and misbehaved with the complainant

-          At the same time, we would like to point out that there are inconsistencies in the different police versions. Had the police taken a proper attitude from the beginning, the arrests would probably have come much before 18thFebruary and the woman would have had less of a trauma.

  • Despite the Supreme Court judgements that the name and details of the victim of a rape case must be kept anonymous, these details have been made public.
  • Not only was there a delay in getting the medical examination done but no woman police personnel accompanied the complainant to the hospital. The law is clear that that immediate forensic investigation is needed.

It takes immense courage for a woman to report rape and sexual assault.  It is shocking to see that the complainant is being treated as the wrongdoer in this case.

We demand

  1. An immediate apology from you, the Chief Minister and the Transport Minister for prejudging the issue and casting aspersion on the integrity of the complainant.
  2. Action against police personnel responsible for mishandling the case and misbehaving with the complainant
  3. Immediate security for the woman
  4. Fair and just investigation of the complaint

We hope that you will heed our concerns and ensure that justice is done in this matter.

Thanking you,

Yours sincerely,

Members of Matiree

____________________________________________________________________________________

Secretariat: Sappho for Equality, 11A Jogendra Garden, South, Kolkata 700078

Contacts: Swayam 98302 04322 & Jeevika Development Society 98317 40384

[Distributed in the street corner and rally held on 21-02-2012 at Hazra More]

PS- SHE HAS NOT REPLIED THE LETTER YET  

Mill workers in Mumbai will march against the NTC on March 1 st


 

 STOP PROFITEERING AND FRAUD BY NATIONAL TEXTILE CORPORATION (NTC)!  

GIVE EXCESS NTC LAND TO MUMBAI CITY AND FOR MILL WORKERS HOUSING!

Mill workers will march against the NTC on March 1 st from Currey Road station bridge, west to Gold Mohur Mills, Dadasaheb Phalke Road Dadar East starting at 7.30 am

 
Mumbai’s mill lands scam

It was only in 1991 that the Government of Maharshtra (GoM) allowed sale and development of the 600 acres of mill lands in Central Mumbai, in the high-value island-city. This permission was to be given only for revival and modernization of mills, the assumption being that since mill land had been practically gifted away to mill owners in the last century to develop the textile industry, it should not be used for any other purpose. Further, the new Development Control Regulations (DCR), 1991 allowed sale of mill land on the basis that 1/3 of the land should be handed over to the Municipal Corporation for open space for the city, 1/3 for affordable housing to Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority, (MHADA), and 1/3 could be developed by the millowners. In exchange for the two thirds given up, the owners were guaranteed equal land as TDR (Transfer of Development Rights) outside the island city. So they did not lose any land. The mill workers, left without jobs or a future, pointed out that the modernization and revival schemes were fraudulent and the mill owners should not be allowed to profiteer on the real estate boom, without giving the city and the workers their due. Mumbai’s citizens, including noted architect Charles Correa made a plea to the government to plan the use the mill lands wisely, as it were the only open space left in the island city. In 2001 the DCR was again amended, ostensibly to grant mill workers rights to a share of the mill lands. The 2001 DCR gave protection (against eviction) to tenants of existing chawls on mill land, it set up a monitoring committee for payment of compensation to mill workers, it mandated that children of the workers should be given jobs in enterprises coming up on mill lands, and it also said that of the 1/3 of the land to be taken by MHADA for affordable housing, one half should be reserved for millworkers housing. All these concessions gave rise to a spurt of fraudulent ‘modernisation proposals’ and ‘revival schemes’, coming up before the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) in Delhi, using various excuses to make a killing on the real estate market.

The most important victory for the mill workers in this phase was that their right over a part of the mill lands was recognized, and they were promised housing and alternate jobs, all of which was meant to save the area known as Girangaon, and therefore the identity, heritage and ethos of Mumbai. It was also an important gain in principle for the city. However the govt and the mill owners drastically cut down the size land that was due under the 1/3 formula by applying it only to ‘vacant land’ in the mill premises.

Govt- owned NTC’s role:

Until 1996 there were 54 textile mills in Mumbai: 51 composite mills and 3 spinning. Of these 25 were in the state sector, being nationalized mills, and the rest were in private hands. The National Textile Corporation (NTC) had been formed after the nationalization of mills by the Indira Gandhi govt, in 1974. The idea of nationalization was to protect jobs and save the industry from sickness. Now however, NTC is behaving in exactly the same way as the private owners, in lack of accountability, real estate profiteering and outright fraud. In fact the NTC did not even want to follow the DCR and give a part of the land to the city and for common purposes, even if they were being given equal land outside the island city in exchange.

All the NTC mills in India except in Tamilnadu were sick and registered with the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR). NTC declared in the BIFR that it was possible to revive the NTC mills all over the country with an aggressive modernization proposal, which they submitted such a proposal to the BIFR in 2002. The funds for this revival were to be raised mainly from the sale of mills in Mumbai. The NTC‘s revival plan envisages shutting down 77 of its total of 119 mills in India, and running 22. Out of the 22, 18 are supposed to be run under joint venture, as textile related activity with the private sector.

What is this NTC revival plan for Mumbai? 

15 of the mills NTC proposed to sell are in Mumbai, based on which, they are supposed to run another 10 of the Mumbai NTC mills. The current scenario is as follows:

- 7 mills are sold.

- 4 mills are shown as being operative ie Tata Mills (Parel), Poddar Mills (Lower Parel), India United Mill No 5 (Byculla), Digvijay Mills (Lalbag).

- 4 mills are supposedly running as ‘textile related’ Joint Ventures: ie Apollo Mills and Gold Mohur Mills with Pantaloon, India United Mills No 1 with Bhasker Industries, New City with Alok Group.

- 6 mills are still lying closed.

Are the NTC mills really running? 

The entire revival plan that NTC has presented before BIFR, based on which they are selling and developing mill lands as real estate in Mumbai, is fraudulent. The total number of workers in Tata Mills, Poddar Mills, India United Mill No 5, Digvijay Mills is just 2750. The only money that has been spent on modernization is Rs. 130 crores in Tata Mills. What happened to the rest?

Insofar as the so called joint ventures running ‘textile related industries’ are concerned:

- In Gold Mohur Mills, Dadar east, which has a total land area of 7.05 acres, one small shed is being used for storing cotton. The rest of the land has been lying fallow since 4 years.

- In Apollo Mills, Lower Parel, with 6.41 acres, and New City (6.7 acres), Byculla, about 50 sewing machines each are running.

- In India United Mills No 1 (19.45 acres) in Parel there are 100 sewing machines.

Clearly this is a sham and a scam!

If the proposal submitted was for not revival but closure or re-development, which is what it is in reality, these four mills would have had to give land to the city for open space and affordable housing under the DCR. They would have been asked what they are doing with the money. This is the reason are claiming that they are running the mills, as ‘textile –related’ activity.

The NTC through its sale of just 7 mills in Mumbai has amassed Rs. 3999 crores by their own admission. For the revival plan for ALL OF INDIA that they submitted to the BIFR, they need only Rs. 547 crores. They have made a staggering profit of Rs 3452 crores! What are they doing with this money?

Six NTC mills are lying closed, ie 66.87 acres, and is not sold yet. We must act before this asset too is lost to the city.

What the mill workers want:

The unique place occupied by mill workers in the history, identity and culture of Mumbai makes their demand for space to survive in the city a perfectly logical and justifiable one.

All the textile mill unions, supported by a large chunk of opposition political parties have come together on the initiative of Ms Jayshree Khadilkar, editor of Navakaal. They are fighting for their right to survive, their right to the city.

MHADA has built 5216 units for mill workers on the land of New Hind Mills in Mazgaon. The units are still to be allotted through lottery, as there is a dispute regarding the cost to be paid by workers, who cannot afford to pay what the government says it should pay- ie over 10 lakhs for each tenement. The number of mill workers who have applied for housing under the amended DCR, are over 100,000. To build tenements for all of them, MHADA needs 200 acres of land, which comes to a third of the total mill land in Mumbai, not counting the space taken up for former cotton godowns. Out of the total land belonging to the NTC mills in Mumbai ie around 266 acres, they have given just 6.07 acres for mill workers housing. An equal area has been given to the city, making a total of less than 13 acres. What is happening with the rest of the land? Does the city not have a right to know, and even decide on this question? Can the NTC, which is a public sector company amass unexpected and unaccounted profits? Why cannot they contribute more land to workers and the city?

NTC has agreed to handover India United Mills no 6 in Prabhadevi so that a memorial can be built to Dr. Babasaeb Ambedkar. This is a welcome step. Now, instead of demanding FSI in exchange which is what they are doing now, they must release more land to the space starved city.

Mill workers demand:

Mill workers will march against the NTC on March 1 st from Currey Road station bridge, west to Gold Mohur Mills, Dadasaeb Phalke Road Dadar East starting at 7.30 am on the following demand:

-NTC is not running the mills, and therefore the entire NTC land should be wholly used for the public benefit, for the people of Mumbai, and not for private gain.

-Land of the 6 unsold mills should be handed over to MHADA immediately for affordable housing and open space.

-NTC must immediately scrap the joint–venture textile related scheme with private sector in 4 mills and this land should be handed over to MHADA to build housing for mill workers.

The nine unions, while fighting for the rights of the textile mill workers, also call upon the citizens of Mumbai to wake up and join the fight to save scarce space in the city.

Unions:

Maharshtra Girni Kamgar Union, Girni Kamgar Sangharsh Samiti, Rashtrya Mill Mazdoor Sangh, Sarva Shramik Sanghatana, Girni Kamgar Karmachari Nivara ani Kalyankari Sangh, Girni Kamgar Sena, Girni Kamgar Union, Girni Kamgar Sabha, ST & SC Mazdoor Union

Apalling and Shocking -West Bengal: Disabled teenage patient raped in hospital by medical staff


Feb, 29, Kolkata: A hearing impaired patient has been allegedly raped by an employee inside the Bankura Medical College in West Bengal. A complaint has been lodged in the case.

The victim’s clothes and bed sheets have been sent for forensic examination.

A three-member inquiry committee has been formed by the hospital authorities apart from the police investigations to probe the allegations

Bankura SP Pranab Kumar said, “We’ve sent the victim to a hospital in Kolkata for medical examination. The victim’s mother complained that a resident doctor of the hospital took the victim for medical examination when the incident happened.”

He also said that the hospital staff was being questioned and investigations were on.

The incident comes at a time when the West Bengal government has been facing flak over rising rape cases in the state. Earlier this month, two cases of rape were reported in Kolkata.

On Sunday, a 30-year-old woman was allegedly raped by a gang of armed robbers. Earlier, a woman was allegedly raped in a moving car in Kolkata. The woman, a mother of two, also accused the policemen of misbehaving with her and mocking her.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday blamed the Left Front for the deteriorating law and order condition in the state. She claimed that the 30-year-old woman allegedly raped by a gang of armed robbers on Sunday too was a set-up.

“Fake rape charges are being levelled to malign Bengal‘s good name. Baby deaths too are a planned conspiracy by the Left,” Mamata said.


On the questionable legality of the NPR and the UID projects


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Feb 29,2012

Dear Mr Raja

On 13 December, 2011, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance presented its 42nd Report, on the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010, to the Lok Sabha. It was laid before the Rajya Sabha on the same day.

The Report is a severe indictment of the proposed Bill, and of the UID project. The Committee recorded its “concerns and apprehensions about the UID scheme” and “categorically convey(ed) their unacceptability of the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 in its present form”. The Committee “urge(d) the government to reconsider and review the UID Scheme as also the proposals contained in the Bill in all its ramifications and bring forth a fresh legislation before Parliament”. (para 13 of ‘Observations/Recommendation’)

The Report of the Standing Committee specifically raises questions about the legality, and wisdom, of the collection of biometrics while creating a citizen/resident data base. The Report reads (in para 3© of the section on ‘Observations/Recommendations’: “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information without amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament.”

This is a matter for consideration by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home, and it is requested that this be brought before the Standing Committee urgently especially as the collection of biometrics is continuing despite the questionable legality of the exercise.

The Citizenship Act 1955 was mended (in 2004) and section 14-A introduced into it. Section 14-A authorised the Central Government to “compulsorily register every citizen of India and issue national identity card to him”. It recognised the Registrar General appointed under section 3(1) of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1969 to act as the National Registration Authority, and to function as the Registrar General of Citizen Registration. In sub-section (5), it said: “The procedure to be followed in compulsory registration of the citizens of India shall be such as may be prescribed.”

Rule 3(3) of the Citizenship Rules 2003 set out the particulars in respect of every citizen to be contained in the National Register of Indian Citizens. It specifies 12 fields of information:
Name
Father’s name
Mother’s name
Sex
Date of birth
Place of birth
Residential address (present and permanent)
Marital status. If ever married, name of the spouse
Visible identification mark
Date of registration of citizen
Serial number of registration, and
National Identity Number.

Biometric information is not a notified field of information. In any event, and as the Standing Committee on Finance has observed, “the collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information of individuals appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation …”.

In the context of the use of biometrics, we draw to your attention the fact that the Registrar General has not done any testing of the use, and consequences, of biometrics technology on the whole Indian population. The few, meagre, reports that have been produced are from the UIDAI, which has been focussed on marketing the idea than seriously investigating it, as can be seen from a document on the UIDAI website titled “Aadhaar – Communicating to a billion” which may be found atAADHAAR_PDF.pdf. In the notification that sets up the committee to devise a strategy for marketing the idea (found atMedia_Awareness.pdf , the intention of the exercise is set out:

This explains why the only reports and documents on biometrics that has been produced under the aegis of the UIDAI have not been reliable indices of the use, accuracy, consequences of biometrics. These reports may be found atBiometrics_Standards_Committee_report.pdf  which is the report prepared by the UIDAI Committee on Biometrics, December 2009. UID_and_iris_paper_final.pdf    which is the UIDAI’s own report titled “Ensuring Uniqueness: Collecting iris biometrics for the Unique ID Mission” which reveals that this is untested technology, and which sells the idea of using iris scans, and does not investigate it.

uid_enrolment_poc_report.pdf  which is the “UID enrolment proof-of-concept report” based on field study conducted between March and May 2010 and which was made available in February 2011.The admission that “Prior to conducting the UIDAI PoC, there was insufficient reliable biometric data available for residents of India that could be used to analyze and reach conclusions relevant to the implementation of the UID program.” And that ” There was however, limited data available from anywhere in the world regarding the ease of iris capture, as well as the usability of iris images in the case of minors.” The small sample size, the unscientific representation of the results (just bare statements) and the statement that: ”The goal of the PoC was to collect data representative of India and not necessarily to find difficult-to-use biometrics. Therefore, extremely remote rural areas, often with populations specializing in certain types of work (tea plantation workers, areca nut growers, etc.) were not chosen. This ensured that degradation of biometrics characteristic of such narrow groups was not overrepresented in the sample data collected” is significant.

role_of_biometric_technology_in_aadhaar_jan21_2012.pdf which is a January 2012 document produced as a reaction to the Standing Committee report and which express the `confidence’ of the UIDAI, and this is not an independent audit, but an in-house exercise.

It is also of consequence that India has no manufacturer of iris scan equipment.

We request the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, of which you are a senior member, to consider this matter with urgency.

Sincerely

Vickram Crishna, Mumbai, vvcrishna@radiophony.com

Sukla Sen, Mumbai, sukla.sen@gmail.com

Vinay Baindur, Bengaluru, yanivbin@gmail.com

Sudhir Vombatkere, Mysore, sg9kere@live.com

J T Dsouza, Mumbai, jtd1959@gmail.com

Usha Ramanathan, Delhi, uramanathan@gmail.com

and Say no to UID Campaign Join us on Facebook

Vedanta told to get public nod in Orissa for expansion


English: Vedanta Nagar Lanjigarh

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Vedanta Aluminium Ltd has been asked by the government to seek public consent afresh in Kalahandi district of Orissa as a precursor to getting environmental clearance for expanding its alumina refinery and power plant, a move the company wants to avoid as it seeks to get a plan that’s been stalled for two years moving again.

The company needs to comply with 70 points, including the public hearing on the expansion plan, shows a copy of the terms of reference (ToR) issued by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) that Mint is in possession of.

Company officials are in talks with MoEF and the state pollution control board, seeking a waiver on public hearings on grounds that they were conducted twice before—in 2003 and 2009, said a Vedanta official who didn’t want to be named.

“The company has every document to show they are complying with all the points in the ToR (except for one),” the official said. “…they (Vedanta Aluminium) are telling them that the public hearing has already taken place, so another one is not needed. Besides, it will take a long time to convene another public hearing.”

The person said Vedanta is in dialogue with MoEF and the state pollution control board and may hear from them on the request soon.

Vedanta Aluminium, a subsidiary of the newly announced Sesa Sterlite, was asked to stop expanding its refinery in Lanjigarh from 1 million tonnes (mt) to 6 mt in October 2010 because of environmental concerns. The following year, the Orissa high court quashed an appeal filed by the company and upheld MoEF’s decision.

Vedanta appealed to MoEF last month, asking it to reconsider giving it approval in the light of clearances given to Jindal Power Ltd and Lavasa Corp. Ltd, a unit of Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd, both of which had been stalled over environmental objections.

As a part of the appeal in January, MoEF issued the new ToR on 2 February.

MoEF scientist P.L. Ahujarai, who signed the ToR, did not answer his phone and there was no response to an email asking whether Vedanta’s bid for a waiver will be considered.

“The company has received a ToR relating to technical and environmental details, and we are moving ahead with it,” said S.K. Roongta, managing director at Vedanta Aluminium. “The company is working on it.”

Roongta did not give further details.

The ToR states that 5% of costs must be earmarked for social work that the public will allocate as per its wishes.

“Five per cent of the total cost of the project should be earmarked for Enterprise Social Commitment based on public hearing. Item-wise details along with a time-bound action plan should be included,” according to the ToR.

It also calls on the company to file “issues raised at the public hearing with replies”, to the ministry.

“Probably the company is afraid they might not be lucky with a public hearing as there are powerful NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in eastern India who can sway opinions,” said an analyst in Mumbai, who didn’t want to be named in line with company policy.

Growth is critical for Vedanta Aluminium, burdened with a $4 billion (`19,640 crore) debt, as Sesa Sterlite tries to build itself into a resources giant.

Apart from environmental clearance, Vedanta Aluminium also needs to win a Supreme Court case that will allow it to mine bauxite in the Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa, said an analyst.

“Clearance from the environment ministry is definitely important, but more important is securing the bauxite mines,” said Sanjay Jain, senior vice-president (research) at Motilal Oswal Securities Ltd. “The environment clearance will have little relevance for their earnings as their cost of making alumina is very high as they have to bring bauxite from Balco (Bharat Aluminium Co. Ltd) and Gujarat. So, expanding alumina production while not having bauxite mines will have little utility.”

According to Jain, Vedanta’s cost of production for alumina is about $323 a tonne—nearly equal to the market price—and its already low margins will risk being further crimped at that price. That shows the urgency of getting the bauxite mines for captive use.

Article source: http://www.livemint.com/2012/02/28230237/Vedanta-told-to-get-public-nod.html?atype=tp

Pregnant woman bleeds to death after sterilization


Feb 26, 20120 BHOPAL: A 35-year-old pregnant women bled to death in Madhya Pradesh‘s Balaghat district earlier this month while doctors were trying to sterilize her as part of the state government’s vasectomy-sterilization drive.

This comes days after CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan was forced to call an urgent video conference last week warning district collectors to “implement family planning only through counseling” amid widespread complaints of forced sterilization.

Rekha Wasnik, a poor labourer’s wife, died on February 9. But her post-mortem report was released on Saturday that described “external and internal bleeding” in her uterus from injuries caused by a sharp and pointed instrument as the cause of her death. The report said she was 12-week pregnant with twins — both girls – when she was operated.

Reports said an anganwadi workers had taken Rekha, a mother of six, to Balaghat the district hospital on February 9 for sterilization. The woman died hours after she began bleeding on the operation table.

Sources in the district said sheer negligence killed Rekha, as no checkup was done to see if she was fit to undergo sterilization. Normally pathology tests are done before a woman is sterilized which was not done in this case. There are no records any blood or urine tests having been done on Rekha.

Dr Anita Parashar, who operated Rekha, told TOI that she made the first incision and found she was pregnant. “So I stitched her up and told her to undergo an abortion.” Dr Parashar claimed that she left the hospital soon after and received a call later to inform her that the woman was feeling unwell.

The hospital quietly sent her body for post-mortem. But by then, word had spread about the issue and local Congress workers held a demonstration with Rekha’s body at the hospital gate till the next morning. “We refused to move the body from the gate till the administration assured that action will be taken against the erring doctor and medical staff. But a fortnight later now, nothing has been done,” said one of the protestors, Anoop singh Byas, adding the post-mortem report appears to have been delayed with purpose.

“We took the issue to the superintendent of police as well, but we were told that both the district collector‘s report and the post-mortem report are needed to register a case. They have delayed the post-mortem till Saturday, and the collector has told us that he sent the file to the state secretariat for instructions from the secretariat,” Byas added.

Balaghat district collector Vivek Porwal refused to comment on the issue, saying he was busy at the state assembly, which does not function on Saturdays.

Release Abhay Sahoo: Free India


By K. P. Sasi

28 February, 2012
Countercurrents.org

I do not know whether we won the freedom of this subcontinent called India because of Gandhi or Ambedkar. While thousands of people worked selflessly for the freedom that you and I enjoy today, and often take it for granted, without realising that this freedom is fast eroding under our own feet, there were certainly some individuals who shaped our present spaces due to some of their selfless actions of their past. While Gandhi was celebrated for his role in the freedom struggle of our ancestors, I believe that our real freedom was shaped by one great man’s work: The structure of Indian constitution created by Ambedkar. It is due to his work that I am able to express my freedom of expression, freedom of identity, right to protest and freedom to dissent along with many other areas of freedom that all of us enjoy. But I am also aware that we are going to lose all these very soon, if we are not vigilant.

After the colonial rule, the Indian State remains today under a different form of colonial force without the direct presence of the colonisers. Under this neo-colonialism, our lands, seas, hills, forests, water bodies and minerals are looted more effectively than what Britishers could ever imagine. In this process, some Indians are able to deposit vast amount of black money in foreign banks. While such news hit the newspapers, nobody questions where such money is coming from. It is certainly a loot of our own rights of our environment. But what doesn’t hit the headlines of the sensational media is news about another section people: Hundreds of people who are languishing in Indian Jails for the simple crime of continuing to fight for our freedom. Abhay Sahoo, the leader of anti-POSCO struggle in Orissa is one such person.

Abhay Sahoo is a warm person, simple but determined. He is in prison today with 50 fabricated false cases, four of which cannot be bailed. But he is not alone. There are over 200 fabricated false cases on over 800 activists of the anti-POSCO movement, whose freedom is restricted without being jailed. But they were attacked by the police and the goons of the company for defending their lands. Having faced bullets and bombs in this non-violent struggle for India’s freedom, our Gandhis and Ambedkars are not in position to join them for their rescue. Because our political ancestors only remain as statues, roads or postal stamps for modern India. Hence, even their followers cannot defend the new freedom struggle represented by the anti –POSCO struggle. The only crime of the villagers who defended the multinational giant called POSCO is that these committed and brave men, women and children fought for the freedom of their lands – A freedom that you and I wish to enjoy without remembering the sacrifices of our political ancestors.

Read more here

 

DNA investigations: Kudankulam’s lurking dangers


English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

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Feb 28, 2012, 10:30 IST
By Gangadhar S Patil | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

While the prime minister (PM) accuses NGOs funded from abroad of trying to sabotage the ‘state-of-the-art’ Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP), various studies carried out by government agencies as well as experts suggest that the site is unsafe for a nuclear project.

The studies reveal potential threats to the nuclear reactor campus from near-shore tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and Karst (vulnerable landscape). DNA has a copy of the reports submitted by the agencies and experts.

A 15-member expert group set up by the Centre cleared the project. “The Kudankulam site is located far off (about 1,500km) from the tsunamigenic fault [where tsunamis originate]. Thus a tsunami would take time and lose some of its energy by the time it strikes Kudankulam,” according to the group’s official document.

However, a 1982 study reported in a noted journal documents the presence of two slumps — the East Comorin and Colombo — in the vicinity of the site. A ‘slump’ is a massive agglomeration of loosely-bound sediment on the sea bed that may suffer large submarine landslides, causing mega-tsunamis.

The expert group’s first report failed to identify the presence of a slump that is about 100km from the plant. After activists brought it to the group’s notice, its second report noted the presence of the slumps and the possibility of a near-field tsunami.

“This is against their earlier position and to that of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) which said near-field tsunamis are not possible at the KNPP site,” People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) functionary M Pushparayan said.

“It is suggested that large submarine landslides can generate a tsunami and may cause coastal hazard. An attempt has been made to quantify the amount of possible water displacement from the above slump belts in the Gulf of Mannar that may occur during a worst case scenario,” the expert group’s second report said. However, it added that the amount of water displacement will be too small to produce a serious tsunami.

Read DNA full story here

Dr. Manmohan Singh wins lifetime achievement Oscar for acting as India’s Prime Minister


Dr. Manmohan Singh did India proud by bagging the Oscar for Lifetime Achievement for acting as the Prime Minister of India from 2004 to present.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science said Dr. Singh’s Irving Thalberg Memorial Award was given to “a mild mannered and soft-spoken economist whose body language reflects a steadfast commitment to keeping up appearances of being in control and operating in silence, which in turn has spawned a plethora of behind the scenes state and non-state actors”.

It was of course more than a coincidence that on the night honoring one of the greatest practitioners of silent acting, ‘The Artist’, a silent movie, won 5 Academies including the best picture award. French star, Jean Dujardin, who won the Oscar for best actor in a leading role for portraying a fading film star of the silent movies era, acknowledged the mountain of debt he owed the Indian Prime Minister.

In stark contrast to the commonplace black ties and ubiquitous strapless gowns on display, Dr. Singh graced the red carpets attired in an elegant bandgala and spoke in a well rehearsed, flat tone without betraying any hint of emotion during his acceptance speech.

Read more here

 

 

UIDAI and the textbook case study of how not to do it, one for the business schools


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By- David Moss

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) came under attack. Its very existence was threatened. Naturally enough, UIDAI decided to defend itself.

It’s worked. UIDAI survives for the moment.

But theirs is a Pyrrhic victory. The UIDAI defence could undermine the credibility of every public authority in the world which has nailed its colours to the mast of biometrics – which is most of them – and could destroy the multi-billion dollar mass consumer biometrics industry.

The job of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is to use biometrics to identify every resident of India and to issue them with a unique corresponding number, a so-called “Aadhaar number”.

“Aadhaar” means foundation or support and the idea is that, once everyone has an identifying number, it will be easier for the various arms of government to build systems on that foundation to provide social security benefits, for example, and to facilitate national security. And beyond government, the banks will supposedly find it easier to authenticate payments.

UIDAI is not without its critics:
The Standing Committee on Finance (SCoF), a committee of the Indian Parliament, has considered the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010. That Bill would establish UIDAI on a statutory basis if it was ever enacted, but it hasn’t been. Meanwhile, UIDAI is operating under executive order only. It’s not operating very well according to the SCoF report and it’s about time UIDAI came under the control of Parliament.
And then there’s the Ministry of Home Affairs. They’re a properly constituted body and not just a creature of the Executive. And they have a competing identity management scheme, NPR (the National Population Register). Result – a turf war, Aadhaar v. NPR.
SCoF and the Ministry of Home Affairs pressed their case with the Prime Minister but UIDAI proved too adept for them. The Chairman threatened to resign, which would be embarrassing for the prime Minister – good move no.1. Good move no.2 – UIDAI arranged some convenient PR with the compliant Economist magazine. And then they published not one but two reports making unprecedented claims for the reliability of the biometrics used in Aadhaar:
Role of Biometric Technology in Aadhaar Enrollment
India boldly takes biometrics where no country has gone before
Oops. Bad move. There are five problems here:
Both reports are produced by UIDAI only. There is no sign that that they have been audited by any independent expert body.
Both reports quote reliability figures. No other public authority in the world does that. Not operational figures – figures measuring the reliability of biometrics in the field, at the border, for example. They should. But they don’t. Now, thanks to UIDAI, they will all come under pressure to quote independently audited figures themselves, figures for reliability, to justify their investment of public funds. It is likely that the public are going to be shocked at just how unreliable the biometrics are, that their governments are using. The public will at last understand why their governments have been so reluctant for so long to quote any figures.
Why is that likely? Because the figures quoted by UIDAI are hundreds of times better than anything anyone else has ever claimed following tests of biometrics. Hundreds.
The second report says that (a) Aadhaar uses flat print fingerprinting and iris scanning, (b) the two biometrics are fused to form one composite biometric, so-called “multi-modal” biometrics, and (c) UIDAI use not one matching algorithm, but three of them. Any large-scale identity management scheme that doesn’t do the same, they say – (a), (b) and (c) – is doomed to “catastrophic failure”.
The suppliers of biometric technology have never had to give public warranties before. Now they will have to.

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