Kashmir girl bags Silver Medal in Thailand, despite fighting all odds


 

ABID KHAN, in Greater Kashmir

Srinagar, Mar 30: Fighting all odds, a Valley based martial art player has shined in the World Muaythai championship by bagging silver medal in Bangkok Thailand. The 9th WMF World Muaythai championship was held at Nibbhati Indoor Stadium Bangkok from March 14 to 23 in which Uroosa Gazi daughter of Ghulam Mohi-ud-din was lone player from JK representing India.

Before leaving for the championship Uroosa fought all odds in her home State due to the lack of sponsors for her Bangkok trip. It was only after her father was able to get instant loan from JK Bank that she was able to achieve her dream and go for the participation.
The Indian contingent comprised of 14 players and before leaving for the event all the players went through three day coaching camp at Bangalore.
In the world event Uroosa participated in under-17 category in which there were six competitors from different countries. In her semi-final match she was against Thailand player whom she defeated easily while in final her opposite number from Australia proved too strong for her. She had to settle for the silver medal.
“It was unbelievable to see myself participating at such a grand stage. In my first match I was nervous but in second I was able to cope up with that. I should have won gold but the final opponent proved too quick for me” said Uroosa who has won numerous medals in different martial events till date.
“I am concentrating now on the future events and hope to get many more opportunities in future,” Uroosa told Greater Kashmir.
She was selected for the championship on the basis of her performance in National Muaythai championship held in Hyderabad. In the event young Uroosa bagged gold medal and was adjudged as best girl fighter.
After her brilliant performance in the world event and becoming first girl from JK to win national at such grand stage Uroosa’s mother hopes that people concerning the sport will help her daughter in the future events.
 “By winning medal at world stage my daughter proved how such talent she has. I have no grudge against anyone for not helping her. I am hopeful that her performance will speak itself and people concerned with the sports will help her in future events,” said Uroosa’s mother Tahira Tabassum.

Read original article here

Medical and Legal Aspects of Providing Care during Political Protests


The Albert Einstein College of Medicine has just posted (in three parts) our social medicine rounds on Medical and Legal Aspects of Providing Care during Political Protests.

It is largely devoted to street medics and we had three excellent speakers: a paramedic, a physician, and a lawyer, all of whom were street medics.

 

“If you don’t clean our shit, then who will ?- A blot upon the nation


March 31, 2012-A national public hearing on rehabilitation of manual scavengers throws up several issues that need immediate redress to restore dignity to the community- Divya Trivedi, The Hindu 

From Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh, 14-year-old Ravi used to be a beneficiary under the Self-Employment Scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers (SRMS) 2007 as his mother cleaned toilets in the village. One day, when she gathered enough courage to quit the job, Ravi’s scholarship funds were stopped and she faced hostility from the villagers who said, “If you don’t clean our shit, then who will?” Belonging to a family of six siblings, daily life has become difficult for Ravi. His mother is not getting any other job due to the stigma attached to her past one.

This scholarship, which requires families to be engaged in manual scavenging for at least 100 days in a year, provides a perverse incentive to Dalit households to continue in the occupation. Once the families stop practicing it, the scholarships are also stopped.

This was one of the findings of a household survey conducted by Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, a National Campaign for Dignity and Eradication of Manual Scavenging. Scanning five districts each in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, the survey established that 98 per cent of people engaged in the profession are women. But it was found that benefits of SRMS were given to 51 per cent of men in these three states. Of these, around 76 per cent were found never to have been engaged in manual scavenging. Of the 24 per cent of actual beneficiaries whose names were on the list, no one received the full amount they were told they were eligible for.

In the absence of a proper mechanism in the implementation of the scheme, the survey found the presence of scheming middle men working in connivance with fraudulent bank officials.

Middle men or commission agents would visit Dalit bastis telling households to sign on so and so papers as the government had chosen them as beneficiaries of a new scheme. The beneficiaries would never get to know the loan amount, sanctioning officer or other details of the transactions. After a while, the middle men would revisit them and hand over Rs 3,000 to Rs 4,500. Many of these people did not even know why they were being given the money or how much money had been borrowed in their names. In Madhya Pradesh, around 68 per cent of the beneficiaries were taken for a ride by the brokers, in Uttar Pradesh, 63 per cent and in Rajasthan 62 per cent.

“There is a massive scandal of graft between bank officials, politicians and middle men to fleece ignorant people who are given 50 per cent of the loan only but made liable for the full amount even as rest of the money is taken away by crooks. Collectors in villages must crack down on such miscreants and wherever such cases are found, government must waive off the loans or it would be condoning cheating and criminal actions,” said Dr John Dayal, Member of the National Integration Council set up by the government.

This survey was released at a National Public Hearing on ‘Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers and their Children in India’. Hundreds of people engaged in manual scavenging gathered in the Capital to narrate their individual testimonies.

Ramdulari Bai of Dewas in Madhya Pradesh had readied all documents that make her eligible for SRMS. When she submitted her loan application to the local Antyavasayi department for setting up a readymade garment shop, she was not only shooed away by the officials making a mockery of her age, but also insulted with crude jokes.

Ramdulari has not had the guts to go back to the department a second time.

Ms Shantha Sinha, Chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights asked for the submission of petitions to the Commission, which would then recommend action for each case. “If we do not work, you may catch our throat,” she said.

It came to light that Muslim communities such as Hela and Halalkhor have been completely ignored by Government programmes. These caste groups inhabit several states and have been as much a slave of this exploitative tradition as the Dalit Hindu communities.

“The law does not discriminate between scavengers of different religions or castes, you must report such instances and they will be taken up with the ministries,” vouched Mr PS Krishnan, a former Secretary to the government.

Coen Kompier of the International Labour Organisation, while stressing that it was primarily a human rights issue and not a sanitation one, hoped that over time it would also be treated as a job to be done by sanitation workers with proper equipment and dignity. Manual scavenging remains a blot of the face of the nation, concluded Dr Dayal.

A short history of privatisation in the UK: 1979-2012


From the first experiments with British Aerospace through British Telecom, water and electricity to the NHS and Royal Mail by guardian.co.uk, Thursday 29 March 2012

CONSUMER Stamps Photograph: Martin Keene/PARoyal Mail is being auctioned, and not necessarily to the highest bidder (and stamp prices are going up). The London fire brigade is outsourcing 999 calls to a firm called Capita, at the behest of the oleaginous chair of the capital’s fire authority, Brian Coleman. Multinationals are circling hungrily around NHS hospitalsSchools are already beginning to turn a profit. In the technocratic nomenclature of the IMF, this would be called a “structural adjustment programme”, but that doesn’t really capture the sweeping scale of the transformation. We can see this through a potted history of privatisation in the UK.

• 1979-81: Experimentation

Thatcher At Harrier Factory Margaret Thatcher inspects a Sea Harrier aircraft at a British Aerospace factory, 1982. Photograph: John Downing/Getty ImagesThe Tories had long been committed to some policy of de-nationalisation. In response to the prolonged crisis of the 1970s, in which the Tories had struggled to maintain their parliamentary dominance, the Ridley report devised for the Thatcher shadow cabinet recommended a policy of breaking up the public sector and dismembering unions. Privatisation was at first subordinate to other policy themes, above all wage suppression to control inflation. But the first Thatcher administration did successfully introduce a degree of privatisation in some large public sector companies, above all British Aerospace and Cable & Wireless. At this stage, however, the focus was on privatising already profitable entities to raise revenues and thus reduce public-sector borrowing.

• 1982-86: Lift-off

tell sid A still from the ‘Tell Sid’ ad campaign, which you can view here Photograph: screengrabAmid the early 80s recession, the Tories had begun to propose privatisation as a potential panacea. Conservative MP Geoffrey Howe extolled the “discipline” of the marketplace. The emerging doctrine was that privatisation would make the large utilities more efficient and productive, and thus make British capitalism competitive relative to its continental rivals. In this period, the government sold off Jaguar, British Telecom, the remainder of Cable & Wireless and British Aerospace, Britoil and British Gas. The focus had shifted to privatising core utilities.

This policy did not emerge out of nowhere; it was fully embedded in the Hayekian ideas that had guided Thatcher and her cohort in opposition. But it did develop in relation to specific policy objectives. It was not just a question of stimulating private sector investment, but also of culture war intended to re-engineer the electorate along the lines of the “popular capitalism” vaunted by Thatcher, and announced in the infamous “Tell Sid” campaign.

Read full article here

PMANE founder’s NGO inspected, wife says no foreign funds


by Pallavi Polanki Mar 30, 2012, Firstspost

The Nagercoil-based education trust run by SP Udayakumar, who is leading the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) from Idinthakarai village against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, was subjected to a day-long inspection by Home Ministry officials on Thursday (March 29).

Firstpost spoke to Meera Kumar, wife of Udayakumar and trustee of the South Asian Community Centre for Education and Reasearch (SACCER), who spent the entire day answering questions and providing details of the Trust to the officials.

What was the inspection regarding?

There were two officials from the Home Ministry and one local officer. They wanted all the documents and accounts from 2005-06 to 2010-11. The officials were from the FCRA (foreign contribution regulation act) division of the Home Ministry.

Is SACCER receiving foreign funding?

No. We are not registered under the FCRA. On two occasions we got prior permission from the FCRA wing for donations. Both were donations were between 2005-2007.

The founder of PMANE was not present for the inspection. Firstpost

One was for Rs 90,000 from Aid India and the other for Rs 4.35 lakh from Watumull Foundation. Prior permission was received for both these contributions from the FCRA wing. The Rs 4.35 lakh was towards buying a van for the school (SACCER manages a school in Nagercoil). It was a down-payment for the van, the total cost of which was Rs 7.50 lakh or so. The remainder we paid through a loan.

The Rs 90, 000 was for a tsunami related project that my husband did for Aid India. It was an entrepreneurship programme for women. The money was given as cheque to the women and a few sewing machines were also given, I think.

The officials were concerned mainly about these two. They took audit statements for all years from 2005-06 to 2010-11.

Did they ask for accounts from 2011-12?

No. They didn’t ask for any documents or vouchers relating the current financial year.

Did they say what the purpose of the inspection was?

No. They didn’t tell me exactly why they had come. But I understood that they were under a lot of pressure from someone from above. They were very cordial with me. My husband usually handles all the paperwork. So I wasn’t familiar with a few things. So initially, it was bit difficult.

Was the inspection at the office alone?

We have an office at home. So the inspection took place there.

In the afternoon, I was asked to go the Traveller’s Bungalow (the district guesthouse for government officers). They asked me for all the ledgers and cash books. They wanted copies of everything.
They asked me for three certificates. One, on how many passbooks were opened and closed for the SACCER Trust. The second was on staff structure. Some of the vouchers were missing so they wanted me to give in writing that some of the vouchers were not traceable. So I wrote that.

How long did inspection last?

At the office it was from 9 am to 2 pm At the Traveller’s Bungalow, it was 3 pm to 9.50 pm. Most of the time was spent in making copies, compiling, attestation and so on.

Has the inspection concluded?

They have not called me today.

Did Koodankulam come up in conversation at all?

No. They didn’t mention it.

Did they ask for Udayakumar?

Once, the officer asked me where my husband was and if he was reachable. He wanted to know if I had the authority to sign and wanted to know if my husband had to give me power of attorney. We explained to them that I was one of the trustees and had the authority to sign.

Had the officials informed you of their visit?

They had sent us an email saying that we were supposed to be present in room number 9, Jaislamer House,(office of the FCRA division in Delhi) on March 29 and 30. We had replied through a lawyer that we wouldn’t be able to present ourselves. And we had sent a copy of the letter through email. But day before yesterday (March 28), an officer from SP’s office came home and informed us of the visit.

Had you received any communication from the FCRA prior to the email?

Yes. Late last year, they had sent us a questionnaire. It was pertaining to how much foreign contribution we have received. I had explained to them that there were two occasions on which we received contribution and for both we had prior permission from the FCRA. The documents have been submitted.

Did the officials speak to Udayakumar?

On two occasions, I gave the phone to one of the officials to speak to Kumar (who continues to be in Idinthakarai village, which is about 30 km from Nagercoil). My husband was explaining to him why he couldn’t be there and was apologizing for his absence.

How is Udayakumar’s health?

He has been on liquid diet for the last three days. (Udayakumar broke his nine-day fast on Wednesday). His health is a bit down. It looks like he has a flu. He has been treated at the hospital. He is feeling better today.

Has he come home after he called off his fast?

He hasn’t been home since February 28. They say that Section 144 has been relaxed for areas other than Koodankulam. They say it shouldn’t be difficult to get there. I am trying to meet him over the weekend. Since I have school tomorrow, I will to try to meet him on Sunday. I haven’t met him in the last one month.

Sodi Ganga’s brother was Burnt Alive


His Brother Was Burnt Alive

Sodi Nanda was killed in 2007. Four years later, his brother wants justice, but cannot get it, says Prakhar Jain

Sodi Ganga stands beside the tree where his brother was allegedly killed by Salwa Judum
Mute witness Sodi Ganga stands beside the tree where his brother was allegedly killed by Salwa Judum

Photo: Prakhar Jain

THE CBI officers came to his village, and left. But his story will not find a mention in their report. In December 2007, Sodi Ganga’s brother was burnt alive. Last year, more than 200 homes were set ablaze in the same village. In January, acting on Supreme Court orders, a CBI team visited Tadmetla in Chhattisgarh to investigate the attack. Sodi Ganga’s story is significant because the CBI team did not, and cannot record it.

The burning down of 200 houses in Tadmetla is one of those rare instances that turned high-profile. The scale of violence, media reports from the ground, civil society outrage, and the attack on Swami Agnivesh, despite assurances from Chief Minister Raman Singh, left the government with no choice but to act. Ganga’s story is testimony to why one inquiry by the CBI is not enough.

His story is from the time of the Salwa Judum, widely believed to be a State-sponsored militia responsible for the forced displacement of more than 60,000 people and burning of 644 villages since 2005. It is a grim reminder of all the horrors. Even in Tadmetla, a village on the radar of human rights groups and investigating agencies, there remains acts of violence that are yet to be recorded.

Located in the dense forests of Dantewada district, (now Sukma) Tadmetla was attacked by the Salwa Judum and the paramilitary forces in December 2007. Fearing violence, most people fled the village to hide in the forests. Ganga’s brother, Sodi Nanda, was not that fortunate. Being ill, he could not run, so he hid behind a pile of logs close to his house. He was spotted by SPOs and Judum members and burnt alive among those very logs, which he thought would save him. Two days later, villagers discovered his charred bones and buried his remains close to where he was set on fire.

Ganga has been living in fear since. “I was afraid. Where could I have gone?” he asks, pointing to the fact that the local police can’t be approached for such cases. He found hope when a CBI team from Delhi came to his village to conduct an investigation. Mustering enough courage, he decided to break his four-year-long silence and requested the CBI officers to register a case against the CRPF, SPOs and the Salwa Judum members involved in the incident.

Read Tehelka Story here

PepsiCo, KFC, McDonald’s, Nestle’s Maggi get junk rating for misleading consumers


NEW DELHI, ET Bureau : Food items such as potato chips, burgers and noodles almost wipe out one’s daily permissible limits of bad fat, salt and sugar in just one serving, says a study that seeks stronger regulations and labeling rules for food products.
The Centre for Science & Environment (CSE), which tested 16 popular brands including Nestle’s Maggi noodles, McDonald’s, KFC, Haldiram’s aloo bhujia and PepsiCo‘s Lay’s potato chips, on Friday accused most of these companies of misleading the public through wrong claims and insufficient labeling.

PepsiCo, Nestle, McDonald’s and KFC denied the allegation and said their products were free of trans fats, the worst kind of fats. “Most junk foods contain very high levels of trans fats, salt and sugar, leading to diseases such as obesity and diabetes,” said CSE Director Sunita Narain.

“We need stronger regulations that will reduce fats, sugar and salt in junk foods, and force companies to provide information to the public mandatorily,” she said, opening a new front against multinational and Indian packaged foods companies almost a decade after the pesticides-in-cola controversy.

The CSE’s findings of pesticides in Coca-Cola and PepsiCo drinks in 2003, and again in 2006, had led to a drastic fall in sales growth of the two cola majors between 2004 and 2007.

According to the new CSE study, munching a 65-75 gm pack of Lay’s American style cream and onion chips will exceed one’s daily trans fat quota, while a two-piece KFC chicken meal will exceed both trans fats and total fat quota. Trans fats clog arteries and make them narrower. Combined with large amounts of salt, they increase blood pressure in the body.

The World Health Organisation recommends an adult male should ideally consume not more than 2.6 gram of trans fats per day. An adult female’s limit is 2.1 gram and that of a child of 10-12 years is 2.3 gram. A child who eats one McDonald’s Happy Meal finishes 90% of all his/her daily requirement of trans fats, the CSE study said, adding the company makes no mention of this dosage of trans fats.

Rajesh Maini, corporate communications GM of McDonald’s India (North & East), said the CSE study results are “most unusual” because the restaurant chain uses refined, bleached and deodorised palm oil in which trans fats are so low that they are virtually undetectable.

“We will certainly be examining them closely to see how these unexpected results have been arrived at, what testing methods were used, and comparing them with our own in-house testing,” he added. Spokesmen of PepsiCo and Yum! Restaurants India, which runs KFC and Pizza Hut chains, flatly denied the CSE report.

CEC reiterates stand against illegal mining in State


New Delhi, March 29 2012, DHNS:

The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on Thursday reiterated its stand that no new mining leases should be granted in Bellary, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts unless rehabilitation plans for the existing leases were executed. 

The committee also maintained that the combined iron ore production from the mines should not exceed 30 million metric tonnes. It is imperative that any new mining lease should be considered only after the reclamation and rehabilitation plans (R&R) of the existing mining leases are successfully implemented and based on the existing infrastructure facilities and carrying capacity of the area, grant/operation of new mining lessee in an environmentally sustainable basis is found to be feasible and in public interest.

The Special Bench is likely to take up the CEC’s report on April 13. The matter has been adjourned to enable the parties to respond to the report.

The committee, in its report, noted the representation by Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, a non-governmental organisation, challenging ‘A’ category classification awarded to lease holder, R Praveen Chandra, who also held another lease, alleging that the directors of these two companies were close relatives of former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa.

“Praveen Chandra, the lessee, has made two payments, one of Rs 2.5 crore to M/s Bhagat  Homes Pvt Ltd and the other of Rs 3.5 crore to M/s Davalagiri Property Developers Private Ltd and which are shown in the balance sheets of these two companies. The directors of these two companies are close family members/relatives of the then chief minister of Karnataka. The matter needs to be investigated in public interest. The petitioner has requested the CEC to take up this matter suo motu based on this Court’s order dated 23.9.2011,” the committee report said.

Kudankulam meltdown


 

Author(s): Latha JishnuArnab Pratim DuttaAnkur Paliwal

Issue: Apr 15, 2012, DowntoEarth

Koodunkulam

The spectre of Fukushima continues to haunt the world, forcing governments in most parts of the globe to rethink their plans to tap this controversial source of energy. But it is in India that the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl has had its most serious fallout, with public protests forcing the authorities to delay the commissioning of the ambitious Kudankulam project by almost a year. Fukushima, however, is just the latest spur for the campaign against the Kudankulam reactors which started in 1987, discovers Latha Jishnu as she travels across the villages of Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu and meets the people who have been saying no to nuclear energy for 25 years.
Arnab Pratim Dutta and Ankur Paliwal study implications of Fukushima and the increasing cost of nuclear energy across the world, and the rise of shale gas as an alternative

A sure way of riling the people around the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) is to ask why they launched their opposition to the plant just months before the first of its two reactors was set to go critical. Surely they had seen the twin domes of the country’s largest nuclear plant rise slowly from the scrubland close to the sea? The reply can range from a passionate cascade of protest to a more polite but scathing “where were you sister, all these years?”

These years have been long, stretching to a quarter century of protest. There have been periods of quiet and quite a few explosions (see ‘A 25-year campaign’) in a movement that started as anti-war, anti-nuclear weapons protest in 1987 because the trade unionists, left wing activists and intellectuals leading it were convinced that the power plant was merely a conduit for piling up plutonium to make weapons. That belief has taken root among some of the fisherfolk who have been the backbone of the protest for two decades. “Don’t ask us what we were doing all these years,” says Xavierammal of picturesque Idinthakarai village, a couple of kilometres down the coast from the bright yellow domes of KKNPP. She is a strapping woman of 48 whose fisherman husband died a long while ago, leaving her to bring up her two children on her own by rolling beedis.

“From Day One we were against the plant. When I was young I took part in the 1989 rally in Kanyakumari to protect the future of my children. Our elders had warned us about the dangers of nuclear energy. The Chernobyl accident had just taken place and the same people (the Soviet Union) were going to set up a similar project in our midst. We were scared and angry,” says Xavierammal who is now on a fast unto death, seeking the scrapping of KKNPP. It would seem a doomed undertaking with the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), which is setting up KKNPP with Russian expertise and funding, resuming work under heavy police protection.

Contract workers, employees and scientific reinforcements from its other nuclear stations have been bused into the plant for the first time since September last year when the protest by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) caused high fission and forced most staff to leave, leaving a skeleton force to oversee maintenance. At the time, KKNPP had about 150 Russians, 800 of its own staff and around 4,000 contract workers. All of them will be back soon.

Read Downtoearth article here

Govt finally tables NHRC report on post-Godhra riots


Express news service : Gandhinagar, March 31

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had written a detailed letter to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee stating how reputations of the institutions of governance and justice were at stake if victims of the 2002 riots failed to get justice. It also pointed out how the state government failed to protect human rights of its people and to provide justice to those whose rights had been violated.

The report was tabled in the state Assembly on Friday after a Gujarat High Court order to make public the report of 2002-03, which contains a chapter on post-Godhra riots.

A division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala had said in the order, “Such grave lapse (in tabling the report) on the part of the state government amounts to clear violation of Section 20 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.”

In chapter three of its report, the Commission observed, “It is a matter of some regret to the Commission that the principal recommendations and observations made by it in those proceedings, received an inadequate response from the Government of Gujarat. In consequence, it came as no surprise to the Commission that many of the grave misgivings that it expressed in those proceedings subsequently proved to be well-founded. Sadly, therefore, the initial failure to protect human rights was compounded by the failure – at least thus far – to provide justice to those whose rights had been violated.”

The letter by the NHRC’s then chairman justice JS Verma to Vajpayee, said, “With great respect, that if our country should fall short in rendering justice, promptly and effectively, to the victims, their families, dependents and other persons or groups connected with the victims, a serious travesty of the law will occur with potentially grave consequences, not only to those immediately affected, but to the reputation of our country and its institutions of governance, including the judiciary and the National Human Rights Commission.”

The NHRC had also critisied Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s move to organise Gaurav Yatra in the aftermath of the riots. It had suggested postponement of the programme.

The Commission had concluded by observing that it remained “fundamentally important, in such circumstances, that those responsible for the promotion of communal harmony and the maintenance of law and order — whether in the political or administrative leadership — should discharge their duties in the present and future in accordance with the Constitution and the relevant statutory provisions, or be answerable for such acts of omission or commission that result in the violation of the law and the rights to life, liberty, equality and dignity of their fellow human beings.”

The Commission had passed general legal actions and recommendations at that time for reinstating human rights of the riot-affected people.