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Gujarat-The growth engine of India-a myth

GSDP increase at current prices in six years (2004-05 to 2009-10)

Sr.No. Name of State GSDP
1 Uttrakhand 250.65 %
2 Chhatishgadh 229.46 %
3 Haryana 226.91 %
4 Bihar 225.31 %
5 Maharashtra 217.80 %
6 Delhi 217.15 %
7 Orrisa 211.97 %
8 Tamilnadu 211.65 %
9 Andhra Pradesh 211.50 %
10 Gujarat 211.12 %
All India 206.00 %

Gujarat is not a growth engine of India. It is ranked at 10th place in increase of Growth State domestic product (GSDP) in Six year (2004-05 to 2009-10) of Narendra Modi rule.

(Source: State Domestic Product, Gujarat State 2009-2010

{Base year 2004-05}, Director of Economics & Statistics,

Government of Gujarat.)

Production of Important Crop Group (in 000mt.)

Sr. No. Item 2007-2008 2008-2009 % Change
1 Food Grains 8206 6345 -22.7
2 Oil Seeds 4699 3932 -16.3
3 Condi. & Spices 606 451 -25.7
4 Cotton* 8276 7014 -15.2
5 Tobacco 79 70 -11.4

(Source: Directorate of Agriculture, Gujarat*:Production in’ 000 bales.)
Selected Indicators of of Human Development for major States

Sr. No. Name of State Life Expectancy at birth (2002-2006)
Male Female Total
1 Kerala 71.4 76.3 74.0
2 Punjab 68.4 70.4 69.4
3 Tamil Nadu 65.0 67.4 66.2
4 Haryana 65.9 66.3 66.2
5 Karnataka 63.6 67.1 65.3
6 West Bengal 64.1 65.8 64.9
7 Andhra Pradesh 62.9 65.5 64.4
8 Gujarat 62.9 65.2 64.1

Source:              Office of the Registrar General of India; Ministry of Home Affairs; Economic Survey, 2010-2011

Sr. No. Name of State Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000 live births, 2009)
Male Female Total
1 Kerala 10 13 12
2 Tamil Nadu 30 33 31
3 Maharashtra 33 33 33
4 West Bengal 34 37 35
5 Punjab 39 43 41
6 Karnataka 44 46 45
7 Gujarat 49 51 50

Source:              Office of the Registrar General of India; Ministry of Home Affairs; Economic Survey, 2010-2011

Sr.No. Name of State Maternal Mortality Ratio(MMR)SRS Bulletin-April 2009
1 Kerala 4.9
2 Tamil Nadu 6.6
3 Maharashtra 9.3
4 West Bengal 10.0
5 Andhra Pradesh 10.9
6 Punjab 13.7
7 Karnataka 14.0
8 Gujarat 14.8

Source:              Registrar General of India, Special Bulletin of Maternal Mortality in India 2004-06 SRS

Sr.No. Name of State Birth rate(per 1000) 2008
1 Kerala 14.6
2 Tamil Nadu 16.0
3 Punjab 17.3
4 West Bengal 17.5
5 Maharashtra 17.9
6 Andhra Pradesh 18.4
7 Karnataka 19.8
8 Orissa 21.4
9 Gujarat 22.6

Source:              Office of the Registrar General of India; Ministry of Home Affairs; Economic Survey, 2010-2011
Sex Ratio (0-6 Years)

Sr.No. Name of State Census 2001 Census 2011 Difference 2011 & 2001
1 Punjab 798 846 48
2 Chandigarh 845 867 22
3 Haryana 819 830 11
4 Himachal Pradesh 896 906 10
5 A&N Islands 957 966 9
6 Mizoram 964 971 7
7 Tamilnadu 942 946 4
8 Gujarat 883 886 3

Source:              (1) Census 2001; (2) Census 2011 Provisional results; and (3) 11th Five Year Plan
Table-1

Sex Ratio at birth by residence, bigger States, 2006-2008

Sr. No. Name of State Total Rural Urban
1 Chhattisgarh 975 985 914
2 Kerala 964 962 970
3 West Bengal 941 938 950
4 Himachal Pradesh 938 939 916
5 Orissa 937 939 917
6 Tamil Nadu 936 935 937
7 Karnataka 935 935 937
8 Assam 933 936 900
9 Jharkhand 922 935 846
10 Madhya Pradesh 919 919 921
11 Andhra Pradesh 917 913 930
12 Bihar 914 917 880
13 Gujarat 898 922 856

Table-2

Sex Ratio of Child (age group 0-4) during at the period 2006-2008

Sr. No. Name of State Total Rural Urban
1 Chhattisgarh 976 989 908
2 West Bengal 970 972 963
3 Kerala 970 971 969
4 Himachal Pradesh 954 957 908
5 Orrissa 949 950 947
6 Tamil Nadu 947 943 954
7 Assam 947 948 939
8 Karnataka 942 943 940
9 Jharkhand 938 949 879
10 Andhra Pradesh 937 937 938
11 Bihar 932 935 910
12 Madhya Pradesh 930 936 905
13 Maharashtra 899 893 908
14 Jammu & Kashmir 885 883 890
15 Uttar Pradesh 884 884 885
16 Gujarat 883 908 841

Source:              (1) Census 2001; (2) Census 2011 Provisional results; and (3) 11th Five Year Plan
Performance of States of India(Rural)-ACER 2009: (% of Children who can Read English Sentences)

Sr.No. Name of State STD-V
1 Goa 87.0
2 Sikkim 80.8
3 Arunachal Pradesh 73.8
4 Nagaland 68.0
5 Manipur 66.6
6 Himachhal Pradesh 63.3
7 Mizoram 57.8
8 Meghalaya 57.0
9 Kerala 54.5
10 Haryana 43.8
11 Jammu & Kashmir 41.8
12 Andhra Pradesh 37.3
13 Maharashtra 34.6
14 Uttarakhand 34.5
15 Punjab 34.5
16 Bihar 31.3
17 Madhya Pradesh 29.6
18 West Bengal 27.1
19 Assam 25.6
20 Orissa 25.3
21 Tripura 22.7
22 Chhattisgarh 19.0
23 Tamil Nadu 19.0
24 Jharkhand 18.1
25 Rajasthan 17.8
26 Karnataka 15.6
27 Uttar Pradesh 14.0
28 Gujarat 7.9

Source: ASER Reports for 2009: http://asercentre.org
Drop-out Rates in Classes I-X (6-16 yrs.) 2007-2008

Sr.No. Name of States Boys Girls Total
1 Kerala 1.54 -2.59 -0.50
2 Puducherry 5.16 -0.94 2.19
3 Uttar Pradesh 30.27 19.60 26.18
4 Himachal Pradesh 26.14 34.23 30.21
5 Delhi 33.84 38.38 36.04
6 Haryana 33.99 39.15 36.43
7 Tamil Nadu 38.88 36.51 37.73
8 Goa 41.97 35.56 38.86
9 Chandigarh 35.66 41.52 38.46
10 Maharashtra 43.41 49.15 46.17
11 Manipur 47.91 40.83 44.60
12 Karnataka 49.93 48.85 49.41
13 Punjab 49.95 50.04 49.99
14 Gujarat 57.53 61.19 59.11

Source:              Abstract of Selected Educational Statistics 2007-08; Ministry of Human Resources Development GOI
Low Body Mass Index (BMI) and Anaemia in Women (%)

Sr. No. Name of States Anaemia in ever married women (15-49), NFHS-3, 2005-2006
1 Kerala 32.8
2 Manipur 35.7
3 Goa 38.0
4 Punjab 38.0
5 Mizoram 38.6
6 Himachal Pradesh 43.3
7 Delhi 44.3
8 Meghalaya 47.2
9 Maharashtra 48.4
10 Uttar Pradesh 49.9
11 Arunachal Pradesh 50.6
12 Karnataka 51.5
13 Jammu & Kashmir 52.1
14 Rajasthan 53.1
15 Tamil Nadu 53.2
16 Uttaranchal 55.2
17 Gujarat 55.3

Source:              NFHS-2 and NFHS-3
National Family Health Survey (NFHS) & District Level Household Survey (DLHS) Estimates of % of Institutional Delivery and % of Safe Delivery

Sr. No Name of State DLHS-III (2007-2008)Institution Delivery Sr. No Name of State DLHS-III (2007-2008)Safe Delivery
Kerala 99.4 1 Kerala 99.4
Punducherry 99.1 2 Punducherry 99.4
Goa 96.3 3 Goa 97.8
Tamilnadu 94.1 4 Lakshadweep 95.7
Lakshadweep 90.4 5 Tamilnadu 95.6
Chandigarh 73.6 6 Chandigarh 78.5
Andhra Pradesh 71.8 7 Punjab 77.1
Delhi 68.6 8 Andhra Pradesh 75.6
Karnataka 65.1 9 Delhi 71.8
Daman & Div 64.0 10 Jharkhand 71.5
Maharashtra 63.6 11 Maharashtra 69.5
Punjab 63.3 12 Daman & Div 69.4
Gujarat 56.5 13 Miaoram 63.5
14 Gujarat 62.1

Source:              The figures relate to births four, three and five year preceding the survey, for NFHS-1, NFHS-2 and NFHS-3 respectively.
Power Tariffs in Selected States (Rs. Per Unit), 2007-2008

Sr. No Name of State Domestics (Min.) Sr. No Name of State Commercial (Min.) Sr. No Name of State Industrial(Min.)
1 Tamil Nadu 1.20 1 Himachal Pradesh 4.37 1 Himachal Pradesh 3.24
2 Karnataka 2.61 2 West Bengal (U)4.43(R)4.41 2 Punjab 3.75
3 Himachal Pradesh 2.16 3 Hariyana 4.68 3 Maharashtra 3.44
4 Andhra Pradesh 2.39 4 Punjab 4.69 4 Andhra Pradesh 3.80
5 Maharashtra 2.70 5 Maharashtra 5.34 5 West Bengal (U)3.80(R)3.65
6 Punjab 2.47 6 Rajasthan (U)5.54(R)5.54 6 Madhya Pradesh (U)3.86(R)3.49
7 West Bengal (U)2.48(R)2.37 7 Gujarat (U)5.65(R)5.65 7 Karnataka 3.98
8 Madhya Pradesh (U)3.47(R)3.42 8 Rajasthan (U)4.21(R)4.21
9 Gujarat (U)3.48(R)2.64 9 Gujarat (U)4.39(R)4.39

Source:              Central Electricity Authority
% of Households having tap connections

(Both household taps and public taps)

As per NSS Survey July 2008-June 2009

Sr. No Name of States % of Households having tap connections
1 Puducherry 98
2 Chandigarh 89
3 Tamil Nadu 87
4 Goa 84
5 Andman Nicobar 83
6 Arunachal Pradesh 80
7 Himachal Pradesh 78
8 Karnataka 70
9 Sikkim 67
10 Jammu & Kashmir 65
11 Andhra Pradesh 64
12 Hariyana 63
13 Uttrakhand 61
14 Gujarat 58

 This is important. Please take 2 min off vote  Narendra Modi out of the TIME new list. 


Right now his supporters seem to be outnumbering us so please vote. 

 Please  caste your Vote as ” NO WAY “….Click on “No way” option…
Also mail to friends / INDIVIDUALS who would vote against Modi..
 

Official voting ends on Friday, April 6, and the poll winner will be included in the TIME 100 issue. The complete TIME 100 list will be chosen  and revealed on TIME.com on Tuesday, April 17.

http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2107952_2107953_2109997,00.html

DO WATCH  THE VIDEO  BELOW 

Faking Happiness- Narendra Modi, Gujarat and TIME magazine

Kerala: Woman devotee? Sorry, no entry


 Ibnlive, Thiruvananthapuram: In Jammu‘s Sree Krishna temple, all rituals, including offering of daily prayers, are performed by women priests. The temple, also known as ‘Baion ka Mandir,’ is maintained by the distaff side which is proud to spread the message of women empowerment through religion.

Unfortunately, Malayinkeezhu is no Jammu. The Sree Krishna Temple here bars entry to women devotees! For centuries, women have not been allowed into the nalambalam, the core structure of the temple, which shares its antiquity with Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

It is believed that the ban was enforced during the reign of the erstwhile Travancore ruler Sree Moolam Thirunal. “The two Pushpanjali Swamiyars of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple had to spend six months at the Malayinkeezhu temple. The custom to bar women’s entry probably began then as they were celibates,” says Malayinkeezhu Venugopal, district panchayat member and former president of the temple committee.

Kerala: Woman devotee? Sorry, no entry

“The Swamiyars do not reside here any more. So it is a folly to continue with the ban. It is unfortunate that women are not allowed in the temple even decades after the Temple Entry Proclamation was passed,” he says.

The cause has found its supporters in poet-priest Vishnu Narayanan Namboodiri and poet Sugathakumari. The duo, while attending an award function held as part of the temple festival, had demanded that women be allowed into the temple. Sugathakumari even refused to pray in front of the nalambalam and, instead, prayed in front of the flag mast.

“This is unjustified. We believe Lord Krishna will not have any opposition to women entering his temple,” says author Radhika C Nair. But not all women back a change. “There is no need for a change. This is not an issue of women’s rights, but of faith,” Saraswathiyamma, 60, says.

“We will hold a meeting of devotees on the issue. If the majority supports women’s entry, we will take a decision after consulting the temple thantri,” TDB president Rajagopalan Nair says.

“Much has to be done even before thinking of changing a centuries-old custom. Changing the custom would result in the temple losing its identity.

“If there is a popular demand, a vidwatsadas comprising eminent devotees, TDB officials, priests and members of the Travancore royal family should discuss the issue,” says temple thantri Thekkedath Kuzhikkattu Parameswaran Vasudevan Bhattathiripad.

Sterilisations carried out under torchlight on Dalits, SC asks why


New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought the stands of the Centre and various state governments on a plea alleging sterilisation surgeries on women under torchlight, in various places, specially in Bihar, in gross violation of the medical and ethical norms.

A bench of justices R M Lodha and H L Gokhale issued notices to the Centre and various states and sought their replies within eight weeks on a public interest litigation by non-governmental organisation Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) which bought to the court’s notice the alleged horrific incidents, particularly in Bihar.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Collin Gonsalves told the bench that operations “were performed by doctors under torchlight and activists of an NGO were administering anaesthesia to the patients.”

According to the NGO HRLN, a sterilisation camp was held at the Kaparfora Government Middle School at Araria in Bihar in January this year by an NGO in coordination with the State Health Society, where a private doctor used the school classroom as an operating theatre for sterilisation surgeries on at least 53 poor, Dalit women.

Devika Biswas, the activist who filed the petition said women were operated on paddy straws provided by the local villagers leaving three women bleeding severely and requiring their subsequent treatments at a private medical hospital, the NGO said in its petition.

“In clear violation of the government guidelines and the basic human rights, the doctor performed surgeries at night, under torchlight. During the two hours he was operating, the doctor did not wash his hands, change gloves, or wear a surgical gown and cap,” the petition alleged.

Most of the women from the camp had to seek costly private care later, the petition alleged adding that none of the women were counselled, either before or after the surgeries.

“The horrific human rights violations extend beyond these events in Bihar,” the petition added.

“After their surgeries, untrained NGO workers placed the women on straw paddy provided by the families. The doctor operated on one pregnant woman, Jitni Devi, who miscarried days after her surgery. The doctor and NGO staff left three women profusely bleeding, including Saraswati Devi, who spent 8 days recovering in the hospital,” the petition stated.

“Doctors and health facilities across the county routinely flaunt the ethical and procedural guidelines prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the constitutional obligations and international norms. The Public Interest Litigation specifically outlines examples of coerced and unsafe sterilisations in Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Rajasthan,” it claimed.

Chidambaram promises action in Soni Sori case


By Sify News Desk,  March 30,2012

New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram has agreed to take up the case of Soni Sori, the school teacher who was arrested for alleged links with Maoists, after human rights activists met the Minister this week and handed over a 3700-strong petition.

The Change.org petition and an accompanying letter call for Soni Sori to be given prompt and due medical care and treatment, and to be moved to a safe place where police cannot interfere with the course of justice.

Sori, who was arrested for her role in an alleged pay off by Essar group to Maoists, is said to have been tortured and sexual assaulted by Chhattisgarh police while in custody last October. She remains behind bars.

Campaigners who attended the meeting say the Home Minister promised to write to the Chhattisgarh government raising the issues related to human rights violations.

“We discussed issues related to Soni Sori and delivered the voices of nearly 4000 people from all over India,” said Kalpana Mehta, of Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression.


Others at the meeting with the Home Minister included Brinda Karat (Ex-Rajya Sabha MP), Sudha Sundararaman (All India Democratic Women’s Association), Indira Chakraborty (Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression) and writer Kiran Shaheen.

Brinda Karat demanded that Soni Sori be given adequate constitutional safeguards as a prisoner facing trial and sought the Home Minister’s intervention for prompt action to be taken against Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg and other officials said to be involved in the custodial and sexual violence inflicted upon Soni Sori in the Dantewada police station.

The campaigners expressed concern that they were not being allowed to meet Soni Sori.

The campaign was started by human rights lawyer Kamayani Bali Mahabal and has attracted more than 3700 signatures from all over India, including leading human rights organisations such as Amnesty, who have described Soni Sori as a “prisoner of conscience”.

The petition can be found here

Walking the Corporate Plunder Line- How to Beat Poverty in India


by P. SAINATH in Counterpunch

One Tendulkar makes the big scores. The other wrecks the averages. The Planning Commission clearly prefers Suresh to Sachin. Using Professor Tendulkar’s methodology, it declares that there’s been another massive fall in poverty. Yes, another (‘more dramatic in the rural areas’). “Record Fall in Poverty” reads one headline. The record is in how many times you’ve seen the same headline over the years. And how many times poverty has collapsed, only to bounce back when the math is done differently.

And so, a mere 29.9 per cent of India’s population is now below the official poverty line (BPL). The figure was 37.2 per cent in 2004-05. The ‘line’ is another story in itself, of course. But on surface, rural poverty has declined by eight percentage points to log in at 33.8 per cent. That’s down from 41.8 per cent in 2004-05. And urban poverty fell by 4.8 percentage points from 25.7  to 20.9 per cent in the same period.  Millions have been dragged above the poverty line, without knowing it.

Media amnesia fogs the  “lowest-ever” figures, though. These are not the ‘lowest-ever.’

“Kill me, I say,” said Prof. Madhu Dandavate  in 1996, chuckling. “I just doubled poverty in your country today.”  What that fine old gentleman had really done, as deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission,  was to jettison the bogus methodology peddled by that body before he came to head it the same year.  Even minor changes in methodology or poverty line can produce dramatically differing estimates.

The fraud he undid was “an exercise” bringing poverty down to 19 per cent in 1993-94. And that, from 25.5 per cent in 1987-88. These were the “preliminary results of a Planning Commission exercise based on National Sample Survey data.” (Economic & Political Weekly, Jan. 27, 1996).  Now if these figures were true, then poverty has risen ever since.  And remember, highlighting that historic fall was an honest Finance Minister. The never-tell-a-lie Dr. Manmohan Singh.

One business daily ran a hilarious ‘exclusive’ on this at the time. Poverty falls to record low of 19 per cent, ‘government officials say.’  This was the best news since independence. But the modest officials remained anonymous, knowing how stupid they’d look. In the present era, they hold press conferences to flaunt their fraud.

The “lowest ever at 19 per cent” fraud was buried  in the ruins of the April ’96 polls. So was the government of the day. The ‘estimate’ was not heard of again. Now we have the 29.9 per cent avatar. Surely that’s a rise of 10.9 percentage points in 16 years? Or just another methodological fiddle.

However, the new Planning Commission numbers have achieved one thing. They’ve  united most of Parliament on the issue. Members from all parties have blasted the ‘estimates’  and called for explanations.

There’s also the Tendulkar report’s own fiddles. As Dr. Madhura Swaminathan points out, the Committee dumped the calorie norms of “2100 kcal per day for urban areas and 2400 kcal for rural areas.” It switched to “a single norm of 1800 kcal per day.” And did so citing an “FAO norm.”  As Dr. Swaminathan observed: “the standards set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation for energy requirements are for “minimum dietary energy requirements” or MDER. That is,  “the amount of energy needed for light or sedentary activity.” And she cites an FAO example of such  activity. “…a male office worker in urban areas who only occasionally engages in physically demanding activities during or outside working hours.”

As Dr. Swaminathan asks: “Can we assume that a head load worker who carries heavy sacks through the day is engaged in light activity?” (The Hindu Feb. 5, 2010).

The media rarely mention that there are other methodologies for measuring  poverty on offer. Also set in motion by this same government. The National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) saw BPL Indians as making up 77 per cent of the population. The N.C. Saxena-headed BPL Expert group placed it at around 50  per cent.  Like the Tendulkar Committee, these two were also set up by government.  While differing wildly, all three pegged rural poverty at a higher level than government did. Meanwhile, we will have many more committees on the same issue until one of them gives this government the report it wants. The one it can get away with. (The many inquiries on farm suicides exemplify this).

That the Planning Commission thought they could slip the present bunkum by sets a new benchmark for –  and marriage of  –  arrogance and incompetence.  First, they sparked outrage with their affidavit in the Supreme Court. There they defended a BPL cut-off line of Rs. 26 a day (rural) and Rs. 32 (urban).  Now they hope to get by with numbers of Rs. 22.42 a day (rural) and Rs. 28.35 a day (urban).

The same year the government and planning commission shot themselves in both feet in 1996, a leading Delhi think tank joined in. It came up with the ‘biggest ever study’ done on poverty in the country. This covered over 30,000 households and queried respondents across more than 300 parameters. So said its famous chief at a meeting in Bhopal.

This stunned the journalists in the audience. Till then, they had been doing what most journalists do at most seminars. Sleeping in a peaceful, non-confrontational manner. The veteran beside me came alive, startled. “Did he mean they asked those households over 300 questions? My God! Thirty years in this line and the biggest interview I ever did had nine. That was with my boss’s best friend. And my last question was ‘may I go now’?”  We did suggest to the famous economist that battered with 300 questions, his respondents were more likely to die of fatigue than of poverty. A senior aide of the think tank chief took the mike to explain why we were wrong. We sent two investigators to each household, he said. Which made sense, of course: one to hold the respondent down physically, twisting his arm, while the other asked him 300 questions.

Now to the queue of BPL, APL, IPL, et al, may I add my own modest contribution? This is the CPL,  or Corporate Plunder Line. This embraces the corporate world and other very well-off or  ‘high net worth individuals.’  We have no money for a universal PDS. Or  even for a shrunken food security bill. We’ve cut millions  from net spending on rural employment.  We lag horribly in human development indicators, hunger indexes and nutritional surveys. Food prices keep rising and decent jobs get fewer.

Yet, BPL numbers keep shrinking. The CPL numbers, however, keep expanding. The CPL concept is anchored in the “Statement of Revenue Foregone”  section of successive union budgets. Since 2005-06, for instance, the union government has written off vast sums  in corporate income tax, including in the present budget. The very one in which it slashes millions  from the MNREGS. Throw in concessions on customs and excise duties and the corporate waivers in this year’s budget soar up.

True, there are things covered in excise and customs that also affect larger sections, like fuel, for instance. But mostly, they benefit the corporate world and the very rich. In just this budget and the last one, we’ve written off millions for diamonds, gold and jewellery in customs duties. That sort of money buys a lot of food security. But CPL trumps BPL every time. The same is true of write-offs on things like machinery. In theory, there’s a lot that should benefit everybody: like the equipment hospitals import. In practice, most Indians will never enter the 5-star hospitals that cash in on these benefits.

The total write-off on these three heads in eight years since 2005-06: Half a trillion US dollars.

P. SAINATH is the rural affairs editor of The Hindu, where this piece appears, and is the author of Everybody Loves a Good Drought. He can be reached at: psainath@vsnl.com. 

Original Article here

The jails are full of Soni Soris


 

Divya Trivedi, Hindu

Women prisoners reveal the shocking conditions of their confinement –custodial violence, which has no sanction under law, is a part and parcel of the system

Following a minor altercation with the warden in Ward No. 8 of Tihar Jail, Zohara Baratali received severe blows on her lower abdomen that made her bleed for a full month before she succumbed to her injuries. That was a decade ago.

Last year, unable to bear the trauma of being stripped, beaten and sexually assaulted by three policemen inside Pratap Nagar Police Station in Jaipur, Seema Singh tried to end her life by jumping in front of a train. She did not die, but became a paraplegic for life. That did not deter the authorities from arresting her. Last week, the hearing for her bail application was adjourned, yet again.

The All India Meet on Women Prisoners & Custodial Violence held in Delhi on the weekend threw light on the plight of women prisoners in the country. Custodial violence, which is illegal and has no sanction under law, is a part and parcel of the system, with Soni Sori’s case having brought it into the forefront. The speakers shared their concern over the use of women’s sexuality to torture and criminalize them, with police reports usually mentioning these women as those with ‘low’ character. According to them around 99.9 per cent of women prisoners in the country belong to the backward Dalit, Adivasi and minority communities.

Trade Union activist Anu said, “The class divide runs deep in jails. If you are dressed well and look affluent, you won’t be asked to do a lot of the work. But others have to be on their feet all the time, even an 80 year old woman is not spared.” Speaking of her days in Tihar Jail, Anu said that the moment one enters the jail, even as an under trial, the perception is that the person is a criminal and an atmosphere of fear is created. Violence and abuses are a part of that fear psychosis.

Rampant corruption goes hand-in-hand behind the bars, says Anu. The solar heating system that was installed with much fanfare at Tihar is non-operational till date. Instead, Rs 10 per bucket is charged for hot water from the langar. Inside the jail, a mobile phone costs Rs 15000, a charger Rs 2000, a sim card Rs 1500 and a missed call Rs 50. Well off or gunda-like criminals can afford these and also good food from the canteen.

There is space for 250 persons, but 500 occupy it. Fights for space are regular and ugly. “If a woman is charged with a crime, her mother in law is picked up from a remote corner of the country and locked up too. Entire families are languishing in jails. Many of them do not know even after five-six years in jail, why they were picked up in the first place,” said Anu.

Tihar is not the only overcrowded jail in the country. In Central India there are approximately 2,500 female under trials in jail, of which 2,000 are from Operation Green Hunt areas, said Sudha Bharadwaj from PUCL Chhattisgarh and an advocate. “Around 132 women are in the Jagdalpur jail, most of who were picked up in Naxalite cases.  The jails are badly overcrowded, and more than 20-30 are at times squeezed in rooms which have a capacity of 6,” she said. The jails sometimes have only one latrine for women, and that too with no door and in full view of male guards, she added.

In Naxalite areas, the military keeps tribal girls within their camps in the name of custodial protection. Why is there no paperwork in such cases, asks activist Indira. In conflict areas including Kashmir, women are in a particularly vulnerable position with heavy military presence and the recourse to justice non-existent. Anjum Zamarud Habib from Kashmir spoke about how basic rights get suspended the moment the police picks up someone. “Slaps, abuses, snatching at clothes. I fail to understand how one woman can do this with another woman?” she said.

A scientist by profession, Nisha who is also a rights activist experienced the worst humiliation of her life when she set her foot inside the jail, even though she escaped some of the bad treatment due to her city bred appearance. Shamim spoke of how female prisoners were not given sanitary napkins and had to use moth eaten blankets as pads. She spoke against the forceful and unnecessary pregnancy tests, where men are also present and the person conducting the test does not even change the gloves.

Though there is a law in place that women cannot be arrested by the police after sun down and before sun set, under AFSPA it has been happening in Kashmir. In even places like Bhopal women rag pickers belonging to the Pardhi community are randomly picked up. Pardhis are considered a criminal tribe even today and the perception is so strong that the Pardhi women and men are jailed for any ‘crime’ occurring in the neighbouring areas, Prema from Bhopal said.

“It is heartening that our judgments read out in Supreme Court say a lot of good things in English about dignity and rights. But the reality of local thanas is far removed from it all,” said Vrinda Grover, advocate and human rights activist.

Amongst strategies to fight custodial torture and sexual violence, the need for strong legal aids was stressed. Prison manuals clearly chalk out prison visitation rules but they are hardly adhered to. They must be made functional, felt the participants. The entrance and exit of police stations should have closed circuit television systems to keep track of who is coming and going, said Sudha Ramalingam, PUCL Tamil Nadu.

“What we have heard today is unacceptable in any civilised society and exposes our society’s double standards. Women should become rebellious, only then will real progress happen in India,” said Justice (Rtd) Rajinder Sachar