UID – #Aadhaar Number Linked Cash Transfer A Surreptitious Plan To Buy Votes


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

By Gopal Krishna

 

19 October, 2012
Countercurrents.org

 

New Delhi: Biometric data based 12 digit Unique Identification (UID)-Aadhaar Number linked welfare schemes is being bulldozed with 2014 elections in mind with the ulterior motive of altering voting behavior of the citizens by creating a ‘universal identity infrastructure’ linked to ‘unified payment infrastructure’.

 

Ahead of next parliamentary elections, with the launch of 21st crore UID-Aadhaar Number and Aadhaar Enabled Service Delivery (AESD) on October 20, 2012 contemptuously ignores Parliament, Parliamentary Committee, National Advisory Council and eminent citizens and the lessons from the belated report from Planning Commission’s Group of Experts on Privacy dated October 16, 2012. What is evident is that there is an open war declared on sensitive personal information like biometric data which includes finger prints, iris scans, voice prints, DNA samples etc. The fact is a centralized electronic database of citizens and privacy, both are conceptually contradictory.

 

The launch exercise of October 20, 2012 stands exposed because it is officially admitting that UID-Aadhaar is mandatory contrary to what was claimed at its launch in Maharashtra on September 29, 2010. The creeping of voluntariness into compulsion through threat of discontinuance of services has been roundly castigated by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) leader Yashwant Sinha headed Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.

 

A revealing Policy Research Working Paper titled ‘Conditional Cash Transfers, Political Participation, and Voting Behavior’ brought out by World Bank in October 2012 “provides empirical evidence to support the notion that political participation and political views are responsive to targeted transfers.” It notes that in Colombia, “During the 2010 presidential election voters covered by FA (large scale conditional cash transfer) not only voted more often, but also expressed a stronger preference (around 2 percentage points) for the official party that implemented and expanded the program… Another possible explanation is that FA (large scale conditional ash transfer) was strategically targeted and motivated by clientelism and vote buying.” The paper can be downloaded here (PDF)

 

On its website Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) continues to claim that UID-Aadhhar is ‘voluntary’ and not ‘mandatory’. The million dollar question which Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Nandan Monohar Nilekani need to answer is: how can Aadhaar be deemed ‘voluntary’ if service delivery is being made dependent on it. This is a grave breach of public trust. This is a deliberate exercise in deception. The proposed ‘electronic transfers of benefits and entitlements’ through ‘Aadhaar-linked bank accounts of the beneficiaries’ is crafted to make it mandatory. The claim “Each Aadhaar number will be unique to an individual and will remain valid for life. Aadhaar number will help you provide access to services like banking, mobile phone connections and other Govt and Non-Govt services in due course” is fraught with creating a platform for convergence of government and corporate sector as is aimed by the ‘Transformational Government’ project of World Bank’s eTransform Initiative launched in partnership with Governments of South Korea and France and six transnational corporations like Gemalto, IBM, Intel, L-1 Identity Solutions (now part of Safran Group), Microsoft and Pfizer.

 

This scheme is unfolding despite the fact that Parliament has not passed the National Identification Authority of India Bill (NIAI), 2010 proposed by the Indian National Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. It is noteworthy that Sinha headed Parliamentary Committee in its report to the Parliament has rejected UID and biometric data collection terming it as an illegal and an unethical project.

 

Corroborating citizens’ concerns, the Parliamentary Committee has noted that the government has “admitted that (a) no committee has been constituted to study the financial implications of the UID scheme; and (b) comparative costs of the aadhaar number and various existing ID documents are also not available.” The Committee expressed its anxiety that, the way the project had been run, “the scheme may end up being dependent on private agencies, despite contractual agreement made by the UIDAI with several private vendors.”

 

The parliamentary rejection of this scheme came in the aftermath of the Statement of Concern issued in the matter of world’s biggest data management project, Unique Identification (UID) /Aadhaar Number scheme and related proposals like National Intelligence Grid by 17 eminent citizens led by Justice V R Krishna Iyer. The NIAI Bill, 2010 which was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 3, 2010 after the constitution of the UIDAI and appointment of Nilekani as its Chairman in the rank and status of a Cabinet Minister without oath of secrecy. The Bill sought to provide statutory status to the UIDAI which has been functioning without backing of law since January 2009. At present UIDAI is functioning without any legislative mandate.

 

One day ahead of the launch of UID in Nandurbar District of Maharashtra on September 29, 2010, the statement of eminent citizens had asked for the project to be put on hold till a feasibility study was done, a cost: benefit analysis undertaken, a law of privacy put in place and the various concerns of surveillance, tracking, profiling, tagging and convergence of data be addressed. None of this has happened till today. The Parliamentary Committee endorsed these concerns and recognised that the project cannot carry on till this is set right. Many countries UK, China, USA, Australia and the Philippines have abandoned such identity schemes.

 

Nilekani, as a member or chairperson of multiple committees of several ministries, has been trying to push for the adoption of the UID, and for the re-engineering of current systems to fit the does not meet the requirements of the UID. There have been attempts to withdraw services such as LPG and other essential commodities if a person has not enrolled for a UID. The state governments and citizens have been kept in dark about the harmful ramifications of the world’s biggest data management project and how it linked with hitherto undisclosed other proposed legislations and initiatives. The UID number and related proposals pose a threat to both civil liberties as well as our natural resources like land as is evident from Land Titling Bill and Nilekani’s book that aims to create a common land market to reduce poverty.

 

Nilekani’s promotion of Hernando de Sotto’s book ‘The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else‘ through his own book Imagining India arguing that national ID system would be a big step for land markets to facilitate right to property and undoing of abolition of right to property in 1978 in order to bring down poverty! Nilekani and the UPA government should be asked as to explain the inexplicability of such assumptions.

 

Notably, such UIDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and UK. The reasons have predominantly been: costs and privacy. In the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’. The Supreme Court of Philippines struck down a biometric based national ID system as unconstitutional on two grounds – the overreach of the executive over the legislative powers of the congress and invasion of privacy. The same is applicable in India.

 

Not surprisingly, the Parliamentary Committee observes, “The clearance of the Ministry of Law & Justice for issuing aadhaar numbers, pending passing the Bill by Parliament, on the ground that powers of the Executive are co-extensive with the legislative power of the Government and that the Government is not debarred from exercising its Executive power in the areas which are not regulated by the legislation does not satisfy the Committee. The Committee are constrained to point out that in the instant case, since the law making is underway with the bill being pending, any executive action is as unethical and violative of Parliament‟s prerogatives.” The committee also observed that a National Data Protection Law is “a pre-requisite for any law that deals with large scale collection of information from individuals and its linkages across separate databases. It would be difficult to deal with the issues like access and misuse of personal information, surveillance, profiling, linking and matching of data bases and securing confidentiality of information etc.“

 

In a significant development following rigorous deliberations, an Indian development support organization founded in 1960, Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) disassociated itself from UID Number project which was being undertaken under Mission Convergence in Delhi. Withdrawal of IGSSS that works in 21 states of the country merits the attention of all the states and civil society organisations especially those who are unwittingly involved in the UID Number enrollment process. In its withdrawal letter IGSSS said, “we will not be able to continue to do UID enrolment…” It added, it is taking step because ‘it’s hosted under the rubric of UNDP’s “Innovation Support for Social Protection: Institutionalizing Conditional Cash Transfers” [Award ID: 00049804, Project: 00061073; Confer: Output 1, Target 1.2 (a) & Output 3 (a), (b)]. In fact we had no clue of this until recently when we searched the web and got this information.’

 

It is clear that both Mission Convergence and UIDAI have been hiding these crucial facts with ulterior motives. The letter reads, “IGSSS like many other leading civil society groups and individuals are opposed to conditional cash transfers and the UID will be used to dictate it.”

 

The Parliamentary Standing Committee considered the NIAI Bill, 2010 presented its report to the Parliament on December 13, 2011. The reported rejects biometric data based identification of Indians. The report is a severe indictment of the hasty and `directionless’ project which has been “conceptualised with no clarity of purpose”. Even the functional basis of the Unique Identification Authority of India UIDAI is unclear and yet the project has been rolled out. The Standing Committee found the biometric technology `uncertain’ and ‘untested’. As early as December 2009, the Biometric Data Committee had found that the error rate using fingerprints was inordinately high. In a recent interview to the press, the Director General and Mission Director of the UIDAI had admitted that fingerprints are likely not to work for authentication. The error rate could end up excluding up to 15% of the population. It has also come to light that even iris scan keeps changing and is unreliable. Yet, the UIDAI has gone on with the exercise. Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) had appeared before the Parliamentary Committee to give its testimony on the UID BIll.

 

“I would have liked to make an additional point about the perspective Adhaar reflects vis-a-vis governance of our country and the conduct of our society. The only inference one can reasonably draw is that the votaries of this idea expect the Indian state to perpetually or for a long time remain in the ‘mai-baap’ role, personally taking care of each of its needy children. Why else would we want to spend so much money on a device only meant to enable the ‘mai-baap’ to correctly identify its children?” said Deep Joshi, member, National Advisory Council (NAC) in a message. Other NAC members like Aruna Roy has also been vociferously opposed to centralization of governance through schemes like UID. Clearly, the views of these members too have been ignored.

 

Besides influencing the voter preference, once the Planning Commission’s Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of 600 million citizens is ready by 2014 and the related National Population Register (NPR) of the remaining 600 citizens is ready it will emerge as a potential threat to minority communities of all sorts by some regime which finds them unsuitable for their political projects.

 

So far the entire political class has remained insensitive to the decision of the European Court of Human Rights about violation of the right to privacy and citizens’ rights. The case was heard publicly on February 27, 2008, and the unanimous decision of 17 judges was delivered on December 4, 2008. The court found that the “blanket and indiscriminate nature” of the power of retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples, and DNA profiles of persons suspected but not convicted of offenses, failed to strike a fair balance between competing public and private interests and ruled that the United Kingdom had “overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation” in this regard. The decision is nonappealable.

 

Unmindful of this, in India, National databank of biometric data is unfolding which is proposed to be linked to electoral database amidst the political myopia of political parties in the face of the onslaught of the foreign biometric and surveillance technology companies. The only saving grace has been Parliamentary Standing Committee that has taken on board studies done in the UK on the identity scheme that was begun and later withdrawn in May 2010, where the problems were identified to include “(a) huge cost involved and possible cost overruns; (b) too complex;(c) untested, unreliable and unsafe technology; (d) possibility of risk to the safety and security of citizens; and (e) requirement of high standard security measures, which would result in escalating the estimated operational costs.”

 

It may be recalled that S.Y. Quraishi, the previous Chief Election Commissioner had sent a dangerous proposal to Union Ministry of Home Affairs asking it “to merge the Election ID cards with UID”. Such an exercise would mean rewriting and engineering the electoral ecosystem with the unconstitutional and illegal use of biometric technology in a context where electoral finance has become source of corruption and black money in the country. This would lead to linking of UID, Election ID and Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) which is not as innocent and as politically neutral as it has been made out to be. It is noteworthy that all EVMs have a UID as well. In the meanwhile, it is reliably learnt that voter registration in Manipur is happening using biometric data. This makes a mockery of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on UID which notes that “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information of individuals 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”.

 

Opposition parties at the centre and in the States appear to be feigning ignorance about these attempts at re-plumbing the electoral ecosystem and a complicit section of civil society seems guilty of practicing ‘the economics of innocent fraud’.

 

The results of the October 2012 World Bank paper find that “voters respond to targeted transfers and that these transfers can foster support for incumbents”. The UID-Aadhaar and unified payment infrastructure proposed is an act in designing political mechanisms to capture pre-existing schemes for political patronage in spite of the absence of ‘legislative mechanisms’. It is apparent that non-UPA parties have been caught unawares into implementing the program which is designed to their political disadvantage.

 

Gopal Krishna, Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL), Mb: 9818089660, Phone: +91-11-2651781, Fax:+91-11-26517814,E-mail:krishna1715@gmail.com

 

 

#Vedanta to restart Odisha refinery from Monday #badnews


 
Plant was shut since last week on bauxite unavailability
Jayajit Dash / Bhubaneswar Oct 20, 2012, 18:33 IST

 
A week after going for a temporary shutdown of its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh (Odisha), Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) is gearing up to restart the plant from Monday, buoyed by bauxite supplies to the tune of around 40,000 tonne from Bharat Aluminum Company’s (Balco) Kawardah mines in Chhattisgarh.

As bauxite availability dried up, VAL was forced to shut down the refinery last Saturday.

 

“Nearly 40,000 tonne of bauxite have reached our refinery premises. We have sourced the raw material from Balco’s Kawardah mines. The bauxite stock will be enough to run our plant for 5-6 days if we operate it at 60-70% capacity, which represents the minimum threshold value of the plant”, a company source told Business Standard.
Balco has two captive bauxite mines in Chhattisgarh- Kawardah and Mainpat, with a combined production capacity of 1.9 million tonne per annum. The Mainpat mine is currently closed.

VAL needed 10,000 tonne of bauxite every day to run the plant at full capacity.

VAL will first start its captive co-generating plant (CPP) to generate steam, necessary for running the refinery. It may be noted that along with shut down of the refinery, VAL had also closed its CPP last Saturday as there was no consumption of steam.

Meanwhile, VAL is eyeing bauxite supplies from Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC) after bagging the contract from the state PSU.

“The first bauxite shipment has been loaded by GMDC. We hope to get it within a few days. In all, we will get 90,000 tonne of bauxite from GMDC”, said the source.

The company is also in talks with private firms of Gujarat and Maharashtra that are currently engaged in bauxite exports.

VAL had approached both Federation of Indian Mineral Industries (Fimi) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (Ficci), seeking ban on bauxite exports. While VAL was struggling to keep its refinery operations afloat for want of bauxite, the raw material continued to be exported by private miners in Gujarat and Maharashtra due to better price realisations.

VAL has not been alloted any mining lease in Odisha and fully depends on externally sourced bauxite to run its refinery. It had entered into a pact with state controlled miner Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for supply of bauxite from Niyamgiri hills.

However, attempts to mine bauxite at the ecologically sensitive hills were red flagged by the Union environment ministry that had scrapped the Stage-II forest clearance on August 24, 2010.

Around 6,500 people, including 550 employed directly, 5,000 engaged indirectly and 1,000 self-employed in and around the plant depended on VAL refinery for their livelihood. The company claimed to have spent Rs 150 crore on the development of the local area and community.

 

#India-Three Bangalore bar girls gang-raped #Vaw #Rape


Three bar girls were gang-raped by a group of eight-nine men, who broke into their house located on the outskirts of Bangalore late Thursday night.

The victims’ house is adjacent to Jnanabharathi campus, where a 21-year-old law student was gang-raped on October 6. Police said the three victims stay with five other bar girls. Most of them are from north India and work at Casino Royale bar and restaurant in Gandhinagar.

“The girls returned from work at 12.30am. While they were watching TV, someone knocked on the main door,” police said.

“The security guard opened it without checking who it was. An armed gang of eight-nine men barged inside and forced all three security guards into a room. They then took three girls inside a room and raped them. They also looted the house,” the police added.

The three victims were then taken to another house, where one of them was raped again.

One of the bar girls, on condition of anonymity, said the men forced all eight of them to strip and then made videos using their mobile phones, threatening to circulate the video clips if anyone informed the police.

Police suspect the miscreants had been following the girls for a few days.

“We suspect that the accused are from surrounding villages. We have formed several teams to crack the case,” said Anupam Agrawal, superintendent of Ramnagar district.

 

#AmandaTodd’s death provokes serious societal questions: #vaw #onlinebullying


 

 

Published on Thursday October 18, 2012, Toronto Star

Amanda Todd, 15, took her own life after years of intense online bullying.
Judith Timson

Two very different videos went viral recently.

The first was of a grown woman, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, vigorously attacking an opponent on his alleged sexism.

Gillard’s prolonged fusillade in Parliament against Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition, had jaws dropping all over the world. “You’ve got to see this!” was one message I got, while on Twitter her speech was described as “scathing” “passionate” and “incandescent.”

The second video, posted on YouTube, was the now sadly famous one of B.C. teenagerAmanda Todd silently recounting, using only flash cards, her horrific “never-ending” experience of being bullied both online and in person, and her subsequent depression.

Because the 15-year-old killed herself last week, it is utterly wrenching to watch. It has provoked national anguish, countless talk show conversations, an RCMP investigation, and a renewed parliamentary debate on how to stop bullying.

Both videos tapped into an important question: How do you stand up for yourself in a tear-down culture?

With her hand pointing in the direction of Abbott, whose facial expression went from an arrogant smirk to supreme discomfort, Gillard, 51, delivered impassioned detail after detail of what she called his “repulsive” behaviour, including standing next to a sign that said, “Ditch the witch.”

If her opponent really wanted to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia, thundered Gillard, “he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror.”

Some people harshly criticized her rant as hypocritical (she was trying to contain a sexism scandal involving a member of her own government) but no one could deny it was riveting, almost a crash course in how a powerful woman stands up for herself.

Nobody messaged me that I “had to see” Todd’s video, which only achieved prominence after her death — you don’t urge that kind of pain on anyone else. But it’s a must see, too: it speaks viscerally, not just to the horrors of what the CBC’s Internet expert Jesse Hirsh describes as “a virtual lynch mob,” but about equally elusive issues of vulnerability, true self-confidence, and how to help our kids stand up for themselves in a brutal smackdown culture.

While we don’t know all the details of her final days, watching it has led to a deep sense of public frustration about why this obviously spirited young woman seemed so alone and why she didn’t get the help she needed to beat back bullies intent on destroying her self-esteem and reputation (and who disgustingly continue, even after her death, to savage her online).

As the agonizing goes on about how to combat online bullying, we as adults also need to come clean about the ways we participate in this culture. (I even wondered whether, in loving Gillard’s speech, I was just enjoying the fact that she ripped into that guy with the smirk.)

We give ourselves permission to judge just about everyone, from red carpet celebrities in ill-chosen designer gowns — “what was she thinking?”— to public figures who have the misfortune to look or act silly even for a second.

We, the jury, lie in wait, and we now have the technological tools to spread our contempt, sarcasm or ridicule far and wide. We don’t like to admit we fuel this culture because then we’d have to stop Facebook “liking” or forwarding those milder put downs ourselves.

All this mocking and hissing we now accept as part of our cultural landscape is lethal for some teenagers. It breaks their spirits and their hearts.

Toronto family therapist Diane Moody suggests a mandatory “sensitivity training credit course” in schools in which drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, physical disabilities and other challenges are discussed and in which compassion is actually taught.

She also says students need to learn “the difference between aggression and assertion.” The Gillard speech would work well in that discussion.

Todd’s video will live on as a haunting act of both bravery and desperation. If only she had survived her horrific experience. If only she could have eventually grown up.

Who knows what she would have become? A singer, as she dreamed? Or maybe even someone who fiercely takes on an opponent in parliament.

Judith Timson’s column runs every Thursday. Email her at judith.timson@sympatico.ca

See more Amanda Todd coverage here

See more Judith Timson here

 

 

#India- SC judgement on non implementation of the Vishakha guidelines (1997) #Vaw


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
ORIGINAL/APPELLATE JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NOS . 173-177 OF 1999
Medha Kotwal Lele and Others …… Petitioners
Vs.
Union of India and Others ……Respondents
WITH
T.C . (C) NO . 21 OF 2001
CIVIL APPEAL NO . 5009 OF 2006
CIVIL APPEAL NO . 5010 OF 2006
JUDGMENT

R.M . LODHA, J .

The Vishaka1 judgment came on 13.8.1997. Yet,15 years
after the guidelines were laid down by this Court for the prevention and
redressal of sexual harassment and their due compliance under Article 141
of the Constitution of India until such time appropriate legislation was
enacted by the Parliament, many women still struggle to have their most
basic rights protected at workplaces. The statutory law is not in place. The
Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010
is still pending in Parliament though Lok Sabha is said to have passed that
Bill in the first week of September, 2012. The belief of the Constitution
framers in fairness and justice for women is yet to be fully achieved at the
workplaces in the country.

2. This group of four matters – in the nature of public interest
litigation – raises principally the grievance that women continue to be
victims of sexual harassment at workplaces. The guidelines in Vishaka1 are
followed in breach in substance and spirit by state functionaries and all
other concerned. The women workers are subjected to harassment
through legal and extra legal methods and they are made to suffer insult
and indignity.

3. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, inter alia, states,
Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies the
enjoyment by women of human rights and fundamental freedoms……. In
all societies, to a greater or lesser degree, women and girls are subjected
to physical, sexual and psychological abuse that cuts across lines of
income, class and culture”.

Downlaod full judgement below, click

Medha Kotwal vs UOI

Do you understand #Nuclear Liability, Mr. M. R. Srinivasan?


Anuj Wankhede, dianuke.org 

I was surprised and amused at the weak defense that M. R. Srinivasan offers in THE HINDU dated 15/10/2012 where he seems to have taken on the mantle of the Attorney General of India.

As a current and an ex member of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) there are obvious conflicts of interest here which make him feel that the Indian Liability laws related to civilian nuclear disasters are too strong.

Well, perhaps, he can explain why, after billions of rupees are being poured into this madness of nuclear energy, India only has less than 3% power from nuclear energy? In his own words, Tarapur started 43 years ago. Surely, ANY industry would / should have progressed far beyond this and delivered much more.

M. R. Srinivasan further goes on to state with pride that we have built several PHWR reactors“on our own” and that was because there was limited liability and the industry had a free hand!!

Even today, the VVER reactors being commissioned at Koodankulam require Russian or Croatian experts to build, load and operate them. Where is the question of India having developed anything indigenous in its nuclear program? It has been and will always remain a foreign suppliers dream project aided by supplicant Indian scientists.

To come to his first point about GE and Canada. Let us understand that GE is NOT a charitable institution which came to India to give its know-how. They came to do a multi million dollar business knowing fully well that the risks of doing business in India were far lower than in their any other country!

Mr. Srinivasan, you seem to be patting your own back. But, for the knowledge of our readers, can you inform us what our “learned” scientists have learned about Fast Breeder Reactors or Thorium based reactors in this half century. And how far are they from even a prototype reactor which is paying them months and years for no reason? Every few months, NPCIL and DAE say we are just month’s ways from commissioning such a project. Do you think Indians believe you anymore Mr. Srinivasan?

Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy protest outside the Prime Minister’s office in New Delhi on May 4, 2010 before filing RTI petitions on the nuclear liability bill. Photo: THE HINDU

To even compare the Indian Nuclear Liability Law and the Price Anderson Act in the USA is a joke. That US Act –passed in 1957– covers theDepartment of Energy (DOE) facilities, private licensees, and their subcontractors including the USEC uranium enrichment plants, and national laboratories.

The US Act further states clearly that “Companies are expressly forbidden to defend any action for damages on the grounds that an incident was not their fault.”

Does the Indian Act indemnify all of these parties? Just including suppliers has got the nuclear lobby into a tizzy!!

In the US, nuclear suppliers, operators and all those concerned with the project must pool money and keep it ready to compensate damages in case of accidents. No insurance company in its right mind would anyway underwrite such dangerous projects. So, the money comes directly from the pockets/profits of these nuclear bigwigs such as GE and Areva.

I particularly thank Mr. Srinivasan on bringing up the topic of liability and how India made progress because of not having a liability regime. He talks with pride of the complexities and the factors at play. Read this hilarious statement:

Let us look at the way an owner-operator manages a nuclear power plant. Even where a plant has been supplied by a single entity under a turnkey contract, many vendors, often running into thousands, would have supplied many components. During operation, the operator incorporates many changes and modifications to improve the reliability, ease of operation and efficiency. They may or may not have been done in full consultation with the original suppliersof equipment. Chances that sub-suppliers would be consulted on changes are very small.”

Awesome!!! So you mean a multibilliondollar plant is constructed and then ‘suitably’ modified to the whims and fancies of the supplier-operator while nothing can be done about it!!

Then why have environmental clearances too? Simply claim that you are planning a building and then go ahead adding floors and extensions to it!! It happens all the time in India, so why not do that with your nuclear plants too?

Has Mr. Srinivasan even heard of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) in California which is lying idle since January because of the VERY same reasons he talks about? The operator and supplier made changes to the designs. These changes were incorporated and installed for the operator by the contractor, Mitsubishi. However, within months after these ‘upgrades’, radiation was detected and because of that, the plant has had to be shut down. It remains shuteven now and will probably never restart. Yet, the burden of running even this shut plant falls on the people of California who are paying for it through higher electricity bills because nuclear power plants cannot be simply locked away like textile mills, they contain deadly radioactive material which needs constant monitoring and maintenance even during shut downs!

A Liability law seeks to set a level playing field in case of a civilian nuclear accident. The learned gentlemanmakes reference to and even ridicules the Supreme Court orders of “polluter pays”!!!

Obviously he is in contempt of court and I hope the SC takes suomoto action against him,

Mr. Srinivasan should probably explain why we should have ANY laws in this country? If airplanes and railways cause accidents, why make them accountable or liable? If someone kills another person, do not prosecute him, let him go free. After all, that is the meaning of “free market” to you Mr. Srinivasan, right?

Let anyone come to India, pollute, plunder, loot, take their profits, cause damages and then scoot……We are after all a banana republic. A nuclear banana.

Anuj is a Masters in Management Studies, an avid environmentalist who believes that bigger the problem, bigger the opportunity.

He can be reached at benchmark.anuj (at)gmail.com and 9757475875

 

The Iron Lady of Jharkhand: Dayamani Barla


October 19, 2012,  by MAHTAB ALAM, kafila.org

The journalist turned anti-displacement, tribal, woman activist from Jharkhand Dayamani Barla, better known as the Iron lady of Jharkhand amongst people’s movements and activists, or simply as Dayamani Di was granted bail by a local court in Ranchi on Thursday afternoon. She was sent to Jail on Tuesday in fourteen days judicial custody, after she surrendered before the court in a matter of 25 April 2006. Six years ago, she was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including Section 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapons), for participating in a protest demonstration, which blocked the road, demanding job cards for rural laborers under the celebrated National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). She had availed bail at that time from the concerned police station and the matter was almost closed one.

But recently, when the State government and its Police were not feeling comfortable with Dayamani’s anti-Displacement activities at Ranchi’s Nagadi village, they chose to re-open the case. They started sending notices at her rented house and harassing her friends, comrades and relatives. One day, the police reached her house to confiscate her belongings. She somehow managed to escape this situation and decided to surrender before a Court, instead of getting arrested by Police. Notably, she was not alone against whom the case was registered in 2006, the case was registered against 10 named persons other than Dayamani and one thousand unnamed persons, but the police chose to act only against her, for obvious reasons. Interestingly, the rural populaces are still facing difficulties in getting job cards, a legal right of every adult citizenry. “While the government is sending me Jail for no crime, but the demands made in the said protest are yet to be fulfilled,” Damayani made this point before leaving for jail while talking to reporters.

Dayamani Barla, one of the leading anti-Displacement activists of our time is fighting many battles against corporate giants and government alike in various parts of Jharkhand. However, her battle is not limited to the state of Jharkhand alone.  As one of the national Conveners of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), along with Medha Patekar and others and as an Executive Committee Member (also former National President) of the India Social Action Forum (INSAF), she is not only part and leader of various people’s movements and campaigns across India but also represents India at International level. For hundreds of activists across India and abroad, she is one of the sources of inspiration, including for this writer. Her courage to fight against injustices at various levels is not only exemplary but simply unmatched. She is a tireless and selfless activist, with strong capabilities and guts take on anyone, including governments. She is totally uncompromising, when it comes to displacement. This is what makes government and corporate afraid of her.

Hence, this not the first time when she is intimidated or harassed but the government is leaving no chance to target her. Early this year, on 14th January, in the evening, a Police Mobile Van of Chutya Thana (Ranchi) landed at her hotel (Dayamani for livelihood and family support, along with her life-partner runs a small hotel, dhaba  at Club Road Ranchi) and started to harass her staff asking about her links with anti-social elements, means Maoist. The Sub-Inspector making the ‘enquiries’ neither had any written permission or an order. The following day, when she met SSP Ranchi, Mr. Saket Kumar at latter’s residence to ask why she was being harassed in this manner, his response was that the allegations were being made on the basis of an complaint and the fact that she participated in the “Free Jiten Marandi Convention”, in which Binayak Sen, Gautam Navlakha Varavara Rao were also present. However, when asked what the crime in that is, the SSP refused to talk.

The recent intimidation and arrest is due to her leading a restless, successful and mostly peaceful (except once when police opened fire on villagers) struggle against the acquisition of fertile land at Nagari, a village situated at few kilometers from the state capital and where government wants to build IIM, IIT and National Law School. Contrary to the propaganda spread by government and its machinery, the protestors do want these institutions to be build but not at the cost of the main source of livelihood of villagers. And they have suggested an alternative as well in neighborhood for the said purpose but the government is adamant. As per modest estimates, at least 500 tribal families and their livelihood will be destroyed, if the land is acquired for said institutions. In January, the state bulldozed farms just around when the winter crops, mostly potatoes and pulses, were to be harvested. Following that, the police filed FIRs against 12 villagers! But even then the struggle is still on. And this is what worrying the government most. The government is desperately trying to crush the movement, by hook or crook.

Here, however, what we must remember that it is not a matter of Dayamani Barla or Jharkhand alone.  Harassment of activists on flimsy pretexts and conviction in fabricated cases has become trend of our times. And this must resisted robustly by human rights activists and organizations everywhere. This I feel strongly also because as I was about to finish this, I am informed that farmer leader and activist friend of ours from Madhya Pradesh is pronounced convicted by a local trail court in a fabricated case and taken in to custody. The actual term of sentence will be announced tomorrow. The case in which he is convicted was essentially a case of Police firing, killing 24 farmers. The time has also come to speak out against the executive mildness of the Courts as well. Something needs to be done urgently.

Are we ready or waiting for our turn?

(Mahtab Alam is a Delhi based civil rights activist and freelance journalist.)

Press Release-Delhi High Court’s Decision to restore BRT #goodnews


 

“A developed Country is not one where the poor owns cars but it is one where the rich use Public Transport” – Delhi High Court

 

New Delhi, October 19 : National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), an intervenor in the case, welcomes the Delhi High Court judgement on the Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) case, whereby it upheld the policy and dismissed the petition filed by Nyaybhoomi. The judgement by Honourable judges, Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Manmohan Singh upheld the right of the state to develop ‘a sustainable urban transport policy’ and common people’s democratic right over the road.

 

The 5.8 km BRT stretch has been under fire from several quarters – car owners, certain media houses, nearby upmarket resident welfare associations etc. – since time of its functioning. The BRT concept has been under attack and veiled under the rubric of rights and justice but it needs to be noted that in a democracy the planning and resources can’t be cornered by a group of rich people. The judgement though refuses to take sides over the class issue but the examples it cites does support our argument that majority of Delhi public use public transport and any planning has to keep in larger public good. Only a small section of the urban population uses cars but they are consuming a large chunk of the resources, as delineated by the judgement that  98% of the expenditure under JNURRM is being spent for the privately owned vehicles, cars and two wheelers leading to deteriorating air quality and causing massive traffic jams and so on.

 

The judgement notes that “since in a democracy it is not possible to physically seize cars and destroy them, the only democratic solution would be to dedicate road space for the buses, which would move fast, and this would act as an incentive for people to switch to Public Transport”. Given the increasing population, which stands today at 18.2 million, and despite several measures taken as road widening, flyovers (46 as of now) etc. traffic congestion continues and “there is no escaping to the fact that citizens will have to use public transport, one day or other”. The judgment rightly states, that two cars, taking same space as a bus, transport only three persons as against 60 to 70 persons in a bus during peak hours and around 40 persons during non-peak hours. A car commences and terminates its journey with the same 1.5 persons. But a bus would drop and pick up many persons en-route adding up to nearly 200 people.

 

We do hope that the Judgement will give boost to Delhi Government which has a plan of 7 more BRT corridors in the city and some of the glitches with the current stretch will be sorted. BRT concept is already running successfully in cities of Ahmedabad, Indore, Pune and others and with sufficient planning and promotion by the government Delhi working class and public transport users can surely look forward to a better mobility within the city in time to come.

 

We also hope that this will pave the way for criminal action against Mr. B B Sharan, who broke the median personally using a bulldozer on the night of May 12 on the BRT. Delhi government must take action against him, seek damages and file criminal case for destruction of the government property.

 

Rajendra Ravi, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Sunita Rani, Anita Kapoor, Nanu Prasad Gupta, Seela M Mahapatra and Madhuresh Kumar

 

For Details Contact : – 09868200316 or email to napmdelhi@gmail.com

 

Celebrate Shahir Amar Sheikh Jayanti, Oct 21,Sunday #Pune


Lokayat  organises Cultural Program to Celebrate:

SHAHIR AMAR SHEIKH BIRTH CENTENARY

Lokayat celebrates the Birth Centenary of Shahir Amar Sheikh on October 21, 2012. Shahir Amar Sheikh was a revolutionary folk singer and freedom fighter.

Born on October 20, 1916, he was active in the freedom struggle and went to jail many times. After India won freedom, he continued his activism and was active in the Goa Mukti Andolan and Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement. He was also active in the working class movement, and fought for the rights of the agricultural poor and factory workers.

But all the while, his dedication to shahiri continued, and he wrote and sung many songs which inspire people even today, many years after his death. Acharya Atre has aptly described Amar Sheikh as a living sum of fire, blaze, spirit and intoxication. Shahir Amar Sheikh breathed his last on August 29, 1969.

 

Program: Cultural performance of songs by Lokayat’s cultural troupe.

 

Date:  October 21, 2012

Time:  6 pm to 7pm

Venue: Lokayat Hall, 3rd Floor, Law College Road, Near Nal Stop, Pune.

 

All are invited. Entry is free.

for mroe information contact neeraj – Ph. Mobile 094222 20311
Landline: 020-25231251

# India-Mental illness, choice and rights


October 20, 2012

Harsh Mander, The Hindu

  • Until recently, the law treated persons with mental illness not as persons who deserve treatment and care, but as people who are vaguely dangerous. File Photo: S. James
    Until recently, the law treated persons with mental illness not as persons who deserve treatment and care, but as people who are vaguely dangerous. File Photo: S. James
  • Members of Disabled Rights Group (DRG) and National Alliance on Access to Justice for People Living with Mental Illeness (NAAJMI) staging a protest outside Health Ministry against the Mental Health Care Bill. File Photo: V. Sudershan
    The Hindu Members of Disabled Rights Group (DRG) and National Alliance on Access to Justice for People Living with Mental Illeness (NAAJMI) staging a protest outside Health Ministry against the Mental Health Care Bill. File Photo: V. Sudershan

The new Bill should pitch for free care to mental health patients in public hospitals.

Persons with mental illness have long been subjected to cruelty, neglect, ridicule and stigma. In the last half-century, medical science has made significant strides in finding some cures and palliatives for afflictions of the mind – of emotion, mood, thinking and behaviour. Parallel to this is the evolution in our ethical frameworks: of human rights, and acknowledgment of the equal dignity of all human beings. But changes in the law, social attitudes, and the work of healthcare institutions and psychiatric professionals, have not kept pace with these scientific and normative advances.

The Mental Health Care Bill, 2012, recently released by the government, is an exceptional State-led attempt to correct many of the historical wrongs to which persons with mental illness have long been subject. The draft emerged after a long and engaged process of consultation with persons with mental illness, their care-givers, their organisations, and professionals.

The Bill met immediately with fierce opposition from some radical disability and mental health organisations. Many of their concerns and fears are legitimate. But I believe that this is on balance a humane and progressive Bill, bravely and compassionately navigating difficult ethical and professional terrains.

Until quite recently, it was routine to lock away people with mental illness in jails or jail-like mental hospitals, kept naked or in prison-like uniforms, bound in chains, abandoned and often forgotten for lifetimes. The number of beds in mental hospitals were, however, minuscule, and the large majority of patients were denied any kind of care, except those offered by faith healers and untrained practitioners.

The new Bill contains many protections to persons with mental illness. It bars prolonged hospitalisation, chaining, compulsory tonsuring, forced sterilisation, and electro-convulsive therapy without anaesthesia, and defends rights of patients to privacy, personal clothes and protection from abuse. It also prescribes that all persons with mental illness have the right to dignity, and to live in, be part of, and not segregated from society.

The Bill also mandates that mental health services shall be integrated into general health services at all levels – primary, secondary and tertiary, and that these services shall be available in the neighbourhood. If enforced, this will draw a curtain on the long tragic history of injustices and abuses which characterised large, segregated mental hospitals.

The opening sections of the Bill are forthright in admitting that persons with mental illness suffer discrimination, and that the current law has failed to protect their rights and promote their access to health care. It goes on to assure all persons the right to ‘affordable’ good quality public health care.

I believe this guarantee does not go far enough. In these columns last fortnight, I recounted the story of Rajesh, a young man suffering from hallucinations from full-blown psychosis, badly injured, who was repeatedly refused admission by many major public hospitals in the capital. The story underlines the general experience of growing abdication by professionals and public institutions to take care of impoverished and difficult patients. I believe that the Bill must guarantee nothing less than free care in all public hospitals for all patients who seek or need care, and prescribe deterrent punishments for hospitals and professionals who refuse to provide care.

Against their will

Despite its many progressive and humane features, the Bill is still attacked by some radical associations of persons with mental illness, mainly because it retains provisions in rare cases to admit patients for care, even against their will. This debate has an important history.

Until as recently as 1987, the colonial Indian Lunacy Act, 1912, prevailed, in which persons with mental illness (described as ‘lunatics’ and ‘idiots’), were admitted into mental hospitals through the order of Magistrates. The law treated persons with mental illness not as persons who deserve treatment and care, like any other person who falls ill, but as people who are vaguely dangerous, and therefore it in effect primarily aimed to protect other people from persons with mental illness.

The Mental Health Act of 1987 partially corrected this, by allowing for voluntary admissions, but Magistrates still retained a central role for patients who were admitted to mental hospitals against their will. Mental health activists rightly campaigned against this provision, as it was undignified and stigmatising; and it was on occasion misused to abandon and ‘tame’ assertive and non-conforming women and men.

Radical mental health activists are dismayed because the new Bill still allows involuntary admissions of patients against their will. They are uncompromising that the will of the patient should be absolute regarding whether or not she wishes to accept treatment and care.

On the other hand, many persons with mental illness, and their care-givers, recognise that there are occasions when it is in the paramount interest of some patients to be given care forcefully, even when they refuse it, if the person is in imminent danger of causing harm to herself or to other people. The Bill limits involuntary admissions to only such cases, with many checks and balances. Forced admission is only for 30 days at a time. The Magistrate is removed from the picture completely, and is replaced by mandatory reviews of all such cases by mental health panels, which comprise judges but also administrators and persons with mental illness and their care-givers.

There are moments I have observed – among loved ones, friends and the young people from the streets who are now in our care – when a person is suicidal or hallucinatory, abandons home or is suspicious of loved ones, is compulsively manic, spending or gambling life savings, violent and dangerous to himself or to neighbours. In the name of human rights, no hospital or professional offers them care. But there are deeper human rights in these moments, which cumulatively may temporarily override the right of free choice. These are the rights to empathy, protection, dignity and care. I believe that the Bill is right in the delicate balance it has found, retaining the provisions for involuntary admissions, but limiting these severely with many cautions and checks.

These debates are important, and we need to listen to each other more. But while we discuss, we must welcome a draft law which promises to reverse the cruelty, ignorance and abdication, which still characterises ways the State and professionals still treat people battling demons in their minds and souls, while guaranteeing them empathy, respect, protection and care.