Change.org: We’ve Seen This Before


Wenonah Hauter

Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

Posted: 10/30/2012 6:16 pm

Recently, the Huffington Post reported thatChange.org has abandoned its progressive roots and apparently planned on doing it without telling anyone, according to documents leaked from a Change.org employee to Jeff Bryant with Campaign for America’s Future. (According to this petition on rival petition site Signon.org, that employee has nowbeen fired.)

So why is Change.org changing?

“[W]e as an organization have transitioned from an American cause-based organizing network with a largely progressive agenda into a global platform open to a wider diversity of participants and perspectives,” wrote Change.org founder and CEO Ben Rattray to his staff, in an email also leaked to The Huffington Post.

For the past three years, Food & Water Watch has run campaigns with Change.org, so we were outraged when we heard that they would now potentially be working with the likes of Monsanto, the American Petroleum Institute, and anyone else that wants to run a campaign with them.

We spoke with several leaders inside Change.org last week, including Ben Rattray himself. He tried to reassure us that their change in policy did not mean a change in values, and they would not start working with Monsanto tomorrow.

Our conversations did not reassure us.

Rattray characterizes this new “open” policy as a way to indicate that they are non-partisan and focused on empowerment as a tool of change. I pointed out to him that in many cases the issues we work on, from fracking and genetically modified organisms to privatization of our common resources and the destruction or weakening of unions, has been embraced by both major parties.

In fact, wouldn’t we hope that a platform like Change.org would hold Democratic Party officials accountable to their base, rather than the corporations that are buying votes and ultimately creating a situation where public policy is for sale?

And let’s talk about empowerment. We don’t want to see climate change deniers empowered. We have worked with Change.org to empower people with a vision of a better world that is economically and socially equitable and where the environment is protected.

We’ve experienced time and time again being outspent on campaigns by industry front groups that have slick messaging and PR campaigns that are meant to confuse and paralyze voters and the democratic process. We’re seeing this right now in California where we’re trying to pass Prop 37 to give citizens the right to know if their food contains genetically modified ingredients. The biotech and processed food industries are pouring more than $35 million dollars into campaigns designed to mislead voters, while the side fighting for Prop 37 has pennies to their dollars to educate voters about the truth.

Even after talking with Ben, I get the impression that their decision comes down to increasing their size and reach. This will mean more advertisers and higher revenues. We’re disappointed that Change.org has apparently decided that profit trumps progressive values. I think Change.org has become confused about what kind of change we want and what democracy really looks like.

This is just one more example of why it is so important to have a strong and vibrant public interest community that does not accept money from corporations and that keeps an appropriate distance because in a for-profit company, the pressure is always to increase earnings for shareholders and investors. As long as this is all above board and everyone understands the relationship, so be it. But it’s unseemly when an organization that claims to be progressive, and has built its organization on working with the progressive community, sells out like this.

Thankfully, there are other progressive groups that aren’t embarrassed about being progressive. Organizations like Care2, Credo Mobile, and Moveon.org who are working in this sphere are committed to the kind of change we want, and won’t compromise in the interest of increasing profits.

Recently there has been a lot of chatter about how our political system is so broken that we should just let business take the lead in creating social change. This is a dangerous sentiment. No matter how well-meaning companies may be, the pressure will always be on increasing market share and making a profit. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be some good companies that maintain their principles and make a fair profit. But, there will always be people who are willing to put aside their principles and original vision to attract investors and to increase profits. We will be watching to see what happens at Change.org and keeping our fingers crossed that they don’t weaken the very movement that they were formed to strengthen.

This post originally appeared on Food & Water Watch’s blog.

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Has Change.org compromised its values for ad revenue? #Benrattray #Mustshare


by  Oct 31, 2012, FIRSTPOST
Change.org has changed. And chances are that you might have missed it.

The social action platform, which is credited with hosting many online campaigns to bring about change, is facing criticism for replacing its ‘values based’ advertising policy for an ‘open’ approach in which advertisements are accepted based on the content of the ad, not the group doing the advertising, says a company document meant for internal circulation, but which got leaked before the company could go public with its re-branding strategy.

In effect, the company has allowed for advertisements from various quarters including corporate houses and political parties.

Screenshot from Change.org

What this means is that even anti-abortion, pro-gun, union-busting advertising and ads by political parties will be allowed on the site, marking a remarkable change in the overall outlook of the company.

Before the policy shift, according to the document, the company’s advertising policy was values based. It accepted clients case by case, one at a time, based on their alignment with its values as a company.

The new advertising policy is akin to those of many leading platforms, open by default to any group that wants to advertise with them. “We are open to organizations that represent all points of view, including those with which we personally (and strongly) disagree,’ reads the document.

As per the company’s original strategy, it was not to allow campaigns by political parties as, “there were a number of risks involved in allowing political ads, in particular around our brand and user experience.”

The decision to allow political ads, is based on the feedback from the team including staff from outside the US, reads the document. “One of the primary ways people get involved in civic participation is through politics and elections, and we don’t want to close door to political actors engaging in change.org- something which they can do through many channels, and which has the potential to increase their responsiveness to citizens overall.”

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, an online campaigner based in Mumbai, who has initiated many petitions on change.org, says that the company’s advertising policy shift demonstrates the potential perils of for-profit companies founded on progressive values, and shows the power of money.

Read more here-http://www.firstpost.com/living/has-change-org-compromised-its-values-for-ad-revenue-509088.html

#India #Koodankulam Letter to Heads of States/Governments


October 31, 2012
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai 627 104
Tirunelveli District
Phone: 98656 83735; 9842154073
The Heads of State/Government
c/o The Embassies (or) High Commissions
New Delhi
India
Your Excellency:
Greetings!
We, several millions of people from the southernmost tip of India, are writing to you to seek your support for the peaceful and nonviolent struggle that we have been waging for almost a quarter century against the Koodankulam nuclear power project (KKNPP). We have intensified our struggle since August 2011 with indefinite hunger strikes, relay fasts, massive marches, siege protests and so on.
This mega nuclear power park is being built with Russian loan and technology against the will and wishes of the local people. The Indian authorities have not conducted any public hearing to seek our permission or consent for this project. They have not shared the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report, the Site Evaluation Report, and the Safety Analysis Report with our people. These reports are made available to the public on the internet in countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. After a long and hard struggle of more than 22 years, we have just obtained a copy of the EIA report which is outdated and so full of inaccuracies and incomplete information.
As the Indian authorities unleash all kinds of atrocities on us such as dangerous cases (like sedition, waging war on the state etc.), imprisonment, curfew and prohibitory orders, intimidation campaigns, home searches, physical attacks on our persons and properties, police atrocities and other such high-handed behavior, we are forced to seek justice from the international community. After all, nuclear energy is a global issue and the effects of it cannot be restricted to any national borders or international boundaries.
The world knows fully well that nuclear power and bomb programs are the two sides of the same coin. And this is the reason why the international community objects to the development of nuclear power by certain countries and calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons altogether. In fact, Nuclearism has become a dangerous ideology that corrupts politics, threatens democracy, imperils freedom and endangers human existence on the Earth. Such a comprehensive humane global look at the world economy, politics and security makes the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) redundant. It is high time we abolished the IAEA that has a mission to, among other things, facilitate “the transfer of such technology and knowledge in a sustainable manner to developing Member States.”
Although the global nuclear industry tries to promote nuclear power as the answer for global warming and climate destruction, the international community knows for sure that poisoned Earth with nuclear waste cannot be the answer for polluted air. Moreover, our fragile planet has been facing natural calamities of all sorts with increasing frequency and added potency. And it would be foolhardy to add to our woes with nuclear threats and dangers.
We have no moral legitimacy whatsoever to produce electricity for our present needs and endanger the futures of our children and the unborn generations with the dangerous booty of nuclear waste, contaminated sites and deadly radiation. It is not only immoral but also illegal to help the profiteering MNCs, corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats make money at the cost of the Earth, the future inhabitants and their common futures.
When terrorism spreads all over the world like an epidemic and nuclear terrorism is fast becoming a dreadful reality, proliferation of nuclear weapons, promotion of nuclear technology and fostering of nuclear material will be suicidal. Science and technology are important tools for our progress and prosperity but when that quest shuns human values, moral principles and political ethos, we suffer from God-complex and dig our own graves.
Scores of countries around the world have chosen not to hoard fissile material, develop or test nuclear weapons, or build nuclear power plants. In fact, many countries that have relied heavily on nuclear power so far have decided to phase out. So let us make a solemn resolve here and now to build a new world that has no Uranium mines, no nuclear reactors, no waste dumps and no nuclear weapons.
Looking forward to your government’s and citizens’ support and solidarity for our anti-Koodankulam struggle and a nuclear-free world campaign, we send you our best personal regards and all peaceful wishes.
Cordially,
S. P. Udayakumar
M. Pushparayan
M. P. Jesuraj
Fr. F. Jayakumar
R.S. Muhilan
Peter Milton

 

 

#India-Displaced farmers watch the rise of Naya Raipur


Naya Raipur, October 30, 2012

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu

  • The Jungle Safari at Naya Raipur which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Raman Singh on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
    The Jungle Safari at Naya Raipur which was inaugurated by Chief Minister Raman Singh on Oct. 19, 2012. Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
  • Chaitram Yadav, a farmer who got less compensation for his irrigated land . Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
    Chaitram Yadav, a farmer who got less compensation for his irrigated land . Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
  • Rakhi village is almost empty now, as most of the villagers are rehabilitated in a nearby colony. Photo Suvojit Bagchi.
    Rakhi village is almost empty now, as most of the villagers are rehabilitated in a nearby colony. Photo Suvojit Bagchi.
  • Mohan Sahu of Khandwa who has lost 20 acres to the Jungle Safari. He says,
    Mohan Sahu of Khandwa who has lost 20 acres to the Jungle Safari. He says,”The jungle safari is affecting at least two villages.” Photo: Suvojit Bagchi.
  • A notcie on a wall in Barauda, one of the three affected villages says land is up for sale in a nearby village
    A notcie on a wall in Barauda, one of the three affected villages says land is up for sale in a nearby village

Inauguration of Naya Raipur, a city planned by the Congress government in 2002, is the biggest event in Chhattisgarh’s history since its inception in 2000. The city is spread out in three layers having a core area with a safari, golf course, government offices, film city, theme park, central business district, hospitals, housing societies, health and education complex and army cantonment spread over almost 20,000 acres.

Approaching the city, in the middle of a vast swathe of barren land, on a grass mound about 15 feet high, stands a platform with figures of two women and a man dancing, presumably to a tribal tune. A peacock with a CFL lamp hanging from its beak is watching them. The platform also hosts a tiger, a bison, a buffalo, and two birds.

The ‘installation’ was designed to mark the inauguration of a ‘jungle safari’ by Chief Minister Raman Singh last week. The safari, along with a botanical garden and a golf course, is among the most touted features of the new capital. Government officials believe that these are ‘mandatory’ for a modern city like Naya Raipur. Villagers who have lost their lands to the city and the safari, however, think otherwise. “It would adversely affect at least two villages, at a time when large scale deforestation is going on unchecked in north Chhattisgarh,” said Mohan Sahu of Khandwa village. Mr Sahu lost 20 acres of farm land to the safari.

An organisation of farmers who have lost their land – Naya Rajdhani Pravabhit Kisan Kalyan Samiti (KKS) – has appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee to cancel his scheduled visit to inaugurate the capital on Nov. 6.

Digambar Sahu (name changed) from an affected village, Baraud, lost 18 acres of farmland and now works for a builder in Naya Raipur. Last Saturday, as he was heading for work, few of the fellow villagers asked him why he was working for someone displacing the farmers. Mr. Sahu replied, “You refused a discussion five years ago. Why point a finger at me now?”

He explained that he and other the farmers were paid approximately Rs 6 lakh to Rs 12 lakh per acre as compensation between 2006 and 2012. “That is Rs13 to Rs 22 for each square feet of land,” he pointed out whereas real estate companies are now charging the consumers Rs 3000 per square feet of finished housing.

The government has banned sale of land in 27 villages of Naya Raipur since 2005. Farm land could only be sold to a government body, Naya Raipur Development Authority (NRDA). “We lost our livelihood and are paid Rs 15 per square feet. On the other hand, NRDA sold our land to the builders who are selling it at an astronomical price to consumers,” says Kamta Rathre, the secretary of KKS.

However, NRDA data suggests that till September this year more than 12,000 acres of land has been acquired mostly through ‘mutual consent.’ “We were threatened with confiscation of our land under the Land Act of 1894. Is that ‘mutual consent,”’ asked Geeta Yadav, sarpanch of Khandwa.

The CEO of NRDA, S S Bajaj denying the allegation, told The Hindu that the Government is not ‘making any profit’. “We gave an offer to the farmers at the beginning to get involved as partners. They refused and opted for compensation. In fact, cost of developing a city is much more than its existing land price. The government is incurring all costs and paid the farmers more than the market price.” The ‘Land Use Plan’ of Naya Raipur illustrates that at least 15-20 % of the inner core of the city will be up for sale for commercial activities.

There are other anomalies which are leading the farmers to believe that they have had a bad deal. Seventy-year-old Chaitram Yadav, whose land records show that he was cultivating an irrigated patch, was paid a lower compensation that stipulated for ‘non irrigated’ land. Several farmers complained about such anomalies, while Mr. Bajaj said these are ‘minor mistakes’ by local land revenue officers.

The Chairman of NRDA, N Baijendra Kumar, feels the land has been acquired ‘peacefully’. “We got good cooperation form the farmers. There is trivial resistance from few individuals and we hope to resolve it,” he said. Mr. Kumar insisted that the rehabilitation deal given to the farmers is ‘one of the best in the country’.

Meanwhile deep inside the villages, the peasant families are having sleepless nights. The local intelligence is routinely calling the peasant leaders to check their whereabouts. “I think we all will be picked up soon,” said a seemingly exhausted Kamta Rathre after a hard day’s campaign in the villages. The peasants have decided not to celebrate the inauguration of the new capital and will switch off their lights for a week to register their protest.

 

#India #Punjab #IndiraGandhi -Remembering A Dark Moment Of Our History


 

31 Oct 2012 | GOVERNANCE | By VBRAWAT, Halabol Blog

It was early morning of 31st October that Indira Gandhi was preparing herself for an interview to a foreign TV channel at her residence at Safdarjang Road and walking towards the office at Akbar Road.  As soon as she reached the gates of her house, the guards at duty, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh fired at her. Mrs Gandhi was rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. The news of attempt on prime minister’s life spread like wild fire but unfortunately India under the strict government information control was just getting information through All India Radio and Doordarshan that Mrs Gandhi was attacked and doctors at AIIMS were trying to save her life.

There was no information and after some time people started spreading rumors. The BBC had declared that she was dead and this information had already been broadcasted by all the international radio stations but back home Doordarshan and Akashwani were just playing ‘bhakti sangeet’ and melancholy music.

The justification was that no senior politician was in the the capital. President Jail Singh was on an official visit to South Korea, while Rajiv Gandhi was campaigning in West Bengal. Vice Presidents and other senior leaders too were out of Delhi and hence no one was there to guide the government – resulting in total chaos that led to rumors in the street resulting in anti-Sikh violence. By the evening, the 6 pm news on the radio and TV officially announced that Mrs Indira Gandhi died in a terrorist attack at her residence around 9 am. By that time, the president and other senior leaders were back to Delhi.

In the late evening, President Jail Singh swore in Rajiv Gandhi the new prime minister of India along with a few other ministers. The fact is that there was no parliamentary board meeting that time but president Jail Singh fulfilled his loyalty to late Indira Gandhi by asking Rajiv to form the government. The anti-Sikh sentiments were running high during that period and slowly the country saw the worst ever governance at the Centre.

While Radio and TV were showing Indira Gandhi’s dead body over and over again, there was no constraint on the government not to broadcast the anti-Sikh sloganeering being raised by Congress workers. Jab Tak Suraj Chand Rahega, Indira Tera Naam Rahega… Khoon Ka Badla Khoon Se Lenge’, were some of the provocative slogans on the air. The local political leaders of the congress party had already started whipping up passions and Sikh establishments and business institutions were targeted. By the evening the Sikhs became an alien in this country. The country was moaning for Indira Gandhi but the Hindus had decided to teach the Sikhs a lesson for their act. Reasoning was lost in the din of noise and as the governance remained completely lost; the people were allowed to die on the street by the hooligans.

Innocent lives were lost. Children became orphans; women became widows and parents saw their children getting burnt in front of them. This was the scene at the street at India’s capital. Shamelessly, the government had no time and it looked like that it was instigating the crowd to act. There was no governance for the next three-four days. Aakashwani and Doordarshan were dutifully showing the crowd and their anti-Sikh chanting.

This continued till the cremation of Indira Gandhi took place in which a large number of international leaders too participated. The only thing was that there were not many Sikhs in the entire programme except for President Jail Singh and Congress leader Buta Singh. It is ironical how Sikhs were kept out and completely isolated for so many days in the Indian political establishment.

Rajiv spoke to the nation that ‘Indira was not just my mother but the mother of nation’. He spoke of everything except the violence on the street. The sarkari news agencies never bothered to inform people about the violence on the street. “The situation is tense but under control”, was a trademark statement. It was not just Delhi – the anti-Sikh violence took place everywhere with police and administration allowing things to happen.

Why innocent Sikhs should be punished by criminal mobs because a prime minister was assassinated by people who happened to be Sikhs. There was no sane voice who could tell the nation that entire community couldn’t be held for the crime of two individuals. There was no one in the government who could speak that the first thing for the new government to do was to restore law and order. Even when army was required, it looked, it was delayed deliberately. And at the end of the three days, India had debris of human masses – killed by the political people for their political purposes.

And as it happened, justifications were ready from the criminals. “The Sikhs need to be taught a lesson,” they said. They were celebrating and distributing sweets, when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was shot, said the others. “If we do not teach them a lesson, they will destroy India,” said many. And the pattern was similar to what the forces of Hindutva do. The fact is that they too participated in this whole exercise.

It needs to be understood that Indira Gandhi became a ‘Hindu’ leader when she was shot by her Sikh security guard and Rajiv became the aspiration of Hindus who were being threatened by the Sikhs. He was a son, an obedient one, who needed to be supported and it was that reason that during the subsequent general elections, the country gave a huge mandate to the Congress Party. It was an election which was built up on a hate campaign against a community and if I dare say a completely communally mandated one at that. The fact was that the Congress had realized the popular sentiments and communalized atmosphere in the country, and they felt it was the right time for them to strengthen that further and hence they promoted anti-Sikh sentiments and violence in different parts of the country.

The victims of the communal violence instigated by the political goons of the Congress Party have not yet got justice. Court proceedings are delayed while the criminals roam freely in Delhi. Some of them were awarded as key ministries in the subsequent cabinets as well as in the party. The scars of those pogroms are still in the hearts of the people because of the deliberate delays and attempts to save the criminals by the power elite of the country.

In fact, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi tried to justify anti-Sikh violence by, “Jab Ek Bada Ped Girta Hai Toh Aas-Paas Ki Dharti Hilti Hi Hai” [When a huge tree falls, it’s natural that the surrounding earth shakes]. It was not a speech of a seasoned political leader but a politician who was playing politics with the dead bodies. And a massive mandate does not justify the killing and violence. The Congress’s game was replicated by the BJP in Gujarat and the victims belonged to another minority this time.

It has to be understood that in the schemes of things of our major political parties, the value of a majority community is important and for that they are ready to dump the minority voices and their rights. Hence, Rajiv Gandhi and his Congress did not care for the Sikhs when the matter was communalized and the Hindus felt that the Congress needed to be strengthened. In the similar case of Gujarat, Modi sidetracked all the criticism of justice to Muslims and went on his tirade against them.

A similar pattern is being witnessed now in Haryana when no party is ready to take on the Khaps for their anti-constitutional statements and violence against Dalits. It effectively shows that the Indian state is primarily a Brahminical state that just works on the sentiments of the so called upper caste Hindus and only stereotypes the minorities. The difference between an act of violence by an individual is actually painted as the voice of the community and then punishment is given by the ‘people’ and is justified by the power elite as the sentiments of the ‘majority’.

It is not for nothing that when we see the pattern we find strange similarities of violence against minorities in Delhi and Gujarat. One shudders to think what would have happened if Gandhi was killed not by Nathuram Godse, a Brahmin but by some Muslim or Dalits?  But a Brahmin killing Gandhi did not result in violence against them in the country. In fact, there was justification of their theory of killing Gandhi.

India cannot become a truly democratic society if she fails to protect the people who do not practise the same religion or values as the power elite do. The rule of law must be applied in all circumstances and political deaths should not be used as hate propaganda against one community to get the political benefit for the other. The threat of communalism looms large on the country and can take it back to primitive age of horror and terror. It is time that Indians rise above their narrow communal mindset and behave as citizens of the country. All the citizens of the country need protection and failure to protect them by officials needs to be punished severely including formation of special courts for their trials.

The criminals of Delhi’s anti-Sikh riots must be punished at the earliest and all those innocents who lost their near and dear ones need to be rehabilitated and protected so that they continue to have faith in the constitution of the country and their hopes are not totally belied in the politicization of a crime.

 

 

 

#India-Keonjhar tribals up in arms over #mining plans in Khandadhar #Vedanta #Posco


TNN | Oct 30, 2012

KEONJHAR: Fear of displacement stalks tribals inhabiting Banspal block of Keonjhar district abutting the beautiful Khandadhar waterfall with hundreds of companies, including South Korean steel behemoth Posco, applying for lease to mine the Khandadhar hill. A Niyamgiri-type agitation (against Vedanta in Lanjigarh) is already on in the area.

Sources said only two mines, owned by Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC), are operating in Malangtoli region near the hill as of now. Posco has applied for mining lease (ML) over an area close to the waterfall. The hill is about 65 km from Keonjhar. On the opposite side of the hill there is another waterfall by the same name in Banei sub-division of Sundergarh district, where too tribals are protesting against the proposed mining activities.

According to the information obtained from mining department through an RTI query, about 219 prospecting licence (PL) applications are pending with it. Companies and individuals have applied for lease over 1,31,406.8881 hectare of land in 52 villages. Similarly, about 237 ML applications on 1,43,895.2357 hectare are pending with the department. According to the department, no ML has been granted to any company as yet. “Only eight companies have been granted PL in the vicinity of Khandadhar hill,” said Keonjhar mining officer D K Parija.

Surrounded by dense forests, the area is known as the ‘rice bowl’ of tribals, mostly Bhuyans, as they depend on it for their livelihood. They have united under the banners of Khandadhara Surakshya Mancha and Lok Sangathan and have been fighting to save the forest and their livelihood.

“We depend on the forest for our livelihood for over six months a year. Medicinal plants, streams, wildlife, a temple and the beautiful waterfall will be destroyed if mining is allowed here,” said Radhakant Dehury, a Bhuyan tribal of Kadakala area. Mining will not only lead to heavy pollution but also damage the Shiva temple, worshipped by thousands of locals, he said.

 

ECHR -Judgment on teenage pregnancy due to #Rape and denial of #abortion #Vaw


European Court of Human Rights: Judgment in the case P. and S. v. Poland announced today

 

Oct 31, 2012

European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment today in the case P. and S. v. Poland. Federation for Women and Family Planning and its lawyers have been involved in the case from the very beginning.

It is a case of a teenage girl who was pregnant as a result of rape. Despite the fact that there was a relevant document issued by the prosecutor, she had been denied legal abortion in several hospitals. As a result she had to undergo the procedure in a hospital located 500 kilometers from her place of residence. Besides that, her right to confidentiality of medical information was breached, which resulted in severe harassment by pro-life and Catholic activists. The girl was also separated from her mother and placed in a juvenile shelter.

The Court determined violations of Article 8, (right to respect for private and family life) as regards the determination of access to lawful abortion in respect of both applicants (by six votes to one) and as regards the disclosure of the applicants’ personal data (unanimously);  Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) in respect of P., and a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of P.

The court held that Poland was to pay P. 30,000 euros (EUR) and S. EUR 15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 16,000 to both applicants in respect of costs and expenses.

Read the judgment in full here: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/fra-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4140612-4882633

 

#India- Khap panchayats of Haryana demand changes in Hindu marriage Act #WTFnews #Vaw


Deepender Deswal, TNN Oct 29, 2012,
(Khap panchayats of Haryana…)

ROHTAK: The notorious khap panchayats of Haryana on Sunday demanded a legal ban on same-gotra and same-village marriages, saying such a measure could solve the problem of rising crime against women.

Leaders of 30 khap panchayats who met in Rohtak passed a resolution calling for an amendment in the Hindu Marriage Act to bring the ban on such marriages into effect.

The leaders vowed to take up this demand at the highest level and said they would visit Delhi next month for submitting their representations to the President, Prime Minister and the Union law minister.

The meeting, held at the Chhotu Ram Dharamshala, was hosted by Rohtak’s Chorasi khap and presided over by its leader, Hardeep Ahlawat.

Terming modern culture as “obscene”, the leaders said the state’s social fabric had been vitiated because people were “blindly following so-called modernization which is the root cause of crime against women and incidents of rape”.

“The minds of the younger generation have been corrupted due to invasion of obscene and vulgar culture. Our youngsters have forgotten the rich values and customs of our society,” said Baljit Malik of Gathwala khap.

Addressing the meeting, Hardeep Ahlawat demanded a change in the law to ban matrimonial ties between couples from same gotras and same villages — traditionally viewed as brothers and sisters.

“A legal ban on such marriages would also help curb the menace of honour killings and female feticide which has brought a bad name to Haryanvi society,” said Om Prakash Dhankar, a khap leader.

Other leaders argued that there would not be any honour killings or female foeticide if same-gotra marriages were banned. “People kill their daughters out of the fear that one day they might elope with men of the same gotra,” said Dhankar.

“A delegation of khap panchayat would visit Delhi on November 5 with copies of our memorandum to be handed over to India’s top leaders. We would also call on the national commission for women the same day and asked it to raise the demand,” he added.

The khap leaders distanced themselves from a recent statement of a khap mahapanchayat spokesman who had sought lowering of the marriageable age of girls from 18 to 16 years to avoid rapes. The leaders said such statements had been spoiling the image of khap panchayats.

“We strongly differ with such people. We have decided to launch social awareness campaign against extravagant marriages, dowry etc in society,” he said.

 

#India- Haryana khap blames wedding ceremonies at night for road mishaps


Deepender Deswal, TNN Oct 28, 2012, 09.46PM IST

ROHTAK: Haryana khap panchayat has urged the Haryana government to ban wedding ceremonies at night while arguing that drunken driving by the youths who attend marriage parties led to road accidents and had resulted in loss of several lives.

Om Prakash Dhankar, convener of the meeting informed that a khap leader raised the issue in the meeting in Rohtak on Saturday which was supported by the khap panchayat. “The night marriages which was earlier an urban phenomenon are also getting popular in rural areas.

The youngsters participating in baraats (marriages parties) got drunk during attending the ceremonies which had been resulting in road mishaps at night. Large number of deaths have occurred due to such accidents in past”, he said adding that all the khap representatives supported the proposal and decided to urge the Haryana chief minister to ban wedding ceremonies at night.

He informed that the khap panchayat representatives would also visit villages in their respective areas to convince people not to organise marriages at night so that rising rates of road accident could be brought down which is an obvious fallout of drunken driving

 

Half of #Narendra Modi’s Twitter followers are fake, claims social media firm


 Economic Times 

An internet tool, Status People, launched by a group of engineers in London, says Modi’s account has 46% fake and 41% inactive users.

AHMEDABAD: Everyone likes followers. On Wednesday, when chief minister Narendra Modi‘sTwitter account touched one million followers, he tweeted, “A million followers! These are not mere numbers but it signifies your love and affection. Heartfelt thanks to you all”.

However, all the love and affection Modi is overwhelmed with might not be all genuine. Modi, who is often accused by Congress leaders of misleading people with numbers, has around 50 per cent of his Twitter followers as fake.

According to an internet tool, Status People, launched by a group of engineers in London, Modi’s account has 46 per cent fake and 41 per cent inactive users.

The website through an algorithm measures false and inactive followers of a Twitter user.

Modi started using Twitter in 2009 and in 2010, had one lakh followers. About a year ago, in November 2011, he had four lakh followers. But his following on Twitter increased exponentially in the last few months.

Creators of the internet tool, launched to expose fake users of personalities on Twitter, say that almost all Twitter accounts have a small percentage of false followers, partly because, unlike Facebook, any user can follow another. However, they say that worldwide personalities and brands get fake following to increase their importance among peers.

Congress leaders Arjun Modhwadia and Shaktisinh Gohil too have 5 per cent and 14 per cent fake followers, respectively.

“A celebrity’s or politician’s popularity is measured with their followers on social networking sites which might lure many to get fake followers. Like other forms of corruption, activists should also expose such fake followers because this misleads public,” said communication expert Alyque Padamsee.

While these politicians may not have paid for getting fake followers, there are companies on web who can offer services to get fake followers.

Abhijit Sonagara, director of a city-based cyber solutions company, says, “Getting fake followers has become common. Several companies offer such service for 10 paise to 50 paise per fake follower. Many times it’s the celebrities themselves or their PR managers who indulge in such activities.”

BJP spokesperson, however, said that it’s Modi’s development agenda which is being endorsed across the world and that has got the large following.