#India-Husband shaves off woman’s head as punishment for not giving more dowry #Vaw #wtfnews


TNN | Dec 3, 2012, 05.41 AM IST, Mangalore

MADIKERI: A man has allegedly shaved the head of his wife and sent her back to her native place as a punishment for not giving more dowry at Abburukatte extension in Somwarpet.

The accused Shiva, an auto driver at Kusubur, allegedly shaved the head of his wife Asha, a native of Thanneeruhalla and threatened to kill her if she informs police.

A hapless Asha, however, approached Somwarpet police. A case has been registered against four accused, including Asha’s mother-in-lawAshaand Shiva, who got married 13 years ago, have two children. According to a complaint filed by Asha, Shiva, his mother Lakshmi, brother-in law Raju and his wife Shanthi used to harass her demanding more dowry despite giving 80 grams of gold during marriage.

After Asha’s parents, who are labourers, said they could not give more money, on November 29, Shiva accused her of having illegal affair and took Asha and her mother Leelavathi to a nearby temple. After shaving off her head, he forcibly took her ornaments and sent her back to her native village.

Asha is now undergoing treatment at a hospital.

sourec- maps4aid.com

 

60th Anniversary of Ameen Sayani’s -Binaca Geet Mala #Nostalgia


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Today is the 60th anniversary of the day  Geet Mala was first broadcast on Dec 3, 1952, Ameen Sayani. Sayani ran the programme to record-smashing success for nearly 45 years, earning a place among the world’s top broadcasters.

The show was first called “BINACA GEETMALA”, then “CIBACA GEETMALA” and, thereafter, “COLGATE-CIBACA GEETMALA”. It commenced over the Commercial Hindi Service of RADIO CEYLON towards the end of 1952 and shifted to All-India Radio’s VIVIDH BHARATI network in 1989.

The initial half-hour “Geetmala” began as an experimental weekly jackpot show based on a random selection of songs. It dropped into Ameen’s lap only because other leading broadcasters declined it. For all of Rs. 25 a week, he was required to select the songs, produce, script and compere the programme, and also process the mail.

The mail-response competition required every letter to be checked, and hardly 40-50 letters were expected. The first episode brought 9,000 !Within a year, that number touched 60,000 per week. The show, and the station, both began ruling the Asian airwaves – but Ameen was fast becoming a nervous wreck managing the mail response with a mini-group of volunteers! Fortunately, the competition was shelved in 1954, and was replaced by a 1-hour countdown hit-parade.

The new format became a rage in no time, drawing an estimated nine to twelve crore (90 to 120 million) listeners from all over Asia, and even from East Africa, with its powerful Short Wave sweep. “That was the golden period of film music”, Ameen reminisces. “The songs were not only fabulous, but also helped in integrating our huge, intricately multi-lingual nation. Everyone loved Hindi film songs, and everyone was latched onto Geetmala and Radio Ceylon – particularly because the gigantic network of All-India Radio had suddenly decided to totally ban Hindi film music in the early fifties!”

 

 

In Jharkhand, it’s the shame old coal story


DNA investigation: In Jharkhand, it’s the shame old coal story

Published: Monday, Dec 3, 2012, 10:00 IST
By Sandeep Pai | Place: Bokaro | Agency: DNA

Close on the heels of allegations that coal block allottees in Jharkhand used coal in plants outside the state, the BJP-led government is in for more embarrassment. A recent report by the local administration confirmed that Electrosteel Castings Ltd (ECL), which was allotted the Parbatpur coal block in Jharkhand, has illegally occupied more than 900 acres of government land in and around the coal block and the company’s proposed steel plant.
According to the report submitted by the deputy commissioner of Bokaro to the Jharkhand government, ECL has encroached upon 942 acres of land belonging to the state and the forest department. Of this, 477 acres are forest land located in two blocks of Chas and Chandankyari in Bokaro district.

Besides, 112 plots or parts of land belonging to villagers from Chandankyari, measuring between 0.03 acres and 3.94 acres, have allegedly been illegally occupied by the company. DNA is in possession of this list of usurped plots, which was prepared by the circle officer, Chandankyari block.

Another report, by the circle officer of the Chas block, states that in various plots, the company has levelled land of people living within the block and wrested control of it.
The two circle officers have even sent numerous notices to the company ordering that the land be returned to the villagers. Both the reports were prepared in November last year.
Despite villagers and activists’ protests against the illegal occupation of their land, the company has reneged on its promise of providing employment to those affected; a rehabilitation policy is yet to be implemented.

As per the company’s memorandum of understanding with the Jharkhand government, ECL was to chalk out and implement a resettlement policy that was superior to the state’s available schemes. However, a report by the state zilla parishad and panchayati raj committee presented on March 31 this year said, “During the course of inquiry, the committee found that neither has the company formed its own rehabilitation and resettlement policy which is better than the government’s policy nor has it implemented the resettlement policy of the state government.”

The report also noted that the company purchased land from all villagers at the same rate, by clubbing all of the plots under one category. However, there are five types of land and the rates should have been different, argued activists. The company’s intention, said the report, may have have been to save money.

DNA has a list of all plots purchased by ECL, all sold for Rs2,500 per unit to ECL by villagers. “The plots have been bought from the year 2004 to 2008. How can the rates be the same? The company has saved millions by buying land at the same rate and cheated the people,” said Dilip Tiwari, president of the Bokaro district Marxist Coordination Committee who has written numerous letters to authorities demanding higher compensation.

Vinod Singh, MLA and chairman of the committee, told DNA that there are many irregularities in the rehabilitation process.“Several villagers complained about not being provided employment as promised and several others of land being illegally taken away from them.”

His report mentions that during the inquiry, the company could not ascertain anything about how many people would be provided employment.

However, Arun Garodia, senior deputy general manager of ECL, denied that there is any problem with the relief and rehabilitation component of either the Parbatpur coal block or the proposed steel plant. Regarding the accusations of illegal occupation of land, Garodia said the state forest department had alleged that the company encroached “on or about 150 acres of forestland” for setting up the proposed steel plant. “In this regard, the state forest department filed 28 criminal cases and 10 BPLE (Bihar Public Land Encroachment)  Act cases against the company and its officials. The Jharkhand high court has quashed each and every case against the company. As such, there is no issue of encroachment upon  forestland or government land,” Garodia said.

 

 

The Death Lottery- case against #deathpenalty


The Death Lottery

The case against capital punishment
BY Jatin Gandhi , Open Magazine
The Supreme Court admitted on three different occasions, between 2009 and 2011, that it had erred in applying the ‘rarest of the rare’ doctrine laid down by its five-judge bench in 1980

The Supreme Court admitted on three different occasions, between 2009 and 2011, that it had erred in applying the ‘rarest of the rare’ doctrine laid down by its five-judge bench in 1980

I can recall the punishment of detention. I can make reparation to the man upon whom I inflict corporal punishment. But once a man is killed, the punishment is beyond recall or reparation. God alone can take life, because He alone gives it’

MK Gandhi in Young India, October 1925

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Long before Mohammed Ajmal Kasab went to the gallows four years after his slaughter of scores of people in Mumbai, a villager from Banswara in Rajasthan named Ram Chander alias Ravji was hanged after an even faster trial. It was on 4 May 1996. He had been charged with the murder of his pregnant wife and three children on the night of 6 May 1993. In a fit of anger, not only did he hack his family to death, he also attacked his mother. A lower court sentenced him to death, the state’s high court upheld his sentence, the Supreme Court endorsed it, and the President of India at the time, Shankar Dayal Sharma, dismissed his mercy petition in less than a week (on 19 March 1996).

Ravji’s case could have gone down in history as a case that achieved closure in record time. Yet, it finds place in the history of Indian jurisprudence for an altogether different reason: for miscarriage of justice, in the opinion of a higher bench of the Supreme Court. The court had, in handing out its death sentence to Ravji, deviated from the guiding principles of capital punishment laid down by a Constitution bench in 1980.

What makes matters worse is that between 1996 and 2009, there were other cases in which the Ravji case was cited as a precedent for awarding death sentences. As a result, by 2009, when the Supreme Court admitted an error of judgment in that case, 13 people so sentenced were awaiting execution, and two had already been put to death: Surja Ram in 1997, and of course, Ravji himself the previous year. Despite the apex court’s admission of an error so profoundly grave, the other death sentences have not been overturned.

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Kasab’s execution may have attracted popular attention to a debate on the death penalty in India, but within legal circles, the debate had never died. In July, well before Kasab was secretly executed in Pune’s Yerawada Jail on the morning of 21 November, 14 eminent jurists, including former judges and chief justices, wrote to the President of India urging him to use his powers under Article 72 (to grant pardons, commute sentences, etcetera) of the Constitution to prevent miscarriage of justice in several capital punishment cases. These letters of appeal, similar in nature and content, were prompted by the apex court’s admission—on three different occasions between 2009 and 2011—that it had erred in applying the ‘rarest of the rare’ doctrine laid down by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court in 1980.

Drawing President Pranab Mukherjee’s attention to the issue, the jurists asked for the sentences of the above mentioned 13 placed on death row between 1996 and 2009 to be commuted. ‘None of these cases involve crimes against the State. Further, the concerns raised in this statement have nothing to do with the larger debate about the desirability of retaining [the] death penalty. Rather, they pertain to the administration of the death penalty in a conscientious, fair and just manner,’ wrote retired Delhi High Court Chief Justice AP Shah, ‘Executions of persons wrongly sentenced to death will severely undermine the credibility of the criminal justice system. This matter goes to the very heart of our Constitution because it involves the taking of lives by the state on the basis of judgments admitted to be erroneous by the Supreme Court.’

“The Supreme Court could have reopened those cases in an exercise of its discretionary power under Article 142 of the Constitution and taken corrective measures to deliver complete justice to the prisoners,” says Justice Shah, whose views on the matter are in consonance with other letter writers, among them Justices PB Sawant, BA Khan, Bilal Nazki, PK Misra, SN Bhargava, BH Marlapalle, Prabha Sridevan, BG Kolse-Patil, Hosbet Suresh, KP Sivasubramaniam, PC Jain, Ranvir Sahai Verma and Panachand Jain.

In order to understand the error that the retired judges refer to, one needs go back to 1980. The Supreme Court addressed the issue of the constitutionality of the death penalty for the first time in 1973, in theJagmohan Singh vs State of UP case. The Court ruled that the death penalty was constitutionally permissible if imposed after a fair trial in accordance with a ‘procedure established by law.’ In 1973, India’s Parliament enacted the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), laying down that in any judgment awarding a death sentence, the court must state specific reasons for choosing that penalty so as to limit its use to special circumstances. This reversed the earlier practice and capital punishment became the exception instead of the norm, as it was under the CrPC enacted by the British.

It was seven years later, in 1980, while adjudicating on the matter in the case of Bachan Singh vs Punjab, that the five-member constitution bench laid down its set of guiding principles on the death penalty: mainly, that it be applied only in ‘rarest of the rare cases’, but also that sufficient weightage be given to mitigating circumstances (pertaining to the criminal) along with aggravating circumstances (relating to the crime). Bachan Singh, who had been charged with the murder of three people after he had already served a life term in another case, had been sentenced to death this time round by a lower court.

In the Ravji case, however, while confirming the death sentence, a bench of two judges of the Supreme Court explicitly held, ‘It is the nature and gravity of the crime, but not the criminal, which are germane for consideration of appropriate punishment in a criminal trial.’ In doing so, the court held that the circumstances relating to thecriminal are irrelevant and focused exclusively on the circumstances relating to the crime. This aspect of the decision in the Ravji case was in direct conflict with the Bachan Singh ruling that had come from a higher bench. However, on several occasions, the Supreme Court has invoked the Ravji precedent while awarding a death sentence. It was only in 2009, while hearing Santosh Kumar Bariyar vs State of Maharashtra, that the court noticed the conflict between Ravji andBachan Singh.

The court observed: ‘The rarest of rare dictum serves as a guideline in enforcing Section 354(3) and entrenches the policy that life imprisonment is the rule and death punishment is an exception. It is a settled law of interpretation that exceptions are to be construed narrowly. That being the case, the rarest of rare dictum places an extraordinary burden on the court, in case it selects death punishment as the favoured penalty, to carry out an objective assessment of facts to satisfy the exceptions ingrained in the rarest of rare dictum. The background analysis leading to the conclusion that the case belongs to the rarest of rare category must conform to [the] highest standards of judicial rigour and thoroughness as the norm under analysis is an exceptionally narrow exception.’ It was while ruling on this matter that the court admitted the error: ‘We are not oblivious that the Ravjicase has been followed in at least six decisions of this Court in which death punishment has been awarded in [the] last nine years, but, in our opinion, it was rendered per incuriam (ignored the statute of law).’

The SC noted six other cases where Ravji was followed and held that these decisions were also wrongly decided: ‘Shivaji vs State of Maharashtra, Mohan Anna Chavan vs State of Maharashtra, Bantu vs State of UP, Surja Ram vs State of Rajasthan, Dayanidhi Bisoi vs State of Orissa and State of UP vs Sattan are decisions where Ravji has been followed. It does not appear that this Court has considered any mitigating circumstance or a circumstance relating to [the] criminal at the sentencing phase in most of these cases. It is apparent that Ravjihas not only been considered but also relied upon as an authority on the point that in heinous crimes, circumstances relating to [the] criminal are not pertinent.’

Following Bariyar’s case in 2009, two other judgments of the court (Dilip Tiwari vs State of Maharashtra and Rajesh Kumar vs State) from 2010 and 2011 referred to that deviation from the principles laid down in 1980.

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The matter does not end with the miscarriage of justice in those seven cases alone. In cases where capital punishment is awarded, choosing what is ‘rarest of the rare’ imposes a moral burden on the court because of its subjectivity. “There is bound to be inconsistency in applying the dictum,” says Justice AP Shah, “The inconsistency is inherent because the application is subjective. The SC’s attempt to regulate capital punishment has been unsuccessful on its own terms.”

Delivering the Naroda Patiya judgment, the special judge acknowledged that former Gujarat minister Maya Kodnani was guilty of leading a mob against a group of people of her constituency who she was supposed to protect. In all, 97 persons were killed. It can be argued that Kodnani was a sustained threat to society and the victims of the massacre were both innocent and helpless. Yet, the court chose to sentence her to prison for life. In a more recent case, a Hoshiarpur sessions court sentenced 35-year-old Jasvir Singh to death on 18 September on charges of killing his children and trying to kill his wife by setting his house on fire. The alleged crime was committed on 27 January this year, the case reached the sessions court on 30 July, and the death sentence was delivered after six hearings. The court relied on the sole witness, the man’s wife, in deciding the case and held that it fell under the category of ‘rarest of the rare’. The court’s order reads: ‘The convict being 35 years of age could well pre-conceive or understand the consequences of his misdeed. The convict being of such age in no manner could be described to be immature or that he could not distinguish between wrong or right before the moment. So in the considered opinion of the court it is a rarest of rare case. If [a] sentence lesser than capital punishment or death sentence is awarded, after serving out the same, he will come out of prison and may again turn to be a menace to society and he will remain a continuing threat to society. The attack by him was cold blooded and hence calls for deterrent punishment for this morality reprehensible or abominable crime. So it being a rarest of rare case only, death sentence will meets the ends of justice as it will also be an eye opener to others not to indulge in akin activities. I, therefore, sentence Jasvir Singh convict to Death for offence under Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and direct that he be HANGED BY THE NECK TILL HE IS DEAD.’

Singh’s lawyer Anil Walia says he will appeal against the verdict. “The court overlooked the fact that the accused himself had suffered 20 per cent burns in the fire and that his wife, with whom he had strained relations, was the only eyewitness. It is her version that has been solely relied upon.”

More recently, on 22 November, the Delhi High Court admonished the Delhi Police for shoddy investigation in the Lajpat Nagar blast case of 1996, while acquitting two accused who had been awarded death sentences by a lower court. The acquittal came after the two had already spent 13 years in jail. The two-judge bench pulled up the police for its ‘casualness and slipshod approach’ in investigating the case. (See accompanying story, ‘Geelani’s Litany’)

“The use of the death penalty in India is riddled with fatal flaws,” says Shailesh Rai, senior researcher at Amnesty International India, “Research conducted by Amnesty and the People’s Union for Civil Liberties has found evidence in Supreme Court judgments of abuse of law and procedure and of arbitrariness and inconsistency in the investigation, trial, sentencing and appeal stages in death penalty cases.”

And it is not just rights vigil groups that have found arbitrary conduct in these matters. In a judgment as recent as last week (Sangeet vs Haryana), the SC has gone even further to admit that sentencing had become a ‘judge-centric exercise’. The court observed: ‘It appears to us that even though Bachan Singh intended ‘principled sentencing’, sentencing has now really become judge-centric as highlighted inSwamy Shraddananda and Bariyar. This aspect of the sentencing policy in Phase II as introduced by the Constitution Bench in Bachan Singh seems to have been lost in transition…. Given these conclusions, we are of the opinion that in cases such as the present, there is considerable uncertainty on the punishment to be awarded in capital offences—whether it should be life imprisonment or death sentence. In our opinion, due to this uncertainty, awarding a sentence of life imprisonment in cases such as the present is not unquestionably foreclosed.’

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The government of India appears to be in no mood to do away with the death penalty anytime soon. Though a majority of countries in the world have abolished capital punishment, India is among the 39 that recently opposed a United Nations resolution to that effect. Many argue that Indian society is not yet ready for doing away with hanging.

From a victim’s perspective, awarding death to the perpetrator of a heinous crime might seem just. But the Indian justice system is designed in principle to be reformative and not retributive. In practice, though, it lies somewhere in the middle. There is also the argument that, acting in criminal matters, the State represents the conscience of society as a whole. In the opinion of Former Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, “Death penalty in India is still a relevant punishment for the reason that there are certain kinds of crime which are so extreme and that are so abhorrent to the judicial conscience of civil society that death alone would be the just punishment.” However, he cautions that such a sentence must be awarded only if “no other punishment can be awarded”.

Yet, inordinate delays in executing those who are already on death row leads to a kind of double jeopardy, their trauma worsened by an almost unbearable uncertainty, which itself is an argument against capital punishment. The last man to be executed in India before Kasab was Dhananjay Chatterjee, a security guard accused of rape and murder, who was hanged in 2004. He spent 13 years in prison before he was hanged.

Earlier this year, three separate but similar cases were filed by death row convicts. In the cases of Mahendra Nath Das, Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar and Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins, their mercy petitions were pending with the President for more than a decade each. After the rejection of their pleas, the accused petitioned the SC for justice on account of an ‘unexplained delay’.

There is also the case of Sonia Punia. In February 2009, five years after she was sentenced to death on charges of having murdered eight members of her family, Punia wrote to the President to dismiss her mercy petition and execute her. ‘I don’t have any means to live and want to die once rather than dying with each passing minute,’ she wrote. Nearly four years later, she awaits death in Ambala Jail. But in cases like Ravji, where the court has admitted its error, it is too late to revoke the sentence.

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With additional reporting from Parminder Singh Bariana in Hoshiarpur

#Vedanta to stick to December 5 deadline for closure of refinery


Sadananda Mohapatra / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar Dec 03, 2012, 00:07 IST, Business Standard

 

Vednata Aluminium Ltd (VAL), which had given a three-month advance notice to the Odisha government for closure of its Lanjigarh alumina refinery from December 5 citing unavailability of bauxite, may not relent on its decision as there is still no solution to the raw material problems.

Though the company top including group chairman Anil Agrawal and VAL MD SK Rungta called on the state chief minister and chief secretary seeking alternate arrangement for supply of bauxite to the plant, there has been no progress in this regard making the shutdown of the plant by the given deadline an inevitable outcome.

 

“In the recent meeting between the state government and Vedanta officials, the government could not come out with a solution to arrange bauxite for the Lanjigarh refinery. The company has no other alternative but to shut down the plant from December 5 onwards,” a company official told Business Standard.

 

In its September 5 notice to the state labour commissioner and industries department, the company had said running the plant was no longer sustainable “unless the Odisha government finds a solution for bauxite supply”.

The company had closed the one million tonne per annum alumina refinery temporarily in October after all its bauxite stocks exhausted. It had reopened the refinery a week after ensuring bauxite supplies of about 40,000 tonnes from Bharat Aluminum Company’s (Balco) Kawardah mines in Chhattisgarh and about 92,000 tonne from Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation (GMDC).“There are no more stocks as of now nor do we have any hope to get raw material from anywhere else to run the plant smoothly,” said the company official.

VAL has invested Rs 5,000 crore in the Lanjigarh plant so far and incurred losses to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore during the past five years of its stunted operation.

The closure of the plant is expected to affect the livelihood of 6,500 people, including 550 employed directly, 5,000 engaged indirectly and 1,000 self-employed in and around the plant. VAL had formed a JV with the state-run Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for the supply of 150 million tonnes of bauxite, which included 78-million tonne reserves from the Niyamgiri hills.While bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri hills was prohibited by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), there was no attempt by OMC or the state government to supply bauxite from other sources.

OMC has said its hands are tied down by rule of law since the agreement was meant only for supply from Niyamgiri mines, which is a matter of sub-judice currently. The miner has no large bauxite mine under its ownership as of

 

Sex Education is Also a Right- is India listening ?


Many countries in Latin America have made progress in introducing sex education in schools. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPSMany countries in Latin America have made progress in introducing sex education in schools. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS

HAVANA, Nov 13 2012 (IPS) – Learning about respect in a relationship, sexual orientation, sexuality, gender equality and family planning forms part of the right to sex education that is still not enjoyed by all children and adolescents in Latin America.

“They talk to us in school about teen pregnancy and safe and responsible sex,” Leonardo Martínez, a 12-year-old student in Havana, told IPS. “I did homework about children’s rights, and thanks to that we learned more about how important sex education is.”

However, Javier García, who is the same age, commented, “We have to talk more about other things,” after participating in a community meeting about violence against women as part of a national event that was held this month in eight Cuban provinces. “We experience these differences, but we don’t know how to deal with them.”

“Sexuality needs to be thought of in terms of pedagogy and human rights. We need to move from a medical approach to a more educational approach,” said Argentine sexologist Mirta Marina, coordinator of her country’s National Programme for Comprehensive Sex Education.

Latin America is “going through a process of development” in this field, but “it still has many restrictions, mostly because of the conservatism that has been passed down for centuries, which makes it difficult to talk about these matters within the family and at school,” Marina told IPS in Havana, during a regional meeting on comprehensive sex education.

In classrooms and other educational spaces, teaching staff should provide guidance about sexuality with the goal of promoting health. “But we have to progressively add other aspects, such as gender equality, respect for gender diversity, and the elements of affection, expression of feelings and pleasure,” she added.

In her opinion, “it is a battle that will continue, to a lesser or greater extent, based on the progress made in each country. We have to work more on the rights of boys and girls to enjoy their bodies and gender equality.”

This agreement, which was signed in 2008 by 30 health ministries and 26 education ministries from Latin American and the Caribbean, outlined paths to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS.

The countries committed themselves to achieving two major goals by 2015: cutting in half the number of adolescents and young people who do not have access to health services that fully meet their sexual health needs, and reducing by 75 percent the number of schools — under ministerial jurisdiction — that do not provide comprehensive sex education.

According to the study, which covers the 2008-2011 period, the Mesoamerican region — southern Mexico and Central America — advanced by 49 percent in implementing that strategy, and South America made 41 percent progress. However, it did not include Brazil or the Caribbean islands.

The countries that made the most progress were Colombia, Argentina, Guatemala and Costa Rica. And bringing up the rear were Panama, Belize, Paraguay, Bolivia and Venezuela, the study found.

According to the United Nations, in Latin America some 68,000 adolescents (10 to 19 years old) are living with HIV/AIDS: 34,680 of them female and 33,320 male. And more than half of new HIV cases worldwide due to sexual transmission are detected among young people between the ages of 15 and 24.

In recent years, teen pregnancy rates have shot up in the region, exceeded only by those of Africa.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean reports that adolescents in the region accounted for 14 percent of births between 2000 and 2005 – nearly double the proportion of previous five-year periods.

From January to July of 2012, 1,448 girls between the ages of 10 and 14 gave birth in Guatemala.

And in Bolivia, 18 percent of mothers were 12 to 18 years old in 2008. But by 2011, that number had increased to 25 percent, according to the U.N. Population Fund, which on Nov. 14 will publish its annual world report focusing on the links between family planning, human rights and development.

That is why governments must guarantee sexual and reproductive rights from an early age, Uruguayan Dr. Stella Cerruti told IPS.

However, it is a slow process, and a subject of debate between specialists, politicians and the population in general, she said.

While many countries in the region have national programmes or have signed regional and international agreements, the reality is more complex.

Some religious groups and many parents are opposed to sex education in schools, and governments do not always put a priority on the issue, Cerruti said.

Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX) organised a gathering of 57 Latin American experts and activists in Havana Nov. 5-7 to review strategies and strengthen alliances in “comprehensive sex education with an approach based on gender, human rights and diversity.”

Civil society organisations “have an important role to play in social auditing and pressing governments to enforce legal frameworks on sex education,” activist Roberto Luna told IPS. “They can also provide them with specialised technical assistance,” added the founder of Incide Joven, a Guatemalan network that promotes political participation on the issue.

Background of Alternative Politics in Orissa/Odisha


 

~ Prafulla Samantra & Rabi Das, Nov 2012

 

In the first decade in Independent India idealism, service and sacrifice had its impact on politics, which resulted in the process of nation building and strengthening the democratic institutions. The process gradually weakened and corruption affected state policy and administration; the mass discontent created by this was reflected in the anti-Congress campaign in 1969. The leadership was conscious that the country should not deviate from the fundamental principles of the freedom struggle. That is why in the decades of the ‘70s when authoritarianism and corruption raised its head, a mass movement developed against it. The people of the country confronted emergency and expressed a clear-cut opinion in 1977 to re-establish democracy. However, corruption engulfed the entire administrative system and the state and central leaders were neck deep in corruption, which resulted in a serious economic crisis in the country. Taking advantage of this situation, without the knowledge of the people, the economic policies of neoliberalism and globalization were imposed on them.

 

Under this economic regime, the impact of foreign and Indian capital, including the Indian and foreign companies, increased on politics and economy to the country. The foundation of this economy is dictatorial and the repressive administrative system, which is reflected in every aspect of the country. This is completely against the fundamental principles of the freedom struggle and democracy.

 

In this, the social, economic and political rights of the people are shrinking and the importance of capital and capitalists has increased. Most of the leaders and parties ruling the country and states work as their agents and have unleashed repression on the common people. Their only aim is handing over the precious natural and common resources to the companies and providing them lakhs of crores of profit and buying the public opinion by the help of their financial power. Due to their policies, poverty is increasing, farmers are committing suicide, colossal economic disparities are created and the natural environment of the country is being destroyed. In this condition, there is a need for creating an alternative politics and organization for re-establishing the values of the freedom struggle and defending the fundamental freedom and rights of the citizens. The leadership who have ruled and ruling our state Odisha for the past fifty years are not free of corruption. There is a gradual degeneration of the state administration due to the corruption of the leadership who have been ruling our state Odisha; the politics is also polluted. Today’s politics is governed by black money. As a result of this, more than 50% of the people are below the poverty line. 70% or 3 crore people of our state are Adivasis, Dalits, agricultural labourers, marginal and landless farmers, who are unable to get the necessary nutritional diet, education and health service. Politics has been gradually reduced to a business by the ruling parties. Democracy has completely vanished from the political parties. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) has been ruling Odisha for the past 12 years, who’s head Naveen Patnaik is unable to talk to the common voting public and people also do not understand what he says. Though the Chief Minister is getting votes, he is not able to recognize his own MLAs. It is said that Naveen is quite clean and above board, then how come in his rule thousands of crore rupees of corruption is happening in daal, water and mines.

 

The quantum and rate of corruption in police stations, Tehsil block offices and other departments have increased instead of decreasing. The property of ruling party MLAs, engineers, senior officers and ministers continues to increase. If the Chief Minister is free of corruption, then from where is the ruling party getting thousands of crores of rupees to spend on elections. Therefore, it proves that the corruption of the past 12 years rule is far more than the past 40 years. As a result of this, the politics of ruling BJD revolves around Naveen Pathak. The MLAs are neither free to speak in the legislation assembly nor to the Chief Minister about the problems of the people. Departmental secretaries have been given the scope to work sidelining the ministers, as a result of which there is whimsical governance in the administration and party by the boss. This type of anti-people and undemocratic politics is propagated as pro-development by the mass media who are financially controlled by the companies such that it becomes easy to plunder the natural resources of Odisha by the companies. Now this boss has been projected as a supremo by the mass media.

 

Now politics is only done for the profit of the companies. Common people have no place in this. The role of the main opposition political parties is the same. There has been severe allegation of corruption against the Centre, which is ruled by the Congress Party. This party blindly follows what is said by the high command. BJP has also adopted the economic policies of Congress, which devastates agriculture and farmers for the benefit of the companies. The BJP shared power with BJD for 9 years in Odisha; most of them are corrupted. The Congress at the Centre; BJD in Odisha; and BJP in Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh; are equally responsible for the coal scam today. When agricultural land, river water, forest resources and mines are snatched from the people and handed over to the companies at cheap rates in our state, then the displaced farmers and Adivasis face police lathis and bullets when they democratically protest against these measures. But these main opposition parties are not ready to say a single sentence against these companies. Therefore, while the plunder of mines, water and land is portrayed as development by the Naveen Government in the name of industrialization, the two main opposition parties are unable to oppose the ongoing blind destructive industrialization. Contemporary politics is being corporatized and criminalized. This will drain the natural resources of the state. Mountains and rivers will be reduced to deserts; heat will increase with deficit in rainfall; agriculture will be devastated; farmers and Adivasis will lose their livelihoods, and the state will be become a food deficit state. Therefore, for the preservation of environment and along with alternative development, there is a dire need of a new political power. By a sustainable and balanced development, agro industries, construction of village industries, and small oil, sugar and spinning mills can be prioritized where it is possible to employ unemployed youth. The aim of this politics is to draw a prosperity line and provide the broad masses of people economic, educational and health services equally.

 

In the mainstream political parties in Odisha, farmers, Adivasi and Dalit leadership is totally absent. Though Adivasis and Dalits constitute 40% of the state’s population, in the political parties there has been no reflection of their voices in the leadership for the past 60 years. Instead of doing justice to agriculture and farmers, there is a conspiracy to finish off agriculture through senseless industrialization. By name, it is development, but in reality, it is the destruction of water, forests, agriculture and the livelihood security of crores of people who are dependent on them. In these parties, there is no place for the politics based on the socio-economic context of Adivasis, Dalits and farmers. In the entire state when the mass movements are going on for the preservation and security of agricultural land along with agriculture and forest resources, the ruling and main opposition parties are refusing to address the issues raised by them. It is because they get black money from companies for their politics. Where is the ruler of the state? He is there to provide security for the companies and for the repression of mass movements by engaging the police force. Today, in every nook and corner burglary, dacoity, murder and rape by antisocial goons are increasing day by day. Why is it not prevented? To save democracy today, it is necessary to unseat the parties and their leaders by 2014 that have pushed the people of the state towards anarchy by making the administration anti-people, undemocratic and corrupt; otherwise, life will be intolerable by the arrogance of this party.

 

After seeing all these, since the voters do not have any alternative during the elections, it is easy to garner votes using money and muscle power. Therefore, the biggest necessity of today is the politics, which can provide security for agriculture, farmers, fishermen, unorganized labour, Adivasis and Dalits, and create leadership by them. Hence, it is really necessary to create mass awareness for democratic politics in every village. The farmers of the villages have to question the political parties who come for their votes, from where they amass so much wealth? Today, when the condition of agriculture and farmers is precarious, then how MLAs, MPs, Chief Ministers and officials are becoming rich? Why can’t we be provided the pension drawn by a Class IV employee? Why education has been commercialized instead of making provision of common schools and teachers from villages to cities? Why are children discriminated? While asking these questions, politics has to be freed from black money by creating a new political force, which can provide education, health services and livelihood for everyone in Odisha. There is a need for a new political force and party where there will be no high command or a supremo in the party. There will be equal rights for every ordinary worker where there will be a collective leadership of Adivasis, Dalits and farmers to manage the affairs of the party. Gram Sabhas have to liberated from the high-handedness of the political parties.

 

Financial and organizational assistance will be sought by honest political workers on behalf of the people. To prevent astronomical expenditure in elections, people’s committees have to be constituted in every village. This type of political alternative will be able to implement alternative development policy for the farmers, agricultural labourers, forest workers and slum dwellers of Odisha. Otherwise, a leader like Naveen Patnaik who cannot speak the language of people, who does not have any emotional bond with the people, who runs the state like an emperor by the help of officials will ruin the state by opportunism, companification, commercialization and will pauperize the state by draining its resources and convert the state into a grazing meadow for the companies by corrupt administration and degenerate politics which will cripple our education and heath institutions, destroy our agriculture, land, rivers, oceans and forests. To prevent this, there is a dire need of an alternative political force, which can create an alternative political platform creating a united campaign, for the rights of people along with likeminded mass organizations. The main objective for a mass campaign for alternative politics is creating awareness among people regarding alternatives and developing people’s political organization in every Gram Panchayat. There is a need for a long struggle for the reflection of people’s power in the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha.

 

[Translated into English by Asit Das]

 

States list manual scavengers as “dead”


21 November 2012 , By Priscilla Jebaraj , The Hindu

Geeta Devi’s neat Hindi signature is written below her photograph – a shy-looking woman with a dupatta covering her head – in an affidavit duly notarised in Haridwar last month. Dehradun district resident Manju smiles out of the photograph on her affidavit, where she states she is just 36 years old.

According to the government of Uttarakhand, both Manju and Geeta Devi are dead. After all, both women are manual scavengers, engaged in an occupation that the state does not believe exists.

“There is no data because we simply deny their existence,” admits Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. “It is not kosher to admit that we still have manual scavenging in this country.”

The Uttarakhand government stated that both women – and hundreds of other manual scavengers – were dead in its submission to the Supreme Court in response to a 2003 petition filed by the Safai Karamchari Andolan, an organisation working to end the practice whereby lakhs of people dispose of the excreta of their fellow human beings with their own hands, usually carried on their own heads.

Uttarakhand is not alone. Several state governments have told the court that both the census which found 26 lakh manually cleaned latrines in the country, and the SKA which has documented the profiles and photographs of almost 9,000 scavengers are simply wrong.

For example, in the Dehradun district, the local administration has dismissed the claims of every single one of the 244 profiles documented by SKA. “Retired”, “[in] service”, “death”, “not interested in loan [granted by government]” reads page after page in the government’s submission against the names of people whom SKA has painstakingly profiled.

“Census workers…have drawn wrong inference,” says the Madhya Pradesh government’s submission. “The report of the census of India may be based on old data/figures,” says the submission from Bihar. Similar statements were submitted by Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

“This is why we have gathered photographs, addresses, and notarised affidavits,” says SKA national convenor Bezwada Wilson. “But the government refuses to admit to the truth.”

SKA estimates that over three lakh manual scavengers – mostly women – may be cleaning excreta from dry latrines, open drains and railway tracks across the country. But the government has no accurate figures.

The Rural Development Minister Mr. Ramesh expects the ongoing Socio-Economic Caste Census to document and enumerate manual scavengers, and give women like Manju and Geeta Devi a presence in government records.

In the meanwhile, the Rural Development Ministry has promised to bring every manual scavenger identified by SKA into the net of the National Rural Livelihood Mission, giving the highest priority to providing them with alternative livelihoods, training and skill development.

 

Aadhaar-NPR duplication: A pain, and expensive too


Not only will nearly 600 million people have to queue up twice to enroll for the Aadhaar number and the National Population Register (NPR), they will also have to foot the bill for the duplication.Nine months after a cabinet decision promised to avoid duplication and “avoidable

costs” in creating the NPR and Aadhaar, it has now been revealed that the public exchequer would end up wasting more than Rs. 900 crore on duplicating enrolment details for the two programmes. For, enrolment with or without the biometric factor – i.e. photo, iris scan and ten fingerprints – would cost roughly the same.

The cabinet had in January allowed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to enrol 600 million people across 18 states, including Delhi, Haryana and Maharashtra. These people had to turn up again when camps for NPR were opened in their locality to provide additional details for the population register.

The government had claimed that duplication would be avoided – and the extra cost too – as people who enrolled for Aadhaar would not have to submit their biometric details again. It had concluded that because of this, vendors wouldn’t have to be paid for the purpose.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/11/30_11_pg13a.jpg

However, private firms who collect biometric details for the NPR have told the government that the cost differential without counting the biometric process would be a mere R3-4 per person. For instance, even if a person comes to the camp without an Aadhaar card, the facility will still have to be made available for him. And the government cannot avoid paying for it.

They pegged the fixed cost account at about 75-80% of their total enrolment cost.

This means that the home ministry – which has to pay about R18-22 per person for capturing biometric and additional details – would still have to shell out about Rs. 14-18.

“They have a point,” a government official said, stating that he had long believed the “ill-conceived” decision in January would end up with thousands of crores of rupees going down the drain.

If the UIDAI was so insistent on enrolling people, the cabinet should have ordered the home ministry as well as the identification authority to adopt the same processes, the official said. “Biometrics apart, today you have a situation where, in 18 states and union territories, UIDAI enrolls a person and collects information across five fields. Then the NPR goes to the same place and seeks information across 10 more fields,” he explained.

In the remaining states, only the NPR camps will be held and the Aadhaar numbers issued on the basis of its database.

 

#India-Widow starving and living in a for10 yrs #Vaw


30th November 2012

 

To 

The Chairman
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House
Copernicus Marg
New Delhi-110001                                                                                                                                                               

Respected Sir,

 

We conducted a fact finding upon information received that the victim Ms. Sabita Pal, wife of- Late Bimal Pal, aged about- 50 years, Hindu by faith, by occupation-begging, residing at Burujmore under village-Buruj, Police Station- Baduriya, District- North 24 Parganas, West Bengal is a victim of starvation. She is a widow, homeless and lives in a ‘Hume Pipe’. Her two sons work and stay in a shop on a meager amount per month. The victim has been knocking the door of the authorities for getting help of various schemes of the government as her husband’s name was enlisted in the B.P.L. (Below Poverty Line) List, but till date she did not get any help due to slipshod attitude of the authorities. Our attached fact finding report gives details of this tragic situation of the victim.   

 

In that situation we seek your urgent intervention in this matter in the following manner:-

 

  • The victim and her family members should immediately be provided with adequate facilities under the present government schemes.
  • The victim must also be proved with proper shelter immediately. 
  • The role played by the respective departments and the administration of the local gram panchayat in this matter should immediately be probed into and the personnel accountable must be booked under the law.
  • The whole matter must be investigated by one neutral investigating agency appointed by the Commission and the victim must be provided with adequate compensation for denial of her right to food and the right to life.

 

Thanking You

Yours faithfully,

 

 

Kirity Roy
Secretary, MASUM
&
National Convener, (PACTI)

Name of the victim: – Ms. Sabita Pal, wife of- Late Bimal Pal, aged about- 50 years, Hindu by faith, by occupation-begging, residing at Burujmore under village-Buruj, Police Station- Baduria, District- North 24 Parganas, West Bengal, India.

 

 

Case details: -

 

It is revealed during the fact finding that the victim is a homeless widowed person and her husband died in the year 2006. Previously she had own residence at village Gokulpur under Swarupnagar Police Station. But her house was forcibly occupied and sold by her elder brother-in-law Mr. Nirmal Pal and younger brother-in-law Mr. Gour Pal. The victim and her family were then ousted by them from the house in the year of 2000 when a massive flood hit the area. The victim became completely homeless at that time with her family members.  

 

After that she took shelter in a ‘Hume Pipe’ near Brojumore under Ramchandrapur Gram Panchayet with her family. Her eldest son Tarak Pal, aged about twenty six years has been missing for last six years. Her other two sons namely Shyamal Pal, at present aged about eighteen years and Kamal Pal, at present aged about fifteen years work in a sweet shop at Ramchandrapur Market. The said sons of the victim live in the said shop and they get meager amount of Rs. 500/- each per month. They have been working in the said sweet shop for last five years. The victim due to her poverty could not provide them food and education for which they had to take job at the sweet shop for mere survival.

 

The victim time and again knocked local gram panchayat (Ramchandrapur Gram Panchayat) authority to get helps from the various schemes of the government. But her pleas were not heard till date. She also found that her name was excluded from the voter list. The victim’s husband name was in the B.P.L. (Below Poverty Line) list being no. 160WB15-010-012-006180142), so she requested the authorities of Ramchandrapur Gram Panchayat to enlist her name in the BPL list as well as requested to issue Ration Cards for herself and her sons, but till date there is no outcome. The authorities of local gram panchayat reportedly refused to render any help to the victim in spite of being aware of the helpless situation of the victim.  The victim somehow survives by begging.

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