#Mumbai- Municipal Corporation adds to woes of Homeless


Published: Saturday, Dec 15, 2012, 2:05 IST
By Dilnaz Boga | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Diana Joseph, 22, will spend Christmas with her husband Ganesh and two children on the street close to where their 20-year-old home was demolished on October 12.

“Like every year, we will cook daal chawal and cut a cake with the rest of the people who have lost their homes,” said the south Mumbai resident, cuddling her infant in her arms.

The Joseph family, along with 100 other residents, including 25 children, have made the street their home with their belongings stacked up along the street. As if razing their homes was not enough, the civic authorities took all their
belongings on Friday.

The BMC took the action after the high court dismissed a petition by NGO Alternative Realities, that works for the rights of the homeless. The NGO had filed a PIL on October 30 after 15 families in Ballad Estate lost their homes in a demolition by the MbPT.

The residents, who lived on the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) land, are mainly daily wage earners and domestic help employed in the same vicinity.

The residents claimed that the MbPT had not issued notices as per rules and that they had proof of residence as most of them had been born there.

Masleen Dave, 38, was in tears and was unable to get to her job as house help. Lamenting the loss of all her belongings, she clinged to the only thing she could salvage – her handbag. “We lost everything we had. The BMC said they will not let us stay here at night. Where do we go?”

Four-year-old Angela Pushpa Raj Velangani, who suffered from food poisoning and had to be rushed to hospital after her home was demolished, missed school along with other children on Friday.

Arun Gowandkar, 29, a labourer, said he was going to the A Ward office to get their belongings released. “They’ve asked us to pay money to get our things back,” he added.

 

Mowgli meets the Maoists: Satya Sagar #mustread


DECEMBER 15, 2012
Guest post by SATYA SAGAR, Kafila.org

Hello folks! I need your help and hence this appeal to all of you!

I have been a journalist for a long time but never managed to write a full book on my own all these days. One reputed publisher has now approached me to write a book about the Maoists and I am very excited about it. The publisher thinks that the Maoists are a very ‘sexy’ topic and I should write about them because as a veteran journalist I am qualified to write on anything under the sun.

Let me give you some background. Basically publishers have figured out there seems to be lots of money in printing anything penned by an Indian writer. Novels, plays, travelogues, diaries, memoirs, collections of old essays, homework notes from school, whatever- because the entire world is willing to read anything written by Indians. It seems people around the planet had assumed all these decadesthat Indians were completely illiterate and now that has been finally proven untrue they want to read EVERYTHING they write.

My problem though is that Maoism is a subject about which I know nothing at all besides one casual encounter in my childhood with a neighbor who was a great admirer of China. Nor do I understand the context in which the events that I am about to describe are happening, after all I have never been to the forest except on a picnic as a young boy. Above all I really don’t know if the people I am using as my sources represent the phenomenon I am trying to report on.

But don’t get me wrong. I am a very sincere person and while my disabilities are many I have never let them come in the way of my success. So I have accepted to write the book and called it “Mowgli meets the Maoists”.

I need you all to read it and send your comments quickly so that I can judge whether this book is going to be successful or not. Of course many of you who may love what I write are free to send off letters to libraries across the globe recommending they they place an order immediately! Thanks!

Given below is an excerpt from the introductory chapter of “Mowgli meets the Maoists”, to be published by ‘Wingless Wonders’, 2012.

The moment the phone rang I knew it was a call from the Maoist contact I had approached for information to write my new book. The ringtone, normally a balle balle Punjabi number, had mysteriously turned into a distinctly Andhra melody. In fact I could even smell hot mango pickles as I picked up the phone.

It was not the guy I thought it was but it was surely a Maoist. How did I know for certain? Simple, the fellow hadthis sing-song voice that reminded me of the late N.T.Rama Rao.  As a young lad visiting Hyderabad many years ago, I had the privilege of seeing this great Telugu actor and politician passing by in a motorcade and that was my first insight into Andhra society, culture, economics and politics. The experience at a young age of spotting Rama Rao garu in traffic was very useful to me much later when I finally became a journalist.

“ You are a journalistbased in New Delhi, working for an English daily, have one wife, two kids and half a dog?”

I was startled by the question. How did they find out all that about me?

I asked him suspiciously “How do you know all this?”

“I just searched on Google” said the man in his thick Andhra accent.

Amazing! The Maoists are using Google and the internet these days! I had a very different impression about them, that deep in the jungles they communicated only in sign language or at best whispered into each other ears to convey messages over long distance. I immediately figured out they must be using email also now. How very interesting.

“What is your email address?” I asked breathlessly.

alluriventakatapallysitaramaraju@revolution.org”, came the reply.

But wait a minute, how were they accessing the internet in the forest? Where was the power supply coming from?If solar, then was it the red or the yellow side of the sun they were harnessing? Even more importantly, what version of Windows were they loading onto their computers? Surely a pirated one? Even I, with all my ignorance, understood enough Maoism to know that paying cash forAmerican software would be deeply offensive to their ideology.

It was while thinking along these lines that I got the idea of asking my Maoist friends to meet me in Delhi’s Nehru Place. I guessed correctly that they must be familiar with the place, visiting the place often to pick up pirated software.

“My fellow will meet you in front of the paan shop outside the Samsung showroom” said theAndhra Maoist gentleman (all Andhra men are gentlemen, even if some of them are Maoists). I understood the significance of the location immediately. Paan was something produced by small farmers and so a metaphor for the agrarian revolution espoused by the Maoists. Samsung was an evil multinational and the paan shop guy by encouraging his customers to spit outside the Samsung showroom was provoking a revolutionary upsurge. The color of the spit was red too, how much more symbolic could it get?

Days passed by and I had forgotten about the proposed meeting with the Maoists. Finally one day as I lifted the wet clothes out of the washing machine, the doorbell rang. I dropped the clothes on the floor and ran to open the door. Standing there was this young man to deliver a message to me, “Meeting is fixed, sharp at 12 noon, Sunday, when Nehru Place is crowded and it will be difficult for the police to spot us”. And all this told, again with a heavy Andhra accent.

Having conveyed this information to me the youth fled the spot as if worried about someone following him. Much later I discovered that the boy was in fact not from Andhra but from Haryana. As a Maoist he had assiduously acquired an Andhra accent, which was essential for climbing up the Party hierarchy. Learning Telugu was even more important inside the Maoist Party, especially because in the battlefield most of the commands were given only in that language. So if you did not know the Telugu word for ‘Duck!’ you would end becoming a sitting one for the police. The logic made perfect sense to me.

Finally the day arrived when I met the man who would give me all the secrets of the Maoists and I mean everything, including the color of the socks worn by their top leaders and how much tamarind they used in their sambar. Once again I was in for a surprise, the person sent by the Maoist Party to meet me spoke with a Malayali accent. A Malayali Maoist? Wow! Was that possible? I had always believed that all people from Kerala were either CPM or Congress but obviously some of them used more chilli powder in their diet. (Later on I learnt that Maoists can also have Bengali and Oriya accents, though I can vouch for the fact none of them have a Haryanvi accent for some strange reason.)

“Did you know Manmohan Singh is a Maoist sympathiser?”

“Really? Since when and how?” I asked.

“Well, by selling national interests to foreign corporations, making policies that suit only the very rich and squeezing the rural poor he is helping to expand the Maoist movement” said Arun (Lets call him Arun).

“Surely, if that were the case he would not have called Maoism ‘the biggest internal security threat’? ”, I countered.

“Well, people misunderstood what he was trying to say. By ‘internal’ he meant himself and not the nation. He is the internal security threat because deep inside him he knows he is helping the Maoists grow” said Arun, with that cold, glass eyed look that only hardcore revolutionaries can have.  (Much later I learnt Arun in fact had a glass eye, to replace one lost in a battle with the CRPF).

I also noticed while talking to Arun that his hands kept fiddling with something in his pocket. Obviously,I thought, a loaded gun. (Much later I learnt it was a new touch screen mobile phone Arun had got from an old classmate in Delhi, who was now a university professor).

“Robert Vadra, of ‘Mango People’ fame, is a long-time supporter of our movement”, said Arun. I gasped, was that really true?

“Yes, where do you think all the brass we use in our custom made pistols comes from. Top brass quality too”, he said, trying to mask his Malayali accent a bit to gain more credibility with me as a Maoist.

“Also, Rahul Gandhi has been desperately trying to join our underground movement, to escape from his mother constantly pushing him to lead the Congress Party” said Arun casually.

I nearly fell out of my chair, here was the scoop of the decade! Rahul a closet Maoist! Fantastic! My book is now going to be a bestseller!

Of course, I did not reveal my excitement at all and with the calmest countenance asked, “I am an experienced journalist. You can’t fool me. Where is the proof?”

“The proof is also underground, like most things Maoist. If you want details like that I am sorry but you can’t get them all in one sitting in Nehru Place” said Arun.

That made perfect sense once again. In an instant I had a brilliant idea.

“Take me to your leader,to your forest hideouts or wherever. I want to know all your secrets” I said boldly. I knew there was a chance of Arun getting up and leaving, abandoning me to the chai and paan wallahs of Nehru Place forever. After all, he could have simply got upset and said, “Lets call it off”.

However he surprised me once again, “Let me know when, I will book your tickets onwww.makemytrip.com”. The Maoists also knew where to book cheap flights, hmmm. (Does the Aviation Ministry know about this?)

And that, dear readers, believe me was the beginning of the most dangerous journey I have ever made in my life. A journey full of suspense, life threatening situations, brutal characters, depression and the constant feeling that everything could be lost any moment. Oh! I was saying all that about the Indian Airlines flight I finally took to a state capital in central India (I can’t tell you which one, as I promised my contacts not to tell anyone).

As for the actual journey into the Maoist infested forests and hills, the tribal people with their colorful costumes, the forest officialsperpetually drunk on mahuaand the drying skeletons of policemen all around you will have to read the rest of the book!

Satya Sagar is the well-known author of no book so far but is on the cusp of becoming a celebrity writer. And if he does not become one, ‘It is all YOUR FAULT!

Sparks fly at IISc over Anand Patwardhan documentary on Babri masjid razing


By Aishhwariya Subramanian | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

Proving that communal tension exists even within the hallowed halls of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), a heated argument broke out at IISc on Wednesday after a documentary was screened on the campus about the demolition of the Babri Masjid.

The documentary, Ram Ke Naam, which is Anand Patwardhan’s controversial take on the 20-year-old issue, was screened by a student body that has representatives from both IISc and the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS).

When the documentary began, some students got into an argument with the organisers over its controversial content. By the time the documentary got over, the two groups erupted into a loud argument that left several members of the audience at loss for words.

Much of the problem arose from the posters used by the organisers. The posters contained a blurb from Patwardhan himself, describing Vishwa Hindu Parishad as a “militant group”.
“They plastered these posters, calling the VHP a ‘militant group’ all across the hostels in the campus. There is already some communal tension because of it and because of these posters, there are also counter posters put up in the hostels. They are just trying to cause trouble by screening this documentary, which is full of lies and does not even want to discuss the facts,” said a PHd student from IISc who did not wish to be named.

The student body group, on the other hand, said they simply wanted to screen the documentary to mark the 20th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition.

They also noted that several students from the IISc had written to the Students’ Council prior to the screening to get it canceled. The Students’ Council, in turn, wrote to the registrar and the public relations officer of the institute. While the administration gave the group the green signal to screen the documentary, the PRO was present the entire time.

“I just want to clarify that this documentary was not screened on behalf of the IISc but by the students’ group called Concern,” he said. Overall, the public screening was attended by close to 150 people, most of whom were from the IISc.

While the scuffle between the protesters and the organisers never turned physical, one of the protesters raised the slogan ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai‘.

 

BELOW IS A REACTION FROM RAVI, WHO WAS THERE AT THE SCREENING

 

From: ravi <ra.ravishankar@gmail.com>
Date: 15 December 2012 23:34

I went for the documentary screening and find this report very
problematic, right from the way it is pitched: “communal tension” in
the “hallowed halls” of IISc! The problem wasn’t one of “communal
tension”, it was more a reaction by a small group of rabidly
pro-Hindutva students to a film they feared would expose the Hindutva
movement’s blood-stained past and give the lie to its claim to
represent all Hindus.

The report describes the documentary as Anand Patwardhan’s
“controversial” take on the Ramjanbhoomi-Babri Masjid issue, and
attributes much of the problem to the publicity posters which
described the VHP as “militant”. Is any popular anti-Hindutva work
non-controversial? Why should a work be defined by the ruckus raised
by the Hindutva forces? If an adjective was badly needed, why not
“award-winning” instead of “controversial”? As for describing the VHP
as militant, I too find it problematic since the term has a fairly
neutral meaning; “fascist” would have been more accurate.

Here is my understanding of how the events unfolded. The screening was
organised by a student group called Concern
<http://www.facebook.com/pages/Concern-IISc/142948592461127>. Once the
screening was finalized, and necessary permissions taken from the
appropriate IISc authorities, publicity posters were put up. A motley
group of rabidly pro-Hindutva IISc students swung into action, put up
misleading counter-posters, and persuaded the Students Council
President to write to the IISc public relations officer recommending
cancellation of the film. A petition was also circulated to this
effect, and it apparently got about 100 signatures. However, Concern
folks got wind of this action, and eventually managed to let the
screening go ahead with an important caveat — there was to be no
discussion after the screening, and Concern was responsible for
evacuating the audience out of the venue once the film ended. There
was considerable uncertainty about whether the event will go ahead
until the day of the screening … The pro-Hindutva students also
threatened a legal suit if the posters describing the VHP as
“militant” were not removed, but (I think) Concern didn’t budge.

About 150-200 people came for the screening. I was about five minutes
late, but heard from a friend that when the organisers attempted a
brief intro to the film, the Hindutva group (sanghis) started shouting
and the screening was started hurriedly without an intro. Not that it
kept the sanghis quiet though. They continued to shout once in a
while, either when they were particularly aggrieved (as when none of
the Hindutva supporters interviewed in the film seemed to know exactly
when Rama was born; a sanghi in the audience asserted that Rama was
born 9.5 lakh years ago, and claimed fossil evidence to this effect!)
or to express approval for Narendra Modi or an egregious character on
screen (like when Advani barked “Mandir Wahin Banayenge” — we’ll
build the temple THERE). I think the guy who set Rama’s age at 9.5
lakh years departed midway through the screening, perhaps embarrassed
at his antics and not wanting to be identified in public (much like
the anonymous sanghi quoted in the DNA report). Another one shouted
out a suggestion: invite Subramanian Swamy to know the truth about
Ayodhya!

When the film ended, the sanghis who had stayed back started shouting
immediately. Concern folks tried to get everyone out of the room
immediately, but the sanghis wanted a captive audience. It later
turned out that they haven’t been able to muster such big audiences
for their events, so wanted to have a say then and there. In the words
of one of them, paraphrased as I remember: “When we have some events
to talk about corruption or issues of national interest, no one turns
up. But for this biased documentary, so many have come.” The room was
soon cleared, and a shouting match ensued outside. The Sanghis
departed with cries of “Jai Shri Ram, Bharat Mata ki Jai, Concern is a
Naxalite group, Ban Concern” etc.  For me, this was a good taste of
sanghi thuggery when they lack numbers and don’t have the active
support of the administration. Friends told me that a similar
screening in other campuses, such as Hyderabad Central University
which has a strong ABVP unit, would be more fraught with danger.
Likewise for events outside university campuses.

All in all, this event was an interesting contrast to the previous
screening of Ram Ke Naam that we had organised several years ago at
UIUC. The sanghis at UIUC didn’t want to crawl out of the woodwork and
stand exposed for their politics, but it turns out some of the sanghis
at IISc felt no such restraint. Perhaps they expected some support
from the neutral section of the audience, and when none was
forthcoming their boorishness took over. Such hostility to a
two-decade old documentary makes one wonder how much more rabidly they
would react to an event on contemporary Hindutva, or its practice in
Gujarat.

ravi

Univ of Colorado at Boulder scientist deported from Delhi airport ,labelled as ‘scaremonger’


 Telegraph

New Delhi, Dec. 11: An American seismologist highly-rated in geological circles but labelled by some as a “scaremongerer” has said that the Indian government has, under the influence of a senior Indian scientist, banned his entry into India.

Roger Bilham, a University of Colorado geophysicist, who was sent back from New Delhi airport on May 19 this year while in transit to Bhutan, has said that he learnt again last week that he is still on a list of foreigners not permitted to enter India.

Sections of Indian scientists familiar with Bilham’s work say his research studies on earthquake hazards in the subcontinent have generated controversy in India, but said they are surprised at the government’s decision to keep him out of India.

Bilham and a collaborating Bangalore-based geophysicist Vinod Gaur had suggested that Indian authorities might have underestimated the seismic risk at the site of a proposed nuclear power station in Jaitapur, Maharashtra.

Over the past decade, Bilham has predicted that the Himalayan region is ripe for several giant earthquakes greater than magnitude 8, and cautioned that any one of these could kill more than a million people in the densely populated urbanised Gangetic plains.

“It’s unfortunate if Bilham has been barred entry because of his scientific views,” said Rangachar Narayana Iyengar, an earthquake engineering expert in Bangalore and the former director of the Central Building Research Institute in Roorkee.

“Differences of opinion in science must be allowed, indeed encouraged — that is the way science advances,” Iyengar told The Telegraph.

Bilham, who has visited India at least six times over the past decade, first learnt he was on a list of unwanted foreigners on the night of May 19 when he was sent back to the US from New Delhi airport while he was trying to fly to Bhutan for a field trip.

Bilham, who has a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa from India, said he had written about his deportation to the US state department on May 21, which informed him on May 22 that it had learnt that he was on a list of individuals not permitted to visit India.

“They were not told why I was on the list. I enquired again last week because I was planning to visit Delhi to study historical archives,” Bilham told The Telegraph via email. “They confirmed that I was still on the prohibited list.”

Indian home ministry officials have not responded to email queries from The Telegraph, seeking information about the circumstances under which the government had decided to keep Bilham out of India.

But Indian scientists say they are intrigued by a claim made by Bilham in writing to the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore that the government appears to have been influenced by a senior Indian seismologist.

“The government decision was presumably based on recommendations made by one or more influential seismologists in India,” Bilham wrote to the IISc on October 17 this year, in a letter where he has declined to evaluate the PhD thesis of a young scholar.

The IISc had requested Bilham to assist in the evaluation of the thesis.

“It has been brought to my attention that some younger colleagues have been intimidated by a retired (Indian) seismologist who once held a position in Hyderabad, from working with me, or being associated with scientific studies, or discussions,” Bilham told the IISc.

“The intimidation takes the form of suggestions that future funding, or chances of promotion, or job security, may be placed in jeopardy if these young scientists are in any way associated with my name,” he wrote, adding that his presence on the panel of thesis examiners might turn detrimental to the future of the young scholar.

Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the Union earth sciences ministry said he had no direct information about the decision to keep Bilham out of the country. “My understanding is that it has something to do with his tourist visa,” Nayak said.

But Bilham said he has never had a problem with his visa.

In January this year, he was invited to an Indo-US bilateral workshop on intraplate seismicity at Gandhinagar, Gujarat, a meeting supported by the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum, an initiative funded by the Indian and US governments.

A senior Indian geophysicist who knows Bilham well said his research and style of making presentations in India may have irked sections of senior scientists. “I have had a good working relationship with him, but he’s regarded by some as a scaremongerer,” said Bal Krishna Rastogi, director of the Institute of Seismological Research in Gandhinagar, which hosted the workshop . “It’s not nice for scientists to come here and tell us that we’re not doing anything. Whatever might be lacking in our efforts here is because of (lack of) resources.”

Bilham’s deportation from India also featured at the American Geophysical Union meeting on December 6 where Max Wyss, a Switzerland-based seismologist, mentioned it as an example of scientists being punished for predictions.

Gaur said the decision to disallow Bilham from visiting India is “against the philosophy of science”, which, he said, demands honest, open debates. “When science gets closed to scrutiny, there is a danger that it might get done with less rigour.”

Iyengar said he’s also concerned about the impact to young scholars. “Seismic risk is a borderline area of human knowledge — disagreement about hazard risks are always present, but punishing someone who holds a contrary view might turn young people away from seismology.”

 

#India- #Haryana launches women helpline 81466-93100 #vaw #mustshare


 

 

Fatehabad: In another addition to the spiralling cases of rapes in Haryana, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly raped by an elderly fruit seller in Ratia area in Fatehabad. Police have arrested the vendor Sohan Lal. According to the complaint lodged by mother of the girl, the accused had been raping her daughter during the school hours, police said.

The girl, a student of class six in a government school, was lured by the elderly man on the pretext of giving her fruits, police said. The girl narrated the incident to her father on Friday. The police have brought the victim and the accused to Fatehabad for medical examination. The state has witnessed a spurt in cases of rapes during the last two months.

The government on Friday announced several steps to tackle the crime against woman, including a round-the-clock help line and increased patrolling by the police in rural areas. On Saturday, the special women helpline number 81466-93100 was installed in Police Control Room, Panchkula.

 

Nine-year-old girl allegedly raped by neighbour in #Mumbai #Vaw


RAPE

Edited by Ashish Mukherjee | Updated: December 15, 2012  NDTV

MumbaiA 24-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly raping a minor girl in Mumbai‘s Dombivali area.

The girl is nine years old and the suspect’s neighbour. He allegedly lured her into fields near their homes and assaulted her.

The girl confided in her parents, who filed a police complaint.

On Tuesday, a four-year-old girl was raped by an autorickshaw driver in Dombivali.

On December 5, a 19-year-old boy was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old after he objected to the boy and his friends harassing a girl.

 

Drinking to become a sin for Kerala Catholics #Wtfnews


There might also be a ban on employing people who drink in institutions run by the church.

(Photo courtesy: indiavision.com)

Kochi: If the bishops’ council in Kerala has its way, alcohol consumption would become a sin for over 5 million Catholics in the state.
The temperance commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), which has taken up the issue, also said that a person would also have to confess if he/she had consumed alcohol.

The commission is also seeking a ban on employing people who drink in institutions run by the church.

The proposals form part of a 30-point draft liquor policy to be put up for discussion before the Kerala Catholic Council (KCC), an apex body comprising bishops, priests and the laity of the church.

“The panel was forced to take the extreme stand in view of the crisis the Kerala society is going through due to excessive drinking,” Fr. P.J. Antony, secretary of the commission said.

He said the draft proposals were based on the teachings of Bible and were also in tune with scientific studies that held alcohol as a cause for various physical and mental illnesses.

“On the basis of the discussions, the liquor policy will be announced on February 2. The church believes this is its moral responsibility,” he added.

However, there are differences of opinion on making drinking a sin in the state.

Charlie Paul, president of KCBC Madhya Virudha Samithi, said making drinking a sin may need more theological backing.

“Some bishops have reservations on this and want it to be referred to theological experts,” he said.

Source: asianage.com

 

Access4Kids input device allows disabled children to control touch-centric tablets


Access4Kids input device enables disabled children to control touchenabled tablets video

The innovation world at large has been crafting ways for handicapped individuals to interact with computers for years on end, but the issue of tablets has created another predicament entirely. How do you enable someone to masterfully control a touch-centric device, when the mere act of touching is a challenge? Ayanna Howard, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Georgia Tech, and graduate student Hae Won Park have created Access4Kids, which is described as a “wireless input device that uses a sensor system to translate physical movements into fine-motor gestures to control a tablet.”

In essence, it enables individuals with limited mobility to pinch and swipe, and the group has had success thus far with providing greater accessibility to flagship programs like Facebook and YouTube. Moreover, custom-built apps for therapy and science education are cropping up, with the existing prototype utilizing a trio of force-sensitive resistors that measure pressure and convert it into a signal that instructs the tablet. A child can wear the device around the forearm or place it on the arm of a wheelchair and hit the sensors or swipe across the sensors with his or her fist, providing an entirely new level of interaction for those with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, spina bifida and muscular dystrophy. The goal? Once it’s honed, to get it out of the lab and made “into a commercial product.” Head on past the break for a video look.

 

P Rajeeve’S motion in #Rajyasabha asking the amendment of #66A #ITact


P Rajeeve MP Rajya Sabha who has earlier moved the annulment montion in the Rajya Sabha is now moving a Private member motion today in the RS demanding the ammendment of IT act. The text of his speech is as follows:

1. SHRI P. RAJEEVE to move the following Resolution: -
“Having regard to the fact that -
(i) the Internet, an international network of interconnected computers that enables millions of people to communicate with one another incyberspace and to access vast amounts of information from around the world has provided an unprecedented platform for citizens to exercise their fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to create and innovate, to organize and influence, to speak and be heard;

(ii) in the last few months, a number of cases have come to light on how section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (herein after referred to as Act) is being arbitrarily used by the law enforcement agencies to arrest citizens in various parts of the country for posting comments on internet and social networking websites;

(iii) although the offense is bailable, the citizens are being detained without being granted bail and various countries have criticized these incidents as a slap on India‘s democracy;

(iv) the language and scope of legal terms used under section 66A of the Act are very wide and capable of distinctive varied interpretations with extremely wide parameters which have not been given any specific definitions under the law;

(v) clause (a) of section 66A of the Act uses expressions such as ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘menacing character’ which are not defined anywhere and are subject to discretionary interpretations;

(vi) clause (b) of section 66 A prescribes an imprisonment term up to three years for information that can cause annoyance, inconvenience, insult, criminal intimidation, thereby bundling disparate terms and providing similar punishment for criminal intimidation and causing inconvenience;

(vii) clause (c) of the same section although intended to handle spam nowhere defines it and makes every kind of spam a criminally punishable act, which is also against the world-wide norms;

(viii) the offence under section 66A of the Act is cognizable, and has made it possible for police to arrest citizens at odd times for example arresting two 21 years old women in Mumbai after sunset and a businessman at 5.00 a.m. in Puducherry;
116

(ix) right to freedom of speech and expression is the foundation of all democratic countries and is essential for the proper functioning of the process of democracy;
(x) only very narrow and stringent limits have been set to permit legislative abridgment of the right of freedom of speech and expression;
(xi) the Supreme Court has given a broad dimension to Article 19 (1)(a) by laying down that freedom of speech under Article 19 (1)(a) not only guarantees freedom of speech and expression, it also ensures the right of the citizen to know and the right to receive information regarding matters of public concern;
(xii) in interpreting the Constitution we must keep in mind the social setting of the country so as to show a complete consciousness and deep awareness of the growing requirements of the society and the increasing needs of the nation and for this, the approach should be dynamic, pragmatic and elastic rather than static, pedantic or rigid;

(xiii) there are tremendous problems in the way section 66A of the amended Act has been drafted as this provision though inspired by the noble objectives of protecting reputations and preventing misuse of networks, has not been able to achieve its goals;

(xiv) the language of section 66A of the amended Act goes far beyond the reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech, as mandated under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution of India;

(xv) India, being the world’s largest vibrant democracy, reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech need to be very strictly construed and section 66A of the amended Act, needs to be amended to make the Indian Cyber law in sync with the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and also with the existing realities of social media and digital platforms today;

(xvi) it has been pointed out that section 66A of the Act has been based on United States Code, Title V (Sections 501 & 502) of Telecommunication Act titled Communications Decency Act (CDA), it must be brought to the notice of this House that the United States Supreme Court has held that the CDA’s “indecent transmission” and “patently offensive display” provisions which abridge “the freedom of speech” protected by the First Amendment and thus unconstitutional, for instance, its use of the undefined terms like “indecent” and “patently offensive” provoke uncertainty among speakers about how the two standards relate to each other and just what they mean;

(xvii) the vagueness of such a content-based regulation, coupled with its increased deterrent effect as a criminal statute, raises Special First Amendment concerns because of its obvious chilling effect on free speech; and

(xviii) it has also been stated that section 66A of the Act has been based on United Kingdom’s section 127 of the Communication Act, 2003 which addresses improper use of public electronic communication network but the application of that section is restricted to a communication between two persons using public electronic communications network, i.e., mails written persistently to harass someone and not “tweets” or “status updates” that are available for public consumptions and which are not intended for harassment, also, the intention or mens rea element is crucial in it and further, the maximum punishment has been only up to six months in contrast to the three years mandated by Section 66A of the Act,

117
this House urges upon the Government to -
(a) amend section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 in line with the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India;
(b) restrict the application of section 66A of the Act to communication between two persons;
(c) precisely define the offense covered by Section 66A of the Act;
(d) reduce the penalty imposed by section 66A of the Act; and
(e) make the offense under section 66A of the Act a noncognizable
offence.

 

#India- #Chhattsigarh pays Kareena Kapoor 1.40 crore, while 1 lakh children suffer malnutrition in the state


While over  over 1 lakh children are suffering malnutrition in Bastar,thE tribal region of chhattisgarh, while 80 prisoners including women are HIV positive in chhattisgarh, for more than a year Soni Sori a tribal teacher has been tortured, sexually assaulted, denied basic  HUMAN rights in chhattisgarh, and NCW says Soni Sori needs psychological counselling or she might die,  The Chhattisgarh government admitted on Thursday that it paid a whopping sum of Rs 1.40 crore to Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor for her performance in November at the state’s anniversary function.

SONISORICOLLAGE

In a written reply to Congress member Mohammed Akbar in the state assembly, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Brijmohan Agrawal, who holds the tourism and culture portfolios as well, said that 245 artistes performed during the weeklong (November 1-7) state foundation anniversary – Rajayotasava 2012- celebrations held in various districts and the government paid over Rs 5 crore to them.

The total expenditure as honorarium to 245 artistes, that included 42 artistes from outside the state, during Rajayotasava 2012 was Rs 5,21,22,500, the minister said. He also listed details of per person honorarium paid out by the government, with Kareena Kapoor topping the list at Rs 1,40,71,000. Kareena performed at main Rajayotasava venue at Naya Raipur on November 1 and her show was hardly for eight minutes.

The government also paid heavy amount to other artistes such as Sonu Nigam (Rs 36,50,000), Sunidhi Chauhan (Rs 32,00,000), Dia Mirza (Rs 25,00,000), Himesh Reshamia (Rs 24,00,000) and Pankaj Udhas (Rs 90,000).

The minister also informed the house that his department spent Rs 54,62,461 on inviting the artistes and their travel expenditure while the bill for artistes’ lodging and food was put at Rs 11,67,956.