International rights group urges Indian PM to repeal #sedition law #Justice


By Abu Zafar 12/21/12

 

New Delhi – An international organization, which works to promote press freedom and to defend rights of journalists worldwide, has approached the Indian authorities including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to demand the repeal of Indian sedition law.

In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister Shushil Kumar Shinde, Minister of Law and Justice Ashwani Kumar and Indian Ambassador to United States Nirupama Rao, the executive director of The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) – Joel Simon, expressed deep concern over the continuing abuse of Indian sedition law.

“CPJ calls on your government to begin taking action toward repealing the law, section 124A in the Indian penal code, which Indian lawmakers have deemed punitive and outdated,” Simon said in his letter which was sent on Tuesday.

CPJ, which compiles the annual data of journalists who suffer atrocities by the state or individuals worldwide, accused the Indian authorities of using the sedition law to threaten journalists and human rights activists.

Mentioning the case of jailed journalists cum activists Sudhir Dhawale of Mumbai and Lingaram Kodopi of Chhattisgarh, Simon said “India again appeared on CPJ’s global census of imprisoned journalists this year; of the three journalists jailed in the country, two have been charged under the sedition law”.

“There have been virtually no developments in either of the cases,” he further said.

“A landmark Supreme Court decision in 1962 held that the Indian government could not invoke a charge of sedition unless the accused incited violence through speech or action,” the letter further reads.

Referring to the case of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, the letter stated that after dropping charges of sedition from Trivedi, a group of ministers had agreed for an internal discussion in September to bring amendments in the sedition law. The then Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, in a letter to the group’s chairman, had also acknowledged that the law should be revised.

CPJ claimed that ‘a consensus has begun to emerge’ among lawmakers in India about the certain need for the revision of sedition law.

The CPJ further said that repealing the law would represent a commitment to freedom of press and protecting human rights which is associated with India’s democratic character.

The democratic countries across the globe have already repealed their sedition laws, it said.

“Action is urgently needed in India. We ask that your government begin formulating a timeline to repeal the sedition law, and call on you to ensure that the sedition charges are dropped in the cases of Dhawale and Kodopi,” CJP concluded.

Why Does Media Want to Give #DelhigangRape survivor a Name? #Vaw #reporting


Why Does Media Want to Give Delhi Rape Victim a Name?

First Post, News Analysis, Sandip Roy, Posted: Dec 24, 2012, http://newamericamedia.org
One newspaper calls her Nirbhaya. A television channel calls her Amanat. Or Damini. The 23-year-old rape victim is undergoing a rebirth of sorts in the media.

The reasons are perfectly high minded. The names are carefully chosen, laden with the values of Sister Courage and trust.

“She has come to symbolise rare courage, an inspiration for a movement demanding respect for women and much more. Such a symbol deserves a name. We will henceforth call her NIRBHAYA (the Fearless One)” writes TOI.

But the 23-year-old in that hospital bed already has a name. Does she want another name foisted on her? At a time when every day she is trying to retake control over her life and her vital functions, inch by painful inch, what must it feel like to know that a newspaper or a television channel has on its own re-christened her?

A name is a huge part of your identity. That’s why parents spend so much time in choosing a name for their child. That’s why there are entire books about baby names. The purpose of anonymity was never to create the empty space for a ‘name-the-victim’ competition. The victim has become a symbol for so many in India but like the unknown soldier, some of her power lies in not knowing her name. The act of naming ironically erases that, even if it is meant to honour her.

This was, and remains, a gangrape that took place on a bus in Delhi, plain and simple. It’s not the ‘Amanat’ gangrape. Or the Nirbhaya gangrape. It’s disconcerting to see headlines like “Support grows for Nirbhaya” or references to her as Nirbhaya without even quotes around the name. It’s as if that is her name now. Why should media have that kind of power? It’s strange to think that a name that is not her own will now become a Google search term for this young woman.

That’s what’s troubling about the media’s rush to give her a name. It is because we are just unable to write stories about people without naming them? Does she need a name because otherwise she cannot become a slogan – Damini tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare sath hain (struggle Damini, we are with you)? Is it because it makes it easier to write shorter headlines? Or is this lofty rhetoric some kind of a reflexive defense action because as media we are so terribly implicated in the sexual objectification of women – filling our pages every day with gratuitous pictures of women in come-hither undress? The question remains: What’s in a name? Does she need a name? Or is it the media that needs a name for her? Are we just plain uneasy with namelessness?

If the young woman at the centre of this decides that indeed she wants to come out and be known, that’s her choice. But all we know until now is that her family has requested that media do not come to them looking for interviews and reactions. Given that, this act of naming feels like a sideways maneuver to thrust an identity on the victim whether or not she wants it.

Actually until this point one of the few good things that came out of this horrendous story was the media’s reaction to it. For a change, the media seemed more preoccupied with the rapists than with the victim. I remember the Park Street rape case in Kolkata and how many stories were published about the victim’s personal life, her family history. Rape by media is too extreme a term but there was certainly some stripping by media that was happening in the name of reportage. The absconding rapists did not get that much media glare.

This case has felt different in very welcome ways.

Right from the get go, the focus has been on the perpetrators. Television reporters went to their slum and talked to neighbours. Journalists trudged to far away villages to track down their parents. More and more details have emerged about the family stories behind the men, their schooling, their jobs, what they had for dinner that terrible night. We know now how one was called Mental because of his propensity for violence, that one was a minor, a runaway who slept on the bus, that another was a gym attendant.

We can argue whether it’s intrustive to thrust microphones into the faces of poor bewildered villagers and ask if their sons should hanged. But as Salil Tripathi writes in The Mint the media glare should definitely not be on the woman.

I don’t want to know where she lives. I don’t want to know details of what was done to her. I don’t want to know her friend’s name, or where he works, what he wants to do with his life, and where they live. I don’t want to know if they had gone out the first time or many times. I don’t want to know if they were active in the social media, nor to see their Facebook pages, their Tweets, their Orkut profiles, or recollections from their friends. 
I don’t want to know if she had boyfriends before. I don’t want to know if they had a favourite restaurant or what she likes to eat.

Let’s not deny it. As a culture, we have a prurient interest in exactly all those details. And the media, in the name of giving us what we want, has been happy to supply us with much of that.

If this 23-year-old is able to shame the media into changing its culture that is very welcome indeed.

But the media needs to remember the power of this young woman is not because she is Nirbhaya or Amanat. Those are names that retroactively give her special powers. What happened to her has resonated so sharply is because she was not special. She was just an ordinary nameless woman who boarded a bus to go home after watching a film. We can all relate to that. We should leave it that way.

She does not have a name, not because she lacks one, but because its absence reminds us again and again about the horror of what happened to her. Sometimes there is power in namelessness beyond the privacy issue. It allows her to be anybody. And it allows everybody to put themselves in her place.

#India- Legal rights of a #Rape survivor #Vaw #mustshare


rape11

Manoj Mitta TNN
New Delhi: In its extensive coverage of the gang rape, the media has largely refrained from naming the victim and her male friend. In the case of the friend, who has also been seriously injured, the media restraint in identifying him is entirely voluntary. But the restraint shown in the case of the victim is because of a legal bar backed with sanctions.
Here’s a quick look at the special rights conferred on rape victims by various laws: Section 228A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) imposes a blanket ban on the disclosure of the name of the rape victim. Even if it happens to be mentioned in the FIR, anybody publicizing her name is liable to be punished with imprisonment up to two years.
The Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) contains a special provision, Section 164A, to ensure that the victim is medically examined within 24 hours of the receipt of the information of the rape. Though it is meant for collecting evidence, the law stipulates that the examination cannot be done without her consent. T

his gives the victim the option  of not being subjected to tests, for whatever reason. On the other hand, Section 53(1) of CrPC empowers state authorities to use force for the medical examination of the accused person.
Where the accused is in a position of trust or authority over the victim (in police custody, jail, hospital, etc), Section 114A of the Indian Evidence Act says on the question whether the sexual act was consensual or not, her word will be taken at face value. As per the mandate of this provision, if “she states in her evidence before the court that she did not consent, the court shall presume that she did not consent.”
Though the principle of fairness requires a trial to be held in an open court, Section 327(2) of CrPC lays down that in rape cases the judicial proceedings “shall be conducted in camera”. It adds that it shall not be lawful for anybody to publish any matter related to such proceedings “except with the previous permission of the court”.
In the event of a gang rape, the victim is spared the burden of making specific allegations against all the accused. For, an explanation inserted in Section 376 IPC says that where a woman is raped by two or more persons “each of the persons shall be deemed to have committed gang rape”.

#INDIA- Can’t Take Forest Land for Projects Without Forest Dwellers’ Consent #goodnews #mustshare


On December 7th, the Minister for Tribal Affairs sent a second letter to the Minister for Environment and Forests.  He reiterated that, under the Forest Rights Act, no forest land can be taken for any project without the consent of the affected people.  We are circulating this letter because it again is a useful and clear statement of what both law and justice require.

In this context he particularly asks the Environment Ministry to strictly implement its own order of August 3rd, 2009,  which says that no forest land can be diverted until 1) the gram sabhas (village assemblies) of the affected area pass resoltuions consenting to it; and 2) the same gram sabhas issue certificates saying that the FRA has been fully implemented.  You can find a copy of the order and some other details here.

He also again makes the point that it is completely misconceived to say that this will “delay” decisions.  He says:

” Some may argue that this will delay development projects. This logic does not appear correct. In fact it is ignoring and violating the rights of forest dwellers that will lead to delays, litigation and conflict, aside from injustice. As the Joint Parliamentary Committee (of which I was chair) said in regard to the Forest Rights Bill, forest dwellers should be part of the planning and decision making process and there is no reason to believe they will arbitrarily oppose initiatives in the public interest. We have only to witness the large number of projects in this country that are today stalled by protests and court cases to understand that “short cuts” benefit no one, in addition to being illegal. The Forest Rights Act is not “anti-development” – it is merely a measure to ensure that initiatives are taken in a democratic and transparent manner that actually benefits the people.”

He also makes a detailed legal argument for this, saying that the 2009 MoEF order only states what the FRA anyway requires.  The law is not only about recognising people’s rights but also about empowering them to manage forests.

A scanned copy of the letter is attached and is available for download from here.  A transcript and copy of the Minister’s first letter is available here.

Millat residents in fear of D-company after activist murder in #Mumbai #Dawood


Published: Monday, Dec 24, 2012, 9:30 IST
By Dilnaz Boga | Place: Mumbai

 

After RTI activist Aijaz Ahmed Khan was gunned down on December 15 near Jogger’s Park in Andheri, residents of Millat Nagar feel they have lost their pillar of support and are afraid that they will lose their homes to the underworld in the name of ‘development’.

“Members of the Dawood Ibrahim gang are trying to grab our property by forging paperwork. Khan, who was against them, had been threatened,” said a resident, on the condition of anonymity.
Residents said that in the last few months, gang members and their families have bought homes in the society and are threatening them to agree to the redevelopment plan.

A member of the Millat Nagar Core Committee for Deemed Conveyance said, “There are 15 buildings and 1,300 flats on the 17-acre plot and is estimated to cost Rs6,500 crore. Gang members who have moved in threaten us with weapons. We’ve been told that two more people will face the same fate as Khan.”

The residents have lodged complaints with the police in the past about some gang members selling cocaine in the premises. However, no action has been taken by authorities. “After Khan was shot dead, some gang members were seen hobnobbing with officers from Oshiwara police station at the scene of the crime,” said a resident. The group is thinking of holding a meeting with the police commissioner and minister of state for the home department RR Patil.
The police have arrested two persons in connection with the shoot-out and are on the lookout for another shooter Abrar Khan, who is said to have links in Dubai.

Joint commissioner of police Himanshu Roy said, “The investigation is in progress and it would be premature for me to comment. We are on the lookout for the prime accused and we’ll know more when we get him.

Talking #Rape – Survivors not victims, Men not Brutes #Vaw


TALKING RAPE

December 25, 2012 · by  · in Journal. http://nilanjanaroy.com/

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Survivors, not victims:

This goes beyond semantics. The rape victim, in the minds of many Indian families and some of the media, is expected to suffer a kind of death along with her rape. It is not the violence that people are thinking about, when they say “her life is over”, of a rape victim; it’s the fact that she was stripped, exposed to strangers, and in their terms, dishonoured by the sexual assault. There is also a commercial devaluation: in families that see women as property, this woman, the rape victim, has suddenly been reduced to a person of no value on the marriage market.

This is very different from the reality of the rape survivor. In the best of all cases, the rape survivor is the woman who knows (or intuits) how common this kind of violent sexual assault is, and who makes the decision to move beyond shame, guilt, loss and everything else the world around her demands that she should now feel. The rape survivor reclaims her body, gives it the care and attention it needs, acknowledges her injuries but is not defined by them, acknowledges her rape but does not let her life be defined by an act she did not want and would have rejected if she had been allowed the choice. The rape survivor reclaims the right to be happy again, to heal, to have crazy, passionate sex again, to be interested in all that interested her before the rape, to develop new interests and passions, the right to feel whole again, the right to live fully and freely again.

The rape survivor is not necessarily just the brave woman who acknowledges her rape, tries to bring her rapists to justice, gets what help she needs and moves on with her life. The rape survivor is also the domestic worker who can’t grieve for herself and her injuries because she has to get into work the next day, the sex worker who can’t report her rape at the police station because she’ll run the risk of being raped by more policemen, the Dalit woman in Haryana who has no privacy after being violently raped because everyone in her village knows who did this to her, and how. Many rape survivors don’t have a choice in their bravery; the circumstances of their lives force upon them the basic courage it takes to get up the day after you’ve been raped and make rotis, go to office, go to the construction site where you have a hard-won job, look after the children, clean someone else’s house.

Given how commonplace sexual violence against women is, and given that we don’t expect the figures to drop drastically soon, it makes much more sense to acknowledge a basic truth—many women and some men will experience sexual violence in their lives. Instead of pretending that this is rare, or only talking about the worst instances, or talking only about how to prevent violence, important as that is, we need to talk about how to live your life well, even if you have experienced assault and violence.

We need to look at the many, many women and men who have moved on from the violence they were subjected to, and reshaped their lives; and we need to stop telling survivors that they’re on their own in this process of reconstruction. If so many women are going to experience or witness sexual violence in their lives, we also need to find ways to talk about what this does to us—we need to be able to speak openly, without fear of being judged, about our own experiences.

(I’ve said this before, but there is no acknowledgement or understanding of male rape; the ritualised sexual assault of men during college ragging rituals, for example, is normalized, seen as commonplace, the trauma rarely discussed. The male survivor of sexual violence in India is shamed and silenced in a different, but equally effective way.)

Men, not brutes:

One of the points I tried to make in a recent piece, ‘Executing The Neighbour’, was that rapists and the men behind sexual violence are not beasts, brutes or monsters. You will come across the occasional psychopath, the truly twisted horrorshow man who has a bloody chamber in his house filled with the corpses of his victims. But what we collectively find hard to accept is the banality of brutality, the unremarkable every-day quality of violence—perhaps because we are so silent about the violence that seems to run through the veins of many Indian families.

Most rapists know the women they have chosen to rape. What the NCRB statistics say, with stunning clarity, is that the average rapist is someone who is considered family, or a friend, or a neighbour, or a close acquaintance. Rape by complete strangers accounts for less than 9 per cent of all reported cases. The monster, the beast, the brute in the remaining 90 per cent of reported cases of rape across India: he’s familiar, one of us.

This is frightening to accept, just as it is frightening for people to start acknowledging that even violent rapes—the ones with the iron rods, the knifes of nightmare, the razor blades, the sharpened sticks shoved into women’s bodies—are often perpetrated by very ordinary men. The more we call rapists monsters and brutes, the less we acknowledge where rape comes from.

Equally troubling, we should not set up a hierarchy of violence and rape, where the media, and all of us, start to count bruises, start to discuss rapes in terms of competitive damage. That, in turn, diminishes the many, many rape survivors who were terrorized by the threat of force or violence, but who do not have injuries or scars to show. It diminishes all those survivors of sexual violence who never consented to what was done to them, never agreed that their bodies could be used that way, but were left without visible marks of assault.

In so many accounts of rape in India, especially, the man or men who rape have the full sanction of the community behind them. The gang rapes of women in times of communal riots; the almost ritualized rapes of Dalit women and women from lower castes because their men, or they, need to be taught a lesson; the custodial rapes, the rapes of women by men in uniform as a way of establishing dominance over the clan, the village, the community. All of these acts of violence are carried out with the approval and the collective silence of the wider community, just as child abuse(according to a 2007 survey, 53 % of Indian children of both genders have experienced child abuse) is carried out with the help of the collective silence of the family.

Most rapists are ordinary men. Many, like the politicians who have chargesheets against them, are men in positions of power and respect; or like the men who handed a woman around to be raped again and again in the Suryanelli case in Kerala, are “family men”. Perfectly ordinary. Perfectly respectable. Perfectly protected, because we don’t want to open up that can of worms; that comes too close to home.

Also: this violence has a cost. We’re not studying male violence enough, but how healthy do you think men can be if they inherit their fathers’ anger and pass it on to their sons? Perhaps this is why so many young men, in particular, are standing up and saying, Enough. Perhaps we need to hear from more men, young and old, about why they reject the rape culture around them, and why they have walked away from violence in their own lives, choosing other, better ways to live and love.

Some years ago, Sampath Pal, the founder of the Gulabi Gang, told me about how she had found the strength to start this movement of women who wore pink saris and beat up the men responsible for domestic violence. (They do broader work on a range of women’s rights issues now.) Her own passion was matched by her partner’s belief that she was right; he was ostracised by his village, and chose to support Sampath Pal rather than go back to his community.

I often think of men like him, or like Bhanwari Devi’s husband, who went with her to the police station after she was gangraped in 1992. He stood with his wife all through, rather than with the village that had first ostracised her for speaking up against child marriage, and then punished her with that chilling gangrape, the one committed with the blessings and knowledge of the community.

A few days before this December’s protests from young, urban Delhi at India Gate, the Times of India carried a small item. The Meham khap, one of the largest and most powerful of the Haryana village panchayat councils, announced that it would revert to the old methods of punishing boys and men accused of rape and sexual assault. It asked that families boycott the accused, and their families.

Perhaps this will work, perhaps not. It could, however, challenge the idea that the rape survivor is the one who bears the shame of the rape. Nor is the Meham khap’s decision a sudden flash-in-the-pan—over the last few years, Meham’s citizens appear to have expressed a collective anger over rising instances of sexual assault against women. The khaps have been in the news for more controversial pronouncements—bans on mobile phones for women, on various grounds, restrictions on meetings between young men and women—but the Meham khap’s decision signals some change.

Religion and tradition:

 If the family is one major site of change, religion and tradition form the other front. Religions can empower women—take Sikhism, the first major world religion to proclaim that women were equal to men, with souls of equal weight—but religious practice is another matter. If we’re serious about “stopping rape”—making sexual violence against women unacceptable, then one way to start might be to reject traditions and practices that denigrate women.

If your religion tells you that women must fast for men, but men don’t have to fast for women; that women are not welcome as leaders of the faith, or in the shrines and sanctums of faith; that women count for less than men, do not accept this blindly as a matter of duty. Every major world religion has gone through cycles of reform, and the lines of control have often shifted. Embrace that part of your faith which tells you to celebrate the strength of women and their equality with men; do not accept any prescription from any faith that tells you that a woman’s basic human rights are less important than religious practice.

The same applies to tradition, which has been used to justify everything from dowry to honour killings. The simple test for anything that is said to be the custom of the country: does it humiliate women? Does it threaten their wellbeing or their safety or their lives? If so, don’t support it.

Protesting injustice, expressing anger: these are important. But if Honey Singh’s vile pro-rape lyrics and Bollywood’s continued packaging of women’s bodies aren’t challenged as well, there’s little point to holding up placards asking for change and justice. Yes, the government and the state must change; but it can’t be only the government, only the state.

If you really want a system to change, start by changing the way women are treated every day, in their homes, in their workplaces, by their families. That kind of revolution, in our daily lives and behaviours, is much harder to bring about than passing a law, or setting up fast-track courts. It’s also more lasting.

 

#India- Why there are so few senior Dalit bureaucrats


Vinay Sitapati , Indian Express

Since they are in the bottom half of the merit list of the UPSC exam, they are likely to be under-represented in senior government service decades later

Here’s a fact you can’t tear up in Parliament. It provides the basis for the current constitutional amendment bill providing quotas in promotions for Dalits and tribals in government service. Despite six decades of entry-level quotas, there are few Dalit senior officers. By one count, of around 88 secretary-level posts in the Central government, not one is filled by a Dalit. Systemic discrimination, allege its proponents. Is that the only explanation for this “fact”?

To begin with, who appoints officers to senior posts? In the last decade or so, it is well known that ministers, not senior bureaucrats judging their own, choose key bureaucrats. Central secretaries (after empanelment) are often chosen by the concerned minister. It seems schizophrenic for politicians to systematically discriminate against Dalits and tribal officers, yet overwhelmingly vote for a law to correct this.

This “fact” is also a partial picture. As the submissions before the court argued, anecdotal evidence suggests Dalits are well represented in the state (as opposed to Central) bureaucracy. It is hard to read meaning into this without comprehensive data — something the courts asked for and the government refused to provide.

During the Constituent Assembly debates in the late 1940s, no one questioned the grievous historic injustice meted out to Dalits and tribals. An independent India agreed to inherit that sin. The logical solution was a strong state that protected these groups from discrimination, providing them quality schooling, health and opportunity. But the flailing Indian state was not capable of “delivering” real social justice so quickly. Reservations were a second-best solution. Since the state could not, in a generation, correct the inequities of the past, reservations would correct caste prejudice within the state, and create a Dalit middle class. These thousands of jobs and college seats were important; but they were (and are) no substitute for more essential social justice — providing succour to the millions of deprived Dalits and tribals outside of the state.

It is catastrophic to admit now, 60 years later, that far from preventing discrimination against Dalits outside the narrow confines of the state, the Indian government has been unable to protect Dalit officers within the state. That is what the bill implies. Fortunately, this is not true. Since Independence, Dalits have been empowered within the state — through quotas and powerful political parties. Overwhelming political support for the constitutional amendment is proof of this. Yet, Dalits and tribals remain the poorest, most discriminated, least literate Indians outside of the state. This then, is the 21st century consequence of what B.R. Ambedkar alluded to half-a-century ago: “in politics, we will have equality, and in social and economic life we will have inequality”.

What then explains why there are, in some cases, so few senior government officers who are Dalit?

Let me suggest one. In any organisation, those who are towards the top of an entrance exam are more likely to rise to the top, compared to the bottom half. Our cabinet secretaries and foreign secretaries have typically been those nearer the top of the UPSC examination when they first joined. Even those at the bottom of the general list in the UPSC struggle to make it as Central secretaries. This is a trend seen in entrance exams everywhere. Those towards the top of an engineering or medical college entrance test tend to leave college at the top of the pile. Why should government be any different? Since Dalits and tribals are at the bottom of the merit list (since most avail of quotas), they are likely to be under-represented in senior government service decades later. Add to this the problem that since age restrictions are relaxed for them, Dalits and tribals officers tend to enter service older, retiring before reaching senior posts.

Is this fair? Of course not. But the real tragedy is not why there are so few Dalits and tribals in senior government posts. It is why, 60 years after Independence, so few of them make it to the top of the general list. The answer is blindingly clear. So little government money (and frankly, the energy of social justice advocates) is spent on improving public schools, colleges and scholarships — the surest way for historically marginalised groups to overcome the lack of social capital back home.

This is only a hypothesis. But it offers a compelling counter to the claim, made without any systematic evidence, that the seeming absence of Dalits in top bureaucratic posts is, of itself, evidence of discrimination.

The bill does more than divert attention from social justice. It hurts the only force (apart from the market) with the ability to improve the condition of Dalits and tribals: the state. Bureaucracy 101, since first written by Max Weber, dictates that efficient organisations have to be hierarchical and internally meritocratic. This is intuitive: if your junior or peer becomes your boss solely on the basis of identity, how likely are you to perform? By making the state the site of social justice, instead of the vehicle for social justice, the interests of the marginalised are harmed most.

Are those few politicians opposing the bill mouthing these liberal and socially just arguments? Well, Exhibit A is the Shiv Sena, about the most illiberal party in Indian history. Exhibit B is the Samajwadi Party, whose member tore a copy of the bill in Parliament. Mulayam Singh Yadav, more than any other, grasps the bill’s cynical aim. The current amendment is in response to a court judgment invalidating a law passed by Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh. Her BSP owes its origins to Dalit government officers such as Kanshi Ram, who first organised within the bureaucracy, then floated a political party outside. Dalit bureaucrats are the feeder service into Dalit politics. For Mulayam, this Bill will empower his opponent in his home state — and for that reason alone, his Lohiaite backward caste party will tear a pro-reservation bill. When illiberal and cynical laws are opposed by illiberal and cynical people, democracy’s doom is not far.

The writer is a lawyer and doctoral candidate at Princeton University, US

 

The Anthem Of The Helpless #poetry


 
There’s a girl fighting for her life
In a hospital room.
While in the street the constables scratch their balls.
And some policemen chase bribes
And others try to do their jobs and usually fail.
Everybody’s on the take and everyone steals from the public.
“What’s wrong with me doing it, everyone does it?”
Leaders see nothing wrong with leading this farce.
And still claiming to be leaders.
If men chase a woman on the street,
taunting her, it’s her problem,
or the problem of anyone brave or
stupid enough to get involved.
Because we live under the rule of a state that won’t protect us
and won’t get out of the way.
So anyone who stands up to this state
No matter why and no matter how
They stand up for that girl
Because we have suffered, she has suffered, and more will die
as long as we live like this
without self-respect
under this half-rule of half-competent and full-corrupt.
Sweep them all away – all – get rid of those grand Raj buildings.
Storm not just Vijay Chowk and India Gate.
Storm the half-acre plots of Lutyens Delhi with crowbars
Take down the windows, smash the bricks.
Lay this vicious, callous, senseless raj in ruins.
Let’s not rest until the police are in flight
The government buildings are smoking ruins
And there is a new deal for the people of India
A new deal 
A new police force
A new government
New rules
New staff
New salaries
New regulations
New zero-tolerance laws against anti-social behaviour
New laws against corrupt policemen and officials.
Nothing of the old world that allowed this to happen.
No peace until then.
No peace until we and our children and our mothers and our sisters are safe.
No peace until Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and Shinde and Manmohan Singh
And Sushma Swaraj and Mamata Bannerjee and Narendra Modi
And every other dung beetle that profited from this shit heap called
The Government of India
Has been crushed up into manure 
And forgotten.
Forever.
No peace until then.

…By Morpoant Tambe

 

Maruti Suzuki won’t take back sacked workers


 , TNN | Dec 25, 2012
NEW DELHIMaruti Suzuki has said it has no intention of taking back any of the 500-odd workers sacked for the July 18 carnage at its Manesar plant even as the Haryana Police has charged only around 150 workers.

Maruti chairman R C Bhargava has said that the company will not take them back as it has eyewitness accounts that all of them were involved in the July 18 rampage at Manesar, which left one senior manager dead and nearly 100 injured. “If people took part in violent activities, how do I take them back? They were part of the mob.”

The company went in for the mass layoffs after accumulating evidence against the workers. “It was done after a careful scrutiny. We have eyewitness accounts of our managers and supervisors who were attacked,” the company chairman said.

Maruti’s refusal to take back any of the fired staff is, however, objected to by the company’s labour union, which has been demanding the re-instatement of a majority , especially after they were not even named in the chargesheet filed by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed to probe the matter.

“While the fate of those named by the police in its chargesheet will be decided by the court, there is no logic of not taking back the others. We see them as innocent and demand that the company take them back immediately,” said Kuldeep Jhangu, the general secretary of the company’s Gurgaon plant union Maruti Udyog Kamgar Union (MUKU).

MUKU had also raised the matter with Suzuki chairman Osamu Suzuki when he had visited India in the aftermath of the incident. However, the company had not given any assurance on the matter.

Maruti Suzuki has also raised doubts over the findings of the SIT probe, which had said the violent events at the plant were not instigated from outside, but were due to internal issues between the management and workers.

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Cash Transfers and UID: Essential Demands


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

We support cash transfers such as old age pensions, widow pensions, maternity entitlements and scholarships. However, we oppose the government’s plan for accelerated mass conversion of welfare schemes to UID-driven cash transfers. This plan could cause havoc and massive social exclusion. We demand the following:

 

 

1. No replacement of food with cash under the Public Distribution System.

 

 

The PDS is a vital source of economic security and nutrition support for millions of people. It should be expanded and consolidated, not dismantled.

 

 

2. Immediate enactment of a comprehensive National Food Security Act, including universal PDS.

 

 

Instead of diverting the public’s attention with promises of mass cash transfers before the 2014 elections, the government should redeem its promise to enact a National Food Security Act (NFSA).

 

 

3. Cash transfers should not substitute for public services.

 

 

While some cash transfer schemes are useful, they should complement, notsubstitute for the provision of public services such as health care, school education, water supply, basic amenities, and the PDS. These services remain grossly under-funded.

 

 

4. Expand and improve appropriate cash transfers without waiting for UID.

 

 

There is no need to wait for UID to expand and improve positive cash transfer schemes such as pensions, scholarships and maternity entitlements. For instance, social security pensions should be increased and universalized.

 

 

5. No UID enrolment without a legal framework.

 

 

Millions of people are being enrolled for UID without any legal safeguards. The UIDAI’s draft bill has been rejected by a parliamentary standing committee. UID enrolment should be halted until a sound legal framework is in place.

 

 

6. All UID applications should be voluntary, not compulsory.

 

 

UID should never be a condition for anyone to access any entitlements or public services. A convenient alternative should always be available.

 

 

7. UID should be kept out of the PDS, NREGA and other essential entitlement programmes for the time being.

 

 

Essential services are not a suitable field of experimentation for a highly centralised and uncertain technology. Other applications (e.g. to tax evasion) should be tried first.

 

 

Explanatory Note:

 

Why we Oppose the Rush to Cash Transfers and UID

 

 

We support cash transfers such as old age pensions, widow pensions, maternity entitlements and scholarships. In fact, many of us have been part of struggles to expand social security pensions and improve their delivery. We also support appropriate, people-friendly uses of modern technology for this purpose.

 

 

However, we have serious reservations about the government’s rush to link these cash transfers to “Aadhaar”, the unique identity (UID) number. This is because the linking of these schemes can cause huge disruption – think of an old man who is currently getting his pension from the local post office, but will now have to run around getting his “UID-enabled” bank account activated and then may find his pension held up by fingerprints problems, connectivity issues, power failures, truant “business correspondents”, and what not.

 

 

We are also firmly opposed to the introduction of cash transfers in lieu of food and other commodities supplied through the Public Distribution System, for many reasons. One, subsidized food from the PDS is a source of food and economic security for millions of poor families. In 2009-10, implicit transfers from the PDS wiped out about one fifth of the “poverty gap” at the national level, and close to one half of it in states like Tamil Nadu and Chhattisgarh. Recent experience also shows that it is possible to further revamp and reform the PDS without delay.

 

 

Two, the banking system in rural areas is not ready to handle large volumes of small transfers. Banks are often far and overcrowded. The alleged solution, banking correspondents, is fraught with problems. Post offices could possibly be converted into useful payment agencies, but this will take time.

 

 

Three, rural markets are often poorly developed. Dismantling the PDS would disrupt the flow of food across the country and put many people at the mercy of local traders and middlemen.

 

 

Four, there are concerns of special groups such as single women, disabled persons and the elderly who cannot easily move around to withdraw their cash and buy food from distant markets.

 

 

Last but not least, inflation could easily erode the purchasing power of cash transfers. When the government refuses to index pensions or NREGA wages, how can it be trusted to index cash transfers to the price level? Even if some indexation does happen, small delays or gaps in price information could cause significant hardship for poor people.

 

 

The Kotkasim fiasco is a telling example of the potentially disruptive effects of inappropriate cash transfer schemes. The experiment was launched with much fanfare and immediately projected as a “stunning success” based on the fact that kerosene subsidy expenditure had declined by 80%, but in fact, the main reason for this decline was the collapse of the entire kerosene distribution system.

 

 

An impression has been created that the government is all set to launch UID-enabled cash transfers on a mass scale before the 2014 elections. This is very misleading, and looks like an attempt to make people rush to UID enrolment centres. This announcement also diverts attention from the government’s failure to enact a National Food Security Act. The food security bill, very weak in the first place, has been languishing with a Standing Committee for a whole year. Meanwhile, food stocks are accumulating on an unprecedented scale. The need of the hour is a comprehensive National Food Security Act, not a potentially disruptive rush for UID-driven cash transfers.

 

 

List of Signatories

 

  1. Sunil Abraham, Centre for Internet and Society

  2. Pushpa Achanta, Writer

  3. Bina Agarwal, Professor, Institute of Economic Growth

  4. Samantha Agarwal, Activist, Raipur

  5. Ankita Aggarwal, Researcher, New Delhi

  6. Ashutosh Agrawal, Student

  7. Anivar Aravind, Entrepreneur, Technology Manager

  8. Chirashree Das Gupta, Ambedkar University

  9. Indu Agnihotri, Director, Centre for Women’s Development Studies

  10. Sohail Akbar, Associate Professor, Jamia Milia Islamia

  11. Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, United Theological College Bangalore

  12. Janki Andharia, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  13. Sadhna Arya, University of Delhi and Saheli Women’s Resource Centre

  14. K.V. Nagesh Babu, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  15. Amiya Kumar Bagchi, Vice Chancellor, Tripura University

  16. Megha Bahl Student, Faculty of Law, University of Delhi

  17. Arindam Banerjee, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  18. Arindam Banerjee, Assistant Professor, Ambedkar University

  19. Sreshtha Banerjee, Social Activist

  20. Sanjay (Xonzoi) Barbora, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Guwahati)

  21. Kripa Basnyat, PWESCR, Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  22. Moushumi Basu, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  23. Akansha Batra, Junior Research Fellow, Indian Statistical Institute

  24. Anjali Bhardwaj, Satark Nagrik Sangathan

  25. Bharat Bhatti, Student, Ambedkar University

  26. Kiran Bhatty, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research

  27. Praful Bidwai, Journalist

  28. Ramila Bisht, Associate Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  29. Arudra Burra

  30. Kathyayini Chamaraj, Journalist

  31. C.P. Chandrashekhar, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  32. Sarika Chaturvedi, Ph D scholar, Karolinska Institute, Sweden

  33. Aheli Chowdhury, JOSH, Delhi

  34. Arati Choksi, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Bangalore

  35. Gowru Chinnapa, Bangalore

  36. Priti Darooka, PWESCR, Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  37. Jitu Das, Alghanim Industries

  38. Asit Das

  39. Anirban Dasgupta, South Asia University

  40. Jashodhara Dasgupta, National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights

  41. Saurav Datta

  42. Ashwini Deshpande, Professor, Delhi School of Economics

  43. Ritu Dewan, Mumbai University

  44. Nikhil Dey, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

  45. Harish Dhawan, Associate Professor in Economics, University of Delhi

  46. Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements

  47. Gabriele Dietrich, National Alliance of People’s Movements

  48. Sarah Dobinson, PWESCR Programme on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

  49. Jean Drèze, Visiting Professor, Allahabad University

  50. Ajit Eapen

  51. Warisha Farasat, Lawyer

  52. Jayati Ghosh, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  53. Kaveri Gill, Independent researcher

  54. S. S. Gill,  Director General, CRRID, Chandigarh

  55. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, Journalist

  56. Aashish Gupta, Research Assistant, Allahabad University

  57. Ruchi Gupta, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information

  58. Zoya Hasan, Professor, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  59. Neeraj Hatekar, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Mumbai

  60. Rohini Hensman, Independent scholar and author

  61. Himanshu, Assistant Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  62. Danish Husain, Actor

  63. Indira C, Researcher Public Health, Delhi

  64. Kaveri Rajaraman Indira, Concern, Indian Institute of Science

  65. Jaya Iyer, Khadya Nyaya Abhiyan

  66. Devaki Jain

  67. K.P. Jayasankar, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  68. Praveen Jha, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  69. Sadan Jha, Assistant Professor, Centre for Social Studies, Surat

  70. Ravinder Jha, Miranda House, University of Delhi

  71. Rajiv Jha, Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi

  72. Amrita Johri, Satark Nagrik Sangathan

  73. Sunny Jose, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  74. Aleesha Mary Joseph, Student, St. Stephen’s College

  75. Deep Joshi

  76. Vijay Lakshmi Joshi, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

  77. K. P. Kannan, Chairman, Lawry Baker Institute of Habitat Studies, Thiruvantanthapuram

  78. Anirban Kar, Associate Professor, Delhi School of Economics

  79. Ashok Khandelwal, Economist

  80. Madhulika Khanna, Researcher, New Delhi

  81. Sushil Khanna, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

  82. Reetika Khera, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

  83. Asha Kilaru, Public Health Researcher, Bangalore

  84. Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh

  85. Subasri Krishnan, Filmmaker

  86. Kavita Krishnan, CPI(ML) Liberation

  87. Abhay Kumar, Karnataka

  88. Richa Kumar, Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

  89. Awanish Kumar, Ph.D. Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  90. Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements

  91. A.K. Shiva Kumar, Economist

  92. Lawrence Liang, Alternative Law Forum

  93. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Advocate

  94. Neeraj Malik, University of Delhi

  95. Anubhuti Maurya, Bharati College, University of Delhi

  96. Surajit Mazumdar

  97. Indrani Mazumdar, Centre for Women’s Development Studies

  98. Bhanwar Meghvanshi, Dalit Adivasi Aur Ghumantu Adhikar Abhiyan, Rajasthan

  99. Subhash Mendhapurkar, SUTRA, Himachal Pradesh

  100. Aggie Menezes, Associate Professor, St Xavier’s College

  101. Mira Mehta, Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland

  102. Kalpana Mehta, Manasi Swasthya Sansthan, Indore

  103. Ritambhara Mehta, Independent Researcher

  104. Nivedita Menon, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  105. Rajkishore Mishra, Orissa

  106. Srijith Mishra, Associate Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

  107. Gautam Mody, Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative

  108. Mritiunjoy Mohanty, Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

  109. Sanat Mohanty, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

  110. Anjali Monteiro, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  111. Vipul Mudgal, Inclusive Media for Change, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies

  112. Prakriti Mukerjee, Yoda Press

  113. Poonam Muttreja, Population Foundation of India

  114. Tithi Nandy, Healthwatch Forum Uttar Pradesh

  115. R. Nagaraj, Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

  116. Farah Naqvi, Writer and Activist

  117. Sudha Narayanan, Assistant Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

  118. Rajendran Narayanan, Visiting Scientist, Indian Statistical Institute

  119. Arvind Narrain, Alternative Law Forum

  120. Saboohi Nasim, Assistant Professor, Aligarh Muslim University

  121. Balaji Narsimhan

  122. Nandini Nayak, School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London

  123. P. Niranjana, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  124. V.P. Niranjanaradhya, National Law School of India University

  125. Claire Noronha, Collaborative Research and Dissemination

  126. Madhurima Nundy, Institute of Chinese Studies

  127. Gangaram Paikra, Right to Food Campaign, Chhattisgarh

  128. Parthapratim Pal, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta

  129. Sandeep Pandey, National Alliance of People’s Movements

  130. Soma Kishore Parthasarathy, PhD scholar, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

  131. Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements

  132. Prabhat Patnaik, Retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  133. Utsa Patnaik, Retired Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  134. Boban V. Paul, NGO professional

  135. Pamela Philipose, Director, Women’s Features Services

  136. Neetha Pillai, Senior Fellow, Centre for Women’s Development Studies

  137. Dr Prabir, Independent Consultant, West Bengal

  138. Pranesh Prakash, Law and Policy Researcher

  139. Mythri Prasad, Researcher, French Institute of Pondicherry

  140. T. V. H. Prathamesh, Research Scholar, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

  141. Raghav Puri, Independent Researcher

  142. Pushpendra, Director, Centre for Social Studies, Surat

  143. Kalyani Raghunathan, Ph.D. Scholar, Cornell University

  144. Annie Raja, National Federation of Indian Women

  145. Jawahar Raja, Advocate, Delhi

  146. Suvrat Raju, Reader, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Mumbai

  147. R. Ramakumar, Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

  148. Kannama Raman, Associate Professor, University of Mumbai

  149. Usha Ramanathan, Legal Researcher

  150. Ashish Ranjan, Birla Institute of Technology, Patna

  151. Bharat Rastogi, Graduate student, University of California Santa Barbara

  152. Savitri Ray, FORCES Network, Centre for Women’s Development Studies

  153. Mohan Rao, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  154. E. Rati Rao, People’s Union for Civil Liberties Karnataka

  155. Vidya Rao, Jain Vishva Bharati Institute, Rajasthan

  156. D. Narsimha Reddy, Chair Professor, NIRD, Hyderabad

  157. Rammanohar Reddy, Editor, Economic and Political Weekly

  158. Dr. K. Srinath Reddy

  159. Ira Regmi, Student, Lady Shri Ram College for Women

  160. Rohit, Assistant Professor, South Asia University

  161. Aruna Roy, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

  162. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre Sahyogi, Patna

  163. Preeti Sampat, Independent Researcher

  164. Meera Samson, Collaborative Research and Dissemination

  165. Sunil D. Santha, Assistant Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  166. Radha Kant Saxena, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

  167. Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai

  168. S. Seshan

  169. Sudeshna Sengupta, Mobile Crèches

  170. Mitu Sengupta, Centre for Human Development and Human Rights, New Delhi

  171. Prem Krishan Sharma, President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan

  172. Saurabh Sharma, JOSH, Delhi

  173. Veena Shatrugna, Former Deputy Director, National Institute of Nutrition

  174. Jeevika Shiv

  175. Dr. Mira Shiva, Initiative for Health & Equity in Society

  176. Rama Shyam, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  177. Aditya Shrivastava, Advocate

  178. Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan

  179. Bhanwar Singh, Astha

  180. Mahipal Singh, National Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

  181. Paramjeet Singh, People’s Union for Democratic Rights

  182. Surjit Singh, Director, Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur

  183. Dipa Sinha, Ph.D. Scholar, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  184. Shantha Sinha, National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights

  185. Ahmed Sohaib, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association

  186. Gautam Sonti

  187. Vivek Srinivasan, Stanford University

  188. Nisha Srivastava, University of Allahabad

  189. Ravi Srivastava, Professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University

  190. Shambhavi Srivastava, Graduate student, University of British Columbia

  191. Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

  192. Sulakshana, Right to Food Campaign, Chhattisgarh

  193. Nandini Sundar, University of Delhi

  194. Mayur Suresh, Ph.D. Scholar, University of London

  195. V. Suresh, General Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

  196. Kamayani Swami, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan

  197. Padmini Swaminathan, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad

  198. M.S. Swaminathan, Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha

  199. Sharmila Tagore

  200. Krishan Takhar, People’s Union for Civil Liberties

  201. Vamsi Vakulabharanam, Reader, University of Hyderabad

  202. Padma Velaskar, Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

  203. G. Vijay, Assistant Professor, School of Economics, University of Hyderabad

  204. M. Vijayabaskar, Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai

  205. Vimochana, Forum for Women’s Rights

  206. Achin Vanaik, Retired Professor, University of Delhi

  207. Sujata Visaria, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology

  208. Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan