#India -‘Tribals turn extremists because states are too busy making money from land’


 Down to Earth
Date:Jun 13, 2013

The world’s largest democracy is facing a surge in tribal uprisings. The recent killings of Mahendra Karma and other Congress leaders in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh  has prompted the government to address issues of land dispossession and socioeconomic deprivations of tribals. These are the key issues that have been precipitating recurring violence across various parts of the country. Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Kishore Chandra Deo speaks to Sonum Gayatri Malhotra about the obstacles hindering effective governance of tribal communities in Schedule Five areas and how to overcome them. Edited excerpts from the interview

Kishore Chandra DeoKishore Chandra DeoTribals of Bastar are protesting against the provisions of the Fifth Schedule. With elections nearing, they are demanding tribal autonomy in the district as provided under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Do you think the Sixth Schedule is working better in protecting tribal rights?

The Fifth Schedule of the Constitution has no dearth of laws in protecting the tribal rights. Bastar’s demand to introduce Sixth Schedule provisions in a Fifth Schedule area is not pragmatic and is definitely not well thought through.

Hypothetically, introduction of Sixth Schedule in Fifth Schedule areas would need a statutory amendment to the Constitution. This is an interminable process. Moreover, amending the composition of the Constitution is a process that first needs to be addressed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs is relatively a new ministry, which came into existence 12 years ago. Before that, scheduled tribes came under the purview of the home ministry. Unfortunately, not all powers have been transferred to the tribal affairs ministry yet. This is a problem. I have limitations as a Union minister. I can only guide the governors of Schedule Five states to evoke their discretionary powers and inform the President of the situation.

But there is confusion over the role of governors in Schedule Five areas. In 2009, then President Pratibha Patil said that the Fifth Schedule devolves special responsibility on the governors in administering scheduled areas and ensuring peace and good governance among tribal communities. But recently, Assistant Solicitor General (ASG) Fouzia Mirza in her submission to the Bilaspur High Court said that a governor under the Fifth Schedule has no discretionary power. Based on her submission, the court dismissed a petition challenging constitutionality of the Tribes Advisory Council and powers of the governor under this schedule. Tribal rights activists have now approached the Centre seeking Presidential reference to the Supreme Court on interpretation of the Fifth Schedule.

The case was recently brought to my notice in response to letters I had sent out to all governors holding posts in Fifth Scheduled states.

The powers exercised by the governor especially under the Fifth Schedule are discretionary powers. The governor is not only the administrative and executive head of the state but also represents the Centre at the state. Fouzia Mirza has got it wrong. I am sad that an ASG, a top government official, erred on such a critical matter.

Most scholars and opposition parties also think that governors are of partisan nature, considering they have never evoked their powers given under the Fifth Schedule. Former governor of Odisha M C Bhandare had said “governors’ role constitutionally exists on paper but actually there is no existing support on ground”.

It is time governors started taking responsibility and invoked the powers which have been conferred on them under the provisions of Article 244 under the Fifth Schedule. It is time for a wake-up call. We are talking about the most marginalised sections. If the government of a state is not directing laws to benefit scheduled tribes, it is the role of the governor to intervene and set things right. When the Constitution was being framed, it was decided that a representative would ensure equality for indigenous communities that would protect them from the burgeoning globalising expansions and secure their fundamental rights. That’s why the governor is not bound by the aid and advice of the Tribes Advisory Council but can direct executive orders in his own discretion.

M C Bhandare has done wrong by not doing anything for the tribal communities of Odisha, where mining has been a critical issue. Constitutionally, the governor is to administer, legislate and execute directives for Fifth Schedule areas. Implementation of development programmes are channelled through the state department, however, the governors can direct laws for areas inhabited by scheduled tribes.

I am ready to take charge of the Fifth Schedule states that have seen governors neglecting their duties. The nodal ministry can empower to assign themselves the powers that have been conferred under the Fifth Schedule for the peace and good governance in tribal regions.

Don’t you think the contentious conflicts between ministries have only imploded to create mistrust among the tribals towards the government? In the latest such instance, the Union environment ministry headed by Jayanthi Natarajan has sought dilution of power of the gram sabha

Today, the growing mining sector is the main threat in Schedule Five areas. This has shaken the confidence and faith of the people in these regions in our democratic system. In many cases, powerful lobbies are trying to encourage mining in a flagrant violation of Constitutional provisions. The variant ideologies of ministries seem to have stemmed from market incitement. Ministries are working at cross-purposes. This is a turf war, lamentably in a social sector which is the most unfortunate.

Fifth Schedule areas in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are governed by the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act. Such areas are meant to be lightly policed. But the government’s emphasis on policing and militarism is evident. Your comment

Deployment of forces in areas inhabited by tribal communities is sending out a message that can only provoke disorder other than what is desired. Sending military or paramilitary forces to these areas will not help contain the uprisings as these are not merely law and order problems. Having said that, one should address the core issue of these uprisings; these areas do not have adequate development. Basic human amenities like food, drinking water and healthcare are lacking. It is the duty of the state government to develop the regions responsibly in accordance with the communities’ requirement.

Most people from the tribal communities end up joining extremists’ movement because the state is too busy concentrating on how to use land in the most profitable way. Lashkar-e-Toiba is funding the Naxalite Movement. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has alleged that the biggest internal threats to the country are its tribal communities. Inevitable alien militant forces triggering hostility in Fifth Schedule Areas, especially bordering states, is bound to undermine the very national integrity.

Sonum Gayatri Malhotra works with Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

 

Interviewee:
Kishore Chandra Deo

 

Protests TV won’t show Golibar Demolitions Protest. Hunger Strike for 7 days and counting


By- rapper activist,  Ashwini Mishra

43 families living in Ganesh Kripa Society lost their homes in the first week of April in the illegal Golimar demolitions. The demolitions, driven by Shivalik Builders continued even after Union Minister of Housing Ajay Maken requested the Maharashtra CM to stop them. These demolitions have been driven by a huge scam and the demolitions were supposed to be stopped till investigation was completed.

As of now 43 families are now living on the Maidan but their spirit remains strong. At time of this video, they along with Medha Patkar have been fasting for 5 days to protest the illegal demolitions. By law the builders have to provide the residents alernative accomodations. But no such action has been taken. Stand in solidarity with the people of Golibar and protest this brutal denial of housing rights of the poor.

Amnesty wants #deathpenalty removed from anti-rape law


TNN | Mar 16, 2013,

Amnesty wants death penalty removed from anti-rape law
Amnesty International has urged the government to remove death penalty as a form of punishment from the anti-rape bill.
NEW DELHI: A day after the Union Cabinet approved the anti-rape lawAmnesty International has expressed reservations on the proposed legislation, demanding that provisions like death penalty and immunity for forces under AFSPA be done away with while including marital rape.Several contentious provisions that were part of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance have been retained in the new bill, like exclusion of marital rape and including death penalty for rapists-murderers and rapists who are repeat offenders.The human rights organization is in favour of age of consent being lowered to 16 years. In its recommendations, AI said Parliament should eliminate sanctions on consensual sexual activities between adolescents, while protecting all children against sexual abuse. “The law should protect the additional rights of alleged perpetrators under the age of 18 as stipulated in international standards,” it said in a statement advocating protection of juveniles’ rights.

Amnesty also said the Indian Penal Code should reflect the different forms of violence against women in a comprehensive manner by removing the exception for sexual assault by a husband.

The organization urged the government to remove death penalty as a form of punishment from the bill. It said Indian law should clarify that persons sentenced to life imprisonment for violence against women are allowed the same opportunity for executive/judicial review of their sentence as other prisoners in India. The law must also clearly eliminate sentences of life without the possibility for release for offences committed by persons under the age of 18.

#India- Proposed criminal law makes acid attack, voyerism ,stalking criminal offences #Vaw


 

 

Cabinet clears Bill to tackle crimes against women

 

 

A man plays the guitar during a protest against the Dec 16 Delhi gangrape.A man plays the guitar during a protest against the Dec 16 Delhi gangrape.
A man plays the guitar during a protest against the Dec 16 Delhi gangrape.

 

 Agencies, march 14, 2013

 

 

A Bill providing for stringent punishment for crimes against women, including rape, and also defining acid attack, stalking and voyeurism as criminal offences, was today cleared by the Union Cabinet.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2013 also lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years and makes ‘rape’ as a gender-specific offence under which men only can be charged for it.

The Bill, brought against the backdrop of the December 16 Delhi gangrape, provides for minimum jail term of 20 years for rape which may be extended to ‘natural life’ of the convict in jail.

There is also provision for death sentence if the victim dies or is left in a ‘persistent vegetative state‘.

Stalking, voyeurism have been defined as criminal offences in the bill. Sustained stalking will be a non-bailable offence.

The Bill had divided the Cabinet at its special meeting on Tuesday and was referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) to sort out differences on various aspects of the proposed law.

The GoM finalised the draft yesterday amidst the government’s keenness to expedite the bill that will replace an ordinance promulgated on February 3.

The bill uses the term ‘rape’ which will be gender- specific, in contrast to the gender-neutral ‘sexual assault’ as proposed in the ordinance.

The bill also lowers the age of consent for sex from 18 to 16 years. In the ordinance, it was 18 years.

The measure, on the lines of the ordinance, has not touched on the issue of making marital rape a separate offence.

Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath, who has been opposed to lowering the age of consent to 16 years, is learnt to have raised the issue again in today’s Cabinet meeting, sources said.

The issue of age had led to lengthy inter-ministry consultations with some arguing that it should not be reduced.

Sexual intercourse below the age of consent is considered statutory rape.

The government decided to drop the term ‘sexual assault’ and replace it with ‘rape’ following demands by women’s rights groups who had maintained that laws should be more gender sensitive than gender neutral.

Defining acid attack as a separate IPC offence, the bill proposes a punishment of not less than 10 years to a maximum of life imprisonment, the sources said.

Repeat offences of voyeurism, inappropriate touch, gesture and remarks have been recommended as non-bailable offences, they said.

Provisions seeking strong action against those filing false complaints were dropped from the draft bill yesterday as there was consensus in the GoM that existing provisions under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were adequate to deal with such cases and it was only a matter of enforcing them, the sources said.

The other proposal in the measure is understood to be on replacing the provision in the ordinance which has prescribed life imprisonment as the maximum punishment for those in authority committing rape. Now, a person in authority convicted of rape will have to spend rest of his “natural life” in jail.

A person in authority has been described as a police officer, a personnel of the armed forces, a doctor or a staffer of a hospital, a jailer or a warden of a remand home.

A fresh proposal now makes it mandatory for all government and private hospitals in the country to provide free medical treatment to women victims of any form of sexual violence.

Hospitals and similar facilities will not have to wait for the police. They can straight away start treatment after informing the police.

The refusal to do so will now be a criminal offence and will attract a one-year jail term for senior functionaries and the staff on duty of hospitals found guilty of turning away victims of sexual violence needing immediate medical care.

The bill has to be approved by Parliament before its recess from March 22, failing which the ordinance it proposes to replace would lapse on April 4.

Against the backdrop of some parties such as the Samajwadi Party having serious reservations on certain provisions of the ordinance claiming they are prone to misuse, the government has convened an all-party meeting next week to discuss the bill cleared by the Cabinet today.

 

 

 

 

#India- Costly push to mega projects


Author(s):
Sugandh Juneja
Issue Date:
2013-1-15

Cabinet Committee for Investment may dilute environmental and forest clearances

DESPITE concerns from civil society groups, the Union Cabinet gave in-principle nod for setting up a Cabinet Committee for Investment (CCI) on December 13. Introduced as the National Investment Board (NIB) by the Union finance ministry earlier this year, CCI is being set up for expediting clearances for mega projects with investment of above Rs 1,000 crore. CCI will be chaired by the prime minister and comprise members from various ministries as decided by him.

Setting up of the committee is in line with the recommendation of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), released in May this year, on augmentation of coal production. “There is a need to constitute an empowered group along the lines of Foreign Investment Promotion Board as a single-window mechanism with representatives of Central nodal ministries and state governments to grant the necessary clearances…,” the report says. The idea has been picked up by the finance ministry, which alleges green clearances are holding up the country’s infrastructure development and growth.

An analysis of clearances granted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) during the 11th Five Year Plan shows the finance ministry’s allegations do not hold water. The analysis by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) shows that the ministry granted many times more environment clearances than planned for the 11th Five Year Plan in key sectors like thermal power, coal and non-coal mining, cement and iron and steel. About 200,000 hectares of forestland was diverted during the period for these sectors. “Where is the question of green clearances holding up growth? MoEF is granting way more clearances than required, disregarding environment and social issues. What is needed is institutional reform in MoEF to make  the clearance process stronger, transparent and accountable. Otherwise, more institutions like CCI will come up and further dilute the process,” says Chandra Bhushan, deputy director of CSE.

JAYANTHI NATARAJAN An investment board will only promote investment, while MoEF has to protect the integrity of environment
JAYANTHI NATARAJAN,
UNION ENVIRONMENT MINISTER

In October, Union environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan wrote to the prime minister expressing concern over setting up of such a body. “When a minister…,” she wrote, “acting upon the expert advice of officers, takes a decision, there is absolutely no justification for an NIB (now CCI) to assume his/her authority, nor will the NIB have the competence to do so.” She also stated that no one has the right to set up a project just in the name of investment. Her concerns, as pointed out in the letter, stem from a fundamental difference between NIB and MoEF: the objective of an investment board will be to promote investment while that of MoEF is to protect the integrity of the environment and protect forests, wildlife and forest-dwellers.

During a discussion in the Lok Sabha in November, K P Dhanapalan, an MP from Kerala, also said that CCI may dilute clearance procedures. “This may aggravate environmental issues and hence needs to be carefully thought through,” he said. During the discussion, Finance Minister P Chidambaram clarified that CCI will only deal with large projects that give a fillip to the economy. “The committee will monitor these projects and will advise the ministries concerned…,” he explained.

P<br />
CHIDAMBARAM” src=”<a href=http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/14_20130115(3).jpg” width=”150″ height=”165″ align=”left” border=”0″ /> Cabinet Committee for Investment will only deal with large projects that give a fillip to the economy
P CHIDAMBARAM,
UNION FINANCE MINISTER

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) has welcomed CII. “We hope the committee helps the industry get state clearances also in a faster and time-bound manner as maximum clearances are required at the state level,” FICCI president R V Kanoria said in a press release.

Meanwhile, civil society groups are opposing setting up of CCI. Greenpeace and Bengaluru-based non-profit Environment Support Group (ESG) have initiated online campaigns against it. “Setting up of CCI is undemocratic, dangerous and against the national interest,” says Leo Saldahna, coordinator at ESG. Shilpa Chohan, Supreme Court lawyer, says till the time CCI does not overrule the decision of a ministry and is just an administrative body to look into delays, it may prove to be a positive step by bringing together different departments on a single platform.


 

WHIPLASH: 2 paise as the worth of one’s privacy


By SUSHMA PRASAD

PUBLISHED: 20:28 GMT, 1 November 2012 | UPDATED: 21:56 GMT, 1 November 2012

Union Minister Kapil Sibal leaves after attending a meeting Union Minister Kapil Sibal leaves after attending a meeting

Two paise may not have any significance for the financial institutions guiding our economy, but it wields tremendous influence on the lives of ordinary citizens.

Two paise is the price at which a human being goes on auction in the information market.

From your name and age to gender, profession, salary and of course mobile number nearly everything can be bought for 2 paise from a phone number broker.

Incidentally, 2 paise is also what Hindi speakers use to take a reality check on life.

Haven’t you heard of the phrase do paise ki aukaat (stature worth 2 paise)? Crude as it may sound, the phrase holds a literal meaning in the virtual world.

The ease with which brokers put up our personal information – bank account, car details, loan amount etc – on sale for companies, makes it clear that the privacy we so vehemently protect is nothing but a sham.

And no matter how much we fool ourselves with the security claims of the government, we are exposed to threats of all kind for a price of 2 paise.

Talking of Hindi phrases, consider do paise ki akal nahin hai (mind not even worth 2 paise).

It perhaps explains the authorities’ ineptitude in dealing with phone brokers and bulk SMS providers.

The government will do well to apply do paise ki akal and use the database of the brokers for its various population registration programmes such as census, UID and NPR.

The brokers seem to have more accurate data than government agencies. As for our harried telecom minister Kapil Sibal, here’s some muft ki rai (free advice): Please don’t waste your time reporting pesky SMS texts to TRAI‘s ‘do not disturb’ facility.

An SMS forwarded to 1909 will only start a new series of texts – No keyword found. The pesky messages are any day more interesting than such replies.

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2226448/2-paise-worth-ones-privacy.html#ixzz2B6jWtpTC

#India-I reject #censorship: Dr Shashi Tharoor @ Pitch #FOE #FOS


Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister & Member of Indian Parliament

Shashi Tharoor, Union Minister & Member of Indian Parliament

Dr Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development & Member of Indian Parliament, delivered the Keynote Address, “Role of Digital & Social Media in Connecting with Young India” at the Pitch Youth Marketing Summit, held in New Delhi recently. Dr Tharoor talked about his experiences on Twitter and how social media is shaping the current political scenario in India and worldwide. Here is Dr Tharoor’s complete Keynote Address:

Talking about social media today in India, I think it’s important to start off with some global basics. The first is of course is that the freedom of expression is fundamental. That’s my belief and commitment as a writer and as a politician, and as somebody who uses all media, social and otherwise — social and anti-social!

Freedom of expression is the mortar that binds together the bricks of our freedom and it’s also the open window embedded in those bricks. We need freedom of expression to guarantee all of our other acts. In this country we are all entitled to receive and send information thorough electronic networks, to share information, whether through the newspaper, the TV screen or online websites and to do so without censorship and restriction. This is fundamental to the kind of world which we all live in.

As a writer and a politician, I am conscious how fortunate we are to live in a country that guarantees us that right. Writers in some developing countries have to contend with the argument that development and freedom of expression are incompatible – that the media, for instance, must serve the ends of development as defined by the government, or operate only within the boundaries of what the social and religious authorities define as permissible.  The developing world is full of writers, artists and journalists who have to function in societies which do not grant them this freedom.  For them freedom of expression is the oxygen of their own survival, and that of their society, but they are stifled.  In countries where truth is what the government or the religious establishment says is true, freedom of expression is essential to depict alternative truths which the society needs to accommodate in order to survive.

And yet it is all too often absent, because in many countries, there are those who question the value of freedom of speech in their societies; those who argue that it threatens stability and endangers progress; those who still consider freedom of speech a Western import, an imposition from abroad and not the indigenous expression of every people’s demand for freedom. What has always struck me about this argument is that it is never made by the people, but by governments; never by the powerless but by the powerful; never by the voiceless, but by those whose voices are all that can be heard.  Let us put this argument once and for all to the only test that matters: the choice of every people, to know more or know less, to be heard or be silenced, to stand up or kneel down. Only freedom of expression will allow the world’s oppressed and underprivileged a way out of the darkness that shrouds their voices, and their hopes.  The Internet has been giving them this choice as never before.

But then beyond that, and beyond the way in which social media reflects our freedom of expression, we have to go into how the information society of the 21st century provides citizens with full information to allow democratic participation at all levels in determining their own future.

Technology has become the biggest asset for those who seek to promote and protect freedom of expression around the world. The exciting thing about social media is that the new digital technology offers great possibilities for enhancing traditional media and combining them with new media.

The Internet has been made possible by advances in technology that have also transformed the traditional media. Traditional media, and especially radio and television, remain the sole form of access to the information society for much of the world’s population, including the very poor and the illiterate. The poorest, and the illiterate, have not yet been able to use social media and the internet. But even the rest of us rely on traditional media, we can’t wish them away. There is increasing convergence between television and the internet and soon we can try and see how we can marry modern technologies to actually make serious progress in the world.

Today, however, our focus is on social media. Look at the extraordinary transformation that is happening. Just a day after he was sworn in as our President, Pranab Mukherjee announced that he would be opening a Facebook account to receive and respond to the queries from the public. In fact, his fellow Bengali, Mamata Banerjee, has beaten him to it, with a popular and widely read website that the media mines daily for new stories about her views. Just three years ago, when I first went on social media, it was fashionable for Indian politicians to sneer at the use of social media. Today our own President made it clear that these are essential tools for clear, accountable and credible political leadership. The governments of the world or the big institutions of power have become more vulnerable today because of the fact that the new media technology has exposed them to the uncontrolled impact of instant news. And so the fact is that when we speak about the social media, we can’t get away from understanding the impact of new technology on the way the world is working.

Technology is such that everybody has a mobile phone in her or his pocket and you can do far more than when you could have first acquired a mobile phone. Now, you can take pictures, you can take videos, you can transmit them and go on the internet. Something like 5 billion people worldwide, including 84% of Americans, more than 70% of Chinese and at least 60% of Indians, today use mobile phones. You can all get your messages out more rapidly. The strength of this is that you can enable ordinary people to issue and disseminate even raw footage or compellingly authentic images before the mainstream media or the government can actually do so. So you can open up a social media space even not being a professional media person.

Read more here http://pitchonnet.com/blog/2012/10/30/i-reject-censorship-dr-shashi-tharoor-pitch-youth-marketing-summit/