#India – Why Narendra Modi behaves like larger-than-life Rambo


This Pic is by Amir Rizvi

This Pic is by Amir Rizvi

Economic Times, Kigshuk Nag, 28 Jun, 2013
Narendra Modi hasn’t formally studied economics or sociology, but he sure has intimate knowledge about the theory of expectations.

In essence, the theory suggests that a person will decide to act in a way that will lead to the fulfilment of what he expects to happen.

So, Modi knows that if electors can be convinced to believe that he will win in 2014, they will actually vote for him. Thus, his whole effort now is to convince theelector that he alone will be the victor.

Though given to talking big for a long time – lately earning him the epithet of feku – this is the real reason for Modi for projecting himself as a Rambo who rescued 15,000 Gujarati pilgrims from Uttarakhand in a day.

The logic works like this: if a particular elector believes that electors in general are convinced that Modi is a Rambo, he will expect them to vote for the Gujarat chief minister and make him the winner.

This, in turn, will induce this particular voter to be in tune with the general mood and plump for Modi (unless he has specific reservations).

Expand this particular voter to the universe of all voters and it is easy to figure out how a general expectation that Modi will win can lead to his actual victory.

Of course, the reverse is also true. A general belief that he cannot win will induce non-committed voters to cast their franchise for someone else. Modi is also using the expectation theory when he warns CBI officers that the government could change in the near future. Read this as, proceed gingerly in the Ishrat Jahan case and do not cross me because tomorrow I willbe your boss.

As a matter of strategy, Modi is also using the theory of expectations along with the public mood in the country that is for “change”. The mood for change first became clear from the massive support garnered by Anna Hazare in 2010-11. Hazare’s enormous popularity was because people saw him as the change agent. But this was short-lived because people soon realised that Hazare could not deliver on the change that they wanted. Actually, the people also do not know the “change” that they seek.

Modi is cognisant of this and is offering himself as the change agent.

The task of Modi’s spin doctors will be to build more attributes for the man, so that they tend to align with the change that the people want. Some changes that people want are fairly clear: they want an honest, transparent regime.

That such a revolution cannot take place in India through our defective electoral system – where loads of moolah is needed – may be known to analysts but not to the common man.

Thus, Modi’s men will project him as clear-as-a-crystal leader who delivers on his promises without fear and prejudice. At the same time, they will de-emphasise some of the attributes that have stuck to Modi.

The most obvious of them is his being anti-minority. To counter this, BJP proposes to produce a vision document for minorities.

Slowly, Modi is also being seen as a handmaiden of big business. As evidence of this, last week, a huge crowd of farmers rode into Ahmedabad in trucks, tractors and trailers protesting the Modi government move to forcibly acquire 50,887 hectares of farm land for a special investment region. Expect Modi nowto become pro-farmer.

Modi’s biggest apprehension, however, is that the 2014 elections becoming a referendum on him. This is in spite of Modi revelling in being perpetually in public gaze and nothing can be a bigger ego-booster than a national election exclusively focused on him. A poll where Modi is pitted against Rahul Gandhi or Manmohan Singh is less difficult for him to manage considering the Congress’ two-term anti-incumbency effect.

But a battle that becomes a choice, want Modi or don’t want him, can become an almost insurmountable obstacle for Modi to cross.

This is because many who prefer Modi to Rahul will pause and evaluate carefully whether they want Modi at all. Many who will give the thumbs down to Rahul will not approve of Modi in isolation because they know he is a feku, projecting a larger-than-life image of himself.

The writer is resident editor, Hyderabad, The Times of India

 

#India displaced women and children imprisoned for a month by #Vedanta and police #Vaw #WTFnews


Badapada:

Badapada: the jailed women and children tell their story

19th June.  This report, directly from a Foil Vedanta team on the ground in Niyamgiri, tells a shocking story of the month long imprisonment of a group of Dalit women and children displaced by Vedanta’s Lanjigarh refinery. The testimonies provide clear evidence of the collusion of Vedanta and police working as one, and show the callous nature of their outright disregard for human rights or basic morality. Foil Vedanta is now following this case up with local lawyers.

Please also see the video interview with Padma Tandi here.

On 10th June 2013, a team of three Foil Vedanta activists visited Badapada village in Lanjigarh. Badapada is a Dalit village, where the villagers had lost agricultural land to Vedanta when the company was establishing the Lanjigarh refinery. As a result of Vedanta not adhering to any of its resettlement promises, the villagers have registered an association called “Vedanta Land Loser’s Association”, to demand proper implementation of the rehabilitation processes and to seek accountability from Vedanta and the state for promises made to them before the refinery was set up on their land. Mr. Kumar, a retired school teacher, who is the President of the Vedanta Land Loser’s Association, told us,

 

Badapada women blockade the railway into Lanjigarh in May 2011

The agricultural lands of the Dalits in this village were taken away by Vedanta. We were promised Rs 3 lakh compensation, but the compensation provided to us has been a scam and very erratic, people have received varying amounts ranging from 25k to 1 lakh rupees. We have done so much Andolan. We have organised numerous demonstrations and rallies, we blocked the nearby railway line on one occasion. We have petitioned and submitted memorandums to everyone — the Chief Minister, the Governor, the Orissa Human Rights Commission, Jairam Ramesh, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Still there has been no solution. No-one is listening to the poor. Everyone one is the company’s ‘dalal’ (agent). We have had to face so much pain and hardship because of Vedanta, and we are constantly threatened and harassed. The company has completely destroyed our lives. Our villagers were promised jobs in the refinery, till date it has not given anyone in the village even a coolie’s job. This company is full of lies. We do not have our lands anymore, and we do not have any jobs. How are we supposed to survive? Who will listen to the poor? Everyone has been bought by the company”

 

An incident of blatant human and child rights violation emerged from the village, adding to a series of incidents so far. The villagers informed us that twelve women from the village had been arrested on false cases on 7th April 2013. They had been kept in jail for one month and three days. What was most shocking was that there were also two minor children, both of two years of age who had also been kept in custody with their mothers during this period of time. This is a very serious violation by the Odisha state police. We immediately had a impromptu meeting of the ten women who had been arrested. Initially, the women were scared to give any statements, given their harrowing experience in jail. However, on being persuaded by other villagers, they opened up and provided us with some very shocking testimonies.

 

I am a widow, whose hardships have increased many fold ever since the company came here. I was walking around the refinery area, when I slipped and fell down, and hurt myself. The other women ran towards me to make sure that I was ok. Suddenly, several policemen arrived and started beating me. They also dragged and pulled the other women” —- Padma Tandi

 

We had ran to see if Padma was ok. Once the police arrived, they started manhandling us. There were two women police, but they were just standing by. The male policeman started dragging and pushing us, and pulled our hair. All of us were forcibly put inside a Vedanta vehicle. That was the most atrocious thing. Why was the state police dragging us into a Vedanta vehicle? If they had to arrest us, they should taken us in a police van, not in a Vedanta gaari! We were taken straight to the Bhawanipatna court.” – Kanchono Suna

 

They took two children also into jail. My son, Bulbul Nihal, two yrs and Aditya Nihal, son of Saraswati Nayak, also two yrs – were in jail with us. What crimes have these little children, who have just learnt to speak, committed? The police and company have no right to keep kids in jail like this!” – Doini Nihal

 

“ We have no proper information about the court case that has been registered against us. We saw our lawyer being paid money in the police station. The police and lawyers have been bought by the company. There is no-one to listen to the cries of the poor. When the police had taken us in the Vedanta vehicle on 7th April, which was a Sunday, we were told that we would be released by the following Tuesday, the 9th. However, we stayed in jail for a whole month and three days. The police and company is trying to scare us, to intimidate us, so that they can break our will, our voice and our struggle.” – Jamuna Durga

 

Following are the names of the women and children arrested by the police, as recalled by the villagers:

  1. Suryamukhi Tandey
  2. Saraswati Nayak and 2 year old child, Aditya Nayak
  3. Jamuna Durga
  4. Kanchona Suna
  5. Savita Harijan
  6. Babuli Harijan
  7. Maya Suni
  8. Guloni Harijan
  9. Neela Batisona
  10. Gourimoni Tandi
  11. Doini Nihal, and 2year old child, Bulbul Nihal

 

The women were also not provided the free legal aid they are legally supposed to have access to as Dalits. They stressed how they do not have the financial resources to engage with the legal process, and hence it is used a pressure tactic by Vedanta to silence voices.

 

Foil Vedanta members are now trying to get access to court documents on this incident, and we will be updating very soon in this regard.

 

Posted:  June 19th, 2013

 

Water -Not Worth The Parchment? Many A Slip To The Sip


NARENDRA BISHT
GOVERNANCE: WATER SUPPLY
Not Worth The Parchment?
All the contracts are generous, but privatised water hasn’t really got our cities overflowing with joy
LOLA NAYAR , Oulook Magazine

Many A Slip To The Sip

  • 30 Number of Indian cities where private sector and MNCs have been roped in by civic bodies to manage the water supply.
  • 0 No project has so far delivered on lofty commitments; most continue to face major opposition from the consuming public and civil society.
  • 100 Average percentage rise in water tariff in cities and urban areas with privatisation projects. More to follow?
  • 0 Obligation on water conservation or sewage treatment by PPPs, even as public funds and manpower is being provided to them.
  • 35 Duration, in years, of management contracts being signed by civic bodies, up from pilot management projects for a few years.

***

Across the road, on the other side of the gleaming new malls of south Delhi, is the older but not quite glamorous settlement of Hauz Rani. It’s summer, holiday time. But every evening, when they ought to be playing, dozens of young children, jerrycans in hand, troop to the nearby colonies and to a public tap near the malls to lug water back home—for drinking, cooking, was­hing and cleaning. The life-sustaining liquid, always in short supply, is evide­ntly scarcer this summer. Not atypical, you’d say, that’s how things are in India.

Now, into this scenario, enters a troika of private companies, promising salvation. Suez, SPML Infra and Degremont, in a consortium, have got a 12-year contract from the Delhi Jal Board to supply 24×7 water over a 14 sq km expanse that includes Hauz Rani. So is salvation really round the corner? Similar projects  from across the country have ominous stories to tell. In Mysore, Nagpur and Khandwa, private efforts to ramp up public water supply are croaking under the weight of expectations. Costs are up, supply erra­tic and discretionary—they have not been above parching the less posh parts so as to cater to the tony neighbourhoods. And in the worst-case scenario, alternative sources of water, like tubewells or public taps, get blocked for good measure. As India prepares to go down the privatised water route, it’s a good juncture to ask, after bijli and sadak, is paani too slipping out of reach of the aam aadmi?


Photograph by Nilotpal Baruah

Mysore, Karnataka

  • Model: PPP contract for remodelling of water supply distribution system of Mysore city
  • Firm & cost: JUSCO; Rs 234.5 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 125 up to 25 KL @ Rs 5/KL, Rs 8/KL from 25–50 KL and so on
  • Proposed tariff: Slab starting from Rs 5/KL for domestic connections
  • Status: Local protest against JUSCO and municipal officials on poor project planning and implementation; Rs 7 crore penalty imposed on JUSCO for various lapses in the project; committee constituted to resolve issues.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook /Manthan

Three more Delhi areas (Vasant Kunj, Mehrauli, Nangloi) have been given over to the public-private partnership (PPP) model that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tirelessly asserts is the answer to the nation’s ills. All told, the capital is among 30-odd cities where civic bodies have called in private entities, including mncs, to “manage” the water supply. The number is set to go higher as more cities approach the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) which—ironically, considering the man after whom it is named—makes private participation a precondition for financial support.

Civic bodies have been pushed, despite strong protests, into experimenting with the PPP model. The government’s justification has been that the private sector will bring in investments, technology and management efficiency, none of which a cash-strapped public sector can offer. Yet a study of 13 private water and sanitation projects by the Planning Commission has praise for none. In four cases—Latur, Mysore, Dewas and Khandwa—the project viability has itself been questioned.


Photograph by Sanjay Rawat

Delhi, NCR

  • Model: Build, operate and maintain for 12-15 years in three pilot projects
  • Current tariff: Rs 600/month average
  • Proposed tariff: DJB to decide
  • Firms and cost: Suez, SPML Infra and Degremont (Malviya Nagar); SPML Infra, Tahal Consulting and Hagihon Jerusalem Water (Mehrauli and Vasant Kunj); Suez and SPML combine (Nangloi); Rs 253.30 crore
  • Status: Survey work has started in proposed areas for improving infrastructure. Activists are questioning the logic of DJB outsourcing O&M while providing all raw material.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

When the state cedes control of as vital a public asset as water, it allows business to hold the poor to ransom and fleece them.

But the march towards privatisation  continues. Current models of pub­lic-pri­vate water partnerships are div­erse, from refurbishing the infrastructure to service contracts for billing, collection and met­ering. At present, most projects are foc­u­sing on distribution improvement. Even so, only a few places have seen experiments with citywide distribution, with hardly encouraging results at that. Many more projects are coming up: Naya Rai­pur in Chhattisgarh has decided to give its water distribution contract to Jindal Co on the PPP model. Kolhapur, Maharashtra, has the distinction of being the first to go in for PPP for sewage treatment.

“Six years ago, activists and residents’ welfare associations in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore were able to stall a World Bank-led move to have the private sector take over water supply projects by making it a condition for granting loans,” says S.A. Naqvi of the Citizens’ Front for Water Democracy. “Ironically, the Centre is now taking exactly the same route through JNNURM.” It’s nob­ody’s case that India’s moribund water supply system is not in dire need of help, as the Hauz Rani scenario illustrates. It’s also not that its residents would be cussedly averse to paying; anyone who has sampled Delhi’s ‘machine ka thanda paani’ knows service doe­sn’t come free. But as water PPPs begin to come apart, the que­stion is not whether citizens should pay for unlimited use of a finite commodity like water, but to whom and how much? When Hauz Rani’s saviours, the neighbouring colonies, receive water for a mere two and a half hours a day, the answer isn’t so easy. The Delhi PPP experience is not unique:

  • In Mysore, JUSCO, a Tata enterprise, has faced severe time overruns, paid penalties and faced pubic outrage
  • In Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, all indications are of the project being unsustainable in the long run
  • In Latur, Maharashtra, SPML has been forced to hand back the water supply management to a government entity after local opposition.

“The results of PPP projects in urban water supply in India—even globally—aren’t encouraging. They don’t seem to be the solution that they were thought to be,” says Gaurav Dwivedi of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, a study group. “These are expensive projects and municipal bodies are at risk of losing control of water supply to private companies due to long contract periods from which there is no getting out.”


Photograph by Vivek Pateria

Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh

  • Model: PPP Build Own Transfer (BOT) concession contract for 25 years
  • Firm and cost: Vishwa Infrastructure; Rs 115.32 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 150 per month/connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 11.95/KL
  • Status: Construction phase ongoing, delayed by around two years. Investigations by JNNURM expert committee on irregularities. Local committee formed to look into people’s objections to privatisation including removal of non-revenue water, loss of municipal control, tariff hikes, etc.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

On paper, the case for privatisation of water supply, like telephony and aviation, seemed sound. Meeting the growing water demands of growing cities requ­i­red high investment. Better quality water called for sophisticated infrastru­cture. The private sector held the allure of money, technology, and also its famed managerial skills in implementation, delivery, acc­ou­ntability. Win-win. In reality, however, the experience has been quite the opposite as the state willingly cedes control over a vital public asset such as water under the garb of a PPP and watches haplessly as the poor are fleeced.

In many cities, private companies have brought little to the table. Naqvi says all the contracts awarded actually “have mechanisms to ensure the private parties don’t have to put in any of their own investments. During the initial two and a half years of the pilot projects, when the consortiums will be doing distribution, Delhi Jal Board will be paying very high management fees, besides the power bill, delivering treated water at the colony and providing its own employees to the private partner free of cost.”


Photograph by Sangeeta Mahajan

Nagpur, Maharashtra

  • Model: PPP contract for distribution, operation and maintenance and uninterrupted water supply (24×7) for 25 years
  • Firm and cost: Veolia Water and Vishwaraj Environment; Rs 566 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 150–200 per month/connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 7.90/KL
  • Status: Several problems arising in project implementation, from steep water tariff hikes, dissatisfaction with meters, increased water consumption in demo zone after project implementation etc

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

“The results of PPP projects in India are not encouraging,” says Gaurav Dwivedi. “They don’t seem to be the solution they were thought to be.”

On top of that, private companies are seen to be tinkering with that invaluable (and often scarce) commodity called democracy. Despite initial hiccups, electricity distribution saw some improvements after privatisation in cities like Delhi due to the presence of multiple sources of power. But private water companies have to depend on a finite number of sources. Diminishing rainfall, depleting water tables and raging wars between states have seen water become scarcer. So, supplying 24×7 water to one area in a city as promised by a private operator means depriving a number of other areas of their rightful due. It also means creating an artificial demand with an eye on the bottomline.

Worse, says Prof U.N. Ravi Kumar, a Mysore-based water consultant who has been engaged in the revival of water bodies. Private water suppliers are not making any effort to look at issues like waste water management or conserving water resources, he says. “All the projects we hear about are presentations by the companies and project promoters. Governments can easily get swayed by promises of 24×7 supply.” In other words, the private players have sold a pipe dream and are getting access to exploit and monetise public water resources without adding to it.


Photograph by AFP, From Outlook 24 June 2013

Hubli, Karnataka

  • Model: PPP contract for provision of 24/7 continuous water supply including refurbishment of distribution network
  • Firm and cost: Veolia Water; Rs 235.10 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 90 per month per connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 6/ KL for 0-8 KL, Rs 10/KL for 8-15 KL, Rs 15 for 15-25 KL and minimum charge of Rs 48 per month
  • Status: Questions about the lack of transparency in the project particularly with respect to the tariff structure; uncertainty about financial implications for local people when support is removed.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

In many cities where private operators have moved in, anecdotal evidence shows that, while the rich and well-off can be assured of better supplies at a higher cost, those defaulting on even one bill end up paying dearly with water supplies being stopped. While private players have been relentless in enforcing the rules on individual domestic connections, they seem to have fallen prey to their political masters while dealing with commercial connections—which usually default on a much larger scale than domestic ones.

Ashok Govindpurkar, a veteran Nat­ionalist Congress Party councillor from Latur, says they were widely supported in their protest against private management of water supply in their city of four lakh population as households having or seeking to instal a handpump needed to get permission. “The cost of a water connection for Rs 1,700 plus a meter cost of Rs 2,400 was a huge burden on the poor,” he says. Adds Gaurav Dwivedi of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, “Water PPPs do not have a pro-poor orientation even tho­ugh this is the section of the community, especially in urban settings, which needs water supply and sanitation services at low costs on an urgent basis.” It does not call for any particular political bent to see that, in India, this would only worsen the country’s overall indices.

The private companies complain about being demonised. “In Latur, water was supplied once a week before we took over. We improved the situation and supplied it on alternate days,” says Rishabh Sethi, exe­cutive director, SPML. “The lack of support and coordination between government entities with respect to their contractual obligation has been the main reason for the project being kept in abeyance. Plus plentiful local opposition, including from local political groups.”


Photograph by Amit Haralkar

Latur, Maharashtra

  • Model: Management contract for 10 years
  • Firm & Cost: SPML; Fixed management fee (IRR of 19.6 per cent)
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 100/month
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 150 (plus meter cost of Rs 2,400 + connection cost Rs 1,700)
  • Status: The first case where a private management contract has been rolled back following three years of protests by people and most political parties barring Congress. The project has now been given to a public sector entity.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

In Mysore, JUSCO’s plea for renegotiation of the contract is meeting with widespread opposition. Despite some benefits having accrued to ‘chronic problem’ localities in the city, many other areas are seeing a drop in supplies. Ditto Nagpur, where the distribution project was extended to cover the whole city even before the assessment of the pilot was done. “I don’t think private participation has worked anywhere in India for a sufficiently long period or provided a credible appraisal performance,” says water activist Himanshu Thakkar.

JUSCO is not the only company trying to renegotiate the terms of its contract, but the Mysore city corporation is in a fix. It is facing a financial squeeze and has no answer to the public ire. Also, there’s  little option of throwing out the private company without inviting protracted litigation. With the long-term contracts loaded in favour of private companies, civic bodies are caught between a rock and a hard place. And the only way out, it seems, is to wait like its counterparts in Europe and declare water supply a public sector operation after the contract runs out.

BMC – Keep Off Privatising Education #mustread


Vol – XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013 | Anand Teltumbde,EPW

Today it is the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools, tomorrow it may be the resolution of all the other municipalities of the country.

I am grateful to Simantini Dhuru and Prachi Salve for sharing data which they obtained under the Right to Information Act, as also the Mumbai Shikshan Kampanikaran Virodhi Abhiyan, which is fi ghting against the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s decision to privatise its schools.

Neo-liberal policies have not delivered on any of their promises. Indeed, they have aggravated India’s age-old problems of inequality, unemployment, caste and communalism, to name a few. Yet, the ruling classes hold them up as a proven panacea. A key neo-liberal policy thrust is the release of services, traditionally provided by the state, to private capital. The state, in turn, uses its might against those who feel the heat of this transformation. The public utilities and infrastructure are now largely in private hands, and the state has turned its attention to education, the most critical instrument in the social transformation of any society. The process has been underway in higher education and now the rulers have begun to deva­state school education, particularly for the downtrodden strata. A decision taken at the beginning of this year by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to hand over its schools to private parties, this within the framework of the much-flaunted public-private partnership (PPP) model, is a case in point.

Auctioning the BMC Schools

BMC, the richest municipal corporation in India, provides free education to nearly 4,00,000 children enrolled in around 1,174 schools with 11,500 teachers imparting education in eight mediums. Besides, BMC runs 18 schools for the mentally challenged and 55 Mumbai Public Schools offering education in English medium. The BMC spends around 8% to 9% of its income on education; its planned spend this year is Rs 2,342 crore, 65% more than the previous year. Its expense per student at Rs 36,750 for its schools is among the highest in the country. The number of students attending BMC schools has been falling over the years. It fell from 4,20,440 in 2007-08 to 3,85,657 in 2011-12. It is the poorest of the very poor who send their children to BMC schools. Even the
so-called class IV employees, for example, sweepers and helpers working in BMC schools, do not send their children to these schools. Mumbai, the so-called “Urbs Prima of India”, the first city of India, accounting for more than 33% of the nation’s tax collection and the highest per capita income of Rs 65,361 in the country, more than twice the country’s average of Rs 29,382, has more than four million people earning less than Rs 20 a day. It is these people mainly belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SCs/STs), Other Backward Classes, Muslims and Christians who send their children to BMC schools.

On 23 January this year, the BMC, without consulting the parents of these children or the teachers in these schools, the major stakeholders, decided to auction its schools to private bidders under the euphemism of PPP, admittedly based on studies by the World Bank and Depart­ment for International Development (DFID). This is the first time in the country that a constitutional entity has decided to renounce its constitutional obligation and hand over its schools to private parties. Nonetheless, it had a nice sounding objective of giving an opportunity to poor children to get higher quality education with the support of organisations that had a record of “excellent work” in the educational field, charitable trusts and private companies.

The schools are to be auctioned to well-established corporate houses that would enter into memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with entities that have been recognised for their work in the “technical or educational field”. The process would be managed under the existing MoU bet­ween the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and BMC for conducting the “School Enhancement Programme” (initiated by UNICEF and McKinsey & Company since 2009, and having non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Akanksha, Aseema and Nandi Foundation on board). Neither the BMC provided any reasons for its failure to impart quality education nor did it provide any justification for its assumption that the private partner, with dubious credentials, will accomplish what it could not despite being experienced for more than 125 years. It has not even taken contrary evidence available through its own experience of the running of one of its schools by an NGO into account. For instance, a school run by Akanksha, important enough to be on the Board of the School Enhancement Programme, in the Cotton Green area of Mumbai, was found to have only one qualified teacher to teach the classes from one to eight. It basically drew its teachers from its Teach India Project, under which employees of companies took a sabbatical of a kind to teach in schools.

Private Profits at Public Cost

The PPP as a concept is not new but as a model serving the object of privatisation without public resistance it is to be attri­buted to the genius of neo-liberals. It only requires the state to rehearse its concern for the development of the down­trodden and plead lack of resources and failure to attain productive efficiency. The main selling proposition beyond the paucity
of resources is that the private sector
is intrinsically efficient. PPP has been pop­ular with rulers all over the world as it facilitates the transfer of huge public resources to private hands with contractual sieves that leak significant benefits to them. PPP has become a default vehicle for most infrastructural projects in recent years. In India, the PPP first appeared in the election manifesto of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)/National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in 1999. The NDA government had formed a committee in the office of Prime Minister Atal Bihari ­Vajpayee to apply the PPP model in various fields. Later, this committee was transfer­red to the Planning Commission. In 2004, when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) came to power, the same committee continued to function and submitted its report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In September 2007, Manmohan Singh, while presiding over a meeting of the Planning Com­mission, declared that initiatives at all levels of education shall be through PPP. Since then, in the Eleventh and Twelfth Five-Year Plans, there has been a rush of corporate houses, NGOs and religious organisations to grab public assets in the educational system.

The charity of the state in favour of private players includes grant of lands either free or at hugely subsidised rates, grants for building infrastructure, subsidised provision of electricity, water and bus service, exemption in income tax, payments of fees of students belonging to the SC/ST category, huge opportunities for outsourcing, etc. There is no evidence yet of any expertise being marshalled by the private players to whom huge public assets are devolved. The value of the BMC’s 11,500 schools, for instance, could easily run into thousands of crores of rupees.

Private education has been around in the country for years but whatever islands of quality education that exist have all been in the public sector. The overwhelming presence of private institutions could not produce a single institution to match the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Management, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, the Jawaharlal Nehru University or the University of Delhi. In the neo-liberal din, it is not even admitted that until the early 1970s, quality education was associated with only government institutions. It is only with the advent of increasing competition in politics that the academic autonomy of the schools was breached and they became subservient to the political bosses. These very BMC schools were famed for quality education and have produced scores of illustrious people. J B G Tilak of the National University of Educational Planning and Administration, New Delhi, after analysing the plan for setting up 2,500 model schools in the PPP mode under the Eleventh Plan, has rightly concluded that notwithstanding the claim that PPP is not privatisation and the promotion of the profit motive, the plan will surely promote the opposite – privatisation and a high degree of commercialisation, albeit with a difference, namely, with the utilisation of public funds (The Hindu, 24 May 2010).

No Tradable Service

The neo-liberal juggernaut has reduced what were once public services into trad­able commodities. It sees education as a tradable service to transform raw youth into wage labour as a feedstock for its ­capitalist machine. But pedagogy is too hallowed to be treated as such. Universally, education is regarded as an instrument of social change. Our founding fathers saw education as an equaliser and sought to include it among the fundamental rights in the Constitution. Unfortunately they could not do so and education remained confined to the area of Directive Principles (not legally binding on the state). Nonetheless, they had stipulated a time limit of 10 years to accomplish education for all children up to the age of 14. Our rulers however disregarded it until they were shaken up by the Supreme Court judgment in the Unnikrishnan case in 1993 treating education as a part of the fundamental right to life vide Article 21. But the so-called right to education they passed in 2009 is only trickery; it violates the spirit of the Constitution by excluding the most vulnerable children between 0 and 6 years and legitimises the multi­layered educational system. Rather, in view of the alarming degree of malnutrition of pregnant women, the state should be obligated to provide healthcare so that no child is born with an inborn handicap.

The first Education Commission (1964-66), the Kothari Commission, had obser­ved that realisation of the country’s aspirations involves changes in the knowledge, skills, interests and values of the people as a whole. This is basic to every programme of social and economic betterment of which India stands in need. It made a profound observation: “If this change on a grand scale is to be achieved without violent revolution (and even then it would still be necessary), there is one instrument, and one instrument only that can be used, Education.” It envisaged free and compulsory education through a common neighbourhood school system for all children following in the spirit of the Constitution. Even if this simple dictum had been heeded by the rulers, many of India’s evils would have been overcome. I will argue that if the state had ensured that no child is born with the handicap of malnutrition and every child received the same education, there would not have been the need for reservation and thereby the constitutional castes.

Today it is BMC; tomorrow it will be the entire country. We must say a firm no to the privatisation of education.

 

#India- Home Minister’s visit to Raipur hospital costs woman her life #Vaw #WTFnews


By Sahar Khan in Raipur, mailtoday.in

A woman, who was rushed to Ram Krishna Care hospital in Raipur following a massive heart attack, was detained at the hospital gate by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s securitymen.

Her relatives said they struggled to get medical attention for her failing which she died at the gate.

Shinde was in the hospital to visit the people injured in the Maoist attack in the Bastar district on May 25.

The family further alleged that they desperately made phone calls to whosoever possible to explain the medical emergency but they were turned a deaf ear.

Raipur superintendent of police O. P. Pal, however, said no complaint has been lodged yet in this regard. “ There is a clear instruction that no ambulance should be stopped during any VIP visit.

We will look into the issue if any complaint reaches us,” he said.

A local media report quoting the family of the deceased woman said there was no blockage of roads after the minister’s cavalcade reached the hospital but the security personnel denied the entry through the gate.

The hospital management, on the other hand said, since several VIPs are visiting the hospital after the Maoist attack special arrangements have been made to ensure that patients do not suffer.

Director of the hospital, Dr Sandeep Dave said the woman was already dead when brought to the hospital and no complaint was lodged.

In November 2009, kidney patient, S. P. Verma, died during PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to PGIMER hospital in Chandigarh to attend a convocation ceremony.

Verma’s family claimed he was denied timely treatment after securitymen allegedly kept diverting his vehicle.

In July 2011, injured policeman Dharmendra Kumar died at the emergency gate of Hallett Hospital in Kanpur, after being denied entry by the Special Protection Group deployed for Rahul Gandhi, who was to arrive to meet victims of the Kalka Mail derailment.

 

#India – Anti-nuke activists urge PM not to sign Nuclear Agreement with Japan


By Newzfirst Bureau5/27/13

New Delhi – In the wake of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan, hundreds of people from across the globe have appealed him not to sign the India-Japan Nuclear Agreement.

Singh will be visiting Tokyo on Monday, 27th May in a trip that was scrapped last year after a general election was called in Japan.

With an aim to expand the partnership by discussing a wide range of issues including politics and the economy, it is expected to include the signing of infrastructure projects deals worth $15 billion, say reports.

“We stand in complete opposition to the India-Japan nuclear cooperation agreement that is currently under intense negotiation. The governments of both countries must refrain from promoting nuclear commerce, jeopardizing the health and safety of their people and environments.” reads the petition addressed to the both Indian and Japanese authorities.

Referring the Fukushima accident and post-accident impacts, the petition further reads thatIndia must behave responsibly and should rethink its use of nuclear energy.

Nuclear energy currently provides less than 3% of its total electricity and can be easily replaced, freeing the country to embrace renewable and sustainable alternatives, it adds.

Petitioners have also appealed the Government of Japan to desist the Nuclear Export Policy, through which it exports nuclear technology to other countries.

“The current policy option of exporting nuclear energy to countries like India, Vietnam, Jordan etc… are totally unjust while Japan is reeling under the huge financial losses posed by the Fukushima accident and its citizens are observing massive protests to demand a nuclear-free future and the victims of the triple meltdowns remain uncompensated.” the petition says.

(IANS)

 

Activists bristle as India cracks down on foreign funding of NGOs


By , Monday, May 20, 7:14 AM E-mail the writer, WP

NEW DELHI — Amid an intensifying crackdown on nongovernmental groups that receive foreign funding, Indian activists are accusing the government of stifling their right to dissent in the world’s largest democracy.India has tightened the rules on nongovernmental organizations over the past two years, following protests that delayed several important industrial projects. About a dozen NGOs that the government said engaged in activities that harm the public interest have seen their permission to receive foreign donations revoked, as have nearly 4,000 small NGOs for what officials said was inadequate compliance with reporting requirements.
The government stepped up its campaign this month, suspending the permission that Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), a network of more than 700 NGOs across India, had to receive foreign funds. Groups in the network campaign for indigenous peoples’ rights over their mineral-rich land and against nuclear energy, human rights violations and religious fundamentalism; nearly 90 percent of the network’s funding comes from overseas.“The government’s action is aimed at curbing our democratic right to dissent and disagree,” Anil Chaudhary, who heads an NGO that trains activists and is part of the INSAF network, said Tuesday. “We dared to challenge the government’s new foreign donation rules in the court. We opposed nuclear energy, we campaigned against genetically modified food. We have spoiled the sleep of our prime minister.”In its letter to INSAF, the Home Ministry said the group’s bank accounts were frozen and foreign funding approval suspended because it was likely to “prejudicially affect the public interest.”

A government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, said the government is not against criticism. But when an NGO uses foreign donations to criticize Indian policies, “things get complicated, and you never know what the plot is,” the official said, adding that NGOs should use foreign donations to do development work instead.

The United States is the top donor nation to Indian NGOs, followed by Britain and Germany, according to figures compiled by the Indian government, with Indian NGOs receiving funds from both the U.S. government and private U.S. institutions. In the year ending in March 2011, the most recent period for which data are available, about 22,000 NGOs received a total of more than $2 billion from abroad, of which $650 million came from the United States.

Government bars groups that oppose nuclear energy, human rights abuses from accepting overseas donations.

U.S. officials, including Peter Burleigh, the American ambassador at the time, quickly moved to assure Indian officials that the U.S. government supports India’s civil nuclear power program. And Victoria Nuland, then the State Department spokeswoman, said the United States does not provide support for nonprofit groups to protest nuclear power plants. “Our NGO support goes for development, and it goes for democracy programs,” Nuland said.
Although Singh was widely criticized for his fears, the government froze the accounts of several NGOs in southern India within weeks.“All our work has come to a stop,” said Henri Tiphagne, head of a human rights group called People’s Watch. “I had visited [the] Koodankulam protest site once. Is that a banned territory?”

But the government’s action appears to have had its desired effect. “NGOs are too scared to visit Koodankulam or associate with us now,” said anti-nuclear activist S. P. Udayakumar.

Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of Human Rights Watch, said many NGOs are afraid to speak up about the suspension of their foreign funding approval, which is “being used to intimidate organizations and activists.”

Analysts say the government’s way of dealing with dissent is a throwback to an earlier era. But Indian authorities have been particularly squeamish about criticism of late. As citizens have protested corruption and sexual assaults on women and demanded greater accountability from public officials, authorities have often reacted clumsily — including beating up peaceful protesters and cracking down on satirical cartoons, Facebook posts and Twitter accounts.

Donors look elsewhere

Officials say NGOs are free to use Indian money for their protests. But activists say Indian money is hard to find, with many Indians preferring to donate to charities.

A recent report by Bain & Co. said that about two-thirds of Indian donors surveyed said that NGOs have room to improve the impact they are making in the lives of beneficiaries. It said that a quarter of donors are holding back on increased donations until they perceive evidence that their donations are having an effect.

“They give blankets to the homeless, sponsor poor children or support cow shelters,” said Wilfred Dcosta, coordinator of INSAF. “They do not want to support causes where you question the state, demand environmental justice or fight for the land rights of tribal people pitted against mighty mining companies.”

INSAF, whose acronym means “justice” in Urdu, has seen its portion of foreign funding increase significantly during the past 15 years. Now it receives funds from many international groups, including the American Jewish World Service and Global Greengrants Fund in the United States, and groups in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The top American donors to Indian NGOs include Colorado-based Compassion International, District-based Population Services International and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It is not a question about money, it is a fight for our right to dissent,” said Chaudhary. “I don’t need dollars to block a road.”

Asked last week about the Indian government’s moves against foreign-funded NGOs, a U.S. State Department spokesman said the department was not aware of any U.S. government involvement in the cases. The spokesman said such civil society groups around the world “are among the essential building blocks of any healthy democracy.”

The situation in India is not unlike the problems that similar groups face in Russia, where a law passed last year requires foreign-funded NGOs that engage in loosely defined political activities to register as “foreign agents.”

 

Kudankulam N-plant: Safety norms gains primacy over commissioning deadline


, TNN | May 16, 2013

Kudankulam N-plant: Safety norms gains primacy over commissioning deadline
Last week, the Supreme Court cleared the power plant, paving the way for early commissioning. Originally, the plant was scheduled to be commissioned in 2007.
NEW DELHI: Regardless of the recent promise made by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Durban about the early commissioning of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP), the government has instructed theAtomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) that safety reviews of KKNPP should be run with a “fine-toothed comb” without being pressured by commissioning deadline. In fact, the government had recently invited the Operational Safety Review Team of the IAEA to do an independent safety assessment of other Indian reactors, particularly RAPS (in Rajasthan).Last week, the Supreme Court cleared the power plant, paving the way for early commissioning. Originally, the plant was scheduled to be commissioned in 2007.A whole new set of safety checks were conducted by the AERB after four valves that came from a Russian supplier were found to be “deficient”.Stung by a series of popular protests about safety issues in Kudankulam, which has inspired protests by a large number of NGOs, the government is keen that no stone is left unturned. If this means the Russians are less than pleased, sources said, so be it. They added that some of the supplies from Russian companies have been found to be below par.

NPCIL has that the commissioning of KKNPP would now happen only in June, after another set of checks are carried out. The company said the physical progress of the plant was 99.6% complete.

This week a group of 60 leading scientists wrote a letter to the PM, and chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Kerala asking for more stringent safety checks of the KKNPP. They have sought “renewed study” of safety issues by an independent panel of experts. The scientists — most of them serving in state-run institutions — have expressed doubts, “particularly with reference to possible sub-standard components” used in the plant.

These are not scientists advocating against nuclear energy, but concerned about safety issues. “These safety concerns are compounded by the fact that Russian authorities arrested Sergei Shutov, procurement director of Zio-Podolsk, on corruption charges for having sourced cheaper sub-standard steel for manufacturing components that were used in Russian nuclear installations in Bulgaria, Iran, China and India,” they wrote in the letter, The arrest of Shutov, they cited, led to several complaints of sub-standard components and follow-up investigations in both Bulgaria and China.

While the AERB gave an in-principle clearance for fuel loading of the plant in April, hopes that it would be commissioned by May were dashed after faulty valves made news. In an effort to quell the protests and spiralling negative perception about the power plant, the government has been on an information overdrive to educate and be transparent. This week, minister of state V Narayanasamy said, “All nuclear power projects undergo an elaborate in-depth safety review during the consenting stages, like siting, construction, commissioning, etc. After satisfactory review during project stage, AERB issues operating licence to an NPP for a period of up to five years.”

Last week, responding to a question in Parliament, government assured that components supplied to KKNPP are “tested in an integrated manner during commissioning to verify their performance in accordance to design performance criteria. Any shortfall noticed in performance is addressed/corrected as a part of the commissioning programme”

 

Protest the arrest of Anti Posco Leader Abhay Sahoo


abhaysahoo

We strongly condemn the arrest of our leader and president of PPSS Mr. Abhay Sahoo this morning i.e.  on 11thMay 2013. As you are all aware 50 cases had been filed against him at different stages of the movement and all the cases are blatantly false and fabricated. The district administration and police were after him as the movement instead of withering away under severe repression has gathered more momentum. Abhayji has been taken to Kujang jail in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

We understand that this is part of a larger game plan to destabilize the movement and  force the project on our unwilling people. Earlier also Abhaya Sahoo was arrested in 2008 and was kept in jail for 14 months. Mr. Sahoo was again implicated in another false case leading to his incarceration from 25th November 2011 to 14th march 2012.

Every time when Abhayji was arrested the movement got further strengthened and our people threw up more leaders with solidarity from you all.

We have been informing you that our life has been severely disrupted since the state government signed the said project with POSCO. The police force has been using coercive measures to suppress our constitutional right to dissent. We have been peacefully resisting all types of criminal forces for more than eight  years, but ironically hundreds of cases are being lodged by the police against us. Our protesters have been murdered by bomb attacks, assaulted by hired goons and beaten by police-all done by at the behest of administration. Local authorities ignored our demands for recognition of our right to the land. Instead, armed forced were engaged to silence our voices.  Till now more than 200  false cases have been registered against our villagers by the government, 1500 warrants have issued out of which 340 are women.

Our people are unable to go out and receive treatment because of the threat of arrests. None of the cases has any basis and all are fabricated by the police to keep our people inside jail for as many days as they think by doing this they could spoil our democratic movement. The government of Odisha has been clamping false cases against anyone trying to oppose POSCO, It is matter of regret that all the actions till date by the government of Odisha against us is totally unjustified as the entire projects stands on shaky ground.

We call for all the Jan Andolans, People’s organisations, Political parties, activists, intellectuals and people at large to condemn in strongest possible terms this cowardly and undemocratic act of the administration. We appeal you all to demonstrate and demand immediate release of Abahya Sahoo. Also please lodge your protest near the following authorities.

Let me assure that our people will put up a more determined resistance and what they all need is your continuous support and solidarity.

 

 

 

Kindly forward this mail widely.

 

Hoping for Solidarity.

 

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Mobile no – 09437571547

E- mail- prashantpaikaray@gmail.com

 

You can call and write to the following :

1. Mr. Naveen Patnaik

Chief Minister,  Odishas

Tel. No.(O) 011 91 674 2531100,011 91 674 2535100,

011 91 674 2531500, Epbax 2163

Tel. No.(R) 011 91 674 2590299, 011 91 674 2591099,

011 91 674 2590844, 011 91 674 2591100,

Fax No- (91)6742535100

E Mail: cmo@ori.nic.in

2.  Dr. S. C. Zameer, Governor of Odisha,  Fax No-
(91)6742536582

3. Shri B K Patnaik, Chief Secretary, E-mail: csori@ori.nic.<csori@ori.nic.in>

Phone no – 0674 – 2536700

0674 – 2534300

0674 – 2322196

Fax No – 0674 – 2536660

3. S.K. Mallick , District  Collector, Jagatsinghpur, Contact number
09437038401,   Fax no – : (91)6724220299

4. Superintendent of Police, Satyabrata Bhoi, Mobile no-09437575759, 0624-
220115,  dmjsp@ori.nic.in

5. Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India

Tel no-+9111-23016857

e mail: manmohan@sansad.in

6. Sonia Gandhi: Tel Phone no – (91)11-23014161, (91)11-23012656, Fax-
(91)112301865, soniagandhi@sansad.nic.in,

*7.* Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot
House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91
11 2334 0016, Email: chairnhrc@nic.in

8. Shri. V.Kishore Chandra Deo

Minister of Tribal Affairs

Ministry of Tribal Affairs,

Room No. 400  ‘B’ Wing, Shastri Bhawan,

New Delhi- 110001

vk.deo@sansad.nic.in

9. Smt. Jayanthi Natarajan

Minister of Environment & Forests

Ministry of Environment & Forests

Paryavaran Bhawan,

CGO Complex, Lodhi Road

New Delhi-110003

mosefgoi@nic.in

 

 

Rights rap on West Bengal Government #FOE #FOS


- Strongest charge against Ambikesh was an ‘afterthought’MONALISA CHAUDHURI, Telegraph

 

The state human rights commission has refused to accept the Mamata Banerjee government’s justification for the arrest of Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, citing depositions by top police officers to surmise that the strongest charge against him was an “afterthought”.

“The commission is constrained to put it on record that it finds it difficult to accept the reasons given in the letter of the additional chief secretary for non-acceptance of the commission’s recommendations,” it said in a communiqué to the state government on Tuesday.

The rights commission cited two reasons for not accepting the state’s argument that there was no violation of human rights in the arrest of Mahapatra, who had been first charged with outraging the modesty of a woman for circulating an Internet joke on Mamata Banerjee.

“Senior police officers, including the city police commissioner, had deposed before the commission that Mahapatra was arrested after being charged with a cognisable offence under Section 509 of the IPC. The fact that he was not arrested under Section 66A(b) of the Information Technology Act proves that this stringent section was included as an afterthought,” an official of the commission said.

“It appears that his arrest came first and then the charges were slapped to put him behind bars without considering whether the alleged offence merited these charges,” he added.

Justice Ashok Ganguly, the chairman of the rights commission, said circulating an Internet joke was in no way an offence that called for penal charges of the kind slapped on the chemistry professor. “It was an innocuous mail, based on characters from a movie for children (Satyajit Ray’s Sonar Kella). How could the police slap such stringent charges for circulating a mail like that?” he said.

Legal experts said invoking Section 509 (intending to insult the modesty of a woman by words and gestures) was “inappropriate” in Mahapatra’s case because the presumed victim never filed a complaint against him.

“According to the rule book, only a complaint in writing from the victim — in this case the chief minister — about outrage of modesty would have made him liable to be charged under Section 509. Circulation of an Internet joke with apparently nothing in it that can be construed as outraging someone’s modesty is, in common knowledge, out of the purview of Section 509,” a veteran lawyer said.

Sections 509 and 500 (defamation) were ultimately omitted from the police chargesheet against Mahapatra. The only charge retained against the professor was under Section 66A(b) of the Information Technology Act (electronic circulation of objectionable content).

The rights commission not only declined to accept the premise under which Mahapatra had been arrested, it also picked holes in the state’s contention that the professor and his neighbour Subrata Sengupta were “rescued from an agitated mob”.

Police officers during their deposition admitted that the arrestees had been wrongfully restrained before being rescued and taken to the police station. Then why was no action taken against the people who had wrongfully restrained the duo? Instead, the victims were treated as accused and charges were drawn up against them,” the commission official said.

Mahapatra said he would write to the Prime Minister’s Office again about the state’s attempt to justify the harassment he had to endure. “The government has made a mockery of its assurance of ‘immediate redressive action’ to the PMO. I will let Prime Minister Manmohan Singh know about it.”

Responding to Mahapatra’s previous letter, the PMO had prodded the Bengal government last December to “take necessary action” in the case. The state rejected all the recommendations of the rights commission last week.

The rights body had recommended departmental action against two police officers — Milan Kanti Das and Sanjay Biswas — for allegedly harassing Mahapatra and slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 each.

Mahapatra has pinned his hopes on Calcutta High Court, where a PIL filed by lawyer and former mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya is scheduled for hearing in June.

The chemistry professor will not be moving court individually because he doesn’t want to be away from the classroom for long. “Over the past year, I could not attend many classes because of court hearings. I don’t want to miss classes anymore. Otherwise, my students will suffer,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SUBHANKAR CHOWDHUR