Welcome to my blog
The .org site also crashed for two week from May 24th to June 8 2015 http://www.kractivist.org/ due to high traffic but is sorted now
You can be updated here http://www.kractivist.org/
Kamayani aka kractivist
Bridge the Gap , Bring the Change
10 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
Welcome to my blog
The .org site also crashed for two week from May 24th to June 8 2015 http://www.kractivist.org/ due to high traffic but is sorted now
You can be updated here http://www.kractivist.org/
Kamayani aka kractivist
12 May 2013 2 Comments
in Advocacy, Announcements, Censorship, Disability, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Political Prisoners, Press Release, Prison, UID, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Ben Rattray, change.org, Dalit, District collector, India, Kamayani, Petition, Twitter, Video Volunteers
Change.org Cat is out of the Bag, so let’s stop playing Ping Pong
May 12, Mumbai- Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Kractivism
Its official now
After months of testing, Change.org is ready to launch a new revenue model that is geared to consumers, not organizations. By targeting consumers, the change.org team expects to pull in steady revenues in smaller dollar amounts. Contributions are capped at $1,000 per user per petition, but beta tests found that 98 percent of contributions were under $100. During the test period, a total of 5800 people contributed to promoted petitions. Read more here Now anyone can sponsor a petition on change.org
This is how petitions can be promoted and sponsored
Promoted Petitions allow anyone to promote their favorite petitions to Change.org users who may not otherwise come across them. Similar to promoted posts on Facebook or promoted tweets on Twitter, Promoted Petitions allows users to pay to feature any petition to other users on the site.
Sponsored Campaigns are similar to Promoted Petitions, but structured slightly differently to help organizations establish long-term relationships with Change.org users who are passionate about their work and sign their campaigns. Each Sponsored Campaign has an opt-in box allowing users to agree to find out more information about the sponsoring organization after signing. Organizations ready to connect with their next generation of supporters can head to Change.org for Organizations to learn more.
My open letter to Ben Rattray, last October, was precisely about this , #India- Open letter to #BenRattray, #CEO, #Change.org – “Et tu Brutus” #kracktivism when they announced change in advertising policies that ,there is no confusion that change.org is not a business for a social cause but like any for profit , they are making money on our database.
Now after my expose.#India – Change.org : Campaign Victory’s exposed #Vaw #Socialmedia, wherein I bought to notice two conflicting petitions on the same platform. I did get a reply on a tumblr.com site ??? Wondering why change .org could not the responses reply on an official change.org site? Also the tumblr.com site with no option to comment , My question,to India director, change.org Avijit Michael, that by replying to me, on another change/org staffs personal blog , with no option to comment, this how change.org proposes to have a public engagement ?
The fact that it was only after I pointed out that two conflicting petitions, change.org looked into the matter and found that the petition of voyeuristic journalists managed thousands signatures by fraud . They have informed Information and Broadcasting Ministry . Interesting but what if they would not be informed, will they know will then and will they take action ?
For once let me make it clear I do not have a personal vendetta against change.org and neither people are confused by allegations they are concerned.
Here is a Hoot investigative story on change.org and how it operates notes , Deconstructing Change.org
Change.org believes that to get the desired impact, online petitions should be supported by on ground action, exposure in local media and interactions with decision makers. However, in many cases, the offline or on-ground mobilisation may be completely missing, thus putting a question mark on sustainability of the impact generated. For instance, a petition by Video Volunteers against a discriminatory practice in a Rajasthan village where a traditional practice of Dalit women carrying their footwear in their hands while crossing the houses of upper caste families garnered 5,480 signatures.
Acting on the petition, the District Collector along with other officials held a meeting in the village apprising them of the law banning caste discrimination and ordered that the practice be disallowed. However, the villagers did not even know that there was a campaign running on this issue and unknown people were playing their saviours over the Internet. The impact has been that the Dalits are now much more scared to talk about the discrimination, as mentioned by this report in Times of India. Herman refutes this claim, saying that the correspondent of Video Volunteers had mobilised Dalit women against this practice and villagers might be scared of talking to the media due to local power equations. However, independent inquiries made by The Hoot confirm that the action taken by the officials was solely on the basis of the online petition and there was no local campaign against the practice.
I will let the responses to my expose on change.org speak for itself. I got many emails, facebook messages , some of them are below
आपने जो उदाहरण दिया है उससे स्पष्ट है कि कोई भी चेंज डॉट ओआरजी का दुरुपयोग कर सकता है। वैसे भी ये या तो व्यवसाय कर सकते हैं या सामाजिक बदलाव में कोई भूमिका निभा सकते हैं। और किसी को भ्रम नहीं होना चाहिए कि ये प्लेटफॉर्म सामाजिक बदलाव के लिए है। it’s really selling you and me on change dot org. –sandeepsamvad, new delhi, emaiil
it is hard to believe that change.org is not selling signatures as you have not completely denied when you said “Kamayani’s claim that we sell email addresses to sponsors is also incorrect. Our business model has been clearly outlined on the site. We allow our users to voluntarily opt-in to receive mailing from organisations via sponsored petitions.”there is a strong reason for not believing your words as in first instance you said in your reply “partly because one of them was the subject to anattempt at fraud and manipulation over the last week — almost 5000 signatures were added by two IP addresses” AND in very next line you say ” We have multiple levels of systemic checks to prevent this kind of abuse and ensurethat the integrity of our platform is maintained. The fraudulent signatureshave already been removed to reflect the count of genuine signatures.” WHAT HAPPEND TO THE MULTIPLE LEVELS OF SYSTEMIC CHECKS when peoples were signing petitions from one IP , in this case you have deleted signatures but how do we believe that other “victories” petitions are signed by individuals ;with this whole incident I think there are strong flaws on change.org , you have believed , trusted and took actions on almost all points Kamayani higlighted and on other hand you said “We completely respect Kamayani’s right to a different view, although we regret that she is spreading misinformation about Change.org”
I would have trusted on your words , if you would have removed this fraudulent signature petition and all other such petitions;I myself have written a petition and I know it is very difficult for us to raise a issue and bring in people to spend a time and sign it ; with this whole incidence of Change.org my belief on online petitions is shattered .lastly I perceive it in this way and that is , I think you also believe less on change.org , as you chose Tumbler to highlight such a big news about your own website .I am hoping for a fair dialogue about this whole issues with a thread of previous emails and replies on change.org homepage so that truth must come out …
( Rahul Deveshwar on Facebook )
Change.org platform is no longer on the side of justice, but neutral in the fight against oppression, and hence, has actually taken the side of the oppressor…( Aashish Gupta via email)
The idea that the change.org makes no judgment on the type of petition seems a bit strange. Do they not have some sort of system of checks and balances? How many people sign things just on trust? I know I have done. To personalise the mistake (if it was a mistake) that they may have made to an individual who points out the inconsistency of their position on a specific petition seems to me a policy of “shoot the messenger” No petition is a trivial issue to those who take the trouble of starting one, or signing one. Motives would seem a significant factor. therefore this personalisation also would appear to have a motive. Is the organisation afraid of criticism? In which case the attack on an individual would seem logical. Why could not have change.org provided a coherent answer to the inconsistency highlighted and not personalise the matter to an individual. It is those who work on the ground with people who matter, the idea of holding “people power and democracy in high regard” seems to me bullshit, and appears to appeal to interest groups who have a neo liberal agenda of control.
Kamayani I think all such organisations to me are suspect and anyone who points a finger that may expose their inconsistencies would be demonised in some way. specially such democracy movements of recent past seem to have had bloody results when western interests are threatened, Middle East, Pakistan orange revolution etc etc come to mind. There is sometimes more at stake than rights of people and that is the jobs of those who run these corporate “rights” organisations almost across the world and they would always go with their sponser, who would be western based or financed. Kamayani, May be you have touched a brick that could shake the edifice ? I am frankly unconvinced by Change-org’s response, and as a user of Change in the past, may be forced to rethink my use of this platform. The simple question that bothers me is: how ‘neutral’ can such a platform be? If there is a petition demanding action against, say, Hindutva hate-speech or anti-dalit violence, will Change also host a petition by the same accused persons, as long as the language they use is not ‘hateful’? I would be much more comfortable with a clear, though broad, policy by such a platform. I have closed by change.org account (Satish Barot on FB)
” I am a little shocked that we bothered Mr. Tumbler. When I think, you own change.org. It would be more official when you post it there. Innit ?” (Harish Iyer, Facebook)
I am frankly unconvinced by Change-org’s response, and as a user of Change in the past, may be forced to rethink my use of this platform. The simple question that bothers me is: how ‘neutral’ can such a platform be? If there is a petition demanding action against, say, Hindutva hate-speech or anti-dalit violence, will Change also host a petition by the same accused persons, as long as the language they use is not ‘hateful’? I would be much more comfortable with a clear, though broad, policy by such a platform. ( Kavita Krishnan, New Delhi email )
I completely agree that the case of the NALSAR students whose privacy was invaded and who were morally policed by these mediapeople shows exactly why change.orgshould not accept petitions from all sources. Many of us followed Kamayani’s use of change.org because we believed the organization had an explicit pro-justice bias in the campaigns it took on. Having change.org be a neutral platform to be used by anybody, or accepting paid sponsorships means that the platform indeed becomes something like Facebook – a profit seeking platform which we can use but which is not by itself an ally. I urge change.org to discard labels like neutrality, openness and democracy- all of which are used in our current socioeconomic system to mean that those with money will have the loudest voice – and to take an explicit stand on promoting justice through their petitions…( Kaveri, Bangalore )
It is sad that every space has been taken over by the BUSINESS and MONEY MAKERS…. we think we are playing in a free ground but that ground is also owned by the same corrupt minds… Amir Rizvi, Mumbai
It is indeed time that the issue about online petitions was addressed in more detail. Having read your blog and the response by change.org leaves me to conclude that change.org is definitely on the back foot as it has not bothered to explain the selling of email ID’s names etc for proit to other NGO’s. This is the business model of all the online petition sites and that is how they manage to have fancy pay packages for their employees and maintain their infrastructure. Sure, change.org may well be a technology oriented, democratic organization, but that does not absolve it from carrying out unethical practices.
The argument that change.org allows opt-in is not a favor done by the organization towards its users. It is legally mandated that such services should opt-in rather than opt-out services (throw back to Google, Facebook and other litigation’s and their results)
What happens to these online petitions (apart from creating a few seconds of “awareness”) is also debatable. I wonder if change.org has devised any metric to track what effect their online petitions have made. Being a “technology driven” organization, they should have the the means to track the effects of their petitions and should release such audits from time to time to their users.
In summary, the business model of change.org appears to be simply that of any other aggregator/mass e-mailer. To cloak this behind a veil of social consciousness and activism is doing dis-service to others who actually get their hands dirty doing real work and not sit behind computer terminals in air-conditioned offices selling their databases to the highest bidder. (Anuj Wankhede, Delhi)
I am completely with you and also understand the concern you raised in your narration. Media being one of the institutions operated and controlled by capitalist and patriarchal values certainly is not going to take pro-women, pro-equality stand. The argument of change.org that they provide space for ‘activism’ seem to be not true unless they take a critical position on issues being raised in and through their space. What if tomorrow anti-women, anti-dalits, anti-muslims, anti-abortion, anti-poor, anti-rights, anti-tribal, anti-minority people start putting up their petitions through change.org? What would be the position of owners/facilitators of this space?
Request to change.org from my side is to upload their position on many of the issues they feel are the result of inequalities, historic and systemic nature of discrimination, coercive hierarchies and culture of violence. Anand Pawar, Pune
Change.org has crossed the line between change-making and profit-making .
So people are not confused by my expose ,but more concerned !
09 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
Activist and lawyer Aires Rodrigues on May 26 filed a petition before the Bombay High Court at Goa seeking the transfer of the search for the absconding convicted former Minister Mickky Pacheco to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The petitioner gave the sequence of events leading to Mr. Pacheco’s conviction by the High Court and the Supreme Court on March 30.
The former Goa Minister and MLA, Mickky Pacheco, surrendered before a court in Margao on June 1 . He was absconding for nearly two months following his conviction in a case of assault on a government servant.
He was later formally arrested by Goa police and sent to Sada jail in Vasco in south Goa after medical check-up.Former minister and Nuvem MLA Francisco (Mickky) Pacheco was taken to the Goa Medical College and Hospital two times time since being imprisoned at Sada sub-jail .
Aires Rodrigues’ advocate made a complaint with the IG prisons alleging that Pacheco was taken to Goa Medical College (GMC) and Hospital, Bambolim, without his prison uniform after he complained of a health problem on Friday evening, the officer said they have sought a report from the jail superintendent at Sada sub-jail in the matter.
Adhinath Bhaje was the duty officer at Sada sub-jail when Pacheco was taken to hospital.
Advocate Aires Rodrigues’ in his face book states
The convicted and now jailed Goa former Minister Mickky Pacheco in violation of the Goa Prison Rules is being given VIP treatment at the Sada Jail where he has on June 1st commenced undergoing the six month jail sentence for having in 2006 assaulted Electricity department Junior Engineer Kapil Natekar.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar after helping their friend Mickky Pacheco abscond for two long months, are now covertly pressurizing Sada jail authorities to go all out to help Mickky Pacheco as he is an MLA supporting the current BJP Government.
The government is making a mockery of the judiciary by high-handedly giving Mickky Pacheco VIP treatment in jail. If Mickky Pacheco is not treated on par with other convicts it would be appropriate to move the High Court seeking that Mickky Pacheco be transferred to a jail in neighboring Karnataka or Maharashtra, so that he undergoes the jail sentence strictly in accordance with law without any political patronage. A detailed documented report of how the jail rules are being flagrantly breached to unlawfully benefit Mickky Pacheco would be submitted to the Court.
Mickky Pacheco has not been convicted for a petty crime but a very serious offence against the State of having as a Minister assaulted a public servant. His conviction was upheld by four Courts and the Supreme Court as well.
It is a matter of concern that watching this sordid Mickky Pacheco Saga the people of Goa will be losing their faith and trust in the justice delivery system if the rich and the politically well connected are allowed to be above the law. There cannot be two yardsticks for convicts. The law mandates that they all be treated alike.
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
“For me religion is one in essence, but it has many branches and if I, the Hindu branch, fail in my duty to the parent trunk, I am an unworthy follower of that one indivisible, visible religion…. My nationalism and my religion are not exclusive, but inclusive and they must be so consistently with the welfare of life.” Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi wrote to Sir Samuel Hoare, the Secretary of State for India, in September 1932, on the eve of his fast to death against granting separate electorates for the untouchables. Earlier, on March 11, 1932, he had warned Hoare: “So far as Hinduism is concerned, separate electorates would simply vivisect and disrupt it. For me the question of these classes is predominantly moral and religious. The political aspect, important though it is, dwindles into insignificance compared to the moral and religious issues.” In a letter to Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald in September 1932, Gandhi wrote: “In the establishment of separate electorates at all for the ‘depressed classes’, I sense the injection of poison that is calculated to destroy Hinduism.”
To William Shirer, the famous American writer, Gandhi wrote on September 23, 1932: “Americans should know that my politics are derived from my religion.” (See William Gould; “The U.P. Congress and ‘Hindu Unity’: Untouchables and the Minority Question in the 1930s”; Modern Asian Studies; Volume 39, 2005; pages 845-860.)
With such an outlook, a clash with Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar was inevitable. Clash they did, directly, sharply and in person at the Round Table Conference in London. Back in India, they arrived at a compromise on reservation of seats and signed the famous Poona Pact on September 24, 1932, to enable Gandhi to call off his fast.
Ambedkar was under great pressure and was none too happy about his climbdown. As if this and the clash in London were not enough, there came to light a singularly sordid stratagem by Gandhi in London—he offered to concede the demands of the Muslim Delegation, led by the Aga Khan, if it supported him in his opposition to Ambedkar’s demand for separate electorates for the untouchables. The Muslims refused. The offer was made in writing in a document dated October 6, 1931.
The clash is well recorded in the proceedings of the Committees of the Round Table Conference reproduced in Volume 2 of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches (compiled and edited by Vasant Moon, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra) and in Ambedkar’s work What Congress and Gandhi Have Done to the Untouchables (Bombay 1945). It has the added advantage of Ambedkar’s personal testimony about the proceedings of the conference, which was inaugurated on November 12, 1930, by King George V. Nine committees were set up, including the Minorities Committee (Chapter III, “A Mean Deal”). Another was the Federal Structure Committee.
The Congress boycotted the first session of the conference. As a result of the pact between Lord Irwin and Gandhi on March 5, 1931, Gandhi participated in the second session as the sole representative of the Congress. The first session had agreed on representation of “the Depressed Classes”.
Ambedkar is scathing about Gandhi’s performance. “Everybody was therefore looking forward to the Congress to lead the Conference [at the second session] to success. Unfortunately, the Congress chose Mr Gandhi as its representative. A worse person could not have been chosen to guide India’s destiny. As a unifying force he was a failure. Mr Gandhi presents himself as a man full of humility. But his behaviour at the Round Table Conference showed that in the flush of victory, Mr Gandhi can be very petty, indeed. As a result of his successful compromise with the Government just before he came, Mr Gandhi treated the whole non-Congress delegation with contempt. He insulted them whenever an occasion furnished him with an excuse by openly telling them that they were nobodies and that he alone, as the delegate of the Congress, represented the country. Instead of unifying the Indian delegation, Mr Gandhi widened the breach. From the point of view of knowledge, Mr Gandhi proved himself to be a very ill-equipped person. On the many constitutional and communal questions with which the Conference was confronted, Mr Gandhi had many platitudes to utter but no views or suggestions of a constructive character to offer. He presented a curious complex of a man who in some cases would threaten to resist in every possible way any compromise on what he regarded as a principle though others regarded it as a pure prejudice but in other cases would not mind making the worst compromises on issues which appeared to others as matters of fundamental principle on which no compromise should be made. Mr Gandhi’s attitude to the demands of the Untouchables at the second session of the Round Table Conference furnishes the best illustration of this rather queer trait in his character.”
In the meeting of the Federal Structure Committee held on the September 17, 1931, Gandhi said: “The Congress has reconciled itself to special treatment of the Hindu-Muslim-Sikh tangle. There are sound historical reasons for it but the Congress will not extend that doctrine in any shape or form…. Therefore I would most strongly resist any further special representation.”
Ambedkar remarks: “This was nothing but a declaration of a War by Mr Gandhi and the Congress against the Untouchables. In any case, it resulted in a war between the two. After this declaration by Mr Gandhi, I knew what he would do in the Minorities Committee which was the main forum for the discussion of this question. Mr Gandhi was making his plans to bypass the Untouchables and to close the communal problem by bringing about a settlement among the three parties, the Hindus, the Muslims and the Sikhs. He had been carrying on negotiations privately with the Muslims before the Minorities Committee met” (emphasis added, throughout).
There was a proposal to adjourn for talks outside. Ambedkar objected: “Those who are negotiating ought to understand that they are not plenipotentiaries appointed by the Committee to negotiate a settlement; that whatever may be the representative character of Mr Gandhi or of the other parties with whom he wishes to negotiate, they certainly are not in a position to bind us—certainly not.”
The Chairman said: “Do not let there be any misunderstanding. This is the body before which the final settlement must come, and the suggestion is merely that if there are minorities or communities that hitherto have been in conflict with each other they should use a short time for the purpose of trying to overcome their difficulties. Dr Ambedkar’s position has been made absolutely clear; in his usual splendid way he has left no doubt at all about it, and that will come up when this body resumes its discussion.”
Gandhi told Ambedkar when they met in India before the conference that he was opposed to separate recognition for the untouchables and stuck to this position in London. Ambedkar, therefore, refused to acquiesce in an adjournment for talks or join a committee unless that recognition was granted. “I do want to say this, that if I am to be left out in the cold and if this interval is going to be utilised for the purposes of solving the Hindu-Muslim question, I would press that the Minorities Committee should itself grapple with the question and consider it, rather than allow the question to be dealt with by some other informal Committee for arriving at a solution of the communal question in respect of some minorities only.”
Gandhi replied: “Who am I to deny political status to any single interest or class or even individual in India? As a representative of the Congress I should be unworthy of the trust that has been reposed in me by the Congress if I were guilty of sacrificing a single national interest. I have undoubtedly given expression to my own views on these points.”
The meeting held outside the conference, presided over by Gandhi, was a fiasco. He dissolved it before discussing Ambedkar’s case. On October 8, 1931, when the Minorities Committee met, Gandhi said that a solution would follow independence. Ambedkar replied in anguish: “What disturbs me after hearing Mr Gandhi is that instead of confining himself to his proposition, namely, that the Minorities Committee should adjourn sine die, he started casting certain reflections upon the representatives of the different communities who are sitting round this table. He said that the Delegates were nominees of the Government, and that they did not represent the views of their respective communities for whom they stood. We cannot deny the allegation that we are nominees of the Government, but, speaking for myself, I have not the slightest doubt that even if the Depressed Classes of India were given the chance of electing their representatives to this Conference, I would, all the same, find a place here. I say therefore that whether I am a nominee or not, I fully represent the claims of my community. Let no man be under the mistaken impression as regards that.
“The Mahatma has been always claiming that the Congress stands for the Depressed Classes, and that the Congress represents the Depressed Classes more than I or my colleague can do. To that claim I can only say that it is one of the many false claims which irresponsible people keep on making, although the persons concerned with regard to those claims have been invariably denying them.”
Meanwhile, the minorities had arrived at a pact. “Mr Gandhi was furious. He attacked everybody who had taken part in producing the Minorities Pact. He was particularly furious for the recognition given to the Untouchables as a separate political entity. This is what Mr Gandhi said: I would like to repeat what I have said before, that, while the Congress will always accept any solution that may be acceptable to the Hindus, the Muhammadans and the Sikhs, Congress will be no party to the special electorates for any other minorities. … One word more as to the so-called Untouchables. I can understand the claims advanced by other minorities, but the claims advanced on behalf of the Untouchables, that time is the unkindest cut of all.… It will create a division in Hinduism which I cannot possibly look forward to with any satisfaction whatsoever. I do not mind Untouchables, if they so desire, being converted to Islam or Christianity. I should tolerate that, but I cannot possibly tolerate what is in store for Hinduism if there are two divisions set forth in the villages.’”
Now about Gandhi’s offer to the Muslims. The first to reveal it was the great poet Iqbal who had attended the conference. Provoked by Nehru’s remarks on the Muslims’ attitude at the conference, Iqbal said in a statement on December 6, 1933: “I have never had the pleasure of meeting Pandit Jawaharlal, though I have always admired his sincerity and outspokenness. His latest statement in reply to his Mahasabhite critics has a ring of sincerity which is rare in the pronouncements of present-day politicians in India. It seems, however, that he is not in full possession of the facts regarding the behaviour of Muslim delegates to the Round Table Conference held in London during the past three years.…
“The truth, however, is that it was the Aga Khan himself who assured Mr Gandhi in the presence of several Indian delegates, including myself, that if the Hindus or the Congress agreed to Muslim demands, the entire Muslim community would be ready to serve as his (Mr Gandhi’s) camp-followers in the political struggle.
“Mr Gandhi weighed the Aga Khan’s words and his offer to accept Muslim demands came later and was hedged around with two conditions. The first condition was that Mr Gandhi would accept the Muslim demands in his personal capacity and would try to secure, but not guarantee, the acceptance of his position by the Congress.…
“Mr Gandhi’s second and most unrighteous condition was that Muslims should not support the special claims of Untouchables, particularly their claim to special representation. It was pointed out to him that it did not lie in the mouth of Muslims to oppose those very claim on the part of the Untouchables which they were advancing for themselves and that if Mr Gandhi could arrive at a mutual understanding with the Untouchables the Muslims would certainly not stand in their way. Mr Gandhi, however, insisted on this condition. I should like to know how far Pandit Jawaharlal with his well-known socialist views would sympathise with such an inhuman condition. This is the inner history of the negotiations between Mr Gandhi and Muslim delegates.” (Speeches and Statements of Iqbal; ed. Shamloo; Al-Manav Academy, Lahore; 1944; pages 190-192.)
Settlement with Muslims
Ambedkar published the full text of the document in 1940 in his seminal work Thoughts on Pakistan (1941), Appendix X (pages 364-365), with a footnote. “This document is coming to light for the first time. It embodies the efforts made by Mr Gandhi at the Second R.T.C. to bring about a communal settlement with the Muslims. It was circulated among the Muslim delegates. The author was able to secure a copy from a Hindu delegate who was acting with the Muslim Delegates at the R.T.C. Mr Gandhi failed to reach an agreement with the Muslims. All the same the document is both interesting and instructive. It reveals the ways and means adopted by Mr Gandhi to reach an agreement with the Muslims. Proposal No. 2 of Mr Gandhi is very significant. It shows that Mr Gandhi was prepared to give everything to the Muslims on condition that the Muslims agreed to side with him in opposing the claims of the Depressed Classes, the Indian Christians and the Anglo-Indians for special representation. Heretofore people only knew of the Minorities Pact tendered to the R.T.C. which was decried as being antinational. They did not know that Mr Gandhi was also engaged in forging a pact the object of which was to defeat with the help of the Muslims the just claims of the smaller minorities.”
In a statement issued in New Delhi on December 13, 1933, Gandhi gave his version: “What Sir Mohammed Iqbal calls two conditions attended to my personal acceptance of the Muslim demands were no conditions but the necessary consequence of my acceptance. Political unity was desired for political end which for me as for any Indian be a Hindu, a Muslim, a Christian or any other, could only be complete national independence in the fullest sense of the term. The Muslim demands were presented for arriving at common action. The Muslim friends in London were playing other minorities against vital national interest. If they accepted me as their ally, as I offered to be in uttermost sincerity, my alliance could only be for combating every force that was inimical to India’s freedom. It was, therefore, necessary to fight the spirit of separateness no matter from what source it arose. No Muslim had defended separate electorates as a thing good in itself. Even in their case the Muslim friends had admitted it as a necessary evil to be tolerated for a temporary period.
“The doctrine, therefore, did not admit of indefinite extension. The demand put forth on behalf of the so-called untouchables was clearly anti-national” (The Tribune; December 15, 1933).
Gandhi did not contest the fact of his condition; nor the genuineness of the document published by Ambedkar in 1940 and again in 1945 in his book What Congress And Gandhi Have Done To The Untouchables. The text is as follows:
MUSLIM DELEGATION TO THE ROUND TABLE CONFERENCE
Tel. Victoria 2360
Telegrams: “Courtlike” London.
57, St. James’ Court,
LONDON, S.W. I.
6th October, 1931.
The following proposals were discussed by Mr Gandhi and the Muslim Delegation at 10 p.m. last night. They are divided into two parts—the proposals made by the Muslims for safeguarding their rights, and the proposals made by Mr Gandhi regarding the Congress policy. They are given herewith as approved by Mr Gandhi, and placed for submission to the Muslim Delegation for their opinion.
1. In the Punjab and Bengal bare majority of one per cent of Musalmans, but the question of whether it should be by means of joint electorates and reservation of 51 per cent of the whole house, or separate electorates with 51 per cent seats in the whole house should be referred to the Musalman voters before the new constitution comes into force and their verdict should be accepted.
2. In other provinces where the Musalmans are in a minority the present weightage enjoyed by them to continue, but whether the seats should be reserved to a joint electorate, or whether they should have separate electorates should be determined by the Musalman voters by a referendum under the new constitution, and their verdict should be accepted.
3. That the Musalman representatives to the Central Legislature in both the houses should be 26 per cent of the total number of the British India representatives, and 7 per cent at least by convention should be Musalmans, out of the quota that may be assigned to Indian States, that is to say, one-third of the whole house when taken together.
4. That the residency power should vest in the federating Provinces of British India.
5. That the other points as follows being agreed to: (1) Sindh, (2) N.W.F.P. [North-West Frontier Province], (3) Services, (4) Cabinet, (5) Fundamental rights and safeguards for religion and culture, (6) Safeguards against legislation affecting any community.
MR GANDHI’S PROPOSALS
1. That the Franchise should be on the basis of adult suffrage.
2. No special reservations to any other community save Sikhs and Hindu minorities.
3. The Congress demands: (A) Complete independence, (B) Complete control over the defence immediately, (C) Complete control over external affairs, (D) Complete control over finance, (E) Investigation of public debts and other obligations by an independent tribunal, (F) As in the case of a partnership, right of either party to terminate it.”
Gandhi was an unforgiving man. On August 1, 1946, he wrote to Vallabhbhai Patel from Poona: “I have not been able to answer your letter fully. The main problem is about Ambedkar. I see a risk in coming to any sort of understanding with him, for he has told me in so many words that for him there is no distinction between violence and non-violence. He follows one single principle, viz. to adopt any means which will serve his purpose. One has to be very careful indeed when dealing with a man who would become a Christian, Muslim or Sikh and then be reconverted according to his convenience. There is much more I could write in the same strain. To my mind it is all a snare. It is a ‘catch’. Besides, it is not necessary for him at present to insist on 20 p.c. If India becomes independent in the real sense—the provinces to some extent are—and if the caste Hindus are true to themselves, all will be well. If we negotiate with Ambedkar out of fear of the [Muslim] League we are likely to lose on both the fronts” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; Volume 85, page 102). It is unthinkable that Ambedkar would have uttered those words—and to a political adversary. Gandhi’s imagination played havoc with him. Maulana Azad received the same treatment. In a letter to Nehru on July 24, 1947, Gandhi wrote: “I did not say anything yesterday about the Maulana Saheb. But my objection stands. His retiring from the Cabinet should not affect our connection with him. There are many positions which he can occupy in public life without any harm to any cause. Sardar [Patel] is decidedly against his membership in the Cabinet and so is Rajkumari [Amrit Kaur]. Your Cabinet must be strong and effective at the present juncture. It should not be difficult to name another Muslim for the Cabinet” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; Volume 88; page 408). Thus, if Gandhi had had his way, Azad would have been excluded from independent India’s first Cabinet—a reward for life-long support to the Congress. Nehru rejected the advice.
Ambedkar on Gandhi and Jinnah
Mohammad Ali Jinnah cited Thoughts on Pakistan to Gandhi, during their talks in Bombay in September 1944, and in his letter to Gandhi of September 17, 1944. Ambedkar spared neither of the two in the lectures he delivered in January 18, 1943, which were published under the title Ranade, Gandhi & Jinnah. “It would be difficult to find two persons who would rival them for their colossal egotism, to whom personal ascendency is everything and the cause of the country a mere counter on the table. They have made Indian politics a matter of personal feud. Consequences have no terror for them; indeed they do not occur to them until they happen. When they do happen they either forget the cause, or if they remember it, they overlook it with a complacency which saves them from any remorse. They choose to stand on a pedestal of splendid isolation. They wall themselves off from their equals. They prefer to open themselves to their inferiors. They are very unhappy at and impatient of criticism, but are very happy to be fawned upon by flunkeys. Both have developed a wonderful stagecraft and arrange things in such a way that they are always in the limelight wherever they go. Each of course claims to be supreme. If supremacy was their only claim, it would be a small wonder. In addition to supremacy, each claims infallibility for himself. Pius IX during whose sacred regime as Pope the issue of infallibility was raging said–‘Before I was Pope I believed in Papal infallibility, now I feel it.’ This is exactly the attitude of the two leaders whom Providence—may I say in his unguarded moments— has appointed to lead us.”
What Ambedkar called “this rather queer trait” in Gandhi’s character surfaced repeatedly. The Viceroy Lord Irwin with whom he concluded the famous pact that enabled him to attend the Round Table Conference, notified it. So did others like the writer Patrick French and the Viceroys, Wavell and Mountbatten.
So did M.C. Setalvad in his biography of Bhulabhai Desai. Citing Gandhi’s letter to Bhulabhai, Setalvad remarked: “The saint politician exhibits himself in this letter as possessed of all the arts of politics and of sweet reasonableness. … It is amply clear that the action of the Working Committee in excluding Bhulabhai from the legislature had Gandhi’s complete support. Indeed the letter seems to have been a skilful attempt at persuading Bhulabhai to make a public statement that he did not desire to enter the Assembly so that the pressure of public opinion which was being brought to bear upon the Sardar and Gandhi to make him a Congress candidate may cease.” Setalvad published photocopies of Desai’s pact with Liaquat Ali Khan which proved that it had Gandhi’s full support. Bhulabhai was wronged by Gandhi (Bhulabhai Desai, Publications Division, 1968, p. 291).
Setalvad rendered a service by publishing Stafford Cripps’ letter to Bhulabhai dated March 27, 1945. It contained a truth which Ambedkar had repeatedly pressed the Congress to accept. “I am more than ever convinced that we have got to use a great deal of inventiveness as regards to the new Constitution for India, since our methods of Western democracy are not I believe suitable to so large and densely populated a country as India, or to the communal situation which tends to make permanent the majority and the minority. The consent of the minority in our form of democracy depends upon the hope that one day it will become the majority through change of political views. Where, however, the differences are social or religious there is not that same reason for consent by the minority and I believe that we must invent some new means by which we can assure it.”
K.M. Munshi’s memoirs Pilgrimage to Freedom establish that Gandhi and Patel expected Britain to lose the war. Before the “Quit India” resolution was adopted on August 8, 1942, Gandhi sent Miraben (Madeleine Slade) to the Viceroy Lord Linlithgow, no doubt to explain matters. He refused to meet her. Gandhi was shocked at his arrest. On August 9, he told Mahadev Desai: “After my last night’s speech they will never arrest me” (ibid; page 2,356). The gamble failed. By August 1942, it was evident that the Axis would be defeated by Britain, the Soviet Union and the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” the United States.
Ambedkar traced his folly and that of Jinnah in his book Pakistan or the Partition of India (1946). In the earlier work Thoughts on Pakistan he had stated the case for both sides. He now expressed his own views with a wealth of learning. Let Ambedkar speak for himself.
“Mr Gandhi, instead of negotiating with Mr Jinnah and the Muslim League with a view to a settlement, took a different turn. He got the Congress to pass the famous Quit India Resolution on the 8th August 1942. This Quit India Resolution was primarily a challenge to the British Government. But it was also an attempt to do away with the intervention of the British Government in the discussion of the Minority question and thereby securing for the Congress a free hand to settle it on its own terms and according to its own lights. It was in effect, if not in intention, an attempt to win independence by bypassing the Muslims and the other minorities. The Quit India Campaign turned out to be a complete failure. It was a mad venture and took the most diabolical form. It was a scorch-earth campaign in which the victims of looting, arson and murder were Indians and the perpetrators were Congressmen.”
From prison, Gandhi began correspondence with Linlithgow and got nowhere. He next sought talks with Jinnah on the basis of Rajaji’s [C. Rajagopalachari] formula after his release in 1944. Ambedkar called the formula “a snare and not a solution”.
Jinnah rejected it after publicly subjecting it to a close textual analysis. But he escaped such an analysis of the Pakistan resolution because, during the talks, Gandhi asked some inane questions on September 15, 1944: “Is the goal of Pakistan Pan-Islam?” and “what is your definition of minorities”. Jinnah disposed of them with ease. Ambedkar was sorry about it. “What one feels sorry for is that the talks failed without giving us a clear idea of some of the questions about which Mr Jinnah has been observing discreet silence in his public utterances, though he has been quite outspoken about them in his private talks. These questions are (1) Is Pakistan to be conceded because of the Resolution of the Muslim League? (2) Are the Muslims, as distinguished from the Muslim League, to have no say in the matter? (3) What will be the boundaries of Pakistan? Whether the boundaries will be the present administrative boundaries of the Punjab and Bengal or whether the boundaries of Pakistan will be ethnological boundaries? (4) What do the words ‘subject to such territorial adjustments as may be necessary’ (in the Provinces’ boundaries) which occur in the Lahore Resolution mean? What are the territorial adjustments the League had in mind? (5) What does the word ‘finally’ which occurs in the last part of the Lahore Resolution mean? Did the League contemplate a transition period in which Pakistan will not be an independent and sovereign State? (6) If Mr Jinnah’s proposal is that the boundaries of Eastern and Western Pakistan are to be the present administrative boundaries, will he allow the Scheduled Castes, or, if I may say so, the non-Muslims in the Punjab and Bengal to determine by a plebiscite whether they wish to be included in Mr Jinnah’s Pakistan and whether Mr Jinnah would be prepared to abide by the results of the plebiscite of the non-Muslim elements in the Punjab and Bengal? (7) Does Mr Jinnah want a corridor running through U.P. and Bihar to connect up eastern Pakistan to western Pakistan? It would have been a great gain if straight questions had been put to Mr Jinnah and unequivocal answers obtained. But instead of coming to grips with Mr Jinnah on these questions, Mr Gandhi spent his whole time proving that the C.R. formula is substantially the same as the League’s Lahore Resolution—which was ingenious if not nonsensical— and thereby lost the best opportunity he had of having these questions clarified.”
Ambedkar trained his gun on Jinnah. “Unfortunately Muslims do not realise what disservice Mr Jinnah has done to them by this policy. But let Muslims consider what Mr Jinnah has achieved by making the Muslim League the only organisation for the Musalmans. It may be that it has helped him to avoid the possibility of having to play the second fiddle. For inside the Muslim camp he can always be sure of the first place for himself. But how does the League hope to save by this plan of isolation the Muslims from Hindu Raj? Will Pakistan obviate the establishment of Hindu Raj in provinces in which the Musalmans are in a minority? Obviously it cannot. This is what would happen in the Muslim-minority Provinces if Pakistan came. Take an all-India view. Can Pakistan prevent the establishment of Hindu Raj at the centre over Muslim minorities that will remain in Hindustan? It is plain that it cannot. What good is Pakistan then? Only to prevent Hindu Raj in Provinces in which the Muslims are in a majority and in which there could never be Hindu Raj!! To put it differently Pakistan is unnecessary to Muslims where they are in a majority because there, there is no fear of Hindu Raj. It is worse than useless to Muslims where they are in a minority, because Pakistan or no Pakistan they will have to face a Hindu Raj. Can politics be more futile than the politics of the Muslim League? The Muslim League started to help minority Muslims and has ended by espousing the cause of majority Muslims. What a perversion in the original aim of the Muslims League! What a fall from the sublime to the ridiculous! Partition as a remedy against Hindu Raj is worse than useless.”
He also established that partition of Punjab and Bengal was inevitable if India was to be partitioned. Even in 2015 this book brings home to Indians and Pakistanis alike the egregious follies committed by their leaders at a crucial phase in their history with lasting harm to the entire subcontinent. It only remains to add that unlike the Congress leaders, especially the Mahatma, who denounced Jinnah in private in intemperate language—notably to Louis Fisher. “He believes he is a prophet.” As for Subhas Chandra Bose, “I do not encourage the Bose legend. I did not agree with him. I do not now believe he is alive. Instinct made me believe to the contrary at one time, because he had made himself into a legendary Robin Hood. … You have a high opinion of statesmen. Most of them are stupid” (The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, pages 472-474). This was said on July 18, 1946. However, at a prayer meeting on May 31, 1947, Gandhi said, “God Willing, Jinnah Saheb too will come and sit here one day and say that he is not, and never has been, our enemy” (Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi; Volume 88; page 45). Three days later, the Partition Plan was announced. It was accepted by both the Congress and the Muslim League.
Ambedkar criticised Jinnah but also admired and respected him. “Mr Jinnah, who represents this ideological transformation, can never be suspected of being a tool in the hands of the British even by the worst of his enemies. He may be too self-opinionated, an egotist without the mask and has perhaps a degree of arrogance which is not compensated by any extraordinary intellect or equipment. It may be on that account he is unable to reconcile himself to a second place and work with others in that capacity for a public cause. He may not be overflowing with ideas although he is not, as his critics make him out to be, an empty-headed dandy living upon the ideas of others. It may be that his fame is built up more upon art and less on substance. At the same time, it is doubtful if there is a politician in India to whom the adjective incorruptible can be more fittingly applied. Anyone who knows what his relations with the British government have been will admit that he has always been their critic, if indeed, he has not been their adversary. No one can buy him. For it must be said to his credit that he has never been a soldier of fortune.” Ambedkar continued to criticise Jinnah. But when Ambedkar sought Jinnah’s help to build a college it was readily given.
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
WHEN the Greenpeace activist Priya Pillai was offloaded from a flight bound for London earlier this year, it marked the culmination of the government’s pursuit of her. It had begun much earlier, in Singrauli in Madhya Pradesh, when plainclothesmen on motorcycles followed her and her colleagues and when their phones were tapped intermittently. The non-governmental organisation (NGO) worked among Adivasis in the region who did not want mines where their homes and sources of livelihood were situated.
The pursuit became blatant at railway stations in Delhi when every time Priya took the train, she would get a call on her mobile from Singrauli. “Madam, when are you reaching here?” the caller asked. The regular interaction with the police and special cell personnel led to so much familiarity that some of them told Priya that there was a file being maintained on her. “We used to laugh it off because we did not realise that something big was coming. But now when I look back, I think we should have seen a pattern,” she told Frontline.
The matter took a serious turn when letters were planted in her name instigating members of the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti, which was fighting against mining in the region, to use violence against officials. Greenpeace filed a police complaint about it, but no action was taken. Priya was also named in an Intelligence Bureau (I.B.) report, leaked to the press last year, along with a host of organisations such as Amnesty, ActionAid, Cordaid and Survival International. Most people and organisations named in the report have spoken about protecting the human rights of indigenous people affected by nuclear power plants, uranium mines, coal-fired power plants, genetically modified organisms, mega industrial projects, hydel projects and extractive industries in the north-eastern region of the country.
Spying, intelligence gathering and planting stories against individuals that disagree with the state’s notion of development were prevalent when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was in government. G.N. Saibaba’s is a case in point. The Delhi University professor, who is 90 per cent disabled, was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act for conspiracy or attempt to commit a terrorist act and support for a terrorist organisation and imprisoned in Nagpur Central jail’s infamous anda cell a year ago. Civil society organisations feel that the aggressiveness displayed by the current government in targeting people who challenge the state’s development model is far more chilling.
They say under Congress president Sonia Gandhi, there was some semblance of a pro-poor agenda through the National Advisory Council, but the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance, having won a massive mandate and centralised all decision-making, has no need to hum and haw like the Congress in keeping its pro-corporate ties a secret. In an address to top judges in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at his caustic best while referring to civil society volunteers as “five-star activists”. Activists feel that the majoritarian government led by Modi at the Centre aims to stifle any voice from civil society and render it irrelevant in the long run.
Some 16 foreign donors have been put on the list of foreign funding agencies that require prior approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs for each transaction. Though Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju called this correspondent for an interview to his office in North Block, he wanted a written questionnaire via mail. The questionnaire went unanswered. Some of the organisations on the list are reportedly the Bertha Foundation of the Netherlands, the Climate Works Foundation, the Mercy Corps (which operated in Kashmir), the Bank Information Centre, the Sierra Club Foundation, Avaaz.org, ICCO Strategische Samenwerking, HIVOS, the Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid, the Inter-Church Peace Council, the Danish Institute of Human Rights, the Danish International Development Agency, and 350.Org. Reportedly, 69 NGOs have been blacklisted by the Centre and the registration of hundreds of NGOs has been cancelled. NGOs perceive this as an attempt to muzzle opposition to any pro-corporate activity undertaken by the government.
Members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which rose to power in Delhi State on the back of social activism, released a statement saying that they hoped the Prime Minister would desist from openly siding with businesses and interest groups and maintain the dignity of the high office he held. “We also believe that, as in the past, the judiciary will always stand by the Constitution and law while discharging their duties and will not heed to the loaded suggestions from any quarter. It may be noted that most of the anti-corruption breakthroughs in the 10-year rule of the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government have been made possible due to vigilance and activism of civil right activists. Now, in spite of the efforts of the BJP-led government to shut their voice, the efforts of the civil society shall continue unabated and with much more vigour,” the statement said.
Anil Chaudhary of INSAF, one of the organisations named in the I.B. report, says: “Intelligence gathering is a part of statecraft. Local I.B. officers often come to our office and I give them a seat, chat with them. They then file their reports to a district-level officer daily or on a weekly basis.” No covert action has been taken against the organisation after the court quashed the freezing of its account by the government, but Chaudhary is prepared for the worst. The process for the renewal of its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration is coming up, and he feels that the government can avoid special action in the case by simply denying it.
INSAF does not directly work at the grass roots but has 700 affiliates which do. The membership-driven organisation is a forum to express concerns about globalisation, communalism and threats to democracy, and it also conducts campaigns against genetically modified crops, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. Chaudhary finds no major difference in the underlying policies of the UPA and the NDA but points to a stark difference in the style of functioning.
Of the 16 donors on the government’s watch list, the Ford Foundation has been the most talked about. It is believed that its name cropped up as it funded the Sabrang Trust, the organisation headed by Teesta Setalvad, who is currently under scrutiny by the Gujarat government for alleged embezzlement of the trust’s funds. Many believe that Teesta is being hounded for her proactive role post-Gujarat 2002 riots as the secretary of the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP), which is a co-petitioner in seeking a criminal trial of Modi for his complicity in the riots. Her activism resulted in the conviction of Maya Kodnani, a former Minister in the Modi government in Gujarat, and Babu Bajrangi, a leader of the Bajrang Dal, a Sangh Parivar outfit.
“The trustees and office-bearers of the Sabrang Trust and the CJP do not see themselves as above the law. They believe in the law of the land and expect others to do so as well. We believe that neither the Sabrang Trust nor the CJP has violated the provisions of the FCRA or, for that matter, any law of the land,” is Sabrang’s response.
Apart from Sabrang, with which it reportedly no longer has any ties, the Ford Foundation also funds government-backed educational and research institutes such as IIT Bombay; the Tata Institute of Social Sciences; Jamia Milia Islamia; the National Academy of Legal Studies and Research (NALSAR) University, Hyderabad; and the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute of Health Sciences and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram. In response to a query by Frontline, the Ford Foundation sent a statement saying: “We are grateful for the opportunity to work in India and are extraordinarily proud of the contributions our grantees have made since our office opened. We wish to affirm that the foundation does not fund political parties. The foundation does, however, work with a range of other entities, including non-governmental organisations, government and quasi-government entities, universities, and for-profit entities, depending on the needs of the particular work involved. This includes engaging for-profit entities to provide services to the foundation and its grantee communities.”
Close to 200 civil society organisations have written a letter to the Prime Minister and the Home Minister on the larger issue of a crackdown tantamount to sacrificing people’s interests over corporate interests. It states that the I.B. report is a calculated character assassination attempt on a large number of credible activists, including Admiral Ramdas, Justice P.K. Mishra, Medha Patkar, S.P. Udayakumar, Achin Vanaik, Praful Bidwai, Prashant Paikray, K.P. Sasi, Surendra Gadekhar, Babloo Loitongbam, Lalita Ramdas, the late Banwarilal Sharma, the late Fr Tom Kochery, Aarti Chokshi, M.G. Devasahayam, Aruna Rodrigues, Kavita Kuruganti and others. “We understand that Narendra Modi is planning to execute a major corporate agenda of destroying India’s land, water and forests and since thousands of crores of rupees have been used from the corporate sector for his election campaign, there is an urgency to sell off India to the corporate interests. Therefore, this slander campaign is only to clear the ground to benefit the Indian and foreign multinational interests,” it states.
Wada no todo Abhiyan (“don’t break the promise campaign”) is a campaign of organisations that work towards strengthening democracy. “We are all credible, reliable and compliant organisations and not fly-by-night operators controlled by some foreign hand as is being made out. Whatever funds that come from outside are with the full knowledge of the government, and not illegally. We subsist from grant to grant, and to get the work done, we apply everywhere, to the government also. This is made legal by the government itself, so where is the foreign hand? Or is it wrong to talk about communal harmony and Dalit rights?” asks Paul Divakar, convener of the Abhiyan.
All such grants are approved by the Department of Economic Affairs under the Finance Ministry and have to be FCRA compliant. According to activists, the conclusion that can be drawn by the government’s action of moving the approval of some foreign funding agencies from the Finance Ministry to the Home Ministry is that the government does not trust the former to do it properly.
“There now seems to be a public agenda to completely silence any opposition and a blatant disregard of civil society,” said Divya Raghunandan, programmes director of Greenpeace India, which may face imminent closure. “If you don’t praise the government, you are termed anti-national.”
As much as 70 per cent of Greenpeace India’s funds are from domestic sources, which include 77,000 donors who transfer Rs.300 to Rs.700 a month through ECS debit and the rest from its parent organisation under the FCRA. Both are maintained as separate accounts, said Divya Raghunandan. Along with its foreign account, seven of the organisation’s domestic accounts have been frozen, an action that the NGO has challenged in a writ petition. This may affect the operations of the NGO beyond May, when it exhausts all of its existing funds and may no longer be able to pay salaries to its 350 employees or pay rent. “The government is welcome to review our books and we have been very cooperative throughout, but this seems like an intent to shut us down rather than about technicalities,” said Divya Raghunandan.
However, every time the NGO has been targeted, its donations have only gone up, and it may still survive the episode. Its employees have written that they are willing to go without pay for a while if necessary.
Greenpeace’s activism was bad PR for the government. It was raising uncomfortable questions about whom the development was for. Said Priya Pillai: “Nationalism is becoming the monopoly of a few people.”
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
New Delhi, June 8: There seems to be a twist in the tale in the Ishrat Jahan encounter case. The Home Ministry for the want of evidence has not granted permission to prosecute former Intelligence Bureau official Rajinder Kumar.
According to Central bureau of Investigation (CBI), the killing of Jahan and three others in a fake encounter in 2004 was result of joint conspiracy of Gujarat police and the IB.
The Central Bureau of Investigation which was handed over the case had sought sanction from the Home Ministry to prosecute Kumar, but the same was denied for the want of evidence. [MHA seeks more info from CBI on Ishrat fake encounter case]
The Ishrat Jahan case had snow balled into a controversy with several persons stating that she was not a terrorist and the killing by the Gujarat police was part of a fake encounter. CBI allegation against Rajinder Kumar: The CBI had filed a supplementary chargesheet in which it had named former IB officer Kumar. The CBI had accused Kumar and other officers of murder.
The chargesheet even questioned the authenticity of the operation and termed the killing as fake and stage managed. This claim was however, contested by several police officials and even Kumar terming the CBI probe as wrong.
The CBI had alleged that Kumar provided the weapons for the encounter. It was alleged that at the scene of the killing the officers had planted an AK-56 to make it appear as though the encounter was genuine. Ishrat Jahan a 19 year old girl was killed along with three other men at Gujarat in the year 2004.
The police had claimed that there was intelligence reports suggesting that all four of them were part of a terrorism plot aimed at assassinating Narendra Modi. What Kumar had said: Rejecting the allegations made by the CBI, Kumar had termed the entire case filed against him and others as false.
There was specific intelligence about the four persons including Ishrat, he had said. All of them were part of a terror plot and hence action had to be taken. We are all human beings and do not target innocent persons he had said. He had also told the CBI that there was no criminality in the action taken by all of them. The entire operation was bonafide, he had also said. I have done a lot to protect national interest and this was a counter terrorism operation he also said.
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
in Human Rights
Two summers ago, I found myself facing the prospect of living in a densely populated Muslim locality, a ghetto, in Uttar Pradesh’s old city of Allahabad. It was much against my will, as for about a year since moving to the land of the Sangam, I had resolutely resisted the possibility on multiple occasions. I am strictly opposed to the idea of religion-specific community living, especially when it’s forced upon you.
But now served a sudden ultimatum by the landlord of my present flat — a stone’s throw away from Anand Bhavan, the historic home of the Nehrus — I was house-hunting again. My present flat had come to me after a hard struggle, following dozens of rejections, much frustration and disgrace — to my claim, I was the sole non-Hindu in the building. A similar, unpleasant pattern ensued. Then one fine day, I received some hope. Surprisingly, it came from a Hindu Brahmin family. They were known to me through a reliable business friend, a distant relative of theirs. Without wasting time, we marched to the house. It was anything but up to mark; the ventilation was poor, for one. But I was desperate. We discussed the rent and other conditions. I accepted everything.
There were, unexpectedly, no questions about my food preferences or religion. I left satisfied and expressed gratitude to my friend. Three days later, carrying a new lock, I returned to seal the deal. And the landlord, a polite old man, mistakenly referred to me as “Amar ji.” I promptly corrected him. His face turned pale and he looked hopelessly at his wife. “Acha? … toh aap Musalman ho?” His voice grew distant. “Hum Musalmano ko nahi rakhte.” Since my friend was a Hindu, my potential landlord had perhaps assumed that he would only bring a Hindu tenant and never cared to ask. I was under the impression he knew of my identity but didn’t care. We were both wrong.
Back then, the old man’s words of rejection caused me much rage. Looking back, today I thank him for being as blatant as he was. In a perverse sense, we must pray for such brazen cases of intolerance to surface from time to time to remind us how deeply ingrained this malaise is.
“The codes of discrimination and prejudice in India are unwritten and veil themselves in ambiguity. It is often difficult for the victims to establish their case as it unfolds — sometimes it doesn’t at all — in a complex and obscure manner. ”
This was not the first time — and I am sure it won’t be the last — that I was dismissed for bearing a Muslim name. Not all instances were as dramatic or direct as the above. Usually, they are nasty and frustrating yet subtle and sophisticated. The codes of discrimination and prejudice in India are unwritten and veil themselves in ambiguity. It is often difficult for the victims to establish their case as it unfolds — sometimes it doesn’t at all — in a complex and obscure manner.
Most often the rejections and untimely evictions are shrouded with loose excuses; shameless telling of ‘out-of-bound’ (so-called secular) areas; blatant lies about occupancy (the most common ones are repair work, sudden marriage schedules or unexpected arrival of relatives); gastronomic preferences, often duplicitous. A Chaurasia landlord threw me out within a couple of months as he didn’t like me eating “meat machhi” in the house, though I often found his son eating chicken tandoori and drinking liquor on the terrace with his friends over a game of cards!
More generally, when a Hindu landlord rejects a Muslim for being non-vegetarian, does it mean the Muslim would have been treated better had he or she been a vegetarian? Unlikely.
Each time news breaks of a Muslim being denied a house in India, I am automatically tuned to reflect on my experiences. When it comes to housing matters, I tick all the wrong boxes possible: I am a non-vegetarian; bear a Muslim name and Kashmiri identity (a potential security threat); carry the stereotypes of a bachelor and a journalist; a tribe, along with advocates, not trusted by landlords for whatever reasons.
Due to this delicious mix, I can testify to some of the most outrageous experiences. Leave aside Hindus in Lucknow, the city of the Nawabs, Muslims refused to give me a flat. “We can’t give our house to a Kashmiri.” Their rejection was born out a fear that the police would hound them in case I was found complicit in a terror attack. A Muslim landlord, who accepted me after much reluctance, scrutinised my every habit and kept a keen tab on my activity. So, while I’m persona non grata for Hindus for bearing a Muslim name, some Muslims don’t give me a house for not acting like one.
On the whole, I was rejected by well-educated, well-earning, respected and refined people, not the naked savages we would have liked.
In an ever-urbanising India, house-hunting is an arduous task in itself regardless of identity. Non-vegetarian Hindus, bachelors, Dalits, homosexuals, people from the Northeast and women, to name a few clusters, are also subjected to comparable biases. Yet, as numerous reports and accounts have highlighted, it becomes next to impossible for Muslims to find a house of his/her liking. Various reasons are cited to explain this ‘No-Muslims’ climate.
Over the years, communal politics, communal profiling, media propaganda, stereotyping and de-humanising schemes have played a huge role in widening the rift between communities. In the present scene, many attribute it to a consequence of global Islamophobia post-9/11 and the perceived threats of terrorism. In Mumbai, India’s cosmopolitan city, the ghettoised landscape is attributed to the 1993 riots and the subsequent terror attacks. The venomous fangs of this segregation are taking new turns not only in India’s most urban spaces but also in its rural areas. In western Uttar Pradesh, rural ghettos have come up widely post the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal violence. Last year, much furore was created after news broke of a “Muslim-only” colony coming up in Greater Noida. Detractors said it would lead to further ghettoisation and, ironically I feel, questioned how it even fit into India’s constitutional ethos.
Many also used the case to explain, and justify, the reverse ghettoisation perpetrated upon Muslims. However, what they fail to acknowledge is that while ghettoisation is indeed harming the minority’s growth and further fuelling distrust, this particular case should be looked upon as a practical reaction to the bias they faced in proper New Delhi. If not, where is the outrage over the forced ghettoisation of Muslims across Indian cities and towns? For instance in Gujarat, recently a Muslim scrap dealer was forced to sell off his new bungalow in a Hindu-dominated locality in Bhavnagar simply because the Vishwa Hindu Parishad wouldn’t let him move in.
So how do we deal with situations of housing bias and discrimination on grounds of religion in general? There’s very little that comes to mind. Urban planners and legal experts have been perplexed by it. Many say the solution lies in promulgating a Free Housing Law. Yes, a need for such a statute against discrimination is the minimum requirement. Yet, laws in themselves are insufficient. In absence of a quick redressal system, the victims will be exposed to an expensive litigation process. The logic of ‘prevention is better than cure’ would apply better in this scenario.
Other solutions include adapting housing policies and anti-discrimination laws of other countries. The Singapore model of inclusive housing, which mandates housing complexes with a fixed percentage of different communities, is often cited. However, our cultural sensibilities are yet to reach those levels of maturity. And, given our demographic imbalance where one community has more than 80 per cent of population, it sounds a little impractical.
The first task facing us, however, is to conceptualise the issue with clear data. A solution that does not take into consideration a systematic study of the biases, which surface in a myriad ways, would be tenuous. Despite facing the bias on numerous occasions, directly and indirectly, I have little data to report my case, especially when it was done slyly.
In the absence of a clear statutory law prohibiting discrimination, the housing societies in the country are legally entitled to decide who can or cannot live in them. In 2008, Pune resident Madhavi Kapur was prevented from selling her flat to a Muslim couple as the society would not allow minority members. Surprisingly, this was preceded by a Supreme Court decision in 2005 in the Zoroastrian Co-operative Housing Society case, where it allowed the housing society to rent and sell accommodation only to members of a particular religious community. The legal implications of this case on other societies are contested.
Perhaps the government could incorporate a non-discriminatory, inclusive housing programme in its much-touted Smart Cities scheme, or incentivise building schemes. Yet, not much can be achieved without political will. Take for example, Mumbai, where the issue of ‘only vegetarian’ housing zones have acquired political significance. Last November, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) passed a resolution seeking to deny key clearances to builders and housing societies that discriminate against buyers on the basis of caste, religion or food habits. There has been little action on the proposal as it still awaits the approval of the Urban Development Ministry. The BJP, in power in Maharashtra, interestingly, did not vote for the proposal in what appears to be appeasement of Gujarati voters, who are traditionally vegetarian.
It’s been a year since I moved to Maximum City. Walking through the all-vegetarian zones in South Mumbai, and the adjoining Muslim ghettos, reminds me of its segregated spaces. Fortunately, thanks to a colleague, I was saved the trauma of house hunting. The house-hunting regimes are torturous for any young professional. For a Muslim Kashmiri, like me, it is often a case of re-education; one that threatens to alienate the citizen in me.
Communal harmony/tension in India is gauged by the frequency of riots. No violence implies all is well. However, long-term consequences of communal discrimination, alienation and ghettoisation programmes to India’s harmony cannot be overstated. Can there be smart cities with regressive mindsets?
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
in Human Rights
While the bill for an entire decade from 2004 to 2014 for MPs and ministers’ stay in five-star hotels totals Rs 19.77 crore, the BJP government has run up a bill of Rs 25 crore in a year. That’s a tad difficult to explain for a government that clamped down on ‘conferences in five-star hotels’ and curtailed first-class travel of bureaucrats.
But BJP MP and house committee chairman Arjun Meghwal tries to demystify this conundrum. “The present Lok Sabha has 330 first-time MPs who did not have accommodation in Delhi. This is the first time in many years that the Lok Sabha is filled with so many debutants, so it is obvious the bill would be higher,” said Meghwal.
MPs have to be provided official accommodation from the day they are sworn in. If a house is not available, they are put up in state guest houses or government-owned hotels, including Ashoka, Samrat and Janpath in the Capital.
Though the rack rent at Ashoka hotel is Rs 10,000, the rooms are provided for MPs at a subsidised rate of Rs 7,000. As per Ashoka Hotel officials, rates have not risen dramatically over the years.
But not all 330 first-timers stayed in five-star hotels. According to sources in the Urban Development Ministry, only 141 MPs were accommodated in Ashoka Hotel. “The bill is so huge because many of them stayed on for nearly a year in the hotel accommodation as they waited for their houses in Delhi,” said a senior UD ministry official. Till May this year, 32 MPs were still staying in Ashoka Hotel and vacated only after UD minister Venkiah Naidu threatened them with a notice that they would have to foot the bill themselves.
The Congress says they went by the norm that only ministers and senior leaders could stay in five-stars. “First timers were asked to stay in State Bhavans. The present government has been indiscriminate about allowing everyone to stay and as long as they wish,” former Congress MP J P Agarwal said. Agarwal headed the Lok Sabha House Committee from 2009 to 2014.
Another factor was that rooms remain blocked even for the long gaps when Parliament was not in session and the MPs were in their constituency.
“Even when the Parliament is not in session, MPs get a huge amount of mail. We can’t send it all the way to their constituency. Plus an MP needs basic office facilities like a fax machine and so on,” Meghwal explained. “The delay has been partly because the previous occupants took time to vacate. But it is also because many MPs could not make up their mind and were picky about the houses,” added a senior official.
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
in Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tags: Delhi government, finger test, rape victims, Sexual Assault, state health department, two finger test
by FP Staff Jun 8, 2015
Sparking what is bound to be an unwelcome controversy for the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, the state health department reportedly issued guidelines to city hospitals allowing the two finger test for sexual assault cases in select cases on the grounds that failure to do so could ‘result in injustice’. Those guidelines have now been hastily withdrawn by the AAP government which is promising action against the officials who issued them.
According to an Indian Express report, the guidelines on the test, which is also known as the ‘per vaginal test’ were issued by a three member committee of doctors on 31 May in which they recommended that physicians should not “be made to function under the constraint of a complete ban of these essential steps in the internal examination of a sexual assault victim.”
The committee also reportedly said there was a misconception that the test was conducted to judge if a woman is habituated to sexual intercourse and that the test was purely to examine genital organs for forced penetration, document injuries, check for injuries and collect samples.
It also said that the test was to be conducted only in certain cases after taking the informed consent of the woman and in the cases of very young girls under anaesthesia.
“To do away with this pelvic examination would amount to incomplete assessment of the victim and result in injustice and low conviction rates,” the guidelines reportedly state.
A senior doctor was also quoted as saying in Hindustan Times report that the test was conducted only in cases where sexual assault victims are bleeding or have some discharge.
“It is to treat the patient and save her life and we have been doing it in specific rape cases,” the doctor said.
The guidelines issued by the Delhi government come after the Central Information Commission asked the Delhi government to suo moto make public whether the controversial two-finger test to determine rape has been banned in the national capital since the health department failed to spell out a clear policy on it.
Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu had noted at the time that no test could be conducted which violates a victim’s right to privacy.
But despite the committee’s justifications, its directive ran completely against the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines, which are specific on the fact that the test is ‘not scientific’ and shall not be performed.
It’s not just the Union Health Ministry, as even the Supreme Court had earlier noted that the two finger test violated the right to privacy of the victim.
“Undoubtedly, the two-finger test and its interpretation violates the right of rape survivors to privacy, physical and mental integrity and dignity. Thus, this test, even if the report is affirmative, cannot ipso facto, be given rise to presumption of consent,” a bench had noted.
“Medical procedures should not be carried out in a manner that constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and health should be of paramount consideration while dealing with gender-based violence,” the bench said.
The Delhi health ministry’s justification that doing away with the test would result in low conviction rates is also completely wrong.
In a detailed report on sexual assault cases in India, lawyers had told Human Rights Watch that “usually no acquittal or conviction rests completely on the findings of the finger test, but the defense uses these findings to break the morale of the survivor while she is testifying in court, to question her character and credibility, or to dispute her consent to the sexual act under consideration.”
If kept in place, Delhi would have been the only state to endorse a test that is clearly outdated, unnecessary and violates a woman’s rights. The collection of forensic evidence for proving sexual assault clearly doesn’t require the two-finger test to be performed . More appalling was the state’s health department willingness to approve the test for child victims, even under anaesthesia is incomprehensible.
The AAP government is now hastily backtracking in the face of political fire, a belated decision that is hardly comforting for citizens who would expect the party and its leader to have never made such a callous error to begin with. The state health department guideline clearly violated the spirit of the Hippocratic oath which is clear in its directive: First, do no harm. A directive that the AAP government, would do well to embrace.
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
in Human Rights
NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS
National Office : 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 011 2437 4535 | 9818905316
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Web : www.napm-india.org
Homeless Satyagrahis Battled Heavy Rains
Awas Haq Satyagrah Entered 13th Day
Mumbai | 7th June 2015: As the pre-monsoon showers hit the parts of Mumbai and brought some respite from the heat, those struggling at Mandala for their housing right bravely stood up to the rains by holding with hands a loosely built pandal covered with crevice tarpaulin allowing water to fall in. The heavy the rain was falling louder the Satyagrahis happily started singing Shankaon Ke Sagar Hum Laang Jayenge, Mandala Yahin Basayenge (we will cross the sea of doubts, we will inhabit our Mandala here).
Meanwhile Satyagrahis managed to get an appointment with the Housing Minister Shri. Prakash Mehta, who they will be meeting in the afternoon tomorrow. Main demands would be to give them right to shelter, they should be allowed to stay at Mandala as the proposed beneficiaries with all the basic amenities and no demolition without the surveys of the houses as per new cut-off date.
The relay fast is still on and was carried forward by another 11 Mandala evictees. To strengthen the struggle, slum dwellers from other bastis also pouring in, considering the fight as a mutual one. The existing slums in Mumbai are striding for basic amenities. These slums lack schools, hospitals, toilets, electricity.
Pramila Choudhry Sushila Upadhyay Anwari Munawwar Mali Raju bhai
08 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
in Human Rights
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
In a grand gesture unusual for a 12-year-old, Maryam also contributed two cheques of Rs 11,000 each to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and said she would like to see the funds being used for educating orphaned and needy children in the state.
Calling herself an ambassador of peace, Maryam told TOI she is now on a mission to promote the cause of education for the poor.“Education is the only route to change their destiny ,“ she said. “I’m grateful to the UP government for conferring this honour on me. I, however, have the means to lead a reasonable life because the Almighty has been kind to my parents. But there are many children who are not as lucky as me. So, I have decided to return the cash award to the state government so that it can be used for the betterment of children in need,“ she said.
Maryam’s father Asif Siddiqui confirmed that they had submitted an official letter to the Uttar Pradesh government requesting them to use her cash award for educating children, instead.