Misuse Of Intelligence: Right To Dissent


By S.G.Vombatkere

27 January, 2012
Countercurrents.org

The national and state intelligence agencies have advised the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that “ some rights organisations ” that decry state violence are purposefully or at least effectively taking sides with Maoists and “ actively helping spread the Maoist ideology ”. The intelligence age ncies (“IB” is the term used in the report title), therefore opine that “ rights organisations ” lay themselves open to prosecution for “ aiding and abetting a criminal conspiracy .” The advice goes on to say that these rights organizations “ have extended their reach to those areas which help spread Maoist ideology ” and that they are “ functioning as the points persons for the Maoists ”. Accordingly, they have suggested that “ the Union government take steps to limit the activities of leading human rights organizations ”. [1] .

This bodes ill for rights organizations and persons who agitate for civil, democratic, dalit, women’s, human et al rights. That such advice is condemnable is to put it mildly. It is a generalized verdict against rights organizations (notwithstanding that the word “some” has been used), implying that demanding people’s constitutional rights from the State and agitating for them with the State tantamounts to opposing the very idea of the State as the Maoists are reputed to do. This amounts to equating dissent with disloyalty. If people are not to agitate for rights for fear of being clubbed with Maoists, it amounts to denial of democratic rights by instilling fear into public life to enforce conformity with whatever the State deems fit to provide to the public. This leads in the direction of a totalitarian state disguised as a democracy, with the people’s servants becoming the people’s masters. As one wag put it, the leaders who shout “Power to the people!” want the people to shout “Power to the people!” so that people’s power is transferred to the leaders who shout “Power to the people!”.

Workers in rights organizations support the rights of people who are not empowered to agitate their own rights themselves. This involves demanding information from governments, or criticizing, rejecting or resisting governments’ policies, plans, projects or actions. This is dissent being voiced within society. Dissent should be used as a “thermometer” by governments to get a measure of social agitations and diagnose their fundamental reasons. These agitations may be for food, water, employment, fair wages or their enhancement, better working conditions, minimum support price (by farmers), etc. However, in present times, the agitations are more frequently in the form of resistance to governments’ plans or policies, or government-approved corporate projects that take away land and/or livelihood from people who are already variously disadvantaged. Agitations in Odisha against mining and industrial projects of Vedanta and POSCO; Jaitapur (Mah), Koodankulam (TN), Kovvada (AP) against nuclear power plants; Polavaram (AP), Tipaimukh (Manipur), Gerukamukh (Assam) against dams, are merely the most recent, on-going agitations that are reported in the media. Governments with a sense of social justice and equity would “treat” the agitations as social ills, with the democratic political tools of consultation and dialogue. But this is not happening. Rather, governments use the intelligence agencies to stoke trouble so as to provide justification for use of police or military force to brutally break the backbone of the dissenting movement.

Dissent can be peaceful and persuasive, or peaceful and vocally militant, or militant and armed. Thus, not all dissent is militant or armed. (We are not discussing insurgency or terrorism). This may be observed across the length and breadth of the country. However, the intelligence community – which operates under intense secrecy and is, in that sense, an anti-democratic organization – glosses over these differences in dissent. In the report mentioned above, it seeks to tar all dissent with the same brush, and then brand it as direct or clandestine support to Maoists.

The intelligence community is neither stupid nor inefficient. Their advice rendered to MHA is designed to ensure advantage to corporate demands for land and other resources. The intention of the advice in question is clearly to sideline or minimize dissent or criticism of state policies and actions; and if that is not possible, to crush it using state / central police or the military. The reason for this intention is widely understood as inspired by corporate need for land and/or raw material resources, to provide obscene profits to the corporates and huge kick-backs to those who collude with the concerned corporates. A P-B-P-C (politicial-bureaucrat-policeman-corporate) nexus that implements neo-liberal economic policies and operates against already poor and disadvantaged people by dispossessing them of their lands or livelihoods, is behind such use of state force. (Not all politicians, bureaucrats, policemen or corporations form this nexus). What is worse, this is done in the “public interest”, which makes it even more hurtful to those whose lives are small change in this so-called pursuit of public interest by governments to benefit corporates. This has been exposed repeatedly in many states in our country.

It is by now well recognized that the State has a predilection to suppress dissent by use of police or military force rather than address it by time-tested political means of dialogue and consultation. Further, the State is also prone to report its use of force as achievements of body-counts of militants and capture of weapons and ammunition. When human rights organizations question and investigate these actions and encounters, and bring the matter into the public domain, the police often (and the military less often) spin a web of lies and half-truths to deny wrong-doing. This is as often as not, at the behest of, or with the tacit support of, or at least within the knowledge of, the State.

This has been brought out most recently and very succinctly by a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and C.K.Prasad . In a news report [2] , the counsel for the State of Gujarat denied the allegations of fake encounters and questioned the bonafides of the petitioners, who were obviously defending the right to life of those killed in police encounters. The Court told the Gujarat State counsel, “ It [sic] is no point questioning the bonafides of the petitioners. Why in Gujarat [sic] when the matter comes [up before court] the state initially stoutly denies it. When the matter is scratched even slightly the fact comes to light and then the State government admits it as a fake encounter .” While this particular case refers to Gujarat, a similar attitude of State governments can be easily demonstrated from almost every state in India. Such rights petitioners are “bad boys” who possibly get to be watched for suspected links with Maoists. Even a person who comments upon or criticizes governments’ policies and actions, especially their handling of dissent would possibly be on some intelligence watch list.

The advice of the IB to MHA questions the bonafides of rights organizations across the board even though they may have named only “some” organizations. (The names of such organizations or persons is often confidential or secret). It goes on to advise that they may be prosecuted for “ aiding and abetting a criminal conspiracy .” It is well known that police are apt to foist false criminal charges against leading activists in peaceful movements that stand their ground in opposing State policies or actions. One of the methods in their capacious “bag of dirty tricks” (framing false charges, illegal detentions, faked encounter killings, custodial torture and killings, etc.) is for police intelligence to secretly infiltrate their operatives or agents into peaceful protest meetings and demonstrations to initiate violence – just stone-throwing sometimes suffices, but at other times public or private property is destroyed. This gives police the necessary “justification” for filing suitable criminal charges against “ring leaders”. Suppressing people’s dissent is itself certainly anti-democratic, but using police intelligence methods as outlined above is plainly State criminality by elected and appointed officials who are de jure public servants but de facto public masters. To be fair, peaceful movements do occasionally turn violent on their own, without “help” from the police.

This not a digression from the IB’s advice to MHA. It indicates the mind-set of people in government, who are in positions of power. Whether these worthies actually serve the people of their constituencies or of the state or country has been discussed ad nauseum , but the preponderant view is that they do not. One view point that bears repetition in this context is, “ It is unfortunate that governments do not understand the oft-repeated position of human rights and other social activists, that standing against [state] violence does not mean sympathy with or support for militant groups, that there is a third position which is equidistant from both sides of the conflict, and that the position of “if-you-are-not-with-us-you-are-against-us” is deeply flawed in the common law and social senses. Equally unfortunate, speaking against violence and in favour of peaceful negotiations is interpreted by government as opinions of misguided peaceniks at best, or as overt or clandestine collaboration with militants. ” Also, “ In matters such as the militancy and terrorism that are presently rife, many people fear that governments’ policy that militancy (caused by decades-long neglect and misgovernance) should be crushed by the use of police and military firepower, will make presently bad situations worse. Such people take the so-called third position, … and [are] in favour of peace and harmony. ” [3] . This is a viewpoint that is socially responsible and the only viable long-term solution to militancy.

All people who respect the Constitution and value the rights and freedoms that flow from that hallowed document need to vehemently and publicly condemn the advice of the intelligence agencies against rights organizations, that diminish those freedoms and rights and make nonsense of the Constitution. We do not want India to become a police state. The MHA needs to unequivocally assure the people that such unconstitutional advice from the intelligence agencies will be rejected out of hand and the person(s) of the intelligence community who rendered the advice will be put through a formal course of education on the Constitution of India.

(1,686 words of text)

References

1. Anil Sinha and Deepak K Upreti, “ Rights groups fronting for Maoists, says IB ”; < http://www.deccanherald.com/content/221668/rights-groups-fronting-maoists-says.html >; Deccan Herald, New Delhi, Jan 23, 2012.

2. “ Supreme Court orders probe into all fake encounters in Gujarat ”; The Hindu, Bangalore; January 26, 2012, page 1.

3. Vombatkere S.G., “ The Third Position – Non-alignment with violence ”; Mainstream, New Delhi; Vol XLVIII No 13, March 20, 2010, p.29-31.

S.G.Vombatkere retired as major general after 35 years in the Indian military. He is engaged in voluntary social work, and is member of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) and People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). As Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of Iowa, USA, he coordinates and lectures a course on Science, Technology and Sustainable Development for under-graduate students from USA and Canada. He holds a master of engineering degree in structural engineering from the University of Poona and a PhD in civil structural dynamics from I.I.T, Madras.: sg9kere@live.com

Cow Urine in BJP manifesto


New Delhi, :If re-elected to power in Uttarakhand, BJP will encourage the production of filtered Gau Mootra (cow urine) in the state, says a rather ambitious party manifesto.

Among a host of promises on the ‘development’ front, the staple of each poll manifesto, BJP also has promises related to cow, ranging from utilisation of the animal’s products for medicinal purposes to provision of shelters for ageing and sick cattles.

The party’s Uttarakhand in-charge and national general secretary, Thawarchand Gehlot, detailed the uses cow urine would be put to: “Gau Mootra is filtered and cleaned to produce a concentrated juice called ‘ark’. This helps cure various diseases from cancer to injuries.”
Cow urine also helps produce medicines for the treatment of eye and ear diseases.” The urine can also be dried to produce tablets, Gehlot said, adding yoga guru Baba Ramdev in Uttarakhand and Kamal Kishore Nagar in Madhya Pradesh have made medicines from cow urine.

The uses, apparently, are not restricted to humans alone, but will widely benefit agriculture and environment. “The liquid (derived from filtered cow urine) can be used as a fertiliser. It does not harm soil like the fertilisers having strong chemicals,” Gehlot said.

Flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a na...

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BJP’s ideological mentor RSS has been promoting ‘scientific’ experiments on the five cow products (Panchgavya), including urine and dung, exploring everything from medicinal properties to making a cola from cow urine and endorsing cow urine as a fertiliser, thereby improving soil fertility as well as increasing farmers’ income.

Days ago, the BJP’s central cow development cell had taken offence at the media calling the Madhya Pradesh government’s cow–related initiatives “superstitious”.
Thanks Hindustan times

Press Release- Development and Governance are just words on paper in Bihar


English: Nitish Kumar

Image via Wikipedia

Patna, January 27 : ‘Development’ and ‘Governance’ was the poll plank for Nitish Kumar which brought him to power for Second term in Bihar. But what is the reality on ground ? Lokshakti Abhiyan on its fifth day in Bihar reached Patna after travelling through five districts of North Bihar. In Patna the Abhiyan attended a big public meeting at the Kargil Chowk next to historic Gandhi Maidan. The meeting on issues of urban poor organised in the wake of new slum policy in Patna was organised jointly by twelve organisations of Bihar under the banner of National Alliance of People’s Movements including Jhuggi Jhopdi Sangharsh Morcha, Jhuggi Jhopadi Morcha Samiti, Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan, Ekta Parishad, Nidan, Seva Kendra, Vanchit Samaj and others.

Later they marched to the CM’s residence breaking the Sec 144 since Nitish Kumar’s government refused to meet the delegation due to scheduled appointments with the officers of all the districts. However, later he sent a message saying that he is unwell and sent his Secretary to meet. A delegation of ten people met and gave him the Memorandum on different issues. The delegation included, Sister Dorothy, Arun Kumar, Syurendra Mandal, Kishori Das, Mahendra Yadav, Kamayani Swami and others.

Medha Patkar addressing the gathering said, “It is extremely unfortunate that Nitish Kumar coming from Socialist traditions has forgotten the tradition of dialogue. Dialogue with the people’s movements, who disagree with his agenda of development and governance. His agenda of privatization of basic services like health, education, water, shelter, transport and employment in every sector. What kind of development is this that State is withdrawing from every sector of basic services and handing its role to contractors big small and leading to complete informalisation of labour. What is this kind of development where on small pretext police opens fires leading to death of four people including children and women, implicates innocent villagers in false cases, put them behind bars and there is no one from the Government with whom there is a possibility of dialogue. The ugly face of development is beginning to show and people’s movements will have to intervene to put a halt to this.”

Sister Dorothy from Ashray Adhikar Abhiyan said, “in the new development paradigm there is no space for poor people be it in villages or slums in city. The new slum policy will lead to large scale evictions in the cities of Bihar. In the name of beautification and widening of streets lakhs of people will be evicted and displaced. They are already on margins where will they go? It is for this reason that we have to come together and fight. In coming months we will launch strong agitations against the displacement unleashed on the communities.”

Speaker after speaker narrated the same tale about this new face of development. Lokshakti Abhiyan members also witnessed the same be it the situation after floods in Kosi region; struggle against Asbestos factory in Madwan, Muzzafarpur; worker’s movements in Kanti Thermal Power Factory; Killing of four people protesting against Starch Factory; corruption in MNERGA and farmers protests against land acquisition for Highways.
After the tour of five days and interacting with movements of the state the memorandum submitted by the delegation demanded the following :

– Immediate relief to the families of 4 people killed in Farbesganj, Araria police firing. Withdrawing false cases against villagers of Bhajanpur. Immediate completion of enquiry by the commission of Enquiry and implementation of the recommendations of the Minorities Commission.

– Withdrawl of false cases against the people of Kanti and implementation of the agreement between the administration and villagers which required providing electricity to those living within 8 kms of the Kanti Thermal Power Station.

– Providing compensation to the farmers whose land has been destroyed in the Kosi floods and take immediate action to restore the land to fertility after removing the sand.

– Investigate in to the MNREGA corruption.

– Amend Slum Policy and provide insitu development to the slum-dwellers after consulting them.

Lokshakti Abhiyan will travel to Jharkhand tomorrow and hold a public meeting in kankenagari where land of Adivasis is being acquired for setting up Indian Insitutute of Management Campus and then hold a public meeting at Jagannathpur Chowk in Ranchi.

Medha Patkar, Vijay Kumar, J P Singh, Rajendra Ravi, Rakesh Rafiq, Roshanlal Agarwal, Kamayani Swami, Ashish Ranjan, Mahendra Yadav, Nagesh Tripathi, Ashu Chauhan, Amar Misra, Ashok Purusharthi, Thakur Devendra, Madhuresh Kumar.

For details call : Ashish Ranjan 9973363664 Madhuresh Kumar 9818905316

True lies of biometric technology in Aadhaar enrolment


Biometric scanning of fingerprints during the launch of UID enrolment at the General Post Office in Bangalore

Biometric scanning of fingerprints during the launch of UID enrolment at the General Post Office in Bangalore

January 27, 2012

Let’s ask the professors UIDAI cited in its latest report: Do you agree with UIDAI’s assessment of Aadhaar? Do you share their confidence in the project? Did UIDAI ask you in advance, before using your name for their marketing purposes?

David Moss

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) have been accused of making false claims about the reliability of the biometrics that its unique identification number (UID) or Aadhaar scheme relies on. The report released earlier this week by UIDAI is in response to those criticisms.

UIDAI say that “… based on the analysis, it can be stated with confidence that UIDAI enrolment system has proven to be reliable, accurate and scalable to meet the nation’s need of providing unique Aadhaar numbers to the entire population. It is now safe to conclude that the system will be able to scale to handle the entire population”. But that is mere assertion, it begs the question, they would say that, wouldn’t they.

They need independent and respected biometrics experts to agree with them, if this report is to boost confidence in UIDAI’s abilities. They mention several names. The casual reader may assume that these named experts all agree with UIDAI’s conclusion that Aadhaar will work. It would be instructive to ring them up and ask them directly for their opinion.

Does Professor John Daugman, for example, agree with UIDAI when they say that “… although [the false positive identification rate of 0.057%] is expected to grow as the database size increases, it is not expected to exceed manageable values even at full enrolment of 120 crores”? It seems unlikely—Professor Daugman is the man who first pointed out that any attempt to prove uniqueness in a large population of biometrics must drown in a sea of false positives, please see id-card-will-drown-in-a-billion-mismatches-39294213

And does Professor Jim Wayman, for example, agree with UIDAI when they say that “… based on the [receiver operating characteristic] model, the UIDAI expects the accuracy of the system to remain within the same order of magnitude as reported above. Hence it can be stated that system will be able to scale to handle the entire population without significant drop in accuracy”? It seems unlikely—Professor Wayman is the lead author of a paper which concludes that biometrics is a discipline out of statistical control, the results gathered so far tell you nothing about what to expect in future, please see   FundamentalIssues_Final.pdf
If the two professors agree with UIDAI and renounce their earlier statements, well and good.

But if, on the other hand, they say that they have no reason to believe that UIDAI is right, they have not had a chance to assess the evidence that UIDAI claims to have, they do not understand why UIDAI has mentioned their names, then this schoolboy attempt to justify UIDAI’s waste of public money will fall humiliatingly flat on its face.

(David Moss spent eight years campaigning against the UK’s National ID (NID) card scheme, which was finally scrapped by the British government. Mr Moss is an MA in Philosophy from Cambridge University, MSc in Software Engineering from Kingston. With a career spanning of over 35 years, Mr Moss at present works as director at Business Consultancy Services Ltd and can be contacted at bcsl@blueyonder.co.uk.)

by- Sucheta Dalal  http://www.suchetadalal.com/

More than 1000 farmers commit suicide every year in Bengal


KOLKATA, Jan 27 – Although the Chief Minister of Bengal has ruled out the recent farmer’s death in the state but according to the State Agriculture Minister, Rabindranath Bhattacharya, last year there were 1,200 farmer suicides, while in 2009 and 2010 there were 1,054 and 993 farmer suicides, respectively.

The CM‘s rejection came a day after Bengal Governor stated that farmer’s suicide is an ‘unfortunate’ incident. The CM claimed that there was only one farmer’s death since she came to power. There were reports of 26 such incident in last eight weeks alone.

Mr Bhattacharya, however, admitted that they were handicapped by severe fund crunch, adding that the poor condition of the state exchequer and failure to set up sale counters across the state delayed paddy procurement.

Although the government ruled out distress sale leading to farmers suicide at a mass scale, it has decided to take a special drive and conduct camps in the next one month to procure additional paddy.

The state food and supplies department plans to procure around 1000 metric ton of paddy through camps that would be held on 27 and 29 January. Similar camps would be held next month as well. Till now, the government has procured 3.67 lakh metric ton of paddy and is yet to procure 13 lakh metric ton. The Food Corporation of India targets a procurement of 4.5 lakh metric ton within September.

Ms Bannerjee also rejected the suggestion of CPI-M MLA that an all party team should visit the place. Congress and CPM, both, criticized this decision of Bannerjee.

By- Jitendra, Newzfirst at http://www.newzfirst.com/web/guest/

Feminist Kolaveri on Declining Sex Ratio


kracktivist

 – Lyrics composed by Sharmila Rege, Sneha Gole & Sugeeta Roy Choudhury 

( I have edited few lines, so that its not anti abortion language  )

Yo people

We are singing song,

 Hard-hit song, Hit-Hard song

Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di,  Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di

Message correct

Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di

Sex Ratio up please

Why this Kolaveri (…..) – haan Di

Boy on moon moon-u

Girl out of sight-u

Social background wrong-u wrong-u

So girls’ future black-u

Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di,  Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di

No one want girl girl – u

All hearts black – u

Change it now now now

Or future dark

Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di.  Why this Kolaveri Kolaveri Kolaveri Di

Pa pa pa pein pa pa pa pein,  pa pa pein pa pa pein

Pa pa pa pein pa pa pa pein, pa pa…

View original post 86 more words

Military Sexual Abuse: A Greater Menace Than Combat


26 January 2012
by: H. Patricia Hynes, Truthout | News Analysis

“A woman who signs up to protect her country is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire,” stated former California Democratic Rep. Jane Harman in testimony before a July 2008 House panel investigating the military’s handling of sexual assault reports. The Congresswoman added that her “jaw dropped” when she learned from military doctors that four of ten women in a local veterans hospital had been raped by fellow soldiers. What’s equally startling, though, is that Harman – a reputed national security insider and a strong supporter of women in the military – was in the dark about rampant military sexual assault.

Not long after the hearing, one of the most eye-opening accounts of the sexual torment of women soldiers, “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq,” was published. The author, Columbia professor and journalist Helen Benedict, had interviewed more than 40 soldiers and vets, mostly women, who came from all branches of the military except the Coast Guard. They included active-duty soldiers as well as reserves and National Guard, and held a variety of ranks, from privates up to a general. Most served in Iraq, a few in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Of these, Benedict chose five whose war lives most reflected the diverse experiences of female soldiers in Iraq, and she followed them over the course of years, uncovering “the universal stories of war” in their individual experiences. They elected to have their stories told because they “wanted people to know what it was like to be a woman at war.”

The common motif threading through their narratives is, in the words of one, that “The mortar rounds that came in daily did less damage to me that the men with whom I shared my food.” Most of the women she followed were pushed to and beyond the limits of their substantial emotional and physical resilience, and, ultimately, the sexually abusive environments shattered them. The military inculcates into recruits that their comrades are their family in order to assure loyalty on the battlefield. Benedict concludes that the pervasive and constant sexual assault by “brothers in arms” has left many women veterans ashamed, terrified, blaming themselves irrationally and without trust in others. “Many turn to drugs or drink to numb the pain, losing control of their lives.”

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The journalist reports that she felt herself in a “time warp” as she listened to women soldiers’ accounts of training and active duty in war. So pervasive was woman-hating in military culture, from boot camp through active duty, with obscene comments on breast size, relentless staring and ridicule, sexist rhymes, and pornography everywhere, including in latrines and common areas, that she characterized it sexual persecution.

Victims Turned Advocates

Susan Avila-Smith is a survivor of military sexual trauma (or MST), the Veterans Administration (VA) term for the corrosive burden of persistent sexual harassment and sexual assault experienced in the military. As director of the veterans’ advocacy group Women Organizing Women, she has assisted women and men sexual trauma victims for 15 years.

Of the 3,000 I’ve worked with, only one is employed. Combat trauma is bad enough; but with military sexual trauma, it’s not the enemy. It’s our guys who are doing it. You’re fighting your friends, your peers, people you’ve been told have your back. That betrayal, then the betrayal from the command is, they say, worse than the assault itself.

She described the stark bewilderment of having someone who is supposed to save your life in battle, turn on you and rape you. “You don’t want to believe it’s real. You don’t want to have to deal with it. The family doesn’t want to deal with it. Society doesn’t want to deal with it.”

Nor does the military.

In a 2011 interview on National Public Radio, Panayiota Bertzikis, a Coast Guard veteran and founder of the Military Rape Crisis Center in Cambridge Massachusetts, describes the retaliation against victims for reporting sexual assault. She was raped by a fellow Coast Guard member, given no medical services, made to continue working with her rapist and ultimately dismissed from the Coast Guard as unfit for duty.1 The source of her “unfitness for duty” was the trauma she suffered from both the assault and her futile attempts to seek justice from a stonewalling commander who told her to “shut up and leave his office.” Bertzikis is one of 17 plaintiffs in a class-action suit filed February 15, 2011, in Federal District Court in Virginia, against former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, charging them with failure to protect service members from repeated rape and sexual assault in the military and failure to investigate complaints or prosecute and punish perpetrators.

Sexual Assault and Harassment: Epidemic in the Military

Women in the military are raped and sexually assaulted at significantly higher rates than in civilian society. A 2003 study of women seeking health care through the VA from the period of the Vietnam war through the first Gulf War found that nearly 1 in 3 women was raped while serving – almost twice the rate of rape in US society – and that 8 in 10 women had been sexually harassed during their military service. Rates were consistent through all periods and wars studied. Of those who reported having been raped, 37 percent were raped at least twice and 14 percent were gang-raped.

What’s often overlooked in these statistics is that the reported prevalence of rape in the military is based on a period of 2-6 years in military service, whereas the sexual assault of women in civilian society (nearly 1 in 5) is based on lifetime prevalence – signifying an even more concentrated culture of sexual assault and a higher threat for active-duty military women from fellow soldiers. A distinct pattern has emerged from VA studies which reveals older and sometimes senior men rape younger and more junior women, exposing the dominance motive in rape.

In the spring of 2011, the Air Force released results from a survey of sexual assault conducted by Gallup of nearly 20,000 male and female “airmen” (sic). Nearly 1 in 5 women reported being sexually assaulted while in the service, with most of the perpetrators being men in the Air Force. Eighty-three percent of those assaulted did not report the crime because they “did not want to cause trouble in their unit”‘ or did not want supervisors, family or fellow airmen to know. According to clinical psychologist David Lisak, who helps train military lawyers, one of the setbacks in justice for Air Force women assault victims is that military lawyers representing them are often young and inexperienced in sexual assault cases. On the other hand, many alleged perpetrators hire specialized and experienced civilian sexual assault defense lawyers.

In contrast to surveys of women veterans and the 2011 Air Force survey, the Department of Defense (DoD) statistics of active-duty women do not reveal the extreme rates of rape because an estimated 80 percent are not reported while women are in the military. This compares to 60 percent of rapes going unreported in civilian society. Many factors conspire to shape a threatening and asymmetric environment that defeats women’s reporting of sexual assault: fear of not being believed or of being accused of lying by one’s commander; risk of retribution in a closed, rigidly hierarchal institution; the culture of male impunity; and the prevalence of older and higher-ranking soldiers raping younger and junior-ranking women. Other peer-driven dynamics are also at play within a tightly confined military environment. Fears of looking weak, cowardly, or disloyal, or of being ostracized or becoming the object of gossip further function as censors and constraints on soldiers who might otherwise report sexual assault.

Worse than Combat Trauma

A 2008 review of studies documenting the prevalence and health consequences of military sexual trauma found that younger, less educated women and those at enlisted rank are more likely to be victims of sexual assault than older, more educated women and women officers. Women victims of military sexual trauma suffer significantly more depression and alcohol abuse, poor health, and chronic health problems, including chronic fatigue, back and pelvic pain, and gastrointestinal problems and headaches.

Studies have found that military sexual assault contributes more strongly to developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than combat-related stress, and that those assaulted sexually suffer more PTSD than those with other trauma. One striking VA study of more than 300 women veterans enrolled in a clinical program for stress disorders found that “sexual stress (stress related to sexual harassment and abuse) was almost 4 times more influential than duty-related stress in the development of PTSD.” A 2005 study of 30,000 Gulf War veterans3 had an added finding: sexual assault during military deployment put victims at risk of PTSD more than “high” combat exposure.

The reasons given for such profound consequences of sexual abuse in the military are akin to the reasons women do not report sexual abuse. These include the torturing combination of isolation within a confined, no-exit environment; threat of death from the rapist; marginalization and punishment when reporting abuse; no one watching your back; and a command that wants the problem and “the messenger” to go away. It’s a toxic, private war zone that takes more psychic strength to endure than combat.

Self-Defense Tactics

When women veterans were asked how they protected themselves from unwanted sexual contact, they reported behaviors and actions familiar to most women, particularly where sexual harassment and threat of sexual violence are prevalent. Many avoided eye contact with male soldiers and were intentionally less friendly; some dressed in “more masculine or unattractive” ways. Other women socialized only with groups of women or developed a relationship with a male soldier to secure themselves from rape and harassment. One-quarter of women responded that they carried a weapon and readied themselves for self-defense on base. Others moved off-base to reduce their risk of sexual violence or to enjoy leisure time without sexual harassment. The ultimate self-protection – leaving the military earlier than planned – was chosen more often by women who were raped than by those who were not.4

The most tragic consequence of self-protection from sexual assault is the deaths of several women soldiers in Iraq who died from dehydration in their sleep. Despite the 120-degree desert heat and little to no air conditioning, they stopped drinking liquids after 3 or 4 PM. They did so to avoid using remote, unlit latrines after dark because of the high risk of being raped by fellow soldiers. Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, senior US military commander in Iraq, ordered a coverup of this potentially explosive news, directing the reporting surgeon to omit in oral briefs that the deceased soldiers were women and not to list the cause of death on their death certificates. His attitude? “The women asked to be here, so now let them take what comes with the territory.”

The DoD response to sexual terrorism in its midst calls to mind another male-controlled, ultra-hierarchical institution whose bedrock lies in its smug sense of God-ordained authority and its entitled tradition of living above the law. In the next installment of this series, “The Military and the Church: Bedfellows in Sexual Assault,” we will turn a critical eye to the patterns of military response to sexual assault in its ranks, namely, DoD’s vaunted reforms to staunch the deluge of military sexual crimes.

Koodankulam a national shame, says Binayak Sen


 

Over 5,000 protesters demand scrapping of Kudankulam project

Jan 27,CHENNAI: Even as the anti-nuclear stir on the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) continues, noted human rights activist and public health specialist Dr Binayak Sen slammed the project calling it a “national shame”.
Speaking to Express after attending the TANKER awards function in the city, Sen said plainly, “It is obviously a huge risk and the fact that they are going ahead with it is shameful.”
When informed that a special emissary from Prime Minister’s Office, Minister Narayanaswamy, had just then confirmed that the plant would be commissioned as planned, he pinpointed the risks the project posed to the people and environment. “If not for anything else, see what happened in Fukushima. Do we (dare) risk a repeat?” he asked.
The national vice-president of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Sen was appreciative of the way the people had risen as a community and opposed the nuclear plant. “It is heartening to see the way they have acted for their rights,” he said.
On the ongoing trial in his alleged links with Maoists in Chhattisgarh, the paediatrician who worked for over three decades in community health seemed surprisingly at ease. “The trial is on, but I am not really sure when the next hearing is,” he said. “I am not too worried as I have not done anything wrong.”
On the health front, Sen accused the government of projecting a “fictional” figure of Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). “Several governmental agencies have published MMR figures that ranged between 200 and 300 deaths per one lakh live births. But in reality that number is between 400 and 500,” he said. A recipient of the prestigious Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights, Sen’s love for his alma mater — Christian Medical College in Vellore — remains strong. He cut short his visit to Chennai to drive down to the Fort City on Wednesday.

Posco Said to Consider Lower Capacity at Planned India Steelmill


January 27, 2012,

By Abhishek Shanker

Jan. 27 (Bloomberg) — Posco may build a smaller steel mill than planned in India after failing to secure enough land for what would be the biggest overseas investment in the south Asian nation, two people familiar with the plans said.

The world’s third-biggest steelmaker is looking to reduce the amount of land for the mill and iron ore mine project, said the people who declined to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly. The plant size may be cut to 8 million metric tons from 12 million, one of the people said.

Taking less land may help Posco clear the way to begin construction in the eastern state of Odisha after more than six years of delay as farmers refused to vacate the state-owned land they have occupied for generations. Pohang, South Korea-based Posco has kept pushing for the project through the delays, attracted by India’s average 10 percent growth in annual steel consumption over the past six years.

Posco may need only 2,800 acres, about 25 percent less than the 3,719 acres currently being sought, to build a factory of lesser capacity, the person said. The state, which has acquired more than 2,100 acres of land, halted a purchase in the Jagatsinghpur district in December after protests by the local population.

Vikas Sharan, a spokesman at Posco India, declined to comment.

“The state is doing its best to acquire land for the Posco project,” Raghunath Mohanty, Odisha’s industries minister, said in a phone interview. “It is not feasible to set a deadline but I hope the process would soon get over.”

Posco gained 1.7 percent to 423,500 won, at 1:16 p.m. in Seoul. The stock has declined 10 percent in the past year, compared with a 7.2 percent drop in the benchmark Kospi index.

Iron Ore

Posco has also agreed to remove a clause in its original approval that allowed it to export 30 percent of the iron ore produced at the mine, one of the people said. The clause in the mining agreement with the Odisha state government was being renegotiated last year after it expired. Odisha was known as Orissa until its name changed in November.

The delays since 2005 mean Posco has already missed out on the over 60 percent jump in India’s steel consumption since then. Construction costs are also unlikely to come down from the 520 billion rupees ($10 billion) forecast in 2005 as costs have surged, one person said.

India’s steel ministry in November estimated the country’s demand for steel may grow at 9 percent per annum over the next five years.

Posco and rivals including ArcelorMittal, the world’s top producer, are looking to build steel factories in India on expectations the steel consumption there will outpace global demand. The nation’s steel ministry forecasts 9 percent growth in demand over the next five years.

ArcelorMittal has $20 billion of planned projects in the states of Odisha and Jharkhand and has also waited more than six years because of delays in securing approvals and land. The two companies have also planned investments in a proposed factory in the southern state of Karnataka.

ArcelorMittal may secure all the land for its $6.3 billion plant in the southern state of Karnataka by March, state Industries Commissioner Maheshwar Rao said on Sept. 20.

–Editors: Andrew Hobbs, Indranil Ghosh

BCCI: Billionaires Control Cricket in India- P Sainath


None emerged from the IPL which has in fact had a bad impact on the skills of youngsters who might have made fine Test cricketers.

The ‘bring-us-their-heads’ humiliation in store for the Fab Four only hijacks the debate from what IPL is doing to Indian cricket.

Scoring 30s and 40s (even 20s) at a quick clip is pretty okay in the Indian Premier League. That’s what our guys in Australia are still doing. Consider that in the IPL you might earn two million dollars throwing your bat around for 30s and an occasional flaky 50. Or for bowling four overs a few times in a 90-day season. It’s hard to strive for your best when there is so much incentive to do your worst. The same body, the BCCI, presides over both private (IPL) and national cricket. It enables huge moneys to be made by one. And strangles the golden goose that is the other. The problem is not that our ‘boys’ have been playing too much cricket. It’s that they haven’t been playing cricket. They’ve been playing IPL T20, where focus, concentration, technique and staying power count for little. And it’s showing.

Too much IPL

Is this a bad bunch of players out there? Wounded pride leads to that easy conclusion. In truth, Indian cricket — crazy as this might seem just now — has ridden for long on its finest batting line-up ever. We may never again see players of the greatness, quality and achievement of a Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman or Sehwag. You might still see late brilliance in the test that remains. But I wouldn’t bet on it. There’s been too much playing to advertising-driven, media-orchestrated euphoria with the IPL. You belt sixes over shortened boundaries, swank in and out in perhaps 30 balls — get lionised for it, and swagger all the way to the bank. Some players have done IPL seasons but skipped going to the West Indies just before difficult tours. Others when ‘tired’ took their ‘break’ from playing for the country. They played in the IPL, though, injuries and all. England and Australia were disasters waiting to happen. It’s because you have great players that these have taken some time to unfold.

However talented, it’s also about who you’re playing for. Are you playing for your country, for those countless millions of fans who follow the fortunes of the national team, who make cricket the game it is in India? Or are you playing for Vijay Mallya, Mukesh Ambani et al. This is a far more important question than a media self-servingly in love with the IPL will allow. We served up India’s brightest and best to private team owners. Indian cricket paid the price. Most of those who slaughtered us in England and Australia did not play in the IPL. Some took a conscious, and wise, decision to avoid it. Acclimatisation is not just about the weather and pitches. It’s also about switching back mentally to the real game. And being clear on the source of your motivation.

‘Club over country’

We have every right to be shocked by the Indian team‘s showing. We have none at all to be surprised. Every step, every road led here. Remember the ‘club over country’ debate when players skipped national-side tours but played the IPL? That debate missed the fact that there are no ‘clubs.’ Not in plural anyway. The IPL related ‘clubs’ do not exist as mass-based physical entities in the way their models elsewhere do. It’s not about allegiance to ‘club over country.’ Dressing it that way lends the tragedy a veneer of moral dilemma: do we play for those hordes supposedly backing our clubs, or for the countless millions of fans backing the national side?

The only ‘club’ here is the Club of state-subsidised billionaires. (See: The Hindu, April 17, 2010 http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/article399250.ece). The allegiance of the cricketing establishment, and thereby the players (and most of the media) is to this club. The BCCI today stands for Billionaires Control Cricket in India. Your top cricketing icons are reduced to assets in the balance sheets of corporates. The “bring-us-their-heads” humiliation that is in store for the team will actually hijack the debate from why things went wrong. The rants will be all about the players and their appalling performance. Maybe even a few yowls at the selectors. But little about how IPL has savaged Indian cricket and harmed the game around the world. The Laxman now being torn apart for performance has a stunning average in Australia and is surely one of the greatest batsmen ever. So are a couple of the others. It’s not as if they haven’t played and done well in Australia before. Is it just age?

Just weeks ago, the pundits said this was our best chance ever to beat Australia in Australia. Our best team possible. Did the best team ever age in weeks? What happened?

IPL happened. And happened long before the disaster tours. A team full of players carrying injuries playing 90 days of sub-standard club-level cricket happened. That prepares you only for more sub-standard stuff, year after year, not cricket at the highest levels. They continue playing there with injuries because the BCCI-IPL has brought big bucks to the privately-owned side of the sport, not to the domestic game.

It is the domestic game that has been the feeder for Indian cricket. All our greats came through the Ranji grind. Some through the under-19. None emerged from the IPL which has in fact had a bad impact on the skills of youngsters who might have made fine test cricketers. Today, the feeder line is to the IPL. The Australians have a robust domestic circuit and a healthy gene pool. We are killing ours with neglect. Think of it: the BCCI could have boosted the domestic game. It has the money to do so, but not the motivation. The cash coming out of IPL goes to private pockets. That’s more difficult to achieve with domestic cricket. The hyper-commercialisation of the game means it is today a mess of money, agents, lobbyists, corporates, endorsements, advertisers. Cricket is a by-product. (There are also times when selectors find it hard to drop some players because of their ‘brand value’ in this system).

Far-reaching impact

The impact goes beyond India. IPL affected the game everywhere in quality, schedules and priorities. A Malinga, perhaps the greatest Sri Lankan quick ever, quits test cricket to focus on it. For some nations, this worked out better over time. Several Australian and English IPL players are retirees. And in Australia’s case, even the still-playing veterans skip the IPL to focus on national duty. In India, our very best are in there, deep. Now, out there in test cricket, it shows.

As one of India’s more loved ex-cricketers is said to have told his friends off-record: the IPL-T20 is far from demanding and easy to play. Fielding? The ball might come your way five times in a match. And you have to bowl four overs max. And it’s all over in four hours. The ODIs are far more demanding and, of course, five-day tests are the supreme challenge.

A few former greats — no enemies of Indian cricket — have worried about IPL’s impact. They include Ian Botham and Arjuna Ranatunga. In India, some of the greatest of our greats, have not just refrained from criticism but vociferously defended IPL on countless television programmes. The co-opting power of the BCCI-IPL money machine is wondrous. Now and then, a little conflict-of-interest blip appears. Like commentators being paid crores by the BCCI — who are then unlikely to criticise its golden child. It is equally unlikely that media fed with crores of ad revenue will speak up either. Any other institution seeing half the scams and conflict of interest that the BCCI-IPL has, would long ago have drawn sharp media scrutiny. But whatever emerges does so when the IT or ED departments get active, not the media. There are also too many journalists co-opted into the IPL network, unable to look at it critically.

And there is no way serving players will criticise it (or anything the BCCI does if they value their careers). Not while it’s positioned as the Kamadhenu of Cricket. That status was and is a choice the BCCI has consciously made. It controls the game in the country. With its money power, it lords over it at the global level too, in a manner that earns us the mistrust of other nations. It isn’t just that BCCI chooses to privilege one format of the game over another. There could be, as some argue, a place for all three. BCCI chose to privilege the private over the public. We pay the price.

Here’s the problem: when the shouting is done and the players heads have rolled, things won’t get better. The system and gene pool of Indian cricket have been, are being radically altered for the worse. We need to think about how to revive the domestic game, rescue cricket from the billionaires club and restore it to the public domain.

P.Sainath, The Hindu, Jan 17th 2012 

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