Immediate Release-Statement of concern on prolonged police custody of Debolina


WSS is extremely concerned by the continued police custody of activist Debolina Chakrabarty, secretary of the Kolkata based women’s
organization, Matangini Mahila Samiti, and the recent reports in the press that she has developed some eye problems while in CID custody. The manner in which her custody was sought by the CID and then granted by the Magistrate is also very disturbing; it only heightens our apprehensions and anxieties of ill-treatment and torture of Debolina. In view of the blatant lawlessness in the custodial torture of Soni Sori in Chhattisgarh, we fear the worst during such `interrogation’ by the police; it could very well be the same or a worse form of `intimidation’ and torture.
Earlier, on 4th April the Kolkata police had brutally lathi-charged a peaceful protest rally of slum-dwellers who had been evicted over the previous week from their hutments in Nonadanga in south Kolkata.  Among those subjected to this indiscriminate lathi-charge were children and a pregnant woman.  On 8th April another peaceful demonstration against this eviction was broken up by the police, and nearly 80 people, including a child were arrested from this demonstration; Debolina and six other activists were also arrested along with these people.
All seven activists were produced in court on 9th April and remanded to police custody till 12th April. They have been charged with unlawful assembly and assault on police.  On 12th, when they were produced in court, all were sent to jail custody till 21st April.   In the evening when the lawyers of the accused were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Debolina in three other cases — two of which are old and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur, for which charge-sheets had already been submitted, and the third in connection with a case of 2011 in Nandigram for which an FIR was secretly filed in the P. S. The magistrate granted the custody to the CID, without even listening to the response of the lawyers of the accused. Despite the protests by the other arrested activists, Debolina was forcibly taken away by the CID in a police car to Bhabani Bhawan for `interrogation’, while the other six prisoners were sent to Alipur Central Jail.  Debolina has also been tagged in a murder case under the draconian UAPA.
Debolina is a former student of the International Relations Department of Jadavpur University, and has been associated with
several mass movements.  She has participated in the people’s movements of Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh, and has been a member of
many fora, including the SEZ Birodhi Prachar Mancha.  She has also been a member of various fact-finding teams. Debolina has been with
the people’s movement for quite some years, functioning openly and participating in various mass movements that took place from time to time.  According to press reports, Debolina has started a hunger strike in CID custody.
While we welcome the granting of bail on April 17, 2012 for the release of Partho Sarathi Ray from Alipore Central Jail, Kolkata, we
strongly protest the continued detention of the other activists, especially the prolonged CID custody of Debolina.
We join the other organisations in expressing our solidarity and support to Debolina and the other five prisoners – Debjani Ghosh,
Samik Chakraborti, Manas Chatterjee, Siddhartha Gupta, and Abhijnan Sarkar; and demand that the fabricated charges against all of them be dropped, that they be released immediately, and Debolina be given immediate medical treatment.


ID crisis: Is Aadhaar/UID going the UK way to doom?

200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The future of UID cards

The UIDAI claims to have enrolled about 20 crore people so far, but many questions remain unanswered on the issues clouding the ambitious project to give a number to every resident of the country, intended for equal social benefits
Chokkapan S

Thursday, April 19, 2012

BANGALORE, INDIA: After a few setbacks, the second phase of Unique Identity (UID) card enrollment is poised to begin this month.

Until April, there were about 200 million (20 crore) enrollments from across the states, of which 140 million (14 crore) numbers have been issued. And the Unique Identification Authority of India, helmed by chairman Nandan Nilekani, has an ambitious target of tripling this figure by early 2014. That is, scaling up by another 400 million (40 crore) in about two years.

So far, the UID’s journey had been quite bumpy, with a lot of questions raised on individual privacy and national security concerns, among other issues.

The ball was set rolling by the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance submitted a report, that recommended scrapping of the Aadhaar scheme. While Ashok Dalwai, deputy director general, head of UIDAI technology centre, iterates that collecting multiple biometrics was through adaptation of the global best practices, including a fusion approach of combining fingerprints and iris for identification purposes, for the Indian context, the Standing Committee stressed that the Rs.. 18,000-crore UIDAI project was directionless and lacked proper implementation.

When U.K. failed…

It would be relevant to look at a similar identity project in the United Kingdom that was abandoned in 2010, following a report from the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) that categorically stated that the project could turn out to be a “potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of the individuals.”

Also, that there were other undeniable reasons, such as huge costs, unreliable and untested technology and the risks to the safety and security of citizens, didn’t help the cause of the National Data Register, either.

Dr Edgar Whitley, research coordinator and lead author of the study of the London School of Economics Identity Project, would state later, “In the U.K., in 2002, there was a discussion about ‘entitlement cards’ that slowly gave way to ‘identity cards’. I think the idea that there was a single policy reason or a few policy reasons behind the identity card project would not fit the facts well.”

The team had also identified six key areas of concern with the government’s plans, including evidence from other national identity systems that showed that such schemes performed best when established for clear and focussed purposes. “The U.K. scheme had multiple, rather general, rationales, suggesting that it had been ‘gold-plated’ to justify the high-tech scheme,” Whitley was quoted saying in an interview.

That apart, there was also concern over whether the technology would work and in Whitley’s own words, no scheme on that scale had been undertaken anywhere in the world. “The India project is, of course, even bigger. Smaller and less ambitious schemes had encountered substantial technological and operational problems, which may get amplified in a large-scale national system.”

Is Aadhaar similar?

Referring to the U.K. instance, the Parliamentary Panel pointed that the UID project also involved high costs, was complex in nature, had unreliable technology and posed safety risks.

According to Prof. R. Ramakumar, associate professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, who has been vocal in his stance on the UID issue, “Each conclusion in the report should be discussed threadbare in the public domain. Biometrics should be withdrawn from government projects as a proof of identity.”

Alternative, and cheaper, measures to provide people with valid identity proofs should be explored, is his solution. “However, it would be a travesty of democratic principles, if the government disregards the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Finance report and pushes the project in through the backdoor.”

Boon or curse?

In the context of having a common denominator for all people, says Dr N. Seshagiri – who founded the National Informatics Centre and served as its director-general till 2000 – it is a good project for a developing country. But, he adds, the correlation should not be misused thereby amounting to privacy breach and security concerns.

“It can either be a boon or a curse, depending on how you implement and use it. You can’t put a bind to technology, if it is implemented properly. Also, maintenance of the project in the long run is important. Those concerned with the project should have the foresight for the times to come and think right now about updation and other issues that might crop up in future.”

What if the project gets eroded in about 10 years, as there is a strong possibility that those involved at present might not be around by then? questioned Seshagiri.

Like Maneka Gandhi, who went to get her UID number only to find to her dismay that someone else had signed on her behalf, many concerned people – but less affluent – are awaiting their cards, with a lot of hope that it might make a difference to their lives.

Will it or will it not? Is it facing a similar fate as the UK identity project? Only those entrusted with rolling out the project can ensure. Not through their words, but by deeds.

©CIOL Bureau

Dawn’s Magazines head Murtaza Razvi found dead-R.I.P

KARACHI: Murtaza Razvi, senior assistant editor (head of Dawn Magazines), was murdered in the DHA area of Karachi during the early hours on Thursday.
Police said that the body was found from an office flat in DHA. There are reports that the crime scene has been sealed by the police.
The body bore torture marks and the hands were tied. It appeared that Razvi had been strangled to death, but police have said that the real cause of death will be established after the post-mortem.
The body was found by his wife and artist Shahid Rissam in the latter’s studio. Razvi’s body was shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre for an autopsy.
He was reported missing by his wife when he did not come home on Wednesday night.
Razvi’s family has said that he did not have any personal enmities and have requested that the media not speculate till the police has apprehended the killer(s).
Razvi is survived by his wife and three daughters.
He was a well-known columnist and political analyst who served as as a resident editor for Dawn, Lahore from 2005 to 2007.
He also authored two books, ‘Musharraf: the years in power’, a political biography of former president Parvez Musharraf, as well as ‘Ordinary People’ which comprised interviews with ordinary citizens of Pakistan about history, society and culture.
Razvi held a master’s degrees in Ancient Indian and Islamic History from the University of Punjab, Lahore and Political Science & International Relations from the US.

Bill Gates and 47,500 Cases of Paralysis


By Joe Samuel
Food Freedom News

In India, Monsanto hired Bollywood actors to promote genetically engineered cotton seed to illiterate farmers. Nana Petakar became a brand ambassador for Monsanto. The advertising has been called “aggressive, unscrupulous and false.”

Bill Gates, heavily invested in Monsanto’s GMOs as well as in vaccines, hired the most beloved of Indian actors, Amitabh Bachchan, to promote the oral polio vaccine.

Here is one example of the ads Bachchan created. Here is Bachchan and use of Bollywood itself to promote the vaccines, and here is another ad, in which Bachchan employes his acting skills.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says:

“Worldwide efforts in the last two decades have reduced the number of polio cases by 99 percent. Until we reach eradication, however, we are working with governments and all partners in the polio effort to ensure no child is at risk of either contracting or transmitting this crippling disease.”

Monsanto used Bollywood actors and succeeded in selling India’s farmers Bt cotton seeds. Profits for Monsanto rose. When yields were less than promised, farmers incurred massive debt, leading many to suicide, in what is considered “the worst-ever recorded wave of suicides of this kind in human history.” To date, the number of suicides has surpassed 250,000.

P. Sainath details this neoliberal terrorism:

“With giant seed companies displacing cheap hybrids and far cheaper and hardier traditional varieties with their own products, a cotton farmer in Monsanto’s net would be paying far more for seed than he or she ever dreamed they would. Local varieties and hybrids were squeezed out with enthusiastic state support. In 1991, you could buy a kilogram of local seed for as little as Rs.7 or Rs.9 in today’s worst affected region of Vidarbha. By 2003, you would pay Rs.350 — ($7) — for a bag with 450 grams of hybrid seed. By 2004, Monsanto’s partners in India were marketing a bag of 450 grams of Bt cotton seed for between Rs.1,650 and Rs.1,800 ($33 to $36).”

Long after it was apparent that Monsanto was having a lethal impact on India, Bill Gates who says he wants to help the poor in India, made a huge investment in Monsanto. Does Gates care that he invested in a company that has left poor children of India without their fathers and lost them their land they had lived on?

How is Gates’ other investment – vaccines – faring? Mimicking Monsanto’s PR, Gates used Bollywood actors to strongly promote his vaccine campaign to ‘eradicate polio’ across India. Vaccines ware given to Indian children. Have they brought health?

From “Polio programme: let us declare victory and move on” by Neetu Vashisht and Jacob Puliyel at Medical Ethics

“In 2011 there were an extra 47500 new cases of NPAFP [non-polio acute flaccid paralysis]. Clinically indistinguishable from polio paralysis but twice as deadly, the incidence of NPAFP was directly proportional to doses of oral polio received. Through this data was collected within the polio surveillance system, it was not investigated.”

The Oral Polio Vaccines were given to Indian children. The CDC dropped the OPV from its vaccine schedule in the US because it was causing polio.

“In 1976, Dr. Jonas Salk, creator of the killed-virus vaccine used in the 1950s, testified that the live-virus vaccine (used almost exclusively in the U.S. from the early 1960s to 2000) was the ‘principal if not sole cause’ of all reported polio cases in the U.S. since 1961 [44]. (The virus remains in the throat for one to two weeks and in the feces for up to two months. Thus, vaccine recipients are at risk, and can potentially spread the disease, as long as fecal excretion of the virus continues [45].) In 1992, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published an admission that the live-virus vaccine had become the dominant cause of polio in the United States [36]. In fact, according to CDC figures, every case of polio in the U.S. since 1979 was caused by the oral polio vaccine [36]. Authorities claim the vaccine was responsible for about eight cases of polio every year [46]. However, an independent study that analyzed the government’s own vaccine database during a recent period of less than five years uncovered 13,641 reports of adverse events following use of the oral polio vaccine. These reports included 6,364 emergency room visits and 540 deaths (Figure 3) [47,48]. Public outrage at these tragedies became the impetus for removing the oral polio vaccine from immunization schedules [36:568;37;38].”

Did Gates not know the OPV had been dropped in the US as he suggested he wanted to bring the same good health to third world countries as Western countries enjoyed? If he did not know, is he pushing vaccines on the world’s children without such basic and truly critical information?

Neetu Vashisht and Jacob Puliyel at St. Stephens Hospital in Delhi address the question of eradication:

“The charade about polio eradication and the great savings it will bring has persisted to date. It is a paradox that while the director general of WHO, Margret Chan, and Bill Gates are trying to muster support for polio eradication (22) it has been known to the scientific community, for over 10 years, that eradication of polio is impossible. This is because in 2002 scientists had synthesised a chemical called poliovirus in a test-tube with the empirical formula C332,652H492,388N98,245O131,196P7, 501S2,340. It has been demonstrated that by positioning the atoms in sequence, a particle can emerge with all the properties required for its proliferation and survival in nature (23, 24).” [Emphasis added.]

“Wimmer writes that the test-tube synthesis of poliovirus has wiped out any possibility of eradicating poliovirus in the future. Poliovirus cannot be declared extinct because the sequence of its genome is known and modern biotechnology allows it to be resurrected at any time in vitro. Man can thus never let down his guard against poliovirus. Indeed the 18-year-old global eradication campaign for polioviruses will have to be continued in some format forever. The long promised ‘infinite’ monetary benefits from ceasing to vaccinate against poliovirus will never be achieved (24). The attraction that ‘eradication’ has for policy makers will vanish once this truth is widely known.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is apparently out of touch with what the scientific community has known for 10 years, as its website’s page on polio indicates”

2011 Annual Letter from Bill Gates: Ending Polio

Aid for the poorest has already achieved a lot. For example, because of donors’ generosity, we are on the threshold of ending polio once and for all.

And then the Foundation continues about how terrible polio is and how many children it paralyzed and killed.

Polio is a terrible disease that kills many and paralyzes others. Fifty years ago it was widespread around the world. When you talk to people who remember polio in the United States, they’ll tell you about the fear and panic during an outbreak and describe grim hospital wards full of children in iron lungs that maintained their breathing. At its peak in the United States in 1952, polio paralyzed or killed more than 24,000 people.

But in 2011 alone, the Bill and Melinda Gates’ polio vaccine campaign in India caused 47,500 cases of paralysis and death.

From Vashisht and Puliyel:

“It has been reported in the Lancet that the incidence of AFP, especially non-polio AFP has increased exponentially in India after a high potency polio vaccine was introduced (25). Grassly and colleagues suggested, at that time, that the increase in AFP was the result of a deliberate effort to intensify surveillance and reporting in India (26). The National Polio Surveillance Programme maintained that the increased numbers were due to reporting of mild weakness, presumably weakness of little consequence (27).

“However in 2005, a fifth of the cases of non-polio AFP in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) were followed up after 60 days. 35.2% were found to have residual paralysis and 8.5% had died (making the total of residual paralysis or death – 43.7%) (28). Sathyamala examined data from the following year and showed that children who were identified with non-polio AFP were at more than twice the risk of dying than those with wild polio infection (27).

“Data from India on polio control over 10 years, available from the National Polio Surveillance Project, has now been compiled and made available online for it to be scrutinised by epidemiologists and statisticians (29). This shows that the non-polio AFP rate increases in proportion to the number of polio vaccines doses received in each area.

“Nationally, the non-polio AFP rate is now 12 times higher than expected. In the states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar, which have pulse polio rounds nearly every month, the non-polio AFP rate is 25- and 35-fold higher than the international norms. The relationship of the non-polio AFP rate is curvilinear with a more steep increase beyond six doses of OPV in one year. The non-polio AFP rate during the year best correlates to the cumulative doses received in the previous three years. Association (R2) of the non-polio AFP rate with OPV doses received in 2009 was 41.9%.

“Adding up doses received from 2007 increased the association (R2 = 55.6% p < 0.001) (30). Population density did not show any association with the non-polio AFP rate, although others have suggested that it is related to polio AFP (31). The international incidence of non-polio AFP is said to be 1 to 2/100,000 in the populations under 15 (32, 33). The benchmark of good surveillance is the ability to detect one case of AFP per 100,000 children even in the absence of polio (34).

“In 2011, an additional 47,500 children were newly paralysed in the year, over and above the standard 2/100,000 non-polio AFP that is generally accepted as the norm. (32-33). [Emphasis added.]

“It is sad that, even after meticulous surveillance, this large excess in the incidence of paralysis was not investigated as a possible signal, nor was any effort made to try and study the mechanism for this spurt in non-polio AFP. [Emphasis added.]

“These findings point to the need for a critical appraisal to find the factors contributing to the increase in non-polio AFP with increase in OPV doses – perhaps looking at the influence of strain shifts of entero-pathogens induced by the vaccine given practically once every month.

“From India’s perspective the exercise has been extremely costly both in terms of human suffering and in monetary terms. It is tempting to speculate what could have been achieved if the $2.5 billion spent on attempting to eradicate polio were spent on water and sanitation and routine immunization.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is apparently out of touch with what is known about the impossibility of eradicating polio, but it is not out of touch with the money involved.

“…. the last 1 percent remains a true danger. Eradication is not guaranteed. It requires campaigns to give polio vaccine to all children under 5 in poor countries, at a cost of almost $1 billion per year. We have to be aggressive about continuing these campaigns until we succeed in eradicating that last 1 percent.

“Therefore, funding is critical to success. Organizations such as Rotary International and the governments of India, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Japan are all major contributors to the polio campaign. Our foundation gives about $200 million each year. But the campaign still faces a 2011-12 funding gap of $720 million. If eradication fails because of a lack of generosity on the part of donor countries it would be tragic. We are so close, but we have to finish the last leg of the journey. We need to bring the cases down to zero, maintain careful surveillance to ensure the virus is truly gone, and keep defenses up with polio vaccines until we’ve confirmed success.”

The Foundation’s page on polio begins with urging eradication which is known to not be possible, but it ends with wanting money. Like Monsanto’s Bt seeds which were an agricultural and financial disaster for India’s farmers, Gate’s polio vaccine campaign has been the same – a public health and financial disaster for India.

We have seen how polio, that was not a priority for public health in India, was made the target for attempted eradication with a token donation of $ 0.02 billion. The Government of India finally had to fund this hugely expensive programme, which cost the country 100 times more than the value of the initial grant.

Did Monsanto stop their sale of Bt cotton seeds after it became apparent that farmers were being destroyed by overwhelming debt, the poor yields of the seeds and their inability to save seeds?

Has anyone from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation rushed to India to suspend their polio vaccines until crucial questions can be answered about their causingNPAFP [non-polio acute flaccid paralysis] and deaths?

Is the Foundation addressing the lack of vaccine safety? Vaccine safety may be a sensitive subject as Mr. Gates is on record in saying that “people who engage in anti-vaccine efforts [those questioning the safety of vaccines] kill children.”

And yet Mr. Gates’ polio campaign has been documented to have paralyzed 47,5000 children. Puliyel says that “children who were identified with non-polio AFP were at more than twice the risk of dying than those with wild polio infection (27).”

Bill Gates gives no figures or any details to back up his claim that people skeptical of vaccines are killing children, but he referred to parents didn’t give their children the pertussis vaccine and measles vaccines and children dying. However, Mr. Gates may not be aware that teens in Canada vaccinated for measles have come down with measles in greater numbers than the unvaccinated and vaccinated children who are developing pertussis (whooping cough).

From Investigative News Source:

· For pertussis cases in which vaccination histories are known, between 44 and 83 percent were of people who had been immunized, according to data from nine California counties with high infection rates. In San Diego County, more than two thirds of the people in this group were up to date on their immunizations.

· Health officials in Ohio and Texas, two states experiencing whooping cough outbreaks, report that of all cases, 75 and 67.5 percent respectively, reported having received a pertussis vaccination.
· Today, the rate of disease in some California counties is as high as 139 per 100,000, rivaling rates before vaccines were developed.

· Public officials around the world rely heavily on two groups of pertussis experts when setting vaccine policy relating to the disease. Both groups, and many of their members, receive money from the two leading manufacturers of pertussis vaccine.

· Dr. Fritz Mooi, a well-known Dutch scientist who has been studying mutations of the pertussis bacteria for 15 years, said a more virulent strain of bacteria is contributing to outbreaks.

The polio vaccine uses a synthetic virus which has created a more virulent strain. Does the pertussis vaccine also use a synthetic virus?

The WHO, which is working with Mr. Gates through GAVI, classifies the paralysis occurring in India as non-polio acute flaccid paralysis (NPAFP). Perhaps Bill Gates might consider that while Monsanto’s Bollywood PR worked to sell Bt seeds and Gates’ Bollywood PR worked to push his polio vaccines, no Monsanto PR changes the reality of the farmers’ suicides. And ‘relabeling’ paralysis after the vaccines were given does not change the facts. Paralysis is paralysis to the child who can no longer walk. Death is death to the parents who have lost a child.

Mr. Gates intends to vaccinate every child in the world. He has not been slowed in that commitment despite the mass numbers of death and paralysis of children in India. Not pausing from and not even investigating the disaster he has already caused, how many more children will Mr. Gates “help”?


Why Is Narendrabhai Afraid of the Indian Media?

It is because he knows his performance cannot withstand scrutiny by the informed

The simple fact: Modi is a failure on his own terms.

Once again we are being told by Narendra Modi’s rabid fans that the courts have exonerated him. Perhaps, idiocy is contagious among his followers, but they seem to forget that no court can absolve him of the most serious charge against him. It is the same charge that damns Rajiv Gandhi, of deliberate inaction (if not active collusion, which seems to be indicated but does require more evidence) while violence was perpetrated against a minority. In both cases, this inaction was witnessed by an entire country.

While it is true that most of those who embrace the word ‘secular’ have been far softer on Rajiv Gandhi than they have been on Modi, it does not in any way dilute the charge against Modi. Even so, trying to convince his followers of this is pointless. Those who intellectually collude in murder are not going to wake up to their stupidity through an exercise in logic.

Perhaps, that is why, far more than the SIT verdict, two recent write-ups on Modi are more disturbing. One, of course, is the by now much-cited Time cover, titled ‘Modi Means Business’, and the other by The Brookings Institute Managing Director William J Antholis, titled ‘India’s Most Admired and Most Feared Politician’. It is interesting to note the similarity between the two articles: neither can avoid dealing with the blot on Modi’s image because of the events of 2002, but both seem to suggest that his performance as an administrator of the state has managed to counteract this blot to a great extent. Inadvertently or not, this is precisely the take that Narendra Modi and his publicity firm, APCO Worldwide (which has done well by a few dictators and has former US ambassador to India Tim Roemer on staff), would desire.

Modi’s decision to make himself available for both these pieces needs to be seen in this context. It is something he does rarely, but in these cases it makes sense. Writers for publications or think-tanks based in the US are the most likely to accept Modi’s claims at face value. This is something that no informed Indian journalist would allow Modi to get away with. My surmise is Narendra Modi is afraid to grant such an interview, because what are seen as his strengths are the ones most easily exposed under scrutiny.

Let us consider them one at a time. The claim goes Narendra Modi is ‘incorruptible’. This is only an exercise in rhetoric, given that Narendra Modi has shied away from appointing a Lokayukta precisely because a number of his actions in government will not withstand scrutiny. It is strange to claim incorruptibility for a man who refuses to let any of his actions be subject to the normal checks and balances of democratic governance. The ad hoc nature in which land was awarded to industry, for example, will land Modi in trouble under any independent Lokayukta.

The second is the ‘efficiency’ of his government. Consider this claim against the implementation of the biggest project the state has had to handle—the distribution of water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The state has failed on every count. Subsidiary canals have not been constructed, the canals that have been built are in disrepair, water meant to be utilised has been diverted into the Sabarmati and allowed to flow out to sea (perhaps the most expensive and pointless beautification exercise in the world), cost overruns are already so huge and the benefits so slow in coming that the project is a write-off. It will never justify itself.

The third is the oft-cited claim of investment flowing into Gujarat. To quote Antholis, ‘One Gujarati businessman told me that he had been suspicious back then, and had doubted that any company would ever actually invest. But they did. According to state published reports, pledged investments have grown from 76 MoUs amounting to $14 billion in 2003, to nearly 8,000 MoUs signed in 2011 for $450 billion.’

Now if this passes for analysis, then the US is in bad hands indeed. Could not a managing director of The Brookings Institute check how much of the pledged MoUs actually made it to the state? Consider a recent news report, ‘MoUs proposing investment of a staggering Rs 18.77 lakh crore were signed at the biennial event from 2003 to 2009. The first Summit in 2003 saw [the] signing of 80 MoUs proposing investments of Rs 66,068 crore. The numbers rose to 226 and Rs 1.06 lakh crore in 2005, and further to Rs 4.54 and Rs 4.65 lakh crore in 2007. The 2009 Summit witnessed the signing of 8,860 MoUs, while the investment proposed was of Rs 12.39 lakh crore. However, of the total investment proposed at the four events, investments worth only Rs 2.88 lakh crore, or 15.35 per cent, have materialised so far. The figure falls further to 8.03 per cent if MoUs worth Rs 20.83 lakh crore signed at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit of 2011 are also taken into calculation.’

The simple fact: Modi is a failure on his own terms.

by-Hartosh Singh Bal turned from the difficulty of doing mathematics to the ease of writing on politics. Unlike mathematics all this requires is being less wrong than most others who dwell on the subject. He is the Political Editor of Open.

Waiting For A Disaster?- Rohini Hensman

Waiting For A Disaster?
Hope for redevelopment of the aging and degrading housing stock in coastal areas, provided by the new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification, has been belied in the 15 months after it was published.
The purpose of the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification when it was issued in 1991 was to protect the environment along the coast by restricting what could be done in these areas. CRZ was divided into various categories according to the degree of vulnerability of the environment, and in some areas, no construction was to be allowed. In CRZ II—already built-up areas along the coast—the Floor Space Index (the ratio between the total area of a plot and the built-up floor-space on it) was frozen at what it was at the time the Notification was passed. In Bombay (as it was then), this was 1.33 for the Island City and 1 for the suburbs.

To the extent that the regulation has been implemented, it has indeed protected the environment. However in Mumbai, where a large part of the city falls into the coastal zone, a problem has arisen in the case of old, dilapidated and unsafe buildings. In other parts of the city, residents who cannot afford the costs of redeveloping their old buildings can attract builders to undertake the task by offering them extra FSI, which the builders can sell and make a profit. In CRZ areas, this is not possible. As buildings age, the possibility of mishaps and even collapse increases, and residents are put at risk.

The new CRZ Notification of 6 January 2011 that was issued by the ministry of environment and forests when Jairam Ramesh was minister seeks to provide a remedy to this problem. It states clearly that in Greater Mumbai there are ‘a large number of old and dilapidated, cessed and unsafe buildings in the CRZ areas, and due to their age these structures are extremely vulnerable and disaster prone. There is therefore an urgent need for the redevelopment or reconstruction of these identified buildings…The Floor Space Index (FSI) or Floor Area Ratio for such redevelopment schemes shall be in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Regulations prevailing as on the date on which the project is granted approval by the competent authority.’ (pp. 23–24) In other words, the new CRZ guidelines assume that the Maharashtra state government and the BMC will soon be allotting a higher FSI to buildings in these categories in order to encourage their redevelopment, with the express aim of minimizing danger to the lives and homes of residents.

Mr Ramesh’s notification was published 15 months ago, yet to date there has been not a single announcement by either the state government or the Commissioner of any revised Planning Regulations that would allow older and less safe buildings in CRZ areas to be redeveloped with a sense of urgency. When an old (1968) building near Haji Ali by the name of Vellard View recently suffered extensive structural damage and partial collapse due to a landslide, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the BMC reportedly refused to grant any extra FSI to the residents for redevelopment of their building. The residents were forced into accepting a substantial cut in their carpet areas to be able to finance reconstruction through a builder.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner Subodh Kumar has been lobbying for a 36-km coastal road that will run from Nariman Point to Kandivli, that is slated to cost Rs 8000 crores and has even been described as the Chief Minister’s ‘dream project’. The Maharashtra government’s priorities are truly shocking! Redevelopment in already built-up areas has no negative impact on the environment, whereas a coastal road would tear up the last of Mumbai’s beaches, massively interfere with tidal movements, destroy mangroves and fishing communities, and generate vastly more pollution than the city already suffers from. But apparently cars matter more than people!

Since the new CRZ regulations were issued at the start of last year, there have two significant policy changes involving the allocation and definition of FSI. The first was the state government’s decision to allow the suburbs to enjoy an additional floor space index of 0.33 to iron out a long-standing disparity between them and the Island City. The second has been a new and tighter definition of what counts as FSI, that now includes a whole series of structural elements that were previously treated as exempt. Because the new definition has a substantial impact on their margins, builders are now allowed a “compensatory” FSI of 35% (or 0.35), for which they have to pay a premium except where redevelopment projects are involved.

Since both policy moves are about what counts as “basic” FSI, logically they should be applicable to those categories of CRZ buildings for which Jairam Ramesh’s regulation has made special provision, since the FSI norms have now been upgraded. Yet the plain fact is that there is so little transparency or public understanding of what the state authorities’ policy is for these buildings that builders are currently taking the stand that neither of these changes applies to any set of buildings in CRZ II. In short, all buildings in the suburban CRZ areas remain stuck at an FSI of 1, regardless of the precarious state of many of these structures.

As the housing stock in the coastal areas ages and degrades, repairs are no longer feasible beyond a certain point, which is why Mr Ramesh’s CRZ notification of 2011 sought to encourage redevelopment in those areas as a key priority. Obviously no one seems to be listening at this end. Or are they waiting for a disaster to happen before they move?

Rohini Hensman is a novelist and writer. She lives in one of the old buildings that the current regulations are dooming to stagnation


How many ears must one man have,before he can hear people cry

How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died ..


Yes, we are speaking from Nonadanga slum area,Kolkata. Our government has uprooted all the slum-dwellers of Nonadanga from their habitat. On 30th March, police and Kolkata municipal development authority (KMDA) bulldozed the homes of some of the poorest of the poor people of our country; more than 300 homes were burnt. Even the evicted people wasn’t given any time to move their things of daily usage. They were being compelled to stand roofless under the heavy rainfall and northwester; they are living the same life along with their children under the open sky struggling with all adversities of nature till date.

Who are these people? They haven’t come to Kolkata to live in slums by choice. Most of the people have come from Sundarban after the devastating storm ” AILA” destroyed their villages last year. Some have come to ”The city of joy” only to make two ends meet. There isn’t enough employment in the villages, so they have been compelled to leave their homes and to come to the city to find jobs. Some are rickshaw-pullers, some work as electricians,masons; some work as maids in others house.


Are they illegal? Twenty-five years ago, the land-reform department of the state govt. made acquisition of the land on the condition of providing sufficient rehabilitation to the people. But the promise was never kept. Some years ago, the state govt. sold all those land to some corporate MNCs who are to build high-tech cities,shopping malls, IT hub and to use the land for real estate business. Ponds were being filled to make high-riser buildings.But the rehabilitation wasn’t ever provided. The people who were on the verge of being thrown out from their own homes,requested the govt. for several times to stop eviction and to provide them with place to live in. But it was a far cry for the govt. to hear and one day the bulldozer started dismantling everything.

The people of Nonadanga along with many democratic individuals, organizations and students started their protest campaign which is still on. These protestors were severely beaten by the police; on 4th April 68 and on 6th April 114 protestors were arrested. Though police released most of the protestors but haven’t released 7 of them who were participating in the movement in solidarity.

Just a few days back, state govt. had released one of them, famous scientist Parthasarathi Roy when the govt. was put under enormous international pressure. But the other 6 activists are still living behind the bar convicted with false charges and even one of the activists,Deblina Chakraborty has been accused with the charge of sedition and has been charged under UAPA (unlawful prevention act)!!- Their crime? These activists have participated shoulder to shoulder with the people fighting in several movements for justice, against forceful eviction by the govt. and for livelihood. These people have denounced the development policy of the govt. where the poor,general people are being tortured,exploited in order to raise corporate profit.

From the arrest of the professor of Jadavpur University for making some cartoons of the chief minister to the brutal attack on the protestors fighting for democratic rights; from imposing false charges to the activists to bulldozing Nonadanga,Chandmoni- the tendency of onslaught against democracy has turned to be epidemic and is increasing.

Even if today we seat deaf and dumb and act ignorant in-spite of knowing everything, the longlasting effect is not going to spare us tomorrow. It is eating up the society and will swallow every single space of breathing in near future- it will destroy our society. So its not the time for making condolences, its the time to be vocal and to come out with indignation. ”Which organization, which ideology do you belong”-is obsolete in this time when social injustice is turning to be the rule of the day

.Friends, we are urging you to come up against all forceful evictions which is going on throughout our country including Nonadanga. Lets stand hand in hand to build barricade of resistance against these mal-development and for our democratic rights. Lets incorporate our friends,associates and neighbors in this fight for justice and humanity.

Because its only the struggle of the people of Nonadanga which has stopped the state govt. and its powerful machinery for this long from uprooting their homes.Our collective struggle is our only weapon to defeat this tyranny because struggle does matter.




date:18.4.2012                             -STUDENTS’ FORUM AGAINST MAL-DEVELOPMENT                                                                           University of North Bengal , Siliguri 

In journalist murders, Brazil, Pakistan, India fail crucial test

Posted: 04/16/2012 5:48 pm,HuffingtonPost

 By Elisabeth Witchel/CPJ Consultant

 Brazil, Pakistan, and India–three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders–failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly, anti-press violence.

Meeting in Paris, delegates of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for Development of Communication were expected to endorse the U.N. Inter-Agency Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. But a debate that was scheduled for two hours raged for nearly two days, ending without the 39-state council’s endorsement.

The plan, which had been in the works for more than a year, is still proceeding through other U.N. channels, although implementation and funding could face continued difficulties if these nations persist in raising objections. Perhaps more important: Brazil, Pakistan, and India–each ranked among the world’s worst on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2012 Impunity Index–missed an opportunity to send a strong message that they do not condone anti-press violence.

Among its many security-related measures, the plan would strengthen the office of the U.N. special rapporteur for free expression, assist member states in developing national laws to prosecute the killers of journalists, and establish a U.N. inter-agency mechanism to evaluate journalist safety. “The U.N. plan is a unique road map, designed by U.N. agencies, programs, and funds, as well as professional associations, NGOs, and member states to address the issue of the safety of journalists,” said Sylvie Coudray, the UNESCO senior program specialist who has managed the plan’s development. CPJ participated in UNESCO’s consultative process.

During the two-day UNESCO debate, representatives from India and Pakistan repeatedly questioned whether the initiative was appropriate under UNESCO’s mandate. They also dominated the session with calls for greater “transparency” in UNESCO’s sources for information on anti-press attacks. Brazil raised procedural objections, asserting that UNESCO did not have authority to enact the plan.
Delegates from the United Kingdom, Unites States, the Netherlands, Niger, and Albania and others countered that the plan is imperative in light of the growing number of victims of anti-press violence. “Not endorsing this plan,” the Albanian delegate said, “would send the wrong message to the world and to the perpetrators.”
In the end, the council adopted a compromise resolution that allows the plan to move ahead through the U.N. Chief Executives Board, which centralizes operations of specialized U.N. bodies. But UNESCO will have to present another work plan at its executive meeting in spring 2013.
“The failure of the council to formally endorse the action plan, as it was invited to do, is a setback and gives its opponents a chance to renew their hostile attack on the plan and to delay it as it moves on through the other hurdles it must overcome in the U.N. system to get approval and become reality,” said William Horsley, international director of the Centre for Freedom of the Media at the University of Sheffield, who has been closely monitoring the plan.
In a written responses to CPJ queries, a senior Pakistani official said that while his country “welcomes attempts at the international level to find a workable solution,” the U.N. plan “has to be tackled in a comprehensive manner with the cooperation of maximum number of member states at appropriate for[ums].” While acknowledging that Pakistani journalists had been killed, the official said it would be “unfair to say outrightly that Pakistan has a high rate of unresolved cases.” He questioned whether journalist deaths were work-related, and attributed Pakistan’s fatality rate to his country’s war on terror.
Pressure within nations may be a key to keeping the plan on track. In Pakistan, CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Umar Cheema took his government to task, while Brazilian news mediaput their government on the defensive with extensive coverage of the story. In an interview last week with CPJ, a senior Brazilian official framed his delegation’s objections as procedural, and said the country would not stand in the way of the plan’s further progress. “We are 95 percent in favor of all the articles here, but some of them we think should follow a different procedure,” the official said. “We are very committed to protecting journalists, although we recognize we have many problems we need to be addressed.”
Despite some dissenting nations’ calls for “transparency” in UNESCO’s information sources, the statistics themselves are clear. More than 560 journalists have been murdered with impunity worldwide over the past two decades, CPJ research shows. Already this year, eight journalists have been murdered across the globe. Pakistan, Brazil and India all have among the highest rates of unsolved journalist murders per capita in the world, CPJ’s Impunity Index shows.
States shouldn’t delay this plan. The killers of journalists are acting now.


Watch the Committee to Protect Journalists’ video, “Getting Away With Murder,” about its 2012 Impunity Index:

FIR against rationalist for questioning ‘miracle’

My Photo
Man files complaint against Sanal Edamaruku who dismissed water dripping from Jesus statue as due to capillary action, saying he had made statements against the Church

Mumbai was the birthplace of the Indian Rationalist Association (IRA), founded in 1930 by Mumbaikar R P Paranjpe. Almost a century later, it has also become the first city to have an FIR filed against the President of the IRA.

The FIR has been filed by another Mumbaikar, Agnelo Fernandes, President of the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum.

CR 61/2012, Juhu Police Station, has been filed against miracle-buster Sanal Edamaruku, who is also founder-president of the Rationalist International, which has scientists such as Richard Dawkins in it.

The FIR has been filed under IPC Sec 295A: Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs. The offence is cognizable and non-bailable.

The whole story began on March 5, when during a TV programme in Delhi, Sanal dismissed reports that the “dripping cross” outside Vile Parle’s Velankanni church was a miracle. TV-9 asked him to investigate and flew him down on March 10. Sanal visited the spot and took pictures.

Born to rationalist parents, Sanal has, for the last 30 years, travelled across the country demonstrating the science behind supposed miracles. He has exposed the man-made nature of the ‘divine flame’ at Sabarimala, and successfully challenged Hindu godmen on TV.

Later on March 10, Sanal attributed the water dripping from the Jesus statue to capillary action of underground water near the cross. His photographs, displayed on TV-9, showed seepage on the wall behind the cross and on the ground near its base. “I removed one of the stones covering a canal for dirty water nearby, and found that water had been blocked there. Once water is blocked, it will find an outlet, if not downwards, then upwards. Every student knows that trees get water through capillary action.’’

Sanal said that when he reached the spot, a priest was leading a prayer on the road near the cross; water from the cross had been collected in a bucket and was being distributed to those gathered there. He was given a photograph of the statue dripping water with the word ‘miracle’ written on it. He said he was not allowed to take a sample of the water for chemical analysis.

During the subsequent TV discussions in Delhi and Mumbai, Sanal accused the Catholic Church of “miracle mongering’’. Interestingly, in Mumbai, Archbishop Agnelo Gracias, who joined the discussion, categorically stated that the Church had not described the event as a miracle and would do so only after conducting investigations. The Archbishop also claimed that the Church was not anti-science and, in fact, it had established the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which Galileo had been a member.

At that point, Sanal pointed out that the Church had imprisoned Galileo, and burnt scientist Giordano Bruno at the stake, and Pope John Paul II had even apologised for it. He also asked the Archbishop what he had to say about the Vatican indulging in exorcism, to which the Archbishop replied that though he had not come across any case of “possession’’, he could not rule it out.

All through the discussion, the other panelists kept warning Sanal that they would file FIRs against him if he didn’t apologise for his allegations against the Church.

The discussion ended with Sanal declaring that the Church’s intolerance had resulted in the Dark Ages in Europe. “Don’t try to bring the Dark Ages to India,” he said.

Fernandes lodged a complaint against Sanal at Juhu Police Station on April 10. Another complaint was lodged at the MIDC Police Station. In his complaint, Fernandes states that statements made against the Church and the Pope by Sanal had hurt his religious feelings.

Sanal, who lives in Delhi, said, “The Indian Constitution enjoins me to develop scientific temper. Let them arrest me, I’m not going to stop doing my fundamental duty.’’

A Sanal Edamuruku Defence Committee has been convened by lawyer N D Pancholi. Meanwhile, Mumbai police have called him here for questioning

Release Deblina Chakraborty entrapped in UAPA and 6 other social activists

A Petition via to The Chairperson of National Human Rights Commission:

Why This Is Important

We are deeply concerned about the dreadful incidents of barbarous atrocities by the West Bengal government upon the peaceful democratic protest movements of various mass organisations, civil rights groups and individuals opposing the forcible eviction of Nonadanga slum-dwellers in the name of ‘development’ and ‘beautification’ of Kolkata followed by malicious arrests of the social activists and their continued detention and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty, a committed social activist and people’s leader, implicating her in cooked-up charges.

On 8th April 2012, a huge contingent of police arrested 69 demonstrators from the Ruby Hospital crossing of EM Bypass of East Kolkata when they had been protesting against the violent demolition of the Nonadanga slums and forcible eviction of hundreds of populace of that colony on March 30th. All those protesters illegitimately apprehended including women and kids were put in the central lock-Up of the Kolkata police headquarter at Lalbazar for nine hours and cases under section 151 CrPc were slapped on them. In late evening, all the captives were released on PR bond except seven civil rights activists. Those activists kept in confinement were Deblina Chakraborty, Debjani Ghosh, Abhijnan Sarkar, Prof. (Dr.) Partho Sarathi Ray, Dr. Siddhartha Gupta, Samik Chakraborty and Manas Chatterjee. They were produced in the ACJM court of Alipore next day (9 April) and all of them were remanded to police custody till 12th April. They had falsely been charged with a number of stringent non-bailable criminal cases made-up by the police under Sections 141 (unlawful assembly), 143 (punishment for unlawful assembly), 148 (rioting armed with deadly weapon), 149 (offence committed in prosecution of common objective of disruption), 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty), 353 (assault or criminal force on public servant) of Indian Penal Code.

On 12th April, Deblina and all other detainees were sent to jail custody till 26th April after being produced in the court. Surprisingly, in the evening when the defense lawyers had left or were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Deblina Chakraborty in three additional cases—two of which are old cases related to “sedition and waging a war against the state” and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur during the tenure of the former Left Front government. Furthermore, she was tagged in an old murder case under UAPA. The magistrate granted the plea without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. Deblina was taken to Bhabani Bhawan for interrogation and she will be remanded to CID custody till 21st April. The other six captives were sent to Alipore Central Jail.

Deblina was a student of the International Relations Department of Jadavpur University. She left her studies to carry on democratic movements and stood by the side of the people. She was devotedly associated with the Singur Anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata Banerjee to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voices against the formation of SEZs and Chemical hubs under the notorious Salem industrial group, she went there and took part in the people’s heroic struggle launched by the Bhumi Uchchhed Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the ‘Matangini Mahila Samity’ (MMS). The MMS was a women’s forum that fought against patriarchy, against consumption of liquor, against CPI (M) ruffians (harmads), and was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by the gang of Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Ashok Pattanayak-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta. In this land struggle, the TMC, Congress, CPI, SUCI and other political forces also played their part within the BUPC.

The police under the previous Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led left-front regime issued threats to arrest Deblina under the UAPA, but protests from different quarters as also hunger strikes started by her and other activists at College Square thwarted such attempts. The new government under Mamata Banerjee — indubitably more brutal and vindictive– picked up the torn shoes left by her predecessor and completed the process by booking her under this draconian act.

After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee turned her heat against the ongoing peoples’ movements and initiated a slander and intimidation campaign by denouncing the ‘Matangini Mahila Samity’ as a ‘satanic brigade’ to gag democratic dissent and protest menacingly and the police as usual condemned Deblina as a ‘Maoist’ who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will.

Deblina had been with the people’s movement for quite some years, functioning openly and participating in various mass movements that took place from time to time. She was never arrested earlier. Now she has been picked up during her participation in the Nonadanga anti-displacement movement and tagged in that earlier case for which charge-sheets had already been submitted.

Deblina is a dedicated social activist who always fights for justice to the best of her ability and stands by the side of the oppressed people in their struggles for rights and dignity. Such a person has now been entrapped under the UAPA in a most conspiringly and cowardly manner. We are quite apprehensive that the intelligence officials would subject Deblina to brutal mental and physical torture in police custody and send her to prison to languish there for as many years as possible. Should we allow such injustice to be done by this vindictive and cruel chief minister of West Bengal? Deblina has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her.

At this juncture, we appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to condemn and raise their voices of protest against the despotic police action subverting the law and illegitimate arrests of all the social activists and a heinous attempt to impose the draconian act UAPA on Deblina Chakraborty on cooked-up charges.

Please demand in the strongest possible terms the immediate acquittal of Deblina Chakraborty and six other prisoners arrested for standing in solidarity with the forcibly evicted people of Nonadanga and raising their voices against injustice.

Please go through the petition and sign, and circulate it among your friends and colleagues as widely as possible.

For more news coverage updated regularly on these incidents please visit the site ‘Sanhati’ :

1) Child spends 9 hours in police lockup, Times of India, 9 April, 2012

2) Nonadanga: 7 in police custody, The Indian Express, 10 April, 2012

3) CID appeals for custodial interrogation of Debolina Chakraborty, Times of India, 13 April, 2012

4) Rights activist with ‘Maoist links’ in CID custody till April 21, The Indian Express, 13 April, 2012–Maoist-links–in-CID-custody-till-April-21/936070/

5) Debolina starts hunger strike in jail, Times of India, 14 April, 2012

to sign the petition click here:

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