Seema Azad, Vishwavijay step out of Allahabad Jail



By Ajit Sahi8/7/12, Newzfirst


ALLAHABAD – Human rights activists and journalists Seema Azad and her husband, Vishwavijay, Tuesday stepped out of Allahabad‘s prison 30 months after they were arrested on February 6, 2010 on charges of being Maoist rebels.

“This was sudden and unexpected,” a beaming Azad told her parents, siblings and friends of the decision of the Allahabad High Court a day earlier to grant them bail.

The duo had been convicted on June 8 of the charges and sentenced to life in prison. But the high court judges, Dharnidhar Jha and Ashokpal Singh, wrote that “no evidence of waging war against state was available”, and granted them bail.

The family had waited for an hour outside the jail in the rain before Azad and Vishwavijay stepped out. She touched the feet of her parents who were both visibly quiet and smiling. As if on cue, the rain had stopped by then.

Azad and Vijay, wife and husband, were given life imprisonment each on June 8 by a sessions court here. The judge had found them guilty of being members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The couple denied the charge.

Police here had arrested the duo on February 6, 2010 as Azad returned from New Delhi where she was visiting An international book fair. Her husband, who had gone to fetch her from the railway station, too, was arrested.

They were charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The prosecution claimed banned seditious literature had been found on the couple.


Tweeting the Principles of Internet Freedom #FOE #Censorship


Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase




Posted 6 August 2012 15:39 GMT


Here’s a good opportunity to share with your friends and coworkers on Twitter, as well as other Declaration supporters and signers whatThe Declaration of Internet Freedom principles personally mean to you, why you value these principles and how these issues effect your life.

To encourage further engagement and feedback on the Declaration we hope that you, a member of Global Voices community will in the following weeks use Twitter to highlight your opinion on one principle of the declaration a week. To discuss the first principle “Don’t censor the Internet”, please use these hashtags this week:#netfreedom #censorship. Below is a schedule of when we will begin to highlight each principles and which hashtags we plan to use each week.

Please tweet your own opinions about what each principle means to you. Your input adds a lot of value to the discussion. Also, follow the hashtags and respond to individuals who are interested in discussing the principles. If there are new developments happening in your country which effect your freedom on the internet, share them using the week’s hashtags. At the end of each week Katy Tasker, of Public Knowledge will curate a Storify page to highlight the most interesting tweets on each principle.

Weekly schedule:

July 30: Expression: Don’t censor the Internet #netfreedom #censorship

Aug 6: Access: Promote universal access to fast and affordable networks #netfreedom #access

Aug 13: Openness: Keep the Internet an open network where everyone is free to… #netfreedom #openinternet

Aug 20: Innovation: Protect freedom to innovate, don’t block new technologies #netfreedom #innovation

Aug 27: Privacy: Protect privacy and defend everyone’s ability to control how their data and devices are used#netfreedom #privacy




97% students in Government Primary Schools in Punjab are poor, Dalits: GOI survey


Balwant Garg
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, August 6

As many as 97 per cent of the students of government primary schools in Punjab belong to Dalit families, a survey conducted by the Government of India (GOI) has revealed.

The survey examined students of primary classes (I-V) in Punjab and found that only three per cent of the students belong to other categories, but they come from economically weaker families.

The government had conducted the survey during the evaluation of the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education.

The educational background of the parents is an important factor for enabling children to continue studies. The survey found that the parents of 50.51 per cent students of government primary schools in Punjab are illiterate. About 23.47 per cent parents have completed primary education while 15.66 per cent studied till class VIII.

In contrast, the parents of 24.12 per cent students of government primary schools in Haryana were either matriculate or above. In Punjab, the figure stands at 10.10 per cent.

In Kerala, the state known for high literacy rate, the percentage of such parents is 42.01, revealed the survey.

At national level, while the parents of 43 per cent students of government primary schools are engaged as labourers in agricultural and other activities, in Punjab the percentage of such parents is 70.65.

Further, the survey found that the intake of milk among 21 per cent of kids in Punjab was nil while 13.5 per cent never got fruits at home.

The students in government schools in urban areas mainly belong to SC/BC categories. In urban areas, the primary government schools cater to only very poor children belonging to SC/BC and other categories.

In the Government Middle School in Bazigar Basti of Faridkot, out of a total of 166 students, 154 belong to SC category while eight were from BC category. Only four students are from general category and they belong to economically weaker sections of society.

Survey finds

 The parents of over 50 per cent students are illiterate, 23.47 per cent have completed primary education while 15.66 per cent studied till class VIII

 The parents of close to 70 per cent students of government primary schools in Punjab work as labourers in agricultural or other activities

 About 21 per cent of the students don’t get milk at home while 13.5 per cent were never fed fruit

 The government schools in urban areas of Punjab mainly cater to students belonging to SC/BC categories

Fire at UID Data Centre puts 20 crore citizen records at risk #Aadhaar #NandanNilekani


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





NOIDA: A fire in the lower floors of a Greater Noida building which houses the data centre of the government’s ambitious Unique ID Project has put at risk the personal and biometric records of 20 crore Indian residents.


The Unique ID Authority has completed about 20 crore enrollments and has generated over 18 crore Aadhaar numbers till date.

A UID spokesman confirmed there was a fire in the ‘Knowledge Park’ building at Greater Noida on Saturday, which houses a UID data centre.

The data centre on the third floor is a small subset of the main data centre in Bangalore, said the spokesman.

“Little data was being stored here. Nonetheless, no data is harmed as we have a back up at 3-4 locations across the country,” the spokesman said. He added that fire did not reach the upper floor which houses the data centre.

About 150 out of the about 250 servers at the facility have been rendered unusable because of the carbon soot deposition from the fire, according sources at UIDAI. Networking equipment of Cisco and storage equipment by EMC was also damaged in the incident.

The accident puts a big question mark over safety of data being collected from about 1.2 billion Indian residents and being housed in risk prone facilities.

Last week, the government awarded a Rs 87 crore contract to Delhi based Tulip Telecom which will manage data centres for UIDAI in Bangalore for 3 years. The Bangalore based Tulip data centre will house the records of 1.2 billion Indian residents, with a back up in other places.

UIDAI’s main data centre currently exists in in Bangalore, at a space leased from Bharti Airtel. It acts as the main storage repository for all biometric and personal records of Indian residents.




Myanmar lifts BAN on journals after protests #CENSORSHIP #GOODNEWS

Journalists pose with a shirt during a protest along the streets of Yangon, August 4, 2012. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

YANGON | Mon Aug 6, 2012 6:51pm IST

(Reuters) – Myanmar‘s government has agreed to lift suspensions on two weekly journals within two weeks, their editors said on Monday, just days after rare protests by journalists in two cities to demand more press freedom.

Editors of the Burmese-language Voice Weekly and The Envoy told Reuters that Myanmar’s censorship board had informed them they could resume publishing by August 18, without giving a reason for why the suspensions would be lifted.

Publication of the journals was halted indefinitely late last month, promoting an outcry among journalists who are enjoying freedom to publish not seen under the five decades of authoritarian military rule that ended in March last year.

The quasi-civilian government has loosened its grip on the press as part of a surprise reform drive. But some press censorship still remains and journalists pushing the boundaries of the restrictions have complained that suspensions are tantamount to intimidation.

Nearly 100 journalists rallied against the suspension in Yangon on Saturday and about 60 protested in the second-biggest city, Mandalay a day later, most wearing black T shirts saying “stop killing the press”.

“The reason for lifting the suspension, I think, would be because of the rallies by the journalists,” said an editor of another journal, who asked not to be named.

Monday’s edition of the Messenger journal blacked-out its entire front page and cited a line from the constitution that guarantees freedom of expression.

The Nation journal went a step further, uploading on its Facebook page what it said was a censored copy of its front page story of the protest, which was covered with crosses in red ink.

It was not known exactly why the two publications were suspended. The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, as the censors are called, said they had “violated rules and regulations”, without elaborating.

The Voice is also facing a lawsuit, lodged by Myanmar’s Ministry of Mines, after it published a report alleging graft by ministries under the previous government.

Myanmar’s government has insisted it will scrap censorship as soon as a press law is promulgated, but journalists are concerned some restrictions will remain and recommendations for the legislation might be ignored.

The government’s mouthpiece, the New Light of Myanmar, carried an editorial in its Sunday edition, apparently in response to the protests, calling for patience and reiterating that censorship would soon be abolished.

It said the country was “not still accustomed to the freedom we have not enjoyed before” and to “rush could ruin results.”

(Reporting by Thu Rein Hlaing; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Lane; Editing by Ed Lane)


Doctors engineering fetuses to prevent intersex, tomboys and lesbians #WTFnews

Dangerous Experiment in Fetal Engineering


By Marla Paul

CHICAGO — A new paper just published in the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry uses extensive Freedom of Information Act findings to detail an extremely troubling off-label medical intervention employed in the U.S. on pregnant women to intentionally engineer the development of their fetuses for sex normalization purposes.

The paper is authored by Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and is co-authored by Ellen Feder, associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University, and Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of Advocates for Informed Choice.

The paper is authored by Alice Dreger, professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and is co-authored by Ellen Feder, associate professor of philosophy and religion at American University, and Anne Tamar-Mattis, executive director of Advocates for Informed Choice.

The pregnant women targeted are at risk for having a child born with the condition congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), an endocrinological condition that can result in female fetuses being born with intersex or more male-typical genitals and brains. Women genetically identified as being at risk are given dexamethasone, a synthetic steroid, off-label starting as early as week five of the first trimester to try to “normalize” the development of those fetuses, which are female and CAH-affected. Because the drug must be administered before doctors can know if the fetus is female or CAH-affected, only one in eight of those exposed are the target type of fetus.

The off-label intervention does not prevent CAH; it aims only at sex normalization. Like Diethylstilbestrol (DES) — which is now known to have caused major fertility problems and fatal cancers among those exposed in utero — dexamethasone is a synthetic steroid. Dexamethasone is known — and in this case intended — to cross the placental barrier and change fetal development. Experts estimate the glucocorticoid dose reaching the fetus is 60 to 100 times what the body would normally experience.

The new report provides clear evidence that:

  • For more than 10 years, medical societies repeatedly but ultimately impotently expressed high alarm at use of this off-label intervention outside prospective clinical trials, because it is so high risk and because nearly 90 percent of those exposed cannot benefit.
  • Mothers offered the intervention have been told it “has been found safe for mother and child” but in fact there has never been any such scientific evidence.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has indicated it cannot stop advertising of this off-label use as “safe for mother and child” because the advertising is done by a clinician not affiliated with the drug maker.
  • A just-out report from Sweden in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism documents a nearly 20 percent “serious adverse event” rate among the children exposed in utero.
  • Clinician proponents of the intervention have been interested in whether the intervention can reduce rates of tomboyism, lesbianism and bisexuality, characteristics they have termed “behavioral masculinization.”
  • The National Institutes of Health has funded research to see if these attempts to prevent “behavioral masculinization” with prenatal dexamethasone are “successful.”
  • The United States’ systems designed to prevent another tragedy like DES and thalidomide — involving de facto experimentation on pregnant women and their fetuses — appear to be broken and ineffectual.

The paper is available for free download at:

Marla Paul is the health sciences editor. Contact her at

BSF treating local populace as “second class citizen”


Border Security Force

Border Security Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



The Hon’ble Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi – 1

 Respected Sir

 I want to draw your attention on an incident in which the posted Border Security Force personnel not only harassing a person living in pittance but in this course showed total defiance to the order of Ministry of Homes as well as of their superior officer and infringed the Constitutional rights of a bonafide citizen.  

 Mr. Aizuddin  Biswas, son of Late Munaruddin Biswas, a resident of Char Parashpur village, Post- D/ Parashpur under Jalangi police station of Murshidabad district is a agrarian labourer who lost his land with other immovable property during the incessant erosions caused by the river Padma. He owned agrarian lands at Dayarampur village till 2005, thereafter it was totally eroded and he was forced to migrate at Char Parashpur, he received Patta (land title by the government) at the said village for his living, where he is living with his wife and minor children. His means of sustenance are cattle rearing and part time employment as agrarian labourer. On 15.7.2012 he bought 4 cows and 4 calves from adjoining villages to increase his income. He spent nearly Rs. 40000 for this purpose. Before the said purchase, on 13.7.2012, he duly informed the respective Gram Panchayet, Panchayet Samity and Block Development Officer and obtained approval on his request letter. While Aizuddin was trying to bring the cattle to his home in Char Parashpur village, the posted Border Security Force personnel resisted him to cross the river Padma with the cattle to his village. The cattle were still stranded at the village Raypara, the other side of the river. Aizuddin made a request to the Deputy Inspector General of BSF; Roshanbagh on 20.7.2012 to direct his force for allowing him to bring the cattle. The DIG instructed the ‘A’ Company of Charbhadra Company Headquarter of 91 BSF Battalion. Aizuddin met several times with the Company Commander of the said BSF Company as well the personnel at the Farazipara BSF- BOP of the said Company with his request. He also made complaint to the District Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad. But he was either mocked or jeered for his complaint to DIG- BSF anf SP. He even verbally abused by the said BSF personnel on duty at Raypara.

 In this connection I want to refer my complaint before the National Human Rights Commission (vide NHRC’s Case No. 44/25/13/08-09-PF/OC dated 8.2.11) and inquiry report conducted by Mr. R. R. Jha, Joint Secretary (Human Rights) Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India and duly submitted by Mr. Yashpal Dabas; Director to the Government of India; Ministry of Home Affairs (vide Memo No. 15011/20/2011-HR.II) dated 20th April, 2011 to NHRC. In this report the Ministry informed the Commission about the visit of Joint Secretary (HR) to Char Paraspur village on 9th of March 2011 and submitted his inquiry report with his recommendation. In his recommendation the Joint Secretary categorically opined and recommended for i) BSF as a Border Guarding Force should not be involved in regulating movement of rice and other grocery items purchased by persons in border areas either for their consumption or for local trade. Though, the recommendation was made on a complaint in which the issue was movement of groceries and rice but the recommendation is self explanatory in nature while dealing with movements of any thing without an ulterior motive of smuggling and in this case, the victim made it clear before the civil authorities and BSF authorities  and elected representatives of local self government about his bona fide reasons and purpose for the same, the civil administration, elected local government and BSF higher up made approval for the same.

 In this connection I demand for immediate arrangement of the movement for Aizuddin Biswas’s cattle to Char Paraspur village without any restriction. Mr. Biswas must be compensated for his financial loss due to the whimsical and arrogant acts of the said BSF personnel, who denied the instructions from their superior officer. The said act of the BSF personnel must be enquired by an independent and competent authority. The practice of restricting movements at bordering areas in accordance to whims of BSF personnel must end with appropriate governmental/ departmental instructions.

 Thanking You

 (Kirity Roy)

 Secretary, MASUM   


Kirity Roy
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail :


Ministry opposes plan to overhaul healthcare #Goodnews

The ministry has asked Planning Commission to rewrite its chapter on health in the 12th 5-year Plan document

Vidya Krishnan

New Delhi: The health ministry has opposed the Planning Commission’s proposal for a radical overhaul of the public healthcare system, saying it deviates from the government’s primary goal of providing health coverage to all.

The ministry has asked the apex planning body to rewrite its chapter on health in the 12th five-year Plan document that covers FY12-17, a top ministry official said, asking not to be identified.


Voicing opposition: Health secretary P.K. Pradhan (PIB)

Voicing opposition: Health secretary P.K. Pradhan (PIB)


Several of the commission’s suggestions contradict recommendations of the high level expert group (HLEG) on universal health coverage, or UHC, set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singhin October 2010 with the mandate of developing a framework on affordable healthcare for Indians, this official said. The bone of contention is the Planning Commission’s proposal to switch to a “managed healthcare network” model in which public and private hospitals may have to compete with each other for patients. 

Also, under the plan, the government’s primary healthcare function will be limited to essential interventions such as immunization, antenatal care and disease-control programmes, leaving clinical services to the managed-care model. The government’s role will in effect diminish from providing health services to managing the network.

Under the managed-care model, while networks of largely private hospitals will be paid per patient registered, doctors will be paid per prescription, according to the Plan document. The transition to this model is proposed to happen over two Plan periods (2012-17 and 2017-22).

“We have to learn from the Chinese experience where reform led to creating of public doctors with a private mindset. China is now revising its health policy because of growing inequity,” said Dr. Srinath Reddy, who headed the HLEG.

“We have to ensure the public sector remains committed to providing quality healthcare without chasing money in any and every manner. We need to develop a model of UHC wherein the private sector will assist the public sector in serving a public purpose rather than privatising the delivery of public sector healthcare,” he added.

HLEG members will meet on Thursday to discuss the health plan and will give their feedback to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.

The health ministry will within 10 days send its feedback strongly advising the Planning Commission to rewrite certain aspects of the health chapter, said health secretary P.K. Pradhan, who was also a member of the HLEG that drafted the report on providing UHC in India.

“Our main objective is to strengthen the public health sector. At this juncture, we are convinced that a network-based approach will be very difficult to achieve that objective,” he said.

“Having read both documents, I know that some of the strategies made in the plan document are far removed from the basic tenets proposed by HLEG,” said Abhay Shukla, public health activist with Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a non-governmental organization.

“The Plan document gives two scenarios of India’s public health reforms. Either the public health system should start behaving like the private sector, with performance-based remuneration, etc., or it should compete with the private sector and reshape itself in the image of the private sector to compete effectively,” Shukla said. “In both cases, privatization and coporatization of healthcare in India appear as the dominant direction. They (Planning Commission) are using HLEG’s name to push these recommendations.”

The Plan document also proposes a significant expansion of publicly funded insurance schemes such as the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana to provide universal health coverage whereas the HLEG had recommended strengthening public sector hospitals instead of using the insurance route to provide health services.

Tribal language teachers go without salary for 8 months #Indiashining

, TNN | Aug 3, 2012,
KEONJHAR: Tribal language teachers inKeonjhar district have not received their salary for the last eight months. They have brought the matter to the notice of the district collector on a number of occasions, but no action has been taken so far, the teachers said.

Brundaban Juang, a teacher, said, “We got salary from June to October 2011. After that, we have not got any payment for eight months. We belong to poor tribal families. We are living in extreme distress.”

According to sources, the government appointed tribal language teachers in schools run bySC/ST department with a view to developing the languages and bringing down the number of school drop outs among tribals.

According to a state government decision, the district administration had published advertisements for the post of language teachers in different tribal languages like Juang, Oram,Santhal and Munda. On the basis of that, 16 teachers were appointed.

U K Naik of the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) of Keonjhar said, “Salaries of the language teachers have not been paid because the government has not sanctioned money.”

“The government is spending huge amount of money for the development of tribals, mostly their education. But it is astonishing that tribal language teachers are not getting salary. The government should take immediate corrective measures,” said Girija Mishra, the secretary of Keonjhar bar association.

“It would have been better if you had given me DEATH PENALTY”- #SoniSori writes from Raipur Prison


Translation of Soni  Sori’s letter from Raipur Prison on July 28. 2012

Letter in name of Supreme Court, Judge  from Raipur Jail

Your Honour ,

Today I am alive , because of your verdict. You gave the order at the right time so that  I could be  medically treated again.  I was very happy during my treatment at AIIMS hospital in New Delhi, but  Your Honour ,  I have to pay for it now. I am being  harassed and tortured here, I request you to have mercy on me . Your Honor I am  suffering mentally .

1. I am made to sit on the Ground  “Naked”

2. I am suffering from Hunger

3. I am frisked in an uncomfortable manner, each part of my body is touched .

4. Labeling me traitor and naxalite they torture me

My clothes, soap, surf have been confiscated and   I have been accused for many things.

Your Honour  How long will Chhattisgarh government, police administration  keep on stripping me naked ? I am an Indian tribal woman!  I also feel shame , and I am unable to save my modesty  here .  The use abusive words and accuse me  regarding my modesty.  After all what crime I have committed that I am being mentally tortured like this ?

It would have been better if you  had given me DEATH PENALTY ,how long  should I bear this physical and mental torture . Jail authorities want that I should  not speak the truth and send you any information  about  atrocities committed on me and  that  I should die bearing their torture in the prsion itself , this is what within the law of  Chhattisgarh . My voice  seeking justice should remain limited to Chhattisgarh so that  the naxalite problem could further aggravate. Your Honour If I have raised my voice for my rights, what wrong have I done ? I am being mentally tortured in various manners today. Is   it a crime to fighting against the  torture being  inflicted on one self ? I don’t have right to live ? Don’t  I have a right to give love to the children I have given birth to ? Today  I am in a  very serious condition. This type of oppression becomes the source for the naxalite problem .

Your Honour, please have mercy on me , and solve my problems , this is my earnest request to you. Else the  officials of Raipur prison will definitely give me death. Earlier, I have been given a wrong medicine and my skin has burnt, and  I have been enduring that pain also.

Your Honour , Please Have mercy on me .

In end, my obeisance.


Soni Sori



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