As crimes against Dalits rise, UP or Haryana tops the chart ?


ZEE NEWS,  September 28, 2012,

Does Haryana top the list of states in atrocities against Scheduled Castes as asserted by PL Punia? The chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes’ statement came in the wake of Hisar Dalit gangrape case.

“Anti-Dalit atrocities have been taking place on a large-scale in Haryana. While the state is small, in the proportion of the crimes, that is, crimes per lakh of population, Haryana tops the list,” Punia was quoted as saying in an interview to a leading business daily.

But, government data sourced from the latest National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) Report 2011 by the Zee Research Group shows that Haryana doesn’t even figure in the top three states that have registered highest crimes against Dalits in 2011 under two crime categories: Indian Penal Code and Special Local Laws, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The latter is a special law and applies to cases where atrocity has been committed against a Dalit by an upper caste for reasons primarily of caste difference.

Another worrying trend apparent from the NCRB data is growing cases of rape of women belonging to SCs. From 1,349 cases in 2010, rape incidences of Dalit women have jumped to 1,557 in 2011 thereby registering an increase of 15.4 percent. Here again, Uttar Pradesh has reported highest 397 incidences of rape thereby accounting for 25.5 percent of the total cases in the country. Madhya Pradesh closely follows Uttar Pradesh with 327 cases i.e. 21 percent of the total cases in the country. In the first category, the dubious distinction has been earned by Uttar Pradesh – also the state with highest number of Scheduled Caste population. With 7,702 cases out of the total 33,719, the state alone accounted for 22.8 percent of crime against SCs under the Indian Penal Code and Special Local Laws. Uttar Pradesh is being followed by Rajasthan with 5,182 cases, i.e. 15.4 percent. Andhra Pradesh with 4,016 cases (11.9 percent) and Bihar with 3,623 cases (10.7 percent) trail behind Rajasthan in that order. Haryana is only 1.2 percent, way below these states.

NCRB data also points that crimes under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, is rising across the country. A total of 11,342 cases were reported under this Act during 2011 as compared to 10,513 in 2010 – a sharp increase of 7.9 percent over the previous year. Among states, Bihar has reported highest 3,024 cases accounting for 26.7 percent of the total cases reported in the country leaving behind Uttar Pradesh (17.6 percent) and Andhra Pradesh (12.7 percent) which otherwise lead in overall crimes against Dalits.

The above data clearly contradicts Punia’s statement as Haryana is way behind Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh when it comes to atrocities against SCs. However, the recent spurt in crimes targeting the marginalised and lower castes in Haryana including through khap justice suggests that roots of caste-based discrimination remain firmly entrenched in Indian society.

The women especially minor girls become easy prey for offenders who more than often get support from self-proclaimed feudalistic social orders. The malaise can be uprooted with stringent implementation of laws and creating social awareness rather than generalised statements to score brownie points.

#Chhattisgarh villagers plan ‘coal march’ to get mining rights on natural resources – Oct- 2


 

Location of Dantewada and Bastar districts, th...

Location of Dantewada and Bastar districts, the most affected regions in Chhattisgarh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Joseph John, TNN | Sep 28, 2012, 08.03PM IST

 

RAIPUR: Amid raging controversy over coal block allocations, Chhattisgarh is all set to witness a unique movement from October 2-Gandhi Jayanti day- when a group of villagers will start mining coal, demanding that local community be given mining rights on natural resources.

 

“Around 1000 villagers will break the coal law like Mahatma Gandhi led the movement against salt law. Local communities should have the first right on natural resources and not industrial houses”, Savita Rath of non-government organisation Jan Chetna Manch told TOI over telephone from Raigarh.

 

She said the villagers of Gare, Sarasmal and Khamharia in Tamnar block in Raigarh district would undertake a march to Gare mines to start mining of coal. The agitation is aimed at triggering a movement in the country against the plunder of natural resources on which the local communities have a natural first right, she said. Stating that more people from the nearby villagers have also pledged their support to the movement, Savita said the local communities could pay more royalty to the government than the industrial groups which had acquired coal blocks.

 

“If they are paying Rs 50 as royalty, we are ready to pay Rs 500”, she said. “The villagers have resolved not to allow the Jindal group to carryout coal mining in the area”, she said the government and the Raigarh district administration have already been informed about the proposed agitation.

 

 

 

Natural resources cannot be dissipated as charity: SC #goodnews


by  Sep 27, 2012, Firstpost

 

Natural resources cannot be dissipated as charity: SC judgeThe Supreme Court of India. Reuters.

Does coalgate qualify as a scandal of 2G proportions?

Yes, if the government has given away coal mines as a matter of largess, charity, donation or endowment for private exploitation. Yes, if the government has allowed one set of citizens prosper at the cost of another set of citizens. And yes, if the coal mines are not allocated to best serve the common good.

Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar, one of the five Supreme Court judges who delivered their unanimous opinion on the Presidential reference on Thursday, made it amply clear in an addendum as to what makes a scam in a given situation.

And for this, Justice Khehar took coal sector as a hypothetical illustration to explain where it might lead the government to arbitrariness and be unfair in disbursement of natural resources.

The Supreme Court.

“One is compelled to take judicial notice of the fact that allotment of natural resources is an issue of extensive debate in the country, so much so, that the issue of allocation of such resources had recently resulted in a washout of two sessions of Parliament. The current debate on allotment of material resources has been prompted by a report submitted by the Comptroller and Auditor General, asserting extensive loss in revenue based on inappropriate allocations. The report it is alleged, points out that private and public sector companies had made windfall gains because the process of competitive bidding had not been adopted. The country witnessed a similar political spat a little while earlier, based on the allocation of the 2G spectrum,’’ says Justice Khehar.

By picking up coal sector as a hypothetical situation, Justice Khehar explicitly demonstrates how “a forthright legitimate legislative policy may take the shape of an illegitimate stratagem.’’

Let’s assume that the government decides to allocate coal lots without any reciprocal favour or monetary gain or any other consideration from a private player engaged in power generation. The law of the land allows it only when the private player is awarded the power project on the basis of ‘competitive bids for tariffs’.

Elaborating the same situation further, Justice Khehar says: “If the bidding process to determine the lowest tariff (of power) has been held, and the said bidding process has taken place without the knowledge that a coal mining lease would be allotted to the successful bidder, yet the successful bidder is awarded a coal mining lease. Would such a grant be valid?… Grant of a mining lease for coal in this situation would therefore be a windfall, without any nexus to the object sought to be achieved.’’

When the government makes such discretions or grants, such grants will stand to the test of being fair, reasonable equitable and impartial, Justice Khehar argues.

“No part of the natural resource can be dissipated as a matter of largess, charity, donation or endowment, for private exploitation. Each bit of natural resource expended must bring back a reciprocal consideration,’’ concludes Justice Khehar.

This is one clear reason why the Central Government, especially Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal, should not go gaga over the Supreme Court’s opinion that ‘auction’ does not have a Constitutional mandate as the only method for disbursement of natural resources.

Justice Khehar warns that the government should not be under erroneous impression that it is ‘not’ necessary to dispose of natural resources by way of auction. “Surely, the Presidential reference has not been made to seek such an innocuous advice,’’ Justice Khehar says.

Quoting and adding special emphasis to the cases cited by respective lawyers during the debate, Justice Khehar sums up some cardinal rules that any public authority or the government should follow while disbursing natural resources.

· Government should remain alive to the fact that disposal of some natural resources have to be made only by auction.

· A rightful choice, would assure maximization of revenue returns. The term “auction” may therefore be read as a means to maximize revenue returns.

· For a country like India, the pendulum must be understood to balance the rights of one citizen on the one side, and 124,14,91,960 (the present estimated population of India) citizens of the country on the other. An individual citizen cannot be a beneficiary, at the cost of the country (the remaining 124,14,91,960 citizens) i.e., the plurality.

· The man on the street should know why the decision has been taken in favour of a particular party.

· The Government must act as a prudent businessman, and that, the profit earned should be for public benefit and not for private gains.

· The State has the right to trade. In executing public contracts in its trading activity the State must be guided by relevant principles, and not by extraneous or irrelevant consideration.

· Every holder of public office is accountable to the people in whom the sovereignty vests.

· But where the public functionary exercises his discretion capriciously, or for considerations, which are mala fide, the public functionary himself must shoulder the burden of compensation held as payable. This Court felt that when a court directs payment of damages or compensation against the State, the ultimate sufferer is the common man, because it is tax payers money out of which damages and costs are paid.

· Article 14 of the Constitution of India applies also to matters of governmental policy even in contractual matters, and if the policy or any action of the government fails to satisfy the test of reasonableness, the same would be unconstitutional.

· The wealth of nation slips away every time when the assets belonging to the citizens are given at a discount.

· Every limb of the government is required to be oriented to public good. Thus, the question of unfettered discretion in an executive authority, just does not arise.

Justice Khehar hopes that the Presidential reference was made to iron out the creases so that such controversies are avoided in future.

PRESS RELEASE–Social movements and democracy being suppressed through fabricated cases


 

 MEDIA RELEASE: 28 September, New Delhi

DSC04230 1 300x169 Social movements and democracy being suppressed through fabricated cases New Delhi: Depositions by representatives of social movements from across the country revealed a familiar pattern of shrinking spaces for democratic dissent. In struggle areas such as Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Odisha and Chhattisgarh the state response has been to use violence and fabricated cases as a systematic tool to undermine people’s struggle for social and environmental justice. A two day ‘Peoples hearing on fabricated cases’ is being organized at the Constitution Club by over 30 groups from across India under the banner of the National Campaign against Fabricated cases.

At Koodankulam, the site of a peaceful anti-nuclear struggle by local communities, the Tamil Nadu police has filed over 109 FIRs against 55,795 people and. At least 21 sections of the IPC have been used, including Section 121 (Waging War against the state) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The state has been unable to respond to substantive issues such as nuclear safety, seismology, environment impact assessment and democratic consent raised by the peaceful protesters.

In the Konkan coast in Maharashtra, there has been a massive investment push with 76 Mining leases, 19 thermal power plants, 23 special economic zones and the Jaitapur nuclear power project being imposed undemocratically on the fisher folk and peasants of the region. People’s democratic right to protest was prevented through legal prohibitory orders and hundreds of activists have been charged with false cases. ‘We have been robbed of our dignity and rights of democratic expression’ said Vaishali Patel one of the leaders of the people’s movement.

Representing the POSCO Prathirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Abhay Sahoo narrated the numerous fictitious cases filed against local communities. Sahoo himself is a victim of some 50 fabricated cases, and was behind bars for 14 months in 2008-09, 5 months in 2011-2012, and is now on bail. While 4 leaders of PPSS are still in jail, more than 200 false cases have been lodged against villagers and warrant orders have been issued against more than 2000 people out of which more than 500 are women. Over 100 women were arrested during the last 3 years but were released on bail.

Because POSCO and Koodankulam are prestige projects for the Manmohan Singh Government, Sahoo predicted that repression and instances of fabricated cases will increase in the coming days. ‘Both these movements need to create more organic linkages and fight jointly for justice’, said Sahoo.

Representatives from SAHELI, a Delhi based womens support group spoke about Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sori, the tragic case of an adivasi family, caught in the crossfire of Operation Green Hunt in Chhattisgarh. Sori continues to languish in a Raipur jail on bizarre charges of burning houses and trucks.

Former MLA Sunilam Mishra, who is the leader of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, spoke about how the police and administration have become tools in the hands of companies in Madhya Pradesh. The MP Government lodged 66 false cases against Dr Sunilam and his associate farmers in one single incident of police firing in Multai.

Shauzab Kazmi deposed on behalf of his journalist father Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi who was arrested in March 2012 in connection with a bomb blast involving an Israeli diplomat.

Journalists Seema Azad and Shahina K K also spoke about the fabricated cases against them. A jury which includes Dr. Binayak Sen, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Ram Punyani, Saba Naqvi and Ajit Sahi will issue recommendations at 4pm tomorrow and a press conference will follow.

 

U.S. court orders imprisonment for anti-Islam filmmaker



28 September 2012 , By AP

In this image from video provided by CBS2-KCAL9, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula,
the man behind the anti-Islamic movie, is escorted by Los Angeles County
sheriff’s deputies from his home, early Saturday, in Cerritos, Calif.
A federal judge on Thursday ordered a California man behind a crudely
produced anti-Islamic video that inflamed parts of the Middle East to be
detained because he is a flight risk.

U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal said Nakoula
Basseley Nakoula should be held after officials said he violated his
probation term for a 2010 cheque fraud conviction.

A federal prosecutor said Nakoula had eight probation violations, including
lying to his probation officers and using aliases.

After his 2010 conviction, Nakoula was sentenced to 21 months in prison and
was barred from using computers or the Internet for five years without
approval from his probation officer.

A 14—minute trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims” was posted on
YouTube in July, leading to protests around the Middle East. The trailer
depicts Muhammad as a womanizer, religious fraud and child molester.

The violence broke out Sept. 11 and has spread since, killing dozens.
Nakoula, a Christian originally from Egypt, went into hiding after he was
identified as the man behind the trailer.

In court Thursday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Dugdale said Nakoula was
flight risk based on a “lengthy pattern of deception.”

“He has every incentive to disappear,” Dugdale said.

Nakoula, 55, was handcuffed and shackled in court.

The full story about Nakoula and the video still isn’t known.

The movie was made last year by a man who called himself Sam Bacile. After
the violence erupted, a man who identified himself as Bacile called media
outlets including The Associated Press, took credit for the film and said
it was meant to portray the truth about Muhammad and Islam, which he called
a cancer.

The next day, the AP determined there was no Bacile and linked the identity
to Nakoula, a former gas station owner with a drug conviction and a history
of using aliases. Federal authorities later confirmed there was no Bacile
and that Nakoula was behind the movie.

Before going into hiding, Nakoula acknowledged to the AP he was involved
with the film, but said he only worked on logistics and management.

A film permit listed Media for Christ, a Los Angeles—area charity run by
other Egyptian Christians, as the production company. Most of the film was
made at the charity’s headquarters. Steve Klein, an insurance agent in
Hemet and outspoken Muslim critic, has said he was a consultant and
promoter for the film.

The trailer still can be found on YouTube. The Obama administration asked
Google, YouTube’s parent, to take down the video. But the company has
refused, saying it did not violate its content standards.

Meanwhile, a number of actors and workers on the film have come forward to
say they were tricked. They say they were hired for a film titled “Desert
Warrior” and there was no mention of Islam or Muhammad in the script. Those
references were dubbed in after filming was completed.

Actress Cindy Lee Garcia has sued to get the trailer taken down, saying she
was duped.

Pitroda does a Modi, ducks hard queries on Twitter


Sam Pitroda

The ‘first-ever government press meet on Twitter‘ by adviser to the Indian Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, left more questions unanswered than it cleared lingering doubts
Balaji Ramesh and Chokkapan S, CYBERMEDIA http://www.ciol.com/
Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BANGALORE, INDIA: Just like how Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi handled questions on Google+ Hangout in a potentially-trendsetting public interaction on August 31, Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Indian Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, adapted a similar approach on Tuesday. Duck and dodge uncomfortable, hard questions, and propagate the government’s agenda through a popular social media platform.

To Pitroda, his own. His preferred choice was Twitter, on which he had called for a ‘virtual’ press conference on Democratization of Information – with a dedicated hashtag, #DoI – which was promoted as the first such ever.

Before the commencement of the press meet at 3.30 pm, the adviser to PM, who is considered a revolutionary in the field of communications, warmed up and set the agenda for the meet with some feel-good promotional messages on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s policies and plans.

Here are a few to sample:

“UPA Govt has various plans to build robust Information Infrastructure to democratize information on a scale that has never been done before.”

“Information is power and not many wish to share. Info is critical for development and needs to be timely available to people.”

“I firmly believe that #Information is the 4th pillar of #democracy along with legislature, executive and judiciary.”

“We have the #open government platform at http://www.data.gov.in/  will provide access to govt. data and documents.”

Once the 45-minute virtual conference began, he was mostly touching upon and explicating about the Public Information Infrastructure (PII) and the National Knowledge Network (NKN).

In his words, “Public #Information Infrastructure (PII) will transform India’s 1.2 billion people into 1.2 billion opportunities.” And, “To build PII, we need multiple open platforms for Broadband, UID, GIS, Security, Applications, Payment and Portals.”

Pitroda added that PII also included fibre connectivity to all 250000 panchayats and the NKN that would connect 1,500 nodes for universities, colleges, R&D labs and libraries, among others. He assured that all 250,000 panchayats would have fibre connectivity to ensure ubiquity.

As for justice delivery, Pitroda said that they were applying ICT for improving and speeding it up.

In response to CIOL’s questions on cloud, mobility and NKN implementation, he had two anwers, as tweets, while harder queries on creative freedom, information security, social media policies of the government duly were ducked, as were many other such questions from other individuals and publications.

The question about his views on the growth of cloud and mobile services in India, was met with, “cloud computing beginning, answer to standards in many areas. Mobile will move more to data & applications.”

Next, the one on the timeline to implement NKN completely across all educational institutions the government planned to cover, had as a reply, “NKN will connect all public universities and R&D labs by end of the year.”

According to Pitroda, NKN was already operational, with 850 institutions connected so far and it was already in all states upto block level. He urged state governments to leverage it, as it had enormous possibilities, including virtual classrooms and research collaboration.

But, in this regard, too, some questions were clumsily handled. Like this one: On how the NKN could possibly help a school girl in a remote village or a tribal in Chattisgarh, Pitroda replied, “They can take online courses.” And, on why Internet remained so unaffordable to the common people in India,  he said, “Hopefully prices will go down as we get more broadband capacity and OFC to panchayats.”

Although many commenting on the thread felt that it was innovative and good for more and more government representatives to interact with public on an open forum like Twitter, there can be no denying that some restrictions on the number of letters one can type and interviewees having a safe option to avoid hard questions, offer them a good platform to talk only about the issues they want to and push their own agenda.

Leak reveals EU’s plans for Large-Scale Surveillance of Communications


21 September, 2012

»

This article is also available in:
Deutsch: CleanIT – Pläne zur Überwachung des Internets im großen Stil 

A leaked document from the CleanIT project shows just how far internal discussions in that initiative have drifted away from its publicly stated aims, as well as the most fundamental legal rules that underpin European democracy and the rule of law.

The European Commission-funded CleanIT project claims that it wants to fight terrorism through voluntary self-regulatory measures that defends the rule of law.

The initial meetings of the initiative, with their directionless and ill-informed discussions about doing “something” to solve unidentified online “terrorist” problems were mainly attended by filtering companies, who saw an interesting business opportunity. Their work has paid off, with numerous proposals for filtering by companies and governments, proposals for liability in case sufficiently intrusive filtering is not used, and calls for increased funding by governments of new filtering technologies.

The leaked document contradicts a letter sent from CleanIT Coordinator But Klaasen to Dutch NGO Bits of Freedom in April of this year, which explained that the project would first identify problems before making policy proposals. The promise to defend the rule of law has been abandoned. There appears never to have been a plan to identify a specific problem to be solved – instead the initiative has become little more than a protection racket (use filtering or be held liable for terrorist offences) for the online security industry.

The proposals urge Internet companies to ban unwelcome activity through their terms of service, but advise that these “should not be very detailed”. This already widespread approach results, for example, in Microsoft (as a wholly typical example of current industry practice) having terms of service that would ban pictures of the always trouserless Donald Duck as potential pornography (“depicts nudity of any sort … in non-human forms such as cartoons”). The leaked paper also contradicts the assertion in the letter that the project “does not aim to restrict behaviour that is not forbidden by law” – the whole point of prohibiting content in terms of service that is theoretically prohibited by law, is to permit extra-judicial vigilantism by private companies, otherwise the democratically justified law would be enough. Worse, the only way for a company to be sure of banning everything that is banned by law, is to use terms that are more broad, less well defined and less predictable than real law.

Moving still further into the realm of the absurd, the leaked document proposes the use of terms of service to remove content “which is fully legal”… although this is up to the “ethical or business” priorities of the company in question what they remove. In other words, if Donald Duck is displeasing to the police, they would welcome, but don’t explicitly demand, ISPs banning his behaviour in their terms of service. Cooperative ISPs would then be rewarded by being prioritised in state-funded calls for tender.

CleanIT (terrorism), financed by DG Home Affairs of the European Commission is duplicating much of the work of the CEO Coalition (child protection), which is financed by DG Communications Networks of the European Commission. Both are, independently and without coordination, developing policies on issues such as reporting buttons and flagging of possibly illegal material. Both CleanIT and the CEO Coalition are duplicating each other’s work on creating “voluntary” rules for notification and removal of possibly illegal content and are jointly duplicating the evidence-based policy work being done by DG Internal Market of the European Commission, which recently completed a consultation on this subject. Both have also been discussing upload filtering, to monitor all content being put online by European citizens.

CleanIT wants binding engagements from internet companies to carry out surveillance, to block and to filter (albeit only at “end user” – meaning local network – level). It wants a network of trusted online informants and, contrary to everything that they have ever said, they also want new, stricter legislation from Member States.

Unsurprisingly, in EDRi‘s discussions with both law enforcement agencies and industry about CleanIT, the word that appears with most frequency is “incompetence”.

The document linked below is distributed to participants on a “need to know” basis – we are sharing the document because citizens need to know what is being proposed.

Key measures being proposed:

  • Removal of any legislation preventing filtering/surveillance of employees’ Internet connections
  • Law enforcement authorities should be able to have content removed “without following the more labour-intensive and formal procedures for ‘notice and action’”
  • “Knowingly” providing links to “terrorist content” (the draft does not refer to content which has been ruled to be illegal by a court, but undefined “terrorist content” in general) will be an offence “just like” the terrorist
  • Legal underpinning of “real name” rules to prevent anonymous use of online services
  • ISPs to be held liable for not making “reasonable” efforts to use technological surveillance to identify (undefined) “terrorist” use of the Internet
  • Companies providing end-user filtering systems and their customers should be liable for failing to report “illegal” activity identified by the filter
  • Customers should also be held liable for “knowingly” sending a report of content which is not illegal
  • Governments should use the helpfulness of ISPs as a criterion for awarding public contracts
  • The proposal on blocking lists contradict each other, on the one hand providing comprehensive details for each piece of illegal content and judicial references, but then saying that the owner can appeal (although if there was already a judicial ruling, the legal process would already have been at an end) and that filtering such be based on the “output” of the proposed content regulation body, the “European Advisory Foundation”
  • Blocking or “warning” systems should be implemented by social media platforms – somehow it will be both illegal to provide (undefined) “Internet services” to “terrorist persons” and legal to knowingly provide access to illegal content, while “warning” the end-user that they are accessing illegal content
  • The anonymity of individuals reporting (possibly) illegal content must be preserved… yet their IP address must be logged to permit them to be prosecuted if it is suspected that they are reporting legal content deliberately and to permit reliable informants’ reports to be processed more quickly
  • Companies should implement upload filters to monitor uploaded content to make sure that content that is removed – or content that is similar to what is removed – is not re-uploaded
  • It proposes that content should not be removed in all cases but “blocked” (i.e. make inaccessible by the hosting provider – not “blocked” in the access provider sense) and, in other cases, left available online but with the domain name removed.

Leaked document: http://www.edri.org/files/cleanIT_sept2012.pdf

CleanIT Project website: http://www.cleanitproject.eu/

Microsoft “code of conduct”: http://windows.microsoft.com/is-IS/windows-live/code-of-conduct

CleanIT’s letter to Bits of Freedom about “factual inaccuracies” and their unfulfilled promise to produce a problem definition: http://95.211.138.23/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/20120106-Reaction-blog…

EDRigram article 29 August: http://edri.org/edrigram/number10.16/cleanit-safer-internet-for-terror…

EDRigram article 20 June: http://edri.org/edrigram/number10.12/the-rise-of-the-european-upload-f…

Human rights are the best weapon to combat hunger, report says


A report by civil society groups says it is impossible to tackle the causes of hunger if existing power relations remain untouched

MDG : Human rights and food security : A Indian youth eats food distributed by local charity, India

An Indian boy eats food distributed by a charity outside a temple in Delhi. Photograph: Kevin Frayer/AP

Human rights are the most powerful tool to ensure efforts against hungerand malnutrition tackle structural causes and are not reduced to short-term strategies, civil society groups said in a report published on Tuesday.

Who Decides About Global Food and Nutrition? – Strategies to Regain Control argues that it is impossible to combat the causes of hunger while keeping existing power relations untouched.

“Food and power are related. It is almost impossible to find one person among the powerful in society and politics worldwide who does not have enough to eat,” said Huguette Akplogan-Dossa, regional co-ordinator of the African Network on the Right to Food (ANoRF). “The tendency is for exclusion from economic and political decision-making to go hand in hand with incidences of hunger and malnutrition.”

The report expresses particular concern about the increasing influence and control of agribusinesses and financial companies over food and nutrition.

“Far too often, agribusinesses and nutrition companies use their weight and influence to increase their profit margins, and to manipulate the rules to their interests and convenience, without regard for the best interests of small-scale food producers and the survival of their communities – let alone the moral and legal requirements of the human right to food,” said Peter Prove, executive director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

The report points to a faultline in how to deal with food security – access to safe and nutritious food. There is the “mainstream approach” favoured by governments and international organisations, such as Agra, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and backed by the Gates Foundation, which focuses on technocratic approaches – better seeds and technology – to boost productivity and access to markets. This week, Agra is holding a forum in Arusha, Tanzania, on plans for developing Africa’s agricultural sector.

However, the civil society groups behind the fifth annual report on the right to food and nutrition put the emphasis on a rights-based approach. They say an agricultural system that features large US and EU farm subsidies, along with a concentration of power among a few grain giants such as ADM, Cargill and Bunge (the main corporate beneficiaries of US food aid), contribute to food insecurity in poor countries.

“Allowing decision-making to be in the hands of a powerful but reduced group has led to a centralised model of food supply, which in many cases results in famines, political abuse, or infringement on the state’s basic obligations when it comes to human rights: to respect, protect and fulfil them,” the report says.

The report sees negative corporate influence at work in the Scaling Up Nutrition (Sun) initiative, involving a $2.9bn plan to promote good nutritional practices with $6.2bn on preventing and treating malnutrition with special foods. Backed by the UN, the scheme has the support ofGain, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition. Gain’s partners include food giants such as PepsiCo, Kraft and Danone.

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, while welcoming the progress on Sun, has pointed out how the private sector tries to use technical solutions for what are fundamentally social problems. De Schutter has called on countries committed to scaling up nutrition to begin by regulating the marketing of commercial infant formula and other breast-milk substitutes. He has also noted the tension between a strategy that promotes processed foods, enriched with nutrients to the point that diets become “medicalised”, and one that promotes local and regional food systems, as well as a shift towards less heavily processed and more nutritious food.

A chapter in the report, written by Marcos Arana Cedeño and Xaviera Cabada, cites the vigorous promotion of soft drinks on school premises in Mexico by companies – endorsed by many school authorities, which provide space for sales and advertising in exchange for school supplies or financial benefits. They note the serious problems in Mexico’s regions with large indigenous populations, where obesity rates are growing faster within the poorest quintile.

“It is precisely in these indigenous regions where the most aggressive and unregulated marketing practices of sweetened soft drinks take place,” the authors write. These practices include a 35% price cut, promotion in Spanish and indigenous languages, and numerous sales outlets within and around schools.

Civil society groups are making themselves heard on the issues surrounding food security and hunger. After years of negotiations involving governments, international organisations and civil society groups under the UN’s Committee on World Food Security. The body officially endorsed the voluntary guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security.

The guidelines promote secure tenure rights and equitable access to land, fisheries and forests as a means of eradicating hunger and poverty, supporting sustainable development and enhancing the environment. They contain provisions to protect local communities, indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups from land speculation and land concentration.

“With the reform of the Committee on World Food Security, an innovative way of inclusive governance has been established. It has been a breakthrough for those civil society groups that traditionally have been excluded from decision-making processes on all levels,” said Flavio Valente, secretary general of advocacy group Fian Internationa

Latest report: prevention and treatment of postpartum haemorrhage” by WHO 2012


Latest publication on “WHO recommendations for the prevention and treatment of postpartum haemorrhage” by WHO, 2012.

Every minute around the world 380 women become pregnant,

190 women face unplanned or unwanted pregnancies,

110 women experience pregnancy related complications,

40 women have unsafe abortions,

1 woman dies.”

The World Health Organization states that every minute, at least one woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth – that means 529 000 women a year. Unavailable, inaccessible, unaffordable, or poor quality care is fundamentally responsible.

 
Find the latest recommendations below.
The report in its guideline development method, section of the report reads out as follows: “The scientific evidence for the recommendations was synthesized using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) methodology. For each of the previous WHO recommendations on PPH (2007 and 2009) and for all the newly-added questions, evidence profiles were prepared based on 22 up-to-date systematic reviews. The revised and new recommendations were developed and adopted by an international group of experts who participated in the WHO Technical Consultation on the Prevention and Treatment of PPH, held in Montreux, Switzerland, 6–8 March 2012. The WHO Technical Consultation adopted 32 recommendations and these are shown in Boxes A, B and C. For each recommendation, the quality of the supporting evidence is graded as ‘very low’, ‘low’, ‘moderate’ or ‘high’………………”
Box A: Recommendations for the prevention of PPH
1. The use of uterotonics for the prevention of PPH during the third stage of labour is recommended for all births. (Strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
2. Oxytocin (10 IU, IV/IM) is the recommended uterotonic drug for the prevention of PPH. (Strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
3. In settings where oxytocin is unavailable, the use of other injectable uterotonics (if appropriate ergometrine/methylergometrine or the fixed drug combination of oxytocin and ergometrine) or oral misoprostol (600 μg) is recommended. (Strong recommendation, moderate quality evidence)
 
4. In settings where skilled birth attendants are not present and oxytocin is unavailable, the administration of misoprostol (600 μg PO) by community health care workers and lay health workers is recommended for the prevention of PPH. (Strong recommendation, moderate quality evidence)
 
5. In settings where skilled birth attendants are available, CCT is recommended for vaginal births if the care provider and the parturient woman regard a small reduction in blood loss and a small reduction in the duration of the third stage of labour as important (Weak recommendation, 
 
6. In settings where skilled birth attendants are unavailable, CCT is not recommended. (Strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
7. Late cord clamping (performed after 1 to 3 minutes after birth) is recommended for all births while initiating simultaneous essential newborn care. (Strong recommendation, moderatequality evidence)
 
8. Early cord clamping (<1 minute after birth) is not recommended unless the neonate is asphyxiated and needs to be moved immediately for resuscitation. (Strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
9. Sustained uterine massage is not recommended as an intervention to prevent PPH in women who have received prophylactic oxytocin. (Weak recommendation, low-quality evidence)
 
10. Postpartum abdominal uterine tonus assessment for early identification of uterine atony is recommended for all women. (Strong recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
11. Oxytocin (IV or IM) is the recommended uterotonic drug for the prevention of PPH in caesarean section. (Strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
12. Controlled cord traction is the recommended method for removal of the placenta in caesarean section. (Strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
Box B: Recommendations for the treatment of PPH
 
13. Intravenous oxytocin alone is the recommended uterotonic drug for the treatment of PPH. (Strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
14. If intravenous oxytocin is unavailable, or if the bleeding does not respond to oxytocin, the use of intravenous ergometrine, oxytocin-ergometrine fixed dose, or a prostaglandin drug (including sublingual misoprostol, 800 μg) is recommended. (Strong recommendation, low-quality evidence)
 
15. The use of isotonic crystalloids is recommended in preference to the use of colloids for the initial intravenous fluid resuscitation of women with PPH. (Strong recommendation, low-quality evidence)
 
16. The use of tranexamic acid is recommended for the treatment of PPH if oxytocin and other uterotonics fail to stop bleeding or if it is thought that the bleeding may be partly due to trauma. (Weak recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
17. Uterine massage is recommended for the treatment of PPH. (Strong recommendation, verylow- quality evidence)
 
18. If women do not respond to treatment using uterotonics, or if uterotonics are unavailable, the use of intrauterine balloon tamponade is recommended for the treatment of PPH due to uterine atony. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
19. If other measures have failed and if the necessary resources are available, the use of uterine artery embolization is recommended as a treatment for PPH due to uterine atony. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
20. If bleeding does not stop in spite of treatment using uterotonics and other available conservative interventions (e.g. uterine massage, balloon tamponade), the use of surgical interventions is recommended. (Strong recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
21. The use of bimanual uterine compression is recommended as a temporizing measure until appropriate care is available for the treatment of PPH due to uterine atony after vaginal delivery. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
22. The use of external aortic compression for the treatment of PPH due to uterine atony after vaginal birth is recommended as a temporizing measure until appropriate care is available. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
23. The use of non-pneumatic anti-shock garments is recommended as a temporizing measure until appropriate care is available. (Weak recommendation, low-quality evidence)
 
24. The use of uterine packing is not recommended for the treatment of PPH due to uterine atony after vaginal birth. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
25. If the placenta is not expelled spontaneously, the use of IV/IM oxytocin (10 IU) in combination with controlled cord traction is recommended. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
26. The use of ergometrine for the management of retained placenta is not recommended as this may cause tetanic uterine contractions which may delay the expulsion of the placenta. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
27. The use of prostaglandin E2 alpha (dinoprostone or sulprostone) for the management of retained placenta is not recommended. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
28. A single dose of antibiotics (ampicillin or first-generation cephalosporin) is recommended if manual removal of the placenta is practised. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
Box – C: Organisation of Care
29. The use of formal protocols by health facilities for the prevention and treatment of PPH is recommended. (Weak recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
 
30. The use of formal protocols for referral of women to a higher level of care is recommended for health facilities. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
31. The use of simulations of PPH treatment is recommended for pre-service and in-service training programmes. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)
 
32. Monitoring the use of uterotonics after birth for the prevention of PPH is recommended as a process indicator for programmatic evaluation. (Weak recommendation, very-low-quality evidence)

India- Govt to bring essential medicines under price control #goodnews


 

, TNN | Sep 28, 2012, 12.54AM IST

Govt to bring essential medicines under price control
Once these essential medicines are brought under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), it cannot be sold at a price higher than that fixed by the government.
NEW DELHI: India will, for the first time, put a cap on the maximum price at which essential drugs, like some commonly used anti-AIDS and anti-cancer drugs, besides a horde of painkillers, anti-TB drugs, sedatives, lipid lowering agents and steroids, can be sold in the country.

In a landmark decision, a group of ministers (GoM) headed by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday cleared the proposal to bring all 348 drugs on the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) under price control. These drugs, with annual sales of around Rs 29,000 crore, account for about 60% of the domestic market.

Once these essential medicines are brought under Drug Price Control Order (DPCO), it cannot be sold at a price higher than that fixed by the government.

The GoM, which included health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, decided on a “weighted average price formula”. This means the average price of all the brands sold in individual segments with a minimum market share of 1% will be the maximum retail price now.

The GoM will send its recommendations to the Cabinet within a week for approval. “The proposal will now go to the Cabinet which will take the final view,” Pawar said.

Prices rose 40% in 10 years

At present, the government, through the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), controls prices of 74 bulk drugs and their formulations. Drug prices have shot up phenomenally in India over the past decade and a half. There was a nearly 40% rise in all drug prices between 1996 and 2006. However, during the same period, the price of controlled drugs rose by 0.02%, while those in the Essential Drug List (EDL) increased by 15%. The price of drugs that were neither under price control nor under the EDL grew by 137%.

Interestingly, experts say there could a small downside to the proposal. “Price of costly drugs will definitely come down. But because the formula will put a cap on the MRP, the price of drugs for the same ailment, which are presently sold at a lower price, will go up,” experts said.

Minister of state for chemicals and fertilizers Srikant Jena said, “The GoM arrived at a consensus on the option which entails the use of weighted average prices for all the drugs which have a market-share of more than 1%.”

The concept of essential medicines, first introduced by the World Health Organization in 1977, has been adopted by many countries including India.

The list includes the most cost-effective medicines for a particular indication. Essential medicines are those that satisfy the priority healthcare needs of the majority of the population. The list is specific to India and addresses the disease burden of the nation besides being the commonly used medicines at primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare levels.

The latest NLEM 2011 has 348 medicines which cover 489 formulations, including 16 fixed dose combinations. These drugs are considered to be adequate to meet the common contemporary health needs of the general population of the country.

Planning Commission panel had suggested that all drugs on the NLEM should be brought under price control since the cost of medicines constitutes over 60% of the total cost of healthcare of Indians. The commission’s report had said, “Taking advantage of lax regulations on drug pricing, the pharmaceutical industry has been able to reap high margins through complex price setting activities.”

It added, “It has been observed that the price of a therapeutically similar drug could vary around 1,000% between the most expensive and the cheapest brands. The variation between the market and procurement price of similar drugs could range anywhere between 100% and 5,000%. The panel recommends price control on all formulations in the EDL.”

The report said direct price control should be applied to formulations rather than on basic drugs.

A note prepared by the drug controller general of India and available with TOI says, “A total of 348 medicines excluding repetitions are present in NLEM 2011. In NLEM 2011, 181 medicines fall under the category of primary, secondary and tertiary use, 106 medicines fall under category of secondary and tertiary use while 61 medicines are categorized as tertiary use only. In comparison to NLEM 2003, number of medicines deleted is 47 and 43 medicines have been added.”

It added, “Out of the 348 medicines, 37 medicines are currently under prices control by National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority.”

 

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