Norway row: ‘Were my parents taken away because I was bad?


by  , First Post, Dec 2, 2012

Seven-year-old Sai Sriram looks up at me with innocent eyes, with a gaze that is clearly searching for answers. He is probably wondering why I am asking for him to be sent inside when so many people and camera crew are inside his home in Miyapur on the outskirts of Hyderabad.

I am worried about the effect the picture of his parents – Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni and Anupama – that is flashing non-stop on the TV screen, will have on his young mind. At least three vernacular TV channels have jumped the gun and are incorrectly flashing that the parents have been sentenced to jail. Monday will be the critical day when an Oslo court could sentence his mother to 15 months and father to 18 months in jail.

The boy and his younger brother Abhiram, less than two and who was still being breastfed by his mother till one week ago, look lost and confused. They are upset. They don’t know why Amma is not back yet as promised.

Sai Sriram has been diagnosed with mild to moderate ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactive disorder: Firstpost

Sriram says his father is away on work. But “Nanna” (for father) has not spoken to him over Skype for a week now and he is wondering why. He obviously does not know his parents have been arrested in Norway on charges of “repeated maltreatment of their child/children by threats, violence and other wrong”.

Sai Sriram’s doctor Dr Kalyan Chakravarthy who has been interacting with the child for the last three months says Sriram thinks he was earlier punished for “bad behaviour” by being kept away from his parents for many days and now his parents have been taken away because he has been “naughty”. Sriram was taken away by the child welfare agency in Norway for eight weeks earlier this year on suspicion that the child was being `scolded and intimidated’ at home.

Do we ever realise how much children blame themselves for what they see going wrong around them, with their parents?

The developments are clearly having an adverse effect on the emotional and physical health of the seven-year-old. Sai Sriram is diagnosed with mild to moderate ADHD or attention-deficit hyperactive disorder. He had been responding positively to treatment and to the occupational therapy he was undergoing, but the absence of both parents is obviously causing tremendous trauma and the child is regressing and deteriorating.

Sriram, always a fussy eater, has not been eating well all of last week and his paternal grandmother is obviously worried about his health. Abhiram has been running fever and is asthmatic.

The children obviously miss their mothers nurturing and cuddles. Chandrasekhar’s mother Srilakshmi is in tears, unable to console the children, who are longing and crying for their parents. Both children share a strong emotional bond with their parents and that is now showing in their health and well-being, she says. “I don’t think I took as much care of my children as my daughter-in-law always does. She can’t bear to see them hurt in any way”, she said.

Anupama’s father fights his tears as he tries to explain to total strangers the credentials of his daughter as a loving mother and her husband as a caring father.

“My daughter did her B.Tech and is well-educated. But they both decided that the money he is earning is enough and they would focus on the upbringing of their children. So she remained a housewife”, he said.

Sai Sriram was born premature at seven months and from the very beginning, he had been a difficult child, who needed more patience and understanding in handling, the grandfather says.

No one in the family is denying that the elder child would be every now and then reprimanded, scolded or threatened, all of which they feel is part of the Indian style of parenting to try and discipline the child. But seen through the glares of Western perception and cultural values and put in the context of what has been often called a “draconian” Norwegian law, the parents have been criminalised and painted as villains.

Even presuming that the parents were not ideal human beings, with loads of patience and with the capacity and intention to practice progressive parenting values, condemning them to jail seems an excess beyond justification. They may have even crossed the line and committed some wrongs, but surely their intention was not to torture their child or subject him to inhuman treatment.

From all accounts, they seem to be affectionate, caring parents. It is quite possible that their frustrations sometimes broke their patience and they may have acted in a manner that they regretted only minutes later. Doesn’t it happen to all of us?

What they needed then and now is support and counselling on the best way to deal with the child and with their own emotions. Not a sentence behind bars. Friends of the couple in Norway insist there is documentary evidence to suggest that they sought help for their child and themselves. They never got that help. All they got was blame and were labelled criminals.

If putting the parents in jail is punishing a wrong, then who is going to correct the wrong of denying the children the loving care of their parents. Splitting a family this way would be to compound an error.

 

A pecking order falls #sundayreading


Author(s): Garga Chatterjee, DOWN TO EARTH
Date: Dec 15, 2012

The veil of civilisation and Hurricane Sandy

Garga ChatterjeeGarga Chatterjee

We live in a world filled with theories of human nature, or more correctly, theories of human nature that explain differences between people. Such theories have a wide ranging currency and explain differences between people in things as varied as poverty, labour efficiency, honesty, graciousness, violence (or lack thereof), scientific progress, cleanliness of streets, alcoholism, sexual prowess and what not. The power of these theories are in that they set the agenda, around which we create our perceptions of ourselves and others, our assessment of the present, our hopes for the future, our aspirations and desires.

This is why it is important we take such “human nature” theories seriously and critically, for they define our present and limit our future. The cold-blooded violence of the Taliban, the simplicity of Chhattisgarh adivasis, the mathematical ability of Tamil brahmins, the ability of German companies to build precision instruments, the courteousness (“How are you doing?”) of a white bus driver in Boston, the sense of justice of the British, the spirit of entrepreneurship of immigrant Europeans in North America, the dapper look of a New York police officer, the sense of duty, discipline and punctuality that is apparently absent among brown folks—this long list is only a small set of qualities that are attributed to the intrinsic nature of a group of people. The Pashtun are prone to gratuitous violence “by nature”. The other examples I cite also have this quality of being explained by the nature of the people, an ethnic-quality, so to say, that specially marks them out, for good or for bad.

This way of explaining away differences between people not only obfuscates strands of commonality between them but also works against initiatives of transformation of societies from within (Pashtun women cannot “save” themselves and Pashtun men cannot have any role in such an initiative). Such ideas also make us permanent prisoners of an inferiority complex (lazy, dishonest, unclean brown men)—piecemeal personal liberation coming through some kind of an internal theorising that one is among the very few with the “wrong” skin but the “right” nature.

Our world has this organisation, this “civilisational” pecking order of sorts, which manages to encroach upon our innermost subjectivities, deeply colouring our attitudes and aspirations. It even warps our sense of aesthetics, so much so that we cannot even make ourselves dislike what we may know to be bad. For example, my modern urban aesthetic can only imagine beauty in concrete while I know that paving the ground makes rainwater run off, causing water tables to drop. The alternatives, soil, dust, clay, have lost all aesthetic appeal, irrespective of my public posturing. This crisis has multiple far-reaching implications—environmental effects are only one of them.

imageIllustration: Vaibhav Raghunandan

It is not easy to see the world bare naked, without the ideological veil of the civilisational pecking order, especially when it has been naturalised. Rare are the moments when the veil is lifted. It is the witnessing of such rare moments that helps one unlearn, cleanse oneself off handed-down ideologies and breathe easy. And here comes the story of the hurricane. For nature in itself (not our perception of nature) has not been brainwashed.

Because it has not been brainwashed, it can be irreverent, indiscriminate. It can lash Haiti’s coastline and lower Manhattan in similar ways and in one stroke can be the great equaliser when dehumanised Haitians and refined New Yorkers, the “animal” and the “ideal”, both are frightened and shiver. Rare are these moments when layer upon layer of ideology, constructed over centuries, can be briefly peeled back to show what is generally concealed by the apparent disparities between the garbage-scavenger of Mumbai and the iPhone-toting yuppie New Yorker. The approaching Hurricane Sandy caused panic. People tried to stock up on water and food. There were fistfights to buy water.

There was no queue. There was no “discipline”. There was no “West”. There is no “West” without surplus—the genie that bankrolls the breathing space between mere survival and the life of consumer dignity.

A friend from New Jersey called. There was no electricity. “What’s the correct way to wash clothes without the machine? You are from India, you know right!” Alas, I am from elite Kolkata, but I knew by seeing. Put water, put clothes, put soap. He said, “and then spin by hand?” He wanted to mimic the machine. With the power gone, the powerlessness showed. Notions of differential “progress” due to difference in “intrinsic” nature become dubious in such circumstances.

Of course, electricity gets restored. But to look at your belief system being battered by a hurricane is not easy.

It is not easy to see unclean public lavatories that you thought you had left behind in the tropics. Just one day of a Hurricane blessed holiday of the underclass janitors is enough to create a stench that one has learned to associate with some and not with some. In the gullet of Manhattan, from where the Empire State Building cannot be seen, pecking orders briefly collapse. They collapse without hurricanes too, on a daily basis, between the rounds that the janitor makes, in the obnoxious splatters in lavatories of Michelin starred restaurants, in the toilets left unflushed in the most exclusive of hotels. The frequent restroom cleaning keeps the ideological veneer on for us to aspire and be awed. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Surplus makes near-godliness achievable on this earth.

For a significant part of the year I live in a locality of Kolkata. This is also where I grew up—a distinctly “down-market” area called Chetla. People often wear lungis on streets and near the railway bridge, there are lumps of human excreta on the roadside every morning. As I stroll down the manicured streets of Boston, a dirty thought emerges. If the surplus were to evaporate, would the sauve Bostonian come to resemble my people from Chetla? How would the sidewalks of Massachusetts Avenue look early in the morning? Would the air still be filled with the nauseatingly high number of “Thank yous” , “Sorrys” and “Excuse mes” I say and hear every day? Would this veneer of gracefulness, thankfulness, personal space, yoga retreats and wine-tastings still mesmerise? What does it take to lift the veil? The ease of unravelling might hold better clues to our commonalities and differences than ideologies of progress and development.

Hurricanes can only pull out a couple of such veils, that too very briefly. Meanwhile, in other parts of global urbania that are playing catch-up, elaborate mechanisms of creating lavatories and frequently cleaning them are being finalised. However, they do not have the advantage of acquiring shipfuls of humans from Senegal. Their dreams of creating a “world-class” Delhi need more than a few fingers of Katam Suresh of Gompad, Chattisgarh. One needs many Chhattisgarhs, millions of fingers to adorn the necks of thousands of unreformed “Angulimalas”. To “naturally” fit into the class of connoisseurs of “Belgian” chocolate, one needs to be better than King Leopold. King Leopold of Belgium. Google him. Léopold Louis Philippe Marie Victor. Even their names sound better between hurricanes.

Garga Chatterjee is a columnist and fellow at MIT Boston in the US

 

Bahrain: health workers convicted to prison sentences


Thursday, 29 November 2012 21:13

 

On 21 November, 23 health professionals in Bahrain were sentenced to three months in prison on charges of illegally gathering during Arab spring protests in 2011. Five others were acquitted.

Richard Sollom, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights said: “We are disappointed, though not surprised, that the Bahraini regime once again has decided to punish health professionals merely for expressing their right to peaceful assembly. Instead of punishing these dedicated professionals, the Government of Bahrain should focus on prosecuting the people responsible for torturing many of those who were arrested and detained.”

The 23 people convicted today include 12 physicians, as well as nurses and other health professionals. All are expected to appeal their convictions. Four other health professionals whose appeals were denied in October are already serving sentences ranging from one to five years.

Last year, a Commission of Inquiry established by the King of Bahrain to investigate charges of human rights abuses, recommended that the government review and commute the sentences of all persons charged with offenses involving peaceful political expression and to drop any outstanding charges against them. However, the court did not follow this advice.

“None of these health professionals belongs in prison,” said Sollom. “Once again, we call on the regime to reverse the convictions of all health professionals, to expunge those convictions from their records, to restore them to their jobs, and to compensate them for the time they lost in having to challenge these spurious charges.”

Source: Physicians for Human Rights website

 

Nuclear waste will not magically disappear. So who will be made to suffer its toxic effects?


Why I don’t take Kolar lightly

Nuclear waste will not magically disappear. So who will be made to suffer its toxic effects?

Nityanand Jayaraman, Independent Journalist

Not in our backyard Activists protest against plans to dump nuclear waste in Kolar, Karnataka

Photo: KPN

ON 21 NOVEMBER, the Solicitor General of India, Rohinton Nariman, declared in the Supreme Court that the country’s high-level nuclear waste has found a final resting place in the unused mines of the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF). Nariman is appearing for the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) in a case challenging the imminent commissioning of the Koodankulam reactors. Incensed by the choice of Kolar as India’s nuclear dumpyard, people of the town in Karnataka protested with a bandh on 23 November, forcing some in the UPA government to deny any such plans. On 27 November, the NPCIL clarified in court that it had no plans to dump nuclear waste in Kolar.


Neither the original statement in court nor the subsequent retraction should be taken lightly. Such flip-flopping on crucial facts exposes the nuclear establishment’s cavalier attitude towards people’s safety. In its affidavit to the Supreme Court on 7 November, the NPCIL had indicated that “R&D” (research and development) towards identifying a suitable site for permanent storage of long-lived nuclear waste has been in progress for over three decades. This included experimentation in the abandoned Kolar mineshafts. That is as specific as the affidavit gets. All other statements on spent-fuel management are casual, vague and replete with many a wishful “if this, then that”.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warns that “spent fuel remains radioactive for thousands of years, and hence needs stringent isolation and safety measures”. In Koodankulam, for instance, the initial plan was to export the spent fuel by sea directly from the plant to the erstwhile Soviet Union. Now, many years later, the plan is to store them inside the containment for seven years, and then move them to a yet-to-be conceived away-from-reactor facility onsite. From there, they are to be removed at some undisclosed time in the future, to a yet-to-be conceived reprocessing facility, or a yet-to-be identified final disposal site through an undisclosed railway or road route.

This change — from exporting spent fuel to keeping them indefinitely onsite — radically alters the safety scenario. Spentfuel assemblies are stored underwater in specially made pools. With every passing year, the number of fuel assemblies in the pools increases to a point where the radioactivity in the pool far exceeds the radioactivity in the reactor cores.

A spent-fuel pool at Fukushima in Japan was badly damaged by the 2011 earthquake. If another earthquake were to drain the water in the pool, the spent fuel could explode, releasing up to 10 times more radioactive cesium than Chernobyl — a second Level 7 accident.

The Koodankulam plant operators are unprepared for any such event. To an RTI query on contingency plans for a Level 7 accident, NPCIL responded with a one-liner: “Level 7 accident is not envisaged at KKNPP.”

Spent-fuel management demands clarity, not platitudes that seek to convey that nuclear waste will magically disappear. Last week, Nariman told the apex court that spent fuel is reused for generating electricity, and that reprocessing spent fuel was the key to India’s three-stage nuclear programme. In an interview to The Hindu, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, Director Sekhar Basu said, “Our policy is to reprocess all the fuel put into a nuclear reactor.”

Such statements fail to reflect the whole truth. While India does reprocess some of its spent fuel, it does not yet produce electricity from the recovered plutonium. In a published paper titled India’s Atomic Energy Programme: Claims and Reality, physicist and activist Suvrat Raju writes: “Of the three planned stages, only the first stage comprises conventional nuclear reactors that use uranium as a fuel. The second and third stages were to consist of fast-breeder reactors and thorium reactors.” After more than 50 years, “only the first stage has been implemented, albeit unsuccessfully,” he notes.

Developing these technologies involves tremendous financial and radiation risks, besides delays. The Kalpakkam Atomic Reprocessing Plant, a tiny unit to reprocess waste from a fastbreeder test reactor, took 13 years to commission. India’s first 500 MW fast-breeder reactor in Kalpakkam was to have been commissioned earlier this year, but is still under construction.

The government’s passionate subsidising of the nuclear programme notwithstanding, India has a total installed annual reprocessing capacity of a paltry 300 tonnes of spent fuel in Tarapur and Kalpakkam. In an email to this writer, MV Ramana, a physicist critical of the economics and safety of nuclear power, stated that this is not sufficient even to handle the 376 tonnes per year of spent fuel generated by the Kaiga, Madras and Tarapur atomic power stations. The six Koodankulam plants alone would generate 150 tonnes of spent fuel.

Recent political developments, too, are bound to skew the economics of the three-stage programme, which had gained currency and relevance at an earlier time when the country was denied nuclear technology and uranium fuel, and had to depend on scarce local reserves of low-grade uranium. However, in September 2008, the Nuclear Suppliers Group that controls uranium fuel trade lifted a 30-year post-Pokhran embargo on India. Today, not only are uranium imports possible, but fuel suppliers are likely to be begging for buyers. With Japan, Germany, Switzerland and even France easing out of nuclear energy, demand for fuel is bound to come down. Now that uranium is easily available from global suppliers, reprocessing for the three-stage programme no longer seems to be the centre-plank of India’s nuclear strategy.

Is that why the government has purchased 32,000 MW worth of reactors from France, USA, Russia and South Korea, all of which will run on imported fuel? These will contribute 700 tonnes of spent fuel annually, for which no reprocessing capacity has been conceived. At $10 million/tonne rates cited by the US Department of Energy (DoE), a 700-tonne reprocessing plant will cost $7 billion (Rs 35,000 crore).

Most official views on spent-fuel management are replete with many a wishful ‘if this, then that’

ACCORDING TO the Union of Concerned Scientists, a US-based think-tank, “Reprocessing and the use of plutonium as reactor fuel are… far more expensive than using uranium fuel and disposing of the spent fuel directly.”

Cost analysis of recovered fuel versus imported fuel does not support the setting up of reprocessing facilities for fuel recovery. Neither does the waste management logic. Reprocessing does not make waste disappear. In fact, a recent study by the US DoE finds that reprocessing actually generates 160 times more low-level waste, requiring secure disposal. That is in addition to high-level waste with radioactivity lasting hundreds of thousands of years. One IAEA study estimates that reprocessing the spent fuel from a VVER (water-cooled, water-moderated) reactor, such as in Koodankulam, will itself generate 10.5 cubic metres of high-level waste per 1,000 MW, which will require final storage. Since the imported reactors are under IAEA safeguards, any recovered plutonium cannot be diverted for military uses. The plutonium recovered from India’s unsafeguarded reprocessing facilities, however, can be used for military purposes, and probably will be.

Economics, the historically partypooping show stopper, may have just put paid to India’s expensive reprocessing plans, at least for civilian purposes. Meanwhile, India still has to contend with a growing stockpile of high-level waste. Writing in Current Science in 2001, Ramana and others estimate that India’s stockpile of post-reprocessing high-level waste, as of December 2000, was 5,000 cubic metres, or the equivalent of 150 20-foot freight containers.

That is why I think the government will be seriously looking for a vulnerable community to dump the nuclear waste in — if not in Kolar, then elsewhere.

Jayaraman is a Chennai-based writer and volunteer with the Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle

letters@tehelka.com

 

#India- 21-year-old Wrestler shot by trigger-happy cops


New Delhi on saturday, a day after he was shot at by the Haryana Police in an encounter
Saurabh Duggal, Hindustan Times, and  Ananya Bhradwaj in Indian Express
Chandigarh, December 01, 2012

The confusion over the registration number of a car has resulted in the Haryana Police putting a question mark on a wrestler’s future. The information with the police was that a gang was travelling in the Verna bearing a Punjab number.

Acting on the tip-off, the police team fired
at the vehicle, which instead had the national campers, near the northern Sports Authority of India Centre in Sonepat on Wednesday night. 

Junior international wrestler Gurpal Singh was shot in the back while two other national campers, Manav and Surajbir, had a narrow escape.

The cops fired five rounds, three of which hit the dashboard, while one smashed the car’s taillight and another hit Gurpal. “Gurpal and the other campers had gone to Sonepat after attending the evening training session at the SAI Centre in Bahalgarh. On the way back, they were intercepted by an armed Haryana Police team in plain clothes.

“Without disclosing their identity, they asked the trio to step out of the car. Thinking that they were going to be robbed, the wrestlers tried to speed away. This made the cops suspicious and they opened fire, and one bullet hit Gurpal,” Raj Singh, secretary general, Wrestling Federation of India, told HT. “The wrestlers went back to the SAI Centre where coaches and doctors rushed Gurpal to the Jaipur Golden Hospital. Fortunately, the impact of the bullet was reduced as it had hit a windowpane, and the wound is not deep,” he added. Gurpal (96kg freestyle) is the nephew of legendary wrestler Kartar Singh.

“It is unprofessional on the part of the Haryana Police, and the incident could have been worse. The team should have disclosed their identity when they stopped the wrestlers,” said Kartar, who is also an IPS officer.

“A case under Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC has been registered on the complaint of Gurpal Singh. We are looking into the matter and one of my senior officers is investigating the case,” said Arun Nehra, superintendent of police, Sonepat

Prodigy

Gurpal Singh’s skill caught the attention of Wrestling Federation of India and he was called up for the camp near Sonepat.

His first senior national tournament had ended in disappointment as Gurpal, a BA-I student, finished ninth at the National Wrestling Championship in Ranchi two years ago. The following year, at the 34th National Games in Ranchi, he claimed a bronze medal. Before the national games, Gurpal had won gold in the junior national championship held in Jammu.

Born in Sur Singh village in Tarn Taran district, Punjab, Gurpal was seen as a flag-bearer of the family tradition of wrestling. Gurpal was coached by his father at the village akhara when he was 16.

Father Sarwan, an IPS officer, took leave without pay for three years to train Gurpal. The hard work paid off as Gurpal made heads turn with a gold medal at his first ever sub-junior national championship at Jalandhar in 2008.

He started in 120-kg category and finally settled for the 96-kg category on the suggestion of uncle Kartar. Gurpal had also competed in few invitational tournaments in Uzbekistan and Australia.

He won the under-17 National Wrestling Championship; the Junior under-19 National Championship; and the Australia Cup in 2008. He won a bronze in the senior National Games.

 

#India- Supreme Court issues directions to curb ‘eve teasing”#VAW #mustshare #goodnews


‘Curb eve-teasing with an iron hand’: Supreme Court

LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, The Hindu, Dec 2, 2012

In a bid to curb eve-teasing, the Supreme Court has directed all States and Union Territories to depute plain-clothed women officers at public places such as bus stands, railway stations, metro stations, cinema theatres and shopping malls.

Giving a series of directions, a Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra said: “Eve-teasing today has become a pernicious, horrid and disgusting practice. More and more girls and women go to educational institutions, workplaces, etc, and their protection is of extreme importance to a civilised and cultured society. The experiences of women and girl children in overcrowded buses, metros, trains, etc, are horrendous, and a painful ordeal.”

Writing the judgment, while allowing a Tamil Nadu appeal against the acquittal of policeman S. Samuthiram who was accused of teasing a couple, Justice Radhakrishnan said: “Parliament is currently considering the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010, which is intended to protect female workers at most workplaces. Provisions of that Bill are not sufficient to curb eve teasing. Before undertaking suitable legislation to curb eve-teasing, it is necessary to take at least some urgent measures so that it can be curtailed to some extent.”

“Eve-teasing,” said the Bench, “is a euphemism, a conduct which attracts penal action but it is seen [that] only in Tamil Nadu a statute has been created to contain the same, the consequence of which may at times be drastic. Eve-teasing led to the death of a woman in 1998 in Tamil Nadu which led to the government bringing an ordinance, namely, the Tami Nadu Prohibition of Eve Teasing Ordinance, 1998, which later became an Act, namely, the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Eve-Teasing Act, 1998.”

The Bench issued the following directions: a) There will be a direction to the State governments and the Union Territories to install CCTV in strategic positions which itself would be a deterrent and if detected, the offender could be caught.

b) Persons in charge of educational institutions, places of worship, cinema theatres, railway stations and bus stands have to take steps they deem fit to prevent eve-teasing within their precincts and, on a complaint being made, they must pass on the information to the nearest police station, or the Women’s Help Centre.

c) Where either passengers or persons in charge of a public service vehicle indulge in eve-teasing, the crew shall, on a complaint made by the aggrieved person, take the vehicle to the nearest police station and give information to the police. Failure to do so should lead to cancellation of the permit to ply.

d) The State governments and Union Territories are directed to establish Women’s Helpline in various cities and towns, so as to curb eve-teasing within three months.

e) Suitable boards cautioning against eve-teasing should be exhibited in the precincts of educational institutions, bus stands, railway stations, cinema theatres, parties, beaches, public service vehicles, places of worship, etc.

f) Responsibility is also on passers-by who should report such incidents to the nearest police station or to the Women’s Helpline.

g) The State governments and the Union Territories should take effective measures by issuing suitable instructions to authorities including the District Collectors and the Superintendent of Police on effective and proper measures to curb eve-teasing.

Read full judgement here

 

Supreme Court notice to govt on PIL over Aadhar #UID


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

TNN | Dec 1, 2012, 12.40 AM IST

 

 

Supreme Court notice to govt on PIL over Aadhar
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the legal sanctity behind the much hyped Aadhaar cards being prepared by the Unique Identification Authority which will be the sole proof for the government’s scheme for direct transfer of cash to a poor person’s account.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the legal sanctity behind the much hyped Aadhaar cards being prepared by the Unique Identification Authority which will be the sole proof for the government’s scheme for direct transfer of cash to a poor person’s account.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J Chelameswar issued notice to the Centre on a PIL by a retired judge of Karnataka high court, K S Puttaswamy, who alleged that the government, by going ahead with distribution of UID numbers and cards to citizens, was bypassing Parliament which was still considering a bill on this issue.

The PIL said collection of personal data by the government not only violated the citizen’s fundamental right to privacy but was also an executive act in overreach of Parliament, where National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, was still pending for consideration.

Senior advocate Anil Divan questioned the grant of UID numbers and Aadhaar cards to illegal migrants at a time when the bill was pending before Parliament and its standing committee had rejected the bill in its report. The PIL requested the court to restrain the government from issuing UID numbers and Aadhaar cards till Parliament took a decision on the bill.

When the bench said Parliament could debate the standing committee’s report and decide not to accept it, Divan said this could happen only through a informed debate on the floor of Parliament and the government could not have pre-empted the outcome of the debate through an executive action.

The petitioners, Justice Puttaswamy and another, said they had ascertained that the Unique Identification Number Project proposed to give UID numbers not only to citizens but also illegal migrants pursuant to a scheme framed by the government through an executive order of January 28, 2009.

Referring to several judgments of the Supreme Court on right to privacy of a citizen guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution, the petitioners said, “Collecting biometric information as a condition precedent for the issue of Aadhaar card is an invasion of right to privacy of citizens and thereby this can only be done by a law enacted by Parliament and hence, beyond the executive power.”

The petitioners asked, “Can executive power be used in a manner so as to make legislative power redundant or in other words, whether by the exercise of executive power, the executive can circumvent Parliament?”

 

 

 

Hitler’s Strange Afterlife in India #sundayreading


Nov 30, 2012 , http://www.thedailybeast.com

Hated and mocked in much of the world, the Nazi leader has developed a strange following among schoolchildren and readers of Mein Kampf in India. Dilip D’Souza on how political leader Bal Thackeray influenced Indians to admire Hitler and despise Gandhi.

  • My wife teaches French to tenth-grade students at a private school here in Mumbai. During one recent class, she asked these mostly upper-middle-class kids to complete the sentence “J’admire …” with the name of the historical figure they most admired.

Hitler
Adolf Hitler speaks in 1936. (AP Photo)

To say she was disturbed by the results would be to understate her reaction. Of 25 students in the class, 9 picked Adolf Hitler, making him easily the highest vote-getter in this particular exercise; a certain Mohandas Gandhi was the choice of precisely one student. Discussing the idea of courage with other students once, my wife was startled by the contempt they had for Gandhi. “He was a coward!” they said. And as far back as 2002, the Times of India reported a survey that found that 17 percent of students in elite Indian colleges “favored Adolf Hitler as the kind of leader India ought to have.”

In a place where Gandhi becomes a coward, perhaps Hitler becomes a hero.

Still, why Hitler? “He was a fantastic orator,” said the 10th-grade kids. “He loved his country; he was a great patriot. He gave back to Germany a sense of pride they had lost after the Treaty of Versailles,” they said.

“And what about the millions he murdered?” asked my wife. “Oh, yes, that was bad,” said the kids. “But you know what, some of them were traitors.”

Admiring Hitler for his oratorical skills? Surreal enough. Add to that the easy condemnation of his millions of victims as traitors. Add to that the characterization of this man as a patriot. I mean, in a short dozen years, Hitler led Germany through a scarcely believable orgy of blood to utter shame and wholesale destruction. Even the mere thought of calling such a man a patriot profoundly corrupts—is violently antithetical to—the idea of patriotism.

But these are kids, you think, and kids say the darndest things. Except this is no easily written-off experience. The evidence is that Hitler has plenty of admirers in India, plenty of whom are by no means kids.

Consider Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography. Reviled it might be in the much of the world, but Indians buy thousands of copies of it every month. As a recent paper in the journal EPW tells us (PDF), there are over a dozen Indian publishers who have editions of the book on the market. Jaico, for example, printed its 55th edition in 2010, claiming to have sold 100,000 copies in the previous seven years. (Contrast this to the 3,000 copies my own 2009 book,Roadrunner, has sold). In a country where 10,000 copies sold makes a book a bestseller, these are significant numbers.

And the approval goes beyond just sales. Mein Kampf is available for sale on flipkart.com, India’s Amazon. As I write this, 51 customers have rated the book; 35 of those gave it a five-star rating. What’s more, there’s a steady trickle of reports that say it has become a must-read for business-school students; a management guide much like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese or Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking. If this undistinguished artist could take an entire country with him, I imagine the reasoning goes, surely his book has some lessons for future captains of industry?

Much of Hitler’s Indian afterlife is the legacy of Bal Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena party who died on Nov. 17.

Thackeray freely, openly, and often admitted his admiration for Hitler, his book, the Nazis, and their methods. In 1993, for example, he gave an interview toTime magazine. “There is nothing wrong,” he said then, “if [Indian] Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.”

It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he ‘loved’ his country.

This interview came only months after the December 1992 and January 1993 riots in Mumbai, which left about a thousand Indians slaughtered, the majority of them Muslim. Thackeray was active right through those weeks, writing editorial after editorial in his party mouthpiece, “Saamna” (“Confrontation”) about how to “treat” Muslims.

On Dec. 9, 1992, for example, his editorial contained these lines: “Pakistan need not cross the borders and attack India. 250 million Muslims in India will stage an armed insurrection. They form one of Pakistan’s seven atomic bombs.”

A month later, on Jan. 8, 1993, there was this: “Muslims of Bhendi Bazar, Null Bazar, Dongri and Pydhonie, the areas [of Mumbai] we call Mini Pakistan … must be shot on the spot.”

There was plenty more too: much of it inspired by the failed artist who became Germany’s führer. After all, only weeks before the riots erupted, Thackeray said this about the führer’s famous autobiography: “If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word Jew and put in the word Muslim, that is what I believe in.”

With rhetoric like that, it’s no wonder the streets of my city saw the slaughter of 1992-93. It’s no wonder kids come to admire a mass-murderer, to rationalize away his massacres. It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he “loved” his country.

In his acclaimed 1997 book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen writes: “Hitler, in possession of great oratorical skills, was the [Nazi] Party’s most forceful public speaker. Like Hitler, the party from its earliest days was devoted to the destruction of … democracy [and to] most especially and relentlessly, anti-Semitism. … The Nazi Party became Hitler’s Party, obsessively anti-Semitic and apocalyptic in its rhetoric about its enemies.”

Do some substitutions in those sentences along the lines Thackeray wanted to do with Mein Kampf. Indeed, what you get is a more than adequate description of … no surprise, Thackeray himself.

Yes, it’s no wonder. Thackeray too was revered as an orator. Cremated, on Nov. 18, as a patriot.

 

#India- Supreme Court asks Govt-Why not abolish mandatory death penalty?


By , TNN | Dec 2, 2012,

Why mandatory death penalty be not abolished? Supreme Court asks govt
On a PIL by a Delhi-based NGO challenging the constitutional validity of Section 31A of NDPS Act, a Bombay HC bench in 2011 had held that the provision is violative of Article 21 as it provides for a mandatory death penalty.
NEW DELHI: Days after a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court said it was time to revisit jurisprudence behind imposition of death penalty, the apex court asked the Union government why provisions in some laws mandating compulsory death penalty as punishment be not struck down as unconstitutional.

The question from a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranajana Desai put additional solicitor general Siddharth Luthra in a piquant position for he had sought to argue the Centre’s appeal against a Bombay high court judgment diluting the mandatory death penalty prescribed under section 31A of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act for repeat offenders trading in huge quantities of contraband.

Though the Union government’s appeal challenged the Bombay HC’s decision to read down Section 31A to provide the concerned Judge with the discretion of imposing life sentence, the bench decided to take suo motu of other similar provisions in some laws warranting mandatory imposition of death penalty. The read down principle limits a provision of law.

Expressing its view on statutory provisions mandating compulsory capital punishment, the bench said prima facie it appeared to be violative of Article 21 (right to life) and Article 14 (non-discrimination/equality).

On a PIL by a Delhi-based NGO Indian Harm Reduction Network challenging the constitutional validity of Section 31A of NDPS Act, a Bombay HC bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar and AP Bhangale on June 16, 2011, had held that the provision is violative of Article 21 as it provides for a mandatory death penalty.

“Instead of declaring Section 31A as unconstitutional, we accede to the alternative argument of the Union government that the said provision be construed as directory by reading down the expression ‘shall be punishable with death’ as ‘may be punishable with death’ in relation to the offences covered under Section 31A of the Act,” the HC had said.

The HC had further clarified — “Thus, the court will have discretion to impose punishment specified in Section 31A of the Act for offences covered by Section 31A of the Act. But, in appropriate cases, the court can award death penalty for the offences covered by Section 31A upon recording reasons therefore.”

The Union government challenged this reading down of the provision and in its appeal before the apex court said sentencing was, essentially, a legislative policy and that it was also the legislature’s prerogative whether to grant courts any discretion while imposing sentence under a provision of a penal statute.

It said: “the mandatory death penalty provided in Section 31A is in the nature of minimum sentence in respect of repeat offenders of specified activities and for offences involving huge quantities of specified categories of narcotic drugs.”

“Would it still be open for the court to reduce the minimum sentence provided for by the Legislature?” the Union government asked and said offences falling under NDPS Act had been held by the apex court to be of such nature which had deleterious effect and deadly impact on the society as a whole. “The Supreme Court had time and again held that narcotic crimes are more heinous than murder,” it said.

Section 31A is attracted only in cases where a person who has been convicted of either embezzlement of opium by a licensed cultivator (Section 19), unauthorized trade and external dealing in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances (Section 24), financing illicit trafficking and harbouring offenders (Section 27A) and for offences involving commercial quantity of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance.”

 

A girl who went to Karbala, in Bahraich, UP to see the procession of Muharram gangraped #Vaw


rape

TNN Nov 29, 2012, 02.27AM IST

BAHRAICH: A girl who went to Karbala to see the procession of Muharram was kidnapped and gangraped by two motorcycle-borne youths when she was on her way back. The victim’s father has registered case against two persons. The police are raiding to nab the accused.

The police told that Shabnam resident of Mahadeva Salarpur village under Risia police station went to Karbala to see the procession of Muharram along with the other children of the family. When she was on her way back, Saddam and Pahelwan reached their on the bike and dragged Shabnam to a nearby filed and raped her.

Shabnam reached home late at night and narrated the incident to her family. A case of gang rape was registered against Saddam and Pahelwan. The station officer told that the accused are absconding after the incident and the raids are being conducted to arrest them. The girl has been sent to the district hospital for medical examination.

 

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