# India-“All marginalized groups are insecure”

NEW DELHI, December 8, 2012

Mohammad Ali, The Hindu

Ahead of the International Human Rights Day on December 10, the Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR) in India and the UN have expressed concerns over the “deteriorating” human rights conditions in the country, adding that all the marginalised groups were feeling insecure. While releasing the “Human Rights in India – Status Report 2012”, WGHR convenor Miloon Kothari appealed to the Indian Government to fulfil its national and international human rights commitments in these areas.

Expressing concern at the increased militarisation, lawyer and activist Vrinda Grover highlighted that the last four years have seen a marked increase in the deployment of security forces and draconian laws by the Indian Government to deal with socio-economic uprisings and political dissent and also to push the State’s development agenda.

The Indian Government is not ready to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), one of the draconian laws widely used in conflict areas, in spite of the fact that various UN human rights bodies and government committees have repeatedly called for it,” she added.

Underlining the ‘contradiction’ in the Government’s position, Ms. Grover argued that the military approach and the on-going conflicts contradict India’s stated position in the UN that “India does not face either international or non-international armed conflict”.

‘Torture practised’

“Torture is routinely practised as a law enforcement strategy throughout India. It is even more widespread and violent in conflict areas. Enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and detentions, extrajudicial killings, sexual violence as well as the use of lethal force in dispersing largely peaceful protests remain entrenched in these areas,” she added.

Highlighting the human cost of the development, Shivani Chaudhry, associate director, Housing and Land Rights Network, argued that the prevalent economic policies and overwhelming preoccupation of the Government on increasing GDP growth rate has contributed to increased violations of economic, social and cultural rights in India, with poverty, hunger, malnutrition and inadequate housing and living conditions affecting a large percentage of the population.

“India remains home to world’s largest number of hungry masses and malnourished children, along with the highest child mortality rate in the world. Due to the so-called development projects, we have around one million people getting displaced annually without concrete measures of rehabilitation and resettlement. There are six doctors and nine hospital beds per 10,000 people, while only 15 per cent of the population has health insurance,” said Ms. Chaudhary.

When the GDP falls from eight per cent to five per cent, the Government does emergency meetings and brings about a policy overhaul but ironically there are some disturbing statistics on social indicators for which the Government does not seem to be bothered, she argued.

On the issue of the marginalised groups’ access to justice, Ms. Madhu Mehra, director, Partners for Law in Development, argued that the majority of India’s population remains marginalised with many groups facing entrenched discrimination, violence and neglect, including women, children; Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Schedules Tribes (STs); lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex (LGBTI); persons with disabilities; and religious minorities.

“Discrimination against women continues to be intrinsic to family law, justified by the State as a necessary facet of multi-culturalism. Despite homosexuality being decriminalised in 2009, no proactive steps have been taken to legally protect the LGBTI persons from discrimination in housing, employment, education and other fields of life.” Expressing grave concern at the situation, she said that the State needed to go beyond piecemeal ‘welfarism’ to a comprehensive framework of rights, to fulfil its promise of human rights to all.

Says a UN body ahead of the International Human Rights Day

#India’s Cash course- will it succeed ?

As the government gets ready to roll out its ambitious cash transfer of subsidies scheme on January 1, an on-the-ground report on how the experiments are working outVeenu Sandhu, Santosh Tiwari & Indulekha Aravind / New Delhi/ Bangalore

Dec 08, 2012, 00:10 IST , Buisness Standard

M B Chinnappa, chief manager of State Bank of Mysore, has been rushing from one meeting to another. It’s his job to ensure that by December 15, at least one member of each of the 535,000 households in Mysore district has a bank account. The account will be linked to his unique identity number, Aadhaar, and subsidies for different welfare schemes will be transferred directly to the account from January 1. For Chinnappa, the challenge is to make sure that over 200,000 accounts are opened in a little over a week in the 360 bank branches in the district. “Efforts have been launched on a war footing and I’m sure we will meet the target,” says Chinnappa, before rushing off to his next appointment at the Akashvani station where he is scheduled to give an interview on the subject which will be broadcast all over Karnataka.

Men like Chinnappa have been galvanised into action for what is being seen as the biggest governance reform of recent times: transfer of subsidies directly to the poor and needy. The spin doctors of the United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, have begun to call it a game changer — something that will help it overcome the negativity generated by recent scams before the 2014 general elections. The political overtures of the tagline leave nothing to the imagination: Aapka paisa aapke haath (Your money in your hand; the Congress’s election symbol is the hand).

Ever since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced at Dudu in Rajasthan on October 20, in the presence of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, that the scheme would soon be unveiled, his office has worked overtime to ensure that it is launched in 51 districts on January 1, 2013, and the entire country by April 1, 2014. The real force behind the initiative is none other than Rahul Gandhi.

The starting point was the observation made by his father, the late Rajiv Gandhi, that only 15 paisa out of every rupee given in subsidy reaches the poor. From the government, it is being piloted by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh. He is supported by Finance Minister P Chidambaram who had, when he was home minister, raised serious doubts about the Aadhaar drive. Singh’s principal secretary, Pulok Chaterji, a bureaucrat known to be close to the Gandhis, is coordinating between the various agencies.

Nandan Nilekani, the Infosys promoter and honcho who left the corporate world to head the Unique Identification Authority of India, or UIDAI, is overseeing the Aadhaar rollout. That’s actually the real challenge. The Aadhaar numbers currently stand at 220 million, about 18 per cent of the country’s population. And about 40 per cent of these enrollments have come from just two states: Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Nilekani’s job is to enroll another 400 million by April 2014 in 16 states (the rest of the country will be covered by the home ministry in its National Population Register), or about 25 million a month.

Recent numbers aren’t encouraging. At the most, UIDAI has done 24.7 million enrollments in a month (January this year). In the last four months, enrollments have ranged from 5.31 million to 11.6 million a month. In at least half of the 51 districts that will go live with cash transfers from January 1, the target of 80 per cent Aadhaar penetration is yet to be achieved.

To begin with, the government plans to put 29 social schemes on cash transfer mode. These include payments of wages and pensions. The first pilot was run in four districts of Jharkhand a year ago; wages under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme were put into the bank accounts of more than 3,500 beneficiaries using their Aadhaar numbers. In Aurangabad, Maharashtra, pensions under five social-security schemes are now paid on the basis of Aadhaar. Another pilot for pensions is running in Tripura. That’s the easy bit. The tough part will be fuel, food and fertiliser subsidies. The first of these will be fuel subsidy: kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG.

* * *

Kotkasim, a block of 24 villages in Alwar district of Rajasthan, some 180 km south of Delhi, is where the pilot on kerosene is being carried out. Since last December, ration shops here no longer sell kerosene at the subsidised price of Rs 15 a litre; it’s sold at Rs 50 a litre (the price was recently raised from Rs 45 a litre). The difference is put into the bank accounts of the people by the government. There are 25,000 ration-cards in Kotkasim. Those with two LPG cylinders were told that they are not entitled to subsidised kerosene. Finally, 20,000 eligible beneficiaries were identified. Those with a gas connection could buy two litres of kerosene, and those without could buy three litres. As many as 14,000 new bank accounts were opened. The subsidy for the next three months, which ranged from Rs 175 to Rs 263, was deposited in each account. Subsequent subsidy would be deposited into the accounts of only those ration-card holders who buy the kerosene from the ration shops.

Kerosene, admit both the shopkeepers and ration-card holders, was being sold in bulk to anybody who came armed with ration cards. At Rs 15 a litre, it was much cheaper than diesel (around Rs 42 a litre) and was used to run generators, water pumps and, as one dealer claims, even tractors after mixing it with diesel. Not every family in this rather well-to-do area needed three litres of kerosene a month and would willingly lend their ration cards to proxy buyers, for a cut of course. The difference between the market price and the subsidised one was a huge incentive for shopkeepers to divert supplies. Most succumbed to the temptation.

The year-old pilot project has, however, put an end to this. “Kerosene sale in the area, which was about 84,000 litres a month a year ago, has plunged by nearly 70 per cent,” says Alwar District Collector Ashutosh A T Pednekar with evident satisfaction. This, he claims, has happened because leakages have stopped and the black market has disappeared. Shopkeepers and buyers, on their part, say many poor people can’t afford to buy kerosene any longer. Maybe they’ve found some other use for the money, though liquor shops and sweetmeat sellers haven’t seen any noteworthy rise in demand. People also blame the administration, saying it doesn’t deposit the money on time in their accounts.

There are other problems too. Dharamvir Singh Chaudhary has been running a ration shop in Kotkasim for 13 years. Till last year, he would get 1,800 litre of kerosene a month and every drop of it would get sold. His commission was 90 paisa a litre. Now, he has to buy kerosene at Rs 50 but the commission remains the same, 90 paisa. This has seriously cut his return on investment. “Initially, the district supply officer gave each dealer a cheque of Rs 3,000 to compensate for this sudden burden, but we’ve got nothing since then. On top of that, I’m straddled with this,” he says pointing to the 220-litre drum of kerosene lying in the courtyard in front of his shop. “The government is forcing us to buy it and stock it.”

Last month, after much resistance, Chaudhary bought two drums (440 litre) for Rs 22,000 from the supply van. “The inspector said if I don’t stock it, my licence as dealer would be cancelled,” he says, calling it blackmail. He then decided to pass on this “burden” to the people who came to buy ration from his shop. “We [the shopkeepers] told them that if they wanted to buy wheat from our shops, they would have to first buy kerosene,” he admits, adding that he managed to “get rid of” one drum between 90 ration-card holders. Nirmala Devi, another shopkeeper, wants her commission to be raised from 90 paisa a litre to Rs 5-6.

Beneficiaries make numerous visits to the designated banks (State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank and Rajasthan Gramin Bank) to find out if the subsidy has come into their accounts. But there are others, daily-wage earners, who cannot afford to make even one trip. The villages in Kotkasim are spread out; some are 17 km away from the bank. One trip to the bank would mean a day’s work gone, a day’s wages (Rs 150-300) lost.

Sensing a business opportunity, a team from Vodafone has been visiting Kotkasim to study the feasibility for mobile-banking solutions. Teams from Kerala and Chhattisgarh too have descended on Kotkasim to study its cash transfer model. The verdict: the administration is satisfied, shopkeepers are hassled and consumers confused.

* * *

Several hundred miles to the south, in Mysore, another pilot was launched in January this year for the targeted delivery of LPG cylinders using Aadhaar: gas connections will be linked to the Aadhaar number. In the next phase, consumers will be given the subsidy directly in their banks. The district was chosen for its high Aadhaar enrollment rate — till last month, 94.8 per cent of the total population of 2.99 million had enrolled. Three gas agencies have been chosen for the experiment, one each of state-owned IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.

At his swank IndianOil agency in Vani Vilas Market, Vinod Maroli says he has delivered close to 18,000 cylinders so far in this manner. (The agency has over 25,000 customers.) The new delivery mechanism has helped check diversion to the black market, says Maroli. Due to the streamlining of the process, the number of days a customer has to wait for a new cylinder has gone down from seven to two. Tellingly, the number of cylinders the agency delivers has also reduced, though Maroli cannot say by how much. “But the fact that there has been a 40 per cent dip in product movement across the country should give you an idea of the scale,” he says.

An IndianOil executive, requesting anonymity, says the results have been encouraging. “We have established that the first phase [the delivery of cylinders via Aadhaar biometric identification] works, so now we have to test the next stage,” he says. All three agencies have delivered around 40,000 cylinders that were Aadhaar-verified since the scheme was launched in January, he says, and subsidy transfers have already taken place in small groups. At the moment, all agencies in the district have been asked to focus on ensuring their customers have Aadhaar-linked bank accounts, he adds. From January, the project will go live. The first phase seems to have gone off without glitches. The next phase is the acid test.

However confident State Bank of Mysore’s Chinnappa may be, it will be no mean task to ensure that over 200,000 people open bank accounts in the space of a week. Many feel that the deadline could well be postponed. At the food and civil supplies department, the overseeing authority for LPG cylinders, officials are unclear about the next phase of the Aadhaar pilot, saying they are yet to receive any kind of official notification of the January 1 rollout. “Whatever we know is from what we read in the newspapers,” says one of them.



#India -Holding democracy to a whip #FDI

Garga Chatterjee | Agency: DNA | Sunday, December 9, 2012


In the FDI debate that happened in the Lok Sabha, a particularly painful moment saw ‘Netaji’ Mulayam Singh Yadav take the name of Ram Manohar Lohia. He talked about Lohia and Gandhi. Even as he made tired statements to the effect that he opposed FDI in multi-brand retail in principle, it was getting amply clear to everyone that he and his party would walk out when the moment of truth came in the form of voting. Paralysis and hypocrisy are two conditions where one’s action is not in line with publicly-expressed wish. At any rate, they are not among the desirable characteristics of ‘people’s representatives.’ Some old Samajwadis in his contingent might have wanted to defect and vote their conscience to avoid the ignominy of being associated with either of the two conditions. But that would effectively end the parliamentary career of such people. So they followed their ‘Netaji’ out of the house. Avoidance of trouble is preferable to happiness. The Anti-Defection law drawn up by party bosses have ensured that no Samajwadi Party member of parliament or for that matter, any member of parliament of any party cannot vote in accordance with what he/she deems right. One has to slavishly follow the party diktat or lose the their membership of the parliament, unless at least a third of the MPs of a party find their spine.

It may not be a totally idle exercise to think how the FDI vote would have turned out if the anti-defections law was not in place, given the murmurs of discontent that exist even within the Indira Congress. The anti-defection law is supposedly a counter against horse-trading. In the period from 1985 to 2009, only 19 members of parliament have been disqualified for violating the party whip. The party leaderships don’t have faith on people winning on their ticket, partly because they know on what flimsy self-serving ground such an assemblage of champions is created in the first place. The leaderships also know that enticements of greater value may sway legislators — irrespective of the publicly stated reason of coming together as party – Gandhian socialism, Indian nationalism, Hindutva, OBC rights or whatever. At a deeper level, these are signs of crisis in the very nature of the political class — namely, the absence of inner party democracy and ideology based politics. That crisis has only deepened. Hence the need of the anti-defection law to make parliamentarians falls in line with high command dictates. This form of quasi-Stalinist centralism somehow has a long afterlife in those nations (India, Bangladesh, Kenya) where freedom of expression is also under constant threat from the government of the day. I have a feeling that it is not accidental. UK, France, Canada, Germany and USA have no such anti-defection law for their legislators.

It is important to understand what a member of parliament represents. One is not simply a ‘proxy’ for the people but a representative of the changing wishes of the people of one’s constituency. That is to say, things change and so do people’s wishes, above and beyond the programme of the party on whose ticket one was elected. Party programme cannot be the sole guide if parliamentary democracy is to be a living entity. In a first past the post system, many MPs do not win by majority but by plurality. Parties command all the representative abilities of a MP by issuing whips. This is when democracy takes a beating at the hand of partycracy.

Parties are important tools of organising opinion and force multiplication, especially across larger geographical spaces. Do people vote for a party or a candidate or both? The answer is variable. Candidates use parties and parties in turn use candidates. The Mohammedan MPs of the BJP are a fine example of this symbiotic relationship. In some cases, parties change candidates and win. In other cases, some people win, irrespective of their party affiliation at the time. Clearly parties are not the last word in a democracy. The individual representatives matter too.

In the presence ofparty-whips, voting records of individual MPs are a monotonous copy of party stances, or worse still a continuous testimony to the nature of cynical machinations that the party-head has executed. The anti-defection laws were purportedly drawn up to avoid Matsyanyay — the condition where the big fish eat the small fish. It has resulted in a system where even the minimally conscientious fish is too scared to make its opinion known by voting one’s own opinion. The anti-defection law does not penalise anyone, even the leadership, when it deviates from stated party programme. With the rise and rise of parties that have dynastic or persona-based leaderships, a different Matsyanyay is at play. Only the top fish needs to be ‘managed.’ The top issues the whip and the rest of the shoal falls in line. This surely cannot be a good sign for an aspiring democracy representing such variegated shades as the subcontinent. The anti-defection law only solidifies the false majorities of parties in a first past the post system.

Garga Chatterjee is a postdoctoral scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Chhattisgarh government paid TV channels for favourable news coverage, claims paper #paidnews

SUVOJIT BAGCHI. The Hindu, Dec 7, Raipur

Absolutely nothing wrong in funding the channels in a transparent way, says official

Raman Singh’s BJP government “has paid for favourable news stories” and “regular live coverage” to a host of national and local television channels, an English language newspaper reported.

Furthermore, the senior editors of the channels concerned allegedly wrote to the public relations (PR) department of the Chhattisgarh government “negotiating” rates to produce “news stories” and to ensure “positive coverage.”

The news story ‘Chhattisgarh government pays for all TV news that is fit to buy,’ published by theIndian Express on Friday, claimed the paper had in its possession nearly 200 documents exchanged between the PR department and the editors. While not challenging the veracity of the story, the Chhattisgarh government has brought counter allegations against the Indian Express, claiming that the newspaper has “taken more than 50 lakh” in the last two years as advertisements.

The channels named by the newspaper are Z24, a franchisee of Zee News, Sahara Samay, ETV Chhattisgarh, Sadhna News and other “smaller, local networks.”

The newspaper has published details of money allegedly received for government-friendly coverage ranging from welfare programmes, planting of trees in Naya Raipur, distribution of rice at subsidised rates to the poor, the Queen’s Baton relay in Commonwealth Games, the budget presentation, Independence Day speech by the leaders and even the generation of public reaction to welfare schemes — “five persons in each district with 30 seconds for every reaction,” the report says.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s visit and anti-Naxal reports are also funded by the PR department, claimed the report.

The report listed what it called the rate for each of the paid news items. In May 2010, Hindi television channel Sahara Samay had presented a five-point proposal to the PR department. It included special television packages on Sahara Samay, 15 times a day, featuring “CM’s speeches, government policies and various departmental news” and the rate was reportedly fixed at Rs. 3.28 crore per year at Rs. 3,000 per minute. It also had proposals like covering the Chief Minister’s programmes using outdoor broadcast vans “live for 10 minutes” at Rs. 48 lakh per year. There were other offers like running side strips on screen, tickers, and side panels for which the PR department had to pay substantially.

The story provided ‘evidence’ of how other channels — Z24, ETV Chhattsigarh and Sadhna News — collected money for broadcasting the government’s welfare schemes.

“In May 2011, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, visited Bastar to inaugurate achana distribution programme. Z24, Sahara Samay, ETV Chhattisgarh, and Sadhna News telecast the programme live and produced ‘special stories’… Cost of the same was Rs. 14.26 lakh,” the report said.

On Friday, the State government’s PR department challenged the allegations but did not deny funding the television channels. Principal Secretary, PR, N. Baijendra Kumar told The Hindu that there was “absolutely nothing wrong in funding the channels in a transparent way.”

“We purchase airtime to showcase success stories, informative and promotional programmes through advertisements, advertorials, features and sponsored programmes in public interest,” said Mr. Kumar.

He refused to accept the clear difference between advertorials and news and repeatedly said that the PR department had not funded any “news.”

“Nobody highlighted the government’s welfare schemes, including The Hindu, but still we give advertisements. What is wrong if we do that for the television?” asked Mr. Kumar. Representatives of other media houses, sitting in the room, explained to the correspondent that the government “funds talk shows, which even feature the opposition party.”

“Mr. Varavara Rao, the Naxal sympathiser, appeared in my talk show,” said Mr. Kumar.

A handwritten note issued by the PR department claimed that in the last two years, an amount exceeding Rs. 54,43,000 had been released to the Indian Express for advertisements. However, theIndian Express letters to the PR department did not establish that the paper was selling news space to the government. Rather, it was evident that the marketing department, and not the editors, were selling the ad-space.

‘Out of frustration’

Later at night, the PR department issued a press note claiming that the Indian Express “has published said article out of frustration” as the government had “rejected” the paper’s proposal seeking more advertisements.

Mr. Kumar said the government had no plans to “review existing media funding policy.”

A reality: activists

Local activists said paid news was a reality in Chhattisgarh and the media refused to carry important stories for fear of government action.

“During the President’s visit, 45 activists from Bastar were detained in Raipur and nothing came out. I presume it is all because of paid news,” said B.K. Manish, a tribal activist from Raipur.


Tied to census,# Aadhaar enrolment stands still in UP #UID



200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SURBHI KHYATI : Lucknow, Sat Dec 08 2012,  IE  03:36 hrs
The Government of India wants to introduce Aadhaar-linked cash transfers, but the process of UID enrolment has been suspended in Uttar Pradesh for almost a year.
The last enrolment of UID that happened in the state was in January-February, during the first phase of the Aadhaar scheme. No one is sure when the process will resume.
The Government of India had decided that, in the second phase of the scheme in Uttar Pradesh, the collection of biometric data for Aadhar numbers will be done by the Directorate of Census rather than the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). The work of UID will begin along with the last phase of data collection of the National Population Register (NPR) done by the census directorate.
“Because we had to collect biometric data for NPR and the same data was needed for UID, the Government of India decided that the data collection for UID will also be done by Directorate of Census,” said Neena Sharma, Director, Census Operations, Uttar Pradesh. However, the process could start only when the Census directorate completed digitising the NPR data collected in the first phase, said Sharma.
“The digitisation is now complete and we are ready to flag off the next phase of NPR very soon,” she said, refusing to give a date for kick-starting the programme. She said the date will be decided by the Government of Uttar Pradesh.
In the first phase, the UIDAI had enrolled around 1 crore UID numbers across 59 districts of Uttar Pradesh, said C S Mishra, Assistant Director General, UIDAI, Uttar Pradesh. “The last Aadhaar enrolment was done in the state in January-February 2012. After that, for about four to five months, the UIDAI took a break to sort out the challenges and software issues based on the experience of phase one. The second phase began in August in 18 states, where the UIDAI was supposed to make the cards. In Uttar Pradesh, however, the data is to be collected by the census directorate,” said Mishra.
Unlike the UIDAI, the biometric data will now be collected by three central public sector units (CPSU), namely Bharat Electronics, Electronic Corporation of India and Indian Telephone Industries. These agencies will provide technical assistance to the teams of the respective district collectors who, like the earlier rounds of census, will look after the entire programme in each district, said Sharma.
“The modus operandi for NPR data collection will be the same as that of the census data,” she said. The biometric data will be captured in the camps held for the purpose in each district. “A micro plan for each district will be prepared and people will be told in advance about the day and venue where biometric data will be collected,” said Sharma.
She said there will be three categories of Aadhaar-related data collected by the CPSUs. Even those people who have already got their Aadhaar number will have to come to the camps and the agencies will only take their Aadhaar number. The second category will consist of people who have applied for the UID but have not got it and the third is for those who have not applied for the UID. The biometrics for both these categories will be captured by the CPSUs in the camp.
Once the exercise is completed, the data will again be sent to the UIDAI for de-duplication and generation of the UID numbers, she said. “The entire procedure is expected to take another year,” she added. A total of 20 crore UID are expected to be generated in Uttar Pradesh.



Pregnant dalit woman gang-raped #Vaw #torture #wtfnews


TNN Dec 8, 2012, IST

BHOPAL: A pregnant dalit woman was gang-raped by three persons in the old city area. The incident took place on December 4, but a case in this regard was registered late on Thursday.

The 22-year-old victim was returning to her in-laws place when three persons took her to a deserted area near a water tank in Ibrahimganj and raped.

Initially, the victim could not muster the courage to reveal it to anyone but when her mother-in-law pressurized, she narrated the incident after which a case was registered with the police.

The accused in the case have been identified as Majnu Gupta, Rohit and Phaddu Chouhan.

Officials said victim’s mother resides in Karond. She along with her mother was going back to her in-laws place when Majnu, who resides in the same locality, told her mother that he would drop the victim to her in-laws place in Ibrahumganj.

He took the woman in an ape auto with him and two more persons joined the accused after some distance. The trio took the woman near an overhead water tank and outraged her modesty.

The police said Majnu and Rohit took turns to rape the woman while Phaddu was holding her hands so that she could not resist.

Victim later went back home and remained quiet for two days. However, when her mother-in-law pressurized her, she revealed the incident.

The police confirmed that victim has a kid and is expecting again. Since she is a dalit, the case is being transferred to the AJK police wing, the police added.

Senior officials claimed that one of the accused was known to the victim and she had once given an application to police that he tried to exploit her in the past.

‘Substantially’ funded NGOs to make info public under RTI Act

Ashwani Sharma : Shimla, IE, Sat Dec 08 2012,
In a landmark judgement having wider implications on government-funded NGOs and organisations run on public contributions, the State Information Commission (SIC) on Friday ruled that all “substantially” financed NGOs (receiving over Rs 1 crore from state or government grants) are public authority under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and must make their annual ‘income and expenditures’ public.
In the Commission’s order, passed by a two-member bench of Chief Information Commissioner Bhim Sen and Information Commissioner K D Batish, Himachal Pradesh Voluntary Health Association (HPVHA) was declared a public authority under RTI and directed to appoint its public information officer (PIO) within 10 days.
“As per the provisions of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Act 1971, HPVHA is a public authority under the RTI Act as it is being substantially financed by the government and is eligible for audit by the CAG. The association is directed to designate an official as the PIO within 10 days from the receipt of the order”, said the order.
The order was passed in a complaint by one Deepak Sharma, who was denied information by HPVHA as it asserted it was not covered under the RTI Act. The Commission analysed the funding details of the the organization, which was over Rs 1.22 crore during 2008-2009. It claimed that the organisation had been getting substantial aid from the state government and thus cannot be granted exemptions from RTI.
In its order, the commission also stated that in cases where the state gives not so substantial grants (Rs 25 lakh or less) to NGOs, the state or a government agency will be appointed as public authority, which will be required to provide information.
It also added that NGOs that have been raising funds from public contributions should voluntarily place maximum information regarding its activities on the web, which should include its Constitution, bylaws, rules and regulations, its annual income and expenditure and nature of works undertaken or completed.
“If an NGO is not substantially financed by the government and also raises funds by collections from public contribution and it performs functions of a public nature that are ordinarily performed by the government or its agency, it is desirable that the NGO voluntarily place maximum information regarding its activities on its website,” the order said.
The HPHVA has to provide the details within a month.


Immediate Release- POSCO and its sponsored goons threatening villagers

Dear Friends,


We had to confront with yet another pre-planned strategy of POSCO and its sponsored goons who were determined to threaten and humiliate our innocent villagers and almost forced us to give up our struggle against the forceful land acquisition by POSCO. On 5th December 2012, few POSCO sponsored goons and villagers started to ring the bell to convene a village meeting in order to force us to extend our cooperation to start the land acquisition process. When our villagers opposed this undemocratic and uncalled for move, the sponsored goons started beating our people. Not surprisingly, the police have filed 12 more fabricated false cases against our people.


Out of desperation POSCO is following a divide and rule strategy in  Gobindpur village. The Posco officials are trying to allure and divide our people by bribing the goons for acquiring the forest land adjacent to Gobindpur. However, our people are strongly determined to fight back and would not make it success at all.


As you know, in the course of our peaceful and democratic non-violent struggle to prevent our lands from being forcibly acquired by POSCO, our people have been brutally attacked by paid goons of the company and subjected to grueling economic blockades by the local administration. Several of our leaders have been put behind bars. False charges have been foisted on over 200 activists, both men and women.


On November 29, 2012, more than 3000 people had observed anti-violence day at Dhinkia village. You may remember that on November 29th of 2007, the state government has unleashed series of brutal repression against our people. Again the police has made repression on our people on May 15th 2010. We are attaching herewith the link of a videohttp://www.videorepublic.tv/2011/12/25/the-big-fat-brutal-lie/ where the state police is burning the huts, beating and firing at the villagers.


On 30th November 2012, the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare attended a farmer’s rally at Jagatsinghpur and condemned the state government’s attempts to hand over 4,000 acre of land to the South Korean steel major POSCO. He said that “Instead of a policy to ensure the rights of farmers and make use of our natural resources, the government is busy appeasing and promoting foreign companies,”. He also said that “problems faced by farmers cannot be solved by bringing foreign currency into India. Laws need to be changed for their betterment”.


In a desperate damage controlling mode, POSCO started to distribute the POSCO TJ Park Foundation Scholarship to 10 students of BPUT (Biju Patnaik University of Technology) and KIIT (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) University on 27th November 2012. Besides, POSCO distribute fellowships at Delhi University, OUAT, Bhubaneswar and the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi every year. Needless to say that this is an initiative to develop it’s goodwill among the intelligentsia and get sympathy from these institutions.


At this juncture, we strongly urge the students and faculties of the above esteemed institutions to discard this award. We also earnestly request these institutions to compel POSCO to respect the unanimous resolution on Dhinkia gram sabha ( Panchayat level assembly of adult members) i.e. on 18th of October 2012 , where more than 2000 people participated in the meeting and  refused to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO under the rights provided to the Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.


Kindly circulate this mail widely.


In Solidarity,


Prashant Paikary


Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti


Mobile no-09437571547


E-Mail – prashantpaikary@gmail.com


‘ Mahatma Gandhi would have embraced #twitter

By Express News Service – BANGALORE

09th December 2012

Mahatma Gandhi would have embraced Twitter with open arms because of the medium’s brevity in communication, columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni said at a session on ‘Literature in Twitter Era’ at the Bangalore Literature Festival  (BLF) at Jayamahal Palace on Saturday.

Kulkarni, who has written a biography on Gandhi, likened the Twitter form of communication to Gandhi’s life and message.

“The beauty of it (Twitter) is its brevity of communication. Gandhi, too, was known for brevity in his thoughts, which were few in words but equally powerful. That is how the young generation must use Twitter,” Kulkarni said.

Joining him in the session, brand domain expert Harish Bijoor said there will be no contradiction between literature and technology.

According to him, ‘Twitterature’ is a new genre of literature that needs to be encouraged. “Twitterature is literature in 140 characters. There are some tweets that make us introspect and think when it was that we did something the last time,” he said as he read out a few tweets from @averyshortstory.

Bijoor said there are 146 million Indians who spend 8 minutes on the Internet everyday and this number would double by 2014.

“We know that you cannot write a love letter in 140 characters and it needs literature. But getting  prescriptive is not the right thing to do,” he said.


Protesters plan sea siege at Kudankulam on December 10, Human Rights Day


  • In this October 8, 2012 photo, fishermen shout slogans as they protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. Activists have planned a similar protest on December 10, 2012.
    APIn this October 8, 2012 photo, fishermen shout slogans as they protest against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. Activists have planned a similar protest on December 10, 2012.
  • A file photo of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy leader M. Pushparayan.
    The HinduA file photo of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy leader M. Pushparayan.

With the commissioning of the much-delayed Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project expected by this month-end, anti-nuclear activists are planning to lay siege to the facility on December 10 to press for scrapping the project.

“We will lay a siege to the Kudankulam nuclear plant on December 10, Human Rights Day. Our support organisations and some political parties are going to block the roads on that day. We will lay a siege from the seaside,” M. Pushparayan, a leader of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy, spearheading the over year-long stir against KNPP, told PTI over phone.

The activists had on October 8 laid a similar siege to the site, pressing their demands.

“Our demands remain the same. Scrap the plant, release those who were arrested and stop the police control on our activists,” he said, adding fishermen and supporters from 10 fishing hamlets would take part in the siege.

Preparatory work is in full swing at Kudankulam, as the commissioning of the plant is expected during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin this month-end.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has already granted the plant its permission for the ‘second heat up’ — a process which will put to performance tests various systems of the nuclear reactor.

“We are busy with the preparatory works at the plant. But every step has to be reviewed by AERB. But it is possible to start the operation by the end of this month,” official sources had said.

According to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India, units 1 and 2 of the project were initially scheduled to start commercial operation in December 2007 and December 2008 respectively. But, as of October this year, units 1 and 2 have completed 99.63 per cent and 92.66 per cent of physical progress.

Commissioning of the first unit of the Indo-Russian project was originally scheduled for December last year but has been delayed due to protests.

The anti-nuclear activists on Saturday held a meeting at Idinthakarai, the epicentre of the protests for over a year, to plan the siege.

“Both the Centre and state governments are continuously violating the human rights of people from this area. The continuous promulgation of Sec 144 here is against the wishes of the fishermen and locals of this area,” S.P. Udayakumar, PMANE convenor, told reporters at Idinthakarai.

The siege was to highlight the “violations” of rights by the Central and State governments, he said.

Struggle committee members, village committee members and locals participated in the meeting.


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