Does your bomb-proof basement have an attached toilet?


Arundhati Royin Outlook

Magazine | Feb 25, 2013
AFP (From Outlook 25 February 2013)
opinion
Does Your Bomb-Proof Basement Have An Attached Toilet?
An execution carried out to thundering war clouds
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What are the political consequences of the secret and sudden hanging of Mohammed Afzal Guru, prime accused in the 2001 Parliament attack, going to be? Does anybody know? The memo, in callous bureaucratese, with every name insultingly misspelt, sent by the Superintendent of Central Jail No. 3, Tihar, New Delhi, to “Mrs Tabassum w/o Sh Afjal Guru” reads:

“The mercy petition of Sh Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been rejected by Hon’ble President of India. Hence the execution of Mohd Afjal Guru s/o Habibillah has been fixed for 09/02/2013 at 8 am in Central Jail No-3.

This is for your information and for further necessary action.”

The mailing of the memo was deliberately timed to get to Tabassum only after the execution, denying her one last legal chanc­e—the right to challenge the rejection of the mercy petition. Both Afzal and his family, separately, had that right. Both were thwarted. Even though it is mandat­ory in law, the memo to Tabassum ascribed no reason for the president’s rejection of the mercy petition. If no reason is given, on what basis do you appeal? All the other prisoners on death row in India have been given that last chance.

Since Tabassum was not allowed to meet her husband before he was hanged, since her son was not allowed to get a few last words of advice from his father, since she was not given his body to bury, and since there can be no funeral, what “further necessary action” does the jail manual prescribe? Anger? Wild, irreparable grief? Unquestioning acc­eptance? Complete integration?

After the hanging, there have been unseemly celebrations. The bereaved wives of the people who were killed in the attack on Parliament were displayed on TV, with M.S. Bitta, chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, and his ferocious moustaches playing the CEO of their sad little company. Will anybody tell them that the men who shot their husbands were killed at the same time, in the same place? And that those who planned the attack will never be brought to justice because we still don’t know who they are.

India has displayed a touching belief in the testimony of a former chief of the ISI, of which the mandate has been to destabilise India.

Meanwhile, Kashmir is under curfew, once again. Its people have been locked down like cattle in a pen, once again. They have defied curfew, once again. Three people have already been killed in three days and fifteen more grievou­sly injured. Newspapers have been shut down, but anybody who trawls the internet will see that this time the rage of young Kashmiris is not defiant and exuberant like it was during the mass uprisings in the summers of 2008, 2009 and 2010­—even though 180 people lost their lives on those occasions. This time the anger is cold and corrosive. Unforgiving. Is there any reason why it shouldn’t be?For more than 20 years, Kashmiris have endured a military occupation. The tens of thousands who lost their lives were killed in prisons, in torture centres, and in ‘encounters’, genuine as well as fake. What sets the execution of Afzal Guru apart is that it has given the young, who have never had any first-hand experience of democracy, a ringside seat to watch the full majesty of Indian democracy at work. They have watched the wheels turning, they have seen all its hoary institutions, the government, police, courts, political parties and yes, the media, collude to hang a man, a Kashmiri, who they do not believe received a fair trial. With good reason.

He went virtually unrepresented in the lower court during the most crucial part of the trial. The court-appointed lawyer never visited him in prison, and actually admitted incriminating evidence against his own client.  (The Supreme Court deliberated on that matter and decided it was okay.) In short, his guilt was by no means established beyond reasonable doubt. They have watched the government pull him out of the death row queue and execute him out of turn. What direction, what form will their new cold, corrosive anger take? Will it lead them to the blessed liberation they so yearn for and have sacrificed a whole generation for, or will it lead to yet another cycle of cataclysmic violence, of being beaten down, and then having ‘normalcy’ imposed on them under soldiers’ boots?


Afzal Guru family weren’t given the President’s reasons for rejecting his mercy plea. (Photograph by Getty Images, From Outlook 25 February 2013)

All of us who live in the region know that 2014 is going to be a watershed year. There will be elections in Pakistan, in India and in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We know that when the US withdraws its troops from Afghanistan, the chaos from an already seriously destabilised Pakistan will spill into Kashmir, as it has done before. By executing Afzal Guru in the way that it did, the government of India has taken a decision to fuel that process of destabilisation, to actually invite it in. (As it did before, by rigging the 1987 elections in Kashmir.) After three consecutive years of mass protests in the Valley ended in 2010, the government invested a great deal in restoring its version of ‘norma­lcy’ (happy tourists, voting Kashmiris). The question is, why was it willing to reverse all its own efforts? Leaving aside issues of the legality, the morality and the venality of executing Afzal Guru in the way that it did, and looking at it just politically, tactically, it is a dangerous and irresponsible thing to have done. But it was done. Clearly, and knowingly. Why?

I used the word ‘irresponsible’ advisedly. Look what happened the last time around.

Kashmiri youth have seen Indian democracy at work now, and believe its institutions have sent a man to the gallows without a fair trial.

In 2001, within a week of the Parliament attack (and a few days after Afzal Guru’s arrest), the government recalled its ambassador from Pakistan and dispatched half a million troops to the border. On what basis was that done? The only thing the public was told is that while Afzal Guru was in the custody of the Delhi Police Special Cell, he had admitted to being a member of the Pakistan-based militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). The Supreme Court set aside that ‘confession’ extracted in police custody as inadmissible in law. Does what is inadmissible in law become admissible in war?In its final judgement on the case, apart from the now famous statements about “satisfying collective conscience” and having no direct evidence, the Supreme Court also said there was “no evidence that Mohammed Afzal belonged to any terrorist group or organisation”. So what justified that military aggression, that loss of soldiers’ lives, that massive haemorrhaging of public money and the real risk of nuclear war? (Remember foreign embassies issued travel advisories and evacuated their staff?) Was there some intelligence that preceded the Parliament attack and the arrest of Afzal Guru that we had not been told about? If so, how could the attack be allowed to happen? And if the intelligence was accurate, and infallible enough to justify such dangerous military posturing, don’t people in India, Pakistan and Kashmir have the right to know what it was? Why was that evidence not produced in court to establish Afzal Guru’s guilt?

In the endless debates around the Parliament attack case, on this, perhaps the most crucial issue of all, there has been dead silence from all quarters—leftists, rightists, Hindutva-ists, secularists, nationalists, seditionists, cynics, critics. Why?

Maybe the JeM did mastermind the attack. Praveen Swami, perhaps the Indian media’s best known expert on ‘terrorism’, who seems to have enviable sources in the Indian police and intelligence agencies, has recently cited the 2003 testimony of former ISI chief Lt Gen Javed Ashraf Qazi, and the 2004 book by Muhammad Amir Rana, a Pakistani scholar, holding the JeM responsible for the Parliament attack. (It’s touching, this belief in the veracity of the testimony of the chief of an organisation whose mandate it is to destabilise India.) It still doesn’t explain what evidence there was in 2001, when the army mobilisation took place.

For the sake of argument, let’s accept that the JeM carried out the attack. Maybe the ISI was involved too. We needn’t pretend that the government of Pakistan is innocent of carrying out covert activity over Kashmir. (Just as the government of India does in Balochistan and parts of Pakistan. Remember the Indian army trained the Mukti Bahini in East Pakistan in the 1970s, and six different Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups, including the LTTE, in the 1980s.)

A few days back, Pakistan test-fired a nuclear missile of short range, for use on the battlefield. And Kashmir police published N-survival tips.

It’s a filthy scenario all around. What would a war with Pakistan have achieved then, and what will it achieve now? (Apart from a massive loss of life. And fattening the bank accounts of some arms dealers.) Indian hawks routinely suggest the only way to “root out the problem” is “hot pursuit” and the “taking out” of “terrorist camps” in Pakistan. Really? It would be interesting to research how many of the aggressive strategic experts and defence analysts on our TV screens have an interest in the defence and weapons industry. They don’t even need war. They just need a war-like climate in which military spending remains on an upward graph. This idea of hot pursuit is even stupider and more pathetic than it sounds. What would they bomb? A few individuals? Their barracks and food supplies? Or their ideology? Look how the US government’s “hot pursuit” has ended in Afghanistan. And look how a “security grid” of half-a-million soldiers has not been able to subdue the unarmed, civilian population of Kashmir. And India is going to cross international borders to bomb a country—with nuclear arms—that is rapidly devolving into chaos? India’s professional war-mongers derive a great deal of satisfaction by sneering at what they see as the disintegration of Pakistan. Anyone with a rudimentary, working knowledge of history and geography would know that the breakdown of Pakistan (into a gangland of crazed, nihilistic, religious zealots) is absolutely no reason for anyone to rejoice.The US presence in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Pakistan’s official role as America’s junior partner in the war on terror, makes that region a much-reported place. The rest of the world is at least aware of the dangers unfolding there. Less understood, and harder to read, is the perilous wind that’s picking up speed in the world’s favourite new superpower. The Indian economy is in considerable trouble. The aggressive, acquisitive ambition that economic liberalisation unleashed in the newly created middle class is quickly turning into an equally aggressive frustration. The aircraft they were sitting in has begun to stall just after takeoff. Exhilaration is turning to panic.

The general election is due in 2014. Even without an exit poll I can tell you what the results will be. Though it may not be obvious to the naked eye, once again we will have a Congress-BJP coalition. (Two parties, each with a mass murder of thousands of people belonging to minority communities under their belts.) The CPI(M) will give support from outside, even though it hasn’t been asked to. Oh, and it will be a strong state. (On the hanging front, the gloves are already off. Could the next in line be Balwant Singh Rajoana, on death row for the assassination of Punjab’s chief minister Beant Singh? His execution could revive Khalistani sentiment in Punjab and put the Akali Dal on the mat. Perfect old-style Congress politics.)

But that old-style politics is in some difficulty. In the last few turbulent months, it is not just the image of major political parties, but politics itself, the idea of politics as we know it, that has taken a battering. Again and again, whether it’s corruption, rising prices, or rape and the rising violence against women, the new middle class is at the barricades. They can be water-cannoned or lathicharged, but can’t be shot or impriso­ned in their thousands, in the way the poor can, the way Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Kashmiris, Nagas and Manipuris can—and have been. The old political parties know that if there is not to be a complete meltdown, this aggression has to be headed off, redirected. They know that they must work together to bring politics back to what it used to be. What better way than a communal conflagration? (How else can the secular play at being secular and the communal be communal?) Maybe even a little war, so that we can play Hawks & Doves all over again.

What better solution than to aim a kick at that tried and trusted old political football—Kashmir? The hanging of Afzal Guru, its brazenness and its timing, is deliberate. It has brought politics and anger back onto Kashmir’s streets.

The idea of ‘hot pursuit’ is stupid, pathetic. What would we bomb? Some individuals? Their barracks? Or their ideology?

India hopes to manage it with the usual combination of brute force and poisonous, Machiavellian manipulation, des­igned to pit people against one another. The war in Kashmir is presented to the world as a battle between an inclusive, secular democracy and radical Islamists. What then should we make of the fact that Mufti Bashiruddin, the so-called Grand Mufti of Kashmir (a completely phantom post)—who has made most abominable hate speeches and issued fatwa after fatwa, intended to present Kashmir as a demonic, monolithic, Wahabi society—is actually a government-anointed cleric? Kids on Facebook will be arrested, never him. What should we make of the fact that the Indian government looks away while money from Saudi Arabia (that most steadfast partner of the US) is pouring into Kashmir’s madrassas? How different is this from what the CIA did in Afghanistan all those years ago? That whole, sorry business is what created Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It has decimated Afghanistan and Pakistan. What sort of incubus will this unleash?The trouble is that the old political football may not be all that easy to control any more. And it’s radioactive. Maybe it is not a coincidence that a few days ago Pakistan tested a short-range battlefield nuclear missile to protect itself against threats from “evolving scenarios”. Two weeks ago, the Kashmir police published “survival tips” for nuclear war. Apart from advising people to build toilet-equipped bombproof basements large enough to house their entire families for two weeks, it said: “During a nuclear attack, motorists should dive out of their cars toward the blast to save themselves from being crushed by their soon-to-be tumbling vehicles.” And to “expect some initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features”.

Prominent and familiar features may already have been blown down. Perhaps we should all jump out of our soon-to-be-tumbling vehicles.

 

Sunita Bhuyan performs at #1billionrising -Mumbai #Vaw


Submitted by AT News on Sat, 16/02/2013 – 12:20

Violinist Sunita Bhuyan , the cultural Ambassador to the South Asia Women’s Fund, Sri Lanka performs at Bandstand amphitheatre, Mumbai during the celebration ofOne Billion Rising – Mumbai on February 14, 2013.

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#1billionrising Campaign in Mumbai #Vaw


TNN | Feb 16, 2013, 12.00 AM IST

One Billion Rising campaign in Mumbai
Watch Farhan Akhtar perform, using Alive
The global One Billion Rising campaign to stop violence against women found expression in Mumbai at the Bandra amphitheatre, where actors, artistes and activists together joined hands in an event organised by the NGO Akshara.Mita Vashisht recited some verses of Kashmiri poetry, while Rahul Bose recited a message written by Eve Ensler. Students from Sophia College and TISS also performed and showcased videos created for the occasion.

The issues of sex workers, the transgendered, the disabled, dalits, lesbians and minority communities were also addressed. The highlight of the evening was Farhan Akhtar, who recited a poem and then sang a song. He also performed an encore after the crowd urged him to sing another number.

Talking about the evening, he said, “It is wonderful to see so many people here in support of this cause. I am very happy that I am here and that I could be a part of this movement.”

 

One death penalty every third day in India; UP tops the list #shameindia


 Saturday, February 16, 2013
Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times
New Delhi,
Notwithstanding the rarest of rare doctrine propounded by the Supreme Court, awarding death penalty does not appear to be so rare for courts in India.

Indian courts gave death penalty to 1455 convicts during 2001-11, an average of 132.27 convicts per year, Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) said in a report released on Thursday. 

Uttar Pradesh topped the list with 370 death sentences, followed by Bihar (132).

https://i0.wp.com/www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/2/16-02-pg10a.jpg

Interestingly, no death penalty was imposed in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim) and Union Territories (Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Lakswadweep), the report stated.

Based on records of the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB), Union ministry of home affairs, the ACHR report – The State of Death Penalty in India 2013 – said sentences for 4,321 convicts were commuted from death penalty to life imprisonment during this period.

The highest number of commutation – 2,462 – happened in Delhi, followed by followed by  Uttar Pradesh (458).

But thousands of convicts still remain on death row, the report stated.

“This implies that on average one convict is awarded death penalty in less than every third day in India. The rarest of rare case doctrine for application of death penalty has become routine.

“Death penalty is no longer the exception but the rule,” said ACHR Director Suhas Chakma, who is Coordinator of the National Campaign for Abolition of Death Penalty in India.

He demanded abolition of capital punishment contending “there is no scientific or empirical basis to suggest that death penalty acts as a deterrent against any crime.”

On the execution of Parliament Attack Case convict Afzal Guru, Chakma said the government must assuage the sentiments of his family members who had effectively been not informed about the impending execution on February 9.

“The State itself must not be flouting or circumventing the rules as it erodes the belief in the rule of law. Guru was hanged out of the queue and was denied the right to appeal against the rejection of mercy petition,” he said.

On the rejection of mercy pleas of four associates of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, the ACHR Director said in its attempt to address political fallout of the botched up execution of Afzal Guru the UPA government would carry out further executions of death row convicts.

“India as the land of Valmiki, Lord Buddha, Gandhi etc must follow its own civilisational values and take effective measures to join the countries which have abandoned retributive justice system and abolished death penalty,” Chakma said.

Death Penalty awarded during 2001-11
Uttar Pradesh-370
Bihar -132
Maharashtra -125
Karnataka- 95
Tamil Nadu -95
Madhya Pradesh-87
Jharkhand- 81
West Bengal- 79
Delhi-71
Gujarat-57

Death Penalty Commuted during 2001-11
New Delhi-2462
Uttar Pradesh-458
Bihar-343
Jharkhand-300
Maharashtra-175
West Bengal-98
Assam -97
Odisha -68
Madhya Pradesh-62
Uttaranchal -46

 

Forest land cannot be diverted for #Vedanta project, says India #goodnews


New Delhi, February 16, 2013

 

English: Dongri Kondh Dance from Kalahandi

English: Dongri Kondh Dance from Kalahandi (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

J. Venkatesan, The Hindu

Justifying the cancellation of the environmental clearance granted to Vedanta for the Lanjigarh Bauxite mining project in Odisha, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Friday said that forest land cannot be diverted under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.

In its affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the MoEF said: “The diversion of forest land on the proposed mining site of the Lanjigarh bauxite mining lease is violative of the fundamental rights of the Dongria Kondh tribals as well as the spirit of Forest Rights Act especially for the vulnerable tribal groups such as the Dongria Kondh and thus cannot be allowed for this reason alone.”

It said: “More than 7 sq. km. of the sacred undisturbed forests on top of the mountain, where the proposed mining lease area of the Lanjigarh bauxite mining lease is located has been protected for centuries by the Dongria Kondh, a primitive tribal group [now termed as particularly vulnerable tribe] as sacred to their deity. Diversion of these sacred areas for mining will undermine the customary rights of the Dongria Kondhs to protect their sacred places of worship and thereby amount to a violation of their fundamental right to manage their own affairs in the matter of religion and fundamental right to conserve the culture of their own. It was also in direct violation further of the specific provisions of the Forest Rights Act.”

According to the Orissa Mining Corporation, which filed the writ petition, the then Minister of State for MoEF, Jairam Ramesh, passed an order, withdrawing the environmental clearance just a day before the Council of Ministers was reshuffled. It said that no mandatory notice was given before such withdrawal. The then Minister withdrew the clearance despite knowing that the matter was sub judice and that the Supreme Court issued notice three months ago on a writ petition. It sought quashing of the order. The Centre filed its response on this petition.

The Centre said: “The Lanjigarh bauxite mining lease is located in Scheduled Areas as referred to in Clause (1) of Article 244 of the Constitution. Circumscribing or extinguishing of forest rights in such areas shall be in conformity with the provisions of the clause-5 of the Fifth Schedule to the Constitution.

“Section 5 of the 2006 Act inter alia provides that the holders of the forest right, Gram Sabha and village level institutions in areas, where there are holders of any forest rights under this Act, are empowered to ensure that habitat of forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes and other traditional forest dwellers is preserved from any form of destructive practices affecting their cultural and natural heritage.”

 

 

Vedanta Kicking Dinner Plates v/s Vedanta ‘ Khushi” Offering Free lunches


Sovereign Forest 3

VEDANTA KICKING DINNER PLATES VS VEDANTA KHUSHI OFFERING FREE LUNCH

Vedanta’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative Vedanta Khushi is motivated and self driven PR exercise to create emotionally perfect image in the eyes of the world. Vedanta has so much to clean in their own house; they do not need a social cause to hunt outside of their own pitch. How can? on one side Vedanta is kicking the dinner plates of parents and Vedanta KHUSHI on other side is offering free food to kids in lunch boxes . I have tried to unfold the truth.

I have never been to Odisha , but the kind of reports I am reading these days has wounded my soul, now throwing Vedanta out of India is the voice of my soul.

While packing Lunch boxes with aluminum foil everyday in our kitchen, while buying fresh burger from any eating joint , do we ever have a thought , that after how much of revolution , politics and bloodshed this piece of aluminum reached in my Kitchen ? . Thousands hectare of green forest land had been chopped? Hundreds of villages, communities and natural resources would have been sacrificed, the harsh truth is after thousands of such stories, and aluminum foil reaches in our kitchens.

Vedanta has suffocated the life of Adivasis in Niyamgiri foothills. The entire area is overlapped with Red Mud. Most of humans, animals, birds and insects are infected with skin diseases. Proper medical facilities are unavailable; there is no sign of hospital. By pressures, by vicious means, by force, by paying less, Vedanta bought the farming and forest land of Local tribes. They cheated them by providing technical training to make them skillful workers in Vedanta Mines and factories, as soon as land got transferred, Vedanta thrown them out.

Red mud has converted all crop fields and forest into waste land, the vein is spreading. The river Vasamdhara is the main source of water for all constituents of habitats in Niyamgiri. Vedanta’s Red Mud resulted in converting drinkable water of Vasamdhara to polluted and toxic waste; it is causing dangerous skin diseases and cancer. Even Animals and birds are rejecting it to drink. The situation of Vasamdhara is same from Niyamgiri till Kalingapatnam. Amnesty International broke this harsh truth.

Niyamgiri foothills is a treasure of bauxite, Bauxite is a main component to make aluminum. According to statistic, Niyamgiri foothills contain 72 lakh million ton of bauxite. The average cost of 1 ton bauxite is approx 6500 INR, whereas all 72 lakh million ton is not awarded to Vedanta for mining. The prices are fixed very little, when Government awards a license to mine, it is simple to understand the covetous intentions of Vedanta by looking at the history and biology of Vedanta.

Government and Vedanta has fixed the price of Niyamgiri foothills, the predators have camped and pasted like a woodworm. Vedanta Aluminum Ltd is camped with crooked intentions in Laljiganj located at south Odisha . A fake kingdom of 700 Hectares expanded by cheating legally and eating illegally, hooks or crook they used every evil outfit.

Village Bundela initiated the revolution against Vedanta few years back, many voices were raised, and dozens of revolutionaries are martyred. There are few Tribal’s if they further replaced from this areas, they will lose their name from World map. They are already on the way of extinction because of Vedanta what a Price tag we have placed on forest and tribes in this materialistic world. We are the silent observer of slaughter of Humanity.

Both logic and consciousnesses say that Vedanta must go back to London .

@rahulyogideveshwar

http://shantisekranti.wordpress.com/

Attn- Apply now vacancies at FAT #womenrights


Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT)

Vacancies at FAT

If you have a research background, like to work with young girls, have interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, this position is for you! We have the following 2 vacancies to fill urgently.
Program Assistant
The Program Assistant’s main role would be to assist the Program Coordinator and the Program Associate. S/he will be assisting the Program Coordinator – School Contact Program with the research as all as in organizing all workshops and events. S/he will be responsible for all logistical tasks for School Contact Program and all multimedia documentation for both the School Contact Program and the Tech Center Program. Click here for detailed announcement.
Program Coordinator
The Program Coordinator – School Contact Program is responsible for developing and managing FAT’s school contact program, including finances, planning, monitoring and evaluation. S/he will be directly responsible for all components of the school contact program and will be supervising the tech center program associate in running the tech center. S/he should be able to build partnerships, coalitions and collaborations with organizations working in the sector on similar issues. Working closely with the rest of the team, volunteers and board members, s/he will also be responsible for identifying donors to take forward the school contact program and any research needed to be done to facilitate the school contact program. S/he will be responsible for timely submissions of proposals and reports, and develop public communication systems of the program. Click here for detailed announcement.
Last date for application for both the positions is 28th Feb 2013. Send us the following to jobs@fat-net.org.
  1. Full Curriculum Vitae and a letter of intent;
  2. Names and contact details for three references.

Apply now to be a part of the FAT Team!

 

Statewide Campaign in Maharashtra against Privatisation of BMC Schools


The Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation took a decision to handover all their around 1200 schools to private players under Public Private Partnership. This is an unprecedented decision in the annuls off Indian independent history that a statutory body hand over all its schools to private operators. It is a major step in direction of disowning the responsibility of providing education to the citizens (children), a constitutional obligation on Indian state. This decision involves transfer of hundreds of millions of Rupees of the public assets to private hands in form of buildings and lot of prime land in Mumbai. This, in brief, involves 1) Neo-liberal policy of disowning the responsibility by state and 2) Siphoning of public assets and funds to private operators.
 
However, people of Mumbai and Maharashtra are not ready to take it lying. They are preparing to organize statewide protest until the decision is thwarted. Mumbai Municipal Corporation sent its decisions for approval of the state government. Now, people of Maharashtra demanding the chief minister not to give his consent.
 
The eight member organisations of All India Forum for Right to Education working in Maharashtra met on 26th of January, 2013 to initiate a statewide struggle against the decision of the Mumbai municipal Corporation. The meeting was convened by Shri Arvind Vaidya (member, national executive, AIFRTE – Mumbai). The meeting was attended by seven out of eight organisations. (One orrganisation could not attend under unavoidable conditions.) The meeting was also attended by Prof. Anil Sadgopal [Member, Presidium, AIFRTE] and Shri D. Ramesh Patnaik [Organising Secretary, AIFRTE]. Prof. Anil Sadgopal is closely guiding the movement on behalf of All India Forum for Right to Ecuation.
The meeting took a decision to convene all organisations in the state who are ready to fight against the onslaught on public education system. The propose extended meeting was organised on 10th February. 
 
Invitation was sent to many organisations which oppose commercialization of education, Neo-liberal policy of public private partnership, Neo-liberal foreign funding, Communalism and stand in support of public education system at all levels and for diversity of cultures.    Seventeen organisations attended this meeting. An organizing committee was formed with the representatives of all the organisations. A three member ( Arvind Vaidya, Dr Milind Wagh and Neeraj Jain) convening committee and a correspondent (Shyam Sonar) were appointed by the organizing committee. This meeting was attended, again, by Prof. Anil Sadgopal. Dr. Vikram Singh Amarawat, office Secretary, AIFRTE also attended the meeting.
The above meeting on 10th of February took momentous decision to take up the campaign widely and intensively. A schedule of activities is prepared. As a part of campaign, a delegation of men of letters in the state on behalf of the campaign is going to meet the the Chief Minister shortly to ask him not to give consent to the decision of the BMC to privatize the 1200 schools.
 
You will listen many more developments of the campaign.
Please contact comrade Shyam Sonar <shyam.panther@gmail.com>, 08080829499 to know developments and also to support the movement.
 
regards
D. Ramesh Patnaik,
Organising Secretary,
All India Forum for Right To Education   

 

 

Arindam Chaudhuri, the IIPM has sued The Caravan- and fight is on #Censorship


Arindam ChaudhuriSilchar

FEBRUARY 15, 2013

Given below is the text of a press release put out by THE CARAVAN magazine in 2011. This was first published in Kafila on 22 June 2011 and is being republished today for all those who may be interested in following up on the defamation case filed against The Caravan for a profile of Arindam Chaudhuri. The Supreme Court had stayed the case in August 2011.

When I read The Caravan‘s cover story on Arindam Chaudhuri some months ago, I wondered when he was suing them. And he’s done it! While a court injunction has made The Caravanremove the story from their wesbite, you can read it thanks to Google cache. No wonder Chaudhuri’s sued Google India as well! Given below is the full text of the press release put out byThe Caravan. Unlike when Chaudhuri took on bloggers in 2005, I’m glad it is an organisation with the resources to fight the case and take him head on – not to say that requires some spine as well. After you’re done reading the release below, entertain yourself with all the Arindam jokes on Twitter.  

IIPM’s Rs500-million lawsuit against The Caravan
In response to our February profile of Arindam Chaudhuri, the IIPM has sued The Caravan.

Here’s why we’re fighting the suit.

The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), whose director, Arindam Chaudhuri, was the subject of the cover story of our February 2011 issue, has filed a lawsuit against The Caravan, citing “grave harassment and injury”. The article, titled “Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations—and Insecurities—of India’s Middle Classes”, was written by Siddhartha Deb, a contributing editor at The Caravan and an accomplished writer and university professor based in New York. Deb’s profile of Arindam Chaudhuri, which shows how Chaudhuri built an image for himself and how he runs his educational institution, has been critically praised for both its thorough reporting and its spirit of evenhandedness. In the weeks that followed its initial publication, in print and on The Caravan’s website, the extensive article was widely referenced, commented on, and shared by readers.

The suit against The Caravan, which seeks huge damages, has been filed not in Delhi, where both the IIPM and the magazine’s publisher, Delhi Press, are based, but 2,200 km away in Silchar, Assam, 300 km from Guwahati, Assam’s capital. The IIPM filed the case at the Court of Civil Judge in Silchar district, through one Kishorendu Gupta, who operates Gupta Electrical Engineers in a Silchar suburb, and is the first plaintiff. IIPM is the second plaintiff.

In addition to The Caravan and its proprietors, the suit charges Siddhartha Deb, Penguin (the publisher of the upcoming book by Deb in which the article is a chapter), and Google India (which, the suit alleges, has been “publishing, distributing, giving coverage, circulating, blogging the defamatory, libelous and slanderous articles”).

The civil court in Silchar granted the IIPM a preliminary injunction, enjoining Delhi Press to remove the article in question from their website, ex-parte, without any pre-hearing notice.

Kishorendu Gupta is a commissioned agent who works for the IIPM on a contractual basis. Although Gupta is called a counselor, a contract between Gupta and IIPM shows Gupta is a recruitment agent who has commercial interest and is paid for his service on a commission basis. IIPM’s contract with Gupta states:

“for number of students enrolled between 1 to 24, the compensation would be 75,000 per student …[and] for anyone who crosses the 25 students mark, the compensation would be 90,000 per student…[and] for anyone who crosses the 50 student mark, the compensation would be 1,25,000 per student” (From the agreement submitted by the plaintiffs in the court).

It is learnt that the IIPM has filed similar lawsuits against certain other publishers, also in Silchar, Assam, rather than in Delhi.

In 2005, the IIPM filed a case against Rashmi Bansal, a blogger and editor of Just Another Magazine (JAM), who published an article in print and online questioning many of the claims made by the IIPM in its brochures and advertisements, which highlighted that the IIPM had not been accredited by any Indian agency such as AICTE, UGC or under other state acts. The IIPM filed a case against Bansal from Silchar, Assam, even though she runs a small independent outfit based in Mumbai. The IIPM managed to get an ex-parte order from the court, forcing Bansal to remove the article from the website. The IIPM also filed for damages.

In 2009, Careers360 magazine, published by Maheshwar Peri, who is also the publisher of Outlook magazine, carried an article titled “IIPM – Best only in claims?” investigating the authenticity of many of the claims made by the IIPM in their advertisements. The magazine’s investigation revealed that the IIPM claimed that its students were eligible for MBA degrees from IMI, Belgium, but that NVAO, the accreditation organisation of Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium), did not recognise IMI. Also it reported that following a local agitation against the opening of a new campus in Dehradun, the state government of Uttarakhand had asked the Uttarakhand Technical University to conduct an enquiry on the activities of the IIPM, with which IIPM did not co-operate. The investigations revealed that IIPM could not in any circumstances award valid MBA/BBA degrees or conduct such courses in the state of Uttarakhand. The IIPM, again, filed a case against the magazine and the publisher in Silchar, and obtained ex-parte restraint against them. The IIPM also filed a criminal case against Maheshwar Peri from Uttarakhand, which was subsequently quashed by the High Court. The cases against Rashmi Bansal and Careers360 are both still underway at the Silchar courts, as the IIPM seems to be interested in dragging the matter out now that their purpose has been served by obtaining interim restraints.

The Caravan’s profile of Arindam Chaudhuri was the most thorough article published to date on the subject. The 10,000-word story was the result of several months of work by Siddhartha Deb, whose exhaustive reporting included interviews with Arindam Chaudhuri himself and several of his close associates who spoke openly about the IIPM and its critics, coverage of Chaudhuri’s public functions, and an account of considerable time spent on the IIPM campus. The piece is distinguished by both its detailed research and its refined literary style.

The Caravan intends to fight this suit because we believe that we must defend the right of journalists to report on controversial subjects or persons without undue fear of legal intimidation from powerful entities or organisations that seek to insulate themselves from criticism. Delhi Press, the publisher of The Caravan and many popular titles like SaritaWoman’s Era,Grihshobha and Mukta, has time and again been at the forefront of defending the right to freedom of speech and freedom of press during its 70 years of publishing history. On account of the bold anti-authoritarian and anti-religious obscurantist articles published in its leading socio-political magazine in Hindi, Sarita, the group has successfully fought all attempts of legal intimidation over the years.

If the IIPM can demonstrate that any errors of fact have been made, The Caravan will print a correction in the magazine as well as on its website. But the vast majority of the “falsehoods” cited in the legal suit are not based on matters of fact, and the objections merely reflect the discomfort of the IIPM with the language employed to describe the facts.

The Civil Court at Silchar, in its order granting the injunction against the magazine, has noted:

“Defendants had written article making false imputations against IIPM Institute with false and concocted facts only to cause damage to the reputations, Goodwill, education activities of IIPM institute. The said magazine carries and morphid image of Mr. Arindam Choudhury-Dean of the Centre for Economic Research and Advance studies of IIPM saying him as a magician/soothsayer in an attempt to portray him as a trickster and falsely stated that Mr. Arindam Choudhury has a reputation as a fraud, scamster and ‘Jhony come lately’ in order to malign and defame the dean of IIPM and create a negative public image of Mr. Arindam Choudhury”.

In their petition, the plaintiffs have raised an objection to the article’s statement that placements had always been a pressing problem for the IIPM graduates. They have also raised an exception to the author’s claim, based on interviews with Arindam Chaudhuri himself, that almost 90 percent of Planman employees, including faculty members, have been former graduates of the IIPM.

The author had raised questions about the revenue and size of the company to Arindam Chaudhuri and his associates, but these went unanswered. The article states this, along with the fact that while the IIPM spent over 300 million on advertising in 2006, it paid no income tax that year or the previous.

The sum and substance of the petition is that The Caravan has published a false, incorrect, defamatory and libelous article and has made false imputations against the IIPM, which, the petition says, the author and editors of The Caravan knew to be false, and that these were made with the intention to defame the IIPM institute as well as its councilors like Kishorendu Gupta. While we reserve our right to respond to the allegations during the course of legal proceedings, it is interesting to note the following charges in particular:

“The magazine carries a morphed image of Mr. Arindam Chaudhari, Dean Centre for Economic Research and Advance Studies of IIPM, showing him as a magician/soothsayer in a manner which clearly is an attempt to portray him as a trickster.”“The present campus at Satbari is also not in the city’s outskirts nor the road leading to it is dusty. Moreover, the works “proprietor”, “small”, “run of the mill”, “outskirts of Delhi” and “the road is dusty” have been used by the Defendants with the aim to malign and defame the heads of IIPM as well as the IIPM institute.”

As stated before, The Caravan as a respectable publication stands by what has been published, which is a true and accurate account of the IIPM as experienced by the author. But the suit that has been filed leads us to believe that the IIPM does not appear to have any desire to correct the record: instead it aims to prevent any publication of material that paints the IIPM in a light it does not approve of.

The suit, in order to substantiate the charges, offers a long list of students, rent receipts from the Indian Tuberculosis Society, an agreement with Plaintiff No 1 Kishorendu Gupta, which runs into 25 clauses of commercial nature, and various newspaper cuttings.

Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right in this country, and various higher courts have consistently upheld this important fundamental right of individuals and publications.

The Caravan will continue to keep its readers updated with the proceedings in the court so that they know the truth about both the veracity of the statements made in the article and the arguments of the IIPM and Kishorendu Gupta. For the benefit of the public, news of the court proceedings will be published by Delhi Press in its 30 magazines in nine languages, which together have a readership of over 30 million people.

The Caravan Editors and Publishers

NHRC issues notice to the Centre on allegations of illegal clinical trials on 3479 children in Delhi hospital


 

Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai
Friday, February 15, 2013, 08:00 Hrs [IST]

Close on the heels of the scathing criticism by the Supreme Court of India  for its alleged negligence in regulating the clinical trials in the  country, the Union health ministry has been given yet another dressing down, this time from an unexpected quarters – the National Human Rights  Commission (NHRC).

According to sources, the NHRC has issued a notice to the Union health  secretary on February 7 on a complaint that illegal drug trials are being  conducted on children without prior consent from the parents of these  children. The Commission has sought a reply from the health ministry within  four weeks’ time.

The human rights watchdog’s notice to the health ministry follows a  complaint by a Delhi-based social activist RH Bansal in which the activist  has alleged that the clinical drug trials violated the human rights of the  innocent children. In his complaint to the NHRC, Bansal alleged that  parents’ approval was not taken for subjecting their children to clinical  trials, which is an illegal and punishable act in the law.

It is learnt that the social activist has demanded to the government to  register criminal cases against doctors and pharmaceutical companies  involved in these clinical trials. He is reported to have asked the  Commission to direct the government to duly compensate the aggrieved  families, as the doctors in the hospital had forced the children into  clinical drug trials.

In his complaint to the NHRC, he alleged that three government hospitals  used 3,479 children in past five years as guinea pigs for clinical drug  trials without seeking the consent of the families. According to reports, Bansal had filed an RTI plea seeking details of the drug trials on children  since 2008. According to the replies from the three hospitals, the number  of such children was 2,056 in Safdarjung Hospital, 1,023 in Kalawati Saran  Children’s Hospital and 400 in Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi.

Recently, the union health ministry had come under severe criticisms from  the Supreme Court for the alleged negligence in regulating clinical trials  in the country. Hearing a public interest litigation filed by Swasthya  Adhikar Manch, an NGO working in the health sector, the apex court had  remarked that the Centre had slipped into a “deep slumber” even as illegal  drug trials on human beings by multinational companies were wreaking  “havoc” in the country.

In its petition to the Supreme Court, Swasthya Adhikar Manch had alleged  that large-scale clinical drug trials are conducted wherein Indians are  being used as guinea pigs by various pharmaceutical firms.

New Delhi, 7th February, 2013

The National Human Rights Commission today issued a notice to the  Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, returnable in four  weeks, on a complaint alleging that three big government hospitals in Delhi . conducted illegal clinical drug trials on 3479 children during the last  five years. These include 2056 children at Safdarjung Hospital, 1023  children in Kalawati Saran Children Hospital and 400 children at Lok Nayak  Jai Prakash Hospital.

The complainant Mr. R.H. Bansal, a representative of an NGO, in his  petition to the NHRC has claimed that he got the information about the  number of children subjected to clinical trials under RTI. He also alleged  that parents’ approval was not taken for subjecting their children to  clinical trials which is an illegal and punishable act. The clinical drug  trials also violated the human rights of the innocent children.

 

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