#Aadhaar allocation is Parliament’s contempt #UID


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Rediff.com, gopal krishna
i) The governemnt ignores the PSC of Finance 42nd report of Dec 2011 and demonstrates contempt for parliament.

ii) Increased fund allocation in Union budget 2013-14 to Aadhaar/UID by Rs 14,232 crore (Rs 142.32 billion) and other recommendations has made a mockery of the PSC of Finance report which is the considered view of parliament.

iii) The claims success by various pilots on themes of subsidy transfer and financial inclusion of Adhaar project are extremely suspicious and dubious.

iv) The biometric data collection without statutory backing by NPR and Aadhaar violates citizens’ rights.

v) Submission of 3.57 crores signatures of people all over the country against the UID/Aadhaar project and which also shows the widespread opposition to the biometric profiling not only by pro-privacy activists but also by the aam-aadmi.

vi) Benefits from direct transfer of subsidy recommended by Nandan Nilekani task force suspect.

vii) Parliamentary probe required for UIDAI/RGI’s relationship with external and internal intelligence agencies.

Union Budget allocation of Rs 14,232 crore (Rs 142.32 billion) for Aadhar-UID demonstrates a contempt of Parliament as it seems to ignore the recommendations of the report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance on the National Identification Authority of IndiaImages ] Bill 2010. This was presented to Parliament on December 13, 2011 and questioned the legality of collection of biometric data for Aadhaar and National Population Register without legislative mandate.

It may be recalled that while presenting the Union Budget 2009-10, Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee [ Images ] had announced the setting up of the Unique Identification Authority of India by the Government to “establish an online data base with identity and biometric details of Indian residence and provide enrolment and verification services across the country.”

He had allocated Rs 120 crore for this project as “a major step in improving governance with regard to delivery of public services”.

The Minister did not inform the Parliament that UIDAI “was created during 2009-10 and a modest start with an expenditure of Rs 30.92 crore (Rs 309.2 million) was made.”

Parliament has been kept in dark about how Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar Numbers to every resident in India started unfolding without sharing “the linkages of various welfare schemes steered by different Ministries/departments of Government of India”.

Not only that the “reports of the Demographic Data Standards and Field Verification Committee and Biometrics Committee were completed” without any legislative approval.

Government has ensured that the legislative wing remains unaware about how UIDAI selected the “Managed Service Provider” for the Central Identity Data Repository of Aadhaar Numbers. For this a budget of Rs 1,900 crores (Rs 19 billion) was allocated in the Union Budget 2010-11 by the Finance Minister.

It is admitted that “CIDR will be handed over to the Managed Service Provider on a long term contract basis.” The UIDA was given Rs 3,000 crore (Rs 30 billion) for fiscal 2011-2012. Its details are missing from the public domain. The shifting national identities of MSP and their relationship with external and internal intelligence agencies merit a parliamentary probe.

The explosive and revealing report of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance specifically raises questions about the legality of the collection of biometrics while creating a citizen / resident data base.

The Report reads (in the section on ‘Observations/Recommendations): “The collection of biometric information and its linkage with personal information without amendment to the Citizenship Act 1955 as well as the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules 2003, appears to be beyond the scope of subordinate legislation, which needs to be examined in detail by Parliament.”

This reveals that the allocation in the Union Budget was illegitimate and beyond its legislative mandate. Unmindful of such a categorical observation of the PSC on Finance, the National Population Register project, a comprehensive identity database to be maintained by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India is being continued.

It is claimed that the objective of creating this identity database is to help in better utilisation and implementation of the benefits and services under government schemes, improve planning and improve security.

Union Budget speech 2012-13 under the heading Growth, Fiscal Consolidation and Subsidies reads: “23. The recommendations of the task force headed by Nandan Nilekani on IT strategy for direct transfer of subsidy have been accepted…This step will benefit 12 crore farmer families, while reducing expenditure on subsidies by curtailing misuse of fertilisers.”

Such claims of benefits from direct transfer of subsidy has been debunked in the past but government remains adamant to pursue this path under the influence of vested interests.

Economic Survey 2011-12 reveals, “The Aadhaar project is set to become the largest biometric capture and identification project in the world.” It does not acknowledge that such projects have been abandoned in several countries, a fact which has been recorded in the report of PSC on Finance.

It is admitted by UIDAI that there are “ownership risks (Ownership of the project by stakeholders), Technology risks (nowhere in the world a project of this size has been implemented) and privacy concerns (there may be groups raising privacy issues – many ID Projects in western countries have been stalled due to the opposition of privacy groups)”.

The UIDAI claims that it is “putting into place the risk mitigation strategies to minimize some of these risks” but this has never been shared with the Parliament and the citizens.

While all this has happened, the PSC report on Finance has concluded that Aadhaar platform has been “conceptualised with no clarity of purpose” and is “directionless” in its implementation, leading to “a lot of confusion”.

Under the exiting legal framework biometric data is collected only under Identification of Prisoner Act that too for a temporary period. In the case of Aadhaar and NPR biometric data is being collected for permanent safe keeping without any constitutional or legal approval.

Aadhaar related NPR project is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Home Affairs is aimed at creation of this comprehensive identity database.

The NPR project consists of two components: demographic data digitization of all the usual residents and biometric enrollment of all such residents who are aged five and above.

The demographic data – refers to the personal information collected during Census 2011 by the Census Enumerators based on the data fields prescribed by the Registrar General of India for the NPR Schedules and by following the process laid down for the purpose and biometric data – refers to the facial image, iris scan of both eyes and ten fingerprints of enrollees collected by the Enrolment Agency.

The fact is that these actions of the Union Home Ministry are “beyond the scope of subordinate legislation” but instead it has issued only guidelines for collection of biometric data under the Citizenship Act 1955 and Citizenship Rules. It states that it is compulsory for every citizen of the country to register in the NRIC.

The creation of the NPR is the first step towards preparation of the NRIC. It contends that out of the universal dataset of residents, the subset of citizens would be derived after due verification of the citizenship status. In the absence of any legislative mandate for such far reaching efforts, it cites to a recommendation of Group of Ministers on the National Security system for Multipurpose National Identity Card in 2001 for all citizens. This is hardly convincing.

Civil society groups welcome the submission of a memorandum opposing Aadhaar and other anti-people policies to the Prime Minister along with a big truck load of signatures numbering 3.57 crore on March 14.

In such a backdrop, these signatures seeking scrapping of Aadhaar and anti-citizen in the aftermath of PSC report and UP lections underline the illegality and illegitimacy of the entire surveillance project.

Dharmadhikari panel wants curbs on FB, mobile phones #Vaw #Censorship #WTFnews


Rosy Sequeira TNN

Third Interim Report Submitted To High Court 
Mumbai: The Dharmadhikari committee, in its third interim report to the state government, has suggested restrictions on social networking sites as they “corrupt adolescents”. 
A copy of the January 16, 2013, report with 31 recommendations was submitted to a Bombay high court division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta on Thursday. The committee, headed by retired high court judge Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari, was constituted by the government to recommend measures to curb atrocities against women.
The panel has recommended enlisting men who train at akhadas and gymnasiums for protection of women. “This must be given serious thought,’’ it said.
The report in Marathi says there should be restrictions on “networking, Facebook, mobile phone and vulgar and indecent conversations and exchange of pictures”. The trend has increased among adolescents, which has been revealed by a recent survey, the report said. Another measure to ensure women’s safety, it said, would be to publish and upload on websites names and details of people convicted by courts for atrocities on women.
It suggested putting up such details on an independent website and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. “This is mainly to create awareness and prohibit such crimes,” the panel said.
The committee also recommended prosecution of those who witness atrocities but do nothing. The report said some people do not inform the police on helplines and remain mute spectators, which helps criminals. “Being a mute spectator is a crime. Such persons should be considered as accused and similar provisions should be in the law to consider them as so. It seems crimes take place due to silent consent of such people,’’ it said. The report stated that the Constitution mentions that it is the duty of every Indian to protect women. It recommended amending section 39 (public to give information of certain offences) of the CrPC and sections 177 (furnishing false information) and 202 (intentional omission to give information by person bound to inform) of the IPC.
Also suggested was a ban on advertisements depicting women indecently. The committee mooted an independent authority to ensure laws are implemented.
It suggested thought be giving to one-sided talaaq, as expressed by the SC and it felt political parties should not give tickets to candidates involved in offences against women.
DHARMADHIKARI REPORT IN HC

•The Dharmadhikari panel, appointed by the state to suggest steps to ensure women’s protection, has submitted its third interim report

•It wants curbs on networking sites like Facebook, cell phones, vulgar chats and sharing of photos as they “corrupt adolescents’’

•Says details of people convicted for atrocities against women should be uploaded on websites

• Suggests law to make stalking and blackmailing serious offences

Maha govt tells court it is making women feel safer 
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government told the Bombay high court on Thursday that it was taking steps to make women feel safer and said now there was a central ordinance making offences, including molestation, assault and even stalking, non-bailable.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Anoop Mohta was hearing a clutch of public interest litigation for the safety of women. Advocate-general Darius Khambata submitted that Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2013 promulgated on February 3, 2013, has made several Indian Penal Code sections non-bailable.
Advocate Rajiv Chavan for Help Mumbai Foundation earlier told the court that the third interim report of the Dharmadhikari committee has been submitted and was under the government’s consideration. “This period should not be too long,’’ he added.
Khambata submitted that counseling centres have been established, including helpdesks in offices, of the commissioner and superintendent of police. To the court’s query on whether people manning the desks were sensitive enough, he replied that the government was trying its best but cannot guarantee the behaviour of individuals. “In a given case, if any complaint is brought to our notice, we’ll replace such persons,’’ said Khambata.
The judges have asked the government to state how many women officers are there in police stations across Maharashtra. They have also asked the railways to state why it was unwilling to pay the state for women home guards to be deployed on railway stations, pending recruitment in the RPF. The next hearing is on February 28.

Maharshtra Govt threatens to invoke Mesma on chemists #healthcare


HC Asks State To Take Chemists’ Problems Into Account

Rosy Sequeira TNN

The state government on Thursday told the Bombay HighCourtthatitis exploring the possibility of applying the Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act against chemists who are on strike. However, chemists claimed they were merely closing their shops early and were not on strike.
A division bench of Chief JusticeMohit Shah andJustice Anoop Mohta was hearing an application by advocate Datta Mane to revive his earlier PIL seeking prosecution of members of the Maharashtra State Chemists & Druggists Association, to restrain them from going on strike and find a permanent solution to the issue. Advocate SnehalRatnakar submitted on Mane’s behalf that greathardship willbecausedto peopleduetothestrike.
However, the association’s advocate told the bench it was not a strike but an individual decision taken by some chemists to keep their shops open from 10am to 6pm. He said it was prompted by visits at odd hours, like 3am, by Food and Drugs Administration officials asking about the presence of pharmacists. “If a pharmacist is not presentor hassteppedout
to answer nature’s call, they serve a stop-sell notice,’’ hesaid, adding there was a shortage of pharmacists in the state. He said there were about 70,000 chemist shops in the state but only 55,000 pharmacists, adding many pharmacists take up other jobs. He said while chemists are ready to keep their shops open beyond 6pm, the government must not insist on the presenceof pharmacists.
However, government pleader S S Shinde said the action being taken was statutory and chemists were acting contrary to the undertaking given when applying for licences, which stated they will keep their shops open for at least 12 hours. “It is not a flimsy
ground, we have consistently found that qualified pharmacists are not available,’’ he added. The association’s advocate saidsincetheHC’sOctober 2012 order,the governmentdid nothing and not a single meeting washeldon theissue.
Shinde argued chemists have gone on strike in retaliation againstthe action initiated by the FDA. “We are exploring the possibility of taking action under the Essential Services Act. The commissioner has power to prohibit a strike,’’ said Shinde.
The judges asked the government to show the provision in lawunder which it can insist chemists keep their shops open. The judges also observed that the government must understand the difficultiesof chemists. “Try to understand their difficulty also. Have at least one meeting with them,” said Justice Shah.Thejudgesdirected the government to file a reply and produce a copy of the chemists’ undertaking atthehearing on March 8.
What is Mesma
The Maharashtra Essential Services Maintenance Act came into effect in Maharashtra in July 2012. It is applicable to providers of essential services to the public at large. An offence under the Act is cognisable and punishable with imprisonment up to 1 year. The Act empowers police to arrest offenders without a warrant

 

Do not register for #Aadhaar card before March 15 #UID- What a joke


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February 21, 2013

 

PUNE

 

A Correspondent

 

 

Only beneficiaries of thirteen government schemes and LPG connection holders are entitled to register for the Aadhaar card, said Apurva Wankhede, in-charge of UID scheme department.

 

 

Therefore, other citizens should not gather at the Aadhaar registration centres in the district. Around 35,000 of the 76,366 persons benefiting from the schemes have received the card from the district UID scheme department so far. The LPG consumers would able to register for the UID card from March 1. There are around

 

 

22 lakh LPG consumers in the district. “After March 15, other citizens can register for the Aadhaar card. Every citizen will get a UID card and there is no reason to panic. However, all the UID card machines are installed and dedicated for the beneficiaries of the schemes and LPG consumers,” said Wankhede.

 

 

The Centre has stressed on speeding up the work as the government transfers money directly into the bank account of the beneficiary. For such a process, it is mandatory for one to possess UID card. In the district, there are eight Central Government departments under which 13 schemes are currently active for the people.

 

 

How do we remember Gujarat 2002 #Narendramodi


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Oishik Sircar analyses the sophisticated spectacle of economic development that has insidiously annihilated memories of the Gujarat riots

 

A history-vanishing event

The spectre of Gujarat 2002 inhabits public consciousness in India in a way where memory and forgetting are not racing against each other, but are constantly on a collision path. Like magnets, when they reach the point of collision they repel each other. Their paths are located on a Mobius strip: so if you start with memory you encounter forgetting racing at you with a vengeance, and if you start with forgetting, the phantom of memory will always be lurking. The consequence is an uneasy co-existence where the primary concern is not whether Gujarat should be remembered or forgotten, but how do we remember whathappened in 2002. While forgetting here is not about denying what happened, memory is about selecting which story to tell. And every story claims to be ‘the truth’: in which forensic truth is competing against experiential truth is competing against neoliberal truth is competing against electoral truth is competing against artistic truth.

With the competing narratives of ‘truth’ that have been in circulation since the burning of the Sabarmati Express compartment S6 in Godhra on February 27, 2002 to the recent death of Maulana Hussain Umarji on January 13, 2013, there are stories after stories: official, legal, colloquial, fabricated, imagined, hopeful, utopic, devastating, disgusting. Umarji, who was instrumental in organising relief work after the 2002 violence, was falsely accused of being the “mastermind” in the train-burning incident, spent eight years in jail, fell seriously ill while in prison, and was released in 2011. With his death things haven’t come full circle. Events that have transpired between then and now have only proliferated spirals of impunity, the celebratory hand-in-hand march of Hindutva and neoliberalism, the spectacular rise and rise of the idea of Narendra Modi, the co-option of the Muslim vote-bank by the BJP, the sophisticated marketing and distribution of fear, the sanitisation of the public sphere in Gujarat, and the unending trials: legal and personal.

I was a young law student in Pune when news of the Godhra train-burning and the later events of a violent Hindu ‘revenge’ against Muslims started coming in. Most of the English language media was critical of the Modi government, but their characterisation of what was happening in Gujarat followed the standard cause and effect explanation: the Muslims burnt the Hindus in the train, so now the Hindus are taking their revenge on Muslims. The Newtonian physics of Narendra Modi’s immediate response was to say: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” And Godhra was marked (almost for eternity) as the flashpoint. The art of mobilising public opinion through the marking of a singular event as history-vanishing was mastered by the US government when September 11 happened, and it has been used to justify all the military aggressions and invasions that the US has carried out in the name of self-defence and democracy since then. Godhra has been made to occupy our memories in an identical manner: it is the flash that blinds us to the history of how the pogrom was meticulously planned much before the train caught fire. It also blinds us to the historical roots of Hindutva in Gujarat that did not erupt only as a response to Godhra.

The ability to apply nuance, to see through the spectacle of this blinding flashpoint at my first experience of surrogate consumption of real-time communal violence, was pretty low. A mix of bewilderment, anger and numbness was what I felt. The only previous occasion in my lifetime when I had heard about ‘communal’ violence was a decade ago in 1992 when the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished by militant Hindu mobs followed by an anti-Muslim killing spree. At that time, as a school student, all I looked forward to in the distant city of Calcutta, was the curfews, because that would mean not having to go to school. During the long periods of curfew, I would enjoy cricket matches on TV without my mother constantly asking me to go study (because exams were indefinitely postponed), and playing cricket on the street with friends during the two-hour curfew breaks that were allowed once a week. The brutality of the violence was conveniently censored by my parents as well as by state television. While some of it did reach me, the lack of discussion about it at home didn’t make it so obvious. Some unrest was happening somewhere else in India, and the curfew was just a way to keep us safe, was the standard refrain. I didn’t complain.

Ten years later in 2002 when I was looking at the grotesque images of heaps of dead bodies, maimed and charred, and deserted streets and burnt houses, and desecrated mosques, on TV (privatised 24/7 news media was enjoying its fledgling liberated status covering the violence without regulation after several years of state control), the language that was put into circulation to characterise what was happening followed the cause/effect logic. Everyone was referring to the violence as the ‘post-Godhra riots’. Everything that was happening was being traced back to Godhra. We were surreptitiously being told that our memory-scales must have a limit: don’t look beyond Godhra; that should be the only source for your explanations; treat Godhra as exceptional, so that what has followed it, despite the unprecedented levels of brutality, becomes routine. It took some time to understand that the violence was far from a riot. It was a genocidal massacre, or more aptly a pogrom – as Parvis Ghassem-Fachandi notes in his book Pogrom in Gujarat: Hindu Nationalism and Anti-Muslim Violence in India – which is “an event driven by words and images [of anti-Muslim hatred and disgust], as much as by those [acts of pre-planned violence] that accompany it.”

When you type ‘Gujarat 2002’ into Google even today, the first link that comes up is the Wikipedia entry, and it starts with the following words: “The 2002 Gujarat violence was a series of incidents starting with the Godhra train burning and the subsequent communal violence between Hindus and Muslims…” A Google image search throws up photos, the first of which are images of the burning train compartment. The significantly detailed April 2002 Human Rights Watch report on the carnage titled “We Have No Orders To Save You”: State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat opens with the sentence: “The ongoing violence in Gujarat was triggered by a Muslim mob’s torching of two train cars carrying Hindu activists on February 27, 2002.” In several critical and closely documented publications on the violence – academic, activist, journalistic – Godhra has been marked as what feminist philosopher Martha Nussbaum has called “the precipitating event”.The ‘post-Godhra riots’ adage continues to be a part of the conscious and unconscious vocabulary for most Indians, and despite the activism, civil society outcry, several detailed fact-finding reports, enquiry commissions, sustained and selective media coverage, some convictions, Godhra remains that flashpoint moment that blinds us to the long-term, organised and meticulously planned continuum of anti-Muslim hatred that resulted in the Gujarat pogrom. In fact, the construction of Godhra as the enraging flashpoint closed the space to grieve for those who lost their lives in the train fire.

The spectacle of neoliberalism

On one of the days in March 2002 while the violence continued unabated in Gujarat, The Times of Indiacarried a quotation by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman on its front-page: “The government’s solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem.” I did not know who Friedman was (and didn’t have a way to find out since Wikipedia was just a year old and not yet very popular) nor the devastation that he and the ‘Chicago-boys’ had unleashed in South America, but at that time, looking at the reports of state complicity in the violence and the government’s inability to stop the killings, the quote seemed apt. For some reason this quote stuck with me, and years later I found out about Friedman and hislaissez-faire exploits in Chile and how his ideas inspired the US-supported military coup bringing the genocidal dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. As Naomi Klein has pointed out so powerfully in her brilliant book The Shock Doctrine: all the sham celebration by fundamentalist free-marketeers about Chile’s economic development was the history-vanishing tactic to make us forget about the pre-coup Chile where Salvador Allende – the democratically elected socialist president who was assassinated during the coup – had ushered in pro-people economic policies.

It is a cruel coincidence that an identical script has unfolded in Gujarat where the spectacle of free market economic development (or what can also be called ‘neoliberalism’ where the free market and the state become indistinguishable) has been manufactured to discipline our memories of 2002. This one regulates our memory-scales further: there is no history beyond Godhra, and all history is about Gujarat’s unparalleled economic progress. The ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ summit where India’s richest industrialists line up every year to offer heaps of praise for Narendra Modi’s neoliberal economic vision is a perversely planned attempt by the government to thwart efforts that try to keep alive the memories of genocide. Sample this quote by Anil Ambani: “Narendra Bhai has been described in different ways. My personal favourite comes from what his name literally means in Sanskrit – a conjunction of Nara and Indra. Nara means man and Indra means king or leader. Narendra bhai is the lord of men and a king among kings.” The deification of a man who had personally overseen the design of the pogrom, who has never expressed any remorse about the murder of thousands of Muslims as the accountable political authority in that state, and who has carried on spewing hate speech with impunity, says a lot about the intimacy between neoliberalism and genocide. And this new kind of sophisticated history-vanishing strategy is not about making us forget what happened in 2002. To put into effect the act of forgetting, there has to be some recognition of memory. But this is an insidious method that annihilates memory with such force that the need for forgetting doesn’t even arise. It creates a complete blank slate: a tabula rasa.

This is evident in the way I hear a majority of the people in India, especially the identity-disregarding Hindu upper class/caste youth and young professionals, celebrating Modi’s economic mantra. During his recent visit to Delhi University’s Sri Ram College of Commerce to deliver the Sri Ram Keynote Oration, while there were protests outside (by both the Modi detractors and followers, and the police violence targeting only the detractors) a group of 1,800 young people (and some old I’m sure) sat inside the SRCC basketball court-turned-auditorium listening with rapt attention to Modi holding forth on ‘Emerging business models in the global scenario’.

As a FaceBook status of a lawyer friend who attended the speech said: “Listening to Modi’s keynote address at the SRCC, New Delhi… inspiring!! A blend of sound ideas, strong oratory skills and good humour. This audience is captive and captivated ☺”. The last sentence that is followed by the smiley is disturbingly telling. The neoliberal spectacle of economic growth that Modi and his government have cerebrally injected into our consciousness operates as an anaesthetic, despite several comprehensive reports pointing to the contrary. And it has a drugging effect, where none of these counter findings work as effective antidote. In fact, whenever an attempt is made to call Modi’s bluff by citing contrarian statistics, we end up being sucked into a conversation (hardly one actually) on Modi’s terms. We are made captive: a state of un-freedom where our thoughts are controlled by someone else’s diktat; but we feel that we are captivated: that we are using our rational mind cheerfully and wholeheartedly to agree with what he has to say. Such are the emerging business models in the global scenario: where genocides lay the strongest foundations for economic miracles.

In a blog-post on the NDTV website published a day after the Modi speech, a 19-year-old student from SRCC wrote: “Today we stayed back in college for over four hours to listen to him, and he did not disappoint. We got to know through our parents that there were protests outside the college. I believe the protests were not needed as there is more to Mr Modi than the Gujarat riots of 2002. We can’t judge him for that alone. He needs to be heard and judged for the contribution he’s made to the state’s development.” Yes, Modi did not disappoint. He has not disappointed those who have democratically voted him to power term after term since 2002 (and this includes a certain section of Muslim voters in Gujarat as well). The reason clearly is what this student and so many others are smoothly disciplined to believe: his contribution to the state’s economic development is so laudable that we should not “judge him” for the 2002 pogrom.

This student goes as far as to uphold Modi’s freedom of speech: “he needs to be heard”, as if his speech has been censored by those who have persistently called his bluff. Yes he needs to be heard so that more and more people are captivated to become captive by the blinding effects that genocide and neoliberalism create when they come together. And they come together in the most innocuous fashion: through Modi’s calm, smiling face, and as was pointed out in my friend’s comment on FaceBook above, his good humour. He carries his development brief (of which the genocide was an intrinsic part) with wicked sincerity to the politics of cleansing and accumulation, drawing legitimacy not only from the Hindutva brigade, but also from the sham of a democratic process that has re-elected him four times in a row, and the collective support from the likes of the 1,800 students in SRCC, most of whom will end up holding high designations in some of the world’s and India’s largest corporations.

It is not surprising that I didn’t come across a single comment on FaceBook, blogs or other publications where at least one of those who attended the speech critically reflected on it. It seems like not only the physical space, but even the mind space of whose who attended his speech at SRCC was thoroughly cleansed and sanitised. And for anyone else who tried to reason otherwise, they were either accused of being Congress supporters or of not having the privilege of authenticity: you were not present, so you have no idea. The second accusation also plays out constantly against those who attempt to keep the memory of Gujarat 2002 alive from a distance: you have no right to speak, you’ve never been to Gujarat.

Banal, not exceptional

Commenting on the very relaxed demeanour of Adolf Otto Eichmann – the German Nazi who was one of the frontline organisers of the holocaust – right before his execution in Jerusalem in 1962, the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt referred to this very extreme normalisation of violence embodied in a person as the “banality of evil”. The phrase points to the fact that acts of tremendous brutality are not committed by demons, but by very regular people in what they consider are very regular actions in the course of their very regular duty. It is what the media analyst Edward S Herman has called “normalising the unthinkable”. The deep tragedy of the situation in India is that it’s not just Modi’s smile, but also our state of feeling captivated by his humour, and remaining captive in the narrative chronology where there’s Godhra and then there’s neoliberal economic development (and nothing exists in between) which has become the new banality of evil: a banality that we feed and keep alive every day: from Gujarat to Kandhamal to Khairlanji to Chhattisgarh to Manipur to Kashmir, going back to 1984 and Nellie. And that’s a truncated version of a very dirty laundry list that we cannot wash clean even with the most sophisticatedly manufactured neoliberal detergent.

For those of us who’ve remained committed to keeping the memories of Gujarat 2002 alive – through our teaching, writing, activism, films or just because we will not be fooled by the smokescreen of economic development – there is an urgent need to question our own representations of Modi as the monster mastermind. We must concede the fact that our construction of Modi as the demon has been powerfully countered by the image of Modi the deity worshipped by industrialists and a majority of Indians alike. We first turned Modi into an exceptional character, and that only aided his PR strategy to represent himself as an exceptional leader: who will beat anybody else hands down, be it in his seductive speeches attracting private investments, or his hate speeches that continue to spew anti-Muslim hatred. It is this exceptionalised construction of Modi that has taken attention away from the contingent, yet significant victories in the struggle for justice in Gujarat: the Naroda Patiya and Ode convictions. We need to treat Modi and his ilk as banal: a very troubling reflection of the way we have through our everyday and ordinary, and even secular practices, constructed and maintained India’s core as Hindu where a misogynist Ram and a predatory neoliberal market have become very comfortable bedfellows.

Predicaments of memorialisation

In our fight against forgetting Gujarat 2002, we must remain very cautious of the way we use exceptional icons – like the haunting photo of Qutubuddin Ansari begging for mercy from a Hindu mob or similar such phantasmagoric images of death and devastation – that make Gujarat 2002 stand out as an aberration in the collective imagination of this ostensibly secular republic, making that a reason for it to be forgotten. We need to be attentive to how in our overzealous attempts at remembering Gujarat, we arrogantly start to claim ownership of the private trauma of someone like Ansari who has time and again asked for his photo not to be used in reference to the pogrom.

Using “photographs of agony” – a phrase coined by John Berger – to make people remember a violent past might not always have the desired effect of shocking people out of their forgetting stupor, or lazy indifference. Sometimes it is the repeated use of these images that reduce their horror-generating quotient, and numb people to respond to them with concern. Images have the power of fixing meanings that make the subject of a photograph remain captive within its frames forever. Yet another response to the use of horrific images is for the perpetrators in power and their allies to claim higher moral ground and state that we are being irresponsible in using them – just the way in which L K Advani’s drivel in April 2002 claimed: “sometimes, speaking the truth may not be an act of responsibility” – which was nothing but an attempt at circumscribing truth. We need to guard against the appropriation of our efforts to aesthetically memorialise Gujarat, through images, films or something like the Museum of Resistance being planned in Gulberg Society, Ahmedabad, to serve the ends of political parties or corporate capital. CNN-IBN has already created and broadcast a film advertising the Museum of Resistance, and one wonders what their stakes are, apart from towing the obsessive “whatever it takes” line of journalism to get their TRPs up.

The impossibility of truth

Despite the copious amounts of incontrovertible evidence gathered by several independent fact-finding teams against Modi and the Gujarat government for its complicity, the several testimonies of victim-survivors clearly identifying the organisers, the Tehelka expose, the damning revelations by DIG Sanjiv Bhat, tireless efforts by Teesta Setalvad and several other human rights defenders to take the legal process for conviction and compensation ahead, the ‘truth’ about Gujarat 2002 will always be up against the behemoth of the state-corporation-Hindutva complex.

Be it Gujarat 2002 or Delhi 1984, we have had to fall back on a legal system controlled by the very state whose agents are being tried. This is a classic case of the ‘victor’s justice syndrome’ repeating itself in a domestic scenario (rather than international one) day in and day out as legal battles continue. And we pride ourselves for having an independent judiciary? It is no surprise that it took the NDA government no time to pass a draconian special security legislation like the Prevention of Terrorist Act after the December 13 Parliament Attack, or the UPA to strengthen the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act after the November 26 attacks in Bombay; but the Communal Violence Bill drafted in the wake of Gujarat 2002 lies in cold storage. Why would the state legislate on curbing its own impunity?

What hope do we have of justice when truth is an impossibility? When I went to Gujarat in 2002 as a student volunteer to work at the Shah Alam refugee camp in Ahmedabad and conduct interviews as part of yet another fact-finding team – as one of the many voyeuristic tourists deliciously consuming the trauma of others so that I could live to tell the tale of my sham heroism – I experienced something that changed my perspectives of justice and healing forever. At the end of a very taxing day of recording survivor testimonies, I was waiting for my colleague at the entrance of Shah Alam camp when I heard the laughter of children coming from within the dargah. In the midst of the injured and maimed, this sounded other-worldly. I followed the sound to the central courtyard of the dargah and saw a huge group of children (many of them orphaned) along with some very energetic members from a group called Play-for-Peace standing in a circle, holding hands and singing a very funny song called Bajra: about the everyday practice of grinding theBajra to make chapatis at home.

The chorus of so many children laughing and singing together was for that particular moment a magical feeling. Their laughter was infectious – everyone around joined the cacophony. The circle marked the formation of a very different kind of community: one joined in sorrow through laughter. In the non-competitive games, the children who made mistakes were never ‘out’, rather they occupied pride of position ‘in’ the circle to lead the game. The very serious-looking, serious-sounding, serious work that many bourgeoisie volunteers like me were doing looked poorly pretentious in the face of songs and games that could evoke spontaneous laughter in children who’ve either been orphaned, seen their family members brutally raped and killed or ‘disappeared’. I never knew that the power of collective laughter could not only heal but also arrest cycles of violence. This was an equally powerful way to mourn. Despite my privileged position of an outsider, who will eventually go back to safer quarters, playing with the children, and spending those few days in Ahmedabad laughing with them gave me a contingent sense of our shared commitment to mourning in precarious times: be it through crying, or laughter.

Beyond what the legal process will achieve, while our struggles against state impunity and the spectacular onslaught of neoliberalism continue, we need to think of ways in which we can use the powers of mourning to mobilise political communities of human beings, as Judith Butler says, joined through a shared feeling of loss and vulnerability, to forge ethical relationships that connect us with those whose lives were destroyed: not through sentimentality, but solidarity. Gujarat 2002 is paradigmatic of the brutality that a majoritarian secular democracy is capable of. We cannot undo this truth even if Modi is convicted. We can only hope to mourn together, laugh together and ensure that we never forget. That will be our lived truth.

The author is an academic currently based in Melbourne researching the legal, testimonial and aesthetic archives through which Gujarat 2002 is remembered and forgotten.

Infochange News & Features, February 2013

 

 

Medicine, monopoly and malice: documentary on access to medicines ‘Fire in the Blood


 

POSTED BY ARADDHYA MEHTTA ON FEB 20TH, 2013 IN ACCESS TO MEDICINESHIV AND AIDS | 

Fire in the BloodA new documentary film opening in UK and Irish cinemas this week tells the story of what its makers call “the Crime of the Century” – how available low-cost antiretroviral medicine was blocked from reaching Africa and other parts of the global south in the years after 1996. The film signals the dangers of the increasingly-perilous outlook for access to essential medicine in developing countries.

Fresh from its much-talked-about premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, last month, Fire in the Blood opens at the Irish Film Institute (IFI) in Dublin and the Prince Charles Cinema in London later this week. The film will be released in cinemas  across the UK on Monday 25th February.  The film tells a harrowing story of inhumanity and heroism, with a highly compelling cast of characters.  It details how it could come to pass that millions upon millions of people, primarily in Africa, were left to die horrible, painful deaths, while the drugs which could have saved them were being safely and cheaply produced and distributed just a short airplane ride away.

“I was curious to see what the reaction in the US would be”, says writer-director Dylan Mohan Gray.  “So much indoctrination about the necessity of high drug prices has gone on there that the Big Pharma Research & Development (R&D) defence is very much a sacred cow… even those with profound reservations about how the industry behaves tend to grudgingly accept its validity.  This is very easy for me to understand, since I was more or less that way myself when I began digging into all this.”  Gray was, however, gratified to discover that the American audiences who waited in line to attend six sold-out screenings at Sundance had much the same reaction after seeing the film that he had had when he began to work on the story.  “There is a very strong sense of betrayal when people find out what their governments have done in their name… and a very powerful conviction that the prevailing system of developing and commercialising medicine has to change”.

As the film points out, drug companies actually do very little basic research for drug discovery.  “84% of drug discovery research is funded by government and public sources”, says Gray, citing the landmark work of Professor Donald Light, “Pharmaceutical companies fund just 12% of such research, while the lion’s share of their spending goes into marketing and administration.”  These facts will come as little surprise to those familiar with the industry, but many have never really contemplated the repercussions of pricing essential medicines at levels only a tiny sliver of the world’s population can afford.

While the film tells the story of how multinational drug companies and the Western governments collaborated to keep low-cost generic AIDS drugs out of the hardest-hit countries at the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic – at a cost of ten million or more lives – it also tells the fascinating story of the unlikely group of people which came together in order to try and break this blockade.  Among this number were front-line doctors, HIV-positive activists, generic drugmakers, intellectual property specialists and individuals of global stature such as Desmond Tutu and Bill Clinton (both interviewed in the film).  “That’s what really set this story apart for me”, says Gray.  “It was a real-life David versus Goliath tale, full of incredibly interesting, daring, courageous mavericks who took on the world’s most powerful companies and governments to do what virtually everyone else at the time said was impossible (i.e. mass treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa), and against all odds they won…”

While the inspirational story of how low-cost generic AIDS drugs, first and foremost from India, came to save millions upon millions of lives in Africa (and beyond) is at the heart of FIRE IN THE BLOOD, the film concludes on a distinctly alarming note.  “The story this film tells was on the verge of being forgotten, something we can’t afford to let happen”, says Gray. The film details the tireless efforts of Western governments, working on behalf of industry, to impede and cut off supplies of affordable generic medicine from countries like India and Thailand to other parts of the global south, primarily by means of bi- and multilateral trade agreements which low- and middle-income countries are placed under enormous pressure to sign.

“The drug industry is stagnant, its pipeline is anemic and it has pinned all its future hopes on China and India”, notes Gray.  “Almost all these companies are publicly-traded, which means their bosses have to keep turning profits quarter-by-quarter if they want to try and keep their jobs… as they see it, they simply can’t afford to take a humanitarian view on issues of access.”  With the World Health Organisation having estimated that one-third of all deaths worldwide are attributable to treatable and preventable diseases, largely due to lack of access to medicine, the stakes could not be higher.

Meanwhile, for all its insistence that high prices are the only practical trade-off for an industry that spends so much money on R&D to find new and innovative medicines, Gray noted with a wry smile that the who’s who of senior pharma executives will be gathering in London for the industry’s can’t-miss event, the Pharma Summit, just a few days after FIRE IN THE BLOOD opens theatrically in the UK.  “I was amused, but not surprised, to read that the theme of this year’s summit is Should pharma cut its losses and get out of R&D?”.

Araddhya Mehtta is a global heath campaigner for Oxfam GB.

 

DMK chief M Karunanidhi seeks abolition of #deathpenalty


PTI Feb 18, 2013,
(M Karunanidhi said the hangings…)

CHENNAI: Renewing his demand for abolishing death penalty, DMK chief M Karunanidhi on Monday said the hangings being implemented now could have been prevented had the demand to do away with this sentence been given due consideration.

He recalled that former Supreme Court judge V R Krishna Iyer had strongly pitched for doing away with the death penalty in India and that 90 per cent of countries in the world had abolished it.

“In today’s situation, the Centre, legal experts and courts should ponder over this and seriously consider recommending removing hanging from the law books in the interest of human rights and humanity,” he said in a letter to partymen.

“Had this opinion (of abolition of death penalty), which is being stressed for a long time given due consideration, death penalties which are continuously being implemented now could have been prevented,” he said.

Karunanidhi said 26/11 Mumbai attacks convict Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack convictAfzal Guru were hanged by the government in recent months even as four aides of slain sandalwood smuggler Veerappan whose mercy petitions were rejected by President Pranab Mukherjee, have moved the Supreme Court.

The apex court on Monday stayed till further orders the execution of death sentence of the four, who were awarded capital punishment in 2004 for a landmine blast in Karnataka that left 22 police personnel dead.

 

“Hubris”: New Documentary Reexamines the Iraq War “Hoax”


The Curse of Saddam Hussein

 

 

 

An MSNBC film, hosted by Rachel Maddow and based on Michael Isikoff and David Corn‘s book, finds new evidence that Bush scammed the nation into war.

 

By David Corn, bloomberg

 

February 16, 2013 

 

 

A decade ago, on March 19, 2003, President George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq that would lead to a nine-year war resulting in 4,486 dead American troops, 32,226 service members wounded, and over 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians. The tab for the war topped $3 trillion. Bush did succeed in removing Saddam Hussein, but it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction and no significant operational ties between Saddam’s regime and Al Qaeda. That is, the two main assertions used by Bush and his crew to justify the war were not true. Three years after the war began, Michael Isikoff, then an investigative reporter for Newsweek (he’s since moved to NBC News), and I published Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, a behind-the-scenes account of how Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and their lieutenants deployed false claims, iffy intelligence, and unsupported hyperbole to win popular backing for the invasion.

 

Our book—hailed by the New York Times as “the most comprehensive account of the White House’s political machinations”—was the first cut at an important topic: how a president had swindled the nation into war with a deliberate effort to hype the threat. The book is now the basis for an MSNBC documentary of the same name that marks the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war. Hosted by Rachel Maddow, the film premieres Monday night in her usual time slot (9PM ET/PT). But the documentary goes beyond what Isikoff and I covered in Hubris, presenting new scoops and showing that the complete story of the selling of that war has yet to be told.

 

One chilling moment in the film comes in an interview with retired General Anthony Zinni, a former commander in chief of US Central Command. In August 2002, the Bush-Cheney administration opened its propaganda campaign for war with a Cheney speech at the annual Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. The veep made a stark declaration: “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us.” No doubt, he proclaimed, Saddam was arming himself with WMD in preparation for attacking the United States.

 

Zinni was sitting on the stage during the speech, and in the documentary he recalls his reaction:

 

It was a shock. It was a total shock. I couldn’t believe the vice president was saying this, you know? In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD, through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program. And that’s when I began to believe they’re getting serious about this. They wanna go into Iraq.

 

That Zinni quote should almost end the debate on whether the Bush-Cheney administration purposefully guided the nation into war with misinformation and disinformation.

 

But there’s more. So much more. The film highlights a Pentagon document declassified two years ago. This memo notes that in November 2001—shortly after the 9/11 attacks—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld met with General Tommy Franks to review plans for the “decapitation” of the Iraqi government. The two men reviewed how a war against Saddam could be triggered; that list included a “dispute over WMD inspections.” It’s evidence that the administration was seeking a pretense for war.

 

The yellowcake uranium supposedly bought by Saddam in Niger, the aluminum tubes supposedly used to process uranium into weapons-grade material, the supposed connection between Saddam and Osama bin Laden—the documentary features intelligence analysts and experts who at the time were saying and warning that the intelligence on these topics was wrong or uncertain. Yet administration officials kept using lousy and inconclusive intelligence to push the case for war.

 

Through the months-long run-up to the invasion, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, would become the administration’s No. 1 pitchman for the war with a high-profile speech at the UN, which contained numerous false statements about Iraq and WMD. But, the documentary notes, he was hiding from the public his deep skepticism. In the film, Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s chief of staff at the time, recalls the day Congress passed a resolution authorizing Bush to attack Iraq:

 

Powell walked into my office and without so much as a fare-thee-well, he walked over to the window and he said, “I wonder what’ll happen when we put 500,000 troops into Iraq and comb the country from one end to the other and find nothing?” And he turned around and walked back in his office. And I—I wrote that down on my calendar—as close for—to verbatim as I could, because I thought that was a profound statement coming from the secretary of state, former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff.

 

Wilkerson also notes that Powell had no idea about the veracity of the intelligence he cited during that UN speech: “Though neither Powell nor anyone else from the State Department team intentionally lied, we did participate in a hoax.”

 

A hoax. That’s what it was. Yet Bush and Cheney went on to win reelection, and many of their accomplices in this swindle never were fully held accountable. In the years after the WMD scam became apparent, there certainly was a rise in public skepticism and media scrutiny of government claims. Still, could something like this happen again? Maddow remarks, “If what we went through 10 years ago did not change us as a nation—if we do not understand what happened and adapt to resist it—then history says we are doomed to repeat it.”

 

David Corn is Mother Jones‘ Washington bureau chief.

 

Unconvincing #Aadhaar #UID


200 px

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My reason for going to listen to Nandan Nilekani at an Indian Express ‘adda’ last week was because I believe his Aadhaar programme is a huge hoax on the people of India but I have an open mind and am prepared to be convinced otherwise. I see it as a hoax because I believe that taxpayer’s money that could be much better spent on rural schools, roads, hospitals and sanitation is being squandered on a scheme that, in my view, has no obvious benefits and that is too centralised and directionless to make a real difference to reducing poverty if this is its real goal. From long years of reporting in rural India the most important lesson I have learned is that it is locally controlled development schemes that work best. Any scheme that is designed in distant Delhi and controlled from there generally ends up by mostly benefiting corrupt officials. I very much fear that this will happen to Aadhaar once it starts being used to transfer vast quantities of cash for destitute beneficiaries.  But, I have known Nandan since the days when he was in charge of Infosys and so have always been eager to understand why he agreed to lend his name to something that could end up as one of the Indian government’s biggest and most expensive white elephants.

The ‘adda’ was organised on a balmy evening in the Olive Restaurant near the racecourse in Mumbai. We gathered in a courtyard where white wicker chairs had been set in a semi-circle under a tall and beautiful tree. As dusk fell a gentle breeze brought with it the scent of stables and birds nestled in the tree with loud screeches.  Guests from the world of commerce and journalism mingled over glasses of white and red wine and delicious canapés. Nandan was at his amiable best and greeted old friends from his days as a student in the IIT in this city. I chose to avoid mingling and concentrate instead on finding a place as close to the stage as possible so that I could be better positioned to ask Nandan a question or two. This turned out not to be such a good strategy because Nandan spotted me while he was expounding on the benefits of his Aadhaar scheme and informed the gathering that everyone thought Aadhaar was a good idea ‘except Tavleen’ thereby ambushing me before I could get to asking my question.

Mister India
Shekhar Gupta was in conversation with Nandan and gave me my chance to ask my questions soon enough. I asked Nandan to explain what he believed would be the main benefit of the Aadhaar scheme, when we should expect to see it happen and why he thought biometrics could work in rural India on such a massive scale when they did not work atLondon airport on a much smaller scale. The Iris machines at Heathrow are supposed to allow you in without needing to have your passport examined by an immigration officer but it has been my experience that they are nearly always out of order or fail to recognise me when they work. Nandan answered only the biometrics part of the question by saying that 300 million people had already been enrolled so this meant that the biometrics were working already. He said a million people were being registered for an Aadhaar number every day. He did not answer the rest of the question and I thought it would be churlish to point this out but the day after the ‘adda’ I went to the Aadhaar registration centre in Colaba to see if it was functioning any better than it did when I last went there some months ago.

At that time I made two efforts to register and somehow always ended up on a day when the centre was closed. So this time I sent someone to get the registration form for me in advance and was astonished to see that it was a two-page document on paper of such inferior quality that it would not survive a single year in a government file.  I wrote out my name, address and telephone number and last Monday went personally to the Colaba centre. It is in the dank, smelly basement of a municipal school and as far from modernity and biometrics as you can imagine. The small army of officials that man the centre work with rudimentary tools amid a scattering of cheap chairs and tables. A small wrought iron gate, that is permanently closed, separates them from the applicants queuing in the street outside.

Kafkaesque queues
When I joined the queue there were about fifty people ahead of me and they said they had been waiting a long time and did not think they would manage to register that day because there were signs that the centre was about to close. The man in front of me said, ‘I have come and queued here before and I have seen that they close fifteen minutes early and open fifteen minutes late. That is how it is every day.’ I asked why he wanted an Aadhaar card and he said it was because he had been told it was compulsory. When I talked to other people in the queue they confirmed that they were registering only because they had been told that if they did not then they would not be able to get cheap rations at government ration shops. They added that they had heard that it would not even be possible to get a passport without an Aadhaar card. They were people who seemed too poor to ever be able to travel to another country but what worried them was the possibility that they would lose their identity as Indian citizens.

In my own case I never got to hand in my registration form that morning because the centre closed before I could so I went back the next day and to my surprise found the centre closed. When I asked why it was closed two women officials said that the next date for accepting forms would be on Sunday at 10 a.m. Nobody explained why and so ended my fourth visit to this Aadhaar centre without having been able to take the first step towards getting my unique identification number. If my own experience is anything to go by it could take another two decades to register a billion Indians and by then people will have stopped wondering what the purpose of the scheme was in the first place.

 

 

 

Colorado Schools says women should urinate or vomit to deter a rapist #WTFnews #Vaw


By Lateef Mungin, CNN
February 20, 2013 — Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
Watch this video

(CNN) — A Colorado school has caused a stir with an advisory that suggested women could urinate or vomit to deter a rape.

The list of 10 tips by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs was billed as “last resort” options to deter a sexual assault.

“Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating,” read one tip.

“Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone,” read another.

By Tuesday night, the list was taken down and replaced by an explanation and an apology. But it was too late.

The backlash had hit the Internet, and a hashtag on Twitter was created.

Conservative blogger Michelle Malkin was one of many who criticized the eyebrow-raising list using the hashtag #UCCSTips.

“New #UCCSTips for women: If vomiting or urinating doesn’t deter your attacker, try passing gas,” Malkin tweeted.

“#UCCSTips or if all else fails, ask attacker to pull your finger!” Jason Griggs tweeted.

Police: Man raped woman he met on Christian dating website

Some women on the Colorado campus said they were confused by the list.

“Tell your attacker you have a disease or menstruating? I don’t understand how that will keep someone from attacking you,” student Leah McFann told CNN affiliate KRDO.

Some on campus also wondered why the list did not emphasize more conventional ways of fighting back.

Tom Hutton, a spokesman for the university, said the list had been taken out of context.

“It was part of supplemental information intended for women who had completed a self-defense class on campus,” Hutton told KRDO.

Gang rape victim fights back for girls’ education

Hutton said the list was created in 2006 but may have resurfaced because the issue of rape on campus had been in the news recently in Colorado.

Last week, Colorado lawmakers debated legislation that would ban firearms in college campus buildings. The debate made headlines after Democratic State Rep. Joe Salazar made controversial statements about ways to protect women on campuses.

“Because you just don’t know who you are going to be shooting at,” Salazar said last week. “If you feel like you’re going to be raped or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble and when you may actually not be — that you pop out that gun and you pop-pop a round at somebody. And you might have just made a mistake.”

Salazar later apologized for the comment.

 

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