Women Bill to curb sexual harassment in workplaces passed in Rajya Sabha #Vaw #Womenrights


 #India - Lets  ALL Resolve for  FREEDOM  from VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN this New Year #mustshare

 

PTI

Cases of sexual harassment of women at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by inhouse committees within a period of 90 days failing which penalty of Rs 50,000 would be imposed.

Repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, can even lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.

The Bill, which has already been passed by Lok Sabha, was unanimously passed by Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath promising to follow up the legislation with strict rules for its implementation.

The legislation brings in its ambit even domestic workers and agriculture labourers, both organised and unorganised sectors.

As per the Act, sexual harassment includes any one or more of unwelcome acts or behaviour such as physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.

The acts or behaviour whether directly, or by implication, include any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.

It has also provisions for safeguard against false or malicious charges.

The Bill makes it mandatory that all offices, hospitals, institutions and other workplaces should have an internal redressal mechanism for complaints related to sexual harassment.

The Act defines domestic worker as a woman employed to do household work in any household for remuneration whether in cash or kind, either directly or through any agency on temporary, permanent, part time or full time basis, but does not include any member of the family of the employer.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee, which had examined the Bill, had held the firm view that preventive aspects reflected in it has to be strictly in line with the Supreme Court guidelines in the 1997 Vishaka case.

The apex court’s judgement in the case not only defines sexual harassment at workplace but also lays down guidelines for its prevention and disciplinary action.

 

The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP)’s reforms: transformative or cosmetic? #medicalethics


Rema Nagarajan
25 February 2013, 08:14 PM IST, TNN

The Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP)’s has dismantled its Committee on Immunisation which recommends vaccines to be included in the annual immunization schedule. It is being reconstituted as IAP Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Immunisation Practices. (ACVIP).

The IAPCOI, which was almost entirely funded by vaccine manufacturers, was under a cloud following criticism about issues of conflict of interest.

In IAP’s new committee on immunization members have to abide by a very strict code of conduct and also have to sign a pretty exhaustive declaration of conflict of interest stating whether they, their employer or their immediate family members have received any money or travel grant or favour from a commercial business, industry association or research association or other enterprises with an interest related to the subject of the meeting or work. The declaration also includes statements about research support including grants, collaborations, sponsorships and other funding the person or his department or research unit might have received. It also includes non-monetary support for research such as equipment, research assistants, facilities, paid travel to meetings, investments such  as stocks, bonds, securities, in a commercial and so on. Plus, the members have to have undergone some training in the field of immunization and vaccines.

The brand name Rotarix is prominently displayed inside the hall of the PEDICON conference held last month, though IAP claims it does not promote brands

The brands Synflorix and Rotarix of GSK, a major sponsor of the conference displayed prominently all over the conference venue

Doctors thronging the stalls put up by various pharma companies especially vaccine manufacturers

Secretary general of IAP Dr Sailesh Gupta pointed out that all doctors’ associations take money, whether it is gynaecology association or the cardiology association of India, as they cannot conduct training without pharma support.

“Why only pharma? There should be concern about us taking funding from WHO or the UNICEF. Even they have an agenda. For example, UNICEF also promotes food products for children. So, even with these international agencies they will want to promote a particular food product they are using in say Africa. So, we need to be careful with them also,” said Dr Gupta. He added that there were very few organisations which were doing something about conflict of interest like the IAP.

Dr Gupta said that Medical Council of India (MCI) was not responsive to doctors’ concerns. “MCI never responds to any letter we send. Sometime back we were organising two conferences which were being funded by pharma companies. We wrote to the MCI seeking clarification regarding this. We got no response from them. Finally, we hired a lawyer specialised in MCI regulations who assured us that there was nothing amiss in conducting the conference. If MCI clarifies that organisations cannot take funds at all from pharma we will abide by that.”

He further explains: “We understand that the public has concerns about conflict of interest in us taking funding from pharma. But when we make recommendations we give an entire armament of medication for a condition and not by brand name. We ensure that pharma does not advertise inside the area where the programme is taking place even when a company is funding a session or workshop or training. We only use generic names and the only credit is to say that the programme is supported by so and so company. We are very careful about conflict of interest.”

While it is true that IAP is making efforts to address conflict of interest in its immunisation committee, it is not entirely true that IAP does not promote brands or that they do not allow advertising inside where programmes take place. A few photos from IAP’s annual conference Pedicon held just last month, show that industry particularly vaccine industry was visible everywhere and even during sessions their advertisements were being projected. Members were also being given gifts by companies at their stalls.

Is this a case of more things change, the more they remain the same? Or, is there a genuine effort to change illegal funding practices and address conflict of interest issues?

Should malnourished children of Gujarat eat Modi’s roads and factories? #JusticeKatju


TAGS: Markandey Katju |Narendra Modi | Arun Jaitley |BJP | Pakistani newspaper |Gujarat riots | Gujarat riots 2002
(Left) Markandey Katju and Narendra Modi(Left) Markandey Katju and Narendra Modi
(Left) PCI Chairman Markandey Katju and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi
 Two weeks after stirring controversy over his remarks

Two weeks into controversy over his remarks in his blog against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Press Council of India (PCI) chairman, Justice (retired) Markandey Katju, has targeted the BJP heavyweight once again.
In his latest attack on Modi, Katju has written in a Pakistani newspaper, criticising the Gujarat chief minister, holding him responsible for the 2002 riots in the state.

The BJP hit out at the former Supreme Court judge over his latest article “Should malnourished children of Gujarat eat roads, electricity and factories, which Modi has created?”

Gujarat BJP leader Jay Narayan Vyas said, “I am not surprised with this. Justice Katju is a retired justice. They (people in Pakistan) would try to establish a relation similar to Nazism. It proves that it is an irresponsible statement. There are some reasonable restrictions also. The enemy country uses it for making a case at international level.”

“We can’t expect them to leave such an opportunity. They have related the Nazi massacre with the Gujarat case. Justice Katju should follow the reasonable restrictions. The government has acquired a soft status on the cross-border terrorism. The UPA government is divided in many segments. It think the government has failed in this aspect also like in economic aspect,” Vyas said holding the UPA government responsible for the PCI chief’s attack on Modi.

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said, “What Justice Katju writes is not taken seriously by anyone. But if someone writes about internal Indian politics in Pakistan, then an issue rises that if a judge can get involved in internal politics. He mentioned that he wrote so as an independent citizen. If Katjuji wants to do politics, then he should do politics.”

“Everybody has a freedom to write and express. He says he is writing in his capacity as a citizen… He is an active member of ‘hate Modi campaign’. He is doing politics. He cannot separate his two roles when he is already heading a constitutional body,” he said.

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid, however, defended the PCI chief and the UPA government in the latest controversy.

“Justice Katju is a retired officer. In our nation, everyone has a right to put forth his/her views. Where does it get published, we cannot have a control over that,” the minister said.

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/narendra-modi-markandey-katju-pakistani-newspaper/1/251673.html

 

हाथों की लकीरें मिट गईं तो कैसे बने आधार कार्ड? #Aadhaar #UID #biometrics


 

 

मजदूर जिसने बयां की ‘आधार’ की कहानी

 नवभारत टाइम्स | Feb 25, 2013, 06.52PM IST

एसपी रावत

 

कुरुक्षेत्र।। कंप्यूटर ने एक ओर जहां इंसान के कई कामों को आसान बना दिया है, वहीं दिन-रात मजदूरी करके अपने परिवार का पेट पालने वाले हजारों मजदूरों के लिए यह मुसीबत बन गया है। कंप्यूटर मजदूरों के हाथों की उन लकीरें को नहीं पढ़ पा रहा है जो रात-दिन मजदूरी करने के बाद धुंधली पड़ गई हैं।

 

हरियाणा के यमुनानगर जिले के मजदूरों को उस वक्त निराशा हाथ लगी जब अधिकारियों ने कहा कि जब तक कंप्यूटर उनके हाथों की लकीरों को नहीं पढ़ेगा तब तक उनका ‘आधार कार्ड’ नहीं बन सकता।

 

गौरतलब है कि आजकल पूरे देश में आधार कार्ड बनाए जाने की प्रक्रिया चल रही है। उसी के तहत यमुनानगर जिला में भी जगह-जगह पर आधार कार्ड बनाने का काम चल रहा है। आधार कार्ड बनाने वाले अधिकारियों और कर्मचारियों का कहना है कि काम करते-करते मेहनतकश लोगों के हाथों की रेखाएं ही मिट गई हैं। इन हस्तरेखाओं को ही पैमाना मानकर आधार कार्ड बनाया जा रहा है।

 

 

 

 

अधिकारियों का कहना है कि बार-बार मजदूरों की हस्तरेखाएं लेने की कोशिश की गई, लेकिन कंप्यूटर पर रेखाएं न दिखने की वजह से उनका आधार कार्ड नहीं बन सकता। अब इसे मजदूरों की किस्मत का खेल कहें या मजबूरी? क्योंकि दिनरात मेहनत कर जो हाथ झोंपड़ी से लेकर महल तक का निर्माण करते हैं आज उन्हें ही उनके हक से महरूम रखा जा रहा है।

 

आधार कार्ड बनाने वाले कर्मचारी कहते हैं कि जब इन मजदूरों के हाथ की उंगलियों के निशान लेने के लिए इनके हाथों को कंप्यूटर पर रखा जाता है तो कोई रेखा नजर नहीं आती है। मजदूर दर्शन सिंह और राजेंद्र प्रसाद का कहना है कि इसमें हमारा तो कोई कसूर नहीं है। हम तो अपना और अपने परिवार का पेट पालने के लिए मेहनत मजदूरी करते हैं। देश भर में चल रहे निर्माण कार्यों में मजदूरों की अहम भूमिका है। अगर हम अपने हाथ की रेखाओं को देखेंगे तो हमें कोई मजदूरी पर नहीं रखेगा।

 

उन्होंने कहा कि सरकार को कोई ऐसी व्यवस्था करनी चाहिए जिससे उन्हें भी आधार कार्ड का लाभ मिले सके। उधर, यमुनानगर के डीआईओ रमेश गुप्ता का कहना है कि यूनिक आइडेंटिफिकेशन के लिए आधार कार्ड बनाए जा रहे हैं और इसके लिए आइब्रोज़, फिंगरप्रिंट और आईडी प्रूफ की जरूरत होती है। मजदूरों के आधार कार्ड बायॉमैट्रिक्स स्कैन न होने के कारण नहीं बन पा रहे हैं लेकिन यूआईडी के दूसरे वर्जन में यह कमी दूर कर ली जाएगी। भारत में सबके आधार कार्ड बनेंगे, हां इसमें कुछ समय लग सकता है।

 

उन्होंने बताया कि यमुनानगर में 10 से 12 जगहों के अलावा कई इंस्टिट्यूट में भी आधार कार्ड बन रहे हैं। भविष्य में डायरेक्ट ट्रांसफर स्कीम के तहत एससी और ओबीसी बच्चों का स्टाइपेंड उनके खाते में आएगा। उन्होंने बताया कि यमुनानगर में अब तक लगभग डेढ़ से दो लाख आधार कार्ड बन चुके हैं। खासतौर पर यमुनानगर और पानीपत में मजदूरों की संख्या काफी अधिक है। फ़ॉरेंसिक एक्सपर्ट्स का कहना है कि अपराध के मामले में 15-20 प्रतिशत लकीरें आने से भी काम चल जाता है लेकिन आधार कार्ड के मामले में यह नियम लागू नहीं है।

 

Maternity Leave Boost May Backfire in Turkey #Vaw #womenrights


By Jennifer Hattam

WeNews correspondent

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Amid calls for Turkish women to have more children, a proposal to lengthen the paid maternity leave allowance raises fears that it may actually hinder women’s work force participation.

 

 

A Turkish woman stands inside a mosque in Istanbul.
A Turkish woman stands inside a mosque in Istanbul.

 ISTANBUL, Turkey (WOMENSENEWS)–A government proposal to lengthen the duration of paid maternity leave from four months to six months is generating apprehension rather than applause from women in Turkey.

“It is a positive development in principle, but may become an obstacle for women to return to work,” Gulden Turktan, the Istanbul-based president of the Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGIDER), toldWomen’s eNews.

Women already start facing barriers in working life once they get pregnant, added Nur Ger, the founder and CEO of the Istanbul-based SUTEKS Textiles and the chair of the Turkish Industry and Business Association’s gender equality working group.

“There is a tendency among employers to avoid hiring pregnant women since they will need to take their [maternity] leave soon,” she said.

The maternity leave discussion currently underway in the Turkish cabinet comes amid increasing pressure on Turkish women to have more children. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been calling since 2008 for women to have “at least three” children to revitalize the country’s slowing population growth.

Turkey’s fertility rate dropped to 2.02 in 2011, just below the replacement level of 2.1. Meanwhile, the median age of the country’s population inched above 30 last year for the first time.

This year, Erdogan has upped the ante, saying in January that “we need four to five [children per family] to carry the country forward,” assigning four government ministers to work on population policy and floating proposals for family-expanding incentives, such as free fertility treatments for low-income couples.

A Larger Goal

As with his outrage last year about abortions and Caesarean sections, which he characterized as “secret plots” to hinder the country’s growth, Erdogan has framed his push for a bigger, younger population as part of a larger goal: To make Turkey one of the world’s top 10 economies by 2023, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Turkish Republic. (It currently ranks 17th.)

That goal, though, would be better served by increasing women’s participation in the paid work force,KAGIDER’s Turktan told Women’s eNews.

“It is very basic arithmetic: If you leave half of the resources untapped, your growth potential remains limited,” she said. “Currently, the female employment rate is 26 percent, [meaning that] of around 26 million women of working age, only 6.9 million are employed. This is a huge wasted potential.”

Though the number of working women is slowly growing, Ger noted that the government’s aim for 2023 is only to have 35 percent female participation in the work force. “When compared to the current status, this does not seem like a very challenging target,” she said.

The quality of the country’s labor force is as important as its quantity, added economist Gokce Uysal, thevice director of the Bahcesehir University Center for Economic and Social Research.

“Monetary incentives to increase fertility rates work predominantly on the poorer segments of the population, who may not have the means to invest properly in the ‘human capital’ of their children,” Uysal told Women’s eNews.

She is calling for comprehensive education reform. The average person in Turkey gets just 6.5 years of schooling, and only half as many women as men attain a secondary or higher level of education, according to the United Nations Development Programme.

Child Care Subsidy Push

The lack of subsidized child care is another major barrier to Turkish women’s full participation in the work force.

“If the prime minister wants each Turkish family to have at least three children, then the government must create a sustainable, state-funded child care system. Otherwise this will not work,” Turktan said. “A working mother with three children can only be a reality with child-care help.”

A monthly child-care subsidy to working women would “pay back twice as much,” according to research conducted by KAGIDER and PricewaterhouseCoopers, in increased employment and the expansion and formalization of Turkey’s child-care sector, she said.

Under a current law that is also up for amendment, companies are responsible for providing child care if they employ more than 150 women.

“This acts as a disincentive for firms as it increases the relative cost of female workers,” Uysal said. “Maternity leave has a similar effect. We should have paternity leave for fathers as well, which should not be transferable.”

Shared parental leave is becoming increasingly common in Europe, where Sweden and Germany both mandate that at least two months of their generous paid leave be taken by fathers. Workers’ unions and women’s organizations in Turkey – including the women’s branch of Erdogan’s own ruling political party – have lobbied for similar measures since at least 2009, but without success.

Adopting a system of parental leave rather than maternity leave would “work toward equalizing the costs of female and male workers. Moreover, it would help tilt the household division of labor away from a traditional gender-based one,” Uysal told Women’s eNews.

Women in Turkey spend four more hours per day than men engaged in household and caregiving activities, compared to a difference of just over an hour in the Nordic countries, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index.

“A traditional gender-based division of labor at home is one of the strongest barriers against female labor force participation,” Uysal said. “We need to acknowledge this and start fighting it.”

Jennifer Hattam is a freelance journalist based in Istanbul, where she writes about environmental, social and urban issues, as well as the arts, culture, and travel.

#India- Well got robbed in Amravati #WTFnews


 

By Jai Maharashtra News | 23 Feb Sat, 2013 |

Amravati: In a very strange case here at Amravati, a village named Kovala Jateshwar, which is almost 50 km away from Amravati, the local villagers are facing a unique problem.

The locals have complained that the well in their village has gone missing. They claimed that their well has been stolen.

Under the National Drinking water policy, two years ago, the village was granted Rs 36 lakh to avail the supply of drinking water.

Under this policy a water hole and water tank was build. But in fact one cannot see any of these in the village. Later the villagers found out that the well showed by the Grampanchayat actually belonged to a peasant.

Apparently the locals are wondering where the well actually went.

According to the sources, the documents have record stating that the work of the water hole and water tank is completed. But the fact is, until now no well is built in this village, only a pit is formed to build the well. The process to build water tank has not even started.

The village has only one drinking water pool through which the local villagers use to fill water. The local people are blaming the Grampanchayat for this situation.

When the state is severely hit by the drought, one cannot believe the fact that funds raised from the government policies are being misused.

 

Guilty until proven innocent? #fabricated #illegalarrests #minorityrights


  hoot.org
Siddiqui is, of course, not the first journalist to be implicated in terrorism-related cases, though he is certainly among those whose predicament has not attracted due attention from media colleagues or civil society, says AMMU JOSEPH.
 

A charge-sheet against 12 persons accused of links with banned terrorist organisations and involvement in an alleged plot to kill certain individuals, including a couple of journalists and a publisher, was submitted by the National Investigation Agency to the NIA Special Court in Bangalore on 20 February 2013.  Eleven of the accused have been in custody for nearly six months while one is believed to be out of the country. 

Four of the 15 individuals arrested in August-September 2012 by the Central Crime Branch of the Bangalore Police have not been named in the charge-sheet.  Among them is a young journalist, Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui, who at the time of his arrest was a reporter with Deccan Herald, covering education.

 

The NIA has reportedly stated that the investigation against the four left out of the charge-sheet is still pending, and the possibility of a supplementary charge-sheet naming them has not yet been officially ruled out.  However, the young men’s advocates and families claim that their exclusion from the first charge-sheet indicates that the investigating agency has no evidence against them.  The legal team of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) is likely to submit an application for bail for the four who have not been charged with any crime despite months of incarceration. 

 

Siddiqui’s arrest had initially caused a sensation in media circles, especially since police sources (ubiquitous and omniscient as ever) claimed that he was “the mastermind who identified high-profile personalities for assassination by his associates.”  The Times of India, for example, carried a headline stating this clearly premature allegation as fact (“Scribe was mastermind”) even though the story went on to say that people who knew Siddiqui said he was “a soft-spoken person who was serious about journalism and helpful to colleagues,” and “never wore his extremist beliefs, if any, on his sleeve.” 

 

(Other articles and blog posts about media coverage of the involvement of journalists in the case, as accused and/or as targets, are available here:  “Bangalore journo in plot to kill editors, publisher?”;  “Anti-minority bias behind foiled bid on journos?”;  “Police, media and the creature called ‘terrorist’”.)

 

Siddiqui’s situation was among the several triggers that led to a panel discussion titled “The framing of a ‘terrorist’ – Risks and lessons for the media” organised by Media Watch Bengaluru(MWB) in the city on 16 February.  Although the dots drawn by the police to suggest that those detained were linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and/or Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) did not appear to connect, and even a former chief of RAW questioned the quality of evidence in the case, there was unfortunately little follow-up or independent investigation by the media into what has been described as “one of the most thrilling pre-emptive terror arrests.”

 

Journalists implicated in terror cases

Siddiqui is, of course, not the first journalist to be implicated in terrorism-related cases, though he is certainly among those whose predicament has not attracted due attention from media colleagues or civil society.

KK Shahina, Kerala-based Assistant Editor of Open, is scheduled to appear on 22 February at the sessions court in Somwarpet in Kodagu district, Karnataka, in the first hearing of the two criminal cases booked against her in two separate courts, which will necessitate two trips a month to and from the state. 

 

Already, since July 2011, when she was granted bail by the High Court of Karnataka, she has had to make fortnightly visits to Bangalore to present herself before the investigating officer.  Speaking at the MWB event last Saturday she described the ordeal she has been through since November 2010, when the Karnataka Police charged her under several sections of the Indian Penal Code as well Section 22 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 – all for doing her job as an investigative journalist then with Tehelka (as described in her recent article, “Prisoner of an image,” and her speech at the 2011 Chameli Devi Jain award ceremony, “I am a Muslim, not a terrorist”). 

 

Despite protests and statements against such harassment by journalists’ organisations (like the Kerala Union of Working Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists) and others, the cases against her seem all set to march on.

 

 

 

(An update: Today, Shahina secured bail from the Somwarpet magistrate Jitendra Nath in Coorg amidst a lot of tension due to protests from hindu fundamentalists. They tried to intimidate her supporters and gheraoed her ‘hindu’ friend and unsuccessfully tried to dissuade him from standing surety for her! Shahina had decided to have two friends – a hindu and a muslim – to stand surety for her and the hindu fundamentalists targeted the hindu friend.

Also, they tried to snatch the camera of a news channel – media one – and get them to delete the recording.  Shahina and her supporters had to leave the area under police escort. While this case is posted to March 30, she is to appear in another case in madikeri on February 26).   

Syed Iftikhar Gilani’s traumatic experience of a decade ago came back to haunt him within hours of the execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru on 9 February. 

Gilani, then Delhi bureau chief of Kashmir Times, was arrested in June 2002.  Despite the lack of proof, he was remanded first to police custody, then judicial custody and finally charged under the Official Secrets Act. If the case had been moved against him, he would have faced a minimum of 14 years in jail. Fortunately for him, an expose in the Indian Express, and follow-up by his family and supporters (including the Delhi Union of Journalists, the Editors’ Guild of India and other media colleagues), established conclusively that the so-called “classified” documents in his possession were reports that were freely available on the Internet.  And so the case against him had to be dropped, albeit seven months after he was detained.

Despite this and despite his track record since then, including an award from theSahityaAkademi, he was again detained and his family (including his children) harassed and intimidated by the Delhi Police just a fortnight ago.

And, of course, there is the ongoing case of Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, accused of conspiring to bomb an Israeli embassy car in Delhi in February 2012 and finally released on bail in October, after being held in custody for seven months.

In July 2012 a group of senior journalists, academics and activists in Delhi wrote to the editors of The Times of India and Times Now, strongly protesting against stories that were “highly prejudicial to Mr. Syed Kazmi, a journalist himself,” and the apparent “attempt to pass judgement on Mr. Kazmi” through their media outlets.  Unfortunately, that letter – providing details of the offending stories – does not seem to have been published anywhere.

In August-September 2012 the global news agency, Inter Press Service, ran a three-part series by an award-winning investigative journalist (Gareth Porter) titled, “The Delhi Car Bombing: How the Police Built a False Case.” The articles exposed the tactics employed by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, including the leaking of false confessions and evidence to the news media. 

According to the series, the first wave of leaks to the press about Kazmi’s alleged confessions – suggesting that he had admitted to having participated in the embassy car bomb plot – were timed to generate a wave of sensational articles in March 2012, just before his first bail application.  That manoeuvre apparently prompted the court hearing the bail application to admonish the public prosecutor.  Kazmi himself denounced the “disclosure statements” attributed to him as false, stating in a handwritten petition to the court that the Special Cell had coerced him into providing his signature on blank pages, threatening that his family would face “dire consequences” if he did not do as they directed.

A 200-page report titled “Framed, Damned, Acquitted: Dossiers of a Very Special Cell,” brought out by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, was released in September 2012, coincidentally soon after Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui and others were  arrested by the Bangalore Police.  The detailed report, relying mainly on court documents, chronicles 16 cases in which people arrested as operatives of various terrorist groups were later acquitted by the courts.  Of course, acquittals do not generally make as much news as arrests – so their names are often not cleared in the minds of the public.

At an interaction organised by the Network of Women in Media – Mumbai in February 2003, Syed Iftekhar Gilani made several interesting observations about the media, which are worth revisiting.  Of particular relevance in today’s context is this comment addressed to media colleagues:  “My message to journalist friends is that if they can do it with me, they can do it with you tomorrow. My case should be a wake-up call for all journalists and concerned citizens. I was lucky to be in the capital of the country and have friends who had the reach in the Government to persuade its political leadership to see the facts. I, however, shudder at the fate of the citizens living in small towns who may be wronged by the arms of the Government who are supposed to protect them. Who will speak for them?”

Bangalore is not exactly a small town.  But, as far as Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui and the other young men who have already been in custody for close to six months are concerned, it might as well be.

 

 

IIT-K alumni honour Rahul Sharma,while Modi Govt Chargesheets him #WTFnews


Ajay Umat | TNN 

Ahmedabad: The IIT-Kanpur Alumni Association has decided to confer on Gujarat IPS officer Rahul Sharma the prestigious Satyendra Dubey Memorial Award. The award is to be presented on March 3 at Kanpur but Sharma has not made up his mind yet on whether to attend the function.

Best-known whistleblower Satyendra Dubey (1973-2003) was a project director at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). He was murdered in Gaya, Bihar after fighting corruption in the Golden Quadrilateral highway construction project. Like Dubey, Sharma is an

alumnus of IIT-Kanpur. The award is meant for IITians and had gone to Arvind Kejriwal, a graduate from IIT-Kharagpur, in the past.

But, there is a big catch here. Clause 12 of All India Service Rules states that if an officer gets an award, he/she has to seek permission of the government before accepting it. The chances of the government granting permission to Sharma to attend the event in Kanpur are nil.

Sharma has been charged-sheeted by the Narendra Modi government for not taking permission before submitting call data records of certain persons to judicial inquiry commissions to prove their complicity in the 2002 post-Godhra riots. The records had helped nail the truth in the Naroda Patia case where former minister Maya Kodnani was among those who were convicted.

Sharma’s records include the phones of Modi’s office, politicians and police officers and, besides revealing who was talking to whom, it shows their movements during the peak hours of rioting on February 28, 2002.

A 1992-batch IPS officer, Sharma is also being recognised as a saviour of 200 children in a madrassa in Bhavnagar which was surround- ed by a mob on

the same day. Sharma was moved out of his position as SP, western railway, on February 26 — a day before the S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express was burnt in Godhra.

He was transferred as SP Bhavnagar and he tackled the Godhra aftermath effectively. Even the Union home minister L K Advani had praised his actions in parliament. But after he submitted the CD in 2004, he has been given sideline postings and harassed by bosses with dozens of memos on the smallest of issues. Presently, he is posted as DIG, Special Reserve Police, Vadodara.

#Aadhaar a ploy to deny subsidies #UID


Special Correspondent, The Hindu

The two left parties, CPI (M) and the CPI, along with their frontal units, have expressed anguish over the spate of problems confronting residents and the working class living under Tirupati Municipal Corporation and in its outlaying colonies.

CPI’s State committee member, P. Harinadha Reddy, district party secretary, A. Rama Naidu and other leaders while addressing a workers’ meeting here on Sunday highlighted the non-distribution of ‘Aadhaar’ cards, though the fate of poor and middle class hinged heavily on it to get their LPG cylinders, social security payments in to their bank accounts and what not.

The CPI leaders also criticised the UPA government saying they were using ‘Aadhaar’ card as a ploy to deny citizens their social security benefits, subsidised cooking gas and other benefits.

It was in this context that the leaders renewed their call for a ‘joint fight’ by the two left parties against the ‘indifferent attitude’ of the Central and State governments against the problem of people. City party unit leaders, R. Venkaiah, Chinnam Penchalaiah and others spoke.

Meanwhile, CPI (M) expressed concern not only over the gross understaffing of the wing manning the Underground Drainage System (UDS) in the city (barely 20 to cover 50 divisions) but also on the problem of ‘erratic levels’ in the Underground Drainage System network which cause sewage water to be flooding the roads daily somewhere in the city.

 

 

#India-Can Hindutva win votes? #minorityrights


Tariq Thachil : Mon Feb 25 2013, IE
Narendra modi

The answer varies across castes, communities, and local contexts

Winning consecutive elections in India is not easy. The attention given to the BJP‘s third consecutive triumph in Gujarat‘s state assembly elections is therefore understandable. The party’s 2012 victory prompted a flurry of analyses of how the BJP’s prospects in the 2014 parliamentary polls might have shifted, and of the viability of Chief Minister Narendra Modi as a prime ministerial candidate. Modi’s three-peat also invites analysts to think about the electoral appeal of Hindutva, especially since his campaigns and tenure have been so infamously identified with an aggressive Hindu nationalism. For the past decade, most observers of Indian politics have believed the electoral appeal of Hindutva to be on the decline. Does the BJP’s Gujarat victory suggest this decline can be arrested, or even reversed? Or does it indicate that the BJP can only succeed by emphasising claims of “development” and “good governance”?

Any attempt to analyse the electoral salience of Hindutva requires thinking carefully through a number of thorny issues.

First, and most simply, it is important to remember that we cannot equate votes for the BJP with ideological support for Hindutva. Not all supporters of the BJP are supportive of Hindutva, and not all supporters of Hindutva let this preference determine their vote choice. Yet there has been a widespread and persistent tendency to equate these two phenomena, leading to “conventional wisdom” that Hindutva’s appeal can be measured by the BJP’s performance at the polls: rising during the 1980s, peaking during the early 1990s, and steadily declining since then. More systematic analyses of voter surveys trouble such linear narratives, and point us in the more productive direction of analysing the degree to which these two phenomena are related in specific places and periods.

For example, statistical analyses of data from Lokniti’s National Election Study have helped uncover considerable variation in the importance of Hindutva even within the BJP’s support base in a given election. Such analyses show that support for key Hindu nationalist positions (such as building a Ram temple at Ayodhya or banning religious conversions) do indeed consistently distinguish upper castes who support the BJP from those who don’t.

Further, the overall prevalence of pro-Hindutva sentiments among upper-caste voters has been quite stable since the mid-1990s. Therefore, broad pronouncements on the “decline of Hindutva’s appeal” appear somewhat overblown: among the elite caste communities for whom Hindutva is important enough to affect voting decisions, no such decline is apparent.

At the same time, this data suggests some strong limits to the degree to which Hindutva’s appeal affects the BJP’s performance. Even among upper castes, pro-Hindutva views are not the only, nor even the strongest, determinant of BJP support. Indeed, support for economic liberalisation has remained a stronger predictor of upper caste support for the BJP than pro-Hindutva views during this period. So has income, with the BJP enjoying greater support among a “creamy layer” of wealthy upper caste voters than among poorer voters from these caste communities. Finally, Dalit and adivasi backers of the BJP are not appreciably more communal than voters from these communities who support other parties. This result holds true across multiple elections, and even within states where the party has been doing increasingly well among these constituencies (such as Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh). Even the BJP’s limited electoral successes outside its traditional “Brahmin-Bania” base cannot therefore be assumed to be either a cause or consequence of growth in Hindutva’s appeal.

Evidence garnered from surveys can thus help us develop more nuanced conclusions about how the relationship between Hindutva and support for the BJP varies across caste communities, states and even electoral periods. Yet such evidence comes with its own important constraints. Most importantly, surveys necessarily use narrow measures of concepts, in this case defining Hindutva only through voters’ support for specific agenda items.

This limitation draws our attention to a second major issue: “Hindutva” carries variable meanings in different electoral contexts. To ask whether Hindutva’s political appeal is greater in Gujarat than in Chhattisgarh, or has declined from 1992 to 2012, in some sense assumes the term carries an unchanging definition across time and space. Such rigidity may seem justified by, and complementary with, the goal of Hindutva’s early architects. These founders sought to standardise the practice of Hinduism, in an attempt to overcome the divisions produced by internal caste hierarchies and varied local practices that stood in the way of their majoritarian ambitions.

Yet, in many respects, Hindu nationalism as a contemporary political phenomenon departs from the visions of these early ideologues. Hindutva’s interaction with democratic politics has produced many ironies, but perhaps none greater than the fragmentation of a doctrine of standardisation. These differences are apparent across states: the issue of religious conversions is far more central to the Sangh’s Hindutva agenda in Orissa than in Uttar Pradesh, while the issue of Ayodhya is far less so. Similar distinctions are also evident between Hindu nationalist organisations within the same state. For example, activists with the Sangh’s “service wings” (such as Seva Bharati and the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram) are often uncomfortable with the polarising rhetoric and mobilisations, including violence, emphasised by the VHP and Bajrang Dal. Such disagreements are more tactical than philosophical. Many seva activists worry that episodes of large-scale violence highlight the most polarising face of Hindutva, and inhibit their own attempts to ingratiate themselves among Dalit and adivasis communities wary of Hindutva’s upper caste image. Finally, service activists themselves highlight different aspects of Hindutva, depending on to whom they speak. In fundraising efforts among upper castes, they emphasise Hindutva’s mandate to offer welfare as a political counter to similar efforts by Christian missionaries. Yet, when trying to recruit lower caste or tribal voters, these activists present themselves as politically neutral welfare providers. They have also shown an increasing flexibility in their willingness to subsume local rituals into the structure of Hindu practices they advocate.

The purpose of pointing out such distinctions is to remind us that a voter’s perception of “what Hindutva is” can vary depending on which state they live in, which caste community they come from, and which organisation has the dominant presence within their neighbourhood or village. Such variation cannot be captured through national surveys, and requires more localised surveys and ethnographic study. Yet even such studies will need to be careful in determining how to assess whether these local faces of Hindutva actually help or hinder the BJP’s electoral performance, and the channels through which they do so.

Finally, let me conclude where I began, by highlighting some implications of this discussion for the case of Gujarat. When thinking about Hindu nationalism, our national preoccupation with Gujarat is an understandable consequence of the BJP’s exceptional success in the state. However, it is precisely this exceptionality that should make us cautious about the degree to which lessons from Gujarat apply elsewhere. Second, even within Gujarat, we should avoid easy generalisations about Hindutva’s role in facilitating the BJP’s dominance. Currently, there are two such arguments: that Modi’s success has accrued from a “post-Hindutva” strategy based on “development”, or conversely, that this electoral dominance was produced and maintained through Hindutva’s most militant form of coercion and hate. Yet both arguments are usually proven by assumption, rather than rigorous evidence, and fail to explore more complex possibilities: the use of both coercion and claims of good governance with different segments of the Gujarati electorate, or even the blending of coercion, development rhetoric and unprecedented campaign pageantry into a distinctly Gujarati version of Hindutva. Whatever the context, we would do well to avoid the simplifications often used in discussions of the electoral salience of Hindutva, and pay a complex phenomenon the careful attention it deserves.

 

The writer, assistant professor of political science at Yale University, is completing a book on support for the BJP among Dalit and adivasi communities

express@expressindia.com

 

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