Pope’s decision to wash feet of a woman is final straw for traditionalists


Foot soldier’s 1st battle

Vatican City: Pope Francis has won over many hearts and minds with his simple style and focus on serving the world’s poorest, but he has devastated traditionalist Catholics who adored his predecessor, Benedict XVI, for restoring much of the traditional pomp to the papacy.
Francis’ decision to disregard church law and wash the feet of two girls — a Serbian Muslim and an Italian Catholic — during a Holy Thursday ritual has become something of the final straw, evidence that Francis has little or no interest in one of the key priorities of Benedict’s papacy: reviving the pre-Vatican II traditions of the Catholic Church.
One of the most-read traditionalist blogs, “Rorate Caeli,” reacted to the foot-washing ceremony by declaring the death of Benedict’s eight-year project to correct what he considered the botched interpretations of the Second Vatican Council’s modernising reforms.
“The official end of the reform of the reform — by example,” ‘’Rorate Caeli” lamented in its report on Francis’ Holy Thursday ritual.
A like-minded commentator in Francis’ native Argentina, Marcelo Gonzalez at International Catholic Panorama, reacted to Francis’ election with this phrase: “The Horror.” Gonzalez’s beef? While serving as the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s efforts to revive the old Latin Mass so dear to Benedict and traditionalists were “non-existent.” Virtually everything he has done since being elected pope, every gesture, every decision, has rankled traditionalists in one way or another.
The night he was chosen pope, March 13, Francis emerged from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica without the ermine-rimmed red velvet cape, or mozzetta, used by popes past for official duties, wearing instead the simple white cassock of the papacy. The cape has since come to symbolise his rejection of the trappings of the papacy and to some degree the pontificate of Benedict XVI, since the German pontiff relished in resurrecting many of the liturgical vestments of his predecessors.
Francis also received the cardinals’ pledges of obedience after his election not from a chair on a pedestal as popes normally do but rather standing, on their same level.
Francis may have rubbed salt into the wounds with his comments at the Good Friday procession at Rome’s Colosseum, which re-enacts Jesus Christ’s crucifixion, praising “the friendship of our Muslim brothers and sisters” during a prayer ceremony that recalled the suffering of Christians in the Middle East.
On Thursday at the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention facility in Rome, where the 76-year-old Francis got down on his knees to wash and kiss the feet of 12 inmates, two of them women. The rite re-enacts Jesus’ washing of the feet of his 12 apostles during the Last Supper before his crucifixion, a sign of his love and service to them. The church’s liturgical law holds that only men can participate in the rite, given that Jesus’ apostles were all male. Priests and bishops have routinely petitioned for exemptions to include women, but the law is clear.
Francis, however, is the church’s chief lawmaker, so in theory he can do whatever he wants. The inclusion of women in the rite is problematic for some because it could be seen as an opening of sorts to women’s ordination. The Catholic Church restricts the priesthood to men, arguing that Jesus and his 12 apostles were male.
Francis is clearly opposed to women’s ordination. But by washing the feet of women, he jolted traditionalists who for years have been unbending in insisting that the ritual is for men only and proudly holding up as evidence documentation from the Vatican’s liturgy office saying so.
In the face of the pope doing that very thing, many conservative and traditionalist commentators have found themselves trying to put the best face on a situation they clearly don’t like yet can’t do much about lest they be openly voicing dissent with the pope.
The Rev. John Zuhlsdorf, a traditionalist blogger who has never shied from picking fights with priests, bishops or cardinals when liturgical abuses are concerned, had to measure his comments when the purported abuser was the pope himself.
“Before liberals and traditionalists both have a spittle-flecked nutty, each for their own reasons, try to figure out what he is trying to do,” Zuhlsdorf wrote in a conciliatory piece. —AP

 

Larger than life actor who died before his time #RIP Richard Griffiths


London: When asked a few years ago what he would like his epitaph to be, Richard Griffiths suggested he all he needed was time.
He joked that he wanted it to read: “Richard Griffiths. Actor. Born 1947. Died 2947”.
Griffiths, one of Britain’s best-loved and most recognisable stars of stage and screen, did not achieve his goal.
He died on Thursday from complications following heart surgery. He was 65.
As the news broke on Friday tributes came from friends, fans and colleagues who had worked with him throughout his long career.
Griffiths, who played the self-satisfied Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, was probably best known among older generations for his role as the predatory Uncle Monty in the cult film Withnail & I.
Daniel Radcliffe and Richard E Grant led a stream of heartfelt condolences in which the actor was described as a “comic genius” and praised for his “encouragement, tutelage and humour”.
Radcliffe, who also appeared alongside Griffiths in the West End play Equus, said the actor had put him at ease as he prepared to shoot his first scene as Harry Potter.
“Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career,” he said. “Any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence.”
Grant said he would be “raising a figurative glass” to his old friend. “My beloved ‘Uncle Monty’ Richard Griffiths died last night,” he wrote on Twitter. “Chin-Chin my dear friend.” Griffiths won a Laurence Olivier Award and a Tony Award for his portrayal as the inspirational teacher in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys.
Griffiths was born in North Yorkshire, to parents who were deaf. He had a hard upbringing and frequently ran away from home.
His acting career began as a clown with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and he later won small roles in television shows such as Minder, The Sweeney and Bergerac.
In the 1990s, Griffiths starred as a crime-solving chef in the television series Pie In The Sky and made his first appearance as Uncle Vernon in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2001.
The actor was famed for his intolerance to mobile phones in theatres, halting several performances to demand that the perpetrator leave.
Sir Trevor Nunn, the director who took Griffiths into the RSC, said: “As the Shakespeare he loved put it, ‘There’s a great spirit gone’.”
He is survived by his wife, Heather, with whom he lived near Stratford-upon-Avon. —The Daily Telegraph

 

Geetika case: Suicide notes strong evidence against Gopal Kanda #Vaw


PTI : New Delhi, Sat Mar 30 2013,  IE
Geetika kanda

The Delhi Police today told a court here that the suicide notes of former air hostess Geetika Sharma and her mother should be considered as concrete evidence against former Haryana minister Gopal Goyal Kanda and his aide Aruna Chaddha accused of abetting her suicide.

In its arguments on framing of charges before District Judge S K Sarvaria, the prosecution said suicide notes written by Geetika are the strongest piece of evidence against the accused.

Additional Public Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan also said the suicide notes written by Geetika’s mother, who committed suicide on February 15, also point towards culpability of Kanda and Chaddha.

The submissions were opposed by Kanda’s counsel.

The court has fixed April 2 for hearing further arguments.

Both Kanda and Chaddha are accused of abetting Geetika’s suicide. She was found dead at her Ashok Vihar residence in Delhi on August 5, last year.

In her suicide note, Geetika had said she was ending her life due to “harassment” by Kanda and Chaddha.

Geetika’s mother Anuradha Sharma also committed suicide and had left behind two notes in which she blamed the duo for driving her daughter to take such an extreme step.

In its main and supplementary chargesheets, Delhi Police has said Kanda was obsessed with Geetika and wanted to bring her back in his company to sexually exploit her.

Kanda and Chaddha have been chargesheeted for abetment of suicide, criminal conspiracy, criminal intimidation, forgery of valuable security, forgery with intention to cheat and harm reputation, using forged documents as genuine and destruction of evidence under the IPC.

They have also been booked under Section 66 of the Information Technology Act which deals with computer hacking.

 

#India – Security projects ‘violate’ green laws as they start work in Karnataka


Agencies revealed the information about the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Defence Research and Development Organisation in the National Green Tribunal.

31 March 2013
www.dailymail.co.uk

 

Security projects ‘violate’ green laws as they start work in Karnataka

By Dinesh C Sharma UPDATED: 01:25 GMT, 30 March 2013

 

In the name of national security, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) have ‘violated’ environmental laws by starting construction work on strategic projects in an ecologically sensitive zone in Karnataka, an environmental lobby group has claimed. 

The BARC project is aimed at upgrading a classified ‘technology demonstration’ project involving the nuclear fuel cycle for both civilian and military use. 

The facility is designed to meet “future requirements of upgraded fuel for power sector as well as for other strategic purposes”, according to the nuke agency. 

The ecologically sensitive zone in Karnataka

The ecologically sensitive zone in Karnataka

The DRDO project will develop an aeronautical test range with dedicated airspace for testing of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). 

Norms violated

No environmental and forest clearances have been granted for the two projects which are coming up in Challakere taluk of Chitradurga district. 

The area in which the two projects are coming up has been classified as grasslands and district forests. 

WHATS IN THE PIPELINE

The projects are part of a cluster of scientific projects coming up in the region. Together these projects will need around 10,000 acres of land.

The two agencies have admitted that they have already spent close to Rs 100 crore on the initial developmental work on the projects in the past two years.

BARC said: “Major construction activities will be carried out only after necessary clearance from the ministry of environment and forests and the Karnataka Pollution Control Board”. 

On the other hand, DRDO claimed that no clearance is required as the test range is not a commercial airstrip and will not have a bunkering facility.

The agencies have been forced to reveal the information about the projects in the National Green Tribunal, where the projects have been challenged by Bangalore-based Environment Support Group. 

The tribunal has not stayed work on the projects but has appointed a two-member committee to inspect the sites. “The experts will make an inspection of the land in question as also the ecological and environmental status and also the activities undertaken by the proponent and file a report, which would assist the tribunal to decide on the controversy”, the order said. 

“Nuclear and defence agencies are invoking national security to cover up violation of environmental laws. None of the project proponents have complied with any of the mandatory environmental and forest clearance norms and standards”, Leo Saldanha, petitioner in the case, said. 

He said the ecologically precious land had been given to different agencies at a cheap price of Rs 30,000 to Rs 35,000 per acre.

High value

Besides DRDO and BARC, other projects coming up in the cluster include a new campus of the Indian Institute of Science and the satellite centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation

The land allocated for the projects is the last remaining contiguous area of semi-arid grasslands ecosystem traditionally known as ‘Amrit Mahal Kaval’. 

It is critical to a variety of flora and fauna including the threatened antelope species, critically endangered birds like Great Indian Bustard and Lesser Florican. In addition, inhabitants from 60 villages in the vicinity depend on the grasslands for their livelihood. The Kaval area had been designated as ‘district forests’ for protection under the Karnataka Forest Rules, 1969. 

CONTESTED AREA

 

 

 

#India – The Gender Terrorists #Vaw


Vol – XLVIII No. 13, March 30, 2013 | Vasundhara Sirnate

  • “Just being a woman is an act of courage”, said the tagline to the 1979 film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. One can modify that somewhat to suit the Indian situation – just being born a woman in India is an act of courage.

Vasundhara Sirnate (vsirnate@berkeley.edu) is a doctoral candidate at the Travers Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley.

In 2010 a fellow researcher from Stanford University and I compiled a dataset from the Asian Recorder on insurgent attacks in India which occurred between the years 1955 and 2008. The Reed-Sirnate dataset recorded a total of 10,013 people killed over this period in insurgent attacks1. We also recognised that this was not the complete picture and that we could, with ease, probably double this statistic. This number included security forces, civilians (men, women and children) and insurgents killed in terror attacks across the country where the aggressors were insurgent groups.

Academics from across the world have spent much time compiling statistics recording the number of people killed in caste and communal violence in India. For instance, the Varshney-Wilkinson dataset on post-Partition communal violence reports 7,173 deaths in all riots that took place between 1950 and 1995 (Varshney 2001). Similarly, the number of people killed in caste violence in 2011 was 673 and the number of dalit women raped was 1,557. Since 2006, 3,840 scheduled caste people have been killed in caste violence2.

Now let us look at another set of figures. In 2011 alone, the number of women and girls killed in dowry related cases was 8,618. This number almost rivals the number we got from our insurgency dataset spanning 53 years and beats the number presented in the dataset on communal violence. Further, the number of dowry deaths in 2011 were far more than the total number of people killed in caste violence since 2006. Finally, the number of women (47,022) who died in 2011alone outstripped the combined statistics of all kinds of violent deaths occurring in that year due to insurgency, caste and religious violence.

We are then left with a shocking finding: routine Indian male violence against women resulting in female deaths exceeds those that are caused by other kinds of community-based violence, including caste, communal and insurgent violence.

Now these female deaths in 2011 were not accidental ones. The accidental deaths are recorded in a completely separate section in the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) publications. Combining the figures for dowry deaths in 2010 (8,391) and 2011 (8,618) reveals that crimes reported under this section of the Indian Penal Code alone far exceeds the the number of other violent crimes in society. We are looking at 17,009 women killed in two years for not providing a sufficient dowry in spite of several laws that legislate precisely against this practice.

According to the NCRB, a total of 24,596 housewives committed suicide by various means in 2011. This partial figure (some data is missing from the NCRB) shows that the majority of female suicide cases were women/housewives aged 15 to 29 years. The fact that younger housewives are more likely to kill themselves makes perfect sense given the harassment and bullying they face in their marital homes.

Table 1: How women and girls died in India in 2011

Dowry Deaths 8618
Murder/homicide : Ages 0-10 362
Murder/homicide: Ages 10-15 128
Murder/homicide : Ages 15-18 228
Suicide: Ages 0-14 1461
Suicide: Ages 15-29 21410
Suicide: Ages 30-44 14815
Suicide: Ages 44- and above 0 data missing
All India Total 47022

Source: Crime in India, 2011, National Crime Records Bureau.

Table 2: How Indian women were routinely terrorised in 2011

Rape 24206
Kidnapping and abduction 35565
Molestation 42968
Sexual Harassment 8570
Cruelty by husbands and relatives 99135
Importation of girls 80
All India Total 210524

Source: Crime in India, 2011, National Crime Records Bureau.

Random homicidal killing of women is not that common. What we see is the targeted killing of women and abetment to suicide through harassment within the confines of the family structure. Again, this is only a fraction of the actual number of crimes against women since most cases of sexual violence, partner violence, domestic abuse and harassment go largely unreported because women are scared or ashamed, or both, to report them. Indian women know that they are fighting a losing battle since going to the state for redressal of grievances seldom results in actual justice for them.

A few years ago the NCRB reported that there had been a 700 per cent increase in cases of everyday rape since 1971. In the NCRB’s 2011 report 24,206 cases of rape in India were reported. Out of these 93.8 per cent resulted in a chargesheet with a pathetic conviction rate of 26.4 per cent. There were 42,968 cases of reported molestation (27 per cent conviction rate), 99,136 cases of cruelty by husbands and relatives (20.2 per cent conviction rate) and 35,565 cases of kidnapping and abduction of women and girls.

Our child sex-ratio stands at 914 girls per 1000 men, with the ratio in the states of Punjab and Haryana being the worst. An estimated 20 million females are missing in India since 1950 because of practices that include abortion, or killing a girl at birth.

What is Gender Terrorism?

The largest chunk of people in India permanently living in a ‘state of exception’ are not always persecuted minority groups living in communally tense areas or people in insurgency affected areas. The people living under a constant regime of terror are the 58,64,69,174 Indian women (more than the total population of the United States). And there is a clear group of aggressors in this equation – Indian males and the women who aid and abet them. I call these individuals gender terrorists. By using the vocabulary of terrorism, I hope to draw attention to these patterns of violence against women as an internal security problem.

Indian women live in a continuous, terrorised ‘state of exception’ each and every day, where their legal rights, equality and human rights are suspended as a matter of course. Laws, codes and norms that are imposed on women by long-standing traditions have no relevance to life in the contemporary world, yet they endure because they are designed to keep them in check. Judgments on rape have used the problematic phrase of a victim being “habituated to sex”3, which means that women who have had sexual intercourse before cannot be raped. The perverted morality of our sociological conditioning preaches that ‘good’ girls do not get attacked, raped or harassed. And if our religious leaders are to be believed, some ethereal deity if prayed to can stop a woman from being gang-raped. All violence happens to ‘loose girls’ and many, including some women, believe that they either put themselves at risk knowingly, or they ‘had it coming’.

There is a tendency to treat gender violence as a law and order problem, and as incidents that occur at random. In fact, statistics clearly point to patterns of violence, and clearly identify the likelihood of who can be a perpetrator. Treating incidents of gender terrorism as random acts of crazy or disturbed individuals is misguided because it misses the crucial point that gender terrorism is organised, structured and systematic. That it is backed by the state when it chooses not to act on behalf of women, by extra-legal organisations like the khap panchayats, by patriarchal families, by school systems and by individual men and sadly, also many women.

That Indian women are the terrorised gender is well known. However, if there is a terrorised group, it stands to reason that someone must be terrorising them. We can clearly say that many Indian men terrorise Indian women in some form or the other.

Terrorism in the security studies literature refers specifically to some kind of violent action taken by an armed group that has a perceived grievance against the structures of power that exist. It deals with ideologically motivated killing of innocent people. Terrorism implies organised, or even a collection of individual acts directed against one community, territory or a group of people. It implies an ideology and a manifesto, and justifies why violence should be used.

Traditional definitions of terrorism cannot be fully applied to the concept of gender terrorism. Hence, I make a distinction between a political terrorist and a social terrorist. Political terrorism incorporates and encourages gender terrorism. A political terrorist typically attacks institutions of power as he has a bone to pick with those power structures. However, part of being a terrorist is to gain legitimacy through forced compliance. This a terrorist does bybeing a social terrorist as well. Think about the Taliban imposing moral and dress codes on society, and Punjabi and Kashmiri extremists imposing dress codes on women. Interestingly, political terrorists often start their local campaigns by policing what women can and cannot do and how they can and cannot dress. The reason why Taliban style political terrorism works is because the followed ideology is not just political, it also encourages a private individual’s capacity to use violence against a woman he knows or sees.

The manner in which gender terrorism as social terrorism routinely operates is not very different from political terrorism. The only thing absent is grievance against a power structure. If anything, gender terrorism is more like terrorism by the mighty and their handmaidens.

Gender terrorists are men (and women) who routinely enforce norms of behavior for women and girls that are meant to curtail their freedom, choice, rights, and impede the exercise of their capabilities. These social terrorists also work to restrict women’s access to political and legal institutions, nutrition, education, property, and economic opportunities. They use violence as a matter of course to enforce their agenda. In keeping with the accepted characteristics of terrorism, gender terrorists also create widespread psychological trauma for the targeted group (women), which endures over time and is handed down from one generation to the other.

In Haryana, eleven cases of rape, reported over 30 days, were followed with some of the most idiotic rationalisations by the illegal, unconstitutional, informal and self-styled law-making tribunals called khap panchayats. Several explanations were offered by men in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for beating up their wives, or raping women. They said, men get jealous if their wives talk on the phone. The phones were blamed for women eloping with other men. Therefore, a khap decreed that women should not use cell phones. Men cannot help being lascivious and violent if women wear tight ‘western’ clothing. So, women should be fully covered in clothes that do not reveal their form or body type. Since men do not have access to sex in their youth they find themselves raping women. Therefore, the marriageable age of women should be reduced to sixteen so that more girls can be sexually available to men legally, and this can- according to khaps- reduce rape. Marrying outside the gotra and/or caste, and marrying by choice is an assault on the dignity and honor of the family, the head of which is a man. Consequently, to restore and reconstitute this honour a woman must be brutally murdered, or in some cases publically punished and humiliated along with her chosen partner.

These pronouncements are classic acts of gender terrorism. This is not law-making; this is rule by diktat. Organisations like khaps enable and actively encourage acts of terrorism against women and the men who support these women. The judgments of these extra-legal bodies are not unlike the pronouncements of insurgent groups like the Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan.

In political terrorism there is a deep-seated ideology (religious or political) that provides motivation for acts of terror. Call it patriarchy or misogyny, gender terrorists are bound by a code, and a majority of men agree on the rules of that code. This code shapes the gender terrorist to see women in a particular way- as a body to be possessed on the slightest of pretexts, which could be a short dress or a revealing blouse. There is no respect for a woman. She is treated like an animal, and is sometimes less beloved than a cow. She can be bought, sold, traded, collectively used for sex, pinched, prodded, branded, defiled, mutilated, experimented with, burnt, bullied, financially coerced, insulted, verbally abused, underfed, economically exploited and emotionally abused.

Gender terrorism can be found in legislations like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which allows for armed state actors to get away without any public accountability and scrutiny for their policing actions in conflict zones. These actions have often included rape of women in northeast India and Kashmir. These offences have remained largely uninvestigated because of the shroud of secrecy that surrounds the actions of state actors.

Gender terrorism relies on the willingness of the terrorised to view abuse as normal, to be shamed by it and not report it. It uses an increased threat of terror in case a victim reports initial acts of terrorism. There are consequences to being a tattletale, and she is made well aware of what will happen to her or her family if she resists. It is also unpredictable. Any woman, at any time of day, wearing any kind of clothing, in any public or private space, is likely to be a victim of gender terrorism. In this manner, the gender terrorists are able to coerce a woman or a girl into complying with their agenda.

Ripples of Vengeance

On the heels of the Delhi gang-rape incident, a 19 year old dancer was gang-raped in Orissa, a three year old was raped at a day care center and an actress in Manipur (who bravely refused to hide her identity) was dragged off the stage to be raped by a militant. All these incidents happened within 72 hours of the Delhi incident. Many other incidents also happened in 2012. A minor girl was publicly lynched while coming out of a club in Guwahati and this was filmed and broadcast across the nation in absolute violation of media ethics. A girl in south India was molested and thrown off a moving train for refusing the advances of a group of men, and a 16 year old was raped in Silchar by her local guardian.

The anti-rape protests in New Delhi in December 2012 called for revenge in the form of castration and the death penalty for rapists in the glaring absence of justice for crimes against women. Now judicial inquiry commissions are advocating that women be allowed to kill rapists in self-defense, and right-wing organisations like the Shiv Sena are distributing knives to women for self-defense. In 2004, fourteen women in Nagpur stabbed a known rapist, Appu Yadav, to death in a courtroom. In the last decade in at least two instances, women in Bihar and UP have beheaded their rapists. When the 2012 anti-rape protests occurred in New Delhi, the Indian government instead of backing the supporters on an issue where there cannot, ethically speaking, be two sides, famously fumbled as it water cannoned and tear-gassed thousands of well-heeled protestors and tried to stop them from reaching protest points by shutting down key subway stations.

In the absence of justice, Indian women are indicating that they will settle for revenge. These women who are ‘recovering subversion’, as Nivedita Menon once articulated, often take the law into their own hands. The Gulabi Gang bullies its way into police thanas and offices of bureaucrats for better treatment of women, and bashes up husbands known to be wife-beaters. And let us not forget the increasing number of tribal women that join the Maoists every year to flee persecution and abuse by the state and its commercial handmaidens.

This is not an endorsement of the vengeance harboured by women. This is instead a recognition of a systemic problem in the capacity and willingness of the state to react and respond to gender terrorism. It indicates the failure of the political process to secure rights for half the citizens of the country. Women are forced into being radicals to secure their personal safety because they are painfully aware that no one else will secure it for them.

Bharat Versus India – A False Dichotomy

In India, state actors mirror the anti-woman ideas that govern social behavior. Our police and paramilitary personnel are drawn from households that have seen violence within the family. Our constabulary comes from semi-urban and/or rural areas where their mothers waited on them hand and foot, and now their wives and daughters wait on them. For our police, who are supposed to be the first responders in a case of gender terrorism, a beaten up housewife is something familiar. They have seen their mothers get beaten up at home. A girl with her boyfriend who got raped is also familiar. They probably agree that women with boyfriends are “habituated to sex” and so their rape is not a big deal.

This sounds very much like an argument that pitches rural India (Bharat) versus cosmopolitan India where women are supposedly treated better. But this is not the case. If anything, Bharat and India agree on how women are perceived and how they should behave. Bharat and India agree on dowry practices. Bharat and India agree on the impossible attractions of short skirts that ‘allow’ men to rape women. Bharat and India both believe rape can be conducted with impunity. Bharat and India both have women that are victims of domestic violence and spousal abuse.

The arguments that construe metropolitan India as a socially evolved space are quite misleading and dangerous because they lull us into thinking that rape culture and gender terrorism are products of economic and societal backwardness. If this were the case we would not see gender terrorism in countries like the USA or a host of European nations. That we still see incidents of rape in developed countries, is an indicator of the global scale of gender terrorism.

The Bromance of the State

The people who staff the state shape state apathy towards gender terrorism. We have elected representatives who openly dislike women, openly buy women for sex and make them disappear when things get uncomfortable. Our representatives have repeatedly scuttled the tabling of the Women’s Reservation Bill since the late 1990’s. Many representatives have chargesheets pending against them on various counts of sexual violence, including rape. These charges have not impeded their rise in politics and have not stopped them from representing us.

Our military and paramilitary personnel have been accused of rape in conflict zones. A few years ago an army soldier was filmed sexually harassing a young girl in Assam in full view of other soldiers. No one stopped the soldier, and no one helped the girl. She retaliated by pelting him with stones. The rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by soldiers of the Assam Rifles in Manipur gave rise to forms of protest that included a mob of naked Manipuri women marching to the Assam Rifles headquarters demanding justice with signs that said “Indian Army Rape Us”.

During my fieldwork on counter-insurgency in India, I was told a story about a counterinsurgency operation in a northeastern state. In this operation army men- recruited from central India- who were part of a regiment stationed in Assam and the state police of an adjoining state conducted a combined operation against a newly discovered camp of the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). The raid was successful. However, they found three female ULFA members in the camp. Tense bargaining took place that night between the northeastern cops, who were operating out of their jurisdiction in an adjoining state, and the Indian army soldiers who wanted the women released to them. The northeastern cops resisted releasing the women to the army. They saw the women as fellow northeasterners.

The cop I interviewed said, “you can guess what would have happened to them”. After half an hour or so of bargaining, one of the cops from the northeast picked up his rifle and shot the three women dead. It was to send a signal to the army men. The cops and soldiers went their separate ways, and no one was ever the wiser publically about what had transpired that night, how many rules of engagement had been broken, and how many men got away with multiple murders.

Such incidents are clear violations of all laws that globally govern our existence. However, these are men and state actors drawn from a society where women are ‘taught lessons’ through sexual assault and are beaten up and insulted for the slightest of transgressions. The standards of male behavior and the attitude towards women that exist in Indian society find their way into the actions of our military, paramilitary and police personnel. The institutions of the state don’t break down gender terrorism; they reinforce it.

It is hard to spell out the consequences for perpetrators of gender terrorism when state actors themselves are deeply misogynistic. The laws protecting women in the Indian legal system are far ahead of their times in many cases. However, they are sporadically and clumsily implemented. We as a polity need to define consequences for gender terrorists. Impunity exists in the absence of consequences.

“Just being a woman is an act of courage”, said the tagline to the 1979 film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I modify that somewhat to suit the Indian situation – just being born a woman in India is an act of courage.

References

Varshney, A (2001), Ethnic conflict and civil society. World Politics, 53, 362-398.

1 Source: Reed-Sirnate dataset

2 Source :Crime in India’ National Crime Records Bureau publication, under Chapter 7, “Crime Against Persons Belonging to SCs/STs, 2010

3 The term ‘habituated to sex’ became controversial when it was used in 1974 in the judgment of the Mathura Rape Case. In this case a sixteen year old tribal girl was raped in Maharashtra’s Chandrapur district inside a police thana. The judgment ruled that rape could not be proved; only intercourse could be proved because the victim was determined to have been ‘habituated to sex’.

 

Story behind the ‘Lost Case”- despite social legal support #Vaw #Justice


Mumbai, Majlis Team , March 31,, 2013

As  fourteen year old Priya  had not been getting her periods for some months, her mother took her to Shatabdi, a  public Hospital in the nearby area, for a check up.  During examination it came to light that the child was five months pregnant! A case was not filed, but Priya and her mother were referred to the hospital’s counselling centre where two very young social work students were placed. The students knew about Majlis’ Socio Legal Support for Survivors of Sexual Assault programme.

So, it was by sheer luck that Priya and her mother Anju reached our office. I was one of the first people to speak to Priya after she discovered she was pregnant. With large fluid eyes and a scared look on her face, she revealed that she and her friends would often go to a Pramuk’s  (leader) house to help his wife with house work. About six months ago, when his wife was not at home, this 50 year old man raped her.  He threatened her that if she ever spoke to anyone about it, he would kill her. She had no idea about the consequences which might befall on her, and hence kept silent, and did not even confide in her mother.  It was poignant to watch the child, who had just realised that she was pregnant, trying to cover her stomach with her dupatta.

Anju is an illiterate single mother trying desperately to manage her family by earning a meagre amount as a domestic maid. She is extremely naïve and had never stepped out of her local area. She, and her mother before her, have lived in the same slum their entire lifetime. When faced with the news,  Anju’s only concern was how to quietly get an abortion and end the story. She was extremely afraid that if her son found out all hell would break loose. The pramukh was influential and she did not want any hassles with the police. We tried our best to assure her that if she wanted to complain we would support her in her pursuit of justice… but these words did not make any sense to her.

We asked her to think about what she wanted to do and promised to meet her the next day at the hospital (she did not want us to come home). But the next day Anju did not turn up. Our team were rid with fear at what she would have done with her daughter in order to cover up the incident. Priya’s pregnancy was well past the statutory limit permitting an abortion and we were scared about the danger to her life. There was no way of contacting Anju as she had not given us a number or an address.

Then three days later Anju contacted us. All hell had broken loose as her son found out. The police was informed and an FIR was lodged. The accused was taken into custody, required medical tests were done and statements were recorded. Priya was produced before the Child Welfare Committee and was taken to a shelter home.

Our first challenge was to ensure Priya’s health and well being were being taken care of in the shelter home. We would accompany Anju every week to visit Priya in the shelter home. We counselled Priya to cope with her situation. Priya was not comfortable at the government shelter home,  so we requested the CWC to move her to a home for unwed mothers run by Christian Missionary Sisters in the Western suburbs. The request was granted.

We also counselled Anju and her son to help them cope with the situation. When Priya delivered her baby we were there. Anju could not reach the hospital as she could not travel alone late in the night. Anju still  feels bad that she would not be with her daughter during her delivery. Given Priya’s tender age and Anju’s financial condition, there was no question of keeping  the baby. We had to repeatedly remind the police to collect the blood samples of  the baby, so that the child could be put up for adoption.

Priya returned home and Anju was keen to care for her daughter. But she soon realised that due to sniggering and humiliation from neighbours it was impossible to keep her daughter with her. Everything had changed. Priyas was forced to live in the village where poverty was worse and she was not even given basic nutrition. Anju was desperately trying to collect money to move to another slum. Multiple vulnerabilities were  at play here. Since we do not have a financial assistance project and the State Victim Compensation Scheme was not in place, we could not offer any financial support to the family.

But on the other hand, the case was progressing smoothly. We followed up with the police to ensure that the investigation was on track and the charge sheet filed in a timely manner. Within two and half months of the incident the charge sheet was filed and the matter was committed to the Sessions Court. This was an open and shut case, we were confident of a conviction. This was one of the few cases we have come across where the statements were  recorded by the police without any loopholes, DNA proof was there…. So imagine our shock and utter dismay when the DNA report came negative.

The blood samples of the accused did not match that of the child. The police called Anju to the Police Station and shouted and abused her for two-three hours. We rushed to the Police Station and impressed upon the officer that his duty was only to submit the DNA report to the court and not pass any value judgment.

We met Priya and tried to probe if there was any other person. But Priya, all of fourteen and having gone through the ordeal, with utmost conviction reassured us, that he alone was the  culprit. We believed her.

The Public Prosecutor (PP) accused Priya of having a boyfriend. You cannot trust these teenaged girls, I think this case is ‘fishy’, she said. Her entire approach towards the case changed dramatically after the DNA report. But if Priya had a boyfriend, the news would have spread as this is a thickly populated slum with huts adjacent to each other. Nothing misses the keenly watchful eyes of the  neighbours.

We were extremely worried how the PP, whose job is to defend Priya would conduct the trial. We watched the PP like hawks on every date to ensure she was doing her job.

Priya was brilliant in her examination and cross. We were there by her side to support her. The PP ofcourse did not even bother to meet her before the trial and prepare her.

The defence lawyer used all kinds of underhand tactics during Anju’s cross. He accused her of being a woman of loose character and being greedy and wanting to extract money from the accused. But before he could ask any more embarrassing questions, the presiding officer, a sensitive lady judge, stopped him. This judge is known to follow Sakshi Guidelines, not allow unnecessary questions and most of all, she makes the witness comfortable in court. All this helps bring the best evidence before the Court.

The final arguments were a disaster. The PP argued with absolute lack of interest (She may not have even argued if we were not there). She submitted the case laws and the written arguments that we had prepared, because we insisted. The Defence Counsel argued at length about how the DNA Report was negative and therefore it was clear that the accused had been framed to take revenge because the victim’s mother was not allocated a tenement under the slum rehabilitation scheme.

Judgment: “Not guilty, the prosecution has failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt”. The judge also commented that the plea of the defence about revenge appears to be probable!

Immediately after passing the judgement, in an informal tone, the Judge asked our lawyer whether we take up all cases or only ‘genuine’ cases. Before we could recover from the absurdity of this question, the PP replied “Oh, they take up any case that comes to them”.

We would have liked to answer that “not proving a case beyond reasonable doubt does not amount to a ‘false’ case.”  We would also liked to have responded to the  PP, “it is not your job to be judge… just do your best to prove your case, like you would if you were defending the accused in a murder trial, as a private lawyer.” But we kept silent as we have many other rape cases which are pending trial in this court.

We had the difficult task of informing Anju about the judgement. She was calm and took it in her stride. She told us that she was not interested in filing an appeal. She had changed her residence,  Priya was back at school and they were making every attempt to get over this trauma. We felt that despite the set back in court, we had empowered them to cope with the system and move on without leaving deep scars of revictimisation upon their psyche. This, in itself, was a victory! After all, conviction or acquittal is not in our hands. We are here to ensure that fair trial process has been followed.

Ideally, this narrative must end here, but it has a postscript. A few days later, a visibly shattered Anju came to our office. There was a story in the newspaper accusing Anju of filing a false case to frame the accused to get a tenement in the SRA scheme. It is this incident that broke Anju.  She wanted to file a case against the lawyer and the newspaper.  But since no names were mentioned there was nothing we could do. Anju told us that Priya had threatened to commit suicide after seeing the newspaper article. The society finally had its revenge.

The questions that haunt us at the end of this case are – yes, the case could not be proved ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.  But it is also beyond doubt that a 14 year old vulnerable child had been violated and had to undergo the ordeal of childbirth and of giving up the child in adoption. Does the responsibility of the state end with the acquittal, or is there a responsibility beyond, to ensure the well being of this child.  Can state institutions entrusted with the responsibility of protecting children, brand her as ‘a liar’ and wash their hands off her, leaving her to deal with her fate, within the confines of her own vulnerabilities? We find no answers to these disturbing questions within the criminal legal system.

State of Maharashtra  v. Ramesh Dawle  Session Case  No. 349 of 2012

The matter was concluded within a year.

Majlis Legal Centre

A 4/2 Golden Valley, Kalina Kurla Road, Santacruz E, Mumbai 98

Tel: 022 26661252 / 26662394

Website: www.majlislaw.com

Facebook: majlislaw

 

Egytian Satirist Bassem Youssef arrives at court in satirical style #FOE


 

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef arrives at High Court wearing outsized version of hat worn by President Morsi in Pakistan university ceremony; rejects claims he ‘insulted’ president and Islam on TV show
Ahram Online , Sunday 31 Mar 2013
Bassem Youssef

Egyptian TV host Bassem Youssef arrives at high court on Sunday in a satirical style poking fun at President Mohamed Morsi by wearing a mock graduation cap similar to one worn by the Egyptian leader when he received an honorary doctorate in Pakistan last month (Photo: facebook.com/11FebFront)

Renowned TV satirist Bassem Youssef arrived at Egypt’s High Court on Sunday morning in response to an arrest warrant submitted by the country’s top prosecutor.

Youssef turned up at the court wearing an outsized version of the hat worn by President Morsi when he received an honorary doctorate from a university in Pakistan in early March.

The prosecutor-general ordered Youssef’s arrest on Saturday after a number of complaints were made against him for allegedly insulting President Mohamed Morsi, denigrating Islam and spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order.

During a phone interview with popular TV anchor Lamees El-Hadidy on Saturday night, Bassem Youssef rejected the accusation that he had insulted Islam.

“We are not the ones who insult religion, all we do is expose the channels that have misused religion and harmed it more than anyone else. If there is anyone who has insulted religion it is those who use Islam as a weapon for political reasons,” he said, adding that he is determined defy those who “have disfigured my religion [of Islam].”

When asked by El-Hadidy if he had insulted the president, Youssef said, “President Mohamed Morsi? How can anyone insult him, he is the first elected president.”

TV satirist Bassem Youssef also complained that he was not officially summoned for questioning before he received an arrest warrant on Saturday and that this is against legal procedures.

“I was never called for a hearing before [the arrest warrant] was issued, which is the legal norm, and we were surprised to hear the news via the media,” Youssef said via Facebook on Saturday, adding that he would go to the prosecutor-general’s office on Sunday at 9:30am.

Youssef hosts weekly satire show El-Bernameg (The Show) on private satellite channel CBC.

The complaints were filed by 12 people after Youssef’s 1 March episode in which he mocked the president’s interview with TV anchor Amr El-Leithy in February.

In January, a number of Islamist lawyers filed a separate lawsuit against Youssef for “undermining the standing of the president” during his show but the charges were dropped before the case reached court.

Youssef said he would make himself available to the office of the prosecutor-general on Sunday.

Dozens of supporters of Bassem Youssef rallied outside the office of the prosecutor-general in solidarity with the renowned satirist.

 

 

 

#India – Power of Right to Information Act #RTI


Power of RTI

RTI
After its implementation in 2005, the Right to Information Act came to be known as the sunshine act as it empowered the ordinary citizen for the first time. Now, instead of pleading with babus or netas, the citizen simply approaches government offices for information on issues that matter to him. Ashutosh Shukla looks at some cases where the Act has helped the common man

Ashutosh Shukla

Dharmenddra Pawar, 35, could regain his mental balance only after he saw his answer paper procured through an RTI. For, only then he saw the examiners’ apathy and not the failure of his hard work that led to absolute distress and him repeating the year.
“I could not understand that in the first attempt I scored 27 marks and 0 in the second when I had put in more effort,” said the Girgaum resident, who works as a service engineer.
In 2010, Pawar first appeared for Industrial Training Institute’s ‘artisan to techno craft’ certificate course.
The only earning member in a family of five, Pawar opted for the course for job stability and better salary.
In 2011, he got 0 in one of the three papers he appeared for.
Dejected, he filed an RTI application. “I was waiting for the reevaluation result which never came. I did not appear in 2012 as I was confident that I had scored more,” said Pawar. “When someone said that even after reevaluation I would not pass, I filed an RTI application to know the status of my reevaluation and answer sheet.”
He was helped by Tarun Mitra Mandal, an NGO that runs 10 RTI clinics in the city.
When he got his answer sheet through RTI, he was not surprised to know that he had scored 26 marks and not 0.
“I feel that if someone would have rechecked my paper, I would have passed. The person had not given me the marks I deserved,” said Pawar.
The self-help tool
Pawar is not the only one to have suffered from the system’s irresponsiveness.
Ranjanben Dedhia’s case is another example. Had it not been for the RTI Act, the Dombivili resident would still be struggling to get her Rs7.88 lakh gratuity and Rs14,230 monthly pension from the Kalyan Dombivli Municipal Corporation, where she worked for 37 years.
After retiring as the headmistress of a municipal school, Dedhia wrote to the civic commissioner about not getting her dues. “The PA to the commissioner kept saying that my complaint had been forwarded and that I should pursue with the department concerned,” said Dedhia, 59.
After 20 visits in six months, she was tired of hearing the same excuses. “Sometimes they would say that file has not come or the accountant is new. I knew it was their callous approach because my file had been processed three months before my retirement,” said Dedhia.
That is when someone suggested she file an RTI application with a Rs10-court-fee stamp. This worked. “In 17 days, they delivered the cheque and the pension comes on time,” said Dedhia.
Quick problem fixer
However, for those who live with little savings unlike Dedhia, life is tougher.
Kundan Shah (name changed on request as he is still fighting a case with a government-owned insurance company) had to struggle with his finances when his wife’s medical bill ran up to Rs8 lakh. His wife was suffering from Acute Respiratory Deficiency Syndrome and he thought the treatment would cost Rs 2 lakh.
Grappling with the high treatment cost and an ailing wife, his troubles multiplied when the insurance company claimed that they had not got his originals papers. “They said that the agent I gave my papers to had given me a fake receipt,” said Shah.
When writing to the IRDA grievance redressal forum of the company and ombudsman did not yield any result, he filed an RTI application after approaching Tarun Mitra Mandal. But, this very step pushed the insurance company to act fast.
“First, it said I shouldn’t have filed an RTI application as they had ‘recovered’ my originals indicating that it was me who ‘couriered’ them late,” said Shah.
Shah got Rs8.28 lakh and then Rs9,000 of post-hospital bill.
“They requested me to withdraw my RTI application as they had settled my claim,” said Shah, which he eventually did.
For the people
Officials cannot dare to ignore the Act because of its stringent punishment — fine can go up to Rs 25,000 and they would face disciplinary action.
And this helped octogenarian Kishan Modi get his original property documents after18 years of excruciating wait. In 1994, he gave his documents to the department of registration of stamp.
“I made over 100 rounds till 2004 after which I gave up. Each time I spent hours travelling, sitting in their office only to hear that I should come back,” said Modi.
But the originals were needed when he had to sell his property. A neighbour introduced him to RTI. “In the application, we asked about the status and the officer holding on to the file,” said Modi.
It worked like a magic wand.
The Mumbai office first replied saying they registered it in 2006 and papers were with the Pune office. “The reply implied that they are done with all responsibilities. We did not relent and asked why it had gathered dust from 1994 to 2006. We filed one RTI application at the Pune office too,” said Modi.
Modi got his original property documents in February 2013.
Prafful Kurwa, 65, suffering from vertigo and multiple illnesses too had given up chasing his provident fund money of 1982. “The PF authorities had done away with old documents. I used to run around but gave up. After learning about RTI, I filed an application. The officer first threatened me that he would not reply. But he relented and I got my money,” said Kurwa.
Huge impact
Harnish changed his surname from Shah to Savla and wanted that to reflect in his Kandivli society’s share certificate.
He applied for the same in August 2011 after getting the change of surname gazetted, issuing ads in two newspapers, changing the surname in passport, and ration card. “Despite consulting society lawyer, signing an indemnity bond and re-issuing ads in the news paper as desired by society, the society office-bearers sat pretty. Since my son was preparing to go to Canada and the embassy demanded a letter from the society, we had to speed up,” said Savla. He complained to the registrar’s office, which issued a letter to the society but never followed it up with them.
Savla filed an RTI application, seeking status of his complaint.
“The registrar told us that he was in the dark as his junior did not even put it to him. He sent a letter to the society and within a few days our names were changed in the certificate,” said Savla.
s_ashutosh@dnaindia.net

 

#India – Why is mainstream media silent on the ( IL)LEGALITY of #UID #Aadhaar


Uid- I am not a criminal
by-PoliticallyIncorrect ,http://centreright.in
Why is the Mainstream Media Silent on the (il)legality of the UID Project?- II
In my last post on the UID project of the UPA government, I had raised a few issues about the manner in which the UPA went about implementing the project by circumventing constitutional protocol. In this post, I will address specifically the fundamental legal infirmities of the campaign. In doing so, I will keep this post as lucid as possible without inundating it with legalese.
As stated in the last post, when the Ministry of Planning was asked to clarify on the legality of constituting an executive body such as the UIDAI without there being a specific legislation in place which sanctioned the collection of information under the UID project, the Ministry cited the Attorney General’s opinion who seems to have relied upon Article 73 of the Constitution.
Now what does Article 73 envisage and permit? Below is the relevant portion of the Article which the Attorney General appears to have relied upon to justify what he calls “Executive Authorisation”:
Article 73: Extent of the Executive Power of the Union
Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the executive power of the Union shall extend
To the matters with respect to which Parliament has power to make laws
Let’s interpret this Article step by step. The provision starts with a contingent clause i.e. a “Subject to” clause. This means that all other relevant provisions of the Constitution shall act as a limitation on the executive power of the Central Government (“Union”) to deal with matters with respect to which the Parliament has the right to legislate.
Simply put, if there is any other provision in the Constitution which prevents the Central Government from issuing notifications in the absence of a specific legislation made by the Parliament, such notifications would be patently unconstitutional.
The UID, without a doubt, deals with the private details of individuals, and consequently falls within the realm of “privacy”. The Supreme Court has time and gain clarified that privacy-related issues fall within the ambit of Article 21 since right to privacy has been interpreted as being integral to “right to life” under Article 21.
Therefore, the question is, does the Constitution permit intrusion into privacy through mere executive orders such as the UIDAI notification? Or does the Constitution mandate passing a legislation which is fair and reasonable before private details can be collected?
Article 21 states,
Protection of Life and Personal Liberty: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law
Clearly, Article 21 frowns upon intrusion of privacy except “according to procedure established by law”. Therefore, if the UID notification does not fall under the category of “procedure established by law”, the UPA government cannot invoke its “executive powers” under Article 73 to lend legal sanctity to the UID project.
In as early as 1950, in what is still one of the most celebrated decisions of the Supreme Court on the power of the State to summarily abridge the rights of an individual, the Apex Court in A.K.Gopalan v. The State of Madras held that the reference to “law” in “procedure established by law” in Article 21 is to a formal statute/legislation. In other words, there must be a specific statute which must be invoked to impose restrictions on the life and liberty of any person. This applies to restrictions on and intrusions into the privacy of any person (not just citizen).
Keeping with above requirement of a formal legislation, when information is sought by passport offices, they do so under the Passports Act, 1967. When Road Transport authorities seek details for issuing driving licenses and permits, they do so under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and Central Motor Vehicles Rules. In stark contrast to these legislations, there is no parent legislation which governs the UID notification. This ground alone is sufficient to strike down the UID notification as being unconstitutional. But the story doesn’t end there…
Let’s take a look at what the UID Authority is empowered to do:
(i)    Generate and assign UID numbers
(ii)    Define mechanisms and processes for interlinking UID with partner databases on a continuous basis.
(iii)    Frame policies and administrative procedures related to updating mechanism and maintenance of UID data base on an ongoing basis.
(iv)    Coordinate / liaise with implementation partners and user agencies as also define conflict resolution mechanism.
(v)    Define usage and applicability of UID for delivery of various services.
(vi)    Operate and manage all stages of UID lifecycle.
(vii)    Adopt phased approach for implementation of UID especially with reference to approved timelines.
(viii)    Take necessary steps to ensure collation of NPR with UID (as per approved strategy).
(ix)    Ensure ways for leveraging field level institutions appropriately such as Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) in establishing linkages across partner agencies as well as its validation while cross linking with other designated agencies.
(x)    Evolve strategy for awareness and communication of UID and its usage.
(xi)    Identify new partner / user agencies.
(xii)    Issue necessary instructions to agencies that undertake creation of data bases, to ensure standardization of data elements that are collected and digitized and enable collation and correlation with UID and its partner data bases.
(xiii)    Frame policies and administrative procedures related to hiring / retention / mobilization of resources, outsourcing of various tasks and budgeting and planning for UIDAI and all State units under UIDAI.
The sheer magnitude of powers vested in an executive authority such as the UIDAI in relation to an issue which affects privacy of individuals, in the absence of a governing legislation which provides for safeguards, is atrocious and outrageous.
Where is the safeguard to prevent the use of skewed metrics to profile the population, and that too to facilitate anti-national policies of the Government of the day? Where is the attribution of liability for goof-ups and blunders committed by the authorities? When illegal migration is a raging issue, where is the caveat against legitimizing illegal immigrants by providing them with Aadhaar cards?
Excessive delegation of such vast powers to the executive authority is a strict no-no under Indian law. Here’s what the Supreme Court had to say in Devi Das Gopal Krishnan and Ors.Vs. State of Punjab and Ors. (1967) on the issue of excessive delegation:
“The Constitution confers a power and imposes a duty on the legislature to make laws. The essential legislative function is the determination of the legislative policy and its formulation as a rule of conduct. Obviously it cannot abdicate items functions in favor of another. But in view of the multifarious activities of a welfare State, it cannot presumably work out all the details to suit the varying aspects of a complex situation. It must necessarily delegate the working out of details to the executive or any other agency.
But there is a danger inherent in such a process of delegation. An overburdened legislature or one controlled by a powerful executive may unduly overstep the limits of delegation. It may not lay down any policy at all; it may not declare its policy in vague and general terms; it may not set down any standard for the guidance of the executive; it may confer an arbitrary power on the executive to change or modify the policy laid down by it without reserving for itself and control over subordinate legislation. This self effacement of legislative power in favour of another agency either in whole or in part is beyond the permissible limits of delegation..”
This was the observation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in a case where there was already governing parent legislation in place. In the case of the UID project, I repeat there is no parent legislation at all. Therefore, this caveat against vesting an executive authority with unchecked powers applies all the more to the UID authority.
In light of the above, I can’t help asking this question- How on earth have the Congress-led UPA government in the Centre and a few State Congress governments gotten away with the blatant implementation of the UID project for 4 years since 2009. Where are the bleeding heart liberal voices and mombattiwallahs who arrogate to themselves the exalted status of being the sole guardians of civil liberties? Hypocrisy much? I’d say so…

 

#India- Is the Congress Govt, legitimizing illegal immigration through UID ? #Aadhaar


Biometric scanning of fingerprints during the launch of UID enrolment at the General Post Office in Bangalore

Biometric scanning of fingerprints during the launch of UID enrolment at the General Post Office in Bangalore


PoliticallyIncorrect ,at http://centreright.in
I am sure the title of the post sounds breathless and alarmist to a few, but based on what I have written in the last two posts, no reasonable person can help thinking on these lines. The proponents of the UID project could probably fall over each other to correct me and say-
“The UID is not about vesting or recognizing citizenship! It is about creating a database of residents! So where is the question of legitimizing illegal immigration?“
My response to these enlightened souls would be-
“The UID is not just about compiling the identity details from existing identification documents. It goes a step further to create identity for those who have no documentary proof of their existence. Recognizing residency is the first step towards officially legitimizing the stay of illegal immigrants. The UID gives illegal immigrants a chance to create a new identity for themselves. No illegal immigrant is concerned about citizenship as long as his stay in this country is recognized and he has access to the country’s resources and the Government’s schemes!”
Do I have a concrete basis for holding the view that the UID project aids in legitimizing illegal immigration? I’d invite the proponents of the UID to read the gem that is the “Introducer System” (Refer to Para 3.5 on Page 16 of the hyperlinked document).
Under this system, a network of “approved introducers” introduces a person who has no documents to prove his residence. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the official-sounding shallow document of the UIDAI called the “Demographic Data Standards and Verification procedure (DDSVP) Committee Report”:
“In the UID registration process, registration is proposed to be done through various registrars like the Banks, Insurance Companies, Central and State Government Departments. In each of these institutions, the introducer concept will work like a “tree structure” where one introducer may introduce more than one person. However, someone needs be the first introducer and be the “root” of this tree. The person at the root will be the person who will be “self-introduced”. In other words, that person will be initially registered without any introducer. He will then introduce and get a number of persons registered. This process will then continue.
As an example, in a registration process where State’s Rural Development Department is the registrar and NREGA is the scheme whose beneficiaries are being registered. In this process, the District Magistrate (or the Deputy Commissioner) can “self-introduce” and become the root of the introducer tree. He/She will introduce his/her BDOs and the Block Panchayat heads (known as Block Pramukhs in some states) who implement NREGA. Each of these BDOs and Block Pramukhs can introduce other people at the Panchayat level like the Panchayat Sewaks, Pradhans/Mukhias (elected Panchayat Head), and ward members (in a village Panchayat). Generally, the last category will reach down to the village level. However, in order to ensure that the enrolment process is not hampered by the lack of approved introducers at the ground level, each registrar should have the freedom to decide on the issue of approved introducers so as to ensure that there are people at the ground level who are able to introduce the people who want to enroll in the UID system.”
Notice the latitude and discretion that executive authorities have in identifying/approving Introducers. This is yet another classic instance of excessive delegation with immense potential for abuse and misuse.
Has the UIDAI prescribed guidelines to these cerebral registrars on selecting Introducers? Of course yes. Let’s take a look at these so-called guidelines:
The list of approved introducers should go down till the village/customer level so that the process of registration is not hampered due to lack of introducers.
The registrars need not keep the hierarchy of approved introducers limited to their own department/organization. As an example, in NREGA, there are a number of NGOs involved in NREGA social audit and the registrars could make some of the representatives of these NGOs who work at the village level as the approved introducers. Similarly, the village teachers and postman could also be incorporated as approved introducers by state Governments if required.
At the ground level, residents should have access to multiple introducers so as to avoid harassment by a single introducer.
Introducer list should include credible organizations which have traditionally been advocates of vulnerable communities to make sure goal of inclusion is truly achieved.
I ask myself these few basic questions- So which are these “vulnerable communities” that the guidelines refer to? Is identity creation being used as a pretext by the Congress to undertake a nation-wide exercise to create a new vote bank? Once identities have been created for illegal immigrants using the UID, how difficult is it to make the UID card an acceptable document for registration of voters?…
It really doesn’t take the genius of a Sheldon Cooper to know what’s brewing in the name of UID.
What is truly shocking is that despite such grave dangers which were pointed out in no uncertain terms by the Parliamentary Standing Committee chaired by Shri Yashwant Sinha, the UID is not only spreading its tentacles all over the country, it is slowly being pushed as a mandatory requirement. This is a vastly different position from the initial tune of the Aadhaar card being “voluntary”. Following were the observations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the nexus between the UID and illegal immigration:
“2. The Committee are surprised that while the country is on one hand facing a serious problem of illegal immigrants and infiltration from across the borders, the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010 proposes to entitle every resident to obtain an aadhaar number, apart from entitling such other category of individuals as may be notified from time to time. This will, they apprehend, make even illegal immigrants entitled for an aadhaar number. The Committee are unable to understand the rationale of expanding the scheme to persons who are not citizens, as this entails numerous benefits proposed by the Government. The Committee have received a number of suggestions for restricting the scope of the UID scheme only to the citizens and for considering better options available with the Government by issuing Multi-Purpose National Identity Cards (MNICs) as a more acceptable alternative.”
Before the usual culprits from the left-lib clique accuse people like me of xenophobia, let me clarify that I am not advocating that India should follow a closed door policy and shut its borders. After all, when Indians expect to be welcomed with open arms on both sides of the Atlantic, it makes no sense to say that we must not let others in. That said, let’s not be naive enough to close our eyes to the grave national security challenges that unchecked illegal immigration brings along with it, something that I had alluded to in my first post on CRI titled “Kautilyan Thoughts“.
There are several other problems, including severe technological ones, which plague the UID project that I have not touched upon, but for me the biggest problem is the opaque and surreptitious manner in which the Congress government has been pushing the project aggressively, with double-speak characterising its stance even before Courts. So once again I ask this question: If the Congress government has nothing to hide and the UID project is truly an altruistic one, why does it lack the spine and conviction to debate and legislate in accordance with the law?
Given the manifest public interest involved here, and its implications for the integrity of the nation, we request the enlightened readers of CRI to actively let us know their views on the UID project.

 

 

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