#Pakistan -Sindh Assembly passes domestic violence bill #goodnews

| 8th March, 2013

— File Photo

Sindh PA adopts bill to end domestic violence

From the Newspaper, Dawn  | | 9th March, 2013

KARACHI, March 8: Women lawmakers in the Sindh Assembly on Friday gave a standing ovation to the house when the long-awaited bill against domestic violence was tabled and after brief speeches by legislators was unanimously passed on the 103rd anniversary of International Women’s Day.

Pakistan People’s Party lawmakers described the bill as an achievement of the house according to the vision of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto while Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislators termed it an important step to check violence against women that has always been highlighted by Altaf Hussain.

Under the bill, titled “The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2013”, anyone indulging in violence against vulnerable sections of society, women in particular, would be liable to be sentenced to one year in prison and a Rs20,000 fine.

Sardar Nadir Magsi appeared most vocal about women rights when he said he was in favour of having more severe laws in this regard. He added that violence against women in any form, including Karo-kari, was not restricted to villages but was common in cities as well.

Senior minister Pir Mazharul Haq said credit for piloting the long-awaited bill went to the PPP that had also initiated programmes such as the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Income Support Programme for empowerment of women.

However, he said, the bill was not restricted to women but also related to every individual of this society.

Nuzhat Pathan said if all people became like Nadir Magsi, there would be no need for such laws.

Naheed Begum in her brief speech raised the issue of the law’s implementation, citing that women lacked awareness about how to invoke the law to benefit from it.

Syed Sardar Ahmad said everyone ought to stand in support of the oppressed and it was rightly mentioned in the law that domestic violence includes all acts of gender-based physical or psychological abuse committed by people against women, children or other vulnerable persons.

Law Minister Ayaz Soomro, who piloted the bill, highlighting the need for a separate bill said laws in this regard did exist in the penal code but there was question of their implementation that warranted enactment of this special law to control domestic violence.

After the bill was passed, two resolutions with reference to commemoration of women’s day were read out by Farheen Moghul and Heer Soho, respectively. When put to the house, both were adopted unanimously.

The resolutions pay tribute to the dynamic women of Pakistan and resolve to further the struggle to establish a just and equitable environment for sustainable development of Pakistan.

After the adoption of the resolution, Speaker Nisar Ahmad Khuhro adjourned the session till Monday at 10am.

Earlier when the house was called to order at 11.40am, reports on biannual monitoring on the implementation of the National Finance Commission award for the period from January-June 2011 and July-December 2011 were presented.

Another bill passed on Friday was related to changes in the names of certain positions in local government institutions.

The law minister, who piloted the Sindh Laws (Second Amendment) Bill (bill No 6 of 2012), speaking on its general principles said the title of positions in local government institutions was changed by the amendment bill. He explained that the title of district officer was replaced with collector, executive district officer with commissioner and district coordination officer with district officer.

The Sindh Tenancy (Amendment) Bill — bill 18 of 2013 — was introduced, but its consideration was deferred till Monday.

The introduction and consideration of the bill 20 of 2013 was also deferred to Monday along with consideration of the government bill 17 of 2013 pertaining to the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Human Research and Development Board.


Press Release: Emancipation of Indian Society is impossible without finding a solution to the Caste question


Arvind Memorial Trust
69 A, Baba Ka Purwa, Paper Mil Road, Nishatganj, Lucknow – 226006


Press Note

Attached: Hindi and Punjabi version of the press note along with few pictures.

Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar has started in Chandigarh

Emancipation of Indian Society is impossible without finding a solution to the Caste question

Chandigarh, 12 March. The dicussion involving the various intellectuals and social activists arrived here from different corners of the country on the subject ‘Caste question amd Marxism‘ has started in the Fourth Arvind Memorial Seminar that has commenced in Bhakna Bhavan today.

At the very beginning of the seminar, it was clearly stated that no project of eliminating exploitation in Indian Society can be put forward without giving due consideration to the caste question. In this five-day seminar, various historians, social scientists, writers, social activities from states like Punjab, UP, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra, Bihar etc. are participating. In addition, senior leaders from both the main political parties of Nepal are also participating along with the intellectuals from the Britain and Germany.

In the commencing session of the seminar, Satyam from Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies said that in the seminar, issues like relation between Marxism and Ambedkarism, political ideas of Dr. Ambedkar, Marxist Understanding of the caste qusetion, historiographic writing of the caste question, caste question and dalit literature & aesthetics etc. will be thoroughly debated so that the obtacles to the social change can be removed. He said that in last few years the mechanical thinking prevalent in Marxist circles has undergone a change and in Dalitists also, questions are being raised regarding the ideas of Dr. Ambedkar.

Satyam also said that there has been a trend to bring a compromise between the Marxism & Ambedkarism, and a trend of subaltern & identity politics. Analysis of these trends from Marxist perspective is also the need of the hour.

Managing trustee of Arvind Memorial Trust, Meenakashi said that a national level seminar on the important issues concerning the communist movement of India is organized every year in the memory of Com. Arvind. Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies has been founded to carry out the research and study on the theoretical and practical issues faced by the communist movement of India.

While welcoming the various guests reached for the seminar, Sukhwinder, editor of Punjabi magazine Pratibadh said that left movement in Punjab has a distinct history and the caste question has also always remained here in its peculiar form. It has been a big thing for us that such a seminar is being organized here in Chandigarh.

The commencing session was presided over by the politburo member of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and famous literary critic Ninu Chapagai, senior trade-unionist from Mumbai Deepati, Trustee of Arvind Memorial Trust Meenakshi, and editor of Magazine ‘Ahwan’ Abhinav. The stage was conducted by poetess Katyayani.

The program started after paying homage to Comrade Arvind. Then the team from ‘Vihaan’ cultural group presented revolutionary songs.

Overall, 14 papers and write-ups will be presented in the seminar on different aspects of the subject. The base paper of the seminar ‘Caste Question and its solution: A Marxist Viewpoint’ is prepared by the research team of Arvind Institute of Marxist Studies. Other papers include ‘Ambedkarism and Dalit Liberation’ by Sukhwinder, editor of Punjabi journal Pratibaddh; ‘Historiography of Caste’ by Abhinav, editor, Aahwan; ‘Class, Caste and Identity Politics‘ by Shivani, Delhi University; ‘Caste and Politics in West Bengal‘ by Praskanva Sinharay, CSSS, Kolkata; ‘Caste and Sex in Marxist Traditions’ by Dr. Rajarshi Dasgupta, JNU; Marxism and the caste question’ by Asit Das, Researcher and Activist, New Delhi; ‘On Identity Politics’ by Prashant Gupta, B.R. Ambedkar College, Delhi University; On Conjoint Relevance of Marxism and Ambedkarism by Sukhdev Singh Janagal, Punjab and on the limitations of caste and identity politics by Jai Prakash of the ‘Jati Virodhi Andolan’.

Eminent historian Prof. Irfan Habib will send a background note on caste in India, Ninu Chapagain, Politburo Member and in charge of the Cultural Division of UCPN (M) will present a write-up on ‘The Dalit Question and Aesthetics’ and a paper ‘Towards A Programme for Abolition of Material Basis of Casteist Hierarchy’ by Dr. Anant Phadke, Shramik Mukti Dal (Democratic), Pune will be presented. Prof. William Paul Cockshott, University of Glasgow will make a presentation through internet linkup and his paper ‘Dr. Ambedkar or Dr. Marx’ will be circulated as a background note.

— Meenakshy (Managing Trustee), Anand Singh (Secretary)

Arvind Memorial Trust

For more information, please contact:
Katyayani – 09936650658, Satyam – 9910462009, Namita (Chandigarh) – 9780724125


Press Release– #India- Biometric Identity Card #UID #Aadhaar

PIB, march 12, 2013


The mandate of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is to issue Unique Identity Numbers (Aadhaar) to all residents of the country and not a card. The UIDAI is generating Aadhaar numbers and communicating it to the residents through a letter. The Resident Identity (smart) Cards (RIC) bearing the Aadhaar number would be issued by the Registrar General of Citizen Registration. The RIC would enable both online and offline authentication of identity in a secure manner and will complement the efforts of Aadhaar. The proposal for issuance of Resident Identity (smart) Cards to all the usual residents in the country who are of age 18 years and above under the scheme of creation of NPR has been appraised by the Expenditure Finance Committee (EFC) and recommended at an estimated cost of Rs. 5552.55 crore. The Union Cabinet, in its meeting on 31.01.2013, has considered the proposal and referred the same to a Group of Ministers (GoM). The GoM has since been constituted. To minimize the duplication of efforts between NPR and UIDAI, the Government has decided that the NPR enrolments will continue as envisaged but if in the course of enrolment, a person indicates she/he is already enrolled for Aadhaar, the biometric data will not be captured for NPR. Instead the Aadhaar number will be recorded in NPR and the biometric data will be sourced from the UIDAI.

This was stated by Shri R.P.N.Singh, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs in written reply to a question by Shri P.Karunakaran in the Lok Sabha today.


Facebook ‘likes’ can reveal your sexuality, Politics, Religion’- Really ?


PTI : London, Tue Mar 12 2013

Your Facebook ‘likes’ could be revealing more than even you know about your intimate life!

Researchers were able to accurately infer a Facebook user’s race, IQ, sexuality, substance use and political views, just by analysing their Facebook likes.

A new study by the University of Cambridge involved more than 58,000 Facebook users in the US, who volunteered their ‘likes’, demographic profiles and psychometric testing results through the application myPersonality, and gave their permission for that information to be analysed.

Experts created “statistical models” designed to predict people’s personal details using only their Facebook ‘likes’.

The models turned out to be 88 per cent reliable for determining male sexuality, 95 per cent right when distinguishing African-American from Caucasian American, and 85 per cent accurate in differentiating Republican from Democrat.

Christians and Muslims were correctly classified in 82 per cent of cases and good prediction accuracy was achieved for relationship status and substance abuse – between 65 and 73 per cent, the study published in the journal PNAS said.

“Few users clicked ‘likes’ explicitly revealing these attributes. For example, fewer than five per cent of gay users clicked obvious ‘likes’ such as gay marriage. The predictionsrelied on inference – aggregating huge amounts of less informative but more popular ‘likes’ such as music and TV shows to produce incisive personal profiles,” a spokesman for the research team said in a statement.

“Even seemingly opaque personal details such as whether users’ parents separated before the user reached the age of 21 were accurate to 60 per cent, enough to make the information worthwhile for advertisers,” the spokesman said.

“Some ‘likes’ had a strong but seemingly incongruous or random link with a personal attribute, such as Curly Fries with high IQ, or That Spider is More Scared Than U Are with non-smokers.

“When taken as a whole, the researchers believe the varying estimations of personal attributes and personality traits gleaned from Facebook like analysis alone can form surprisingly accurate personal portraits of potentially millions of users worldwide,” he said.

Researchers say the results also suggest “a possible revolution in psychological assessment” which could now be carried out without costly assessment centres and

questionnaires. But they also warn it may pose a threat to privacy.

They say companies, governments, and even individuals could use it for their own, rather than the users’, advantage.

“We believe our results, while based on Facebook ‘likes’, apply to a wider range of on-line behaviours. Similar predictions could be made from all manner of digital data, statistically predicting sensitive information people might not want revealed,” Michael Kosinski, operations director at the Psychometric Centre, said.

#India- Report reveals Jaitapur Nuclear power plant fault line

Published: Tuesday, Mar 12, 2013,
By Dilnaz Boga | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) has, for a long time, assured the people of Jaitapur that there is “no earthquake activity around the [proposed nuclear power plant] site within a radius of 39km.” However, the central government’s Site Selection Committee states otherwise.

After Dr BG Waghdhare filed an RTI application, some pages of a report dated September 2002 on the assessment of sites for locating nuclear plants — which were kept confidential — were made available to the public.

An activist said that they had trouble extracting the report and that the activists had to approach the RTI Commissioner in Delhi to intervene. “Despite this, the government has only made a few pages of the report public. Why are they trying to hide this information?”

The information in the report states that in the past two decades, there have been 93 medium to high level tremors on the Richter scale at the Jaitapur site, proving that it is earthquake-prone.
The report stated that a fault line “lies at a distance of 10km and follows the Vagothan river for some distance.” Similarly, other fault lines have been found at a distance of 15km, 16km and 24km.

In addition to this, the report states that recently, earthquakes corresponding to Richter magnitude 3 to 5.7 have been reported along the Panvel flexure.

Residents say that in the last 12 years, the mountains in the area have developed massive cracks. “Each crack is three to four kilometres long, with a depth of 50 feet and a width of 70 feet,” said activist Girish Raut, who has been campaigning against the setting up of the nuclear power plant at Jaitapur.



Open Letter to the Chief minister of Odisha #Vaw #Womensday

March 12, 2013

Mr. Naveen Pattnaik we are surprised that you are not ashamed even after women’s day.

Dear Mr. Naveen Pattnaik,

We are deeply anguished and disturbed by the recent turn of frightening and ugly incidents perpetrated by the Odisha government, POSCO management and their hired lumpen criminal elements on the POSCO payroll. They have unleashed extremely barbaric white terror in the anti-POSCO struggling villages of Jaghat Singh Pur, Odisha. On the eve of the women’s day we learnt that the women gave the most desperate threat to the district administration as a last ditch effort. “If the police forces are not withdrawn they will protest naked in front of the police”. This news sent a chill down our spines as this was a confirmation of your wanton behaviour in the area and continuing attemts at escalating violence against agitators that is completely unjustified.

You have proved that you are the biggest enemy of the women of Odisha. Instead of removing the police you charged women with indecent exposure and arrested them.

That shows the apocalyptic vision that women are the most worthless beings, have absolutely no hope in a state governed by you. And remember, all this was happening when your minions of women and child development department and the public relations department were flooding the newspapers and television with your great achievements on the gender front. Whereas in reality you have inflicted on the suffering women of Odisha extreme repression by security forces who rape them in custody, brutally repress them forcibly evict them from land, habitat, livelihood, culture and dignity. The combing operations by your police and paramilitary forces have inflicted most bestial violence that has crossed all the limits of barbarism.

Last time one had seen such a protest taking place was in Manipur in July 2004. The situation, however, was a little different in that case. Assam Rifles had raped and murdered Manorama. Elderly women of Manipur aghast at that had decided for going that protest in sheer desperation. They were a people who had completely lost their faith in the nation that claimed to be their own but acted as an occupying force. Its security forces assaulted the men and raped the women at will and the state legitimised such dreadful practices by allowing the Assam Rifles deployed in Manipur to provide condoms as an integral part of the travel kit,to be used while on patrol duty. Having had enough of this, Manipuri women went to the headquarters of the Assam Rifles, disrobed and flung a banner reading “INDIAN ARMY RAPE US”.

Odisha is thousands of kilometers away from Manipur. The POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) simply announced “Left with no other option, women from the village have decided to get naked before the Policemen tomorrow”. The pain and agony it would take to first decide for holding such a protest and then announcing it to the public was totally lost on you.

The women reached this decision because you as the Chief Minister have abandoned them for POSCO, the multinational company and as its lackey have been violating all rights of the residents with impunity. Anti-POSCO people have reached the decision after getting many of their near and dear ones killed by the hired goons of the company. They have reached the decision for the state government repeatedly sending in an armed-to-teeth police force for cracking down on the peaceful protesters and forcibly acquiring the lands even when the environmental clearance that is mandatory for such projects stand cancelled by the statutory authorities and the MoU with POSCO is defunct. You have destroyed their betel leave vines. You threaten to arrest them if they step out of the village and for years they have lived without even the minimal health services.

Mr. Patnaik, with your slavery and loyalty to the national and international corporations has made you so de-humanized and de-sensitized that you are busy serving their interest and are apathetic to the very people who have brought you into this office.

Your administration lies through its teeth and declares anti-POSCO struggle of making bombs. Your police tries to run over their leader. Such is the rottenness of your rule that even fact finding teams are hounded by company goons who are getting more confident as they are literally getting away with murder.

 Finally, if you have any shame left, Mr. Pattnaik, resign and apologies to the women of Dhinkia, govindpur and Patana.

Endorsed by

Asit Das-  Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi
Kalpana Mehta, Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch, Indore
Kaveri Indira, Scientist, Bangalore
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights Activist , Mumbai
Mamata Dash ,Posco pratirodh solidarity Delhi
Chittraranjan singh National Secretary PUCL
Ashok choudhury NFFPFW
Dr.Sunilam Kissan Sangharsh Samiti
Kiran Shaheen Women against sexual violence and state expression(WSS)
Anand swarup verma Editor samkaleen tisri duniya
Prashant Pairikay, Posco pratirodh sangharsh samiti
K.K. Niyogi All India platform for labour rights
Manj mohan Hind mazdoor sabha
Anil chaudhury INSAF
Insha malik Research sholar JNU
Bhupen singh Research sholar JNU
Vijay pratap Socialist front
Madhuresh NAPM
Rajendra Ravi NAPM
Anna khandre Samajwadi party
Putul Yuva bharat
P.K. sundaram IndiaResists.com
Prakash kumar ray Editor bargad.org
Nayanjyoti Krantikari naujawan sabha
Vinod singh Samajwadi jan parishad
Rakhi Saiigal Labour activist
Gopal Krishna Toxic Watch
Shankar Gopalakrishnan
Saheli, Delhi
Devika Biswas, State convenor

Healthwatch Forum , Bihar


Ruchi Shroff , Mumbai
Madhumita Dutta
Suresh Bhat B, Concerned Citizen, Mangalore
Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL.
Rakmakant Banjare, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)
Nisha Biswas , Kolkata
Swatija, Mumbai
‘Prabhakar Pandit from Mumbai Mobile Creches_
Rahul Yogi Deveshwar

Independent Voice , Shanti se Kranti

Nirja Bhatnagar, Mumbai
Himadri Sekhar Mistri, Research Scholar, Delhi School of Economics
Women’s Research and Action Group
Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Ahmedabad
Anjali sinha  Madhubala from Stree mukti sangathan
Madhubala, from Stree mukti sangathan
Sankara Narayanan_
Sharanya Humane, Koraput
Rakesh Narayana, PUCL – Bangalore
Kaushiki Rao, Bangalore
K. Sajaya, Hyderabad
Uma V Chandru, WSS Activist, Bangalore

Aruna Chandrasekhar, Research and journalist

Shraddha Chickerur

Uma V Chandru, WSS Activist, Bangalore

Pushpa (Member, WSS-Karnataka)

Abha Bhaiya

Anuradha Pati

Kannamma Raman, University of Mumbai

Jeevika Shiv, Centre for Equity Studies, Delhi

Kabi S., Bombay

Devaki Jain

Rina Mukherji

Soma KP

Aanchal Kapur

Trupti Shah, Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)

K. Sajaya, Hyderabad

Kaushiki Rao, Bangalore

Sudha.S. Bangalore

Sadhna, Delhi

Ratna, Law Student, Bangalore

Evangeline Anderson-Rajkumar, Bangalore

M. R. Prabhakar, Bangalore

Nisha Biswas, Kolkata

Gowru Chinnapa, Bangalore

Ayush Ranka, Bangalore

Rakesh Narayana, PUCL – Bangalore

Sharanya, Humane, Koraput

Shakun.M, Bangalore

Soundarya Iyer, Research Scholar, NIAS, Bangalore

Sudha Bharadwaj, Chhattisgarh PUCL.

Rakmakant Banjare, Chattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karyakarta Committee)

Vasanth Kannabiran

Shyama K Narang

Anupriya, Delhi

Chhaya Datar

K. Lalita

Neha Dhingra

Rina, Kolkata

Sutapa Majumdar

Lalita Ramdas, Bhaimala, Alibag

Admiral L. Ramdas, Bhaimala, Alibag

Vinay Bhat, Management Consultant, Santa Clara, CA

Gopika Solanki

Uma Chakravarti

Mary E John

Suneeta Dhar

Arundhati Dhuru

Dr Veena R Poonacha, Director, Research Center for Women’s Studies & Project Director, Dr. Avabai Wadia Archives, SNDT Women’s University

Sharmila Rege

Veena Shatrugna

Gabriele Dietrich

Devangana Kalita

Tungshang Ningreichon, Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights

Meera, Narmada Valley

Prem Verma, Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum, Ranchi, Jharkhand

Lakshmi Premkumar, Programme for Social Action (PSA), New Delhi

Priyanka Borpujari, independent journalist

Koyel Lahiri, MPhil student, CSSSC

K Babu Rao, NAPM, Hyderabad

Lokesh, Stree Mukti Sangathan

Gee Ameena Suleiman

Maitreyi, ALF, Bangalore

 Prafulla Samantara, Convenor, NAPM
Kunal Rawat, New Delhi

Alaka Basu

Anita Ghai, Feminist and Disblity rights activist, Delhi

Parth J Dave, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai



Infosys to pay Rs.20 lakh as compensation to ‘Jaipur blast suspect’ #goodnews


Tuesday March 12, 2013 , Agencies

New Delhi: India‘s leading IT firm Infosys has agreed in the Rajasthan High Court to pay Rs.20 lakh as compensation to Rashid Husain, an IT Engineer, whom it sacked after he was detained in the 2008 Jaipur blasts.

Rashid Husain was detained by the Jaipur police for questioning in connection with the serial blasts that killed around 60 people on 13th May 2008. He was neither arrested, nor charge-sheeted for the blasts.

Infosys however terminated him within weeks of the detention without issuing any show-cause notice and without giving him an opportunity to defend.

He was kept in detention for 10 days and was later released as no evidence against him was found.

Rashid Husain challenged the termination order in the local labor court in August 2008. After three years of hearing, the labor court delivered judgment in his favor in March 2011.

According to Rashid’s counsel Prem Kishan Sharma, the court had observed there were “mala fide” intentions behind his termination.

“The applicant was not offered any opportunity to explain or give evidence on charges levelled against him about concealment of facts and submission of wrong facts.

“The termination is in violation of the Rajasthan Shops and Commercial Establishment Act, 1958. Therefore, he is entitled to be reinstated in service,” the order had said.

Infosys moved the Rajasthan High Court in April 2011 against the labor court judgment. But, the company agreed after 20 months in the High Court to pay a compensation of Rs.20 lakh to the sacked engineer.

After the settlement between Infosys and Husain, the High Court disposed of the case on 21st Jan 2013.

Abuse that women face on the Internet superhighway is targeted at their gender #study #Vaw

Highway harassment

The abuse that women face on the Internet superhighway is targeted at their gender, regardless of the subject of what they post, finds a new study

March 12, 2013
Asha Mahadevan, Midday, March 12, 2013

Giving opinions on the Internet is a lot like walking on the street of the real world. Both make women targets of sexual harassment.” That is what 17 women active on the Internet said to researchers of the Internet Democracy Project (IDP) who conducted a study on the kind of abuse women face online.

Sexual abuse

The researchers revealed their findings at a seminar in RD National College in Bandra recently. The researchers found that a woman need not make a political statement – such as in the Palghar case – to get sexually abusive comments. Even if a woman makes innocuous statements or simply uploads a well-dressed photograph of hers on her public profile on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog, she is very likely to get hundreds of comments that call her a sl*t, b***h and w***e.

“It is an attempt to silence the expression of women in the Internet space,” said Dr Anja Kovacks, project director, IDP. New Delhi-based Anja (pronounced Anya) and her team of four spoke to women active online – via blogs and social networking sites – and the kind of harassment they face from trolls. Anja said they started this project because they realised there has been no proper study conducted on the sexual harassment women face online in India even though there have been such studies conducted abroad. Explaining the reasons behind the sample size of 17 and the scope of the project, Anja said, “In qualitative research, it is common to have small samples. Qualitative research has limitations. The study was very much of an exploration. We have no sense of how many shut up or just disappear (after receiving abuse) but we only know it happens.” Shehla Rashid Shora, project officer, IDP, called the study, “an attempt to start a conversation and it’s never been done in India before.”

The 17 women who were a part of this qualitative research narrated harrowing tales of the kind of harassment they have faced. Explained Shobha SV, a member of the team, “They can range from insults to physical attributes of the woman writer, threats of sexual violence (‘you should be gangraped in public and it should be telecast live’ was one of the threats received) to creating parallel blogs that mock everything in the writer’s actual blog and making and circulating hate pages.” One participant even narrated how one of her photographs was taken off her blog and reposted on a public forum after the abuser painted a moustache on it and defaced it.

The sad fact is that this sex abuse was in response to some of the most innocuous posts these women made – about meeting an ex-boyfriend in the park or relocation from one country to another, or the frustration that their children caused sometimes. It’s worse if they go off topic – if a mommy blogger writes about caste issues or politics, she is the recipient of the choicest abuse. Any woman who talks about domestic violence or marital rape will find herself being called all sorts of uncomplimentary names. “Gender based harassers target the most visible part of gender – the body. There is a perception among harassers that talking about sex will get to women,” said Richa Kaul Padhpe, one of the researchers. “So harassers use sexuality threats to silence women and restrict their speech.”

Added Anja, “Studies have found that women can’t just hang around the street the way guys do. A woman on a road has to have a purpose to occupy that space. Similarly, women in our study referred to the Internet as a street, where you can’t just hang around.” The fears of the women are the same whether they are online or offline, she explained. “Many women don’t tell their families because they get or fear to get the same response as to harassment on the streets – why do you go there? What’s the point in doing this? Why don’t you stop going there?” This then results in self-censorship, said Anja. “You end up positioning yourself in a certain way, you don’t talk about certain topics, or don’t phrase things in a certain way.” Women’s speech is thus restricted.

Priyanka Chaturvedi, General Secretary North West District Youth Congress, has invited abuse with her tweets. The young mother of two has faced gender specific abuse. Says Priyanka, “I have faced so much flak for tweeting, even more so because I come from a political background. If I tweet or write something against Narendra Modi, I come in for a huge backlash from his supporters. Recently, a lie had been spread against me in cyber space saying that I was one of four persons who had gone to meet Sonia Gandhi with reference to the Delhi gang rape case. I got comments like: ‘you should be gang raped’ and ‘your behaviour is worse than that of a sl.t’.”

Priyanka says she has also received comments about flirting with men on Twitter. A change of profile picture leads to responses like: ‘you have a pretty picture but a low IQ’. “The abuse is very personal and can get very nasty.” Priyanka responds by going offline for a couple of days, blocking the abuse, using filters or ignoring it. People have asked me to file a cyber complaint at times. However, there is no way that I am deleting my account, it would mean victory for the abusers.”

Said Anja, “Women use a lot of interesting and wide-ranging strategies to deal with online abuse. Our study revealed that going to the police or taking legal recourse is only the very last measure.” There is an overwhelming reluctance to use the law as many of these women have found that the police are not supportive. When the researchers met police officials on the issue, they were told that women can prevent the abuse by not putting up their pictures online. “The whole discourse was about what women should not do rather than saying ‘don’t abuse,’” recalled Shobha. Added Richa, “The law tends to individualise the crime instead of looking at it as a systemic problem.”

Many women have tried to tackle the problem by hiding their identity. Anonymity gives women the chance to voice their opinion and make friends from different castes, class, religion and political affiliations. The researchers found this to be true especially of sex workers in Delhi. But with the right tools, it is not difficult for any abuser to find a blogger, tweeter or FB writer’s true identity, especially since women tend to use the same anonymous handle across platforms. The abusers on the other hand, are more capable of hiding their identity.

The significance of anonymity is just one of the many questions that this study has raised for Anja and her team. Said Shehla, “The importance of this study is underscored by the fact that it throws up more questions and paradoxes than answers. Anonymity (of the abuser) for example was flagged as a concern by many women. But the same women also said that anonymity gives them agency as well. The question around the law is an inconvenient one – should there be a hate speech law that is inclusive of gender (the current one isn’t)? But the women who themselves have an active internet presence are strongly against censorship.”

The group had come up with a plan to create a hashtag #MisogynyAlert to organise the recipients of such abuse and drive away misogynistic trolls. “But after a few days, two bloggers criticised the way we used the hashtag. And some of the criticism was important – one feminist said that our responses were not compliant with feminist principles. This throws up more questions – while gentle reprimand may work with some people, there are trolls with whom it won’t work. In such a case, do women essentially need to ‘gang up’ to respond to such abuse?”

Anja says, “I hope to take the findings to the government and hope that it will have a positive effect on their decisions regarding Acts such as the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act and those that define obscenity and hate speech.”

Tweet: A 140-character text-based message that a user puts up on the microblogging site, Twitter.
Twitter handle: The online name of a user on the site – it can be their real name or a fake one.
Blogs: Online journals wherein users write articles called blogposts on any subject. The writer is called a blogger.
Mommy blogger: A writer who mainly writes about parenting issues for a niche audience. Daddy blogger trend is also picking up.
Troll: A user who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community to deliberately provoke the writer or to divert the track of the discussion.
Hashtag: A word or phrase prefixed with the symbol # . It is included in the message and is connected to the general topic of the message, so it is easier to search for all messages on one topic.



#India- Budgeting Out Adivasis #Tribals #Indigenous

The finance minister’s package falls far too short of the basic needs of tribals

Brinda Karat

It is budget time once again. Far away from the talk of lakhs and crores of rupees echoing from Parliament to television studios, a thin adivasi teenage girl stands in a queue at her hostel, her plate in her hand, waiting for her share of the gruel that she is given for lunch every day. Her family depends on the money from the minor forest produce her mother gathers from the forest. Her father has lost the money invested to till the two acres of land they own. The family is now in debt. When the child looks around she sees girls who tell the same stories.
What does the budget have for her? She is a beneficiary of a scheme called the pre-matric scholarship scheme. Run by the central government and followed by most state governments the scheme is to fund an adivasi child living in a hostel, her food and other expenses. The money goes directly into the hostel fund. Pre-budget, the amount paid per child was Rs 525. This works out to around Rs 17 a day or, if the child is fed three times a day, less than Rs 6 a meal. That is, assuming that the entire amount is honestly used for the child’s food.
With food inflation relentlessly increasing, the child makes do with a gruel in the morning, a mixture of very watery dal and rice for lunch and dinner, sometimes with vegetables or an occasional egg – which has stopped in many hostels for the last several months. Sadly for this child, P Chidambaram’s budget does not envisage any stipend increase. The increase in the midday meal scheme will not help her as it is mainly for day schools. Since substantial numbers of adivasi children have to live in hostels as there are few secondary schools near their villages, they do not benefit.
The child’s father was at the moneylender’s when the finance minister enhanced the target for agricultural credit to Rs 7 lakh crore. Her father had heard of farmers’ loan waiver schemes. But every time he had been
turned away from the bank. For generations his family has lived on the land, and there was never a question of ownership. But following colonial British policies, the newly independent Indian state had declared itself owner of all forest land, turning adivasis overnight into encroachers. Without the ownership papers he was not eligible for the loan waiver. So he was forced to go to the moneylender for loans with a high interest rate. The loan waiver scheme means little to him or millions of adivasi farmers unless moneylender loans are included.
Near the child’s village, about 20 km away from the hostel, her mother stops in the forest, just as the finance minister is announcing how his heart beats for her community. In this season she and all those able to work are out in the forest, the men climbing the trees to shake and cut while the women wait below to collect the tamarind. She will spend the next day processing it. It takes four people a day to collect about 50 kg of tamarind. The trader will give her Rs 15 for her two days’ labour of collection and processing, and sell it in the market for Rs 80 a kg. She knows the tendu season is going to start soon. For every 50 leaves she collects, she can hope to receive between 50p and 65p (this varies from state to state and can be as low as 40p) though the trader who buys it from her will get not less than between Rs 1.20 and Rs 2 depending on the quality. Does the budget help her?
The Haque committee set up by the panchayati raj ministry, estimated in its May 2011 report that 275 million adivasi women and men depend on minor forest produce (MFP). The report detailed the rampant exploitation in MFP trade and strongly recommended that the government set up a commission to ensure a minimum support price (MSP) for MFP on the lines of MSP for foodgrains. The estimated cost of procurement according to the committee was between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,000 crore a year.
The Planning Commission in its 12th five-year plan brought down the cost to Rs 2,000 crore for the entire Plan period, or just Rs 400 crore a year. But in this budget, the second year of the Plan, not a single paisa is allocated for MSP for minor forest produce. Nor is there even a mention of setting up a commission.
The finance minister’s claims sound hollow, judged against the needs of adivasi communities – a decent scholarship programme for adivasi children, special credit for adivasi farmers and minimum support price for minor forest produce.
Statistics of increased expenditure bandied about need to factor in not just the almost 8% inflation rate, but also compare the expenditure as a proportion of the GDP. The expenditure on the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) is 0.22% of GDP this year, which is exactly the proportion it was last year.
Even taking the ST population as 8.2%, which is on the lower side, the allocations for the TSP are short by Rs 20,938 crore. Even today only one-third of the 21 central ministries and departments charged to allocate funds for the TSP are doing so. But the trimurti of the prime minister, the finance minister and the Planning Commission chairman, keen to cut expenditures in order to manage the deficit created because of their own flawed policies, think it better to ignore this violation.
The writer is a member of the CPM politburo.

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