Mumbai Train Blast -Wife of blast accused demands relief #mentaltroture #harassment


Mumbai, dhns, march 12, 2013

Saeedun-Nissa (42), wife of Mohammed Ali, one of the accused of 2006 Mumbai train blasts, has sought medical compensation as well as action against Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) officials for allegedly subjecting her to mental torture and harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Mumbai Police Commissioner with copies to the Bombay High Court Chief Justice, Saeedun-Nissa has charged that ATS officials barged in her house at any given hour, abused her and sometimes even physically assaulted her children.

Talking to Deccan Herald, Jamiatul Ulema, (Maharashtra Legal Cell) secretary Gulzar Azmi said that Saeedun-Nissa submitted her complaint to MCOCA Court (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) Judge Y D Shinde as well as the High Court Chief Justice and National Commisson for Women and Human Rights Commission,
“We will wait for a month and if no action is taken with regard to her deteriorating health and piling medical bills…then we will move the high court. Saeedun-Nissa has become a high-blood pressure patient because of the continual harassment meted to her by ATS officials and she has named them in her complaint,” Azmi said.

In her letter, Saeedun-Nissa living in Shivaji Nagar slums in Govandi, a north-eastern suburb of Mumbai, recounting the horrors to which she is subjected to she stated, “ My husband a bead-seller was named as an accused only because he had dared to complaint against a video parlour screening pornographic film in neighbourhood.

Police officials know this fact that it is a frame-up but despite this these officials barge into our house and start questioning me whenever a terror attack takes place in any part of the country.  “They are never accompanied by women constables and several times they have slapped my 12-year-old son Sohail in front of my eyes.

The physical assaults and humiliations by these officers have made a diabetic and a high-blood pressure patient.” she alleges. Naming the ATS officials, the victim apart from seeking medical compensation from police has also sought posting of women constables in front of her hut so that her family  gets some respite from ATS officials.

 

Status of #Death Penalty Worldwide #mustshare


No death penalty

 

March 12, 2013 ,http://www.srai.org

 

According to Amnesty International, 140 countries have abolished the death penalty. In 2012, only one country, Latvia, abolished the death penalty for all crimes. In 2011, 21 countries around the world were known to have carried out executions and at least 63 to have imposed death sentences. See also U.S. Figures.

 

Death Penalty Outlawed (year)1

 

  • Albania (2000)
  • Andorra (1990)
  • Angola (1992)
  • Argentina (2008)
  • Armenia (2003)
  • Australia (1984)
  • Austria (1950)
  • Azerbaijan (1998)
  • Belgium (1996)
  • Bhutan (2004)
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina (1997)
  • Bulgaria (1998)
  • Burundi (2009 )
  • Cambodia (1989)
  • Canada (1976)
  • Cape Verde (1981)
  • Colombia (1910)
  • Cook Islands (2007)
  • Costa Rica (1877)
  • Côte d’Ivoire (2000)
  • Croatia (1990)
  • Cyprus (1983)
  • Czech Republic (1990)
  • Denmark (1933)
  • Djibouti (1995)
  • Dominican Republic (1966)
  • Ecuador (1906)
  • Estonia (1998)
  • Finland (1949)
  • France (1981)
  • Gabon (2010)
  • Georgia (1997)
  • Germany (1949)
  • Greece (1993)
  • Guinea-Bissau (1993)
  • Haiti (1987)
  • Honduras (1956)
  • Hungary (1990)
  • Iceland (1928)
  • Ireland (1990)
  • Italy (1947)
  • Kyrgyzstan (2007)
  • Kiribati (1979)
  • Latvia (2012)
  • Liechtenstein (1987)
  • Lithuania (1998)
  • Luxembourg (1979)
  • Macedonia (1991)
  • Malta (1971)
  • Marshall Islands (1986)
  • Mauritius (1995)
  • Mexico (2005)
  • Micronesia (1986)
  • Moldova (1995)
  • Monaco (1962)
  • Montenegro (2002)
  • Mozambique (1990)
  • Namibia (1990)
  • Nepal (1990)
  • Netherlands (1870)
  • New Zealand (1961)
  • Nicaragua (1979)
  • Niue (n.a.)
  • Norway (1905)
  • Palau (n.a.)
  • Panama (1903)
  • Paraguay (1992)
  • Philippines (2006)
  • Poland (1997)
  • Portugal (1867)
  • Romania (1989)
  • Rwanda (2007)
  • Samoa (2004)
  • San Marino (1848)
  • São Tomé and Príncipe (1990)
  • Senegal (2004)
  • Serbia (2002)
  • Seychelles (1993)
  • Slovakia (1990)
  • Slovenia (1989)
  • Solomon Islands (1966)
  • South Africa (1995)
  • Spain (1978)
  • Sweden (1921)
  • Switzerland (1942)
  • Timor-Leste (1999)
  • Togo (2009)
  • Turkey (2002)
  • Turkmenistan (1999)
  • Tuvalu (1978)
  • Ukraine (1999)
  • United Kingdom (1973)
  • Uruguay (1907)
  • Uzbekistan (2008)
  • Vanuatu (1980)
  • Vatican City (1969)
  • Venezuela (1863)

 

Death Penalty Outlawed for Ordinary Crimes2 (year)

 

  • Bolivia (1997)
  • Brazil (1979)
  • Chile (2001)
  • El Salvador (1983)
  • Fiji (1979)
  • Israel (1954)
  • Kazakhstan (2007)
  • Latvia (1999)
  • Peru (1979)

 

De Facto Ban on Death Penalty3 (year)4

 

  • Algeria (1993)
  • Benin (1987)
  • Brunei (1957)
  • Burkina Faso (1988)
  • Cameroon (1997)
  • Central African Republic (1981)
  • Congo (Republic) (1982)
  • Eritrea (n.a.)
  • Gambia (1981)
  • Ghana (n.a.)
  • Grenada (1978)
  • Kenya (n.a.)
  • Korea, South (1997.)
  • Laos (n.a.)
  • Liberia (n.a.)
  • Madagascar (1958)
  • Malawi (n.a.)
  • Maldives (1952)
  • Mali (1980)
  • Mauritania (1987)
  • Morocco (1993)
  • Myanmar (1993)
  • Nauru (1968)
  • Niger (1976)
  • Papua New Guinea (1950)
  • Russia (1999)
  • Sierra Leone (1998)
  • Sri Lanka (1976)
  • Suriname (1982)
  • Swaziland (n.a.)
  • Tajikistan (n.a.)
  • Tanzania (n.a.)
  • Tonga (1982)
  • Tunisia (1990)
  • Zambia (n.a.)

 

Death Penalty Permitted

 

  • Afghanistan
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belize
  • Botswana
  • Chad
  • China (People’s Republic)
  • Comoros
  • Congo (Democratic Republic)
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Qatar
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe

 

NOTE: n.a. = date not available. 1. If death penalty was outlawed for ordinary crimes before it was outlawed in all cases, the earlier date is given.

 

2. Death penalty is permitted only for exceptional crimes, such as crimes committed under military law or in wartime.

 

3. Death penalty is sanctioned by law but has not been the practice for ten or more years.

 

4. Year of last execution. Source: Amnesty International.

 
Read more: The Death Penalty Worldwide | Infoplease.comhttp://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html#ixzz2Mdc8o4MN

 

 

 

Cash for vote? #Aadhaar #UID


 

 REETIKA KHERA, Frontline

 

The government’s headlong rush to Aadhaar-linked payments for welfare schemes is bound to lead to their disruption and the exclusion of people who need them.

SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP 

Residents of the village. The Kotkasim experiment had problems such as poor access to banks, overcrowding, and poor road connectivity. 

AT least three questions come to one’s mind on hearing the news about the government’s big move towards “direct cash transfers”. These are: What are the lessons we can learn from Brazil and Mexico, which are often invoked as examples of successful implementation of cash-transfer schemes? What is new about the government’s announcement? Can cash transfers win votes for the ruling coalition in the 2014 elections? A careful examination of the Prime Minister’s announcement of November 26, 2012, suggests that what is being planned as a big repackaging exercise will boomerang on the rulers in the elections.

The case of Brazil will give us an understanding of what cash transfers actually are. Comparisons with Bolsa Familia, Brazil’s successful conditional cash-transfer programme, are made out of context. In Brazil, cash transfers are one among many social protection measures. Cash transfers were put in place to encourage people to use existing public services. As far as food security is concerned, the Brazilian government is now putting in place systems for the supply of subsidised food that the Indian government is trying to dismantle. In fact, health, education and food are legal entitlements in Brazil. The most important lesson for India from Brazil would be to get on with the enactment of the National Food Security Act, which was tabled in Parliament last December.

Further, Brazil is a very different country—with lower poverty rates, higher rate of urbanisation, near-universal literacy rates and a better administrative capacity. Going by the poverty benchmark of $1.25 as PPP, or purchasing power parity, less than 7 per cent of Brazilians are poor. In India, one-third of the people live below the poverty line. Higher rates of urbanisation (85 per cent of Brazil’s population is urban, compared with 30 per cent in India) means greater access to banks. Given this, it is not surprising that Bolsa Familia has been a big success in Brazil.

No Clear Game Plan

The government’s announcement on cash transfer appears to have been made without a proper road map. For example, it lacked clarity on which subsidies are to be converted to cash transfers. On December 9, the Rural Development Minister said that food would not be included in the cash-transfer scheme. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha the next day, the Food Minister stated that in fact the failed Kotkasim kerosene model (tried in Kotkasim mandal in Alwar, Rajasthan) was going to be rolled out in six Union Territories and Puducherry. Within a few days, some clarifications were issued, which included a hint that the government was backtracking. It appeared that food and fertilizers were not part of the game plan, whereas scholarships and pension schemes, which are already cash transfers, were part of the plan. When this was pointed out, the government asserted that it was putting in place a new and superior system of making these payments: a micro-ATM network, interoperable and Aadhaar-enabled. As it turns out, in many States, cash for these schemes is already routed through the bank accounts of the beneficiaries. Except for linking bank accounts to the Unique Identification Number (UID) and a different name, there was very little new in the government’s announcement.

In fact, there are three components to the government’s proposal on direct benefit transfers (DBTs): computerisation, extending banking services and linking with Aadhaar. The real potential for changing the game lies with the first two, whereas Aadhaar-enabled transfers carry the risk of excluding current beneficiaries.

The Central government has woken up somewhat belatedly to the transformational potential of computerisation in implementing welfare programmes. State governments have already developed many intelligent applications of this technology. Chhattisgarh has demonstrated that end-to-end computerisation of the public distribution system (PDS) combined with other reforms is a game changer: leakages dropped from 50 per cent to just 10 per cent between 2004-05 and 2009-10, the period during which computerisation was undertaken. Andhra Pradesh’s MIS (management information system) for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) facilitates real-time tracking of all payments at each step. Similarly, payment through bank or post-office accounts provides protection from fraud and corruption. In 2007-08, leakages from the NREGS in Andhra Pradesh were between 1-3 per cent.

Since 2008, it has been mandatory to pay NREGS wages through bank and post-office accounts. The Reserve Bank of India allowed “zero balance” accounts for NREGS workers. This led to the largest financial inclusion drive: more than 80 per cent of job card holders have bank accounts. It is claimed that since Aadhaar is “know your customer”, or KYC, compliant, it will lead to financial inclusion. This is true, but there are two caveats: one, just about a third of the population has an Aadhaar number. Two, the requirements to open a bank account and to get Aadhaar are the same: proof of identity (ID) and proof of address. Aadhaar’s only value addition is that it has an introducer system for those without these documents.

It is claimed that Aadhaar-enabled payments are portable (cash can be withdrawn from any ATM in the country) and interoperable (it can be withdrawn from any bank’s ATM). But portability and interoperability are possible thanks to centralised online real-time environment (CORE) banking, not Aadhaar. It has also been claimed that Aadhaar’s superior “plumbing” will fix delays in payments (such as NREGS wages and pensions). However, the main reason for delays is the lack of accountability. For instance, engineers do not visit worksites for inspection without which payments cannot be sanctioned.

Ghost and duplicate beneficiaries exist in schemes such as pensions and the PDS: benefits are either used by their family or by corrupt dealers. The Andhra Pradesh government’s pension social audit suggests that 1 per cent of beneficiaries were ghosts or duplicates across six pension schemes. The figure is likely to be higher for other schemes, but we do not know the size of this problem. Biometrics (of which UID is only one variety) can weed out such beneficiaries.

Some argue that linking with Aadhaar will reduce corruption. This is possible only in very specific cases. As the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) itself has admitted, Aadhaar cannot help us identify the poor. What it can help with is to weed out “ghost” names. However, there are other efficient ways of doing this, for example, by computerising records and bringing about greater transparency (pasting printouts of the list of beneficiaries on panchayat walls).

Banking correspondents (BCs) have been used to remedy problems of poor reach of modern banking in rural areas. BCs take cash to the village, and authenticate payments using handheld biometric machines. But first-generation BCs, introduced with fanfare only recently, are now described by the Rural Development Minister as “discredited”. Aside from technical hurdles, extortion and financial viability (because of poor commissions and low volumes) have been issues. A new model (BC 2.0) is being launched with equal fanfare: a million-strong BC network, consisting primarily of front-line government workers (anganwadi and health workers, PDS dealers, cooperative societies, and so on) but also kirana (neighbourhood grocery) stores. A higher commission (3.14 per cent) is suggested. To ensure volumes, all in-kind transfers may be “cashed out”. For food, the Kotkasim kerosene cash transfer model is being tried out. Given the experience of triumphalism preceding rigorous testing, one needs to proceed with caution. In any case, it is not clear whether BC 2.0 needs Aadhaar.

The Kotkasim ‘success’

Even if there is value addition in what is being proposed, the pilot studies conducted so far suggest that there are bound to be teething problems such as poor access to banks, over-crowding and connectivity issues. For example, the government proposes to link NREGS and pensions to Aadhaar. It is now well known that biometrics of the elderly and of those who do physical labour often throw up authentication hurdles. It is unlikely that the elderly, for whom pensions are a lifeline, will take these troubles kindly. Further, these “teething” problems are likely to come up at a crucial time—just before the elections.

In the case of kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), the government proposed that consumers buy them at the market prices instead of subsidised prices. The subsidy will be reimbursed into their bank accounts if kerosene is bought. Under the Kotkasim kerosene pilot project, consumers now pay Rs.50/litre of kerosene instead of Rs.15. The balance amount of Rs.35, is supposed to be deposited in their bank accounts. The pilot project was initiated in December 2011, and in the initial months, a crash in kerosene sales was reported. This crash was projected as a success—an indication of how the new system plugged “leakages”.

SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP 

A kerosene dealer in Budhi Bawal village in Kotkasim block, Alwar district, Rajasthan, on October 15, 2012. The block was chosen for a pilot scheme in December 2011 to end the sale of subsidised kerosene. 

However, a visit to some villages in Kotkasim suggests that a large part of the crash in sales is actually because many ration card holders do not have bank accounts. This means that their subsidy cannot be reimbursed, and that they have stopped buying kerosene. Even those who have bank accounts have not received the subsidy or have received it erratically. Many of them have stopped purchasing kerosene.

There were other hassles too, such as those relating to bank accounts. Though these were supposed to be zero-balance accounts, some were forced to deposit Rs.500 to open accounts. In some cases, money was deducted if they failed to maintain a minimum balance. Many did not get subsidy at all. Banks are located far away from their houses, and there is very little public transport. At the banks they are not treated very well.

Funnily (or scarily) enough, this nightmare hit the headlines in June 2012 as “a stunning success in stopping leakages”; the business press gave the news “star status” on the basis of the District Collector’s report. The refusal to acknowledge failure is not new, but to project it as a success is certainly new. The Kotkasim experiment shows that while there is no guarantee that delivery mechanisms would be improved, it could end up leading to a collapse of the existing system by driving people out.

Another glimpse of the disruption that linking social welfare schemes with Aadhaar can cause is visible in Jharkhand where the UID-NREGS pilot project began in December 2012. Fingerprint recognition failure, software issues, connectivity and so on have caused repeated disruption. In the capital Ranchi, these problems continue in the three panchayats where it was launched last year. The lack of banking infrastructure, a questionable BC model with mixed success so far, and an administrative capacity that is already overstretched mean that no significant scaling up has been possible.

Aadhaar is being made, de facto, compulsory for welfare schemes. With two-thirds of the population not having an Aadhaar card, many are bound to be denied entitlements. Such reports have already come in from the 20 districts where the pilot study was launched. Things may fall in place eventually, but one can imagine the impact of being denied work or salary—even for a month—because of the lack of an Aadhaar number.

On preparedness, too, there is confusion: 51 districts were chosen for the pilot study reportedly because Aadhaar enrolments in them were high. As per media reports, this is not true. In Rajasthan, the three chosen districts have very low rates of enrolment: Alwar had an enrolment rate of 23 per cent, Ajmer 21 per cent and Udaipur 20 per cent. Similarly in Ramgarh (Jharkhand), two hours from Ranchi and the site of a UID-NREGS pilot project, it was 40 per cent. Low enrolment rates combined with making Aadhaar compulsory can only lead to exclusion of existing beneficiaries.

Also, possession of an Aadhaar number does not automatically guarantee access to any welfare benefits. Today, Aadhaar is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition to get, say, your pension or scholarship. The fear is that once the programme is rolled out it will become a necessary condition without being a sufficient condition. This, if it happens, will mean that if you are entitled to Rs.200 a month as your old age pension today, you will not get the pension from January if you fail to complete the necessary paperwork by January 1.

Nobody denies that there is huge scope for improving the reach of welfare schemes, especially through computerisation and expansion of banking. However, linking benefits with Aadhaar carries the risk of disrupting schemes even where they work well currently. The poor will be left with the bathwater as the biometric industry runs away with the baby.

Media reports suggest that the government believes that the push towards direct cash transfers will be a “game changer” and even help the ruling alliance garner votes in the 2014 elections. However, on the ground, the rush to Aadhaar-linked payments is bound to lead to disruption of these welfare schemes and the exclusion of people who need them. Shankar Singh’s (of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan) words at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, are more likely to come true: “You transfer cash, we’ll transfer our votes.”

 

Crude Questions about Crude Bombs


:Biju Mathew, kafila.org

MARCH 13, 2013

This is a guest post by BIJU MATHEW

Tarun Mandal, Narahari Sahu and Manas Jena are dead, blown up by what the media has described as a “crude” bomb. All bombs are crude. They kill. They are meant to destroy flesh and bone. They are aimed at sucking out life. Lakshman Mandal battles for his life in a Cuttack hospital. He knows how crude a bomb is. Hopefully he will live to tell the tale of its crudeness.

This is a partisan piece. But it aims to produce balance. Almost all media reports so far have had a strong spin that the three – Narahari, Tarun and Manas – were killed while making a crude bomb. So says Mr. Satyabrata Bhoi, Jagatsinghpur SP. Nobody has bothered to ask him any further questions. It’s quite understandable. Asking any more questions might make the entire spin untenable. For instance, they could have asked: why is it that something illegal, such as crude bomb making, was being done out in the open and not within the confines of a house? Especially given that for the last month, the police have been constantly in and out of the village? Especially because there are at least a few dozen pro-POSCO folks in the village? Why would three leaders of an oppositional movement sit outside on the porch of a house that is fully identified with POSCO Pratirodh Sangran Samiti (PPSS) and make bombs – openly, for all to see – at 6.30 PM when there is enough light for anybody to see them? Isn’t crude bomb making normally confined to the indoors? How many incidents do we know of where crude bomb making was happening outside in broad daylight? Isn’t the RSS, the most famous outfit that makes crude bombs and occasionally manages to blow up its own, always known to make its bombs indoors?

Do these seem like too basic a set of question? If so,  its simplicity is only paralleled by the holes it can open up in Mr. Bhoi’s story.

Maybe we should ask a few more complicated questions. Who are the dead? Why not ask this question and see if its answer fits the profile of somebody you think could sit in the open and make a bomb? Three of the four – Narahari, Tarun and Lakshman – were/are senior leaders of the PPSS. With their main leader, Abhay Sahu, in-and-out of jail and facing risk of further arrest under trumped up charges, these were the men who were holding everything together for PPSS. The fourth, Manas, was an upcoming leader and is the brother of yet another PPSS senior leader, Prakash Jena. If the media had bothered to talk to the residents of Gobindpur they would have known that Narahari was getting ready to walk through the village to announce a meeting. ‘Narahari sir’ as he was popularly known (because he also taught at the local school on occasion) was a man of impeccable reputation – courageous and incorruptible. Who stands to gain by wiping out the second rung of the PPSS leadership in Gobindpur? Why has no one bothered to ask who these men were, or what their position was in the ongoing struggle? What were their roles in the village? Who stood to gain the most from their death?  Lakshman is a landless laborer. He does not own a single decimal of the land he is defending. How come this has yet to be reported on? Why would a landless msn be in such a struggle, let alone make bombs?

Not good enough? Surely, just this much should be enough for any critical minded journalist who takes his/her trade seriously. But then why not ask a few more questions? There are indeed more that could be asked.

This is not the first bomb to explode in Gobindpur. These were not the first lives lost to bombs. In the recent history of this village-in-struggle, this is the second bomb. The first went off on June 20, 2008 during an anti-POSCO demonstration, when a similar ‘crude’ bomb was hurled at the demonstrators. One person was killed. The only person to have died in what has largely been a non-violent struggle, but for the numerous times that the villages have been attacked by either the police or pro-POSCO goons. And the only person who had died so far was Tapan Mandal, Tarun’s brother. What do we have to say to a family that has given two children to the struggle?

Here is where the ruthlessness of this enterprise becomes most evident. The main accused in the complaint filed regarding the murder of Tapan Mandal is Prafulla Mohanty, a local BJD, pro-POSCO activist. And the main eye-witness cited in the complaint? Narahari Sahu.

Prafulla Mohanty has the honor of being accused in at least half a dozen more complaints about attacks on the anti-POSCO villages. The investigation of Tapan’s murder has been languishing for four years now. Mr. Bhoi and his posse have not moved an inch on the only killing that had happened so far. And Prafulla Mohanty? If anybody bothered to ask some of the locals, they would have been told that ever since the police attack of four weeks ago, Prafulla Mohanty has been walking around Gobindpur threatening anybody he can find. Its been reported that Mr. Sangram Mahapatra, the local Industrial Development Corporation of Orissa (IDCO) chief caught on video brutally beating a villager, has been calling PPSS leaders up on their mobile phones and doing the same. Who is a better candidate for arranging and detonating crude bombs: a landless agricultural worker or a BJD goon whose every effort has been opposed by the very same people who are now dead?

I first met all four – Narahari, Tarun, Manas and Lakshman – during my second visit to Orissa to research betelvines in June 2010. Narahari was amongst the first people in the village to lead me through a paan-kethi shed. He was meticulous in outlining the economics of betel leaf. He walked me up and down a shed and made me count the number of rows of the vine. I was introduced to Tarun and Manas. But today, I can’t remember anything they said, their contribution to the focus group, their gestures… I would feel better if I could. As if my feeling better matters. Lakshman came across as a quiet and withdrawn person initially. I asked him why he, who had no land, was part of the movement? For a brief moment, he looked away – fixed his eyes on the ground below him – and then looked up at me. “Why not?” he asked me.  CPI State Secretary Diwakar Nayak issued a statement on Thursday that Lakshman’s life was in danger – that he may still be killed. He urged the State to give Lakshman police protection. How ironic.

[Biju Mathew Is Associate Professor of Business at Rider University, NJ and a coordinator of the Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Group (www.miningzone.org), a research and advocacy collective that has published the most comprehensive report on the POSCO project to date – Iron and Steal: The POSCO India Story. He is also a co-author of a recent EPW article that analyzes the faulty assumptions underlying the Social Cost Benefit Analysis used to justify the POSCO India project.]

 

Online #Aadhaar slot booking fails #UID- yeh to hona hi tha :-P


 

 

DC | Amar Tejaswi |

200 px

Hyderabad: The much-publicised online slot booking system for Aadhaar enrolments seems to be encountering serious problems.
Officials, who were publicising the ease of Aadhaar enrolment with the online slot booking system, are now saying that minute-to-minute list of slots available at all enrolment centres are impossible to maintain.
The Aadhaar enrolment slot booking website remained  unresponsive on Tuesday. Now, only enrolment centres inside the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation limits would offer online slot booking by phone or the Aadhaar website. Those outside the GHMC have been deleted from the system.
Also, the slot availability dates were going to April and June in centres in Hyderabad. It was the end of March for most centres in Ranga Reddy district.
With only three days to go for the extended deadline to link Aadhaar to LPG connections, people are still grappling with enrolment. Even  those enrolment centres  offering online slot booking doesn’t seem to be serving any purpose, as several people reported being turned back from the centres or made to wait there for a long time since there was already a long list of pending applications.
Ranga Reddy district collector A. Vani Prasad on Tuesday asked people not to panic and said that the deadline is not binding. Regarding the online slot booking system, she said,  “It is probably due to the previous day’s pendency. Initially, the system encountered problems, but it is fine now,” she said.
However, B. Narsimha Reddy, district supplies officer, Rangareddy, said, “It is not possible to make  minute-to-minute list of slots available online. All the rural centres have been deleted from online booking, retaining only those under the GHMC limits.”

 

 

 

#Mumbai -Memorial meeting for Professor Lotika Sarkar (1927- 2013) @Mar 13


lot
                                                                                                 Dr. Mithu Alur, Founder Chairperson,

The Spastics Society of India

Invites you to a commemorative event

In fond memory of her Late Aunt

 

To celebrate her glorious life and to salute her efforts in making the country’s laws sensitive  and to uphold gender-justice, social justice and women’s rights

On Wednesday March 13, 2013 from  6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

  

 Professor Lotika Sarkar (1923- 2013)

 Eminent Scholar and Feminist

Renowned feminist scholars, activists of the women’s movement, legal luminaries, media personalities, and activists linked with NGOs and friends will express their tributes

 

At the Auditorium

National Resource Centre for Inclusion, ADAPT

K.C. Marg, Bandra Reclamation, Bandra (W),

Mumbai – 400050

 

The programme will be followed by Tea and snacks

R.S.V.P. Ms. Theresa D’Costa- 9820017792

 

Remembering Lakshmi, ‘Devi’ #Obituary #Vaw #Womenrights


Lakshmi, 'Devi' ( Mathamma)

S Anandhi, EPW march 16, 2013 vol xlviiI 32 no 11

As a dedicated Mathamma, Devi’s world consisted of the violent

realities of caste oppression and sexual exploitation. Struggling

to negotiate her convictions to abolish the practice of dedicating

women to the goddess, she wanted to show her fellow

Mathammas how it is still possible to struggle for one’s own

autonomy. Like her life, her death too was a centre of controversy.

Just as her life, Lakshmi’s death too is dogged by controversy. The news

of her suicide was almost unbelievable,indeed shocking, since she was a

fi ghter despite having had to struggle against poverty and sexual violence all

her life. At the age of seven, Lakshmi,also known as Devi, an Arunthathiyar

woman, was dedicated to her caste goddess,Mathamma, and performed as a

dancer during the Mathamma festival in10 villages of Thiruthani taluka in Tiruvallur

district of Tamil Nadu. No one remembers her original name – she was

known only as Mathamma like the other dedicated women in her village.

I met Devi in 2009 as part of my research project on dalit women activists

in the offi ce of the Rural Women’s Liberation Movement in Arakkonam. Looking

famished, a bright-eyed woman with attractive features was introduced to me

as the president of the recently formed Mathamma Relief and Rehabilitation

Association and as one of the activists of the Rural Women’s Liberation Movement.

As part of her campaign against the practice of dedicating women to the goddess,

she rechristened herself Devi and refused to being called Mathamma. Devi was clear

she wanted an identity for herself and not to be lost in the generality of being

the “goddess”. However, she feared that removing her mangalsutra or thali, the

symbol of her dedication to Mathamma might invite the wrath of the goddess

leading to her death or some serious illness. Not surprisingly, many criticised

her for not being courageous enough to remove the thali.

The Rebel

As I understood from my conversations with Devi, she was struggling to negotiate

her convictions to abolish the practice of dedicating women to the goddess both

in her struggle for survival as an impoverished, outcaste, landless labourer, and

as a Mathamma controlled by both the upper caste and her own caste men

It was important for Devi not to give up her identity as a Mathamma since

she was bargaining with the state for the betterment of all the women who

had been dedicated to the goddess. It was equally important for her to be a

Mathamma in order to challenge the men of her community from within and

to show fellow Mathammas how it was possible to struggle for one’s own

autonomy even within the limits imposed by the system.

Devi’s world was not just of “radical political activism” demanded of her by

her organisation; it also consisted of violent realities of caste oppression and

sexual exploitation specifi c to her life as              a “Devadasi”.

As a dedicated Mathamma from the age of 16, Devi resisted her

caste panchayat regulating her sexual life. She refused to pay the fi ne imposed

on her for living with a Paraiyar man without the approval of the panchayat.

After living with her for 18 years, he left her with three children. By then Devi

had given up dancing, which had at least sustained her and her family. Nonetheless,

she resisted dominant caste men,Naidus in this case, taking advantage of

her situation and refused offers of monetary favours in exchange for sex. It is the

assertion of her sexual rights and her awareness of what she was entitled to

that invited the wrath of her natal family and her caste community refused to

help in her struggle to survive. Narrating these bitter experiences she once

remarked that she is “an outcaste among the outcastes”.

Persistent poverty and the refusal of the dominant castes to employ her as an

agricultural labourer (since she rejected their advances) pushed her back into

dancing during the Mathamma festival and, occasionally, into sexual labour for

a pittance. This enabled her to survivebut did not provide enough to send her

son to school. Devi was conscious and aware that many women in her organisation

did not share the same moral and ethical world that she lived in but that

did not deter her from talking about it and the pain and pleasure it entailed.

Indeed, regular consumption of alcohol and her sexual choices were at the

centre of the criticism she faced within her village and organisation, though

the latter was concerned about her health. Devi often dismissed these

remarks as talk of “privileged people” (vasadi ullavanga pesuvanga) but did

not get discouraged.

Devi carried on her struggle to get patta lands for Mathammas and eventually

got three cents of land with a housing patta and managed to build a small

hut to live in. Devi was emerging as a formidable leader of the oppressed

Mathammas much to the dislike of her community men and dominant castes

in her village. She contested the local panchayat election for the post of ward

member but was defeated due to a malicious campaign that presented her as a

prostitute and an alcoholic.

Diffi cult Death

Unfortunately, these were the same moral values with which her death was

questioned and judged. On 16 January 2013, Devi’s son informed her organisation

that she had died in a nearby village where she had gone to work and live

with her new male partner against his wishes. The organisation and her partner

arranged to bring her body back to her village for the last rites. Her partner

claimed Devi had committed suicide by consuming fertiliser. Not believing the

claim, activists of the Rural Women’s Movement demanded a post-mortem.

This was stoutly refused by her caste community as many did not want a

p olice probe into the case of a Mathamma who had been at the centre of controversies

in the village and Devi’s body was quickly cremated.

It was three months before her death that Devi met her new partner, a coolie

worker from Andhra Pradesh, who lived with his wife and daughter. However, the

Arunthathiyar caste panchayat in Devi’s village refused to accept her new partner

and imposed a heavy fi ne on her. They also threatened her partner, telling him

to leave the village. In protest, an enraged Devi removed her thali, something she

had refused to do on several previous occasions, and left the village. Her son had

already occupied her small hut and she was left with nothing in the village. At

the behest of her new partner, Devi worked as a construction labourer in another

village and supported his e ntire family. However, she was subjected to severe

forms of domestic violence.

Just fi ve days before her death, Devivisited her village and told members of

her organisation that she was being tortured by her partner and that he did not

allow her to leave him as she had been providing for his family. According to

the activists of her organisation, though Devi had marks of physical injuries and

complained of severe trouble in breathing, she remained spirited and full of life

as ever. Her caste men and others were quick to conclude that her death was due

to alcoholism, some even attributed it to her so-called sexual excesses. Devi, in

their view, was an “immoral” woman who had insulted goddess Mathamma

and therefore incurred her wrath.In several of her interviews with me,

Devi spoke of the brutality of the systemand the violence of caste in which women

like her were treated as less than human.She also spoke of the Mathammas’

illusionary search for “permanent love”.

Devi’s struggle against poverty and sexual exploitation and her search for freedom

might have ended but her insights on the lives of the most oppressed and

her courage to stand up against exploitation must stay with us. They speak to us

of complex histories of power, subjectivity and identity.

Notes

1 Though her movement was equating the custom of Mathammas with the devadasi custom,Devi, in her interviews, denied such equations on the grounds that the erstwhile devadasiswere respected and revered and were granted properties, while the Mathammas were left to starve with no one to care for them.

2 As per the ritual practice of Arunthathiyars, dedicated Mathamma women are not permitted to marry. It is generally perceived by othersthat Mathammas lead an “immoral” sexual life as they are not constrained by familial responsibilities.On the contrary, the sexual choices of Mathammas are not actually choices of their own. It is well known that they are sexually exploited by the dominant castes as well as by those men who choose to be their sexual partners.

On several occasions, Devi has shared her personal experiences of being deserted by men

fter she gave birth to their children, leaving  the burden of providing and parenting entirely

on her. The close surveillance of Mathammas by her caste elders ensured that the “choice” of

sexual partners is made only with the consent of the caste members.

I thank Fatima Burnad and friends at the
Society for Rural Education and Development, Arakkonam and M S S Pandian for their comments.

S Anandhi (anandhister@gmail.com) is Associate Professor at the Madras Institute of Development Studies, Chennai.

 

Activists Connect Choice to Reproductive Justice #womenrights


By Molly M. Ginty

WeNews correspondent

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

As the battle to preserve reproductive freedom heats up, abortion-rights advocates are increasingly embracing the quest for “reproductive justice.” Younger activists predict 2013 will be the year “choice” fades out.

Sign says: My Body, My Choice, Reproductive Choice

 

Credit: Steve Rhodes on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

(WOMENSENEWS)–Is “reproductive justice” the magic incantation that will save Roe v. Wade?

Fans of the phrase say yes, now that mainstream abortion-rights groups have started using this term alongside (or in favor of) the word “choice.”

Via Facebook and Twitter, they predict 2013 will be the year “choice”–like the bloomers worn by Seneca Fallsactivists in the 1840s and the bellbottoms favored by Gloria Steinem in the 1970s–moves into feminist history.

Older-guard activists are not so convinced. Does the average person even know that ‘reproductive justice’ means ‘pro-choice’?” one person wrote in response to “Is ‘Pro-Choice’ Passe?”–a Feb. 4 blog post on The Nation.com by Katha Pollitt. Another activist griped, “How is that even a label? It’s not even an adjective.”

Some activists argue that “reproductive justice” should supersede “choice,” just as “LGBT” came to replace “homosexual.” Others claim choice is a better rallying cry because it is time-tested, punchy and decisive. But both sides agree the abortion-rights movement is under intense fire. Its need for fresh support is the reason some activists are pushing for new language now.

At the January 2012 West Coast Rally for Reproductive Justice, activists used both phrases in the chants they bellowed and the placards they hoisted while thronging the streets of San Francisco. And while gearing up for the 40th anniversary of (the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on Jan. 22, 1973), abortion-rights activists started using reproductive justice in addition to choice to frame their discussions and garner support.

The National Organization for Womenn and Medical Students for Choice are now using both terms freely. And on Jan. 15, Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortion services in the United States, announced it was formally embracing reproductive justice, boosting the term’s popularity–and the controversy surrounding it.

‘Changing of the Guard’

 

This shift in semantics represents what Monica Raye Simpson, director of the Atlanta-based SisterSong, calls “a changing of the guard.”

Coined in the 1970s in the burgeoning feminist movement by women struggling for autonomy, choice spoke to what was then on the agenda: empowering women to have control over their own reproductive destinies. Being pro-choice came to mean supporting a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion.

Reproductive justice entered the dialogue in the 1990s, when female activists of color convened in Chicagofollowing the International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.

“We realized choice was an aspiration and not a reality for many of us, and was too narrow to speak to people without privilege,” says Eleanor Hinton Hoytt, president of the Black Women’s Health Imperative, inWashington, D.C. “We decided what we needed was reproductive justice–the removal of the structural inequalities that blocked our access to choice.”

As defined by Simpson of SisterSong (a health group for women of color that has promoted the new phrasing), reproductive justice means “the right to have a child, the right not to have a child and the right to parent your children and control your birthing and childrearing options.” This term encompasses not just the stand-alone subject of abortion, but the greater socioeconomic, political and racial context surrounding it.

“Inequality exists, and reproductive justice is meant to shine light on that,” says Nicole Clark, a health consultant in New York City.

Proponents of reproductive justice say prioritizing this concept over choice means putting the horse before the cart and ensuring that choice will indeed become a reality.

Planned Parenthood announced it was adopting reproductive justice alongside choice the same day it launched a public-awareness campaign to show “how the pro-choice and pro-life labels don’t reflect the complexity of the conversation about abortion, and the way that Americans think and talk about abortion today.”

Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, told Women’s eNews, “We believe this way of framing the conversation will make it more robust and allow everyone who wants to have this conversation to find their way in.”

Expanding the Conversation

 

Just who are mainstream organizations trying to engage in conversation?

First, they are reaching out to women of color, who did not have adequate representation in the feminist movement in the 1970s and who have since then launched vibrant initiatives of their own (such as theNational Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, in New York City, and Forward Together/ Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice, in Oakland, Calif.). Today, women of color represent a vital share of the broad-based women’s rights leadership.

These groups are also trying to garner support from “millennials,” born after the year 1980, who say they favor reproductive justice over choice because it is more fluid and all-encompassing.

“People in my generation say ‘I’m not a feminist, but I believe in those ideals,'” says Kelsey Warrick, 19,president of the student group Hoyas for Choice at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. “They say, ‘I’m not pro-choice, but I support the right to choose.”

Also receptive to the reproductive justice label are the growing number of Americans who express ambivalence about abortion. A January 2013 NBC poll showed 70 percent of people believe \should be upheld even if they would not chose to have abortions themselves. Paradoxically, a May 2012 Gallup poll showed only 41 percent of people identify as pro-choice–a record low since polling began.

“Given the reality of 3-D sonograms and technology that pushes back the time of viability, there is growing cognitive dissonance over the issue of abortion,” says Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, an anti-choice group in Washington, D.C.

Infusing New Vitality

 

Just as it is being used to speak to a younger, more diverse and more ambivalent audience, reproductive justice is also being used to infuse new vitality into the long-embattled abortion-rights movement.

Though nearly 1-in-3 American women terminate pregnancies by age 45, their access to abortion is far from secure. Starting with the 1977 Hyde Amendment, which denies abortion-care coverage to low-income women on Medicaid, a steady barrage of anti-choice measures have slowly chipped away at Roe.

In the last two elections, Republicans–many of whom are staunchly anti-abortion–seized majority representation in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the state legislatures. In 2011 and 2012, Congress considered 14 anti-choice measures, with some of the most extreme ones defeated only narrowly. State legislatures enacted a record number of such provisions (a total 135 in 2011-2012). And on March 6, Arkansas passed the earliest-term restriction in the nation, outlawing most abortions after 12 weeks.

Today, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota have just one surgical abortion clinic per state. So-called TRAP laws, which promote “targeted regulation of abortion providers,” have further undermined the protections provided by Roe. In Virginia, a new rule requires clinics to have hallways that are five feet wide–or shutter their doors.

In the past 30 years, reports New York City’s Guttmacher Institute, the number of U.S. abortion providers has dwindled 40 percent, and 87 percent of U.S. counties now have no abortion provider at all.

“We need language that motivates people,” says Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, inWashington, D.C. “We need to get them to stand up and defend women’s rights.”

In a New York City theater lobby, surrounded by women’s rights advocates before a production of her play, “Words of Choice,” feminist writer Cindy Cooper furrowed her brow, then shrugged.

“I’m working with activists from all over the globe, and they’re using reproductive justice more and more while simultaneously using choice,” she said. “But the semantics don’t matter much to me. What matters to me is what works.”

Molly M. Ginty (http://mollymaureenginty.wordpress.com/) is an award-winning reporter who covers the environment and health for Women’s eNews.

#Bangalore- NHRC notice to Chief Secretary on evictions from Ejipura


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu

 

A child, given food by an NGO, runs to the gigantic pipe that doubles as his home in the wake of the demolition at Ejipura, Bangalore, in January this year. File Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

The HinduA child, given food by an NGO, runs to the gigantic pipe that doubles as his home in the wake of the demolition at Ejipura, Bangalore, in January this year. File Photo: Bhagya Prakash. K

It takes cognisance of media report on health problems of those ousted

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath on the forced eviction of residents of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) shanty town by the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) in Ejipura in January this year.

A communiqué received in Bangalore on Monday said that the NHRC has taken cognisance of a media report, forwarded by non-governmental organisations, alleging serious health problems being faced by about 2,000 people who were evicted.

Report sought

The Chief Secretary has been directed to submit a report within four weeks on the eviction, steps taken to rehabilitate the evicted people, besides informing the commission about the steps taken to provide basic amenities such as food, drinking water, sanitation and health facilities upholding the evictees’ human rights.

The NHRC noted that 200 evicted families have made their temporary homes on the periphery of the area from where they were ousted. “They have not been provided with any basic facilities. Diarrheal diseases, infections and other forms of water and air-borne diseases are rampant. There are no proper water, sanitation and toilet facilities,” it has said.

The commission had taken cognisance of the forced eviction and harassment of victims by police.

A notice was issued to the Chief Secretary and Director-General and Inspector-General of Police early this year and the issue is under consideration.

Meanwhile, a fact-finding report by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Karnataka, and Housing and Land Rights Network – Delhi, found that the human rights of the urban poor had been violated. The government and its agencies have breached the Constitution, national laws and policies, orders of the Supreme Court and international law, including the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement.

Illegal land use

The report, a copy of which is with The Hindu, notes that the public-private partnership between the BBMP and Maverick Holdings is illegal because the land that was designated for “public purpose”, namely housing for economically weaker sections, has been converted into commercial use for the gain of a private entity. The BBMP has flouted its own resolution (passed in 2005) recognising the rights of the residents to permanent housing and assured them of in-situ resettlement.

The demands

The fact-finding team has demanded that the government recognise and uphold the “right to the city” of the urban poor — who contribute to the city — as their inalienable right, besides ordering a judicial enquiry into the evictions, demolitions and public-private partnership. The government should also provide immediate and adequate rehabilitation to all the evicted residents, irrespective of whether they are original allottees or tenants. The other demands include compensation to all victims, dissolve the illegal public-private partnership, and take action against BBMP and police officials responsible for the violence and attack on residents and activists.

 

Rajasthan’s move towards UAHC and JSA impact


After all the mull over initiating free medical tests/diagnostics in public health facilities in Rajasthan, the wait is finally over. While JSA Rajasthan has continuously been advocating and demanding free medical test at all govt. health institutions as an essential step towards universal health care,  the Chief Minister of Rajasthan has finally made the formal announcement for its launch in his budget speech on 6th March 2013.  He announced launch of free medical testing scheme from April 7, 2013 (World Health Day) initially in medical colleges, district hospitals and satellite hospitals under which all the basic medical tests (urine, blood etc) and also tests like ECG, X-ray, sonography will be made free for everybody. The scheme will have its second phase from July 1 under which all the CHCs and PHCs will be covered. In the third phase of the scheme from Independence day, the facility of free testing will be made available for free in all the city dispensaries, he said.
Keeping into consideration all the positive response, acceptance and applauds which the free medicine scheme of the state has received, the Chief Minister, Mr. Gehlot also announced to increase the number of generic medicines which are distributed free in government hospitals under chief minister free medicines scheme, from presently 477 to 600. You could recall, this increase in number of medicines happened in the backdrop of JSA Rajasthan successfully blocked an attempt of the SMS Hospital (The biggest tertiary level public hospital of Rajasthan) to impair the free medicines schemes by creating a parallel structure of procuring both generic and branded medicines and sell them at less than market rates. SMS Hospital had even floated the tenders but had to cancel them after the intervention of the Health Minister Mr. Ahmad. In the meeting chaired by the minister and attended by a delegation of the JSA Rajasthan besides all the senior most officials of the department, it was decided that no public hospital of Rajasthan can sale medicines and their equivalents which are part of the free medicines and the Priincipal of SMS Medical College and Supdts. of hospitals were asked to provide list of additional medicines to include in the free medicines scheme. JSA Rajasthan provided a list of such medicines which were not part of the scheme till then but can be considered for inclusion.
Apart from this, the Chief Minister and the Health Minister in a recently held meeting with them have also very positively accepted JSA Rajasthan’s suggestion of establishing State Institute of Clinical Excellence to ensure administration of quality health services to patients seeking treatment. The proceedings for the same should start soon.

 

 

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