#India – Sterlite worker succumbs to gas leak, residents demand plant closure


March 26th, 2013, tnlabour.in

Thoothukudy, March 25, 2013: One worker, reportedly a 35-year old man from Bihar, succumbs to effects of gas exposure following a poisonous gas leak from front of the Sterlite Copper Smelter on 23rd March 2013. The body of the deceased hospital was kept in the mortuary of the government hospital even as SIPCOT Police Station officials stated that they had no intimation of the worker’s death. According to other workers, the deceased worker was working in Sterlite’s captive power plant across the highway from the smelter. Following the gas leak, he reportedly complained of suffocation and subsequently collapsed. With this incident, Sterlite has witnessed 3 hazardous events this month resulting in at least 2 deaths and 1 serious injury. Irate Thoothukudy residents led by political leader Vaiko staged a demonstration at the District Collector’s office, demanding closure of the copper smelter. Vaiko has announced a march from the city to the Sterlite gates on 28th March, with a single point demand seeking closure of the plant.

The company which was shut down by the Madras High Court in September 2010 is currently operating on leave granted by the Supreme Court.

 

Almost 42,000 hectares of forest land diverted in Odisha


,Jayajit Dash  |  Bhubaneswar  March 26, 2013 BS

Land diversion for mining, irrigation, power, roads, railways, industries & defence

Forest land to the tune of 41,891.25 hectares (or 1,03,515.53 acres) has been diverted in Odisha till March 6, 2013 since the enactment of Forest Conservation Act-1980 by the Centre.
The forest land diversion has been effected for various sectors like mining, irrigation, power, roads, railways, industries and defence.Almost all standalone mine lesses and industrial players with end-use projects like National Aluminium Company (Nalco) have benefited from forest land diversion in the state.

Forest land diversion has been carried out in the state in accordance with Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act, forest minister Bijayshree Routray said in a written reply in the state assembly.

On compliance to Forest Rights Act and the August 2009 notification of the Union ministry of environment & forest, he said, “The proposals submitted to the MoEF are processed in accordance with the guidelines dated August 3, 2009 issued by the ministry in the matter of compliance of Scheduled Tribes & Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act-2006.
Certificate on five terms complying to the provisions of the above circular of MoEF is submitted by the collectors of the concerned districts who head the district level committee for settlement of Forest Rights and are annexed to the forest diversion proposal while recommending the diversion proposal to the ministry. The certificates along with the resolution of the gram sabha duly signed by the members present and its English version are sent to MoEF for consideration.”

The state government is sitting over 431 proposals of forest land diversion across sectors like irrigation, industry, mining, energy, railway, roads & bridges and human habitations.

Mining sector tops the list with 205 proposals pending for diversion of forest land.

Other sectors with forest land diversion proposals in the pipeline are irrigation (27), industry (29), energy (44), railway (21), roads & bridges (37), human habitations (2) and miscellaneous (66).

It may be noted that mining activity alone has resulted in diversion of 8,194.86 hectares (or 20,249.94 acres) of forest land in Keonjhar district.

 

Haryana – Maruti Workers Union on launch of indefinite dharna ( English and Hindi )


March 26, 2013

We are on an indefinite dharna from 24 March 2013, and will go on an indefinite Hunger Strike from 28 March 2013, in Kaithal, Haryana in front of Kisan Bhavan, residence of State Industries Minister, R.S. Surjewala. Please join in solidarity and circulate this message as widely as possible.

Please check http://marutisuzukiworkersunion.wordpress.com/ for regular updates.

Inquilab Zindabad!-

Provisional Working Committee
MSWU

######

Join in Solidarity with our Struggle for Justice!
Support our indefinite Hunger Strike in Kaithal, Haryana against exploitation by the Company management-Government-Administration-Police machinery!

Workers and friends,

As much as the company-state nexus would like to think of us as having crushed our quest for justice, we the workers of Maruti Suzuki, Manesar are continuing with our struggle. You are aware because we raised our voice against exploiutation that 2300 of our fellow workers have been terminated from our jobs, 147 workers continue to languish in jail and have not been granted bail or even parole since 18th July 2012, and 65 of us still have non-bailable arrest warrant against us. Haryana state police are continuing to harass us and our family members and relatives or any pro-worker person who stands with us. Our struggle has continued in these 9 months trying to forge solidarities among other workers and toiling people. So, MSWU Provisional Working Committee member Iman Khan was picked up on 24th January 2013 and all the false cases from murder to looting and arson have also been thrust upon him, while his name did not figure in any FIR, Chargesheet or SIT report. Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda threatened us in our meeting with him on 21st February 2013, that we do another rally like we did on 27th January 2013 in Rohtak or continue with our struggle anywhere, he will arrest all of us and put us behind bars.

This is the award that our ‘democratic’ government gives us for questioning its model of development, and what kind and for whom is this ‘development’ that he is talking about? At the promise of this ‘development’ and ‘employment’, the government grabs the lands of poor farmers cheap and hands it over to companies. But the youth do not get any decent employment. The small numbers of us who do get some jobs, are exploited in horrible working conditions and low wage in the factories. When we spoke out against exploitation in work and even after that, we are thrown out of work and hounded and repressed by police and put in jails. When we ask for justice, the police and ministers arrest some more of us and harass us daily. This is how the Haryana government daily works openly for the interests of the capitalists like Suzuki, and against the interests of workers and peasants.

Knowing well that our spirit of struggle for justice is being tried to be extinguished by the corrupt, repressive government-administration which sits on the lap of capitalists, we are taking a pledge to continue and renew our struggle. We will not kneel down before unemployment, hunger and the repression. We will continue this struggle not only for us, but pledge to build and raise a powerful collective voice of workers and toiling people against unemployment, exploitation and repression. Upholding the legacy of Shaheed Bhagat Singh on the 82nd anniversary of his martyrdom day, we are on an indefinite dharna from 24 March 2013 in front of the residence of Haryana Industries Minister, Randip Singh Surjewala and we will go on an indefinite hunger strike from 28th March 2013. We the workers of Maruti Suzuki, with this hunger strike, take a pledge we will struggle continuously, not only for our economic rights but for the rights of all workers, and against inequality and injustice of all kinds in society. That this hunger strike of ours will signal a new unity of workers and toiling people in the country against the exploitation and repression by capitalists and rulers- this is our hope.

Inquilab Zindabad!

Provisional Working Committee

Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

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मारुति मज़दूरों के न्याय की लड़ाई में साथ दो!
कंपनी प्रबंधन-सरकार-प्रशासन व पुलिसतंत्र के दमन के खिलाफ संघर्षरत मज़दूरों का कैथल में चल रहे अनिश्चितकालीन भूख हड़ताल का समर्थन करें !

मज़दूर साथियो व नागरिकों,

जैसे की आपको पता है पिछले 8 महीनों में हम मारुति मज़दूरों को किसी भी प्रकार का न्याय नही मिला। 18 जुलाई 2012 में मारुति सुजुकी की मानेसर प्लांट में कंपनी प्रबंधन ने मज़दूरों की जायज मांगों को कुचलने के लिए प्लांट के अंदर गुंडे बुलवाकर उन्हें पिटवाया, साजिश के तहत आगजनी की गई जिसमे एक प्रबंधक की मौत हो गई जिसका आरोप मज़दूरों के उपर थोप दिया गया । इसी साजिश के तहत 546 स्थाई और 1800 ठेका मज़दूरों को बिना कोई जांच करवाये नौकरी से निकाल दिया गया और 147 मज़दूरों पर झूठे मुकदमे ठोककर जेल भिजवाया, जिसमें से किसी कि अभी तक जमानत भी नही हुई है । जेल में भी मज़दूरों के उपर काफ़ी शारीरिक व मानसिक अत्याचार किया जा रहा है । टी. बी., दमा, चर्मरोग जैसे गंभीर बीमारियों के बाद भी उचित इलाज और राहत नही दी जा रही है । इसके अलावा कंपनी की शह पर प्रशासन ने 65 मज़दूरों के खिलाफ गैरजमानती वारंट भी जारी कर रखा है । हरियाणा के गांवों में इन मज़दूरों के घर-घर पुलिस जा कर परिवारों के लोगों के उपर लगातार अत्याचार कर रही है । कभी किसी के भाई तो कभी किसी का रिश्तेदार को उठाकर थाने में ले जाने का सिलसिला चलाया जा रहा हैं । पिछले 24 जनवरी को प्रोविज़नल वर्किंग कमेटी के सदस्य ईमान खान, जिसका नाम किसी भी एफ. आई. आर में नही था, को पुलिस ने गैरक़ानूनी तरीके से प्रेस-वार्ता से गिरफ्तार करके जेल में डाल दिया । हम पिछले 8 महीनों में न्याय की उम्मीद में सरकार और प्रशासन के हर दरवाजे को खटखटाया, मंत्रियों से मिलें और अंत में हरियाणा के मुख्यमंत्री के पास भी गए, मगर हमे निराश हो कर वापस लौटना पड़ा । हरियाणा राज्य के उद्योग मंत्री रणदीप सिंह सुरजेवाला जी ने बोल दिया कि उनका काम पूंजीपतियों को उद्योग के लिए जमीन दिलवाना है, मज़दूरों को नौकरी वापस दिलवाना नहीं । और मुख्यमंत्री जी ने तो सीधा धमकी दिया, अगर तुमलोग रोहतक में फिर कोई कार्यक्रम करोगे तो सबको जेल में डाल देंगे ।

सरकार इस बात का प्रचार कर रही है की कंपनियों के खिलाफ बोलने से राज्य के विकास पर असर पड़ेगा । मगर क्या राज्य के नागरिकों को यह पूछने का हक नहीं है कि सरकार कैसी विकास और किसके विकास कि बात कर रही है? हरियाणा के किसानों कि जमीन को सस्ते दामों में खरीदकर और यहाँ के गरीब किसानों को बेरोजगार करने के बाद भी यहाँ के लड़कों को काम नही मिल रहा है, और जो भी काम मिल रहे हैं उनमें मज़दूरों की भारी मात्रा में शोषण व दमन हो रही है, जबकि हरियाणा की उसी जमीन से सुजुकी जैसे विदेशी पूंजीपति करोडो का मुनाफा पीट रहे हैं । मज़दूरों-किसानों के निर्मम शोषण पर टिकी हरियाणा सरकार पूंजीपतियों द्वारा मज़दूरों का और ज्यादा खून चूसने के लिए फैलाये जा रहे क्षेत्रवाद का भी समर्थन कर रही है । इसी वजह से पूंजीपति हरियाणा के नौजवानों को रोजगार ना देने की ऐलान कर रहे है ।

जरा सोचिये, आज जब 147 बेकसूर नौजवान 8 महीनों से जेल में बंद है, जब कैथल, जींद, यमुनानगर, रेवारी, करनाल आदि जगहों के गांवों में 500 से ज्यादा परिवार भूख और भीषण आर्थिक संकट का सामना कर रहा है और जेल में बंद दूर-दराज के मज़दूरों के परिजन किराये के अभाव में मिलाई तक नही करने नहीं आ पा रहे हैं और न्याय की प्रतीक्षा में हैं, जब कि सुजुकी कंपनी लगातार धमकी दे रही है कि हरियाणा के नौजवानों को नौकरी में नही लिया जायेगा, तब भी हमारे मुख्यमंत्री जी हरियाणा की पंचायतों तक को मारुति के मसले पर बात उठाने से रोक रहे हैं । मुख्यमंत्री जी का पहले कहना था कि एस. आई. टी. कि रिपोर्ट आने के बाद बचे हुए कर्मचारियों को ड्यूटी पर ले लिया जायेगा । लेकिन अब वे बोल रहे हैं कि न्याय की बात कोर्ट में जा कर करो, हम कोई जिम्मेदारी नही लेंगे । क्या मुख्यमंत्री जी को ये पता नहीं है कि कोर्ट में फैसला होने में बीस-बीस साल लग जाता है? इतने दिनों तक केस खींचना कंपनी के लिए तो आसान है मगर मजदूरों के लिए बीस साल तक क़ानूनी लड़ाई लड़ना सम्भब है? हम देख रहे हैं कि किस तरीके से सरकार जनता के पैसों से करोडो रुपये खर्च करके मारुति सुजुकी कंपनी के लिए वकील की व्यवस्था कर रही है । हमें ये भी दिख रहा है कि कंपनी द्वारा उपलब्ध कराये गए मज़दूरों के नामों की लिस्ट के मुताबिक सरकार एस. आई. टी. जांच की रिपोर्ट तैयार कर नौजवान मज़दूरों को दोषी प्रमाणित करने की तैयारी कर रही है ताकि कोई भी मज़दूर अपने जायज अधिकारों की माँग उठाने बारे में सोच भी ना सके । लोकतान्त्रिक होने का दावा करने वाले सरकार से क्या ऐसी उम्मीद की जा सकती है? हरियाणा सरकार की एस. आई. टी. रिपोर्ट कितना मनगढ़ंत और बेबुनियाद है रिपोर्ट को कोई भी व्यक्ति पड़कर जान सकता है । हम माँग करते हैं कि इस झूठी रिपोर्ट को पूर्णतः ख़ारिज कर नए सिरे से निष्पक्ष व उच्चस्तरीय न्यायिक जांच हों ।

आज यह जान कर भी कि न्याय के सारे दरवाजों को हमारे लिए बंद कर दिये जा रहा हैं, हम न्याय के लिए संघर्ष को जारी रखने का संकल्प लेते हैं । हम बेरोजगारी, भूख और शासन-प्रशासन के दमन-उत्पीड़न के आगे घुटने नहीं टेकेंगे । हम सिर्फ अपने लिए नहीं बल्कि सभी नौजवानों के रोजगार के लिए संघर्ष के रास्ते आगे बढ़ना चाहते हैं और सभी जनता को साथ ले कर अपनी आवाज को बुलंद करना चाहते हैं । इसलिए कैथल में, जहाँ हरियाणा सरकार के उद्योग मंत्री का निवास है, हम 24 मार्च, 2013 से अनिश्चितकालीन अनशन पर बैठ रहे हैं । हम मानते हैं कि इस देश का इतिहास सिर्फ अंग्रेजों, उसके दलालों और देशी-विदेशी पूंजीपतियों का इतिहास नहीं है । यह अमर शहीद भगत सिंह, जिनकी शहादत दिवस आज 23 मार्च को है, उनके जैसे हजारों क्रांतिकारियों का भी इतिहास है ।

मज़दूर भाइयों और नागरिकों, न्याय के लिए, नौजवानों का सम्मान के साथ रोजगार के लिए, सरकार की गलत नीतियों के खिलाफ और पूंजीपतियों व सरकार के साठ-गाँठ के खिलाफ आवाज बुलंद करने में तन-मन-धन से हमारा सहयोग करे । हमारी उम्मीद हरियाणा में काम कर रहे लाखों श्रमिकों और हरियाणा के आम मेहनतकश जनता के उपर टिकी हुई है। क्योंकि श्रमिकों और मेहनतकश जनता कि बुलंद आवाज ही इस भ्रष्ट, दमनकारी और पूंजीपतियों के गोद में बैठी सरकार को न्याय के रास्ते में लाने को बाध्य कर सकती हैं। हम मारुति के मज़दूर इस अनशन के माध्यम से यह शपथ लेते हैं कि हम सिर्फ अपनी आर्थिक हितों के लिए ही नहीं, सभी मज़दूरों के हितों के लिए और हर किस्म की गैर-बराबरी व अन्याय के खिलाफ लगातार संघर्ष करेंगे। हमारी यह भूख हड़ताल देश के शासक व पूंजीपतियों के अन्याय और उत्पीड़न के खिलाफ मज़दूरों और मेहनतकश जनता की एक नई एकता की शुरुआत करेगी–यही हमारी उम्मीद हैं।

इंकलाब जिंदाबाद! मज़दूर एकता जिंदाबाद!
23 मार्च 2013
मारुति सुजुकी वर्कर्स यूनियन

मारुति सुजुकी वर्कर्स यूनियन की ओर से प्रोविजनल वर्किंग कमेटी द्वारा प्रकाशित

 

Call for endorsements – Our planet is not for sale! ADB Quit India! Quit Asia! #mustshare


 Peoples Front against IFIs

We, peoples’ movements, mass organisations, struggle groups, trade unions, communityorganisations and many others from India and the Asia-Pacific region, call for a protestagainst the 46th Annual Board of Governors’ Meeting (AGM) of the Asian DevelopmentBank (ADB) in Greater Noida, Delhi during May 2-5, 2013. The AGM will make decisionson key development issues for the Asia-Pacific region, that will affect all of us now and inthe future. India, which is touted as ‘the emerging power in the region’ and in the ADB, ishosting the AGM for the third time to showcase and endorse a ‘development throughempowerment’ model put forth by the ADB. In fact, over the years, the Indian ruling classhas been working hand in glove with the ADB in a mutually beneficial complicity at theexpense of hundreds of millions of poor, marginalised and other toiling sections of thesociety.The ADB has earned the notorious title of actually being an “
 Anti-human DestructiveBank
,” whose devastating acts are not limited to India, but are evident across the Asia-Pacific region and also at the global level in collusion with the World Bank, InternationalMonetary Fund (IMF) and other institutions of global capitalism. Likewise, our protest andresistance is not limited to the ADB but extends to all International Financial Institutions(IFIs) whose primary missions are to appropriate and commodify the natural, human andsocial wealth of the planet, and force nations into indebtedness and political subordination. A self-acclaimed “development” financial institution, the ADB claims to combat poverty inthe region. But its poverty reduction strategy is merely a masquerade for prescribing adoomed model of rapid economic growth powered by the privatisation, commodificationand financialisation of natural resources and basic needs like water, power, education, etc.Under the guise of “good governance,” the ADB supports profit-mongering, un-accountableand non-transparent private sectors. The Long-Term Strategy Framework (Strategy 2020)of the Bank is a recipe for the transfer of wealth, means and capacities from the poor andmiddle classes to the wealthy, upper classes. Using grand slogans such as ‘inclusivegrowth’, ‘environmental sustainability’ and ‘regional integration’, the Strategy 2020 focuseson private sector development and explicitly advocates private sector participation in ADBand borrower operations. In 2011, the Bank spent nearly $6 billion as private sector finance. Not surprisingly, in India the number of billionaires rose from 2 with a combinedworth of $2 billion in the mid-1990s, to 46 in 2012 with a total net worth of $176 billion!With nearly $22 billion in annual financial investment for nearly 350 projects (loans, grants,equity investments and Technical Assistance) in Asia-Pacific, governments have given the ADB a mandate to direct the development path for the region. Under the pretext of addressing environmental and climate crises and alleviating poverty, the ADB continues todisplace and alienate large numbers of people from their lands, homes, water sources andforests, and violates their rights to livelihood, ctizenship and participation in decisionmaking.
Join hands against the ADB AGM
While it is our governments who borrow, the onus of debt repayment falls on the publicexchequer and the people of the country, and is transferred to subsequent generationsand the environment. Debt repayment depletes scarce foreign exchange reserves, andredirects national revenues away from spending on essential public goods such as
education, health, housing, water, sanitation, electricity and job-creation towards servicingan upward spiralling illegitimate debt.The struggles, movements and campaigns against ADB funded projects in West Bengal,Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand,J&K, Himachal Pradesh, and the North Eastern States take this opportunity to expose the ADB’s collusion with the Indian Government to enable the concentration of wealth,resources and capacities in the hands of the economic-political elites. People led byvibrant struggles in these states to halt nuclear power, land and water grabbing, forcedevictions, anti-people laws, farmers suicides and environmental destruction send out thisappeal to challenge the asymmetrical, ill-designed and anti-people developmentprescriptions of the ADB.The 2013 ADB AGM in Delhi offers a much-needed opportunity for us to come together toexpose the destructive developmental model promoted by the ADB and our governments.We invite all of you to join us in voicing our opposition to institutions like the ADB, whichmutilate our democratic institutions, perpetrate untold violence on our societies and foster continuing marginalization and pauperization of our peoples.
ADB QUIT INDIA! QUIT ASIA!
PEOPLES FRONT against IFIsENDORSED BY
(27March’13)
:
India
: Adivasi Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch (Jharkhand), All India Forum of Forest Movements (AIFFM), All India Union of Forest Working people ( AIUFWP/NFFPFW), ANBALAYAM – Pondicherry , Andhra PradeshMuslim Organization, Bongiyo Paromparik Kaaru O Bastra Shilpi Sangho (West Bengal), Behavioural Science Centre (Ahmedabad), Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), CASA-ACT, CitizensForum for Mangalore Development, GM-Free Bihar Movement, Haldia Dock Complex Contractors Shramik Union, Himalaya Niti Abhiyan, India FDI Watch, Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Indianoil PetronasContractors Shramik Union, Janpahal, Kabani – the other direction,Kisan Manch, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti,KSMTF – Kerala Fishworkers Forum, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Mines, minerals & People (MmP), Nadi Ghati Morcha, National Fishworkers Forum, National Hawkers Federation, New Socialist Alternative(CWI-India), Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Radical Socialist,River basin Friends, South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People – SANDRP, Sundarban Banadhikar Sangram Committee, Tamil Solidarity & others
 Asia/International
: Alternatives Asia, Asia Europe Peoples Forum, Asia-Pacific Movement on Debt & Development (JubileeSouth), CADTM International Network, Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières (ESSF, France), FOCUS on theGlobal South, Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), Socialist Alternative (Australia)
 Asian Countries
:
Bangladesh
; EQUITYBD, Humanitywatch, Initiative for Right View – IRV, Nabodhara, Online KnowledgeSociety, Participatory Research Action Network-PRAN, VOICE
Indonesia
: Solidaritas Perempuan
Nepal
: All Nepal Peasants’ Federation (ANPFA), All Nepal Women’s association (ANWA), Forum for theProtection of Public Interest
Pakistan
: Awami Workers Party, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Umeedenao Citizen Community Board
Philippines
: AMA- Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (Union of Agricultural Workers)
Sri Lanka
: Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth, Federation of Media Employees Trade Unions
SEND ENDORSEMENTS – email: willyindia@gmail.com

 

#India – All in the Name of the Poor #UID #Aadhaar


 

Vol – XLVIII No. 13, March 30, 2013 , Editorial

Who will be the real beneficiaries of the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme?

Why is there little or practically no information in the 2013-14 budget on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s pet scheme to bring about direct cash transfer payments to eventually replace price subsidies for food, fuel and fertiliser products? Who are going to be the real beneficiaries of the direct cash transfers via Aadhaar-linked bank accounts using the unique identification (UID) platform?

Food will not immediately be replaced by direct cash transfers, but the ultimate objective is to do so, especially with the impending passage of the National Food Security Bill. The union cabinet has approved the draft legislation which is expected to be introduced in the current session of Parliament. An election promise of 2009, the bill has had few supporters in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. If it is now being pushed through it is surely on account of electoral considerations with an eye to the next Lok Sabha elections. But the food subsidy budgeted for 2013-14 is only Rs 90,000 crore (compared to the revised figure of Rs 85,000 crore in the current financial year), though the finance minister has said he will provide Rs 10,000 crore more. This will still be grossly inadequate for any food security programme. The fertiliser subsidy, on its part, has actually come down quite significantly, from the actual figure of Rs 70,013 crore in 2011-12 to the budgeted Rs 65,971 crore in 2013-14. The revised petroleum subsidy was Rs 96,880 crore in 2012-13 (revised estimates) and has been put at a mere Rs 65,000 crore next year. Should we not see all these figures in the light of what is on the anvil?

For political reasons, the government has been promoting the direct cash transfer scheme as an anti-corruption measure. But the real objective of the government is, of course, that it sees this as the way to reduce the “major subsidies” bill. On food, for example, given food inflation at more than 10% per annum, if the government keeps a check on the direct cash transfer payments, indeed, ensures that its real value per average household, i e, relative to consumer food price inflation rate, is not protected, then it will gradually reduce the major subsidies bill as a proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP).

Beginning this year, the government has initiated the Direct Benefit Transfer programme in 26 schemes (mainly for payment of scholarships of various kinds), confining it to persons who have a UID card and a bank account linked with the UID interface. But next month, the direct cash transfer scheme is to be introduced in the public distribution system (PDS) in six union territories. So the government will eventually presumably do away with the PDS in these union territories. But the direct cash transfer scheme is to be eventually scaled up to the national level. To understand the implications, keep in mind that the UID is not just for the poor or those eligible for cash transfers who have to procure UID cards. The UID involves the recording of photographs, fingerprints and iris scans of the whole population, and the entire information is then stored in a centralised, national security database. In 2013-14, some 600 million persons are expected to be photographed, fingerprinted and iris scanned. Most of the 6,00,000 villages in the country do not have a bank branch, but the government envisages the opening of some 200 million accounts, all interfaced with the UID. What is, in effect, being created is an information technology (IT) infrastructure that links all bank accounts to the UID, and, this, at the public expense.

The poor, in whose name all this is being done, have no savings worth the name and the banks do not give them loans because they lack the collateral security. We are not exaggerating; the pilot schemes that we just referred to are going to be “expanded nationwide to various transfer of all benefits” (“Statements…as required under the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act”, Union Budget 2013-14). Of course, the poor will have to deal with the banks via their banking correspondents (BCs) who will no doubt get their cut from the banks via the government coffers, but who is to stop these BCs from charging their customers more than the banks’ approved rates?

Think of it, a whole centralised, national security database is being created that can potentially be used to monitor the people enrolled in the UID, all this with no democratic accountability. Besides, via the banks, the financial system, much of it private-profit oriented, will have in place access to this database and thousands of crores of rupees under direct cash payment transfers, in effect very large additional sums of money, routed through them. And, the increasing flow of such benefits will be accompanied by the gradual dismantling of the PDS.

What then about diesel, kerosene, LPG, fertiliser and electricity subsidies? Basically, the pricing policy for subsidised goods will change to make the total amount of the subsidy “affordable” to the government and the subsidies will be better targeted, once more via Aadhaar-linked bank accounts using the UID platform. Overall, the expenditure on “major subsidies” will be targeted to come down from 2% of GDP in 2013-14 to 1.8% in 2014-15 and 1.6% in 2015-16. After all, doesn’t the UPA government fully agree with Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s, and Fitch that its major subsidies bill is “unproductive expenditure”? And, isn’t the Bharatiya Janata Party also won over to this idea of direct cash transfer payments? The biggest two beneficiaries of the whole operation, especially of the UID platform and the integrated database it has created, will, of course, be so-called national security and the financial, especially the banking, system.

Advertising agency sacks employees after sexist Ford ads in India #womenrights


Advertising agency sacks employees after sexist Ford ads in India

(The ad that created the controversy)

MumbaiAn Indian unit of advertising group WPP has sacked employees over a series of ads, including one showing women tied up in the trunk of a Ford driven by ex-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.The ads were published days after India approved a tougher new law to punish sex crimes, following the fatal gang rape of a student in December. That attack sparked unprecedented protests over the treatment of women in the country.

The ads, uploaded on an industry website, were created by individuals within JWT India, a unit of WPP, the world’s biggest advertising group.

“We deeply regret the publishing of posters that were distasteful and contrary to the standards of professionalism and decency at JWT,” a company statement said.

“These were never intended for paid publication, were never requested by our Ford client and should never have been created, let alone uploaded to the Internet.

“These posters were created by individuals within the agency and did not go through the normal review and oversight process.
“After a thorough internal review, we have taken appropriate disciplinary action with those involved, which included the exit of employees at JWT,” it said.

Ford India also issued a statement expressing regret over the incident, but did not comment on whether it was taking any action against the agency.

One of the ads shows Berlusconi, charged in Italy with paying for sex with a minor, sitting in the front seat of a Ford Figo hatchback flashing a victory sign, with a trio of half-dressed women bound and gagged in the trunk.

Another featured a caricature of celebrity Paris Hilton in the driver’s seat, and three women resembling the Kardashian sisters bound in the trunk with the tagline “Leave your worries behind with Figo’s extra large boot”.

“This was the result of individuals acting without proper oversight and appropriate actions have been taken within the agency where they work to deal with the situation,” WPP said.

Comments on Twitter and Facebook dismissed the ads as “shameful” and “disgusting”.

“If this is what Ford represents, I will never buy Ford again, and try my best not to sit in one,” a Facebook user said.

 

Narendra Modi in your Gujarat – Booze is cheaper than water !


English: Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Guja...

With Narendra Modi is chasing his PM dream, booze is cheaper than water in Gujarat 

Published: Monday, Mar 25, 2013,

Place: Rajkot | Agency: PTI

Opposition Congress today alleged that liquor has become cheaper than water in parched Gujarat as Chief Minister Narendra Modi is busy chasing his “dream” to become prime minister and ignoring the plight of common people.

“Water is not easily available in drought-hit areas in the state but liquor is not only readily available but at the rate cheaper than water”, state unit Congress president Arjun Modhwadia told reporters in Rajkot.

“People of as many as 160 villages from Saurashtra, North Gujarat and Central Gujarat are facing shortage of drinking water. However, the chief minister is dreaming to become prime minister and not doing anything to bail out the affected people”, he said.

Tearing into Modi’s claims of development, Modhwadia said they are nothing but a ploy to mislead people and the Legislative Assembly.

Modhwadia accused Modi of sitting on the Central fund of Rs 1500 crore meant for drought-hit areas and misusing it for “self propaganda”, Modhwadia said.

“I urge the state government to use the fund only to solve the drinking water and fodder problems and not of self-propaganda,” he said.

Continuing his tirade against Modi, often being projected as BJP‘s prime ministerial candidate in 2014 elections, Modhwadia said the BJP government has failed to provide relief to scarcity-hit areas unlike erstwhile Congress government.

The senior leader also alleged that the law and order situation in Gujarat was deteriorating and the crime graph going up.

Modhwadia downplayed the high-profile crossover of party MLA Vitthal Radadiya to BJP, saying that such “minor” developments seldom affect the Grand Old party.

 

#India- Aadhaar For Birth, Marriage And Death #UID


200 px

 

By S.G.Vombatkere
25 March, 2013
Extant law makes it mandatory for every citizen to formally register births, marriages and deaths in the family. A birth certificate is proof of age and a death certificate is proof that a person has died and, for example, his/her name is to be deleted from a Voter’s List. A marriage certificate shows that a man and a woman are legally married, their living together is socially acceptable and their progeny are legitimate. The civic body recording these events issues birth, marriage and death certificates, which are legal, primary civic documents concerning biological persons for identity, legal liability and inheritance, besides other legal, social and welfare purposes.
Government of Delhi (GoD) has very recently announced [http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/uid-number-aadhar-scheme-identification-crisis/1/259075.html “With 95 per cent registrations in order, Delhi to soon switch to UID numbers for utility services”] that “[f]rom paying bills to getting a driving licence, Delhiites will soon have to depend on a unique identification (UID) number to avail a host of utility services”. The Chandigarh UT administration had made the UID-Aadhaar number mandatory for registration of motor vehicles and for obtaining driving licences. The order was challenged in the Punjab & Haryana High Court, and was withdrawn. GoD now passing a similar order in ignorance of the Chandigarh case, will result in coercing citizens to enroll for the Aadhaar number or to engage in unnecessary litigation. Demanding an Aadhaar number for transactions (paying bills, driving licence, etc) where the citizen is paying for the service rendered with no loss to the state, is without logical or legal strength – it appears to be a crude ploy to force people into enrolling for UID-Aadhaar.
Administrations appear to be ignorant of the basis of civic documentation, because they are even making the UID-Aadhaar number mandatory for citizens to obtain basic civic documents like birth, marriage and death certificates, as GoD has done. How would a birth certificate be issued in respect of an infant whose parents do not have Aadhaar numbers? How would the death certificate be issued in respect of a person whose death is reported by his progeny if the deceased or his progeny do not have an Aadhaar number? There are other questions, but suffice it to say that birth, marriage and death are the most fundamental events for biological persons, and when responsibly reported to civic authorities as mandated by law, the civic authorities are duty bound to unconditionally register these events. Possession of certificates recording these events are the right of every citizen.
If issue of birth and death certificates are made subject to UID-Aadhaar, it is entirely possible that numbers of people may be demographically excluded because they were not able to obtain those certificates for want of the Aadhaar number. To carry the argument a bit further, if a man and a woman without Aadhaar numbers marry, they will not be able to get a marriage certificate, without which their children will be technically illegitimate. Also, their children will not be able to get birth certificates. Thus, the whole family will become non-persons. In fact, such a couple without a UID number would be well advised to use an IUD or other contraceptive device, and produce no children!
Civic authorities demanding a UID-Aadhaar number (which is not covered by any extant law) as a pre-condition for issue of a primary civic document which is mandated by law, puts bureaucratic ignorance and callousness on display. The political executive which is finally responsible cannot plead ignorance. The coercive mission of UIDAI is being pushed to ridiculous lengths by political-bureaucratic incompetence.
Major General S.G. Vombatkere retired as the Additional Director General, Discipline & Vigilance in Army HQ, New Delhi. The President of India awarded him the Visishta Seva Medal in 1993 for distinguished service rendered over 5 years in Ladakh. He holds a PhD degree in Structural Dynamics from IIT, Madras. He is Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of Iowa, USA, and is a member of NAPM and PUCL. He writes on strategic and development-related issues.
E-mail: sg9kere@live.com

Bhopal hospital treated gas victims as guinea pigs for drug trials #WTFnews


Raipur, (Chhattisgarh), March 26, 2013, Suvojit Bagchi

CIC orders disclosure on drug trials in ‘larger public interest’

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ordered the Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Center (BMHRC), a government body, to disclose information related to drug trials on victims of the 1984 gas tragedy to safeguard “larger public interest.”

The CIC criticised the BMHRC for not initiating the process of collecting testimonies from the “poor, helpless victims,” even after it issued an order. Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) had moved the commission.

Talking to The Hindu, Rachna Dhingra, who has been working with the gas victims, levelled a series of allegations against the hospital. “BMHRC was built to provide free medical care to the gas victims but they started testing [victims] as guinea pigs at the behest of multinational pharmaceutical corporations. As many as 15 trials and 13 deaths in 3 trials have taken place and no action was initiated against the BMHRC doctors, management or pharma companies,” Ms. Dhingra charged.

According to the commission’s initial notice, information was sought on the identity of the persons on whom different drugs were tested from 2000 to 2011; how much funds were received for the trials and the names of the companies which commissioned them; the names of the drugs, the number of patients involved and the number who died; and the minutes of the meetings which approved the trials.

On the basis of Ms. Dhingra’s RTI application, the commission asked the hospital to furnish details within a month which it did not. The hospital said the drug trials were conducted on private individuals and “disclosure of identity of these would compromise their privacy,” which is not permitted under the RTI Act. This argument annoyed the commission as it had instructed the BMHRC to “issue notice to any 25 patients at random on whom drugs were tried” to obtain “their consent for disclosure of their names” as per law.

Central Information Commissioner M.L. Sharma wrote that even if the patients did not agree to disclose information, “it is still open to this Commission to order disclosure.”

“Given the fact that a number of drugs manufactured by foreign/Indian companies were tried on these poor, helpless victims of the gas tragedy, I am of the opinion it would be in the larger public interest to disclose the requested information,” said Mr. Sharma in his order.

Chief Public Relations Officer of BMHRC Mazhar Ullah has been given six weeks’ time to “comply” with the order. Mr. Ullah said that he cannot comment till he received a copy.

Meanwhile, Ms. Dhingra has submitted papers to The Hindu that shows, as on 13.08.2010 the hospital conducted at least 10 drug trials and received an amount of 1,008,5100.

“We have proof that 15 trials were conducted and the money for the other trials are not accounted for,” she said.

Don’t tamper with personal freedom via Aadhar and UID


 Dailyexcelsior, Dr Bharat Jhunjhunwala
The Government has proposed to increase the scope of present scheme of providing pension to widows and helpless. The present qualifying age of 40 years age will be reduced to 18 years. Disabled will get pension at more than 40 percent disability against 80 percent at present. In a separate move it is proposed to distribute subsidies on fertilizer and LPG in cash to the beneficiaries. The Government plans to use the Aadhar platform for distributing these benefits. Biometric information-finger prints and pictures of the iris and the face-of each citizen will be collected and stored in a centralized computer. This will enable verification of the beneficiary when he approaches a ration shop for his monthly quota. These are indeed laudable objectives and the Government should be congratulated for moving from subsidies in kind to cash.
Problem with Aadhar is invasion of privacy of the individual. Say, one is taking part in anti-corruption movement. Booking of rail tickets is linked to Aadhar as well as withdrawal of cash from ATMs. It thus becomes possible for the Government to pinpoint and track movements of political opponents. Gopal Krishna of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties tells that such UID proposals have been abandoned in the US, Australia and UK. The reason has predominantly been privacy. In the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’.
It appears the Government is trying to smuggle in a surveillance system over all its citizens under the guise of cash transfers. Krishna tells of how such a system was misused by Hitler. Germany had the lists of Jewish names even prior to the arrival of the Nazis. Nazis got these lists with the help of IBM. This company  was in the ‘census’ business that included racial census that entailed not only counting the Jews but also identifying them. At the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, there is an exhibit of an IBM Hollerith D-11 card sorting machine that was responsible for organizing the census of 1933 that first identified the Jews. Such religious-, racial-, caste- or even political profiling could be introduced in the system in due course by the Government of India.
Another area of concern is that data management has been outsourced to US companies like Accenture which are deeply interconnected with the US Department of Homeland Security. Accenture’s profile includes developing prevention tactics and streamlining intelligence gathering.      Another US company involved in the India’s UID project is L-1 Identity Solutions. L-1 is a US defence contractor whose name was associated with the CIA and other US defence organizations. Former CIA director George Tenet and former Homeland Security deputy secretary Admiral James Loy were on the board of L-1 till 2010.
China had also embarked upon a UID type scheme but it abandoned it mid-way on concerns expressed by the Communist Party. The Chinese project was being done by a French company Safran. Recently L-1 has bought Safran. In this way, the technology of profiling people developed by Safran in China will now come to India via L-1.
There are two aspects of the Aadhar scheme. The distribution of pensions and cash subsidies through strict biometric monitoring is to be wholly welcomed. But the method adopted for doing this is wholly unacceptable. It seems the Government is surreptitiously smuggling in a powerful vigilance mechanism under the guise of cash distribution of subsidies. It is like a security personnel handing over secrets of the country to foreign powers so that he can build a school in his village. Collection of biometric data and possible handing over of the same to foreign powers cannot be justified on grounds of cash distribution of subsidies.
We should examine other alternatives. The justification of Aadhar arises from the fact that large number of subsidies is to be distributed to beneficiaries. We should think of removing this entire cobweb of subsidies and distributing a consolidated amount to each citizen as his right to life. All complicated systems of food, fertilizer, LPG, kerosene and even health and education subsidies should be scrapped. People should be given money to buy all these services from the market according to their choice.
The opposition should wake up. The 2004 elections were lost by NDA because there was nothing on the ground which would provide relief to the common man. Last general elections were again lost by the NDA because UPA had implemented MNREGA and loan waiver. The UPA hopes to win the coming elections in 2014 on the back of pensions and cash transfers. The opposition should demand universal consolidated cash transfer through an organization like the Employees Provident Fund as a counter to this dangerous move by the UPA.
The main difficulty in implementation of this suggestion is the stranglehold of the welfare bureaucracy. Over the last sixty years large numbers of government servants have been employed in the provision of welfare schemes to the people. These include education, health, subsidized food grains and a host of schemes such as house for the poor under Indira Awas Yojana and widow’s pension. These schemes provide huge benefits to the government servants. One beneficiary of the Indira Awas Yojana told me that he had to pay bribe of Rs 10,000 to get the benefits of Rs 25,000. Large amounts of bribes will now be obtained by the government servants in providing certificates of 40 percent disability.  The apparent objective of these schemes is to provide benefits to the poor. But the more important and real objective is to create a huge army of government servants that stands behind the government and is willing to crush any rebellion by the people against exploitation. All political parties are trying to appease this section of the society because these have a decisive role in the electoral process.
The solution is going to be difficult. One possibility is to stop new recruitments in the welfare departments. The money saved upon retirement of present servants may be diverted to cash payments. Cash payments will grow gradually. Another solution is to deploy these servants in productive works such as traffic control, police, judiciary, forest protection and pollution control.
The giving out of doles via Aadhar is unacceptable because it opens the gates for providing this information to foreign powers; and also because it does not solve the basic problem of a bloated welfare mafia.

 

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