How Big Pharma Is Bringing Forced Drug Tests To a State Near You #healthcare


Think Progress / By Nicole Flatow
Wonder why so many laws to drug test people who receive public benefits are cropping up?
April 9, 2013  |

 

 

In the Nation, Isabel Macdonald has an excellent long read on the history of U.S. drug testing, beginning with a government program to test returning Vietnam War veterans and the drug-testing provisions in President Ronald Reagan’s Drug Free Workplace Act as part of the misdirected War on Drugs. Even then, the medical community dismissed the Act’s provisions requiring all federal grantees to test employees as “chemical McCarthyism,” as well as unscientific and discriminatory, since it was more likely to capture days-old marijuana use than frequent consumption of cocaine or alcohol. But the movement nonetheless grew from an anti-drug campaign into an industry with its own trade association, after several moneyed interests like Hoffman-La Roche, the maker of Valium and sleeping pills, got into the business:

The company established one of the first major drug-testing labs in America and won an early urine-testing contract with the Pentagon, leading to $300 million in annual sales by 1987. The following year, Hoffmann-La Roche stepped up its sales efforts with the launch of a major PR and lobbying campaign to “mobilize corporate America to confront the illicit drug problem in their workplaces.” The drug manufacturer called its new campaign “Corporate Initiatives for a Drug-Free Workplace.”

Before long, with the help of a New Jersey–based lawyer named David Evans, Hoffmann-La Roche was organizing workshops around the country to convince employers to set up drug-testing programs. In an interview with The Nation, Evans likened his role to that of “a doctor coming in to talk about how to set up a medical device.” During that first campaign, 1,000 employers signed up.[…]

The drug-testing industry took aim at lawmakers as much as employers. Hoffmann-La Roche, for instance, worked “with federal and state government officials,” according to a press release issued by the PR company hired to market the campaign. Lerner told the press that the drug company also envisioned a “grassroots strategy” to prevent states from passing laws to decriminalize marijuana.

By 2006, 84 percent of American employers were reporting that they drug-tested their workers. Today, drug testing is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry. DATIA [Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association] represents more than 1,200 companies and employs a DC-based lobbying firm, Washington Policy Associates. Hoffmann-La Roche’s former consultant, David Evans, now runs his own lobbying firm and has ghostwritten several state laws to expand drug testing. Most significant, in the 1990s Evans crafted the Workplace Drug Testing Act for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), of which Hoffmann-La Roche was a paying member. Laying out protocols for workplace drug testing, the bill—which has been enacted into law in several states—upheld the rights of employers to fire employees who do not comply with their companies’ drug-free workplace program.

Over the past decade, lobbyists like Evans have focused on what a DATIA newsletter recently dubbed “the next frontier”—schoolchildren. In 2002, a representative from the influential drug-testing management firm Besinger, DuPont & Associates heralded schools as “potentially a much bigger market than the workplace.”

Because this drug testing tends to capture marijuana more than other drugs, proponents of the movement have increasingly demonized marijuana use most of all. Robert Dupont, who served as drug policy director under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, had advocated decriminalizing marijuana and its use a “minor problem” before he became a “drug-testing management” consultant. Then in 1978, he declared marijuana “in many ways” the “worst drug of all the illegal drugs,” later explaining in a PBS special that, “I realized that these public policies were symbolic—all that really mattered was you were for [the decriminalization of marijuana] or you were against it…. I think about it as a litmus test.”

Now, with fewer and fewer employers implementing drug tests because they have shown “no demonstrable return on investment,” the industry has turned to another lucrative market: those receiving public assistance and unemployment benefits. Several recently passed state laws that require public benefits applicants to take drug tests have been struck down by courts, but that hasn’t stopped other states from moving forward with random drug-testing provisions. In South Carolina in 2012, with unemployment still above 9 percent, state legislators pushed three different bills to drug-test the unemployed. And several other states have done the same in the wake of a federal provision that authorizes the tests. Of course, these laws propose testing for drugs consumed illegally without a prescription. So if those consuming marijuana for stress or trouble sleeping happen to turn instead to prescription use of another federally legal drug, such as Valium or sleeping pills, Hoffman-La Roche just happens to have profited twice over from the process.

Nicole Flatow is the Deputy Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. Previously, she was Associate Director of Communications for the American Constitution Society. Nicole has also worked for several legal and general circulation newspapers, including The Daily Record and The New York Law Journal, and was a legal fellow at Bread for the City, where she represented low-income D.C. residents in housing and public benefits matters. She received her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law, and her B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University, where she was editor in chief of her campus newspaper.

 

#India – The Aadhaar Card – How Safe Is YOUR Data? #UID #privacy


social-media-privacy
Thursday, Apr 11, 2013,
Berges Malu  , DNA , April 11, 2013

Applying for an Aadhar Card is a privacy nightmare.

 

 

 

 

 

The need for me to have an Aadhar card continues to have me flummoxed. But after a lot of cajoling from my parents and friends, I decided to go ahead and apply for a card at an enrollment camp that was set up at the University I study at. What I experienced has left me a wee bit stunned on how and what exactly our government that is well known more for its goof ups than its successes has rolled up their sleeve for Aadhar cardholders and how they plan to keep this entire mammoth machinery running.

 

Thankfully unlike the royal run around I was made to go through for my passport, the process to get my Aadhar card was an absolute breeze.  My companion and I deposited our forms in the morning, got a token number and in the evening we headed over to the enrollment center, stood in a rather short queue and were out with a smile about 15 minutes later. But while the process was a breeze and I had no complaints about the promptness of the entire process, how my data was handle left me questioning the entire identification process.

 

To start with, the agent there, never once took a look at the copies of documents I was submitting as proof of identity. He only checked it, to confirm my father’s name. He never bothered to check if the documents were indeed true copies or just well made out photo-shopped documents, and he never asked to see the originals. He didn’t bother to ask me if I wanted to link my Aadhar card to an existing bank account and thankfully on his own never ticked the part about my information being shared to other authorities.

 

He then went on to dump these loosely stapled bunch of documents into a carton that I have no clue was headed where. Here was a pile of very valuable personal data, that included everything from my date of birth, address, educational qualifications and I had no clue what was to happen of it. One needn’t worry about what the government would do with the data fed into the system, its what could happen to the hard information that was in this carton, almost every bit of our lives was ready for an identity thief to come by and pick up.

 

A recent article in MiDDAY (http://goo.gl/ZL5WG) reported that copies of the compulsory documents that were submitted by residents in a Mumbai colony as proof of identity etc as well as hard copies of the forms, were left behind by the agency that filed the data and no one had picked it up. This after the residents had already received their Aadhar cards.

 

What I also noticed was, of the two agents stationed at the enrollment center, the woman (who managed the enrollment of women) didn’t speak a word of either English or Hindi, she only spoke Telugu, while the enrollment of data is done in English. Now while there is nothing wrong in speaking only the language of your state (and God knows how big a proponent I am of every citizen living in Maharashtra learning Marathi), entering in data of individuals in a language other than your is surely not your best forte, and as was bound to happen, almost every woman who went over was locked in a battle with her trying to get her to correct the umpteen goof ups she made.  Makes me wonder why I shouldn’t be surprised that many Aadhar cards are turning up with images of Trees, dogs and other pets as was reported recently? (http://goo.gl/tCUgG)

 

Which left me wondering, if my data at primary source is being dealt with in such a lackadaisical manner, what would happen once it reaches the government and how careful will they be with all of this?

 

 

US court pays $6 million to Gardasil Vaccine Victims #goodnews


Wednesday, April 10, 2013 – Alternative Health with Dr. Lind by Peter Lind

WASHINGTON, April 10, 2013 – Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus), may not be as safe as backers claim.

Judicial Watch announced it has received documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealing that its National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has awarded $5,877,710 dollars to 49 victims in claims made against the highly controversial HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines. To date 200 claims have been filed with VICP, with barely half adjudicated.

“This new information from the government shows that the serious safety concerns about the use of Gardasil have been well-founded. Public health officials should stop pushing Gardasil on children.” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

The CDC recommends the Gardasil vaccine, made by Merck Pharmaceuticals, for all females between 9 and 26 years to protect against HPV. Furthermore, the CDC says Gardasil is licensed, safe, and effective for males ages 9 through 26 years.

The facts appear to contradict the FDA’s safety statements. The adverse reaction reports detail 26 new deaths reported between September 1, 2010 and September 15, 2011 as well as incidents of seizures, paralysis, blindness, pancreatitis, speech problems, short term memory loss and Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The documents come from the FDA’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) which is used by the FDA to monitor the safety of vaccines.

That’s 26 reported deaths of young, previously healthy, girls after Gardasil vaccination in just one year.

In response to the concern about death reports among those who received Gardasil, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) insists  “there was no unusual pattern or clustering to the deaths that would suggest that they were caused by the vaccine.”

While it is not clear exactly what is causing so many adverse reactions, Gardasil does contain genetically engineered virus-like protein particles as well as aluminum, which can affect immune function.

Further, according to the vaccine manufacturer product information insert, “Gardasil … not been evaluated for carcinogenicity or impairment of fertility.” (2007 [227] p1986 )

In fact, Merck studied the Gardasil vaccine in fewer than 1,200 girls under 16 prior to it being released to the market under a fast-tracked road to licensure. To date, most of the serious side effects, including deaths, that occurred during the pre-licensure clinical trials and post marketing surveillance have been written off as a “coincidence” by Merck researchers and government health officials.

Neurologist Dr. Ian Sutton reported negative neurological side effects from Gardasil. He reported five cases of multiple sclerosis-like symptoms emerging shortly after women received the Gardasil vaccine, noting:

“We report five patients who presented with multifocal or atypical demyelinating syndromes within 21 days of immunization with the quadrivalent human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil. Although the target population for vaccination, young females, has an inherently high risk for MS, the temporal association with demyelinating events in these cases may be explained by the potent immuno-stimulatory properties of HPV virus-like particles which comprise the vaccine.”

From its inception, the use of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases has been hotly disputed.  According to the Annals of Medicine: “At present there are no significant data showing that either Gardasil or Cervarix (GlaxoSmithKline) can prevent any type of cervical cancer since the testing period employed was too short to evaluate long-term benefits of HPV vaccination.”

There are more than 100 types of human papillomaviruses (HPVs). Of them, about 40 types of HPV are sexually transmitted and 15 of these types are most associated with cervical cancers and genital warts in women and men.

HPV vaccines have been illegally administered to millions without informed consent, as the risks rarely disclosed.

Not only are there questions about the safety of the vaccine, there are questions about the need for the vaccine. Over 90 percent of women infected with HPV clear the infection naturally within two years, at which point cervical cells go back to normal.

Meanwhile, Merck is benefitting tremendously from vaccine sales. The vaccine is expected to reach $1 billion in sales next year, and could reach more than $4 billion in sales in five years, according to Wall Street analysts.

Dr Peter Lind practices metabolic and neurologic chiropractic in his wellness clinic in Salem, Oregon. USA. He is the author of 3 books on health, one novel, and hundreds of wellness articles. His clinical specialty is in physical, nutritional, and emotional stress.

 

To address sexual violence, begin with gender sensitisation of the police #Vaw #Womenrights


rape11

Outrage in Bulandshahr

The Indian Express : Fri Apr 12 2013, 02:15 hrs
Earlier this week, a 10-year-old Jatav girl was put behind bars at the Bulandshahr women’s police station. Her offence: she had gone to file a rape complaint. As reported in this paper, the girl, who lives with her parents in a village mainly populated by Rajputs, had allegedly been raped by a 35-year-old Rajput man on Sunday evening. The family has been under pressure to withdraw the case and move out of the village, a course of action supported by the village panchayat. Now the Supreme Court has expressed consternation at the abdication of duty by the police.

In the wake of the Delhi gangrape last December, calls for a more lasting change coalesced around a single, impatiently rushed through law — the Criminal (Amendments) Bill, 2012. While discussion on the provisions of the bill dominated the public discourse on rape, less attention has been paid to how law interacts with, and addresses, caste, class and gender biases, how it translates in different contexts, not just in the metros but also in smaller towns and villages. Law must operate within a matrix of local power relations heavily tilted against victims of sexual violence, especially those from lower castes. The police belong to this matrix, complicit in the interests and prejudices working within it. It is urgent, therefore, that issues such as gender sensitisation of the police and the non-registration of complaints are highlighted and addressed. Incidents such as the one in Bulandshahr point to the need for wider and deeper changes such as those recommended by the National Police Commission. While urging measures to de-link the police from the existing power structures and political interference, it also proposed a special cell to look into complaints of police insensitivity and intransigence coming from weaker sections of society, including SCs and STs.

The Bulandshahr scandal is a reminder that deliberation and discussion on sexual crimes cannot be whittled down to a single law. It must take into account a gamut of more difficult changes, social and institutional, that transform the way such crimes are perceived and their victims are addressed.

 

#India- Woman Sedated, Gang-Raped by Husband,Two Others in Moving Car in Delhi #Vaw #WTFnews


marital-rape-poster

By IB Times Staff Reporter | April 12, 2013 12:24 PM

In a yet another shocking incident of crime against woman in the capital, a 20-year-old was allegedly gang-raped by her husband and two other men inside a moving vehicle before being dumped in a secluded area.

The incident came to light on Wednesday evening when a passerby spotted the victim in an unconscious state in Southwest Delhi‘s Najafgarh area. The passerby immediately called the police and rushed the victim to a nearby hospital.

According to the victim, she was gang-raped by Inderjeet (claimed to be her husband), Nitin and Vijendra in a Maruti Alto car. The three accused, who are in the age group of 21 and 25, have been arrested.

The medical examination of the woman also confirmed that she was raped.

According to The Times of India, Nitin and Vijendra are Inderjeet’s relatives. Inderjeet is a businessman and the other two accused are property dealers.

The victim, a resident of Jhajjar district in Haryana, told police that she had married Inderjeet in a local temple without her parents’ knowledge. Inderjeet reportedly called her to Delhi to register their marriage. When she came to Delhi she was taken to a car in which Nitin and Vijender were already present.

The woman also said that she consumed cold-drinks laced with sedatives after which the trio gang-raped her.

“But on the way, she was offered a cold drink laced with sedatives and gang-raped by the three accused in an Alto. She was later thrown out of the car,” an officer told TOI.

Police on Thursday registered a rape case under IPC 376 (G).

This is not the first time the victim accused Inderjeet of raping her. Earlier in February, the woman filed an FIR against him claiming that he raped her. Police are now investigating the previous case.

To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.com

 

Bhopal protesters knock on Dow Chemical’s door in Mumbai – Videos


Author(s):
Akshay Deshmane
Issue Date:
2013-4-10

Demand clean up of toxins in soil and water around Union Carbide plant, production of absconding corporation officials before Indian court

image

Pic- Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Godrej Business District Pirojshahnagar in the eastern Mumbai suburb of Vikhroli had some unusual visitors on Tuesday. They were not well-heeled business professionals but hundreds of poor women, children and men, shouting slogans and carrying placards and posters which denounced Dow Chemical International Private Limited for its apathy towards the victims and survivors of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Nearly 200 protesters from Bhopal who had survived the Bhopal gas disaster, including many children born after the accident who are experiencing severe health complications due to toxic contamination in the erstwhile plant’s vicinity, demonstrated outside the office of Dow Chemical, demanding that its parent company in USA clean up toxic contamination from soil and ground water in and around Union Carbide’s abandoned factory. The protesters also demanded from Dow Chemical that owns Union Carbide produce the absconding corporation charged with culpable homicide before the Bhopal court [1].

Having received advance intimation about the arrival of protesters, the company officials had made additional security arrangements and called in the police. “Officials from our senior management had asked us to reinforce our security with additional personnel, add more personnel to the Godrej’s private security that looks after security in the premises and called in the police also. This helped in preventing the protesters from entering the building. Only a small delegation of five protesters was allowed in to meet the officials at the company’s reception briefly and by 2-2:30 pm they had left,” said a member of Dow’s private security.

Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action was one of the five members who went in for the meeting. “We gave them our memorandum of demands and they responded saying that the senior management of the company will be informed about it but gave no time frame in which the demands will be addressed or responded to,” said Sarangi.

Demonstrators included women and children who have chronic illnesses from drinking local ground water contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals [2]  from hazardous wastes recklessly dumped by Union Carbide. The protesters expressed dismay over Dow Chemical’s continued business in hazardous chemicals in India.

Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said that following its takeover of Union Carbide in 2001, Dow Chemical is responsible for the horrific birth defects and other health damages caused due to ground water contamination.

Balkrishna Namdeo of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha pointed out that Dow Chemicals is yet to pay additional compensation for deaths and health damage caused by the Dow subsidiary in the December 1984 gas disaster. “In 1989, Union Carbide had paid compensation only for 3,828 deaths whereas the total number of deaths has crossed 25, 000. Likewise, compensation has been paid for injuries to 102,000 persons while the actual number of persons injured by the disaster according to the state and Central governments is 568, 293.” (see Bhopal gas leak: curative petition downplays number of deaths[3]; SC refuses to restore stiffer charges for Bhopal disaster accused [4] and Union Carbide refuses more compensation to Bhopal gas leak victims [5]).

For those affected by the accident, there may be some hope for justice. Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action informed that in response to her organisation’s application, the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Bhopal will soon summon the Dow Chemical’s authorized representative from USA and ask it to show cause why it does not produce its full subsidiary Union Carbide that is absconding from charges of culpable homicide for the last 21 years.

 


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/bhopal-protesters-knock-dow-chemicals-door-mumbai
A longer version for all with high speed net

 

Glaring Lies of Glorious Gujarat: Exposing Narendra Modi and His Claims


April 11, 2013

Neena Vya | Deccan Herald

It is elementary Dr Watson. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, not in a loud declaration of being baked by a master chef, nor in detailing an elaborate recipe for its preparation.

narendra-modiSherlock Holmes may well have made this comment to Dr Watson after hearing Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi speak at two different venues on April 8 in Delhi.

At a FICCI ‘ladies’ meet, Modi, naturally, chose to speak on women empowerment. And in the process was careful to hide the fact that his governance record in Gujarat since 2001 had little to show by way of gender development. And at the second event he focussed on a new mantra – minimum government, maximum governance – forgetting that Gujarat is a case of maximum government with minimum results in key sectors.

To the ‘ladies’ Modi mentioned that in the 18th century new-born girl babies were ‘drowned in milk,’ but in the 21st century would-be parents in India preferred to kill their unborn female children in the womb.

While he posed as the champion of the girl-child, what he did not say was that under his watch proud Gujaratis were killing more unborn female babies than before: the sex ratio in Gujarat worsened from 921 (per 1000 male births) in 2001 to just 918 in 2011. A marginal decline one could say, but significant since in that decade, the overall all India sex ratio improved from 933 to 940.

Several states, some less developed than Gujarat, put up a better performance to help move the all India figure in a positive direction: Assam improved sex ratio by 22 points from 932 to 954; Andhra Pradesh by 14 points from 978 to 992; Madhya Pradesh by 10 points from 920 to 930 thanks perhaps to the state government’s ladli laxmi yojana; and several other states like Karnataka, Himachal, Maharashtra bettered their 2001 sex ratio statistics by 3 to 4 points.

Modi spoke about matri shakti the power of the mother. But clearly, on the ground Modi’s government has not paid enough attention to reduction of maternal mortality rates. National Sample Surveys establish that in Gujarat MMR fell by 12 points between 2004-06 and 2007-09 from 160 to 148. But in the same period both Kerala and Tamil Nadu reduced maternal mortality rates by 14 points each and Maharashtra brought it down by a good 26 points from 130 to 104. For every 100 maternal deaths in Maharashtra there are 145 in Gujarat!

Increase in suicides

Not only are more female babies killed and more mothers die in Gujarat relative to comparable states, the state’s record in female suicides is also not anything that Modi would like to shout about. The National Crimes Record Bureau statistics showed a 10.5 per cent increase in suicides in Gujarat in 2007 (with 28 per cent of these suicides by housewives) as compared to the All India increase of 2.2 per cent that year.

To understand Modi-style women empowerment, try to digest the hard fact he gave Mayaben Kodnani a ministerial berth as the women and child development minister when she was already facing charges of presiding over the gruesome massacres of women and children and large-scale rape in her constituency Naroda Patiya during the 2002 carnage. Additional principal judge Jyotsna Yagnik effectively gave her a 28-year sentence and pronounced her as the ‘kingpin’ of the carnage. Modi’s Mayaben must be the only minister for women in the world to have earned this distinction.

If Rahul Gandhi, the possible prime ministerial candidate of the ruling party in the 2014 election battle, has shown a penchant for being able to put his finger on the problem without offering any solutions, Modi seems to boast about the Gujarat development model he has perfected while ignoring the poor social indicators it has produced.

At the second event in Delhi – Think India Dialogue of Network 18 – Modi dwelt at length on his appealing formula of  ‘minimum government’ and ‘maximum governance.’ But has his government in Gujarat for the last 13 years achieved ‘minimum’ but effective governance in critical areas of education, health and wages? And anyone in his party in Gujarat will tell you that Modi’s is a ‘maximum government’ with all powers centralised in his hands.

Over the decade 2001 to 2011 Census figures show Gujarat has dropped to 17th from 18th state rank in literacy. In Per Capita Net State Domestic Product (PCNSDP) Gujarat held the 4th rank among states in 1996-97 and since then it has hovered between 6th and 7th rank whereas Maharashtra has climbed from the 3rd to 2nd rank and Haryana to the number one position as Punjab declined from the 1st position in 2001-02 to 4th in 2007-08.

As for health indicators, life expectancy in Gujarat is 10 years lower than in Kerala and about the same as the national average despite its claims about being a developed state. Several National Sample Surveys have indicated that malnutrition affects about 44.6 per cent of the people and 66 per cent children in the 0 to 5 years age group suffer from anaemia.

Planning Commission figures indicate poverty in Gujarat reduced from an incidence of 31.6 per cent to 23 per cent between 2004-05 and 2009-10, a drop of 8.6 percentage points (using the Tendulkar methodology at constant prices). In the period by the same methodology in Maharashtra poverty came down by 14 percentage points to 24.5 per cent. Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu both reduced poverty by 12 percentage points during this period.

The harsh fact is that under Modi – he has ruled Gujarat for 13 years while Manmohan Singh has been prime minister for nine – his state has not been able to bag the number one state ranking in any socio-economic indicator.

Sherlock Holmes may well have asked Modi: In which area Mr Modi, has your minimum government produced maximum result?

 

#Mumbai – After sexual harassment at workplace, woman faces online slander #Vaw


MEENA MENON, The Hindu, April 11,2013

 

First it was sexual harassment at workplace. Next comes a slanderous campaign on the Internet.  For this former employee of auditing firm KPMG, life has become hell since 2007. Now Aditi (name changed) is fighting with the Mumbai cyberpolice who are doing little on her 2012 complaint seeking action against websites which hosted offensive and abusive comments against her.

Trial yet to begin

While the sexual harassment case led to the arrest of a KPMG partner in 2007 and the filing of a charge sheet in December that year, the trial is yet to begin. Aditi has little doubt that the defamation in the cyber realm is an extension of workplace harassment. She had to wage a fight to ensure that the defamatory comments were removed by the Department of Telecom after a magistrate’s order in December 2012, three years after her complaint.  The cyberpolice are yet to complete their probe into a first information report registered against Google, a website 498a.org and an individual whose comments appeared on that website.

In September 2007, after a Mumbai daily revealed her name while reporting on the sexual harassment case, she was subjected to verbal abuse on the Internet. She filed a complaint with the cybercrime cell on October 9, 2007. While the comments were removed from public view soon after, they started appearing on other sites like 498a.org and Save the Indian Family (SIFS).  She wrote to Google, which removed the links to websites like 498a.org. Later, when the comments reappeared, Google wrote to her saying it could not block the URLs.

‘Total lie’

A second complaint was filed at the cyberpolice station at Bandra in 2010. The  police closed the earlier complaint terming it a civil one,  without informing her, stating the accused was not identified. Aditi claims this is a complete lie as her 58-page complaint had given details of the websites that carried the comments. She filed a fresh complaint in April and May 2012 against Google and Nabble, on whose websites the offensive comments reappeared, and thereafter the links were removed from Nabble. She sent legal notice to Google for not deleting the links.

Thanks to the extensive cyberdefamation, Aditi now finds it difficult to get a new job and she is being termed a ‘legal terrorist’. “I am only fighting for my right to dignity but such baseless slander with no action by the police created lot of problems,” she says.

Police can block websites

Under Section 69 A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, the police have the power to block offensive websites, but they did nothing. She was made to file yet another complaint in May 2012 on the same issue. The defamatory comments were  removed by the DoT after the Chief Metropolitan Court passed an order in November 2012 directing Cert-In (the Computer Emergency Response cell under the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology) to block 10 URLs. The police finally registered an FIR only in November 2012 against an individual whose name and email ID appeared with offensive comments on nabble.com, unidentified persons who wrote abusive remarks on google.com and 498a.org. They were charged under Section 500 of the IPC and Sections 34 and 66 A, B and C of the Information Technology Act. She filed a query under the Right to Information Act on the progress in the case, and the police replied in January 2013 that they could not give any detail since it would impede investigation. When The Hindu contacted senior inspector N.K. More of the cyberpolice station, who is investigating the case, he declined to comment.

The police claim they cannot make headway since 498a.org and other sites are not responding to their summons. However, The Hindu got detailed email responses from 498a.org and an organisation called Rakshak Foundation, which is connected to it. Piyush Singh, a volunteer from Rakshak, in response to emailed questions, called from the U.S. and admitted that the cyberpolice had sent the organisation a letter in July 2012. It called up the police last year to clarify that it would forward the police complaint to 498a.org.

Both connected

Investigations reveal that a link on 498a.org marked ‘donate’ takes you to Rakshak saying: “We need your help and support to keep actively helping falsely implicated and stressed families for free. All Donations are made to Rakshak Foundation (registered NGO at California, USA), which supports 498a.org. Rakshak Foundation is 501(c)(3) certified and hence the donations are tax-exempt. Rakshak Foundation’s EIN # is 71-1033875.”

A phone call to a number listed on the 498a.org website in Mumbai elicited the response that they were volunteers only to help people and all administrative decisions were taken by the Rakshak Foundation in the U.S.  Mr. Singh said Rakshak collected funds for 498a.org since it was a website and not an organisation. Rakshak started public policy research in 2006-07 and found out about 498a.org.

Volunteer’s claim

However, a volunteer from 498a.org who wished to remain anonymous, said in an email interview that the website was not connected to the Rakshak Foundation.  The website relied on volunteers to help those who are aggrieved by the misuse of 498a. Since 498a.org is a website, donations used to be collected through Rakshak. “Rakshak is not funding us. 498a.org and Rakshak are not connected.” At least this volunteer has not seen emails from the cyberpolice seeking information and said 498a.org did not have any interest in defaming anyone.

Aditi managed to obtain, on her own, a lot of details including of the people who had founded Rakshak.  Her poser to the police: Whether a website registered outside India can carry out activities in India through volunteers and get away without complying with the law of the land?

 


  • Thanks to cyber defamation, she finds it difficult to get new job and is being termed ‘legal terrorist’
  • Police claim websites are not responding to their summons

 


 

Mumbai cyber police yet to act on her complaints against websites

 

In Remembrance: Professor Lotika Sarkar (1923-2013)


Anuj Agrawal on April 8, 2013 – 
Dr Lotika Sarkar

“She wasn’t boring you know…most people today are boring. But she…. no, she wasn’t boring.”

Dr. Mithu Alur speaks in that lilting manner that some Bengalis possess; her words are spoken with a slightly musical intonation. It has been a few weeks since Dr. Lotika Sarkar’s demise and I am hoping that Dr. Alur, Sarka’s niece can tell me more about this great lady. Her description of Lotika Sarkar seems a bit odd; it is certainly unexpected. Yet, later on I would realize that it was an apt description, an honest one. Every once in a while, Dr. Alur glances towards the window and becomes silent, her eyes filling up with memories. At those times, all you can hear is the quiet hum of the air conditioner. Suddenly, Dr. Alur breaks away from the memories and looks at me once more, partly telling me and partly telling herself, “No, she wasn’t boring.”

Born in 1923, Sarkar was raised in one of the leading aristocratic families of West Bengal. Her father, Sir Dhiren Mitra, was one of the most reputable lawyers in the country.  Growing up, Lotika Sarkar must have had access to all the privileges of the wealthy and yet, her upbringing did not give her a false sense of entitlement. As Usha Ramanathan writes, Sarkar’s personality was characterized by the “unacceptance of nonsense, and a deep sense of fairness. No pre-judgment, no prejudice.” Sarkar went on to study at Cambridge, becoming the first woman to complete a Ph.D. from Cambridge. It would be one of many “firsts”.

It was in the 1960’s that Sarkar married her life-long partner, journalist Dr. Chanchal, the two settling down in Delhi’s Hauz Khas area. Sarkar was the first woman lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Delhi University. At the Faculty of Law (and later, the Indian Law Institute), Sarkar would take courses in criminal law.

Sarkar created quite a sensation as a lecturer.“She was a total non-conformist,” remembers Professor Archana Parashar, “yet [she] had this aura of authority and propriety around her.” Parashar, currently teaching at Macquarie Law School, first met Sarkar during her undergraduate days. She pursued an LL.M. purely because she wanted to study under Sarkar, an influence that was to continue when Parashar was working on her Ph.D. “I can unhesitatingly say that she was my mentor.” Prof. Amita Dandha, currently at NALSAR University, echoes similar thoughts. She says, “[To] meet with a woman professor who dialogued on vital questions of crime causation not by standing behind the lectern but by sitting on the table was more liberating than I then realized.”

And it was not only because Sarkar was one of the first to discuss the offence of rape in class, but also the manner in which she taught. Prof Ved Kumari who took Sarkar’s course on Juvenile Delinquency writes, “With her cigarette in hand, legs folded in her chair, having black coffee,” Professor Sarkar would discuss, “the humanity of law relating to children, offering tea to all the students.” It is so easy to imagine a prim and proper Lotika Sarkar, cigarette dangling from her hands, asking questions in clipped tones, really wanting to know what you thought. “Her big eyes would almost see through you,” writes Kumari, “[she was] very polite but firm.”

And it was not only Sarkar’s students who found out how “firm” Sarkar could be. Parashar remembers the time when some classes were scheduled to be held at ten in the night. “I told [Prof. Sakar”] that I would have to withdraw from the course as it was simply unsafe to travel by public transport after 10 pm. She stormed into the then Dean’s office and told that if he is scheduling classes at such times, he will have to personally go and drop every woman student to her home. Needless to say, the timetable was quickly modified.”

“We were Ma’ams bacchas”, smiles Prof. Dhanda, “and just like children, we would all vie for her attention.” Prof. Dhanda, Kumari, and Parashar were just three of Sarkar’s students who would later on work under and with Professor Sarkar. The relation would change from that of a teacher and a student, to that of a colleague, a relationship based on mutual trust, respect and openness. In the years that followed, Lotika Sarkar co-founded the Indian Association for Women Studies, the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, her work constituting some of the most influential writings in the field of women’s studies.

The Report of the Committee on the Status of Women, was probably one of the most exhaustive pieces of research conducted in the country. Constituted in 1971, the Committee was to study a host of topics including the changing “status of women as housewives and mothers” in Indian society. It is unclear what the government of India expected from the Committee; what ˆ clear is that the Committee took its mandate extremely seriously. Amongst other things, the Report included opinions on education and the problems of having different curricula on the basis of sex, the participation of women in the political process, and even the influence of popular media on women. Four decades down, it remains a remarkable and relevant document.

Sarkar would also receive much admiration after co-authoring an open-letter to the then Chief Justice of India, following the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Mathura gangrape. And even then, despite all the media attention, Sarkar remained endearingly down-to-earth. Remembers activist, lawyer and founder of Majlis law, Flavia Agnes. “When I met her just after the open letter in the Mathura rape case”, says Agnes, “She took my elbow and told me, ‘You know, I merely signed the letter without knowing any better. And now all these people are asking me to speak about rape. What do I tell them?’” Agnes breaks into a broad smile before continuing,  “And I actually believed her!”

In the decades that followed, Sarkar would become one of the most popular figures in the feminist movement; her writings shaping an entire generation of women’s studies, deeply affecting public perception, and leading to a series of concrete changes in existing legislations. This paper, on the changing landscape of the women’s movement is just one example of the kind of literature and research that Sarkar produced. Yet, even with all the adulation, the research, and the writing, there was so much more to this woman. Much more.

On a balmy evening in Bombay, a small group of people met to share their memories of Dr. Sarkar. Some of them had worked with Sarkar, others had been inspired, others yet simply want to share their memories. One by one, these men and women spoke in smiles, anecdotes and barely hidden tears, re-telling their memories of a person who led them to believe, to fight, to think. Most of all, the words described a person they loved.

Ram Reddy first met Lotika Sarkar and Chanchal Sarkar in the late ‘70’s when his family moved to Delhi; they were neighbors. Reddy speaks in short, concise sentences. The Editor of Economic & Political Weekly, his words are measured and to the point. . Yet, when he speaks about Lotika Sarkar (“my first and last Bengali aunt”), his composure seems to leave him for a few moments; emotion triumphs rationale.

“She had time for everybody,” he recollects, “and she simply loved talking with young people. Their house was always open for us youngsters.” He describes a house that was open to all, a house that not only welcomed and supported individual thought but one where you were treated as an equal. Over four decades, Reddy kept in touch with Sarkar, and her husband Chancal. Towards the end, he visited Sarkar for a specific reason. “I wanted my son to meet her, I wanted him to meet this woman who was so important to me,” he says, “I guess it was my way of paying respect.”

Respect. It is a word that crops up often enough when discussing Sarkar. Along with respect though, there is also love. I am back in Dr. Alur’s office and she has a mischievous smile on her face. She is recounting her days as a student. A sixteen-year old Alur and her friend had Lotika Sarkar as their local guardian when the two were studying at Miranda House. Alur recollects how Dr. Sarkar (or “Monu-pishi” as Alur called her) would anxiously wait for the two of them to come home from hostel, and if they were even late by a few minutes, they would be peppered with questions. And yet, the very same Monu-pishi would take a bus to Miranda House when Alur fell sick, carrying homemade chicken soup to nurse Alur back to health.

It is clear that Lotika Sarkar left behind different memories for different people; she was a teacher, a guru, and an inspiration to many. More importantly, she embodied the celebration of a life filled with laughter and joy, a life truly lived, a life that inspires even in its end.

 

 

 

(The author would like to thank Dr. Mithu Alur and Prof. Amita Dhanda for all their help and patience. Images of Dr. Sarkar provided by Dr. Mithu Alur)

 

#India – #Aadhaar insists on a dress code for #UID photos #WTFnews


 

Residents baulk at dress code for UID photos
In the hurry to meet targets, UIDAI is missing its goals

In the hurry to meet targets, UIDAI is missing its goals

 V. VENKATASUBRAMANIAN,KANCHEEPURAM, April 12, 2013
A section of residents of Little Kancheepuram have objected to the dress code that is insisted on while their pictures are taken for the issue of Aadhar Card. They refused to wear shirts or T-shirts with collars that are the prescribed dress code. “We prefer to be photographed in our traditional wear, with an angavasthram,” said V. Narayanan of Sri Rangaraja Veethi.
Residents such as Mr. Narayanan and R. Srivatsan of Vegavathi Street were sent back without their data being captured at the camp held at a school on South Mada Street for the simple reason that they did not wear a shirt. In the camp, data including passport-size photographs, eye balls and finger prints of citizens were recorded.
When residents sought an explanation for the insistence on a dress code, the staff members at the camp who were taking the photos, said that they were merely sub-contractors and had been directed to capture the images of residents only if men and boys wore shirts with collars and girls sported duppatas.
Mr. Narayanan, exhibited a card issued to him last year by the Union Government, wherein his image with an angavasthram around his shoulders had been printed.
“I was told that the card issued to me last year will no longer be valid, which is why I came here. But now when I came here to comply with the government’s direction to avail this new card, they insisted that I wear a shirt”, he said.
M.R.V. Krishna Rao Joint Director, Census Department, told The Hindu that several such objections to dress code to had been recorded by the various vendors involved in capturing data. “In one place, members of a tribal community objected to wearing shirts. We can only ask them to wear a shawl. In another case, a woman had to be sent back as she had come in a T-shirt,” he said.
The department has asked the vendors to take photographs without hurting sentiments. “We held a meeting on Thursday and we have asked them to take photos as per individual requests. If the Unique Identification Authority of India rejects their cards on the basis of the photographs, then we will inform the public and take photos in the second round,” Mr. Rao said, adding that his office will soon write to the Authority informing of the objections to the dress code.
With inputs from Deepa H. Ramakrishnan

 

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