#India – The lives of documents: on the sorrows of #AADHAAR #UID

APRIL 13, 2013

This is a guest post by Rijul Kochhar

Combining field and event, camp is in effect spatial practice.[…] Camps are spaces where states of emergency or legal exception have become the rule. [They offer] the setting for the normative permanence of a suspended rule of law.

~Charlie Hailey, Camps: A Guide to 21st Century Space


Delhi govt advert compulsory aadhar

The story of Aadhar is not unknown—a new, cutting edge piece of documentary practice jack-booted for this 21st century, it seeks to cull out fraudulent persons tied to dubious places or circumstances (words like ‘ghosts’, ‘fakes’, ‘frauds’, ‘duplicates’ abound in its context). Paeans to the powers of biometrics have been sung from numerous citadels of power—the project’s uniqueness lies in its capacity to channel biological anatomy to a singular fantasy of individually-determined (and fixed) citizenship; its ability to weed out duplication and duplicity in favour of fool-proof individuality; its promise to identify seamlessly; its realization of that ultimate bureaucratic fantasy that seeks to eliminate the noisiness of personhood and the messiness of individual lives by inaugurating a system of identity constructed and at once accomplished through a 12-digit number tied to the bedrock of fingerprints and iris-scans. These seductive powers of identity and technology, long wished for by visions and bureaucratic pursuits of rationality, contrast against fears of the invasion of privacy, the dangers of centralising data, and the abuse of powers and of information by functionaries of government, as well as—by no means less important—prospects of technological malfunction in the field of civic services oranatomical recalcitrance.


Against seduction and fear, however, what indeed is the experience of Aadhar—of waiting, of seeking, of enrolment? Observations from a recent ‘camp’ in Delhi for enrolment animate this piece. These observations seek to work against the grain of the triumphalism associated with this massive project; instead, these observations seek to expose the quotidian frustrations as well as exclusionary dramas that unfold in the texture of the everydayness of documentary practice. These are dramas that are hidden from the eyes of technocrats and planners, but they, at once, also speak about the desire for recognition and the will to be recognized by an often-capricious governmentality.

For a very long time, I had resolved to keep aspects of my biometric identity away from governmental power. Over the course of many years, I have come to acquire a bouquet of documents that have linked my personhood to political status and claims to citizenship—birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, PAN card, Voter’s ID card, Class X pass certificate, a disability certificate. These elucidated my age, place of residence, age, sex, disability, appearance, biological markers like birthmarks, etc. and sought to galvanize an identity tied to a place, with both emanating from an entity that was merely considered, a priori, as biological. Placeness and personhood, then, have been the effects of documents; they testify to the immense power of paper and procedure.

That power, in recent months, has come to acquire further potency, as one agency of government after another—at various levels of government—becomes attached to a technocratic vision of politics. In other words, Aadhar reveals to us the larger story of how technocratic dictum works itself through coercion. For a very long time, Aadhar remained voluntary, even though there were conflicting voices to the contrary, ominously pointing to a very probable future of mandatory furnishing of personal biological data. The ethics of this form of coercive and obfuscatory public practice—where enrolment to Aadhar is deemed voluntary by its parent agency (on the UIDAI website, as well as on the enrolment form) on the one hand, but on the other hand, production of the Aadhar number is then held to be discretionary upon other agencies of government, many of which often do not work in sync with each other, some of which are absolutely vital to survival (example, the local ration shop, or the university scholarship/fellowship cell, or the local branch of one’s favourite bank, or the hospital and dispensary. In other places, marriage and owning of property are now compulsorily linked to Aadhar, perhaps harking to a terribly freudian slip!

This bureaucratic deception is one part of the story which must compel us to confront the logics of the biometric project; the ruse of governmentality to seek and compel the furnishing of one’s entire biological and anatomical constitution is another part of the story, a part that does not often cause us to think through the consequences of the absolute centralization of such massive and crucial data, as well as the increasing, creeping biologization of politics, rights and citizenship. Be that as it may, it is the hidden spectres within the seeming banality of paper and procedure, vis-à-vis Aadhar, that I want to concentrate upon here—the form-filling, the actual practice of enrolment, the requirements of ‘proofs’, the burden of being coerced into an avowedly rights-based scheme of governmentality that threatens exclusion not only when confronted by transgression (in not producing adequate data), but also activates that exclusion by tying up vital needs of life and living to documentary practices of paper and procedure that are, themselves, capricious and arbitrarily accomplished.

As various governmental agencies and functionaries, Parliament andvarious courts struggle over determining the legality and the contemporary status of Aadhar, I find myself browbeaten into standing in line for enrolling myself. Browbeaten because I have started to come across reports and discussions—in the media, in my social circle, indeed in places of work and leisure, in governmental advertisements that are more in the character of warnings[10]—that alert me to the wider perils of remaining obdurate to the seductions of UIDAI: withdrawal of fellowships, refusal of banks to honour requests, problems in hospitals, troubles with taxation, added problems in getting any governmental work done, refusal of pensions and refugee-assistance, the inability to get married. These perils, mundane as their visage might be, are nevertheless no less catastrophic to everyday life. They serve to illustrate how documents, papers and bureaucratic procedures become weapons of exclusion and selection—a detail of importance that observations from the field brought home to me, but which are glossed-over in the triumphalist rhetoric of technocratic eureka-moments.

Thanks to the vast corpus of documents that I have acquired, Aadhar enrolment was cakewalk for me. Fill the form, wait in line, struggle with fingerprints (praying that the machine would ‘read’ my troublesome digits—troublesome because the skin on my fingers is too ‘dry’ and my fingers, themselves, are crippled by a disability), have my ocular irises scanned, sign the receipt, and await one’s unique identity in the mail. Fundamentally, however, the promise of Aadhar—to provide a unique piece of identity, technologically facilitated, to all citizens—remains a false, vacuous and cruel lie. For what makes Aadhar possible for somebody is, contrary to what the enrolment form itself states, the production of past and existing documentation. This is what situates Aadhar in the same zone of exclusion and selection as other documents and paper-practices of bureaucracies; it makes it difficult for those without documentation to claim citizenship, even though Aadhar claims to extend the rights and duties associated with a modern regime of citizenship to all. The added fantasy of our contemporary politics—to tie technology to a coercive regime that insists, increasingly, on the furnishing of only one particular document—the Aadhar 12 digit number-bearing card—at the risk of being denied basic services in case of contravention of that regime in one’s everyday life—takes the UID project further down the extreme path of coercion, exclusion and, yes, harassment.

An anecdote will suffice. I accompanied an acquaintance to an Aadhar ‘camp’ (somewhere in central India). This person, who I will call ‘A’, had no documentary paper of identity or proof of citizenship. Now, the Aadhar enrolment form, which I had cared to study carefully in advance, provides three different options for ‘verification’: (1) document based, which accepts specific documents like passport, ration card and the class X pass-certificate as forms of proof for address, age, identity and residence (even though, in the way what is deemed acceptable proof is often discriminatory or patently elitist—how many people, after all, have the luxury of possessing a passport or a class X pass certificate?)


(2) introducer based, which allows those who “do not possess any documentary proof of identity and/or address” to enrol by being ‘introduced’; 3) head of family based. I, obviously, availed of the first option—both on the enrolment form, as well as during my conversation with the enrolling executive—given that I possessed other documents for verification. But what of those who do not have that luxury, people like A? For as is clear and remains a public secret of no great surprise, the possession of documents for most is not routine or a right; it is a privilege that is acquired by ingenious practices of subversion and collusion—what happens to them?

Obviously, Aadhar makes provisions for those without existing forms of documentation to avail of a new identity document. It recognizes the reality of those people—vast numbers of them—who possess not a shred of documentary ‘evidence’ to prove their claims to citizenship and to rights in 21st century India. But realities from the field of the camp diverge here: many people have carefully preserved pieces of paper to offer, but these documents—often in the local language—are from some place else, often from those parts of the country that are not well articulated in the public or governmental imaginary and are places which are often forgotten or ignored (unlike, say, a document from New Delhi, that often has its own miraculous powers of legitimacy and will get its holder access to services much more easily). From such places, which are actually kinds of ‘non-places’, persons as well as documents are also tainted—they are not ‘acceptable’ to the enrolling arms of modern identity-production and governmental projects such as Aadhar. The language of such documents is often a barrier, especially for migrants seeking Aadhar enrolment in a place different from the place where such older documents have been issued. Even so, UIDAI makes, at least on paper, the provision of the introducer-based verification for Aadhar enrolment. How does this work? The website of UIDAI states that the ‘introducer’ will be an agent of the registrar, ‘predesignated’ and having ‘influence’, called forth to verify the antecedents of the paperless applicant. This, however, is easier said than done in practice because individuals predesignated are hard to find, are rarely present at the necessary times, and will often not oblige except for special considerations. It is a fact that forms part of the larger tale of honourable intentions floundering on the rock of social reality. It is a reality that one sees in the field site of the camp. Against pervasive reticence, then, resides the expression to claim inclusion within this scheme, a phenomenon I witnessed, but rarely, in those who declaimed their vociferous will to be included. This will to Aadhar, however, is animated as much with the proffered possibilities of acquiring a paper of one’s own in a world of documents, as much as it is tempered with the fear of exclusion from vital entitlements in the near future.

Paper and procedure come to acquire their nefarious potency in practice, where discretion and other considerations trump the platitudes of policy and the fine print. At the Aadhar enrolment camp, our friend ‘A’, without his own set of documents and proofs, emerged in practice as a non-entity from a non-place, unworthy of trust or the legitimacy offered by Aadhar enrolment—a project that our friend was desperate to be a part of.[i] The enrolling personnel at the camp insisted that, no matter what their own form stated, they had ‘orders from above’ that sought to exclude those without valid and acceptable proofs of identity, age and residence from the enrolment drive. There was to be no introducer-based enrolment for A.[ii] When the machinery of government, at various levels, slowly but surely inches towards requiring Aadhar in its modes of operation, does this system of wanton inclusion and arbitrary exclusion not open the gates of abjection as well as a denial of very rudimentary entitlements? If the mission of this gargantuan undertaking has been to enable and provide those without valid documents of identity with one such document—and Aadhar, by stating the different types of verification on the enrolment form, seems aware of this responsibility—then what justifies the violence wrought by the coercive imagination that is compulsorily demanding Aadhar information for basic services while at the same time refusing enrolment for those without pre-existing documentation for their claims to citizenship? In other words, those left out of the corrupt and frustrating loop of documentation and the practices of paper and procedure continue to be subjected to the same. How unique, then, is Aadhar or its parent agency, the UIDAI?

While A’s experiences and mine are a study in contrast, these experiences reveal the power of paper and procedure in our lives. A’s inability to read did not help matters at the camp; my argument with the enrolling person and our insistence on UIDAI’s own provisions of introduction, verification and enrolment—stated in the form—cut little ice when the ‘higher-ups’ and their orders were invoked by the other side. How is one to manoeuvre, then, when confronted with the impossible situation where the reality of the de facto compulsoriness of Aadhar (given its increasing ubiquity for public life and for one’s daily business) combines with the existing reality of lives lived without documents, and the equal reality offered by my observations at the site of the camp where official provisions of inclusion and empowerment are jettisoned for hopeless and default bureaucratic techniques of denial? The infusion of Aadhar into the public body, in many ways, has eroded the erstwhile room to manoeuvre that offered the chance of utilizing the capacity of mobilizing other documents and other modes of procuring them; instead, the arbitrary denial of enrolment into Aadhar, and its increasing ubiquity in everyday life as a singular (and also, increasingly, the sole) form of identity, threatens to disrupt many of us in our everyday lives: those of us who either do not subscribe to the scheme’s biometric infatuations, or who do not measure up to its requirements—both official and discretionary—of enrolment.

Aadhar began by being predicated upon the promise of providing documentary identity to those without one. By insisting on previous forms of identity documents for enrolment—in spite of its own stated provisions that allow ‘introducer-based’ systems of verification for those without identity documents from their pasts—Aadhar and its executives have transformed the program from a putative agent of empowerment to another trap of denial and an inducer of desperation. As more agencies of government and facets of the everyday come to be ‘linked’ to this program, the dramas of enrolment, inclusion and exclusionary denial will continue to be enacted. It is thisdrama—now increasingly a festering wound of citizenship which remains hidden from the triumphalist discourse of technocratic governance—that is enacted and reenacted by the pervasive and increasingly-ubiquitous insistence on Aadhar in the public sphere, especially this ongoing insistence on an exclusionary Aadhar that offers no remedy to the undocumented insofar as it forgets or dilutes its own ordinary provisions of introduction and inclusive enrolment.

An insistence on Aadhar in its present avatar of practice, especially in public life and in the everydayness of citizenship, is an example where the grand sovereignty of governmental power is enunciated and showcased through the very arbitrariness of that sovereignty’s enactments in everyday life. This sovereign power is especially visible in the field: it is, after all, the camp that shows us the capriciousness of this sovereignty’s agents—among whom, Aadhar, is increasingly hegemonic within what William James once called the “tissue of experience”. The camp suggests how this capriciousness is activated and realized via those agents’ practices of hidden and obvious power relations: through the seemingly-quotidian violence of their paper and procedures, via summary rejections and arbitrary inclusions, by the increasing ubiquity of Aadhar in everyday life and discrimination in governmental practice (aspects of which elide policy wonks but come to be frustratingly visible to the observer at the site of the camp) against those who fall through the cracks of its demands and procedures. Aadhar’s is a violence which encodes, at the same time, a fickle force of pleasure/peril of enrolment and rejection, buffeted by cutting-edge technology and sophisticated (bewildering?) gadgetry. Submitting oneself to such technology, it may be pointed out in passing, can be terrifying as much as it can be exhilarating. The seductions of inclusion and the trauma of exclusion are merely two facets, nay footnotes, of that wider pleasure/peril dichotomy which underlies our biometric age.

[i] This desperation is a small aside that reflects the obsession that documents come to acquire in the lives of the less-privileged: documents of identity such as Aadhar, which offer the promise of opening the gates of governmental recalcitrance, are legitimacy-traps for those bearing the stigma—in countless ways—of social illegitimacy; the documents’ powers reside in thepossibilities that they offer, in the access that they enable, often eclipsing the anxieties of privacy protection or technical legality that also form the architecture of the program itself. They function as a form of documentary fetish that come to acquire power in everyday life by inhering the possibilities and seductive offers of accessing basic provisions in a fraught world.

[ii] This was after I brought the introducer-based system of verification and enrolment to the attention of the enrolment executive; prior to my intervention, they seemed blissfully unaware of this provision in the Aadhar program.

Narendra Modi – Repeats every female stereotype he condemns #Gender #Womenrights


In the course of a high-profile speech Narendra Modi, putative great leader, ended up repeating every female stereotype he condemned, points out Rajyasree Sen

April 13, 2013, Times Crest

Narendra Modi has been a busy man for the last few weeks. And I’m frankly surprised that he hasn’t lost his voice by now. His first stop on the lecture circuit was the 29th a nnual general meeting of FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) in New Delhi this week.
So who made up the audience? People from the grassroots level who were trying to break out of the constraints placed on them by tradition and society? Who needed to learn that they could play the roles which their social milieu expected them to adopt — that of wives and mothers — and also be economically independent ?
No, these were women togged up in Satya Paul sarees, pearl earrings, perfectly coiffed hair, and were involved (at least some were) in a business of their own or with others. I might be making a blanket statement, but I can pretty much bet on it that a negligible percentage — if that — of these women would be making chapatis for their husbands at home. Not while the subalterns were there to do so.
The problem when you make three speeches in a day is that you forget to tailor your speeches to your audience. That Modi is a great orator, who doesn’t need to fumble through cheat notes is known. It is only expected that he will speak without hesitation, crack a joke or two and not falter. But what of the content? The keynote address was to be on women’s empowerment. What was obvious 15 minutes into Modi’s speech was that only the mother and sister amongst us should be empowered. Bad luck if you’re a childless woman without siblings. This speech wasn’t meant for you.
What is worrying is that a man who claimed that the West views women in India incorrectly, assuming that all Indian women are housewives, seemed to believe the same thing. Analogy after analogy painted women out to be pining for their husband’s affections and attention, spending hours trying to make the perfect chapati and when burning their fingers pretending that the burn was worse than it was when their husbands came home from work. Following this analogy, Modi even asked the FLO audience if they’d done the same thing. They giggled and agreed. There was also a story about how mothers will desert a sari sale to save their child from a burning house. The bizarreness of it all, made you wonder if he knew what he was saying. Did he even realise how brainless he was making women sound?
Modi also went on to say that in the 21st century, women are killed before they’re born. While this is appalling, this really isn’t news. What he didn’t state was that the highest instances of female foeticide in Gujarat have been seen in the state’s urban areas. We did get another analogy about how families with four sons have been abandoned by their sons. And of families where the eldest daughter has refused to get married so she can look after her parents. The either-or, neither-nor choice was a little absurd. The stated premise of stating these analogies was that women must be protected and they are our future.
And while Modi’s love for the girl child might indeed be genuine, ground realities belie what he said. Since he did give examples from Gujarat for any ill he mentioned, you’ll realise that his argument sounds a bit hollow. While he said that women should be included in decision-making, look at how only 2 of 19 ministers in his cabinet are women. Also, under his rule, Gujarat’s sex ratio has dropped even further —from 920 in 2001 to 918 in 2011. Yet it’s not like Modi was averse to mentioning facts. He peppered his speech with examples of the many achievements and measures Gujarat has taken to empower women. All these were passed off as ‘chhota nirnays’ by Modi. And all are indeed commendable measures.
He also seemed to be very pre-occupied with cooking and food. From Jasuben’s pizza to Induben khakrato Lijjat papadto Amul milk — almost all examples of entrepreneurship were related to food. By the end of it, you felt that all that people in Gujarat did was cook and sell food. Also, poking fun at the Congress and its build-up of the Kalavati incident is fine. But FLO members seemed to think it was very funny when he said that Induben had died five years back, because they burst out laughing. Nice.
You felt that at least when the ‘Q & A’ segment
began, the ladies would rise to the occasion. Ask him why if he was all about women’s empowerment, he felt that he could refer to Sunanda Tharoor as a 500-crore girlfriend and whysex ratios in Gujarat had worsened. But no such luck. He instead got asked the vital question: “You are such a strong personality and so disciplined, what is your weakness?” Then there was the bit about how the Congress had left so many potholes in Gujarat, which was repeated the next day in Kolkata, as Modi took a potshot at the Left.
It must be tiring to have to deliver so many speeches in a span of 36 hours. And, of course, there’ll be spillovers. But if you can’t figure out what you need to talk to your audience about, it’s better not to talk. While Modi’s heart might indeed be in the right place when it comes to the ladies, he would have done himself and his audience a favour if he’d realised how irrelevant his speech was to the gathered audience. And how it drove home the fact that according to Modi a woman’s identity is connected directly to home and hearth and to the male members of her family. There’s no place in the Modi scheme of things for all us brotherless spinsters who don’t cook.
The writer is with Newslaundry


#Deathpenalty- resurfacing in #India – 16mercy petitions rejected in 9 months #WTFnews

Pranab Mukherjee Rejected 16 Mercy Petitions in 9 Months

NEW DELHI | APR 12, 2013, outlook
There was a long delay in deciding mercy pleas by the Presidents, which was also highlighted by the Supreme Court today, but the situation changed when Pranab Mukherjee took charge on July 25 last year, disposing of petitions of 16 condemned prisoners within nine months.The petitions for clemency filed by sandalwood smuggler Veerappan‘s elder brother Gnanaprakash and his aides Simon, Meesekar Madaiah and Bilavendran were rejected by Mukherjee on February 13. The four had then obtained a stay on their execution from the apex court on February 18.

Besides the four, the others whose mercy pleas have been rejected by the President since taking charge are — Suresh, Ramji, Gurmeet Singh, Praveen Kumar, Sonia and her husband Sanjeev, Sundar Singh, Jafar Ali, Dharampal and Saibanna Ningappa Natikar.

Except Dharampal and Natikar, the others had moved the apex court on April 6 and obtained a stay on their execution for four weeks.

Mukherjee also commuted the death sentence of two death row inmates, including Atbir, to life imprisonment.

Atbir was convicted for murder of his step-mother, step-sister and step-brother over property.

Dharampal was convicted for murdering five members of the family of a girl he had raped. He had committed the murders while out on parole in the rape case.

Sonia and Sanjeev were awarded death penalty for killing eight members of her family, including her parents and three children of her brother in 2001.

Gurmeet Singh was convicted of killing 13 of his family members in 1986. Jafar Ali had murdered his wife and five daughters. Suresh and Ramji killed five of their relatives.

Natikar was awarded death penalty for killing his wife and daughter, Praveen was convicted for killing four members of a family in February 1994 and Sundar Singh was convicted for murder of five members of his brother’s family in June 1989.

A recent study by Amnesty International reveals that death penalty resurfaced in India, during 2012, after a long lull in execution at the gallows, while several other nations are opting for penal system free of capital punishment.

Full Story:

In its recent report based on extensive study, Amnesty International has revealed that the death penalty has resurfaced in India in 2012.

Amnesty International claimed in London that the resumption of the death penalty was facilitated by public pressures and political motives in India.

[Jan Erik Wetzel, Death Penalty Advisor at Amnesty International]:
“The resumption of the executions in India is most likely based on a variety of reasons. One of which is public pressure and another one would be political considerations by the government in place.”

[Ravi Prakash, Senior Advocate]:
“Death sentence acts as a deterrent and therefore, death sentence has been retained in the Indian Penal Code and by our legal system. But the court has said that it should be given only in a very rare of the rarest circumstances and not keeping in view that way of the retribution, you are conferring the death sentence on anybody.”

In November, India carried out its first execution since 2004 when the country hanged Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of the militant squad that killed 166 people in the 2008 attacks on the financial capital Mumbai.

Kasab’s execution sparked off celebrations across India.

People burst firecrackers and exchanged sweets among themselves to hail this execution as a justice for the victims of Mumbai attacks.

India had also recently approved a tougher new law to punish sex crimes, including death for repeat rape offenders, after the fatal gang rape of a student in December.

That event sparked unprecedented protests over the treatment of women in the country.

[Abhas Kumar, Student of New Delhi]:
Death punishment in India is necessary to warn and evoke fear in the minds of people. Criminal activities are increasing. Criminals here are not afraid to commit crimes because they feel that they will be released from jail in two or three days and above all, the trial against them takes a long time.”

The Amnesty International study said that besides India, executions resumed in other countries of the Asia-Pacific region including Japan and Pakistan, after it seemed that they had done away with the punishment.


#Maharashtra Undertrials get #RTI Relief #goodnews #prisonerights


Maharashtra CIC asks authorities to publish info of under trials who completed 50% of their maximum prison term

Thousands of under trials, who have completed 50% of their maximum prison term, would get a major relief thanks to the activism of Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner

In a significant order, the Maharashtra state chief information commission (SCIC) has directed prison authorities to display details of under trials who have completed over 50% of the maximum prison term they are liable for. Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner (CIC) had filed the appeal before the SCIC under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.


“This will facilitate the prisoners and other activists to get release of such under trials and should go a long way in giving relief to people who were denied their freedom illegally. This order will be applicable in Maharashtra and I hope RTI activists will get such orders issued in all the states,” said Mr Gandhi.


The SCIC passed the order in fulfilment of the Prison department’s obligation under Section 4 (1) (b) of the RTI Act. The Commissioner used his powers under Section 19 (8) of the RTI Act and has ordered that this information will have to be displayed on thewebsite and on the notice boards of the prisons before 12 May 2013.


Following refusal by the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) to provide information about under trials in prisons in Maharashtra without any valid reasons, Mr Gandhi had filed his second appeal before the State Chief Information Commissioner.


In his second appeal, Mr Gandhi had also requested the State CIC, to direct the PIO to provide the information, penalise the PIO as per provisions of the RTI Act and reprimand the FAA for a casual approach in rejecting a citizen’s fundamental right.


A similar query by Mr Gandhi, around six years ago had led to the release of release of some under trials by the Bombay High Court. In his additional plea before the SCIC, Mr Gandhi said, “Whereas six years back the prison authorities had provided the information without any excuses, the PIO this time directed me to approach 43 different prisons. The First Appellate Authority did a faux pas by claiming exemptions under Section 8 (1) (b), (g) (h) and (j) without even attempting to justify how these would apply. I am sorry, but it appears that in the prison department in Maharashtra there is an unfortunate carelessness and regression in adherence and respect for RTI.”


Earlier in February, the union home ministry told states and Union Territories that under Section 436A of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), an under trial prisoner completing half of the maximum period of imprisonment should be released by the court on his personal bond with or without sureties, with the exception of those involved in heinous crimes.


According to statistics provided by National Crime Records Bureau, as of December 2011, there were 2.41 lakh or 64.7% under trial prisoners out of total 3.32 lakh jail inmates across India. The occupancy rate across all prisons in the country was 112.1% or 3.72 lakh inmates against a capacity of 3.32 jail inmates, the data said.


#India- National Green Tribunal says panel will inspect Sterlite’s Tuticorin plant

The members of the committee to inspect Sterlite’s copper smelter will be decided on 18 April
S. Bridget Leena, Livemint.com
First Published: Fri, Apr 12 2013. 09 32 PM IST
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered the closure of the Tuticorin plant, which produces more than 300,000 tonnes of the metal a year, on 29 March after local residents complained about noxious emissions. Photo:
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered the closure of the Tuticorin plant, which produces more than 300,000 tonnes of the metal a year, on 29 March after local residents complained about noxious emissions. Photo:
Chennai: The national green tribunal on Friday said it will constitute a committee to inspect the country’s largest copper smelter, run bySterlite Industries (India) Ltd.
The members of the committee will be decided on 18 April, said judicial member M. Chockalingam and expert member R. Nagendranof the national green tribunal.
The Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board ordered the closure of the plant—which produces more than 300,000 tonnes of the metal a year—on 29 March after local residents complained about noxious emissions.
Sterlite, a unit of London-listed resources conglomerate Vedanta Resources Plc., has said the plant’s emissions are within permissible limits.
On 1 April, Sterlite filed a petition with the national green tribunal challenging the order of the state pollution control board.
The committee will inspect and assess the state of the copper plant. It will give its report on or before 29 April. Only after the findings of committee are presented will the tribunal decide on the re-opening of the plant, Chockalingam said.
The unit should be open for monitoring but it can’t start resume commercial production, the tribunal said.
During the proceedings on Friday, the judicial member asked why the pollution control board waited for more than a week to shut the plant if it found toxic amounts of sulphur dioxide were released between 2am and 11am on 23 March.
The Supreme Court last week fined Sterlite Rs.100 crore for polluting the environment but set aside a 2010 directive of the Madras high court to permanently close the Tuticorin smelter on grounds of environmental concerns.
The apex court said its judgement would not stand in the way of the matter regarding the emissions.
Vaiko, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu-based political party Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, is one of three entities supporting the state pollution watchdog’s order to shut the Sterlite plant.
Sterlite shares ended unchanged at Rs.88.50 on BSE on Friday, while the benchmark Sensex fell 1.62% to 18,242.56 points.


Identity crisis on cards as crunch hits #Aadhaar #UID

Vaivasvat Venkat, TNN | Apr 12, 2013, 04.47 AM IST
LUDHIANA: Getting an Aadhar card made has become a problem for many residents in the city as most of them are not even aware of the centres where these Aadhar cards are being made. Absence of requisite staff and the enrolment kits used for making the cards is a major problem plaguing the project.”I have been hearing so much about the Aadhar card and how it is going to be a must in the coming times. However, the biggest problem for me is that I do not know where I should go to get this card made. It’s not only me facing this predicament as many of my friends too are encountering the same problem,” said TP Singh from GurdevNagar.
Advocate Yogesh Dewan, a resident of Model Town, also complained that he has not been able to get his card made as he does not know where it is made. “If at all the government is serious about making these cards, the work should be done in a proper manner. Area-wise centres should be opened at fixed places so that people know where to get the cards made without any hassle.”
When approached on the issue, District Food and Civil Supplies officer Lavkesh Sharma said, “Though we have many problems, work on the cards is being carried out. Wherever there are problems, we will definitely solve them.”


Hearing on bail plea deferred in Shehla Masood case #RTI

TNN | Apr 13, 2013, 01.26 AM IST

INDORE: Special CBI court on Friday deferred order on bail application of two accused in RTI activist Shehla Masood murder case till April 15. Accused Saqib alias Danger and Tabish had filed application and final hearing on application was completed on Wednesday. Cops had arrested Zahida Parvez, Saba Farooqui, Saqib alias Danger, Irfan and Tabish in connection with the murder of Shehla Masood. All the accused are in jail for past several months as undertrials. Earlier, bail applications of accused were rejected by the court.


Inhuman Radiation Experiments

Seizo Yamada's ground level photo taken from a...




 Counterpunch Weekend Edition April 12-14, 2013


Contaminated Nation




This year marks the 20th anniversary of the declassification of top secret studies, done over a period of 60 years, in which the US conducted 2,000 radiation experiments on as many as 20,000 vulnerable US citizens.[i]

Victims included civilians, prison inmates, federal workers, hospital patients, pregnant women, infants, developmentally disabled children and military personnel — most of them powerless, poor, sick, elderly or terminally ill. Eileen Welsome’s 1999 exposé The Plutonium Files: America’s Secret Medical Experiments in the Cold War details “the unspeakable scientific trials that reduced thousands of men, women, and even children to nameless specimens.”[ii]

The program employed industry and academic scientists who used their hapless patients or wards to see the immediate and short-term effects of radioactive contamination — with everything from plutonium to radioactive arsenic.[iii] The human subjects were mostly poisoned without their knowledge or consent.

An April 17, 1947 memo by Col. O.G. Haywood of the Army Corps of Engineers explained why the studies were classified. “It is desired that no document be released which refers to experiments with humans and might have adverse effect on public opinion or result in legal suits.”[iv]

In one Vanderbilt U. study, 829 pregnant women were unknowingly fed radioactive iron. In another, 188 children were given radioactive iron-laced lemonade. From 1963 to 1971, 67 inmates in Oregon and 64 prisoners in Washington had their testicles targeted with X-rays to see what doses made them sterile.[v]

At the Fernald State School, mentally retarded boys were fed radioactive iron and calcium but consent forms sent to parents didn’t mention radiation. Elsewhere psychiatric patients and infants were injected with radioactive iodine.[vi]

In a rare public condemnation, Clinton Administration Energy Sec. Hazel O’Leary confessed being aghast at the conduct of the scientists. She told Newsweek in 1994: “I said, ‘Who were these people and why did this happen?’ The only thing I could think of was Nazi Germany.”[vii] None of the victims were provided follow-on medical care.

Scientists knew from the beginning of the 20th century that radiation can cause genetic and cell damage, cell death, radiation sickness and even death. A Presidential Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments was established in 1993 to investigate charges of unethical or criminal action by the experimenters. Its findings were published by Oxford U. Press in 1996 asThe Human Radiation Experiments.

The abuse of X-radiation “therapy” was also conducted throughout the ’40s and ’50s. Everything from ringworm to tonsillitis was “treated” with X-radiation because the long-term risks were unknown or considered tolerable.

Children were routinely exposed to alarmingly high doses of radiation from devices like “fluoroscopes” to measure foot size in shoe stores.[viii]

Nasal radium capsules inserted in nostrils, used to attack hearing loss, are now thought to be the cause of cancers, thyroid and dental problems, immune dysfunction and more.[ix]

Experiments Spread Cancer Risks Far and Wide

In large scale experiments as late as 1985, the Energy Department deliberately produced reactor meltdowns which spewed radiation across Idaho and beyond.[x] The Air Force conducted at least eight deliberate meltdowns in the Utah desert, dispersing 14 times the radiation released by the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979.[xi]

The military even dumped radiation from planes and spread it across wide areas around and downwind of Oak Ridge, Tenn., Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Dugway, Utah. This “systematic radiation warfare program,” conducted between 1944 and 1961, was kept secret for 40 years.[xii]

“Radiation bombs” thrown from USAF planes intentionally spread radiation “unknown distances” endangering the young and old alike. One such experiment doused Utah with 60 times more radiation than escaped the Three Mile Island accident, according to Sen. John Glen, D-Ohio who released a report on the program 20 years ago.[xiii]

The Pentagon’s 235 above-ground nuclear bomb tests, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are not officially listed as radiation experiments. Yet between 250,000 and 500,000 U.S. military personnel were contaminated during their compulsory participation in the bomb tests and the post-war occupation of Japan. [xiv]

Documents uncovered by the Advisory Committee show that the military knew there were serious radioactive fallout risks from its Nevada Test Site bomb blasts. The generals decided not to use a safer site in Florida, where fallout would have blown out to sea. “The officials determined it was probably not safe, but went ahead anyway,” said Pat Fitzgerald a scientist on the committee staff.[xv]

Dr. Gioacchino Failla, a Columbia University scientist who worked for the AEC, said at the time, “We should take some risk… we are faced with a war in which atomic weapons will undoubtedly be used, and we have to have some information about these things.”[xvi]

With the National Cancer Institute’s 1997 finding that all 160,000 million US citizens (in the country at the time of the bomb tests) were contaminated with fallout, it’s clear we did face war with atomic weapons — our own.

John LaForge works for the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch in Wisconsin and edits its Quarterly newsletter.


[i] “Secret Radioactive Experiments to Bring Compensation by U.S.,” New York Times, Nov. 20, 1996

[ii] Eileen Welsome, The Plutonium Files,  Delta Books, 1999, dust jacket

[iii] Welsome, The Plutonium Files, p. 9

[iv] “Radiation tests kept deliberately secret,” Washington Post, Dec. 16, 1994; Geoffrey Sea, “The Radiation Story No One Would Touch,” Project Censored, March/April 1994

[v] Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power, “American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens,” US Gov’t Printing Office, Nov. 1986, p. 2; St. Paul Pioneer, via New York Times, Jan. 4, 1994

[vi] “48 more human radiation experiments revealed, Minneapolis StarTribune, June 28, 1994; Milwaukee Journal, June 29, 1994

[vii] Newsweek, Dec. 27, 1994

[viii] Joseph Mangano, Mad Science: The Nuclear Power Experiment, OR Books, 2012, p. 36

[ix] “Nasal radium treatments of ’50s linked to cancer,” Milwaukee Journal, Aug. 31, 1994

[x] “Reactor core is melted in experiment,” Washington Post service, Milwaukee Journal, July 10, 1985

[xi] “Tests spewed radiation, paper reports,” AP, Milwaukee Journal, Oct. 11, 1994

[xii] “Secret U.S. experiments in ’40s and ’50s included dropping radiation from sky,” St. Paul Pioneer, Dec. 16, 1993

[xiii] Katherine Rizzo, Associated Press, “A bombshell: U.S. spread radiation,” Duluth News Tribune, Dec. 16, 1993

[xiv] Catherine Caufield, Multiple Exposures, p. 107; Greg Gordon in “Wellstone: Compensate atomic vets,” Minneapolis Star Tribune, Mach 17, 1995; Associated Press, “Panel Told of Exposure to Test Danger,” Tulsa World, Jan. 24, 1995

[xv] Philip Hilts, “Fallout Risk Near Atom Tests Was Known, Documents Show,” New York Times, March 15, 1995, p. A13; and Pat Ortmeyer, “Let Them Drink Milk,” Institute for Environmental & Energy Research, November 1997, pp. 3 & 11

[xvi] Philip J. Hilts, “Fallout Risk Near Atom Tests Was Known, Documents Show,” New York Times, March 15, 1995


Now, a Property Records card, seriously #WTFnews

Now, a Property Records card
April 12, 2013, The Hindu
The Survey and Settlement Department plans to issue it to each property in urban areas. Details from K. Sukumaran
Perhaps, there is no other sector of the Indian economy other than the real estate ownership document sub-segment which has undergone many avatars. There are, in fact, multiple authorities who claim administrative powers over land, building, roads, etc., but no authority or official takes full and complete responsibility to certify the ownership rights of any property in its entirety. While the Transfer of Property Act, 1982 can be considered a basic legislation dealing with the sector, many other Central and State legislations, like Land Ceiling and Registration Act, 1976, Urban property Act/s, Urban Development Authorities Act/s etc., all over the country have spread their jurisdiction only in parts over property.
Whatever be the legislations governing various areas of the property sector, and ownership thereof, the maintenance of records and documentation till recently has not been receiving an integrated approach. With the increasing number of transactions in property consequent to large scale investments, the need for ‘documenting’ the property records have come to be a critical aspect of legislative measures.
For years together, there has been no attempt by the executive wing to systematise the process of land record keeping.
Possession and enjoyment, tax paid receipts, khata, gift/partition and sale deeds have been considered enough evidence of primary ownership. These, together with the record of encumbrances, support ownership rights. However, no single document is in itself sufficient proof of title and ownership. And, no single authority can bestow the title to any one. A change to this concept came about after digitalisation of property records in Karnataka under the ‘bhumi’ project, which also can generate a khata ‘online’ on remitting the prescribed fee.
The latest attempt in the field is of documentation is the proposal of the Survey and Settlement Department of the Karnataka Government to issue a Property Records Card to each item of property in all urban areas. The P.R. Card will have six pages. There will be a property section which gives details of the property.
The ownership section will give details of ownership, such as name of the owners from time to time, their addresses etc. There will also be a ‘burden’ section, a ‘security’ section, and a cadastral section, viz., map showing the area, dimension, etc. The last section will have an overview map of the location of the property in a locality. The Card will be mandatory for all property-related transactions.
The project will be introduced in the BBMP area. Out of 198 wards, 50 wards will be taken up in the first phase. Like in the case of Aadhar cards, the services of private agencies may be utilised at a cost of, say, Rs. 400 or Rs. 500 per card.
Keywords: Property Records card, real estate ownership document


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