#India – Change.org : Campaign Victory’s exposed #Vaw #Socialmedia


Kamayani Bali Mahabal, April 23 2013 , Kracktivism

l 23, 2013, Kractivism

  “Every day, Change.org members win people-powered campaigns for social change”.

Just to give a background to those, who are reading about change.org for first time. It’s a popular and fast-growing website for petitions. In the last  two years, Change.org has grown from 1 million to more than 25  million users, according to the site . It began as a liberal blogging site and then pivoted  to become a hub for petitions, mostly with a liberal or populist bent.

Staring as dot.org domain name to its declaration that “our business is social good” to its certification as a B Corporation, Change.org positioned itself as a progressive force. It promised to run campaigns for “organizations fighting for the public good and the common values we hold dear—fairness, equality, and justice.” That’s no longer its mission.  Something changed last year, The policy changed, ‘ partners’ became ‘advertisers ‘in the name openness, democracy and empowerment . So which means now  they will accept paid promotions from conservative organizations, Corporations , that no bar. I had written   Open letter to CEO Ben Rattray last year  in which I said I will not participate but monitor  change.org.

So here is an expose of monitoring  campaigns of change.org in India

 In India   we have two petitions being  hosted on change.org, one by victims and one by perpetrators ?

You think I am joking please read below

The Incident behind both the  petitions :-

Late evening on 11 April 2013, a group of students from Nalsar Law  University went to the Rain Club located in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, for what was meant to be a farewell party for the graduating seniors.

When they stepped out of the club around 10.30pm to wait for their cab, one of the women students spotted someone taking their pictures with a mobile  phone. She objected and demanded to see the mobile. The mobile turned out to be a dummy, without a card in it. When she further objected and demanded that the phone with which photos were taken be handed over, other media cameramen who were present began to film the altercation.

The students were outraged at this invasion of their privacy and the callous response of media cameramen who continued the harassment by following them to the car and persisting in filming them even as they were vehemently protesting this invasion.

The next morning several Telugu channels began showing the footage. Some websites also put up the footage. TV9, ABN Andhra Jyoti, Sakshi TV, Studio N, NTV, IdlyTV, News 24 .

The incident represents blatant sexual harassment of women in a public place, criminal intimidation of the women with threat of public defamation through media. The anchors of the channels repeatedly referred to the women as  punch drunk, half naked, and nude, when the women students were dressed in strapless evening wear. One of the female anchors referred to their attire  as “creepily offensive short clothes.” They also claimed that they were dancing in the club although the entire story was played out on the street and not inside the club. The media persons were not present inside the club. To make matters worse, CVR News put together several clips of provocative dancing from various sources, implying that the present incident was somehow connected to those. Significantly, while only a couple of channels were present outside the  club and were involved in the incident, the story was generously shared with many other channels and web sites. All the channels replayed the footage  provided by the offending channels without providing any opportunity for the  victims of this coverage to respond or give their side of the story.

The channels also were assuming the tone of moral police, claiming that the students were “leaving Indian traditions in tatters by their dressing and  behaviour”. The anchors of the channels took on the role of moral police  by commenting on the young girls’ clothing, even as the channels’ staple fare  for advertising revenue on their news bulletins comprises song and dance sequences from films and film events featuring skimpily clad women doing vulgar dances to vulgar lyrics. The reporters and anchors held forth on excessive freedom for women and its “devastating” effects on society.

The channels also falsely claimed that the students’ behaviour was condemned by women’s organizations even though they only showed the statements of two little-known local politicians, thereby misleading public opinion.

So here on change org , we have a petition by supporters of NALSAR students  asking for  Stringent actions against media houses participating in voyeuristic reporting ,  addressed to Justice Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India , Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh , Ms Aruna D K, Minister for Information & Public Relations, Cinematography, AP Film, TV & Theatre Dvlpt Corp, AP  Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority Mr Manish Tiwari, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Union of India

The petition says

The media in our country has engaged in relentless sensationalism, resorting to cheap and lowly tactics to raise TRPs and viewership. This includes airing concocted stories; violating people’s privacy by taking video footage, morphing the images and airing it against completely fabricated and sensationalistic stories; secretly taking videos of people in private parties and clubs and extorting them; and engaging in harassing and abusive conduct. One such incident of unethical, irresponsible, and victimizing behaviour is an incident that occurred on the 121h of April, 2013 to college girls from NALSAR University of Law.The petition has reached 5000 plus signatures

nalsar

And on the other hand, we also have change.org giving platform to the  voyeuristic reporters .with a petition floated by Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP , asking to Condemn the action of a group of students who assaulted media persons   addressed to, Manish Tiwari, I&B Minister, Govt of India , Prof. (Dr) Faizan Mustafa ,, Vice-Chancellor, Nalsar , Mrs D K Aruna, Minister of State in AP , Justice Mr M Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India Justice Katju ,Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority ,Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh ,Hari Prasad, President of Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP Please note the targets of both petitions are same .

The petition says

Andhra Pradesh has the maximum number of television news channels not only in India but also in the entire world. The ratings and the importance of these channels show how reliable and responsible the media is in Andhra Pradesh. They never restore to cheap and lowly tactics. There is self-monitoring desk as well as the important organization NBA that keeps monitor on all the channels content.

This petition also has 5000 plus signatures

andhra

Now I want to ask change.org, which petition’s victory will be their victory ?

Wait a minute,

whoever wins or loses,

 it’s a Win- Win situation for change.org.

As a big fans of freedom of speech, they claim their democractic platform. and well whoever wins. Change will be their submitting the petition claiming their VICTORY !! . But I wonder what will they do when they have to take a STAND ? So which petition will they push ? or will; they push both ? and then see pros and cons in context of the political situation and in a closed door meeting then thrash out two teams to work on these two petitions . Call both parties  and weigh the  probabilities and then take a call, keeping both parties in dark on probabilities ?.

So, guys wake up, all those who petition on change.org .This online platform is a for profit  company ,  who through these petitions is  trying legitimize their image as that of  ACTIVISM .They also get  commercial benefits through donations and sponsorships just by providing platform to all you ,under the garb of various human rights issues . VICTORY is for change.org

Change.org’s mission  statement says ‘ to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see, and we believe the best way to achieve that mission is by combining the values of a non-profit with the flexibility and innovation of a tech startup. ” They call themselves “social enterprise,” using the power of business for social good. “Social Enterprise,” is a term that’s gotten a lot of hold among people who start companies and want to make a difference in the world. But social enterprise as opposed to what? Anti-social enterprise?

Here is where Change.org’s business model comes into play. Change.org sells what are called “sponsored petitions” to its advertisers. Most are nonprofits–right now they include Amnesty International USA, Greenpeace and the Human Rights Campaign — but there’s nothing to prevent companies from sponsoring petitions. Tapping into its audience, Change.org collects names on those petitions and then sells those who opt in to the sponsor, for about $2 per name. Some advertisers get discounts, and other pay more, for example, for people in specific states. Here is a request to Change .org , please, on behalf of companies everywhere Spare us the pieties about how “our business is social good.”

Change.org is a digital media business. Like MTV or Facebook, It creates or aggregates content, the  petitions,  to attract an audience whose attention, in the form of email addresses, it sells to sponsors.

It’s not selling social change. It’s selling you and me.  .

So here is my Appeal to all friends, activists,  celebrating their victories,  and  petitions on change.org,

It’s  time ….

If you’re a member at Change.org take action by unsubscribing from their list. At the very least they can’t profit further off your email.. If you see petitions passed around by friends on Change.org don’t sign them and inform them what’s going on.  It’s important to Explore alternatives

Hopefully the activists in India will very soon have their own activist, accountable, and transparent platform.

Watch out this blog for more 🙂

Prominent US Modi supporter Dr. Akshay Desai in hiding, running from law in $25M defrauding case


Federal agents raid Universal Health Care headquarters Dr. Akshay Desai goes into hiding; investors lose $25 million

By A Correspondent, Indiatribune.com

St. Petersburg, FL: Indian American physicians and entrepreneurs, who invested over $25 million in Dr. Akshay Desai’s Universal Health Care Group, Inc., are seething in anger after the company filed for bankruptcy. The Surat-born 55-year-old Dr. Desai, a high profile entrepreneur in Florida, who was a luminary of the Republic Party for his fundraising abilities and was closed to presidential contender Mitt Romeny, has gone underground according to report.

Dr. Desai, in an interview six months ago, had claimed: “My company is now doing business in 20 states and this year we are expecting revenue of $1.5 billion.”

The state documents portray Universal, as a company in deep financial distress and badly mismanaged. Universal Health Care executives overstated assets and submitted “misleading financial statements” to the state and a major creditor, according to state documents released on March 28 by the Office of Insurance Regulation.

After Federal Bureau of Investigation agents on March 28 raided the headquarters of Universal Health Care Group Inc, in St Petersburg, Florida, which has gone belly up and filed for bankruptcy throwing over a 1,000 employees out of work, the Department of Justice has called on the bankruptcy court to appoint a trustee for this major Medicare provider.

Guy G Gebhardt, a DOJ official and a US Trustee in Florida, in court documents filed on April 3, in the wake of the search-and-seizure warrant executed by the FBI as part of an investigation that federal laws may have been violated and criminal indictments are likely, reiterated that it was imperative that a trustee take over the reins of Universal.

He said he strongly believed there are grounds to suspect that the hierarchy of the company has committed fraud through false statements amounting to criminal conduct in its financial reporting.

The Miami investment group led by Miguel “Mike” Fernandez earlier had expressed interest in buying Universal, but backed away two days later without comment after seeing the presentation.

Universal listed its Medicare Advantage membership as 90,000, Medicaid enrollees as 64,000. About 43 percent of the HMO members in Florida are patients, who require extra care — and bring in higher premiums from Medicare — because they have diabetes, lung disease or dementia.

A chart shows the company has brought in more than $1 billion in premiums a year, most of it from Medicare. Yet, according to another chart, the company lost $61 million in 2011 and $3 million last year.

Among some of the major investors in Universal were doctors Zach Zachariah, another longtime major Republican Party fundraiser, who had ploughed in over $6 million, and Raj Gupta, who had invested over $4 million.

“He is going to pay for his mistakes because something is not right,’’ Dr. Gupta, a Fort Lauderdale physician, said. “He told me he can do whatever he wants and does not have to listen to me or any other investor.’’

Several other Indian American physicians, including Dr. Raghavendra Vijayanagar, founder and former chairman of the Indian American Republican Council, and several entrepreneurs, and even some academics had invested anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million each, and among them there was an overriding sense of deep disappointment and despondency, with one of them saying, “All the investors have been right-royally screwed.”

“Who the hell knows what he did with all the money,” one said. “Hundreds of millions of dollars and God only knows where the money went,” this investor said, adding, mockingly, “He was living larger then life, flying in private jets and talking big to Romney and all those people, and of course, nobody wants to talk to him now, and all the politicians have washed their hands of him.”

According to its Web site, Universal provided federal- funded entitlement insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid to nearly 200,000 customers in 19 states and had 40,000 Medicare and 60,000 Medicaid members in Florida alone, who were now in a quandary regarding the future of their health insurance.

The Tampa Bay Times reported that when the FBI agents raided the Universal headquarters on March 28, employees were ordered out and told to immediately get away from their computers.

The FBI raid was carried out during the same week that the bankruptcy court trustee had alleged “a pattern of dishonesty or gross mismanagement,” including “side deals” that benefited insiders, and had cited examples where more than $18.3 million had been transferred to a Universal subsidiary also founded by Dr. Desai and $2.2 million in “bonuses and other compensation” to company officers Desai, Patel and Ludy in addition to their salaries, also in 2012.

The trustee said that even as Universal was knee-deep in financial trouble, Desai had continued to draw a $900,000 salary and another $2.5 million or more in bonuses and other compensation in 2012.

After the FBI raid, Desai, who was easily accessible, couldn’t be reached and Zachariah, Gupta and others who had invested in Universal, said they could not reach him either and believed he had gone underground or may have left the country.

Starting in 2006, Universal’s Any, Any Any plan — members purportedly could see any doctor anywhere at any time — drew thousands of members but also complaints of false advertising, poor customer service and denied medical treatments. The company temporarily suspended enrollment, and in 2008 signed an agreement with state regulators to beef up reserves to handle the swelling volume of claims.

Over the next few years Universal continued to grow, eventually expanding to 23 states and serving 140,000 members. In 2010, it spent $9 million for a new headquarters on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg and another $750,000 for renovations.

It paid more than $500,000 for a 28th floor condo in nearby Signature Place, known for its sleek architecture and sweeping views of the waterfront. Employees joked that Universal needed the condo as temporary housing for the many executives who cycled through — the company had five chief financial officers in six years.

For the past three years, Medicare officials hammered Universal for poor quality, urging potential members to use caution before selecting it.

The first public notice that Universal was in serious financial trouble came in November when it agreed to stop selling Medicare policies in Georgia. That state’s insurance commissioner cited Universal’s net loss of $22.1 million in the first six months of the year as reason for the halt.

On Feb. 4, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation deemed Universal nearly insolvent and accused executives of a broad pattern of financial mismanagement — including fraud and diversion of funds — under Desai’s leadership.

Two days later, Universal Health Care Group filed for bankruptcy, listing $50 million to $100 million in assets and $10 million to $50 million in liabilities. Among those to whom the company said it owes an “undetermined’’ amount: Desai and his wife, Seema.

The Tampa Bay Times also said that Desai could not be reached and that “no one answered the door at his $2.6 million bay front Snell Isle mansion. A burgundy SUV and a dark silver Audi R8 sports car sat in the driveway, but the gates to the property were closed.

 

After Delhi gang-rape, India struggles to put words into action #Vaw


 

DELHI: A hundred days after India mourned the death of a gang-rape victim and vowed to fight sex crimes, the torn clothes and tears of Bharti Kagra bear testimony to a tide of violence that refuses to ebb.

 


AFP 

Tuesday 23 April 2013, 09:20AM


An Indian woman files a complaint in New Delhi. Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyanyana

An Indian woman files a complaint in New Delhi. Photo: AFP/Manan Vatsyanyana

Kagra is one of the 812 women whom police say have been molested in New Delhi since the death of the medical student, who was brutally assaulted by six attackers in a moving bus on December 16 last year.

The student died in a Singapore hospital on December 29. The savagery of the attack triggered nationwide protests, prompting lawmakers to toughen punishments for sexual offences and pledge to make India safer for women.

Optimists called it a “turning point”, while Delhi’s under-fire top police officer said his force had been “jolted” and would institute “major changes in the way offences against women are dealt with”.

Kagra’s experiences give reason to doubt whether the outpouring of anger from women across the country, many of whom took to the streets in some cities, will result in better protection.

Carrying the clothes she says were ripped by her husband and brother-in-law during an assault on her, she struggles to register a case at a south Delhi police station where no female officers are present – even though they are mandatory under the new anti-rape law.

“First, the men humiliated me and now when I come out to seek justice the cops insult me… some even suggested that I should make peace with my husband,” she told AFP inside the police station in the Moti Bagh district of the capital.

In response to her shouts and cries, two policemen reluctantly register her complaint. Kagra allowed AFP to use her name, to publicise the problems women still face in registering such complaints.

Women currently make up only 6.5 per cent of India’s police force and major recruitment changes will be needed to enforce the new sex crime law, which requires a female officer to record molestation and rape complaints.

This ruling risks going the way of so much legislation in India – well-meaning but mostly ignored in practice. Rights groups say real change will only come when widely held patriarchal and sexist attitudes change.

“I don’t see enough initiative to change the mindset of the law enforcement agencies, especially the police,” said Ranjana Kumari, director at the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi.

However, one consequence of the Delhi gang-rape is that women are more confident in reporting sex crimes, she says.

Delhi police reported a 148-per cent leap in rape cases lodged between January 1 and March 24 compared with the same period in 2012, and a 600-per cent rise in molestation cases reported up until April 3.

It’s not just Indian women who have been targeted. A Swiss tourist was gang-raped last month while camping in central India, an offence that led to another flurry of negative headlines.

Many Western countries have warned female tourists to exercise caution in India, a move that has hit the tourism industry which earned over US$16 billion from foreign travellers in 2011.

 

The Phuket News

– See more at: http://www.thephuketnews.com/after-gang-rape-india-struggles-to-put-words-into-action-38863.php#sthash.owwNW7rw.dpuf

 

#India – Report on Lower Suktel Project and People’s Protest


April 21, 2013

By Amitabh Patra

suktel1

Lower Suktel:
Suktel is a tributary river of Mahanadi in Odisha, flowing in the districts of Bolangir & Sonepur. The state Govt. has been trying to build a dam named “Lower Suktel Irrigation Project (LSIP)” at G.S. Dunguripali. CWC (Central Water Commission) allotted a sum of Rs. 217.13 Crores at 1994 estimate for the same later revised to Rs. 1042 Crores in 2009. State Govt is said to have spent Rs. 300 Crores for land acquisition, of which more than 60 crores has been mis-appropriated as pointed out in the CAG Report and is under recovery process. The project is said to irrigate about 31000 hectares of land, whereas the FRL will submerge more than 4000 hectares of already existing multi-crop agricultural land, forest, best kendu (tendu) leaf production area, vegetable and paddy production area and self-reliant 30 villages of the drought prone dist.

The supporters of the project – mostly the demand coming from the Bolangir town. It is being told by the affected villages of submergence area that many of the powerful people of the town and outsiders to the region, rich man with money and muscle have purchased huge patches of land and have converted that to make profit from the compensation money. A few powerful and influential political leaders of the region have purchased hundreds of acres of land as “Benaami” (anonymous) downstream keeping in view of the future mineral processing of Iron Ore, Thermal Power Plant, Bauxite, Lead and many other valuable minerals, including gem stones.

The question arises here: an irrigation project, why is it being opposed?

Resisting villagers have given the alternate proposals – that instead of the said 30 meters tall dam, small height multiple barrages be done at multiple stages across the river. That will not submerge the fertile agricultural land, productive forest, won’t uproot people and villages, are less expensive and low maintenance in the long run. That will be more effective for irrigation, keeping drought in control of a much larger region than the big dam, and maintain the bio-diversity. Large dams not only cause big displacement, but they also create water deserts. The biggest example is Hirakud Dam in the state, where the loss incurred to the people and environment is enormous. The huge reservoir is a big water desert of the region.

Possible Falsification of Facts by the Construction Company & Govt.:
In a fact finding journey to five villages, it was found that, the figures presented by the officials are misleading and full with lies. Some of the villages which the survey report states as partial submergence, checking on ground at those villages with GPS device, it was found to be under 8 meters of water during FRL, at the highest point at middle of the village. Also as with experience we have seen in Hirakud that the villages where there was never before submergence, flood of 2011 August, they were washed off, on the upper region of Hirakud Dam due to Back-water. So partial submergence is a myth during the monsoon.

Compensation issue:
People in some villages have been paid up compensation for their land, house, trees etc. The maximum amount that has been paid for per acre of agricultural land is Rs. 55,000/- + Rs. 10,000. With this price, it is almost impossible to purchase equivalent land at elsewhere. The burning example is displaced people of Tikhali Dam near Nuapada/ Khariar. Only a handful of the displaced about 10% have been able to settle at a new place. Remaining 90% people have lost their culture, society, rights to common land, cattle grazing land, forest and other common resources of human civilization. The displaced people are looked upon in an inferior manner at the new place where they go. Some pro-displacement people argue that they should move to nearby towns and live happily; but while saying so, they forget that it is impossible to live up without a neighboring society. As said by the uprooted at gunpoint people of the Tikhali (Lower Indra) dam project – “where ever we go, people kick us out. They say that we are detached flying leaves.” In a recent bizarre incident, the villagers did not even let the dead body of a displaced person being burnt at their mortuary. The dead body had to be brought back to a distance of 13 kilometers for the last rites. Many villagers still have not received any compensation whereas the dam construction is over by 70%. Those who were displaced are preferring to even come back, and rebuild their houses at the old place. Since past 5 years over a hundred school going children have been deprived of their basic right to education

Displacement by large scale water logging causes extinction – of culture, people, species, societies, forests, insects, birds, animals, reptiles, civilizations and brings in destruction, oppression, desertification, diseases, and deaths. Smaller is better, bigger is worse.

suktel2

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Government of Odisha Status Report on Lower Suktel Irrigation Project[PDF]

#India – Counting the costs of direct cash transfers


Madan Sabnavis  April 22, 2013  BS
The government urgently needs to consider 5 ‘Ss’ before it launches itself into this commitment
As a rule, the government likes creating new structures without fully understanding their implications and then disbanding them once criticism inundates the newspaper columns. A lot of time and money is invested in creating these structures and, often, these costs could be higher than the cost they are trying to lower to begin with. The direct cash transfer (DCT) scheme runs a similar risk, since our enthusiasm levels are currently high, and we could go off the track unless certain preconditions are addressed.
It is generally felt that DCTs are a more efficient system than, say, physical subsidies. This does hold when conditions are ideal and back-end structures are in place. Otherwise, there could be contradictions that will make the DCT scheme unsuccessful.
DCTs come into play for two kinds of transfers. The first is where a new structure is created for transferring cash-for-cash transactions. This holds for, say, salaries, pensions and scholarships and so on. The existing scheme has various departments sending cheques to the recipients, who, in turn, deposit them in their own accounts. The second pertains to cash-for-kind transfers. Here, instead of providing the good to the household, a cash transfer of an equivalent amount takes place and can be used to buy the product.
The concept of DCT is based on the much-publicised Aadhaar project where a unique identity (UID) has been provided to people. Since every UID has an account linked to the person, such a transaction would be automatic provided the disbursing authority is linked with the banking systems. Given the volumes involved, this would be a logistical challenge. The advantage for cash-for-cash transactions is efficiency and reduction of leakages provided the identification process is robust. Prima facie, there is nothing amiss here.
When it comes to cash-for-kind transactions, the situation is different because we have to give up the existing structures since substitution takes place. There are essentially five “Ss” that have to be tackled before bringing about any change in the transfer system.
The first is “structures”. We have an elaborate procurement system for food grain that is motivated by, one, procurement for distribution and, two, creation of a buffer. The procurement policy is an open-ended one where farmers can sell a fair average quality to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) at a predetermined price. The idea here is to protect the farmer’s income. Have we thought of what will happen to this policy or FCI (an institution set up for this purpose) when we provide cash transfers, and FCI will then have to address only the issue of buffer stocks?
Second, “systems” have been created for distribution – the public distribution system (PDS). If we have a “conditional cash transfer” in which money given has to be used to buy grain from fair price shops, then the status quo would be preserved – along with the current inefficiencies. However, if it is not a conditional transfer system, then new issues emerge. There are around 500,000 fair price shops across the country that on an average employ one million workers. By introducing cash transfers and disbanding PDS, there will be an issue of unemployment, since it will be hard for these people to reinvent their stores that are mostly located in rural areas. Today, when there is opposition to foreign direct investment in retail, we are talking of the local kirana shops. There will be a lot of noise when we think of displacing these one million workers. Do we have a solution here?
Third, “selection” is an important consideration for a successful DCT scheme. The problem with PDS, besides the ubiquitous leakages, is adverse selection. A lot of people who are not poor take in these entitlements. This becomes acute as we move to kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas. The new scheme on UID is no different from the existing policy of self-declaration; since no proof of income is asked for it runs the risk of adverse selection. In fact, there are a large number of people holding on to the coloured ration cards and not drawing rations. In the new dispensation of the scheme, this could mean free money for them. Do we have a way of screening households or else will we be back to also helping those who do not require assistance?
Fourth, the government is talking aggressively of food “security” with an ambitious target of covering two-thirds of the population. Clearly, there is a major contradiction here. If we are to provide cash transfers, then how do we reach the food grain to the needy, which requires PDS?
Fifth, there has been debate on the food “subsidy” burden. The subsidy is the difference between the economic cost and the issue price for wheat and rice. The economic cost varies between Rs 17 and Rs 24 a kg, and the issue price is around Rs 5 to Rs 8 a kg. This is when the food grain is sold at a fixed price. Now, once the people are paid cash, they have to buy food grain on their own from the market. Based on government data, the price of wheat and rice varies from Rs 15 to Rs 35 a kg in different parts of the country. Two practical problems arise here. The cash to be paid in lieu of subsidy will be substantially higher than the present subsidy amount. Second, with inflation being variable, fixing the prices and, hence, subsidy level across states will be difficult, and one can see a lot of politics coming in the way of arguing for higher levels of allocations.
To make the DCT scheme effective, we need to fix these five “Ss” first or else we would be running conflicting parallel systems. We also need to evaluate the exact benefits of the cash-for-cash transfers before embarking on the more onerous cash-for-kind transfers. Besides, the cash-for-cash transfers alter the mode of payments without addressing the issue of selection. It is, therefore, advisable that we move one step at a time and not get carried away.
The author is Chief Economist, CARE ratings. These views are personal

 

 

Parliamentary Panel asks govt for fresh law to give legality to UIDAI #Aadhaar #UID


200 px

 

By PTI | 22 Apr, 2013,

 

 

 

NEW DELHI: Concerned over the functioning of UIDAI in its current form, a Parliamentary Panel today asked the government to come out with a fresh legislation to provide legality to the Authority.

 

 

“The Committee strongly feel that in the absence of legislation, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is discharging its functions without any legal basis,” the Standing Committee on Finance headed by BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said while presenting a report in Parliament.

 

 

The Committee in its earlier reports had urged the government to reconsider and review the UID scheme to bring a fresh legislation before Parliament.

 

 

The Committee said it is also concerned that during the last three financial years (up to January, 2013), a huge sum of Rs 2,342 crore has been spent on the scheme and Rs 2,620 crore has been allocated in BE 2013-14, out of which Rs 1,040 crore is earmarked for ‘Enrolement Authentication and Updation’ pending legislative sanction of the scheme.

 

 

The Committee has asked about cost per card incurred by the government to generate Aadhaar cards by UIDAI.

 

 

That apart, the report said, despite an average growth rate of 7.9 per cent in the 11th Five Year Plan, there was no substantial increase in employment opportunities.

 

 

“The Committee are of the view that skill development is a highly serious area of concern and need to be given priority … The mismatch in terms of demand and supply of skilled workforce is widening rapidly.”

 

 

It said the government needs to more than double its existing skill training capacity of 45 lakh to achieve the ambitious target of skilling 5 crore people in the 12th Plan (2012-17) including 90 lakh in 2013-14. “The Committee also recommend that like Right to Education there should be compulsory skill development programme,” it said.

 

 

The Committee was, however, satisfied that 173 of centrally sponsored schemes (CSSs) at the end of 11th Plan will be restructured into 70 schemes. It will help streamline, restructure and rationalise such schemes to enhance their productiveness, it added.

 

Also, the Committee supported the 12th Plan’s goal for faster, more inclusive and sustainable growth. It said that to achieve the goal of sustainable growth, various schemes in field of health, education, water and protection of environment should be reviewed. It added that more funds should be allocated for treatment of cancer.

 

 

Among others, the Committee observed that the targets in the field of electricity generation, coal production and gas production could not be met during the 11th Plan. “The Committee also desire that an Action Plan may be formulated for giving thrust to renewable energy as an alternative source of power,” it said.

 

 

It also observed several deficiencies in implementation of Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana ( RGGVY) aimed at providing electricity to all rural households. It said that in certain states, even the minimum required hours of supply of six to eight hours of electricity could not be met.

 

 

“The Committee, therefore, recommend for the comprehensive review of the Scheme and rectification of deficiencies to ensure…improvement in supply of electricity.

 

 

 

 

Maharashtra loses data of 3 lakh #UID cards #Aadhaar #WTFnews


, TNN | Apr 23, 2013, 04.02 AM IST

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has admitted the loss of personal data of about 3 lakh applicants for Aadhaar card, an error that has forced the inconvenience of reapplication on unwitting victims and sparked concerns over possible misuse of the data.

Containing PAN and biometric information, the data was being uploaded by the state information technology department from Mumbai to the central Bangalore server of the Unique Identification Number Authority of India when it got “lost”. “The information is encrypted when uploaded. While the transmission was in progress, the hard disk with the data crashed. When the data was downloaded in Bangalore, it could not be decrypted,” said an official from the state IT department, which is overseeing the enrolment of citizens for Unique Identification number (UID) or Aadhaar card. The data mostly belonged to applicants from Mumbai.

Rajesh Agarwal, secretary in the state IT department, maintained the lost data was highly encrypted and thus cannot be opened without “keys and multi-clues”.

Still, fears of misuse persisted. An application for Aadhaar card requires PAN details, proof of data of birth and residence, iris images, biometric data, and, if preferred, bank account numbers.

The loss came on top of thefts of laptops with UID data from Mumbai. Though complaints were registered with the police, officials contended the crimes were not necessarily for the data. The information on laptops therefore, they said, might not have been misused.

The consequence of this multi-faceted data mismanagement is being borne by people like T V Shah. A senior citizen living in Vile Parle, he applied for Aadhaar cards for his wife and himself but has not received them yet. “For a while, they said they will send the cards soon. I even wrote to the planning commission (nodal agency), but there was no reply. It seems they have lost our personal data, including our biometric details. Now they are telling us to re-register,” said Shah.

No explanations were offered to Shah as to what happened to his data.

Terrified that his personal data like PAN and SIM details may be misused, Shah is wondering if he should file a police complaint. “I remember reading news reports about a case of forgery in which one person’s PAN card was misused by somebody else to obtain a SIM card. The police made the PAN holder dance from Bangalore to Delhi,” he said.

As strong as his concern over data misuse is Shah’s dread of re-registration. The last time, he was told on day one to bring the ration card for the enrolment form. On day two he was informed that forms were issued only from 9am to 10am. On day three he was told forms were exhausted. Days later, he was told to come before 11.30am for an appointment. The next day, he was told to come another day since the person who gave appointments was out of office.

Registration for Aadhaar cards is currently underway in Mumbai city and suburbs, Pune, Nandurbar, Amravati and Wardha.

Officials said 30 agencies are working in Maharashtra on the enrolment for Aadhaar cards. So far, 6 crore citizens have been registered and 5.25 crore UID numbers generated. In Mumbai, of its 1.24 crore residents, 90 lakh have been enrolled and 85 lakh Aadhaar cards generated.

“The data that was lost constitutes over 1% of the total data collected. We have filed police complaints,” said an IT official, stressing that the department was responsible only for enrolment.

Confusion reigns over card, implementation timing

The gradually increasing currency of Aadhaar is simultaneously exposing the confusion over the system and its deficiencies. While the card is being demanded compulsorily for several services, it is also being refused by some for ostensible errors.

Rajan Alimchandani, a senior citizen, got his Aadhaar card without any hassle. The hassle began after its receipt. The Worli resident said: “My Aadhaar card bears my year of birth, but not the date of birth. When I produced it for a substitute debit card, the bank told me the Aadhaar card was invalid.”

Rajesh Agarwal, secretary in the state IT department, clarified that Alimchandani’s card was not invalid. “All cards issued so far bear just the year of birth. Many senior citizens are unable to provide the date of birth. Hence, only the year. Even my card bears just the year,” said Agarwal.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is mulling placing the date of birth too on the card. Those who have been issued cards, however, may not get new ones, said sources.

T V Shah, a former hydraulic engineer with the BMC, suffered a different problem. He and his wife applied for Aadhaar cards in 2011, but were never informed of their status. In January, when he went to the BMC for continuing his pension he was told that a photocopy of his Aadhaar card was needed for the allowance to be dispensed. “The BMC finally agreed to accept the enrolment receipt. But now, I have received a letter from the UIDAI to reregister ,” Shah said.

Yasmin works as a domestic help in Bandra (W) and has two daughters who study in the local civic school. Yasmin had to hire an agent to get Aadhaar cards for the daughters since the school said that “from the next academic year we have to buy textbooks, uniforms ourselves. The money will be put directly into the children’s bank accounts” . “If I had not got the cards for my children, they wouldn’t have been able to study.”

Who’s affected 

The lost UID data was of applications being processed; it mainly belonged to people from Mumbai. Those who have received their Aadhaar cards will be unaffected

Dangers 

PAN details and proof of residence have been frequently misused to procure SIM cards Iris images & biometric data are identifi cation forms. They can be used to create fake identities

Action 

Affected people should notify the police and ask them to make diary entry of the loss

Inconvenience 

Victims will have to reapply — identify Aadhaar centre, and get an appointment, which can take many visits

Times View

Extreme irresponsibility 

Losing data so important – and which could be misused if it falls in the wrong hands – is an act of extreme irresponsibility; the offence is compounded when the loss happens because of the callousness of a government agency, trusted by citizens who think the data are in safe hands. Several questions arise here. What happens if the data do fall into wrong hands and citizens lose plastic money or money from their accounts? Who tracks the route of loss of data and who compensates the citizen? Government agencies must learn to act more responsibly when they have been entrusted with such valuable information.

 

 

Land acquisition for Posco starts again #WTFnews


Ten betel vine plantations were dismantled in the first few hours without any resistance from locals, official sources said, adding that payments would be made soon
File PhotoFile Photo

Paradip (Odisha), Apr 22 (PTI): After remaining suspended for about two and a half months, land acquisition today resumed for Posco Steel’s Rs 52,000 crore mega project in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district.

Ten betel vine plantations were dismantled in the first few hours without any resistance from locals, official sources said, adding that payments would be made soon.

Meanwhile, anti-Posco members belonging to Dhinkia, Patna and Gobindpur villages took out a procession to Phulkhai temple in Dhinkia where they held a meeting leading to simmering tension.

Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samittee leader Abhay Sahoo, who is spearheading the agitation against the mega project, was away at Bolangir taking part in a protest against setting up of the Lower Suktel project there.

“We have re-started land acquisition involving dismantling of betel vines this morning. The villagers are cooperating in the work undertaken by the administration,” Jagatsinghpur Collector S K Mallick said.

Two teams were dismantling betel vine plantations of consenting farmers in Gobindpur village, Additional District Magistrate (Paradip), Surjeet Das said.

The work, with the use of machines, was being carried out smoothly in groups separately led by tehsildars of Kujanga and Ersama, Das said.

Another team was making a survey of trees and horticultural plants in the area, he added.

Earlier about 250 acre land had been acquired before work was suspended on February 11 ahead of the Budget Session of the Assembly.

The land acquisition had witnessed a nude protest by women at Dhinkia, while a bomb blast led to the death of three persons.

 

Delhi Cops after trying sexual assault say- ‘ This is just a trailor’ #VAW #WTFnews


An SOS message on my phone received from friend Jhuma Sen  from Delhi late last night says

“Delhi Cops just tried to sexually assault me and beat me , while I was waiting  with a friend  outside 24 7  to get some  food and beverage . When  I told them  that they have no right to touch me  ( there was no woman officer ), they said this is just trailor more will follow”

 

Call for endorsement- Citizens Statement Demanding Independent Enquiry into Koodankulam Safety


Please find below the citizens statement on Koodankulam drafted by Mr.Praful Bidwai and Mrs. Lalita Ramdas.

In thelight of recent news arrest of the Russian supplier ZiO-Podolsk chieffor a scam related to sub-standard equipments, the statement callsfor an independent enquiry into the plant’s safety issues, somethingthat the people’s agitation has been demanding from day one. Theformer chairman of India‘s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has alsodemanded a moratorium on the reactor pending an independent enquiry.

Thestatement also appeals for transparency on vital safety issues inKoodankulam.

Pleasealso forward the statement to your friends for endorsement and urgethem to send back the signatures to 

 

pksundaram@gmail.com

 

With bestregards,
AchinVanaik

P KSundaram

Coalitionfor Nuclear Disarmament and Peace

www.cndpindia.org

 

Citizens Statement Demanding Independent Enquiry into Koodankulam Safety

 

Recent developments in Koodankulam, which highlight grave technology-related problems with the first nuclear reactor, take the shocking failures of the operator, Nuclear Power Corporation, to a new low.

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board was forced to admit to the existence of sub-standard and unsafe equipment in the reactor only after a major scandal concerning a Russian sub-supplier firm was brought to light by the ongoing people’s movement against the project. However, the admission came only after the nuclear establishment’s denial tactic manifestly failed. Former AERB Chairman Dr. A. Gopalakrishnan has unequivocally and publicly opposed the commissioning of the plant and trashed the AERB’s admission and assurances.

We urge that an independent enquiry must be conducted into the safety aspects of the Koodankulam reactors, including the supply of sub-standard equipment, vulnerability of the reactor pressure vessel,and the fraudulent post-dated environmental clearance given to the desalination unit. Till then, a moratorium on the reactor’s start-up must be imposed in Koodankulam.

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