Ever wondered why Novartis and Roche do not compete ? #Pharma


Glivec (Gleevec) film tablet made by Novartis.


Expectations of structural change and divestments will be reignited by the Symonds announcement, note analysts at Deutsche BankOne particular conundrum for investors is the 33 percent shareholding that Novartis holds in its compatriot Roche. Jimenez has ascribed an intangible value to the shareholding, which allows the company to have some say in any acquisitions Roche would choose to make that required the issuance of new shares. Investors may feel that the money could be spent more effectively elsewhere, particularly as Novartis’ financial stake in Roche is something of a Vasella heirloom and reminder that the former CEO often talked up the possibility of a Swiss mega merger.

 High-profile personnel changes at Novartis drive analyst speculation as CEO delivers consistent message 


(Ref: ViewPoints Desk)

In quick succession to the announced departure of chairman and former CEO Daniel Vasella in January, Novartis announced on Wednesday that Jon Symonds would leave the company at the end of 2013 after four years as CFO.

Despite CEO Joseph Jimenez using the company’s Q1 analyst call to drive home the message that Novartis remains committed to its current growth strategy, the departure of Symonds was a key focus for analysts in notes that were subsequently circulated to investors, and has fuelled speculation that further changes could be afoot.

Insight, Analysis & Opinion

Speaking about his pending departure at the end of the year, Symonds suggested that it was a positive time for a new CFO to take over. That man is the current CFO of Novartis’ pharmaceuticals division Harry Kirsch, who will preside over an emerging post-2013 growth narrative, added Symonds.

There remains some scepticism, however, and Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson suggested that the reason for Symonds departure is not completely clear. Furthermore, added Anderson, close proximity to the departure of Vasella raises the question ‘what next?’

Operationally, analyst reaction to Kirsch’s appointment was mixed. Echoing comments made by both Jimenez and Symonds on the Q1 conference call, analysts at Credit Suisse pointed to a strong record in driving productivity gains within the pharmaceuticals division (during a period characterised by EU austerity measures and generic competition) as a strong precedent for his impending role.

But it is the surprise nature of Symonds departure that analysts have found more difficult to interpret – one conclusion being that Jimenez is keen to appoint his own team and move the company away from the dominant shadow of Vasella (seeViewPoints: Was he worth it? Vasella commits loyalties to his Novartis legacy) Symonds was viewed by many analysts as a driver of improved capital allocation, with some suggesting that his operating role would be enhanced by the departure of the chairman.

Expectations of structural change and divestments will be reignited by the Symonds announcement, note analysts at Deutsche Bank. One particular conundrum for investors is the 33 percent shareholding that Novartis holds in its compatriot Roche. Jimenez has ascribed an intangible value to the shareholding, which allows the company to have some say in any acquisitions Roche would choose to make that required the issuance of new shares. Investors may feel that the money could be spent more effectively elsewhere, particularly as Novartis’ financial stake in Roche is something of a Vasella heirloom and reminder that the former CEO often talked up the possibility of a Swiss mega merger.

See also:



Memorandum to India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners



The Hon’ble Members,

IndiaPakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners

Respected Members,

Greetings from Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy, India Chapter!

We are writing to you expressing our concerns on the issues concerning Indian and Pakistani prisoners. At the outset, we want to communicate our appreciation for the initiatives of the Judicial Committee and the prisoners visits organised. We are also thankful to the Judicial Committee for the recommendations you have made to the governments in the past.

We appreciate that the committee has been doing excellent work within its limitations since its inception in January 2007. The joint recommendations of the committee have been appreciated by both the governments and we hope they will address these recommendations with sincerity and willingness. We are happy to share that PIPFPD along with the National Fishworkers’ Forum (India) and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum has been consistently demanding the governments to implement the recommendations made by the Judicial Committee.

We would like to place our demands (on prisoners in general) for the consideration of the JC:

  • Prisoners involved in minor offences like crossing the border inadvertently & visa violations need to be treated with compassion and the committee should recommend their release.
  • In case of a death of a prisoner his/her body should be handed over to his/her family in 3-4 days time. There are cases where dead bodies were handed over after 25-30 days. Also, a copy of Post Mortem Report should be given to the respective High Commission, so that rumours and speculations that can hamper te spirit of peace are put to rest.

We would also like to bring to your notice the issue of arrest of fisher people belonging to India and Pakistan.

The recent upsurge in the arrest of fishermen and confiscation of their boats since January 2013 has created panic in the coastal areas of Gujarat and Diu. Fishermen are afraid of going to sea to catch fish and this has had adverse effects on the economy and livelihood of the poor workers.

According to our information there are around 300 Indian fishermen in Pakistan’s Malir prison and about 100 Pakistani fishermen in various prisons of India. Also, about 765 Indian boats and over 200 Pakistani boats are rusting in Karachi and Gujarat harbours. These boats are owned by fishermen and are their only source of livelihood.

We appreciate the recommendations given by the Judicial Committee as on January 27, 2012 after visiting Indian prisons and meeting Pakistani prisoners, wherein the recommendations for mechanisms for release of inadvertent crossers and their boats where release at sea was given priority.

We request you to continue to address the issue of arrested fishers from a humanitarian perspective. We request the Judicial Committee to consider and recommend the following:

  • All Indian and Pakistani fishermen should be released and repatriated immediately and unconditionally along with their boats.
  • We demand for a “No Arrest Policy” for fishworkers, which would be a significant Confidence Building Measure.
  • We request that a computerized identity card along with a permit to do fishing be provided to each fisherman in order to speed up the verification process. Presently, due to lack of identity fishermen are languishing behind the bars for many years despite the fact that the maximum sentence awarded to them is six months imprisonment.
  • Both the countries must release all fishing boats, confiscated at the time of arrest of fishermen. In the past whenever, the fishermen were released, their boats were also released along with them, but that process has been suspended and now a large number of boats are kept confiscated despite the fishermen being released. We demand that the old system should be revived.
  • Constitute a high-level working group involving the representatives from the fisherfolk community to monitor and prevent the arrest of fishermen and confiscation of the boats.
  • In the long run, an Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Pakistan is a requirement that needs to be addressed at the earliest since we are already faced with a situation of depletion of marine resources. A technical solution like a joint fishing zone is an option that would be beneficial to the fishing communities on both sides.

We are hopeful that you will consider the demands from PIPFPD, endorsed by the fisherpeople’s organisations of India and Pakistan and take necessary steps to prevent the misery of the fishing communities. We also hope the Judicial Committee will engage with all sincerity in getting the other innocent prisoners released, without bureaucratic delays.

Yours sincerely,

Ved Bhasin                                          E. Deenadayalan                                 Jatin Desai

Co-Chairperson                                    Secretary                                      Joint Secretary



Hindu-Muslim And The Facebook War: Online Communalism #socialmedia

  • Posted on: April 29, 2013, Youth Ki Awaaz

By Nihal Parashar:

I wrote a dissertation titled ‘Building of a Communal State in a Virtual World: Hindu-Muslim relation seen through the lens of YouTube and Facebook. I was trying to interrogate the role of Social Media platforms in the ongoing ‘war’ between the fascists of the two religions. While working on the dissertation I stumbled upon various Facebook pages and YouTube videos which propagated violence. The question which comes to mind is shall we try to ban these pages? But the bigger question is how socially relevant these pages are? If there is a hate page on a certain social media platform, it simply signifies that there is hate in the society as well. The spill over of societal issues could be seen on these platforms. The Facebook pages, with numerous ‘likes’, justify that they are only tip of the iceberg. The problem lies somewhere else. This reminds me of a couplet by renowned Urdu poet Josh Malihabadi which says, ‘Zeb ye deta nahin sarkaar ko, paaliye bimaariyon ko maariye bimaar ko’ (This does not suits government when it kills the people affected with a disease but does nothing to eradicate the disease).

social media


Today I came across another such page. The title of the page is ‘Karz apna chukana hai, Babri Masjid wahin banana hai’, loosely translates in English as ‘We need to pay back by building Babri Mosque at the same place’. It was time to revisit my thesis and add few more notes.

The era in which we live is extremely complex in nature. The extraordinary problems are of varied forms which certainly requires extraordinary answers. We did not inherit a peaceful society from the previous generation. The previous generation was also not fortunate enough to inherit a perfect society from their predecessors. It is less likely that we are going to present a better society to the future generations. But this does not mean that we all must stop looking for better answers to questions of the present era.

The Communal aspect of the Social Media platforms is a result of the dissatisfaction in the society. There are few similarities in the pages which claim to represent different religions. The administrator of most of the pages lack sense of humour (they make you laugh at times although for a different reason altogether) and poses a great sense of anger. The posts are written to stimulate a feeling of hatred for the ‘other’community. They use each and every possible mythological symbol for the purpose. The admin and followers do not hesitate to turn most of the current social and political developments into an occasion to revisit the history and look for reasons to criticize the behaviour of the‘others’. They take solace in the religious past to condemn the act of others.

Apart from these, the most common similarity for such pages in India is Narendra Modi. You will find posts related to him on all the Hindutva pages as well as Islamic fascists pages, with obvious love and hate on the respective pages.



The social media gives a sense of pseudo-anonymity to the person on the front end. You are hero for the moment. And fighting is an extremely honourable job, as per our social and religious norms. Are we living in 10000 B.C? What is the importance of civilization if it is not able to generate the basic understanding that fighting is not going to solve any problem. A good hearted soul said that non- violence is older than the mountains and oceans. Seems our civilization has taken wrong route and a peaceful world seems a distant dream.

Rise of communalism on different social media platforms is going to shape many young individuals, still in early teenage, that may come across certain posts which may plant the seed of prejudice in their fertile minds. The human mind is amazing, especially in the early years. It distinguishes right and wrong in a very young age and for the entire life it only justifies the decision of the tender age. It needs to be extremely elastic to revaluate its decision in a later year. If an individual has a certain point of view on a certain issue it is totally related to his personal journey. Social media may act as a tool for the same. But in no circumstance it can be the culprit.

What must be done to take care of the rise of communalism on the social media platforms? Shall we agree with an Indian minister’s idea of asking Facebook and Google to screen the content on the websites? This does not have a very simple answer as well. Like all extraordinary questions it deserves an extraordinary answer.

‘We need an inclusive society’– Is this an accepted statement? We need to answer this. If it is an accepted statement then we certainly need to look for a community of peace-builders who believe in the humanitarian values. There will be the fascist forces to ridicule this idea. But an inclusive society will also accommodate them. No, I am not talking about utopia. I am talking about my society, which rests its hope on you, O reader.

#India – Former Army Sepoy to get disability pension after 50 years

Thanks to an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench

Fifty-years after he was discharged from the Army, a former sepoy is set to get disability pension, thanks to an order of the Armed Forces Tribunal, Regional Bench.


Chennai, April 25,2013

Hailing from Virudhunagar, M. Sundaram was enrolled as sepoy in the Madras Regiment in 1958. He was invalidated from service after being diagnosed with psychosis. As he was exposed to a hostile work environment, he was discharged after five years and four months of service at the age of 25.

He contended that he was not suffering from any ailment and had no history of any constitutional disease at the time of joining the Army. He said the subsequent medical examinations conducted were found that he was fit in all mandatory requirements till he was invalidated.

Even though, he was entitled to disability pension, it was rejected by the authorities.

A Review Medical Board was constituted in 2011 and he subjected himself to examination to assess the disability after a long spell of 47 years. The Medical Board had opined that the disability of psychosis was due to non-service conditions.

The Board said since there was no disability attributable to service, he was not entitled to any disability pension.

The counsel for forces said that as per the Guide for Medical Officers (Military Pension) 2008, psychosis was considered a genetic biological disorder and it was not connected with military service.

The opinion of the Review Medical Board was final. The disability of the applicant was constitutional in nature.

Disposing the application, the AFT Bench, comprising its judicial member Justice V.Periya Karuppiah and its administrative member Lt. Gen (Retd) Anand Mohan Verma, found that there was vast contradiction in the opinion of the president of Medical Board in the proceedings and the opinion of the psychiatrist.

Concluding that the Board had erred in its decision, the Bench noted that the psychiatrist had noted that the disability persisted owing to past illness, as he was invalidated from service for it.

However, the board’s president had given an opinion that his 40 per cent disability would have arisen due to non-service factors.

Stating that opinion of psychiatrist should prevail, the AFT set aside the orders of the Army rejecting the former sepoy’s plea and held that Mr. Sundaram was entitled to disability pension from 2007.


Press Release- Release All Activists of the PFI Charged Under UAPA and Sedition Immediately and Unconditionally




Protest Against the Criminalisation of Muslim Youth!

Scrap UAPA and All Draconian Laws!



On the 23 April 2013, around 11 in the morning, twenty one activists aged 20-25 of the Popular Front of India (PFI) were arrested from a building that was under construction at Naraath, Kannur district, Kerala. The arrest as reported in the press was done under the leadership of DySP P. Sukumaran of the Kerala police. After the 21 activists were taken away from the site of the arrest, the police claimed to have seized two country bombs, one sword and materials that can be used for making country bombs along with literature of Popular Front of India and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI). All these were displayed before the media at the site.

After the much publicised display of seizure materials before the media the police was quick to slap Sec 18 of the draconian UAPA as well as 153-B of the Sedition Act on the 21 activists. These draconian clauses were beside the sections slapped under the arms/explosives act and on unlawful assembly. The police also declared that they are looking into the ‘terror links’ of these activists. And that they will raid every office of the PFI throughout the State. Some sections of the media even went ahead to say that the possible links of these activists with the recent blast that took place near the BJP office in Bangalore is also being looked into by the police. And as this is being written the Karnataka police have already stated the possible role of SDPI in the Bangalore blast.

The first and foremost question that comes up is the haste with which the police evoked draconian laws such as UAPA and Sedition act on the activists of PFI for possessing a couple of bombs and some literature which was already in the public domain as it was distributed among the people in the campaign against the growing threat of Hindu communal fascism. This is typical of the modus operandi of all investigating agencies that enthusiastically implicate Muslim youth in every blast case or conspiracy or waging war against the state that one has witnessed in the states of UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh etc. It is significant that the arrests and sudden evoking of the UAPA is happening in Kannur district of Kerala known for violent partisan clashes between rival political parties (be it CPM, BJP/RSS, Congress) trying desperately to gain supremacy over their adversaries. As long as it is a fight between CPM and the RSS/BJP/Bajrang Dal/VHP combine as opposing parties, the rules of the game are simple. One can hear constant appeals from the ‘civil society’ for ‘peace’ and ‘harmony’ and the need to move away from the politics of an eye for an eye. It generally becomes a discourse on violence in abstract without any critical reference to the context (socio-politico-economic) in which this is being addressed. The need to shun violence completely from politics is foregrounded against the vote bank politics indulged in by the Congress, CPM, BJP or the UDF and LDF. Beyond that there is not even any inkling of a ‘terror plot’ let alone the question of ‘waging war’ against the state. But it goes without saying that there has been no dearth of reports of capture of bombs and weapons from the office of the CPM save incidents of RSS/BJP activists dying while moving with / making bombs in the same district.

Once there has been assertion from the side of the Muslims in terms of open and militant campaigns against the growing trends of Hindu communal fascism in the State in particular and the Indian subcontinent in general, the discourse of the ‘politics of peace’ has taken a different turn. Sooner than later one is witness to the state sponsored discourse on Kerala becoming a hub of ‘Islamic terror’ and highly publicised/sensationalised arrests of youth alleged to have been involved in ‘terror plots’. Beyond that, if any such ‘plots’ ever got proved before the court of law was not of much interest for ‘literate Keralam’. The PFI neatly fits into the logic of this narrative of the imminent ‘Islamic threat’ as any such mobilisation of the minorities away from or other than the established permutation and combination of the electoral donkey in UDF and LDF will disturb the electoral applecart of the Congress, CPM or even the BJP which is yet to make its electoral presence in Kerala.

It is still vivid in our memories that when the IT Cell, of the Kerala Special Branch Police’s illegal swoop into the mails of more than 250-odd Keralites in the state (most of them Muslims) was exposed before the public, instead of taking action on the officers responsible for such incriminating acts from the investigating agencies, the police threatened their own officer who stood against such acts of impunity and arrested the lawyer who was giving legal advice to the conscientious officer. The media house that carried the story was threatened and the leading journalist who published the story was not spared.

The timing of such sensationalised arrests and the spawning of speculation of a larger plot with the entry of the Karnataka police and reports in the media of the ‘involvement’ of the SDPI in the Bangalore bomb blast before the BJP office all indicate the same old game plan of an increasingly criminalised and communalised police and investigating agencies of India. As we have time and again mentioned the UAPA sanctions the perception of the reality as authentic not the reality itself. So for a motivated (on communal lines) police officer to quickly assume that the youth arrested from the building in Naraath can’t be but a ‘terrorist’ or can only think and act in an ‘unlawful’ manner or are capable of ‘waging war against the state’ fits perfectly with the ideology of the perception as reality and hence the arrests and knee jerk reaction of slapping UAPA and charges of sedition on the twenty one of them. A considerable section of the media which hatches such spurious stories only mystifies the perceptive reality and does not make any responsible effort to disentangle the often muddled versions of the investigating agencies and the police covering up their acts of impunity under the garb of the so-called ‘war against terror’.

It is high time that the UAPA and all such anti-people, draconian laws which criminalise all forms of dissent/political expression of the vast sections of the people be scrapped forthwith. We at the CRPP strongly condemn such motivated arrests of activists of people’s movements and stand for their right to freedom of expression and dissent. Since the motivation to slap charges of UAPA and Sedition on the PFI activists is political it becomes important to demand the unconditional release of all the activists as to expect a ‘fair’ trial for them would be live in a mystified world. The CRPP calls upon all the freedom loving and democratic people of the subcontinent to join hands to defeat these criminal, communal and fascist designs of the Indian state and its counterpart in the UDF-led Kerala government.

In Solidarity,

SAR Geelani



Amit Bhattacharyya

Secretary General


MN Ravunni

Vice President


P Koya

Vice President


Rona Wilson

Secretary, Public Relations


Study: Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide Linked to Cancer, Autism, Parkinson’s

Photo: We now have hosts for ALL U.S. events! There are only 2 events that we still need to find a host for. If you can step up in any of these cities, send us a message! - Tel Aviv, Israel - Madrid, Spain Full event list: http://bit.ly/ZTDsk8 Information: http://bit.ly/12AjXh1

Study: Monsanto‘s Roundup Herbicide Linked to Cancer, Autism, Parkinson’s
Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” say authors

– Andrea Germanos, staff writer, commondreams
The active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide may be “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment,” being responsible for a litany of health disorders and diseases including Parkinson’s, cancer and autism, according to a new study.

“Negative impact on the body” from glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, “is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” according to a new study. (Photo: astridmn/flickr)
It’s “the most popular herbicide on the planet,” widely used on crops like corn and soy genetically engineered to be “Roundup Ready,” and sprayed on weeds in lawns across the US. But in the peer-reviewed study published last Thursday in the journal Entropy, authors Anthony Samsel, an independent scientist and consultant, and Stephanie Seneff, a senior research scientist at MIT, crush the industry’s claims that the herbicide glyphosate is non-toxic and as safe as aspirin.

Looking at the impacts of glyphosate on gut bacteria, Samsel and Seneff found that the herbicide “enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins,” and is a “textbook example” of “the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.”

The researchers point to a potential long list of disorders that glyphosate, in combination with other environmental toxins, could contribute to, including inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, depression, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, multiple sclerosis, cancer, cachexia, infertility, and developmental malformations.

The herbicide’s “Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” they write.

The authors conclude:

Given the known toxic effects of glyphosate reviewed here and the plausibility that they are negatively impacting health worldwide, it is imperative for more independent research to take place to validate the ideas presented here, and to take immediate action, if they are verified, to drastically curtail the use of glyphosate in agriculture. Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.
The new findings may add further momentum to concerns from food safety and food sovereignty advocates who have challenged Monsanto’s grip on corporate agriculture and its genetically engineered crops.

In a “March Against Monsanto” in cities in the US and beyond, activists plan to gather on May 25 to highlight environmental and health concerns from genetically engineered crops and call out the corporatism that allows “Organic and small farmers [to] suffer losses while Monsanto continues to forge its monopoly over the world’s food supply, including exclusive patenting rights over seeds and genetic makeup.

To see more about the march, go to the action’s Facebook page here.https://www.facebook.com/MarchAgainstMonstanto

The full article in Entropy is viewable here .http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416



#India – What Are We Doing To Our Kids ? #sexualabuse

Shocking statistics. Devastating stories. Our dirty national secret. Nishita Jha & Revati Laul bring you a horrifying report on the rampant sexual abuse of children in India
Nishita JhaRevati Laul


4-05-2013, Issue 18 Volume 10

Illustration: Anand Naorem

Illustrations: Anand Naorem

To begin with, hear the story of one child. On 17 December 2012 — just one day after the gangrape of a young paramedic in New Delhi shook the world — a three-and-a-half-year old baby girl returned from school with her clothes streaked with vomit and blood.

Her father, Gagan Sharma (name changed), had moved from Kolkata to a slum in west Delhi in 2003 in search of a better life. The little girl had been listless and reluctant to go to school for weeks. Now, when her mother asked her what had happened, she told the story haltingly, riven by fear.

She spoke of a bald man — the principal’s husband — who had threatened to hang her from a ceiling fan if she dared to open her mouth. She spoke of how he had taken her to the bathroom, made her lie down, and inserted his penis and fingers into her vagina and her anus, blaring music in his room to drown any noise. She spoke of how he had done this to her many times before, forcing her to keep quiet by saying terrible things would happen to her parents if she talked about it.

The girl’s mouth was full of ulcers from a drug the alleged perpetrator — a man called Pramod Malik — had forced her to take to render her unconscious while he raped her.

The fact of the rape is horrific enough. Here’s what came after. According to the parents, it took them 12 hours at the police station to get an FIR registered. They were taunted by a woman sub-inspector for living in a colony of “disrepute”; their own reputation was questioned; the little girl was asked to recount her story in front of three policemen. The woman sub-inspector prefaced the inquiry by telling the little girl: “Tell the truth or insects will crawl all over you and your mother and father will be beaten.”

Despite these threats, the little girl repeated her story exactly as she had told it to her parents. In the magistrate’s court, she was challenged again. She told her story again. The medical examiner, however, ruled out rape and left the report vague. The headmaster was let out on bail on 28 February. On the other hand, Gagan Sharma’s landlord asked him and his family to leave. They are still struggling with the case.

Now, hear the story of a second. Asha, an 18- year-old in Gowandi, a slum in Mumbai, is a volunteer with a community-based NGO called Aastha Parivar that helps slum-dwellers and sex workers — the poor and the marginalised — lodge complaints with the police. One day, her 14-year-old friend Neelima (name changed) complained about being harassed by a boy next door. Emboldened by her training at the NGO, Asha took her friend to the police to complain. They rebuffed the girls rudely. The boy stepped up his harassment, standing at his doorway and masturbating when Neelima passed. Asha went to the police again. This time the cop gave her a scrap of paper with a number: “Jab rape hoga, tab bulana,” he smirked, (“Call us when there’s an actual rape.”)

A month later, Neelima’s naked body was found cut in pieces and dumped in a drain. Her neighbour — the boy she had been complaining about — had disappeared without a trace. Incensed, Asha went to the police again with a description of the neighbour. This time she was ordered to leave the slum and create no more trouble.

Here’s the story of a third. In Ahmednagar, a city in Maharashtra, a 13-year-old girl was forced to inhale chloroform by her own father so he could knock her out and rape her.

And a fourth. In 2010, in Paravoor in Kerala, another father filmed his own 14-year-old daughter taking a bath before he raped her. He then pimped her out to customers across the state, before selling her. Over the next two years, she was raped by 148 men.

And a fifth. In April this year, the 16- year-old daughter of a rich mining baron based in Gurgaon confessed to her teachers and principal that her father frequently took her on “bonding trips” all by herself, raping her in anonymous hotel rooms across the country. Her father also used to beat her mother. A case was filed just as he was going to take her off to Dubai. By the time child welfare groups reached the girl’s home, however, relatives had had their way: the shutters had come down. Though the father had been taken into custody, in the presence of her family, the adolescent refused to speak. Mother and daughter have now withdrawn their story before the magistrate’s court.

And a sixth. A 50-year-old mother from Punjab speaks of how her husband sexually abused their daughter when she was four. He would lock her in a room and tell her that if she made a noise, her stuffed toy lion would eat her up. When she noticed the bite marks on her child, the mother began to ask questions and reported her husband to the police. The case took three years to reach the court. Since there had been no penile penetration, the case was registered under the arcane clause of “outraging the modesty of a woman”; the father was let out on bail within one day. The mother, herself a survivor of childhood sex abuse, filed for divorce. The father agreed not to meet his daughter till she was 13. However, when she turned 15, he petitioned the courts for visitation rights. His daughter testified in court that she wanted to have nothing to do with her father. She is 19 now and still has nightmares.

Child A – AGE 14 | Paravoor, Kerala

Occurred 2010 | Convicted in 2012
The nightmare began in 2010, when her father filmed this 14-year-old having a bath, and then raped her. After that, he pimped her out to customers across Kerala, before finally selling her. In the span of two years, she was raped by 148 people, of whom 102 were finally arrested and 19 given life sentences.
Child B – AGE 13 | Ahmednagar, Maharashtra

Occurred 2011 | Accused under trial
Her father would first sedate this 13-year-old with chloroform, then rape her. This Class VIII student was tortured, burnt and threatened with dire consequences if she dared tell anyone. She finally gathered the courage to talk to her uncle, who in turn contacted an NGO. The father was charged and arrested.

Hear these stories and then imagine them amplified thousands of times — in every brutal variation — in every part of the country. Imagine 48,838 children raped in just 10 years. Imagine what it means when you are told this staggering figure — which is a National Crimes Record Bureau statistic — is possibly only 25 percent of the actual child rapes going on in the country. And that only 3 percent — a mere 3 percent — of these make it to the police. Imagine what it means when you are told child rapes have seen a chilling 336 percent jump from 2001 to 2011.

Imagine this, and you begin to have a small measure of how deep the inhuman phenomenon of child rapes runs in India.

THIS WEEK, the barbaric story of a five-year-old girl in east Delhi, raped and bitten by two drunk neighbours — who inserted candles and a plastic hair-oil bottle into her before trying to strangle her — has brought the phenomenon of raped minors into hard and timely focus.

Since this horrific story hit the headlines, others that were merely footnotes in the country’s consciousness have started getting foregrounded in the media. How a nine-year-old from Silchar, Assam, was kidnapped, gangraped and found with a slit throat on the same April day as the five-year-old in Delhi. How a 10-year-old Dalit girl was raped by a 35-year-old Rajput in Bulandshahr, Uttar Pradesh. How a compounder in Bhopal would rape his three-year-old daughter while his wife went to drop their five-year-old son to school. And how a 75-year-old man in Tripura was arrested for raping a 10-year-old.

While this intense but delayed media attention is positive, it is still selective — privileging only the most violent, the most sensational, and the rapes most ‘similar’ to the case in New Delhi. But to do only that would again be to miss the landscape. Violent rape of minors is only one aspect of a hellish self that India must now confront.

A 2007 Human Rights Watch report, which quoted a government survey of 12,500 children from 13 states across the country, found that 57 percent children — that is more than one in every two children — said they had been sexually abused in some way. Twenty percent of these children admitted to being aggressively assaulted: they had either been penetrated; made to sexually fondle an adult; or been forced to display their own genitals. And clearly, gender is no bias where child sexual abuse is concerned: of the 57 percent children who said they had been abused, more than half were boys.

One of the most crucial aspects of child sexual abuse and rape that must be acknowledged, therefore, is that it is rampant, indiscriminate and cuts across class, geography, culture and religion. It happens in cities and villages, by fathers, brothers, relatives, neighbours, teachers and strangers.

There is a temptation to cast only predatory working-class men in the mould of rapists. Both the paramedic’s rape and that of the child in east Delhi this week fit that narrative. It is easier — even comforting — to think such heinous crimes are only done by deviant, drunk men, incapable of processing their depraved sexual urges; men who can be hung and exterminated. It is much harder to confront the dark reality within the walls of one’s own homes.

As Enakshi Ganguly, co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, says, “Minors who live in slums are certainly vulnerable because, in most cases, both parents work and have nowhere secure to leave their children. But middle- and upper-middle- class children are also vulnerable because they live in such closed communities, they have no one to talk to about their abuse. They are under immense family pressure to preserve ideas of ‘family honour’ and not speak up.”

The scars the 50-year old mother from Punjab carries is emblematic of the wounding and unmapped silence that grips India. “I was sexually abused from the age of 10 until I was 19 by a member of the family who was like a father to me,”
she says. “This stayed unaddressed because there was no way one could talk about it. Being abused by a man who you look up to, seek protection from and who claimed to love me, completely changed a part of my soul. I suffered from a deep sense of self-loathing and blame. I could no longer connect with people or my inner self. I have always had trouble trusting people or asserting myself. Soon I found myself attracting the same kind of abusive relationships. There is also a deep sense of shame I feel towards my body. It has been 31 years since I was abused, but I’m still ashamed of wearing fitted clothes or deep necklines. And even today when I see a man with a child, I feel nauseated.”

Sociologist Shiv Visvanathan encapsulates the heart of the problem. “I think the Indian family is in deep crisis,” he says. “The violence in our families — the perversions, the sexuality, the silences — are creating a tremendous crisis that we are not looking at; that we don’t even want to look at. We focus on the ‘scandalous’ nature of these incidents. But it is a scandal that is taking place every day. Unless we look at its everyday nature, nobody is going to understand the heinousness of it.”

VIEWED FROM a different prism, the story of child rape in India is also a story of deeply ingrained callousness. When the parents of the five-year-old raped in east Delhi had found her missing and gone to the police, they refused to file an FIR and did not even undertake a cursory search. In the end, it was her shrill, insistent wailing that helped neighbours locate her, locked in a room in the very building in which her parents lived.

Look at the shocking data, based merely on reported cases, and you can almost hear the clamour of children still waiting to be found. The story of raped minors in India then is also the story of its missing children. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a child goes missing in India every eight minutes. (Recall the gruesome Nithari murders when panicked parents from an east Delhi slum kept reporting their lost children but no action was taken till their bodies started turning up in raped and cannibalised parts.)

Where do these children go? TEHELKA cover story, The Nowhere Children by Neha Dixit, 1 November 2008, discovered that human trafficking was the third largest illicit industry after arms and drugs.

In a room cramped with young girls, the air thick with perfume and whispers, Reshma, 18, a sex worker in Mumbai, is no stranger to the epidemic of incest and rape in India. “Why do you think fathers or brothers are any different?” she asks with a hard-earned worldliness, “Hai toh voh bhi mard hi na? (After all, they too are men, aren’t they?)”

Trafficked from Chennai at the age of six when her mother died, Reshma was raped in every way imaginable — or “trained” to use her words — at seven different homes in Mumbai before being sent to a brothel madam when she turned 14. “The first time, I was asked to set his clothes out on the bed before he went to work. He came out of the bathroom, picked me up and forced me face down on the bed. He lay down on me. I started to cry and said, “Uncle I can’t breathe, why are you doing this?” The man told her if she shouted, he would tell everyone she had tried to steal from him.

Reshma soon learnt the easiest way to stay out of brutal harm was to remain silent. Soon after, she was sent with a pimp and groups of young girls to London, Dubai and Malaysia to sleep with men as old as 60 or 75, for a premium rate. She doesn’t flinch when she says civilian women in the country are safe only because there are sex workers in the world — warriors of a different kind — to ensure there is a vent for baser male desires. Each girl in the room has stories more barbaric than the other: chilli powder applied to genitals; hands and legs tied while one customer after another uses their bodies in any way he sees fit; daily beatings; in-house abortions. “Wives and daughters cannot withstand what we do,” says Reshma.

 Child C – AGE 14 | Kannur, Kerala

Occurred 2010-11 | Convicted in 2011
It was only when she could take it no more that this 14-year-old girl confided to her schoolteacher that her father, a daily wage labourer, had been raping her for the past year. After the intervention of a local NGO, the girl was shifted to a shelter home and her father sentenced to life imprisonment.
Child D – AGE 13 | Delhi

Occurred 2012 | Accused out on bail
This three-year-old came home from school with vaginal bleeding and vomitsoaked clothes. Her principal’s husband had been raping her, and had threatened to hang her from the fan if she told anyone. The medical examiner ruled out rape and registered a vague report, and only when local NGOs and political parties got involved did the case come to court.

Aastha Parivar, the Mumbai-based NGO, routinely finds young girls in brothels, who claim to be adults but are no older than 14 or 15. Asha — who had tried to help Neelima — recently rescued one such girl. She travelled to her village in Rajasthan, found her birth certificate, got a letter from the gram panchayat and finally came back to Mumbai to threaten her pimp to release the girl. But when she took the girl home to Jodhpur, the family, who had been perfectly happy to pick up money orders from the post office for the past six months, was suddenly too ashamed to take her back.

In most cases, once these young girls are trafficked, the pimps make a fresh set of false papers for them, which is how they are able to travel abroad with no trouble. Clearly, there is an entire system working in collusion: among the 148 men that slept with the young girl in Kerala, who had been trafficked by her father, there was an NRI doctor, an actor, a retired naval officer and various businessmen.

It is no surprise then that these children — the ones who are not the subject of Facebook pages and popular protests — should have learned to think like adults, to weigh morals against money and choose the latter. “The younger you are, the more you can charge,” Reshma says matter-of-factly, pointing to Bilquis, a dimpled 14-year-old who had her first abortion last month.

IN WHICHEVER diabolic form it comes — rapist fathers or rapist strangers, rape within the home or in brothels, whether it is with prepuberty children or adolescent girls — there is a systemic failure that needs urgent redressal.

Inevitably, the police is the first interface. And inevitably, like most stories in India, the story of police response to rape is a complex one.

At one level, there is plain brutishness and malevolent prejudice. A TEHELKA sting last year, The rapes will go on by G Vishnu and Abhishek Bhalla, 20 December 2012, captured the venomous chauvinism with which many police officers and constables view women and rape. Shockingly, this sometimes extends to children as well. Some of the cases mentioned in this story already illustrate that. But, depressingly, there are thousands more.

Sudha Tiwari, a child rights activist, recalls a case from the 1990s, when a 13-year-old was raped by her father. The parents had had a fight and the mother had gone to her parents’ place leaving her daughter behind. At night, the father climbed onto his daughter, stripped her naked and raped her. Hearing her screams, the neighbours came in and dragged the father to the police. They refused to register a case. The next day, Tiwari and other activists got involved and took the father to the police station again, forcing them to file a case. They did file the case but not before taunting the mother. “You are frigid,” they told her, “that’s why your poor man has no choice but to go to his daughter to satisfy himself.”

According to Tiwari, they see less of that level of criminal boorishness in the police now (though activists elsewhere in the country have different experiences). But, contrary to the clamour in the media and public domain, there are seemingly no shortcuts.

The presence of women cops, for instance — one of the great demands of all street protests — is no automatic safeguard. Bharti Ali, of HAQ, has some sobering insights. “We often have serious issues with women police officers,” she says. “They want to hush things up and refuse to register cases because they are facing so much brutality in their own personal lives, they have no empathy for others.” She speaks of how women cops are scared to go home wearing uniforms because they have no power within their own homes. “You can’t be walking in uniform into a place where an hour later the neighbours can hear screams of you getting beaten up.”

But frustration, prejudice and entrenched social bigotry do not account for the whole police story either. In the curious twists that India can be replete with, it appears the police are wrongly incentivised.

During Mayawati’s reign, the Uttar Pradesh Police were infamously loath to register any cases against Dalit atrocities because she had wanted the crime rate to be brought down: the only way to create such miracle change was to keep the books clean and pretend there was no crime.

In Delhi this week, the cops allegedly tried to bribe the parents of the five-year-old to bury the case. It’s unclear whether they were merely being venal and exploitative or were scared of having such a brutal crime happen on their watch.

Either way, Ganguly, also of HAQ, points out how ill-thought-out the incentives are. “The police are rewarded for being crime free. No one gives them credit for reporting cases in a timely and competent way; for lodging sound FIRs and investigating a case well. So where is their motivation to investigate and prosecute these cases? They would rather just stay out of trouble and wash their hands off it. Pretend their areas of jurisdiction have no crime.”

Child E – AGE 14 | Maliwada, Maharashtra

Occurred 2006 |  Convicted in 2010

An autorickshaw driver approached Childline when his 14-year-old daughter went missing. It took three years to rescue the girl, during which she had been sold into prostitution and taken to various places in the state and Goa. After a four-year battle, 20 high-profile individuals, including politicians and traders, were sentenced to two life-terms each.
Child F – AGE 14 | Mumbai

Occurred 2009 | Accused at large

She complained to the police twice that a 14- year-old girl in her slum was being sexually harassed by a neighbour. The police laughed it off, asking her to call when an actual rape took place. A month later, the girl’s naked body was found cut to pieces and dumped in a gutter. The boy had disappeared overnight.

Bharti Ali points out other imponderables. “Police sensitisation has been happening,” she says, “but though a lot of the rules are now in writing, all of it is contingent on how receptive a particular DCP is. For instance, we were having a monthly meeting with all stakeholders — the Child Welfare Committees, the Juvenile Justice Boards, social workers, the magistrate and the police — in the Outer Delhi district. But it’s all stopped now because the new DCP doesn’t think it is useful.”

childDelhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar may have been right when he said he would “resign a 1,000 times if that would prevent rapes”. The prevention of rape may not always be in his hands. But the response to it certainly is. He — and his peers in the system — have to square up to that.

IT IS crucial to drive home at each juncture of this story that more than anything else, it is families and parents who are failing India’s children the most. Apart from being the main perpetrators themselves, the violence of silence is all-pervasive. It is imperative to break this silence.

Harish Iyer, 32, an equal rights activist, believes he was “set free” when his best friend told his entire college that he was being abused. Iyer, the son of a well-to-do businessman and a homemaker, was raped regularly between the ages of seven to 18 by an uncle close to the family. “The first time he raped me, he forced my mouth on to his penis. If I tried to scream, he would choke me harder,” says Iyer. Soon after, when Iyer’s aunt was away, his uncle crawled into bed with him and sodomised him. “Every time I tried to scream or protest, he would hurt me more. I learnt the easiest way to make it end was to just stay quiet. After a point, whenever he entered my room, I would just take my clothes off, lie down and wait for it to be over.”

Iyer’s mother, who told her friends that her increasingly reticent son was “just different” from other kids, could never fully comprehend what her son meant when he told her he disliked his uncle. On the sole occasion Iyer, terrified and filled with shame, told her he was bleeding, she told him he was “probably eating too many mangoes”.

Over the 11 years that he abused him, Iyer’s uncle devised newer and increasingly more sadistic methods for his pleasure. He opened up his nephew with tongs when he was not receptive, poked him with needles to make him bleed, inserted various objects into his anus. On occasion, he even forced him to perform sexual favours on other men.

Ravi Kant, a Supreme Court lawyer and director of the anti-trafficking NGO, Shakti Vahini, says the maximum incidences of fathers raping daughters that he has witnessed happen in upper-class, elite families. But he hasn’t been able to take even a single case through to its just end. “There is so much pressure within the family, the fathers brothers, their wives, everyone suddenly appears on the scene once ‘family honour’ is at stake,” he says.

But even as one persists with these reiterations, it is important to map the other key vulnerabilities in the system. Juvenile justice homes are one such black hole.

A report by the Asian Centre for Human Rights has listed four reasons why these shelter and rehabilitation homes have become sites of such intense sexual assault and exploitation. First, most states have not formed Inspection Committees, which are mandated to inspect juvenile justice homes at least once every three months. Secondly, there are hundreds of unregistered childcare homes in the country that fall outside the purview of any regulatory mechanism. Thirdly, though the Juvenile Justice Act, 2007, provides for separate facilities for boys and girls, for the most part, this is not complied with. Finally, though there are 462 district-level Child Welfare Committees in 23 states mandated to verify the viability of childcare institutions, most of these exist only on paper. (Bizarrely, in October 2010, the Karnataka government even prohibited members of the welfare committees to visit childcare institutions without prior permission from the institution heads. In effect, this order prohibited any random or surprise inspections.)

Unfortunately, the judicial infrastructure and attitudes around child rape can often be as bruising and opaque.

Following the 2007 Human Rights Watch study, which revealed one in every two interviewed children had been abused, Parliament had passed a landmark Bill for the prevention of sexual offences against children last November. According to the Prevention of Child Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, separate and stringent punishments are to be meted out for each kind of violation of a child’s innocence, including exposing the child to pornography, taking nude photographs of him/her or exposing the child to one’s private parts. Further, the Act attempts to make legal proceedings ‘child friendly’ by decreeing that the victim’s testimony be recorded by an officer not in uniform (preferably female), at a place of the child’s choosing. Under no circumstance should the child be detained at a police station. Additionally, the Act declares that anyone who knows of a child being abused and fails to report the matter to the police can and will be punished.

There were other good interventions. The Act made it mandatory for legal aid to be provided to minors who have complained of rape. This was meant to be implemented by state-level commissions and Child Welfare Committees, statutory bodies set up to administer shelters and children in need of protection and care under the Juvenile Justice Act.

This was a path-breaking clause because even though a public prosecutor is appointed to all such cases, there was a desperate need for legal counsel for parents who don’t want to suffer the laborious process of filing a case, being threatened, or even putting their child through the repeated trauma of testifying before a magistrate.

But sadly — depressingly — on ground, all of this is just so much white smoke. As already mentioned, most of the state-level commissions don’t even exist. And recently, when the Ministry of Women and Child Development wrote to all the state secretaries asking them to report back on what had been done to set up state-level commissions to implement POCSO, only Odisha and Haryana wrote back.

Child G – AGE 8 | Delhi

Occurred 2008 | Accused set free by trial court
His eight-year-old daughter was raped by a neighbour’s son. When he filed a case, the court deemed the accused a juvenile despite electoral rolls putting his age at 20 and medical tests determining that he was at least 18 years and two months old at the time of the crime. After two weeks in judicial custody, he was let off.
Child H – AGE  3 | Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Occurred 2012 | Convicted in 2013
He would rape his three-year-old daughter when his wife went to drop their five-year-old son to school. A compounder by profession, he knew how to rape his daughter in a manner that would cause minimal visible damage. The abuse only came to light when he was caught in the act. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in January.

India’s darkest, most ugly and hellish epidemic and no government functionary is even interested to write back. Like most Indian laws, POCSO too appears to be written for an imagined law-enforcing machinery.

This criminal absence of response becomes even starker when contrasted with how effective these interventions could be — if acted upon.

Bharati Sharma, former chairperson of a Child Welfare Committee in New Delhi, and founder of the NGO Shakti Shalini, describes one such case. In 2007, a five-year-old girl was briefly left alone at home by her parents. Her mother had gone back to the village with her younger sibling; her father had gone or work on night duty. A female neighbour was supposed to stay the night with her but got slightly delayed. In that short span of time, a neighbour entered the home and raped the child so brutally she was hospitalised for a month. The community banded together and informed a social worker from the NGO World Vision. They got an FIR filed.

This is where Sharma stepped in. Her outfit managed to get a lawyer from HAQ for free. It made all the difference. The parents had wanted to give the child up to a shelter home out of shame. But the Child Welfare Committee and the lawyer counselled them out of it. He used to visit them at home, patiently explaining the process to them — something a public prosecutor will rarely have the time to do. The magistrate, in this case, was so insensitive, the hearing for the child’s statement was fixed and postponed seven times, forcing her to appear repeatedly in court. The lawyer took this up with the Delhi High Court and had guidelines issued for all stakeholders: police, doctors and lawyers. The whole case took three years, but the perpetrator was sentenced for 10 years. And the family was able to go back to their existing home, without abandoning the child.

“That’s how crucial legal aid or the lack of it can be while dealing with rape of minors,” says Sharma. “Often parents have no clue what to do; they don’t have the finances and are under a lot of trauma. Under such circumstances, a dedicated lawyer for a minor victim can literally mean the line between life and snuffing its future out.”

Yet, despite all the public noise over rape in recent months, almost no government has paid acute attention to galvanise any of this on ground.

THE GANGRAPE on 16 December and the child rape this week have triggered unprecedented protests in Delhi and across the country. While these protests have undoubtedly been a powerful catalyst — breaking the silence, searing the country’s consciousness, ringing in at least some important legislative changes — their demands and their echo chambers in the media and political establishment have also veered towards two issues that threaten to derail more substantive changes. This is the demand for death penalty for child rape and the banning of pornography.

Apart from all the usual ethical and legal arguments against having death penalty in a civilised democracy, to ask for it in the context of child rapes is almost suicidal. Repeatedly, we have seen families loath to break the omerta and speak about their children being raped merely to save “family honour”. Imagine what a steel wall of silence — what a complex concertina of social backlash — will descend if speaking up will mean death for one’s fathers, brothers, uncles and neighbours.

The question of banning pornography is slightly more complicated, but perhaps equally inconsequential.

Bharti Ali of HAQ does believe that regulating of pornography might be necessary now, given the hyper-sexualised content available to children on their cell phones, computers and television screens. “Rather than changing the channel though, it might be a better idea to let a child watch a film where the actors are making out to the end, so that he or she can place sex in a context instead of looking at it as an isolated, unemotional act,” she says.

But Asha points out that pornography has existed before the Internet and will continue to do so. It is impossible to control. In any case, for children growing up in tiny, box-sized 8ftx8ft shanties, crammed children and adult in joint families, the sexual act can never remain hidden. Privacy is not a luxury the poor can afford. Even in the cases of juvenile rapists that she has encountered, Asha says boys find it easier to “scare a little girl” into doing what they want rather than look for money to watch a blue film at the local parlour or visit a brothel.

Our desire to weed out the scourge of rape from India has to start a lot deeper.

SUNITHA KRISHNAN refuses to engage with the din emanating from New Delhi just now. Twentyfive years ago, Krishnan, then 16, was gangraped by eight men. Among the many injuries the ordeal caused to her body and mind, it also left Krishnan partially deaf — this is her second ear surgery in four years. Despite social pressure to define herself as a ‘victim’ of rape, Krishnan has been not just a survivor of, but a champion against sexual violence. She has consistently refused to hide her identity or her face, insisting that rape survivors must be the first to “shift the shame”.

Yet, when TEHELKA contacted her to talk about the rape of minors, she chose to remain silent. “Do the story when there is no noise about it,” was her terse reply to our email. In a sense, it was not surprising. At our first meeting, she had lambasted the media’s biased coverage, saying that journalists never hounded rapists, and even when they did, it was always the lower class, anonymous perpetrator that they wrote about — never the father taking his daughter on solitary vacations, or the uncle always coming over when no one was home.

When Krishnan spoke of a “certain kind” of rape that is reported, she referred to the privileging of rape by strangers over rape by family or institutions. The insinuation is — New Delhi will take to the streets over the gangrape on the bus, or for the five-year-old raped by her neighbour, but never for the countless boys and girls violated as a matter of routine in their own homes, or the girls violated by officers of the state. Even the new anti-rape Bill, generally considered a step in the right direction, stays coy on the issue of marital rape, or rape by the armed forces. The only way to make sense of the sharply accelerating incidences of sexual violence against children is to stop looking at them in isolation. There is something that these rapes by strangers, families, caretakers and customers have in common: the noise that they create is not just getting incredibly loud, but it is also extremely close.

Child I – AGE 7 | Mumbai, Maharashtra

Occurred 1988-99 | Case never filed
He was raped regularly between the age of seven and 18 by his uncle. His uncle became more sadistic as time went by, opening him up with tongs when he was not receptive, poking him with needles, inserting foreign objects into his anus. When he told his mother that he was bleeding, she dismissed it, saying he had been eating too many mangoes.
Child J – AGE  8 | Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

Occurred 2010 | Convicted in 2010

The eight-year-old was raped so brutally by her maternal uncle’s 15-year-old son over three months that she had to be hospitalised with severe vaginal bleeding. Her younger sister was also raped. The girls told their mother about the abuse, but she tried to hush it up. They finally complained to their father, who lodged a police complaint. After an inquiry, the rapist was sent to a juvenile justice home.

Two weeks ago, when we had met in New York at Newsweek’s Women in the World summit, Krishnan sat alone on the steps of the Lincoln Theatre eating her lunch, “I don’t feel too comfortable in crowds,” she smiled, as if to explain why we could not have this conversation in the banquet hall inside. At 4 ft 6 in, Krishnan is as tall as she was when she was 16. She says her case was “doomed” from the beginning because she could not recall the faces of a single one of her assailants. “All I remember from that night is a smell,” she says. A smell. And the lasting fear of being in crowds.




#India – Students trudge 10,000 km to complete school education #WTFnews

Students of Gunukulakunta village who walk 12 km a day to attend school in
Narayanakhed mandal in Medak district, on Sunday. Photo: Mohd Arif
Students of Gunukulakunta village who walk 12 km a day to attend school in Narayanakhed mandal in Medak district, on Sunday. Photo: Mohd Arif

Each student of Gunukulakunta village walks 12 km a day

What is required to complete high school education? If you ask the children of this tanda located in Narayanakhed mandal of Medak district, their answer will be to have enough strength to walk a long distance carrying a heavy bag of books!

Surprised? Believe it or not- as many as eight students of this village have walked more than 10,000 km each in the past five years to complete their studies from class VI to class X.

“Even if it rains, we have no choice but to walk from our village to Hanmantharaopet where our high school is. If not, we have to drop out from the school,” says Gunukula Teja, a student from the village waiting for her 10th results. G. Narasimhulu and N. Raju, who are her classmates, say that they have to walk 12 km (to and fro) every day to go to school. It takes about two hours to reach the school and return home.

“Our school works 220 days a year and we all attend school except for 20 days on an average. This amounts to 2,400 km a year and more than 10,000 km in the past five years,” says Narasimhulu. Not able to cope with the burden, just two months before the examination, Narasimhulu’s father bought him a bicycle so that he can attend special classes in the morning and evening.

“We have forced our elder daughter Papamma (senior) to discontinue education three years ago as we felt it will be difficult for her to walk that distance. But our second daughter Papamma (junior) is continuing her education and now entering 10th class. We get anxious every day till she returns home safely,” said Shantamma.

G. Krishna Reddy, father of Pavani, a first year degree student at Narayanakhed, has been on the edge for two years. Pavani is forced to walk four km every day (to and fro) among the fields to attend classes at Peddashankarampet.

“We are worried about her safety as she has to walk through the fields to reach the college. Now she is reluctant to continue education,” he says.

“Walking alone amidst the fields every day is dangerous and I am thinking of discontinuing my education,” says Pavani.

“The figures speak volumes about the hardships faced by the students. We have never come across these facts though we have been working in the grassroots level for the past one-and-a-half decade,” admits Ch. Mohan, founder of Sadhana, an NGO working on child rights.


Haryana – Family commits suicide after Dalit girl’s rape #Vaw

Haryana’s harsh reality: How a rape ruined a family
Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service

Blood lust mars India’s Tiananmen moment #Vaw #delhigangrape

Bhairi Akbarpur (Hisar), Apr 28
Rape cases have nearly doubled in Haryana in the first three months of the year, according to government figures. Till March 31, 214 rape cases were reported as against 121 in the same period last year. Exactly a week ago, a family of five consumed poison in Bheri Akbarpur village, 50 km from Hisar, allegedly tormented by the police over the whereabouts of their elder daughter, who is missing after being raped last year, and on account of poverty.

An eerie silence prevails in the one-room dilapidated house where Mohan (all names changed to protect identity), his wife Sunita, their 13-year-old daughter Sandhya and sons Amit (11) and Rajiv (9) consumed celphos in the early hours of Monday. Mohan is the lone survivor and is recuperating in PGIMS, Rohtak.

Mohan’s eldest daughter, all of 15, was allegedly kidnapped and raped for two days by a villager, Rohtash, on May 15, 2012. He was arrested on May 17 and has been on trial for rape and abduction. On July 6, 2012, the victim disappeared. Mohal alleged that not only would the police keep pressing him to locate her, but the family had been suffering humiliation at the hands of the villagers as well.

While the suicide by the family has shaken the conscience of people across the state, those living around Mohan’s house seemed indifferent to the tragedy. “We had no interaction with the family,” says Ram Kumar, Mohan’s immediate neighbour. Mohan, a Dalit, had bought this house in an area of upper caste Jats after selling his old house some time back.

Ram Kumar says Mohan would usually leave in the morning for neighbouring Uklana town about 1.5 km from the village with his loading rickshaw, which he used to rent out. “His wife used to work as and when she got work under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Scheme. The three children used to go to school. The family seldom interacted with others in the village,” he adds.

Inquiries reveal that the family had been living in isolation ever since Mohan’s 15-year-old daughter eloped twice, was raped and then disappeared within two months of her recovery last July. In fact, Mohan had sold off his house in the Dalit Basti at the south end of the village and purchased a rundown house in the north end where upper caste Jats and others lived to escape taunts from his community members.

“We tried to counsel him and advised him to marry off his daughter after we heard of her first elopement. But he did not listen to us and, instead, shifted to a new neighbourhood,” say Mohan’s uncles Kanshi Ram and Dayanand amid receiving mourners.

“Mohan went into a shell after his daughter disappeared and did not discuss his problems with anyone,” says Dayanand. “We did not know he was under immense police pressure to produce his missing daughter. They wanted to produce her in a Hisar court on April 30 to record her statement. We came to know about this only after the family consumed poison.”

The day Mohan and his family consumed poison, the SHO of Uklana police station is alleged to have told Mohan to find his daughter and warned him of dire consequences if he failed to do so.

“Ladki ko dhoond ke la nahi to tujhe ulta taang doonga (find the girl or I will hang you),” he is alleged to have said. The SHO has since been sent on leave by the SP, though the allegation has been denied by the police.

“My nephew did not know his daughter’s whereabouts. How could he have produced him before the SHO?” asks Kanshi Ram.

Villagers also say the family’s financial condition was bad and Mohan had sold his rickshaw some days back. Mohan told mediapersons from the hospital that his children had not eaten in two days. He said other members of his family chose to end their lives with him rather than lead a “hopeless life”.

Unable to cope with police pressure, fed up with his poverty and with no support system to bank upon, Mohan appears to have taken the extreme step.

The Head Teacher of the Government Primary School in the village remembers 11-year-old Amit and nine-year-old Rajiv as good students, but sensitive by nature. “Both Amit and Rajiv were extremely good in studies and very docile and submissive. Children often quarrel and sometimes hit each other, but these boys would come to me teary-eyed if a classmate said anything,” says said Mohinder Singh. The girl Sandhya, who studied in the adjoining middle school, is also described as a quiet student, who did not have many friends in class.

Ironically, the children’s last journey was also quite silent, as very few villagers turned up at the cremation or to mourn their death.

Victims of circumstances

  • The family sold off its house in the Dalit Basti and purchased a rundown house where upper caste Jats and others lived to escape taunts from community members after its minor girl was raped
  • The day the family consumed poison, Uklana SHO is alleged to have told the girl’s father to find her and warned him of dire consequences if he failed to do so
  • Villagers say the family’s financial condition was bad and the rickshaw-puller had sold off his rickshaw some days back
  • The family had not eaten in two days at the time of the suicide and the rape victim’s father said other members chose to end their lives with him rather than lead a “hopeless life”

Mohan went into a shell after his daughter disappeared and did not discuss his problems with anyone. We did not know he was under immense police pressure to produce his missing daughter. They wanted to produce her in a Hisar court on April 30 to record her statement. We came to know about this only after the family consumed poison..
— Dayanand, Mohan’s uncle

#India – Aadhaar: Private ownership of UID data- Part I

 USHA RAMANATHAN | 29/04/2013 ,Moneylife.com


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As per the report of the TAG-UP Committee headed by Nandan Nilekani,government data and databases would be privatised through the creation of NIUs, which will then ‘own’ the data and the government would become a ‘customer’ to whoever controls the data!

It is no secret that data is the new property. The potential for evolving technologies to record, collate, converge, retrieve, mine, share, profile and otherwise conjure with data has given life to this form of property, and to spiralling ambitions around it. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was set up with its push to enrol the entire Indian resident population, and with Nandan Nilekani as both its chairman and as chair of committees set up by Dr Manmohan Singh’s government. In this set-up, we are witnessing the emergence of an information infrastructure, which the government helps—by financing and facilitating the ‘start-up’, and by the use of coercion to get people on to the database—which it will then hand over to corporate interests when it reaches a ‘steady state’.


Since Mr Nilekani was appointed the chairperson of the UIDAI, in the rank of a Cabinet minister, he has chaired multiple committees, each of which pushes for the collection of data and the creation of databases, and steers the government to become a customer of whoever controls the database. Several reports on e-governance as part of the report of the National Knowledge Commission: Report to the Nation 2006-2009 as well as Report of the Committee for Unified Toll Collection Technology (June 2010), the National e-governance plan (November 2011, Background Papers), Interim Report of the Task Force on direct transfer of subsidies on kerosene (June 2011), LPG and fertiliser’ Report of the Task Force on IT Strategy and an implementable solution for the direct transfer of subsidy for food and kerosene (October 2011: Final report), Report of the Task Force on anAadhaar-enabled unified payment infrastructure (February 2012), and, of course, the TAG-UP report, are testimony to how Mr Nilekani has been used to promote a set ofdatabase-related ambitions.


It was in the January 2011 report of the Nilekani-chaired Technology Advisory Group on Unique Projects (TAG-UP) that the framework for the private ownership of databases was elaborated and explained. These were about databases constructed out of data that is given to the government to hold in a fiduciary capacity, and expected to be used for specified, and limited, purposes. The Nilekani Committee report directly dealt with five projects—Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN), Tax Information Network (TIN), Expenditure Information Network (EIN), National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) and the New Pension System (NPS). It recommended that the suggested framework “be more generally applicable to the complex IT-intensive systems, which are increasingly coming to prominence in the craft of Indian public administration”.


As the Nilekani Committee understood it, the government has two major tasks: policymaking and implementation. Implementation is fettered by absence of leadership and active ownership of projects, outdated recruitment processes and methodology, inability to pay market salaries for specialised skills, lack of avenues for continued enhancement of professional skills and career growth, non-conducive work environment, outdated performance evaluation and preference for seniority over merit, and untimely transfer of officers. Rather than expend time on finding correctives to the system, the Nilekani committee found in this an opportunity for private business interest. Without further ado, and without considering, for instance the capacities and deficiencies in privatising databases, and what this means for citizens and residents, the Nilekani committee found its answer in National Information Utilities (NIUs).


“NIUs would be private companies with a public purpose: profit-making, not-profit maximising”. The government would have “strategic control”, that is, it would be focussed on how it would achieve the objectives and outcomes, leaving the NIU ‘flexible’ in its functioning. Total private ownership should be at least 51%. The government should have at least 26% share. Once it reaches a steady state, the government would be a “paying customer” and, as a paying customer, “the government would be free to take its business to another NIU”. Except, of course, given the “large upfront sunk-cost, economies of scale, and network externalities from a surrounding ecosystem (and what this means is not explained any further), NIUs are … essentially set up as natural monopolies”.


The Nilekani Committee evinces a deep disinterest in the various rungs of government. It asks for the “total support and involvement of the top management within the government” — words reflecting the UIDAI’s experience, with the Prime Minister and Montek Singh Ahluwalia being its staunch supporters, and much of the rest of the administration seemingly unclear about what the project entails. To get a buy-in from the bureaucracy, “in-service officers” are to be deployed in the NIUs and are to be given an allowance of 30% of their remuneration.


“Once the rollout is completed,” the Nilekani committee says, “the government’s role shifts to that of a customer.”


On the question of open source, the Nilekani committee “recognises the intellectual property of the NIU”, but considers that it may be counterproductive to the business planning and profitability of the NIU to release all source as open source.


The report is littered with references to the UIDAI, and suggests that the way the UIDAI has been functioning is what an NIU should use as its model.


What emerges is this:

• Governmental data and databases are to be privatised through the creation of NIUs, which will then `own’ the data;

• NIUs will be natural monopolies;

• NIUs will use the data and the database to be profit-making and not profit-maximising, and the definition of these terms may, of course, vary;

• Government will support the NIUs through funding them till they reach a steady state, and by doing what is needed to gather the data and create the database using governmental authority;

• Once the NIU reaches steady state, the government will reappear as the customer of the NIU;

• Government officers will be deployed in NIUs and be paid 30% over their salaries, which, even if the report does not say it explicitly, is expected to forge loyalties and vested interests;

• The notion of holding citizens’ data in a fiduciary capacity cedes place to the vesting of ownership over citizens’ data in an entity which will then have the government as their customer.


This notion of private companies owning our data has not been discussed with state governments, nor with people from whom information is being collected. This might have been treated as another report without a future; except, in the budget presented by Pranab Mukherjee as finance minister in March 2012, he announced that the “GSTN (Goods and Sales Tax Network) will be set up as a National Information Utility”.


The NIU was not explained to Parliament, and no one seems to have raised any questions about what it is. This, then, is the story of how the ownership of governmental data by private entities is silently slipping into the system.


(Dr Usha Ramanathan is an independent law researcher on jurisprudence, poverty and rights.)



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