Ireland proposes abortion law after Savita’s death #womenrights #reproductiverights


 May 1, 2013,

 
 Ireland unveils bill on life-saving abortions
 
Ireland unveils bill on life-saving abortions

DUBLINIrish government ministers agreed draft legislation on Tuesday to allow for limited access to abortion where a woman’s life is in danger, including the threat of suicide, a proposal that has already divided the country’s ruling coalition.

Ireland’s two-decade-old debate over how the government should deal with a Supreme Court ruling that abortion be permitted when a woman’s life was at risk was re-opened last year following the death of a woman who was denied an abortion of her dying foetus.

Successive governments had sidestepped acting on the ruling, the result of a challenge by a 14-year-old rape victim in the so-called “X-case” of 1992 to a constitutional amendment nine years earlier that intended to ban abortion in all instances.

However the death of Savita Halappanavar and subsequent large-scale protests from both sides of the debate spurred ministers into action despite misgivings among some members of Prime Minister Enda Kenny‘s conservative Fine Gael party.

The case of Halappanavar, an Indian dentist living in Ireland, highlighted the lack of clarity in Irish law that leaves doctors in a legally risky position. Critics have said this means their personal beliefs can play a role.

Though the influence of the Catholic Church over society has waned since the 1980s and a younger, secular generation want to stem the tide of Irish women travelling to nearby Britain to terminate their pregnancies, the issue still polarises opinion.

Following an extended Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the government published the outline of the ‘Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013’, the contents of which have dominated the political agenda in Ireland in recent weeks.

“The proposed legislation sets out a clear legal framework for women and for medical practitioners in Ireland,” the government said in a statement.

“It will provide legal clarity for the medical profession of the circumstances where a termination is permissible where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of a woman as a result of a pregnancy.”

Backbench rebellion?

On the contentious issue of suicide, the proposed law states that a panel composed of one obstetrician and two psychiatrists must jointly certify that a termination is required to avert a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.

The government hopes to enact the legislation before parliament adjourns in July and Kenny has said that he expects the government to vote as one on the issue, meaning that any defectors could be expelled from his party.

One backbencher has already said he would vote against the legislation while at least a dozen more, including minister for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton, have said they believe the inclusion of suicide could lead to abortion on demand.

While this would be unlikely to threaten the government’s record majority, it would be a blow for Kenny who, midway through his five-year term, has kept all but one of Fine Gael’s 76 members of parliament on side, even as he pushes through tough austerity measures required under an EU/IMF bailout.

Kenny’s centre-left junior coalition partner Labour, which has expelled five of its members for rebelling against budget cuts, has campaigned for a clarification of the country’s abortion rules and some of its members took to Twitter late on Tuesday to welcome the bill’s publication.

But opponents dismissed assurances by Kenny that the law will be restrictive, with the Pro Life Campaign criticising the government for proposing a law that it said provides for the direct intentional targeting of the life of the unborn child.

 

National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) as a sub-mission under the National Health Mission (NHM)


PIB PRESS RELEASE

The Union Cabinet gave its approval to launch a National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) as a new sub-mission under the over-arching National Health Mission (NHM). Under the Scheme the following proposals have been approved :

1.        One Urban Primary Health Centre (U-PHC) for every fifty to sixty thousand population.

2.        One Urban Community Health Centre (U-CHC) for five to six U-PHCs in big cities.

3.        One Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANM) for 10,000 population.

4.        One Accredited Social Health Activist ASHA (community link worker) for 200 to 500 households.

The estimated cost of NUHM for 5 years period is Rs.22,507 crore with the Central Government share of Rs.16,955 crore. Centre-State funding pattern will be 75:25 except for North Eastern states and other special category states of Jammu and  Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand for whom the funding pattern will be 90:10.

The scheme will focus on primary health care needs of the urban poor. This Mission will be implemented in 779 cities and towns with more than 50,000 population and cover about 7.75 crore people.

The interventions under the sub-mission will result in

·         Reduction in Infant Mortality Rate (IMR)

·         Reduction in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)

·          Universal access to reproductive health care

·         Convergence of all health related interventions.

The existing institutional mechanism and management systems created and functioning under NRHM will be strengthened to meet the needs of NUHM. Citywise implementation plans will be prepared based on baseline survey and felt need. Urban local bodies will be fully involved in implementation of the scheme.

NUHM aims to improve the health status of the urban population in general, particularly the poor and other disadvantaged sections by facilitating equitable access to quality health care, through a revamped primary public health care system, targeted outreach services and involvement of the community and urban local bodies.

Background

The Union Cabinet in its meeting held in April 2012 has already approved the continuation of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the other sub-mission under NHM till 31.3.2017.

 

China’s ‘Leftover Women’ fight bullshit with humor #Vaw #Womenrights


By DIDI KIRSTEN TATLOW
Published: April 23, 2013, NYT

BEIJING — For years, single Chinese women in their mid- to late-20s have endured being called “shengnu,” or “leftover women,” by relatives, by the state-run media and by society. The message is : Marry, ideally by 25, or you’re on the shelf.

Some are starting to push back.

“I don’t accept that definition,” said Li Yue, 34, who works at a nongovernmental organization in Beijing. “It’s really ridiculous. Who says I’m leftover, and by whom? I don’t feel I’m leftover, I feel I’m living the life I want.”

“It’s really annoying,” said Wang Man, 31, an employee of a poverty relief N.G.O. in Beijing. “By now though, I don’t care, as I think there’s a plot behind it. It’s an admonishment to women, it’s telling us what to do, where and when. Everyone is trying to get us to sacrifice ourselves, to look after children, husbands, old people.”

China has about 20 million more men under 30 years of age than women, according to official news reports — largely the result of gender selective abortion, with many parents preferring a son to a daughter. So why is the phenomenon of “leftover women” apparently so widespread? Aren’t desperate men snapping up available women?

Not exactly. Traditional attitudes demand that a man earn more than a woman, meaning that as women earn increasingly more they are pricing themselves out of the marriage market.

But as a result, partly, of the increasingly defiant attitudes of women like Ms. Liu and Ms. Wang toward a term that many still find terribly hurtful, a riposte to “leftover women” has been born — and it’s a clever one. Yes, they’re saying, we’re “shengnu.” But that’s “sheng” as in “victorious,” not “leftover.”

The pun that turns the tables on the prejudicial description is made possible by the fact that “sheng” has different meanings in Chinese depending on the written character: either “leftover” or “victorious” (or “successful,” as some prefer). Chinese is filled with homonyms, making punning a popular pastime.

The redefining of shengnu has been abetted by a television series, started last July, that translates as “The Price of Being a Victorious Woman.” It’s an exploration of the romantic life and career of the fictitious, unmarried Lin Xiaojie, played by the Taiwanese actress Chen Qiao En. In the series, the quirky, pretty Ms. Lin has troubled romantic encounters with attractive men. But along the way she builds a successful career.

While some consider the series overly sappy, it has had the effect of spreading the concept of “victorious women” as a morale-boosting alternative to “leftover women,” and delivering unmarried Chinese women more self-respect.

“In the series, the perfect metamorphosis of Lin Xiaojie from a ‘leftover woman’ to a ‘victorious woman’ shows you that in the working world too, it’s better to be strong and in charge of your destiny than to let other people control your future,” runs a summary of the series on the Web site of iQiyi.com, a major Chinese film and TV portal. It offers 10 pieces of practical advice to young women, including: Don’t be bad but don’t be too good, either. Learn not to be influenced by your colleagues. Don’t fall in love with your boss.

Even the state-run media, which have long issued lugubrious warnings to young women on the perils of becoming a “leftover woman,” are — slowly — joining in.

The official microblog site of People’s Daily recently displayed a post suggesting that “leftover women” needn’t despair.

“Leftover women, don’t be tragic,” it said. “There are 20 million more men under 30 than women in China. So how can there be so many ‘leftover women?”’ It provided a common explanation: “Isn’t it because they’re not ‘leftover’ but ‘victorious’, and their requirements for partners are very high?”

But it continued, in a less judgmental vein: “They’re free, and can stand on their own feet. As China modernizes fast, ‘leftover women’ may turn into a positive term.”

It’s better to be “victorious” than “leftover,” said Ms. Liu, the N.G.O. worker. But overall, she’d rather not have to choose.

“I think it’s a very positive word,” she said. “But it’s also kind of odd because I never thought of this as a victory or some kind of a struggle.”

“We should have the right to choose what we want to do. So do we really need such a power-filled word as ‘victorious’ to describe something so normal?”

Ms. Wang agreed. “I’ve heard of it and I think it’s O.K., but I don’t think it’s a question of victory or defeat,” she said. “It’s just a way of life. If I had to choose, though, I’d tend toward ‘victorious’ for sure. Still, it all feels a bit tiring.”

Meanwhile, there are still many over-25-year-olds, fretting under strong societal pressure to marry, who have internalized the cultural and social values that they are “on the shelf.” China’s minimum marriage age for women is 20, so the window of opportunity for those who want to escape labeling is small.

For them, “shengnu,” with its double meaning, is, at best, neutral.

“I’m not completely proud of it,” said Zhou Wen, 27 and unmarried, a secretary at an American marketing company in Beijing, “but it is at least a neutral word. Not bad at all.”

Sarabjit Singh dies, Pakistan to hand over his body to India


PTI | May 2, 2013,

Pak to return Sarabjit's body after postmortem

Pak to return Sarabjit’s body after postmortem

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thurday said the body of Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Lahore hospital after a brutal assault in jail, will be handed over to Indian authorities after “the early completion of all formalities”.

The Pakistan government will continue to facilitate the “early completion of all formalities and hand over the mortal remains of the prisoner to the Indian High Commission at the earliest possible”, said a statement from the Pakistan Foreign Office.

The body of 49-year-old Sarabjit was moved to the mortuary of Jinnah Hospital in Lahore shortly after he died of cardiac arrest at around 1am. (1:30am IST)

He had been comatose since Friday, when he was attacked by six other prisoners within his barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail.

The Foreign Office said the Pakistan government had been providing “all assistance to the family of Sarabjit Singh as well as to the Indian authorities since the occurrence of this unfortunate incident”.

The statement said Sarabjit had died of cardiac arrest despite being “provided the best treatment available” and the staff of Jinnah Hospital working round the clock to save his life.

Pakistan’s foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani was quoted by the media as saying that the body would be “expeditiously” handed over to India after completing necessary formalities.

Official sources in Islamabad and Lahore said an autopsy and other formalities will have to be completed before handing over the body. A medical board will oversee the autopsy.

The Indian High Commission was in touch with both the federal and Punjab governments on the issue, the sources said.

Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal, who is in Lahore, is expected to meet Punjab caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi this afternoon.

Sarabjit sustained severe injuries when at least six prisoners attacked him in a barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday, hitting him on the head with bricks.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed sadness over Sarabjit’s death, saying criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on the Indian national must be brought to justice.

Sarabjit was convicted of alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990 and spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons.

His family says he was the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.

Sarabjit’s mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf.

The previous Pakistan People’s Party-led government put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period in 2008.

The official sources in Lahore had yesterday said Sarabjit had slipped into a “non-reversible” coma and this could lead to “brain death”.

His measurements on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which indicates the levels of consciousness and damage to a person’s central nervous system, had dropped to a “critical level”, the sources said.

Police have booked two death row prisoners, Amer Aftab and Mudassar, for the attack on Sarabjit. They reportedly told investigators that they had attacked Sarabjit because he had allegedly carried out bomb attacks in Lahore.

No action has been taken so far against officials of the jail for failing to provide adequate security to Sarabjit.

Following the rapid deterioration in Sarabjit’s condition, New Delhi had requested that he be immediately released so that he could be treated in India or a third country.

Sarabjit should be declared a martyr: Family

The family of Sarabjit Singh, Indian prisoner who succumbed to injuries after being brutally assaulted in a Lahore jail, has demanded that his body be handed over to them and he should be declared a “martyr”.

The family has set forth demand to the Union home ministry including that Sarabjit’s body be cremated with full state honours, Raj Kumar Verka, vice chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes, told PTI.

They have also demanded that the Centre take full responsibility of the family, Verka said.

The government will hold a meeting today to consider the demands of Sarabjit’s family, he added.

Verka said Sarabjit’s family members, who are with him at his New Delhi residence, are in a state of shock after receiving the news of his death.

He said he has forwarded the demands to the Union home ministry and is in touch with the Central leaders, including home minister Sushilkumar Shinde himself.

 

#India – Tribal girls going under knife for virginity #Vaw #Patriarchy #WTFnews


Kelly Kislaya, TNN Apr 26, 2013,

RANCHI: Conservative India‘s preference for a blushing, untouched bride is now making a mark in tribal societies, where virginity was never really an issue in the past. Hymenoplasty, or hymen repair surgery, which has for long been popular among women in metros has made its way into the tribal heartland. Though there have been only four queries and two such operations in the city in the last two years, but it is definitely is a start of a new trend in this tribal-dominated city.

Dr Anant Sinha, a plastic surgeon and founder of Devkamal Hospital, the only place in Ranchi that offers hymenoplasty, said: “The first query regarding hymenoplasty came to me around two years ago, but I managed to convince the girl not to undergo the surgery. Since then, I have handled four such cases -I managed to discourage two girls, but had to perform surgery on the other two as they were adamant. The last operation I performed was in October 2012. It is a one hour procedure and costs Rs.15,000.”

Interestingly, three of these four girls were tribals. Sinha said: “I did not ask them too much about their background or why they wanted to get operated, but I did manage to convince one tribal and one non-tribal girl not to get operated. The two operations that I have performed were on tribal girls.”

Tribal girls opting for hymenoplasty has come as a surprise to many as virginity has never been an issue in the tribal society. Giridhariram Gaunjhu, former head of Ranchi University‘s tribal and regional languages department, said: “Tribal societies never questioned a girl’s purity. Many tribes practiced polyandry and promoted widow marriages even when they were taboo in the rest of the country. These girls who opted for hymenoplasty are exceptions and have been influenced by the so-called modern society.”

The influence Gaunjhu is talking about is evident on media and social networking sites, where posts like ‘In the year 2013, a virgin wife is more important than dowry’ are common and underline the message that a man always wants to be the first one to conquer the female’s body. Such messages only create pressure on youngsters to conform.

A 24-year-old girl said: “I have been a sportsperson all my life and my hymen might have ruptured. I just pray that I bleed when I have intercourse with my husband for the first time. This could just ruin my life.” Piyush Lakra, a 28-year-old, said: “One of my friends recently got married and all his friends asked him if his wife was a virgin.”

Sinha said: “Girls want to get hymen restored so that they bleed during their first sexual intercourse after marriage thus giving an impression of being a virgin. People fail to understand that hymen rupture has nothing to do with virginity. A hymen can rupture while doing excessive physical work or during sports like cycling, running or horse-riding.”

 

Whose side are you on?


 

By Javed Anand

Leaders and the led from a host of rightwing Indian Muslim organisations – Jamaat-e-Islami Hind (JEI), All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, All India Milli Council, All Bengal Minority Youth Federation, West Bengal Sunnat Al Jamaat Committee included – have not been sleeping well in the last several weeks. Their angst is on two counts. One, the International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) set up by the ruling Awami League in 2009 to investigate and prosecute suspects for the genocide committed in 1971 by the Pakistan army and their local collaborators, Razakars, Al-Badr and Al-Shams during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971. Two, the “atheist conspiracy” to banish Islam from Bangladesh that is supposedly behind the lakhs who have been thronging Shahbagh. 

So far, nearly a dozen men including nine currently top-ranking leaders of the Jamaat, the largest Islamist party in Bangladesh, have been held guilty and served stiff sentences. According to the sleepy-heads, the ongoing trials are a sham, a mere cover for the ruling Awami League’s “vendetta politics” against the Jamaat and its youth wing, Islami Chhatra Shibir. That the Jamaat had any hand in the genocide is news to them.

“Islamists are the most principled, pious, god-fearing and kind people on the earth… It’s far beyond their high moral standards to rape or kill someone,” claims a JEI spokesperson in an email. This is news to me. Are the Jamaat-Shibir supporters in India ignorant, wilfully blind, or do we smell theological affinity here to a totalitarian ideology parading as Islamic?

Keep the genocide of 1971 aside for the moment and take a look at what the “most kind” have been up to in recent years.

April 26, 2011: “A judicial commission has concluded that over 200 Hindu women were raped following the 2001 parliamentary election, forcing many terrorized families to flee the country. The acts were allegedly committed by cadres of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami who won the 2001 polls, the report said, citing the involvement of many top leaders and lawmakers of the alliance that is now in the opposition… It lists 3,625 incidents of major crimes, including killing, rape, arson and looting”. (IANS report from Dhaka published by the Muslim news portal, Two Circles).

 September 26, 2005: Syed Najibul Bashar Maizbhandari, international affairs secretary of the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP) resigns from the party protesting “the government’s failure to act” against the Jamaat-e-Islami (part of the then ruling coalition) which he said had direct links to terrorist activities across the country. The Daily Star published from Dhaka, quoted police records that the over 100 militants who were arrested during 2005 in connection with the bombings (including the simultaneous bomb blasts at 459 spots in 63 districts across Bangladesh on a single day – August 17 – aimed at establishing Islamic rule in the country) either belonged to the Jamaat or its various wings, or had worked with them previously.

November 24, 2005: The BNP expels one of its MPs, Abu Hena, from the party for blaming a section of his own government and party for patronising militants. What’s more, he charged that two ministers “are doing everything for the militants”. Hena further alleged that the Jamaat was directly involved in the emergence of the outlawed Jamaatul-Mujahedeen Bangladesh. His expulsion notwithstanding, BNP’s standing committee member and former minister Oli Ahmed and BNP whip Ashraf Hossain also spoke out, implicating the Jamaat-e-Islami in the rise of militancy in the country.

March 6, 2013: “Over the past week, individuals taking part in strikes called by Islamic parties have vandalised more than 40 Hindu temples across Bangladesh. Scores of shops and houses belonging to the Hindu community have also been burned down, leaving hundreds of people homeless… Survivors told Amnesty International that the attackers were taking part in rallies organised by the opposition Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami (JIB) and its student group Chhatra Shibir. JIB has publicly denied any involvement in violence against the Hindu community”. (A press release by Amnesty International)

April 20, 2013: “Despite High Court directives to the government to protect religious minorities and their places of worships, criminals continue their attacks on minorities across the country. In the latest such crimes, a group of criminals torched a 200-year-old Hindu temple in Rajoir upazila of Madaripur (on April 19)… at least 94 attacks were carried out in March (2013) on minorities, mainly on the Hindus. In total, 187 houses, 162 businesses and 89 temples were attacked and looted and 133 idols were vandalised, according to the statement of a writ petition jointly filed by six rights organizations”. (Daily Star, Dhaka). As always, the JIB will no doubt deny any role in the recurrent targeting of Hindus.

As for “atheist conspiracy”, an entire galaxy of maulanas affiliated to the Imam Ulema Somonnoy Oikyo Parishad, Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (Bangladesh) and other religious bodies in Bangladesh have publicly alleged that the Jamaat-Shibir is linked with terrorist Islamist organizations. “People who believe in Wahabism and Moududism (Maulana Abul Ala Maududi was the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami) are enemies of Islam as they misinterpret Quran and Sunnah”, thundered Ahle Sunnat (Bangladesh) secretary general Syed Muhammad Masiuddoula at a Sunni Ulema-Mashayekh Conference on March 17. (Daily Star).

On one side are the Jamaat which has never polled more than four per cent of total votes and extremist Islamist outfits dreaming of an Islamic state andshariah law. On the other side is the overwhelming majority of Bangladeshi Muslims love “their Islam” but would like it to stay far away from politics. It’s as simple as that. That’s what Shahbagh is all about.

Whose side are you on? The question is addressed in particular to Indian Muslim supporters of the violence-promoting Jamat-Shibir outfits in Bangladesh as much as to the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, both of whom seem to have granted to local Muslims the right to hold the state to ransom as often as they please.

(Javed Anand is co-editor, Communalism Combat, and General Secretary, Muslims for Secular Democracy).

Mumbai – Errant #Aadhaar contractors paid Rs 5.5cr fine: RTI #UID


200 px

Thursday, May 2, 2013, 8:00 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

The state has charged penalties of more than Rs5.5 crore from various contractors authorised for Aadhaar card enrollment.

 

The state has charged penalties of more than Rs5.5 crore from various contractors authorised for Aadhaar card enrollment.  The details were made available through a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Anand Pargaonkar.

Around 13 agencies are given the contract to enroll people for Aadhar cards. Details provided by the state’s IT department to Pargaonkar up to 2013, 11 of 13 agencies were fined Rs5,61,90,790.

Tera Software Ltd was levied the maximum penalty of Rs1.85 crore for delay in uploading the packet (data) as per UIDAI guidelines. Others were fined for similar reasons.

The second highest, Rs87.68 lakh, was levied on Strategic Outsourcing Services, followed by GSS America Infotech Ltd – Rs 65.67 lakh – and Mahaonline Ltd – Rs64.11 lakh.

“Suspension or cancellation of licences depends on various aspects. It could be lack of better crowd control or supervisors to check how the enrollment is being done, or too many people being given slips at the same time, or the quality of bio-metric data collected,” state IT secretary Rajesh Aggarwal said. “When we cancel contracts, we inform the UIDAI to stop receiving packets from those agencies. Contracts are suspended as a preventive measure, sometimes till the time corrective measures are taken.”

Pargaonkar said the state needs to spruce up services. “Despite fines and suspension of contracts at centres. people continue to have a bad time. They have to stand in queues for long hours or are sent back home without a proper response.

 

 

#India – Nuclear shadow over Gujarat village


 

Author(s): Ankur Paliwal,Down to Earth
Issue Date: Mar 16, 2013

People in Mithi Virdi and nearby villages talk to Ankur Paliwal about their fears over the nuclear power park proposed on their land

This woman I found plucking weeds in her vegetable patch refused to give her name thinking I represent the power plant developers and would deprive her of her only source of living (Photos by Ankur Paliwal)This woman I found plucking weeds in her vegetable patch refused to give her name thinking I represent the power plant developers and would deprive her of her only source of living (Photos by Ankur Paliwal)

I don’t know her name. She was busy plucking weeds from her tomato farm when I found her. She was wearing bright blue and red clothes, her shining white hair half covered with a purple shawl. “She makes for a good photograph,” I thought to myself. I started moving towards her and took out my camera. She looked at me curiously, smiled and then got back to plucking weeds. I took that as her consent. I clicked her pictures till I was satisfied that I had got the right frame.

I asked my interpreter Sukhdev Singh, a 21-year-old engineer from her village Mithi Virdi in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district, to introduce me to the woman. He told her I am a journalist from Delhi and that I am writing about the proposed nuclear power plant in her village. Her expression suddenly changed. She got angry and started shouting, “hamara photu na paro (do not click my photograph).”

She threw her hands in the air in anger. I could not fathom the reason for her anger. It dawned on me that she was gesticulating more out of fear. Singh interpreted her words: “She thinks that you are from the company which is building the nuclear power plant and that you would misuse her photo.” She thought that I will present her as somebody who wants the plant.

Farmers in Mithi Virdi  and adjoining villages harvest up to three crops a year and earn wellFarmers in Mithi Virdi and adjoining villages harvest up to three crops a year and earn well

She said that this was the patch of land she has to feed her family. Through my interpreter, I reassured her I was a journalist and was visiting the village to understand what people of Mithi Virdi think of the power plant. She did not believe me. By this time her son and daughter-in-law emerged from their hut. I tried to convince her but she was fearful.

I sat with her and asked if she could tell me her name. She refused. I turned to the family members and they too were reluctant to share details. The woman politely said to me, “My son, you sit, drink water, eat food and relax, but please do not misrepresent me.” I assured her that I would not misuse her photo and I was not there to take away her land. Her expression was that of disbelief. I asked her to forgive me and left her house cursing myself for having ruined her day.

Like her, many farmers in Mithi Virdi and adjoining villages are living in constant fear. Mithi Virdi which literally means “sweet well” is located on a raised plateau on the west side of the Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district. The government had approved the plant in 2009. Since then, the people of Mithi Virdi and 23 adjoining villages have been opposing it.

The proposed Mithi Virdi Nuclear Power Park which will have six reactors of 6,000 MW each will take up 777 hectares (ha). Of this, 608 ha is agricultural land. The power plant was recently in news. Around 5,000 farmers walked out of the public hearing organised by the state government on March 5. They alleged the public hearing is illegal andshouted slogans against the plant.

At stake: fertile land, happiness

Farmers are against the plant because it will be built on or close to their fertile land. A walk through the villages confirms their claim. Mithi Virdi and the adjoining village Jasapara are full of mango and cheeku orchards. Farmers take three crops a year and earn well. Take the case of Ramdev Singh Thiruwa, who has around 500 mango trees and 100 cheeku trees on his 50 bighas (8.7 bighas make a hectare) farm in Jasapara village.

A meeting organised by the non-profits in Jasapara village a day before the public hearingA meeting organised by the non-profits in Jasapara village a day before the public hearing

He grows coconuts, vegetables and fodder on the same land. “I easily make Rs 10 lakh annually,” said Thiruwa. “I don’t need the company’s or the government’s money to live a happy life. I can send my children to any good school I want in the city,” he adds. Thiruwa’s land is just 500 metres from the sea. “Despite being close to the sea, the water in my wells is sweet,” said Thiruwa.

While the fear of losing their fertile land is the primary reason farmers anywhere would oppose a plant, the fact that it is a nuclear power plant increases the opposition. In Bhavnagar, even the farmers whose villages do not figure in the list of the 24 project-affected villages are against the plant. Shambhu Bhai is a farmer whose village is 11 km from Mithi Virdi. He does not want a plant.

“Your land is not being taken away, then why are you against the plant?” I asked.

His wife Hansa Ben who had just returned from the field was quick to reply: “There is fear of radiation leak. It affects human health, women deliver handicapped children and the land’s fertility goes down,” said Hansa Ben who is illiterate.

Curious, I asked her, “how do you know all this?”

She replied: “I heard it in the meeting.”

“Which meeting?” I asked.

“These meetings are organised by sarpanchs and social workers in the villages. They call us to educate us about the harmful effects of nuclear power plant,” she said.

This prompted my next question. “Have you attended any meeting organised by the company that is building the plant?”

“No. I don’t know if they have organised any,” she said. But government says that the nuclear power plants are safer now, I said to her.

“Who knows,” she said cynically.

Talking to farmers, I learnt that the NGOs have been regularly organising meetings in the villages since the past five years. I was keen to attend one such meeting. And I got lucky. The same day, a big meeting was organised by many anti-nuclear NGOs in Jasapara village. It was a day before the public hearing.

Fukushima, Chernobyl in their mind

A big and colourful tent was erected in the community centre in the village. Almost all the bamboo poles holding up the tent had anti-nuclear posters hung on them. Posters of handicapped children were pasted outside the centre. Around 2,000 people had gathered. The meeting was organised by various NGOs working in Bhavnagar and outside. While some speakers were stressing on the point that no matter what, people should not give away this extremely fertile land, others were highlighting why a nuclear power plant is bad. Slogans like “jaan denge, zameen nahin (we will give our lives, but not land),” were heard every 15 minutes.

Sukhdev Singh, a young engineer who acted as my interpreter, says his mango orchard is the best place to relax and watch children play as a cool breeze blows. He does not want to lose any of it to a nuclear power plant Sukhdev Singh, a young engineer who acted as my interpreter, says his mango orchard is the best place to relax and watch children play as a cool breeze blows. He does not want to lose any of it to a nuclear power plant

Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) was one of the non-profits which had called this meeting. PSS is based in Vadodara district of Gujarat. “Farmers will lose their fertile land is the primary concern, safety aspects of nuclear power are also questionable,” said Rohit Prajapati of PSS. As a voluntary organisation our job is to inform people, he added. The anti-nuclear NGOs working in the area say that they are against nuclear power because till now the world does not have a foolproof technology to handle the hazardous nuclear waste and that the radiations from a leak will have long term and irreversible consequences. When there are alternatives available why opt for something that is potentially dangerous, they say. “We are just informing people. They are free to make their own choices,” said Prajapati.

But have the farmers listened to the other side before making up their mind? Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) organised a trip of sarpanchs to the operational nuclear power plants a year ago. “We have done our best to inform farmers that nuclear power is safe,” said P M Shah, chief engineer, NPCIL. But people in villages are distrustful of the government. “I have spoken the communities living close to the operational nuclear power plants. They are all living in fear,” said Shaktisinh Gohil, sarpanch of Jasapara over a sumptuous dinner that he had organised for me—butter smeared bajre ki roti (millet flour bread), a dish of onion and potato, lentils, jaggery, elaborate salad, mango pickle, papad and butter milk.

Thanking him, I was heading to the home of one of the farmers where I was staying. It was 11 pm. I found my interpreter, Sukhdev Singh, among a bunch of young guys sitting in a house making pamphlets against the nuclear power plant. These pamphlets were to be displayed in the public hearing scheduled the next day.

“It is late in the night. Don’t you have office tomorrow?” I asked Singh.

“I have taken leave because I want to participate in boycotting the plant,” he replied.

“Why are you against the plant? What do you know about nuclear power?” I asked.

“Don’t you know what happened in Fukushima recently and Chernobyl before that? Any day the risks of having nuclear power will outweigh the benefits,” he said.

His family has 15 bighas. It has around 300 mango trees and vegetables are also grown. “They will take away our land and then employ us on our own land,” said Singh. “Today we are employing people on our farms, if the plant comes we will become dependent,” he added.

“Today, after working hard in office in the city, I return to my beautiful home in the village. My parents have grown this mango orchard with a lot of labour. Whenever I feel sad, I go and sit under a mango tree. The cool breeze from the sea relaxes me. I feel happy when I see children playing in my orchard. Please don’t take all this away from us,” he continued.

 

 

 

Delhi shamed again: 22-year-old gangraped by 5, including brothers-in-law #Vaw #WTFnews


May2, 2013

 A 22-year-old woman accused five people, including two of her brothers-in-law, of raping her in south Delhi, police said on Wednesday.

In her complaint to police, the young woman alleged that she was gangraped by the five men late Tuesday night. The three others involved in the crime were friends of her brothers-in-laws, police said. The accused have all been arrested.

According to the woman, a resident of RK Puram, the men came to meet her husband for some personal work on Tuesday night. The woman said her husband was not at home at the time, but when she returned to her house, she found the men drinking alcohol there.

AP

Women protest the 16 December Delhi gangrape. AP

“She left to go elsewhere, but the men overpowered her and took her to an empty plot,” a police official said, quoting victim’s complaint.

“They snatched her bag and took turns to rape her. The woman somehow fled and sought help from a passerby who made a call to the police control room,” the official said.

“She was rushed to AIIMS Trauma Centre for medical examination. Her medical examination confirmed gangrape,” the officer said, quoting the woman’s complaint. On the basis of her statement, the police officer said, a case of gangrape was registered.

The accused were arrested after late-night raids, and presented before a magistrate who sent the five to judicial custody for 14 days, the officer said.

PTI

 

Andhra Pradesh -Biometric information of 14 lakh #Aadhaar applicants goes missing #UID


 | May 1, 2013 | Postnoon

Beware!-Vital-info-missing-3

Biometric information from over 14 lakh people has gone missing. This could lead to vital data falling into criminal hands.

What can be a greater loss to a city than the loss of identities of its citizens? While the Aadhaar card, projected as a “smart mix of politics and economics,” promises to deliver the “one ultimate identity” to all the citizens of India, its progress report in Andhra Pradesh has no reassuring remarks.

Forget ultimate identity, there seems to be no guarantee of our identities anymore.

On April 8, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) publicly agreed that several lakh Aadhaar enrolments and data were lost. What is described as a “technical error” is in reality the loss of biometrics and personal information of 14 lakh Aadhaar card-seeking citizens of Andhra Pradesh.

Over two lakh citizens in Hyderabad have not found their Aadhaar enrolments online. Fearing public backlash, the UIDAI authorities were able to retrieve over seven lakh enrolments through data retrieval, but have been unable to retrieve the other half. Postnoon investigates.

Current Enrolment Status

Even as the deadline for Aadhaar-c link gets closer, there seems to be little or no co-ordination among any of the three major players — the AP civil supplies and district collectorate, private enrolment agencies and the UIDAI — in the Aadhaar game.

“The selling point of this project was the promise of transparency and accountability. Except for the UIDAI’s website, our State government’s civil supplies or district

collectorates do not seem to have found the need to be accountable,” says Raoji Brahmanand, RTI activist and Aadhaar applicant.

The official explanation for the data loss is that private enrolment agencies had employed agents who developed differences over their remuneration and left the project mid way. Some claim that laptops and equipment containing data also went missing.

“But since high encryptions guard the enrolment data and biometrics, it cannot be decrypted. We are trying to retrieve the data currently,” says an official from UIDAI.

According to data gathered by Postnoon from UIDAI and district collectorate authorities, the current population of the City stands at roughly 82 lakh. Out of this, only 53,28,183 have enrolled for Aadhaar and a little over 30 lakh UID numbers have been generated.

Ask why this slow pace of enrolments and loss of data, S Vijaypal, deputy district collector of Hyderabad collectorate says, “No idea. We are only forwarding whatever enrolment data we receive to the State government and UIDAI.”

The morale among officials handling the Aadhaar project is low and it is evident why.

Here are the current statistics of the Aadhaar project in Hyderabad:

Beware!-Vital-info-missing-2

Beware!-Vital-info-missing-1Beware!-Vital-info-missing

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