Press Release- A Radio Ad on Red FM names Medha Patkar shopping in R City Mall


To

 

medha

Advertising Standards Council Of India

Mumbai, May 23, 2013

Complaint- Radio advertisement of  R City  Mall using name of activist Medha Patkar

 

I was aghast to listen to your advertisement on Red FM between 1545 hrs and 1555 hrs on May  23rd 2013. The R City Mall, shamelessly names Medha  Patkar,  of Narmada Bachao Andolan , the activist enjoying shopping at R City Mall. I contacted  Medha Patkar and she denied completely giving any consent to the R city Mall   using her name. Even the Radio Station RED FM, with tag line Bajate Raho , have ignored such a big  blunder  in the advertisement

Medha  Patkar is a name which resonates  with rights of  slumdwellers   in Mumbai and she is last person to endorse and shop at Malls. She has   been fighting the Builder Mafia and has stood like a rock against the  islum demolitiosn for many years now and recently had been on a ten day  hunger strike against  the Golibar demolitions, which have were stopped due the  relentless efforts of NAPM.

R City has defamed Medha Patkar by using her name in their promotional advertisement for the Mall.

The advertisement should be immediately  withdrawn  , and the Mall and Radio channel need to tender a public apology  with immediate effect.

 

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

 

Mumbai

May 23, 2013

complaint tracking No – 613ed1596928

ATTN – Mumbai Rising For Disability Access @May24th #Mustshare


Is it possible to lock out millions of people in a city from accessing the most basic facilities? Would the constitution and the law of the nation allow it?

disability-discrimination1

You don’t have to go far to find out because right here in the city of Mumbai millions of people undergo such blatant discrimination. For example if you are in a wheelchair, you’ll find over 90% of the city in lock-down, in a curfew for you. It’s not much different if you are a senior citizen, or a mother who likes to carry your baby in a pram, or are suffering from a temporary disability due to an accident.

 

Taking care of this is simple and inexpensive. Ramps don’t cost much. Stair  lifts, elevators and adjusted toilets are a one time investment that opens up establishments to nearly 15% extra consumer base. The law requires that you take these most basic steps. (Persons With Disabilities Act Chapter 3).

 

Yet, go anywhere in the city and you’ll find that these simple things have not been taken care of. The result – it becomes hazardous and dangerous to the lives of people with special needs who do try to use these establishments.

 

Hundreds of Mumbaikars, including people with disabilities and some of Mumbai’s most prominent citizens – writers, artists, filmmakers and activists – are coming together on the 24th of May, to protest against this denial of one of the most fundamental of rights, the right to live and move freely about their city, to people with disabilities.

 

In attendance will be over 100 people in wheelchairs, BMC and govt. officials, prominent Mumbai citizens, artists, activists, filmmakers, actors etc. People who have confirmed their attendance include Dia Mirza, Kalki Kochelin, Nagesh Kukunoor, Homi Adjania, Anil Dharker, Shobha De and Bachi Karkaria among many others.

 

The protest that will also launch a 2-year-long campaign to make Mumbai accessible called ‘MUMBAI RISING FOR DISABILITY ACCESS – WE ARE PEOPLE TOO” is organized by the ADAPT Rights Group, the activist wing of the Spastics Society of India (now called ADAPT).

 

Venue: Kala Ghoda

Time: 5:30 PM, 24th May 2013.

 

 

RSVP: Satyen K. Bordoloi 9967970320, satyens@gmail.com

  Varsha Hooja 9324087570, varsha.adapt@gmail.com

 

Activists Prepare to March Against Monsanto


By Rebekah Wilce, PR Watch

22 May 13

 

 

See Also: March Against Monsanto Planned for Over 30 Countries

 

n an advance that makes history, Vermont‘s House of Representatives passed a bill on May 10 requiring foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be labeled. This is the furthest any such legislation has made it through the legislative process in the United States.

Vermont’s legislative session was due to end already, but negotiations over a tax bill have kept lawmakers in the capitol this week. With the Senate’s attention focused fiscally rather than on food, however, H.112 to label GMOs will have to wait to be taken up by the Senate in January 2014.

The bill would exempt animal products, including meat and dairy, even though livestock are often fed genetically engineered (GE) feed.

State Faces Threat of Monsanto Lawsuit

GMO labeling legislation has been stalled in the Vermont legislature for three years, in part because of a concern that biotechnology companies would sue the state if it passed. The concern seems justified, as Monsanto — the world’s largest GE seed company — reportedly threatened to do so last year.

According to Organic Consumers Association Executive Director Ronnie Cummins and Vermont farmer Will Allen, “Monsanto has used lawsuits or threats of lawsuits for 20 years to force unlabeled genetically engineered foods on the public, and to intimidate farmers into buying their genetically engineered seeds and hormones.”

GMO Labeling Bills Across the Country

California’s Prop 37 to label GMOs was narrowly defeated in 2012, as the Center for Media and Democracy reported. Afterwards, Jennifer Hatcher, senior vice president of government and public affairs for the Food Marketing Institute, who had previously said that Prop 37 “scared us to death,” said in an official statement, “This gives us hope that you can, with a well-funded, well-organized, well-executed campaign, defeat a ballot initiative and go directly to the voters. We hope we don’t have too many of them, because you can’t keep doing that over and over again . . .”

Contrary to industry hopes, however, similar bills have been introduced in Connecticut, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, and Iowa in 2013. Food and Water Watch and other organizations are encouraging supporters to petition for a national GE labeling law. The passage in the Vermont House of Representatives of that state’s long-sought labeling bill marks an important and historic step towards realizing eaters’ right to know whether or not foods contain GMOs.

Tens of Thousands to “March Against Monsanto” Worldwide Frustrated with Monsanto’s bullying of governments and farmers in the United States and abroad, tens of thousands of activists around the world will “March Against Monsanto” on Saturday, May 25, according to organizers.

Marches on six continents, in 36 countries, and in 47 U.S. states — totaling events in over 250 cities — are coordinated to occur simultaneously at 11am Pacific time. A Facebook page founded in February has been instrumental in organizing the events.

Goals of the march’s organizers include:

  • “Voting with your dollar by buying organic and boycotting Monsanto-owned companies that use GMOs in their products.
  • “Labeling of GMOs so that consumers can make those informed decisions easier.
  • “Repealing relevant provisions of the US’s ‘Monsanto Protection Act.
  • “Calling for further scientific research on the health effects of GMOs.
  • “Holding Monsanto executives and Monsanto-supporting politicians accountable through direct communication, grassroots journalism, social media, etc.
  • “Continuing to inform the public about Monsanto’s secrets.
  • “Taking to the streets to show the world and Monsanto that we won’t take these injustices quietly.”

In Madison, Wisconsin, where the Center for Media and Democracy is based, activists will march on the state capitol at 1pm Central time on Saturday, May 25.

 

Illegal GM cotton spreads across India


Author(s):
Latha Jishnu
Issue Date:
2013-5-22

In a replay of Bt cotton saga, Monsanto‘s Roundup Ready Flex is being grown in at least three states without clearance

GM cotton has proved to be a grim experience<br />
for farmers as erratic rains and high costs of cultivation have resulted in<br />
poor returns. This appears to be a prime cause of the wave of farmer suicides<br />
that have touched nearly 9,000 since 2005GM cotton has proved to be a grim experience for farmers as erratic rains and high costs of cultivation have resulted in poor returns. This appears to be a prime cause of the wave of farmer suicides that have touched nearly 9,000 since 2005 (Photo by Amit Shanker)

In the sweltering cotton fields of northern and western India, a special cotton seed that is tolerant to herbicides is spreading fast, making a mockery of the country’s ability to regulate the use of genetically modified (GM) technology. The seeds, according to reports from Gujarat, Punjab and Maharashtra, are those of biotech giant Monsanto which have been genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, the active ingredient of its herbicide Roundup. India has yet to approve herbicide-tolerant seeds.
This is a replay of how GM technology took root in the country 12 years ago.

In 2001, reports were rife of the widespread use of Bt cotton, the GM cottonseed, in Gujarat where thousands of farmers had started illegal cultivation before the regulators could approve its commercial use. Following a campaign by the industry and leading media organisations, Bt cotton was cleared without some essential safeguards. Regulators did little to check how Bt cotton was being grown, whether the mandatory refugia or buffer zones were being maintained to prevent the contamination of non-Bt fields that would also help to slow down the resistance to Bt.

In 2013, history is repeating itself as herbicide-tolerant GM cotton known as Roundup Ready Flex  (RRF) spreads illegally in at least three states. Roundup Ready Flex, first reported to be in use in Gujarat last season, has since spread to Punjab and Maharashtra although the regulator, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, has not cleared the technology. This is being field-tested by Monsanto’s Indian partner, the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company better known as Mahyco.

Mahyco, incidentally, was the first Indian company to get approval for the commercial release of Bt cotton that was marketed as Bollgard in 2002.

Farmers’ organisations in Maharashtra, particularly those in Vidarbha, have become alarmed by the spread of the illegal Roundup Ready Flex. The region is notorious for the huge numbers of suicides by primarily cotton farmers in the past 15 years and farmers’ lobbies have been blaming the use of GM technology or Bt cotton as it is known for the spate of suicides. Glyphosate kills only the weeds and leaves the crop, reducing labour for farmers.   However, a significant concern with the heavy use of glyphosate is that it leads to the growth of superweeds that are resistant to glyphosate.

A recent report from Manitoba, Canada, says more than one million acres (404,686 hectares, one acre equals 0.4 ha) of Canadian farmland have glyphosate-resistant weeds growing on them. This estimate is based on a survey of 2,028 farmers, conducted by Stratus Agri-Marketing Inc. This is an extremely high figure which has been disputed but in the US, the biggest user of GM, pesticide use has gone up dramatically due GM herbicide-resistant weeds, warns Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Millions of acres of glyphosate-resistant weeds are causing real harm, such as increased tillage that increases soil erosion,” he points out.

In India, the spread of Roundup Ready GM cotton is matter of serious concern since GEAC had called for additional tests by Mahyco. Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’ advocacy group that is fighting to safeguard the sustainability of agriculture in drought-prone Vidarbha,  says herbicide-tolerant Bt cotton is being openly sold at Rs1,500/ per packet of RRF (450 gm) “which is highly objectionable because RRF is yet to receive approval”.

GEAC sources say Mahyco has been asked to provide detailed data on the use of RRF and its impact on the environment and approval for its commercial release is some way off.


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/illegal-gm-cotton-spreads-across-india

 

RTI exposes a revenue loss of Rs 25,000 crore in Maharashtra


SHAILESH GANDHI | 22/05/2013

Would you believe that Maharashtra loses over Rs25,000 crore annually because of carelessness or corruption, and this has not been exposed so far?

Are we really poor or are we thrust into poverty? The recent scams, which have been unearthed, give me a feeling that we may actually be quite well off with enough resources. If the lakhs of crores of public resources being given away and snatched away by the few were to come to the public exchequer, we could be quite comfortable as a nation. I have been pursuing one such scam in Maharashtra in which I believe a few thousand crores of public money is being lost to benefit a few.

 

Maharashtra’ debt is about Rs2.7 lakh crore, and we pay the interest for this. A state owns many resources on behalf of its citizens. One of these is land. Governments sell some of the lands and give some on lease. The idea behind giving certain lands on lease is to basically have an inflation-proof investment and sometimes, to encourage certain activities. Hence it offers lands on lease. It wishes to retain the land so that it may basically ensure that its revenue matches with the growth in inflation.

 

A lease is legal transaction, which primarily lays down the area that is leased, purpose for which the land is to be used, period of lease, lease rent and certain other conditions. When the lease expires, it may be renewed with the lessor increasing the lease rent as per themarket price, which reflect the inflation in the intervening period.

 

When any individual or institution gives land or a property on lease and the lease expires, a fresh lease is drawn up at the prevailing market rates if the lessee wants to continue. This simple principle has not been followed in Mumbai and possibly in the state ofMaharashtra. I have been told that this is true all over the country. Some leases are renewed while some are allowed to continue occupying the land at the old rates. What are the reasons for such irrational actions?

 

This may be due to carelessness or corruption.

 

I had discovered this in 2005 and drawn the attention of the chief secretary to this in a letter titled “Arbitrariness and huge loss of public money in public lands given on lease”. I have now got the scanned copy of the file relating to this which has over 600 pages over the years and has ended on a bizarre note.

 

The Supreme Court is the 2G case has said, “In conclusion, we hold that the state is the legal owner of the natural resources as a trustee of the people and although it is empowered to distribute the same, the process of distribution must be guided by the constitutional principles including the doctrine of equality and larger public good.” The poorest man who may be starving is an equal and rightful owner of this land, and it is necessary that the appropriate revenue is obtained for him. I looked at the list of leases of lands given by the two collectors of Mumbai (obtained in RTI) and decided to calculate the worth of the lands where lease deeds have expired and unauthorized occupiers are allowed to continue.

 

Let me first share the route the Maharashtra Government has decided to adopt after eightyears of confabulations: The government has decided to offer the lands to the lessees at about 20 to 30% of the value! I am shocked at this irrational action of the government and think it is about time, citizens defend their revenue by telling the government they will not accept this approach. Below are the detailed calculations…

BOX:

 

Note on some assumptions in calculations:

I used the Ready Reckoner rates, which are for FSI of 1 (one). I checked with some renowned architects and builders and was told that the land value for the island city is reckoned at a FSI of 3 to 5 and for the suburbs at a FSI of 2 to 4, I therefore assumed land value at FSI 3 for the city and 2 for the suburbs. In the case of the suburban collector, when I could not get the value of the land from the Reckoner I took two leases which had been given. In 2007, for an access road Rs1,062 per sq mtr had been charged; I therefore assumed a rate of Rs1,200 per sq mtr in 2013 for access roads, playgrounds, etc.
For other uses, I assumed a rate of Rs5,200 per sq mtr since a lease had been given in Malad for a CNG outlet in 2009 at Rs5,348 per sq mtr. In the case of Mumbai collector, since usage has not been provided, I have assumed that the total rent would be less by 15% to take into account the open grounds/ playgrounds, etc.
My feeling is that the total figure, which I have arrived at is most probably an underestimate. I have assumed that the market would be willing to bid at least 7% of the market value of the lands. In this case the fixed lease rent would be payable for a period of about 30 years. Future escalations would be to the lessee’s advantage.
On this issue I quote from the Supreme Court judgement in Matter No.C.A.No.5559/2001 JH Wadia v/s. Board of Trustees, Port of Mumbai, where it said, “The period between 1.4.1994 and 31.3.2000 is the bone of contention. The compromise proposals proposed 15% return for non-residential use and 12% return for residential use as the fair market rent on the estate value. The division bench of the High Court has directed these rates to be reduced to 6% and 4% respectively. Instead of our undertaking an exercise afresh as to what would be a fair and reasonable return to the Bombay Port Trust, it is sufficient to record that all the learned counsel for the parties excepting the Bombay Port Trust, have agreed that the lessees are prepared to accept the rates revised as 10% and 8% respectively.”
Based on this I feel a rate of 7% today is very conservative.

In the case of the information about leases provided by the Mumbai collector, in 103 cases there is no mention of the lease date and period of lease. Despite a specific query by me using RTI, the PIO has said they will need two to three months to provide this information!
 
There are also other government agencies like BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which have similar lands in Mumbai. My calculation (see box above) estimates that there is an annual loss of about Rs1,550 crore by Mumbai Collector and about Rs1,200 crore due to the suburban collector (see below), i.e. a total revenue loss of Rs2,750 crore every year.

 

 

The government now proposes to give away ownership rights to the lessees for Rs2,248 crore plus Rs1,841 crore onetime! Citizens must protest before the government dispossess us of our land and legitimate revenue.

 

If we can get the government to auction the leases in Mumbai and all over Maharashtrawe could have a revenue stream of over Rs25,000 crore each year. Citizens and media need to make the government get the appropriate revenue by fixing lease amounts at current rates. Also this is a revenue stream which is partial hedge against inflation, saving future generations from having to pay ever higher taxes.

 

(Shailesh Gandhi served as Central Information Commissioner under the RTI Act, 2005, during 18 September 2008 to 6 July 2012. He is a graduate in Civil Engineeringfrom IIT-Bombay. Before becoming a full time RTI activist in 2003, he sold his packaging business, Clear Plastics. In 2008, he was conferred the Nani Palkhivala Memorial Award for civil liberties.)

People should oppose FDI in retail: Mahasweta Devi #mustshare


 

Kolkata, May 21 — Supporting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s decision to withdraw from the UPA last September on the issue of FDI in retail, eminent writer Mahasweta Devi Tuesday exhorted people from all walks of life to protest against the measure.

“Of course, I support our chief minister’s decision to withdraw from the centre on FDI. I think everybody should protest against it. People from all walks of life should contribute in their own way in standing up against it,” Mahasweta Devi said while launching a book “FDI-Gobhir Shorjontror Shikar Aamra” (FDI-We are a target of conspiracy).

The 89-year-old Jnanpith awardee suggested tapping into indigenous resources for India‘s growth and development.

“We have sufficient resources. If we use them properly then India can walk on a path of progress and development,” she said.

Mahasweta Devi said she was “somewhat satisfied” with the state government’s stance on introduction of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.

Commending the Trinamool Congress for “trying” to bring about changes during its two years in power, she said it is too early to comment on its impact.

“It’s too early to comment. It has just completed two years. It hasn’t done too good or anything worth praising nor it has done anything bad worth criticising.

“It’s trying… let’s just say that,” she added.

Trinamool Congress Monday completed two years in power in West Bengal.

 

nydailynews.com

 

Phaneesh Murthy saga: Why insurers should refuse to cover serial offenders of sexual harassment #Womenrights


 SUCHETA DALAL | 23/05/2013

If you work in risky jobs or have a medical condition, you pay a higher premium. Some people are even denied insurance. Shouldn’t insurers refuse to cover serial offenders of sexual-harassment too? This may help women get a fairer treatment in companies

When iGate hired and helped rehabilitate Phaneesh Murthy, the disgraced marketing whiz kid, this is what Ashok Trivedi, its founder, had to say. “For us, this deal is like getting Babe Ruth and the whole Yankees team at the same time. Not only do we get Phaneesh and the crackerjack team of Quintant but we also get to add their expertise in the BSP domain to our fast growing BPO business”. Of course, he did not have a word to say about Murthy’s serial misbehaviour with women employees, while he was a star, the blue-eyed boy at Infosys, and how iGate planned to contain a similar damage to itself.
Ten years later, iGate may have sacked its “Babe Ruth” but it still faces the prospect of an expensive lawsuit or settlement with its former employee, on account of Murthy’s uncontrolled peccadilloes. And while iGate may have celebrated its entry into the billion dollar IT club by gifting Phaneesh Murthy a Ferrari, it is now left to handle the assimilation of Patni Computers merger, without its star player.
What we are keen on watching is how insurance companies react to this. Consider this. If you declare that you have diabetes or an angioplasty in your medical insurance form, your insurance cover shoots up. Airline and shipping companies pay a significantly higher premium because they operate in risky professions. Shouldn’t the same hold true when companies hire senior executives accused of sexual harassment or try and brush the problem under the carpet by sacking the women who complained?
Let’s take a look at all the things iGate ignored when it hired Phaneesh Murthy with much fanfare.
• The last time around, Murthy accused Reka Maximovitch of being a “gold digger” but it turned out that she had to take a restraining order against him that Infosys was blissfully unaware of. This time he is accusing his former girlfriend of ‘extortion’, but media reports say she is pregnant with his child and he was forcing her to abort it and quietly leave the company. Her action was probably provoked by this fact and is bound to cost iGate. It is incredible that the board had no clue what was going on after having hired a CEO with a reputation for sexual harassment.
• In 2003, Phaneesh Murthy made nasty innuendos about having sent Infosys a legal notice about vested stock options; he also suggested he wanted to fight the case but had his lies nailed with a point-by-point rebuttal by Infosys. He agreed to a $3million settlement in the Rexa Maximovitch.
• Not only this, there is another $800,000 paid by Infosys and the insurance company to another ex-Infosys employee, Jennifer Griffith, in a similar settlement. Murthy reportedly got away without paying anything.
This brings us to the issue of the Directors & Officers liability cover that companies take to protect themselves from charges against key employees. The question is simple: Will insurers cover top executives who are hired despite having paid/settled sexual harassment charges? If insurers do not impose conditions about serial offenders like Phaneesh Murthy, then their shareholders ought to be asking some tough questions.
In the US, companies tend to settle, rather than avoid expensive lawsuits which are also extremely damaging to their reputation as employers. After all, no good employer wants to be seen protecting those accused of sexual harassment. In India it is still the opposite. In fact, consulting companies that preach good governance and offer consultancy for a fat fee are among the worst offenders.
A lot of people are fully aware of the dogged fight that a smart chartered accountant has been fighting for a decade against KPMG. The company let go of the accused senior partner only in the past few months after the Delhi gang-rape and the Justice Varma committee report made it clear that middle-class India, which forms the bulk of employees in information technology companies, is no longer tolerant about sexual harassment in the workplace or outside.
As Moneylife reported yesterday, the demand for Directors  & Officers liability policies is still low in India and these policies are don’t necessarily cover sexual harassment explicitly. So far, companies are careful about their liability only when it comes to international operations. It is routine in India to sack women employees who dare to speak up. Even in the few cases where action is initiated against senior employees, the victim gets nothing and organisations go out of their way to protect the employee by hiding details about their sacking.
Worse, companies usually give such employees the option to resign which leave no negative record and allows the employee to seek employment elsewhere. Indian companies are big beneficiaries of the slow legal system and their clout. The charteredaccountant who dared to speak out against her boss, had her reputation dragged through the mud, faced vile posts on the internet and had faced every dirty trick in the book that delayed and blocked investigation. At the same time, the company forked out large sums of money to buy out lawyers or hire the most expensive legal brains in the country to harass the victim.
In fact, this global consulting company’s tactics have become a shining example of why smart women, who are concerned about career progress, would prefer to switch jobs rather than complain about sexual harassment. Unfortunately for Indian women, the legal system has let down career women so far. If complaining about sexual harassment puts an end to your career and leads to several decades of humiliating legal battles, it is no choice at all. Worse, sexual harassment remains rampant and unspoken in the three places that ought to lead the battle against sexual harassment—the Supreme Court, the media and politics. There is a conspiracy of silence when it comes to the transgression of senior politicians, editors, advocates and lawyers—how can women expect justice in this scenario? At least, if insurance for these situations is really costly, or if there is no insurance available for serial offenders of sexual harassment, it will check the malaise while we still wait for a systemic cure.

 

‘Court kutcheri’ Rap for Irom Sharmila #Raptivism #Protest #AFSPA


NEW DELHI, May 23, 2013

 

Sowmiya Ashok

Activists in support of Irom Sharmila hold a music satyagraha outside the Patiala house court complex in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: V.V.Krishnan
Activists in support of Irom Sharmila hold a music satyagraha outside the Patiala house court complex in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: V.V.Krishnan
TOPICS

Failure of democracy in Manipur could spell doom for entire country: activist

A Mumbai-based rapper and an alternative jazz duo, wearing garlands, carrying guitars, and accompanied by students and trade unionists — this motley group, which gathered on the lawns of the Patiala House Courts Complex early on Wednesday, attracted questions from the Intelligence Bureau, warranted notes in a police diary and brought in curious bystanders.

The usually laidback morning hours at the court complex were replaced by a “peaceful, non-violent open air jam” to support Irom Sharmila Chanu at her next Delhi trial. It was another matter that, a few hours later, Metropolitan Magistrate Akash Jain postponed the recording of prosecution evidence in a case against the rights activist to August 30, after Ms. Sharmila could not appear in court.

The piercing sounds of the trumpet in Aditi Veena’s hands announced the beginning of the ‘Musical Jam’ for which invites went out on social networking sites as early as mid-April. With 700 confirmed attendees on Tuesday night, the musicians were slightly taken aback at the initial sparse turnout — 15 persons — at half-past-eight. “We don’t know why we don’t have more people here but we are in need of some enlightenment, some illumination….,” said Mark Aranha, who, along with Aditi, forms the jazz duo Ditty & Mark.

A few songs later and the venue shifted from the garden inside the court complex to the footpath outside the main gate — so the media could take part as well. The venue change also prompted freelance rapper Ashwini Mishra aka ‘A-List’ to render Iron Lady, which he said had been a ‘work-in-progress’ for over a year. “That is right. It is the Armed Forces Special Powers Act… it is time for the people to take the power back…” he rapped, a year after he got back to the art-form after a sabbatical. “My second innings, so to speak, has been much more political,” he said.

The intent was a peaceful satyagraha which was in “no way anti-Army, anti-India or anti-security forces” but one which believed that “human rights is sacred.” But on the footpath outside the courts, the clash of class and language were palpable. “Everything is in English from the lyrics to the placards. How will anyone who walks past know what is going on?” commented a bystander.

It was trade union activist Alok Kumar’s first ‘musical protest,’ which he admitted made him uncomfortable but at the same time opened up new ways of doing things. “We are, in a way, positive about the gathering but this kind of performance has the potential to alienate people,” he observed. “We should be looking at a new form of art which can create a dialogue among people.”

A member of the North-East Forum for International Solidarity, Mr. Kumar felt it was important to understand the art form being presented and make it more context-specific.

“More and more people should know and relate to the issue. Failure of democracy in Manipur could create a condition where democracy can be killed in India.”

 

Supreme Court Verdict on Kudankulam shocking


 

NEW DELHI, May 23, 2013

 

“Verdict on Kudankulam shocking”

 

Mohammad Ali

 

 

Activists and experts under the platform of the Coalition for Nuclear Disarmament & Peace (CNDP) have termed the Supreme Court’s go-ahead to the controversial nuclear power plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu “shocking” and “absurd”.

 

Arguing that the verdict will go down in history as one of the “black” judgments of the Court, Supreme Court lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan said: “It is an unfortunate and a terrible judgment which shows the establishmentarian mindset of the SC judges, accepting whatever the Government presents, especially in the context of this mindless rush towards nuclear energy.”

 

The apex court in the first week of this month gave a green signal to the commissioning of the largest nuclear power plant of the country arguing that in order to “sustain rapid economic growth, it is necessary to double the supply of energy. Energy tariff is also increasing, and nuclear power in the long run will be much cheaper than other forms of energy”.

 

Mr. Bhushan underscored that transgressing from the actual prayers in the petition, the apex court completely overlooked brazen violation of official safety norms by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board. He also countered the logic of cheaper energy through nuclear power. Mr. Bhushan said nuclear power was the “most expensive” way of producing electricity as “there are large number of hidden costs in producing electricity through nuclear power which the court didn’t take into account.” He said the apex court also did not take into account that the AERB was not an independent body as it was just a part of the Department of Atomic Energy.

 

Kumar Sundaram from CNDP highlighted that the petitioners, concerned at the huge negative impacts of the power plant, had approached the apex court, highlighting serious issues such as recent scams allegedly involving Russian Company ZiO-Podolsk’s supply of sub-standard equipment to nuclear power plant at Kudankulam and violation of the AERB’s reactor sitting norms.

 

In their petition, the concerned groups had also raised the non-compliance with the 17 post-Fukushima safety recommendations by a special AERB committee, besides undermining of several processes of Environmental Impact Assessment and Coastal Regulatory Zone clearance and flouting of the mandate for evacuation exercises and emergency preparedness drills, Mr. Sundaram added. While delivering the verdict the Court “sidestepped all these violations and virtually affirmed all the myths we have been contesting all along. If you read the SC judgment it is like the violation has not taken place at all,” he added. Criticising the judgment, eminent journalist and founding member of CNDP Praful Bidwai also demanded time-bound implementation of the 15 cautionary guidelines proposed by the apex court, especially the one regarding the withdrawal of bogus cases against those involved in the movement against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

 

 

 

#India – She has marks but no money to realise her dream #mustshare


M.K. ANANTH, The Hindu


NAMAKKAL, May 21, 2013
S. Gayathri.

S. Gayathri.

S. Gayathri (17) of Chinnamaruthur in Pilikalpalayam panchayat, Paramathi Velur taluk, about 35 km from Namakkal town, has scored 1,129 (94 per cent) in the recent Plus Two exams. She aspires to become a doctor and she has 197/200 cut off for medicine. As she belongs to Scheduled Caste (Arunthathiyar) community, she has brighter chance to realise her dream.

But poverty has forced her to work in agricultural fields as a daily wager so that she can earn Rs. 100 a day to support her family.

When she came to know that she scored 199 in biology, 198 in chemistry, 197 in maths, 192 in physics, 179 in Tamil and 164 in English she hardly had time to celebrate as her father asked her to discontinue her studies as it would not be possible for him to support her higher education. Her mother, however, wanted the girl to pursue some degree course in a nearby government aided arts and science college.

Her parents K. Selvaraj (42) and S. Sumathi (35) have never been to school and are daily wage farm labourers. Gayathri is the eldest child and has two sisters and a brother.

The family always had trouble meeting their day to day needs as her father often fell sick and on many occasions Sumathi was the sole breadwinner of the family.

Becoming a doctor was Gayathri’s childhood dream. “I suffered from breathing difficulty and chest pain from the age of one and was badly affected till I was 13. I know the pain of living as a patient from a poor family and so I want to treat poor patients if I become a doctor. I want to specialise in gynaecology,” she adds.

She studied in the Aanangur Government High School and scored 470/500 in the Class X examination.

Her teacher Ranganathan took her to Malar Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Paramathi where she was enrolled for higher secondary. Her tuition fee was fully waived.

Teachers, who saw the girl’s interest in studies, pooled in money to pay the transportation fees.

“In 2012, the lowest cut off score for a candidate from the SC (A) community to get a medical seat in a government medical college was 188.25. With a much better cut off, Gayathri has a better chance. The school will extend support to her, but she would need more financial assistance to pursue her higher education,” M. Palaniappan , president of Malar school, said.

Persons interested in helping Gayathri can contact her father at 98436 87990.

 


  • Gayathri has

    197/200 cut off

    for medicine

  • Poverty has forced her to work in agricultural fields as a daily wager

     

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