Naxalism in Chhattisgarh is a fallout of Salwa Judum: Tribal Affairs Minister


naxalites

By ET Bureau | 30 May, 2013,
READ MORE ON » tribal affairs minister | Shivraj Patil | Salwa Judum | Naxalism | massacre | Kishore Chandra Deo |Jairam Ramesh

 

What you have seen in Bastar over the last two weeks - starting with Sarkeguda and then this massacre - is nothing but chain reaction to Salwa Judum, says KC Deo
What you have seen in Bastar over the last two weeks – starting with Sarkeguda and then this massacre – is nothing but chain reaction to Salwa Judum, says KC Deo
What you have seen in Bastar over the last two weeks – starting with Sarkeguda and then this massacre – is nothing but chain reaction to Salwa Judum, says Tribal Affairs Minister Kishore Chandra Deo

Do you need to rethink the strategy against Naxalism after Bastar? 

All this is the fallout of Salwa Judum. I had opposed the movement since Shivraj Patilwas home minister. What you have seen in Bastar over the last two weeks – starting with Sarkeguda and then this massacre – is nothing but chain reaction to Salwa Judum.

Do you think the government should change its strategy? 

How? All along they have been taking police action. I have been saying that we need to take action wherever there is a law and order situation but the stress should be on developmental activities

The government has many schemes, like Integrated Action Plan… 

These have shown results in some areas but there is the need to involve people in decision-making. Present schemes put all power in the hands of DMs, district forest officer and the superintendent of police.

How should the government approach the Naxal problem? 

Development should precede combing operations. I come from a Naxal-affected area. One part of my constituency, Parvatipuram, had this problem. The only way we could tackle it was by first building roads, then supplying drinking water and then all other facilities followed. While constructing roads, you must provide security so that you can tackle the Naxals.

You seem to differ with your colleague Jairam Ramesh who termed Maoists as terrorists…

I wouldn’t go to that extent. They are extremists, yes. Their actions are of an extremely undemocratic nature.

Congress is talking about a nexus between the corporates and Naxals… 

That’s true. Some private firm employees were caught with money which had to be paid to Naxals. But after those news items we found nothing. Why was there no probe? Corporate houses pay protection money.

Interviewed by Nidhi Sharma

 

Woman Health Activist Madhuri’ s Release is legally a bigger victory #Vaw #Tribalrights #Womenrights


 

madhuri1

Madhuri’s Criminal Revision  Petition  came for admission before the District Special court in Barwani  today.Adv Atul Sreedharan , PUCL Lawyer appearead and argued that the   order of the CJM taking cognisance of the case in FIR, Cr. No. 93/2008   was illegal, the CJM seems to have ignored the bar imposed by section 468 of the Criminal Procedure Code that no court shall take cognisance of an offence beyond a period of three years if the offence is punishable with imprisonment for a term exceeding one year but not exceeding 3 years. It is to be noted that all the offences charged in the present case impose a maximum sentence of three years. Hence the order of the CJM, Barwani dated 20.4.2013 taking cognisance itself is illegal as it hit by the limitation for taking cognisance imposed by section 468(c) of the Cr.PC.

It also needs to be pointed out that sec. 473 Cr.PC provides for extension of limitation in certain situations; however for invoking this provision the CJM ought to have clearly explained and spelt out in the order dated 20.4.2013, the reasons why the CJM was satisfied that the cause of delay has been properly and satisfactorily explained or that it is necessary to condone the delay in the interests of justice. To our knowledge, the order of the CJM neither explains the reason for the delay in filing the closure report (in effect the police final report u/s 173 CrPC) nor explains the reasons for condoning the delay thereby directing taking of cognisance in the `interests of justice’.

The provisions of sections 468 and 473 are mandatory and non-compliance with them vitiates the order of the CJM dated 20.4.2013 taking cognisance. In effect the order of the CJM taking cognisance of the case in FIR, Cr. No. 93/2008  becomes illegal. It follows that the consequent legal proceedings initiated in the case, including remanding Madhuri thereby imprisoning her, are also illegal.

The court posted matter to 14 June , 2013  and requested him to file bail petition which was allowed.

Madhuri will be Released.

Source- telephonic conversation with Kavita Srivastava and the PUCL statement

US eyes Port Blair as new drone base #WTFnews


 

A US report suggests that the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be ideally suited as a base for American drones in the event of an offensive against China.

Mail Today – 1

 

NEW DELHI: Port Blair might not be anything more than a vacation spot for most Indians, but a new Pentagon- commissioned report seeks to turn it into something radically different: a base for American drones.

In possibly the first reference to the use of Indian territory for the US military in recent times, the paper, put together by the RAND Corporation, suggests that the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands could be ideally suited as a base for American drones in the event of an offensive against China.

The paper, titled ‘Overseas Basing of US Military Forces‘, was commissioned by the Pentagon on the instructions of the US Congress and looks into the presence of the American military at various bases and locations across the globe.

As part of this assessment, the researchers at RAND looked into large- scale operations against potential adversaries, including Iran, North Korea and China.

Under this scenario, the paper suggests significant changes in the Indo-Pacific region. “The Navy and the Marine Corps would also increase the number of combat forces that are stationed on US territories in the Pacific, in particular in Hawaii and Guam, while seeking to retain more marines in Okinawa than currently agreed,” the paper says.

It adds that the US should seek to increase the presence of troops at bases in Australia. It then goes on to refers to the use of Indian territory to look over the strategically important Straits of Malacca, which carries about a quarter of all oil that is transported.

“The Navy would strive to station a detachment of broad area maritime surveillance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles or drones) at Port Blair airport in the Andaman Islands, to increase surveillance over the Strait of Malacca,” the paper said.

James Brown, a Military Fellow at the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program and Project Coordinator of the MacArthur Foundation Asia Security Project, points out that this is a possibly unprecedented suggestion – particularly because of its China focus.

“While there is no doubt that the Andaman Islands are strategic real estate, this is the first time I have seen anyone float the thought bubble that the US might be able to operate maritime surveillance assets from Indian territory,” Brown wrote in a post examining the paper.

“At first glance it seems incredibly unlikely, but the US and Indian navies have been steadily increasing their cooperation since 2006… In the event of Chinese aggression, it is not inconceivable that India might permit the US to operate maritime surveillance platforms from its Andaman Islands territory.”

AN IDEAL HUB FOR DRONES
A new Pentagon- commissioned report, put together by the RAND Corporation, suggests that Port Blair could be ideally suited as a base for American drones in the event of an offensive against China

The paper was commissioned by the Pentagon on the instructions of the US Congress and looks into the presence of the American military at various bases and locations across the globe

As part of this assessment, the researchers at RAND looked into large- scale operations against potential adversaries, including Iran, North Korea and China

The paper said the Navy would strive to station a detachment of broad area maritime surveillance UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles or drones) at Port Blair airport to increase surveillance over the Strait of Malacca, which carries about a quarter of all oil that is transported.

 

#India – Why were 103 women sterilised and left to die in a family planning camp #Vaw


 

On February 5, 2013 a mega female Minilap Ligation operation camp was held at Manikchak Rural Hospital (RH) of district of Malda, in West Bengal. On this particular day 103 women were sterilised. It was reported in the local media that the women who were sterilised in this camp were kept on the open ground (hospital campus premises) in semi conscious state, and their relatives were asked to take them back home immediately after the operation. This was highlighted in the media (NDTV and other news channels) as gross human rights violation and later enquires were conducted by the state health department and the national human rights commission. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to West Bengal’s Principal Secretary Health West Bengal and the Malda district magistrate, taking cognizance of an NDTV report that showed how nearly a hundred women were dumped unconscious.

Civil Society Fact-Finding: There was strong opposition to this from civil society groups as it is felt that despite government guidelines on quality assurance and standard procedures to be followed in camp settings are not being followed and implemented properly. This is a summary of this fact-finding exercise.

On April 6, 2013, an independent fact finding was conducted by a team comprising of public health experts, health and women’s rights activists and members of networks including Heath Watch Forum, Bihar; Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies and Human Rights Law Network (HRLN). National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR) supported the team by sharing the ethical guidelines and checklists for case documentation. The team members are working actively on issues related to reproductive health and rights and are engaged in post ICPD processes in India. Dr. Prabir Chatterjee, RCH Raiganj, West Bengal; Praveer Peterfrom HRLN, New Delhi; Kanti from Smokus local NGO Raiganj, Leena Uppal from Coalition Against Two-Child Norm and Coercive Population Policies, New Delhi; Devika Biswas from Health Watch Forum, Bihar (also filed the PIL in Supreme Court earlier in 2012 about 53 women who were sterilised in a government school in Araria district of Bihar) formed the team.

The main aim of the fact-finding was to systematically document whether the standards specified in different guidelines (a) ‘Quality Assurance Manual for Sterilisation Services, 2006’, (b) ‘Standard Operating Procedures for sterilisation services in camps, 2008′ (c) ‘Standards for Female and Male Sterilisation Services, 2008’ were adhered to during this camp and assess whether the providers are maintaining standards of care as specified in the service guidelines.

Villages Visited: The team visited six villages in Malda district from where women had come for the operation.  Villages included Niranjanpur, Nawada Maheshpur, Fakirtola, Gopaltola, Bagditola and Najiruddinpur. Women who had undergone operations on February 5, 2013 and their families were interviewed. Meetings and interviews with the Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH), Block Medical Officer of Health (BMOH) of Malda district, five ANMs and four ASHAs were also conducted.

Key Findings: The fact-finding report describes the concerns and challenges faced by the women and their relatives, who underwent operations in the camp. It also throws light on the lack of basic minimum standards adhered by officials in the camp.   

One of the key finding was the fact that the standard camp protocols of the GOI were not followed. Infection control practices were inadequate. Though the GOI guidelines emphasise maintenance of prevention of infection, however the health care providers are unable to monitor or maintain records of infection control mechanisms followed at such family planning camps, given the large number of operations that that they conduct in a single day.

A total of nine women were interviewed. All women interviewed reported that they were not provided options for informed choice at the camp. All the women and their families voiced an environment of utter confusion and chaos at the camp. Women reported pain and minor complications after the operations, lack of complete knowledge about the operation procedure, consent being only in terms of thumb impressions and out of pocket expenditures during and after the operations.

A quick analysis of number and sex of children of all the women interviewed clearly showed a high preference for male child. Most of these women reported that they have been waiting for at-least one son before they go in for permanent sterilisation.  

Discussion: Women, who have undergone inhuman treatment where their dignity and rights have been denied, must be provided some form of redressal. The Family Planning Insurance Scheme which includes provisions for compensation to women who face failures and complications (and death) should be expanded to include humiliation of this nature. The Department of Family Welfare must also audit and ensure strict compliance of the quality assurance mechanisms it has already issued. The state government urgently needs to put the grievance redressal system/complaint box in place and ensure that such negligence is not repeated and the underlying deficits are addressed effectively.

It is hoped that the analysis from fact-finding will be of use to the larger community concerned with the experiences of women who have used family planning services and who are going to use them in future. It is also hoped that these findings will be deemed as relevant by the district officials at Malda, West Bengal who have been a part of this fact-finding process. 

We request you to share this summary widely and to urge your governments to stand up for women’s rights including their right to control their own bodies, fertility and sexuality!

Download Fact Finding Report

 

#India – Even LPG cash transfer faces #Aadhaar problem #UID


Pranav Nambiar P Thursday, May 30, 2013 , FE
New Delhi : In the 20 districts selected for the first phase of the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme roll-out starting June 1, not even one out of five households is in a position to benefit from the scheme right now, an FE investigation shows. In these 20 districts — deemed to be the most Aadhaar-ready — with an estimated 76 lakh households, only 56% have their LPG connections linked to an Aadhaar number. And hardly a third of these households with Aadhaar-linked LPG accounts have bank accounts seeded with Aadhaar cards. Considering that such a dismal situation persists even in these districts selected for the initial phase of DBT roll-out primarily on the basis of their high Aadhaar penetration (80%), it is clear that the scheme’s expansion to the more unprepared and less accessible parts of the country is easier said than done.
The country has a total of 14 crore households with LPG connections, going by the records of oil marketing companies. The government’s hope is that pan-India roll-out of DBT for LPG subsidy disbursal would help trim its subsidy burden on this fuel by an annual R10,000 crore. The DBT scheme, meant to to cover the government’s annual bills on subsidy and entitlements like pension and scholarships by cutting leakages, is expected to come handy for the fiscal consolidation drive.
Government officials in the know told FE for every 100 households on an average in these 20 districts, some 80 have an Aadhaar card, of which around 56 have LPG connections seeded to their Aadhaar card and just 19 bank accounts seeded with Aadhaar cards. Owing to these low levels of linkage, a grace period of three months has been given to people in these districts to link Aadhaar cards with both LPG and bank accounts. During this period, they would continue to get the entitled number of LPG cylinders at subsidised prices.
This effectively means a deferment of the DBT roll-out. After this grace period, all customers who have not completed the necessary formalities will have to buy LPG cylinders at market price (that is, sans any subsidy), till they complete the same and be able to access DBT benefit.
Among the 20 districts covered under the first phase of DBT, two – Mysore in Karnataka and Mandi in Himachal – will start the scheme out from July 1, due to bye-elections. Of the remaining 18, those with the lowest bank linkages include SBS Nagar in Punjab, Diu in Daman and Diu as well as Una in Himachal Pradesh, which has less than 10% Aadhaar linkages to bank accounts. LPG linkages in these regions are higher at around 40-50%.
On the other hand, some districts like Mysore in Karnataka, Pathanamthitta in Kerala, and East Goa in Goa have about 30-40% of bank accounts linked to Aadhaar. LPG linkages to Aadhaar cards are also relatively higher in these districts ranging between 50-75%.
Under the DBT scheme, LPG consumers will get about Rs 4,500 per annum in cash from the government in their bank accounts as subsidy. They will have to buy LPG cylinders at the market price of Rs 901.50 (per 14.2-kg). The supply of subsidised LPG cylinder has been capped at nine cylinders per year for a consumer.
Banks have also been somewhat tardy in reaching out to the intended beneficiaries as they expect individuals to take up the onus in getting bank accounts and LPG connections seeded with Aadhaar, an official added. “Nevertheless,we have now launched extensive awareness campaigns across different formats like print, television and radio. We are also distributing pamphlets about the benefits of the programme and have kept drop boxes at LPG distributors for submitting bank account details,” the official said. He added that some people, particularly sections of the upper middle class and high net worth individuals might even be showing lack of interest in availing themselves of the DBT benefit.
A government official from Tumkur district in Karnataka said the reason for the low bank account linkages is that some people are worried about sharing bank account details in case it might be misused. In Tumkur, out of a targeted 3.20 lakh households, only about 18% bank accounts and 55% LPG connections are linked to Aadhaar.
An official in Maharashtra’s Wardha district said in many cases, people do not have bank accounts. This has slowed down the process of linking bank accounts with Aadhaar cards. Out of 2.01 lakh households, 66% have LPG and 38% bank accounts seeded to Aadhaar.
An official in Kerala’s Wayanad district said there has been a slight improvement in the seeding levels as the June 1 kick-off date approaches. They are hoping the three-month moratorium along with enhanced SMS and call centre campaigns will push a much larger number of people to join the scheme. Out of the 1.4 lakh households in Wayanad, around 95,000 have LPG linkages to Aadhaar and 35,000 bank linkages with Aadhaar.
The government has not finalised the dates for the subsequent phases of rolling out the LPG DBT scheme to other districts. “We will watch and learn from these 20 districts before finalisng our next phase,” said a government official close to the development. At present, there are about 145 million LPG connections in the country.
To avail of the subsidy, customers without a bank account must open an account by submitting Aadhaar details to the bank branch or LPG distributors. Similarly, customers can link their LPG connections to Aadhaar cards by submitting details to the LPG distributors. As per the DBT scheme, Aadhaar-linked domestic LPG consumers will get an advance in their bank accounts as soon as they book the first subsidised cylinder even before delivery.

 

 

#India – For Kolkata Rape Survivor , a Lonely Wait for Justice #Vaw #Womenrights


By SWATI SENGUPTA
A demonstration in Kolkata, West Bengal, on Feb. 14, which was part of the 'One Billion Rising' campaign, a global initiative to oppose violence against women.Dibyangshu Sarkar/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesA demonstration in Kolkata, West Bengal, on Feb. 14, which was part of the ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign, a global initiative to oppose violence against women.

KOLKATA, West Bengal —In February 2012, a woman was gang-raped in a moving car after she was offered a lift from outside a nightclub on Kolkata’s Park Street. Unlike the majority of rape victims in India, she decided to report the crime, not only to the Park Street police, but also to the media. With her back to the TV cameras, her frizzy hair being her only identifying feature, she fielded questions from journalists.

Not long afterward, as she waited at a bus stop, another person saw her curls and asked, “Are you the Park Street rape victim?”

The woman immediately fled the bus stop. After that, she began to tie up her hair every time she went outside.

Katrina at a reporter's house in Kolkata, West Bengal, on May 14.Courtesy of Swati SenguptaKatrina at a reporter’s house in Kolkata, West Bengal, on May 14.

“Even my family and friends now ask me to straighten my hair,” said the woman, a 38-year-old Anglo-Indian who asked to be identified as Katrina. “I am constantly identified everywhere I go. But why should I? I love my curls and always like to keep my hair open.”

Since the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi last year shocked the nation, the central government has passedstronger laws on sex crimes and harassment of women, and the suspects are being tried in a fast-track court that was set up for sexual assault cases, which usually take years to conclude.

Katrina’s case is also in a fast-track court in Kolkata, where three of the five men she accused of raping her — Nishad Alam, Naseer Khan and Sumit Bajaj – began their trial in March. However, the Kolkata police commissioner, Surajit Kar Purakayastha, said the police are still looking for the other two men, Mohammad Ali and Kader Khan, the main suspect.

However, tougher laws on crimes against women can’t prevent the ostracization that occurs to rape victims in India, as Katrina has learned.

For example, the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, responded to the initial reports about the rape by saying Katrina had lied in order to make her government look bad. Hours later, an angry mob formed outside Katrina’s apartment building.

Katrina has also been receiving calls from unknown people who have threatened her or offered her money to withdraw the case, the last one as recently as April, which she reported to the police.

The single mother of two teenage daughters decided to not take any chances with her safety. A former call center worker who was unemployed at the time of the rape, she has spent most of the past year at home while she looked for a job.

“I never stepped into a discotheque since then. I hardly go out with friends. I miss my life,” she says wistfully, sipping tea and nibbling on croquettes at a reporter’s house. She agreed to visit only after receiving reassurances that no one else would be home.

Her sense of isolation grew as her neighbors – many of whom used to celebrate Christmas and the New Year at her apartment — began to grumble about her. Katrina often came home at odd hours when she was running a call center, but after she went public with the rape, she said that her neighbors complained about her comings and goings.

“No matter how early I returned, everyone would suggest I got back late – hinting that I was in the wrong and had invited my rape,” Katrina said

Whenever she had guests or her teenage daughters stepped out, she said her neighbors would whisper: “Look! There they go!”

“Luckily, I have very strong girls,” she said. “I know they will protest every injustice, but I am scared out of my wits for them.”

Biswanath Acharya, one of her former neighbors, said the complaints about Katrina were purely for security reasons. “We objected about the odd hours in which she would leave and return home, or some of her friends – usually male – would visit her.”

His wife, Durga, said that while she supported Katrina’s decision to report the rape, she said that they got updates on the case from television and never from her. “We came to know from her landlord that she was facing a financial crisis as she couldn’t pay her rent,” she said. “But we were not close enough to discuss about her job requirements. Frankly, looking at her, you wouldn’t know she didn’t have a job.”

Katrina eventually moved, deciding that she didn’t want to deal with the dirty looks and snide remarks. But even while she was looking for another apartment, she was reminded of her status as a rape victim. She said landlords would take her deposit, make inquiries about her and finally return the money. They would tell her, “We can’t rent this flat to you. Surely you know why,” she recalled.

The government was partly to blame for Katrina’s plight since it didn’t offer her much help, said Bharati Mutsuddi, a senior advocate of the Calcutta High Court, who was also a member of the West Bengal Commission for Women when the Left Front governed the state. “The role of the state could have been to offer her succor, strongly supporting her in the case and to ensure she remains strong, mentally and physically,” Ms. Mutsuddi said.

The current head of the women’s commission, Sunanda Mukherjee, said that the commission was already handling many cases and that Katrina needed to file a case with the commission if she wanted aid.

Katrina ended up finding another apartment on her own, and, after many interviews that never went anywhere, another job. About six weeks ago, she was approached by Santasree Chaudhuri, an entrepreneur and a women’s rights activist, to work at a hotline she founded for victims of sexual and domestic violence, called Survivors for Victims of Social Injustice.

Ms. Chaudhuri, who was out of the country when Katrina’s case was first reported in the media, learned about Katrina after returning to India and contacted her through a nongovernment organization. “She came to my place and immediately offered me this job,” Katrina said.

She started the new job about six weeks ago. “Now I meet so many women and encourage them to go on fighting for their rights, and it feels good to support them in this manner,” said Katrina, who has been inspired to write a book about her own experience.

Katrina said she was hopeful that the next generation will have a more sympathetic view of rape victims, as her daughters’ friends have stood by them. “No snide remarks, no ditching my darlings because of my rape. I’ve been to parent-teacher meetings, and my children’s friends all surround me and chat,” she said.

She said although she had initially regretted coming forward about the rape, those feelings quickly dissipated, and now she was determined to see her case through to the end, no matter the cost.

“Had I died that night – and it’s only a miracle that I am alive – people would have sympathized,” she said. “The fact that I am alive, screaming, protesting with courage no matter how much I am crumbling inside, makes everyone angry. How can a raped, brutalized woman still have so much of courage and voice? They want me to break down.”

 

#India – You think #AADHAAR is good for Migrants ? think again #UID


Migrants run into an Aadhaar quandary

200 px

Aparajita Ray, TNN | May 30, 2013, 05.23 AM IST
BANGALORE: If you are a migrant staying in Bangalore and enrolling for an Aadhaar card, don’t give your hometown address as your permanent one. For, you will have to be present at your native place to receive the card. The UIDAI mandates that any person can apply from anywhere, but has to produce the proof of address where he or she wants the card to be delivered. But providing proof of address is a huge problem for lakhs of migrants who have made Bangalore their home.
But UIDAI rules state that if the applicant has proof for his permanent address in his hometown, all he or she has to do is produce electricity bill or water bill of three months of their current address to get the Aadhaar card delivered there. They can also authorize someone to receive the post.
The rules also say that those without any ID proof need to be introduced by someone who has an Aadhaar card and is willing to take responsibility for verifying that person’s identity.
“We have a system by which any person can apply from anywhere and give the address where he or she wants the card to be delivered . Earlier when we sent the cards through speed post, it would require the applicant to be receiving the card himself but now we are sending them through ordinary post. Authorization through postal department would not be accepted officially but if there is no choice, then one can go for such process also,” said Ashok Dalwai, deputy director general (technology centre), UIDAI.
Migrants can also go back to their native places and enrol for the Aadhaar card. But the problem is the enrolment centre locator tool on the website of UIDAI empanels only 18 out of 31 states and Union territories.
Arunachal Pradesh , Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram , West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha are not empanelled in the website enrolment locator tool and migrants in Bangalore from these states just can’t locate enrolment centres back home.
Dalwai says other registrars (state government or India Post or Registrar General of India or nationalized banks) have not uploaded their enrolment centres on the website. “In case of some states, either the state government or RGI has not been updating their centre list on the website which is why the tool doesn’t show all centres in all states. But we will push them to update the list,” he added.

Memo to Sonia Gandhi : Cash transfer may not get you a win in 2014


English: Sonia Gandhi, Indian politician, pres...

 

by R Jagannathan May 30, 2013, First Post
#Cash transfers #DCT #Espirito Santo #HowThisWorks #Politics #Sonia Gandhi #Subsidies
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The Congress party has set great store by the direct cash transfers (DCT) scheme, which it has relabelled as direct benefits transfer (DBT), and which it further hopes will result in a direct votes transfer (DVT) scheme and a game-changer in the next elections.
The Rs 64,000-thousand-crore question is: Will it work? Will it deliver the benefits as envisaged? And, more importantly from the Congress party’s point of view, will it deliver the votes?
The short answers are: maybe not, maybe not, and a definite no to the above three questions, in that order.
Memo to Sonia: get reforms going, get growth going.
DCT’s rollout has been patchy so far and the linkage between bank accounts and Aadhaar number seeding is still not 100 percent even in the 43 districts that were the initial targets for small schemes such as scholarships, pensions, et al.
The chances of high success in the big-ticket game-changer schemes like MGNREGA, LPG subsidies and ultimately food and fertiliser subsidies are very limited till 2014. Voters may at best get a glimpse of the promise of the scheme, but any glitches may also get magnified. One could neutralise the other.
The chances of garnering votes is thus limited, since DCT needs at least three to four years to implement properly on a national scale – but this is precisely where the Congress seems to be in too much of a hurry, and hence not paying enough attention to detail.
These are the broad conclusions of a detailed research report on DCT by Espirito Santo Securities (ESS) which discussed the issue with policy-makers, economists, and did some pilot studies where the scheme is being implemented (especially East Godavari district in Andhra).
This is ESS’s conclusion based on early results for DCT even in the first 43 districts where bank penetration and Aadhaar enrolments were supposed to have been very good. The report says only Rs 22 crore has been disbursed using the Aadhaar payments bridge, while more than twice that amount (Rs 57 crore) was paid out using traditional methods. DCT was less than a third of the total amounts disbursed.
If this is the outcome in districts with the best bank-Aadhaar penetration and that too for schemes that anyway involve only cash – scholarships and pensions – and where there is little fraud, one wonders how it will work for the more massive MGNREGA and LPG subsidy schemes that are being targeted for rollout in 121 districts by 1 July and 1 October this year, respectively. The complete national rollout is scheduled for 1 April 2014 – a tell-tale indication of where the election time-table could lie as far as the Congress leadership is concerned.
The Espirito Santo research is certainly not negative on DCT – and nobody beyond Sonia Gandhi’s National Advisory Council (NAC) has serious doubts that it can only be an improvement over the way welfare schemes are implemented right now, with lots of leakages, ghost beneficiaries, and excessive corruption. Estimates of savings for the exchequer range from a minimum of Rs 33,000 crore (according to the PMO) to a wildly optimistic Rs 1,10,000 crore of savings, according to a study by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy.
The upper-end expectations are clearly pie-in-the-sky given our record of poor implementation of almost any scheme.
In the case of DCT, in particular, the problems lie in the short-term political expectations embedded in the scheme, which raise concerns about whether they will be implemented well enough and with long-term benefits in mind. Just as MGNREGA and farm loan waivers were implemented without great thought being given to scheme design and reviews, DCT too falls into the same basic cracks.
MGNREGA is facing hurdles in its seventh year of implementation, and the outlays on the scheme have been cut from peak levels just before the 2009 elections due to supply side problems (supply side means providing work for those who demand it). The farm loan waivers scheme has been negatively commented upon by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG).
Will it be the same story with DCT in 2014? These are Espirito Santo’s conclusions:
#1: Full rollout before 2014 is “extremely unlikely.” The best guess is that “the bulk of the savings will come only after the complete roll-out which may take two to three years.”
#2: Most experts are cautiously positive on DCT, but they dispute the quantum of benefits the government is expecting from it, since few believe that corruption will be eliminated.
#3: ESS does not see “DCT as addressing the near-term fiscal problem. It has to be accompanied by further cuts to subsidies, among other things.”
Conclusion: DCT will not be a game-changer by 2014. ESS says: “We estimate that the impact of DCT will be substantial only post 2015-16, unless the scheme dies down due to lack of political will post the 2014 elections.”
The larger point is this, as Firstpost pointed out earlier. Even in 2009, the Congress party only fooled itself when it thought MGNREGA was a game-changer, when the real thing that delivered it a convincing victory was fast-paced growth from 2003-2008. That, unfortunately, is not the case now.
Memo to Sonia: get reforms going, get growth going. DCT is a direct transfer of benefits to the next government in any case.

 

 

 

 

Aruna Roy leaves National Advisory Council


May 29, 2013

New DelhiNoted social rights activist Aruna Roy has decided to leave the National Advisory Council (NAC). Her letter of resignation has been accepted by NAC chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who also heads the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

The task of the NAC is to provide inputs in the formulation of policy by the government, and to provide support to the government in legislative business.

In her letter to Sonia Gandhi, Roy listed differences with the government, specially over the refusal to give minimum wages to beneficiaries under the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

The noted social activist said that despite its contribution to changing the lives of the rural poor, implementation of this crucial flagship programme remains a challenge.

“There is a huge group of MGNREGS beneficiaries who are critical, but supportive of the law. They are losing public and political space to a small, vocal, and powerful minority determined to undermine the basic objectives of the MGNREGS,” Roy said in her letter.

“This is in continuation of the conversation we had some time ago, when I had requested that I not be considered for another term in the NAC. I am grateful for your accepting my request, while assuring you continued support to campaigns for social sector causes being taken up outside the NAC,” Roy wrote.

She said that it was “extremely unfortunate” that the prime minister rejected the NAC recommendations on payment of minimum wages to MGNREGS workers and chose instead to appeal against the Karnataka High Court judgment ordering the payment of minimum wages to MGNREGS workers.

“Even more distressing is the government’s refusal to pay minimum wages even after the Supreme Court refused to stay the Karnataka High Court judgment. It is difficult to understand how a country like India can deny payment of minimum wages and still make claims of inclusive growth,” Roy said.

Listing the achievements of the NAC, Roy said: “It is a matter of great significance that the NAC has approved a pre-legislative consultative process and will send it to government for necessary action. In my opinion, the NAC is itself a kind of pre-legislative body that has benefited immensely from the public consultations it has held.”

The functioning of the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, and its celebrated report in the aftermath of the Dec 16 gang-rape in Delhi, were also an outcome of a pre-legislative consultative process, Roy noted, hoping that the process of public consultation would become more robust.

Favouring immediate passage of the food security bill, Roy said: “Given the hunger and malnutrition scenario in the country, a food security bill should have been debated and passed by parliament by now.”

In her letter accepting Roy’s resignation, Sonia Gandhi said: “I respect your decision to move on from the National Advisory Council. I hope that we will continue to have the benefit of your wisdom and thoughts as a friend and supporter of NAC.”

 

IANS

 

Mumbai bans scantily clad mannequins as they incite sex crimes #Rape #WTFnews #Moralpolicing


Mannequins on the move

Mumbai Mirror | May 30, 2013,
Mannequins on the move
Shanta Gokhale: Separating the best from the banal on Mumbai‘s culturescape

By: Shanta Gokhale

It was reported a couple of days ago, that Ms Ritu Tawade, the BJP corporator from Ghatkopar, had proposed banning lingerie clad mannequins from shop-windows and roadside stalls because “two piece clothes which barely cover the body have led to pollution of minds in today’s generation.” Reading between the lines of Ms Tawade’s becomingly modest statement in which no unspeakable word had passed her lips, our mayor Shri Sunil Prabhu explained that such “scantily clad mannequins do invite unwanted attention of men and result in a surge of sex crimes.” By sex crimes he did not of course mean just touching and groping, crimes for which my aunt, now 86, beat up a man with her umbrella on Dadar bridge in premannequin days. He also meant rape. We now learn that Ms Tawade’s proposal has been passed unanimously by all 227 corporators, cutting across party lines.

It is heartening to know that, whether or not our gutters are cleaned and roads repaired before the rains, our corporators are dedicatedly working towards cleaning up men’s minds. In their utopia, once those scantily dressed mannequins have been bundled off their stands, women will walk free, without having to constantly look before, behind and beside them for signs of unwanted male attention. Like collateral damage during drone attacks, there’s also a collateral benefit attached to abolishing lingeried mannequins. It will drive pollution out of shop and stall assistants’ minds. For remember Ms Tawade, it is they who dress (or perhaps you prefer the word ‘underdress’?) the mannequins. Oh baba! Not just looking looking, but actually touching touching!

One knows of course that corporators’ job specifications don’t include reading and thinking. So Ms Tawade can’t be faulted for not knowing that rape has a more complex pathology and a longer history than can be settled with the mere de-mannequinning of our visual space. We are only talking about dummies here, plastic representations of women. But in Cameroon the fear of rape has resulted in a practice that savagely damages real women’s real bodies. Breast ironing as it is colourfully called, is a part of Cameroon sanskriti. It involves mothers beating their pubescent daughters’ breasts to prevent them from developing. The most widely used implements to achieve this goal are wooden pestles, ladles, spatulas, grinding stones or any other blunt object that’s handy. Breasts are beaten to protect girls from sexual harassment and rape. The collateral benefit of girls not being raped is families not losing their honour because of unwanted pregnancies.

In our country, we have a more radical tradition. In the old days we killed girls at birth, with midwives obliging. Now technology has helped us progress. We preempt birth itself. No girls, no threat to society’s morals.

Returning to Ms Tawade, I had this vision of a simple woman who had been brought up in the traditional way with traditional values. Like the majority of women in this country, she would probably rather die than say bra in public. Developing the picture further, I saw her suffering sleepless nights over the growing crimes against women in her city. Tossing and turning, she hunted for a solution. Then suddenly one day she had it. “Eureka! It’s the dummies, dummy,” she cried and promptly set to work to banish them from sight.

This beguiling picture was destroyed in toto when I saw and heard her on a television talk show on Tuesday night. Far from being simple, she turned out to be an astute politician. Towards the end of the discussion, such as it was, with three representatives of India all yakking in English ranged against this lone representative of Bharat speaking in Hindi, she quietly shifted the goalpost from crimes against women to encroachment on pavements. For a second the other panellists raced on like cartoon characters, skidding to a halt only when they realised that their quarry was no longer before them but had quietly climbed a tree. Making the most of the few seconds of talking time she had wrested from the others, Ms Tawade spoke heatedly about mannequins at roadside stalls eating up pavement space, thereby encroaching on pedestrians’ right to walk on them. Rape? Who said anything about rape?

None of the other panellists had the presence of mind to question her about mannequins in shop windows which didn’t encroach on pedestrians’ rights. Were they to be allowed to pollute the minds of today’s generation? But time was up. Ms Tawade had won the round. Jai political gamesmanship! Jai Bharat!

Liked/hated her column? Write to Shanta Gokhale at mirrorfeedback@timesgroup.com

 

 

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