Rethinking Development In Pakistan


Flag map of Pakistan

 

 

 

By Q. Isa Daudpota

 

25 May, 2013
Countercurrents.org

 

Trickle-down economics invariably fails in poor countries. For long-lasting progress, development policies that are bottom-up, those that ‘put the last first’, often succeed. Ideas supportive of this thesis are presented in the post-election Pakistani context.

 

Good development experts have failed to get across a basic truth to Pakistan’s politicians and economic planners: If you are on a dirt road, fill the ruts – don’t dream of bullet trains and flyovers! One has to get the basics right before anything else can work. This obvious fact failed to register with the government and the Election Commission as it set in motion the recent ballot-box democracy exercise, allowing law breakers of all shades a free hand in returning to parliament. They overlooked the fact which every cook knows: clean the pans before preparing fresh meals! For those undaunted by this recent failure and blessed with an optimistic spirit, a potpourri of home truths is laid out.

 

A poor country like Pakistan cannot have sustainable development without reducing its population significantly through enlightened family planning. (It is best not to use the euphemism ‘developing country’, which we were in the 1960s when an attempt was made at population control.) How can we get back on track? A global perspective will help.

 

About 3 million children in poor countries die annually of diseases that can be prevented by basic healthcare and vaccination. The cost of providing a package of basic vaccines to a child is about Rs. 3000 – the price of a good meal in a luxury hotel. Pakistan has about 3% of the world’s population of 7 billion. Therefore roughly 250 kids die here daily. What’s the cost of avoiding these deaths? Just the price of one lavish wedding reception daily! And as for the basic healthcare for all, nothing is more important than providing potable water through community outlets, which is easily affordable.

 

Enlightened education, particularly of females, that encourages critical thinking is another key area needing urgent attention. Attempts at improving higher education level over a decade have overlooking the more critical lower levels where irreversible damage is presently done to impressionable minds. Education when viewed holistically should integrate all levels of education, including informal education, which brings the adult population up to steam and encourages lifelong learning. But who is going to do this?

 

The standard of pedagogy at all levels is poor. This failing can be corrected by a nationwide program of teachers’ training, principally in English communication skills. The world’s knowledge will continue its exponential growth in this language and we need to build on our advantage in English from the colonial era. Shortage of master trainers will require importing talent and where better to find it economically than India. Even more important is the provision of fast internet access nationally in neighborhood community cybercafés — that double up as cultural centers.

 

Large-scale provision of inexpensive multi-media projectors in institutions would allow students to view off-line programs of the best teachers globally with the local teacher acting as a facilitator. Our teachers and professors should use them as role models, while weaving the knowledge from the Net into the Pakistani context for their students. Above all we need a rethinking of the curriculum across the board, cognizant of the amazing range and quality of knowledge now on the Net.

 

Pakistan’s radio and TV are largely news and entertainment outlets than need redirection towards worthier goals of enlightening, lifelong learning. The models of the BBC in the UK and PBS and NPR in the USA – live and on the Net – can show us how this can be achieved. Such tools of the new media will help achieve full literacy in the country faster than the mere 5 years that it took some South American countries to do so using the ideas of Paulo Friere.

 

I conclude with brief reference to three commonly voiced concerns: energy, human and environmental security.

 

Instead of lurching forward into dangerous technologies such as nuclear and coal, we need to focus on our natural abundance of sunshine and hydropower (about which much has been written). While wind technology needs exploration, the area calling for immediate implementation is solar thermal, i.e. direct capture of heat energy from the sun’s rays to turn turbines for power generation – an option cheaper than wind energy. It has the advantage of our engineers accomplishing this largely themselves. At the other end, appropriate technologies such as green roofs (or simply oil painting or installing reflective high insulation tiling) could cool our homes and reduce cost, as can improving efficiency of industry, vehicles and other energy guzzlers. Some complex problems have cheap, simple solutions, see: http://tinyurl.com/kg4ows4.

 

Human security issues require that we establish not just peace but cordial relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran and open our borders to free exchange of people and commerce. Let’s be honest and admit that Kashmir cannot be snatched from India – ask the experienced retired general under house-arrest in his farmhouse in Islamabad [Musharraf]! Money for wasteful military gadgets can then be diverted towards human development.

 

Human security would be best advanced by providing decent livelihood to the poor and disadvantaged — gimmicks such as the expensive Income Support Program will fail. What are needed are low-cost projects which provide employment and honorable income for the multitudes of unskilled and uneducated, coupled with literacy and skills training. One such project ought to be for countrywide reforestation – green cover is well below 5% of the land-area; it ought to be at least 5 times higher. The environmental and social benefits of it would be enormous.

 

Publicity-attracting expensive mega-projects have been dear to our leaders. The real skill of wise leaders, though, lies in generating a sense of self-worth among the citizens. Ensuring self sufficiency through transforming the country from the bottom up is the way. The new government must take up this challenge.

 

The author is an Islamabad-based physicist and environmentalist.

 

 

 

India Bihar rapes ’caused by lack of toilets’ #Vaw


By Amarnath TewaryPatna, Bihar, BBC

Toilet in India villageMore than half-a-billion Indians lack access to basic sanitation
 

Most of the cases of rape of women and girls in India’s Bihar state occur when they go out to defecate in the open, police and social activists say.

Some 85% of the rural households in the state, one of India’s poorest, have no access to a toilet, a study says.

The police reported more than 870 cases of rape in Bihar last year.

More than half-a-billion Indians lack access to basic sanitation. Many do not have access to flush toilets or other latrines.

The issue of sexual violence against women and girls in India has been under intense scrutiny since the gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus in December led to widespread protests.

In March, India passed a new bill containing harsher punishments, including the death penalty, for rapists.

‘Worrisome trend’

There have been a number of recent cases where women and girls have been raped in Bihar after they stepped out of their homes to defecate:

  • On 5 May, an 11-year-old girl was raped in Mai village in Jehanabad district when she was going to the field at night
  • On 28 April, a young girl was abducted and raped when she had gone out to defecate in an open field in Kalapur village in Naubatpur, 35km (21 miles) from the state capital, Patna
  • On 24 April, another girl was raped in similar circumstances on a farm in Chaunniya village in Sheikhpura district. She told the police that two villagers had followed and raped her. One of them has been arrested.

Senior police official Arvind Pandey told the BBC that such cases happen every month in Bihar.

“They take place when women step out to defecate early in the morning and late evening. It is a very worrisome trend.”

Mr Pandey said that about 400 women would have “escaped” rape last year if they had toilets in their homes.

A recent study by global health organisation Population Service International (PSI) and Monitor Delloitte, done in collaboration with Water for People, said that Bihar had India’s poorest sanitation indicators with 85% rural households having no access to toilets.

The report added that 49% of the households that did not have a toilet wanted one for “safety and security”.

Some 45% wanted a toilet for “convenience”, while 4% wanted one for “privacy”.

“Surprisingly, only 1% indicated health as a motivator for having a toilet,” the report said.

The Bihar government says it plans to provide toilets to more than 10 million households in the state by 2022 under a federal scheme.

A law making toilets mandatory has been introduced in several states as part of the “sanitation for all” drive by the Indian government.

Special funds are made available for people to construct toilets to promote hygiene and eradicate the practice of faeces collection – or scavenging – which is mainly carried out by low-caste people.

Kofi Annan: Africa plundered by secret mining deals


Bauxite factory in mineral-rich Guinea (Archive shot) Under-pricing deprives Africa of much-needed money, the report says
BBC

Tax avoidance, secret mining deals and financial transfers are depriving Africa of the benefits of its resources boom, ex-UN chief Kofi Annan has said.

Firms that shift profits to lower tax jurisdictions cost Africa $38bn (£25bn) a year, says a report produced by a panel he heads.

“Africa loses twice as much money through these loopholes as it gets from donors,” Mr Annan told the BBC.

It was like taking food off the tables of the poor, he said.

The Africa Progress Report is released every May – produced by a panel of 10 prominent figures, including former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Graca Machel, the wife of South African ex-President Nelson Mandela.

‘Highly opaque’

African countries needed to improve governance and the world’s richest nations should help introduce global rules on transparency and taxation, Mr Annan said.

The report gave the Democratic Republic of Congo as an example, where between 2010 and 2012 five under-priced mining concessions were sold in “highly opaque and secretive deals”.

Kofi Annan: “Transparency is a powerful tool”

This cost the country, which the charity Save the Children said earlier this week was the world’s worst place to be a mother, $1.3bn in revenues.

This figure was equivalent to double DR Congo’s health and education budgets combined, the report said.

DR Congo’s mining minister disputed the findings, saying the country had “lost nothing”.

“These assets were ceded in total transparency,” Martin Kabwelulu told Reuters news agency.

The report added that many mineral-rich countries needed “urgently to review the design of their tax regimes”, which were designed to attract foreign investment when commodity prices were low.

It quotes a review in Zambia which found that between 2005 and 2009, 500,000 copper mine workers were paying a higher rate of tax than major multinational mining firms.

Africa loses more through what it calls “illicit outflows” than it gets in aid and foreign direct investment, it explains.

“We are not getting the revenues we deserve often because of either corrupt practices, transfer pricing, tax evasion and all sorts of activities that deprive us of our due,” Mr Annan told the BBC’s Newsday programme.

“Transparency is a powerful tool,” he said, adding that the report was urging African leaders to put “accountability centre stage”.

Mr Annan said African governments needed to insist that local companies became involved in mining deals and manage them in “such a way that it also creates employment”.

“This Africa cannot do alone. The tax evasion, avoidance, secret bank accounts are problems for the world… so we all need to work together particularly the G8, as they meet next month, to work to ensure we have a multilateral solution to this crisis,” he said.

For richer nations “if a company avoids tax or transfers the money to offshore account what they lose is revenues”, Mr Annan said.

“Here on our continent, it affects the life of women and children – in effect in some situations it is like taking food off the table for the poor.”

 

BBC Tactics in Covering North Korea Are Faulted


By 
Published: April 14, 2013, NYT
BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place at the ...

BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place at the head of Regent Street, London (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As tensions escalated between North Korea and the world late last month, a small group of students from the prestigious London School of Economics crossed the border into the reclusive country for what was described by organizers as a government-sanctioned “week of sight seeing, meeting with ministers, government officials” and academics.

 But among the students, the university announced in an outraged statement over the weekend, were three BBC journalists filming an undercover documentary. The BBC, the university said, “deliberately misled” the group to underplay the scope of the reporting, placed the students in danger and jeopardized its work in politically fraught nations. It demanded that the BBC pull the film, set for broadcast on Monday, and issue an apology.

The BBC declined, saying that the documentary on a country so few people understand was in the public interest. And in a statement released Sunday, the BBC disputed the university’s account. It said the students had been told that a journalist would be present “and were reminded of it again, in time to have been able to change their plans if they wanted to.”

But the BBC, which the university says actually sent three journalists, also later acknowledged that it had not told the students of the nature of the documentary, in what it characterized as a bid to keep them safe if the journalists were found out and the students were questioned about what they knew.

Although at least some tourists are now allowed into the police state, reporters need government permission to work there and are assigned minders. In 2009 two American journalists, Laura Ling, then 32, and Euna Lee, then 36, were arrested and sentenced to 12 years of hard labor after being accused of illegally entering North Korean territory while researching a report on women and human trafficking. They were spared the prospect of years in a brutal gulag when former President Bill Clinton flew to Pyongyang and negotiated their release four months later.

Alex Peters-Day, the lead student representative for the university, said Sunday that students had received e-mails from the North Korean government on their return saying that it had learned that reporters were with the group and was very angry. Ms. Peters-Day disputed the BBC version of events, saying the students had not been given enough information to give informed consent.

Craig Calhoun, the university’s director, said in a post on Twitter that the trip “was not an official LSE trip.” He said the BBC had essentially recruited some students in a university-affiliated student international relations group, the Grimshaw Club, and had “passed it off” as a student trip.

Ms. Peters-Day said that students had received an e-mail suggesting the trip from one of the BBC journalists, Tomiko Sweeney, who is married to the lead reporter on the documentary, John Sweeney, and is a former LSE student. Mr. Sweeney did not respond to a message left on his cellphone, but said, in a BBC radio interview and on Twitter that he disputed the school’s allegations. There was no answer at a London number listed for the couple.

Ceri Thomas, the BBC’s head of news, said Sunday that though the trip had been organized by Mr. Sweeney’s wife, it “was going to happen before the BBC got involved.” The students were warned of the dangers in two meetings in London and again in Beijing, he said. “The only people we deceived,” he said of the documentary, “was the North Korean government. And if the students were in on that deception they were in a worse position.”

The public interest argument for the documentary was “overwhelming,” Mr. Thomas said. North Korea is “a country that is hidden from view, where we suspect that brutal things are happening, one of the most oppressive regimes on the planet which is threatening nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula.”

The standoff marks the second time this year that the world’s delicate diplomatic dance with North Korea over its escalating nuclear threats has been disturbed by a television crew. In late February, the magazine Vice sent the former Chicago Bulls star Dennis Rodman to Pyongyang to meet the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, an avid basketball fan, for a documentary series it is producing in collaboration with HBO.

That heavily covered visit, after the country’s latest nuclear test in defiance of world powers, allowed the young Mr. Kim to present himself — at least to his people — as someone who is respected outside his country.
The BBC’s Mr. Sweeney is a veteran television reporter famed for his tangles with the Church of Scientology. The North Korean guides, the university said, called him “professor.”

The documentary, titled “North Korea Undercover” and part of the BBC’s flagship Panorama series, shows a “landscape bleak beyond words, a people brainwashed for three generations and a regime happy to give the impression of marching towards Armageddon,” according to the BBC’s Web site. Unlike Mr. Rodman, Mr. Sweeney appears not to have gained access to the North Korean inner circle.

Stephen J. A. Ward, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, expressed surprise that the BBC had chosen to report the story as it did, though he acknowledged that undercover journalism is a widely accepted practice in Britain. “You have to be able to say ‘there is no other way we can get this story,’ and that you’re not putting other people in danger,” he said.

The Associated Press has had a bureau in Pyongyang since 2012.

Universities UK, a body that represents British universities, criticized the BBC on Sunday.

“The way that this BBC investigation was conducted might not only have put students’ safety at risk,” Nicola Dandridge, the group’s chief executive, told reporters, “but may also have damaged our universities’ reputations overseas.”

Late last year, the BBC’s ethical standards were questioned when it emerged that one of its presenters, Jimmy Savile, had faced accusations of sexual abuse spanning his long career. The BBC had declined to broadcast a news investigation into the accusations, but did broadcast two glowing tributes to Mr. Savile after his death in 2011.

The London School of Economics became embroiled in difficulties of its own with an oppressive regime when it emerged in 2011 that it had close links with the government of Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, including accepting training contracts worth millions and a donation from the dictator’s son Seif al-Islam Qaddafi. It eventually diverted the money to a scholarship fund for North African students.

#India – Africans complain of discrimination in Mumbai


BBC News

Sambo Davis and his wife Sheeba RaniSheeba Rani has been ostracised by many friends and relatives for marrying Nigerian Sambo Davis

Africans staying in and around India‘s commercial capital, Mumbai (Bombay), complain of indiscriminate racism and constant police harassment, reports the BBC’s Zubair Ahmed.

Nigerian Sambo Davis is married to an Indian woman and lives in Mumbai.

All his documents are valid, but he was arrested by the police recently on suspicion of being a drug dealer.

He and 30 other black Africans were detained for hours before they were let off with an apology.

But the following day, Mr Davis said that he was shocked to read in local newspapers that they were “arrested for drug peddling”.

“The police treat us Africans like dogs,” he says.

Mr Davis claims he often faces discrimination when he goes to restaurants or when he tries to rent an apartment in gated middle-class communities.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Ikeorah Junior

If Africans don’t have papers, then deport them, don’t put them in jail”

Ikeorah JuniorNigerian cafe owner in Mumbai

But he is nevertheless one of the lucky ones. He found a decent flat to rent, thanks to his Indian wife.

But his fellow countrymen, he says, still face discrimination: “When they go to rent flats in a normal building they are told – ‘you are a black man, you are Nigerian, and you are not wanted’. This is racism.”

‘Hide and seek’

There is no official data on how many Africans live in Mumbai, but since India’s economic progress gathered momentum in recent years, many have come to work in and around the city. Unofficial estimates put their numbers at more than 5,000.

Most of them are engaged in exporting garments to Nigeria and other African countries.

Many others are students, enrolled in the region’s prestigious educational institutions.

But there are also hundreds of Africans, mostly Nigerians, who live as illegal immigrants in India. They have either “lost” their passports or their visas have “expired”.

Every day, these people play hide-and-seek with the police – if they are caught, they are sent to jail.

Ikeorah Junior from Lagos runs a cafe for Africans in a crowded market on Mumbai’s Mohammed Ali Road.

“I don’t understand why they [police] have to go from house to house to arrest the people who don’t have their papers. If they don’t have papers, then deport them, don’t put them in jail,” he says.

Ahmed Javed, who is in charge of maintaining law and order in the state of Maharashtra, says it is not that simple: “In most cases they have no passports. So, unless their nationalities are determined, they cannot be deported.”

Dozens of Africans have taken up residence on Mira Road, a dusty, nondescript town just outside Mumbai.

One “illegal immigrant” there asked me for money, claiming he had not eaten for two days.

He looked worried and told me that he had been approached by drug dealers to work for them.

African man in Mumbai streetMany Africans face discrimination when they try to rent apartments

“I have been here for three years – my visa expired a long time ago. I want to go back home. Please help me, brother,” he tells me.

In this neighbourhood, Negro or kaalia (black in Hindi) are the two words indiscriminately used to describe all black people.

“We call them Negro because they are black. They look frightening,” says one woman.

“They don’t find homes to rent in Mumbai, they only stay in Mira Road. Why? Because of the way they behave. They sell drugs and indulge in other illegal activities. They cannot be trusted,” a local man commented, seemingly unaware of the offensive nature of his words.

‘Embarrassed and ashamed’

Against such a backdrop of pronounced prejudice, Sheeba Rani married Sambo Davis four years ago and the couple have two children.

Mrs Davis says her parents are enlightened Christians and they blessed them because they thought the marriage was God’s wish.

But, she says, she has been ostracised by many friends, relatives and society since her marriage.

Mrs Davis is “embarrassed and ashamed” by the behaviour of the Indian people towards black Africans.

Wedding picture of Sheeba Rani and Sambo DavisSheeba Rani’s parents blessed the couple saying the marriage was God’s wish

“When I used to go to a mall or if I walked with him, I always wanted him to hold my hand. But when people saw me with him, they thought I was from a bad family or even a prostitute.”

Earlier, she did not understand why black people were being looked down upon, but now she says she does.

“Because our society is obsessed with white skin. If I had married a white man, I would have gained more friends and society’s approval too.”

Mr Davis believes that the discrimination is solely “because I am a black man”.

“It’s because I am from Africa, I am a Nigerian. I think Indians see us as inferior.”

Yet despite the discrimination they face, nearly all Africans the BBC interviewed said they had a soft spot for their adopted country.

They say the relations between India and Africa are “rock solid”. Many argued that Indians and Africans are brothers.

“We look after Indians in our countries. They have become rich there. All we want here is for Indians to understand we are not drug dealers. We are not violent. We are just like them.”

Your Laughter by Chilean Poet Pablo Neruda


laughter

Poster by  Kamayani Bali Mahabal

 

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
… do not take from me your laughter.

Do not take away the rose,
the lance flower that you pluck,
the water that suddenly
bursts forth in joy,
the sudden wave
of silver born in you.

My struggle is harsh and I come back
with eyes tired
at times from having seen
the unchanging earth,
but when your laughter enters
it rises to the sky seeking me
and it opens for me all
the doors of life.

My love, in the darkest
hour your laughter
opens, and if suddenly
you see my blood staining
the stones of the street,
laugh, because your laughter
will be for my hands
like a fresh sword.

Next to the sea in the autumn,
your laughter must raise
its foamy cascade,
and in the spring, love,
I want your laughter like
the flower I was waiting for,
the blue flower, the rose
of my echoing country.

Laugh at the night,
at the day, at the moon,
laugh at the twisted
streets of the island,
laugh at this clumsy
boy who loves you,
but when I open
my eyes and close them,
when my steps go,
when my steps return,
deny me bread, air,
light, spring,
but never your laughter
for I would die.

Pablo Neruda

 

Pakistan’s Ashraf government makes history


Raja Pervez Ashraf (June 2012)PM Raja Pervez Ashraf is facing corruption allegations
BBC

Pakistan‘s PM has hailed as “a victory” for democracy the completion of a full term by an elected government for the first time in the country’s history.

“No-one will be able to harm democracy in future,” Raja Pervez Ashraf said.

An interim government will now be installed until the next election, which is expected to be held in May.

Since Pakistan was founded in 1947, government were often overthrown in coups, toppled by political infighting or end in assassinations or murders.

But overhanging the democratic transition is the continuing militancy and growing sectarian unrest, the BBC’s Mike Wooldridge in Islamabad says.

‘No rivers of milk and honey'”There is a long history of tussle between the democratic and undemocratic forces in Pakistan, but the democratic forces have finally achieved a victory,” Mr Ashraf said in a televised address to the nation.

He added that Pakistan had finally managed to strengthen “the foundations of democracy”.

And admitting that his governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) may not have been “able to provide rivers of milk and honey”, the prime minister said it had tried its best to alleviate the country’s problems.

Residents walk through debris after a bombing in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo: February 2013Pakistan continues to be racked by sectarian violence and Taliban insurgency

Mr Ashraf also promised that the forthcoming elections would be free and fair, and said he hoped the parties would reach consensus “amicably” on which of the rival candidates should head the caretaker cabinet.

Pakistan’s parliament was dissolved at midnight local time (19:00) GMT, and the interim administration is expected to be installed in the next few days.

Two opposition parties – led by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former cricket star Imran Khan – are expected to present the greatest challenge to the PPP in the elections.

At the same time, Mr Ashraf is facing a corruption investigation over allegations that he took bribes while he was a minister.

Mr Ashraf, who became prime minister after his predecessor was forced out amid a dispute with the judiciary, has been in the job for less than a year.

 

#Censorship row as BBC cuts the Major’s ‘racist’ lines from classic Fawlty Towers episode


  • Viewers complain that only the ‘terminally thin-skinned’ could be offended by the character
  • BBC said it was edited to suit a family audience to reflect changing attitudes

By LAURA COX

PUBLISHED: 23:49 GMT, 22 January 2013 |

It is the episode of Fawlty Towers best remembered for the line ‘Don’t mention the war’ and John Cleese’s silly walk when impersonating Hitler.

The references have proved controversial before, but when The Germans was repeated on BBC2 on Sunday evening it wasn’t our European neighbours that the corporation was worried about offending.

Instead, the episode was edited to omit racist language – only for some viewers to then complain that the BBC was ‘airbrushing history’.

Scroll down to see the clips

'Don't mention the war': John Cleese as Basil Fawlty giving an Adolf Hitler impression to German guests, with Polly in the background played by Connie Booth‘Don’t mention the war’: John Cleese as Basil Fawlty giving an Adolf Hitler impression to German guests, with Polly in the background played by Connie Booth

The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers was voted number 11 in Channel 4¿s One Hundred Greatest TV Moments in 1999The Germans episode of Fawlty Towers was voted number 11 in Channel 4¿s One Hundred Greatest TV Moments in 1999

In one scene one of the hotel’s permanent residents, Major Gowen, uses derogatory terms to describe black people. It was included in the episode’s first airing in October 1975, but this time around the major’s words were edited out.

The scene involves Basil Fawlty and the major, played by actor Ballard Berkeley, exchanging their normal pleasantries before the conversation moves on to Basil’s wife Sybil and women in general.

The major tells Fawlty about the time he took a woman to see India play cricket  at the Oval. He then says: ‘The strange thing was, throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. “No, no, no,” I said, “the niggers are the West Indians. These people are wogs”.’

Several years ago there were concerns that the episode would never be shown again because of the offensive words. However, recent editions of The Complete Fawlty Towers DVD, distributed by BBC Worldwide, have not been edited and included the segment that was cut by the BBC on Sunday.

Some fans took to the BBC’s Points Of View message board yesterday to say they ‘despaired’ at the ‘unnecessary’ editing.

One wrote: ‘You can’t airbrush history away and I doubt if anyone but the terminally thin-skinned could be offended by the major, a character we’re clearly supposed to laugh at rather than with.’

Ballard Berkeley as the Major Gowen, who makes the offensive remark. Viewers said that the 'bigoted character' was meant to be laughed at - not withBallard Berkeley as the Major Gowen, who makes the offensive remark. Viewers said that the ‘bigoted character’ was meant to be laughed at – not with

Another posted: ‘The point is that the major is a racist old bigot, incongruous with modern society – even in the Seventies. The audience isn’t supposed to agree with him, they’re supposed to laugh at him. The whole episode is about xenophobia in various forms – it’s social satire. I instinctively dislike the airbrushing of history.’

A third viewer wrote: ‘So how sad BBC you have finally succumbed and lost the guts to transmit the episode of Fawlty Towers “The Germans” in its original form. The major’s speech of his experience of going out with a woman to the Oval is one of the funniest things ever.

‘You edited it because it includes the W-word and the N-word. Let’s face it, the whole episode and much of Fawlty Towers is racist by today’s standards and misogynistic, but above all it is hilarious.

‘We are all grown up, you know. We, the vast majority of us, can laugh at this without being racists.

‘It’s about time you grew up BBC, and trusted your audience. We know what is acceptable and what is not and what is funny and why, and the fact it is of a time which is now long past. We understand context, the major is a figure of fun, he doesn’t whip up hatred.’

Fawlty Towers was written by and starred Cleese and his then wife Connie Booth. The Germans was the sixth episode of the 12 that were made and was voted number 11 in Channel 4’s One Hundred Greatest TV Moments in 1999.

The series has continued to entertain families since being made in the 1970s and was in 2000 voted by industry professionals to be the best British series of all time.

A BBC spokesman said: ‘We are very proud of Fawlty Towers and its contribution to British television comedy.

‘But public attitudes have changed significantly since it was made and it was decided to make some minor changes, with the consent of John Cleese’s management, to allow the episode to transmit to a family audience at 7.30pm on BBC2.’

CENSORED Cleeses’s ‘Hitler Walk’ was previously deemed one of greatest moments of TV

 

The rapes that India forgot #Vaw


 

Anti-rape protest in Delhi on 3 Jan 2012
The BBC;s Geeta Pandey in Delhi remembers some of the prominent rape cases which made the headlines when they happened, but have now faded from the public memory.
 There have been widespread protests in India since the 16 December gang rape

Last month’s brutal gang rape of a young woman in the Indian capital, Delhi, has caught public attention and caused worldwide outrage. But here, the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi recalls other prominent cases which made the headlines, then faded from public memory.

On most days, Indian newspapers report shocking new atrocities – a 10-month-old raped by a neighbour in Delhi; an 18-month-old raped and abandoned on the streets in Calcutta; a 14-year-old raped and murdered in a police station in Uttar Pradesh; a husband facilitating his own wife’s gang rape in Howrah; a 65-year-old grandmother raped in Kharagpur.

But in a country where a rape is reported every 21 minutes, even these most horrific of crimes soon get forgotten – except by the victims and their families.

“Start Quote

Just drafting a better law will not be enough, it’s the society which has to change”

Indira Jaisingh Additional solicitor general

They are left to fight their long lonely battles for justice which, more often than not, is denied to them.

Travesty of justice

One of the most painful and lingering cases is that of the Mumbai nurse Aruna Shanbaug.

Aruna Shanbaug Aruna Shanbaug was left brain dead by the attack and remains in a vegetative state

Sodomised by a cleaner in the hospital where she worked, the 25-year-old was strangled with metal chains and left to die by her attacker, Sohanlal Bharta Walmiki, on 27 November 1973.

She was saved and survives, but barely so. For the past 39 years she has been lying in a hospital bed in a vegetative state, brain dead, unable to recognise anyone, unable to speak, unable to perform even the most basic of tasks.

“He was not even charged for raping her,” says journalist and author Pinki Virani, who wrote Aruna’s Story, a book on the nurse’s plight.

So Walmiki was given a light seven-year-sentence for robbery and attempted murder.

In what can be described as a real travesty of justice, while a brain dead Aruna remains confined to a hospital room, her attacker roams free – out of jail and able to rebuild his life.

Ms Virani told the BBC that she tried hard to track him down, but remained unsuccessful.

“I was told that he had changed his name and was working as a ward boy in a Delhi hospital. The hospital where he had sodomised Aruna and left her in this permanent vegetative condition had never kept a photo of him on file. Neither did the court papers,” she said.

Aruna is not alone – her story is repeated with a frightening regularity across the length and breadth of the country.

India shamed

Violence against women is deeply entrenched in the feudal, patriarchal Indian society, where for the rapist, every woman is fair game.

In 2003, the country was shamed when a 28-year-old Swiss diplomat was forced into her own car by two men in south Delhi’s posh Siri Fort area and raped by one of them. The rapist, whom she described as being fluent in English, spoke to her about Switzerland and is believed to have even lectured her on Indian culture.

Sonam (in the orange shawl) Sonam, 14, (in orange) was raped and murdered in a police station

In 2004 in Manipur, 32-year-old Manorama was taken away from home by the soldiers of Assam Rifles who accused her of helping insurgents. A few hours later, her mutilated body was found by the roadside, her pelvis riddled with dozens of bullets.

Last year, 14-year-old Sonam was raped and killed inside a police station in Uttar Pradesh.

During the 2002 riots in Gujarat, a number of Muslim women were gang-raped, and campaign groups routinely accuse the security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir and the troubled north-east of using rape as a weapon to punish the entire community.

In May 2009, Indian-administered Kashmir witnessed 47 days of violent protests and strikes after two young women were raped and murdered, allegedly by police, in Shopian town.

And in Chhattisgarh, Soni Sori has been in police custody since October 2011 when she was arrested on charges of being a courier for the Maoists. She has alleged in the Supreme Court that while in custody, she has been raped and stones have been shoved inside her vagina.

Most of these victims are still waiting for justice, sometimes years after the crimes have been committed.

The rapists sometimes escape with a light sentence because a judge accepts their argument that they committed the crime because they were drunk, or that they were living away from their family, or they had a family to look after, or that the accused was a high-caste man who could not rape a Dalit – low caste – woman.

‘No magic formula’

The Additional Solicitor General of India, Indira Jaisingh, says the current rape laws in the country are far from adequate and the “process of justice delivery is too slow and the rate of conviction too low”.

“We have to improve the crime investigation methodology, we have to make it more scientific and quick. In India a case takes so long to conclude that witnesses get dissipated, memory frays and conviction becomes tougher.”

She says many cases do not even get to court because there is a stigma attached to rape, and families would often discourage their daughters from complaining.

A graffiti on a Delhi wall on 4 January 2012 A rape is reported every 21 minutes in India

Ms Jaisingh says that just drafting a better law will not be enough, it is society which has to change.

“There is no magic formula to deal with the problem of rape. There’s a bias that operates in the mind of decision makers – stereotyping women, blaming the victim, trying to find out if she invited the rape.”

But every once in a while, an incident happens which ignites a spark.

The first such incident in India occurred in 1972 when Mathura, a 16-year-old tribal girl, was raped by two policemen inside a police station.

The courts set free the accused – they said she did not raise an alarm, she was not injured, and since she was sexually active, she would have “voluntarily” consented to sex.

Howls of angry protests from activists led to the government amending the anti-rape law in 1983 to accommodate the provision that if a victim says that she did not consent to sex, the court will believe her.

The outpouring of anger and grief after the recent Delhi incident has also given rise to hopes that things are about to change in India.

The government has formed a committee under retired Supreme Court Justice JS Verma to take a fresh look at the anti-rape law.

Justice Verma has invited suggestion from the public and his inbox is reported to be full of demands for the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists. Many are also calling for longer jail sentences of up to 30 years or even life in jail.

But campaigners say laws alone may not be able to solve the problem in a society which treats its women as “second-class citizens” and regards them inferior to men.

They say until social attitudes change and women are respected and treated as equals, the gains from the protests will be shortlived.

 

Suspect’s sister apologizes for shooting of Malala


Rehana Haleem (left), who has apologised to Malala Yousafzai

Source: Independent | Andrew Buncombe

The sister of a man suspected of being involved in the shooting of the Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai has apologised for the attack, saying her brother has brought shame upon the family.

In an interview with a television channel conducted in the Swat Valley, Rehana Haleem said that the teenager who had fought for the right of young girls to be educated was like a “sister” to her. Her brother, 23-year-old Attah Ullah Khan, is one of three people police have indicated they are looking for in connection with the attack.

“Please convey a message to Malala, that I apologise for what my brother did to her,” Ms Haleem told CNN. “He has brought shame on our family.”

The young woman added: “What he did was intolerable. Malala is just like my sister. I’d like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family; I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible.”

Malala, 15, was shot on 9 October as she and her classmates were on their school bus in the Swat Valley, which was under the control of the Taliban between 2007-09. Gunmen leapt aboard and demanded that the youngsters identify Malala. Three girls were shot – two of her friends who suffered non-lethal injuries and Malala herself who was struck by a bullet that passed through skin on her head and lodged in her shoulder. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.

Amid the subsequent outcry, the Taliban sought to justify its actions, saying Malala had engaged with Western elements. They also blamed the media for its “negative” coverage of the shooting.

Malala, who first came to public notice when at the age of 11 she wrote an anonymous diary for the BBC during the period the Taliban held control of the Swat Valley, was rushed to hospital where doctors operated to stabilise her and to remove the bullet. Once it became clear she would require extensive rehabilitation she was flown to Britain, where she is undergoing treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

It was reported this week that Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, spoke with officials at the hospital for an update on the teenager’s condition and was told she was gradually improving.

Ms Haleem told CNN that security forces searched the family home a day after the attack and that the family was detained. She was pregnant and was subsequently released but her husband and other relatives remain in custody. Speaking from Warhi Mast Malik Abad, a village on the outskirts of the city of Mingora, where the attack on Malala took place, she said she had little doubt that her brother was involved in the shooting.

“If he was innocent, he would have come back and claimed he was innocent,” she said. “His behaviour is that of a guilty man. How could he abandon us?” Police said last month that they had arrested six men in connection with the shooting but were still searching for Mr Khan.

 

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