Parallel hearings on khaki reforms after cop excesses #policereforms

, TNN | Apr 22, 2013, 12.45 AM IST

NEW DELHI: Even as the police reforms issue has been lying dormant before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir, anotherSupreme Court bench, this one headed by Justice G S Singhvi, has taken up the same matter with visible urgency. Responding to police excesses, Singhvi intervened in the implementation of the 2006 judgment on police reforms, although such monitoring had been done throughout by a succession of CJIs.

Thanks to Singhvi’s activism, all the states and union territories, which have been dragging their feet for years, suddenly find themselves accountable at the same time to two different benches.

Singhvi’s bench is also pushing them harder as it has already held three hearings this month, since it had ordered the states and UTs on March 11 to file affidavits within two weeks on the implementation of the six directions in the 2006 verdict. The next hearing before it is on April 25, when the petitioner in the original police reforms case, former DGP of UP and BSF Prakash Singh, is due to give his assessment on the glitches in the implementation of the first direction, namely, the creation of the state security commission to insulate the police from political interference.

In contrast, Kabir’s bench has heard the case only once ever since he had assumed office as CJI in September 2012. In that solitary hearing which took place in October, Kabir, however, steered clear of the contempt proceedings which had been initiated against four major states by his predecessor, Justice S H Kapadia. Rather than building on the progress made in the case by earlier CJIs, Kabir’s bench issued fresh notices to all the states and UTs for their status reports. The matter has since been listed thrice (the last time being on April 16) but Kabir’s bench never got around to hearing it on any of those occasions.

Meanwhile, the provocation for the entry of Singhvi’s bench into this case was a couple of police excesses in March on successive days: Punjab police beat up a woman in public in Taran Taran while their Bihar counterparts lathi-charged a procession of contractual teachers. On March 6, Singhvi’s bench took cognizance of the press reports on those two incidents and appointed senior advocates Harish Salve and U U Lalit as amicus curiae. Five days later, this suo motu intervention into two specific instances of police highhandedness enlarged into parallel proceedings on police reforms. Besides giving notices to all the states and UTs, the bench comprising Justices Singhvi and Kurian Joseph appointed two more amicus curiae: Prakash Singh and attorney general G E Vahanvati.

This unforeseen development has raised expectations that the Supreme Court would at last pursue the police reforms implementation with the seriousness it deserved. Given the difference individual judges could make, civil society activists hope that Singhvi would help break the deadlock on police reforms before his retirement by this year-end. Since Kabir himself is due to retire in July shortly after the summer break, it remains to be seen if he would formally transfer the police reforms case to Singhvi’s bench, to end the anomaly of parallel proceedings.


Demand to reduce age of juvenility in heinous crimes unjustified, says Minna Kabir

Aneesha Mathur : New Delhi, Sat Jan 05 2013, 02:39 hrs

At a time when there’s a chorus for showing no leniency to the juvenile among the six arrested for the gangrape of the 23-year-old woman who later died in a Singapore hospital, children’s rights workers are cautioning that laws should not be bent simply because there is public outrage.

Minna Kabir, voluntary children’s rights worker who has long been associated with the legal aid cell at the juvenile justice boards in Delhi, said: “The law says it is not the crime that matters, it is the child standing before you that matters.”

“Why should we treat him as different from other children? If a child has committed a crime, it means society has failed him in one way or another and needs to think about his reform and rehabilitation,” said Kabir whose husband Altamas Kabir is the Chief Justice of India.

She said calls for reducing the age of juvenility for those accused of heinous crimes are unjustified.

“We should strike a balance in our thinking. Instead of reacting with hysteria, various people should come up with constructive ideas to combat the systemic failure that leads to criminality. There is need for proper education, counselling of these children. Society seems to encourage sex, advertisements today are full of sexual situations, we are losing values and that is why such cases are happening,” Kabir said.

Professor Ved Kumari, expert on juvenile justice law and ex-chairperson of the Delhi Judicial Academy, said: “Let our outrage at the absence of safe spaces for women not blind us to the absence of care to children.”

Raaj Mangal Prasad, former chairperson of the child welfare committee, cautioned against a “knee jerk reaction”. “A change in the law will have a negative impact on all children who are in vulnerable positions. What will you do if a 13-year-old is accused of rape and murder?” he said.


Akanksha NGO, founded by Shaheen Mistry, Ashoka Fellow, violates RTE Act #discrimination

“Akansha founded by ashoka fellow by Shaheen mistry is running a BMC school in kala chowki , mumbai where they are violating all the sections of Right to Education Act , I made formal complaint regading this to variouse authorities , due to this they are discriminating my son Kabir and today they have not taken Kabir to the picnic and they kept kabir in the school alone , this is the shameful act on the part of Akansha and Shaheen Mistry . “-Shakil Ahmed , contact,9969925602

Dear Shaheen Mistry,

I am a father of a six- year old boy, who, like thousand other parents has been anxious about finding a best educational institution for my child. As a law-practioner and a civil rights activist for over two decades, I have been working on a very close quarters with the education system. One such cause that I have invested my life in is trying to bring in accountability and transparency in state run educational institutions. I along with eight- nine other members, run Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha since 1997, and have been fighting to overcome lack of education facilities for children in the slums of Sangam Nagar, Wadala (east). Our NGO has ensured that a civic school was built in this area in 2006, following a Public Interest Litigation. Akanksha and Parivartan has worked together in the past.Akanksha helped us focus on the quality of education.

So when my son Kabir turned six this year, I knew, keeping all his constitutional rights intact, I had to zero down on one of the near- by schools. I too, like lakhs of parents wished to enroll him in an English medium school. But after several months of research and rejections, I was hit by hard and pressing reality that the admission process in most schools violates every premise of Right to Education Act. I then turned to your organization- Akanksha. And to my shock your school, too, did exactly what private educational institutions did.

Running you through my experience:

Over a month ago my wife Shabana had gone to Prabhud Nagar Municipal School (English medium) Cotton Green, to admit our son Kabir in 1st standard. One of social worker in School run by Akansha, NGO informed   that all seats were already full. When we pressurized to admit out child citing the Right to Education Act, they told that they do not take the students residing outside 1 km. Thus School Authority turned my son away on the ground that we reside outside 1 km. from school.

We wanted to know the admission beginning and closure details but Akansha refused to disclose and said that they have taken admission of Senior K.G students then we asked the detail list of students admitted with their residence address. My wife wanted in writing the reasons for denial of admission but she was not given then my wife gave a letter in writing stating that we had visited school for admission of our son but they refused to take that too. We lodged a complaint before Commissioner of Municipal on the same day.

On July 19, 2012, I was called by one social worker from Akansha organization who informed me that they have been directed by Administrative Officer (School) to admit my son. On July 20, 2012, I visited the school for admission and met Ms. Chitra, Principal of school. Ms. Chitra asked me to come the next day as there was a shortage of staffs in school and she was finding it difficult in carrying out formalities of filling up the forms. I told her that I have come there on receiving a phone call and can hardly find time out of my busy schedule and insisted for admission filling up form myself in absence of the staffs. This is in sheer violation of Section 8(d) and 9(f) which enshrines the duty of the Appropriate Government and Local Authority respectively to provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning material. She interrogated me about my son’s previous schooling upon which I replied that he had not attended school previously. She refused to admit him for not having previous schooling background. I wanted to come back on their refusal on which she agreed to give admission and asked me to wait as she had no idea about form fill up and called staffs from head office.

After half an hour, two ladies staffs came from head office who advised me to put my son in senior K.G as he would not be able to cope up with other student having schooling background. I shall again point over here that in refusing my son to admit in Class I, Ms. Chitra violated section 4 of the Act wherein a child above six years of age has not been admitted in any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age. The proviso to the section says that such child shall have a right to receive special training, in order to be at par with other children. They suggested me that these are in the interest of my son’s career. I did not agree with them and pointed out provision of RTE, Act which ensures special training for child to cope up in case child is admitted to class in appropriate to their age.

When I kept insisting her to take admission with the reference of Administrative Officer’s direction, she replied that AO has nowhere mentioned in letter to give admission and  again advised me to put my son in senior K.G. I did not agree for putting my son in below standard than his agree and came out.

After five minutes Ms. Chitra called me over my phone and told me that she is ready to grant admission without any condition.  She took prescribed admission form of BMC and thereafter she gave me another sheet carrying terms and conditions of Akansha, NGO. The conditions were not acceptable but I had no other option than to sign it. For example: Ms. Chitra told me to give only vegetarian food for lunch in tiffin, because it is the rule of school. I would like to point over here that the provision of mid-day meal in schools is a basic amenity provided by the Government towards ensuring that the children of all strata have the facility of having lunch provided in the school itself. Again emphasis by the school Principal to give only vegetarian food in lunch creates a sense of disparity among the children themselves as they come from all the sections of society. In fact, they should be made aware of the qualities of healthy food habits rather than discriminating them on vegetarian and non-vegetarian grounds.

While talking to the Principal I came to know that the school has tie up with Akansha, NGO under agreement to provide teaching staffs in the school. I asked per municipal rule the qualification of teachers of primary schools. She told me that minimum qualification of teachers is D.Ed. I asked number of teachers and their qualification of those teaching in their school.She informed that there are 20 teachers, out of 20 only 8 teachers have D.Ed or B.Ed qualification. I wanted to know the process of appointment, she told that they are employees of companies like Wipro, Infosys and deputed for two years in school. On asking about training I was told that Akansha provides them 20 days training. The project of deputing the teaching staffs in school are run by Teach India, NGO. Hence, the basic question that arises over here is, though the teachers over here may have worked with reputed organizations such as Infosys and Wipro, but do they have the minimum qualification of a B.Ed or D.ed degree to teach in a school? Teaching children between the age of six to fourteen years does not require experience of an IT Firm rather what is needed is the skill and training to be qualified as a teaching staff.

I asked for drinking water from one of teacher available in office for which they said that they have no water facility in school.   I expressed shock for non availability of water in school. Upon asking how children get water she replied that children are told to bring water bottle and in case they don’t’ bring water, they call parents to ask them arrange for water for their children. They further informed that school staffs take packaged drinking water when required. On asking about complaint in this connection they said that construction work of building is still going on and they are arranging funding for aqua guard. I observed that water connection is available in school but they are not providing water to children as they are waiting for aqua guard. The non-availabilty of safe drinking water facility in a school is in clear violation of The Schedule of the Act wherein the norms and standards for a school are laid down. Item (2)(iv) of the Schedule lays down that all-weather building should consist of safe and adequate drinking water facility to all children. It is to be emphasized over here that section 19 of the Act lays down that where a school fails to fulfill the norms and conditions within a specified period of 3years of its commencement, then the appropriate authority under section 18 of the Act shall withdraw recognition granted to such school.

Here, I would like to bring to your notice that thousands of parents like me are struggling to admit their child in school. Though there is legislation for providing children elementary education in govt. run schools, so that children right can be protected, it has been violated by your school. Akanksha has been in the field of imparting education for a long time and is perceived as one of the committed NGO’s.

But my experience with Akanksha has confirmed that your institution, although constitutionally bound to provide education to all, has failed a large section of the society.

Your schools arbit grounds to admit a child has violated not only the child’s constitutional right, but also defeats the purpose of a NGO.

RTE does not cover 0- 6 years age group. So when a child come to a school to be enrolled for the first time in a school at the age of six, it reflects a lot on his parents social and financial status. it for such a child that RTE comes for rescue and not for the ones who has an access to pre- primay education. Akansha should have been more careful and sensitive towards such kids. A child, who is deprived of this educational rights, should be Akanksha’s priority and not the one’s who have been to some nursery and pre- primary schooling. By asking me if my child has been to any such institutions before securing admission in standard 1st, your organization has violated my sons fundamental right to education. Previous qualification, age and the time when a parent approaches a school for admission is secondary. Every child should be in a school is and must be a priority!

I would like to ask, has Akanksha done anything to find out where are those kids it has denied admissions?

Does Akansksha know, after stripping them off their basic rights, have those kids been admitted to any school?

Unless a NGO works within the realm of the RTE and ensures each and every child is admitted in the school, without any discrimination, their existence can not be justified.

Thanks & Regards,

Shakil Ahmed


Your Vagina Isn’t Just Too Big, Too Floppy, and Too Hairy—It’s Also Too Brown

by- Lindy West

Good news, ladies! Society has discoveredanother new thing that’s wrong with you, which means another opportunity for you to make yourself more attractive for your man. Score! Turns out, the color of your vagina is gross and everyone hates it. So bleach that motherfucker. Bleach it right now!

In this commercial for an Indian product called Clean and Dry Intimate Wash, a (very light-skinned) couple sits down for whatwould have been a peaceful cup of morning coffee—if the woman’s disgusting brown vagina hadn’t ruined everything! The dude can’t even bring himself look at her. He can’t look at his coffee either, because it only reminds him of his wife’s dripping, coffee-brown hole! Fortunately, the quick-thinking woman takes a shower, scrubbing her swarthy snatch with Clean and Dry Intimate Wash (“Freshness + Fairness”). And poof! Her vadge comes out blinding white like a downy baby lamb (and NOT THE GROSS BLACK KIND) and her husband—whose penis, I can only assume, is literally a light saber—is all, “Hey, lady! Cancel them divorce papers and LET’S BONE.”

Needless to say, certain citizens are troubled by this product—which, in addition to just being fucking insane, brings up painful issues about the hierarchy of skin tone within the Indian community. As if it isn’t bad enough that darker-skinned people are encouraged to stay out of the sun and invest in skin-bleaching products like Fair & Lovely, and that white actresses arebeing imported to play Indian people in Bollywood movies, now everyone has to be insecure about the fact that their vaginas happen to be the color that vaginas are??? Splendid! God, I was just saying the other day that my misogyny didn’t have enough racism in it.

So what are the pro-vadge-bleaching people thinking? Here’s a hilarious explanation from a male ad exec:

It is hard to deny that fairness creams often get social commentators and activists all worked up. What they should do is take a deep breath and think again. Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer-so what’s the problem? I don’t think any Youngistani today thinks the British Raj/White man is superior to us Brown folk. That’s all 1947 thinking!

The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl’s features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light. I found this amazing difference when I directed Kabir Bedi, who is very fair and had to wear dark makeup for Othello, the Black hero of the play. I found I had to have a special spotlight following Kabir around the stage because otherwise the audience could not see his expressions.

See? It makes perfect sense. We just want our vaginas to reflect more light—is that so wrong? I mean, WHAT IF MY CAR BREAKS DOWN AT NIGHT AND I DON’T HAVE A REFLECTIVE ENOUGH VAGINA? Really, the ultimate one-vagina-to-rule-them-all would glow in the dark like one of those deep-sea fishes. I need my vagina to attract more krill so my husband will fuck me again! (My husband is a whale.)

Basically the idea is to get as far away as possible from any color that vaginas actually come in. Because that’s what’s at the heart of this type of thinking—the perfect vagina would be something that’s not a vagina at all.

Contact Lindy West:your-vagina-isnt-just-too-big-too-floppy-and-too-hairyits-also-too-brown

Sunday Reading-Three sisters and Kabir

Mar 17, 2012, Women Feature Service (WFS) :

Kamayani Bali Mahabal meets three sisters who took their interest in the weaver-poet, Kabir, to a new level.

So just what is common between three sisters from South India: Archana Sundararajan, a classical dancer from Madurai; Bindhumalini Narayanaswamy, a graphic designer from Bangalore, and Jaya Madhavan, a writer from Chennai? The poet, Kabir.

During the Kabir Festival held at Prithvi House in Mumbai last month, the trio staged a unique and thought-provoking presentation on the great poet-weaver, entitled ‘Ankath Kahani’, which translates as ‘Unsaid Story’. The Kabir festival is a voluntary effort by people from different walks of life, drawn together by their passion for the poetry of Kabir and the music of folk singers.

The performance of the sisters threaded story, song and dance into a unique “word-sound and movement” dramatisation, punctuated by personal sharing, excerpts from Kabir’s work and dance movements for selected couplets. But the pivot on which ‘Ankath Kahani’ rested was a song which they sang as an impassioned plea to the great weaver-poet, to evoke a sense of Kabir, the sensitive, sensible and spiritual being that is present in all of us.

Archana danced to Kumar Gandharva’s ‘Ud jaaega hans akela…’ even as Bindhumalini’s singing took audiences to a level where being is “just to be there”. The beautiful interpretation of the song, in dance form, mesmerised the 100-plus listeners as they chanted Kabir’s couplets with the sisters. Soon there seemed to be no difference between the performers and the audience — both entities had merged in the bliss of Kabir’s verse.

How did the women choose Kabir? It was Jaya who first took the plunge when she wrote a book on him seven years ago. She says, “Kabir was a fortuitous encounter, a life enhancing one for me.” Describing this journey she reveals that it was Linda Hess’s translations of Kabir’s work that first opened her eyes to the poet. “I was so enraptured by the man’s courage, vision and well — insanity — and the fact that there was so much drama around him, that I decided to record my responses to him as a play.”

She then wrote a short skit with just two characters — a warp and a weft — with her sister Bindhumalini and herself playing the two roles. The play was shot through with Kabir’s couplets, his ideals and anxieties; not as his admirers and protégés saw them but as an outsider who loved Kabir. The warp and weft became many things in the play: Hindu-Muslim, India-Pakistan, Mullah-Pundit — but never was Kabir evoked in his entirety. Looking back Jaya confesses, “I think he still had shades of grey in my mind then.”

At that point Jaya realised that she knew only two things about Kabir: One, that he was a poet, and, two, that he was a weaver. “The poet I seemed to know, the other I didn’t. So I took up weaving classes,” she laughs. That experience changed her view of the poet. As she puts it, “Frankly, it is the loom that showed me a glimpse of Kabir, and taught me creative introspection.

It is the ‘thakli’, the dye, the loom, the warp and the weft, which spoke of the image of the poet for me. I married the weaver and poet as the warp and weft to draw a fuller picture of Kabir. I really believed, like the much loved Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar (also a weaver), Kabir’s ‘dohas’, or couplets, were born out of the material at hand and his vocation. This may be the reason why the loom features so strongly in my book. It is as if it bears witness to his bursts of poetry,” she elaborates.

It was not just Jaya’s work that got influenced by Kabir, her life changed, too. “For a while I even did drastic things like trying to fit all my needs into a small bag and living out of it. I wanted to distinguish between needs and wants. I began reducing my needs, meditating regularly, walking to my destination, and so on. The man does that to you. Unlike other Bhakti poets we know, this man wants to take you along. He wants to share his truths with you,” reveals Jaya.

But how did her sisters get roped in? Says Bindhumalini, who is also a trained singer in Carnatic and Hindustani music, “What attracted me was that Kabir touches every aspect of life. Happiness, bliss, renunciation. He becomes the ultimate being, the guru, the formless one that speaks. And his special poems, called ‘Ulat Bansi’, really made me fall in love with him. He is abstract no doubt, but somewhere something will catch you and the insight hits hard.”

As for Archana, a trained Bharatanatyam dancer with an M.Phil in French, she discovered Kabir through the French language! “That was the catalyst. I got attracted to him when I started translating Jaya’s book into French. Later, I started to dance to Kumar Gandharva’s music on Kabir,” says Archana with a twinkle in her eyes.

Explaining their unique style of presentation — they just sit, read, sing and dance — the sisters say almost in unison, “Kabir, we felt, could be reached only through simplicity and with no pretension. He is someone you cannot claim to know. But we know ourselves and we know how we are impacted by Kabir. The lesser the distractions in the presentation, the better the focus.” In other words, the less the audience looks towards the performers, the more they look inwards so there is nothing visually distracting about the presentation.

What are their favourite Kabir couplets? Archana says, a touch philosophically, “My favourite is ‘Maya Maha Thugni Hum Jaani’ (Maya is the biggest thug, I have come to understand the power of illusion to be a great thug). It perfectly suits my life. Everything is bound in ‘maya’, illusion. I totally believe that.” Jaya finds solace in ‘Dheere dheere re mana/Dheere sab kuch hoi/Mali seenche sau gade/Ritu aaye phal hoye (Slowly, slowly O mind/Everything happens at its own pace/The gardener may water with a hundred buckets/fruit arrives only in its season). “We are leading such fast lives and want everything to happen immediately, but we don’t realise everything has its own time,” says Jaya.

Humming the couplet, Bindhumalini indicates her choice: “Haman hein ishk mastana/Haman ko hoshiyari kya/Rahe aazad yeh jag se/ Haman duniya se yaari kya” (I am bursting with love/ Why do I need to be careful?/Being free in the world). Says she, “This is a beautiful poem in which Kabir talks about the blissful state of absolute love, supreme and unconditional love towards oneself and the world. Here, when everything becomes one, there is no waiting. When the lover is within oneself, why befriend anyone else? And so on. It talks of a happy state and the happiness in this song makes these seemingly difficult concepts or experiences really possible. When we are blissfully happy, don’t we lose ourselves as we merge with the world?”

The sisters now hope to keep sharing Kabir with more and more people. Says Jaya in conclusion, “We have kept our performance simple so that it fits all contexts. It is entirely up to the listeners on how they should interpret it. We are ready and willing to go anywhere. We operate within the spirit of sharing. We have performed in drawing rooms, conference halls, balconies and, well, now Prithvi House, too! It is Kabir and the listeners that matter to us. As long as the sharing continues, the journey will materialise on its own.”


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