#UK- #David Cameron rejects votes for #prisoners #humanrights


 

channel4

David Cameron rules out giving prisoners the vote despite the advice of his chief law officer in the face of pressure from the European court of human rights.

In response to a question from Labour MP Derek Twigg, the prime minister told the House of Commons that “no one should be in any doubt, prisoners are not getting the vote under this government”.

Mr Cameron was clarifying the issue following advice from the attorney general, who had said the government, under pressure from Europe, may need to back down over the issue of prisoner votes.

The European court of human rights has ruled, in what is known as the Scopola ruling, that there should not be a blanket ban on prisoners being allowed to vote.

International obligation

Dominic Grieve QC, the attorney general, told MPs this morning that the ruling “imposes an international legal obligation on us”.

Giving evidence to the justice select committee, Mr Grieve warned that Britain was obliged to obey the judgment and could face huge damages claims from prisoners.

“The issue, it seems to me, is whether the United Kingdom wishes to be in breach of its international obligations and what that does reputationally for the United Kingdom,” he said. “This is not a matter where there’s not parliamentary sovereignty. There clearly is. Parliament gives and parliament can take away.

However, Mr Cameron said during prime minister’s questions: “The House of Commons has voted against prisoners having the vote. I don’t want prisoners to have the vote, and they should not have the vote.

“If it helps by having another vote in parliament on another resolution to make absolutely clear, to help put the legal position beyond doubt, I am very happy to do that.”

In February the House of Commons voted by a margin of 234 to 22 against removing the blanket ban.

http://www.channel4.com/news/david-cameron-rules-out-giving-prisoners-the-vote

Stand up for people from the North-East India #mustshare


 

The campaign logo itself invites and let you get into the shoe of a little brown fish, discriminated and humiliated just because she was born with a different look and color from the rest. This is the same treatment the people who originate from North East India receive. It is time we unite and stand for our rights!

THE BIRTH OF A MOVEMENT:

Today the people of North-East (NE) India face several issues of racial discrimination, harassment and violence outside their home states as a result of lack of awareness among the citizens of India about the region of NE and its culture. Each day we suffer and each day we wonder why we are made to feel as “foreigners” in our own nation. Is this what we would like to call “home sweet home”?

Within the states of North-East India, short-sighted government policies such as ‘The Armed Forces Special Powers Act’, the lack of control of illegal migration from Bangladesh and general governmental neglect has resulted in increased alienation of the people from the democratic processes. What could be blamed – xenophobia, racism or simply, lack of awareness?

INCEPTION:

SDPFNEI (Stop Discriminating People from North-East India) started as an online discussion group (www.facebook.com/sdpftnei) to address issues of discrimination faced by North-East Indians. We believe, although the circumstances are harsh but a sense of perpetuated victimization can only be counter-productive.

Recognizing online social networking platforms such as Facebook to be a feasible, easily accessible and vital platform to create general awareness and dispel the visage of racial stereotype(s). While addressing key issues/complaints faced by the people by highlighting them and followed by public debates, we realize the need to generate active interest in the NE region.

The members realized that the awareness of the land of the Seven Sisters has remained almost non-existent among the Indian citizens even after 60 years of the nation’s independence. The achievement and sacrifices of the people from this region in nation building (Defence, Technology, Sports and Administrative Services etc) has been largely ignored by the nation’s media, its educational systems and the political leadership. The group has resolved to proactively address these issues via constructive engagement with the government, national institutions and the conscious citizens of India.

KEY ISSUES:

A) We face harassment and discrimination almost every day. Our women are subject to frequently sexual assaults. Some of our fellow citizens continue to verbally abuse and stereotype us by calling us “Chinky”, “Nepali”, “Bahadur”, “Chinese” and various other slurs have become a daily occurrence. Many Indians are hypersensitive to any perceived (real or imaginary) racial slur they may receive outside India. However within India, the same people remain largely oblivious to the far more frequent and intense racial insults, harassment and violence heaped on India’s citizens from north-east India.

B) The continued sexual assaults and heinous crimes against the women of the North East India increases at an alarming rate. Metropolitan Indian cities have a tendency to be notorious regarding women’s safety in general but the recent spike in such untoward incidents indicate that sexual predators find the “different” looking (Mongoloid facial features) women as an ‘easier prey’.

C) The fruits of modern infrastructure & economic development have largely bypassed the NE region. Leaders in New Delhi should handle the issues pertaining to the region with more sensitivity and maturity. Rather than compounding the problem by their myopic view of the region via a security lens only.

D) Six decades after the nations independence, many of its citizens are still forced to conduct their daily life with guns pointed at them by their own Government. The indigenous inhabitants of the North East are still forced to live with the draconian Armed Forces special Powers Act (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura) along with Jammu and Kashmir) which is a misguided mechanism that has done more harm than good. Decades of ASFPA has only helped propagate a culture of violence and hate. Fundamental rights of the people need to be recognized. India as the largest democratic country cannot overlook the loopholes in the myopic vision by the central leaders of the past.

E) The mainstream media only covers news about violence and insurgency in the North East region instead of covering thousands of other stories that more truly reflect its rich vibrant culture, history and unique landscape. It’s a shame that for many decades India’s government, politicians, and rest of the country still continue to ignore the NE states. It has mostly been a case of out-of-sight and out-of-mind as far as the mainstream media is concerned.

F) The North East region is a beautiful place with rich eco-geographical landscapes, physical and human resources. We are a friendly people blessed with multi-faceted talents that range from music, education, fashion, sports etc. Visitors would find the people friendly with rich cultural heritage. The fabled head hunting warriors or barbaric tribesmen are but a myth.

WE ARE NOT ANTI-INDIA:

1. We believe that raising awareness is the key to identifying and perusing the solutions to the above issues. Hiding the issues “under the carpet” makes matters only worse.

2. This forum is not anti-India. Though we focus on issues relating to North-East Indians, we believe that addressing issues of discriminations faced by any group or community in India is actually a patriotic act that truly contributes to nation-building.

3. A nation becomes strong when all its communities in various forms are truly made to feel as equal citizens of the nation.

Many years ago Rabindranath Tagore wrote a Nobel prize winning poem that began and ended thus:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
——————————————————
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.”

SDPFNEI strives to achieve the above ideals which as yet have remained unrealized many years since the nation’s birth. The views expressed by the members of the forum are solely their own and are not endorsed by the Stop Discrimination of People from North-East India.

Can you sign the petition to help add more pressure on the Government? 

We need all the responsible citizens like you to join the movement to end racial discrimination in this generation.More signatures will add strength to the opposition to this campaign.

Please do include your full name, email and your current city while signing up.

GET INVOLVED, SIGN THE PETITION: We have launched the Signature Campaign on April 23 in New Delhi. Now the signature campaign will go on till nov 13, 2011 nationwide and we expect to achieve upto 3 Lacs of signatures. This is the only way we can make the government listen to our cries.

To read and sign the petition, please visit

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/neindia/

join us on facebook

https://www.facebook.com/SDPFTNEI

 

# India- Why Independence Day is a #BlackDay15august


 

 The UPA government considers Indian life worthless and dispensable by freeing Russia from liability commitment for Koodankulam reactors 1 & 2.
The UPA government signs secret agreements with foreign governments and does not disclose the content to its own citizens and law makers.
The UPA government and its atomic energy department disrespect the Indian Judiciary and act with complete disregard for its opinions and decisions.
The UPA government puts the interests of the United States, Russia, France and Australia ahead of the Indian citizens’ own interests.
The UPA government is trying to prop up foreign economies at the cost of our citizens’ health, wellbeing, food security, natural resources and our progeny.
The UPA government is selling our natural resources to foreigners and turning a blind eye to the rich and powerful people’s plundering of our resources all over the country.
The UPA government uses money power to manipulate the MPs and others as it was demonstrated during the passage of the India-US nuclear deal.
The UPA government does not allow openness, transparency, accountability and popular participation in the decision making processes on crucial national issues.
The UPA government stifles political dissent by maligning dissenters and opposition leaders, undermining their movements and damaging their reputation.
The UPA government is not at all serious about passing anti-corruption legislations or bringing back the black money from abroad.
The UPA government does not respect our rich tradition of democracy, nonviolence and the Gandhian ethos in public life.
The corruption-ridden, anti-Indian, pro-foreign, pro-MNC government of the UPA does not enjoy absolute majority in the Parliament and hence should not be allowed to take crucial national decisions at the fag end of their tenure in power.
The UPA government has lost its credibility, legitimacy, respect and trust among the people of India and it is compromising our independence, sovereignty and the fundamental freedoms.
So the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) commemorates August 15, 2012 as a Black Day. We will hoist black flags on our homes and public places. Please join us in this campaign!
And let us together take our India back!
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District
Tamil Nadu

 

Save India From Becoming A Liability-Free Nuclear Abyss: says PMANE, to the MPs


 

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
Phone: 98656 83735; 98421 54073
koodankulam@yahoo.com
pushparayan@gmail.com

Members of Parliament
Tamil Nadu and Kerala
New Delhi

Dear Sir/Madam:

Greetings! We write to bring your kind attention to the liability issue involved in the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP).

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government concluded a secretive Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia in February 2008 and signed it in December that year. Article 13 of the IGA states: “The Indian Side and its authorised organisation at any time and at all stages of the construction and operation of the NPP power units to be constructed under the present Agreement shall be the Operator of power units of the NPP at the Kudankulam Site and be fully responsible for any damage both within and outside the territory of the Republic of India caused to any person and property as a result of a nuclear incident occurring at the NPP.” This simply means that the Russian government or their companies have no liability whatsoever for their technology and the equipment.

This allows the polluter to go scot free and runs quite contrary to the “polluter pays” principle enshrined in the Indian Constitution and all our environmental laws. Any blanket waiver to the foreign suppliers will make the Indian liability act a cruel joke. Russians claim that the Koodankulam reactors are the “best” and the “safest” in the world. If that is so, why should they shy away from offering any liability for their technology and components, but keep insisting that the Indian operator, NPCIL, is responsible for all damages?

In the meantime, the Prime Minister has questioned the atomic energy department’s decision not to exercise the right to recourse in the event of an accident at the Koodankulam plants 3 and 4. If we allow liability waiver to the Russians for KKNPP 1 and 2, and insist on their liability for KKNPP 3 and 4, how would we sort out a situation like Fukushima at Koodankulam if and when all these reactors burst one after the other? How would we decide if a radiation victim suffered from KKNPP 1 or 2 or 3 or 4?

Please note that the Indian government has not shared this IGA with the Members of Parliament or the project-affected people. When the KKNPP projects 1 and 2 are not even completed yet, the Government of India must announce the 2008 IGA null and void and implement the liability act 2010. Honorable Minister Narayanaswamy has been making rash and irresponsible statements about the KKNPP all along and now announces all of a sudden that the government has Rs. 1,500 crores as a deposit to meet liability commitments.

We would like to request you, the Members of Parliament, to establish the validity of the Indian liability act of 2010 and demand liability from all these countries as per the Indian act; and to reaffirm the fact that Indian life is not any less valuable than the lives of Russians, Americans and the French,

With best personal regards and all peaceful wishes,

Cordially,

S. P. Udayakumar
M. Pushparayan
Fr. F. Jayakumar
M. P. Jesuraj

Coordinator
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)

 

 

Stakeholders steadfast on changes in IT Rules #Censorship


Kapil Sibal - World Economic Forum Annual Meet...

Kapil Sibal – World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2009 (Photo credit: World Economic Forum)

SHALINI SINGH, The Hindu

 Google, Facebook absent at meeting; working group to redraft objectionable language

The refusal by either companies or MPs to shed their reservations about the proposed changes in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules, 2011, which are part of the IT Act, 2000, has led to Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal agreeing to engage in larger consultation. Accompanied by Minister of State Sachin Pilot, DIT Secretary J. Satyanarayana and Gulshan Rai, a senior functionary in the DIT, at a roundtable meeting here on Thursday, Mr. Sibal said it was not the government’s intention to regulate free speech or content. “We will set up a smaller group represented by all the stakeholders, civil society, lawyers, academics, cybercafés, MPs, and then tweak these rules in such a way that they are acceptable to everybody. Everybody must work together since the rules are required and due diligence must be done. There must be clarity with respect to due diligence, and the contours of liability must be clarified.”

The meeting, called at a day’s notice, was attended by a handful of MPs, representatives of industry and industry associations and lawyers. Civil society and the technical community were conspicuous by their absence. According to Sunil Abraham of the Centre for Internet and Society, civil society organisations were not invited and attempts to elicit an invitation from the DIT were spurned.

In a presentation on the process of formulating the IT Rules, including their consistence with Indian law, guidelines of mega Internet companies, and approach papers submitted by industry associations, the government used Google and Twitter’s transparency data to showcase the point that India stood out globally as the country which had made the least requests for removal of content.

The audience disagreed with the government’s claim that the Lok Sabha Committee on Subordinate Legislation had already scrutinised the rules, pointing out that it was meeting only on August 13, to discuss the issue.

Change in language

Stakeholders were unwilling to yield ground on their demands for a change in the language that is currently included in various Sections of the Rules. Of the 25 MPs whose names appeared on the list of invitees, only two made it to the meeting. Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an independent MP from Bangalore, said the IT Rules are an overreach on the law, lend themselves to misuse and cast an enormous liability on intermediaries. The issue needs to be discussed in greater detail by experts.

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brian said freedom of the Internet must be protected at all costs especially since most content is user-generated. He agreed on the need for a mechanism to decide on the removal of harmful content but sought the involvement of State governments in making such decisions.

The Federation of Indian Industry and Commerce said it had consulted nearly 50 of its members whose consensus represented the need to remove some wrinkles from Section 3, especially 3(2) Section 79, and asked that a smaller working group of experts be set up to make those changes. Then the document should be put up for a wider consultation, especially with civil society.

NASSCOM, apex body for BPO and IT industries, wanted a clarification on the 36-hour clause. They also expressed concern about the interpretation, which may lead companies such as BPO and cloud computing to be treated as ‘intermediaries’, as well as reconstitution of the Cyber Regulations Advisory Committee or an appropriate redress body.

There was wide-ranging opposition to Section 3(2), especially with regard to the broad interpretation of the words ‘blasphemous’, ‘defamatory’, ‘ethnically objectionable’, and ‘disparaging’. Mr. Sibal showed a Yahoo ‘terms of service’ document wherein similar terms were used by the company.

‘Light touch regulation’

Defending itself, Yahoo said it expected a ‘light-touch regulation’ instead of the current rules. It raised several objections to Section 3. Yahoo was opposed to the fact that the onus of deciding what content should be kept or taken down was placed on intermediaries. It also pointed to the cost element involved. It was clarified that Yahoo was already in court, where it has appealed the constitutionality of Section 3(7).

Though Google and Facebook are known to have major concerns with the Rules, their representatives did not attend the discussion.

The CII raised questions about safe harbour and the issue of liability on the intermediary when it is forced to remove one private party’s content at the request of a second private party.

Due diligence burdensome

The Cyber Café Association said it was too small an entity to engage in detailed due diligence of the kind necessitated under the Rules. It would therefore be necessary to incorporate its views while redrafting the rules.

ISPs made a strong point about the confusion created by multiple orders from different courts being sent directly to service providers, and whether this entire piece could be better organised by way of procedure.

No, we’re not trying to censor the Internet: Sibal #Joke


New Delhi: Government has no plan to manage content on Internet but there should be a mechanism to redress complaints of aggrieved citizens, Telecom and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said.

He also asserted the country has the sovereign right to bring all media networks, including social media, under Indian laws.

“The government will not be involved in managing anything. We do not want to interfere, we do not want to manage but if there are citizens who are aggrieved they should have a redressal mechanism,” Sibal said during a round-table on Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules 2011.

The round-table saw participation from Members of Parliament, Internet companies and industry bodies like CII, FICCI and Assocham.

Kapil Sibal in this file photo. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

“All networks have to be subject to Indian laws. That is are our sovereign right” he said, adding that social media also needs to work with various stakeholders to ensure that it exercises due diligence in context of content that is hosted on it.

He said the government will organise many such round- tables with participation of all stakeholders in order to evolve a consensus on the matter.

“The good part is that the government is saying that it is not looking at censorship, not looking at controlling or managing the content. I think those statements are very important,” Nasscom President Som Mittal said.

Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien said as Internet is a people’s medium so its freedom should be maintained.

He, however, added there should be a mechanism to check harmful content but states should be consulted on defining any such matter.

PTI

The great unmentionable in disability politics #mustread


 

English: Barnstar for WikiProject Disability

English: Barnstar for WikiProject Disability (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

RAHILA GUPTA , 31 July 2012

 

 “I felt there was no space for me to express grief at my son’s disability”. The grief of those who care for people with a disability is betrayal of the Cause.  Rahila Gupta asks: how do you value disability at the same time as mourn the loss of ability?

Most political movements at their inception demand radical resolution of the wrongs and injustices that they have been set up to overturn – and the disability movement is no different. My first brush with the movement happened in the 80s when I began the battle for a proper education for my son who had cerebral palsy as a result of a difficult and negligent birth. There was a huge amount of institutional oppression and individual prejudice which was hard to fight as an individual both in physical and emotional terms. There was no right to a mainstream education enshrined in the law and various groups of parents and carers of disabled children and disabled people themselves came to our support at critical moments in the struggle. As I had been involved in race and gender politics, it would have been a natural transition to become active in the wider disability movement, a transition I did not make and which I put down to a lack of time then. Gradually I became aware that there were some deep seated reservations which I had not articulated even to myself. Only now, ten years after I lost my son, I realise that the contradictions of the movement had me in a vice like grip which I can only now begin to untangle.

There is no doubt that the history of disabled people is littered with the most grotesque and inhumane attempts to wipe them off the face of this earth – even progressive socialists, like the Fabians, of the early twentieth century supported the idea of eugenics to create a super race until Hitler’s experiments with it consigned the idea to the scrapheap.  Of course, the first step towards unwinding this hatred would be to promote positive images of disabled people, of the excavation of a hidden history of great contributions, of heroic stories, of moving towards light and glory, of asserting the right to exist, of being and becoming visible. It has been the inevitable pattern, with some variations, of the feminist, anti-racist and gay movements among others. But this is where the similarity ends, or should end. Whereas the attributes of sex or race or sexual orientation become a ‘handicap’ because of patriarchy, racism or heterosexism, there is a point at which impairment becomes a ‘handicap’ not merely because of disablism but a condition which can cause pain, discomfort, aggravation and frustration to the individual concerned, regardless of how far society travels in its attitudes and how far technology succeeds in bridging that gap.

This is not to promote the suffering, helpless victims deserving of charity narrative. Important insights have emerged from the disability movement which challenge those narratives, namely the distinction between the medical and social models of disability. The medical model sees disability as an individual problem to be ‘cured’ and ‘treated’ whereas the social model recasts this as a problem inherent in the way that society and the physical environment have been structured, so wheelchair users cannot attend a meeting not because they are in wheelchairs but because no ramps have been provided.  As Vic Finkelstein puts it, ‘What was paramount was our focus on the need to change the disabling society rather than make us fit for society.’

I completely agree with the flaws of ‘the fit for society’ model. And yet, and yet what about being fit for your own sake?. Somewhere between the medical and social model stood individuals like me and my son. We did both: I campaigned for schools to admit him which meant they had to do a lot more to become accessible than merely provide ramps but devise and implement policies of inclusion and initiate a thoroughgoing change of attitudes. At the same time, I tried Botox on the advice of the doctors so that it might make his eating more efficient, his muscles less stiff and therefore less painful. He had operations on his leg muscles to prevent his hips becoming dislocated. He wore a variety of splints and braces, the line between chasing a ‘cure’ or increasing comfort often a blur.

The attempt to rescue disability from its tragic status tipped over into a glorification of disability. A similar trend was apparent in the early days of the women’s movement when it was impossible to be openly critical of mothers or to even admit the possibility that women could be violent. The great immigration lawyer Steve Cohen said towards the end of his life when severe arthritis had all but stopped his campaigning and writing, ‘I’m not disabled and proud, I’m disabled and pissed off!’ Like him, I felt there was no space for me to express grief at my son’s disability. It was the great unmentionable in disability politics – the grief of those who care for them. How do you value disability at the same time as mourn the loss of ability? By separating the disability from the person, by valuing the disabled person, would be one answer, another version of the biblical exhortation to ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’. It is, of course, hard to separate these in practice: the disability is so much a part of a disabled person’s identity that any comment on the disability feels like an assault on the person.  I raised these knotty questions in The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong,  a dramatic monologue performed at the Arts Theatre in London last June, in which I recount the story of our struggle and triumphs in the fight for my son’s rights. Perhaps it is the intense love for my son that permeates the Ballad that gives me the ‘permission’ to mourn his loss of ability.

There are some who see disability as a gift, a position which finds particular favour among religious groups. Eleanore Stump, an American Professor of Philosophy, argues that suffering makes one grow and narrates approvingly  the story of a mother with an autistic child ‘who came to see that even the suffering (i.e. her autistic child) of her life was a gift’ in her book, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering. The language and perspective of this position, while trying to be positive, would be dismissed by most disabled people because of its equation between suffering and disability.

This idea of disability as a gift, as something special and worth reproducing was taken to its logical, but in my view extremely troubling, conclusion by a deaf couple in 2008 who wanted the right to select an embryo with the deaf gene. They wanted their child to be part of a proud linguistic minority although it was not clear why a hearing child could not be brought up in that culture with the additional advantages that hearing brings such as the ability to enjoy music. The argument as seen from the perspective of the disability lobby is twofold: an interpretation of equality, if you have the right to discard a deaf foetus, you should have the right to discard a hearing foetus rather than an equality between people with more strings to their bow; and doing anything that reduces the number of disabled people in the world is evidence of discrimination, an argument that underpins the opposition to abortion and the right to die movement.

Definitions of impairment are becoming wider so that, from some perspectives, the size of the disabled community in most societies is larger than ever.  Laying claim to greater numbers has often been the strategy used by minorities to tackle their powerlessness – black people claiming powerful ‘white’ men and women rumoured to have black antecedents as their own, for example – although as we have seen numbers are no guarantee of increased bargaining power as women are still widely oppressed.

As political movements mature and strengthen, they move from striking either/or positions to a recognition of the complexity of human situations and responses. Having established its presence, a movement does not feel threatened by a multiplicity of opposing views. I believe the disability movement is at that point. Baroness Jane Campbell, Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in 2008, ‘I believe our position as disabled people is fundamentally different to what it was 20, 10, even 5 years ago. I believe we have a powerful voice.’  She argues that is time for the disability movement to join forces with other disadvantaged groups, even carers, because ‘the ideas of the disability movement – barrier removal, reforming public services to give people greater control over their own lives, and equality legislation based on accommodating difference rather than ignoring it – are the blueprint for the next stages of promoting equality and human rights overall.’  The movement should be ready to accommodate a carer’s perspective without feeling threatened and to explore the contradictions that dishearten potential allies.

 

 

 

‘Sponsored’ doctors under scanner’ #Goodnews :-)


 

English: Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister...

English: Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, India. Français : Shivraj Singh Chauhan, chef de l’exécutif (Chief Minister) du Madhya Pradesh, Inde. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

By Express News Service – NEW DELHI

11th July 2012 10:18 AM

Eleven doctors from Madhya Pradesh, who allegedly went with their families to England and Scotland, are facing a probe, with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare suspecting that a pharmaceutical company could have sponsored their trip.

Speaking to Express, Medical Council of India (MCI) Secretary, Dr Sanjay

Shrivastava, said he is yet to receive a formal order from the Health Ministry for a probe against the doctors.

“Our ethics committee, which has eminent members on the board, will examine the matter after receiving the complaint and only after getting the report we will decide the next course of action,” Shrivastava said.

However, the doctors who figured in the list sent to the PMO denied taking a sponsored trip and said the group of doctors paid for the entire travel. One of the doctors, Srikant Rege of Indore told Express that he never accepted any free tickets from any drug  company and that the allegation was a farce. Another medical practitioner from Jabalpur, Dr Harsh Saxena, said somebody with ulterior motives had complained to Member of Parliament Dr Jyoti Mirdha about the group travel and there seemed to be some misunderstanding as it was a self-financed tour. He also refuted the genuineness of evidence submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office by the Mirdha.

MP Jyoti Mirdha, along with her letter, had enclosed the ticket and PNR numbers, as well as the itinerary prepared by drug manufacturing company for the travel to England and Scotland.

“As I’m writing this letter a total of 11 doctors along with their families are holidaying in England and Scotland on a trip financed by Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Details including names of passengers along with their addresses, ticket numbers, hotels and itinerary are attached for your perusal. Needless to say, acceptance of such trips is in violation of MCI rules,” Mirdha’s communiqué to PM stated.

She has also raised the issue of dichotomy in rules set up to govern the sponsorship issues. “While the MCI rules bar doctors from accepting gifts, tickets, hospitality from healthcare industry, there are no corresponding obligations on the part of the drug industry not to offer such freebies and face penal action in case of violations,” the letter dated June 1, 2012, said.

After some multinational companies were fined by regulating authorities for inducing doctors through unethical means, the MCI notified a mandatory code of ethics to be followed by all medical practitioners. The gazette notification dated December 10, 2009, prohibits the acceptance of gifts, hospitality, travel grants, funds and endorsement of commercial products by doctors.

CHECK THE HOLIDAY TICKET BELOW

Intas.Doctors on holiday

 

 

 

Super Blogger and friend Vidyut Kale gets a take-down notice for exposing corruption #stopitrules


Sign the petition against IT Act, 2011
A  Super blogger,  and a super duper  friend Vidyut Kale had written a post about the raid on the Belvedere yacht party, where she also exposed a history of financial misdealings by Lt Col (retd) Gautam Dutta and Anju Dutta of Marine Solutions, the url in question is  sailgate-the-party-that-wasnt. She has received a take down notice for her article being defamatory. She says that the IT Rules are so arbitrary that she has no chance to defend herself against the takedown, because no explanation or even verification of the premise of the take down notice being correct is required. Anyone getting the takedown noticeis legally required to take their content down within 36 hours or they lose protections as intermediaries.
While she is also the author, her position as the owner of the blog makes her vulnerable to these threats if her blog is to survive. She has no experience of fighting court cases, and can’t afford a lawyer, while the persons sending her the notice have a large law firm at their command. It is not defamation if her content is provable through RTI documents, but to prove it, she will have to violate the IT Rules, lose protection and fight several years in court – to save a post that exposes corruption in sailing on technicalities lawyers can exploit for people with the money to throw, while bloggers can be victimized out of any serious truth seeking by the simple virtue of not having enough money.
This is the same blogger that blogged to draw attention to the Keenan and Reuben murders when mainstream media had reported the story and let it go. Her efforts led to large scale media attention that helped the poor families get attention to their case and prevent the killers from going scot free. This can be verified by searching for Keenan and Reuben, and her blog – aamjanata.com is one of the top results. Two posts she did compiling news coverage was extensively refered to by others covering the case. She raised questions that were important to not be ignored.
She has also reported on and followed the case of Naina Singh’s dowry death, where the police were refusing to file an FIR. She created a group of people to support Naina’s mother as well as found local lawyers (Delhi) who would help her approach courts to get directions for filing an FIR. The FIR was filed five months after Naina Singh’s death.
She has blogged extensively on issues of national interest, freedom of speech and human rights.
In reporting stories from the RTI documents related to sailing scams she was again covering an area that is not big enough for mainstream media, but an important leak of money as well as integrity for the country. Not to mention the illegal practices around sailing making it a security risk through norms of “looking the other way”.
This blogger, who is a housewife and has little income is at serious risk of being attacked by a team of seasoned lawyers with money to burn. for daring expose corrupt practices. This is a very concerning sign for freedom of speech and whistle blowing in our country. Any media attention highlighting her situation and precarious situation of smaller content producers in India like bloggers, independent artists, cartoonists, etc and the role played by the IT Rules will go a long way in protecting their rights and drawing attention to their victimization.
MP P Rajeeve is moving a motion in the Rajya Sabha for the IT Rules to be annulled for being unconstitutional, but without appropriate attention, it may not happen or may be too late for many like her.

Please extend your support to her twitter–@vidyut

Private sector censors- If business decides what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ speech what will happen ?


Private sector censors
If business decides what’s ‘good’ and ‘bad’ speech, it can lead to multiple interpretations and arbitrary decisions

Here, There, Everywhere | Salil Tripathi, Livemint.com

 In Milan Kundera’s 1967 Czech novel, Žert (The Joke), Ludvik Jahn sends a postcard to an intense classmate who takes herself too seriously. In the card, he makes sarcastic comments against the Communist Party. Unsurprisingly, others don’t see the joke. He gets expelled from the party, conscripted and has to work in mines.

While The Joke was a work of fiction, in the real Soviet era as punishment for such actions, many people lost jobs, sometimes their homes; some went to jail, often betrayed by those they trusted. In Czechoslovakia (as the country was then known), the state ran the postal service and those who read the postcard were party members. In India, the private sector provides Internet access and others don’t have the legal right to see what’s being transmitted, unless they are intended recipients, or if the material is broadcast publicly. The state now wants the private sector to police and censor the Internet.

 

 

 

Under the draconian Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, any intermediary (a search engine, a website, a domain name registry, a service provider, or a cyber café) must take down the “offending” material from its website within 36 hours. The intermediary need not inform the person who posted the material, nor would the creator get the right to respond. As Apar Gupta points out on the Indian Lawand Technology Blog, in one recent case, based on these rules, an injunction has been granted. 

These rules go significantly beyond the existing restraints on speech. The Constitution limits speech and sections of the criminal code impose further restrictions. To that, add the IT rules’ vaguely defined terms of what can’t be said—content which is “grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, paedophilic, libelous, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever, harms minors in any way, or infringes any patent, trademark, copyright, or other proprietary right”. Who decides that? The intermediaries.

These rules make the private sector act like the state. Nobody elected business to play such a role; it does not have the expertise, capacity, legal training, or authority to act as the state. Censorship is bad; whether in state or private hands. If business decides what’s “good” and “bad” speech, it can lead to multiple interpretations and arbitrary decisions, without recourse to appeal. In a country where those who feel offended have often threatened violence, businesses will understandably take the cautious approach and not allow anyone to say anything that’s remotely controversial, even if it is an opinion about a film.

Decisions will be made on opaque criteria. Apple and Amazon have arbitrarily stopped some products from being sold on their electronic stores, citing “community standards”. Amazon stopped providing server space to WikiLeaks, even though no government had asked it to do so. Credit card companies stopped processing donations going to WikiLeaks, without any legal order. Even Google, which has admirably stood up to China’s bullying, has had to take down content when governments have required that it does so through proper legal channels. India’s record is poor: of the 358 complaints India lodged with Google, 255 were about content that was controversial or political, but not illegal.

To demonstrate the reach of the rules, the Centre for Internet and Society in Bangalore sent random notices to seven companies, asking them to take down content. Of them, six complied beyond what they were called upon to do—instead of the three pages that the centre asked for, one company blocked an entire website. A few legally worded letters were enough to get compliance from companies. The centre’s executive director, Sunil Abraham, told me recently: “Companies which have no interest in free speech are now taking these decisions. They have the power to do so and they are using it without any sense of responsibility.”

Aseem Trivedi knows this well. The cartoonist who ran a website called  cartoonistsagainstcorruption.com , found that his site had disappeared after a complaint from an individual that the cartoons violated laws. Since then he has been campaigning for freedom on the Internet. Everyone’s freedom is at stake—whether you want to see cartoons of Sonia Gandhi, Narendra Modi, Ramdev, Kisan Hazare, Binayak Sen, Arundhati Roy, Sachin Tendulkar, Poonam Pandey and even Mamata Banerjee. And yet look at what happened to Ambikesh Mahapatra, the professor who sent a cartoon mocking Banerjee to some friends via the Internet. He was arrested and later roughed up. These rules chill speech.

Last year, Kapil Sibal, minister for information technology, asked companies to screen content manually and censor the Web. The demand was audacious. It showed lack of understanding of how the Internet works and revealed fundamental ignorance of the state’s role: it has to protect the rights of the one who wishes to express and not the one who claims offence.

In Parliament, P. Rajeev, member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), wants to annul those rules. Everyone should support him.

Salil Tripathi is a writer based in London. Your comments are welcome at salil@livemint.com

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