3 Things You Should Know About “Zero Dark Thirty” and #Torture #Oscar2013


 

BY ZEKE JOHNSON

Still from Zero Dark Thirty.

After seeing the new film Zero Dark Thirty, I think there are three things everyone should know:

1) Zero Dark Thirty is not a documentary. The film’s screenwriter, Mark Boal, said: “It’s a movie. It’s not a documentary… My standard is not a journalistic standard of ‘Is this a word-for-word quote?’ I’m not asking to be held to that standard and I’m certainly not representing my film as that. The standard is more, ‘Is this more or less in the ballpark?’”

2) Torture did not help find Osama bin Laden. This is established by the public record and verified by people who have access to classified information. For example, yesterday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) sent this letter to the head of Sony Entertainment with citations pointing out that torture and other abuses did not help find Osama bin Laden.

3) The most important point is this: torture is immoral, always unlawful, and never permitted. Torture and ill-treatment are unequivocally prohibited under the U.S. Constitution and under international law. No derogation or exceptional circumstances can be invoked as justification for torture or ill-treatment. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID) put it this way:

“The issue isn’t ‘Does torture work or not.’ The issue is ‘Is torture right, or is torture wrong?’ And the answer to that is torture is wrong.”

The question now: What can be done to ensure that torture and other ill-treatment are never again used by or on behalf of the U.S. government?

Help tell the truth about torture. Hand out this Fact Sheet: Torture & Osama bin Laden at screenings of Zero Dark Thirty.

At the end of Zero Dark Thirty, the CIA analyst is asked “Where do you want to go?”

We should each ask ourselves that same question. Do we want the United States to continue to violate human rights with impunity in the name of a never-ending and vaguely defined “global war”—detention without charge, unlawful killings with drones, extreme solitary confinement and unfair trials—for the rest of our lives and the rest of our children’s lives?

Or will we say “enough” and embrace security with human rights and the rule of law?

 

The Girl Who Changed Pakistan: #Malala Yousafzai #mustread


by Oct 22, 2012

Shehrbano Taseer takes an insider’s look at the 15-year-old girl who may finally turn the tide on extremism.

The teenage girls chatted to each other and their teachers as the school bus rattled along the country road. Students from a girls’ high school in Swat, they had just finished a term paper, and their joy was evident as they broke into another Pashto song. About a mile outside the city of Mingora, two men flagged down and boarded the bus, one of them pulling out a gun. “Which one of you is Malala Yousafzai?” he demanded. No one spoke—some out of loyalty, others out of fear. But, unconsciously, their eyes turned to Malala. “That’s the one,” the gunman said, looking the 15-year-old girl in the face and pulling the trigger twice, shooting her in the head and neck. He fired twice more, wounding two other girls, and then both men fled the scene.
Over the screams and tears of the girls, a teacher instructed the bus driver to drive to a local hospital a few miles away. She stared in horror at Malala’s body, bleeding profusely and slumped unconscious in her friend’s lap, then closed her eyes and started to pray.

As of this writing, Malala fights for her life at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. Her would-be killers have not yet been caught. But it’s clear who bears responsibility. And in the days since the Oct. 9 assault on her, sadness, fury, and indignation have swept the world.

For months a team of Taliban sharpshooters studied the daily route that Malala took to school, and, once the attack was done, the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan gleefully claimed responsibility, saying Malala was an American spy who idolized the “black devil Obama.” She had spoken against the Taliban, they falsely said, and vowed to shoot her again, should she survive.

The power of ignorance is frightening. My father, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered last January after he stood up for Aasia Noreen, a voiceless, forgotten Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. My father, the governor of Punjab province at the time, believed that our country’s blasphemy laws had been misused; that far too frequently, they were taken advantage of to settle scores and personal vendettas.

In the days before my father’s murder, fanatics had called for a fatwa against him and had burned him in effigy at large demonstrations. His confessed shooter, a 26-year-old man named Mumtaz Qadri, said he had been encouraged to kill my father after hearing a sermon by a cleric, who, frothing at the mouth, screeched to 150 swaying men to kill my father, the “blasphemer.” Qadri, a police guard, had been assigned to protect my father. Instead, on the afternoon of Jan. 4, my brother Shehryar’s 25th birthday, he killed my father, firing 27 bullets into his back as he walked home.

My father, one of the first members of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, was frequently imprisoned and tortured for his unwavering belief in freedom and democracy under the harsh dictatorship of Gen. Zia ul Haq.

But in later life, as he spoke against the blasphemy laws, his views were distorted to suggest—wrongly—that he had spoken against Prophet Muhammad—just as Malala’s views were twisted by both her Taliban attackers and opportunistic politicians peddling poisonous falsehoods for their own gain.

One would think the nightmare and brutality of the Zia regime ended when the tyrant’s aircraft fell out of the skies in 1988 and he was killed. We were so wrong.

 

What the attack on Malala makes clear is that this is really a battle over education. A repressive mindset has been allowed to flourish in Pakistan because of the madrassa system set up by power-hungry clerics. It’s a deeply rooted indoctrination, and it sickens me to see ancient religious traditions undermined by a harsher form of religion barely a generation old. These madrassa, or religious schools headed by clerics, are the breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. The clerics don’t teach critical thinking. Instead, they disseminate hate. These clerics are raising merchants of hatred who believe in a very right-wing and radical Islam, to hail people like Osama bin Laden and Mumtaz Qadri as heroes. They train children how to use guns and bombs, and how not to live but to die.

Since my father’s murder, I have often wondered if Qadri would have killed him had he known my father’s actual views and not what they had been twisted into by media anchors and clerics on a hysterical witch hunt. Maybe if he had listened to what my father really said, Pakistan would not have lost its bravest man and I my center of gravity.

After his bloody deed, Qadri was hailed as a hero by right-wingers and fanatics. In a loathsome display in front of the court where he was to be tried, hundreds of lawyers charged with upholding justice instead showered the murderer with rose petals in praise of him taking a sacred life.

But terrorism bears within it the seeds of its own destruction. What schools with a good syllabus can offer is the timeless and universal appeal of critical thinking. This is what the Taliban are most afraid of. Critical thinking has the power to defuse terrorism; it is an internal liberation that jihadism simply cannot offer.

This time, with the attack on Malala, what is different—and encouraging—is the outpouring of support in Pakistan for this young girl. We cannot, and we will not, take any more madness.

Malala was only 11 when she started blogging entries from her diary for the Urdu-language website of the BBC. Her nom de plume was Gul Makai, meaning cornflower in Pashto and the name of the heroine of many local folk stories. A star student with olive skin, bushy eyebrows, and intense brown eyes, Malala wrote about life under Taliban rule: how she hid her schoolbooks under her shawl and how she kept reading even after the Taliban outlawed school for girls. In an entry from January 2009 she wrote: “Today our teacher told us not to wear colorful dress that might make Taliban angry.” She wrote about walking past the headless bodies of those who had defied the radicals, and about a boy named Anis, who, brainwashed by the Taliban, blew himself up at a security checkpoint. He was 16 years old.

Encouraged by her father, Ziauddin, a schoolmaster, Malala quickly became known as she spoke out on the right to an education. Ziauddin had two sons also, but he told friends it was his daughter who had a unique spark. She wanted to study medicine, but he persuaded her that when the time came she should enter politics so she might help create a more progressive society—at the heart of which was education for all. In Pakistan, 25 million children are out of school, and the country has the lowest youth literacy rate in the world.

 

“I hope you won’t laugh at me,” Ziauddin wrote in an email to Adam Ellick, an American filmmaker, after Ellick had stayed with the family in Swat for several months. “Can I dream for her to be the youngest to clench a Nobel award for education?”

In the film that Ellick made for The New York Times in 2009, the bond between Ziauddin and his daughter is evident as is his pride in his young daughter’s accomplishment. “When I saw her for the first time, a very newborn child, and I looked into her eyes, I fell in love with her,” Ziauddin says at one point in the film, beaming. “Believe me, I love her.” (Her mother, a homemaker who speaks only Pashto, is also supportive of Malala’s work; she wasn’t depicted in Ellick’s film for cultural reasons.)

At the time, the Taliban had swept through Swat, banning girls’ education and attacking hundreds of schools in the province. But Ziauddin—who, in addition to running a school, is also a poet, a social activist, and head of the National Peace Council in Swat—defied the Taliban by refusing to cancel classes, despite continued death threats. “They were so violently challenged,” says Ellick, who is still close to the family.

As Ziauddin explained his motivation at one point: “Islam teaches us that getting an education is compulsory for every girl and wife, for every woman and man. This is the teaching of the holy Prophet,” he said. “Education is a light and ignorance is a darkness, and we must go from darkness into light.”

Ziauddin “has given Malala a love, strength, and confidence that’s rare,” agrees Samar Minallah Khan, a Pakistani journalist and filmmaker who knows the family. “She has an incredible spirit and a mind of her own because of the confidence he has given her.”

In three short years, Malala became the chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat, was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, was the runner-up of the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. More recently she started to organize the Malala Education Foundation, a fund to ensure poor girls from Swat could go to school.

Sharing her father’s eloquent and determined advocacy made Malala a powerful symbol of resistance to Taliban ideology.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown said the attack had given rise to a children’s movement, with children proudly wearing “I am Malala” T-shirts and defiantly asserting their rights. “Young people are seeing through the hypocrisy of … their leaders [who] deny millions of girls and boys the opportunity to rise,” Brown said in an email. “For one Malala shot and silenced, there are now thousands of younger Malalas who cannot be kept quiet.”

Ziauddin is reportedly shattered by the attack on his daughter and unable to speak, yet he plans on returning to Pakistan once her treatment is complete. He wants to return to their work on education with renewed commitment and strength. He told Ellick: “If all of us die fighting, we will still not leave this work.”

In order to operate, the Taliban need the acceptance—or submission—of the population. A Gallup poll conducted two years ago shows that only 4 percent of Pakistan’s 180-plus million population views the Taliban in a positive light. But the TTP, as they are known, have capitalized on the mounting anti-Americanism spurred by civilian casualties of U.S. drone strikes. Keen to cultivate favorable public opinion, Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, issued a “new code of conduct” in 2010 that banned suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, and cutting off ears, lips, and tongues. On the Web, the TTP rallied against drone strikes, condemned attacks on shrines, hospitals, schools, and marketplaces. In practice, however, the code was spottily enforced and did not necessarily mean a gentler insurgency. Critics claim that any changes were cosmetic—a tactical shift in preparation for a long-term fight.

The assault on Malala seemed a departure from Mullah Omar’s “charm offensive”—a desperate but well-known attempt to spread fear. Even among those who had supported the TTP’s ideological goals in the past, there was revulsion at the attack on the little girl. “The shooting could be an attempt to show that they are still active,” says author and analyst Zahid Hussain. “They want to send a message.”

Instead of being chastised by the popular outrage both in Pakistan and in the West, the Taliban has responded by threatening local journalists who have covered the attack on Malala. The TTP has even threatened cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, claiming he is a liberal and therefore an infidel. The threats surprised many since “Taliban Khan”—as many refer to him—is perceived as an apologist for the extremists. In fact, in the days after the attack on Malala, Khan was strongly criticized for not taking a more forceful stance on her shooting. (Khan said he could not speak too openly against the Taliban because that could imperil the lives of his supporters in the north.)

“Pakistan has arrived at its with-us-or-against-us moment,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of the president, told Newsweek by email. The 24-year-old Bhutto Zardari succeeded his mother, Benazir Bhutto, as chairman of Pakistan’s ruling party after her assassination in 2007. (The family believes that the Taliban killed her, though an al Qaeda commander initially claimed responsibility.)

Even as Malala fights for her life, people continue to twist her views and words to suit their own incendiary narrative. Samia Raheel Qazi, herself a mother and a senior figure in Pakistan’s largest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, posted an image of Malala, her father, and the late U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke on Twitter, adding a caption that falsely claimed that Malala had attended “a meeting with American military officers.”

In Pakistan such character assassinations and conspiracy theories are unfortunately not uncommon—and they benefit the Taliban’s odious campaign. “Liberals would like to believe this is a turning point for Pakistan,” says journalist Najam Sethi. “That’s what they thought when a Swati girl was publicly flogged by the Taliban in 2009.” Pakistanis were at first outraged, but the anti-Taliban consensus soon evaporated, he recalls. Sethi believes that upcoming Pakistan elections will further politicize the attack. “The government will make the right noises but fall in line with exigencies of party politics. No general or civilian will risk precipitous action.”

Pakistan’s government is funding Malala’s treatment and will present her with a national award for courage. It has also promised jobs to the family members of the other two girls who were shot. But many fear that—despite the arrest of almost 200 people—the investigation into the attack will conclude as most investigations do: with a failure to prosecute those responsible. Our antiterrorism courts have a shoddy record of convictions. The judiciary and law-enforcement agencies clearly lack both the will and the means to bring perpetrators to justice. “If we do capture the terrorists who attacked Malala, I do hope they are brought to justice,” says the government spokesman, Bhutto Zardari. But sounding less than convinced, he cautions in the same email: “This is a war zone. Just as NATO or the U.S. will not capture every terrorist in Afghanistan we cannot capture every terrorist in Pakistan.”

Malala’s English teacher, who is close to the family, clicks his tongue when asked if he believes the attackers will get caught and punished. “I don’t think so at all,” he says. “When have they ever?”

There is talk now in Pakistan of further military sweeps of militant strongholds. But it is clear that the solution cannot be purely military. The government must address the root causes of terrorism as Malala argued. “If the new generation is not given pens, they will be given guns by the terrorists,” she said before she was shot. “We must raise our voice.”

A Tragic History Of Hate Crimes Against Sikhs In The U.S #Racism


 

Although the motives of the shooter in Wisconsin this morning are not yet clear, there is a bloody history of violence towards Sikhs in the United States since 9/11.

 Sikhism is a peaceful religion and its primary principles include equality and justice for all

.Summer Anne BurtonBuzzFeed Staff

 

September 15, 2001 – Mesa, Arizona

49-year-old gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi was fatally shot. Frank Silva Roque, the shooter, mistakenly believed Sodhi was Muslim because of the clothes he wore, his turban, and his beard. Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes thought to be worn by Middle Easterners. Frank Silva Roque was convicted and sentenced to the death penalty, but the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the sentence for life in prison, citing an extremely low IQ and mental illness. On August 4, 2002, Balbir’s brother Sukhpal was shot to death while driving a cab in San Francisco. It did appear that his shooting was an accident — a stray bullet from a nearby gang fight. Balbir’s son, Sukhwinder, was asked about the second tragedy and said “What are you going to do with anger? We like peace and we are a peaceful people.”

Dec 12, 2001 – Los Angeles, California

47-year-old Surinder Singh Sidhi was beaten by two men who entered his store, accused him of being Osama bin Laden, and beat him with metal poles. They said, “We’ll kill bin Laden today,” then hit him over twenty times with the poles. “The crime was regrettable but not surprising,” Kirtan-Singh Khalsa, spokesman for the Khalsa Council, an international council for Sikh affairs, said.“We’re deeply concerned by this event. But we are not shocked. Sikhs are accustomed to ridicule because of wearing turbans.”

February 19, 2002 – Palermo, New York

Three 18-year-old boys and one 19-year-old girl burned down the Sikh temple Gobinde Sadan.The teens told authorities that they believed the temple was named “Go Bin Laden.”

May 20, 2003 – Phoenix, Arizona

Avtar Singh, 52, a Sikh immigrant, was shot and wounded. Sigh parked his 18-wheeler in Phoenix and called his son to pick him up. While he was waiting, at least two young white men pulled up and started yelling. Singh said “I hear that voice: ‘Go back to where you belong to.’ And at the same time I heard the shot.”

Mar 14, 2004 – Fresno, California

Vandals spray-painted graffiti saying “Rags Go Home” and “It’s Not Your Country” on the Gurdwara Sahib temple in Fresno. It was not the first time the temple had been defaced — in 2003, vandals struck five nights in a row, spraying paint and hurling firecrackers at the temple.

July 12, 2004 – New York

Sikhs Rajinder Singh Khalsa (above, after the attack) and Gurcharan Singh were viciously beaten by an intoxicated group of Caucasian males in their 20s. 54-year-old Rajinder Singh Khalsa was walking to the Tandoori Express Restaurant with his cousin Gurcharan Singh when the group of Caucasian males in their 20s began to taunt them, referencing September 11th and making fun of their turbans. Rajinder Singh Khalsa attempted to explain the significance to the attackers, who responded by assaulting him. He was beaten unconscious and was found to have multiple broken bones.

May 24, 2007 – Queens, New York

A 15-year-old Sikh student had his hair forcibly cut by a fellow student at Newtown High School in Queens. Unshorn hair is a religious imperative for a Sikh, and the student tried to explain that to his assailant, who threatened him with scissors.

January 14, 2008 – New Hyde Park, New York

Baljeet Singh, a 63-year-old Sikh, was attacked outside his temple by a man who screamed “Arab, go back to your country.” Wood then allegedly told Chadha “you don’t listen” and punched him in the face. Singh suffered a broken nose and a fractured jaw.

June 5, 2008 – Queens, New York

A 9th grade Sikh student at Richmond Hill High School was attacked by a fellow student. The bully sought to remove his Sikh classmate’s patka from behind, and hit him in the face with keys. The victim ended up in the hospital with severe bruising and swelling. The victim had been reporting the bully for months, after the bully allegedly teased the child often, tugging on the victim’s beard and asking why he didn’t shave.

January 30, 2009 – New York

Jasmir Singh was attacked by three men around 4 AM outside a grocery store in Queens with a glass bottle. Jasmir’s friend who was with him the morning of the attack, told the police that while Jasmir was being attacked, racist slurs were used as the criminals aimed at Jasmir’s beard and turban. His father was attacked on the Subway two years later.

May 30, 2011 – New York Subway

Jasmir Singh’s father, MTA worker Jiwan Singh, a U.S. resident for thirty years, was accosted on the A train and accused of being related to Osama Bin Laden. The attacker then repeatedly punched Singh in the face. The victim lost three teeth. His daughter, Piarry, 18, said “I just wish people were not cruel.”

Sadly, these incidents only represent a fraction of the crimes — many of which certainly go unreported — that are perpetrated against Sikhs in the United States. A 2007 survey of Sikh students by the Sikh Coalition found that three out of four male students interviewed “had been teased or harassed on account of their religious identity.”

That discrimination has worsened significantly since 9/11. Sikhs have struggled with trying to prove to the hateful that they are not Muslims or Arabs, while still believing in equality and fair treatment for those groups as well. Today’s incident may or may not end up being classified as a hate crime, but regardless: the Sikh people certainly deserve the respect and acceptance of their fellow Americans rather than the scorn, ridicule, and violence they are too often subjected to.

Source: Real Sikhism

realsikhism.com

The UIDAI project: why some of the optimism might be Nir-aadhar


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A few months ago Nandan Nilekani had published an editorial in the National Medical Journal of India extolling the virtues of the Aadhar project for health. His article is available at Editorial-II.pdf

Anant Bhan  and Sunita Bandewar have responded to this article questioning some of the claims in the editorial.The resposne hasbeen published in the latest NMJI and is  below
The UIDAI project: why some of the optimism might be nir-aadhar

The article by Nandan Nilekani in the NMJI 2011 May-June issue[1] provides an interesting laundry list of advantages which an Aadhar number could provide to those registered through the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Nonetheless, it is surprising to see no equivalent of a limitations section. The article fails to present a holistic and full picture of the landscape- in absence of any reference to expected challenges, the potential for duplication of existing mechanisms; and
threats the Aadhar project poses, particularly to privacy of personal information of individuals, and data security– and mention of any proposed measures the UIDAI is taking to address these.  Even a cursory uninformed examination of the claims in the article will lead the reader to believe that while the intention is laudable, the process and means can definitely be causes of concern. As readers, we had several questions related to the approach to, implementation of as well as legislative
adequacy of the UIDAI initiative and their implications for its success. .

 
Why two sets of identification data?

It is unclear as to why two sets of identification data – demographic and bio-informatics – are required for securing an Aadhar number. Also, the operational aspects and possible misuse could be causes of concern. Currently individuals face many problems in fulfilling the expectations of producing proof of residence, birth date etc. for securing other key government identification documents (such as voting card, passport and ration card) and it is unspecified how similar tribulations would be minimized for those seeking an Aadhar number?

Would securing an Aadhar number truly remain voluntary? 

While some benefits of having an Aadhar number are pointed out like immunization tracking for children, the system also worrying suggests a clear link between basic health provisioning (such as immunization) and the need for official proof of being an Indian resident (to be certified through the possession of an Aadhar number). If this is indeed the case, it would mean that providers especially in the public healthcare system might not be able to provide any kind of health services to vulnerable populations like ‘illegal’ immigrants in the country. It should not be the duty or responsibility of a healthcare provider to sit in judgment on a patient’s legal status of entitlement of health services. A patient presenting at a healthcare facility without an Aadhar number might be suspected of being a non-citizen- and stigmatized- and not provided any health services, or even worse, pursued by the state machinery. Linking Aadhar to essential public health services like immunization could mean that undocumented immigrants, among other vulnerable groups, would shun health programs and hence put themselves and others in the community at risk of vaccine-preventable and other communicable conditions.

Although, it is currently voluntary to opt to secure an Aadhar number, the emphasis on its use in health care context in the way Nilekani advocates in the article might run the risk of Aadhar number becoming almost inevitable and “mandatory” for better, swifter and smoother access to health care in due course of time. Aadhar has already become compulsory for LPG provision by government oil companies as part of a pilot project in Mysore[2]. Similar concerns have been expressed by others, too[3].

Wouldn’t the proposal of use of Aadhar for immunization tracking be duplication of efforts? 

The government has already launched a separate system for maternal and child health tracking,including immunization[4] through the National Rural Health Mission Health Management Information System  (http://nrhm-mis.nic.in/mchtracking.htm     http://nrhm-mcts.nic.in/) and it’s not clear why UIDAI should aim to replicate the same through Aadhar. We believe there might be other instances where such replication of efforts might be probable- this is both a waste of resources and increases the chances of threats to data security.

Is the health system sufficiently equipped to use Aadhar number? 

Assuming the Aadhar number could finally be used in the health care context as Nilekani delineates, is our health system equipped with the required e-platform across the nation; and are there adequately trained human resources to run such a sophisticated system  available, or being recruited, at every level within the health system?  It appears that the use of the Aadhar number as envisioned would warrant inter-ministerial and inter-sectoral coordination and resource investment for its meaningful realization. It is not clear as to how this is being planned and executed.

 
Would the system to protect privacy and data protection be truly foolproof? 

The issue of privacy of personal information (especially health) and associated challenges are not mentioned in the article. It is also not clear as how data safety will be ensured. In response to one of the questions in the parliament regarding mechanisms to protect data from unauthorised use in UIDAI, it was said that the data would be encrypted at source along with measures such as limiting physical use, and putting standard security infrastructure[5].

We wonder if that would be sufficient given the current trends of data theft from the supposedly safe and well protected sectors, such as banking and information technology which use similar mechanisms. As instances of theft and misuse of information becomes commonplace, as evidenced by increasing credit card fraud and frequent hacking of government websites[6],any framework for information collection which does not have robust safeguards  should be grounds for concern. As well, India does not have any coherent policy or law governing data encryption [7],[8], [9].

In the contemporary context of globalised terrorism, it would also be challenging for the UIDAI to comply with the promise of confidentiality towards data collected if faced with mounting pressures from investigation and intelligence agencies, whether domestic or foreign, to share bioinformatics information of individuals suspected to be associated with terrorism and violence.  Although a
somewhat different context, the recent episode of a vaccination campaign launched by the US intelligence agency CIA aimed specifically at collecting DNA samples from the Osama Bin Laden household in Abbottabad in Pakistan[10] is representative of reasons for our concerns on this front of the potential of misuse of a public health program collecting identifiable data.

The initial Aadhar registration system being implemented also provides reason for worry. As the enrolment process has been sub-contracted via tenders to private firms, there is seemingly no guarantee of how information and data security will be maintained. Moreover, ensuring data protection from interested parties such as insurance companies who could choose to deny health insurance coverage to individuals based on their health profiles is paramount. Unless stringent safeguards are built in, the Aadhar number could be a serious and risky intrusion into our privacy.

Furthermore, it is ambiguous as to how harmonization and reconciliation across various legal apparatuses, such as, the National Identification Authority of India Bill and the proposed Right to Privacy Bill[11] would be achieved with regards to protecting personal information gathered under the Aadhar project.

Against this backdrop,we believe the editorial by Nilekani raises more questions than provides answers, and hence it is apt to question the claims of the article.

Finally, we also find it disconcerting that though the author declares his affiliation with the UIDAI, there is no conflict of interest statement in the article. Nilekani as head of the initiative is expected to have a positive bias towards the program. We believe it would have been good practice for a conflict of interest statement to have been appended with the article.

Anant Bhan, Pune, Maharashtra
anantbhan@gmail.com

Sunita V S  Bandewar, Pune, Maharashtra
sunita.bandewar@utoronto.ca

REFERENCES

________________________________

[1]Nilekani N. Building a foundation for better health: The role of the Aadhaar number. Natl Med J India.2011 May-Jun;24(3):133-5.

[2]Milton L. Aadhaar number to be must for LPG services. The Times of India. 2011 Aug 8 [cited 2011 Aug 18]. Available: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mysore/Aadhaar-number-to-be-must-for-LPG-services/articleshow/9533385.cms

[3]Ramanathan U. A private right or a public affair? Tehelka Magazine. 2011 Jul 9 [cited 2011 Aug 18]; Vol 8, issue 27. Available:  http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne090711PROSCONS.asp

[4]Government Health. Now, a tracking system for immunisation in India. 2011 August 3 [cited 2011 August 18]. Available:
http://www.igovernment.in/site/now-tracking-system-immunisation-india

[5]  Unique Identification Authority of India. Government of India Planning Commission, Rajya Sabha Questions. Question no 393(Answered on 2011 Feb 24) [cited 2011 Aug 20].  Available:http://uidai.gov.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=171&Itemid=150#rs

[6]Kurup D. ‘State actor’ linked to major cyber intrusions in India, world. The Hindu Bangalore edition. 2011 Aug 4 [cited 2011 Aug 18]. Available: http://www.thehindu.com/news/article2319894.ece

[7]Data Security Council of India.Recommendations for Encryption Policy Regulation u/s 84A of the Information
Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008.  Prepared by DSCI/NASSCOM with inputs from the industry.  2009 Jul 13 [cited 2011 Aug 16]. Available:http://www.dsci.in/sites/default/files/encryption_policy_dsci_final_submission_to_dit.pdf

[8]Dalal, P.Encryption policy of India needed.  2011 Jun 19 [cited 2011 Aug 5]. Available: http://ictps.blogspot.com/2011/06/encryption-policy-of-india-is-needed.html

[9]Waris S. Government asleep over encryption regulations. 2009 Aug 20 [cited 2011 Aug 21], Available: http://www.legallyindia.com/20090820138/Legal-opinions/government-asleep-over-encryption-regulations

[10]Reardon S. Pakistan. Decrying CIA vaccination sham, health workers brace for backlash. Science.2011 Jul 22;333(6041):395.

[11]Venkatesan J. Bill on ‘right to privacy’ in monsoon session: Moily. The Hindu, 2011 June 7 [cited 2011 Aug 17]. Available: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2082643.ece

Koodankulam Alert 22 nd March 2012


Idinthakarai Update March 22, 2012

The situation here is still grim. There are some 10,000 people from coastal and interior villages. Most of them are women including pregnant women and nursing women.
I myself saw many nursing women feeding their babied sweetened water as there was no milk coming to the village. More people are coming by boats and on foot as the access roads are all blocked by police. There is no bus service to this place.
There is no sanitary complex and women bear the brunt of it. No public health official has ever come to help the people.

Some 15 of us have been on indefinite hunger strike and no medical doctor has ever come here to check our health. The Dinamalam newspaper has reported today that we have all been eating heartily and pretending to be fasting. If this anti-Tamil
newspaper can prove that there is a trace of food in my or Pushparayan’sstomach, we are ready to leave this protest. Otherwise, will they stop publishing this stupid paper? We are fighting for a cause not prostituting our soul like
the Dinamalam does.

On March 21,my mother had received a phone call from one advocate by the name T. Udayakumar and he claimed he was calling from the DGP office in Chennai. He asked my mother to ask me to leave the protest so that all the cases against me would be dropped and I would get whatever I ask for. My mother told him that I was not a man of that nature and ended the conversation. That evening the Superintendent of Police of Tirunelveli District called me on my mobile and asked me to
surrender alone so that people would not be affected. I told him that I was all ready for that but the people here at Idinthakarai also wanted to get arrested along with me and they would not let me go alone. I proposed to the SP to send enough number of buses and two police officers so that there would not be any stampede or tussle and we all would board the buses peacefully and go wherever they wanted us to go. He would not accept that proposition and said in anger: “This is the last time I talk to you.” There ended our conversation.

That night the police officer who was on security duty at our SACCER Matriculation School outside Nagercoil town had received a phone call from the Kanyakumari District SP office to go away from the school. Then a group of vandals, obviously with
the blessings of the police, had entered the school and destroyed it very badly. The compound wall was completely demolished and the gate damaged. They ransacked the school bus after tearing down the car shed’s iron shutters. They had entered the KG classrooms and destroyed all the small little chairs which my children were using to sit on. They had broken all the tables and chairs and I do not understand why they punished my little children like this. The vandals had entered our school library and destroyed all the 12 glass bookshelves and tables and threw away the books.

My 250 children are all avid readers and have been using our library extensively. This reminds me of the burning of the
Public Library at Jaffna a few years ago.

The governments and the police treat and speak of me as if I were Osama bin Laden and our people some mindless terrorists. We resent this inhuman and brutal treatment . Electricity, water, milk and other essentials have been cut for two days; people
cannot go out of and come into Idinthakarai as there is brutal police control. We are surrounded by police and I truly feel like I am at Mullivaickal.

We are a group of simple people who have been fighting nonviolently and democratically against an untested foreign reactor with all kinds of problems and hiccups. We have not done any harm to anybody or anybody’s property in our eight-month long
struggle. The whole country is proud of our people.

The stalemate continues. There are protests happening all over the country and the state of Tamil Nadu. Whoever is farsighted enough to worry about the future of India’s “ordinary citizens,” our natural resources, the well-being of our progeny, the possibility of losing our freedom to the New Nuclear East India Companies and most importantly, the democratic fabric of our country support us. We thank them and you for standing with us. We are ready for any brutal police action but will not give up our nonviolent noncooperation camp.

From: “S. P. Udayakumar”

 

The path of isolation


 | Opinion | 

OUR state machinery revved into quick action last week to denounce the hearings on Balochistan conducted by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

The Politics of Identity


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