Karnataka – What women want – Open letter to Congress #Vaw #Womenrights

Vaishalli Chandra , oneindia one news : Friday, May 10, 2013,

Bangalore, May 9: With Congress getting a clear lead in the recently held Karnataka Assembly Elections 2013, they are busy deciding who will be the next CM. There is one issue that takes centre stage for women – that of their safety. An open letter to Congress – on what women expect out of the government: To Congress, Congratulations on your win. I am sure, it will feel good that finally you have come to power in a state that was beginning to turn saffron. Now, let me not beat around the bush and put forth my wish list (actually it is more of a demand, but I will try a polite approach, for now). Under the last government, I did not feel safe

Wish #1: NO moral policing, no deadlines, whatsoever. Yes. The last government, tried it and see where it is now. Do not judge me by the way I dress, speak, company I keep, places I visit (pubs et al), time of the day (or night). Do not make it a basis to refuse to help me in distress. It is my right to freedom, provided by the Indian Constitution (Article 19 (1) (a) Right to freedom of speech and expression). It doesn’t help if you curb my movement either. Therefore, even before you think of coming with any brilliant ‘deadline for women’ ideas, I’d humbly request you to put them away. Actually, throw that thought out completely, burn it, if possible. Let’s understand that a deadline is NOT a solution you can provide to make me feel secure. (Remember, most stats point at violence at home – so) Try instead to 1. Light up – dark alleys and by-lanes. 2. Public transportation – provide better last mile connectivity. 3. Police patrolling – presence of the cops can keep trouble-makers at bay.



Wish #2: Gender Sensitisation Top cops in the past have pointed fingers at women, saying it is there fault crimes happen to them. Therefore, you really need to get the police task force ‘gender sensitised’. What would really make me feel secure and safe is that when I approach a cop on the road, he listens to me and acts on my complaint, instead of making me feel guilty of my choice of clothes, company I keep, location I choose or the time of the hour (repetition of wishlist #1). Moral policing by the police is NOT acceptable. Really. No-lip service, put a feedback mechanism in place, so when you do spend money and time into the sensitisation of the police force, you know that it was spent well. Encourage feedback from the people to access how well your policemen behave. When you get scathing feedback from us, work on it feedback. Don’t get angry and/or get preachy. Incentivise (monetarily) the good behaviour of the policemen. You will be surprised how far that can take you. Also, since I commute by the public transport that the government provides, I’d really appreciate if there is a helpline number in all the buses that: (a. functions; (b. functions even past 6pm (life goes on after sunset, you know).

Wish #3: Fix the ‘headlessness’ of the Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW): Your manifesto under the section Women Welfare, reads very vague. Here’s what it reads: ‘Undertake programmes in schools, colleges and industries for gender sensitisation and prevention of sexual harassment by involving NGO’s and voluntary organisations and giving them financial incentives.’ Without a preamble then. You do have an uphill task when it comes to providing a sense of security to the women in the state. Your immediate job responsibility should be to fill the vacant post of Karnataka Women’s Commission’s post, that has been vacant ever since C Manjula resigned to join politics early this year. A report in an English daily, pointed out that even the counselling sessions that are held every Tuesday and Friday have become less frequent. That is sad. The counselling sessions were helpful because the chairperson could give oral instruction to the police to help the women in distress. Once a chairperson is appointed, ensure that the KSCW’s website is re-vamped. Look at it yourself. You will not find anything of use to women in distress, apart from brochures that date back to 2012. Wake up it is Mid-2013. As a web-savvy woman I can tell you this, this website is offering me no help. It doesn’t even tell me what the KWC is all about. The ‘About’ page describes the commission in Kannada only, what about an urban population that cannot read Kannada? Is the Commission selective, in who it will help? Shouldn’t the website have information in Kannada and English. The team has a table with names and numbers. With C Manjula still listed as the chairperson of the commission. Think it is time to update that too.

Wish #4: Implement the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Law: This law is still in a nascent stage. It will be up to you to direct the concerned department to ensure it is followed. Maybe, a good starting point would be to ensure that all organisations have an in-house committee. Without these committees in place the law is of no use to women. Do, you think you will be able to get these in place along with your ‘gender sensitisation’ programs in schools, colleges and the workplace? Undersigned, A woman, who loves this city to bits.

Read more at: http://news.oneindia.in/feature/2013/wish-list-to-congress-from-a-city-woman-1212783.html?google_editors_picks=true


Congress not for chemical castration #goodnews #vaw #justice

PTI, The Hindu , Jan 5, 2012

The Congress on Saturday submitted its suggestions on stringent laws for crimes against women to Justice J.S. Verma Committee even as it disfavoured chemical castration of rapists.

Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said the suggestions were given to the panel set up in the wake of the gang-rape incident in Delhi that led to outrage across the country.

While details of the suggestions given to the committee were not immediately known, the party has been favouring imprisonment up to 30 years for rapists and setting up of fast-track courts as also redefining the juvenile act by reducing the age limit.

Leaders like Renuka Chaudhary had sought chemical castration of rapists but the party has made it clear that no such suggestion has been made by party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Ms. Gandhi recently held a meeting with top leaders as also experts for consultations over the issue. The suggestions were given a day after the party top brass, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gandhi, held deliberations.

The Verma Committee was set up on December 23 with a mandate to review the present statute so as to provide for speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault. The Committee has to submit its report in 30 days.

#Gujarat #Elections -Banned Congress Ad on Modi #censorship

Narendra Modi at a BJP rally

Narendra Modi at a BJP rally (Photo credit: Al Jazeera English)

A hilarious advertisement  in Gujarati censored by election commission.





The Gangs of Lootpur much ahead of Gangs of Wasseypur



How corruption in coal is closely linked to political funding

M Rajshekhar, ET Bureau
(The rise in corruption in…)

It was a roundtable on ‘campaign finance reforms in India‘, but it brought up a mathematical equation that showed how corruption in coal could ultimately be traced to political funding. Speaking at the Observer Research Foundation event in February, BJP MP Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “In Goa (which was going to elections then), each candidate, whether from the Congress or the BJP (or other political parties), would be spending Rs 5-7 crore.” The official Election Commission ceiling is Rs 16 lakh.

At the roundtable, Congress MP Manish Tewari said there were reports of candidates spending Rs 18-20 crore each during the Punjab elections in January. “The vigilance of the Election Commission (on spending ceilings) is driving a lot of this money underground.” The average was Rs 3-5 crore per candidate, added Niranjan Sahoo, a senior fellow at the Foundation researching electoral funding.

An extrapolation of this across the political spectrum throws up some humungous numbers— and a gaping hole between revenues and expenses of political parties. In the 2009 general elections, the Congress contested 403 seats.

Rs 5 crore for each seat adds up to Rs 2,000 crore. India’s 5,000 assembly seats, says Sahoo, are even more keenly contested, and more money is spent here.

Even at Rs 5 crore per seat, that’s Rs 25,000 crore. Or, a total of Rs 27,000 crore.

Yet, for the five years to 2011-12, the Congress declared revenues of Rs 1,662 crore.

The BJP, the other national party, declared Rs 852 crore. Sahoo estimates parties are declaring no more than 10-20% of their incomes.

If so, where do parties and politicians get the remaining 80-90% from? According to Sahoo, increasingly, they are not extracting rent from programmes that are politically beneficial like NREGA and PDS.

Instead, he adds, they are moving to minerals and natural resources.

“This is a form of corruption the common man stays more or less oblivious to,” he says.

The scent of such corruption hovered over the allotment of 150 coal blocks to private players between 2005 and 2010 for captive use, and their subsequent commissioning, aspects of which are currently being probed by India’s apex investigating agency.

“Rent-seeking has been rampant,” says a former senior bureaucrat in the coal ministry, not wanting to be identified.

It wasn’t so always. When the coal industry began, it was distant from politics. But as it transited through its four distinct phases, that connection became progressively stronger, and culminated in the 2005-10 allotments.


This is the period depicted in the first part of Anurag Kashyap’s two-part film Gangs of Wasseypur. Coal mines were controlled by local mafias and business families, some of whom were asked by the Centre to step in after the British left.

This arrangement had its problems, says a former official of Coal India Limited (CIL), not wanting to be named. “Miners were not selling to core users (namely, power, steel and cement), but to whoever could pay the most,” he says. “Some would shut down the mine whenever it was not profitable for them. On the whole, there was a problem matching coal supply with the government’s development plans and needs. Labour, too, was treated harshly.”

However, national politics accessed little money from mines, says Sahoo. “In some cases, like the Dhanbad coal mafia, the miners entered politics. But the reasons were mainly to protect their own local interests—by controlling the appointment of local bureaucrats, etc.”

“It was very local,” adds a Union cabinet minister who has headed the coal ministry previously and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Some politicians, local leaders used to take money from these mafia. But you did not have national leaders going down there.”


This began to change after Indira Gandhi nationalised coal—coking coal in 1973 and non-coking coal in 1974-75—and brought everything under CIL and its subsidiaries. According to AK Singh, a former general manager of Western Coalfields, a CIL subsidiary, coal was nationalised for three main reasons: “To exploit coal more scientifically and increase production; to curb unethical practices; and to take better care of employees and develop nearby communities.”

For some time, says Singh, the plan worked well. Production gradually rose from 70 million tonnes (MT), and stood at 431 MT in 2010. However, with nationalisation, the presence of politicians also increased. Singh also traces this to the rise of coalition politics. Buying and selling of MPs picked up, because of which parties’ need for cash increased.

Ministers began treating the PSU, says the ex-CIL employee quoted earlier, as “no more than their private colony.” Posts of MD and chairman began to be sold. “This started in the late-nineties when two people with vigilance cases against them were made acting heads of coal PSUs,” says a former CIL chairman.


A Dalit betrayed: ‘Rahul bhaiyya has forgotten me

by Danish Raza May 3, 2012

A Dalit betrayed: ‘Rahul bhaiyya has forgotten me’

Shivkumari and her son working in the fields: Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Amethi, Uttar Pradesh: Shivkumari’s home is a tiny five foot by five foot room. It is bare except for a lantern, a few utensils, and a bale of hay lying in the corner. She feeds her family by working in the fields during harvest season. In these three months, she earns Rs 3000 a month. For the rest of the year, she does odd jobs at Brahamin and Thakur households in the village.

Today, the mother of five is disillusioned but resigned to her fate. Yet she still remembers the night that made her famous; 15 January 2009 when she stood in her tiny home, trembling with hope.

“Do you feel cold?” asked the man holding both her hands.

“No. I am scared,” she replied, gasping.

“Look at me, I am your brother. I am here to end all your woes,” he assured her, breaking her precarious reserve. Shivkumari began listing her many woes: her inability to pay the loans taken by her late husband, Lallan Harijan,and how much she wanted work under MNREGA, a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card, or a house under the Indira Gandhi Avaas Yojna scheme.

“I will change everything. You will not remain a Dalit,” responded Rahul bhaiyya, as Shivkumari called him.

The next morning, Rahul Gandhi’s motorcade left Semra, Shivkumari’s hamlet in Amethi, leaving behind a cloud of dust and hope of a better life.

The overnight stay of Rahul Gandhi and then Britain Secretary of State David Miliband at her shanty home made Shivkumari an overnight star. In the months to come, she posed for and spoke to almost every news organization — local, national and international. Her village became a landmark of sorts in Amethi.

She was sure that her destiny and that of her village was change for the better. She was no more Shivkumari, the ‘dalit’.

But that hope proved to be a mirage. Two winters have passed, and yet Shivkumari continues to live in abject poverty. Not one of the many woes she conveyed to the Congress general secretary has been addressed.

“Rahul bhaiyya has forgotten me,” she says with a stoic face.

Shivkumari with her children at her home in Semra village, Amethi: Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

For weeks after Gandhi’s visit, Shivkumari says, the attitude of the villagers, especially the upper castes, changed towards her. They were very cautious in how they addressed her. But that respect proved to be temporary.

“Soon they realised that it was all sugary talk and I was still the same harijan,” she says. Adulation turned into sarcasm. “They would say, why have you come to us to get your work done when you have direct access to Rahul ji.”

The village pradhan did indeed give her work under MNREGA. But she was never issued with a job card and could work for only three months. “She never became a beneficiary on paper,” says Dhananjay Singh, a Kashyap (upper caste) native of Semra village.

According to Singh, Shivkumari’s experience has become a lesson for his fellow villagers, who no longer pay heed to Gandhi’s visits to Dalit households.

“There is not a single instance where people from the Party state unit have done follow ups of such visits. Rahul ji’s intentions may be good, but if this is what he would make of a Dalit [sic], he will never get their vote,’ he says.

This inability to deliver is what likely hurt the 89 Dalits fielded by the Congress in the last Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, of whom only five won their seats. Semra was just one of 85 reserve constituencies traversed by Gandhi during his long UP campaign.

“Will you vote for Congress in the next elections?” I ask Shivkumari. “I cannot go against the mandate of my village,” she says. And there is little doubt as to what that mandate would be in Amethi.

But what if he returns?

Her answer is proud: “I will not beg before him. If he comes back, it is fine. Otherwise, I am happy with the way I am.”

U. S Supreme Court Upholds Law That Pulled Foreign Works Back Under Copyright

U.S. Supreme Court building.

Image via Wikipedia

By Jeffrey R. Young, Washington, Jan 18,2012

A professor lost his long legal fight to keep thousands of foreign musical scores, books, and other copyrighted works in the public domain when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against him on Wednesday in a case that will affect scholars and artists around the country.

The scholar is Lawrence Golan, a music professor and conductor at the University of Denver. He argued that the U.S. Congress did not have the legal authority to remove works from the public domain. It did so in 1994, when the Congress changed U.S. copyright law to conform with an international copyright agreement. The new law reapplied copyright to millions of works that had long been free for anyone to use without permission.

The Supreme Court heard the case, Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545, last October, and in a 6-to-2 ruling on Wednesday, the justices upheld the changes in U.S. copyright law.

“Neither the Copyright and Patent Clause nor the First Amendment, we hold, makes the public domain, in any and all cases, a territory that works may never exit,” declared the majority opinion, which was written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Stephen Breyer, U.S. Supreme Court judge.

Image via Wikipedia

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for himself and Justice Samuel A. Alito, faulted the Congressional action. “The fact that, by withdrawing material from the public domain, the statute inhibits an important pre-existing flow of information is sufficient, when combined with the other features of the statute that I have discussed, to convince me that the Copyright Clause, interpreted in the light of the First Amendment, does not authorize Congress to enact this statute,” he wrote.
End of the Fight

Mr. Golan’s lawyer criticized the ruling. “Obviously this is disappointing,” said the lawyer, Anthony Falzone, in an interview. He said the decision would greatly increase the number of symphonies that the professor, and artists around the country, “are now for all intents and purposes unable to perform and record because the [permissions] fee makes it infeasible.”

Mr. Golan had argued that taking works back out of the public domain would hinder creativity by making artists more cautious about remixing or otherwise using works, fearing their status could change in the future in a way that required payment to copyright holders. More broadly, academics have expressed concern that upholding the 1994 law would make it much more difficult to write books or assemble course readings without having to deal with a host of legal hurdles—or just prohibitively expensive fees—to avoid violating copyrights.

In the majority opinion, the justices noted that the restrictions of copyright law can sometimes help creativity, though, by devising a system that allows authors to collect payment when their work is used. “Congress had reason to believe that a well-functioning international copyright system would encourage the dissemination of existing and future works,” Justice Ginsberg wrote.

This marks the end of Mr. Golan’s fight, according to his lawyer, as the only remedy now would be a change in U.S. law.

“It would be highly unlikely,” said Mr. Falzone, “that Congress would amend the statute in a way that would vindicate the interests of my client and the public.”
‘A Grant of Sweeping Authority’

But the ruling could open the door for Congress to craft further changes in copyright law that scholars might consider even more restrictive, said Kenneth D. Crews, director of the copyright-advisory office at the Columbia University Libraries.

“It is a grant of sweeping authority to Congress to shape copyright law in almost any way that it chooses,” he said of the decision. “This should raise a red flag to be watchful about other developments in congress like SOPA,” he added, referring to the Stop Online Piracy Act (HR 3261).

That bill, which is under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives, and a related measure in the Senate sparked an online protest on Wednesday. Several major sources of free information, including Wikipedia, blocked access to their content temporarily and put up pages asking users to help fight against the legislation. The all-black home page on Wikipedia started with the headline “Imagine a world without free knowledge.”

Copyright holders and other owners of content, meanwhile, applauded the ruling.

The Motion Picture Association of America, for instance, issued a statement saying that it is “pleased that the Supreme Court has again ruled that strong copyright protection is the ‘engine of free expression’ and fully consistent with the First Amendment.”


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