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Archives for : March2017

Kerala minister AK Saseendran resigns after tape containing sleazy conversation with woman surfaces

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Transport Minister AK Saseendran resigned on Sunday after an audio clip emerged, in which he is heard having a lewd telephone conversation with a woman who had approached him regarding certain favours.

A K Sasendran. Twitter/ ANI

A K Saseendran. Twitter/@ANI

According to The Hindu, the 72-year-old minister, a five-time legislator and the lone Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) representative in the Pinarayi Vijayan Cabinet, announced his resignation at a news conference in Kozhikode, barely hours after Mangalam TV, owned by the Mangalam group of publications, came out with the audio clippings, marking the launch of its TV broadcasts.

Saseendran, pleading innocence, sought an objective and impartial inquiry, but said he was quitting as it was not appropriate for him to remain in the Cabinet when a probe was underway into the entire affair.

Earlier, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the media that he had taken the report seriously and promised action. Saseendran had made his debut in the Kerala Assembly in 1980 and made a return to the House in 1982, 2006 and 2011. This is his debut as a member of the state Cabinet.

According to Hindustan Times, the clip has dealt a huge blow to the CPM-led Left Democratic Front government in Kerala. The report said the woman had allegedly approached the minister for some favour. Saseendran said he doesn’t recall having the conversation. “I don’t remember talking to anyone in such a manner. I will come out unscathed. I am resigning from the ministry to uphold the integrity of my party and coalition,” the minister said.

The timing of the incident is particularly relevant, since the state of Kerala is debating growing atrocities against women and children. Last year, CPM strongman and industries minister EP Jayarajan had to quit on charges of nepotism.

With inputs from IANS

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Bill providing #deathpenalty for cow slaughter introduced in RS #WTFnews

DNA CORRESPONDENT | Sat, 25 Mar 2017-06:55am , New Delhi , DNA

In the history of Indian parliament, only one private member’s bill has so far become a law.

Keeping date with his promise, BJP member Dr Subramanian Swamy on Friday introduced the Cow Protection Bill, 2017 that could invite controversy for providing death penalty for slaughter of the ‘revered’ bovine.

Moving the private member bill, Swamy said, “I beg to move for leave to introduce a Bill to create an Authority to ensure stabilization of population of cows (Bos Indicus) and to suggest such measures to comply with Articles 37 and 48 of the Constitution, to ban the slaughter of cows and to provide for deterrent punishment including death penalty for slaughter of cows and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

In the history of Indian parliament, only one private member’s bill has so far become a law. Almost as a thumb rule scores of private members bills, that are introduced in Parliament each session, are withdrawn by the respective members after the government gives its views or assurance on those particular subjects.

With the motion getting adopted by the House, the bill is expected to be discussed in the Rajya Sabha in the coming week or next and may see some fireworks because of the controversy surrounding it. During the last couple of years, cow protection has become a contentious issue in north India with vigilante groups punishing and even murdering people of the minority community and even Dalits for allegedly consuming or killing cows.

Invoking Mahatma Gandhi in its statement of objects and reasons, the bill referring to article 37 and 48 of the Constitution calls for “a law to be enacted to ban the slaughter of all cows as wished by Mahatma Gandhi as an imperative for free Independent India” and recommends “punishment including death penalty as a necessary deterrent for the prevention of the criminal offence of cow slaughter.”

The bill provides that the authority should have Animal Husbandry Secretary and five eminent persons from fields like agricultural economics, animal welfare and ancient Indian history or culture.

It says that the body should formulate schemes to provide for health of cows and calves and provide funds to help incentivise adoption of cow and setting up ‘goshalas’.

“The authority should also recommend to the Central government, deterrent penalties including death penalty, to those who commit offences against cows,” the bill says.

It says that the Authority should frame syllabus for awareness about importance of cows protection and development all over the country and that the Authority should prepare an annual report which should be tabled in the Parliament.

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Rise of Hindu ‘extremist’ spooks Muslim minority in India’s heartland

Supporters of the BJP celebrate a stunning election victory in Uttar Pradesh.

In Gorakhpur, the power base of a firebrand monk, religious tension grows with Uttar Pradesh’s 40 million Muslims

Pastor Ritesh Joshua had just called a tea break when he saw the men in the saffron scarves. More than a hundred, some wielding sticks, had massed outside his white stucco church on the outskirts of Gorakhpur, a temple town in eastern Uttar Pradesh. It was three days after Christmas.

“They started shouting, ‘You are converting people. We will not allow any conversions here’,” he says. “They shoved people, turned over furniture, and told me, ‘You are the main culprit’.”

The men, allegedly part of a religious activist group called the Hindu Yuva Vahini, cornered one of the parishioners. Smartphone footage shows the woman pulling her blue shawl tightly around herself as she answers questions about her involvement with the church. “No one is forcing me to convert,” she insists.

“If the police hadn’t arrived, we don’t know what would have happened next,” Joshua says. “After the men left, everyone in the church was silent, so frightened. This is a time of testing for us.”

Last week, the monk who founded the HYV, and whose firebrand Hindu supremacist vision guides the organisation, was selected by the party of prime minister Narendra Modi to lead the most populous state in India – the equivalent of the sixth largest nation on earth.

Yogi Adityanath’s appointment as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, about a fifth of whose 200 million people are Muslim, is “stunning”, says Milan Vaishnav, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a foreign policy thinktank. “He is an extremist in terms of his speeches, a very proud rabble-rouser, and somebody who doesn’t have a claim to fame other than a dedication to a strident form of Hindu nationalism.”

“It is an important and disturbing moment,” agrees Ramachandra Guha, an author and historian. “It is the fringe moving to the mainstream.”

The boyish face of Adityanath, 44, beamed down on Gorakhpur last week from thousands of green-and-saffron banners plastered along its main road. On Sunday, tens of thousands of people are expected to line the road for his triumphant return to Gorakhpur, the electorate he has represented for almost two decades in the Uttar Pradesh parliament.

Another addition to the city streets last week were squads of police officers hunting so-called “Romeos”. Along with a ban on buffalo slaughter, cracking down on amorous young men was a key campaign promise of the ruling Bharatiya Janata party. Officially, the police are targeting “Eve-teasing”, the endemic sexual harassment that blights some Indian streets. But critics instead see a crackdown on mixed-religion couples, in line with Adityanath’s fevered, baseless warnings that Muslim men are trying to seduce Hindu women as part of “love jihad”.

Yogi Adityanath, the hardline Hindu leader, prepares to meet party leaders.
Yogi Adityanath, the hardline Hindu leader, prepares to meet party leaders. Photograph: Manish Swarup/AP

The surprise appointment of Adityanath to run the state has deeply rattled Manoj Singh, a Gorakhpur journalist who has spent the last two decades tracking the new chief minister and the HYV men he labels a “private army”. He recalls, 10 years ago, when the city boiled with religious tension after the murder of a Hindu man, and Adityanath rose to address a crowd of HYV supporters outside the Gorakhpur railway station.


“We cannot tolerate such incidents any more,” he told the men. “It has crossed all limits. If someone sets ablaze the houses and shops of Hindus, then I do not think that someone stops you from doing such things.

“Get ready for a final battle,” he says. Court documents allege Adityanath’s followers then went on a rampage, burning Muslim-owned properties and an Islamic mausoleum. “I saw the burned shops,” Singh says. “I saw the Muslim men who ran the shops trying to douse the fire. I knew one of the shopkeepers. He was very emotional. He said, ‘Look what has happened to me. I’m ruined’.”

Adityanath was arrested and imprisoned for 11 days. He broke down in parliament recalling the ordeal. But, Singh says, his fiery rhetoric was unchanged. “If [Muslims] kill one Hindu man, then we will kill 100 Muslim men,” he has said since. But Adityanath began to distance himself from frontline violence. “He took a political turn,” Singh says. “He started having political dreams.”

Hinduism is a poor soil for fundamentalists such as Adityanath to grow. The world’s third most-practised religion has no pope, no mandatory scripture, no impulse to convert new believers. The caste system has sown division deep into its DNA. Wherever Hinduism has taken and flourished across Asia it has blended with and infused local cultures, forming what author Sunil Khilnani has called a “bewildering internal pluralism”.

It was contact with more rigid doctrines, first the Islam of the Mughals, then the Christianity of the British, that first planted the seeds of political Hinduism. They grew with demands for Indian independence, as those who sought freedom for the extraordinarily diverse subcontinent grappled with the question: what was an Indian, anyway?

Jawarharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, opted for the broadest possible answer. The India his Congress party advocated was, he wrote, proudly plural: “An ancient palimpsest on which layer upon layer of thought and reverie had been inscribed, and yet no succeeding layer had completely hidden or erased what had been written previously”.

But Hindu nationalists such as Vinayak Savarkar, discerned in the countless communities that populated modern-day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh an essential “Hindutva”, or Hindu-ness, that persisted no matter what faith an Indian practised.

“Religious minorities will all have the right to practise their religion”, Savarkar wrote of the India he envisioned – but they were inescapably citizens of a Hindu “rashtra”, or nation.

“This vision of Indian history is one of victimhood,” says Guha. “That Hindus were first persecuted by the Muslims, then the British, and they can only recover when they repudiate all that is Muslim and British in their past.”

The elevation of Adityanath is part of that “old battle between the Congress and the rightwing Hindu parties”, he says. For the first 40 years after independence, Hindu nationalists struggled to summon more than 10% of the national vote. But their appeal has surged in the past quarter-century, culminating in the election three years ago of Modi, the staunchest Hindutva flag bearer ever to occupy the prime minister’s residence.

Other than Modi’s political talents, Guha says the growth of Hindu nationalism is partly down to poor leadership in the Congress party, whose most prominent leader is Nehru’s great-grandson, Rahul Gandhi.

“But it is also part of a regional and global phenomenon of religious nationalism. You see it now in Turkey, and in our neighbourhood, with Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are parallels with Sri Lanka. And even in America, when George Bush said Jesus was his favourite philosopher,You can’t blame Rahul Gandhi for everything,” he says.

Modi was briefly an international pariah over his Gujarat state government’s alleged role in ignoring, and possibly abetting, deadly Hindu-Muslim riots in the state in 2002. But he assiduously reinvented his image in the decade before winning power in 2014, projecting himself as a pro-business, Apple Watch-sporting statesman obsessed with economic development.

In power, Modi has been coy about his Hindu nationalist agenda, prioritising issues such as tax reform and corruption crackdowns over the national ban on cow slaughter his party championed on the campaign trail.

With the selection of Adityanath, “the veil has been lifted”, says Vaishnav, from the Carnegie Endowment. “It answers one of the questions that we had about Modi all along,” he says. “Is this guy’s project about development or Hindu nationalism? What this pick reaffirms is that it’s not an either/or question. He has two faces: one is Modi the great economic moderniser, and the other is one of muscular nationalism – and Adit is its starkest manifestation,” he says.

Yogi Adityanath, left, with the party president Amit Shah in Delhi.
Yogi Adityanath, left, with the party president Amit Shah in Delhi. Photograph: Rajat Gupta/EPA

In Zafara Bazar, a Muslim district of Gorakhpur, Gulshan Ali is talking bitterly near the butcher shop where he worked until last Monday: “They talked about ‘development for all’, but the moment Adityanath became chief minister he started taking away our jobs,” he says. That was when – less than 24 hours after Adityanath was sworn in – police officers told him the business was being shut. “We didn’t get any notice,” another butcher, Jawad Ali, says. He pleaded that his shop sold only buffalo, not the cow meat that many Hindus eschew. “But they told me, ‘From today, your business is closed’.”

A thick blanket now hangs over Jawad Ali’s shopfront, and he passes his days with other out-of-work butchers reading the newspaper and gossiping darkly about what might be coming next. “For several generations we’ve been butchers,” he says. He admits he has been operating his shop unlicensed for the 15 years – but not for lack of trying. “Since 2002 the government stopped renewing meat licences because of Yogi Adityanath and his movement,” he says.

A previous government, one that relied on Muslim votes to hold office, worked out a compromise between its voter base and the growing clamour to ban cow and buffalo meat in the state: butchers such as Ali would be denied licences, but allowed to continue running their businesses.

The bargain held until Adityanath’s unexpected ascension. The crackdown on butchers has left up to 2,500 families in Gorakhpur without an income.

Heightening their frustration is that India is the world’s largest exporter of buffalo meat, with most of the companies run by Hindus who see no clash with their beliefs. “Here they’ve found a new god in buffalo,” one of the meat-workers mutters.

The chief preoccupation for many Muslims in the city is what comes next for the HYV. A few kilometres from Zafar Bazar is the resplendent Gorakhnath Mutt, a campus of ornate, chalky white temples interspersed with manmade ponds and patches of yellow and saffron marigolds.

The temple, which Adityanath oversees as chief priest, was buzzing this week with political officials and HYV men basking in the glow of their leader’s sudden promotion. “You talk to many Muslims, in and around the campus here, they all appreciate that Yogi Adityanath has become chief minister,” says Pramod Kumar Mall, the officer in charge of the HYV.

The role of the HYV, now that its leader is the most powerful man in Uttar Pradesh, will not change, says HYV officer Pramod Kumar Mall. “We are working for the nationalist movement. We don’t want this country to disintegrate. There are so many movements who want to disintegrate the system, and we want to stop them and make people understand about it,” he says.

Regrettably, he says, there are “many” Muslims in the country working against Indian interests. “Just as President Trump has found so many, in India you will find so many.” But he is adamant that minorities in the state have nothing to fear from Adityanath’s rule. “This country belongs to them,” he says. “[As long as] they feel they are citizens of this country and feel they should respect the national religion – just as Hinduism has accepted many religions.”

Despite Mall’s assurances, Muslim community leaders in Gorakhpur are well aware of the new reality in their state. Over tea at his home, surgeon Wijahat Kareem, 62, describes his own political philosophy as “Gandhian”. “But Gandhi is losing his sheen,” he says. He chooses his words carefully. “You cannot change his heart,” he says of the new chief minister. “He will definitely favour Hindus over Muslims, but we can’t complain. This is what he has been since the beginning. You know with whom you are talking But there is hope that because of his past record he will be more cautious, more liberal than he was earlier on,” he says.

Hope, he concedes, is all Uttar Pradesh’s Muslims have left to rely on. “Politicians cannot win on the basis of Muslim votes,” he says. “So we have to keep believing in the right-thinking Hindus. That’s what we are all hoping for. Our staying in the mainstream of the country depends on them.”

He insists, repeatedly, that he is “not concerned”. But as he goes to say goodbye he pauses in the door frame. For a moment he is silent. “Let us pray for the Muslims of Gorakhpur,” he finally says. “Even if Yogi is harming Muslims in other parts of the country, he won’t do anything to Muslims in Gorakhpur. Of that I’m very sure.”

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Meerut- Muslim women and children beaten, asked to leave community park #WTFnews


By Siddhant Mohan,

Meerut: With the appointment of Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath as the Chief Minister, events and actions have started adversely affecting the Muslim community of Uttar Pradesh.

In a recent event on March 19, a Muslim woman was asked to leave a playground park with her daughter. Also, a group of Muslim women was thrashed by men.

Baccha Park is situated in the jurisdiction of Kotwali Police Station. Although the area around Baccha Park is inhabited mostly by people from Valmiki community, both Muslim and non-Muslim communities come to enjoy with their kids and families.

On March 19, a 10-year-old girl from the Saifi Muslim community was enjoying the ride in the Park. Her mother and sister were also there. Some women from Valmiki community came in the Park at the same time.

According to witnesses, the kids got into a tussle over who was going to ride the swing, and soon the elders joined in. During this, a woman from the Valmiki community pushed the little girl from the swing and allegedly beat her too.

After this, the Muslim woman was asked to leave the park with her kids but she protested. Some Muslim women from the Saifi community also gathered in the park, resulting in a clash between the two groups. Angered by this chain of events, the women from Valmiki community called their brothers and relatives from the neighborhood to come in the park. The men who arrived brutally thrashed the group of Muslim women, even as the Police watched on as silent spectators.

When the police finally started to disperse the crowd, Valmiki men started shouting, ‘Aa gaya hai tumhara baap Yogi (Your father Yogi has come)’. Some spectator shot a video, which is being circulated widely.

When both of the groups were contacted for comments, they both accused each other of assaulting first.

Both of the groups have filed a written complaint at the Kotwali police station. Sources report that they have also called for a settlement.

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CBFC BANS telecast of Oscar Winning ‘The Danish Girl’ on Sony TV #WTFnews


CBFC bans telecast of ‘The Danish Girl’
The movie was supposed to be telecast on Sony Le Plex HD today
The Oscar-winning film received an A certificate with no cuts theatrically; Board feels the subject is unsuitable for all audiences.

The CBFC has cancelled the scheduled broadcast of the film The Danish Girl.

The Oscar-winning movie was scheduled to telecast today on Sony Pictures Network’s channel, Sony Le PLEX HD. But yesterday it received a notice from the CBFC, which termed the film’s theme — about the world’s first sex reassignment surgery — unsuitable for broadcast. The channel tweeted its dismay stating, “We regret to inform you that Sony Le Plex HD is unable to telecast the television premiere of the award-winning film The Danish Girl on March 26 as the necessary certification to enable the telecast of the movie has not been received.”

The film, which released theatrically in India last year, received an A certification from the CBFC. “The whole subject is controversial, and it’s unsuitable to be viewed by children. It talks about a man who wants a sex change and has a genital operation to become a woman. The subject is sensitive and how do you edit a subject like that?” said a CBFC board member, who did not want to be identified.

She added that the reason for allowing the theatrical release with zero cuts was “to retain the essence of the movie as it sensitively shows the dilemma of a person who doesn’t identify with his gender”.

The board official explained how every film that receives an A certification for the theatrical release has to reapply for certification for television broadcast. “The Censor Board’s job is not to cut, but to see each movie individually in its context and under the guidelines provided to us. We are a multicultural nation and we have to maintain a balance. What may be suitable for a metropolis, may not be suitable for a small village,” explained the CBFC official.

When contacted for a response, director Shyam Benegal said, “I am against any form of censorship in the first place. The whole point is that one disagrees with the process as it has been going on. I have been assigned as the chairman of the committee which was set up to define what the CBFC should be doing and the reports have been submitted in October last year.”

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Yogi Adityanath – No more Jeans and T-shirts in UP Hospitals

| TNN | 

NOIDA:Noida: Following the announcement of the newly elected CM,  Yogi Adityanath that banned wearing of jeans and T-shirts for the state government employees during duty hours, hospitals are now getting letters regarding the same.

A day after receiving an order from the health department that doctors and other employees of government hospitals have to wear decent clothes, the district hospital has issued a circular to its employees warning them of “stringent action” if any of them was found wearing jeans and T-shirts on duty. Many women employees were seen in traditional wear at the premises but sheepishly admitted that the order was “illogical.”

“We had received three orders on Thursday regarding maintaining cleanliness in the surroundings, ensuring punctuality and about decent dressing. We are implementing them all,” officiating chief medical superintendent (CMS) Vandana Sharma told TOI.

The government hospitals in Noida, the district hospital and the Super Speciality Paediatric Hospital & Post Graduate Teaching Institute in Sector 30 have received the order which is meant for the entire health department.

Following the order, the CMS has issued a directive to all the officials/employees of the hospital to come only in decent attire. “In compliance with the directions received from the headquarters, health department, all officials/employees are directed to wear only decent attire on every working day (pants-shirt for gents and suits for ladies),” reads the notice.

It is completely prohibited for any official/employee to come to the hospital wearing jeans and T-shirts, it says, adding that any violation of the said order will be followed by stringent action.

The effect of the order which was issued on Thursday was visible on Friday with many women staff turning up in traditional wear like salwar-kameez.

However, few men could be seen in jeans and some could be overheard joking about the order.

In SSPHPGTI, employees said that while they have heard about the said order, they are waiting for a notice to be put up by the administration. Director of the the Super Speciality Paediatric Hospital & Post Graduate Teaching Institute, Dr A K Bhatt said that while doctors have already been advised to wear formal dresses, attendants’ dress too will be specified soon and the tender has been floated for the same.

According to sources, the order is intended for officials/employees of the hospitals, community centres and primary health centres (PHCs) of the districts.

Chief medical officer Anurag Bhargav said that they are yet to receive the order in this regard.

“We will implement it in the CHCs and PHCs as soon as we get. However, doctors have been already advised to wear serious clothing and nurses have their dress too,” he said.

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Goa – The teacher who brought errant mining firms to their knees

| TNN | 

Representative image Representative image
GOA: “Don’t underestimate the power of the common man,” he said, sitting at his home in the heart of Bicholim town. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had approached him to contest polls, which he politely refused.

From working relentlessly to allow dalits in Goa’s villages to use community water sources to encouraging inter-caste marriages, to exposing superstitious practices, teacher-activist Ramesh Gauns has dedicated himself to social causes since 1977.

But his mission in life was to bring errant mining companies to their knees. His activism not only made mining companies follow regulations on dumping of mining wastes, but also resulted in the rehabilitation of used mines, making him somewhat of a messiah for Goans.

It was a casual grumbling by a neighbour on how children from a school were forced to walk through mining sludge that led to the start of a full-fledged movement in 2003, which advanced to a mining ban in Goa in 2012.

This feisty anti-mining activist is quite a different person in reality, who goes all pensive on an unattained desire in life. “My only regret is that no one taught me to sing. As a child, I was good at drawing, cricket, football and badminton. I was the first person from Goa to go mountaineering in 1968. I later acted in numerous dramas and directed at least 100. I write poetry too. Today, my students find it hard to believe this side of me,” said an ever cheerful Gauns.

With his wife Shardha recuperating from a brain haemorrhage, Gauns begins his day with cooking for his family. This national awardee school teacher then reports to duty. And, by the time he is back home, there is already a queue waiting for him, some looking for assistance on writing RTI applications and others for legal help. Gauns taught himself law to counter the authorities appropriately.

“The national and international media, which have come here to make documentaries on my work, told me that I single-handedly do a whole NGO’s work. But I prefer it this way. I don’t like to associate myself with any NGO. I don’t want any obligations. I have been offered lakhs of rupees of foreign funding and crores of rupees in bribes, but I have refused them. Then there were parties like AAP asking me to contest the polls. I said a stern no,” said the unusually soft-spoken Gauns.
Image result for goa Ramesh Gauns mining
Born at his mother’s house in Betki, Gauns spent much of his childhood there, playing by gurgling streams amidst dense plantations. There, he believes, the anti-mining activist was born, who would, decades later, question the likes of the Centre for Science and Environment over the impact of mining on water sources.

After schooling at Bicholim’s Shantadurga High School, Gauns moved to Chowgule College in Margao, but he had to soon shift closer home to St Xavier’s College in Mapusa as his health suffered due to the lack of good living facilities away from home back then.

Gauns soon launched his activities to abolish superstition and began to train students to complete their education after ‘schools discarded them as useless’. He was often faced with aggressive mobs in his quest to do away with casteism, but he refused to give up.

“In the early 70s, I got a job as a draftsman with Chowgules. It was a well-paying job then and when I eventually decided to leave to be a school teacher, people laughed,” said Gauns.

What shaped the Gauns of today, he opines, were a few experiences including the visit to North India through the Gandhi Foundation during the Sikh riots and to North-East India during the height of Hindu-right wing violence against Christian missionaries.

Gauns has even scripted a concept of progressive weddings, where he conducts the marriage ceremony. “If we do not believe in the caste system, why should we call a priest from a particular caste to perform a Hindu wedding ceremony,” he asked.

Taking his activism a step forward, Gauns drew names for his children from different religions; Annie, Salma, Kurnd and Akash. He, however, said he does not expect his children to take after him in any way. “Different human beings are shaped by their own varied experiences. They cannot be made with a laboratory-like formula,” he added.

No matter how busy or difficult his day is, Gauns ends it with reading. “I read anything and everything, from Sane Guruji, to Gandhi, to Aristotle, to Socrates. But, in the end, it is important to draw only what you believe in and become your own person,” he said.

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Karnataka – Unwarranted hysterectomies ,a tale of exploitation

In a serious breach of medical ethics, doctors and private hospitals in Karnataka, particularly in Kalaburagi district, have been exploiting poor and illiterate women by conducting unwarranted hysterectomies. BY VIKHAR AHMED SAYEED

PINKUBAI GORAKNATH RATHOD, 24, lives in the picturesque Lambani hamlet (tanda in local parlance) of Belamogi in Aland taluk of northern Karnataka’s Kalaburagi (Gulbarga district). Pinky, as everyone calls her, has distinct features—she is fair, has sharp features and light eyes—that mark her out as a Lambani or a Banjara, as the community is also known. She is originally from a tanda near Malkhed, on the other side of Kalaburagi district, and came to Belamogi 11 years ago after her marriage.

By the end of 2014, Pinky was the mother of three children. Her husband was struggling to find a steady job, as eking out a living from one acre (0.4 hectare) of land that he owned was not feasible. At this time Pinky developed severe abdominal pain accompanied by whitish vaginal discharge.

When the primary health centre (PHC) in Belamogi could not help her, she ended up at a private hospital called Girish Noola Surgical & Maternity Hospital in Kalaburagi, the closest town, some 50 km away. “The doctor at the hospital told me that my uterus is swollen [soojan] and pus had formed. He said that anything could happen and I could even get cancer,” Pinky recalled. “I panicked. I felt that I did not have a choice when the doctor said that I needed to do the bada [big] operation immediately. I borrowed Rs.20,000 from my sister-in-law and underwent the operation.” She was only 22.

The “big” operation was a total abdominal hysterectomy (TAH). A survey conducted in July 2015 by members of the Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali (KJC, Karnataka People’s Health Movement), a public health rights movement based in Karnataka, found 20 cases of hysterectomies performed on women under 40 in Belamogi tanda, a remarkably high number considering that there are only 87 families in the hamlet. A pattern emerged in the KJC’s survey undertaken in 38 tandas coming under the jurisdiction of 19 panchayats spread across four taluks—Kalaburagi, Chincholi, Aland and Afzalpur—in the district. An ab normally high number of hysterectomies among young women were recorded in all these Lambani hamlets—707 in all. Of these women, 355 were under 35 when they had the operation.

The KJC had done a similar survey in a village near Birur in Chikkamagaluru district in 2013. But its findings in Kalaburagi showed that the problem was on a large scale in this district and affected thousands of women. Teena Xavier, an activist of the KJC who lives in Kadaganchi village, around 25 km away from Kalaburagi, was the first to suspect that something was amiss. “In the villages where I work in Aland taluk, I heard about the enormous number of hysterectomies,” she said.

Dr Shaibya Saldanha, a gynaecologist based in Bengaluru with 25 years’ experience, explained to Frontline how a hysterectomy affects women’s health: “A hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure that means the removal of the uterus and is done for certain medical conditions. After a hysterectomy, a woman loses her child-bearing capabilities. It is to be done only in cases of poor quality of life, prolapsed uterus or a threat to life like cancer. In younger women, the circumstances under which this surgery is done would be rare. The removal of the uterus also induces surgical menopause. Sometimes, the ovaries are also removed, which has drastic effects on a young woman’s health. Every hysterectomy is a major surgical procedure and will have side effects and complications.”

Long-term implications include the hastening of osteoporosis and cardiac disease. Sexual intercourse becomes non-pleasurable and there is a loss of libido as well. A hysterectomy, therefore, is not recommended unless absolutely essential, especially for younger women. Pinky no longer complains of abdominal pain, but she suffers from a dull nagging pain in her shoulders and hips accompanied by general fatigue and an inability to lift heavy objects, all common complaints after a hysterectomy. Pinky also complains of a gradual decline in her vision, something that stumps Dr Shaibya Saldanha. “I have been hearing a lot of women complain of this, but this is something that we don’t have a medical explanation for yet,” she said.

While it is still not possible to get a reliable figure for the number of hysterectomies taking place in the country, an estimate can be made from data from the third round of the District Level Household Survey, which shows that around 2 per cent of women in the 15-49 age group had undergone hysterectomies (12,888 in a sample of 6,43,934 women). The  figure was higher among women from rural, lower-caste and deprived backgrounds.

A cross-sectional study in 2010 of 2,214 women showed that up to 9.8 per cent rural women in Gujarat had undergone hysterectomies. A few years ago, large numbers of unwarranted hysterectomies were reported from Dausa (Rajasthan), Samastipur and Kishanganj (Bihar) and rural areas of Chhattisgarh. In 2010, there were reports of women of the Lambani community becoming victims of unwarranted hysterectomies in Kannaram village of Medak district in Andhra Pradesh (now in Telangana). The reason seems to be clear: it is an easy way for doctors to make money, taking advantage of the lack of awareness among the women concerned.

The large number of unwarranted hysterectomies performed in Kalaburagi seem to make a pattern: the women are rural, belong to marginalised communities (the Lambanis come under the Schedule Caste category in Karnataka, forming around 12 per cent of the S.C. population in the State) and are largely uneducated. Pinky, one of the more literate women from the Lambani community, has studied up to the seventh standard.

While the National Family Health Survey (2015-16) has questions on hysterectomy in its questionnaire, the results have not been included in the published State and district fact sheets. Once these results become available, a precise picture will emerge on the scale of hysterectomies in the country. But what is certain so far is that unwarranted hysterectomies are happening all over the country in a serious breach of medical ethics.

A perusal of news reports all over the country regarding cases of unwarranted hysterectomies shows that the women went to doctors with similar symptoms—abdominal pain, white discharge, smelly discharge, lower back pain, and itching—and ended up on the operation table. In Kalaburagi, the doctors who advised patients to undergo a hysterectomy did so only on the basis of a scan and without any clinical examination. They also did not take a pap smear or conduct an examination under anaesthesia (EUA) and dilation and curettage (D&C). In Pinky’s hamlet, and in the neighbouring hamlets, the stories were almost uniform. In a few cases, the symptoms were different, but hysterectomies were performed nonetheless.

Lalitha Bhimsingh Chavan, 38, is a resident of Ambalaga tanda, again in Aland taluk. Three years ago, she had abdominal pain and difficulty passing urine. She consulted a doctor in Umarga, a town just across the border in Maharashtra’s Osmanabad district. (From interviews with the Lambani women, it sounded like Umarga was another major hysterectomy hub, along with Kalaburagi.) “The doctor in Umarga conducted a few tests and then sent me to ‘Loola’ [a common misnomer for the Girish Noola Surgical & Maternity Hospital in Kalaburagi], where they told me that I needed to undergo a hysterectomy immediately as my womb had gone bad and I could die soon,” Lalitha said. “I was in hospital for seven days. The operation cost me Rs.20,000.” The bill that the hospital provided to Lalitha is scribbled on a prescription slip.

After the operation, Lalitha’s inability to pass urine and burning micturition continued. Tests revealed that she had renal calculus, or kidney stone. Not surprisingly, the removal of the uterus had not helped. Lalitha narrated her tale while drinking cold bottled water, as her current doctor had prescribed. “I have spent Rs.30,000 on other costs since then,” she added.

Lalitha was surrounded by several other women of her tanda aged between 27 and 48 who had also undergone hysterectomies. In this hamlet of 55 households, 17 women lost their wombs under the surgeon’s scalpel.

Sunita Yemnath Chinni Rathod, 35, of V.K. Salagar tanda in Aland taluk had to sell two goats to finance her hysterectomy four years ago. She first had an operation to remove her uterus and a second one to remove her ovaries. “I went to Loola when I had severe abdominal pain. The doctor first did an operation for Rs.25,000 and then a second operation after three months at a discounted price, for Rs.15,000,” Sunita said. The KJC survey of 2015 recorded 24 hysterectomies in this tanda of 84 households.

The ultrasound reports of the abdomen and pelvis of Pinky, Lalitha and Sunita are in the possession of Frontline. When these were shown to Dr Shaibya Saldanha, she said the scan reports did not demonstrate any need for a hysterectomy. She explained what the doctors had done with an analogy: “Imagine, if a patient comes to me I take one look and I decide that he’s anaemic because he’s looking pale and I give him two blood transfusions. That’s ridiculous, isn’t it? That’s what’s happened in this case. Pinky’s case is especially scandalous as no 22-year-old woman undergoes a hysterectomy.”

There have also been three recorded deaths over the past few years. Savitabai died in July 2015 just after the completion of her operation at Basava Hospital in Kalaburagi. She had come to the hospital with complaints of abdominal pain. The doctors told her family that she needed a hysterectomy because her uterus was swollen. When she died, a doctor at Basava Hospital hastily paid a sum of Rs.3 lakh to Savita’s family, an act that raises suspicion. Two other Lambani women in Chincholi taluk died in 2015 of post-operative complications following hysterectomies.

Consequent to the KJC’s complaints in 2015, two inquiry committees were set up with gynaecologists on them. The first one was constituted by Karnataka’s Department of Health and Family Welfare and was headed by Dr A. Ramachandra Bairy. It submitted its 12-page report on October 17, 2015, after an inquiry that lasted for two days. While 36 hospitals were named in the complaint made by the KJC, only 25 submitted information on the number of hysterectomies they had conducted in the preceding 30 months. Girish Noola Surgical & Maternity Hospital topped the list with 900 hysterectomies out of a total of 2,258 operations.

The report implicated the hospital for lack of proper records, which cast doubt over whether the hysterectomies had been necessary. It recommended action against the hospital under the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act (2007) and the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act (1994). Three other hospitals were also marked out for violations.

A second inquiry committee was set up in September that year by the Karnataka State Women’s Commission and was headed by K. Neela. This committee submitted its 105-page report in April 2016 after a thorough inquiry. Its members interviewed 66 women, and in all the 66 cases they concurred that a hysterectomy was not necessary. It has brief summaries of interviews with the victims as well as inferences. After their interview with Pinky, and perusal of her medical records, the committee noted: “Age of patient precludes hysterectomy. Examination shows hypertrophic cervix and erosion. Pap smear showed no evidence of malignancy. Scan diagnosis of Pelvic Inflammation Diseases (PID) insufficient. PID was not treated with antibiotics.” The committee discussed Lalitha’s case, and its inference was: “Diagnosis was renal calculus and recurrent Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) for which no treatment was given.”

The women interviewed by the committee were diagnosed with PID, bulky uterus, thickened endometrium and fibroids. The common complaints included chronic backache, excessive uterine bleeding, chronic abdominal pain and white discharge per vaginum. None of these warranted a hysterectomy, the committee concluded, and could have been treated with a variety of antibiotics, vitamin supplements, safe sexual practices and painkillers. Such problems, moreover, are not unusual among rural women who undertake hard labour and are associated with early marriage, multiple and quickly following pregnancies, malnutrition, lack of sanitation and unsafe sexual practices. Pinky, like many other women in the Lambani community, was 13 when she was married and had three children in quick succession. Lalitha, at 38, is already a grandmother.

The report has held the doctors responsible for the hysterectomies guilty of violation of medical, ethical and legal norms. The committee implicated Girish Noola Surgical & Maternity Hospital, saying it had insufficient evidence to show there was good reason to perform the hysterectomies. The hospital did not have any medical records of the patients who underwent the oper ations. The report held that the doctor couple who managed the hospital, Dr Girish Noola and Dr Smitha Noola, had created a “psycho fear” [sic] in the minds of the largely illiterate and poor victims. It has called for criminal action to be taken against the doctors at Girish Noola Surgical & Maternity Hospital and Basava Hospital, apart from other doctors involved in this malpractice. It has also recommended that the victims should be financially compensated.

State of public health

In a paper published in Indian Journal of Medical Ethics (Volume II, No. 1, January-March, 2017), KJC members Teena Xavier, Akhila Vasan and Vijayakumar S. discuss the implications of this sordid affair. They write: “A medical procedure such as a hysterectomy has morphed into a ‘business strategy’ in the ‘medical/health care market’ with poor women’s bodies being trafficked for profit. Governments that ought to protect citizens from such predatory motives have not merely failed in their duty, but have turned accomplice in their crimes by ushering in policies that encourage exploitation.”

They continue: “So long as the profit motive drives the provision of health care, the most vulnerable will continue to fall prey to the predatory motives of the system. Radical policy shifts aimed at reining in the medical profession, transforming medical education, disallowing ‘profit’ in health care, rolling back public-private partnerships, and strengthening the public health system meaningfully to regulate and deliver health care are required urgently to reverse the commercialisation of health care. Enacting a broad-based law to protect health/patients’ rights and to bring the medical profession under the ambit of criminal prosecution is of critical importance to ensure the safety of citizens, particularly those most vulnerable.”

The KJC survey data show the dismal state of public health. Only 13 of 707 women identified by the KJC in 2015 reported that they got the procedure done at the District Government Hospital in Kalaburagi. According to the District Health Officer (DHO) of Kalaburagi, Dr Shivaraj Sajjanshetty, there is only one hospital in the entire district with facilities for hysterectomy, the District Government Hospital. “Two years ago, when I was posted there, we had difficulty even doing caesarean surgery, how can we get gynaecologists to do hysterectomies? We simply don’t have the facilities,” he said. The PHCs have also failed at being the first-tier providers of medical relief. “Many of the complaints that the women had could have been resolved with a simple course of antibiotics, but not enough doctors visit the PHCs,” said Teena Xavier.

The submission of the two reports has led to some action by the district administration. The registrations of four hospitals, including Girish Noola Surgical & Maternity Hospital, have been cancelled, but the licences of the gynaecologists and surgeons practising in these hospitals have not been rescinded yet. Criminal action has also not been initiated. The DHO said a letter dated January 23, 2017, had been sent to the president of the Karnataka Medical Council (KMC), Dr H. Veerabhadrappa, requesting suitable action be taken. On his part, Dr Veerabhadrappa said: “KMC will conduct a civil court-like procedure once we receive the letter from the DHO.”

On February 6, several hundreds of Lambani women gathered at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Kalaburagi to protest against the district administration’s inaction on K. Neela Committee’s recommendations. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also taken cognisance of the malpractice and issued notices to the governments of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Seasonal migration

Back in Belamogi, Pinky waits for redress of her grievances. She has filed a writ petition in the Karnataka High Court. Her eldest child was diagnosed with leukaemia in early 2015, and she has been spending the past year getting him treated at the Kidwai Memorial Institute of Oncology in Bengaluru. Her husband left the tanda in 2015 in search of work and is somewhere in Saudi Arabia or in the United Arab Emirates—Pinky is unsure about his exact location —from where he calls her once a week. Many of the women who were interviewed for this article had husbands who had migrated for work, a common practice among Lambanis in the region. They are seasonal migrants. They do own land, but their small landholdings do not amount to much in this arid, drought-prone region. Many of them work as construction labourers in Mumbai. Earlier, the wives accompanied them. But now many of the wives stay back as hysterectomies have rendered them unfit for hard labour.

Pinky does not have a phone number to contact her husband, who seems to have joined the legions of exploited construction labourers in countries around the Persian Gulf. “His passport is with his employer. He can’t return as his contractor owes him Rs.2 lakh [in unpaid wages],” Pinky said.

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Finance Bill- The Big Corporate Takeover of Political Funding

Tunday kababs were thought to be near-extinction, anti-Romeo squads are on the prowl, Yogi Adityanath is scrunching his nose in disapproval at paan-stained walls and his ministers are angrily sweeping office corridors, because, Swachh Bharat.

While news channels were tripping over each other to broadcast the Uttar Pradesh chief minister’s very own ‘Truman Show’, the big boss at the Centre passed the Finance Bill 2017 in the Lok Sabha. With a voice vote, amidst a walkout by the Congress and the BJD.

The brazenness with which the government clubbed non-money related clauses in a money bill to avoid a debate in the Rajya Sabha is only half the story. Among the contentious amendments that have failed to get adequate attention, is the one on political donations.

(Photo: The Quint/Rythum Seth)
(Photo: The Quint/Rythum Seth)


Political Donations Made Easy, for Companies

Not only has the government removed the limit on the amount companies can donate to political parties, it allows it do so without naming the political party.

As PRS, a legislative research firm, explains:

Currently, a company may contribute up to 7.5 percent of the average of its net profits in the last three years to political parties. The company is required to disclose the contributions made to political parties in its profit and loss account, along with the name of the political parties to which such contribution was made.

The amendments to the Finance Bill 2017 propose to remove: (i) the limit of 7.5 percent of net profit of the last three financial years, for contributions that a company may make to political parties. (ii) The requirement of a company to disclose the name of the political party to which a contribution has been made.

(Photo: The Quint/Rythum Seth)
(Photo: The Quint/Rythum Seth)

Political Donations in ‘Digital India’

Additionally, this contribution can only be made through a cheque, bank draft, electronic means, or an electoral bond. An electoral bond, introduced through an amendment to the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934, is a bond issued by notified banks, worth specified denominations, that can be bought by depositing a cheque or using digital money.

In his post-Budget media interaction on 1 February, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley elaborated on just how inventive the electoral bonds will be.

Every recognised political party will have to notify one bank account in advance to the Election Commission and these can be redeemed in only that account in a very short time. These will be bearer bonds to keep the donor anonymous. The present system has failed and we are experimenting with a new system.

Ye dosti hum nahin todenge?  Both UPA and NDA have refused to bring political parties under the ambit of the RTI. (Photo Courtesy: The Quint/Liju Joseph)
Ye dosti hum nahin todenge?  Both UPA and NDA have refused to bring political parties under the ambit of the RTI. (Photo Courtesy: The Quint/Liju Joseph)

Essentially, under this new system, a company can now channel large sums of money into a political party through electronic means and maintain anonymity.

We, the people, remain oblivious as to which company is wielding how much influence on which political party that may or may not be in government or shaping our country’s agenda.

Win-Win Situation

As for cash donations, the government reduced the limit of anonymous cash donations from Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,000.

Lowering the limit, without putting a cap on the total amount of anonymous cash donations, undermines the effort to stop the channelling of black money into political parties. The parties can simply claim they got multiple donations of Rs 2,000 instead of a lump sum.


Comparison with American-Style Corporate Lobbying

An analysis by Stockholm-based International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) shows that India is among a mere 10% of the countries in the world (or one of nine among 37 Asian nations) that allow political parties or candidates to receive anonymous donations.

Unlike the United States, lobbying is illegal in India. Unlike the United States, where lobbies are mandated to make full disclosures on their spending and activities, there is no grasp on the stakes held by corporate interests on Indian decision-making bodies.

But we know lobbying already exists in India. It has come to the fore with the Radia tapes expose, the 2G scam and when Walmart told the American Congress that it spent $25 million on lobbying activities including “enhancing access to the Indian market”. What we do not know is to what extent are our decision-making bodies ‘taken’.

One can argue that the American system is far from perfect. In fact, Lee Drutman, a political scientist and author of The Business of America is Lobbying suggests that American corporations are spending more money to push their agenda in Washington than the American government spends on running the country.

Corporations, he claims, spent $2.6 billion in 2014 on reported lobbying expenditures – more than the $2 billion the country spent to fund the House and the Senate.

But mandatory disclosures allow the American public access to a fair amount of information on their political leaders and those who fund them. Even so, the fight for transparency from those in public life continues in the American discourse.

In comparison, the Modi government’s decision to give a free pass to companies to invest heavily and anonymously to political parties, pushes the light at the end of the tunnel to a distant future.

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Before I could speak about sexual harassment, I was thrown out of Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai: Shilpa Shinde

Shilpa Shinde has accused co-actor Soumya Tandon of not keeping the faith and revealing Shilpa’s agony of being sexually harassed by producer Sanjay Kohli, to his wife Binaifer.


Priyanka Sharma | Mumbai

Shilpa Shinde, Shilpa Shinde Bhabhi Ji Ghar Par Hai, Shilpa Shinde Angoori Bhabhi, Angoor Bhabhi Shilpa Shinde

Even as people are questioning the one year delay in Shilpa Shinde’s revelation that she was sexually harassed by Bhabi Ji Ghar Par Hai producer Sanjay Kohli, the television actor says despite wanting to speak about it earlier, she didn’t get a chance to bring it out in open as she was too depressed about “suddenly being replaced” on the show.

Last March, in a major turn of events for the show’s fans, Shilpa, who played the character of Angoori Bhabhi, quit the show claiming she was mentally tortured by Sanjay’s wife and co-producer on the show, Binaifer.

The actor was replaced by Shubhangi Atre. Now, she has accused Binaifer’s husband Sanjay Kohli of sexually molesting her. Talking to, the actor revealed how she was forced to quit the show as “a cover up for Sanjay’s actions.”

“I shared this (Sanjay’s alleged advances towards her) with Soumya (Tandon) like you would share with a co-worker, but she went and told about it to Binaifer. From there, everything got worse for me. I did speak to Binaifer about it and she was naturally very angry, but before I could talk to the channel about it, Binaifer had got everyone against me. She tried to cover up for her husband’s actions. So, rumours were spread that I don’t come on time and throw tantrums,” Shilpa said.

The actor said she was too shocked to react on anything, let alone speak about the harassment she had allegedly faced.

“For no fault of mine, I lost everything. I was numb and depressed. I was too depressed to think anything else, because I hadn’t done any wrong but no one was supporting me, all the actors were banned from talking to me. I wasn’t even told that the makers were planning to replace me. So, I didn’t go to shoot for five days and I had decided that if Binaifer, Sanjay and the channel won’t call me and apologise to me, I won’t resume shooting. The call never came. Instead, it was said that I was unprofessional. So, my image in public was purposely ruined and I was tortured so that I leave on my own,” she said.

According to Shilpa, had she brought to light the alleged molestation, people would have thought she is putting wrong accusations to get back at the producers. “This is what I thought then. I felt no one would believe me. But I still tried to speak to the channel people, I never got a meeting fixed with them. The situation was very bad for me. Nobody was ready to listen to me. Then a legal notice was filed against me, I heard that CINTAA was putting a lifetime ban on me… All these things took a toll on me,” she added.


The actor said that wherever she went post her exit from the show, people asked her the reason for leaving the show and this frustrated her and she finally decided to come out in open about it.

“People kept asking me, ‘Why did you leave the show?’ I had enough of those questions and I thought it’s enough. People should know why I did what I did. This (alleged harassment) is the reason I left. That’s why I didn’t want to shoot further. I had spoken about it to a few friends in the media but they told me, ‘Leave it. Months have passed. It’s of no use to speak about it.’ And, Binaifer would dare me, saying, ‘If you have the guts, talk about it in open. I will see if you can do that.’ She provoked me. So, I thought rather than talking about it, I would take the help of the law.”

While sharing about the one thing that has pinched her the most about everything that transpired in the last one year, Shilpa said it was co-actor Soumya Tandon’s behaviour. “What really hurt me in all of this was that Soumya had done all of this. She told Binaifer behind my back and later talked about my exit in a casual manner, saying, ‘One should not leave a show just because she is not getting good clothes!’ I was aghast.”

Soumya, however, has issued a statement, saying that Shilpa never spoke about the alleged molestation to her. “I strongly stand against any kind of sexual harassment of women at work or any place. Having said that, there was absolutely no communication between Shilpa and me about this. Personally, my interactions with my producer has been very professional and I didn’t face any problem. I can’t comment on Shilpa’s case as I am not aware about it.”

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