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Archives for : April2017

#AadhaarFail -Days after Jharkhand breach, govt websites continue to bleed Aadhaar data

 

Aadhaar

A woman getting her eyes scanned as part of the procedure to procure an Aadhaar card.(HT File Photo)

Days after Hindustan Times reported a data breach of over a million Aadhaar numbers from a Jharkhand government website, at least four more instances of similar leaks on other government websites have come to light.

These breaches come at a time when the Supreme Court is hearing a set of petitions challenging a controversial government decision to make it mandatory to seed Permanent Account Numbers (PAN) with Aadhaar numbers for filing income tax returns.

“We have taken the Jharkhand incident very seriously,” said Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), noting that publishing UID numbers was illegal, “Appropriate action will be taken against those responsible under the Aadhaar act.”

The unsecure websites investigated by HT include a scholarship database in Uttar Pradesh, a public distribution system website in Chandigarh, a pensioners dashboard in Kerala and a Swach Bharat Mission website maintained by the Ministry of Water and Sanitation, which cumulatively compromise the digital identities of thousands of citizens.

Some of these websites were taken down after HT reporters approached the relevant authorities for comment, but in other cases, the confidential information is still online and available for all to see.

“I just do not understand why and how this is happening,” said Jairam Ramesh, a senior Congress leader who has been critical of the Aadhaar rollout, “The only word I can use to describe this is ‘atrocious’.”

In Jharkhand, the UIDAI moved swiftly to shut down the website. On Monday, state officials sought to implement an additional layer of security to protect those whose identities have been compromised by the leak.

You cannot see the Aadhaar numbers anymore on the website. We are working on a One-Time Password (OTP) system for added security,” said Jharkhand social welfare secretary MS Bhatia, explaining that Aadhaar holders seeking to access the website will now get an OTP prior to logging in.

“The leakage instances show that the technical readiness of the government is just not in place to tackle a project of this scale,” said Apar Gupta, a Supreme Court lawyer and a petitioner in the Aadhaar cases, “This has been happening across state governments and departments.”

Gupta explained that central government notifications to seed discreet databases with Aadhaar numbers had created sensitive aggregations of citizen data at the state-level. “But these notifications have no guidance whatsoever about the data security protocols that need to be followed,” Gupta said.

In the absence of central guidance, each state department has created its own unique way of storing the data, often with the help of private software companies.

Pandey, the UIDAI CEO, said the ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has written to all state governments and the ministries asking them not to display such information. “If they do, they will have to face action,” he said.

Yet activists noted that in each data breach, the UIDAI and state authorities acted after user identities had already been compromised, and provisions in the Aadhar Act mean that citizens have no legal recourse to this intrusion.

“A person by himself does not have any recourse to ensure that leak is closed and for legal action for improper disclosure of personal information,” explained Gupta, the lawyer, ”Only the UIDAI authorities can register a case.”

“The UID numbers leaked in Jharkhand could be used for the next fraud based on identity-theft,” said Sunil Abraham, Executive Director of the Centre for Internet and Society, noting that authorities are investigating the use of Jan-Dhan accounts for money laundering during demonetisation. “At a bare minimum, the UIDAI should issue new ID numbers to protect those affected by the data breach.”

Pandey, however, said issuing new UIDs was not an option.

“Our track record has no case of identity of theft or financial loss and if anything comes, we have the ability to track the culprit,” Pandey said.

When asked if this unblemished track-record had ever been independently audited, Pandey demurred.

“Whosoever is supposed to audit us is auditing us,” Pandey said, “But the names can’t be disclosed due to security reasons.”

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/days-after-jharkhand-breach-govt-websites-continue-to-bleed-aadhaar-data/story-B5dip7XwyWQsfDVut6zt3L.html

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Chhattisgarh- Human Rights activists strongly condemn the killing of 26 CRPF personnel by the Maoists

The Chhattisgarh PUCL severely condemns the ruthless ambush carried out by Maoists at the Burkapal area under Police Station Chintagufa limits in district Sukma on 24th April 2017, and expresses its deep grief at the killing of 25 jawans, mostly young persons of poor families.

According to initial reports, this attack, the most lethal of its kind in five years, took place when around 90 jawans of the 74th Battalion were engaged in a road opening operation. It appears that about 200 Naxalites dispersed in different groups conducted the ambush and in the continuous firing that took place for about an hour many of them might also have been killed.

The Maoists decamped with all arms and ammunitions of the 25 killed and 6 injured jawans, leaving no bodies behind. A month ago another attack of the Maoists using locally made mortars, tiffin bombs and arrows with explosives had killed 12 CRPF Personnel under PS Bhejji limits. There have thus been more casualties in the first four months of this year than in the entire year for the last four years.

Dr. Lakhan Singh,President, Chhatisgarh PUCL said that this incident shows that the large numbers of surrenders and arrests (many of them challenged by villagers) boasted by the Chhattisgarh police in the past few years have not led to a significant decline in the military capacity of the Naxalites. A situation of civil war still prevails in Bastar although the Government of India refuses to declare this an “internal armed conflict” to avoid monitoring by the United Nations. he added

Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj , stated that the PUCL apprehends that soon the security forces would “retaliate” by “search and Cordon operations” in the area which are only likely to hurt the soft target of ordinary civilians. Consequent arrests, beatings and killings will only intensify the cycles of violence and counter-violence.

She added that  PUCL reiterates its longstanding demands that de-escalation of violence requires the restoration of faith of the local adivasi people in the State through the strict implementation of pro-tribal laws like the PESA, Forest Rights Act; the better provision of health, education and other welfare activities; a perception of getting justice and dignity; the restoration of civil administration as opposed to administration by the security forces in the interior areas; and addressing of popular demands as voiced by Sarv Adivasi Samaj or other local tribal organizations, in other words a political solution.

 

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Assam – NAMHRR submits comments on the Draft Population Policy

To

Mr Samir K Sinha,

Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam,

Health and Family Welfare Department,

Government of Assam.

Date 25th April 2017

Sir,

This is with reference to the Draft State Population Policy Assam which has been put up for comments. We would like to make the following observations:

  1. In the Introduction Section we would like to endorse the inclusion of the following as issues of key concerns – promotion of inclusive growth, ageing, urbanization, migration, financial and economic challenges, improving the quality of life of present and future generations, promote social justice and eradicate poverty and so on.
  2. We endorse the context of the National Population Policy 2000 with its focus on Socio Demographic Goals
  3. We would however like to draw your attention to the assertion that the population of Assam has grown by ‘almost 1 crore’ between 2001 and 2011. According to the figures given in the document the population has grown from 2.66 crore to 3.12 or 46 lakh or less than 50% of 1 crore and it is a gross exaggeration  The percentage growth of Assam’s population has been declining consistently from 35% and 36% decadal growth in the 1970’s and 1980’s to 17% now. This decline is more than the decline that has taken place at the National Level.
  4. The decline of Total Fertility Rate in Assam has been from 3.53 in 1992 -93 to 2.3 now which is a 35 % decline in a little over 20 years. There is also an unmet need for contraceptive (10%) which if met would bring down the TFR by a further.2 to 2.1 the desired level of fertility.
  5. We would like to bring to your notice that the reduction in TFR to 2.1 will not immediately reduce the population growth rate to stabilization levels because of ‘Population Momentum’. Population Momentum will continue for nearly 20 years or more because as population growth comes down from high population growth rates, the proportion of reproducing couples increases due to earlier high growth rates and lower mortality among children. Thus the population growth rate continues to be high as higher number of couples now have fewer children compared to the earlier situation of fewer couples having more children.
  6. We also endorse 10 of the 11 Targets of the Policy and would like to draw your attention to the last target – “Encouraging the Two family norm to substantially reduce TFR”. The two family or two child norm which is aimed at encouraging family size reduction through peer pressure has not been found to be successful in India since it was introduced in the Panchayati Raj acts in some states 1990’s. Some states have even withdrawn it. Some of the adverse effects of the two child norm that has been identified and studied through research are as follows:
  7. It tends to penalize women compared to men, because when faced with the option between a job or local leadership, women have to give up their aspirations and have the child, while men go ahead with their option compelling women to have an abortion
  8. It tends to penalize younger people compared to older people because the two child norm applies to children born after a particular date. It does not penalize older people with three four five or more children born before the cut-off date. This is particularly discriminatory because India is a country of young people.
  9. It tends to penalize poor and marginalized communities because the poor and marginalized usually have more children. This is not because they ‘want’ more children but because infant mortality figures are higher in poorer communities, and they are also further away health services. The data provided in the section Assam: The Development and Demographic Challenge, indicates the diversity in the state and how this affects some of the marginalized communities. This a two child norm will vitiate against the ‘inclusive growth’ agenda of the population policy.
  10. The two child norm has also been shown to be against child rights because people with more than two children often hide their third child or give it away for adoption. In such a situation the child is often denied even basic services like immunization. In other cases the third child often gets excluded from development benefits which are intended to ‘punish’ the parents. We must realize that the third or subsequent child has no role in the decision to be born and to deny it any benefits essential for its survival and well-being would be a child rights and human rights violation.
  11. Assam is one of the few states in the country with a ‘healthy’ sex ratio including the juvenile or child sex ratio. However the child sex ratio did show a small decline  of three points between 2001 and 2011 which should alert planners. A two child norm has severe implications for the child sex ratio of the state. In the presence of gender discrimination and son preference when faced with a two child norm families adopt sex selective practices and while it is okay for them to have two boys, one boy and one one girl or one boy, families do not prefer 2 daughters or one daughter. This creates a further pressure on the sex ratio of children. In China a similar one-child has led to a drastic reduction in the ratio of girls and women in the population
  12. We would like to point out that states like point out that states like Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh repealed the two child norm from their Panchayati Raj Acts, and state like UP and Bihar considered the two child norm but finally did not implement it because of the various adverse outcomes associated with this act. China too has relaxed its one  child policy.
  13. We would also like to point out the essential difference between a restriction through a laws like minimum age at marriage and two child related restrictions. Restricting child marriage prevents young girls (and boys) from being exposed to reproductive responsibilities and possible sexual violence before they are capable to being either able to decide for themselves or before their bodies are mature. It is a restriction meant to protect the vulnerable. A two child norm on the other hand has been seen to systematically disadvantage the vulnerable. Since the Population Policy is intended to primarily support and help vulnerable population including children, women, elderly and the poor the two child norm is a totally in appropriate measure.

We do hope you will take these facts into considerations and revise the draft Population Policy accordingly,

Sincerely,

National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights (NAMHHR)

Dr. Abhijit Das, Centre for Health & Social Justice, New Delhi

Vasvi Kiro, Torang  Trust, Jharkhand

Kalyani Meena, Prerna Bharti, Jharkhand

Jeevan Krushna Behera, SODA, Odisha

Vivekanand Ojha, Health Watch Forum, Bihar

Smriti Shukla, Maternal Health and Rights Campaign, MP

Adv. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Maharashtra

Sandhya YK,  Sahayog, UP

Sandhya Gautam, from NAMHHR Secretariat

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Newspaper columnist calls for mob violence against Muslims, deletes post

We are living in a society that is increasingly becoming intolerant towards our food choices, our clothing, our lifestyles, our very raison d’etre of existence. If you are a minority, and especially a Muslim, then the fear is overwhelming. The choice is either between conformity or fear of bodily harm. This is a problem, and the first step towards solving any problem is the sincere need to acknowledge that there is a problem.

The intolerance is not just restricted to remote rural villages in the hinterland. The venom has crept right into my and your cozy urban bubbles, where we like to insulate ourselves. I am not even talking about the shameful attacks that took place in South Delhi, where three men were assaulted by the “so-called Gau-Rakshaks”.

I am talking about well educated, influential people providing rationalisation to vigilante attacks, which in any other civilised country would have been thoroughly condemned across all political spectrum.

Take for instance, Harbir Singh. A first look at his Facebook profile, and you would see someone, who has had the best of upbringing, the best of education, a promising career. He happens to be a social media influencer, writes occasional columns for Times of India and his spouse is a Senior Assistant Editor with the same newspaper.

But Dwell deeper into his thinking, and you would come to terms with a very different uncomfortable reality of his thoughts. Here is a Facebook post (which has now been deleted), that he made in the light of the recent increased cow-vigilantism. This post had close to 200 likes and was shared by around 50 people, including the well known public figure Tarek Fateh.

mob violence muslims

Let us take a short walk through Harbir’s mind. He ends his first paragraph with a rationalisation of the increasing violence in the name of cows, and calls it inevitable, which he also claims has ‘broad public approval’.

The next paragraph is filled with arguments which are simply not grounded in reality. A simple look at the judicial exonerations of people like Swami Aseemanand, judicial proceedings of convicted mass murderers like Maya Kodnani (who has been out on bail since 2014) and what increasingly looks like from the way the judiciary has taken this case, she is going to have her convictions overturned.

There are numerous such cases, where terrorists are being protected by the state, due to their affiliations with organisations perceived close to the government in power. When was the last time you heard Islamists being treated with such kid gloves ? The state comes down heavily on Islamist terrorists, and very rightly so.

But anyway, let us move on to his third and fourth paragraphs. This is where the problem is, which so many of us have taken deep objection to. He begins with another assumption that our state is weak, and is unable to provide justice to victims.

What he ends with, is an all out call for mob violence against the “flock of Islamist Maulanas”. In his world, the syncretic India that provides space to different religious and political philosophies, simply does not exist.

So, if there are people in our society (whom he perceives as Islamists), he thinks the natural consequence should be an all out mob violence against every single Muslim living in India. He calls it an inevitable outcome, and asks us to conform to his wisdom, but we will not ! We will challenge it, at each and every step !

I started a campaign trying to take down his hateful message ! A Muslim friend of mine did the same as well. The next thing we know, Harbir Singh got outright abusive with my friend. He posted the following on his Facebook page. These posts have also been taken down (presumably by him)

What worries me, is not just the actions of a sole individual but the increasing tendency to provide intellectual justifications for crimes which should be condemned outright. Period ! If we don’t all get together to spread the message of love and unity, then we won’t be able to fight the fascism that has crept slowly into our society. Remember, fascism, when it arrives at our doorsteps, won’t come dressed in a Hitler’s SS brown shirt, but rather dressed in smart ties and suits of well educated English speaking men !

Hence – Organise, Agitate, Resist!

This newspaper columnist calls for mob violence against Muslims, deletes post

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India – Silence on vigilantism is not an option #FOE

Vigilantism has now spilled over from the domain of the creative arts to regulate the daily lives of people

When was the last time the Hindu community asked itself the question ‘who are we’? The last of the interrogators of Hindu society was, arguably, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. He catapulted to the forefront of the political agenda the many oppressions, discriminations, and exclusions of Hinduism, and thus compelled at least public intellectuals to investigate tradition and reflect on the malaise of the community. After him no one has really looked within the collective self, reflected, and considered.

This is a great tragedy, because unless a society asks fundamental questions of itself, it is doomed to complacency and stagnation, or simply doomed. Disdaining the stimulating intellectual exercise of examining the collective self, we have swept the failings of our society under the metaphorical carpet. Lulled into complacency by meaningless assertions — ‘say with pride we are Hindu’, or a ‘New India’, or a ‘sanitised India’, or a ‘digital India’ — few people ask why we still practise caste discrimination, why we continue to be disgracefully hostile to religious minorities, or why we are indifferent to the plight of our own people.

Silence as complicity

In a democratic political community, citizens owe obligations of justice to their fellow citizens. If the basic rights of an individual or a community are systematically violated, there should be pain, there should be empathy and outrage, and a determination to do something about the fundamental infringement of what is owed to human beings: dignity and respect. But we follow our own star; indifferent to the deplorable lack of solidarity in our community.

This is our tragedy, a double tragedy, because we are the inheritors of a rich history of public intellectuals, philosophers, social and religious reformers, and national leaders asking crucial questions of Indian society since the beginning of the nineteenth century. This was the beginning of the Indian Renaissance, and these questions escalated till the middle of the twentieth century. But no more.

Today, Hindu society is complicit in massive crimes perpetrated against Dalits, Muslims, and women, because it is silent in the face of atrocities practised by vigilantes who single-handedly define what they consider ‘morality’, and who punish people merely on suspicion that they violate codes of Hinduism. Backed by powerful political patrons and a compliant police force, vigilantes are legislators, prosecutors, juries and executioners rolled into one. Reports in our daily newspaper bring stories of horrific violence perpetrated by vigilantes masquerading as the keeper of the keys to the Hindu kingdom. This abnormality in our political life has become a normal way of doing politics. We should realise that democracy has been subverted, the rule of law has become redundant, and that our representatives are responsible for this serious deviation in political life. But we are silent.

Rising vigilantism

In early April, cow vigilantes attacked 15 Muslim men in the district of Alwar because they were transporting cows. One person died in the appalling violence, others were hospitalised. The Rajasthan Home Minister, Gulab Singh Kataria, defended vigilantes on the plea that cow smuggling is banned in Rajasthan. Apart from the fact that the victims possessed government documents allowing them to transport cows, the Minister’s words trivialise the system of justice. If people break a law, they should be hauled up before a court of justice for ‘the law to take its own course’. The law is, however, brushed aside as a slight inconvenience, as mercenaries attack the most vulnerable in our society, the Dalits and Muslims. This viciousness and this savagery is the new normal. And we watch in silence!

Vigilantism takes vicious shapes. In 2011 M.F. Husain died in loneliness and in exile, separated from his beloved country and its mythologies, to which he paid poetic homage on canvas. Some years before his death, London-based vigilantes ransacked an exhibition in Asia House that showcased some of Hussain’s paintings, and damaged priceless pieces of art. In India, the works of the gifted artist were not allowed to be exhibited, warrants were prepared for his arrest by the police, and Hussain had to leave the country of his birth. We live in an age when anyone, with no understanding, let alone appreciation, of aesthetics, metaphors, and allegories, can rule which painting, which book, which film can enter the public domain.

Deepa Mehta could not shoot her film on widows in the ashrams of Varanasi. And now Sanjay Leela Bhansali, known more for his lavish presentations than serious cinema, has been put on notice by the activist group Rajput Karni Sena. Bollywood producers, directors and actors have for long genuflected before the leadership of the Shiv Sena and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to ensure that their films could be released. The process has reached its natural culmination point, and now self-appointed censors force film-makers to follow ‘this’ and not ‘that’ script.

The need to speak out

For readers of newspapers these are stories of vigilantes wreaking their perverse notions of correctness on culture, art, and society. But we cannot afford to be silent. Martin Niemöller, the well-known German Lutheran pastor and theologian, initially supported the Nazis, subsequently opposed them, and was banished to a concentration camp. Reflecting on his own silence in the face of social suffering, he authored a famous Holocaust poem: First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Socialist. / Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist. / Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew. / Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me. Michael R. Burch, a poet, editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry, has authored a new version of this poem for contemporary America. ‘They’, he writes, came for the Muslims, then the homosexuals, and then the feminists, and I did not speak out because I belonged to none of these groups. He ends on a sombre note: “Now when will they come for me, because I was too busy and too apathetic, to defend my sisters and brothers?” Sages tell us that silence is a virtue, but silence when confronted by social oppression is tantamount to acquiescence.

There is a need to speak out, because vigilantism has now spilled over from the domain of the creative arts to regulate the daily lives of people. Nowhere is this more visible than in Yogi Adityanath’s Uttar Pradesh. The Hindu Yuva Vahini, founded by him to enforce his writ on his home turf, now rules the State and polices relationships. The group stalks courting couples, forces closure of slaughterhouses, and sparks off communal riots. A few days ago, its members broke into a home in Meerut and barged into the bedroom of a couple.

Can we afford to be silent? Our basic right to privacy is at stake. Also at stake is our status as mature citizens who possess the capacity to decide what kind of life we want to lead, who to be friends with, who to love, and what kind of food should be on our dinner table. Abjuring silence, we have to ask basic questions about our own society, and about our role as fellow citizens.

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Kerala – 8 ‘Gau Rakshaks’ arrested for spoiling meat, disrupting Easter celebrations

 

In yet another incident related to violence unleashed by cow vigilantes in India, the Aluva West Police in Kerala has arrested eight persons, all with RSSBJP links, for trespassing into someone’s house and throwing mud into beef preparations on the occasion of Easter.

The ‘gau rakshaks’ were taken into custody following a complaint was issued by Karumallur Panchayat president G D Shiju on April 17.

According to police, on Easter eve, a group of RSS activists trespassed into the house of Kallarakkal Jose and threw mud in the beef curry being prepared at Jose’s house, saying ‘we won’t allow cow slaughter’. They also spoilt the raw meat stored at the house. Police said the accused barged into the residence of Biju around noon on Sunday and disrupted the Easter celebration.

Jose, according to reports, decided to slaughter his three-year-old cow after it was found incapable for delivery. Scared of threats from Sangh groups, Jose was not ready to file a complaint. However, Karumallur Panchayat president G D Shiju issued a complaint with the police seeking action.

The accused have been identified as Valiyaparambil Baiju, Valiyaparambil Sarath, Ambatt Veettil Anil, Ambatt Veettil Lathan, Kallumpadi Veettil Gireesh, Veliyamparamb Veettil Nithosh, Varun from Revathy Bihar and his brother Arun.

Following an initial probe, a FIR was filed on April 17 and case was taken against 14 persons. The accused were summoned to the police station on Tuesday. But, they failed to turn up.

On Sunday, three Muslim cattle traders were attacked in Delhi for carrying buffaloes in a truck.

http://twocircles.net/2017apr23/408314.html

 

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Prafulla Samantara, man challenging Vedanta’s expansion in Odisha, wins Goldman Environmental Prize #Goodnews

Prafulla Samantara

Prafulla Samantara led a 12-year-battle to stall Vedanta’s bauxite mining

He will be the sixth Indian to receive the prestigious award.

Activist Prafulla Samantara was named on Monday as one of the six winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize for 2017. The prize citation said he was honoured for his “…historic 12-year legal battle that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondhs’ land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum ore mine.”

Mr. Samantara was one of the key leaders responsible for rallying tribes, indigenous to Odisha’s Niyamgiri region, and using legal provisions to thwart mining-to-metals conglomerate, Vedanta. The company has been forced to suspend plans to mine bauxite in the region.

Involved in activism “since the [anti-corruption] Jayprakash Narayan-movement,” Mr. Samantara said he would continue his work to ensure that politics played more than lip service in ensuring sustainable development. “We must have a national mining policy to rationally decide how much of our natural resources can be used for mining,” he told The Hindu in an interview.

The annual prize awarded by the Goldman Environmental Foundation honours grassroots environmentalists, who risk their lives to protect the environment and empower those who have the most to lose from industrial projects that threaten their traditional livelihoods.

Mr. Samantara, 65, comes from a family of farmers. Trained as a lawyer and married to a college professor, he has been involved in activism for nearly four decades. He is however, best known for his championing of the rights of the Dongria Kondh, an 8,000-member indigenous tribe in Orissa. The Niyamgiri Hills are sacred to them, and as such, the Dongria consider themselves to be its custodians.

In October 2004, the Odisha State Mining Company (OMC) signed an agreement with U.K.-based Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite, in the Niyamgiri Hills. The massive, open-pit mine threatened 1,660 acres of forests in order to extract more than 70 million tons of bauxite. The mine would also require roads to transport the bauxite, which would leave the forest vulnerable to loggers and poachers.

 
source- Third pole

In 2003, Mr. Samantara saw an announcement in the newspaper about a public hearing to discuss bauxite mining in the Niyamgiri Hills and alerted the Dongria Kondh that their were likely to lose their land if they didn’t act. He filed a petition with the Supreme Court’s panel governing mining activities. As the case worked its way through the court system, investors began to raise concerns about Vedanta’s environmental and human rights record. The Norwegian Pension Fund and the Church of England divested their shares from Vedanta, citing concerns about its conduct in the Niyamgiri Hills.

Almost a decade after Mr. Samantara’s initial filing, the Supreme Court ruled on April 18, 2013 that gram sabhas (village councils) would have the final say in mining projects on their land. By August 2013, all 12 tribal village councils had unanimously voted against the mine and in August 2015, Vedanta announced the closure of the aluminium refinery it had built in anticipation of the mine’s opening.

Other prize-winners this year include mark! (sic) Lopez, United States; Uroš Macerl, Slovenia; Rodrigo Tot, Guatemala; Rodrigue Katembo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Wendy Bowman, Australia.

Since 1990 when the awards were first instituted, six Indians — Medha Patkar, M.C. Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla, Ramesh Agrawal and Prafulla Samantara have won the prize.

Apart from a medal and citation, winners receive a substantial cash award though the exact amount is not revealed. Reuters reported in 2014 that individuals won $175,000 (₹1.13 crore approx) as prize money.

The Goldman Environmental Prize recipients are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide group of environmental organizations and individuals. The winners are announced every April to coincide with Earth Day.

 

Earlier recipients from the country include Medha Patkar, MC Mehta, Rasheeda Bi, Champaran Shukla and Ramesh Agrawal.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/niyamgiris-hero-gets-goldman-prize/article18201228.ece

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Assam Activist Bondita Acharya determined to fight Bajrang Dal after threats of Rape and Acid attack

When a  conversation on beef-eating  on facebook ,  threatens  a woman activist  with rape and acid attacks 

 

Some of the faces who threatened and abused Bondita Acharya on facebook

By- Kamayani Bali Mahabal

On 10 April 2017, woman human rights defender, Bondita Acharya, filed a complaint with the Criminal Investigation Department in Guwahati, Assam state in Northeast India, after she was the target of violent threats on social media.

The background of the incident is that 3 Muslim persons including a minor were arrested on the outskirts of Jorhat town on 7th April 2017 while returning home with half a kg of beef. It is claimed that they were cooking the same in a temporary hut at a construction site where they were working. The arrest has been made under The Assam Cattle Preservation Act of 1950, which does not criminalize possession or consumption of beef but only lays down the circumstances under which cattle may be permitted to be slaughtered. The FIR had been lodged by an active BJP supporter Mridu Pawan Bora. Many people were critical of this arrest on the social media since the consumption of beef is common in the North East and not confined to only the Muslim community.

 

According to Bondita  Acharya , the  conversation on Facebook was about people other than the Muslim community eating beef in the state. She  commented that people even from higher castes of Hindus consume beef. Suddenly, some strangers began to abuse her  using the most offensive language. They threatened her with death, rape, acid attacks, and also hurled sexually explicit abuse to defame me. What shocked me was also that the language used to abuse me was Assamese

BELOW IS ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF ABUSES ON FACEBOOK,

by Sheetal Sharma

Nayanjyoti Kalita- Is it a hijra

Nayanjyoti Kalita- face looks like frog skin

Aaush Das- This harami (bastard )should be beaten up

Ankur Bairagi- Is she a randi (prostitute)

Nawalkishor Gobindadas- She looks like the 10 rupees 20 rupees types

Tipu Shah- One doesn’t need looks to speak the right thing. What is needed is personality and thinking and she has that, so, I respect U

Amrit Pran- Those who can sell their brain doesn’t have any value

Aisha Siddika- Many kafirs eat beef too…my friends eat…on their own…haha

Debjoy Das-  …., will you eat pork?

Dharmendra Talukdar Tiku- …….(some slang)

Dhrubajyoti- Which Arab gave birth to you…

Bishal Ray- Rendy

Dharmendra Talukdar Tiku-She should be beaten up with sandals

Kabyajit Mahanta- Aisha Siddika you are saying kafir, but do you know that you people are called muhajir

Tikendrajit Sarmah- You are not beautiful either (comment seems to be targeting Aisha Siddika)

Jotin Gogoi- Mh Choudhury you are her lawyer

  • (could not understand the comment)

Baivabi Bhattacharya- This woman is so weird…

Biswajit Taye- Whether she eats or not that’s on her

Raj Dey- This one’s face looks like a boy

Raj Dey- She must be non hindu

Jitmanyu Sarma- She will eat human too

Manash Saikia- We Assamese worship cow…

Munna- oooh I want to ask more questions

Munna- Can I ask more questions if you don’t mind?

Sanjay Sagar Dax- Whoever doesn’t eat pork and turtle meat he is half mad

Rowdy Sujit Bhai- Sisterfucker …(kela- Assamese slang meaning penis)…let this …(Assamese slang- johori meaning a girl/woman without legal father/parents) come to bijni (a place in Chirang district of Assam), I will make her forget her father’s name

Pranab Rajbongshi- How many comments to this post…

Manik Devnath- Chi haramjadi

Hori Dey- Throw acid on  her face

Asraful Hoque Choudhuri- everyone should report that this rendy (rendy is an assamese slang which meaqns prostitute)is herself using a fake id

Rintu Ahmed- These are fake accounts

Dhrubajyoti- Johori (abuse) muslim

Midul Ray- she is of this level

Raz sadagar- has she… (kela- abuse) gone mad or is she speaking nonsense

Ajoy Bora- why should we eat

Lj Nath- from the looks it is apparent that she is a muslim rendy(rand)

Bappy Hussain- Haha..

 

Shahid Azmain- one of them is a hindu …(gedi- abuse)

Gautam Govind- fake account of some …(gedi- abuse)

Pankajj Baruahh- Ohhh she must be warming the beds of beef-eating muslims too

Bhagyen Talukdar- She can not be hindu

Dharma Nath- Look at her name- bondita. She can not even write the spelling of her name correctly. What else to say. Bondita acharya. Do reply.

 

Pranab Rajbongshi- one can not be hindu just by writing hindu title. Nowadays many muslim boys write hindu title, and flirts with hindu girls by pretending to be hindu after calling as wrong number. Then they also make the hindu girls elope with them

Sankar Das- everyone will get the results of their work

 

Basab Ch Thakuria- she is the kind of grass that even a horse would not eat. I am feeling pukish after looking at her profile.

Pradip Biswas- She looks like a rakshashi

Asraful Hoque Choudhuri- look at your own face

Pranab Jyoti Kalita- these are some fake accounts. Mridul baruah is fake

Mridul Baruah- your father must be fake

Hasanur Ahmed- She looks beautiful…U should have the eyes to see her beauty…

Jitu Das- must be fake account of some congress person or … (geda- abuse). This is an attempt to spread bad culture among hindus.

Biddyut Deka- I agree with this

Goutam Mrar Bajrangi- these are rakshashes

Rahul Mayur Sarmah- she looks like a garo (a tribe from Meghalaya)

ABUSES AND THREATS IN ASSAMESE ]

Bondita Acharya is a human rights defender from Assam, in Northeastern India, and a member of  Women in Governance (WinG) Assam. WinG is a network of women activists, leaders and civil society organisations with a common aim of bringing more women in to decision-making processes, as well as promoting peace, security and the empowerment of women. She is also the Northeast coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) and a member of the network Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS).

A local Hindu group, Bajrang Dal, issued a press statement demanding that Bondita Acharya issue a public apology for condemning the arrests.Bondita Acharya  said  Bajrang Dal  asked people on social media to identify her house in Jorhat

 

 

Meanwhile, many complaints  have been sent to various platforms including National Human  Rights Commisison (NHRC), Front Line Defenders

 

After the FIR was filed, now Bondita will be giving her statement  at the Jorhat court  tommorrow, April 26, 2017.

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Bovine Intervention: Here Comes a Unique ID Number For Cows #WTFnews

Centre wants UID for all cows with details of horn, tail, breed, age

Bovine Intervention: Here Comes a Unique ID Number For Cows

Representative image

New Delhi: Buoyed by the success of unique identification number for humans, the Centre has decided to create a similar UID for cows.

While talks about such a move last year were met with amusement and criticism, the government has now made its intentions clear at the highest level.

In a submission to the Supreme Court on measures to be taken for cow protection and to stop smuggling of cattle across the IndiaBangladesh border, the Centre has said that a committee, headed by joint secretary, home ministry, has been formed to find out ways to generate UID for each cow in India.

The UID will have details like age, breed, sex, lactation, height, body, colour, horn type, tail switch and special marks of the animal. While the responsibility for care of abandoned animals will lie with the state governments, the Centre is planning shelter homes in each district to accommodate at least 500 abandoned cows. The panel has suggested that the state governments will have to fund these facilities for cows.

The government has also recommended special care for cows beyond the age of milking. Centre has also proposed a scheme for farmers in distress, to discourage them from selling their cattle after its milking age.

The central government told the Supreme Court on Monday that it wants an Aadhaar-like unique identification system for cows to track their movement and prevent inter-state and inter-country smuggling. Adducing a report by a committee appointed by the Union Home Ministry, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told a bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar that the Centre has approved the recommendations in principle. The bench posted the matter for detailed hearing on Tuesday.

The committee, headed by a Joint Secretary in the MHA, was constituted after the apex court prodded the government to stop smuggling of cattle, especially through the porous borders with Nepal and Bangladesh. “Each animal (should) be tagged with a unique identification number with proper records of identification details such as age, breed, sex, lactation, height, body, colour, horn type, tail switch, special mark etc,” says the report.

It points out that the Ministry of Agriculture has devised a tamper-proof method for identification of cattle, using polyurethane tags with a unique identification number sequence. “This may be made mandatory for all cows and its progeny throughout India for all cattle that is owned. Already, mass tagging of cattle for insurance purpose is being done by Livestock Development Boards and Animal Husbandry Department of state governments,” it says.

The committee has proposed that a state-level databank should be set up, which may be linked with a national online database for registered cattle. “The protocol for such registration may be notified by the Ministry of Agriculture and also allocation of suitable budget for the registration of cattle in a phase-wise manner across the country. A nodal officer may be appointed as the Registrar of Cattle Premises, appointed in each state under the Registration of Cattle Premises Rules, 1978, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act,” says the report.

Amid the nationwide debate over attacks by “gau rakshaks”, the committee has recommended that “all cattle being transported may have identification tags” and that “no animal transportation may be permitted without ‘fitness to move certificate’ to be issued by registered veterinary officers.”

Calling for a uniform law for cow preservation and protection in India, the committee has also proposed restrictions on “private inter-state trade/ transportation of cattle” and said that “only government agencies may be allowed inter-state trade/ transportation.”

Favouring increased penalty under the PCA Act, it has said that “penalty to be increased from Rs 50… make all offences under the Act cognizable.”

Pointing out that cattle smuggling is a by-product of the dairy industry, the report says: “Barren cows or bulls or low-yielding animals are sold to organised smugglers or are abandoned on the roads from where they are captured and smuggled to international borders. Such sales and abandonment of cattle is rampant and without any onus or responsibility on the part of the cattle owner.”

The panel has suggested that “state governments bordering Bangladesh may prohibit livestock markets within 20 km distance from international borders.” It has also recommended that state governments should be responsible for the safety and care of abandoned animals. Each district should have a shelter home with a capacity to house at least 500 abandoned animals to help reduce smuggling, and such units should be funded by the states.

That’s not it. Toll free helplines are being set up where people will be asked to report any suspicious trafficking of cows.

According to sources, India has nearly 47 million indigenous and cross-bred cows. Each of these cows will get a 12-digit UID, which will help the government in tracking their movement and productivity.http://indianexpress.com/article/india/centre-wants-uid-for-all-cows-with-details-of-horn-tail-breed-age-4626717/

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What govt needs to do to make Rights of Persons with Disability Act work

Image result for What govt needs to do to make Rights of Persons with Disability Act work

It falls short on the vision to acknowledge and empower the disabled so they can sail through the challenges themselves.

KOSHY MATHEW

“A human being is a magnificent creation and the magnificence must reflect in a humane, magnanimous, and all-inclusive manner so that every individual tends to feel that she/he deserves space,” as observed by the Supreme Court in the Pranay Kumar Podder vs State of Tripura and Others case in 2017.

There is potential progress on the horizon as inclusion, integration and phrases that would define their essence are discussed zealously, but what portends horror is that it is still left to choice – that it is not the practice.

Policymakers say let’s change the rules, activists say let’s change the mindset, politicians say let’s treat “them” as “Divine”, courts say let’s be magnanimous and civil society says let’s earn favours from God – all this haggle is for accepting the “other”.

The “other” who is not identified but made conspicuous by identifying oneself as “able”, “complete”, “blessed” et al.

Though the term is not convincingly conceptualised, the disabled have regretfully become the foil that bolsters the design that defines a fully-functional human being. This has made them second-class citizens in public perception whose rights and necessities have to be spelt out by invoking sections of rulebooks that turn futile to execute equity and justice.

How far can a booklet of law make any difference? Will rights mean acceptance? How much can a list of provisions do to redeem the rights and the respect of the 2.68 crore disabled in India?

Will such outcry lead to inclusion and universality?

The Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 was passed by the lawmakers at the end of a forgettable winter Parliament session, which was inundated by the torrent of acrimony post- demonetisation.

But the Act brought cheer to many as it increased the number of identified disabilities from 7 to 21, and the employment reservation to not less than 4 per cent, as well as included inclusive education, penalties for offences against the persons with disabilities (PWDs), Special Courts, National and State Funds, et al.

The Act has been acknowledged by experts for espousing the progress of the disabled population and for its noteworthy shift from a concessional model to a social one. The inclusion of acid attack victims, learning disability, Parkinson’s, blood disorders, speech and language disability et al are perfect examples of the inclusive undertone sustained throughout the Act.

The emphasis on reasonable accommodation, accessibility, inclusive education, employment security, research and surveys, proactive measures to contain disability, protection against violence, legal guardianship, rights to appeal et al are commendable provisions.

They look attractive and empowering on paper, but carry ambiguities that can be twisted and distorted to meet selfish interests.

blindsmal_0216171205_042417054942.jpgVision is where the Act leaves a lot to be desired. Photo: Screengrab

For instance, recurring clauses like “within the limits of economic capacity and development”, “without undue and inappropriate burden”, “the extension of time based on the state of preparedness and related parameters”, “cannot be discriminated unless the impugned act or omission is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim” et al leave ample room for denial of justice.

This also leads to empowerment remaining elusive and reliant on the interests of the “able-bodied”. Many new appointments and the strengthening of office proposed in the Act are also devoid of providing absolute justice.

The chief commissioner’s position remains limited to recommending, reviewing, monitoring, promoting and learning.

The state commissioner’s powers, on the other hand, are equivalent to those of a civil court. She/he can summon witness, requisition public record, receive evidence, issue commissions for examination et al. There seems to be no authority that can try an accused or pass verdicts.

In case of violence, the Executive Magistrate is the authority to be sought, while employment-related discrimination can be conveyed to a Grievance Redressal Officer and there is a Liaison Officer to check on recruitment – all of it remains within the purview of the Chief Commissioner, whose powers are quasi-judicial.

Another glaring and minimally-covered area is the amount of power exercised in private establishments. The private sector appears under the surveillance of the Act.

Except in contexts of barrier-free access at private hospitals, among service providers, incentives in the case of employing at least not less than five per cent disabled and an equal opportunity policy, the Act seems hardly persuasive.

This is evident in the Draft Rules that came out, first on March 3, 2017, where an exclusive framework for private sector was mentioned and the revised Draft Rules that came out on March 10, 2017, where there is no mention of the private establishment in the chapter on Equal Opportunity Policy.

This keeps the authority that the Act wields on the private sector within shadows. One would agree to disagree on many other provisions – most of these are liable to failures and those which twisted arguments can overthrow.

It is hardly airtight to cross-examination and thus can’t be manoeuvred easily by a disabled person.

While the Act is surely an attempt for progress and inclusion, it falls short on the vision to acknowledge and empower the disabled so they can sail through the challenges themselves.

When the bourgeoisie took control of the society – visibly for the first time in history post revolutions extending the period of 1789 to 1848 – it was believed that they would not only spawn material but also reason, human opportunities, enlightenment, science and arts.

In a nutshell, a world of accelerating material and moral progress was the vision. But what has come of the attempts to fulfil it since then is simply “survival of the fittest” with “fittest” having connotations ranging from ignorance to moral depravity.

In such a world where opportunities are the charity of the fittest, “vision” is a strong word, perhaps even abstract to the status quo.

Even if “vision” is deciphered, it would not disturb their own guaranteed social order or threaten their own existence. All we can hope for is a future that would be “magnanimous” and accept the “magnificence of creation”.

http://www.dailyo.in/politics/india-disabled-rights-of-persons-with-disability-act-2016/story/1/16824.html

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