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Archives for : July2017

Basirhat Riot Victim’s Son Denies BJP’s Claim to Him

Soon after 65-year-old Kartik Ghosh was killed in the communal violence in Basirhat, West Bengal, BJP state chief Dilip Ghosh said that Kartik was the local ward president of the party.

But in an exclusive interview to The Quint, Kartik Ghosh’s son, Prabhashish, has rubbished the BJP’s claims.

My father wasn’t into politics. Our nine-member family depended on his income for our daily bread. He had no time to do politics.

Prabhashish Ghosh, son of Basirhat riot victim Kartik Ghosh

Kartik Ghosh’s  widow Namita holds up an old photograph of the two of them.
Kartik Ghosh’s widow Namita holds up an old photograph of the two of them. (Photo: The Quint)

Kartik Ghosh was lynched by a mob in Basirhat on 5 July, while on his way back from the local marketplace. Close to a week later, the politics around the violence that killed him rages on.

Those at Ghosh’s residence in Bhyabla, Basirhat though are still in mourning. His widow Namita is weeping. “He was a very good man. His hard work filled our stomachs. We were dependent on him,” she says.

Now that he is not there, I don’t know how the household will run. I hope the government helps us in some way.

https://www.thequint.com/news-videos/2017/07/11/basirhat-kartik-ghosh-not-in-politics-son-denies-bjp-claim

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Gujarat Hindi textbook describes roza as ‘infectious disease’ #WTFnews

When contacted, GSSTB chairman Nitin Pethani said, “This is a printing error. There should be haiza (cholera) in place of roza, but mistakenly both these words have been inter-changed.”

In a “printing error”, roza or fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramzan has been explained as “an infectious disease in which one suffers from diarrhoea and vomiting” in a Class IV Hindi textbook of the Gujarat State School Textbook Board (GSSTB). This comes days after the GSSTB drew strong criticism over a derogatory reference to Jesus Christ in its Class IX Hindi textbook.

The error was spotted on page number 13 at the end of chapter three — a story ‘Idgah’ by Premchand — of the Class IV Hindi textbook for Hindi-medium students. The definition of the second word ‘roza’ in shabdarth (meaning) was given as “ek chaatak tatha sankramak rog jisme dast aur kaai ati hai (an infectious disease that leads to diarrhoea and vomiting)”.

When contacted, GSSTB chairman Nitin Pethani said, “This is a printing error. There should be haiza (cholera) in place of roza, but mistakenly both these words have been inter-changed.”

While this textbook has been part of the curriculum since 2015, Pethani claimed there was no such error in the earlier edition. He said the error cropped up in the print edition of 2017.

“We will issue a correction for Hindi-medium schools… Not more than 15,000 copies of this textbook were published due to limited number of Hindi-medium students,” said Pethani.

While GSSTB officials denied having received an official complaint from any organisation or individual, Ahmedabad-based Right to Education (RTE) Forum, led by Mujahid Nafees, said the matter would be taken up with higher authorities. “The Forum has planned to submit a complaint to the GSSTB and the state government… errors regarding religions will not be accepted… action must be taken against those involved,” said Nafees.

Source:http://indianexpress.com/article/india/gujarat-hindi-textbook-describes-roza-as-infectious-disease-4744985/

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#AmarnathTerrorAttack – Why the bus violated security norms? 5 unanswered questions

 

Amarnath yatra attack:

The registration of the bus, presence of military convoy and other key questions left unanswered after the terror attack on the bus of Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag.

KASHMIR TURMOIL

Amarnath
Security force personnel (R) checks the bag of a man near a base camp of Hindu pilgrimage to the cave of Amarnath after seven Hindu pilgrims were killed in a gunbattle between Indian police and militants on Monday.(REUTERS)

The attack on a bus of Amarnath pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag on Monday night that left seven people dead and 19 injured has left several questions unanswered.

Here are some:

• Was the bus registered with the Amarnath shrine board? If not, why?

Pilgrims and the vehicles they use have to be registered with the shrine board. Then how was the bus, which had a Gujarat number plate (GJ09Z 9976), allowed to ply? It is also unclear who owns the chartered bus, the sale of which to a new owner is said to be incomplete.

• How did the bus manage to go through multiple security check points despite no registration?

Around 60 unregistered pilgrims visited the shrine, and no one noticed? The people who were attacked on Monday night had completed the pilgrimage two days ago and took a detour for sightseeing. The bus left the Baltal base camp, where security is tight, and moved on the heavily guarded national highway, apparently not being checked even once.

• Why was the bus allowed to travel after sunset, a violation of standard operating procedure?

Jammu and Kashmir deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh admitted to lapses, and said officials would investigate why the bus was allowed to travel after 5pm. The security protocol for the annual pilgrimage bars vehicles from moving after sundown.

• Why was a police patrol vehicle travelling ahead of the unregistered pilgrim bus?

Security is provided only to registered vehicles. The presence of the police van, which was also targeted, has raised questions whether it was guarding the bus or just happened to travel ahead of it.

• Why did the police fail to secure the route despite intelligence warnings about possible terror attacks?

Two days before the pilgrimage started, Kashmir inspector general of police Muneer Khan wrote a letter, warning of terrorists planning a “sensational strike” to target Amarnath pilgrims to whip up communal passions. He had specifically mentioned terrorists could fire at pilgrim vehicles; that is what happened in Botengoo village on Monday night.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rise-of-rss-in-west-bengal-has-rocked-mamata-banerjee-s-boat/story-f3zNciQeghSwMgOCsyOrSM.html

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When Words Come To Haunt – Ram Nath Kovind, the Presidential nominee

Ram Nath Kovind, the Presidential nominee had reportedly stated in 2010 that Islam and Christianity are alien to the nation. He has since clarified that what he actually said was that Christianity and Islam are alien to the ‘notion’ of caste. In India it is common to hear people pronouncing ‘o’ like ‘a’ due to the mother tongue pull. But coming to the crux of the matter, Islam and Christianity are religions and not castes and there is a difference between the two. A Dalit can be a Hindu, Muslim or Christian. His/her caste remains the defining factor despite the conversion to so-called casteless religions like Islam and Christianity. In many churches in India, Dalit Christians are seated separately from the rest of the congregation. It as if Dalits carry the caste mark on their foreheads.

Kovind’s comment which came in the aftermath of the Ranganath Misra Commission report recommending 15% quota in government jobs for socially and economically disadvantaged sections among religious and linguistic minorities in India, therefore merit some introspection instead of undue criticism. The Misra report had recommended 10% quotas for Muslims and 5% for other minorities in government jobs and also proposed Scheduled Caste status for Dalits of all religions. Kovind was probably speaking as a Dalit leader and his contention that the inclusion of Muslims and Christians in the Scheduled Caste category would be unconstitutional needs to be looked at from the perspective of caste, and not religion, being the overarching issue which continues to push Dalits to the margins irrespective of their religion.

Reservation per se is a contentious issue in India. To further expand the scope of reservation to include religious minorities would open up a can of worms. Amongst Christians the Scheduled Tribes already enjoy reservation under the Constitution. If they can also claim reservation as religious minorities then they would be enjoying double advantage.

Undoubtedly reservation is necessary to bring up that section of Indians who have fallen between the cracks as far as their socio-economic profile goes. The poorest deserve to be uplifted by strategic interventions and reservation is one of them. But reservation cannot be extended across the board for people of a tribe/community/caste without assessing their socio-economic statuses. This is the only way to bring fairness and equity to the idea of reservation.

Source:http://www.theshillongtimes.com/2017/07/11/when-words-come-to-haunt/

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SC: Madras HC stay on slaughter ban covers entire country

 cattle

We are seized of the matter and considering various suggestions in the notification, says Centre.

In a setback to Centre, the Supreme court on Tuesday said that the Madras High Court‘s stay on Centre’s notification on sale of cattle including cows for slaughter will continue and would cover entire country.

 

Cattle slaughter ban: In a big development, the Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended the Narendra Modi government order that had banned the trade of cattle for slaughter, news agency Reuters reported. The apex court on Tuesday said the interim direction of the Madras High Court staying the Centre’s notification banning sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter will remain in force and would cover the entire country, news agency PTI confirmed. A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud took note of the statement of the Central government that it was reconsidering the notification by taking into account various objections and suggestions of stakeholders and would come up with an amended notification.

What Supreme Court said?

“Needless to say that the interim direction issued by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court shall continue and extend to the entire country,” the bench said. The bench then disposed of the plea filed by the All India Jamiatul Quresh Action Committee challenging the
constitutional validity of the May 23 notification.

Centre’s statement

Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for the Centre said, the recent notification, in any case, will not be effective unless the state governments earmark local markets as stipulated under it where cattle sale takes place. “Moreover, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and others authorities concerned are looking into various suggestions and objections to the notification and a fresh amended one will be re-notified,” the ASG said, adding the Central government as of now is not seeking a stay on the Madras HC order and apprising the court about the present status.

The apex court considered the submissions of the Centre and asked it to give “sufficient time” so as to enable aggrieved persons to approach the court again with their grievance if any, news agency PTI reported.

What’s this ban all about?

The Centre had on May 23 issued the notification banning sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, a move that is expected to hit export and trade of meat and leather.

The Environment Ministry had notified the stringent ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017’ under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The NGO had moved the Supreme Court, challenging the Centre’s notification that bans sale and purchase of cattle from animal markets for slaughter, a move that received flak since its announcement.

The petition was filed by a Hyderabad-based lawyer Fahim Qureshi, stating that the order was discriminatory and unconstitutional, as it prevented cattle traders from earning their livelihood.

On May 25, the Centre through an order imposed a ban on the sale of cattle, including cows, for slaughter and restricted cattle trade solely to farm owners.

Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan had ordered that the ministry has notified the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 to ensure that the sale of cattle is not meant for slaughter purposes.

Regulating animal trade is a state business, but animal welfare is a central subject, thereby providing the window for the ministry to notify the rule.

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#AmarnathTerrorAttack – Driver Salim Sheikh ‘Couldn’t Save 7 But Drove Everyone Else To Safety

 

Had Saleem not kept driving, more could have lost their lives, believe pilgrims who survived the Amarnath terror attack.

Amarnath Bus Driver 'Couldn't Save 7 But Drove Everyone Else To Safety'

Saleem, who drove Amarnath pilgrims to safety, is being held up as example of humanity beyond religion.

ANANTNAG/SURAT: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. 7 killed, 20 injured in terror attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims
  2. Terrorists fired indiscriminately at bus carrying pilgrims last night
  3. Bus driver kept driving even as firing continued for one kilometre

As a group of terrorists surrounded a bus with 61 Amarnath pilgrims on Monday night and fired indiscriminately, driver Sheikh Saleem Gafoor Bhaikept kept driving. In inky darkness, he drove on through the hail of bullets and didn’t stop until he spotted an army camp.

“God gave me strength to keep moving, and I just did not stop. The firing went on and on, so I didn’t stop. I kept driving,” said Saleem, who is being held up by many as an example of humanity beyond religion.

Seven pilgrims returning from the Amarnath shrine were killed and 20 wounded in the terror attack in Anantnag, one of the worst in the Kashmir Valley in recent years. Pilgrims on the bus were mainly from Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Had Saleem stopped or panicked, more lives would have been lost, believe those who survived the attack.

“My driver was so brave…he drove on,” said an injured woman at the Anantnag district hospital.

There was firing from all three sides. Our driver managed to take the bus a few km ahead. He saved us,” said another injured pilgrim.

The attackers were Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, the police in Kashmir told NDTV. They had fired at an armoured police car and a security check-post before surrounding the pilgrims’ bus on three sides and firing. The bus was not meant to be on the highway after 5 pm, given security restrictions, but it was delayed by more than two hours, reportedly because of a flat tyre.

“We were driving at 70-80 speed when firing suddenly started. I said let’s keep going until we see the army,” said Saleem’s helper.

Bhagya Mani, who lost her sister-in-law, said: “The driver drove the bus for a kilometer. It was pitch-dark and we could see nothing.”

At 9.30 pm, around an hour after the terrorists struck, Saleem dialed his cousin to share his horror.

“He couldn’t save seven lives but managed to move some 50 people to a safe place. I am proud of him,” said Javed Mirza.

Saleem deserves an award, said Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani. “I want to thank the bus driver for saving the lives of people even when there was firing going on. I will nominate his name for a bravery award,” he said.

http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/amarnath-bus-driver-couldnt-save-7-but-managed-to-move-50-to-safety-1723217?site=full

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#AmarnathTerrorAttack – It runs counter to the culture of Kashmir

‘There is genuine shock amongst Kashmiris.’
‘The attack runs counter to the culture of Kashmir and the grain of the Kashmiri character.’
‘The spirit of religious faith in Kashmir is inclusive.’
‘An ordinary Kashmiri can be a political fundamentalist, but never a religious fundamentalist,’ says Mohammad Sayeed Malik, the veteran commentator on Kashmir affairs.

Sadhus make their way to Amarnath yatra

The attack on the pilgrims is a great tragedy.

It runs counter to the culture of Kashmir, the grain of the Kashmiri character.

In spite of all the odds — there is no denying that there have not been distortions or aberrations — but overall the core of this culture has remained intact, even when under great strain.

This is under attack. An overwhelming — 90 per cent to 95 per cent of Kashmiris — are very upset with this (attack on the Amarnath Yatra).

There is genuine shock amongst Kashmiris about what happened.

Were security norms not adhered to by the bus?

The most vulnerable period on the ground in Kashmir is between 7 pm and 9 pm. Before that, there is full deployment (of the security forces.

Between 7 pm and 9 pm, most police and paramilitary forces are withdrawn to their bases. That is the vulnerable time when the militants strike.

Amarnath Yatra buses are supposed to be at their home (the base for the night) by 7 pm whether in Baltal, Pahalgam or Jammu, so that the pilgrims are not exposed to any threat.

I will not say that the attack happened because the bus straggled behind, but it not being part of the convoy contributed to it being vulnerable to attack.

On local participation in the Amarnath Yatra:

Locals — porters — carry old pilgrims on their shoulders.

Pilgrims buy food, stay in Kashmiri hotels and interact with Kashmiris.

If there was an element of terrorism or militancy that threatened the yatra, the locals would not go there. But they go in flocks.

If local militants were against the yatra, local Kashmiris would not venture there. This means that there is no such threat.

Some elements within the militancy may not look at it that way, but by and large there is local participation in huge numbers.

On the shrine being located in south Kashmir, the current hotbed of militancy:

This incident happened in south Kashmir which is in the grip of acute militancy.

South Kashmir was the political stronghold of the PDP (the Peoples Democratic Party, which rules Jammu and Kashmir in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party).

The PDP was seen as a sort of buffer between the state and the rest of the country, but that buffer has been rendered hollow because the PDP-BJP agenda of alliance — which included dialogue — has not been undertaken.

Three years down the line, no one talks of the assurances that were given.

There is a political vacuum on the ground that creates space for the militants.

Estrangement, alienation is fuelling the situation and there is total lack of political initiative and indifference to tackle the situation.

Its impact on Kashmir and beyond?

One more incident has taken place, but its implications go beyond.

In the prevailing atmosphere of radicalisation, polarisation in the country, it can be an aggravating factor because of the sentiments attached to the religious pilgrimage.

Unfortunately, the Amarnath Yatra has been polarised for the past two decades as a counter reaction to militancy.

Earlier, it used to be a very ordinary affair, in the sense everybody was involved in it as an annual routine of the socio-culture life of Kashmir.

I have covered it from the 1950s and 1960s and never have I found animosity from locals towards the pilgrims.

When I was a child I remember how it started from Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar.

The holy mace of Lord Shiva was taken in a procession.

We children, Hindus and Muslims, would line up to see the celebration as it made its way.

En route it used to stop at a couple of temples and reach the cave shrine on Purnima.

The yatra always started from Lal Chowk. The present custodian of the holy mace is Acharya Deependra Giri.

Later, that changed and it became a yardstick for measuring the behaviour of the local Kashmiri.

Few elements in the yatra started shouting provocative slogans, not always religious.

There are some elements who made it look if they were coming to conquer Kashmir more than going on a religious pilgrimage.

Some elements have tried to give it an ugly edge, but the yatra is a part of our culture.

On another attack in the series of attacks in Kashmir:

The spirit of religious faith in Kashmir is inclusive.

There is an inclusiveness of Islam in Kashmir.

An ordinary Kashmiri can be a political fundamentalist, but he can never be a religious fundamentalist.

I have seen in political fights, they have burned mosques, not temples.

The Jama Masjid was set on fire in 1965 because of trouble between Sheikh Abdullah and Mirwaiz’s family.

The aam Kashmiri does not like this sort of thing — there are 10 per cent to 20per cent who may not think like this, like in any other society.

People are spiritual here.

Islam in Kashmiri has a different characteristic. Some of its beliefs are in conflict with radical Islam.

Implications of the attack outside Kashmir?

Kashmiris outside will be the target.

People who want to provoke this will light a fire.

I fear most for Kashmiri students.

Television channels have also contributed to vitiating the atmosphere against Kashmiri Muslims.

This can lead to a spark where emotions will run high and people would want to exploit the situation.

The agenda of alliance included confidence building measures — all under the Constitution and existing political parameters — to enter into a dialogue with your own people.

But they don’t care and want the military to take care. They should start with honouring that commitment.

There is no effort from the government’s end and that is the end that matters.

Does the attack mean a red line has been breached in Kashmir?

We need to determine who was involved (in the terror attack) and who carried it out.

If it involves foreign terrorists, it is part of their old game.

Even if local militants are found to be involved, I will see it as an aberration. Not as a pattern.

Only investigations will reveal who is involved, so I will hold my view.

Mohammad Sayeed Malik, the veteran commentator on Kashmir affairs, spoke to Rediff.com‘s Archana Masih from Srinagar.

IMAGE: Sadhus during the journey. Photograph: PTI Photo

http://www.rediff.com/news/special/the-attack-runs-counter-to-the-culture-of-kashmir/20170711.htm

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Why TAXAB is wrong about demanding #Bharat4PopulationLaw #WorldPopulationDay

by National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights

The World Population Day is celebrated every year on the 11th of July as a result of a UN Resolution in 1990 seeking to enhance awareness of population issues, including their relations to the environment and development. In India the World Population Day has more often than not been an occasion to highlight the ‘overpopulation’ in the country with a focus on the total number of people living in India and that this number is ‘too much’. This year this focus on overpopulation has been reinforced by a new group of concerned citizens called TAXAB or the Taxpayers Association of Bharat who are calling for a new population control law under the hashtag #Bharat4PopulationLaw.

The overall logic of this campaign is two-fold – the first part argues that as tax-payers of India we should be concerned about the misuse of our taxes by the system towards the development of Bharat. The second part explains the nature of the misuse which manifests as lack of good roads, joblessness, increasing poverty, lack of good food, clean air etc. And this lack of good infrastructure and facilities as well as pollution is due to increasing population – primarily among the BPL.

In quick strokes it creates a division between the tax-payer who is being short-changed by the poor who are growing in numbers, and secondly it attributes all the ills of the country to growing population, though it first argues that there is mismanagement by the system. The problems in the country are there for all to experience, and urban overcrowding is a phenomenon nearly all taxpayers are facing daily – so the logic is bound to be extremely attractive.

However this entire argument is based on myths.

The population growth rate in India is not growing but instead has been slowing for the last few decades. From a high of 2.3 percent per year in the 1970’s and 80’s it is now down to 1.2% per year. At the level of the family the Total Fertility Rate or number of children a woman has in her life has reduced from 5 in the 1970’s to 2.2 in 2015-16. The total wanted fertility is below 2 but women do not receive the contraceptive services that they want. The population growth rate is a function of birth, death and migration. In India, the birth rates are still a little high, but not because women are having more babies but because the number of young couples in India is higher than ever before. And this large number of young couples even when they have fewer babies each, the total adds up. This will come down as the babies born in the heydays of population growth and their children become older. In other words there is not much we can do to reduce their reproductive rate other than provide them with spacing methods. Now understand the various problems that have been attributed to population growth. India was a poor country in 1947 when India became independent, now it is no longer a poor country.

By expert estimates the GDP growth between 1951 and 2011 was over 20 times and food grain output grew by over 4 times while population grew by a little over 3 times in the same period. Clearly the total amount of food or income available per head has grown but poverty seem to be all around us. The TAXAB campaign has highlighted the bad state of roads and infrastructure as a result of overpopulation, highlighting the poor state of infrastructure in cities. This overcrowding of Indian cities is not a result of overpopulation but migration from villages to cities. This migration is often as a result of rural distress, and lack of employment opportunities which is highlighted by the continuing news of farmer suicides from across the country.

The TAXAB campaign also makes reference to pollution in the name of ‘shudh’ and ‘ashudh’ food, water and air. Pollution in India is undeniable, but is overpopulation the cause behind it as the #Bharat4PopulationLaw seems to imply? Pollution is most often contributed by the burning of fossil fuels, either for transportation or for factories or for generating electricity which then powers our air conditioners, or factories. We need to understand that the poor, who are a much larger proportion of the population, require very little fossil fuel generated energy. Their requirements for water too are very little. Research shows that the richer countries and the rich in countries like ours consume 20 – 30 times more energy in their whole lifetimes than the poor. Here if the population of people is to be seen as a problem, it is the fewer rich who pose much more problems for the absolute consumption of resources as well as the contribution to pollution.

 

The overall logic of the #Bharat4PopulationLaw campaign seems to imply that the taxpayers need to be worried because not much has happened through their taxes in the last seventy years. And this is where the campaign organisers have been completely misled. While overcrowding is a fact, it does not indicate a failure of contraceptive related practices among the people. Overall contraceptive usage rates have increased from 13% in the 1970’s to over 56% now. Infant mortality rate, or number of children who die before reaching the age of one year has reduced from over 130 per 1000 children to 41 now.

Overall life expectancy has also increased from less than 40 years at the time of independence to over 64 years now. More people are living, less people are dying, fewer children are being born but more people are crowding to cities where there is inadequate infrastructure, few job opportunities and we see more poor people in our streets.

A population control law is not the solution to the problems that have been indicated by TAXAB. A population control law as we have seen in China will lead to further decline in the number of girls in the country, a problem that our society is already facing. It will lead to reducing opportunities for the poor, and marginalized, including the dalits, as such laws deny benefits to those with more children. Data shows the poor have more children, but not because they want it, but because they don’t receive the appropriate services.

Women bear the disproportionate burden of population control laws, as they bear children and can be faced with repeated abortions or even desertion as men take desperate measures to keep their family size small and qualify for positions for which they can become disqualified. Yes we need changes in policies and the way they are implemented to address the issues that TAXAB has highlighted but the approach is misplaced. . The problem lies not in the population related policies but in economic policies which have not focused adequately on health or education or economic opportunities for the poor.

Yes tax-payers need to rise up and make demands from our government to increase the investment of healthcare so that not only the poor but we all are healthier and more capable, without become penurious due to healthcare costs.

We need to make demands to increase the quality of standards of the government schools so that children educated there are more empowered, and we are all confident enough to send our children to these schools rather than the very expensive private schools that are coming up every day.

Our family planning programme needs to be reoriented towards the needs of younger couples through increased availability of spacing methods. Men need to involved in discussions around family planning.

And last but not the least we need to ensure all young people have adequate knowledge and information about their bodies, and reproductive health which enables them to take decisions that will enable them to live healthy and productive lives.

 

NAMHHR is an  Alliance of  members from 14 states of India, as well as expert advisors working with research, Right to Food, public health, right to medicines and budget accountability.

Dr Abhijit Das, NAMHHR Convenor

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India – More than 500 innocent fishermen killed at sea – NFF approaches UNHCHR for action

Inline image 1

      Mr. M Ilango, Chairperson of National Fisherfolk Forum said the following in the press meet held at the Head Quarters of NFF at Puducherry on Saturday 11-07-2017 at 11.30:-

         Mr. Britjo of Thangachimadam near Rameswaram of Ramnad district, Tamilnadu who was fishing in mechanised boat on 06-03-2017 was shot dead in the middle of the sea and Jerone, another accompanying fisherman was wounded.

The other fishermen of the boat escaped and reached shore and complained about it in the Thanchimadam Police Station.

        This incident shook the whole Tamil Nadu in shock.

         Killing innocent fishermen who were fishing for livelihood and were not involved in any criminal activities was a blatant act of Human Rights violation.

        It was demanded that those who involved in the human rights violation of killing the innocent fisherman should be identified, case filed and befitting punishment shall be given.

         It is the duty of the government to investigate and find out whether the ones who killed the Tamil fisherman is the Sri Lankan navy or terrorist or pirates.

         Since the police force of Tamil Nadu did not take any proper action in this matter, NFF was forced to file a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission on 06-04-2017.

         The Commission which registered a case, looked into the petition on 24-04-2017 and ordered the ministry of external affairs to take up investigation through  proper investigating agency.

         In the order dated 26.04.2017 to MOEA, NHRC demanded that investigation should be completed within 8 weeks and action taken report should be filed to NHRC and to the complianant.

         The period prescribed has ended on 25-06-2017.

         We have not heard from neither NHRC nor the MOEA, the CBI or any such investigative agency.

         The Supreme Court’s adverse observations in the case of EEVFAM v. Union of India, regarding the NHRC being a toothless tiger, may also have endorsed the view of the first Director General(Investigation) of the NHRC who recently said :

    “ Instead of bemoaning its lack of powers, NHRC has to play a more proactive and transformative role for the advancement of human rights in the country ”.

       In this context, We have decided to approach the NHRC, again and if no action taken even after it, we have decided to approach the United Nations Commission  on (UNHCHR) Human Rights at Geneva in switzerland.

      Apart from Britjo, over 500 fishermen were shot dead by the Sri Lankan Navy in the past. We would demand that full fledged investigation should be held on all of them, the ruthless and inhuman human rights violations.

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“On GST rate for physically challenged persons” “Wrong on so many levels”

We, the undersigned, represent key stakeholders of the disability community
across India. We express our utter dismay at the spurious claims made by
the GST Council’s media release of July 4, which has asserted that
imposition of 5% GST on aids and appliances used by disabled persons is a
‘win-win’ situation for all concerned.

The statement declares that the 5% GST rates for these items are
‘concessional’. This is both incorrect and misleading. Pre-GST, barring
cars for “physically handicapped”, all the disability aids and appliances
did not attract any levy.

While these items (that are essential for persons with disabilities,
without which their mobility, education, employment and exercise of their
rights and duties is curtailed), attract a GST of 5%, surprisingly, many
items used for puja are completely exempt. Also exempt are items like
kumkum, bindi, bangles etc. Unpolished diamonds attract a GST of a mere
0.25% and polished diamonds and gold only 3%. Diapers used by certain
categories of the disabled and the elderly are also taxed at 12%. This,
lays bare the priorities of the government.

It also needs to be underlined that while the proposed rates for these
essential items were in the range of 5 to 18%, it was subsequent to the
raising of this issue by the Finance Ministers of Kerala and Tripura that
the rates were brought down to 5% at the June 11 meeting of the GST Council.

However, we regret that despite widespread protests across the country and
the prevailing confusion no revision in rates or clarification was made.
The tweet by Rahul Gandhi forced the government to issue a clarification on
July 4.

In its clarification of July 4, the Council, however, has taken the plea
that the compelling reason for imposing the “concessional rate” of 5% is
for the domestic manufacturer to claim input tax credit for raw material
used in the manufacture of these products.

It needs to be clarified that items like Braille printer, refreshable
Braille display and Braille note-taker, talking watches and clocks, audio
labelling devices, DAISY players, talking thermometer, talking weighing
machine, talking scales, etc. are entirely imported items and did not
attract any taxes earlier.

As for taxes on domestically manufactured items, raw materials like aluminium
extrusions, square tubes and round tubes of aluminium used in the
manufacture of artificial limbs; or many rehabilitation aids were exempt
from the tax regime earlier.

Input tax credit is merely a by-product of the tax channels unification and
weeding out of redundancy and the cascading taxes rife in the previous
system.

What the government’s clarification intentionally misses to mention is that
there is a slab of 0.25% for items like unpolished stones.

If the intent of the government is to protect the domestic industry, as it
seeks to claim, the spiel must be accompanied by concrete steps to help the
Indian manufacturers, build capacity by way of a technology incubator and
extend existing indigenous manufacturers’ scattered production centres into
a nation-wide network of assistive device distribution, customisation and
servicing.

If input tax credit cannot be applied for nil duty goods, we demand these
items be given full input tax credit even if they pay 0 GST. All this
requires is a net transfer from the government to offset the calculated
input tax amount. Ideally, as a sector where the end consumer should not be
additionally burdened, the tax rates of these products must be restored to
the earlier exempt status without forgoing benefits of tax already paid
across the value chain.

NOTE : Linked version and supporting appendices available at
www.bit.ly/whytaxdisability

<http://bit.ly/whytaxdisability>

ENDORSEMENTS (AS OF 10 JULY 2017)

Amba Salelkar, Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice

Bhargav Sundaram, Callidai Motors Works (Accessibility Equipment)

Delhi Viklang Adhikar Manch

Differently-Abled Welfare Federation, Kerala

Dipendra Minocha, DAISY Forum of India

Prof T.M.N. Deepak, December 3rd Movement

Gujarat Viklang Adhikar Manch

Haryana Viklang Adhikar Manch

Jharkhand Viklang Morcha

Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota

Dr. Janaki V, Social Scientist & Researcher

Lakshadweep Disabled Association

Meenakshi B, Equals Centre for Promotion of Social Justice

Mohammed Asif Iqbal, Consultant

Muralidharan, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD)

National Association of the Blind, Delhi

Nipun Malhotra, Nipman Foundation

Pavan Muntha, Swaadhikar

Platform for Rights of Disabled, Odisha

K. Raghuraman, Karna Vidya Foundation (KYF)

Rajiv Rajan, Ektha

Saksham, Delhi

Dr. Satendra Singh, Infinite Ability, University College of Medical
Sciences

Shankar S, Agate Infotek

Smitha S, Disability Legislative Unit (DLU) South, Vidya Sagar

Adv. Subhash Chandra Vashishth, Centre for Accessibility in Built
Environment (CABE, India).

Tamilnadu Assn for the Rights of All Types of Differently-Abled & Caregivers

Tripura Rajya Prathibandi Sammelani

Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandhi Sammelani, West Bengal

Prof V.S. Sunder, Disability Rights Alliance

Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Disability Rights Alliance

Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh

Vikalangula Hakkula Jathiya Vedika, Telangana

Wheelchair Trust of India

Contact Nos:

1.

V. Muralidharan, NPRD : +919868768543
2.

TMN Deepak, D3M : +919840646953
3.

Vaishnavi Jayakumar, DRA : +919003088388
4.

Dr. Satendra Singh, Infinite Ability : +919971782076

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