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Archives for : September2017

India – 98 MLAs, 7 MPs under probe for manifold rise in wealth, SC told

 

98 MLAs, 7 MPs under probe for manifold rise in wealth, SC told
File photo for representation only.

Satya Prakash

TNS

 

As many as 98 MLAs and seven Lok Sabha MPs — whose assets witnessed manifold increase in a short span of time — are under investigation, the Central Board of Direct Taxes told the Supreme Court on Monday. In an affidavit filed in the top court on disproportionate assets of elected politicians, CBDT said preliminary assessment of assets of another 42 MLAs was being examined. 

 

The petitioner had alleged substantial increase in assets of 26 Lok Sabha MPs, 11 Rajya Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs as reflected in election affidavits. Of the 257 MLAs, the CBDT said, 98 MLAs were found to have substantially increased assets and were being further probed.The Income Tax Department will further investigate assets of seven of 26 Lok Sabha MPs who had huge increase in assets, CBDT said, adding it has shared the probe status and result with regard to elected representatives with the Election Commission.No further probe has been taken up against any Rajya Sabha MP. 

 

The CDBT is expected to submit the names of lawmakers under probe in a sealed cover on Tuesday to the top court which is seized of a PIL filed by Lok Prahari, an NGO, on disclosure of sources of income by the candidates when they file nomination for elections. The CBDT affidavit comes five days after a Bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar had asked the Centre to furnish the details of the probe against lawmakers whose income shot up manifold within a short span of time. 

The Bench had expressed strong displeasure over the government not sharing with it details of a probe being conducted by CBDT against politicians and said the agency must place a fresh affidavit before it by 10.30 am on September 12. “The affidavit you have filed is not even worth the piece of paper it’s written on…When an affidavit was placed before this court, all information about any inquiry going on should be placed,” it had said.“The information in CBDT affidavit is not complete. Is this the attitude of the Government of India? What have you done till now?” the Bench had asked. 

According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) that works for electoral reforms, assets of four current Lok Sabha MPs have increased by 12 times while 22 others declared five-fold increase in their assets.A newly-elected Rajya Sabha MP declared an asset growth of over 21 times since his last affidavit. Seven other newly-elected Rajya Sabha MPs have declared two-fold asset increase, ADR — an intervenor in the case – said. 

While filing their nomination papers, candidates were disclosing their assets, assets of their spouse, children and other dependents, but they do not reveal the sources of income, SN Shukla of Lok Prahari contended.The petitioner wants inclusion of a column in the nomination form to list details of a candidate’s sources of income. 

 

During the last hearing, the Centre’s counsel had asserted that the government was all for electoral reforms, saying, “The Swachh Bharat (Abhiyan) is not only about cleaning of garbage…it’s also about free and fair election…cleaning of the electoral system.”But the Bench was not impressed. “The government is saying they are not averse to some reform.

Necessary information should be there on record (in the court).” The Election Commission has supported the NGO’s plea, saying disclosure of sources of income was necessary for “healthier democracy.”Under the current law, a candidate is required to disclose details of assets and liabilities for self, spouse and three dependents in Form 26 at the time of filing of nomination paper but not the source of income. 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/98-mlas-7-mps-under-probe-for-manifold-rise-in-wealth-sc-told/465457.html

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Dalit author – Kancha Ilaiah fears he may be killed like Gauri Lankesh

Facing threat calls over book on Arya Vysyas, Dalit rights writer Kancha Ilaiah files police complaint

Image Credit: Supplied
Kancha illaiah
Arya Vysya have taken objection to the title of ‘Social Smugglers’, and launched protests across the Telugu states.

Writer, activist and social scientist Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd complained to the Osmania University police on Monday that he has been receiving threatening phone calls since Sunday.

Some of the callers have threatened to cut off his tongue, Kancha Ilaiah alleged.

Trouble began for the social scientist after a portion of his book Post Hindu India was translated into Telugu and published under the title Samajika Smugglerlu – Komatollu (Social Smugglers – Vysyas) by Boomi Publications.

Arya Vysya associations have taken offence to the title and content of the book, which they say is derogatory towards their caste. Representatives of these associations have condemned the book on television news channels, and have launched protests at various places across the Telugu states.

Kacham Satyanarayana, Convenor of the Telangana Arya Vysya Chaitanya Vedika, whose name also features in the complaint by Kancha Ilaiah, said, “Kancha Ilaiah is trying to trigger caste tensions in the state. Who is he to talk about us? From Gandhi to Potti Sri Ramulu, Vysyas have done a lot for this society.”

According to Station House Officer V Ashok Reddy of the Osmania University police station, a case of criminal intimidation has been registered based on Kancha Ilaiah’s complaint, and investigations into the case are ongoing.

One of the main objections to the book has been the term ‘Social Smugglers’. However, Kancha Ilaiah told NTV that his detractors had misunderstood the term and the intent of the book.

“It is a well-researched book. I wrote it highlighting economic conditions from the Gupta period to contemporary times. Social smuggling is not a derogatory word like Smuggling. It is taken out of context. I wrote it to highlight the social and economic exploitation that has been practiced according to the Manusmriti,” Kancha Ilaiah said. He said that the term social smuggling referred to the historical monopoly of resources by certain communities.

Ilaiah also said that the book is aimed at social reformation and is an appeal to Vysyas to follow in the footsteps of Gandhi, to break down the practice of untouchability

“While these are constitutional rights, it doesn’t happen in practice. Since Vysyas own and manage all the trade and business in the country, even in the Telugu states, they should partake in this social reformation,” Kancha Ilaiah added.

Ilaiah has also received the support of Dalit writers and academicians, who have hit out at the Arya Vysya associations as resenting a Dalit scholar interpreting their history.

Kendriya Sahitya Academy recipient Pasunoori Ravinder said that the Arya Vysya associations are unable to “digest a shepherd writing a counter history”.

Dalit scholar and writer Jilukara Srinivas, said, “This is nothing but the crushing of history. They should understand the sociology behind it, or should not speak otherwise.”

He added, “This shows that democratic voices being silenced and extremism is being backed. If they want to express their dissent, they can write books countering Ilaiah’s argument. But it is criminal to say, ‘we will kill him or slit his tongue’.”

http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/facing-threat-calls-over-book-arya-vysyas-dalit-writer-kancha-ilaiah-files-police-complaint

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BJP slaps legal notice against historian Ramchandra Guha for linking Gauri Lankesh murder to Sangh Parivar

Noted historian Ramchandra Guha was today slapped with a legal notice by the Karnataka BJP over his comments in which he said that the Sangh Parivar was likely involved in the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

Ramchandra Guha

HIGHLIGHTS
1Karnataka BJP’s youth wing sends legal notice to historian Ramchandra Guha.
2Notice sent over Guha’s comments linking the Sangh Parivar to Gauri Lankesh’s murder.
3Notice demands that Guha immediately apologise.

The Bharatiya Janata Party‘s Karnataka youth wing today slapped a legal notice against noted historian Ramchandra Guha over comments the latter made in the aftermath of the murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh.

A day after Lankesh was shot dead at her Bengaluru home, Ram Guha seemingly blamed the Sangh Parivar for the scribe’s murder.
“It is very likely that her [Gauri Lankesh’s] murderers came from the same Sangh Parivar from which the murderers of [Govind] Pansare, [Narendra] Dabholkar and [MM] Kalburgi came,” Guha had said, referring to the murders of rationalists in which elements of the right-wing are suspected to be involved.

“The ruling dispensation in Delhi has created a climate of hate and intolerance,” Guha had gone on to say.
The Karnataka BJP’s youth wing has taken offence to Guha’s comments and in its legal notice that Guha immediately apologise.
In the notice, a copy of which is with IndiaToday.in, Karunakar Khasale, state secretary of BJP Yuva Morcha, Karnataka, accuses Guha of making “false” and “baseless allegations” that are “calculated to tarnish the image and reputation of” the RSS and the BJP.

“Your deliberate, false and calculated statement against our client’s organisation has caused great anguish in the minds thousands of its members and sympathisers,” the notice reads. “your baseless utterances are also calculated to influence and mislead the on-going investigations of the said incidents. This amounts to illegal interference in the course of justice and is also a grave offence.”
The notice demands that Guha immediately issue an apology to the BJP and the RSS for “making such defamatory, baseless and false allegations”. Guha has been asked to refrain from making similar statements.
“If you fail to comply with the aforesaid instructions, our client… would be constrained to initiate civil and criminal prosecution against you, at your sole costs and consequences,” the notice ends.

LANKESH MURDER

Lankesh, a noted critic of the extreme right-wing and the editor of a Kannada weekly, was shot dead outside her Bengaluru home on September 5. Lankesh was killed by bike-borne, helmet-wearing assailants in an incident that bore stark resemblance to a hit job.
Her murder sparked a firestorm of criticism, most of it directed at the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and other associated groups. Lankesh’s ideological differences with the right led many to allege that extreme Hindutva forces may have been behind the killing.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was among those who made the connection. “Anybody who speaks against the ideology of the BJP, against the ideology of the RSS is pressured, beaten, attacked and even killed,” Gandhi had said a day after Lankesh was killed. The idea is that there should only be once voice in the country.” Gandhi’s comments were sharply criticised by the BJP.
6 Sep
Office of RG ✔ @OfficeOfRG
Spoke to the CM of Karnataka and mentioned that it’s very important that people who have murdered Gauri Lankesh are caught and punished
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Office of RG ✔ @OfficeOfRG
Anybody who speaks against the RSS/BJP is attacked &even killed. They want to impose only one ideology which is against the nature of India
1:16 PM – Sep 6, 2017
1,769 1,769 Replies 2,528 2,528 Retweets 5,446 5,446 likes

YOUTUBE

 

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Saffron buses, Hinduised names: Here’s how Yogi plans to change UP’s landscape

(Arya Sharma)

There’s no stopping the Uttar Pradesh government from renaming important places.

Having renamed Mughal Sarai railway station and the Indian Air Force’s airport at Agra after party ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Thursday announced that the air force’s airport at Chakeri would be named after freedom-fighter and journalist Ganesh Shankar Vidyarthi.

 

 

Because Panki, known for its 660 megawatt power plant and a 1, 46, 385 KL storage plant of the IOC Limited, also has a Hanuman temple, the chief minister said the railway station here would henceforth be known as Panki Dham.

Before becoming the chief minister he had given Hindu names to some markets and localities in Gorakhpur, replacing their original Muslim names. He is also not averse to the renaming of Taj Mahal to Tejo Mahalay after a debate.

Asked if in his zeal to rechristen landmarks, the chief minister would also name Lucknow as Lakhanpuri after Lord Ram’s younger sibling Laxman, a BJP spokesman laughed and said he won’t be able to comment on that. Nor would he say anything on whether Adityanath will stop changing names whimsically.

Also, as part of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s saffronisation agenda, the Uttar Pradesh Transport Corporation would soon get a fleet of saffron-hued buses.

Not to be left behind, the state power corporation planned to paint electric poles ‘bhagwa’, the colour of the ruling party’s flag as well as Mahant Adityanath’s attire.

The fleet of 50 saffron buses was being readied at the UPSRTC workshop in Kanpur would cost Rs 24 lakh each and was expected to roll out on September 25.

The saffron and white touch was being given to the buses as part of Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s birth centenary celebrations and would be called Antyoday buses. They will be compatible with Euro IV emission norms.

After the saffron-white buses came the announcement by Alok Kumar, Principal Secretary, Energy, that electricity poles in the state would be painted saffron. The “colour coding”, he said, would be done at the colonies where power connections have been regularised.

The state has about 30000 unauthorised colonies, 350 of them being in Lucknow, which survive on illegal connections and where legal power has to be provided to prevent power theft and increase revenue. This drive was aimed at realising the Central government’s plan of “Power for All”, said an official of the UP Power Corporation.

Poles in colonies with legitimate connections won’t be changed, except in unelectrified areas where, under the state government’s Sugam Sanyojan Yojna, the corporation would bear the cost of poles if three consumers applied for it. These poles would also be painted saffron.

While the UPPCL has taken up the responsibility of colouring of electric poles in colonies with regularised connections, in Agra the municipal corporation has decided to give all the street light poles the distinctive saffron coating.

The Agra civic body decided to paint the 38,000 street light poles for a different reason. The poles which will be numbered will also bear the ward number to make it easy to for officials to attend to complaints, an official was reported to have said.

Colouring each pole would cost Rs 1,345 and the tendering was underway. The process was expected to begin this month.

Uttar Pradesh was not alone in painting utilities saffron. In Gujarat, the government has ordered bus stops to be painted in saffron. Over two dozen bus stops have been painted in saffron in Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar inviting criticism from the Congress.

Last year Maharashtra Transport Corporation also decided to acquire saffron and white coloured buses for its fleet.

All the political parties in UP have, however, used colour coding to stay in the minds of the people. Samajwadi Party’s red and green and Bahujan Samaj Party’s blue were ubiquitous colours when these parties were in power.

A Samajwadi Party spokesman hoped that this colour scheme won’t be extended to houses being built under the prime minister’s scheme as the BJP appeared to aggressively pursue its Hindutva agenda.

https://www.thequint.com/

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When bullets silenced a voice of independent journalism

Killing a Mockingbird
Gauri Lankesh’s was a rare strident voice that relentlessly asked uncomfortable questions and looked communalism in the face
The first time I met Gauri Lankesh after I be came a journalist, we fought. Bitterly. We were a group of journalists at the Bangalore Press Club, an election had just concluded, and we were talking about voting. I said I did not vote, and that I had the right not to vote. Gauri disagreed vehemently, saying it was the basic duty of every citizen to vote and that those who do not had no right to complain. Now, when Gauri argued, she could be very vocal and brusque, to a de gree that would leave her opponent furious.As I was that day.In those days, Gauri was living in Delhi. She returned to Bengaluru in 2000 when her father P Lankesh died. Lankesh was a legendary figure, in Kannada literature and outside. A lec turer of English literature in Bangalore University, he had quit in 1980 to launch Lankesh Patrike, an independent, weekly tabloid, before which the government of the day quailed. When he died suddenly -after putting the edition to bed the previous night -the publication’s future was doubtful, considering that none of his three children, including Gauri, seemed likely heirs to his journalistic legacy. But persuaded by the weekly’s publisher, Gauri took over the job, though she never sat in her father’s chair at the office.

She Fought the Good Fight

Despite inheriting the mantle of her illustrious father, many of us were unsure about what her politics would be. I bracketed her as another convent-educated member of the elite, a believer in the very system a group of us journalists were opposed to. But Gauri was to prove me wrong.And in the process, become more family than friend.

As a member of the Komu Souhar da Vedike (Forum for Communal Harmony) set up by civil society members in Karnataka, she was active in protesting the right wing’s attempts at communalisation in Karnataka. That was the time when the Bajrang Dal was laying claim to Baba Budangiri, a Sufi dargah near Chikmagalur, and declaring it the Ayod hya of the south. In November 2003, she, along with Girish Karnad and many others, defied ban orders in Chikmagalur and courted arrest.

But the spark that lit the activist fire in her was a controversial reporting assignment we tackled together, interviewing Naxals in the forests of Karnataka.From the reportage and the ensuing controversy, Gauri gained the tag of “Naxal sympathiser“ and lost many friends who were cautious about associating with someone the state had its eye on. Undeterred, she plunged into activism wholeheartedly but always as someone who was firmly against resorting to violence.

The decision to report extensively on the Naxals had another, far worse fallout for Gauri. She lost her father’s paper, after her brother Indrajit accused her of becoming a mouthpiece of the Maoists and forced her out of its editorship. Gauri was devastated but with the support of her sister, filmmaker Kavitha Lankesh, and numerous friends, she launched Gauri Lankesh Patrike on March 8, 2005, which would have been her father’s 70th birthday. The paper she edited was distinct from her father’s. While Lankesh Patrike had its share of controversial stories, its focus was on mainstream politics and had the literary tone of P Lankesh. Gauri Lankesh Patrike had no qualms about adopting a much more strident, vocal tone, and tackled communalism head-on, edition after edition. There was little distinction between her activism and journalism, something she was both admired and criticised for. For Gauri, it was no contradiction. To give you an idea of the politics of the paper, the last 10 editions either had cover stories or detailed reports on the saffronisation of India and the dangers it posed.

Bringing out an independent paper without advertisements, outside the ambit of the corporate media, was never easy. More so, when it was a paper that never shied away from asking uncomfortable questions. There were weeks when funds were so scarce that it was doubtful whether the next issue of Gauri Lankesh Patrike would come out. Somehow, it always did, even if it meant digging into personal savings.

Once the edition was put to bed on Wednesday evening, we would gather at her office for cigarettes, Khodays, songs and conversation which went on late into the night. Plans would be made for the next trip, some of which happened, and many which did not. Gauri was always game for the next adventure. But only after her deadline.

Over time, some of us chose safer, more comfortable options but Gauri kept fighting the good fight. The line that the paper took earned its editor many brickbats but Gauri would address these, just as she would any appreciation. Engagement was important, she believed, even if it meant replying to hate mail.

We told her, time and again, to be careful, to move closer to the city. But she would dismiss our fears with a “Don’t talk like a man“ (ie “Don’t be patronising“). The closest her well-wishers got was to convince her to install CCTV cameras in the porch of her house.

When those bullets were fired on Monday night, they were aimed not just at Gauri but at that rare voice called independent journalism. Dissent was never welcome but, today, it is in danger of being wiped out.

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?EID=31815&dt=20170910

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Renuka Shahane on Ryan International School Murder:-Time for Us Humans to be Destroyed

The murder of a Class 2 student at Ryan International School in Gurugram has sent shockwaves across the country. The case must have forced every parent to evaluate whether their child’s school is capable of keeping their little ones safe till the time they reach home.

In a power-packed Facebook post, actor Renuka Shahane asks this question of each of us. In the emotional post, the actor also questioned the capability of the “international” schools that charge exorbitant fees to protect the children who walk through its gates.

Image result for renuka shahane

Renuka Shahne on Facebook

Totally shocked, horrified, dismayed by the brutal murder of a seven year old child at the Ryan International School, Gurugram & a rape of a three year old by a peon in another school in the national capital.
How do we make things safe for our kids? Parents drop their kids to school with the trust that our kids will be safe, protected within these walls of learning. But incident after incident points to laxity about the security of our kids despite the high fees in many “International” schools.
In the case of the Gurugram murder there were so many breaches of security.
1) That the bus conductor or driver were allowed to use the same washroom as the kids.
2) The accused was allowed to carry a knife inside the school.
3) There was no female attendant from the school outside the washroom.
4) When the child screamed there was no one to help immediately.
5) The school management tried to cover up the crime
6) There was a huge breach in the school wall; no doubt a huge risk to the security of the school
All these red flags beg the question whether the trustees, management & Principal of this school should be trusted with the running of a school at all!
Today I read that the accused in the case was a driver at another school just a few metres away from this one and was kicked out after complaints by parents about misdemeanors with their kids. That school suspended his services but refused to make a police complaint. Their refusal to make a complaint must have emboldened the accused.
Not complaining emboldens serial sexual offenders & jeopardizes the lives of innocent children in the perpetrator’s next job!
All of us parents should come together to demand a list of criminals with past cases of misdemeanors against kids circulated in each & every school of our country, both Govt & Private, so that no sexual predator bus driver, conductor, attendant, peon, coach, teacher, principal or trustee with a criminal complaint about child physical or sexual abuse comes within a mile of a job dealing with kids.
This list should also be put up on the site of the Ministry of Human Resource Development as well as the Education Dept sites of each and every State so that parents & schools have access to the list.
We have to stop making it so easy for sexual predators to get away with crimes.
We have to make the Trustees of this school accountable for criminal neglect in playing with safety of the children enrolled in their school.
The school Principal is suspended but what about the Trustees or Chairperson?
Unless a very strong case is made out against them too other schools will not take this issue seriously.
A fervent appeal to all schools; please do not cut corners while appointing staff or bus service. Sexual abuse scars children for ever and a murder as foul as the innocent 7 year old’s in Gurugram leaves the parents with a life full of pain & utter devastation!
Meanwhile after Gorakhpur, 55 infants die in Nashik over a period of a month because of a lack of infrastructure😓😔😡
Sometimes I just feel it’s time for us humans to be destroyed.

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Australian MP gives harrowing speech about finding husband’s child pornography  

Rachel Carling-Jenkins, a member of Victoria’s state parliament, said she discovered the extensive collection in their family home last year.

Her husband was convicted after Dr Carling-Jenkins and her son went to police.

She said the discovery had turned her life upside down.

Australian politician Rachel Carling-Jenkins

An Australian MP has described her anguish at discovering her husband’s collection of child pornography in a harrowing speech to state parliament.

Pale and visibly upset, Rachel Carling-Jenkins read a statement to Victorian parliament describing the psychological impact after she and her son discovered Gary Jenkins’ hidden collection of illegal photos and videos in February.

“I personally viewed deeply distressing images that have caused me immediate and ongoing anguish,” she said.

“The faces of many [little girls] are etched in my memory for eternity and I pray the police are able to identify and rescue as many of these poor helpless and vulnerable victims as soon as possible.

“I find myself now unconsciously searching the faces of little girls on the streets, distressed when a face triggers a memory of a photo or a video of a little girl that I glimpsed in his collection.

“These little girls have lost their innocence their childhood and their control over their destiny.”

Dr Carling-Jenkins said the discovery immediately ended the marriage and she reported her now estranged husband to police.

The faces of many little girls are etched in my memory for eternity and I pray the police are able to identify and rescue as many of these poor helpless and vulnerable victims as soon as possibleRachel Carling-Jenkins

In March he was sentenced to four months in prison for one count of knowingly possessing child pornography, although Dr Carling-Jenkins told Parliament it was “an extensive collection”.

“I do not believe a sentence of a few months and inclusion on the sex offenders register was adequate,” she said.

Dr Carling-Jenkins said her husband had since refused to sign divorce papers and a property settlement, leaving her and her son in insecure accommodation.

She said he had also continued to contact their son since his conviction and she considered his behaviour as financial and psychological abuse.

Dr Carling-Jenkins was hugged by MPs on both sides of the house after speaking.

Speaking to media outside Parliament, Dr Carling-Jenkins revealed some members of the public had criticised her for not ‘standing beside her husband’.

“This is an attitude in society that, no matter what, a wife should not stand up and call her husband out,” she said.

“I have no regrets, as a mother or a wife, in reporting or exposing this dreadful crime, which occurred in the privacy of my home.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-41183102

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Open letter to Pune scientist who complained against cook for ‘posing’ as Brahmin

You need a scientific temperament – one that gives you critical observation, makes you question things and not blindly accept ideas and notions.

MAITHREYI KARNOOR

You poor woman. Poor, poor woman. How you have been misled into claiming superiority over other women by the same logic that deems you an inferior being. Let me explain a few things to you.

One doesn’t become a scientist by simply filling one’s head with a great amount of objective information. You need a “scientific temperament” – one that gives you critical observation, makes you question things and not blindly accept ideas and notions without evidence or proof of their correctness.

I don’t mean to say all scientists must be atheists (although that would be the completion of science’s project). There are several renowned practitioners of science who adhere to some form of faith or the other. But the real intellectuals among them are the ones who accept that there are things beyond human understanding that cannot be concretely known in the three-dimensional space we inhabit and that all metaphysical speculation is just that – speculation, which their scientific temperament will not accept as truth.

But still, as humans who must deal with the bewildering irresolvability of the ideas of life and death – and suffering and loss and hardships, they feel it is a good idea to abandon the need of understanding/analysing these phenomena and bundle it all up and place it in the hands of a “higher being” and go about their lives in as compassionate ways as possible in the hope that it will come back to them. The hierarchical arrangement of people in castes determined by divine ordination of birth does not feature in their faith. May their tribe grow.

water-_091017025248.jpgA still from Deepa Mehta’s film Water.

You, unfortunately, are not among them. You are, with all your fancy degrees, plain stupid. Stupid, not simply because of your blind acceptance of fairytales as the omnipotent truth, but because you have bought into the doctrine of your own subordination as a woman. You are a subject of hegemony who would have been forgiven it if not for your claim to science.

I’m not a sociologist critiquing the caste system dryly. I’m someone who was born into a Brahmin household just like you, but in spite of not having read as much science as you have, have however developed a reasonably critical perspective for the things I see happening around me. There are many of us like that – you are welcome to join the club after you have read through this letter. It’s free. All we demand is free thought.

The simple, fundamental truth is this: we women have no claim to Brahmin-hood. It is a system by the men and for the men that helps them control us. It doesn’t take more than a little scratch on the surface to see it. Do we get the sacred thread? No. Our husbands get three more strands on our behalf when we marry them – as our keepers.

When we bleed as part of menstruation or childbirth, we are untouchable – we are “shudra”. And we have to go through a humiliating process of cleansing ourselves before we are accepted “inside”. We are nothing but vehicles to carry forward the “purity” of the men.

Our sexuality is linked and limited to our responsibility of facilitating one man – only one each, mind you – procreate. We are “given away” by our parents to another family whose possession we become. If the man kicks the bucket, it’s the end of our claim to any semblance of rights: our right to dress and look good, our right to eat well, our right to desires and feelings.

A widow becomes a “pure woman”. One who is stripped of all happiness. But at the same time, she is considered a bad omen and kept away from all auspicious spaces. They justify it with nonsensical claims that the soul of the dear departed husband suffers so many thousands of years in hell for every drop of water shed from the widow’s hair when she washes it – so off with her tresses. Don’t you see how it is? Your life’s sole purpose is to bear that man’s children – and when you can’t, your life is over… you simply wait to die.

Not too long ago, young girls were widowed even before they hit puberty, and deprivation and suffering were the only “joys” allowed to them throughout their lives. I’m sure you’ll find such examples in your own family only a few generations ago. I have heard that the one of my great-grandfather’s sisters was such a child-widow. And although they treated her with kindness, there was no question of changing her situation.

And what about widowed men? They can go on to marry again soon after they are cleansed of the pollution of the wife’s death. There is no question of deprivation and suffering for them.

They can also have as many mistresses as they can afford – of any caste. The children born of these relationships are not Brahmin of course – because it takes the pure vessel that you are to bear their pure genes. And if a woman does the mistake of cohabiting with a man of another caste? Out-casting would be the least of her punishments.

Now, don’t you see how weak and non-absolute your claim to your caste is?

For many women of my generation, the ball towards freedom was set rolling by our mothers and grandmothers. In my case, one of my great-grandmothers refused to don the attire of a widow when she lost her husband in her 30s. “My face looks bare without the “kunku”,” she said and refused to erase it. She was boycotted by many for this act of rebellion and she suffered for it – but she stood firm. That must have led to the onset of my puberty not being celebrated with “aarti” – the officiating of the woman as a birthing machine; her proper identity – and I am immensely grateful to my great grandmother for having initiated the process to mark a woman’s individual identity.

While that is the kind of cultural progress we make through personal histories, let’s not forget that the social and legal rights we enjoy are thanks to a Dalit man’s crusade against the horrors of our caste; the rights of property and divorce and remarriage (to own things, to leave a horrid man, to seek and claim love again after having lost it).

These things did not exist for us before the existence of the modern republic that is our country. Now, see how silly and hypocritical it makes you look to want to straddle both these spaces – a modern one with rights (under whose claim you can even go to the police) and a mythic world of turtles and elephants holding the world up where women are the property of one man or the other.

I’m sure you are not an ardent follower of rigid customs (what with going out to work and not having the time to drape a “nav-ari saree” and all that). In the world we live in, we are afforded the choice of compromise – we give up on certain practices and continue with certain others.

Just think about where this freedom to make those choices comes from.

I have realised that the only way to reconcile our existence as women born in Brahmin families is to be extremely critical of the practices that reaffirm our inferiority – to reject them and to subvert the system. You needn’t be a great revolutionary to do that. You needn’t marry a non-Brahmin, or eat meat (although that would be the completion of reason’s project).

You can do that from within the comfort of your heteronormative life and your no-onion-no-garlic lacto-vegetarian kitchen (I mean those kadabus-dripping ghee are to die for, aren’t they?). All you must do is recognise your privileges as that, and give up your claim to superiority.

It doesn’t take a scientist to see that one’s rights are tied with the rights of others – it is a fine balance.

Remember, dear lady, the god who you claim is desecrated by another woman, was never yours to begin with.

http://www.dailyo.in/voices/indian-scientist-caste-prejudice-brahmin-religion-science/story/1/19433.html

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India – Concerned Citizens Call For Independent Audit of #Aadhaar Database


In a shocking security breach of Aadhaar, India’s biometric ID project for residents, the police have arrested 10 men in Uttar Pradesh in North India for successfully creating fake biometrics identities in the Aadhaar database, by cloning fingerprints.

On September 11, the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force caught a 10-member gang who have been impersonating the credentials of certified Aadhaar operators both by faking the operators’ fingerprints using photopolymer resin, and by illegally cracking open enrolment software of the Unique Identification Authority of India(UIDAI).

As per news reports, the criminal gang lifted the fingerprints of the operators sub-contracted by the UIDAI, printing the fingerprints on a butter paper. Additionally, they illegally used a software vulnerability to bypass the iris authentication check established by the government. Such a breach would allow any one to send enrolment packets into the Central Identities Data Repository, where all biometrics and demographics data of Indian residents are stored.

News reports indicate the revenue model of this latest theft was abased on selling kits of software, and fingerprints at Rs 5,000 each, which allowed people to run fake enrollment agencies.

The police team claimed in raids, they found “38 cloned fingerprints on paper, 46 cloned fingerprints made of a chemical, 12 mobile phones, two Aadhaar finger scanners, two retina scanners, eight rubber stamps, 18 Aadhaar cards”, according to an Indian Express report. The investigation is still on, and Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force have said the network operating the latest Aadhaar scam may extend to several states.

Till two weeks back, the UIDAI and the central government have been.

We demand that the UIDAI:
  • Immediately halt coerced enrolment, linking of services and exisiting IDs to Aadhaar; withdraw of all notifications issues under section 7 of Aadhaar Act mandating Aadhaar for essential services
  • Independent audit of Aadhaar database, by a public agency with public representation 
  • That UIDAI immediately notify and compensate unsuspecting residents whose personal biometrics data may have been compromised at these fake enrolment centers
  • UIDAI make public the records of when did the details of the Uttar Pradesh STF police investigation and raids first come to light, for how long and in how many states have such security breaches been found so far
  • UIDAI must explain to Standing Committee on Home Affairs how many instances of breach / attempt to breach of Aadhaar database has been notified to UIDAI and what has been the action taken by UIDAI in all such cases?


What this latest beach means

The latest incident is a shocking breach of public trust. The government claims Aadhaar is more foolproof than any exisitng Proof of Identity and Proof of Address documents because it is accompanied by biometrics.

As per the UIDAI, only authorised agents can do enrolment, and all enrolment must be validated by the operator’s finger print and iris along, with their Aadhaar number. This breach shows a poor process of approving who could be doing the enrolments as unaudited and unverified enrolments entered the CIDR central database. This attack shows the government’s claims to be false and makes approved enrollments in the CIDR made via these compromised operator accounts worthless.

In this latest security breach, the criminal gang had successfully cracked open the enrollment software. Official statements and news reports on silent on how this was done. The result was that they were able to send enrolments into CIDR by impersonating the credentials of certified operators.

The latest incident shows the UIDAI is unable to guarantee the veracity of data in the Aadhaar repository. It has failed to guarantee the security of residents’ identity information, including core biometrics which cannot be replaced. Experts have also warned that if a fingerprint can be faked on a high resolution scanner used during enrolment, it can definitely be faked on the low resolution scanners used during authentication.

Aadhaar-based biometric scams, identity theft are now a real risk for the poor, especially those with less access to digital literacy.

Lack of legal remedies to citizens
Despite security vulnerabilities, the government of India is continuing pushing residents, including minors and elderly who are especially vulnerable, to enroll into the Aadhaar database. There is a continuous push to enroll along with a threat of cutting off citizens from essential services of food, coking gas, pensions, scholarships, disability aid, and now the threat of cutting off access to bank services and mobile connections, unless they submit their biometrics and link every existing ID to the Aadhaar database.

There is also a worrying absence of legal remedies to residents if their personal data being made insecure by the UIDAI.

Section 47(1) of the Aadhaar Act says: “No court shall take cognizance of any offence punishable under this Act, save on a complaint made by the Authority or any officer or person authorised by it.”
Thus, UIDAI is responsible for both maintaining the security and confidentiality of identity information and authentication records, as well as for approaching a court in case of a security breach – which is a conflict of interest. There is no provision in the law for residents to get mandatory notifications from UIDAI, if their data is breached.

Worryingly, this is not the first time such a breach has been detected. Four years back, in 2012, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) staff had enrolled 30,000 people fraudulently in Hyderabad.

There is fraud not only at the enrolment stage, but also at the authentication stages leading to identity fraud.

Earlier this year, students at a technology institute in Mumbai demonstrated how easy fingerprints cloning is when they used it to falsify attendance.

Despite warnings from security experts over the years and petitioners approaching the Supreme court that biometrics is an insecure, non-censual, and broken technology, and that biometrics can be easily replicated and cloned using even fevicol and wax, and that such breaches have occurred in other countries, the both the Congress and the BJP government have pushed the residents of India to submit their biometrics into an insecure database.

This coercion must stop, and both the UIDAI and other central agencies mandating Aadhaar must be held to the highest standards of accountability for risking citizens’ personal data into an insecure and compromised database.

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Accused of hate tweets against Gauri Lankesh, unrepentant

Nikhil Dadhich, Ashish Mishra:

The BJP responded to outrage over the PM following Twitter accounts spewing bile against slain journalist Gauri Lankesh, but the trolls are unrepentant.

I

While many protests were organised against the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, Twitter users who put out offensive tweets against Lankesh remain unrepentant.
While many protests were organised against the murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh, Twitter users who put out offensive tweets against Lankesh remain unrepentant. (AFP)

“A bitch died a dog’s death and now all the puppies are wailing in the same tune,” said the tweet in Hindi, adding to the nationwide revulsion in the aftermath of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh’s murder.

But Nikhil Dadhich, the man behind the controversial tweet who is followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the micro-blogging site, is unfazed by the uproar he has triggered. “A doggie had died in my street that day, so I wrote the tweet in reference to that,” the 38-year-old Surat-based textile trader told HT.

A screenshot of Nikhil Dadhich’s tweet against Lankesh.

A torrent of hate tweets that seemed to condone Lankesh’s killing in Bengaluru by unknown assailants on Tuesday night is now a matter of intense debate. The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi follows Dadhich and three others spewing ‘hatred’ on Twitter has fuelled the row further. Modi, incidentally, follows 1,779 people on Twitter.

But like Dadhich who came to Gujarat from his native Rajasthan some 15 years ago to set up a business, Ashish Mishra is unrepentant. Also followed by Modi, Pune-based Mishra had tweeted shortly after Lankesh’s killing : ’Jaisai Karni, Vaisi Bharni (as you sow, so shall you reap). “I didn’t say anything wrong. She (Lankesh) was with the anti-nationals of JNU, with the azadi gang of Kashmir,” the computer science graduate from IIT Bombay insisted.

Stung by the uproar the tweets sparked, the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) has said the prime minister followed a cross-section of people on Twitter and that his ‘following’ handles did not mean a character certificate for those being followed.

A screenshot of Ashish Mishra’s tweet against Gauri Lankesh.

But Dadhich and Mishra are thrilled to be followed by the prime minister. Both are also die-hard Modi fans. “I was inspired by Modi who was very active on social media. I wanted to tell people about how he was working for the development of Gujarat,” said Dadhich who was followed by the prime minister in 2015. He said the prime minister did nothing wrong in following him. “He can’t check everyone’s background before following them. Is Modiji responsible for everything bad that happens in this country?”

Mishra has 17,000 Twitter followers and reiterated his faith in the prime minister. “I had a lot of angst against parties like the Congress and Samajwadi Party that only appeased the minorities. I used to feel that no one cares about the Hindus,” he said. Incidentally, there is speculation that Lankesh could have been killed by a right-wing outfit because of her strident anti-Hindutva views.

Rita Gupta, whose Twitter handle is @RitaG74, is a former All India Radio presenter living in Delhi. She is followed by 12,000 people, including the prime minister. After Lankesh was dead, her tweet said: “For those who don’t know Gauri Lankesh a brief introduction – Leftist, naxal sympathiser, anti-establishment, anti-Hindu”. For Gupta though, her tweet was only to change the current narrative that “conservatives are bad and liberals are good”.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/nikhil-dadhich-ashish-mishra-accused-of-hate-tweets-against-gauri-lankesh-unrepentant/story-69h6xTyekDG5X6pFUbeLYI.html

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