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Archives for : September2017

The many ways the govt has taken #SwachhBharat to ridiculous proportions

(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

The third anniversary of the NDA government’s Swachh Bharat campaign is an opportune moment to take stock of the programme and its achievements.

While the government will be eager to throw staggering numbers to claim that it has been a roaring success, there is another question that warrants attention, much beyond the number of toilets built and the number of them in use.

Ever since the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan was rechristened Swachh Bharat Mission in September 2014, officials of the union government and various state governments have adopted a zealot’s approach to meet the programmes objective. In the race to make India free of open defecation by 2019, in time for the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, government officials have made a mockery of the campaign.

In the last three years, a range of irresponsibly devised incentives and punishment have surfaced that only serve to show that officials have taken the drive to ridiculous proportions.

MISGUIDED EFFORTS

Many incentives announced have been insensitive and punishments draconian. Somewhere, over enthusiastic volunteers chase out those trying to relieve themselves, while somewhere else, photographs of violators are posted on public platforms.

There are monetary fines in some cases, while offenders may even be jailed in others. Supply of subsidised ration and kerosene has also been cut off for a few.

Here is a list of the most outrageous measures taken by officials across the country:

Shaming – Gwalior district administration recently announced a reward of Rs 100 per picture to those who will click and share pictures of those defecating in the open.

Last year, the education department in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district asked government teachers to go out on inspection visits at 5 am and check open defecation in their respective school areas. They department also asked the teachers by to click photos of those found relieving themselves in open.

Fines – In Madhya Pradesh, local government officials in Raisen district slapped a fine of nearly Rs 4 lakh on 13 families for defecating in the open.

Darkness – Earlier this month, Uttar Pradesh government was in the headlines for cutting power supply to the homes of those who were yet to construct toilets.

“Sell your wife” – The district magistrate of Aurangabad in Bihar reportedly told locals in a village that men should build toilets at all costs, even if that meant selling their wives to raise money.

Death – Earlier this year, a man was killed in Rajasthan’s Pratapgarh town after a group of government officials allegedly beat him up badly. The man reportedly tried to stop the officials from taking pictures of women defecating in public.

Given that these are only those incidents that were reported and that much of what happens in the hinterland largely remains unreported, it is quite likely that this is just the tip of an iceberg. It is time the Union government, which is the fountainhead of the overenthusiasm surrounding Swachh Bharat, takes a strong stand http://www.catchnews.com/india-news/the-many-ways-the-govt-has-taken-swachh-bharat-to-ridiculous-proportions-81669.html

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India – Jail Reforms- SC Issues Slew Of Directions

Jail Reforms- SC Issues Slew Of Directions: Directs Compensation To Next Kin In Custodial Deaths , Medical Assistance, Phone & Video Conferencing With Family For Prisoners [Read Judgment]

The Supreme Court, on Friday, agonized over the expanding collection of custodial or unnatural deaths within the prisons throughout India and issued a slew of instructions to curb them.

“…we do hope that the highlighting of this issue will bring about awareness in the mind and heart of the powers that be and consequential reforms in prisons which may ultimately reduce, if not eliminate, the number of unnatural deaths in prisons and also improve the conditions of prisoners all over the country,” the Bench comprising Justice M.B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta noticed.

The Court took under consideration the knowledge on unnatural deaths in prisons to be had from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) site and the knowledge supplied by means of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on suicide in prisons.

Highlighting a number of such details and statistics to be had handy, the Court highlighted the desire for an overhaul, with a view to ameliorate the prerequisites of prisoners around the nation and thereby scale back the collection of unnatural deaths.

“It is time for the State to go beyond projections through circulars and advisories and actually come to grips with reality as it exists in a very large number of prisons. What is practiced in our prisons is the theory of retribution and deterrence and the ground situation emphasizes this, while our criminal justice system believes in reformation and rehabilitation and that is why handcuffing and solitary confinement are prohibited. It is this ‘rejection’ of the philosophy of our criminal justice system that leads to violence in prisons and eventually unnatural deaths,” the Court noticed. It then issued the next instructions:

Compensation

  • The Secretary General of this Court will transmit a replica of this choice to the Registrar General of each High Court inside one week with a request to the Registrar General to position it ahead of the Chief Justice of the High Court. We request the Chief Justice of the High Court to sign up a suo motu public hobby petition to be able to figuring out the following of relations of the prisoners who’ve admittedly died an unnatural demise as printed by means of the NCRB all the way through the duration between 2012 and 2015 or even thereafter, and award appropriate repayment, except good enough repayment has already been awarded.

Awareness, sensitization and counselling

  • The Union of India in the course of the Ministry of Home Affairs will be certain that stream inside one month and in any match by means of 31st October, 2017 of (i) the Model Prison Manual, (ii) the monograph ready by means of the NHRC entitled “Suicide in Prison – prevention strategy and implication from human rights and legal points of view”, (iii) the communications despatched by means of the NHRC referred to above, (iv) the compendium of advisories issued by means of the Ministry of Home Affairs to the State Governments, (v) the Nelson Mandela Rules and (vi) the Guidelines on Investigating Deaths in Custody issued by means of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the Director General or Inspector General of Police (because the case is also) in control of prisons in each State and Union Territory. All efforts will have to be made, as steered by means of the NHRC and others, to cut back and perhaps get rid of unnatural deaths in prisons and to record every demise in prisons – each herbal and unnatural.
  • The Union of India in the course of the Ministry of Home Affairs will direct the NCRB to give an explanation for and explain the glory between unnatural and herbal deaths in prisons as indicated at the site of the NCRB and in its Annual Reports and in addition give an explanation for the sub-categorization ‘others’ inside the class of unnatural deaths. The NCRB will have to even be required to subcategorize herbal deaths. The sub-categorization and rationalization will have to be complied with by means of 31st October, 2017.
  • The State Governments will have to, together with the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), the National and State Police Academy and the Bureau of Police Research and Development behavior coaching and sensitization programmes for senior police officers of all prisons on their purposes, tasks and tasks as additionally the rights and tasks of prisoners. A replica of this order be despatched by means of the Registry of this Court to the Member-Secretary of every SLSA to follow-up and make sure compliance.
  • The necessity of getting counselors and beef up individuals in prisons can’t be over-emphasized. Their products and services can be used to recommend and recommendation prisoners who could be dealing with some disaster scenario or would possibly have some violent or suicidal dispositions. The State Governments are directed to nominate counselors and beef up individuals for counselling prisoners, specifically first-time offenders. In this regard, the products and services of identified NGOs will also be taken and inspired.

Visitation rights

  • While visits to jail by means of the circle of relatives of a prisoner will have to be inspired, it could be profitable to believe extending the time or frequency of conferences and in addition discover the potential for the usage of telephones and video conferencing for communications now not simplest between a prisoner and members of the family of that prisoner, but in addition between a prisoner and the legal professional, whether or not appointed in the course of the State Legal Services Authority or differently.
  • The State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) will have to urgently behavior a find out about at the traces carried out by means of the Bihar State Legal Services Authority in Bihar and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Rajasthan in appreciate of the entire prerequisites in prisons within the State and the amenities to be had. The find out about will have to additionally come with a efficiency audit of the prisons, as has been completed by means of the CAG. The SLSAs will have to additionally assess the impact and have an effect on of quite a lot of schemes framed by means of NALSA when it comes to prisoners. We request the Chief Justice of each High Court, within the capability of Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority, to absorb this initiative and, if essential, arrange a Committee headed ideally by means of the Executive Chairperson of the State Legal Services Authority to put into effect the instructions given above.
  • Providing scientific help and amenities to inmates in prisons wishes no reaffirmation. The proper to well being is unquestionably a human proper and all State Governments will have to be aware of making this a truth for all, together with prisoners. The studies in Karnataka, West Bengal and Delhi to the impact that scientific amenities in prisons don’t meet minimal requirements of care is a sign that the human proper to well being isn’t given good enough significance in prisons and that can also be one of the crucial reasons of unnatural deaths in prisons. The State Governments are directed to check the supply of scientific help to prisoners and take remedial steps anyplace essential.
  • The charter of a Board of Visitors which incorporates non-official guests is of substantial significance in order that eminent individuals of society can take part in starting up reforms in prisons and within the rehabilitation of prisoners. Merely converting the nomenclature of prisons to ‘Correction Homes’ won’t get to the bottom of the issue. Some proactive steps are required to be taken by means of eminent individuals of society who will have to be integrated within the Board of Visitors. The State Governments are directed to represent a suitable Board of Visitors when it comes to Chapter XXIX of the Model Prison Manual indicating their tasks and tasks. This workout will have to be finished by means of 30th November, 2017.

Open Jails

  • The recommendation given by means of the realized Amicus of encouraging the status quo of ‘open jails’ or ‘open prisons’ is for sure price taking into consideration. It used to be dropped at our understand that the experiment in Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and the semi-open jail in Delhi are extraordinarily a success and wish to be moderately studied. Perhaps there could be similarly a success experiments performed in different States as neatly and, if this is the case, they require to be documented, studied and emulated.

Custodial demise of youngsters

  • The Ministry of Women & Child Development of the Government of India which is desirous about the implementation of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is directed to speak about with the involved officials of the State Governments and formulate procedures for tabulating the collection of kids (if any) that suffer an unnatural demise in kid care establishments the place they’re saved in custody both as a result of they’re in battle with regulation or as a result of they want care and coverage. Necessary steps will have to be taken on this regard by means of 31st December, 2017.
  • http://mesotheliomalawsuitfunding.com/jail-reforms-sc-issues-slew-of-directions-directs-compensation-to-next-kin-in-custodial-deaths-medical-assistance-phone-video-conferencing-with-family-for-prisoners-read-judgment/

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Narmada #JalSatyagrah – Agitating villagers’ skin and blood shedding after continually standing in water

 

Agitating villagers’ skin starting to remove and blood shedding after continually standing in water in protest

People of Narmada valley ready to take on the challenge of submergence

Skin starting to remove and blood shedding of all those 36 villagers and Medha Patkar who are standing in water of Narmada river to protest the birthday celebration of Prime Minister Modi by inaugurating the construction of Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river when rehabilitation of lakhs of project affected people (villagers) remained to be done.

Jalsatyagrahis (mode of protest by standing in water) held a meeting earlier in the day today and decided to keep on standing in water until the level of water stop from rising. The raising of water level will submerge 192 villages and one township having 40,000 families. This may claim around 2 lakh lives.

A public meeting will be held tomorrow near the site of the Jalsatyagrah in Chhota Barda, one of the 192 affected villages in Badwani district of Madhya Pradesh will take place. In this meeting the oustees of Sardar Sarova Dam will berate the celebration of Prime Minister’s birthday celebration by risking the lives of lakhs of people.

एक दिन से खड़े पानी में जल सत्याग्रहियों की खाल और खून दोनों निकलने लगी |

सरदार सरोवर बाँध प्रभावितों डूब की चुनौती लेने को तैयार

जो जल सत्याग्रही कल से पानी में खड़े है मेधा पाटकर के साथ, एक दिन के समय में पानी में खड़े रहने के कारण उनकी खाल और खून निकलने लगी | ये जल सत्याग्रह देश के प्रधानमंत्री मोदी द्वारा उनकी जन्मदिन को सरदार सरोवर बाँध के उदघाटन करके मनाने का विरोध कर रहे है क्योंकि आज भी बाँध प्रभावितों का पुनर्वास नही हुआ है |

आज शाम जल्सत्याग्रहियों ने मीटिंग लेकर तय करा है कि अगर पानी का लेवल बढ़ता रहा तो वह पानी में से नही निकलेंगे | पानी के लेवल बढ़ने से 192 गाँव और 1 नगर डूबेगा जिसमे ४०,००० परिवार डूबेंगे | इससे लग-भग २ लाख मारेंगे जायेंगे |

 

कल छोटा बरदा में जल्सत्याग्रह स्थल पर एक जन सभा होगी | छोटा बरदा, मध्य प्रदेश के बडवानी जिला का  १९२ प्रभावित गांवो में से एक गाँव है | इस जनसभा में सारे गाँव वाले मोदी जी के जन्मदिन के मनाने को धिक्कार करेंगे जिससे २ लाख लोगों की ज़िन्दग खतरे है |

Contact/संपर्क: 917917513

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Following Gauri Lankesh’s murder, UN rights experts urge Indian Government to protect free speech

– A group of independent human rights experts today called on the Government of India to create a safer environment for independent voices, after Indian journalist and human rights defender Gauri Lankesh was killed earlier this month.

“The Indian authorities should unequivocally condemn the killing of Gauri Lankesh, investigate it, bring all the perpetrators – including the masterminds – to account, and take seriously the safety of journalists,” said the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, on summary or arbitrary executions, Agnes Callamard, and on the situation of human rights defender, Michel Forst.

They called the murder of Ms. Lankesh, who was shot dead outside of her home on 5 September a “terrible and painful tragedy” and a “vicious attack” on the freedom of the press.

“We urge the authorities in India to take active steps to reverse a political climate that in recent years have become increasingly polarized and hostile, especially to the media and those exercising the freedom of expression,” the Special Rapporteurs said, adding that they are in contact with the Government regarding the situation.

According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Ms. Lankesh was known as a “rationalist,” a term used in India for people who stand against the use of religion in politics.

OHCHR confirmed that her killing is the fourth in the last three years of activists who had opposed the rise of Hindu fundamentalism in politics.

“Governments have a responsibility to build a safe environment for independent voices, including those of journalists critical of the authorities,” they said.

UN Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=57510#.Wb1disgjE2x

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The real story behind Sikhs rushing to aid of Rohingya refugees

What’s motivating them to defy a hostile climate against the stateless people.

HARMEET SHAH SINGH

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Why have Sikhs, of all people, crossed into Bangladesh to feed thousands of Rohingya refugees?

Why reach out to Muslims, who committed the worst of atrocities on the Sikhs? Have they forgotten the savage execution of two of their gurus – Guru Arjan and Guru Teg Bahadur – under Mughal orders? Have they forgotten how young children of Guru Gobind Singh were walled up alive and thousands of soldiers of his Khalsa army brutally massacred?

Have they forgotten how Afghan invader Ahmed Shah had an estimated 25,000 Sikhs murdered in two days some 250 years ago?

Do they know our government has declared Rohingya Muslims a “threat to national security”? Don’t they know India, under the present dispensation, wants to deport them?

These are the questions troubling every other supporter of anti-Rohingya, anti-Muslim sentiment in India.

Dear all, they do know everything. They have read history. They read newspapers and watch TV almost every day. But what they also read, and try to follow, is what’s written in Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the fountainhead of their strength that empowers them to swim against the tide.

khalsa-aid-690_091617072007.jpgImage: Khalsa Aid

Let me take you through a tiny portion of the ocean of humanity that’s embodied for eternity in Sri Guru Granth Sahib – collective writings of six of the 10 gurus and of more than 30 other spiritual figures from various traditions.

But first, here’s a quick rundown of some of the authors other than the gurus themselves:

· Kabir: Iconoclastic poet-saint raised by a Muslim weaver and influenced by Hindu ascetic Ramanand

· Namdev: A celebrated low-caste saint who wrote in the Marathi language

· Ravidas: A mystic poet born in Varanasi in a leather-working low-caste family

· Sheikh Farid: A Muslim sufi saint

· Trilochan: A celebrated saint of the Vaishya caste

· Dhanna: a Jat from Rajasthan

· Jaidev: A poet laureate in the court of King Lakshman Sen of Bengal

· Parmanand: A saint-poet from Maharashtra

· Pipa: A Rajput ruler turned saint

· Ramanand: A Brahmin poet-saint

· Sadhna: A butcher by occupation

·Sain: A barber in the court of Raja Ram, the king of Rewa

Can you spot any geographical boundaries or distinctions of castes, languages, faiths or jobs in the wellspring of Sikh philosophy? You can’t because there’s none.

Sri Guru Granth Sahib is awash with calls to humanity to treat human race as one. Gurbani fiercely opposed state excesses. The gurus warned against them.

“Rajang Ta Manang Abhimanang Ta Heenang,” wrote Guru Arjan, the fifth guru. In English, this means: “Power corrupted by arrogance leads to a drastic fall.” “Bipreet Budhang Marrat Lokah Nanak Chirangkaal Dukh Bhogtey (Evil-minded oppressors are destined to perpetual suffering).”

Now, let’s also look at the worldview of Guru Gobind Singh, whose military campaigns against tyrant Islamists are often cited to promote a misleading narrative that the Sikhs were born to save and support only one race, community or group.

Guru Gobind Singh delivered a profound analysis of divine theatre in Akal Ustat, his ode to God.

“Dhaeharaa Maseet Soee Poojaa A Nivaaj Ouee Maanas Sabai Eaek Pai Anaek Ko Bharamaao Hai,” he wrote. “Temples and mosques are the same, there is no difference between Hindu worship and Muslim prayer; all human beings are the same, they may just appear to be different.”

He noted further: “The gods, demons, yakshas, gandharvas, Turks and Hindus are all outward garbs. The eyes are the same, the ears the same, the bodies the same and the habits the same. Creation is the fusion of the earth, the air, the fire and the water. Muslims’ Allah and the abhekh (the guiseless) of Hindus are the same, the Puranas and the holy Quran depict the same reality; all have been created in the image of the same divine intelligence.”

“Millions of sparks emanate from the fire and merge back into the same flame. Waves on the surface of rivers are made up of the same compound. Animate and inanimate objects come out of the same supreme intelligence and blend back into it.”

That leads us to believe humanity is not defined by press statements or rhetoric. You turn inward to discover it. The Rohingyas have faced brutal assaults as did many of us – Hindus and Sikhs – in our own recent and distant histories.

Just imagine what would have happened if Guru Teg Bahadur hadn’t held the hand of Kashmiri Pandits. Just imagine if Guru Gobind Singh hadn’t done what he did to fight off Mughal terror.

I personally feel many of us – the Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere – wouldn’t have been alive if fellow Hindus hadn’t saved us from rampaging murderers in 1984. That was the period when every turbaned man in India was portrayed as a suspected terrorist as is every Rohingya survivor now looking for a place to lay their heads on.

I am proud of Khalsa Aid, the charity registered in the UK, to have sent its teams to the village of Teknaf in the Cox’s Bazar area.

Very much like our Hindu neighbours who protected Sikh lives in the crisis of 1984, Khalsa Aid volunteers are not just helping Rohingyas but supplying oxygen to humanity left unattended in an ICU. Let it survive.http://www.dailyo.in/politics/sikhs-help-rohingyas-bangladesh-1984-anti-sikh-riots-khalsa-aid/story/1/19550.html

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India: Assassinating Dissent

Sonali Pal Chaudhury/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Protesters holding signs showing the murdered journalist Gauri Lankesh, Kolkata, India, September 7, 2017

Gauri Lankesh was the editor of a weekly tabloid published in Kannada, the main language of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. She was murdered on the fifth of September at the gate of her house in Bangalore, shot in the head and chest at close range. Her killers got away on motorcycles. This gangland-style assassination of a journalist would have made a stir in any case, but coming as it did after a series of political murders, it resonated across India and beyond its borders.

From the moment she died, the press reported her death not as an individual event but as the fourth in a sequence of assassinations; to the names Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare, and M.M. Kalburgi, journalists now added Gauri Lankesh. Politically they were all left-leaning, strongly rationalist, hostile to Hindu orthodoxy, and convinced that right-wing majoritarianism was the mortal enemy of republican democracy. They were also public intellectuals who chose to write in their mother tongues: Dabholkar and Pansare wrote in Marathi, Kalburgi and Lankesh in Kannada. They spoke to a vernacular readership beyond the reach of the country’s English media, with its pan-Indian but paper-thin Anglophone audience. Each of them was shot dead by men on motorcycles with homemade pistols who got away.

India has always been a dangerous place for journalists. The Hindi journalist Ramchandra Chhatrapati, who in 2002 first published the anonymous letter accusing Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the recently jailed cult leader, of rape, was shot and killed weeks after his story ran. More than thirty journalists have been killed in the state of Assam in the last thirty years. In the newly created state of Jharkhand, with its mining mafias, being a journalist is a conspicuously dangerous business: four journalists have died there since 2000 and no one has been convicted of their murders. Malini Subramaniam, a freelance journalist, was hounded out of Bastar in the state of Chhatisgarh by a vigilante group acting in concert with the local police because her reports on the Maoist insurgency didn’t fit the government’s counterinsurgency narrative. In Madhya Pradesh, a central Indian state, a scandal about corruption in a government-administered examination board was dwarfed by the horror of its aftermath: nearly forty people associated with the scandal as culprits or witnesses died seemingly unnatural deaths, and in 2015, a journalist investigating the case the case died in mysterious circumstances.

These incidents are classic examples of violent censorship, of concealment by murder. But the killings of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi, and Lankesh don’t seem to be instrumental violence designed to silence inconvenient revelations. While it’s reasonable to be concerned about the impact of these killings on free speech and journalism, to see them primarily as an extreme form of censorship is to underestimate the enormity of the crime. Their murders look more like ideological assassinations designed to punish intellectual dissent.

AP Images (far left)

Narendra Dabholkar, 2008; Govind Pansare, circa 2014; and M.M. Kalburgi, circa 2014

Lankesh was a muckraking reporter and editor who was also a polemical left-wing critic of Hindu majoritarian politics at every level, regional and national. Dabholkar was a rationalist and atheist married to a Muslim woman who had made the debunking of Hindu godmen and their claims his life’s work. Pansare was a member of the Communist Party of India, a lawyer and trade union leader who energetically contested majoritarian readings of Indian history. Kalburgi was an epigraphist and scholar whose special field was the literature of a religious sect in Karnataka, the Lingayats. In the struggle over Lingayat identity there were two sides: a conservative one that embraced brahminical Hinduism and a radical one that saw Lingayats as a distinct minority that ought to resist assimilation. Kalburgi outraged the conservatives; he was threatened, forced to recant his views, and eventually murdered. Gauri Lankesh was, like Kalburgi, a Lingayat, and she took his side in this dispute. She was flamboyantly opposed to Hindutva, the majoritarian nationalism sponsored by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). We don’t know who killed these four—apart from some preliminary arrests no one has been formally charged with any of these murders—but given the uniform way in which they were killed, it’s reasonable to assume that they were punished for their ideological positions.

The intimidation or murder of inconvenient journalists is part of a much wider violent tendency. Since Narendra Modi became prime minister, India has seen a spate of targeted assaults on poor Muslims and Dalits, plebeian groups who deal in hides and skins and cattle and meat. Dalits dealing in cow hides have been systematically thrashed by vigilantes, encouraged by the present regime’s commitment to cow protection. Muslims have been dragged from their homes and beaten to death on the suspicion of having eaten beef. Muslims involved in the cattle trade have been bludgeoned to death on public highways as they begged for their lives, or strung up on trees and lynched.

The deaths of Dabholkar, Pansare, Kalburgi, and Lankesh weren’t just murders; they were lynchings, no different from the killings carried out by cow vigilantes. Middle-class commentators in India sometimes make the mistake of separating violence against intellectuals from violence against working people. Whether all four executions can be laid at one door, or whether their uniform modus operandi indicates copy-cat killings, there is a ritual quality to these murders. They are the Indian equivalents of the machete murders of rationalists and secularists in Bangladesh, where the Islamist right makes public examples of dissenting Muslims, condemned as apostates. Apostasy isn’t a condition generally associated with Hinduism, but Hindutva’s remaking of Indian nationalism in the image of India’s religious majority has helped define it: the self-hating Hindu as anti-national traitor.

The function of political violence is to let bigotry slip sideways into public conversations. Every lynching, no matter how horrifying, becomes, in time, a matter of debate. Gauri Lankesh’s killing was a case in point. Hours after her death, a television journalist tweeted that she got what was coming to her. A businessman from the prime minister’s home state, Gujarat, achieved viral notoriety by tweeting that a “bitch died a dog’s death and set all the puppies yelping in tune.” This was especially notable because Prime Minister Modi followed him on Twitter. And despite the chorused outrage this tweet provoked, Modi continued to do so. What began as a general condemnation of Lankesh’s murder turned into a whispering campaign about her sympathy for insurgent Maoists, her conviction for defamation, her falling out with her brother, and under this sustained, posthumous inquisition, Gauri Lankesh became fair game: a martyred heroine to some, a treacherous virago to others.

Liberals have been accused of blaming the murder on the BJP and its affiliated organizations without a proper investigation or evidence. It is entirely possible that Gauri Lankesh’s murderers had nothing to do with these specific groups, that perhaps it was the position she took on Lingayat assimilation that got her killed. But knowing the identity of her murderers is less important than understanding what they were doing. For the inquisitors who ordered her killing, Gauri Lankesh was a witch. The driveway ambush was a public burning. http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2017/09/15/india-assassinating-dissent/

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Family ‘fakes Aadhaar of 11-year-old to wed her’ #childmarriage #WTFnews

Ishita Bhatia| TNN | Updated: Sep 16, 2017, 06:18 IST
Representative imageRepresentative image
MEERUT: A student of Class III believed to be aged no more than 11 years was hours from being wed on Friday morning in Bulandshahr when a joint effort by social activists, officials from her school and police helped thwart the marriage, 10 days after she tipped off her class teacher.

To beat the legal consequences of conducting a child marriage, the girl’s family had allegedly got a fake Aadhaar card made that stated her age as nearly 18 years.

“We first got to know about the matter on September 5, when the girl told her class teacher that she was getting married,” Renuka (who only goes by her first name), the chief executive officer of Pardada-Pardadi Educational Society (PPES), which runs the school where the girl studies, said, “It was really brave of her to tell us about it. We called her mother over, but she failed to understand the gravity of the problem. The family seems to have got a fake Aadhaar card made for the girl, showing her age as 17 years and nine months. She is actually likely to be around 11.”

PPES management then got in touch with Child Line. Local social activists said they received death threats for trying to stop the wedding. However, on Friday morning, just before the wedding at Anupshahr, police and Child Line officials reached the girl’s house and took her into protective custody . “The family was marrying off the girl and her sister, who is in her early twenties, at the same time to save on expenses.They are a poor family ,” said S P Patel, the local station house officer. Bhupendra Singh, judicial magistrate, child welfare committee (CWC), said, “The girl doesn’t look 18 years old, as the Aadhaar card claims. We have sent her for age verification by a panel of doctors under the chief medical officer (CMO) of Bulandshahr district.”

Bulandshahr CMO K N Tiwari said the age verification report would arrive on Saturday. Meanwhile, the girl has been handed over to the school authorities, who will keep her under a teacher’s care until her family promises to not get her married.

“The family is being counselled… If the age verification report proves she is 11, we will begin investigations into the fake Aadhaar card,” said SHO Patel.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/meerut/family-fakes-aadhaar-of-11-year-old-to-wed-her/articleshow/60705975.cms

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Caste Is Stunting All of India’s Children

 

Fears of impurity continue to steer Indians away fhttprom toilets — and towards deadly fecal germs.

Caste Is Stunting All of India’s Children

Growth in India has always been puzzling. For the first decades of democratic India, economists lamented slow economic progress. Some observers worried that India was condemned to permanently sluggish GDP growth. Luckily, things changed. Rapid growth in the last few decades has taken many Indians out of poverty: According to the World Bank, the fraction of Indians living in poverty was cut in half between 1993 and 2011.
But slow growth of another sort remains a puzzle. These days, what grows too slowly is not India’s economy but its children. When a country gets richer, its children usually get taller. Indian kids remain unhealthily short, even compared with their peers in poorer developing countries. According to the latest figures, a child in India is more likely to be stunted than a child in much poorer areas of sub-Saharan Africa. They’re also dying in greater numbers than India’s level of development should suggest; infant mortality is higher in India than it is in poorer neighbors like Bangladesh and Nepal.
This presents a challenge for health economists, who are used to cases where richer societies are healthier societies. When we dug into the causes for our new book, Where India Goes, though, we found that the answer was unique to India.

The damage being done to India’s children was caused by the grip of the caste system and the impact that it has on our most everyday human experience: defecation.

The damage being done to India’s children was caused by the grip of the caste system and the impact that it has on our most everyday human experience: defecation.

One of the most telling interviews we did was with Ritesh, a higher-caste man from the state of Uttar Pradesh. Like most people in rural India, he, his wife, and their children defecate in the open: Instead of using a toilet or latrine, they go outside, squat, and leave their feces behind. The family was offered a free latrine by the village leader, but Ritesh refused to accept it because he thought it would be unseemly to have in front of his house and that it would defile the small temple that he had set up to honor Lord Shiva and other gods. The view that a latrine, which people in other societies would see as leading to a cleaner home, could be defiling has its roots in ideas of purity and pollution that govern many aspects of daily life in rural India and that are used to justify caste-based discrimination.
The result of widespread open defecation in rural India is an environment full of fecal germs that get into food and water and onto children’s hands and feet. This leads to diarrhea, infections, and chronic intestinal diseases, which kill some children and prevent many of those who survive from absorbing and putting to good use the nutrients in the food that they eat. Children who live near more neighbors who defecate in the open are less likely to survive and are more likely to be stunted. In contrast, when a village’s sanitation improves, its children grow taller.
No children in the world face a density of open defecation as threatening as India’s, where, in many places, population growth has increased more quickly than the adoption of toilets and latrines. Open defecation has been essentially eliminated from Latin America and Bangladesh, is falling quickly in Nepal and elsewhere in Asia, and is much less common in sub-Saharan Africa than it is in India. Every year, Indians make up a greater and greater share of the remaining people who defecate in the open.
In open defecation, we found an important explanation for some of India’s health puzzles — but another question immediately arises. Why have Indians stuck to the fields, when people elsewhere, such as in neighboring Bangladesh, have rushed to adopt latrines? Our research team spent several years interviewing people in thousands of households across rural India. It became clear that the explanation was not that latrines were unaffordable. In a sense, we already knew this: After all, people in poorer countries make or buy latrines. The most basic form of rural sanitation, a covered hole in the ground, is not expensive.
Nor is the problem governance or lack of water. Governance in India is imperfect, but it is no worse than in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, or Sierra Leone, all of which have less open defecation. And, in most places, water sources are closer and more reliable in rural India than they are in rural sub-Saharan Africa, which has lower rates of open defecation.
As we and the survey team visited village after village, unambiguous evidence came from a massive, uncontrolled experiment that successive governments have been unintentionally conducting for decades: giving away free latrines. We found many households where nobody uses the latrine that they were given; where a government latrine has been disassembled for parts; or where only older or disabled people use the latrine while others continue to defecate in the fields or on village paths.
Again and again, we and our team asked people in rural India why they defecate in the open and why they reject the latrines that the government gives away. We found that open defecation persists because of the ideas of purity and pollution that frame the caste system and because of the continuing legacy of untouchability.
Elsewhere around the developing world, when a latrine pit fills up after a few years of use, it gets emptied — either by its owners or by someone they hire. It is not the best job in the economy, but it is a job. But in rural India, emptying a latrine pit is much more than a job. Such work is wrapped up with the stigma of the lowest ranks of the caste system. People whose grandparents and parents used to clean up human feces, haul away animal carcasses, and do other types of dirty work belong to castes that were traditionally not allowed to use public wells or enter temples and who were forced to endure daily public humiliation.
Although social change is happening far too slowly in rural India, ever more people from oppressed castes now refuse to empty latrine pits or would charge very high prices to do so. As a result, rural Indians of higher caste rank worry that the latrines that the government gives away will quickly fill up and become unusable. Further, because accumulating feces in a latrine pit is a threat to the purity of the home, and because defecating in the open is seen as wholesome and healthy, most people see little reason to risk ever having to deal with a full latrine pit.
Once we pieced together this story from observations and interviews, we found it in quantitative data, too. It is not in the poorest, least educated, or worst governed villages or states of India where open defecation remains most common. It is in the places where most people are willing to tell a surveyor that they enforce the casteist rules of untouchability in their interactions with lower caste people. Indian Muslims, who have different ideas about purity, pollution, and propriety than Hindus, are more likely to use latrines. Open defecation in Muslim neighborhoods is so much lower than it is in Hindu neighborhoods that Muslim children are more likely to survive infancy, despite being poorer.
This explanation for rural India’s widespread open defecation can make people uncomfortable — especially development professionals. Of course, local rural development bureaucrats and politicians are rarely surprised by it; anyone who spends time in India’s villages knows that casteism too often remains alive and well. One time, a state official thanked us for putting into words an explanation that he, intuitively, already knew.
But in the distant offices and conference rooms of Delhi and among international development agencies, casteism and untouchability can feel as remote and foreign as the idea that a person with a working latrine would choose to defecate in the open. Casteism here is more subtle than the open discrimination of the villages — and not talked about by polite people. Invoking cultural ideas of caste as the internationally unusual explanation for an internationally unusual problem smells of the sort of social insensitivity that is unbecoming of a development career.

The current government’s sanitation drive, which began in 2014 and set the ambitious but impossible goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019, unfortunately does little to address the root causes of open defecation.

The current government’s sanitation drive, which began in 2014 and set the ambitious but impossible goal of eliminating open defecation by 2019, unfortunately does little to address the root causes of open defecation. Indeed, it is the same sort of latrine construction program that prior governments have tried for decades. At a minimum, improving on prior programs would have required collecting careful data that tracks latrine use. Yet, more than halfway to the five-year deadline, the Indian government is not seriously measuring open defecation behavior; it mainly measures spending on latrine construction as money passes through local bureaucratic and political hands.

Sadly, there is every reason to expect that babies born in India in 2019 will keep dying because of the fecal germs spread by their neighbors. Even many of those who survive will suffer severe cognitive and physical damage from childhood diseases that could be stopped by the adoption of latrines The caste system was built for the benefit of those on top — but the children of brahmins are as vulnerable to germs as the children of the lowest-ranking castes.
Photo credit: SAM PANTHAKY/AFP/Getty Images
http://foreignpolicy.com/category/argument/

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NBA challenge -The Govt Statement on Sardar Sarovar is full of flaws and lies #JawabDo

It doesn’t behove either CM or PM of Gujarat, Statement on Sardar Sarovar is full of flaws and lies: NBA challenge

 

Badwani, Madhya Pradesh | September 15, 2017: The statement by the chief minister of Gujarat, Mr. Vijay Rupani on Narmada Dam inauguration, on the eve of the Grand Ceremony planned to celebrate PM’s birthday begins and ends with falsehood. All the lies as well as serious mistakes, certainly it doesn’t behove the chief minister of state that is to control, operate and monitor the monstrous project. We have witnessed about this giant, controversial dam during last 32 years and once again will experience on this special occasion which needs to be dissected and exposed; since the plan of ‘Dedicating the Dam to the Nation’, all the people across the country must know the truth through the response from the people of Narmada Valley that follows-

First and the foremost, how has Rupani calculated a period of 56 years since the laying of the foundation stone for today’s Sardar Sarovar Dam? The foundation stone laid by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was not for the Dam of today, it was for a much smaller dam of 162 feet height. The present dam, a result of the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal Award (NWDTA) is 455 feet i.e. 138.68 meters high, declared by the Tribunal after 10 years long enquiry into the serious conflict among 3 riparian states, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat. It was all party (then Jan Sangh and Congress) opposition in Madhya Pradesh that had questioned and challenged through even violent resistance, that got settled as NWDTA is considered to be a decree, i.e. law.

However, the Dam is still not the country’s highest dam or a world’s second biggest dam, claims made only on the basis of the volume of concrete going into the Dam. It is one of the biggest, no doubt and the decision on the same came in December 1979, the date of the Declaration of the Award (NWDTA), not in 1961.

Even after the Award the work on the same was soon stopped and the clearance to it, following River valley guidelines of 1993 and Environmental Protection Act, 1986, came only in June 1987. The said clearance too was conditional since studies and plans on not less than 8 critical aspects of the project were not conducted nor completed till then. Those included rehabilitation, Flora and Fauna, seismic risks, catchment area treatment, command area development, downstream impacts.

Mr. Rupani obviously hasn’t looked into either data or documents related to each of these, concerning all 3 states with the non-riparian state of Rajasthan and the union of India as monitoring government with certain powers when he refers to the benefits of the Dam, he makes a serious mistake in saying that Maharashtra is to get 56% and Madhya Pradesh, 27% of the electricity to be generated, which is exactly the opposite, indicating the CM’s ignorance.

 

There is no mention of the firm confirmed power to be generated and only mentioning the capacity, obviously since the benefit shares are only out of whatever is actually generated and not the planned capacity.

There is no share in water benefit to either Maharashtra or Madhya Pradesh, who are to pay the biggest cost in losing best of land, fresh and most tragically, affecting lakhs of people in 244 villages and 1 township. This is what is not noted in the CM’s statement, as is always forgotten by Gujarat and forgiven by his counter parts in other 2 states.

The scale of irrigation and drinking water supply in Gujarat and Rajasthan is certainly exaggerated as can be proved. The irrigation statistics, showing big failure till date, not because of the stoppage of the Dam work for genuine social, environmental reasons, but mismanagement and manipulations to favour industries at the cost of farmers and drought affected in Gujarat. Even when waters were impounded up to 121.92 meters, Gujarat didn’t take it into the canal network which was left incomplete and has more than 50% balance even today. Whatever it did, was lost to sea via Sabarmati giving light and sound show due to no way to take to fields without canals, nor to be stored !

 

 

The irrigation scandal is fully exposed through a detailed statement by none else but the former chief minister of Gujarat Suresh Mehta. It is less than 3 lakh hectares when at least 8 to 10 lakh was expected at 121.92 meters dam height just because it has no priority for the commercial state!

How many villages in Gujarat is the dam going to supply drinking water? The number changes from para to para in this single statement, from 9000-9663! Remembering the past, let people of Gujarat and Bharat know that the figure has changed from 4200+ to 8000+ and now to 9000+, always including more than 240 barren villages with no habitation to drink the water, even if supplied! Which are the 131 urban centres to get this benefit, we must know along with how much of their thirst saturated till date? If it was only 0.86 million cubic feet for drinking water, it means out of 1.6 MAF, the share for municipal and industrial water, let there be the latest allocation details coming in from the official sources! People of Gujarat are in the dark about the agreements made with Coca Cola, car industries (to include new Suzuki plant, thanks to the visit by Japanese Premier), Adani’s and Ambani’s projects and all the industrial estates to come up in Gujarat as a part of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor full of investment regions covering 60% of Gujarat with Huge costs to farmers! Who will exhibit the real costs and real benefits & when?

Moreover, it’s an absolutely false contention that Maharashtra is also to be get 37500 hectares of irrigation from Sardar Sarovar Dam. This is the benefit Maharashtra may get out of its own rainfall & water flows in its Narmada catchment, not from the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir. Maharashtra has no benefit of water from the dam after losing 33 adivasi communities.

 

The biggest lie and unscientific claims is to say that 18 lakh hectares of land in Gujarat will be irrigated, with the inauguration of the project, as Narmada water will flow to over 9000 villages of Gujarat through a canal network. Does the network to that extent, exist today when at least 41000 kms long network to take water to village and fields doesn’t  exist. Thanks to Modi Government in Gujarat that totally ignored this aspect, while merely blaming the opposition, inside and outside the electoral politics for stalling the Dam project.

It’s revealing that even on the eve of the irrigation, neither the CM nor the PM is sensitive to the huge number of the adivasis, farmers fishworkers and labour who are compelled to sacrifice for the project. They may not have nor the realistic information to be shared with the Nation. There are about 40000 families still in the submergence area, beyond the game of numbers played by the governments of Madhya Pradesh at times to extent, Maharashtra and the union authorities.

 

Not just the serious lapses but large-scale corruption and violation of the laws, policies and court judgments up to the apex court, especially in Madhya Pradesh have been totally ignored by even Modi Ji since it’s not congress but his own party – BJP – government in power in Madhya Pradesh. If it was the other, he would not have left any stone unturned, in exposing them. Will he take pains to read Justice Jha Commission report and not bluff but act against the corrupt officials and agents in action even today?

And what about the ex-prime minister’s taking a position against pushing the construction of the Dam without rehabilitation of thousands of families, mandatory under law. Mr. Manmohan Singh had given a written commitment to the Supreme Court on this, on April 17th 2006. Mr. Rupani was not in the picture then, rather if I remember correctly, he was claiming that Gujarat can use its total water share through a pipeline project, without destruction of land, if NRIs support it financially.

Was the stand taken by UPA government, which too had faced our 21 days of fast and 51 hours five star fast by the Prime Minister, anyway illegal or unjust. Mr. Rupani, it’s shameful and not a matter of pride that Mr. Modi took a decision to push the Dam height to 138.68 meters beyond 121.92 meters where it was stayed, within 17 days after coming into Government.

 

He didn’t just ignored his minister such as Uma bharti and Mr. Gehlot, both from Madhya Pradesh but also the shockingly dense populations with thousands of houses, prime agriculture and horticulture, a few thousand temples and tens of mosques, a million (at least) trees and the total infrastructure, ages and generations old that is to be submerged or affected at the full height that he is to boast of !

The absolute callousness shown to even the tribal oustees of Gujarat on the path of agitation even today is equally exhibitory of the experience of ours over 32 years. The violation of the supreme court judgements on Rehabilitation as well as environmental measures, destruction of ecosystem and natural resources, the loss of human history with pre-history archeological remnants not removed and stored, total neglect of compensatory and preventive environmental works all is to be the result of Modi’s inauguration and celebration which will not be before the Nation, until it all occurs. The huge cost of 99000 crores for the single project which was never honestly estimated will be a huge burden on the state of Gujarat and the countries exchequer, to be borne mainly for the industries, the capitalists pursuing it at all cost.

The Programme on the Sept 17th, the birthday of PM is seen as the deadline or deathline for thousands and thousands fighting for justice with those sensitive and cautious of false propaganda and farce, beware of flawed developmental claims and model, demand an open public debate. Or as Amit shah said “Gujarat ka Sher kisi sawal ka jawab nahi dega!”.   

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BJP government waives Rs 2 crore stamp duty for eye institute by RSS activists

Anjaya Anparthi| T

Representative imageRepresentative image
NAGPUR: The BJP-ruled state government has waived off Rs 1.92 crore stamp duty that was due from Madhav Netralaya — an eye institute and research centre — planned by some prominent RSS activists, on Hingna Road. The state has imposed the condition that the hospital be run purely on non-commercial basis, but activists and politicians from opposition parties have criticised the government’s decision.

A brochure of Madhav Netralaya available online says Swami Avdeshanand Giriji Maharaj, Suresh ‘Bhaiyaji’ Joshi, union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari, and chief minister Devendra Fadnavis are on its advisory board. RSS activist Dr Shrikant Andhare is president of Madhav Netralaya, Dr Avinash Agnihotri is general secretary while Nikhil Mundle, who donated the land, is vice president of the institute.

The state revenue and forest department issued an order on August 24 giving exemption from paying stamp duty to Madhav Netralaya. The government has placed some conditions for giving the exemption. “In case of breach of the objective of Madhav Netralaya, that is to provide ultra-modern eye care facility of international standard to all patients without any discrimination on non-commercial basis, the Madhav Netralaya shall be liable to pay the whole of the stamp duty and penalty, if any.”

The Blind Relief Association owns the 2.54 hectare land behind Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) octroi naka on Hingna Road. The association, headed by Nikhil Mundle, is donating the land to Madhav Netralaya for a period of 99 years. A lease deed is to be executed between the association and the institute. Therefore, the institute was supposed to pay stamp duty of Rs1,92,29,275. Now, the institute will not be required to pay a single penny to get possession of the land for 99 years.

Mundle told TOI it was a charitable project so there should be no issue to anyone if it gets stamp duty exemption.

Agnihotri said the institute will be run on non-commercial basis as a social project. “A large number of patients have to travel to Chennai, Hyderabad, or other cities for retina and other eye related problems. We will provide services free of cost to poor people and at affordable rates to others at the institute,” he said.

Former union minister Vilas Muttemwar of the Congress said the government should now onwards give similar benefit to all charity organizations. “The BJP says it is a party with a difference. The decision to waive off stamp duty to Madhav Netralaya is nothing less than taking undue advantage of being in government. Hospital itself a noble profession but stamp duty exemption is not given to all,” he said.

Muttemwar added that the BJP-ruled NMC is also constructing compound wall and roads in RSS’s Smruti Bhavan. “All these favourable activities are on the rise. There might be many more cases that have not come out in public.”

Jai Jawan Jai Kisan convener Prashant Pawar said the government should exempt stamp duty to all farmers. “The government is increasing stamp duty citing one or the other reason. Now stamp duty is at 7.50% in the city. Common man is facing severe inconvenience due to high stamp duty. On the other hand, the government is passing such undue benefits to influential people,” he said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/nagpur/bjp-government-waives-rs2-crore-stamp-duty-for-eye-institute-by-rss-activists/articleshow/60454262.cms?

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