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Archives for : November2017

Public Statement on Gopal Balakrishnan and Sexual Harassment #Vaw

*Content Warning: The following letter and first-person accounts pertain to allegations of sexual harassment & sexual assault by Gopal Balakrishnan. We want to caution that some of the first-person accounts contain content that might be triggering for survivors of sexual violence.*

NOTE: To add your name to the list of signatories, or for other inquiries, please email [email protected].

We are writing this statement to let our community know that Gopal Balakrishnan has a pattern of using his position of power as a professor and influential academic to intimidate, harass, and even assault young women and gender nonconforming people. We have heard multiple first-person and witness accounts, and are including here statements describing such behavior. These statements are not all of the accounts of which we are aware. They simply represent the experiences of people who were willing to tell their stories. They describe direct acts against individuals, as well as a broader culture of misogyny and enabling. We want to affirm our support for the authors of the statements, as well as the UCSC students who have organized on their campus to bring GB’s behavior to light.

However, we are not addressing this statement specifically to the university, nor are we hoping to influence university legal proceedings (though of course we wholeheartedly support student efforts to use those avenues). We are addressing a broader “we”—the community of intellectuals, academics, radicals, and current and former students of which GB is and has been a part. We believe that healthy communities need to defend the safety and autonomy of their members, and be proactive about abuses of power taking place in their midst. This includes setting clear standards for what kinds of behavior we will tolerate. Misogyny, sexual harassment, and sexual assault should have no place among us.

GB’s behavior has kept women and gender nonconforming people, especially younger people with less social capital, from participating in political and intellectual spaces. How many people have been pushed out of meetings, classrooms, conferences, journals, and social events because of his actions? Those who he has harassed have told us that they have dropped out of political and intellectual circles for fear of running into him, and some who have heard about his behavior second hand have learned to avoid social gatherings where he might be present. In this sense, calling out his behavior publicly is not an act of exclusion, but a first step toward meaningful inclusion of those who are already being excluded.

The truth is that GB’s behavior was known—at least partially—to more than a few people. We are calling out not just GB himself, but the culture of denial and protection that allows him and others to continue to take advantage of women and gender nonconforming people. One of the statements attached here, in particular, shows how people close to GB silenced, mocked, and intimidated individuals who tried to come forward to discuss their encounters with GB. People have long tried to downplay GB’s behavior and to undermine the credibility of anyone that speaks out. This pattern of silencing is common in scenes or communities when abuse is revealed, and can cause as much or more emotional pain as the original abuse. It has to stop.

Access to a political and intellectual community is not an unequivocal right. If a person cannot be trusted to treat others with respect for their wellbeing and autonomy then they have lost the right to have access. This is especially the case because, as radicals, we work to make our ways of relating to one another reflective of the world we’re trying to create. If we can’t take a stand against the misogyny ingrained in our own milieus, then what right do we have to claim a role in making a better world?

Those of us signing this statement affirm our support for the people who have shared their personal experiences. While we won’t make false claims about our ability to provide “safe space,” we want to make it perfectly clear whose presence we value in our spaces. GB and anyone actively supporting him should not expect to be welcome at any events or gatherings where we are present. This is a step toward creating a community that expects and demands that we treat each other with respect and that acknowledges and challenges unequal power dynamics, including those created by gender, race, age, class, and institutional authority.


Virgil Addison

Sara Ahmed

Alexia Arani

Amanda Armstrong-Price

Jessica Beard

Aaron Begg

Jasper Bernes

Margaret Bishop

Blind Field Editorial Collective

Sarah Brouillette

Alex Bush

Melissa Buzzeo

Kim Calder

Scout Calvert

Marija Cetinic

Chris Daniels

Amy de’Ath

Elizabeth de Martelly

Colin Drumm

Jean Ette

Max Fox

Ben Furstenberg

Kelly Gawel

Joseph Giardini

Michelle Glowa

James Goldwyn

Erin Gray

Erin Greer

Kate Doyle Griffiths

Rob Halpern

Julia Havard

Alex Hiatt

Katy Fox-Hodess

Justin Hogg

Tobias Huttner

Aaron Jaffe

Brigitte Johnson

Hannah Kagan-Moore

Farah Khimji

Natalia Kresich

Madeline Lane-McKinley

Kyle Lane-McKinley

Zachary Levenson

Lauren Levin

Danielle Lewis

Sophie Lewis

LIES Journal Editorial Collective

Magally Lintzin

Munira Lokhandwala

Trisha Low

Bob Majzler

FTC Manning

Laura Martin

Corina Martinez

Sepand Mashiahof

Annie McClanahan

Jenn McCreary

Colleen McCullough

Ana McTaggert

Rola Megumi

Jake Metcalf

Kristin Miller

Nick Mitchell

Lauren Monk

Trung Nguyen

Michael Noonan

Sean O’Brien

Isobel O’Hare

Ethan Pezzolo

Andrea Quaid

Srivi Ramasubramanian

Anandi Rao

Amanda Reyes

Areli Rodriguez

Johanna Rothe

Raya Sarkar

Louis-Georges Schwartz

Anne Lesley Selcer

Sandra Simonds

Sara Smith-Silverman

Joni Spigler

Oki Sogumi

Eleni Stecopoulos

Christina Stevenson

Judy Thorne

Katrina Tosh

Sarah Tosh

Wendy Trevino

Claire Urbanski

Gowri Vijayakumar

Anika Walke

Chris Westcott

Emma Wheeler

Brian Whitener

Ki Won Yoon

Janice Worthen

Statement 1

In the spring of 2013 I traveled from the east coast where I live to go to a symposium in my field, literature, on the west coast. On the first night of the symposium a party was held at the house of friends that I was staying with. Another friend, B, also from out of town and one of my closest friends of many years was also staying in this house and we were sharing a mattress on the floor of the living area in the downstairs part of the house where the party was. The people who lived in the house including another very close friend, and another two guests were sleeping upstairs in the bedrooms.

The party started at 6 and went on for many hours until the last people left the house around dawn. I had performed earlier in the night and drank some hard liquor at the beginning of the party, which always makes me drunk. However because it affects me so much I stopped drinking it at a certain point and was definitely sober by the end of the night almost 12 hours later.

GB an acquaintance, a friend of friends arrived late in the night when I was already sobering for a while and my memory of all of this is very clear.

GB hit on me over the course of the night but I ignored it and talked to the many friends I had at this party. Then when it was very late and B and I were preparing for bed and almost everyone was gone he tried to kiss me and I kissed him back.  However it did not go further than kissing.

He asked would I have sex with him in the living room of the house still full of some other people. I said no and you should go now. He asked again repeatedly and I kept saying no, just go home now. Everyone had left now by this point and the hosts were asleep upstairs.

B and I got into bed and closed the pocket doors that did not lock separating the room we were staying in from the rest of the house. I went to sleep so tired assuming he had left.  I awoke some time later to feel him against me in the bed, his penis erect through his pants and touching my body. I immediately jumped up and said no you have to leave the house now.  He argued with me a little and then B woke up and he started to leave.

She said go follow him and say goodbye to make sure he leaves and I did. In a sleep daze and not totally cognizant of what just happened I hugged and kissed him just once as you might kiss a relative. He left.

I got back into bed half asleep as it must have been 4:30 am by this point and closed the pocket doors again and went back to sleep with her.

Some time later I awoke to see him back in the room and taking off all his clothes to get back into bed with me.  This image of him naked and erect and looming over the bed is so awful to me now and is one reason I did not want to write this account.

B woke up again and we made him leave. I think I pushed a chair against the door at this point. I went back to sleep although couldn’t get to sleep for a while. The only reason I did not feel terrified was because B was there and there were many other people asleep in the house. Still it was unnerving as in my nerves started to come off and I felt numb.

The next day I told this story to the people in the house. I am certain that everyone remembers this awful event and would if needed second my account as would B who remembers it the same way as me and had had nothing to drink. I remember one of the people I told the next day saying “I want to break his knees.”

The worst part of this for me is that I realize I was prey for him. Sometime recently before this I had been sexually assaulted, molested. I never talked about this but had come to this other coast in part to get away from that. However I see now that he must have unconsciously recognized all that confusion, brutality, shame, boundarylessness and vulnerability on me. Being a shape that is already stolen. I understand now that I was literal traumatized prey in this time and it is most certainly why he decided to zero in on me that night out of all the other women at the party.

This makes me sick thinking of what he might do to those he apprehends as even more vulnerable prey.  I was a thirty something year old woman in a different discipline. I had never been his student, needed nothing from him, did not admire him or want his approval in any way and was not in any kind of power structure with him besides patriarchy.

What might he do to an 18-year-old undergrad, to a grad student who needs many professional things from him? Having taught professionally myself for many years in higher education I am totally aware of the power relation that teaching ALWAYS is and the transference and countertransference that is always present. I am writing this now although it gives me so much anxiety and I am literally afraid of him and how he might retaliate physically violently or professionally against me or my friends because I know for sure that if he had such a feeling of permission with me, what doors, locks, voices, social norms and bodies might he bypass to violate what the academy situates in the position of much more susceptible, isolated and to a larger degree trapped permanently in the structure without witnesses prey?

It makes me sick to think about it.

Since this time four years ago I realize suddenly writing this I have not had any kind of sexual relationship with any men of any kind. Between the time of the sexual assault and this encounter with GB I had dated a lovely man who later moved to Europe. But since this incident with GB nothing at all with any man at all. Nine months after this violation as the numbness was wearing off I was in an artist colony with a man who tried to flirt with me and was sleeping in the same building that night in another room. I locked the door, pushed a chair in front of it and slept in my clothes for the next three nights. I only took a shower after a few days when I knew he was gone and also locked that shower door. I realize that this over anxious extreme reaction was a delayed reaction to what had transpired with GB.

I feel certain now that had I been alone in the house or even that room that night in that spring Gopal Balakrishnan would have raped me.

Statement 2

GB has never harassed or assaulted me, but, as someone who has shared a university social scene with him for years, I have witnessed his behavior toward women and younger students, as well as his drug and alcohol use. I feel that what I have seen over the years helps place his behavior in context, and also shows that this behavior has been allowed to continue because it exists within a broader culture that protects and enables it.

As a first year graduate student at UCSC, I fell into a circle of undergrad and grad students who were involved in student activism and socialized together outside of school. Many of these students took courses in History of Consciousness. I took a class with GB and we all went out to the bar together afterward on a weekly basis. Regular bar nights included undergrads, grads, and sometimes faculty, but the only faculty member who regularly socialized with us was GB. It seemed like he was more than just a professor who was having an occasional drink with students: his graduate students, a group of three or four men, were his friends and main form of socializing. He interacted with graduate and undergraduate students as though we were all just peers hanging out. At the time, even though I feel like I should have known better, I thought this lack of boundaries was a positive sign, showing that we had created a culture where age and status didn’t really matter. Looking back, I feel more uncomfortable. I think GB thrived in situations where hierarchies appeared nonexistent, while in actuality his age and position in the university gave him a kind of authority and allure among much younger and more impressionable students.

Drug and alcohol use and abuse were a central part of this socializing. Several of GB’s graduate students confided in me that they felt pressured by him to come out to the bar with him, and to do drugs. They told me he repeatedly offered them drugs, and seemed to want and need company while he did them. My boyfriend at the time, an undergrad senior, on several occasions went out with GB and other undergraduates and graduates and ended up doing cocaine at GB’s house. I also knew a freshman 18-year-old man who got cocaine from GB.

I would not feel the need to share this information about drug and alcohol use if I did not feel like it was an important part of the culture GB has created around him. All of the accounts I have been told about GB violating women’s boundaries take place in environments where drinking and/or drugs is taking place, and often where the alcohol and drug use is also taking place among a mixed group of undergraduates, graduate students, and GB.

When I first started going to the bar and talking to GB, I got a pretty strong feeling that he was flirting with me. At first I was honestly flattered that someone like him had noticed me. I started to feel a little uncomfortable when other graduate students mentioned things: that he was actually engaged but took his engagement ring off when he went to the bar; that he unfortunately “wasn’t great with women.” These things were said to me by male graduate students or former students of his, in a way that suggested that it was kind of “sketchy” but not a big deal. Generally, his behavior was talked about in that way. Their minimization, combined with the fact that they all continued to socialize with him and considered him a friend and even mentor, sent a clear message: this behavior in no way threatens GB’s position in this social and academic scene. There was a strong feeling of a “boys club”: a core group of 4-5 graduate student men that were usually with him, and that formed the center of a larger orbit. Among them, they had significant access to academic resources, at least from the point of view of an undergraduate or even your ordinary graduate student: powerful professor mentors, access to academic journals and publishing opportunities, and serving as teaching assistants for classes that many radical young students were eager to take.

I finally cooled toward GB when I saw him, along with a group of graduate students, one night in San Francisco, where I lived. After a group of us met at the bar, we went to a party together, and then GB and a male graduate student of his invited me back to the hotel where the two of them were staying. That night at the bar both GB and this other graduate student had been hitting on me, even though I had a boyfriend, who was also an acquaintance of theirs. I very much felt that the invitation had a sexual overtone to it, and felt pretty uncomfortable. I turned down the invitation, even though GB repeated it several times and tried to persuade me.

One of the last times I socialized with that group of people was off campus, at a grad student’s birthday party. GB was there, as were a number of undergrads. The next day I was told by a close friend that her friend, an undergraduate who was also his student at the time, had been cornered by him at the party, and that he had tried to kiss her. The only reason he did not succeed was that she moved out of the way at the last moment in order to avoid his touch. That was the last straw for me and after that I stopped interacting with most of that group altogether.

Statement 3

In the spring of —– I was a graduate student at a party with GB and others from the History of Consciousness department. He invited me to a room to do cocaine with him and others. When I got to the room he was in it alone. I asked him where everyone else was and when they were coming to join us. I felt already very intimidated by the situation, and instinctually I felt concerned that something bad was about to happen to me. He told me that no one else was coming and that “it would just be us in here.” He stood in front of the door, blocking me from leaving. I told him I wanted to go to the restroom, ran out, grabbed my bag from the living room, and ran for several blocks. I walked home feeling totally terrified.

A few days later, I approached two of my friends – a current and prospective student – about how uncomfortable I felt and how scary it was. I wanted to warn them that he had intimidated me, thinking that could happen to others as well. One of my friends told me “you’re not even his type, though.” The other told me that if I said this to anyone else, he would ruin all of our lives.

Soon after, I heard secondhand that a History of Consciousness graduate student described me as “too ugly to rape.” I heard that details about my family and previous sexual partners were being used to discredit my concerns. I heard that I was “exaggerating” how I felt at the time of the incident. Another History of Consciousness graduate student told me that GB was “too fucked up” at the time to fulfill an assault, even if that was his intention, implying (through a bizarre logical inversion) that he was not in a position to consent to breaching my consent.

Sometime later, another faculty member approached me about the “gossip” that was going on around me. This was a faculty member I trusted and respected, and whose approval I really wanted to have. This faculty member told me that I needed to stop talking about this, and did not want to know the details of what my experience had been. This faculty member is now affiliated with the Humanities Faculty email thread, in which complainants were urged to follow “due process” – despite the implicit threat that, in doing so, they would become potentially affiliated with the campus graffiti and leafleting which they strongly condemned. That this faculty member in a private, undocumented context intimidated me into doing the precise opposite makes this even more threatening to me at a personal level.

I spent time blaming myself for what had happened, second-guessing my own sense of unsafety, and believing the message which I read loudly and clearly: I was not even worth assaulting.

I feel angry with myself that I was silenced, and for how I folded under the intimidation of other faculty and graduate students. And yet I still feel that if I were to disclose my name to people around me in relation to this account, that I would be met with the same dismissal and more threats.

Statement 4

I was one of Gopal’s students. During the duration of his course he would call me to invite me out to bars. I did not give him my phone number, and I am not sure how he got it, but I have since wondered if he took it from a sign-up sheet where he collected student contact information. I never accepted an invitation. I was very careful when interacting with him as I had heard accounts of him making advances on other students and had no interest in blurring the line between student and professor.

As the end of the quarter approached I asked Gopal if I could come to his office hours to review my final paper. He did not have office hours listed. I asked him a few times what day and time I could come to his office and he just said he would let me know. Finally, on a weekend he texted me and asked me if I wanted to meet to review my paper. I asked him what coffee shop we should meet at and he told me he would just come get me and asked for my address. I hesitantly gave it to him. He came and picked me up drove me around Santa Cruz for a bit while I wondered where we were going. He drove me around by the beach cliffs, which is far from my house, but then ended up taking me to a restaurant that is only a few blocks from my house. As we sat down I realized he hadn’t really read my paper, he paged through it a couple times and gave me very little feedback. He told me to order food. I didn’t order food as I was there solely to receive feedback. Afterward he drove me home and dropped me off.

Even though I tried my hardest to set boundaries and not spend time with him off campus he still manipulated the circumstances to make this the case.

I felt very uncomfortable by the way in which Gopal related to me and other students. He is fully aware of the power dynamics between him and his students and not only disregards them, but is willing and does disrespect his female students’ boundaries. He should not hold a position of power as he consistently abuses it. There are many accounts other than mine that exemplify this behavior. Furthermore, I feel quite disgusted with the response of some of the History of Consciousness faculty. Their attempts to vilify and discredit students is nothing short of perpetuating an institutionalized power structure that allows for this kind of misogynistic behavior to be taking place in and outside of our classrooms.

Statement 5

I was a Freshmen at UC Santa Cruz the year of the 2009 student movement.  I was introduced to GB as the “down” Marxist professor. Students of the movement were really enamored with him, and it was a must to take his classes. The upsetting thing about this was that everyone knew he was creepy to women. It seemed to be tolerable to everyone because he was a Marxist and supported the student movement.  I remember being at the Stevenson coffee shop, and being told he had slept with one of his female students, I remember being told accounts, by multiple friends, of their boundaries being crossed by him at parties or in office hours. I remember distinctly trying to get into his class the spring of my freshmen year, and being told to wear a low-cut shirt when I went to talk to him about it.  When I lived off campus, I remember that he attended some parties at my house. I remember that he did cocaine in my roommate’s room and gave some to my 18 year old boyfriend.

While I didn’t experience anything personally with Gopal, I was very affected by the “Boy’s Club” circle that he was a leader of. Professors and Grad students who were part of the movement, were able to act openly as sexual predators because they knew we would hold those secrets so as to protect the professors who “support the movement.” If we were to come forward about GB, we would be blamed for UCSC losing one of its few Marxist professors. We were pressured to settle, and believe that we should not be demanding, at the University, Marxist professors who were against patriarchy in their politics and praxis. Another thing I experienced was how this culture influenced women and gender non binary folks in terms of access.  GB and his grad students would look for young men to take into their boy’s club, keeping the academic advancement and social capital to their own, and furthering the violence of unaccountability. This was a space where men, who did not want to be accountable to women and GNB folks, could advance academically and be seen as credible in the movement. At the same time, this culture pushed women and GNB folks to the margins- knowing they could not succeed, unless, of course, they condoned the actions of these men, putting themselves and their women and GNB friends at risk of sexual violence and trauma.

Statement 6

In 2012, in Oakland, I met Gopal after an event. I believe it was at the Niebyl-Proctor Library. He was with two friends of mine who are tenured professors at different universities. I had come with a friend who had just graduated college and moved to Oakland, and I remember that, as we were all talking, I kept wondering if I was imagining things or if Gopal was really hitting on me and my friend at the same time.

We didn’t talk long. The friends with Gopal said they were tired and ready to go home, and me and the friend I’d come with were planning on meeting up with more friends at a local bar. Gopal said he’d be interested in meeting up with us later at the bar. Even though I thought he might have been hitting on both me and my friend earlier, which made me uncomfortable, I also thought 1.) I might have gotten the wrong impression; 2.) in that context, there was nothing really wrong with him hitting on two people at the same time; 3.) he must not be a bad guy if he was hanging out with the friends of mine he was with. So, I gave him my number and said he could text us later to find out what bar we were at.

No more than 45 minutes later, me & the friend who’d gone with me to the Niebyl-Proctor event were standing outside a bar in Oakland with friends who hadn’t gone to the event, when I got a text from one of the friends who had been at the event with Gopal. The text said something like, “Is Gopal still hitting on you?” I texted back something about how I’d thought he was hitting on both me and my friend and that it was good to know my perception wasn’t off. The friend texted back something about Gopal being a “creep” or a “jerk” and about how they didn’t understand why the other friend who’d been with Gopal would still hang out with him. I think I texted something like “Good to know” or something like that back. And it was good to know because later, when Gopal did text to find out where me and my friend were, I didn’t respond.

Statement 7

I first encountered GB in 2005 and 2006 shortly after he came to UC Santa Cruz. Due to his publishing history, his position with History of Consciousness, and the deference paid to him by respected “radical” faculty members at UCSC, he immediately had a great deal of clout among circles of politically active graduate students and undergraduates. In particular, he began to spend a great deal of time at a local bar frequented by such students, often staying at the bar until closing. In that context a standing joke emerged regarding GB’s propensity for discounting or dismissing the thoughts of women in social settings. This experience replicated the dynamics witnessed by many people in academic settings, in which GB tended to silence or shut-down perspectives put forth by women. Sadly, those dynamics were far from unique to GB’s classroom and conference tendencies, but were particularly pronounced in his case. The gist of the joke was that the bar had become his personal symposium space, and that women weren’t allowed to contribute.

It was not uncommon at that time for GB to invite people back to his house after the bar closed. My impression was that he lived alone at that time, and, unlike most young people in my orbit, was unconcerned about bothering housemates or neighbors with late night noise. His lifestyle appeared quite glamorous to many people in my cohort. My personal experience of attending these late night parties consisted primarily of heavy drinking and occasional dancing. However, hard drugs, such as pills and cocaine, were generally present as well. On multiple occasions I witnessed GB offering cocaine to young women. On at least one of these occasions a young woman known to me as one of GB’s current undergraduate students accepted these drugs. I do not recall whether there was inappropriate or non-consensual sexual interactions with that particular student, but certainly there was a general sense that GB was interested in having young women stay the night, many of whom would have included undergraduate students.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that at the time I was less concerned about the safety of young women in GB’s presence, who appeared to me to be fully capable of asserting their needs and desires, and more concerned about the likelihood that this sort of behavior would reflect poorly on the History of Consciousness department and the broader circle of political radicals at UC Santa Cruz. In particular, these patterns of behavior very closely replicated those of another faculty member from the Literature department whose actions had recently resulted in a fair amount of concern from the administration and beyond. Due largely to those concerns, I brought up the situation with a senior faculty member who was known to be something of a mentor for GB. This faculty member asked that I keep such concerns quiet, specifically asking that I not take my concerns to official channels, and made a commitment to discuss the behavior with GB. I had brought these concerns to this faculty member in confidence, in the hope that GB’s behavior would be reigned in without resulting in crisis. I do not know whether the faculty member I spoke with ever attempted to address these concerns, but shortly after this discussion I began to receive a great deal of hostility from GB in social settings, leading me to believe that this faculty member had broken my confidence and left me open to retaliation from GB. Worse, nothing was done about GB’s pattern of behavior. In subsequent years I witnessed at a distance as this pattern of behavior became more pronounced, and heard many rumors that he had sexually harassed or sexually assaulted women, including some of his students. This pattern was so pronounced as to become a standard warning for incoming femme graduate students in the humanities. I know of numerous people who took these concerns to faculty members, all of whom were told to keep the concerns quiet, and none of whom felt that the concerns were dealt with. Several of them suspect that they were targeted for retaliation, and all of them felt that they could not safely participate in History of Consciousness courses or events. In my view this reflects an institutional atmosphere in which insulating powerful faculty members from criticism is more valued than the emotional and physical safety of students. Indeed, the motives behind my initial response to this situation reflect the degree to which, through association with this institution, I had unconsciously absorbed this same set of inverted ethical priorities.

*For inquiries or to add a first-person account, please email [email protected]*

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Before Himachal, youth offered to rig EVMs for Nanded civic polls: police

The 21-year-old has reportedly told interrogators that he was preparing for the civil services examinations.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |

himachal pradesh elections, Nanded civic polls, pune student sedition charge, pune student arrested, evm tamperingAccording to Shimla police, Rathod repeated the modus operandi for Himachal Pradesh polls. (Representational Image)

THE 21-year-old Maharashtra man arrested for allegedly offering to rig electronic voting machines (EVMs) to make 34 candidates from different parties win in the recent Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections had allegedly made similar offers to 37 candidates in Nanded civic elections, held on October 11, according to Nanded police.

According to officers, their probe has found that the accused, Sachin Dutta Rathod, a resident of Kinwat taluka of Maharashtra’s Nanded district, used a SIM card stolen in Nanded and a phone stolen from Mumbai to make these calls.

Rathod, who graduated in political science from a Pune college in 2016, was arrested by Nanded police in Kinwat. He has now been handed to Shimla police for further probe in his second alleged con attempt .

The 21-year-old has reportedly told interrogators that he was preparing for the civil services examinations.

According to the police, investigation has found that Rathod sent messages to 37 candidates of Nanded-Waghala Municipal Corporation on October 7, posing as an officer from the Election Commission. In the message, he allegedly claimed he would help them win the elections by rigging EVMs. He allegedly sought Rs 10 lakh in return, the police said.

According to Nanded SP Chandrakishor Meena, not one of the 37 corporators who received Rathod’s messages, including the outgoing mayor and deputy mayor, responded. Rathod was booked for cheating and theft and under sections of Information Technology Act.

Inspector Sandeep Gurme of the local crime branch of Nanded police said, “His (the youth’s) interrogation has revealed that he got the idea from newspaper reports and television crime shows.”

According to Shimla police, Rathod repeated the modus operandi for Himachal Pradesh polls. Investigating officer Raghu Tomar said, “Rathod sent messages and made calls to 34 candidates of various parties. None of them responded.”

Himachal Pradesh police have invoked IPC Section 124A (sedition) along with sections dealing with impersonation and cheating. Asked why sedition was invoked, Tomar said, “We will give that answer in court.”

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UIDAI orders probe against Bharti Airtel for alleged #Aadhaar Act violations


  • UIDAI has ordered an investigation against Bharti Airtel for alleged violations of the Aadhaar Act.
  • UIDAI had initially served a showcause notice to Airtel as complaints of violations against the company’s ground staff were highlighted.
  • The matter came to the fore when payments related to cooking gas subsidy landed into the Airtel Payments Bank account for some customers.

File photoFile photo

NEW DELHI: Authority of India (UIDAI) has ordered an investigation against Bharti Airtel for alleged violations of the Aadhaar Act and is threatening to slap a financial penalty for opening Airtel Payments Bank accounts of customers surreptitiously while carrying out Aadhaar verification of their mobile numbers. The probe against the company was ordered after complaints of prima facie violations were found to be valid, sources told TOI.

“The lapses are serious in nature. Prima facie, it is a criminal breach of trust and contract, and there are violations of provisions of the Aadhaar Act,” said a source, who did not wish to be identified. The matter came to the fore when payments related to cooking gas subsidy landed into the Airtel Payments Bank account for some customers, and not in their pre-designated savings bank accounts with other banks.

Most of them complained against the transfer and said that they were unaware of Airtel Payments Bank accounts, which they alleged had been opened without their authorisation or knowledge. The subsidy amount — sent under the central government’s Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme — is estimated at over Rs 40 crore. After being tipped off, UIDAI had initially served a showcause notice to Airtel as complaints of violations against the company’s ground staff were highlighted.

When contacted, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the authority has received complaints of wrongdoing against “certain telecom companies” during the Aadhaar verification process. “We have ordered an investigation into the matter. If the allegations are found to be true, after a thorough investigation, then they are of a very serious nature,” Pandey told TOI, but did not identify the operator.

“An inquiry is on, and we expect to take adecision on the matter soon,” Pandey added. When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson denied any wrongdoing by the company, but added that it is working with its retail partners to strengthen processes and ensure transparency.

“Airtel Payments Bank is fully compliant with all guidelines and follows a stringent customer on-boarding process. Airtel Payments Bank accounts are opened only after explicit consent from the customer. A separate consent for DBT is taken from all customers,” the company said in response to a detailed questionnaire.

Most of them complained against the transfer and said that they were unaware of Airtel Payments Bank accounts, which they alleged had been opened without their authorisation or knowledge. The subsidy amount — sent under the central government’s Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme — is estimated at over Rs 40 crore. After being tipped off, UIDAI had initially served a showcause notice to Airtel as complaints of violations against the company’s ground staff were highlighted.

When contacted, UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey said that the authority has received complaints of wrongdoing against “certain telecom companies” during the Aadhaar verification process. “We have ordered an investigation into the matter. If the allegations are found to be true, after a thorough investigation, then they are of a very serious nature,” Pandey told TOI, but did not identify the operator.

“An inquiry is on, and we expect to take adecision on the matter soon,” Pandey added. When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson denied any wrongdoing by the company, but added that it is working with its retail partners to strengthen processes and ensure transparency.

“Airtel Payments Bank is fully compliant with all guidelines and follows a stringent customer on-boarding process. Airtel Payments Bank accounts are opened only after explicit consent from the customer. A separate consent for DBT is taken from all customers,” the company said in response to a detailed questionnaire.


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India – #Aadhaar project violates vital principles on data collection and storage

Rethink Aadhaar cautiously welcomes the Sri Krishna Committee White Paper which has been shared for public comments and inputs. This marks an important first step in a more transparent and accountable pre-legislative process.

Rethink Aadhaar wrote to the Srikrishna committee on the 5 November 2017 expressing its concern with the constitution of the committee. 22 concerned citizens from across the country signed this letter including, ex-Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, AP Shah, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, Privacy Petitioners, Maj Gen (retd) SG Vombatkere, Prof Anupam Saraph and Aruna Roy, Senior Advocates Prashant Bhushan and Indira Jaising, former Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Prof Tarlochan Sastry and Prof Jagdeep Chokkhar of the Association for Democratic Reforms among several Information activists.

The Srikrishna committee was constituted on 31 July 2017 to identify issues related to data protection and to formulate a Data Protection Bill.

Our earlier letter highlighted the fact that the Committee the present composition of the committee is problematic insofar as all its members, except Justice Srikrishna, have pronounced professional and personal views in support of the Aadhaar program and its extension into areas that it was not designed for.

We are disappointed that the composition of the committee remains unchanged. 

Experts who have expressed independent and critical views on Aadhaar have not been co-opted by the committee. This could still be possible in the future and we hope the Committee will keep this in mind.

A mandatory and coercive Aadhaar project has led to millions of Indian citizens being enrolled into the world’s largest biometric identification project.

Issues of surveillance, welfare, national security, and Private companies and their access to this data is becoming crucial. Massive data collection proliferates unregulated.

On a first and rapid reading of the report we find that the White Paper expresses deep caution when dealing with data – its collection use and storage. We do not think that the Aadhaar project will survive this increased scrutiny and caution. It is in fact clear that the Aadhaar project, since its inception, has already violated many principles expressed in the white paper. 

The deliberations of the Srikrishna Committee are vital for our collective future and the shape of the Data Protection law. The white paper is a first step in what we hope is increased transparency in these deliberations. As we read this document and begin writing our suggestions and responses we hope that many people will join in with these deliberations. It is important that we all engage with this process as it shapes our digital futures.

Link to the Government of India white paper on a data protection legislative framework in India,  inviting comments by December 31, 2017:

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One in 10 drugs sold in developing countries fake or substandard – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says one in 10 drugs sold in developing countries is fake or substandard, leading to tens of thousands of deaths, many of them of African children given ineffective treatments for pneumonia and malaria.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Photo credit: AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI / Getty Images

In a major review of the problem, the WHO said that bogus drugs are a growing threat as increased pharmaceutical trade, including internet sales, open the door to sometimes toxic products.

Some pharmacists in Africa, for example, say that they are compelled to buy from the cheapest but not necessarily the safest suppliers to compete with illegal street traders.

Fake drugs could contain incorrect doses, wrong ingredients or no active ingredients at all.

At the same time, a worrying number of authorised medicines fail to meet quality standards because of improper storage and other issues.

The scale of the problem is hard to quantify precisely, but a WHO pooled analysis of 100 studies from 2007 to 2016, covering more than 48,000 samples, showed 10.5 per cent of drugs in low and middle-income countries to be fake or substandard.

With pharmaceutical sales in such countries running at nearly $300 billion a year, this implies that trade in fake medicines is a $30 billion-business.

The human toll is enormous, according to a team from the University of Edinburgh, which was commissioned by the WHO to study the impact of fake drugs.

They calculated that up to 72,000 deaths from childhood pneumonia could be attributed to the use of antibiotics with reduced activity, increasing to 169,000 deaths if drugs had no activity.

Poor-quality drugs also add to the danger of antibiotic resistance, threatening to undermine the power of life-saving medicines in future.

Another group from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimated that 116,000 additional deaths from malaria could be caused each year by bad anti-malarials in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Substandard and falsified medicines particularly affect the most vulnerable communities,” said WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus.

“This is unacceptable.”

Since 2013, the WHO has received 1,500 reports of fake and low-quality products, with anti-malarials and antibiotics the most commonly reported categories.

However, the problem extends to everything from cancer drugs to contraceptive pills.

Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 42 per cent of all the reports.

There was no global reporting of this data before 2013

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Gujarat elections : Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani to contest as an independent from Vadgam

Jignesh Mevani

Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani on Monday filed his nomination as an independent candidate from the Vadgam seat in Banaskantha and was backed by the Congress who holds the seat at present. Mevani, who declared his intention via a Facebook post, also appealed to other political parties including the Congress to back him so that they could defeat the BJP together for its 22-years of misrule.

His post read..”We need to expose the 22-year misrule of the BJP and so it should be a direct fight between me and the BJP. I request other political parties and independents to withdraw so that it is a direct contest.”

Both the Congress and the AAP obliged Mevani. The Congress obliged him as the party did not declare a candidate for Vadgam in the final list of 14 candidates the party released on the last day of filing nominations.

The Vadam seat is reserved as a Scheduled Caste one.

Mevani said he decided to plunge into politics ‘yesterday’ after he continued to get calls from friends across Gujarat asking him to contest the polls. “Members of my own community, Muslims and even Patidars have appealed to me to contest the polls. I decided to heed their request,” said Mevani.

On why he appealed to other political parties, Mevani said it was important to defeat the BJP. “The BJP has ignored Dalits, Muslims and other vulnerable communities. It is time to end their misrule and it is a must that all of us to come together to fight a common enemy,” said Mevani.

On why he chose Vadgam to contest, he said it was a hub of Dalit strength. “During the Una agitation too, we found a lot of support here,” said Mevani.

The seat has a majority of Thakors and Dalits who come in the OBC and Scheduled Caste category.

It should be noted that during Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Gujarat, Mevani met the Congress leader to press for justice for Dalits he had, however, continued to maintain that he wasn’t joining any party or contesting elections.

The AAP too has decided not to field a candidate from Vadgam, although the party had already declared candidates for 33 seats by November 20 and no new declarations were to be expected. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal also sent his wishes to Mevani for the upcoming battle.

Mevani shot into limelight after he led an agitation by Dalits following the Una incident, in which seven Dalit men were severely beaten up by Gau Rakshaks for allegedly skinning a cow on July 11. The seven were tied to a car and beaten with rods and belts, a video of which went viral, causing large scale protests by Dalits in the state.

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Greenpeace Sounds Alarm on Nuclear Safety with New Break-In


A group of Greenpeace activists broke into a French nuclear plant on Tuesday and scaled the walls of a building containing spent nuclear fuel to highlight security shortcomings at the facility.

Around 20 activists took part in the latest stunt by the environmental campaign group aimed at showing that France’s 58 nuclear reactors are vulnerable to attack.

The group said the protest at Cruas-Meysse plant in the southeastern Ardeche region, which has four reactors, proved that security around spent nuclear fuel pools was particularly lacking.

Four activists scaled one of the buildings containing pools used to cool highly radioactive spent fuel rods and set off flares.

“All you need to do is make a hole (in the building) to start a fire,” Yannick Rousselet, Greenpeace France’s chief anti-nuclear campaigner told AFP.

France’s state-owned energy giant EDF which operates the plant confirmed the intrusion but said that the plant’s safety was never in danger.

Regional security officials said 22 people were arrested, adding they had posed no threat.

The incident is the second of its kind in as many months.

In October, Greenpeace activists got inside a nuclear plant in Cattenom, near the border with Luxembourg, and set off fireworks at the foot of a spent fuel pool.

France is the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, with atomic plants providing 75 percent of the country’s electricity.

Around a third of all reactors in the country are set to be closed by 2025 under a government plan to boost renewables.

In a report in October Greenpeace noted that most of France’s nuclear plants were built before the rise of threats from non-state terror groups such as the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda and claimed that their defences were weak.

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India – 84% of disabled seats unfilled at top varsities, shows survey

New Delhi: Thirty-two of India’s top universities and institutions of higher learning, including IITs, IIMs, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University, have together filled up barely 16% of the minimum quota for persons with disabilities, a survey has revealed. Exposing the appalling failure of the government in implementing the 1995 Disability Act — which fixed the mandatory 3% quota — the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP) found that these institutions had just 1,614 disabled persons out of a student population of 3.33 lakh, which is just 0.48% of the total. Worse, women with disabilities constituted a mere 28% of the disabled students in these institutions, the survey found.

Laws and policies are meaningless if colleges and universities are not accessible to persons with disabilities, said Javed Abidi, honorary director of NCPEDP. “These are the top 50 national institutions. Imagine what it would be like in other colleges and universities across India,” he said.

Abidi said since the state of education was so bad, “obviously the employment rate of people with disabilities gets affected. There is hardly any supply chain.” NCPEDP conducted the survey from August to November 2017, beginning with attempts to source data on representation of students with disabilities in India’s campuses. Some of the other institutions covered were University of Hyderabad, Benaras Hindu University, Aligarh Muslim University, Punjab University and Goa University.

It found that of the disabled students, 71.8% were male while 28.19% were female. NCPEDP has been pointing out for a long time that girls with disabilities were doubly disadvantaged.

Higher edu funding body OKs projects worth 2,000 crore for 6 top institutions

The Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), on Wednesday, approved projects worth Rs 2,066.73 crore for six higher education institutions — IITs of Bombay, Delhi, Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur and NIT Suratkal. Mandated to provide additional funds for research and related infrastructure, HEFA held its second meeting on Wednesday and approved funding for the six institutions. The money will be used to improve research infrastructure in these institutions to further improve their standing at the global level. TNN

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Ivanka-ji, Are You President Of Amrika

Shubha De-
Ivankaji, welcome to our humble country…

Madam (we address all white people as ‘madam’ in India), I am a little confused. Are you or are you not the President sahiba of Amrika? I think so, you must be! How much ‘shaan’ and show there was for you in Hyderabad! Mashallah! More than for Britain ki Rani. But little less than for Britain ki Diana. We like blonde ladies in India. That is why, most of our fillum stars and rich-rich people’s wives are blonde. I had read somewhere long, long ago, that blondes have more fun. I think so you are having lots of fun, madamji, flying here, flying there, meeting kings and prime ministers (in our humble country, king and prime minister is same-same – one man, playing double role). We were so happy, so happy that such a great lady, looking like a Barbie doll, was honouring us by attending a meeting. Sooooo much security, madam, I was thinking, “Who is this VVIP coming to Hyderabad?” Every television channel I watched was only showing a tall, beautiful, blonde lady. But sorry, Madam, I didn’t know your name, and was not sure who you are or why you were coming here.

Living in Hyderabad makes one a little lazy. We live in our own world. Our men all think and behave like nawabs and nizams. Our women are like pampered begums. For centuries we have lived this way. We like our life. But suddenly, there was too much activity in our city. I was told to lock up my dog. And dress better while going on the road. I asked, “Why?” Someone said, the Chief Minister wants to impress this blonde lady from Amrika. He has ordered all stray dogs to be removed from the streets. I felt sad, madam. What harm can these poor dogs do to you? Then I was told all beggars had also been removed along with the dogs. Madam, I am a respectable person, not a beggar. But who can take a chance these days? Policewallas can pick up anybody and lock!

modi ivanka 650

Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hyderabad

Anyway, I asked all those bandookwala police people guarding the streets, why there was so much high securitybandobast, for a blonde lady, who is not the President of Amrika. I was told not to ask stupid questions because she could become the next President. Ho! Nakki! And that is why we have to be on her right side. Achcha. We must always be prepared in life.

For some time my phone signal was jammed, and I could not call my children. I had made shiny, costly, new clothes for a big family wedding. Now those clothes were going to be wasted. My neighbour said over one lakh weddings were booked to take place before 30th November in Hyderabad. After that date, punditjis, have declared there is illey muhuratamtill 2018. Now Madam, this is India, okay? We marry like this only – good muhuratum and all that. In Amrika, it is different – anybody can marry anybody, any time.

Anyway, good you came, and saw for yourself. But madam, how you can take our world famous biryani’s name so lightly? We take our biryani very seriously. Maybe you are dieting and not appreciating our sentiments. Food and cinema are sensitive matters in India, madam. But thank God, you didn’t make any remark about “Padmavati”. We feel hurt and angry very easily, madam. As Sushmaji, may have told you, woman to woman, when you strolled hand-in-hand with her. Frankly, Sushmaji looked smarter than you in her red saree and jacket, even though she is not blonde.

ivanka sushma twitter 650

Ivanka Trump and Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj

On a serious note, madam, you came, made a speech, told our women they are great and all that. But we want to know, after this, what? You saw how hospitable we are to guests. You ate a feast with so many special dishes, sitting at a table for 101 people in the Falaknuma Palace (the whole world admires this palace, it is grander than your Daddy’s White House). You wore fine silk clothes created by our desi designers. Good, good. Now you will go back and brief your Daddy (but not, Mummy) about what you saw, who you met. Daddy is a clever man. As his official advisor, you are even more clever! So, madam, what will you tell Trumpji? He will ask, “How many more towers did you manage to sell in India?” And you will reply, “I was not there to sell towers, but to empower the women of India.” Then daddy will lose interest and talk about Mexicans. It’s okay. You are doing your job. He is doing his. Together, you are both controlling the world. Jai Hind!

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Bombay HC rap for ‘insensitive’ relief plan for rape victims #Vaw

Mumbai: The state came in for criticism again for its “insensitive attitude” in framing the compensation scheme for rape victims — this time over a proposal for different levels of monetary help to be paid in case the victim was a homemaker or a working woman.

Under a provision of the Manodhairya scheme, legal heirs of a working woman who was raped and murdered would get Rs 10 lakh compensation while Rs 5 lakh would be paid to her family if the victim was a homemaker.

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Mahesh Sonak rapped the state for the blatant discrimination between a working and non-working woman and remarked that “services of a homemaker could not be valued in money”.

Following criticism, state advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said the amount would be raised to Rs 10 lakh in all cases. The state framed the scheme in 2013 for compensation of up to Rs 3 lakh. The court said the amount was inadequate after which a panel drafted a new scheme.

The state legal services authority is authorised to receive applications for compensation. The authority can disburse Rs 30,000 in seven days of an application as emergency aid.

The decision on final compensation must be made in 120 days. The state said that in rape cases where the victim has turned hostile, the relief will be recovered after trial.

The court has scheduled further hearing of the case on Friday and asked the state to file an affidavit. TNN

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