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Archives for : November2017

Sample letter for HR of companies covering Aadhaar linkage for EPFO #mustshare

By- Anupam Saraf
Dear HR
 
In response to your drive to update Aadhaar I would like to draw your attention to the following:
 
1. More than a dozen PILs including several challenging the Aadhaar and its linking to various databases are pending before the Supreme Court. In the meantime the order dated Oct 15th 2015 of a five member bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India reiterated all its previous orders in the matter of WP(C) 494/2013 continue to hold force. In particular we draw your attention that the court  stated that:

(a) “We will also make it clear that the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other”. Anyone mandating Aadhaar would amount to a contempt of the Supreme Court of India.


 
(b) “We impress upon the Union of India that it shall strictly follow all the earlier orders passed by this Court commencing from 23.09.2013”.

(c)  In its first order of September 23, 2013  court had highlighted that “In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for  not  getting the Aadhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had  issued a circular making it mandatory”. No-one can cause any person to suffer inspite of any authority having mandated Aadhaar. Any discontinuation of contribution towards Employees’ Pension Scheme cannot be made to Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) would amount to causing suffering and a contempt of the Supreme Court of India.
 
2. Furthermore section 7 of the The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016  states  that “Provided that if an Aadhaar number is not assigned to an individual, the individual shall be offered alternate and viable means of identification for delivery of the subsidy, benefit or service.” I have not been assigned an Aadhaar and have already provided many alternate means of identification on the basis of which you have been contributing to  Employees’ Pension Scheme to Employees’ Provident Fund Organization (EPFO).
 
3. Furthermore, the use of Aadhaar for linking to other databases, retention, storage or publishing is not only not permitted but prohibited and also a punishable offence under sections 8, 29 and 37 the The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016Anyone asking to retain, link, store or publish the Aadhaar, will be in violation of the Aadhaar Act.

I trust you will bring these facts to the attention of anyone in the Union of India or its EPFO who insist on mandating Aadhaar. I am also sure you will raise complaints and serve notices, to appropriate authorities, to protect my rights and pension contribution. I am sure you will ensure that my rights and my pension contributions do not suffer in anyway because of any coercion, contempt of the orders of the Supreme Court or violation of the The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016

 
Thanking you for your support as always,

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India – Switch off your mobiles at 11 am on 11/11 #NoMobile #NoAadhaar

 Tell Mobile Companies and Government We Are Not For Sale

Switch off your mobiles
at 11 am on 11/11

#NoMobile #NoAaadhar
Earlier this year, the government ordered us to link our mobile connections to our Aadhaar numbers or have our mobile connections cut off.

NO hesitation in jumping the gun even as the legal challenge to Aadhaar comes up for hearing in the Supreme Court!

NO qualms against violating our Constitutional right to privacy!

NO concern that telecom operators will use our data for commercial purposes!

NO protection from use of personal data for targeting and profiling!

The government can behave like this because it thinks that we citizens will not push back.
Let’s show them they’re wrong.

LET’S TELL THEM WE ARE NOT FOR SALE.

Join  #NoAadhaar #NoMobile

Switch off your mobile phone for 30 minutes at 11am on 11/11

And let’s repeat EVERY DAY for the next 30 days.

And don’t forget to send an SMS or mail to your service provider to tell them why you’re doing this.

#NoMobile30   #SwitchOff

 

Below is a template draft that you could email your mobile service provider and to TRAI:

To,

Service Provider,

In response to your drive to update Aadhaar I would like to draw your attention to the following:

1. More than a dozen PILs including several challenging the Aadhaar and its linking to various databases are pending before the Supreme Court. In the meantime the order dated Oct 15th 2015 of a five member bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India reiterated all its previous orders in the matter of WP(C) 494/2013 continue to hold force. In particular we draw your attention that the court has stated that:

(a) “We will also make it clear that the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other”.

(b) “We impress upon the Union of India that it shall strictly follow all the earlier orders passed by this Court commencing from 23.09.2013”.

(c)  In its first order of September 23, 2013  court had highlighted that “In the meanwhile, no person should suffer for  not  getting the Aadhaar card inspite of the fact that some authority had  issued a circular making it mandatory”. No-one can cause any person to suffer inspite of any authority having mandated Aadhaar. Any coercion to link would amount to causing suffering and a contempt of the Supreme Court of India.

2. Furthermore, the use of Aadhaar for linking to other databases, retention, storage or publishing is not only not permitted but prohibited and also a punishable offence under sections 8, 29 and 37 the The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016Anyone asking to retain, link, store or publish the Aadhaar, will be in violation of the Aadhaar Act.

3. I have already provided many alternate means of identification on the basis of which you have been providing the service so far.

4. Since Aadhaar was introduced in September 2010, citizens have been cut off from essential services, and there are growing concerns around big data collection and identity theft. The multiple problems surrounding Aadhaar — its data errors, “deactivation” of genuine people,  personal data exposed — have convinced me that Aadhaar linking serves no purpose except to create a surveillance over me.

I trust you will bring these facts to the attention of anyone in your organisation who insist on mandating Aadhaar. I am also sure you will raise complaints and serve notices, to appropriate authorities, to protect my rights, and ensure my rights do not suffer in any way because of coercion, and contempt of the orders of the Supreme Court, or violation of the The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act 2016

Thanks and No2UID.

Mobile Service Provider emails IDs.
Airtel: [email protected] ,
Vodafone: [email protected] ,
Jio [email protected] ,
IDEA: [email protected]
BSNL: [email protected] ,
Cellular Operators Association of India [email protected]

PLEASE MARK A COPY OF EMAIL TO

1) HONOURABLE MINISTER (LAW & JUSTICE, ELECTRONICS & INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY) [email protected]

2) TELECOM REGULATORY AUTHORITY OF INDIA [email protected] ,

3) AND SECRETARY TELECOM [email protected]

If you prefer to SMS mobile service providers to stop illegally requiring Aadhaar:

For Airtel : Please contact: Shakyasingha Das m: 9831049835 e: [email protected]
Vodafone : Please contact: Gowtham Gowda m: 9923006663 e: [email protected]
BSNL : Please contact: Siddharth Gabiyal p: 01123708125 m: 9868142999 e: [email protected]
Idea Cellular illegally requiring Aadhaar? Please contact: Rahul Vatts m: 9891005951 e: [email protected]
Reliance Jio illegally requiring Aadhaar? Please contact: Arvind Tiwari m: 9987702300 e: [email protected]
@Sushubh Aircel contact: N.L. Garg m: 9810121026 e: [email protected]

 

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 West Bengal- Ranaghat nun rape case: 1 convicted for rape, 5 for robbery #Vaw

A still image taken from CCTV footage provided by the West Bengal Police. Photo: UNI

Above: A still image taken from CCTV footage provided by the West Bengal Police. Photo: UNI

The barbaric act of rape on a 72-year-old nun in the Nadia district of West Bengal by suspected Bangladeshi infiltrators met its end on Tuesday (November 7) at a Kolkata sessions court. Sessions Judge Kumkum Sinha found one of the accused guilty of rape, with five others were charged with robbery.

While the trial process had concluded on October 30, the verdict of the quantum of punishment was not announced on the horrific incident at the Convent of Jesus and Mary that happened on March 14, 2015.

Seven people (one is absconding) broke into the convent with the intention of robbery and they not only robbed the convent of cash, but also engaged in this inhuman act of rape on the aged nun. The state CID probed the incident and arrested the five, while the sixth has eluded arrest to date.

The trial was supposed to be carried out at a court in Ranaghat, in the same district, but it was shifted to the Kolkata sessions court in May 2016 by the Calcutta High Court when the nun petitioned the higher court. The nun had said that she feared for life, because she believed that the accused had a base in Ranaghat and could not only influence the investigation, but also made her feel unsafe. The nun had also moved to Delhi after the incident.

The state government had taken a serious stance on this incident and had transferred the case to the CID.

The charges leveled have been gang-rape, dacoity, attempt to cause death or grievous hurt, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means and criminal conspiracy.

The six guilty, as declared by the sessions judge, are: Milan Kumar Sarkar, Ohidul Islam, Mohd Selim Sheikh, Nazrul Islam, Khaledar Rahman and Gopal Sarkar.

India Legal Bureau

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Why Indian mobile users must take the initiative to protest against linking their phones to #Aadhaar

The government order presumes people are so addicted to their mobile phones that they will not risk getting them deactivated.
                        Rupak De Chowdhuri | Reuters
It is astonishing to see citizens always turn to the judiciary to safeguard their rights. It is even more so because our leaders, decades ago, popularised the idea of Satyagraha or non-violent resistance. What ought to be the last recourse has now become our default mode, our first impulse.
It is a truism that citizens can best protect their rights from state infringement through collective action. Their apathetic attitude to citizen solidarity explains, at least partially, why the state cavalierly issued the diktat to mobile phone users earlier this year to link their connections to their Aadhaar numbers or have their services terminated.
No qualms about violating an individual’s privacy, no fear that telecom operators could use the data for commercial and other benefits.
The state can behave so imperiously because it presumes that a popular blowback is unlikely. Sure, conscionable citizens will appeal to the judiciary, as it indeed has been done in what is called the Aadhaar matters, but the state boasts such formidable resources to battle legal challenges that a set of individuals could never hope to match.
In addition, there is always the possibility that the challenge to the state’s order to link Aadhaar to mobile phone numbers could be set aside. This is why it is sagacious to think of ways to persuade the state to withdraw the order rather than to wait for the judicial verdict. Some might say it is perhaps too late to think of these methods, but citizen solidarity will certainly make the state pause and think whenever it tries to shrink the rights of citizens next.
Doing it the Polish way
One such method could be to use the mobile phone as a weapon. Might it not be a good idea for mobile phone users to switch off their devices, say, for 30 minutes to express disquiet at the peremptory order to link their numbers to Aadhaar? As a gesture of protest, even 15 minutes would do, as long as the time for switching off mobile phones is synchronised across India.
Why would 15 minutes or 30 minutes of protest ruffle the state? The history of protests against the state tells us gestures of protest, regardless of their duration, matter inordinately. Take Poland.
When the Polish dictator General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law on December 13, 1981, the chocking of free flow of information predictably followed. Both the press and television dished out government propaganda dressed up as news. Tired of the government’s spin, a Pole in the town of Swidnik placed his television set on the windowsill and went out for a stroll at 7.30 pm, which was when the news would be televised.
His example was soon to be emulated by others in Swidnik, which had a population of 40,186 in 2012. The entire town would be out for a stroll at 7.30 pm. Of that protest, The New York Times reported:
“‘Every evening, precisely at 7.30, people just left their houses and began walking up and down the streets,’ said one source. ‘The protest snowballed. After a couple of days it seemed that everyone in town was out there. TV Sets Placed in Windows. People just walked their dogs, met each other, exchanged gossip. Some people put their TV sets in the window with the screen facing out so that everyone would know they weren’t watching it.’”
Swidnik’s protest is cited in researcher Hania M Fedorowicz’s The War for Information: The Polish Response to Martial Law, a paper that NDTV India anchor Ravish Kumar mentioned in the telecast beamed on the day the government raided the proprietors of the news channel. The protest at Swidnik spread to the larger city of Lublin, just 10 km away. And yes, the “walking protest”, as it was called, would last just 30 minutes.
Yet, symbolically, it was powerful enough to provoke the government to cut off electricity and water supply at 7 pm and impose limits on people moving outside their houses. These measures underscored “how effective society could be in demonstrating its independence from official mind-control”, Fedorowicz writes. In India, obviously, the diktat to link Aadhaar to mobile is not about mind control but, presumably, creating big data open to mining for a variety of purposes.
Poland’s civil society also established underground radio broadcast with the aim of “removing as large a public domain as possible from the government’s control”, writes Bartłomiej Kaminski in The Collapse of State Socialism: The Case of Poland. In its inaugural broadcast on April 12, 1982, the underground service “urged people to express their solidarity against martial law by switching off lights for 15 minutes at 9 0’ clock the next evening.” Another form of protest was not to buy newspapers, printed and published by the government.
Photo: Indranil Mukherjee / AFP
Mobile phone as weapon
Whoever thinks a protest lasting 30 minutes or 15 minutes is bound to be ineffectual needs to think again. It was through these measures that the people of Poland overcame their fear of martial law and the concomitant curbs imposed on them. Indians need to overcome their addiction to mobile phones to protect their rights, including privacy.
Indeed, the state’s Aadhaar strategy relies on exploiting the veritable epidemical addiction to mobile phones – India is inching towards 730 million mobile phone users, of whom 340 million possess smartphones. It is now a habit to want to be 10 digits away from children, old parents and friends. There are sites to visit, a video to watch, a meme to guffaw over, and a WhatsApp conversation to indulge in… We become anxious and apprehensive without mobile connectivity.
The Aadhaar order presumes that people are so addicted to their mobile phones that they will run to the telecom kiosk around the corner. Fanning this anxiety are incessant messages from telecom service providers asking people to link Aadhaar to mobile. As a technique, it emulates the method the British colonial master employed to hook the nation to tea.
A tale told by my grandfather, who heard it from his father, was that once tea was brought to India, companies producing it sent representatives from village to village to teach people how to brew tea, and gave them packets of it for free. Down the years, tea came with a price tag.
It is our addiction, our habit, which has rendered us vulnerable to the state’s order on Aadhaar. It may sound rich to talk of privacy in a country where people sleep on pavements or are packed 10 to a room. But Aadhaar is not just about privacy – it is about the state’s attitude towards citizens, its tendency to overwhelmingly reorder the public domain without a thought for the rights of citizens.
This is why we need to initiate a movement that requires people to switch off their mobile phones for 15 minutes or 20 minutes or 30 minutes or whatever. In an era in which hashtags dominate, might we not name the movement
We welcome your comments at [email protected]

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India’s first YouTube star is now trying to solve the global refugee crisis

(Photo courtesy of Wilbur Sargunaraj)

While Indian cringe pop is now the sole fiefdom of Dhinchak Pooja, the genre’s first bonafide star was Wilbur Sargunaraj. However, while Dhinchak Pooja seems more than content to revel in her musical mediocrity, Wilbur has used the platform to become a globetrotting social activist.

Having already fought against India‘s obsession with fair skin, and campaigned for the upliftment of the girl child, Wilbur has now turned his focus to a much more global issue – the refugee crisis.

His new EP, ‘Migrants’, has seen the Chennai-based artist travel to Syrian refugee camps in Greece, and collaborate on the title track with a young Syrian rapper who fled the violence in his home country.

 

 

Currently in Greenland for the the Biennial Nuuk Nordic Culture Festival where the album was launched, Catch spoke to Wilbur to find out more about Migrants, how the album came about, and what drew him to this particular cause. These are the edited excerpts:

Ranjan Crasta (RC): You’re no stranger to taking up causes. Your new album ‘Migrants’ deals with the refugee crisis. What drew you to this particular cause?

Wilbur Sargunaraj (WS): Any time we see the sufferings of our fellow human beings we should be drawn to take action and do something about this.  Whether its Syria, Yemen, Myanmar or Manus Island, we need to realize that people caught up in crisis situations are human beings who like us want to live in safety, peace and freedom.

I wanted to write a song that would challenge us to face our bias by breaking walls and opening our hearts to people who we perceive as being ‘different’.  They are fellow humans who are extremely vulnerable and need our help and protection desperately.  Though the title track focuses on the refugee crisis, the EP has 6 other tracks that are unique in their own way, but deal with the theme of movement.

RC: You’re talking about refugees, but the word you’re using is migrant. Why?

WS: All throughout the production phase of the song and music video I have been using the word ‘migrant’ to denote people who are on the move, looking for a better place to live in peace and away from war.

When you look at the specific terminology, a migrant can mean someone who is leaving their country looking for better economic options, while a refugee is someone who is fleeing war and persecution in their own country.  I am using the word migrant to cover both meanings.

I have been using the word ‘migrant’ to denote people who are on the move like refugees.

How can we tighten immigration policies and shut the door to other people looking for refuge?  We as fellow human beings have a huge moral responsibility to take care of our brothers and sisters of this world.

As my mentor Jean Vanier said – “I believe that walls between people and between groups can fall, but this will not be accomplished by force. It will come about through a change of heart – through transformation”

RC: Usually, when you take up a cause with your music and videos, there’s always a hint of humour. This isn’t the case in Migrants. Is that indicative of just how horrific you found the situation to be?

WS: Yes I think this song called for a more reflective approach.  We captured actual footage of refugees being rescued from their makeshift boats, so this can be distressing for many to watch.

Over 3500 people died in 2016 as a result of trying to make the deadly Mediterranean crossing just to flee from war, so, yes, this is horrific. But what is even more disturbing and appalling is the sentiments that people around the world have towards refugees. Many people have never met a refugee, and claim that they are dangerous, terrorists, uneducated, a burden and the list goes on.  We have started a breeding ground for the fear of the ‘other’ and that is truly horrific!

Speaking of humour, we did make a more light-hearted video at the refugee camp called “How to Wear a Life Jacket”, which featured Meyar, a young man from Damascus. It’s a serious topic, but the video weaves in and out of some comic moments.

RC: The first track from the album that is up on YouTube features a young Syrian rapper. What is Tamman’s story?

Tamman: I’m 21 years old and I’m from the city of Salamyeh, Syria. After fleeing my country as a refugee, I was welcomed by France. I just started an information technology course at the University of Rouen and, of course, I am rapping whenever I can find the time!

I left with my family because of the war, which is sadly still ongoing. If only people knew the pain and suffering that we are going through just to live in peace.

I took the road from my city passing the city of Hama, then the city of Idleb, to reach the Turkish border, then to the city of Antalya in Turkey.  I then took the ‘classic way’ (A dinghy boat) to the Greek island Kastellorizo, then to Athens. Seven months after we were relocated to France by a program of the UN.

RC: How did you encounter Tamman, and how did you connect with him?

WS: The power of the internet and social media, although I believe it was divine and meant to be! I was searching for an Arabic rapper for the song and, after exhausting all options from personal contacts, I resorted to Google!

I entered the exact words – “Syrian Refugee Rapper”, and one of the first things I saw was a BBC article on Tamman.  It was a video on how Tamman was using rap to document his journey to Europe from Syria as a refugee! I instantly knew Tamman needed to be part of this song!

Wilbur with refugees at a refugee camp in Chios, Greece. (Photo courtesy Wilbur Sargunaraj)

RC: How did you manage to collaborate despite the fact that he was living as a refugee in presumably volatile conditions?

WS: I reached out to Tamman when he just arrived in France.  He was so excited to do the part after he listened to the lyrics of the song, but had no way to record! I have done collaborations like this in remote areas getting the artist to use their mobile devices to capture audio, but Tamman didn’t even have this at the time.  He literally arrived with only the clothes on his back.

He was almost certain he could not do it because of this reason, but managed to make it work thanks to a journalist friend, who captured his vocals on a Tascam recorder! He even managed to film his part so we could use it in the music video.

RC: In the video, you’re seen in an actual refugee camp. How did that come about?

WS: As a cultural intelligence facilitator, one of my goals is to encourage people to engage with the ‘OTHER’ (people who you perceive as different). There is so much hate filled rhetoric and so many people are using a ‘them’ and ‘us’ mentality towards refugees, thinking they are a threat.

I wanted to set an example and show people that refugees are human beings and these walls that we are erecting need to come down. I was put in touch with DRAPEN I HAVET, a non-profit based in Norway who work among refugees.  They organized most of the meetings and film shoots, and it made me so happy that my new Syrian friends at the Souda refugee camp produced the entire video.

I should also mention that this project was made possible by a Wilbur fan wishing to remain anonymous.  This friend from France was inspired by some of the previous projects that I had undertaken and unselfishly contributed towards the MIGRANTS album.  This project would not have taken place without her radical generosity.

RC: Tell us about your experiences in the refugee camp. Were there any experiences there that stood out particularly?

WS: The music video for Migrants was filmed in Chios, Greece, just a week after a far right group attacked the refugees staying at the Souda refugee camp.  Heading to Chios after hearing this news made me question if I really had the courage to stand in solidarity with refugees.

I saw firsthand how there is a wall between the refugees and the locals in Chios. Taking a break from our video shoot, some of my refugee friends and I decided to visit a local coffee shop close by the camp. I entered first and encountered a big burly Greek man. I asked him if we could have a cup of coffee with my Syrian Simple Superstar friends, but he took one look at them and in a gruff voice said ‘NO’! He then turned his back and walked away!

We all looked at each other in disbelief. I’ll blame it on our prop – the bright orange lifejacket I was holding, and maybe even the “Migrants are first class” T-shirt I was wearing!

Not wanting to fall into the trap of stereotyping the locals, we moved on to another shop where at first the servers were a little cautious but then warmed up to us as we talked, listened and entered into their world. We smiled, thanked them, took our drinks and walked back towards the camp still shaking our heads over what happened!

RC: You mention an NGO called Drapen I Havet. Tell us more about them, what they do, and how they helped you.

WS: As mentioned, Drapen I Havet (A drop in the Ocean) is a Norwegian non-profit NGO  working in Greece among refugees. They helped me organize all logistics for the videos and set up meetings with refugees at the camps.

Their main tasks are to distribute food, clothes and non-food items. They are also involved in planning and organizing different activities for children and adults in the camps. Furthermore, they assist in teaching English as well as provide material and logistics for bilingual education.

RC: A portion of the proceeds from your album is going towards helping refugees. How will these proceeds be used?

WS: As winter is approaching, I am specifically requesting the funds to be used to get sleeping bags, warm clothes and food items for babies.  I would also love to help get books for children who are in the camps and who are trying to attend school. During the launch concert in Bangalore on 25 November, fans will have an opportunity to be part of a live auction where we will raise funds for Drapen I Havet using a Wilbur package of Lungi Pants, Wilbur Logo Shirts and many other first class merchandise items.

RC: Here in India we have the Rohingya crisis. Do you think India is doing enough to help the situation?

WS: What India is doing is creating a fear-mongering, divisive atmosphere of ‘them’ and ‘us’. History has show that the seeds of genocide are planted when we say “My world would be better if you were not in it.” In this case, it’s the Rohingyas from Rakhine.

I made a post recently about this when a well known Indian journalist said,“Don’t dump the Rohyingas on us….Gently throw them out.”  Remember that during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, people were ordered to kill others who were dehumanised as cockroaches. Sadly, people were actually brainwashed into believing their ‘enemies’ were insects who had no value and should be stamped out.

When you give no value to a person’s life, it then becomes easy to dehumanise them and justify committing many atrocities.  It becomes easy to build those walls to keep them out, or to call them cockroaches that need to be exterminated.  This is what India and many other countries around the world are doing.

RC: The government has sought to portray refugees as potential terrorists. This is a common scare tactic worldwide. Given your personal interactions with Syrian refugees who face similar accusations, what is your take on this?

Once again this is creating the fear of the ‘other’. Let me answer this question by sharing a response I gave to a person on Facebook who took issue to me saying that we should welcome refugees:

Wilbur Sargunaraj/Facebook

(The Indian premiere for the EP is November 25 Pablos Gastrobar in Whitfield, Banglore 9:30PM. Sponsored by my generous and loving Chithapa from Dubai. The album is available on all digital platforms.)

http://www.catchnews.com/life-society-news/india-s-first-youtube-star-is-now-trying-to-solve-the-global-refugee-crisis-88371.html

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India – 19 States Freeze MGNREGA Payments, Centre Not Releasing Funds

mnrega_620

Women working on an MGNREGA site building a pond to assist in farming and water storage in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. Wage payments under MGNREGA for nearly 92 million workers in 19 states have not been made, data show.

Sanjukta Nair, November 6, 2017

Women working on an MGNREGA site building a pond to assist in farming and water storage in Jhabua, Madhya Pradesh. Wage payments under MGNREGA for nearly 92 million workers in 19 states have not been made, data show.

 

Wage payments under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) have been frozen in 19 states as of October 31, 2017, official data show.

 

In Haryana, wages have not been paid since August 31, 2017. In 12 states, including Jharkhand, Karnataka and Kerala, payments have not been made since September 2017. No payments have been made in six states including Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh since October 2017.

 

States With 100% Pendency Of Fund Transfer Orders
State Payments Pending Since Active workers (In million)
Haryana August 31, 2017 2.07
Assam September 6, 2017 0.66
Karnataka September 7, 2017 6.22
West Bengal September 7, 2017 13.79
Punjab September 11, 2017 1.02
Tamil Nadu September 11, 2017 8.67
Uttar Pradesh September 11, 2017 9.31
Chhattisgarh September 12, 2017 4.91
Rajasthan September 14, 2017 7.45
Jharkhand September 15, 2017 2.6
Kerala September 18, 2017 2.17
Odisha September 18, 2017 5.1
Himachal Pradesh September 19, 2017 1
Uttarakhand October 2, 2017 0.93
Bihar October 3, 2017 3.52
Tripura October 6, 2017 1.03
Gujarat October 7, 2017 5.57
Madhya Pradesh October 7, 2017 8.81
Maharashtra October 7, 2017 7.47

Source: MGNREGAMGNREGA State Fact Sheets

Note: Data for other states unavailable; data as on October 31, 2017

 

Over 92 million active workers may not be getting their wages on time and the delayed wage payments amount to nearly Rs 3,066 crore, according to a statement by NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a network of grassroot organisations.

 

“Immediate action has been taken on proposals submitted so far by Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jammu & Kashmir and proposals have been processed,” according to this statement by the ministry of rural development on October 27, 2017.

 

It is mandatory for states to send audited reports of the previous financial year after September 30 every year for the central government to release the second tranche of funds.

 

The rural development ministry statement said Rs 40,480 crore has been released so far in this financial year, which is around Rs 4,500 crore more than the release during the corresponding period of the last financial year.

 

The ministry has also sought funds from the finance ministry to meet additional requirements.

 

Centre not clearing payments

 

The central government has not approved most payments for 20 days in March-April 2017, and 80% wage payments in May 2017 were not processed.

 

“While the central government has not approved funds for states that have not submitted audited statements of their funds on time, the government does not have funds for eight states: Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Mizoram, Nagaland and Jammu and Kashmir,” according to Ankita Aggarwal, co-convenor of the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha.

 

Process Of Making MGNREGA Payments

 

A Fund Transfer Order (FTO) is a demand that is first raised at the district level, and then at the state level for transfer of funds to the worker’s accounts. It is created electronically by the management information system (MIS) that maintains the electronic muster rolls with names of active workers under the scheme.

 

The FTO needs to be signed by two authorised signatories before being sent to the ministry of rural development. Since transfers are made through bank accounts, the FTO is first sent to the public financial management system (PFMS), a central government online application through which many social security payments are routed, and then to the nodal MGNREGA bank from which payments are credited.

 

When FTOs are pending, it implies that the PFMS has not responded to them, indicating that the government has not yet approved them. Almost no FTOs were processed for 20 days during March-April 2017, and 80% were not processed during May 2017, according to the statement by the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha.

 

Though payments have been approved by two signatories now, they have not been cleared by the central government.

 

Though there are no records of FTOs pending from Mizoram, Nagaland and J & K, all three states have negative balances in their financial statements.

 

Payments to be made within 15 days, compensation not paid

 

Workers must receive payments within 15 days of the closure of the muster rolls under MGNREGA guidelines. If the wages remain unpaid, the workers are entitled to seek compensation at a rate per day during the duration of the delay.

 

No legal compensation has been calculated for these delays. During the financial year 2016-17, the central government estimated the compensation to be only Rs 519 crore, 43% of Rs 1,208 crore that was actually due, Scroll.in reported in August 2017.

 

The rural development ministry calculates the compensation only on the basis of delays caused by the state government, the report said. The delay by the central government in making payments to the workers is not considered.

 

As much as 94% of the compensation due was not approved as of January 13, 2017, according to the 2017-18 budget brief by Accountability Initiative, an advocacy. Of the 6% approved, only 61% (Rs 8.7 crore) was paid.

 

Of Rs 34.7 crore payable as compensation for the current financial year, only Rs 3.6 crore, or 10%, has been paid, the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha claimed.

 

The rural development ministry has said that out of Rs 80.58 crore that has been approved as compensation since the provision of paying it came into force, Rs 51.4 crore (64%) has been paid.

 

The budget allocation for MGNREGA for the current financial year is Rs 48,000 crore, the highest ever under the scheme. As of October 27, 2017, Rs 40,725 crore–that is, nearly 85% of budget allocation–has been spent.

 

Eleven states have negative balances (including payments due) as per financial statements on November 3, 2017.

 

http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/19-states-freeze-mgnrega-payments-centre-not-releasing-funds-47441

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Goa temple denies access to wheelchair-bound girl #WTFnews

Beyond reach: Sanika Keskar and her family wait outside the entrance to Mangueshi Temple in South Goa on Monday after they were denied entry by the temple trustee.

Trustee says ‘vehicles’ cannot be allowed entry

A trustee of Mangueshi Temple in South Goa stirred controversy on Monday by denying access to a wheelchair-bound girl from Mumbai.

The Disabilities Rights Association of Goa (DRAG) has demanded action against the trustee and forwarded the complaint lodged by the girl’s parents to the Superintendent of Police (South) and the Collector of South Goa.

The girl’s mother, Subhada Keskar, said the temple committee member, Anil Kenkre, prevented her daughter, Sanika Keskar, from entering the temple as its rules denied access to ‘vehicles’.

‘Outright discrimination’

The complaint said: “Anil Kenkre told us we were not invited and welcome inside the temple. This is outright discrimination and abuse of the right of a physically challenged person. The action is a criminal offence under Section 92 (a) of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016.”

It further said that the trustee also violated Sanika’s right to worship, “which is a fundamental right under the Constitution of India.” The parents requested authorities to immediately register a criminal case against Mr. Kenkre under relevant sections of the Rights of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 and the Indian Penal Code.

The DRAG also wrote to the Collectors of North Goa and South Goa, and the State Disability Commissioner requesting them to direct all heads of religious places of worship in their jurisdiction to ensure that the elderly and persons with disabilities are not denied entry citing aids and appliances used for their mobility. The DRAG also asked the authorities to ensure within six months that places of worship are made disabled-friendly as mandated under the Act.

Meanwhile, Mr. Kenkre denied the allegations. He said, “I don’t exactly remember the details of our conversation. We never deny permission to any person to enter the temple and pray. I only informed them that there is no facility to allow the wheelchair into the temple. It would be incorrect to say that we denied them access to the temple.”

Mr. Kenkre admitted that the temple was not disabled-friendly, but that had never stopped “persons with disabilities from coming to the temple and nobody has ever had any issues in entering it.”

‘An attitude problem’

Anuradha Joshi, State Disability Commissioner, confirmed on Monday that she had received the complaint and would visit the temple on Tuesday to probe the matter. Avelino de Sa, president of DRAG, said that an online petition demanding justice for Sanika had garnered over 2,200 signatures by Monday evening.

Mr. de Sa said, “The issue at hand is not one of lack of infrastructure, but an attitude problem of the temple trustee. This is evident from his statements such as ‘we have not invited you to the temple’ and ‘the wheelchair cannot be allowed in as it is a vehicle’.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/goa-temple-denies-access-to-wheelchair-bound-girl/article19994150.ece

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Paradise Papers’ expose: 714 Indian entities linked to offshore accounts

OUR BUREAU

Multi-agency group to monitor probe; tax sleuths told to take immediate action

Paradise Papers’ revelations — a new treasure-trove of information on the offshore finances of the super rich — sent the Narendra Modi government into a scurry on Monday, with the Centre deciding to reconstitute the multi-agency group set up last April for Panama Papers’ probe.

The group is headed by the Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman and has representatives from the CBDT, the Enforcement Directorate, the RBI and the Financial Intelligence Unit; it will monitor the investigations of cases in the Paradise Papers.

The CBDT also alerted the Income-Tax Department’s investigation units for “immediate appropriate action”.

The leaks set off political ripples, with the main Opposition, the Congress, demanding that the Centre order an investigation . The party said the Paradise Papers proved that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “so-called fight” against black money and corruption remains a “complete flop”.

With 714 Indian names, mostly corporate entities, figuring in the data leaks mainly from two firms — Bermuda’s law firm Appleby and Singapore’s family-owned trust company Asiaciti — Indian tax authorities will have to plumb deep into the offshore structures and initiate action against those involved in any impropriety.

The CBDT also noted that the names of only a few Indians (legal entities as well as individuals) have appeared so far in the media. Even the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) website has not yet released the names and other particulars of all the entities.

The website suggests that the information will be released in phases and the structured data connected to the investigation will be released only in the coming weeks on its offshore leaks database, the CBDT added.

The latest move by the CBDT will enable tax sleuths to go after the 714 Indian links, but prosecution may not be easy, say experts.

Aseem Chawla, Partner, Phoenix Legal, a law firm, said the challenge for the law-enforcement agencies and tax authorities is to place conclusive reliance on stolen information for tax proceedings purposes.

Tax authorities need to consider whether information not obtained through means such as under the Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA) can be relied on in the absence of any corroboration, he said.

“It is widely recognised that Appleby did issue a pre-warning to its clients that its private files may have been compromised by a hack attack last year, which seemingly is the source of the Paradise Papers,” Chawla told BusinessLine.

Amit Singhania, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, a law firm, said, “This is a very early stage; we need to see what kind of data has been stolen and if the data also reveals the amounts of investment and sources of investments apart from names of investors.”

Amit Maheshwari, Partner, Ashok Maheshwary & Associates LLP, a CA firm, said: “Such complex investigations need a multi-agency probe. Due to the nature of such crimes, it takes time to achieve a closure as we saw with the Panama Papers.”

Panama Papers

On the Panama Papers’ probe, the CBDT, in a separate statement, said that based on analysis of the information obtained and investigation conducted, 147 actionable cases and 279 non-actionable cases (non-residents/no irregularities, etc) had been established.

Of the 147 actionable cases, investigations have led to the detection of undisclosed credits of about ₹792 crore so far. Searches were conducted in 35 cases and surveys in 11 cases. In five cases, criminal prosecution complaints have been filed. In seven cases, notices have been issued under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) law.

Meanwhile, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said: “Modi had promised to bring back ₹80-lakh crore in the first 100 days and to deposit ₹15 lakh in the bank accounts of every Indian. Fortyone months later, Modi has back-stabbed the people.”

http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/paradise-papers-expose-714-indian-entities-linked-to-offshore-accounts/article9945737.ece

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Indian Diaspora Communities Plan Protest at State Board of Education Over Textbooks

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 6, 2017“The Board of Education succumbed to pressure from lobbyists to erase caste,” say activists

Click here to RSVP to attend protest 

Sacramento, CA: Nov. 6, 2017 – On the eve of the California State Board of Education’s (CSBE) final vote to adopt new History and Social Science textbooks, a diverse alliance of Indian diaspora communities plan to protest content they describe as inaccurate, partisan, and mythological.

“Caste-oppressed immigrants like Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs, and Ravidassias are outraged that the California State Board of Education has allowed partisan Hindu Fundamentalist funding to hijack a democratic process,” remarks Thenmozhi Soundararajan, co-founder of South Asian Histories for All (SAHFA) and the Dalit American Coalition. “When California Textbooks no longer reflect historical reality and discriminate against our communities, we must ask: where did the democracy go in the democratic review of these textbooks?”

At the root of the issue is disagreement over descriptions of caste, a social system widely practiced in the Indian subcontinent. Soundararajan and others argue that the new textbooks “erase caste” by misrepresenting ways in which it has historically been coercively applied and used to oppress. According to data collected by SAHFA, the sections of the textbooks dealing with South Asia contain many inaccurate statements related to caste and its origins in religious belief as well as derogatory statements against Dalits (those historically treated as outcastes). The issue has been ongoing since 2015, but is coming to a climax as the CBSE takes its final decision.

On Monday, November 6, SAHFA delivered a legal notice to the CSBE requesting an immediate delay in adoption of the new curriculum. The group intends to protest outside the downtown Sacramento offices of the Department of Education at 8am on Tuesday, November 7 in a lead up to testimony on November 8-9. This is a prelude to the expected 100 members of the SAHFA coalition who will attend the hearings.

“At stake is the accurate portrayal of history as we educate our children,” says Bhajan Singh, who plans to attend the protest on behalf of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara. “SAHFA has worked tirelessly to ensure this history is factually-based, but the Board of Education succumbed to pressure from lobbyists to erase caste. This a violation of our rights at the expense of those Indians, abroad and in the United States, who are the poorest and historically most oppressed. As a Sikh and a caste-oppressed immigrant, I am deeply distressed by the erasure of Sikhism’s struggles against caste and these attempts to diminish the violence of caste by those who have benefited from exploitation of lower-caste people.”

About SAHFA: We are a diverse coalition of teachers, students, parents, and community members. We include Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis; Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and atheists; and an inter-caste alliance. And we believe California students deserve a balanced and fact-based history, not a partisan history.

Media Inquiries:
Thenmozhi Soundararajan | 510-324-9910
[email protected]southasianhistoriesforall.org
www.SouthAsianHistoriesforAll.org

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Haryana youth stripped to confirm religion, police to lodge FIR #WTFnews

According to the police, the girl, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste, and the boy, who is from the Yadav community, went to buy medicines on October 10 when they were harassed by a group of 10-11 men and 5-6 women

Haryana inter-caste marriage, Haryana police, Haryana youth stripped, youth harassed, Haryana couple harassed, couple assaulted, Hindu group, Rewari bus stand, Haryana newsThe matter pertains to an inter-caste love marriage between a couple of a village in Rewari district. (Photo for representation)

Haryana police said on Monday it would lodge an FIR against a group of people who had allegedly stripped a youth in public to confirm his religion in Rewari town on October 10.

The matter pertains to an inter-caste love marriage between a couple of a village in Rewari district. According to the police, the girl, who belongs to the Scheduled Caste, and the boy, who is from the Yadav community, went to buy medicines on October 10 when they were harassed by a group of 10-11 men and 5-6 women near the Rewari bus stand.

In her police complaint, the woman said the group first asked them to show their identity cards and then stripped her husband as passersby watched. She said no one came to their rescue and the group said they belonged to a religious outfit.

Rewari SP Sangeeta Kalia told The Indian Express they would suspend Assistant Sub-Inspector Giri Raj, who was in charge of Rewari bus stand police post. “The official thought it was just a case of altercation and not a big matter. It’s possible that the whole matter might not have come into in his notice,” Kalia said.

The SP said one of the accused had been identified as a local woman, who introduced herself as a “social worker”. “We are trying to round up the others,” she said, adding that investigation into the matter was still on.http://indianexpress.com/article/india/haryana-youth-stripped-to-confirm-religion-police-to-lodge-fir-4924874/

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