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Archives for : December2017

India – The story in the GDP numbers that the govt doesn’t want you to know

(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

With the Narendra Modi-government going gung-ho over the latest gross domestic product (GDP) figures, there is a need to look at the data more closely. The government’s celebrations are solely based on the spurt in GDP growth rate from the first quarter of the current fiscal to the second quarter. Many other sub-texts are being ignored.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley told the press he was happy to note that “the deceleration trend in overall growth, which was witnessed since the First Quarter of last Fiscal Year, has been now reversed”. The real GDP growth in the second quarter of the current fiscal has been estimated at 6.3%, as compared to 5.7% in the first quarter.

Real gross value added (GVA) growth has also shown a similar hike to 6.1% in the second quarter from 5.6% in the first. Jaitley said this indicates that the economy has left behind the impact of demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST). Catch spoke to various economists to get a sense of their assessment of the data and the government’s interpretation of it.

NOT A REAL PICTURE

Former chief statistician of India, Prof Pronab Sen, told Catch that it is hard to draw any conclusions from this data because the economy is experiencing fluctuations right now and the full impact of these fluctuations will be known only after things have settled. He stressed that for that, we will have to look at the next two quarters.

Sen also pointed out that that GST’s impact was on trade and we used to estimate the state of the trade sector through sales tax collections. However, with GST having replaced sales tax, it will be impossible to estimate the performance of trade before the final picture on GST collections is clear.

Prof Arun Kumar, Malcolm Adiseshiah Chair Professor at Institute of Social Sciences, said GDP data in any case is not equipped to assess the impact of demonetisation because that impact was mostly in the unorganised sector. The GDP data, he explained, looks only at the organised sector, which contributes to 55% of the GDP. In fact, he added, it looks only at the corporate sector within the organised sector.

Kumar stressed that, therefore, what is needed is a comprehensive and timely survey of the performance of the unorganised sector since demonetisation and only that will be able to show the real picture.

Swaminathan Aiyar, well-known journalist and commentator on economic issues, also highlighted that the sector that was doubly hit by demonetisation and GST was the small industries sector. So, to assess whether the economy has actually left behind the shock induced by the two measures, data on the small industries will need to be looked at, he added.

On their own, Aiyar said, these numbers indicate that the economy seems to be bottoming out, but then it is a very low bottom.

Jaitley had also said that the acceleration in growth has been “helped by a rapid growth in manufacturing”. The sector has shown growth of 7% in the second quarter from 1.2% in the first quarter. However, Sen explained there was nothing extraordinary about it because the first quarter saw de-stocking of all pre-GST inventory and the second quarter only compensated for that through re-stocking.

Interestingly, leaders of the Opposition have pointed out that this quarter to quarter comparison hides the real picture, because in the same quarter last year, GDP growth was 7.5%. That actually means a fall of 1.2%.

Last year Q2 GDP growth was 7.5% and this year it is 6.3%. This Govt only bhashan, no action

However, Kumar said this year on year comparison wouldn’t hold for for 2017 because demonetisation was a shock measure that broke the continuity in calculation.

The depressing aspect of the GDP data has been agriculture’s performance. The farm sector grew 1.7% in the September quarter, slower than the previous quarter’s 2.3%. CPI(M)’s Sitaram Yechurysaid that the data highlighted the crisis in the farm sector and exposed the government’s claims of trying to double farm income.

However, Sen says that while the crisis of agriculture is an accepted phenomenon, this data itself doesn’t indicate any particular aggravation. He said his own estimation was 2% for the sector for this quarter, so the final result is more on expected lines.

There are other ways to look at it too. Agriculture expert Devinder Sharma is opposed to the very calculation of agriculture GDP on a quarterly basis.

Measuring Agriculture GDP on a quarterly basis is not economics. There is no way you can measure farm growth like this. Crops have their own growing season, which does not conform to any of the 4 quarters for which GDP is calculated.

To sum it up, it looks like that the government will find it hard to convince everybody that this temporary uptick is a firm indicator of the economy emerging out of the woods yet. Only a full-fledged study of the unorganised sector will fully examine the impact of GST and demonetisation. http://www.catchnews.com/business-economy-news/the-story-in-the-gdp-numbers-that-govt-doesn-t-want-you-to-know-91245.html

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Former Chief Justice of India Adarsh Sein Anand passes away at 81 #RIP

Former Chief Justice of India AS Anand passed away at about 9 am yesterday while being driven to a Noida hospital.

The 81 one year old Justice Anand, had been ailing for some time and had been discharged from a Saket hospital after being treated for pneumonia, on November 29, according to former Supreme Court Registrar, RN Nijhawan .

 

 

Former Chief Justice of India, Justice Adarsh Sein Anand, passed away on Friday morning. He was the 29th CJI and served from October 10, 1998 to October 31, 2001.Born on November 1, 1936, Justice Anand had received his early education at Jammu and graduated from the then Jammu and Kashmir University. After completing his bar-at-law in 1964, Justice Anand set up a lucrative practice at the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh. He was appointed an additional judge to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court at the age of 38. Justice Anand was confirmed as a permanent judge in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 1976 and rose to be the Chief Justice nine years later. He was transferred to the Madras High Court in 1989 and two years later was elevated as a Supreme Court judge.Justice Anand believed in justice to be a constitutional right and insisted that steps were required to be taken for providing inexpensive justice to people. Known for his strictness in judicial matters, Justice Anand was known for his judgments concerning public interest. Justice Anand had refused to relax the time limit set for scrapping of old commercial vehicles, which contributed to the rising pollution levels.Justice Anand was also known for the exemplary work done as the chairman of National Legal Services Authority and had taken effective steps to establish Lok Adalats in every district of the country. His daughter Munisha Gandhi is a lawyer at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.  

 

He had also authored several books, including ‘The Constitution of Jammu and Kashmir—its Development and Comments’. Justice Anand was awarded the Degree of Doctorate in Law (Honorary) by Lucknow University in 1996; and was unanimously elected the president of the International Institute of Human Rights Society in 1996. He was the first Indian to be honoured with a fellowship of the University College, London, in 1997.He took over as the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission in February 2003. In February 2010, he was appointed as chairman of a five-member committee set up to examine the safety aspects of the Mullaperiyar Dam in Kerala. The panel submitted the report in April 2012.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/punjab/former-chief-justice-of-india-adarsh-sein-anand-passes-away-at-81/506472.html

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Bring Transparency in the Political Funding, Withdraw Electoral Bonds 

Urgent need to Clean up the Corruption and Black Money Influence in Elections

New Delhi, December 2 : The Income Tax department has sent an assessment order to the Aam Aadmi Party slapping an income tax penalty of over Rs. 30 crores on account of a number of alleged irregularities in donations received by the party. The IT department claims that the AAP did npt declare a part of its income, did not record full donor details of some of its donors and received some funding through hawala. Consequently the IT department has denied AAP from availing tax exemption available to political parties on their incomes. The AAP has in return called this an act of political vendetta by the central goverment led by Prime Minister Modi.

While the details are yet to come out and the truth remains to be established, this incident brings into focus the murkiness of the political funding scene in India, where lack of transparency of who funds whom rules the roost.

Estimating the money in Indian politics is like opening an unending set of pandora’s box. To begin with, the amount of money, and especially unaccounted black money, in political funding is unknown and extremely hard to estimate. Even from the income that the political parties do declare, the source of only around 30% of those donations is disclosed by the political parties. And of these known funders, 89% are business houses, with BJP getting almost 3/4th of all corporate funding received by all political parties. The Rs. 705.8 crores it received from corporate houses over 2012-13 to 2015-16  also formed 92% of its declared donations from corporates*. To make things worse, companies also donate via Electoral Trusts – making it harder to ascertain the exact sources of funding.

There have been consistent demands from the Election Commission and the civil society for the government to bring in laws to increase transparency in all aspects of political funding – Who is the donor? How much is the donor donating? To which political party (parties)?

The BJP government, through the Finance Act 2017, brought in a legislation to limit cash donations at Rs. 2000. While this was welcome, it did not change the requirement of declaring the donor’s identity only for donations above Rs 20,000. This raises a question on why the identity of every donor donating less than Rs. 20000 should also not be disclosed, especially when countries all around the world are moving in the direction of full transparency.

But much more dangerous was the introduction of Electoral Bonds as a new means of donating money to a political party. Via this new instrument any corporation, association or individual can donate any sum of money to any party without having to disclose his or her own identity or revealing the identity of the beneficiary political party. With one fell swoop, the BJP government removed restrictions on the portion of net profits a corporation could donate to political parties and also removed all checks for transparency in the donation process. Additionally, by delinking the cap on donations that companies could make from their profitability, the government has opened the door for shell companies to sprout up for the sole purpose of funding political parties. But, there is one entity that can still access the full details of any donation made via Electoral Bonds. And that is the government itself.

This must be seen in conjunction with the amendments made in the FCRA Act in 2016 by the same BJP government. The amendment changed retrospectively, from 2010, the definition of foreign companies and hence allowed political parties to receive funding from foreign companies as well. And added to the soup is the blatant and willful disregard of the 6 national political parties of India of the order by the Chief Information Commissioner, to comply with the RTI Act and furnish information asked for.

That all these amendments in the FCRA Act, the RBI Act, the Companies Act, the Representation of People’s Act and the Income Tax Act were opportunistically made via the money bill route and hence escaped opposition from the Rajya Sabha and subverted the checks and balances in our democratic systemd seems like a minor detail in front of the magnitude of the import of the changes themselves.

A system where political parties can receive unlimited sums of possibly unaccounted black money from all over the world, with the public denied any information on who is funding whom is a system ripe for big businesses to buy the government off without the public even getting a whiff. Added to it is the fact that the state will know who is donating to the opposition, which further disbalances the already titled scales of information and power in the state’s favor. Going by historical precedents one can guess that this system of funding via Electoral Bonds will increase cases of vendetta against donors to the opposition and hence against the opposition itself through the arms of the state, by the state.

In that light, the recent notice to the AAP by the Income Tax department does not read well for India’s democratic processes and actually lends support to the AAP’s allegation of vendetta by the state against the Aam Aadmi Party.

We strongly condemn the introduction of Electoral Bonds via the Finance Act in 2017 and of the amendments in the FCRA in 2016. We demand that the government introduce measures for full transparency in political funding and roll back both sets of amendments immediately. We also urge the state to work towards strong electoral reforms to limit, if not completely remove, the possibility of lobbying by big businesses by funding political parties with the expectation of getting favors from the ruling regime in the future.

#NameTheDonors

 “Sign a petition to ask the government to take back the amendments in Finance Act 2016 and repeal the Electoral Bonds scheme – http://actionnetwork.org/petitions/take-back-our-government

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India – NO BJP did NOT “Sweep” #UPCivicPolls2017

You are being told that its a “saffron wash” because media is only focussing on Mayor election while ignoring the rest.

The Mayor election was the only one that took place through EVM..the rest were done through ballot papers. About 70% of the elected representatives of the other posts are independent candidates. In ward number 68 of Gorakhpur, where Yogi Adityanath had voted, independent candidate Nadira Khatoon has won defeating BJP’s Maya Tripathi. Out of 652 seats, BJP gets 184 seats…and who gets the maximum? Bloody hell! It is the Independents!!!!

In all these other elections, BJP fared miserably. If anything, it was a humiliating defeat for the BJP. But the gullible media happily reported that the Congress had been decimated in these elections. Indeed, Congress has been a fringe player in the state’s politics for over 20 years and the votes normally are split three ways between BJP, SP and the BSP. Congress is not the main player in UP but the media coverage of the election focused on the poor performance of the Congress!

Even in the municipal corporations where it won as many as 14 of the 16 mayoral posts, the BJP’s performance wasn’t as impressive in the 1,299 declared seats out of a total of 1,300 seats for corporators – the party only won 596 of these seats, that is just about 46%.

The election was not about election of Mayor posts alone. 

In the Mayor’s post, BJP won 14 out of 16 seats. But, that’s not all:
Nagar Panchayat (Town Area) Presidents: 438/438
Independents: 182
BJP: 100
SP: 83
BSP: 45
Congress: 17
AAP: 2
Rashtriya Janata Dal: 2
Rashtriya Lok Dal: 3
AIMM: 1
AIFB: 1
Unrecognised Party: 2
Nagar Palika Parishad (City Municipal Council) Presidents : 198/198
BJP: 70
SP: 45
Independents: 43
BSP: 29
Congress: 9
CPI: 1
Ad hoc registered party: 1
Nagar Nigam (City Municipal Corporation) President: 16
BJP: 14
BSP: 2
• For the post of Municipal Chairperson:
BJP candidates won – 69
Non BJP candidates won – 126
• for Nagar Panchayat President
BJP candidates won- 100
Non-BJP candidates won- 338
• Nagar Parishad posts
BJP candidates won- 596
non-BJP candidates won- 701
• Nagar Palika Members
BJP candidates won- 916
non-BJP candidates won- 4295
• Nagar Panchayat members
BJP candidates won- 663
non-BJP candidates won- 4715
 Source: State Election Commission Uttar Pradesh , Lucknow

 Just the combined number of seats won by the three main opposition parties, where the votes were divided among them, is indicative enough of what the scenario might have been if they had agreed on joint candidates and campaigned collectively.

The need for the opposition parties to come together, even if the BJP’s support base has declined, is the biggest learning from these results.

INDEPENDENTS WIN 225 SEATS OUT OF 652 AND EMERGE AS THE SINGLE LARGEST GROUP!
SP emerges as the third party with 128 seats out of 652…

BSP emerges in the fourth position with 76 seats out of 652…again, BSP has re-gained some of its Dalit votes…but overall, sliding behind SP must have given it cold comfort.

In Nagar Palika Parishad, 70 seats got by BJP fetched it 35.5% of the vote…SP polled 22.5 % and BSP 14.65% while Congress polled 4.5%…Independents polled 21.72% of the votes polled…

35.5% votes polled by BJP in Nagar Palika Parishad out of a total of 1 crore votes, amounts to 35 lakhs…
In the 2.65 crore votes polled in Nagar Panchayats, BJP with just 100 seats out of 438 could manage only 22% of the vote! In this segment, Independents polled 41.55% of the votes…SP polled 18.95% and BSP polled 10.27%…Congress vote share stood at 3.88%…
In 2007 assembly elections, BJP polled 42% of the vote. It had swept rural areas. Now its share has come down to 30%!
With few exceptions, BJP lost entire seats in Nagar Panchayats in Basti, Gonda, Chitrokoot, Allahabad, Mirzapur, Barabanki, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Kausambi, Fatehpur, Farukkhabad, Firozabad on and on…Amethi was with BJP last time also…no big deal…
This loss is a fatal blow for Yogi…imagine BJP trailing behind Independents…the latter trend OPENS THE FLOODGATES FOR THE RISE OF NEW FORCES IN UP!
source:
http://sec.up.nic.in/site/

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#UPCivicPolls2017: In Yogi Adityanath bastion, independent Muslim candidate beats BJP

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple. 

 

Yogi Adityanath (File photo: PTI)Yogi Adityanath (File photo: PTI)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • UP CM Adityanath is the head priest of the Gorakhnath temple
  • The BJP’s Maya Tripathi lost in the ward where the temple is located
  • The BJP did win the mayoral seat in Gorakhpur

In Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s bastion Gorakhpur, the ruling BJP’s Maya Tripathi lost ward number 68 to an independent Muslim candidate, Nadira Khatoon.

The famous Gorakhnath Temple, of which Yogi is the Mahant, is situated in this ward.

The setback to Yogi in his own backyard is only an aberration to an otherwise stunning victory he has ensured for the BJP in the UP civic polls, the Chief Minister’s first major test since assuming power in March this year.

“I fought on the agenda of development and people made me win,” Khatoon told news agency ANI. When asked if she will support Adityanath’s BJP, she said, “If needed, I will do it.”

Fought on agenda of development and people made me win. If needed will do it: Independent candidate Nadira Khatoon who won from ward no 68 in Gorakhpur on question if she will support Yogi Adityanath

In a related development – and a big boost for Yogi to compensate for the Gorakhpur loss – the BJP won Amethi, which happens to be the Lok Sabha constituency of soon-to-be Congress president-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi.

“The Congress wiped out in Amethi,” Adityanath said in a press conference today after the trends showed the BJP set to win 14 of 16 municipal corporations.

Adityanath called it a “historic win” and attributed it to “Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s vision and BJP chief Amit Shah’s guidance”.

“The BJP will now look forward to achieve the goal of 100 per cent success in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls,” Adityanath said. In 2014, his party had won 71 of the 80 seats in the state.

Adityanath happens to be the head priest of that temple, and was a five-time MP from the Lok Sabha constituency of Gorakhpur.

BJP’s Maya Tripathi loses ward no 68 in Gorakhpur. Independent candidate Nadira wins. Gorakhnath Temple is situated in this ward 

But it wasn’t all bad news: The BJP did win mayoral seats in Gorakhpur and in six other cities and towns.*

I would like to give credit of this win to all BJP workers who worked for the party to communicate its agenda of development to all. I would also like to thank all the voters: UP CM Yogi Adityanath

Adityanath said a press conference this afternoon that the Uttar Pradesh civic body polls would be an eye-opener for people comparing the it with the upcoming Assembly polls in Gujarat, a BJP stronghold.

Votes are being counted in 75 Uttar Pradesh districts after a three-phase election to 652 urban local bodies took place last month.

You can get all the latest updates on our main live blog. For city or town-specific coverage, click on any of the links below.

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India – Has Nandan Nilekani sold #Aadhaar to the Japanese? #UID

Social Security and Tax Number System

The Japanese government adopted the Social Security and Tax Number System in order to (1) enhance the social security to people who truly need it, (2) enhance public convenience and (3) develop the efficiency in administration.Introducing the Social Security and Tax Number System as a Form of Social Infrastructure to Support Daily Living

Important Notice to Foreign Residents holding “Individual Number Cards”

What is the Social Security and Tax Number System?

Applicable Law

Call Center (Multilingual Service)

  • The Call Center handle your inquiries concerning the Social Security and Tax Number System.
  • 1) Telephone No. 0120-0178-26 (FreeCall)
  • 2) Call Center Hours
    Weekdays : 9:30 a.m. to 20:00 p.m.
    weekends and national holidays : 9:30 a.m. to 17:30 p.m. (Excluding December 29 to January 3)
  • 3) Languages Handled
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Past Information

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Sexual assault and harassment in the aid sector: Survivor stories #Vaw

Four female aid workers spoke to Devex about their experiences of sexual harassment, violence and even rape while working on projects abroad. Photo by: Tim Foster

Aid agencies and international nongovernmental organizations are slowly beginning to recognize that sexual harassment, discrimination and assault against female aid workers is a serious problem within the industry — and that perpetrators are often men holding senior positions.

Two advocacy groups formed in the past 18 months by women working in the sector — the Humanitarian Women’s Network and Report the Abuse — have lifted the lid on the problem, collecting survey data from hundreds of female aid workers. The results reveal that sexual harassment, unwanted touching, sexual comments and, in some cases, rape, are a common experience for women working in remote and dangerous humanitarian settings.

More than 800 women responded to the Report the Abuse survey; 67 percent said they had suffered sexual violence while on the job, including 10 percent who said they had been raped and 21 percent who said they had experienced unwanted sexual touching. Similarly, the Humanitarian Women’s Network survey — which received responses from more than 1,000 people working for 70 organizations — found that 4 percent of female aid workers said they have been raped while carrying out humanitarian work. A further 48 percent reported “unwanted touching” and 55 percent reported that they have experienced sexual advances from male colleagues during their professional careers.

The Feinstein International Center, part of Tufts University, has also been investigating the issue and is set to release its report, Sexual Assault Against Humanitarian and Development Aid Workers, later this month.

Senior executives in the sector are finally taking notice. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee, which coordinates the different U.N. agencies and NGOs working on humanitarian assistance, met in December to discuss the issue. It has appointed two dedicated champions to lead an effort to reform how organizations respond to cases of sexual assault, but also to work to prevent them from occurring.

However, Dyan Mazurana, who led the Tufts report, believes it will take a huge culture shift within the sector to achieve meaningful change. She also told Devex that more in-depth research is needed since the current surveys have only “scratched the surface” and have focused on interviewing international humanitarian aid workers and not national staff. Mazurana said she expects levels of sexual harassment and abuse to be higher among women working in national offices.

As part of its ongoing coverage of this important issue, Devex interviewed four women who say they experienced sexual harassment or assault while working on aid projects abroad. We have changed their names: all four wished to remain anonymous for professional reasons, but were willing to tell their stories in the hope that it can bring about change. Their accounts share many similarities and highlight a number of fundamental problems within the humanitarian sector.

1. “A cowboy culture.”

Sarah was tied up, sexually assaulted and suffocated with ether in her hotel room in Sri Lanka by a gang of local men in 2009 while working for a major U.N. agency. While she does not hold her agency accountable for what happened, she said she was “astounded” by their suggestion that she should go to the beach for a few days and then go back to work.

“I don’t fault them for it happening to me but they do have a responsibility to protect and look after their staff and that was lacking,” she said. “It’s this cowboy mentality, the idea that you’re supposed to just carry on because these kinds of things are part of the nature of the work.”

Another victim, Alison, said her own experience of being drugged and raped by a taxi driver while working in Peru revealed a certain “lawlessness” within the sector.

“People get out into the field, whether they are expats or locals, and they get promoted to positions of authority and have money. There’s a sense they are out there on the range and there’re no sheriff in town and they can get away with anything,” she said.

This was echoed by another survivor, Katy, who said that both the man with whom she was pressured into having sex and another who tried to bribe her into it, used their positions of power — and the fact that they were on a mission away from headquarters — to “get away with” whatever they wanted.

“They are only there for a short time and they’re confident you’re not going to report them because you only have access to more junior staff,” she said.

This “cowboy” culture within the humanitarian sector, especially on operations in conflict settings, is exacerbated by the fact that men occupy most senior field positions, according to Mazurana. In more dangerous settings, the cluster leads tend to be men. They frequently have a “buck up” attitude toward women who complain about sexual assault or inappropriate behavior, telling them they should expect such things where “law and order have broken down,” she said, directly quoting one of the aid agency security officers her team interviewed for their research paper.

“Managers need to show zero tolerance toward sexist or homophobic comments and attitudes to create a better work environment,” she said.

Jenny experienced this firsthand when she was working for a USAID contractor in Afghanistan. She was the only woman in the compound and although initially she felt like “one of the boys,” this turned sour after she was attacked by an Afghan national while attending a work event. She managed to escape from what could have turned into rape only to find her colleagues unsupportive as she struggled to come to terms with what had happened.

“They made me feel like I was an embarrassment, some kind of loser. I felt like they didn’t know how to deal with a woman going through an emotional time — I was seen as a threat and they were turned off by me,” she said.

2. Power dynamics.

Report the Abuse’s findings revealed that in 44 percent of self-reported cases of abuse or harassment, the perpetrators were men working in the aid industry itself, often occupying senior roles. This helps to explain why so few women report their abuse through official channels.

“Many of the cases being reported to us include abuse of power — a boss harassing or sexually violating their employees, expatriates committing sexual violence against national staff, donors sexually harassing funding staff,” said Megan Nobert, who was prompted to found Report the Abuse after she was raped while working for an international NGO in South Sudan.

“If the survivor is in a lower [position] of power, they have less control of the situation, less voice. The accused, if they have more power, can better control the narrative. This logically results in situations where survivors will either be afraid to report — for fear of retaliation or not being believed — or the creation of a hostile situation if they do report,” she added.

As a young woman trying to break into the sector, turning down the advances of a mentor and boss — someone who holds your future career in their hands — can seem impossible, according to Katy, whose married boss propositioned her while they were working together in Iraq.

“When you’re in a conflict scenario and your boss is hitting on you, who are you going to tell and how are you going to get out when maybe you need a special flight or a boat to leave, plus your boss is the one who gives you permission to go on leave. If that person wants to have sex with you then it puts you in a very difficult position and I didn’t see any option other than compliance,” she said.

Seven years later, while working on an emergency response in south Asia, Katy found herself in a similar situation. Working as a contractor at the time, she was offered a lucrative staff position in exchange for sex by a high-level U.N. official during a conversation in a hotel bar. When she rejected his advance, he became physically and verbally aggressive, before walking out of the bar.
Katy’s boss advised her to report the encounter, saying she had heard similar and worse stories about the man. But when she went to lodge an official complaint, she was told to drop it by the resident stress counselor since any report would cross the desk of the man she was accusing.

“I just tried to put it behind me and get on with the job but I constantly had the feeling I wasn’t safe on missions and it added a lot of stress to the job. Organizations have got all these policies but you feel they’re only good on paper, they’re not there to protect you. And there’s this network of people protecting each other at that senior level,” she said.

3. Aid organizations don’t know how to handle reports of sexual harassment and assault, and fail to recognize the impact on victims.

While some of the victims Devex spoke to said they felt their superiors deliberately mishandled or silenced their complaints, others said that their organizations simply didn’t know how to respond. This is backed up by Mazurana’s research, which found few organizations had “robust” procedures in place detailing how to respond to a case of sexual harassment or assault against field staff. In contrast, kidnapping is something most organizations are prepared for, Mazurana said. “It’s not because kidnapping happens a lot, it’s because it paralyzes the agency when it happens, and so organizations give it priority over sexual assault,” she said.

Sarah’s first conversation with her employer after being assaulted in her hotel room in Sri Lanka revealed that the organization had no clear procedures in place, she said.

“I called the emergency line and the person was very compassionate but the first question she asked me was what had I been wearing and had I been drinking,” she said.

Terrified of being attacked again, Sarah begged the agency to send someone from Colombo, approximately a three-hour drive away from where she was staying in Galle, to be with her. The woman on the line told her she “didn’t know the protocol” and could not send anyone until the morning. “I sat in that hotel room rocking and watching the windows to see if someone was coming for seven hours straight,” Sarah recalled.

When she saw the U.N. car pull up in the morning, Sarah was disappointed to see her U.N. agency had only sent a driver — “I assumed they would send someone, a woman perhaps, to help me through it but they just sent the driver,” she said.

After a day spent being examined by two male doctors — which she described as “incredibly invasive and distressing” — followed by a psychiatrist and then going to the police station where she was asked to sign paperwork without a translator, Sarah was told by the agency that she needed to stay a second night in Galle.

“At first I thought I could do it, but then I was at the hotel and it started to get dark and I realized there was no way I could stay another night,” she said. Sarah asked the driver to take her to a friend’s house in Colombo.

It took the agency a week to fly Sarah home and even getting them to agree to that was a struggle. “Originally they said they were going to send me to their office in Bangkok but I told them absolutely not, I wanted to go home to my family where I felt safe,” she said.

4. Professional blowback for reporting assault and harassment.

Despite receiving consistently positive feedback on her performance, Jenny was given her demobilization notice three months earlier than expected and was the only member of expat staff to be “laid off” the project in Afghanistan. She is convinced she was fired because she refused to keep quiet about her attack.

“I was mugged once before while working in a different country and people were kind to me, but after this everyone treated me like a massive loser and that my attack was something to be ashamed of,” she said.

Jenny said she left the job without receiving a performance review, something she was eager to have on file to help her secure her next position. But her attempts to follow up with her former boss and colleagues were met with silence. She later found out from three colleagues that they had been told not to speak to her, she said.

Alison, who was raped by a taxi driver while working for an NGO in Peru, said her organization tried to “get rid” of her and “brush it under the carpet.” The aid worker, who was in a senior role at the organization at the time of her attack in 2014, found herself out of a job and on a flight back to the U.S. less than a year after being assaulted.

“I should have taken medical leave after it happened but I didn’t feel like I was given the opportunity, I had so much work and I was worried about my job. I felt like I was expected to just carry on and so I tried to pretend like nothing had happened but I couldn’t do it,” she said.

In the months that followed, Alison said she became reclusive and depressed, experienced panic attacks, and would often sleep at her desk because she was too afraid to be alone in her apartment. Unsurprisingly her performance at work went downhill, she said. She was told the company would not be renewing her contract  which she reluctantly accepted. But what upset her most was how quickly they made her leave.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back was being told I had to be packed up and out within a week when I had initially been told that I had six months to make the transition. I had a house, cats and a dog, people who depended on me, I couldn’t just pack up and leave. Also, I had nowhere to go,” she said.

5. Few options for victims to seek legal redress and compensation.

All of the women who spoke to Devex described how powerless they felt in terms of bringing their abuser to justice, seeking compensation from their organization for unfair dismissal or unpaid medical bills, or even simply getting support and acknowledgment from their employer for what had happened.

It took six years for Sarah to receive a response from the U.N. agency regarding her request for payment of all related medical expenses after she developed posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of her ordeal. The agency argued they weren’t liable because Sarah had been on rest and recovery leave at the time of her attack.

Jenny is still fighting her organization and seeking lost wages and reimbursement for counseling, inspired by the Steve Dennis case — an aid worker who was kidnapped while working at a refugee camp in Dadaab and successfully sued his employer, the Norwegian Refugee Council, for gross negligence and failing in its duty of care.

For consultants, ”you don’t have much of a safety net,” according to Katy, who spent most of her career as a contractor. Those working on contracts lose medical coverage shortly after their assignment ends. She is now back in her home country “repairing.” Having been twice propositioned and put under pressure by senior colleagues, she says that — as much as she loved emergency relief work — she can no longer go through the “stress of keeping everyone happy and compromising your ethics and integrity so you can get another contract.”

Alison said she sought legal advice after being fired. Her lawyer told her that although she had a case, it would “take years” to get through the courts.

“There are myriad barriers for survivors not only [in] receiving some form of justice, but also the support that they may need to heal from their experiences,” Nobert, of Report the Abuse, said. Nonexistent or unresponsive complaint systems, the lack of functioning or appropriate legal systems, and contract issues that result in loss of medical support if one leaves their organization, are just a few examples of such barriers.

While many of these are difficult to address, she said, they are not insurmountable. Humanitarian organizations should respond by putting in place their own robust complaint and investigative systems. “The key is having humanitarian organizations committed to creating safe workplaces for their employees,” Nobert added.

https://www.devex.com/news/sexual-assault-and-harassment-in-the-aid-sector-survivor-stories-

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Kolkata- Two teachers sexually abuse 4-year-old in school #WTFnews

Kolkata: A four-year-old student of a prominent south Kolkata English-medium school was allegedly sexually abused by two teachers inside aschool toilet on Thursday.

Both teachers were arrested on Friday after the girl gave a video statement and identified them from a set of four photographs shown by investigators.

The girl and her parents were allegedly given the runaround over police jurisdiction and getting a medical examination, for more than 24 hours before the culprits were finally arrested.

The girl’s father said the family first approached the Netaji Nagar police station to lodge a complaint but were taken to Jadavpur police station, apparently because the place of the crime—the school campus — fell in the latter’s jurisdiction. Worse, Jadavpur police station allegedly asked the parents for a medical examination before registering a complaint. The girl’s medical tests were finally completed on Friday.

PT teachers Avishek Roy

(32) and Md Mofizul (30) were arrested and charged under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, which carry a maximum punishment of life imprisonment. Calling the incident heinous, Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee promised the guilty would be punished. The parents told police the teachers lured their daughter with chocolate to an unattended school toilet on Thursday and then sexually abused her. The girl was too shocked to tell her mother anything at first, but recounted her horror later.

When the child complained of pain in her genital area and passed blood in her urine, the mother took her to a doctor, who told her the child had been sexually assaulted. “Our daughter told us two teachers at the school took her to the toilet and touched her private parts,” the girl’s father, who is the regional head of an Indian MNC, said. Police have denied the parents were made to run around. “The parents reached the Netaji Nagar police station at 9.25pm on Thursday. The in-charge there arranged for a vehicle to take the little girl and her dad to Jadavpur police station,” a police officer said. Cops at Jadavpur police station said they wanted to hurry up the process of the medical exam to ensure no evidence was lost and, therefore, took the girl’s family to the hospital first.

The incident sent shockwaves through Kolkata, sparking protests at the school, with many parents laying siege to the campus. “Is it too much to expect the school to guarantee my child’s protection on the campus?” an angry parent asked. Denying the allegations, the school principal said no PT classes were scheduled on Thursday, and the girl’s mother had not complained of anything amiss when she came to pick her daughter up from the school.

MP won’t discuss rape with its kids

Schoolgirls who came to watch a debate on women safety in the MP Assembly were told to leave the House on Friday because some legislators felt “sensitive topics” like gangrape shouldn’t be discussed in the presence of minors. The debate began during adjournment motion when the Opposition brought up gangrape of a 19-year-old in Bhopal. TNN

Parents kept teachers confined to the campus till late on Friday and demanded the principal’s resignation and arrest

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#UPCivicPolls2017 -Saharanpur candidate who got zero votes says, ‘even my vote wasn’t counted’

A picture of Shabana, the independent candidate who raised questions over EVM

A video posted on Twitter raises serious questions on the credibility of EVMs as an independent candidate from Saharanpur alleges fraud

“At least my family had voted for me, how can I get zero votes,” asks Shabana, an independent candidate from Shaharanpur in Uttar Pradesh civic polls. Her husband adds, “where did my vote vanish?”

“We at least had three votes from our family, but we must at least have had 900 votes,” claims her husband in the video posted by an Aaj Tak journalist. “EVM me sarasar gadbadi hai,” he adds is complete disdain.

यूपी निकाय चुनाव : सहारनपुर के नूरबस्ती से निर्दलीय उम्मीदवार शबाना ने EVM पर उठाए सवाल, कहा मैंने और मेरे परिवार ने तो मुझे वोट दिया था तो फिर मुझे 0 वोट कैसे मिले? शबाना के पति ने पूछा, मैंने जो वोट दिया वो कहां गया?

It is worth noting that it was the first time when Saharanpur, West Uttar Pradesh, saw municipal polls take place and it was earlier reported that In Saharanpur, the names of many voters were found missing from the voters’ list.

Actually, on the day of voting, reports of faulty EVMs had emerged from various places including Meerut and Saharanpur where people had alleged that no matter which party they were voting for, their votes were counted as BJPs. During the 1st phase of UP civic polls, AAP leader Atishi Marlena demanded the Election Commission to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations that EVMs used in the Uttar Pradesh civic body polls were casting votes only for the BJP at several places.

Marlena told reporters that cases of EVM malfunctioning were also reported during polls in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand. The one thing common in all cases was that the vote went to the BJP no matter which button was pressed, she claimed. “These cases should be thoroughly investigated by the Election Commission,” she had said.

Although the counting is still in progress, BJP is poised to win most of the seats but such allegations, both on the day of election as well as the counting day, is going to put a question mark on the manner of the victory and its credibility.

However, BJP lost all six Nagar Panchayats in Dy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya’s home town, Kaushambi. The saffron party also lost the Gorakhnath ward in Gorakhpur, which is seen as Yogi Adityanath’s bastion.

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/national/faulty-evms-saharanpur-candidate-who-got-zero-votes-says-even-my-vote-wasnt-counted

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The proposed FRDI Bill will make the recovery of Indian economy impossible

 
New Delhi: “If demonetisation imperilled Indian economy in the short term, GST did it for the medium to long term, but with the implementation of the proposed FRDI Bill, the path to recovery will be impossible,” Gautam Mody, General Secretary of NTUI said in a meeting organised by All India Bank Officer’s Confederation (AIBOC), National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), and New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) titled ‘Last battle to save the Public Sector Banks’ at the Constitution Club of India, today (November 29). Mody said that the multi-pronged solution of the NPAs – Recapitalisation, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) and Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Bill – do not have a sustainable solution for the recovery of bad loans.
 
A Critique of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017 titled ‘Wrong Diagnosis, Harmful Prescription’ jointly published by AIBOC, NAPM, NTUI and Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA) was released at the meeting.
 
Speaking at the occasion legal scholar, Dr Usha Ramanathan said that the major economic decisions are taken without any consultation or public debate. Referring to the mandatory and forced use of UID for all financial transactions she said,  “extraordinary ambitions of the technology makers are putting the monetary system of this country under brutal attack.”
 
Thomas Franco, General Secretary of AIBOC, said that the bill would have an adverse impact on the common people, who deposit money at the Bank to earn interest. Moreover, the bill provides for a cap on the withdrawal as a measure for the banks to increase the spending and bridge the losses caused by faulty lending. 
 
Drawing attention to the recovery rate of the National Company Law Tribunal, he mentioned that in the first case of insolvency, the recovery rate was just six percent. He asked for the need the to fix the accountability of the Bank’s management, RBI representatives, and Finance Ministry representatives in the case of defaults.
 
Economist Meera Nangia drew the attention of the audience on the steep haircuts, which causes loss to the public and the capability of all 22 Asset Reconciliation Companies, which have a capital of Rs 100 crore each as capital. She asked, “How will they deal with the total NPA, which by government’s conservative estimates if of over 8 lakh crore?” 
 
The Public sector as a whole and specifically the banking sector is on the brink of an overhaul, Madhuresh Kumar, National Convenor of NAPM said. He added that the privatisation of banks has been one of the coveted goals of liberalisation policies, but has been resisted by the bank employees and progressive people in general. Despite this, there has been a concerted effort to privatise public sector bank over the decades. This time, the government is using the NPA crisis to further the agenda of privatisation.
 
The proposed Bill seeks to destroy the value of the industries, which are assets of the society and not only of the promoters. Mody said. The Asset Resolution Companies will take away the value of these assets by breaking up the company and selling it in parts. The Bill doesn’t seek to punish the promoters, who followed the wrong policies.
 
Background:
Attempts to privatise the public sector banks have been ongoing since the economic reforms. The current crisis with the rising NPAs in the banking sector is being used as another opportunity to overhaul the banking system. With years of propaganda of an inefficient public sector, a climate of disinvestment is only perfect to liquidate any public sector financial institution! Hence what we are facing today is not just an NPA crisis is a conscious effort to reverse the nationalisation of banks and to end public sector.
 
The combination of merging small banks to create a few ‘lending giants’ along with the introduction of payment banks is a perfect way to end brick and mortar branches. The proposals of ‘haircuts’ (a fancy term for write-offs,) the policy of demonetisation, evergreening of loans, selling bad loans at a pittance to asset reconstruction companies are all measures that would further weaken the public sector banks.  A slew of legislation on banking sector, in the form of, the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC), 2016, the Banking Regulation (Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 and the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017 were introduced in haste and without a debate in order to make the PSBs weak and subservient. Particularly the FRDI puts most of the PSBs under the threat of being liquidated.
 
Banks apart, the entire public sector is facing disinvestment, privatisation, and selling of assets and resources in the name of cutting losses. It is vital for all progressive sections of the society, cutting across political affiliations to come together in building a rock-solid resistance. 
 
Link of Wrong Diagnosis, Harmful Prescription: A Critique of Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017: http://www.cenfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/FRDI-critique-Draft-Nov-29-2017.pdf 

 

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