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Archives for : February2018

Judge Loya case: Entire 2014 case diary missing; police acknowledge overwriting in death report copy

While the original Sitabuldi PS case diary for entire 2014 is missing, NH has accessed documents showing the SI of Sitabuldi PS acknowledges overwriting in the carbon copy of Judge Loya’s death report

The mystery surrounding the death of CBI Special Judge Brijgopal Harkishan Loya—who at the time of his death was hearing the sensitive Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case in which BJP president Amit Shah was an accused—has taken yet another dark turn. Judge Loya allegedly died of cardiac arrest in Nagpur on December 1, 2014, when he had gone to attend the wedding of a colleague’s daughter. Earlier, doubts were raised over an electrocardiography (ECG) done on Loya at Dande Hospital, the first of the two Nagpur hospitals he was taken to after he allegedly complained of chest pain in the early hours of December 1, 2014.

Now it transpires that the station case diary for the entire year of 2014 of Sitabuldi Police Station in Nagpur —where the first police records in the case were filed— has gone missing. The case had been transferred from Sitabuldi to the Sadar Police Station in Nagpur on December 1. The original death report (Marg Khabri), which was in the case papers at Sadar Police Station, has been submitted in the Supreme Court by the Maharashtra Government. The Caravan reported that “The submitted documents include an Accidental Death Report registered at Nagpur’s Sitabuldi police station, which has jurisdiction over Meditrina [Hospital]. In it, Loya’s time and date of death is recorded as 6.15 am on “30/11/2014”—a day before he died.”

But the carbon copy of the original which remains at Sitabuldi Police Station has discrepancies from this original. National Herald has not seen the original death report described by The Caravan which was submitted in the Supreme Court; however, NH has accessed the carbon copy of this original death report at Sitabuldi Police Station, bearing the police station’s stamp. On close examination, it appears that the date of the incident and date of registration of the case was purportedly first recorded as November 30, 2014 but was later overwritten to December 1, 2014. The time of incident on the carbon copy has been recorded as 4 am, however the time of registration of the death report on the carbon copy was purportedly first entered as 6:30 am but was later overwritten to show 8.30 am. The time of death has been recorded as 6:15 am.

Carbon copy of front page of the original death report; entries 5, 6 and 7 highlighted

Carbon copy of front page of the original death report; entries 5, 6 and 7 highlighted

On the reverse side of the carbon copy of the death report seen by NH, is a handwritten note in Marathi written by the Senior Inspector of Sitabuldi Police Station Hemantkumar Kharabe, in which he concedes to the over-writing on entries 5, 6 and 7 of the carbon copy. Entries 5,6 and 7 are the entries described above, relating to time and date of filing of the report. Kharabe’s note—accompanied by the stamp of the Sitabuldi Police Station—translated in English from Marathi says “When the original document is inspected, there is an over-writing in serial numbers 5 and 6, 7 of the marg khabari. The copy of the same document is Xeroxed and it is true”.

Reverse side of the carbon copy of the original death report with handwritten note (highlighted) of SI Hemantkumar Kharabe bearing stamp of Sitabuldi Police Station, in which Kharabe acknowledges overwriting in entries 5, 6 and 7 of the carbon copy

Reverse side of the carbon copy of the original death report with handwritten note (highlighted) of SI Hemantkumar Kharabe bearing stamp of Sitabuldi Police Station, in which Kharabe acknowledges overwriting in entries 5, 6 and 7 of the carbon copy

NH has also accessed a document dated January 26, 2018 bearing the stamp of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sitabuldi, Nagpur, which says the Sitabuldi police have no information about whether they verified the identity of Dr Prashant Rathi —who had taken possession of Loya’s body after the post mortem at Nagpur Medical College, declaring that the deceased judge was “relative of my uncle”—as the case was transferred to Sadar Police Station. However, NH has accessed the Varas Pavati (handover of body) form dated December 1, 2014 which shows that the handover of Judge Loya’s body to Dr Prashant Rathi, with the description of being Loya’s uncle’s chulat bhau (cousin), was signed by Sitabuldi Police Station.

The Varas Pavati clearly showing the handover of Judge Loya’s body to Dr Prashant Rathi (highlighted) with the description of being Loya’s uncle’s chulat bhau (cousin; highlighted) was signed by Sitabuldi Police Station (highlighted)

The Varas Pavati clearly showing the handover of Judge Loya’s body to Dr Prashant Rathi (highlighted) with the description of being Loya’s uncle’s chulat bhau (cousin; highlighted) was signed by Sitabuldi Police Station (highlighted)

The documents dated January 26, 2018 bearing the stamp of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sitabuldi, Nagpur further reveal that the vehicle details of the ambulance and identity details of the driver—who transported the body of Judge Loya from Nagpur to his ancestral home at Gategaon in Latur district— are also not available in the Sitabuldi Station diary register.

Portion of the document dated January 26, 2018 bearing stamp of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sitabuldi, Nagpur; highlights show relevant portions on missing 2014 station diary, non availability of ambulance and driver details and whether identity of Dr Prashant Rathi was verified or not

Portion of the document dated January 26, 2018 bearing stamp of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Sitabuldi, Nagpur; highlights show relevant portions on missing 2014 station diary, non availability of ambulance and driver details and whether identity of Dr Prashant Rathi was verified or not

The Supreme Court is currently hearing petitions asking for investigation into the circumstances of the death of Judge Loya. On February 2, the apex court resumed hearing on the pleas seeking a probe into Judge Loya’s death. The next date of hearing is February 5.

The Congress has also demanded an independent and impartial probe, saying that not just Judge Loya, but also a retired district judge and a lawyer, both from Nagpur and who Loya had confided in, also allegedly died under suspicious circumstances.

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/investigation/judge-loya-case-2014-case-diary-missing-police-acknowledges-overwriting-in-copy-of-death-report

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Please Don’t Communalise My Son’s Murder: Ankit’s Father to Press, Politicians

“I had one son. If I get justice, it’s good. If not, even then I don’t have hatred against any community. I have no such (communal) thinking,” Yashpal told Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari who had come to meet him

 

NEW DELHI — Father of Ankit Saxena, the youth allegedly killed by father of his female Muslim friend, is very upset with the way the media has projected the issue. Ankit’s father Yashpal has appealed to media and politicians not to politicize and communalise the incident.

“I had one son. If I get justice, it’s good. If not, even then I don’t have hatred against any community. I have no such (communal) thinking. I am unable to understand why the media is showing this issue in that way,” Yashpal told Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari who had come to meet him Saturday evening.

“They (media persons) come and talk to me so softly and lovingly but show something else on TV. My relatives, neighbors come and tell me about what is being shown on TV channels. They are using words like ‘premi’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Mazhab’ and twisting facts. All are making just stories,” Ankit’s father is seen speaking in a video captured on mobile.

As per media reports, Ankit, a photographer by profession, and second-year college student Shahzadi, had developed friendship when their families were living in the same neighborhood in a west Delhi area. It is said they were about to marry. But girl’s family was against this relationship and had warned the youth. On Thursday evening, when the girl did not return home, her family got suspicious that she might have been kidnapped by the youth. Around 9 PM, they confronted him on the street and during the scuffle that followed, he was allegedly stabbed by the girl’s father.

अंकित के पिता ने मनोज तिवारी से कहा कि उन्हें इंसाफ चाहिए। किसी धर्म से उन्हें नफरत नहीं है। यहां कुछ लोग हमसे बात करते हैं लेकिन उसे मज़हब से जोड़कर दिखा रहे हैं। परिवार के रहा है जो भी जुड़े दिल से जुड़े फ़ोटो ना खिंचवाएं। आप भी आएं तो इंसाफ के लिए हो किसी और चीज़ के लिए नहीं।

The local police have arrested girl’s father, mother, uncle and minor brother.

In the 2-minute video, a young relative of Yashpal also strongly condemned the way media is dramatizing the whole incident.

“Media is taking it as a joke. They are showing him (Ankit) as one going on scooter and from behind a Muslim stabbing him. What the hell is it? Big headlines are flashing like ‘Horror Murder in Delhi,’” says the relative who addresses Yashpal as ‘Mausa’ (mother’s sister’s husband).

Rebutting a fake point, father said: “Someone said that girl’s mother had called him (Ankit). All this is false and fake.”

The grieved family told people, while BJP president Tiwari was sitting there, not to come just for photo-op.

“We want only justice, no money no help,” said the relative and with folded hands, he continued: “If anyone is joining us they should join us by heart. If someone is coming only for photo-op, then Sir, we will fight our case ourselves. We have already lodged a case. Sir, if you have come here, that should be only for justice.”

Father said: “I know Manoj ji. He is on a high post. I hope he will help me get justice.”

“We have no lust and no hatred against anyone,” said Ankit’s father who is said to be heart patient.

After the meeting, BJP president Manoj Tiwari tweeted: “Met father and other members of #AnkitSaxena. Family demanded medical help immediately for Ankit’s Mother, arranged. It was Preplanned professional killing on road..#JusticeForAnkit @DelhiPolice has arrested 4 accused and assured filling of chargesheet on fast track basis.”

Please Don’t Communalise My Son’s Murder: Ankit’s Father to Press, Politicians

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Breaking news: Special #Aadhaar for mothers

40 million cows to get Aadhaar-like number at cost of Rs 50 crore in 1st phase

About Rs 200 crore has been set aside for an artificial insemination drive to improve cattle breeds, with an aim to “upgrade” the nation’s entire cattle population.

Deliverable targets in this year’s Union budget show Rs 50 crore for the project to cover 40 million cattle.
Deliverable targets in this year’s Union budget show Rs 50 crore for the project to cover 40 million cattle.(HT File Photo)

Just like the 12-digit Aadhaar number for every Indian, the Narendra Modi government is set to assign each of the country’s milk-producing cows a cheap, unique identity card or UID, first proposed in 2015.

Deliverable targets in this year’s Union budget show Rs 50 crore for the project to cover 40 million cattle.

A dairy department official, requesting anonymity, said the agriculture ministry, which will implement the programme, has already acquired the UID technology that comes with a cheap, tamper-proof polyurethane tag containing the cow’s biological details such as breed, age, sex, height and special body marks. Each card will cost between Rs 8 and Rs 10.

Named Pashu Sanjivini, the animal UID scheme is part of a larger programme for the dairy and fisheries sectors.

These sectors are crucial if officials are to get serious on doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022, a target set by the government. Economists say this is nearly impossible from cultivation alone because a majority of Indian farmers can’t achieve economy of scale as they work on small parcels of land.

In a budget speech seen as pro-poor, finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday announced a Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund and an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund worth Rs10,000 crore. About Rs200 crore has been set aside for an artificial insemination drive to improve cattle breeds, with an aim to “upgrade” the nation’s entire cattle population.

The agriculture ministry’s Rashtriya Gokul Mission claims that milk from indigenous cattle was healthier due to higher content of “A2 allele of beta casein”, a protein. It seeks to upgrade commonplace breeds using elite indigenous stocks such as Gujarat’s Gir, Rajasthan’s Sahiwal and Rathi, Deoni, Tharparkar and Red Sindhi of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Both projects are part of “output” and “outcomes” targets set in the budget, which will be monitored by the NITI Aayog. India has about 45 million “in-milk”, or milch, cattle.

“Animal husbandry gets only 5.4% of the overall agricultural ministry budget despite livestock being the most critical sector for most marginalised farmers,” Kavitha Kuruganti, a farm activist said.

In the 2017-18 budget, the government scrapped the traditional distinction between “plan” and “non-plan” distinction of expenditure, switching instead to revenue and capital expenditure. This allowed the setting of budget “output and outcome” targets, starting last year. According to this year’s budget, the deliverable target is enrolment of 40 million cattle while the outcome is a “20% increase in milk production”. In policymaking parlance, output is a quantitative result, while outcome refers to qualitative impacts.

For artificial insemination, the output target is 1.50 million sex-sorted doses to “increase availability of high genetic merit heifers”. A heifer is a cow that has not borne a calf. The overall outcome spelt out by the budget are jobs for 100,000 people, 15% increase in artificial insemination and a Rs 15,000-crore jump of value in milk output.

In 2015, a government committee had recommended UID for cows to prevent trafficking following a Supreme Court direction that heard a plea to stop cattle smuggling.

According to the 2015 expert committee’s recommendations, owners of cattle will be responsible for registration. “Registration proof must be maintained by the owner of the cattle which may be transferred to the next owner in case a legitimate sale/transfer takes place,” it had stated.

https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/40-million-cows-to-get-aadhaar-like-number-at-cost-of-rs-50-crore-in-1st-phase/story-9f50M1CkgBoCSym5SR1VzL.html

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Modicare is more an election gimmick than a real solution to India’s health needs

By- T.Sundararaman

 

After many consecutive years, when the budget speeches of finance minister had little to say on health and provoked even less discussion on it, one was taken by surprise to find every commentary on the budget highlighting the new health scheme as one of the major takeaways. Many went so far as to say that being a pre-election year- the government had finally decided to invest in health. The Prime Minister came on air to claim this as the largest health assurance scheme ever proposed anywhere in the world. The Finance Minister’s press conference also highlights the new health schemes as one of the two major pro-poor measures of the budget. Even most opposition leaders gave it a cautious welcome, though almost all added that they were unsure whether the necessary funds were allocated.

But what is the reality? A cursory study of the budget leads to considerable disappointment.

Firstly if we compare with last years revised estimates, the increase in budgetary outlay is trivial , and in real terms probably stagnant.  On some key components, especially the National Health Mission there is a decline. The fact that last year the revised estimates for health were significantly higher than initial budgetary allocation, shows that the health department was not only able to spend the resources allocated to it, but needed more to keep essential operations going. Thus in its summary “Expenditure of Major Items”( pg 10 of budget papers) the Budgetary Estimates for 2017-18 is Rs 48,878 crores, the Revised Estimates are for 53,198 crores and the Budgetary Allocation for the current year is Rs 54 667 crores. Thus this year’s allocation is a 11.8% increase over last year’s allocation but only a 2.7% increase over the revised estimates!! In terms of public health expenditure as proportion of GDP, it has declined further.

Since the budget summary conflates administrative expenditure and some new entities of unknown provenance with the outlay on schemes that are meant to reach the population, the Outlay on Major Schemes in pg 16 of the document is a better guide. Four schemes are visible in this summary. The first and most important of these is the National Health Mission(NHM). Last year’s allocation was Rs 27,131 crores which had to be increased to Rs 31,292 crores in the revised estimates. This years budgetary allocation of Rs 30,634 crores is a 11.4% increase over the initial budgetary allocation and is a 2.1 % decline in over last years revised estimates. One of the big ideas of this budgetary speech and of the previous years budgetary speech as well is the concept of health and wellness centers. In this year’s speech the finance minister is even more explicit : “The National Health Policy, 2017 has envisioned Health and Wellness Centres as the foundation of India’s health system. These 1.5 lakh centres will bring health care system closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services.  These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. I am committing `1200 crore in this budget for this flagship programme.  I also invite contribution of private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions in adopting these centres.”

Opening up health and wellness centers would indeed be a big step forward, and much more protective of health and health care than other approaches. This is a concept very similar to the way universal primary health care is provided in nations like United Kingdom, Thailand and Brazil whose universal health care is built around this approach. This has far more to contribute to achieving universal health coverage than any insurance scheme paying for hospitalization services. However a health and wellness center requires even by current government projections about Rs 17 lakhs to operationalize and 1200 crores would pay for about 10,000 of these – which would mean a coverage of about 3 to 5 crore population, which would be less than 7% of the target. One would have needed at least 15,000 crores to implement this, and better costed it would probably require in the region of Rs 30,000 crores. But the real surprise, the brazenness of the jumla, is that even this paltry Rs 1200 crores cannot be located in the budget details- and is possibly a part of the NHM scheme outlay. Since the scheme outlay stagnates, it means some essential expenditure of the previous year, would have to be diverted to pay for this scheme.

This has been a feature of past budgets also when new initiatives are announced ( like the dialysis scheme last year), but its funding has to be found within the NHM outlay, which however does not increase in a commensurate fashion.

The other important scheme that is visible as a major scheme is the AIDS control programme. Here too we see the same pattern. It was under funded last year at Rs 2000 crores, revised to Rs 2163 crores in the revised estimates and now sanction Rs 2100 crores which is less than the revised estimate of Rs 2163 crores. There were grave reports of stock outs of anti- HIV drugs in previous years. Such reductions in public health services, whether it takes the form of under-financing disease control programmes or public health systems strengthening place the nation at risk from different forms of public health emergencies. Insurance programmes will do little to avert or address such a risk, and the impact of such an emergency will be across all segments of the population and could even set back the nation’s economic progress.

The PMSSY (Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana), a misleading name, since it pays for building new AIIMS like institutions, also faces a budget cut as compared to last years allocations, though its aspirations have been expanded even further.

But coming to the insurance programme.  In contrast to the full blast projection of the great benefits of the scheme, here are a few quick reality-check facts:

  1. The scheme was in fact announced in the 2016 budget- the only difference being that the sum assured was raised from 30,000 to 1.5 lakh instead of Rs 5 lakhs cover as proposed now. In two years since it could not be operationalized- and last year even 50% of its funds could not be spent. One simple reason for this is that many large states already have much better designed insurance schemes in place and for over 95% of requirements this ceiling is quite adequate. Even now this problem remains.
  2. The finance secretary Mr Hasmukh Adhia agrees in a post budget interview that it would still take 6 more months to finalize the scheme and then perhaps a few more months to contract insurance agencies and providers and therefore in his view it is uncertain whether the scheme would be fully implemented this year. This sum according to him is therefore a token amount. We may add that it is uncertain that it will be implemented before the next elections, though it will no doubt give the ruling party a huge electoral talking point. This promise of 5 lakhs rupees of treatment cost being met by government for each family is a spin that can be quite convincing if most media channels choose to amplify this uncritically.
  3. The financial requirement for this scheme if we go by experience of the premiums paid in the successful state run schemes would be not less than Rs 3000 per household- which would mean an outlay of close to Rs 30,000 crores. The current 2000 crores is less than what state governments are spending on similar schemes for each of their respective states. There is of course the possibility that the central government may give a small top-up to what the states are spending and then include these state schemes- but it is unlikely that these states would agree.
  4. A large number of studies and the National Sample Surveys have now shown that the existing government health insurance schemes which already claim to cover close to 400 million people, are failing to provide financial protection.  Catastrophic health expenditures remain at more or less the same levels, with and without government funded insurance coverage. Even on improving access to hospitalization care the jury is out. .
  5. There are widespread reports of profiteering by private hospitals with increase in irrational and unnecessary care. These are well known world-wide, and referred to as ‘moral hazards’ in medical insurance industry and in academic literature.  But in the Indian context where there is very little regulation of private sector and weak governance, these problems become much more pervasive and intense.
  6. A wide welcome by some of the leading corporate healthcare chain leaders notably Trehan and Devi Shetty should leave us more reflective. The raising of the sum assured from Rs 1.5 lakhs to 5 lakhs was not a key barrier that existing schemes were facing. In most circumstances Rs 1.5 lakh was quite adequate. If there are some conditions like burns or some complex cancers which need more, disease specific exceptions could be made. These rates or reimbursement were however still too low for participation of elite corporate hospital chains. Currently in most states only one in five private hospitals gets empanelled and the rest are rejected on some technical grounds, usually related to quality. These are part of informal ways of controlling the expenditure and rationing care. Those private hospitals that get empanelled would no doubt have a market advantage over those who do not. Hitherto, the large corporate chains were unwilling to participate because reimbursement rates were too low. The increase to Rs 5 lakhs cover has addressed this complaint of the corporate sector.  If with corporate influence reimbursement rates are now negotiated upwards and quality standards tipped in favor of corporate providers,   the advantages that affordable private care providers had so far would be lost. This would help corporate consolidation of the market.

 

 

So to sum it up, the national health protection scheme is just a scheme being re-announced; the funds allocated for it would not be enough to get the scheme going on scale; that this scheme would be overlapping or even interfering with well-established state schemes; and that though it could potentially provide vide financial protection or improved access, recent experience with similar schemes indicate that these benefits are elusive; and there are enough reasons to believe that this scheme would bring a significant increase in profits for private healthcare industry which is perhaps the intention of the scheme, and finally it could help corporate healthcare providers consolidate, at the cost of more affordable smaller providers and enterprises.

 

But there is one more jumla element in this health budget that is probably the biggest and most dangerous. (the word jumla would probably make it into the next Oxford Dictionary edition). In the budget speech the finance minister states “This will be the world’s largest government funded health care programme.” Since then, this line has been the very emphatically articulated and repeated by the Prime Minister himself and broadcast from all television channels. Repeated often enough it can get accepted as the truth. But let us take a step back. World’s largest government funded healthcare programme? Really? How so? Is not, for example, the National Health Mission with a 30,000 crore budget covering a 120 crore population, a much larger scheme?? Are not even earlier programmes like the reproductive and child health care also very large healthcare programmes reaching more beneficiaries and with much more funds. What is the large public health system if not a government programme for healthcare? (Even within insurance programmes this projection would not be true. China’s comprehensive health insurance programme cover an even larger population (though very ineffectively!!).  And almost all industrialized nations with the sole exception of the United States having comprehensive universal health care schemes or national health insurance programmes with 100% coverage?)

 

By projecting the ‘sum assured’ of an insurance coverage as if it is the sum allocated under the scheme to each household, and packaging this promise as “Modicare” a powerful electoral strategy is being forged. Would it work? As an electoral jumla at least?  We do not know. Perhaps it might. But the more lasting effect and perhaps the intention of this particular jumla is that it attempts to create a popular discourse where health insurance schemes are perceived as the only healthcare schemes – and attention is taken away from the central task of the government which is to provide equitable and affordable healthcare to all its citizens. The USA is the only country where such an equation is made. Accepting this discourse unquestioningly and decrying only lack of funding for Modicare, and making it an implementation issue could be a trap – since Modicare as it stands now  is more geared to taking care of corporate healthcare industry interests in the name of the poor, than the health needs of the poor.

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Adani Group accused of lying before the Australian court #StopAdani

 

If found guilty of perjury, representatives of Adani Group could face a maximum jail term of 14 years, as per the law in Queensland

The Adani Group has been accused of omitting damning findings about the environmental contamination being caused by its upcoming coal project in Australia, in documents it submitted before a Queensland court.

The Guardian reported that the Indian business giant had submitted an altered laboratory report as it appealed a $12,000 fine for spilling water contaminated with coal into wetlands located next to the Great Barrier Reef in the Queensland state.

The UK-headquartered news website noted that the Australia’s Department of Environment found that the the findings submitted before the court didn’t include findings on pollution levels, which in turn were found out to be much worse than the company had originally claimed.

The discrepancy in Adani’s report came to light after representatives from Department of Environment were preparing their defence in a court case filed by Adani against the government body. Adani is disputing the the claim that the group’s Abbott Point Bulkcoal, part of $21 billion Carmichael Coal Mine, polluted the surrounding waters.

According to the news report, Adani’s coal project had been allowed a limit of 100 milligrams of coal per litre of water that it could discharge in the waters. The company, however, informed the court in April last year that it had been discharging 806 milligrams per litre of coal-laden water, in the wake of which it was fined $12,000 for breaching the environmental rule.

It was later discovered that the actual discharge was 834 mg per litre, higher than even 806 that the Adani Group had been claiming in the court. The actual discharge rate of 834 wasn’t mentioned in the document submitted before the court, it has been revealed.

It is not clear at this stage if the Adani Group will be tried for perjury in the matter. Lying under oath can attract a maximum jail term of 14 years, as per the law in Queensland.

Adani’s coal mine in Australia, slated to be the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere if fully-operational, faces an uncertain future after the re-elected Labor government in Queensland vetted a federal loan to the project in November.

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Uttarkhand- ‘ #Aadhaar took away whatever we were getting’ #AadhaarFail

Many widows, disabled and elderly in Uttarakhand without pension for months due to Aadhaar glitches

Dhari Ram is among at least 50,000 widows, disabled and elderly in Uttarakhand who have not received their pensions for 15 months, since October 2016, because of not ‘seeding’ their Aadhaar details

With the high cost of commuting to Aadhaar centres in hilly Uttarakhand and other glitches, at least 50,000 people in the state—widows, disabled, the elderly—have not received their pension for months

Dhari Ram walks unsteadily, his hands clutching a walking stick, forehead and eyes creased due to the harsh sun of the hills of Gadiura village in Champawat district of Uttarakhand. He is suffering from a hernia, but has no money for a surgery, which will involve travelling 150 kilometres to the government hospital in Tanakpur, or to one in Haldwani, which is even further away.

“I can’t earn even a rupee a month,” he says. So Dhari Ram, 67, a former labourer, a stone-breaker, depends entirely on his old age pension of ₹1,000, which he started getting from the state government seven years ago. That precious monthly amount stopped getting credited into his bank account in October 2016. It stopped after the state government discontinued the pension scheme for those who had not submitted their Aadhaar details to the social welfare department of their district.

Dhari Ram did go to register his details at the department in Champawat town, around 65 km from his village, in April 2017. He also has an Aadhaar card, which he got three years ago when a privately-operated centre was opened in  Bhingrara, a nodal area for around 10 nearby villages.  But the name on the card—which he keeps carefully in a plastic cover—is ‘Dhani Ram’. And this does not match his name in the records at the social welfare department. So his pension was discontinued.

<i>Dhari Ram had not received his</i><i> pension for 15 months because his Aadhaar card (kept carefully wrapped) calls him ‘Dhani’ Ram</i>

Dhari Ram had not received his pension for 15 months because his Aadhaar card (kept carefully wrapped) calls him ‘Dhani’ Ram

Dhari Ram lives alone; his wife died around 15 years ago. Their only child, a son, lives in Delhi with his wife, and works as a labourer too. Dhari Ram does not have any land. “It’s only because of the hospitality of the people in hills that I’m still surviving,” he says in a barely audible voice. “When I go to the shops, they are kind enough to give me half a kilo rice and pulses for free. My neighbours also give me food.” But he wonders how long he must depend on them for sustenance. “They are also poor. Many of them face a similar situation as mine.”

Regional media have reported that at least 50,000 people in the state—widows, the disabled, the elderly—have not received their pensions for 15 months, since October 2016, because of not ‘seeding’ their Aadhaar details. After the news reports of December 2017, in early January the state government announced that the pensions will be credited till March 31, 2018. Beyond that date however, the government will give pensions only to people whose accounts are linked with their Aadhaar numbers, and whose details are with the social welfare department.

<i>Residents of Gadiura (left) and other villages have submitted an application demanding an Aadhaar centre in the nearby Bhingrara area</i>

Residents of Gadiura (left) and other villages have submitted an application demanding an Aadhaar centre in the nearby Bhingrara area

After the government’s announcement, Dhari Ram’s pending pension amount is likely to have been credited to his account in the Nainital Bank in Bhingrara—he has not been able to check yet. But that will stop again after March 31. So Dhari Ram has no choice but to get his name corrected on his Aadhaar card.

But the Aadhaar centre in Bhingrara, along with 500 others in Uttarakhand, was shut down, local media reported, after complaints of irregularities. The nearest government-run Aadhaar centre in Champawat also shut down in December 2017, due to overload and skirmishes over the time taken to process applications. Now the closest Aadhaar centre is in Banbasa town, 146 kilometres from Gadiura village.

“I couldn’t go to Champawat to rectify the incorrect details on my Aadhaar. It takes more than ₹500 to travel by shared taxis, spend a day there and then come back. How can I afford that?” Dhari Ram asks. “And it’s impossible for me to travel to Banbasa. It will take ₹2,000. It’s better I die here without an Aadhaar card.”

‘Once a shop sees that I don’t have money, they stop giving me rations. Then I buy my supplies from some other shop. That too stops giving me rations after some time…This is how we live…’

In Gadiura (spelt Gadura in the Census), a village of around 550 people, almost every family has been impacted by the move to link Aadhaar with basic government services. In a land where vast tracks now often run dry and unemployment is high, the Aadhaar rules have only increased the daily hardships of the villagers.

Among them is 43-year-old Asha Devi, who received her widow’s pension till October 2016. Her husband, a contractual employee with a government waterworks department, died six years ago. With her monthly pension of ₹1,000, she could send her children to the village school—three boys, aged 14, 12 and 7. When the money stopped, the two older sons dropped out. “In government schools too one has to buy exercise books. Where would I bring the money from? My sons and I can work as labourers. But there’s no work, so where will we do daily wage labour?” she asks.

WATCH VIDEOMany women in Champawat district haven’t got their widow’s pension due to incorrect details on their Aadhaar cards

So why did Asha Devi’s pension stop? Her account (in the social welfare department’s records) has her husband’s name, Govind Ballabh, while her Aadhaar card lists her father’s name, Bal Krishna. It’s another matter of course that women are required to give their husband’s or father’s name in official forms and applications.

“With the pension, I would have persuaded my children to go to school. I have some land [barely 200 square metres], but there’s no rain. I sow some coriander [for home consumption], but that doesn’t grow without enough water,” Asha Devi says. “I was buying ration from shops [in Bhingrara; rice, oil, dal, and other items] on credit. But once a shop sees that I don’t have money, they stop giving me rations. Then I buy my supplies from some other shop. That too stops giving me rations after some time. Then I go to another shop. This is how we live our life. There’s no work. There’s no money. On top of that Aadhaar took away whatever money we were getting from the government.”

WATCH VIDEO.. why do we need Aadhaar?’ asks Nityanand Bhatt

While many women here have not received pensions because of variations in their husband’s or father’s name, many men have been denied a pension all these months because of missing surnames on their Aadhaar card, or due to slight changes in the matra (vowel sign) in Hindi. Liladhar Sharma’s old age pension stopped because of such an omission. “Whose fault is it that my surname is missing from my Aadhaar [card]?” asks the 72-year-old retired farmer. “It surely isn’t mine. But I have to suffer.”

So instead of the uphill task of rectifying their Aadhaar details by making time-consuming and expensive trips to faraway centres, Sharma and others have come up with another solution: “Some of us are opening new bank accounts [with the name as it appears on the Aadhaar card] because the previous bank accounts with these mismatched details will stop working once Aadhaar becomes mandatory.”

In Satish Bhatt’s family, two pensions had stopped since October 2016—of his mother Durga Devi and mentally disabled brother Raju. Durga Devi’s Aadhaar card has her father’s name, Joga Dutt, while her widow’s pension account lists her husband’s name, Narayan Dutt Bhatt. After the recent government announcement, ₹9,000 of her pending 15 months’ pension has been credited to her account. This will stop again after March unless she rectifies the details.

<i>The disability pension of Raju Bhatt (left) was suspended for want of an Aadhaar; he enrolled and got a receipt (centre) but not the card. His mother Durga Devi’s (right) widow’s pension too stopped due to Aadhaar mismatches</i>

The disability pension of Raju Bhatt (left) was suspended for want of an Aadhaar; he enrolled and got a receipt (centre) but not the card. His mother Durga Devi’s (right) widow’s pension too stopped due to Aadhaar mismatches

However, Raju’s pension remains suspended. Satish feeds his family of six—his wife and two children, and his mother and brother—with the ₹6,000 he earns every month as a construction worker on sites around the village. In October 2017, he booked an entire car for ₹2,000 to take Raju to an Aadhaar centre in Champawat to enrol him for a card. “When my brother was asked to open his eyes for the iris scan, he would close them immediately. He’s mentally ill, many things he doesn’t understand. We can’t force him. Still, we received an acknowledgement of his enrolment. But later we were told his enrolment was rejected. He now has to be enrolled again. How can I afford spending thousands of rupees just on this?” asks Satish.

Numerous residents of nearby villages in the Bhingrara area, including Balatari, Karoli, Chalthiya, Bhingrara, Birgul and Pinana have similar painful stories. On December 23, 2017, they gave an application to the district magistrate, asking for an Aadhaar enrolment centre in Bhingrara. They haven’t yet received any response.

Dr Ranbir Singh, additional chief secretary,  social welfare department, Uttarakhand, does not dispute that at least 50,000 people in the state have not received their pension since October 2016. “Aadhaar has been made mandatory, and I am aware there are issues,” he says. “We are dealing with them. For people who have no Aadhaar cards, and people who have Aadhaar with incorrect details, for now the date has been extended to March 31, 2018. If problems persist, we will consider extending the deadline. But they have to seed their Aadhaar details in this department. And if a person’s name is misspelt on their Aadhaar card, we will take that as the final name so that the person doesn’t face any problem.”

This story was originally published on the People’s Archive of Rural Indiaon February 2, 2018

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Women Empowerment Through the Eyes of 13 year-old artist

13 year-old budding artist with Immense Talent and understanding paints on women empowerment 

By – Svetlana Chatterjee from Dubai

I had drawn this painting when i came to know about an art competition , and the theme was of my interest.

The thing that intrigued me most was not the competition itself but the theme of this competition:

At first my mind jumped to some basic ideas such as a girl smiling expressing her happiness but then I came to realise that maybe happiness is more subtle. Recent to that women’s day in the UAE  had passed and it showed me how happy all the women in the country were, how empowered they are and how futuristic they are in their thoughts, ideas and actions.

In the painting there is no smile to express joy but simply eyes.

As famously said the eyes are the window to the soul and I intended for the eyes to express a sense of hope and courage.

The right eye also has the flag of the UAE placed in it representing the sense of identity.

The skyline of Dubai gives the painting context and tells the audience about the woman’s way of living with explicitly drawing it. The striking rays of sunlight are beaming upon the hijabi lady to show how light is being shed upon women.

After taking all of these points into consideration I then decided to finally conclude this artistic journey by naming my painting ‘women’s emancipation’ in hopes of shedding my own light upon the subject of women’s empowerment.

The process of completetion.. from blank canvas

AND FINALLY  Svetlana with final touches

 

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Beware of RSS and gurus mixing Hindutva with science – Jaggi Vasu

Their act of weaving in religious discourses with science is a clever ploy to appeal to the urbane middle class.

GAUTAM BENEGAL

The comments of Jaggi Vasudev warning people not to eat during lunar eclipse, delivered a few years ago in a faint American accent (or what passes for it), had the social media abuzz recently with a great deal of support coming from people one would least expect.

During lunar eclipses, what would happen in 28 days over a full lunar cycle is happening in a subtle way over the course of two to three hours of the eclipse. In terms of energy, the earth’s energy is mistaking this eclipse as a full cycle of the moon.http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/food/food-and-lunar-eclipses-bad-combo/ 

Why Eating Food During Solar & Lunar Eclipses is Harmful

Eclipses can have a powerful effect on the human body. Here’s why eating food during an eclipse – solar or lunar – can have a harmful impact on the system.

isha.sadhguru.org

Eclipses can have a powerful effect on the human body. In this article, Sadhguru explains why eating food during a or solar eclipse can have a harmful effect on the human body.http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/lifestyle/food/food-and-lunar-eclipses-bad-combo/ 

Why Eating Food During Solar & Lunar Eclipses is Harmful

Eclipses can have a powerful effect on the human body. Here’s why eating food during an eclipse – solar or lunar – can have a harmful impact on the system.

isha.sadhguru.org

When the Puri Shankaracharya had claimed that computers have origins in the Vedas, it was business as usual. For a person with a cosmopolitan background, pooh-poohing the obvious eccentricity of staunch orthodox traditionalists like the Shankaracharya or some unsophisticated vernacular hothead when they make such comments, is to be expected. But Jaggi Vasudev is not in the same league. He is a self-styled, new-age guru whose philosophy and agenda are represented by his activities through his Isha Foundation and he has steadily been gaining a follower base among the educated middle class in India and among Indian expatriates in the US and other countries.

The same people who will not accept the gobbledygook of the Shankaracharya or that of a retired judge who says peacocks reproduce through tears, will give a lot of credence to the opinions of a Sadhguru or a Sri Sri Ravishankar, packaged as they are in pseudoscience, faux academic sophistry and very good English.

Their act of weaving in religious discourses with science is a clever ploy to appeal to the urbane middle class. Using intelligently misrepresented scientific concepts, strewn with fallacies and red herrings, they deliberately dismantle the method of scientific enquiry so that their followers adopt their supposedly superior world views.

Tired and oft-repeated revivalist clichés are infinitely more attractive when they come with quantum physics, quarks, bosons and cosmic rays.

This attractive presentation of orthodoxy, a sweetened pill for the cultured elite with deep pockets, is part of the soft gateway into the Sangh Parivar universe of beliefs that is being carefully crafted for some years now.

rss-copy_09061709535_020318062339.jpg

A year ago year ago, on March 25 and 26, a workshop titled “Gyan Sangam”, was organised by the RSS-affiliated Prajna Pravah at the Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Technology and Management. Their purported aim? The need for a “real nationalist narrative” in higher education.

As many as 721 academics, including vice-chancellors of 51 central and state universities, deliberated at a two-day closed-door seminar-cum-workshop, on how to “Indianise” the educational system of the country.

“This seminar is not organised to raise an alternative narrative, but to raise the true nationalist narrative in our educational system,” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had said during the proceedings.

The event was sectioned off into a series of sessions on international relations, political science, history, science, and archaeology with “expert sessions” on subjects like cultural “onslaught”.

Prajna Pravah national convener J Nand Kumar told reporters that the academics had “resolved to make an effort at their level” to develop a “Bharatiya” perspective in education. “… it is the duty of our academicians to decide on the content of education. If you go through the science syllabi in our universities, it is all about the West. We are not teaching our students the contributions of Indians in science.”

It has been one year since that seminar and except for repeated muscular assertions that practically everything under the sun had already been discovered or invented by the ancients of the Vedic age, there have been no fresh insights or practical applications of that ancient knowledge in the science and technology that governs our daily lives. Neither has it manifested in our town planning, our architecture, alternative power sources, nor our environment protection.

The transition of the model of a pluralist and syncretic India, to a protectionist India that sees cultural osmosis as an “onslaught” and threat to society, has been the RSS project for over half a century.

On its website, Prajna Pravah describes itself thus:

“Prajna Pravah is rational umbrella that stimulates, trains and synthesises individuals to recognise the inherent strength of Bharath with academic vigor directed towards decolonising Indian minds from Eurocentric impact. It functions with the sole vision of uplifting and reviving Hinduness in culture for emancipation of humanity. Hindutva being assimilative and self-sustaining has the potential to liberate world from arrogance of power accumulated through dictatorship policies of the west. Prajna Pravah upholds the vision of incorporating the theme of nationalism in spiritual terms so that national intellect evolves with broadened dimension lifted above economic and political context and foster a sense of innovation and creativity towards benign outlook.”

This year, once again on January 27-28, a group of intellectuals and academicians along with Prajna Pravah of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh held a seminar at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, New Delhi.

The seminar was titled “Stree Shakti in Bharatiya Thought and Practice: Interrogating Epistemic Dichotomies, Socio-Political Dialogues and Media Discourses”.

The team of GIA Foundation , Prajna Pravah and IIMC who worked tirelessly to make this two day revolutionary seminar on ‘ Bhartiya Thought and Practice’ a success.

Poonam Kumria, seminar convener and associate professor of Geography at Miranda House Delhi University, said, “The basic aim of this seminar is to entrust faith in Indian values when it comes to gender roles, we need to recognise the indigenous model of feminism. Why do we look at Indian women from the lens of western perspective? Do we not have our own logic?”

Looking past the impressive jargon, here are Hindutva’s “own logic” about women:

“Crimes against women happening in urban India are shameful. But such crimes won’t happen in Bharat or the rural areas. You go to villages and forests and there will be no such incidents.”

Mohan Bhagwat, RSS sarsanghchalak –  January 4, 2016

Bhagwat also held forth about women being “contractually bound” to do housework for their husbands. Later, he clarified that he meant this as a criticism of “western” marriages, not as a prescription for all marriages.

Krishna Sharma, leader of the VHP’s women wing, elaborated in an interview, “It is the man who must earn and support his family (while the women manages the household), his education is more important. This division of labour is natural.” (Quoted in Women and the Hindu Right: A Collection of Essays)

Clearly, Bhagwat’s ideas on women being bound to housework are not accidental; RSS leaders say this as a matter of course.

In the same interview, asked, “What advice would you give to a victim of wife-beating?”, Krishna Sharma had replied, “Don’t parents admonish their children for misbehaviour? Just as a child must adjust to his/her parents, so must a wife act keeping in mind her husband’s moods and must avoid irritating him. Only this can keep the family together.”

Krishna Sharma’s words on wife-beating are echoed verbatim by Sharda, a Rashtra Sevika Sangh activist, when a reporter recently asked her about wife beating. President of BJP Mahila Morcha, Mridula Sinha, had similarly told the Telegraph, 1993: “I gave dowry for my daughter and received dowry for my son…. Wife-beating is bad, but if it has to be done to bring the woman on proper track it’s all right… Women in their own life should not take independent decisions about marriage and other things. The family should take these decisions.”

RSS founder, MS Golwalkar held that Manu was the “first and greatest lawgiver of the world”, and suggested that the Manusmriti, which is abhorrent and discriminatory towards women and deprived castes, should be the Constitution of independent India. In Golwalkar’s Bunch of Thoughts, the chapter “Call to the Motherhood”, asks Hindu women to avoid being “modern”.

According to Golwalkar, women who enjoy the freedom and equality of modernity, lack in virtue and think that “modernism lies in exposing their body more and more to the public gaze”.

At the seminar, Kumari went on to say further that, “For women family is more important so as a supplementing act they work at home. The feminism we see now has created contradictions when there are not any in reality,”

And from their concept note:

“Third World feminism has been largely influenced by theories and paradigms in feminism, coming in from the first world [countries]. These have not been accepted without critique. It appears that in India contemporary feminists have been manipulated through marketing and mainstream media and sold a clichéd lifestyle as politics and political opposition. Thus while it is feminist to consume the latest clothes and addictive substances that the market offers, these remain lifestyle choices rather than opposition to patriarchy.”

But what is ominous is the statement the Prajna Pravah came out with last year in its workshop on Indian values on the “culture of protests”.

Nand Kumar objected to the “culture of protests” or even the practice of “cultural evenings” in the educational institutions and called them not part of “our real culture”.

“What’s going here (educational institutes) in the name of culture is actually an onslaught on our real culture – be it cultural evenings or the culture of protests. It badly affects young minds and poisons the environment of our educational institutes.”

When you add a clampdown on skepticism and inquiry with xenophobia and revivalism, it is a toxic mix for the state of education in any country.

Obviously, nothing of the authoritarianism or patriarcy has changed since the time of Golwalkar except for the post-modern jargon. Words like “epistemic dichotomies” do not hide age-old intentions.

But like the Sadhguru’s mumbo jumbo, it does make an impact on the educated middle class, superficial though it may be.https://www.dailyo.in/politics/sadhguru-jaggi-vasudev-eating-food-lunar-eclipse-rss-hindutva-mohan-bhagwat-vhp/story/1/22172.html

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Gujarat – Traders buy biometric data for Rs 15,000, run scam #AadhaarFail

Yagnesh Bharat Mehta

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Surat police on Saturday busted a ring involved in using stolen biometric data and arrested two fair price shop owners.
  • Surat police commissioner said the data was not stolen from Aadhaar cards and was not linked with the UIDAI database.
  • The software was available for Rs 15,000, police officials said.
SURAT: The police busted on Saturday a ring involved in using stolen biometric data and arrested two fair price shop owners.
“The accused were using a software that contained ration card numbers, Aadhaar card numbers and biometric thumb impressions of PDS beneficiaries. They used the details to create fake records of food grain sale. We are investigating from where the accused purchased the software, who developed it and who supplied the data,” said R Sarvaiya, assistant commissioner of police, detection of crime branch.

Surat police commissioner Satish Sharma said some agencies were given contracts by the state government to collect biometric data to link it with ration cards.

“It is possible that data was saved by somebody in those agencies and later sold illegally,” he said. Sharma asserted that the data was not stolen from Aadhaar cards and was not linked with the UIDAI database.

The software, with bulk data of beneficiaries, was available for Rs 15,000, police officials said. They believe that there is a bigger racket in stolen biometric details at play.

Babulal Chhogaji Boriwal, 53, and Sampatlal Rodilal Shah, 61, were booked under various sections of the IPC, including section 406, 409 (criminal breach of trust), 467, 468, 471 (forgery), as well as sections of IT Act and Essential Commodities Act. They were arrested after eight complaints were registered in different police stations by officials of the Surat collectorate following complaints of irregularities.

During a probe, police found cases where online records showed some beneficiaries like Kishore Thakkar, a resident of Udhana in Surat, had availed of subsidised foodgrains between April and November 2017. However, cops discovered that Thakkar had not bought anything from the fair price shop.

In 2016, Gujarat introduced the Annapurna Yojana. For transparency, the state had a verification system in which the beneficiary was issued subsidised foodgrains only after threestep verification in which they have to give their ration card number, thumb impression and UID number.

The state had developed an EFPS application, which is loaded with database of beneficiaries, for authorised sales. However, the accused found a way to break into the application and continue fraud, say police officials.

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/surat/stolen-biometric-data-used-to-create-fake-records-2-held/articleshow/62773439.cms

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Cop suspended for sexually harassing women colleagues #Vaw

Internal committee, which began probe on the basis of one complaint, found Thane PI Namdeo Shinde guilty of tormenting several women personnel

A Thane police inspector has been suspended after an internal probe committee found him guilty of sexually harassing his female colleagues.

Thane Commissioner of Police Parambir Singh issued the suspension order of Namdeo Shinde, administrative in-charge of the reserve police staff deployed at the Thane Police commissionerate, on Thursday evening, after receiving a report from the committee probing the sexual harassment charges against the inspector.

A full-fledged inquiry was ordered against Shinde after one of the women constables lodged a written complaint with additional commissioner Makarand Ranade in November 2017. The complaint was forwarded to the ninemember internal committee headed by deputy commissioner Dr Priyanka Narnaware.

During the probe, about10 women personnel came forward and testified against Shinde. They claimed that he had been sexually harassing them for the past several years.

Sources said that according to the committee’s report, submitted earlier this month, Shinde would seek sexual favours from the women employees reporting to him. “If they resisted, he would take revenge by harassing them in various ways during duty hours. The constables complained that apart from touching them inappropriately, he would make them prepare tea in the ante-chamber of his room and then find excuses to brush his hands against them,” said a police officer.

A few women constables also complained that on many occasions, he summoned them inside his room and then ordered his other staffers to lock the door from outside.

Confirming the action against Shinde, Thane CP Singh said, “He has been suspended. An FIR is in place against him. Investigations are on.”

Dr Narnaware had earlier told this newspaper that she has recommended that complaints under IPC Sections 354 (Assault or criminal force against a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) be registered against Shinde and he be suspended immediately. She also recommended Shinde’s dismissal from service as he could repeat the offences.

https://epaper.timesgroup.com/Olive/ODN/MumbaiMirror/#

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