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Archives for : February2018

Homegrown cure for Rabies by Indian Doctor gets WHO nod #Goodnews

 
 Dr Omesh Bharti- the man who developed rabies immunisation protocol
Omesh Bharti

The World Health Organization (WHO) has notified a rabies immunisation protocol developed by Omesh Bharti, 49, a government doctor in Himachal Pradesh, as the new global standard. The procedure, successfully tested on thousands of dog and monkey bite victims in the past five years, brings down the cost of treatment from Rs 35,000 to Rs 350 per patient!

The existing treatment involved injecting patients with the rabies vaccine and rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) extracted from horse or human blood. Human RIG, which needed to be administered in large doses as per the victim’s body weight, cost Rs 6,000-8,000 per vial, and was “beyond the reach of most victims”. Working at the time (2013-2015) as a health officer with the Shimla Municipal Corporation, Bharti had rare access to brain tissue samples from rabid dogs, monkeys and Himalayan palm civets found dead in the area. He evolved a protocol that required a fraction of the RIG needed for conventional treatment. “A tiny amount of RIG injected directly into the wound was just as effective as administering large amounts,” he says. Similarly, administering ‘intra-dermally’ rather than as an ‘intra-muscular’ injection required less than a 10th of the vaccine. Despite early scepticism, the meeting of WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) in Bangkok in 2016, included Bharti’s protocol in its agenda for discussion. “By then, we had 7,000 successful cases in Himachal,” he says.

It helped that Himachal health authorities avidly supported Bharti’s work. Even before WHO’s endorsement, Bharti has trained scores of local medical professionals deployed at myriad state-run rabies clinics across the state. Himachal has now made rabies treatment (using RIG) free.

“In 2017, there were just two rabies-related deaths [in HP]-one a woman who refused treatment; the other a youth who went to a private practitioner,” says Bharti. His work could help stem substantially the 55,000 rabies deaths a year reported worldwide, the majority in Asia and Africa.

Finally endorsed by the SAGE in Geneva on January 15 as “cost-, dose- and time-sparing, while assuring safety and clinical effectiveness”, the updated WHO recommendations on rabies immunisation supersed

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Tamil Nadu is India’s model for low-cost renewables

 

New modelling by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) finds the Indian state of Tamil Nadu capable of doubling its wind energy capacity by 2027 and increasing its solar capacity six-fold.

In a report published this week—“Electricity Transformation in India: A Case Study of Tamil Nadu”—IEEFA sees Tamil Nadu wind-generation capacity reaching 15 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in less than 10 years and solar totaling 13.8 GW.

“The upshot is cheaper electricity for customers and a return to profitability for TANGEDCO (Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation),” said Tim Buckley, IEEFA’s director of energy finance studies, Australasia, and lead author of the report.

“IEEFA bases its forecast on a clear tipping point achieved in 2017: new renewable investments are being underwritten at tariffs of Rs2.43-3.00/kilowatt-hour (kWh), below the average tariff paid to NTPC, India’s largely central government-owned power generator, for thermal power in 2016/17 of Rs3.20/kWh,” Buckley said.

Buckley noted that Tamil Nadu accounted for almost one-fifth (18.5%) of India’s total renewable energy generation in 2016/17.  Tamil Nadu’s population is approaching 72 million; India’s total population is 1.3 billion.

The report finds that Tamil Nadu already operates the most diversified electricity generation fleet in India, with renewables representing 35% of installed capacity as of March 2017, nuclear 8%, and hydroelectricity 7%. Coal-fired power capacity represents 45% or 13.4 GW.

The report sounds a warning, however, on how Tamil Nadu is building 22,500 MW of expensive coal-fired power plants—almost double the entire existing coal-fired fleet in the state—in spite of the favorable investment advantages and lower tariff costs for wind and solar.

“Building more non-pithead coal-based plants at a time when existing plants are being used only 62% of the time as opposed to the optimal 80% makes no sense,” Buckley said.

“This will be borne out in time with the cancellation of many new, costly coal-based plant proposals such as the 4,000 MW Cheyyur UMPP.”

The report concludes that Tamil Nadu would be better served by a more diversified electricity-generation mix, which is well within reach if certain sensible policy and investment programs are pursued aggressively.

  • Low-cost solar capital expansions.
  • A major repowering of Tamil Nadu’s wind projects.
  • A concerted improvement in energy efficiency initiatives combined with a crackdown on reduced transmission and distribution (T&D) losses.

“Such a program would allow Tamil Nadu’s power utility to turn profitable without undue impacts on consumers,” Buckley said.

“Despite being a world leader in wind energy, Tamil Nadu’s wind farms have aging and outdated technology. Just upgrading or repowering existing turbines  could double the state’s wind-energy capacity.”

Additional detail from the report:

  • IEEFA expects offshore wind to emerge as a new, cost-competitive source of electricity generation.
  • Investments in new coal and nuclear based projects could cause further financial distress to the firms involved.
  • Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Limited (TANGEDCO) reported a staggering loss of Rs 13,985 crore (US$2.1bn) in 2013/14. Subsequent reforms under UDAY scheme have helped TANGEDCO not only reduce its losses, to 3,783 crore (US$582m) in 2016/17, but lower is deficit on energy availability from 12.3% in 2011/12 to a record low 0.6% in 2015/16. IEEFA expects a break-even result next financial year and expects TANGEDCO to move to net profit for the first time in two decades.

“Excessive debt, inefficient T&D, high priced power purchase agreements and underfunded agricultural sector subsidies have led to heavy, reoccurring losses for TANGEDCO,” Buckley said.

“However, the rapid reduction in the cost of solar and wind (with renewable tariffs falling almost 50% since the start of 2016) offers an opportunity for power utilities to turn profitable”

“Tamil Nadu is uniquely placed to lead in this transformation by ensuring economical, time-bound capacity additions.

Other than as replacement of end-of-life coal capacity, Tamil Nadu does not need any new thermal power capacity additions over the next 10 years.

Additional demand growth is best met with various modern solar and wind technologies (including rooftop solar, concentrated solar thermal, floating solar, solar irrigation, onshore wind repowering and offshore wind).

“A relatively radical transformation of Tamil Nadu’s electricity sector is now the economically sensible strategic move.

Tamil Nadu can leverage its already leading renewable energy base to drive new investment and employment opportunities in high-tech industries of the future.

This would also accelerate new electricity exports inter-state generating a much needed, profitable revenue source for TANGEDCO.”

Source: IEEFA

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Mumbai – #SaveAarey: Metro III Depot – An Excuse To Develop Real Estate ?

Radhika Jhaveri

The call campaign started by members of the Aarey Conservation Group (ACG) and Jhatkaa.org has brought the Aarey controversy to the foreground yet again. The petition garnered support from around 2.6 lakh citizens from across India. It was followed up by a targeted call campaign to the Chief Minister’s office, Suburban Collector and MMRCL’s Managing Director in an attempt to halt their plans to build a Metro Car Depot in Aarey. The campaign has prompted Ms Ashwini Bhide, Managing Director of MMRCL to file a police complaint against the crusaders. Yash Marwah, one of the volunteers with the group says, “Over 2.6 lakh people have raised their voice through our petition now, in the past this has kept happening via different events and the authorities always find a way to divert our attention. We only want a public meeting with the CM and MD. Nothing else.”

The Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation Limited (MMRCL) and citizen organizations have been fighting over the location of the Metro III car shed since the past three years now. The Metro III project is slated to connect Bandra, Seepz and Colaba in western Mumbai with a car depot proposed within the Aarey Milk Colony.

The 1200 Ha Aarey Milk Colony is a biodiversity hub and a catchment area for the Mithi River that flows through the city of Mumbai. The ACG has been asserting that a functioning car depot is bio hazardous in nature and under no circumstances should such an industry be allowed to function within an ecologically sensitive zone like Aarey. The operation of a car shed within Aarey will cause irreversible damage to its ecology and therefore the decision to construct it within Aarey must be reconsidered.

Amrita Bhattacharjee, an ACG group member says, “MMRCL wants to build a Car shed on a Forest land in Aarey which not only has dense tree cover but is also the floodplain of the Mithi River. In a coastal city like Mumbai; floodplains, forest land and wetlands are very critical areas for the city as during heavy monsoon these areas become the holding areas for excess water that the city’s drainage system cannot manage during High tide hours. Global Warming will increase the spells of heavy rains and over concretized Mumbai city is not prepared to handle such situations.”


Expert Committee and the Kanjur Marg Alternative

After protests by campaigners in 2015, the BJP led state government set up an expert committee to look into the viability of Aarey and provide alternatives, if available. The team considered nine options for the car depot, namely; Backbay Reclamation, Colaba; Mumbai Port Trust; Mahalaxmi Race course; Dharavi; Bandra Kurla Complex; Mumbai University, Kalina;  Aarey Colony; Sariput Nagar and Kanjur Marg. After deliberations, it was recommended that the car shed be moved to Kanjur Marg. Kanjur Marg is an abandoned salt pan and has not received any tide water since fifteen years. Aarey on the other hand, the environmental experts of the committee opined, is much desirable for its ‘ecological endowment’ and must be protected at all costs. They have also opined that irrespective of escalated project costs and possible delays in project completion timelines, the alternate sites must be seriously considered. One of the other reasons for suggesting Kanjur Marg as an alternative was that the Metro VI (Jogeshwari-Kanjurmarg) car depot had been proposed at the same land parcel. The metro III line may be extended to Kanjurmarg and the two lines can share the same car depots while providing the benefit of extended connectivity to central railway.

This recommendation of the expert committee was accepted by the government and it was agreed upon that the car shed be moved to Kanjurmarg. However, the ongoing ownership dispute between the Government of Maharashtra, Salt Commissioner and private owners regarding part of this land parcel has halted the plans. Following the recommendations of the expert committee, the government had filed an application in the High Court to get the land cleared for the Metro III car depot. However, from December 2015 when the application was initially filed till date, the dispute has remained unaddressed in the court. The government has not pursued the matter since. In April 2016, the government issued a statement saying that since the Kanjurmarg land has been made unavailable, they have no other option but to construct the depot in Aarey.

MMRCL has since barricaded the 30 Ha plot within Aarey and commenced land filling activity there. Ms Ashwini Bhide, Managing Director at MMRCL has stated that the, “Government of Maharashtra through its Cabinet decision approved Mumbai Metro III and the car depot at Aarey in March 2014. Considering the concerns raised by citizens the state government again reviewed all alternative sites for car depot including Kanjurmarg in 2015 and after studying the pros and cons of each of the option confirmed its decision to have car depot at Aarey in December 2016. Post addressing all the apprehensions of the citizens and receiving all the required approvals MMRC has started construction activity of car depot at Aarey.”

However, ACG members do not agree with this assessment. They say that MMRCL has not been forthcoming with supporting documentation and the alternate site inspection reports, if carried out, have not as yet been furnished by MMRCL.

Stalin Dayanand, Director at the Environmental NGO Vanashakti says, “MMRCL had no permissions in place before they started work. Some permissions were obtained post facto and some were circumvented through mis-interpretation and subversion of court orders. The project report of MMRCL itself lists out the number of permissions needed and less than half of them have been obtained. At no point was any effort made to engage with experts or citizens to resolve inherent flaws in the project. There is not even a single document that shows that alternate sites were seriously considered for the Metro car shed.”

Given the high number of cases that are pending at the High Court, the Kanjurmarg matter may not be heard by the court for a very long time. However, the ACG members feel that getting the land parcel at Karjurmarg cleared for construction is a matter of pursuing the High Court and urging it to hear the case on an urgent basis. They are arguing that the fact that the government has not approached the court even once after the initial application was filed means that the entire affair of forming the expert committee was nothing more than a pacifying act on the part of the government and that there never really was any intention of moving the car shed out of Aarey. “The aforementioned Kanjurmarg land has already been allotted for Metro VI car shed but the MMRCL has been claiming that the same land is not available for Metro III. If the Kanjurmarg Land is under dispute and is technically unfeasible for the Metro III car shed, then how is it feasible for Metro VI?” asks Amrita Bhattacharjee.


Claims of Possible Commercial Exploitation of Aarey Land

ACG members have alleged that the MMRCL’s unwillingness to pursue the Kanjur Marg option and their insistence on constructing the car shed at Aarey is because it affords them possibilities for commercial exploitation of Aarey land in the future. Real Estate development within Aarey near the car shed site would provide a means to raise funding for the expensive Metro III project. Ms Ashwini Bhide explains the project funding, “The entire cost of project i.e 23,136 crores of which 57.2% is being provided by Japan International Co-operation Agency(JICA) as soft loan and balance funding will be made available by Government of India and Government of Maharashtra in the form of equity and subordinate debt.”

However, ACG has brought forward documents where plans to develop real estate within Aarey have been mentioned. An Urban Development Department (UDD) GR dtd 3.3.2014 states that the Government has approved to transfer the land adjoining the Aarey Milk Colony Jogeshwari- Vikroli Link Road to MMRDA for residential/commercial development with a view to raise Funds for the Project. Ms Bhide has not provided clarifications about whether or not these claims are true and has not responded to the query of whether or not MMRCL plans to develop real estate in Aarey.

Presently, petitioners are pursuing the case in the High Court and the National Green Tribunal.  Zoru Bhathena, an ACG member and one of the petitioners himself  informs, “There is delay in the case since the Kanjurmarg case file which includes the application filed by the government has gone missing and the High Court is currently trying to locate it.”

https://thelogicalindian.com/environment/save-aarey-metro-iii-depot/

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What Brings Together BJP & Congress: The Shady FCRA Amendment

Pooja Chaudhuri

 

Buried in The Finance Bill, 2018 (soon to become law) are the following words:

Clause 217 of the Bill seeks to amend section 236 of the Finance Act, 2016 which relates to amendment to sub-clause (vi) of clause (j) of sub-section (1) of section 2 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.

It is proposed to bring the said amendment with effect from the 5th August, 1976 the date of commencement of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 1976, which was repealed and re-enacted as the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.

Written in legalese, the words either sound boring or harmless to a layman. Let us break it down and unwrap the shroud of secrecy placed by the government to save its own skin and that of the Congress.


Guilty as charged

Based on the petition filed by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), Delhi High Court in 2014 had indicted the BJP and the Congress for receiving foreign funds in violation of the provisions of The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 2010 (and The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), 1976).

The Act prohibited political parties, candidates for elections, government servant or employees from accepting funds from “foreign source”, defined as a company with “more than one-half of the nominal value of its share capital held” by “corporations incorporated in a foreign country or territory”. In simpler words, any company with a foreign investment of above 50%.

However, both the BJP and the Congress received funds from London-based mining company Vedanta.

On March 28, 2014, a Delhi HC judgement found both parties guilty of violating provisions of the FCRA and ordered the government and the Election Commission to act against them. That same day, both the parties unitedly moved the Supreme Court against the HC’s decision.


If you can’t change the law, then ‘change’ the law

In the backdrop of clamping down on legally valid NGOs for violating FCRA and then cancelling their licenses, the BJP government slipped in an unnoticed clause in The Finance Bill, 2016, with obviously no opposition from the Congress.

Under the new provision, so long as the foreign company’s ownership of an Indian entity is within the foreign investment limits prescribed by the government for that sector, the company will be treated as “Indian” for the purposes of the FCRA.



The amendment was made retrospective from 2010. Meaning, donations received from foreign companies before 2010 were not covered under the new clause.

Ironically, the Vedanta donation was received prior to 2010 so the amendment did little good for taking the BJP and the Congress completely off the hook.


Enmity (or friendship?) of convenience

In favour of both itself and the Congress, the ruling party slipped in another hitherto unnoticed clause, this time in The Finance Bill, 2018.

To legalise “illegal” donations received before 2010, the BJP decided to go back further…by 40 years.

The government plans to amend the clause inserted in 2016 so that it covers the period beginning August 5, 1976.



Whether the government can make amendments in a law that no longer exists is a matter of contention to be debated upon by legal experts.

However, The Wirereports, there are at least 25 instances of the BJP and the Congress receiving funding from “Indian subsidiaries” of several foreign companies before 2010, in the range of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 5 crore. Donors include Vedanta, Dow Chemicals and Switzerland-based Mundipharma.

The amendment, apart from saving the skin of both the BJP and the Congress, opens up a floodgate of donations from foreign companies to Indian political parties. The nature of political funding in India from the corporate sector already raises eyebrows. The government had earlier removed cap on political donations and introduced the shady scheme of electoral bonds.

The current state of Indian democracy is a puppet in the hands of the BJP which hardly has any Opposition to keep it in check. Parliamentary sessions in India are more like screaming matches than our elected representatives actually debating on legislation crucial to the growth of the nation. It is evident that the BJP and the Congress are more alike than what is commonly perceived.

https://thelogicalindian.com/news/fcra-bill-amendment/

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पेरूमल मुरूगन, सोवेन्द्र हांसदा शेखर और अब ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी

निशाने पर ‘‘जूठन’

’ -सुभाष गाताडे

‘तुम्हारी महानता मेरे लिए स्याह अंधेरा है,,

मैं जानता हूं,/मेरा दर्द तुम्हारे लिए चींटी जैसा/ और तुम्हारा अपना दर्द पहाड़ जैसा

इसलिए, मेरे और तुम्हारे बीच/ एक फासला है/जिसे लम्बाई में नहीं/समय से नापा जाएगा। 

– ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिीक (जूता)

1997 में आयी वह आत्मकथा ‘‘जूठन’’ आते ही चर्चित हुई थी। 

उस वक्त एक सीमित दायरे में ही उसके लेखक ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी का नाम जाना जाता था। मगर हिन्दी जगत में किताब का जो रिस्पान्स था, जिस तरह अन्य भाषाओं में उसके अनुवाद होने लगे, उससे यह नाम दूर तक पहुंचने में अधिक वक्त नहीं लगा। यह अकारण नहीं था कि इक्कीसवीं सदी की पहली दहाई के मध्य में वह किताब अंग्रेजी में अनूदित होकर कनाडा तथा अन्य देशों के विश्वविद्यालयों के पाठयक्रम में शामिल की गयी थी। एक मोटे अनुमान के हिसाब से देश के तेरह अलग अलग विश्वविद्यालयों में – जिनमें कई केन्द्रीय विश्वविद्यालय शामिल हैं – इन दिनों यह उपन्यास या उसके अंश पढ़ाए जा रहे हैं।

उपरोक्त आत्मकथा ‘‘जूठन’ का वह प्रसंग शायद ही कोई भूला होगा, जब इलाके के वर्चस्वशाली जाति से जुड़े किसी सुखदेव के घर हो रही अपनी बेटी की शादी के वक्त अपमानित की गयी उस नन्हे बालक (स्वयं ओमप्रकाशजी) एवं उसकी छोटी बहन माया की मां ‘उस रात गोया दुर्गा’ बनी थी और उसने त्यागी को ललकारा था और एक ‘शेरनी’ की तरह वहां से अपनी सन्तानों के साथ निकल गयी थी। कल्पना ही की जा सकती है कि जिला मुजफ्फरनगर के एक गांव में दृ जो 21 वीं सदी की दूसरी दहाई में भी वर्चस्वशाली जातियों की दबंगई और खाप पंचायतों की मनमानी के लिए कुख्यात है दृ आज से लगभग साठ साल पहले इस बग़ावत क्या निहितार्थ रहे होंगे। उनकी मां कभी उस शख्स के दरवाजे नहीं गयी।

इस नन्हे बालक के मन पर अपनी अनपढ़ मां की यह बग़ावत दृ जो वर्णसमाज के मानवद्रोही निज़ाम के तहत सफाई के पेशे में मुब्तिला थी और उस पेशे की वजह से ही लांछन का जीवन जीने के लिए अभिशप्त थी दृ गोया अंकित हो गयी, जिसने उसे एक तरह से तमाम बाधाओं को दूर करने का हौसला दिया।

विडम्बना ही है कि एक ऐसी रचना – जिसने उत्तर भारत में 90 की दशक में उठी दलित उभार की परिघटना में नया आयाम जोड़ा था और शेष समाज के संवेदनशील तबके को झकझोर कर रख दिया था तथा आत्मपरीक्षण के लिए प्रेरित किया था – उससे कुछ लोग ‘‘आहत’’ होते दिख रहे हैं और उन्होंने यह मांग की है कि स्नातक स्तर के पाठयक्रम से उसके अंशों को हटाया जाए। मांग की अगुआई हिमाचल प्रदेश में सत्ताधारी पार्टी से जुड़े छात्रा संगठन कर रहा है।

मालूम हो कि इस उपन्यास के अंग्रेजी अनुवाद के कुछ अंश हिमाचल युनिवर्सिटी के पाठयक्रम में कुछ साल से पढ़ाए जा रहे हैं। पश्चिम के कई देशों में पढ़ाए जा रहे इस उपन्यास से अचानक ‘‘आहत हो रही भावनाओं’’ का मामला यहां तक पहुंचा है कि पढ़ानेवाले अध्यापक इस सन्दर्भ में दलाई लामा से भी मिल चुके हैं, और छात्रों के एक हिस्से की मांग को लेकर राज्य के उच्च शिक्षा निदेशक ने यह भी कहा है कि मामले की जांच करवाई जाएगी और जरूरत पड़ने पर उसे हटा दिया जाएगा। /ी http://www.mediavigil.com/print/casteist-mindset-of-amar-ujala-editors-proved / / यह बात विचारणीय है कि पाठयक्रम की कथित विसंगतियों को लेकर दलाई लामा से मिलने की बात  क्या मायने रखती है ? मगर वह किस्सा फिर कभी !/

प्रश्न उठता है कि ‘बस्स! बहुत हो चुका’ जैसा कवितासंग्रह हो या ‘सलाम’ शीर्षक से आया कहानी संग्रह हो या ‘दलित साहित्य का सौंदर्यशास्त्र’ जैसी रचना हो या ‘सदियों का सन्ताप’ जैसी अन्य पुस्तक हो, साहित्य के इन तमाम रूपों के जरिए एक विशाल तबके के लिए अपमान-जिल्लत भरी जिन्दगी जीने की मजबूरी के खिलाफ अपनी जंग जारी रखनेवाले ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी की सबसे चर्चित रचना को अचानक निशाना बनाने की वजह क्या है ? और वह भी उनके इन्तकाल के लगभग पांच साल बाद, जबकि वह अपनी रचना की हिफाजत करने के लिए भी मौजूद नहीं हों।

ऐसी परिस्थिति आज नहीं तो कल विकसित होगी इसकी भविष्यवाणी गोया वाल्मिकीजी ने अपनी रचना में की थी ? अपनी कविता ‘‘उन्हें डर है’’ में उन्होंने साफ लिखा था:

उन्हें डर है

बंजड़ धरती का सीना चीर कर / अन्न उगा देने वाले सांवले खुरदरे हाथ

उतनी ही दक्षता से जुट जायेंगे /वर्जित क्षेत्रा में भी

जहाँ अभी तक लगा था उनके लिए / नो एंटरी का बोर्ड..

….उन्हें डर है

भविष्य के गर्भ से चीख.चीख कर / बाहर आती हजारों साल की वीभत्सता

जिसे रचा था उनके पुरखों ने भविष्य निधि की तरह /कहीं उन्हें ही न ले डूबे किसी अंधेरी खाई में

जहाँ से बाहर आने के तमाम रास्ते / स्वयं ही बंद कर आये थे

सुग्रीव की तरह

विडम्बना ही है देश के प्रबुद्ध जगत में भी इस मसले पर कोई सरगर्मी, कोई प्रतिक्रिया नहीं दिख रही है !

मुमकिन है कि पेरूमल मुरूगन या हांसदा सोवेन्द्र शेखर जैसे लेखकों पर – इलाके के वर्चस्वशाली समूहों के पड़ रहे दबावों को खिलाफ आवाज़ उठानेवाले प्रबुद्ध जनों तक यह ख़बर पहुंची नहीं है या उसकी गंभीरता से वाकीफ नहीं हो सके हैं।

2

‘जूठन’ को पाठयक्रम से बाहर कर दिए जाने की इस मांग को कैसे समझा जाए, यह मसला विचारणीय है।

क्या यह कहा जाना मुनासिब है कि समाज एवं साहित्यजगत पर हावी ऐसे लोग अभीभी उस सच्चाई से रूबरू नहीं होना चाहते कि भारत में जातिप्रथा सदियों से उपस्थित रही है, जिसने शुद्धता और छूआछूत के नाम पर समाज के बड़े हिस्से को बुनियादी मानव अधिकारों से भी वंचित रखा है और आधुनिकता के आगमन के बाद ही इस संरचना में पहली बार कुछ हरकत, बदलाव की गुंजाइश दिख रही है ?

अपनी चर्चित रचना ‘‘अछूत कौन और कैसे ?’’ जिसमें वह अस्प्रश्यता के जड़ तक पहुंचने की कोशिश करते हैं, डा अम्बेडकर ने इसी दोहरे रूख की पड़ताल की थी।

सनातन धर्मान्ध हिंदू के लिए यह बुद्धि से बाहर की बात है कि छुआछूत में कोई दोष है। उसके लिए यह सामान्य स्वाभाविक    बात है। वह इसके लिए किसी प्रकार के पश्चात्ताप और स्पष्टीकरण की मांग नहीं करता। आधुनिक हिंदू छुआछूत को कलंक तो समझता है लेकिन सबके सामने चर्चा करने से उसे लज्जा आती है। शायद इससे कि हिंदू सभ्यता विदेशियों के सामने बदनाम हो जाएगी कि इसमें दोषपूर्ण एवं कलंकित प्रणाली या संहिता है जिसकी साक्षी छूआछूत है।

– डा अम्बेडकर,  अछूत कौन और कैसे ?

विडम्बना ही है कि जाति प्रथा के महज उल्लेख से – उसके वर्णन से – भावनाएं आहत होने के मामले में हिमाचल प्रदेश के भद्रजन अकेले नहीं कहे जा सकते।

अभी कुछ समय पहले उधर मलेशिया में भारतीय मूल के निवासियों की गिरफ्तारी का मसला अचानक सूर्खियां बना था। बताया गया था कि ‘हिन्ड्राफ’ (Hindraf)    नामक संगठन के कार्यकर्ता इस बात से नाराज थे कि मलेशिया के स्कूलों में बच्चों के अध्ययन के लिए जो उपन्यास लगाया गया था, वह कथित तौर पर भारत की ‘छवि खराब’ करता है। आखिर उपरोक्त उपन्यास में ऐसी क्या बात लिखी गयी थी, जिससे वहां स्थित भारतवंशी मूल के लोग अपनी ‘मातृभूमि’ की बदनामी के बारे में चिन्तित हो उठे थेे। अगर हम बारीकी से देखें तो इस उपन्यास में एक ऐसे शख्स की कहानी थी जो तमिलनाडु से मलेशिया में किस्मत आजमाने आया है और वह यह देख कर हैरान होता है कि अपनी मातृभूमि पर उसका जिन जातीय अत्याचारों से साबिका पड़ता था, उसका नामोनिशान यहां नहीं है।

यह सवाल किसी ने नहीं उठाया कि अपने यहां जिसे परम्परा के नाम पर महिमामण्डित करने में हम संकोच नहीं करते हैं, उच्चनीचअनुक्रम पर टिकी इस प्रणाली को मिली दैवी स्वीकृति की बात करते हैं, आज भी आबादी के बड़े हिस्से के साथ (जानकारों के मुताबिक) 164 अलग अलग ढंग से छूआछूत बरतते हैं, वही बात अगर सरहद पार की किताब में उपन्यास में ही लिखी गयी तो वह उन्हें अपमान क्यों मालूम पड़ती है।

और मलेशिया में बसे आप्रवासी भारतीय अनोखे नहीं है।

अमेरिका की सिलिकान वैली -सैनफ्रान्सिस्को बे एरिया के दक्षिणी हिस्से में स्थित इस इलाके में दुनिया के सर्वाधिक बड़े टेक्नोलोजी कार्पोरेशन्स के दफ्तर हैं – में तो कई भारतवंशियों ने अपनी मेधा से काफी नाम कमाया है। मगर जब कैलिफोर्निया विश्वविद्यालय में पाठयक्रमों की पुनर्रचना होने लगी, तब हिन्दु धर्म के बारे में एक ऐसी आदर्शीकृत छवि किताबों में पेश की गयी, जिसका हकीकत से कोई वास्ता नहीं था। अगर इन किताबों को पढ़ कर कोई भारत आता तो उसके लिए न जाति अत्याचार कोई मायने रखता था, न स्त्रिायों के साथ दोयम व्यवहार कोई मायने रखता था। जाहिर है हिन्दु धर्म की ऐसी आदर्शीकृत छवि पेश करने में रूढिवादी किस्म की मानसिकता के लोगों का हाथ था, जिन्हें इसके वर्णनमात्रा से भारत की बदनामी होने का डर सता रहा था। साफ था इनमें से अधिकतर उंची कही जानेवाली जातियों में जनमे थे। अन्ततः वहां सक्रिय सेक्युलर हिन्दोस्तानियों को, अम्बेडकरवादी समूहों तथा अन्य मानवाधिकार समूहों के साथ मिल कर संघर्ष करना पड़ा और तभी पाठयक्रमों में उचित परिवर्तन मुमकिन हो सका। http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/erasing-caste-the-battle_b_9817862.html?section=indiaCd / यह दलील दी जा रही थी कि हिन्दुओं में जाति एवं पुरूषसत्ता का चित्राण किया जाएगा तो वह ‘हिन्दु बच्चों को हीन भावना’ से ग्रसित कर देगा और उनकी ‘प्रताडना’ का सबब बनेगा, लिहाजा उस उल्लेख को टाला जाए। उपरी तौर पर आकर्षक लगनेवाली यह दलील दरअसल सच्चाई पर परदा डालने जैसी है क्योंकि वही तर्क फिर नस्लवाद के सन्दर्भ में भी इस्तेमाल किया जा सकता है और किताबों से उसकी चर्चा को गायब किया जा सकता है।

अम्बेडकर के विचारों से प्रेरित ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी के लेखन को इस तरह विवादित बना देने को लेकर – जो एक तरह से समूचे ‘‘दलित लेखन’’ के प्रति वर्णवादी मानसिकता की नकारात्मक प्रतिक्रिया का सटीक उदाहरण है – एक क्षेपक के तौर पर हम अमेरिका में ब्लैक लिटरेचर अर्थात अश्वेत साहित्य के प्रति श्वेत प्रतिक्रिया की भी पड़ताल कर सकते हैं:

वैसे दलित लेखन को लेकर कथित वर्चस्वशाली जातियों की प्रतिक्रिया बरबस अश्वेत लेखन को लेकर श्वेत प्रतिक्रिया की याद ताज़ा करती है:

किसे गुणवत्तापूर्ण /श्वेत/साहित्य कहा जाए इसे लेकर उच्चनीचअनुक्रम/हाईरार्की की दुराग्रही अवधारणा और फिर उसी साहित्य में किन /श्वेत/ पात्रों को मानवीय समझा जाए और उनकी जिन्दगियों की नकारात्मक घटनाओं को लेकर एक विमर्श बना है। यह कोई बौद्धिक या आकलन का मुददा नहीं है ..; यह नस्लीय मुददा है …

…महान अश्वेत लेखक जेम्स बाल्डविन ने लिखा है कि किस तरह श्वेतजन अपने खुद के अस्तित्व को लेकर उन भ्रांतियों -भ्रमों / जिन्हें श्वेत वर्चस्व ने गढ़ा है/ से रूबरू होने से इन्कार करते हैं, जिनको वह निर्मित करते हैं तथा उसी पर जिन्दगी गुजार देते है ; किस तरह उन छदमों से परे अपने अस्तित्व की पड़ताल करना भी उनके लिए कठिन होता है ...

(http://www.gradientlair.com/post/44561535092/white-responses-to-black-literature)

3.

आखिर जब किताब कुछ साल से पढ़ायी जा रही थी तब भावनाओं के अचानक आहत होने की बात कहां से पैदा हुई।

क्या इसका ताल्लुक राज्य में हुए हालिया सत्ता परिवर्तन से जोड़ा जा सकता है।

साफ है कि जिस किस्म का सियासी समाजी माहौल बन रहा है, जहां मनु और उसके विचारों की हिमायत करने पर इन दिनों किसी को एतराज होना तो दूर, आप सम्मानित भी हो सकते हैं, उस प्रष्ठभूमि में डा अम्बेडकर के विचारों के रैडिकल अन्तर्य/अन्तर्वस्तु को लोगों तक पहुंचाती दिखती किताब – भले ही वह आत्मकथा हो – उस पर इन यथास्थितिवादियों की टेढ़ी निगाह जाना आश्चर्यजनक नहीं लगता।

फिलवक्त़ केन्द्र में तथा देश के कई राज्यों में सत्तासीन इस जमात के लोगों का चिन्तन तरह समूचे मुल्क को रूढिवाद और परम्परा के गर्त में ढकेल देना चाहता है, इसकी एक मिसाल दी जा सकती है। /ी http://www.mediavigil.com/morcha/rss-is-in-favour-of-manu-smritint–> / दिसम्बर माह की 10 तारीख को जयपुर में बाकायदा एक कार्यक्रम आयोजित किया गया था जिसका शीर्षक था ‘‘मनु प्रतिष्ठा समारोह’’ जिसमें संघ परिवार के अग्रणियों ने साझेदारी की थी। इसमें यह बात जोर देकर कही गयी थी मनु की छवि को इतिहासकारों ने विक्रत किया है। याद रहे कि जयपुर ही वह शहर है जहां मनु की मूर्ति की स्थापना भाजपा के तत्कालीन मुख्यमंत्राी भैरोंसिंह शेखावत के जमाने में उच्च अदालत में की गयी थी। यह किसी की चिन्ता का विषय उन दिनों नहीं बना था कि डा अम्बेडकर की मूर्ति अदालत के कहीं कोने में पड़ी है।

भले ही यह बात अब इतिहास की किताबों में दर्ज हो, मगर हमें नहीं भूलना चाहिए कि पचास-साठ के दशकों में उत्तर भारत में चंद्रिका प्रसाद जिज्ञासु, ललई सिंह यादव ‘‘पेरियार’’, रामस्वरूप वर्मा आदि कइयों ने अपने लेखन से जो अलख जगाए रखी, अपने सामाजिक सांस्क्रतिक प्रबोधन से उत्पीड़ित समुदाय को मुक्ति के फलसफे से अवगत कराया, भाग्यवाद के घटिया चिन्तन से तौबा करना सीखाया, उसी मुहिम ने तो बाद में दलित-उत्पीड़ित एसर्शन/दावेदारी की जमीन तैयार की।

पचास – साठ के दशकों से हालात काफी बदले हैं, मगर इसके बावजूद ऐसे विचारों की ताप समाप्त नहीं हुई है। वह नए नए नौजवानों को आमूलचूल बदलाव के फलसफे से रूबरू करा रही है।

ऐसे उथलपुथल भरे माहौल में  ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी की भारतीय समाज की तीखी आलोचना निहित स्वार्थी तत्वों को कैसे बरदाश्त हो सकती है, जो न केवल यथास्थिति बनाए रखना चाहते हैं बल्कि वर्णव्यवस्था से सदियों से उत्पीड़ित तबकों को धार्मिक अल्पसंख्यकों के खिलाफ खड़ा करके एक नए किस्म की पेशवाई को – ब्राहमणवादी हुकूमत को – कायम करना चाहते हैं।

इसे महज संयोग नहीं कहा जा सकता कि वर्ष 2014 में जब से मोदी की अगुआई में सरकार बनी है तबसे दलितों के उभार की कई घटनाएं सामने आयी हैं और दिलचस्प यह है कि हर आनेवाली घटना अधिक जनसमर्थन जुटा सकी है। दरअसल यह एहसास धीरे धीरे गहरा गया है कि मौजूदा हुकूमत न केवल सकारात्मक कार्रवाई वाले कार्यक्रमों /आरक्षण तथा अन्य तरीकों से उत्पीड़ितों को विशेष अवसर प्रदान करना/ पर आघात करना चाहती है बल्कि उसकी आर्थिक नीतियांें – तथा उसके सामाजिक आर्थिक एजेण्डा के खतरनाक संश्रय ने दलितों एवं अन्य हाशियाक्रत समूहों/तबकों की विशाल आबादी पर कहर बरपा किया है।

यह अधिकाधिक स्पष्ट होता जा रहा है कि हुकूमत में बैठे लोगों के लिए एक ऐसी दलित सियासत की दरकार है, जो उनके इशारों पर चले। वह भले ही अपने आप को डा अंबेडकर का सच्चा वारिस साबित करने की कवायद करते फिरें, लेकिन सच्चाई यही है कि उन्हें असली अंबेडकर नहीं बल्कि उनके साफसुथराक्रत /sanitised  / संस्करण की आवश्यकता है। वह वास्तविक अंबेडकर से तथा उनके रैडिकल विचारों से किस कदर डरते हैं यह गुजरात की पूर्वमुख्यमंत्राी आनंदीबेन पटेल के दिनों के उस निर्णय से समझा जा सकता है जिसने किसी विद्वान से सम्पर्क करके लिखवाये अंबेडकर चरित्रा की चार लाख प्रतियां कबाड़ में डाल दीं, वजह थी कि उस विद्वान ने किताब के अन्त में उन 22 प्रतिज्ञाओं को भी शामिल किया जो डा अंबेडकर ने 1956 में धर्मांतरण के वक्त़ अपने अनुयायियों के साथ ली थीं। /ी http://www.baiae.org/resources/great-people/dr-babasaheb-ambedkar/12-ambedkar-writings-and-speeches/7-22-vows-of-dr-ambedkar.html /

और शायद इसी एहसास ने जबरदस्त प्रतिक्रिया को जन्म दिया है। और अब यही संकेत मिल रहे हैं कि यह कारवां रूकनेवाला नहीं है।

चाहे चेन्नई आई आई टी में अंबेडकर पेरियार स्टडी सर्कल पर पाबंदी के खिलाफ चली कामयाब मुहिम हो (https://kafila.org/2015/06/05/no-to-ambedkar-periyar-in-modern-day-agraharam/) या हैद्राबाद सेन्टल युनिवर्सिटी के मेधावी छात्रा एवं अंबेडकर स्टुडेंट एसोसिएशन के कार्यकर्ता रोहिथ वेमुल्ला की ‘सांस्थानिक हत्या’ के खिलाफ देश भर में उठा छात्रा युवा आन्दोलन हो  (https://kafila.org/2016/01/22/long-live-the-legacy-of-comrade-vemula-rohith-chakravarthy-statement-by-new-socialist-initiative-nsi/) या महाराष्ट में सत्तासीन भाजपा सरकार द्वारा अंबेडकर भवन को गिराये जाने के खिलाफ हुए जबरदस्त प्रदर्शन हों या इन्कलाबी वाम के संगठनों की पहल पर पंजाब में दलितों द्वारा हाथ में ली गयी ‘जमीन प्राप्ति आन्दोलन’ हो – जहां जगह जगह दलित अपने जमीन के छोटे छोटे टुकड़ों को लेकर सामूहिक खेती के प्रयोग भी करते दिखे हैं, या उना के बहाने चली जबरदस्त हलचल हो जब यह नारा उठा था कि ‘‘गाय की पूंछ तुम रखो, हमें हमारी जमीन दो।’

भीमा कोरेगांव ‘‘शौर्य स्म्रति दिवस’’ के हुए विराट आयोजन और उसमें आम जनसाधारण की व्यापक सहभागिता, जिसमें आज के ‘‘पेशवाओं’’ को शिकस्त देने की उठी आवाज़ तथा उसकी प्रतिक्रिया में रूढिवादी ताकतों का संगठित हिंसाचार, हिन्दुत्ववादी संगठनों की बदहवासी भरी हरकतें इसी बात की ताज़ी मिसाल है।

इस समूची प्रष्ठभूमि में यह अकारण नहीं कि ओमप्रकाश वाल्मिकी की रचना को ‘‘आहत भावनाओं’’ की दुहाई देते हुए वह दफना देना चाहते हैं, नफरत पर टिके अपने निज़ाम के लिए कुछ और पलों की गारंटी करना चाहते हैं।

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India –  #Aadhaar does not identify; it merely authenticates. That’s an important difference #mustshare

Part of the problem in understanding how inadequate Aadhaar can be lies in the fact that most people cannot distinguish between authentication and identification.

RN Bhaskar

RN Bhaskar

Aadhaar, the world’s largest biometric identity scheme, is actually not capable of identifying anyone. It is merely an authentication scheme, and passports will continue to be needed as a foolproof means of identification.

This is the inescapable conclusion from the shocking response to an RTI query: the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has sidestepped the whole issue of whether Aadhaar identifies an individual.

As Anupam Saraph, IT expert who filed the RTI request, says, “We had asked the UIDAI to explain the difference between identification of an individual and authentication of biometric or demographic data. The UIDAI ïn its reply [in a rather confusing manner] has stated that authentication is defined under the Aadhaar (Enrolment and Update) Regulations, 2016 (1 of 2016) as the process by which the Aadhaar number along with demographic information or biometric information of an individual is submitted to the Central Identities Data Repository for its verification and such Repository verifies the correctness, or the lack thereof, on the basis of information available with it.  This does not define identification.”

“The Unique Identification Authority of India does not identify anyone. “

Part of the problem in understanding how inadequate Aadhaar can be lies in the fact that most people cannot distinguish between authentication and identification.

For instance, as Saraph explains, when you get an email from a person named X, it does not automatically mean that X has written the email.  The user name and password may have been known to X’s secretary.  It is possible that the email has been written by the secretary, and not by X himself.  Similarly, when a hacker manages to get the username and password of X, he can send out messages in the name of X. The recipient may think that the email has come from X, but it has not.  It has been sent by the hacker, who managed to get the email service provider authenticate the username and password, and granted him access to the service in X;s name. That is nothing but authentication.

On the other hand, when a passport is given, this is done after the police identifies the person.  The police visits the homes of neighbours, and asks them if they know the individual concerned.  The names and addresses of the ‘identifiers’ are noted down for purposes of record. Only after such a process has been satisfactorily completed does the police give its go-ahead.  The applicant is then cleared for receiving the passport document.

The same thing happens when – conventionally — a person applies to a bank for opening a new account.  The bank asks the person to provide two witnesses who can identify him.  Only after the witnesses testify that they know the person, does the individual get a bank account.   The names of the witnesses are preserved as records with the bank. The individual has then been identified, not authenticated.

In both cases of identification explained above, the witnesses who have identified the individual will be held responsible for promoting misrepresentation or fraud or worse, if it turns out that the individual is someone else and not the person he claimed to be.

That is the reason why bank accounts are considered reasonable proof of identify.  Passports, in almost any country, are considered to be the highest level of proof.  That is also the reason why the present government’s willingness to remove the address page was problematic for many.  The passport provides proof of the person and his address.

The driving licence does this too, but it is given on the basis of documents.  The person is not identified the way a bank account holder is conventionally identified. Ditto with PAN cards. Election cards, however, are given on the basis of identification, but by the enumerators visiting the homes of the persons concerned.

And that is the reason why when anyone says that the passport will gradually become irrelevant as proof of identity in India and that Aadhaar would be considered as the most important document, such claims are laughable.  They are frighteningly worrisome as well. The passport process (and the election card process) actually identifies people.  The Aadhaar process does not.

So what is the Aadhaar process?  Well, to put it simply, the government of India appointed UIDAI (Unique Identification Authroity of India) without consulting the authorities in charge of the National Population Register (NPR) which is the final arbiter on citizenship.  The UIDAI in turn appointed several agencies who in turn appointed other agencies looking after the Aadhaar enrolment programme. This author, for instance, went to a centre manned by a share registry firm called Karvy.

At each Aadhaar registration centre, there are people appointed only for the purpose of such registration work.  They are usually temporary employees, with a limited job assigned to them. The process of identification, normally, should be done by people who are permanent employees – like bank officials or police personnel.  It is difficult to track down temporary staff when the process of identification needs to be audited.

The Aadhaar centre person collects two of your documents – passport, electricity bill, driving licence, PAN card, ration card – then takes your fingerprints and a retina scan. Anyone who has gone to an Aadhaar centre knows how rudimentary the facilities are.

Unlike the election card, or a passport, where the photograph is quite clearly visible for facial recognition, many Aadhaar cards have the photograph as a dark blob, making visual comparison of the Aadhaar photograph with the face almost impossible.  So one has to reply only on the Aadhaar number. It is this number which is then authenticated by the UIDAI’s central servers as belonging to a particular name.  If the original applicant had submitted forged documents either in collusion with the temporary staff of the Aadhaar registration centre, or without the knowledge of the staff, the person will be “authenticated” not identified.  Even a photograph comparison with the face is not possible. Nor is there the image of a signature that PAN cards have.  The entire process hinges on a number, nothing more.  And this is authenticated, not identified.

That raises the next question:  Have frauds been discovered?  The answer is yes.  According to a statement made by Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on 10 April 2017 and widely reported in the media, as many as 34,000 Aadhaar registration agencies had been blacklisted.  There is no indication as yet of how many people these agencies had already registered for their Aadhaar cards.  Experts believe that assuming 50 people at each of these centres for 365 days a year, the numbers registered could easily exceed half a million.

Hence it is ironic that the Aadhaar card is being used for identification. “This revelation comes even as the Supreme Court is hearing over 22 PILs challenging the use of Aadhaar. The Aadhaar is being used widely by government and private parties for identification of individuals. The revelation that the UIDAI does not identify anyone comes as a shocker for processes that rely on the UIDAI for identification,” says Saraph.

“It is evident that the UIDAI distorts the legal meaning of identification and authorisation causing legal sanction to processes that have neither the consent nor the knowledge of authenticated individuals as they were never identified,” he adds.

Can this lead to huge financial frauds? Yes, indeed. But that will be discussed later. But an indication here should suffice.  The government has allowed authentication through an Aadhaar card enough to get a SIM card, transfer property, transfer money and even open bank accounts.  No longer will the bank manager be required to identify the proposed account holder. Suddenly, authentication is sought to become more important than identification.

http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/india/comment-aadhaar-does-not-identify-it-merely-authenticates-thats-an-important-difference-2502509.html

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Killing Crime with Crime: Yogi’s UP Police on an Encounter Spree – Kills flaunted to attract investors?

 

by – Sushmita

Shootouts and encounters are on a rise in Uttar Pradesh (UP) under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with the government portraying encounters as a badge of honour. Official data released by the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) indicates that there have been 1142 police encounters since the time (10 months) the government came into power. The number of people killed in encounters is slightly less than half of those arrested (2744). Thirty-four ‘criminals’ have died in these shootouts while 265 injured. 1853 persons arrested had a reward attached to them.

The highest numbers of encounters were reported in Meerut zone with 449 encounters. Followed by Agra zone with 210 encounters. Bareilly was third on the list with 196 encounters. The draconian National Security Act (NSA) has also been slapped against as many as 167 ‘criminals’

The Chief Minister had earlier said that the police will have full freedom to deal with rising crime rates in the state and asked criminals to either surrender or leave the state. In no time, ‘Operation Clean’ was launched.

Criticising state action, Samajwadi party spokesperson, Rajendra Chaudhary said, “CM Yogi had warned the criminals but instead, crime has risen in the state. This is just government propaganda to hide their failure to crime control. This is a smokescreen created by the BJP but on the contrary, the crime graph is rising. Law and order situation has gone out of the hand.”

As per NDTV, the team which ‘successfully’ executes such encounters is incentivised with an amount of Rs. 1 lakh. The new UP Police Chief, O.P. Singh said in an interview to Economic Times, “We are not trigger-happy people. Our approach to criminals is clear – surrender or get arrested. If you fire, we will fire in self-defence. This is a police crackdown.”

SOURCE: UP POLICE

The NCRB data released for 2016 indicated that highest number of crimes were committed in Uttar Pradesh and accounted for 9.5% of total IPC crime reported in the country with a consistent increase in rate of violence of crimes against women and murder. Having a bad record in crime does not bode well since the UP government is planning its first investors’ summit on February 21, 22 in Lucknow. What does the government do then? It flaunts the report card of being ‘hard on crime’ with the number of encounters rising exponentially compared to any other time in the past. This is a double edged sword. On one side the majority community can be appeased, as the proportion of persons from minority background and backward castes and classes killed is much more, on the other investors are happy on the ease of doing business.

 

The Ethics of ‘Encounter’ Killings

Some would argue, what is wrong in going hard on crime and criminals? Everything. Crimes originate in any geographical space as a result of growing inequality and structural issues. Delinquents are present in every society but merely those delinquents do not form the core of the crime scene of a place. Promoting a culture of encounters is tantamount to promoting a culture of lawlessness and unaccountability.

The term ‘encounter’ as a construct is itself problematic, suggesting as it does a specific type of police contact – a spontaneous, unplanned ‘shoot- out’ between the police and alleged criminals, in which the criminal is usually killed, with few or no police injuries (Human Rights Watch 2009). In legal terms this is, or these are, extra-judicial killings, killings without any observance of any due process. That they have received the kind of sanction within the force(s) and also among India’s middle class and chatterati is reflective of the values all around.

A research study (Belur 2007) found out that police officers usually perceived a social consensus supporting police use of deadly force to eliminate ‘criminals’ despite questions and counter-claims by activists, media and political opposition about their legality in some cases. Notably, the police remains immune from official, legal or public scrutiny in most cases. Though there is a ‘free press’ and a criminal justice system that demands accountability, explanation is required when the police uses such force, possibly with political and public approval. The same study explains the reasons for police violence, including sociological, structural, organizational and sub-cultural and individual and situational (Green and Ward 2004)

 

Ease of doing Business?

In this case, a tacit political approval and in fact an initiative by the Uttar Pradesh government has given a free hand to the police to go ahead with encounter killings. Here, we need to come back to the ‘ease of doing business.’ And more specifically, the Investors’ summit to be held in February. Most states, in the name of ease of doing business, usually eliminate the indigenous population by either displacing them almost entirely or by creating an environment of fear and terror. States like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand deploy this tactic on a regular basis.

Following suit is the Government of Uttar Pradesh. The investors’ summit is scheduled to happen in February 21, 22, 2018. To this end, Chief Minister Yogi already met the likes of Mukesh Ambani (Reliance group), Ratan Tata (Tata Group), Subhash Chandra (Essel), Ashok Hinduja (Hinduja Group), Shekhar Bajaj, Arvind Lalbhai (Arvind Mills), Sudhir Mehta (Torrent), Madhusudan Agrawal (Ajanta Pharma), N Chandrashekharan (Tata Sons) Pawan Goenka (Mahendra&Mahendra), Deepak Parekh (HDFC) etc in December 2017. It is important for the UP government that it appears ‘hassle-free’ when investors think of setting up big corporations in the state.

In countries like India, where encounters have the public sanction of the media and common people, as the ‘police is supposed to exert force’, to hear the news of encounter is not uncommon at all. However, their frequency in UP is alarming to say the least. It seems hardly likely, as the police forces have been claiming, that all these encounters took place in self-defence. It also seems unlikely that after featuring in the top charts of crime records for years, the state of UP has suddenly woken up to the spate of crimes taking place. Also, it goes without saying that any state seriously concerned about curbing the rate of crime, won’t itself mindlessly indulge in encounters and shoot-outs rather than looking at more reformative and liberating modes of engagement with criminals. But the UP state is unlike any other. Here encounters are being shown as a sign of progress. Any society in a correct human rights and democratic framework would have seen it as shameful that in order to control crime they have to resort to killing their own. And most importantly, killing those who were yet to be proven guilty.

To borrow from Reiner, Indian citizens almost fetishise the police- the idea that police is indispensable in the absence of meaningful public discourse.

 

 

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India – 1 In 4 Children In Cities Malnourished, poverty is not the only cause

Swagata Yadavar, mal_620

 

New Delhi: One in four children in India’s most populous cities was malnourished, and mother’s education, feeding patterns and government service delivery determine child nutrition in addition to household wealth, according to a new report.

 

Even as India becomes highly urbanised, 22.3% of children under five were stunted, 21.4% were underweight and 13.9% were wasted in ten most populous cities of India, showed the Urban HUNGaMA (hunger and malnutrition) Survey report 2014, released on February 7, 2018, by Naandi Foundation, a Hyderabad-based non-profit.

 

While children in the highest stratum of household wealth were less prone to being malnourished, children in the lower strata had higher rates of malnutrition, the survey showed.

 

The survey was conducted to assess the nutrition status of children aged 0-59 months living in the ten most populous cities of India where more than 12,000 mothers were interviewed and heights and weights of more than 14,000 children aged 0-59 months were measured.

 

Cities included in the survey were Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Surat, Pune and Jaipur. Together, they account for 5.3% of India’s population and 4.1% of the child population aged 0-71 months.

 

In the 10 cities surveyed, 94.4% of children were born in hospitals while 88.6% were weighed at birth and 37.1% of mothers had a cesarean delivery.

 

“Poor infant and young child feeding practices, compounded by the poor status of women, the prevalence of household poverty and lack of government service delivery centre seem to be three major drivers of stunting among urban children” said the report.

 

Malnutrition In India’s Most Populous Cities
Indicator Prevalence in children under five (In %)
Stunting 22.30%
Wasting 13.90%
Underweight 21.40%
Overweight 2.40%

Source: Urban HUNGaMA 2014

 

Children aged 3-4 years most prone to stunting, underweight

 

Prevalence of stunting and underweight in Indian cities was highest between the third and fourth year of life, data show.

 

As many as 14.7% children aged 0-5 months were stunted, according to the survey.

 

Breast milk alone takes care of child’s nutrition in the first six months. The transition from breast milk to family foods known as complementary feeding is a vulnerable period. Only 1 in 10 Indian children gets “adequately fed”, IndiaSpend reported in May 2017.

 

Nearly 22.9% of children aged 12-17 months were stunted, and the prevalence rose to 25.7% among children aged 36-47 months. The rate dropped to 21.3% for children aged 48-59 months, data show.

 

Similarly, 17.3% children aged 0-5 months were underweight while the prevalence rose to 23.3% for children aged 48-59 months.

 

The prevalence of wasting remained fairly steady between 13% and 16% throughout the first five years of life, while prevalence of overweight remained between 1.7% and 3.6%.

 

Children of more educated mothers are less prone to malnutrition

 

Children of mothers with little or no schooling had higher prevalence of malnutrition, the survey showed.

 

The prevalence of stunting among children whose mothers had five or less years of schooling was 35.3%, compared to 16.7% among children whose mothers completed at least grade X.

 

Similarly, the prevalence of underweight among children whose mothers had five or less years of schooling was 33.1%, compared to 16.1% among children whose mothers completed at least grade X.

 

The prevalence of overweight was 3.2% among children whose mothers had five or less years of schooling, compared to 2.5% among children whose mothers completed 10 or more years of schooling.

 

A child born to a mother who can read is 50% more likely to survive past five years of age; each year of mother’s schooling decreases the probability of infant mortality by 5-10%, IndiaSpend reported in March 2017.

 

Poor service delivery worsens malnutrition

 

Only 37.4% of the households surveyed accessed a public distribution system outlet in the month preceding the survey–lowest in Surat (10.9%) and highest in Kolkata (86.6%).

 

As a result, less than one in four children (22.5%) was fed a diet that meets the minimum requirements for healthy growth and development, the survey showed.

 

Only 53.9% households had piped water in their homes, the survey showed. However, 91.1% of households in urban India have an ‘improved drinking water source’, according to National Family Health Survey, 2015-16 (NFHS-4).

 

The burden of drawing water for drinking often falls to women, leaving them with little time to focus on their health and education, studies (see here and here) show.

 

Only 44.7% of households surveyed had one woman member with a savings bank account, the survey showed. Women who independently use a bank account also have greater say in household decision-making, thereby improving maternal and child health, according to this August 2015 study.

 

As many as 61% urban Indian women had a savings account that they themselves used, according to NFHS-4.

 

We storified some highlights from the survey:

 

The Urban HUNGaMA (Hunger and Malnutrition) Survey Report was released today. The Survey was conducted in India’s 10 most populous cities. Follow this thread for insights (1/10)

Kolkata had highest proportion of children (25.1%) with low birth weight–less than 2 kg; Hyderabad had the lowest (13.5%) Survey (2/10)

In the 10 cities, 22.3% children under the age of 5 were stunted–low height for age–Delhi had the highest proportion (30.6%), Chennai lowest (14.8%) Survey (3/10)

More educated mothers = Lower prevalence of stunting: 16.7% children of mothers who completed 10 yrs of education were stunted, compared to 35.3% among those whose mothers had 5 yrs of schooling Survey (4/10)

29.3% children in lowest stratum of household wealth were stunted, compared to 15% children in the highest stratum Survey (5/10)

Wasting in India’s metros: Mumbai had highest prevalence of wasting–low weight for height–with 19% of children under the age of five wasted. Jaipur had lowest (10.8%) Survey (6/10)

Mother’s edn, household wealth determine wasting prevalence: 12.2% children whose mothers had 10+ yrs of schooling were wasted, 17.6% among those whose mothers had 5 yrs. 10.5% children in highest stratum of wealth were wasted, 16.7% in lowest stratum Survey (7/10)

Chennai had the highest proportion (3.7%) of overweight children–high weight for height; Hyderabad had lowest (0.7%) Survey (8/10)

Prevalence of overweight was highest among children in highest stratum of household wealth (3.6%), compared to 1.8% in the lowest stratum Survey (9/10)

Hyderabad has the highest proportion (25.8%) of underweight children–low weight for age, Surat (25.7%), Ahmedabad (25.3%). Chennai had lowest (13.5%) Survey (10/10)

 

(Yadavar is a principal correspondent with IndiaSpend.)

http://www.indiaspend.com/indias-great-challenge-health-sanitation/one-in-four-children-in-indian-cities-malnourished-poverty-isnt-the-only-cause-67137

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India- #Aadhaar gives OUR personal info to foreign firms

‘The most valuable personal sensitive information of present and future citizens has been made available to foreign data firms and governments and non-State actors for all time to come,’ says Gopal Krishna.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com

 

Contrary to the claim by Ravi Shankar Prasad, the minister in charge of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), in his article Aadhaar is a game-changer for India in the Hindustan Times (external link), Unique Identification (UID)/Aadhaar number has become an important technological instrument to empower the rich and to further impoverish and to cruelly oppress the poor.

It is subverting the most important objective of the Constitution of India: Fostering equality of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all fraternity and assuring the dignity of the individual.

UID/Aadhaar is fostering biometric and digital exclusion and financial exclusion.

The numerous testimonies of victims of UID/Aadhaar in this regard are available in the public domain. The same has been submitted to the Supreme Court. It is structurally disempowering the common Indian through its assault on citizenship through biometric identification of residents.

Out of nearly 130 crore Indians, some 119 crore Indians and other residents of India have been made vulnerable to non-State actors, foreign States and their domestic collaborators because their most personal sensitive data, the world’s most valuable resource, has been parked with foreign data firms and governments through contract agreements between UIDAI and ungovernable technology companies like Accenture, Safran Group and Ernst & Young.

This information has come to light due to replies received under Right to Information Act.

There is no transparency about how much money these companies are making from the data assets of Indians to the detriment of India’s supreme interest.

This initiative of the world’s largest biometric-digital Central Identities Data Repository (CIDR) of UID/Aadhaar numbers has been bulldozed down people’s throats by Machiavellian deceit, coercion and breach of trust.

CIDR has dwarfed the stature of Indian citizens by exposing them and the coming generations to an unscientific experiment. It has turned Indians into guinea pigs for clinical trials in labs.

One needs to understand the disempowerment of a poor farmer, a serving soldier, a pensioner, a student, an old woman, a child and the family of Santoshi Kumari who have been deprived of their citizens’ entitlements because of CIDR.

With the oppressive linking of UID/Aadhaar of Indians, banks are exerting extraneous influence like money-lenders of old times.

The replies under the RTI Act have revealed that more than 99.99 percent Indians had pre-existing identity proof prior to the proposal of UID/Aadhaar.

 

It is apparent that it was a lame excuse to pursue this project whose total estimated budget has not been disclosed even after nine years of UIDAI’s existence.

It is ridiculous to claim savings without disclosing the total cost of the project. The replies under RTI Act have shown that this project is a ‘guaranteed revenue flow’ for foreign and domestic private firms, which tantamount to squandering taxpayers’ money.

In fact, in an unbelievingly strange situation, Indians are being made to part with their most valuable resource to these companies and they are also being made to pay for it at the rate of Rs 2.75/per enrolment and for each de-duplication forever.

In an exercise of irrationality of the worst order, value of digital transactions using UID/Aadhaar is being presented as savings due to the project.

All such claims of savings are an exercise in puffery. It has come to light and has been admitted that the World Bank study that refers to ‘savings’ from the project is based on a flawed footnote in its study.

Isn’t such propaganda and misinformation campaign a cause of gnawing worry?

The most valuable personal sensitive information of present and future citizens has been made available to foreign data firms and governments and non-State actors for all time to come.

It is a cause of grave worry. In the face of documentary proof, the government’s assurances ring as hollow as their words of consolation after every institutional disaster.

The CIDR of the UID/Aadhaar project continued without legislative approval from January 28, 2009, till September 12, 2016, without any backing of a parliamentary law even after the arrival of the BJP-led government in May 2014.

The first thing this government did was to act contrary to the democratic mandate against the UID/Aadhaar project. The Narendra D Modi-led alliance won an electoral victory by promising to scrap the biometric ID project.

Barack Obama and David Cameron too had made a similar promise. Both fulfilled their electoral promise of abandoning the biometric ID project of their predecessors, but Modi has gone against his own promise and betrayed the electoral mandate.

The cover of a Money Bill with which UID/Aadhaar was draped stood exposed and uncovered in the Rajya Sabha.

Notably, the Aadhaar Act came into force after more than 100 crore residents of India have been made naked without the protection of any legislative cover.

This project has been pursued by the BJP-led government under the presumption that the Right to Privacy is not a part of the Right to Life and Personal Liberty.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous verdict of August 24, 2017, debunked this foundational basis of the project.

The Aadhaar Act and the project are in manifest contravention of the Right to Life, Personal Liberty and Privacy.

UIDAI’s CIDR database of UID/Aadhaar numbers facilitates profiling of individuals utilising technology in the most imaginative ways.

The European Union regulation on data privacy defines ‘profiling’ as any form of automated processing of personal data consisting of the use of personal data to evaluate certain personal aspects relating to a natural person, in particular to analyse or predict aspects concerning that natural person’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences, interests, reliability, behaviour, location or movements.

Such profiling can result in discrimination based on religion, ethnicity and caste. This has been noted in the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Right to Privacy, which dismissed the government’s submissions in this regard.

It is bizarre to witness the spectacle of the minister in charge of UIDAI paying insincere obeisance to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Right to Privacy, but continuing to parrot arguments which have been rejected and buried by the Court.

The minister contends that because citizens have shared their details with official agencies on social media, smart phones etc on different occasions without any objection, they should not raise ‘serious objections relating to identity verification’.

The Court’s verdict reads: ‘If the individual permits someone to enter the house it does not mean that others can enter the house’, implying that if information has been shared with one entity it does not create any compelling legal logic to share it with other entities too.

It further observed, ‘… if the posting on social media Web sites is meant only for a certain audience, which is possible as per tools available, then it cannot be said that all and sundry in public have a right to somehow access that information and make use of it’.

Rejecting the government’s proposition, the Court’s observation reads: ‘Users of wearable devices and social media networks may not conceive of themselves as having volunteered data, but their activities of use and engagement result in the generation of vast amounts of data about individual lifestyles, choices and preferences’.

The Court’s verdict cites Yvonne McDermott’s paper, Conceptualizing the right to data protection in an era of Big Data, that speaks about the quantified self.

The paper underlines that ‘The rise in the so-called ‘quantified self’, or the self-tracking of biological, environmental, physical, or behavioural information through tracking devices, Internet-of-things devices, social network data and other means may result in information being gathered not just about the individual user, but about people around them as well.’

‘Thus, a solely consent-based model does not entirely ensure the protection of one’s data, especially when data collected for one purpose can be repurposed for another.’

It is abundantly clear that the minister’s argument has not been found acceptable by the Court because it is not rational to argue that just because someone has opened the windows of his house it does not create any sane logic to contend that he must open the doors of his house as well.

Giving one’s digital arm for a handshake does not create any reasonable compulsion to surrender one’s vital personal sensitive assets to UIDAI whose umbilical cord is linked to foreign firms and governments who have grabbed the citizens’ database.

Under the garb of ‘innovation’ in the digital economy, the privacy of future Presidents, prime ministers, legislators, judges, soldiers, intelligence personnel besides citizens cannot be allowed to be killed and allow national security to be compromised for good.

By the government’s own admission in the Supreme Court, it is clear that as far as UID/Aadhaar is concerned the proposed safety valves like virtual ID etc and the Data Protection Law Framework Committee’s report after nine years of UIDAI’s existence are stale, dated. cheques.

UID/Aadhaar creates a biometric-digital identity that subordinates the citizens’ identity and makes her/him a subject and a modern-day slave.

It takes away the right of an individual to exercise control over his personal data and to be able to control her/his own life including his right to control his existence on the Internet.

This project provides the structural technique by which every person is being profiled to the nth extent for all and sundry to know using both demographic and biometric information.

As per the Aadhaar Act, UIDAI is empowered to collect voice samples and DNA profiles as well which will consequent into promotion of genetic determinism and biometric casteism akin to Eugenic thinking. Coincidentally, the official forms for collecting DNA profiles seek details about caste too.

The manifesto of biometric identification promoters will read like the 1,500 page regressive manifesto titled ‘2083: A European Declaration of Independence’ brought out by the Norwegian gunman and neo-crusader, Anders Behring Breivik, who carried out the heinous attacks on his fellow citizens.

It refers to the word ‘identity’ over 100 times, ‘unique’ over 40 times and ‘identification’ over 10 times.

There is reference to ‘State-issued identity cards’, ‘converts’ identity cards’, ‘identification card’, ‘fingerprints’, ‘DNA’ etc as well in this manifesto.

Biometric profiling of any sort is dehumanising.

These words and their imports merit attention in order to safeguard the natural rights of present and future generation of citizens which faces an unprecedented onslaught from unregulated and ungovernable biometric and digital technology vendors.

The abandonment of UID/Aadhaar like ID projects in countries like the US, the UK, Australia, China, France and Germany and their failure in African countries create a logical compulsion for India to heed the decision of these countries.

http://www.rediff.com/news/column/shocking-aadhaar-gives-our-personal-info-to-foreign-firms/20180208.htm?sc_cid=fbshare

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India Economic Survey – Ladies, in the Pink of Health ?

The chips are no longer down for us women. Our leaders — from government to corporate — have finally paid attention to the need for gender equality. What else could explain the Economic Survey bearing a pink cover purportedly to underline the importance of ‘gender issues’? And to follow this ‘progressive’ gesture, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi announced that women can now have ‘Lady Doritos’ and other “lady snacks” that don’t make a crunching sound when munched. Well, of course, women should be seen and not heard.

Few sights are as disconcerting as that of chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian holding up a baby pink Economic Survey report while beaming into the camera. Did no one inform the worthies at the ministry of finance that it isn’t very woke to be colour-stereotyping women in the 21st century?

Sadly, the Budget that followed the Survey forgot to underline this deep affection for women by the all-men team that put together the Finance Bill, 2018. Most beneficiaries of the Ujjwala scheme are unable to continue using gas cylinders as they can’t pay the monthly rent after the first installation.

The National Health Mission is yet to recognise ASHAs — Accredited Social Health Activists — as workers and still pay them much less than the legal minimum wage. The mission’s allocation has now been cut by ₹672 crore. The Mission for the Protection and Empowerment of Women — which includes the unused Nirbhaya Fund — has been assigned only ₹1,365 crore.

But at least the Survey cover was pink. That’s sweet.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo has a female CEO approving and announcing all their plans. So how can anything she says not be of deep import when it comes to gender parity? “As you watch young guys eat the chips… they lick their fingers… and they pour the little broken pieces into their mouth, because they don’t want to lose that taste,” Nooyi had said on a Freakonomics Radio podcast on January 31 (goo.gl/t6uxsn). “Women I think would love to do the same, but they don’t. They don’t like to crunch too loudly in public. And they don’t lick their fingers generously….”

By Monday, and after a social media faecal storm, PepsiCo responded by stating that “the reporting on a specific Doritos product for female consumers is inaccurate. We already have Doritos for women — they’re called Doritos, and they’re enjoyed by millions of people every day.” Even as the company declined to elaborate what Nooyi had meant by “snacks for women that can be designed and packaged differently”.

Maybe this is a convoluted way for politicians, economists and CEOs to ensure that the Second Sex stops demanding so much attention about that damned ‘equal playing field’. The chips are really down for women, when what we get in the name of gender equality is a Pretty in Pink Economic Survey and serious consumer researchabout non-crunchy chips that could be packaged in a pink satin purse to match baby pink chastity belts.

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

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