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Archives for : May2018

World doctors urgently call on all states to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

 

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Medical doctors of the World Medical Association (WMA) met in Riga in Latvia at the end of April for their 209th Council meeting. I was privileged to be there as an invited guest to represent IPPNW and to discuss a proposed revised statement on nuclear weapons. The meeting issued an immediate Council resolution that focused on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and protested against the so-called modernization of nuclear weapons. The WMA urged all states to sign and ratify the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

What is special with nuclear weapons is the devastating effects that any use of them have on human beings, all life, and the environment. Nuclear weapons were made to eradicate cities and to kill civilians with heat comparable to that on the surface of the sun, with blast effects that destroy everything, and with lurking ionizing radiation with both short term and long term serious health effects. For doctors, that is just the opposite of our goal to preserve life and health for our patients. Therefore, we see nuclear weapons as an absolute evil that must be eradicated.  Humankind has a duty towards our successors and ourselves to eliminate nuclear weapons before they eliminate us.

Facing health challenges all over the world with infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease, mother-and child health, psychiatric disorders, and life-style related health problems, doctors are the first to see the need for far more resources channeled into health care and preventive measures. We therefore find it terrible that the nuclear-armed states now plan to use trillions and trillions of US dollars, euros, pounds, and rubles to “modernize” killing machines that must never be used again. The nuclear-armed states seem to want to keep their weapons forever, and the so-called modernization is also a way to make them more usable. The doctors object to this disturbing and dangerous development.

As the WMA is the leading professional organization to defend and safeguard the health of patients and, in every sense, is dedicated to humanity, it is understandable that the organization has become a leading advocate in the critical work towards a safer world free from nuclear weapons.

In 2017 this work reached a new dimension in that 122 UN member states, on 7 July, adopted the text of the TPNW. With this new window of opportunity, the WMA urges its member organizations to educate the public and to put pressure on the governments in their home countries to sign and ratify the Ban Treaty. Once the TPNW has 50 ratifications, it will enter into force and become international law, strengthening the legal and the moral pressure on the nuclear-armed states to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear weapons. The doctors of the world now constitute one of the strong voices contributing to that pressure.

Doctors find it both necessary and possible to prevent another catastrophe with nuclear weapons from happening.

 

https://peaceandhealthblog.com/20

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Why the 2018 Nobel Prize in literature may be cancelled #Vaw

The Swedish Academy has been swamped by allegations of sexual misconduct

By Elton Gomes

Literature lovers might be in for a shocker this year. The Swedish Academy is deliberating whether the Nobel Prize for literature should be cancelled in 2018. The Academy’s deliberations follow several sexual misconduct allegations, that were recently levied against an Academy member’s husband.

Following the allegations, several members resigned from the Academy, as a mark of protest. The Academy’s first woman secretary, Sara Danius, also stepped down in April, stating that she had lost confidence in the Academy.

Here’s what happened

In November 2017, French photographer, Jean-Claude Arnault, was accused of sexual assault or harassment by 18 women. Arnault is married to the poet Katarina Frostenson—a member of the Swedish Academy, the Guardian reported.

German news broadcaster DW reported that Frostenson, and her husband have significant influence over Sweden’s art world. The women claim that Arnault physically assaulted or raped them.The report by DW also mentioned that the accusations against Arnault were made between 1996 and 2017.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the accusations were published in Dagens Nyheter, a Swedish newspaper. According to the newspaper, Arnault would often bully his victims into silence. He reportedly intimidated victims by threatening to use his contacts at the Academy to “blacklist” them. Arnault also reportedly repeatedly leaked confidential information from meetings held in the Academy. However, Arnault has denied all allegations.

Towards the start of April, three members resigned from the Academy, over its handling of the sexual assault allegations against Arnault. The Academy’s permanent secretary, Peter Englund, along with authors Klas Östergren, and Kjell Espmark, separately resigned from the jury on April 6.

“The Swedish Academy has for a long time had serious problems and has now tried to solve them in a way that puts obscure considerations before its own statutes, which is a betrayal of its founder and patron, and not least its mission to represent genius and taste. Therefore, I have chosen to no longer take part in its activities. I’m leaving the table, I’m out of the game,” Östergren said, the Guardian reported.

In a letter to Swedish evening newspaper, Aftonbladet, Englund said: “… decisions have been made that I do not believe in and cannot defend, and I have therefore decided not to participate anymore in the work of the Swedish Academy”.

On April 13, the Academy’s permanent secretary Sara Danius, decided to step down. Danius, a literary historian, urged the Academy to prioritise ethics, and to report, and prosecute allegations of sexual misconduct.

“Caring for a legacy must not mean an arrogance and distance to society at large,” Danius told the Swedish press. In what appeared to be an attempt at reinstating new values in the Academy, Danius said that it might not be worth to preserve all traditions.

Frostenson also announced her resignation a day before Danius resigned.

What has the Academy decided?

On April 26, eleven members of the jury discussed cancelling the literature prize, but, were unable to reach a consensus.

Notable poet and novelist, Per Wastberg, who also serves as the head of the four-person panel that awards the Nobel Prize for literature, told the Guardian: “The Swedish Academy yesterday discussed the Nobel prize and came to no decision.”

“After our next Thursday meeting there will most probably be a statement on whether we will award a prize this year or reserve it for next year, in which case two prizes for literature will be announced in October 2019,” Wastberg added.

DW reported that the Academy has yet to acknowledge that “unacceptable behaviour in the form of unwanted intimacy” took place. However, the 18-seat committee was unaware about such behaviour.

A legal firm probing the incidents has reportedly prepared a report, which will be immediately submitted to the authorities.

Why you should care

Besides being highly secretive in nature, bodies like the Swedish Academy tend to have a strong imprint of tradition, which though might seem conservative to some, but, is sacrosanct to others. Perhaps, certain traditional reforms might be irrevocable, if the allegations against Arnault hold true.

The power stemming from social movements will likely be tested in this particular case. The recent conviction of American comedian Bill Cosby, proves that the #MeToo movement is far from losing its power or momentum.

However, when members of an institution like the Swedish Academy are involved, perhaps a more potent movement is called for, especially in the world of academia and art.

https://qrius.com/all-you-need-to-know-about-why-the-nobel-prize-in-literature-may-be-cancelled-in-2018/

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Kerala’s policy linking vaccination to school admissions is shortsighted

A nudge is better than a push

world immunisation week 2018, world immunisation week, immunisation week, polio, india health facilities, Kerala vaccination scheme, indian express newsVaccination policy is based on the premise of the public good of pushing “herd” immunity against a disease, by vaccinating healthy children.The World Immunisation Week that ended Monday offers a good opportunity to revisit a draft medical policy approved by the Kerala cabinet in February 2018. It proposed a mandatory vaccination “certificate” for children seeking admission to primary school. Linking education and vaccination in such a manner raises a pertinent issue around immunisation — about personal choice versus public (health) good. Research has established that public health benefits of vaccines far outweigh the minor risks associated with some vaccines. Vaccination policy is based on the premise of the public good of pushing “herd” immunity against a disease, by vaccinating healthy children. If a parent refuses vaccination for her child, it would be adversarial to collective immunity, and thus the state’s larger public health mandate.

However, in order to operationalise this mandate, many governments have refrained from coercive methods to enforce vaccination. Instead, they focus on behavioural change communication (BCC) exercises to convince individuals that their interest (a healthy child) aligns with that of the state’s. An internationally oft-quoted example is India’s success with the polio vaccine, involving house- to-house mobilisation by community health workers, and the roping in of leaders from localised recalcitrant sections. Such BCC efforts also dispel erroneous disinformation campaigns — not different from the “rumours” against the measles rubella vaccination drive in Malappuram that has been reported to have triggered the present order.

Apart from the obvious obligations of democratic governments, not least among them the protection of the individual’s right to privacy, why do states adopt this cautious approach? The short answer is that global experience shows coercive policies do not work in the long term. Enforcement, albeit tempting, is usually prone to subversive behaviour, or worse, abject refusal, turning people who are on the fence — the vaccine hesitant — into the more extreme vaccine refusers. Why should something which is good for my child need to be enforced by a state, to the extent that school admissions should be contingent upon it? Coercion and fear appeals are also far less sustainable than behaviour change through public engagement.

However, this is not to say that compulsory vaccination has not been implemented internationally. In the US, immunisation certifications are mandated for admissions in public schools, though medical and conscientious exemptions are permitted in most states. In Australia, in addition to mandated immunisation for admission to pre-school, maternity allowance at 18 months, and child care benefits are also contingent on vaccination requirements. While Europe has largely adopted a persuasive policy historically, this trend has seen a recent shift. Last year, Italy introduced a law, mandating proof of vaccination for pre-school enrolment, with no exemptions permitted on conscientious grounds, and a fine of up to €7,500 (approximately Rs 6 lakh) for parents of unvaccinated children. Last year, France also made it legally mandatory for parents to vaccinate their children.

In comparison, the UK, the first country to introduce compulsory vaccination in the 1853 Vaccination Act against smallpox with a fine of £1 for refusal, has steadfastly stood its ground against coercive methods. As have countries such as Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any randomised gold standard evaluations on how coercive immunisation policies influence immunisation rates, in comparison to voluntary ones. Less rigorous studies, like the Action Plan on Science in Society Related Issues in Epidemics and Total Pandemics (ASSET) Report, that compared the uptake of three childhood vaccines between 2007-2013, in 14 EU countries that had enforced vaccination with 15 that had not, found that “this approach does not appear to be relevant in determining immunisation rate.” Other studies have said that high vaccination rates in countries that have adopted coercive laws may be related to their socioeconomic factors. A 2016 Lancet review noted that coercive measures “may not influence the very hesitant”.

The evidence is, however, resoundingly clear that immunisation decisions of parents are influenced by individual, social and environmental factors. This has been used to explain, for instance, why vaccine hesitancy may often be present in localised clusters. Thus, behaviour change interventions that target these areas have improved immunisation rates.

Furthermore, most countries which have linked education to vaccination are high-income countries, far ahead of India on literacy and other socioeconomic indicators. This is not to say that India should not aspire to immunisation rates of high income countries. However, transplanting their interventions may not be the best route to this goal. For instance, a meticulous 2018 scientific review on successful immunisation interventions in developing countries found that patient reminder or recall interventions “are likely to be effective at improving the proportion of the target population who receive immunisations”.

Most importantly, it should be possible to inculcate positive immunisation behaviour in parents, without the fear of their ward being denied quality education, particularly in a state like Kerala with its exemplar literacy indicators. As Paulo Coelho put it in The Devil and Miss Prym, “Because you believed I was capable of behaving decently, I did.” Vaccination policy may well benefit from inspiring rather than forcing people.

A nudge is better than a push

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Uttar Pradesh – Upper castes beat up Dalit; forced him to drink urine #WTFnews

File photo of a protest against the dilution of the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. Representative image

In a shocking incident four upper caste youth beat up a Dalit farmer and then forced him to drink urine because he refused to harvest their crop, in a village in Badaun in central Uttar Pradesh

In a shocking incident, four upper caste youth beat up a Dalit farmer and then forced him to drink urine because he had refused to harvest their crop, in a village in Badaun in central Uttar Pradesh.

Though the incident took place in Azadpur village in Badaun on April 23, the FIR was lodged a week later on April 30 at Hajratpur police station.

Sitaram Valmiki, 43, said in his complaint that four villagers who belonged to upper caste (Thakur) asked him to harvest their wheat crop. “As I was working in my field I refused but said that I will do it later. They did not like my answer. They tied me up with a tree and then beat me with chappals,” he told a local news agency.

“They even forced me to drink urine and pulled my moustache,” he said.

The four accused have been identified as Vijay Singh, Vikram Singh (both brothers) , Sompal Singh (cousin) and Pinku Singh—all Thakurs.

The trauma in which Sitaram’s family went through can be gauged from the fact that after police was informed, Vijay Singh and Vikram Singh met the Dalit family asking them not to go ahead with the complaint. As the intimidation continued, Sitaram along with his family went to his relative’s house in Bareilly, 40 km from Badaun

Sitaram’s wife was first to lodge a complaint with the police when she came to know about the incident. But why it took almost a week’s time for the police to book the culprit is very confusing. Superintendent of police Ashok Kumar said that police in-charge of Hajratpur police station has been suspended and an enquiry has been ordered against him.

“The report of assault has been found to be true. Verification of other charges are on,” he said.

The trauma that Sitaram’s family went through can be gauged from the fact that after police was informed Vijay Singh and Vikram Singh met the Dalit family asking them not to go ahead with the complaint. As the intimidation continued Sitaram along with his family went to his relative’s house in Bareilly, 40 km from Badaun.

Sitaram says that these two Singh brothers even followed them to Barellly and threatened them.

Newly appointed Chairman of the State SC/ST Commission Brij Lal said that it was a serious offence. “Dalits needs protection. If upper caste behaves like this it is a bad omen for the society,” said Lal, former DGP of the state, who controversially bestowed the Ambedkar Mahasabha’s first ‘Dalit Mitra’ award to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

In villages, Dalits form the bulwark of the labour force. They work as labourers in the fields of upper caste and do all the menial jobs for them.  During harvest season these labourers are much in demand and if they refuse to work, they are often beaten up.

https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/

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BJP Gem- MLA Surendra Singh says Parents, Mobiles Responsible For Incidents Of Rape #Vaw #WTFnews

The BJP legislator also said that children should not be given undue freedom and asked parents not to give mobile phones to them.

5COMMENTS
Parents, Mobiles Responsible For Incidents Of Rape, Says BJP Legislator Surendra Singh

Surendra Singh has been in news for making shocking statements in the past (File)

BALLIA, UP:  BJP legislator from Uttar Pradesh Surendra Singh has said that parents are responsible for the increasing incidents of rape and should not let their children roam around freely.  The legislator from Bairia in Ballia district, who had earlier made news when he said no one can rape a mother of three children, also advised parents not to give their children mobile phones.

“The parents of youths are responsible for growing incidents of rape as they do not take care of their wards,” BJP MLA Surendra Singh told reporters here last night.

“Children up to 15 years of age should be kept under strict vigil. It is the duty of parents to take care of their wards. But they allow their wards to roam around freely. This is the main reason for the social evil,” he said.

Children should not be given undue freedom, he said, and asked parents not to give mobile phones to them.

The remarks come in the backdrop of outrage over the brutal gangrape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, and the rape of a 17-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh’s Unnao district allegedly by BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar.

Defending Sengar, Surendra Singh had said, “I am speaking from a psychological point of view; no one can rape a mother of three children. It is not possible, this is a conspiracy against him (Sengar).”
Known for making contentious comments, he had also recently called West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee “Surpanakha”, the sister of demon king Ravana.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month directed his party’s lawmakers not to make “irresponsible” statements. His admonishment came a day after Union minister Santosh Gangwar was reported as saying in Bareilly that a “brouhaha” should not be created over one or two rape cases in a big country like India.

Last week he said“Mamata Banerjee is playing the role of Surpanakha. People are getting killed on streets and she being the Chief Minister is not doing anything about it, such leaders are not good. Hindus are not safe in Bengal. If nothing is done about it, Bengal will face situation like that in Jammu and Kashmir. Hindus will be ousted from Bengal just like it happened in Jammu and Kashmir,” Singh told reporters in Ballia.

In the same breath, the legislator accused the Congress of playing the role of Ravana.

Singh further alleged torture of Hindus by terrorists entering the TMC-ruled state from adjoining Bangladesh.

“Fortunately we have a leader like Modi Ji and we will oust all foreign elements from Bengal,” he added.

Singh is not new to controversies. Recently speaking in defence of BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar who has been accused of raping a minor girl in Unnao, Singh said that no one could rape a mother of three children.

After that, the lawmaker said 2019 Lok Sabha elections would be fought on the lines of “Islam versus Bhagwan” and “Pakistan versus India”.

In February, Singh said that people who do not chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai‘ are Pakistanis.

Earlier in January, the saffron party leader had said that India would become a Hindu nation by 2014 and once it becomes “Hindu Rashtra,” only those Muslims who assimilate into the Hindu culture will stay in the country.

On April 22, PM Modi asked party MLAs and MPs not to speak out of turn to the media on any issue.

The Prime Minister’s remark came in the backdrop of controversial statements being ma

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MAKAAM Statement on Kathua Rape Case – English and Hindi

MAKAAM STATEMENT CONDEMNING THE ATROCITIES AGAINST, RAPE AND MURDER OF A MINOR GIRL FROM PASTORALIST BAKARWAL COMMUNITY IN KATHUA AND THE CONTINUING ATROCITIES AND FORCED DISPOSSESSION OF HER COMMUNITY,

 

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AGAINST ALL SUCH ACTS THAT VIOLATE WOMEN’S BODIES AS SITES TO TERRORIZE MARGINALIZED COMMUNITIES AND GRAB THEIR TRADITIONAL LANDS AND RESOURCES

MAKAAM[1] expresses grave anguish and outrage at the rape and atrocities perpetrated on the 8-year old minor girl of the Bakarwal community from Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir, as reports pour in of numerous other instances of sexual violence against minors in other cities, towns and villages. We also oppose the forced evictions of the Bakarwals -Gujjars from their customary territories by the J&K administration and condemn the atrocities committed against the community. The deliberate efforts at communalization and land grab forms the social and political backdrop of this heinous atrocity. 

 

The instance of violence against the minor girl in Kathua is not an isolated incident, but one among numerous others that bear evidence to the increasing incidence of rape and brutality against women and girls as sites for the assertion of increasingly masculinized caste- and religion-based patriarchies. In a context of exacerbating vulnerabilities of women, children, dalits, adivasis, minorities the increased resource grab across the country only serves to further worsen their situation. We condemn the marginalization, polarization and dispossession of marginalized minority pastoralist communities in Jammu and Kashmir and their denial of rights in their traditional territories where they have maintained their seasonal livelihoods..

 

Gendered Sexual Violence as an instrument of oppression

The atrocity, rape and murder of the 8 year old minor girl in Kathua brings to light the manner in which sexual violence against women and children is used as a tool to further subjugate marginalised communities. In this case, the brutalization of the minor girl is evidence of not only the grave physical insecurities within which Bakarwal women in J&K meet sustenance and livelihood needs in the context of communalization and violent dispossession from their traditional forest areas, but also exposes the perpetrators’ attempts to humiliate  the community by targeting its most vulnerable members.

 

While prosecuting perpetrators of sexual violence against women and children is already fraught with challenges in a patriarchal society, the endorsement of violent and exclusionary politics and laws by the present government further compounds these challenges and offers impunity to dominant groups. In this case, these phenomena are evident in the rallies subsequent to the incident of rape and murder by some elements among the settled villagers and lawyers against the filing of the charge-sheet, preventing the community from burying the minor girl in their traditional burial grounds, as well as orders mandating eviction of Bakarwals from their customary forests and refusal to extend the Forest Rights Act to Jammu and Kashmir (details below)

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The J&K government has failed in its legal and constitutional duty to secure the life and liberty of the minor girl who  was marked by multiple marginalizations of  age, gender, religious and tribal identity, and her vulnerable situation compounded by sustained efforts to evict her community from their land,. Instead, the government was instrumental in magnifying her vulnerabilities by attempting to forcefully evict her family and community, jeopardizing their livelihood and way of life, and then failing to provide any form of redress for the sexual violence.

 

Instead of implementing the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee 2013, the central government has chosen to issue an ordinance, bypassing Parliamentary procedures, to introduce the death penalty in case of rapes of minors, further encouraging cycles of violence upon marginalized communities, despite studies that demonstrate the inefficacy of Death Penalty to curb such incidents of rape, and that a majority of those awarded the death penalty are themselves Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes revealing  a further reinforcement of the vicious cycle of oppression and discrimination.

 

Marginalised and threatened communities and livelihoods

MAKAAM views this heinous crime against the young girl as an aggression against the community and as part of systematic attempts to intimidate, terrorize and drive out the community in response to their growing assertion for forest rights and secure livelihoods, as is in evidence in other parts of the country as well where communities have staked claims to their traditional rights. The Bakarwals- Gujjars are traditionally pastoralist communities, who spend summer in the high altitude pastures of the Kashmir and Ladakh regions. In the winter, they move with their livestock to the Shivaliks and the plains of Jammu province.The community was classified as a Scheduled Tribe in 1991, and continues to remain largely marginalized owing to their nomadic lifestyles and general apathy of policy makers towards their rights and livelihoods. The appropriation of the customary lands of this tribal community by the state and some sections of the neighbouring communities on communal grounds is rendered evident by their refusal to allow the minor girl’s body to be buried on lands owned by her own family!

 

Owing to the non-recognition of the rights of the community to their customary forest lands, the Bakarwals continue to be viewed as ‘encroachers’ on the same forests where they have been practicing their traditional vocation for centuries, a fact expressly recognized by the Jammu and Kashmir government in 1975 through its executive orders in 1975. However, the control of the colonial-era forest bureaucracy continues to be legally and institutionally entrenched in the region, as the Forest Rights Act 2006 (FRA) does not extend to Jammu and Kashmir, denying traditional rights to the 27 lakh Bakharwal- Gujjar population. In other states in India, the FRA recognizes the authority of the Gram Sabha over Community Forest Resources (CFR) under sections S.3(1)(i) and S.5, and the historical rights of forest-dwelling communities to cultivable land, grazing pastures, minor forest produce under S.3, among others. In the neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh, the seasonal rights of pastoralists is duly vested and recognized under S.3 (1)(d), FRA. The non-extension of FRA to J&K permits the forest bureaucracy and state administration to prevent the community from using forest land for grazing and restrict access to traditional migratory routes. Areas used by the Bakarwals-Gujjars for seasonal migration have also been cordoned off ,[2] rendering habitation, collection of forest produce and water, grazing and movement difficult and also criminalizing them in the eyes of the state. Other issues like infrastructure, development of tourist resorts and linear infrastructure projects on traditional grazing areas have also made pastoralism  difficult and risk-fraught  for the community, already enmeshed in the midst of the  other deeper issues that have plagued the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

 

Grazing restrictions and lack of access to grazing grounds implies that they have had to wander further off from camps and villages hitherto familiar to them, exposing them to unfamiliar terrains and having to establish new social relationships in an environment fraught with suspicion.[3] This has also created safety issues for women and children who are primarily responsible for tasks like collecting fodder and firewood, while also sometimes helping out with rounding off animals and collection of minor forest produce to augment family incomes.

 

In defence of their traditional way of life and to secure livelihoods, the community had recently begun to assert their rights to forests and resources, and called for  an extension of the Forest Rights Act 2006[4] (FRA 2006) to J&K. We acknowledge that the implementation of the Forest Rights Act has been a long-standing demand of the Gujjar and Bakarwal associations in the state and join our voice in solidarity with these groups in demanding that the Act be extended to the state as  deemed appropriate and necessary within the context of Jammu and Kashmir, in order to secure the lives ,livelihoods and bodily safety of women pastoralists and their brethren and to allow them and other communities to live amicably in the practice of their traditional occupations in the region. We urge the government to take necessary steps to adopt the enactment of the FRA 2006 for the state ensuring that women’s rights to forests and to forest resources and to representation are secured to ensure them their livelihoods and traditional practices. We press for the issue to be taken up and settled to ensure justice urgently in the upcoming assembly session of the state

 

 

Communal fault lines and resource contestations

The circumstances described above are affecting the pastoral lifestyle of the community, and have led to many within the community preferring to lead a sedentary lifestyle, choosing to settle down in their villages around Jammu division and in some cases also buying land. This has led to resource contestations between the Bakarwal community and other resident villagers.[5] Since 2014, however, the situation has become increasingly tense, and the community has alleged that selective evictions and anti-encroachment drives against them have increased in the Jammu Division. They have also alleged incendiary speeches by the members of the ruling parties to incite violence against the community.[6] In this case the selective implementation of the order passed in 2015 by the Jammu Development Authority, authorising evictions of pastoralist/ nomadic and forest-dwelling communities from forest areas, has been used for further communalization and exacerbated local conflicts. Subsequently, several settlements belonging to Gujjar and Bakarwal nomadic tribal community were destroyed and the families evicted from their traditional migratory routes.[7] Incidents of desecration of religious structures of the community allegedly by the forest department, police department as well as the Jammu Development Authority for being situated on forest and ‘custodian property’ in the Jammu division have only aggravated the situation, and even led to the death of a Gujjar youth;[8] These same authorities  have also been unable to prevent the lynching of members of the Bakharwal- Gujjar community from communal mobs that attacked them on allegations of engaging in cow slaughter.[9]

 

In this context, where the security, lives and livelihood of the nomadic Bakarwal and Gujjar community are presently in great danger due to the polarization of the local communities, and in the absence of any policy to currently secure their rights of access and stay on forest and grazing land, we appreciate and register our support of the step taken by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to  issuing a directive in February 2018, taking heed of the  crimes perpetrated, which states that no member of the nomadic communities will be evicted without prior approval of the Tribal Welfare Department of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.[10] We register our firm opposition to the demand that the order be withdrawn.[11]

 

We strongly condemn all forms of sexual violence against women and girls, as well as the attempts of the government, Lawyers’ Bar Association and vigilante groups of the majority population in the region to hinder constitutional access to relief and remedy. The non-extension of FRA to J&K, the eviction and dispossession of Bakarwals from their traditional homelands in a context of increasing communalization compounds the vulnerabilities of women and children to atrocities and violence. We stand in solidarity with the Bakarwal – Gujjar communities for their rights to sustain their pastoral nomadic lives and livelihoods and access to resources to sustain the same.

 

Our DEMANDS:

 

We call upon the J&K and central governments to:

1)    Bring perpetrators of the heinous crime of rape and murder of the minor girl to justice.

2)    Extend the implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Forest Rights Act), 2006 to Jammu & Kashmir with full provisions for securing community and individual forest rights and rights to forest produce and to representation of women at least to the extent provided for in the FRA Act 2006. 

3)    Ensure continuance of directive of February 2018 until a policy is in place to safeguard rights of pastoralists.

4)   Withdraw the Central Government Ordinance introducing death penalty for rape of girls below 12 years, and demand that the POCSO be duly implemented to address such crimes against minors.

5)    The state government should enact a law to protect the rights  and livelihoods of the Pastoralist communities.

6)         Restore the Bakarwal- Gujjar community rights to their traditional livelihoods and ensure the security of their community and especially the girls and women as equal citizens..

कथुआ में गडरिया बकरवाल समुदाय की एक नाबालिक बच्ची के साथ हुए अत्याचारों, उसके बलात्कार व हत्या तथा बच्ची के समुदाय पर हो रहे अत्याचारों और उनके जबरन बेदखली पर –

साथ ही

जो समुदाय हाशिए पर है उनको आतंकित कर उनकी पारंपारिक जमीन और संसाधनों पर कब्जा करने के लिए उनकी महिलाओं के शारीरिक उत्पीडन के विरुद्ध –  

मकाम का निषेध पत्रक

 

मकाम[1] जम्मू-कश्मीर के कथुआ जिले में बकरवाल समुदाय की आठ साल की नाबालिग बच्ची के साथ हुए अत्याचारों, उसके बलात्कार व हत्या तथा तीव्र संताप और शोक व्यक्त करते है, यह ध्यान में रखते हुए कि नाबालिग बच्चियों पर यौन हिंसा की खबरें कई गाँव और शहरों से लगातार आ रही हैं। हम बकरवाल-गुज्जर समुदाय की पारंपरिक जमीन से जम्मू-कश्मीर प्रशासन द्वारा जबरन बेदखली पर भी विरोध वयक्त करते हैं और समुदाय पर हो रहे अत्याचारों की निन्दा करते हैं। इस जघन्य अत्याचार के पीछे बकरवाल समुदाय की जमीन हथियाने की सामाजिक-राजनैतिक मंशा के कारण जान-बूझ कर सांप्रदायिकरण की कोशिशें की जा रही हैं।

 

कथुआ में नाबालिग बच्ची के साथ हुई हिंसा ऐसी एकमात्र घटना नहीं, बल्कि ऐसी कई घटनाओं में एक है, जो कि महिलाओं और लडकियों पर बढते बलात्कार व क्रूरता का प्रमाण है। यह महिलाओं और लडकियों पर जाति और धर्म आधरित पितृसत्ता का बढता मर्दाना दावा है। महिलाओं, बच्चों, दलितों, आदिवासियों, एवं अल्पसंख्यकों के बिगडते संदर्भ में देश में उनके संसाधनों पर कब्जे की घटनाएँ उनकी परिस्थिति को और कमजोर कर रही हैं। हम जम्मू-कश्मीर में हाशिए पर रह रहे अल्पसंख्यक गडरिया समुदायों के ध्रुविकरण, बेदखली,और पारंपरिक जमीनों पर उनके अधिकार. जिससे वे अपनी मौसमी आजीविका चलाते है के हनन की भर्त्सना करते हैं।

 

यौन हिंसा – दमन का अस्त्र

 

कथुआ में आठ साल की नाबालिग बच्ची के साथ हुए अत्याचार, बलात्कार व हत्या प्रकाश डालता है कि किस तरह यौन हिंसा दमन का एक अस्त्र है जो हाशिए पर रह रहे समुदायों को कुचलने के लिए प्रयोग किया जाता है। कथुआ की घटना ना सिर्फ जम्मू-कश्मीर की बकरवाल महिलाओं की उस गंभीर शारीरिक असुरक्षा (जो सांप्रदायिकरण और उनकी पारंपरिक वन भूमि से हिंसक बेदखली के कारण बढ गई है) का प्रमाण हैं जिसमें वे अपनी आजीविका जुटा रहीं हैं, साथ ही अपराधियों की बकरवाल समुदाय को अपमानित करने की कोशिशों (जो वे सबसे कमजोर को निशाना बना कर करते हैं) का पर्दाफाश भी करती है।

 

ऐसे पितृसत्तात्मक समाज में महिलाओं एवं बच्चों पर यौन हिंसा के अपराधियों को सजा दिलाना चुनौतियों भरा है, उसपर मौजूदा सरकार हिंसा और बहिष्करण की राजनीति का समर्थन कर एवं दबंग गुटों को खुली छूट देकर इन चुनौतियों को और बढा रही है। बलात्कार व हत्या के बाद चार्जशीट प्रक्रिया के खिलाफ वकीलों और कुछ स्थायी ग्रामीणों द्वारा निकाली रैलियाँ इसी बात का सबूत हैं। दबंग समुदायों द्वारा बच्ची की लाश को उनके पारंपरिक दफन भूमि में दफनाने नहीं दिया जाना, बकरवाल समुदाय को उनकी पारंपरिक वन भूमि से बलपुर्वक निर्वासित करने के सरकारी आदेश, सरकार की वन अधिकार कानून 2006 को जम्मू कश्मीर में नहीं लागू करने की जिद, इत्यादि इसी क्रम में हैं।

 

जम्मू कश्मीर सरकार एक नाबालिग बच्ची, जो उम्र, लिंग, धर्म और आदिवासी पहचान आदि के आधार पर होने वाले हाशियाकरण, और अपने समुदाय के निर्वासन के कारण और भी खतरे मे थी, के जीवन और  स्वतंत्रता के अधिकारों की रक्षा करने में विफल रही है। बल्कि, सरकार ने उसके परिवार और समुदाय को बलपुर्वक निर्वासित करने, उनके आजीविका और जीवन पद्धति को तबाह करने और फिर उसके साथ हुई यौनिक हिंसा को रोकने में विफल रहकर उस स्थिति को और नाज़ुक बना दिया।

 

केन्द्र सरकार, पॉक्सो कानून और जस्टिस वर्मा समिति 2013 की सिफारिशों को लागू करने के बजाए, संसद की अनदेखी करते हुए, एक अध्यादेश लाई है, जिसके द्वारा नाबालिगों से बलात्कार के मामले में मौत की सजा का प्रावधान किया गया हैं। इससे वंचित समुदायों पर हिंसा का चक्र और बढ़ने का खतरा है। अध्ययनों से यह पता चला है कि मौत की सज़ा ऐसे अपराधों को रोकने में अक्षम है और जिन्हें मौत की सज़ा मिलती है उनमें से अधिकांश दलित और आदिवासी ही होते है, इस प्रकार इन समुदायों के विरूद्ध हिंसा और शोषण के एक दुष्चक्र का ही पता चलता है।

 

वंचित समुदाय और आजिविका

 

मकाम नाबालिग बच्ची के साथ हुए इस जघन्य अपराध को उसके समुदाय के विरूद्ध आक्रमण के रूप में देखता है, जो उन्हें डराने और निवार्सित करने के लिये किया जा रहा है,क्योंकि वे अपनी आजीविका के अधिकार की मांग पर जोर दे रहे हैं। ऐसा देश के दुसरे हिस्सों में जहां ऐसे समुदाय अपने पारम्परिक अधिकार पर दावा कर रहे हैं, वहां भी हो रहा है। बकरवाल-गुज्जर पारम्परिक रूप से चरवाहा समुदाय हैं जो गर्मीयां कश्मीर और लद्दाख की उंचे चारागाहों में गुजारते हैं। जाड़ों में वे अपने जानवरों के साथ जम्मू और शिवालिक के पहाड व मैदानों में आ जाते हैं। इस समुदाय को 1991 में अनुसूचित जनजाति में शामिल किया गया था और यह समुदाय अपने घुमंतु जीवन और उनके अधिकारों और आजीविका के प्रति नीति निर्माताओं की बेरूखी के कारण अभी भी वंचित बना हुआ है। इस आदिवासी समुदाय के पारंपरिक जमीनों को राज्य और कुछे दुसरे समुदायों द्वारा सांप्रदायिक आधार पर हड़पने की कोशिश का सबूत है कि बच्ची की लाश को उसके परिवार के अपनी जमीन पर भी दफनाने नहीं दिया गया।

 

इस समुदाय के पारम्परिक जमीनों पर उनके अधिकार को मान्यता नहीं देने के कारण, बकरवाल समुदाय को हमेशा ही उसी जंगल पर अतिक्रमणकारी के रूप में देखा जाता है जहां वे सदियों से अपना पारम्परिक काम कर रहे हैं। यह एक ऐसा तथ्य है, जिसे जम्मू-कश्मीर सरकार ने 1975 के अपने आदेश में भी माना है। लेकिन औपनिवेशिक काल के वन प्रशासन और अफसरशाही का नियंत्रण इस क्षेत्र में अभी जारी है क्योंकि वहां वन अधिकार कानून 2006 लागू नहीं है और इस प्रकार 27 लाख बकरवाल-गुज्जर आबादी अपने अधिकारों से वंचित है।

 

देश के अन्य राज्यों में वन अधिकार कानून सामुदायिक वन संसाधनों पर ग्राम सभा की शक्तियों और वन में रहने वाले समुदायों को खेती की जमीन, चारागाह और वन उपज पर ऐतिहासिक अधिकार देता है। पड़ोसी राज्य हिमाचल प्रदेश में वन अधिकार कानून के तहत चरवाहों के मौसमी हक़ो की मान्यता दी गई है और लागू किया गया है। वन अधिकार कानून के जम्मू और कश्मीर में लागू नहीं होने से वन अफसर शाही और राज्य प्रशासन को अधिकार मिला है कि वे इस समुदाय के वन भुमि के चारागाह पर जानवर चराने से रोकें और उनके पारम्परिक पलायन को रास्तों पर रोक लगायें। बकरवाल- गुज्जर परिवारों द्वारा पलायन के रास्तों को भी घेरा गया है,[2] जिससे उनका रहना, वन उपज और पानी संग्रहण करना, जानवर चराना और आवाजाही करना मुश्किल हो गया है और उन्हें राज्य की नजर में अपराधी बना दिया है। अन्य मुद्दे जैसे अधोसंरचना, पर्यटन, सड़के आदि ने भी चरवाही को इस समुदाय के लिये मुश्किल और खतरनाक बना दिया है, जो पहल से ही जम्मू-कश्मीर के अन्य गंभीर मुद्दों से प्रभावित हैं।

 

चारागाहो पर प्रतिबन्ध  और अन्य जगहों पर इन समुदायों की पहुँच की कमी का सीधा अर्थ है इन समुदायों को उन जगहों में जाने के लिए बाध्य करना जो इनके लिए अपरिचित हैं. ये वैसे नए जगहों में जाने के लिए मजबूर हैं जो भोतिक रूप से दुर्गम और सामाजिक रूप से अनजान हैं जहाँ इनके लिए सिर्फ संदेह का माहौल है.[3] ऐसी जगहें महिलाओ एवं बच्चियों के लिए असुरक्षित बन गई हैं, जिनका मुख्य काम जलावन के लिए लकड़ी जुटाना, पारिवारिक आय के लिए वनोत्पाद संग्रह करना और और पशुचारण है. 

 

अपनी आजीवीका के लिए और परम्परागत जीवन शैली को बचाए रखने के लिए इस समुदायों ने अब वनों एवं अन्य संसाधनों पर अपने अधिकार की दावेदारी दिखाना आरम्भ किया है और जम्मू कश्मीर में भी वनाधिकार कानून 2006[4] को विस्तारित करने की माग की है. हम मानते हैं कि वनाधिकार कानून को जम्मू कश्मीर में विस्तृत करने की मांग गुजजर और बकरवाल समुदायों की मांग पुरानी है. और यह मानते हैं कि  जम्मू कश्मीर में इस राज्य कि स्थितियों के मद्देनजर वनाधिकार कानून का विस्तार इन समुदायों की आजीविका की रक्षा, महिला चरवाहों यावें उनके भाई बंधुओं की सुरक्षा के लिए आवशयक है. यह इन समुदायों को अपने पारंपरिक आजीविका एवं जीवन शैली के साथ इस क्षेत्र में रहने में मददगार होगा. हम सरकार आग्रह करते हैं कि वनाधिकार कानून को इस राज्य में लाने के लिए आवश्यक कदम उठाये और महिलाओं के वन एवं वन संसाधनों में अधिकार को सुनिश्चित करे ताकि ये अपनी परंपरागत आजीविका और जीवन अह्सिली कोसुरक्षित रख सकें. हम इस बात का जोर देते हैं कि सरकार इस मुद्दे को अगले विधान सभा चनावों के पहले सुलझए और इस समुदाय के लिए  न्याय सुनिश्चित करे.

 सांप्रदायिक तनाव व संसाधनों पर प्रतिद्वांदिता:

 

उपरोक्त वर्णित परिस्थतियाँ समुदाय की चरवाहा ज़िन्दगी कोप्रभावित कर रही हैं. और इनमे से बहुतों ने अब स्थायी ज़िन्दगी बिताना आरम्भ कर दिया है. जम्मू क्षेत्र के कुछ जगहों में वे गाँव में बस गए हैं और कुछ लोग भूमि खरीद कर भी बस गए हैं.. इसका प्रतिफल है बकरवाल समुदाय एवं गाँव के अन्य निवासियों के बीच संसाधनों के लिए प्रतिद्वंदिता.[5] 2014 से स्थिति लगातार तनावपूर होते जा रही है और बकरवाल समुदाय की शिकायत है जम्मू क्षेत्र में इन समुदायों को  अतिक्रमण विरोधी अभियान के तहत चुन-चुन कर बेदखल किया जा रहा है. उनकी ये भी शिकायत है की सत्ताधारी दल के सदश्यों द्वारा भड़काऊ भाषणों के द्वारा इस समुदाय के खिलाफ हिंसा फ़ैलाने के प्रयास किये जाते हैं.[6] 2015 में जम्मू कश्मीर विकास प्राधिकार द्वारा पारित एक आदेश जो चरवाहा, घुमंतू समुदायों एवं जंगल में रह रहे समुदायों को बेदखल करने के लिए अधिकृत करता है का इस्तेमाल इन समुदायों के अपराधीकरण के लिए किया जा रहा है. साथ ही कुछ ऐसे  बसावट जो गुज्जर- बकरवाल और घ्मन्तु आदिवासी समुदाय के हैं  नष्ट कर दिये गये हैं और और उन्हें बेदखल कर दिया गया है.[7] वन विभाग के अधिकारियों, पुलिस एवं जम्मू विकास प्राधिकार द्वारा धार्मिक स्थलों को अपवित्र करने की घटनाओ को अनजाम दे रहे हैं इन घटनाओं ने स्थिति कि गम्भीरता को बढ़ाया है और कुछ गुज्जर युवको की मृत्यु की घटनायें भी हुई हैं.[8] ये  अधिकारी, उन्मादी भीड़ गुज्जर एवं बकरवाल समुदाय के सदश्यों की हत्या को भी नही रोक पा रहे हैं जो गो हत्या के नाम पर हो रहे हैं.[9]

 

इस सन्दर्भ में स्थानीय निवासियों के ध्रुवीकरण के कारण और जंगल और चरागाहो के सुरक्षा हेतु  किसी निति के आभाव में घुमंतू गुज्जर –बकरवाल समुदाय का जीवन, आजीविका एकदम खतरे में आ गयी है, हम जम्मु कश्मीर सरकार द्वारा फ़रवरी 2018 में  दिए गये निर्देश का  समर्थन करते हैं जो यह सुनिश्चित करती है की किसी घुमंतू समुदाय को  बिना आदिवासी कल्याण विभाग जम्मू कश्मीर की अनुमति के बिना बेदखल न किया जाये[10] और हम उस मंkग का पुरजोर विरोध करते हैं जो इस आदेश को वापस लेने  के लिए किया जा रहा है .[11]

 

हम महिलाओं और लड़कियों पर होने वाले हर प्रकार के यौनिक हिंसा की पूरज़ोर निन्दा करते हैं और साथ ही सरकार, बार एसोसिएशन, और क्षेत्र के बहुसंख्यक आबादी के कुछ तत्वों द्वारा संवैधानिक सहायता व उपचार तक पहुंच को रोकने के प्रयासों की भी निंदा करते हैं। वन अधिकार कानून का जम्मू और कश्मीर में लागू नहीं होना और बढ़ती हुई सांप्रदायिकता के कारण बकरवाल समुदाय का पारंपरिक जगहों से विस्थापन और निर्वासन महिलाओं और बच्चों को हिंसा और अत्याचारों का आसान शिकार बना देते हैं। हम बकरवाल-गुज्जर समुदाय के आजीविका के अधिकार के समर्थन में एकजुटता से खड़े हैं।

 

हमारी मांगेंः

 

हम जम्मू कश्मीर और केन्द्र सरकार से मांग करते हैं किः-

1.      नाबालिग लड़की के साथ बलात्कार और हत्या जैसे जघन्य अपराध के दोषियों को कड़ी सजा दी जाए।

2.      वन्य अधिकार कानून, 2006 को जम्मू कश्मीर में पूरी तरह से लागू किया जाये, जिससे व्यक्तिगत और सामुदायिक वन अधिकार, वन उपजों पर अधिकार और वन अधिकार कानून के तहत दिये गये महिला प्रतिनिधित्व को सुनिश्चित किया जा सके।

3.      चरवाहा सामुदायों के अधिकारों की रक्षा के लिये जब तक की नीति नहीं बन जाती तब तक फरवरी 2018 के निर्देशों को जारी रखा जाये।

4.      यौनिक हिंसा के मामले में मृत्यु दण्ड देने वाले केन्द्र सरकार द्वारा जारी अध्यादेश को वापस लिया जाए और नाबालिगों के विरूद्ध ऐसी हिंसा से निबटने के लिये पॉक्सो कानून को ठ़ीक से लागू किया जाए।

5.      राज्य सरकार को चरवाहा समुदायों के अधिकारों और आजिविका की रक्षा के लिये कानून बनाना चाहिये।

6.      बकरवाल-गुज्जर समुदाय के पारम्परिक आजीविका पर अधिकार को बहाल किया जाए और इस समुदाय, विशेषकर महिलाओं और बच्चों की सुरक्षा सुनिश्चित की जाए।

 

[1] MAKAAM-Mahila Kisan Adhikar Manch – is a nationwide informal forum of individuals and organisations of women farmers, women farmers’ collectives, civil society organisations, researchers and activists, drawn from 25 states of India, to secure recognition and rights for women farmers in India.

[2] Gupta, S. (2018).The micro-politics of Forest Use and Control.In. New Spaces for Cooperation and Conflict In Contesting Conservation: Shahtoosh Trade and Forest Management in Jammu and Kashmir in India. Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research. Springer International Publishing.

[3] Id.

[4] Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Forest Rights Act), 2006

 

Endorsed by MAKAAM MEMBERS

1.    Action India, Delhi

2.    Akole Tsuhah, NEN, Nagaland, National Facilitation Team (NFT) Member, MAKAAM

3.    Alice Moris, Gujarat

4.    Anita Paul, Ranikhet, Uttarakhand

5.    Anurita Hazarika, Assam, NFT Member

6.    Anu Verma – NES, ILC (Institutional endorsement)

7.    Archana Singh, Madhya Pradesh, NFT Member

8.    Ashalatha S, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, NFT Member

9.    B. Jyothi, CCC, Telangana

10..  Bhavya Sharma, Gujarat

11.  Bhavna Rabari, Gujrat

12.  Bimla Chandrasekaran, Ekta, Madurai, Tamil Nadu

13.  Bishakha Bhanja

14.  Chhaya Datar, Mumbai

15.  Dinesh Pandya, Gujrat 

16.  Dinesh Rabari, Gujrat

17.  Dr. Gnana Prakasam, CWS, Telangana

18.  Dr. Vasavi Kiro, EX Member Jharkhand State Commission for Women

19.  Fatima Burnad, SRED, Tamil Nadu, NFT Member

20.  Geeta Gairola, Dehradun, Uttarakhand

21.  Ginny Shrivastava, Rajasthan, NFT Member

22.  Govind Desai, Gujarat

23.  Govind Kelkar, Haryana

24.  Guliben Nayak, Devgadh Mahila Sangathan, Gujarat

25.  Hema Swaminathan, Bangalore

26.  Hiral Dave, Gujarat

27.  Jaya Iyer Khaanna, Delhi

28.  Jeevika Shiv,  G ujarat

29.  Jahnvi Andharia, Gujrat 

30.  Jyotsna Tirkey, Gujarat

31.  K. Sajaya, Telangana

32.  Kavita Gandhi, Pune, India

33.  Kavitha Kuruganti, Bangalore, NFT Member

34.  Keerti, Bihar

35.  Kumari Jamkatan, Maharashtra

36.  M. Sujatha, CCC, Telangana

37.  Mahila Samakhya Society, Kerala

38.  Malika Virdi, Maati, Munsiari, Uttarakhand

39.  Meera Velayudhan, Gujarat

40.  Monisha Behal, Assam

41.  Mukesh Shende, Maharashtra

42.  N Indira, Telangana

43.  Nafisa Barot, Gujrat

44.  Namrata Daniel, Delhi

45.   Neerja Bhatnagar, Mumbai

46.  Neeta Hardikar, Gujarat

47.  Neeta Pandya, Pastoral Women’s Alliance

48.  Nikita Sonavane, Gujarat

49.  Nupur, Centre for Social Justice, Gujarat

50.  Pallavi Sobti Rajpal, Gujarat

51.  Poonam Kathuria, Gujarat

52.  Pravin Bhikadiya, Gujrat

53.  Purabi Paul, Shramajivi Mahila Samiti Jamshedpur

54.  R. Lakshmi, Telangana

55.  R. Swetha, CCC, Telangana

56.  Radhika Chitkara, Uttar Pradesh

57.  Rajendra Jaiswal

58.  Ravi Kanneganti, Telangana Rythu JAC, Telangana

59.  Rengalakshmi, MSSRF, Tamil Nadu

60.  Renu Thakur, Village Helpiya, Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand

61.  Richa Audichya, Janchetna Sansthan, Rajasthan

62.  Ritu Dewan, Centre for Development Research and Action, Mumbai, Maharashtra

63.  Rukmini Rao, Telangana, NFT Member

64.  Sabita Parida, Haryana

65.  Samatha Valluri

66.  Samhita Barooah, Guwahati, Assam

67.  Sanghamitra Dubey, Odisha

68.  Sara Ahmed, Gujarat

69.  Satish Gogulwar, Maharashtra

70.  Seema Kulkarni, Maharashtra, NFT Member

71.  Sejal Dand, Gujarat, NFT Member

72.  Sejal Dave, Gujarat

73.  Sharanya Nayak, Humane Team, Odisha

74.  Sheelu Francis, Women’s Collective, Tamil Nadu

75.  Shilpa Vasavada, Gujarat, NFT Member

76.  Shubhada Deshmukh, NFT Member, Maharashtra

77.  Soma KP, New Delhi, NFT Member

78.  Sucharita, CWS, Telangana

79.  Sumi Krishna, Bangalore, Karnataka

80.  Sumitra Sharma, Himachal Pradesh

81.  Suneeta Dhar, Delhi

82.  Sunita Rao, Vanastree, Sirsi, Karnataka

83.  Suvarna Damle, Prakriti, Maharashtra

84.  Ulka Mahajan, Sarvahara Jan andolan, Maharashtra

85.  Usha Seethalakshmi,  Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, NFT Member

86.  Vaishali Raj Patil, Mahila Atyachar Virodhi Manch, Maharashtra

87.  Varsha Ganguly, Gujarat

88.  Vimala Morthala, Telangana

89..  Yogini Dolke, Maharashtra

Contact for queries: MAKAAM Secretariat: SOPPECOM, Pune 91 20 2546 5936

[email protected][email protected] ; radhika.c[email protected]

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India – The myth of 15 million jobs

Incomparable data sets, cherry-picking, and dubious statistical analysis are behind the claims of robust employment growth. Only 1.4 million jobs were added in 2017.

Surjit Bhalla has invented an estimate that 15 million jobs were created in 2017 (‘Robust job growth, not fake news,’ IE, April 28). This is an invention; it is not a discovery or an inference by honest statistical analysis. It is an invention because Bhalla unnecessarily patches selective estimates of two completely incomparable sources of data on employment. Note that the two sources are completely incomparable and the patches are of cherry-picked data — apparent selections of convenient estimates from two different sources.

Further, there is no compelling reason to be so selective because both sources provide complete data to draw independent inferences.

 

Bhalla presents data on two age groups — 15-24 years and 25-64 years. He has chosen to disregard people of 65 years and above although 16 million of these were employed during early 2016. So, we have two age groups — 15-24 and 25-64 years. The stated reason for this division is because, “when you have increased enrolment in education … employment (and labour force) definition should include the fact that you are attending school or college’’.

I don’t get that reasoning. It is more likely that the division is just the convenient one to get the desired results.

CMIE provides data on employment by age-brackets in its “Statistical Profile”, which is released after the completion of every wave of its Consumer Pyramids Household Survey (CPHS). Data from six such waves are freely available at http://unemploymentinindia.cmie.com. There are 10 age brackets of five years each from 15-19 through 60-64 and then there is an 11th age bracket of greater than 64 years age.

Bhalla picks data for the age groups 25-64 from here and ignores the data on the age-groups 15-24 and greater than 64 years. Why were these age brackets picked and why were the others not? This was cherry-picking of selective data that suits the objective of the author.

As is clear from the table, jobs were added in the age bracket 25-64 years. But, jobs were lost in the age brackets 15-24 years and greater than 64 years. These age brackets have been omitted by the author. The CPHS data shows that jobs grew by 1.4 million in 2017 and not 15 million, as claimed by Bhalla.

If all the data is available in CMIE’s CPHS database, why was it necessary to patch the data with the EPFO data? This question is pertinent because the two sources are not at all comparable. The EPFO data pertains to only about 15 per cent of India’s labour force. The Economic Survey had estimated 60 million to be registered in EPFO. Compare this to over 400 million persons employed in the country.

So, the EPFO data used for the age group 15-24 is seriously partial. It is possible that the rise in employment in this partial dataset is offset by greater decline in the full dataset of all persons in the 15-24 age bracket. This is what CMIE’s CPHS data suggests.

An increase in EPFO registration does not necessarily mean increase in employment. These data reflect the substantial formalisation of the labour force happening around now. Old jobs are now being formalised thanks to the government’s efforts in this direction. This will usher in better job and social security for the labour force. It will help the labour force in building up savings for old age. The data from EPFO reflects this formalisation of existing jobs. It does not necessarily indicate the creation of new jobs.

Further, there is no need to discount the data by 20 per cent because these are now Aadhaar-linked and it is unlikely to double-count job-hoppers. It is only the ESIC data that is not completely free of duplication.

CPHS shows that the recent anguish around jobs has hit youngsters hard. The labour participation rate (LPR) of the age group 15-24 declined systematically in every wave after demonetisation. Lack of jobs has kept these people away from labour markets.

The LPR of the 15-19 years group fell from 20 per cent during January-August 2016 to 9 per cent during 2017. LPR for the 20-24 years group fell from 46 per cent to 39 per cent during the same period. This fall in the LPR for these young age groups holds true across male and female members and also across rural and urban regions.

The fall in the LPR of the young age groups stabilised by the end of 2017. It has not recovered to its pre-demonetisation levels.

Bhalla has raised doubts about the very low LPR among women seen in the CPHS data. That the female labour participation rate is low is quite well- established in all surveys. The question is whether it can be as low as 12 per cent as given in the Statistical Profile based on CPHS. First, the female LPR estimated from CPHS was 16 per cent during January-August 2016. It fell after demonetisation to 12 per cent and has not recovered since then.

Second, Bhalla has not found any sampling or non-sampling problems with CPHS as he states that the sample is large enough at over 500,000 individuals and the question on employment/unemployment status is too simple to elicit an incorrect answer.

So Bhalla deduces: “The only manner in which such a large outsized anomaly can be obtained is via incorrect weights.’’ But, why is that an anomaly? And, why are those weights incorrect? They are the same weights that were used to generate the estimate of 12 million jobs that were happily used by Bhalla to build up the claim of 15 million jobs being created in 2017.

Weights are not arbitrary adjustments that can be used to derive desired results. They are determined by the survey design of any complex survey. CPHS is a complex survey involving multi-stage stratification. CMIE has described the survey design in detail and it has provided weights against each sample household and each member in the survey. It has released the full R-code used to generate all estimates. All the record-level data is also available.

We will welcome criticism based on an examination of these. But, a mere comment that the weights are incorrect is indeed very much incorrect.

The myth of 15 million jobs

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“Security for journalists a foundation for fair election reporting”: NWMI

The Network of Women in Media, India (NWMI) is alarmed over the escalation of intimidation and violence during the poll process in Hooghly, Birbhum, Coochbehar and other parts of West Bengal during the run-up to the panchayat elections in the state. According to media reports, the period from April 2-9 and again from April 23 onwards saw violent incidents not only between contesting political parties but also several attacks on reporters and photographers including  reports of stripping of a photojournalist in Alipur  in South 24 Parganas when he had gone to cover the nomination filing process on April 9.

Women journalists are particularly vulnerable. One among them was Pragya Saha of Aakash Bangla channel who was whisked away on April 23, while covering proceedings related to the polls in Alipore Court in Kolkata and held in a room for almost three hours. Narrating her horrific experience, Saha said: “A group of youth forcefully took me to a room in a slum area. They spoke with me in filthy language and confined me for four hours. They also threatened to harm my family if I opened my mouth. They also formatted my phone.”

After being rescued following her colleagues’ calls to the Police Headquarters and political leaders, Saha said she was too traumatised at that point to file a police complaint and wanted first to speak to her office and family.

Another journalist, Suchandra Dey wrote in Bengali daily, Anandabazar Patrika, on April 24, about her predicament when she had gone to cover an incident of violence in Katwa’s Panuhat. She said that she and her photographer, along with another journalist, rushed to the spot upon hearing about violence in the area. When they stopped at Indarapara More to photograph and video record (on cell phones) a group of people heckling a local tea shop owner over allegations of political discord, several men charged at them. During the attack, she was punched on her chest and her cell phone was also misplaced in the melee. However, some of the bystanders came to their rescue.  “The person who had hit me had his face uncovered,” said Dey. “I don’t know his name but I remember his face.”

Following the Press Council of India’s suo moto notice of the attacks on journalists and on April 13 seeking  a report from the West Bengal government, Chief Minister Banerji’s denial of the incidents before an investigation does not bode well for a fair inquiry and action against those guilty.

The NWMI and its West Bengal chapter Bengal Net strongly condemn the attacks on journalists and press photographers covering the poll process. Such intimidation and violence adversely impacts free and fair reporting of the electoral process, and also impinges on the public’s right to know.

We demand that:

  • The West Bengal government initiate an independent investigation into the incidents, identify the perpetrators and bring them to book.
  • Compensation is provided for personal injury and damage to professional equipment during the attacks.
  • An atmosphere free from intimidation, pressure and violence be ensured for journalists to be able to fulfil their professional duties.

The Network of Women in Media, India

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Karl Marx on India, colonialism and religion #LabourDay

File photo of labourers working in a brick kiln. Representative image

Marx, argues the author, is often misunderstood and even more often, misrepresented even as the world observes his bicentenary

Both apologists and opponents of colonialism have argued that Marx had seen British colonialism as a progressive intervention of history in a stagnant and backward India. There can perhaps be a no bigger misreading and misrepresentation of Marx’s views about India.

Marx was very clear that capital did not operate only in the apparently legally regulated environment of capitalist countries; he was very much alive to the reality of colonial plunder and violent accumulation of capital from across the world, which in fact had created the conditions for capitalism to emerge.

He was keenly aware that “If money comes into the world with a congenital blood-stain on one cheek, capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt” (Capital, Volume one, Chapter 31: Genesis of the Industrial Capitalist).

In the specific context of India, Marx was a trenchant critic of the barbarity of British colonial rule, its loot and torture, clearly acknowledging that “the misery inflicted by the British on Hindustan is of an essentially different and infinitely more intensive kind than all Hindustan had to suffer before…The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilisation lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked” – Marx wrote this in June 1853 in his dispatch The British Rule in India for the New York Herald Tribune.

At the same time, for Marx, the village communities in India were no idyllic islands of peace and prosperity, rather they were contaminated by the distinctions of “caste and slavery”, and castes were “decisive impediments to Indian progress and Indian power”.

He was clear that “All the English bourgeoisie may be forced to do will neither emancipate nor materially mend the social condition of the mass of the people,” and he wrote this in July 1853 when the British rulers were claiming credit for the launch of the railways in India as a revolutionary development.

In the specific context of India, Marx was a trenchant critic of the barbarity of British colonial rule, its loot and torture, clearly acknowledging that “the misery inflicted by the British on Hindustan is of an essentially different and infinitely more intensive kind than all Hindustan had to suffer before…The profound hypocrisy and inherent barbarism of bourgeois civilisation lies unveiled before our eyes, turning from its home, where it assumes respectable forms, to the colonies, where it goes naked” – Marx wrote this in June 1853 in his dispatch ‘The British Rule in India’ for the New York Herald Tribune

In the same dispatch titled The Future Results of British Rule in India, Marx went on to argue that “The Indians will not reap the fruits of the new elements of society scattered among them by the British bourgeoisie, till in Great Britain itself the now ruling classes shall have been supplanted by the industrial proletariat, or till the Indians themselves shall have grown strong enough to throw off the English yoke altogether.” Marx thus posits the question of complete Indian independence in July 1853, four years before sections of Indians rose in revolt to wage India’s first war of independence.

It is also often heard that Marx despised religion as ‘opium of the masses’ and called for a ban on all religions. This again is a selective simplification, if not a mischievous misrepresentation, of Marx’s ideas on religion.

“Religion is the heart of a heartless world”

The expression ‘opium of the people’ comes at the end of a paragraph which reads thus: “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

Marxism has therefore always focused on changing that ‘heartless world’ and its ‘soulless conditions’, and insisted on treating religion as a matter for the individual, strictly separating it from the state and public affairs administered by the state.

As we observe the bicentenary of Marx’s birth, we are being ruled in India by a bunch of the most bigoted and obscurantist rulers who seek to address ideological debates through hate, lies and violence. Only the other day, heady with arrogance following their surprise victory in Tripura, they bulldozed statues of Lenin calling him a foreign icon unrelated to India.

They will say the same thing about Marx. These are the people who invite foreign companies to come and plunder India’s resources, who kowtow to Trump as the supreme ruler of the world and if we go back in history we find their ideological forefathers collaborating all through with the British colonial rulers.

And in order not to be misled by this silly distinction of whether an idea or an intellectual is of Indian origin or foreign, we must always remember that the RSS has always idolised foreign icons. Incidentally, the icon they worshipped was another German called Adolf Hitler. And these people, who oppose Marx and Lenin, also oppose Ambedkar and Periyar.

Clearly, it is not about the origin of the idea, but the idea itself which is the real bone of contention. All who stand and fight for equality and justice, liberty and fraternity will always feel inspired by Marx while the enemies of equality will always remain mortally afraid of this revolutionary giant. More power to the ideas and legacy of Marx!

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May Day: Justice denied as less than 2% of workers get assured pension 

A representative image of construction workers

A recent survey in Delhi revealed that 90% of construction workers have not got the expected benefits despite ₹2,500 crores having been collected in Delhi and around ₹40,000 crores nationally

Although 22 years have passed since the enaction of beneficial social security laws for construction workers, the overwhelming majority of them are still not getting the expected benefits.

A survey conducted in mid-April in several colonies of Delhi like Bawana and Shahbad Dairy, where a substantial members of construction workers live, revealed that 90% of construction workers there have not got the expected benefits.

It is also true that those who have got the benefits were extremely joyful but their number is 10 per cent or less. But, what was shocking was that less that 2% (perhaps even less) of the workers have got pension, which is the most important benefit.

The number of children who have got scholarships is a little higher but an overwhelming majority are excluded. In case of other benefits such as monetary help during marriages, the beneficiaries are even more negligible. However, what concerns the workers most is the non-availability of the much desired pension for workers who cannot toil any more.

In 1996, two important legislation were passed by the Parliament for construction workers—the Building and Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996. This legislation came only after a 12 years long sustained campaign by the National Campaign Committee for Construction Labour (NCC-CL) in which various central trade unions campaigned unitedly.

Among other things, this legislation provides for a cess to be collected on all new construction activity at the rate of one percent of the total budget of the construction being taken up. This amount has to be deposited with the construction workers’ welfare board for many-sided welfare activities of construction workers including pension, assistance in case of accident, housing loan, insurance scheme, maternity benefits, education of children etc. This legislation applies to every building or other construction work which employs ten or more workers. It covers all Central and State government establishments.

Leelawati, an elderly women, says, “Both my husband and I get ₹3,300 each as construction worker pension. As I have a few ailments, this pension is a great help.”

Unfortunately, just about 2 per cent of the workers get it even in colonies where efforts to mobilise construction workers have been in progress.

What is distressing is that workers like Anjaar Ahmed and Naguran have made multiple trips to offices to get their pension, but they have not been successful. A few of them say that they have made a number of trips to the concerned offices to deposit their documents and to find out when their pensions will start. In the process they have spent a lot of money and time but still they have not got any official assurance as to when their pensions would begin.

Around ₹40,000 crores have been collected at the national level and around ₹2,500 crores in Delhi alone. In addition there is interest on the amount too. So many workers could have benefited but the number of actual beneficiaries is still very small

 

This is not just the situation in a few colonies of construction workers. Even the Supreme Court has expressed serious concerns about the funds meant for construction workers not reaching them. Unfortunately even the directives of the Supreme Court to ensure a life of dignity to construction workers have not yet improved the situation on ground.

Subhash Bhatnagar, a coordinator of the National Campaign Committee for construction workers, says, “Around ₹40,000 crores have been collected at the national level and around ₹2,500 crores in Delhi alone. In addition there is interest on the amount too. So many workers could have benefited but the number of actual beneficiaries is still very small.”

Umesh Singh, an elderly activist involved in the grassroot mobilisation of workers for welfare legislation, says, “Today I am very disappointed man when I see that genuine persons and organisations are being pushed aside, while dubious organisation use corrupt methods to get fake names registered as beneficiaries.”

During recent visits to colonies where a substantial number of construction workers live, this writer met several elderly persons who were unable to work any longer and the pension could have reduced their distress.

The writer is a freelance journalist who has been involved with various social movements and initiatives

National Herald

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