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Archives for : May2018

Fighting back: Meet Rahanas, child sexual abuse survivor, and now a proud lawyer

Rahanas , who was sexually abused by her father and 11 others, has beaten all odds to become an advocate.

When she was a Class 9 student, Rahanas PP went through horrific sexual abuse. Her father is the prime convict in the rape case. Now 25, the young woman enrolled as an advocate at the Kerala High Court on Saturday. The journey thus far was no cakewalk and Rahanas had to confront uncertainties at every turn.

But, the struggle has seen her emerge stronger. She is firm that the world should know her by her name and that she will not wear the cloak of anonymity. Speaking to TNM, the brave survivor says that her life has gone through a sea change and so has her perspective.

“Even at the time of the trial, I had asked my aunt why the complaint had been filed, and why I should go through all the procedures. But now, I will tell all women or the kin of all young children who undergo such atrocities, that the crime should be reported and that they should fight back,” she says.

On revealing identity

Moreover, Rahanas says that the identity of the survivor shouldn’t be reduced to the details of the crime.

“Their identity shouldn’t be that of the place where the crime happened. They shouldn’t be referred to merely as that ‘home girl’ (a girl who lives in a rehabilitation centre for child sexual abuse survivors). The names should be revealed. Assertion of identity is important. By making society familiar with the names of child sexual abuse survivors, a process of inclusion happens,” she opines.

Recounting her growing up years, Rahanas says, “Only a few – our teachers and close friends – knew that we are sexual abuse survivors. Since we are from a ‘home’ (Samakhya’s rehabilitation home), people would sense that all was not well with us, but they would not know exactly what had happened to us.”

A week ago, however, a Malayalam weekly published her story.

“After that, my LLB classmates also came to know about my life. I was a bit anxious about how they would react when they met me at the enrollment venue. But everyone was very friendly, a few even appreciated me. I’ve never had a bitter experience even with people who had known my story all along. You know how happy the children of our home feel when their names are announced at programmes? When the name is openly declared? Nobody will kill us if we reveal our identities, even if we may face threats. We live in our Kerala, after all. The most important fact is that we survived the abuse and the trauma post that. We are still alive,” she asserts.

Her story

Rahanas’s family used to live in a village in Kannur, a northern district in the state. She has three siblings, two younger sisters and one younger brother. Her father Haris, a mic operator, was an alcoholic. Life was never a bed of roses for the children or their mother, as Haris would make the house a living hell every day in a drunken state after he came back from work.

“He was not interested in educating us. Instead, he sent me for work at pappad making units or textile shops and didn’t allow me to complete my ninth standard,” Rahanas says.

In 2008, Haris decided to expand his cruelty further. He, apart from 11 others, sexually abused Rahanas. It was Haris’s idea to make his daughter the target for the others. All the 12 accused, except one, have been convicted and housed in jail. Haris was sentenced for life and is housed at the Central Prison, Kannur. After the abuse, neither the mother nor the children knew what to do next.

How the crime came to light

It was the present Health Minister KK Shylaja, who was then the office bearer of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), who filed a police complaint. This resulted in bringing the heinous crime to light and led to the conviction of the accused. Hailing from Kannur, Shyjala has, till date, stood with the survivor and her family.

“Later, I came to know that one of the accused was a a distant relative of hers (Shylaja’s). Still she backed me. She got a hint of what had happened to me and she filed the complaint. Till now, she has been a huge support for me,” Rahanas says.

After the procedures of the case began, Rahanas was housed at the rehabilitation centre of the Mahila Samakhya Society. Over the years, it has become her home.

Her mother and siblings also later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram with Samakhya’s support. Living at the home, she resumed her studies.

“I had the wholehearted support of the Samakhya members. All the people there, each and every one of them, enabled me to walk through my hardships. After the abuse, at every phase in my life, I had a big question mark – what to do next? I needed the support of others to enter the next phase,” she recalls.

Rahanas studied in Thiruvananthapuram till Plus 2 and joined for the five year LLB course in a college in Kochi.

She was the topper of MG University for the eighth semester of the LLB programme. In the final results, she scored 67 percent.

“She is the first such example. She did it all without the support of the government. Joining LLB was her initiative only, she worked hard to continue her studies. Whatever support we extended would have failed if she had not been strong. It’s not easy to go through all this and still continue fighting,” says PE Usha, Mahila Samakhya Society state project director.

‘Most abuses happen at home’

Whenever Rahanas refers to the children housed at Samakhya, she says, ‘nammude kuttikal’ (our own children).

“Most of the children are abused at home only. In that sense, our own homes are the most unsafe places on earth. In such cases, chances are high that the crime is not reported. If the father is the accused, even the mother may have the tendency to hide it as they fear that the father would be convicted. If the father is giving his own daughter to others for sexual abuse, it won’t come under commercial trafficking and may hence not get reported much,” she says.

Rahanas adds, “It shouldn’t happen. All the cases should be reported. The kin, the mother (if father is the accused) and society should support the survivor. A solid support system can bring in a drastic change.”

Rahanas has no plans to start practicing as a lawyer immediately. She instead wishes to join the LLM course.

“But more than that, I would like to work for our children living at various rehabilitation homes. You know how sad I am when I see those innocent faces? How sad they would be when they see other children’s parents at school. Their childhood should be spent at their own homes, not at rehabilitation centres,” she notes.

While one of Rahanas’s sisters is married, another sister, her mother and brother live in Wayanad currently.

https://www.thenewsminute.com/article/fighting-back-meet-rahanas-child-sexual-abuse-survivor-and-now-proud-lawyer-81218

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Delhi Govt Declares War On Hospital That Only Make Profit While Patients Remain Admitted

After putting efforts in improving the condition of government schools in Delhi, CM Kejriwal led Delhi government had now decided to take on private hospitals and keep a check on heavy profit guzzled by these hospitals which eventually burn big holes in people’s pockets.

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Based on the expert panel ’s opinion and recommendations, Delhi government is likely to come out with a policy this week to cap profit margins of city hospitals on drugs and devices.

The nine member was formed in December last year to find the possibilities of capping the profit of hospitals to make healthcare in private hospitals a little affordable.

“We submitted the recommendations about two months ago and the new policy on capping of profit margin by hospitals should be out by this week,” a top official told PTI.

 

The decision in wake of Fortis dengue case

The decision had been taken after the news of Fortis hospital charging a parent Rs 18 lakh for the treatment of his daughter who later succumbed to dengue.  It was one of the several cases which got highlighted otherwise there have been several cases of autocratic charging by private hospitals on service provided by them which usually go unreported as these services don’t have set guidelines from the government including the capping on profit.

Pricing on drug and devices inflated

In the wake of Fortis case, the  National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) had found that the private hospital had charged as high as 1,700 per cent margin. Medicines and devices used for the treatment of the dengue patient.

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The Delhi government formed a panel as health minister Satyendra Jain had said that his ministry received several complaints related to overcharging,  rude behaviour, making a purchase of drugs mandatory from in-house pharmacy, delay in initiating medico-legal cases and not providing accident victims with  immediate aide and medical care.

Health

AFP

Jain had said his department had received several complaints related to overcharging, refusal or delay in providing immediate medical care to victims of crime or road accidents, or hospitals compelling patients to purchase drugs from in-house pharmacy, rude behaviour by healthcare workers and delay in initiating medico-legal cases.

Jain, in his December press conference, had said, “They will not be mere recommendations. The Delhi government will use them to come up with protocols related to medical services.”

https://www.indiatimes.com/news/india/delhi-govt-declares-war-on-hospital-that-only-make-profit-while-patients-remain-admitted-344887.html

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Mad Magazine’s clout may have faded, but its ethos matters more than ever before

Mad Magazine is still hanging on. In April, it launched a reboot, jokingly calling it its “first issue.”

But in terms of cultural resonance and mass popularity, it’s largely lost its clout.

At its apex in the early 1970s, Mad’s circulation surpassed 2 million. As of 2017, it was 140,000.

As strange as it sounds, I believe the “usual gang of idiots” that produced Mad was performing a vital public service, teaching American adolescents that they shouldn’t believe everything they read in their textbooks or saw on TV.

Mad preached subversion and unadulterated truth-telling when so-called objective journalism remained deferential to authority. While newscasters regularly parroted questionable government claims, Mad was calling politicians liars when they lied. Long before responsible organs of public opinion like The New York Times and the CBS Evening News discovered it, Mad told its readers all about the credibility gap. The periodical’s skeptical approach to advertisers and authority figures helped raise a less credulous and more critical generation in the 1960s and 1970s.

Today’s media environment differs considerably from the era in which Mad flourished. But it could be argued that consumers are dealing with many of the same issues, from devious advertising to mendacious propaganda.

While Mad’s satiric legacy endures, the question of whether its educational ethos – – its implicit media literacy efforts – remains part of our youth culture is less clear.

A merry-go-round of media panics

In my research on media, broadcasting and advertising history, I’ve noted the cyclical nature of media panics and media reform movements throughout American history.

The pattern goes something like this: A new medium gains popularity. Chagrined politicians and outraged citizens demand new restraints, claiming that opportunists are too easily able to exploit its persuasive power and dupe consumers, rendering their critical faculties useless. But the outrage is overblown. Eventually, audience members become more savvy and educated, rendering such criticism quaint and anachronistic.

During the penny press era of the 1830s, periodicals often fabricated sensational stories like the “Great Moon Hoax” to sell more copies. For a while, it worked, until accurate reporting became more valuable to readers.

During the ‘Great Moon Hoax,’ the New York Sun claimed to have discovered a colony of creatures on the moon.Wikimedia Commons

When radios became more prevalent in the 1930s, Orson Welles perpetrated a similar extraterrestrial hoax with his infamous “War of the Worlds” program. This broadcast didn’t actually cause widespread fear of an alien invasion among listeners, as some have claimed. But it did spark a national conversation about radio’s power and audience gullibility.

Aside from the penny newspapers and radio, we’ve witnessed moral panics about dime novels, muckraking magazines, telephones, comic books, television, the VCR, and now the internet. Just as Congress went after Orson Welles, we see Mark Zuckerberg testifying about Facebook’s facilitation of Russian bots.

Holding up a mirror to our gullibility

But there’s another theme in the country’s media history that’s often overlooked. In response to each new medium’s persuasive power, a healthy popular response ridiculing the rubes falling for the spectacle has arisen.

For example, in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” Mark Twain gave us the duke and the dauphin, two con artists traveling from town to town exploiting ignorance with ridiculous theatrical performances and fabricated tall tales.

They were proto-purveyors of fake news, and Twain, the former journalist, knew all about selling buncombe. His classic short story “Journalism in Tennessee” excoriates crackpot editors and the ridiculous fiction often published as fact in American newspapers.

Then there’s the great P.T. Barnum, who ripped people off in marvelously inventive ways.

“This way to the egress,” read a series of signs inside his famous museum. Ignorant customers, assuming the egress was some sort of exotic animal, soon found themselves passing through the exit door and locked out.

They might have felt ripped off, but, in fact, Barnum had done them a great – and intended – service. His museum made its customers more wary of hyperbole. It employed humor and irony to teach skepticism. Like Twain, Barnum held up a funhouse mirror to America’s emerging mass culture in order to make people reflect on the excesses of commercial communication.

‘Think for yourself. Question authority’

Mad Magazine embodies this same spirit. Begun originally as a horror comic, the periodical evolved into a satirical humor outlet that skewered Madison Avenue, hypocritical politicians and mindless consumption.

Teaching its adolescent readers that governments lie – and only suckers fall for hucksters – Mad implicitly and explicitly subverted the sunny optimism of the Eisenhower and Kennedy years. Its writers and artists poked fun at everyone and everything that claimed a monopoly on truth and virtue.

“The editorial mission statement has always been the same: ‘Everyone is lying to you, including magazines. Think for yourself. Question authority,’” according to longtime editor John Ficarra.

That was a subversive message, especially in an era when the profusion of advertising and Cold War propaganda infected everything in American culture. At a time when American television only relayed three networks and consolidation limited alternative media options, Mad’s message stood out.

Just as intellectuals Daniel BoorstinMarshall McLuhan and Guy Debordwere starting to level critiques against this media environment, Mad was doing the same – but in a way that was widely accessible, proudly idiotic and surprisingly sophisticated.

For example, the implicit existentialism hidden beneath the chaos in every “Spy v. Spy” panel spoke directly to the insanity of Cold War brinksmanship. Conceived and drawn by Cuban exile Antonio Prohías, “Spy v. Spy” featured two spies who, like the United States and the Soviet Union, both observed the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction. Each spy was pledged to no one ideology, but rather the complete obliteration of the other – and every plan ultimately backfired in their arms race to nowhere.

Mad skewered those who mindlessly supported the people who controlled the levers of power.JasperdoCC BY-NC-SA

The cartoon highlighted the irrationality of mindless hatred and senseless violence. In an essay on the plight of the Vietnam War soldier, literary critic Paul Fussell once wrote that U.S. soldiers were “condemned to sadistic lunacy” by the monotony of violence without end. So too the “Spy v. Spy” guys.

As the credibility gap widened from the Johnson to Nixon administrations, the logic of Mad‘s Cold War critique became more relevant. Circulation soared. Sociologist Todd Gitlin – who had been a leader of the Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s – credited Mad with serving an important educational function for his generation.

“In junior high and high school,” he wrote, “I devoured it.”

A step backward?

And yet that healthy skepticism seems to have evaporated in the ensuing decades. Both the run-up to the Iraq War and the acquiescence to the carnival-like coverage of our first reality TV star president seem to be evidence of a widespread failure of media literacy.

We’re still grappling with how to deal with the internet and the way it facilitates information overload, filter bubbles, propaganda and, yes, fake news.

But history has shown that while we can be stupid and credulous, we can also learn to identify irony, recognize hypocrisy and laugh at ourselves. And we’ll learn far more about employing our critical faculties when we’re disarmed by humor than when we’re lectured at by pedants. A direct thread skewering the gullibility of media consumers can be traced from Barnum to Twain to Mad to “South Park” to The Onion.

While Mad’s legacy lives on, today’s media environment is more polarized and diffuse. It also tends to be far more cynical and nihilistic. Mad humorously taught kids that adults hid truths from them, not that in a world of fake news, the very notion of truth was meaningless. Paradox informed the Mad ethos; at its best, Mad could be biting and gentle, humorous and tragic, and ruthless and endearing – all at the same time.

That’s the sensibility we’ve lost. And it’s why we need an outlet like Mad more than ever.

https://theconversation.com/mad-magazines-clout-may-have-faded-but-its-ethos-matters-more-than-ever-before-95708

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Hundreds Of Bombs Found In Backyard Of Arrested Trinamool Leader Arabul Islam’s home #WTFnews

Ahead of panchayat polls in West Bengal, the police found crude bombs at a former Trinamool lawmaker’s home in Bhangar

Hundreds Of Bombs Found In Backyard Of Arrested Trinamool Leader

In West Bengal’s Bhangar, bombs in buckets found in ex-TMC lawmaker’s backyard

BHANGAR, WEST BENGAL: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Hundreds of crude bombs were found behind TMC leader Arabul Islam‘s house
  2. Arabul held for the alleged murder of Independent candidate’s supporter
  3. BJP, CPM in West Bengal claim Arabul Islam’s arrest an “eyewash”

Hundreds of crude bombs were found behind the home of former Trinamool lawmaker Arabul Islam, at Bhangar, about 25 km from Kolkata. He was arrested on Friday, for the alleged murder of a supporter of an independent candidate.

Hafizul Mollah, was marching in a campaign rally when few people opened fire. He was shot in the face. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee had ordered Arabul’s arrest.

When the police were searching the area behind Arabul’s home, they stumbled upon a deep pit in the ground, where hundreds of bombs in buckets were found.

bhangar

Bombs were found in buckets and bags in a deep pit behind Arabul Islam’s house

Opponents are calling the whole saga an “eyewash”. “The Chief Minister, by getting Arabul arrested can now say, she has done her ‘rajdharma‘ but it is all an eyewash. He will be out in no time,” an eyewitness of the incident told NDTV.

The Bengal BJP chief, Dilip Ghosh repeated the “eyewash” charge. Left party CPM’s SK Mishra said, “Nothing happens without the blessings of the Chief Minister, including the attack on the independent candidate’s campaign rally at Bhangar.”

Arabul, a muscleman and moneybag, according to sources, has been in and out of trouble with Ms Banerjee. He was suspended in 2013, reportedly for six years, but was back in business within a year-and-a-half.
After he was presented in court on Saturday, the Trinamool strongman told the media he was not in Bhangar at the time of the attack. Arabul’s lawyer claimed he returned to the area only at 6 pm, hours after the incident.

There is tension in Bhangar on the eve of panchayat polls, after Friday’s incident. Bhangar has been the site of violent protests against land acquisition for a power grid station since January 2017. Some ultra-Left groups have reportedly fanned a people’s movement against the power grid.

Hafizul Molla (25) who was taking part in a rally taken out by the Jami Raksha Committee for their contesting candidates contesting in the panchayat elections was shot dead when the former TMC MLA and his followers allegedly opened fire and hurled bombs at them.

On Saturday the Jami Raksha Committee demanded the immediate arrest of Khude and Hakimul, the brother and the son of Arabul Islam, respectively, who the committee claims were directly involved in the incident.

A large police force raided the areas surrounding Arabul Islam’s Uttar Gazipur’s house since this morning. A large quantity of bombs and bomb-making material which were stored underground in a mango garden near his house was seized. A police source said hundreds of live bombs were recovered from the garden.

Tension gripped the area soon after the reports of the discovery of the bombs spread in the villages.

Arabul Islam, the former MLA of Bhangor and the outgoing sabhapati of the TMC-led Bhangor-II panchayat samiti, was arrested from last night at around 10-30 pm after locating his mobile phone’s tower.

Islam, when asked about the incident on Saturday when he was being sent for health check-up, claimed that he was not present at the place of the incident on Friday.

He said at the time the incident happened he had gone to a mosque for Namaz and after returning home at about 6-30 pm he was informed about the incident.

He added that neither he nor anyone of his party was present there at that time.

NDTV

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India -A remote U.P. village shines the torch on a lurking virus #SundayReading

 

Families at Pahuli village in U.P.’s Bijnor district say each house has a Hepatatis C patient and there is no help from the government.Families at Pahuli village in U.P.’s Bijnor district say each house has a Hepatatis C patient and there is no help from the government.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Pahuli in Bijnor district has emerged as a hotspot of hepatitis C infection and dozens of patients wait for a treatment policy to get costly drugs

In January 2016, 40-year-old Wardhan (name changed) was rushed to a private hospital near Pahuli village in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, to treat a ruptured appendix. While preparing him for surgery, doctors found him positive for the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), an infection that causes chronic liver disease.

The doctors advised him to get his family members tested, a desirable practice when a patient tests positive for HCV. Within a week, seven out of 10 adults in Wardhan’s family tested positive.

Hepatitis C affects the liver, and has the same mode of transmission as HIV, spreading through blood, injecting drugs, blood transfusion, sexual activity and from mother-to-child during pregnancy. Although data on HCV is weak, the central government estimates that about 1.2 crore people are positive for Hepatitis C in the country — six times the number of HIV/AIDS patients.

Policy awaited

There is no vaccine against the disease, and while it is curable, the Indian government is yet to announce the much-awaited Hepatitis C policy to advance treatment.

When this reporter visited Pahuli, tracking a community of some 200 families that are at the centre of a Hepatitis C hotspot in Uttar Pradesh, Wardhan’s emerged as one of the first families that were ‘out-of-closet’. He was diagnosed on January 10, 2016.

“Within days, my brother, father, uncle, wife cousins in extended family… every one was positive. We were so scared. Treatment seemed impossible, the entire family was affected, and our neighbours knew,” he says.

As Wardhan’s family tried to cope, Girdhari, his immediate neighbour, decided to get tested. “I was positive too,” he recalls.

On August 4, 2016, an unsettling mass diagnosis emerged, prompting Girdhari and a few men from Pahuli to visit Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Sukhbir Singh, since retired.

They informed the officials that most families had identical symptoms — bleeding easily and with wounds that did not easily clot, swelling in the legs and serious weight loss. Based on this, between 70% and 80% of families seemed to to be HCV positive. The same month, 100 samples from the village were collected in three batches and sent for testing. The results confirmed the villagers’ fears: 73 out of the 100 samples were positive. But the government did not give them the results.

“When they saw an overwhelming number, they refused to give us our medical records. No one has visited the village since August 2016,” says Girdhari.

The Hindu found that, as reports of HCV prevalence from rural India grew, the Health Ministry collected epidemiological data from villages like Pahuli. In March 2016, 5,00,000 samples were collected from HIV sentinel surveillance sites. While the study was completed in December 2016, no data has been published in the public domain.

Dr. R.R. Gangakhedkar, Head, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said, “Now that the programme [national policy] has been approved, the data is being analysed thoroughly. The data should become available in the next few weeks according to NACO. Since the analysis is in the final phase, we are unable to have access to the findings.” Queries on the decision to not publish the epidemiological data sent to the Health Ministry and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the implementation agency for the HCV policy, were not answered.

Lack of transparency

Public health experts maintain that lack of transparency in sharing epidemiological data could lead to spread of the disease. “Medical ethics dictate that data collected from a community must be transparently available to those people. Governments have to trust the community to stop the spread of the disease. In the two years that the hepatitis data was kept a secret, more people in that community donated blood, engaged in high risk behaviour and spread the disease,” said Dr. Amit Sengupta, convener of the India chapter of People’s Health Movement.

The World Health Organisation said in a statement that it had not received the full findings, even though it had funded the study. “The complete findings have not been shared with WHO, neither in a meeting nor in a report. We understand that the report is being finalised by the government and we are looking forward to the results of the study,” a WHO representative said in a written statement to The Hindu.

A senior official in the Health Ministry said on condition of anonymity: “The numbers were so much more than what we expected. It was felt that the study’s findings could not be made public without a solution. So, we quickly moved to finalise the National Hepatitis Policy.”

The ICMR said the data was not put in the public domain as “it took a while to finalise the contours of the national program.”

On the hepatitis policy, Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda announced on July 28, 2017, that the government would come up with a National Action Plan by December 2017 and roll it out by April 2018.

Affecting treatment

The absence of reliable data is affecting the push for wider treatment access. The ‘largest study’ on HCV in India was done between 2008 and 2014 with 777 patients. The study, published in 2015 at the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) under the U.S. National Library of Medicine noted that, “data on prevalence of HCV infection in India is scanty and the only sources are a few screening studies done on blood donors and pregnant women, and a few community-based studies.” Based on available data, WHO estimates that approximately 12 million Indians suffer from HCV, compared to the prevalence in the US of 2–4 million and in Europe of 5–10 million.

For those like Wardhan who are positive, the treatment currently available is unsound. After the diagnosis in Pahuli, when government officials disappeared, medical representatives made an appearance, said Niri Devi, another patient. The people are left with two options: go to the village quack or jholachaap, who can manage only smaller ailments or take remedies offered by pharmaceutical companies.

Medical representatives (MR) come to the village on a referral system. Families like Wardhan’s, which can pay, pass on the contacts of these representatives to newly-diagnosed patients. Ajay John, a representative who visits the village every three weeks says, “Almost every day I get a call from a patient.” I refer them to a doctor in Bijnor or Meerut, who writes them a prescription for Sofosbuvir, a drug that has revolutionised treatment for HCV.

High costs

On March 23, 2018, the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers said in Parliament that six pharmaceutical companies had applied for price approval of Sofosbuvir 400 mg and Velpatasvir – 100 mg tablets and simultaneously launched their formulation without prior price approval from the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA).

The NPPA had fixed the retail price of Sofosbuvir tablets at ₹ 15,625 (excluding GST) for a course, or an MRP of ₹17500 for the six companies. Of these, five companies had launched their formulation at an MRP of ₹18500 for 28 tablets. NPPA issued show cause notices to all the five and three had deposited the overcharged amount along with interest.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/a-remote-up-village-shines-the-torch-on-a-lurking-virus/article23867236.ece

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Remembering J. Dey, the slain investigative journalist

 

Remembering J. Dey, the slain investigative journalist

MORE-IN

On that horror-filled afternoon, killers-for-hire hunted down and killed my husband, while I waited with two plates of lunch

Seven years is a long time, but not long enough for you to come to terms with a bizarre reality. Why is that gentle, smiling face splashed all over the papers and television? How can it be that he, who wrote the investigations and exposés, is the subject of casual discussions in newsrooms and drawing rooms across the country? Wasn’t it just yesterday when we were laughing together, sharing a meal, and taking long, leisurely walks?

Is this the man I knew and loved for more than a decade? And why is he not here with me now? Are you saying he won’t ever be?

But I must collect myself. Once more, I must pick myself up from the wreckage and walk. I must bury the pain that tears through my being.

On June 11, 2011, a few gunshots fired just a street away from our home, left me numb. On that horror-filled afternoon, killers-for-hire hunted down and killed my husband, while I waited with two plates of lunch. In the days and months that followed, the world expected me to react, but something in me would not move. I had shut down.

 

For months, I would walk the streets believing I was being followed. I would be afraid to talk about him or our life, not knowing who could be trusted. Panic attacks, nightmares, crying spells and always, that sharp pain in my gut when reality hit: these were my new normal. I was living through what psychologists term post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the meantime, as it all unravelled, my wounds were scoured over and over again. Media ‘reports’ that came out in the wake of the murder speculated on our life together, the choices he made. Passed off conjecture and rumour as news. Aimed to titillate. In addition to the gut-wrenching pain of loss that I couldn’t explain to anyone, I had to process the betrayal from my fraternity. In response to one such article, I wrote to the author: “I’m not asking for sympathy. I just want to leave you with one thought: what if this had happened to one of your own? Someone you knew intimately? Isn’t J. Dey part of that family? Am I not?”

I wrote to him about my endless search for an answer to the question that rings in my head: “Why would anyone do this to me twice over?” I never heard back from the writer.

But this, as I discovered, was the beginning of ‘the watch’. I was told I couldn’t dress the way I did. I was asked in open court about my personal life. Others would tell me, barely weeks later, it was time I moved on.

Always under scrutiny

For an intensely private person like me, to be thrust into the public eye like this was hell. I sometimes tell myself he had it far easier. He was known and respected only for the work he did, but his personal life stayed behind an impregnable wall. But for me, it felt like every act, every word, every move was suddenly under scrutiny. Where I go, who I meet, what I say, and oh, have I found another partner yet? Really, who can fill those big shoes? (It took me a while in our time together to reconcile to the fact that someone could wear size 11 shoes).

On the outside, I would talk, laugh and go through the motions. But the slightest mention of him, his work or the case, would open multiple wounds and I would take days to recover. I had nowhere to hide. My sanctuary was gone.

I did not choose his death, much less the way he died. We had planned to travel, to grow old together. But I was thrown into a void I could not and still cannot fathom. It has taken me seven years to learn how to take comfort in the routine I once knew and treasured. To learn again how to get up every morning, dress up, go to work, earn a living, cook, clean. To learn again how to talk, laugh, take joy in music, find calm in meditation, to trust.

A lot of people wonder why I have stayed silent for so long, even now, when a court has ruled on his murderers.

In a vaccuum

I have to say this for the many, many people who care about him: I am still struggling to fill the vacuum, and I hope you understand my silence. Every day, I deal with an avalanche of emotions; every day, I remember our little moments together; every day, I talk to him. And when I cry, the pain feels bottomless. I am not strong enough to take questions from journalists yet. I am not strong enough to talk about my life, his murder, the investigations and court proceedings.

My way of protecting myself from reopening those wounds may be imperfect, but it is the only way I know.

The recent judgement presents some measure of closure. My faith in the judiciary has been restored, and it is a relief that those directly responsible for my husband’s gruesome murder have been brought to book.

It has been a long and trying journey, but the verdict has opened the door to hope for many like me. Has he been served full justice? I do not know, and perhaps never will. Have I been served full justice? The question of pursuing anything more does not arise; for one, nothing can bring my husband back. I am grateful to those who have persevered to keep the case in the public eye and ensure that the perpetrators were convicted. I am equally grateful to those who keep his memory alive, who respect him for his work, for the man he was, and who understand what it means to me.

He took bullets

I thank those who stood by me. I thank those who respected my need to grieve, those who allowed me to break down without getting embarrassed. I thank those who honestly admitted that they had no words to comfort me. I especially thank those who understood my need for privacy, who accepted me as one of their own, and helped me believe that I could have friends, live a normal life again.

There are parts of his story, our story, which I know intimately. And there is so much more I still learn about him each day that my respect for him only grows. It is not just me; my family and everyone who knew him feel blessed to have lived with a man with impeccable values, humanity and courage, someone who took bullets to write a story and could not be bought. I don’t know how many people in this world would risk that. Or go about it as quietly, as dispassionately.

Even today, I ask myself, for the smallest of things: how would J have resolved this?

The greatest challenge has been to live with the awful realisation that my teacher and companion will never come back, and that my life will never be the same again. To all those who care, I will say just this: I am trying my best to carry on, holding fragments of me together.

My silence does not mean it is a story I have forgotten or that I ever will, can, or want to forget.

http://www.thehindu.com/society/remembering-j-dey/article23854721.ece

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Landmark for women rights – SC okays compensation scheme for sexual assault, acid attack victims

 

SC approves NALSA’s Women Victim Compensation Scheme, 2018.A victim of gangrape in any part of the country could now get a minimum compensation of Rs five lakh up to a maximum of Rs 10 lakh.

It opens a new era by bringing uniformity in Victim Compensation benefits available for Women in India.
SC approves NALSA Women VCS, 2018
In a historic decision Apex Court Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Guptafinally approved the NALSA’s  Compensation Scheme for women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes, 2018. It opens a new era by bringing uniformity in Victim Compensation benefits available for Women in India.
At present, different state governments grant varying amounts to rape survivors ranging from minimum Rs 10,000 in Odisha to Rs 10 lakh in Goa. Maharashtra is the only state which has not framed rules. As the amount of compensation varies in different states, there was a dire need to bring uniformity in the same.
Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had in W.P. (C) No. 565/2012 titled Nipun Saxena Vs. Union of India observed that “it would be appropriate if NALSA sets up a Committee of about 4 or 5 persons who can prepare Model Rules for Victim Compensation for sexual offences and acid attacks taking into account the submissions made by the learned Amicus. The learned Amicus as well as the learned Solicitor General have offered to assist the Committee as and when required. The Chairperson or the nominee of the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women should be associated with the Committee.”
Thereafter NALSA constituted a High Powered Committee consisting of:
Ms. Pinky Anand, Additional Solicitor GeneralShri Rakesh Srivastava Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of IndiaShri T.V.S. N. Prasad Additional Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of IndiaMs. Indira Jaising, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of IndiaShri Alok Agarwal, Member Secretary, NALSAShri Surinder S. Rathi, Director, NALSAMs. Anju Rathi Rana, Joint Secretary, Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, Govt. of IndiaShri K.L. Sharma, Joint Secretary National Commission for WomenMs. Bharti Ali, Co-Director, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights
The Committee held rounds of meetings and it was decided to prepare a separate “Chapter” or a “Sub-Scheme” within the existing Victim Compensation Scheme for victims of sexual assault.
The Committee drafted the Victims Compensation Scheme and invited suggestions/comments from various stakeholders on the draft.  Taking into consideration the suggestions/comments, the Committee has finalized theCompensation Scheme for women Victims/Survivors of Sexual Assault/other Crimes and submitted the same before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India on 24/04/2018.
After hearing Ld. Amicus Curiae in the case Ms. Indira Jaising, Sr. Advocate and Sh. Surinder S Rathi, Director, NALSA the Apex Court adopted the Draft Scheme and directed Min. of Women and Child Devlopment, GOI to send a copy of the Scheme to States and UTs for adoption at their end.
Bench clarified that the Scheme signifies the minimum rate of Compensation States and UTs shall provide to Women Victims of Crime. However if the States and UTs wish to pay and provide more, they are free to do more.
Salient features of the NALSA’s Scheme-
WOMEN VICTIMS COMPENSATION FUND-
There shall be a Fund, namely, the Women Victims Compensation Fund from which the amount of compensation, as decided by the State Legal Services Authority or District Legal Services Authority, shall be paid to the women victim or her dependent(s) who have suffered loss or injury as a result of an offence and who require rehabilitation.
PROCEDURE TO AVAIL COMPENSATION-
Mandatory Reporting of FIRs: – SHO/SP/DCP shall mandatorily share soft/hard copy of FIR immediately after its registration with State Legal Services Authority/District Legal Services Authority qua commission of offences covered in this Scheme which include Sections 326A, 354A to 354D, 376A to 376E, 304B, 498A (in case of physical injury covered in this Schedule), so that the SLSA/DLSA can, in deserving cases, may suo-moto initiate preliminary verification of facts for the purpose of grant of interim compensation.
An application for the award of interim/ final compensation can be filed by the Victim and/or her Dependents or the SHO of the area before concerned SLSA or DLSA. It shall be submitted in Form ‘I’ along with a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) or criminal complaint of which cognizance is taken by the Court and if available Medical Report, Death Certificate, wherever applicable, copy of judgment/ recommendation of court if the trial is over.
FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED WHILE AWARDING COMPENSATION –
While deciding a matter, the State Legal Services Authority/District Legal Services Authority may take into consideration the following factors relating to the loss or injury suffered by the victim:
(1)  Gravity of the offence and severity of mental or physical harm or injury suffered by the victim;
(2)  Expenditure incurred or likely to be incurred on the medical treatment for physical and/or mental health including counselling of the victim, funeral, travelling during investigation/ inquiry/ trial (other than diet money);
(3) Loss of educational opportunity as a consequence of the offence, including absence from school/college due to mental trauma, bodily injury, medical treatment, investigation and trial of the offence, or any other reason;
(4) Loss of employment as a result of the offence, including absence from place of employment due to mental trauma, bodily injury, medical treatment, investigation and trial of the offence, or any other reason;
(5) The relationship of the victim to the offender, if any;
(6)  Whether the abuse was a single isolated incidence or whether the abuse took place over a period of time;
(7)  Whether victim became pregnant as a result of the offence, whether she had to undergo Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP)/ give birth to a child, including rehabilitation needs of such child;
(8)  Whether the victim contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD) as a result of the offence;
(9)  Whether the victim contracted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as a result of the offence;
(10)  Any disability suffered by the victim as a result of the offence;
(11)  Financial condition of the victim against whom the offence has been committed so as to determine her need for rehabilitation and re-integration needs of the victim.
(12)  In case of death, the age of deceased, her monthly income, number of dependents, life expectancy, future promotional/growth prospects etc.
(13)  Or any other factor which the SLSA/DLSA may consider just and sufficient.
INTERIM RELIEF TO THE VICTIM—
The State Legal Services Authority or District Legal Services Authority, as the case may be, may order for immediate first-aid facility or medical benefits to be made available free of cost or any other interim relief (including interim monetary compensation) as deemed appropriate, to alleviate the suffering of the victim on the certificate of a police officer, not below the rank of the officer-in-charge of the police station, or a Magistrate of the area concerned or on the application of the victim/ dependents or suo moto.
INSTANT COMPENSATION-
Provided that as soon as the application for compensation is received by the SLSA/DLSA, a sum of Rs.5000/- or as the case warrants up to Rs. 10,000/- shall be immediately disbursed to the victim through preloaded cash card from a Nationalised Bank by the Secretary, DLSA or Member Secretary, SLSA.
Provided that the, interim relief so granted shall not be less than 25 per cent of the maximum compensation awardable as per schedule applicable to this Chapter, which shall be paid to the victim in totality.
SCHEDULE APPLICABLE TO WOMEN VICTIM OF CRIMES
S. No.Particulars of loss or injuryMinimum Limit of CompensationUpper Limit of compensation1Loss of LifeRs. 5 LakhRs. 10 Lakh
2Gang RapeRs. 5 Lakh
Rs. 10 Lakh3RapeRs. 4 Lakh
Rs. 7 Lakh
4Unnatural Sexual AssaultRs. 4 Lakh
Rs. 7 Lakh
5Loss of any Limb or part of body resulting in 80% permanent disability or above
Rs. 2 Lakh
Rs. 5 Lakh
6Loss of any Limb or part of body resulting in 40% and below 80% permanent disabilityRs. 2 Lakh
Rs. 4 Lakh
7Loss of any limb or part of body resulting in above 20% and below 40% permanent disabilityRs. 1 Lakh
Rs. 3  Lakh
8Loss of any limb or part of body resulting in below 20% permanent disabilityRs. 1 Lakh
Rs. 2 Lakh
9Grievous physical injury or any mental injury requiring rehabilitationRs. 1 Lakh
Rs. 2 Lakh
10Loss of Foetus i.e. Miscarriage as a result of Assault or loss of fertility.
Rs. 2 Lakh
Rs. 3 Lakh
11In case of pregnancy on account of rape.Rs.3 LakhRs.4 Lakh12Victims of Burning:a.In case of disfigurement of caseRs. 7 LakhRs. 8 Lakhb.In case of more than 50%Rs. 5 Lakh
Rs. 8 Lakh
c.In case of injury less than 50%Rs. 3 Lakh
Rs. 7 Lakh
d.In case of less than 20%Rs. 2 Lakh
Rs. 3 Lakh
13Victims of Acid Attack-a.In case of disfigurement of face.Rs. 7 LakhRs. 8 Lakhb.In case of injury more than 50%.Rs. 5 LakhRs. 8 Lakhc.In case of injury less than 50%.Rs. 3 Lakh
Rs. 5 Lakh
d.In case of injury less than 20%Rs. 3 LakhRs. 4 Lakh
Note: If a woman victim of sexual assault/acid attack is covered under one or more category of the schedule, she shall be entitled to be considered for combined value of the compensation.

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