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Archives for : August2018

United Phosphorus loses 22-year-old defamation case against Sanctuary Asia

The magazine had reported on how UPL’s chemcial and pesticide units were worsening pollution scenario in Vapi

In July 1995, an article was written on dangerous level of pollution in Vapi, a chemical hub in Gujarat. Credit: Sayantan Bera

In a major victory for environment and those who safeguard it, United Phosphorous Ltd. (UPL), one of India’s largest agro-chemical and pesticide manufacturers lost a 22-year-old defamation case it had filed against journalists of Sanctuary Asia for reporting on the environmental damage caused by its chemicals and pesticides units in Gujarat’s Vapi industrial area and the consequent adverse impact on the once-pure Daman Ganga river. The article was commissioned by Sanctuary Features (then Divisions of Advertising Concessionaires Pvt Ltd) and published by Newstime, Hyderabad.

On August 4, 2018, the Mumbai Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court acquitted Ramoji Rao, editor and media entrepreneur, Shailendra Yashwant, independent photojournalist, and Bittu Sahgal, editor, Sanctuary Asia of all charges in a defamation suit filed against them in May 1996.

In July 1995, Yashwant wrote an article on dangerous level of pollution in Vapi, a chemical hub in Gujarat. The report highlighted how discharge of untreated toxic effluents through unauthorised and illegal outlets was polluting the Damanganga River. The report highlighted the importation of a second-hand chlor-alkali plant from Norway by UPL that had been closed because it was considered an environmental liability by the exporting country.

After more than a two-decade-old legal battle, the court finally dismissed the case, exonerating and acquitting the three journalists of all charges. Metropolitan Magistrate K G Paldewar went on to laud the journalists and their Senior Advocate Raj Panjwani for their dedication, determination and meticulous work in demonstrating the impacts of pollution in the public interest. He made special mention of the fact that there were clear Supreme Court orders prohibiting activities that led to hazardous waste pollution of the kind central to the article in question.

In a related case, the Umbergaon Judicial Magistrate, in December 2014, had also acquitted Shailendra Yashwant of all charges of criminal intimidation in another case filed against him in 2002 by Jai Research Foundation, the research wing of UPL.

Expressing the fullest faith in the judiciary, Bittu Sahgal said: “We welcome the judgment, which underscores both the freedom of the press and the urgent need to arrest the manner in which India’s air, water and soils are being rendered unfit for health, and, often, at the cost of lives. This is not a ‘victory’ for three journalists, but for future generations of Indians who must be handed a functional planet to support themselves.”

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8 years and Rs 228 crore later, Maharashtra fails to make even one village sustainable

The state’s scheme, aimed at creating environmentally sustainable villages, saw only up to 6% funds being used for green projects

Village life

The scheme was aimed at making villages with a population of 5,000 or more sustainable. Credit: Agnimirh Basu The scheme was aimed at making villages with a population of 5,000 or more sustainable. Credit: Agnimirh Basu

Launched with much fanfare in August 2010 and with a promise to certify villages as ‘environmentally sustainable’, Maharashtra government’s Paryavaran Santulit Samruddha Gram Yojana has not had one success yet. Despite zilla parishads receiving Rs 228 crore as incentives in the scheme’s first 5 years, not one village has been declared sustainable yet, says an audit conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

“The zilla had received a total of Rs 227.77 crore as incentive grants during 2010-15. The details of expenditure incurred by the gram panchayats under the scheme was not consolidated in any of the three levels, viz block, ZP and state. Due to this, the audit could not ascertain the utilisation of the incentive grants released under the scheme,” says the audit report recently submitted to the state legislative assembly.

The scheme was aimed at making villages with a population of 5,000 or more sustainable with practices like solid waste segregation and laying sewage networks. The population size of the villages was chosen considering they would become small towns in the future.

The CAG audit, which assessed the scheme’s performance between 2010 and 2015, says, “The planning for the scheme of eco-friendly villages for sustainable development was deficient. No parameters were defined for eco-village due to which not a single village could be declared as eco-village and no village was developed as a growth centre.”

The audit report points out that the scheme in fact has not put in place any mechanism to roll out and to monitor its progress. “The monitoring and evaluation of the department was weak. No annual evaluation of the scheme could be conducted as no state-level unit for monitoring was established,” says the audit report.

A major component of the sustainable village development plan was to draw eco-friendly development plans in consultation with local communities. These plans invariably focused on laying a sewage network, storm water drains, rainwater harvesting, harnessing renewable energy and conservation and protection of existing assets such as beaches. The auditors found that village panchayats covered under the scheme didn’t prioritise environmental works. Instead, 38 per cent of the works were related to roads. Only 2 to 6 per cent of the works undertaken were related to environmental works. Most of the village panchayats had, in fact, not even made their environmental development plans as mandatory under the scheme. Whatever little bit works related to sewage and waste generation started couldn’t be finished due to paucity of funds.

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/8-years-and-rs-228-crore-later-maharashtra-fails-to-make-even-one-village-sustainable-61358

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Mapping Unpaid Women’s Work Is India’s Answer to Jobs Puzzle

  • Time-use survey to give breakdown of paid and unpaid work
  • To assess contribution of women in social, economic activities
A woman carries dried wood on her head past a villager using a manual water pump in Nandurbar district, Maharashtra, India, on Jan. 18, 2017.

Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

India is trying to improve its jobs statistics with time-use surveys to estimate the value of unpaid work, especially household chores by women.

The government plans to start a yearlong exercise in January to survey households on how they spend their time, Debi Prasad Mondal, director general of the National Sample Survey Office, said in an interview in New Delhi. Its findings will be released around June 2020 and the plan is to repeat it every three years.

“We will be able to understand how much time is spent in cooking and washing,” Mondal said July 26. The findings would give policy makers more information about employment in the economy and how to target welfare programs.

The world’s fastest-growing major economy has some huge data gaps that make it difficult to get a good reading on what’s happening in key sectors, such as the jobs market, retail and housing. About 700 million Indians, more than twice the population of the U.S., aren’t part of the workforce and their contribution at home isn’t recorded in the national income.

More Work, No Pay

Women spend more time on unpaid work than men

Image result for More Work, No Pay bloomberg

Source: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

#Minutes spent on unpaid work in a day

Women at Work

Globally, women work more than men. They perform around 75 percent of the world’s unpaid care and domestic work, valued at 13 percent of global gross domestic product. If included in national accounts, the unpaid care economy would represent between 15 to over 50 percent of gross domestic product, according to a United Nations report.

The contrast is starker in India where a large number of women never join the workforce or quit jobs to take care of children and the elderly at home. Women make up 49 percent of the 1.3 billion-strong nation and spent about 352 minutes a day on unpaid work against 51.8 minutes by men.

India’s GDP can grow by 27 percent if women’s participation in the economy is raised to same level as those of men, according to a research by the International Monetary Fund. The rate of women’s presence in the labor force is declining even as nearly 43 percent of them earn more than or equal to their spouses, the finance ministry’s Economic Survey showed.

“India’s labor and employment surveys broadly capture the work done by men. Many women are not in employment so we don’t get much details about them,” said Mondal.

A breakdown of how women spend time can help design policies that make their lives easier and bring electoral gains for governments. A case in point is Modi’s program to provide cooking gas in rural India to help women save time spent in collecting firewood. A time-use survey will show how women are using this spare time.

Policy Implications

The data can help policy makers draw inference for employment and welfare programs, particularly for women and children, and generate more reliable estimates of work force and national income. The survey can be used to assess the reasons for shifts in labor participation rates and effects of policy changes on pattern of activities, government think-tank NITI Aayog said in a report last year.

The challenge for the government will be to put the data to use and address issues such as gender equality, women empowerment and unemployment. India first conducted pilots on time-use in six states in 1998, but didn’t follow it up with full-fledged surveys in last 20 years.

“We didn’t do time-use survey earlier because the need of the country was different. Mostly developed countries have this because people are more concerned about employment.,” Mondal said of the national survey that will include India’s 150,000 households.

bloomberg

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Terrorists’ social media groups seeking Aadhaar numbers of potential recruits

Administrators manning the social media groups of terrorist outfits such as Lashkar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are asking for the Aadhaar numbers of those who are seeking entry into their WhatsApp and Telegram groups.

Independent security experts and government officials, who keep an eye on thousands of groups that are actively used by the terrorists to coordinate with their followers and spread propaganda, especially in the Kashmir valley, told The Sunday Guardian that of late those who are not able to furnish Aadhaar numbers are not being allowed access into the group. Those who are already in the group but are unable to share their Aadhaar details are being removed from the group.

A “hacker”, who has been working independently with multiple government agencies, said that when he recently tried to join a WhatsApp group of Jaish-e-Mohammad sympathisers, he was asked by the administrator to submit his Aadhaar details. When the “hacker” submitted a false Aadhaar number, the administrator called his bluff and denied him entry, saying that the Aadhaar details that he had given belonged to someone else.

This has raised the question on whether, or not, the terror groups have somehow been able to access some sort of an Aadhaar database from where they are able to verify the details.

Technical experts this newspaper talked to, have found that the terror groups are now shifting to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), which is known for enhanced security features and “industry grade” encryption.

The terror groups and their sympathisers administer hundreds of groups on popular messaging apps such as Telegram and WhatsApp. Earlier, anyone who could “locate” these groups could join them but now these groups have increased their “security” to keep spies and government officials out.

In recent months, especially after Pakistan was put on the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for failing to control the activities of the terror groups, many of these online groups were “shut down” to avoid detection by foreign agencies.

Last year, as part of its investigation in the terror groups active in Kashmir, the National Investigation Agency identified more than 50 such WhatsApp groups that were being used by terrorist outfits, separatists and stone-pelters to coordinate their “activities” in Jammu and Kashmir.

Terrorists’ social media groups seeking Aadhaar numbers of potential recruits

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Mumbai-  70-yr love affair with BEST

A 70-yr love affair with BEST
Jennifer Mirza

Citizens fighting to save BEST, whose services were municipalised on August 7, 1947, celebrated ‘BEST Day’ on Tuesday and released a revival plan

I have been using the BEST service for almost 70 years now, and I hope to do so for at least a few more years. Which is why I am so concerned about the crisis that the operator is facing. I hope it will be resolved so that many more Mumbaikars can use this inexpensive and convenient mode of travel.

I loved BEST tram rides so much that my grandfather, who came to live with us after he retired from the forest department, made it a point to take me and my brother, David, for a tram ride on the weekends, when he went to visit his son who lived in Dadar (close to Dadar TT, which stood for Dadar Tram Terminus), or for a special treat to Byculla Zoo.

The tram ride on the Independence Day and Republic Day was particularly special. After an early dinner, we would board the tram and go all the way to VT and then to the museum, to see the all the buildings illuminated for the occasion. My nana was a fun person. At a stop, he would spot a gentleman at the window of a tram that had halted on the tracks parallel to us. In a trice, he would poke his walking stick out the window and deftly flick off the guy’s Gandhi topi (which lots of gents proudly donned in those early post-Independence years) and grab it with his other hand. When the startled man demanded to know what he was up to, he would wink and say, “Just amusing my grandchildren. Don’t worry, I’ll return your cap at the next stop. And believe it or not, he got away with this antic ever so often.

When BEST decided in the mid-1960s to end the tram service, our family regularly took the last tram from Dadar to VT. We later shifted to Bombay Central and travelled to school in a bus until we were old enough to walk. During summer holidays, my friend Selda, who lived down the road, and I had to attend music theory classes in Colaba. I was about 12 years old and approached my father with a small request. Could we take his car and get dropped off at Tardeo Circle and then take the C route bus all the way to Colaba along the beautiful Marine Drive? He asked us what would we would if the car wasn’t there. I told him we would have to take a bus to VT and from there, take another one to Colaba. My dad said: “Wow! One music class and two bus rides. That’s what you should do.” And that’s what we did do.

While studying in St Xavier’s College, I used to take a bus that was jokingly referred to as “the hospital route” as it carried people within a walking distance of many hospitals before terminating at Ballard Estate. When I started working in advertising, my husband Saeed, who was my friend then, would wait in town till 8 pm to avoid the serpentine queues at most bus stops during the evening rush hour.

We would hang out at Samovar Café and take the last No 70 bus from Meriwether Road behind Colaba Causeway. We soon noticed that there was another “regular” couple on this bus. An elderly Sindhi gentleman with his more than ample wife. They didn’t fit on one seat, so they sat opposite each other behind the driver’s cabin. We started greeting them when we boarded the bus and waved goodbye when we got off. Bus No 70 stopped right in front of my house on Nair Road and just down the street from Saeed’s house at Sitladevi Temple Road in Mahim. The elderly couple carried on in the bus past Saeed’s stop.

We got married in 1969 and moved to Delhi. When we returned to Mumbai with our two sons Safdar and Zahir, then aged 3 and 2, we decided one day to take them into town. We sat bus No 70 and got off at Kala Ghoda. After a walk around the art galleries, we entered our old haunt, Samovar Café. The staff was delighted to see us old customers and even happier to meet our kids. So Saeed got an idea and said: “Let’s take the last bus home, like we used to do.” And we did.

When we boarded the bus, our eyes went straight towards the front seat. The old gentleman was there but his wife was not. There were still a few minutes before the bus took off, so we walked up to him and said salaam. He was surprised and delighted to see us. When we asked about his wife, his eyes welled up and he said softly: “Your story has a happy ending, but not mine. I lost my life partner last year and I will always miss her.” He got up and put his hands on the heads of our sons and blessed them with a silent prayer. Memories are made of this.

When I returned to Mumbai in 1973, I resumed my regular travel by BEST bus. I took a bus from Churchgate to my office in Nariman Point if I was running late. On weekends, we took our kids from our home in Bombay Central to my in-laws’ residence in Mahim — on that same No 70 bus. We also took a bus to the zoo, the aquarium on Marine Drive, and museums and art galleries in town. Our young children became adept at travelling by bus and started going out on their own, to spend the day with my brother in a port trust housing colony behind Colaba bus station. Of course, the city was a saner and safer place for kids in the 1970s and 1980s.

We moved to Bandra in 1990. And as a suburbanite, BEST becomes our lifeline. Unless you are unwell and cannot manage to use public transport, it’s pointless to use your car. There are traffic snarl-ups throughout the day and finding a parking spot has become a nightmare too. As a retired person with no deadlines to meet, I think it makes more sense to take a bus to travel in the suburbs. I’m not the only one. I have a group of friends in Bandra who do the same.

I am considered an oddity by the security staff in my building. Ever so often, they open the gate to let me out and watch me walk towards the main road, from where I catch a bus. A short while later, they open the gate again, so that my chauffeur can drive out — with the woman who cooks for us. She has a problem with her feet, so my chauffeur drivers her to her next job every day.

I am sharing my experiences to drive home the point that public transport makes more sense, if you are reasonably healthy. It’s quicker, cheaper and, more importantly, good for the environment.

The writer is an activist, a former film and TV researcher, and an ardent BEST lover

https://mumbaimirror.indiatimes.com/opinion/columnists/by-invitation/a-70-yr-love-affair-with-best/articleshow/65315315.cms

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India – 1.2 million schemes meant to supply drinking water to all couldn’t do it #WTFnews

The latest CAG report says the country might not meet the SDG goal as well with its current schemes

The increase in drinking water coverage has not been encouraging. Credit: Sayantan Bera

The increase in drinking water coverage has not been encouraging. Credit: Sayantan Bera The increase in drinking water coverage has not been encouraging. Credit: Sayantan Bera

India has again failed to keep its promise of giving access to drinking water to all rural habitations, government schools and anganwadis, says the latest Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) audit of India’s nodal drinking water scheme. The audit covered the performance of the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) for 2012-2017 (till December).

The NRDWP was supposed to do this by 2017. Besides, 50 per cent of rural population had to be given potable drinking water by piped water supply at the rate of 55 litres per capita per day (lpcd) and 35 per cent of rural households were to be provided with water connections at homes.

In the five years under audit, the Union and state governments budgeted Rs 89,956 crore or close to Rs 900 billion for about 1.2 million schemes. The CAG audit finds that coverage of rural habitations increased by only 8 per cent at 40 lpcd and 5.5 per cent on the basis of 55 lpcd during 2012-17. Instead of 100 per cent coverage as planned, “44 per cent of rural habitations and 85 per cent of government schools and anganwadis provided access to safe drinking water”. Similarly, instead of the 50 per cent target, only 18 per cent of rural population was provided potable drinking water through pipes and only 17 per cent of rural households were given household connections.

The increase in drinking water coverage has not been encouraging either. “While the percentage of fully covered rural habitations to the total habitations with 40 lpcd increased from 69 (2013) to 77 per cent (2017), the coverage increased from 39 per cent in April 2013 to 44 per cent in April 2017 based on the norms of 55 lpcd,” says the audit report. “Either way, the target of coverage of 100 per cent of rural habitations by 2017 remained unachieved.”

Starting from implementation of the schemes to the institutional mechanism erected to implement those, the audit report finds disturbing failures. “Poor execution of works and weak contract management resulted in works remaining incomplete, abandoned or nonoperational as well as unproductive expenditure on equipment with a financial implication of Rs. 2,212.44 crore.”

Under the programme, every village has to have a water security plan besides similar plans at district and state levels to not only target the programme effectively but also involve local communities for sustainable management of structures created. But 21 states have not prepared such plans showing a fundamental failure in implementation of the scheme.

The National Drinking Water and Sanitation Council (NDWSC), set up in 2010, that is supposed to be the nodal body to coordinate the scheme between the Union ministries and the state governments for speedy implementation. The CAG audit calls it “dormant”. Except for twice before 2012, NDWSC has never met during the five years under audit. “As a result, a co-ordinated and convergent approach with other stakeholders was missing in the planning and implementation of the Programme,” says CAG.

Now, CAG says given this state of implementation, India might not meet the Sustainable Development Goals on drinking water coverage by 2030. “Audit noted that while NRDWP may not be the sole effort required to achieve the SDG, it was nevertheless an important measure towards that end and shortfalls and deficiencies in its implementation including unfruitful expenditure would further impede and make achievement of the goals difficult.”

https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/water/1-2-mn-schemes-meant-to-supply-drinking-water-to-all-couldn-t-do-it-61344

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Ishrat Jahan Encounter – CBI Court rejects discharge pleas of 2 former top cops

 

Ishrat Jahan

 

AHMEDABAD:  A Special CBI court here on Tuesday rejected the discharge applications of former senior IPS officers of Gujarat – DG Vanzara and NK Amin – who are accused in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.

Vanzara, who is out on bail, is accused of planning the encounter while retied Superintendent of Police Amin is co-accused. The duo had sought discharge after their then superior officer, retired Director General of Police P P Pandey, was discharged. The encounter was allegedly staged by a joint team of the Gujarat Police and officers of the Intelligence Bureau. Vanzara was Deputy Inspector General of Gujarat at the time of the encounter.

19-year-old Mumbai college girl Ishrat was killed along with her friend Javed Shaikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on June 15, 2004.

According to The Indian Express report, the court while to discharge Vanzara and Amin said their role was “greater” than that of the retired DGP. “The court asked the CBI whether it wanted to obtain sanction from the state government for prosecuting these two former officers or not. The court said if CBI can’t get sanction under Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) — required for prosecuting a government servant–it should inform the court accordingly. The CBI has not sought the state government’s sanction in this case,” says the report.

The Special CBI Court had on 18th July reserved its verdict for August 4 on the discharge pleas of the two retired police officers D.G. Vanzara and N.K. Amin.

Continuing their arguments, counsel for the two former police officials maintained that they were framed in the case by the Central Bureau of Investigation despite the fact they were not even present at the spot on Ahmedabad outskirts.

They cited the discharge of former Acting Director General of Police P.P. Pandey in the case to buttress their claim.

The mother of Ishrat Jahan, who was killed in the alleged shootout along with three others in a joint operation by Gujarat Police and Intelligence Bureau (IB) officers, opposed the discharge applications.

The counsel for Shamima Kauser asserted that her daughter was abducted, kept in illegal confinement and murdered in cold blood by the Gujarat Police officers and this was “falsely projected as an encounter killing”.

Kauser’s advocate Parvez Pathan argued that the “accused cannot be discharged even before the supplementary charge sheet is placed before the court”.

A supplementary charge sheet is pending with the Special CBI Court that names Intelligence Bureau officials, including its former Special Director Rajinder Kumar.

The arguments on the discharge applications of Vanzara and Amin concluded on Wednesday, following which Special CBI judge J.K. Pandya reserved the order for August 4.

Kauser had pointed out that there are eyewitnesses whose statements have been recorded under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code that establish the roles of senior police officials.

She also objected to the submissions of the accused applicants for “making baseless, defamatory, malicious and motivated aspersions against Ishrat Jahan in a desperate bid to cover up their crime”.

She said in the written submission that she would challenge the discharge order of Pandey in the Gujarat High Court.

Ishrat Jahan, a 19-year-old Mumbai college girl, was killed along with her friend Javed Shaikh and two alleged Pakistani nationals, Amjadali Akbarali Rana and Zeeshan Johar, on June 15, 2004.

In months and years following the Gujarat 2002 riots, several encounters took place in Gujarat. While the state government, then run by Narendra Modi, and the police had claimed those killed in the encounters were terrorists sent to the state to target Modi, families of the victims contested the claims in the court of law. Among those encounters, Isharat Jahan and Sohrabuddin Shaikh encounters had hit national and international headlines. In the Sohrabuddin case, now BJP chief Amit Shah was also among the accused sent to jail. His case was shifted to Mumbai where a CBI court discharged him in December 2014. CBI judge BH Loya was presiding over the case when in the intervening night of 30 Nov and 1 December, he died of heart attack (official reason) at a guest house in Nagpur.

— With inputs from IANS

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What are the responsibilities of pro-feminist men in the Michael Kimmel sexual harassment case? #Vaw

Prominent sociologist and pro-feminist, Michael Kimmel, has been accused of unethical conduct. What should the response of academics and activists who identify as pro-feminist or feminist be?

The irony of one of the leading pro-feminist male scholars being accused of sexual harassment is painfully obvious. The accusations against sociologist Michael Kimmel have been anonymous so far and investigations are just beginning, but we need not wait to take seriously Kimmel’s own advice to men who find themselves in this position.

In an article published earlier this year, “Getting Men to Speak Up,” Kimmel wrote:

“We are in a new moment. For many of us, particularly men, it is scary and uncomfortable. Men are feeling vulnerable and afraid of false accusations (or perhaps true ones). They fear that things they did a long time ago will be reevaluated under new rules. They tell me they’re walking on eggshells. Because of this, many men are staying silent rather than taking part in the conversation. And yet inaction isn’t necessarily the right approach; there are important things men can do and say to support the women in their lives.”

Silence is unacceptable. Supporting women is our primary task. From those insights, there are two important points to make right now if pro-feminist men in the academic and activist worlds — and I include myself in both categories — are to “walk the talk.”

The first concerns Kimmel’s inadequate response so far. In the Chronicle of Higher Education story (which is behind a paywall, though the text has been posted andanother higher ed publication has since published) that made public the accusations of unethical conduct, Kimmel said that he believed he he has been “professional and respectful in my relationships with women,” but that he takes such concerns seriously and wants “to validate the voices of those who are making such claims. I want to hear those charges, hear those voices, and make amends to those who believe I have injured them.”

The women “who believe I have injured them”? This echoes the implicit denial of folks who apologize “to anyone who was offended” by bad behavior, instead of coming to terms with that behavior. This phrasing suggests that the alleged perpetrator did nothing really all that wrong and that the problem is those who took offense or believe they have been injured. Such a response does not signal support for women, who already face pressure not to speak up and risk retribution if they do.

Debra Guckenheimer’s cogent analysis, “What We Need From Accused Perpetrators Like Michael Kimmel,” offers concrete steps he could take, starting with: “Acknowledge and believe the survivor even if their account does not fit with his sense of self.” She also points out that by announcing that he would delay for six months accepting an award from the American Sociological Association (the Jessie Bernard Award, “given in recognition of scholarly work that has enlarged the horizons of sociology to encompass fully the role of women in society” — the irony intensifies), he “fails to acknowledge the risks for graduate students and junior faculty to come forward.”

Eric Anthony Grollman made a similar observation in a blog post, about the costs to students:

“The failure of academic institutions to effectively punish sexual violence also places the burden on victims and bystanders. For students, it means deciding whether to take a course with, collaborate with, and/or work for professors about whom they’ve been warned.”

The second point is about the relative public silence of academics and activists who identify as pro-feminist or feminist — myself included. I have written extensively against pornography from a radical feminist perspective and count myself as part of the movement against men’s violence and sexual exploitation of women (as well as other movements focused on racism, economic inequality, and ecological crises). Yet my first reaction to the Chronicle story was to avoid the controversy and say nothing publicly. I posted the links to the story and Guckenheimer’s piece on social media but was otherwise silent. It wasn’t until a female feminist friend said to me, “Where are the pro-feminist men in this? Are you men going to leave it to the women to deal with this?” that I realized I was not just being careful — I was being cowardly.

In 30 years of academic and political life, I have interacted with Kimmel professionally on a number of occasions, though we aren’t friends or close colleagues. He and I have different intellectual and political agendas, but I have been on panels with him and he “blurbed” my 2017 book on patriarchy and radical feminism.

My hesitation was rooted in two reactions, neither of which I can defend. First, the pro-feminist men’s movement has enough problems reaching out to men, and being trusted by women, without its most visible writer being accused of sexual misconduct (Kimmel’s books include Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an EraGuyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men; and Manhood in America: A Cultural History). Second, my experience with Kimmel led me to believe he might fight back against critics, and I wasn’t eager to get mixed up in such a struggle.

Looking back over the past few days, I see my hesitation as negligence. The silence of other pro-feminist men is, I believe, also negligent (I realize that younger scholars, especially graduate students, are more vulnerable; here I’m thinking mainly of older and more established men such as myself). I have learned a lot from my female feminist friends and colleagues over the years. One of the things I should have acted on sooner is the lesson they have tried to teach us about men’s responsibility and accountability.

[Addendum: Just as I was finishing this article, M.J. Murphy posted “The Two Kimmels,” an account of his own experience with Kimmel and his conclusion that Kimmel’s “personal behavior doesn’t exactly reflect the kinds of humility and accountability he recommends to other male feminists.” This is the kind of honesty that is needed.]

The details of the specific accusations made against Kimmel so far have not been made public in detail, and I have no insider knowledge of those cases. But as is typical, once an accusation has been made women are starting to talk, and I am hearing some of that discussion. For example, here is a comment from a woman who had worked with Kimmel, and asked to remain anonymous:

“His treatment of me negatively impacted me for a very long time. Reading his assertion that he has been ‘professional and respectful in… relationships with women’ is painful, and reveals the extent of his denial and misunderstanding, to say the least, of the harm he has caused. I have not experienced professional, respectful treatment, though I know other women he has worked with who have. However, I am not alone in being subjected to his worst treatment, and sadly, it goes beyond simply being sexually propositioned and objectified.”

I cannot reach a definitive judgment at this stage on the accusation of sexual harassment, but based on my understanding of the world, my experience with Kimmel, and those discussions I can state two things without hesitation: 1) Kimmel’s response is inadequate, by the standards he himself has set for men; and 2) the response of the pro-feminist men’s movement has been inadequate by the standards we have set for ourselves.

All of us who have been teachers know the concept of the “teachable moment,” when events provide the material for making visible the abstract and theoretical. On questions of men’s sexual exploitation of women — how patriarchy operates in the world to subordinate women sexually — this is another of many such moments, for us all.

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men. He can be reached at[email protected].

What are the responsibilities of pro-feminist men in the Michael Kimmel case?

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India – Chief Scientist Sexually Harasses Five Office Colleagues; CSIR Looks the Other Way #Vaw


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This is a distressing case of alleged sexual harassment of five women working as research associates or project assistants (PA) of a chief scientist at the prestigious  Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (Bhavnagar, Gujarat) of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR). An inquiry, based on the charge sheet in 2014, is going on endlessly. One PA walked out of the research project in disgust, while another one has used the route of RTI (the Right to Information) Act, to seek justice.
This is the story of the RTI applicant (name withheld for obvious reasons), the latest in it being the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) of 27 July 2018, directing the Research Institute to provide documents to the victim to know the status of the fact finding committee which was established way back in 2014, to look into the alleged sexual harassment by chief scientist Dr Bhavnath Jha. He had also sought legal intervention in this matter but did not get any reprieve.
In his order on 27 July 2018, Central Information Commissioner  Prof Sridhar Acharyulu, has rightly observed in his order, “It is a tragedy and harassment that the complaints of sexual harassment, though found prima facie cognisable, are pending since 2014. And one of the complainant research scholars, appellant in this case, is fighting with the help of RTI instrument braving the pressures from the accused professor and his friends in office of the organisation. It is highly unreasonable for this public authority to put the victims to further harassment by delay and denial of information besides inaction.”
Prof Acharyulu further observed: “The CSIR has a duty to create a fearless and free atmosphere for lady scholars to research and rescue them from this ordeal. To expedite the inquiry is in the interest of justice, complainants, and accused besides the reputation of the organisation.”
The Institute has finally woken up, as stated by CIC in the order, to the fact that: “the officers representing the Public Authority stated that the disciplinary proceedings against Prof Bhavnath Jha, chief scientist, CSIR-CSMCRI are under way and chairman of internal complaints committee (ICC) requested for extension by 90 days beyond 17.06.2018 to complete the inquiry in view of large number of witnesses who need to examined/cross-examined during the regular inquiry by the ICC and the matter has been submitted to the  Vice President, CSIR for consideration. The department is keeping a strict tab for ensuring that the process be completed expeditiously. Further, the officers stated that the department shall keep the complainant informed of the progress of case time to time.”
Earlier records of CIC show that CSIR has received five complaints alleging sexual harassment in 2014. The Commission has heard second appeals filed by this appellant earlier and central public information officer (CPIO) and vigilance officer have already been issued show-cause notices and penalty proceedings were disposed of. However, the penalty was not collected by the public authority nor was action taken in right earnest, which CIC states is a “serious lapse on the part of the public authority reflecting their procrastination. The public authority has a duty to facilitate the inquiry panel to complete their task within period prescribed by law. The Commission directs the compliance of its order and report the same. The Commission hopes that Ms Lakshmy Parameswaran, chief scientist and chairperson of ICC, CSIR, will take reasonable and justifiable amount of time and inform the appellant the status of inquiry. The CPIO is directed to submit a status report, within one month.”
Here is the chronology: 
23 April 2014: The RTI applicant filed an RTI request regarding her complaint of sexual harassment against Prof Bhavnath Jha.
She sought the following information:
(i) current status of the fact finding committee (FFC) report of ICC;
(ii) date on which FFC’s report was received;
(iii) designation of authority processing the FFC report;
(iv) findings of FFC on the charge of sexual harassment.
Information Denied
The CPIO, through his reply, stated that the inquiry on the matter was still pending, hence, information sought could not be furnished. The CPIO quoted Section 16 of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, and refused the information. Information was rejected under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act saying that the disclosure of a pending inquiry report, which was yet to reach finality, would impede the process of investigation into charges of sexual harassment or apprehension or prosecution of offender/accused.
CIC’s order of 2016 observed:
  • The Act of 2013 does not talk about preliminary or final inquiry reports. It mandates the copy of report to be given to the victim complainant. The expression ‘report’ ordinarily means both the ‘preliminary’, if any, and ‘final’ report.

 

  • If FFC has concluded a preliminary stage of inquiry and gave a report to the authorities, the public authority has a duty to share the same with the victim complainant.

 

  • It is mandated by principles of natural justice, judgement of Supreme Court, the Act 2013 and the Rules 2013, and the Right to Information about action taken or report submitted after inquiry into her complaint is specifically guaranteed and made enforceable by the RTI Act, 2005. The preliminary report falls under the category of  ‘information’ held by public authority under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act, 2005 that has to be provided to the appellant.

 

  • Merely because the process of investigation or prosecution of offenders is continuing, the bar stipulated under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act cannot be invoked. The PIO has to show how disclosure of the information would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders.

 

  •  It is impossible to imagine that giving a copy of preliminary report of inquiry will impede the ‘further’ proceedings, investigation or inquiry. The respondent authority did not raise this point and did nothing to explain to the Commission about possible reasons about how the disclosure would impede apprehension/prosecution by such disclosure.
Thus, in April 2017, CIC directed CSIR to expedite the investigation process and intimate the conclusion of this sexual harassment case along with delivering a copy of the inquiry report to te Commission on or before 27.08.2018, failing which the Commission will be left with no other option/alternative to take stringent actions on the concerned authority for protracting the investigation process on some or the other pretext.
On its part, CSIR gave an excuse for the delay stating that the chief scientist, the alleged accused, “raised complaint of prejudice and bias against one of the members of the inquiry committee, which consumed around one year. A fresh investigation was conducted in 2015 in which the accused’s alleged inappropriate conduct was further established.”
Meanwhile, the accused Dr Bhavnath Jha took the matter to High Court of Gujarat (Ahmedabad) for quashing of the first information report (FIR) which was lodged against him and which was dismissed on 4 March 2016.
The records show that accused made several allegations against the scholars, who complained against him, and also against the professor who appointed them. The RTI applicant alleged that accused chief scientist was wielding all power to stall the inquiry and even tried to get elevated as the director of the institution. Her main contention was delay and denial of action and information.
When she did not get information even after CIC ordered in 2017, she again went into second appeal. Now, as per CIC’s order of 27 July 2018, one hopes the victim gets justice.
https://www.moneylife.in/article/chief-scientist-sexually-harasses-five-office-colleagues-csir-looks-the-other-way/54949.html

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Chhattisgarh-15 villagers killed in fake encounter, says Soni Sori

Soni Sori. FileSoni Sori. File   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

 Tribal activist and Aam Aadmi Party leader in Chhattisgarh Soni Sori on Wednesday accused the security forces of killing 15 “innocent civilians” in the name of an anti-Maoist operation in Sukma district of south Chhattisgarh.

Chhattisgarh police claimed to have killed 15 alleged Maoists in an operation in Konta area of Sukma district on Monday.

Special Director General of Police, Anti-Naxal Operations D.M Awasthi said around 20 to 25 “Maoists’ militia members” of three formations were camping near Nalaktong village of Sukma on Monday morning. Out of these 15 were killed in an exchange of fire with a joint team of the District Reserve Guard and the STF between 6 to 7 am.

Bastar range Inspector General of Police Vivekanand Sinha had claimed that the exchange of fire lasted two hours and the Maoists had initiated the firing forcing the security forces to retaliate.

However, Ms. Sori alleged that not a single person out of the 15 killed in Monday’s “encounter” was a Maoist.

“An operation was launched in that area on Sunday. Due to the fear that the security forces will harass them, some villagers gathered at one place on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday. On Monday morning, the villagers saw the security forces and panicked. The security forces opened indiscriminate fire on these people. Six people of Nulkatong village, seven of Gompad, one villager each of Villapocha and Kindram were killed in the firing,” Ms.Sori told The Hindu.

She claimed that she met the family members of all the deceased men in Sukma on Monday.

“They (family members) told me that none of the villagers was carrying any weapon or fired at the security forces. They tried to hide and run away fearing harassment by the forces. They were not Maoists. An independent inquiry is needed. If they were really Maoists, how come none of them had a single automatic weapon in a group of 15? The 15 dead included two brothers and seven teenagers. We appeal to all the political parties, independent organisations, and the media to visit this area and verify the facts,” Ms. Sori said.

AAP’s Chhattisgarh convener Sanket Thakur informed that the party will send a fact-finding team to the spot.

The Hindu

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