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Archives for : September2018

Two TISS students and one IAS officer are ensuring rural folk get access to every government scheme.

 Here’s how

They are using rural youth who know how to use a computer to visit BPL families and enter their data online and match them with government schemes they are eligible for

Prajanma Das

Edex Live

Indian Government Schemes

The students faced problems initially when they approached villagers who were reluctant to listen to these city folks. A meeting with the gram sevaks helped

Around 276 million people in India have less than Rs 32 to spend each day — or as an economist will tell you, they are below the poverty line. The government of India has numerous schemes for the eradication of poverty but only a handful reach people because people simply do not know they exist. Two students, Surya Karthik and Jayanti Bagda, of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai teamed up with Assistant Collector and Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Khed Sub-Division in Pune, Ayush Prasad, to take these schemes to the doorsteps of the people.

Around seven months ago, Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation collaborated with the state government to create a website,, which tells you which government schemes you are eligible for once an online form is filled up. But the challenge was to take it to the people in remote areas who do not have access to the internet.


Doorstep delivery: This is the first time that the government is taking tits schemes to the people


This is when Surya and Jayanti, both second-year students of MA in Social Work in Community Organisation and Development Practice, reached Ghodegaon for their field-work. When he met them and they discussed the possibilities, Ayush, the IAS officer, came up with a plan.

They decided to use youngsters who could visit and collect data from each listed household, enter the data online and give them a print explaining what schemes they were eligible for. As the first step, a total of 20,000 individuals from about 12,600 tribal Below Poverty Line families were identified as those who needed these schemes the most.

The next step was mobilising youngsters to do the data collection, “We are working with students who have completed the Maharashtra State-Certificate in Information Technology (MS-CIT) course and know basic computing,” explains Ayush. “They get paid Rs 70 per offline form they take to the villagers, get it filled, enter the details online and give the people the document that tells them which schemes they are eligible for.” This also provided a fair bit of income to most of them.

The students faced problems initially when they approached villagers who were reluctant to listen to these city folks. “We understood that even if we sent people from the talukas to these remote areas they would face the same problems,” says Surya, who was a mechanical engineer before he found his true calling in social service. “We organized meetings with the gram sevaks and the surveyors. This helped the gram sevaks understand the situation and go back home to explain what it was all about. So, the next time the surveyors went to the villages the people would already be aware of what is going on.”


Leading from the front: Ayush Prasad organised training and planning meetings for the on-field operations

There are a total of 739 central level sponsored welfare schemes, 452 state-level schemes and district and tehsil level schemes. “Once they get the official document signed by the CM himself they can also go to the respective departments and claim for those schemes,” says Jayanti.

This is not the first attempt at making a site like this. “The first version of this app created by the government came out in 2011. It was called The primary driver behind the creation of this version was to create a database of beneficiaries. Most of the beneficiaries do not know themselves how many schemes they avail. In this website when you enter your details it gives you information about schemes from multiple departments,” says Ayush, who is also the Project Officer for ITDP in Ghodegaon. “This will help accelerate socio-economic upliftment. If you have a piece of land you should not benefit just from the agriculture department’s schemes but also from the ones offered by the minor irrigation department, electricity department and if possible more. “

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Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi passes away at 64 #RIP


  • Renowned filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi died on Sunday morning at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital.
  • Lajmi was suffering from a chronic kidney disease and liver failure.


Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi passes away at 64

Critically-acclaimed director-writer Kalpana Lajmi was cremated Sunday in the presence of family, friends and loved ones. Lajmi, who was suffering from chronic kidney disease and liver failure, passed away Sunday morning. She was 64. Her younger brother, Dev Lajmi performed the last rites at Oshiwara Crematorium amidst a gathering of close friends and family members, including mother Lalita Lajmi.

From the Hindi film industry, actors Shabana Azmi, Soni Razdan and director Shyam Benegal, who is also Lajmi’s uncle, paid their last respects to the filmmaker. Razdan, who was among the first ones to arrive, got emotional when the pyre was lit. A wreath was sent by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to pay respects to Lajmi.

Lajmi debuted as an assistant director under renowned film director Shyam Benegal, who was also her uncle. She went on to work as an assistant costume designer in Benegal’s Bhumika: The Role (1977), starring Smita Patil, Amol Palekar and Naseeruddin Shah, among others.


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Filmmaker Kalpana Lajmi passes away at 64

Made Women-Centric, Socially Relevent Movies Like Rudaali, Ek Pal, Daman And Chingari

Director Kalpana Lajmi, known for her distinctive women-centric films like Rudaali and Ek Pal, passed away at a Mumbai hospital on Sunday morning. She was 64.

“She was suffering from chronic kidney disease and liver failure. She was on dialysis and in and out of hospital for three years,” her brother Dev Lajmi told PTI.

Women in Lajmi’s films possessed an inner core of strength which allowed them to negotiate matters of heart on their own terms. In Ek Pal (1986), her debut feature, the much-married Priyam (Shabana Azmi) bears a child from her lover. Lajmi’s protagonists fought back hard when wronged. In Daman, Durga (Raveena Tandon) ends up killing her vicious husband. In Chingari, the wronged sexworker Basanti (Sushmita Sen) avenges her lover’s death slaying the rapacious priest.

Her women were unconventional too. Rakhee (Bhikhni) is a professional mourner in Rudaali. Dimple Kapadia’s touching performance as a woman who’s unable to weep won her the national award for best actress in Rudaali. So did Tandon for Daman, who tweeted on Sunday, “You will be missed Kalpanaji. Was not your time to go. But may your heart now be at peace. Those days while shooting Daman will be a treasured memory.”

In Darmiyan, the Mumbaiborn Lajmi explored the relatively unchartered terrain of alternative gender. A niece of the famed filmmaker Guru Dutt, she assisted Shyam Benegal in films like Bhumika and Mandi, before producing and directing Ek Pal.

Lajmi also assisted Assamese cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika striking a creative collaboration with him. “She was passionate about her work. She was Bhupen da’s companion and looked after him,” said filmmaker and Lajmi’s friend, Jahnu Barua. Hazarika passed away in 2011. Lajmi’s memoir, Bhupen Hazarika — As I Knew Him, provides an up, close and personal look into their longstanding relationship.

Hazarika composed music for most of Lajmi’s films. The songs are instantly recognisable for their folksy flavor. Some like Jara dheere jara dheeme leke jaiho doli (Ek Pal) and Dil hoom hoom kare (Rudaali), both in Hazarika’s evocative voice, endure in popular memory.

“There’s a distinctive flavor of Assam in her movies,” Barua said. Ek Pal was shot in the northeastern state. Before turning to features, Lajmi had also filmed a bunch of documentaries such as Along the Brahmaputra. And one of her most remembered work is Lohit Kinare, a 1988 DD serial adapted from Assamese short stories.

Lajmi loved adapting literature for cinema. Ek Pal’s story was penned by poet-novelist Maitreyi Devi; Rudaali was based on litterateur Mahashweta Devi’s story and Chingari was scripted from Hazarika’s work, Postman and Prostitute.

“She was extremely well read and very literary in her outlook. She was also scriptfriendly but not very comfortable with the physical process of shooting,” recalls Arif Zakaria, who made his film debut in Darmiyan. He adds, “I will always be in deep gratitude of her for taking the risk in casting me.” Shah Rukh Khan was initially slotted for the role.

Benegal told PTI, “She was a niece of mine. She was a very fine filmmaker. She went through a long period of illness, it is tragic. She was much young to go


Lajmi made her directorial debut with the documentary, D.G. Movie Pioneer in 1978. Known for making fiery films with women at the core of her stories, her filmography boasts of movies like Ek Pal, Rudaali, Daman, Darmiyaan and Chingaari (2006), her last directorial.


Rudaali (1993) featuring Dimple Kapadia in the lead was India’s official entry for Best Foreign Language film at the 66th Academy Awards. It also went on to win three National Film Awards, including Best Actress for Kapadia, Best Art Direction for Samir Chanda and Best Costume Design for Simple Kapadia.

#KalpanaLajmi passed away .. May she rest in peace." data-createdat="1537667911000" data-id="1043680981171998720">

Lajmi, a director, producer and screenwriter, was known for working on real subjects.

Her films often had a woman at the centre. Some of her popular films include “Rudaali”, “Daman”, “Darmiyaan”.

Lajmi’s last movie as a director was “Chingaari” in 2006, based on a novel “The Prostitute and the Postman” by Bhupen Hazarika, who was her partner.

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Sister Lucy, who joined protest with nuns in Kochi, banned from church activities #WTFnews

Sister Lucy Kalappura of Mananthavady diocese, Wayanad, has reportedly been banned from prayer, teaching the Bible, attending worship service and other activities of the parish, including offering holy communion.

Have dioceses started taking action against the nuns who joined the public protest led by five nuns, demanding the arrest of rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal? According to Malayalam media outlets, Sister Lucy Kalappura, one of the nuns who joined the protest outside the Kochi High Court, has been banned from church activities and relieved of her duties.

Sister Lucy Kalappura of Mananthavady diocese, Wayanad, has reportedly been banned from prayer, teaching the Bible, attending worship service and other activities of the parish, including offering holy communion. Joining the protest in Kochi, she had said that the Church should be prepared to correct themselves if any lapses had occurred, and expressed her unwavering support to the nuns seeking justice in this case.

On Sunday morning, she learnt that she had been barred from church activities, including teaching the Bible to class X students, when she arrived for prayer.

She later clarified to the media that she had not received any written notice on this, but was deeply saddened that she had been barred from the church activities. She also pointed out that she joined the protest to support her fellow nuns, and that she had not spoken against the Church.

She also said that she has received plenty of support from other nuns in the diocese for having joined the protest.

Action is being taken against Sister Lucy for allegedly going against the Church, for taking a loan to buy a vehicle and for not wearing her nun’s habit at a public event.

Reports indicate that the Mother Superior of her Church had recommended action be taken against Sister Lucy three months ago, although this has clearly been provoked by the nun’s support to the protest demanding the arrest of rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

The St Mary’s Church, however, has denied that any action has officially been taken against Sr Lucy. According, to a press release, the church claimed that Sr Lucy used to be involved in catechism and offering Holy Communion activities of the church. Some churchgoers disapproved of her recent criticism of the church through social media and other publications, and this was informed to the priest, Fr Stephen Kottakkal. Churchgoers had a problem with her training their children on faith, and being involved in catechism activities, the church said.

“Sister Lucy has only been informed of the public sentiment through her superior. No restrictions have been imposed on Sister as a Catholic believer and a nun,” the church said, putting the blame squarely on churchgoers.

After five nuns began their protest outside the Kochi High Court on September 9, there were reports of many congregations, such as the Congregation of the Mother of Carmel (CMC), issuing internal circulars, barring other nuns and priests from joining the protest.

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India – Modi and the art of distraction

‘The arrests of Sanatan Sanstha members for committing murder and stockpiling explosives with the alleged intent of committing mass murder must be embarrassing to a majoritarian government,’ notes Devangshu Datta.

The great Jadugar K Lal once told me that stage magic just involved using imagination, followed by careful scripting and practice.

He said the really difficult thing was learning the art of distraction.

Misdirecting the audience’s attention was, he said, a skill that far transcended the performance of smooth sleights of hand and the crafting of clever mechanical illusions.

It is a skill that the current political establishment has learnt well.

Whenever it’s under pressure, it creates some sort of distraction to drag attention away from the embarrassment of the moment.


The dawn raids by the Pune police on activists across the country was undoubtedly an attempt to do just that.

It succeeded since the arrests have dominated the news cycle for the next two days.

The question is, what was so embarrassing that the Centre decided to risk public opprobrium and ridicule by arresting elderly academics and lawyers on absurd charges?

It’s hard to find answers.

Could it have been demonetisation?

A Parliamentary committee had just criticised the exercise in no uncertain terms, pointing out the many undesirable outcomes.

The Reserve Bank of India’s annual report has also underlined the futility of the foolish exercise, which, if you remember, led to the deaths of over 100 people and caused misery to hundreds of millions.

Practically all the cash came back.

Cash held by the public now is back above pre-demonetisation levels.

The structure of household savings has changed for the worse, with the aam jantapulling money out of banks.

Bureaucrats told to defend the move have been reduced to risible statements like ‘Demonetisation worked, don’t ask how.’

Or, perhaps, it’s the meanness displayed in disbursing relief funds to Kerala? The southern state will require many, many thousands of millions to bootstrap out of this calamity.

The Centre is being niggardly in releasing tiny amounts in dribs and drabs.

Enough ‘friends of the establishment’ have pushed out faked images of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh delivering aid to lead the cynical among us to wonder why no real images could be produced.

And the less said about refusing aid from abroad the better.

The excuse is that this is government policy.

Well, surely this brave decisive government could change the policy?

However, it might not be Kerala or demonetisation that required fuzzing out of primetime focus.

The arrests of Sanatan Sanstha members for committing murder and stockpiling explosives with the alleged intent of committing mass murder must be embarrassing to a majoritarian government.

Maybe the civil rights activists were arrested in order to ensure that mass media did not focus on those arrests?

Or is it actually the Rafale controversy that the government doesn’t want debated on primetime?

There are so many weird elements to that story that it would be hard to peddle it as fiction. One government negotiates for 126 planes.

The next government decides to pay much larger sums for 36 planes.

What’s more, an industrialist who has never fabricated a plane in his career and whose companies owe over Rs 450 billion, suddenly becomes a joint venture partner of Dassault Aviation.

The French say they have no objection to the costs being mentioned in Parliament.

The Indian government says it can’t mention the numbers because it has a secrecy clause in a treaty with France!

Maybe it’s not the Rafale controversy either.

It could just be the record prices of diesel and petrol and the record weakness of the rupee.

After all, the current prime minister spent a lot of time excoriating the last government for the weak rupee and the high price of fuels.

Or, it could be the release of the Sudipto Mundle-led committee report on real sector statistics that suggested the last government did a better job in terms of generating growth.

Or, it might be Doklam, where the People’s Liberation Army has apparently been settling down.

Or, it may be the failure of helicopter diplomacy in the Maldives.

That’s a lot of potentially embarrassing stuff that could have made it to the news cycle.

Instead, we had the spectacle of 70-year-old academics being interrogated on why they read books on Marx and Mao.

Well played!

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I Fear Lynching More Than Triple Talaq: Journalist Arfa Khanum


NEW DELHI — Renowned journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani has asked if the government will act against lynching because she fears it more than Triple Talaq. The central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi passed an ordinance on Wednesday making Triple Talaq a criminal punishable offence. Arfa and many others have opposed the government move.

Senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted: “The triple talaq debate being wrongly (or deliberately) pushed as Hindu vs Muslim; should be liberal voices Vs conservative; gender justice vs male supremacy. The bill may have flaws, can be amended, but principle of a woman being denied constitutional rights is unacceptable IMHO.”

To this tweet, Arfa, Senior Editor, The Wire, commented: “Supporting this utterly hypocritical govt on Triple Talaq shows what exactly is wrong with ‘Hindu liberals’ in India today. SC declared it unconstitutional. Means TT is ineffective even when the man pronounces it. Then why jail term? Why do you want to send more Muslim men to jail?”

On Arfa’s comment opposing the ordinance, Krishna Khandelwal replied to her: “Aap to khud bhi TT ke kkhauf meiN jeeti aayi hoNgi to phir ab khushi manaiye.” (You must have been living in fear of Triple Talaq, so you should now celebrate (the ordinance).

In response, former anchor with NDTV and Rajya Sabha TV, Arfa just dropped this bomb: “Nahi. Main Triple Talaq se zyada lynching ke khauf mein jeeti hoon. (No, I live in fear of lynching more than Triple Talaq). Should I expect the govt to do something about it? Of course not ! Because it does not ‘appease’ their Hindutva vote bank.”

Arfa Khanum Sherwani@khanumarfa

Nahi. Main Triple Talaq se zyada lynching ke khauf mein jeeti hoon.
Should I expect the govt to do something about it ? Of course not ! Because it does not ‘appease’ their Hindutva vote bank.

Krishna Khandelwal@krsnakhandelwal
Replying to @khanumarfa

Aap to khud bhi TT ke kkhauf meiN jeeti aayi hoNgi to phir ab khushi manaiye.

Triple Talaq has been a pet issue of PM Modi as he has been talking about it from various platforms, including at least twice in his Independence Day speeches from the ramparts of the Red Fort.

Besides, he has been raising the issue at election rallies also. With the Lok Sabha elections and assembly elections in four BJP-ruled states around the corner, the BJP government is said to have brought the ordinance to make brownie points over Congress on one hand and communally polarize the electorate on the other. Congress and other Opposition parties had blocked the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Countering the BJP’s ‘sympathy for Muslim sisters’, the minority community leaders have often questioned its silence over lynching of poor Muslims by politically-backed cow vigilantes, making dozens of Muslim women widows. Most of the incidents of lynching have happened in BJP-ruled states including Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. Rather than ensuring justice to the victims, several BJP leaders and even ministers were seen coming out in support of the lynching accused. Consequently, the police in those states have almost failed to ensure conviction in any case of lynching.

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Rafale Deal: Truth of Benefiting Ambani Revealed Again

With the statement of former French President Francois Hollende, the truth has come to the fore again that in the Rafale Aircraft deal, the Indian government has played a direct role in favoring industrialist Anil Ambani’s company Reliance Defense Ltd. an offshoot partner of Dassault Aviation of France. It is a bitter fact even for the BJP as a political party that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become the synonym of the Government of India. He negotiated directly with the then President of France in the Rafale Aircraft deal. That the Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks first for the Ambanis and then for the country is again a well-known fact even for the BJP. This is evident from PM Narendra Modi’s name along with his photo used for the promotion of Reliance Jio Sim, down to the tag of ’eminent’ granted to Reliance Jio Institute even as it existed only on papers.

The Socialist Party demands that the government should accept and own the truth about the Rafale Aircraft deal instead of white-washing the matter. The government should tell the people of the country that it has more trust in the Reliance Defense Limited, formed with the intention of grabbing the Rafale deal, instead of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a public sector undertaking that has the experience of 70 years of making more than 4000 aircrafts. That position would mean that the present government relies on private companies instead of public sector enterprises for the security of the country. Or the government should constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee to investigate the whole matter. The testimonies of all the relevant parties including the former President of France should be undertaken in the process of the investigation. A fair and neutral scrutiny would require that the Prime Minister, the Defence Minister and the Finance Minister resign from their posts until the investigation is completed.

The Socialist Party registers its objection to the kind of language that is being used in the accusations/counter-accusations between the Congress and the BJP, particularly after the statement of the former President of France. It is true that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has compromised the dignity of the office. But desperate leaders who aspire to take his place do not have the liberty to down grade the level of political exchanges.

Socialist Party would like to ask the RSS chief, who is voicing his opinion a lot these days, about  the Rafale Aircraft deal. Does he support the policy of giving the entire defense system to the private companies after this government’s decision of hundred percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the defense sector? The Socialist Party also urges all the parties/leaders of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to come forth with their versions on this contentious issue so that the public do not get mislead. Misleading the public, either by the ruling  alliance or by the opposition parties, amounts to the betrayal of the public in democracy.

Dr. Prem Singh
23 सितम्बर 2018
प्रेस रिलीज़
राफेल विमान सौदा : अम्बानी को फायदा पहुंचाने की सच्चाई फिर उजागर

फ्रांस के पूर्व राष्ट्रपति फ्रांकोइस होलेंदे के बयान से एक बार फिर यह सच्चाई सामने आ गई है कि राफेल विमान सौदे में भारत सरकार ने उद्योगपति अनिल अम्बानी की कंपनीरिलायंस डिफेंस लिमिटेड को फ्रांस की डसाल्ट एविएशन का ऑफसूट पार्टनर बनवाने में सीधी भूमिका निभाई है. प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी भारत सरकार का पर्याय हैं, यह राजनैतिक पार्टी के तौर पर भाजपा के लिए भी एक कड़वी सच्चाई है. राफेल विमान सौदे में उन्होंने फ्रांस के तत्कालीन राष्ट्रपति से सीधे बात की थी. प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी देश से पहले अम्बानी के लिए काम करते हैं, यह हकीक़त रिलायंस जियो सिम का नरेंद्र मोदी के फोटो सहित प्रचार करने से लेकर केवल कागज़ पर मौजूद रिलायंस जियो इंस्टिट्यूट को ‘एमिनेंट’ का दर्ज़ा देने तक सबके सामने आ चुकी है..

सोशलिस्ट पार्टी की मांग है कि सरकार राफेल विमान सौदे पर लीपापोती करने की बजाय सच्चाई को स्वीकार करे. वह देश की जनता से कहे कि उसे 4000 से ऊपर विमान बनाने का 70 साल का अनुभव रखने वाले सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र के उपक्रम हिंदुस्तान एअरोनाटिक्स लिमिटेड (एचएएल) के बजाय राफेल सौदे को हथियाने की नीयत से बनाई गई कागज़ी कंपनी रिलायंस डिफेंस लिमिटेड पर ज्यादा भरोसा है. इसका सीधा मतलब होगा कि वर्तमान सरकार देश की सुरक्षा के लिए सार्वजनिक क्षेत्र के उद्यमों के बजाय प्राइवेट कंपनियों पर भरोसा करती है. या फिर सरकार संयुक्त संसदीय समिति का गठन करके पूरे मामले की जांच कराये जिसमें फ्रांस के पूर्व राष्ट्रपति समेत सभी सम्बद्ध पक्षों की गवाही हो. निष्पक्ष जांच के लिए जरूरी है कि प्रधानमंत्री, रक्षामंत्री और वित्तमंत्री जांच पूरी होने तक अपने पदों से इस्तीफ़ा दें.

फ्रांस के पूर्व राष्ट्रपति के बयान के बाद कांग्रेस और भाजपा के बीच आरोप-प्रत्यारोपों में जिस तरह की भाषा का प्रयोग हो रहा है, सोशलिस्ट पार्टी उस पर अपना ऐतराज़ दर्ज करती है. यह सही है कि प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने पद की गरिमा को आघात पहुंचाया है. लेकिन इससे उनकी जगह लेने को आतुर नेताओं को राजनीतिक विमर्श का स्तर गिराने की छूट नहीं मिल जाती.

सोशलिस्ट पार्टी आरएसएस मुखिया, जो अपने विचार इधर कुछ ज्यादा ही व्यक्त कर रहे हैं, से पूछना चाहती है उनकी राफेल विमान सौदे को लेकर क्या राय है? क्या वे वर्तमान सरकार के रक्षा-क्षेत्र में सौ प्रतिशत विदेशी निवेश के फैसले के बाद पूरी रक्षा-व्यवस्था को प्राइवेट कंपनियों के हाथ में देने की नीति का समर्थन करते हैं? सोशलिस्ट पार्टी भाजपा नीत एनडीए सरकार में शामिल सभी दलों/नेताओं से भी इस मामले में अपना पक्ष जनता के सामने रखने का निवेदन करती है ताकि वह किसी तरह के भुलावे में न आए. लोकतंत्र में सत्ता पक्ष या विपक्ष द्वारा जनता को भुलावे में रखना उसके साथ विश्वासघात करना है.

डॉ. प्रेम सिंह

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Aligarh Encounter- Rights group writes to UP DGP, asks 11 questions


Shabana, mother of 22-year-old Mustakeem who was killed by police in ‘encounter’ in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh on 20 September 2018. (Photo credit- Gajendra Yadav-The Indian Express)

Caravan News

LUCKNOW — Eminent human rights group Rihai Manch has demanded a high-level probe into the 20th September police ‘encounter’ in which two alleged criminals were shot dead on the camera of ‘invited’ media in Aligarh district of Uttar Pradesh. Citing the videos of the shootout and the x-ray reports of the deceased, Manch has raised 11 questions over the authenticity of the ‘real encounter’.

Hours after the Police shot dead Naushad, 17, and Mustakeem, 22 in probably country’s first ‘encounter-on-camera’ on Thursday, families of the two had addressed a press conference in Aligarh and made strong charges against the police. Contrary to the police version that the duo opened fire at a patrolling police team Thursday morning but were killed in retaliatory fire from the police, the families told mediapersons that both Naushad and Mustakeem were picked up by the police from their home on Sunday, four days before the shooting.

Prima facie, Rihai Manch said, the Aligarh incident looks like an “extension of the state-sponsored encounter politics.” It appealed to the Supreme Court to take suo motu cognizance of the videos of the shootout and order a probe.

After the shootout, Aligarh City SP Atul Kumar Srivastava had said: “Mustakeem and Naushad stole a motorbike and two mobile phones Wednesday in Kwarsi police station area. Police were looking for them. Around 6 am on Thursday, they were heading towards Harduaganj when they were intercepted. The two started firing, triggering crossfire. They rode off to an abandoned building near Machhwa canal not far from Harduaganj and the exchange of fire continued. The gunfire lasted one-and-half hours. They were injured and taken to the district hospital where they died.”

The Police also said that two were accused of murdering six people, including two temple priests in the last couple of months in the state.

The rights group said that the two were picked on 16th September, the police announced reward on their head on 18th September and they were killed on 20thSeptember.

The families had addressed a press conference in the evening on 20th September.

Rafikan, Mustakeem’s grandmother, was quoted by The Indian Express as saying: “They (Police) came in around 2.30 pm Sunday and picked up both, along with Mustakeem’s brother Salman, who was arrested Tuesday, and my son Naseem, who is mentally ill.”

Naushad’s mother Shaheen, a daily wage labourer, said: “We will file a case against the police for the injustice.” “My boy was picked up from home by the police on Sunday morning. He was murdered in cold blood,” she said.

In its letter to Uttar Pradesh DGP, Rihai Manch has raised some points that, it said, require probe:

  • Public Relations Officer, SSP, Aligarh called media persons at 6:36 AM. They were again called at 6:59 AM and they were taken to the site of the ‘encounter’.
  • Several questions arise after seeing videos and photos of the spot. SP City along with three other policemen is firing but five other policemen standing very near are busy in talks with each other. It looks like a police exercise or a photo-op.
  • Is there any provision to call media during serious operation like encounter? Were media asked to shoot only the actions of the policemen?
  • Police said the two criminals got wounded in police firing and while being taken to hospital they could tell their name and address. But x-ray report shows that two bullets had entered and exited from their chests. Bullets had ripped apart their hearts and lungs. In this condition, it does not look possible that the victims would give any statement. What looks certain is that they were brought to hospital dead.
  • When they were hiding as the police said, how could it be possible that both got two bullets each and only in the chests and the bullets exited out? Were they shot from very close range?
  • The families said that the two were picked by police on 16th September and the police had taken their Aadhaar cards also. Police again reached their homes to question family members and to tell that the two fled police custody.
  • Police took thumb impressions of family members on papers, asked them to immediately bury the bodies and issued notice to those who raised questions and demanded an independent probe.

In the letter written by Rihai Manch’s president Adv. Mohammad Shoaib, the rights group has demanded the DGP to order a probe.

A copy of the letter has also been sent to National Human Rights Commission and Chief Justice of India.


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India – Love, sex & the border patrol

Why love doesn’t set you free, especially in this country

In broad daylight, a young man was killed in front of his pregnant wife. The murder was planned by his own father-in-law, to avenge the ‘dishonour’ he felt because his daughter married this man, who was a Dalit. Events like this are not rare, but they stun and silence us. This is how caste violently disfigures ordinary human bonds. It’s plain to see, and impossible to deny.

Romantic love can be dangerous business in many parts of India — step over the line of your gotra or caste or religious community, and the sirens and alarms go off. The border patrol gets you — whether in the form of practical counsel from extended family, or with brutal force, as happened with Shankar and Kousalya, Ilavarasan and Divya, Babli and Manoj, Pranay and Amrutha, and so many others.

But suppose you’re one of the lucky few who’s never been actually told to stay within any bounds. That you grew up thinking you would choose your own romantic fate, through trial and error if necessary.

Still, similar pressures and barriers gently shape our choices, however faraway they seem. If people like us were truly free, would we fall in love so cautiously? In this country of teeming possibilities, it’s remarkable how we end up with people just like us. All these decades after B R Ambedkar spoke of intermarriage dissolving caste, barely 5-6 percent of Indian marriages are inter-caste.

Love is often billed as the one liberating thing, the utopian force that jumps us out of our social tracks, surprises us. In the Bombay cinema of the 50s, romantic love was the fantasy of modernity itself. Its heroes and heroines roamed free, flirted, broke a few social boundaries, though few people watching the movie had such options.

But in India, ‘love marriage’ tends to stick within the confines of a matrimonial ad. People from ‘professional families’ and ‘business families’ are wary of mixing, we are alert to each other’s accents, and our social walls are disguised as judgments of taste like “he doesn’t read enough” or “she’s not my type”.

And if you’re being honest, physical attraction also follows some social/aesthetic conventions. It’s not easy to escape what philosopher Amia Srinivasan called the “discriminatory grooves along which our sexual desires move”. The heart has its reasons indeed.

Nobody has to tell us to not love the wrong sort of man or woman, we have our own unsaid checklists. The border patrol isn’t just out there, it’s in here, we erect the safety railings in our own minds. Recently, I was watching the movie Manmarziyaan, it was clear how relieved the audience was that the female lead ends up with the suitable boy, the banker with prospects who also happens to be ‘understanding’ of her youthful follies. We are all Mrs Bennetts and Rupa Mehras, when it comes to a woman “marrying down”.

Of course some people do mix freely, within their own social orbits — Kareena Kapoor married Saif Ali Khan, a Mangalorean academic in your acquaintance might marry a doctor of Kashmiri origin, a Sikh startup guy might marry a Tamilian Hindu colleague. Big cities can scramble the lines. My mother’s caste was “higher” than my father’s, for instance, which made for some harmless dinner-table sociology. There are many people who marry across region, a few even across religion.

But we’re making a big deal about small differences here; no real hierarchy is unsettled in these unions. We rarely mix across class and ‘type’ (which encodes caste). “The culture is too different”, says someone I know about a prospective son-in-law whose caste is a couple of rungs ‘below’ hers, though cultural differences seem to evaporate for many parents when their children marry white people.

Seeking familiarity is not an exclusively Indian attitude, ‘like marries like’ everywhere in the world. But it feels like there’s less latitude, less social mobility, and people of different origins are treated like different species here. My sister’s colleague at her London law firm was married to a plumber — a pairing that would boggle the mind if they were Indian.

How do the few brave, normbending love affairs happen then? Sexual desire can overwrite the social code. And sometimes, you do have more in common with the cool, clever guy in your college or workplace than with your family. Sometimes there’s a flash of mutual connection that feels more real than the prejudices you’ve imbibed. Things may perhaps be more fluid for sexual subcultures — one of my friends, who’s gay, is negotiating a crossclass relationship, and it’s been a process of discovery and effort for both people.

Of course, romance is a thing between two individuals, not a grand political project. We can’t help liking the people we do, it’s not a selfaware calculation. Love doesn’t melt any structures of domination either. But at an individual level, it’s the one chance we have to smudge divisions and deeply understand someone unlike us.


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How a Madrassa became Oxford school

Modern madrassa-cum schools in UP combine Quran with computers

Dressed in his uniform — a blue-and-white striped shirt and blue trousers — Zunaid Khan watches raptly as the laptop screen plays a movie about how pollution is affecting the environment.

The 10-year-old is a Class V student of Gulshane Rizwan madrassa, where little children are regularly shown educational movies and videos of nursery rhymes so they pick up the right English pronunciation. Located in UP’s Faridpur town in Bareilly district, the madrassa is commonly called ‘Oxford School’.

It is one of the many madrassas-cum-schools that have come up in UP in recent years. Unlike the traditional madrassa where kurta-pyjamaclad students sit on the carpet and learn the Quran, Urdu and Persian as their main subjects, the focus here is on English, science, math, social studies, computer science and extracircular activities. Oxford School’s owner Rahil Khan says it’s mostly children from poor homes who come to madrassas for free education. “We do not want our students to be deprived of modern education, so we plan the schedule in such a way that they have enough time for both forms of education,” Khan says. “Students are taught from NCERT books and texts of private publishers approved by CBSE schools.” The unaided school, which came up a year ago, has 150 students enrolled in primary classes.

Tasleem Khan, a labourer whose children Khairoon Nisa (9) and Mohd Saddam Khan (7) go to Oxford School, says all members of his family have been labourers. “I want my children to get a proper education and decent jobs. A cleric persuaded me to send them to this school. Now our children even teach us,” says Khan, a resident of Savai Kalan village in Faridpur sub-division.

Although affiliated to the UP Board of Madrassa Education, these modern madrassas follow the CBSE curriculum. Jagmohan Singh, Bareilly district minority welfare officer, says the UP government has made NCERT books compulsory in madrassas from the current session. Less than half of UP’s madrassas are covered by the Centre’s modernisation scheme — Scheme to Provide Quality Education in Madrassas (SPQEM) — started eight years ago. Each institution is provided with books for modern subjects and three teachers who are paid an honorarium.

Many madrassas however, are bringing changes using their own resources. M Children Academy, an unaided madrassa in Bareilly’s Nakatia locality boasts qualified teachers with BEd degrees, a library, a computer lab and CCTV cameras in each classroom. Mohd Miraz, a Class X student, says, “I am confident that I will realise my dream of becoming a doctor because I am getting a proper education.”

Of the 220 students at the academy, nearly 10% are non-Muslims. Its principal Abdul Qadir says, “Since we charge a fee of only Rs 200 per month, we also attract non-Muslim students as it is economical for parents who want to give their children quality English-medium education.”

Javed Khan, an alumnus of the academy, got admission into Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia University in 2016, and is currently doing a three-year diploma in computer engineering. “Having had the same education as other students, I didn’t have problems adjusting to college life,” says Khan, who hopes to bag a job in a reputed company once his course is over.

Madrassa Gulshane Khursheed, which has 17 teachers and 650 students, lays stress on physical education, with weight-lifting machines in place to help students get fitter. Principal Farzand Ali says they have exercise and sports classes for both girls and boys and are planning to start yoga classes as well.

What sets apart Maulana Mohd Ali Jauhar Public School in Sambhal is the fact that students here are taught Quran and Hadith in English. Its manager Feroz Khan says, “We want our students to have knowledge of all languages and subjects. We are modernising our teaching methods so our children are able to excel in any field once they leave the madrassa.”

At Sun Flower Modern Urdu Arabic College in Chandauli, students have the option to choose either Urdu or Sanskrit while Sunni/ Shia theology is compulsory in Classes IX and X. Of the 180 students here, 90 are non-Muslims. “As we teach all subjects and conduct examinations regularly, students from all religions come here,” says the manager, Abdul Hasib.

The changing profile of the madrassa is already making a difference in students’ lives. Zoya Sameen, a Class VII student at the Chandauli madrassa, recalls that till a few years ago, she had to go to a regular school in the morning and a madrassa in the evening. “Now I am taught both kinds of courses here, so I have time to play in the evening.”

Modern madrassas are also getting a thumbs-up from community leaders. Maulana Shahbudin Razvi, national general secretary, Tanzeem Ulama-e-Islam, an organisation of Sunni Barelvi sect, says they do not have any issue with modern madrassas if they are giving proper classes on religious texts along with modern education. “We want children in our community to have proficiency of computer and English. The students should have an option of employment outside the religious sector,” he adds.

Maulana Mohd Salim Khan, a local cleric whose two children are enrolled in Oxford School, notes, “Though we want our children to know about Islamic law, it is also necessary for them to remain in the mainstream and compete with other kids of their age. Modern madrassas are bridging the gap between religious and modern education.”

‘I’m learning fast and I get to sit on a bench’

For Armaan Beg’s parents, it is a matter of pride that their son goes to a madrassa where the medium of instruction is English. The 10-year-old is the eldest among four siblings and studies in Faridpur town’s Oxford School. His father, Yunus Beg, is a labourer and earns Rs 200 per day, while his mother, Sona Begum, works as a zari artisan from home and makes Rs 150 in five days. Both his parents are illiterate.

Armaan says he used to go to a small madrassa in the mosque of Dalpura village near the town for an hour each in the morning and evening. “I was enrolled in a government primary school where I studied till Class III. However, as my teachers never paid any attention to me, I could not even write my name in English. After my parents learnt about the modern madrassa, they got me admitted here. As I was weak in studies, I got admission in Class II instead of IV.” The boy says the new school is different from his earlier ones. “The teaching method is interesting for both Quran and other subjects and I am learning fast. Also, I get to sit on benches.”

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Julian Assange -Generation Being Born Now Is The Last To Be Free


Julian Assange in Last Interview Before Blackout.

September 20, 2018 Information Clearing House   Before his links to the world was cut by his Ecuadorian hosts, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview on how technological advances are changing humankind. He said global surveillance will soon be totally unavoidable.

The interview was provided to RT by organizers of the World Ethical Data Forum in Barcelona. Assange, who is currently stranded in the Ecuadorean embassy in London with no outside communication except with his legal team, has a pretty grim outlook on where humanity is going. He says it will soon be impossible for any human being to not be included into global databases collected by governments and state-like entities.

This generation being born now… is the last free generation. You are born and either immediately or within say a year you are known globally. Your identity in one form or another –coming as a result of your idiotic parents plastering your name and photos all over Facebook or as a result of insurance applications or passport applications– is known to all major world powers.

“A small child now in some sense has to negotiate its relationship with all the major world powers… It puts us in a very different position. Very few technically capable people are able to live apart, to choose to live apart, to choose to go their own way,” he added. “It smells a bit like totalitarianism – in some way.”

The capacity to collect and process information about people has been growing exponentially and will continue to grow fast, he stated. With advancements in applying Artificial Intelligence (AI) to big data, the next logical step is coming.

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“Look at what Google and Baidu and Tencent and Amazon and Facebook are doing. They are basically open-cut harvesting the knowledge of humankind as we express it, when we communicate with each other… This classical model, which people in academia call ‘surveillance capitalism’… has changed now.

It’s a really very important and severe economic change. Which is to take the surveillance capitalism model and transform it instead into a model that does not yet have a name, an ‘AI model’. Which is to use this vast reservoir to train Artificial Intelligences of different kinds. This would replace not only intermediary sectors –most things you do on the internet is in a sense more efficient intermediation– but to take over the transport sector, or create whole new sectors.

Assange also predicted that the scale of hostile activities through cyberspace will see a breakout point as soon as AI is trained to sufficiently automate hacking attacks.

“There is no border [online]. It’s 220 milliseconds from New York to Nairobi. Why would there ever be peace in such a scenario?” he said. “[Entities online] are creating their own borders using cryptography. But the size of the attack surface for any decent-sized organization, the number of people, different types of software and hardware it has to pull inside itself means that it is very hard to establish.

I don’t think it’s really possible to come up with borders that are predictable enough and stable enough to eliminate conflict. Therefore, there will be more conflict.


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