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Archives for : November2018

French student sexually assaulted by Delhi host, files police complaint #Vaw

According to the girl’s complaint, an Indian student had stayed with her in France during the previous exchange programme in May-June. On October 13, when the French girl came to India, she was assigned to stay with the same student whose parents received her at the airport, the complaint said.

 

“He came closer to me and hugged me and said ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay’…I didn’t understand what he meant…he strongly tried to touch my breast…he hugged me again

 

A French student visiting India on a school exchange programme has alleged that she was sexually assaulted by the father of the host Indian student.

The incident happened on October 18 in Delhi. A First Information Report (FIR) was filed a week later based on the 16-year-old’s complaint.

The French teenager in her statement said that her host student’s father, 55, sexually assaulted her when she was alone in the room. She was living with the family in their apartment in Saket.

“While I was packing my bags for Jaipur, her father came to the room and was giving me general advice… I was sitting on the bed and packing…and he was standing in front and staring at me,” the girl said in her complaint.

“He came closer to me and hugged me and said ‘Don’t worry, it’s going to be okay’…I didn’t understand what he meant…he strongly tried to touch my breast…he hugged me again…in an uncomfortable manner,” she said further.

“He took my hand forcefully to bring it between his legs…I was completely under trauma and shocked,” she said in her complaint to the police.

The girl revealed the incident to her friends in the bus on her way to Jaipur. The teacher informed the French embassy. The student has been shifted with another host family.

The host Indian student had visited France in June as part of a similar programme. She had stayed with the French teenager’s house. On October 13, when the French student arrived in Delhi, she was assigned to stay with the same student’s family.

 

Based on the girl’s complaint, a case was registered on October 23 at Neb Sarai Police Station under IPC section 354 (molestation) and Section 8 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (sexual assault).

According to the girl’s complaint, an Indian student had stayed with her in France during the previous exchange programme in May-June. On October 13, when the French girl came to India, she was assigned to stay with the same student whose parents received her at the airport, the complaint said.

On the day of the alleged incident, the girl stated that she was packing her bags alone for her trip to another city. The complaint said that at 8pm, the Indian girl’s father came to the room, and advised about what to pack and asked to keep her passport. This was when the host first touched her inappropriately, she stated.

The girl stated that she returned to packing her bags and “hoped” that the accused would leave the room. But the alleged assault happened after that, the complaint said.

French teen says sexually assaulted by Delhi host, files police complaint

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Former Taj Hotels CEO Rakesh Sarna Accused of Sexual Harassment #MeToo

“In December we had an uncomfortable phone call to discuss my salary and when I wasn’t happy with his offer, Sarna said ‘I think you are beautiful enough to pay you a crore but I don’t have that kind of money honey,” Pandit said about Sarna.

 by Shalini Nair |

The Indian Express has accessed official documents, emails, and other communications related to Pandit’s complaint and spoken with people who were aware of her experiences.A former executive assistant with Taj Hotels, whose resignation letter alleging sexual harassment by Rakesh Sarna, then its CEO and MD, anonymously appeared in the media during the Tata-Mistry tussle in 2016 has now decided to speak on the record.

Saying that she was inspired by the #MeToo tide, Anjuli Pandit told The Indian Express that she knocked on several doors at Tata Sons but few heard her out. Instead, she was “left with no choice but to quit.” After she complained, Tata Sons set up a new committee where she deposed but two years on, she said, she is yet to get the report of its findings.

The Indian Express has accessed official documents, emails, and other communications related to Pandit’s complaint and spoken with people who were aware of her experiences.

Pandit, a US citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card holder, who works with a financial advisory firm in London, joined the Tata Group in 2009 when she was 23.

After a break for her Master’s degree at Sciences Po, Paris, she was back in Tata Sons in then Chairman Cyrus Mistry’s office in January 2014, managing government relations with Europe, Middle East, and North Africa.

Pandit said that a year into her “dream job,” Sarna asked if she could be moved to Taj Hotels as his Executive Assistant.

“In December we had an uncomfortable phone call to discuss my salary and when I wasn’t happy with his offer, Sarna said ‘I think you are beautiful enough to pay you a crore but I don’t have that kind of money honey.’ That was the first indication I had that something was not right,” Pandit said.

In January 2015, she moved to Taj as Sarna’s executive assistant. In a piece she sent to The Indian Express, she wrote: “Over the seven months, he remarked on my looks, his attraction to me and his desire to have an affair. His advances were very verbal, and I was always clear, I was not interested at all. Whether I deflected, professionally requested, or burst into tears in frustration, he persisted. The environment became intolerable as we both lost our patience.”

She said she couldn’t lodge an official complaint with the POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) committee at Taj as it included Sarna and had his subordinates as members.

Pandit said that even after approaching Taj Board members, Tata Group Executive Council members, and the office of the Chairperson, the only solution they offered to her was her resignation from Taj Group and a demotion to “a mediocre-at best position.”

“Since I didn’t feel comfortable with the internal Taj processes, I decided to seek support from the board and largest shareholder, Tata Sons. What I didn’t realise, is that by not following the formal route, I was providing the Tata Group an opportunity to side-step best practices,” she said adding that despite approaching everyone possible up to the rank of the Chairperson, she was, in the end, asked to resign from Taj Hotels and demoted to a back-office job with the corporate communications team at Tata Sons.

In November 2015, Pandit put in her papers citing the hostile environment at work due to Sarna’s “repeated unwanted sexual advances” and her desire to “move out of Tata Group and into an organisation which values and respects women’s rights.”

Months after she left, Pandit said, in July 2016 the law firm AZB & Partners, on behalf of Tata Sons, tried to persuade her to sign a letter stating that her “decision to quit the Tata Group was based purely on personal reasons”. The letter, which she refused to sign, also states that she prohibits the media from writing any “speculative stories about my stint with the Tata Group” threatening to take legal action if they do.

Pandit’s former colleague from a previous organisation and a friend of 10 years, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Indian Express that sexual harassment “dominated every conversation we had.”

In November 2016, a year after her resignation, the contents of her resignation letter appeared in the media without naming her. “It was during the Cyrus Mistry-Ratan Tata face-off and Sarna was known to be close to Mistry…I was horrified that the letter was leaked and I was a mere pawn in this power struggle despite me keeping quiet about it all along and not making any trouble as advised, “ she said.

After Pandit declined to sign the legal firm’s letter and wrote to them about their inadequate mechanisms to prevent sexual harassment, Tata Sons set up a new committee to look into her matter.

The minutes of her deposition before the commitee in the Tata Capital Office in Mumbai in August 2016, available with The Indian Express, show that she detailed Sarna’s “inappropriate behaviour” and remarks on her appearance, her clothes, and his persistent propositions.

She alleged that if he was upset over her rebuff, she wasn’t marked on emails, invited to meetings. He told her, “we should have an affair, I have never been attracted to an Indian woman before. One day you will be my third wife and live with me in Miami…She mentioned his wife and he said she knows I have a glad eye.”

Sarna resigned in May 2017, a few months after Mistry’s ouster.

Pandit said she hasn’t been given a copy of the committee’s findings. “I have written to everyone including current Tata Sons Chairperson with a copy to head of HR for Taj, for a copy of the final report. But I never received a response.”

When told about Pandit’s allegations, IHCL (Taj Hotels) spokesperson told The Indian Express: “The matter referred to in your mail was investigated and dealt with by an appropriate independent committee constituted for this purpose.”

A questionnaire was sent to Tata Sons asking for a response to Pandit’s allegations regarding her “demotion,” resignation and not being sent a copy of the committee’s findings. A spokesperson for Tata Sons declined to comment saying that the matter pertained to Taj Hotels.

Sarna couldn’t be contacted for comment.

AZB’s Zia Mody, when asked about Pandit’s allegation that the law firm had asked her to sign a letter, declined to comment.

#MeToo in India Inc: Former Taj Hotels staffer speaks out, names then CEO

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More than 40 petitions and 1000 individual affidavits against Bullet Train Project

A 2016 photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe posing in front of a Shinkansen bullet train in  Tokyo.

A 2016 photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe posing in front of a Shinkansen bullet train in Tokyo.(Photo: Reuters)

Not a Hectare of Land Acquired in Gujarat for Bullet Train Project

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s project ‘Statue of Unity’ – the world’s tallest statue honouring Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel – was completed within 33 months. The same cannot be said about the Prime Minister’s pet project, the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail Corridor, which has run into several roadblocks.

The project is moving at snail’s pace thanks to dozens of petitions and at least 1,000 individual affidavits filed by farmers in the Gujarat High Court. Although the land acquisition process began in November 2017, the bullet train project was hit by a bevy of petitions by October this year.

Of the total 1,784 hectares of land needed, only 0.9 hectares has been acquired for the bullet train terminus at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai. Despite the delay, the Gujarat government and the Centre are positive that the acquisition process will be concluded by December.

Railways Minister Piyush Goyal said on 25 October that despite the delay, the project may be completed before deadline due to developments in the engineering sector.

It is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

“The land acquisition procedure for the first bullet train project (Mumbai-Ahmedabad) will be over by December this year. We are taking more time because we engage land owners and hold dialogue for acquisition. We want to take them into confidence.”
Piyush Goyal, Union Railway Minister

Still, at the current rate of progress, it seems unlikely that the land can be acquired in two months.

Also Read : Indian Govt Signs Loan Agreement With JICA For Bullet Train Funds

Quick Facts

  1. Distance: 508.17 km – 155.76 km in Maharashtra and 348.04 km in Gujarat.
  2. Costing: Rs 1.1 lakh crore – Rs 88,000 crore loaned by Japan at 0.1 percent interest.
  3. 1,434 hectares of land to be acquired from 298 villages in Gujarat, 350 hectares to be acquired from 104 villages in Maharashtra.
  4. 1,120 hectares of land to be acquired is privately-owned.
  5. 6,000 landowners will be compensated for the project.

Petitions Against the Project

About 40 new petitions have been filed by farmers in the Gujarat High Court till October this year. “40 petitions have been filed by affected farmers, and the Gujarat Khedut Samaj intends to file 200 petitions by the weekend, covering more than 150 affected villages,” said Anand Yagnik, the lawyer representing the farmers.

He said the petitioners hailed from Surat, Valsad and Navsari districts of South Gujarat. Earlier, 1,000 farmers had submitted individual affidavits in the HC against the land acquisition process.

In their petitions, the farmers have said that since the project extends to more than one state – Gujarat and Maharashtra – the Centre is the “appropriate government” to acquire the land for it. Another contention is that the market value of the land has not been revised, as required under Section 26 of the Land Acquisition Act. The petitioners have also challenged the Gujarat Amendment Act 2016, which tweaked the Land Acquisition law of 2013.

“It (the Gujarat Amendment Act 2016) gives unbridled and unfettered powers to the state government to exempt any project in public interest from social impact assessment (SIA),” said Jayesh Patel, President of Gujarat Khedut Samaj.

Also Read : 1,000 Farmers Oppose Bullet Train, Put Affidavits In Gujarat HC

Centre Gives Acquisition Powers to State

On 18 October, the Centre submitted an affidavit-in-reply before the Gujarat HC along with a railway ministry notification, dated 8 October 2018.

The notification – issued under Article 258(1) of the Constitution – said the acquisition that is to be carried out by the central government has now been delegated to the state government. Moreover, the notification has been accorded retrospective effect, which validates all the actions and decisions issued by the Gujarat government before 8 October 2018.

Yagnik, however, believes that the notification giving acquisition powers to the state government only proves the farmers’ point that decisions were for the Centre to take.

“The delegation in the form of notification is nothing but an admission on part of the respondent that the Central government is the appropriate government, and not the state government,” Yagnik said.

Farmers Approach JICA

The Gujarat Khedut Samaj, the farmers’ society, has asked the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japanese Ambassador to India, Kenji Hiramatsu, to schedule a meeting with the farmers and their representatives.

They have requested JICA to withhold the release of any funds for the project, citing violation of several JICA guidelines. Some of these guidelines include conducting social and environment impact assessments of the project, which have not been conducted.

On October 15, Katsuo Matsumoto, JICA’s Chief Representative in India, responded to the farmers and said a meeting will be scheduled at a mutually convenient date and time.

Patel said that the decision to meet JICA official will be decided after Diwali.

“The matter is sub-judice in court and will be heard immediately after Diwali holidays. Once the matter is heard and an order is passed, we will immediately move on to meet JICA officials in New Delhi.”
Jayesh Patel, President of Gujarat Khedut Samaj

JICA has already agreed to provide an Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan of around Rs 5,500 crore (89,547 million Japanese Yen) as Tranche 1 for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail project.

The National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) is gearing up to float more than 20 tenders for the bullet train project by January next year, sources in the railway ministry said. The tenders amounting to Rs 88,000 crore will be for coaches, infrastructure, signalling, technology, among others, the source added.

(With inputs from PTI)

https://www.thequint.com/news/india/modi-bullet-train-project-land-acquisition-deadline

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India – Most women in Bollywood go through #MeToo moments to become a ‘heroine’- Aahana Kumra

‘5 years ago, I was on the verge of committing suicide. I was losing my sanity in a bid to become a movie heroine’

In the wake of the #MeToo movement taking the nation and the entertainment world by storm, film, television and theatre actress, Aahana Kumra opens up on what it takes for a girl with no filmi background to find her voice in Bollywood and about the storms she must brave to become an actor. In a heartfelt chat, the Lipstick Under My Burkha actress talks about the tumultuous early years of her acting career, what drove her to the point of almost ending her life, owing to the murky power-play by certain people in the film industry and how she overcame it all. Excerpts…

You are one of the most outspoken actors around. Did your life experiences and struggles shape your thinking and make you the brave woman that you are today?

I am a different person today. About five years ago, I was disillusioned by this culture of Bollywood, and there was no one to pull me out of it. I was on the verge of committing suicide, because this culture is so normalised by certain people. I couldn’t live with who I was anymore. I started questioning myself about who I had become. I was not what my parents expected me to be. It has taken me a lot to come out of it.

What really went wrong?

When you start working as a professional, you tend to get sucked into a group of people who do the kind of things that you are not conditioned to do. Then, you become a different human being. I will not deny the fact that I was in bad company. I had to consciously steer away from it, as I realised that it will take me down badly. There were some people from a known production house, who were part of my circle, but today, they are not my friends anymore. In college, guys were scared to talk to me, also because my mom is a cop. A guy touching me inappropriately was something I could never handle. When I came in to the industry, my principles were shaken. One day, I sat myself down in my bedroom and deleted all the blocked numbers. Till date, these people cannot contact me. These are big names! Directors, ADs, producers. I never aspired to be TV actor, but I choose to do a TV show called Agent Raghav just to retain my sanity. I told myself that I will work and make a living without letting anyone feel that ‘she is so desperate that she will do anything for work’. In this industry, people can smell desperation. They do talk like that and I have heard people say these things about me. I told myself I won’t do it anymore. I hosted Kabaddi on TV. I did everything that I never imagined myself doing.

AAHANA KUMRA

#MeTooIndia

‘THERE WAS A BIG DIRECTOR WHO KEPT ASKING ME IF I HAD A BOYFRIEND. HE TOLD ME TO COME DRESSED AS A TOTA (HOT CHICK)’

At what point did you think that the relationships that you had forged with some people in the industry were getting toxic? What was the turning point?

You party with them, you drink with them and you indulge in things that they do. Since, everyone around you is doing it… you are made to feel like it is normal. You get drunk, talk inappropriate things, behave inappropriately and touch each other weirdly. After a point, you don’t want to be a part of that space, and I have been there. I had a discussion with my parents where I confided in them. I think they were supremely supportive. It was my mother who told me, ‘Why don’t you do a TV serial?’ She saw that I was losing my sanity in order to become a ‘movie heroine’. I am sorry to say this, but this is what most women go through to become a ‘heroine’. You tend to start believing that this process is normal. It isn’t.

When you reached that point when you realised that you don’t ‘want to be part of that space’, what helped you get out of it?

It was like a switch for me. An actor is an actor. This was the conversation I had with Naseer sir (Naseeruddin Shah, whom she considers her mentor). He once told me, ‘have dignity of labour’. He asked me to respect the work I was offered and reminded me that, ‘If you are a good actor, you will be pulled out and given an opportunity’.TV actors are getting big films, too, and I was narrowing down my options in a bid to make it big as a movie star. I have promised myself that, I will work for every single day of my life and I won’t depend on one person to give me a job. There’s not just one production house who is making different kind of cinema. The moment you realise there are more options out there, you take their power away. Make yourself so good at your craft that people cannot ignore you.

Unfortunately, there are some people in the industry who are not looking for talent alone…

I was replaced at the last minute from a recent (commercial Bollywood action film) by another new actress, because apparently, the lead hero preferred her. It was extremely unprofessional. When I passed out of film school, I had no contacts but I was principled and believed that people will offer me roles on the basis of my talent. But that’s not how it always works here. There was no one waiting to launch me. You have to network, be in people’s good books, flash a smile and look pretty at all times. Also, how many roles are written for women in the Hindi film industry, anyway? Here, no one messes with star kids because it’s the privilege they get. They choose their directors, scripts and producers. If I turn down a script, I may not get any work after that. In this industry, it’s not easy for girls who don’t have any financial backing to be fearless. Eight girls stay in one house, stand in queue for hours with make-up, for one audition, where casting directors talk to you the way they want to, because they are in a position of power. Every day you are told you are fat, ugly and terrible. You start questioning yourself as an actor and it’s a massive blow to your self-esteem.

No aspiring actress escapes inappropriate advances, does she?

People tell you things like, ‘acting ke upar dhyaan mat do. Just take care of your looks.’ These are big directors who have already been outed. Sajid Khan once messaged me, ‘Oh, you can look hot in a bikini also!’ I think it shocked him that I could look good in a bikini. This was after our meeting. Talent managers like Anirban Blah speak horribly to aspiring actresses. What is wrong with these men? A handful of directors feel that inhi logon ke paas kaam hai (only they have the power to give people work). Phantom dissolved the company citing various issues, weren’t they aware of what was happening in it? We should not pass the buck. We are all responsible. Anirban Blah met me at the lobby of a five star hotel and said, ‘There’s a room here. Let’s negotiate there.’ I walked out of that meeting because I wasn’t comfortable. It didn’t go down well with me. That’s ‘normal’ conversation he has with women. The day I chatted with him, I was shaken.

For a newcomer, what are the warning signs?

Always take someone with you, especially if you are meeting someone you don’t know. People cracking a lewd sexist joke, sending you an inappropriate emoji or message, touching you inappropriately — those are the signs that a person is not interested in your work. There was a big director who kept asking me if I had a boyfriend. I was new at that time. He told me come dressed as a tota(slang for hot chick). I thought maybe the role is glamorous. I left when I realised his intentions. I am glad he is nowhere today. But yes, female actors are subjected to massive scrutiny in terms of looks, age and image. After I did Lipstick… I heard, ‘Yeh toh sirf bold films karti hai’, so I only got such offers.

There has been a debate over what amounts to sexual harassment, especially if an actor knows what he or she is walking into

I had a meeting with Sajid Khan about a year ago, knowing the fact that he is a shady guy. I met him and he did the same thing that Saloni (Chopra)has written about him. Same drill — you go to his house, you are escorted to his room which is pretty dark. He makes you watch what he’s watching. He did not make a pass at me, but he said that he wanted to get to know me. When I asked him why we can’t sit outside, he said his mother was sitting there so why trouble her. I asked him to switch on the lights of the room, which he did. You have to be assertive here. He wanted to chat with me. I told him my mom’s a police officer which I think made him behave. But he still asked me bizarre questions like, ‘Would you have sex with a dog if I gave you `100 crores’? He didn’t touch me. I guess he was trying to give me gyaan on how I need to be a dumbf*** or laugh at his sexist jokes, if I wanted to be a mainstream heroine in his films. He implied that I think too much and that I am too vocal about what I think. Hence, I am not mainstream actress material. Point being, you can meet anyone, but be wise about who you work with.

Consent is also a grey area, isn’t it?

#MeToo is a campaign that speaks about harassment, but there is also a thing called consent. If a man or woman chooses to sleep with someone, and if he/she is attracted to that person and is willing to go all the way to further their career, then, for them to say that I was harassed, is wrong. It defeats the purpose of this campaign. Social media has given you a certain power and you need to use that with responsibility. It also boils down to aspiration. To what extent will you go? Do you have the talent in you? Will your talent speak for itself ? It’s not that you can’t refuse an inappropriate offer. A young girl from Jharkhand once told me, ‘Casting agents bikini pehen ke aane ko bolte hai.’ It happens! I am aware of it. I told her, make yourself so sound, be so good at your work that no one will say that take your clothes off and then I will hire you. Thanks to other mediums (apart from the big screen), actors like us can work without being in anyone’s good books. One job is leading to another job. This is taking the power away from those who exploit it. Big production houses are taking a stand and that helps. If you know that your job can be taken away, you will be more responsible.

Do you think that for a lot of women, the #MeToo movement is about making peace with themselves and getting closure?

It is. I wanted to talk about my experience with Anirban and Sajid earlier, but their stories came out, and though they tried, they couldn’t misbehave with me. Some of us are looking for a simple, ‘Sorry’. It’s not about wanting to punish someone by putting him behind bars. It is about letting people know what he/she did. Those who are guilty should accept it. I read Anirban’s letter and I am glad that at least he accepted it. Also, not all are sleazy. I have worked with a lot of good casting directors, actors and filmmakers, and a lot depends on how you conduct yourself. Your vibe attracts your tribe.

Do you think this movement will have a deeper impact on the entertainment industry?

I have gone through a terrible time and it has taken me a while to open up. When women face sexual abuse, they start feeling guilty, but today, the onus is on the man. It has taken us so long to have this conversation with our parents and most importantly, with ourselves. The #MeToo movement is great, but for it to sustain, women need to go on. You can’t be dropping charges because court ke chakkar kaun kaatega? There has to be a legal clause that safeguards women against these people. Naming and shaming is fine, but you think those who are called out won’t bounce back and return to films again? I am giving it a year to see if these people come back to where they were. Some brave women have come forward and I hope their efforts are not in vain. When some actors say, ‘We didn’t even know this happens in the film industry’, I want to ask them…what are you smoking? Just because you haven’t been through it, it does not mean that it doesn’t exist!

BombayTimes

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India – #StatueofUnity Parody by Poojan Sahil ..’ Woh Narender hi Dosto… #mustshare

this Praody by Pooja Sahil Uploaded last night  back has more than 10,000 views and is becoming viral on social media

 

While a number of issues in the country remain unheard, the PM inaugurates the world’s tallest statue, a 3000 crore project, #StatueOfUnity
#RashtriyaEktaDiwas

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