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Archives for : December2018

India – Single Women can now jump the Adoption Queue

“The Central Adoption Resource Agency has modified its rules to ensure that Single Women over the age of 45, wishing to adopt a child are given priority and allowed to jump the queue. Since this change 250 Single Women have adopted children.” said Sh. Rakesh Shrivastava, Secretary WCD, speaking at a meeting of Single Women in Delhi. Shrivastava was speaking at a meeting of the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights.

 

Over hundred Single Women leaders from 11 states have gathered in the national capital to raise their collective voice to ensure the right to live with dignity for all Single Women. Shrivastava also said, ”Please share proceedings of this meeting with us, we will certainly plan new schemes and ensure that not just widows, but all Single Women – separated, divorced etc. are also included.” Parul Chaudhary speaking on behalf of the Forum said that the Ministry should study Rajasthan Government’s Palanhaar Scheme, which provides DBT to households with children growing in vulnerable circumstances – including children of Single Women; and launch a similar scheme for the entire nation.

 

Raising issues pertinent to low-income Single Women, Nirmal Chandel – Convener of the National Forum said, “Single Women are thought of as weak, and consequently are suppressed and harassed by family and society. If we want to see change in the situation of Single Women we will have to change this perception. Single Women are not weak, they are Strong Women!”

 

Thought of as vulnerable and weak, Single Women have themselves come a great way forward. In the meeting it was reported that in Jharkhand Single Women leaders trained in filing RTI applications, have within a month filed 33 RTI applications seeking information from Panchayats and Block Development offices. In Gujarat, Single Women have collectively ensured land rights for 127 landless persons. In Rajasthan, Single Women leaders and local groups are vigilant towards community issues. They have worked to ensure drinking water and toilets in schools in remote locations and have established a new festival – “Behna Dooj” to celebrate Sisterhood.

 

Mansa of Rajasthan reported that she and many other Single Women have received replies from the PMO, in response to over 8000 postcards that were sent by Single Women all over India, relating their problems, on the occasion of International Widows Day in June 2018. But the problems are caused by systemic issues and individual letters do not solve the problems of Single Women – like the central government allocation of only Rs.300 for widow pension and Rs. 200 for old age pension; or the widely prevalent practice of questioning the character of Single Women that women have to cope with every day.” She said that “The Prime Minister should come out in support of Single Women and include their problems in his ‘

Single Women can now jump the Adoption Queue

 

“The Central Adoption Resource Agency has modified its rules to ensure that Single Women over the age of 45, wishing to adopt a child are given priority and allowed to jump the queue. Since this change 250 Single Women have adopted children.” said Sh. Rakesh Shrivastava, Secretary WCD, speaking at a meeting of Single Women in Delhi. Shrivastava was speaking at a meeting of the National Forum for Single Women’s Rights.

 

Over hundred Single Women leaders from 11 states have gathered in the national capital to raise their collective voice to ensure the right to live with dignity for all Single Women. Shrivastava also said, ”Please share proceedings of this meeting with us, we will certainly plan new schemes and ensure that not just widows, but all Single Women – separated, divorced etc. are also included.” Parul Chaudhary speaking on behalf of the Forum said that the Ministry should study Rajasthan Government’s Palanhaar Scheme, which provides DBT to households with children growing in vulnerable circumstances – including children of Single Women; and launch a similar scheme for the entire nation.

 

Raising issues pertinent to low-income Single Women, Nirmal Chandel – Convener of the National Forum said, “Single Women are thought of as weak, and consequently are suppressed and harassed by family and society. If we want to see change in the situation of Single Women we will have to change this perception. Single Women are not weak, they are Strong Women!”

 

Thought of as vulnerable and weak, Single Women have themselves come a great way forward. In the meeting it was reported that in Jharkhand Single Women leaders trained in filing RTI applications, have within a month filed 33 RTI applications seeking information from Panchayats and Block Development offices. In Gujarat, Single Women have collectively ensured land rights for 127 landless persons. In Rajasthan, Single Women leaders and local groups are vigilant towards community issues. They have worked to ensure drinking water and toilets in schools in remote locations and have established a new festival – “Behna Dooj” to celebrate Sisterhood.

 

Mansa of Rajasthan reported that she and many other Single Women have received replies from the PMO, in response to over 8000 postcards that were sent by Single Women all over India, relating their problems, on the occasion of International Widows Day in June 2018. But the problems are caused by systemic issues and individual letters do not solve the problems of Single Women – like the central government allocation of only Rs.300 for widow pension and Rs. 200 for old age pension; or the widely prevalent practice of questioning the character of Single Women that women have to cope with every day.” She said that “The Prime Minister should come out in support of Single Women and include their problems in his ‘MANN KI BAAT’ programme, also he should make more resources available so that all Single Women in need have access to social security, health and education.”

 

For more information contact,

Parul (9790 737 448), Ginny Shrivastava (94 141 645 12)    

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P. Sainath: Farmers Are Moving From Suicide To Active Protests, This Is A Historic Beginning

Parliament must be made to work for the people, says the journalist, who is hopeful the people of Delhi will turn out to support the farmers

Sainath said the Nashik-Mumbai march earlier this year, where thousands of Mumbaikars came out on the roads to support farmers, was a turning point.

HINDUSTAN TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES
Sainath said the Nashik-Mumbai march earlier this year, where thousands of Mumbaikars came out on the roads to support farmers, was a turning point.

NAGPUR, Maharashtra—Journalist P. Sainath, whose ground reports have been credited with drawing national attention to the country’s agrarian crisis, has been travelling across India for the past few weeks, mobilising support for a farmers’ march to Delhi later this week.

Over 1 lakh farmers are expected to participate on 29-30 November in the march, which aims to raise issues concerning 70% of India’s farmers and agricultural labourers.

Around 200 farmers’ groups have given the call for the ‘Dilli Chalo’ march and are demanding a special Parliament session to discuss farmers’ issues.

Sainath, a Ramon Magsaysay award winner, is the founding editor of the People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI), a digital journalism platform dedicated to rural India.

The former rural affairs editor of The Hindu says he is a supporter of the march, not an organiser. He is hopeful that, like in the Nashik-Mumbai march earlier this year, where thousands of Mumbaikars came out on the roads to support farmers, the people of Delhi will also stand in solidarity with the protesters.

“It’s a wonderful thing if the farmers move from the demoralised mindset of the last 20 years, which leads to suicides, to active protest which leads to the assertion of rights,” said Sainath.

He spoke to HuffPost India about the march’s aims, the importance of drawing national attention to the plight of farmers and why he is actively participating in the march despite being a journalist.

Edited excerpts:

What is the ‘Dilli Chalo’ march all about?

The Dilli Chalo Kisan Mukti march is happening on a call given by a federation of farmers’ groups. I am not the organiser, it’s not my march. I support it. All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) is a confederation of 150-200 farm groups, some of them very small, some of them very big. They have given a call for a march on parliament on 29 and 30th (of November). The sole idea came up after the Nashik-Mumbai march where 40,000 Adivasi farmers came (to Mumbai) and were joined by 10,000 people from Mumbai earlier this year. None of the major issues of farmers have been looked at by the Parliament in a systematic way. The first report of the Swaminathan Commission was submitted in December 2004. The last was submitted in October 2006. For 14 years, the National Commission on Farmers’ reports have been lying in Parliament without Parliament finding one hour for a discussion. When it comes to the corporate sector and their GST, which is busily destroying thousands of small and medium enterprises, in a week you were able to call and hold a special session at midnight with the President of India and passed it. But in 14 years you could not find the time to discuss the report of the National Commission on Farmers. AIKSCC is focused majorly on two issues. One is a bill they are introducing as a private member bill on minimum support and remunerative prices. The second is freedom from indebtedness bill. But the agrarian crisis is a very large thing, it’s not just one or two bills.

HINDUSTAN TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES
In March, thousands of farmers marched from Nashik to Mumbai to demand loan waivers and implementation of the MS Swaminathan Committee report.

I think the Nashik-Mumbai march was a turning point in the way it inspired farmers and people around the country. Since then, there have been 20 marches in different parts of the country. It’s a wonderful thing if the farmers move from the demoralized mindset of the last 20 years, which leads to suicides, to active protest which leads to the assertion of rights. I think that is a very good thing that’s happening. The idea came and I suggested that you should have a demand that the Parliament should have a three-week special session to discuss exclusively the agrarian crisis and related issues. Since all the powers are concentrated at the hands of the centre anyway, that would place national focus on this issue. It would also be telling your farmers that you are important to us, we are concerned about you. When AIKSCC and others endorsed this idea of a march, several middle-class professionals met in Delhi in August this year. People like Gopal Gandhi, Mrunal Pande came in the first meeting and this formed a very amorphous little platform. It’s not a registered organization, it’s a forum. It’s called ‘Nation for Farmers’.

When was the last time people from middle class interacted with the farmers? The great thing about Nashik-Mumbai march was that that started happening. Middle classes started reconnecting. I think this is a very important thing and it goes beyond 29 or 30 November that the farmers and the labourers are returning into public discourse and the middle classes are talking to people from the Anganwadis, people from the farms, to agricultural labourers. It’s a good thing for democracy, it’s a good thing for equality.

What is the idea behind a 21-day special session of Parliament?

The idea of Nation for Farmers is that you need a three-week minimum special session of Parliament because there are several issues that you have to look at. For three days, you need to have a thorough discussion on the Swaminathan commission reports. A couple of days, you pass those two bills because many political parties have signed on to it saying that they support those bills in principle so they can pass that very easily and fast. Three days, you have a thorough discussion on the credit crisis which is much larger than just one loan waiver. You have a loan waiver and I am for it. But unless you revise the credit system, next year the farmers will be back in the same situation because you have diverted agricultural credit from agriculturist to agribusiness. Less and less money is going in terms of small loans to small and marginal farmers. So, three days you discuss the restricting of the credit crisis which will also mean no privatization of public sector banks. Otherwise, these people will get no credit at all. As it is, they have siphoned off your credit towards the corporate sector. Three days you have a discussion on mega water crisis which is a much bigger crisis than drought. Unfortunately, nothing is being seriously (about it). The water crisis in the country consists of multiple transfers of water, poor to reach, agriculture to industry, food crop to cash crop, village to city and livelihood to lifestyles. You need to have a legislation on if water is a commodity or a fundamental human right and is water be privately owned. There are issues of equity of justice. Water rights in rural areas have to be discussed with particular reference to the rights of the landless, not just the farmer.

Let the victims of the agrarian crisis, the widows of Vidarbha, orphans of Anantpur, for the first time in a historic move, let them stand on the central floor of the Parliament and address Parliament and the nation on what the agrarian crisis is and what it did to them.

Three days you can spend discussing what I think is an issue without engaging with you cannot solve the agrarian crisis: the rights and entitlement, including land rights, of women farmers who do more than 60% of all work in agriculture. Likewise, the land rights of Dalit farmers, who even after being distributed land to, are not getting patta (ownership). 20 years later, the state will grab that land for Adanis or somebody. Then there are poor Adivasi farmers who don’t know what the patta system means. Land rights have got to be settled. You can have three days looking at the pending issues of land reform. Three days you need to discuss what sort of agriculture do you want 20 years from now. Corporate-driven, chemical-drenched or community driven and agro-ecological based? You need to seriously and legislatively reverse the decline of public investment in agriculture which has been falling dramatically for years. Public investment has to be restored and raised in agriculture. Three days, let the victims of the agrarian crisis, the widows of Vidarbha, orphans of Anantpur, for the first time in a historic move, let them stand on the central floor of the Parliament and address Parliament and the nation on what the agrarian crisis is and what it did to them. Then you would have an entirely different attitude. A special session of Parliament is what the Nation for Farmers is wanting. It’s a middle-class thing, none of us is a farmer. But our point is everybody is connected to the farmers who are in the habit of eating and everybody of us was a villager two generations ago. In that situation, you need this reconnection of middle classes with the primary classes. Dilli Chalo is a website to support this, to draw attention to this. One of the interesting things that have happened is, since the beginning of September, the Nations for Farmers’ chapters have sprung up by themselves all over.

These are complex questions. We have a Parliament with very few people with a deep understanding of agriculture. Even if these issues are raised, do you think there will be a genuine discussion?

It’s not a question of whether they discuss genuinely or don’t discuss genuinely. It’s also up to us to make them do it. See, we have an option. Let’s say, oh they won’t discuss it genuinely in Parliament, let’s not go to Parliament, let’s not make Parliament work for people. So just leave the Parliament to the corporations and to the ultra-rich. Parliament is a collection of ultra-rich people. Now the point is as a citizen, do you want to assert your rights and make Parliament work for people or do you want to concede Parliament to the corporate world? To sit and work for Jio and GST, digital companies and demonetisation?

What can be more democratic than a demand that the Parliament work for people?

Parliament being good or bad also depends on us as a society and the political movements that come up. My point is this, should I say they are not enforcing my rights, they are not observing my rights, so I give up on my rights. That sounds like dumb politics to me. I say that Parliament ought to be made to work for you… One of the great things of Dilli Chalo action of 29 and 30 November is the beginning of reclaiming your Constitution, reclaiming your parliamentary democracy. What can be more democratic than a demand that the Parliament work for people?

There appears to an ideological splintering among the farmers’ groups across the country. Do you think they would be able to reach an understanding in an atmosphere where our politics is becoming more and more sectarian?

Of course there are ideological differences, otherwise there would not be 200 groups, there would be one. That reflects your society also—why are there 30 political parties? It represents the divisions and heterogeneity of your society. So, there are Adivasi farmers for whom MSP (Minimum Support Price) is not the main issue. There are going to be very big differences amongst them. What you should wonder at is that given those differences they are coming together. I don’t think this march is a culmination of many things. I think it’s a beginning that like in Mumbai the middle classes of Delhi will be talking to farmers. I am just concerned about how do we, as middle-class professionals, make ourselves relevant to the struggles and issues of justice of ordinary people. You are a journalist but you are also a human being and a citizen. So yeah, there will be differences but maybe as you move forward, over the years, many of these differences narrow down as you learn from successive public actions and movements. I don’t expect, I will not demand of another person that they will toe my understanding of politics 100%. That’s stupid. The thing is whether they can agree on certain basic minimum principles, like the Constitution of India. Can you agree on some basic minimum?

I don’t think this march is a culmination of many things. I think it’s a beginning that like in Mumbai the middle classes of Delhi will be talking to farmers.

I don’t see differences as something to be terrified of. You live in a country which speaks 780 languages and you see one kind of mindset which says end all this and impose Hindi everywhere. That is one attitude towards it. For me, with 780 languages, you are incredibly rich. If you are looking for a monolithic, monochromatic society where 130 crore people are not different from each other, I would hate to live in that world. I would want the diversity. So many differences spring up from where you are from and at. If you are a farmer from Jammu and Kashmir, you have many issues that are different from those of farmers in Bengal. But there are things on which they have come together. How many farmers do you know who oppose Swaminathan Commission report? Wherever you go, they have at least heard of this. How many farmers who are opposing a better MSP? So, there are basics on which you come together and the process is not one short thing. It’s not an event. 29-30th is a historic beginning. As you go forward, more and more people come to think about those issues. It took several years for everyone to get on to the Swaminathan Commission idea.

You are a journalist but you are mobilising support for this march. Is this some kind of a plunge into political activism?

No, it’s not. I think it is one of the crudest and stupidest understandings. I know there are journalists saying ‘Sainath has become an activist now’. I am waiting for that journalist who is saying this to become a journalist first. When will he become a human being? I don’t have to defend or display my track record as a journalist. I am a human being. If you are a journalist and remain silent in the face of grave injustice, then you are a third-rate journalist. When it comes to all those journalists who work 365 days in the service of the corporate world who are their owners, you don’t see that as activism. Journalism on behalf of people, that you see as an activism. I have nothing but contempt for this (mentality).

I know there are journalists saying ‘Sainath has become an activist now’. I am waiting for that journalist who is saying this to become a journalist first.

For me, the views of my peer groups and fellow journalists are exceedingly important and you can ask anyone of 5,000 journalists in the country what they think of me and my journalism. Do I really have to defend myself as a journalist? I am saying that there is a complete zombification of journalists when you are writing everyday something or the other that is plugging the interest of your corporate bosses. These are the fundamental issues of justice. When journalists were attacked, protest rallies were taken, did not people from other sections of the society join it? What you are saying is that ‘if it is happening to journalists, everybody should speak up. When it’s happening to farmers, who cares?’ I am happy to be who I am.

https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2018/11/27/p-sainath-farmers-are-moving-from-suicide-to-active-protests-this-is-a-historic-beginning_a_23602295/

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Delhi High Court Suggests Measures to Deal with Communal Riots Cases

 

A burnt Tato Nano car is seen after the communal riots in Trilokpuri in East Delhi. (HT Photo/Virendra
Singh Gosain)

 

Caravan News

NEW DELHI — The Delhi High Court on Wednesday upheld the conviction and punishment of 88 people in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots case. While lamenting the long delay witnessed in the case, noting that 34 years have passed since the incident, and 22 years had elapsed since the trial court verdict, Justice RK Gauba suggested some legal measures to ensure speedy and fair trial in communal riots cases.

“There is no contest to the case for prosecution that the crimes alleged here were actually committed. Thirty four long years have passed after the crimes were committed and, yet, the victims await justice and closure. Is this what we call a potent and effective criminal justice system? Is our judicial apparatus at all equipped to deal with the crimes of such magnitude? Do we have lessons to be learnt from this sordid experiment in the name of criminal law process? It is indeed a matter of lament that there has been no meaningful thought spared till date to usher in reforms in the judicial process to effectively deal with the cases of communal riots which are engineered, more often than not, by those who have clout or influence– of various kind,” wrote Justice Gauba in his 79-page judgement.

Justice Gauba suggested some measures “to be considered for inclusion in the reforms in the criminal law response to deal with such cases.”

Justice Gauba suggested: Amendments in the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993; Formation of SITs to probe such cases; Establishment of special courts for trial of these cases; and Utilization of media reports carrying photos and videos of the incidents as evidence.

Suggestions by Delhi HC to Deal with Communal Riots Cases:

(i) “Suitable amendments (with necessary subordinate legislation) to the Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 and the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 may be considered to entrust the responsibility of taking note of the cognizable offences committed in communal riots and for investigation in accordance with law thereinto may be through SITs specially constituted under their respective control with further responsibility to oversee the prosecution in the wake of such investigation through Special Public Prosecutor(s) (SPP) to be engaged by them.

(ii) Though the Commissions referred to above would have their own investigative machinery to carry out the necessary probe in an effective manner, they might need to avail of the assistance of Legal Service Authority (LSA) for reaching out to the victims (or witnesses), and for instilling a sense of trust and confidence, coupled with such witness-protection measures as may be deemed proper for the given situation, and also of the judicial magistracy for mandatory recording of statements of such victims, or witnesses, under Section 164 Cr.P.C. at the earliest inasmuch as provisions for this would make the effort more comprehensive and effective.

(iii) The neutral agency of the Commissions, entrusted with the added responsibility of taking such case(s) to prosecution would ensure that no charge-sheet is brought to the criminal court for taking of cognizance, or trial, unless it has been properly vetted dispassionately by those well-trained in criminal law such that it is free from any defect, inadvertent or otherwise.

(iv) The law on the subject of communal riots cannot be a complete answer to the challenge unless it also establishes special courts with suitable amendments to the general criminal law procedure as indeed the rules of evidence.

(v) Given the technological advancements that have been made and the rise of media – print and electronic – as an effective fourth pillar of the democracy, there is a strong case for utilizing as evidence the press reports, supported by photographic material or video footages put in public domain in trials of criminal cases arising out of communal riots. Such material or video coverage are generally seen to be depicting the specific role of various individuals who form part of the riotous assembly as indeed those leading or provoking such mobs. Time has come for availing of the same, may be in corroboration of oral evidence, in criminal trial process. For this, the law must mandatorily require media persons or houses to share the product of their efforts with the investigating agency in all cases of communal riots, it being also their bounden duty thereafter to prove such material at the trial.

(vi) As has been highlighted in this judgment, frequent absences from the court hearings on the part of accused persons has been one of the major causes for delay in the judicial process. There is no reason why general law of criminal trial being held in the presence of the accused be permitted to be abused. For purposes of trial, particularly at the stage of recording of evidence, in cases under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, there is an exception carved out by Section 22© which permits such witnesses as are in attendance to be examined even if the accused is absent subject, of course, to his right to seek recall for cross-examination once he re-appears. Similar rule of procedure in cases of trial in communal cases involving large number of accused would have a salutary effect.”

Delhi High Court Suggests Measures to Deal with Communal Riots Cases

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SC Tells Chhattisgarh- ‘Can’t Hang Sword of FIR Indefinitely Over Someone’s Head’

 

Responding to a plea by Nandini Sundar for the quashing of “malicious” FIR, the Supreme Court issued notice to the Chhattisgarh government.

New Delhi: The police tactic of keeping the sword of arrest hanging over the head of rights activists came in for questioning on Tuesday with the Supreme Court asking the Chhattisgarh government what it had done in the past two years to actually investigate a crime it claimed the academic Nandini Sundar and others had committed.

In response to an application filed by Sundar asking for her name and that of five others to be dropped from an FIR filed in November 2016, the bench of Justices Madan Lokur, Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta issued notice to the state government, asking it to respond with an account of what it had done so far in the case and how it intended to proceed.

Based supposedly on a complaint by the wife of a man, Shamnath Baghel, killed by suspected Naxals in Nama village under Kumakoleng panchayat in Bastar on November 4, 2016, the Chhattisgarh police filed an FIR for murder, rioting and criminal conspiracy against Sundar, who is a professor at Delhi University, JNU professor Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari of the CPI-led Joshi Adhikari Research Centre, Chhattisgarh CPI-M state secretary Sanjay Parate, Manju Kawasi, sarpanch of Gupidi village and Mangalram Karma.

In the alleged written statement of the wife, she named all the men who came to her house that night. The Maoist commander, Sanju, apparently told her husband that they were killing him because he had ignored the exhortation of Nandini Sundar and others when they visited the village in June to support the Maoists. Instead, he had been part of the ‘tangiya gang’ which was formed to oppose the Maoists.

The wife, however, told an NDTV correspondent on camera that she had never named anyone. She also said she did not recognise the attackers.

Vimla Baghel had just delivered a baby when her husband was murdered and was unlikely to be in a position to walk 14 km to the police station to the kind of statement the police said she did. She has subsequently been given a job in the police.

Nandini Sundar and others had visited Nama village in May 2016, and produced a fact-finding report which was critical of both the Maoists and police.

On November 15, 2016,  the Supreme Court had recorded that “Learned Additional Solicitor General says that the following persons will neither be arrested nor investigations conducted against them pursuant to the FIR registered at Tongpal Police Station on November 4, 2016.” The order adds, “In case, there is an intention to carry out investigation in respect of these six persons in future, at least four weeks notice will be given to them. Liberty is granted to the above-mentioned persons to approach this Court.”

On Tuesday, Ashok Desai, appearing for Sundar, contended that since the state had found no material over the last two years to implicate her and the others, and had not investigated them, their names should be dropped from the FIR. Tushar Mehta, solicitor general, said that the police had a Section 164 statement and had made some headway with the investigation.

Justice Lokur said the court could not quash an FIR ex-parte, which is what deletion of the names would amount to, and issued notice to the Chhattisgarh government to file an affidavit within three weeks stating what they had done over the last two years and what they proposed to do.

Justice Deepak Gupta added: “It cannot be like this. You have not done anything for past two years. You cannot just wake up one fine day and say you are investigating the case. You cannot keep the sword of FIR pending against anyone for indefinite period. It will be better if you file a report”.

At the time the FIR was filed, it was criticised as a vindictive move by the police. The FIR came close on the heels of the CBI’s chargesheet in October 2016 against seven SPOs for an operation involving arson in Tadmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli villages, headed by IG Bastar, S.R.P. Kalluri. Immediately after the chargesheet was filed, the police burnt effigies of Sundar and others, and attacked a press conference by Manish Kunjam, co-petitioner in the Supreme Court, and leader of the Adivasi Mahasabha, based in Sukma.

Most recently, leaked documents from the CBI suggest that even the CBI chargesheet was deliberately diluted to save Kalluri, and point to significant problems within the Chhattisgarh police.

Sundar is the lead petitioner in a case against Chhattisgarh for human rights violations. In 2011, the Supreme Court banned Salwa Judum and state support for vigilantes, and ordered the disbanding of armed Special Police Officers (SPOs). The matter had come up for final hearing, had been argued by counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan and was part-heard. It could not, however, be taken up on Tuesday due to the changed composition of the bench, and will now be heard by a new bench, after Justice Lokur retires.

https://thewire.in/rights/cant-leave-sword-of-fir-hanging-indefinitely-over-someones-head

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No Riots in Gujarat, MP, UP & Chhattisgarh After Our Govts Came To Power: BJP Chief Amit Shah. All Claims False

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India’s rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

A 7th grade book shows Maharana Pratap fighting a Muslim warrior in Haldighati

A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

The review, published under the title “India’s Dangerous New Curriculum” by Alex Traub claims that while on the books shows how “Hindu ruler Maharana Pratap fighting a Muslim warrior in the Battle of Haldighati… won and display[ed] his unmatched power”, even though he had to retreat, another, referring to the Sino-Indian conflict, “actually implies that India won”, going so far as to insist, the army ‘proved its might by retaliating the attacks of enemies in 1962’.”
The reviewer points to a Gujarat textbook, which praises Hitler, saying he “made a strong German organization with the help of [the] Nazi party and attained great honour for this”, and, even as “favouring” and “opposing Jews” brought about “new economic policies” which made Germany “a prosperous country”, transforming the lives of the people of Germany “within a very short period by taking strict measures.”
Another book, published in Rajasthan, says the reviewer, explicitly lists “demerits of democracy,” saying, “democracy teaches a person to be selfish, cunning and illusive, adding, “democracies do not produce economic development”, and they are particularly weak “in times of crisis.”

Excerpts from the review:

From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, the Mughal Empire did much to create modern-day India. It consolidated the country into a sovereign political unit, established a secular tradition in law and administration, and built monuments such as the Taj Mahal. The Mughals were originally from Uzbekistan, but over time they became a symbol of the contribution of Muslims to Indian national history.

Their lasting influence is evident in some of India’s most famous dishes, such as biryani, and the settings of several of the most beloved Bollywood movies, including Mughal-e-Azam (1960), by some estimates the highest-grossing film in Indian history. So it was odd, on a visit this spring to a school in the Indian state of Rajasthan, to hear a Muslim teacher, Sana Khan, ask her entirely Muslim eighth-grade social science class, “Was there anything positive about Mughals?”
Khan was teaching at the English-medium Saifee Senior Secondary School, whose students are Dawoodi Bohras, a small Islamic sect that has been based in India since the Mughal era, when its leaders faced persecution in the Middle East. Like Jews, Parsis, and Baha’is, the Bohras are a religious minority that found shelter in India’s unusually tolerant culture.
Since last year, students at the Saifee School have been using new textbooks published by the Rajasthan government, which is run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that dominates India’s parliament and state legislatures. The new textbooks promote the BJP’s political program and ideology.
These textbooks are part of the BJP’s ongoing campaign to change how Indian history is taught in middle and high schools. Textbooks issued last year by two other states under BJP rule, Gujarat and Maharashtra, resemble the Rajasthan books in their Hindu triumphalism and Islamophobia.
The fact that these textbooks are essentially political manifestos is made clear by the way they discuss the ruling party. Rajasthan’s seventh-grade book directs students to “prepare a chart of the advertisements published by the Government about its different schemes and with the help of your teacher discuss the benefits of these schemes.” Swachh Bharat (Clean India), a government initiative to improve India’s hygiene with which Modi has closely aligned himself, is mentioned in five of the updated federal textbooks.
Beyond expressing approval for India’s current leader, the textbooks also make implicit suggestions about what the government ought to be concerned with — namely, strength and unity. Rajasthan’s book on modern India emphasizes India’s military excellence with a list of weapons and pictures of a missile launch and a rumbling tank. The equivalent Gujarat book silently passes over India’s loss in the 1962 Sino-Indian War, while the Rajasthan book actually implies that India won, saying that the army “proved its might by retaliating the attacks of enemies in 1962.”
India is infallible; its citizens, however, must be disciplined. Gujarat’s eighth-grade book insists that “awareness regarding co-operating with the security agencies has to be developed.” Social harmony should be pursued even at the expense of individual rights: Rajasthan’s seventh-grade book recommends, “We should refrain from negative acts like strikes.” There is a whiff of authoritarianism in these proposed limits on autonomy and dissent.
Rajasthan’s official ninth- and tenth-grade social science books appear not to be available in English, but a private company has published its own editions that follow the same syllabus as the new textbooks. These books were being used by the Saifee School, and they were the only editions I could find in the bookstores of Udaipur, the city where the school is located.
The tenth-grade book is more explicit in listing the “demerits of democracy,” including that “democracy teaches a person to be selfish, cunning and illusive,” that democracies do not produce economic development, and that they are weak in times of crisis.
One Gujarat textbook points to a troubling alternative. Amid surprisingly frequent criticism of the Treaty of Versailles and an enumeration of Mussolini’s successes, the new twelfth-grade history book praises Hitler at length:
“Hitler made a strong German organization with the help of [the] Nazi party and attained great honour for this. By favouring German civilians and by opposing Jews and by his new economic policies, he made Germany a prosperous country…. He transformed the lives of the people of Germany within a very short period by taking strict measures. He safe guarded [sic] the country from hardships and accomplished many things.” 
This is not the first Gujarat textbook to praise fascism: the last one was the ninth-grade social science book of the mid-2000s, when Modi ran the state government. The offending section was not removed until after a visit from the consul general of Israel. The episode became international news and is still frequently referred to, yet the treatment of Nazism in the new textbook seems to have gone unreported.
An illustration from the Rajasthan seventh-grade social science textbook, showing the sixteenth-century Hindu ruler Maharana Pratap fighting a Muslim warrior in the Battle of Haldighati. Though Pratap retreated from the battlefield into a nearby mountain range, the textbook claims he won and ‘display[ed] his unmatched power.’
It is not an accident or eccentricity that the Gujarat books keep exalting Hitler. A positive view of fascism enables a government eager for more power to tell its citizens about the potential of “strict measures” to “transform” society. It provides a model for Hindutva’s emphasis on “honour” as a reward for the “strong.” More importantly, it gives historical precedent to Hindutva’s wish for a homogenous citizenry.
The main project of Hindu nationalist history is justifying the claim that Hindutva groups deserve a special status as India’s “one united whole.” Its central premises are that Hindus are India’s indigenous group; that the rule of Hindutva communities was glorious; that the rule of non-Hindutva communities was disastrous; and that Hindu nationalists have been responsible for winning back India’s freedom. Regardless of whether these propositions have anything like the moral implications Hindu nationalists hope for, each of them is factually dubious.
The word “Hindu” is not indigenous to India. It comes from an Old Persian word used by Arabs and Turks to refer to the people who lived around the Indus River. The religious sense of the word “Hindu” does not seem to have existed until the second millennium AD.
Ruins associated with the Harappan civilization suggest that an urban society without any obvious connection to the pastoral world described by the Vedas existed in India as early as the third millennium BC. Not only do the Vedas seem far removed from India’s earliest-known civilization, but they were also probably composed by the descendants of recent migrants to India who dominated other longer-standing groups in the form of the caste system.
All this is inconvenient for an ideology that seeks to make Indian history into Hindu history. The Rajasthan books solve this problem by making the Harappan civilization fully Vedic, renaming it the “Sindhu-Saraswati” civilization after the “Saraswati River” of the Vedas. In this way, the Vedas provide a common origin point for Hinduism, for the diverse castes within Hinduism, and for India writ large. “Vedic culture” is transformed, as the sixth-grade book says, into “the Sanatan (Perennial) culture of India.”
The early Hindu era is depicted in the Rajasthan books as an unrivaled Golden Age. The condition of women was “happy and progressive.” In contrast to the strictures of caste, “as per his needs, a person could change his profession.” Many rulers followed a “democratic and constitutional form of administration” that resembled the “present day Loksabha,” India’s lower house of parliament, since “members were elected by the public.”
At the same time, the Golden Age also boasted religious purity: “nobody except chandals” — members of a traditionally untouchable caste — “ate meat or drank wine,” and rulers were “hardcore followers of Hinduism.”
One crucial question largely absent from Rajasthan’s books is how exactly the dominant power of India came to be Muslim. Rajasthan’s tenth-grade social science textbook observes that the twelfth-century ruler of northwest and central India, Prithviraj Chauhan, defeated Muhammad of Ghor in several battles, but passes over Ghor’s ultimate victory, saying simply that “due to certain circumstances, Muslim rule started in India by 1206 CE.”
In their discussions of the Mughal era, the Nehruvian textbooks emphasized Akbar, who empowered Hindu generals, married Hindu princesses, participated in Hindu ceremonies, abolished religious taxes, and held spiritual discussions with Hindus, Christians, Jews, and even atheists. These details are neglected in the new Rajasthan and Gujarat books, which concentrate instead on Aurangzeb (1618-1707), the emperor who reinstated religious taxes and destroyed some Hindu temples.
The books overstate Aurangzeb’s prejudice — “Aurangzeb used to hate Hindus,” according to Rajasthan’s eighth-grade book — and exaggerate its influence, suggesting, as in Gujarat’s seventh-grade book, that “Aurangzeb’s narrow-minded policies were responsible for the end of the Mughal Empire.”
The truth is more complicated: as Audrey Truschke, an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University, writes in her recent book, Aurangzeb: The Life and Legacy of India’s Most Controversial King, Aurangzeb “employed more Hindus in his administration than any prior Mughal ruler by a substantial margin” and supported Hindu religious practices in numerous ways.
As Muslim rulers are diminished or vilified, so Hindu figures of the same period are inflated to majestic dimensions. The updates to the federal seventh-grade history book include the introduction of Maharana Pratap, a local ruler who “stood his ground” against the Mughals, and an expanded section on the warrior king Shivaji’s “career of conquest.”

The Rajasthan books use the more pungent phrase “foreign invaders” for the Mughals, but there is little evidence that most Indians saw them that way. In fact, during the armed struggle against the British in 1857, Hindu and Muslim rebel soldiers from all over India came to Delhi and proclaimed Bahadur Shah Zafar, the inheritor of the much-weakened Mughal Empire, the leader of their movement and the symbol of home rule.
The same tactics of selection and elision characterize the textbooks’ portrayal of the freedom movement. Mohandas Gandhi and Nehru are generally considered the most consequential figures of this period. Both, however, embody the “ancient palimpsest” view of Indian history that Hindutva seeks to eradicate.
The Gujarat and Rajasthan textbooks emphasize instead figures of notable “manliness,” such as Bhagat Singh, whose activities during the independence movement included killing a British policeman and bombing the Central Legislative Assembly of the British Empire. “The revolutionary martyrs wrote the history of Indian independence through their blood,” according to Rajasthan’s tenth-grade book — a rather far cry from Gandhian nonviolence.
https://www.counterview.net/2018/11/indias-rewritten-textbooks-talk-of.html

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India – The Group of Ministers (GoM) may review POSH act #MeToo

Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi. FileMinister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit:

WCD ministry has suggested changes

The Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted to examine sexual harassment at the workplace may consider amending the law against sexual harassment at workplaces, according to government sources.

The GoM headed by Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to meet soon, said a senior Home ministry official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The spokesperson of the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry said that with campaigning for Assembly elections in five states drawing to an end, members of the GoM would now be able to meet.

The WCD ministry has shared with the Home ministry a meeting agenda, which includes changes to the Sexual Harassment of Women and Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013, sources in the WCD ministry said.

“The agenda mentions lacunae in the law as well as suggests ways to improve it,” said a senior WCD ministry official, who did not wish to be identified. He added that the guiding principles for making the amendments would be the Vishaka guidelines.

The GoM includes Minister for Road Transport and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi.

Vishaka guidelines

The Vishaka Guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in 1997 lays the onus on the employer to prevent or deter acts of sexual harassment, apart from “providing resolution, settlement or prosecution of acts of sexual harassment.”

The Act lays down the duties of an employer: ensuring a safe working place, displaying penal consequences of sexual harassment, creating awareness, as well as facilitating an internal probe. The employer is liable to pay a fine of ₹50,000 if he fails to comply with the inquiry report submitted by an internal complaints committee or doesn’t report the number of cases in the annual report.

The Justice J. S. Verma panel had recommended an employment tribunal instead of an internal committee to probe complaints.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/metoo-gom-may-review-law/article25626091.ece?homepage=true

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World AIDS Day 2018: Theme, awareness , history, key facts

Do you know when the iconic red ribbon that represents fighting HIV/AIDS was conceptualised? Find out all about HIV/AIDS this World AIDS Day 2018.

1 in 4 people don't know they have HIV/AIDS. Know your risks=know your status. (World AIDS Day 2018 via WHO)

1 in 4 people don’t know they have HIV/AIDS. Know your risks=know your status. (World AIDS Day 2018 via WHO)

Today, that is December 1 2018, World Health Organisation (WHO) joins global partners and citizens to commemorate AIDS Day under the theme ‘Know Your Status’.

This is also an occasion to celebrate the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day — a pioneering global health campaign first initiated by WHO in 1988.

2 objectives of the theme of AIDS Day 2018

It is estimated that currently only 75 per cent of people with HIV know their status.

WHO advocacy and communication for World AIDS Day 2018 with the theme ‘Know Your Status’ aims to achieve the following objectives:

  • Urge people to know their HIV infection status through testing, and to access HIV prevention, treatment and care services
  • Urge policy-makers to promote a ‘health for all’ agenda for HIV and related health services, such as tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis and non-communicable diseases

7 SLOGANS ON AIDS DAY

1

“HIV does not make people dangerous to know, so you can shake their hands and give them a hug: Heaven knows they need it” -Princess Diana

2

One in four people with HIV don’t know they have it; know your risks= know your status

3

Prevention is better than cure; especially when something has no cure

4

The risk is not knowing; stop AIDS

5

Safe sex or no sex; it’s your life that’s at stake

6

Hate the disease, but not the diseased!

7

Are few minutes of unprotected thrills, worth a lifetime of pills?

History of World AIDS Day: A timeline

At the beginning of the 1980s, before HIV had been identified as the cause of AIDS, the infection was thought to only affect specific groups, such as gay men in developed countries and people who inject drugs.

The HIV virus was first isolated by Dr Francoise Barre-Sinoussi and Dr Luc Montagnier in 1983 at the Institut Pasteur.

In November that year, WHO held the first meeting to assess the global AIDS situation and initiated international surveillance.

With increasing awareness that AIDS was emerging as a global public health threat, the first International AIDS Conference was held in Atlanta in 1985.

MSF HIV

@MSF_HIV

MSF is gearing up for World Aids Day on 1 December. Our projects across the world are hosting events to highlight MSF’s work with people living with HIV. Follow us to find out how MSF is reflecting on the fight against HIV/AIDS

In 1988, two WHO communications officers, Thomas Netter and James Bunn, put forward the idea of holding an annual World AIDS Day, with the aim of increasing HIV awareness, mobilising communities and advocating for action worldwide.

It wasn’t until 1991 that the HIV movement was branded with the iconic red ribbon. This was the very first disease-awareness ribbon, a concept that would later be adopted by many other health causes.

Clinical trials of antiretrovirals (ARVs) began in 1985 — the same year that the first HIV test was approved — and the first ARV was approved for use in 1987.

By 1995, ARVs were being prescribed in various combinations.

Generic manufacturing of ARVs would only start in 2001 providing bulk, low-cost access to ARVs for highly affected countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where by 2000, HIV had become the leading cause of death.

Also read | Parliament passes the HIV/AIDS Bill: All you need to know

7 key facts on HIV/AIDS

1. HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 35 million lives so far.

2. In 2017, 9,40,000 people died from HIV-related causes globally.

3. There were approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2017 with 1.8 million people becoming newly-infected in 2017 globally.

4. The WHO African Region is the most affected region, with 25.7 million people living with HIV in 2017.

5. The African region also accounts for over two thirds of the global total of new HIV infections.

6. Key populations often have legal and social issues related to their behaviours that increase vulnerability to HIV and reduce access to testing and treatment programmes.

7. Between 2000 and 2017, new HIV infections fell by 36 per cent, and HIV-related deaths fell by 38 per cent with 11.4 million lives saved due to ART in the same period.

Every week, around 7000 young women aged 15–24 years become infected with HIV. In sub-Saharan Africa, three in four new infections are among girls who are twice as likely to be living with HIV than men.

On World AIDS Day 2018, UNAIDS is focusing on HIV testing. Testing for HIV allows you to seek HIV treatment if you are HIV-positive or to protect yourself if you are HIV-negative. Knowing your HIV status gives you the power to take control of your health and well-being.

HIV treatment, care, and support provide the means to scale up prevention of vertical transmission to the next generation, cut new infection rates and save the lives of mothers. HIV testing is usually the entry point for HIV prevention or treatment. Early detection of the HIV status of women will provide an opportunity to start antiretroviral drug treatment.

Due to the high risk of acquiring HIV during pregnancy, all pregnant women not living with HIV should be retested in the third trimester, during labour and/or during the postpartum period. Early treatment enables pregnant women to receive prompt antiretroviral treatment (ART) for themselves and early antiretroviral (ARV) prophylaxis to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV to their babies during pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding.

The risk of vertical transmission is particularly high if a woman acquires a new HIV infection, leading to high viral levels in her blood or milk while she is pregnant or breastfeeding. It is strongly recommended that all HIV-exposed infants have virological testing at 4-6 weeks or at the earliest opportunity thereafter. Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) of HIV infection is critical to ensure optimal treatment outcomes for children.

With no interventions, ~30-40% of infants born to HIV-positive mothers may be infected during pregnancy, birth, after birth, or during breastfeeding. Maternal/infant ARV regimens during pregnancy and breastfeeding greatly reduce vertical transmission of HIV. Postnatal transmission of HIV (i.e. through breastfeeding) can be further reduced to 0-1% if pregnant women living with HIV have access to effective lifelong  ART upon diagnosis.

Infant mortality in the first year is very high in untreated HIV-infected infants. HIV-exposed infants should get early HIV testing with prompt return of results, rapid initiation of treatment and receive continued breastfeeding in order to improve survival. Breastfeeding also protects against other frequent causes of preventable child mortality such as pneumonia, diarrhoeal diseases, and undernutrition.

Even when ARVs are not available, breastfeeding may still provide infants born to HIV-infected mothers with a greater chance of HIV-free survival. Mothers should be counselled to exclusively breastfeed in the first six months of life and continue breastfeeding thereafter unless environmental and social circumstances are safe for and supportive of replacement feeding.

The World Alliance of Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has published the second edition of the HIV Kit – Understanding International Policy on HIV and Breastfeeding. This comprehensive resource seeks to inform about the concepts and recommendations for dealing with infant feeding and HIV-free survival. The Kit was developed in close cooperation with international reviewers, and endorsed by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The complete Kit is now available online.

World AIDS Day 2018 reminds us to make HIV testing a priority. Early testing/detection of HIV will enable people to make informed decisions about breastfeeding in the context of HIV to ensure HIV-free survival.

References:

World AIDS Day: Know Your Status, UNAIDS, 2018

Understanding International Policy on HIV and Breastfeeding: a comprehensive resource, WABA June 2018

Fact sheet – Latest statistics on the status of the AIDS epidemic, UNAIDS July 2018

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Marathwada farmers harvest water in streams, reap rich yields #mustshare

Farmers in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra that is prone to droughts have made agriculture remunerative by harvesting rainwater in pond-like pockets in streams, leading to groundwater recharge

 

Falling in a rain shadow region, Jalna district in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra is prone to frequent droughts. Villages in Jalna have an annual rainfall between 600 mm and 700 mm. Villagers grow two crops a year, namely kharif and rabi crops.

Papal village in Jafrabad administrative block of Jalna has about 250 households and a population of about 1,500. A few decades ago, the government started supplying electricity to farmers, at a flat tariff. This enabled irrigation of the fields from existing open wells, prompting many villagers to dig wells.

Despite dug wells, insufficient rains made farming difficult for the villagers. They harvested whatever rains they received, in streams, through Doha model, thus recharging groundwater and making farming financially sustainable.

Loss-making agriculture

In spite of electricity connections, farmers still had difficulty in irrigation, due to unscheduled power cuts. “This created unnecessary pressure for the farmers, who were already grappling with regular dry spells,” Bhaurav Atapale from Akola Deo village told VillageSquare.in.

About 80% farmers in this hamlet had open wells in their fields. However, with scanty rainfall, the wells did not hold water for long. Droughts such as the one in 2012, made the situation worse.

Permeshwer Bobade recalled cultivating cotton and pigeon pea in the kharif season. “Irrigation was possible only from July to November,” Bobade told VillageSquare.in. Whatever crops he decided to grow in the rabi season was at the mercy of rains, despite having a 60 ft deep dug well in his land. His net returns from agriculture did not exceed Rs 25,000 a year.

Harvesting rainwater

Four years ago, Dilasa Sanstha, a non-profit organization, working to secure livelihoods of farmers by ensuring water availability, implemented Doha, a water harvesting concept in Papal village. The intervention involved digging streambeds, to create pond-like pockets within the streams.

Doha not only facilitates storage of large amount of rainwater in the streams, but also assists in recharging the groundwater. Doha has helped farmers in Papal reap better benefits from agriculture.

Doha intervention has improved water availability, minimising fetching of water from distant sources in bullock carts (Photo by Shashank Deora)

Digging pond-like pockets in streams has helped farmers in Marathwada store rainwater, thus recharging groundwater (Photo by Shashank Deora)

After the implementation of Doha, those who have their agriculture fields near the stream and own a well reported an increase in the water level of their wells. Water level in the wells is sufficient to irrigate till February as against earlier when the wells used to go dry in November or December.

Farmers from three other villages of Jalna district, where Doha model intervention was carried out, reported an increased volume of water available in their wells for irrigating their crops during rabi season.

Villagers in the vicinity of streams with Doha revealed that it has led to a reduction in the number of water tankers bringing potable water, as they now have water in the wells. Assured water availability has helped them enhance their fodder production and thus increasing their livestock.

Improved farm income

Permeshwer Bobade has modified his agricultural crop portfolio. Last year, he utilised only a fraction of his land for the crops he used to cultivate earlier. Except cotton, all crops are now primarily for home consumption. However, in the last two years, he has diversified into growing crops for commercial seed production.

He has also planted mulberry plants to practice sericulture. He now claims earning an annual net income of about Rs 350,000, from agriculture, including sericulture and commercial seed production. With the assured availability of fodder, he and his wife Vimal have bought some goats.

Permeshwer Bobade invests a large portion of his income in his children’s education. “My daughter is studying civil engineering and I want my son to pursue pharmacy so that he can open a medical shop in our area,” he said.

Irrespective of their differing ambitions, all the farmers having their fields near the streams said that Doha has benefited them.

Doha intervention has improved water availability, minimising fetching of water from distant sources in bullock carts (Photo by Shashank Deora)

Doha intervention has improved water availability, minimising fetching of water from distant sources in bullock carts (Photo by Shashank Deora)

Ankush Bobade said that his annual income from agriculture has more than doubled and now he earns about Rs 3,50,000. “My annual income used to be around Rs 20,000,” farmer Dagdubhau Shivsagar told VillageSquare.in. “Now I earn about Rs 110,000.” Other farmers too claimed of an increase in their income from agriculture.

Challenges

There are a few challenges associated with this intervention. One significant challenge is the lack of equity in distribution of water for irrigation. The intervention helps farmers having their agricultural fields near the stream. Farmers away from the stream are not able to reap its benefits, if they do not own a well near the stream.

For the said reason, even those farmers who have their fields near the stream, but do not own a well are unable to receive the irrigation benefits. Also, farmers having their fields upstream do not receive much of the benefits; it is the downstream farmers, close to the stream pockets that retain water post monsoon, who have the maximum benefit.

Way forward

The critical challenge of achieving equity in benefit distribution can be overcome with some regulation over the use of water and by setting it aside for those away from the stream. However, the preliminary requirement for any such provision to work is an understanding among the village community.

The community has to understand that by recharging groundwater, the intervention creates a community asset and not multiple individual assets, and therefore they must manage it collectively. Participatory irrigation management, through a group of farmers who can ensure judicious use of water from wells and can create some means to transport water to the farmers away from the stream may be a solution.

Taking water to the farmers upstream may require more efforts. Streams that have some water harvesting structure at their origin seemed to be more efficient in harvesting and recharging water, compared to those without such a structure.

A shallow pond was the most common harvesting structure. Such a structure will also allow the farmer upstream to reap irrigation benefits. A proposal to include such structures in the design advocates for a watershed approach – catching the water where it falls, from ridge to valley – rather than implementing different water harvesting structures in isolation.

Harvesting water through streams is a low-cost, local alternative to larger water harvesting structures. Implementing with suggested measures will ensure irrigation benefits to all, without any rifts.

Shashank Deora is a researcher at VikasAnvesh Foundation in Pune. 

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After Reporting Sexual Harassment, One Professor Found Herself Under Investigation

‘Things Got Out of Control’:

By Sarah Brown

On Wednesday, when a professor published a blog post with the title “Why I’m Firing Michigan State: Sexual Harassment, Online Harassment, and Utter Institutional Failure,” it evoked themes familiar to anyone who has followed the Larry Nassar sexual-abuse scandal over the past year.

Michigan State U.
At Michigan State U., a professor who reported being harassed by an associate dean said she then found herself under investigation for alleged research misconduct.

But the post, written by Joy L. Rankin, who was until recently an assistant professor at Michigan State, doesn’t just chronicle another case of misconduct on the East Lansing campus.

In the post, Rankin recounts a troubling series of events that she says led her to resign from the university, including a lengthy public takedown of her research by an independent historian, harassment complaints she filed against an associate dean, and a research-misconduct investigation that she alleges a Michigan State dean instigated in retaliation for those complaints.

The issues raised by the piece are legion: entrenched sexism in the academy, concerns about campus disciplinary processes and administrative retaliation, research methods, and what the scholarly study of history should look like.

It has also touched off a wave of support for Rankin among academics on Twitter, and prompted a heated response from the independent historian, Brian Dear, who initially took issue with Rankin’s research. Dear says her characterization of his criticism of her work as a personal attack is “horseshit.”

Rankin, meanwhile, said she had spoken out to call attention to pervasive harassment in the academy and the indifference of colleges that have incentives to protect themselves, not their professors and students.

The series of events in Rankin’s post involves multiple scholars and issues, a lot of allegations, and two starkly different sides of the story. Here is one day’s attempt to make sense of it all.

A 20-Minute Talk

It was the fall of 2016, just weeks into her first semester as a Michigan State professor, when the harassment started, Rankin said in an interview. “Initially, it was surreal,” she said. Much of her scholarly work concerns the dynamics of power, gender, and misogyny in the history of technology. “And here I am, being harassed by the associate dean.”

She filed a harassment complaint in December, once she felt it had escalated to the point of creating a hostile work environment. According to her, nothing much happened. She said she had to hire a lawyer and file a second complaint that spring before a full investigation took place.

In the meantime, Rankin gave a 20-minute talk at a conference in March 2017 about her research into gender roles and misogyny at an early computer network called Plato, a pre-internet platform created in the 1960s at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Some scholars at the conference praised her presentation on Twitter, and a video of her talkappeared on YouTube.

That’s where Brian Dear enters the picture. He isn’t a professor, but he is a longtime historian of Plato who has written a book about the computer network.

In May 2017, Dear published a 10,000-word blog post explaining why he thought Rankin’s research — as expressed in the video of the 20-minute talk — was “based on misunderstandings, historical errors, omissions, and confirmation bias, resulting in a general thesis that Plato was a horrible, woman-hating environment.” He also said he had talked to multiple women who used to work at Plato, were cited in Rankin’s research, but disagreed with her portrayal of its culture.

He then publicized his critique on an email list for the Special Interest Group on Computers, Information, and Society, or Sigcis. “It was not a personal attack,” he said in an interview. “It was a scholarly response to an extremely questionable piece of research, and it needed to be said.”

That’s not how Rankin saw it. Not only did Dear unfairly criticize how professional historians like her go about their scholarly pursuits, she said, but he propagated “a purposeful misunderstanding of my work that also made it an attack on me — and he made it very public.”

Her conference presentation, she said, explored complaints about sexism at Plato that she had uncovered while doing research for her book, A People’s History of Computing in the United States (Harvard University Press, 2018); it wasn’t yet a fully cooked academic paper. “In the humanities, conference talks are often tentative works,” she wrote in her post.

In the days after Dear promoted his post on the Sigcis email list, several scholars defended Rankin; one called Dear’s post a “screed.” Marie Hicks, an associate professor of history at the Illinois Institute of Technology who is also a vice chair of the group, wrote to the list: “Joy’s whole point is that this history has been suppressed. She is trying to correct the record and enhance our understanding.”

Nabeel Siddiqui, an academic-technology consultant at the University of Richmond who researches new media and the digital humanities, said he didn’t think Dear’s post had scholarly merit: “He didn’t have a grasp of historical research methods.” Dear’s efforts to go out of his way to undermine her work, he added, were definitely harassment.

At least one professor backed Dear’s critique and said he “did not just dash off a dismissal but addressed in detail what he sees as its shortcomings, with citations and quotations.”

As May turned to June, Rankin was continuing to grapple with the fiery debate over her presentation, and her harassment case against the associate dean was getting underway. Then she got some surprising news from Michigan State’s research-integrity officer: She was under investigation herself. For research misconduct.

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A Complaint From ‘Faculty’

Elizabeth H. Simmons, then dean of one of the Michigan State colleges that Rankin was affiliated with, is the next academic player to appear in Rankin’s narrative. Simmons had brought the research-misconduct complaint against her based on Dear’s public takedown of her conference talk, Rankin said.

Simmons is now executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of California at San Diego. In a written statement provided by the San Diego university, Simmons said she had simply followed campus policies.

“The allegations of research misconduct were brought to my attention by faculty in the college.  Due to the ongoing Title IX investigation with Dr. Rankin as a complainant and me as a respondent, I consulted with the Office of General Counsel. They advised that I was obligated, as an officer of the university, to forward the allegations to Michigan State University’s research integrity officer for an impartial investigation, which I did.”

Rankin, on the other hand, saw something potentially retaliatory in Simmons’s intentions. The associate dean she had reported for harassment worked for Simmons. The primary grounds for bringing the investigation was Dear’s personal blog post, which seemed suspicious. She also said Simmons never talked with her before filing the complaint.

“After her many years as a physicist and administrator, Simmons surely knew that a research-misconduct allegation was so serious and toxic that any junior scholar would be stunned or shamed into self-protective silence,” Rankin wrote in her blog post. “Which would make it all the more effective as retaliation.”

It was notable, she said, that another dean took a very different view of the situation. She said Sherman W. Garnett, who leads the other Michigan State college that Rankin was affiliated with, wrote a letter to the provost, the general counsel, and the research-integrity officer “emphasizing how problematic MSU’s pursuit of such an allegation was for any scholar working in the humanities or social sciences.”

Rankin said Garnett read her the letter over the phone in August 2017. He didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Chronicle.

Who was the “faculty in the college” who had brought the allegations to Simmons’s attention? Rankin said she doesn’t know. But she said it was C.K. Gunsalus who had tipped that person off.

Gunsalus is director of the National Center for Professional and Research Ethics at the Illinois flagship. Decades ago, she had worked for Plato. Dear said he had contacted Gunsalus after viewing Rankin’s conference talk about misogyny at Plato and asked what she thought of it.

In an interview Gunsalus said her experiences at Plato didn’t line up with the rampant sexism that Rankin was describing. She said a number of other people shared her concerns.

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As Rankin tells it, Gunsalus “verbally complained about my talk to someone at MSU” and then “repeatedly emailed MSU” using her university address, even though she was “not acting in a professional — or ethical — capacity when she complained about my conference talk.” She described what both Gunsalus and Dear had done as typical tactics for harassing scholars.

“What happened to me — in terms of having someone who is not an academic, or someone who is inflamed or incensed by the research that I or others have done, then complains to a university about it — it’s something that is a known issue in universities,” Rankin said.

Gunsalus wouldn’t confirm that she had complained to a Michigan State faculty member about Rankin’s work. But she said she had told a Michigan State official during the investigation that she didn’t believe it was a research-misconduct matter at all.

She also expressed sympathy about Rankin’s harassment case: “I feel bad for what it sounds like she went through. I have no desire to harm her.”

‘Not Safe on Multiple Levels’

What can be made of this tangle of allegations and investigations and scholarly scuffles? It’s not clear. Ultimately, the Michigan State associate dean wasn’t found responsible for harassment. And Rankin was cleared of research misconduct. She wrote in her post that the university “refused to investigate Simmons’s research-misconduct allegation against me as retaliation.”

A Michigan State spokeswoman offered this statement on Rankin’s harassment complaints: “In this case, the employee appropriately reported the incidents to the Office of Institutional Equity, which is charged with the responsibility of conducting investigations.”

In May 2017, after Dear shared his criticism of Rankin’s research and scholars began writing heated replies, the Sigcis email list was shut down for three months. “The list basically erupted after Brian’s post,” said Andrew L. Russell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute and chair of the group. “Things got out of control.” He and others then put in place some basic policies for the list about tone and values.

Sigcis also banned Dear from the list for six months and said he would be reinstated only after he apologized to Rankin and “conveyed to us that he understood the harm his behavior had caused.” He hasn’t apologized, Russell said, so he’s still banned.

Dear, for his part, said that he had been removed from the list with “no due process,” and that he “had absolutely nothing to do with this MSU stuff.” He believes Rankin twisted together two situations — her sexual-harassment case and the criticism of her research — in a way that is “very misleading.”

“I have no interest in hurting anyone’s career. My only interest is in facts about Plato history,” he said. He said he plans to respond at length to Rankin’s criticism of him — which he calls “libelous” — in a future blog post. “It will probably be 20,000 words long.”

Rankin said it was the accumulation of dealing with the harassment case and what she describes as a lack of support from Michigan State that led her to finally leave her faculty position. “I will say, I recognize that there are individuals within MSU, there are people who are trying to effect change from within,” she said. “But I felt like I was not safe on multiple levels.”

With her blog post, she said she wanted to send a message to graduate students and junior faculty members about what online harassment tactics can look like and how damaging they can be — and to administrators that they need to be aware of such tactics.

She’s not yet sure what she’ll do next. “To me,” she said, “it wasn’t worth hanging onto a tenure-track position just to have a tenure-track position.”

https://www.chronicle.com/article/Things-Got-Out-of/245212

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