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Archives for : Advocacy

A better life outside India

In New India, unity hides in a cast-iron statue, its syncretic history compressed in a structure that’s only 183m tall

Priya Ramani

Seventeen million people opted out of India just last year. Photo: iStock

Seventeen million people opted out of India just last year. Photo: iStock

You’ve probably been part of a wishful drawing room conversation discussing how the time may have come to leave India and seek a better life elsewhere. Like me, you might even know someone who has left or is due to leave soon. Maybe you are one of those parents who urge their children graduating in international universities to stay put and not be in a hurry to rush back home.

There are enough reasons to leave if you have the resources or the opportunity. In New India, unity hides in a cast-iron statue, its syncretic history compressed in a structure that’s only 183m tall. From dystopian bovine-related lynchings and other targeted hate crimes to air pollution—that murderous equalizer that doesn’t care about your religion, caste, gender, economic background or political affiliation—there are an increasing number of threats your privilege can’t protect you from. Jobs are scarce, and the incidence of cancer is rising alarmingly.

It’s no wonder that 17 million people opted out of India just last year—and this during a time when the migration of our unskilled workers fell by 25%, according to the Asian Development Bank’s Asian Economic Integration Report 2018. We topped the list of people leaving their countries—China was a distant second at around 10 million.

In recent months, human rights activists have been jailed, elected representatives spew hate speech and any dissent is labelled anti-national. An anti-establishment Facebook post could always get you jail time in India, but now even forwarding a WhatsApp meme against the prime minister can result in an arrest. Once we reacted to such news with outrage, now we shrug.

It’s clear to everyone that politics will just get uglier before the 2019 general election. You are at an additional disadvantage if you are a religious minority, woman, Dalit or even the parent of a young child who has a one in two chance of encountering sexual abuse. It’s no wonder people are saying bye.

As we found out earlier this year, an Antiguan passport can be had for ₹1.3 crore and a handful of other Caribbean destinations are quite competitively priced. While the US, UK, Canada and Australia have been favourite migration options for Indians for as long as I can remember, countries such as Belgium, Sweden and Norway are making it to our list too, according to a report in The Times Of India that quotes ministry of external affairs statistics for 2017.

For young professionals, a better quality of life at these last three destinations is just an airplane ride away. In January, my neighbours Astrid and D, both 32, will leave for Gothenburg, Sweden, where D has found a job as a project manager. They’ve been thinking of moving for the last three-four years, largely because of health and safety reasons and because of an increasing awareness of their religious minority status.

“I’ve never had asthma but these past few years every couple of months I’ve had terrible attacks. The moment I leave Bangalore I’m fine,” says Astrid. Additionally, she says, tracking India’s rape culture has terrified her so much she has stopped her newspaper subscription. “I don’t feel safe here. I love wearing dresses and little shorts but I don’t feel comfortable wearing them here. I even carry a stole every time I wear anything sleeveless and the moment I feel someone staring, I cover up. I realize that I’m changing,” she says, adding that she’s linked her Ola and Uber apps to her husband’s so he knows every time she takes a cab. “We are Catholics and both of us feel like foreigners in our own country.”

When they tried out the Swedish experiment earlier this year, they found they missed nothing about Bengaluru except their families and a few close friends. “Many Indians tell us we will find it difficult to adjust but in our minds we are like, ‘no we fit in really, really well. It’s here that we find it difficult to adjust’,” says Astrid, who’s learning to cycle before she leaves. The couple also plans to learn Swedish so their new country of residence is an easier fit.

Which brings us to the question that’s hanging over many of our heads these days. Why do those of us who can leave, stay? Maybe we stay for those who can’t leave—our parents, our grandparents, or even friends who might need our help if things get worse. Maybe we want to fight for what we believe is our idea of India. Or maybe it’s more selfish. Maybe we stay because we know we won’t be able to exploit household staff in Europe, or because we know that there will be no one to fetch us a glass of water every time we holler. Maybe we stay because it’s easier to carry the burden of slurs such as urban Naxal and anti-national than racial slurs we are likely to face elsewhere. Maybe we are still here because the world is increasingly being ruled by quasi fascists. Here at least, we are boss of our own backyard.

Maybe we stay because we feel like there’s no place like India, even if what we call India is essentially the beautiful bubble we’ve created for ourselves. My bubble, for instance, has blue skies, great weather, wide pavements, amaltas and gulmohur. I work from home so my bubble is traffic free. We reside in a mixed neighbourhood and my bubble is largely harmonious; my daughter’s two best friends are Muslim and Christian.

Sure we shake with rage and despair every time we sneak a peek out of our bubble, but maybe that’s not enough to start from scratch someplace else. Maybe we stay because despite everything, this is home.

Priya Ramani shares what’s making her feel angsty/agreeable. 

https://www.livemint.com/Home-Page/QJS9YRs2EXOCALp0fdhb4M/Opinion–A-better-life-outside-India.html

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Mahul Residents form 3km long Human Chain #MumbaisToxicHell

After the massive gherao, Housing Minister fixed meeting with Mahul residents
      Mumbai:  Hundreds of residents of Mahul gathered today, on the 15th day of their protest to form a human chain and capture the attention of Maharashtra Govt towards the plight of over 30,000 citizens who had been rehabilitated in mahul last year. The human chain which spread over 3 Km had participation from over thousands of citizens. Many people from other slums in Mumbai also joined in solidarity. Many students from colleges like Mumbai University, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, IIT Bombay, Nirmala Niketan, Democratic and progressive Organizations, NGOs and individuals also joined to extend their support.
The Human Chain was followed by a massive rally which culminated at the resident of state housing Minister, Shri. Prakash Mehta. After much of negotiation, the Minister called Ms. Medha Patkar who was present in the rally and promised to meet a delegation of Mahul residents in Mantralaya tomorrow afternoon.
       It has been 15 days since the Mahul residents started the protest but have not received anything other than irresponsible comments and false promises from the govt officials and ministers. The Minister for Housing Department, Prakash Mehta has refused to intervene in the matter or take responsibility. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has refused to acknowledge the issue or pleas of Mahul residents. For Mahul residents, today’s human chain signified to show their unity and resolve to fight till all the demands are met.
      The citizens started their protest under the banner of ‘Jeevan Bachao Andolan’ on 28th October 2018, after the govt failed to act on the directions of Bombay High Court, given out in August 2018, asking the Govt to provide alternative rehabilitation to the people living in Mahul. Mahul, which is one of the most polluted region in Mumbai and rightly called ‘Mumbai’s Toxic Hell’ has been made into a rehabilitation space for thousands of citizens by the Slum rehabilitation Authority (SRA), even after the National green Tribunal (NGT) declaring it as ‘inhabitable’.  All families staying in Mahul have reported deaths and continued illnesses like TB, Cancer, tumors etc  among their family members since they started living there.  Over 100 people have already lost their life while living in Mahul. The people have termed this as a mass genocide by the govt.
       On 8th of August, 2018, the Bombay High Court has directed the Govt. of Maharashtra to either relocate the Mahul resident by giving them alternate accommodation or given them enough rent so that the people can go to a safer place of their choice. The Court had set a deadline of 1st October, 2018 for the Government to take a decision between the two opt.
      The Govt of Maharashtra submitted in the Court that it is not possible for the Govt. to provide any alternative accommodation nor it can give rent to the people. In other words Govt. shrug off its responsibility to save 30,000 lives. On the issue of providing alternative tenements, the Govt. said that they don’t have tenements to be given to Mahul residents. As far as giving rent is concerned the Govt simply said that it is impossible to give rent without giving any reason.
        GBGBA has a list of more 80,000 tenements which are meant for Project Affected Person and are located at different location within Mumbai. This is something which they are suggesting as a solution for relocation of Mahul residents on an urgent basis.
       The residents of Mahul left with no option but to literally come on street to save their lives when they found that the Govt. has taken off its hand from the matter. They got terrified with the increasing rate of deaths and people suffering from serious diseases. Hence, the Jeevan Bachao Andolan under the auspices of Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan was launched on 28th October, 2018
       On the third day of the JBA, GBGBA’s proposal to provide alternative accommodation got partial approval when Shiv Sena, the coalition partner in the Maharashtra govt. decided to come in support of the movement. On insistence of party’s youth wing president, Mr. Aditya Thackrey, the MLA and newly appointed Chairman of MHADA offered all the 300 empty lying tenements available with MHADA.
     While the BJP having all the portfolios in the government to take final decision on the issues is being completely mum, the Shiv Sena is going out of the way to resolve the issue by coordinating with other housing agencies to find out more PAP tenements on the lines suggested by GBGBA.
      The Mahul residents have decided to not take back their movement which they have started to save their lives, until they get confirmation of safe housing to each family living in Mahul. 300 houses is like a cumin seed in camel’s mouth against the demand of around 5,500 houses

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CDRO strongly condemns the killings in Tinsukia  

It’s the poor who die in the games of politics by the powerful:

The killing of five working class Bengali people in Dhola, Tinsukia, Assam on 1st November 2018 is a bone-chilling reminder of a gory past of spiralling death and violence in the state. Such violence in the wake of the heated public debates on identity and rights around the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, risks a worsening of the climate, which the long-suffering common people of the state do not deserve. While the initial speculation about the involvement of ULFA (I) has cleared after the organisation denied any role, in the context of hateful comments in the recent past from both Bengali and Assamese leaders in the state, speculations and counter-speculations based on various facts have emerged. The civil society and various groups in Assam must show restraint at this hour and not in any way aggravate the already volatile situation. The Sarbananda Sonowal led BJP government in Assam must own up its failure to maintain peace and security in the state.

CDRO condemns this violence in strongest terms and demands that there should be an impartial judicial inquiry into the killings on a time-bound manner. In the meanwhile we appeal to all sections in Assam to maintain peace. The common people have been sufferers long enough in the games of politics by the powerful, and do not deserve any more.

 

 

On behalf of CDRO,

Asish Gupta,Coordinator.

 

Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep(Delhi).

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Noura Hussein is appealing for her freedom in Sudan #JusticeForNoura


Six months later, still no #JusticeForNoura

It has now been six months to the day since Noura Hussein was sentenced to death in an Sudanese Court for defending herself against rape. While the initial sentence was quashed thanks to an appeal, which reduced her sentence to five years in prison and a restitution payment of 337,000 Sudanese pounds (US $18,700), we remain concerned by her ongoing imprisonment.

We continue to believe that Noura is not a criminal, she is a victim – and should be treated as such. In other countries, victims of rape and domestic violence like Noura would be provided services to ensure that they overcome the trauma of their experiences.

A second appeal for her unconditional freedom was filed in July, but on Thursday the 2nd August, her appeal was withdrawn under suspicious circumstances.

Since then Noura’s case has not progressed nor the circumstances of the withdrawal addressed. The lack of clarity on how to proceed is a clear abuse of Noura’s right to access justice.

We need your help to tell the Sudanese authorities that Noura deserves basic access to justice. Join us in our call on the Sudanese Minister for Justice and the Attorney General to ensure Noura’s case is treated fairly.

In addition to taking action yourself, you can help by spreading the word on social media.

Public attention may have turned away from Noura’s case, but we will not!

#JusticeForNoura

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Condemning the Continuing Violence by CPI (Maoist) in the Name of Election Boycott

 

 

People’s Union for Democratic Rights condemns series of incidents triggered by members of CPI(Maoist) in Bastar Sambhag (region) of Chhattisgarh in just over a fortnight.

·         November 8: Four civilians and one CISF Head constable were killed when an IED (improvised explosive device) exploded in a bus hired by CISF for their use during the election, near Bacheli in Dantewada. Two other CISF personnel were grievously injured.  

·         November 7: A former Sarpanch and a local member of CPI Dhurva Kalmu, out on election campaign, was killed in Bodko village under PS Phoolanbagdi, Dantewada.

·         November 6: A bus carrying passengers on its way between Jagdalpur and Usoor was intercepted. The 35 passengers were asked to get off and the bus was set on fire.

·         November 4: Two persons, Aaytu Hemla and Sonu Penam were abducted near Baddepara village, under P.S. Gangaloor. Aaytu Hemla was beaten to death while Sonu Penam was released. 

·         October 30: Doordarshan camera person Achyutnanda Sahu and Sub Inspector Rudra Pratap, Constable Manglu and Assistant Constable Rakesh Gautam died in an ambush in Aranpur sector of Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh.

Although the Maoists have apologized for the killing of Doordarshan cameraman, they have defended the ambush, the IED explosion as well as the killings of Aaytu Hemla and Dhruva Kalmu. While it is not possible to ascertain the degree of association of these events with the upcoming Assembly elections and the Maoist opposition to the same, these events have occurred in the immediate run up to these elections.

PUDR finds the Maoist defense specious and unacceptable. PUDR holds that contesting, campaigning, voting and boycotting are perfectly legitimate political activities and the use of force and violence in any of these is condemnable. For the Maoists who insist that they are waging a People’s War, these violent acts water down their claim.

For long years the Adivasis of Bastar have been fighting the state over issues of forest land acquisition for mining, systematic dilution of constitutional and legal protection provided to Adivasis, filing of false cases and their prolonged incarceration in jails. The democratic space to raise these issues has already been heavily criminalized by the state. In this context, the wanton acts of the CPI (Maoist) give impetus to the state to further inflict harm through criminal and military means.

The war being waged in Bastar by the Central and state governments against the CPI Maoist is now in its 14th year. According to a recent news report, “the CRPF has deployed close to a lakh armed personnel and a heavy assortment of weapons and gadgets” in a bid to end Maoism in the country.” (PTI, September 2, 2018).This scale of militarisation is not conducive for the maintenance of people’s constitutional rights, including the right to free and fair elections.

PUDR hopes that saner counsel will prevail, and that at the very minimum both sides will abide by norms of International Humanitarian Law extended via common article 3 of the Geneva Convention read with Protocol II to ensure that civilians/noncombatants are not put to harm by any of their activities.

 

Shahana Bhattacharjee and Sharmila Purkayastha

Secretaries PUDR

www.pudr.org

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US’ youngest Congresswoman-elect can’t afford rent

Millennial congresswoman ‘can’t afford rent’

Alexandria Ocasio-CortezImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez

The youngest woman ever elected to Congress has a problem – she can’t afford her rent. That is until she starts her new job in January.

After telling the New York Times she’s waiting for her first pay cheque before renting an apartment in Washington DC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is again being called the “millennial Congresswoman”.

On Friday Fox News presenter Ed Henry suggested the 29-year-old wasn’t telling the full truth because she wore “multi-thousand dollar outfits” in a magazine.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, pointing out the clothes were lent to her for the photo shoot.

Her comments – “I’ve really been just kind of squirreling away and then hoping that gets me to January” – got many on Twitter empathising with her.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez not being able to afford DC rent is the most millennial thing ever and I honestly vibe with it,” tweeted one user.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez joins Republican Elise Stefanik, 34, and newly-elected Democrat Ilhan Omar, 36, among others, in the “millennial caucus” in Congress.

She was elected to New York’s 14th congressional district, after running a progressive campaign that focused on issues including poverty, wealth inequality and immigration.

Born in the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, she describes herself as working-class and she worked in restaurants until early 2018 to supplement her salary as a community activist.

“For 80% of this campaign, I operated out of a paper grocery bag hidden behind that bar,” she told Bon Appetit magazine.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez’s financial disclosure shows that she earned about $26,500 (£20,000) last year.

On Thursday she tweeted that her accommodation dilemma also demonstrates how the American electoral system “isn’t designed for working-class people to lead”.

Others on Twitter agreed: “Goes to show how divorced the system and most elected officials are from normal people that a normal person can’t readily begin to serve without starting out wealthy,” wrote one.

“That’s reality for a lot of people. Will be nice to have someone in Congress that literally understands the struggle,” commented @Lauralouisiana.


 


But Ms Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the first lawmaker coming to Congress to make waves about the high rent in the city.

Washington DC regularly features in the list of top 10 most expensive cities to rent. A one-bedroom apartment costs about $2,160 (£1,660) per month, according to Business Insider.

One in five children in the district live in a household that is extremely low-income and lacks an affordable home.

Housing affordability is an issue nationwide. More than 38 million households struggle to afford their housing, one Harvard report found.

Image captionA well-located, one-bedroom apartment in the capital can cost $2,160 per month

Members of Congress are paid $174,000 (£134,000), but many cite the need to maintain a home in their congressional district in addition to Washington as a reason for their financial hardship.

In 2015 Representative Kristi Noem told NPR that she sleeps on a pullout bed in her Capitol Hill office when Congress is in session.

The ‘couch caucus’ has made headlines over the years in its criticisms of the unaffordability of Washington, including outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, who says he slept in his office for years.

Estimates have put the number of politicians snoozing where they work at between 40 and 50.

In May legislation banning the practice was proposed in the House of Representatives, and suggested that lawmakers should receive tax deductions for their living expenses while in Washington.

Some get around the problem by finding housemates.

One famous house-share saw numerous Democrats coming and going over the years, including senators Richard Durbin and Charles Schumer, and became the topic of the 2013 TV series Alpha House about four fictional Republican politicians.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez has allayed her followers’ worries, tweeting “don’t worry btw – we’re working it out”.

House-sharing into her thirties would certainly make the politician the bona fide millennial.

By Georgina Rannard, UGC & Social news

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India – Virat Kohli’s peremptory demand for patriotism

Virat Kohli’s willingness to police the patriotic credentials of the cricketing public is part of a larger culture of thin-skinned entitlement

By Mukul Kesavan
Virat Kohli at a practice session at Eden Gardens, CalcuttaThe Telegraph file picture

Virat Kohli is old enough to know better. He is thirty years old, a modern great, one of the richest sportsmen in the world and the captain of the Indian cricket team. And yet, a few days ago, he chose to release a video for his online app where he picked on a desi fan who was sceptical of the quality of Indian batsmen, Kohli included, and declared that he preferred batsmen from other Test-playing countries. Kohli’s response was to say, on camera, that he was okay with the fan’s preferences but if that’s how he felt, he didn’t understand why he lived in India; he ought to live elsewhere, presumably in the country to which his batting heroes belonged.

This didn’t go down well. Instead of hosannas of praise for this piece of casual rabble-rousing, fans and commentators pushed back. Aakash Chopra predicted that Kohli wouldn’t be proud of his choice of words in retrospect and Harsha Bhogle saw the tone-deaf comment as a symptom of the self-affirming bubble in which celebrities live, which insulated them from the diversity of the real world. This is why, Bhogle suggested, “… contrary opinions are frowned upon. Power and fame tend to attract those people who agree with you and reinforce your opinion because they benefit from proximity to fame and power.”

Bhogle spoke from experience. Two years ago, he was abruptly shut out of commentary contracts. During the World T20 tournament in 2016, that noted cricket analyst, Amitabh Bachchan, deplored the lack of patriotism amongst Indian commentators. Bachchan came to this conclusion because he felt they spent too much time praising foreign players: “fed up ho gaye yaar” he tweeted, in his best blokeish manner, “jab dekho unki tareef karte rehte hain”. When, Kohli’s predecessor, M.S. Dhoni, retweeted Bachchan’s complaint and glossed it with “Nothing to add”, it became obvious that he shared Bachchan’s grouse. Kohli’s willingness to police the patriotic credentials of India’s cricketing public is part, then, of a larger culture of thin-skinned entitlement.

Part of the reason for this recent recourse to ready-mix chauvinism is that it is a force-multiplier in the online world. There was a time when the thoughts of India’s cricketers on the game and the world weren’t so available because in the pre-digital world, active sportsmen didn’t, as a rule, editorialise. But in the digital world, a celebrity’s social media presence is crucial to his visibility, his influence, his endorsements, his revenues and his connection to his public. Kohli’s tweets, his videos and his app nurture his persona; they are, if you like, his version of the prime minister’s Mann ki Baat.

We have seen other cricketers like Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir build their online constituencies on a reputation for reliably calling out ‘anti-national’ eruptions in the world around them. Their Twitter followers number in the millions; not only can these numbers be monetised (into advertising revenues), they are also useful groundwork for possible careers in public life. In a way that Donald Trump has made familiar, social media accounts and digital apps are ways of driving traffic and capturing a news cycle: every unfiltered, provocative, drum-beating intervention helps its author trend, makes him, for that moment, a master of the interwebs. You would have thought that Dhoni, Kohli, Sehwag and Co. would be surfeited by celebrity, but Modi and Trump have taught us that visibility is everything: ‘I trend, therefore I am’.

Kohli’s bid to challenge the patriotism of his critics, Dhoni’s willingness to reduce cricket commentary to mindless pandering, is wrong-headed for any number of reasons. It is, to start with, stupidly narcissistic. Kohli said what he did because he is a great batsman. Had he picked on a desi fan who said that he preferred Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander to Indian seamers, his response would have been self-evidently daft. Take spin bowling. I, and every other Indian cricket fan with half a brain, knew that Muttiah Muralitharan was twice the bowler that Harbhajan Singh was and no one suggested we were unpatriotic for thinking that. Kohli isn’t making a general point; he’s making a pointedly personal one. Worship me, he’s saying, because I’m arguably the best batsman in the world and if you can’t do that much, you’re a self-hating desi who doesn’t deserve to live in India.

The other problem with this peremptory demand for patriotism is that it is one thing to unconditionally support a cricket team when it’s an underdog, as India used to be in the Sixties and Seventies, up against better organised, better funded, more gifted teams, and quite another to demand unthinking loyalty when India is the 800 lb gorilla of world cricket, led by an all-powerful board and represented by the best-paid cricketers in the world. Bishan Bedi tells of a Test against New Zealand which his team won in four days; they were rewarded by being docked the 250 rupees they would have been paid as daily allowance for the fifth day because the Test didn’t go the distance. With great power comes great responsibility and it’s reasonable for an Indian spectator to rate A.B. de Villiers the better player because, other things being equal, he prefers his on-field demeanour to Kohli’s effing and blinding. Come to think of it, Kohli could render great patriotic service to his female compatriots if, the next time he vented, he forbore from machoing and panchoing in deference to the Indian mothers and sisters who make up half of India’s cricketing public.

Many of the responses to Kohli’s video made the point that it was absurd for a man who endorses foreign cars, prefers Italian locations for his wedding and more generally lives the life of the roving cosmopolitan to hector others for their sporting preferences. If Kohli prefers German carmakers and Italian hoteliers, why shouldn’t Indian cricket fans prefer Australian batsmen? It’s a clever comeback but it isn’t a good argument. People recognise that cars and hotels are things, not national symbols. They can be, of course, which is why the US president rides an American-brand car, but for the most part in a market society, they are seen as commodities that can be neutrally consumed.

Kohli is guilty of excessive pride, not hypocrisy. He has confused being the captain of the Indian cricket team with being Captain India. He believes that unconditional admiration for him is a necessary condition for being a patriotic Indian. The truth is that the very notion of an ‘Indian’ cricket team is possible only because Indians over a century and a half ago fought to imagine themselves into a united nation. It wasn’t given to us; generations of Indians dreamt it into being. In that sense, the profile of the Indian cricket team and the stature of its captain are figments of the Indian public’s collective imagination. It’s not for Kohli to demand its allegiance or certify its patriotism; it is this cricketing public’s prerogative to extend or withhold its support. It can choose, should it find cause, to stop believing in Kohli and his team, in the way that the Australian public chose to withdraw its faith in and support for Steven Smith and his cheating men.

Smith’s fate is (or ought to be) a cautionary tale. When a cricketer becomes a law unto himself, as Kohli has, with a tame board and a pliant manager, he tends to mistake his social media echo-chamber for the world. The ancients had a word for this: hubris. Luckily, Kohli seems to have been shocked into self-awareness by the pushback so nemesis might yet be forestalled. He backed away with a disarming tweet: “I guess trolling isn’t for me guys, I’ll stick to getting trolled!” The next step would be to get off his hillock of self-esteem, back on to level ground: those twenty-two yards of turf that are the firm foundation of his fame.

[email protected]

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Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections 2018: I have not retired from politics, says Soni Sori

MORE-IN

Tribal activist explains why she is not contesting this time.

Soni Sori, a teacher, who became the visible face of victims of brutal custodial torture in Chhattisgarh, has emerged as a key tribal voice in Dantewada. Though she was defeated in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Ms. Sori has decided to stay away from the Assembly polls, but not because peace has come to Bastar.

Before the 2014 Lok Sabha election, you joined the Aam Aadmi Party to contest. But this time you have stayed away from the Assembly polls…

I was always little unsure about joining politics and fighting elections. But it was explained to me by many that I should join as at that time [2014] it was a question of my security. I was planning to return to the State and there were severe threats. So I took the AAP offer to contest so that I could be provided some security.

AAP has not renewed its offer this time?

It did. In fact they were forcing me to contest but I decided not to. I thought of generally staying at home and working with girls here.

Why? Have the problems of the tribal people in south Chhattisgarh been addressed and thus you do not need to go the Assembly to highlight the issues?

This question is often asked. But I may need some time to decide.

You met Rahul Gandhi. Did he ask you to join the Congress and contest?

He told me that their door is open for me and I can join any time. I met P.L. Punia (in charge of the Congress in Chhattisgarh) also and he said the same thing.

Somehow, it seems from outside that Bastar is more peaceful now. Is that a reason you are not too keen to contest?

It is not at all correct to say that the situation is peaceful in Bastar. Tribal people are tortured and jailed as they used to be over the years. You may say (in one go) 10 to 12 people used to be killed when S.R.P. Kalluri was the Inspector-General of Police in Bastar. It has reduced a little — may be not 10 or12 but two or three are killed. So we can’t say Bastar is peaceful. Even those who participated in Salwa Judum against the tribal people are suffering… The situation is far from normal. But regarding my participation … maybe, I need little time.

You are supporting girls who have been tortured and displaced, but you have no financial support. If the State government comes forward, will you talk to them?

I can talk to anyone if they are willing to talk on any issue.

Will you be contesting the Lok Sabha election?

I have not retired from politics and will decide on the basis of the situation…at that point.

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U.P -Woman Killed For Objecting To Co-Passenger Smoking In Train #WTFnews

On Friday night, Chinat Devi, was travelling with her family in the general bogey of Punjab-Bihar Jallianwala Express when she objected to a co-passenger, identified as Sonu Yadav, smoking.

Pregnant Woman Killed For Objecting To Co-Passenger Smoking In Train

The accused was arrested and the body was sent for post-mortem. (Representational)

SHAHJAHANPUR, UTTAR PRADESH: 

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. After an argument, the co-passenger attacked and strangled the women
  2. The woman and her family were on their way to Bihar
  3. The train was stopped at UP and the woman was rushed to a hospital

25-Yr-Old Abused & Kicked Her Several Times, Arrested

Shahjahanpur:

A 45-yearold woman was allegedly beaten to death by an inebriated man inside the general coach of Jallianwala Bagh Express on Saturday after she objected to his smoking. The woman, Chinta Devi, was allegedly kicked several times and pushed by 25-yearold Sonu Yadav, who also hurled abuses at her, even as scores of passengers looked on. She died of internal injuries following which the accused was booked under IPC’s section 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder) and sent to jail.

Government Railway Police SHO Piyush Dikshit told TOI, “The accused, a resident of Rajapatti village in Azamgarh district of UP, has been arrested and sent to jail.”

The woman was travelling from Punjab to Bihar to celebrate Chhath festival when she got into an argument with Yadav somewhere between Bareilly and Shahjahanpur junctions. She was accompanied by two of her sons, both in their twenties, who tried to rush to their mother’s aid during the scuffle but were unable to navigate their way to her as the coach was packed.

The victim, a resident of Rohtas district in Bihar, worked in a private factory in Jalandhar. On Friday evening, she boarded the train with her sons Rahul, Ranjeet and daughter-in-law Babita. While the two men occupied some space near the door of the crowded compartment, Chinta Devi and Babita were seated inside. Yadav, their copassenger, lit several cigarettes during the night despite objections from passengers. In the early hours of Saturday, when he tried to smoke another cigarette, Chinta Devi asked him to stop smoking.

Angered at this, Yadav allegedly pushed her and then kicked her several times, making her lose consciousness. Some passengers then caught hold of Yadav and thrashed him. One of the sons pulled the chain and informed a guard about the incident.

The train was stopped at Shahjahanpur where the accused was taken into custody and the victim was taken to hospital where doctors declared her dead.

Doctors said that the woman had broken rib, bones and ruptured heart.

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U.S. politician Padma Kuppa Endorses Criminalizing Conversion in India

Newly-Elected Padma Kuppa Endorses Criminalizing Conversion in India

Admin | On 07, Nov 2018

U.S. politician slams “religious freedom hawks” while praising anti-conversion laws

TROY, Michigan: Nov. 7, 2018 — On November 6, the day after New York City-based newspaper India Abroad published the headline, “Michigan State House candidate’s writings assailed as anti-Christian, anti-Muslim,” Padma Kuppa won election to the 41st district of Michigan’s House of Representatives by just 1,147 out of 43,487 votes — a narrow margin of 2.64 percent.

“Her writings reflect shades of Hindu nationalism and anti-Muslim and anti-Christian stance,” reported TwoCircles.net, a Massachusetts-based media outlet which focuses on issues affecting marginalized Indian communities such as Dalits, tribals, Muslims, and women. The article continued, “She is said to support Indian laws which criminalize people who change their religion without government permission…. Like all the Hindutva nationalists, she too believes that all Indians were once Hindus and now they need to come back to Hinduism.”

As a columnist and activist, Kuppa has been outspoken about Indian issues. In 2015, she stated, “Religious conversion to Islam and Christianity has long been a sensitive issue in India. This is especially true in recent times.” That same year, she argued, “Faced with aggressive conversion tactics, some Hindus may become intolerant or defensive.” In a 2012 article, she claimed, “India sought to defend against unethical tactics by passing its Anti-Fraudulent Conversion Laws.”

More commonly called “anti-conversion laws,” such legislation typically requires those desiring to change their religion to first obtain permission from local authorities. In 2014, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Heiner Bielefeldt warned that the laws place converts in the position of “exposing themselves and explaining the reasons [for their conversion] as if the State were in a position of being able to assess the genuineness of conversion.”

“Padma Kuppa manipulates her status as a minority in a free country, using rhetoric about religious pluralism and interfaith cooperation, to support tyrannizing minorities in India,” comments Arvin Valmuci, a spokesperson for Organization for Minorities of India (OFMI). “Would she suggest changing the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to allow for government regulation of religion? We are certain that Padma Kuppa would support passage of a national anti-conversion law in India, which has been suggested by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party such as Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.”

Valmuci notes a 2015 article by Kuppa in which she praised Nepal’s newly-adopted constitution for implementing a national ban on conversion. “Because it seeks to ban religious conversion, it will likely draw challenges from religious freedom hawks everywhere,” wrote Kuppa. However, she stated, “Nepal’s draft constitution seeks to protect and nurture that energetic engagement of religious diversity, something inherent in the ethos of this mostly Hindu nation.”

“Support for laws criminalizing religious freedom is a key agenda item for Hindu nationalists whose political campaigns are premised on fear-mongering,” explains Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs. “They claim that being an Indian means being a Hindu, and thus question the patriotism of non-Hindus, especially Christians and Muslims. They spread conspiracy theories claiming that aggressive minorities are an existential threat to the majority and tell voters that a safe and stable society requires declaring India as a Hindu nation. This poisonous rhetoric inevitably inspires some people to engage in militant action against minorities to protect a supposedly besieged Hindu society.”

Arul Kanagaraj, a Dalit activist from Michigan, remarks, “Conversion has historically provided a refuge to hundreds of thousands of Dalits and other marginalized communities in India who are seeking a path to social uplift. Many Dalits fled persecution in India to make their homes in the United States because we view it as a free country. Padma Kuppa’s support for the policies of Hindutva, which is Hindu supremacism, are of great concern to us considering her election as a representative of the people of Michigan.”

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom reports, “States with these laws have higher incidents of intimidation, harassment, and violence against religious minorities.” Odisha, which was the first Indian state to adopt an anti-conversion law, was also the site of one of the most recent incidents of mass violence against Christians. In 2008, members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) — a group recently declared by the CIA as a “religious militant organization” — killed dozens of Christians, burning their churches and homes.

More recent violence has occurred in Uttar Pradesh (UP). India’s most populous state, it is currently ruled by BJP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, a Hindu monk. A former Member of Parliament, Adityanath had in 2014 announced plans to introduce a national anti-conversion law. Describing conversion as an “anti-national act,” he stated, “An aggressive campaign is required for ghar wapsi [reconversion] of those Hindus who had converted to other religions in the past.” While UP does not currently have a state anti-conversion law, local authorities reportedly operate as though one is in place.

On April 7, 2017, for instance, police in the village of Dathauli invaded a worship service acting on a complaint by Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), a group founded by Adityanath, that conversions were taking place. “Innocent and illiterate Hindus were being converted,” stated HYV leader Krishna Nandan, who surrounded the church with his followers until police promised to conduct an investigation.

On October 30, 2018, a mob of approximately 25 men invaded a multi-church meeting being hosted in the city of Agra to plan upcoming Christmas celebrations. The mob beat several pastors with hockey sticks as well as tore the clothes off women and dragged them by the hair. While police did arrest several of the attackers on various charges of assault, they also arrested seven pastors, charging them with “promoting enmity between different groups” and “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings.”

Local VHP leaders claimed responsibility for the attack. “We got information about religious conversion and sent two karyakartas [workers] to the congregation,” said VHP Regional Vice President Sunil Parashar. “They tried to record the proceedings and report the matter to us but it got out of hand after they were spotted by the church-goers.” According to local VHP Communications Chief Ravi Dubey, “We were conducting inquiries into the church after they made contact with some poor people in several localities. They distributed medicines and textbooks to them. We cannot tolerate this as this is a clear ploy of conversion, which is why the fight took place.”

The VHP was founded by M.S. Golwalkar while he was serving as Sarsanghchalak (Supreme Leader) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu nationalist paramilitary. According to the RSS’s “Vision and Mission” statement, “A mechanism to reconvert all those who had been knowingly or unknowingly proselytized to alien faiths and are now desirous of coming back to the Hindu fold was needed. The VHP was founded in 1964 to fill this need.” The RSS further states, “It is this determination of the VHP that has instilled a spirit of righteous militancy in the Hindu society.”

The VHP has several international wings, including VHP-America (VHPA), which most recently courted controversy in September 2018 when it hosted the World Hindu Congress (WHC) in Chicago and invited as its keynote speaker RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, who has repeatedly called for India to be declared a Hindu nation.

Other speakers at the WHC included RSS Sarkaryavah (Joint General Secretary) Dattatreya Hosabale and Ved Nanda, Sanghchalak (President) of the North American branch of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), which is the international wing of the RSS. Also speaking was Indian Vice President Naidu, who had in 2014 praised Odisha’s anti-conversion law and declared, “Let there be anti-conversion laws in all the states.”

On several occasions, Kuppa has worked as a panelist and organizer for the annual Hindu Mandir Executives Conference, a project of VHPA. She has also published articles with VHPA’s magazine, Vishwa Hindu, on more than one occasion.

“We are very disturbed by Representative-Elect Padma Kuppa’s support for government interference with the human right to freely change one’s religion,” says Balbir Singh Dhillon, president of West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara. “Calls to criminalize freedom of religion are anti-American, anti-liberty, and anti-human. Kuppa’s writings aid and abet egregious, rampant, systematic, and ongoing violations of the human rights of India’s non-Hindu populations. It is very unfortunate that she has taken advantage of the American public’s lack of knowledge about the appalling human rights situation in India to obtain a position of power.”

As a member of Michigan’s House of Representatives, Kuppa will serve a two-year term and receive a $71,685 annual salary.

Newly-Elected Padma Kuppa Endorses Criminalizing Conversion in India

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