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Archives for : Kractivism

India – #Aadhaar Card Expose #UID

By- Sushrut Mane

A)What kind of technology is it?

Aadhaar collects the demographic as well as biometric data of whoever who has it. Section 33 of the Aadhaar Act ensures that under the guise of “national security”, the government can access any information without providing any explanation to anyone. It does not define what is “national security” so any reason can be used to access and use this data. So in short, one can say that,

Aadhar is a surveillance technology masquerading as secure authentication technology.

(1)

  1. B) But at least it is not affecting anyone directly. Then why we should worry?

1.Aadhaar is compulsory for two more groups of citizens – victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, and workers rescued from bonded labor. The court took 15 years to decide who is eligible or not, whether the person is who they are claiming to be and Now, the government wants the victims to prove their identity in this manner again. Same problem with bonded workers. (2)

  1. Thousands of pensioners without Aadhaar or bank accounts struck off lists in Rajasthan (3)
  2. Jharkhand: Family denied ration over Aadhaar linking, girl starves to death (4) (This is recent news)

C)Where we have to link it and what can be its effects?

1.You have to link it with your SIM card, pan card, passport, bank account, voter ID, college/university. And if you want benefits of schemes like LPG, MGNREGS, etc. you have to link Aadhar to them also.

  1. According to Aadhaar act 2016,  “The Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive, negative or any other appropriate response sharing such identity information excluding any core biometric information.”

3.Which also means authority with whom you are linking Aadhar can have access to your photograph (which doesn’t come under core-biometrics) and your demographic information which includes as name, date of birth, address and “other relevant information” of an individual. It explicitly excludes race, religion, caste, tribe, ethnicity, language, records of entitlement, income or medical history.

  1. Well, this is legal (but worrying) way to give our personal details to authority. But there are other ways also.. Like:-  Aadhaar data of 130 million, bank account details leaked from govt websites: Report  (5)

5.To be fair, two safeguards are in place in the Aadhaar Act. One is that the requesting entity must inform you about the use it proposes to make of your identity information.( But who reads the fine print of the terms and conditions when buying a sim card, or before clicking “I agree” when installing new software?) The second safeguard is that the requesting entity cannot publish or display your Aadhaar number (or your core biometric information, but that is not accessible to a requesting entity in the first place).

  1. Note, however, that nothing prevents a requesting entity from publishing or displaying other identity information, as long as it has informed the concerned person.

But wait…

7.The Clause 33 (2) states that an official with the rank of Joint Secretary or higher may access a person’s identity information including core biometric information if the official has an order issued in the interest of national security by the central government.

The government has the power to know (or use) your fingerprints, iris scan for the “National Security”.

  1. D) If there are such serious loopholes, why Government wants to make it mandatory?
  1. The Supreme Court, way back in October 2015, clarified that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory for any schemes/services other than ration (PDS), employment guarantee (MNREGS), LPG distribution, pension, provident funds (EPF) and Jan Dhan Yojana. (see the highlighted part – (6) )
  1. So today, whatever gov is asking to link this and that with Aadhar is actually illegal. And supreme court reminds this to center in last month.  (7)
  1. E) So is it necessary to link Aadhar with gov schemes?

1.As per “Government of India rule”, yes it is mandatory to link it for six welfare schemes, PAN cards, and mobile phones.

2.Other than these, ALL other schemes/services/benefits for which Aadhaar is being made mandatory go directly against the earlier Supreme Court order. Including the bank account linking.

  1. BUT the government continues its assault unabated. Even the regulations they cleared under the act were quite illegal and had many many loopholes. This is where the confusion begins.
  1. F) Aadhaar violates the fundamental right to privacy or not?

Yes, it does!

G)Then how the Aadhaar Act passed in Parliament? (read H) & I) also)

It was passed with shrewdness.

First, it was introduced in the Budget session of 2016 as a money bill. But Aadhar is not a money bill in any sense.

  1. H) What are money bills then?

1.Bills which exclusively contain provisions for imposition and abolition of taxes, for the appropriation of money out of the Consolidated Fund, etc., are certified as Money Bills.

  1. And Aadhar has nothing to do with these things. Only the speaker has the right to called a bill a money bill, but in case of Aadhar, Mr. Arun Jaitley himself introduce it as the money bill.

I)Why was it introduced as Money Bill?

  1. The Lok Sabha has majority members of ruling party but not in Rajya Sabha. Mr. Jaitley was aware that if this bill introduced as the normal bill it will be debated in Rajya Sabha.
  1. So after introducing it as a Money Bill, it will no longer under the control of members of Rajya Sabha. Rajya Sabha members can suggest amendments but Lok Sabha has every right to accept or reject those amendments. Guess what happens in Aadhar bill?

Lok Sabha rejected the amendments made by Rajya Sabha members and passed the bill. (8)

But the most dangerous thing is –

J)How Government is trying to set bureaucracy (and not democracy) regarding Aadhar Act?

For that, we take a wonderful journey all the way to Clause 58 on Page 17, to the very end of the oh-so-complicated-and-well-worded bill.

(1) If any difficulty arises in giving effect to the provisions of this Act, the Central Government may, by order, published in the Official Gazette, make such provisions not inconsistent with the provisions of this Acts may appear to be necessary for removing the difficulty: Provided that no such order shall be made under this section after the expiry of three years from the commencement of this Act.

This clause basically puts in a ‘lockdown’ provision. Before that comes into effect, they can make changes in the bill by notification in the Gazette ( a written record of bills which passed as an Act). Basically, bureaucrats will have a free reign over what this bill will do after it is passed by Parliament.

And this is very serious.

  1. K) What is the role of ministers in this?
  1. Arun Jaitley admits that he is forcing people to create Aadhar card and to link with Gov schemes (even though it does not follow Supreme Court’s order). –

Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said the Supreme Court had said in September last year that Aadhaar is not mandatory and wanted to know whether the government was “forcing” people to get it.

Yes, we are,” Jaitley replied.

  1. Mr. Narendra Modi as a CM of Guj thoughts that Aadhar there is no vision in this scheme-

On Aadhaar, neither the Team that I met nor PM could answer my Qs on security threat it can pose. There is no vision, only political gimmick

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 8, 2014

  1. L) So who is really responsible for this? UPA or NDA government?
  1. The Aadhar card or  National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (NIDAI)  was introduced by the then PM Dr. Manmohan Singh along with Nandan Nilekani as an optional card that wasn’t meant to be mandatory for all citizens. What started out as a simple identity card that would be provided to all Indians.
  1. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 is a money bill of the Parliament of India. It aims to provide legal backing to the Aadhaar unique identification number project by making it mandatory for people who want benefits subsidies or schemes.
  1. The foundational shift that occurred between the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010 (NIDAI) and the Aadhaar Act 2016 is clear from their respective definitions of authentication:

NIDAI 2010: “The Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive or negative response or with any other appropriate response excluding any demographic information and biometric information.” (emphasis added)

Aadhaar Act 2016: “The Authority shall respond to an authentication query with a positive, negative or any other appropriate response sharing such identity information excluding any core biometric information.” (emphasis added)

  1. M) Conclusion-

Aadhaar’s purpose was drastically changed. It was supposed to be beneficial for the low-income group by providing subsidies to needy people and remove leakages in the system. The current version of it, which includes mandatory linking to companies and schemes, is illegal & risky. The Finance Minister’s replies to the opposition are super vague and show carelessness while introducing such important act. The disadvantages of this act are contradicting to the aim of Aadhaar Act 2016. The government must fix this issue before any major harm happens ( I think all possible negative effects have already happened.)

N)Fun facts-

  1. Aadhar is not mandatory for VIPs
  2. Your Jio card registered and activated within 5 minutes because of your biometric data that you provided (in this case it was your fingerprint). At the same time, you handle over your demographic as well as biometric to the Jio company. And this can be misuse (perhaps found to be misused  (9) )
  3. Making Aadhar mandatory is illegal. (I have shown you all evidence about it.
  4. In one rare case of mixed-up identities, 2 men end up with same Aadhaar number. You know, UID means- Unique…(10)
  5. In future Government can ask for DNA of citizen as a biometric data.

    I am not joking. This is what FM Arun Jaitley said –
    Shri Satpathi wants to know whether DNA can be part of it (Aadhaar).The act does not say so. Regulation can expand it.

    Annotations

    1. http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/jean-dreze-on-aadhaar-mass-surveillance-data-collection/article8352912.ece

    2. No aid for Bhopal gas victims- https://scroll.in/latest/831144/no-aid-for-bhopal-gas-victims-workers-rescued-from-bonded-labour-unless-they-have-aadhaar-number?utm_content=bufferc9823&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    3. Thousands of pensioners without Aadhaar or bank accounts struck off lists – https://scroll.in/article/813132/rajasthans-living-dead-thousands-of-pensioners-without-aadhaar-or-bank-accounts-struck-off-lists?utm_content=bufferf0eb6&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    4. Jharkhand: Family denied ration over Aadhaar linking, girl starves to death- http://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/171017/jharkhand-girl-starves-to-death-as-family-denied-ration-over-aadhaar-linking.html

    5.Aadhaar data of 130 million, bank account details leaked from govt websites: Report http://indiatoday.intoday.in/technology/story/aadhaar-data-of-130-millions-bank-account-details-leaked-from-govt-websites-report/1/943632.html

    6. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5mBxP7jq8_IS3R1RVJsOTZrRDg/view

    7.Supreme Court finds govt. defying its order on -Aadhaar http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Supreme-Court-finds-govt.-defying-its-order-on-Aadhaar/article14999391.ece

    8.Aadhar bill passed in Lok Sabha after rejection of amendments introduced in Rajya Sabha- http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-aadhar-bill-hits-rajya-sabha-roadblock-returned-to-lok-sabha-with-amendements-2190133

    9.  https://twitter.com/i/moments/907102170641612800

    10. In case of mixed-up identities, 2 men end up with same Aadhaar number-  https://m.timesofindia.com/city/dehradun/in-case-of-mixed-up-identities-2-men-end-up-with-same-aadhaar-number/amp_articleshow/58989496.cms

https://sushrutmane.blogspot.in/2017/10/aadhar-card-expose.html

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Outrage in Hisar as 5-yr-old Dalit raped, brutalised with stick, killed #WTFnews

Rape case

 Picture for representational purpose

A five-year-old Dalit girl was abducted, raped, brutalised with a wooden stick and killed in Haryana’s Hisar district, sparking outrage in the area, in a chilling reminder of Nirbhaya’s gang-rape and murder in Delhi five years ago.

The mother said she, along with her daughter, went to sleep in her house at Uklana village, about 160 km from Delhi, on Friday night. When she woke up on the next morning, the child was not there, she said. She searched for her in the neighbourhood. Later the body was found in the village.

Forensics and sniffer dog squads visited the crime scene. Rape will be confirmed only after the post-mortem report is in, the police said. “It prima facie looks like a case of sexual assault,” Hisar DSP Jitender Kumar, however, said.

Autopsy said that the stick had perforated her uterus and intestines. The parents, who work as labourers, agreed to cremate the body on Sunday after the police promised to arrest the accused within 48 hours.

“She had been brutalised with a wooden stick. There was blood everywhere… blood was coming out of her mouth, too,” the victim’s uncle said. An FIR has been filed and a Special Investigation Team formed for a thorough investigation. Raids are being conducted to nab the accused.

The police are rounding up local criminals, drug addicts and history-sheeters.

The horrifying crime comes a week ahead of the fifth anniversary of the Nirbhaya case, a watershed moment for India’s approach to sexual crimes, which had sparked widespread protests and drew international attention to violence against women.

As Opposition parties and locals protested in the area, the administration announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh, a BPL card, a house and jobs for two family members of the victim.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) condemned the crime and said that it was coordinating with the state police to arrest the culprits.

For the third year in a row, Haryana has recorded the highest rate of gang-rape per one lakh population in the country, according to the recent report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of 2016

DNA

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Vande Mataram row: BSP Mayor refuses to stand during national song

Last week, BSP Mayor from Meerut Sunita Verma reversed the decision of her predecessor from BJP, who had made singing of the national song mandatory at Municipal Corporation meetings

Vande Mataram rowBSP Mayor from Meerut Sunita Verma. (Source: ANI)

Newly elected BSP Mayor from Meerut Sunita Verma kicked up a controversy on Tuesday after she was seen sitting while Vande Mataram was being recited at the swearing-in ceremony. The BJP councillors were quick to register their protest on the issue and were seen standing during the ceremony while raising slogans against Verma.

The incident comes after the BSP member last week reversed the decision of her predecessor from BJP, who had made singing of the national song mandatory at Meerut Municipal Corporation (MMC) meetings. “The municipal board’s Constitution states the national anthem will be sung, not ‘Vande Mataram’. There should be no controversy… only ‘Jana Gana Mana’ will be sung at the start of every board meeting,” she had said.

The previous BJP Mayor, Harikant Ahluwalia, had made singing of the national song a must at MMC board meetings and the membership of those who refused would be terminated.

However, Verma brushed aside the issue when questioned why didn’t she stand up when Vande Matram was being recited. “Vikas ki baat kijiye, mera dhyaan mat bhatkaiye (Speak on development. Don’t try to shift my focus),” the Meerut Mayor said.

Uttar Pradesh vande mataram rowBJP members protest during the ceremony on Tuesday. (Source: ANI)Verma won the civic body elections held two weeks ago, defeating BJP candidate Kanta Kardam – the state’s party vice-president. Last week, Aligarh Mayor Mohammad Furkan, also from the BSP, had said he would not sing the national song during the oath-taking ceremony.

On Sunday, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said he did not understand what was the problem in singing Vande Mataram, which meant “salutations to the mother”, a song that had inspired millions during the country’s freedom movement. “After so many years, now we are discussing (if) Vande Mataram is good or not, nationalism and patriotism are good or not. Also, we feel shy to talk about all this,” Naidu said

Vande Mataram row: BSP Mayor refuses to stand during national song, BJP councillors protest

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Adani is Drowning in Debt, and Nobody is Helping, thanks to #StopAdani Campaign #Goodnews

Adani Power had a debt burden of Rs.532 billion and suffered net loss of Rs.3.24 billion in the third quarter of 2017.
Adani
Newsclick Image by Summit Kumar

On Tuesday (12 December 2017), Annastacia Palaszczuk, newly elected premier of Queensland, Australia, exercised veto against the any loan being given to Adani’s Carmichael coal mine project in Queensland by the federal Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), plunging the besieged Adani Group into a crisis. Ms. Palaszczuk wrote to Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today informing that financial assistance should not be provided for the company’s north Galilee Basin rail project, which is a key link to ferry coal from the giant Carmichael mine to the coal port 388 kms away.

This is a result of stiff popular resistance in Australia to the Carmichael mine which Adani had acquired from the Queensland govt. for $ 3.3 billion in 2010. But the dramatic decision could well be a body blow to the powerful Adani group which is steeped in mounting debt and floundering to repay it. It had been hoping to secure a $2 billion loan from NAIF to rejuvenate its sinking fortunes.

A recent Credit Suisse India Corporate Health Tracker report , listed four Adani companies in a bunch of 19 highly indebted and over-leveraged Indian companies that it called ‘House of Debt’ companies. The Adani four are: Adani Power, Adani Ports & SEZ, Adani Enterprises and Adani Transmission.

Among these companies, Adani Power’s net profit recorded a jaw dropping decline of about 418% percent between third quarters of 2016 and 2017. In the same period, the company’s Interest Cover (IC) has fallen from 1.1 to 0.7 (IC determines a company’s ability to meet the interest expenses on outstanding debt and IC < 1.5 means the company’s ability to meet interest expenses is questionable). Another Indicator, Debt/EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization) ratio, a measure of company’s operating performance has also increased from 6.5 to 8.1, in the same period indicating that its debt is mounting relative to its earnings. Between third quarters of 2016 and 2017, the interest cover ratio for Adani Enterprises has remained at 1 and that for Adani Transmission has recorded a slight increase from 1.4 to 1.6.

At the end of the financial year 2016, gross borrowings of Adani Power Limited were Rs. 532 billion, a breathtaking sum. It was sustaining a net loss of Rs.3.24 billion in the third quarter of 2017 up by 19% over previous year. With the recent refusal of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank to finance the Adani, so far, twenty-six banks across the world have rejected to fund the mining project.

Meanwhile, an October report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) warned investors that the Adani’s Abbot Point Coal Terminal is running the risk of becoming “a stranded asset” if the controversial Carmichael does not proceed. The report titled ‘A House of Cards in Australia: Adani’s Abbot Point Coal Terminal faces Financial risk ’ concluded that the financial viability of the terminal is increasingly at risk with a major refinancing imminent.

“Securing this refinancing is going to be a real challenge, not the least because the port value has been tied to the success of the Carmichael coal mine proposal which is itself yet to secure funding and which the big four Australian banks have refused to touch,” said Tim Buckley, director of Energy Finance Studies, quoted by IEEFA.

The controversial Adani’s Carmichael mine project in Queensland, which was supposed to be one of the largest coal mining projects in the world, is yet to be constructed. While Adani Group was hoping that the project would help to clear its debts, reports suggest that the very same debts have become a crucial hurdle for the project.

While the construction of mines was scheduled to begin in September this year, the massive coal project has remained entangled in various roadblocks such as the sweeping ‘Stop Adani’ protests led by environmentalists, and citizens across Australia, challenges to securing environmental clearance and a delay in getting a loan of nearly A$2 billion by March 2018 to initiate its first phase work. Now this loan too is denied.

The Adani group with revenue of over $11 billion (official claim) is headquartered in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Many commentators have often argued that Gautam Adani’s growth has always been in sync with that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s political career. It has been reported that the group’s revenue increased 20 times from Rs.3741 crore in 2002-03 to Rs.75659 crore in 2014-15 (a span of 12 years) while Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat.

In 2014, Gujarat High Court had reportedly found that 12 units of Adani Group’s Mundra SEZ were being operated without environmental clearance and ordered to stop its works. The group was able to get a stay on that order from Supreme Court. The case is still in progress. An estimated loss of Rs. 6546 crore to the Gujarat government has been reported for providing land to the Adani Group for setting up the Special Economic Zone near the Mundra port. In 2013, Indian Government appointed Sunita Narain Committee had reportedly found severe environmental violations by the Adani Group of companies in Gujarat.

https://newsclick.in/house-debt-adani-drowning-debt-and-nobody-helping

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आदिवासियों ने चुटका परमाणु बिजली घर परियोजना रद्द करने की मांग की

सलिल राय मंडला से

मंडला १२ दिसम्बर ;अभी तक;  आदिवासी बाहुल्य मंडला जिले के नारायणगंज वि.खं. के ग्राम चुटका के नर्मदा जल क्षेत्र में परमाणु बिजली घर संयंत्र स्थापना के विरोध में मंडला मुख्यालय के स्टेडियम ग्राउंड के समीप चुटका परमाणु बिजली घर परियोजना संयत्र को रद्द करने की जनमांग को लेकर नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन की नेत्री मेधापाटकर और परमाणु संयंत्र के आसपास के ग्रामों के हजारों लोगों ने आज एक स्वर से संयंत्र परियोजना रद्द करने की जोरदार मांग की है।

img_20171212_154341 इस मौके पर मेधापाटकर ने अपनी बात रखते हुए कही कि यह कैसा परमाणु बिजली घर संयंत्र की स्थापना मनमानी तरीके से किये जाने की कोशिस की जा रही है। चुटका परमाणु संयंत्र बिजली घर संयंत्र स्थापना के प्रत्यक्ष विरोध में एक सौ एक ग्राम सभाओं ने परियोजना रद्द करने के पक्ष में प्रस्ताव पारित किया किंतु पंचायती राज की अवधारणा के यहां पर उन नियम कानूनों की अनदेखी करना प्रजातंत्र प्रणाली पर ही सवाल पर सवाल खड़े कर रही है।
आज संपन्न चुटका परमाणु बिजली घर संयंत्र स्थापना को रद्द करने के लिए परियोजना के आसपास के विस्थापित एवं प्रभावित होने वाले वनवासी और विभिन्न मछुआरा समितियों के महिला पुरुष और नर्मदा जल तथा पर्यावरण के बिगड़ते स्वरूप से चिंतित लोगों ने मंच से अनेक बिंदुओं पर अपनी बात रखी।

img_20171212_154158  इस मौके पर मेधापाटकर ने विस्थापितों और प्रभावितों को संबोधित करते हुए कहा,कि मध्यप्रदेश और केंद्र सरकार भारतीय संविधान की धारा 243 का खुलेआम माखौल उड़ा रही है,आगे उन्होंने कहा कि यह कैसी विडंबना है कि जल जंगल जमीन से जीवन से अपनी आजीविका संचालन करने वाले ग्रामीण जनों की मर्जी के खिलाफ उनकी जमीनों को अधिगृहित किया जा रहा है,जो कि मानवाधिकारों के हनन के साथ साथ जबरिया न्याय व्यवस्था के नाम पर विस्थापितों को उनके घर आँगन और खेतों से बे दखल किया जाना किस न्याय व्यवस्था की ओर इंगित करता है।

मेधा पाटकर ने परमाणु संयंत्र लगने वाले क्षेत्र टिकरिया और संयंत्र के आसपास भूकंपीय गतिविधियों के प्रति अति संवेदनशील जबलपुर संभाग को भी जोन थ्री में भू विज्ञानिकों ने इसे अपने मापदंड में रखा है।यही नहीं परमाणु बिजली घर के अनेक ऐसे उदाहरण हैं,जिससे रेडियो धर्मिता के कारण मानव जीवन के साथ जलीय एवं जैव विविधता पर प्रतिकूल असर परिणाम के रूप में  सामने है। उन्होंने कहा कि मांग से ज्यादा बिजली की उपलब्धता के बावजूद परमाणु बिजली घर अनुसूचित क्षेत्रों में स्थापित करने का औचित्य क्या है?उ

img_20171212_164748उन्होंने कहा कि परमाणु बिजली की कीमत 9/रु.से 12/रु प्रति यूनिट आयेगी जबकि सौर्य उर्जा से मध्यप्रदेश शासन ने 17अप्रैल2017को रीवा जिले के त्यौथर तहसील में बनने वाली सोलर मेगा प्लांट की अंतरराष्ट्रीय प्रतिस्पर्धात्मक बोली में 2.97/दो रुपये संतान्नबे पैसे प्रति यूनिट की दर से मिल रही है। इस अवसर पर नर्मदा बचाओ आंदोलन के वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता. ने बोला कि बरगी जलाशय के निर्माण के 25 साल बाद भी  मात्र 70 हजार हेक्टेयर भूमि में सिंचाई हो रही है जबकि परियोजना से साढ़े चार लाख हेक्टेयर भूमि में सिंचाई करने के दावे किये गये थे। बरगी जलाशय का संचित पानी किसानों को  न देकर झाबुआ पावर प्लांट औधौगिक प्लांट को दिया जा रहा है,जो न्यायोचित नहीं है।
मंडला में चुटका परमाणु बिजली संयंत्र परियोजना के ग्राम चुटका के रहने वाले दादूलाला कुड़ापे ने बताया कि उनके स्वामित्व वाली 18अठारह एकड़ उपजाऊ जमीन चुटका परमाणु बिजली घर स्थापना के लिए अधिगृहित की जा रहीहै,जो उनके और उनके परिवार की बगैर सहमति से उनके बैंक खातों में मुआवजे की राशी डाल दी गयी है,जबकि दादूलाल का साफ कहना है,कि उसे मुआवजा नहीं न ही विस्थापन चाहिए। इसी तरह हल्कू राम चुटका रहवासी की तीन एकड़ जमीन संयंत्र स्थापना के लिए ली जा रही है जिसका पुरजोर विरोध किया जा रहा है।
आज चुटका परमाणु परियोजना विरोधी चेतावनी सभा के मंच में पर्यावरणविद् प्रफुल्ल सामंत्रा उड़ीसा,आजादी बचाओ आंदोलन के यशवीर आर्या हरियाणा,सी.पी.एम. के बादल सरोज,भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के अरविंद श्रीवास्तव,आदिवासी नेता गुलजार सिंह मरकाम,सी.पी.आई.(एम.एल.)रेड स्टार के विजय कुमार,शांति सद्भावना मंच  मध्यप्रदेश के पी.डी.खैरवार,किसान संघर्ष समिति की आराधना भार्गव के अलावा देश एवं प्रदेश के अनेक संगठन इस आंदोलन को समर्थन दैने आये।मंच से ही मेधा पाटकर की अगुआई में चुटका परमाणु संयंत्र रद्द करने की मांग वाले एक सौ एक ग्राम सभाओं के प्रस्तावों के साथ राज्यपाल के नाम एस.डी.एम.मंडला को मंच पर ज्ञापन सौपा गया।

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5 yrs after Food Security Act, poor Indians to get millets at Rs 1/kg

So far, only a few states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had made available millets and that too only in certain pockets

millets

Millet farm | Wikimedia Commons

The union government proposes to include coarse grains such as jawar (sorghum), bajra (pearl millet) and ragi (finger millet) in the mid-day meal programme in and also distribute it through the government subsidised food programme, the public distribution system (PDS), agriculture secretary SK Patnaik said recently.

This announcement comes five years after the introduction of the National Food Security Act, which provided for the distribution of millets, once a staple in the Indian diet. PDS beneficiaries, 813 million of India’s poorest people and roughly 75% of its rural population and 25% of its urban population, will get at Rs 1 per kg.

So far, only a few states such as Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had made available and that too only in certain pockets.

However, the government will give a makeover before making them available through the PDS. “Instead of distributing as a coarse grain, the government proposes to bracket it in a new ‘nutricereals’ category,” Vilas A Tonapi, director, Indian Institute of Research, told IndiaSpend.

There is now growing awareness of the superior nutritional profile of compared to wheat and rice–the staples thus far distributed through the PDS and the food preference of consumers at large. Millets, because of their higher iron, calcium and overall mineral content to wheat and rice, hold the potential to help address India’s malnutrition problem, a fact IndiaSpend reported in August 2016.

More than half of India’s women and children, and one in five men are anaemic. Their loss of productivity shaved $22.64 billion (Rs 1.5 lakh crore) off India’s gross domestic product in 2016, more than three times the health budget for 2017-18, IndiaSpend reported in November 2017.

Malnutrition is also implicated in India’s growing tide of diabetes, we reported in December 2015. Diabetes is now affecting the urban poor as well as the affluent.

This renewed focus on may not be easy to achieve. India’s average annual stood at 17.79 million tonnes between 2010-11 and 2014-15. This is less than a tenth of the 215 million tonnes of rice and wheat produced. Thus, large-scale procurement of presupposes a radical change in India’s cropping pattern.

“Yes, the government will encourage more farmers especially in rain-fed areas to grow the grain,” said Tonapi.

The revival of could benefit India’s floundering agriculture sector by boosting farm incomes and sustainable agriculture, as explained in later sections. It could also be a step towards sufficient food and nutrition in the eventuality of climate-change-triggered drought because are a hardier crop than wheat and rice, with some varieties growing well in areas more arid than western Rajasthan, India’s driest region.

Shift from to wheat, rice has cost India its health, environment

Making a significant part of the average Indian’s diet will involve reversing a food preference trend that can be traced back to half a century.

A staple till the 1960s, got pushed off the plate of the average Indian by wheat and rice, IndiaSpend reported in August 2016. By 2010, the average annual per capita consumption of sorghum and slid from 32.9 kg to 4.2 kg while the consumption of wheat almost doubled from 27 kg to 52 kg.

In rural India, this change was the obvious outcome of making wheat and paddy inexpensively available through the PDS, an initiative to alleviate malnutrition associated with low calorie intake.

“In 1965, food insecurity was so widespread that we actively promoted wheat and paddy to alleviate the situation,” Ashok Dalwai, chief executive officer, National Rainfed Area Authority, told IndiaSpend.

In urban India, the belief that wheat and rice are superior to was the biggest reason for this dietary evolution. Food convenience has also played a role. Wheat lends itself particularly well to the mechanised mass production of value-added products such as biscuits, cakes and noodles.

are more nourishing, less resource-intensive to raise

Food can be calorie (carbohydrate) rich but nutritionally poor. This is especially true of processed wheat-based packaged foods.

have more iron, calcium and minerals than wheat and rice, a comparison IndiaSpend tabulated in August 2016, which is reproduced here. In general they have a lower glycaemic index than rice and wheat, for which reason the grain could help stem India’s growing diabetes epidemic, said S K Gupta, principal scientist, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Source: Nutritive Value of Indian Foods, National Institute of Nutrition

are also less resource-intensive to grow than wheat and paddy. For instance, pearl and finger millet require one-third the water of paddy, 350 mm rainfall as against 1,250 mm, IndiaSpend reported in August 2016.

The intensive agriculture of the Green Revolution has caused acidic soils and a falling water table, pressing issues that need to be resolved, agriculture must be made sustainable, said Dalwai.

could play a major role in this because they grow well in poor soils and consume less water than rice and wheat,” he said.

On the anvil: More nutrition, not calories, for every Indian

With every needy Indian now officially covered by the PDS, the government has shifted focus to examine what is missing in the diet of the average Indian.

“India has done well in meeting its food requirement, this gives us the latitude to work towards achieving nutritional security, and we find can help achieve objective,” said Dalwai. “In promoting millets, India’s focus is shifting from food security to nutritional security.”

Whereas rural India is likely to respond positively to the inclusion of cheaper in the PDS, urban India might be a different story. To create awareness about the impending shift to millets, the government has proposed to the United Nations that 2018 be declared the International Year of 

The government would like more entrepreneurs to manufacture millet-based convenience foods that would appeal to urban consumers. But entrepreneurs want the government to tweak taxation policies to make the pricing of millet-based products more attractive.

“Packaged millet attracts 5% goods and services tax while processed millet products such as noodles attract 18%, which increases the product price,” said Vinod Kumar, founder and CEO of Naturally Yours, a company that retails  “If the government is genuinely interested in promoting the consumption of millets, it should offer some relaxation in taxation.”

Millets, in short supply, can boost farmer incomes

Growing awareness about the nutritional value of in the last few years, especially the lesser popular small such as little (kutki), kodo (kodon), foxtail (kakum) and barnyard (sanwa), has put pressure on their limited supply.

India is facing a 45% shortfall in supply of small millets, said Tonapi. Consequently, the industry has seen a 30% price rise in the last three years alone, according to Kumar.

Mass scale procurement of at a remunerative price for distribution through the PDS is expected to encourage more farmers to cultivate  However, the government is not necessarily looking at a mass switch from wheat and paddy cultivation to 

are fast-growing, which raises the possibility of squeezing an extra crop into agricultural schedules, explained Tonapi.

For instance, in Andhra Pradesh where a ban exists on growing a third paddy crop in view of the falling water table, farmers are growing on 50,000 hectares.

“The millet can be harvested in barely 95-100 days,” said Tonapi. “Intensive cultivation is yielding returns, farmers are getting roughly double the 3-3.5 tonnes per hectare yield that most millet farmers get, which they sell at Rs 15-20 per kg.”

Additionally, the idea is to identify niche rain-fed areas where have not been traditionally grown, said Tonapi.

Making available seeds of short-duration varieties of would also help boost availability and farmer incomes, this is especially true for the sorghum kharif (monsoon) crop that tends to get spoiled in too much moisture.

“Slower-growing varieties of sorghum that get spoiled end up in the brewery supply chain. Farmers would earn more by cultivating fast growing hybrids for the food chain,” said Tonapi.

Millet, the crop of marginal and small farmers

Doubling farmer incomes by 2022 is a stated objective of the government. This relates closely to millet cultivation because the crop is largely grown by small and marginal farmers, who work on 85% of India’s 138.35 million operational holdings spanning 159.59 million hectaresThey are also among the poorest farmers in India.

To this end, the government has drafted the Contract Farming Act, which will be released soon to the state governments. Contract farming creates an assured market and price for a crop, which removes a lot of the risk surrounding agriculture.

In the area of millets, contract farming is likely to take the form of agreements between farmer cooperatives and farmers as opposed to supermarket chains and farmers, said Tonapi. “By taking on storage and primary processing facilities, farmer co-ops will make farmers stakeholders in the supply chain, thus improving their income.”

Agricultural ministry: In times of climate change are often the last crop standing

The prospect of global temperatures rising 1 to 6°C by 2100 raises serious questions about food sufficiency in the face of more frequent droughts.

are known to be a hardier crop than wheat and paddy. “In times of climate change are often the last crop standing and, thus, are a good risk management strategy for resource-poor marginal farmers,” reads this recent government press release.

Pearl millet, in particular, reliably produces grain in harsh conditions such as low soil fertility, high soil pH, high soil salinity, low soil moisture, and a mean annual precipitation as low as 250 mm, says this September 2017 study co-authored by ICRISAT, published in the journal Nature.

West Rajasthan, India’s most arid region, receives 313 mm rainfall per annum, 25% more rainfall than what pearl millet needs.

Pearl millet can also withstand air temperatures higher than 42°C. In the same drought conditions, rice, bread wheat and durum wheat, and even other so-called coarse cereals such as maize and sorghum are likely to fail, the study said.

Therefore, increasing the share of in the country’s food basket beyond the current 10% would help move towards food and nutritional sufficiency in the eventuality of climate-change-triggered drought, a likely possibility, IndiaSpend reported in December 2015.

could be the answer to some of India’s most enduring challenges.


(Bahri is a freelance writer and editor based in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.)

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India – Know the Dangers in FRDI Bill

PAUL NORONHAThe State Bank of India headquarters in Mumbai. Since the SBI has already been notified as a “systemically important financial institution”, it is only natural that a sense of insecurity has set in.

The Resolution Corporation that the Central government is planning to set up through an Act of Parliament can result in a clean-up of banks and other financial institutions, with serious consequences for even common depositors. By PURNIMA S. TRIPATHI

THE Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FRDI) Bill, 2017, which the Union Cabinet cleared on June 14, 2017, is to be introduced in the coming session of Parliament. The Bill seeks to create a Resolution Corporation which will exercise control over banks, insurance companies, regional rural banks (RRBs), cooperative banks and other financial institutions. The Bill is under the consideration of a parliamentary committee.

The general direction and management of the affairs and business of the Resolution Corporation will vest in a board, which will consist of a chairperson; one member each representing the Finance Ministry, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA); three whole-time members; and two independent members to be appointed by the Central government.

The board will have the power to order amalgamation, merger, liquidation and acquisition of any bank, including State Bank of India (SBI) and other nationalised banks, RRBs, cooperative banks and payment banks, and any insurance company, including Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and other general insurance companies, if, in its judgment, the institution concerned (bank or insurance company) has got “imminent” or “critical” risk to its viability. The corporation, which will be under the Finance Ministry, will be empowered to hand over any such institution to another entity, public or private. It will be authorised to order discontinuation of service of employees or transfer of their employment or reduction of their remuneration upon such “resolution”.

The FRDI Bill also envisages closure of the “Deposit Insurance and Credit Guarantee Corporation” (DICGC) established in 1961, which has been an insurance cover for the savings of depositors.

According to banking sector representatives, the creation of the Resolution Corporation goes against the spirit of nationalisation of banks in 1969 when it was decided that public sector financial institutions should serve the masses, besides the marginalised and underprivileged sections of society, and not be concerned with earning huge profits at the cost of the ordinary masses.

According to C.P. Krishnan, general secretary of the Bank Employees Federation of India’s Tamil Nadu chapter, the Financial Stability Report of the RBI states that out of the total non-performing assets (NPAs), 88.4 per cent is the creation of large borrowers with loan exposure of Rs.5 crore and more. “On top of it, 12 large borrowers constitute 25 per cent of the NPAs, as admitted by the RBI itself,” he said.

He claimed that 56 RRBs spread over 600 districts, with around 23,000 branches, rendered excellent service to the rural people by lending almost 80 per cent of their total advances to the poor and the marginalised. Besides, cooperative institutions, including 370 Central Cooperative Banks with around 14,000 branches and 93,000 primary agriculture cooperative societies, extended real service to the common man.

Similarly, despite stiff competition from private insurers, the LIC ranked number one in terms of market share and service in the life insurance sector. The LIC contributed Rs.14,23,055 crore to the 12th Five-Year Plan, which was double the Rs.7,04,151 crore it contributed to the 11th Plan, he said and added that there was no need for such an overarching mechanism as the Resolution Corporation.

Overriding powers

In fact, the Bill seeks to place the entire financial structure of the country at the mercy of the government. The Resolution Corporation has been given powers that override those vested in the RBI, the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and even the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Besides, the measures taken by the corporation cannot be challenged in court, including the Supreme Court. The Bill categorically states that an order for the winding up of a bank or an order sanctioning a scheme of compromise or arrangement or of amalgamation, or an order for the supersession of the committee of management or other managing body of a bank and the appointment of an administrator thereof made with the previous sanction in writing or on the requisition of the RBI or the corporation, as the case may be, shall not be liable to be called into question in any manner.

Besides, the Bill also proposes to amend the SBI Act in order to insert a clause for its liquidation. This has given rise to apprehensions that in due course the government might even take recourse to privatisation of the SBI. The clause says:

“After Section 45, the following section shall be inserted, namely:

“45A. Notwithstanding anything in this Act, the Resolution Corporation established under… the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance Act, 2017, shall have the powers to carry out resolution of the State Bank under that Act.”

As explained, the term resolution could mean amalgamation, merger, acquisition, or liquidation and the resolution process could be initiated if in the opinion of the board the bank is under “critical” or “imminent” danger for its viability.

The fears about the SBI have arisen because a few weeks before the Union Cabinet cleared the Bill, the SBI was designated as a “systemically important financial institution (SIFI)”. The designation has its implications. In the Bill, the criteria for designating an institution as a SIFI could depend upon its size, complexity, nature and volume of transactions with other financial service providers, interconnectedness with other financial service providers, nature of services provided by the financial service providers and whether they are difficult to substitute, and such other matters as may be prescribed.

Once an institution has been designated as a SIFI, it comes under constant scrutiny of the corporation. The Bill proposes that every institution so designated shall, within a period of 90 days from the publication of the order of designation under Section 25, submit a restoration plan to the appropriate regulator and a resolution plan to the corporation, in accordance with the provisions of Section 38.

Also, every such financial institution shall provide such information to the corporation at such intervals and in such manner as may be specified by regulations made by the corporation in order to monitor the safety, soundness and solvency of the institution.

The Bill specifies that the corporation and the appropriate regulator may, on the basis of the information received from any SIFI or otherwise and for reasons to be recorded in writing, jointly inspect the institution in such manner as may be specified by regulations made by the corporation in consultation with the appropriate regulator. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the regulation and supervision of SIFIs shall continue to be governed by the appropriate regulator with which the SIFI is registered.

What this means is that a SIFI continues to be under close scrutiny by the Resolution Corporation, which may initiate action against it at any given time—order its acquisition or amalgamation or liquidation. Liquidation may be ruled out in the case of the SBI, but handing it over to another entity is a real fear.

Bankers protest

According to a note circulated by the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation (AIBOC), which is spearheading the agitation against this Bill, the FRDI Bill vests tremendous powers in the corporation, even undermining those that vest in the RBI, the CVC and the CBI. According to this note, the bankers have taken exception to the Bill because it seeks to undermine the spirit of bank nationalisation.

Besides, the SBI, which has a huge reach into the nooks and crannies of India, will come under the mercy of the government and will always be under threat of privatisation, whereas the present SBI Act says the bank can never be liquidated/privatised. Besides, if such an eventuality arises, no court can question this action. Since the SBI has already been notified as a SIFI, it is only natural that a sense of insecurity has been set in. Besides the SBI, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank have also been designated as SIFIs.

Similarly, the Resolution Corporation can transfer an insurance company to another service provider, decide the performance incentive for the chairman and executives of an insurance corporation, become a receiver, and remove managerial and other persons from office. The corporation will also have the power to supersede the board of directors of an insurance corporation. The corporation can also become a liquidator.

According to Thomas D. Franco, general secretary of the AIBOC, the Bill gives draconian powers to an authority, which will be under the Finance Ministry, and also dilutes the powers of the RBI. Banks and insurance companies will be at the mercy of this corporation’s board, which in turn will be subservient to the Finance Ministry.

In the name of deposit insurance also, the Bill is discriminatory in nature: it goes against the interest of small depositors through its provision of “bail-in”. The depositor whose money is given as loan to the borrower is likely to lose his share of deposit in case of a “bail-in”, whereas the borrower who availed himself of the loan is likely to get off scot-free. According to Franco, the “bail-in” concept is a double whammy.

In Cyprus, depositors lost almost 50 per cent of their savings when a “bail-in” was implemented by the resolution corporation, which is similar to what the FRDI has proposed in this Bill.

The Bill takes away the rights of depositors to get back what they deposited in full trust that their money was safe in a public sector bank as it was backed by the sovereign guarantee of the country. This provision, says Franco, goes against the fundamental right to equality, hence the Bill should be withdrawn immediately.

Banking and insurance sector employees observed a day’s strike on August 22 and held a march to Parliament House against the Bill. They have also circulated notes to Members of Parliament urging them to oppose the Bill when it comes up for debate.

According to Franco, Krishnan and other financial experts, the Bill is fundamentally flawed because it has been blindly copied and pasted from the Western model, whereas the situation in India is totally different. “In our country, there is already a resolution mechanism for all financial service providers, which is available with the Reserve Bank of India. In addition, we have also brought in an insolvency and bankruptcy code. We have also created a National Company Law Tribunal. Hence there is no need for a new resolution mechanism,” they say.

Similarly, they say, there is IRDAI for the insurance sector, and RRBs and cooperative banks have their own mechanism. In addition, the DICGC, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the RBI, is functioning effectively.

In fact, since its inception, the DICGC had to pay only Rs.50.3 billion, whereas it had Rs.701.5 billion as deposit insurance fund as on March 2017. It also has Rs.7,16,322 million as investments. As on March 2017, the balance in the Deposit Insurance Fund is Rs.6,45,578.48 million and the balance in the Credit Guarantee Fund is Rs.7,30,027.64 million.

Except cooperative banks, no other banks have had to make claims from the DICGC. “This clearly shows that the depositors are safe in our country and there is no need for another resolution mechanism to provide deposit insurance to consumers,” they say.

But with the majority that the government enjoys in both Houses of Parliament now, it is anybody’s guess which way the Bill will go. Unless of course, the government pauses and takes stock of the situation.

 http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/dangers-in-a-bill/article9896821.ece

Interview with Thomas Franco, general secretary, AIBOC. By V. SRIDHAR

ONE of the big ironies of demonetisation has been that the banking industry, which caught the first blast of the shock waves of demonetisation, has spoken so little about the unprecedented crisis it has undergone. Instead, the chiefs of the banks, public as well as private, have sung paeans to demonetisation even though it wrecked their business, exposed their staff to unprecedented stress and reduced the entire banking machinery in the country to nothing but glorified cash dispensers. Through all this, it was only the unions in banks that stood up to speak about how for several months banks had to virtually suspend their normal business activity in order to collect and dispense cash. And the burden of asking searching questions—from the Prime Minister, the Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI)—on behalf of a hapless industry, too, fell on the unions. Thomas Franco, general secretary, All India Bank Officers Confederation, who has been an outspoken critic of demonetisation, spoke to Frontline about how Indian banking would take a very long time to recover from the battering it has suffered in the wake of demonetisation. Excerpts from the interview:

One of the lesser-known aspects of demonetisation is about the kind of pressure and stress bank employees faced, because they were the ones facing the public’s wrath after demonetisation, especially in the first three or four months.

Initially, especially on the first day, people were tolerant. They were only worried about getting some money. Although the RBI had announced that currency would be available with banks, cash had not reached most bank branches across the country. It had sent some currency to the currency chests of the specialised Currency Administration Branches of banks, in some cases about two weeks before the demonetisation announcement. Staff at the currency chests had been told not to open the boxes containing currency. I had seen that most branches had not received adequate supply of currency on the first day banks were open to the public after the announcement. The huge queues at banks meant that bank staff had to be deployed in tasks completely beyond their normal line of work—arranging shamianas for the huge crowds that had gathered at banks and generally counselling distressed people who desperately wanted some money. Chaos reigned. After about a week, people started getting angry with the bank staff.

The irresponsible manner in which the RBI kept issuing statements that adequate currency was available with banks only infuriated people even more because they started assuming that bank staff were not giving them their money. Moreover, although RBI set a limit of Rs.24,000 a week to every customer, faced with the severe shortage we had to dispense scarce currency by rationing it to much lower limits. Things got even more complicated because the RBI was making changes and amendments to its initial notification almost on a daily basis. For instance, it said higher limits were permissible for marriages. But when the actual circular reached the banks they found the complicated conditions attached to such withdrawals made it practically impossible to administer. How was a hapless customer to understand that bank staff were not responsible for not allowing them to withdraw their own money? All this meant bank staff had to face the wrath of the people for no fault of theirs. Neither the RBI nor the Finance Ministry did anything to own up responsibility for the mess they had created.

The load on banks was aggravated by the fact that ATMs had not been recalibrated to handle the new notes. I have seen senior bank employees reduced to tears by abusive customers who were desperate. There were even a few deaths of bank employees—in Bhopal, Hyderabad and other places—while on duty because of the severe stress they had to undergo. In none of these cases has the government given any extra compensation. Soon after the announcement of demonetisation, seven State Bank of India employees and their van driver died in Uttar Pradesh in an accident, but even in this case the bank management has refused to give employment to their nearest kin on compassionate grounds.

Apparently, even overtime that was to be paid to employees during the initial period has not been paid…

Yes, it has not been paid in most banks. Different banks have followed different methods for calculating the extra wages due to employees for having worked far beyond regular working hours and for having worked on holidays. The SBI paid Rs.6,000 for the first two days and Rs.5,000 for the two days following that, but nothing more after that. We are still fighting with the management for compensating us for the work we had done during the initial months after demonetisation. Some banks have paid no extra allowances at all. In several others only a token amount of about Rs.500 has been paid to employees. We raised this issue recently with the Indian Banks Association—the association representing bank managements—when we went for wage negotiations.

But banks’ expenses must have also shot up during this period, especially because they were forced to handle tasks that were peripheral to their main task as a banking institution.

Banks were saddled with huge expenses that arose as a direct result of demonetisation. Some of the senior officers at banks have also raised this with the Finance Ministry, that they need to be compensated for this. But the Ministry has simply refused to address this issue. According to one estimate, banks incurred costs to the tune of about Rs.8,000 crore. First, banks had to incur the cost of recalibration of ATMs for which they were not paid anything. Second, they had to incur higher staff and logistical costs. Third, there were costs on security and logistics that were incurred in order to manage the crowds at branches across the country. Fourth, even storing the demonetised currency meant additional storage costs and the security costs associated with it; the RBI’s failure to quickly evacuate such currency posed an additional burden.

Above all, bank staff could not do any of their normal banking work, which meant huge losses in terms of business revenue. Nobody in the government, the RBI or even bank managements would even dare to compute such losses. Banks had to abandon the follow-up on recovery of NPA accounts, nor could they pursue new business for lending. The irony is that we had huge amounts of money (because of the increase in deposits, on which banks had to pay interest), but we could not lend!

But things have not got better for banks even after the cash shortage has eased since last November.

The entire economy was hit by demonetisation. For customers, repayment of loans became difficult. Credit offtake also slowed down. Many companies are functioning at reduced capacities—at just 30-50 per cent capacity in many cases. The level of NPAs is still rising. Many of our customers—farmers, small industrialists and others—are saying that demand has not picked up even now. Obviously, these conditions are affecting the banking sector.

Looking back, what do you think was the motive for undertaking demonetisation?

In my opinion, the government was desperate to show that it was doing something. It also wanted to demonstrate that people would stand by it even if it took “tough” decisions. I do not think the government was foolish to think that black money would be wiped out by demonetisation, but it wanted to show that it was doing something to attack the menace. It is also true that, at least initially, many people believed this.

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Gujarat’s Rs 20,000 crore gas scam and malfunctioning EVMs: Are they connected?

Post election results in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab this year and, more recently, the ongoing campaigning for Gujarat assembly polls, have raised two very pertinent national issues affecting the freedom and rights of every citizen of the country.

1. GSPC SCAM: CAG reported Rs 20000 crore loss to Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation Ltd (GSPC) during the time of Narendra Modi as the chief minister of Gujarat. Congress has alleged a scam as the party targetted Modi and the companies that were selected arbitrarily. The biggest beneficiary from the so called Gujarat Gas Scam was one Barbados /Mauritius based company “Geo Global Resources”.

2. Allegations of EVM Tampering: Unending allegations by all parties except the BJP have been raised questioning the integrity and credibility of the Electronic Voting Machines also known as EVMs. More than the Election Commission, the BJP has been defending the infallibility of the EVM.

Janta Ka Reporter has been looking into the ownership patterns of both the  Geo Global Resources and the EVM microchip manufacturing company in USA. Our report raises questions about whether the beneficiaries of the GSPC scam and those responsible for manufacturing the microchips for India’s EVMs are connetced.

GSPC Scam through Geo Global Resources leads to Microchip Inc, USA 

As per the CAG report, the exploration activities undertaken by the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation on KG Basin led to a government loss of over Rs 20,000 crore and did not result in any fruitful oil production. Geo-Global Resources (formerly a social media and publishing company known as Suite101.com) was a private company listed in Barbados and based in Ahmedabad when it was taken as the private exploratory partner without any transparent bidding. In return to its services, it was also offered 10% stake in GSPC.

Geo-Global Resources, without any previous credentials and proven track record, was co-opted while ONGC, despite being more qualified for the same role, was ignored. Congress has alleged that Geo-Global Resources was a fraud company, which was instrumental in siphoning off millions of dollars of public money in the name of exploration activity and consultation.

Also Read:  EVMs used by EC are tamper-proof, parliamentary panel told

Hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh, had said last year that Geo Global was chosen “secretly” without following any transparent procedure and contrary to established principles.

Quoting the CAG report Ramesh had said, “This crony capitalism has been taken to another height of plunder of public money by the Gujarat government and GSPC investing ₹1,734.60 crore from public exchequer on behalf of GeoGlobal Resources without recovering a single penny.”

ONGC, which was overlooked in favour of a start-up company Geo Global Resources, is now being asked to take over the entire losses of GSPC. Incidentally, the Centre’s BJP government had recently appointed its fiery spokesperson Sambit Patra as one of the directors of ONGC.

We tracked the details of Geo Global Resources, India as a company. Geo Global Resources (India) was found to be listed in Barbados with its parent company Geo Global Resources Inc, headquartered in Calgary, Canada. Interestingly, Geo Global Resources Inc is a subsidiary of Key Capital Corp, a financial group in USA. The ownership pattern of Key Corp and Microchip Inc, USA that manufactures microchips for the EVMs used in India is strikingly similar. (See the graph below)

As per the details available, one of the manufacturers of EVM Micro-Controller is The Microchip Inc, USA. It is headed by an NRI Billionaire Steve Sanghi, who hails from Haryana and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Electronics and Communication from Punjab University. The President and Chief Operating Officer of the same company is another NRI, Ganesh Moorthy, who holds a B.Sc. degree in physics from the University of Bombay.

Steve Sanghi of Microchip Inc, USA

Not only does Microchip Inc supply the microchip used in Indian EVMs but it also writes the software programme on the microchip before sealing it in a way that no one, not even the Election Commission or Bharat Electronics Limited and or Electronics Corporation of India Ltd can read the programme.

The Common Ownership Pattern of Key Corp and The Microchip Inc

When we went through the NASDAQ website, it showed a startling similarity between the owners of both companies. This leads us to a very dangerous conclusion that there may exist a strong possibility of Multinational Companies and Financial Institutions controlling the Indian democracy through EVMs.

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Geo Global Resources has Key Capital Group as its parent organisation. The institutional ownership pattern of Key Capital Corp, when checked on the NASDAQ website, reveals that global financial giants that own Key Corp also own ‘The Microchip Inc’ which is headed by two NRIs. Therefore, the beneficiary of GSPC Scam happens to be the owners of EVM chip manufacturing company. This is a scary proposition considering widespread speculation that EVMs are somehow manipulating the results to benefit the BJP in recent elections since 2014.

gas scam

 

 

 

Importance of EVM microchip 

The EVM machine has two units: Control Unit and Ballot Unit. Control Unit is the computer which has its CPU built inside the Microchip Controller (MCU) and the Ballot Unit is the key board. Put simply, the MCU is the brain of the EVM. The software called the Machine Code, when written over the MCU decides all its functionalities. As a security measure for EVMs’ Source Code, this MCU after getting coded is fused or burnt so that the Machine Code can never be read back and duplicated or modified.

Election Commission (EC) developed its Software Programme with the help of few BEL and ECIL scientists with un-impeachable integrity, at least that’s what the poll body claims. The EC has time and again maintained that the source code of an EVM was a ‘top secret.’ It is so secretive that not even the EC has a copy. The importance of this source code is self-explanatory but if those scientists and the employees of BEL and ECIL ever breached the security protocol, the EVM is compromised. Let’s assume that even a billion dollar bribe cannot buy these scientists and assume that EVM source code has not been compromised at this level.

EC then outsourced the procurement of the MCU or microchip to foreign vendors namely Renesas Japan and Microchip Inc, USA since no company in India had the sophisticated technology to produce microchips or MCU. However, for some reasons best known to the EC they also outsourced the task to write the source code on the microchip to these foreign vendors.

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The EC in its FAQ, published by the government’s publicity department, PIB, says, ” The Software Programme Code is written in-house, by these two companies (BEL and ECIL) , not outsourced, and subjected to security procedures at factory level to maintain the highest levels of integrity. The programme is converted into machine code and only then given to the chip manufacturer abroad because we dont have the capability of producing semi-conductor microchips within the country.”

It is here that the Election Commission gives a misleading declaration and false assurance. Because what the EC doesn’t say is that the programme code, which is written in binary language, can be read and tinkered by the microchip manufacturing companies. These manufacturing companies abroad can tinker with the programme in order to suit the interests of a certain political party.

These are some of the probabilities of how the programme codes can be tinkered with.

  • Transfer a percentage of votes from other candidates in favour of one political party 24 hours after the machine has been turned off
  • Transfer a percentage of votes from other candidates in favour of one political party once the machine has been turned on after votes having been cast

Since the microchip manufacturing companies in the US and Japan deliver microchips in a sealed condition, even the EC is not in a position to verify if its original programme code, prepared by its scientists at BEL and ECIL have been modified.

The EC has till date has ALSO not explained if it ever performed any background checks on Sanghi and Moorthy. The disturbing similarity in the ownership pattern between the beneficiaries of the Gujarat’s gas scam and the companies that produced microchips will now cast a shadow of doubt on the authenticity of India’s EVMs.

Janta Ka Reporter – Leading the Media Revolution in India

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Jharkhand -Rs 100 crore meant for midday meal transferred to private builder #WTFnews

Officials in Jharkhand say that Rs. 100 crore from a state government account for the midday meal programme in State Bank of India was transferred to a private builder. The CBI has reportedly registered a case and launched investigation.

#LGBTQ" data-image-description="<h1 class="title"></h1> <div class="postmetadata"><span class="text-by">BY</span> <span class="author vcard"><a class="url fn n" title="View all posts by Bianca Fileborn, Anthony Lyons and Jennifer Power" href="http://thewire.in/author/fileborn-lyons-power/" rel="author">BIANCA FILEBORN, ANTHONY LYONS AND JENNIFER POWER</a></span> <span class="text-on">ON</span> <a title="8:50 am" href="http://thewire.in/2015/06/11/why-criminalising-homosexuality-is-a-public-health-hazard/" rel="bookmark">11/06/2015</a></div> <section class="entry"> <div class="sharedaddy sd-sharing-enabled"> <div class="robots-nocontent sd-block sd-social sd-social-icon-text sd-sharing"> <h3 class="sd-title"></h3> <div class="sd-content"></div> </div> </div> <p>Homosexuality remains <a href="http://www.loc.gov/law/help/criminal-laws-on-homosexuality/african-nations-laws.php" target="_blank">illegal</a> in 38 of 55 <a class="zem_slink" title="Africa" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">African nations</a>. Such a stance against <a class="zem_slink" title="Homosexuality" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">homosexuality</a> is concerning from ethical and human rights perspectives. It also poses serious risks from a public health perspective, not least of all because of the significant rates of <a href="http://www.avert.org/impact-hiv-and-aids-sub-saharan-africa.htm" target="_blank">HIV across Africa</a>.</p> <p>Men who have sex with men account for a substantial minority of those affected by HIV, with their risk of infection more than double that of the <a href="http://www.aidsmap.com/HIV-prevalence-among-South-African-MSM-twice-as-high-as-general-population/page/1323795/" target="_blank">general population</a>. Many <a class="zem_slink" title="List of sovereign states and dependent territories in Africa" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_in_Africa" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">African countries</a> also harbour homophobic cultures and attitudes. Together, this creates an environment where homosexuality is highly stigmatised, with homosexual people socially isolated and marginalised.</p> <p>We know from decades of research across stigmatised and <a class="zem_slink" title="Social exclusion" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_exclusion" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">socially excluded</a> groups, such as <a href="http://www.scarletalliance.org.au/library/unjust-counterproductive/file_view" target="_blank">sex workers</a>, <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17981451" target="_blank">injecting drug users</a> and <a class="zem_slink" title="Men who have sex with men" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_who_have_sex_with_men" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">men who have sex with men</a>, that criminalisation does little to change behaviour, while actively contributing to increased stigma and marginalisation of these groups. This amplifies the health risks by driving stigmatised communities underground, isolating them from health or support initiatives.</p> <p>What does this mean for homosexual people across Africa?</p> <p><strong>HIV</strong></p> <p>One of the greatest health risks created through the criminalisation of homosexuality relates to the treatment and prevention of HIV.</p> <p>The current situation in <a href="http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-uganda.htm" target="_blank">Uganda</a> provides a striking case study of how the law can affect responses to HIV. Uganda was once considered a regional leader in HIV prevention. Just over 7% of the Ugandan population are HIV positive. This is significantly lower than the rate of 15%, which was projected two decades ago. <a href="http://pmj.bmj.com/content/81/960/615.full" target="_blank">Uganda’s success</a> in preventing HIV transmission is often attributed to an early, progressive, and ambitious government response.</p> <p>However, in recent years the Ugandan government has taken an <a href="http://www.hrw.org/reports/2005/03/29/less-they-know-better" target="_blank">increasingly conservative approach</a>to HIV-prevention, supporting abstinence-only programs and refusing to promote condom use.</p> <p>This has been accompanied by a major crack down on homosexuality in the form of the <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/.../afr590032010en.pdf" target="_blank">Anti-Homosexuality Bill</a>, signed into law in 2014, although it was later annulled. The Ugandan government plans to introduce further <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-29994678" target="_blank">anti-gay legislation</a>, and homosexuality remains illegal. Similar legislation has also been introduced in <a href="https://theconversation.com/gambia-becomes-the-latest-african-country-to-enact-hateful-anti-gay-laws-34617" target="_blank">The Gambia</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center"> <div class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img src="https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/84329/width668/image-20150609-27130-1awoagt.jpg" alt="Where homosexuality has been criminalised, men are likely to avoid HIV testing. Credit: Leonie Pauw/Shutterstock" width="668" height="508" /></p> <p class="wp-caption-text">Where homosexuality has been criminalised, men are likely to avoid HIV testing. Credit: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-251585581/stock-photo-african-nurse-is-drawing-blood-from-an-african-male-for-blood-tests.html?src=Bu_4rpqBLm1f-g6UbZuXsA-1-59" target="_blank">Leonie Pauw/Shutterstock</a></p> </div> </figure> <p><a class="zem_slink" title="Criminalization" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminalization" target="_blank" rel="wikipedia">Criminalisation</a> of same-sex sexual practice cripples any initiatives aimed to prevent HIV transmission among this group or to provide treatment to HIV-positive men. Men are rightly afraid of disclosing their sexuality to service providers – who are required by law to report same-sex sexual practices. Anyone trying to organise a program around HIV prevention for men who have sex with men could be charged with “<a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17290376.2012.744177" target="_blank">promoting homosexuality</a>”.</p> <p><a href="http://journals.lww.com/aidsonline/Fulltext/2015/06190/Hidden_from_health___structural_stigma,_sexual.15.aspx" target="_blank">Research has shown</a> that where homosexuality has been criminalised, men are likely to avoid HIV testing or seeking knowledge about safer sex if it risks exposing their sexual activities.</p> <p>But beyond this, increased levels of stigma – which inevitably results from criminalisation – mean gay and bisexual men are actually <a href="http://journals.lww.com/aidsonline/Fulltext/2015/06190/Hidden_from_health___structural_stigma,_sexual.15.aspx" target="_blank">more likely</a> to engage in risky sexual behavior.</p> <p>Criminalisation also decimates gay networks and communities. Gay and bisexual men in Western countries such as <a href="http://press.anu.edu.au//apps/bookworm/view/Movement,+Knowledge,+Emotion:+Gay+activism+and+HIV-AIDS+in+Australia/6291/Text/upfront.html" target="_blank">Australia</a> and the United States had the social capital needed to mobilise the community to initiate HIV information and prevention programs. Community-led prevention – and government support for community led prevention – has long been acknowledged as the most important element of <a href="http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/HE13078.htm" target="_blank">Australia’s successful efforts</a> to reduce HIV transmission.</p> <p>Criminalising homosexuality removes the capacity for gay communities to organise and to mobilise around HIV prevention by effectively making such initiatives a criminal offence.</p> <p><strong>Mental health and well-being</strong></p> <p>The decimation of homosexual communities and stigmatisation of homosexuality has further implications for health and well-being.</p> <p>The criminalisation of homosexuality entrenches the stigma associated with it. There is a great deal of <a href="http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/8/70/" target="_blank">evidence</a> that many individuals who experience stigma or marginalisation also experience considerable stress.</p> <p>Worldwide, lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) men and women experience far higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other stress-related disorders compared to the rest of the population. Such stress may come from discrimination, rejection, and concealment, as well as internalised stigma that leads to feelings of shame and low self-worth. In countries where homosexuality is a criminal offence, a fear of persecution and living in secrecy only adds further stress.</p> <figure class="align-center"> <div class="wp-caption aligncenter"><img src="https://62e528761d0685343e1c-f3d1b99a743ffa4142d9d7f1978d9686.ssl.cf2.rackcdn.com/files/84330/width668/image-20150609-27084-1jna7rh.jpg" alt="Criminalising homosexuality removes the capacity for gay communities to organise and to mobilise around HIV prevention. Credit: oceanfishing/Shutterstock" width="668" height="445" /></p> <p class="wp-caption-text">Criminalising homosexuality removes the capacity for gay communities to organise and to mobilise around HIV prevention. Credit: <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-205401436/stock-photo-rainbow-flag.html?src=ztyN8zLxJYA2-DAebCnfmQ-1-9" target="_blank">oceanfishing/Shutterstock</a></p> </div> </figure> <p>According to <a href="http://www.apa.org/pi/aids/resources/exchange/2012/04/minority-stress.aspx" target="_blank">Minority Stress Theory</a>, living with stigma-related stress has direct repercussions on health. Not only does it place individuals at greater risk of mental health problems, but chronic stress is also linked with physical health outcomes, such as heart disease.</p> <p>Self-medication through substance abuse is also a risk, with LGB populations also tending to have <a href="http://www.cdc.gov/msmhealth/substance-abuse.htm" target="_blank">higher rates</a> of alcohol consumption and drug dependence.</p> <p>Conversely, LGB people with strong social networks and support tend to have <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14623730.2014.903621" target="_blank">better mental and physical health outcomes</a>.</p> <p><strong>The law as harm</strong></p> <p>Criminalisation forces LGB men and women to live in stressful circumstances, and amplifies the stigma and marginalisation these groups experience. It renders LGB people invisible and creates significant barriers to openly accessing relevant health services and treatment.</p> <p>In a continent that withstands the worst of the global HIV epidemic, the criminal regulation of homosexuality can only be viewed as an affront to the health of homosexual communities.</p> <p>http://thewire.in/2015/06/11/why-criminalising-homosexuality-is-a-public-health-hazard/</p> </section> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="wp-image-53316 size-full td-animation-stack-type0-1" src="http://www.jantakareporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/mid-day-meal.jpg" sizes="(max-width: 640px) 100vw, 640px" srcset="http://www.jantakareporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/mid-day-meal.jpg 640w, http://www.jantakareporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/mid-day-meal-300x225.jpg 300w, http://www.jantakareporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/mid-day-meal-80x60.jpg 80w, http://www.jantakareporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/mid-day-meal-265x198.jpg 265w, http://www.jantakareporter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/mid-day-meal-560x420.jpg 560w" alt="midday meal " width="640" height="480" />
File photo

The federal probe agency, according to a report by PTI, has also carried out searches at the official premises of the accused and the company Bhanu Construction in Ranchi.

An FIR has been registered against the company, its partners Sanjay Kumar Tiwari and Suresh Kumar and Ajay Oraon, former deputy manager of the bank’s Hatia branch. Oraon has also been suspended now.

The FIR, registered on the complaint of a State Bank of India officer, alleged that a deputy manager (Business Development Department) of the bank “dishonestly and by abusing his official position” transferred over Rs. 100 crore from the account of “Rajya Madhyan Bhojan Pradhikaran” to Bhanu Construction.

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“On August 05, 2017, State Bank of India, Hatia Branch received six debit advices from the…Government of Jharkhand for transfer of Rs. 120.31 crore from their Saving Bank Account to multiple accounts maintained with different banks including State Bank of India,” PTI quoted the FIR.

Rs. 20.29 crore was to be transferred to State Bank of India and Rs. 100.01 crore was to be transferred to other bank accounts, the FIR said.

For bulk transfer through real time gross settlement and national electronic fund transfer (RTGS/NEFT), Rs. 100.01 crore was debited from the account of Jharkhand Rajya Madhyan Bhojan Pradhikaran and was temporarily parked in office/suspense account of the branch for processing of the transfer to various accounts.

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“Due to failure in uploading, the entire amount of Rs. 100.01 crore got returned to the office and suspense account of the Branch,” it said.

Instead of crediting back Rs. 100.01 crore to the account of Jharkhand Rajya Madhyan Bhojan Pradhikaran from office account, it alleged that then deputy manager Oraon transferred the amount to the current account of Bhanu Construction.

Mr Tiwari and Mr Kumar dishonestly transferred the amount to their various accounts. It was utilised and misappropriated by keeping it as a liquid security or margin for the credit facility extended to them by Axis Bank Ltd, HDFC Bank, SREI Equipment Finance Ltd and Cholamandalam Investment and Finance Company Ltd, the FIR alleged.

According to the FIR, the SBI managed to recover Rs. 76.29 crore on November 20, 2017 from various accounts with different banks but Rs. 23.28 crore could not recovered, “resulting in loss to the bank and corresponding gain for Bhanu Construction”.

The agency has booked the accused under charges of criminal conspiracy, cheating and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Janta Ka Reporter – Leading the Media Revolution in India

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Defending Palestinian Rights: Jakarta Declaration

Jakarta Declaration 7th December, 2017

International Conference “In Defending Palestinian Rights” –
Jakarta 7-8th, December 2017

We the participants of the International Palestine Conference held in Jakarta, on 7, 8 December 2017, with delegates from Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Pakistan, India, Argentina, Malalysia, Phillippines & Indonesia hereby declare:

  1. This conference resolved to continue to support the cause of the liberation of Palestine with Jerusalem (Al-Quds) as a its capital. We call upon the people and the nations of the world to continue to support the Palestinian People and the Global Intifada, the Global Resistance to establish an independent sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital. Where Palestinians of all religions co-exist with mutual respect and equality on the 1948 borders of historic Palestine. This includes all Muslims, Christians & Jews and those who did not migrate from other countries to Palestine in 1917 or before.

  2. The conference categorically condemned U.S President Trump’s statement wherein he recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Zionist Israeli Regime. Trump’s decision is illegal and a flagrant violation of all International laws and UN’s resolutions. The overwhelming majority of the nations have rejected Trump’s decision. Trump’s decision poses a threat to the holy city of Jerusalem as the continued Judaisation is a clear and present danger to the holy Masjid Al-Aqsa, the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and all other Islamic and Christian sites.

  3. The entire world is witness to the fact that the Balfour Declaration has proved to be a genocidal disaster, a “Nakba” for the Palestinian nation over the course of the last 100 years. We unanimously state that the Balfour declaration is an unpardonable crime against the Palestinian nation & thus demand that the British government apologise for their crime against humanity.

  4. We strongly condemn the occupation and the daily oppression faced by the Palestinian people inflicted upon them by the Zionist apartheid Israeli colonial regime.

  5. We call upon all the International Palestine solidarity movements, all civil society organizations, NGOs, Human Rights & Peace activists to come togather, unite and support the Palestinian Resistance against the imperialist Zionist occupation to defend & protect the holy city of Jeruslaem which is the common heritage of all of Humanity.

  6. We especially call upon the Muslim world to unite and defeat all those forces that are spreading disunity, division among the Muslim nations and come forward to unite & undertake our Islamic duty for the liberation of Palestine and the holy city of Jerusalem.

  7. We support the Right of Return of all the Palestinian refugees that had been ethnically cleansed by the Zionists. We also call for the end of the siege of the Gaza strip & an immediate end to the building of all Settlements in the West Bank.

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