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Archives for : Anna Hazare

The Brains Behind Modi Sarkar

How did a little-known think-tank end up supplying so many bureaucrats to the NDA government? Brijesh Singh reports
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What do Ajit Doval, Nripendra Misra and PK Misra have in common? Of course, they are top bureaucrats whom Narendra Modi handpicked to run his team. There is another common factor. They all hail from New Delhi-based think-tank Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF).

FormerIB director Ajit Doval was steering the ship at VIF as founder-director before he was appointed as Modi’s National Security Adviser. He was advising Modi even before the government was formed. In fact, it was Doval who came up with the idea of inviting South Asian leaders to Modi’s oath-taking ceremony.

After his stint as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) chairman was over, Nripendra Misra became a member of the VIF’s executive council. Now, he is Modi’s principal secretary. There was a legal hitch in his appointment as TRAI law bars former chairmen from holding government positions. But Modi wanted him so bad that he tabled an ordinance to amend the law.

Former Union agriculture secretary PK Misra was associated with the VIF as a Senior Fellow. Now, he is the additional principal secretary to the prime minister.

Other VIF members whom the Modi regime has tapped for inputs include former RAW chief CD Sahay, former urban development secretary Anil Baijal, former ambassador to Russia Prabhat Shukla, former IAF chief SG Inamdar and former BSF chief Prakash Singh.

Former army chief Gen (retd) NC Vij has replaced Doval as VIF director. Sources claim that many other VIF members are likely to be enrolled in the government at significant posts soon. There are reports that former DRDO director general VK Saraswat, who is currently the dean of the Centre for Scientific and Technological Studies at VIF, might replace Chief Scientific Adviser R Chidambaram.

Interestingly, the first book that Modi released after assuming office was Getting India Back on Track. Its editor is none other than Bibek Debroy, who is the dean of VIF’s Centre for Economic Studies.

So, what is the VIF? Who are the people associated with it? When and how did the think-tank become a breeding ground of candidates to fill Modi’s bureaucracy?

VIF is Doval’s brainchild. After his retirement from the IB in 2005, he focussed his energies in creating the think-tank. On 10 December 2009, Mata Amritanandamayi and Justice MN Venkatachaliah inaugurated the foundation.

The VIF is affiliated to the Kanyakumari- based Vivekananda Kendra, which was established by RSS organiser Eknath Ranade in 1970. In 1993, the Narasimha Rao government allotted land to the Vivekanada Kendra in Chanakyapuri. And VIF was founded at the same spot.

The think-tank’s website introduces the organisation in the following words, “The VIF is a New Delhi-based think-tank set up with the collaborative efforts of India’s leading security experts, diplomats, industrialists and philanthropists under the aegis of the Vivekananda Kendra. The VIF’s objective is to become a centre of excellence to kick-start innovative ideas and thoughts that can lead to a stronger, secure and prosperous India playing its destined role in global affairs.”

About its vision and mission, the website adds, “The VIF is an independent, non-partisan institution that promotes quality research and in-depth studies and is a platform for dialogue and conflict resolution. It strives to bring together the best minds in India to ideate on key national and international issues; promote initiatives that further the cause of peace and global harmony; monitor social, economic and political trends that have a bearing on India’s unity and integrity.”

The VIF has many scholars as members of its advisory and executive councils, besides former army chiefs, former ambassadors, foreign secretaries, retired RAW and IB officials, bureaucrats as well as other key officials who have held top posts at the Centre (see box).

The VIF chiefly works in eight different areas: national security and strategic studies, international relations and diplomacy, neighbourhood studies, governance and political studies, economic studies, historical and civilisational studies, technological and scientific studies, and media studies.

The VIF invites scholars and experts from all over the world for conferences and lectures. It presents India’s outlook before the New Delhi-based diplomatic community and takes their inputs to further the country’s political, strategic, economic and cultural interests. It also holds dialogues with policymakers on current affairs. It gives policy advice to government representatives, MPs, members of the judiciary and civil society. It also carries out exchange of ideas with academic institutes and research centres.

“The foundation has done commendable work in the past 5-6 years,” says former RAW chief Anand Verma, who is now a member of the VIF advisory board. “Top-level research has been conducted in various fields. Numerous seminars of national and international significance have been organised. It has held dialogues with various global think-tanks. Senior officials, including government and nongovernmental ones, from all over the world are invited for interactions. Since the think-tank has its own rules, many of its discussions are not made public.”

Modi has had a long association with the VIF. Sources reveal that he constantly took counsel from this institute regarding economic and security issues when he was the Gujarat chief minister. In fact, the VIF core team helped Modi draft the blueprint of his election campaign.

“We were confident that Modi would be elected as prime minister,” says a VIF member. “That’s why we had been working on developing foreign, security and economic policies, etc. During the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls, he was provided all the necessary inputs on various issues by the VIF. In fact, the major intellectual inputs for his political campaign in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu was organised by the foundation.”

Sources in the foundation confirm Modi’s affinity towards VIF, which prominent BJP and Sangh Parivar leaders approach for inputs on governance issues.

The links between Modi and the VIF became apparent last year. When Congress leaders attacked Modi in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, Doval jumped to his defence. The then VIF director argued that Ishrat was a member of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Congress-led UPA government was politicising the whole matter.

In the run-up to the General Election, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal alleged that under Modi’s watch, industrialists made huge profits in Gujarat, while no actual development had taken place in the state.

Following the accusation, a group named Concerned Citizens sprang to life and came out with a statement that AAP was making unsubstantiated allegations in a bid to help the Congress in the General Election. The members included Doval, author MV Kamath, journalist MJ Akbar, former Jammu & Kashmir governor SK Sinha, former bureaucrat MN Buch and economist Bibek Debroy. It was clearly part of the foundation’s strategy.

The VIF’s major achievement has been the building up of an anti-UPA (read anti- Congress) atmosphere in the past few years. Sources close to the foundation claim that VIF members played a significant role in mobilising the anti-corruption movement across the country in 2011.

“In April 2011, the decision to create an anti-corruption forum under Baba Ramdev was taken here,” reveals a VIF member on the condition of anonymity. “It had been planned for almost a year.In collaboration with KN Govindacharya’s Rashtriya Swabhiman Andolan, the foundation organised a two-day seminar on black money and corruption on 1 April 2011. Baba Ramdev, Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi attended the programme. At the end of the seminar, an anti-corruption front was formed with Baba Ramdev as patron and Govindacharya as organiser. The members included Ajit Doval, Bhishm Agnihotri (ambassador-at-large to the US when the NDA was in power), Prof R Vaidyanathan from IIM Bangalore, Ved Pratap Vaidik, journalist and Baba Ramdev’s close aide, and (author and financial expert) S Gurumurthy.”

imgMeanwhile, Govindacharya organised a meeting between Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. VIF members devised a strategy that both of them will push the anti-corruption movement forward. Three days after the seminar, Hazare began a hunger strike at Jantar Mantar. By the end of April, Ramdev had also announced an anti-UPA protest on 4 June at the Ramlila Maidan in New Delhi.

Rumour has it that the plan to corner the Congress was allegedly drafted by VIF at the behest of the BJP and the RSS. On one hand, Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev were raking up the corruption issue and protesting against the government. On the other hand, the BJP was adding fuel to fire. This is why senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh kept referring to the anti-corruption movement as an RSS conspiracy. But as the movement reached its peak and the UPA government came up with absurd steps to tackle the situation, nobody paid him any heed.

The VIF’s alleged links with the RSS has come in handy for Modi’s critics. Sangh leaders regularly visit the VIF, while RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and BJP leader LK Advani actively engage with it. Recently, Bhagwat was at the VIF to release former diplomat OP Gupta’s book Defining Hindutva. Since the VIF emerged out of the Vivekananda Kendra, critics believe it would be a mistake to consider the VIF separate from the RSS.

“VIF is an RSS project,” says a critic. “The first thing you notice when you enter the building is a photograph of Eknath Ranade. VIF is filled with right-wing officials. As they were marginalised intellectually, they created their own think-tank. It is a desperate attempt to get acknowledged in the intellectual world. If it is not so, then why does the RSS chief keep visiting the VIF?”

The critic provides some examples of the VIF’s alleged right-wing bias. “When the controversy over Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History erupted, Senior Fellow Makkhan Lal wrote that the incident has provided pseudo-secularists and anti-Hindus an opportunity to play their old trick where, in the name of freedom of speech, they bitterly criticise the Hindus,” he says. “While analysing the Lok Sabha election mandate, joint-director Prabhat Shukla wrote that the results were the outcome of the exploitation of Hindus, which has been going on for decades. Another fellow, Anirban Ganguly, wrote in his research paper titled Man and Environment in India: Past Traditions and Present Challenges about how Hinduism is intrinsically aware of the natural surroundings and that the tradition finds mention in the Vedas andArthashastra. If it is not right-wing ideology, then what is?”

However, KG Suresh, editor of the foundation’s magazine Patrika, rubbishes such allegations. “I don’t understand why there is so much negative reporting,” he says. “A picture is being projected as if everyone in the foundation is roaming around in khakis. It is wrong to link the foundation with the RSS. We are totally apolitical. Neither the BJP nor the RSS is funding us.

“We are neither pro-BJP nor anti- Congress. When the UPA was in power, we backed the government on the Devyani Khobragade issue. Similarly, we supported the UPA in the land swap deal with Bangladesh, while the Opposition raised a furore. Hence, it is wrong to call us anti- Congress. It is true that the top leadership of the BJP and the RSS take inputs from us on various issues, but even Congress leaders participate in our seminars.”

Verma is also at pains to emphasise that the VIF has no political leanings. “The think-tank is absolutely non-political and secular,” he says. “It has nothing to do with the RSS. The sole objective of the foundation is to find solutions to the various challenges before the country.

“I don’t look at the RSS the same way as the Congress does. What wrong is the RSS doing? It is only trying to restore the esteem of the Hindu community. Those who don’t understand it, abuse the Sangh. It is establishing the ancient sanskritik principles. It’s doing good work.

“When Swami Vivekananda delivered his speech in Chicago in 1893, it caught the world’s attention. But he was criticised for giving rise to a new Hinduism. If even Vivekananda is not considered secular, then who can be considered so?”

Agrees Maroof Raza, a consultant and strategic affairs expert with Times Now, who regularly participates in various programmes organised by the foundation. “Although there are rumours about VIF’s association with the RSS, no right-wing bias has come to light,” he says. “In fact, the foundation is doing excellent work.”

To buttress his point, Verma adds, “Recently, we organised a conference on the Kashmir issue and members from the PDP, Congress and National Conference took part in the discussion. (Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind chief ) Maulana Mahmood Madani also visited the foundation recently. So has the head of Pakistan’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Even the Dalai Lama has attended several programmes here.”

Adds another VIF member, “When the UPA was in power, many PMO officials attended our seminars. In fact, minister Kumari Selja came here to release a book.”

Shedding light on the VIF’s objectives, Verma says, “Among significant issues taken up by the foundation, one is to present the correct cultural, traditional and spiritual aspects of India. We have studied from books that offered a distorted version of our history. Today, we learn history from books prepared by the British and (Thomas) Macaulay. Their objective was to make us feel inferior and destroy our fundamental Indian values. We need to know our actual history and the foundation is working towards it. The history of India is being rewritten in 10-11 volumes, of which half are ready.

“It was necessary to establish VIF. The situation was such that whenever someone talked about Indian culture, Leftist intellectuals would dismiss him or her. They felt he or she was preaching Hinduism. The Leftist historians see RSS conspiracy in anything that involves culture.”

Adds Suresh, “Indian history must be nationalised. The Left has already been marginalised politically. Now, it will be marginalised intellectually. We had been on the margins so far, now it is their turn.”

Another VIF member echoes the sentiment. “Most of the think-tanks are governed by Leftists,” he says. “Ours is a platform for non-Leftists and nationalists who were considered untouchables in the intellectual world.”

On the subject of funding, Verma says, “This institute is funded by people from all over the world. It is not funded by any government organisation. People like you and me fund it.” In 2013, VIF reportedly received donations worth 1.5 crore.

Verma rubbishes allegations that the Sangh Parivar played a part in the appointment of Doval and Misra, saying that their elevation was made purely on merit. “I know the bureaucracy inside out,” says Verma. “I can declare with conviction that they have no match in the entire civil services. Just as they say about Modi, there is nobody like Doval.”

But are they not close to the Sangh Parivar? “Doval is a completely apolitical person,” he replies. “Yes, personally he may have cultural preferences, but in public life, he is very professional.”

As VIF basks in the newfound limelight, foreign dignitaries are making a beeline to the think-tank. Just days after Doval’s elevation, two Chinese delegations came calling. The same day, a 17-member British team, including Royal College of Defence Studies commandant David Bill, visited the place. Later, a delegation from the US Army War College held discussions with VIF’s security experts on nuclear weapons. Experts from the French Atomic Energy Agency and diplomats also paid a visit to discuss various matters, including security issues.

As more and more VIF members join the Narendra Modi sarkar, it is a no-brainer that the think-tank will play a key role in formulating the country’s foreign, economic and security policies.

Translated from Tehelka Hindi by Naushin Rehman

[email protected]

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Press Release- Thousands of Mahrashtra farmers, workers ‘Cry Halt!’ for sale of sugar co-operatives

NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS

National Office : 6/6 Jangpura B, New Delhi – 110 014 . Phone : 011 2437 4535

Ø Anna Hazare, MedhaPatkar and others pledge to save

        co-operatives

Ø After 9th October Mass Rally, ‘Jail Bharo’ if no response in 1 month

One of the biggest scams discovered in Maharashtra by the farmers and workers is that of the sale of the co-operative sugar factories purchased by the political leaders across parties. It has involved not only present ministers and former chief ministers but also opposition leaders. It has been a story of the open transfer of public property to private pockets, at a minimal, unjustifiable price, amounting to daylight robbery and loot. The minimum value involved is not less than Rs 10,000 crores.

At the mass rally organized on 9th October at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, by All-India Sugar Factories Workers’ Federation and National Alliance of People’s Movements, and supported by Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana and Kisan Sabha, various local sugar co-operative organizations were addressed by Anna Hazare, MedhaPatkar, Raju Shetty (Member of Parliament), Manikrao Jadhav, Manohar Patwari (both former MLAs), and Babanrao Pawar (leader of Workers’ Federation), along with others. A delegation met the Chief Minister and demandedcomplete halt to sale of sugar co-operatives, no leasing out of co-operative factories, reversal of fraudulent auction and sale, and full-fledged comprehensive judicial enquiry into the sale till date, leading to punishing the culprits.

Why were Tuteja Committee recommendations, made in 2005 and accepted then, not implemented, they asked the Chief Minister, and demanded that the Government of Maharashtra immediately send a proposal to the Centre and request use of Sugar Development Fund, amounting to over Rs 5000 crores, lying with the Food and Civil Supplies Department (UoI) for repayment of debts and recovery by the co-operatives. Anna Hazare, Medha Patkar and others have warned the Chief Minister and declared that if no concrete step is taken by the State within a month, Jail Bharo Andolan will start across Maharashtra. ‘Sahakar Bachao, Desh Bachao’ was the slogan, as the movement is not only to focus on sugar co-operatives, but also to demand enquiry into sold out, indebted and sick co-operatives in dairy and textiles; fraud and manipulation to kill housing co-operatives and effect change in policy and law to protect and facilitate ‘co-operation’, not politician-builders or politician-corporates.

A story that began to be unveiled from one factory to another led to a struggle in the case of some. The Girna Sugar Co-operative in Malegaon (district Nasik)got auctioned and sold to Armstrong Infrastructure Private Limited in 2010 without consulting members and shareholders, and paying the dues amounting to a few hundred crores, to the farmers and workers. The overall property of the factory, having included about 300 acres of land, an old, strong godown building, a one-storey office building, workers’ quarters, expensive machinery, etc., having a market value of Rs 300 to 400 crores, was ‘auctioned’ out fraudulently, and sold for a mere Rs 27 crores to a company with the son and nephew of Mr ChhaganlalBhujbal, PWD Minister in the present cabinet, as Directors of ‘Armstrong’ (literal translation of ‘Bhujbal’). It has now been exposed that the same has happened in at least 35 or more factories across the state. While 60 others were on their way, a hue and cry was raised by workers in Sholapur, Latur (in Kannad and Paithan), Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, Nasik and various other districts by ManikraoJadhav, ManoharPatwari and others. The workers and farmers who had given their lands with consent at minimal price took to a struggle with padayatras, rallies, and court cases from 2010 till date, and have now reached the apex court.

Today it is known that the co-operatives, which were once the centres of political activity and sources of support for the upward mobility of many a politician, were used and thrown by them. After having amassed unjustifiable amounts of loans from various co-operative and other banks, such as Maharashtra State Co-operative Bank, IDBI, IFCI, ICICI, etc., and the comforts to luxuries they could enjoy, indebtedness was inevitable. The same was again used by the same leaders to their benefit, resorting to the Bank’s confiscation of property followed by auction, to purchase the invaluable property themselves for a throwaway price, thereby making a huge profit. The auction process too was fraudulent as the leaders ensured there was no transparency, nor accountability, and others were either stopped from entering the same or bullied down. The nexus of politicians in co-operatives, banks and ministries or parties operated to draw all benefits and manoeuvre all decisions, now stands fully exposed.

‘Co-operation’ as an economic route, with the potential to counter Statist and Corporate paradigmsand take democratic alternatives ahead, is under attack. The reflection of global capitalism in our policies and processes in the country is demonstrated here by the vulgar moves by fearless politicians who are themselves eating into the flesh and blood of people’s democracy and public property, both. The movement is committed to stop and reverse this.

The decision by the Maharasthra cabinet on September 3rd, 2013 was to stop further sale but not leasing or renting out of sugar co-operatives, even on a long term basis. The movement opposes this… It is obvious that the leaders of the parties in power, NCP and Congress, Ajit Pawar, Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh and his son, Amit Deshmukh, Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayantrao Patil, Ranjit Deshmukh, Fauzia Khan, are among those directly or indirectly (through their relatives to cadre-workers) involved, the investigation reveals. NitinGadkari and Eknath Khadse are also involved in purchase and Gopinath Munde in leasing out of co-operatives, resulting in tacit support by the opposition. It is an open secret and the talk of the district as to how these leaders have managed to amass wealth, especially huge chunks of land, and political power, both by killing the well-known co-operative sector in the ‘progressive’ state. It is also not shocking that many of the same factories declared sick and in debt, are run in profit, even with increasing capacity as in the case of the Kannad co-operative that is making huge profit after having closed and sold the co-operative, kicking out about 800 workers and avoiding Rs 53 crores of payment.

All this is a scandal of huge proportion and serious implications, and hence, the movement. NAPM is committed to take up the challenge not only to get the matter investigated, but also to get a Tribunal set up for enquiry as well as criminal action against the heinous crime committed at the cost of life and livelihood of thousands of farmers, workers and rights of common citizens.

We appeal to all conscious citizens and those fighting corruption and supporting co-operation to join us in our upcoming programs, to carry out and support research and investigation, offer financial support and raise the issue to all means and media.

 

 

Contact: Seela Manaswinee               Suniti S.R                 Dr Sugan Baranth

09212587159 / 09423965153               09423571784                   0942225279

 

 

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#India – Why Narendra Modi behaves like larger-than-life Rambo

#WTFnews</a> (kractivist.wordpress.com)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/05/19/join-gherao-of-industries-minister-residence-on-19th-may-in-kaithal/" target="_blank">Join GHERAO of Industries Minister residence on 19th May in Kaithal</a> (kractivist.wordpress.com)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/05/01/maruti-suzuki-workers-union-pamphlet-on-the-occasion-of-may-day/" target="_blank">Maruti Suzuki Workers Union pamphlet on the occasion of May day</a> (kractivist.wordpress.com)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/press-release-147-workers-of-maruti-suzuki-union-in-kaithal-arrested/" target="_blank">PRESS RELEASE- 147 workers of Maruti Suzuki Union in Kaithal Arrested</a> (kractivist.wordpress.com)</li> <li class="zemanta-article-ul-li"><a href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/05/22/unions-left-wing-outfits-demand-release-of-maruti-workers/" target="_blank">Unions, left-wing outfits demand release of Maruti workers</a> (kractivist.wordpress.com)</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" class="size-large wp-image-20037" alt="This Pic is by Amir Rizvi" src="http://kractivist.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/rambo.jpg?w=625" width="625" height="658" />

This Pic is by Amir Rizvi

Economic Times, Kigshuk Nag, 28 Jun, 2013
Narendra Modi hasn’t formally studied economics or sociology, but he sure has intimate knowledge about the theory of expectations.

In essence, the theory suggests that a person will decide to act in a way that will lead to the fulfilment of what he expects to happen.

So, Modi knows that if electors can be convinced to believe that he will win in 2014, they will actually vote for him. Thus, his whole effort now is to convince theelector that he alone will be the victor.

Though given to talking big for a long time – lately earning him the epithet of feku – this is the real reason for Modi for projecting himself as a Rambo who rescued 15,000 Gujarati pilgrims from Uttarakhand in a day.

The logic works like this: if a particular elector believes that electors in general are convinced that Modi is a Rambo, he will expect them to vote for the Gujarat chief minister and make him the winner.

This, in turn, will induce this particular voter to be in tune with the general mood and plump for Modi (unless he has specific reservations).

Expand this particular voter to the universe of all voters and it is easy to figure out how a general expectation that Modi will win can lead to his actual victory.

Of course, the reverse is also true. A general belief that he cannot win will induce non-committed voters to cast their franchise for someone else. Modi is also using the expectation theory when he warns CBI officers that the government could change in the near future. Read this as, proceed gingerly in the Ishrat Jahan case and do not cross me because tomorrow I willbe your boss.

As a matter of strategy, Modi is also using the theory of expectations along with the public mood in the country that is for “change”. The mood for change first became clear from the massive support garnered by Anna Hazare in 2010-11. Hazare’s enormous popularity was because people saw him as the change agent. But this was short-lived because people soon realised that Hazare could not deliver on the change that they wanted. Actually, the people also do not know the “change” that they seek.

Modi is cognisant of this and is offering himself as the change agent.

The task of Modi’s spin doctors will be to build more attributes for the man, so that they tend to align with the change that the people want. Some changes that people want are fairly clear: they want an honest, transparent regime.

That such a revolution cannot take place in India through our defective electoral system – where loads of moolah is needed – may be known to analysts but not to the common man.

Thus, Modi’s men will project him as clear-as-a-crystal leader who delivers on his promises without fear and prejudice. At the same time, they will de-emphasise some of the attributes that have stuck to Modi.

The most obvious of them is his being anti-minority. To counter this, BJP proposes to produce a vision document for minorities.

Slowly, Modi is also being seen as a handmaiden of big business. As evidence of this, last week, a huge crowd of farmers rode into Ahmedabad in trucks, tractors and trailers protesting the Modi government move to forcibly acquire 50,887 hectares of farm land for a special investment region. Expect Modi nowto become pro-farmer.

Modi’s biggest apprehension, however, is that the 2014 elections becoming a referendum on him. This is in spite of Modi revelling in being perpetually in public gaze and nothing can be a bigger ego-booster than a national election exclusively focused on him. A poll where Modi is pitted against Rahul Gandhi or Manmohan Singh is less difficult for him to manage considering the Congress’ two-term anti-incumbency effect.

But a battle that becomes a choice, want Modi or don’t want him, can become an almost insurmountable obstacle for Modi to cross.

This is because many who prefer Modi to Rahul will pause and evaluate carefully whether they want Modi at all. Many who will give the thumbs down to Rahul will not approve of Modi in isolation because they know he is a feku, projecting a larger-than-life image of himself.

The writer is resident editor, Hyderabad, The Times of India

 

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#Irom sharmila- Starving to live, not die #hungerstrike #AFSPA

March 30, 2013 , The Hindu

Goutham Shivshankar
Suhrith Parthasarathy

TOPICS
When the Supreme Court has recognised the right to go on hunger strike, why is Irom Sharmila’s protest against impunity of the armed forces a criminal act?

Over the past 12 years, Irom Sharmila Chanu has carried on an inconceivable hunger strike, which has seen her body wither and her skin turn pale. During this period, she has emerged as the face of the civilian resistance to the immunity, and impunity, granted by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act to the army in Manipur. The Indian state has done its part to disfigure that face, by exhibiting either an inability or unwillingness to meet Sharmila’s demands. Today, it is impossible to think of Sharmila without recalling images of the feeding tube that has been forcibly thrust down her nose to keep her alive. However, the repeal of AFSPA and justice for the 10 civilians who were shot dead in November 2002 by the Assam Rifles in supposed retaliation to an attack by insurgents in Malom, Manipur — which triggered Sharmila’s protest — still remain elusive. Instead, Sharmila’s dissent expressed via her fast unto death has repeatedly been viewed as criminal.

Sharmila has put the Indian state in a peculiar position, by reconfiguring the dynamics of power through a public sacrifice of her body. Should the state, as it has done so far, view her indefinite fast through the lens of criminality and consider it “an attempt to commit suicide,” when Sharmila has unequivocally asserted her love of living? Or is it incongruous to do so, especially when the Supreme Court, in its recent and much-hailed intervention in the Ram Lila Maidan protests against corruption, has recognised that “hunger strike is a form of protest which has been accepted, both historically and legally in our constitutional jurisprudence”? In fact, Sharmila’s hunger strike is an area of stark legal vacuum. When there is a conflict between her freedom of expression and the Indian state’s interest, and perhaps duty, in keeping her alive, can a balance between these conflicting ends be struck without criminalising Sharmila’s actions?

The history

Examples of hunger strikes used as an expression of dissent are copious; the suffragettes used them in their campaign seeking the vote for women in England during the early 20th century. Hunger strikes around the world have typically, though not exclusively, been waged by prisoners. Such was the case when some imprisoned Irish Republicans famously went on a hunger strike in 1981 to protest British rule of Ireland, leading to the death of Bobby Sands and nine others. Prisoners tend to use hunger strikes as a mode of protest, either to advocate a cause disagreeable to the state or to express their dissent against what they believe to be a wrongful conviction. In the former category fall cases like that of Marion Wallace Dunlop, a pioneering suffragette who was sent to prison for printing an extract from the Bill of Rights on the wall of St. Stephen’s Hall in the House of Commons. In prison, Dunlop commenced a hunger strike to continue her protest seeking the right of women to vote. In the latter category fall prisoners like William Coleman, who has been on a hunger strike lasting almost five years in a jail in Connecticut, U.S., to protest what he believes to be his wrongful conviction. Since the global trend has been for persons already imprisoned to resort to a hunger strike, this mode of protest has usually been viewed abroad as a prisoners’ rights issue. The state’s response of force-feeding prisoners has been considered by some as being tantamount to torture and an unacceptable intrusion in the autonomy of the prisoner, akin to rape.

However, India’s own experience with hunger strikes, which has been very well documented, has shown that viewing the issue through a prisoners’ rights framework is ill-advised. Our freedom fighters, Mahatma Gandhi in particular, developed and perfected this non-violent form of protest as a facet of satyagraha, and although several hunger strikes were carried out by freedom fighters during periods of incarceration, the resort to this mode of protest has never been an exclusive domain of the imprisoned. For instance, Potti Sreeramulu, a freedom fighter and Gandhian, fasted to his death, in seeking the creation of a separate State of Andhra Pradesh in independent India. The Narmada Bachao Andolan movement witnessed hunger strikes in 2002 to protest the construction of dams over the Maan River in Dhar, Madhya Pradesh.

More recently, Anna Hazare and his associates carried on hunger strikes against corruption. All of these protests were, and continue to be, carried on for the large part, outside the walls of prison. For this reason, a prisoners’ rights framework may, by itself, be insufficient to view the legality of hunger strikes in India.

Attempted suicide?

An alternative way to analyse hunger strikes, especially fasts unto death, is through the framework of a constitutional right to die. In India, not a little morbidly, this argument seems to have reached a “dead end.” Although the Supreme Court in P. Rathinam v. Union of India (1994) initially asserted that the Indian constitutional guarantee of a fundamental right to life carries with it a fundamental right to die, subsequent decisions in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab (1996) and Aruna Shanbaug v. Union of India (2011) overruled that view, and it is now conclusively established that Indian citizens do not have a fundamental right to die. In Gian Kaur, the Supreme Court upheld the validity of Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalises the “attempt to commit suicide” (i.e. the provision under which Sharmila has been charged, and previously convicted). In Shanbaug, the Supreme Court allowed only for a highly circumscribed right to approach courts to seek withdrawal of life support systems for patients in a permanent vegetative state. Thus, it appears futile to argue that Indian citizens have a right to fast unto death when, according to the apex court, they have no right to die. However, this does not automatically mean that the undertaking of fasts unto death is criminal or that one does not have a fundamental right to hunger strike of a definite period where there is no danger of death being caused. One may not have the right to do something, but to do it nonetheless needn’t be criminal.

In independent India, the resort to hunger strikes has usually, though with some exceptions (such as the hunger strike by prisoners within a jail), not been viewed through the lens of criminality. For instance, Potti Sreeramulu was never considered criminal or suicidal by the Indian state for his fatal hunger strike. Anna Hazare likewise has undertaken several indefinite hunger strikes for various causes, but has never been perceived as a criminal on this account. The most prominent example of the Indian state criminalising a fast unto death per se is that of Sharmila’s. If we really believe rape is as vile as we have recently claimed it to be, then would it be just to treat Sharmila’s strike against AFSPA, a law that shields rapists from prosecution, differently from Hazare’s strike against corruption? More importantly, would it be just for a society’s laws to selectively criminalise hunger strikes depending upon the objectives such strikes seek to achieve?

This brings us to the question of whether Sharmila’s case, and more generally fasts unto death, are appropriately viewed as “attempts to commit suicide” under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. Any criminal offence, barring certain exceptions, requires the proof of a mens rea, or the existence of a guilty mind. Sharmila has been fasting not with an intention to die, but with an intention to achieve a desired result from the state. Her refusal to consume food or water can be criminalised only if she has acted in furtherance of a conscious endeavour to commit suicide. In the absence of such conscious endeavour, to accuse and prosecute her for an offence under Section 309 is misconceived.

Freedom to express

The questions of whether to treat Sharmila as criminal and whether the state should be allowed to force-feed her are distinct. As misguided as Sharmila’s prosecution may be, the question regarding the legality of nasally force-feeding her to keep her alive still remains open. The Supreme Court has, on the one hand, held that the threat of going on a hunger strike extended by Baba Ramdev at Ram Lila Maidan, cannot be termed illegal. Presumably, this right that the court spoke of flows from a citizen’s right to freedom of expression. That right is subject to “reasonable restrictions” in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, decency, morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. If Sharmila’s fast unto death is essentially an exercise of her fundamental right to freedom of expression, the state, in force-feeding her, may presumably be acting in furtherance of its right to impose reasonable restrictions as permitted by our Constitution. However, force-feeding, even if conducted in a humane and largely non-intrusive manner, has been widely considered to be tantamount to torture. Even though the state might merely be imposing restrictions that are reasonable within the meaning of Article 19 of the Constitution, the measure might nonetheless be a violation of Sharmila’s right to life and personal liberty under Article 21.

In our opinion, fasts unto death occupy an area of legal vacuum that offer no easy solutions. Should the state allow Sharmila to die and, in the process, abdicate its duty to protect life? Or must it resort to force-feeding her, even though such actions hit at the core of her bodily integrity? While neither offers a perfectly tailored legal solution, what is certain is that a balance ought to be struck between these starkly conflicting ends without criminalising Sharmila’s actions. For, to do so would be tantamount to stigmatising an exercise by a citizen of her right to freedom of expression in advocating a particular cause when other citizens have used the freedom in exactly the same manner without suffering prosecution, simply because they advocated causes of a different, and less complex, nature.

(The authors are advocates practising in the Madras High Court)

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Mahatma Gandhi’s;Granddaughter opposes #Deathpenalty #Vaw #Rape

: Monday, February 25, 2013, Zee News
Melbourne: Amid a debate in India over capital punishment for rapists, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi on Monday said the death sentence is not the solution to end violence against women and the society needs to promote gender consciousness.”Capital punishment itself will not change the attitude towards gender, nor (the) Anna Hazare-led stir on bringing a law against corruption alone will change the system,” Ela Gandhi, a former South African MP said during her visit to Australia. “Well it’s 2013 but lots of mothers still buy pink for their girls and blue for the boys, that’s just one little thing in which they differentiate. I think if you just go from there, you see little issues in the way we bring up our children, that you know makes these roles separate, that children grow up thinking that we are different,” she said. “There is a difference between girls and boys but that difference is not, you know, in terms of roles and so on. That difference has been exaggerated and that is what we need to curb, ABC news quoted her as saying. And the social activist, who is working to end domestic violence thinks the society needs to “become more gender conscious”. “You know, there has to be real community outreach programs with parents, with young people in schools. Everywhere, gender consciousness needs to be a part of the syllabus of every child, that from infancy to tertiary education and in the community,” she said. She also expressed shock over alleged murder of model Reeva Steenkamp by gold medalist paralympian Oscar Pistorius. “Steenkamp’s death by the hands of her boyfriend has reinforced the unfortunate fact that South Africa is battling with the deep-rooted culture of violence? possession of arms such as a gun lead to these kinds of irreversible consequences,” she said. She also participated in various events framed around the theme “Global Problems, Local Solutions”.

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What Ashis Nandy said #JLF

No room for nuance in this fragile republic

HARSH SETHI, The Hindu

MISREADING THE CONVERSATION: The days when such an event would have been dismissed as irrelevant, if not comic, are now over. Instead, we want instant retributory action without pausing to ascertain the facts. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras
The HinduMISREADING THE CONVERSATION: The days when such an event would have been dismissed as irrelevant, if not comic, are now over. Instead, we want instant retributory action without pausing to ascertain the facts. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

In the rush to condemn Ashis Nandy and demand that he be jailed, no one bothered to understand what exactly he had said about corruption and caste

It is symptomatic of the times we live in, of the climate of political discourse that we have contributed to, that even relatively innocuous statements can get so easily misrepresented and twisted to convey a meaning that is diametrically opposite to what was said and meant. The Jaipur Literature Festival 2013, which until the morning of Republic Day had managed to successfully steer clear of any controversy, was suddenly rocked by angry protests based upon (and this must be stressed) a total misreading of remarks made by Ashis Nandy.

The panel discussion on “The Republic of Ideas,” featuring IBN7 Managing Editor Ashutosh, author and Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal, historian Patrick French, philosopher Richard Sorabji, and social psychologist Ashis Nandy, was moderated by the author and publisher, Urvashi Butalia. Following a fascinating exchange on the “promise” of the Indian Republic and Constitution, the discussion turned to the theme of corruption and the significance of the anti-corruption protests led by Anna Hazare.

Making a passionate plea to deconstruct the sociology of corruption, Tarun Tejpal argued that we need to understand the “corruption” of the poor and the marginalised as a necessary strategy to break through the stifling nature of our rules, regulations and laws. Characterising Indian society as deeply stratified, hierarchical and oppressive, our laws and rules, he claimed, are mostly designed to “keep out” the erstwhile excluded strata from having their say. The corruption of “people like us” — an elite which has both the resources and power to subvert the system — often goes unnoticed, and if discovered, rarely results in prosecution. The misdemeanours of the “others,” in contrast, not only get caught, but also generate outrage, in part because they do not have the necessary skills to successfully cover up their corruption.

Grounded in earlier remarks

Subsequent remarks made by Ashis Nandy need to be read and understood in the context of what Tarun Tejpal said speaking before Nandy did. Agreeing with Tejpal, Nandy went on to argue that such “corruption” of the excluded — the Dalits, tribals, Other Backward Classes (OBC) and minorities — is inevitable if they are to break out from the bonds of an oppressive web of rules and regulations. He went on to say, referring to both himself and Richard Sorabji, that if they “arranged” to get fellowships for their children at Harvard or Oxford, as part of a trade in mutual and selective favours, none will comment about that, as if it is axiomatic that the fellowship was awarded on the basis of merit. Politicians or leaders of the oppressed strata, being new to the game and relatively untutored in the skills of manipulation, are unlikely to seek academic fellowships as a form of graft, and are more likely to covet and corner licences to operate petrol pumps. These pumps are publicly noticeable and can provoke outrage. Their licensees are linked to their “corrupt” benefactors, who are then condemned by the chattering classes in metropolitan cities.

So far so good. Nandy then went on to more provocatively stretch the argument, asserting that it is precisely this kind of “corruption” that has “saved” the Republic and democracy by enabling a degree of social and economic mobility and pluralising the composition of India’s elite. Furthermore, he argued, that it is most likely the list of “corrupt” could be inordinately dominated by Dalits, tribals, minorities and OBCs. Despite his prefacing his last remarks, saying that what he was about to say may shock many people, and that he nevertheless wished to stress the point about how we understand corruption, many in the audience (and one on the panel) completely missed Nandy’s point, and immediately accused him of casteist bias, calling upon him to withdraw his remarks and tender an apology. Some in the audience demanded that he should be charged under the Protection of Civil Rights Act for hurting the sentiments of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Competitive outrage follows

Nandy’s protestations that what he said and meant was completely the opposite of what he was being charged with were not persuasive once the atmosphere was charged with heightened emotions. Competitive outrage, taking on the familiar form favoured by some overly strident and aggressive TV anchors, evidently gives no quarter to nuanced arguments, any irony, or even black humour. When Nandy characterised the former Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Madhu Koda (now in jail), as India’s first dollar billionaire, he was hardly extolling the virtues of corruption or turning a blind eye to the “perfidies” of upper caste politicians. At best, in an underhand and sly way, he was expressing admiration for the abilities of a tribal leader in matching up to what has hitherto been an exclusive preserve of India’s upper caste elite.

Accusations of Nandy of being anti-Dalit/tribal/minority groups, the calls for registering a FIR against him, and demanding that he should be arrested would, in our better days, have been dismissed as an irrelevant, if not comic, aside. Such innocent days have faded, unfortunately, into a distant past. So quick are we now to take offence and demand immediate retributory action against alleged offenders that we almost never take a moment to pause, to ascertain the facts, understand what was said and meant, in what context, and to what ends. All we want is action, and now!

Signals shrinking discourse

Subsequent demands by the Bahujan Samaj Party leader, Mayawati, by the chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes P.L. Punia, and others, to arrest Ashis Nandy, even though none of them was present during the discussion, illustrates the danger of a growing kind of prickliness and intolerance. Worse still, such occasions are used by politicians to signal their commitment to their constituencies and shore up their images. In the process we are left with a diminished public discourse. Even liberals, usually quick to defend “freedom of speech,” advocate caution and temperance in the expression of reactions to intemperate allegations of the kind made against Nandy. Is this stance, one wonders, a compensatory guilt, marking what is politically correct, an obverse privileging of the erstwhile dispossessed?

Ashis Nandy’s choice of words, phrases, and examples can be questioned. He is not an organised and scintillating public speaker. One can also differ with his argument and analysis, for instance, his failure to distinguish between “corruption of the poor” and the “corruption of their leaders,” whose subversion of rules often results in them robbing the very poor who are also their constituents. Nevertheless, Nandy’s argument that the “rules of the game” have been set by an elite class to which he belongs, which remains a privileged lot, and therefore, that the deliberate subversion of those rules is an inevitable strategy for those striving for survival and upward mobility, certainly has merit. Clamping down on nuanced utterances and elliptical statements of the kind Nandy made will only make us a poorer democracy and Republic.

(Harsh Sethi is Consulting Editor, Seminar magazine.)

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#Delhigangrape Month after : Jantar Mantar is a beacon of hope for justice seekers #Vaw #Justice

Published: Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013,
Place: New Delhi | Agency: IANS
Protestors protest against the Delhi gang-rape
Reuters

Jagjeet Kaur, a 30-year-old rape victim from Punjab, was frustrated after running from pillar to post for two years seeking justice. Finally, she landed in Delhi, beginning her hunger strike at Jantar Mantar, the tourist landmark in the centre of Delhi that has been the month-long epicenter of the protests against the Delhi gang-rape that she says inspired her to fight on.

“I saw on TV how hundreds of people were gathering here demanding justice for the rape victim. Some of them were on hunger strike too. The determination of the protesters inspired me to come here,” Jagjeet Kaur, who began her hunger strike Monday, told IANS.

“This is the appropriate place for me to raise my voice against rape,” added Jagjeet Kaur who sat on a mattress covered in blankets in the middle of the road next to a makeshift memorial consisting of flowers, candles and placards erected for the 23-year-old woman who was brutally raped by six males on a moving bus on December 16.

According to Jagjeet Kaur, who works for an NGO in Ludhiana, she was raped by a senior police officer in 2010.

Like her, there were many victims as well as their relatives who came from far and wide to seek justice and they all thronged to Jantar Mantar, an 18th century observatory that abuts Connaught Place, the business and shopping hub of New Delhi.

Since the December 16 incident, hundreds and, on occasions, thousands of people, young and old, came to Jantar Mantar.

All of them are united in their fight to get justice for women. Most of them want death for the six males who raped and then threw the paramedical trainee out of a moving bus on a cold December night along with her friend, bleeding and without clothes. The woman died of her injuries 18 days later in a Singapore hospital.

A month after the incident that shook the collective conscience of a nation, the protest site continues to see gatherings of people who have come together with their demand for safety of women. Surprisingly, it is for the first time that an agitation without any leadership has sustained itself for so long at the venue – or, for that matter, at any venue in the country.

Prior to this, activist Anna Hazare‘s anti-corruption agitation had managed to attract crowds for several days.

“No political party has paid us to come here; neither are we here because a civil activist made an emotional appeal. It is our anger and frustration with the system and the hope to see a safer tomorrow for our sisters and daughters that we are here,” Saleem Parvez, 55, who has often been coming to Jantar Mantar, told IANS.

Crowds consisting mainly of students and social workers usually gather at the site every morning with placards and banners and sit till dusk, braving the winter chill. The numbers swell on weekends.

Vowing to “fight till the end,” many protesters claimed that they would agitate at the site till their demands are met.

“I won’t lie, the crowds are thinning every week but we are still determined and the time till even one of us is protesting here, the movement will be alive,” said Abhishek Singh, 24, who claimed that he had been coming to Jantar Mantar daily since Dec 18, 2012.

“We will not let her death be in vain. We hope we will see changes in the laws that will make the country a better place for our daughters to live,” said Kishan Datt, 70, a retired government official, who has been regularly coming to the venue for some time now.

 

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Immediate Release- POSCO and its sponsored goons threatening villagers

Dear Friends,

 

We had to confront with yet another pre-planned strategy of POSCO and its sponsored goons who were determined to threaten and humiliate our innocent villagers and almost forced us to give up our struggle against the forceful land acquisition by POSCO. On 5th December 2012, few POSCO sponsored goons and villagers started to ring the bell to convene a village meeting in order to force us to extend our cooperation to start the land acquisition process. When our villagers opposed this undemocratic and uncalled for move, the sponsored goons started beating our people. Not surprisingly, the police have filed 12 more fabricated false cases against our people.

 

Out of desperation POSCO is following a divide and rule strategy in  Gobindpur village. The Posco officials are trying to allure and divide our people by bribing the goons for acquiring the forest land adjacent to Gobindpur. However, our people are strongly determined to fight back and would not make it success at all.

 

As you know, in the course of our peaceful and democratic non-violent struggle to prevent our lands from being forcibly acquired by POSCO, our people have been brutally attacked by paid goons of the company and subjected to grueling economic blockades by the local administration. Several of our leaders have been put behind bars. False charges have been foisted on over 200 activists, both men and women.

 

On November 29, 2012, more than 3000 people had observed anti-violence day at Dhinkia village. You may remember that on November 29th of 2007, the state government has unleashed series of brutal repression against our people. Again the police has made repression on our people on May 15th 2010. We are attaching herewith the link of a videohttp://www.videorepublic.tv/2011/12/25/the-big-fat-brutal-lie/ where the state police is burning the huts, beating and firing at the villagers.

 

On 30th November 2012, the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare attended a farmer’s rally at Jagatsinghpur and condemned the state government’s attempts to hand over 4,000 acre of land to the South Korean steel major POSCO. He said that “Instead of a policy to ensure the rights of farmers and make use of our natural resources, the government is busy appeasing and promoting foreign companies,”. He also said that “problems faced by farmers cannot be solved by bringing foreign currency into India. Laws need to be changed for their betterment”.

 

In a desperate damage controlling mode, POSCO started to distribute the POSCO TJ Park Foundation Scholarship to 10 students of BPUT (Biju Patnaik University of Technology) and KIIT (Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology) University on 27th November 2012. Besides, POSCO distribute fellowships at Delhi University, OUAT, Bhubaneswar and the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi every year. Needless to say that this is an initiative to develop it’s goodwill among the intelligentsia and get sympathy from these institutions.

 

At this juncture, we strongly urge the students and faculties of the above esteemed institutions to discard this award. We also earnestly request these institutions to compel POSCO to respect the unanimous resolution on Dhinkia gram sabha ( Panchayat level assembly of adult members) i.e. on 18th of October 2012 , where more than 2000 people participated in the meeting and  refused to grant consent to the proposed diversion of land for POSCO under the rights provided to the Gram Sabha under the Forest Rights Act, 2006.

 

Kindly circulate this mail widely.

 

In Solidarity,

 

Prashant Paikary

 

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti

 

Mobile no-09437571547

 

E-Mail – [email protected]

 

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Five reasons why India can’t censor the internet-removed by TOI, HT,ET

Prasanto K  Roy, 12,  Nov 2012
Among all my columns and articles on various technology subjects (which are all still around), I just discovered that my pieces on censorship are being removed by the media sites.For instance, this reproduced below from Google’s cache of the original TOI piece. This was carried on TOI, ET, HT and other places.
Now if you Google for “Five reasons why India can’t censor the internet”, you’ll see the top links are still to the TOI and ET stories, but click the links, and the stories are gone!
Interesting, isn’t it, given the subject?
There’s a second piece I wrote, critical of Kapil Sibal, which has been removed months after publication by TOI, ET and HT.
PKR

Five reasons why India can’t censor the Internet

In just 24 hours, in the Facebook alumni group of St Stephen’s College, Communications Minister Kapil Sibal’s ratings crashed faster than that of US President Barack Obama or what former telecom minister A. Raja, now in judicial custody over second generation (2G) spectrum case, ever had.

Five reasons why India can't censor the Internet

In a survey to pick star alumni for a big debating clash with counterparts from the rival college across the road, Sibal was on the top five a week ago — among other stellar Stephanians like Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former federal minister Mani Shankar Aiyar or former UN diplomat Shashi Tharoor. No longer!

As the #Idiot hash-tag topped Twitter trends, some withdrew their votes for Sibal, and there were posts like “Chuck him across the road” — a scathing insult, equivalent to the Parsis’ excommunication.

Just a preview of the global firestorm over the next two days!

The fire wasn’t from anonymous teens. Seasoned analysts blasted Sibal. Investor Mahesh Murthy posted: “Censor this! 🙂 ! Five of the top 10 Twitter trends in India right now are: #IdiotKapilsibal, #KapilSibal, #Censorship, #FreeSpeech and #FreedomOfSpeech.”

All this, for just one statement from a politician not unknown for his foot-in-mouth disease? Not quite. For, he has the power to misuse and try to make it happen.

During the Anna Hazare movement, Sibal summoned representatives of the social networks. In a king-and-subjects interaction, he kept them waiting, then kept them standing in his room; gave them a pre-emptive dressing down; and snapped: ‘I don’t want any anti-government stuff on your networks. Fix it.’ There was no room for discussion.

So here’s a five-point Internet 101 for the illustrious Mr. Sibal.

1. The Internet cannot be edited: Duh! In an early Dilbert strip, the pointy-haired boss demanded that Dilbert ‘download’ the Internet and fax it to him. A decade down, it’s not so funny any more.

The Internet is not traditional media. India’s 1975 emergency and the media clampdown was possible because of the linear, broadcast nature of the old media. New media is distributed. No copy desk or censor board can ‘fix’ it. There is no editor to arrest. And, most content is hosted outside India’s jurisdiction.

2. User-generated content cannot be filtered: That would slow down the global Internet to a crawl, with posts appearing after days — even assuming so many ‘editors’ could be hired by, say, a Facebook or a Twitter.

Are phone operators responsible for ‘content’ carried on their networks — or their CEOs arrested if someone made a terror threat over a phone call? No, the telco is simply asked to help with the investigation — into who made the call.

Yes, Internet content has the permanence and public-impact potential that a phone call does not, but equally, it lends itself brilliantly to self-regulation.

3. Peer review works: Wikipedia is the best example. Who could have imagined that a user-created encyclopedia could be so objective, and comprehensive? Yes, anyone can go in and edit anything (barring entries like ‘Kapil Sibal’, which have been locked due to vandalism!).

If you make an inappropriate change, someone will come in and correct it. And so it is on Facebook or Twitter. Abusive posts will be reported, blocked, and the individuals knocked out of the site.

4. Draconian controls are not necessary: In this age of global cooperation on terror, companies cooperate. A rational request from India to Google or Facebook to bring down offensive content will be heard — regardless of jurisdiction.

5. Yes, there are precedents for Internet control, but…: Such censorship is in countries India doesn’t want to be — China, Pakistan, Myanmar or Saudi Arabia. Pakistan became a laughing stock when it issued a list of banned words for SMS messages. (That list is now standard reading for anyone wanting a quick lesson in present and future abuses that aren’t in any dictionary.)

The big daddy of ‘regulation’ is China, where everything is filtered, and if you break those filters, you are charged with treason. What a role model.

But wait.

Kapil Sibal knows all this, right? So why is this bright star from Harvard Law School and St. Stephen’s college now sounding so anachronistic in the Internet age? Is it the old ‘thou shalt display higher loyalty to the royal family than the prince himself’ mantra?

If Kapil Sibal is to defend himself against the charge of sycophancy, he is on a weak footing. There were many prior potential triggers for tackling social media, including fanatic religious posts, derogatory comments by Pakistan sympathisers, Anna Hazare, and more. That he finally picked a post that targeted Sonia Gandhi suggests that this was not out of serious, objective concern about India’s stability, security or secular fabric.

(The author is chief editor at technology publishers CyberMedia)

Source:  http://news.in.msn.com/

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Habeaus Corpus Application Filed in Jabalpur High Court Against Illegal Arrest of Medha Patkar and Others

 

 Medha Continues her Indefinite Fast in Jail

Suniti S R and Prasad Bagwe Start Indefinite Fast in Yeravada Jail, Pune Against Illegal Detention. Refuse to Apply for Bail.

Around 250 Solidarity workers protested outside Madhya Pradesh Bhavan, Delhi. Support pours in from across country. Protests planned in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Elsewhere

Anna Hazare (IAC), Rajindar Sachar (PUCL), Swami Agnivesh, Manju Mohan (Socialist Janata Party), Bhupendra Rawat(DSG), Vinod Singh(Kisan Manch), Piyush (AISA) stand in solidarity with Dr. Sunilam, Medha Patkar, Advocate Aradhana Bhargava & others

New Delhi, November 6 : Medha Patkar’s and others bail application could not be filed since District Collector kept misleading the advocates and others. Initially they booked them under Section 151 (s noted in jail diary), the bail plea for which was not even admitted in the court by City Judicial Magistrate yesterday citing pressure from administration. Today, realising the mistake and trying to cover for his junior’s action they added charges under Section 188, which requires bail from judiciary. Challenging this, Anurag Modi of Jan Sangharsh Morcha has moved a habeaus corpus in Jabalpur Bench of the High Court, which will be heard tomorrow. Meanwhile, in Chaurai Tehsil Court, bail plea for Advocate Aradhana Bhargava was rejected, even though the charges of her arrest are not serious, Section 151. NAPM condemns this draconian act of the Chindwada administration and will challenge it in the Court and ensure that action is taken against the SP and DC responsible for continued arrest.

Medha Patkar continued her fast in jail on third day of her detention. In the afternoon, her blood pressure was reported high, though there is no immediate danger to her health but given her recent back injuries it will have adverse impact on her overall health. She also received a notice from the Jail Superintendent that she will be force bed and action against her will taken if she continues her indefinite fast, which is a crime under prisons act. She has refused and vehemently protested any action and challenged to take them to Court for all illegality.

Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chauhan meanwhile postponed his visit to the district citing official reasons but we believe it is due to increasing pressure and the shame it has brought to MP government from all over the country.

Delhi Solidarity Group along with other organizations organised a protest demonstration at Madhya Pradesh Bhawan today demanding the Madhya Pradesh Government to release Dr. Sunilam, Suryavanshi Parmandal and Prahlad Agarwal who have been sentenced for life on charges of murder, arson and others.

The protest was attended by 250 activists, students, organizations & solidarity workers belonging to the “Delhi Solidarity Group”. The demonstration was also attended by Anna Hazare, Arvind Gaur & few others from the Anna Team who expressed their solidarity & support to Dr. Sunilam & the farmers of Madhya Pradesh. Anna Hazare said “The Government should withdraw the false cases on Dr. Sunilam & others and listen to the voices of the farmers. If these demands are not fulfilled I will sit with the people of Chindwara in their struggle.” Anna along with Bhupendra Singh Rawat from Delhi Solidarity Group & Arvind Gaur met with the Resident Commissioner of Madhya Pradesh Bhawan & submitted the memorandum.

Delhi Solidarity Group condemned vindictive move by the Madhya Pradesh Government and its siding with corrupt political forces and using its administrative machinery to facilitate pecuniary benefits to private corporations. Activists demanded that Madhya Pradesh Government :

  • immediately release Dr. Sunilam, Medha Patkar & others and withdraw cases, against them and others of Kisan Sangharshn Samiti.
  • action against police officers who are behind the Farmers’ massacre in Multai on January 12th 1998
  • stop ongoing forced land acquisitions in Chhindwara district for the Pench Water Diversion Project.

NAPM also stands behind its colleagues, 90 people, who are in Yeravada Jail, Pune for no fault. They had a demonstration and a very good meeting with the District Commissioner, Pune yesterday but even then they were arrested and sent to jail on Section 151 for two days. Activists refuse to seek bail or sign bonds for their release. We will challenge their illegal detention in Court and continue to fight for the rights of the Waang Marathwadi Dam, Tata Dam and Lavasa Hill city affected people.

Sandeep Pandey, Ulka Mahajan, Prafulla Samantara, Akhil Gogoi, Arundhati Dhuru, Maj. Gen. Sudhir Vombatkere, Sister Celia, Gabriele Dietrich, Roma, Geetha Ramakrishnan, Bhupinder Singh Rawat, Vimal Bhai, Rajendra Ravi, Ramakrishna Raju, Saraswati Kavula, Gautam Bandopahdyay, Shrikanth, Madhuresh Kumar

 

for details call : 9818905316

 

A habeaus corpus writ petition has been filed at jablpur High Court by Anurag Modi, Jan Sangharsh Morcha through advocate Raghvendra Kumar, the petition is listed to be heard tomorrow. The brief not of the petition is below, the copy of the petition and notice issued under section 144 of CrPC issued by Chhindwara colletor is attched.

 

That in order to deny a constitutional right of peaceful protest against illegal activity of the contractor of   Pench Diversion Project by   Adani Group of Companies, on 04-11-2012, the authorities of District Chhindwara first of all kept Ms. Medha Patkar, leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), illegally detained in the house of Advocate Anuradha Bhargav at Chhindwara and in the late night   on the same day along with 19 other villagers illegally lodged her at Chhindwara jail.

 

That Ms. Medha Patkar arrived in Chhindwara town on 4th November 2012 early morning by Indore Chhindwara Penchveli Express.   At Chhindwara Railway Station she was informed by certain authorities that section 144 of Cr.P.C. has been enforced in Chhindwara district and entry of any person other than local resident has been prohibited in Chhindwara, Chourai and Amarwada Tahsil of the district, though no such written notice of expressing the reasons and intention was served on her. She was not allowed to proceed for her scheduled participation in ongoing agitation near Machagora village.

 

That on 04-11-2012 itself in the morning, she went to the house of Advocate Aradhana Bhargav to pay condolence as her mother had recently expired. She was house arrested for the entire day at Advocate Aradhana Bhargav’s Residence at Chhindwara and despite her written submission and humble request to the District Magistrate, Chhindwara for permission to proceed for her scheduled program of participating in peaceful demonstration at Machagora village with minimum number of people as permitted, she was not allowed to leave the house. Around 10.30 P. M. in the night when she was having meeting with a few dam affected people inside the house where she was house arrested, she was   forcefully picked up from inside the house by the police and along with her colleague Mukesh, she was lodged at Chhindwara jail.

That she was not informed of reasons and charges when she was being arrested nor was she produced before any magistrate, judicial or executive, at the time of arrest or after the arrest. She along with other persons was not sent under any judicial order. That other 19 farmers were also arrested and first taken at different locations and later on were lodged at Chhindwara jail. None of her family members or colleagues of the organization were informed of her detention, subsequent arrest and her being sent to Chhindwara jail.

That she was not provided with nor was allowed to consult any lawyer. That on the basis of hearsay and the newspaper reports one Local Advocate Mr. D. K. Prajapati got to know that Ms. Medha Patkar and 19 other persons were arrested under Sections 151, 107 and 116 of Cr. P. C. He approached the court of Sub Divisional Magistrate (City Magistrate) for seeking bail for Ms. Medha Patkar and 19 others but the magistrate refused to take any cognizance of the application for bail and take it on record and left his office and seat in a jiffy

 

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