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Shocking – In 4.5 hrs 60 women sterilised under Mobile and Torch light in Azamgarh #Vaw #WTFnews

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Another Shocking incident of using a  torch light , even a mobile flash do the Sterilisation!!!

60 women sterilised in  4 hours

 

On an average 4.5 minute per sterilisation

 

The sterilisation operation as done with torchlight and mobile light.

 

No lessons learnt fro chhattisgarh and jharkhand sterilisation deaths 

 Just a few months ago, In  Chhattisgarh ddozens of women after sterilization lost their lives . Claiming to provide adequate health department on Friday Martinganj Azamgarh district in the four-hour operation, 60 women did.

 

The hospital was not lit in the evening  and thet doctors surgery started on mobile light . Martinganj district sterilization camp was held on Friday in the block. 60 women had registered for the sterilization cap .  A team of doctors led by  Dr S P Tiwari arrived at 3.30 p.m. Martinganj block operation began after 8 pm the night .

There was no provision in the light of the hospital. The evening came for sterilization of women highlighted the torch and mobile operation, then the doctor. The Department of Health is beating Didora of adequate sterilization camp. When he spoke to Martinganj medical charge DHANNANJAY Singh said  the electric power  was being uSed to cool the mobile  vaccines. and  the present time there is no light. Later,  IT will be restored.

 

Under the Central  National Rural Health Plan  all the  health centers have been equipped with all facilities including electricity . Yet women’s lives are at stake physician and administrator.  The four and half hour operation is  life threatening for the women. The most important thing is that the hospital is not adequate beds. The medical team was so fast that he made a sterilization just 45 minutes.

A medical team of the Central Government in accordance with the  rules standards  can conduct not moe than 30 surgeries in a day

In januray  2015 , A number of women operated for sterilization were left unattended on the hospital floor in cold weather at Rahul Sankritayan District Women Hospital in Azamgarh
A vasectomy camp was organised at the hospital, where 45 women were operated.

It exposed the reality of medical facilities in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s constituency.

Medical superintendent, Dr Amita Agrawal said that there were only eight beds in the hospital and expressed inability to provide bed to these women.

 

आजमगढ़ में मोबाइल की रोशनी में हुआ नसबंदी का आपरेशन चार घंटे में 60 महिलाओं का किया आपरेशन महिलाओं की जिन्दगी से खेल रहा स्वास्थ्य विभाग ४.५ मिनट में हुआ एक की नसबंदी नसबंदी में लापरवाही से हो चुकी हैं कई मौतें आजमगढ़। महिलाओं की नसबंदी में हो चुकी मौतों से स्वास्थ्य विभाग कोई सबक नहीं ले रहा है।

अभी कुछ माह पूर्व ही छत्तीसगढ़ विलासपुर जनपद के तखतपुर ब्लाक में दर्जनों महिलाएं नसबंदी कराने के बाद काल के गाल में समा गयीं। समुचित व्यवस्था देने का दावा करने वाला स्वास्थ्य विभाग शुक्रवार को आजमगढ़ जनपद के मार्टिनगंज में साढ़े चार घंटे में 60 महिलाओं का आपरेशन कर दिया। अस्पताल में रोशनी की व्यवस्था नही थी तो शाम होते ही चिकित्सकों ने मोबाइल की रोशनी में सर्जरी शुरु कर दी। जनपद के मार्टिनगंज ब्लाक में शुक्रवार को नसबंदी शिविर का आयोजन किया गया था।

इसमें नसबंदी के लिए 60 महिलाओं का पंजीयन हुआ था। डा.एसपी तिवारी के नेतृत्व में चिकित्सकों की टीम अपराह्न 3.30 बजे मार्टिनगंज ब्लाक पर पहुंची उसके बाद आपरेशन शुरु हुआ जो रात करीब 8 बजे तक चला। अस्पताल में रोशनी की कोई व्यवस्था नहीं थी। शाम होते ही नसबंदी के लिए आयी महिलाओं पर जब टार्च व मोबाइल से रोशनी डाली गई तो चिकित्सक ने आपरेशन किया। स्वास्थ्य विभाग नसबंदी शिविर में समुचित व्यवस्था का ढिढोरा पीटता रहा है। जब मार्टिनगंज चिकित्सा प्रभारी डा.धनन्जय सिंह से बात हुई तो उन्होंने कहा कि मोबाइल वैक्सीन को ठंडा करने के लिए बिजली की व्यवस्था है। वर्तमान समय में यहां रोशनी नहीं है। बाद में ठीक करा दिया जायेगा। केंद्र सरकार की योजना राष्ट्रीय ग्रामीण स्वास्थ्य योजना के तहत जनपद के वि•िान्न स्वास्थ्य केंद्रों को सभी सुविधाओं से युक्त किया गया है। इसके बावजूद महिलाओं की जिन्दगी चिकित्सक और व्यवस्थापक दाव पर लगा रहे हैं। साढेÞ चार घंटे में 60 आपरेशन मूलभूत सुविधाओं के अभाव में करना जोखिम भरा कदम है।

सबसे अहम बात यह है कि अस्पताल में पर्याप्त मात्रा में बेड भी नहीं है। इस मेडिकल टीम को इस कदर जल्दी थी कि उसने एक नसबंदी में महज 4.5 मिनट ही लगाये। केंद्र सरकार के मानकों के अनुसार एक मेडिकल टीम एक दिन में महज 30 सर्जरी कर सकती है लेकिन यहां तो एक अकेले डाक्टर ने ही 60 महिलाओं की नसबंदी कर डाली । भ ले ही महिलाओं की जान जोखिम में पड़ी रही।

Reported in Amar Ujwala newspaper click below

Amar Uajala-Varanasi-Azamgarh, 28-2-15, pg. 2

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Walking dead too long – #deathpenalty

Walking dead too long
By:Somasekhar Sundaresan

Lengthy process of implementing death sentence doesn’t function as retribution or deterrence

The Supreme Court has ruled that it would start a new tradition of hearing in open court, petitions seeking review of judgments confirming the death penalty. Otherwise, all review petitions are considered by the judges in chamber without another hearing. This decision, yet again underlines the sensitivity in our highest judiciary to the infliction of death by man on man.

The futility of capital punishment has often found mention in this column. More recently, rulings of the Supreme Court on the unacceptable length of time between the imposition of a death sentence and execution were lauded – the court has consistently ruled that even a convict sentenced to death enjoys the constitutional protection of the right to life until the last breath. The Supreme Court has documented, with examples, how convicts on death row have gone insane or physically infirm, just waiting to know if they would be put to death or pardoned. Of late, undertrials accused of gruesome crimes that are widely reported in the media have been found dead in prison under mysterious circumstances – typically explained away as suicide, they are recipients of lawless justice meted out the honour code among prison inmates.
Expectedly, hardliners rail against such considerations. If a criminal can kill with impunity, they would argue, there should be no reason to spare her from any form of indignity. They would accuse defense lawyers of frustrating execution. A typical line one hears is that it is only in India one experiences delays in execution and the system is broken. The United States of America is often extolled for perceived speed in punishment and the allegedly consequential fear of law in the American society.
Nothing could be farther from the truth as is underlined in a judgment handed down just six weeks ago by a Californian court. Striking down a death sentence handed down in 1995 to a rape and murder convict, the court has held the death penalty system in California to be violative of the constitutional protection against imposition of cruel and arbitrary punishment. The court found that since 1978 (when California introduced a new law on capital punishment), over 900 individuals were sentenced to death there. Only 13 have been executed, 63 died of natural causes, 22 committed suicide, and the rest still languish in prison. Indeed, some prison inmates have died of “drug overdose” or “violence in the exercise yard”.
The review and appeal of a death sentence takes more than 25 years in California. The national average in the US, at over 15 years, is not spectacularly better. Only 17 out of the 748 Californian convicts with a death sentence have had their appellate and review processes run its full course. Since 2006, no execution has taken place. Over 20 per cent of the death row convicts have crossed the age of 60 in prison. The random few who do get executed would have languished for so long that their execution would serve neither the purpose of retribution nor deterrence, the court has observed.
“Indeed, the law, and common sense itself, have long recognized, the judgment reasons, “that the deterrent effect of any punishment is contingent upon the certainty and timeliness of its imposition.” These observations could well have been about India. Despite the paraphernalia of safeguards, the administration of the death sentence is as damaged in the US as it is in India. The blind faith Indian hardliners have in the US justice system is therefore neither backed by facts nor shared by her constitutional courts. In fact, access to justice is so expensive in the US that even the innocent are incentivized to strike “plea bargains” rather than fight to clear their reputation, relieving prosecutors from having to stand the test of scrutiny. The super-rich settle to save super-expensive litigation costs. The impoverished end up in jail. The quality of legal representation they then get is proportionate to their financial strength, rather than strength of their merits.
Our Supreme Court’s latest decision on a public review of death sentences is therefore understandable – one has to be truly cautious about consigning any human into the living hell that the death sentence represents.

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#Sundayreading – Indian Women Claiming Freedom from Violence and Fear #Vaw

Claiming Freedom From Violence And Fear:

Kamayani Bali-Mahabal– Women Feature Service

rapepublic1

After the brutal gang rape of a young woman in December 2012 in New Delhi, following which she succumbed to her grievous injuries, there was a great upsurge of people protesting on the streets. It was the graphic, vicious nature of the crime, as opposed to the ‘normalcy’ of everyday violence, which brought everyone out in large numbers. But even as voices confronted the patriarchal state, many public figures, from a self-styled spiritual guru to a high court judge, made ‘rape culture’ emarks and, in fact, criticised the victim for being out late in the evening with her ‘boyfriend’.

Despite these remarks, the wave of anger was not to be contained. From day one, placards and slogans demanding an end to gender bias – ‘why are women blamed for sexual violence unleashed on them?’ or ‘why should girls restrain themselves from living their life to the fullest?’ – were being raised. And the effects of this rage were felt and witnessed across India.

National outrage

Previously, there have been major mobilisations against rape, like in Manipur in 2004, against the custodial rape and murder of a woman by the Army, or at Khairlanji in Maharashtra, against the public rape and massacre of a Dalit family in 2006. But in those instances, the media, unlike in the Delhi case, did not cover the protests as reflecting ‘national outrage’.

So in a sense, the Delhi incident, often referred to as the Nirbhaya case, has brought about a change in the way the Indian society is tackling violence against women. According to noted feminist and scholar Uma Chakravarti, who delivered the Sixth Anuradha Ghandy Memorial Lecture titled ‘Sexual Violence in Contemporary Indian Society’ earlier this year in Mumbai, this case has firmly brought home the issue of a woman’s autonomy, something that the women’s movement has been working tirelessly over decades to establish.

The reason the New Delhi rape triggered such massive outcry from the public, generating extensive media coverage and thereby increasing awareness about gendered violence, can be traced back not only to the sheer brutality of the crime but also to the socio-economic class of the victim and perpetrators.

The defendants were men from poor backgrounds, while the victim was a middle-class, educated woman. “The attention brought to this case may be attributed to the higher social class of the woman in comparison to the men, illustrating the tension between social classes and the violent backlash resulting from the success of modern female urbanites,” she observed.

However, the fact remains that most rapes do not involve poor men and middle-class women, but instead are those of poor women, often by men in uniform, by men of a higher caste or higher class (for instance, domestic workers employed in middle-class homes). So, to bring about an all pervasive transformation, Chakravarti asserted it is “not enough to oppose rape but to oppose it in ways that change patriarchy” – something that was visible in the post-Nirbhaya movement.

Although the nature of public discourse around violence against women in India, especially rape, has been evolving over the years, there have been two distinct markers of change. The first one was the Mathura Rape Case of 1980 through which the women’s movement was able to highlight the issue of custodial rape. It was a major victory when this crime was understood not in terms of it being a “worse rape” but rather it was acknowledged that in custody, the question of consent cannot be interpreted in the conventional sense – under detention, to claim that the victim had consented to sex because there were no signs of struggle was absolutely bizarre.

From that success to 2012, it’s been a long drawn struggle towards confronting the notion of protection of women, which is how gender crimes are couched. Right from the start of the Nirbhaya movement, besides calls for the death penalty, slogans opposing the whole agenda of ‘protecting women’ came out quite spontaneously.

In fact, there was a collective cry for ‘azadi’ or ‘freedom without fear’. Women demanded different kinds of freedom – to be out in public spaces, to wear what they want, to voice what they feel, to marry of their own choice…

What infused a sense of vigour and a hope for change was the participation of many first-timers, particularly, school- and college-going girls. They waved handmade posters declaring: ‘Don’t teach us how to dress, teach men not to rape’ and ‘Your gaze is the problem so why should I cover myself up’. Clearly, this angst was not being directed at the one incident, it was actually raising larger questions about why a woman is put in the dock every time there is a case of sexual violence and why is there a discussion on what she could have done to avoid it.

The women’s movement has spent years challenging this idea of ‘risky behaviour’ and even now there is a certain section that adheres to this narrow way of thinking. Even so, things are definitely moving forward. What is needed today is a way to expand the arena of women’s fundamental rights. But in order for that to happen a closer look has to be taken to understand the relationship between the existing socio-economic structures and ideologies.

Explained Chakravarti, “We need to identify linkages between violence against women and the ideology coming out of neo-liberal economic policies. Neo-liberalism has a lot at stake in controlling women’s sexuality, sexual labour, reproductive labour, and, of course, women’s labour in the global marketplace. And surely there is also the question of pre-existing traditions like feudalism which collides with neo-liberalism to further create a particular environment for violence in India.”

Gradually, though, the laws are working to mitigate these regressive concepts. The recommendations submitted collectively by women’s organisations across the country to the Justice Verma Committee, which was set up in the aftermath of the Delhi gang rape case, has brought about many positive changes especially regarding the definition of sexual crimes, be it rape, stalking, voyeurism or parading or disrobing women.

Significantly, the new law has given a clear definition of consent – it has now been articulated very explicitly so that unless it is very clear from words or gestures that the woman is consenting, it cannot be imputed through her conduct or otherwise.

No stigma attached

The number of women reporting sexual violence has risen dramatically, which means that women are breaking free from the culture of silence fuelled by shame. Women and their families no longer attach stigma to sexual violence. As a result, the issue of violence against women can no longer be denied. Women are learning to assert their rights and seek justice – and that is always a good thing. At the same time, the resistance and backlash from the system continues, albeit with each passing year it’s one step closer to equality.

– WFS

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#Goodnews -Coca-Cola forced out of $25 million factory in India

coke

The Ecologistcokecokecoke

27th August 2014

After a 15-year battle, local campaigners infuriated by pollution, over-pumping of groundwater and land-grabbing have finally forced the closure of Coca-Cola’s $25 million factory near Varanasi.

Coca-Cola is a shameless and unethical company that has consistently placed its pursuit of profits over the well-being of communities that live around its facilities

The Coca-Cola company has been forced to abandon a $25 million newly built bottling plant in Mehdiganj, Varanasi, India as the result of a sustained campaign against the company’s plans.

The $25 million plant – which was a significant expansion to its existing plant in Mehdiganj – had already been fully built and the company had also conducted trial runs, but could not operate commercially as it did not have the required permits to operate.

Coca-Cola required permissions, or ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC), from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) – the national groundwater regulatory agency, and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) – the statewide pollution regulatory agency.

The Central Ground Water Authority rejected Coca-Cola’s application to operate for its new facility on July 21, 2014, and had sought time till 25th August 2014, to announce its decision before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), India’s ‘green’ court.

Coke ‘withdraws’ days before the announcement

Somehow having learnt that its application had been rejected, in order to save itself major embarrassment, Coca-Cola sent a letter to the CGWA on Friday, August 22, 2014 – two days before the rejection was to be made public on Monday, August 25, 2014 – stating that it was “withdrawing” its application.

Bizarrely, Coca-Cola blamed “inordinate delays” by the authority as the reason for its “withdrawal” just two days before the decision was to be made public.

The campaign has worked for the last two years to ensure that the regulators were made aware of the problems being created by Coca-Cola’s existing bottling facility, and the reasons why a five-fold increase in groundwater allowance that Coca-Cola had sought for its new facility would further deteriorate the conditions in the area.

The Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) had also shut down Coca-Cola’s plant on June 6, 2014 because it found the company to be violating a number of conditions of its license, including a lack of NOC from the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA).

Coca-Cola was able to obtain a stay order from the NGT that allowed it to temporarily re-open its existing plant on June 20, 2014

Groundwater shortages followed Coke’s arrival

The groundwater conditions in the Mehdiganj area have gone from ‘safe’ category, when Coca-Cola began operations in June 1999 to ‘critical’ in 2009.

As a result, severe restrictions have been placed by the government on groundwater use by the community and farmers.

“Coca-Cola is a shameless and unethical company that has consistently placed its pursuit of profits over the well-being of communities that live around its facilities”, said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center which has led the campaign to challenge the new plant.

“It is absolutely reprehensible for a globally recognized company like Coca-Cola to seek further groundwater allowances from an area that has become acutely water-stressed, and that in large part due to its own mining of groundwater.”

A ‘major setback’

The loss of the $25 million project is a major setback for Coca-Cola. The company has identified India as a major market where it seeks to derive significant future profits, particularly since Coca-Cola sales are being hit in more developed due to major health concerns.

“We are delighted that the Indian government is doing what it is supposed to do – protect the common property resource of groundwater from rampant exploitation, particularly in water-stressed areas.

“This should serve as a notice to other companies that they cannot run roughshod over Indian rules and regulations and deny community rights over groundwater”, said Srivastava.

 


 

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Communal Riots in UP – A harvest of horror and shame

Syeda Hameed

Women are the worst sufferers in the violence perpetrated during the recent communal riots and other upheavals in Uttar Pradesh.

In the wake of the riots that shook north India, I found myself in one of the many kafilas which travelled the tortuous road across Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Uttar Pradesh. As a Member of the Planning Commission, I demanded answers from the district administration. In the commission, I was in charge of the welfare of the minorities as well as that of women and children. I went there with my colleague, a young lawyer, in the wake of the communal flares which had erased every pretension of the region being a part of a civilised world.

What we heard from the victims were accounts of not only about the killing, the burning and the maiming of people, but also about the redeployment of an age-old weapon — women’s bodies, which were used as instruments for the redemption of male honour. In the villages of Shamli and Muzaffarnagar, women quietly recounted the horrors of the violation of their bodies which man after man had forced himself on. Graphic accounts were recorded by brave journalists, which are available in the public domain; girls watching their mothers being gang-raped, rods being inserted into women’s bodies, and other horrific accounts of violation of the extreme form.

The slogan doing the rounds there was: “Musalmanon ke do hi sthan, Pakistan ya qabristan” (“Only two places for Muslims: Pakistan of graveyard”).

In the past year, similar other incidents have been recorded, and with new twists and turns. The Meerut gangrape was an example where the focus was on a Hindu girl and a Muslim man. The scene of crime was alleged to have been a madrassa, where the girl was first raped and then converted. Nothing could have been a worse violation of social norms. There was more horror in the Hindi version of the story which explained a scar on the girl’s abdomen as “kidney nikalney ki ashanka” (suspicion of kidney removal). The question since then has been this: was it a case of rape or not? In the case of the Badaun sisters, it is the same question again. Were they gang-raped? The truth about violence against women is that it is deliberately left vague, in case it needs to be tweaked later.

As I was writing this piece, news reports brought forth more revelations about the Loni rape case which involved a nine-year-old Hindu girl and a 60-year-old Muslim man. While an examination of the child revealed no rape, the crowds had already gone on a rampage, indulging in looting and burning. An auto driver was shot to death a kilometre away from the spot; it is alleged that this shooting was in retaliation for the crime. The driver’s Muslim identity has been revealed; his name was Jameel. While the assailant has been identified by Jameel’s brother, his name has not been revealed and the Senior Superintendent of Police, Dharmendra Singh, has been quoted as saying that he is not sure of his mazhab.

Familiar storiesUttar Pradesh has become the rape and kill centre (I cannot think of a better word) of the second decade of the 21st century. At a meeting just after my visit to Muzaffarnagar, I was haunted by the chilling words of a senior journalist: “You think you have seen the worst, but, believe me, you haven’t seen it all. Wait until the cane is harvested. Then you can start counting the bodies which will show up as bones.” Evidence of this assertion has been featured in newspapers all year.

My prayer is that the Uttar Pradesh of 2014 does not become the Gujarat of 2002.

In 2002, I was a member of a six-woman team that went to Gujarat, days after the burning of the Sabarmati Express and the carnage that followed. We wanted to find out what had happened to women, post-Godhra. We went from camp to camp, to Shah Alam, Vatva, Halol, Kalol, Memdabad, Gulberg and Bahar Colony. We drove to camps in Sabarkantha, Banaskantha and Mehsana. Everywhere we went, we talked to women and girls; the stories were exactly the same as I heard 12 years later in the worst-affected villages of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. Only this time it was in Lakh Bawdi, Lisad, Phugana, Kutba Kutbi, Kirana, Budhana and Bahawdi.

What is happening to my Uttar Pradesh, and to my country? Where will it lead us to? I ask this with my lens as that of an Indian, a Muslim and a woman.

I am a biographer of the man who should have been the undisputed leader of Muslims in this country — Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. (He would have not liked my saying “leader of Muslims” because he regarded not just Muslims but every quom as his own.) I recall his speech as Congress President, delivered in 1940 at the Ramgarh Session. Addressing a mammoth gathering, he spoke words which need to be remembered in the present context: “I am a Muslim and profoundly conscious of the fact that I have inherited Islam’s glorious traditions of the last thirteen hundred years … I am equally proud of the fact that I am an Indian, an essential part of the indivisible unity of Indian nationhood, a vital factor in its total make-up without which this noble edifice will remain incomplete ….”

He then spoke of the Indian ethos; words which should have been in every school textbook are now obviated from collective memory: “This thousand years of our joint life has moulded us into a common nationality. This cannot be done artificially. Nature does her fashioning through her hidden processes in the course of centuries. The cast has now been moulded and destiny has set her seal upon it.”

Years after these words were spoken from Ramgarh in Bihar, the soil of Uttar Pradesh has borne witness to a different set of words — qabristan or Pakistan.

Seven years after the Ramgarh speech, Azad stood on the steps of the Jama Masjid and admonished Muslims who, struck by the terror of killings by frenzied mobs, were running away to the newly formed state across the border. He asked them: “Come, today let us pledge that this country is ours, we belong to it and any fundamental decision about its destiny will remain incomplete without our consent.” The crowds stopped in their tracks. Hejrat to another land was halted by the words of one who spoke on behalf of the entire nation.

Those were different times.

Falling behindToday, other realities have taken over. In all these years, Muslims have fallen behind the rest of the country as far as every socio-economic indicator is concerned. Successive governments have been trying to include them in the development paradigm. Their leaders have tried many strategies to empower them. Formations such as the Pasmanda Muslim Samaj have tried to get benefits from the state as well as create alliances and political formations. The word pasmanda means backward; it is a word which is equally applicable to Dalits who fit the meaning.

In Uttar Pradesh, this formation had a chance of gaining political strength by aligning with the Bahujan Samaj. That came a cropper. The Yadavs pitted themselves against Muslims; Jat identity was repackaged as a part of a larger Hindu one. And, their enmity played out on the bodies of women. Stories of Muslim boys abducting Hindu girls were given the title, “love jihad.” Khap panchayats held meetings where strategies were devised to counter this trend. Youth on both sides, Muslim and Hindu, were psyched to sacrifice their lives to defend the honour of their sisters.

What does this build-up bode for this country of crores of people of diverse faiths, ethnicities, classes and castes? What does it bode for the South Asian region, at once most vibrant and most troubled? What does it bode for women across all divides of caste, creed and religion who are violated every day, in every context and conflict?

The lines from Faiz Ahmed Faiz say it all:

Saje tau kaise saje qatl e aam ka mela?

Kisey lubhaye ga mere badan ka wavaila?

Mere nizaar badan mein lahu hi kitna hai?

Chiragh ho koi raushan na koi jaam bhare

Na us se aag hi bhadke na us se pyaas bujhe

How will these mass killings be

celebrated?

Who will heed the moaning of my hurt

body?

There is hardly blood in my frail body —

It can light no lamp, fill no goblet

It can quench no fire, slake no thirst.

(Syeda Hameed is a writer and a former Member of the Planning Commission.)

 

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/a-harvest-of-horror-and-shame/article6342806.ece?homepage=true

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Temporary high court relief for sisters on death row

Temporary high court relief for sisters on death row
The high court on Wednesday came to the temporary rescue of the two sisters from Kolhapur on death row.
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MUMBAI: The high court on Wednesday came to the temporary rescue of the two sisters from Kolhapur on death row. The HC recorded a statement of the state prison chief at Yerawada and the Centre that there would no execution of the two sisters until it passes a final decision. If the execution is upheld it would make the two sisters the first women to be hanged in the state.

The HC bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode said it has the jurisdiction to hear and decide a petition filed by the two death row convicts, who want the sentence to be commuted to life due to the inordinate delay in the mercy plea getting rejected. The HC has directed the Centre and the state to file their reply and explain the inordinate delay in disposal of the mercy plea by the President.

The court also allowed Majlis, a women’s right organization, to intervene in the matter. Renuka Shinde (45) and Seema Gavit (39), the two sisters on death row, whose mercy plea the President had rejected on July 31, will thus not be hanged at Yerawada jail, where they are lodged till September 9, when the HC will next hear the matter.

Justice Kanade said his main question was whether the HC had the jurisdiction to hear a plea by convicts whose death sentence has been upheld by the SC, and mercy petition rejected by the President. Since the sisters had moved the HC and sought protection of their right to life due to the excessive and unjustifiable delay, the bench first questioned their counsel Yug Chaudhary on the right to vacate an order passed by the SC. The bench was later satisfied that the HC could hear the matter under the powers vested in it by the Constitution Article 226 to uphold and protect the right to life of any citizen given the supervening circumstances of an eight-year delay after the confirmation of death sentence by the SC.

The sisters were held guilty and sentenced to death sentence for the kidnap and murder of 14 children by the Kolhapur sessions judge in 2001. The SC had upheld the death sentence in 2006 and the mercy petition was filed in 2010 and decided in July 2014. On Tuesday the sisters’ lawyers Sudeep Jaiswal and Vijay Hiremath said the mercy plea delay had violated their constitutional right to life.

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Celebrating freedom in the Republic of Fear

Independence Day brings with it the fear of renewed terrorist attacks. How did we come to live this way?



Photo Credit: Prakash Singh/AFP

The electronic chimes sound on the Delhi Police loudspeaker in almost every market, and the announcements begin. Independence or Republic Day or Diwali must be nigh. The recorded messages in chaste Hindi are strangely set to classical instrumental music. One by one, they list the safety measures you need to take. Roadside stalls must keep their wares on the floor and have an attendant. The parking lot boys should keep an eye on suspicious objects, cars and human beings. Landlords must be vigilant about whom they rent out their houses to. Do not touch unclaimed objects on the road such as transistor radios. They could be bombs.

It’s probably only in India that such a stream of public warnings of impending bomb blasts does not incite mass panic. There are several reasons for this.

First, the announcements are only one more element in the chaotic soundscape of our cities. There’s an excess of everything: people, vehicles, shops, roadside vendors, posters, banners, encroached footpaths. That makes it easy for someone to plant a bomb and slip away unnoticed. The Delhi Police attempts to sanitise the markets a bit on such occasions, but ironically only adds to the noise with its loudspeakers, distracting the public from looking out for bombs to focusing its attention on deciphering the shuddh sarkari Hindi of the announcements.

The incomprehensible vocabulary they use is the second reason we don’t quite register the announcements. If they were in the everyday Hindustani we speak, they’d cause a lot more panic. It isn’t just the words that makes them seem like white noise but the tone, which is like that of the automated voice in the telephone lines.  

Sometimes, they make these announcements more interesting by ending with a patriotic song. I remember the occasion when I heard, “Apni azadi ko hum hargiz mita saktey nahin/ sar jhuka saktey hain lekin sar mita saktein nahin!”  We’d rather sacrifice our lives than lose our freedom, said the song written by Shakeel Badayuni, composed by Naushad and sung by Mohammed Rafi for a 1965 film,  Leader.

The music comes across as relief but I wondered why it seemed jarring. Ah, it was the language! The easy familiarity of the Hindustani lyrics was in clear contrast to the sarkari Hindi of the announcements. 

Still wanted

This is also the occasion for the Delhi Police to put up posters of wanted terrorists everywhere. You’d think the city would panic at the thought of dreaded terrorists roaming around in our midst, but nobody cares. That’s because these posters come up with seasonal regularity, still urging vigilence against Khalistani and Muslim terrorists the authorities have been seeking forever. They are now mythical creatures.

Cyber cafes start getting stricter, with managers enforcing the ID proof requirement to surf the web, because, you know, what’s a terrorist who does not use email to communicate with Karachi?

The picnicking at India Gate is disturbed, the ice-cream sellers are shooed away, the photographers, the Lovely Chuski stall that sells the country’s best ice-candy, the young men who sell luminous red horns, balloons and balls all go home.

There are more police check posts than on normal days, more policemen, yet more policemen.

None of these things really make us afraid. Instead, they remind us of the forthcoming event. These are sarkari rituals that prepare us for the holiday, often providing a long weekend best used to visit the hills.

Some of the security rituals are practised all 365 days of the year. After the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, gunmen were placed behind sandbags at Delhi Metro stations and commercial complexes like Khan Market and Connaught Place. In the posh malls of the city, the security is a bit like at the arrangements at an airport.

Yet, what is most noticeable on the eve of festive occasions is the policemen going from shop to shop, asking them to remove their footpath encroachments, sanitising the markets. It’s a chilling sight, almost as though we are a police state.

In the elite Khan Market, it’s not just Delhi Police but various other forces, such as the Border Security Force, who march up and down. The heart of the capital can look like a border town. During the Commonwealth Games in 2010, much of south Delhi looked like Kashmir.

Lack of Evidence

Despite such obtrusive security, there is a small bomb blast or two in crowded places in Delhi every few years. Do they often take place before elections or is that my fertile imagination? A few people die in these blasts, their deaths outraging the TV anchors far more than death by other means, such as road accidents. The police “cracks” the case in a day or two, blaming a neighbouring country in the east or west of India for co-opting some disgruntled Indian Muslims to execute these blasts.

Every now and then, “top” “operatives,” “commanders” or “masterminds” of terrorist organisations are caught in Muslim-majority neighbourhoods. The police offers colourful, dramatic stories of such arrests, and the stenographers who pretend to be crime reporters dutifully publish them on the front pages, invariably eschewing the word “allegedly.”

The national security experts then add context on the editorial pages, boning up on the online literature of terrorist organisations, explaining the changes in the command structure of the Pakistani army. Finally, they tell us that the perceived wrongs against Indian Muslims, demolishing an abandoned mosque here and applying Newton’s laws there, are making Indian Muslims carry out these blasts with help from Karachi. You know, Indian Muslims are foolish enough to conduct these blasts and invite the further wrath of Newton’s Hindu followers. These expert insights are rarely matched by court judgments years later.

When the courts exonerate the “top” terrorists, the stenographers tell us the court did not find enough evidence. The news copy hides in the last paragraph the fact that the court found the police evidence to be concocted. The best fiction in India is written in its police stations. Bleeding heart types record the sad stories of lives destroyed by the special security laws. Nobody wonders who really carried out that blast ten years ago. The banned Students’ Islamic Movement of India hasn’t had the allegations of terror against it proved in court, and the Indian Mujahideen remains even more mysterious. It must be the world’s only “mujahideen” that identifies itself with a nation state and not the pan-Islamic ummah, that too in English.

The magic potion to be free of fear

As the comedy of national security plays out in days up to 15 August or 26 January, one wonders about the irony of celebrating freedom in the Republic of Fear.

Using my own intelligence, and no “inputs” whatsoever from the Intelligence Bureau, I humbly offer a solution out of this impasse. A free republic, one where the head is held high and the mind is without fear, is created through justice. It is real and perceived injustice that creates terrorists.

Two days before Independence Day this year, the Tis Hazari sessions court in Delhi commenced hearing final arguments in a case about an event that took place 27 years ago. In May 1987, during Hindu-Muslim riots in Mohalla Hashimpura in Meerut district of western Uttar Pradesh, 42 Muslim men were allegedly abducted by members of the Provincial Armed Constabulary. Five men survived the bullet wounds, but the rest were found dead in the Hindon Canal. The 19 accused policemen remain in service. Some of the witnesses, including the investigating officer, have died of old age. Some of the families of the Muslim men still attend the court hearings, hoping for justice.

Meerut and western Uttar Pradesh are again in the news for Hindu-Muslim violence. Dozens of families, Muslim and Hindu, will start their regular pilgrimages to adjourned court hearings. Justice delayed is justice denied. While people like Afzal Guru are hanged without advance notice, death row convicts who don’t have Muslim names are spared. Maya Kodnani and Babu Bajrangi are granted bail, the Gujarat government does not seek death penalty for them, the way it does for the convicted but claiming-to-be-innocent initiators of the Newtonian process in Godhra. I have encountered people who think the Bombay riots of 1993 were a response to the bomb blasts. Our knowledge of physics plays tricks with our memory. We want Dawood Ibrahim, we forget the Srikrishna Commission report.

From Kashmir to the north-east, Golden Temple to the Babri Masjid, Naroda Patiya to Nellie, Bhandara to Bhagalpur, injustice has turned turned the free republic into a fearful one. We don’t fear the terrorists, but the thought that our injustices could create them. The Delhi Police loudspeakers should warn us to be vigilant not against suspicious objects, but against ourselves.

Read mor where- http://scroll.in/article/674412/Celebrating-freedom-in-the-Republic-of-Fear

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Top 5 richest Indians have half of nation’s billionaire wealth #WTFnews

The five billionaires collectively control $85.5 billion in personal wealth

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi   August 13, 2014
The top five Indian billionaires led by Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani collectively control $85.5 billion (about Rs 5,23,897 crore) in personal wealth, accounting for nearly half of the country’s total billionaire wealth, a new study said today.
According to the analysis by wealth research firm Wealth-X of India’s richest individuals, Mukesh Ambani remains the richest man in the country with an estimated net worth of $24.4 billion (about Rs 1,49,474 crore).
Ambani is followed by steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, drugmaker Sun Pharma’s Dilip Shanghvi, IT giant Wipro’s Azim Premji and Tata Sons’ shareholder Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry among the top-five wealthiest individuals from India.
“The five billionaires collectively control $85.5 billion in personal wealth, accounting for 47.5% of India’s total billionaire wealth,” Wealth-X said.
Observing that “entrepreneurialism is the key to attaining financial success in the world’s largest democracy”, the study further said that these five entrepreneurs have made their fortunes through their businesses in sectors such as oil and gas, steel and pharmaceuticals.
In comparison, India’s wealthiest actor, Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, is worth $600 million, while Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar retired in November 2013 with a personal fortune of at least $160 million, it added.
Through Reliance Industries group, Ambani owns the Mumbai Indians Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team, reportedly the most valuable team at around $112 million, the report said.
Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal takes second place on the list with a personal net worth of $17.2 billion. Mittal is the chairman and CEO of Arcelor Mittal, the world’s largest steel making company.
Mittal, 64, owns 38% of ArcelorMittal and a 33% stake in the Queens Park Rangers Football Club.
Sun Pharmacuetical’s Dilip Sanghvi is the third wealthiest Indian on the list with an estimated net worth of $156.3 billion, followed by Wipro Chairman Azim Premji ($14.9 billion) and Tata Sons Shareholder Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry ($12.7 billion).
All five entrepreneurs have also established philanthropic foundations in support of causes ranging from education, health, environment, social welfare and community development, the report said.

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India uranium mining fuels health crisis

Al JazeeraBy Sanjay Pandey | Al Jazeera

12Aug2014

Jadugoda, India – “They took away my land,” 35-year-old Agnu Murmu told Al Jazeera, days before he died. “I begged them to give me a small truck… but they gifted me with cancer.”

Murmu, according to social activist Ghanshyam Birulee, was just the latest casualty of radiation pollution in Jadugoda, a tribal heartland in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand.

His house sits dangerously close to a tailing pond, where the government-run Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) discharges waste from its mining operations. Murmu’s mother said the family knew nothing about radiation when mining began here about five decades ago.

“Like other unsuspecting parents, I would also allow my children to play near the tailing pond and catch fish from the canal that I know now is contaminated by radiation pollution,” said Rakhi Murmu, 52, with tears spilling down her creased cheeks.

“Uranium mines have ruined our lives. I know they won’t rest till they bury us all in those pits.”

Spontaneous abortions and miscarriages

Radioactive waste generated by three government owned mines – Narwapahar, Bhatin and Jadugoda – has spurred fears of a health crisis in the region.

Residents say they suffer from a number of diseases linked to radiation pollution, including congenital deformities, sterility, spontaneous abortions and cancer – yet mining continues unabated near these Indian villages, without proper security measures in place.

Dumping of radioactive waste by the roadside or near the villages may be putting even more people at risk.

Many women in Jadugoda who suffer from radiation-related health problems say they are treated as social outcasts, including Jingi Birulee, 42. She was born with conjoined middle and ring fingers on both hands.

“Initially, it did hurt when all my friends got married one by one, and I was left alone to lead a life of isolation and rejection,” Birulee told Al Jazeera.

“But now I thank my stars that I didn’t get married and have children. I am really concerned about the fate of Jadugoda girls, now. They are called baanjh (sterile) and dragged out of their inlaws’ house.”

Social activist Ghanshyam Birulee, who runs a non-profit called the Jharkandis Organisation Against Radiation, said there were no issues in Jadugoda before the advent of mining.

Today, however, spontaneous abortions and miscarriages are common: “Now, Jadugoda girls and boys are finding it difficult to find a match for themselves,” he said.

Radiation pollution

Several surveys conducted by independent agencies, including Japan’s Kyoto University and India’s Jadavpur University, have confirmed radiation pollution in the air, water and soil in Jadugoda.

Independent nuclear scientist Sanghmitra Gadekar, who conducted a survey on 9,000 villagers living in and around mines, has documented cases of congenital deformities, infertility, cancer, respiratory problems and miscarriages.

“Labourers were given only one uniform a week,” Gadekar told Al Jazeera.

“They had to keep on wearing it and then take it home. There, the wives or daughters wash it in a contaminated pond, exposing them to radiation. It’s a vicious [cycle] of radioactive pollution in Jadugoda.”

Gadekar said her survey not only shows excess of congenital deformities among those born after the start of mining operations in 1967, but also extremely high levels of chronic lung disease, “quite likely to be silicosis or lung cancer, in the company’s mill and mine workers.”

“In the villages near the UCIL facility, nine children had died before they were a year old; eight of them had congenital deformities. While there were six recorded premature deaths in the control villages, these were all due to more common causes like fever, diarrhoea, and premature birth,” she said.

“Similarly, while seven men and seven women in the control areas had deformities, the nearby villages revealed as many as 52 men and 34 women with deformities,” said Gadekar who also edits AnuMukti (Liberation from the Atom) –  an anti-nuclear journal in India.

Low grade Uranium

The ore in Jadugoda is of exceptionally poor quality, meaning more soil has to be dug and lifted. According to India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), the ore extracted from this mine is of 0.065 grade, meaning the plant needs to process 1,000kg of ore to extract 65g of usable uranium.

UCIL spokesperson, Pinaki Roy, acknowledged the uranium ore found in Jadugoda is of low grade compared to countries such as Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan – but “whatever we have, we have to make do with that”, Roy told Al Jazeera.

However, Roy said “the very word uranium brings about a lot of negative feeling and one should just come out here and see how we helped change the lifestyle of these tribal people.”

This has prompted criticism from anti-nuclear-proliferation activists, such as Xavier Dias, who noted: “If uranium ore found in Jadugoda is of low grade, why mine it when you can buy uranium in the open market today?”

The DAE did not respond to Al Jazeera’s repeated requests for comment on the matter.

In Jadugoda, radiation is omnipresent – in the air, water, earth and plants.

According to a survey by India’s Jadavpur University, which focused on radiation pollution in the Subarnarekha River near the Jadugoda uranium mines, high levels of radioactivity were detected in all water samples, even those far from the mine sites.

Dias has also cited concerns about the impact on the nearby city of Jamshedpur.

“Jamshedpur is being affected and nobody is talking about it,” he told Al Jazeera. “These are dust particles that fly around. They enter the water, they enter the fauna [and] flora, they enter the food system.”

Guinea pigs?

Nitish Priyadarshi, a geologist who has surveyed radioactivity in Jamshedpur and Ranchi, said while uranium particles cannot travel that far, “its sister elements like radon gas, which damages lungs and kidney, can travel to the city and take the already high radioactivity to alarming levels.”

India’s nuclear energy generation capacity stands at 4,780 megawatts (MW), just two percent of India’s total installed electrical capacity of 230,000 MW.

The country plans to source a quarter of its energy from nuclear power by 2050, but it is unlikely to reach that ambitious target; the Indian nuclear authority, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited has repeatedly missed nuclear-energy targets over the years.

Ultimately, India does not have sufficient uranium to sustain a large-scale conventional nuclear programme.

And as renewable energy is promoted under India’s ambitious solar and wind power programmes, the case for nuclear power has been losing traction among policymakers.

Indeed, India’s BJP-led government set aside $93m for solar projects in its maiden budget, with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley declaring: “New and renewable energy deserves a very high priority.”

But whatever the government policy, Jadugoda’s 50,000 tribal residents continue to stand exposed to a danger which the activists say “nobody cares about”.

“The government and the company don’t give a damn whether the tribal people live or die,” said Ghanshyam Birulee. “The government is treating us as guinea pigs to fulfill its greed for Uranium.”

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P-Sainath – How Much Can We Forgo To India Inc ?

To the social subsidy whiners, please check corporate write-offs column

The TV anchor asked eagerly of Arun Jaitley whether he would take hard decisions or, in the case of a bad drought, revert to loan waivers and (obviously wasteful) subsidies. The finance minister replied that it depended on the situation as it unfolded but he hoped he wouldn’t have to return to such steps. “We hope so too,” said the anchor fervently. Which was cute, coming from someone pushing a wish list of the corporate world as hard-hitting journalism. A corporate world which has on average received Rs 7 crore every hour (or Rs 168 crore every day) in write-offs on just direct corporate income tax alone. And that for nine years running. (Longer, but we only have data for those nine years.)

And that’s if we look only at corporate income tax. Cast your gaze across write-offs on customs and excise duties and the amount quadruples. The provisional figure written off for the corporate needy and the and the belly-aching better off is Rs 5,72,923 crore. Or Rs 5.32 lakh-crore if you leave out something like personal income tax, which covers a relatively wider group of people.

It’s close to three times the amount said to have been lost in the 2G scam.  About four times what the oil marketing companies claim to have lost in so-called “under-recoveries” in 2012-13. Almost five times what this year’s budget earmarks for the public distribution system. And over 15 times what’s been allocated for the MNREGS. It’s the biggest giveaway, an unending free lunch that’s renewed every year. Gee, it’s legal, too. It is government policy. It’s in the Union Budget. And it is the largest conceivable transfer of wealth and resources to the wealthy and the corporate world that the media almost never look at.

It’s tucked away at the very rear of the budget document. A seemingly innocuous annexure. It’s title, though, is disarmingly honest. ‘Statement of Revenue Foregone.’ (see:http://indiabudget.nic.in/ub2014-15/statrevfor/annex12.pdf) There are those who point out that this should more correctly read ‘forgone’ and not ‘foregone’. The former actually des­cribes the process of relinquishing or abstaining from something. In this case, from collecting taxes that are legitimately due. The  budget document says ‘revenue foregone’. However, the write-offs are anything but semantic.

So it totalled Rs 5.32 lakh-crore in 2013-14. But budgets only started carrying that annexure a few years ago, and we only have the data from 2005-06 to 2013-14. In those nine years, the corporate karza maafi amounted to Rs 36.5 lakh-crore. That, in case you like the sound of the word, is Rs 36.5 trillion. (Okay, so for the record, these were all UPA years. But let’s see next year if the NDA proves even slightly different).

 

the provisional figure written off for the corporate needy and belly-aching better-offs is Rs 5,72,923 crore.

For those stricken by number-crunchitis: that works out, on average, to Rs 1,110 crore every day—for nine years. That’s one hell of a free lunch. Sure, there are elements that benefit wider groups. Like personal income tax concessions (which is why they’re excluded from the calculations here across those nine years). But do look at some of the big items.

In more than one year since 2005-06, the item hogging the biggest write-offs in customs duty was ‘gold, diamonds & jewellery’. Not quite the province of the aam aadmi or aam aurat. In 2013-14, the amount was Rs 48,635 crore. That was more than the amount written-off on machinery. Greater than what was written off on vegetables, fru­­its, cereals and vegetable oils. In  36 months between 2011-14, duty write-offs on gold, dia­­m­onds and jewellery totalled Rs 1.67 lakh crore.

Yet, the concern is over a one-time loan waiver to  millions and millions of farmers (which never touched the most needy of them). Or ‘food subsidy’ worth less than ten rupees a day per person below the poverty line in the hungriest nation on earth. Not over giveaways to the corporate world and the better off that cross 1,100 crore a day on average in nine years. There is hand-wringing over a rural employment guarantee programme that, at its very best, cannot  give Rs 15,000 in an entire year to a family of five. Not over corporate karza maafi that works out across those nine years to Rs 1.28 lakh per second.

We could have used that Rs 36.5 trillion a bit differently. You see, with that sum, you could:

  • Fund the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for some 105 years, at present levels. That is a hell of a lot more than any agricultural labourer would expect to live. You could, in fact, run the MNREGS on that sum, across the working lives of two generations of such labourers. Current allocation for the scheme is around Rs 34,000 crore.
  • Fund PDS for 31 years (current allocation Rs 1,15,000 crore).

By the way, if these revenues had been realised, around 30 per cent of their value would have devolved to the states. So their fiscal health is affected by the Centre’s massive corporate karza maafi. Even just the amount foregone in 2013-14 can fund the rural jobs scheme for three decades. Or the PDS for four-and-a-half years.

Here’s a media full of market televangelists who preach every night about the need to trim subsidies. Why not start with those above? Well, because so many media outlets are part of corporations locked in the feeding frenzy at the subsidy trough. But to return briefly to the semantics of loot and grab (versus crumbs off the table). Give the poor and hungry assistance worth less than Rs 10 a day to help them have just a tad more food—that’s a subsidy. Give trillions of rupees to the rich—that’s an ‘incentive’ or at best a ‘deduction’. Even the otherwise frank ‘Statement of Revenue Foregone’ titles many giveaways as  ‘incentive/deduction’ or, at best ‘concessions’.

It’s not as if governments or officialdom are unaware of how regressive all this is. The 2009-10 budget said in so many words: “The amount of revenue foregone continues to inc­r­e­ase year after year. As a percentage of aggregate tax collection, revenue foregone remains high and shows an increasing trend as far as corporate income tax is considered for the fin­ancial year 2008-09. In case of indirect taxes, the trend shows a significant increase for the financial years 2009-10 due to a reduction in customs and excise duties. Therefore, to reverse this trend, an expansion in tax base is called for.”

I wrote about this at the time. And the language and tone changed from the next year. No more calls for reversal. I won­der why? Yet, the budget still notes a rising trend in plu­tocrat plunder. Even this year, it notes: “The total revenue foregone from central taxes is showing an upward trend.” Now remember, the same class of ‘subsidy ben­eficiaries’ loot public sector banks of countless thousands of crores. By the time this piece is out, the All-India Bank Employees Ass­o­ciation will have revealed the names of wan­ton defaulters who currently owe the banks tens of tho­u­sands of crores. These are names governments have ref­used to reveal even to Parliament on the plea of the RBI Act and banking secrecy.

Who says industry has been doing badly?  The amounts recorded as written-off in the Statement of Revenue Foregone for 2013-14 are 132 per cent higher than they were in 2005-06. (Even with the budget document gently, sometimes silently, clucking its tongue at the trend). Corporate karza maafi is a growth industry. And an efficient one.


(Magsaysay Award-winner Palagummi Sainath is the country’s foremost chronicler of the travails of farmers. A shorter version of this piece appeared on his blog, www.psainath.org)

In an earlier version of this article, because of a typo, the years 2005-06 to 2013-14 were referred to as ‘NDA years’. This was corrected online to ‘UPA years.’– Sunday, July 20, 2014.

 

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