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Archives for : Lok Sabha elections 2014

FIR against Ramdev likely in Mumbai

May 6, Mumbai


Women’s groups are upset with yoga guru for his ‘honeymoon’ comment

Thanks to the intervention of Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria, women’s organisations here are likely to file an FIR against yoga guru Baba Ramdev at the Azad Maidan police station on Wednesday.

The Mahila Haque Sangharsh Samiti comprising the Ambedkar Mission-Mumbai, the AITUC, the Dalit Atyachar Virodhi Kruti Samiti and the Republican Panther Forum Against Oppression of Women, besides individual signatories, sought to lodge a complaint against Ramdev on Monday for his controversial “honeymoon” comment that hurt Dalit sentiments.

The yoga guru, addressing a gathering in Lucknow in April, attacked Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, saying, “He goes to Dalits’ houses for honeymoon and picnic. Had he married a Dalit girl, his luck could have clicked and he would have become Prime Minister.”

These comments did not go down well with many women’s rights and Dalit organisations leading to FIRs being filed across the country, including in Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Mangalore.

Women’s groups in the city too sought to file a complaint but were apparently refused by officials at the Azad Maidan police station stating that the offence was not committed in their jurisdiction.

“We showed them press clippings from different cities where FIRs have been filed. But they refused saying they would consult their legal department. They also declined to give us anything in writing, including the reason why they were refusing to file the FIR,” read a joint press release issued by the organisations.

“The speech was aired on national television. This gives anybody from anywhere the right to file a complaint,” said lawyer Lara Jesani, speaking for the group.

Following the police officers’ refusal, the representatives approached the office of the Mumbai Police Commissioner on Monday. After having failed to meet the CoP that day, the group’s representatives finally met him on Tuesday. Following the meeting, Mr. Maria directed the Azad Maidan police station to file the complaint, said Sujata Gothoskar of Forum Against Oppression of Women.

The FIR is likely to be registered on Wednesday.


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Dalit villagers attacked for casting votes in Giridih #WTFnews


Dalits who were beaten up, showing their injury marks at Gardih village in Jamua block in Giridih Photo: Manob Chowdhury
The HinduDalits who were beaten up, showing their injury marks at Gardih village in Jamua block in Giridih Photo: Manob Chowdhury

Giridih Superintendent of Police Kranti Kumar Gadhesi had ordered an enquiry into the incident

Dalit villagers were attacked lathis, with bricks and stones thrown at them by upper-caste Bhumihars when they tried to cast their vote in villages in Gardih village in Jamua block in Giridih. Jamua which falls in Koderma constituency was scheduled for polling in the first phase of elections on April 10. Dalit villagers here said they had tried to vote for CPI (ML) when they were stopped by Bhumihar villagers, supporters of BJP, who assaulted a Dalit woman from their hamlet while she was casting her vote leading to a scuffle.

The FIR names 100 youth from the Dalit hamlet as accused of capturing the polling booth and of violence, and nine men from the Bhumihar village. The Bhumihar farmers have since accused the Dalit villagers of assaulting a woman from their village. The Chief Electoral Office PK Jajoria told The Hindu he had not received any complaints from the polling staff of voting being disrupted.

In Jamua, the Dalit hamlets are separated by the Bhumihar houses by an under-construction road. The fields around the Bhumihar houses lay fallow after the wheat harvest. Dhudhwatoli, where a majority of the accused of the poll day violence live is a hamlet of 50 Dalit Turi families. The Bhumihars live less than a kilometer away in Jiyatoli in a mix of kachcha and concrete houses.

In Dhudhwatoli, four men – Govardhan Rai, Lakhan Rai, Nakul Ram, Reetal Rai – bear deep cuts and fresh wounds on the front and back of their heads. Santosh Turi has the mark of a lathi injury on his left arm. The villagers recounted a scuffle had broken out in the morning soon after the women from Dhudhwatoli made their way to the polling booth set up at the village school. “When I tried to cast my vote, they cut the “line” (power supply) and there was no sound of a beep. I tried again but Suraj Dev and Manoj Dev from Jiyatoli entered the booth and caught me from my behind. I screamed and tried to run. My husband who waiting outside rushed in. They hit him with stones and tore his clothes,” said Uma Devi, in her early 30s. Her husband Govardhan Rai bore a deep gash on his forehead. Sunil Kumar Singh, a CPI(ML) worker showed medical bills from Bengabad Government Hospital for treatment of the injuries.

“The men from Jiyatoli were sitting outside at the table of the polling staff. They cut the “line” when I cast my vote and said said “Hato, vote nahi dalne denge” (Leave. You will not be allowed to vote.) They told the staff we were trying to vote twice,” said Devanti Devi. “The presiding officer sat there like a Surdas, as if he could not see. Once he tried to get up and intervene, the Bhumihar men caught him by his collar and made him sit again,” alleged Anup Turi. He alleged the Home Guard who arrived at the polling booth Ashok Narayan Dev, a Bhumihar himself, had sided with the men from Jiyatoli.

Ganesh Rai, a village elder showed a voter ID from January 1995 which he said he had never been allowed to use to vote independently. “The Bhumihar are angry we will not work on their farms for wheat alone now and demand wages. They always voted on our behalf, they cannot tolerate that we wish to vote for CPI(ML). Even in the 2010 panchayat election a fight had broken out as we tried to vote,” he said. The villagers said only ten of them were able to vote on April 10.

In Jiyatoli, Home Guard Ashok Narayan Dev who is on medical leave now and back in his village said he had tried to intervene after CPI(ML) workers captured the polling booth. He showed three of his front teeth had been broken in the scuffle. “I got a report from Jiyatoli that CPI(ML) had captured the booth and were not letting anyone vote for BJP or Congress. I reached there, and asked everyone to make a queue but they hit me with a brick and I fell. I did not see anyone from Jiyatoli carrying any stones, which were stacked by men from Dhudhwatoli,” he said, adding that later voting had resumed peacefully. Munna Narayan Dev, the BJP polling booth agent in Jiyatoli, alleged the Dalit villagers had tried to vote twice leading to the Bhumihars to call the police. He alleged the Dalit villagers had assaulted a woman from Jiyatoli but that she was not available to speak about the incident.

Giridih Superintendent of Police Kranti Kumar Gadhesi said he had ordered enquiry.


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Modi critics will have no place in India: BJP leader #WTFnews

Modi’s critics belong in Pakistan




Flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a na...

Flag of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a national political party in India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



BJP leader and the party’s candidate from Nawada in Bihar Giriraj Singh while addressing an election rally in Godda in Jharkhand on Saturday made statements suggesting there will be no place in India for Narendra Modi‘s critics, and that they will only belong in Pakistan. Mr Singh’s statements provoked sharp criticism from other political leaders in the state.

“Jo log Narendra Modi ko rokna chahte hain, woh pakistan dekh rahein hai. Aane wale dinon mein in logon ke liye jagah hindustan mein nahi, jharkhand mein nahi, balki pakistan mein hoga (Those who try to stop Modi have their eyes on Pakistan. In the coming days, there will be no place for his critics either in India or in Jharkhand, but only in Pakistan),” Mr Singh can be seen as saying while addressing a rally in a video report on the NDTV website. BJP senior leader and former party president Nitin Gadkari was also present at the rally on Saturday in support for the party’s sitting MP Nishikant Dubey.

Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) MLA Pradeep Yadav who is the party’s candidate from Godda described this as BJP’s attempt to polarise the voters. Godda goes to polls on April 24. “BJP is trying to create tumult just before the elections. The fact that Giriraj Singh refers to Pakistan makes it clear the party is attacking muslim voters. This is not permissible

BJP’s Jharkhand state president and Giridih candidate Ravindra Rai said he disagreed with Mr Singh’s comments. “I do not know the context in which Giriraj Singh made the comments so I cannot be sure of what he meant. But it is true that this is a democracy and there will always be critics. There was no reason to talk of Pakistan in his speech while appealing to voters to support Modi,” he said. Senior leader Yashwant Sinha declined to comment saying he was not aware of Mr Singh’s speech’s content

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The Gujarat muddle Story


AN INCOMPLETE TALE: In the 1980s, Gujarat already had the Public Distribution System, the mid-day meal scheme in primary schools and the best system of drought relief works in the country. The 'Gujarat model' story fails to recognise that these achievements have little to do with Narendra Modi. Photo: AP
APAN INCOMPLETE TALE: In the 1980s, Gujarat already had the Public Distribution System, the mid-day meal scheme in primary schools and the best system of drought relief works in the country. The ‘Gujarat model’ story fails to recognise that these achievements have little to do with Narendra Modi. Photo: AP

Why does Gujarat have indifferent social indicators, in spite of having enjoyed runaway economic growth and relatively high standards of governance?

Gujarat’s development achievements are moderate, largely predate Narendra Modi, and have as much to do with public action as with economic growth.

As the nation heads for the polling booths in the numbing hot winds of April, objective facts and rational enquiry are taking a holiday and the public relations industry is taking over.

Narendra Modi’s personality, for one, has been repackaged for mass approval. From an authoritarian character, steeped in the reactionary creed of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and probably complicit in the Gujarat massacre of 2002, he has become an almost avuncular figure — a good shepherd who is expected to lead the country out of the morass of corruption, inflation and unemployment. How he is supposed to accomplish this is left to our imagination — substance is not part of the promos. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), too, is being reinvented as the party of clean governance, overlooking the fact that there is little to distinguish it from the Congress as far as corruption is concerned.

Spruced up imageSimilarly, Gujarat’s image has been spruced up for the occasion. Many voters are likely to go the polling booths under the impression that Gujarat resembles Japan, and that letting Mr. Modi take charge is a chance for the whole of India to follow suit.

Some of Mr. Modi’s admirers in the economics profession have readily supplied an explanation for Gujarat’s dazzling development performance: private enterprise and economic growth. This interpretation is popular in the business media. Indeed, it fits very well with the corporate sector’s own view that the primary role of the state is to promote business interests.

However, as more sober scholars (Raghuram Rajan, Ashok Kotwal, Maitreesh Ghatak, among other eminent economists) have shown, Gujarat’s development achievements are actually far from dazzling. Yes, the State has grown fast in the last twenty years. And anyone who travels around Gujarat is bound to notice the good roads, mushrooming factories, and regular power supply. But what about people’s living conditions? Whether we look at poverty, nutrition, education, health or related indicators, the dominant pattern is one of indifferent outcomes. Gujarat is doing a little better than the all-India average in many respects, but there is nothing there that justifies it being called a “model.” Anyone who doubts this can download the latest National Family Health Survey report, or the Raghuram Rajan Committee report, and verify the facts.

To this, the votaries of the Gujarat model respond that the right thing to look at is not the level of Gujarat’s social indicators, but how they have improved over time. Gujarat’s progress, they claim, has been faster than that of other States, especially under Mr. Modi. Alas, this claim too has been debunked. Indeed, Gujarat was doing quite well in comparison with other States in the 1980s. Since then, its relative position has remained much the same, and even deteriorated in some respects.

An illustration may help. The infant mortality rate in Gujarat is not very different from the all-India average: 38 and 42 deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. Nor is it the case that Gujarat is progressing faster than India in this respect; the gap (in favour of Gujarat) was a little larger twenty years ago — in both absolute and proportionate terms. For other indicators, the picture looks a little more or a little less favourable to Gujarat depending on the focus. Overall, no clear pattern of outstanding progress emerges from available data.

In short, Gujarat’s development record is not bad in comparative terms, but it is nothing like that of say Tamil Nadu or Himachal Pradesh, let alone Kerala. But there is another issue. Are Gujarat’s achievements really based on private enterprise and economic growth? This is only one part of the story.

When I visited Gujarat in the 1980s, I was quite impressed with many of the State’s social services and public facilities, certainly in comparison with the large north Indian states. For instance, Gujarat already had mid-day meals in primary schools at that time — decades later than Tamil Nadu, but decades earlier than the rest of India. It had a functional Public Distribution System — again not as effective as in Tamil Nadu, but much better than in north India. Gujarat also had the best system of drought relief works in the country, and, with Maharashtra, pioneered many of the provisions that were later included in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Gujarat’s achievements today build as much on its ability to put in place functional public services as on private enterprise and growth.

Misleading modelTo sum up, the “Gujarat model” story, recently embellished for the elections, is misleading in at least three ways. First, it exaggerates Gujarat’s development achievements. Second, it fails to recognise that many of these achievements have little to do with Narendra Modi. Third, it casually attributes these achievements to private enterprise and economic growth. All this is without going into murkier aspects of Gujarat’s experience, such as environmental destruction or state repression.

At the end of the day, Gujarat poses an interesting puzzle: why does it have indifferent social indicators, in spite of having enjoyed runaway economic growth for so long, as well as relatively high standards of governance? Perhaps this has something to do with economic and social inequality (including highly unequal gender relations), or with the outdated nature of some of India’s social statistics, or with a slackening of Gujarat’s earlier commitment to effective public services. Resolving this puzzle would be a far more useful application of mind than cheap propaganda for NaMo.

(Jean Drèze is Visiting Professor, at the Department of Economics, Ranchi University.)


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