Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by admin at 14 August 2013

Category: Uncategorized

1. Torture of minor Dalit girl: NHRC serves notice on Bihar police (1)
New Delhi: National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued notices to two senior officers of Bihar police over the alleged torture of a minor Dalit girl by some persons in the presence of police personnel. According to an NHRC statement issued today, the rights panel has issued notices to the Director General of Police, Bihar and Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna calling for reports within four weeks into the allegations that a minor Dalit girl was subjected to torture in the presence of police personnel on July 31. The notices were issued after the rights panel took suo motu cognisance of a media report which said that the girl was picked up by the police to search her brother, who was absconding with a girl of other caste. The mother and brother of the absconding girl were also in the police vehicle, which drove throughout the night. The brother of the absconding girl, allegedly bribed the police by giving them Rs 10,000 and two bottles of alcohol. Thereafter, he allegedly tore off the clothes of the Dalit girl and inflicted injuries on her hands and legs with burning cigarette and also threatened her. The police party merely kept on laughing while all this was going on. Later, the Dalit girl approached the SSP, Patna and subsequently, an FIR was filed against the absconding girl’s family members, but no action has been taken against the police officials, who were party to the alleged incident of the atrocity, the statement said. The Commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the Dalit girl. NHRC has also asked the Director General of Police and Senior Superintendent of Police, Patna, Bihar as to what legal and disciplinary action has been taken against the errant police officials for illegally detaining the victim in police custody and neglect of duties. (Zee News 9/8/13)

2. Bangladesh police arrest top human rights activist (1)
DHAKA: Police in Bangladesh on Sunday said they have arrested a prominent human rights activist for spreading “false and fabricated information” about a May security force crackdown on hardline Islamist protesters. Plain clothes officers detained Adilur Rahman Khan, the secretary of Bangladeshi rights group Odhikar, at his home on late Saturday and he has been remanded into custody for five days for questioning, Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman said. Odhikar expressed concern that Khan might be tortured during his detention, while the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has protested the arrest. “He spread false and fabricated information on the Shapla Chattar operation,” Rahman told AFP, referring to the May 5-6 crackdown on Islamist group Hefajat-e-Islam. At the time, police said they used sound grenades, water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse at least 70,000 Islamists who were camped around the Motijheel commercial area. Police said they recovered 11 dead bodies after the operation, including an officer who had been hacked in the head with machetes. But in a detailed report on the operation released last month Odhikar challenged the police and government version of events, claiming that around 60 people were killed in the crackdown, making it one of the deadliest in the country’s history. Khan, a lawyer, has also been a prominent critic of government security force human rights abuses, including hundreds of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Earlier this month, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Bangladeshi security forces have killed at least 150 protesters since February, using excessive force during demonstrations against war crime trials for top Islamists. Though none of its members have been tried for atrocities, Hefajat-e-Islam joined the protests in May, demanding, among other things, a ban on public mixing between men and women and the death penalty for blasphemy. HRW said at least 50 people were killed in the May 5-6 crackdown. (Times of India 11/8/13)

3.  ‘Not providing safe water a violation of human rights’ (1)
Bangalore: It is the primary duty of the State to provide safe drinking water. Otherwise it amounts to violation of human rights, observed the Karnataka High Court on Monday. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna made the oral observation during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition initiated suo motu by the court based on a newspaper report about contaminated drinking water in many parts of the city. If the water supply is bad in the capital city itself, how can the State provide safe water in rural areas, the Bench asked, while pointing out that providing roads and other infrastructure is also necessary, but not at the cost of safe drinking water. “Anticipating future water crisis, groundwater authority should explore the possibilities of alternative for Cauvery water,” the Bench observed orally. The Bench said that the government spent more money on health issues than on supply of safe drinking water. The Bench ordered notice on the groundwater authority and asked it come out with a plan for rejuvenation of tanks and ground water table. (The Hindu 13/8/13)

4.  Another child trafficking case comes to light (1)
This time again, the victims are from Manipur. In all, there are 28 girls from Manipur and many of them have been sexually abused in a ‘children home’ in Bangalore, according to All Tribal Students Union, Manipur (ATSUM). “It is with remorse we are saying this that certain NGOs had raided a ‘home’ in Bangalore and out of the total number of victims, 28 girls are from Manipur and again, of these 28 girls two or three girls are from Senapati district and the majority of them are from Ukhrul district,” ATSUM disclosed to Newmai News Network while quoting reliable sources. The ‘children home’ has been reportedly run by one Samuel, a 43 years old man but his detail address is not known, said the tribal students’ body. According to ATSUM quoting the sources, 8 girls have already confessed that they were sexually abused by the ‘home’ authority. “One of the minor girls had attempted committing suicide after being raped,” added the tribal students’ body quoting the sources. “ATSUM on behalf of the tribal people would like to question the Social Welfare Department of Manipur government on the issue,” it posed. ATSUM asks, “What has been the Social Welfare department doing after so many of such cases have been exposed in recent time?” ATSUM said, “After the March 12 Jaipur child trafficking case, we had said it was just a tip of an iceberg and now our words have proved right.” ATSUM then demanded that the Social Welfare Department, government of Manipur should immediately address the issue. (E-PAO 8/8/13)

5. Child labourers rescued from Manipur (1)
Imphal: Nine children from Assam were rescued from a bakery in Manipur on Thursday. They were taken back to their homes by policemen and officials of Social Welfare Department of Assam. Mirabai Akoijam, the Social Welfare Minister of Manipur handed over the Muslim boys aged between 13-17 years to the Assam government. The Child Welfare Committee, Thoubal district, raided a bakery located at Kakching Keirak in the same district, as the boys were known to be working as child labourers. The bakery is owned by Mohammad Jallanuddin of Assam. The children told the officials that though they have been working for a long time they were never paid their wages. They further said that they were given insipid scrap meals. These children were picked up on July 25 with the assistance of policemen from Kakching police station. They have been lodged all these days in the observation home of the Juvenile Board. Police have also arrested Mohammad Hellanuddin, a younger brother of the main accused. Ms. Mirabai said that it is very objectionable that minor aged children are brought to Manipur for forcing them to drudge from morning to night without payment. The bakery owner has disclosed that there are some other boys from Assam in his branch shops at Kakching, Wangjing, Khongjom, Wangoi and Sangai Yumpham. The Manipur government granted Rs 5000 to each of the boys. The Minister went on to say that measures will be taken against child labour and child trafficking in the State. (The Hindu 9/8/13)

6. Girl kidnapped for sex trade rescued (1)
New Delhi: The festival of Id brought cheers to the family of 16-year-old Shaiyra (not her real name) who was tracked down to a brothel in West Bengal on Friday, almost 10 months after she was kidnapped by human traffickers from her residence in Hazrat Nizamuddin here on Id-ul-Zuha and sold off to sex traders. The victim, who was subjected to continuous sexual abuse, is being brought to the Capital to be reunited with her family. It was the third day of Id-ul-Zuha celebrations when Shaiyra vanished from her residence on October 29 last year. “We enquired in the neighbourhood, but there was no trace of her. No one had any information on her whereabouts,” said her brother. The family finally lodged a complaint with the area police station. When the girl remained missing for almost nine months, the family moved a habeas corpus in the Delhi High Court, which directed the police to take all necessary action to ensure that she was brought before it. The High Court also sought a status report from a senior Delhi Police officer. While efforts were under way to track down the girl, she made two calls to her family. The calls originated from a mobile phone registered in the name of an Uttar Dinajpur resident in West Bengal. “However, electronic surveillance by a team from the Hazrat Nizamuddin police station revealed that it was in use at Siliguri in West Bengal. The police team, working in coordination with non-government organisations HAQ and Shakti Vahini, zeroed in on a red-light area named Khalpara in Siliguri. Subsequently, a raid was mounted and the victim was rescued from a brothel. A woman named Noorjahan has also been arrested,” said a Shakti Vahini representative. The victim’s brother was also accompanying the raiding team. After being rescued, the girl was taken to a local hospital for medical examination. She purportedly disclosed that one Mamta had taken her along with two other girls to West Bengal on the pretext of getting her a job. However, she was later sold off to Noorjahan for Rs.8 lakh. The victim was forced to have sex with over a dozen men everyday and on refusal, would be physically tortured by the brothel owner. “She will be taken to Delhi and produced before the High Court,” said the NGO representative. (The Hindu 12/8/13)

7. Normal life hit in Odisha over death of dalit girl (2)
Bhubaneswar: Normal life was hit in Odisha Saturday during a dawn-to-dusk hartal called by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blaming the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government for the death of a minor dalit girl, who was set ablaze after a rape bid. Commuters were stranded as BJP workers resorted to road blockade and rail roko at many places during the 12-hour hartal as the party alleged that the 14-year-old girl from Mahakalpada area of Kendrapara district died on Thursday night due to the government’s apathy. In the state capital, BJP activists blocked the track at Bhubaneswar railway station putting passengers into immense difficulty. The station was flooded with passengers with luggage as several long distance trains were stopped. BJP workers also blocked roads at different areas including Khandagiri, Baramunda, Jayadev Vihar, Master Canteen, Rasulgarh square and Vani Vihar. Vehicles were stopped by the protesters who also burnt tyres on the roads at several places to stall vehicular movement. Shops and business establishments were closed in many localities during the hartal which remained peaceful so far with no untoward incident reported from any place, a senior police official said. Similar reports were received from places like Cuttack, Berhampur, Sambalpur, Balasore, Baripada, Puri, Bhadrak and Rourkela. The impact of the hartal was felt more in some areas of western Odisha and Mayurbhanj district where life was paralysed. Besides closure of shops and disruption of public transport, schools, colleges, offices and banks remained closed in these areas, sources said. Elaborate arrangements were made by the police to deal with any eventuality during the hartal. Police personnel were deployed at all sensitive areas to prevent any untoward incident, they said. (Asian Age 10/8/13)

8. Caste Hindus oppose Dalits’ temple entry (2)
NAMAKKAL: A temple belonging to the Hindu Religious and Charities Endowment Department (HR&CE) was sealed in the wee hours of Friday after a group of caste Hindus staged a dharna inside the temple, protesting against the move of the authorities to allow Dalits into the Kashiviswanathar temple at Oduvankurichy. Sources said that the authorities took the decision as a precautionary measure to prevent any untoward incident. A large number of police personnel have been deployed in the area to maintain peace. According to Rasipuram tahsildar K Ayyavu, the temple was sealed around 2 am on Friday. Sources said that on Thursday, a group of caste Hindus squatted inside the temple stating that Dalits would not be allowed to offer prayers at the temple. It may be recalled that earlier, during a meeting convened by Namakkal Sub-Collector (in charge) Suryaprakash to discuss the issue of permitting Dalits into the temple, representatives of the caste Hindus walked out. Sources said that the Sub-Collector had stressed that no one could bar Dalits from entering the temple belonging to the HR&CE. The meeting was also attended by the representatives of Dalits, including Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) district secretary M P Kumanan. Sources said that authorities convened the meeting following the direction given by the National SC/ST Commission to permit Dalits into the temple on a petition submitted by I Shanmugam of Oduvankurichy. Police registered a case under section 107 of CrPC and referred the matter to the Sub-Collector. Meanwhile, VCK leader Kumanan said that Dalits submitted a petition to the Collector on Friday seeking action to remove the seal and permit them entry into the temple. (New Indian Express 11/8/13)

9. Fearing life threat, Dalit scholar Bharti to move Allahabad high court (2)
LUCKNOW: Dalit scholar KanwalBharti has alleged that he and his family are facing a life threat in Rampur. “We are regularly hounded by dubious-looking individuals knocking at our doors. My family is passing sleepless nights,” said Bharti. With no faith in the local police, he is now preparing to move the Allahabad high court for justice. Bharti was arrested on August 6 for his Facebook comment against the Samajwadi Party government on the suspension of young IAS officer Durga Nagpal. He was, however, released after the local court stated that on the basis of evidence provided by the police, no criminal case could be made out against him. Now his family is the target. The dalit scholar, who returned to his Rampur house on Sunday after a two-day tour to Delhi, told TOI over phone that Azam Khan’s men wanted him to leave the city for good. “But I will not, let them do whatever they want,” he said on Sunday evening. Talking about his Delhi visit, Kanwal said that various organizations of writers and authors will stage a protest at Jantar Mantar over the manner in which the UP government was desperate to curb freedom of speech. SP, Rampur, Umesh Kumar Singh, said that Kanwal hadn’t lodged any complaint in connection with any threats. “If we get a complaint, we would surely initiate necessary action,” he said. Giving graphic details of the ways and means being adopted to scare the family, Kanwal said: “There are times when someone knocks at the door and asks for me. Despite being told that I am out of station, he would come back half an hour later and asking for me again. He would inquire if I have gone alone and whether am carrying my cellphone. When questioned in turn for the reasons for his query, he would say that these days anything can happen to anybody,” Kanwal said. “Now this is nothing but creating fear in the minds of the family members. The irony is that I cannot even approach the police because they are all dancing to the tunes of the local MLA and minister Azam Khan,” he said. Kanwal said he has prepared a petition against the police and was now preparing to move the Allahabad high court for the sake of his family’s security. “I am scared but I will not bow to such pressures. “In my petition I will also question the authority with which the police have seized my desktop and storage devices without any mention of the seizures in the case diary. What will I do if tomorrow they plant some objectionable material in my computer’s hard disk and claim that it was loaded by me,” he said. About Kanwal’s desktop, the Rampur SP said it had been sent to Lucknow for forensic examination. (Times of India 12/8/13)

10. ‘Dalits can’t wear footwear in Salem prison’ (2)
SALEM: An outfit has claimed that the Dalits are being discriminated against inside the Salem Central Jail. The activists alleged that while Dalits were being denied entry into prison offices wearing footwear, prisoners from the non-Dalit intermediary castes were being pampered by the prison administration.  Condemning the discrimination and demanding an official inquiry into the caste-based discrimination, the Tamilaga Vazhakaringargal Manavar Kootamaippu conducted a protest demonstration here on Monday. According to Santhiyur Parthiban, state president of the outfit, in Salem Central Jail except non-Dalit prisoners, others, including minorities, were not allowed to wear foot wear inside the prison office. Prisoners of caste-based political party were better treated by the jail authorities, he said. He further to alleges that the Prison Vigilance Police, who should inform higher officials about such practices, were turning a blind eye. He said, the police were tacit supporters of discrimination. He said denial of entry into a government office amounted to contravention of the law that prohibits anyone being denied entry into a government office with footwear and he added that, Dalit prisoners were only being relegated to isolation cells in the jail. While the cells occupied by Dalit prisoners have no basic amenities like drinking water, non-Dalits were provided better care. Human rights violations abound inside the prison with Dalits being forced to take up harsh work like cooking without being paid for it, he said. When contraband was seized in the prisons, they were being charged, he alleged. In the name of checks, Dalit prisoners were stripped and often put in isolation cells and were subjected to mental torture, he added. Apart from prisoners, Dalit prison staff were also facing discrimination, he said, and added, recently a woman staff was transferred on the basis of false charges. While others can get whatever they want for money inside the prison, Dalits cannot even have a minute extra during visiting hours with their kin or friends. Salem Prison Superintendent, however, denied that Dalit prisoners were discriminated and said prisoners were punished equally when they misbehave in the prison. He said, discrimination charges were being made to justify their mistakes. He also denied charges that Dalit prisoners were not allowed to wear footwear in the prison office. A Sipson, state convenor, Odukkapattor Vidudhalai Munnani, a special invitee to the protest said, as a prisoner himself for years, he knew for sure that discrimination existed in prisons in Tamil Nadu; Salem prison in particular being notorious for such practices. But, more than caste-based discrimination, the Prison Manual is seldom followed, leading to a host of human rights violations against prisoners, he said. Unless intermediary community officials in Salem Prison are transferred there would be no real change in the state of affairs, he said. (New Indian Express 13/8/13)

11. Social justice ministry wants all SCs/STs to be considered poor (6)
NEW DELHI: A key government arm has demanded that dalits and tribals be deemed to be poor in the ongoing headcount of the BPL category, piling pressure on UPA mandarins who have barely emerged from a raging row over the poverty line. The demand for automatic inclusion of SCs/STs and primitive tribes among the poor is significant, betraying as it does the concern that vulnerable social groups risk slipping through the identification process. The ‘socio-economic caste census’ (SECC) will identify the BPL, a category targeted by key entitlements schemes. Social justice minister Selja has shot off a letter to Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, urging that SCs/STs — besides denotified nomadic tribes and households headed by single woman/disabled — be automatically considered as poor in the criteria being finalized for SECC. The salaried and income tax payees among them can be excluded, she added. Selja has also asked ministries of rural development and urban poverty alleviation to consult her before finalizing the criteria for identification of poor in rural and urban areas. The demand is significant since the Centre defended the low poverty line (expenditure of Rs 27 per person in rural areas) by arguing it would have no bearing on the eligibility for entitlements that would be determined by SECC. The minister’s plea will test the government. If SCs and STs, who comprise 23% of the population, are deemed to be poor, around 20% would automatically be in the BPL list after taking out income tax payees among them. Otherwise, the number is expected to be less. The criteria of poverty finalized as of now considers dalit status as only one of the seven indicators of deprivation barring manual scavengers who would be deemed to be poor. Besides SC/ST, the deprivation indicators include households that have one-room kuchha houses, are female-headed, have no adult members, have disabled members, have no literate adult and landless households. After receiving the SECC data, the ministry will grade the households on the 7-criteria deprivation index before deciding how many of them are poor. Sources said if numbers are high on deprivation index, the households may have to tick more boxes than if the numbers are low. (Times of India 10/8/13)

12. Non-tribals in state foresee trouble as Soren govt mulls domicile policy (6)
RANCHI: More than one crorenon-tribals in Jharkhand foresee trouble as the newly-formed JMM government continues to toy with the idea of a domicile policy. The issue, being increasingly viewed as the top priority of the new government, has also been included in its Common Minimum Programme (CMP). In 2002, the then government had tried to bring in domicile policy, which entails only those persons who have their land registered in the record of rights of 1932 would be considered citizens of Jharkhand and be eligible for government jobs. It also implies that people who have settled here after 1932 are outsiders and have no right to government jobs, particularly the grade III and IV ones in the state.The issue had led to riots between tribal and non-tribals in several parts of Jharkhand. At least six persons were killed, several houses set on fire and hundreds injured in clashes. (Times of India 13/8/13)

13. Eviction drive turns deadly, tribal falls victim (6)
BHATTIDHANA (M.P.): Gond adivasis wiped the wrinkled face of the late Bishan Dhurve with turmeric water, washing away the bits of coagulated blood on his forehead. The wound, his son Dikchand said, was inflicted by the Forest Department, which evicted around 70 tribal people who had created a nursery of fruit trees in a reserve forest in Madhya Pradesh’s Betul district, around 300km south of Bhopal. The first wave of the Task Force — a team of more than 200 forest, police and revenue officials — swept the illegal nursery on July 28. “NGOs in the tribal belt have misguided them to encroach on forest land saying that they will eventually get pattas. They identify land irrigated by rivers and stage a drama of planting fruit trees. Eventually they clear the bushes and start farming,” Divisional Forest Officer (West Betul) P.S. Champawat told The Hindu. Tehsildar Alka Ekka was part of the first wave. “They had been asked to move back. We only held hands of those with weapons like sickles. Two men creating nuisance were handed over to the police. Their plantation is illegal. If you give a child a toffee and then take it back because it is bad for his teeth, he will cry.” At Dhurve’s funeral procession, Shambhu Dhurve sat silently. He shivered as tears rolled down his cheeks. He looked at the ground when asked what the matter was. “They shoved a lathi into him,” said his kinsman Sankal Lal Dhurve, pointing at his rear. “That day the foresters were mad. They even killed a dog and a cat.” Shambhu slowly limped away behind the funeral march as organisers of the Shramik Adivasi Sanghatan (SAS) chanted slogans hailing 60-year-old Bishan’s “martyrdom.” The SAS has been organising the Hariyali Satyagraha for eight years now. Tribal people in Betul go into the forest and collect saplings of wild mangoes, jamuns, jackfruits, mahua and lemon in the monsoon and cultivate them in nurseries. By 2011 the movement had become popular enough to be noticed by the Forest Department. “Minor forest production is a fourth of what it was a decade ago. Construction and agriculture are both getting mechanised. The only way for adivasis to survive was to cultivate the fruits of the forest,” said Anurag Modi of the SAS. The SAS and residents of Bhattidhana village claim they were thrashed and their poultry and goats were seized during the raid. The district administration, which videographed the raid, denies there was any violence. On July 29, the tribal people left Bishan and six others to guard what was left of the nursery while they went to Betul to complain against the eviction at the Scheduled Castes and Tribes Welfare Police Station. Santri Dhurve, who was there said: “They suddenly charged. There were many of them in khaki clothes. There were even young policewomen who looked like schoolgirls. They caught our arms and hit us and used bad words. Some of us escaped. I said ‘please don’t kill the saplings.’” The saplings have been ruined and the Forest’s Department’s teak saplings now dot the grounds in Savligarh range, which even have a natural spring. Bishan was taken into custody. “He had already been hit on the spine on July 28. On July 30, I went to Ranger Ghar (the residence of Deputy Forest Ranger Hariprasad Pal in Chuna Hazuri panchayat). My father was bleeding from his head. His said his chest is paining,” said Dikchand. Ekka and Champawat say that Bishan was handed over to the Chicholi Police after his medical tests on July 29. Dikchand and the villagers say that Bishan stayed at Pal’s residence on the intervening night of July 29 and 30. Pal could not be contacted. Bishan got bail on July 30 from a Betul Court. Dikchand says his health steadily deteriorated and he was struggling to breath. “I spent around Rs. 2000 taking medicines from the hakims and injections from the pharmacies. He was scared to go to hospital for fear of the police.” On Sunday morning Bishan asked for a doctor, a day after the SAS began picketing the Bijadehi Police Station for refusing to register a case against the administration for violence and violating the Forest Rights Act. “I had already begun going to the moneylenders. They gave me Rs. 2000 at the rate of Rs. 200 interest per month till I repaid. We carried my father on a cot and walked towards the health centre (almost 20km away). He died at the entrance of our village (500 metres away) at around 7am,” Dikchand said. (The Hindu 13/8/13)

14. Tribals threaten statewide protest (6)
LUCKNOW: Tribals from across the state have threatened massive agitation if the government fails to meet their demand for free healthcare facilities. Under the banner of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers and the KaimurKshetraMahilaMazdoorKisanSangharshSamiti, tribals will assemble in Sonbhadra on September 21 to launch the agitation. The warning has been issued after death of Mithelesh, 13-year-old son of tribal leader SukaloGond in a hospital last month. The boy died as he was not provided proper medication. The tribals had held a massive demonstration after his death and demanded a high level inquiry to fix the responsibility of doctors and officers. They also sought compensation for the boy’s family. The tribals have alleged that there is only one hospital in 60 km area of Renukoot. (Times of India 14/8/13)

15. Haryana women’s helpline gets maximum complaints from NCR region (8)
CHANDIGARH: The newly-launched women’s helpline (1091) in Haryana has received the maximum number of complaints from the national capital region (NCR) districts of the state, data revealed by the police on Friday show. A police department spokesman said 3,283 complaints were received by the helpline in June this year, of which 2,238 complaints were from districts within the NCR area. The bulk of the complaints were received from Gurgaon (670), Sonipat (483), Rohtak (449), Panipat (384) and Faridabad (252). Haryana surrounds Delhi on three sides. He said that out of these complaints, the highest number (896) pertained to domestic violence, 481 to eve-teasing, 214 to obscene acts or songs and 153 to stalking. The spokesman said action on the complaints was taken promptly. The spokesman said women police officials in civil clothes were deputed at 728 locations and in 632 buses to curb eve-teasing. Over 1,700 state roadways and nearly 5,400 other public service vehicles were checked for the enforcement of directions issued for curbing crimes against women. The spokesman said 2,258 villages and 1,052 colonies in urban areas were visited by senior functionaries of the police department to monitor the law and order situation. (Times of India 9/8/13)

16. More women being sterilised in Delhi: RTI (8)
New Delhi: The number of tubectomy (female sterilisation) cases have gone up from 18,505 in 2009-10 to 25,228 in 2012-13. However, in the same period vasectomies (male sterilisation) have come down to 1,892 from 4,386, according to an RTI plea. Experts are of the view that despite government’s population policy and their concerns about gender equality, the burden of birth control continues to rest with the women. “We’ve filed a case in the Supreme Court against several government sterilisation camps, which violates the National Population Policy. These camps promote tubectomy, while vasectomy takes a back seat. In several cases, when women go to hospitals for delivery or abortion they are made to undergo tubectomy without informed consent,” said Sanjay Sharma, director, Health Rights Initiative, Human Rights Law Network. According to doctors, the rise in the number of tubectomy cases reflects the attitude of society towards women. But they hasten to add that this might also reflect the growing awareness among women about birth control. “The gradual rise in the cases of tubectomy proves that women are taking over control of their fertility. They are becoming independent and better informed. It’s a woman who has to undergo pregnancy or abortion and face the related complications,” said Dr Ranjana Sharma, senior consultant, gynaecology & obstetrics, Indraprastha Apollo Hospital. “It is very difficult to convince men to go for vasectomy. It is perceived that after the procedure they would lose their sexual vigour or potency. Hence, they force their wives to go for tubectomy,” she added. The procedure of sterilisation for women is more complicated than that for men, say doctors. “Vasectomy is a safer option than tubectomy for permanent sterilisation. Vasectomy is done under sedation and local anaesthesia, it rarely needs general anaesthesia. Tubectomy is a more invasive procedure. It usually requires general anaesthesia and a laparoscope is inserted inside the abdomen. Its complication includes risk of anaesthesia, bowel and vessel injury. However, the overall risks and complication of tubectomy is less than 1%.The risks of vasectomy are much lower (0.5%),” said Dr Kaberi Banerjee, senior consultant, gynaecology and infertility, Nova Speciality Surgery. “Men may feel that this surgery will lead to sexual problems in men. This is, however, a myth and sexual dysfunction is not a complication of this procedure,” she added. According to an NDMC health officer, awareness programmes about family planning and sterilisation are rare in the city. “Married couples should be counselled and educated about the outcome of sterilisation,” he said. (Hindustan Times 11/8/13)

17. JNU teachers stress greater gender sensitivity (8)
New Delhi: In the wake of a brutal attack on a JNU student by her classmate who later committed suicide, teachers, in an open letter, have reiterated the need to strengthen agencies working on increasing gender sensitivity on campus. Expressing concern over the recent events, the letter stressed that safety and security of women on the campus was an “urgent and pressing matter”.Teachers said the Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment (GSCASH) set up on the campus needed to be strengthened. “..we wish to reiterate the need to strengthen and support GSCASH. We are conscious that if the woman student, who has been so brutally attacked, had approached GSCASH with a complaint, matters would probably have not come to this,” the letter said. The list of signatories include economists C P Chandrasekhar, Jayati Ghosh, social scientists Nivedita Menon and G Arunima, historians Kumkum Roy and Neeladri Bhattacharya, among others. “The letter was meant to support GSCASH. The point is that there is a procedure, implicit in which is the need for confidentiality. Since there is a well-laid process, there is a need to support this,” C P Chandrasekhar said. Voicing their concerns over “various attempts to undermine the functioning of GSCASH”, the teachers wrote, ” This is not just unhealthy, but also uncalled for. It undermines a very important institution that is essential for ensuring a safe space for women. We note that GSCASH rules and procedures are very comprehensive and mindful of the requirements of natural justice”.GSCASH was formed in 1999 as a result of a long-drawn students’ movement. JNU set up the committee in 1999 following the Supreme Court order laying down guidelines for prevention of sexual harassment in workplace in 1997. “The major problem is that students do not want to report cases to GSCASH. After the recent incident, the situation has improved. A lot of students are coming forward with their experiences, but this is primarily happening at a personal level. When it comes to filing an official complaint, they refuse,” Dipti Tamang, student representative to GSCASH, said. (Indian Express 12/8/13)

18. ‘Telangana will be plagued by gender crisis, trafficking’ (8)
HYDERABAD: The new Telangana state will face a serious gender crisis as the indices of social development related to women, including Gender Development Index (GDI) and Gender Empowerment Measure (GEM) remain low when compared to the Andhra region, according to the data collected by the AP Mahila Welfare Society. To top it all, the Telangana districts are plagued by growing child trafficking and girl child mortality and a bit of number crunching reveal the gender backwardness of the region. According to government statistics, empowerment of women is lowest in three districts of the region, including Warangal and Nalgonda. Also, GDI in the region remains below the state average of 0.62 (index value), indicating that women have not been integrated into the workforce and their quality of life remains lower than those in districts like Guntur and Vijayawada. Women activists said that with state formation imminent, it is time that Telangana leaders look at these issues. “We have all been fighting for the Telangana cause. We need to ensure that women, especially those from poor socio-economic backgrounds, get to benefit from the new state formation,” said Volga, a poet who has been the voice of Telangana women for long. Women’s groups in the city, including Asmita, Savitribai Phule Mahila Manch and Dalit Stree Shakti, have held seminars and debates in the past two weeks in the city to discuss the gender development measures that the new state needs to take up. Women’s groups are expected to hold more awareness seminars to debate the changes required to benefit women in the region. Another major problem that needs to be tackled in the new state is the growing sex trade in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts. “In the past 10 years, a total of 15,000 women were rescued while they were being trafficked to other states after crossing the Odisha border. Most of these women were from Hyderabad and RR districts,” said N Rajeswari, an activist from Dalit Stree Shakti. “Trafficking and female child mortality rates are high in districts like Warangal and Nalgonda as well. The mortality rate among female children is as high as 23 per cent in Mahbubnagar district,” said M Veena Kumari, a nutritionist and gender rights expert from the city. Leaders pointed out that government policies have failed to help women to enter the public domain as decision makers. “Women are the backbone of the Telangana movement. But they have not benefitted from the movement as of now,” a woman leader opined. “About 40 per cent of Telangana’s workforce comprises of women labourers. So far, there are no policies in the state which will benefit this section,” said Veena Kumari, pointing out gross neglect meted out to ‘T’ women. Interestingly, the plight of women in the region has never figured in the Telangana debate, said social scientists. “A democratic development policy which contributes as much to women as it does to men should be implemented,” said Chandravadan Shastri, a social scientist from Osmania University. While looking at gender development, the case of Dalit women should be considered of utmost priority, he added. (Times of India 13/8/13)

19. Is dust pollution speeding up melting of Himalayan glaciers? (9)
BANGALORE: The International Association of Cryospheric Sciences (IACS) proposes to set up a working group to study the impact of dust and black carbon from forest fires on the accelerated melting of snow and glaciers on the Himalayas. The decision was taken at a recent meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Cryosphere collectively describes the portions of the Earth’s surface where water is in the form of ice, snow, glaciers and frozen ground. The IACS was created in 2007 as a separate body within the International Union of Geology and Geophysics (IUGG) to promote research in this area through international coordination. Ramesh Singh at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Chapman University in California, who was formerly a professor of the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, has been asked by the IACS to submit a detailed proposal bringing out objectives of the proposed working group. While at Kanpur, Singh used optical and microwave remote sensing satellite data extensively over the Himalayan region and also had a research project for three years jointly with the Snow and Avalanche Institute in Manali under the defence ministry. While analyzing the satellite data, Singh noticed during the winter season a vast pool of atmospheric pollution over the Indo-Gangetic plains reaching all the way to the Himalayan foothills. “The dust which is very common in the western parts of India almost every year (during April-June) reaches to the western parts of the Himalayas,” Singh said. He said the dust also enhanced water vapour and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere resulting in the warming up of the troposphere, especially in the western parts of the Himalayan region accelerating the melting of glaciers there. He added that pollution in the Indo-Gangetic plains from industrial activities, biomass burning and sometimes forest fires further contributed to the warming of troposphere and the Himalayan snow/glaciers. In the eastern parts of the Himalayan region, black carbon from the forest fires in countries on the eastern side of India “deposits on the snow/glaciers of the Himalaya and Tibetan region”, Singh said. According to Singh, it is difficult to say which one affects the glaciers most — black carbon or the dust. “In theory, black carbon is a lot more effective but generally the dust concentration is much higher than black carbon and therefore dust can have larger impact,” he said. “It really depends on the relative concentrations of dust and black carbon and a coordinated study is needed to understand this.” Singh added that under the proposed Himalayan ice melt collaborative study, India’s ministry of earth sciences may consider deploying a network of automatic weather stations and dust monitoring stations. (Times of India 6/8/13)

20. Measures Taken to Save Ecology and Lives of People (9)
The Ministry is not aware of any CAG report regarding warning of severe hazards of natural ecology and stabilization of hill slopes in Alaknanda and Bhagirathi rivers. This was stated by Shrimati Jayanthi Natarajan Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests, in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today. The Minister further stated that an assessment of cumulative impact of dams in Bhagirathi and Alaknanda Basins has been carried-out by Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee and Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. To review the report along with other related issues of river Ganga, the Ministry constituted an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) under the Chairmanship of Shri. B. K. Chatruvedi, Member, Planning Commission. The IMG has suggested environmental flow requirements for various stretches of Bhagirathi, Alaknanda and other tributaries of river Ganga in the State of Uttarakhand. The IMG has submitted its report to the Ministry. In order to regulate development in the fragile Himalayan region, the Central Government has notified the entire watershed of about 100 kilometres stretch of the river Bhagirathi from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi covering an area of 4179.59 square kilometres as an Eco-sensitive Zone in December, 2012, the Minister added. (Govt. of India PIB 8/8/13)

21. Environment ministry team finds evidence of illegal sand mining in Gautam Buddh Nagar (9)
NEW DELHI: The environment ministry appointed team has found evidence of “rampant and unscientific” illegal sand mining in Gautam Buddh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh. Reiterating the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal orders, the team stressed that all mining activity must have environmental clearance. It has recommended that cumulative impact assessment of riverbed mining be undertaken before giving clearances, as well as stepping up monitoring. The ministry set up the team on August 6 following the outcry against the suspension of the district’s sub divisional magistrate Durga Shakti Nagpal, who was working to shut down the illegal mining in the area. The report has been submitted to the ministry. The team’s report doesn’t offer any suggestions on punitive action against those carrying out and aiding illegal mining along the river Yamuna and Hindon. The environment ministry team visitied seven sites along the Hindon and Yamun rivers. Evidence of large scale illegal mining was obtained from five of these sites. In Zuppa village, the team was told that some of villagers even lend out their farms for storing the sand, and that “it is lifted as and when it is economically viable”. The team also found that there had been an effort to cover up the sand pits at another site, Gaddi-Samastipur village. Three mines in the Raipur Khadar area, which had been granted leases by the state government were shut at the time of inspection. However, all three operations with area of 100 to 156 acres had been operating in the past without seeking clearance from the environment ministry or the relevant state environmental authority. The report suggests that state must adopt and implement the rules set out for riverbed mining, which lay down specification of mining depth, location of mining leases. It has suggested that those holding mining leases be required to have their mining plans approved by the state’s mining and geology department. It has also suggested that a cumulative impact assessment be undertaken to assess pollution, adequacy of infrastructure. The three-member team comprising Saroj, a director in the ministry, the panel will comprise GC Meena, deputy collector of mines and in-charge of the Dehra Dun office of the Indian Bureau of Mines, and KK Garg, director of the Lucknow regional office of the environment ministry was accompanied by officials of Uttar Pradesh mining and geology department, and the district forest official. The committee was asked to look into the factual position and suggest a course of action. (Economic Times 11/8/13)

22. Nitish Kumar seeks students’ support to make ‘green mission’ a success (9)
Noting that there was grave threat to the earth due to global warming, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Sunday urged the students to take active part in making the green mission a success in Bihar. “We have set out on a green mission to extend forest cover in Bihar to 15 per cent over the next five years as against 10 per cent at present,” he said at a congregation of students hosted by the JD(U) students front. The green mission campaign launched last year has already started showing results as the forest covered has gone up by one per cent, Kumar said, adding that 24 crore saplings will be planted over the next five years to reach the target. Nitish Kumar seeks students’ support to make ‘green mission’ a successNitish Kumar seeks students’ support to make ‘green mission’ a success The students must play a major role in tree plantation and preservation, besides carrying out a campaign among the people about protecting ecology and environment as the mother nature faces a grave threat to its existence due to global warming and a slew of other factors, he said. The Chief Minister said that his party has made tree plantation one of its core agendas, and all its members are required to plant at least one sapling to showcase their commitment to environment. (CNN IBN 12/8/13)

23. Mumbai second worst in education Act admissions, small towns ahead (11)
PUNE: Private schools in Maharashtra’s small towns have marched ahead of their city counterparts in giving admissions to children from underprivileged backgrounds under the Right to Free & Compulsory Education Act. As per the latest data from the state education directorate, Jalgaon leads the pack under the 25% reservation scheme of the RTE Act with 99.9% enrolments. Dhule comes a close second at 96.2%. Of the ten districts that have recorded the lowest admissions under the Act are five cities. Figuring at the bottom of the pile is the state’s well-known topper factory, Latur that has filled only 5.4% of the seats reserved under the Act, followed by deputy directorate region of Mumbai (that comprises Dombivli and Kalyan) that has filled only 12% of its total reserved seats. The total enrolment figure from Mumbai is not yet available as state officials said they were still to receive data from the education board of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. Thane and Aurangabad also figure among low scorers. While Pune has filled 50% of the seats reserved under RTE, it is still lower than Solapur or Wardha that have recorded better admission rates. Mahavir Mane, state director of education, said schools in smaller districts are amicable towards implementing the rule as against reputed schools in cities that are still hostile towards admitting students from economically weaker sections. He said, “Schools in city areas of the state mostly have children coming from the cream of the society. We have sensed lack of initiative from these schools to admit poor students.” Although the number of seats reserved in smaller town is much lesser than those in cities, making it possibly easier to fill them, Mane said this was not a rationale to justify poor enrolments. “If available seats in cities such as Pune, Mumbai and Thane were to be considered, they are almost two or three times more than the available seats in districts such as Jalgaon or Osmanabad. At the same time, the number of eligible students to fill up these seats is higher in bigger districts than in small districts. It should rather be easier for big districts to fill up the seats.” Among state divisions, Amravati filled the highest (74%) number of reserved seats, despite having smaller districts, including Buldhana, Akola, Washim and Yavatmal. In Pune division, Solapur recorded the highest number of admissions (76.5 % of its reserved seats filled), the other two districts of the division, Pune and Ahmednagar, scored much lesser. Until about ten days ago, enrolment under 25% reservation in Pune city (excluding rural parts and talukas) was pegged at just 14%. Officials said that the overall enrolment in Pune district is, however, a decent 50.9% now as it is not only based on updated data from city schools but also includes enrolments in schools located in the district’s rural parts. RTE activist Sonali Kunjir pointed out that the reason why admission is relatively low in city areas was because of city schools lacking initiative. “Schools are turning them down on petty reasons. Many schools are demanding that students pay for uniforms and books, forcing several parents to withdraw admissions.”Matin Mujawar, president of Shikshan Hakka Manch, an NGO that works both in Pune city as well as its rural parts said, “In city areas, students have faced a lot of discrimination from schools during admissions, but not so in talukas. In cities, schools checked applications for the parent’s profession, their background and other such things which was not even mentioned in the act. There are instances when schools rejected applications for unknown reasons.” (Times of India 6/8/13)

24. Girijan children march for school and food (11)
VISAKHAPATNAM: Forty children studying at the MPP school at G. Pedabayalu village under Gemmela Panchayat in G. Madugula mandal on Thursday walked seven kilometres and travelled by jeeps for 32 km to reach Paderu to seek the ITDA to reopen their school and resume midday meal scheme. The school was not opened since the academic year commenced in June and as the school was not functioning the children are not being served midday meal. Parents and some village elders accompanied the children to demand the Project Officer of ITDA reopen the school and start midday meal. After reaching Paderu, the children and elders went in a rally from Ambedkar statue to the office of PO, ITDA. Volunteers of AP Vyayasaya Vrittidarula Union also accompanied them. At the dharna in front of the ITDA office, general secretary of APVVU P.S. Ajay Kumar alleged that the administration of ITDA was violating the RTE Act and the Supreme Court orders in the Right to Food case and demanded immediate opening of the MPP school at G. Pedabayalu. Later the children, their parents and elders submitted a memorandum to the PO with their demand. (The Hindu 9/8/13)

25. Schools turn away Below Poverty Line children (11)
JAMSHEDPUR: City-based English medium schools which always look for excuses to deny admission to the poor candidates have now started turning down poor parents’ appeal citing the state government’s indifference towards Below Poverty Line (BPL) students. The schools say the government is reluctant to provide financial aid to the institutions for the admission of poor students. According to Section 33 (II) of the Right To Education Act 2008, the state government is supposed to provide financial assistance to the private schools so that they can admit the BPL children to their schools. Each class has 25% seats reserved for these children. But owing to disagreement between the state government and the schools over the assistance amount for each child, the government has delayed releasing the assistance funds to the schools for 2012-13. Citing this, several English medium schools are demanding admission money from the BPL families. Else the schools are refusing to give the children admission. “Since February, I have been trying to get my child admitted to a Sonari-based missionary school. But every time, I was turned down. I have now realized that they want money for admission,” said Gautam Dhibor, who along with 30 other BPL parents went to the deputy commissioner’s office on Thursday to submit a memorandum to the state government seeking immediate release of the assistance funds to the schools. According to a conservative estimate, more than 50% of the seats that are reserved for the BPL candidates are lying vacant in the private English medium schools for the current academic year 2013-14. Unwilling to contest the fact about vacant seats, a senior functionary of the Jharkhand Unaided Private English Medium School Association (JUPESA) said the state government should settle the assistance funds issue at the earliest and release the funds soon in the larger interest of the BPL children. “I agree Jharkhand government is unwilling to be on a par with Delhi and Gujarat where per child fund assistance is over Rs10,000 annually. But it should also not be rigid with its existing figure of Rs5,100 per child annually and settle the issue at the earliest,” said the JUPESA functionary. DC Dr Amitabh Kaushal assured the BPL families that he would soon prepare a special report on the matter and send it to the government, said RTE activist Dr Umesh Kumar who led the delegation. (Times of India 9/8/13)

26. Private schools bound to disclose information: CBSE (11)
LUDHIANA: The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has dismissed all the hue and cry by private unaided schools, which were reluctant to implement board’s directive on sharing information on fee structure, staff salary and other details on their websites. School managements had contended that the updating procedure is a complete waste of time. Regional Director of CBSE RJ Khanderao, who was in the city on Monday, said, “It is mandatory for every school, affiliated to the board, to update the information on their websites by September 15, failing which they will have to pay heavy penalty or even face disaffiliation.” He said, “Claims of time wastage is merely an excuse. Even if they feel it is a timing consuming exercise, they have to follow the instructions.” Talking about the purpose and benefits, Khanderao said, “The board took the move to bring in transparency. The CBSE as well as parents should know these basic details.” Repeated complaints by parents (over high fee structure in schools) and teachers (over low salary) have made the CBSE take such a measure to stop the arbitrary conduct of private un-aided schools. Last protest by teachers of a CBSE-affiliated school occurred in May over not getting salaries according to norms. A few days back, Rajesh Rudra, president of the Association of Private Unaided Schools of CBSE, had said that they would send a protest letter to the CBSE on the issue. On this RJ Khanderao said, “The board has always welcomed views of schools, but this time their demand is not genuine.” Navita Puri, principal of Kundan Vidya Mandir, said, “We will go by the decisions what our association will take.” Mona Singh, principal of Guru Nanak Public School, Sarabha Nagar, said, “We will update all the information as per the CBSE instructions.” (Times of India 13/8/13)

27. Naxals succeed due to forces’ failure to adhere to SoPs (12)
New Delhi: The government on Wednesday admitted that the recent attacks carried out by Naxals could be successful due to security forces’ failure to adhere to basic policing tactics. “An analysis of recent Naxal attacks disclose that the attacks could succeed mainly due to failure of adherence to basic policing tactics and practices by some of the state police forces,” Minister of State for Home RPN Singh told Rajya Sabha. Singh said in the left wing extremism theatre, there are certain standard practices taken by the Naxals which can be easily anticipated, and counter measures by security forces should be in place for such cases. For example, he said, the CPI(Maoist) always target and kill leaders of mainstream political parties whenever they get an opportunity. Similarly, they will kill security forces and loot their weapons as part of their professed guerrilla tactic. “The security forces need to be alert in Naxal affected areas even when elaborate intelligence inputs are not available. The conditioning of the security forces should be such that counter-measures against such attacks should be built into normal policing functions. “However, as evident in some of the recent attacks, there was a failure to anticipate events and put counter-measures in place,” Singh said. The Minister said for the Jiram Ghati incident in Chhattisgarh on May 25 in which Congress leaders and workers as well as a large number of civilians were killed by the Naxals, the Chhattisgarh government has instituted a judicial inquiry into the security lapses to the attack. There were 285 incidents of Naxal violence in the country in just three months — May to July 2013 — in which 117 people lost their lives. Of the deceased, 47 were killed in Chhattisgarh, 37 were killed in Jharkhand and 15 in Bihar. (Zee News 7/8/13)

28. Delegation asks govt., Maoists to come to negotiating table (12)
BANGALORE: A delegation of writers, intellectuals and human right activists on Tuesday met Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and appealed to him to initiate a dialogue with Maoists in the State. The delegation, led by writer Baragur Ramachandrappa, submitted a memorandum signed by 19 noted personalities to the Chief Minister, demanding that both the government and Maoists come to the negotiating table to create peace and equality in the State. Citing statements made by both Mr. Siddaramaiah and Home Minister K.J. George earlier, attributing the upsurge of the Maoist movement to social inequalities, the delegation appealed the Chief Minister to translate their concern into an official policy and announce the same. Mr. Siddaramaiah said the issue would have to be brought before the Cabinet to make it an official policy. Pointing that the rise of the Maoist movement reflected shortcomings in democracy and the State’s “failure” to address some of the fundamental issues of the people, they said the naxal conflict had seen a lot of bloodshed in the past four decades and the reason for this “tragic situation” could not be ignored. Viewing it as a mere law and order problem and continuing to suppress the movement through police action would not do, the signatories said. The memorandum also said that “ideological stubbornness and unnecessary use of violence” on the part of the Maoists had badly affected societal peace and democratic process. The signatories observed that the impasse could be broken only when both the government and Maoists carried out a serious reflection of their respective positions. The signatories to the memorandum include U.R. Ananthamurthy, Mr. Ramachandrappa, G. Rajashekar, Rahmat Tarikere, Phaniraj, H.S. Doreswamy, G. Ramakrishna, Indudhara Honnapura, Gauri Lankesh, Parvateesh, L. Hanumanthaiah, Sanat Kumar Belagali, Banjagere Jayaprakash, T.R. Chandrashekar, N. Ramesh, Nagari Babaiah, V.S. Sridhar, A.K. Subbaiah and B.M. Basheer. (The Hindu 8/8/13)

29. Cong leader held for arms supply to Naxals (12)
Mumbai: In a significant development, the Gadchiroli police has finally managed to arrest a local Congress leader from Gadchiroli, who was allegedly supplying arms and ammunition to the Naxals. The police has arrested former zilla parishad president of Gadchiroli and Congress leader Bandopant Mallelwar. The police has been on the hunt for Mallelwar and his brother Narendra ever since it intercepted an ambulance ferrying arms and ammunition, explosives and medical supplies to Naxals in Bhamragarh, Gadhchiroli. Four people, who were arrested in the case, had revealed that Mallelwar and the medical officer of the Porla primary health centre Dr Ravindra Karpe, had sent the weapons and ammunition for the Naxals. Mallelwar, his brother Narendra, and Dr Karpe went absconding after the police seizure. The police even began the process of auctioning the properties of Mallelwar and his brother as they were declared offenders. Incidentally, this is not the first time that the Mallewars have been accused of funding Naxals; in 2001, the police recovered `11 lakh after the interrogation of some Naxalites, who told the police about the money that was being sent to them. A gain in 2001, a vehicle in which Mallelwar was travelling was intercepted; he was found carrying `6 lakh in cash for the Naxals. While Mallelwar has been arrested his brother Narendra and Dr Karpe are still absconding. (Asian Age 8/8/13)

30. Naxal attack: IPS body urges CM to reinstate Bastar SP to boost morale of cops (12)
NEW DELHI: Contending that there was no specific intelligence about Naxal ambush in Bastar that killed top Chhattisgarh Congress leaders few months back, the national IPS association has urged chief minister Raman Singh to reinstate the local SP, suspended after the attack, to keep up the morale of the police officers. Asserting that the Bastar Superintendent of Police (SP) Mayank Srivastava is a gallant officer who “made a name for himself” in anti-Naxal operations, the association has in a letter to Singh said the 2006-batch Indian Police Service (IPS) officer was not the only one in-charge of security duties in the area and the action against him is “stretching things too far”.27 people, including senior Congress leaders like Mahendra Karma, state PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel and former union minister V C Shukla, were killed on May 25 when heavily armed Maoists ambushed their convoy in the Bastar area. The state government later suspended Srivastava and transferred out the local Inspector General of Police and Collector. Srivastava has been attached to the DGP office in Raipur. “The current instance wherein lapses for the Darbha Ghati incident have been attributed to SP Mayank Srivastava only would certainly be stretching things too far. The VIP arrangements and the large scale anti-Naxal operations in the adjoining areas where being tasked and controlled by the persons other than the SP also. “…There was hardly any specific intelligence available with state or central agencies regarding the presence of naxalites in such a large number at this location,” Pankaj Kumar Singh, the secretary of the central association said in his August 8 letter to the Chhattisgarh CM. The association has a strength of more than 4,000 members at present. “I would, therefore, earnestly request you to immediately reinstate SP Mayank Srivastava so as to restore his confidence in the system and make him feel wanted in this hour of crisis. Such a step, the letter said, will go a long way in instilling faith and belief in the young police officers today and in future also that sincerity, hard work and dedication will be the only benchmarks while dedicating oneself to the service of the society. Pleading the case of the SP, the association said Srivastava had led from the front and the government also recognised his (Srivastava) acts of bravery and gallant action and awarded him the Police Medal for Gallantry twice in a career spanning barely five years. The association said that keeping up the morale of the police officers and security personnel should be the topmost priority in the face of deadly Maoist attacks in such areas. Chhattisgarh government had ordered a judicial probe into this incident. (Economic Times 12/8/13)

31 construction workers died in twin township in past five years (14)
Pune: While the construction boom in the twin township of Pimpri Chinchwad shows no signs of slowing down, the safety of construction workers at the sites is becoming a concern. In reply to an application filed by Jayant Shinde, district president of the construction workers wing of Shiv Sena, Pune police has stated that 31 construction workers have lost their lives in the past five years at various construction sites. Shinde had asked for the details of such accidents from January 2008 onwards under the limit of Chaturshrungi police station. In reply, the police stated that 31 such deaths have been recorded in the given time period. A majority of the accidents were reported in Pimple Gurav, Rahatani, Kalewadi, Pimple Saudagar and other areas. Most of the accidents involved workers falling from under construction multi-storey buildings. In most cases, the police had filed cases against the site supervisors for negligence. Shinde blamed the labour commissioner’s officer and the builders for the lack of safety equipment and measures at the building site. “Majority of the construction workers are migrant labourers who have no idea about the requirement of safety equipment or safety methods. The labour contractors leave out such equipment in order to cut costs,” he said. During his survey of the construction sites, Shinde noticed that many of the labourers were working without a safety net in place. “In many of the cases, the family of the labourer is given compensation of about Rs 1 lakh and the workers are silenced. The death of a labourer is the end of a family, as it affects many,” he said. (Indian Express 7/8/13)

32. ‘46% Muslims in urban India self-employed’ (14)
New Delhi: Every day, the Qureshi brothers catch a Metro train from Old Delhi to an upmarket colony in South Delhi, where they own a meat shop. The two brothers, who are in their 20s, have studied till Class X. The third one is a commerce graduate. But, all three decided to stay put in the family business. “We didn’t study further, because we wanted to remain in family business. Our brother is a commerce graduate, but getting jobs is not easy. So, he has joined us,” says Saqib. In urban India, close to half the Muslims (46 per cent) still depend on self-employment for livelihood. This is despite umpteen schemes for minority welfare in over 60 years of Independence, including the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme. Christians make up for the highest number (43 per cent) of those in regular wage or salaried jobs, says an official survey. Among urban Christians, 45 per cent males and 61 per cent female workers were engaged in regular wage or salaried employment, whereas among urban Hindus, about 44 per cent were male workers and about 40 per cent were female workers, says the report, Employment and Unemployment Situation Among Major Religious Groups in India (July 2009-June 2010, National Sample Survey Organisation 66th round). In rural India, self-employment continues to be the mainstay for all religious communities, with Sikhs leading the pack. Among rural males, the highest number of self-employed were Sikhs at 55 per cent (36 per cent households were self-employed in agriculture), followed by Hindus at 54 per cent. Among Christians in rural areas, a significant proportion of male (17 per cent) and female (11 per cent) workers were engaged in regular wage or salaried employment. However, rural labour (manual) was the highest among Muslims at about 41 per cent. When it comes to the level of education, too, Muslims lag behind other religious communities in both urban and rural India. Only 30 per cent Muslim male workers were in the category of ‘secondary & above’ in urban areas, compared with 58 per cent for both Christians and Sikhs and 56 per cent for Hindus. Overall, the unemployment rate in urban areas was higher than in rural areas. “In urban areas, unemployment rate was the highest for Sikhs for both males (6 per cent) and females (8 per cent) … In rural areas, during 2009-10, the unemployment rate was the highest for Christians for both males (3 per cent) and females (6 per cent),” says the survey.
Monthly expenditure For both rural and urban India, the average monthly per capita expenditure was the poorest for Muslims at Rs 980 and the highest for Sikh households at Rs 1,659, followed Christians at Rs 1,543 and Hindus at Rs 1,125. The survey was spread over 7,402 villages and 5,252 urban blocks covering 100,957 households (59,129 in rural areas and 41,828 in urban areas). (HBL 9/8/13)

33. Rural jobs: Govt says priority is completing unfinished works (14)
New Delhi: The Ministry of Rural Development has clarified that the creation of ‘durable assets’ is also an ‘important objective’ of the Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee scheme, after the scheme was severely criticised for not paying enough attention towards creating durable assets and completing the works taken up. The flagship job guarantee scheme of the ministry promises a hundred days of manual labour to each rural household every year at a minimum wage. In a circular dated August 5, the ministry, which oversees the scheme, said, “It needs to be reiterated that while the main purpose of the programme is to provide unskilled work on demand, the creation of durable assets is also an important objective of the scheme under the programme, and completing incomplete works has to take priority over starting new works in the local area.” The circular also clarifies that the gram sabha has the power to determine the order of priority only in case of new works and that completing old works remains most important. This clarification comes in the backdrop of confusion over the powers of the state administration to compel the gram sabha to finish existing works. Some state governments had demanded a clarification on whether the gram panchayat can be asked to first complete works, since according to the Act, it is the panchayats which have the power to determine order of priority. The scheme, which was to a great extent responsible for bringing the Congress back to power in 2009, has been increasingly criticised for the poor quality of assets created under it, as well as for the huge piling-up of incomplete works. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India, in its report earlier this year, found that only 30 per cent of the over 129 lakh works amounting to Rs 1.26 lakh crore were actually completed during the audit period (April 2007 to March 2012), which the report said indicates “significant inefficiencies in the implementation of annual plans”. It had said works of around Rs 2,250 crore that were undertaken were not permissible under the scheme. 7,69,575 works amounting to Rs 4,070 crore were incomplete even after one to five years and expenditure of around Rs 6,500 crore on works did not result in the creation of any durable assets. (The Financial Express 12/8/13)

34. Centre seeks CBI probe into fund misuse in NREGS in UP (14)
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday requested the Supreme Court for a CBI probe into largescale irregularities in NREGS fund utilization in Uttar Pradesh and complained that the Akhilesh Yadav government had not responded to its repeated requests to consent for a probe by the central agency. Appearing for the Union government, additional solicitor general Indira Jaising said, “The Centre has filed an affidavit indicating the largescale violations of NREG Act by the Uttar Pradesh government, which has come on record. We have sought the state’s consent for a CBI probe but it has not come yet.” A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana P Desai told the ASG that the court records did not have a copy of the affidavit but asked senior advocate P N Misra, who appeared for the UP government, to file its response to the Centre’s affidavit within six weeks. Jaising reflected the Union government’s inclination for a CBI probe given the spread of irregularities in several districts, which as per the state’s admission resulted in registration of 495 FIRs, culminating in filing of 154 chargesheets. The state had also intimated the Centre that it had initiated disciplinary action against 224 delinquent officials and recovered Rs 1.29 crore from their salaries. She said that though the Centre could have ordered a CBI probe into the irregularities in NREGA fund utilization and its misappropriation, the agency under Delhi Special Police Establishment (DSPE) Act did not have powers, without the concerned state’s consent, to take up investigations of offences committed under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The Centre informed the apex court about the stand it had taken before the Allahabad High Court: “In view of the grave financial irregularities/misappropriation of funds by the authorities responsible for implementation of MGNREGA as revealed by the reports submitted by state quality monitors, it is imperative to have a preliminary enquiry conducted by an independent agency like the CBI.” Interestingly, most of the instances of alleged irregularities in the utilization of NREGA funds was reported during the Mayawati government’s term, yet the SP regime intended to deal with it through state machinery than consenting for a CBI probe into it. (Times of India 13/8/13)

35. Children can’t assert rights, so fight for them: NCPCR chairperson (14)
New Delhi, Aug 9 : Children cannot fight for their own rights, so having laws protecting such rights is not enough, people need to be aware of them and fight for them, Kushal Singh, chairperson, NCPCR, said Friday. Speaking at the 24th edition of the Tara Ali Baig Memorial Lecture organised by SOS Children’s Village here, Singh, who heads the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said: “Sensitisation of the law on child rights among common people is necessary, still many are not aware of the laws pertaining to child rights. Knowledge of child rights should be widespread as the kids are vulnerable and cannot fight alone for their rights.” Singh said the NCPCR was working to strengthen laws on child rights. “We also have asked the government to expand the course of the child labour act to cover children up to the age of 18. Right now, it covers only children up to 14 years old. Children from 14 to 18 years old are also very vulnerable,” she said. The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act (CLPRA) should be brought in line with the Right to Education (RTE) Act, she said. Singh said the right to education too should extend to children up to the age of 18. At present, the act covers children up to 14 years old. Recalling the contribution of Tara Ali Baig, who headed the SOS Children’s Villages for 22 years from 1967 to her death in 1989, S. Sandilya, president of SOS Children’s Village said: “NGOs like us who are working for child rights are always looking forward for funds from European countries. Nearly 65 percent of our funds are from abroad and 35 percent is from India. If we have more funds from our country it will be more helpful.” SOS Children’s Village is an international organisation which provides family-based care to children without parents all over world. In India, there are 33 children’s villages, which provide shelter and family care to nearly 6,500 children. (New Kerala 9/8/13)

36. Tied to bamboo pole, girl screams on mean street (14)
CHENNAI: Circuses are all about putting smiles onto the faces of the audience. But this one made the performer – a girl of barely five years – cry. TOI found this man on Ponniyamman Koil Street in Madipakkam, tying the girl’s legs and chest to a 12-foot bamboo pole and lifting it, the child crying in pain, all through what the man called a “training session for her evening performance.” The man had kept a steel plate on a plastic stool nearby, on which some passersby threw coins. When a few, including the photographer, questioned the man, he disappeared with the child. But not too far away he continued the torture. K R Selvamani, a retired project officer with the social welfare board who has rescued several children from such performers, said such acts are punishable under several rules, including the Protection of Child Rights Act and Child Labour Act. “Such performances are cruelty to children and a crime. But they keep happening and often we are insensitive to such acts happening in front of our eyes,” she said. Selvamani said whenever the government authorities have acted, some local politician or officer would come to the rescue of the perpetrators. “There were instances in Chennai when social workers trying to rescue such children were attacked,” said Selvamani, who rescued a Chennai-born child from a group of child traffickers in Mumbai four years ago. Protection of Child Rights Act – 2005, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act – 1986, Right to Education Act, Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009 and a number of laws against child trafficking remain in the books while such brazen acts continue on the streets, she added. Tamil Nadu Social Welfare Board acts on specific complaints, but often there is no complaint as even police patrols pass by such ‘performers’ without giving a second look. “It’s mostly ignorance of policemen,” said a police officer. Experts suggest sensitising police officers about child rights rules and acts. Citizens can call 1098 ( Childline), a service run by the government of India, to report cases of children in distress. (Times of India 11/8/13)

37. Child rights panel hears case involving autistic child’s manhandling by therapist (14)
MUMBAI: The state child rights panel on Tuesday heard a case filed by parents of an 11-year-old autistic child who have alleged that their son was manhandled by an occupational therapist at a centre. The doctor concerned, Reena Singh, was also present at the commission and said “she did what she did to control the child” as he was trying to hurt himself. She accepted that it was her fault to use “force … to control the child”. The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, headed by Ujjwal Uke and A N Tripathi, advised the doctor not to deal with autistic children as they thought she was not “fit” to handle such cases. Parents are demanding that the therapy centre in Andheri be shut down. “We will take this matter to the higher authorities and seek justice for my son,” said the mother. The case first came up for hearing in July nearly four months after the incident took place.Parents of an 11-yr-old autistic child have alleged that their son was physically manhandled by an occupational therapist at a centre where this child regularly went for therapy. This case came up for hearing at the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) on Tuesday. “My son has been going to the same therapy centre for five years. On the day of the incident, my son was supposed to meet the speech therapist. The occupational therapist was not even involved and when she couldn’t control my son, she manhandled him to the extent that my son could not walk and is traumatized till now,” said the mother of the child. Parents and activists from Childline a volunteer said CCTV footage from the day of the incident shows that Singh “forcefully” shoved the child into a room and pulled his ears. “The footage clearly shows that at one point, the doctor had overpowered the child by sitting on him, which is when his legs were hurt,” said the mother… (Times of India 14/8/13)

38. VHP condemns J&K attacks on Hindus (26)
GANDHINAGAR: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has strongly condemned the attack on minority Hindus living in the Kishtwar town of Jammu and Kashmir. It has demanded that immediate protection be given to Hindus and their properties. Communal clashes reportedly broke out in the town after namaz on Eid on Thursday. VHP International Working President Dr Pravin Togadia said, “VHP demands immediate action against all 20,000 persons in the mob that attacked Hindus there. Who really led such a big mob when there should have been security in the valley after Pakistan’s attacks on the LOC? Such violence continued against the Hindus for an entire day and still, how come nobody intervened to protect them?” The VHP has also demanded the resignation of home minister of the state and has sought adequate compensation for the injured. The organization demanded compensation at market rate be given to those whose houses were burnt and for those who lost their shops should be compensated for the loss of goods and material. (Times of India 10/8/13)

39. Want law to build Ram temple: Togadia (26)
Ahmedabad: VHP leader Pravin Togadia on Sunday said that his organisation has contacted 500 MPs, seeking help to enact a law to build a Ram temple at Ayodhya. “Two days ago we met 500 MPs from the Congress, BJP, BSP, Left parties. We asked them to help by enacting a law that will lead to the construction of the temple. The issue is in the Supreme Court. We don’t know what will be the verdict. That’s why we want Parliament to enact a law,” Togadia said at a Sant Sammelan. He claimed that several DMK MPs have supported the idea to “make India a Hindu nation”. (Indian Express 12/8/13)

40. TDP still not convinced about Narendra Modi’s ‘Holy Book’ (26)
HYDERABAD: The TeluguDesam Party (TDP) still warming up to the coalition prospects for the fast approaching general polls is dissecting NarendraModi’s Hyderabad speech to read his mind before going ahead with its electoral plans, while speculations are rife on the possibility of it going back to NDA fold. A senior TDP leader said Modi’s new idioms were encouraging as they were in contrast with his divisive and polarizing image. “The content of Modi’s speech is significant as it marks his departure from his hard-line Hindutva, and divisive approach. While he was addressing a public rally in the backyard of the pro-Muslim Majlis party, he was not provocative. The speech was free from his trade mark taunts like ‘burka’, and ‘puppy’. Instead he used the word ‘inclusive’ repetitively. And it was a well thought out move,” said the leader. But, he said Modi was still under scrutiny. Shunning his fire-spitting style, and gratuitous barbs on the minority, the Gujarat chief minister took a moderate stand while launching the BJP poll campaign at a hyped public meeting on Sunday. He went to the extent to say the Holy Book of the government would be ‘the Constitution of India ‘, if the BJP comes to power in Delhi. Chanting his pet manthra ‘India First’, Modi said the working style of the government would be ‘with all, development of all’ (sarkarka karyashaili: ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’). Hackles were raised over this, but people privy to the hatch said it was not for nothing. He paid a rich tribute to the TDP founder and much loved actor-politician N T Rama Rao, but it was not enough to woo TDP. He gave a clarion call for the unification of anti-Congress forces, which also was not sufficient. Modi had to do something convincing to pull the local party out of jitters.So, he talked about the ‘Holy Book’. “The TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu still feels that the Muslim in Andhra Pradesh deserted his party for being a part of the NDA when the BJP could not control a demagogue like Modi, especially after the Godra stigma. As the his party faced two successive debacles in 2004 and 2009, Naidu wants to tread cautiously this time,” said a source close to Naidu. Even before the deal was struck between the BJP and TDP, MIM president Assaduddin Owaisi has issued a stern warning to Naidu against the very prospect. “Don’t go there (don’t align with the BJP), and don’t come in our way,” Owaisi had said, referring to Naidu’s overtures, in resent public meeting. Naidu cannot ignore Owaisi who represents Hyderabad in the Lok Sabha, while his party has six seats in the AP Assembly. Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, an MLC and senior TDP leader, said Naidu had chosen to tread cautiously, and the TDP would respond to Modi so quickly. “It is clear that the regional parties would play a pivotal role in the formation of the Union government in 2014. The TDP holds the key. But, we need to consider many aspects before choosing our partners. For now, we can just thank Modi for praising our party founder N T Rama Rao,” said Ramakrishnudu. (Times of India 13/8/13)

41. Politics of communal mobilisation re-emerges in Bihar (26)
NEW DELHI: The trigger for a surge in communal tensions in Bihar may be localised — stone-throwing at a local procession in Bettiah; a dispute over where to bury the dead in Khagaria; a clash over the menu at a dhaba in Nawada. But politicians and observers are linking it to the larger political realignments, as a result of the split between the Janata Dal (United) and the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the erosion in the State government’s authority. The ruling JD(U) is blaming both the UPA government for creating a “fertile ground for communalism,” and an “insecure, friendless” BJP, returning to “old communal politics.” Its spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said: “LoC killings, war-mania, Jammu incident, and the attitude of the new leadership of BJP which can go to any extent to come to power have all come together to create a fluid situation. Small incidents can easily flare up.” Rashtriya Janata Dal national spokesperson Manoj Jha attributes the incidents to the “Hindu Right” going “berserk.” “As long as the BJP was in power, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was expanding implicitly. [Chief Minister] Nitish Kumar chose to remain oblivious of it. Now, it has become explicit. The BJP calculates that it will be successful only if it superimposes a Hindutva identity on caste identities.” But BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman has termed the allegations “unfortunate and irresponsible.” “Anything happens between communities, and it has become common to blame the BJP. The administration is in the hands of Nitish Kumar. What stops him from catching culprits and nabbing criminals instead of finding alibis?” If the BJP is accused of practising “communal politics,” the JD(U) and the RJD have been criticised for taking to similar tactics to tighten their grip on minority votes. A senior police source told The Hindu that a “competitive game” was under way in the State, and Mr. Kumar and [RJD chief] Lalu Prasad hope to project themselves as “secular messiahs.” Vinay Kantha, former president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and a leading civil liberties activist in Patna, says new political equations have emerged. “The BJP, when in a coalition, could not afford to communalise politics… Muslims were given the protective umbrella by all other parties. Now, on either side, there is some attempt to politically mobilise communities.” But if one factor is willingness to engage in the religion-based mobilisation, the other is the erosion in the government’s authority. BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha and senior leader from Bihar Ravi Shankar Prasad said he condemned the riots and demanded firm action. “But see it in the larger context of the firing on Tharus, the midday meal tragedy, bomb blasts, and it is clear Nitish Kumar is spending more time on political management, with governance suffering.” Independent observers in Patna agree that Mr. Kumar’s grip over the administration has “loosened,” and as he appears weaker and more indecisive, the law and order machinery is no longer effective. Mr. Kantha says the government has always been very “cautious” while handling minority issues, but it appears to be in “dilemma” now. Asked about the government’s weakness in handling the situation, Mr. Tyagi admits that the religious tensions were a “challenge.” “We are seeing this for the first time in several years, but want to assure Bihar’s citizens that we will not let situation deteriorate.” (The Hindu 14/8/13)

Posted by admin at 12 August 2013

Category: Uncategorized

1. Protest on August 15 over RTI exemption to parties (1)
BANGALORE: The Citizen Voluntary Initiative for the City (Civic), in association with IT for Change, KriaKatte and Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement, will organize a protest on August 15 against the central government’s decision to amend the RTI Act, exempting political parties from its purview. “Amending the Act and exempting parties is like curbing our freedom and right to information. To oppose the government’s decision, we’ll organize a protest in front of Town Hall on August 15,” said Kathyayini Chamraj, executive trustee, Civic. Since political parties are beneficiaries of substantial funding by the government, the Central Information Committee ruled that they should come under RTI. “We want the Act to be left as it is. Let the CIC rule stand. It’s a step towards ensuring political transparency. Lack of it causes all corruption. Parties should disclose all sources of funding,” said Kathyayini. (Times of India 7/8/13)

2. RTI debate: Parties, united in resisting transparency, skip open forum (1)
New Delhi: Empty chairs marked an open forum in Delhi where the national political parties were invited to explain their controversial decision of not including themselves within the purview of the Right to Information Act. The only national party that showed up was the Communist Party of India whose D Raja said, “We don’t think our internal decisions can come under the ambit of the RTI. As far as financial matters are concerned, our accounts are transparent.” Last week, the Cabinet cleared crucial changes to the Right to Information Act, passed in 2005, to block political parties from being covered under it. The move came in response to the Central Information Commission or CIC’s order passed in June, asking the six major national parties including the Congress and the BJP to respond to RTI applications. RTI activists say the parties, when unable to change the implementation of a law, often resort to changing the law itself. Long-time RTI campaigner and former member of the National Advisory Council Aruna Roy asks, “If political parties were opposed to the CIC order, why not go to court?” Nikhil Dey of the National Commission for People’s Right to Information slammed the parties’ reluctance to engage in a public debate. “This is an issue of ethics. That they are going to form a quorum of themselves where no one else can come in is neither desirable nor healthy,” he said. Political parties argue that they are monitored by and accountable to the Election Commission. However, as demands for more transparency in public life become stronger, they run the risk of not practicing what they claim to preach. (NDTV 8/8/13)

3. RTI ‘nails’ Narendra Modi on pre-poll promises (1)
Ahmedabad: The Opposition Gujarat Parivartan Party on Saturday called chief minister Narendra Modi’s pre-poll promise a sham, claiming that RTI documents have nailed his lies regarding financial packages to each district. “We had sought details from each district collector regarding the special financial package the chief minister had announced for their respective districts as part of his Sadbhavna Mission. But it turned out that the announcements were only on paper,” said Gordhan Zadaphia, a leader of Gujarat Parivartan Party founded by the former chief minister Keshubhai Patel. Ahead of the 2012 assembly polls in Gujarat, Modi had held one-day fast in each district of the state as part of his Sadbhavna Mission to create harmony in the state. During his fast in each district, he had announced handsome financial packages for each district for development works. In all, he had announced packages totalling Rs. 39,769 crore for all districts. However, a year later, RTI responses from all the 26 districts revealed that none has received any funds as promised by Modi. On Saturday, Zadaphia shared the RTI details including response from all district collectors and district development officers and also the response of the state finance and general administration department. “Rs 160 crore public money was spent to organise the one-day Sadbhavna fast for the chief minister in each district of the state,” he said, hitting out at Modi for “lying to the public.” Giving details for two districts, he said that for Amreli, Modi had announced a package of Rs. 1,004 crore while for tribal district Dahod, the package was Rs. 1,583 crore. However, district collectors of both district stated that they have not received any such financial package from the state government. Significantly, the state finance department and general administration department allegedly feigned ignorance about any special financial package for any district. Modi had organised a three-day Sadbhavna fast in Ahmedabad after the Supreme Court-appointed special investigation team (SIT) gave a clean chit to him and others in the Gulbarg Society massacre case. Subsequently, he had visited each district with one day fast aimed at creating social harmony in the state. The opposition party leaders and also activists and social workers had dubbed Modi’s Sadbhavna Mission as “political gimmick” ahead of the assembly polls. Keshubhai Patel’s own party, however, had fared poorly in the polls winning only 2 seats. (Hindustan Times 10/8/13)

4. 35 MPs want political parties in RTI ambit (1)
New Delhi: Ahead of the government’s likely introduction of an amendment in the Right to Information (RTI) Act on Monday to keep political parties out of it, at least 35 MPs, majority of them from the BJP, are not in favour of the move. These MPs have conveyed their “personal views” to a group of activists and former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, who had contacted them to seek their support against  the government’s move to dilute the RTI. A group of NRI campaigners from the United States, the Association for Democratic Reforms and Gandhi had been contacting MPs from various political parties on the issue. They have now released the list of MPs who spoke to them with their stand on the issue. Of the political parties, only the Trinamool Congress has made it clear that it will oppose the amendment which seeks to reverse the June 3 order of the Central Information Commission, which had stated that six major political parties, including the Congress and the BJP were covered under the RTI Act. The MPs indicated they will finally abide by stand their parties will take. The token opposition to the amendment bill is unlikely to pose any danger to it, since all major parties are in favour of staying out of RTI. The BJP MPs opposed to amending the RTI include Navjot Singh Sidhu, Najma Heptulla, Yogi Adityanath, Rajendra Aggarwal and Hansraj Ahir. DMK MP Abdul Rahman and nominated member Anu Aga are also opposed to amending the Act. (Hindustan Times 12/8/13)

5. J&K govt orders probe into custodial death (1)
Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir government has ordered a magisterial probe into the custodial death of a man detained in connection with the mysterious death of his wife in Udhampur district, police said on Tuesday. Subash Chander allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in the lockup at a police station in Ramnagar tehsil of Udhampur district yesterday. Police said Chander tore the silk cloth attached to the side of a blanket, used it as a rope and hanged himself. The probe has been ordered by the Deputy Commissioner of Udhampur on recommendation of the police, a senior police officer said, adding that it would be conducted by the tehsildar of Ramnagar. Chander was detained following his wife Sarita’s death after she allegedly consumed poison on July 22. “Police have registered a case and action will be taken against officers concerned after the probe is completed,” the officer said. Around 400 people gathered in front of Ramnagar police station and blocked roads today demanding an inquiry into Chander’s death and punishment of erring policemen. Protests were also held in Ramnagar town yesterday. (Zee News 6/8/13)

6. Pak army violates ceasefire, kills 5 Indian soldiers at LoC (1)
JAMMU: Pakistani troops attacked an Indian post along the Line of Control in the Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir late on Monday night, killing five Indian soldiers. Defence sources said on Tuesday the Pakistani soldiers intruded into the Indian territory past midnight and ambushed the Sarla post on the Indian side of the LoC. Five Indian soldiers were killed, the sources said. Chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted, “(I) was briefed early this morning about the news that five of our soldiers had been killed on the LoC. My heartfelt condolences to their next of kin. “These incidents don’t help efforts to normalise or even improve relations with Pak and call in to question the Pak Govt’s recent overtures,” he said. Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh is taking stock of the situation, Army sources said in Delhi. The incident could cast a shadow on the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue process expected later this month. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are slated to meet in New York next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. The incident comes hours after a BSF jawan was injured in firing from across Indo-Pak border in Samba district of J&K. “There was sniper firing from some persons at around 15:55 hours from Pakistan side along the international border (IB) at Narainpur border out post (BOP) area in Ramgarh sector,” a senior BSF officer said. Two rounds were fired from Pakistan side and the bullets hit head constable Ram Niwas Meena of 200 Battalion, he said. On July 27, another BSF jawan was injured when Pakistani troops violated ceasefire twice in the space of 10 hours by targeting Indian posts along the Indo-Pak border in Poonch and Kathua districts. The Pakistani troops had used mortars, RPGs and heavy machine guns leading to heavy firing exchanges. On July 3, Pakistan violated ceasefire when it fired on cops, who had gone to LoC in Sabzian, Poonch to collect the body of a Pakistani intruder killed in an IED blast on July 1. Pakistani troops fired on troops trying to evacuate injured porters after two were killed in IED attack by Pakistani militants along LoC in Poonch on July 8. On July 12, Pakistani Rangers fired on Indian forward posts in Pindi belt along international border (IB) in Jammu district. Pakistani troops opened small arms firing on Indian posts in forward area along LoC in Poonch district on the night of July 22. (Times of India 7/8/13)

7. Prisoner dies in Kannauj jail, family alleges torture (1)
Badaun: Two days after an inmate’s suicide sparked violence in Kannauj prison, a 37-year-old prisoner on Saturday died in the district jail here under mysterious circumstances, with family alleging it was a custodial death. The jail authorities, however, denied the charges, saying that inmate Anek Pal, who was facing murder charges, was ill and died during treatment. Jail Superintendent Umesh Kumar Singh said Pal was suffering from fever and cough for past several months and was admitted to the jail hospital three days back. Pal had lung infection and an X-ray test was conducted on him. As his condition deteriorated last night, he was rushed to the district hospital where he died, Singh said. Pal was brought to the district jail on February 28. Wife of the deceased, Laxmi Devi, has alleged that her husband was beaten to death by policemen. Laxmi claimed when she had met her husband on Thursday, he was totally healthy, but had told her about police torture. Refuting her charges, Singh said that the body has been sent for post-mortem and the reality will soon come out. The incident comes close on the heels of large-scale violence in the Kannauj district prison on Thursday after a jail inmate had committed suicide. (Zee news 10/8/13)

8. Bangladesh police arrest top human rights activist (1)
DHAKA: Police in Bangladesh on Sunday said they have arrested a prominent human rights activist for spreading “false and fabricated information” about a May security force crackdown on hardline Islamist protesters. Plain clothes officers detained Adilur Rahman Khan, the secretary of Bangladeshi rights group Odhikar, at his home on late Saturday and he has been remanded into custody for five days for questioning, Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman said. Odhikar expressed concern that Khan might be tortured during his detention, while the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has protested the arrest. “He spread false and fabricated information on the Shapla Chattar operation,” Rahman told AFP, referring to the May 5-6 crackdown on Islamist group Hefajat-e-Islam. At the time, police said they used sound grenades, water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse at least 70,000 Islamists who were camped around the Motijheel commercial area. Police said they recovered 11 dead bodies after the operation, including an officer who had been hacked in the head with machetes. But in a detailed report on the operation released last month Odhikar challenged the police and government version of events, claiming that around 60 people were killed in the crackdown, making it one of the deadliest in the country’s history. Khan, a lawyer, has also been a prominent critic of government security force human rights abuses, including hundreds of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. Earlier this month, New York-based Human Rights Watch said Bangladeshi security forces have killed at least 150 protesters since February, using excessive force during demonstrations against war crime trials for top Islamists. Though none of its members have been tried for atrocities, Hefajat-e-Islam joined the protests in May, demanding, among other things, a ban on public mixing between men and women and the death penalty for blasphemy. HRW said at least 50 people were killed in the May 5-6 crackdown. (Times of India 11/8/13)

9. Bird flu: More than 4,000 birds to be killed in Chhattisgarh (3)
RAIPUR: Soon after the samples sent from Anjora and Jagdalpur farm were declared positive by Bhopal’s high security animal diseases laboratory, the rapid response team of animal husbandry’s veterinary department commenced disinfection in the region by killing more than 4,000 birds there. Talking to TOI, SK Pandey, director, animal husbandry department, said, “The cleaning and sanitation work is underway in both the affected areas which would finish latest by Wednesday morning. An area of one kilometre around the radius of infected zones would be sanitized. We had an inspection meeting with the alertness committee, health, forest and revenue officials after the Union ministry advised killing the birds in the affected areas. Nearly 2,500-3,000 birds have already died out of which 500 were in Anjora farm, Durg district and 3,000 in Jagdalpur’s Kukkut farm.” He said that the birds, including hens and ducks, would be killed and buried there itself along with disposing off of their eggs, litter and disinfection of their shed. Pandey said that the department will have to be aware about every single death of birds and inform the Centre. “Nearly 4,500 birds would be killed in this process after which the situation will come under control as no selling and distribution of these birds being undertaken. Hence, chances of the infection spreading are rare,” Pandey said, adding the department has imposed a ban on the movement of poultry products from the infected region to alerted zones. Few officials claimed that poultry birds are also exposed to high risk of bird flu and with the severity of disease, selling and purchasing from other states has been banned for the next few months. Refuting the claims, Dhanraj Banerjee, director, egg industry, said that it was important for people to understand that with so many bird flu alerts in West Bengal, Bangalore and Orissa there have been no declared cases of human infection which came to the fore. It commonly happens with the local breeds kept in government universities and veterinary colleges which are not vaccinated properly. “Consumers get scared after such alerts but they needn’t worry because the poultry birds or the commercial farming breed are white feathered which undergo advanced technique lab tests. Hygiene and bio-security are ensured with the quality of the product,” Dhanraj said. Though there have been reports that the poultry business has been affected, with fewer sale of eggs and chickens, Dhanraj said that it’s also because of the ongoing religious sawan month when people keep away from eating non-vegetarian food. “Just like how chickens have nothing to do with Chikungunya disease, bird flu has nothing to do with commercial farm birds,” he said. (Times of India 6/8/13)

10.  kills 20 in Chhattisgarh (3)
Jagdalpur (Chhattisgarh), Aug 7 : At least 20 tribals have died of diarrhoea in the past week while more than two dozen people have been suffering from the ailment in two Chhattisgarh villages, health officials said Wednesday. Health Principal Secretary M.K. Raut said a report on the situation was sought from the district collector. According to health officials, the outbreak of diarrhoea has been reported in Dunga and Handawara panchayats of Narayanpur district, some 100 km from here. In Potadipara neighbourhood of Dunga Panchayat, 14 deaths from diarrhoea were reported. Six deaths from the same ailment were reported from Handawara’s Bedmapara neighbourhood, officials said. Civil Surgeon M.K. Suryavanshi, posted in the Bastar region’s headquarters Jagdalpur, said that after receiving the information of outbreak of diarrhoea, a team of doctors and health workers was sent to the affected villages. (New Kerala 7/8/13)

11. Punjab prepares Rs 185 crore plan to fight drug menace (3)
CHANDIGARH: Having failed to fight off the growing problem of drugs in the state, which is spiraling out of control, Punjab government has now prepared a ‘comprehensive’ plan to reach out to addicts in each and every village and also to knock on the Union government’s door for financial assistance. The state health department has made a proposal, to be submitted to the 14th finance commission, seeking a grant of Rs 185 crore, to battle the growing abuse of narcotics. The department is also seeking a separate Rs 100 crore to fight the problem of growing number of injection drug users (IUDs), which is directly linked to corresponding rise in HIV+ persons. Though there is no consensus on the actual number of addicts in the state and various studies have put different figures, with some claiming the number of youth addicts ranging from 60% to 70%. While presenting its case for financial grant to the commission, the department has painted quite a dreadful picture of the problem in the state. According to the health department, “The problem of drugs abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Punjab with 60% of all illicit drugs confiscated in India being seized in the state.” Quoting a study done by Chandigarh-based Institute of Development and Communication, the proposal states that, “70% of the drug users in Punjab were hooked to opium and other drugs.” As per the proposal, the health department will target all the 13,200 Punjab villages and launch campaigns in a phased manner from 2015-16 to 2019-20 to identify, treat and rehabilitate drug addicts. The department also plans to rope in around 2 lakh NSS volunteers and 5,500 youth clubs, which besides identifying and counseling the addicts and ‘probable addicts,’ will also adopt villages where the problem has become acute with help from various wings of the health department. According to the proposal, various teams of 10-member each, will be set up, which will visit the villages regularly for counseling and will also provide feedback on addicts, who need to be referred to de-addiction centres. The government also plans to set up five state-level de-addiction centres and 31 centres at district and sub-divisional level. There are 89 drug de-addiction centres in Punjab, however, only 29 are recognized. Punjab is also home to one of the highest numbers of IUDs and the prevalence of HIV among IUDs is maximum in the state. The proposal states that HIV+ persons among the IUDs in Punjab are 21.02% against the national average of 7.2% and from 2007 to 2012, 2505 people died due to HIV in Punjab.(Times of India 10/8/13)

12. Health Department plans to intensify raids (3)
KOCHI: The Health Department of the Kochi Corporation will intensify raids on hotels and eateries in the city ahead of the Onam season. The decision comes in the wake of reports that large quantity of substandard and discarded oil from Tamil Nadu is being brought to the city. According to a top Corporation official, some wayside eateries in the city use this oil to make chips and other snacks, which are in high demand during the Onam season. “Complaints by some traders regarding substandard oil being brought to the city have come to our notice. Hence, we have decide to launch an intensive drive to prevent any such malpractices,” said Kochi Corporation Health Standing Committee chairman T K Ashraf. A majority of eateries in the city do not prepare items like chips, sarkkaravaratty and murukku. According to some traders, they buy all these items from catering centres. “These items usually come to the stores in packets. Hence, there is a need for checking the quality of these items. There will be a surge in demand for these items in the coming weeks,” a trader said. According to them, discarded oil from other states is being sold here at a cheaper rate varying between Rs 25 and Rs 30. “We are planning to conduct raids at major catering service which supply chips and other items to the eateries in the city. Routine inspections will be conducted to ensure that only hygienic food is served,” Ashraf said. (New Indian Express 11/8/13)

13. Husband infects woman with HIV, deserts her (3)
Barmer: Like any other new bride, Laxmi (name changed) dreamt of a happy married life. Instead, she got torture, mental harassment and HIV. Married to a truck driver in 2010, this woman from Barmer had no idea that her husband was HIV positive. Beaten and harassed every other day by her husband, she kept her peace even after he would beat her up mercilessly during her pregnancy. However, she soon felt ill and medical tests confirmed that she was HIV positive. The doctor insisted on her husband taking the test as well which came positive. Afraid that people would come to know about this, he branded Laxmi characterless and threw her out of the house. At her parent’s house, Laxmi gave birth to her son who also tested positive for HIV. “My father is poor and does not have money for our treatment. Even now, my husband has threatened my family not to get me treated,” she said. Left with no other option, Laxmi approached the Rajasthan Women’s Commission. “After hearing my case, RWC chairperson Lad Kumari Jain directed the Barmer police to help me,” said Laxmi. The police will first try to intercede with her husband. If he refuses to take her back, a case will be filed against him. Chief medical and health officer of Barmer Dr Jitendra Singh said he has referred Laxmi and her son to the principal medical officer of Barmer where they are getting regular treatment. (Hindustan Times 1/8/13)

14. ‘HIV mothers on ARV can breastfeed’ (3)
VISAKHAPATNAM: HIV positive mothers can breastfeed their newborns provided they are on anti-retroviral therapy (ARV) right through the pregnancy, the delivery and post-delivery period, including the breast-feeding period, to prevent vertical transmission of HIV from mother to child, say medical experts on the occasion of the World Breastfeeding Week that is being celebrated from August 1 to 7 to encourage breastfeeding. According to experts, the HIV positive mothers should exclusively breastfeed their children irrespective of HIV status for the first six months while non-infected mothers can breastfeed till the child reaches two years of age. “NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for six months and then soft, nutrient-rich homemade food during the weaning period, preferably upto two years. It has been found that the risk of transmission involved is minimal, just 2%, when the mother is on ARV using a combination drug regime,” said Dr Jayachandra Reddy, joint director, basic services, AP State Aids Control Society (APSACS). “The child is given nevirapine syrup for six weeks and then septran syrup till the 18th month in case early infant diagnosis or DNA PCR test shows that the child is HIV-negative. In case the child is found to be HIV positive, he or she is put on ARV. WHO ( World Health Organisation) recommends alternative or replacement bottle feeding only if five factors are satisfied. These include AFASS – Affordability, Feasibility, Acceptability, Safety and Sustainability,” said the APSACS official. While breast-feeding is recommended for all newborns, there has been controversy over HIV positive mothers breastfeeding their babies but this has now been dispelled with the WHO and doctors dealing with AIDS recommending breastfeeding by HIV positive mothers who are on ARV even in developing countries. According to Dr K Surya Rao, specialist in HIV/AIDS medicine from Dr Kutikuppala Hospital, one has to weigh the risk and benefits while breastfeeding. “In India, as per WHO, annually, nearly two-thirds of the over 2.4 million child deaths are related to inappropriate infant feeding practices. Due to lack of breast milk, many infants die of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis overnight. Even though there’s some risk of vertical transmission involved, there are ways to prevent it too.” “The mother should be on highly active ARV right from pregnancy, depending on her viral load and take a combination of drugs instead of the earlier practiced mono-therapy. The mother should also be comfortable feeding the child as per requirement. Also, a campaign needs to be undertaken, especially in rural and tribal areas regarding non-discarding the colostrum, which is a component in the mother’s first milk containing high protein and antibody and boosts the immune system,” Dr Rao explained. Concurring with experts, Dr Ronanki Ramesh, additional district medical and health officer (AIDS and leprosy) said, “Mixed feeding with breast and bottle-milk should be avoided to cut down the risk of transmission. Also, in poor or developing countries, women may not have access to safe and affordable replacement feeding options and handling of milk bottles isn’t hygienic and triggers more diarrhoea deaths in infants. Therefore, irrespective of the HIV status, mothers on ARV are encouraged to breastfeed their children within one hour of birth.” According to doctors, breastfeeding is the best way to provide ideal food for the healthy growth and development of infants as apart from creating immunity and protecting the baby from infections, it also creates a special bond between the mother and child. (Times of India 4/8/13)

15. Employees open to Elisa test: TeamLease survey (3)
BANGALORE: A majority of mid-level and junior executives are willing to undergo ELISA test as part of the recruitment process, said staffing company TeamLease Services in its survey titled Bias@Workplace that was released on Monday. ELISA test used to detect the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in a sample. The survey conducted by Market Search IPL for TeamLease covered 800 companies across eight cities — New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad. The respondents surveyed were in the age group of 21-60 years. The survey further revealed that pregnant women or women with young children are at a relative disadvantage, both during the recruitment process as well as exploring other opportunities at workplace. India Inc (mainly in the top 8 cities) is yet to adopt the concept of equal opportunity in its true sense, it said. The report showed 5 out of 10 employees have experienced some sort of discrimination, indicating discriminatory practices during recruitment or at the workplace. About 54% of the respondents between 21 to 35 years have experienced discrimination as compared to employees above 50 years. This may be contrary to popular belief; but it seems that the older you grow, less discrimination you will face!  Surabhi Mathur Gandhi, senior VP TeamLease Services said, “While community and caste have ceased to be common occurences, India Inc still has a long way to go before the work environment becomes truly bias free. Underlying preferential treatment is still witnessed in varying circumstances, debilitating the growth of the work force, especially women. It is very important for companies to have a clear policy on discrimination with proper enforcement; else productivity will be adversely affected.” (Time of India 5/8/13)

16. Number of HIV positive pregnant mothers plummet in city (3)
Chandigarh: Data collected by the Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society (CSACS) revealed that there has been a decline in the number of HIV positive mothers in the city. While in 2011-2013, only 89 of 39,000 pregnant women tested positive, this year the number has come down to 7. Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres (ICTC) have been set up at various hospitals and medical centres in the city to spread awareness and encourage pregnant women to go for HIV tests. The percentage has come down from 0.24% in 2011-12 to 0.21% in 2012-13 and this year the percentage has further declined to 0.11%. CSACS data states that 17,284 women were tested in 2011-12 and of them 42 were HIV positive. In 2012-13, among 21,673 pregnant women tested, only 47 were tested positive. The number of HIV positive patients has further gone down to 7 from the 5,992 tested. Dr Vanita Mahajan, Director, CSACS said, “Every year about 30,000 pregnant women are tested for HIV. Though the test is not mandatory, but we urge mothers to go for the test. Our members counsel the mothers about the importance of the test.” The test is free of cost and is conducted at every hospital. “If tested positive, mothers are sent to Anti Retroviral Therapy centre in PGIMER, where the viral load and counts are checked and she is put under medication,” she said. There are three stages during which HIV passes on to the baby, first during pregnancy, during delivery and then during breast-feeding. The chances of passing on the virus are equal at every stage. Dr Vanita said, “We don’t stop HIV positive mothers from breastfeeding. Majority of mothers are poor and can not afford supplements. If they will not breastfeed the child and not give supplements, the child will die of malnutrition.” There are also chances that the child might die of diarrhoea… ( Indian Express 8/8/13)

17. AIDS victim murdered by mother, brother due to social stigma (3)
TIRUNELVELI: Police on Sunday arrested the mother and brother of an AIDS patient in Tirunelveli for allegedly strangulating him to death. Police said Isaac Robin, 34, of Kalandhapanai in Panakudi police limits in Tiruneveli district had been working as a supervisor at construction sites. He used to travel to different states as part of his job. His mother Gnanalet and brother Prabu, 30, were living in their native village. His father, Jacon, died a few years ago. Last year, Robin came home as he fell sick and medical examination confirmed that he was suffering from AIDS. He stayed with his mother and brother. However, their relatives started distancing themselves from Robin’s family. Over a period of time, visits by outsiders stopped when they came to know of Robin’s disease. Disheartened by the social stigma, the mother and brother asked Robin to leave home. But he refused. On August 5, the mother lodged a complaint with the Panakudi police claiming that her son had started vomiting blood and died a few minutes later. Police registered a case under Section 174 of the IPC and the body was sent for postmortem. The body was handed over to the family on August 7 and it was cremated later. However, the postmortem report, which came on Saturday, revealed that the man had been strangled and that his neck bones and windpipe were broken. Upon the directions of Tirunelveli superintendent of police Vijayendra Bidari, police registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC and launched a lookout for Gnanalet, Prabu and his friend Vivek, 29, who were absconding. The mother and brother were arrested on Sunday and they confessed to murdering the man. Police said that Robin had come to the house against his mother’s wish and started consuming liquor along with his brother and Vivek. He began to abuse his mother in an inebriated state in front of his brother, who allegedly strangled him. The superintendent of police said it looked as if social stigma had led to the mother and sibling resorting to the extreme step. They were remanded in police custody. (Times of India 12/8/13)

18. Fodder scam case: court reserves verdict on Lalu’s plea (5)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad’s plea, citing bias, that the fodder scam case pending before a trial court in Ranchi be shifted to another judge. A Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana Desai and Ranjan Gogoi reserved verdict after hearing senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and senior counsel P.H. Parekh, appearing for Mr. Lalu Prasad and senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, appearing for complainant Janata Dal (United) leader Rajiv Ranjan and Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran for the CBI. On July 9, the Bench had stayed the proceedings before the trial court judge, who was to pronounce his judgment on July 15, and sought the views of the CBI. Mr. Jethmalani traced the history of the case and said the present judge was hearing the case from November 2011. He contended that Minu Devi, the sister of the presiding judge, was married to late Jainendra Shahi, cousin of P.K. Shahi, who, besides having appeared for Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar — his political rival — in the politically motivated PILs as well as for the CBI in criminal cases against Mr. Lalu Prasad, was also presently a Minister in Bihar. When Justice Sathasivam wanted to know why this issue was not raised earlier, Mr. Jethmalani said the fact came to light only after a photograph of the Minister visiting the sister’s house was published early this year. He said: “Our arguments were heard for 13 days, only for one hour each day and the judge asked us to give written submissions and reserved judgment.” When the CJI asked how long Mr. Lalu Prasad would take for fresh examination of witnesses if the case was posted before some other judge, Mr. Jethmalani said his counsel would take about 10 days. He opposed intervention by third parties in a criminal case for private purpose. Mr. Parasaran, apparently supporting Mr. Lalu Prasad, said the CBI would take about 40 days for examination of witnesses. Mr. Parasaran said intervention by third parties should not be permitted and it had been settled by this court in a 2006 judgment. However, Mr. Shanti Bhushan said if the court was not satisfied with the bona fides of the petitioner, he himself would file the intervention application in this case. He said the case had been going on for 16 years after filing of charge sheet. “There is an inference and public perception that politically-powerful persons could [go scot free] and their cases would not be heard for years. When the trial [is] about to conclude, what is the apprehension of bias,” he asked and opposed the shifting of the case to another judge. (The Hindu 6/8/13)

19. CBI investigation: Over 750 corruption cases pending (5)
New Delhi, Aug 7:  CBI registered over 2000 corruption cases in the last three years and 758 of them are pending investigation, the government said today. The agency registered a total of 2,283 cases of corruption between 2010 and till June 2013. Of these, 650 such cases were registered in 2010, followed by 600 in 2011 and 703 in last year. About 330 corruption cases were registered between January and June this year, Minister of State for Personnel, Public grievances and Pensions V Narayanasamy told Lok Sabha in a written reply. Of the total registered cases, charge sheets were filed in 1,317 and closure reports were filed in 208 others, he said. Out of the total of 758 cases under probe, 34 were registered in 2010, 88 in 2011, 348 in 2012 and 288 filed in the first six months of this year, the Minister said. The government was taking several steps which includes enactment of Right to Information Act, 2005, introduction of e-governance and simplification of procedures and systems, issue of citizen charters and placing details of immovable property returns of all members of All India Services (IAS, IPS and IFS) and other ‘Group A’ service officers (including IAAS, IPoS, ITS, etc), Narayanasamy said. (Business Line 7/8/13)

20. ‘Govt may bring Lokpal Bill in this session if Oppn permits’ (5)
New Delhi: Though the Monsoon Session of Parliament has witnessed disruptions and noisy scenes over Telangana, IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal’s suspension and Food Bill, the government is still confident that it would still be to introduce important bills, including the Lokpal Bill, in the ongoing session of the Parliament. “Lokpal Bill could be passed in the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament if the Opposition allows it, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh said in Panaji on Thursday. “If the Opposition allows Parliament to function, we can see the passage of the Lokpal law,” the Congress leaders said. The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister was in Panaji to attend a meeting of party office bearers. Digvijaya Singh said the Lokpal legislation was one of key promises made by the Congress during the 2009 Lok Sabha polls. He said Congress president Sonia Gandhi was personally piloting the Women’s Reservation Bill, but it was only up to the MPs to decide whether to pass it or not. (Zee News 9/8/13)

21. IIT-Patna director charged in Coalnet scam (5)
NEW DELHI: IIT-Patna director A K Bhowmick was served a chargesheet by IIT-Kharagpur last week for his involvement in the Coalnet scam. Bhowmick’s five-year term in IIT-Patna ends in May next year. R N Banerjee, professor of industrial engineering and management in IIT-Kharagpur has also been chargesheeted for the scam. This is the first time that the director of an IIT has been chargesheeted on the recommendations of CBI. P P Chakraborty, who was also named by the CBI, has since been appointed director of IIT-Kharagpur after the explanation offered by him was accepted by the HRD ministry and the Central Vigilance Commission. Sources in the HRD ministry said, “The chargesheet raises serious questions about the way Bhowmick was appointed as director of IIT-Patna without any vigilance clearance from the ministry’s vigilance wing.” In 2001, Coal India Ltd had awarded a contract to IIT-Kharagpur for implementation and training of a software called Coalnet. The award was for Rs 8.9 crore and the contract required IIT to maintain confidentiality of the data and not to outsource the job further. But the institute sub-contracted the job to a company run by an IIT-Kharagpur alumnus, TCG Software Pvt Ltd. It did exactly the same, again in violation of norms, with the second phase of the project which was worth Rs 18.8 crore. In its chargesheet to Bhowmick, IIT-Kharagpur said he as dean of Sponsored Research and Industrial Consultancy outsourced the work given to the institute by Coal India Limited despite the condition that “all documents received from CIL for study will be treated as confidential and not to be divulged to any third party” without the approval of CIL. Bhowmick is also charged with being in touch with TCG Software, the company to which the work was outsourced, even before CIL gave the work to IIT-Kharagpur. He is also accused of making back-to-back payments to TCG Software. Banerjee is accused of misrepresenting to CIL that the work was not outsourced and that IIT had only hired resources from TCG Software. The chargesheet says Banerjee was part of negotiations with TCG Software and later gave wrong information to CIL about cancellation of outsourced work. As for how Bhowmick got appointed as director, it has now emerged that then director of IIT-Kharagpur Damodar Acharya had informed the technical education bureau of the HRD ministry that there was no case pending against him. This was surprising since a few months earlier, Acharya had written to B Muthuraman, the then chairman of the board of governors, IIT-Kharagpur, seeking his approval to initiate departmental proceedings against Bhowmick. HRD’s technical education bureau took Acharya’s word as final and without consulting the ministry’s vigilance wing, sent his name to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet for approval. (Times of India 12/8/13)

22. Minorities panel wants monuments re-opened to namaz, ASI worried (7)
New Delhi: The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) wants the government to allow prayers in mosques which are currently protected historical monuments, and where no namaz has been offered in decades. Worried that this would trigger off a spate of such demands and inflame communal passions, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was initially reluctant. However, after the NCM raised the matter with the Culture Ministry, the ASI has been asked to carry out a survey of the upkeep of some 31 mosques in Delhi. The contention is that these protected monuments under the ASI are poorly maintained, and opening them up for religious use would incentivise the local community to conserve them better. However, sources said, there are serious security concerns given that the Union Cabinet affirmed in 1991, 1992 and as recently as at a 2009 meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security that revival of worship in protected monuments will not be permitted. Already, according to the ASI, there are nine mosques in Delhi where prayers are illegally offered. The rules, officials explained, are quite clear that prayers would continue only in those religious structures where these practices were already happening at the time when they were declared protected monuments. When this rule was frozen, there were three such mosques in Delhi — Palam Mosque, Neeli Masjid and Sunehri Masjid. Prayers are still allowed here. While there have been longstanding claims to make exceptions, the government has so far resisted this. “All we have asked is to carry out a study. We will only take a decision after that. It’s then that we will look at the concerns as well. The ASI survey will tell us whether these monuments are being maintained properly. Based on that, we can consider whether to involve local communities, who would want to participate if prayers are allowed there. The ASI can, of course, set the standards,” NCM Chairman Wajahat Habibulllah said. (Indian Express 6/8/13)

23. Minorities struggle for home (7)
Hyderabad: Religion-based discrimination continues to be a major issue in the Twin Cities, especially while renting or selling properties. Recently Abid Ali Mohammed, an NRI, complained of being discriminated against when he approached a few builders to purchase property. “I came to Hyderabad in  July end to purchase a flat for my parents who live with my sister in Nacharam. I approached five different builders in various locations in Nacharam but they openly refused to rent or sell flats after they heard my name. One builder, who even finalised the amount and was ready to sell a two-bedroom flat, flatly rejected once he realised that I was a minority. A sixth builder is ready to sell a flat but the price is beyond my budget,” said Mohammed. “The flat owners have strictly ordered brokers and security personnel at apartments not to show the properties to Muslims or bachelors. I am now going back disappointed. My parents are left with no choice but to live with my sister,” he said. Only areas like Musheerabad, Mehdipatnam, Toli Chowki, Masab Tank etc. are left where there are no such restrictions for minorities to purchase properties, said sources. Maria Francina who also faced the same situation said, “I approached a newly-built apartment at Lane no. 8 in Chilkalguda. The watchman asked me if I was a Brahmin and when I said no, he refused to even show me the flat as the owners had asked him to allow only Brahmins to view the property.” Few options for minorities moving out of the old city Minorities moving out of the old city or areas where the community is present in large numbers have no other choice but to purchase properties in areas where there are no self-made rules barring them. Often even Christians are denied flats for rent. Muslims are at the receiving end of this practice most of the time while many apartment owners only rent out houses to Brahmins. Monisha Sharma, a corporate employee said, “I have had Muslim tenants for 10 years. There has never been a problem with them. They are very decent. They keep the house neat and tidy and even undertake minor repairs without waiting for us to do them. I spent my childhood with many Muslim friends in Masab Tank and I even learnt to speak Urdu. There are good and bad people in all communities. Keeping away from people just because they are of a different religion makes no sense.” (Asian Age 7/8/13)

24. Despite Sachar, Muslims missing in central govt (7)
New Delhi: Seven years after the Sachar Committee report drew attention to the under-representation of Muslims in employment and education, figures tabled in the Lok Sabha show that minority groups are still under-represented in government jobs. More worrying still, their numbers are falling. In 2011-12, the five minority communities — Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Zoroastrians — accounted for only 6.24 per cent of the new recruits in government jobs, including ministries, public sector banks, Railways, paramilitary forces and public sector units, down from 10.18 per cent in 2010-11 and 7.28 per cent in 2009-10. Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Minority Affairs Ninong Ering conceded that the representation of minorities in public bodies and educational institutions is not proportionate to their population. According to the 2001 census, there are 13.81 crore Muslims, 2.40 crore Christians, 1.92 crore Sikhs, 79.55 lakh Buddhists and 69,000 Zoroastrians in India. Acting on the Sachar Committee’s recommendation, the government had attempted to carve out a 4.5 per cent sub-quota for minorities. But the move was challenged and the issue is now in court. (Indian Express 9/8/13)

25. One dead, 15 injured in Kishtwar communal riots (7)
Jammu: A 30-year-old man was killed, 15 people injured and many shops and vehicles gutted in Kishtwar town, 250 km from here, in clashes between two communities on Eid-ul-Fitr Friday. The army was out in the town and curfew imposed in the entire Kishtwar district to prevent the violence from spreading. The dead man has been identified as Arvind Kumar. He was shot by a group of protesters near a petrol pump in Kishtwar. “Curfew was imposed in the afternoon and the army asked to stage a flag march. The situation continues to be tense,” Jammu divisional commissioner Shantmanu told HT. Locals said the number of injured was much higher. The trouble started when one of the many groups heading towards the town’s main ground to offer Eid prayers started shouting anti-India slogans. Soon, pitched battles were being fought on the streets between the members of both the communities. They also set shops and vehicles on fire. Homes were attacked as well. Reports said criminal elements, who in the past, too, had fomented trouble, raised the slogans to communalise the situation. Locals have accused the administration of not acting on time, as the tension had been building up for more than a week when the two communities clashed during a kalash yatra. Two days ago, posters in support of Afzal Guru, who was hanged for his role in Parliament attack, surfaced in the town, making the situation worse. (Hindustan Times 9/8/13)

26. Add Dalit Christians to SC list, says Jayalalithaa (7)
CHENNAI: Making a plea to give parity to Dalit Christians with their Hindu counterparts, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa demanded deletion of the restrictive definition of Scheduled Castes in the Constitution (SCs) Order, 1950. “The matter cannot brook any further delay. Prompt steps should be taken to bring in necessary legislation in the current session of Parliament,” she wrote to the Prime Minister on Friday. Denial of affirmative action programmes to Dalit Christians is an injustice that has aggravated the sense of alienation among minority communities, she said and urged the PM to delete this ‘restrictive definition’ from the statute to bring all Dalits on equal platform irrespective of their faith. This would pave the way for Dalit Christians to avail benefits on par with SCs in Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism. Para 3 of the Constitution (SCs) Order, 1950—the Presidential Order—says “no person who professes a religion different from Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste) Putting forth strong legal arguments, Jayalalithaa said the Constitution (SCs) Ord­er, 1950, derives its sanction from Article 341 of the Constitution, but the Constitution does not confine SCs to any select religion. “By extending the benefits of positive affirmation to a certain category of persons and then to proceed to confine the benefits under the Constitution Order, 1950, to citizens professing only specified religions like Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism and excl­uding from its purview citizens professing other religions, is not only ultra vires Article 341 but also militates against the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution to liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship to all its citizens”, the Chief Minister observed. (New Indian Express 10/8/13)

27. Pope asks Muslims, Christians to promote respect (7)
VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis has expressed hope that Muslims can work together with Christians to promote mutual respect. The pope spoke from his studio window overlooking St Peter’s Square during his traditional Sunday appearance. He said that “our brothers” the Muslims had just concluded their holy month of Ramadan, dedicated to fasting, prayer and alms-giving. Tens of thousands of Romans and tourists turned out in the square in blistering heat for the papal appearance and blessing. Francis has decided to spend summer at the Vatican instead of at the customary papal villa in Castel Gandolfo, a hill town southeast of Rome where the weather is usually cooler, especially on summer evenings. (Times of India 11/8/13)

28. Five Lashkar militants killed in Kupwara operation: Army (12)
Srinagar, August 1 : Five Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) guerrillas have been killed in Kupwara district in north Kashmir in an operation launched there Monday, an army official said. “Five terrorists of LeT outfit have been killed till today (Thursday) in Hafruda forests of Kupwara district by Kilo Force (of counter-insurgency Rashtriya Rifles) during an operation that was launched on July 29,” the city-based Chinar Corps’ commander Lt.Gen. Gurmeet Singh told reporters. “Five AK-47 rifles and other warlike stores have been recovered from the encounter site,” he said. “A few soldiers were also injured in the operation, but all of them are stable”.Lt.Gen. Singh said that the group of slain guerrillas had been part of a group of infiltrators group that had managed to reach the forest area in the hinterland. He said that with the killings of five LeT guerrillas, the total number of guerrillas killed by the army since Monday in the Valley had risen to 10. “Four infiltrating terrorists were killed in Machil sector Tuesday while another terrorist was killed in Keran sector Monday,” he said. (New Kerala 1/8/13)

29. India mission blast clouds Pak talks (12)
New Delhi, Aug. 3: Suicide attackers today detonated a car bomb outside the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, killing at least nine Afghans, injuring 21 and hurting fresh attempts to revive India-Pakistan talks. All the Indians in the consulate are safe, the foreign ministry said here. The dead include eight children, who had just finished praying at a nearby mosque which the blast ripped through. The three suicide bombers were also killed. Reports said two of the attackers jumped out of the Toyota sedan after it was stopped at a concrete barrier outside the consulate and fired from assault rifles down a bustling street. As the consulate’s Afghan guards prepared to shoot at them, the driver detonated the explosives. Indian intelligence agencies had two weeks ago picked up intercepts suggesting terrorists backed by Pakistani spy agency ISI were targeting India’s installations in Afghanistan, officials said. An expert team was sent recently to review security at the embassy, consulates and key projects involving Indian firms. Islamabad has frequently accused New Delhi of using its Jalalabad mission to foment rebel movements in Baluchistan, just across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The attack comes close on the heels of overtures to India from Pakistan’s new government. Islamabad has proposed a clutch of dates to begin secretary-level talks on water disputes to restart the dialogue, stalled since Pakistani troops beheaded an Indian soldier in January. India has responded cautiously. It has welcomed Pakistan’s gesture and reiterated its commitment to talks but also pointed to earlier terror attacks by groups harboured in Pakistan as evidence of past “betrayal”. Today’s incident, officials here said, was the latest in that trend. Ahead of the end-2014 withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan, the attack is also likely to reinforce Indian fears that Pakistan is trying to diminish New Delhi’s presence in the strategically critical nation. Since 2001, Afghanistan has often felt the crosscurrents of the India-Pakistan rivalry. The government of President Hamid Karzai, who studied in India, enjoys warm relations with New Delhi; Pakistan is widely seen as supporting the Taliban in part to ensure that it ends up with a pliable Afghan government that is not too close to India. “This attack has once again highlighted that the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability comes from… the terror machine that continues to operate from beyond its borders,” the Indian foreign ministry said. Attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008 and 2009, which New Delhi blames on the Pakistan-backed Haqqani network and the Taliban, claimed a combined toll of 75 lives. Afghan, Indian and US intelligence had all concluded that ISI-backed militants were responsible. The Taliban have denied responsibility for today’s bombing, and no other group has so far owned up. India’s embassy in Kabul and four consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Herat and Mazhar-e-Sharif have a two-tier security ring each. Afghan guards stand at the concrete barriers on the outer perimeter while the Indo-Tibetan Border Police mans the complex inside the gates. (The Telegraph 4/8/13)

30. Terror attacks in J&K increased after Guru’s hanging: Govt (12)
NEW DELHI: Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging has led to an increase in militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir, the government told Parliament on Tuesday. “The reason for increase in terror attacks is due to stepping up of the attack on security forces planned by the militant groups in the aftermath of Afzal Guru’s execution in February 2013,” minister of state for home RPN Singh told Lok Sabha in a written reply. Giving statistics, Singh said that in 2012, there were 50 incidents of encounters between terrorists and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir in which 15 security personnel were killed and 65 were injured. In 2013 (up to July 28), there were 16 incidents of encounters in which 35 security personnel were killed 29 were injured. However, the casualties were not merely the result of the belligerence of militants; there were also security lapses. “In most of the cases of casualties, the laxity and non-adherence to standard operating procedures by security forces have also been evident,” Singh said. The figures show that in just seven months of this year, casualty on the side of security forces had more than doubled. Sources said this was also due to an increased thrust from Pakistan on infiltration across the border which grew by close to 80% this year. Intelligence agencies had speculated that there would be increased militant activity largely at the behest of terror groups based in Pakistan to cash in on the surcharged sentiments in the Valley over Guru’s hanging. The security establishment, however, was hopeful that local participation in these attacks would be minimal as the Kashmiri youth had moved on from the heady days of the ’90s and, though still angry, wanted to now reap the fruits of India’s growing economy. Recent developments, like the killing of five soldiers on the LoC, have only buttressed this point. “There has been an increased concentration of militants on the border this year and Pakistan is aggressively pushing militants to disrupt peace in the Valley,” said an officer from the security establishment. Terror outfits such as LeT and Hizbul Mujahideen had openly threatened to avenge the hanging of Guru by launching attacks in the Valley. (Times of India 7/8/13)

31. Al Qaeda down but not out: UN report (12)
New York: Osama bin Laden’s successor as the leader of al Qaeda has struggled to unite its various factions, a UN report has said, but the group remains an evolving threat. The report, delivered to the UN Security Council by a group of experts, on Wednesday, said al Qaeda’s Egyptian leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri had failed to rebuild the group’s core leadership in Pakistan. But it said various groups affiliated with al Qaeda are still adapting their tactics and seeking new targets, while retaining the ability to conduct deadly strikes. And, while the French-led military operation in Mali and an African Union campaign in Somalia have pushed back al Qaeda militants, the Syrian civil war has seen hundreds of foreign volunteers join the cause there. “Al Qaeda and its affiliates are more diverse and differentiated than before, united only by a loose ideology and a commitment to terrorist violence,” the report said. “A fragmented and weakened al Qaeda has not been extinguished,” it said, adding: “the reality of al Qaeda’s diminished capabilities and limited appeal does not mean that the threat of al Qaeda attacks has passed”.”Individuals and cells associated with al Qaeda and its affiliates continue to innovate with regard to targets, tactics and technology.” The UN report tallies with claims made by US officials, including President Barack Obama, that so-called “core al Qaeda” has been weakened since bin Laden’s death in May 2011, while its regional wings continue to fight. But it also flies in the face of reports yesterday that a security alert declared for US missions in the Middle East was triggered when Zawahiri contacted al Qaeda’s regional commanders and ordered an attack. (Zee News 8/8/13)

32. Dreaded Northeast militant leader surrenders (12)
Agartala: One of the last remaining fugitive militant leaders of the northeast who had unleashed a reign of terror in Tripura, surrendered to police on Friday night. The dreaded insurgent leader and supremo of a faction of the banned National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT), Nayanbasi Jamatiya, surrendered without any arms, the police said today. The “most wanted” insurgent leader who was carrying a cash award of Rs. 1 lakh over his head surprised police by calmly walking into the office of sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) of Teliamura in Khowai district along with a few of his relatives at about 10 PM last night and surrendered before SDPO Chandan Saha. He is being interrogated by top police officials of the district. Jamatiya had also surrendered earlier in 1993, but later fled to Bangladesh and formed a faction of NLFT by recruiting tribal youths from Tripura. However, he was arrested by Bangladesh police and put behind bar. The police said from preliminary interrogation it was known that he entered into the India from Bangladesh through Malda border in West Bengal on Monday and reached Teliamura by train yesterday. He went to his house at Trishabari in the subdivision and later surrendered to the SDPO of Teliamura. He was visibly sick and frustrated, the police said, adding it was unclear how he escaped from Bangladeshi jail and could enter India. (Hindustan Times 10/8/13)

33. US-based Hindu group donates tents to Pak refugees (13)
New York: A US-based Hindu community organisation has donated tents as part of relief efforts for Pakistani Hindu refugees who are camping at Jodhpur in Rajasthan after fleeing persecution in Pakistan. Hindu Maha Sabha of America (HMSA) donated a total of six tents providing accommodation to eight out of 33 families residing in the camp. Along with HMSA, two other American Hindu organisations have also pitched in to offer assistance. The donation was coordinated with help from Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal leaders in Jodhpur. Hundreds of families arrived recently from Sindh Province of Pakistan as the exodus of Pakistani Hindus has exponentially increased in past two years in the face of rising human rights violations against the minority community. Several Hindu groups are uniting to help Pakistani Hindu refugees in India and along with relief efforts, they are also creating awareness of the grave human rights abuses in Pakistan, the HMSA said in a press release. The rising number of refugees desperately need help in terms of groceries, tents, water filters, cooking items and medical assistance, the release said. (Zee News 3/8/13)

34. Families flee to ‘enter’ India (13)
Agartala, Aug. 4: More than 10,000 people have gathered near the 15 border gates on the 56km stretch from Chhawmanu in Dhalai district to Chilacherri in South Tripura district since last evening to escape the atrocities by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat supporters. The BNP and Jamaat supporters have set fire to border villages to drive out the Buddhist Chakmas, Mogs and Hindu Bengalis from Khagaracherri and Rangamati districts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts after BNP Battoli ward secretary in Khagracherri district, Kamaluddin, and BNP leader at Taid-ong in Matiranga subdistrict, Mokhlechhur Rahaman, were abducted by tribal-dominated United Democratic Peoples Front activists. Following this, around 10,000 people rushed to the border gates yesterday to escape the attacks. BSF deputy inspector-general, B.S. Rawat, however, said no gate was opened, as the Centre’s permission was needed to let in “foreign nationals” through the border gates. “We are contacting the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) to discuss and sort out the issue. We expect a flag meeting today,” Rawat said. Tripura chief secretary S.K. Panda reiterated that the families from Bangladesh had rushed to the border gates yesterday but they were not allowed in. “I have instructed the BSF to take up the issue with the BGB to defuse the situation,” he said. Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar said he has informed Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde of the situation and he was waiting for a response. People are trying to help the refugees with food and water across the border fence. The president of Asian Centre of Human Rights (ACHR), Suhas Chakma, has appealed to India to provide shelter to these refugees on “humanitarian ground”. But a senior official of the special branch (intelligence wing) of state police, Rajiv Kumar Chakma, said allowing these refugees even on humanitarian ground was “fraught with risks”. (The Telegraph 5/8/13)

35. Tibetan refugee self-immolates, dies in Kathmandu (13)
Kathmandu: A Tibetan refugee died after setting himself on fire in Kathmandu on Tuesday morning. Police say the unidentified man set himself on fire at 7:45 am within premises of Bouddhanath Stupa, a sacred Buddhist site where many Tibetan refugees reside. Residents and police personnel managed to douse the flames and rushed him to Tribhuwan University Teaching Hospital where he was declared dead. Reports quoting police officials say that the victim was mentally unstable and the death might not have any connection to self-immolation deaths by Tibetans in their homeland and outside. This is the second case of self-immolation by Tibetan refugees in Nepal this year. In February another Tibetan refugee had died after setting himself on fire in the same area. It is worth mentioning that to prevent any such incident and put a check on anti-China activities by Tibetan refugees Nepal Police had installed 35 CCTV cameras around the shrine last month. Nepal follows a ‘One-China’ policy and in recent years it has imposed a clampdown on the nearly 20,000 Tibetan refugees who live here following pressure from Beijing. (Hindustan Times 6/8/13)

36. UN concerned over record arrival of refugees to Yemen (13)
New York, Aug 7 : A record number of refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen during the first half of this year, the United Nations reported Tuesday, while also warning that it is increasingly dangerous for people to make the trip by boat from the Horn of Africa, and once in the country, they face many challenges such as sexual abuse and exploitation. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) said that during the first six months of 2013, more then 46,000 refugees and migrants arrived in Yemen, a country that has received close to half a million refugees since 2006. “UNHCR staff and our partners, such as the Yemeni Red Crescent and the Danish Refugee Council, work daily to record new arrivals and offer them support,” UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming told reporters in Geneva. “That help takes many forms, including food and water, first aid and transportation to transit and reception centres, hot meals, welcome packages including blankets and clothing, accommodation and counselling.” Fleming said UNHCR had witnessed a significant change in the refugee and migrant population arriving in Yemen over the past two years, with more arrivals from Ethiopia. Previously, Somali refugees made up between one-third and one-quarter of total arrivals. Other arrivals come from Djibouti and Sudan, she said. “Refugees and migrants are vulnerable to exploitation, violence and sexual abuse at all stages of their journeys,” Fleming said. “Boats crossing the Arabian Sea or Red Sea to Yemen are often overcrowded. Smugglers may force passengers into the water to avoid detection. Smugglers and traffickers often wait on the coast to receive the new arrivals.” The Government of Yemen automatically recognizes Somali arrivals as refugees, while UNHCR determines the refugee status of Ethiopians and other nationals. Fleming said few Ethiopians seek asylum as many want to travel beyond Yemen or do not know how the asylum process works. “As a result, most Ethiopians are left extremely vulnerable,” she said. Fleming said there have been positive developments, as the number of dead or missing refugees and migrants has dropped significantly – to five people so far this year from 43 in all of 2012. Yemeni authorities have also had some success in locating smugglers’ and traffickers’ bases and cracking down on their operations. “We are also engaged with the Yemeni Government and national and international partners. Together we are working to enhance services offered to refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants as well as find sustainable solutions,” she added. (New Kerala 7/8/13)

37. Barack Obama announces more humanitarian aid for Syria (13)
Washington: US President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced an additional USD 195 million in humanitarian assistance to those affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria. The announcement came on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, the religious day celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting. The new US aid covers food and medical supplies in Syria as well as food vouchers and ready-to-eat meals for some 245,000 refugees sheltered in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, said the US State Department said in a statement on Wednesday. The latest amount of aid brought the US humanitarian aid to Syria to more than USD 1 billion since the country plunged into conflict in March 2011. Obama authorised direct supply of light arms and ammunition to the Syrian rebels in June, as his administration has sought to oust President Bashar al-Assad. (Zee News 8/8/13)

38. PoK refugees hope their turmoil will end soon (13)
Jammu,: The ruling National Conference party in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month said that it was in favour of a board of welfare to be set up in the interests of refugees from Pakistan-occupied -Kashmir (PoK). Reading this news in a small room of his dilapidated house, Sham Lal Sharma, an octogenarian PoK refugee, laughs in ridicule. “Our problems will never ever find a place in the election manifestos of political parties of our state.” Sharma, a resident of ‘Bhour Camp’, — a locality in the periphery of Jammu town in the northernmost Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir — has been reading such news for years and has dismal hopes of anything positive happening now. He was in his teens when his family fled his native village in Pallandri town (now in PoK) in 1947 following the ‘tribal’ invasion of Jammu and Kashmir, leaving behind everything they had inherited. Narrating the heart-wrenching tales of mass exodus and massacres, Sharma recalls how his family, along with scores of other families, was pushed into a large building by tribal militia in the wee hours of October 24, 1947, after which the building was set on fire. Barring a few, all those trapped inside were burnt alive. Sharma’s family escaped death and had managed to reach Jammu but, he says, only to live a life fraught with afflictions. This is not an isolated case of its kind but the saga of forty one thousand families who fled their homes when tribals raided Muzafarabad, Mirpur and Poonch areas of erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir on 22 October 1947. The number of those displaced has shot up manifold over the past sixty five years and has reached more than 1.25 million. Nearly five lakh people are ghettoized in thirty nine camps in and around Jammu, while others are settled in Kathua, Udhampur, RS Pura and Poonch areas of Jammu in dismal living conditions, with State apathy towards their plights becoming an accepted reality. Of the forty one thousand families that migrated in the wake of tribal invasion, nine thousand are not registered with the government and have not been provided any reprieve as the registration was made on the grounds that appear grossly unfair to these displaced people. “Only those families were registered who had migrated along with the heads of families and had a monthly income not more than Rs 300. If the head of your family had died or was killed by tribal mercenaries, or your monthly earnings was more than Rs 300, you could not register your family,” says Sham Lal Sharma. Most of the POK refugees settled in rural areas are living off the land as agriculture is the mainstay of their economy, but they are forced to live a hand to mouth existence because of insufficient land….  (New Kerala 10/8/13)

39. Delhi HC dismisses PIL on Food Security Ordinance (19)

Delhi High Court Wednesday dismissed a PIL seeking the quashing of the National Food Security Ordinance on the grounds that it was the UPA government’s politically inspired pre-election propaganda camouflaged as a scheme to feed the poor. A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmad and Justice Vibhu Bakhru dismissed the plea and said: “We refrain from entertaining the petition.” “There is no material to test that the centre brought the ordinance under special circumstances or ordinary circumstances,” the bench said. The petitioner had earlier approached Supreme Court, which had asked him to file the plea in high court. Petitioner M.L. Sharma, an advocate, moved the high court describing the government’s move as “malafide” as the ordinance would be misused by the ruling party for its pre-election propaganda and political considerations. Describing the promulgation of the ordinance as “unconstitutional”, the PIL said: “Can a bill that had been introduced in parliament but not even debated for the fear of its being defeated on the floor of parliament be made into law by taking the ordinance route.” President Pranab Mukherjee July 5 signed the ordinance on food security to give two-thirds of the nation’s population the right to get five kg of food grains every month at highly subsidised rates of Rs.1-3 per kg. “There were no emergency circumstances to issue the impugned ordinance. Hence, it does not comply with the terms of Article 123. Therefore, the impugned notification is unconstitutional and is liable to be declared unconstitutional and void,” PIL said. The bill to enact the food security law was introduced in parliament in the first week of May but it was not pushed as the government did not expect it to be passed, the petition contended. (New Indian Express 7/8/13)

40. India finally enacts a modern company law (19)
New Delhi: The Parliament on Thursday cleared the long-awaited Companies Bill 2012, with the Rajya Sabha passing sweeping measures to replace a 57-year-old predecessor. The new law will empower small shareholders, smoothen corporate governance and compell large companies to spend more on social welfare under the broad head of corporate social responsibility (CSR). The Bill imposes checks and balances to prevent frauds, make corporate board room decisions transparent and hold auditors and directors more accountable. Replying to a debate before the bill was passed by a voice vote, corporate affairs minister Sachin Pilot said the new legislation will bring India’s corporate governance framework in line with the changing business environment of the 21st century. “For the next two or three decades, this (new legislation) will bring positivity in the economy,” Pilot said, adding that the views of all stakeholders, including industry chambers, have been taken into consideration. The legislation, which has been in the works for several years and was passed by the Lok Sabha in December last year, will allow the creation of special courts for speedy trials — an assurance to investors that cases will not linger. “The Bill passage will give impetus to the growth momentum,” Pilot said. “The focus of the bill is to enhance transparency and ensure fewer regulations, self reporting and disclosure…It will outline the positivity in the economy”.At least a third of a company’s board should comprise of independent directors and at least one of the board members should be a woman, according to the new law. All companies will have to move to a uniform financial year ending March 31. Only companies, which are holding or subsidiary arms of a foreign entity requiring consolidation outside India, can have a different financial year with the approval of Tribunal. It will allow shareholders’ associations to take legal action against companies’ promoters and management through ‘Class Action Suits’ — a form of lawsuit where a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court. This acts as a deterrent to carry out a fraud by tailoring and influencing board decisions only to suit promoter and management interests. It also makes it mandatory for firms to rotate auditors within a stipulated time-frame — a practice which public sector enterprises and banks currently adopt. Besides, the Bill also contains provisions defining rules for inter-corporate loans and norms for creation of a web of step-down sister companies or subsidiaries. The proposed legislation, which will replace the 57-year old Companies Act 1956, will empower the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), an agency mandated to investigate corporate scams, with a statutory status armed with the authority to impose punitive measures and in specific instances, even arrest persons found guilty of corporate crimes. “Now that the law is ready, it is time to focus and work on the practical aspects of complying with its provisions. One such vital provision is surely the clause dealing with CSR spend,” said Chandrajit Banerjee, director-general of CII. (Hindustan Times 8/8/13)

41. Cabinet defers judicial appointment bill (19)
NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Thursday deferred the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill which proposes to change the current collegium system of judges appointing judges by a commission which will have representation from the executive and non-judicial members. The bill was not taken up as the law minister was absent and may be on the agenda of the Cabinet’s next meeting. Despite the fact that the higher judiciary, led by the chief justice of India, has opposed any changes in the collegium system, the government is serious about bringing in a constitutional amendment and has mobilized support from other parties, including main opposition BJP. The government has introduced a new clause in the JAC Bill that will empower the law ministry to prepare a list of names of judges for the commission to consider after inviting suggestions from other forums besides high courts and the Supreme Court. A list will be collated by the secretariat of the proposed JAC, the convenor of which will be the law secretary. At present, high courts recommend names of judges to be appointed and the SC collegium of five senior-most judges, headed by the CJI, vets these names and select candidates. Similarly, the collegium decides who should be elevated to the apex court from HCs. Though the collegium sends these final names to the government for background check and appointment, its selection is final and binding. The proposed JAC will be headed by the CJI and will comprise two senior-most judges of the apex court, the law minister and two eminent personalities to be selected by a committee consisting of the prime minister, the leader of opposition and the CJI. (Times of India 9/8/13)

42. Son can’t refuse to help ‘uncaring’ father: Mumbai court (19)
Mumbai: “The son cannot refuse to maintain his father even if the latter had failed to provide for him in the past,” the family court ruled on Thursday while asking a 30-year-old police constable to pay maintenance to his 57-year-old father. The petition filed by the father states that he was working in a private firm and took voluntarily retirement, after which he started working at a sports club. The petitioner alleged his father (constable’s grandfather) had made his son (constable) a nominee for his flat. After the death of his father in October 2002, the constable got the flat transferred in his name and forced the petitioner to leave the house. The petitioner approached the family court in August 2011 seeking Rs10,000 monthly maintenance from his son pleading that he is old, sick and unable to maintain himself. The petitioner’s wife and daughter, who stay with the cop,  stated the petitioner was addicted to alcohol and used to disturb the family. They also said the petitioner never paid maintenance for his family when he was working. They alleged he is gainfully employed and does not require maintenance. The court observed: “There is ample evidence on record that the petitioner has not maintained his family when he was earning. He has neglected his wife and minor children. It also appears the petitioner has not maintained his mother. The petitioner has failed in his duties as a father and a husband.” But, the court, while granting the maintenance, said: “The question is whether nonperformance of his duties would disentitle him from claiming maintenance from his son. To my mind, a son’s responsibility to maintain his father will not be absolved.” (Hindustan Times 9/8/13)

43. Dalit Muslims want benefit of reservation (25)
LUCKNOW: An association of dalit muslims will be observing August 10 as Black Day to protest against para (3) of Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 which was promulgated on 10 th August 1950 by government of India. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of different NGOs working for the upliftment of pasmanda muslims here on Thursday. Rehan Ansari, general secretary of the association for muslim dalits, stated that c tizens have been called upon to wear black bands and black badges to register their protest against the continuing discrimination faced by Muslim and Christian dalits since 10 th August 1950 in the matter of reservation in educational institutions, government jobs and election to parliament, legislative assemblies and Panchayati Raj system and so on. “It is worth nothing that the reservation facility has been made admissible to only Hindu, Sikh and Neo Buddhist Scheduled Castes which excludes Muslim and Christian dalits. This is a fact that Muslim and Christian Dalits such as Dhobis, Nuts and sweepers etc exist among Muslims and Christians also. T his questionable para (3) is based on communal considerations as it encourages Muslim and Christian Dalits to convert to Hinduism, while it restrains Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist Dalits from converting to Islam and Christianity,” he stated. Ansari further added, “Para 3 entails that if a Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist dalits converts to Islam and Christianity, his / her reservation facility would be stopped. But if a Muslim and Christian dalit converts to Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist faith, such a person would immediately become eligible for the reservation. This is a gross violation of Article 14, 15, 16, 21 and 25 of Indian Constitution and the Preamble of Indian Constitution which declares the country as a secular state.” The organizations also called upon the voters to support only such candidates in elections who were willing to openly stand up for the abolition of religious discrimination perpetrated under para 3 of the above Order against Muslim and Christian dalit. In the eventuality of eid falling on 10 August, Black Day should be observed on 11 August. It has been also decided to stage a protest dharna on 11 of August at statue of Mahatma Ghandhi in Lucknow at 11am. (Times of India 8/8/13)

44. “Scheduled Castes of all religions should enjoy benefits” (25)
Chennai: Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Friday urged prime minister Manmohan Singh to bring in necessary laws to include all scheduled castes (SC), regardless of their religion, under the constitution (Scheduled Castes) order, 1950. In a letter to Manmohan Singh, the text of which was released to the media here, Jayalalithaa said, “The social tensions over the unbalanced growth between the Hindu Scheduled Castes and the Christian converts have only aggravated over time, and the sense of alienation amongst the minority communities has further deepened.” She said the matter cannot be delayed further and SC Christians should be treated on par with Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists, and should be included in the list of Scheduled Castes annexed to the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950. “To enable this, as recommended by the Ranganath Misra Commission, para 3 of the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950, must be deleted,” she said. She said necessary legislation should be brought during the current session of parliament. “The position of scheduled castes persons belonging to the minority religions is very similar to Scheduled Castes persons professing Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism. Yet, they are being unfairly kept out of the purview of the constitutional scheme of protection and reservation envisaged by the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, 1950,” Jayalalithaa said. According to her, a sizeable population of SC christians has been “excluded and remains outside the purview of all the centrally assisted welfare and ameliorative measures and, most importantly, is excluded from the benefit of reservation in educational institutions and employment in public services for the Scheduled Castes.” (Hindustan Times 9/8/13)

45. Opposition parties demand steps against SC order on reservation (25)
New Delhi: Opposition parties on Sunday demanded corrective steps against a recent judgement of Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court against reservation for SC/ST/OBC in medical and other technical institutes. JD(U) president Sharad Yadav, BJP MP Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav, CPI leader D Raja and P K Patsani from BJD vowed their support to the issue and slammed the government for its approach towards the issue of reservation. Rajnarayan, convener of the Janhit Abhiyan, the group which organised the event, said leaders have assured to raise the issue in a major way in Parliament in the Monsoon session. The five-judge constitution bench headed by former Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir had pronounced its verdict on July 18 on the plea by the Faculty Association of AIIMS that there can be no reservation in appointment for faculty posts in speciality and super speciality courses in medical colleges including AIIMS. Yadav said Kabir had given the judgement a few days before he was retiring. He said political parties were concerned that it had virtually become a practice by the judiciary to give such sensitive judgements in a hurry without hearing all parties properly. “These anti-reservation judgements are often delivered during sensitive times,” he said. Yadav said all political parties should come together to oppose the judgement. Raja (CPI) favoured a Constitutional amendment to settle the issue of reservation once and for all, saying it should be put in the ninth schedule of the Constitution. P K Patsani also favoured the idea of Constitutional amendment and noted that such judgements by courts can lead to social disturbance in the society, Rajnarayan said. BJP leader Hukumdev Naryan Yadav hit out at the Congress-led government saying its intention was not good on the issue of reservation. “They (Government) are interested in complicating the issue more than solving it and that is why such judgements come,” he said. (Zee News 11/8/13)

46. State stumped by gaping holes in OBC population data (25)
KOZHIKODE: A state government initiative to conduct a comprehensive survey of the educational and socio-economic status of all communities except forward communities and SC\ST communities, proposed in 2009, still remains on paper. It is alleged that many communities listed under the Other Backward Community (OBC) category claim more reservation benefits than what is proportionate to their population. But the actual demographics of these communities, which constitute around 70 per cent of the state’s population, is yet unclear. The lack of clarity in population data is affecting the implementation of various welfare programmes for around 80 Backward Communities in the state, despite the constitution of a department for their welfare. “How is it possible to devise new programmes and schemes for the welfare of the targeted group without any idea regarding their actual population? We have taken up the matter with the state government. A detailed survey of the socio-economic background of OBCs is the need of the hour to remove the anomalies existing in the reservation system,” said V R Joshy, Director, the Backward Communities Development Department.  It was in 2009 that the SC/ST Development Department issued an order to conduct a survey to find out the socio-economic status of the OBCs, after reaching a conclusion that a second look was required on their reservation status. According to officials, though Rs 10 crore was earmarked for carrying out the survey, it did not materialise. Later, a survey based on the religion of backward communities, monitored by the Rural Development Commissioner, under the aegis of the Census and Revenue Departments, was proposed. It was to be completed by 2012 December, but is still in the initial stages. Out of the 40 per cent reservation for OBCs, 14 per cent goes to the Ezhava, Thiyya and Billava communities, 12 for Muslims and only three per cent is allowed to  remaining communities such as Viswakarma, Dheevara, Nadar and Latin Catholics. For many, this reservation quota is inadequate since it is not proportionate to their population. Akhila Kerala Viswakarma Mahasabha General Secretary M V Rajagopalan claimed that the Viswakarmas cover 13.5 per cent of the state’s total population and therefore should get seven per cent reservation against the existing three per cent. He added that though the government had constituted the Dr P N Sankaran Commission in November 2012 to look into the issues of Viswakarma communities, it also faces hardships owing to the vagueness in population figures. Sources with the department maintained that the Mandal Commission Report of 1980 is considered as the base for many of decisions regarding reservations. (New Indian Express 12/8/13)

Posted by admin at 8 August 2013

Category: Uncategorized

1. Petition seeks removal of Balakrishnan as NHRC chief (1)
NEW DELHI: Non-government organisation ‘Common Cause’ on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Union government to initiate steps for the removal of Justice K.G. Balakrishnan as chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as per Section 5(2) of the Protection of Human Rights Act for alleged acts of grave misbehaviour. The petition, filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, said ‘Common Cause’ and Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms had made representations to the Prime Minister and the President on April 4, 2011, along with detailed evidence against Justice Balakrishnan of alleged amassment of benami property and disproportionate assets in the names of his relatives and associates, and several acts of misconduct. As no action was taken, ‘Common Cause’ filed a writ petition, and this court, on May 10, 2012, passed an order, which said, “We are satisfied that the instant writ petition deserves to be disposed of by requesting the competent authority to take a decision on the communication dated April 4, 2011. If the allegations, in the aforesaid determination, are found to be unworthy of any further action, the petitioner shall be informed accordingly. Alternatively, the President, based on the advice of the Council of Ministers, may proceed with the matter in accordance with the mandate of Section 5(2) of the 1993 Act.” In the present petition, ‘Common Cause’ said this direction was not complied with by the government. In its communication dated January 29, 2013, the government decided not to proceed with the mandate of Section 5 (2) of 1993 Act by using a spurious and illegal argument that the allegations pertained to the period before Justice Balakrishnan became the chairperson of the NHRC. It said the government did not respond to the petitioner’s representation dated April 14, 2013 against the said communication. The petitioner contended that it was not necessary that allegations of misconduct for the removal of a person occupying important public posts must relate to his tenure in that position. (The Hindu 3/8/13)

2. Shabnam Hashmi challenges Gujarat’s claim of being a model State (1)
CHENNAI,: Human rights activist Shabnam Hashmi has called for close scrutiny of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s claims, that his State is a ‘model for development’, in the run-up to the 2014 general elections. Speaking at a seminar here on Saturday, Ms. Hashmi said ground realities were far from the rosy picture Mr. Modi and his PR teams had been presenting over the past year, in a bid to project him as a Prime Ministerial candidate. Ms. Hashmi challenged the numbers presented in Mr. Modi’s campaigns and said key socio-economic indicators such as FDI, per capita income, growth rate of gross state domestic product (GSDP), literacy rate, infant mortality rate and maternal mortality had shown Gujarat faring much worse than other States in the country. Recalling the Supreme Court’s recent dismissal of the Gujarat government’s petition to stall the appointment of Justice R.A Mehta as the State’s Lokayukta, Ms. Hashmi said the government had already been exposed as corrupt by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report, tabled in the Gujarat Assembly on March 31 this year. The CAG report had said financial irregularities, especially mismanagement of public sector undertakings, had resulted in losses to the tune of Rs.16,000 crores. She said the Modi government’s attempt to stall the appointment of the Governor-designated Lokayuktha was further proof that it had more corruption to hide. Ms. Hashmi, who runs the non-government organisation ‘Act Now for Harmony and Democracy’, said the RSS asked human rights activists why they continued to emphasize on the Gujarat riots of 2002, especially since the BJP was not in power, when riots had taken place in others states too. “The most startling aspect of the Gujarat riots was the connivance of the whole system, the political participation in it and the brutality of it,” Ms. Hashmi said. “I personally documented several cases of gang rapes that went unreported because of various reasons. The patterns in which it was executed, in various places, was just too much to take.” Ms. Hashmi also lamented the romanticism of the right wing ideologies, especially prevalent among the upwardly mobile middle class, as seen in social networks. (The Hindu 4/8/13)

3. ‘Ready to work on human-rights violations in state’ (1)
Jalandhar: Back from Geneva after attending the five days workshop from Geneva, organized by United Nations, Abhitej Singh Sandhu (24) is ready to apply the teachings learnt practically in state by starting a project on human rights violations. Abhitej, who is the grand nephew of Shaheed-e-azam Bhagat Singh, was the Indian representation in the conference, held from July 22 to July 26, with 16 others across the world. The event titled as, ‘So, You Want To Be The Next High Commissioner’ was focused on empowering and training youth on the working of United Nations in the field of Human Rights all across the world. “It was 3rd of its kind workshop which was organized by WFUNA (World Federation of United Nations Associations) targeting youth and in it, we were apprised with the functioning of United Nations, its different bodies on human rights and the projects being run by them in different parts of the world,” said Sandhu. Speaking on its selection for this workshop, Sandhu recalled, “It was an almost 15-days grilling process in which we were tested and accessed on the basics of their social activities. I was among the eight finalists and, luckily, got a chance as I had worked for society in my past. My work with Arvind Kejriwal at New Delhi and in Punjab with my father, who is a politician, paid me.” “It was a very informative conference which helped me understand the UN mechanism and the functioning of different Human Rights bodies of the United Nations,” he says adding that, “every participant was directed by the WFUNA to do follow-up projects on Human rights in their respective countries and we will soon be organizing projects in corporations with the IFUNA (Indian Federations of United Nations) and our NGO S. Kulbir Singh Memorial Foundation by the end of this year for protecting Human rights all in Punjab as well as across the country.” “The person attended the workshop from Norway was bit worried to find violations of human rights in her country, I invited her come to India to see plethora of violations,” he said adding that, “right from Airport, you will start witnessing violations.” Abhitej Singh Sandhu has completed his B.Com and is aiming to start an MBA. “Now, my aim is to curb human-right violations in my state as much as I can,” he said. (Hindustan Times 5/8/13)

4. Lack of proper roads is grave violation of human rights (1)
NAGPUR: With the advent of rainy season, roads across Maharashtra disappear among the potholes, inviting mishaps and endangering lives. NGO Sahyog Trust has filed separate cases in seven cities of the state through their activists, contending that the government’s failure to maintain proper roads is a grave violation of human rights. The courts in Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Sangli, Akola, Latur and Jalgaon have issued notices to the respective municipal commissioners. In Nagpur, the case was listed before Sixth Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) RB Raja, who asked Nagpur Municipal Corporation ( NMC) chief Shyam Wardhane to reply before August 13. Smita Sarode Singalkar was counsel for the petitioner. The NGO has prayed for directions to the civic chiefs to declare a time-bound programme for repairing roads, with monitoring in all cities. It also asked for transparency in tenders for laying roads and their regular maintenance, with participation of experts in the entire process. Except Wardha Road, almost all roads in Nagpur are in bad condition with their upper layers already peeled off by heavy rains that lashed the city in last two months. The damaged roads include major arterial roads like Amravati Road, Kamptee Road, West High Court Road and Great Nag Road among others. Also, all internal roads are in equally pathetic condition, adding to the misery of citizens. The brain behind the multiple cases was advocate Vikas Shinde of Pune, who had been working on this issue since last three years with Sahyog Trust’s legal intervention wing, Human Rights and Law Defenders (HRLD). All the cases were filed under Section 431 of the Bombay Provincial Municipal Corporation Act. Singalkar argued that terrible condition of roads is leading to several casualties and resulting in health problems, besides economic loss of massive proportions. The NGO has submitted its claims with several reports published in the print media regarding deaths and losses due to potholes. It has decided to use the innovative strategy to take up public interest issues in local courts rather than approaching high courts and Supreme Court. The cases makes it clear that they have nothing personally against the civic body chiefs, but it is their social responsibility to take help of law to protect the civil rights of the people in Maharashtra. It added that the poor condition of roads and big number of potholes was a perfect example of bad governance. People are being victimized because of the horrific condition of roads, it added. (Times of India 7/8/13)

5.  trafficking involving Ugandan women busted (1)
BANGALORE: The Central Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths rescued 11 Ugandan women in the wee hours of Saturday after arresting two men who had allegedly pushed them into a prostitution racket in the city. On a tip-off, the police went to a house in Bagalur where the activities were being carried out. The accused men have been identified as Brian Albert (23) and Kawuta Michael (23) from Kampala, Uganda. The CCB police said 10 of the rescued women did not possess valid passports and they had been lured into the flesh trade by the accused men, who had brought them here with a promise of giving them good jobs. Cases have been booked against the accused under the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act, for buying or disposing of any person as a slave and India Passport Act and Karnataka Excise Act. (The Hindu 3/8/13)

6. Capital becomes hub for traffickers (1)
NEW DELHI: Last year on Eid, Hina (13) went missing from Nizamuddin Basti. This Eid too Hina’s parents may not meet their daughter. The police did not manage to trace her and neither was the complaint sent to the anti-human trafficking unit. On Friday, Hina called her parents and said she is in Mumbai. Immediately, a lady snatched the phone and said Hina was on duty and had no time to talk. Hina’s story is reminiscent of a thousand other such cases in Delhi. People are trafficked not just for sex trade but also for labour and to be employed as live-in maids. Delhi receives people from the northeast states, West Bengal, Nepal, Bangladesh and Jharkhand. Meerut and Mewat, which are close to Delhi are infamous for being “rearing points” for trafficked girls, according to anti-trafficking experts. A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ( UNODC), titled ‘Current Status of Victim Service Providers and Criminal Justice Actors in India 2013′ documents how Delhi is one of the emerging hubs and transit points for trafficking. The report also highlights how girls are often kept in remote locations in the NCR, especially by people from tribes like Bedia, Nat and Kanjar, who sell them once they attain puberty. Delhi also has many illegal placement agencies due to a high demand for live-in maids. Employers prefer young children because “they are cheaper and complain less.” Supreme Court advocate and a principal author of the report, Ravi Kant, says “The demand for children for domestic work is very high in Delhi. Delhi is emerging as a destination and transit point and it also has a sizeable number of missing children.” Over 5,000 children went missing from Delhi in 2011. He adds that even when victims of trafficking are rescued, there are too many systemic issues which often keep them from returning home. National Commission For Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) member, Vinod Kumar Tikoo, links the trend to the lack of proper implementation of welfare schemes and abject poverty in some “source” states that supply labor. Two trafficked girls from Jharkhand, Jyoti Mariyam Horo (14) and Jayamani Guriya (14) couldn’t return home. Jyoti died soon after reaching Delhi. Jayamani was sent back to her village after she fell sick but died enroute due to lack of medical assistance. The NCPCR report stated how poverty stricken their families were and how the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee scheme was not being implemented. Against a guaranteed 100 days of work in a year, one of the girl’s fathers had worked for just 18 days. Co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, Enakshi Ganguly, says people mostly associate trafficking with prostitution. “People are trafficked also for organ trade, labour, marriage and for adoption,” she says. Enakshi, who is pursuing Hina’s case recalls Nagamma’s case in Tamil Nadu. Nagamma was sleeping on the street when her baby went missing. After 10 years, Nagamma found out that her baby was in Netherlands and had been adopted by a couple. (Times of India 4/8/13)

7. Three held for trafficking, 14 minor girls rescued (1)
New Delhi: The Crime Branch of Delhi Police on Sunday arrested three persons on the charge of trafficking minor girls and placing them as domestic servants. Police also rescued 14 girls from Delhi and NCR. While two were arrested from Delhi, the main accused was apprehended from West Bengal. The three persons have been identified as Raju, Laxman and Jahanara Didi. Police received a complaint from Child Welfare Committee, Lajpat Nagar, after which a case was registered in the matter and investigation taken up. Police said after the arrest of Laxman and Jahanara, they found that one Raju was the main trafficker, who used to bring minor girls and get them jobs as domestic help in Delhi and NCR. “After examination of the rescued girls it was found that Raju played the key role in abetting, trafficking and placing minor girls in Delhi and NCR with the help of the accused owner Laxman of LG Placement Services. He used to receive an amount in advance from the employers and later collected their salary, but never paid the parents of minor girls,” Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said. After police received a tip-off from West Bengal, a team was immediately sent to the state. “The team reached village Kolohazra in 24 Parganas district, where the villagers did not disclose the hideout of accused Raju. The team stayed put and checked other places in the village. One person was arrested after a long chase,” Yadav said. Information obtained from Laxman and Jahanara led to the arrest of Raju, police said. On Raju’s instance, a team of officers was sent and and 14 minor girls were rescued. “This is one of the largest rescue missions by Crime Branch of the Delhi Police, spanning over 4 months. All the 14 rescued girls have been safely escorted back to their homes,” he added. (Indian Express 6/8/13)

8. Three journalists gunned down in Philippines (1)
Manila: Three journalists have been gunned down in the Philippines in its worst spate of media killings in nearly four years, police and rights watchdogs said. The latest victim, freelance news photographer Mario Sy, was killed in front of his wife and child late Thursday by two suspects who broke into his home in the southern city of General Santos, police said. The attack followed the shooting deaths in Manila on Tuesday of two columnists of a tabloid that had recently ceased publication, said Rupert Mangilit, secretary-general of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines. “We’re quite alarmed that despite claims that the environment for journalists is safer now, we have three killings happening in a week,” he said. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 73 Philippine journalists have been killed in direct connection to their work since 1992, making it the second deadliest country in the world for the press. Critics blame this on widespread gun ownership by civilians and a “culture of impunity” that sees many among the powerful not being brought to justice for criminal acts. Thirty-two journalists were among 58 people kidnapped and murdered allegedly by a powerful political clan in the southern province of Maguindanao in November 2009. “Since the Maguindanao massacre this marked the first time that we had more than two journalists killed in a week,” Mangilit said. General Santos police investigator Fernando Torreta said the authorities have yet to establish the motive for the attack on Sy, 53. “He was shot at his home, in front of his wife and child. The wife gave a deposition to police describing the suspects, but she does not know them. The gunmen fled on a motorcycle,” Torreta added. Mangilit said the two slain Manila columnists, Richard Kho, 47 and Bonifacio Loreto, 59, had both worked for a small tabloid called Aksyon Ngayon (Action Today) that folded in March. Both had tackled “political” issues that could have won them enemies, he added. He said reports of summary execution-style killings in general are on the rise in Manila as well as provincial centres. Only three people have been convicted of murdering journalists in the Philippines since President Benigno Aquino came to power in 2010, Conde said. In the same period, Mangilit said, 18 other journalists were murdered across the country. (Zee News 2/8/13)

9. ‘Media freedom essential, but be responsible’ (1)
KOCHI: Media in the country and especially the state should focus on projecting standard news instead of falling prey to sensationalism and trivialisation of issues, said Kerala High Court advocate Khaleeshawaram Raj. He was speaking during the inauguration of a discussion titled ‘Trial by media, freedom of the press’ organised by C P Sreedharan Foundation in Kochi on Thursday. “Media activism is to be encouraged. However, what the media channels are forgetting to focus on is the real issue. For example, at a time when fraud is taking place in every corner, media institutions should instead focus on raising a voice seeking implementation of the Fraud act. Instead, it has been focussing on a single person instead”, he added. He called for more responsible journalism while also advocating that the judgments of the court should not be influenced by the trial by media. Sebastian Paul who spoke during the discussion said that censorship of the media would not do justice to the public in the country. “If the media is not given its freedom, then many events taking place in hidden places wont be brought to light. Censorship was brought to effect during the Emergency, but it did not prevail. Media has the right to provide information equally as the people have the right to be informed”, he said. He also said that trial by media is essential. “If everything is left to the police and the investigating officers, the information in certain cases won’t be brought to light effectively. The public themselves won’t be satisfied”, he said. However, he called for responsible journalism as well as ensuring that ‘breaking news’ is only displayed when the news is absolutely verified. “Sometimes, a news is planted. The media should ensure that only facts are brought out”, Sebastian Paul said while referring to the Watergate scandal which was broken by Washington Post only after their facts where duly verified. He also called for the need for active journalism while also stating that in the current scenario, more curbs should be brought on the opinions and news doing the rounds on social media. C P Sreedharan’s son Sathish, however voiced the opinion that visual media in the state has forgotten their limits and was going in the way of destructive journalism. He called for a curb in the news being displayed by the media. (New Indian Express 2/8/13)

10.  channel under political squeeze, managing editor quits (1)
Chandigarh: When Kanwar Sandhu, senior journalist and managing editor of Day and Night News, resigned on Friday, he did so after publicly putting the blame for the three-year-old multilingual channel’s financial problems on the machinations of a “powerful political entity in Punjab,” aimed at snuffing out “fair and free journalism.” From August 1, the channel, owned by the Kandhari group of industries, has gone off the two major DTH platforms from which it was operating and is reportedly scaling down its operations. This means laying off around 50 employees. In an address to the employees, which was put on YouTube, Mr. Sandhu congratulated the political entities of Punjab on succeeding in their designs. He said the politicians who run “a group of news and entertainment channels are behind the cartel that controls the cable network in Punjab. We exposed its designs and our plea that the Fastway group of cable companies has been abusing its dominance to deny us access to the Punjab market has also been upheld by the Competition Commission of India [CCI].” Since denial of access to Punjab led to reduced TRPs and resultant low advertising revenue, the channel was bleeding financially, month after month, Mr. Sandhu said. Within two months of inception in 2010, the news channel began facing problems from the Fastway group that controls 85 per cent of subscribers in Punjab and Chandigarh, and in February 2011 it was taken off the air. This drastically reduced the reach of Day and Night News in Punjab, its target area of viewership. (The Hindu 5/8/13)

11. UNESCO condemns third murder of Filipino journalist (1)
New York, Aug 7 : The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom Tuesday denounced the killing of Mario Sy, the third Filipino journalist gunned down in recent days, and urged a thorough investigation into the killing. “I condemn the murder of Mario Sy,” said the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova. Sy, a freelance photo contributor to Sapol News Bulletin newspaper, was shot on 1 August by an unidentified man who entered his house in the province of South Cotabato. The killing comes two days after the double murder of Bonifacio Loreto and Richard Kho, columnists for a weekly tabloid newspaper, Aksyon Ngayon. “It is very alarming to see three journalists killed in the space of two days and I urge the authorities to do all in their power to bring the culprits of these crimes to justice,” Bokova said. According to media and police reports, on 30 July, Loreto and Kho were shot several times by two assailants on motorcycles as they talked in front of a convenience store in the Quezon City neighbourhood of the capital, Manila. The journalists are remembered on the dedicated UNESCO webpage, ‘UNESCO Condemns Killing of Journalists.’ (New Kerala 7/8/13)

12. HC allows girl to live with Dalit husband (2)
MADURAI: The Madras High Court bench here on Thursday closed a habeas corpus petition filed by the wife of a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam functionary, who claimed that her daughter was kidnapped by a Dalit boy. The petitioner, S. Dhanalakshmi, wife of V.V. Subramanian, a caste Hindu and a DMK functionary from Sayalkudi, had alleged in her petition that her daughter S. Prathiba, a physiotherapist, was kidnapped by S. Seenivasan, an engineer belonging to the Dalit community. A division bench comprising Justices S. Rajeswaran and T. Mathivanan closed the case after Mrs. Prathiba appeared at the court and submitted that she was married to Mr. Seenivasan since September 12, 2012. Mrs. Prathiba further told the judges that her mother had filed the case only to separate her from her husband. The couple was living in Odisha, where Mr. Seenivasan worked as an electrical engineer in a private company, she said. The judges recorded her submissions and directed the petitioner to permit Mrs. Prathiba to go with her husband. They instructed the girl’s family not to harass the couple and closed the case. (The Hindu 2/8/13)

13. UK Dalits fear delay may kill law banning discrimination (2)
LONDON: Dalits in Britain fear that the landmark legislation, calling for end to caste discrimination, may get repealed even before its implementation as the time-table for the consultative process by the David Cameroon government may run through to the summer of 2015. The House of Commons, through the Equality Act, had voted for legal protection of the estimated four lakh Dalits in UK, the first country outside South Asia to legislate such a law. “The proposed timetable to finally implement the landmark law will run through to 2015 – and probably after the next general elections. This unprecedented prolonged consultation means that the government can repeal the legislation before it is implemented. At this rate the sunset clause – review of the legislation will take place before the legislation is even implemented,” UK-based Dalit Solidarity Network said. “There is no problem with a consultation period – and in fact it is welcomed. But why is a consultation period of up to 2 years deemed necessary? This government’s own guidelines stipulate a 12 week period to be an optimum,” it said. Recently, a Tory Minister was accused of reneging on a pledge to end caste discrimination. “It certainly appears that the government’s intention is to kick this important piece of legislation into the long grass,” the Network said. Equalities minister Helen Grant said: “The consultation will focus purely on how they implement the law, not whether it is implemented. It is vital that we get it right and that requires consultation with a wide range of groups.” The Network said discussions with the anti-legislation lobby had already taken place. “As far as we know at least three meetings have taken place with the minister since the government agreed to activate the caste clause in the Equality Act. Why does our current government fear the anti-legislation lobby?” it said. After several U-turns, the British Parliament agreed in April to outlaw caste discrimination. In a letter to Hindu groups, which are opposed to the legislation, Grant said a safeguard had been introduced which would allow the government to remove caste discrimination from the statute book if reviews showed it is not necessary. (Times of India 3/8/13)

14. Activists condemn police brutality against Dalit girls (2)
Mangalore: Alleged police laxity and brutality in dealing with the assault of two Dalit girls in Guruvanyankere, Belthangady taluk, for their dressing sense, drew anger from numerous Dalit activists here on Sunday. Raising the issue at the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes grievance meet, activists demanded to know why not filed cases were filed against the men or the policemen who had allegedly assaulted them probed. “Even if someone objects to their dressing sense, who has the authority to beat the girls up,” asked activist Sadashiv Urwastore. Similarly, Parvathi and other activists said Dalit girls in villages were being moral policed. As reported by The Hindu on July 30, the two sisters –one of them a minor – claimed to have been harassed by men on July 17 who had asked them to “come to a lodge” after they saw them wearing sleeveless tops and skirts. When spurned, the men assaulted them in public, accusing them of being prostitutes, and hurling casteist slurs. The girls were taken to Bethangady police station, where they were berated, beaten, and charged for being prostitutes. They spent three days in jail before being released on bail. SP Abhishek Goyal said the case was “more complicated” than it was portrayed, and said a total of three complaints – one accusing them of being prostitutes, another case of the same nature filed by a Dalit organisation there which also produced 400 signatures supporting this claim, and lastly, a counter-case by the girls against the men – had been received. “The ASP will give his inquiry report within a week,” he said. When asked as to how the police could have jailed a minor for three days, ASP T.P. Shivakumar said the “burden of proof” was with the accused, and “the police could not help it if the accused did not know the rules of Juvenile Justice.” (The Hindu 5/8/13)

15. Caste panchayat ostracises 13 dalit families in Bhilwara (2)
JAIPUR: A caste panchayat in a village in Bhilwara district ostracised thirteen dalit families and allegedly forced them to leave their houses on suspicion of their involvement in thefts. The families are now living outside the village for the past few days. They approached the district administration officials following which they were brought back to their houses under police security on Tuesday. According to the police, the families belong to nomadic Bhopa Nayak community. “Thirteen families belonging to this community settled in Shyopur village near Asind in the district about 20 years ago. These families had all the identification documents with them,” said an officer. Ratan Nath Kalbelia, a social activist said that one Pappu Nayak was on his way home on August 1 when he was intercepted by one Kali Singh Rawat, a resident of the village. “Kali Singh got into a fight with Pappu Nayak over a petty issue. He beat up Pappu severely. Pappu’s family approached the police and lodged a complaint. It irked Kali Singh and other villagers from the higher caste,” said Ratan Nath. He added that Pappu was forced to withdraw the complaint. “A caste panchayat was called on August 3 in which it was decided that all the 13 families belonging to Bhopa Nayak community will be ostracised,” said Ratan Nath. Ratan Nath said that as per the diktat of caste panchayat, other villagers were prevented from mingling with the dalit families. “In the panchayat meeting, the community leaders decided that all the families would be forced to leave the village. It created panic among the members of the dalit families. They left the village and were staying in a makeshift arrangement in a nearby village. On August 3, we gave a memorandum to the district collector demanding action against the panchayat members who ostracised the families,” said Ratan Nath. The administration officer said that the villagers suspected these families of being involved in thefts in the village. Sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Jaiprakash Narayan said that the local police has been asked to provide security to the families. (Times of India 7/8/13)

16. ‘Government shouldn’t buy pvt land for mining’ (4)
Citing the recent Supreme Court decision that minerals underneath the soil of private lands belongs to the owner of the land, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, a civil rights organisation, has urged the state government to stop acquiring private lands for mining projects. “The state government should immediately withdraw the land acquisition orders for mineral bearing private lands following the apex court’s order as the minerals except Uranium deposits belong to the owners,” president of the organisation, Prafulla Samantara told media persons here. The para 57 of the order reads “we are of the opinion that there is nothing in the law which declares that all mineral wealth sub-soil rights vest in the state, on the other hand, the ownership of sub-soil/mineral wealth should normally follow the ownership of the land, unless the owner of the land is deprived of the same by some valid process.” Samantara demanded withdrawal of notifications for acquiring large scale agricultural lands in Chendipada area in Angul district for excavating of coal for Mahaguj colliery which is being developed by Adani group. (Business Standard 1/8/13)

17. No agri land for industrial or mining project, says Soren (4)
RANCHI: Weeks after global steel major ArceloMittal announced that it was scrapping its $12 billion project in Odisha and was also dissatisfied over the progress of two other projects in Jharkhand and Karnataka (collectively worth $18 billion), the newly formed government said they are keen to remove the bottlenecks and ensure the project sees the light of the day. However, chief minister Hemant Soren in no uncertain terms said the government would not allocate an inch of agricultural land for any industrial or mining project. “Fertile land is meant for agriculture and it will not be given for any industrial project. However, we will review the status of all pending industrial projects within a month and try to find the bottlenecks so that they are resolved at the earliest,” he said. Admitting that ArcelorMittal’s steel projects would bring prestige and employment to the state, he said the real reasons for the delay have to be identified first. Industries department secretary A P Singh said ArcelorMittal officials were apparently keen about mining clearances and have progressed in that direction . “Undoubtedly, land acquisition is one big issue for any industrial project. Sometime in 2010, they had plans to acquire land directly from the owners and have only recently approached the Bokaro district administration after identifying a 2,000-acre plot in the Chas region,” he said. Singh said that while the mines project are awaiting clearance from the Centre’s environment ministry, the company officials have themselves been slow on the front of land acquisition. Sources said that after their first attempt to acquire land in Torpa (Khunti) and Kamdara (Simdega), the company had to shift the project to Kasmar in Bokaro in February 2010 because of protests. Having acquired some land in Kasmar after holding talks with land owners directly, the company found new problems and then finally identified 1310.23 acres in four villages – Bijulia, ChakManoharpur, Dudhari and Gopidih. It is believed that after acquiring the said private and Raiyat land, the company would have to turn to the government for the remaining 30% of the required plot, which would require cabinet clearance. “Once it comes to government land, we are going to give all clearances soon,” Singh said, clarifying that the company is yet to acquire the land from private owners. ArcelorMittal on Wednesday said that progress of its Jharkhand and Karnataka projects is “not very satisfactory”. Chairman Lakshmi Mittal said ArcelorMittal may think of exiting these two projects if no substantial progress is made soon. He said: “There is a progress in these states, but at the same time, we would like to make it clear that these progresses are still not very satisfactory. We will continue to watch and see our options going forward. If there is no progress in these states, we may have to think differently.” (Times of India 3/8/13)

18. For land acquired decades ago, Didi told to foot Rs 2,000 crore bill now (4)
Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s claim of having inherited a huge debt has got enough credence with courts ordering her government to pay Rs 2,000 crore to farmers for land taken from them by previous governments. The cases of land acquisition date back to 1948 when Prafulla Chandra Ghosh of the Congress, the first chief minister of West Bengal, was at the helm. As many of the courts, where the farmers moved to get compensation, directed the state government to pay the dues, Mamata, who is in charge of the department of land and land reforms, asked her officials to find out a way out. But how did it all happen? The Land Acquisition Act of 1894, promulgated by the British, stipulated that land could be taken only after declaring awards (compensation) for farmers. The farmers might take it or might not take it but the money would be ready. But in 1948, a year after India got Independence, when the state had to acquire land fast owing to developmental necessities and the state government under Prafulla Chandra Ghosh was facing a severe cash crunch, an Act in the Assembly was passed which enabled the state government to acquire land first and declare the awards later. Large tracts of land was acquired in this manner till 1994 when the Act was repealed by the Left Front government under Jyoti Basu and land began to be acquired in accordance with the 1894 Act. “Between 1948 and 1994, huge areas of land was acquired for which farmers were not paid. Both the Congress and the subsequent Left Front governments are to blame for this. Many of these people moved court and we have been slapped with a total bill of Rs 2,000 crore. It is like a bolt from the blue for us. And we don’t know how much land has been acquired in this way, where the government did not pay compensation. In that case the bill can shoot up manifold. We will have to pay for the inefficiency of the previous governments,” an official of the land and land reforms department told The Sunday Express. ..(Indian Express 4/8/13)

19. 270 major infrastructure projects running behind schedule (4)
New Delhi, Aug 6 : About 270 major infrastructure projects costing Rs. 150 crore and above are running behind schedule, the Lok Sabha was informed Tuesday. Minister of State for Statistics and Programme Implementation Srikant Kumar Jena said as on June 1, 569 central sector projects were being monitored by his ministry. “About 277 projects are running behind schedule,” he said. “Main reasons for delay in implementation are law and order problems, delay in land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement problems, fund constraints, delay in forest and environment clearances among other.” The key infrastructure projects are executed by the ministries of railways, road transport and highways, shipping, civil aviation and power. He said these projects are monitored closely by the concerned ministry with respect to the target dates of completion. “A standing committee has been set up in each ministry to fix responsibility for cost and time overruns,” he added. (New Kerala 6/8/13)

20. Social body questions land acquisitions (4)
AURANGABAD: The Aurangabad Social Forum (ASF) on Monday expressed concern over proposed large-scale land acquisitions for special economic zones (SEZ), the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor and the Aurangabad metropolitan city. It cited the recent occupation of MIDC land by farmers in Shendra, who have alleged that large-scale manipulation and fraud was involved in the process. Addressing an ASF meet, comprising industrialists, educationists, social workers and NGOs, professor Vijay Diwan questioned the justification for the huge amounts of proposed land to be acquired for major projects. He said that this mass land acquisition would only result in the increase in the percentage of youths without jobs and will deprive people of both the acquired land and water. “In the name of development, not only the farmers but also the micro, small and medium enterprises are being killed by the government. Only major corporate houses are being favoured. Ironically, all the acquisition is being done around developing cities, eyeing the real estate market,” activist Ulka Mahajan said on the occasion. She specified that the “fight” is not between the farmers and industrialists, but between “the common man and a handful of major corporate houses” that are acquiring prime agricultural land. “No one is ready to answer the simple question why so much of land is required for setting up multinational companies,” Mahajan said. (Times of India 7/8/13)

21. Cabinet nod for minor forest produce MSP (6)
New Delhi, August 2 : The cabinet Friday approved the marketing of minor forest produce through the minimum support price (MSP) route to provide a social safety net to forest dwellers. The scheme will ensure the tribal population gets a remunerative price for the produce they collect from the forest. It would also provide alternative employment avenues to them, an official release said after a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. An estimated 100 million forest dwellers depend on the minor forest produce (MFP) like tendu, bamboo and tamarind for food, shelter, medicines and income. “The scheme seeks to establish a system to ensure fair monetary returns for forest dweller’s efforts in collection, primary processing, storage, packaging and transportation while ensuring sustainability of the resource base,” the release said. The centrally-sponsored scheme also seeks to get them a share of revenue from the sale proceeds with costs deducted. The central government will contribute Rs.967.28 crore as assistance while the states will give Rs.249.50 crore for the current plan period (2012-17). The scheme would cover 12 MFPs and the responsibility of purchasing them will be with state-designated agencies. The scheme supports primary value addition as well as provides for supply chain infrastructure like cold storages and warehouses. The tribal affairs ministry will be the nodal ministry for implementing and monitoring the scheme. (New Kerala 2/8/13)

22. SC dept. asks to return tribal land acquired for mining (6)
PALAKKAD: The Scheduled Caste Development Department has recommended the Government to cancel the acquisition of 3.5795 hectares of land of nine tribal families for a private company for granite mining at Dhanyam tribal hamlet in Padavayal village of Attappady. Integrated Tribal Development Project (ITDP) officer of Attappady P.V. Radhakrishnan, on the complaint of usurping tribal land, on Friday said that the acquisition of all their land including houses made the tribal families landless and houseless. There was no rehabilitation scheme implemented while acquiring the land in 1991 for a paltry amount of Rs.1.5 lakh on a request made by Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) on behalf of a private company, the report said. This acquisition had violated the Kerala Restriction of Transfer by and Restoration of Lands to Scheduled Tribes Act 1999 that had made tribal land alienation null and void after 1986. The request for the mining was made by KSIDC Executive Director on October 16, 1989 and the land was acquired and directly transferred to a private company in 1991. Since there was no mining started in the acquired land even after 22 years of its acquisition, it is clear that the land was not taken for granite mining. However, the private company (M/s West Coast Granite Limited, Thiruvananthapuram) has paid tax to till last month, the report said. The ITDP conducted a detailed inquiry on the land acquisition on a complaint filed by M. Sukumaran, Convenor, Attappady Samrakshana Samithy. The inquiry report called for cancelling the land acquisition order (1/91) issued by Palakkad Land Acquisition Special Tehsildar on February 4, 1991 and restores the land to the tribal people. The report was sent to Director of Scheduled Caste Development Department, District Collector of Palakkad and Revenue Divisional Officer of Ottapalam on Friday. (The Hindu 3/8/13)

23. Assured of security, 1,800 Bangladeshi tribals return home (6)
Agartala, Aug 5 (IANS): Over 1,800 Bangladeshi tribals, who fled across the Indian border into Tripura after ethnic strife broke out with non-tribal Muslims, returned to their villages after Dhaka assured them security, officials said here on Monday. “Three Bangladeshi MPs and officials of BGB (Border Guard Bangladesh) and local administration have assured the tribals full security. The tribals returned to their villages on Sunday evening,” Border Security Force (BSF) Deputy Inspector General Bhaskar Rawat told IANS. A Tripura government official, quoting reports from across the border, said Bangladesh Minister of State for Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Affairs Dipankar Talukdar had visited the trouble-torn areas in the mountainous regions on Sunday and assured the affected tribals that stern action would be taken against those responsible for the violence, and security would be provided to minority tribals. Officials of BSF and BGB held a meeting at the bordering village of Karbook, 155 km south of here, and persuaded the tribals to return home. Over 1,800 men, women and children of Chakma and Tripuri tribes had taken shelter in the India-Bangladesh border village of Karbook after fleeing from five villages in Khagrachari district under CHT. Rawat said: “The tribals entered Indian territory on Saturday evening after ethnic troubles in Bangladesh. They were stopped at the border by the BSF outside the barbed wire fence. We provided them food and other assistance.” The tribals, mostly Buddhists and Hindus, fled the CHT after clashes over the reported abduction of a local leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition in Bangladesh, led by former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. An official of the Tripura Home Department said the state government has informed the Union Home Ministry about the development. “At least one tribal villager was killed and four others were seriously injured. About 500 tribal houses were burnt to ashes,” Suhas Chakma, director of Delhi-based rights group Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) said in a press release. Additional troopers of the BSF have been deployed along the India-Bangladesh border to deal with the situation and to prevent refugee influx into Indian territory. In 1986, over 74,000 tribals – mostly Buddhist Chakmas – took shelter in southern Tripura following violent attacks on thousands of tribals by non-tribals. Demanding sovereign status for tribals in CHT in southeast Bangladesh, separatist outfit Shanti Bahini was at that time engaged in a guerrilla war against the Bangladesh government. All the 74,000 refugees returned to their homes in 1997-98 after the Bangladesh government signed a peace agreement with Shanti Bahini. Tripura shares an 856-km border with Bangladesh, which is porous because it extends over mountains that are densely forested. Over 85 percent of the border has been fenced. (The Assam Tribune 5/8/13)

24. Tribal outfit to stage demonstration on August 13 (6)
Mysore: The Karnataka Adivasi Rakshana Parishat will stage demonstrations at district headquarters on August 13 to press for various demands including land grant. Parishat general secretary M. Krishnaiah said here on Monday that the protests would coincide with the World Adivasi Day. Mr. Krishnaiah said the parishat would urge the government to set up a separate Scheduled Tribe Commission and a separate Ministry to ensure their welfare. The implementation of the Forest Rights Act, under which individual and community rights were being given to tribals, should be expedited and an ‘Adivasi Bhavan’ established at taluk and district centres. Supporting the steps to free the Western Ghats from Naxals, he said all cases booked against tribals should be withdrawn. He said that ashram schools should be upgraded and 50 per cent of teachers should be appointed from ST groups. He alleged that the land allotted to 65 tribal families in H.D. Kote taluk had been encroached by people belonging to upper castes. Mr. Krishnaiah urged the government to arrest those who shot tribals while fishing in the backwaters of the Kabini dam. He sought police protection for tribal people for fishing. (The Hindu 6/8/13)

25. Sarna members to intensify stir from Aug 9 (6)
RANCHI: The Sarna society’s preparation for a massive protest rally demanding the removal of the statue of Virgin Mary in tribal attire at Singpur Village, 15 kms from the state capital, will pick up momentum after August 9. Dharmguru of Sarna society Bandhan Tigga said: “I will visit Santhal Pargana on August 9 and then start a comprehensive awareness drive about how the church is trying to convert the tribals. We will be putting up hoardings, writing on walls and organizing nukkad nataks (street plays) around the state to make people aware about our protest.” Recently, Tigga, was informed that a station diary has been registered at Nagri police station against the tribal residents of Singpur by the father of church where the statue has been erected. Tigga said: “Some boys visited the police station two days ago and found out that a station diary has been registered against us, but this will not stop us from protesting for protection of our culture.” Jagannath Oraon, officer in-charge of Nagri police station, said: “A station diary was registered around 10 days ago. It said that the tribals of Singpur village are threatening the church of bringing down the statue by force if it is not removes. We are investigating the matter, “he said. Tigga, meanwhile, is preparing for the big protest rally. He said, “We have made two coordination committees, one at the state-level will travel to all districts while the other is exclusively for Ranchi city.” (Times of India 7/8/13)

26. Nearly 13,000 women raped in Assam in eight years (8)
Guwahati: Nearly 13,000 women have been raped in the past eight years in Assam, revealed official sources. Between 2005 and May 2013, at least 12,857 women were raped while 59 were killed after the rape, said state home department officials. Of the 8,181 rape cases registered, 76% were acted upon and 12,216 people were arrested for the crime, officials said. But crime against women in the state is not limited to rape, with torture for dowry claiming 1,069 lives. Officials said 1,671 people were arrested for cases related to dowry torture and death. Another 66 women became victims of witch hunting and 408 persons were arrested in the 55 cases registered against such crimes. However, officials said deaths due to witch-hunting had come down to 14 in 2012 from 29 in the previous year, thanks to various preventive measures and awareness programmes undertaken by the government. The atrocities against women were attributed to gender discrimination, social and familial tensions, poverty, lack of job opportunities, rising population and insufficient manpower with law-enforcement agencies. Thousands of women have been abducted in the past few years in Assam. Of the 19,902 cases of abduction of women registered, 14,488 were related to marriage. A total of 9,032 people were arrested on abduction charges and 113 of them were jailed for the crime, officials said. (Hindustan Times 1/8/13)

27. Sexual offenders in office stand to lose job, promotion (8)
NEW DELHI: You could risk losing at least 10% of your salary every month for a year, promotions, withdrawal of privileges and perks or even face termination of service if found guilty of sexually harassing a woman at your workplace. These are part of the new rules under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) that was passed by Parliament recently. The rules empower the complaints committee to restrict the perpetrator’s entry from the workplace if the guilty happens to be an outsider. The panel can also impose a fine of Rs 500, or 5% of the woman’s salary in case of a false or malicious complaint. These provisions are included in new rules that have been drafted by the ministry of women and child development and sent to the law ministry for their opinion. The provisions are likely to be notified by end-August. A complaints committee, established under the law, will be empowered to recommend and impose a written apology, censure, withhold promotions, pay hikes or increments, entitlements and privileges, impose termination of service in case where they find a case of sexual harassment. The committee can also revoke, suspend any licence or registration in cases like a doctor or a lawyer’s licence. If the act has been committed by an outsider or a visitor the committee can pass orders to restrict the entry of the perpetrator or forewarn him of criminal and legal action in case of trauma to the victim. The guilty also risks losing a minimum of 10% of his salary every month for a period of a year or in a lump sum. The committee has been given powers to take in to consideration the nature of relationship between the complainant and the accused, the position of the respondent in the hierarchy and the incidents of prior complaint before determining the nature of penalty. It can also slap a fine of Rs 500 or 5% of the salary of the complainant every month for a year in case of a false or malicious complaint. The sexual harassment law, which has been in effect from April, is applicable to organized and unorganized workplaces including educational institutions, hospitals, residences (applicable to domestic workers) and provides a mechanism for the implementation of the Vishakha guidelines of 1997. Sexual harassment has been described broadly in the act as any attempt to promise or give preferential treatment, threaten or attempt to give detrimental treatment to an employee, create a work environment that is hostile, offensive or intimidating or humiliate an employee so that it affects her health or safety. (Times of India 4/8/13)

28. Punjab Women Commission favours teaching of women’s rights in schools (8)
CHANDIGARH: The Punjab Women Commission favours training of women in self-defence and teaching them about their rights in schools and colleges. The commission will soon write to the Punjab education department in this regard, its chaiperson Paramjit Kaur Landran said in Chandigarh on Sunday. To make women aware at an early stage about their rights and to train them in self-defence are need of hour, she said. “The commission is also launching a state-wide awareness campaign to empower women,” Landran said. In this regard, seminars in collaboration with educational institutions and social organisations will be organised all over the state, she said. To deal with cases related to women’s issues, Landran said three courts were organised by the women commission in July for 12 districts including Jalandhar and Amritsar. (Times of India 5/8/13)

29. Crimes against women rise sharply in Maharashtra (8)
MUMBAI: Maharashtra witnessed a sharp rise in crimes against women, such as rape, molestation and infanticide, and other violent crimes, including attempt to murder and culpable homicide, in 2012. A report released by the state’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on Monday reveals that instances of infanticide and foeticide surged by 267% and 83%, respectively, in 2012 over the previous year. Similarly, cases of rape and child rape swelled by 8% and 12%. Violent crimes, meanwhile, grew by 13.1%.Releasing the report with chief minister Prithviraj Chavan and state police chief Sanjeev Dayal at a press conference, home minister R R Patil said the crime rate has risen “marginally” but contended it was due to better crime registration in districts and urban centres. “There is no doubt that crime rate has gone up, but this is because our force has done a fine job of registering crime efficiently,” Patil said. He added that the report’s highlight is the surge in the conviction rate in the state. According to Dayal, the conviction rate increased from 8.2% in 2011 to 9.1% in 2012 and reached 15.1% in the first three months of 2013. “There is scope to improve it further,” said Chavan. The report shows that 2.02 lakh crimes were registered in 2012 in Maharashtra under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). This was a decline of 2,000 such cases from 2011. Still, the consolation provided by the overall 1.1% reduction in IPC cases was offset by the increase in occurrences of several violent crimes. There was an upsurge in Maharashtra of 18.8% in culpable homicide cases, of 63.5% in robberies, of 4% in dacoities, and of 3% in attempts to murder. The report explained the rise in these and other cases as caused by the increase in population. Dayal said he has proposed to the government a slew of measures aimed at bolstering the conviction rate. “We will put in place a new system of collecting forensic evidence and imparting training to investigating officers. There are complaints that victims and witnesses turn hostile at trial stage, affecting the conviction rate,” said the director general of police. As in Maharashtra, statistics of most crimes swelled in Mumbai too. Robberies (which includes chain-snatchings) rose here by 142.2%, culpable homicide by 125% and sexual harassment by 45.1%. According to the report, Mumbai was ranked 39th in criminality among 45 districts and commissionerates in the state. The senior policemen at the press conference expressed concern at the rising crimes against women against children and said they are placing more focus on curbing these offences. (Times of India 6/8/13)

30. Over 11 lakh abortions in a year in India: Govt (8)
New Delhi: A total of 11.06 lakh abortions were recorded in the country in 2008-09, according to government data. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today said data on the numbers of unsafe abortions in the country is not available in the Central Health Management and Information System of National Rural Health Mission or national level surveys. “As per Registrar General of India- Sample Registration System (RGI -SRS) (2001-03), 8 per cent of maternal deaths in the country are attributed to ‘abortions’. “Further, as per WHO global and regional estimates 2008, on unsafe abortion, 13 per cent of maternal deaths are attributed to unsafe abortions in the South Central Asia region,” Azad said a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha. He said while there are no estimates on the magnitude of unsafe abortions in India, or the numbers of deaths per one lakh abortions in the region, a WHO report on Unsafe abortion states that, “a large number of unsafe abortions reportedly take place in India. “The same Report has also provided an estimate of 200 deaths per 100,000 unsafe abortions in the South Central Asia Region.” The Minister said funds are being provided to states/ UTs for operationalisation of safe abortion services at health facilities including procurement of equipment and drugs. Listing other steps taken with regard to safe abortions, he said capacity building of medical officers in safe abortion technology and of ANMs, ASHAs and other field functionaries to provide confidential counselling for safe abortion and promote post-abortion care including adoption of contraception has been made. He added that certification of private and NGO sector facilities through district level committees to provide quality MTP services has been introduced. (The Financial Express 7/8/13)

31. Number of child labour in Nepal drops to 1.6 million: UNICEF (14)
Kathmandu: Abolition of bonded labour is still a distant dream in Nepal, even as statistics show the number of child labour has dropped to 1.6 million. Commissioner of National Human Rights Commission Gauri Pradhan on Wednesday said though statistics have shown decrease in child labour, abolition of bonded labour is still a distant dream and UNICEF has been in the fore front in the drive. He was speaking at a function where UNICEF launched a campaign to end violence against women and children coinciding with the initiation of global campaign to eliminate violence against children today. He said it is a matter of pride that movement for child rights in Nepal for the last 20 years has given fruit to various movements which have been recognised internationally such as Shakti Samuha – an organisation founded by trafficked women which has recently bagged prestigious Magsaysay award. According to UNICEF Nepal’s representative Hanaa Singer, there are about 1,600,000 children in the age group to 5-17 working in various factories, while more than 600,000 are engaged in hazardous works. The number of girls and women working in the night entertainment industry in Kathmandu is estimated between 11,000 and 13,000. She said there is a need to ask children to report on violence against them and make the invisible visible as large number itself is not reported because it happens in homes. According to the data, 34 percent of women aged between 15 and 49 have experienced emotional, physical or sexual violence at least once since the age of 15. Nearly 40 percent of survivors of child sexual violence are aged below 18, the study reveals. Annually 12,000 children are trafficked to India, mainly for the purpose of sexual exploitation. (Zee news 1/8/13)

32. Majority of juvenile offenders are aged between 16 and 18 (14)
Mumbai: Even as the apex court recently rejected the plea to lower the age of juveniles from 18 years to 16 years in heinous crimes, most juvenile criminals in the state were in the age group of 16 to 18 years last year with 4,037 out of 5,931 juvenile delinquents falling in this age group, according to figures from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Experts said that it is time to start a debate on the age of juvenile criminals. Leading criminal lawyer Majid Memon said that in the recent Delhi gang rape case, which created waves nationwide, the youngest offender was below 18 years of age, and his was found to be most grievous crime. Naturally, he said, there has been outcry for the highest punishment to him. But since the boy was less than 18 years of age on the date of the crime, he is protected by the law under the Juvenile Justice Act. This probably is the main reason to start a debate on reconsidering the age limit in cases of juvenile offenders. “Only a few years ago, after anxious considerations, it was found that the age from 16 should be enhanced to 18 for juvenile criminals and accordingly, the amendment in law was affected. Now again, it is felt that the age be brought down from 18 to 16,” said Memon. YP Singh, former IPS officer said, “For certain heinous crimes, like the recent Delh gang rape, the juvenile age should be reduced. Unlike earlier days, the social environment now has changed and maturity comes faster. Hence youngsters now are more prone to committing crimes. Taking this into consideration, it is imperative that the age limit be reduced, at least for serious offences.” The Supreme Court’s July 17 judgment in the Salil Bali case had noted that there was no data to support public perception — formed after the gruesome gang rape case of a paramedic in Delhi in December last year — on the spurt in heinous crimes involving juveniles. It had said reformation was more important for juveniles than attaching a permanent criminal tag to them. It was only on August 1 that the Supreme Court agreed to hear a PIL arguing that a juvenile’s culpability should be determined on his mental maturity rather than physical age. (Hindustan Times 5/8/13)

33. Steps to Address Child Abuse in the Country (14)
The Government of India has taken several legal and administrative steps to address child abuse. The key steps taken are as under:  i) The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as the principal legislation for the protection of children. The Act was amended in 2006 to ensure better care and protection for children and aims to enhance the protective environment for vulnerable, neglected and abused children by providing them care and protection. ii) A special law “The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012” to protect all children under the age of 18 years from the offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography came into force on 14th November, 2012. iii) National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was established in 2007, under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005. This is a major step towards the protection of rights of children in the country. iv) The Child Labour (Regulation and Prohibition) Act, 1986, prohibits employment of children below the age of 14 years in notified hazardous occupations and processes. v) Adoption of the Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009. The Act provides for free and compulsory education to all children between 6-14 years of age. vi) Implementation of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) for children in difficult circumstances and for vulnerable children since 2009. vii) The 24 hour child help line 1098 run by Childline as a toll-free phone number with outreach services linking children in need of care and protection in 278 locations. viii) A comprehensive scheme for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation, re-integration and repatriation of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation- “Ujjawala”. ix) A web-based Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS) to make the process of adoption more transparent; and guidelines for in-country and inter-country adoption to regulate and monitor all adoption programmes. This was stated by Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister for Women and Child Development, in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha today. (Govt. of India PIB 7/8/13)

34. Child marriages still prevalent in Himachal, admits govt (14)
Shimla: Himachal Pradesh has failed to root out the social problem of child marriage, with 15 reported from five panchayats alone in Sirmaur, one of state’s backward districts, from December 2007 to November 2011, the government has admitted. In an affidavit dated June 18, 2013, in the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the state government admitted that 15 child marriages were solemnized in the Khud Drabil and Jarag panchayats in Sangrah block and the Chandni, Kathwar and Kodga panchayats in Paonta Sahib block. It also said four infant deaths, three child deaths and four dropout cases were reported in these panchayats during this period. There was however no case of child labour. Taking suo motu cognisance of an NGO survey, a division bench consisting of Chief Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Kuldip Singh had asked the deputy commissioner of Sirmaur April 9 to file a status report on child marriages, infant and child deaths, child labour and school dropouts. The court’s direction came after treating a baseline survey conducted by NGO People’s Action for People in Need as a public suit. The government affidavit says the five panchayats covered by the NGO in its survey have a population of 7,942 as per the December 2011 records. “Peculiar practices with regard to institution of marriage exist in Sangrah and Shillai areas of Sirmaur. However, with the passage of time, there is a declining trend but not fully extinct,” the affidavit said. Customary provisions, including polyandry and polygamy, are still widely prevalent in the community as a whole in the areas across the Giri river, adjoining Uttarakhand, it said. The customary practice of “Har chali gayi” or “girl went to her in-law’s house” is quite prevalent there. Under this practice, during fairs and festivals, commonly in January, relatives and near and dear ones visit each other’s houses and stay as guests. It so happens that when a girl visits a house and a boy in that family becomes her choice, both of them share their liking and start residing together irrespective of their age. Sometimes the girl delivers a child with the acquiescence of the parents and the community. The marriages are later solemnized and registered with the local authorities when the couple attains majority, the affidavit says. It says seven out of 15 child marriages in the surveyed panchayats were performed by following the “Har chali gayi” practice. NGO director Kuldeep Verma said the government conducted the survey only in those panchayats where its study was focussed. “All these five panchayats are connected with roads. There are numerous panchayats in Sirmaur that are not accessible and where the customary provisions are more prevalent. We need to draw up action plans to crack down on child marriages,” Verma said. Besides Sirmaur, he said, the tradition of child marriage is also prevalent in other districts like Kupvi in Shimla, Tissa in Chamba and Chhota and Bara Bangal in Kangra. “It’s hard to know the exact number of child marriages as many go unregistered.” The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, in its latest report, said 14 percent of girls in Himachal Pradesh get married before they turn 18. The high court, while disposing of the NGO’s petition, observed July 23: “Since the issue is of great public importance and the department is committed to take measures to eradicate the social backwardness and social evil practices, as is assured in the reply-affidavit, we dispose of this petition.” The bench however gave liberty to the petitioner to take recourse to appropriate remedies, including a fresh suit, to bring to the court’s notice the continuation of such medieval practices. (Zee News 8/8/13)

35. Collectors told to enlist farmers under BKKY on mission mode (20)
BHUBANESWAR: The State Government on Thursday directed the Collectors to complete the enrolment of farmers under Biju Krushak Kalyan Yojana (BKKY), the ambitious health insurance scheme, on a mission mode. Chief Secretary JK Mohapatra reviewed the progress of the health insurance scheme for the farmers through video conferencing with the Collectors. The programme rolled out on the occasion of Akshya Tritiya, which marks the beginning of agricultural activities, aimed at providing health insurance coverage to people engaged in farming activities. Under the scheme, five members of a family will enjoy medical benefits of ` one lakh. Around 50 lakh farmer families will benefit from the scheme. “This is an inclusive programme for universal health coverage of the farmer families,” Mohapatra said and asked the Collectors to see that the scheme is implemented with liberal inclusive approach. As per the scheme, all families living on agriculture and allied activities except the income tax payers or assesses are eligible for health insurance. Landless agricultural labourers are also eligible. Krushak Sathi of Agriculture Department will identify the farmers and the village agriculture worker (VLW) and agricultural overseer who will work as field key officer (FKO) will approve the list. Beneficiaries from allied activities like dairy farming, sericulture, fisheries will be identified by field level officials concerned. Smart cards will be provided to all the enrolled families. The members of the farmer families enrolled under the scheme will be provided cashless treatment in the empanelled hospitals. The hospitals will provide the cost of treatment and surgery which will be reimbursed to them. District level grievance redressal committees will be constituted in each district with district magistrate or ADM as chairman, District Key Manager as Convener, Chief District Medical Officer and representative of the concerned insurance company as the members. (New Indian Express 2/8/13)

36. 18,228 cattle killed, 20,000 hectares of agriculture land damaged in Uttarakhand (20)
DEHRADUN: About 18,228 cattle were killed and 20,000 hectares of agricultural land was severely damaged in the deluge that struck Uttarakhand’sRudrapryag, Chamoli and Uttarkashi districts on June 16 and June 17. The information was released on Sunday by Uttarkhand principal secretary (agriculture) Ranvir Singh. Chief secretary Subhash Kumar said residents at different catastrophe-struck areas had suffered losses of over 10 lakh, with their animals being washed away. Kumar said fodder is being air-dropped to feed surviving cattle in about 200 cut off villages. “Air-dropping maximum quantity of fodder to domestic animals is on the list of priorities and we are committed to ensure the safety of these animals at any cost,” he said. Kumar said at a meeting of National Agriculture Development Scheme that 93 crores were sanctioned for 13 new self-employment related schemes under state government including fisheries, animal husbandry, dairy, organic farming to compensate for the losses that occurred due to the catastrophe. (Times of India 5/8/13)

37. Highest Farmer Suicides This Year in Maharashtra: Pawar (20)
New Delhi: Maharashtra witnessed 37 farmer suicides — the highest among all states — due to agrarian reasons till March this calendar year, Agricultural Minister Sharad Pawar informed Parliament today. Seven farmers in Karnataka committed suicides for the same reason till June this fiscal year while the number for Andhra Pradesh is 3 till July this calendar year and Kerala just one, Pawar told Lok Sabha. No such incidents has been reported from other state governments and union territories, he added. In the whole of last year, 755 farmers had committed suicide due to agrarian reasons, Pawar said. The Minister said the government has announced several measures to mitigate the hardships faced by farmers, including Rehabilitation Package of Rs 19,998 crore covering 31 suicide-prone districts in these four states. Other packages have been announced to mitigate agrarian distress in some states. The Minister said that the government’s focus is primarily on expansion of farm income, creation of non-farm income opportunities, improvement in productivity of rain-fed agriculture and increasing coverage of farm areas under protective irrigation. (Outlook 6/8/13)

38. Sikh farmers of Kutch meet Manmohan, Sonia (20)
JALANDHAR: The issue of eviction of Sikh famers from Kutch region of Gujarat reached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday as a delegation of affected farmers met with senior Congress leaders from Punjab. The PM asked Union law minister Kapil Sibal to look into the issue and extend legal support to these farmers from Punjab and Haryana in the Supreme Court where a petition, filed by the Gujarat government on the issue, is scheduled for hearing on August 27. The affected farmers were taken to PM and UPA chairperson by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa and six MPs from the state, including two Union ministers of state, and one from Haryana. Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has already made it clear that he would wait for the decision of the apex court even as Punjab unit of BJP and its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal wanted his government to withdraw the case. “The Prime Minister assured that their case would be contested by the best lawyers in the Supreme Court,” Bajwa said after meeting Manmohan and Sonia. “The PM heard us patiently and assured that our interests would be guarded, and we shall be provided best legal support,” said Surinder Singh Bhullar, one of the six farmers, who were part of the delegation. “Sonia also issued directions to Gujarat Congress president and asked him to assure all support to the farmers of Kutch region and champion their cause strongly in every forum,” revealed Lachhman Singh Brar, another farmer. Bajwa apprised the PM that these farmers were invited by the then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri after the 1965 India-Pakistan war to make the land cultivable and help guard the country’s borders. Bajwa also told the PM that proceedings initiated by the Modi government against these farmers reflected his anti-minority and anti-farmer mindset and demolished his bogus claims of development. Bajwa further told PM that Modi’s divisive politics were danger to the unity and integrity of the country. Leaders who accompanied Bajwa included ministers Preneet Kaur and Santosh Chaudhary, MPs Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Sukhdev Singh Libra, Vijay Inder Singla, Ravneet Singh Bittu, all from Punjab, and Deepender Singh Hooda of Haryana. (Times of India 7/8/13)

39. High growth led to rapid decline in poverty.. (21)
When poverty levels shrink dramatically on a government’s beat, one expects it to shout that out from the rooftops. But the UPA marches to a different drummer. When growth was going strong, the National Advisory Council was commissioned to push an inclusive agenda, as if growth and inclusiveness were at odds. When that period of high growth reduced poverty at an unprecedented pace, many UPA spokespersons joined ranks with the opposition, simplistically decrying the existing poverty line as a cruel joke on the poor. Interestingly it’s the deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission who has made the case UPA politicians have strangely eschewed. From 2004-05 to 2011-12 poverty fell by 2.24% annually as against 0.74% in the preceding NDA regime. In absolute numbers the number of poor fell by 138 million during these seven years, an Indian and even a world record. Similar achievements by China are celebrated by the world as well as by all political denominations in India. Far from being a statistical fudge, today’s poverty line meets international benchmarks and also makes allowances for variation across states. Redefining it upwards again — as is being sought to be done by the revised Rangarajan formula whose results are still unavailable — would bump up absolute numbers of poor, but won’t significantly affect the percentage decline in poverty during the first seven years of UPA rule. To be sure that achievement is likely eroded by uncontrolled inflation in the last couple of years, but that analysis can await the next set of NSSO data. So why does the government appear uninterested in celebrating and more interested in cavilling at the new data? An obvious answer is that it sees the food security Bill and other sops as its most promising cards for elections around the corner, and it can’t justify expanding subsidies to 70% of Indians if only 22% of them are poor. It’s as if the political class, which sees itself as patron saints of the poor, feels short-changed if fewer of their wards were to be around. But this is dangerous reasoning. The need to target subsidies sharply at the extremely poor instead of spreading them across various voting blocks through an elaborate charade of pro-poor policymaking is becoming ever more urgent, with subsidy bills weighing heavily on a slowing growth cycle and thus condemning more people to poverty. (Times of India 1/8/13)

40. 21% of Chandigarh population living below poverty line (21)
Chandigarh: As many as 2.35 lakh people in Chandigarh survive on less than Rs 1,155 per capita per month. In a city that boasts one of the highest per capita vehicle density and ranks among the highest per capita income, 21.8 per cent of the population is below poverty line as per the data released recently by the Planning Commission. In fact, among the Union Territories, Chandigarh ranks the second highest in the number of people below poverty line after Dadra and Nagar Haveli. The nationwide survey was conducted by National Sample Survey Office of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The people below poverty line have been ascertained on the basis of per capita per month expenditure. Poverty line of Punjab has been used for both rural and urban areas of Chandigarh. For urban areas, it has been taken as Rs 1,155 while for the rural areas, it is Rs 1,054. As per the Census 2011 figures, Chandigarh has a population of 10.55 lakh people. Of these, 97 per cent reside in urban areas, including sectors and colonies. The remaining are in the rural areas. As per the data of the Planning Commission, 2.34 lakh people or 22.31 per cent population in the urban areas is below poverty line. In the rural areas, 1.64 per cent people are below poverty line. This implies that a total of 2.35 lakh people or 21.8 per cent are in the category of poor. During the last Lok Sabha elections in 2009, as many as 29 per cent of the voting population was in colonies while 57 per cent was in sectors. There are a large number of slums that have cropped up in the city over a period of time. Despite rehabilitation schemes being floated time and again, the city has not been able to get rid of the slums… (Indian Express 2/8/13)

41. Rupee to strengthen as dollar seen weak after jobs data: Experts (21)
MUMBAI: The rupee is likely to claw its way back to 60-level this week helped by the recent measures taken by RBI coupled with a weak dollar after US jobs data eased concerns over early withdrawal of easy money by the US Fed, say bankers and analysts. Treasury officials of various banks see the rupee appreciating to the 60-level this week. The rupee fell 67 paise on Friday to record closing low of 61.10 against the dollar. The previous record low closing was 60.72 on June 26. The rupee touched an all-time intra-day low of 61.21 against the greenback on July 8, which forced the central bank to unleash a slew of measures from July 15. “With non-farm payroll data in the US coming out to be weak, the dollar will remain under pressure,” Mohan Shenoi, president for Group Treasury at Kotak Mahindra Bank, told PTI. The US non-farm payroll data, which indicates the number of people on the payrolls of all non-agricultural businesses, rose by 1,62,000 in July, but is lower than analysts’ expectation of 1,84,000 and compared to 1,88,000 additions the previous month. Lesser number of people getting new jobs indicates that the world’s largest economy is far from recovery and the Federal Reserve has to continue to support the economy for longer time. US Fed Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke on May 22 had stated that he might start turning off the easy money tap if economic conditions improve earlier-than-expected and put a September-December deadline to begin the tapering. Later, in June he had said the US Fed would unwind quantitative easing by mid-2014, which led to a massive slide in the rupee which has fallen over 10 per cent in 3 months. “RBI measures will help rupee to appreciate,” Central Bank of India general manager (treasury), Ramesh Singh said. The rupee is likely to be under pressure in the near term but it will appreciate a little from the current level to around 57.5 against the US dollar by the end of this fiscal, according to research firm D&B. External market volatility and high current account deficit (CAD) are still weighing on the currency and will keep it under pressure, it said. “By this calendar year-end, rupee is likely to be around $58.5 to $59, while by March 2014 it is likely to be $57.5,” global research firm Dun & Bradstreet senior economist Arun Singh told PTI. To save the battered rupee, which is the worst performing unit among the Asian currencies, the RBI had announced various liquidity measures previous month that helped reduce speculation and rupee volatility. (Times of India 5/8/13)

42. ‘Plan panel shouldn’t fix poverty figures’ (21)
NEW DELHI: Eliminating Planning Commission’s role in etching the poverty line and instead tasking expert government agencies to determine India’s below poverty line population may help depoliticize the exercise, a former top NSSO official has said. Former director-general of National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO) Jogeshwar Dash feels the Planning Commission’s mandate of framing policy clashes with estimating poverty ratios that are an outcome of strategies the panel devises. “Poverty ratios are outcome parameters. Both monitoring and measuring results should not be the job of one organization,” said Dash, who headed NSSO till July, 2012. The former official said controversies kicked up by poverty line estimates has convinced him that the formula adopted by the planning commission in assessing the poverty line is vulnerable to political attacks that force the panel to junk the figures almost as soon as they are released. “It would be much better if the national statistical commission took over the task of computing poverty ratios independently,” he said. Rather than formulae based on purchasing power parity and weighted indices, NSS data on consumption expenditure according to decile class of population and reports on nutritional intake can provide a straight forward estimate of poverty. “Rough estimates derived from NSS report on nutritional intake suggest that rural and urban poverty ratios calculated from a calorie intake of 2,400 and 2,100 a day, respectively, are 43.9 for rural and 27.7 urban in 2009-10,” Dash said. These ratios are much higher than the Planning Commission’s latest estimate that 22% of India’s population is below the poverty line. Panel members have said while the number of people below the poverty line went up marginally between 1993-94 and 2004-05, they fell dramatically from 41 crore in 2004-05 to 27 crore in 2011-12. This method means a dramatic increase in the number of poor, but a measure based on calorific intake of population segments may be a more accurate pointer than a complex calculation of minimum expenditure to make ends meet. The poverty line of Rs 29 a day and the reduction of the calorific bar for individual consumption has proved problematic with the planning commission coming under all around attack, even from within the Congress. Instead of being forced to issue clarifications and disclaimers that the poverty line is not a benchmark for access to benefits, a more transparent calculation based on publicly available date may make the BPL computation more believable. (Times of India 6/8/13)

43. Sangh Parivar starts oiling poll machine (26)
NEW DELHI: A meeting of top BJP and RSS leaders on Thursday discussed coordination between Sangh Parivar outfits and likely poll issues in a bid to increase synergies ahead of forthcoming assembly and Lok Sabha polls with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi outlining the importance of reaching out to all saffron sympathisers. Modi stressed short time lines ahead of the Lok Sabha election and told the meeting about the importance of social media and all manner of interest groups that can be aligned with BJP and can be tapped for their unhappiness with the current government at the Centre. As head of BJP’s campaign committee and the party’s likely prime ministerial nominee, Modi chose to cover the nitty-gritty of election management in detail at the fairly lengthy discussion. BJP chief Rajnath Singh said the meeting did not discuss any leadership issues such as formalizing the candidature of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi as the saffron prime ministerial nominee. “These meetings aimed at improving coordination are held every three four months. Today we discussed economic, social and security issues. The issue of PM candidate was not discussed,” Singh said. The meeting was attended by Modi, leaders of opposition in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley while RSS leaders present included general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi, joint general secretary Suresh Soni, besides Dattatray Hosbole and Krishan Gopal. Discussions focused on maximizing the gains of involving all Sangh organizations like VHP and Bajrang Dal that have sometimes been not just adrift but at loggerheads with BJP. The intent was to ensure a high degree of coordination and reduction of personality clashes with the saffron family. The coordination will become more crucial as BJP seeks to fine tune its poll message nearer to elections when its stress on “development” issues might be at cross purposes with the deeper Hindutva hues of VHP and Bajrang Dal. A level of coordination will allow saffron outfits to work their constituencies with the overall objective of ensuring a BJP victory in the Lok Sabha election. Modi’s expected projection can help the process as he is seen to enjoy the support of VHP veterans like Ashok Singhal although other leaders like Praveen Togadia do not share a rapport with the Gujarat CM. The BJP chief said after the meeting that concerns over an economic crisis gripping the country as well as threats to internal and external security came up for discussion. “We discussed today what our role should be in such a situation,” Singh said. (Times of India 2/8/13)

44. VHP gives yatra call, revives Ram Mandir (26)
New Delhi: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad Saturday announced a yatra between August 25 and September 13 around the “scriptural/traditional spirituo-cultural boundary of Ayodhya”— popularly known as the 84-Kos Parikrama — by spritual leaders from across the country. “Sants from all the states would participate in the Parikrama Yatra,” it said. “This yatra is being undertaken for the cause of peace and dharma jagaran ….We would therefore request the UP government and the administration not to allow any obstruction to this yatra or obstruct it themselves.” VHPpatron Ashok Singhal and Chimayanand Saraswati said in a joint statement. (Indian Express 4/8/13)

45. ‘RSS propaganda hits Cong’s Muslim plans’ (26)
NEW DELHI: Muslims think Congress is “defensive and apologetic” about their welfare because of RSS propaganda, minority affairs minister Rahman Khan has told the Congress leadership, urging a course correction to bridge the trust deficit with the community. The minister said Congress turns uptight whenever a demand for job reservation for Muslims is raised or discrimination against them is pointed out, blaming the conservative attitude for government’s failure on multiple fronts — communal violence bill, reservation for Muslims, promotion of Muslim institutions and increasing Muslim representation in legislatures. He said the non-performance on key electoral promises has led to doubts in the community about the Congress’s sincerity to the welfare agenda. Attributing the reality check to feedback from Muslim organizations, leaders and intellectuals with whom he has been interacting since taking over as minority affairs minister, Khan urged Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that these grievances be addressed and even accommodated in the 2014 manifesto. The advocacy for boldness on Muslim agenda from Congress’s listening post for minorities comes amid speculation on how Narendra Modi’s projection as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate would play out in the elections, with the latter already giving a Hindutva edge to his campaign. The fear of being trapped for “Muslim appeasement” has long played on Congress minds in its bid to espouse a muscular minority agenda. Khan told Rahul that failure to provide job reservation to Muslims flew in the face of discrimination faced by the community. “There is a feeling among Muslims that the government has succumbed to the lobby of communal forces and is afraid of taking a decision to provide reservation to Muslims,” he said. Khan said the government’s reluctance to take a definite stand on these issues even led to “judicial pronouncements sometime getting influenced by the strong propaganda of the RSS and other such organizations…” Referring to his interactions with Muslim principals, Khan said the community believes even the freedom to propagate religion is shackled by the fear of being called a “fundamentalist” with suspicion of promoting terrorism. A major grievance is the dwindling political representation of Muslims because the seats with community presence have been reserved for SCs and STs. The note to Rahul said “90% seats” from where Muslims could easily get elected to assemblies and Parliament were reserved. Blaming the recent redrawing of constituencies, the community is said to feel that presence of a Muslim in the Delimitation Commission would have safeguarded their interest. (Times of India 6/8/13)

Posted by admin at 5 August 2013

Category: Uncategorized

1. Activists petition PM against amending RTI (1)
New Delhi: Aruna Roy-led National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI ) on Tuesday launched an online campaign against plans to amend RTI Act to insulate political parties. In the petition addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the activists said a series of attempts to amend the Act have been made periodically since 2006 but it has been nullified to a large extent due to public pressure. The petition said there are reports about the government considering the introduction of a bill in Parliament to amend the RTI law as a reaction to the recent Central Information Commission order, which declared six political parties to be public authorities under the RTI Act. “Such a move to amend the Act will reinforce and confirm the suspicions of many that the political establishment intends to cover acts of corruption and arbitrary use of power,” the petition said. It said India’s governance is going through a credibility crisis as never before, in which all sectors of governance and social formations have been suspect. The political establishment has come in for most severe criticism, just and unjust, it added. “We, as citizens of India, empowered by the RTI Act, demand that it should not be amended. The Act has enabled the making of informed choices and strengthened participatory democracy; by enabling the citizens to monitor and access services throughout the country. Any amendment to the RTI Act would undermine and weaken the process of realising various constitutional promises,” the petition said. Last week, a group of eminent citizens, including former Delhi Chief Justice A P Shah and ex-CIC Shailesh Gandhi, have appealed to MPs not to vote for such a move in Parliament. (Deccan Herald 31/7/13)

2. Cabinet to discuss amendments to RTI Act to keep political parties out (1)
The Union Cabinet will on Thursday discuss the amendment to the Right To Information (RTI) Act to keep political parties out of its ambit. The Cabinet will seek to ratify the amendments proposed which is likely to be notified as an ordinance. Most political parties have given its nod to the amendment. The move comes after the Central Information Commission (CIC) last month held that six national parties the Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP are substantially funded indirectly by the Central government and are required to appoint Public Information Officers as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act. Government sources had said that the Law Ministry had earlier cleared the ordinance route to amend the Right to Information Act but since the dates of the Monsoon session have already been announced and some parties have expressed uneasiness over supporting the ordinance route, it had been decided to bring a bill before Parliament instead. Cabinet to discuss amendments to RTI Act to keep political parties out The Cabinet will seek to ratify the amendments proposed which is likely to be notified as an ordinance. Sources had claimed that back channel talks with all major parties had concluded. BJP had maintained that it will be difficult for them to support the Ordinance route to amend the RTI Act because they were opposing the Ordinance on food security. At the same time, they had said that they would support amendments, if they were brought in form of a bill in the upcoming session beginning August 5, highly-placed sources in the government had said. The amendments state that declaring political parties as public authorities under the Right to Information Act would “hamper their smooth internal functioning since it will encourage political rivals to file RTI applications with malicious intentions”.They maintained that the Representation of the People Act and the Income Tax Act provide sufficient transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties, it was learnt. Under Section 2 of the RTI Act, the definition of public authority in the proposed amendment will make it clear that “it shall not include any political party registered under the Representation of the Peoples Act”, the sources had said. (CNN-IBN 1/8/13)

3. Activists plan to oppose changes in RTI Act (1)
NEW DELHI: Civil society activists are gearing up for an offensive against the government’s proposed legislation to exclude political parties from the ambit of the RTI Act. Besides petitions to parliamentarians, the PM and the President urging them not to support the amendments, activists plan to hold protest demonstrations and even challenge the legislation in court as a last resort. The Union Cabinet on Thursday cleared two amendments to the transparency Act to counter the Central Information Commission (CIC) June 3 order that the six national political parties — Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPM — were public authorities. The bill is likely to be brought in the monsoon session of Parliament starting on Monday. Despite a series of petitions to MPs and PM Manmohan Singh signed by eminent citizens including Aruna Roy, Shailesh Gandhi, Shekhar Singh and others, the government is fairly confident of smooth passage of the RTI bill. Activists plan to challenge the proposed legislation on the grounds that it is against the constitutional right to freedom of speech. There has been a precedent earlier when the Supreme Court struck down an amendment to the Representation of People’s Act in 2002 and directed candidates to submit their financial details and criminal antecedents before the Election Commission of India. SC said the amendment was in violation of the constitutional right to freedom of speech. Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) co-founder Prof Jagdeep Chhokar said, “We hope RTI Act is not passed and wise counsel prevails on the lawmakers. In the unfortunate event that it is passed by Parliament, it will be challenged in court of law. The exact nature of which will depend on the specific wording of the amendments.” Activists said there was a clear case of conflict of interest with MPs seeking to exclude themselves from the transparency Act. The National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) plans a protest demonstration on August 6 at Jantar Mantar to voice their concern against the government’s decision. RTI activist S C Agrawal said if political parties were trying to escape scrutiny of the RTI Act, they should also return land and accommodation allotted by the central and state governments at subsidized costs and tax concessions to political parties must be abolished. (Times of India 3/8/13)

4. Probe against babu for giving confidential info under RTI (1)
MUMBAI: A former key home department official is facing a departmental inquiry for revealing confidential information under the Right To Information (RTI) Act. S B Pawaskar had allegedly furnished confidential information pertaining to the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) following an RTI request from an activist, said an official. The matter came to light when the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) learnt that the RTI activist had used the confidential information in a Supreme Court case. The CEIB then alerted the state government and sought action against the official. “As the information available with the CEIB comes under the classified category, the bureau is exempted from the purview of the RTI Act. The Maharashtra government should initiate action against the erring official,” states a letter written by a joint secretary in the government of India. The CEIB is the nodal agency for economic intelligence to ensure effective coordination among concerned agencies that look into economic offences. Following the letter, the home department proposed a departmental inquiry against Pawaskar, which was approved by home minister R R Patil in the last week of July. A senior home department official said, “Giving information under the RTI is the job of the administration. But one cannot reveal confidential information. After preliminary inquiry revealed that Pawaskar had not followed all the rules, a departmental probe was initiated against him.” Pawaskar, who was transferred to the agriculture department five months ago, said, “To the best of my knowledge, I had followed all the procedures wh-ile sharing such crucial information. I would not like to comment further. Whatever I have to say, I will table it before the government and not the media.” IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh said action can be taken against an officer only if it is found that he shared the information with mala fide intention. “After the RTI Act came into effect, the government appointed information officers in each department. But many officers lack basic knowledge of dos and dont’s under the RTI. Instead of taking action against the official, the administration should focus on training officers to avoid a repeat of such incidents.”The Case Under-secretary (state home dept) S B Pawaskar had allegedly furnished confidential information pertaining to the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act following an RTI request from an activist. The activist used the information in a Supreme Court case, following which the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) alerted the state government and sought action against Pawaskar. A preliminary probe revealed that Pawaskar had not followed all the rules and a departmental was initiated against him .. (Times of India 5/8/13)

5. IB officer to face CBI again in fake encounters probe (1)
Ahmedabad: Intelligence Bureau (IB) special director Rajinder Kumar, who is superannuating today, will face a fresh round of questioning by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Ishrat Jahan and Sadiq Jamal fake encounter cases. A CBI official, involved in the agency’s probe into cases of fake encounters in Gujarat, said that the Kumar “will be called for interrogation very soon” in the “fake encounter killings” which have rocked the nation and taken overt political tones in recent times. Kumar, a 1979 batch IPS officer of Manipur-Tripura cadre, allegedly supplied information that led to the encounter killings of Mumbai college student Ishrat Jahan and three other s, who were gunned down by Ahmedabad police in June 2004. He is also a suspect in the killing of Sadiq Jamal, who was illegally detained and shot dead in January 2003. The CBI and the IB have been at loggerheads over bringing Kumar and to book to avoid further friction, the agency had been waiting for Kumar’s retirement to charge-sheet him in the case. Last week, Kumar was forced to go on leave till his retirement. The CBI charge sheet in the Ishrat Jahan case–filed in the first week of July–described the staged killings of four persons as a “joint operation of IB and Gujarat police”. Though the charge sheet did not name Kumar as an accused, the CBI claimed his alleged involvement in procuring prior custody of the deceased, keeping them in illegal confinement and supplying an AK-56 rifle which was planted on the deceased when they were gunned down by Ahmedabad crime branch cops. Following the charge sheet, the ministry of home affairs had told Rajinder Kumar to stop attending office till his retirement on July 31. The CBI had questioned Kumar twice earlier in the Ishrat case and the agency is said to have gathered “crucial evidence” like sworn testimonies of witnesses, who have narrated the role played by Kumar and his subordinate IB officials in the Gujarat unit of the IB. In the supplementary charge sheet in the case, the CBI is likely to name Kumar as an accused in the Ishrat case. Kumar was heading the subsidiary intelligence bureau in Gujarat from 2001 to 2005 as joint director. The CBI’s efforts to nail Kumar were frustrated by the IB, which mounted pressure on the ministry of home affairs, PMO and the CBI director contending that the probe against IB officials would have far-reaching repercussions pertaining to national security. “We have sound evidence on Rajinder Kumar’s role in both the cases. His alleged involvement is not limited to generating a false alert. He was involved in procuring prior custody of the victims in both cases,” the CBI official added. In the case of Sadiq Jamal, Rajinder Kumar had generated an alert profiling Sadiq as a LeT terrorist despite the fact that Gujarat police had re-verified the claim and reported that he was not associated with any such outfit.
“There are statements given by Gujarat police officials who had verified following the IB tip-off and yet Sadiq was killed based on the alert generated by Kumar,” the CBI official involved said. (Hindustan Times 31/7/13)

6. Ishrat Jahan case: Gujarat IPS officer Amin moves Supreme Court for quashing charges (1)
New Delhi: Suspended Gujarat cadre IPS officer NK Amin, arrested in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, today moved the Supreme Court for quashing of charges against him. A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam posted the matter for hearing on August 6 after Amin’s counsel Mahesh Jethmalani mentioned the petition for early hearing. CBI, on July 3, had filed a charge sheet against seven police officers including Amin, accusing them of murder and criminal conspiracy regarding the encounter killing of 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Zeeshan Johar and Amjad Ali Rana on the outskirts of Ahmedabad in 2004. Amin is also an accused in the killing of Sohrabuddin Shaikh in a fake encounter and was granted bail by theBombay High Court and the CBI has challenged it in the apex court. While  Amin was on bail, the CBI had arrested him in connection with Ishrat Jahan case on April 4. The arrested police officer has applied for bail in the Ishrat Jahan case before the Gujarat High Court which had sought response from the CBI. CBI in its charge sheet has said the encounter was fake and had been carried out jointly by Gujarat police and IB. Suspended IPS officer GL Singhal, retired DSP JG Parmar, Mehsana DySP Tarun Barot and commando Anaju Chaudhary were granted default bail by the Special CBI court here after the probe agency failed to file the charge sheet in the case within the stipulated 90 days of their arrest. Amin is accused of abducting Ishrat and Sheikh from Vasad two days prior to the killing and firing the shots during the “so-called encounter”. (NDTV 2/8/13)

7. Panel suggests setting up more children’s courts (1)
PANAJI: A two-member bench of the Goa State Human Rights Commission (GSHRC) has recommended the State Government to set up more fulltime children’s courts to deal with criminal cases where victims were children below 18 and to facilitate early and speedy trial. The Commission’s recommendation came in the wake of an application dated July 8 , made by a prisoner Rohan Pai Dhungat languishing in Sada Sub-jail cum judicial lock-up for seven years along with three others facing trial in Goa Children’s Court in a murder case. Further, the Commission’s elaborate order said that since the accused applicant was not in a position to avail the remedy of invoking the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 136 of the Constitution or under Article 32, it was forwarding a copy of the same to the Registrar General (RG) of the Supreme Court so that the Court may consider the application as a petition the above sections and also consider if appropriate directions should be issued to establish more children’s courts by the State and that such courts should function on a regular basis. In his application, forwarded by the Superintendent of the Dhungat sub-jail said that he and three others were languished in custody for about seven years under various sections of the Goa Children’s Act and further alleged that delay in trial was tantamount to violation of human rights. The order of the Commission noted that the ‘roznama’ of the trial court indicted that the mater had been posted on about 219 occasions till April 8 and had been adjourned on 15 occasions. The Commission further noted that 90 per cent of adjournments were on account of lack of cooperation of the prosecution or lack of time on the part of the trial court. The Commission noted that there was only one Children’s Court established for the entire State and that 213 cases were pending before the said court which functions only once a week. Since many of the cases involve commission of offences under Section 302 of the IPC or other serious allegations, bail is not granted to the accused persons as a result of which many accused persons were rotting in jail without trial being completed for a number of years. Considering the fact that right to speedy trial was a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution as highlighted by the Supreme Court on several occasions, it emphasised on the need for establishing more children’s courts and appointing presiding judges to deal with only such matters on a full time basis. It, therefore, recommended to the State government to take immediate steps to expedite disposal of cases coming under the Children’s Court. The copy of the order was also sent to the State Chief Secretary and the Registrar General of the Supreme Court for initiating appropriate action. (The Hindu 3/8/13)

8. Custodial death case: Court rejects Sanjiv Bhatt’s plea (1)
A local court on Saturday rejected suspended IPS officer Sanjeev Bhatt’s application seeking departmental notes pertaining to the refusal of permission by Gujarat government in 1990 to prosecute him in connection with the Jamjodhpur custodial death case. Bhatt had sought the departmental notes under sections 91 and 207 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). Sessions court judge M M Solanki on Saturday rejected Bhatt’s plea on the ground that the documents sought by the IPS officer like departmental notes signed by superior authorities cannot be availed under the said sections. The case dates back to 1990 when Bhatt was posted as the Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) in Jamnagar. He had detained around 150 persons during a communal riot in Jamjodhpur town. One of the detained persons Prabhudas Vaishnani died in a hospital after his release, allegedly due to torture. A complaint of custodial death was registered against eight policemen, including Bhatt, by Amrutlal Vaishnani, the brother of the deceased. Bhatt and other policemen were accused of beating up Prabhudas. The accused had raised objection against the complaint under section 197 of CrPC under which the state government’s permission is mandatory before booking any official under any charge. The state government had not granted its nod for the same at that time, but later gave the permission for prosecution of Bhatt and others after he filed an affidavit in Supreme Court against the role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2002 riots. (Indian Express 4/8/130

9. Endosulfan: Government allows pregnant women to get scanned for free (3)
MANGALORE: No sooner than the Endosulfan Virodhi Horatha Samiti warned of a massive protest in front of the district health office if the state government fails to start free scanning facility for population affected by endosulfan poisoning within a week, the latter gave the nod to start free scanning at one of the private clinics in Puttur. The free scanning is offered under Centre’s Janani-Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (J-SSK) at Divya Scanning Centre. Dr Prakash from Kokkada Primary Health Centre said that for Kokkada PHC an agreement has done with the Divya Scanning centre. Other PHC where endosulfan cases may soon have agreements with others,” he said. He said that annually PHC gets about 600 pregnancy cases. “The pregnant women who want to undergo scanning should get take the scanning request from our PHC and they will get it done free,” he added. Udupi Human Rights Protection Foundation President Dr Ravindranath Shanbhag said: “We definitely welcome the move, but it is unfortunate that only victims’ in Kokkada PHC are eligible for this as far I know.” Dr Shanbhag said: Since the order is not in writing this may be a temporary move to stop victims from launching a protest. Dr Prakash was not available for comments to affirm whether he has received the order in writing from the district health office regarding this. (Times of India 26/7/13)

10. ‘Hepatitis kills more than one million every year’ (3)
KANPUR: One in 12 people worldwide are suffering from chronic hepatitis B or C and yet majority of those infected are unaware. Concerned over prevailing ignorance about this chronic disease the WHO authorities gave two themes to ‘World Hepatitis Day-2013′. The first theme is focusing on ‘Know it and Confront it’ and the second is ‘See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil’. World Hepatitis day is celebrated on July 28 every year all across the world. Hepatitis is a dreaded disease that’s more rampant than HIV and asthma. Millions of people around the globe are battling through various types of Hepatitis among which hepatitis B and C are most fatal. The most discreet liver disease known to mankind is hepatitis. Hepatitis is a medical condition in, which your liver stops working and can also lead to cirrhosis or even cancer. Hepatitis is mainly of 5 types which, are caused by virus A, B, C, D and E but mostly the liver damage is caused by the 3 main viruses that are A, B and C. “Hepatitis kills more than one million people every year. World Hepatitis Day provides an opportunity to recognise hepatitis as a major global health problem in order to advance prevention and control,” said Dr Shailendra Tiwari of Ursula Horseman Hospital. “Studies show that 70% of Hepatitis patients get to know of symptoms only at a later stage when they start having symptoms like fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, dark urine, jaundice etc,” said Dr Shailendra. Dr Anil Nigam, another physician said that ‘Hepatitis Day’ is observed mainly to mark (chronic) hepatitis B and C, because these are the ones that can lead to long-term liver damage (cirrhosis and liver cancer). Patients with hepatitis B and C usually harbour the virus silently, till the liver is damaged permanently years later. The experts warned the city people to avoid going to outside barber shops for shaving and haircut who do not ensure proper hygiene. The experts also cautioned the females to avoid getting tattooing and piercing in their bodies unless the methods of making tattoo and piercing are not fully hygienic. According to the experts even blood transfusion should be done rarely. People should avoid wearing undergarments of family members or even siblings as the hepatitis virus can be found in the blood, semen, vaginal discharge, breast milk, and saliva. Those who are chronic drinkers or taking any type of alcohol are under serious risk of hepatitis. Knowing the seriousness of the disease the government is also keeping extra vigil on the Hepatitis vaccinations given to kids upto the age of one year but the hepatitis precautionary measures for elder people are negligible in government schemes. “It is true that most of us are unaware about Hepatitis and I guess the themes of the Hepatitis Day this year will spread more awareness than it has ever did,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr RP Yadav. (Times of India 28/7/13)

11. Baby food giants mislead mothers about breastfeeding: NGO (3)
New Delhi, July 31 : Putting profit before an infant’s health, many baby food giants promote supplementary baby food, mislead mothers, undermine breastfeeding and natural foods, an NGO said Wednesday. “Putting profits before children’s health, baby food giants like Nestle, Heinz and Abott woo mothers to give their supplementary food through the label on the container and various websites from four months which is unhealthy and unscientific as it can lead to health risks, including diarrhoea,” Arun Gupta, co-ordinator of the NGO, Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI), and member of the Prime Minister’s Council on India’s Nutrition Challenges said. BPNI said Nestle Nutrition Institute is continuing to organise doctors’ meetings despite objections from the government. Heinz asks new mothers to give cereal food “Oat and Apple” to more than four-month baby through container label and various websites. Abbott claims brain development and promotes a product ‘Similac advance infant formula stage 1″ for babies up to six months and “Similac infant formula stage one” for zero to six months babies. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that artificial feeding is an established risk factor for child’s health, causing diarrhoea, respiratory or newborn infections, allergies as well as obesity and adult health diseases like diabetes and heart disease. “While attending a workshop during my pregnancy days on labour and delivery organised by my hospital, I was surprised to see promotion of baby feeding products. Such promotions, particularly through web and at hospital settings, affect the choice of young parents and influence them to adopt artificial feeding, harmful for babies,” Institute of Home Economics (Delhi University) assistant professor Yuki Azad said. “In a country like India where clean drinking water is not available, a bottle-fed baby is more likely to die of diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections than breastfeed babies. Why on earth government of India should allow this?” asked Azad. BPNI also asked the government to strictly enforce the IMS Act (Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution Act, 1992) and Amendment Act, 2003. “There should be ‘zero tolerance’ for misleading mothers in the interest of children’s health and survival and the government should ensure that such violations end,” BPNI national coordinator J.P. Dadhich said. The IMS Act bans all kinds of baby food and feeding bottle promotion, including advertisements, inducements on sales, pecuniary benefits to doctors or their associations, including sponsorship, commission to salesmen, and prescribe labelling requirements for babies aged zero to two years. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s high time that government puts effective enforcement machinery in place to monitor and implement IMS Act right at the district and state levels,” Gupta said. (New Kerala 31/7/13)

12. Child death rates on rise in Kashmir hospital (3)
Srinagar: The death rate among children admitted to Kashmir’s only paediatric hospital is on the rise, contrary to the claims made by the state government about improvement in health care facilities here. In its report on infant mortality rate submitted before the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the medical superintendent has noted that the death rate among children admitted to GB Pant Hospital for three-month period from April to June this year has risen to 5.44 per cent compared to 3.5 per cent for the same period last year. The number of deaths during the three-month period has remained constant at 269 for both the years but the increase in death rate has been due to reduction in the number of patients admitted to the hospital. In fact, the death rate for a particular month at the hospital crossed six per cent in June this year for the first time since the hospital was established over eight years ago. The increase in death rate comes as a surprise as both the state government and the Centre took several steps to improve the functioning of the hospital in the wake of public outcry over what was projected as high number of deaths among the patients in the hospital. Union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had announced free treatment of neonates admitted at the hospital from the first day of its life to completion of one month. Chief minister Omar Abdullah started monitoring the functioning of the hospital personally. While only 5,000 patients were admitted to the hospital from April 1 to June 30, more than 7,600 children were treated in the in-patient department in the corresponding period last year. (Deccan Herald 2/8/13)

13. Curbs on surrogate births on table (3)
New Delhi, Aug. 4 (PTI): Indian women cannot act as surrogate mothers for more than three births, including those of their own children, a draft bill to regulate the country’s burgeoning wombs-for-rent industry has proposed. The Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) bill also proposes that surrogate mothers should have a mandatory two-year interval between deliveries, whether of surrogate babies or their own children. After the health ministry receives comments on the draft from other key ministries, the bill would be sent to the law ministry before being placed before the cabinet. India now lacks any supervisory body that can monitor ART clinics and ensure that surrogate mothers are not exploited. “We want to protect the health and safeguard the rights of women who serve as surrogate mothers while allowing infertile couples to make use of regulated ART services,” a senior official said. Under the draft bill’s provisions, no woman younger than 21 or older than 35 can act as a surrogate mother. It proposes that all her expenses, including her insurance, be borne by the infertile couple. A surrogate mother, before being hired, must be medically tested for sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. The bill comes at a time of increasing popularity for surrogacy, with film stars like Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan opting for the method. The draft bill says a surrogate mother has the right to terminate her pregnancy at any time but if she does so without medical reasons, she will have to reimburse the cost to the infertile couple that hired her. Also, a surrogate mother must relinquish all parental rights over the child. Foreign couples seeking to hire surrogates in India must first give a certificate from their foreign ministry stating the child would be allowed to enter their country of origin and be considered the couple’s biological child, the draft says. “A foreign couple seeking a surrogate service in India will have to appoint a local guardian to care for the surrogate mother till the child is delivered to the hiring couple…. In case the foreign couple fails to take delivery of the child, the local guardian would be obliged to take the said delivery and he would be free to hand over the child in adoption,” the draft law states. (The Telegraph 5/8/13)

14.  SAI seeks to weed out corruption (5)
NEW DELHI: The Sports Authority of India (SAI) is working on implementing an ambitious project — e-tender procurement — to clamp down on corruption within the sports body. In his bid to make SAI more effective in its functioning, the SAI director general is working on launching the ‘e-tender procurement’, wherein, whenever the SAI will invite bids for a tender, interested parties will have to file their bid documents through the internet. “It will be protected by a password and the parties will come to know about their bids whether it was successful or not once the tenders are opened. It will help in minimising corruption and help in the better functioning of the SAI,” an official said. The proposed step has been seen by many as an effort to check rampant malpractices within the organisation. In another major development, the SAI is all set to put in place a system wherein the daily and travel allowances, allotted to athletes during overseas training and competitions, will be directly credited to their account instead of being routed through concerned federations. Many athletes had faced this problem in the past wherein the daily allowance allotted during tours did not reach them. “The money will be remitted directly to the athletes’ accounts. Many a times, athletes have faced this problem where they did not get their daily allowance travelling abroad or even if they got it, they were never paid fully,” he added. Athletes are eligible for 25 per cent of the daily allowance with SAI taking care of boarding and lodging for fully-funded tours. The athletes get $25 on Europe and America tours where the full DA quota is $100 while they are entitled for $18.75 when touring other nations where the DA is $75. Meanwhile, the sports body has also introduced bio-metric attendance systems at the SAI headquarters, all of its stadia and its regional centres to keep a check on absenteeism, especially at its smaller centres where the coaches and officials often had been found working outside the campus and availing long leaves. (Times of India 26/7/13)

15. Irrigation scam: Maharashtra govt. agrees for discussion (5)
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has agreed to hold discussions on the multi-thousand crore irrigation scam in the Legislative Council. The Opposition parties had been aggressively demanding a discussion on the scam in the monsoon session. The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party government was reluctant to have a discussion, claiming the matter is under investigation. On Monday, the Opposition stalled the proceedings in the Upper House, demanding a discussion and the House was adjourned for four times. It was only after Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar came out with a promise, the Opposition allowed the proceedings to continue, which was subsequently adjourned for a day. A special investigation team headed by water expert Madhav Chitale has been formed to probe the scam and has been given an extension till December 31. In the Lower House, the Opposition demanded the suspension of Pravin Darekar, a Maharashtra Navnirman Sena MLA, be revoked. He was suspended on Friday for allegedly abusing Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. Opposition leader Eknath Khadse claimed that the MLA never used abusive words inside the Assembly and the government was trying to silence the opposition. (The Hindu 29/7/13)

16. Anna Hazare to begin fast again on Jan Lokpal issue (5)
VARANASI: Anna Hazare is going to begin his fast for Jan Lokpal at RamlilaMaidan in national capital on the very first day of the winter session of Parliament. “After a long wait, today I announce here in Varanasi that I will sit on atmaclaish’ (fast) again at Ramlila Maidan on the first day of winter session of Parliament. Despite the resolution passed in the parliament the central government did not bring Jan Lokpal in last two years,” said Anna while addressing reporters here at meet the press programme organised by Kashi Patrakar Sangh on Wednesday. Anna accused the central government of deceiving the country on Lokpal issue and said that the ongoing Jantantra Yatra aims at educating people and creating awareness among them for bringing democracy in real term. Advocating for the election of honest and morally high people, he said that he did not believe in party system. Replying a query he said that he never voted in favour of candidate belonging to any political party. Replying a query Anna said that he never described Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as a secular man. “My statement was twisted. How Modi could be called secular when he is linked with the communal party BJP,” explained Anna. (Times of India 31/7/13)

17. Securities scam: Supreme Court pulls up SBI, others (5)
New Delhi: About 21 years after the securities scam involving stock broker Harshad Mehta, the Supreme Court on Wednesday indicted the National Housing Bank (NHB) for initiating legal process against State Bank of India (SBI) to recover the amount — which NHB had lend to Mehta — to hide its own misdeeds. A three-judge bench headed by justice RM Lodha, also pulled up the SBI for its “irresponsible” handling of the loan transactions worth Rs. 95 crore. It did not even spare the government for failing to make an attempt to find out the truth behind the scandal. SC further castigated the finance ministry for not resolving the dispute between the two public sector banks despite a direction. The court, however, held that SBI did not owe any money to NHB. It set aside the special court order of 1999 that directed SBI to pay Rs. 250 crore including 19% interest on the principle amount of Rs. 95 crore to NHB. (Hindustan Times 1/8/13)

18. ‘Political ego reason behind corruption’ (5)
Corruption in India is a result of ego among politicians, said Senior BJP leader L K Advani, who was speaking at the birth anniversary celebration of Dada J P Vaswani on Friday. “The biggest problem India is facing is corruption. Ego in politicians is the reason behind this. They think they are indispensable and can do whatever they want,” he said. Speaking about his experience in pre Independence India, he said there was a lot of discrimination practiced against Indians in their own country. “In the then Great Indian Peninsular railways, every furniture, every fitting had the etching of ‘Stolen from GIP’ on it. This implied that all Indians are thieves and would end up stealing government property,” he said. He added that the country post independence have not developed much. Referring to the work undertaken by the Vaswani mission, he said that the need of the hour was to increase spiritual quotient in the country. “Whenever, I visit this Ashram, I feel I am in heaven. Dada has done a remarkable job in spreading excellence. We need to spread his work to every corner of the country,” he said. Advani said politicians should cultivate the spirit of giving. Corruption can be removed if the spiritual quotient is increased. He also asked for people to emulate the spirit of humility. Dada Vaswani said , “The greatest need of the nation is men and women of character who can serve the country well. Whenever, I say, this, I think of Advani. He has the rare qualities that are needed to serve the country selflessly. India requires politicians like him to lead her,” he said. (Indian Express 3/8/13)

19. Patronising corruption hallmark of Omar govt, says PDP (5)
Jammu: Former deputy chief minister and senior leader of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Muzaffar Hussain Beig said that patronising corruption, shielding accused involved in scams, undermining autonomous institutions are the only noticeable achievements of Omar Abdullah-led present government. Addressing a function at Poonch, as part of foundation day celebrations of the party, Beig said that in the past five years, chief minister Omar Abdullah-led regime has done nothing to minimise miseries of the people. “There is corruption everywhere, anti-graft institutions such as state accountability commission (SAC) has been made non functional virtually through the government’s deceit tactics,” Beigh said. He said that instead of taking action against ministers, who are involved in corruption, the government has brazenly been involved into shielding corrupt elements. Former deputy CM said PDP was formed in 1999 with the aim to restore and uphold dignity and honour of every resident in Jammu and Kashmir. “There was a sense of fear and insecurity among people, when PDP was formed, but the party with its pro-peace agenda created a sense of security and also restored dignity of the common masses,” Beigh said. He said that PDP facilitated dialogue between India and Pakistan and convinced both countries to take some concrete confidence building measures (CBM) to restore lasting peace in the region. “The biggest achievement of the PDP was that it had convinced both India and Pakistan to take some bold confidence building measures (CBMs) to establish lasting peace in this region,” he said and mentioned the historic rally of the then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at Srinagar, in which Vajpayee had extended friendship towards Pakistan. (Hindustan Times 4/8/13)

20. Modi govt victimising Gujarat Sikhs: minorities panel (7)
New Delhi: A report by the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), the nation’s minority rights watchdog, has said the Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government had “prima facie” discriminated against the state’s 500-member Sikh community in Kutch by ordering them to sell their land and return to Punjab because they were not Gujaratis, citing the Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act, 1948. The commission has strongly disapproved of the Gujarat government’s interpretation that only Gujarati farmers could own or buy land in the state under the Act, a move which could dispossess 500 farmers, while their land accounts have already been frozen. In his report, commission member Ajaib Singh, after a field visit on June 24-28, said, “There appears to be discrimination against Sikh agriculturalists by the Gujarat government”. The report quoted Singh’s statement that “Modi, who has the habit of suppressing and terrorising the minorities of Gujarat, was in this case targeting and victimising the Sikh farmers of Kutch”.The minority commission said the order of the state government, asking farmers to sell their land and return to Punjab, was struck down unanimously in the Gujarat high court unanimously, but the state government had now challenged this verdict in the Supreme Court. The commission itself could not do much since the issue was under judicial consideration, the report said. In a recommendatory letter to Modi, the commission has asked the Gujarat government to accept the verdict of the high court. He also requested him to administer a national minority scholarship programme and urgently set up a state minorities commission. Singh has also written to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to intervene in the matter. “This is indeed very discriminatory,” the NCM member told HT.He said Sikhs told him during his field visit that the community had migrated to Kutch after being invited by former prime minister late Lal Bahadur Shastri, who felt these swathes of white marshy land should be inhabited as a buffer against invasion from the sea. (Hindustan Times 30/7/13)

21. Church keeps away from article (7)
KOCHI: An article by Syro Malabar Church spokesperson Fr Paul Thelakkat criticising the office of Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has been drawing flak. But the Church has distanced itself from the controversial statements he made recently in his regular column in a vernacular daily. In the article, Fr Thelakkat said the Chief Minister’s office had become an agency of frauds. Citing the example of Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in February this year, Fr Thelakkat pointed the finger at Chandy for the failure of his office and stated that when the office staff of an official commit some mistake, the onus lies on the official. “I believe that he (Chief Minister) has no role in the fraud. He trusted his office staff and gave them too much freedom,” the article stated. “Some leaders trust and honour individuals and give them more freedom. Sometimes, giving more freedom could be dangerous. But not giving freedom can have more dangerous consequences,” the article pointed out. However, the Church stated that Fr Thelakkat’s opinion was not its official stand. “The Syro Malabar Church has not made any statement against the state Cabinet. Media reports coming out in this regard are not the official stand of the Church,” said Syro Malabar Church Curia Bishop Bosco Puthur, secretary of Episcopal Synod. Fr Thelakkat maintained that the opinions presented in the article were neither that of the Church nor his personal viewpoint. He told ‘Express’ that his statements were ‘misquoted’ and ‘misinterpreted’. (New Indian Express 31/7/13)

22. Gujarat cop’s balancing act: A VHP swami by his stretcher, Muslims push his wheelchair (7)
Ahmedabad: Two days after he appeared in court on a stretcher, with a priest, Swami Akhileshwardasji, by his side, Additional DGP P P Pandey, an accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case, was escorted by four Muslim men to the special CBI court on Wednesday. The Indian Express had reported Wednesday about the “special bond” between Pandey and the VHP-linked priest, with a photograph of the duo outside court. Pandey today urged The Indian Express team to speak to the Muslim men. Introducing one of them as Zubair Sheikh, a garment- seller from old Ahmedabad, he said, “Please talk to him, you will know how I am.” Pandey also claimed to be a descendant of Mangal Pandey, the sepoy whose revolt triggered the 1857 uprising. The four men were identified as the sons of a former Congress loyalist and social worker from Shahpur, Chand Mohammad Sheikh, popularly known as Chand Mama, who is now dead. They said Pandey had asked them to accompany him. “Pandey called up Zubair this morning and asked him to come to the hospital with his brothers. He specified that they should wear skull caps. They went to the hospital, and then accompanied Pandey to court,” said Zubair’s cousin Rafiq Sheikh. “Zubair’s father knew Pandey from the time he was posted as DCP of Shahpur zone in 1991,” he added. At the court complex, Zubair helped Pandey alight from the ambulance, and escorted him inside. He stood beside Pandey throughout the first half of the day. “When I was DCP in Ahmedabad city, I could walk into the house of any Muslim in Shahpur area,” Pandey said. On being declared a “proclaimed absconder” in the Ishrat case, Pandey said, “I was never running away, I was fighting. I approached different courts during this time. I belong to the clan of Mangal Pandey and I am not going to run away. I will fight against the injustice.” (Indian Express 1/8/13)

23. Durga Shakti Nagpal issue: UP govt bringing communal angle… (7)
New Delhi:  Strongly backing IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, BJP today alleged the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh is deliberately bringing in the communal angle into the issue of demolition of a mosque wall and insisted she was suspended as she had targeted the sand mafia. Terming the SDM’s suspension as “unlawful”, the main opposition said the measure gives a clear message that “honesty will be punished and unlawful acts rewarded”.”Religion is being brought into this issue by Samajwadi Party. The main issue here is that the sand mafia was punished by her,” BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi told reporters. Lekhi maintained Durga Shakti had to face the wrath of the Akhilesh Yadav government as she had seized more than 24 dump trucks and arrested several leaders of illegal sand-mining gangs. She had also impounded 297 vehicles and collected a fine of over Rs 80 lakh. BJP claimed the wall of the “illegal mosque” was demolished by the IAS officer after she got orders from above. “The illegal dredging by the sand mining gangs of Gautam Budh Nagar on the banks of the rivers Yamuna and Hindon had affected the entire district adversely and were causing ecological disasters like water pollution and contamination, apart from destruction of marine environment and organisms,” Lekhi said. The party alleged the law and order situation in UP had become very bad under SP rule and Durga Shakti’s suspension was a “new low”.”By her suspension, SP is achieving two targets. One of demoralising the administrative staff of the country by driving home the message that righteousness and honesty will be punished. The other target is the political drama on ‘secularism’ by inflaming religious anger on the ‘so-called’ demolition of a mosque wall for votebank politics,” Lekhi said. BJP alleged 27 communal riots have taken place since SP came to power but no officer has been suspended. The party charged SP ministers are openly making communally coloured statements. (Indian Express 2/8/13)

24. Muslim group vows support to IAS officer Durga (7)
Noida: Muslims in Greater Noida have vowed support to suspended IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal, a move that could cause embarrassment to the Akhilesh Yadav government. The state government had suspended Nagpal on the grounds that her alleged action of demolishing a mosque could have caused communal tension in the area. A Muslim social group, Hazrat Saiyad Bure Shah committee, of Greater Noida’s Dankaur area has written to the chief minister and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding that Durga’s suspension be revoked. “Some local politicians are trying to disturb peace in the region by sending a wrong message that a mosque had been demolished. The truth is that IAS Durga Shakti Nagpal only discharged her official duties by halting illegal construction on government land. Durga was only implementing the rule of law following orders from her bosses. She deserves accolades for that,” said Kadir Khan, secretary, Hazrat Saiyad Bure Shah committee. Many intellectuals from the minority community alleged that instead of providing jobs and education to the community, the Akhilesh Yadav government was trying to play with their religious sentiments. “All communities in Kadalpur are living together in peace. Durga did not demolish any religious structure. The villagers had themselves razed the wall built on government land. Local Samajwadi leaders gave wrong information to CM Akhilesh Yadav and got an upright honest women officer punished. She should be encouraged and honoured instead,” said Khan.Khan said they would launch a protest from August 5 if the government did not revoke Durga’s suspension. (Hindustan Times 3/8/13)

25. ‘Sikhs India’s biggest spenders, Muslims the smallest’ (7)
New Delhi: Sikh households are the country’s biggest spenders on average, and Muslim households on average the smallest, shows government data compiled for the period July 2009 to June 2010. Sikh households spent on average about 1.7 times the expenditure by Muslim households, according to the list of major religious groups arranged by average monthly per capita household consumer expenditure (MPCE). Household expenditure serves as a proxy for income, and is usually taken to reflect standards of living. According to data from the National Sample Survey Office’s (NSSO’s) eighth quinquennial survey on employment and Sikhs India’s biggest spenders, Muslims the smallest unemployment during the 12 months to June 2010, at the all-India level, the average MPCE of Sikh households was Rs 1,659, while that of Muslim households was only Rs 980. Spending by Christian households was marginally lower than by Sikh households. Spending by Hindu households was about 27 per cent less than that by Christian households. The ‘Others’ category, which includes Jain and Zoroastrian households, was third from the top, recording spending that was marginally lower than that by Christian households but sharply higher than Hindu and Muslim households. The survey, conducted in the 66th round of the national sample survey, was spread over 7,402 villages and 5,252 urban blocks covering 1,00,957 households and 4.59 lakh persons. Consumption expenditure data was collected in a separate abbreviated worksheet which was integrated with the employment and unemployment schedule. The data shows that Muslims continue to be the most backward community in economic terms in India. According to the data, in rural areas, the overall proportion of Hindu households remained largely steady, whereas the proportion of Muslim households rose by about 1 percentage point during the period 1999-2000 to 2009-2010. In urban areas, however, the proportion of Hindu households increased about 1 percentage point over the same period, while the proportion of Muslim households showed a decline of about 1 percentage point. (Indian Express 4/8/13)

26. India must look at green growth: World Bank report (9)
MUMBAI: India can make green growth a reality by putting in place strategies to reduce environmental degradation at the minimal cost of 0.02% to 0.04% of average annual GDP growth rate. According to a new World Bank report released today, this will allow India to maintain a high pace of economic growth without jeopardizing future environmental sustainability. The report titled, “Diagnostic Assessment of Select Environmental Challenges in India” is the first-ever national level economic assessment of environmental degradation in India. It analyzes the physical and monetary losses of environmental health and natural resources; the tradeoffs between economic growth and environmental sustainability; and provides a valuation for biodiversity and ecosystem services in India. According to the assessment done by the authors of the report, the annual cost of environmental degradation in India amounts to about Rs 3.75 trillion ($80 billion) equivalent to 5.7% of GDP. It focuses on particle pollution (PM10) from the burning of fossil fuels, which has serious health consequences amounting to up to three per cent of India’s GDP along with losses due to lack of access to clean water supply, sanitation and hygiene and natural resources depletion. Of this, the impacts of outdoor air pollution account for the highest share at 1.7% followed by cost of indoor air pollution at 1.3%. The higher costs for outdoor/indoor air pollution are primarily driven by an elevated exposure of the young and productive urban population to particulate matter pollution that results in a substantial cardiopulmonary and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality load among adults. Further, a significant portion of diseases caused by poor water supply, sanitation and hygiene is borne by children under 5. About 23% of child mortality in the country could be attributed to environmental degradation, the report says. “Like in many other countries, the debate over growth versus environment is also active in India. This report suggests there are low-cost options that could significantly bring down environmental damage without compromising long-term growth objectives,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director in India. “The costs of doing this are not only affordable in the long-term but would also be offset by the significant health and productivity benefits.” Failure to act now could also constrain long-term productivity and hence India’s economic growth prospects, the report says. “Grow now and clean up later will not be environmentally sustainable for India in the long run,” said Muthukumara S. Mani, a senior environmental economist at the World Bank and the lead author of the report. “We believe that a low-emission, resource-efficient greening of the economy is possible at a very low cost in terms of GDP growth.”… (Times of India 26/7/13)

27. BEST to save environment by reducing use of paper (9)
MUMBAI: The BEST has decided to save on paper and thereby save the environment. BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said that the budget copy of the transport and electricity undertaking would run into as many as 150 pages. “This was wastage of paper as most of the contents were repetitive. From this financial year, we have decided to cut down on paper, reducing number of pages and thereby save costs. We will also be protecting the environment by saving paper,” he said at the recent committee meeting. The budget book, which is circulated among the committee members from Shiv Sena, BJP, Congress, NCP, MNS and Samajwadi Party, is also given to corporators, members of the media besides BEST, BMC and other government officials. “It is a huge circulation and we spend lakhs of rupees in printing the budget copies. Besides, tonnes of paper is used and this will be saved in near future,” said a BEST spokesperson. A budget supplement, which runs into 40 pages, will now be reduced to just eight pages, sources said. “We plan to make the budget copies paperless in near future,” a senior BEST official added. (Times of India 27/7/13)

28. CM Hemant Soren asks forest officials to protect green cover (9)
RANCHI: Chief minister Hemant Soren on Tuesday asked forest officials in the state to ensure better implementation of the Forest Rights Act. “The faster our country is growing, the faster our forests are vanishing and tribal population is moving backward. Several policies have been made to protect them but they have never been implemented,” said Soren. The chief minister, who was addressing a gathering at a regional seminar on Forest Rights Act, said the forest cover is depleting and thus wild animals, like elephants, again venture into urban settlements. Fast deforestation is also affecting life of tribal villagers in the mineral-rich belt. “The 29% forests in Jharkhand are situated in mineral rich areas. It is a boon for the state but a bane for villagers,” he added. Chief secretary R S Sharma along with DCs from various districts with officials from neighboring Bihar, Odisha, Chhatisgarh and other states were also present. (Times of India 31/7/13)

29. India needs to reduce carbon footprint: PM (9)
Chennai, August 2 : India is among countries that will be most seriously hit by climate change and technological innovation was needed to cut carbon emissions, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday. Speaking at the inauguration of two Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) projects here, Manmohan Singh said: “Today, climate change has become an urgent concern across the globe. “India is among the countries that would be the most seriously impacted by the consequences of climate change. We need to develop ways and means to reduce our carbon footprint through technological innovation,” he said. The prime minister said more than 50 percent of power in the country came from coal-based generation, which is a major emitter of greenhouse gases. He said the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission seeks to develop 20,000 MW of solar power generating capacity by the end of the 13th Five Year Plan (by 2022). “Its success has the potential of enhancing India’s energy security, and contributing handsomely to our efforts to combat climate change.” (New Kerala 2/8/13)

30. Change in climate fastest ever (9)
LONDON: Climate change is occurring 10 times faster than at any time in the past 65 million years. If the trend continues at its current rapid pace, it will place significant stress on terrestrial ecosystems around the world and many species will need to make behavioural , evolutionary or geographic adaptations to survive, says Stanford climate scientists. The study announced on Friday says the planet is undergoing one of the largest changes in climate since the dinosaurs went extinct. But what might be even more troubling for humans, plants and animals is the speed of the change. (Times of India 3/8/13)

31. SC to hear PIL on regulation of private coaching classes (11)
NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court on Monday decided to examine a PIL seeking direction for regulation of “unrecognised” private coaching classes, proliferating across the country in an “institutionalised” manner in the name of preparing students for admission in IITs and medical colleges. A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri asked counsel Deepak Prakash, representing Students Federation of India (SFI), which filed the PIL, to provide a copy of the petition to advocate of the Centre for getting its response. The court posted the matter for hearing after three weeks. In its PIL, CPM’s students wing claimed that unregulated coaching centres imposed financial burden on the students and parents psychological stress, besides being in violation of the CBSE and Right to Education (RTE) guidelines. The petitioner submitted that the Rs 35,000-crore coaching business was expected to grow to more than Rs 75,000 crore by 2014-15 as per Crisil Report. The fee charged by the coaching classes was arbitrary, which caused huge financial burden on the parents, the petition said, claiming that the role of coaching institutes in preparation of the students was also doubtful. According to the petitioner, these private coaching centres published false and misleading advertisements, using the names and photographs of successful students in their advertisements without their permission which amounted to their commercial exploitation. At times, it was revealed that one topper was claimed to have been trained by several institutes. Giving a further grim picture, it pointed out that as many as 50 students committed suicide in 2011 in Kota in Rajasthan that has emerged as the hub of these institutions. The petitioners sought response from the Centre and respective state governments as to why they had failed to regulate these institutions. It also sought to know if the syllabus prepared by central and state education boards was not at par with standards of entrance examinations conducted for IIT and medical colleges. The petition also wanted direction restraining the use of school premises and teachers by the coaching institutes. Among others, the petitioners asked the court to seek explanation from the  governments on the action taken by them to stop the publication of false and fraudulent advertisements and misuse of the photographs of minor students for commercial benefit. (Deccan Herald 30/7/13)

32. Maharashtra legislature approves self financed unaided private schools Bill (11)
MUMBAI: The Maharashtra legislative council on Wednesday approved the self financed unaided private schools Bill tabled by the education department. The school education department had tabled the Bill in order to allow private players to set up schools which will not depend on any kind of financial assistance from the state government. The Bill tabled by Rajendra Darda’s school education department is nearly similar to the self-financed universities and is aimed to improve education quality that too without spending or putting additional burden on the state’s treasury. Although the Bill allows the private players to set up the school, the educational institutes will be governed by existing education norms in Maharashtra, including reserving the mandatory quota of 25 per cent for economically backward class students as mentioned in the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Shiv Sena’s Neelam Gore raised several query over the Bill. But independent MLC-Kapil Patil strongly opposed the Bill saying that it is opening the doors for private players. “The Bill will be fodder for many educational institutes as they will exploit it commercially,” Patil said while participating in the debate. (Times of India 1/8/13)

33. Introduce vocational training at school level, says expert (11)
Chennai: Policy makers should introduce vocational training at the school level and scale up reach of educational institutions through online courses, according to S. Ramadorai, Advisor, Prime Minister’s National Council on Skill Development. Vocational training that gives job skills to students should be an inherent part of the Government’s Right to Education programme. With more than 90 per cent of the workforce in the unorganised sector, any training programme has to be ‘deeply penetrative’ with the involvement of NGOs, private sector and governments. Conventional education system should adapt to changing needs, he said. Top universities in the US are offering online and open courses; companies such as Pearson are providing online applications that ‘behave like private tutors’, and online resources enable young and old to learn on their own. The national IT backbone and rural broadband should be used to expand the reach of educational systems, Ramadorai said. It is time for a national portal to make this possible, he said. Venture capital and angel investors will be keen on supporting such initiative, he said. Delivering the second C.K. Prahalad Memorial Lecture he said the Council is planning to rope in Members of Parliament to help spread vocational training in their constituencies and introduce vocational training in the National Service Scheme in educational institutions. (Business Line 4/8/13)

34. 5,000 schools in Gujarat yet to have class VIII (11)
Ahmedabad: Known for its rapid growth in the country, Gujarat seems to be lagging behind in providing primary education to children. Even when three years deadline to implement facilities under the Right of Children to Compulsory and Free Education Act – known popularly as Right to Education Act (RTE), the state government is yet to make Class VIII in nearby 5,000 schools with upper primary schools. Sources in the primary education department said nearly 5,000 schools in rural areas of Gujarat still has education till Class VII only. According to the RTE, Class VIII was included in the primary school. The official stated that there are around 32,700 government primary schools in Gujarat. Of the schools, nearly 22,000 schools have upper primary section. For starters, classes I to V fall under primary section and classes VI to VIII under upper primary section. “Of the total schools with upper primary schools nearly 17,000 have class VIII facilities helping students to get education till class VIII under one roof. But nearly 5,000 schools still have classes, teachers and other facilities to get education till class VII only,” said the official. It is said the schools yet to be provided class VIII do not have adequate students. According to the official, these schools have less than 15 students in Class VII and so the Class VIII facility is yet to be assigned to them. This year, however, the state primary education department has initiated planning to give additional infrastructure, teaching staff and other facilities in 650 schools across the state. Though director of primary education RC Raval did not receive call made by DNA, sources explained reasons. “All the school that does not have Class VIII yet has a school within 3 km which provides Class VIII education. Facilities like transportation to nearby schools are provided to students to allow them getting education till Class VIII as suggested in the RTE,” said the official. The officials said the state government is working in the direction to provide class VIII at all upper primary schools and make primary education accessible to students of the state. (DNA 5/8/13)

35. Telangana may witness growing Naxal activities: Home ministry (12)
NEW DELHI: Economically backward Telangana region could witness growing activities of Maoists in coming months as the rebels may take advantage of the process of creation of the new state which may take close to six months. Home ministry officials said Telangana, being the home of most of the top CPI (Maoists) leaders, could become easy target for the Naxals considering its close proximity with worst affected regions – Chhattisgarh’s Bastar and Maharashtra’s Gadchidoli. During the process of the formation Telangana, the attention of the administration and the police is bound to be diverted as Andhra Pradesh will undergo the exercise of division of the assets, administrative officials and security apparatus etc, officials said. Once Naxal hot beds – Karminagar, Warangal and Adilabad districts – fall in Telanagana region and the CPI(Maoists) are bound to try their best to activate their old contacts and recruit new cadres in their poor region, the officials said. “We hope that before the Telangana region turns again into a Naxal hot bed, administration takes full control and rein in all undesirable elements,” an official said (Times of India 30/7/13)

36. Forces hitting Naxals effectively, ops to intensify: CRPF DG (12)
New Delhi: Security forces are penetrating deeper into Naxal affected areas and jungles and they will keep hitting their strongholds, the chief of the lead anti- Maoist operations force CRPF said a day before he hangs up his boots. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) chief Pranay Sahay, who will retire tomorrow after heading the paramilitary force for more than 10 months, also asserted that it is no more possible for the red rebels to ambush and attack security forces like the deadly 2010 Dantewada ambush as the forces are now familiar with the terrain and are better trained. CRPF had faced its biggest ever setback in anti-Naxal operations when 75 of its men and one Chhattisgarh police personnel were killed in a lethal attack by Maoists in the red stronghold of Tadmetla in south Bastar. “The Naxals are losing out heavily. They are perturbed and I can assure that attacks like Dantewada are no more a possibility. The forces now know the terrain, they are better quipped and trained,” Sahay said. CRPF is the mainstay for anti-Naxal operations as it has deployed over 85,000 personnel for the task in various states. The CRPF boss said anti-Naxal operations in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh need to be intensified to get better results. He complimented West Bengal for containing the Left Wing Extremism menace in the state. The DG said all the security forces deployed for combating Naxalites are gaining momentum. He, however, said state police forces do have deficiencies at various levels which the respective governments are trying to address. Sahay also gave figures to buttress his point. “The fact that we are hitting Naxals increasingly is evident from the number of incidents as well as the number of deaths at the hands of the Naxals. From an all-time high of 2,258 incidents (1,005 deaths) in 2010, now it has come down to (till June) 590 incidents where 202 deaths took place,” he said. (Zee News 31/8/13)

37. HC pulls up cops for framing tribal as Naxal (12)
NAGPUR: Justice ML Tahaliyani of Nagpur bench of Bombay high court in a recent verdict came down heavily on Gadchiroli police for framing an innocent tribal as a Naxalite. The court, setting aside an earlier order by sessions court, has also acquitted the man of the charges of attempt to murder and causing obstruction to government officials. Bamu Miccha was convicted under Sections 307 and 353 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) in an alleged offence of July 2010. It was alleged that he had fired upon police at Pidimili and Paddur jungles. The sessions court had sentenced him to seven years imprisonment and fine Rs 500 holding him guilty under for attempt to murder and another one-and-half years and fine Rs 500 for obstructing government officials on duty. Aggrieved by the order, Miccha preferred an appeal. The high court observed there was no evidence of any kind to fix the identity of the person or arrive at a conclusion that the same person had fired upon the cops. It also stated that most of the eye-witnesses were cops who had claimed to have been fired upon by Miccha who was represented by counsel Surendra Gadling. The court said the witnesses were stereotypes. The court has also expressed doubt regarding the claim of the complainant, the then sub-divisional police officer of Bhamragarh tehsil Suryakant Sagar, that the cops had fired in retaliation after Miccha had opened fire. It said the investigation officer would have seized the firearms if there was firing in exchange. In the final order, the court stated the police seem to have framed Miccha by planting the firearm on him. The court observed that it was unbelievable that terrorists and Naxalites would use crude firearm like Bharmar in this age. (Times of India 3/8/13)

38. Maoists blow up rail track in Gaya, trains standed (12)
Gaya: Maoists blew up a railway track nearhere late on Friday night, disrupting traffic on the Gaya-Mugalsari route of East Central Railway. The explosion on the track between Taraiya and Guraru railway station occurred at around 11pm, barely 20 minutes after the pilot engine of Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani train crossed the area, Gaya Railway DSP Sunil Kumar told PTI. There were no casualties. There is usually a gap of one hour between the pilot engine and the train which follows it. Following the blast, the Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani train was stopped at Taraiya station. Many other trains including Bhubaneshwar-Delhi Rajdhani and Sealdah-Delhi Rajdhani were also stranded at Gaya Railway station. The DSP said that senior officials have reached the site to co-ordinate repair work. Railways had decided to run pilot engines ahead of trains following the 2003 accident of Howrah-Delhi Rajdhani in Naxal-hit Aurangabad which left over a 100 people dead. (Hindustan Times 3/8/13)

39. Despite law, unorganised workers remain out of social security (14)
ROURKELA: It is a stark irony. Barring a few, around 3.75 lakhs unorganised workers in the tribal-dominated Sundargarh district are living in abject penury and continue to be out of the social security net. Just a few thousands workers in the district have been registered after the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 became functional in Odisha with reconstitution of the Orissa Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare (OBOCWW) Board in 2008. Sources said the accidental death benefit has been doubled to ` .2 lakh and in case of natural death the family of a registered deceased worker is entitled to ` 1 lakh from the OBOCWW Fund formed under the Act. The board has listed numerous other benefits including free healthcare, education, pension, health insurance, bi-cycles and even cash support for daughter’s marriage. But, registration is mandatory to get the prescribed benefits. Till February 2013 a mere number of around 7,000 workers were registered at the district labour office at Rourkela. Administrative sources said the district has around 3.37 lakhs registered households under the MGNREGS and nearly 50,000 building and construction workers of 50,000, while unofficially their number  could easily touch five lakhs. Odisha Krishi Ebam Gramin Mazdoor Sangh district secretar Karunakar Panda said of the total registered workers above 3,000 belong to Bargaon block, adding much more have to be done. He claimed practical initiatives for identification of workers begun over the past two years. Concerted efforts are needed from the district administration, trade unions and voluntary outfits, he said. State unit CITU general secretary and member of the welfare board Bishnu Mohanty said it is deplorable that of around ` 370 cr welfare fund, even ` 1 cr could not be disbursed. Mohanty said the government machinery is not very on this aspect and stressed the need to register such workers on an urgent basis. The crucial posts of the Deputy Labour Commissioner and District Labour Officer are lying vacant. (New Indian Express 30/7/13)

40. Street vendors for law to stop their victimization (14)
New Delhi: Street vendors from across the country are sending postcards to Congress president Sonia Gandhi demanding a law for their welfare and social security and to check their growing victimisation. The campaign launched by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) is to ensure early passage of Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning Monday. The campaign will continue till August 10, NASVI national coordinator Arbind Singh said. “The Union Cabinet has already approved the revamped bill. There should not be any further delay in introducing and passing it,” he said. He said since the time of framing of national policy for Urban Street Vendors in January 2004, more than a million street vendors have been displaced in the name of development projects or city beautification drives. The 2010 Commonwealth Games had hit thousands of vendors in the national capital, he said. “This year, vendors and hawkers faced brutal police action in Mumbai. A large number of them were displaced and a fruit vendor Madan Jaiswal died of heart attack during police action. The young daughter of the deceased vendor also died battling trauma. The incident led to series of protests, but the guilty police official remained unpunished,” he alleged. He said the level of rights abuse is such that it undermines the fundamental rights of the street vendors, such as right to social dignity in employment and individual rights to work and non-discrimination. “In such circumstances, the sustenance of livelihood with dignity and the education and the health of the family members of street vendors becomes a battle for life,” the NASVI coordinator added. A nationwide mobilisation of street vendors had influenced the NDA government in 2004 to formulate a National Policy for Urban Street Vendors. The policy accorded legal identity to street vendors as it legitimised street vending and put a framework before the urban local bodies under which conducive and supportive environment had to be created to protect the livelihood of millions of street vendors. (Zee news 2/8/13)

41. Bihar Govt contests CAG findings on MGNREGA (14)
Patna: Bihar government contested the findings of CAG and claims the state was making available employment opportunity of 28 man-days per family on an average every year The Bihar government today contested the findings of CAG in the implementation of MGNREGA scheme and said the state was making available employment opportunity of 28 man-days per family on an average every year. Commenting on the performance audit of CAG on MGNREGA during 2007-12, Rural Development Minister Nitish Mishra said in a statement that the state government had provided job under the scheme to 38,51,921 families on an average every year during the period. Report of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) was tabled in the Bihar Legislative Assembly yesterday. Mishra said that during 2007-12, a sum of Rs 8,524.55 crore was provided to the state government under the scheme against which Rs 8,488.29 crore were spent. The report was prepared after conducting survey in 319 units in 15 districts, 54 blocks and 250 gram panchayats for the period ending March 31, 2012. On issuance of more than one job card to a single household, he said it did not make much difference as payment was made only on the basis of actual work. But, still the department conducted comprehensive search and abolished 14 lakh duplicate job cards across the state last year, the minister said. On Bihar deprived of grant of Rs 9,684.24 crore during 2007-12 in the shape of central share due to less creation of man-days, sharp increase in demand for fund without sufficient justification and unspent balance grant, he said that in the initial stage, labour budget was not prepared in time but now comprehensive changes had been done. This is a demand based scheme as a result of which deprivation of Rs 9684.24 crore did not hold any rationale, Mishra said. Stating that several steps have been taken to streamline the programme, he said these included observation on MGNREGA days, making e-muster mandatory and social auditing of the programme. (DNA 3/8/13)

42. 555 minors worked under MGNREGS: CAG (14)
BANGALORE: The state government employed minors under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), according to the latest report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). According to the report, 555 people aged less than 18 years were employed in various parts of the state. A total of Rs 7.96 lakh was given to the minors as wages. Interestingly, 965 people aged 90 years or more were engaged in works and Rs 13.21 lakh was paid to them. According to the MGNREG Act, a person who has not completed 18 years of age is not eligible to work under the scheme. The State government, however, has stated that the gram panchayats would be asked to set right such matter. It has also stated that the software should have internal consistency to not allow minor labourers to work and the issue needed to be answered by National Informatics Centre (NIC). But CAG finds the answer unacceptable as the data entry was done at gram panchayat level. No Mechanism to Check DuplicationAlso, it seems there is no mechanism to tackle data duplication, resulting in fake job cards under MGNREGS. According the CAG report, the audit of Management Information System (MIS) reveals that there were no in-built input controls to reject cases where the name and age of the same individual are entered in English and in local language. “Though the system is designed to show an ‘error’ when two individuals with the same name and age are enrolled, there are no in-built input controls to reject cases where the name and the age of the same individual are entered in English and in the local language. This gives scope for multiple job cards with the same name in English and the local language”, the report said. (New Indian Express 5/8/13)

43. Politicians vs judiciary: All parties express concern over recent SC Judgement.
NEW DELHI: An all-party meeting on Thursday voiced concern over “erosion of supremacy” of Parliament with demands being made for a change in the mechanism of higher judiciary appointments and a response to the recent Supreme Court judgements on disqualification of legislators and barring those behind bars from contesting elections. The meeting, convened by parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath on the eve of monsoon session beginning on Monday, saw leaders of all parties being also critical of the Supreme Court judgements on the issue of reservations. After the 90-minute meeting, he told reporters that all parties expressed concern over the judgements and wanted the National Judicial Commission Bill to be introduced as well as passed in this session itself. Some leaders wanted the government to “respond” to the apex court judgement against reservation in the faculty of AIIMS and the orders relating to disqualification which they felt could lead to vendetta and anarchy. The session, which concludes on August 30, will have 16 sittings. As many as 44 Bills are planned to be taken up for consideration while six are to be withdrawn and 14 are to be introduced. Food Security Bill, on which an Ordinance is already in place, is among the proposed legislations. While the BJP demanded that the Bill on formation of separate Telangana be brought in this session itself for consideration and passage, government said that it will have to follow the legal process under which a resolution is required to be passed by the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. There was unanimity among political parties in the meeting that government should take requisite measures against the recent Supreme Court judgements. “How can you expect a smooth session when the Supreme Court has come out with a judgement which has affected 80% of the people belonging to SC, ST and OBC?” asked JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, who wanted the government to first address the issue in this session. Asked about the government plans, Kamal Nath said, “We will sit and decide.” The parliamentary affairs minister hoped that this would be a constructive session with parties assuring the government over its smooth functioning. Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, however, struck a note of caution over the “ambitious” agenda planned by the government for the session, wondering as to how this “near miracle” will be achieved in such a short session which will have only 12 effective sittings for taking up government business. Sources said while government is keen on getting its financial business done in the short monsoon session, BJP-led NDA and the Left parties want to corner the government on issues like floods in Uttarakhand and the state of the economy with rising prices and devaluation of the Rupee. (Times of India 31/7/13)

44. Cabinet approves changes to RTI Act to keep parties out of its ambit (19)
NEW DELHI: Ignoring concerns raised by civil rights activists the Union Cabinet on Thursday gave its nod for amending the Right to Information (RTI) Act to exclude political parties from its purview. The bill will be placed before the monsoon session starting August 5. The amendments have been necessitated by a Central Information Commission (CIC) order on June 3 that ruled that 6 national parties—Congress, BJP, BSP, CPI, CPM and NCP—were public authorities on the grounds that they were substantially funded by the government. The CIC also directed the parties to appoint public information officers by July 15, an order that was ignored by all 6. The cabinet gave its nod to amend the RTI Act to keep political parties out of the ambit of transparency law. The department of personnel and training (DoPT), which acts as nodal department for the implementation of the RTI Act, in consultation with law ministry moved the proposal to amend the RTI Act. The government seeks to change the definition of public authorities mentioned under Section 2 of the RTI Act to keep all political parties out of the jurisdiction of RTI, the sources said. Government sources said that there was unanimous support from all political parties on the issue. The CIC order argued that political parties received income tax exemptions and doles from government including land, electoral rolls and airtime on public broadcaster at nominal rates on the grounds that they were doing social service. The CIC order said that since the parties’ professed to be working for the public, they should be open to scrutiny from the public on the finances and decisions. Political parties across the board have opposed the order. They have argued that political parties are a voluntary association of people and in fact a very small part of their funds come from the government. The parties also said that they were under scrutiny of the Election Commission and the Income Tax authorities. Both parties and candidates are expected to furnish their sources of funding and details of assets owned to both authorities. Prominent activists including Aruna Roy, Shailesh Gandhi, Jayati Ghosh, Kamini Jaiswal, Nandita Das, Prashant Bhushan and Soli Sorabjee have written to the PM. Petitions have also been sent to parliamentarians to oppose the act which is unlikely since the bill has near unanimous political support. (Times of India 1/8/13)

45. 44 bills in 16 days of parliament: Will opposition play ball? (19)
New Delhi: The opposition leaders are also concerned over another Supreme Court order barring reservation in super-specialty courses in medical colleges. The Aug 5-30 monsoon session of parliament could see a battle of political wits with the government listing 44 bills for the lonly 16 working days available. These include the food security bill, those related to reforms in the insurance and pension sectors and an amendment to the RTI Act to keep political parties out of its ambit. But the big question is: Will the opposition, riled over a variety of issues, play ball? Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has also stepped into the picture, hoping that the monsoon session would be “constructive and productive” and sought cooperation of all political parties for this. “We expect a constructive and productive session of parliament…I sincerely hope all sections of the house will cooperate in making this a very productive, constructive session,” the prime minister told reporters after an all-party meet called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Saturday to ensure parliament’s smooth running. Meanwhile, responding to the opposition’s contention that the session, scheduled to last till Aug 30, would, in practice, have just 12 working days available against the estimated 16 to take up the 44 listed bills, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath on Saturday hinted it could be extended, if needed. After an all-party meeting on Thursday, Kamal Nath said all parties wanted the smooth running of parliament but expressed their concerns, especially related to erosion of parliament’s supremacy as a result of a Supreme Court order on criminals in politics. Leaders belonging to the Left parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) have expressed concern over the implications of a court order disqualifying a legislator if convicted in a criminal case and barring those arrested from contesting the polls. Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who was also present during the meeting, said the government is likely to make a statement on the issue. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which disrupted the budget session demanding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s resignation over the faulty allocation of coal bocks, has said it does not want to disrupt the monsoon session. Kamal Nath said the opposition parties want to pass the judicial commission bill, which deals with appointment of judges, in this session. The opposition wants debates on the land acquisition bill, the state of the economy, rampant corruption in the mid-day meal scheme, floods in Uttarakhand, the ongoing tussle between the CBI and the IB in the Ishrat Jahan shootout case and Chinese intrusions into the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. The opposition leaders are also concerned over another Supreme Court order barring reservation in super-specialty courses in medical colleges. While the BJP has demanded that the bill on the formation of a Telangana state be brought in the monsoon session, the CPI-M wants discussion on the government’s recent move to allow more foreign equity in many sectors. Kamal Nath said the monsoon session will have 16 sittings during which 44 bills are planned to be taken up for consideration while six are to be withdrawn and 14 are to be introduced. (DNA 4/8/13)

46. Women’s quota bill should be passed immediately: Karunanidhi (25)
CHENNAI: The Women’s Reservation Bill, which provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in the legislature, should be passed in the coming session of Parliament without any further delay, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M. Karunanidhi said here on Monday. Each session of Parliament brought with it hopes of the Bill, which is hanging fire since its introduction in 1996, getting passed. But it could not be adopted for various reasons, including resistance from some Opposition parties. The Bill, which has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha, is awaiting Lok Sabha nod, the former Chief Minister said in a statement. Mr. Karunanidhi said that the Constitution-supported reserved constituency system had been established at all levels to ensure political rights of the Dalits. The DMK, he said, had always demonstrated its concern for reservation for women. Though the Constitution provided for the contest of both men and women in elections, women could be liberated from the dominance of men in the electoral arena by getting a percentage of seats reserved for them, Mr. Karunanidhi opined. (The Hindu 30/7/13)

47. SC verdict to scrap quota may disrupt session (25)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court verdict against caste-based reservation of faculty posts in super specialities and in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) may be raised by the Opposition to disrupt the monsoon session of Parliament starting August 5. Janata Dal-United (JDU) president Sharad Yadav Friday said that MPs  from deprived sections would not allow Parliament to function if the government does not get the verdict stayed immediately. Yadav said that he has been in touch with MPs from different political parties on the issue and all of them feel that this judgement will reduce reservation to such an extent and that only jobs in Category C and D would be available for reservation. The government should bring a Constitution Amendment Bill to nullify the SC verdict, Yadav said while talking to mediapersons at his residence. PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss met him at his residence. DMK leader M Karunanidhi also called him to express support. Yadav discussed the quota issue with CPM leader Sitaram Yechury as well. The JDU leader said that the issue was discussed at the all party meeting on Wednesday and OBC, SC and ST MPs from across parties voiced their concern and it became the central issue. However, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamalnath did not highlight the matter in his media briefing. Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj also largely ignored the issue. A  bench of Supreme Court headed by Altmas Kabir recently ruled that reservation will not be applicable to technical posts, including super specialities in engineering,  medicine and other scientific and technical posts. (Deccan Herald 3/8/13)

48. Khan revives minority sub-quota bid, wants entire 4.5% for Muslims (25)
NEW DELHI: Minority affairs Rahman Khan has argued that 4.5% reservation for minorities, which has been struck down by a court, can be revived by narrowing its focus to Muslims. In a note to Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the minister said the sub-quota of 4.5% for minorities under the 27% OBC reservation hit the roadblock because it smacked of being a religious quota aimed at minorities. He argued that the use of “minority” in place of “Muslim” brought in five religious groups under the ambit of quota policy, including the prosperous Parsis, and diluted the evidence in favour of affirmative action. Khan cited the reservation models of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala as “the way forward”. “(There) the reservation is only for Muslims and not for minorities, which has been upheld by the courts,” he wrote to Rahul. Khan said “the demand of reservation is not for all minorities but for Muslims, whose educational backwardness is supported by several commissions and also by Sachar committee… and the principle has already been upheld by the judiciary to support reservation”.The advocacy of ‘Muslim over minority’ model to extricate the doomed quota initiative from judicial veto comes as Congress continues to be embarrassed that the policy announced with fanfare in December 2011 became a non-starter. The “secular” rivals have used it to question Congress’s sincerity on the issue. Andhra Pradesh High Court had struck down the sub-quota on the grounds that it clubbed a heterogeneous group of minorities under one umbrella without evidence to back its rationale. While the Centre received another setback when the Supreme Court refused to stay the HC order on appeal, the ruling camp has been mired in arguments about how to buffer the quota policy from judicial objections. Khan’s bid to confine the quota policy to Muslims is interesting, if also politically fraught. It would test the government resolve to redraft the sub-quota in a manner that would prove potent fodder for BJP’s campaign led by Hindutva strongman Narendra Modi. In fact, Congress has preferred the umbrella nomenclature of “minorities” to diffuse the identity of the target group to preempt the saffron charge of “Muslim appeasement”. However, the minister argued it only rendered the policy flawed. Waving the red flag on the political implications of the failed policy move, Khan said, “Muslims suspect the intention of the government and its seriousness in providing reservation to them in government jobs.” (Times of India 5/8/13)

Posted by admin at 1 August 2013

Category: Uncategorized

1. Mid day meal scheme: National Human Rights Commission seeks report (1)
BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission has directed the State Government to submit a report on 19 students falling ill due to consumption of substandard food at a Government-aided hostel in Nilagiri block of Balasore district. Acting on a complaint filed by human rights activist Akhand, the NHRC has issued notices to the Secretary, Women and Child Development department, along with the Collector and the SP of Balasore, calling for a report in the matter within four weeks. The petitioner had alleged massive irregularities in the midday meal scheme (MDM) and provisioning of substandard food to the children putting their lives at risk. (New Indian Express 26/7/130

2. UNHCR launches gay equality campaign (1)
NEW YORK: Amid a surge in anti-gay violence and repression in several countries, the United Nations’ human rights office on Friday launched its first global outreach campaign to promote tolerance and greater equality for lesbians, gays, transgender people and bisexuals. Called Free & Equal, it’s an unprecedented effort by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to change public attitudes around the world on issues that have bitterly divided the U.N.’s own member states. The multi-pronged campaign, announced at a news conference in Cape Town, South Africa will include videos and public-service announcements distributed through social media, a new website, a series of fact sheets, and engagement by celebrities well-known in different regions of the world. “Changing attitudes is never easy… It begins with often difficult conversations,” said Navi Pillay, the high commissioner for human rights. “And that is what we want to do with this campaign. Free & Equal will inspire millions of conversations among people around the world and across the ideological spectrum.” “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights promises a world in which everyone is born free and equal in dignity and rights no exceptions, no one left behind,” she said. “Yet it’s still a hollow promise for many millions of LGBT people forced to confront hatred, intolerance, violence and discrimination on a daily basis.” According to the human rights office, at least 76 countries still criminalise consensual, same-sex relationships, and discrimination against LGBT people is widespread in many other nations. Less than half of the U.N.’s 193 member states have gone on record in support of gay rights and in opposition to laws criminalising homosexuality. (The Hindu 27/7/13)

3. Rights panel seeks report on assault (1)
SAMABALPUR: The Odisha Human Rights Commission has asked Burla police to file a report on the alleged attack on doctors of VSS Medical College and Hospital after the death of a child in April. Police had arrested five persons, including father of the deceased, basing on a complaint of the doctors. Sources said the 12-day-old son of Rakesh Pansari and Swapna of Khetrajpur in the district had died in the children ward of VSS on April 5. There were heated exchanges between Rakesh and the head of the department of paediatric department S K Murmu and the former later lodged a complaint with police, accusing the doctors of negligence. However, Rakesh, his brother Kamal Pansari and three others were arrested on a counter-complaint by the doctors. “We moved the commission when police did not take any action against the doctors,” Rakesh said on Sunday (Times of India 29/7/13)

4. Bihar Human Rights Commission summons madrassa board secretary (1)
PATNA: Bihar Human Rights Commission (BHRC) on Tuesday summoned BiharMadrassa Board (BMB) secretary for failing to form a new committee for madrassa at MaghailaBazar, Madhepura, by May 15, 2013. The secretary had to appear on Tuesday but he could not. Now he has to appear before the commission on August 20 with the action taken report (ATR). Defiance of the summon will lead the madrassa to face criminal proceedings under Section 13 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, said BHRC member Neelmani. The madrassa has been accused of not utilizing over 25 acres of land properly given by the state government for the benefit of orphan students. The land was allocated by the state government in 1983. The BHRC had directed Madhepura DM to investigate into a complaint lodged by madrassa’s president-cum-manager Rahamati Khatoon in this regard. “It was expected that the sale of crop yields of the land will be utilized for the benefit of orphan students getting education at madrassa, but four persons, Mohammad Meraj Alam, Rizwan Alam, Irfan Alam and Furkan Alam, of the same village have been using the land as their personal property,” the complainant said. The Madhepura DM report confirmed that not only the four persons but others like Gohar Alam, Manohar Alam, Sarvar Alam, Johar Alam, Anvarul Haq, Irfan Alam and Furkan Alam had also been using the land as their personal property. “The situation arose due to non constitution of committee for madrassa by the BMB after death of former madrassa manager Mohammad Narul Hoda in 2005,” said Neelmani. BHRC directed the madrassa board to form a committee by June 15 which will evaluate the financial gains wrongly pocketed by the beneficiaries named in the inquiry report of the Madhepura additional collector and realized the money and deposit it to the madrassa accounts. “But, neither a committee was formed nor we received any from the secretary in this regard,” said Neelmani. (Times of India 31/7/13)

5. Delhi police’s Khoj helps out lost kids (1)
New Delhi: Delhi Police have rescued as many as 750 children in three months from railway stations as part of an initiative launched by the force. Many of the children have been united with their parents. The initiative, called Khoj, was launched to bolster efforts by the force to rescue minors found wandering alone near railway stations. Those found were taken to the police station and asked for details. Their parents were contacted and arrangements made for a reunion. In a few of the cases, the children were sent back to their parents in villages in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. When the children’s parents were not found, the police took help of NGOs in keeping them in shelter homes. “The children face numerous dangers. The initiative is to ensure that they are not kidnapped by traffickers,” Sanjay Bhatia, additional DCP (railways), said. The police had last year rescued 1,030 children from Delhi’s five railway stations. “Till now, we used to act on information provided by NGOs and help them in rescuing children brought here from various states. But this initiative is taken to help those who are lost at stations and have nowhere to go,” Bhatia added. As part of the scheme, police personnel identify children walking alone in and around the railway stations. Initially, they look for their parents or relatives but if found to be alone, they are taken to the police station. The initiative has been welcomed by the NGOs, who feel railway stations are hubs of trafficking. “Most of the trafficking gangs operate from railway stations and kidnap children from there. In crowded areas like these, it is easy to kidnap a minor,” Rishikant of NGO Shaktivahini said. (Hindustan Times 27/7/13)

6. CBI registers human trafficking cases (1)
Kochi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday re-registered four cases related to human trafficking through Nedumbassery and Thiruvananthapuram airports. The CBI filed the report before the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court here. The CBI on Thursday took over the cases that were being investigated by the Crime Branch in Ernakulam. The State Police Chief had suspended 16 police officers, including two SPs, in connection with the case. The CBI’s First Information Report, which is based on the Crime Branch’s investigation so far, does not name all of them. The first case is related to the passport fraud in which a woman from Kazhakuttam was detained at the Mumbai airport after she was found to be travelling using fake documents. Lissy Sojan, suspected to be the main figure in the trafficking racket, is an accused in the case. The other accused are Bindu, Santha, Sethulal, and Shaji, believed to be her associates in the racket, and SI Raju Mathew, who allegedly helped take the woman from Nedumbassery using the fake document. The second and third cases were filed after tracing the original holder of the passport that the victim from Kazhakuttam was using. The passport had belonged to a woman from Kattappana, who was allegedly taken to Sharjah and forced into prostitution by Lissy Sojan after being promised a job as a maid in the house of a Malayali in Dubai. Cases for rape and trafficking of the two victims have been registered against several persons. The fourth case is based on a complaint by Abdul Samad, whose passport copy was allegedly used by police officer A.P. Ajeeb to obtain mobile phone SIM cards. Investigation into Ajeeb’s activities revealed the involvement of several police officers in trafficking men and women to the Gulf through airports at Nedumbassery and Thiruvananthapuram airports. Lissy Sojan was arrested from Aluva in May 2013. She had allegedly been operating a trafficking racket from Kerala to the Gulf for around 10 years. (The Hindu 28/7/13)

7. Explore bringing back dalit victims to Mirchpur: Supreme Court (2)
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked legal experts and social scientists to explore the possibilities if Dalit victims of Mirchpur Village violence in Haryana could be brought back and resettled in their native place. The court’s observation followed the state government’s statement that it would provide food grain and employment to the Dalit victims from Hisar district. An apex court bench of Justice G S Singhvi and Justice V Gopala Gowda asked the president of the Hisar District Legal Aid Committee and representatives of Tata Institute of Social Sciences to explored the possibilities if the displaced victims could be brought back to the village or suggest other alternative options. “We consider appropriate to request the Hisar Legal Aid Committee and the nominee of the director of Tata Institute of Social Sciences to conduct joint inspection with the assistance of other officers of the district to suggest available solutions,” the court said. Dalit settlements were targeted and torched by the members of dominant case April 21, 2010 in which a 70-year-old man his 18-year-old physically challenged daughter were killed. The court’s order to explore the possibilities of bringing back the displaced Dalits came after Haryana’s Additional Advocate General Manjit Singh Dalal told the court that “resettling them outside Mirchpur was not possible”.The court said that those members of the victim families who need employment should approach the competent authority for employment under the rural job scheme. “They are not coming” as they had found employment, Dalal told the court. As senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for victim petitioners, told the court that they were scared of going back to their village fearing a backlash, the court said that things will change only with awareness and change of mindset. Pointing to incidents of violence against Dalits in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Andhra Pradesh, the court said “it takes a lot of time before reforms come”.Pointing to the national statistics of violence against Dalits, the court said: “Obviously the bias is across the country. Unless the mindset changes, how does it help…society must change.” “In a large country like ours it takes time. There is no other country where such caste based crimes takes place.” Justice Singhvi referred to the growing awareness on women empowerment. “There is awareness about women. Their participation is increasing. It is more in urban areas but with passage of time it will come there (rural areas) also.” (Times of India 26/7/13)

8. Two held for allegedly raping Dalit sisters in Kundapur (2)
Udupi/ Mangalore: Two persons were arrested for allegedly raping two girls belonging to a Scheduled Tribe at a village in Kundapur taluk of Udupi district on Monday. According to the district police, the two accused had been identified as Vinod and Prajeet, both about 21 years. Vinod and Prajeet are relatives and own an autorickshaw. They used to occasionally take the two girls, both sisters, aged 18 and 16 years, in autorickshaw from their (girls’) house to a cashew factory about six kilometres away, for the last one-and-a-half years. During this period, they developed a physical relationship with them. Both Vinod and Prajeet promised to marry the girls, then minors, and later went back on their word.  A case has been registered under Sections 376 and 417 of IPC, the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, Section 4 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, on a complaint given by the mother of the two girls at Kollur police station and further investigations were on, the police said. (The Hindu 30/7/13)

9. Another dalit-vanniyar couple run into community hurdle (2)
CHENNAI: The ill-fated Divya-Elavarasan marriage, and the violence it triggered, has shattered peace in another household where a dalit-vanniyar couple was leading a peaceful life for more than three years. Now the dalit woman, S Sudha , who married a vanniyar man in April 2010 at Kadaiyampatti village in Dharmapuri district , has come knocking at the doors of the Madras high court, claiming that the entire family, including her in-laws , had been excommunicated. She sought protection from ‘community leaders’ Justice K K Sasidharan, before whom the matter came up for hearing, directed the Dharmapuri district administration to provide police protection to Sudha and her family members, and ensure that they lived peacefully without any threat or attack from the 21 identified individuals of the village. Lamenting the lack of camaraderie among people from different castes, Justice Sasidharan said: “This petition projects a sorry state of affairs in Tamil Nadu, and Dharmapuri district in particular. The petitioner (Sudha) had a love affair with a man of another community resulting in their marriage. She now wants to live in the village along with her in-laws . In a matter of this nature, the court has to strike a balance between the right of the petitioner to live in the village and the need to preserve peace and tranquillity in the area.” Sudha said that after the Divya-Elavarasan episode, violence broke out in Dharmapuri. She claimed that members of the vanniyar community in the village boycotted her family. Life became so miserable that she was forced to leave the village, she said, adding that 21 local leaders conducted a katta panchayat (kangaroo court) and excommunicated her and the family. She wanted police protection to live in the village. When the matter was taken up, the government pleader informed the court that police were already providing protection to her and that two sub-inspectors and eight constables had been posted for their protection. Recording the submissions, Justice Sasidharan asked the Dharmapuri superintendent of police to ensure that Sudha’s family was able to live peacefully, and was allowed to use the village well and other common amenities without any problem…. (Times of India 31/7/13)

10. Protect Dalit woman, Dharmapuri SP told (2)
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has directed the Dharmapuri district Superintendent of Police to provide protection to Dalit woman S Sudha, who married an upper-caste man and thereby earned the wrath of the villagers and was ex-communicated. This writ petition projected a sorry state-of-affairs prevailing in the State in general and more  particularly in Dharmapuri, Justice KK Sasidharan observed on July 26. In a matter of this nature, the court had to strike a balance between the right of the petitioner to live in the village and the need to preserve the peace and tranquility in the area, the judge added. It was open to Sudha to enter her village and live along with her in-laws. The police should ensure that she lived peacefully without any threat or attack by 21 persons named in her affidavit, or their men. The police protection must be meaningful and they should ensure that the petitioner was permitted to take water and use other common amenities without any problem, the judge said while passing interim orders on a writ petition from Sudha. The judge also issued notices to the 21 persons, returnable by August 19. (new Indian Express 31/7/13)

11. Why are we so negative towards HIV+? (3)
VARANASI: Despite several efforts to break the myths regarding HIV and HIV+ patients, the discrimination exits even in hospitals. A 40-year-old patient Ram (name changed) has been allegedly denied a proper medical care by doctors and paramedical staff in Shiv Prasad Gupta (SPG) Divisional Hospital just because he is HIV+.While the strict laws for the discrimination against HIV positive people is lingering for several years in the country, the fact that HIV patients are ostracized and face discrimination even in hospitals is mocking at the claims and promises of the health services offered by the government. Admitted on bed number of 12 of ward number 2 for past 15 days, Ram is suffering from severe septic infection in his left leg. He was involved in drug addiction of all kinds and received injury in his leg along with HIV infection through the infected syringe as told by him. When TOI spoke to the patient and his mother, who was present with him on the occasion, it came to light that despite being admitted in the hospital for past 15 days, no paramedical staff or doctor has taken note of his illness. “They do not even touch me, forget bandaging the wounds. I am feeling very helpless. I want to die than to suffer the pain of this infection. When the pain becomes very severe, my mother changes my bandages as the hospital staff has refused to attend me,” said Ram. According to his mother, Surrati Devi, the hospital staff make her change his bandage while on paper they put it as being treated by the hospital staff. “I wash his wounds and wrap the bandages and then clean the floor myself,” she said. “If the floor is not cleaned properly and some fluid from the ointment or the injury is left on the floor, the staff starts shouting and threat me to clean the floor properly,” she added. Notably, the patient is under the observation of Dr MP Mishra who was absent to give his comment on the alleged demarcation. The family members have also alleged that some of the staff demanded money to attend the patient. A paramedical staff, who was attending to another patient in the same ward said, “The hospital has no different arrangement for the HIV patients and we are not trained to attend him. We can get infected.” Notably, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) does not support separate ward for AIDS patients and as per the NACO the AIDS patients should be treated at par with general patients and there should be no discrimination in treatment provided to them. While the superintendent in chief, Dr VK Srivastava denied any discrimination for HIV patients prevailing in the hospital premises, the chief medical officer of the district, Dr MP Chaurasia himself accepted that the divisional hospital does not treat its HIV patients rightly. “Such complaints are often received in the hospital. It is shear ignorance prevailing among the staff of the hospital. HIV does not spread through the wounds of the patients. Moreover, they should be treated with compassion. I will check the matter with SIC of the hospital,” he added. When district magistrate, Pranjal Yadav was informed about the issue, he was astonished to find such discrimination prevailing in one of the largest hospitals of Varanasi division. He assured to check into the matter as soon as possible…. (Times of India 25/7/13)

12. AIDS victims 5 kids made to live in graveyard (3)
LUCKNOW: Barely three weeks before the nation celebrates its 66th Independence Day, a tale of gross ignominy and ignorance has come to the fore. A family of five children of AIDS victims in Pratapgarh’s Jamua village have been reportedly ostracized, and were forced to live in the graveyards for the past three months. With virtually no place to go, the children have made the graveyard their home. A tattered tarpaulin tent and two broken cots are now home for them. And in order to meet their food requirements, the children primarily depend on offerings by villagers. The five children – the youngest who is a 7-year-old – have been living in a graveyard after the death of their parents due to AIDS. Fearing that others may contract the virus from the children – four boys and one girl – their relatives and others forced them out of the village almost three months back. The oldest among the siblings is a boy aged 17. Taking cognizance of media reports about the incident, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav said that he has directed the administration to shift the four children to a government accommodation. “I have asked the administration to immediately shift these children to the government guest house,” Akhilesh Yadav said, and added, “I am asking for bank accounts for these children and will deposit Rs 1 lakh in each account. Apart from this facilities under the Lohia Awas Yojna and BPL cards would be provided to them.” Narrating their plight, one of the ostracized child said, “Two years ago, our father died of AIDS and subsequently our mother too got infected, and she succumbed to AIDS last month. We used to live with our relatives in the village, but they also threw us out. Our father was a truck driver and after contracting AIDS, the treatment continued for almost 8-9 months. However, there was no tangible improvement in his health conditions. Soon after this, our uncles and other relatives spread rumour that our entire family is infected by the disease and forced us to move out of the village.” When contacted, district magistrate, Vidhya Bhushan said, “The district administration will take every step to ensure that the children do not face any more problems. I have visited the village and directed SDM Pratapgarh to provide them land for a house besides making other arrangements. We are also taking steps to make sure that children do not face any further social boycott.” In addition to this, the police have also been asked to mediate in resolving the matter with their family members, the DM said. Blood samples of all five would be sent for medical examination and the siblings would be admitted to Kasturba Vidyalaya for education. When asked to comment on the medical conditions of the children, Pratapgarh CMO Dr Vinod Kumar Pandey said, “We will send a team at the village to conduct a test on the kids. We will provide all medical facilities to the kids and will set up camps to spread awareness and clear the myths prevailing among the villagers.” (Times of India 26/7/13)

13. An evening with children with HIV/AIDS (3)
JAIPUR: Performance of children at a cultural evening organized by Rays-Asha ki Ek Kiran mesmerized their in the city on Saturday. The children also presented a one act play written by Bhatendu Harishchandra throwing light on various turmoils a common man goes through because of incompetent leaders and their irrational and unjust policies. The cultural event was organized as an annual celebration for children living with HIV/AIDS. Rays president Capt Gurinder Virk said, “The aim of the organization is to reach out to more and more HIV affected and infected children. All these kids need is love and time.” The organization claimed that it looks after food, clothing, education, entertainment and ensure that they get proper medication and a healthy environment to live in. Above all, these children also get love and attention. All these children attend regular schools along and are taught various hobby based subjects to enhance their skills. (Times of India 28/7/13)

14. After dispute, new plot for children who lived in graveyard after parents’ death (3)
Allahabad: The Pratapgarh administration on Monday provided an alternative plot of land to the children who were allegedly ostracised by villagers after the death of their parents reportedly due to AIDS in Jamua village of the district. The decision came in the wake of a dispute arising on the plot of land, measuring around 1.5 biswa, which was given to them by the administration last Friday. On Sunday, the property was found to be disputed with one party claiming that they had a stay order from the civil court regarding possession of the plot. Another party alleged that their plot of land was adjacent to the one given to the children and there should be proper measurement so that their land is not encroached upon. Pratapgarh District Magistrate Vidya Bhushan had summoned both parties on Sunday and, subsequently, directed the Tehsildar (Sadar) to find an alternative plot that was free from disputes. “A plot of land near the primary school of the village has been given to the children on lease. It will now be recorded under their name. The plot is of their choice,” said Bhushan. Earlier, a zila panchayat member had claimed that the plot given to the children belonged to his sister-in-law, who was a resident of the same village. Later, he offered to give away the land to the children. “Yesterday, this party was vocal in claiming that the land belonged to his relative and that he had a stay from a civil court. Later, he got ready to offer them to children. We thought it would not be proper to give a disputed land to the children, as later they could have faced problems. Therefore, an alternative, dispute-free plot was found,” said Bhushan. The five children, four minor boys and a minor girl, had lived in a makeshift tent near a graveyard for about a month after their mother died in June. The children’s father had died more than five years ago. The villagers claimed that they had died due to AIDS, following which the children were fearful of contracting the disease. Consequently, they were living outside the village. (Indian Express 30/7/13)

15. Settle Nandigram dispute, Calcutta HC tells CBI (4)
KOLKATA: Disagreement between the state and CBI continued in Calcutta high court on Thursday over inclusion of the names of certain political leaders and police officials in the chargesheet for from the investigating agency’s probe into the March 14, 2007 Nandigram carnage. Former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is reportedly a key politician, whose exclusion from the chargesheet, has irked the Mamata Banerjee government. On Thursday, the division bench of justices Ashim Kumar Banerjee and Mrinal Kanti Choudhury directed the CBI to sit with the government and report to the court at the next hearing, fixed on September 23. The directive came after the CBI counsel repeated his earlier argument that the agency had sought the state’s sanction to charge sheet five IPS officers. The government, the counsel said, was insisting that names of some political leaders and senior police officials be included. The counsel, however, did not name either Bhattacharjee or any police officer in open court. Expressing dismay over persistent disagreement between the state and CBI over the chargesheet, the court said this could not continue. The court directed the CBI to initiate discussions with the state to settle the issue over framing the chargesheet in the 2007 Nandigram firing case. Responding to a petition by a Nandigram firing victim’s kin Sukumar Jana, the court directed that a report of the meeting between the state and CBI be filed during the next hearing. In his petition, Jana alleged ever since the high court ordered a CBI probe in November 2007, the victims’ relatives were not informed about the probe by the central investigating agency. At the last hearing on June 21, state counsel Subrata Talukdar had submitted a report before the division bench in response to an earlier report by the CBI. The states report said, “The report submitted by CBI at the court has certain shortcomings, inconsistencies and drawbacks which we have mentioned in our report.” The court had directed the CBI to respond to the state’s report. On Thursday, the CBI reiterated its plea that its investigation had found evidence against five police officers and it had sought the state’s sanction to prosecute them. (Times of India 26/7/13)

16. Odisha villagers reject Vedanta mining plan (4)
Bhubaneswar: Vedanta’s plan to mine Odisha’s Niyamngiri hills received a further jolt Monday with villagers opposing it unanimously at the seventh gram sabha (meeting) in the state. “Like the previous gram sabhas, villagers at Phuldumer in Kalahandi district said no to mining,” protest leader Siddharth Nayak, who witnessed the meeting, told IANS. Vedanta has set up a one million tonne per annum alumina refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, about 600 km from Bhubaneswar. However, it could never operate the plant at full capacity due to shortage of bauxite, the key raw material used to produce alumina. Vedanta had entered into an arrangement with the state government for supply of bauxite through a state agency from nearby Niyamgiri hills, but the move was challenged by anti-displacement  groups. The Supreme Court April 18 asked the state to go to gram sabhas to understand the religious and cultural aspects of tribals in the region. The apex court’s forest bench, headed by Justice Aftab Alam, said the gram sabhas would look into the religious and cultural aspects of the (Dongaria Kondh) tribals in the region in three months and take a decision. The state government, which decided to hold meetings in 12 villages, held such meetings at seven villages Monday. People of all the seven villages where gram sabhas were held have passed resolutions against mining and asserted their religious and cultural rights over the hills, another protester Prafulla Samantara told IANS. (Hindustan Times 29/7/13)

17. Farmers get notice for land acquisition (4)
AURANGABAD: Hundreds of farmers, who occupied SEZ land in Shendra last week, were called for a meeting today to discuss compensation to acquire their land. They were issued notices three days after they began tilling and sowing on the 35 hectare land. The district administration sent notices to the farmers in Wadkha Nathsagar in five star Shendra industrial estate on July 26. The notice invited one of them to discuss the acquisition of his land and finalising the rate of compensation on July 29. The farmers on Monday claimed that the officials have violated the orders of the court. Officials refused to comment on the issue. Two days After the farmers occupied 35 hectare land in Wadkha Nathsagar in Five Star Shendra Industrial Estate on July 23, seven days ago, the district administration shot a notice on July 26 inviting one of the farmers to discuss the acquisition of his land and finalising the rate of compensation in lieu of the prime land on Monday July 29. The sub-divisional officer and land acquisition officer, Aurangabad, through the notice issued on July 26 invited the farmers to discuss and finalise the rates of compensation for a piece of land sizing over four hectares and falling in the limits of the Shendra industrial estate. The notice stated that as the said land falls within the limits of the area proposed for acquisition under the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation Act 1961, the owners of the piece of land should come to the district collectorate for discussion and finalisation of the compensation. The farmers, however, took a strong objection to the move by the administration. The farmers made a representation and once again pressed for their demand of a high level probe by a retired judge into the acquisition and allotment of land in the district. The farmers said that though they had not requested or applied for hearing into the land acquisitions, they had received notices stating that as requested by the farmers, they are being summoned for the hearing. In their representation, the farmers have made, stated that they no more trust the administration of paying any heed to their justified demands including a probe in to the fraudulent documents prepared by the government officials for usurping their prime land and later handing them over to the private companies at throw away prices. demanded an inquiry into the entire process of land acquisition by the irrigation department since 1989. A high level probe to check how the MIDC, in 2007, certified possession of 100 hectare with clear ownership certificate. Using this certificate, the pharma company applied for SEZ and was finally approved. All the signatures and thumb impressions on agreement copies, possession receipts and other related documents should be probed for their authenticity and also a high level probe in the use of police force for ousting the farmers in December 2008. They farmers earlier had submitted a memorandum containing their demands including stern action against those involved in fraudulent acquisition of their farm land. (Times of India 30/7/13)

18. Centre, Chhattisgarh ignoring SC order on Salwa Judum: HRF (6)
HYDERABAD: Though it has been more than two years since the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court declaring Salwa Judum as illegal and ordering its disbanding, the central and the Chhattisgarh governments have failed to act, Human Rights Forum  general secretary VS Krishna has said. Speaking on ‘Continuing Tragedy of Adivasi Killings’ at the fourth district convention of the forum here on Friday, he said the violence against Adivasis in the Dandakaranya was continuing unabated. “The Supreme Court, in its judgment on April 5, 2011, asked the central government to disband Salwa Judum, which is illegal in the first place, vacate the CRPF camps from schools and primary health centres (PHCs), initiate measures to rehabilitate the victims of Salwa Judum violence and file FIRs on complaints lodged by tribal people against atrocities committed on them. The court asked the government to submit an Action-Taken Report in six weeks’ time but the central and Chhattisgarh governments chose to ignore the directives. ‘’When we visited some villages situated in the Gangulur police station limits in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh recently, there were eight CRPF camps, three of them in school buildings. And there was no rehabilitation of the victims as suggested by the apex court,’’ Krishna said. “The Supreme Court had asked the CBI to investigate the burning of 300 houses, murders and rapes in three villages – Tadimetla, Morpalli and Timmapuram in South Bastar district – which happened in March 2011. When some CBI officers visited the villages for investigation, they were terrorised. Now, they are holding sittings at Jagdalpur, a long way from the three villages. People have no financial or other means to go to Jagdalpur to depose before the CBI,’’ he said. Giving a grim picture of why justice was not prevailing in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh, which is caught between the Maoist movement and state-sponsored violence, the HRF general secretary said that magisterial inquiry was ordered in only eight of the 550 cases, and seven of them were still pending. “The Salwa Judum had burnt 644 villages, killed about 1,200 people and committed innumerable rapes,’’ he alleged. ‘’Now, the former SPOs of Salwa Judum are rehabilitated in special armed auxiliary force and provided with automatic weapons with four-fold hike in the salary they used to get previously,’’ he said. Citing the killings of innocent Adivasis at Sarkeguda in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on June 28, 2012 and at Edesmeta in the same district on May 17, 2013 during Beej Pondum (seed festival), in which half of the victims were minors, Krishna said the state violence against tribals was continuing unabated. ‘’Violence forced many tribal people to cross over to Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh where they are facing untold harassment from police and forest personnel and others as well. Their temporary huts were being burnt down repeatedly and bind-over cases foisted on them. Police were forcing the Adivasis to work without wages whenever they report to the police station as directed by the police,’’ he said. The HRF would bring out a report on the violence against Adivasis, which would be discussed at its state convention to be held at Visakhapatnam in October. (The New Indian Express 27/7/13)

19. Centre to amend Constitution to empower tribals: Tripura minister (6)
Agartala, July 27 (IANS): The Central Government would soon move a Constitution Amendment Bill in the Parliament to delegate more powers to the tribal autonomous councils in the Northeast, Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister Aghore Debbarma said here on Friday. “The Central Government has taken opinions from the State governments and the tribal autonomous councils of the northeastern region about the proposed delegation of powers to the self-governing bodies,” Debbarma told reporters. He said: “Before preparing the Constitution Amendment Bill, the Central Government has sought the views of the State governments and the tribal autonomous councils in December last year. The Left Front government in Tripura has sent its opinions last week.” There are 16 tribal autonomous district councils (ADCs) in the Northeast, facilitating the rights of governance to local bodies by the tribals, who constitute 27 percent of the region’s 40.55 million people. Of the 16 autonomous councils, six are in Manipur, three each in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram, and one in Tripura. Debbarma, a tribal leader and member of the Communist Party of India-Marxist central committee, said the Left Front government has opposed only one proposal out of the 12 central government’s proposals to empower the ADCs. “We opposed the proposal for sending report by the ADCs to the president of India through the state governor once in three months. This is against the federal structure of the Indian constitution,” the minister said. “The Left Front has already given huge powers to the TTAADC (Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council) and holding regular elections in the council. Eight departments including education, forest, agriculture and health, have already been handed over to the TTAADC,” Debbarma said. The TTAADC, which facilitates the socio-economic development of tribals and has jurisdiction over two-thirds of the state’s geographical area, was set up in 1985. Tribals form a third of Tripura’s 3.7 million people. The central government’s 12 proposals to empower the ADCs include setting up of village councils in the ADC areas like that of three-tier panchayats, 30 percent reservation of seats for the women and formulation of budget by the ADCs themselves. “We have already fulfilled most of the central government’s proposals including regular holding of village council elections. Tripura government already had reserved 50 percent seats in both gram panchayats (outside TTAADC areas) and village committees in the ADC areas for the women,” the minister added. Earlier this month, Leader of Opposition in the Tripura assembly Ratan Lal Nath led a five-member delegation from Tripura and met union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and demanded early empowerment of the ADCs in the northeastern region. “The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government has been considering the idea of amending the sixth schedule of the constitution to give more powers to the autonomous district councils of the northeastern region,” Nath had told reporters here. (Assam Tribune 27/7/13)

20. 7 out of 12 Odisha villages vote against Vedanta project (6)
BHAWANIPATNA: Vedanta Aluminium Ltd’s plan to mine Niyamgiri hills got dashed on Monday with the seventh gram sabha opposing the move. The Supreme Court had ordered gram sabhas to vote on bauxite mining in the hills. All six gram sabhas – three in Kalahandi district and three in Rayagada – rejected the proposal. There will be five more such meets, but the result is clear: the tribal vote is against the project. Phuldumer village, the scene of action on Monday, is hardly 10 km from the VAL refinery under Junagarh block in Kalahandi district. Earlier Dongria and Kutia Kondhs had vehemently opposed the mining bid in the three gram sabhas at Kalahandi’s Tadijhola, Kunakadu and Palbori villages on July 23, 24 and 25. Fearing adverse impact of mining on their culture and religion, all 49 villagers present at Monday’s meet, said an emphatic no, said tehsildar (Lanjigarh) Kailash Nayak. Of 65 voters, 16 did not turn up. The 49 included 17 men and 32 on the distaff side. Five SC voters and 44 from ST community totted up to 49 – the largest at any sabha in Kalahandi so far. The proceedings at the gram sabha, supervised by additional district judge (vigilance), Pramod Kumar Jena, were video recorded. Presiding over the meeting, ward member Rama Majhi said, “We survive here for the forest produce and without Niyamgiri hills we can’t live.” On Tuesday, the tribals would air their views at Ijurpa, the last gram sabha to be held in Kalahandi where four voters are likely to attend. As Maoists are observing martyrs’ week since Sunday, the meet was held under a security blanket. Activist Prafulla Samantara, in a statement issued in Bhubaneswar, said the “tribals took the decision to protect their culture and tradition”. (Times of India 30/7/13)

21. RSS men rape, take away tribal girls: Kantilal Bhuria (6)
Bhopal: If Madhya Pradesh Congress chief Kantilal Bhuria is to be believed, RSS activists run away with beautiful tribal girls from every village they set foot in. “They enter the house on the pretext of having meals but keep an eye on our girls,” the former Union minister told a meeting of the Congress’s tribal unit in Bhopal Monday. He also listed several instances of rape and molestation allegedly involving RSS men. “Don’t let them enter your villages,” the tribal leader told his community. “If they have already entered, throw them out the way you avoid a curse.” Later, speaking to The Indian Express, Bhuria alleged that these RSS activists “get emboldened because police don’t register complaints against them” and accused the BJP government of going soft on them. Bhuria is considered a protégé of Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh, who has long been a vehement critic of the RSS. Digvijaya had recently reiterated his allegation that the RSS trains its cadre in bomb-making. Bhuria’s remarks did not go down well with RSS and BJP supporters who clashed with Congress workers in Sagar. Some activists from both sides were reportedly injured. Rajendra Bapat, an RSS activist and lawyer from Dewas, filed a criminal case against Bhuria for hurting his sentiments and insulting an ideology. He accused the Congress leader of creating an atmosphere of distrust between tribals and non-tribals. he court will hear the complaint on August 1. (Indian Express 31/7/13)

22. Punish official who drove junior to slit wrists: NCW (8)
NEW DELHI: Taking a sharp view of allegations of workplace harassment that drove a senior woman officer to slit her wrists in the ministry of women and child development (WCD), the National Commission for Women (NCW) has taken up cudgels against its own nodal ministry. The commission has condemned the incident saying it would set a bad precedent if gone unpunished. When asked about the incident, NCW chairperson Mamta Sharma said, “I have received several anguished letters from women’s rights activists. I think this incident where a junior officer is harassed, abused and then transferred out by a senior officer is condemnable. If it goes unpunished, it will set a bad precedent.” The WCD ministry’s economic advisor Rugmini Parmar allegedly slit her wrists on July 23 after several months of harassment and abuse by her senior officer and secretary Nita Chowdhury. According to sources, the incident happened after a particularly volatile meeting of senior officials on Tuesday where the insults left Parmar upset and on the verge of suicide. She reportedly slashed her wrists using a knife while in her office at Shastri Bhawan. She was taken to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for medical attention and according to sources, has now joined the Directorate of Economics and Statistics in the finance ministry. Stepping up pressure, economic services officials plan to take up the issue with the finance minister and cabinet secretary next week. Parmar is an Indian Economic Services (IES) officer of 1981 batch. According to sources, IES officers will demand Chowdhury’s repatriation to Uttar Pradesh, her parent cadre. Chowdhury is an IAS officer of 1977 batch. While neither WCD minister Krishna Tirath or secretary Nita Chowdhury have offered an explanation on the case, Sharma’s public statement condemning the incident has prepared the ground for ministerial action in the matter. (Times of India 27/7/13)

23. Indian man given death penalty in UAE for raping 7-year-old (8)
Dubai: An Indian man was today sentenced to death by a UAE court for raping a seven-year-old Emirati girl at an Abu Dhabi school where he worked as a cleaner. The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court bench, presided over by Judge Sayyed Abdel Basir, handed down the capital punishment, which was unanimously reached with two other judges, to the 56-year-old Indian school concierge. He was found guilty of three charges of rape, sexual assault and making killing threats, The Khaleej Times reported. The court referred the civil lawsuit to the competent civil court. The family of the Emirati girl has been claiming Dirham 5 million in damages. Earlier, counsel Hussein Al Jaziri, on behalf of the family, argued in the pleas he submitted to the court that the private school was also to be blamed in the pupil’s ordeal as it failed to secure the safety of one of its students because of its shortcoming in the control and surveillance of its workers. “The girl and her parents have suffered psychological damage and trauma following the incident. They will continue to suffer because of what happened,” Al Jaziri said. According to the prosecution records, the incident happened on April 14 when the accused dragged the girl against her will to the school kitchen where he raped her. She had been on her way back from the administration office where she dropped some papers as per her teacher’s request. “This is in itself a violation of the educational convention,” argued Al Jaziri. The incident was discovered when the girl’s aunt found her laying down on the floor after she returned home from school. She noticed the girl had a bad smell on her and asked what was wrong. The girl eventually spoke up and told her mother that it was a worker at her school who raped her. The girl said that the worker used to sexually assault her. She told her mother that she did not tell them or her teachers about his doings before because she was afraid of him as he had threatened to kill her and her mother. The prosecution had sought the maximum penalty. The accused denied in the interrogation of having raped or assaulted the girl. He alleged he only hugged and touched her inappropriately. According to the forensic report, the girl’s examination showed she was raped and sexually abused. The verdict will now automatically go to the appeal as per article 230 of the Criminal Procedures Law. (Deccan Herald 29/7/13)

24. NWC chief vows to fight for RJ Sneha (8)
RANCHI: National Women’s Commission (NWC) has taken cognizance of the mysterious death of Ranchi’s first radio jockey Sneha Singh and the commission will look into the case, NWC chairperson Mamta Sharma, who is in the city for a discussion on human trafficking, said on Monday. The event has been organised by Delhi-based NGO ShaktiVahini with support of JharkhandMahilaSamakhya Society and CID Jharkhand. Talking to a group of activists fighting for justice for Sneha, Sharma said: “Give me the details of the case. I will personally look into the matter and directly talk to the chief minister.” Sneha, 25, a resident of Jamshedpur completed her course on rural management from Xavier Institute of Social Services and was working with Jeevika, a Bihar government initiative, was found hanging in a hotel room in Munger, where she was on an official tour, on July 23. Though Bihar police claim that Sneha had committed suicide, many activists believe she was raped and murdered. Sharma also said she will fight for the rights of Navin Horo of Torpa Village, whose daughter Jyoti Mariam Horo went to Delhi to work as a domestic help but died within a month. She said: “I will make sure that he is compensated by the government.” Sharma said the best way to curb trafficking is to educate village girls. “They need to be educated and made aware about their security. Even new police recruits should be given a month’s special training on how to deal with women and children,” she said. Sharma said obscenity presented in the form of advertisements, movies, songs and daily soaps were the reason for the increasing incidents of crimes against. “I do not understand why a girl has to wear bikini in an advertisement for shoes. In every commercial, a girl is used as a prop. This must be stopped. I can not stop such programmes on my own, but I have written to the censor board several times asking them to put an end to such vulgarity,” she added. (Times of India 30/7/13)

25. On new top cop’s list: Safety of women, vigilance on streets (8)
New Delhi: Bassi, who is the Special Commissioner of Police (Administration), will take over after Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar retires on Wednesday. Speaking to Newsline on Tuesday, Bassi said, “To ensure safety of women would be one of our priorities in the Capital. Areas where women’s safety is a problem and where women are vulnerable shall be identified and a strict policy to deal with such problems will be implemented,” he said. According to Bassi, one of his top priorities as the police chief would be to motivate personnel to give in their best. “We would mainly focus on three things — prevention and detection of crime, security of the populace, and to ensure that proper law and order is maintained,” he said. Since Bassi has served as the Special CP (Administration), he has been involved in the process of recruitment. He is well-versed with the problems that officials face on ground. “Our objective is to enhance our capacity for effective policing,” he said. Bassi said problems like street crime could be reduced by effective positioning of police pickets. “Increased night patrolling, well-positioned pickets and increased visibility of police personnel on Delhi roads will prove to be a deterrent to anti-social elements and would ensure better security,” he said. (Indian Express 31/7/13)

26. Muslims don’t believe Indian Mujahideen exists, says Rahman Khan (12)
New Delhi: On the day a Delhi court convicted suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) member Shahzad Ahmad in the Batla House encounter, Minority Affairs Minister K Rehman Khan said the Muslim community in general did not believe in the existence of the outfit. He, however, added that he was only reflecting a “feeling” among the community. Speaking to The Indian Express, Khan said: “Unlike other organisations, the Muslim community is not buying its existence in the country… As far as the IM is concerned, nobody knows what it is, where it was formed, how it was formed and who runs it.” Asked if he was denying the existence of the outfit, Khan said he was neither denying nor questioning anything, but pointed out that “the community has that feeling”.He also said there were some “misguided” youths in every section of society, and drew parallels with the Bajrang Dal. While declining to comment on reports that the IM was formed after the Gujarat riots, Khan asserted that there was “a sense of insecurity” and “anger” among the Muslims after the Babri Masjid demoliton and the Gujarat riots. “That is a fact which nobody can deny,” he said. “Muslims of India have total commitment to the country’s security,” he added. He said barring the Batla House conviction, no Muslim has been found guilty in a terror case. “It is only suspected. A few are suspected… their involvement is not proved… Even in Kashmir, terrorists are coming from outside the country… With such a large population, have you ever found a single Indian Muslim going and supporting terrorists in Kashmir?” he asked. “Some youths are misguided. Some of the fundamentalist Hindu youths may also be misguided… Hindu fundamentalist organisations like Bajrang Dal…What is it that they are doing? What about moral policing and all? What are they doing? How do you describe this attitude of some misguided Hindu organisations? Why don’t you talk about that? Who will control them? You take some suspected youth from the Muslim community…but such elements are free to do whatever they like,” he said… (Indian Express 26/7/13)

27. 2008 serial blasts: Court rejects plea for NBW against IM man (12)
New Delhi: In a setback to Delhi Police, a court has rejected its plea to issue non-bailable warrant against a suspected active member of Indian Mujahideen alleged to have helped some modules involved in 2008 serial blasts to flee India after Batla House encounter. The court said it cannot issue NBW against Faizan Ahmed Sultan as he was never named as an accused or a suspect in the charge sheets filed in connection with the September 13, 2008 blasts. Additional Sessions Judge Narinder Kumar dismissed the plea of Delhi Police seeking issuance of NBW which would have helped it in the procedure of extraditing Faizan who is holed up in Dubai. The police had said Faizan is sheltering absconding accused in the 2008 blasts case and there is information with the government that he is now-a-days in Dubai and is to be got extradited on basis of NBWs being sought from the court. “This court has no jurisdiction to take cognisance against Faizan Ahmed, what to say of issuing NBWs against him, when he was not arrayed as accused in any of the charge sheets already submitted and no further supplementary charge sheet has so far been presented in the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or got committed to this Court on the basis of any further investigation,” the ASJ said. He noted that Faizan was not made an accused in the charge sheets filed before the magisterial court on February 27, 2009 for offences under?sections 121, 121-A, 122, 123 (relating to waging war against government of India), murder, conspiracy under IPC and other offences under the Explosive Substances Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. (Zee News 26/7/13)

28. 15 injured in Guwahati grenade blast by suspected ULFA militants (12)
GUWAHATI: At least 15 persons were injured, two of them seriously, in a grenade blast on Sunday night at the busy Paltan Bazar area near the railway station here, the fifth such incident in the state in a week. The blast, suspected to be a handiwork of the banned ULFA, took place when police was checking vehicles near the station at G S Road. The injured include two police home guard personnel. “The blast took place at 7:55 pm near the Paltan Bazar police station, which is next to the railway station… We have to investigate who did this, but inputs say it is ULFA,” Kamrup (Metro) Deputy Commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri told reporters on the spot. “15 persons were injured. Of them, two are serious. All the injured have been taken to GMC Hospital,” Agnihotri said. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi condemned the incident and asked the district administration to identify the culprits and take necessary action. This is the fifth such incident in the state in last seven days. ULFA militants normally try to create trouble during the run-up to the Independence Day. Last week, six persons were injured in a grenade blast at a busy market area in Bokolia town in Karbi Anglong district. Suspected anti-talk ULFA faction triggered three serial grenade blasts in Lakhimpur district, injuring five persons in the high security Deputy Commissioner Court road, jail Road and Chawlkhowa areas. Following these, many districts tightened the security and took precautionary measures. Prohibitory orders were clamped in many districts with immediate effect. Police has already arrested four persons, including an ULFA cadre and three surrendered members of the outfit, in connection with the Lakhimpur incident. Another militant, who was given the task to carry out a blast in Dibrugarh has surrendered. Gogoi had yesterday said the strength of ULFA has declined and security forces have foiled many of their attempts. The banned organisation had observed its annual ‘Martyr’s Day’ yesterday. Stating that the government has alerted all districts to keep a strict vigil, Gogoi had accused the banned outfit of getting help from “more than one country” to destabilise peace and development in the state. (DNA 28/7/13)

29. Militants attack Pakistan’s central jail, army called in (12)
Islamabad, July 30 : The Pakistan Army was called in after an unknown number of militants carrying heavy weapons stormed a central jail in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province late Monday, Geo News reported. The Central Jail, located in Dera Ismail Khan city, was housing as many as 5,000 prisoners including 250 inmates belonging to various banned outfits. Later, proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack on jail, saying 100 militants, including suicide bombers took part in it. After the area plunged into darkness as militants destroyed electricity transformers, a curfew was clamped. Deputy Commissioner Mushtaq Jadoon said it had been imposed to avoid any damage to public. He claimed that militants were still holed up in Twon Committee locality near the detention facility. But he was not immediately sure if any prisoner had fled or how many armed men launched the attack. The officer, however, said that six suspects were arrested while two policemen with minor injuries were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Independent sources claimed that at least 40 prisoners were freed in the attack. It appeared to be the largest jail break after Bannu mass jail breakout in which hundreds of militants including a key Taliban figure involved in a life attempt on former president Pervez Musharraf were freed. However, officials didn’t confirm the report. Sources said gun shots and explosions were also heard inside the prison. They said that the militants targeted police vehicles with hand grenades. (New Kerala 30/7/2013)

30. UN welcomes new policy to protect displaced Yemenis (13)
New York, July 24 : Yemen’s new national policy to protect half a million people displaced by conflict represents “a major step forward,” the United Nations refugee agency said Tuesday. “The Government approved the policy in late June, and it aimed to protect the more than half a million Yemenis who had been forced to flee their homes in recent years and to help solve the problem of displacement within the Gulf State. UNHCR saw this as a major step forward,” the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, said at a news briefing in Geneva. The national policy seeks to protect and assist not only people who were displaced by conflict and violence but also by natural disasters – all events that can destroy communities and leave families and individuals struggling to survive. Edwards said UNHCR had worked with the Government to develop the national policy for internally displaced persons (IDPs) through a series of meetings that brought together Government officials, IDPs, returnees, host communities, international agencies and donors. The new policy establishes a Supreme Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Mohammed Basindawa, and it features three strategic goals: preventing and coping with arbitrary displacement, supporting not only IDPs but also the communities that host them and other communities affected by displacement, and creating the conditions for durable solutions – such as employment, local integration and returning home. UNHCR has previously worked with the Yemeni Government and its partners to provide support to more than 200,000 refugees, tens of thousands of asylum-seekers and hundreds of thousands of displaced people. )New Kerala 24/7/13)

31. Tough times follow Afghan refugees fleeing Taliban to Delhi (13)
New Delhi: Sharifa Jan fled Afghanistan for India last year when the Taliban killed her husband and threatened her six children. New Delhi’s chaos baffled her but the city also provided a safe haven. But like thousands of other Afghan refugees and asylum seekers in India her security comes at a price: Jan’s family is trapped in limbo. The Afghans don’t have work permits. Many have trouble enrolling their children in school. They can’t even get a local phone. “If today there is no education, no good food and drink, no good living conditions, then what will they become in the future?” Jan, 40, said of her children. “They won’t become anything.”With their blue United Nations refugee cards, the Afghans do little more than just survive. The Afghan refugees `’need help and more attention,” said M. Ashraf Haidari, deputy chief of mission of the Afghan embassy in India. Sayeed Habib Hadat, who has degrees in English and information technology, survives by working informally as a translator at pharmacies for Afghan patients. “We just solved one of our problems, that is, our lives are saved. But here are a lot more problems,” said Hadat, 28, who fled Afghanistan last year. His family has applied for resettlement in Australia in hopes they can finally start building their future. Australia recently vowed to resettle all refugees who arrive in the country by boat on the island nation of Papua New Guinea. The move is seen as a way to deter an increasing number of asylum seekers. Afghanistan is among the largest sources of asylum seekers reaching Australia. There were more than 18,000 Afghan refugees in India as of December 2011, according to the foreign ministry. It is unclear how many more unregistered Afghans are living here. Last year the largest number of refugees worldwide – 2.6 million in 82 countries – were from Afghanistan, according to a report released by the United Nations in June. Afghanistan has been the main source of refugees for over three decades with numbers fluctuating from 500,000 in 1979 to more than 6.3 million at the peak of the conflict in 1990. Ninety-five percent of Afghan refugees are in Pakistan and Iran, where many of them live in squalid camps… (Indian Express 25/7/13)

32. UN, Lebanon discuss measures for Syrian refugees (13)
Beirut, July 27 : The UN refugee agency is negotiating with Lebanon over the country’s plan to enforce new border controls that could affect the flow of Syrian refugees. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Beirut Ninette Kelley said it Friday in a statement, Xinhua reported Friday. “We understand from the government that they are now exerting stricter scrutiny at the border.” “We will continue to engage with the authorities to ensure that refugees in need of protection will have access to Lebanon but also that the legitimate security concerns of the government are respected and observed,” Kelly added. The statement comes three days after the Lebanese government announced new entry controls, in a bid to reduce friction between the local population and Syrian refugees. There are at least 645,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon, though the real number is believed to be much higher, according to the latest UN report. Refugees in Lebanon have surpassed 25 per cent of its own population and are inflicting a huge burden on the state and people of the country, the UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said in a report last month. Lebanon is hosting the largest portion of the 1.8 million Syrian refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries to escape a conflict which is presently in its third year. Lebanon has frequently called on the UN Security Council and international donors to help it shoulder the burden of hosting the Syrian refugees, who are expected to cross the threshold of one million by the end of the year. (New Kerala  27/7/13)

33. All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union leading refugee deportation, says Lapung (13)
ITANAGAR: Reacting to various charges made by organizations in the state, All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (Aapsu) president KamtaLapung Sunday clarified that the union has been spearheading deportation of Chakma-Hajong and other refugees from the state for the last few decades. “It was Aapsu that steadfastly opposed granting of citizenship and the right to vote to Chakma-Hajongs born in Arunachal,” Lapung said in a statement. “Aapsu neither gave any commitment to support grant of citizenship to the Chakma-Hajongs nor opened any dialogue with the refugees,” he said. He added that, in fact, the students’ body had boycotted the second high-level meeting on finding a lasting solution to the refugee ‘imbroglio’ in order to protest against the refugees’ involvement in numerous crimes, including the rape of a Class IX student by Chakma refugees at Chowkham. Aapsu teams have been visiting the Chakma-Hajong inhabited areas to conduct surveys, take feedback from the local people about the refugees’ illegal activities like encroachment of land and reserve forests and to collect crime statistics from police stations. The exercise is geared towards strengthening their agitation and to press upon the Centre that the prolonged stay of refugees in Arunachal has been “detrimental” to the interest of the state and its people, he said. The visit concluded at Kokila in Papum Pare district Saturday where the refugees were warned against encroachment and asked to respect the law of the land. Lapung said, “Aapsu has documentary evidence against the refugees on the atrocities committed by them on the indigenous people and will move the Centre in this regard .” (Times of India 29/7/13)

34. Over 645,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon: UNHCR (13)
BEIRUT: The UN Higher Council for Refugees (UNHCR) has said its offices in Lebanon completed the registration of more than 50,000 Syrian refugees in July, bringing the total number of those receiving aid to over 645,000. More than 541,000 Syrian refugees have been registered in Lebanon, while over 104,000 are still waiting for the registration process to be completed, reported Xinhua citing the UN refugee agency Tuesday. It said 185,000 Syrian refugees were registered in northern Lebanon, or 35 per cent of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon; 184,000 in eastern Bekaa region, representing 34 per cent; 101,000 in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, representing 18 per cent; and 68,000 in southern Lebanon, representing 13 per cent. Lebanon has frequently called on the UN Security Council and international donors to help shoulder the burden of hosting Syrian refugees, the number of which is expected to cross the threshold of one million by the year-end. Officials have warned of the security consequences of the influx, and a shortfall in funding to assist both refugees and the people hosting them. UN Higher Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said in a report last month that refugees in Lebanon surpassed 25 per cent of its own population and were inflicting a huge burden on the state and people of Lebanon. (New Indian Express 31/5/13)

35. Just 0.34 percent of GDP spent on protection of kids: Experts (14)
New Delhi, July 25 : The total expenditure of the government on child protection remains a mere 0.34 percent of India’s Gross Domestic Product, and approximately 170 million children continue to live in precarious circumstances, experts said Thursday. In the last 20 years, India has made impressive strides towards improving legal, policy, and administrative frameworks aimed at protecting and promoting the rights of children and adolescents, experts gathered at a seminar on child rights organised by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights of Harvard University, in conjunction with the Public Health Foundation of India, said. In her keynote address, Shantha Sinha, professor of Political Science at the University of Hyderabad who had served as the first chief of the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights and is also renowned for her activism to prevent child labour, expressed deep concern about child security and listed the barriers to adolescent empowerment in India, especially for abused and neglected children abandoned by parents and families. “There are 42 million children in the 14-18 age group who are out of school, who live in exploitative environments lacking financial and personal security, and who are vulnerable to early marriage, gender discrimination and so on. They need the full support of the state and its services to exercise their own agency and negotiate a path towards dignity and freedom,” she said. K. Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India said: “Children live, learn and grow, not in isolation, but as part of families, communities and society. Hence community-based solutions that foster health and nutrition, psychosocial well-being, education, self-respect, dignity and the social reintegration of children and adolescents are the best way to ensure physical and psychological recovery.” (New Kerala 26/7/13)

36. No commission in Himachal yet for safeguarding children’s rights (14)
SHIMLA: In the recent years, Himachal Pradesh has witnessed rise in sexual assault cases against children, especially exploitation by teachers in schools. While seven years back a central Act had obligated the states to formulate Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR), Himachal has failed to do so. Not happy with the unwanted delay in setting up the body, now the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has threatened to drag the state to court if it is not formed at the earliest. Three months back, the state government had announced to set up state commission for protection of child rights with immediate effect, but till date the chairperson and other members have not been appointed. In a notification issued on April 27 this year, the state government had announced to constitute the commission with its headquarters in Shimla. The commission was proposed to have a chairperson, member secretary – a secretary level official of state government – and six members, including two women. As per the notification, tenure of chairperson and others members would be of three years. While the government appointed women and child development director Madhubala Sharma as the member secretary the same day, it formed three-member selection committee comprising social justice and empowerment minister Col (retd) Dhani Ram Shandil, chief secretary Sudripta Roy and principal secretary (social justice and empowerment) to choose the rest. However, till date the government has not issued any notification about the appointment of chairperson and other members. NCPCR has acted on child rights issue following the death of two class VI students of Convent of Jesus and Mary, Shimla, who had died under suspicious circumstances after falling from Kala Dhank near the school in September 2012. When social justice and empowerment minister Col Dhani Ram, chairman of the selection committee, was contacted over phone for his comments on delay in appointing members in the commission, his PA Trilok said, “Saheb is travelling in another vehicle and I cannot ask him to speak.” C S Sudripta when asked about delay in selecting chairperson and members of the commission, too said that he would inform only after collecting relevant information. “I will get back to you after collecting the information,” he said. NCPCR member Vinod Kumar Tikoo said there were many gaps in the system adopted by HP. “We had taken up many issues related to child rights with the state government but still gaps are there,” he added. He said despite issuing a notification, the government is yet to set up the state commission. Tikoo said child care institutions in the state have not been mapped or registered under Section 34(3) of the Juvenile Justice Act. He said child welfare committees, mandatory for each district, too have been set up in an improper manner as deputy commissioners have been made the chairpersons of these committees, which is against the rules. “In Himachal we need to have a robust mechanism for inspection of child care institutions whether in government or private sector. At present there is no check on their functioning,” he added. Tikoo said if the state government would not comply with the guidelines under the Act then it would be dragged to court for not implementing the provisions. “We had earlier taken Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to court on child right issues,” he added. NCPCR team on Monday met Himachal governor Urmila Singh while on Tuesday they would hold a meeting with the state government officials. 571 children sexually abused in 10 years In April, two instances of sexual abuse of girl student at the hands of their teachers were reported from Shimla and Sirmaur districts. In May, a 48-year-old school teacher was arrested in Bilaspur district of Himachal on the charges of sexually abusing a minor female student of class VIII. A study conducted by Asian Centre for Human Rights, Delhi, had showed that in Himachal, 571 children were subjected to sexual exploitation between 2001 and 2011. (Times of India 30/7/13)

37. Six children being taken to Gujarat as labourers rescued (14)
Jaipur: Child Fund India staff have rescued six minors from a Rajasthan State Transport bus in Udaipur. They were being trafficked to Gujarat to work as child labourers, an official said on Tuesday. A man who was taking the children along was arrested and is being interrogated. The children, in the age group of 12 to 16 years, were sent to a shelter on Monday night after the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) chairperson (Udaipur district), Manju Verma, visited them and requested the police to take appropriate action. Joseph Mathew, coordinator of Child Fund India’s special anti-trafficking project in Udaipur, said he and his colleague Hemlata Verma saw a middle-aged man with six children boarding a bus at Gogunda in Udaipur district. Mathew and Verma were in the same bus and returning home after work. “We could sense there was something wrong about the man and his activities. I asked my colleague to start a conversation with the kids, seated next to her,” Mathew said. The idea was to know about the children and where they were being taken,” Mathew added. “From whatever discussion we had, we learnt that the kids were being trafficked to Gujarat to work as child labourers. We immediately tried to contact every possible official who could help us rescue them,” he added. “Thankfully, we managed to contact additional superintendent of police, Udaipur district, Sudhir Joshi who guided us till the children were finally rescued,” he added. Child Fund India has been working in the region for over five years with a focus on eliminating child trafficking, rampant in the area. Children from the state are trafficked to Gujarat to work in BT cotton fields. Though the situation has improved over the years, cases of trafficking still surface. Child Fund India, part of Child Fund International and one of the oldest and largest international child development organisations in the world has been working in India since 1951 with child-centred programme expertise and unique interventions with changing needs. (Deccan Herald 31/7/13)

38. Indigenous farmers script success story (20)
TEZPUR, June 25 – At a time when there is growing reluctance to practice agriculture due to various reasons, including the indifferent attitude of the department concerned, a group of local farmers of Saraka Baligaon area under Bandarmari Gaon Panchayat and Bihaguri development block, located some 20 km from here, have scripted a success story proving that farming can definitely ensure security of livelihood. More importantly, the silted land on the banks of the Gabharu river at Saraka Baligaon area covering an area of more than 100 hectares, under Barchala LAC in Sonitpur district has found friends in Purna Kanta Basumatary, Budhiram Boro (Sunit), Dhonai Nath, and many others who practice organic farming. It may be mentioned that the farming land of the area which was once naturally fertile, became unproductive following siltation by the Gabharu river. However, despite all odds, farmers of the area started cultivation of different kinds of crops turning the silted barren lands into verdant fields. Paddy cultivation apart, farming of horticultural crops, mustard, cattle rearing and presently sugarcane cultivation on a large scale is being practised in the organically managed lands of the area. Presently, about 50 hectares of land in this area is teeming with a rich growth of sugarcane and arum since the last many years. Here in this area, each of the farmers has a holding of 10 to 15 bighas of the silted river land on an average. “For the last many years, sugarcane has been cultivated in the area with other cash crops like arum and potato with a view to meet the financial needs of the families. We manage to meet the much- needed expenditure for the studies of our children through cultivation only. Giving recognition to the back-breaking labour of the farmers like us, Susmita Basumatary who is my brother’s daughter got the eighth position in the recently declared HSLC examination bringing glory to the area,” said an emotionally surcharged Purna Kanta Basumatary. He added that the sugarcane produced in this area has a high demand in this season. Apart from being supplied to other parts of the district, the farmers meet the need of the local sugarcane juice sellers in and around Tezpur town. Another farmer, Dhonai Nath interacting with this reporter stated that the farmers earn a good income every year by selling ‘molasses’ during the winter season when the sugarcane matures. “Economically important crops like sugarcane and arum have brought us good returns till date,” said Dhonai adding that returns last year by sale of their organically produced output had touched Rs one lakh. However, it is regrettable that even though there is a huge Agricultural department, no departmental official has come forward to give any kind of assistance to these farmers. Expressing total annoyance over the negligence of the Agricultural department, an elderly farmer of the area, Baluram Boro said, “Our keen desire of utilising these plots fully by cultivating different crops like sugarcane, paddy, arum, pumpkin, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, tomato, potato, chilly etc., receives a setback when our pleas to the authorities concerned like Bihaguri Development block and the agricultural officers sitting in the same office for help including providing a pumping machine or seeds of different crops is turned down. Since the time of plantation of the saplings of sugarcane till its harvest and preparation of the molasses, the labour and the expenditure involved is unbelievable, if one does not see it with his own eyes,” he maintained. “Shuttling from home to the financial institutions, being a sheer waste of valuable time, we no longer feel disposed to make such plans,” the farmers added. At the same time, referring to the advantage of organic farming, an agricultural officer of the district, Suramoni Dhakal said that such farming helps sustain the soil health and if practised commercially, the output fetches very good returns. (Assam Tribune 26/7/13)

39. Maharashtra government admits to rising farm suicides (20)
Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has officially admitted to a rising farm suicide rate that saw, on an average, more than three farmers taking their own lives every day in the financial year 2012-13. In a written reply to a question raised in the Assembly, the government said 1,166 farmers committed suicide in the financial year. Relief and Rehabilitation Minister Patangrao Kadam told the House on Friday that farm suicides had come down. And this was due to the State’s swift delivery of relief packages. However, the numbers provided by the government are totally at odds with those logged by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the only body that collates suicide data at the national level. It is in fact a division of the Union Home Ministry. NCRB data for Maharashtra in 2012 show that at least 3,786 farm suicides occurred last year. And that is almost 450 more than the State saw in 2011. (The Hindu, June 29, 2013: Farm suicide trends in 2012 remain dismal ) The government further confused its numbers in replies to different questions in the same session. It says 30 drought-hit farmers killed themselves in Osmanabad and Dhule districts in the first five months of this year. To a specific question about farm suicides in Dhule district, Mr. Kadam said there were 16 in the first five months of 2013. In another reply, he acknowledged only nine farm suicides in Dhule in that period as, according to him, only that number fell under the norms stipulated by the government. Those norms include crop failure, debt and pressure on the farmer to repay loans. Besides, in the neighbouring Jalgaon district, the government is yet to clear the backlog of 13 years. It admits to 670 farmers ending their lives in that district over that period. Yet, despite the announcement of relief packages worth Rs. 3,750 crore from the Centre and Rs. 1,075 crore from the State, the Maharashtra government admits that only 411 families had received any relief so far. (The Hindu 28/7/13)

40. Congress MP demands statehood for Vidarbha (20)
“The demand of statehood for Vidarbha is stronger and older than Telangana,” Vilas Muttemwar, Congress MP from Nagpur, told IANSAmid speculation that the Congress Working Committee (CWC) could accede to the demand for Telangana, a Congress MP has asked party chief Sonia Gandhi to consider a separate state for Vidarba. Vilas Muttemwar, Congress MP from Nagpur, told IANS Tuesday that he has written to Sonia Gandhi demanding that the party leadership consider demand for a separate state of Vidarbha out of Maharashtra. “The demand of statehood for Vidarbha is stronger and older than Telangana,” Muttemwar, a seven-time member of the Lok Sabha, told IANS. He said that the first state reorganisation commission had made a recommendation for Vidarbha statehood but the then leadership in the region decided to join Maharashtra, following “intervention of the then party high command and assurance that their interests will be protected”.”No promises have been fulfilled. There have been 45,000 farmer suicides (in Vidarbha). Thousands have died due to malnutrition. There is no industry,” Muttemwar said. He said there was a controversy over the status of the proposed capital of Telangana but there was no issues about a capital for Vidarbha. He said they were demanding creation of Vidarbha state by including 11 districts of Maharashtra. Vidarbha region holds 21.3 percent of the total population of Maharashtra. (DNA 30/7/13)

41. RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal spreading hatred in country: Alvi (26)
New Delhi: In what is likely to evoke sharp reactions from the main opposition BJP, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi on Friday alleged that its parent body, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), and its affiliate organisations are spreading hatred in the country. Talking to reporters in the national capital, Alvi said, “I can’t say whether RSS is involved in making bombs or not, but I can say that the RSS and its affiliate organisations like the VHP and the Bajrang Dal are spreading hatred in the country/.”He made this remark while reacting to a similar statement made by his Congress colleague Digvijay Singh. “I have not read Digvijaya Singh’s statement as to what exactly he said. But whatever one says, everyone knows that even the killer of Mahatama Gandhi belonged to the RSS,” Alvi said. The war of words between the Congress and the BJP started after a Delhi trial court yesterday ruled that the Batla House encounter was genuine and held the lone accused Shahjad Ahmad guilty of killing a police officer, which prompted the BJP to demand an apology from Digvijay Singh, who had earlier called the police operation as fake. Reacting to that Singh had tweeted, “Respecting verdict of court, I still say that I was right in demanding a judicial inquiry then. Whatever I said was after lot of thinking, based on facts.” “I was a CM in 2002. In Mhow temple bomb blasts, 6 RSS/VHP activists were named, 4 were arrested, 2 absconded. This reaffirmed my assertion that the RSS is involved in spreading hatred. My fight with the BJP is of different ideologies”, Singh added. He also categorically refused to tender an apology to the BJP in this regard. “At least in this life I won’t apologize to BJP,” Singh had tweeted. This evoked sharp reaction from BJP leader Varun Gandhi who said, “The country won’t benefit from such statements.” His senior colleague Balbir Punj also tweeted, “Singh is bringing in issues which has no relevance today to divert attention of ppl frm other things.” For Zee News’s Updates, follow us on Twitter , Facebook, Google+, Pinterest (Zee News 26/7/13)

42. Probe hinted rise of TN module out to kill Hindutva leaders (26)
Bangalore: It was the probe by the City police into the April 17 Malleswaram blast which first suggested the possible involvement of a local jihadi module in Tamil Nadu in the targeted killing of right-wing Hindu leaders. A senior police officer, who arrested some of the suspects, said the module was active in Tirunelveli, Coimbatore and Vellore districts — “hotbeds” of Muslim fundamentalist groups a decade ago. Their sway was so “strong” in the districts that even the police personnel struggled to make arrests, the officer added. Interestingly, the suspects in the Malleswaram blast and the murders of BJP leaders in Tamil Nadu are alleged to be involved in previous acts of terror. Investigators also claimed the suspects were active members of the now proscribed group Al-Ummah. Kichan Buhari, arrested by the City police in connection with the Malleswaram blasts, was an accused in the 1998 Coimbatore bombings that targeted an election rally of BJP leader L K Advani. Panna Ismail, the suspected leader of the module, was convicted of complicity in the Coimbatore blasts case. He is also an accused in many other terror cases, besides a few murders. Tamil Nadu police suggest that all the four absconding suspects are involved in the planting of a pipe bomb in Thirumangalam in 2011. Intelligence sleuths said the two-year-old case should have raised alarm about a possible “regroup” bid by remnants of the many Muslim fundamentalist organisations in Tamil Nadu, including Al-Ummah, that were active in the 1990s, but later thought to have been dismantled. Top intelligence officers are certain that a terror module has “regrouped and resurfaced” from the remnants of the previous organisations in Tamil Nadu as well as in Karnataka. A top intelligence officer said on condition of anonymity that the module in question had not been busted fully. It continues to be in “a very active mode, carrying out strikes at will”. It was high time the leaders of the new module were identified and apprehended, the officer added. If unchecked, it would wreak “further havoc” in the region. According to the officer, the module did exist, but chose to remain unnamed. It also strangely refrained from claiming responsibility for any attacks it carried out. It could be a new strategy of the organisation, he maintained. Old local terror outfits, such as Darsgah-e-Jihad-o-Shahadat and Tehreek Tahffuz-e-Shuaer-e-Islam, also appeared to be regrouping in South India, the officer explained. (Deccan Herald 30/7/13)

43. VHP demands CBI probe into J&K stone-pelting, firing incidents (26)
Jammu: Urging the Jammu and Kashmir government to grant Rs 10 lakh compensation and job to family members of Amarnath pilgrim killed in stone-pelting in Kashmir, VHP on Wednesday demanded a CBI probe into the incident. “We appeal the state government for a compensation of at least Rs 10 lakh to the bereaved poor family of Amarnath pilgrim Ravi Kant and government job for at least two members of the family,” VHP state chief Rama Kant Dubey told reporters here. He said a CBI inquiry should be ordered into the incident and also in Gool firing incident so that persons responsible for it, including police and administration, are brought to book. “The over-ground and underground anti-national elements be permanently branded as militants,” he said. The family of Ravi Kant, who was killed in stone-pelting in Kashmir, was granted just Rs 2 lakh compensation, he said. Ravi Kant Sharma (38), a resident of Rajouri district of Jammu region, was injured in stone-pelting by miscreants at Awantipora area in Valley on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway on July 19 and succumbed at a hospital in Srinagar yesterday. He belonged to a very poor family of Sunderbani and was rehri vendor and used to live in one room mud house, along with his wife, one minor daughter and two sons. The family has no source of income. (Zee news 31/7/13)

Posted by admin at 29 July 2013

Category: Uncategorized

1. Home ministry opposes changes in Official Secrets Act (1)
NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry, after long-drawn deliberations over a Group of Ministers’ (GoM) recommendation for amending the Official Secrets Act (OSA) in the interest of greater transparency, is reportedly not too keen on going ahead with making the change. The ministry is of the opinion that the 1923 anti-espionage law has stood the test of time and not seen any noticeable misuse to justify revisiting of its provisions. A review of OSA has been on the cards since 2006, when the first report of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) on the Right to Information sought repeal of the Act and insertion of a new chapter in the National Security Act to deal with espionage. A core group on administrative reforms subsequently studied the ARC recommendations, which were then forwarded to a GoM, headed by Pranab Mukherjee, for a decision. The GoM in 2008 accepted around 62 recommendations of the ARC, but rejected the suggestion for repeal of the OSA. It instead sought amendments to the OSA to do away with ambiguity in defining the terms ‘secret’, ‘espionage’ and ‘enemy state’ and, thus, guard against use of the Act to block information. The home ministry, which is the nodal ministry dealing with the OSA, has over the last six years discussed the proposed amendments with various ministries and agencies. An examination of facts and figures showed that the OSA has been sparingly used over the years, with no more than an average 23-24 violations being reported annually. The MHA, said sources, is therefore veering around the view that there may not be any need to go through the cumbersome legislative processes of amending an Act that poses no challenge of misuse. “The Act seems fine as it is,” a government official told TOI. The MHA is likely to convey this view to the Cabinet secretariat. The MHA’s stance against updating OSA is likely to disappoint RTI enthusiasts who see a clear conflict between the OSA and RTI provisions. Even former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah had stressed on the need to amend the British-era act in line with the present RTI legislation and the new openness within the government. His proposal met with only a half-hearted response, with the government continuing to invoke the OSA to block information. The government even admitted so in an RTI response in 2009, when it said that the declassification policy, or the basis on which a document is marked secret or confidential, is also a secret. (Times of India 25/7/13)

2. Parties under RTI, CBI under government (1)
New Delhi: In a strong message to political parties, who have shown rare unanimity in expressing their unwillingness to come under the Right to Information Act, the dominant section of India’s voters have said they want this to happen, for ‘greater accountability’. At the same time, voters do not want to disrupt ‘administrative harmony’ and believe the centre should retain control of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). CNN IBN-The Hindu Election Tracker Survey, conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, interviewed close to 20,000 respondents across 18 states in the country. The survey asked two political-administrative questions in the wake of recent debates on the extent of information that should be provided by political parties about their finances and operations to citizens, and political disputes over the nature and role of CBI. When asked if political parties should be brought under RTI for ‘greater accountability’, 46 percent respondents nationally agreed. Opposition was limited to only 12 per cent, while the rest did not offer an opinion. 56 percent urban and 43 per cent rural respondents supported the proposition. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters are more supportive, with 56 per cent of the party’s voters wanting parties under RTI as compared to 48 per cent Congress voters and 44 per cent voters of other parties who support the clause. On another key political issue, even as the Supreme Court has asked steps be taken to ensure the CBI’s autonomy, voters are inclined to allow the centre to retain control of its key investigative agency. When asked if CBI should continue to be under the ‘central government in order to maintain administrative harmony’, 35 per cent of the voters agreed while 21 per cent disagreed. But in an indication that the matter was a distant concern for voters, 44 per cent did not have an opinion. 48 per cent urban, and 34 per cent rural, respondents wanted to allow CBI to remain under the centre. Supporters of national parties tend to have a favorable view on the matter, with 40 per cent BJP voters, and 38 per cent Congress voters agreeing with the assertion. Only 32 per cent of voters from other parties, however, agreed. Smaller regional parties have often complained of how the centre has misused CBI to score political points. (The Hindu 26/7/13)

3. Don’t amend RTI Act without consulting NGOs, activists urge PM (1)
New Delhi: Prominent civil society activists have written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him not to introduce a bill to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act without consulting the stakeholders as promised in Parliament. The UPA government is considering amendment to the RTI Act to keep political parties out of its ambit. Former National Advisory Council members Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander, along with RTI activists Shailesh Gandhi and Shekhar Singh, have written to Singh and warned that any amendment to the Act would further dampen the credibility of the Congress-led UPA government. “Such a move to amend the Act will reinforce and confirm the suspicions of many that the political establishment intends to cover acts of corruption and arbitrary use of power,” says the letter. “Perhaps the only real argument for the credibility of the government continues to be the enactment and implementation of the RTI Act. The use of the RTI is, therefore, seen as the one stated intent of the government to lay itself open to scrutiny, and therefore accountability.” In June, the Central Information Commission had brought six national political parties under the RTI ambit, on the grounds that they received substantial financial support from the government and were public authorities. The activists want that the government hold consultations with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), just like it did with political parties, before the RTI amendments are introduced in Parliament. The letter says the legislation has been acknowledged in India and abroad as an affirmation of the right of Indian citizens to participate in, and monitor, democratic governance. The activists also stated that this was not the first attempt to amend the RTI law enacted in 2005. The letter says attempts since 2006 to amend the RTI Act have been nullified to a large extent due to public pressure as well as political will of a part of the establishment. However, the activists said they were confident that the government would recognise their demand, and not take steps to amend and thereby dilute the RTI Act. (Hindustan Times 27/7/13)

4. Defence ministry refuses to give info on RTI query (1)
NEW DELHI: Citing confidentiality and security reasons, the defence ministry has refused to divulge details about the measures taken by India along its border to prevent Chinese incursions. In response to an RTI query on what infrastructure the Indian side is building to combat Chinese incursions, the ministry refused to give the information, saying it is classified. As per the RTI reply, airforce headquarters said, “The information sought under the RTI is highly classified which, if revealed publicly, could pose a threat to the security of the nation. We are not compelled to provide the information under clause 8(a) of the RTI Act, 2005.” The Border Roads Development Board said in the reply, “We are not compelled to reveal the information. We can also deny information on matters related to corruption, human rights violations and certain other issues.” The RTI query also sought to know the locations of air facilities at the border. Chinese troops attempted to violate the International Border at Chumar area in north east of Leh on July 20 but were forced back by Indian troops, just three months after the 21-day stand-off between the armies of the two countries in Ladakh. (Times of India 28/7/13)

5. Amnesty International for Afspa repeal (1)
GUWAHATI: Amnesty International India on Wednesday welcomed the findings of the Supreme Court-appointed panel on extra-judicial killings in Manipur, but urged the authorities to go beyond its recommendations and repeal Afspa in Manipur. It said Afspa has provided impunity to perpetrators of grave human rights violations for decades. The panel has found damning evidence of impunity and abuse of special powers by security forces in Manipur. (Times of India 25/7/13)

6. CBI intervened to exonerate IPS officials: ex-inspector (1)
Kochi: Certain officials of the Central Bureau of Investigation tried to protect IPS officers accused in the Sampath custody death case, said K.K. Rajan, inspector suspended from the CBI. Officers in the CBI investigation team were offered money to exonerate the IPS officers. There were also attempts to remove Rajan and another officer Unnikrishnan Nair from the CBI investigating team headed by officer Haridath, Rajan said in a statement before the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court here on Thursday. Rajan and Unnikrishnan have been arraigned as accused in the death of P.G. Haridath, the first investigating officer of the Sampath custodial death case. Both officers were named in a note by Haridath after he allegedly committed suicide in March 2012. Rajan said in his statement before the court that certain senior CBI officials were aware of their juniors’ attempts to manipulate the investigation of the custodial death. Sampath, accused in the murder of Puthur Sheela, was allegedly tortured in police custody in Palakkad, following which he died. The Chief Judicial Magistrate Court had earlier rejected the supplementary charge sheet filed by the CBI in the case as it excluded the names of IPS officers ADGP Muhammad Yasin and DIG Vijay Sakhare. (The Hindu 25/7/13)

7. Ramban firing: NHRC issues notice to Centre, J&K (1)
New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday sought a report from the central and Jammu and Kashmir governments over the firing by paramilitary forces in Ramban district July 18 which left four dead and 42 injured. “We have issued notices to the union Home Secretary and Director General of Police Jammu and Kashmir, calling for reports within four weeks in this matter,” said an official of the NHRC. The contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the victims, the commission said. Ramban firing: NHRC issues notice to Centre, J&K BSF has claimed that it had opened fire to prevent looting of arms and ammunition at the camp. Hundreds of people had marched to the BSF camp alleging that some personnel had gate-crashed into the mosque wearing shoes, thereby desecrating the place of worship. There were also allegations that people engaged in prayers in the mosque were roughed up. BSF Inspector General (Frontier Jammu) Rajeev Krishna has claimed that the Border Security Force at the camp had opened fire to prevent looting of arms and ammunition. The killing of the four villagers triggered widespread anger and violent protests, during which scores of people, including police and paramilitary personnel, were injured across the state. (CNN-IBN 26/7/13)

8. Acid attack accused dies in police custody (1)
LUCKNOW: Five policemen were suspended following the custodial death of the man accused for throwing acid attack on a 23-year old woman in Ghaziabad. Lakhan, 30, was arrested by the Vijay Nagar police on Saturday. Within hours of his arrest, he died at the Sanjeevani Hospital in Ghaziabad where he was taken by the police following what the police claimed was a suicide attempt in the lockup. The policemen suspended are the Station House Officer of the Vijaynagar police station, a sub-inspector and three constables. Departmental proceedings have been initiated against the suspended cops. According to a police spokesman, Lakhan tried to commit suicide in the lockup by hanging himself with his shirt sleeve around 9.00 a.m on Saturday. He was overpowered by the police, who admitted him to the Sanjeevani Hospital. He died during treatment, the spokesman said. Unofficial reports said he had consumed poison. Lakhan’s brother, however, alleged that he succumbed to injuries after being brutally beaten up at the police station. A resident of Jain ka Purwa in Mainpuri, Lakhan worked for a gas agency in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad. Inspector General of Police ( Law and Order), R.K. Vishwakarma said Lakhan and his accomplice, who were riding a motor cycle, threw acid on the woman near Republic Society crossing under the Vijay Nagar police station area around -.15 a.m. on Friday. The woman, a domestic help, received 50 per cent burns on her face and hands. The police said the acid attack was the fallout of unrequited love. The victim, who is married, had spurned Lakhan’s advances. The acid attack in the close vicinity of the national capital occurred despite strict curbs imposed by the Supreme Court on buying and selling of acid.  The IG (Law and Order) said adequate police security was provided to the Ghaziabad victim when she was taken for treatment. (The Hindu 28/7/13)

9. Biker killed, another injured in firing by Delhi cops (1)
NEW DELHI: One young biker was killed while another was injured in police firing in the wee hours here on Sunday, police sources said. The incident occurred between 2am and 2.15am at Windsor Place of New Delhi when a group of bikers were involved in a confrontation with police officials trying to stop them from performing dangerous stunts on the roads. Karan Pandey was killed when a bullet fired by the police in an attempt to puncture the tyre of the bike he was riding, hit him on his back, police officials said. Pandey was riding pillion on Punit Sharma’s bike, who was injured in the incident. Both of them were rushed to Ram Manohar Lohiya hospital, where Pandey was declared dead. Sharma was found to be drunk when tests were carried out at the hospital. A police patrolling van reached Windsor Place after there were reports that some 30 young bikers were performing dangerous stunts. When the policemen instructed them to stop, the bikers started pelting stones at them, which damaged the police vehicle. Some warning shots were fired in the air to disperse the bikers. But when the group still continued their stunts a police official tried to puncture the tyre of one of the bikes, which accidentally hit Pandey on his back. Some policemen were also injured in the incident. (Times of India 29/7/13)

10. Mysore MP questions credentials of people who misuse freedom of expression (1)
MYSORE: Mysore MP A H Vishwanath on Sunday said freedom of expression is not intended to insult or undermine the historic personalities and litterateurs, media people and film producers should desist from using the names of great personalities to market their produces. Releasing a book “Almelamma – a post mortem” written by P V Nanjaraje Urs, Vishwanath said in the recent past people in various fields are using the names of great personalities to get instant publicity and popularity. But this is nothing but the misutilization of freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution, he said referring to the film which was named after 12th century saint reformer Basavanna. “Constitution has guaranteed the freedom of expression to people and artists, litterateurs and writers and they are free to express their opinion through books, paintings and films, but this should be used to insult, denigrate or distort the image of great personalities” he said, adding that even naming the film after a community or caste is also not a good sign. “I am wondered whether the producers are not getting suitable names for their films or they want to draw people attention by creating controversies” he pointed out, terming this as gimmick adopted by producers to get cheap popularity. Referring to contribution of Wadiyars to Mysore, Vishwanath said the people held Maharajas, particularly Krishnaraja Wadiyar and Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar in high esteem and they worshipped them like god. “There contribution to society and state was immense and unfathomable” he said recollecting how his grandfather who brought him to city to witness dasara procession took off his slippers and saluted Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar saying that it was they who gave them the food. “Such was the reverence and this is slowly vanishing with the passing time” he rued and said what prevents people in remembering Maharajas when they can remember various other personalities. (Times of India 21/7/13)

11. Media bound to tell truth behind allegations: Chandy (1)
Thiruvananthapuram: Media has a responsibility to inform people the truth behind allegations and counter allegations, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said here on Monday. “Freedom of the press is non-negotiable in democracy. But the media also have a responsibility towards the public to tell the truth behind events and allegations,” he said while releasing the book ‘From Fourth Estate to Rubber Estate – resignation letter of a journalist’ written by noted journalist Joe A Scaria. “These days allegations are made freely through media but they are refuted by those against whom they are levelled. People have a right to know the truth and it is the responsibility of media to tell the truth…People have a right to know the truth behind everything being reported and debated in media,” Chandy said, apparently referring to the handling of solar panel scam by a section of media. “Tolerance is most significant in democracy and people should be broad-minded to accept criticism. Freedom of the press will strengthen journalism. If it is interrupted, it will affect functioning of democratic polity,” he said. (Zee News 22/7/13)

12. Journalists live in fear in Balochistan (1)
Islamabad, July 23 : Naziha Syed Ali, one of the leading writers at Dawn newspaper, reveals that there is an apparent sense of fear among the journalists in Balochistan. In her article for the Dawn newspaper, she recalls that she met some journalists in Quetta a few weeks ago where they were attending a workshop. “They came from all over the province, including some of the areas where the insurgency is at its height – Khuzdar, Awaran and Turbat. The common refrain was ‘don’t quote me by name or say anything that could indicate my identity’,” she says. Naziha Syed Ali says that the journalists are a beleaguered community in the province, who face intimidation and worse from different quarters. 13 deaths have occurred in Balochistan between 2006 and 2012 as per the figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists, she mentions in her article, but no one has been put on trial or convicted for any of these murders. The Balochistan High Court had earlier in May this year issued show cause notices to owners and chief editors of six newspapers for violating an earlier order not to publish statements by extremist organisations. “The papers in question had printed the claim of responsibility by a sectarian group, Jaish Al-Islam, for the murder of a police official the month before. One of the editors said the court told him it was no excuse to say that if he did not follow the militants’ instructions he would be risking his life,” says Naziha Syed Ali. “Sometimes militants even insist on newspapers printing names of individuals that are on their hit list, which gets the publications into further trouble with the law,” she adds. (New Kerala 23/7/13)

13. CJI opposes external regulator for media (1)
NEW DELHI: The Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam has opposed any external regulator for the media. Making a strong pitch for self regulation of the media on Tuesday, the Chief Justice said correcting the media through an external regulator was a strong urge that should be resisted. Speaking here at the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards, Sathasivam described the media and the judiciary as two key pillars of the Indian democracy. He said that freedom of the press was an essential requisite of a truly functioning democracy.He said: “The temptation to correct the media through an external regulatory authority may seem a dominant urge, but it is surely not the answer. The press is naturally and rightly touchy about it. External regulation could result in a perilous departure from the cherished principle of the freedom of the press as the sine qua non of our democracy.” Quoting Mahatma Gandhi Sathasivam said, “One thought that is fairly straightforward, and is consistent with the freedom of thought and expression, is self-regulation by the profession itself.” Adding a word of caution Sathasivam said, “A media that cherishes its independence must recognize that this freedom is as essential for the judiciary to deliver justice as it is for the media to observe its impartiality.” He added that freedom of press was an essential requisite of a truly functioning democracy. “It is the ark of the covenant of democracy because public criticism is essential to the working of its institutions. It is the heart of the social and political intercourse,” the CJI said. (Times of India 25/7/13)

14. Journalist sentenced to two years’ rigorous imprisonment (1)
PUNE: The court of judicial magistrate AmitsinhMohane on July 24 sentenced a self-styled human rights activist who pretended to be a journalist, to two years rigorous imprisonment for demanding Rs 6 lakh or car from a senior government officer for not circulating defamatory news against him. Mohane also slapped a fine of Rs 4,000 on the convict Dnyaneshwar Karale (42) a resident of Dehu gaon in Pune rural. According to the prosecution’s cases, the government officer Vasantrao Mhaske (62), a former inspector general of registration, Pune had registered a complaint against him under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code with the Bund Garden police station. Mhaske was also a trustee of an educational institute in Wakad. The prosecution’s case is that Karale impersonated as a reporter from “Puneri Manase” and had written a news defaming Mhaske in 2006. After publishing the news Karale started threatening him to circulate the newspaper in entire Pune and demanded Rs 6 lakh or an SUV. The prosecution said that Mhaske refused to meet the demand of the report and approached the police for help as he was fed up with the constant money demands made by Karale. Assistant public prosecutor Varsha Prabhu examined six witnesses to prove the guilt of the accused. (Times of India 28/7/13)

15. Muslims don’t believe Indian Mujahideen exists, says Rahman Khan (7)
New Delhi: On the day a Delhi court convicted suspected Indian Mujahideen (IM) member Shahzad Ahmad in the Batla House encounter, Minority Affairs Minister K Rehman Khan said the Muslim community in general did not believe in the existence of the outfit. He, however, added that he was only reflecting a “feeling” among the community. Speaking to The Indian Express, Khan said: “Unlike other organisations, the Muslim community is not buying its existence in the country… As far as the IM is concerned, nobody knows what it is, where it was formed, how it was formed and who runs it.” Asked if he was denying the existence of the outfit, Khan said he was neither denying nor questioning anything, but pointed out that “the community has that feeling”.He also said there were some “misguided” youths in every section of society, and drew parallels with the Bajrang Dal. While declining to comment on reports that the IM was formed after the Gujarat riots, Khan asserted that there was “a sense of insecurity” and “anger” among the Muslims after the Babri Masjid demoliton and the Gujarat riots. “That is a fact which nobody can deny,” he said. “Muslims of India have total commitment to the country’s security,” he added. He said barring the Batla House conviction, no Muslim has been found guilty in a terror case. “It is only suspected. A few are suspected… their involvement is not proved… Even in Kashmir, terrorists are coming from outside the country… With such a large population, have you ever found a single Indian Muslim going and supporting terrorists in Kashmir?” he asked. “Some youths are misguided. Some of the fundamentalist Hindu youths may also be misguided… Hindu fundamentalist organisations like Bajrang Dal…What is it that they are doing? What about moral policing and all? What are they doing? How do you describe this attitude of some misguided Hindu organisations? Why don’t you talk about that? Who will control them? You take some suspected youth from the Muslim community…but such elements are free to do whatever they like,” he said. (Indian Express 26/7/13)

16. Talk of religious nationalism is anti-national: Katju (7)
Nagpur: Indians ought to be all Indian nationalists first and those talking about Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian nationalisms were really anti-national, Press Council of India Chairman, Justice (retd) Markandey Katju said here today. He also requested the media and citizens to encourage Indian nationalism. “I don’t agree with the remarks by Hindu nationalists as (theirs) is divisive talk and such divisive policies can’t run the nation,” he said in comments apparently aimed at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, although he mentioned no names. He was speaking about ‘The Media’s Role In Promoting Secularism’ at an ‘Excellence in Journalism’ award function organised by Marathi daily ‘Lokmat’. Media and intellectuals must fight divisive tendencies like religion, caste, region, language and race, Katju said, adding that whatever united Indians would be the path to progress. All Indians were first class citizens of the country and there cannot be any discrimination between communities, he said. “Muslims have been wrongly painted. Whenever a bomb blast occurs, within no time TV channels start saying that an email or an SMS from some Muslim organisation has claimed responsibility, thus demonising the entire Muslim community. Is this responsible behaviour?” he asked. “The truth is that 99 per cent people of all communities, be it Hindu, Muslim, Sikh or Christian, are good citizens. “But often an attempt is made to depict all Muslims as terrorists,” he said. When the Babri Masjid was demolished, a section of the media had become “kar sewaks”, instead of attacking communalism, Katju alleged. He did not mince words in lashing out at superstitions, astrology and other blind beliefs, saying Indian people have a feudal mentality which the media should not promote. The truth is that most Indians are still extremely backward and steeped in casteism or communalism, which is evident during elections when most people vote on the basis of caste or religion, he said. (Deccan herald 26/7/13)

17. IIM-Ranchi plans to conduct survey on minorities in state (7)
RANCHI: The Indian Institute of Management-Ranchi (IIM-R), has started the work of collecting secondary data about minority communities in Jharkhand, on the behest of the chairperson of minority commission Shahid Akhtar, who got in touch with the institute director for the same recently. The collection of data through surveys done by other agencies is called secondary survey. Akhtar said, “Till date, there has been no survey on the condition of minorities here. I had approached the government regarding the survey, but there was no response from their side. Therefore, I decided to approach IIM-R.” Akhtar has asked the institute director to conduct a survey on a wide array of topics, including economic, health and social condition of minorities in the state and a comparison with the national survey. Besides, a survey of matriculate, intermediate and graduate passouts, both men and women, people with technical education and condition of employment and unemployment is to be undertaken as well. IIM-R director M J Xavier said, “We have started working on the proposal and a team of two faculty members have been constituted for collecting the available secondary data. There are many agencies and NGOs who conduct surveys. We will be collate those reports and submit it to the commission.” He added that if the secondary data is not sufficient, they will conduct a primary survey (first-hand information), but that would be on a payment basis as the researchers will have to visit different blocks to conduct the survey. “The commission will have to pay us for this,” he said. Akhtar said, “The commission will try its best to release the report by December this year. World Minority Rights Day is celebrated on December 18 every year. This year we plan to have a grand celebration in Jharkhand, as I will be releasing the report on the occasion, thus according them the true status of minorities”. (Times of India 28/7/13)

18. Communal riots in Meerut village:1 dead, 12 injured (7)
Meerut: Communal riots broke out in Nanglamal area near Meerut Friday evening in which one person died and nearly a dozen were injured. Heavy police arrangements were made to ensure that the communal flare-up does not spread to other areas as Meerut has already witnessed communal trouble in different areas twice since last fortnight. The incident took place when members of two communities had a verbal tiff over blaring loudspeakers at the temple and a nearby mosque. Things got out of hand when members of one community damaged the loudspeaker of the temple. This led to the clash, during which bullets were fired, forcing the police to lathicharge the mobs twice. One Sunil died of bullet injury while another person, Shahid, was hospitalised. Eleven others sustained injuries in the clash. A woman, Suman, died of heart attack after she saw her son get wounded in the clash. In-charge of the Mundali police station Wasim Khan was suspended by SSP Deepak Kumar for his inability to contain the crowd. As a precautionary measure, personnel of the Rapid Action and PAC have been deployed at areas which have a mixed population in the city. “The situation is under control but we are not taking any chances,” said SSP Deepak Kumar. (Indian Express 28/7/13)

19. MPs anti-Modi letter to Obama genuine, forensic expert says (7)
WASHINGTON: A forensic examination commissioned by a US-based alliance seeking justice and accountability for the Gujarat 2002 riots has said the letter signed by 64 Indian MPs to President Obama against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is original and authentic, with no indication the signatures are forged. The “Coalition Against Genocide,” an alliance claiming support of 40 US- and Canada-based Indian groups, which is singularly agitated about Modi and his alleged role in the Gujarat riots, initiated the scrutiny after several Indian MPs denied having signed the letter and suggested it was forged. The letter asked Obama to continue the ban on Modi’s travel to the US after his US visa was revoked in 2005.

In a statement, the Coalition cited the report by Ms. Nanette Barto, a US Court-Certified Forensic Document Examiner, which established that the two letters to President Obama, one from Rajya Sabha MPs and one from Lok Sabha MPs, “was created in a single event, and that the signatures found upon it are original/authentic wet ink signatures.” There is no evidence of “cut and paste” or computer alterations performed on the documents, and each signature was executed by a different hand thereby dispelling any doubt of one person executing more than one signature, the forensic report said. Among lawmakers who had denied signing the letter was CPM’s Sitaram Yechuri, who had called it a “cut and paste” job, and Congress party’s Shantaram Naik. Acknowledging that he had openly opposed Modi and his policies in India, Naik told TNN last week that he saw no reason to sign a letter to the US President on what is purely a domestic matter. But US-based CAG activists maintain they see nothing wrong in bringing the issue to the table of the US President since BJP is seeking to gloss over the Gujarat riots by having Modi visit American to legitimize his bid for high office. The activists also contested the characterization of their campaign as part of a growing communal Hindu-Muslim activism in the US, although the CAG website is devoted almost exclusively to Modi and the Gujarat riots. The CAG statement said the fact that nine members of Parliament were “unable to summon the courage to stand by their own signatures under heavy party pressure” should not become an excuse for doubting the veracity of the letter. It commended MPs who stood by the letter, its contents and their signatures, “as their position has been vindicated by the forensic report.” “Allegations of forgery related to the MPs letters are frivolous, and intended to stifle discussion on the issues of justice and human rights that the letters have brought to the fore,” said Dr. Shaik Ubaid, president of Indian American Minorities Network, a CAG affiliate, and co-founder of the Indian-American Muslim Council. “In light of the forensic examiner’s report the futile debate on the authenticity of the letters must end, and give way to a national discussion on accountability for the pogrom of 2002, fake encounter killings and suppression of religious freedom in Gujarat,” he added. (Times of India 28/7/13)

20. Data error makes Sikhs most jobless in Indian cities (7)
New Delhi: A statistical flaw has earned the Sikh community the dubious distinction of being most unemployed religious group in Indian cities. The latest National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) survey had said that unemployment had risen among Sikhs in urban areas between 2004-05 and 2009-10 even though it dropped for all other religious groups. Around 4.6% of Sikhs were unemployed in urban areas in 2004-05. The percentage increased to 6.1% in 2009-10. However, during the same period the unemployment rate for Hindus and Muslims fell by one percentage point. The maximum fall was witnessed for Christians, whose unemployment rate fell from 8.6% to 2.9% between 2004-05 and 2009-10. The NSSO admitted that there can be a flaw in the estimation as the sample size for unemployed persons among Sikh community was very low as compared to overall worker people ratios (WPRs). “The estimation of unemployment rate obtained from the surveys are subject to higher margin of sampling fluctuations,” the NSSO said in the report released this month, while cautioning researchers about interpreting the data. The government’s statistical arm was able to find only 47 unemployed men and 23 women from Sikh community in cities for 2009-10 survey, much less than the sample for them in 2004-05 survey. For all other religious communities, which witnessed a fall in unemployment the sample size was bigger. In all over 5,100 persons were surveyed of which only 127 were from the Sikh community. Because of the flaw, the NSSO report says that unemployment rate for Sikhs was highest for both males and females in urban areas. However, in rural areas like all other religious groups the Sikh community witnessed a fall in unemployment rate. The overall unemployment rate in 2009-10 was 3.4% as compared to 1.6% in rural areas. (Hindustan Times 29/7/13)

21. Chhattisgarh among bottom 10 in education development (11)
RAIPUR: When it comes to the Education Development Index (EDI) in Primary (I to V) and Upper Primary (VI to VIII) schools, Chhattisgarh ranks among the 10 bottom most states in the country, standing at 28th position on a list of 35. Among other things, Naxalism is to be blamed for this dismal record, as violence has prevented schools to function normally. Though it’s appalling that a state with an overall literacy rate of 70.28%, (average rural at 66.76 % and urban at 84.79 %) has a poor EDI record, it can draw solace from the fact that it is ahead of bigger states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Even Chhattisgarh’s parent state, Madhya Pradesh, does not have an envious record, as it stands a notch above at 26th position. The latest EDI (2011-12) released by the National University of Education Planning and Administration (NUEPA) and the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) reveals that Chhattisgarh has fallen behind in most of the 24 performance indicators, broadly grouped under the four heads of- access, infrastructure, teachers and outcome. As for infrastructure- determined on the basis of classroom-teacher ratio, drinking water, separate toilets for boys and girls, ramps and kitchen rooms, Chhattisgarh stands 25th on the list for primary schools and 31st for upper primary levels. However, its performance is better in Access Ratio, determined by the density of schools per 10 square km and the availability of schools per 1,000 child population, as it stands at 19th and 21st positions on the list of 35 primary and upper primary levels respectively. The student-teacher ratio is dismal at the class VI to VIII level as the state is 31st on the list. It’s a notch better for primary levels as it stands at 28th position. On an average, there are only 3.8 teachers per school. The state’s performance under the Outcome head, calculated on the basis of dropout rate, transition loss, enrolments, Muslim participation, working hours of teachers and gender diversity, was however, better than all the other indicators with Chhattisgarh securing the second position in primary level after Tamil Nadu and 11th in upper primary level. When contacted, Reena Kangle, mission director, Sarv Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), said, “We cannot compare our ranking vis-a-vis other developed states, as we are relatively only 12 years young,” she said and added that the geographical location of the state and the Maoist problem were adding to the problem. Kangle said a large number of schools have been sanctioned on paper but the government hasn’t been able to create an infrastructure in Maoist dominated areas. “Moreover, a few schools have been shutdown due to inadequate infrastructure,” she claimed adding that even Right to Education (RTE) had not been implemented in letter and spirit. “We do not fulfill the criteria of having a primary school within 1km of habitation and an upper primary school within 3km,” she said while maintaining that due to Naxalism, recruitment of teachers was a big problem in many areas. “No experienced teacher wants to join there and as per the RTE mandate there should be trained staff. We are trying to do our best but due to such problems we are not able to perform. These are constraints beyond our control,” she said. (Times of India 19/7/13)

22. Government to increase enrolment in higher education (11)
Shimla: Union Surface Transport Minister Oscar Fernades on Monday said the central government would aim to take the rate of enrolment in higher education to 30 percent in the next seven years from the present 19 percent. “The Right to Education Act is a proactive response to fill the gap between the temples of learning and the child and the young population of our country,” he said while addressing faculty and students of the Himachal Pradesh University here. Regretting that the rate of enrolment in higher education is still around 19 percent in the country, he said, “The government aims to raise it to 30 percent by 2020″.Delivering the inaugural address at the university’s three-day foundation day function, Fernandes said Indian youth, to their credit, shine in academics and research all over the world. “This proves that there is no dearth of talent. But lack of adequate funding and infrastructure for research hamper our universities,” the minister said. Quoting from 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai’s address to the UN General Assembly, he said: “If we want to achieve our goal, then let us empower ourselves with the weapon of knowledge and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” Malala, who was seriously injured in a Taliban attack in Pakistan’s northwest Swat valley last year, this month celebrated her 16th birthday. In her speech at the United Nations in New York, she called on world leaders to provide free schooling to all children. (Zee News 22/7/13)

23. SFI moves apex court against coaching centres (11)
NEW DELHI: The Students Federation of India (SFI) on Monday sought direction from the Supreme Court to the Centre and others to regulate the functioning of “unrecognised” private coaching companies running across the country in an “institutionalised” manner in the name of preparing students for admission to IITs and medical colleges. The CPM’s student wing claimed that these unregulated coaching centres not only caused a financial burden to students and parents but also created psychological problems among them, besides violating CBSE rules and Right to Education (RTE) guidelines. Advocate Deepak Prakash, representing the petitioner, submitted that unfortunately no effective action could be taken against the Rs 35,000-crore private coaching business in the absence of any law to deal with them or regulate their activities. The business of the coaching industry is expected to grow more than Rs 75,000 crore by 2014-15 as per a Crisil Report. A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose fixed the petition for hearing next week. According to the petitioner, these private coaching companies have ruined the careers of minors and “exploited them by way of illegal demands, giving false and misleading advertisements, using the names and photographs of successful students in their advertisements without their permission. The fees and other charges are so high and arbitrary everywhere that students and guardians have no choice but to bear the financial burden by compromising many things. ” The petition pointed out that in Kota, which has emerged as the hub of these institutions, some 50 students committed suicide in 2011. (Deccan Herald 23/7/13)

24. 39 lakh joins neo-literate population in March (11)
NEW DELHI: While UPA-II’s focus has been the Right to Education ( RTE) Act, the adult literacy programme has been scripting a quiet success. About 39 lakh people have been added in March to India’s 1.4 crore neo-literate population in the last three years since the Saakshar Bharat programme was first launched. Encouragingly about 48% of this 39 lakh belong to scheduled caste, scheduled tribe, other backward castes and minorities. Of the 53.5 lakh adults who appeared for the test, 73.4% passed. The highest enrolment was from states like Andhra Pradesh where 11.6 lakh adults appeared for the test, followed by Rajasthan (8.9 lakh) and West Bengal (5.5 lakh). According to a recent UNESCO report, the adult literacy rates in South Asia are about 63% well below the global average of 84%.Global adult literacy accounts for population aged 15 years and older. Two regions — Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia — were at or near universal literacy in 2011, with adult literacy rates of 99% and 100%, respectively. North America and Western Europe is also assumed to be near universal adult literacy. In East Asia and the Pacific (adult literacy rate of 95%) and Latin America and the Caribbean (92%) at least nine out of 10 adults were able to read and write. However, the average for Latin America and the Caribbean conceals lower literacy rates in only the Caribbean, where the adult literacy rate was only 69% in 2011. Adult literacy rates were also below the global average in South and West Asia (63%) and sub-Saharan Africa (59%), where more than one-third of adults could not read and write. The maximum number of adults from the minority community enrolled from West Bengal of which about 47% passed while the largest group of SCs was from Andhra of which 72% passed. Chhattisgarh recorded the highest number of STs of which 80% cleared the test. Significantly, a literate under Saakshar Bharat is not just a person who can write h/his name. The revised definition of a literate requires an adult to attend about 300 hours of learning to ensure that the person can do simple arithmetic with working knowledge of metric units and broad idea of proportions and interest, read road signs and simple instructions. The basic programme empowers a person to read aloud at a speed of 30 words per minute while writing skills include copying with understanding at a speed of seven words per minute and taking dictation of seven words per minute. There are three levels of the programme and ideally if an adult completes all three then s/he gets the equivalent of a class X certificate from the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). The assessment is done on the basis of guidelines framed by NIOS in consultation with National Literacy Mission Authority (NLMA) and a student is only considered passed if s/he gets grade A (above 60%) or B (40% and above) in all three subjects. (Times of India 25/7/13)

25. Govt to pay 5,600 fee for each poor student in private schools (11)
KOCHI: Government will annually pay only Rs 5,600 per poor student to private schools that will have to admit at least 25% of the class strength with children belonging to weaker or disadvantaged groups from this year. The committee set up by the state government to assess the expenditure that the state would have to incur on each poor child who seeks enrolment in private schools under the 25% quota of the Right to Education (RTE) Act has decided on the amount. “We spend about Rs 5,600 on the education of a student in a government school in a year. The same amount will be paid to private schools that admit poor students under the RTE quota,” said education secretary K Ellangovan. Incidentally, majority of the private schools charge anything between Rs 10,000 and Rs 20,000 as fees per annum from students. With state implementing the RTE Act from this year, the unaided schools have to admit at least 25% of the strength of the class with children belonging to weaker sections and children belonging to disadvantaged groups from the neighborhood and provide them free and compulsory education till completion of elementary education. The expense incurred on these students will be reimbursed by the state government. For the purpose of the RTE Act, a child belonging to a weaker section means a child whose parent or guardian’s annual income is less than Rs 60,000. The disadvantaged group includes scheduled caste, scheduled tribes, the socially and educationally backward class children, HIV positive children, orphans, children with learning disabilities and special needs. “So far not a single private school has approached us for reimbursement, an indication that no student from economically weaker sections has approached the private schools for admission. This could be mainly because we have government and aided schools within walking distance,” said director of public instruction, A Shajahan. A poor student will be eligible for concession in private school only if there is no government or aided school within walking distance. (Times of India 27/7/13)

26. MPs in 85 Naxal-hit districts may have a say in development works (12)
NEW DELHI: MPs in Naxal-affected areas may get a say in how development works are commissioned as part of an annual Rs 30 crore grant that was until now managed by senior administration, police and forest officials in a district. The proposal — if accepted by the Cabinet on Thursday — will vastly increase the influence of MPs in 85 Naxal-affected districts in terms of commissioning development works that are usually limited to Rs 5 crore per constituency. The Cabinet is also likely to approve Rs 4,000 crore allocation for three years for these districts till 2016-17 as the current allocations under the integrated action plan (IAP) run out. A committee that examined the IAP has recommended that MPs as well as local panchayat functionaries like sarpanches be given a role in the allocation of the substantial funds that are controlled by the district collector, police chief and forest officer. Since 2010, a sum of Rs 6,090 crore has been allocated of which Rs 4,220 crore has been disbursed. The works commissioned include infrastructure amenities like roads, bridges, electric poles and anganwadis. The committee has also called for greater coordination between the IAP and existing schemes being run by the home ministry. The large allocation to the IAP signals UPA-II’s commitment to pushing welfare and consequently the government’s presence into areas that have been seen as “Red zones” where the state is largely absent. Looking to counter arguments often advanced by activists that the state is relying on force to settle the Naxal problem in line with a law and order approach, the government has made a determined bid to empower district officials. The officials have been given a large leeway in deciding the type of development their districts need and the policy is seen to complement the use of central and state forces to take on the ultras. The clear, hold, build strategy the Centre has adopted since it initiated anti-Naxal operations on a large scale is a multi-pronged approach to an entrenched problem. Officials point to the need to separate local followers from the ideologically committed core of the Naxal organization. Local adherents can find the rebels an attractive option in the face of oppression at the hands of either dominant groups or the state. Also, the war against insurgency can depend on perceptions about who is winning. Fence-sitters and a large section of the local population are unwilling to oppose Naxals if it is not clear that the state has the upper hand. (Times of India 25/7/13)

27. Odisha govt disburse package for surrendered Maoists (12)
Nabarangpur (Odisha): As part of Odisha government’s rehabilitation package for surrendered Maoists, Rs. 1 lakh was released to Laxmidhar Nayak alias Gundadhul, ex-Commandar of Udanti-Raighar-Sinapali border area committee of ultras, who had surrendered before the police last year. Superintendent of police, Nabarangpur, Brajesh Rai said he handed Rs 50,000 to Nayak in Nabarangpur on Friday while an equal amount was deposited in a joint-bank account. In the last fiscal, Rs 1.5 lakh was deposited in the account jointly operated by Nayak and the SP, Nabarangpur, which would be released to Laxmidhar after verification of his conduct over a period of time, he said. Mr. Rai further said that more financial incentives would be provided to him for purchase of land, construction of house and for his marriage. Laxmidhar was a close associate of Kartik, divisional secretary, Lalita and Jani Salm, both active members of Manpur Divisional Committee of Chhattisgarh under which Udanti-Raighar-Sinapali border Area Committee operates. All the operations by the Maoist in Nabarangpur and Nuapada districts in Odisha were being executed by the Area Committee of which Laxmidhar was the Commander. Laxmidhar belonged to Erikbuta village under Pakanjhar police station of Kanker District of Chhattisgarh. However, he was operating in Nabarangpur and Nuapada districts bordering Chhattisgarh. At the time of surrender, Laxmidhar was assured that he would be rehabilitated as per the guidelines and package of the Government. (The Hindu 26/7/13)

28. State prepares for propaganda war in Naxal-hit districts (12)
Nagpur: Naxal-affected districts in the state are set to witness a propaganda war. Via a GR issued Tuesday, the government deputed three officials from the information and publicity department to the office of Special Inspector General of Police (Anti-Naxal Operations) Anup Kumar Singh here “with immediate effect”.District Information Officer (Nagpur) V H Khadse, Information Officer (Parbhani) and Hansraj Raut, sub-editor, District Information Office, Gadchiroli, will undertake propaganda mission. “Naxalites are always campaigning against government and police. A new publicity cell is being opened in Special IG (ANO) office to provide information about government schemes and programmes to people in affected districts,” the GR says. “They will counter Naxal propaganda by explaining to people in Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur various government schemes,” said Singh. Asked how the propaganda will be done, he said, “Through media, posters and pamphlets, skits and dramas. The modalities will be worked out soon.” (Indian Express 27/7/13)

29. Workers pour out their woes at gram sabha meet (14)
DINDIGUL: Villagers, who participated in the special gram sabha held in panchayats in Dindigul by the district administration in a move to solve the problems regarding the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (MGNREGS) alleged that contractors were asking them to perform difficult tasks and then cutting their pay for incomplete work. The Dindigul district administration decided to convene special gram sabhas in the villages as complaints and demonstrations with regard to the rural employment guarantee scheme became a regular issue. At a meeting held at the Karisalpatti panchayat in Reddiarchathiram union in the district people who opted out of the scheme were asked for their views. The beneficiaries said that they should be given the full pay of Rs 148 per day’s work once a week or at least once in two weeks, without further delay. Some villagers alleged that they had not got their pay for over six months and that the bank had informed them of discrepancies in their accounts. “We were asked to set right the problem and approach the bank, but have no clue how to go about it,” said a woman. The panchayat president Kulandhai Therese said that it would help the elders in the village if the bank allowed them to withdraw the funds and then disburse it to the beneficiaries. She said that the bank did not agree to the withdrawal of the entire amount by the panchayat. Annamalai, a beneficiary said the contractors were thinking of ways and means to reduce the pay on charges of non-completion of the given work. “A team of 20 members is asked to desilt a tank measuring 9m in length and 9m in breadth to a depth of one foot in a single day, but most of the days at least three members of the team fail to come and the rest cannot complete the work so we are underpaid,” he said. The beneficiaries said that they were getting only Rs 55 or 65 against the maximum amount of Rs 148 per day, in Karisalpatti. The bank manager of the Canara Bank in Hanumandarayankottai said that they were unable to disburse the funds to the beneficiaries only due to discrepancies in the bank accounts which the respective panchayat administrations failed to maintain properly. Only Hanumandarayankottai and Ponnimandurai maintained the accounts properly, he added. BDO Nirmala said the beneficiaries sometimes failed to take the work seriously and came to the work site without implements such as spades, pick axes and baskets and hence the work got delayed. “We plan to create awareness on the priorities of the scheme through the special gram sabhas,” she said. (Times of India 24/7/130

30. Textile Ministry to take up plan to link MNREGA with textiles with PM (14)
NEW DELHI: The Textiles Ministry will soon take up with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a proposal to link NREGA with the sector to train about 15 lakh workers in the sector in the next three years. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), guarantees 100-day employment for rural poor people and was launched in 2006. Textiles Minister K Sambasiva Rao said the proposal is for a MNREGA type of employment in the textile sectors to minimise the problems of skilled labourers. “I will be talking to the Prime Minister about the proposal,” he said after releasing a report. The report titled ‘Cost Benchmarking Study-India vis-a vis Bangladesh, Indonesia, Egypt, China, Pakistan and Turkey’ was commissioned by Zurich-based consulting firm GHERZI and Cotton Textiles Export promotion Council of India (Texprocil). “We want to train 15 lakh people in textiles sector in the next three years,” Rao said. The principle aim of MNERGA is to provide employment to people who do not get it in the off season and by linking the scheme to textiles sector these people will also be trained, he added. “Of the total Rs 40,000 crore allocated for MNREGA, I want at least Rs 25,000 crore should be diverted for skill training for various sectors,” Rao said. “Recently, I have also written a letter to Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh suggesting linking the MNREGA scheme with skill development,” he said. The government has already allocated Rs 1,900 crore for skill development in the sector and some funds from the scheme will help to provide training to people along with paying them wages, he said. Further, Rao said, the ministry is planning to increase the interest subsidy to 6 per cent from the existing 5 per cent under Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (TUFS) for the powerloom sector. “We are now proposing to increase the interest subsidy for powerloom to six per cent,” Rao said. Under TUFS, the government subsidises five per cent of interest payments on loans sanctioned. On Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme, Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Anup K Pujari said the Textiles Ministry has asked the Commerce Ministry to allow import of second-hand capital goods under the scheme. Under the EPCG scheme, a domestic manufacturer can import capital goods at 3 per cent customs duty, irrespective of the applicable duty rate. The GHERZI – Texprocil report cautioned that India has a long way to go in catching up with China, which has more than 35 per cent share in global textiles trade as on 2011. In absolute terms, while China had clocked an export figure of USD 248 billion in 2011, India remains a distant second with exports of USD 29.4 billion from the sector. Further, the study said, the domestic cotton textiles industry has a potential to grow from its present level of about USD 60 billion to USD 140 billion by 2020 besides generating 2 million additional direct jobs. It identified three critical areas to realise that potential — adequate supply of raw-material at competitive prices, particularly cotton, stable enabling environment such as a predictable policy regime and physical infrastructure which ensures quick movement of goods and services across the country. (Economic Times 25/7/13)
31. Capacity building, planning critical to MGNREGA: CAG (14)
Ranchi: Capacity building and planning are critical to the successful implementation of schemes under MGNREGA, the flagship programme of the Centre in providing 100 days guaranteed employment. However, delay in formulation of rules, constitution of State Employment Guarantee Council and inadequacy of manpower affected capacity building for proper implementation of the scheme in Jharkhand, finds a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. “Implementation of MGNREGS works suffered due to non-constitution of a panel of accredited engineers and technical resource system,” points out the CAG for the year ended 31 March 2012 and tabled recently in Jharkhand Assembly. It noticed that the State Employment Guarantee Scheme, named as “NREGS, Jharkhand”, was formulated in June 2007 after a delay of 21 months from the date of notification of the MGNREGA, leading its functioning without any state-specific directions from February 2006, when the scheme was launched in Jharkhand, till June 2007. The CAG’s recommendations for capacity building are deploying support staff, empanelling accredited engineers in the state and imparting adequate training to the support staff at the district, block and gram panchayat levels. (Zee News 28/7/13)

32. India’s labour policy suicidal, needs to be business-friendly (14)
Mumbai: There was one factor common to these three – they employed huge numbers of people collectively, though individually, no unit employed more than 100 people. They were characterised by the smallness of their operations, often scattered across cities and states. This was – and is – because of India’s labour laws, which made it very difficult for units to shut shop once they crossed a certain number of employees or a certain threshold of capital employed. While this is not a deterrent for large organisations, it does deter small entrepreneurs. After all, the very act of putting in capital to start a business, involves huge risks. Why compound this risk with a structure that makes it difficult for an entrepreneur from cutting his losses when things go wrong? As a result, India has not been entrepreneur-friendly at all. But when a country compels its entrepreneurs to think small, it also reduces their global competitiveness. Not surprisingly, labour laws are the primary reason India’s garments industry has lost its global competitive edge. Export of garments, once considered a sunrise export industry, today barely manages to cross an annual billing of $1 billion. Contrast this with Bangladesh, which has pushed up its garment exports to over $26 billion a year! China is today the world’s largest exporter of garments, but is likely to lose this market as its labour costs increase. India could have been a beneficiary of this opportunity shift, but may miss the bus again, primarily because it has not been able to change its labour laws. This is sad. India’s policymakers have literally allowed the country’s growth potential to languish, or even shrivel up just because 6.3% of its workforce (see table) does not want labour laws relaxed. As a result, business areas in which India could have competitive advantage are allowed to move to other countries. Many entrepreneurs are also persuaded to think small, because few like the suffocating embrace of the inspection raj that the labour department has unleashed on India’s businesses. Not surprisingly, India’s organised workforce remains small. It also explains why wage differentials between the organised and unorganised workforce can be uncomfortably large. This was in stark evidence when casual workers at Maruti Suzuki’s plant went on strike. Not having flexible labour laws invariably ends up in exploitation of unorganised workers. The only way out is to have flexible labour laws that would apply to all units, not just organised workplaces. Such laws would encourage the creation of more jobs, even if it meant unviable units retrenching employees, after paying them reasonable compensation. If India wants capital to become productive, it must allow businesses to come up easily and also allow them to redeploy those assets in other businesses that promise better opportunities. Only then does an economy become vibrant and entrepreneurial. Obviously, 6% of the workforce cannot be allowed to destroy the very fabric of India’s economy. (DNA 29/7/13)

33. Keeping the statute quo (19)
The Supreme Court judgments of July 10, disqualifying convicted or jailed MPs and MLAs from contesting elections, won a lot of accolades. It was claimed they would clean our politics. I have no sympathy for criminals, but in my respectful opinion lawmaking is the job of the legislature, not the judiciary. Others objected that since many legislators have criminal backgrounds, they will not change the law. My reply was: if it is said that the judiciary must step in if the legislature is not doing its job properly, it can likewise be said that since the judiciary is not doing its job properly (there is often great delay in deciding cases, a section of the judiciary has become corrupt, etc) the legislature or executive should do the work of deciding cases. This would lead to a constitutional crisis and chaos. In Lily Thomas vs Union of India, the bench struck down Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, as unconstitutional. Now it has been held by the Supreme Court in Government of Andhra Pradesh and Others vs P. Laxmi Devi (2008) that the invalidation of a statute by the judiciary is a grave step. The court can declare a statute unconstitutional not merely because it is possible to take such a view, but only when it is the sole possible view not open to rational question. This is because there is a broad separation of powers in our Constitution between the three organs of state. If one organ encroaches on the others’ domain, the system cannot function. Declaring a statute to be unconstitutional is thwarting the will of a co-ordinate organ of the state, which should be done only if there is a clear violation of some constitutional provision. Keeping the above considerations in mind it is difficult to understand how Section 8(4) could be held unconstitutional… (Indian Express 24/7/13)

34. Compensation for rape victims in 2 months (19)
Mumbai: Two days after the Bombay high court came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for failing to give effect to the scheme for compensating rape and acid attack victims, the state on Thursday told the court that the scheme would be made operational within two months. Assistant public prosecutor Prajakta Shinde informed the high court that the home department has forwarded a proposal for financial sanction and the formalities would take at least two months. The division bench of justice SC Dharmadhikari and justice SB Shukre accordingly granted two month’s time to the home department, but added a caution: “Authorities concerned must show some sense of urgency and see to it that nothing remains to be done after the time period is over. These are not measures that can be postponed. We expect that a sense of urgency would be shown so that the scheme which provides solace to victims, particularly minors and children, is made operational as early as possible.” The judges expressed displeasure over the fact that though the scheme was formulated in 2010, no steps have been taken even after the state received a letter from the central government in February 2013, stating it would provide 50% funds required for implementation of the scheme. The judges were also surprised to note that though the state chief secretary had convened a meeting of concerned bureaucrats on July 14, the financial sanction for the scheme was still pending. The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by city NGO Forum Against Oppression of Women, seeking directions to implement the provision of section 357(A) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which mandates that state governments formulate a scheme to compensate victims of crime and disburse the compensation amount through District Legal Aid Authorities. Earlier, during course of hearing on the PIL on July 22, the bench had rapped the state government after noting that it had cited lack of funds as the reason for not implementing the compensation scheme in Maharashtra. (Hindustan Times 26/7/13)

35. HC verdict will impact private complaints before special courts (19)
BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court’s ruling that no private complaints against public servants could be entertained without prior sanction for their prosecution will impact a majority of such complaints pending before the Special Lokayukta Courts in the State. Except the complaints filed by Sirajin Basha against the then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa after securing sanction from the Governor, in no case sanction for prosecution was produced before the special courts by the complainants on the date of filing of complaints. Hence, said the former Additional Advocate-General K.M. Nataraj, the special courts “cannot take note of” these complaints. However, Mr. Nataraj points out that the verdict of the Supreme Court in the A.R. Antulay’s case permits the special courts to take cognisance of offence against a Minister without sanction under the PC Act after he demits the post of Minister, which he is alleged to have abused, even though he continues to be an MLA or MP…or against MLAs or MPs after they cease to hold these posts. The special courts may proceed against the former Ministers or former MLAs, or former MPs under the PC Act in the absence of sanction if the complaint is re-presented. However, the special courts may not be able to do so if they are charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) along with the provisions of the PC Act as the law is well settled that no courts can take cognisance of offence under the IPC against a public servant — whether serving or retired or demitted the office — in the absence of sanction granted by the competent authority under Section 197 of the Cr. PC, Mr. Nataraj pointed out. Also, Mr. Nataraj said, in many of the complaints, bureaucrats and other government servants have been made co-accused along with politicians. And the special courts cannot prosecute politicians alone in the absence of sanction for prosecuting bureaucrats and other government servants, who are made co-accused in many of these complaints, in the absence of mandatory sanction required under Section 197 of the Cr. PC. The Karnataka High Court in 2011 itself had set aside the Bangalore Special Court’s decision of taking cognisance of offence against the former Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy holding that sanction under Section 197 of Cr. PC was mandatory as he was charged with offences under IPC along with the provisions of the PC Act. (The Hindu 28/7/13)

36. Over two million houses for urban poor in next four years: Girija Vyas (21)
New Delhi, July 22 : Over two million houses will be constructed for the urban poor under schemes of the union housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry in the next four years, Minister Girija Vyas said here Monday. The minister also called upon states to leverage funds provided by the centre to boost housing for low income groups, and claimed that Rs.35,000 crore was available to her ministry for the provision of such housing. Speaking to the media, Girija Vyas said her ministry has proposed to liberalise norms for affordable housing, and families with income of Rs.1 lakh per year would be eligible for housing under the economically weaker section (EWS) category. She said families with income of Rs.2 lakh per year would be eligible for lower income group (LIG) housing. She said a task force set up by her ministry had recommended placing affordable housing in the “infrastructure” category. Such categorisation will make the sector eligible for tax concessions, she said. Girija Vyas, who earlier in the day addressed the “National symposium on affordable housing” said that Rs.35,000 crore had been approved for schemes of the ministry, including the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) and the Affordable Housing in Partnership scheme. RAY is aimed at making the country free of slums. Affordable Housing in Partnership aims at fostering public-private sector collaboration in housing the urban poor. Girija Vyas said states should leverage funds available to them under central schemes and construct an additional one million houses in the next four years. She said that the housing shortage in the country had been estimated at 18.78 million units, of which 96 percent shortage was in the EWS and LIG category. “We need huge investments for this and private sector also needs to play a crucial role to fill the gap,” she said. Girija Vyas said her ministry will pursue recommendations of the task force on promoting affordable housing set up last year under the chairmanship of Arun Kumar Misra, secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. Misra said the task force had recommended incentives for the affordable housing sector including concessions to development related charges, service tax exemptions, direct tax benefits and inclusion of the sector in the “infrastructure facility”.The task force had also said that governments need to still provide direct capital grant support to affordable housing projects and suggested exploring the option of foreign direct investment to bring in the capital. It called for reducing timelines for affordable housing projects and suggested that states and cities should prepare a full inventory of their land holdings, increase floor space index and provide transferable development rights facilities. It also suggested interest subsidy for the urban poor and appropriate reduction of stamp duty for registration of property in affordable housing projects. The symposium in Delhi on Monday was attended by more than 200 delegates, including housing and urban development ministers from some states, industry associations, academics and technical experts. (New Indian Express 22/7/13)

37. Poverty ratio falls to 21.9% in FY12 (21)
New Delhi: India’s poverty ratio dropped to 21.9% in 2011-12 from 37.2% in 2004-05, the fastest fall in several decades, as faster economic growth raised incomes across segments and propped up the spending power of millions of people. Based on the NSSO’s data on monthly per capita consumption expenditure, the Planning Commission computed persons below the poverty line at 25.7% for rural areas and 13.7% for urban areas during 2011-12, compared to 41.8% and 25.7% in 2004-05. The national average fell to 21.9% from 37.2% in seven years to 2011-12, at 2.18% per annum. This was faster than the 0.74% annual fall between 1993-94 and 2004-05, the commission estimated using the Tendulkar method for mixed reference period (MRP). People with a consumption expenditure of less than R816 per month in rural areas and R1,000 in urban areas are defined as poor. For a family of five, the all-India poverty line in terms of consumption expenditure amounts to about R4,080 per month in rural and R5,000 in urban areas. “In 2011-12, India had 270 million persons below the Tendulkar Poverty Line compared to 407 million in 2004-05, a reduction of 137 million over the seven-year period,” the plan panel said. The rapid decline in poverty comes in the backdrop of average GDP growth of 8.3% compared to 6.1% during 1993-2005. During the last few years, rural incomes have grown faster than urban incomes, after the government rolled out schemes such as MGNREGS. The maximum number of poor people reside in UP (598.19 lakh), Bihar (358.15 lakh), MP (234.06 lakh), Maharashtra (197.92 lakh) and West Bengal (194.98 lakh). While the present poverty estimate is based on the Tendulkar method, it had come under criticism, prompting the Centre to set up a committee under Prime Minister’s economic adviser C Rangarajan. But the Rangarajan committee is expected to submit its report by the middle of 2014. (Indian Express 24/7/13)

38. Andhra Pradesh leads in bringing down poverty (21)
HYDERABAD: Even as Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, hard sells his “poverty mitigating development agenda,” Andhra Pradesh has silently out beaten his State by dramatically halving the number of poor over the last two years from 176 lakh to 80 lakh, the latest National Sample Survey Organisation data has revealed. Not just Gujarat, no other Indian State comes close to this rate of poverty reduction from 21.1 per cent to 9.37 per cent during the period 2009-10 and 2011-12. If it looks quite surprising for a short two-year period, the figures for the longer seven-year term, from 2004-05 to 2011-12, are equally impressive with poverty rate dropping by about 20 percentage points, against the Indian average of 15 percentage points. And if one goes beyond and looks at the last 20 years, poverty is down by a significant 35 percentage points. Two other States that come second and third to AP are Tamil Nadu and Gujarat but both these States took seven years to halve and nearly halve the number of poor. Some experts now compare the AP’s poverty rates to those of China, stated to have lifted more people out of poverty in the last 30 years than any country in history. How did AP achieve this feat? Is it because of poverty alleviation programmes? Or is it owing to schemes like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee programme or agriculture growth? Economists however have extremely differing views both over the figures put out by the NSSO and the manner of achieving poverty reduction. For eminent economist and former member of the Planning Commission, C. H. Hanumantha Rao, the reduction in poverty in Andhra Pradesh was to be expected. “I am not surprised at all, given the way rural income has grown with wages being pushed up significantly from schemes like MGNREGA and agriculture growth rate. The 4 per cent growth in agriculture may still be elusive but in some years it was close to 3 per cent.” This growth was satisfactory over the years and the welcome feature was that it came from crop diversification, Prof. Rao said. Wages in rural areas have gone up to such an extent that farmers were complaining of shortage of farm hands, though it is debatable whether payment of wages has led to creation of productive assets. Income levels have gone up also because farmers diversified into sectors such as dairying. Migration to urban areas is now not so much of distress- driven but for better opportunities and living conditions. Äll these factors appear to have contributed to reduction in poverty, he explained. He found the NSSO data credible. But for another economist, Dr. Vamsi Vakulabharanam of University of Hyderabad, the NSSO finding is to be taken with a pinch of salt. “A dramatic reduction of poor by 90 lakh in two years is usually to be treated with great scepticism. There are serious problems in comparing data of 2009-10 with 2011-12, as the former was quinquennial survey on more than 100,000 households where as the latter was based on small sample of annual survey which may have significant sample bias. Drawing inference from such small survey is seriously problematic.” Moreover poverty line used in these computations was totally arbitrary based on Tendulkar Committee recommendations that have become controversial for using money value of the indexed urban poverty line in 2004-05 to calculate rural poverty, he said. The current poverty line based on this committee has no basis in any real consumption requirements of the poor, calorific or otherwise. “This entire exercise seems like a publicity stunt on the part of the government and the Planning Commission.” (The Hindu 25/7/13)

39. ‘UP poor to give Rs.27 to Rahul Gandhi for meal’ (21)
Banda (Uttar Pradesh), July 28 : Mocking at the Planning Commission’s poverty figures, people of Uttar Pradesh’s Bundelkhand region would give Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Rs.27 instead of a ‘chatni-roti’ meal if he comes here, NGO workers and villagers said here Sunday. Gandhi visited Bundelkhand’s Banda district in September 2009 and stayed overnight at the home of Bhagwat Prajapati in Nehri village who died due to poverty. He sympathised with Prajapati’s family and ate ‘chatni-roti’ with them. But village residents now said Gandhi would not be offered the poor man’s food any more. Prajapati’s nephew Lala Prajapati said he did not expect Gandhi to visit their house again, but if he did then “I am going to give him Rs.27 so that he could fight hunger”.According to the Planning Commission, people whose daily consumption of goods and services exceed Rs.27.20 in villages and Rs.33.33 in cities are not poor. Lala Prajapati, who is the head of the village, said: “The last time Gandhi spent the night with us, we spent Rs.23 on his ‘chatni-roti’, and that too wasn’t a full meal.” Puswa Raidas, a hand cart puller from Banda city, said: “For my five-member family, we spend Rs.150-175 daily on rations.” “If people like me are to be considered well-off, then all Congress leaders’ names should be enlisted in the below poverty line (BPL) or the Antodaya ration scheme,” he said. Shiv Kumar Mishra, an activist associated with NGOs Right to Food and Human Rights Law Network working in the region, said: “The Planning Commission’s yardstick for determining poverty-stricken people in villages and cities is absurd.” “While setting this yardstick, the commission’s officials seem to have ignored the money they themselves spend on their food,” said Mishra. Leaders from the Congress were not aware of the poverty in the Bundelkhand region despite Gandhi having spent a night with Prajapati’s family, he added. Another activist Suresh Raikwar said they would organise the poor in the region and give Rs.27 for a day’s meal to each leader from the Congress or its allies who visit the area ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. “Gandhi will be given Rs.27 a day, Raj Babbar Rs.12, Rasheed Masood Rs.5 and Farooq Abdullah Re.1, so that they can have a full meal in Bundelkhand,” said Raikwar. “We would protest if the administration officials try to arrange meals for them,” he said. Congress leader Rasheed Masood Thursday claimed that “one can eat well” for Rs.5 in the national capital, a day after Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar said that one can have a full meal for Rs.12 in Mumbai. “You can eat well for Rs.5 in the Jama Masjid area of Delhi,” Masood, a Rajya Sabha member from the Congress, told reporters here. Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah Friday said that one can have a full meal for Re.1. “One can eat for Re.1, if desired. It depends on the common man how much they can afford and they have to manage in that only,” Abdullah told reporters on the ongoing debate on poverty. (New Kerala 28/7/13)

40. Faculty quota struck down, gaze shifts to existing posts (25)
New Delhi: A day after the Supreme Court squashed reservation in faculty posts for specialty and super-specialty courses in AIIMS and other medical and engineering colleges on a petition filed by the faculty association of the premier institute, confusion prevailed over the impact of the ruling on existing and future recruitment. In particular, the recently concluded recruitment of nearly 100 assistant professors at AIIMS, and the ongoing hiring drives in six AIIMS-like institutes constituted under the AIIMS Act faced uncertainty. A senior AIIMS official said, “The judgment is silent on both these points. Its operative part simply puts the onus on Central and state governments, with no categorical direction on what institutes should do.” However, the official pointed out that in the first paragraph of the judgment the SC reiterated that in 2002, when the petition was first filed, the apex court had issued a notice stipulating that any appointments made thereafter would be “tentative in nature until further orders”.Sources said the Health Ministry was taken by surprise since SC had “taken such a broad view”, binding direction from this petition filed only by AIIMS faculty to all medical and engineering colleges. “It will take us some time to assimilate the recruitment status in all government medical colleges. Then we may have to coordinate with HRD Ministry for engineering colleges,” a Health Ministry official said. Since both specialty and super-specialty courses had been categorically mentioned by the SC, sources said not only faculty posts in post-doctoral disciplines, such as neurosurgery and cardiothoracic surgery, but all post-graduate specialisations such as pathology, medicine, paediatrics and gynaecology would be included in the ambit. “This will leave out only a handful of posts in AIIMS…, which require MBBS-level qualifications,” the official said. Senior officials in the Health Ministry said there may be a need to “seek further legal opinion”, after the judgment was “properly analysed”. (Indian Express 20/7/13)

41. Quota for poor Brahmins under consideration (25)
Bangalore: Minister for Social Welfare H Anjaneya on Monday informed the Legislative Council that the government will consider providing reservation for poor Brahmins in the State along the lines of other backward classes (OBCs). In a written reply to Prof Mumtaz Ali Khan (BJP), the minister said the government had already commissioned the collection of data on social and economic situation of Brahmin families through a door-to-door surveys to be undertaken by the State Backward Classes Commission. Information will be gathered by the Commission, alongside what is required to study the social and financial status of Dalits, SCs/STs and minorities in the State. When contacted by Deccan Herald, Anjaneya said: “All categories, regardless of their caste, do have certain population which is economically and socially weak. We will consider all of them before arriving at any decision.” With the total reservation not to exceed 49 per cent, as per the Supreme court directives, sources said that there might be a cut in the quota for one or two of the seven categories in the State. Sources claim that if such reservation is not possible, then the State may consult the National Backward Classes Commission to check whether there is any opportunity to provide special economic status reservation to poor Brahmins. Sources in the government said that the reservation for poor Brahmins was being considered as there are many people in the caste who have not even completed their 10th standard and, are socially and economically as weak as those from the OBCs. It is estimated that the Brahmins constitute about two per cent of the total population of the State. (Deccan Herald 22/7/13)

42. Allahabad HC stays UPPSC’s reservation policy (25)
Allahabad: The Allahabad high court on Monday reserved its order on the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission’s reservation policy which opened up unreserved seats for reserved categories candidates, triggering controversy. The court directed the panel not to conduct interviews for the Provincial Civil Service (PCS)-2011 examinations scheduled from July 26 “till the date of delivery of judgment”. The UPPSC’s reservation policy led to widespread violence in Allahabad and spread to other parts of the state.  A division bench comprising justice Laxmi Kant Mohapatra and justice Rakesh Srivastava reserved verdict on petitions filed by students opposing the new policy wherein caste-based quotas were brought into effect at the preliminary stage itself. The court questioned the UPPSC’s “haste” in bringing the new policy after being told that it was “passed by voice-vote after a member of the commission brought forth the proposal”. On May 27, 2013, a proposal put forward by UPPSC member Gurdarshan Singh said, “The UPPSC from 1994 has been inviting a given number of applicants for interviews against the vacancies advertised for reserved candidates (SC/ST/OBC), but for the recruitments against unreserved seats, only general category candidates are called and students belonging to reserved categories are left out.” The proposal added, “Actually, UR (unreserved) vacancies do not belong to any category and candidates belonging to all the categories should be called for interviews under the UR category.” Singh’s proposal was accepted at the May 27 meeting presided by UPPSC chairman Anil Kumar Yadav. Violent protests had erupted in Allahabad over this order. People took to the streets, staging a massive road blockade and restricting traffic movement on the national highway for over six hours on July 10. Some students began an indefinite hunger strike on July 11. More violence was reported from Allahabad on July 15. As a precautionary measure, the district administration has ordered closure of all schools on Monday and Tuesday. Traffic has been diverted on all roads leading to the UPPSC headquarters here, with heavy barricading and deployment of forces. Nearly 3,000 personnel of police, Provincial Armed Constabulary and Rapid Action Force have been pressed into service. The court order was welcomed by those opposing the new policy, but resented by those in its favour. Several students at Allahabad University, which has been converted into a virtual garrison by the district administration to prevent any outbreak of violence, were seen smearing each other’s faces with gulal. Stray incidents of violence were reported from nearby Salori locality, where the police cane-charged a group of students raising slogans in support of the reservation policy. (Hindustan Times 22/7/13)

43. Maratha reservation: Rane panel report by next session (25)
Mumbai: The committee headed by Industry Minister Narayan Rane on the Maratha reservation issue will submit its report to Maharashtra Government by the winter session of State Legislature, scheduled in Nagpur, Minister for Social Justice Shivajirao Moghe informed the state Assembly here on Friday. The minister made the announcement, while replying to a calling attention notice by independent MLA Anil Bonde, Vijay Wadettiwar (Cong) and others in the Lower House. Maratha community is seeking inclusion in the “Other Backward Classes” (OBC) for purpose of reservations in education and jobs. The existing OBCs are opposing this move as they do not want to share the OBC pie with Marathas. The panel held a public hearing in Nagpur recently, where representatives of the opposing communities put up their views strongly before it. The Maratha reservation issue is hanging fire for last five years ever since the state backward classes commission headed by Justice (retd) Bapat submitted its report to the state government on July 28, 2008. Six months later, it was referred to a cabinet sub-committee to study the issue in detail. The sub-committee sought additional information but by then Justice Bapat’s term had expired. Later, Justice (retd) Saraf took over as the commission head. His tenure was short-lived as he died on May 15, 2012. This was followed by appointment of Justice (retd) Bhatia as head of the commission. The state government set up the high-powered committee headed by Rane to examine the fresh information provided by the backward classes’ commission. Among its members are revenue minister, minister as well as minister of state for social justice, tribal development minister and additional chief secretary. Pune-based Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute managing director is the member-secretary. The Rane committee has been asked to study the matter afresh and ascertain the current population figures of Maratha community, its social, education and employment status. As part of the process, views of the public, objections and support, if any, would also be considered before the final report is submitted. Shivsangram- an organization headed by MLC Vinayak Mete, is lobbying hard in support of reservations for Marathas. (Zee news 26/7/13)