Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by admin at 30 December 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit minor girl raped in Warangal (2)

WARANGAL: A 17-year-old dumb Dalit girl was allegedly raped by an unidentified person in Inavolu village in Wardhannapet mandal of Warangal district late on Wednesday night. According to police sources, the minor girl, who resides with her parents in SC colony in the village had ventured out around 11 pm to attend nature’s call, when an unidentified person gagged her mouth and alleged sexually assaulted her. The girl had earlier in the night attended prayers in the colony and returned home. The assailant after raping her fled from the spot. The girl managed to reach the house and informed her father about the incident. Police said they suspect the involvement of local youth as they had information that some persons were seen consuming alcohol. One of them might have seen the girl going out of the house and followed her. Wardhannapet police registered a case and shifted the girl to local hospital for medical examination. Manhunt was launched to nab the culprit, police said. (The Hindu 11/12/14)

2. Manjhi invokes power of Dalits (2)

Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Thursday asserted that Dalits were strong enough to rebuff the forces trying to harass them. ” Hum chuha pakad kar khichna jante hain.. Jo koi garbar karega, hum uska tang bhi khich dengein (We know how to pull out a rat from its hole. We are also capable of pulling the legs of the ones doing something wrong),” Manjhi said, addressing a Dalit convention at Adapur in East Champaran district, 180km northeast of Patna. Manjhi is the face of Musahars – a rat-catching Dalit community. Manjhi’s “leg-pulling” rhetoric reminded his scathing attack on doctors when he had said the hands of the medicos doing their duty improperly should be chopped off. In an obvious bid to keep his mentor Nitish Kumar in good humour, Manjhi appealed to the Dalits to stand behind Nitish and the JDU, which had “honoured” him with the chief minister’s chair. At his eloquent best in the company of his Dalit brethren, Manjhi dwelt at length on the dignity of the Dalit communities. “The Dalits should not be dependent on welfare schemes like Indira Awas Yojana. The houses given under the schemes are like alms thrown before the beggars,” he said. He suggested the Dalits to take inspiration from tribal leaders Birsa Munda and Dalit leader B.R. Ambedkar to attain “intellectual and fighting traits”. “For adopting the ideals of Birsa Munda and Ambedkar, you must bring about change in your way of living. You must shun liquor and send your kids to schools,” Manjhi advised the Dalits. “I shall not live forever. But the Dalits should keep on increasing their intellectual prowess to have the chief minister from among them in the future,” Manjhi said while addressing a felicitation ceremony organised by the Birsa-Ambedkar Kalyan Samiti at Bansi High School grounds: Transport minister Ramai Ram, another Dalit leader who accompanied the chief minister, said: “Nitish will be the chief minister again after the 2015 elections. All the Dalits should stand like a rock behind him, who has done more than anyone else for the Dalits and Mahadalits.” Manjhi, however, emphasised more on the Dalits’ cause than on making Nitish the next chief minister. “As many as 80 per cent Dalits are living below poverty line. A large number of them are still not enrolled as voters. As a result, their real numerical strength are not reflected in the counting of votes,” he said, appealing his Dalit brethren to be aware of their voting right. The chief minister also called for raising the reservation from present 49.5 per cent to 80 per cent for OBCs, SC/STs and other sections of the population. “I had the wish that the Paswan community members should have 100 per cent reservation in the appointment of chowkidars (village guards),” Manjhi said. (The Telegraph 12/12/14)

3. Dalits are now saffron forces’ foot soldiers (2)

Lucknow: After successfully polarizing Dalits against Muslims in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, saffron forces are now using them to lead the charge towards their goal of a grand ‘Hindu Rashtra’, believe social analysts and Dalit thinkers. This would not only harm communal amity but in the long run also hit the Dalit rights movement started by Ambedkar, they say. Nand Kishore Valmiki, leader of Dharm Jagran Manch and Bajrag Dal activists who allegedly led the execution of the `ghar wapasi’ of 50 Muslim families, is on the run after being named in the FIR accusing him of `forced conversion’. A resident of Valmiki Basti in Ved Nagar locality of Agra, 40 years old Nand Kishore hit the headlines after one Ibrahim of the same locality lodged a complaint against him for getting people lured to convert into Hinduism. Police said that they were investigating the case if Valmiki lured people to embrace Hinduism by promising them of getting them a BPL card. Valmiki reportedly managed to convince some Muslims in Ved nagar locality to come to a `Havan’, performed three days ago and get them photographed. He also convinced some of the people to pose as Hindus in front of some leaders from Sangh Parivar, by getting a `tilak’ ticked on the fore head. He, though, told them that they would not be converted and that they may continue to practice Islam. However, the next morning, people came to know that they have been converted into Hindus. Police said that during the investigations it was found that Valmiki told the people that the government wanted to help the poor by issuing them BPL card. In the process he asked people to fill up `some’ forms as well. SSP, Agra, Shalabh Mathur said that a team of police visited the slum in Dev Nagar and talked to the people who are at the centre of the row. “A non bailable warrant has been issued against Valmiki. We are carrying out raids in various parts of the city to nab Valmiki,” Mathur said. While Valmiki is on the run, many in the RSS and its affiliates, including BJP, have come out in his defence. The incident has provided another issue after ‘Love Jihad’ and cow slaughter to polarize the masses on religious grounds, which will politically help the BJP and strengthen Hindutava forces. “The incident shows how Sangh Parivar has been successful in polarizing Dalits, mainly Valmikis and Khatiks, to be part of larger Hindu identity,” said Dalit writer and thinker Kanwal Bharti. It’s a replica of the Gujrat model where saffron forces used tribals and dalits for their agenda, he added. “But what Dalits are not being able to understand here that they are being fooled by reactionary forces and diverted from the path of emancipation showed by Babasaheb Bhirm Rao Ambedkar,” he said. In Agra, he said, a misled Dalit is being chased by the police, while fruits of power due to polarization will be enjoyed by others. Dalits and Muslims have largely voted together in UP polls, expect during Ram Temple movement, till Muzaffarnagar riots which created a rift helping BJP sweep May 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Encouraged by the results, the Saffron brigade launched an aggressive campaign to woo Dalits. In June, BJP made removal of loudspeaker from a Dalit temple in Kanth a big issue. In September, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat supported caste based quota saying “reservation is needed till there is inequality in the society”. Later, RSS said Muslim invasion in medieval period created Dalits and tribals in India. “It’s a known fact that Sangh Parivar wants to bring all castes under Hindutava umbrella to achieve its objective of Hindu Rashtra. What we are seeing now is its dangerous execution,” said political analyst Sudhir Panwar. “The BJP already has big upper caste and OBC leaders. Polarization of Dalits will make it politically stronger,” he added. However, socially, he warned, the repercussions could be devastating. “It would marginalize Muslims and religious identity would overshadow the Dalit identity, derailing the years of struggle for social justice. (Times of India 13/12/140

4. Rescued Dalit women labourers’ horror tales (2)

Chennai: It was thanks to an NGO that rescued two teenaged Dalit girls, S. Violet Mary and M. Shanthi, from a life of unremitting labour that they lived to tell their tale at the 15th state-level Dalit women’s conference in the city on Sunday.The two girls were sent to a cotton mill in Dindigul district to work so they could return in three years with savings of Rs 30,000. It was a nightmare that the girls from Athoor village went through, working continuously for more than 12 hours. “About 15 were put in a small room and our day started as early as 3.30 am. An NGO helped us get out of the cotton mill where we were employed,” said Violet Mary. Dalit women from various districts narrated their stories, speaking of the discrimination they faced and how they fought for their rights. “There are 199 cotton mills in Dindigul district alone that employ more than 1 lakh women, and of them, 30,000 are Dalits. These mills announce various schemes, like Sumangali, Kanmani, Thirumagal and lure adolescent girls from economically backward sections with the promise of a lump sum payment of Rs 30,000 after three years. All these women work for hours together and the mills pay them only if they complete the three-year period,” said G.F. Viswasam, secretary of the Sirumalai Evergreen Multipurpose Community Development Society.The NGO has rehabilitated 93 women from the Sumangali scheme and has been giving them vocational training. Violet Mary and Shanthi discontinued their participation in the scheme within a month of joining it and are now in a tailoring programme. “As our seniors narrated various stories to us, we told our family and they accepted,” they said. The long working hours were not the only troublesome aspect. The mills selected girls only from families that had three or more children. “They are also subject to sexual harassment by supervisors,” said Viswasam. The story of bonded labourers from Maharajapuram, Chittoor district in AP, was even worse as 30 people from 15 families lived as slaves, literally, for 15 long years. Members of the Ambedkar Movement rescued them a few months ago. Kasturi, who still struggles to cope with the atrocities and discrimination she faced at an estate in Maharajapuram, said men and women were beaten up like animals just because “we asked the owner to hike our wages”.“We were given only `110 a day for work we did for 18 hours,” said Jeeva, another worker. (Deccan Chronicles 15/12/14)

5. Crusade for Dalits’ entry into temples (2)

Kolar: Kolar district is set to take a big leap forward to eradicate untouchability. Enthused by the response for ‘Grihapravesha’ — a campaign that made Dalits’ entry into the houses of ‘upper’ caste people possible in several villages in the district in the last five months — the organisers have now devised a programme to ensure entry of Dalits into Muzrai Department temples. Dalits comprise almost one-third the total population in the district. According to the District Social Welfare Department figures, of the 15.4 lakh population, 4,65,867 are Scheduled Castes and 78,875 are Scheduled Tribes in the district. Started by Mulbagal-based Arivu Kendra, led by G. Shivappa, an assistant professor with Government College for Women in Kolar, the ‘Grihapravesha’ has expanded. A number of organisations, such as the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, Samata Sainik Dal, and other like-minded people have joined hands in this endeavour. As a result, a wider platform — Dalitara Grihapravesha Rajya Samiti — evolved to take the campaign across the State. The committee has formulated a programme for the entry of Dalits into the temples, with ‘Namma Nade Asprashyate Mukta Bharatadede’ (Our march towards untouchability-free India), as the theme. There are 1,336 temples under the Muzrai and Religious Endowment Department in Kolar district. As a prelude, the committee had appealed to the district administration to create awareness about the provisions of a number of laws, including the Mysore Temples Act 1948 and the Civil Rights Protection Act 1955. The committee had lodged a complaint about Dalits being denied entry into these temples. Following this, Additional Deputy Commissioner R.S. Peddappaiah wrote to all the tahsildars in November to initiate action against those obstructing entry of Dalits into the temples. “This is a big morale booster for us,” Mr. Shivappa told The Hindu. Armed with this and other legal provisions, the committee has decided to launch the campaign on December 21 at Kadenahalli in Mulbagal taluk. “Dalits, accompanied by a number of dignitaries, will be taken into the Chowdeshwari and Someshwaraswamy temples at Kadenahalli to mark the launch of the campaign,” Mr. Shivappa said. Similar programmes will be conducted in all the 1,336 Muzrai temples in the district, he added. “Though Dalits can go to the temples in urban areas, the situation in the rural belt is pathetic. Untouchability is rampant with feudal ideas gaining the upper hand,” said Mr. Shivappa. (The Hindu 17/12/14)

TRIBALS

6. 42 tribal children not in school: SSA (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: As many as 42 tribal children in the age group of 6 to 14 years residing in the hamlets of Kattakkada have never entered the portals of a school, preliminary data collected by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) show. The data collected also hint at the capital district having a good number of out-of-the-school category children in the urban and the coastal areas. Based on all these, the SSA is all set to launch a survey to identify children who have never been to school in the district. School enrolment of children in the age group of 6 to 14 years is mandatory, especially after the implementation of the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. The Podiamplathi tribal hamlet at Kattakada alone accounts for 32 of the 42 children who are not enrolled in school, and the remaining are from Mangode, Mukkothivail, Pattanipara and Anakal, District Project Officer, SSA, M. Rajesh told The Hindu. There are also a few unconfirmed cases of out-of-the-school students reported from tribal settlements in the Palode and Parassala areas. The data related to the number of children from urban and coastal areas having not enrolled are yet to be ascertained, said an official. “The capital city could be home to a number of children who have never been to school, particularly after the influx of the migrant population. A number of such children have been spotted at Varkala and Kovalam,” the official added. Last month, a meeting was convened by the sub-collector to discuss issues related to out-of-the-school children in the capital district. The meeting decided to conduct a survey involving the Local Self-Government Department, Kudumbasree volunteers, District Literacy Mission, and Anganwadis to find the exact number of such children. As a prelude to the survey, the District Level Vigilance Monitoring Committee will meet on December 13 to finalise the modalities of the survey, Mr Rajesh said. (The Hindu 10/12/14)

7. Students back tribals’ agitation (6)

Kochi: Various organisations took out protest marches in the city on Wednesday, which was observed as World Human Rights Day, in solidarity with the adivasi ‘Nilpu Samaram’ that has been going on in Thiruvananthapuram to protect the rights of the tribals. About 1,000 students and staff of Sacred Heart College took out a ‘nilpu samaram’ of their own in front of the college to express solidarity with the tribals’ protest. Fr. Prasant Palakkapillil, principal of the college, spoke at the protest action. Students held placards demanding protection of the land rights of the adivasi people. The students also sent about 1,000 postcards to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to stress their demand. A campaign to collect funds for those participating in the ‘Nilpu Samaram’ was also started at the protest. Activists of the Adivasi Aikyadardhya Samithi, meanwhile, took out a march from Rajendra Maidan on Wednesday evening demanding speedy action from the government. Various other groups organised protest meetings. (The Hindu 11/12/14)

8. PESA Act Important to Make Villages Self-reliant: Governor (6)

CHANDRAPUR: Hailing the PESA Act, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao on Saturday said the law helps in implementation of various provisions for self rule for village communities in the scheduled areas. “Implementation of PESA ensures that panchayats and gram sabhas would be benefited by way of ownership of resources and rights in the scheduled areas in true sense and help in realisation of self-reliance in the villages,” he said while inaugurating a workshop on PESA and Forest Rights Act-2006 organised jointly by the district administration and tribal Welfare department. “PESA Act helps in implementation of various provisions for self rule for village communities in scheduled areas. The Act provides solution to many issues such as tribal land alienation, deprivation of rights on minor forest produce, lack of control of the residents over natural resources, lack of control over local plans and so forth,” he said. PESA was enacted to cover the “Scheduled areas”, which are not covered in the 73rd amendment or Panchayati Raj Act of the Indian Constitution. It was enacted on 24 December 1996 to enable Gram Sabhas to self govern their natural resources. The Governor stressed that Forest Rights Act 2006 also has a potential to change the way forests have been traditionally viewed and managed by the forest dwellers. “I firmly believe that those who have been traditionally protecting forests must have stake in livelihood from the forests as well as their sustenance,” he stressed. Rao directed the officials to work as facilitators, recognise the ownership of the communities over resources, train them in learning skills for livelihood and help them become independent. Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Hansraj Ahir, Maharashtra Finance Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar and other leaders were present on the occasion. (New Indian Express 13/12/14)

9. Village set to become conversant with Gondi (6)

ADILABAD: The Gunjala Gondi, or Koyatur, Lipi Adhyayana Vedika, Utnoor, will launch a six-month programme in December at Gunjala village in Naronoor mandal of Adilabad district to make the entire village literate in Gondi script. The aim of the programme is to make the Adivasi villagers capable of writing and signing applications in the Gondi script which was discovered in the same village some six years back. In a press release, Dr. G. Manoja of the Vedika said the results of an earlier programme to teach the script to Adivasi school students had fetched encouraging results. Not only young students showed an inclination to learn the script of their own language but made tremendous progress in learning their mother tongue in it. The programme will be inaugurated at Gunjala village and will be attended by Collector M. Jagan Mohan, Integrated Tribal Development Officer, Project Officer Prashant Patil. Also attending the programme will be Professor Jayadhir Tirumal Rao, convenor of the Vedika, and Professor S.R. Sarraju, coordinator of the Centre for Dalit and Adivasi Studies and Translation, University of Hyderabad. (The Hindu 14/12/14)

10. Protest over death of Adivasi youth in firing (6)

KHAMMAM: The death of Karam Narasimha Rao, an Adivasi youth of Dosillapalli in Charla mandal, after being hit by a bullet during an anti-Maoist operation by the police on Saturday night set off protests in his native village in Bhadrachalam division on Monday. Narasimha Rao succumbed to the grievous bullet injury while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Hyderabad late on Sunday night. Tension mounted in Dosillapalli on Monday afternoon when a group of villagers staged protest demanding action against those responsible for the death of Narasimha Rao, a petty trader of the village. According to sources, the protesters shouted slogans dismissing the police version that the youth was injured after being caught in an exchange of fire between a police party and the rebels. When the police officials came to the village to inquire into the incident, the agitated villagers sought an open inquiry in the village to unravel the facts and bring the guilty to book. Meanwhile, the death of the Adivasi youth evoked widespread condemnation and vociferous demand for an impartial probe into the incident. In a statement, CPI (M) district secretary Pothineni Sudarshan Rao alleged that the police fired at Narasimha Rao and another youth suspecting them to be the ultras at Dosillapalli on Saturday night. “The police action amounted to unwarranted and unrestrained firing on tribal youth,” he charged alleging that similar incidents occurred thrice in the same Bhadrachalam division in the last couple of years. (The Hindu 16/12/14)

WOMEN

11. 1st non-Internet app for women in distress soon (8)

New Delhi: To help women in distress in the national capital, the city administration’s 181 helpline is set to launch the country’s first non-Internet based application by “the first week of January 2015”. All that one requires is to press the power button of the phone and the helpline would ensure that caller receives assistance on the spot within two to three minutes. After pressing the power button, an SOS message will be automatically transferred to 181. The new application would be first operational only on the Android phones and later on Windows and other mobile devices. The administration had launched the helpline for women in distress after the Nirbhaya incident about two years ago. Of the 12,11,887 calls made to the 24×7 helpline, it attended as many as 8,51,455 calls till December 8 this year. Civil rights activist and 181 head Khadijah Faruqui said that the helpline had managed to get 6,66,684 cases registered on the basis of the calls it had received so far. The helpline got 4,021 cases of abductions registered, 615 cases of acid attacks, 12,435 cases of sexual abuse of children, 79,782 cases of domestic violence, 1,771 cases of dowry deaths, 4,967 rape cases, 25,083 cases of sexual assaults and 2,216 cases of stalking. Of the total cases lodged at various police stations, the trial proceedings have been reported in as many as 40 per cent of the cases. Confirming that the helpline was soon going to launch its first telephone-based application, Ms Faruqui said this would be the first such App which can be operated without any Internet connection. The application has been developed by the Indraprastha Institute of Technology’s Pushpendra Singh and Shradha Jain. Once the message is transmitted to the helpline, it would automatically display the time and location of the caller. Ms Faruqui said: “Our priority will be to send any possible help to the caller within two to three minutes. We will immediately contact the nearby PCR vans, ambulances or mobile vans of the Delhi Commission for Women so that any of these provides the emergency help to the caller at the earliest.” The helpline head said the application would be launched after getting a static IP address. (Asian Age 10/12/14)

12. 38% of women killed are by partners: WHO (8)

NEW DELHI: Over one-third of murdered women across the world were killed by their male partners, a recent report by World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed, indicating how women face greater threat to their lives from their trusted ones. “When women are killed, it is often their partner who is responsible. In 2013, WHO and others estimated that as many as 38% of female homicides globally were committed by male partners while the corresponding figure for men was 6%,” said the first ever Global Status Report on Violence Prevention released on Thursday. Highlighting how murder (homicide) is a bigger problem across countries, it said world over at least 4.75 lakh murders were reported in 2012. About 60% of these victims were males aged between 15 and 44 years, which is the most productive phase of life. The report says homicide is the third leading cause of death for males in this age group. This status report has been prepared after collecting data from 133 countries, covering 6.1 billion people and representing 88% of the world’s population. The compilation of global data also shows that approximately one in every two homicides is committed with a firearm, and one in four with a sharp instrument such as a knife, although the mechanism of homicide varies markedly across regions. However, it has also found how between 2000 and 2012 homicide rates are estimated to have declined by over 16% globally. It’s higher in the case of high-income countries, but in low and middle income countries the decline is less. (Times of India 12/12/14)

13. Govt drops plan to amend Dowry Act (8)

NEW DELHI: The Dowry Act in its present form is here to stay for now. The government on Friday said it had dropped amendments to the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 proposed by the National Commission for Women (NCW). “The NCW had recommended certain amendments in Dowry Prohibition Act. However, the ministry has taken a considered view on the matter and decided to drop the amendment proposed by NCW in the present form after taking into account the comments of the high level committee on the status of women and the ministry of home affairs,” women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi said in Lok Sabha. The move has been met with some relief by women’s rights activists who feared weakening of the law following a critical Supreme Court order. “I feel it is good that the government has decided not to dilute the law,” Ranjana Kumari from the Centre for Social Research said. Among the amendments that were planned included widening the definition of the word dowry and including penalty provisions for misuse of the act. In a recent order, the Supreme Court had said Section 498A had “dubious place of pride amongst the provisions that are used as weapons rather than shield by disgruntled wives”.On November 23, 2014, the Supreme Court ruled if a woman’s complaint accusing her husband and in-laws of cruelty under the dreaded Section 498A of Indian Penal Code turns out to be false, then the man is entitled to divorce. The bench quoted “Crime in India 2012 Statistics” published by National Crime Records Bureau to say that nearly 2 lakh people were arrested in India in 2012 under Section 498A, which was 9.4% more than in 2011. Among the other amendments that were proposed were a provision for separate penalties for giving and taking of dowry and penalties for non-maintenance of lists of gifts received at the time of marriage. There are reports of misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code by women to harass their husband and in-laws. (TOI illustration) There has been significant increase in the number of dowry-related cases in the last decade including Dowry Prohibition Act cases (300% increase), 498A cases (135% increase) and a 30% increase in the number of dowry deaths. All of these three rates are substantially higher than the rate of increase of all cognizable cases on average, which was 21%.Dowry-related cases accounted for nearly half of the increase in crimes against women between 2003 and 2013. (Times of India 13/12/14)

14. Harassed at home, over 79,000 women in Delhi dialled 181 (8)

New Delhi: The Capital has a notorious record on women safety in public places. But an analysis of the distress calls made to a government helpline reveals that they face harassment and violence inside their homes too. The 181 helpline for women— set up and being run by the Delhi government since 2012 after the December 16 gang rape has received as many as 8,51,455 complaints since its inception. An analysis of the calls to the helpline shows that 79,782 women reported matters related to domestic violence —most of them sexual in nature. Khadijah Faruqui, a lawyer and activist who heads the helpline service, said the government is now planning to add new safety features to the helpline including a GPS location tracking facility to ensure they can connect with the callers smoothly. The helpline received a total of 8,51,455 distress calls and 6,66,684 cases have been registered under various heads against these calls. “We need to strengthen the existing facility of 181 which is why we have chalked out a comprehensive plan, including a mobile app facility, which will help women to reach out to us,” said Faruqui. According to officials, though calls related to sexual assault are also substantial in number, the helpline has given a platform to those facing violence inside their homes. Sources said the Delhi government has also decided to allocate more funds for 181 which has been facing a fund crunch. “Matrimonial rape has emerged as a big concern as a number of calls received by us are related to that. Sexual violence inside homes is a cause for worry and we have tried our best to counsel the women and have helped them file complaints,” Faruqui said. Besides managing serious complaints like sexual harassment, attempt to rape, stalking, obscene calls, domestic violence or kidnapping, the helpline educates women about their rights and laws. The team led by Faruqui has 16 members, including four IT experts. “Nearly 12% of the matters are related to obscene calls and 26% are about domestic violence. Other calls that we receive are related to stalking, sexual harassment, acid attack, kidnapping and abduction,” said a senior Delhi government official. (Hindustan Times 15/12/14)

15. 5 Lakh Girl Children Will be ‘Missing’ by 2021: Activists (8)

CHENNAI: Decreasing female sex ratio may result in five lakh girl children ‘missing’ by the year 2021, warned activists, calling for a closer monitoring of the situation. Participating in a protest organised by Campaign Against Sex Selective Abortion (CASSA) on Tuesday to raise awareness on the worsening child sex ratio in the country, activists said that because of the misuse of pre-natal diagnostics techniques for sex determination 53,158 girl children between 0-6 years went missing in 2011. The numbers went up from the previous year, which reveals the lack of monitoring, they alleged. There were about 4,000 scanning centres in Tamil Nadu in 2010 under scrutiny. As many as 28,458 girl foetuses were aborted in 2011. The number of such scan centres went up to 5,000 in the year 2014. The implementation of Pre-consumption and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Act has also been poor, they said. “For the past 10 years, the ratio of men and women  has been 1000:905, which has been declining continuously through the years. If this continues, it will become less than 900 in the year 2021,” said V Vasanthi Devi, former chairperson of Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women. National Family Health Survey reveals that 24 per cent of married women are married before 18 years.  Young mothers, suffering from malnutrition cause infant mortality like what happened in Dharmapuri. Poor implementation of laws by Social Welfare Department and Health Department is also a reason for these deaths, CASSA said.  “Government must take necessary actions to create awareness among the people about this,” said R Senthil, advocate and member of CASSA. (New Indian Express 18/12/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

16. Nobel prize to Satyarthi raises hopes: Working children (14)

New Delhi: A federation of street and working children Wednesday said Nobel Peace Prize to activist Kailash Satyarthi has raised hopes for over 40 million children, who live on streets across India. “Satyarthi’s feat seem to have raised hopes for over 40 million children, who dwell on streets across India, but the question of freedom from child labour continues to stares them in the face,” Badthe Kadam said in a statement. Badthe Kadam’s national secretary Chandani said: “We have already conveyed our wishes to Satyarthi uncle through our newspaper Balaknama. But the children of this organisation still await for the day India would give us our dignity back by ensuring protection from child labour.” (Business Standard 10/12/14)

17. Police averse to filing cases, allege child welfare officials (14)

VIJAYAWADA: The spurt in the number of cases of child abuse and violation of provisions under the Right to Education Act notwithstanding, the district police appear to be averse to filing cases against the violators. The issue has become a bone of contention among the police and the Women Development and Child Welfare (WD&CW) officials with the latter lamenting that there was no prompt action in spite of complaints. The police officials, however, maintained that investigations were on into the complaints that had been lodged. The developments assume significance in the light of a host of people-friendly measures launched by city police commissioner A.B. Venkateswara Rao including ‘FIR at your doorstep’. The Child Welfare department officials are complaining that some station house officers are reluctant to register the cases despite receiving complaints. They are citing the alleged sale of a five-day-old baby girl as an illustration of the police indifference. Though an Anganwadi teacher Sujatha lodged a complaint with the Nunna police that a woman Shaik Noorjahan sold the baby, no case has been registered yet. WD&CW officials, who traced the baby, took her back when the mother expressed her inability to take care of the baby. The Nunna police on their part wrote a letter asking the officials concerned to hand over the baby to Ms. Noorjahan. “Inquiries revealed that Ms. Noorjahan had four children and she sold two babies. How can the police ask us to hand over the infant to a woman who has sold her babies?” District Child Protection Officer Ch. Vijay Kumar questioned. In another case, a 14-year-old girl lodged a complaint with Patamata police a month ago alleging that her employer tonsured and subjected her to cruelty. But, the police did not register the case till date. When contacted, Central Zone Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) K. Lavanya Lakshmi said the police are inquiring into the complaints. She evaded a reply when asked why cases were not registered in spite of complaints being filed. State Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Sumitra and Krishna District Child Welfare Committee (CWC) Chairman B. Nagesh Rao asked the police officers to take action against the SHOs who were not responding to child abuse and child rights violation cases. (The Hindu 12/12/14)

18. Child labour should go into pages of history: Satyarthi (14)

New Delhi: Making an emphatic appeal to “globalise compassion” and turn it into a “mass movement”, 2014 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi today said that he wants child labour to go into the “pages of history”.Satyarthi, who returned to India today, also pitched for the passage of the pending legislation against child labour, saying that history “won’t forgive” the legislators if the Bill does not get passed. “I want to make an earnest appeal to all the Parliamentarians, and also to other leaders to facilitate the passage of the key legislation failing which history and children of India won’t forgive them,” Satyarthi said. “Gandhiji turned truth, non-violence and peace into a mass movement. My appeal is to turn compassion into a mass movement. Let us globalise compassion,” the Nobel laureate added. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment (CLPRA) Bill which, once passed, will prohibit employment of children below 14 years in any occupation, bringing the law in consistency with the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009. Earlier, Satyarthi accompanied by his wife Sumedha, visited Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial at Rajghat where they paid homage to the father of the nation. 60-year-old Satyarthi, an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi said that he could “visualise Gandhi walking towards the stage” to receive the award while he was sitting at the podium at the nobel ceremony in Oslo. “When I was sitting at the podium, I was remembering him (Gandhiji) every single moment. I could visualise him walking towards the stage to receive the award,” said an emotional Satyarthi. On being asked how he would spend the prize money, Satyarthi said that he had previously “never seen” that much money in his life, quickly adding that he would spend “every single penny” for the cause of children in India and globally. “I have never seen or touched that amount of money in my life before. But I can assure you that every single penny will go to the cause of children in my country and globally. The money won’t even go to my own NGO,” he said. After landing in India in the wee hours today, Satyarthi tweeted, “Jai Hind. No words to express my feelings” adding “Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Heartfelt welcome home by fellow Indians”.Satyarthi, who jointly received the award along with Pakistani teenage education activist Malala Yousufzai, said that “sustainable peace” between India and Pakistan could only result from more mutual cooperation. “I am not a politician but as far as I understand more people to people contact, mutual cooperation is required for any kind of sustainable peace between the two countries,” he said. Satyarthi’s image of comforting Malala, when she broke down after seeing her blood-splattered clothes she was wearing the day she was attacked by the Taliban, at an exhibition in Oslo, was splashed by the media across the world. Expressing his gratitude to India’s “vibrant democracy and the judiciary”, Satyarthi said that change was “knocking a the door” which needs to be acted upon. “I am grateful to India’s vibrant democracy and the judicial system without which I could not have achieved anything. But at the same time I would like to say that change, hope, progress is knocking at the door. We need to act now,” the crusader against child labour said. Satyarthi said that the award has increased the weight of “moral responsibility” on his shoulders and that his job wouldn’t be complete till the day a “single child is enslaved”.The son of a police officer, hailing from Madhya Pradesh, Satyarthi also spoke about few “emotional moments” and how his friends and family called him “crazy” when he left his job as an engineer to join activism. “There were emotional moments in my family when I left my engineering job and joined activism. My friends said that I am working for a non-issue and they called me crazy,” the father of two said. Satyarthi’s NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement) prides itself on liberating over 80,000 children from bonded labour in factories and workshops across India. Awarding the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize on Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Committee said that “Satyarthi and Yousafzai are precisely the people whom Alfred Nobel in his will calls ‘champions of peace’”.   (Deccan Herald 14/12/14)

19. Police and NGO rescue 83 minors brought from Bihar (14)

Mumbai: The Mumbai Government Railway Police (GRP), along with Pratham NGO, a child rights organisation on Monday morning rescued 83 minor boys who were brought in from the state of Bihar to be pushed into child labour in the city’s slums. Most of them are from Motihari, Champaran district in Bihar. Acting on a tip-off received by the NGO, a team of police officials and men from the Kurla GRP rescued these children after they got down at the LTT from the Jansadharan Express from Bihar. The boys are said to be in the age group of 10 to 16 years. There were more than 100 minor boys who were detained at LTT, but as their parents accompanied them they were let off. The rest of the 83 boys did not have their parents with them and so they will be sent to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). These boys will be allowed to go if their parents show up at the CWC. The rest of them will be sent to a children’s home at Mankhurd or Dongri. Programme manager for Pratham, Sharmishta Khandagale said, “Most of these children are made to work in small factory units and small hotels in areas like Govandi, Dharavi, Kurla, Madanpura and Byculla.” When asked if the ones who are handed over to parents are sent back by them, Ms Khandagale said, “It may be happening, but we can’t be certain about that. As of now, the parents were cooking up stories like they were brought here for studies.” The Kurla GRP has detained 38 people who were accompanying these children, but they haven’t been booked yet. There were others who had showed up at the LTT, but managed to escape following the raid. An official from the Kurla GRP said, “We have registered a case under Section 32 (production before committee by a police officer) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000. We will hand them over to the CWC. We couldn’t register a case of child labour as they were not yet pushed into labour work.” (Asian Age 16/12/14)

20. 19 children rescued at Malpe harbor (14)

UDUPI: Nineteen child labourers, nine of them girls, were rescued from the Malpe fisheries harbour in a joint operation conducted by the Departments of Labour, Women and Child Welfare, Public Instruction, and Social Welfare, here on Tuesday. A release here said the operation was conducted after receiving a complaint that children were employed at the harbour. Gracy Gonsalves, Joint Director of Women and Child Welfare, said all 19 children were produced before the Child Welfare Committee. The girls were shifted to the Children’s (Girls) Home at Nittur here, while the boys were shifted to the Spoorthi Dhama at Koteshwara, she said. (The Hindu 18/12/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

21. Insecurities among minorities (7)

Dominic Emmanuel: Knowing fully well the track record of the Sangh Parivar — be it the RSS, VHP or the Bajrang Dal — the vitriolic statement by Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, a Union minister, about “Ram-zaadon” (Ram’s children) and “Haraamzadon” (illegitimate children) is certainly not the last uttered against the minorities. Though she fired these derogatory remarks during an election rally, one can’t accept that such criminal declarations serve purely as a dish on the election menu. They are to be seen in the larger context of a mindset gone wrong horribly, courtesy the Hindutva ideology. Undoubtedly, the majority vote, which the Bharatiya Janata Party, received in the 2014 general elections, and the hunger to capture more states has emboldened hatemongers to have a go at the minorities, particularly Muslims and Christians. Whether it is the issue of making the Bhagavad Gita India’s “national scripture, the allegation of money from beef exports being pumped into terrorism, promoting Sanskrit as the third official language, preventing distribution of chocolates by Santa Claus in schools, “love jihad”, or rewriting history in a way that only glorifies Hindu culture, in just six months of the BJP coming to power, there seems no end to the ways the minorities in India are being marginalised and intimidated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence over these issues, who during the election rallies thundered like a lion and told huge crowds at Madison Square Garden and in Sydney about the unity and inclusiveness of India — “Sabkasaath, sabkavikas” — is deafening. Recently, when someone remarked that the BJP is being guided by the RSS in pushing its Hindutva agenda, home minister Rajnath Singh quipped: “RSS is not an external force. I am from the RSS. The Prime Minister himself is a RSS volunteer. We are (RSS members) from childhood and will remain till we are alive. When we ourselves are from the RSS, then what influence will it have to wield?” Someone needs to remind Messrs Modi and Singh that the oath they took in the foreground of Rashtrapati Bhavan was to the Constitution of India and not by the RSS’ book of rules. During his speech in the Central Hall of Parliament, before the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Modi spoke about Parliament as the “temple of democracy”. We keep hearing statements from the likes of Goa minister Deepak Dhavlikar that “Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be able to make India a Hindu rashtra (nation) in the future if he got unstinted and full support and backing from ‘all of us’”. As if the 31 per cent (of the total votes cast in general elections) was not a vote for development but for a Hindu rashtra. Such people seem deaf to what Fali S. Nariman, the noted jurist, said during the seventh annual National Commission for Minorities (NCM) lecture, when he said: “We have been hearing… almost on a daily basis the tirade by one or more individuals or groups against one or another section of citizens who belong to a religious minority. The criticism has been that the majority government at the Centre has done nothing to stop this tirade. I agree”. He further added: “Those who indulge in hate speech must be prevented by court processes initiated at the instance of the commission (NCM) because that is the body that represents minorities in India… they must be proceeded against and the proceeding must be widely publicised… only then the confidence of the minorities in the NCM will get restored”. A criminal case should be initiated against Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti for “wanton vilification” of minorities, under section 153 (A) of the IPC. My concern is not just Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s utterances but the mindset of the resurgent Hindutva votaries clamouring for the creation of “Hindu rashtra”. As an idea this was promoted by ideologues like Golwalkar and Savarkar, who allegedly praised Hitler for his “nationalism” and for “creating a purity of race and culture in Germany” (cf. We or Our Nationhood Defined). Such mindset poses a threat to all minorities — women, dalits, and all linguistic, cultural or religious minorities — for their clear agenda is to eliminate all those who are different, even in the slightest way. They believe in “one nation, one people, one culture”. The Christian minority faces the greatest threat as, unlike the Sikhs and Muslims, who are concentrated in certain places, Christians are spread thinly all over. Nuns and pastors working in remote areas fear for their lives and their institutions. The authorities of Christian missionary schools are harassed, among other things, to instal statues of goddess Saraswati or asked not to sing hymns. A number of cases have been reported of pastors being beaten up for holding prayer services, even in places like Delhi (Kalkaji), in Greater Noida last September, leave alone in far-flung areas of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. And now churches are being attacked, the latest being the one on St. Sebastian Church in Dilshad Garden and last Saturday in Jasola, both in Delhi. The whispers within the community are rising, as is the fear. Mr Modi is not just the PM of Hindus. He is the PM of India. (Deccan Chronicle 10/12/14)

22. BJP demonising 15 pc minorities to scare 85 pc Indians, says Nitish Kumar (7)

Slamming BJP for pursuing what he charged was a brand of “communal politics”, former Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said that the saffron party was trying to frighten 85 per cent of the people of India by demonising 15 per cent of the minority population. The JD(U) leader, whose party is being partnered by RJD in Bihar, also said that the tie-up with the Lalu Yadav-led outfit would not change his “principles of good governance”. Speaking on ‘Agenda Aaj Tak’, Kumar alluded to several controversial statements made by BJP leaders and the row over alleged forced conversions in Agra and said that the Narendra Modi government was working on the ground to divide society while talking up its development agenda in public. “They (BJP) talk about their strength. What kind of strength is this that you frighten about 85 per cent of the people (Hindus) by raising the bogey of 15 per cent of minorities? “They talk outwardly of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’ but are working on ground to divide society,” he said. Kumar said there is no difference between RSS and BJP in its current “extremist” avatar, adding that the former was “marginalised” during the “moderate” Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s term as prime minister. Kumar had been a Cabinet minister in the Vajpayee government. Kumar, who had resigned as Bihar Chief Minister following his party’s rout in Lok Sabha elections, said that the proposed merger of Janata Parivar offshoots was an attempt to strengthen the opposition. If the new outfit does well, then parties from other states can also join them, he added. Meanwhile, admitting that people had preferred Modi’s agenda over his in the Lok Sabha elections, Kumar, however, said that the “manufactured aura” around the Modi government remains but will fade away in time. The media and others will then think about the massive spending and the advertisement blitzkrieg which had driven BJP’s campaign for Lok Sabha polls. JD(U) had parted ways with BJP over Modi’s elevation as the NDA’s prime ministerial candidate. (Indian Express 13/12/14)

23. AP Minorities Commission Favours Fast-track Courts (7)

HYDERABAD: In order to address several issues concerning minorities in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Andhra Pradesh Minorities Commission has formulated several expert committees and a document of recommendations would be prepared and submitted to both the State governments, announced Abid Rasool Khan, Chairman, State Minorities Commission. The announcement was made following a round-table meet held on Saturday with the representatives of various non-governmental organisations. The commission has listed the need for fast-track courts for dealing with crime ag ainst women and children, the issue of talaq and khula (an instrument of separation between couple), the issue of money lenders, and the much controversial issue of uniform civil code (UCC) as major issues that need to be addressed immediately. Speaking to mediapersons, Rasool Khan said, “When the issue of Uniform Civil Code is being discussed at the national level, we should not stay behind in putting forward our views, express our concerns and safeguard our rights.” As many as 40 cases relating to crime against persons from minority communities were reported with the commission in the last 15 months. It includes 14 incidence of rape, four murders, 10 dowry harassment cases, 18 harassment cases involving in-laws, 2 cases of property rights violation, and two suicides where in victims were from minority communities, said Khan. (New Indian Exprerss 14/12/14)

24. Skill development scheme for 100% jobs for minorities: Govt (7)

New Delhi: A special skill development programme for minorities has been launched by the government with an aim to provide jobs to all of them who undergo it, Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla said the skill development training programme of Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills (MANAS) was launched on pilot basis on the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. “Five Memorandum of Understanding were signed by MANAS and our aim is to provide 100 percent jobs to those who enroll in it,” she said during Question Hour. Replying to a supplementary, Heptulla said a community is declared minority on the basis of its economic status and there is no other benchmark like a particular percentage of population under which such status is accorded. She said of the 76 recommendations of Sachar Committee, which gave various suggestions for welfare of minority communities, 73 have been accepted by the government. Heptulla said the evaluation committee headed by Amitabh Kundu, which was set up to verify the implementation of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee, has submitted its final report. “We are studying the Kundu Committee report and will see whether there are any short comings in the implementation process,” she said. The Minister said government is also trying to bring parity between scholarships given to minorities and SCs and STs and has requested the Finance Ministry to convert minority related scholarships as “demand driven”. (Zee News 17/12/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

25. Hindu outfits accused of converting Muslims in Agra (7)

LUCKNOW: A major row has erupted over the alleged conversion of over 350 Muslims to Hinduism in Agra by Hindu right wing organisations Bajrang Dal and Dharm Jagran Manch. The two organisations are also being accused of luring people with the promise of monetary benefits. The conversion is said to have taken place on Monday at Madhunagar slum area in Agra where the two Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliates organised a “Purkhon ki ghar vapsi” (homecoming for ancestors) programme where around 60 Muslim families were converted amid chanting of hymns. The organisers now plan to hold a month-long training session for these “converts” on Hindu rituals and culture. Sources say the “converts,” mostly hailing from Bihar and West Bengal, were promised BPL and Aadhaar cards, besides free housing plots. But programme coordinator Ajju Chauhan later claimed the conversion was voluntary. However, a couple of people later told mediapersons that the organisers had promised monetary and other benefits under government-sponsored schemes. “We will look into the entire programme and order a detailed probe if needed,” said Samajwadi Party spokesperson Rajender Choudhary. Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Mayawati said the incident was the handiwork of communal forces who were trying to vitiate the peace in the State. She demanded strict action against such organisations. On the other hand, BJP MP Vinay Katiyar said there should be no objection to the programme as those who converted were originally Hindus and it was like homecoming for them. (The Hindu 10/12/14)

26. Agra conversion row: Oppn uproar continues in Parliament (7)

New Delhi: Uproar continued in the Lok Sabha on Thursday with almost all opposition parties demanding the suspension of the question hour and a discussion on the Agra “conversions”.As soon as the house met for the day, members of the Congress, Trinamool Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and CPI-M trooped near the speaker’s podium, and also raised slogans like “Modi sarkaar hosh mein aao” (Wake up, Modi government) and “Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai”.Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge asked Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to allow a discussion on the issue. “You have full powers to suspend the question hour. The government has already agreed to a discussion, kindly allow us,” he said. Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav said that the matter should be taken “seriously”.”Otherwise, there might be riots,” he said. Nearly 300 members of some 60 Muslim families living in a slum on Agra’s outskirts reportedly embraced Hinduism on Monday. A day later the families claimed they were tricked into conversion in an event couched as ‘homecoming ceremony’. Opposition members had raised the issue in both houses of Parliament on Wednesday as well, while Islamic organisations took to the streets demanding protection to vulnerable members of the community. (Hindustan Times 11/12/14)

27. ‘Forced’ conversion irks Muslim groups (7)

MUMBAI: Outraged at the alleged forced conversions of over 200 Muslims in Agra to Hinduism and many more ghar vapsi (homecoming) ceremonies of scores of Muslims and Christians lined up by RSS-affiliates, Muslim groups in the city have condemned the move. They have asked the Akhilesh Yadav-led government in Uttar Pradesh to crack down on forces trying to “inflame communal passions in the name of conversions”.A section of senior clerics, after discussing the issue, has decided to depute a delegation to Agra to probe the circumstances in which over 50 poor Bengali Muslim families converted to Hinduism. “This is a serious matter and we don’t want to escalate the crisis but at the same time condemn the forcible conversions. In future, the UP government must take appropriate action to prevent such highly communalized initiatives by hardline Hindutva bodies,” said senior cleric Maulana Khalilur Rahman Noorie, general secretary, Association of Imams. Many saw this as part of the BJP-mandated effort to polarize Indian society. “While PM Narendra Modi says he wants to focus on development and even announced moratorium on communal issues for 10 years in his Independence Day speech, other affiliates of the Sangh Parivar are busy raking up controversial issues. The forcible conversion may further polarize Indian society, and the PM should rein in such forces engaged in weakening social harmony,” said former MLA Bashir Patel. Maulana Burhanuddin Qasmi, director of Markazul Maarif, a socio-cultural research organization, has sent a letter to the Uttar Pradesh chief minister. “I have requested him to act firmly against the forces bent upon disrupting peace and harmony. Religion is a matter of choice and the Constitution grants Indian citizens the right to preach and practise their religions peacefully. Forcing someone to convert or luring a person to change his/her religion is a crime and must be dealt with firmly,” said Qasmi. (Times of India 14/12/14)

28. In Bulandshahr, no marriage lawns for Muslims (7)

Lucknow: Marriage lawn owners in Bulandshahr won’t let Muslims hold any functions on their properties because they “refuse to pay” and “leave the venue dirty”. Sandeep Kansal, who heads the marriage lawn union in Bulandshahr, has alleged that Muslims “issue threats” using BSP MLA Mohammad Aleem Khan’s name. “We are filtering the customers. For Muslims, we are avoiding bookings because of hooliganism and the fact that they leave the venue dirty. During their functions, there is over-crowding. Most of them refuse to pay and issue threats using MLA Aleem’s name,” Kansal claimed, adding that at least 5,000 people turn up for the functions, leading to traffic jams. Aleem, however, said he was unaware of any such issue. He added that if Muslims in Bulandshahr are denied bookings, he will get marriage lawns constructed for them. “I am not aware about any such development. No marriage lawn owner has brought this to my notice so far. Over-crowding by Muslims during functions is not fair. But if such thing (Muslims being turned down) happens, I will get 10 marriage lawns built for them,” Aleem told The Indian Express. The issue was first reported from Khurja. “I made six bookings and lost my entire year’s earnings. At least 500 plates were broken and mattresses were burnt. If you ask them for compensation, they threaten us,” R K Lala, president of the marriage lawn owners’ association in Khurja, claimed. Lala, who owns three marriage lawns in the area, said their decision was driven by business and not politics. In Bulandshahr, there are more than 50 marriage lawns. “Recently at one function, taps worth Rs 8,000 were stolen, window panes were broken and greenery was destroyed at my lawn,” Kansal claimed. He also alleged that some people slaughter animals in the lawns. Bulandshahr district magistrate B Chandrakala remained unavailable for comments. (Indian Express 16/12/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

29. Chhattisgarh: Hindutva targeting of Christians over conversions really about land? (7)

Raipur: Away from national glare, a silent religious conquest is taking shape in tribal Chhattisgarh. After the new dispensation took charge at the Centre, the ongoing tussle between the forces of Hindutva and Christians is going decidedly in favour of the former. Here are a few instances of how things have started changing in the state, particularly in its southern region. Since the BJP stormed to power at the Centre, Christians in southern Chhattisgarh are facing AFPSince the BJP stormed to power at the Centre, Christians in southern Chhattisgarh are reportedly facing a tough time. AFP * A priest appeared before the media in Jagdalpur in the company of local Vishwa Hindu Parishad leaders a month ago and announced the Church’s decision to display pictures of the Hindu Goddess Saraswati in their schools. He also said the principals and vice-principals would be called acharya and up-acharya henceforth instead of ‘father’. * In the Bastar region, the VHP has objected to the distribution of sweets by Santa Claus among people during Christmas. It has instructed the community to replace sweets with ‘prasad’. * Around the time the BJP government took control at the Centre, five villages in Bastar, through their gram sabhas, passed orders prohibiting non-Hindus from practicing religious activities and prayers in their villages. Members of the Christian community allege that the VHP provoked people to pass the order and the state government is protecting them. * “People are holding mahapanchayats in other parts of the state for the last six months. Some of them are issuing circulars against the missionaries. Around 52 members of the Christian community have been attacked by the VHP activists in recent months,” Arun Pannalal, general secretary of Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF), has told the media. The Bastar incident last month was only a symptom of the communal problem affecting the state. …..(Firstpost 10/12/14)

30. 39 Christians re-converted to Hinduism in Bastar: BJP MP (7)

BASTAR: As many as 39 tribal Christians were re-converted to Hinduism in Bastar in October this year, BJP MP Dinesh Kashyap, who claims to have attended the VHP-Bajrang Dal event in Madhota village, said on Saturday. Bastar SP Ajay Yadav said an argument had taken place between the two groups on October 25. “But till now no complaint has been registered by any of the tribals who were re-converted,” he said. Kashyap, who is the Bastar MP, said that none of the conversions had been forced. (Times of India 14/12/14)

31. Catholic Forum miffed at Good Governance Day circular (7)

MANGALURU: The Catholic Secular Forum (CSF), an NGO, has expressed shock over Union HRD ministry’s directive to schools to celebrate the birthdays of former Prime Minister AB Vajpayee and Hindu Mahasabha leader MM Malviya by observing December 25 as ‘Good Governance Day’. Joseph Dias, general secretary of CSF said India is a secular country and if no such activities are held on the religious holidays of any other faith, then Christians should not be discriminated against. In a letter written to UNION HRD Minister Smriti Irani, the forum took strong exception to this move and requested the minister’s intervention. He observed that In Pune, an umbrella organization called the National Hindu Movement has targeted the New Year Celebrations, saying it is the first step to converting to Christianity and elsewhere in the country there are reconversion programmes being organized on Christmas day, which has hurt the sentiments of Indian Christians. Such activities, more importantly, will shatter India’s image in the developed world, carefully built by PM Modi and take India down the path that countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, etc are going through,” he warned. Regarding the minister’s clarification that the essay contest was only online and voluntary, Dias said it was only after the furore. The circular was clear,” he said. (Times of India 15/12/14)

32. Christians urge CM to stop Aligarh conversion prog (7)

Lucknow: Leading a strong opposition against the proposed conversion in Aligarh by Hindu outfits on December 25, a delegation of the All India Christian Council (AICC) met chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on Monday and urged him to stop the programme. The CM assured them that no activity stoking communal hatred would be allowed. The AICC, along with Muslim and Hindu leaders, condemned religious conversions in west UP and said the PM should intervene in the matter and uphold the religious freedom of citizens given in the Constitution. “There should be no violence on December 25 or compulsive conversions in any part of the country. This is anti-Constitution and anti-religious freedom,” said AICC president Rev Joseph D’Souza. The AICC also demand a central inquiry into the reasons behind such conversions. “It is important to know who these converted people are and from which strata to where are they being converted? If they are being converted form Dalit and they still remain scheduled castes in the new conversion, what good are these conversions for the poor then,” asked Dalit leader Pankaj Prasoonn. Religious leader Sallahuddin Shibu said, “The poor Muslims and Christians have been lured to convert under the obligation to get ration cards. If the PM talks about one India and one Constitution, then his inaction on the issue tarnishes his image.” When asked about alleged Kushinagar incident where five Hindu families were converted to Christianity, council’s national coordinator Rev Kumar Swamy feigned ignorance. But he said, “Our stand towards any forceful conversion remains the same. It is only when Hindus, especially Dalits, come to us for conversion, then as a help to them we accept the request. Any forced conversion to and fro is against an individual’s religious freedom in India.” UP Masihi Association also flayed the conversion programmes calling them “a real threat to the unity and secular fabric of India, which should be nipped in the bud”. (Times of India 16/12/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

33. Efforts on to ensure night shelters for all: Naidu (13)

New Delhi: The central government is making efforts to ensure night shelters for all homeless people, specially those who have migrated to urban areas in search of work, Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said Wednesday. “The urban development ministry held a meeting in November with all state chief secretaries in the matter,” he informed the Lok Sabha during question hour. Naidu said that though providing shelters is the prerogative of the state governments, the central government stepped in after directions from the Supreme Court for it. “We support the scheme to have night shelters as part of the National Urban Livelihood Mission,” he said. The central government is also funding this scheme, the minister said, adding that efforts have also been made to rope in some NGOs and government land is being leased out for making such shelters. He said that migration from rural to urban areas is taking place in the country on a large scale as health and education facilities are unavailable in villages. Naidu also said that the government has firmed up a new housing plan which will be presented before the cabinet soon. (Business Standard 10/12/14)

34. As number of seafaring migrants surges, UN calls for better global protection efforts (13)

New York, Dec 11 (IBNS) Amid record high numbers of global migrant arrivals by sea, the international community is steadily losing focus on saving lives and intensifying its efforts to deny foreigners access to asylum, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has warned ahead of a Geneva-based forum devoted to protecting sea-bound migrants. This is a mistake, and precisely the wrong reaction for an era in which record numbers of people are fleeing wars, Antnio Guterres, the UNs High Commissioner for Refugees, said on Wednesdayin a press release. Security and immigration management are concerns for any country, but policies must be designed in a way that human lives do not end up becoming collateral damage. According to estimates from coastal authorities and data points collected by the UN, at least 348,000 people have risked seafaring journeys worldwide since the beginning of 2014 as they flee conflicts and poverty. Europe, facing conflicts to its south in Libya, east in Ukraine, and southeast in Syria and Iraq, is currently seeing the largest number of sea arrivals with 207,000 people crossing the Mediterranean to reach its shores almost three times the previous known high of about 70,000, registered in 2011. However, the UN agency noted, there are at least three other major sea routes in use on Wednesdayboth by migrants seeking better economic opportunities and asylum seekers escaping conflict. In the Horn of Africa, some 82,000 people crossed the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea between1 Januaryand the end of November, leaving Ethiopia and Somalia for countries in the Arabian Peninsula. In Southeast Asia, meanwhile, an estimated 54,000 people have undertaken sea crossings, departing Bangladesh or Myanmar and heading to Thailand, Malaysia, or Indonesia. And, in the Caribbean, 2014 has seen almost 5,000 people take to boats as they escape the clutches of poverty and explore asylum options in the neighbouring countries. In addition to the difficulties of these journeys which often stretch across multiple borders and over thousands of kilometres, many of those migrating along these maritime corridors succumb to trafficking and smuggling networks coordinated by international organized crime. As the flow of migrants continues to swell, the UN said, many governments were finding themselves unable to either stem the flow or stop people dying along the journey. You cant stop a person who is fleeing for their life by deterrence, without escalating the dangers even more, Guterres continued. The real causes have to be addressed, and this means looking at why people are fleeing, what prevents them from seeking asylum by safer means, and what can be done to crack down on the criminal networks who prosper from this, while at the same time protecting their victi It also means having proper systems to deal with arrivals and distinguish real refugees from those who are note, he said. Guterres words come as UN officials from its humanitarian and human rights agencies prepare to gather at UNHCRs 2014 High Commissioners Dialogue in Geneva an informal policy discussion forum whose focus this year is Protection at Sea. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who was also in attendance at the UNHCR event, similarly cautioned that as wealthy nations continue to guard themselves from migrant arrivals and asylum seekers, they also risk transforming into xenophobic gated communities. Unilateral attempts to close borders are almost certainly futile, and the response cannot just lie in aggressive, and often counterproductive, anti-smuggling plans, affirmed Zeid in a press release. When migrants are left to drift for weeks without access to food and water; when ships deliberately refuse to rescue migrants in distress; when children in search of family reunification are detained indefinitely, denied education and care, or returned to perilous situations these are grave human rights violations. The UN rights chief pointed out that policies that seek to stamp out migration do not decrease the numbers of would-be migrants but, instead, exacerbate the dangers they endure creating zones of lawlessness and impunity. As a result, he continued, nations were encouraged to establish accessible corridors for legal migration and discourage the current siege mentality fanned by a growing number of populist politicians and leaders. Ultimately, unless they can access safe and regular migration channels, desperate people may continue to brave the perils of the sea in search of protection, opportunity and hope. In their place, we would probably do the same. And perhaps only this recognition of our common humanity can guide us to make the right choices in response, he concluded. (Sify News 13/12/14)

35. Refugees from neighbouring countries to be granted a 5 year long term visa (13)

NEW DELHI: Minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh seeking refuge in India will be granted a five-year long term visa (LTV) instead of a one-year visa, based on recommendation of the state government or UT administration. Besides, powers have been delegated to the FRRO/FRO to extend a short-term visa for this category of foreign nationals for a period of six months. A time-line of one month for FRRO and FRO and 21 days for the state government and union territory administration has been fixed for processing LTV applications. The sops promise to bring relief to minority nationals from neighbouring countries, mostly Hindus and Sikhs, seeking refuge in India on grounds of fear of religious persecution back home. Children of minority nationals from neighbouring countries, staying on long-term visa, can now take admission in schools, colleges, universities, technical and professional institutions without any specific permission from the state government or union territory administration, said a statement issued by the home ministry on Tuesday. Only an intimation is to be given in this regard to FRRO or FRO concerned. The state governments and UT have been empowered to grant permission to minority nationals from neighbouring countries staying on long-term visa to engage themselves in private jobs. State governments and UT administrations have now been empowered to grant an additional two places at any given point of time, apart from the place of stay, grant return visa for a maximum period of 90 days at a time and permission for change in mode of travel and port of exit in respect of minority nationals from neighbouring countries having a LTV or who have applied for the same. According to an estimate, about one lakh minority community refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan live in India. (Times of India 16/12/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

36. States Human Rights Commissions lack in transparency: NGO (1)

New Delhi: Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur are among six states which do not have dedicated websites for their Human Rights Commissions (HRCs) and most of the other states have inadequate compliance of suo-motu disclosures mandated under RTI Act, a report released by an NGO has claimed. According to a compilation released by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) on the occasion of Human Rights Day being observed globally today, besides J&K and Manipur, the HRCs in Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand and Sikkim also do not have their websites, making it difficult for people to register their grievances or to reach them. Interestingly, the link to Himachal Pradesh Human Rights Commission website–http://www.Himachal.Nic.In/hphrc– does not open-up, the CHRI said. The websites of Human Rights Commissions in Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana, Kerala and West Bengal lack on suo-motu disclosure as mandated under Section 4 of the RTI Act, it said adding that most of the contents on them are available in English only. Whereas, Bihar Human Rights Commission has bilingual website–English and Hindi–and Maharashtra’s portal is in English and Marathi, the report said. “Most States Human Rights Commissions do not have their websites. The content mentioned on them are not updated regularly. It is difficult for the common man to raise their grievances with them,” said Venkatesh Nayak, who works with the CHRI. The data also shows rise in number of RTI applications pending with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in past five years. There were as many as 865 RTI applications pending with the NHRC in 2008-09 which rose to 2,409 in 2012-13, it said. There were 1,454, 2,034 and 2,455 RTI applications pending with the NHRC in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively, the compilation said. (Business Standard 11/12/14)

37. Consumer forum can’t act on RTI cases’ (1)

CHENNAI: A consumer forum cannot decide whether there is negligence or deficiency in service on the part of public information officers (PIO) or other authorities under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, said the Tamil Nadu State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission. In an order last month, a bench comprising commission president Justice (retd) R Regupathi, judicial member J Jayaram and member P Bakiyavathi said the Supreme Court had said the Consumer Protection Act was in addition to the provisions of other law “unless there was a clear bar.” Whereas, the RTI Act had a provision which specifically said it was beyond the jurisdiction of courts. The matter relates to a petition filed by S Jeyaram who said that under the RTI Act, he had sought some information regarding Apollo Hospitals from the public information officer and deputy/under secretary of the health and family welfare department. As the PIO failed to furnish the details, he moved north Chennai district consumer disputes redressal forum. The forum rejected the petition stating the complaint was not maintainable. Jeyaram then filed an appeal in the state commission. He said that the relevant section of the Consumer Protection Act said: “The provisions of this act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.” As such, a person seeking information under the RTI Act could approach the consumer forum, he said In 2013, the national commission had said that a person seeking information under the RTI Act could not be considered as a consumer as according to the relevant provision of the RTI Act, he/she had the remedy of approaching the appellate authority. Also, the RTI Act provided PIOs with independent decision making authority to decide whether disclosure of information was in public interest, said the bench. Without being a consumer one could not seek remedy under the Consumer Protection Act, said the bench adding that after exhausting the options under the RTI Act, one could only approach the appellate forum for further reliefs and redressal of grievances. (Times of India 12/12/14)

38. RTI lessons help cops to understand cases better (1)

New Delhi: Lessons in handling Right to Information applications are doing good to Delhi policemen who are discarding frivolous pleas at initial stages itself with the help of a Delhi government consultant. “Many of the officials do not know that they can refuse to entertain a plea which uses more than 500 words,” said S C Agrawal, the RTI consultant who conducts lectures for officers and low-rung cops. Now, police officials have started counting wordage of the RTI pleas they get before getting down to answering them, he said. “Sub-inspectors and SHOs keep calling me on my phone for instant advice on how to go about dealing with applications,” he said. Agrawal, a qualified mechanical engineer, said from his interaction with police officers he came to know that RTI was being used mostly in dowry harassment or maintenance cases between estranged couples. “I have been telling police public information officers that they need not pass all information to the RTI applicants if it could harm the privacy of the ‘third party’,” he said. “My stress has been on educating policemen to invoke Section 11 of the RTI Act and seek the consent of the person about whom the RTI applicant has sought information. The affected party’s approval is needed to give out personal details,” he said. Section 11 for inviting comments of the ‘third party’ must be invoked within five days of receipt of Right to Information petition, and not in 30 days of receipt of RTI petition, as has been usually observed, he said.  Late transfer of a plea or seeking comments from the ‘third party’ can attract penalty-proceedings under Section 20 of RTI Act, he said. Agrawal, 64, who also holds the Guinness World Record for most number of published letters to the editor in newspapers, said while interacting with policemen he also found a tendency to deny information to RTI applicants in cases under investigation. “Due to lack of knowledge of the transparency law, policemen are denying information to even genuine applicants.” “Information can be withheld if its sharing impedes investigation but the policemen tend to block details even if the information is harmless and unlikely to influence the probe,” he said. He is also working on police department’s public information officers to avoid Right to Information communication that do not mention the dates of receipt of Right to Information petition. “Non-providing of date of receipt of RTI petition by the responding officer also results in filing of petitions in the Information Commission for alleged delay, while it may not be the case, thereby harming man-hours and money spent by all concerned including of Information Commissions, public-authorities and petitioners,” he said. (Deccan Herald 15/12/14)

39. Rs 2,000 crore Nirbhaya fund remains unspent (1)

New Delhi: It has been two years since the announcement of symbolic Nirbhaya Fund in wake of the December 16, 2012 gangrape, but apparently the allotted Rs 2,000 crore has not been spent at all, with the Central government seemingly undecided where the money could be utilised. There is ambiguity about any expenditure made by the government ,utilising the fund that was started in 2012 for the empowerment and security of women. Observers assert most of the Nirbhaya Fund has not been utilised, with ambitious plans like installation of GPS on public transportation, alarm buttons on mobiles, women’s helpline and one stop crisis centres staying mostly restricted to paper. The UPA-II government had sanctioned Rs1,000 crore for the fund in 2013 and another Rs 1,000 was added by the new NDA government in May this year. The fund was part of a series of reactionary measures by the government after the incident, in which it announced the fund for the safety and empowerment of women as tribute to the 23-year-old victim. An RTI last year, however, revealed that not a penny from the much-publicised Rs1,000-crore fund had been spent, even after a year. The director of the Centre for Social Research, Dr Ranjana Kumari, however, said that there has been no real clear roadmap of how the funds should be spent and there has been complete “ambiguity” about the projects on which the could be money used, if at all. “It seems the announcements were only for political gains. Women’s security was a political plank for all the major parties in the previous elections and many women perhaps voted for the new government for that reason.” Ms Kumari said that many of proposals by the women and child development ministry under then Nirbhaya Fund were either not approved or didn’t take off, and thus “technically” the money remains unused. “It is very distressing and a disappointment for all, in particular, for those who led the Nirbhaya movement.” The activist said the Union women and child development minister has not kept any communication or dialogue with the NGOs or with the civil society, so there has been no “clarity” on what the ministry has done with the fund. BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi, last week, also said that the Nirbhaya Fund hadn’t been utilised fully, and noted the Union government had sanctioned finances under the fund for installing CCTV cameras in important places, but the Delhi administration had failed to use the fund in the absence of an elected government. (Asian Age 17/12/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

40. Sanskrit won’t disqualify any child from taking Class X board: Centre (11)

NEW DELHI: Attempting to bury the controversy over mid-term switch to Sanskrit from German in Kendriya Vidyalayas, the Centre on Monday gave an undertaking to the Supreme Court that performance in Sanskrit would not disqualify any child from taking the optional Class X board examinations. The HRD ministry gave this undertaking after counsel for some parents, Reena Singh, told a bench of Justices A R Dave and Kurian Joseph that students and parents were in utter confusion after the Centre informed the court that there would be no examination for Sanskrit this year because of the mid-term switch. She said those students who had studied German in Class VI and VII and were due to appear for the German exam this year in Class VIII might find themselves disqualified for the Class X board examination, which requires the student to pass the language paper in all three classes. Since Class VIII students were forced to take up Sanskrit, for which there would be no examination, they would not qualify for the Class X board, Singh said. The bench asked attorney general Mukul Rohatgi to take instructions from the HRD ministry on the concerns raised by parents. Rohatgi said Class X board examination was optional now. But he added, “No student will be disqualified because of mid-stream introduction of Sanskrit, for which there will be no examination this year. The marks obtained by the student in Class VI and VII alone would be taken into consideration as far as Class X board is concerned.”  The AG also clarified that the decision to introduce Sanskrit was implemented and there was no going back on it. However, the bench asked Rohatgi to seek clarification on the concerns raised by parents and posted the matter for hearing on December 16.  The court wanted the KV Sangathan to consult the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) on this issue and inform the court about it. (Times of India 10/12/14)

41. 15,367 out-of-school children in Kalaburagi district: Minister (11)

KALABURAGI: There are as many as 15,367 out-of-school children in Kalaburagi district and another 11,142 in Yadgir district, according to Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education Kimmane Ratnakar. In a reply to an unstarred question by Congress MLC Allamprabhu Patil in the Legislative Council, the Minister said several reasons contributed to the high number of out-of-school children in the two districts, which have been identified as educationally most backward districts with high illiteracy rates. The Minister in the same breath claimed that out of the total 15,367 children identified as out of school in Kalaburagi district, 11,014 have been brought back to the mainstream and in Yadgir district out of the total 11,142 out-of-the school children, 5,680 children have been brought back through several initiatives taken by the department. Mr. Ratnakar said that some of the reasons, why children remain away from school, which have been identified, include the distance from their residence to school, involvement of children in the household work by their parents, making the children work in other houses for generating income etc. Early marriage and girl students attaining puberty can also be reasons for them to stay away from school, he said. Other reasons cited by the Minister in the written reply included unattractive school environment, migration of the children to other places, fear of the teacher among the children, severe physical disability and other reasons. The government has initiated several measures to bring back these children by providing three-month and 12-month bridge courses , six-month residential seasonal training programme for migrant children who drop out of schools, school-based special coaching, starting tent schools for the migrant drop out children, home-based coaching for children with disabilities as well as other measures. (The Hindu 13/12/14)

42. No clue yet on RTE admissions as deadline ends (11)

Bengaluru: Lack of communication from officials of the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) with regard to admissions under the Right to Education Act (RTE) has left parents an anxious lot. DPI officials are still in the process of compiling a list of schools in every district, even as they have overshot the deadline. As per the schedule fixed by the  DPI, the Deputy Directors of Public Instruction (DDPIs) were supposed to upload on to the district websites a list of all schools in their districts by December 12. Once the DDPIs upload the list, the Block Education Officers (BEOs) can start preparing a list of seats available in every school. The deadline for the same is January 12, 2015. According to Commissioner for Public Instruction Mohammed Mohsin, a review meeting to discuss the progress in the admission process will be held on December 15 (Monday). “There has been some delay as we had to finish the verification of schools as well. The list will be uploaded on to the district websites in two or three days,” he said, adding that the issue of illegal schools would also be discussed in the meeting. Recently, several schools were found functioning without adequate permission. Hence, the department had promised to compile a list of these schools and upload it on the website. Parents are anxious as they have little or no information about the admission process. RTE Task Force member Nagasimha G Rao said the Task Force was receiving at least 20 calls every day from parents seeking information. “The department should have issued a manual by now about the admission procedure. They have to start help centres to train parents regarding online admissions,” he said. Parents have no clarity on what exactly the online admissions will entail – whether the entire process would be online or whether only the applications were available online. Further, in spite of complaints, the department is yet to upload the addresses of the BEO offices. Meanwhile, DDPIs said they were compiling school lists and it would be ready soon. DDPI (Bengaluru Rural) K  M Gururaj said, “With regard to some schools, the name has figured in the lists of two neighbourhoods. That has to be changed. We will do it in two days.” In Shivamogga, the list was nearly ready and the officials would be uploading it on Monday, said DDPI T Narayana Gowda. “We are cross-checking the number of schools. Except for minor discrepancy in the number of schools, there is no problem,” he said.  (Deccan Herald 15/12/14)

43. Dropout rate remains high among girls in Delhi (11)

NEW DELHI: Government schemes and programmes designed to help girls continue in school aren’t working. At the primary level, the number of girls per 1,000 boys has fallen from 881 in 2010-11 to 867 in 2013-14. At the secondary school level, it has fallen from 859 in 2010-11 to 840 in 2013-14. Only scheduled caste (SC) students have a healthy ratio—in the 900s or even more than 1,000—at middle, secondary and senior-secondary levels. R Govinda, vice-chancellor, National University for Educational Planning and Administration ( NUEPA), however, doesn’t see it as a failure of government schemes and policies, or even a long-term trend. He says enrolment at the primary level increased tremendously after Right to Education Act was implemented in 2010. “It’ll take a few years for that change to show up in the statistics.” Govinda says more girls than boys drop out after finishing primary and middle levels, but those who enter secondary school usually stay on till the end. That isn’t the case with boys, which may explain the increase in sex ratio from secondary to senior-secondary. In 2010-11 the sex ratio was 859 at secondary level and 881 at senior-secondary level; in 2013-14, it declined to 840 at the secondary level but increased to 896 at the senior-secondary level. This is not because of greater participation of girls but because boys have started dropping out by this stage.  ”In Delhi, boys start dropping out when they move from municipal to government schools,” says Saurabh Sharma of Josh, a city NGO that is also part of the Right to Education Forum. “For five feeder municipal schools, there will be one government school. In that crowding, boys find it very difficult to survive. They may get out and start working.” He says the problem is shortage of schools, not resistance from parents. He disagrees with Govinda on the effectiveness of government schemes. “Most parents don’t even know how to apply for Ladli. There’s no one to tell them what to do. People have no faith in schemes,” says Sharma. Why do SC students have a better sex ratio? Sharma can’t explain that one. “Does this mean SC parents are more aware? I don’t think so.” Govinda says it could be because SC boys and SC girls drop out equally. The figures bear this out but only for 2010-11 when 12,747 boys and 13,836 girls transitioned to senior-secondary from 17,188 boys and 17,650 girls who were in Class X, and the sex ratio remained over 1,000. In 2012-13, the number of SC students increased from 77,470 in secondary to 81,853 in senior-secondary. (Times of India 17/12/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

44. Petition Seeks Direction to Centre to Not Implement DBTL (21)

MADURAI: A petition seeking to direct the union government not to implement the Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG subsidy system (DBTL) was filed before the Madras High Court bench on Tuesday. Petitioner S M Ananthamurugan, an advocate, also prayed for a directive to the government not to take steps to implement the “bank account-based” domestic LPG connection. He submitted that the central government should be directed to provide domestic refill LPG cylinders to the public following the earlier system. He alleged DBTL was unwarranted and useless and would affect the poor the most as most of them did not have bank accounts and were not in a position to get the government LPG subsidy. As the Centre could not insist on Adhaar card,they are now using the backdoor method by insisting on DBTL, he said. If the government really wanted to weed out ineligible LPG connection holders, it should conduct a fair assessment and find the persons living Above the Poverty Line and hand over their details with the gas agency and cancel their subsidy, he said. The case will be taken up for hearing on Wednesday. (New Indian Express 10/12/14)

45. UN agency reports record cereal crop as Ebola, conflict threaten food security  (21)

Despite world cereal production likely to reach an all-time record of more than 2.5 billion tonnes in 2014, a total of 38 countries are at risk of food insecurity, including 29 in Africa, with food insecurity worsening in several countries due to civil conflicts, adverse weather and the Ebola outbreak, according to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report released on Thursday. The latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation Report shows that while bumper crops in Europe and a record maize output in the United States of America pushed cereal output 0.3 per cent higher than last year, agriculture and food sectors in many countries were hit by significant, damaging shocks. In West Africa, the Ebola outbreak, which began when crops were being planted and gathered pace during the farming cycle, led to a reduced harvest. Rice and cassava prices showed notable increases in the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, and other cities in September. Harvests were also reduced by bad weather in the Sahel region, with agricultural output in Senegal expected to be 38 per cent below average. Conflict was responsible for serious impacts on food insecurity in several countries, including Syria, where a weak harvest, due to abandoned land, scarce labour, and damaged infrastructure, was exacerbating the effects of worsening civil conflict. An estimated 6.8 million Syrians some refugees in neighbouring countries faced severe food insecurity, with the situation in Iraq, where 2.8 million people were displaced, also acutely serious. In the Central African Republic (CAR), increased violence, coupled with crop production 58 per cent below average, put one third of the population in need of urgent food assistance. Prices of agricultural commodities have shot up by as much as 70 per cent this year and one in four households has resorted to negative coping strategies, including selling productive assets and slaughtering livestock. Pressure on food supplies also came from refugee movements, the report said, especially from Sudans Darfur region, northern Nigeria, the CAR and Mali. More than 6.5 million people need food and livelihood assistance in Chad, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. Nevertheless, the report says that the increase in overall cereal output will outpace projected consumption, boosting cereal stocks to their highest level since 2000 and pushing the worldwide stock-to-use ratio, a proxy measure for supply conditions, to rise to 25.2 percent, its highest level in 13 years. (Sify News 13/12/14)

46. ‘State Govt maligning BJP by false information’ (21)

JORHAT, Dec 13 – At a press conference here on Friday, the BJP’s Tea Morcha alleged that the State Government has resorted to unfair politics to malign the image of the NDA Government in the State by misleading tea garden workers on the issue of withdrawing the subsidised foodgrains scheme. After the State Industry Minister Pradyut Bordoloi said a few days ago that the Centre had decided to stop providing subsidised rations to the State tea gardens from the beginning of the new year, various organisations of workers staged protests against the Government’s decision across the State and demanded of the Central Government to continue the supply of foodgrains according to the earlier subsidy scheme. “But the irony is that the Central Government does not have any such subsidy scheme for garden workers to withdraw in the first place. Only the State Government provides subsidised foodgrains to the workers to help the owners of tea gardens economically. The State Government has itself decided to withdraw such special subsidy for gardens and is blaming the BJP Government by providing false information,” said Dulen Nayak, State executive member of the BJP’s Tea Morcha. According to him, Industry Minister Bordoloi and former Union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar tried to incite the tea garden workers by politicising the issue which has “no authenticity.” As both the Congress leaders are owners of tea gardens in upper Assam, they work only for the interests of owners, Nayak alleged. “Tea garden owners must provide foodgrains to the workers according to the existing order of rates. Bordoloi and Ghatowar are owners of tea gardens. It is the responsibility of tea garden owners to provide foodgrains as per the Plantation Labour Act ,1951,” said Nayak. Criticising the pro-Congress role of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), he said that the welfare of workers should be the priority of such an organisation which has remained silent on several issues like the delayed disbursement of provident fund deposits even in the Government-run tea gardens under the Assam Tea Corporation Limited. “They know the truth, but have remained a mute spectator with regard to these issues of workers who have been deprived of proper healthcare facilities, provident fund deposits, housing facilities, education, etc.,” said Nripen Tasa, district president of the Chah Morcha. BJP’s State general secretary Santanu Pujari also said that Congress ministers should refrain from inciting common people against the BJP by giving misleading information. “Please stop such dirty politics by providing misleading information to the common people. The Congress must also stop favouring only owners instead of implementing welfare schemes for tea garden workers,” said Pujari. (The Assam Tribune 14/12/14)

47. Tea tribe kids drop out of school due to poverty (21)

Guwahati: The tea plantation may be one of the largest economies of Assam but the poverty of tea plantation workers is forcing more than 23 out of every 100 tea-tribe children to drop out of school at lower and upper primary levels every year in Assam. However, overall combined dropout rate in lower and upper primary level in 2013-14 in Assam was a little over six per cent while the state’s overall literacy was 73.2 per cent. In a reply to a written question, Assam education minister Pradyut Borodoloi quoted data of district information system for education of 2012-13 and 2013-14, which said, “In the tea and ex-tea garden areas, 17.3 per cent children dropped out at lower primary level and 29.5 per cent left schooling at primary level.” The minister in his reply stated that poverty of parents, poor infrastructure of schools run by tea garden administrations, lack of trained teachers in these schools and non-cooperation from people involved with school management bodies have also contributed to this school dropout rates of children in tea garden areas. It is significant that majority of the schools, 450, are run by tea garden administrations while only a paltry 29 have been provincialised and funded by the state government. The minister stated that the government has taken up proposal to provincialise 157 more such schools. “We have asked those schools which have been left out to send proposals to us for provincialisation,” the minister said. The minister could not reply to a question about the literacy rate among tea tribes. (Asian Age 18/12/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

48. HC: Corpns delaying vendor law for hafta (14)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday was in agreement with an NGO’s statement that municipal corporations are not implementing the Street Vendors Act as they want the vendors to be at their mercy “to extract hafta from them”. “Absolutely. We completely agree with you,” a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Siddharth Mridul said in response to advocate Prashant Bhushan’s submission, on behalf of the NGO, that the Act is not being implemented as the civic bodies “wants street vendors at their mercy to extract hafta from them”.The bench also pulled up the municipal corporations of Delhi for violating its order not to evict street vendors till a survey is completed regarding the number of such roadside businesses in the national capital and as stipulated under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act 2014. It also termed corporations’ conduct as “contempt of court”.”We had said that till survey is completed no street vendors are to be removed. There is complete embargo on evicting street vendors till survey is completed as per Street Vendors Act and a vending certificate is issued. This is contempt of court,” the court said. It also said “even today survey has not been completed” and added “consequently no street vendors can be evicted”.The court was a hearing a PIL filed by NGO National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) which alleged street vendors at Jama Masjid, Nahar Patti and Meena Bazaar areas here were evicted in August 2014 in view of Independence Day celebrations. The court sought a joint status report within three weeks from MCDs indicating whether any street vendors have been evicted from the aforesaid three areas. If they were evicted, then they are permitted to come back, the court said and listed the matter for further hearing on January 15, 2015. (Times of India 11/12/14)

49. Job scheme to focus on asset development (14)

Kozhikode: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that the State government will give more priority to asset development projects under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS). He was speaking after inaugurating the newly constructed Bharat Nirman Rajiv Gandhi Seva Kendra at Kunnamangalam on Saturday. Explaining the scope of the project in the agriculture sector, Mr. Chandy said the existing production could be largely increased with the expansion of the MGNREGS. “In the dairy sector too, we would be able to achieve self-sufficiency,” he said. The Chief Minister also laid the foundation stones for two asset development projects worth Rs.1.15 crore under the control of the Kunnamangalam block panchayat. P.T.A. Rahim, MLA, presided over the function. (The Hindu 14/12/14)

50. Labour department resolves 103 complaints (14)

NewDelhi: A total of 103 grievances, received from workers between December 2001 and December 2005, were redressed by the city’s labour department. Labour commissioner Jitendra Narain said the department has redressed 103 disputes and complaints of workers and public received from December 2001 till December 2005. “Besides enforcing the labour laws, the department has undertaken welfare activities for the benefit of the industrial workers and their families in the capital.” Mr Narain said the department has disbursed an amount of Rs 49,01,182 that has benefited 98 workers under various labour laws, including Employees Compensation Act 1923, Delhi Shops and Establishment Act 1954; Minimum Wages Act 1948; Payment of Gratuity Act 1972; Conciliation cases under I.D. Act 1947; Recovery of money under Award of Labour Court Section 33(C)(1) of ID Act 1947; Payment of Bonus Act 1965; Contract Labour Act 1970 and Minimum Wages Act 1948. He said that department was organising regular workshops on occupational safety and health in association with the Industrial Association. “Experiences and best practices in Industrial safety and health shall be discussed.” (Asian Age 15/12/14)

51. Proposal to reduce limit for EPF coverage (14)

New Delhi: A proposal to cover all companies having more than 10 employees under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scheme is under consideration of the government. “A proposal to reduce threshold limit for coverage under the Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 from 20 to 10 employees is included in the proposed comprehensive amendment to the Act,” Minister for Labour and Employment Bandaru Dattatreya informed Lok Sabha. Replying to another question, the minister said there was no proposal to provide any minimum wage pension to all workers of the unorganised sector. In his written reply, Dattatreya said the government had proposed to merge three schemes – Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY), Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana (AABY) and Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (IGNOAPS) being run for workers of the unorganised sector and to provide the benefit of the scheme through a single smart card to workers.”This pilot project will be implemented in the 20 selected districts,” he said. The minister said the objective of these pilots is to ensure unorganised workers should have easy access to social security schemes, including registration, support for services, claiming benefits and grievance redressal through a single point of contact set up at a center near their place of residence. “The data for these schemes will be entered in the single smart card, which will be proof of eligibility for the schemes,” Dattatreya said. (Business Standard 16/12/14)

52. Informal Workers in Organized Sector (14)

The Minister of State (IC) for Labour and Employment, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya has said that no centralized data in this regard is maintained. Under the Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970, Central Government is the “Appropriate Government” in respect of the establishments falling in Central Sphere.  The private companies, non-Government sector and unorganized sector come in State sphere. However, in the year 2013-14 the estimated number of contract labourers engaged by licenced contractors in Central Sphere was around 21.12 lakhs.  In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today, Shri Bandaru Dattatreya said that the Ministry of Labour and Employment has launched a special drive to include contract and construction workers under EPFO pursuant to the initiative to provide Universal Account Number (UAN) to the EPF subscribers. The UAN will help them track their PF benefits across contractors. Hon’ble Prime Minister had launched Shramev Jayate Karyakram on 16th October, 2014 wherein a Shram Suvidha Portal was launched. This Shram Suvidha Portal currently applies to 4 major organisations under the Ministry viz. Office of Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) and Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS). This Portal, besides allotting a Unique Labour Identification Number to each establishment, will also comprise all details of both regular and contract workers. Till now, Unique Identification Number has been issed to 7,13,624 units. The Government has introduced transparent Labour Inspection Scheme in Central Sphere which will also lead to effective implementation of all the Acts including the Contract Labour Act. Further, Universal Account Number has been allotted to 4,21,000 EPF Subscribers to provide portability.  The Minister said that the interest of labourers in terms of wages and other service conditions are safeguarded under various social welfare legislations. Some of the prominent social welfare legislations are as follows: -  Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 , -Employees’ Provident Fund & Misc. Provisions Act, 1952, Employees’ Pension Scheme, 1995, Employees’ State Insurance Act, 1948, – Minimum Wages Act, 1948, -Payment of Wages Act, 1936, Maternity Benefit Act, 1961, Equal Remuneration Act, 1976  , Payment of Bonus Act, 1965, Workmen Compensation Act, 1923, Mines Act, 1952, Factories Act, 1948, Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Act, 1970. He said that as far as the security  in term of  wages to contract labourers is concerned,  under  Rule 25(2)(v)(a) of the  Contract Labour (Regulation & Abolition) Central Rules, 1971, the wages of the contract labour shall not be less than the rates prescribed under  Minimum Wages Act, 1948 and in cases where  the contract workers perform  the same or similar kind of work as the workmen directly employed  by the principal employer of the establishment, the wage rates, holidays, hours of work and other conditions of service  shall be the same as applicable to the workmen directly employed by the principal employer doing the same or similar kind of work. The liability to ensure payment of wages and other benefits is primarily that of the contractor and, in case of default, that of the principal employer. (Govt./ of India PIB 17/12/14)

RESERVATION

53. OBCs to get 27% of govt petrol pumps (25)

NEW DELHI: The oil ministry has for the first time implemented a 27% quota for OBCs (other backward castes) in allotment of petrol pumps, even as it has decided to auction outlets on ‘premium sites’ and distribute others through lottery with a view to ensuring transparency. The latest round of reforms by the ministry, under the watch of Dharmendra Pradhan, displays a fine blend of welfare politics and sound commercial sense. The reservation will impact power equations in rural areas, while the auction will help maximize revenue and attract serious players. The OBC quota will also apply in the allotment of cooking gas dealerships. Over the last 2-3 months, state-run fuel retailers have advertised 35,668 locations for setting up petrol pumps and 7,000 cooking gas dealerships, both under regular and low-cost rural categories. The allotment policy also provides for 22.5% reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. After the OBC quota, the general category will come down to 49.5%. Reservation for other groups such as sportsmen, former defence personnel and family of martyrs will be accommodated under these three categories. The UPA had decided on the quota in July 2012 but it remained unimplemented. There are more than 40,000 petrol pumps in the country. The ministry has now asked fuel retailers to auction outlets on what it calls ‘A Sites’. These are pumps where the retailers spend a minimum of Rs 50-60 lakh for setting up all infrastructure and facilities, even purchase or lease the land. The dealer is then chosen to operate the pumps. Sources said the suggestion for introducing the auction method came from Pradhan during one of his marketing review meetings with oil company executives. “Why should companies spend money for dealers? Let those who mean business bid for a pump,” an executive from one of the companies quoted the minister as saying. Scrapping of interview of candidates from the dealer selection process removes one of the major sources of allegations of favouritism and nepotism. The ‘A Sites’ will have a reserve price of Rs 30-35 lakh, depending upon the location. Those interested in becoming operators will have to bid above this price as per their understanding of the business prospects of a location. In case there is tie with more than one bidder quoting similar price, the selection of the winner will be through lottery. All remaining sites will be allotted through lottery, which has so far been the practice for awarding cooking gas dealerships. (Times of India 10/12/14)

54. VHP to Oppose Telangana Government’s Move to Give 12 Per Cent Reservations to Muslims

SANGAREDDY: Senior VHP leader Praveen Togadia today said his organisation will oppose any move by the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Telangana government in providing 12 per cent reservations to Muslims. Addressing a ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’ here on the eve of the golden jubilee celebrations of VHP, Togadia, who is international president of the organisation, said the party will take legal recourse if the state government comes up with any such move. “VHP will oppose any move by the state government for providing 12 per cent reservations to Muslims and will take legal recourse if needed,” Togadia said. Providing of reservations to Muslims was one of the promises made by Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in its poll manifesto in April. Togadia also appealed to Hindus to eradicate untouchability and maintain unity “to save the religion”.”Each and every Hindu should maintain cordial relations with SC/ST’s and upper and lower castes should share common kitchens,” he said. Raking up the issue of “love jihad’, Togadia said VHP was not against “pure love”.”Love jihad is not pure because Hindu girls are converted to Islam after their marriage but in no case any Muslim boy gets converted to Hinduism.. This is clearly the ‘love jihad’ and we are against it,” Togadia said. He said that construction of the temple of Lord Ram in Ayodhya is the matter of “self respect” to Hindus. VHP national president G Raghava Reddy and regional president Rama Raju also spoke on the occasion. (New Indian Express 11/12/14)

55. ST quota sparks row among tribal communities in WG (25)

ELURU: The notification for recruitment of 40 teacher posts in Agency school has sparked a row among the tribal community in West Godavari district, with the Koyas and Kondreddies at odds with their ST brethren of Banjaras (Lambadas) over the ST status. Reservations in government jobs in the Agency mandals of Buttayagudem, Polavaram and Jeelugumilli for STs have been pitting these ST sub-castes against each other for a long time. The issue of government’s notification for recruitment of school teachers through District Selection Committee (DSC), scheduled to take place in February next year, has set off a fresh row within the STs. The DSC-2015 is set to recruit 40 teachers in the Agency schools. During DSC-213, nearly 70 teacher posts found no takers from the STs for want of TET (Teacher Eligibility Test) qualification. Against this backdrop, a massive demonstration was held at the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) office at Kota Ramachandrapuram in Buttayagudem mandal under the aegis of the Adivasi Sankshema Parishad, Adivasi Sena and the Adivasi Teachers Federation on Wednesday, opposing recruitment of Lambadas in government jobs in the Agency under the ST quota. The STs , with their family history of residing in the Agency since 1950s, are only eligible for jobs, admissions in educational institutions and the other government entitlements under the ST quota as per the GO No. 3. The Revenue Department has been flooded with applications from ST candidates, seeking nativity certificates in a bid to conform to the GO 3. Meanwhile, Joint Collector T. Baburao Naidu, a tribal himself, was caught in the crossfire after he negated the claims of two Lambada candidates whose nativity was challenged by Koyas after their selection for the VRO posts in Buttayagudem mandal. Later, Bhanjara Hakkula Sangham protested in the city, seeking transfer of the Joint Collector for his alleged bias in favour of non-Banjara sub-groups. The Banjaras, a tribe inhabiting in the plains, were accorded ST status during Jalagam Vengal Rao’s government in 1976. Mudiyam Gangaraju, a Koya, of the Adivasi Teachers Federation, said Banjaras with a population around 20,000 had migrated from the neighbouring Telangana districts after 1950s. .(The Hindu 12/12/14)

56. Uttarakhand wants quota in employment, education for its people (25)

NEW DELHI: Uttarakhand wants Centre to treat people of the state as a special category like scheduled tribes and give them reservation in employment and education. It will also ask the Centre to provide “green bonus” to the state for preserving forests in the country. At the same time, cognizant of its status as political rival to BJP, Congress is using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s priority to rejuvenate Ganga and “clean India” to seek clearance for pending projects recommended by Uttarakhand. The state argues that its financial status has dwindled after the Kedarnath floods and the Centre should help it tide over the trouble by financing key projects. Threatening to flex its muscles on these tricky demands, the state Congress will hold a big day-long demonstration in the capital on Thursday, to be led by state chief Kishore Upadhyaya, civil society groups and concerned citizens.  In what may put another polarizing issue on the table like the statehood demand of the 1990s, Upadhyaya said the state has specific cultural features and social practices like the northeastern states whose people are considered tribal. “The people of Uttarakhand should have been considered for the same affirmative action long back. It was also one of the demands of the statehood movement,” he argued. The state wants that its green efforts as the “lungs of the country” be rewarded with a ‘green bonus”, a cash reward that should be linked to development projects. The demand is seen as important in view of rising debate on climate change and mitigation efforts. Sources said the state will also press the Centre for a metro project from Dehradun to Haridwar, railway projects in the hill regions and renewal of the ‘industrial package”. Upadhyaya said while the PM has expressed his sentiments for “Holy Ganga”, he should also give special treatment to the land of the river’s origin. “We appeal that the proposal sent by the state government for conservation and cleaning of Ganga be cleared,” he added, also seeking Rs 10 crore to make “clean India” a success. (Times of India 18/12/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

57. Human rights not an outside concept: Lok Sabha speaker (1)

New Delhi: Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan Wednesday said human rights was not an “outside” concept as Indian culture talks not only of rights of human beings but also gives respect to plants and trees. Addressing a function organised to mark Human Rights Day here, she said it was sad to see girls, who are in their early 20s, being married off. “Whenever, I go to my constituency and to other areas of the country, I often see girls being married off at very early stage of their lives,” Mahajan said. “Why this is being done? It’s about her rights, her right to education, her right to choose life partner,” she said. The speaker said the concept of human rights and even the rights of non-living things has been imbibed in Indian culture for a long time. “Why it seems that the concept of human rights has come from outside… it’s been there in our country for a long time. Here we not only talk about human rights but the rights of trees and even non-living things,” she said. Mahajan said every person’s rights were equally important and must be protected at all costs. “Women are also humans as they too have similar feelings like men, so they should also be treated as humans when it comes to protecting humans rights,” she said. UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s message was read out on the occasion. The function was attended by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairman K.G. Balakrishnan. Mahajan also released six publications of the NHRC on the occasion. (New Kerala 10/12/14)

58. NHRC vows to strengthen human rights defenders (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), on the eve of Human Rights Day on Wednesday, appealed to state governments to come forward on the occasion to endorse publicly the importance of this special day through various forums in order to help usher in a culture of human rights in the country. It has also pledged to stand up for human rights defenders (HRDs) whether in India or globally. The NHRC will on Wednesday organize a programme where Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan will release some NHRC publications for spreading awareness against rights abuses. The slogan of this year’s Human Rights Day – ‘Human Rights 365′, encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. In a statement issued by the commission, its chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan said “Today, on 9th December, the day when the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) was adopted in 1998 by the UN General Assembly, the NHRC, India reiterates its resolve to strengthen the human rights defenders (HRDs) as an integral part in its strategy to strengthen the human rights culture in India and across the globe”. “The work of HRDs in partnership with other state and non-state actors will have a far reaching impact in improving and strengthening the human rights situation throughout the country and also globally,” the chairman said. “HRDs have always been instrumental in fighting for the cause of human rights. However, their efforts were provided impetus through the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders which was adopted by UN General Assembly on 9th December,” Balakrishnan pointed out. “NHRC, India too right since its inception in 1993, has played a very important role in promoting and protecting the rights of HRDs. Justice Ranganath Mishra, the first chairperson of National Human Rights Commission always gave due opportunity and voice to the people who fought for promotion and protection of human rights,” he said. This work has not only been carried forward by the commission but there has been substantial expansion in its activities for promotion and protection of rights of HRDs, he said. (Times of India 10/12/14)

59. SC ruling on Sec 377 violation of human rights: LGBT community (1)

New Delhi: Members of the LGBT community and civil society activists on Thursday held a protest here against the Supreme Court verdict of 2013 criminalising gay sex, saying it represented a violation of human rights. At a public hearing organised by India HIV/AIDS Alliance, members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community claimed that discrimination against sexual minorities had become more severe since the verdict last year. “The Dec. 11 (2013) verdict has made our already vulnerable community even more vulnerable to harassment by police,” said an activist at the protest where LGBT community members called for access to healthcare services and increased efforts for the safeguarding of their rights. Sushant Divgikar, actor and a recent participant on TV reality show ‘Big Boss’, said, “I am deeply troubled by the daily injustice faced by my LGBT brothers and sisters. We need to fight the internalised homophobia and transphobia in our communities and transform our fear into courage to celebrate who we are.” James Robertson, Executive Director, Alliance India, said that even though sexual minorities are full citizens of the country, they are denied opportunities to earn a living, study and access health services. “Many families reject them and push them further to society’s margins, increasing their vulnerability to a range of harms, including HIV. We must join together to fight the insidious impact of homophobia and transphobia,” he said. Supreme Court had last year set aside a Delhi High Court judgement decriminalising gay sex and thrown the ball into Parliament’s court for amending the law. The judgement revived the penal provision making gay sex an offence punishable with life imprisonment in a setback to people fighting a battle for recognition of their sexual preferences. Later, the court had also dismissed a bunch of petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists against the 2013 verdict.   (Zee News 11/12/14)

60. Bharti moves HC against NHRC order (1)

NEW DELHI: Somnath Bharti on Tuesday moved the Delhi high court challenging the NHRC order holding him guilty of “racial prejudice and unlawful acts” against the 12 African women during his controversial midnight raid early this year. Justice Manmohan before whom the case was listed, however, recused himself and sent the matter to another court. The plea filed through advocate Deepak Khosla, claimed that Bharti was not given any notice of certain proceedings initiated by the NHRC ‘suo motu’ in January 2014. (Times of India 17/12/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

61. PIL in Madras high court challenges Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG scheme (19)

MADURAI: A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Madurai bench of the Madras high court challenging the central government’s move to link Aadhaar and bank account details with domestic gas cylinder connection as part of the Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG (DBTL) scheme. Sivakasi-based advocate S M Anantha Murugan filed the PIL contending that the Supreme Court had restrained the oil companies from demanding Aadhaar card number to provide gas cylinders. “While so, the central government has introduced a new system, Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG (DBTL), by which it demands details of Aadhaar/bank account of the customer. Hence, the government’s action should be restrained,” the petitioner said. When the matter came up for hearing, the division bench of Justices V Dhanapalan and V M Velumani ordered notices to the cabinet secretary, home affairs, petroleum and natural gas secretaries, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India’s chairman, Petroleum and Explosive Safety Organization’s chief controller of explosives and state’s chief secretary. (Times of India 10/12/14)

62. Enact law to stop women from being branded ‘witch’: Rajasthan HC (19)

JODHPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Thursday asked the state government to enact a law to prevent social evils like ‘dayan’ (where women are branded as witch) and the system of ‘mautana’ (death money), prevalent mostly in tribal areas of the state. The court warned that either the government enact a law by February 11, 2015 or the court would declare Rajasthan a backward state. A division bench headed by acting Chief Justice Sunil Ambawani, while hearing a suo motu petition, considered the two traditions as malice to civilized society and stated that it can’t be allowed to exist in a progressive state. According to amicus curie Baljinder Singh Sandhu, the court had sought data on the issue and having taken into account growing incidents of the practice, it asked the government to enact a law in this regard by February 11, 2015. “If the state government did not take satisfactory steps by February 11, 2015, the court would think of declaring the state a backward one and insensitive towards human rights,” the court said. The ‘mautana’ tradition has created law and order problems. The ‘mautana’ tradition, literally the ‘death money’, prevalent predominantly in Mewar region covering Pratapgarh, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Rajsamand and Udaipur districts, has created serious law and order problems recently. Mautana, or monetary compensation for death, started with the noble intention of providing relief to the victim’s family. But now, middlemen, even sarpanchs and panchs, vie for a cut of the compensation when the families or communities of the victims and the suspects reach a deal. Similarly, many women, regardless of their age, had been treated inhumanly by fellow villagers branding them ‘dayan’. Two weeks back, a woman was held responsible for the death of a horse in a village and was beaten up and made to sit on a donkey with her face blackened. (Times of India 12/12/14)

63. Second wife can file dowry harassment charges: HC (19)

HYDERABAD: Justice U Durga Prasad Rao of the Hyderabad high court has held that a person’s second wife has the right to lodge a dowry harassment case against him. The judge, while dismissing a petition filed by one Nalla Thirupathi Reddy, who wanted the court to quash a dowry harassment case lodged by his second wife, directed police to probe the incident. Reddy challenged his second wife’s locus standi on the ground that she is not the legally wedded wife but only a second wife. According to the respondent, the petitioner married her with the consent of his first wife as the latter was critically injured in a fire accident. Reddy took Rs 2 lakh in cash and a piece of land worth Rs one lakh as dowry from his second wife’s parents at the time of their marriage. Relying upon a Supreme Court judgment in the case pertaining to A Subash Babu versus the State of Andhra Pradesh, the judge said that a husband cannot ask for quashing of proceedings only on the ground that the complainant is his second wife. The apex court ruled that the absence of a definition of ‘husband’ to specifically include such persons who contract marriages ostensibly and cohabit with such women in the purported exercise of their role and status as ‘husband’, is no ground to exclude them from the purview of Section 304B or 498A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). (Times of India 14/12/14)

64. Centre Can’t appoint Vigilance Chief Without Our approval, Says Supreme Court (19)

NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court today said the Centre cannot appoint a Central Vigilance Commissioner and the Vigilance Commissioner without its approval, but the selection process for both posts can progress. “Before sending the appointments to the President, come to us. We are not concerned with who is being appointed, but we will see whether the due procedure is followed or not,” said Chief Justice of India HL Dattu while hearing the case. The court has been pushing for transparency in the appointment of the Central Vigilance Commissioner. In an earlier hearing, former Chief Justice RM Lodha had said only talented people should be chosen for the post. The case is being heard following complaints that the Centre’s method of making the appointments are in violation of rules and a petition seeking more transparency in the matter. The Centre had sought the court’s permission to proceed with the appointment in both posts, which are currently vacant. Questioning the validity of the petition, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was representing the Centre, told the court that anyone could challenge once an appointment has been done, but not before that. But the court rejected the argument and directed the Centre to submit the shortlisted names before they were sent to the President for approval. The Centre told court that advertisements have been published across the country and applicants are being shortlisted. The Centre is to submit the list of appointees on January 14, the next date of hearing. The Attorney General told the court he would submit the names in a sealed cover. (NDTV 17/12/14)

65. Cabinet approves GST Constitutional Amendment Bill (19)

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the Constitutional Amendment Bill on Goods & Services Tax (GST), inching closer to the rollout of an ambitious indirect tax reform expected to raise revenues and boost growth The government aims to implement GST by April 1, 2016 and has been working overtime to get states on board. The tax reform is a centrepiece of the Narendra Modi government’s economic agenda. Sources said the government hopes to introduce the bill in the current session of Parliament. It may be introduced in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The tax reform measure has missed several rollout dates in the past due to lack of consensus between the Centre and states on a host of issues and the government is keen to get the bill approved in the current session. On Monday night, the Centre managed a breakthrough after finance minister Arun Jaitley assured the states of a fair deal. Sources said initially, petroleum will be kept out of GST but will be included in the new tax set up once states come on board. It may take two years but the government hopes to include it in the years ahead. Alcohol too is expected to be kept out of the comprehensive levy. Additionally, the Centre has devised a levy of 1% above the GST rate on select items and is assuring the states full compensation for revenue loss for three years, followed by 75% in fourth year and 50% in the fifth. The Centre does not see a significant amount of compensation to be paid as it expects collections through GST to be better due to fewer exemptions and a gain from service tax. Cabinet clearance assumes greater importance as there were few doubts after the recent empowered committee meeting wherein it seemed that consensus between Centre and states still eluded on few critical points,” said Pratik Jain, partner, indirect tax at consultancy firm KPMG , India. “Now with the bill all set to be presented in the current session of Parliament, it would be seen as enormously positive towards GST implementation from April 1, 2016. However, it would be important for all stakeholders to ensure that GST covers all transactions including petroleum, real estate and electricity in due course, if not immediately,” he said. The finance ministry had swung into action after state finance ministers rejected the draft GST Constitutional Amendment Bill last Thursday saying the provisions did not take into account their concerns and staunchly opposed the move to include petroleum under the GST ambit. The states also said the bill does not address their concern on the issue of entry tax. In a bid to bridge the trust deficit between the states and the Centre, Jaitley had approved the release of Rs 11,000 crore as compensation for loss on account of central sales tax which had been pending since 2010. He had also vowed to pay the pending amount as he moved to ensure that the states come on board for rolling out the tax reform measure which has the potential to add significantly to government revenues and overall economic growth. (Times of India 18/12/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

66. Rights bodies renew cry for AFSPA repeal (1)

IMPHAL: On the occasion of International Human Rights Day on Wednesday, various rights bodies in insurgency-hit Manipur have categorically called for scrapping the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. The day also marked the sixth anniversary of Sharmila Kanba Lup (Sakal) or Save Sharmila group, a body of women activists and emas (mothers), who began a relay hunger strike on this day in 2008 to express solidarity with Irom Sharmila Chanu. Sakal members staged the relay-hunger-fast at a make-shift camp close to Jawaharal Nehru Institute of Medical Science (JNIMS) at Porompat in Imphal East where the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’ is currently being forced-fed through her nose by the government. AFSPA gives unbridled powers to the armed forces even to the extent of shooting people on mere suspension. Human rights lawyer and president of All Manipur Bar Association (AMBA) Khaidem Mani said AFSPA has no place in India, the largest democracy in the world. Stating that AFSPA is clamped in selective regions and states like the northeast and Jammu and Kashmir, Mani termed it as a racial law. He demanded immediate repeal of the Act. Human Rights Initiative (HRI) executive director Wahangbam Joykumar said the imposition of AFSPA for over three decades in Manipur given rise to fear psychosis among people, especially the youth. Speaking at another observance at HRI office here, Joykumar demanded immediate repeal of the act in no time. Expressing strong opposition to the growing trend of triggering mob justice across the state, Joykumar urged the government, particularly the law enforcing agencies, to stop it before Manipur turns into a total lawless state. (Times of India 11/12/14)

67. Amnesty for Sharmila’s unconditional release (1)

  IMPHAL, Dec 16 – Authorities in India must build on the central government’s decision to decriminalize suicide by dropping all charges of attempted suicide against Prisoner of Conscience Irom Sharmila and releasing her immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International India said today. Irom Sharmila has been held in detention in Manipur for over 14 years on repeated charges of attempted suicide. She has been on a hunger strike since November 2000 demanding the repeal of the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA). On 10 December, India’s Minister of State for Home Affairs stated in the upper house of Parliament that the central government had decided to repeal Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, which makes attempting to commit suicide punishable with imprisonment for up to one year. “The Indian government’s decision to decriminalize suicide is in line with an increasing global trend. This move should lead to the immediate release of Irom Sharmila, who has been held in detention merely for exercising her freedom of expression in a peaceful manner,” said Shailesh Rai, Programme Director at Amnesty International India. Irom Sharmila has never been convicted of attempting to commit suicide. She has been regularly released after completing a year in judicial custody, only to be re-arrested shortly after as she continues her fast. In August 2014, a Manipur court had ruled that there were no grounds to charge Irom Sharmila with attempted suicide and instead described her protest as a ‘political demand through lawful means’, a belief thousands of her supporters have long held. Irom Sharmila was released after the verdict but she was re-arrested in farcical circumstances just two days later on the same charges. “Irom Sharmila should not have been arrested in the first place. Now that authorities have acknowledged that attempting to commit suicide should not be considered a crime, authorities in Manipur and Delhi should drop all charges against her, and start to engage with the issues this remarkable activist is raising,” said Shailesh Rai. (Assam Tribune 17/12/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

68. ISIS demands $1 mn to release beheaded journalist’s remains (1)

Antakya (Turkey): The Sunni jehadi organisation Islamic State wants $1 million for releasing the remains of the slain US journalist James Foley, media reported Thursday. Sources in contact with the ISIS said that the militant group was willing to provide a DNA sample from Foley’s remains to facilitate the deal, Buzzfeed News reported. If true, the attempted sale would highlight the ruthlessness behind IS’s hostage-taking enterprise that has provided the militant group with deep reservoirs of funds and publicity. Abducted in Syria in November 2012, Foley was beheaded Aug 10 this year by the ISIS as shown in a video released online by the militant group. At one point early this year, the ISIS held 23 Western hostages in Syria. Fifteen Europeans were freed as governments reportedly paid millions of dollars in ransom, but the British and US hostages were left behind. (Pioneer 12/12/14)

69. Media attacked by PTI protestors (1)

Islamabad, Dec 15 (IANS) Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protestors Monday targeted the media, manhandling journalists as they covered their protest live from the Punjab’s provincial capital Lahore, media reported. The PTI workers hurled bottles towards a Geo News team and chanted hostile slogans, as the media team was trying to cover the PTI’s protest. Defying clear instructions from PTI chief Imran Khan to desist from misbehaving with mediapersons, the party’s activists relentlessly harassed the media, Geo News reported. The PTI workers’ resorting to such misdemeanour against the media is something that has become a matter of routine as a similar situation was witnessed in Faisalabad which was later repeated in Karachi and now in Lahore. As the last reports came in, the PTI workers continued to besiege the DSNG van of Geo News while hurling stones, bottles and whatever they could lay their hands on. (Sify News 15/12/14)

70. Journalists under attack, 66 reporters killed in 2014 (1)

Paris: Attacks on journalists have grown more barbaric and kidnappings have soared, Reporters Without Borders said Tuesday, after a year when violence against the media took centre stage and 66 reporters were killed. India has been ranked 141 in the World Press Freedom Index among 180 countries by the press freedom organisation which said freedom of press is often sacrificed in the name of national security. The beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group highlighted the extreme danger journalists face in covering modern conflicts. “Rarely have reporters been murdered with such a barbaric sense of propaganda, shocking the entire world,” said Reporters Without Borders in their annual report released on Tuesday. There was a slight drop in the number of murdered journalists – down from 71 last year – thanks largely to fewer deaths in countries “at peace”. A total of 720 reporters have been killed since 2005. But kidnappings soared to 119 – up 37% on last year – thanks to the tactics of separatists in eastern Ukraine and militants operating in the Middle East and North Africa. Of those kidnapped, 33 were in Ukraine, 29 in Libya and 27 in Syria. Forty are still being held. “Local journalists pay the highest price, representing 90% of those abducted,” the report emphasised. “Of the 22 journalists currently being held by armed groups in Syria, 16 are Syrians. All of the eight journalists currently held hostage in Iraq are Iraqis.” The index mentions India as one of the countries where freedom of information is sacrificed to national security and surveillance and talks about Kashmir where “the work of journalists is handicapped by draconian news control policies”.”Criminal organisations, security forces, demonstrators and armed groups all pose a threat to India’s journalists. The violence and the resulting self-censorship is encouraged by the lack of effective investigations by local authorities, who are often quick to abandon them, and inaction on the part of the federal authorities,” it said. “In Kashmir, the authorities impose curfews and often block the internet and mobile phone networks.” Reporters Without Borders highlighted several cases of journalists punished by their governments, including that of Raef Badawi, a Saudi citizen-journalist who won the charity’s Press Freedom Prize this year and was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for “insulting Islam” with his views on the Liberal Saudi Network. It also highlighted the case of Khadija Ismailova in Azerbaijan – “now Europe’s biggest prison for media personnel”. Her work on government corruption has made her a target of smear campaigns, blackmail and spurious legal charges. “Now she is being held on the absurd charge of ‘pushing’ a former colleague to attempt suicide, a charge that carries a possible sentence of three to seven years in jail,” the report said. Worldwide, a total of 178 professional journalists were in prison as of December 8, the same number as last year. … (Hindustan Times 17/12/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

71. Bengali slum dwellers caught in crossfire (7)

Agra: Domestic scrap dealer Mumtaz Begum dodges the television cameras in her slum. A member of the 350-odd Bengali Muslim community in Ved Nagar, Agra, Ms. Begum was allegedly converted to Hinduism on Monday by activists of Hindutva organisations. She said she took part in a ritual organised by several persons who held saffron flags, as she was promised a ‘Below Povety Line’ ration card and the government’s Unique Identification Number — entitlements her family has not received after migrating from Rampurhat near Kolkata around three years ago. “These people (with flags) filled out several forms for us on Monday before make us sit near the fire while they chanted prayers. They said that we will get all benefits from government and also get proper houses to live in. When they started photographing us after the ritual, I got scared and ran away,” she told The Hindu. Ms. Begum added that the police questioned her later that day and since then journalists and Muslim clerics have been making repeated visits. Based on a complaint from community leader Ismail, the police filed a case of disturbing public tranquility and cheating against one Kishore Valmiki. On Wednesday, Muslims from both Deobandi and Barelvi schools visited the slum, which has open sewers and no toilets. “This misfortune has come upon you and Agra because you strayed away from Allah. Stop dressing like unbelievers and grow beards. Make your women read the Quran and cover their faces,” shoe-trader Haji Ikram told a gathering of the slum’s residents. Ismail, who migrated from Tulia in West Bengal’s 24 Parganas to Agra 17 years ago, admits that they were attracted by the entitlements offered, but denies converting. “They said we would get all this if we pose for pictures with idols of goddess Kali. I didn’t know I was being converted. I still believe in Allah. We have never had any differences with Hindus and we don’t see ourselves as different from Hindu scrap collectors,” he said. Bajrang Dal’s Uttar Pradesh co-convenor Avneendra Pratap Singh alias Ajju Chauhan says that he was instrumental in ‘converting’ the Bengalis and that Mr. Valmiki is an associate of Rajeshwar Singh, Kshetra Pramukh of the Dharma Jagran Samanwaya Vibhag, who was also present at the ceremony. Mr. Singh claimed that the scrap dealers, who are on rented premises, worship Kali during Navratri. “Their ancestors are Hindus and they approached us to bring them home. Ration cards are too small an allurement to convert and they are saying this under pressure from Muslim leaders and the government,” he said. He claimed that 350 Bengalis were “purified”. A glance at a diary of the police Local Intelligence Unit revealed 57 names of Bengalis who participated in the Monday ritual. A police officer said that they appear to be Indian nationals and more names would be added. Local youth said that the Bengalis had brought disrepute to the area. “They are Hindus and if they reconvert to Islam we will expel them from this area,” local resident Shubham Shrivastava told this paper. Local elder RC Bhaskar, Founder of the Panchsheel Degree College here, explained that conversion is a new phenomenon in the Cantonment Area which has a BSP MLA. “Ambedkarite ideology has been the mainstream political discourse here in the last three decades. Of late, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has gained followers in Ved Nagar mainly from the upper castes from other districts who have built houses here. There is still no communal tension here, but incidents like this have created mistrust among people in Agra,” he said. (The Hindu 11/12/14)

72. Workshop by minorities commission to spread communal harmony (7)

MANGALURU: Chairperson of Karnataka State Minorities Commission, Balkhees Banu, on Friday said the Commission has planned to hold workshops across the state to inculcate among people the values of communal harmony, love among human beings and other issues. Speaking to presspersons here during her visit to the district, Ms. Banu said no religion preaches hatred and violence. Referring to recent communal violence in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada, the Chairperson said she has urged people belonging to minority communities to walk a mile forward in extending friendly gesture towards others and live harmoniously. The workshops, Ms. Banu said would either be held at district headquarters or at taluk headquarters if people belonging to minority communities live in such places in large numbers. This is one of the several steps being envisaged by the Commission to ensure peace in society, she said. At Gangolli in Udupi, she prevailed upon the victims belonging to minority communities whose shops had been gutted allegedly by miscreants, to accept compensation of Rs. 25,000 each provided by the district administration, though the actual loss was more. She told the people from minority community in Ulaibettu area in Dakshina Kannada not to agitate over the issue and concentrate on harmonious living. Meanwhile, the Commission would get a formal report on Ulaibettu clashes from the district administration in about a week and would submit the same with suitable recommendations to the government, Ms. Banu said. She said during her meeting with the district administration on Friday, she raised several issues concerning the minority communities, including housing, ration, infrastructure etc., which she got to know from people who met her before the meeting. The administration has responded positively and promised to address the issues, Ms. Banu added. It is high time that people belonging to minority communities — Muslim, Christian, Jain, Sikh and Parsi —make use of several welfare schemes being offered by the State government. The Karnataka State Minorities Commission has urged the Dakshina Kannada district administration to withdraw petty cases filed against innocent people belonging to all the communities in connection with the recent Ulaibettu communal clashes. Commission Chairperson, Balkhees Banu told presspersons here, “The local people had no issues; it is the outsiders who make speeches and provoke people. While the rich would remain unaffected, it is the poor who suffer the impact.” (The Hindu 12/12/14)

73. Prohibitory orders imposed in Aligarh (7)

Lucknow, Dec. 14: Orders banning large congregations were imposed in Aligarh today ahead of conversions planned by the RSS on Christmas Day as the son of a key leader behind one such event in Agra last week was arrested. “I have instructed all districts under this (Aligarh) division to enforce prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC. We are not going to allow the conversion camp proposed on December 25. All steps are being taken to stop this,” Aligarh range DIG Mohit Agarwal said today. The order, which bars gatherings of more than four persons, will also cover the neighbouring Hathras, Etah and Kashganj districts. The areas, like Aligarh town, have an overwhelming minority population. The Dharma Jagran Samanway Vibhag, a Sangh offshoot, has announced plans to “reconvert” 5,000 Christians and Muslims. Uttar Pradesh BJP MPs, Yogi Adityanath of Gorakhpur and Satish Gautam of Aligarh, have said they will preside over the programme. Adityanath has accused the Aligarh administration and media of presenting a “distorted perception” of the plans. “People are willing to reconvert in our programme we call ghar wapsi (homecoming). The event will happen as scheduled and I will be there.” Vidyaram Pandey, an Aligarh RSS leader, slammed the curbs clamped today. “This is a programme for forging unity among Hindus. How can the police ban it? We will go ahead and hold it.” The showdown signals came even as the hunt for Kishore Valmiki, the leader alleged to be behind the Agra conversions and associated with the Jagran Vibhag, continued. Valmiki’s son Rahul and an RSS activist, Krishna Kumar, were arrested last night from Etah on charges of trying to organise more conversion camps, the police said. (The Telegraph 15/12/14)

COMMUNALISM

74. Oppn targets govt over conversion in Agra: ‘Bid to impose Hindutva agenda’ (26)

New Delhi: The opposition parties on Wednesday targeted the BJP and RSS in both Houses of Parliament over alleged forced conversion of 57 Muslim families in Agra and accused the government of following the Hindutva agenda, a charge rejected by BJP ministers. Soon after Rajya Sabha met in the morning, BSP chief Mayawati raised the issue, saying the Bajrang Dal — an offshoot of RSS —indulged in forced conversions in Agra earlier this week. “Secularism is part of the Constitution… they are violating the basic tenets. BJP has a hand in it,” she said. The BSP chief found immediate support from members of Congress, JD(U), Trinamool Congress and other opposition parties. Minister of State for Parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said no party has a “monopoly” over secularism, and according to information available with the government, an FIR has been registered in connection with the matter. Expressing shock over the issue, CPI’s D Raja said attempts were being made to impose the Hindutva agenda on everybody. “It’s a conscious attempt to impose the Hindutva agenda on everybody… The state government should take serious note and the (Union) Home Ministry must take serious note of this and they must act accordingly to uphold the basic values of the Constitution,” he said. CPM’s Sitaram Yechury said the re-conversions were a ploy to vitiate the environment before Christmas. “The RSS chief has gone on record to say that for the first time they have got control of the central government (and) so, will pursue their agenda of transforming the secular, democratic Indian republic into their version of a rabidly intolerant fascist nation. That is what you see in practice,” Yechury said. Congress’s Anand Sharma said government should be directed to give a response. “This is a diabolic agenda of BJP and RSS,” he said. In the Lok Sabha, Trinamool Congress MP Sultan Ahmed and SP members raised the issue, as they sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention. At least 200 people from 57 families, mostly slum dwellers, were reportedly re-converted to Hinduism at a ceremony organised by Dharma Jagran cell of RSS and Bajrang Dal in the cantonment area of Agra on December 8. Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu later said “conversion and reconversion, if forced, is wrong”. He said, “There should be no conversion either through force or inducement.” He said the controversy was “an attempt to malign the government (at the Centre). It is an old card (of BJP’s opponents), which has failed in the past.” Law and order, he said, “is a state subject”, implying that the onus for taking any action, if needed, was on the Samajwadi Party government in UP. … (Indian Express 11/12/14)

75. ‘Love jihad’ is conversion ploy: VHP (26)

SANGAREDDY: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) opposes religious conversions and “love jihad” is only meant to convert people to Islam, its international working president Praveen Togadia said on Thursday. Addressing a ‘Virat Hindu Sammelan’ here on the occasion of the VHP completing 50 years of its existence, Dr. Togadia expressed the fear that Hindus could become ‘minorities’ in the next 100 years if they did not stop religious conversions. He called upon people to eradicate the caste system and urged them to dine with SCs and STs so that the latter would not feel alienated. He accused Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao of following in the footsteps of the erstwhile Hyderabad ruler, the Nizam, and found fault with him for promising quota for minorities.  (The Hindu 12/12/14)

76. VHP reconverted 6,000 people to Hinduism in 5 years (26)

Mumbai: While reconversion drives organised by Sangh Parivar offshoots for Muslims and Christians had fueled much controversy and caused an uproar in Parliament, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) claims to have organised such ghar vapasi (homecoming) rites for around 6,000 converts in Maharashtra in the last five years. A senior VHP leader told dna that most of the people who had been reconverted to Hinduism were Christians as Muslims were comparatively “tougher nuts to crack”.”We have managed to reconvert around 6,000 people to Hinduism. At the national level, around 7 lakh people have been brought back into the fold in 20 years,” he said, while denying claims that threats and inducements were used to do this. He added that areas which have a high concentration of tribals, including those who have been proselytised to Christianity, see such activity. “Reconversions happen wherever we have sampark programmes. This is not a one-day process. At times, it may even take up to 10 years to reconvert a Muslim to Hinduism,” the VHP leader said, adding that this consisted of telling Muslims about their Hindu roots and about their ancestors being Hindus. “We convince them that their traditions and culture are rooted in Hinduism,” he said, adding that in case the family or individual is convinced, a shuddhikaran (purification) process is undertaken through priests. “After the purification rites, their names are changed and the priests and other people are witnesses to the ceremony. This is published in the gazette and they are given a legal certificate,” the leader added. However, the organisation’s leaders refuse to admit that many of these conversions of middle and lower castes from Hinduism to other faiths have historically been a fallout of the rigid caste system.The VHP leader said that after the reconversion, they took care to ensure that the converts gradually assimilate into Hindu society and were accepted there. The VHP leader said that they were however not planning to hold large programmes where such reconversions would take place. “This happens at the local level. We avoid publicity as this will lead to pressure on prospective converts from their co-religionists. So, we have to consider the security of the family even after they are brought back into Hinduism,” he added. “These people are like a daughter-in-law who has come into a new household. She will take time to adjust with new family members. Though they were originally Hindus, they were converted to other denominations hundreds of years ago. So, we organise various programmes where they are invited to Satyanarayan mahapuja and haldi kumkum for women. At times, they are asked to organise these rites,” he claimed, adding, “This helped them feel at home. Otherwise, they will feel abandoned once they became Hindus.” “Since many Muslim girls also marry Hindu boys, these women are also converted to Hinduism,” the VHP leader said. (DNA 14/12/14)

77. Vishwa Hindu Parishad for anti-conversion law (26)

Mumbai: Adding more fuel to ongoing controversy over religious conversions, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Praveen Togadia on Sunday pitched for an anti-conversion law to prevent Hindus from being converted to other religions. However, defending conversion to Hinduism, he said that the forefathers of Christians and Muslims in India were Hindus. Mr Togadia was speaking at the Virat Hindu Sammelan organised by the VHP. Held at Bandra-Kurla Complex, the meeting was also attended by religious leaders and gurus from the Jain and Buddhist faiths. BJP leaders Vidya Thakur, MLAs Mangalprabhat Lodha and Ashish Shelar and MP Gopal Shetty were also present for the programme. Questioning what was wrong in recent controversial conversion at Agra, Mr Togadia asked why there was no support for an anti-conversion law, specially referring to Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. “They said the conversion at Agra was wrong. But what was wrong in that, Mulayamji? If it were wrong, then come forward and support the anti-conversion law. We will not allow any Hindu to be converted,” Mr Togadia said. Reiterating the VHP’s stand on the Ram temple issue, Mr Togadia said, “We will build the Ram temple. The Hindus will not get their honour back until it is built.” All the Hindu leaders present including the Shankaracharya laid stress on the issue and expressed expectation that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would initiate it. Mr Togadia, however, softened his stand on backward castes and Dalits. “We do not believe in untouchability. We should eat together,” Mr Togadia said, indicating that the Hindu religion is acknowledging sections that have been deprived of their rights due to casteism. The programme managed to pull huge crowds. Sadhvi Saraswati grabbed attention by terming AIMIM’s Asaduddin Owaisi a “barking dog”. (Asian Age 15/12/14)

78.  ‘Hindutva’ in focus as BJP faces protests (26)

NEW DELHI: This is an apprehension that many BJP leaders discretely expressed at informal party deliberations when Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko stormed out of the National Democratic Alliance earlier this month. After a lull, Tamil parties seem to be taking up the issue of ‘Hindutva’ once again, probably as a reaction to the growing concern that the BJP is trying to gain a foothold in Tamil Nadu. While Mr. Vaiko listed the attempted imposition of ‘Hindutva’ ideology in the Dravidian heartland of Tamil Nadu as one of the primary reasons for leaving the alliance, the anti-BJP campaign gained traction on Wednesday with VCK leader and former MP, Thol. Thirumavalavan announcing a protest on December 23 against the alleged fascist Hindutva policies of the BJP government at the Centre. The protest date has been fixed in proximity to the visit of BJP national president Amit Shah to Chennai on December 20 and 21. Mr. Thirumavalavan listed a number of instances where the Centre was trying to impose a culture driven by ‘Hindutva’ on the rest of the country, including the recent controversy over announcing December 25 as ‘Good Governance Day.’ These were essentially anti-minority and anti-Dalit actions, he argued in a statement. A senior Tamil Nadu BJP leader said some in the alliance the party had put together for the Lok Sabha elections, including some Dravidian and Tamil nationalists groups, had kept in cold storage for a while usual accusations of ‘Hindutva’ against the party. “Since the alliance is changing shape and some have left, we were anticipating such a campaign,” the leader said. The party functionary also acknowledged need to articulate a strong reply to any such campaign. “We have a strong Union government focussing on development. We will focus on this,” the leader added. (The Hindu 18/12/14)

TERRORISM

79. No inputs to suggest Al-Qaeda, ISIS planning to target India- Government (12)

New Delhi: There are no intelligence inputs to suggest that Al-Qaeda and ISIS terror groups are working together to target Indian cities, Rajya Sabha was informed on Wednesday. Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary, however, said a video was uploaded on September 3, 2014 containing the speech of Sheikh Ayman Al-Zawahiri of Al-Qaeda, in which he announced the establishment of a new Wing of Al-Qaeda, namely ‘Al-Qaeda in Indian Sub-Continent’ (AQIS). It is learnt that Asim Umar and Usama Mehmood have been appointed as the ‘Amir’ (chief) and ‘spokesperson’ respectively of AQIS, he said. Chaudhary also said Abu Bakar Al-Baghdadi of ISIS in a video, uploaded on June 29, 2014 on internet, highlighted the alleged plight of Muslims in various countries including India and stated that rights of Muslims are forcibly being seized in these countries. “However, there are no intelligence inputs about specific threat to Bengaluru city by these two outfits,” he said. The Minister said there is a very close and effective coordination amongst intelligence agencies at the Centre and the state levels on intelligence sharing. The intelligence inputs about possible designs and threats are shared with the state governments concerned on a regular basis, he said. “The Multi Agency Centre has been strengthened and re-organised to enable it to function on 24×7 basis for real time collation and sharing of intelligence with other intelligence agencies and states, which ensures seamless flow of information between the state and the Central agencies. “This has resulted in busting of many terror modules, thus neutralising major terror attack plans. In addition, the Government continues to take all necessary steps to safeguard India’s territorial integrity and safety/security of its people,” Chaudhary said. (DNA 10/12/14)

80. ‘Mehdi Masroor Biswas extremely radicalised, believes beheading correct’ (12)

New Delhi: Mehdi Masroor Biswas, who is alleged to have been operating a pro-ISIS twitter account, has been dubbed by his interrogators as an extremely radicalised youth who believes that beheading of the “enemy” and making abducted women sex slaves was nothing wrong. The 24-year-old, who was arrested on December 13 in Bengaluru, told interrogators that he believed in the extreme form of Islam and that one day the so-called caliphate or Islamic State will come into existence in the world. “Mehdi described Indian Muslims as ‘sarkari Muslims’ who were incapable of fighting against government forces. He believes deeply that beheading of enemy and making abducted women sex slaves is nothing wrong,” official sources quoted the statement of the West Bengal-born youth. The electrical engineer-turned-jihadi propagandist, who was running the twitter handle ‘ShamiWitness’, told interrogators that since 2009, he has been following the political developments in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and became a ISIS sympathiser running a propaganda campaign for it. Mehdi said he was not aware of anybody joining ISIS and nor has he ever spoken to any fighter of the Islamic State with agencies now verifying those claims. He said that one of the three Mumbai youths who are still in Iraq-Syria is handling a pro-ISIS twitter handle and posting sympathetic tweets, sources said. Mehdi was apparently very hassled 4-5 days prior to his arrest and reportedly spoke to his mother, telling her that he was not sure about his future. Britain’s Channel 4 News had first aired the report regarding Mehdi’s link with the twitter account that is followed by foreign jihadis. Mehdi has been arrested under Sec 125 of IPC (whoever wages war against the government of any Asiatic power in alliance or at peace with the Government of India or attempts to wage such war, or abets the waging of such war), different sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Information Technology Act. (Zee News 15/12/14)

81. 132 children massacred in attack on school (12)

PESHAWAR: On a chilly winter day in Peshawar, parents rushed to prepare their children for their last journey before sunset. School uniforms with green blazers and grey flannel trousers soaked in blood were cut off from young bodies brought home, before they were bathed and wrapped in white burial shrouds and put into coffins, which then headed for the local graveyards. Tuesday was examination day at the Army Public School in Peshawar when six militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban stormed the premises and shot dead about 141 people, 132 of them students, going from classroom to classroom seeking their prey. Children who escaped saw their teacher being set on fire tied to her chair. As many as 250 lay wounded in a crime so heinous and horrific that within a few hours, most world capitals reached out to Islamabad. Clad in the steel grey shalwar kameez uniforms of the Frontier Corps, the militants entered the school around 10 a.m. via a graveyard at the back. Blowing up their vehicle, they sent a message that they were not returning. Survivors said the militants told them to recite prayers as they were going to be killed. (The Hindu 17/12/14)

82. Peshawar school attack among most inhuman acts (12)

New Delhi: The cold-blooded killing of more than one hundred school children by Pakistani Taliban gunmen in Peshawar on Tuesday must rank as one of the most inhuman acts of our times. If this is what jehad is supposed to mean, it is hard to tell how much support will remain for this Islamic notion at the people level in Pakistan after grisly Tuesday. Regrettably though, it is difficult to be sanguine that the Pakistani security establishment will at last learn a lesson and make an authentic and verifiable effort to cut at the sources of religious extremism and terrorism it has spawned over a period of decades- a richly documented fact. The track record holds out little expectation. Tears have been shed over the human toll taken by very serious incidents of terrorist violence inside Pakistan, but in a strategic sense the Pakistan military and its sinister departments have stayed with the idea of using extremism and terrorism as an instrument of state policy. India, and later Afghanistan, were made special targets under this policy. Although terrorists raised under the auspices of Pakistan’s military spooks were meant to do India-hunting to begin with, the natural dynamics inherent in that game turned that blighted country into the epicentre of world terrorism. There is hardly a major international incident that does not have some jehadi link with that country. While many in Pakistan have always been seriously concerned about extremism and terrorism that springs from it which was engulfing their society, they were numerically and politically not strong enough to challenge the Pakistani state, which is effectively controlled by the men in olive green. Some were co-opted. Not a few turned a blind eye, so long as Pakistan-trained terrorists hit India. Eventually, when the birds came home to roost, there was not much left to say, and the genie is now fully uncorked. In order to attract chiefly US funds to fill its military’s coffers, Pakistan from time to time advertises a bid to tame terrorists. An example of this is the zarb-e-azb campaign against the terrorists in Northern Waziristan, begun last June. It is to be seen if this will outlast the US military pullout from Afghanistan next door. Even Washington is likely to stop caring after that. The statement of the Pakistan foreign office on the hair-raising Peshawar attack spoke of the country’s resolve to root out terrorism “from the soil of Pakistan”. This can mean Pakistan’s terrorists may ply their trade elsewhere. In contrast, President Pranab Mukherjee spoke of the need for the world community to unite and coordinate efforts to root out terrorism from every country. This conspicuous difference underlines, above all, the mindset of the Pakistani establishment. (Asian Age 17/12/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

83. Two Maoists shot dead in Jharkhand jail, 10 escape (12)

Ranchi: Two hardcore Maoists were gunned down and three others suffered injuries when they tried to escape from Chaibasa jail while getting down from the prisoners’ van on Tuesday evening. Ten others, however, managed to flee. The incident took place in Chaibasa district, nearly 200 km from Ranchi. According to Jharkhand police sources, 54 prisoners were taken to a local court on Tuesday for their appearance before the judge. After returning to jail premises, the inmates were getting down from the police van when 15 prisoners tried to escape by throwing chilli powder in the eyes of the police. In the scuffle that followed, the jail guards fired on the escaping prisoners which led to the instant death of two Maoists. Three other prisoners, who sustained injuries, have been shifted to Sadar hospital where they are recuperating. The two killed have been identified as Tipa Das and Ram Vilas Tanti, both members of the CPI (Maoists). Meanwhile, as the news of the escape of 10 prisoners spread, the border of Chaibasa was sealed and a manhunt was launched. Since the incident took place at about 4:30 pm, police had very little time to look for the ultras in the dusk. Secondly, most of the Maoists lodged in Chaibasa jail have been apprehended from Saranda forest (the main hideout of  the ultras in Jharkhand), they are familiar with the difficult terrain and could make an easy escape.  “We have confirmed reports that two Maoists have been killed and three injured while trying to escape from Chaibasa jail. Ten others have managed to flee. The incident took place as the main gate of the jail was open after the prisoners’ van entered the jail premises. Prima facie, there appears to be a huge lapse on the part of the prison staff who left the gate open, thereby giving ample opportunity to the hardcore prisoners to flee,” said Jharkhand DGP Rajiv Kumar. (Deccan Herald 10/12/14)

84. Maoist attack: With officers killed, troops were in shock (12)

New Delhi: During the attack in Chhattisgarh on December 1, after the Maoists opened fire, the CRPF personnel tried to take cover wherever they could. The deputy commandant of the 223 Battalion B.S. Verma was badly injured in the first round of fire. Eyewitnesses say despite receiving a burst of fire on the right foot, he stood behind a tree on the other foot and kept firing at the Maoists. But he collapsed soon afterwards, probably due to excessive blood loss. Assistant commandant Rajesh Kapooria was also killed very early in the attack. With nobody in command, the troops, according to CRPF sources, became hysterical and began firing indiscriminately in all directions. It was so indiscriminate that the men are believed to have fired about 7,000 rounds of bullets in response to a few hundred rounds fired by the Maoists. With their ammunition exhausted, and several of their colleagues having died, many troops just stood motionless in a daze, revealed eyewitnesses. They were ultimately saved by CoBRA commandos who pulled them out and offered first aid to the injured. (The Hindu 13/12/14)

85. Jharkhand police arrest Maoist commander from Latehar district (12)

Latehar: The Jharkhand police along with the help of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on Saturday nabbed a Sub Zonal Commander of the Naxal organization BKP (Maoist) from Kurund village of the Manika region in Jharkhand. “He (Maoist commander) was sub-zonal commander & an active member, his arrest is big achievement for this area,” Latehar Superintendent of Police Michael S Raj told ANI. The SP further said, “He was wanted for his involvement in 8 cases, he has confessed that Maoism is weakening over the time.” He added that the operation to arrest Santosh Khervar was carried out based on the intelligence input from security agencies. “We have arrested Santosh Khervar, who was a sub zonal commander and an active member of the Maoists. He was arrested from the residence of his friend,” Raj said. “Khervar was arrested with 25 rounds of SLR bullets, six mobile phones, 13 sim cards, around Rs. 27,000 cash and some Maoist receipts. He was an active member [of the BKP] and was wanted by the police in eight cases,” he added. Police made the arrest amidst voting was under way in the state. Fourth phase of the Assembly Elections took place in Jharkhand today at 5,482 booths, including 36 auxiliary ones. The state police on Thursday had arrested Naxal leader and alleged mastermind of Jharkhand jailbreak Sanjay Ganju, who carried a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head. As per reports, Jharkhand fared as the state with the highest incidence of Naxal violence in the first quarter of this year. (Zee News 14/12/14)

86.  ‘Cheyutha’ to wean away youth from naxals (12)

TADVAI (WARANGAL DT.): With a view to wean away youth from naxals, the district police organised a mass contact programme in Medaram forest area where the DIG and SP reached out to hundreds of tribals here on Sunday. At a special programme termed as ‘Cheyutha’ the DIG, B Malla Reddy and SP, AK Jha distributed woollen blankets to over 300 Gothi Koya tribals and volleyball kits and dresses to more than 100 youths besides rice and other essentials to the parents of underground cadre. They also organised a mega health camp involving 13 doctors and about 50 para medical staff. The parents of present top cadre of Maoist party – Bathukamma, mother of Bade Chokka Rao alias Damodar of Kaluvapalli village; Dhanlaxmi wife of Eruva Siva Reddy alias Kiran; Yakamma sister-in-law of Kummarikuntla Saraiah; Sammaiah father of Koyyada Sambahaiah alias Gopanna and Satyam, father of Kadari Sadavali attended the programme. They expressed their desire to their relatives to surrender and come home. Wailing relentlessly, Satyam appealed to his son Kadari Sadavali who has gone underground since 16 years. “Your mother is about to die. You come home before she dies,” he said crying inconsolably. DIG Malla Reddy said the tribals need not worry about their safety as the police were always with them. He said the present State government was bent on developing all the tribal hamlets and improve their standard of living. “If your hamlet is free from violence, more development will come. If you entertain anti-social elements, development will not come. You cooperate with the police and they will ensure peace and law and order,” he told the hundreds of Gothi Koya tribals who came from over 30 habitations in forest belt. Mulug DSP R Mahendra Naik , SB Inspetor Jani Narasimhulu were present. (The Hindu 15/12/14)

87. Are the police losing ground in Warangal? (12)

WARANGAL: Is Warangal police losing their ground that they had built up working over a decade against the Moaist party naxals? The police say they had information that there was some movement of armed naxals in Eturunagaram and Tadvai forest areas of late. Nearly 400 greyhounds police fan the entire forest tracts extending from the hamlets abutting forest and extending upto villages in Karimnagar district and those of neighbouring Chhattisgarh State. According to the top police officials, hundreds of Gothi Koya tribals who migrated from Chhattisgarh state due to ongoing naxal activity there have raised settlements in deep forests of Eturunagaram and Tadvai and other agency mandals in Warangal district. In the recent past, some naxal squads moved into the forest here trying to establish contact with these Gothi Koya. “The naxals are in desperation to recruit new cadre. These Gothi Koya youth are easy targets to them. The naxals try to exploit their innocence and raise their own shelters here,” said a police officer. From the height of a blast here and an encounter there a decade ago, the Warangal police and the naxals lost their cadre to gain ground. It was the police who gained upper hand and succeeded in driving away the naxal groups from district. Though the police maintained that they were on vigil despite migration of naxal groups from district into other parts of the country, particularly to Chattisgarh on the other side of river Godavari, the latest information about the movement of armed squads is giving the police sleepless nights. Superintendent of Police Mr AK Jha said they got information that some naxals were moving in the forest in district and were trying to establish contacts with the migrant Gothi Koya population. We have new outposts all along the river Godavari keeping a watch on Maoists trying to cross into district. We have made many sacrifices to gain the ground and we are fully prepared to retain it,” Mr Jha asserted. (The Hindu 17/12/14)

TRAFFICKING

88. Minor Girl’s Kidnap Bid Foiled, Auto Driver Held (1)

BHUBANESWAR: A 28-year-old auto-rickshaw driver was arrested by the Commissionerate Police on charges of kidnapping a minor girl on Wednesday. The accused was identified as Sushant Palei of Fatehgarh in Nayagarh district. Sources said the girl, who had come to enroll in a private college here, boarded Sushant’s auto and asked him to drop her at Baramunda bus stand. Instead of taking her to the destination, Sushant diverted the vehicle towards Mendhasal area midway. Realising that the driver was treading an unfamiliar path, the girl jumped out of the vehicle and raised an alarm. Few locals spotted the girl and rescued her. They also caught Sushant who was trying to flee from the spot and handed him over to the police. Jatni police registered a case on the basis of the statements of the victim and eye-witnesses. Sushant was booked under Sections 323, 363 and 364 and Section 8 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. He was later produced in a local court which remanded him to judicial custody. (New Indian Express 11/12/14)

89. Made-in-Bihar bride shocker – Predators find new ways to lure girls into trafficking (1)

Katihar: Draupadi, one of the panchakanyas (group of five iconic heroines from Hindu epics), lived a life of dignity. But The Telegraph found a Draupadi whose life was exactly the opposite. The only time this avatar of Draupadi, Sadia (name changed), saw happiness was when she was leading a peaceful life with her six sisters and younger brother in Devipur, a village in Kursela block of Katihar district, 320km north of Patna. Her father worked at a factory in Gujarat to make ends meet. And then, in 2011, she got married. Her mother’s sister approached them with what looked like a handsome proposal, from a 33-year-old man in Panipat, Haryana. He looked just like the man who would complete her happy childhood. Sadia, then 17, was married off. She led a happy life as a newlywed for a couple of months. Then, one night, she found her husband’s younger brother in her bedroom. She was forced to share her bed with him, then another brother-in-law, gradually each of her four brothers-in-law, then her father-in-law. Soon, it was a new face everyday. Under the respectable garb of marriage, Sadia’s aunt had sold her off into sex trade. Sadia managed to escape but by then her life was shattered. Earlier this year, a remark by a BJP leader from Haryana about bringing brides from Bihar had led to a ruckus in the Bihar Assembly. JDU legislators had blocked House proceedings for three days, alleging that the BJP was out to malign women and girls from Bihar. But a visit to the Seemanchal area near the porous border with Nepal would open one’s eyes to the life of ignominy that most girls are condemned to because of rampant trafficking of girls for marriage and sex. Girls from Purnea, Katihar, Araria and Kishanganj, among others in northeastern Bihar, are soft targets. Bhoomika Vihar’s latest survey – of which a report has been submitted to the state government – says over 550 girls were trafficked in the past 36 months. There has been an 8-10 per cent increase in trafficking of girls for sex in northeastern Bihar. Of 564 trafficked girls, 438 were unmarried and 126 married. A total of 288 girls were trafficked from Kishanganj, 85 from Purnea, 72 from Araria and 74 from Katihar. Around 140 girls are yet to be traced. While the figures are alarming, they still do not reveal the shock that lies in the trend. Human trafficking has now taken the shape of pseudo love affairs and marriages, of which Sadia was a victim. Pseudo marriages take place to camouflage the ultimate goal of trafficking for cheap labour, prostitution and organs. Narrating her ordeal, a teary-eyed Sadia said: “My husband told me that my mother’s sister accepted a bundle of notes for my marriage. I was sold. He used to give me electric shocks if I resisted. I was attacked with a sharp object on my right leg (she shows the stitch mark). I overheard that my in-laws were planning to sell me off to a rich man in the adjoining village. I managed to escape and returned to my village.” Then, there’s Sonam (name changed), one of five daughters and a son in a family at Salempur village of Sameli block of Katihar district. From a poor family, Sonam’s mother worried how to arrange dowry and marry off her daughters. So, it looked like a godsend when someone approached her with a proposal for a dowry-free marriage with a good-looking boy. Sonam, then 12, married a 30-year-old man from Shripur. Her honeymoon did not even begin. Just the day after her wedding she raised her voice against domestic violence. She, too, had been trafficked for sex slavery. ….  (The Telegraph 12/12/14)

90. 26 trafficked girls brought home to Ranchi (1)

RANCHI: Two days after Kailash Stayarthi received the Nobel Peace Prize for his contributions in the field of child trafficking, as many as 26 girls from different districts of Jharkhand who were trafficked to New Delhi returned to their families here on Friday. Rescued in a joint effort by New Delhi Police and Bharatiya Kisaan Sangh, the girls were brought back to Ranchi on Friday and reunited with their families. Hailing from Gumla, Simdega, Bokaro, Chaibasa, East and West Singbum, Sahibganj, Khunti districts, the girls, mostly in their early teens, were rescued last month from torture and oppression by their employers who had employed them as their domestic help. Once rescued, the girls were placed in a week-long transit camp before being brought back to their homes. Pramod Kumar Sharma, the state in charge of Bharatiya Kisaan Sangh (BKS) said most of the rescued girls were habitually beaten up by their employers. “Most of them were not paid and were subjected to torture,” he added. BKS members claimed to have helped four girls procure rupees four lakh as their outstanding wages and cases were lodged against the employers. Rescuers said the girls will be put through a counselling session before they will be inducted into government schools for higher education. (Times of India 13/12/14)

91. Global human trafficking racket busted in Hyderabad (1)

HYDERABAD: Police, on Sunday, busted an international human trafficking racket and rescued two women from Barkas in Old City. Two persons were arrested. The two victims rescued by Chandrayangutta police, were reportedly sexually exploited by their employers from Abu Dhabi, who also made them clean toilets with bare hands and cut tons of onions as a form of soft punishment. The arrested have been identified as Imtiyaz, 35, and his mother Fatima, while the victims were a 29-year-old housewife from Barkas and her 32-year-old cousin from Rakshapuram Colony. Both the women have two children each and the income earned by their alcoholic husbands was not sufficient to run the family, South Zone DCP V Satyanarayana said. As the women were looking for means to support their families, Fatima approached them with a job offer in Abu Dhabi. She told them that through her son Imtiyaz, who had provided employment to scores of people from Old city in Gulf countries, she could find them lucrative jobs as domestic helps in Abu Dhabi for a paltry down payment and a monthly commission in the earnings. “The victims who believed Fatima borrowed money at a high interest and paid her Rs 1 lakh each to go to Abu Dhabhi. Fatima told them that they will be able to send home Rs 30,000 per month,” Chandrayangutta additional inspector S Raghavendra said. On November 11, the two women boarded a flight at RGIA and reached Abu Dhabi, where they were received by their employer. After they started working, within no time the two women realised that they had to do a lot more than performing the traditional duties of a domestic help. “The women were sexually exploited not just by their employer, but even by his guests in a brutal manner. The victims were beaten up when they resisted,” Raghavendra added. Apart from this abuse, the employer used to make the victims clean toilets, including commodes, with bare hands. “Unable to bear the humiliation, when we finally mustered courage and protested saying that we came to Abu Dhabhi to do household work, the employer made us cut sacks of onions continuously as punishment,” one of the victims told police. Unable to bear the torture, the 32-year-old woman fell ill and had to be hospitalised. She was then sent back to Hyderabad by the employer on December 1. After reaching the city, she approached police and narrated the horrid tale. Cops immediately swung into action and picked up Imtiyaz. Through him, they managed to convince the employer in Abu Dhabhi to send the second victim to Hyderabad on Sunday. “We have recorded the statements of both victims on Sunday and arrested the brokers under Sections 420, 384 of IPC and relevant sections of PITA,” the DCP said. (Times of India 15/12/14)

CORRUPTION

92. Bar pay-off case: VACB for probe (5)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) on Wednesday received fresh legal advice that a criminal inquiry might be necessary to establish the truth in what has come to be known as the ‘bar hotel licence renewal pay-off case.’ The VACB legal adviser attached to the special court in Thiruvananthapuram is learnt to have communicated the recommendation to the agency’s investigating officer. VACB director Vinson M. Paul is likely to take a call on the matter in a few days, possibly after further consultations with legal experts and the government. The agency is conducting a verification of the contentious and politically explosive allegation that Finance Minister K.M. Mani had sought and accepted a secret pay-off from businessmen to renew the permits of bar hotels closed in April this year on the ground that they were substandard and barely met licence conditions. It has recorded the statements of several persons, including Kerala Bar Hotels’ Association (KBHA) working president Biju Ramesh who claimed that he was privy to the alleged pay-off purportedly made to the Minister at his private residence. Some hoteliers who Mr. Biju claimed were present at the time have not yet heeded the agency’s summons. (The Hindu 11/12/14)

93. Cabinet clears amendments to Lokpal Act (5)

New Delhi: The union cabinet Wednesday gave its approval for amending the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013 to provide for inclusion of leader of largest opposition party in Lok Sabha in the selection panel in case there was no recognised leader of opposition in the house. The cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also approved amendments to Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946 for providing qualifications for appointment of director of prosecution in the Central Bureau of Investigation and for his functional independence. The cabinet also gave its approval for introducing a bill in parliament for amending the Lokpal Act. An official release said the proposed amendments will address some crucial deficiencies noticed in both the Acts. “As regards the composition of the selection committee for selection of the chairperson and members of Lokpal, by providing that when there is no leader of opposition in the house of the people, recognized as such, the expression ‘leader of opposition; shall include the leader of the largest party in opposition of the government in the Lok Sabha,” it said. “The amendments seek to synchronise the provisions of the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act with the existing regulating acts, rules and regulations in respect of declaration of assets and liabilities by various categories of public servants. The proposed amendments will, also ensure functional independence to the director of prosecution under the DSPE Act,” it said. (New Kerala 11/12/14)

94. To fight corruption, we have to fight our greed: CBI chief (5)

New Delhi: Gullible investors get trapped in ponzi schemes because of their own “greed”, CBI chief Anil Sinha said on Saturday on the scam in which an estimated 25 lakh people have lost deposits in West Bengal and Odisha alone. “They (investors in ponzi schemes) are not suffering because CBI is not investigating these cases. They are suffering because of other reasons,” he said. The CBI chief was asked whether he would like a policy where the agency is allowed to take up probe cases of ponzi scam in which majority of investors come from poor and lower middle class sections rather than wait for state governments. “If we have to fight corruption in this country, there is a fundamental requirement that we have to fight our greed. When gullible people get trapped in such schemes, they are trapped because of their own greed…If we have to fight corruption, we have to have control on ourselves,” he said at the Aaj Tak Agenda. The 1979-batch IPS officer, who took charge of the agency on December 3, said he would not like to interfere in the work of other agencies who are mandated to probe such cases. Mr. Sinha said all the steps taken in the case are based on the available “facts and evidence”. “…We have to work as per mandate given to us. There should be not interference,” the CBI chief said. The apex court had observed that more than 25 lakh claims have been received in Odisha and West Bengal which is indicative of the magnitude of scam in terms of number of citizens that were “defrauded by the ponzi companies”. He said he has directed his officers to work without fear and total impartiality without thinking about consequences and also ensuring that “unnecessary harassment” should be avoided. Indicating that information on investigations will not come out easily in the open, Mr. Sinha said, “I strongly believe that very little information about investigations should come in public domain. Things which should not be in public domain, should not be in public domain at all. I can understand the curiosity of people but I cannot help that. There are very few things which we can put in public domain”. (The Hindu 13/12/14)

95. Kerala Finance Minister faces fresh corruption charges (5)

CPI (M)-led Opposition on Tuesday raised fresh corruption charges against Kerala Finance Minister K M Mani, who is already facing Vigilance probe into the allegation that he had taken bribe to renew bar license. Opposition legislator V Shivankutty alleged that Mani, chairman of Congress ally Kerala Congress (M), had taken bribe of Rs 27.43 crore from various business verticals to reduce their tax. Placing materials to substantiate his charges, Shivankutty said an Assembly panel should probe into the issue. He said Mani used to raise the tax in the budget and then bargain with businessmen to reduce the tax proposals. The minister has taken Rs 5 crore from builders and another Rs 2 crore from stone quarrying units. Besides, he had taken Rs 6.40 crore from various business sectors promising to give stay on revenue recovery. He also took money from bakery owners and petroleum dealers to help them enjoy the benefits of lower tax regime, said the CPI (M ) legislator. The Opposition boycotted the assembly proceedings on Tuesday also after the Speaker denied permission to move adjournment motion on bar bribery issue, which has repeatedly disrupted the current assembly session. (Indian Express 17/12/14)

96. Rs 7 crore fake loot case: Woman inspector, two others caught for graft in Junagadh (5)

RAJKOT: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) arrested three persons including a woman police sub-inspector of Junagadh for allegedly taking bribe in the sensational Rs 7 crore fake loot case. The ACB team from Rajkot nabbed Shahnavaz Bloch red-handed taking Rs 2.50 lakh from complainant Nathubha Jadeja, a resident of Nani Marad village in Dhoraji taluka of Rajkot district. Bloch allegedly took the bribe on behalf of woman police sub-inspector B M Bagda posted at the Junagadh taluka police station and constable Jignesh Vyas. Bloch, the middle-man was caught at the taluka police station compound in Junagadh. Jadeja had lodged a complaint with ACB that Bagda had demanded Rs 7 lakh from him in lieu of “not harassing him” in the ongoing investigation in the fake loot case of October this year. “Bagda used to repeatedly call Jadeja for investigation citing discrepancies in land documents that he had submitted,” said an official. In October, Junagadh police cracked the Rs 7 crore loot case which turned out to be fake and arrested the accused involved in the crime. Jadeja had sold his 56 bigha land in Nani Marad to one Sanjay Dhorajiya at the price of Rs 11 lakh per bigha. The deal was struck through two persons – Dhorajiya’s associate Bhura Hingroja and another person named Jamal. Dhorajiya had purchased 56 bigha land from Nathubha Jadeja in January this year at the price of Rs 11 lakh per bigha through Jamal and Hingroja. He had paid Rs 1.65 crore to Jadeja as initial money (baana) before the deal was sealed. Jamal and Hingroja also got land broking fees from it. Jamal and Hingroja had decided to extract more money from Dhorajiya and created a fake person named Ada Sheth. They told Dhorajiya that Sheth was from Mumbai and is willing to purchase this same land at Rs 17 lakh per bigha. On October 8, four persons intercepted the car in which Jadeja was travelling with Hingroja, Jamal and Karim to seal the deal. They pushed away Dhorajiya and Hingroja and kidnapped Jamal and Karim. Karim, who was acting as Rao, had even prepared a bag stacked with bundles of paper beneath and notes on the top. Jamal and Hingroja had hired the four men to intercept the car when it would pass near Ambaliya village to create a loot story. Moreover, they also left behind Hingroja and Dhorajiya to show the loot as genuine. (Times of India 17/12/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

97. Swachh Bharat: Just 20% of urban waste gets treated properly (9)

New Delhi: India’s pollution watchdog the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has woken up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat call and has asked states to ensure that all waste generated in cities is properly disposed off. The move comes after the National Green Tribunal pulled up the board for failing to enforce the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000 that provides for proper segregation and disposal of the waste generated in cities.  This will prove a challenge for over 5,000 municipal bodies in India as only 27,000 tonnes of 1.44 lakh tonnes of garbage generated daily gets properly treated. Only about 40% of the garbage generated every day is picked up. “Many of the urban local bodies do not have capacity to treat so much waste,” a senior pollution board official said, adding that funding for the waste treatment projects was minuscule. A CPCB report submitted to the green tribunal pointed out that many of the state pollution control boards have failed to submit status reports on implementation of the rules since 2000 when it was notified – resulting in a limited amount of the information required by the CPCB to enforce the rules brought by the previous NDA government to ensure cleanliness in cities through a house-to-house collection mechanism. The report shows that even after 15 years, many state governments have failed to introduce the house-to-house collection system – which is implemented by Gujarat, Goa and Himachal Pradesh. Following the NGT rap, the CPCB issued a notification under the Water Act and Air Act making municipal bodies responsible for implementing the rule and made state pollution control nodal offices for monitoring the implementation of a roadmap for implementation of the rules. The road map will then be submitted to the green tribunal for further directions, CPCB officials said. (Hindustan Times 10/12/14)

98. Himalayan states discuss climate change (9)

New Delhi: Climate change and the bulging population are reasons for the rising temperature in Himalayan states, BJP leader Anurag Thakur said Thursday as nine Himalayan states discussed the issue. “If apple orchards have moved upwards in height and there is an increase of 4-5 degrees in temperature, the reason must be seen in population increase and climate change,” he said at the conclave of Himalayan states here. The regional consultation organised by GLOBE-India in association with Indian Environment Law Offices and Integrated Mountain Initiative focused on the effects of climate change in the region and explored ways to mitigate it. The representatives of the nine Himalayan states also demanded a special ministry for Himalayan affairs, said a statement. (Zee News 12/12/14)

99. Activists hail NGT intervention in loss of Sunderbans forest (9)

Kolkata: Environmental activists and experts have welcomed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order issued earlier this week directing submission of satellite remote sensing data on the loss of mangrove forest in the Indian Sunderbans. “Leave is granted to respondent no’s 3, 4 and 6 to file additional affidavit disclosing the loss of forest area with regard to felling of mangrove vegetation during the last decade, if any, based on the satellite remote sensing data,” the order of tribunal said. The respondent 3, 4 in the case refer to secretaries of Department of Environment and Forests, Government of West Bengal respectively, while respondent number 6 is Sunderbans Local Development Authority. In its order the tribunal has directed National Remote Sensing Agency at Hyderabad to “submit aerial and satellite remote sensing data with its analysis on loss of mangrove forest during last decade in the Indian Sunderbans on the next date of hearing”. Welcoming the tribunal’s intervention in the matter Ajanta Dey, joint secretary and project director of Nature Environment and Wildlife Society, said that large parts of the forest cover of the Sunderbans outside the tiger reserve is being cleared for making fisheries encroachment. Ms. Dey said that the felling of forest is a handiwork of few locals who are doing so under political patronage. Commenting on the tribunal’s order Tuhin Ghosh, faculty member of the school of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University said that large parts of Sunderban forest is being cleared for farming, fisheries and other activities. Mr. Ghosh also pointed that forest are cut also for fire woods as almost all the schools in the Sunderbans delta use fire wood for cooking mid-day meal. Meanwhile, speaking to The Hindu environmental activists Subhas Datta, who has been appointed Amicus Curie in the matter, said that he also brought it to the attention of the tribunal that environmental impact assessment (EIA) should be made necessary before giving clearance to any major investment proposal in the ecologically vulnerable region. “The tribunal directed me to file an application in this regard,” Mr. Datta added. The development comes at time when the West Bengal Government is trying to rope in industrialists for taking up several projects in the ecologically fragile Sunderbans archipelago. (The Hindu 12/12/14)

100. ‘Lima held no hope for an India facing extreme weather patterns’ (9)

New Delhi: The recently-concluded climate change talks in Lima failed to catalyze any optimism for the next round at Paris 2015, signalling little hope for India that is already reeling under extreme weather patterns, experts said. Time is of essence for India that ranked among top 20 in the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) about countries most at risk from extreme weather events, the experts told IANS. Effects of climate change are already evident in India, environmentalist Rajendra Shende told IANS. Increased intensity, increased number, and increased frequency of erratic weather patterns are crucial indicators, he said. Eight out of the ten warmest years in India were between 2001 and 2010, making it the warmest decade on record, said Arjuna Srinidhi who is managing the climate change programme at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). “Here is a higher frequency of warm years in the recent past which is why we are saying there is global warming, the biggest contributor to climate change,” he added. Short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as soot and methane that emanate from the large-scale crop burning in north India are cooking the Himalayas along with global warming that is causing the glacial retreat and a rapid surge in the Himalayan river systems. A skewed water table in the Himalayan region could potentially affect about four billion people in India, China, Bangladesh, and other neighbouring countries, said Shende who heads the Terre Policy Centre. Even a one-metre surge in the sea level due to a three-degree Celsius rise in the global temperature would be enough to cause significant climate-induced changes in the coastal regions of India and the neighbouring countries. ‘Climate refugee’ is a potential threat that India must account for, said environment activist Raghunandan. Countries like Bangladesh will be worst-hit by a surge in the sea level, resulting in large-scale displacement of people in the coastal region. And those displaced will take refuge in India, affecting as many as 10 million people in South Asia, he said. The arrival of the monsoon in northern and eastern India has also been affected by climate change. Raghunandan said he was worried at the drop in number of cold days and summers that have unusually long spells nowadays. “This is a trend that will only intensify,” he said. According to a study by the CSE, India experienced the entire spectrum of extreme weather conditions in the recent past. Frequent flash floods in Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar; successive cyclones like Hudhud in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha; and intense episodes of rainfall in typically dry/arid regions are sharp indicators of the presence of climate change in India. The heat waves in 2014 were above normal in parts of Rajasthan, Odisha and northeastern states the study said, adding that it claimed more than 500 lives in Andhra Pradesh with 169 people dying of intense heat wave in Hyderabad alone. As many as 73 reportedly died of sweltering summer heat in just seven days during June in Delhi this year, the study said. Terming global warming as an “atmospheric chaos”, Shende said it must be addressed to ward off the irreversible dangers that people may face in the future. (Business Standard 17/12/14)

101. ‘Clean India, Green India’ – NDA govt’s calendar for 2015 launched (9)

Delhi: Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley on Wednesday launched the Government of India’s calendar for 2015. Launching the calender Jaitley said that it “provided a platform for converging the two key flagship schemes of the government – Swachh Bharat and Digital India”. As per the official blog of Prime Minister Narendra Modi “the calendar combines the conventional and technological modes of communicating the initiatives of the government and while the theme of ‘Swachh Bharat’ was portrayed visually in the conventional mode, the mobile application of the calendar reiterated the government’s vision of taking the idea of ‘Digital India’ forward,” as per the Finance Minister. Jaitley said that the “digital version of calendar 2015 also reflected the vision of the government in taking forward the benefit of technology in information dissemination as no one could defy the growth and movement of technology.” He added that “Important information related to Government communication was embedded in the digital version thereby providing critical information to the people at large.” The Directorate of Advertisement and Visual Publicity, DAVP, has developed the digital version of the calendar with “socially relevant messages which would be accessible on real time basis through mobile phones”. Also, the “mobile app of the calendar would provide access to the latest tweets from the PMO, the YouTube channel of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, and the Press Releases on PIB website.” Plus, “in addition to being a window for all websites of Government of India, this informative application would serve as a planner to the users bringing news updates from AIR and DD News. The mobile app was developed for Android platforms initially which would be made available on other mobile platforms also in due course of time.” The blog said that the “calendar had been developed on the theme of “Clean India Green India” with focus on “Swachhta” and environment issues and the January page of the calendar displayed the launch of the “Swachh Bharat Mission by PM Modi.” Other pages are as follows – “The February page carried the message of ‘Swachh Vidyalaya’ and ‘Bal Swachhta Abhiyan’, the March page was designed on the theme, ‘Rejuvenating Rivers.’ The April Page of the Calendar portrayed “Clean Hospitals: A Healthy India,” May depicted the cleanliness drive of Railways, June focussed on Rejuvenation of the River Ganges, ‘Namami Gange’, and July on people’s participation in Swachh Bharat Movement. The August page was on the theme of Clean Villages; September month highlighted Solar Energy as clean and renewable source of energy; October depicted Wind Power as pollution free source of energy and November emphasized the need to preserve Himalayan Ranges. Wildlife conservation was the theme for the December month.” (Zee News 18/12/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

102. Farmers’ suicides: NCP targets Fadnavis govt. (20)

NAGPUR: The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) launched a scathing attack on the Fadnavis government on Wednesday over the spate of farmers’ suicides and the drought situation in the State. The NCP fielded senior party leaders in both the Houses of the State legislature to speak on the drought situation when the government relented on the Opposition’s demand for an immediate discussion. “Devendra Fadnavis’ small tenure as the Chief Minister has witnessed more farmers’ suicides than any other CM’s tenure before him. Over 400 farmers have committed suicide in the last two months in the State. You [BJP] are ruling at the Centre and in the State. What has stopped you from providing relief to the farmers?” asked NCP leader Ajit Pawar while demanding “waiver of debts” and “immediate relief package” to the drought-affected farmers. Taking a dig at BJP MLA Chinsukh Sancheti who opened the debate and blamed the previous “Congress-NCP government’s mismanagement” for farmers’ suicides, Mr. Pawar said: “Stop blaming us. We are sitting in the Opposition because we might have made some mistakes. We accept that. Do you want to commit the same mistakes? You won’t be able to rule if the farmers of this State take to the streets against you.” Senior NCP leader and former minister Chhagan Bhujbal claimed that the previous Congress-NCP government spent Rs. 14,000 crore to deal with the drought situation and provide relief to the farmers. “Not a single agriculture product is getting proper market price under the BJP-Shiv Sena government. What will the farmers do? Take steps and make sure the spate of suicides stops. Give confidence to the farmers,” said Mr. Bhujbal. Calling Mr. Fadnavis “a clever CM and a good planner,” he asked him to deliver on his poll promises. Citing Union Agriculture Minister’s statement in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday that the State had not declared drought, Mr. Bhujbal asked the government to come clear on the issue. In the upper House, NCP State president Sunil Tatkare and Dhanajay Munde slammed the government for “delay” in announcing help to the farmers. NCP leaders dominated the debate in both the Houses as senior Congress leaders, including former Chief Minister Prithivraj Chavan, did not take part in the proceedings. State Finance Minister Sudhir Manguntiwar said that the government would reply to the debate on Thursday. (The Hindu 11/12/14)

103. Rs 7000cr for farmer relief (20)

Nagpur, Dec. 11: The Maharashtra government today announced a Rs 7,000-crore package to provide short- and long-term relief to peasants across large parts of the state, particularly in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions that have been reeling under drought-like conditions. “My government is firmly behind the farmers in distress in parts of Maharashtra and a total of Rs 7,000 crore would be spent to tackle it,” chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced in the Assembly, replying to a debate on the biting scarcity in many of the state’s 48,000 villages. By the state’s estimates, over 19,000 villages have recorded crop losses of 50 per cent or more. Fadnavis said this year’s yields had been the lowest in a decade, an indication that farmers were facing an unprecedented cash crunch. Farm suicides across Vidarbha and Marathwada have been on the rise, according to reports, and the state’s new BJP chief minister said the situation needed to be tackled immediately. “But we also need to fix the problems over the long term by improving our agriculture infrastructure and productivity, which is what I intend to do,” Fadnavis said. The package includes an immediate relief of Rs 3,925 crore, of which a part would be funded through central assistance as and when it is received. Maharashtra has demanded an aid of about Rs 4,000 crore from the Centre to tide itself over the scarcity this year and the central aid would be announced once the Union government sends its own team to assess the final kharif (monsoon) and rabi (winter) yield. As immediate measures, the government would waive farmers’ electricity bills for September, October and November and repay Rs 373 crore worth of loans they have taken from nearly 4,500 licensed private moneylenders. Nearly five lakh farmers from the affected areas have taken such loans, Fadnavis said. The immediate relief component also includes Rs 884 crore for the horticulture sector spread across 2.45 lakh hectares, Rs 215 crore for payment of electricity bills, Rs 425 crore for water supply and Rs 163 crore for wells and private water bodies, he said. The state government has already initiated steps to check illegal moneylending, the chief minister said, and asked farmers to lodge complaints with police to curb such practices. Fadnavis said Rs 400 crore would be spent on tackling water shortage. Around 3,000 tankers will be deployed to supply water in drought-hit villages till the situation improves. The package lays thrust on local-sector irrigation, such as community ponds and check dams. Together, the state intends to spend more than Rs 6,000 crore over the next five years to achieve the ambitious target of bringing roughly six million hectares under protected irrigation. In the last five years, the state government had spent Rs 8,377 crore on giving compensation to farmers who had suffered because of natural calamities, such as drought-like conditions or incessant rain, but spent only Rs 2,692 crore on agriculture development programmes. The government will spend Rs 34,500 crore over the next five years on creating basic agriculture infrastructure, including finishing incomplete irrigation projects. “Instead of providing aid, we intend to end the drought,” Fadnavis said. The government estimates that farm loans worth over Rs 8,000 crore would remain unpaid by the end of this financial year. It will bear the interest burden on unpaid loans to the tune of Rs 450 crore. (The Telegraph 12/12/14)

104. ‘Short-duration crop varieties can help fight agriculture stress’ (20)

HYDERABAD: Farm scientists need to direct their research towards challenges like water scarcity, soil degradation and bio-diversity loss, say experts. Development of short-duration varieties which are resistant to both biotic and abiotic stress, without sacrificing on yield, will solve the problem, said J S Sandhu, Agricultural Commissioner, Union Ministry of Agriculture here yesterday. He was speaking at the national seminar on ‘Emerging challenges and opportunities in biotic and abiotic stresses in agriculture’ at the Directorate of Rice Research (DRR). Technologies like micro-irrigation, nano-technology and geographic information systems will help address the biotic and abiotic stress in agriculture, Sandhu said. Climate change is making Agriculture complex, he said. He recalled that ‘Bengal Famine’ due to brown spot disease in rice and more recently, destruction of cotton crop due to boll worm had resulted in destruction of farm economy. The decline in monsoon last year by 29 per cent resulted in short supply of foodgrains by 16 million tonnes which was colossal, he said. S K Patil, Vice-Chancellor of IGKV, Raipur, said stress in agriculture arises due to population growth, climate change and declining land holding size. He emphasised on the need to design and develop farmer-oriented natural resource management strategies to solve abiotic stress in agriculture, particularly in fragile ecosystems. A Padmaraju, Vice Chancellor of ANGRAU, Hyderabad, said abiotic stress is more prevalent in rainfed ecosystem, whereas biotic stress is more in irrigated ecosystem. If both the stresses are addressed, production of crops can be increased. In the US, there are only four million farmers whereas in states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana there are 13 million farmers altogether. This excessive number puts pressure on land and other natural resources, he said. DRR’s Director V Ravindra Babu said the Directorate is working out strategies to overcome the problems related to both biotic and abiotic stresses pertaining to rice. The research is prioritised to address problems arising out of water scarcity, climate change, shrinking land and other natural resources, he added. (The Economic Times 14/12/14)

105. Farmers protest, demand MSP for crop (20)

RAICHUR:  Around 400 farmers, led by the Janata Dal (Secular), protested in Manvi, about 50 km from here, on Monday demanding scientific minimum support prices for their agricultural produce. They raised slogans against the Union and the State governments for their “anti-farmer” policies and blocked State Highway 23, that connects Raichur with Sindhanur, Koppal, Gangavathi and other towns. “Both the Union and the State governments are playing with the lives of farmers who have been hit hard by natural calamities and the price crash. Almost half of the cotton has already been sold out at reduced prices and the governments are not sready to open procurement centres to purchase the crop at scientific minimum prices,” Raja Venkatappa Naik, a JDS leader said. It is because of these anti-farmer policies of the governments that farmers are committing suicides, he added. He demanded the minimum selling price of Rs. 2,000 for a quintal of paddy and Rs. 6,500 for a quintal of cotton. Their other demands included shifting the regional headquarter of Cotton Corporation of India from Hubballi to Raichur and compensating those farmers whose standing crop were destroyed in the unseasonal rain, those who lost their crop in the floods in July and August. (The Hindu 16/12/14)

106. Protest held over denial of monetary aid to farmers who committed suicide (20)

WARANGAL: Scores of farmers and relatives of those who committed suicides staged a protest demonstration at the district collectorate here on Wednesday under the aegis of Human Rights Forum. HRF state president S Jeevan Kumar, district general secretary Badavath Raju and OPDR state president M V Krishnaiah said as per the district crime records, a total of 140 farmers committed suicides this year alone. But only 15 cases were identified as eligible to receive monetary assistance as per the GM 421. They said if the State government wanted to achieve ‘Bangaru Telangana’ it should extend financial assistance to all the families of farmers who committed suicide. It should also initiate steps to prevent such occurrences in future, they opined. The HRF leaders alleged that the three-member committee constituted at divisional level has not visited all the families. Despite several representations, the district administration did not focus on identifying the genuine cases. (The Hindu 18/12/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

107. National Highways may get exemption from resettlement and rehabilitation policy (4)

NEW DELHI: The Indian government may exempt national highways from the resettlement and rehabilitation provisions of the much-criticised land acquisition law as it looks to revive road construction as part of its overall plan to reboot infrastructure development in the country. A senior government official said that highway development, which has come to a grinding halt because of various reasons, including the virtual impossibility of acquiring land to build roads on, is being considered for exemption from various procedural requirements of the Act. While the government is considering a general relaxation in some provisions of the Act, a special exemption is being considered for national highways. That’s because, unlike industries, road developers can’t promise rehabilitation in terms of providing jobs to land holders among other things.”We are ready to compensate even more than what the land acquisition Act asks for but it involves a very complex process which we can do away with since infrastructure is a priority,” the official told ET. Compensation for land would be based on the highways ministry’s own norms, with R&R not feasible in such projects. Besides roads, similar so-called linear projects in sectors such as railways could also be given such treatment. The Narendra Modi government, elected on a mandate to step up development, wants to upgrade and expand India’s creaking, congested infrastructure that’s seen as a hindrance to growth and speed up projects by removing procedural hurdles. It’s considering legal changes to facilitate this. The Land Acquisition Act introduced by the previous Congress led United Progressive Alliance government has drawn flak from multiple quarters including industry and state governments besides central ministries and departments. Congress-ruled states have also raised concerns over the cumbersome procedures prescribed by law that have halted land acquisition for infrastructure projects. In 2013-14, a total of 4,260 km of national highways were developed, down from 5,732 km the year before. As of October, only 1,984 km has been developed in the current fiscal year. The department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP) has also criticised the land acquisition law as an obstruction to development. Inter-ministerial consultations have already been initiated on the changes required, another official said. The government will also discuss the matter with political parties before amending the law.The new Act, which replaced the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, requires developers to get the consent of 80 per cent of land owners in the case of private projects and 70 per cent in case of public-private partnership projects. In order to fast track infrastructure development, roads minister Nitin Gadkari had said that bids would be called for highway projects only after 80 per cent of the land required had been acquired.”It will be helpful wherever there is a greenfield project because the land requirement will be significant,” said Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman, Feedback Infrastructure. (Times of India 10/12/14)

108. Supreme Court social justice bench hears PILs (4)

New Delhi: The newly-constituted special “Social Justice Bench” of the Supreme Court Friday had its first hearings and took up matters of Narmada dam project, shelters for homeless persons, welfare of construction workers and exploitation of children in circuses, among others. The special bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U.U. Lalit first took up the 2002 plea of Narmada Bachao Aandolan and asked parties, including NBA activist Medha Patkar, to file short synopsis by December 24 as it did not want to waste time going through records running into thousands of pages. “So all of you should have your brief ready on or before December 24. The time shall not be extended… We want the matter to be pushed…,” it said and fixed it for hearing on January 9. The court then heard a 2005 petition filed by Akhil Bhartiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram seeking welfare of tribals and asked the Centre to file a comprehensive affidavit on the issues arising out of the public interest litigation. This matter was followed by the hearing of a PIL on exploitation of children in circuses in which the Supreme court had banned their participation three years ago. After briefly hearing the issues arising in matters like child labour, child trafficking and child bondage, the bench directed the ministry of women and child welfare to act as a nodal agency and convene a meeting of secretaries concerned of states and Union Territories to ensure compliance of its directions. It also directed the secretary of Union ministry of women and child welfare to hold meetings with other Central ministries concerned like MHA and labour. The first meeting involving all the stakeholders should be convened before January 12, it said. (Asian Age 14/12/14)

109. Medha Supports ‘Nilpu Samaram’(4)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Activist Medha Patkar was in the city on Sunday to offer support to the lengthy ‘Nilpu Samaram’. “158 days of the standing satyagraha has been completed. It is shameful for the government of Kerala not to have resolved the issues in spite of there being a dialogue with the Tribal Development, Forest and Social Justice Ministers and the Chief Minister as well as KPCC chief V M Sudheeran and leaders of ruling parties,” she said. Medha said that she would be meeting Chief Minister Oommen Chandy later in the night with members of the National Alliance of People Movement and other activists to discuss the issue. “They are ‘Adivasis’, the original inhabitants and everyone else has come to encroach upon their land,” she said. “A K Antony, in dialogue with the then Central government led by A B Vajpayee, had committed to the Adivasis to give 5 acres of land per family, including to those who were displaced unjustly, unconstitutionally and undemocratically. But that did not come true after one or two years of implementing. Whatever enactment the UPA government brought out, whether the New Land Acquisition Act, Forest Rights Act 2006 or PESA, none has been fully implemented,” she said. She added, “While Sudheeran and his colleagues are fighting the anti-liquor battle, which we are all for, they say they have almost reached a total consensus (on the Adivasi issue). Why is the outcome not visible?” She said that areas like Aralam, where the number of Adivasis is more than 8,000, should be grated the status of a scheduled area, and thereby ensure good governance. She compared the satyagraha, to the agitation for Narmada.  “We are used to standing on the waters of Narmada. The Modi government has decided that the water level be increased from 122 m to 139 m. Billions of trees, temples, mosques, schools, dispensaries, houses, townships and 245 villages are going to be drowned, if the Modi government goes its own way, considering only the interests of the corporates of Gujarat,” said Medha. (New Indian Express 15/12/14)

110. Slum dwellers in Bhubaneswar’s Ward 51 demand houses before eviction (4)

BHUBANESWAR: Residents of Farm Gate near Siripur Sabar Sahi in Ward 51 have demanded that they be relocated first and then evicted. About 150 families in the locality are faced with being displaced so that Biju Patnaik Airport can extend its boundary wall. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) decided last year to extend boundary wall towards the south-west side and asked for more land from the state government. The general administration department conducted a survey and found that around 150 families have to vacate the land to make way for the construction of the boundary wall. “We are not opposing the construction of the boundary wall or the displacement of people, but the families to be displaced must be given alternative accommodation before being evicted. The Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) has conducted a survey for construction of Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) houses for the residents but no progress has been made,” said Nihar Mallik, president of Trinath Mazdoor Basti Sangha, a private body working for the welfare of slum dwellers. He said that since the residents have been enlisted as RAY beneficiaries, the government shouldn’t renege on its promise of providing RAY houses elsewhere after the residents are displaced. Airport director Sharada Kumar said they needed more space as the airport runway starts from that direction. “The matter is pending with the state government, which will take a final call. The land will be transferred in the name of AAI,” said Kumar. The present length of the airport boundary is 13 km, he added. Local corporator Binayani Jena said slum dwellers had been living in Sabar Sahi and Farm Gate localities for more than four decades. “About 90 per cent of those facing displacement are poor. They have set up their small businesses for earning their livelihood. I think the airport, which is going to be benefitted by extending boundary walls, should also announce some compensation packages for the displaced,” said Jena. The ward is also grappling with illicit sale of country liquor. “Alcoholics create a lot of problems here. I have requested the police to intensify patrolling and stop sale of liquor,” she said. (Times of India 15/12/14)

111. Brinda Karat Threatens Stir Over Polavaram (4)

HYDERABAD: With the Andhra Pradesh government planning to complete the Polavaram project in three years, tribal rights’ organisation, Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Mancha has decided to take the government head-on, particularly on the issue of rehabilitation of tribals. CPM politburo member and AARM vice-president Brinda Karat, who was here to attend a two-day meet of the organisation, said Sunday that Polavaram was a key issue and they would not compromise on the rights of the tribals. “The Centre is completely ignoring the interests of tribals living in villages which will be submerged by the Polavaram project in the agency areas. This is an indication of criminal negligence,” she said. Stating that the Centre’s move amounted to denial of basic democratic rights of the tribals and violation of the Forest Rights Act, she alleged the Ministry of Environment was clearing a number of projects without regard to the tribals’ rights. “Ever since the NDA government came to power, the attack on tribal rights has increased,” she alleged and warned that her party would not keep quiet. (New Indian Express 16/12/14)

112. Jindals to return farmers’ land, says Mamata (4)

KOLKATA: Opening a new chapter in industry-government ‘bonhomie’, the Sajjan Jindal group has agreed to return to farmers the land acquired from them for the integrated steel project it had proposed to set up at Salboni in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipore district. Announcing this, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said the Jindals were doing it as a “token of respect to the farmers who had given their land.” The development is sure to be contrasted with Singur where there is a deadlock over return of 400 acres of land to farmers. “I will not be able to sleep easy till I get back the land,” she had said about Singur, making the return of land from the Tatas a top agenda of her government since she came to power in May 2011. Ms Banerjee said return of land at Salboni was the first step. In the second step, they will decide on what to do with the balance land vested with the government. She further stated that the company has not been able to keep its promise of giving shares to land-losers as the project did not fructify. The Jindals have announced that they were putting the project on hold as it was not a feasible one. They said they had neither the iron ore linkage nor the coal blocks (whose allocations were cancelled following the apex court order). The foundation stone for the Rs 35,000-crore project was laid on November 2, 2008 in the presence of former Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Apart from the nearly 4000 acres given to the Jindals from vested land, the group also directly acquired 294 acres from farmers at Rs 3 lakh per acre. The land would be returned free and a committee has been set up under the District Magistrate. An official at Jindal Steel Ltd said there was no timeline on returning the land. (The Hindu 16/12/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

113. Infant mortality rate record of AP, Telangana worst in south India (3)

HYDERABAD: Newborns are not in the pink of their health in the two states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Both are jointly ranked worse than underdeveloped states such as Jharkhand and Uttarakhand in terms of infant mortality rate (IMR), with 41 out of every 1,000 newborns dying before they reach the age of one year. While IMR in Jharkhand and Uttarakhand stood at 38 and 34 infant deaths per every 1,000 live births respectively, the IMR for undivided AP state was much higher, which local officials largely attribute to the Telangana statehood agitation. What is worse is that it in terms of IMR, undivided AP figured at the bottom of south Indian states comprising Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, according to the just released ‘State of India’s Newborns-2014′, a nationwide survey report on neonatal health indicators. The report was prepared by international NGO Save the Children, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), All India Institute of Medical Sciences and the Union ministry of health and family welfare. The comprehensive survey, also supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, placed Kerala on top with an IMR of 12 deaths per 1,000 live births, followed by Tamil Nadu’s IMR of 21, Karnataka’s 32 and AP/Telangana’s IMR of 41 deaths. Something that is hard to believe was the undivided AP lagging behind remaining south Indian states even in other five key neonatal parameters as well, including neonatal mortality rate (death from birth to 28 days, per 1,000 live births), early neonatal mortality rate (death from birth to seven days), late neonatal mortality rate (death from eighth day to 28 days), post neonatal mortality rate (death from 28 days of birth to 364 days), and under five mortality rate (number of children dying before the age of five/ 1,000 live births in a year). But, the million dollar question on what’s ailing the neonatal care in government hospitals in AP and Telangana has not been addressed. “The damning report points to our failure in implementing centrally-funded schemes like Janani Sishu Suraksha Karyakram in AP and Telangana. The other main problem is lack of convergence among officials, primary health centres, medium-sized government hospitals and teaching hospitals respectively,” said Dr B Balram, vice-president, Telangana Government Doctors’ Association. However, both the commissioners representing Vaidya Vidhana Parishad (VVP) in AP and Telangana, P Kanakadurga and K Veena Kumari respectively, had a different take on the poor performance on neonatal indicators. “The bifurcation blues and prolonged statehood agitation had an adverse impact on the health delivery system. Besides there were health cadre strength issues,” said P Kanakadurga, commissioner, AP, VVP. Whereas her Telangana counterpart, K Veena Kumari, put the blame on the severe shortage of pediatricians in all the 44 state-run special newborn facilities in the undivided AP, out of which 18 are in Telangana and the remaining 26 in AP. “Though four pediatricians are needed to man a single special newborn care unit, we are doing with just MBBS doctors as they (pediatricians) are not willing to work for Rs 45,000 a month,” she said. (Times of India 10/12/14)

114. Medical body wary of new abortion bill (3)

New Delhi: Brushing aside opposition to its proposed legislation of allowing midwives to perform abortions, the health ministry has decided to take the draft Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill to the Cabinet. The FOGSI, an umbrella body of gynaecologists, and the Indian Medical Association have vehemently opposed ministry’s decision of allowing homeopaths and midwives to terminate pregnancy saying that “abortions performed by them could pose a grave threat to women and will give rise to sex-selective abortions”. While the ministry officials say that FOGSI members were the part of the consultations and supported the amendments earlier, however in their recent comments sent to the ministry on the proposed draft they have opposed the proposal. The IMA has been opposing it right from the beginning and have even written to the Prime Minister asking for withdrawal of the new amendments. The ministry on the other hand has decided to take the draft bill forward. “Let the Cabinet take a decision. In a country where there is a scarcity of MBBS doctors, how do we ensure safe abortions? The FOGSI has reversed its stand by joining hands with the IMA, but we don’t plan to make changes according to their wishes,” a senior health ministry official said. Dr Nozer Sheriar, from FOGSI, said that wider discussion on the issue made them change their mind. “We supported the amendments initially. However, there were lot of internal discussions and the position that we have taken now is that abortions should only be done by a gynaecologists or at least an MBBS doctor. As far as scarcity of doctors at the PHC level is concerned, I believe periphery needs to be strengthened,” he said. Significantly, the women and child development ministry, national commission for women and other women’s groups have supported the draft bill. “Approximately 64 per cent of the responses received by the ministry are in favour of the draft…. Service providers will be given appropriate training so that safe abortions can be conducted and women are saved. The draft says that ANMs will only provide medical abortion within seven weeks-then why this opposition we do not understand,” added the official. A proposed amendment also enhances the period of abortion till 24 weeks. (Asian Age 15/12/14)

115. Mothers, newborns being killed by poor sanitation (3)

London: Lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene in birth settings is killing mothers and newborns in the developing world, a new study has warned. In a flagship paper, 16 researchers from various organisations, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), call to protect the lives of new mothers and their babies by improving access to safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene in health-care facilities and homes. The paper, published in PLOS Medicine, argues that despite improvements in health care, new mothers and newborns are still dying because a reliable supply of safe water, good hygiene practice and adequate toilets are often not present. A companion paper in PLOS ONE illustrates the situation in Tanzania, where less than a third (30.5 per cent) of births occur in places with safe water and basic sanitation. In 2013, one in 44 women in the country faced dying in childbirth in their lifetime. Globally, an estimated 289,000 women died from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth in 2013, a number which researchers say can be more rapidly reduced through better provision and monitoring of safe water, basic sanitation and hygiene to prevent infection and improve care. (Asian Age 15/12/14)

116. More infants died within month of birth last year (3)

NEW DELHI: The number of children dying in Delhi within 29 days of their birth has gone up in the past one year — from 876 in 2012-13 to 1,015 in 2013-14. Latest statistics released by Delhi government show maternal mortality, an indicator of public health system, has witnessed a sharp increase during the same period. According to government data, total 2,30,961 deliveries (1,96,109 at public hospitals and 34,852 at private hospitals) were conducted in 2013-14. Data on neonatal deaths only includes 17,458 newborns admitted to the Sick Neonatal Care Unit (SNCU) at 14 government hospitals. Experts say many neonatal deaths are still not reported. “The increase in number of such deaths should be seen in correlation with the total number of births. Also, we still have hundreds of newborn deaths being categorized under the still birth category,” said T Sunderaraman, a public health expert. He added that poor infrastructure and human resources at SNCUs is also to blame. “Neonatal ICU is a highly specialized service. It requires state-of-the-art infrastructure, which is completely missing from facilities run by Delhi government and municipal corporations,” said Sunderaraman. Experts say premature births contribute the highest to neonatal deaths. Infection is the second leading cause, followed by asphyxia (shortness of breath) and diarrhoea. Data also shows an increase in the number of children between 1-3 years being detected with protein energy malnutrition and low weight. There is bad news for the government on family planning front too. Except for Insertion of Intrauterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD), the usage of all other contraceptive methods has witnessed a significant decline in the last one year. This includes condoms, oral pills and sterilization of both men and women. (Times of India 17/12/14)

117. Heart diseases, lung diseases, stroke are India’s top killers (3)

New Delhi: The leading killers in India were ischemic heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and stroke, accounting for 30% of all deaths in 2013. Tuberculosis and ischemic heart disease were the top two causes of death for people between the ages of 15 and 49, resulting in 408,114 lives lost in 2013. Among people 70 and older, ischemic heart disease claimed the most lives that year. The top cause of child mortality was neonatal encephalopathy in 2013, killing 212,686 children under the age of 5. In India, hypertensive heart disease and suicide took more lives in 2013 than in 1990, with deaths increasing 138% and 129%, respectively. Mortality from road injuries also increased 88% between 1990 and 2013. This largest-ever global health surveillance tracked 240 causes of deaths across 188 countries between 1990 and 2013. The data was sourced from registration of death, cancer registries, sibling history, police record, verbal autopsy, surveillance and survey, census, hospital and burial records. “The disease and death trends are more or less the same for India, where non-communicable diseases are now killing more people than infections such as tuberculosis and pneumonia,” says Prof AA Mahdi, head of the department of Biochemistry, King George’s Medical University, Lucknow. He was among the team that validated data from India. Globally, both men and women were living longer in 2013, with global life expectancy for both sexes increasing from 65·3 years in 1990, to 71·5 years in 2013. In 2013, women were living 6·6 years more than they were in 1990 and men by 5·8 years. If the median rate of change of the last 23 years continues, on average, women will live to be 85·3 years and men 78·1 years by 2030. “India has had remarkable progress in reducing both child and adult deaths over the past 23 years. Average yearly rates of decline were 1·3% per year for adults and 3·7% for children, which pushed up life expectancy for India from around 59 years for women and 58 for men in 1990 to 69 years and 68.5 years respectively in 2013,” said Dr Jeemon Panniyammakal, Centre for Chronic Disease Control . Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI). Diarrhoeal diseases, lower respiratory infections, neonatal causes, and malaria are still in the top five causes of death in children younger than five years. The most deadly infective agents are rotavirus for diarrhoea and pneumococcus for lower respiratory infections. “The bad news for India is that non-communicable diseases are rising and affecting people at a younger age than in most other parts of the world. In western societies, heart disease typically occurs after 70 years, but in India, more than half the heart attacks occur before the age of 70,” Dr Dorairaj Prabhakaran, director, centre for chronic conditions and injuries, PHFI. Increased life expectancy is mainly caused by a fall in death from lower respiratory infections and diarrhoeal diseases (contributing 2·2 years), cardiovascular and circulatory diseases (contributing 1·1 years), neonatal conditions (contributing 0·7 years), cancers (contributing 0·4 years), and chronic respiratory diseases (contributing 0·5 years). These gains were offset by increased death from diabetes and chronic kidney diseases, as well as musculoskeletal disorders. Globally, the five main causes that lowered life expectancy were deaths from HIV/AIDS in Africa; diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and other endocrine disorders in Oceania and central Latin America; mental disorders in high-income north America; intentional injuries in south Asia, high-income Asia Pacific, and southern sub-Saharan Africa; and cirrhosis in eastern Europe and central Asia. (Hindustan Times 18/12/14)

HIV/AIDS

118. Cops escort HIV+ widow home (3)

KOLKATA: A 34-year-old HIV-positive widow and her two children, who were rendered homeless for the last two weeks after being socially ostracized, were escorted back to their Dakshineswar home by the administrative officials on Tuesday afternoon — two days after the report on their ordeal was published in the Times of India on Sunday. After the TOI report revealed the trauma she had to undergo with the local police choosing to look the other way, the state transport minister and MLA from Kamarhati Madan Mitra, district magistrate of North 24-Parganas Sanjay Bansal and Kamarhati municipality chairman Gopal Saha took action to escort them back home. The activists of South 24-Parganas Network for People Living with HIV+, a non-government organization, including its president Khitish Mondal and coordinator Sebika Chowdhury, first took up the matter and brought it to media glare on Saturday. They also accompanied the widow and her sons on Tuesday to their house. The widow lived in a house on Abbas Ali Lane in Dakshineswar with her two sons. While her elder son is 14-year-old and studies in Class IX, the younger one is six-year-old and a student of Class II. Her husband, who was a grocer, had committed suicide in May after being hounded by neighbours following the HIV Positive diagnosis during tests prior to a brain tumour operation. The woman was thereafter asked to undergo a check and she too tested positive. The widow’s ordeal had taken a turn for the worse after a group of local landsharks allegedly conspired to evict the woman by instigating her neighbours. On November 23, she and her children were dragged out of their house and the door was locked from outside by some locals. The trio had been spending the nights on railway platforms since then. The woman was running from the pillar to post in search of help from the administration, only to be refused everywhere. She, accompanied by the NGO activists, then knocked on the doors of the local police station seeking their help. But, nobody took the matter seriously, till the TOI report brought to light the plight of the widow on Sunday. After returning to her residence on Tuesday, the woman heaved a sigh of relief and expressed her gratitude to TOI, the NGO activists, the minister and others who took helped her. “I suffered a lot along with my sons. I almost lost hope to return to my home. On Tuesday, the officials not only made arrangement for my safe return, they also asked my neighbours not to bother me anymore,” the woman told TOI. Gopal Saha said, “After I came to know about her plight, I sent the concerned officials of the civic body to look into the matter. We also tried to spread awareness against the social ostracism of a HIV+ while talking to the locals on Tuesday. Minister Madan Mitra also instructed me to take an immediate action for her safe return,” Saha told TOI. (Times of India 10/12/14)

119. Himachal has 7,629 HIV/AIDS cases (3)

Dharamsala : There are 7,629 HIV/AIDS cases in Himachal Pradesh, Health Minister Kaul Singh informed the state assembly here Thursday. In a written reply, he said the state government is providing to-and-fro bus fare to the HIV/AIDS patients and one attendant to reach the ART (anti-retroviral therapy) centre. The minister said the state government is also giving financial aid from Rs.300 to Rs.800 per month to the children living with HIV/AIDS, and to the children who have one of the parents living with HIV/AIDS. He said the government has been providing milk powder free of cost for one year for the newly born children of HIV/AIDS patients. (Business Standard 11/12/14)

120. Stigma still haunts HIV patients (3)

MANGALURU: Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader participating in an interaction with HIV-infected persons at Prajna Counselling Centre in Mangaluru on Saturday.— Photo by Special Arrangement Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader participating in an interaction with HIV-infected persons at Prajna Counselling Centre in Mangaluru on Saturday.— Photo by Special ArrangementA 35-year-old HIV positive woman from Munnuru village, who lost her husband 10 years ago, said her application for the allotment of a land site had been turned down by the local municipality after she revealed her health condition. “The official bluntly said that I am not entitled to any allotment,” the woman said, with tears rolling down her cheeks. She got the same response at the office of the Deputy Commissioner.  “As soon as we reveal our condition, we are discriminated against,” said a 28-year-old woman, who added she had experienced this at hospitals. “I have stopped going to the hospital when I am ill. There have been several occasions when I have forced my husband to get me discharged early,” she said. HIV-infected patients revealed their experiences of discrimination before the Minister for Health and Family Welfare U.T. Khader during an interaction held at the Prajna Counselling Centre on Saturday. A 35-year-old woman, who has lost her husband, said eight days back Mangalore City Corporation officials bluntly refused a licence to construct a house saying that she has come from another part of the State. A 50-year-old man spoke about his plight over the delay by MCC to release funds to build a house. Another HIV-infected woman said that the rice given to them at the ration shop was not fit for consumption and that HIV-positive patients have not been told about their diet. Another woman expressed the need for monthly pension. Mr. Khader said from next month the government will be providing a single-window agency for HIV-infected persons to avail benefits — ration cards, housing and education. The AIDS Prevention and Control Unit in each district will receive applications and correspond with the respective departments. The Minister said the Department was finalising a healthy diet plan and added that disciplinary action will be taken against officials who discriminate against HIV-infected persons. He would also organise a meeting of HIV-infected persons with the Deputy Commissioner and other district officials in January. (The Hindu 14/12/14)

121. Only 24% of parents with HIV disclose health status to kids (3)

CHENNAI: For years, Ramani* did not know how to tell her two teenage daughters that their father had died of AIDS and that she had contracted the HIV infection from him. She even evaded questions on the cause of their father’s death until the day her 15-year-old daughter found a hospital file and asked her mother about the medicines she was taking. “I was surprised that my daughter did not get angry. She has learnt about HIV at school. In fact, she was supportive and said she would take good care of me. She suddenly sounded all grown up when she told me not to reveal about my health status to her sister,” Ramani said. Not many parents with HIV reveal their health status to their children. A study by National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis found that only 24% of people with HIV disclosed their status to their children. The study involved interviews with 115 parents with HIV. Those who disclosed it did so only to protect their children from risky behaviour or in the hope that they would be taken care of when they fall ill. While the rest did not reveal their status to their children because they were afraid of losing respect or being treated with indifference, the study highlighted the need to teach healthcare providers to help patients with full disclosure. Only 39% were able to disclose their status by themselves; in the rest of the cases, children came to know of their parents’ health condition on their own during hospital visits, reading case files or overhearing conversations between the parent and the health provider. The study said the trend was worrying as improper disclosure without clear explanations could frighten a child . Most of the disclosures were by those widowed, separated or divorced where the child would already be going through a trauma of a broken family. Disclosure was also more likely where both parents were positive. Not all children were accepting and understanding of their parents’ health status. At least half of those who disclosed, witnessed angry or mixed reactions from children. One-tenth of the parents who did not disclose had children who were HIV positive, leaving them with more burden of keeping even their child’s status under wraps that can be detrimental to the psychosocial well being of parents and their children (Times of India 17/12/14)

 

 

Posted by admin at 18 December 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Ahmednagar Dalit killings: CM Devendra Fadnavis sets deadline for police department (2)

Mumbai: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Sunday expressed concerns over the state police departments failure to nab the culprits in the killings of three Dalits in Javkheda Khalsa village in district Ahmednagar. Fadnavis on Sunday visited the village where three Dalits of the family a mason Sanjay Jadhav (42), his wife Jayshree (38) and son Sunil (19) were brutally killed. Fadnavis said, “I am personally monitoring the case. I have made my point clear to the Director General of Police to set the deadline. There cannot be indefinite time period to conduct a case. They will have to come out with some answers in the case.” The Chief Minister said, “If the police fails in the time frame it sets the government is seriously consider handing it over to the CBI.” On October 20 and 21, villager reported the killings of three of the Dalit family whose body parts were thrown in well and strewn in their fields. The Chief Minister held interaction with the villagers, family members and local police officials. Talking to the family members he said, “All culprits who have committed the barbaric crime will be arrested and punished soon. The government cannot allow such heinous crime instate.” The Republican Party of India chief Ramdas Athavale and Bhraip Bahujan Samaj Party chief Prakash Ambedkar visted the village and urged the government to ensure the culprits are booked. Earlier, Maharashtra Governor C Vidyasagar Rao has also urged the DGP to set up a special task to look into the matter. The leaders of all political parties including NCP, Shiv Sena, MNS and Congress have also urged the government to expedite the case and punish the culprits. However, sources in the police department said, “From day one we are on the job. But unless we ascertain the facts it would be improper to name any individual or share the information.” (Indian Express 1/12/14)

2. Bengaluru records most caste discrimination cases (2)

Bengaluru: The Kuppegala incident in Mysuru district, where some school children refused to eat midday meals as it was prepared by a dalit cook, is not an isolated event. There’s rising discrimination against the scheduled castes/tribes in Karnataka according to government data. Annually, over 3,000 dalits (around nine persons per day) become victims of caste atrocities and discrimination. In 2009, police registered 1,254 cases across the state under the Protection of Civil Rights Act and SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. Four years later, the figure rose to 1,708. Bengaluru records the highest number of offences against scheduled castes and tribes and that too is rising by the year. In 2009, there were 82 cases which went up to 130 in 2012. In 2012, Mysuru recorded 6 cases, Hubballi-Dharwad 10 and Mangaluru 25. Among the districts, the maximum cases, over 80, are reported from Belagavi and Kalaburagi. From investigator to sociologist, everyone says there’s widespread untouchability and discrimination against dalits, both overt and concealed, across the state in varied forms. Most places of conflict in villages are temples, hotels, hair-cutting saloons and washerman services. “In many places, hotel owners have come come up with a solution which pleases both dalits and other castes — they use plastic or paper plates and cups,” said a senior police officer. Sociologist Prof GK Karanth speaks about ‘concealed untouchability’ by dominant castes and ‘active withdrawal’ by dalits. “During assessment of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan programme, we found that many children were not eating at school, but bringing food from home. It was made to look like a ‘class phenomenon’, that they need free food. Also, cooks in schools and anganwadis are conveniently selected from an acceptable community. Many ways of concealed and subtle untouchability are practised,” Karanth said. He added, “Dalits avoid some places like a temple, barber’s shop or hotel where they won’t be served or entertained. It’s a defense mechanism to escape rejection and humiliation. So, the discrimination goes on, but without conflict.” Even today, a dalit’s life is difficult in the villages. Equality remains a mirage. At many places, there are problems over using water from the borewell. (Times of India 3/12/14)

3. Half of school dropouts in K’taka are dalits (2)

Bengaluru: Nearly half of the school dropouts in the primary section happen to be dalits. Figures show that as many as 1.38 lakh dalit children dropped out of school within two years of their enrolment as against a total of 2.9 lakh dropouts. In other words, 48% of dropouts are from dalit communities. This alarming revelation came from a report by The IndiaGoverns Research Institute based on government figures here on Thursday. The figure pertained to primary school section, from classes 1 to 5, and the period between 2012 and 2014. After sourcing data from the District Information System for Education, the institute segregated it at assembly constituency levels. The report said in 2011-12, there were 14.97 lakh dalit children studying in classes 1 to 5 in the state. In the next two years, by 2013-14, 1,38,864 children had dropped out. In the case of children from other communities, out of 38.6 lakh students, 1.52 lakh had stopped coming to school. Interestingly, the top-10 constituencies where most number of dalit students left school are reserved constituencies (represented by dalit MLAs). And all the 10 constituencies — Indi, Humnabad, Yelburga, Chincholi, Chittapur, Shorapur, Devadurga, Bhalki, Basavakalyan and Hadagali – are located in north Karnataka region. “Backwardness of the north Karnataka region, poverty and migration for employment contribute to the higher dropout rate among dalits,” said sociologist Prof GK Karanth. Veena Ramanna of IndiaGoverns Research Institute said much needs to be done. “Despite the present government’s focus on this (dalit) section, the problem has not been solved. It indicates a lot and calls for urgent intervention,” she said. (Times of India 5/12/14)

4. Dalit’s Eatery Ransacked By MLA’s Goons? (2)

MADURAI: A Dalit hotel owner at Usilampatti alleged that supporters of MLA Kathiravan ransacked his outlet for selling beef and pork. Kasi (45) of Ariyapatti village in the district, runs a hotel named ‘Deva’, opposite the office of the Usilampatti MLA P V Kathiravan in Usilampatti. Kasi said,“On December 2, supporters of the MLA came to his office for a meeting. They objected to the sale of beef and pork in my outlet located in front of MLA’s office. They also abused me referring to my caste and damaged my hotel,” alleged Kasi. The hotel owner lodged a complaint against MLA Kathiravan and his supporters with the Usilampatti Town police seeking action under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Kasi also claimed that Kathiravan instigated his supporters to damage his shop. Responding to this, Usilampatti DSP K Saravanakumar said that according to the investigating officer it was true that some persons had verbally abused Kasi demanding him to vacate the shop. But, MLA Kathiravan and his supporters were not involved in the issue. According to the DSP, investigations revealed that Kasi had damaged the hotel himself and had lodged a complaint claiming that the MLA’s supporters had ransacked his outlet. MLA Kathiravan was not available to comment on the issue. (New Indian Express 8/12/14)

5. Religious leaders’ bid to end mid-day meal boycott over Dalit cook (2)

MYSURU: Progressive religious leaders visited the government school at Kuppegala village, near here, on Monday and served the midday meals along with students in a bid to end the boycott of meals by upper-caste children. Even as the religious leaders, led by Basava Murugendra Swami, sat alongside the children and ate their meal, the attendance in the school, which had fallen in the last 10 days after a Dalit woman was appointed as a cook, went up to the regular level, reaching 138. The religious leaders, who had taken permission from the school authorities, arrived at the school just ahead of the time to serve the midday meals. After serving and consuming the food, the seers, including Chikkarudra Swami of Gowli Gurupeetha in Chitradurga and Basavalinga Murthy Swami of Bhavaikya Samsthe in Mysuru, interacted with the children and advised them to live harmoniously with people of all castes and creed. Later speaking to presspersons, Basava Murugendra Swami said it was unfortunate that a few “narrow-minded individuals were sowing the poisonous seeds of caste differences through the school. It is a crime”. Pointing out that there was no difference in the food prepared by a low-caste or an upper-caste person, the swami hoped their act of eating alongside the children would help drive out untouchability. Village elders, including taluk panchayat members and School Development Monitoring Committee members also ate the midday meal. Deputy Director of Public Instruction H.R. Basappa said all the children who attended the school on Monday ate the midday meal, which was prepared by the same set of cooks. “So, the issue is resolved,” he said. President of Karnataka Backward Classes Welfare Forum K.S. Shivaramu, who accompanied the religious leaders, said their visit had helped change the mindset of a section of the people in the village for the good of society. Meanwhile, leader of the Dalit Jagruti Samiti M.V. Manjunath welcomed the initiative of the religious leaders. “It is a welcome development,” he said. But, he appealed to the district administration to pay attention to the other issues of untouchability plaguing the village. He said it had already been brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner that Dalits were not allowed in the two Muzrai Department temples, the community hall, hotels, and hair-cutting salons in the villages. Authorities should intervene in the matter, he said. Meanwhile, a group of villagers, who gathered outside the school, complained that the district administration had been found wanting in making efforts to resolve the problem of untouchability that prevailed in the village. (The Hindu 9/12/14)

TRIBALS

6. Coming soon, lexicons of two tribal languages (6)

MYSURU: In an effort to preserve languages spoken by the tribal communities in Karnataka, the lexicons of Hakki Pikki and Dungri Garasia tribal languages will be launched shortly. Two dictionaries containing words spoken by the Hakki Pikki and Dungri Garasia communities have been prepared by the Mysuru-based Karnataka State Tribal Research Institute (KSTRI). KSTRI director T.T. Basavanagouda told The Hindu that many tribal languages were on the verge of losing their distinctiveness. “We didn’t want this to happen and hence, decided to safeguard the languages by printing the dictionaries.” Mr. Basavanagouda claimed that the dictionaries of tribal languages were being printed in the State for the first time. “It’s our maiden effort to keep the culturally rich languages alive.” The KSTRI had roped in language experts, including those from the tribal communities, to work on the dictionaries. He said there were plans to print the English and Kannada versions of the dictionaries. The KSTRI has taken the support of Mysuru-based Central Institute of Indian Languages to develop dictionaries in the languages of tribes such as Siddi, Hasalaru, Eruliga, Harin Shikari, and Marathi (spoken in Dakshina Kannada). (The Hindu 30/11/14)

7. Creating history in tribal education (6)

Palakkad: The Girivikas Gurukulam project pushed forward by the Nehru Yuvak Kendra (NYK) and the Scheduled Tribes Department is now creating history by helping hundreds of tribal youngsters in Palakkad district to pass higher secondary education and pursue their professional dreams. Interestingly, most of the tribal students approach Girivikas located at Malampuzha, near here, after failing in the higher secondary examination, especially in English and Mathematics. The institution with boarding facility initiates one-year training programme for these students. The students pass the examination and opt for higher education. “You can see the results all around,’’ said M. Anilkumar, district youth coordinator of NYK. Though the pass percentage at Girivikas was 100 per cent till a couple of years ago, a small variation occurred in the recent years. ‘‘We have decided not to compromise on pass percentage. We have reconstituted the faculty here with teachers having postgraduation and B Ed. Some of them have passed national and State eligibility tests,’’ Mr. Anil Kumar said, who controls the administration. The project, started as an experiment, aims at providing education and a congenial environment for study for tribal students in the district. It is one of the very few success stories from among the government projects for tribal people in Palakkad, Mr. Anil Kumar said. In 2004, the government allotted 1.5 acres of land and Rs.60 lakh for the construction of Girivikas complex. The project, following the informal Gurukula system of education, was started by the then District Collector, Ajayakumar. (he Hindu 1/12/14)

8. Schoolchildren launch ‘Rice Bucket Challenge’ to help tribals (6)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Drawing inspiration  from  the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ of the West, students of a city-  based higher secondary school have come up with ‘Rice Bucket  Challenge’ to help tribal communities in Kerala. Students of Carmel Girls’ Higher Secondary School have  collected a total of 1,500 kilo gram rice, 220 kilo gram of  red gram, 150 kilo gram of red cow peas and other essential  commodities to be distributed to various tribal hamlets as  part of the initiative. The school management said the foodgrain and cereals  will  be distributed to hamlets of Attappady in northern district of  Palakkad and Amburi and Kottur in the suburbs of the capital  city with the help of women’s neighbourhood network  Kudumbashree. The programme was initiated to create sense of social responsibility and commitment among children, school principal Sister Helma said in a release here today. Home Minister Ramesh Chennitha will soon launch the  programme  officially at a function in the school campus.PTI (The Hindu 3/12/14)

9. ‘To fulfill Bapu’s dream Modi must share food with tribals’ (6)

VARANASI: Bihar chief minister Jittan Ram Manjhi on Tuesday said that if Prime Minister Narendra Modi was really serious on fulfilling Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of cleaning the society, he should sit together with tribals and Mahadalits and savour their food like rice and fish. On his maiden visit to PM’s constituency, Manjhi on Wednesday also took a potshot at Clean India campaign wondering, “Jhadu chalane se kya hoga (what will happen by sweeping with brooms).” He went on to add that cleaning minds to remove caste differences and untouchability was the need of the hour. Turning towards Bihar politics, he urged reporters not to read into the presence of former CM Nitish Kumar’s photograph in his office. “Nitish is an ideal. He brought Bihar back from utter backwardness and lawlessness,” he said adding, “I never thought of becoming a public representative but now I am the CM of Bihar. During my short tenure, I have drawn bigger lines than Nitish by introducing many welfare projects.” On joining hands with Rashtriya Janata Dal, the party blamed by JD(U) for backwardness and lawlessness in Bihar, he quipped, “We are not sitting in the lap of anyone.” Manjhi said that JD(U), RJD and Congress were likely to contest Bihar elections together. “If we manage required numbers, then the legislative party will decide the CM,” he added. He dismissed possibility of a repetition of Modi’s miracle in Bihar as “people are mature enough and cannot be repeatedly misled by false promises.” Stating that in absence of BJP-like resources he was unable to hype his campaign, Manjhi said rivals helped his ascension as chief minister by mocking at his innocence and added, “If they continue with the same practice, then one day I can even become the prime minister.” On his controversial statement that tribals were the only genuine natives of the soil, the Bihar chief minister said that his words were wrongly interpreted as he never meant that others were outsiders. (Times of India 5/12/14)

10. BJD MLA wants tribals rights upheld on Khandadhar mines (6)

Bhubaneswar: A ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator has urged the Odisha government to recognise the forest rights of Pauri Bhuyan tribals, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), residing on the hills in Sundargarh district. The Odisha government has recommended prospecting license (PL) over Khandadhar iron ore deposits in favour of Posco India. Dambaru Sisa, the first legislator from the Bondas, one of India`s most primitive tribes living in the remote hills of the Malkangiri district, has urged the government for effective implementation of forest rights in Khandadhar areas for tribals` betterment. “Sundargarh is enriched with the presence of Pauri Bhuyan, a PVTG, having their habitat in Khandadhar. Forest Rights Act has the scope to recognise their rights over their habitat and the process has not started yet,” the legislator said in a letter to the Sundargarh district collector. Sisa has been elected legislator from Chitrakonda assembly constituency in Malkangiri district. In his letter, Sisa said the process to convert forest habitations into revenue villages is yet to start in the district even though the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, clearly spells out that the tribals` habitation be recognised. The Pauri Bhuyan tribals are protesting the state government decision to allow Posco India to mine in Khandadhar hills for the company`s proposed $12 billion steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district. They demand that since Khandadhar is the habitat of the PVTG, both the central and state governments should follow the provisions of FRA and go by the Supreme Court`s judgment in the Niyamgiri case. Following the apex court order, the state government had held village meetings and the Dongaria Kondhs dependent on the Niyamgiri hills had unanimously trumped the bauxite mining plan of Vedanta in a referendum last year. (Zee News 7/12/14)

11. Recognise Rights of Pauri Bhuyan Tribe, Says Sisa (6)

BHUBANESWAR: Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Dambaru Sisa has demanded that the State Government should recognise the forest rights of Pauri Bhuyan tribals, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG), residing in Sundargarh district. Sisa, a member of the State level monitoring committee for implementation of the Forest Rights Act, is the first MLA from the Bonda tribe, one of the most primitive tribes living in Malkangiri district. Sisa was elected from Chitrakonda Assembly segment in Malkangiri district in the 2014 Assembly elections. Sisa’s demand has gained importance as the State Government has recently recommended prospecting licence (PL) over Khandadhar iron ore deposits in favour of Posco-India. “Sundargarh is enriched with the presence of Pauri Bhuyan, a PVTG, having their habitat in Khandadhar. Forest Rights Act has given the scope to recognise their rights over their habitat and the process has not started yet,” the legislator said in a letter to Sundargarh Collector. Sisa alleged that the process to convert forest habitations into revenue villages is yet to start in the district even though the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006, has a mandatory provision that the habitations of tribals should be recognised. The Pauri Bhuyan tribals are protesting the State Government’s decision to allow Posco-India to mine in Khandadhar hills for the company’s proposed steel plant project in Jagatsinghpur district.  They demand that since Khandadhar is the habitat of the PVTG, both the Centre and the State Government should follow the provisions of FRA and go by the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Niyamgiri case. (New Indian Express 8/12/14)

WOMEN

12. Father of five girls kills wife, cops say he wanted a son (8)

KOLHAPUR: A man allegedly killed his wife with a sickle in their house at Borale village in Mangalwedha taluka of Solapur district on Friday. The police said the man, Bajirao Waghmare (40), has confessed that he killed his wife, Rani (30), as they had five girl children while he wanted a son. Waghmare owns 11 acres of farmland in the village and the family lives in a two-storey building. The incident has sent shockwaves among the 5,500 inhabitants of the village as well as among activists fighting against female foeticide and for the rights of the girl child. In his complaint to the police, Rani’s brother has said that she was being tortured by Waghmare for the last few years as he wanted a son. The police have seized the sickle and clothes soaked in blood from the house. Rumours in the village that Rani was again pregnant were quashed after the post-mortem report confirmed otherwise, the police said. The report said Rani died due to several injuries inflicted on her body and excessive bleeding. Inspector Dilip Patil of the Mangalwedha police station told TOI that Waghmare and Rani were sleeping on the top floor of the house along with two of their daughters. “Around 3.30 am, one of the girls woke up and found her mother bleeding. She went down crying and woke up her grandfather, Damodar. When Damodar went upstairs, he was shocked to see his son sitting besides Rani’s body, which was soaked in blood. Damodar called the neighbours and also informed the police,” he said. Waghmare was still sitting near his wife’s body and did not resist arrest when the police reached the house, Patil said. A local court has remanded him in police custody till December 5. Waghmare and Rani married in 2004. Of their five girls, Manjula (7) and Sanjivani (6) are in the third standard in a local school, while Sonu (5) joined school only this year. The other two girls are Pinki (3) and Sarika (2). Villagers said Waghmare was not very social and spoke to people only if he had some work with them. “This is a peaceful village. Waghmare hardly used to meet or greet people and would always be busy with his farm work. The family, which reveres Lord Vitthal, belongs to the Malkari community (who are known to wear a rosary of tulsi beads). A devout man committing a murder for a boy child is shocking,” said a village requesting anonymity. Varsha Deshpande, a Satara-based activist fighting against female foeticide, has demanded a thorough investigation into the case and radical changes in the laws dealing with the rights of the girl child. “The Borale incident shows how deep-rooted the patriarchal system is in our society. I demand that the Union human resources development ministry and the Maharashtra women and child welfare department organize awareness programmes.” Deshpande said greater emphasis should be laid on awareness among men, rather than women, about gender equality. Sunita Jadhav, a member of a committee to implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Techniques (PCPNDT) Act in Kolhapur, also said the incident highlights the need of a mass awareness campaign. “I am shocked that a father of five children could be so brutal to his wife. I have seen cases where women succumb to family pressures and allowed illegal sex determination tests. Laws are not enough to curb the practice. What we need is a mass movement to save the girl child,” she said. (Times of India 30/11/14)

13. NGO to include men in campaign on violence against women (8)

MADURAI: In a bid to create awareness on the rising incidents of crime against women, a local NGO along with the women’s federation in the city on Sunday decided to include men in its campaign. Ekta, an NGO that works for empowerment of women, came up with an idea of involving men to address the issue of violence against women. Ekta works closely with elected women’s federation. Bimla Chandrashekar, director of Ekta, said, “The dalit women who work in the agricultural fields are suffering more when it comes to violence against women. The women in the lower rungs of the economic strata are more vulnerable. It is prevalent in districts like Cuddalore, where women are subjected to a lot of problems. We have made men from villages talk about the issue of violence.” K Amravati, a women’s federation member from Vadapalanchi panchayat, said, “Men who are addicted to bottle are the main reason for rising cases of crime against women. Child sexual abuse is also on the rise in Cuddalore district.” (Timwes of India 1/12/14)

14. Rohtak case: it was dispute over a seat, claim villagers (8)

ROHTAK: Haryana Police, probing the November 28 incident of misbehaviour with the girls and a pregnant woman on a State transport bus, said they had a watertight case against the three accused Even as another video surfaced of sisters Puja and Arti taking on eve-teasers and thrashing them — this time in a park – the Haryana Police, probing the November 28 incident of misbehaviour with the girls and a pregnant woman on a State transport bus, said they had a watertight case against the three accused, who have since been released on bail. An investigating officer in Rohtak told The Hindu on Tuesday that a case was registered under Section 354 of the Indian Penal Code for assault or criminal force on woman with intent to outrage her modesty on the basis of a complaint filed by the girls. While some village elders of Asan village — to which the three accused belong — claimed that a Haryana police constable was also travelling by the same bus and his statement would be highly credible in establishing the sequence of events, the police said they were not aware of any such person. After Deepak, Kuldeep and Mohit were arrested, a delegation of the Asan panchayat went to the office of the Superintendent of Police and demanded a ‘fair probe,’ threatening to go on a hunger strike if this was not done. Residents of Asan village fear that the police case would destroy the career of the boys. The accused had done ‘no wrong’ and as the video ‘showed’ it was the girls who were “aggressive.” The delegation also claimed that the fight took place over a seat that was allotted to an elderly woman. They demanded that her statement be also recorded. They said she got off at Humayunpur. Later the woman, identified as Nirmala, was traced, and her statement was recorded. When contacted about the new video, one of the sisters said the incident took place about a month ago. She and her sister were coming out of the Rohtak bus-stand when some youths teased them. When they went to the HUDA park nearby, some other youngsters teased them. They confronted the boys and one of the sisters beat them up and they ran away. (The Hindu 3/12/14)

15. Indian women in mental hospitals ‘treated worse than animals’ (8)

NEW DELHI: A report has shown increasing evidence of women and girls with disabilities being “involuntarily” admitted to mental hospitals and institutions where they face unsanitary conditions, risk physical and sexual violence and are subject to treatment including electric shock therapy without their consent. The report by Human Rights Watch researched over two years in 24 government institutions in six cities found that none of the 128 women or girls documented for the study admitted to institutional care were asked for their consent. About 31 cases (20 women and 11 girls) were subject to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) without their consent, says the report. In some facilities the HRW report “Treated Worse than Animals: abuses against women and girls with psychosocial or intellectual disability in institutions in India” found overcrowding and lack of hygiene. For instance as of November 2014 close to 900 people live in Asha Kiran a government institution for people with intellectual disabilites in Delhi—nearly three times the hospital’s capacity. In Pune Mental Hospital there are only 25 working toilets for 1850 inmates. “Women and girls with disabilities are dumped in institutions by their family members or police in part because the government is failing to provide appropriate support and services,” Kirti Sharma, HRW researcher said. The only existing mechanism was to report to institution staff which does not constitute an independent mechanism as staff themselves may be perpetrators of abuse. HRW found 12 cases of verbal, 38 of physical and four cases of sexual violence against women. Those interviewed reported being beaten by police, welfare officers, and institutional staff. Cases of FIRs are few because testimonials of these victims are considered unreliable. A welfare officer at a residential care institution reported that a woman sent for treatment for three months, came back one month pregnant while in another case the caregiver forced the patient in to a bathroom and raped her on the pretext of giving her medicines. The HRW has recommended orderly inspections and regular monitoring of all such facilities to ensure that such people receive treatment on the basis of informed consent. Also, there should be a complaint mechanism to receive and investigate complaints about ill treatment of persons in such institutions, they say. The 106-page report documents involuntary admission and arbitrary detention in institutions as it also examines the multiple barriers that prevent such women and girls from reporting abuses and accessing justice. The Indian government should pursue urgent legal reforms, including amending two bills currently before Parliament, to address these abuses and protect the rights of women and girls with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities. HRW’s Meenakshi Ganguly said that the report had been submitted to the ministries of health and women and child development. Moreover, according to HRW, there are no clear official government records or estimates of the prevalence of psychosocial or intellectual disabilities in India.  The 2011 census estimates that only 2.21% of the Indian population has a disability – including 1.5 million people (0.1% of the population) with intellectual disabilities and a mere 7,22,826 people (0.05% of the population) with psychosocial disabilities (such as schizophrenia or bipolar condition).  The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare claims much higher percentage of the Indian population is affected by psychosocial disabilities with 6-7% (74.2 – 86.5 million) affected by “mental disorders” and 1-2% (12.4 – 24.7 million) by “serious mental disorders.” The central government in India should immediately order an evaluation and take steps to end abusive practices in institutions by organizing effective monitoring of such facilities, HRW said. (Times of India 5/12/14)

16. Delhi rape: Cab driver sent to three-day custody (8)

New Delhi: A court here Monday sent an Uber cab driver to three days’ police custody on charges of raping a 25-year-old working woman in the capital. Metropolitan Magistrate Ambika Singh allowed Delhi Police to quiz 32-year-old driver Shiv Kumar Yadav for three days. Police sought custodial interrogation of the accused, saying they needed to recover a mobile phone and other articles related to the case. Various organisations protested outside the Tis Hazari court here against such crimes and demanded safety and security of women in the city. Amid tight security, police presented the cab driver – with his face covered – in the court. The accused, however, refused to undergo a test identification parade. Yadav was arrested Sunday from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. During investigation, it was found that the driver had a criminal record and was accused in another rape case. Besides, the Uber taxi company had not given him any public service verification (badge) or any employer’s verification certificate. During investigation, it was also revealed that Yadav, who has three children, was arrested in 2011 in a rape case with the same modus operandi in south Delhi and spent seven months in Tihar jail. He was later acquitted, after the victim took back the allegations. Police said the driver was under the influence of alcohol while picking up the woman from south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar between 10 and 10.15 p.m. Friday. According to an investigator, the driver thought the woman could be a “soft target” and intentionally took a long route to drop her at her residence in north Delhi’s Inderlok. The investigator said the cab’s GPS system showed that it started from Vasant Vihar from where the driver took a left turn from R.K. Puram Sector 8. The driver then took the Ring Road going towards Dhaula Kuan. He passed Mayapuri, Rajouri Garden, Moti Nagar and reached Tri Nagar in west Delhi. “Near the Zakhira flyover in west Delhi, he parked the car while the woman was sleeping and came to the rear seat,” the officer said. While he was trying to molest the woman, she woke up and resisted his attempt. “He slapped me thrice and threatened to insert an iron rod in my private parts. He raped me and dropped me at home,” the woman said in her police complaint, a copy of which is with IANS. (Business Standard 8/12/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

17. Prevent child marriages, parents told (14)

TIRUCHI: Parents should not conduct child marriages, one of the major reasons for violence against women. Parents, especially those belonging to the economically weaker section, not only use their children for child labour but also resort to child marriage without considering health and welfare of their girls, said Indira Gandhi, Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee. Speaking at a seminar on International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, organised by Rotary Club of Sakthi here on Saturday, she went down the memory lane and described the ordeal of a girl who had undergone severe hardship as a child labour and also under child marriage. She said that adequate awareness should be created among the poor people. S. Usha, District Social Welfare Officer, said that several Acts had been introduced to protect the rights of women. She appealed to students to create awareness among the masses about the evils of child marriage. D. Muthumala and S. Sankari, both members of the committee, said that boys and girls should join hands to fight against these social evils. They narrated the different circumstances which led to depression among girls and boys. Allirani Balaji, president of the club, said that the programme aimed at sensitising the masses to the need for preventing violence against women. Sensitisation for young boys and girls would go a long way in preventing crimes to a great extent. (The Hindu 30/11/14)

18. Children from Various Organisations Celebrate 25 yrs of Child Rights Commission (14)

CHENNAI: The silver jubilee of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child was celebrated on Sunday, with children from various humanitarian organisations participating in a cultural programme. The ‘Child Rights Celebrations’ was intended to help children understand the importance of child rights and give them a space to express their thoughts. Everything from the hosting and organising was largely done by children from the organisations Jeevajyothi, Arunodhaya and MACT. “Every one of you is born with rights. Rights are equal to life,” said Revathi from Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights, urging them to speak out if they faced any problem. “Tamil Nadu is one of the better States when it comes to child rights, with a good literacy level and reduction in child labour. However, we still have a long way to go, and there are many places where rights are still being violated,” said Sugata Roy, communication specialist from Unicef. Children enthusiastically responded to the release of a special song, Colour Colouraa Enga Ulagum by music composer Vedanth Bharadwaj, who was present at the function. The inauguration was followed by music, dance and drama by the children. (New Indian Express 1/12/14)

19. Children with disabilities to get free education till 18 years (14)

BENGALURU: The State Government will strictly implement the provisions of Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, that enable free and compulsory education to specially challenged children aged between six years and 18 years. Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare Umashree announced this on Wednesday at a programme organised by her Department to mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities. “So far, all children in the age group of six to 14 years have been getting free and compulsory education under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. Now, under RTE, children with disabilities aged between six years and 18 years will get free and compulsory education,” she said. Sources said although the Persons with Disabilities Act already has this provision not many were aware about it. Following the Minister’s announcement, the department will now strictly implement the existing provision. The Minister, who spoke about the various welfare programmes initiated by the Government for the specially challenged, called upon organisations who use the word “disabled” in their names to drop the word and instead use “specially challenged” or “differently abled”. “Persons with disabilities are differently abled physically. They are not mentally sick. There are some who are physically fine but mentally sick and it is this category of people who are a threat to our society,” she said in an indirect reference to the recent spate of sexual child molestation cases. Ms. Umashree also announced that the department will hold district level sports competition for physically-challenged children. “Those selected at the district level will participate in State-level competitions and the finalists will be awarded appropriately,” she said. Ms. Umashree along with R. Roshan Baig, Minister for Infrastructure, Information, Public Relations and Haj, presented awards to organisations and teachers involved in the welfare of the differently abled. Wheel chairs, tricycles, hearing aids and white canes were also distributed on the occasion. Differently abled achievers – Ashwin Karthik, an engineering graduate working with a noted software firm, and Ghanashyam, a film-maker who produced a Kannada documentary “Ingale marga” were honoured on the occasion. (The Hindu 3/12/14)

20. Govt Launches Special Deposit Scheme for Girl Child (14)

NEW DELHI: To help channelise small savings, government has launched a special deposit scheme for girl child — Sukanya Samriddhi Account– which can be opened in banks and post offices and half of the funds can be withdrawn for her higher education and marriage. While the scheme has been notified by the government, the special interest rate applicable to it would be determined later. Under the scheme, an account can be opened in the name of a girl child up to the age of 10 years. The scheme would mature on completion of 21 years from the date of opening of the account, and deposits can be made till completion of 14 years. The account can be transferred anywhere in India if the girl child shifts to a place other than the city or locality where the account stands. Further, 50 per cent of the deposit could be withdrawn for the purpose of higher education and marriage of the girl child after she attains 18 years of age, said the notification. “The account shall be opened and operated by the natural or legal guardian of a girl child till the girl child in whose name the account has been opened, attains the age of 10 years,” it added.    After attaining age of 10 years, the account holder can herself operate the account. In the event of death of the account holder, the account would be closed immediately, and the balance at the credit of the account would be paid along with interest till the month preceding the month of premature closure of the account. The scheme is aimed at garnering small savings and channelising them for development of infrastructure. Recently, the government has relaunched the Kisan Vikas Patra, in which the invested money doubles in 100 months, with the objective of increasing domestic savings. (New Indian Express 5/12/14)

21. Rajasthani women, kids abused by cop missing, says panel (14)

CHENNAI: Exactly two months after two Rajasthani women and two children selling plastic items at Hosur bus stand were allegedly sexually assaulted by a constable, the All India Democratic Women’s Association has moved the Madras high court saying the victims were “missing”. It sought a CB-CID probe of the case and compensation of 5 lakh each for the victims. Constable Vadivelu has been suspended and the officer in charge of the station transferred after the assault. The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M Sathyanarayanan, hearing the petition filed by AIDWA president U Vasuki on Monday asked the Krishnagiri police and the government to file replies by December 22. Vasuki said the migrant Rajasthani workers were sexually abused by Vadivelu at the Hosur police control room on October 8. AIDWA learned about the case and media reported the assault. She said an assistant superintendent of police questioned the victims but in violation of all established rules and norms. Alleging that the victims were intimidated and discouraged from speaking the truth, Vasuki said as per the amended CrPC, only a judicial magistrate could have questioned them. A revenue divisional officer also conducted an inquiry in a “secondary victimization”.Statements of the children were recorded at the police station, though the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act makes it clear that an officer questioning a child should not be in uniform. The petitioner said constable Vadivelu had been merely placed under suspension instead of being arrested and police had not yet registered a first information report (FIR). “There is no immunity given by any law to policemen who commit crimes,” she said, adding, “This shows the biased attitude of the higher echelons of the police department.” Noting that sexual abuse of migrant women and children is a serious issue the AIDWA president asked for the case to be handed over to the CB-CID for a probe. (Times of India 9/12/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

22. Cheques for minority victims (7)

BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday distributed cheques to the families of the four party activists from the Muslim community who were murdered by suspected Trinamul supporters in Birbhum over the past six months, a move apparently aimed at reaching out to minority voters that constitute 27 per cent of Bengal’s electorate. “Trinamul calls us communal. But our four party activists who fell victim to Trinamul’s heinous attacks in Birbhum villages belonged to Muslim families,” state BJP president Rahul Sinha said after the rally. “The token gesture (cheques) is a small attempt to stand by the victims’ families.” A steady stream of defections from Trinamul to the BJP in several Birbhum pockets since the Lok Sabha polls has triggered frequent clashes that claimed the four lives since June. Many from Trinamul who have switched to the BJP are Muslims. Among those who received the cheques were Hajera Biwi, 52, the widow of slain BJP worker Sheikh Rahim. She, like the others, got a cheque for Rs 50,000 from Shah. “Trinamul goons murdered my husband for joining the BJP. I have enrolled as a BJP member to avenge my husband’s murder,” Hajera said, while climbing down the stairs of the rally dais. Among the other victims was Taushik Ali, an 18-year-old who had been shot dead in Makhra on October 27 during a recapture bid by alleged Trinamul workers. “I have taken a vow to fight Trinamul goons till my death as a BJP activist,” Taushik’s father Shaukat Ali said. The other two recepients were the father of Sheikh Enamul, an Ilambazar resident killed by suspected TMC activists on October 9, and the father of Sheikh Jasimuddin, 17, who was killed by alleged Trinamul activists at Choumandalpur in Birbhum’s Parui on November 16. (The Telegraph 1/12/14)

23.  “Govt. must show it is concerned about minorities” (7)

NEW DELHI: Members of the Christian community and its leaders held a protest demonstration near the Police Headquarters at ITO here on Tuesday morning, blocking traffic during peak hours, to register their anguish at the alleged burning of St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden. Catholic nuns, principals and teachers of various educational institutions were among those who participated in the demonstration that blocked the arterial road linking New Delhi with East Delhi for at least two hours. Delhi Archbishop Anil. J. Couto noted that the church will maintain a “wait and watch policy” to see how the Central and State Governments pool in their efforts to find the culprit before deciding the next course of action. “The alleged burning of the church has created a sense of insecurity, and the government has to show by its action that it is concerned and will ensure security of all minorities in their motherland, especially the small Christian community which has been living peacefully for 2,000 years,” noted a release issued by the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese. Stating that the government has to end targeted violence and impunity so that the Constitutional guarantees of freedom of faith for all citizens were seen on the ground, the Archdiocese release noted: “We are hoping the Prime Minister and his government will reaffirm this commitment.” The protest rally at ITO was addressed by Archbishop Anil Couto and senior representatives and clergy of several denominations. St. Sebastian’s Church in Dilshad Garden was constructed in 2001 and is among the biggest churches in the area. The fire was reported on early Monday morning and the entire interiors including the altar, and the Holy Bible and the Cross were reduced to ashes. Hours after the incident, senior officers of the Delhi Police, the Special Branch and the Forensic Crime unit came to the spot and samples were retrieved from the inside of the church, which still smelt of fuel oil. “We have been told that the police have not been able to crack the case yet. Also, apart from the judicial inquiry, the government must repair the building before Christmas, ensure that the policemen guilty of dereliction of duty are punished, and special police investigation teams are set up to trace the guilty,” added Archbishop Couto. Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P. J. Kurien and CPM member K. N. Balagopal also visited the church on Tuesday. (The Hindu 3/12/14)

24. Minorities much safer in hands of PDP’ (7)

Jammu: Lauding the minority communities of Kashmir for voting in the first two phases of the assembly election, spokesperson of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Rangil Singh on Sunday said that a visible wind of change has started blowing across Jammu and Kashmir. Interacting with media persons on Sunday, Singh said that the party’s resolve to empower the minority communities in the state, especially the Sikhs, is an unprecedented step taken by the party in the history of the state. Singh said the Sikhs have made exemplary contribution in all the sectors of development. “They deserve multi-dimensional empowerment which has so far been denied to them by the previous governments,” he added. The fate of the people of the state in general and the minorities in particulars would be safer in the hands of PDP, Singh said. Referring to different plans for socio-economic and cultural emancipation stated by the party for Sikhs in the state, Singh said that establishing Punjabi chairs in both varsities and teaching of Punjabi as an optional  subject in schools were highly appreciable steps. “The minorities in particular have been subjected to gross injustice by the previous governments,” Singh added. Singh said that the anti-people designs of previous “power-hungry” political parties have resulted in their total extinction for which these are “repentant”. (Hindustan Times 7/12/14)

25. Not in favour to give SC reservation to Christian and Muslim Dalits: govt (7)

New Delhi: The Government today said it is not in favour of bringing Dalits of Christian and Muslim communities under the ambit of reservation for the Scheduled Castes. Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar Chand Gehlot said this during a discussion on a Bill to include more castes under SC category in four states and exclude one from it in Sikkim which was passed by the Parliament today. “We are not agreeable to it,” Gehlot said referring to a demand by some members in the Upper House to include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in reservation for SCs. Citing a case in the Supreme Court in this regard, the Minister said that discussions can happen based on its outcome. Responding to demands from several parties on extending reservation in the private sector, Gehlot said this demand has been there for the last 15 years and it would be looked into. Gehlot was replying to matters raised by members during the discussion on the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2014 which has been passed by the Lok Sabha earlier. Rajya Sabha also passed the Bill by a voice vote with most parties supporting it. The Bill was first tabled in 2012 but lapsed after the previous Lok Sabha was dissolved and the BJP government introduced it August in Lok Sabha. Gehlot sought to address members’ concerns, saying that diversion of funds from Scheduled Castes Special Component Plan is an important issue and such a practice is not desirable. Earlier, in the discussion over the Bill, P L Punia (Congress) supported the legislation and said that the population of those in the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) has increased and the percentage of reservation should also be increased in the same proportion. Punia advocated extending reservations for these sections in private sector as well as the judiciary. AIADMK member K Arjunan sought to highlight the demand to include Dalit Christians in the list of Scheduled Castes. Husain Dalwai (Congress) sought reservation benefits for Dalit-Muslims saying discrimination on the basis of caste is not confined to only one religion. Tarun Vijay (BJP) and D Bandyopadhyay (TMC) supported the Bill. Bandyopadhyay said that the Centre should bring out a comprehensive plan for the development of weaker sections adding that at present efforts only constitute disjointed schemes. Vishambhar Prasad Nishad (SP) and Anil Kumar Sahani (JD-U) also participated in the debate. BJP member Nanda Kumar Sai demanded strict regulations to eliminate fake community certificates and recording the names of communities in officials records in Hindi and regional languages as well to avoid spelling mistakes. Dilip Kumar Tirkey (BJD), D Raja (CPI), Ambeth Rajan (BSP), Chaudhary Munavvar Saleem (SP) were among those who shared their views. (Deccan Herald 8/12/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

26. More Muslims will get BJP tickets to contest in Bihar: ex-deputy CM (7)

Patna: Even as former Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for going back on his promise of granting special category status to the state, the Bihar BJP has said it will give more tickets to Muslims in the upcoming assembly elections. BJP Legislature Party leader and former deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi said, “Opposition parties have been getting nervous with Muslims warming up to BJP. The party has given tickets to over 20 Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir and quite a few Muslims have joined the party recently. We will ensure Muslims in coming  polls”. He was speaking at a function on Sunday. Sushil Modi said it was a myth that Muslims did not vote for the saffron party. “In fact, BJP shared equal credit with the JD(U) while starting schemes such as fencing of cemeteries. Ever since NDA split, JD(U) government has slowed down on this scheme and could not spend allotted Rs 40 crore in a year,” he said. (Indian Express 1/12/14)

27. Muslims, Christians sons of Ram, those who don’t believe it should leave India:

New Delhi: Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has sparked off a controversy by claiming that everyone including Muslims and Christians are sons of Ram. She used expletives against rival political parties as well. “Modiji ka mantra hai na hum khayenge na khane denge. Ab aapko tyah karna hai ki aap kise chunenge, aapko chunna hai ki ramzyaado ki sarkar banegi ya h*******o ki sarkar banegi, ye aapko tyah karna hai (Modi has given a mantra that we will neither take bribe nor let others take bribe. Now you have to decide whom to choose. Will you choose the sons of Ram or thopse who are illegitimate),” she said. However, the BJP leader clarified her point saying, “I was targeting the separatist and anti-national forces. Why are people taking offence to that? What would you say to the people who attacked Parliament? What would you say to the people who attack our borders. All that I have said is that when Indians go abroad they are referred to as ‘hindustani’,” she said. The opposition parties have demanded a clarification from the government over the statement and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s on it. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said, “We condemn the use of words by Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. The BJP is practicing politics of division. The Prime Minister should answer this as she belongs to his Cabinet.” Other political also upped the ante against Niranjan Jyoti and called her statement a highly deplorable one. Biju Janata Dal leader Jay Panda said, “I am saddened to hear the use of this kind of language by a Cabinet minister. It is highly deplorable.” Nationalist Congress Party Majid Memon said, “What the Sadhvi said is inappropriate. It does not matter what a person’s religion is.” (IBN Live 2/12/14)

28. Union min is wrong, Muslims are a minority: Jurist (7)

Aligarh: Eminent academician and jurist Faizan Mustafa on Thursday criticised Union minister Najma Heptullah over her views about Muslims not being minorities, saying that any community constituting less than 50% of the population falls under the minority category. The minority affairs minister, in May, had waded into the definitional issue of minorities when she opined that Parsis and not Muslims were the minorities of the country as their numbers have dwindled in the last few decades. “Muslims are not minorities. Parsis are. We have to see how we can help them so that their numbers don’t diminish,” the grand-niece of freedom fighter Abul Kalam Azad had then said. Finding holes in the minister’s theory, Mustafa said “any community with a population of less than 50% is in the minority”. He further said that just because Muslims are not on the verge of extinction does not mean that they are not accorded the minority status. “In her view, Parsis with a dwindling population are minorities. But threat of extinction is not a barometer to determine which community is in the minority,” said Mustafa, who recently came in the news for winning the SAARC Best Law Teacher Award. The Aligarh Muslim University professor delved further into the contentious ‘minority’ debate. He explained the two theories that determine minority community: statistical or numerical approach (one that has been adopted by the government in recent years) and power relationship. In the latter, a community is deemed to be in the minority if it wields less power compared to the size of its population. “In both sense, Muslims are in the minority. Numerically, we constitute 15% of the country’s population, while in the power test, I’d like to know how many Muslims representatives do we have in the country’s power structure,” he said. He also demanded the extension of SC/ST scholarship schemes for minorities, besides asking for the establishment of an equal opportunity commission. Speaking at a seminar organized organized by Aligarh Muslim University’s department of commerce, he spoke about how assimilation and integration of a community are two disparate matters. “Mainstreaming is a sophisticated term for assimilation, which would require a community to leave its distinctiveness. Since India is a ‘salad bowl’ and not a ‘melting pot’ like USA, we should talk of integration instead. The distinct identities should be kept intact as in a salad bowl.” Dr Arvind Mayaram, secretary of ministry of minority affairs, and Mohammad Adeeb, former MP, were the other speakers at the convention. (Times of India 4/12/14)

29. RSS holds ‘ghar vapsi’ event for 200 Muslims (26)

Agra: Members of at least 57 Muslim families were converted to Hinduism at a ceremony called ‘Purkhon ki ghar vapsi’, a mass conversion jointly organized by Dharma Jagran Samanvay Vibhag, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Bajrang Dal in Agra on Monday. RSS regional head Rajeshwar Singh said more than 200 Muslims were “brought back to Hinduism” in the mass event held in Madhunagar area of the city. According to organizers, the converts will soon be given new names. Talking to TOI, Singh claimed that around 5,000 more Muslims and Christians will be “brought back into Hindu fold” in Aligarh on this Christmas. “The grand event will be held at Maheshwari College in Aligarh,” he said, daring anyone to stop it. With saffron flags hoisted on rooftops of makeshift houses in this slum cluster, and matras being recited by priests, members of as many as 57 Muslim families washed feet of Hindu idols to mark their return to the religion. Long vermillion marks were put on their foreheads and they were given Prasad to eat. Later, RSS and Bajrang Dal activists gave them a ‘mantra’ to chant the whole day and prepared a list of all the ‘converts’, to get their voter IDs and Aadhaar cards made, with their new names. Sharifa, 40, was seen debating the right way of performing an aarti with her daughter-in-law, Afsha, in a small temple that has been erected by RSS men in the slum in Madhunagar. An idol of goddess Kali has also been placed in the temple, as majority of people living in the area hail from West Bengal. Sufia Begum,76, who is the oldest woman among the converts, told TOI: “I read Quran and offered namaz five times a day. Now at this age, I will read Ganesh aarti. I don’t find any major difference in the teachings of the two religions.” “The RSS people assured us that they will provide us better place to live, better food and schooling for my grandsons. I don’t mind change of religion, as religion doesn’t give us food to eat.” Rajeshwar Singh told TOI that RSS spends Rs 50 lakh every month on conversion of an average 1,000 families. “It spends Rs 8-10 lakh per month on fuel costs alone in west UP,” he added. “We have re-converted 2.73 lakh Muslims and Christians in Braj region that includes Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura, Firozabad, Etah, Meerut, Mainpuri and Uttarakhand since 2003. The upcoming mass re-conversion event in which some 5,000 Muslims and Christians will be brought back into Hindu fold will be headed by Yogi Adityanath on December 25 in Aligarh,” Singh said. Singh also claimed that RSS has taken possession of as many as 60 churches across the state, where no Christians worship now, “as they have all been re-converted to Hinduism”.”Ek din in girijagharo ki deewarein bhi gir jayengi aur hamara desh sirf hinduon ka hoga (one day these churches will crumble and our country will belong to the Hindus alone),” he added. Ajju Chauhan, the Bajrang Dal leader who zeroed in on the slum in Madhunagar and organized the mass re-conversion event, was overwhelmed after the puja. More than three dozen RSS and Bajrang Dal members were guarding the pandal to avoid any untoward incident. Talking to TOI, Aslam Qureishi, prominent Sunni leader of the city, said, “This is just a tactic of the RSS to misguide Muslims.” (Times of India 8/12/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

30. Church gutted, foul play not ruled out (7)

NEW DELHI: The interiors of St. Sebastian’s Church, Dilshad Garden, was burnt on Monday morning with the church authorities alleging that it “could be the work of some unidentified miscreants.” A senior Delhi Police official told The Hindu that they had picked up a can of kerosene from the second floor of the church. “We can’t confirm foul play yet but we are definitely looking into the angle,’’ he added. The police have registered an FIR against unknown persons for causing the fire with malicious intent. Anxious parishioners gathered near the church and later took out a procession to register their protest. The fire was detected at around 6 a.m. in the 10-year-old Catholic Church which has a membership of over 1,000 families residing in the area. Appealing to the Christian community to keep calm, Archbishop Anil. J. Couto, who reached the spot, said: “I have been informed about the incident and we suspect that there could be the involvement of some miscreants. The interiors of the church including the altar and the place of worship have been burnt down completely. The widows are shattered and the entire church unit on the ground and first floor has been destroyed in the incident.” (The Hindu 2/12/14)

31. SIT formed to probe church fire (7)

New Delhi: A day after St. Sebastian’ Church in east Delhi was allegedly set on fire by “anti-social elements,” the Delhi police on Tuesday set up a special investigation team (SIT) to investigate the matter. In a major step, intelligence agencies have issued an advisory to beef up security at all Christian institutions, including churches, in the city. Meanwhile, suspecting foul play, the Delhi police is looking for “anti-social” elements, who could possibly be behind the alleged crime. The police and intelligence agencies are also probing on whether any political or fundamentalist outfits are involved in the alleged attack on the church. Senior police officials also felt that “provocative statements” by political leaders ahead of the Delhi Assembly polls could “upset social harmony.” One company of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and scores of local policemen have been posted at the Church on Tuesday to thwart any untoward incident. Most of the church, including the entire interior, the altar, the Holy Bible and the cross, was gutted in fire on Monday morning. The church authorities have been maintaining that some “anti-social” elements were behind the act and have demanded a judicial inquiry. So far, police sources said that their own probe points to arson as well. They are, however, investigating the matter from all possible angles. “We interrogated three security guards — Peter, William and Robert — in connection with the incident,” said a source, adding, “About 50 people living in the vicinity have also been questioned to know whether any tension was brewing in the locality.” “The police team that visited the church today (on Tuesday) have found an empty kerosene bottle from the second floor stairs which clearly suggest foul play,” adding, “On Monday, the fire officials had told us that oil was coming out from the church when they were flooding the property with water canons to douse the flames.” On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters from the Christian community gathered at ITO and demanded swift action against the perpetrators. Commuters had a harrowing time due to the agitation that caused heavy traffic jams in the area. It was only after Delhi police commissioner B.S. Bassi assured the protesters that a special investigating team, led by a joint commissioner-level officer, has been constituted, that the crowd dispersed. Earlier, the protesters forcibly tried to enter the police headquarters to meet Mr Bassi, but were prevented from doing so leading to a face-off. A delegation was later allowed to meet the police chief. The protesters also alleged lapses in police action and said that a lot of time was lost and possible evidence destroyed before the law and order personnel reached the spot. Father Stanley Kozhichira, media director of the Delhi archdiocese, said: “The local SHO should be transferred as he had failed to prevent the incident.” Mr Bassi is learnt to have assured action against the policemen, if found at fault. A delegation led by Delhi Archbishop Anil Couto met lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung in connection with the fire as well. (Asian Age 3/12/14)

32. Catholic organisation complains to Obama about being terrorised by saffron forces (7)

MUMBAI: A Christian organisation from Mumbai has complained to US president Barack Obama about Catholic missionaries being “terrorised” by saffron forces in India. The outfit claimed to have received a “positive response” from Obama’s office when all they received was an automated reply directing them to another email address. The Watchdog Foundation led by former corporator Nicholas Almeida wrote to Obama to say, “We are grossly disturb (sic) by the recent events happening in Raipur district, Madhya Pradesh, India, where Catholic missionaries are being terrorised by the members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad. Christian missionaries’ schools in India are subjugated to humiliation (sic) and the freedom of religion guaranteed under the Indian Constitution breached with impunity.” The letter claimed the VHP is a “staunch supporter of the BJP government which is in power at federal as well as state level”. “This is nothing but a violation of human rights and both federal and state governments are doing very little to protect the interest of the minorities in India. There is absolutely free run given to the members of the Vishva Hindu Parishad, and if this trend is not stopped, the existence of the Christian minority in India would be in jeopardy. As such we kindly request you to take up the matter with the Indian prime minister during your forthcoming visit to India in the month of January 2015,” Almeida wrote. He received an automated email reply which said, “On behalf of President Obama, we appreciate hearing from you. The President has promised the most transparent administration in history, and we are committed to listening to and responding to you. In order to better handle the millions of electronic messages we are receiving and respond more quickly, we have implemented a new contact form on our website. This web form has replaced this email address. This email address is no longer monitored so we encourage you to resubmit your message through the link above.” When TOI asked Almeida why he chose to complain to a foreign country about domestic issues, he said, “Obama is a Christian president and he will come to India as chief guest for our Republic Day ceremony in January, so he may put in a word to PM Narendra Modi to look out for Christian interests.” Asked if an automated message comforted him he agreed it was something. (Times of India 3/12/14)

33. 500 Christians Join Saffron Party in Delhi (7)

NEW DELHI: For the first time, the Delhi BJP has held a special drive membership drive for Christian community on Sunday. The drive was carried out by the party minority morcha at four churches across the city and over 500 members from the Christian community had joined the party. President of the Delhi BJP minority wing Atif Rasheed said that the special membership drive had been held at four churches at Sacred Heart Cathedral Church, Gol Dak Khana, Mandir Marg, Turkaman Gate and Kingsway Camp for two hours from 10 am to 12 noon.  “At the special drive at four places, over 500 people took membership of the party and a similar drive will be carried out for next few Sundays in similar fashion,” said Rasheed. Reportedly the minority cell of the BJP, which always focuses on the Muslim community has decided to reach out to other minority communities in the city. Christians with around five lakh voting population spread across the 70 assembly constituencies are in the center of the BJP strategy for the upcoming Delhi elections. The BJP is also trying to enroll over 10,000 members from the community in next one month. (New Indian Express 8/12/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

34. Pregnant refugees in Australia protest over detention (13)

SYDNEY: A pair of heavily pregnant refugees were refusing to disembark from a bus in Darwin for the third day on Monday in protest against attempts to force them into detention for the remainder of their pregnancies. The women were brought to Australia from the Pacific island nation of Nauru, where Canberra detains asylum seekers to deter them attempting the dangerous boat journey to its territory, often from Indonesia. Nauru lacks proper medical facilities and the women, who were living freely on Nauru after receiving refugee status, were told that they would be housed in the community, Refugee Action Committee spokesman Ian Rintoul said. On arriving in Darwin on Saturday, however, they were placed on a bus to be taken to the Wickham Point detention centre, at which point they refused to disembark and enter detention. “This is an extreme abuse of the Immigration Minister’s power to detain people. Detention is only allowed to prepare for the purpose of a person’s removal from Australia or to hold someone while processing their claim for a visa,” opposition Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said. “The fact that the government is holding pregnant women on a bus in temperatures above 30 degrees is extremely concerning.” The Department of Immigration and Border Protection declined to comment. A spokesman for Immigration Minister Scott Morrison could not be reached for comment. Australia’s tough policies aimed at stopping asylum seekers include sending them to camps in impoverished Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they face long periods of detention while they are processed. The policies have been heavily criticised by the United Nations and human rights groups. (The Hindu 1/12/14)

35. Centre’s Proposed Land Swap Deal with Bangladesh Sparks Protests in Assam (13)

GUWAHATI:  The Centre’s move to go ahead with the land swap deal with Bangladesh has sparked off protests in Assam,with the Opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and some student organisations going hammer and tongs at Narendra Modi-led BJP-NDA Government. The influential All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU), which staged protests on Tuesday, lambasted the BJP for its alleged double standards. They wondered as to how something, which the BJP felt was not feasible ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, could turn out to be beneficial now. “In the run-up-to the polls, the BJP had expressed its reservations against the deal. Several national and state leaders of the party had openly criticised it. If that was the BJP’s position, why this volte-face now?” asked AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya. He insisted that the Centre must instead sign an agreement with Bangladesh that would make the deportation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants easy. The student bodies demanded that the Centre should check infiltration by choking all the roads used by the illegal Bangladeshi migrants. They also urged the Centre to talk to Bangladesh and sign an agreement to hand over the migrants saying it was more important than the land swap deal. Describing the Prime Minister as a good “actor”, the AGP said the BJP had cheated the people of Assam by changing its stand on the issue. “We demand that the seven BJP MPs from the state talk to the Prime Minister and convince him not to go ahead with the agreement,” AGP leader Kamala Kalita said. The PM had during his recent visit to the state asserted that the land pact would benefit Assam in the long run. (New Indian Express 2/12/14)

36. Australia toughens up immigration but lets in more refugees (13)

Australia’s conservative government today further tightened immigration laws to stop arrivals by sea but pledged to increase the overall refugee intake by 7,500 and free hundreds of children detained offshore. The amendments to the Migration Act which see a return to controversial ‘temporary protection visas’ passed through the lower house today morning after a late-night cliff-hanger debate in the upper house Senate. “This is a win for Australia,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said. He confirmed several hundred children will be among 1,500 people released from detention centres and placed in the mainland community. “We always said that three things were necessary to stop the boats — offshore processing, turning boats around and temporary protection visas and last night the final piece of policy was put in place.” The temporary protection visas grant refugees protection in Australia for three years but do not allow them to settle for good. “This will enable the government to deal with the backlog of 30,000 people who came to Australia illegally by boat under Labour,” Abbott told a press conference, referring to the previous government. “These people, if they’re found to be refugees, will receive temporary protection visas which means that no one coming to Australia illegally by boat can expect to get permanent residency.” Immigration Minister Scott Morrison said the official quota of refugees allowed into Australia would now go up to 18,750 a year. “We have got stronger borders at sea because of the powers we’ve given our maritime agency,” he told reporters. The legislation reflects the hardening attitudes Australian governments have taken against asylum-seekers attempting to enter the country on unauthorised boats. Only one boat has reached the Australian mainland since December, compared to almost daily arrivals previously under the Labour administration, when hundreds of people died en routeThe conservative government’s ‘Stop the Boats’ policies include turning back asylum-seeker vessels approaching Australian waters, which Morrison said would “ensure that the deaths at sea and the cost and the chaos and tragedy that prevailed under the previous policies of the previous government will always be a thing of the past.” The most recent case involved a people-smuggling boat carrying 38 Sri Lankans that was halted northwest of the Cocos Islands two weeks ago as it made its way to Australia. (Business Standard 5/12/14)

37. Nightshelters for Migrants in 5 Cities (13)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Night shelters for migrant labourers will soon come up in all five corporations in the state under ‘Thanal Veedu’. Administrative sanction has been accorded to the `50-lakh project, a budgetary announcement of the state government for the 2014-15 fiscal. The five corporations were chosen on the basis of high concentration of migrant labourers. The project was mooted by the Department of Urban Affairs. “At the lodging facility, both migrant labourers and people looking for a short-stay during night can get accommodation. Implementation will be the responsibility of corporations once the funds are sanctioned. They will be told to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) and an estimate,” said Urban Affairs director E Devadasan.  A night shelter has been mooted at Perumbavoor municipality, where a large number of migrant labourers from states such as Odisha, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Bihar and Assam are present.   Finding the right space and location for shelter would be the responsibility of corporations. The shelters will have facilities like dormitory, toilet and cloakrooms.   As per the Kerala Inter-state Migrant Workmen (Regulations of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules 1983, it is mandatory that employer/contractor provide rest rooms or other suitable alternative accommodation for night stay. Providing separate rooms for female migrant workers is also mandatory. (New Indian Express 8/12/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

38. U-turn: BJP govt won’t make Netaji files public (1)

NEW DELHI: The BJP-led government has declined to make public nearly 39 classified files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in sharp contrast to the demands of disclosure raised by its senior leaders when in opposition. In January, when the Lok Sabha election campaign was at its peak, the then BJP president Rajnath Singh, during a visit to Cuttack — the birthplace of Netaji — on the occasion of his 117th birth anniversary, had demanded that the UPA government make public the records related to the freedom fighter. Singh is now the home minister. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a recent RTI reply accepted that there were 41 files related to Bose, of which two had been declassified, but refused to disclose them, taking a position similar to that of the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government. “Disclosure of documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries. As such, these files are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) read with Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act,” the PMO said in its reply to RTI activist Subhash Agrawal. Singh had claimed during the election campaign that there was larger public interest in the disclosure of the documents, but the PMO under Modi seems not to be in agreement as is evident from the reply which considered the larger public interest disclosure clause — Section 8(2) — of the RTI Act — but chose to withhold the documents. (Times of India 1/12/14)

39. How to File An RTI Application Online (1)

With more and more Indians connecting to the Internet, it’s no surprise that many of our government agencies are also going online. Because of this it’s easier than ever to do things like apply for a passport or get a copy of your Aadhaar card. Since these digital services are new, people don’t always know how to make use of them, but we’re here to help. This week, we’re going to show you how to file a Right to Information (RTI) application online. The Right to Information Act 2005 makes it mandatory for the Indian government to issue a timely response to citizens’ requests for information in the public domain. Filing an RTI application is a very simple process unlike most other requests to the government. You can easily file an RTI application online, but you need to know a few details to do so. For one thing, you can’t file an RTI application for certain kinds of information such as matters concerning national security or if the data you seek could compromise someone’s safety or privacy. You can find the full list of information you can’t request here. The Right to Information is powerful, and these restrictions are in place to ensure that it isn’t misused. The other important thing about filing an RTI plea online is that you need to submit it to the correct authorities. There are different RTI authorities for Central and state governments, and you will have to send your query to the correct department as well. RTI applications for State Authorities will be rejected, but according to the website, if your application is sent to the wrong Public authority in the Central government, it can be transferred to the correct authority by the nodal officer. The full government guide to RTI is available here. The following steps will tell you how to file an RTI plea online in just few minutes This guide focuses on sending an RTI application to Central government bodies. Not all state government bodies let you file an RTI application online yet – on most of the state’s sites, you can just download the forms. Here’s how to file the application with the Central Government. 1. Go to the RTI website and click on Submit Request. Alternatively, click to go to the RTI application page, here. 2. Check I have read and understood the above guidelines and click Submit. You can now begin filling in the form for submitting an RTI application. Pick the correct Ministry and department and fill in your contact details. You have to enter your email id to complete the application, but if you want SMS alerts about the status of your application, then you can also enter your mobile phone number. If you don’t know the public authority to file your application with, use the search bar on top – it will help choose the ministry/ department and public authority. 3. You have to fill the entire form – so for example, even if you are not below the poverty line, you need to choose the correct option from the drop down menu. Click the menu, and select No (or Yes, if applicable – this waives the fee for submitting the plea). 4. Next to Text for RTI Request application, you can write your RTI request. This form limits you to 3,000 characters. 5. If your request exceeds 3,000 characters, or if you need to submit documents to support the application, click Choose File next to Supporting document. You can upload a pdf file up to 1MB in size with your plea. 6. Enter the characters in the image next to Enter security code. 7. Click Submit. 8. The fee for submitting an RTI application is Rs. 10. You can pay that via credit/debit card or net banking on the next page. 9. Once you’ve paid, you will be shown an acknowledgement with a unique registration number for your RTI plea. This will be sent to you via SMS and email as well. 10. You can check the status of your RTI application on this page.  (NDTV 3/12/14)

40. RTS topmost on Fadnavis’ priority list (1)

Mumbai: After the Employment Guarantee Scheme and the Right to Information Act, Maharashtra will set up the new Right to Service (RTS) Act. The Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP government has prioritised RTS legislation which if implemented will ensure that work is done at government offices within a stipulated period. Across the country, 19 states already have the Guarantee to Services Act, Madhya Pradesh being the first to implement it, followed by Bihar. Mr Fadnavis tabled the non-governmental bill of RTS in November 2011 when he was in the Opposition. If the bill is passed in both Houses of the state legislature, the beneficiary or applicant will get the documents concerned and certificates within a certain period.If the officer concerned fails to provide a certain certificate within a stipulated period, the applicant can appeal at first or second appellate authority within 30 days. If the appellate authority is of the opinion that the lower level officer failed to provide the service, he could be charged a penalty from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000, the bill has suggested. “If the RTS Act is implemented in the state, disciplinary action can be initiated against the officer responsible for any delay in services,” said a senior official from the law and judiciary department on condition of anonymity. Mr Fadnavis along with Eknath Khadse has suggested in the non-official RTS Bill that the state should institute a public service providing committee which will supervise services provided at government offices. The bill has suggested tabling the annual report before the legislature every year to ensure the Act is binding on all. The department, which provides the best service in the year should be awarded, the bill has suggested. RTS Bill will be tabled in the upcoming winter session of the state legislature, which starts December 8 at Nagpur. The RTS Act was mooted at a meeting of all chief ministers in the country in 1997 held by the then prime minister at New Delhi. The policy was drafted in that meeting to provide better services to the people. (Asian Age 4/12/14)

41. ‘Corrupt’ officials let mills function illegally, reveals RTI (1)

PILIBHIT: An RTI filed by a local activist revealed that the district food and marketing department has been indulging in corrupt practices for the last three years by allowing five blacklisted rice mills to operate despite orders from the district administration as well as the regional food controller. Activist Ankit Mishra, on Wednesday, produced details of the department’s records, that he had obtained under an RTI, before additional district magistrate (finance and revenue), Alok Singh, at the district headquarters in Pilibhit. Mishra told TOI that five rice mills of Puranpur tehsil area in Pilibhit, which earlier also had trading licenses for the purchase of grains, had been allowed to purchase wheat in the procurement year 2012-13. These mills were Bharat Rice Mill, Dayal Rice Mill, NK Sons, Nav Bharat Rice Mill and Guru Nanak Rice Mill. Providing copies of official records to TOI, Mishra said that these five mills had purchased wheat from farmers on behalf of government agencies. However, instead of supplying the purchased wheat to the government, they illegally sold a major portion of the stock in the open market. As the market price that time was higher than the minimum support price, they earned heavy profits on the sale. Finding them guilty of illegal practice and in breach of the government contract, the district administration blacklisted these mills and registered FIRs against them. The administration had also initiated proceedings of recovery against these defaulters but they are still pending. The regional food controller at Bareilly had issued guidelines to the district food and marketing officer, Pilibhit, in a letter dated November 20, 2012, that the blacklisted rice mills as well as those having FIRs in their names would not be provided with the paddy supply for hulling under any circumstances. However, ignoring the food controller’s orders, the food and marketing department attached these five mills to government paddy purchase centres in the same year. This reveals a nexus between the rice mills and the food and marketing department as the attachment process of the mills with purchase centres is still continuing, explained Mishra on the basis of the official records he got. When asked by TOI about the irregularities, the ADM said that he would promptly set up an enquiry on the matter and see that strict action is taken against defaulters. He said that the concerned employees as well the official of food and marketing department would also be enquired upon and necessary action would be taken. (Times of India 5/12/14)

42. Files on Netaji: MDMK to Hold Protest on December 23 (1)

MADURAI: Continuing his attack on the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, MDMK chief Vaiko today said the party would organise a ‘peaceful protest’ at Chennai on December 23 demanding the facts related to the mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to be made public. In a release, NDA ally Vaiko said the BJP had earlier wanted all the facts on the matter to be made public but now was claiming that it would affect diplomatic ties. He said the MDMK would hold a ‘peaceful demonstration’ on December 23 demanding release of all files regarding Netaji’s disappearance and to condemn the Centre for not disclosing the facts. Vaiko had last week condemned the BJP-led NDA government for declining to make public the classified files on Netaji’s disappearance and said his party would hold a protest pressing for the truth. Recently, the Prime Minister’s Office in a RTI reply accepted that there were 41 files related to Bose, of which two had been declassified, but refused to disclose them taking a position similar to that of the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government. The state BJP has recently slammed Vaiko for his criticism of the NDA government on various issues including Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s greetings to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and ‘imposition’ of Hindi. (New Indian Express 7/12/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

43. Ratio of girls in govt schools much less than national average (11)

JAIPUR: The percentage of girls enrolling in government schools in urban centers of Rajasthan has touched rock bottom. The data released for academic session 2013-14 by District Information System for Education (DISE), a body of HRD ministry, says that sex ratio in classes I to VIII in state is 84.5 girls for 100 boys. Needless to say that these figures are less than the national average of 92.5 girls for 100 boys. This dismal figure puts Rajasthan only ahead of Haryana which has ratio of 83.5 girls. Haryana also has lowest sex ratio in the country. Further, the ratio in primary schools in urban centers of Rajasthan (I-V) was 80 girls and in upper primary classes (VI-VIII), the ratio of girls to boys was 76. This explains that dropouts among girls become sharper in upper primary in urban centers which is very alarming. On the contrary, the sex ratio in rural centers of state is slightly better than the urban centers. The overall percentage of girls is 87 for 100 boys in classes I to VIII which was also lower than the national average of 95 girls to 100 boys. Even some BIMARU states fare better in girls’ enrollment. The low enrollments among the girls in urban centers raises question on the rapid pace of urbanization with dwindling status of girls. In 2013-14, the total number of students enrolled in classes 1 to VIII was 1.22 crore including 57 lakh girls. The overall sex ratio in enrollments have come down in the past few years. In 2011-12, it was 88% girls which further reduced by one percent with 87% in 2012-13. The latest findings by the DISE highlights a negative trend in the sex ratio. The sex ratio in Rajasthan in 2011 census in the age group of 0-6 age group was 888 girls for 1000 boys. The grim picture raises questions on the special schemes and polices launched to ensure rise in enrollment of girl students. Even the progress in Right to Education (RTE) parameters, which includes infrastructure development, has failed to improve the situation of girl students. Analyzing the figures, KB Kothari, former advisor of UNICEF in New York, said, “Ensuring general and social equity in elementary education is a huge challenge for the state. The non-availability of teachers and separate toilets for boys and girls in many schools are also reasons for the decline in numbers.” (Times of India 1/12/14)

44. NGO files plea against court order on nursery admission (11)

New Delhi: A civil rights group has moved court against the  single-judge order quashing last year’s guidelines on nursery admissions for the academic session 2015-16. The court on Friday had quashed the Lieutenant Governor’s guidelines and gave private schools autonomy to formulate their own criteria for admitting students to nursery classes. Social Jurist in its plea said there is no question of schools’ autonomy in admissions to nursery classes. “It is pertinent to say that section 13 of the RTE Act, 2009 which prohibits screening procedure has been upheld by the Supreme Court. So there is no question of an autonomy of the schools in the admission of tiny-tots,” said the plea. The High Court on Friday had said the admissions for the 2015-16 session will be carried out on the basis of the Ganguly Committee report instead of the Lieutenant Governor’s guidelines last year. But the NGO said in its plea that the Ganguly Committee’s report became irrelevant after the enactment of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act). “The LG’s guidelines were in larger public interest to prevent commercialisation of education and to render justice to small children,” the plea said. Experts said that if private schools are allowed to formulate their own criteria, they would start taking exorbitant amount to give admission to children. “The private unaided schools may misuse their power by introducing their own categories like children of national awardees, vegetarian students and parents opting school transport. They will give points for such categories,” said Sumit Vohra founder of www.admissionsnursery.com. (Deccan Herald 2/12/14)

45. 33 schools in district defy closure notices (11)

KOLHAPUR: At least 33 illegal schools in the district of the 58 that were sent notices to shut down six months ago continue to function unabashedly, Smita Gaud, primary education officer of Kolhapur Zilla Parishad, said on Thursday. These schools function without any government sanction or mandatory permissions. Gaud said the first notice was sent on April 9. “Kolhapur district had 34 primary and 24 secondary illegal schools till June. Of these 22 primary and 11 secondary schools still have not shut their operations despite an official notice from the Kolhapur Zilla Parishad (ZP) in June,” she added. The ZP’s education department had imposed a fine of Rs one lakh on 18 illegal high schools operating in the district as a warning to the others. The schools were told to wind up and deposit the fine amount or face a criminal case. Gaud said written orders to file cases against the erring institutions were yet to arrive. Under such circumstances, the department was toothless to take any action at present, she added. “Even though we have been told to lodge criminal complaints against such institutes, we have not received any written orders. It is holding us back from initiating any action,” she said. Many schools avert closure by applying as a self-financed institutes. There have been several instances of illegal schools getting approved by the school education department through this process, said Gaud. Last year, the state government had allowed over 2,000 self-financed schools across the state to function. Of these Kolhapur division had more than 250 schools. “We have conveyed the illegal status of many educational institutes to the state education department. But lack of timely action against them creates confusion,” Gaud added. The illegal schools, according to officials, are privately run unaided institutions. The non-recognition or disapproval for failing to produce documents or failing to follow required norms set by the state government make them illegal. Gaud added block education officers of the 12 talukas of the district have been asked to submit the latest status of illegal schools at a meeting later next week. According to earlier details published by the education department, most of the illegal schools belonged to the Shirol taluka. There were as many as 10 schools in the Shirol taluka which had been dismissed as illegal, followed by seven each in Hatkangale and Karveer and four in Chandgad. There were three schools each from the Kolhapur city and the Aajra taluka, followed by two schools from Panhala and Shahuwadi taluka and one school each from Kagal and Gadhinglaj taluka. The list, according to the officials, is yet need to be updated and will be done once the meeting with the block education officers is conducted. The education department earlier at the beginning of the academic year had appealed parents to be aware of the illegal schools in the district and to avoid admitting their wards in these schools. (Times of India 5/12/14)

46. Notice issued to parents of school dropouts (11)

Mysuru: The Education Department has served notices to 699 parents in Mysuru district asking them to send their children to school, failing which cases will be booked against them under the Right to Education Act. Similarly, the department is planning to send out more such notices in the next few days in a bid to reduce the number of school dropouts in the district. Over 5,921 children have been identified as school dropouts in Mysuru district in 2014-15, 3,220 boys and 2,701 girls. Mysuru North stands ranks first in the list of dropouts, followed by Nanjangud (898), Hunsur (771), and H.D. Kote (741). Mysuru Rural accounts for 673 dropouts, Periyapatna (453), T. Narsipur (452), and K.R. Nagar (297). Repeated appeals by the Education Department to parents to send back their children to school had failed to yield any result. The government has made compulsory education for children in aged 6 to 14 and has decided not to fail any student till the ninth grade in a bid to encourage them to pursue education.The department wonders why there dropouts when the government was providing facilities such as midday meals, milk, textbooks, and learning materials to students. An informal survey by the department points out that many parents particularly where Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and minorities were residing, were yet to realise the importance of educating their children. Chandra Patil, deputy project coordinator, Sarva Shikshana Abhiyana, Mysuru district, said the government had appointed attendance authority at the hobli-level.Mr. Patil said that of the 5,921 dropouts, the Education Department had brought back 2,855 children, including 1,606 boys and 1,249 girls, this year. (The Hindu 7/12/14)

47. Education department to revive 391 ‘Mahatma ke schools’ (11)

PATNA: State education department is to revive all the 391 Buniyadi Vidyalaya (basic schools) which were opened before Independence as per Mahatma Gandhi’s concept of providing necessary livelihood skill to every child at primary level. Education minister Brishen Patel has asked the officials to take necessary steps to fill the vacant posts of teachers and also build up infrastructure in these schools to ensure quality education. “Besides deputing teachers as a temporary measure, we have also been asked to prepare a separate recruitment rule for appointment of teachers and employees against the vacant posts in these schools,” an education official told TOI on Sunday. He said the minister, during a review meeting on Saturday, also asked the officials to explore the possibilities of upgrading the basic schools up to higher secondary level (class 12th). The basic schools currently impart education up to class VIII. The first Buniyadi Vidyalaya was set up by Mahatma Gandhi himself in 1939 at Brindavan village in West Champaran district. After decades of neglect due to lack of teachers and necessary resources, the ‘Mahatma ke schools’, as they are popularly known in the state, have been struggling for survival. Vocational training in majority of the buniyadi schools has stopped as they lack trained instructors, an official said. These schools used to impart training in spinning, carpentry, weaving, handicraft and farming till 1960s. Neither successive state governments took care of these institutions nor did the Centre allocate any fund to revive them. Former CM Nitish Kumar had formed a three-member committee of senior officials comprising the then education department principal secretary Anjani Kumar Singh, then principal secretary (health) Amarjeet Sinha and disaster management department’s principal secretary Vyasji to work out a revival plan for the basic schools. “The department is working to revive the schools as per the committee’s suggestions. Earlier, we had decided to appoint five teachers in each school, but now the number of teachers will be increased as the minister has ordered for upgrading these schools up to class XII,” the officer said. (Times of India 9/12/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

48. Only poorest of poor will figure in BPL list: CM (21)

SHIMLA: Chief minister Virbhadra Singh, on Saturday, said the state government would ensure that the names of persons living in poorest of poor conditions are incorporated in the Below Poverty Line (BPL) list. He also said there would be no pick and choose on political whims. Addressing the gathering at the annual felicitation ceremony organized by the Block Development Officers Association, Shimla, the CM said, “It has been observed that there were well-off families enjoying facilities meant for BPL people and were incorporated in the BPL list. This should be checked”.He said the BPL list should be made on the basis of the actual status of persons concerned and no undue advantage should be given to cronies of political functionaries at the grassroot level. He asked BDOs and other revenue officers to look into such malpractices and bring cases to the notice of the government. According to Singh, funds are often distributed at the will of elected representatives and do not reach the needy. He said it is up to revenue officials to ensure justice by taking initiative at the block level. The CM went on to underline the need for awareness on sanitation. He said officials need to concentrate on remote areas besides towns and cities. (Times of India 30/11/14)

49. Foodgrain supply under National Food Security Act to Eleven states (21)

Based on the preparedness and identification of beneficiaries for coverage under the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), reported by them, allocation of foodgrains to 11 States/Union Territories (UTs) namely, Bihar, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab and Rajasthan has started under the Act. This information was given by the Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Shri Raosaheb Patil Danve in a written reply in Lok Sabha today. The Minister said that based on requests received from some States/UTs, it is provided in the Act that if annual allocation of foodgrains to any State under the Act is less than the average annual offtake for last three years under normal TPDS, the same shall be protected. Taking this into consideration, State-wise allocation of foodgrains is indicated in Schedule IV of the Act. (Business Standard 2/12/14)

50. Notice to HUDA over treatment of poor at hospitals (21)

GURGAON: The state information commission has issued show-cause notice to Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for failing to provide complete information on below poverty line (BPL) patients treated at the private hospitals that were allotted land at concessional rates. The HUDA has been asked to respond to the notice by December 12 and appear before the commission on December 19 via video conferencing. In her order dated December 1, state information commissioner Urvashi Gulati wrote, “The commission is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to hold an enquiry under Section 18(2) of the act. The respondents (HUDA) and complainant shall appear before the bench through video conferencing.” On September 15, RTI activist Aseem Takyar filed a plea questioning “inadequate information” provided on BPL patients treated at the private hospitals by the HUDA in response to his application. “Private hospitals get cheap government land so that they provide treatment to those who can’t afford it. But most hospitals are not doing so. When I filed an RTI plea, HUDA gave me random name of patients, making it impossible to cross check if they were poor or not,” said Takyar. It took Takyar one full year to get what he calls inadequate information. He filed his first RTI application in September 2013 which the HUDA failed to answer within stipulated time because the hospitals refused share the information. After waiting for more than two months, he filed an appeal in November last year. He got a relief in June this year when the SIC directed the HUDA to get complete information from the private hospitals. After this, HUDA took more than two months to release a list of BPL patients but couldn’t provide details like their address or contact number. Takyar protested this and filed his second complaint before the SIC on September 15. Former HUDA administrator PC Meena had also admitted that the policy to treat poor patients was not being followed by most private hospitals. He had directed the hospitals to maintain proper records of BPL patients along with their contact details and documents proving their identity. The hospitals were also asked to submit patients’ register to a district-level committee every month. It was said that HUDA administrator would send a quarterly report in this regard to the state government. But the committee has still not been formed. “Why has the committee promised by the former HUDA administrator formed yet?” said Takyar. On the delay in formation of the committee, HUDA administrator Anita Yadav said, “It is to be constituted by the district administration wherein the estate officer of HUDA will be a member.” Deputy commissioner T L Satyparakash said the committee will meet within a week. “We have a plan to create an online platform so that all the information about the BPL patients treated by these hospitals can be accessed easily.” (Times of India 5/12/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

51. Labour law bill passed (14)

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Friday passed the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Amendment Bill, 2014. The bill seeks to bring in more transparency, accountability and better enforcement of the provisions of the law. Union minister of state for labour and employment Bandaru Dattatreya said that the bill is a social security measure. “It simplifies procedures regarding engaging labours. The EPF Universal Account Number will be a major benefit as it affords portability, transparency and efficiency,” said the minister during reply on a discussion on the Bill on Friday. Mr Dattatreya refuted the claims of the Opposition members that the government is compromising on the interest of workers. The bill proposes to change some of the provisions of the original Act of 1988 to increase the number of laws under which small establishments is exempt from furnishing returns. It amends the definition of “small” establishments to cover units employing between 10 to 40 workers as against the limit of 19 workers at present. The Rajya Sabha has already passed the Bill. (Asian Age 29/11/14)

52. Farmers, workers hold rally to assert their rights (14)

New Delhi: More than 10,000 agricultural workers, tribal and Dalit farmers, anganwadi workers, daily-wage workers arrived here to hold a people’s assembly. They said they have gathered in the Capital to draw Parliament’s attention to the National Democratic Alliance Government’s proposed changes to legal entitlements and social security, labour rights and access to natural resources. The workers and farmers gave testimonies on their access to public information, land, water, food security and social security entitlements as well as freedom of speech with the slogan ‘Abki Baar Humara Adhikar’. “If we hold a protest rally, only then the government will open MNREGA work as per demand in the village. Our children are allowed to reach Class VIII and after that they are unable to progress further, they are unable to get good education,” said Mayaram Jamre, a tribal farmer from Barwani district in Madhya Pradesh. The participating organisations included the All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, All India Democratic Women’s Association, All India Progressive Women Association, Chhattisgarh Kisan Majdoor Andolan, Ekta Parishad, Green Peace, Pension Parishad, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Campaign, Jan Swasth Abhiyan, Pension Parishad and Right To Food Campaign. (The Hindu 3/12/14)

53. Labour law violations in Govt sector: number of inspection declines (14)

New Delhi: Among key initiatives of the Narendra Modi government has been the fast-tracking of labour law reforms to put an end to ‘inspector raj’ and improving the country’s rank in the World Bank’s ease of ‘doing business’ index. However, when it comes to checking labour law violations, the number of inspections in the Central sphere, which includes banks, railways, defence, insurance, mines among others, has anyway been on the decline. For instance, with the number of contract labourers engaged in the Central sphere estimated at about 21,12,715 persons, the number of inspections under the Contract Labour Regulation Act fell to 6,990 with 4,084 prosecutions launched in 2013-14, against 8,146 inspections and 4,671 prosecutions launched in 2012-13, according to Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha last week. Under the Minimum Wages Act, the number of inspections in 2013-14 dropped to 13,099 with only 5,167 prosecutions launched against 15,460 inspections and 5,267 prosecutions launched in 2012-13. Under the Equal Remuneration Act, only 2,881 inspections were conducted in 2013-14 against 4,167 in 2012-13, with the number of prosecutions launched at 831 against 773, respectively. Even in the area of child labour, the number of inspections in 2013-14 fell to 1,380 from 2,421 in 2013-13, with no prosecution launched in 2013-14 against only 74 in the previous year. Only 609 inspections were conducted and 11 prosecutions launched in 2013-14 under the payment of Bonus Act, against 905 inspections and 39 prosecutions launched in 2012-13. (Busines Line 7/12/14)

54. Limiting MGNREGS to poorest districts will not help, finds survey (14)

NEW DELHI: Would confining India’s flagship rural jobs scheme to the 200 poorest districts direct the benefits to those who need it most? New data indicates that this is unlikely to be the case — little separates India’s poorest districts from others, and both sets rely on the scheme. In early October, reports surfaced that the Union government was considering restricting the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) to India’s 200 poorest districts to reduce its financial burden. Rural Development Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh told the Rajya Sabha in November that no such decision had been taken yet. Now, new yet-to-be-published data from the 2011-12 India Human Development Survey (IHDS) conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and the University of Maryland shows that when it comes to key indicators of marginalisation, there is not a lot to separate these districts from India’s other 476. India’s largest non-governmental household study, the IHDS, is a nationally representative dataset. In all, nearly 70 per cent of India’s poor live in better-off districts, the IHDS found. The average household in the 200 poorest districts is not poorer by much. Splitting India’s income distribution into five classes, the IHDS found that 22 per cent of people in the poorest districts were in the bottom fifth, as against 19 per cent in the other districts. Also, both the 200 poorest and the other districts have a similar share of marginalised populations. Both sets of districts currently use the MGNREGS; 28 per cent of rural households in the poorest districts and 23 per cent of the other districts have participated in the scheme. Among the households which participated, a slightly larger proportion of their income comes from MGNREGS in India’s better-off districts than in the poorest. “In the poorest districts, people are trying harder to piece together a livelihood with many different jobs. So, when they work in MGNREGA, they also have other work. In better-off districts, some people find better jobs. Those who are left out find work under MGNREGA programmes and are consequently more reliant on them,” Sonalde Desai, senior fellow at NCAER and professor of sociology at the University of Maryland, explained.  “Results from the IHDS suggest that targeting districts is likely to be ineffective and that it may be better to target households,” Ms. Desai wrote in a policy brief that will be published on Monday. Reducing the number of districts would “run against a fundamental premise of the Act: gainful employment that affords basic economic security is a human right.” 28 economists wrote recently to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (The Hindu 8/12/14)

RESERVATION

55. Dalit activists to hold rally to raise reservation demands (25)

New Delhi: Dalit activists will participate in a rally on December 8 to raise their demands before the government for reservations in promotions and passing of certain pending bills aimed at their betterment. “The main demands raised by us are reservation in promotions, redressal of SC/ST grievances, passing of Bill to strengthen the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, allocation of budget under Special Component Plan and Tribal Sub Plan as per population ratio,” Lok Sabha MP Udit Raj told reporters today. Raj, who is the national chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST organisations, which is hosting the rally, also said that he is hopeful of the new government and they should be given more time. “Dalits and tribals are very hopeful from the new government that they will get opportunity to participate in all walks of life. But since no developments can happen in miraculously overnight, they need to be given time but at the same time its important to let them know of the issues and demands,” the Dalit leader said. The confederation, which came into existence in 1997 has been raising demands for the dignity and rights of Dalits. This would be the organisation’s 17 rally, which is scheduled to be held at Ramlila Maidan in the capital. The other demands raised by them include recognition of caste certificate of one state in other state, ban on contract system in ‘safai’ work, regularising them and ensuring their time-bound promotion, equal education for all and recognition to SC/ST organisations by government departments. Raj also clarified that the motive of the rally is not a dharna aimed at gaining ‘political mileage’. “If we break the sequence of our rallies, our rank and file will get disillusioned and divided. We are gathering so that the government may feel our pulse and power,” he said. (Zee News 29/11/14)

56. 17 caste groups in Samajwadi Party, BSP crossfire plan stir (25)

Lucknow: Seventeen caste groups belonging to the most backward category (MBC) have been caught in crossfire between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party and, as a result, have been deprived of the entitlements in both, OBC and SC categories. The Samajwadi Party is keen to include the 17 MBCs in the SC category in the hope of earning their support and making a dent in the BSP’s dalit vote base but the BSP wants the SC quota to be increased before these groups are included in the SC category. The 17 MBC caste groups are now in the process of forming an umbrella organisation and then plan to stage a demonstration and dharna in Delhi to seek the Centre’s intervention in the matter. A BSP functionary said, “We cannot make dalits suffer without any reason. If these 17 MBCs are included in the SC list, the share of pie will get smaller and this will be unfair for the SCs. We have asked the centre to increase the SC quota by about 8 per cent and then include these 17 caste groups in the SC list.” The controversy over these 17 caste groups, that include Nishad, Kewat, Kashyap, Kahar, Bind, Rajbhar, Prajapati, Bhar, Mallah, Majhi, Tura, Gaur, Batham, Machua, Dheemar and Kumhar, began unfolding in 2005 when the then Mulayam Singh government issued a government order saying that these 17 MBCs would receive the same entitlements as SCs. This move was stayed by the Allahabad high court following a writ filed by the BSP. Later, when Ms Mayawati came to power in 2007, she quashed the GO and also asked the Centre to increase the Scheduled Caste reservation quota by another eight per cent before these 17 castes could be included. “Our purpose has been served. We have proved to dalits that we want them to get the facilities and even include those that have remained deprived for decades. It is the BSP that has set up hurdles because its interests are limited to particular sub-castes among dalits,” said a Samajwadi minister. UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has also renewed his interest in the issue and has promised to take the issue to its logical conclusion. He has also raised the issue in a meeting with the Prime Minister earlier this year. (Asian Age 2/12/14)

57. Parliament passes bill for amending SC list (25)

New Delhi: Parliament Monday passed a constitutional amendment bill to add more communities to the existing list of Scheduled Castes in many states. The Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which was earlier approved by the Lok Sabha, was passed by the Rajya Sabha Monday. The bill adds more communities in the list of Scheduled Castes in the states of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Tripura. It removes the Majhi community from the list in Sikkim. Urging the members to pass the bill, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said the amendment was necessary for betterment of lives of many people belonging to Scheduled Castes. The minister also said the government was not in favour of reservation for Dalit Christians and Muslims. (Business Standard 8/12/14)

58. Not in Favour to Give SC Reservation to Christian and Muslim Dalits: Centre (25)

NEW DELHI: The Government today said it is not in favour of bringing Dalits of Christian and Muslim  communities under the ambit of reservation for the Scheduled Castes. Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawar  Chand Gehlot said this during a discussion on a Bill to include more castes under SC category in four states and exclude one from it in Sikkim which was passed by the Parliament today. “We are not agreeable to it,” Gehlot said referring to a demand by some members in the Upper House to include Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in reservation for SCs. Citing a case in the Supreme Court in this regard, the Minister said that discussions can happen based on its outcome. Responding to demands from several parties on extending reservation in the private sector, Gehlot said this demand has been there for the last 15 years and it would be looked into. Gehlot was replying to matters raised by members during  the discussion on the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Orders (Amendment) Bill, 2014 which has been passed by the Lok Sabha earlier. Rajya Sabha also passed the Bill by a voice vote with most parties supporting it. The Bill was first tabled in 2012 but lapsed after the previous Lok Sabha was dissolved and the BJP government introduced it August in Lok Sabha. (New Indian Express 9/12/1

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

59. Women in Indian mental homes ‘treated worse than animals’, says report (1)

New Delhi: Intellectually disabled women in India are routinely locked up in institutions where they suffer sexual or other abuse and are “treated worse than animals”, a report by a human rights group said on Wednesday. Women are often dumped in overcrowded, state-run institutions lacking basic facilities in India, where mentally ill and disabled people are “ridiculed, feared, and stigmatised”, the Human Rights Watch report said. “Once they’re locked up, their lives are often rife with isolation, fear and abuse, with no hope of escape,” said Kriti Sharma, the report’s author. “Women and girls with disabilities face unique challenges — including sexual violence and denial of access to reproductive health — that men do not.” Called “Treated Worse than Animals”, the report is based on interviews with 52 women and girls who were in or had been in institutions, along with those of 150 doctors and family members. “The house aunty (staff member) who drops me to school hits me. She hits me here (in the institution) too. She slaps me hard with her hand,” an 11-year-old said in the report. “When she hits me, I feel like crying and I feel sad. I feel like crying in school too. I want to leave this place.” Some 1.5 million people suffer intellectual disabilities such as genetic Down’s syndrome in India, while another 722,826 suffer from mental illnesses such as bipolar, government census figures show. But experts say those figures are strikingly low for the world’s second most populous country where many health issues go undiagnosed. Vilas Bhailume, superintendent of a mental hospital in western Pune, said overcrowding was a major problem. “We only have 100 toilets for more than 1,850 patients out of which only 25 are functional. The others keep getting blocked. Open defecation is the norm,” he said in the report. Women with a range of disabilities and illnesses such as schizophrenia are often admitted against their will by their families or legal guardians, despite the fact that forced institutionalisation is illegal in India. “Relatives just dump patients at the hospital and think that’s it. They put fake addresses and phone numbers on the registration forms so we cannot contact them again,” a nurse at the Pune hospital said. India’s government launched a national mental health programme in 1982 to provide community-based services, but HRW says it is largely ineffective and lacks oversight. Sharma said many of the women she interviewed were desperate to leave, describing their treatment as unbearable. “Long-term warehousing of women and girls with disabilities is simply not the answer,” she told AFP. (Hindustan Times 3/12/14)

60. Women with no illness dumped in mental asylums: HRW report (1)

NEW DELHI: There are scores of women like Deepali who are being forced into institutions and coerced into taking medication for mental disorders when they need none, shows a new report by the Human Rights Watch — Treated Worse than Animals: Abuses against Women and Girls with Psychosocial or Intellectual Disabilities in Institutions in India . Documenting the stories of women and girls forced into mental hospitals and institutions, the report also talks of the life inside the institutions where they live in unsanitary conditions, face the risk of physical and sexual violence and experience involuntary treatment, including electroshock therapy. Illustrating how easy it is to institutionalise women without their consent, the report has testimonies from those who were tricked into institutions and even abandoned there. It also lists abuses and discrimination that women undergo there. “In one such institute in Delhi that had a capacity for 350, there were 900 women,” said HRW researcher Kriti Sharma. Based on interactions with such women, caregivers and medical practitioners, the report urges the government to take prompt steps to shift from forced institutional care to voluntary community-based services and support for people with disabilities. Forced institutionalisation is prohibited in India, but laws allow courts to appoint guardians to take decisions on behalf of people with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities, without their free and informed consent. “Women and girls with disabilities are dumped in institutions by their family members or police in part because the government is failing to provide appropriate support and services. And once they’re locked up, their lives are often rife with isolation, fear, and abuse, with no hope of escape,” said Ms. Sharma. The report is based on research conducted from December 2012 through November 2014 in New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, and Mysore. More than 200 interviews were done with women and girls with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities, their families, caretakers, mental health professionals, service providers, government officials and the police. While there are no clear official government records or estimates of the prevalence of psychosocial or intellectual disabilities in India, the 2011 census estimates that only 2.21 per cent of the Indian population has a disability – including 1.5 million people (0.1 per cent of the population) with intellectual disabilities and a mere 7,22,826 people (0.05 per cent of the population) with psychosocial disabilities (such as schizophrenia or bipolar condition). (The Hindu 4/12/14)

61. NHRC Notice To Tamil Nadu Over Fake Doctors (1)

NEW DELHI:  The National Human Rights Commission has issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government over media reports that 30,000 fake doctors have been practicing in the state. Taking suo motu cognizance of the issue, the National Human Rights Commission or NHRC issued notice to the chief secretary of Tamil Nadu, secretaries of the Medical Council of India and the Tamil Nadu State Medical Council, asking for a report on the action taken within two weeks. “According to a media report, there are 30,000 fake doctors practicing in Tamil Nadu, especially in the districts of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. This is affecting the health of people,” the NHRC said. The commission has observed that the contents of the report, if true, raise a serious issue of human rights violation. (NDTV 5/12/14)

62. NHRC seeks action-taken report on quacks in T.N.(1)

CHENNAI: The National Human Rights Council has issued a notice to the State government, the Medical Council of India and the Tamil Nadu Medical Council seeking a report on quacks practising as medical professionals. The notice follows an allegation levelled at a meeting of the Indian Medical Association that 30,000 quacks are practising in the State and they are concentrated in the backward districts such as Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. While the NHRC has sought an action taken report within two weeks, the doctors’ associations and health officials say they have not received the communiqué which was sent on Thursday. According to Tamil Nadu Medical Council vice-president K. Senthil, who is also a member of the IMA and president of the Tamil Nadu Government Doctors’ Association, the Medical Council of India or of the respective States have no hold on quacks or practitioners of the Indian systems of medicine. “We can take action only on doctors and medical professionals who practice without a valid licence,” he said. The TNMC Act has powers to take action against doctors who appear on electronic media and promote themselves, violating the norms of medical practice. Dr. Senthil said the IMA has a district-level committee through which complaints against quacks are registered. “But, such complaints are registered as cheating cases and action is taken for causing injury. But, the fine is meagre. Often such persons will shut clinics for a few days and then resume business. The State government must strengthen the Act and increase the fine and stringent punishment must be awarded,” he said. Also, the councils for each of the Indian Systems of Medicine have control over their professionals and can take action similarly. Dr. Senthil said the TNMC would send an appropriate reply to the Council after consulting their lawyers. Health officials, however, said that the number of quacks projected appears to be too large. “It is possible that the complainant has given an exaggerated figure. However, it is for the medical council to act on such complaints,” an official said. (The Hindu 7/12/14)

63. Land acquisition: intervention of NHRC, tribunal sought (1)

GUNTUR: Social activists have sought the intervention of National Green Tribunal and National Human Rights Commission in protecting fertile lands in Tullur mandal from forcible land acquisition. K. Mary Joy, social activist and chairperson of AP Mahila Mandali Association submitted a petition to National Green Tribunal, New Delhi, seeking an interim direction to the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) not to take any action through acquisition of farm lands belonging to pattadars without following the Environment Protection Act and to prohibit high rise constructions on river bank. Ms. Joy said that the State Government had intended to pool 33,000 acres of land in 27 villages in Tullur and Mangalgiri areas without following the Land Acquisition Act proceedings of 2014 and environmental laws. She further stated that government intended to complete the process without taking the mandatory environmental clearances and the social impact. The ambitious project to build a river front city would cause displacement of thousands of persons along with destruction of important cultural, historical and religious sites and symbols. The proposed land pooling should obtain clearances from Ministry of Environment and Forestry which appoints Expert Appraisal Committees to study the impact on the environment. While exercising its powers under Section 3(1) and 3(2)(v) of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (for short ‘Act of 1986’) and Rule 5(3)(a) of the Environment (Protection) Rules,1986 (for short ‘Rules of 1986’), the ministry had in the past issued several notifications with regard to prohibition and restrictions on the locations of industries and the carrying on of processes and operations.K. Vijayamma, a woman activist, also filed a petition before National Human Rights Commission seeking an interim direction. She alleged that the State government was violating human rights by taking over the livelihood of people forcefully. Stating that the proposed land pooling was illegal and arbitrary and in violation of human rights under Section 17, she sought a direction from NHRC. (The Hindu 9/12/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

64. ‘Judiciary has infused life in environmental laws’ (19)

SHIMLA: Expressing concern over the environmental effects of rapid industrialization and burgeoning population, Himachal Pradesh Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir said the judiciary has infused life in several environmental laws through its judgments, which existed merely on paper before. Inaugurating the conference, “Pollution-a Growing Menace,” organized by the HP State Legal Services Authority, the Chief Justice cited the example of the Supreme Court expanding the scope of right to life provided under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. He also cited the judgements of Supreme Court holding that the right to live includes the right to enjoyment of pollution free water and air. Chief Justice assured he would do everything in his power to protect the pristine beauty of Himachal Pradesh. Justice Sanjay Karol said he considered himself privileged to be a member of the green bench, which was earlier set up in the high court to hear environmental cases. He said the high court has passed many landmark judgments and orders against violators of environmental laws, be it a person or a group of persons, government authorities or statutory bodies. (Times of India 30/11/14)

65. Amendment in MTP Act, 1971 (19)

The Government of India has formulated a Draft Bill on Amendments to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. The Draft Bill has been prepared following extensive deliberations within an Expert Committee of representatives from Central & State Government Ministries/Departments, academic institutions including Medical Colleges, professional bodies & associations, development partners, technical agencies, NGOs and civil society. Opinion from general public has also been invited. However, the Draft Bill on Amendments has no reference to “abortion cases of utmost urgency”. The National Commission for Women (NCW) had proposed an extension of gestation limit for conducting MTP in case of certain vulnerable categories of women e.g. rape survivors, victims of incest, single (unmarried/ divorced/ widowed) and women with disabilities and also for cases of severe foetal abnormalities where these were detected after the existing gestation limit of 20 weeks. The recommendations of NCW were taken into consideration while preparing the Draft Bill. The Health Minister, Shri J P Nadda stated this in a written reply in the RajyaSabha here today. (Govt. of India PIB 2/12/14)

66. Justice VR Krishna Iyer, eminent jurist, dies in Kochi (19)

KOCHI: Former Supreme Court judge and Kerala minister VR Krishna Iyer passed away in a hospital in Kochi on Thursday, doctors said. Iyer celebrated his 100th birthday November 15 this year. “He (Iyer) is no more. He passed away at 3.30pm,” cardiologist Manu R Varma told reporters here. Iyer was in the hospital since last on Friday for treatment of pneumonia and his condition deteriorated in the past few days. Iyer became a judge of the Kerala high court in 1968 and remained there till 1971. He was also the member of the Law Commission for two years. In 1973, he was appointed the judge of the Supreme Court and retired in 1980. (Times of India 5/12/14)

67. Reply to PIL seeking waiver of loans to emu farmers: Bombay HC to Union (19)

MUMBAI: Bombay high court on Monday directed the Union ministries of finance and agriculture to file their affidavits in reply to a public interest litigation seeking waiver of loans along with interest for emu farmers who have suffered huge losses in Maharashtra. A division bench of justice Abhay Oka and justice AS Gadkari heard a public interest litigation filed by Jayashree Khadilkar-Pande and others seeking direction restraining respondents including National Bank for Agriculture and Rurul Development and other banks from taking coercive steps to recover the loans. According to the petition, the emu farming scheme was introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture without detailed research about the saleable value of the bird and creating markets for the same. It was NABARD’s report which said emu farming was a bankable project and hence banks may grant loans to farmers for the business. The petitioners’ advocate Mihir Desai told the court that the State government had recommended to the Centre to waive the loans and said a reply from the Centre has said the matter is pending with the Ministry of Finance. ” Union will have to take a decision and come out with a scheme. State has no role to pay,”said justice Oka. The judges then directed the ministries of finance and agriculture to file their affidavits. Advocates for Union Anurag Gokhale and Ashok Verma, sought time of six weeks to submit the affidavits. The matter is adjourned to January 19, 2015. (Times of India 8/12/14)

68. Panel nod for insurance bill (19)

New Delhi, Dec. 8: The Centre today moved closer to passing the amended insurance bill after a majority in the 13-member Rajya Sabha select committee cleared it. Panel head Chandan Mitra will table the report in the upper House on Tuesday. The bill is to be introduced by the end of this week, discussed next week and then passed unless the Congress changes its mind. The four main dissenters – Trinamul, the CPM, Samajwadi Party and the Janata Dal United – will append to the report their objections in separate notes. “We have so many issues, like the inability of FDI to penetrate the insurance sector and LIC’s spectacular growth in the last 10 years of Rs 15,000 crore, compared to the Rs 7,500 crore that FDI notched up,” Trinamul MP and committee member Derek O’Brien said. Although Trinamul still hopes the Congress will eventually take “a political call” and oppose the bill, K.C. Tyagi of the Dal United was not so optimistic. “The bill has been passed by the select committee,” he said. “The Congress and the BJP are together on the economic front.” Introduced by the UPA, the bill seeks to increase the cap on FDI in insurance from 26 to 49 per cent. The other key feature is that the definition of ownership and control will be embedded in the act, so it cannot be changed through an executive order. Among the bill’s supporters in the select committee were members from the BJP, Congress, Bahujan Samaj Party, AIADMK, Akali Dal and the Biju Janata Dal and Independent MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar. (The Telegraph 9/12/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

69. Custodial torture of students in Bihar provokes protest (1)

Patna: Hundreds of students Monday protested and ransacked the office of Veer Kunwar Singh University in Bihar’s Bhojpur district against the torture of two student leaders in police custody, an official said. Angry over their torture in police custody, students, mostly activists of Chhatra Samagam, the student wing of the ruling Janata Dal-United (JD-U), took to streets, blocked roads, burnt tyres, and ransacked the university office, a district police official said. “Students, belonging to the JD-U, protested and observed a black day today (Monday) against the assault,” a district official said. According to students, Chhatra Samagam leaders Prince Singh Bajrangi and Kumud Patel were detained and assaulted by police after being stripped. “The two student leaders were released Sunday following an intervention of Bihar Education Minister Brishen Patel. Both of them had multiple cuts and bruises caused by police assault in the custody,” said Ritesh Kumar, a student. The two student leaders were later admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital. JD-U activists also staged protests here against the incident and threatened to intensify protests across the state if an appropriate action is not taken against those involved. The district administration has suspended three police officials and ordered a probe into it. JD-U state president Vashisht Narayan Singh has condemned the incident. “Police have exposed their brutal face because the two student leaders were not criminal,” he said. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party targeted the state government over the custodial torture against the two leaders. (New Kerala 1/12/14)

70. Three cops indicted for Kolhapur custodial death (1)

KOLHAPUR: The criminal investigation department (CID), Kolhapur unit, has held three police officials responsible for the alleged custodial death of a 26-year-old man at the Peth Wadgaon police station, 15 km from here, in August this year. In a 1,200-page chargesheet, filed in the court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class at Pethvadgaon on Monday, the CID held the policemen responsible for the death of Jagdish alias Sunny PrakashPowar. Assistant police inspector Sanjiv Ramchandra Patil, assistant sub-inspector Baban Dadu Shinde and police naik Dhanaji Shivajirao Patil have been named in the chargesheet. The three cops have been under suspension since Powar’s death. CID officials have stated that the post-mortem report and statements of witnesses suggest that Powar was allegedly tortured in custody by the policemen. Deputy superintendent of police (CID) M S Patil said, “Following the investigation, we found the three police officials responsible for Powar’s death. The evidence includes statements of witnesses and the post-mortem report that said there were 23 injuries on Powar’s body.” (Times of India 3/12/14)

71. Min to visit police torture victim (1)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Home minister Ramesh Chennithala has promised to visit Ajeesh B of Puthuval colony in Kadinamkulam, who was allegedly beaten up by the Kadinamkulam police while in custody. Ramesh was responding to a request by opposition MLAs V Sasi and V Sivankutty who visited Ajeesh in the general hospital. The 22-year-old was taken into custody by Kadinamkulam police on Monday and was kept in the station for over 24 hours. He collapsed after reaching home and sought treatment at the general hospital, later complaining of brutal custodial torture. “There are no previous cases against Ajeesh. His neighbours have high regard for him. It is unfortunate that the police unleashed brutalities on a dalit youth without any legitimate reason,” said V Sasi who raised the complaint. He alleged that the police beat up Ajeesh using a coconut and a bunch of keys. “Officers who are responsible should be immediately placed under suspension,” he demanded. Ramesh Chennithala said the incident was being probed by Nedumangad DSP and there will be definite action based on his report. “Ajeesh was taken into custody as another youth Vinod who was arrested in a bike theft case named him as co-accused. The medical report says that Ajish complained about pain in shoulder and neck,”he said. When opposition members insisted that accused officials should be suspended immediately, Ramesh Chennithala said it would create a bad precedent. “Action will be initiated once the inquiry is completed,” he said. (Times of India 5/12/14)

72. Irom Sharmila’s fast enters 15th year (1)

IMPHAL: Sit-in-protests, hunger strike and demonstrations joined by students, civil society organisations and human rights activists were held in Manipur to express solidarity with social activist Irom Chanu Sharmila whose fast demanding repeal of the AFSPA, 1958 from the state entered its 15th year. Irom Sharmila has been on fast demanding the repeal of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSA) 1958 from Manipur since November 5, 2000, after ten civilians were killed in an ‘encounter’ by Assam Rifles personnel at Malom area near Imphal airport on November 2, 2000. Human rights activists from several parts of the country and abroad took part in Wednesday’s programmes across Manipur, spokespersons of Just Peace Foundation (JPF), Human Rights Alert (HRA) and Apunba Manipur Matam Eshel Kanglup, a major social organisation in the state, said.The protestors also demanded repeal of the AFSPA from the other north eastern states and Jammu and Kashmir. JPF, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Bangkok), May 18 Memorial Foundation (Korea) and HRA also oganised a hunger strike from 8 AM to 4pm on Wednesday. Activists including Binayak Sen from People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Public Health Physician (India), Lenin Raghuvanshi, secretary general and executive director of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), Sushil Raj Pyakurel of Informal Sector Service Centre founder and chairperson (Nepal) and Wardah Hafidz, coordinator of Urban Poor Consortium (Indonesia) joined the hunger strike and held a press conference. Expressing solidarity to her protest, Binayak Sen said they would continue to support her cause for the repeal of the AFSPA. The Act, he said, destroys the very essence of democracy and obstructs the progress of justice and more than two generations of Manipuris have grown up without knowing the meaning of freedom. Sen also urged the Supreme Court to expedite the adjudication of the Santosh Hegde Commission, appointed by the apex court in 2013, to investigate encounter killings in Manipur. Sushil Raj Pyakurel said credit should be given to the Human Rights defenders for supporting and promoting the movement of Sharmila. Lien from Gwangju (Korea) said people of the state should support Sharmila’s movement. (Times of India 7/12/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

73. Centre, Haryana get notice on attack on journalists (1)

The Supreme Court issued notice to the Centre and the Haryana government on Monday on a petition by a group of journalists seeking a judicial investigation into the alleged assault on presspersons during the recent police operation to arrest the self-styled godman Rampal at Barwala in Hisar district. A Bench headed by Justice T.S. Thakur sought their replies on the petition, which also sought punishment for “erring police officers” for resorting to a “lathi charge without caution and care.” The petition alleged that there was an increasing tendency among government authorities to “muzzle the press,” and sought “appropriate compensation” for the affected journalists and framing of guidelines to ensure the “free and fair functioning of the media.” The petition said the journalists were seeking justice for “violation of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution and freedom of the press, which means absence of interference by the State with the media, except in so far as it is authorised by the constitution and by enactments which are constitutionally valid.” (The Hindu 2/12/14)

74. “Media should be self-regulatory, govt should not control media” (1)

TUMAKURU: Chairman of Prasar Bharati, Government of India, Dr. A. Surya Prakash said that there should not be any regulation of the media by the government or any other external agencies. Delivering a special lecture on “Media in India” at Tumakuru University here on Wednesday, Mr. Surya Prakash said that “if there are any shortcomings in the media we should be self regulatory, we should not allow the government or any other external agencies to control the media.” He said that according to the Parliament’s order, Prasar Bharati is an autonomous corporation but it takes some time to achieve autonomy. He said 90 per cent of the staff working in Prasar Bharati are from the Central government. He said they should have their own recruitment board and have their own men to achieve autonomy. He said media has always focused on corruption but the strike rate has not been spectacular. He said a media person can become powerful if he follows the values and lives within the ethical framework. He said it is being contemplated to have Media Council of India in the place of Press Council of India in order to cover electronic and other media besides print media. Meanwhile, Author and Consumer Rights Activist Journalist, Pushpa Girimaji said that every year one crore people in India die due to diarrhoea as they drink poor quality water. She said in 2012-13, 1,847 people died in India while cleaning the manholes and soak pits. Vice-Chancellor of Tumakuru University, Prof. A.H. Rajasab, Registrar, Prof. D. Shivalingaiah and others were present. (The Hindu 3/12/14)

75. ‘No question of Sadhvi Niranjan resigning, says Venkaiah Naidu (1)

New Delhi: Despite proceedings in parliament being brought to a standstill today over Sadhvi Niranjan’s derogatory remarks, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said there was no question of the former resigning. “There is no question of Minister (Niranjan Jyoti) resigning at all. Let the Congress Party remember what they did with regard to Beni Prasad Verma,” Naidu told media persons here. Naidu also reminded the Congress Party about hate speeches made by its leaders. “Congress’s Beni Prasad Verma had made irresponsible, indecent remarks against several people, never took back his words nor apologized. Dr. Manmohan Singhji, who was then PM, expressed regret and we closed the matter,” he said. Members of the opposition staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha today over the Minister of State (MoS) for Food Processing Industries’ objectionable remarks. The Rajya Sabha was also adjourned till 2:37 pm over the issue. The Sadhvi had on Monday used abusive words to urge voters to choose between candidates, while addressing voters in west Delhi’s Shyam Nagar. Her choice of words had garnered strong criticism from various political parties. Jyoti later tendered an apology in the both the Houses of Parliament for her controversial remarks and said that she did not intend to hurt anybody by her statement. (New Kerala 3/12/14)

76. Arrest for being out of Bengal secretariat press corner, media told (1)

Kolkata: A policeman Friday threatened journalists they would face “serious consequences” including arrests if they move beyond the press corner at the West Bengal government’s temporary secretariat “Nabanna”.The verbal warning came in the afternoon from a policeman at the secretariat located in neighbouring Howrah. The policeman, who claimed he was acting under instructions from Deputy Commissioner of Police (Reserve Force) Ashes Biswas, reminded the journalists of a circular that spelled out the “Standard Operating Procedure” of movement within the secretariat earlier this year and said the violation of the instructions would lead to strong action. The circular issued Jan 15 had restricted the reporters to the press corner. “Movement of media persons from the press corner to any other part of Nabanna without Visitors’ Photo Entry Slip or approval of the competent authority for the purpose of media coverage is literally a breach of the SOP,” said the circular. It said only a reporter having a prior appointment with a minister or any officer would be allowed to move in areas beyond the press corner. However, the circular led to a storm of protests, and the government had then backed out from enforcing it. According to police Friday, some reporters “were habitually violating the circular, and going from one floor to another, and even barging into the rooms of officials without any prior appointment or permission”.The policeman, who gave the warning to the mediapersons, said they were liable to arrested if they breached the rules. But as opposition parties and the civil society lashed out against the government move to “restrict” movement of journalists, the home secretary tried to control the situation by blaming the “overzealous policeman. “He did not say the right thing by speaking about arrests. This is not the policy of the government,” said Home Secretary Basudeb BandopadhyayFaced with media criticism, the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress government has often crossed swords with the fourth estate. The government had earlier banned some newspapers from state-run libraries, while Chief Minister Banerjee herself time and again has asked people not to watch some television channels critical of her regime. (New Kerala 6/12/14)

77. Journalists may soon become judges of top courts (1)

Impressed with the speed at which journalists pronounce someone guilty, top jurists of the country are demanding that scribes be made judges at the apex and high courts. With the glaring examples of Badaun and Rohtak, the jurists believe this move will turn every court into a fast-track court. “Both TV and print journalists have been doing an amazing job by pronouncing verdicts within hours of a case being reported. This hasn’t happened before in the history of India,” quipped senior lawyer Nam Rasmalani. “They were faster than lightning in pronouncing the three youths as molesters in the recent Rohtak incident. I support the move to name reputed journalists to the highest court of the country so that justice can be doled out impromptu,” Rasmalani noted. If the move succeeds, there will be no ‘tahreek-pe-tahreek’ said a member of the judiciary, quoting the immortal lines of Bollywood star Sunny Deol delivered as an on-screen lawyer. “Instant justice hoga aab. Very similar to what is delivered by our encounter specialists,” she added. “This is indeed the silver bullet to tackle the issue of piling up of cases,” she added. Members of the media have welcomed the suggestion with open arms, which will soon become longer as they become law unto themselves. “Judicial processes are so slow and boring. We will bring a revolution to the whole process with our specialisation of making anything sensational,” said senior news anchor Barca That. “Whatever it is, I can assure you we won’t lie law,” said That. Journalists, however, claimed they are prepared for the new role. “With experience of passing verdicts at prime time every night the country couldn’t have found a better judge than me,” asserted Orny Gosueme, adding “The nation wants to know why we weren’t considered for the role earlier?” “With Gosueme in the judge’s high chair, lawyers would hardly get the chance to argue their case and it would save time. The verdict would be pre-decided and the pronouncement would take no time at all,” said renowned public prosecutor Sonu Nikam. “Gosueme judgmental about everything,” he quipped Nikam said journalists are used to media trials and should be appointed judges. He pointed out the speed with which the media reached the conclusion that the Yadav brothers raped and murdered the two sisters in Badaun. When Mocktale asked That what amicus curiae was, she said with her trademark I-know-it-all expression, “Amicus Curiae is the famous brother of Madam Curie.” (Times of India 6/12/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

78. Govt data shows big drop in communal violence across the country (7)

NEW DELHI: Uttar Pradesh led a nationwide decline in communal violence until October this year, with incidents in the state down by nearly half and deaths at one-third of the number recorded in 2013. The sharp drop in numbers though can partly be explained by the Muzaffarnagar riots last year which caused more than usual deaths and injuries. UP, which as per data presented in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday recorded the highest incidence of communal violence since 2012, witnessed 129 incidents (down from 247 in entire 2013) and 25 deaths (from 77) until October this year. However, the number of those injured due to rioting in the state was 364, still higher than the 360 injured reported in 2013. Ranking behind UP in terms of communal occurrences until October were states like Maharashtra (82 incidents), Karnataka (68), Rajasthan (61), Gujarat (59), Bihar (51) and Madhya Pradesh (42). Delhi, which had registered insignificant levels of communal violence since 2011, witnessed a spike this year with seven incidents, which caused one death and left 101 injured. This is big when compared to the figures of four, three and two incidents that were reported in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. Fatalities in Delhi were nil over the last three years and injuries at 8, 28 and 1 in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. While there was no major difference in incidents of communal violence reported from Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Gujarat as compared to the recent past, Madhya Pradesh, which has traditionally been a close third after Maharashtra in number of flare-ups, showed significant improvement with incidents and non-fatal casualties down by a half as compared to 2013. Kerala too witnessed somewhat of a turnaround, with communal incidents in the southern state down at just three and the injured at 13 from 41 and 65, respectively, in the whole of 2013. Though communal incidents and deaths were around the same levels in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Rajasthan, the number of injured fell significantly to 165, 151 and 116 till October 2014 from 352, 235 and 194 respectively last year. Nationally, incidents were down from 823 in 2013 to 561 until October this year, while the number of those killed and injured in rioting fell to 90 and 1,688 from 133 and 2,269 last year. Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, while placing this data as part of his reply to a Lok Sabha question, attributed communal outbreaks to “religious factors, gender-related disputes, alleged blasphemous portrayal of religion/religious symbols on social media/mobile applications, disputes over land belonging to religious sites and other issues”. (Times of India 3/12/14)

79. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti uproar paralyses Houses despite apology (7)

New Delhi: Strongly disapproving of controversial remarks made by its leaders, including Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked BJP leaders to refrain from statements that gave a bad name to the government and the party. The government had to face flak over Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s remarks at a public rally in New Delhi Monday, with the Opposition seeking an apology from the Prime Minister and sacking of his minister for making communal remarks and using an expletive. Though the minister apologised for her remarks, a united Opposition insisted that she be dismissed and disrupted the Parliament proceedings. The Rajya Sabha had to be adjourned for the day. Some MPs also demanded that a criminal case be filed against her for asking voters at a public meeting to elect the “sons of Ram” and not “illegitimate sons”. Sources said that at the BJP parliamentary party meeting, the PM told MPs to be cautious while making public comments, and asked them not to give any “address to the nation”, While Mr Modi did not name anyone while disapproving of controversial remarks by BJP leaders, sources said Ms Jyoti was later told that she should express regret over her remarks. Under attack from the Opposition, the minister said in the Rajya Sabha: “If certain words spoken by me outside the House have hurt someone, I take back my words and offer regret. However, if the House feels so, I am also ready to seek an apology.” In the Lok Sabha, she said: “My intention was not to hurt anyone. If my speech outside the House has hurt anyone, I express my deep regrets and accept…” The Opposition members, however, stormed into the well and demanded her sacking. “A mere apology will not suffice. She will have to resign,” they said. As soon as both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha met for the day, the Opposition members created an uproar over Ms Jyoti’s alleged communal remarks and using an expletive at a poll rally. Members from the Congress, SP, Trinamul and other parties rushed into the well, leading to repeated adjournments of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in the pre-lunch sitting. The Congress had given adjournment notices in both Houses on the issue, but they were rejected. Congress Lok Sabha leader Mallikarjun Kharge reminded Speaker Sumitra Mahajan of his party’s adjournment notices given over the reported statement of the minister and certain remarks by another minister, Giriraj Singh, in the past. Congress MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, who led the attack, was later praised by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was seen patting him after the minister was forced to express regret. When the Rajya Sabha reassembled at 2 pm after four adjournments, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury cited a Supreme Court as well as a Calcutta high court order to drive home the point that a mere apology was not enough and an FIR should be filed against her and she should be dismissed. He was supported by , Congress, Trinamul, SP and JD(U) members. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi sought to calm the Opposition by contending that the minister had already apologised and the matter should be put to rest. But the Opposition remained adamant as deputy chairman P.J. Kurien expressed his inability to take action as the remarks were made outside the House. Finance minister Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Rajya Sabha, said Ms Jyoti’s remarks were “improper and unacceptable”. He, however, said the House cannot decide whether her action was criminal in nature, and it should be left to the agencies outside the House. JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav said the issue was not just about one minister, recalling that another minister, Giriraj Singh, had some time back made controversial comments. Congress member Anand Sharma demanded Ms Jyoti’s arrest. Mr Yechury said that by apologising, the minister had accepted her “offence”, which is cognisable, and thus an FIR should be lodged against her. In the Lok Sabha, parliamentary affairs minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said it was a “serious” matter and the minister wanted to express her regret in the House. Later, addressing the media, Mr Naidu rejected the Opposition’s demand, saying the matter had ended after the minister realised her mistake and apologised. “She has realised her mistake and acknowledged it, so the matter ends there… She told me she never intended it, so I counselled her. What is wrong with it. As parliamentary affairs minister, it’s my duty to coordinate with ministers, the Opposition… She is a woman from an economically weaker background who has risen without all sorts of support.” He added that many Congress leaders had used objectionable words in the past too, and had never even apologised for those. (Asian Age 4/12/14)

80. Communal tension worries government (7)

New Delhi: Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra have witnessed communal tension in the last few days. This has become a cause for concern for the Union home ministry, which has got reports of communal incidents being reported from some parts of the four states. The areas where communal incidents have been reported are Allahabad and Meerut in UP, Nandurbar and Navi Mumbai in Maharashtra, Dharwad in Karnataka and Panchmahals in Gujarat where the police has registered a case and arrested two youth belonging to the majority community after they assaulted and injured youth of the minority community. On Wednesday, the MHA informed Parliament that 694 communal incidents were reported during January-October 2013 while 561 communal incidents were reported during January-October 2014. The ministry claimed the figures show there was a decline of 19 per cent in communal incidents during the period January-October 2014 in comparison to the corresponding period of 2013. It further said the activities of all organisations having a bearing on communal harmony in the country are under constant watch of law enforcement agencies and requisite legal action is taken, wherever necessary. (Asian Age 5/12/14)

81. DYFI blames Sangh Parivar for communal tension (7)

MANGALURU: The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) accused activists related to the Sangh Parivar of blowing the Ulaibettu group clash out of proportion and instigating communal tension in the area. In a press note, DYFI State president Muneer Katipalla said the clash in Ulaibettu on Friday night was following provocative actions by a group of people bound to Bababudangiri in Chikkamagaluru. Bajarang Dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other organisations had no right to call for a bandh and indulge in stone throwing on Monday. He also alleged the police arrested innocent persons from a particular community. Mr. Katipalla asked the State government to intervene in this issue and take stringent action and restore peace in the area. (The Hindu 9/12/14)

COMMUNALISM

82. New J&K govt to decide on Article 370, says Togadia (26)

Bharuch: VHP leader Praveen Togadia on Sunday said that it will be up to the BJP to decide on whether to abrogate controversial Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir if it comes to power after the election. Speaking on the sidelines of an event, the VHP’s international working president said, “It will be up to the BJP to decide what to do with Article 370 ( in the event it forms government in J&K).” The VHP has maintained a strong stance on the Article 370 stating that the country needs uniform civil code. RSS general secretary Bhaiji Joshi, who was accompanying Togadia, also took similar line on the issue of Article 370 saying that the ball will now in the court of the new Jammu and Kashmir Assembly after the results of the ongoing election are declared and the new government is formed. “We will accept the decision taken in the J&K Assembly,” he said. Joshi further emphasised that the BJP government in the Centre should take all steps to bring back black money from abroad. “Black money should be brought back to the country,” he said. The leaders of the VHP and RSS were in Bharuch to participate in a cultural programme organised to mark golden jubilee of the formation of the VHP which completes 50 years of its existence. The celebration included performance by students from the schools run by educational trusts supported by the VHP. Students from schools in tribal region performed highlighting educational activities being undertaken by these trusts. (Indian Express 1/12/14)

83. Muslims, Christians sons of Ram, those who don’t believe it should leave India:

New Delhi: Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has sparked off a controversy by claiming that everyone including Muslims and Christians are sons of Ram. She used expletives against rival political parties as well. “Modiji ka mantra hai na hum khayenge na khane denge. Ab aapko tyah karna hai ki aap kise chunenge, aapko chunna hai ki ramzyaado ki sarkar banegi ya h*******o ki sarkar banegi, ye aapko tyah karna hai (Modi has given a mantra that we will neither take bribe nor let others take bribe. Now you have to decide whom to choose. Will you choose the sons of Ram or thopse who are illegitimate),” she said. However, the BJP leader clarified her point saying, “I was targeting the separatist and anti-national forces. Why are people taking offence to that? What would you say to the people who attacked Parliament? What would you say to the people who attack our borders. All that I have said is that when Indians go abroad they are referred to as ‘hindustani’,” she said. The opposition parties have demanded a clarification from the government over the statement and sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s on it. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said, “We condemn the use of words by Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti. The BJP is practicing politics of division. The Prime Minister should answer this as she belongs to his Cabinet.” Other political also upped the ante against Niranjan Jyoti and called her statement a highly deplorable one. Biju Janata Dal leader Jay Panda said, “I am saddened to hear the use of this kind of language by a Cabinet minister. It is highly deplorable.” Nationalist Congress Party Majid Memon said, “What the Sadhvi said is inappropriate. It does not matter what a person’s religion is.” (IBN Live 2/12/14)

84. Opposition stalls Parliament, insists on minister Niranjan Jyoti’s sack over hate speech (26)

NEW DELHI: “Ramzada vs Haramzada” row continued to rock Parliament, with the opposition paralyzing Rajya Sabha for the second consecutive day while Congress and Trinamool Congress members protested in front of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha to demand that the errant minister, Niranjan Jyoti, be dismissed. The loud protests belied the government’s hope that Jyoti’s apology on Tuesday would have calmed the tempers, triggered by her remarks at a Delhi rally in which she said the choice before the voters was between ‘children of Lord Ram and illegitimate children’. No sooner did the Lok Sabha assemble with Modi on his seat that Congress and Trinamool Congress started demanding resignation of the minister. Congress leader Mallikarjuna Kharge said the minister’s apology amounted to admission of guilt and she should resign. The MPs then stormed into the Well with slogans “PM should respond who is the descendant of Ram and who is illegitimate”. Kharge insinuated that the PM had told his partymen that the minister had to be strengthened “in view of Uttar Pradesh”, suggesting political motives. The incessant sloganeering during the Question Hour forced an adjournment of ten minutes but the protests did not abate when the House resumed. Congress and TMC members then walked out. An exasperated Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said the minister was a first-timer and had realized her mistake, even referring to her “rural roots” to urge that the issue be allowed to rest. At the same time, he said Congress minister Beni Prasad Verma had called Atal Bihari Vajpayee as “neech” (lowly) and refused to apologise while TMC’s sitting MP Tapas Pal had threatened women with rape, no action was taken against him. He underlined that the PM had also expressed his disapproval with the remarks. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan urged the protesting members to restore order because the minister had expressed regret. The opposition members didn’t allow the Upper House to transact any business so much so that external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj couldn’t make a statement on PM’s foreign trips. Congress leader Anand Sharma said his party would settle for nothing short of the minister’s dismissal. He said the remarks made by the minister are “not only cognisable but also compoundable offence” under section 153(A) of the IPC and demanded that the PM should come to the House to announce her sacking. Renewing his demand for passing a condemnation resolution by the House, Naresh Agrawal (SP) said, “This House does not have faith in the minister and demands that she be sacked.” CPM’s Sitaram Yechury, “A mere apology will not absolve her of the crime.” (Times of India 4/12/14)

85. Police detains VHP workers for burning effigy of Hafiz Saeed in Vadodara (26)

VADODARA: Police on Sunday detained four Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers for burning an effigy of Pakistan-based terror outfit Jamat-Ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed in Nizampura area of the city. “Four Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) workers were detained on Sunday for burning the effigy of Hafiz Saeed in Nizampura area of the city,” a police station officer (PSO) in Fatehgunj area, Akshay Kumar Govind said. The VHP workers were detained for burning the effigy in public without taking any prior permission from the city police as well as disrupting law and order situation here, Govind said. The saffron outfit’s workers protested against Saeed for allegedly saying that Pakistanis and Kashmiris are “blood brothers” who cannot be separated. Bhagwan Bharwad, who led the protest against Saeed, said, “We want war with Pakistan. India should not hold any dialogue with Pakistan. Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind of the 26/11 attack and so he must be punished.” Bharwad also criticized the city police for detaining “patriots” like him and his co-protestors. “We are true ‘desh-bhakts’ (patriots). It is not fair to detain patriots. The police detained us for protesting against a terrorist,” Bharwad told reporters. Saeed, who is also the founder of the banned terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had said, at a public rally in Pakistan on December 4, that elections in Kashmir cannot be a substitute for plebiscite. (Times of India 7/12/14)

86. RSS holds ‘ghar vapsi’ event for 200 Muslims (26)

Agra: Members of at least 57 Muslim families were converted to Hinduism at a ceremony called ‘Purkhon ki ghar vapsi’, a mass conversion jointly organized by Dharma Jagran Samanvay Vibhag, an offshoot of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Bajrang Dal in Agra on Monday. RSS regional head Rajeshwar Singh said more than 200 Muslims were “brought back to Hinduism” in the mass event held in Madhunagar area of the city. According to organizers, the converts will soon be given new names. Talking to TOI, Singh claimed that around 5,000 more Muslims and Christians will be “brought back into Hindu fold” in Aligarh on this Christmas. “The grand event will be held at Maheshwari College in Aligarh,” he said, daring anyone to stop it. With saffron flags hoisted on rooftops of makeshift houses in this slum cluster, and matras being recited by priests, members of as many as 57 Muslim families washed feet of Hindu idols to mark their return to the religion. Long vermillion marks were put on their foreheads and they were given Prasad to eat. Later, RSS and Bajrang Dal activists gave them a ‘mantra’ to chant the whole day and prepared a list of all the ‘converts’, to get their voter IDs and Aadhaar cards made, with their new names. Sharifa, 40, was seen debating the right way of performing an aarti with her daughter-in-law, Afsha, in a small temple that has been erected by RSS men in the slum in Madhunagar. An idol of goddess Kali has also been placed in the temple, as majority of people living in the area hail from West Bengal. Sufia Begum,76, who is the oldest woman among the converts, told TOI: “I read Quran and offered namaz five times a day. Now at this age, I will read Ganesh aarti. I don’t find any major difference in the teachings of the two religions.” “The RSS people assured us that they will provide us better place to live, better food and schooling for my grandsons. I don’t mind change of religion, as religion doesn’t give us food to eat.” Rajeshwar Singh told TOI that RSS spends Rs 50 lakh every month on conversion of an average 1,000 families. “It spends Rs 8-10 lakh per month on fuel costs alone in west UP,” he added. “We have re-converted 2.73 lakh Muslims and Christians in Braj region that includes Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura, Firozabad, Etah, Meerut, Mainpuri and Uttarakhand since 2003. The upcoming mass re-conversion event in which some 5,000 Muslims and Christians will be brought back into Hindu fold will be headed by Yogi Adityanath on December 25 in Aligarh,” Singh said. Singh also claimed that RSS has taken possession of as many as 60 churches across the state, where no Christians worship now, “as they have all been re-converted to Hinduism”.”Ek din in girijagharo ki deewarein bhi gir jayengi aur hamara desh sirf hinduon ka hoga (one day these churches will crumble and our country will belong to the Hindus alone),” he added. Ajju Chauhan, the Bajrang Dal leader who zeroed in on the slum in Madhunagar and organized the mass re-conversion event, was overwhelmed after the puja. More than three dozen RSS and Bajrang Dal members were guarding the pandal to avoid any untoward incident. Talking to TOI, Aslam Qureishi, prominent Sunni leader of the city, said, “This is just a tactic of the RSS to misguide Muslims.” (Times of India 8/12/14)

TERRORISM

87. Burdwan blast case: Bangladesh arrests 3 more suspects (12)

“The three are members of JMB. We are suspecting that they have links with bomb-making (materials) discovered after the explosions in Burdwan,” a senior official of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) told reporters today. Deputy Commissioner Masudur Rahman briefly said three JMB activists have been arrested from the capital last night and the details would be disclosed later at a press briefing here. Another official familiar with the arrest said the three suspected militants were arrested along with some explosives. The arrest came shortly after a Bangladeshi security team returned home after sharing info on the issue with officials in India. Earlier, an National Investigation Agency (NIA) from India delegation visited Dhaka. A member of the Bangladesh delegation that returned home yesterday told reporters that law enforcement agencies of the two countries already launched simultaneous drives in their territories to capture over a hundred JMB operatives in line with a decision taken during the NIA team’s Bangladesh visit. “The drives are being carried out following the exchange of concrete information between investigators of the two neighbours regarding operatives of the banned outfit in India and Bangladesh,” the official told the Daily Star newspaper. He said JMB militants who crossed the border are already on the run as Indian investigators are desperately looking for them after the Burdwan blast. On October 2, two suspected JMB operatives were killed and another injured in an explosion at a house in Burdwan area, bordering Bangladesh. Earlier, Bangladesh police said they had arrested five operatives of JMB including its women front chief and wife of alleged key mastermind of the Burdwan blast Sajid under an intensified campaign against Islamists. (Business Standard 1/12/14)

88. 14 CRPF men killed in Chhattisgarh Naxal ambush, toll may rise (12)

RAIPUR: Within a day of Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh asserting that the state will become “Naxal-free”, Maoists struck in Sukma district on Monday, killing 14 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, including two officers. The Maoists allegedly adopted a cowardly tactic by using villagers as human shields for the ambush that took place about 6 km from Taarmetla, where 76 CRPFjawans were mowed down in April 2010 in the deadliest single-day insurgent attack yet on Indian security forces.”The Naxals used villagers as shields, so our troops couldn’t retaliate with full force as that would have cost villagers’ lives,” a senior CRPF officer said. “The slain officers included deputy commandant D S Verma and assistant commandant Rajesh Kapuriya. At least 13 to 14 jawans were injured,” a senior CRPF officer supervising the rescue operations said over phone from Jagdalpur, the divisional headquarters of Bastar. The toll could rise further as the wounded jawans would have to survive the night on first-aid at CRPF medical camps. The nearest hospital is 100km away. Helicopters have left for Jagdalpur to carry the injured to the state capital, but the evacuation could be done only on Tuesday morning. A CRPF officer said there could be casualties on the Maoist side as well. The daring attack took place on a day when a team of National Security Advisory Board was in Chhattisgarh to meet the CM and top officials on the security situation in Maoist hotbeds. CM Singh is learnt to have drawn the team’s attention towards Maoist cadres surrendering in Bastar and expressing hope that the region was on track to normalcy. CRPF personnel, drawn from paramilitary’s 223 and 206 battalions, were on an area domination exercise in the forests between Elmaguda and Errabore, where the rebels attacked. The precise location of the ambush is Kasalnar village, near Chintagufa and Chintalnar, close to Dornapal-Jagargunda road in Sukma district. “Our forces retaliated and engaged the rebels in a fierce encounter,” a CRPF officer said. The security forces in Bastar have been on a propaganda drive in the recent weeks following surrender of a number of Maoists, with many rebels saying they want to join the political mainstream. But there has also been criticism that those surrendering were small-time cadres facing court cases for giving support to the Maoists. Union home minister Rajnath Singh condemned the attack as an act of cowardice. He will visit Raipur on Tuesday to assess the situation. “My condolences to the families of our brave CRPF men who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. It was an act of cowardice. I strongly condemn this dastardly act of violence,” Singh said. He spoke to the CM, asking him to closely monitor the situation. Reinforcements were being sent to the area and the offensive was being led by CRPF inspector general (Chhattisgarh), H S Sidhu. Few days ago, Sidhu had announced the killing of 15 Maoists during an encounter with CRPF forces in Sukma near the same place where the Maoists struck on Monday. The Maoists had then fired at an MI-17 helicopter, flown in to evacuate the CRPF men wounded in the operation. (Times of India 2/12/14)

89. Five militants killed in Jammu and Kashmir gunfight (12)

Srinagar:  Five militants have been killed in an ongoing gunfight between a group of militants and the army in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district, authorities said Wednesday. “Two more terrorists have been killed in Nowgam infiltration bid that has been foiled by alert troops of the army,” a senior army officer told IANS. “Yesterday, three terrorists had been killed. The total number of terrorists killed in this incident so far is five. Two of our soldiers have also been injured. Till last reports came in, the operation was on,” he added. As people were voting in the state assembly elections in Kupwara Tuesday, alert troops foiled an infiltration bid from across the Line of Control in Nowgam sector by a group of heavily armed militants. (Deccan Herald 3/12/14)

90. Govt contradicts Amit Shah’s claim that Saradha money was used for terror (12)

NEW DELHI: BJP chief Amit Shah’s recent allegation that Saradha scam money was used to fund Burdwan blast has been contradicted by his own party’s government at the Centre. PMO on Wednesday told Lok Sabha that investigations so far has not found any link between the two and money from Saradha scam has not crossed the border to fund terrorism. The revelation was made on a question asked by BJP MPs Hari Manjhi and Prahlad Joshi. They had asked whether the government had sought details of the probe into Saradha chit fund scam after reports indicated that part of the money was routed to Bangladesh to fund terror activities. They also asked whether CBI has come across such a transaction. In reply, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said, “The investigation has so far not revealed any such transaction where money was routed to Bangladesh to fund terror activities.” As reported by this paper earlier, even NIA investigations into the Burdwan blast have not found any evidence to suggest what Shah alleged. Amit Shah had on Sunday attacked Mamata government in a Kolkata rally and accused them of trying to shield the terrorists involved in the Burdwan blast. “TMC leaders are involved in this blast” (Times of India 3/12/14)

91. Four JeM militants held guilty by HC of waging war against India (12)

New Delhi: Four Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants were on Monday convicted by the Delhi High Court for conspiring to wage a war against the country. Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Mukta Gupta held that Bashir Ahmed Ponnu, Fayaz Ahmed Lone, Abdul Majeed Baba and Shahid Gafoor “conspired knowingly to facilitate the commission of a terrorist act and have carried out an act preparatory to the commission of a terrorist act”.The court said Bashir, Fayaz and Abdul collected and brought the explosive substance and handed over the same to Shahid and held them guilty of various offences punishable under ant-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). “In the present case, the acts of Bashir, Fayaz, Abdul and Shahid were preparatory to the commission of the offence of waging war and abetting the same by entering into criminal conspiracy and concealing with the intent to facilitate waging of war. They were in possession of three kilograms of PETN (Pentaerythritol Tetranitrate), 6 hand grenades, 4 electronic detonators and 1 timer. “From the fact that arms, ammunitions and explosive substance which were capable of mass destruction were handed to Shahid, who was a Pakistani national and had unauthorisedly entered the Indian territory, it will be prudent and reasonable to draw an inference of criminal conspiracy to wage war against India,” the bench said setting aside their acquittal by the trial court. The judgement came on the state’s appeal against the trial court’s 2013 decision. As per the prosecution, the special cell of Delhi police had received a tip-off in January 2007 that JeM intended to carry out ‘fidayeen’ attack at some prominent places in the national capital and would be sending its operatives through Indo-Bangladesh border. Based on the tip-off, a trap was laid on February 4, 2007 and after a fierce encounter with police near Connaught Place all the four were arrested and a large quantity of explosives, grenades and cash were recovered from them. Allowing the prosecution plea, the court said it hasproved beyond reasonable doubt that Bashir, Fayaz, Abdul and Shahid entered into a criminal conspiracy to wage war against the country and collected arms, ammunitions and explosives with intention to wage war and concealed the design thereof. The court fixed December 12 to hear arguments on quantum of sentence. It said the convicts will appear before it on December 12, 2014. It further said in its 49-page judgement that “though in the present case there is no material evidence before this court to show that the respondents are members of a terrorist organisation, however from the acts of the respondents, which have been proved beyond reasonable doubt, it is evidently proved that they can be termed as members of a terrorist group/gang”. The court also held them guilty of conspiring to “raise funds as a terrorist gang to facilitate the commission of a terrorist activity”.  (Zee News 9/12/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

92. “Maoists who surrendered are facing villagers’ ire” (12)

RAIPUR: The outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) has said that some of their cadres are getting attracted towards the “corrupt surrender policy” of the government. “The revolutionary public terms those who surrender before police enemies of people. The revolutionary public hates such people. When such people are coming back to their villages, they have to face people’s ire,” claimed Gudsa Usendi, spokesperson of the Danda Karanya Special Zonal Committee of the CPI(Maoist). “Under this surrender policy, hundreds of crores of rupees of un-auditable funds are being given to the police and paramilitary officials, which is leading to criminalisation of security forces in conflict areas. The government has also declared internal rewards and promotions for security forces. To get the benefits of rewards and promotion, security forces are increasingly attacking villages and arresting tribal people, non-tribal activists and youths and declaring them Maoists,” contended the Maoist leader. (The Hindu 30/11/14)

93. 14 CRPF men killed in Chhattisgarh Naxal ambush, toll may rise (12)

RAIPUR: Within a day of Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh asserting that the state will become “Naxal-free”, Maoists struck in Sukma district on Monday, killing 14 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, including two officers. The Maoists allegedly adopted a cowardly tactic by using villagers as human shields for the ambush that took place about 6 km from Taarmetla, where 76 CRPFjawans were mowed down in April 2010 in the deadliest single-day insurgent attack yet on Indian security forces.”The Naxals used villagers as shields, so our troops couldn’t retaliate with full force as that would have cost villagers’ lives,” a senior CRPF officer said. “The slain officers included deputy commandant D S Verma and assistant commandant Rajesh Kapuriya. At least 13 to 14 jawans were injured,” a senior CRPF officer supervising the rescue operations said over phone from Jagdalpur, the divisional headquarters of Bastar. The toll could rise further as the wounded jawans would have to survive the night on first-aid at CRPF medical camps. The nearest hospital is 100km away. Helicopters have left for Jagdalpur to carry the injured to the state capital, but the evacuation could be done only on Tuesday morning. A CRPF officer said there could be casualties on the Maoist side as well. The daring attack took place on a day when a team of National Security Advisory Board was in Chhattisgarh to meet the CM and top officials on the security situation in Maoist hotbeds. CM Singh is learnt to have drawn the team’s attention towards Maoist cadres surrendering in Bastar and expressing hope that the region was on track to normalcy. CRPF personnel, drawn from paramilitary’s 223 and 206 battalions, were on an area domination exercise in the forests between Elmaguda and Errabore, where the rebels attacked. The precise location of the ambush is Kasalnar village, near Chintagufa and Chintalnar, close to Dornapal-Jagargunda road in Sukma district. “Our forces retaliated and engaged the rebels in a fierce encounter,” a CRPF officer said. The security forces in Bastar have been on a propaganda drive in the recent weeks following surrender of a number of Maoists, with many rebels saying they want to join the political mainstream. But there has also been criticism that those surrendering were small-time cadres facing court cases for giving support to the Maoists. Union home minister Rajnath Singh condemned the attack as an act of cowardice. He will visit Raipur on Tuesday to assess the situation. “My condolences to the families of our brave CRPF men who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. It was an act of cowardice. I strongly condemn this dastardly act of violence,” Singh said. He spoke to the CM, asking him to closely monitor the situation. Reinforcements were being sent to the area and the offensive was being led by CRPF inspector general (Chhattisgarh), H S Sidhu. Few days ago, Sidhu had announced the killing of 15 Maoists during an encounter with CRPF forces in Sukma near the same place where the Maoists struck on Monday. The Maoists had then fired at an MI-17 helicopter, flown in to evacuate the CRPF men wounded in the operation. (Times of India 2/12/14)

94. Rising number of surrenders may have prompted Maoist attack (12)

NEW DELHI: Senior home ministry officials on Tuesday said a record 327 surrenders by Maoist cadres in the Naxal pocket borough of Bastar over the past few months may have led a “desperate” CPI (Maoist) to hit back with a high-casualty attack against CRPF. As per data placed in Lok Sabha in reply to a question, Sukma, where a Maoist ambush claimed the lives of 14 CRPF personnel on Monday, witnessed 40 surrenders until November 24, though this was lower than the 92 surrenders reported in Kondagaon, 60 in Kanker and 54 in Dantewada over the same period. As for other districts in the Naxal-infested Bastar division, Bijapur saw 40 surrenders, followed by Narayanpur with 28 surrenders and Jagdalpur with four. Earlier statistics placed in Lok Sabha (until October 2014) put the total number of surrenders across the Naxal-hit states at 472, with Chhattisgarh alone accounting for 247. Obviously, the 24 days of November have seen a further increase in surrenders across Chhattisgarh to 327, which may have added to the anxiety of CPI (Maoist). “The tribals who joined Maoist ranks are increasingly getting disenchanted with the Naxal movement, which has now degenerated into more of an extortion racket than a class struggle based on ideology. The sharp rise in surrenders across Bastar division, a stronghold of the Maoists, has exposed the weakening hold of CPI (Maoist) over local tribals, who now want to shift to the mainstream,” said a senior home ministry officer. “Though Monday’s attack is a setback, one cannot wish away such casualties in the long-drawn war against Left-wing extremism. We have to sustain the momentum of the fight come what may,” a senior home ministry official told TOI. (Times of India 3/12/14)

95. Naxal’s central military commission lauds increased agitation in jails across India (12)

NAGPUR: The efforts of jailed cadres (political prisoners) of Naxal movement to shape up a steady movement in different jails across India have now found praise in the higher echelons of the Reds’ central military commission (CMC). It prepares the strategies to take on establishment. The commission has expressed its satisfaction in a document issued on the occasion of the ongoing 14th Peoples’ Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) week (December 2-8). The Naxals campaign vigorously during this week, observed to commemorate the formation of the PLG army, to highlight the ‘heroic’ exploits by their guerilla cadres and also work done by the other comrades to attract masses towards the movement. The CMC has urged its cadres to step up offensive against government security forces and vibrantly kick up campaigns for the party. It has also lambasted Prime minister Narendra Modi and his government for misleading masses with various projects. The commission has extolled the ongoing Naxal movements in central and other prisons. The Naxal cadres’ observing various significant days and weeks in support of their outfit’s agenda has been highlighted by the commission. The central body has also underlined the tenacious fights of the jailed cadres against various authorities for their rights despite languishing behind bars. A senior officer stated that one of the key focus of the Naxals are to ensure that they keep the jail authorities under pressure through different tactics so that they are not able to frustrate the reds’ campaigns inside the prisons. “The Naxals undertake hunger strikes, signature campaigns against authorities and also undertake symbolic movements to protest or support social issues inside the jails which form the basis of their agitations behind bars. The reds also try keeping the prosecution under pressure by involving in different agitations regarding the cases on them inside the prisons,” said the official. The commission has also claimed that the masses have sacrificed maximum in Dandakaranya, comprising Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, in the fight against government forces which included martyrdom of 13 women commandos. The military body also hailed the strong tactical counter offensives by their guerilla forces in the last one year despite central government’s increasing pressure on them through huge armed manpower deployment and penetrative operations. The commission has underlined the fact that Naxal guerillas have killed 70 personnel from different security forces and injuring another 132 in the battle zones. (Times of India 6/12/14)

TRAFFICKING

96. Trafficking gang busted, kingpin nabbed from Delhi (1)

RAIPUR: Calling it the biggest breakthrough, Chhattisgarh police camping in Delhi for two weeks, claim to have arrested the mastermind of the gang involved in trafficking of 10,000 minors, mostly tribals, from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Assam. By rescuing 20 minors, including boys, after a series of raids, state police said it is the first time that 15 traffickers and sub-agents have been arrested. Arrested accused Guddu was wanted in connection with 12 cases registered against him for abducting and trafficking minors from tribal Jashpur district. Chhattisgarh police had launched a hunt to apprehend the accused after the arrest of four traffickers during November 19 raids on his placement agency. Talking to TOI, state police officer Mallika Banerjee, who lead the raids, said, she was threatened with dire consequences over phone by the trafficker. Banerjee said Guddu used to run placement agencies with several other names to play safe, and would mention the age of minors, appointed for domestic slaver, as 18 years. Explaining as to how challenging it was to get hold of the accused, Banerjee said, “Guddu claimed to enjoy considerable clout in the region. He also offered me a bribe of Rs 10 lakh to keep mum and return.” But, Banerjee put up a brave front and continued to attend his calls to get clue about his location. “Pretending to strike a deal with him, I asked him to meet on Monday evening. He had brought along a briefcase carrying cash, but our alert cops apprehended him on the spot,” the police officer said. At least 700 placement forms have been seized from his possession, which indicate that there were several other children forced into slavery in Delhi, Jammu, Panipat and parts of Punjab. “Guddu has admitted to the crime and claims to be operating the gang since 2002. We reached him through his sub-agents, who were earlier arrested from Jashpur and Delhi,” Banerjee added. Guddu will be on police remand and will be taken to Chhattisgarh. More arrests are likely in next few days, said Banerjee. Rishikant from Delhi-based NGO, Shaktivahini, said, “Separate cases should be registered against Guddu and he should be awarded strictest of punishments.” (Times of India 3/12/14)

97. 25 women rescued during raid on Koramangala bar (1)

Bengaluru: The police raided ‘Club 99’, a bar in Koramangala 6th Block late on Saturday night and rescued 25 women who were allegedly forced to dance at the bar. The raid was conducted acting on tip-off that the bar owners lured women from other States promising them jobs and forced them into dancing at the bar. The police arrested the bar manager Parveen, along with seven other employees and 21 customers at the bar during the raid. A senior police official said the owners of the bar, Y.R. Shyamaraju and Rajesh Lingenahalli, were at large. A case has been registered against them for trafficking women and forcing them to dance at the bar. (The Hindu 8/12/14)

CORRUPTION

98. Anna censures PM on black money (5)

NAGPUR: Freedom fighter Kisan Baburao alias Anna Hazare on Monday flayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his pre-poll assurances of bringing back black money that is stashed abroad, tersely stating that “he didn’t act on what he speaks”. The Gandhian also warned of an agitation if the ill-gotten wealth isn’t brought back. He, however, praised Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, albeit indirectly, saying that “If he was not remote-controlled, he could take the state to numero uno position in all respects”. “Our PM delivers impressive speeches and I’ve also become fan of him. His public addresses in Nepal, Bhutan and other countries were widely appreciated. However, I realized that there is a big difference between what he speaks and what he does. His words don’t get converted into actions,” the anti-corruption crusader said. Tearing apart Modi’s claims on black money, Anna said that Modi had assured to bring it back within 100 days before the Lok Sabha polls, but even after six months there was no trace of it, as his government took a U-turn. The veteran social activist questioned the Modi-led government on why they made such false assurances when they knew the reality that names of those who had accounts in foreign banks can’t be disclosed due to various international treaties. “I had written a letter to the PM in this regard asking all these queries, but he sent only acknowledgement,” Anna said. Terming the contentious issue of farmers suicides as ‘unfortunate’, Anna said in the country where majority of population survives on agriculture, such incidents reflect very poor condition of the farming community. “All agriculture universities in state are regularly sending figures of crops production to the government, still no help arrived from them. Whichever party takes charge of the government, none of them are serious about the farmers,” he said. The Padma Bhushan recipient however refused to speak on his former ally in Jan Lokpal Andolan, Arvind Kejriwal. Even when he was quizzed by a student on why he favoured West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee, when her party was facing accusations regarding Saradha Scam, and not Kejriwal, Anna replied that he supported only her, and not her party due to her simplicity and sacrifice she had made. “She still lives in her old house and wears slipper. However, if Kejriwal leaves the party and comes back, I will welcome him. I have taken a pledge that I will never join any political party.” The 77-year-old activist, who fought for implementation of six laws, including the revolutionary Right to Information (RTI) Act, has now set sights on ‘Right to Reject’ and ‘Right to Recall’ Acts along with ‘Rights to Gram Sabha’. “I took up this fight since my youth days, and would continue to fight for the social and legal rights of the citizens till my last breath,” he said. (Times of India 2/12/14)

99. Perception of corruption in India improves marginally (5)

NEW DELHI: India has marginally improved its ranking on the global Corruption Perception Index this year, on the back of prosecutions of high-level officials and hope that the new leadership will reduce corruption, Transparency International said on Wednesday morning. India’s two-point improvement (on a total possible score of 100) did not count as a “significant change” unlike that in countries like Egypt, Jordan and Afghanistan. With a score of 36, India now ranks 85 among 178 countries, with countries like Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burkina Faso for company. Denmark ranks first, as it did in 2013, while Somalia and North Korea share the bottom spot. India is ranked better than all its South Asian neighbours except Bhutan. The composite index is made up of a combination of surveys and assessments of public sector corruption by international agencies including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. Of the nine surveys and assessments used for India, most relied on expert opinion on the extent of corruption and the rule of law and only one polled the general public. “The two point increase reflects the prosecution of high level politicians and civil servants associated with the 2G and coal block allocations, a sign that institutions are robust in establishing rule of law and sanctioning the corrupt,” Santhosh Srinivasan, Research Coordinator at Transparency International, explained in an email to The Hindu. “In addition, the new leadership appears to have a strong anti-corruption drive, thereby creating further hope for a reduction in the levels of corruption as faced by ordinary people and businesses alike in the country,” Mr. Srinivasan said. For this to go beyond rhetoric, further concrete steps and actions were needed including the enactment of all key pending anti-corruption bills, the setting up of a Lokpal mechanism, curbing illicit financial flows and deepening people’s access to information, Mr. Srinivasan said. Economic growth did not necessarily reduce corruption, Transparency International said, pointing to countries like China whose corruption perception had worsened during a high growth period. (The Hindu 3/12/14)

100. HC to govt: Decide on Lokayukta in 4 weeks (5)

CHENNAI: The Madras high court on Thursday asked the Tamil Nadu government to take a decision on constituting the anti-graft watchdog Lokayukta within four weeks. An order to this effect was passed by the first bench, comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice R Mahadevan, directing the authorities to consider and pass orders on the representation of R Kannan Govindarajulu of Kancheepuram district. In his petition, Govindarajulu said though Parliament enacted the Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, Tamil Nadu had not taken any steps to establish Lokayukta. He said that as per Section 63 of the Act, every state should establish Lokayukta within one year to deal with complaints of corruption against certain public functionaries. (Times of India 5/12/14)

101. Corruption hits poor the hardest: UN chief (5)

On the occasion of International Anti-Corruption Day Dec 9, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued a statement saying that corruption is a global phenomenon that strikes hardest at the poor, hinders inclusive economic growth and robs essential services of badly needed funds. “From cradle to grave, millions are touched by corruption’s shadow,” Ban said. “On this year’s observance of the International Anti-Corruption Day, we call again on people everywhere to get involved in breaking the corruption chain,” he stated. “Next year the world will agree a new post-2015 sustainable development agenda. Our aim is to empower individuals and catalyse governments, the private sector and civil society to help lift millions out of poverty, protect the planet and achieve shared prosperity and dignity for all. Eliminating corruption and its harmful impacts will be crucial to our future well being,” said the UN Secretary-General. Ban went on to say that to dismantle corruption’s high walls, “I urge every nation to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Corruption”.”Its ground breaking measures in the areas of prevention, criminalisation, international cooperation and asset recovery have made important inroads, but there is much more to do. Public services must uphold the highest standards of integrity and ensure that appointments are driven by merit. Public servants, as well as elected officials, must be guided by ethics, transparency and accountability.” The statement concluded by saying that the private sector also has a crucial role. “Good behaviour is good business. Business groups can convert anti-corruption action into firm support for sustainable development. “I call on everyone to help end corruption, and come together for global fairness and equity. The world and its people can no longer afford, nor tolerate, corruption,” said Ban. (New Kerala 8/12/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

102. Environment activists question committee formed to review green laws (9)

NEW DELHI: On what basis did the Ministry of Environment & Forests select members for the high-level committee (HLC) that recently reviewed the various environment laws? And did this HLC have the approval from the Prime Minister?  The EIA Resource and Response Centre, an NGO working towards environment protection, put forth these question to the MoEF through an RTI application filed by environmental activist Rohit Choudhury. To the query for bio-data of the members of HLC, the Central Public Information Officer of the Ministry said, “…the requisite information is not available with the CPIO”. To another query, the Ministry said the HLC has been formed under the rules and regulations notified under an Act of Parliament, however, there was no specific mention under which Act of Parliament it was constituted. Environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta said: “Here is a HLC that has been formed to review so many environmental laws. But the irony is that a committee is formed to review such important laws and it was not clear under which law it itself had been constituted. Everything about the HLC seems to be a hurried job to dilute the laws. This only reflects the casual manner in which the committee has been formed.” Mr. Dutta added, “The Ministry does not have their bio-data. We wanted to know on what basis did they select the very members for the committee.” The government had in September formed the HLC to review Environment Protection Act, Wildlife Protection Act, Water Act, Air Act, Forest Act and suggest appropriate amendments after assessing the status of their implementation vis-à-vis their objectives and after considering various court orders and judicial pronouncements relating to these Acts. The HLC was headed by former Cabinet Secretary of India T.S.R Subramanian and has Viswanath Anand, former Secretary, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Justice (retd.) A.K. Srivastav, retired Judge of Delhi High Court and K.N. Bhat, senior advocate of Supreme Court and former Additional Solicitor General of India as members. It has submitted its report to the government and sources said it has suggested single-window clearance system for projects, bringing noise pollution within the ambit of green laws, among others. (The Hindu 2/12/14)

103. Waste-to-wealth formula takes slumgirl to Lima (9)

KOLKATA: At the East Kolkata Wetlands, Mrinmoyee Naskar has taught dozens of women how to churn out office stationery and ‘papier mache’ gift items from discarded papers. On Saturday, she will travel more than 18,000km to tell the world how to turn waste into wealth. The 23-year-old graduate who lives in a slum opposite Goltala bheri at the Ramsar site is travelling to Lima to showcase the Trash2Cash project at the Climate Change Conference. Trash2Cash features among 12 projects selected as Lighthouse Activities from across the globe by a UN team as part of the Momentum for Change initiative. The Trash2Cash initiative evolved around four years ago when climate action group South Asian Forum for Environment (SAFE) was exploring solutions to Kolkata’s solid waste problem. What began as an experiment to recycle waste developed into an independent community enterprise led by women who live in slums. “The waste is segregated at source, diverting organic waste from the landfills to produce compost. Paper waste is recycled into marketable handicrafts at a workshop run by women,” explained Naskar, who will travel to Lima with SAFE officials Amrita Chatterjee and Chiranjit Chatterjee and explain the project to representatives of 128 countries between December 8 and 11. Naskar is the project’s team leader and looks after the enterprise, marketing, CSR promotion and training programme. Unfortunately, 45-year-old Maya Ghosh, who was a waste water fisherwoman and now heads the enterprise, cannot travel to accept the Lighthouse Activities award as she does not have a passport. While 18 corporate houses are currently engaged in the activity, recycling 5,000 kg of waste every week, SAFE is hoping to get international support to scale up the activity. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much help forthcoming from local municipal bodies. The trip to Lima is an opportunity to reach out to the likes of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation so that they can support to mainstream Trash2Cash as an urban climate adaptive issue. “More than 5,000 tonne municipal solid waste is generated in Kolkata daily. Dumping of this waste is polluting groundwater and emitting large amounts of methane gas, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. We have demonstrated that Trash2Cash is a solution. This community-based solid waste management business model addresses two challenges: it offers people living in slums employment opportunities and it reduces the environmental hazards of open waste dumps,” said Amrita Chatterjee, who has been supervising the project since inception. Commenting on Trash2Cash and the other 11 Lighthouse Activities, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres remarked: “These activities are assisting communities, cities, businesses, governments and institutions to move towards a low-carbon, highly resilient future.” Globysn Crystals director Pawan Churiwal is delighted Trash2Cash has made it to the Lima Climate Change Conference. “Being partners in the initiative, we feel proud of the association. Not only do rag pickers now have a better livelihood, the initiative contributes to the betterment of environment,” said Churiwal. Two other Indian initiatives: ‘Bhungroo’ on building agricultural resilience by harvesting rainwater and community-based Flood Early-Warning System to protect people from floods using ICT solutions is among the dozen selected. (Times of India 4/12/14)

104. Climate change to hit Karnataka harder than other states: Experts (9)

Bengaluru: Climate experts have warned that Karnataka is likely to be more vulnerable to climate change in India than other states. A report, ‘Transitioning towards climate-resilient development in Karnataka,’ has been prepared by 26 experts from institutions based in Karnataka (including Bengaluru), London and New Delhi under the leadership of Prof N H Ravindranath and Prof G Bala of IISc, to alert the State government to act fast to reduce consequences of climate change. Apart from experts from IISc, experts from the UAS, Bengaluru, the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bengaluru, the Integrated Natural Resources Management Consultants, New Delhi, and the London School of Economics – India Observatory, have all contributed in preparing this report on climate change impact for Karnataka. The preparation of such a comprehensive report using the latest techniques at the State-level in India is unprecedented, the experts say. The report is a culmination of the work of 14 years. The experts have stated clearly that Karnataka would suffer heavily. The State, they point out, has 68 per cent of its farmland without irrigation, frequent droughts, a large share of its electricity being generated by hydro projects and some regions facing severe and perennial water shortage. They point out that in terms of areas prone to drought, Karnataka is next only to Rajasthan – 54 per cent of the State’s geographical area is drought prone, which is about 88 of 176 taluks and 18 of 30 districts. “There is adequate evidence to show that climate change has already affected crop productivity, forest bio-diversity, hydrological processes and human health adversely,” the experts have argued. The specific impact they say is in terms of warming. Most parts of Karnataka could experience 1.5-2 degree Celsius warming relative to the level during the pre-industrial period (1880s) by as early as the 2030s under the likely high-emissions scenario. Water yield in the part of the Cauvery basin in Karnataka is projected to increase by about 35 per cent, according to an hydrological model. Dependable flow in many reservoirs would be 75 per cent to 90 per cent by the middle of the present century. Also, parts of Cauvery basin (in Hassan, Mandya and Mysuru districts) will experience severe water stress by the same time. Reduced availability of surface water, higher water stress for crops, floods and drought make the affected districts particularly vulnerable to climate change. Kalaburagi, Raichur and Yadgir would be the worst-hit. Assessment of the impact of climate change on five key crops of Karnataka shows that the yield of rice, maize, sorghum, red gram and ragi is likely to decline by the 2030s, setting off a food crisis. In Karnataka, forest and bio-diversity types will experience change by the 2030s. The implication is that future climate may not be suitable for the existing forest types and bio-diversity and can result in forest dieback. The consequences are severe for the flow of ecosystem services and for bio-diversity. In the Western Ghats, both evergreen and deciduous forests are likely to be seriously threatened. The Bangalore Climate Change Initiative-Karnataka, in collaboration with Global Green Growth Institute, Seoul, South Korea has now completed phase 1 of the project aimed at promoting climate-resilient development of Karnataka. The team has alerted that the State needs to develop and implement coping strategies to deal with the current climate variability and build long-term resilience to long-term climate change. (Deccan Herald 8/12/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

105. Droughts, unseasonal rains push Jalna farmers to agricultural labour (20)

Jalna: An angry silence greets one on entering the village of Dhasalgaon in Jalna district. Perpetuating agrarian crises for the last three years have made the once-proud farmers of this village poor. Despite the newly elected Bharatiya Janata Party government’s announcement that it seek a Rs. 4,500-crore package from the Centre, farmers in Jalna have wearied of the lip service that Mumbai’s mandarins have been paying them for the last decade or so. “Till 2011, the modest earnings from my field would see us through. Today, every single member of our family is out toiling as daily wage labourers in fields of bigger farmers”, says 50-year-old Subhash Mane. The cotton output of Mr. Mane’s four-acre farm has been steadily declining in quality since 2010. This year, unseasonal showers ensured there was no growth at all. Dhasalgaon, one of the 8,000-odd villages across Maharashtra where the crop yield has been less than 50 paise, is a microcosm of the condition of farmers throughout the districts of the rain-fed Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. While braving the rain-deficit years of 2012 and 2013, unseasonal rain this year has transformed farmers with small land-holdings into a class of helots. But their ‘masters’ — the so-called richer farmers who own between 40 and 50 acres of farmland — have been hit equally hard. “Unseasonal rains have cruelly crushed hopes here in Ambad taluk. We ourselves have no work to offer to smaller farmers as our fields have been ruined, the cotton crop stunted,” says Kantirao Shinde, who owns a 20-acre farmland. His sweet-lime trees have been devastated by consecutive droughts, while this year he is forced to make do with paltry harvest of low-grade cotton. In 2012, Jalna was one of the worst districts in the entire country, reeling under the effects of a missing monsoon. Here, as in other drought-prone parts in Maharashtra, work under the United Progressive Alliance government’s flagship rural jobs guarantee scheme, the MGNREGS, only exists on paper “Both me and my wife are out toiling from six in the morning to six in the evening. We barely earn Rs. 250 per day. Work is hard to find,” says Parmeshwar Shinde, who owns a two-acre cotton farm. “Why cannot politicians think about preventive measures? The new BJP government is no different from anyone else,” says an irate Vasant Vanikar, who has a Rs. 2 lakh debt to repay. Those belonging to the so-called lower castes, only recently come in possession of land, have it even harder. Rajabai Manjulkar, 28, with her four-year old child in tow, has to journey 20 km to a neighbouring village for an 11-hour stone-crushing job. “We owned a plot of land in the 1990s. However, we had to sell it off in 2012, as we could not cope with the costs of crowing cotton. We hope the new government excuses our debts,” says a careworn Ms. Manjulkar, who still aspires to buy back her plot of land. Until government proclamations translate into action though, farmers here clutch at straws as the vicious cycle of despair continues unabated. (The Hindu 30/11/14)

106. Record 120 farmers killed themselves in Maharashtra in November: Activist (20)

NAGPUR: A record 120 debt-ridden farmers are reported to have committed suicide in November in the drought-hit Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra, an activist said here Monday. “While at least 65 farmers ended their lives in Marathwada, another 55 took the extreme step in Vidarbha region,” Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari said. In the past 24 hours alone, around two dozen farm folk have committed suicide, according to available figures, claimed Tiwari. He added that the current agrarian crisis has so gripped farmers that average of four distressed farmers are now killing themselves daily, breaking all past records. He said a VJAS delegation would visit New Delhi Tuesday and attempt to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to apprise him of the grim situation in the agrarian sector of the state. The maximum deaths have been reported of farmers cultivating cotton and soyabean besides other cash crops and fruits – raised in over five million hectares – which have been destroyed in the drought, he added. Tiwari lamented that despite all efforts, the state and central governments have turned a blind eye to the farmers’ plight, leaving them with no options but end their lives. “We have estimated losses worth around Rs.60,000 crore due to the drought, but the state government has demanded only Rs.4,000 crore central relief – how will this suffice?” he asked in a reference to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ statement last week. VJAS secretary Mohan Jadhav added that till date this year the farmers suicide figures have crossed 1,000 in Vidarbha and 1,200 in Marathwada. “In order to provide immediate relief, the state must seek Rs.20,000 crore central aid for crop losses, another Rs.20,000 crore to tackle the serious drought conditions and Rs.20,000 crore to waive off farm debts,” Jadhav demanded. Tiwari reiterated the long-pending demands for total farm loans waiver, food and health security for the farm folk, education and other social aid for the farm widows and orphans. (Times of India 1/12/14)

107. Maharashtra seeks Rs 4,500 cr package from Centre to help farmers (20)

Mumbai: Concerned over the recent farmer suicides, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said his government is working round-the-clock to mitigate their hardships and has sought a Rs 4,500 crore financial package from the Centre to provide them necessary assistance. The Chief Minister said he was saddened by reports of farmers committing suicide because of bad crop and drought and appealed to the farmers not to lose heart and assured them that his government was doing all that is possible to help them. The drought situation is severe and decisions like waiving electricity bills, fees waiver of 10th and 12th class students in drought-hit areas, restructuring of crop loan and stay on recovery of loan have already been taken, Fadnavis said in a statement issued here. He said that his government was constantly monitoring the situation and firmly stood by the farmers in the grave situation. A 75-year-old farmer, distressed over crop failure, had allegedly ended his life at a village in Akola district last week. Besides, seven suicides by debt-ridden farmers were reported in the past few days from Vidarbha, which was toured by Fadnavis last week, according to Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (VJS), an NGO which has been tracking such deaths. With these deaths, the number of farmer suicides in the cotton belt, facing water scarcity and agrarian crisis, has gone up to 1,022 till now this year, Samiti’s president Kishore Tiwari recently claimed. A delegation of farmers led by Tiwari had met Fadnavis in Amravati last week and presented a list of demands. (Zee News 3/12/14)

108. No scientific evidence to prove GM crops harmful: Prakash Javadekar (20)

New Delhi: There is no scientific evidence to prove that Genetically Modified crops would harm soil, human health and environment, Government said on Thursday. Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar’s response came to queries in Rajya Sabha over the recent controversial decision of biotech regulator — the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s (GEAC)– granting approval for experimental field trials of 12 GM crops for the purpose of generating biosafety data.The 12 crops ready for field trials include cotton, rice, castor, wheat, maize, groundnut, potato, sorghum, brinjal, mustard, sugarcane and chickpea. Javadekar said GM crops particularly GM corn, canola, soybean and cotton are being cultivated and consumed by human beings as well as animals in many countries the world over as food, feed and processed products. “There is no scientific evidence to prove that GM crops would harm soil, human health and environment,” the Minister said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha. “GM crops have beneficial traits such as insect resistence and herbicide tolerance, stress tolerance, fungal resistance, disease resistence, salt tolerance, drought tolerance, enhance yield and nutrition etc., that may help in food security,” Javadekar said. He said in view of various concerns related to the safety, efficacy and agronomic performance of transgenic seeds, extensive evaluation and regulatory approval process takes place before any GM plant is approved for commercial cultivation. The Minister’s statement came even as two RSS linked outfits have sought a ban on field trials of genetically-modified crops, cleared by the GEAC. Representatives of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh had met Javadekar in July after the GEAC had cleared proposals for confined field trials of rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton. The Manch and Sangh members had told the Minister that it is “not advisable” to allow GM Crops without proper scientific evaluation about their probable long term impact on human health and soil. Last week, Javadekar had informed the Lok Sabha that there is no ban on GM crop field trials either by the Government or the Supreme Court. (CNN IBN 5/12/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

109. Modi, the PM of corporate giants: Medha Patkar (4)

INDORE: Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar on Saturday, while dubbing the Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the PM of corporate giants, alleged that the height of Sardar Sarovar dam was being raised to benefit select industrialists in Gujarat. She was in city to lodge a protest against raising height of the dam and later addressed media. She said that raising height would make nearly 45,000 farmer families homeless. Farmers along 210 km stretch will be affected due to raising height. She also leveled corruption allegations on senior government officials in land acquisition and giving compensation to the people whose land came in submerged area. (Times of India 30/11/14)

110. Medha Patkar detained for bid to enter water ministry (4)

New Delhi: Social activist Medha Patkar and many supporters of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) were Monday detained by police for attempting to enter the water resources ministry without appointment with Minister Uma Bharati.  The protesters came to the capital as part of the Narmada Sangharsh Yatra from Badhwani in Madhya Pradesh. They wanted to meet the minister to press their demand for reduction in the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam in Gujarat and proper rehabilitation of people on the banks of the Narmada river. “Patkar and the other members of the NBA tried to enter the ministry without proper permission,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central Delhi) S.B.S. Tyagi told IANS. A statement from the NBA said: “The sequence of events today poses a serious question to the current government’s claim of the people coming first, environment being a prime concern and democratic dialogue being the basis for decision making in development of the country.” The NBA announced that a rally will be taken out Tuesday against the government’s decision to raise the height of the dam. (Business Standard 1/12/14)

111. Land Acquisition Will Be Made Easier: Centre (4)

NEW DELHI: Lending her ears to the industry on problems faced by it in acquiring land, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the government will consult all stakeholders to make the land acquisition law “an enabler, rather than a stifler”.The Commerce and Industry Minister said that the industry has been voicing concerns that the existing Land Acquisition Act makes it almost impossible for them to acquire land. “…If that is how difficult it is made for acquiring land, certainly we are as a government committed to see what best can be done because it cannot stifle the very reason for which it has been brought. “There is work going on, I am sure the government will come up with something in consultation with all stakeholders on how this Act can be made an enabler rather than a stifler,” Sitharaman said at Indian Economic Conclave organised by ET Now here. The Land Acquisition Bill, which was passed during the previous UPA regime with then opposition BJP supporting it, seeks to set a fair compensation for farm land being taken over for industrial projects. However, concerns have been raised from various quarters that the law has made land acquisition very difficult and was slowing projects. Some states have also come out openly against the law, saying it had adversely impacted the process of acquiring land for infrastructure projects. The Rural Development Ministry has already suggested a number of amendments to the Land Acquisition Act that will water down provisions such as mandatory consent of at least 70 per cent locals for acquiring land for PPP projects, and 80 per cent for private projects. (New Indian Express 6/12/14)

112. Survey finds 14,000 acres govt land in capital region (4)

VIJAYAWADA: A survey conducted for the first time by Andhra Pradesh on demography and extent of government and private land in 29 villages, where it plans to build its new capital city, has revealed that as much as 52,000 acres of farm land is available. Of this, government land (assigned) is 14,000 acres and land in possession of private individuals is 38,000 acres. According to sources, the government is expected to take over the entire 52,000 acres either through land pooling or land acquisition in the first phase itself. The government had earlier proposed to acquire only 30,000 acres in the first phase. By the government covering land and population in these villages has triggered a fresh controversy. The survey revealed that there is 14,000 acres of government land in these villages. Farmers fume at the government for its ‘land hunger’ as it has been planning to acquire agriculture lands in all the 29 villages. The government has identified about 38,000 acres of agriculture patta land in the 29 villages. While 21 villages in Tulluru mandal have 33,247 acres of agriculture patta land, eight villages in Mangalagiri and Tadepalli mandals have 5,000 acres. Besides private patta land, there are different types of government land, including ‘grama kantham’, village ‘poramboke’, tank ‘poramboke’, temple land and forest land. The forest and endowments departments own around 1,300 acres in the area. Although most of the government land is under the control of private individuals, the state wants to reclaim it by paying a reasonable compensation to the farmers. “Initially, the government said it needed 30,000 acres for the new capital city, but now it is planning to take over 52,000 acres. It is simply mindless acquisition at the cost of livelihood of thousands of small and marginal farmers,” said local farmers’ leader Mallela Harindranath Chowdary. With the farmers of upland areas in Tulluru mandal willing to part with their land, which accounts for about 15,000 acres, the government can go ahead with construction of the capital city by reclaiming 14,000 acres of its own land, without touching the private property in the riverbank villages, Harindra observed. Meanwhile, the government said the identified 29 village had a population of nearly 1.2 lakh of which 32,140 are SCs, 4663 STs and 65,000 from other castes. In all, 10,656 farmer families are residing in the capital area and of them 1919 are from SCs, and 417 from STs. Meanwhile, under pressure from ministers and local legislators, a group of 17 farmers, mostly from the ruling TDP, left for Hyderabad to discuss the issue of land pooling with Chandrababu Naidu. (Times of India 8/12/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

113. Malaria outbreak kills six jawans in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar division (3)

RAIPUR: Security forces deployed in anti-naxalite operations, are facing threat due to outbreak of deadly malaria in the forests of tribal Bastar region of Chhattisgarh with death of six jawans from August 14 to November 27 and more than a dozen admitted in hospitals. According to doctors the jawans were diagnosed with plasmodium falciparum which is transmitted by female Anopheles mosquito. Malaria caused by this species is most dangerous form of malaria, with the highest rates of complications and mortality. The outbreak has called for team of 21 experts from Regional Medical Research Center for Tribals (RMRCT) from Jabalpur to conduct surveys on number of patients, their treatment and cause of prevalence of malaria in the region. Inspector general of police, Bastar range SRP Kalluri told TOI, “The RMRCT team would conduct survey at five identified districts of Bastar division at Kanker, Kondagaon, Bastar, Sukma and Bijapur from November 28 to December 15.” “Over 20 jawans were diagnosed with malaria from a new camp at Jheeram valley which came up only last week, eight jawans were airlifted to Raipur hospital. With onset of winters the disease erupts usually at new camps and now jawans from other states dread coming to this part of Chhattisgarh or joining a new camp. The area to endemic to malaria and even jawans with strong immunity fall sick to mosquito bites,” Kalluri said. However, according to reports more than 100 jawans from Bastar division were diagnosed with malaria with large number of jawans from Chintagufa and Katekalyan, Konta and Jagargunda. IG said that the jawans were facilitated with mosquito nets and odomos anti-mosquito repellant to keep safe but they have to spend lot of time in forests so it wasn’t possible to use them every time. However, jawans believe it was not just the mosquito but also water that cause spread of disease very fast. There’s popular belief among them, “Yaha pani piyo aur bimar pado” (drink water here, and fall sick), a jawan said. According to district malaria officer Dr Ashwini Dewangan, although jawans work under inhospitable conditions, few preventive measures may act like a boon for them. “While using repellant, regular fogging in region, mosquito nets are among basic preventive measures, indoor residual spray can be used in the camps to stay safe. Covering stagnant water near the camp with sand or making way to it to drain out would not cause breeding of mosquitoes. However, putting Gambusia fishes which are easily available, in the ponds or water bodies will help to a great extent as the fish feeds on mosquitoes’ larvae,” Dr Dewangan said. While Chhattisgarh stands second in country with 78,974 malaria cases this year, as per the latest statistics of National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme statistics, the report shows four malaria related deaths reported in Chhattisgarh so far this year. However, according to statistics of police department about 40 jawans die every year in Bastar division. (Times of India 30/11/14)

114. Survivors recall Bhopal gas tragedy on 30th anniversary, demand compensation (3)

Bhopal:   Survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy, which occurred 30 years ago, on Wednesday recalled the night when toxic gas leaked from a pesticide factory in the city and killed thousands. In the early hours of December 3, 1984, around 40 metric tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas accidentally leaked from the U.S. multinational Union Carbide-owned plant and was carried by the wind into the surrounding slums. The government recorded 5,295 deaths. Activists estimate 25,000 people have died from illnesses in the years since. Many more are said to be dealing with cancer, blindness, respiratory difficulties and immune and neurological disorders, but with no support. Mahesh Lal Kushwaha, one of the victims, said he has been disappointed by previous governments. “That day around, 2 o’clock in the morning, our eyes started burning and we all started coughing. When we stepped out, it was all smoky. We could not understand what was happening and everybody started running. My father and my two sisters died. When I gained conscious, I was in a hospital. I have no clue who took me there. In the 30 years since then, our health has suffered a lot. We have neither received any treatment nor compensation,” he said. On Tuesday, people had held a candlelight vigil and called for the clean-up of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste, buried by the company inside and outside the plant. The waste has seeped into the ground and has poisoned the drinking water of 50,000 people living around the site. Activists want this waste removed and disposed off away from the area, and feel government authorities, who now own the site, have fumbled on taking action – either by clearing up the waste itself or in pursuing Union Carbide to take responsibility. Meanwhile, another survivor Ramesh Kumar stated that the government has given them paltry amount as compensation. “I have so far received a compensation of Rs. 50,000. I cannot walk or work and my lungs are also damaged. I want full compensation from the government,” he said. The Madhya Pradesh Government said that the Supreme Court decides which beneficiaries are eligible for compensation and free health care. The state’s principal secretary at the department in charge of relief and rehabilitation for Bhopal’s victims, Pravir Krishn, said that every affected person has been listed and this has been put before the Supreme Court and the apex court has decided, after extensive examination of their cases, what is to be paid and to whom. Krishn added that some impoverished families seeking compensation for sicknesses or medical help for their disabled children, who suffer from diseases such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, were not from contaminated locations, suggesting they falsely claimed to be victims of the tragedy. He further said the state has provided Rs. 4,000 crore to 5.75 lakh people identified by the Supreme Court as being affected by the disaster, built six state-of-the art hospitals and provided houses for many victims. (New Kerala 3/12/14)

115. 527 patients registered under the national anti-tuberculosis drug resistance survey (3)

PUNE: A total of 527 patients have been registered under the national anti-tuberculosis drug resistance survey by end October, 2014 and there is no evidence to suggest that a person with MDR-TB may not spread a disease which is also MDR-TB. The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) has initiated a national anti-tuberculosis drug resistance survey in a representative sample of 5214 patients consisting of newly diagnosed sputum smear-positive pulmonary TB cases and previously treated sputum smear-positive pulmonary TB cases. The nationwide drug resistance survey (DRS) will provide RNTCP with a better estimate on the burden of Multi-Drug Resistant Tuberculosis in the community. This survey will be the first national level survey for TB drug resistance in India. As part of the survey, the samples will be subjected to susceptibility testing for 13 anti-TB drugs (5 first line drugs and 8 second line drugs). The government is implementing services for programmatic management of drug resistant TB (PMDT) since March 2013. Under the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme, diagnosis of Drug Resistant TB is conducted through quality assured drug susceptibility testing currently available at 58 Culture and drug susceptibility testing (C-DST) laboratories, of which 49 laboratories are also equipped with rapid molecular test named Line Probe Assay(LPA). Cartridge Based Nucleic Acid Amplification (CBNAAT) Test Machines have been installed at 89 sites for early detection of Rifampicin resistance among TB cases. These rapid diagnostic tools provide opportunity for early diagnosis followed by early initiation of treatment which helps in preventing the disease from spreading to others. Diagnosis and treatment for both, drug sensitive and drug resistant TB, under RNTCP, is free of cost. (Times of India 5/12/14)

116. Lack of infrastructure at tribal hospital near Thavalam in Attappady (3)

Attappady: It was only last week, sixty five-year-old Nanjan from Rajiv Nagar tribal hamlet near Thavalam in Attappady was diagnosed with severe visual complications by an eye specialist and recommended for an ocular surgery. But authorities at the Government Tribal Specialty Hospital at Kottathara, near here, expressed their helplessness when Nanjan approached them for surgery as the hospital lacked the minimum facility for conducting the surgery. Though the hospital lacked facilities for eye surgery, the government has made available the full time service of an eye surgeon long back. Now he remains helpless in the face of requests from visually challenged Adivasis. “In the face of growing infant mortality deaths, the government has ensured services of 52 doctors and more than 500 nurses and other para medical staff for ensuring the well-being of tribals here. However, the lack of certain essential facilities are preventing us from discharging the duties in an effective way to protect tribal health,” points out R. Prabhudas, Deputy District Medical Officer in-charge of Attappady belt. According to the hospital authorities, the major hindrance in conducting any kind of surgery at the hospital is the lack of a central oxygen supply facility. Lack of a centralized power backup facility is also preventing the doctors from undertaking surgeries and other complicated health procedures. A number of essential operation theatre equipment are also not available. “The establishment was visualized earlier as a 100-bed hospital exclusively for tribals. Now it has just 54 beds. The number of inpatients on Monday was 120. It is woefully short in the case of beds,” points out K Sukumaran of Attappady Samrakshana Samithy. Many of the patients, including pregnant women, are sleeping on the floor. In the labour ward, two women have been allocated a single cot. Hospital staff say on occasions, even new born babies and their mothers would be forced to sleep on the floor for want of beds. “Another block for the hospital with additional 46 beds can be constructed very easily. Then only the congestion would ease,” says Eswari Resan, district panchayat member of CPI. (The Hindu 9/12/14)

HIV/AIDS

117. 497,000 people affected by HIV/AIDS in China (3)

Beijing: The number of HIV/AIDS cases in China had touched 497,000 by the end of October, with 154,000 deaths, the latest official figures said, according to reports Sunday. Vice director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission, Wang Guoqiang, revealed the figures Sunday at an HIV/AIDS awareness promotion event, ahead of the World AIDS Day Dec 1 and highlighted an obvious increase in the number of HIV carriers and AIDS patients, Xinhua reported. Noting that there is a low pandemic situation in the country overall, except in some regions, Wang said that sexual transmission is the main source of infection, while mother-to-child, and drug and needle infection rates are low. According to Wang, infections among young students, the middle-aged and the elderly have been particularly noticeable. A total of 3,413 anti-virus treatment institutions have been set up in 31 provincial regions, and more than 9,000 voluntary HIV test stations have been set up nationwide. Premier Li Keqiang vowed Sunday to ensure that more work is done for the prevention and treatment of AIDS, adding that China is willing to cooperate with other countries to combat HIV. (Business standard 30/11/14)

118. Over 2k AIDS deaths in Kolhapur in 7 years (3)

KOLHAPUR: The number of deaths due to HIV infection in Kolhapur has remained more or less the same over the past seven years. A recent report revealed that as many as 2,436 persons, including some children, have died due to HIV in the district since 2007. The report was prepared by the District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit and included the figures till October end for the current year. Of the total deaths, 60% were men and 36% are women. Deepa Shipurkar, programme officer of DAPCU, said, “In some cases, the HIV positive men do not even disclose their infection to their wives. There have been cases in which the family found out about the infection when the health condition of the patient turned critical. Such tendency jeopardizes the health and future of the entire family. It is also an important season behind high mortality due to HIV infection.” Kolhapur was among the six high HIV prevalence districts in the state. The high prevalence can be attributed to the presence of a large number of migrant labourers. Unprotected sexual activity and in some cases, having sex with multiple partners are two major reasons behind transmission of the infection, health officials said. Jagdish Patil, regional programme officer of District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit, said, “Kolhapur district has 3-4 major industrial areas along with textile business of Ichalkaranji. These industrial enterprises are major job creators and people from at least 100-km periphery migrate to Kolhapur in search of jobs. A significant number of labourers are HIV positive.” Another category, which is unique to Kolhapur district, is the seasonal migration of sugarcane cutters from Marathwada, north Maharashtra and Karnataka between October and April. The National AIDS Control Organization had conducted a pilot project in Kolhapur district in 2013-14 to find out prevalence of sexually-transmitted diseases among the sugarcane cutters. At least one lakh people migrate to Kolhapur during the sugarcane cutting season, and most of them are men who travel in groups. The report has already pointed out that unconventional working hours, heavy load and liquor consumption activities among the sugarcane cutters make them vulnerable. Patil pointed out that during their pilot project the people living with HIV admitted that they were involved in unprotected sexual activity. These activities are still prevalent and highly challenging to keep a control over. Kimaya Shah, managing trustee of city-based Lotus Foundation, is involved in conducting various awareness, support and medication activities in the district. “There is still stigma associated with the infection. It restricts acceptance of the disease due to which many people neglect regular medication and fail to keep the infection under control.” (Times of India 1/12/14)

119. Aadhar a lifeline for poor HIV+ patients (3)

Aligarh: People who are HIV+ often find it difficult to avail of the benefits accruing from the possession of an aadhar card. Many patients feel that by revealing their name and address, they will be identified as carriers of HIV and thereby face social stigma. However, there are NGOs who have come forward to help dispel their notion and let the patients, especially those economically backward, to avail of the benefits. “We feel empowered by getting aadhar cards. Earlier, I was skeptical about revealing the details about my whereabouts but when demands of daily life started building up, I had to reveal the details and get my card,” said Sarita Devi, an HIV+ patient here. She had shifted base from Etah to Aligarh in a bid to avoid revealing her address because of the stigma attached with the infection. But when she needed to open her bank account and apply for a gas connection, she went to a counselling centre for a card, “I thought if I reveal my identity, people will know that I am suffering from HIV and I may bear the consequences of it.” Now, she’s happy. She said she will be a part of peer counselling programs where she will lead by example. She said, “Now, I am volunteering with some NGOs for peer counselling. I will reach out to other affected patients and tell them that we need to get our identity numbers in place and it doesn’t mean breach of identity and it will not stigmatize us.” Rajiv Sharma from Vihaan Care and support centre aims at covering the people enrolled in his organization through a workshop on aadhar cards. He is targeting the 1,248 people benefiting from his counselling group. By end-December, he wants to assure an aadhar card to the affected. He said, “In November, we held a workshop to cover some people who are financially challenged and need the aadhar card to avail the benefits and schemes by the government. Some medical centres in Delhi have made medicine prescription available to only those who have aadhar cards. This will help them get better service.” Another counselor, Vikas Yadav, shared his ordeal and the bright side of aadhar cards for HIV+ patients. Yadav said, “Earlier, someone suffering from HIV+ would give me a wrong address because he thought that sharing the detail will lead to stigmatization. People will get to know he is suffering from AIDS and things might just go beyond repair. Now, with an aadhar, it will be easy to reach out to them with outreach programs. It will be more accessible and prepare them for financial benefits and yojnas. They had a big fear — ‘kahin logon ko maloom na ho jayein”.” “We also are in need of normal requirements of a daily life so I came along with other people to fill forms for the aadhar cards,” said a patient who is being covered by an NGO. (Times of India 3/12/14)

120. Migrant labourers not being tested for AIDS (3)

BERHAMPUR: : A large section of migrant labourers, who are most vulnerable to HIV infection, are allegedly being missed out during testing in Ganjam, the most HIV prone district in Odisha. Doubts have arisen over official figures related to HIV-infected persons in Ganjam. In 2013, the total number of persons who had been tested HIV positive in Ganjam district were 1,044. This year till October 2014, total persons who tested HIV positive were 880. But experts on HIV prevalence and prevention like Lokanath Mishra allege that the real number of HIV positive persons in the district may be much more as a large number of migrant labourers of the district, who are most vulnerable group, are not being tested. As per official records, this year 77,000 persons were tested for HIV infection up to October. But out of them, nearly 41,000 were pregnant women. In the past 14 years, 5,59,000 persons have undergone HIV test in Ganjam district, 2,92,000 of whom were pregnant women. Since 2008, under a programme aimed at preventing parents to child transmission of HIV, extra priority is given to testing pregnant women. Because of this, the rate of HIV testing of pregnant women in Ganjam district has risen to around 80 per cent in 2014 from around 18 per cent in 2008. But the irony is that similar extensive testing is not done for migrant labourers, who are carriers of HIV to Ganjam district. Although there is no official data regarding the number of migrant labourers of Ganjam district, yet as per an assessment, at any point of time around seven lakh migrant labourers of this area remain outside the State. Most of them are youths who are prone to HIV infection outside the State because of multiple relationships. They pass on the infection to their spouses and others in their home district. Mr Lokanath and others involved in prevention of AIDS in Odisha feel there is need for extensive HIV testing for migrant labourers who are return to Odisha. In addition to this, there is a need for repeat tests of migrant labourers, who migrate every year, said Markand Mishra, a social activist involved in rehabilitation of HIV positive persons. It is alleged that with the importance given to HIV testing of pregnant women, the emphasis on testing of migrant labourers has gone down. It seems that present official figure are missing out large numbers of HIV positive migrant labourers, who themselves are ignorant about their HIV infection status,” said Mr Lokanath. (The Hindu 5/12/14)

121. HIV+ mother thrown out of home (3)

KOLKATA: A 34-year-old HIV Positive widow and mother of two was ostracized, assaulted and thrown out of her Dakshineswar home by neighbours under the alleged instruction of the husband of a local Trinamool Congress councillor. She and her children have been rendered homeless for the last two weeks with the administration choosing to look the other way till rights activists took up the matter and brought it to media glare on Saturday. Earlier, local people had allegedly drove her husband to commit suicide by taunting him repeatedly for his HIV Positive status and threatening eviction. A “nexus” between local landsharks, the councillor’s husband and the former land owner of the house allegedly conspired to evict the woman by instigating neighbours to banish the “morally corrupt” woman from the area. She and her children were dragged out of the house on November 23 and the door was padlocked. The trio has since been spending the nights either at a railway platform or with relatives who allowed them only one night’s stay. The woman has been running from pillar to post in search of help from the administration, only to be refused everywhere. “I told police officials everything and requested them to make an arrangement for my children and me to return home. But, nobody took the matter seriously. With my emergency medicines lying in the locked home, I tried to gain entrance to access them but was threatened, abused and assaulted, which forced me to leave the spot,” the widow told TOI while recounting her horror story on Saturday. It was only after she managed to get in touch with activists of South 24-Parganas Network for People Living with HIV+, a non-government organization, that she received some support. Members of the NGO accompanied her to Belghoria police station and lodged a complaint. The woman also met the North 24-Parganas district magistrate on Friday and sought her intervention. The widow lived in a house on Abbas Ali Lane, Dakshineswar, with her two sons. The elder one is 14-year-old and studies in Class IX, while the younger one is six-year-old and a student of Class II. The house is in ward No. 13 of Kamarhati Municipality. Her husband, who was a grocer, had committed suicide in May after being hounded by neighbours following the HIV Positive diagnosis during tests prior to a brain tumor operation. The woman was thereafter asked to undergo a check and she too tested positive. “After the initial shock, I took it bravely and went through the entire process of medication and counselling at RG Kar Hospital. I decided to keep my condition under wraps when doctors said we could lead a normal life under medication and care. I looked forward to life as my two sons were not infected. But, my husband could not take the torture by neighbours and committed suicide on May 17,” the widow recounted. The woman’s ordeal took a turn for the worse with former land owner Amit Das, Laltu Bose (husband of Mithu Bose, the TMC councillor of ward No. 13 of Kamarhati Municipality) and their associates allegedly driving the family out of the house. The victim’s husband had purchased the 1.5 cottah land from Das and constructed a single-storey house there. “The local councilor’s husband and his associates threatened and abused us as well. We knocked on the doors of several administration officials, including local police officers, SDO and DM, seeking action against the accused. But nothing has happened till now,” said Sebika Chowdhury, co-coordinator of the NGO. Khitish Mondal, the president of the NGO who took the woman to the DM’s office, said, “We could not meet the DM. But his secretary assured us of action.” Laltu Bose, the husband of the councilor, refuted the allegation leveled against him and launched a tirade against the woman, accusing her character. “I was falsely implicated,” Bose said. Kamarhati MLA and transport minister Madan Mitra said, “I have asked to the Kamarhati Municipality chairman to give a detailed report in this connection.” DC-DD of Barrackpore commissionerate Ajay Thakur said, “We are looking into the matter seriously.” (Times of India 8/12/14)

 

Posted by admin at 9 December 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Murder of Dalit family in Ahmednagar sparks protest on streets of New York (2)

MUMBAI: A month after the mutilated body parts of three members of a Dalit family were recovered from their village in Ahmednagar, the incident, reminiscent of the Khairlanji massacre, has drawn worldwide attention. While the incident sparked protests across the state, Dalit organizations staged a protest in the streets of New York over the weekend and submitted a petition to the UN. Protests are to follow in other parts of the world, including Japan and Canada. The three people who were butchered last month were a teen studying in a city college, Sunil Jadhav, and his parents in Ahmednagar. “Three weeks have already passed but the concerned police authorities have not nabbed the culprits. The police administration appears to be clueless about this village-based horrendous crime or most likely they are under pressure, which is the case in most caste atrocities against Dalits,” says the petition submitted to the UN HQ in New York by Dr Ambedkar International Mission, an umbrella organization of Dalit groups across the world. The petition talks of how India’s legal justice system has, so far, been “ineffective” as far as caste-based discrimination is concerned, and calls for the intervention of the United Nations Human Rights Commission for justice in the Ahmednagar case. Demands include the immediate suspension of the Ahmednagar district magistrate and superintendant of police and the inclusion of Ahmednagar in the list of ‘Dalit Atrocity-Prone Areas’. “The protest in New York was unique as people travelled from across America to attend it. We had people coming in from areas such as Michigan, California, Connecticut and Washington. People turned up on the streets despite the bitter cold and the wind-chill in support of the cause,” said Raju Kamble, who founded Dr Ambedkar International Mission 20 years ago. Dalits were not the only ones present at the New York protest; it included African Americans, Indian church groups and Arab artists. Miss Arab runner-up Ratiba Lazizi joined the protest. The protest involved a candlelight vigil and a sit-in before the UN. Retired businessman Markand Warade from Canada was at the NY protest and wants to hold one in Toronto. “Nobody, from the district collector, police, chief minister, president or prime minister have taken any interest in the Ahmednagar case,” said Warade. The Ambedkar International Mission in Japan is preparing to stage a protest in Tokyo, said Dr Sushant Godghate, an engineering doctorate who works as a consultant for a multinational. It will be a joint protest between Dalits in Japan and local Buddhist organizations, and will take place in front of the UN office in Tokyo. US-based entrepreneur Deelip Mhaske said the murders should not be seen solely as a Dalit issue but as a grave violation of human rights. (Times of India 20/11/14)

2. Dalit family alleges harassment by police and caste Hindus (2)

Hassan: Alleging torture and harassment by Konanuru police and some Upper caste people for complaining of atrocity on Dalits, a family of three persons from Konapura in Arkalgud taluk staged a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here on Friday. They appealed to the State government to allow them commit suicide or undergo mercy killing as they could not lead a contented life. K.P. Rajashekhar (26) and his parents Papaiah and Sarojamma, who staged the dharna, alleged that false complaints had been filed against Mr. Rajashekhar for raising the voice against the atrocities on Dalits. Besides, the police were torturing the family on the basis of false complaints, they charged. “All this began in 2009 when my uncle was assaulted by Upper caste people for refusing to continue with the works like digging grave for the dead. I, along with my uncle, had filed a complaint against the Upper caste. Since then, I have been targeted and tortured. Women belonging to the families of those against whom I had filed the complaint had lodged false complaints alleging that I tried to molest them,” Mr. Rajashekhar said. Mr. Rajashekhar, who was in tears, alleged that the police were ‘hand in glove’ with the caste Hindus. “The police have often assaulted me in the station and they have threatened to spoil my life. The police have seized my two-wheeler without any reason and also threatened to take my parents into custody,” he claimed. (The Hindu 22/11/14)

3. Muslims, dalits and tribals make up 53% of all prisoners in India (2)

NEW DELHI: Muslims, dalits and adivasis — three of the most vulnerable sections of Indian society — make up more than half of India’s prison population, according to an official report on prisons released this month. Although the proportion of these three communities in India adds up to about 39%, their share amongst prisoners is considerably higher at 53%.India had 4.2 lakh people in prison in 2013. Nearly 20% of them were Muslims although the share of Muslims in India’s population is about 13% according to Census 2001. Religion-wise data from Census 2011 is yet to be released but it is unlikely to be much different. Dalits make up 22% of prisoners, almost one in four. Their proportion in population is about 17% according to Census 2011. While adivasis make up 11% of prisoners, their share in the general population is 9%.Most experts say that this disturbing trend is not because these communities commit more crimes. Rather, it arises because they are economically and socially under-privileged, unable to fight costly cases or often even pay for bail. Some say that these communities are targeted with false cases. Former chief justice of Delhi high court Rajinder Sachar, who headed the committee that brought out a report on the condition of Muslim community in India in 2006, pointed out that there had been several cases of Muslim youths being acquitted after years in prison. “Poverty is more prevalent among these three communities and that becomes an obstacle in dealing with the legal system,” said Colin Gonsalves, human rights activist and lawyer. “Our system has an ingrained communal and casteist bias. Also, the proportion of these communities in the police officers and even judiciary is less. These are key factors behind this shocking imbalance,” he added. Pointing out that nearly 68% of the prisoners are undertrials, Abusaleh Sharif, who was member-secretary of the Sachar Committee and later brought out an updated report on the conditions of Muslims, said that they had to remain behind bars because of inability to negotiate the hostile system.”Among those in prison under preventive detention laws, nearly half are Muslims. This is the kind of thing that the government needs to speedily investigate and resolve,” Sharif said. Ramesh Nathan of the National Dalit Movement for Justice alleged that false cases are filed against dalits in order to intimidate them, causing this disturbingly high number of prisoners among vulnerable sections. “In my experience as a lawyer, whenever a dalit person files a case under the Atrocities Act, a false countercase under some penal code provision is filed by the culprits,” he said. Prison statistics are published annually by the National Crime Records Bureau since 1995, although caste breakup is available since 1999. The proportions of Muslims, dalits and adivasis have remained virtually unchanged over the past 15 years indicating that this is a systemic problem. ITimes if India 24/11/14)

4. Dalit youth beaten up for ‘obscene’ dance moves (2)

Athani (Belagavi dist): Tension prevailed at Gundewadi village in Athani taluk after a dalit youth was allegedly assaulted by persons belonging to an upper caste, objecting to his ‘obscene’ dance moves on stage, on Sunday night. The victim, Sagar Kamble’s dance was part of a drama titled ‘Dharmavantaru’. What started with an exchange of verbal abuse, escalated and Kamble was beaten up, the police said. In the scuffle, three others also suffered injuries, the police added. According to the police, the miscreants also set Kamble’s dhaba on fire and tore a picture of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. Kamble then brought his community people to the spot. As the news spread, an influential person incited the people to rebel, which led to stone throwing from both the sides, the police said. Police personnel have been deployed in the village to prevent any untoward incident. (Deccan Herald 25/11/14)

5. Dalit hanged by UP panchayat over affair, family alleges (2)

BULANDSHAHR: A 28-year-old dalit man was allegedly hanged to death by a panchayat at Nagla Tota in Bulandhahr for having an affair with a married woman, his family alleged on Wednesday. The police said they were investigating the allegation but no complaint was filed. Lala, according to a family member, was first thrashed and then ‘sentenced to hang till death’ after the woman’s husband caught them in a compromising position. “Lala and this woman were in a relationship before she got married to someone else. But six months ago, she eloped with Lala and the duo stayed in Dehradun for a while,” said Surender, Lala’s uncle. “On Tuesday, Lala had gone to meet her. But the woman’s husband caught him. He raised an alarm and villagers gathered within minutes. Lala was trapped,” he added. Lala was hanged from a tree for the whole village to see. The police said the body had been sent for an autopsy. The Bulandshahr SSP said, “The police have still not received any complaint.” (Times of India 27/11/14)

TRIBALS

6. Save us, tribals urge Vara Vara Rao (6)

HYDERABAD: Over five dozen tribal people hailing from Visakhapatnam district landed at the residence of social activist and revolutionary poet Vara Vara Rao on Wednesday morning and made a plaintive plea asking him to save their lives from attacks from Maoists. Around 9.30 a.m, they gathered at the residence of Mr. Vara Vara Rao near Ashok Nagar and holding placards, shouted slogans requesting him to use his good offices and see that that they were not attacked by the Maoists. There was a sizeable bandobust by the police. Mr. Rao however, was not at his residence. Among those who participated in the protest were Jammala Bhikka and Arjun, who said they had come to seek Mr. Rao’s help. Interestingly, the placards held by them told a different story with some of them appearing to be in support of the government. “The murder of Rammohan and Rambabu is in revenge, against the extremist acts of Maoists”, “If you surrender, it means lakhs worth financial assistance”, “Permanent rehabilitation is the policy of the government”, were the lines on the placards carried by the tribals. (The Hindu 20//11/14)

7. Police Brought Tribals to Stage Protests: Varavara (6)

HYDERABAD: A day after several tribals from Chintapally in Visakhapatnam district staged a protest outside his residence at Gandhinagar, Virasam leader Varavara Rao said on Thursday that incriminating video footage and photographs showing police bringing the tribals to the city were available with him. Speaking at a press conference here, he said: “About 60 Girijans were brought in a bus by the Vizag police after seeking permission from their Telangana counterparts and government. It was an organised attack at my house when I was not there. We have clippings of police bringing them in an auto and bus and taking them to Sanjeevaiah Park”. Further, he said: “It was done primarily to disturb the surroundings of my new residence and threaten neighbours”. Demanding that Maoists stop harassing tribal people, some of the placards carried by the Girijans, according to Rao, read, “We killed Ram Mohan and Ram Babu in revenge to killing of Sanjeeva Rao”, “Maoists, you surrender and you get lakhs of rupees” and “Maoists surrender means permanent rehabilitation.” He said it was shocking to find Girijans sloganeering. “It is a conspiracy well directed by the police with support from both State governments to create a divide between tribals and Maoists”. Civil liberties activists and members of Revolutionary Writers Association condemned the incident. Senior journalist Potturi Venkateswara Rao recalled Varavara Rao’s struggles in the last 45 years for the downtrodden. Surepally Sujatha, activist and assistant professor, Satavahana University, Karimnagar, said: “This oppression of democratic voices will kill the spirit of Adivasis. We appeal to Adivasis not to fall prey into the trap laid by police.” (New Indian Express 21/11/14)

8. Forest department to settle land dispute with BNP tribals soon (6)

Bengaluru: The Forest department has finally woken up to the fact that land sharks are trying to take advantage of its dispute with tribals over the ownership of 350 acres of land near Bannerghatta National Park, on the outskirts of the City. After learning that land developers were eyeing the disputed property, the Forest Department has now decided to hold a meeting with tribals, in a couple of days, to resolve the issue. This is being done to ensure that the pricey land does not fall into the hands of real estate developers. A senior forest department official told Deccan Herald that it had come to their notice that many land developers were eyeing the land and some had even visited the site, despite the fact that the disputed land was part of the Bannerghatta National Park. “A meeting with tribals will be held this week to settle the matter at the earliest. Over 225 tribal families reside in the BNP. Protecting the disputed land is important as Bannerghatta Road and surrounding areas are real estate hotspots. On November 15, 2014 we had cleared encroachments in Weavers’ Colony were people had constructed 120 houses,” he added. The official recollected that then government of Mysore on January 29, 1962, had notified 350 acres in Ragihalli State Forest to establish a colony for settlement and rehabilitation of Hakki Pikki and Iruliga tribals. However, a field survey by the forest department in 1990s revealed that the actual land allotted for the purpose was 396 acres. The additional 46 acres is at Bhutanahalli in survey no 120 in Ragihalli Forest, which is part of the BNP. The tribals had occupied more land at Bannerghatta Kaval survey no 1 and Bhutanahalli survey no 120. To sort out the dispute over the ownership of the said lands, a meeting was held with the chief secretary in 2012. The Ministry of Environment and Forests too sought clarification about the case in 2012 and 2013. Last week, over 50 people from the Hakki Pikki and Iruliga Tribal Society met Forest and Ecology Minister Ramanath Rai and gave him a memorandum. They stated that Karnataka High Court in 2010 had directed the government to settle the matter at the earliest, but till date no action had been taken. They demanded that a ‘No Development Zone’ be created three kilometres from the BNP boundary to prevent land exploitation in the eco-sensitive zone. They also urged that the land be given to tribals for housing, agriculture, apiculture and horticulture. During the meeting, the minister reportedly assured the tribals that they would not be evicted and the land dispute would be settled soon. (New Indian Express 25/11/14)

9. ‘Give tribe status to U’khand Gorkhas’ (6)

DEHRADUN: The over 12 lakh Gorkhas in Uttarakhand demand recognition as a tribal group. The demand grew even more strident after Gorkhas in West Bengal and Sikkim were reportedly to be granted tribal status. There are at least 15 groups of Gorkhas — Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunuwar, Thami and Yakhna, among them – that at present are not considered tribal groups. Groups like Bhutia and Letcha have been already been granted tribal status. Tamang and Limboo communities were recognised as tribals in 2003. President of the All India Gorkha Ex-Servicemen Welfare Association (AIGEWA), West Bengal region, SP Pradhan, said tribal status would make for easier access to higher education and jobs for young people from the community. In Assam, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Punjab, Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, Gorkhas are listed as an Other Backward Caste (OBC) group. Given that retirement from the army happens at an early age of 35, Gorkha ex-servicemen should be offered re-employment opportunities too, members at the AIGEWA meeting said. They have also sought that the budget allocated by the Centre for Gorkhas, which is a mere Rs 8 lakh per annum, should be increased. (Times of India 26/11/2014)

WOMEN

10. NCW denied arrest powers (8)

New Delhi, Nov. 19: The law ministry has turned down the women and child welfare ministry’s request to give the National Commission for Women statutory powers to arrest, punish and penalise those accused of domestic and matrimonial violence against women. Union law minister Sadananda Gowda said his ministry had recently rejected the request, saying the NCW couldn’t be given powers vested only with the judiciary. “We told them no such power can be given to the NCW because it can be exercised only by the judiciary through due process of law,” the minister told reporters. Gowda also said the Centre would amend the Lokpal act to ensure that the leader of the largest single party finds a place in the panel to select the anti-corruption ombudsman. Under the existing act, the leader of the Opposition should be on the panel. Following the Narendra Modi government’s refusal to grant the Congress the status of leader of Opposition (LoP), the Supreme Court, while hearing a PIL challenging certain provisions of the act, had asked how it proposed to fill the vacuum in the absence of an LoP. Gowda said the government was working on a policy to reduce the number of cases in courts and prevent inter-ministerial and inter-departmental litigations. In the coming winter session, the government, he added, would bring amendments to the arbitration law to settle commercial disputes. Other proposed bills, he said, include amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and the Special Marriage Act, 1954, to make irretrievable breakdown of marriage a ground for divorce. Irretrievable breakdown of marriage is not a ground for divorce now. Gowda said a fresh bill would be introduced as an earlier one, which the previous government had managed to pass in the Lok Sabha, could not be taken up in the Rajya Sabha and had lapsed. (The Telegraph 20/11/14)

11. Female Foeticide Is as Bad as ‘Sati’ Custom: Gujarat CM (8)

VALSAD: Without mincing words, Gujarat Chief Minister Anandi Patel today said female foeticide was as evil a custom as the old practices of ‘sati’ or ‘doodhpeeti’. “There was a time when our legendary leaders abolished the traditions like sati (women immolating themselves on the husband’s funeral pyre) and doodhpeeti (the practice of killing the unwanted new-born girl by drowning her in vat of milk). Now this modernised society is witnessing the cases of female foeticide, this is shameful,” Patel said.    The Chief Minister was speaking at the two-day ‘National Youth Convention’ here. “Women’s situation can be improved only if they are given proper education. Education is the only solution for their betterment. A country or a state where women are not given education remains under-developed,” Patel added. She also pointed out that Gujarat government had announced that it would build toilets in every house with the people’s participation. Citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Clean India’ campaign, Patel said the women should take extra efforts to keep the society clean. (New Indian Express 22/11/14)

12. 1 in 4 Chennai women faces sexual assault, violence, finds survey (8)

CHENNAI: One in four women in the city Chennai have been at the receiving end of sexual or physical violence, a study shows. A survey conducted by Women and Children Foundation (WCF) Hospitals in Chennai says most of them were victims of incest or sexual harassment from people in their close circles. The hospital, to as part of raising raise awareness on International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women (Nov 25) took responses from 7,605 people in the city including women, men and transgenders. It analyzed gender gap, domestic violence, incest, sexual harassment and violence against women. WCF chairman Dr D Rajasekar said in order to do a comprehensive survey to understand the prevalence of gender violence, the survey team included men and transgenders in it. “We decided to do a survey after the increasing incidents of rape across the country but the results were shocking. Transgenders were often victims of sexual violence with nearly 58% of them being subjected to it. Moreover, 18% of men were also violated physically or sexually,” he said. The survey uncovered that 24.6% of men and 23% of women experienced same sex abuse or molestation or harassment at their home, work place or during travel. “This indicates sex crimes are not exclusively heterosexual and almost one-third of men and women experience such incidents in their lives in our society,” said the doctor. Curiously enough, 48%, most of them women, thought the way people dress provokes sexual crime. When asked about the kind of punishment people thought that sexual offenders deserved, it was found that a majority supported capital punishment or mutilation. An analysis of the victims of rape included nuns, children, elderly women and men so claiming the way individuals dress provokes sex crimes is plain ignorant,” said Dr Rajasekar. This response shows that the public needs proper factual awareness about sex crimes. Women’s rights activists say they have observed a positive trend of policemen recording cases of rape instead of brushing them aside. “However, the rise in cases cannot be attributed to this phenomenon. Alcohol and drug abuse lead to a spurt in all forms of crime against women. Proper awareness, mostly at the school level, is needed to curb gender violence,” said Women’s Struggle Committee advisor R Geetha. (Times of India 25/11/14)

13. False dowry charge ground for divorce, Supreme Court rules (8)

NEW DELHI: If a woman’s complaint accusing her husband and in-laws of cruelty under the dreaded Section 498A of Indian Penal Code turns out to be false, then the man is entitled to divorce, the Supreme Court has ruled. Allowing dissolution of marriage between K Srinivas and K Sunita, the court said, “We unequivocally find that the respondent-wife had filed a false criminal complaint, and even one such complaint is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty. We accordingly dissolve the marriage of the parties.” After the wife left her matrimonial home on June 30, 1995, the husband filed a divorce suit on July 14, 1995 on the ground of cruelty as well as irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The wife retaliated by filing a criminal complaint against her husband and seven of his family members under various provisions of IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act. The husband and his family members were arrested and jailed. A Hyderabad court on June 30, 2000, acquitted the husband and his family members of the charges leveled against them by the wife. Another family court granted divorce to the husband on December 30, 1999 on grounds of cruelty as also irretrievable breakdown of marriage. But the HC, on the woman’s appeal, set aside the divorce decree. On the woman’s statement to police on the complaint lodged by her against her husband and his relatives, an apex court bench of justices Vikramjit Sen and PC Pant said, “This is clearly indicative of the fact that the criminal complaint was a contrived afterthought. We affirm the view of the HC that the criminal complaint was ‘ill advised’.” The judgment, authored by Justice Sen, added. “In these circumstances, the HC ought to have concluded that the wife knowingly and intentionally filed a false complaint, calculated to embarrass and incarcerate the husband and seven members of his family and that such conduct unquestionably constitutes cruelty as postulated under Section 13(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. In any event, both parties were fully aware of this facet of cruelty which was allegedly suffered by the husband.”… (Times of India 24/11/14)

14. 72% of rape accused are victims’ boyfriends: Mumbai Police Commissioner (8)

Mumbai: As much as 71.9 per cent of the accused facing rape charges in Mumbai are alleged to have lured their victims on the pretext of marriage, according to a review of such cases reported till October 2014. Data compiled by police shows that of the 542 rape cases filed so far in Mumbai in 2014, 389 offences (71.9 pc) were committed by “boyfriends” of the victims after they had promised marriage, Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria said on Wednesday. He added that while six per cent of the sexual assault cases involved unknown persons, the accused in the rest were either relatives or immediate siblings of the victims. Maria was responding to queries by journalists on the increasing number of rape cases in the metropolis. Of the 542 cases lodged till October 31, 477 have been solved. Of the 333 cases which were registered during the same period in 2013, 316 were solved, police added. He added that while six per cent of the sexual assault cases involved unknown persons, the accused in the rest were either relatives or immediate siblings of the victims. “We have been exhorting people to come forward and lodge complaints. Hence, women who faced sexual assault are approaching us without any fear,” Maria added. He said that more victims approaching police was one of the reasons why the registration of rape cases had seen a jump in the metropolis. The Police Commissioner, meanwhile, said that special focus would be given on tracking down missing persons. He said that chain-snatching cases fell to 1,257 from 1,832 reported in the January-October period in 2013, a drop of 31 per cent. The top cop shared the above data a day after a report compiled by Mumbai-based NGO Praja Foundation suggested that crimes against women, including rape, molestation and chain snatching, have risen sharply in the metropolis in 2013-14. Meanwhile, police said that they have so far in 2014 deported 12 Nigerians and one Tanzanian who were arrested in connection with narcotics cases. (CNN-IBN 27/11/14)

15. ‘Humiliation may amount to sexual harassment’ (8)

New Delhi: Humiliating treatment of women that is likely to affect their health and promise of preferential or detrimental treatment can now amount to sexual harassment under amended service rules for government employees. This information was given by Jitendra Singh, Union MoS for personnel, public grievances and pensions in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha. The service rules were amended by the ministry on November 19 to widen definition of sexual harassment and to make work place more conducive for women to work. “The implied or explicit promise of preferential or detrimental treatment in employment, threat about present or future employment and humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety may amount to sexual harassment,” Mr Singh said. Besides, interference with her work or creating an intimidating or offensive or hostile work environment for women employees may amount to sexual harassment, he said. onsteps to check sexual harassment of women at work place. The new rules are expected to bring in more clarity on various sexual harassment offences punishable under the law. As per the new definition under the Central Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1964, sexual harassment includes physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours, making sexually coloured remarks, showing pornography and any other unwelcome physical, verbal, non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature, the House was told. As per rules, work place includes any department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the Central government. President Pranab Mukher-jee had last year given his assent to the Protection of Women Against Sexual Harassment at Work Place Bill, 2010, aimed at providing protection against sexual harassment of women at workplace and for the prevention and redressal of complaints of sexual harassment. (Asian Age 27/11/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

16. Child marriage still prevalent, district registers 26 cases in 6 months (14)

COIMBATORE: Despite efforts to create more awareness among various communities over the past few decades, the practice of child marriage is still prevalent. Coimbatore district has registered 26 child marriage attempts in the last six months. “We receive at least four to five calls a month,” said district child protection officer G Vijaya. Child welfare committee officers say the perpetrators range from parents, children themselves, traffickers and young men. “Often school girls run away and try to get married, sometimes parents from middle-class educated backgrounds try to force their children into marriage for different reasons and then there are traffickers who try to sell girls to older men as brides,” says P Samson, chairman, child welfare committee, Coimbatore, speaking at a programme organised by Childline and seven other NGOs to create awareness on different forms of child abuse on Thursday. Officers say, contrary to popular perception, the complaints are not restricted to the suburbs or rural areas. “Many parents, belonging to wealthy families in cities, try to get their daughters married when they are in Class 11 or 12 in case the child gets into any relationship or do something which they do not approve of,” said Vijaya. The complainants are often the children themselves or their friendsif the parents are forcing them into it or the parents if the children have run away. “If the children elope, it is a lot more traumatising because it starts with a police complaint and goes to court,” said Samson. The seven NGOs are now conducting street plays and putting up posters in 40 places across the citywith focus on child marriage and abuse. “Among the 96 cases childline has received since April this year, the second highest number were about child marriages, first being child labour,” said Arockiapandian, Childline spokesperson . “We are conducting a lot of awareness programmes in slums for direct impact and schools so teachers can influence parents to stay away from such initiatives,” said the spokesperson. The highest number of calls was 37 which was received for child labour. (Times of India 21/11/14)

17. Social Norms Biggest Challenge in Child Rights: UNICEF (14)

KOLKATA: Prevailing social norms such as early marriage and child labour are the biggest challenge in implementing child rights in the country, a UNICEF official said. “The main challenge for us is not the lack of resources but existing social norms. We have to change them to give a better future to our children,” David Mcloughlin, Deputy Representative (Programmes), UNICEF India said after launching the State of the World’s Children Report. Giving the example of child malnutrition, he said more than half of the infants in the country are not exclusively breastfed during the first six months resulting in poor child health. “We must keep motherhood out of childhood. Children are born to young mothers who marry in teenage. They then adopt unhygienic and unsafe feeding practices. These social norms are the challenges before us,” the official told PTI. He said UNICEF is getting full support from both the government and India’s private sector in their fight for improving the lives of children. Marking 25 years of Convention on Rights of The Child (CRC) which was adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly in 1989, the State of the World’s Children Report focuses on leveraging the power of innovation to reach out to every child on the planet. “It also sets the agenda for Sustainable Development Goals as the Millennium Development Goals end in 2015,” Mcloughlin said. (New Indian Express 23/11/14)

18. 168 million kids engaged in child labour (14)

Washington: A new report has revealed that some 168 million children around the world are still engaged in some form of child labour. According to UCLA’s World Policy Analysis Center has published comprehensive analysis of children’s rights in 190 countries around the world, 74 percent of the countries no longer allow children to engage in hazardous work, once legal exceptions are taken into account. It was also found that nearly half of the countries under Convention on the Rights of the Child still allow children to work in jobs that endanger their health and safety, including mining and factory work. When it came to education, it was found that twenty-four percent of the countries that ratified the CRC charge tuition before the end of secondary education, while in case of child marriage, 88 percent of countries that ratified the CRC have set a minimum age for marriage of 18 or older. But when exceptions with parental consent are included, only 49 percent of these countries protect girls from early marriage. Dr. Jody Heymann, founding director of the World Policy Analysis Center and dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, said that the CRC is a promise from our global community to all children and everyone deserves to know whether their country is fulfilling that promise and how it compares to other countries facing similar opportunities and constraints. (The Hind 24/11/14)

19. Crimes against kids in state soared 85% in ’13; most kidnaps, rapes in city: CID (14)

On April 27, 2014, the body of a 12-year-old boy was found in a nullah close to the APMC flower market in Kalyan (West). Rohan Gucchait, a Class VII student of All Saints High School, Bhiwandi, was kidnapped ten days earlier by an electrician employed by his father, a jeweller. A day after his kidnap, Rohan was strangled and his body chopped with an electric saw when his abductor, Ishtiyaq Shaikh, learned that his parents had approached the police. This gruesome kidnap and murder is a pointer to how vulnerable children are in face of rising crimes. The state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) report, released on Tuesday, showed an 85.5% increase in crimes against children in Maharashtra in 2013 compared with 2012. Mumbai recorded the largest chunk at 902 offences among the nine commissionerates in the state. Kidnap and rape of children aged under 18 have increased in Mumbai with 279 and 221 cases registered in 2013, respectively, against 142 and 141 in 2012. Thane is placed second with 241 kidnap and 81 rape cases in 2013 against 85 and 50 in 2012 while Pune recorded 126 and 83 cases in 2013 against 74 and 51 in 2012. Nagpur and Navi Mumbai stand fourth and fifth in Maharashtra, the report said. Overall, the report showed a sharp rise in overall crimes against children, with Navi Mumbai topping the crime chart among the nine police commissionerates. The satellite city has registered 180 cases of crimes against children in 2013 (a 172.7% rise) against 66 in 2012. Thane is second with a 120.9% rise in 2013 compared with the previous year while Mumbai has registered 902 cases (74% rise) against 517 in 2012. The report has put crimes under different heads of kidnap, rape, murder, exposure and abandonment of newborn, infanticide, foeticide, buying and selling of girls, child marriage and procurement of minor girls. Experts blamed police failure in acting at the nick of time. The first few hours of an incident are critical to investigation. Precious time is lost because at the first instance police presume the disappearance of a child is a voluntary act of running away either due to domestic discord or teenage passion. “With the passage of time, criminals have learnt of this weakness in the system and use it to their fullest advantage,” said former IPS officer turned lawyer Y P Singh. “Another reason is that the police patrolling beats do not collect adequate local intelligence. Hence, they miss out on information like a girl being harassed by a chronic stalker. Failure to take preventive action in time leaves an open field for criminals to act with the confidence of impunity,” Singh added. Praja Foundation program director Milind Mhaske said a major concern is that people no longer fear the police. “A person commits an offence thinking that he/she will go scot-free. Children are the most vulnerable lot. Investigating agencies should fix the loopholes to ensure even distribution of conviction rate, which is not the case now. Police cannot be blamed entirely because they are burdened with workload. The government should first resolve staff shortage along with getting skilled and technical help to ensure a high conviction rate,” Mhaske told TOI. Officials at Maharashtra child’s rights commission said, “The commission drafted several ideas to tackle these but till date the government hasn’t done anything,” they said. A senior IPS officer said children are easy targets. “The accused lure kids by offering goodies and easily gain their trust. Take the example of Kurla’s Nehru Nagar rape and murder of minor girls in 2011. All three victims were lured with chocolates.” (Times of India 26/11/14)

20. Central Delhi’s shelter home for homeless children cries for attention (14)

NEW DELHI: Everyone seems to have forgotten the little girl who was burnt to death in 2011 at Central Delhi’s only shelter home for the homeless children as government agencies continue to house nearly 20-odd children in porta cabins made of inflammable material. The roof of this home – which is located amid stomach-churning rotting waste — is “covered with a foil that can easily catch fire,” confided the caretaker of the unit situated near Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. “I clearly remember the little girl who was covered under several blankets and was forgotten in the home when the place caught fire some years back,’’ says Manav, who is a Class VIII student and has been a resident here for many years now. “When the accident happened the homeless were housed in tents made of cloth. Now we have portable cabins but the material can easily be destroyed in a fire. Lack of proper ventilation in this large one room temporary shelter for children and the single entrance and exit (the other is locked) adds to the problem,’’ said another child resident here. But dying or getting injured in a fire isn’t the primary fear in the minds of the children here. Unaware of their rights, privileges and protection that they can avail of as children; several of them work to survive. Fighting Delhi’s harsh weather and harsher street life “it is almost routine that many find themselves locked out when they come ‘home’ to the shelter simply because either the place is full or the caretaker has already locked up this 24-hour facility,” complains Sunil Kumar Aledia, of the Centre for Holistic Development (CHD), which works for homeless in Delhi. “A proper toilet, clean drinking water, at least one balanced hot meal a day, safety from violence by police, locals and other older children/adults in the house, beneficial recreational facilities and life skill training these are the basic rights of the children that neither the government nor the NGOs working in the area are able to provide to the optimum here,’’ adds Mr. Aledia. “Hygiene and safety are the major problems. The government has given us facilities but there is little effort to make it work for the betterment of the residents here,’’ adds Sonia, a resident of the shelter home. (The Hindu 26/11/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

21. ‘Minorities continue to be targets of violence’ (7)

New Delhi: Vice-President Hamid Ansari has said despite the constitutional and legal guarantees, religious minorities continue to be target of violence and discrimination from time to time. He was speaking on the topic ‘Citizens and State Conduct’ at the 8the VM Tarkunde memorial lecture Friday. Ansari said weaker sections of society such as minorities, women, SCs, STs, children and persons with disabilities were still being discriminated against. “These cut into the root of constitutional principle of equality of opportunity and equal access to justice and highlight the failure of the state to act properly,” he said. Quoting a study by the South Asian Human Rights Documentation Centre, Ansari also said the “most serious human rights abuses” in India were the violations by the State of Article 21. “This is particularly acute in areas of internal conflict, such as Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast and the Naxal belt where serious complaints about the misuse of laws like the AFSPA, the Disturbed Areas Act (DDA) or the Public Safety Act (PSA) continue to be made,” said the Vice-President. (Indian Express 22/11/14)

22. Bahais demand minority status (7)

New Delhi: Less than a year after the UPA government declared Jains as a minority community, the Bahai community has reignited its demand for the status. The community much like the Jains is affluent, but it asserts that the status is a matter of recognition rather than plea for help. Bahai representatives had met Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla in this regard and she, it was learnt, referred the matter to the National Commission for Minorities. The matter was also taken up by the NCM in more than one meeting, but the commission felt that it did not have enough data on the socio-economic condition of the community to make a concrete recommendation. It is now for the Ministry of Minority Affairs to take a call. There are around two million Bahais in India and the community is perhaps best known for the Lotus Temple. The religion traces its roots to Iran — the birthplace of Bahaullah, its prophet. The issue of minority status for the Bahai community in India was first raised in 2004. The Bahais had approached the UPA government in January this year immediately after the Jain community was designated as the sixth minority. They then took the matter up with the NDA government in August. The NCM considered the demand over several meetings in September and October. “The commission deliberated on the issue, but felt that we did not have enough data to decide either way. We had asked for more information from the community and they did submit some… But, that was not enough for the commission,” said a source in NCM. The spokesperson for the Bahai community, meanwhile, maintains that minority status is a matter of recognition and the community is not looking for scholarships and other support from the government. “The Bahai community does not accept money from others. That is why we do not charge an entry fee at Lotus Temple where we get 16,000 visitors a day… Even Jains did not require the government support but they were granted the status,” said Nilakshi Rajkhowa, an official at the office of public affairs in the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahais. There are around 2 million Bahais in India. (Indian Express 22/11/14)

23. Minority welfare schemes in state on track (7)

PATNA: Bihar is probably the first state in the country to have an independent minority welfare directorate under the home department. It has deputed district minority welfare officers in all 38 districts. This exercise has yielded positive results as far as implementation of the minority welfare schemes is concerned. Acting as deputy collectors and taking care of the implementation of the schemes, these officers help in checking the misuse of funds earmarked for the minority welfare schemes, said principal secretary, home and minority welfare department, Amir Subhani. Bihar has over 16% Muslim population which is 25% in 20 districts. Subhani said he monitors their working through monthly meetings. Most of the officers, selected by the BPSC, do not belong to minority community. “They are supposed to work for the minority welfare and not necessarily belong to minority class,” Subhani said. These officers have been trained at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie, he said. After the Sachar committee report, which was submitted some eight years back, the Centre launched major schemes for the minorities and Bihar also introduced its own ambitious programmes for their welfare. Apart from the central and state sponsored schemes, including the MSDP, these officers have also been entrusted with the task to look after the state government’s ambitious project to fence all the graveyards. The fencing of the open cemeteries has been a sensitive job and often leads to communal tension. Subhani said another ambitious state government scheme for the minorities is education loan named as Mukhya Mantri Alpsankhyak Shiksha Rin Yojana under which loan at a simple rate of interest at 4% is made available to the educational and economic uplift of the minorities. “The government is providing an annual grant of Rs 10 crore for this scheme,” he said and added that launched two years back, it has helped minority community students in pursuing engineering, medical and management education. So far about 500 students have benefited from this scheme. Even Justice (retd) Rajnder Sachar lauded the works done by the Bihar government for Muslims. At a seminar held here in April, over a month before CM Nitish Kumar resigned, the Sachar committee author complemented that the Nitish government has made good plans in 19 districts where Muslim population is 25% to 30% and above. He had advised that the targeted schemes should be made for minorities and implemented at block level. (Times of India 23/11/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

24. Muslims complain of being targeted in Kerala (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A section of Muslims in the State are aggrieved that they are being targeted by the police and being looked at with suspicion, National Commission for Minorities member Farida Abdulla Khan has said. Ms. Khan, who is in charge of Kerala, was here on Thursday as part of a fact-finding mission to review the implementation of the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme for the minorities. She told reporters that members of the Muslim community complained that the police were looking at them with suspicion and stamping them as fundamentalists. The Nadar community complained that they were not getting adequate reservation in different realms. She would be visiting the coastal areas and the hilly regions such as Wayanad to make an on-the-spot study of the minorities as well as the marginalised sections of society. Asked about the traditional attire being worn by Muslim women, Ms. Khan said it was strictly a personal affair and rests with individuals. “What is more significant is providing education and other basic amenities.” Regarding the role of private educational institutions in bettering the lot of the marginalised sections, she said the government should play a pivotal role and not private institutions. “Private institutions can play only a negligible role and the onus is on the government in providing education,” she said. Kerala State Minority Commission chairman M.Veerankutty said the commission had received around 2,000 complaints, of which about 1,400 had been sorted out. Minister for Minority Welfare Manjalamkuzhi Ali sought the intervention of the National Commission for Minorities to provide more financial assistance for the State. During an interaction with Ms. Khan at his office, Mr. Ali sought more financial assistance as scholarship for students belonging to the minority communities. He also sought permission to implement the multi-sector development programme at the block panchayat level. (The Hindu 21/11/14)

25. Govt committed to free Waqf properties of encroachment: Najma Heptulla (7)

CHENNAI: Centre is committed to free Waqf properties of encroachment and develop them with the help of a “strong legislation”, Union Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptulla said today. “In the last standing committee meeting (in this regard), all members cutting across political lines supported a strong legislation. As soon as it is passed, we will remove illegal encroachments and develop them,” she told reporters here. She said records of Waqf properties were being digitised and computerised, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “happy” over this effort. On Samajwadi Party leader and UP Minister Azam Khan’s statement that the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra should be handed over to the Waqf Board, she said “Taj Mahal is a national asset and it should be protected.” To a question on why her Ministry was celebrating the 125th anniversary of freedom fighter Abul RPT Abul Kalam Azad and not that of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, she said the former was chosen not because of his religion but his vision for India’s development. Recalling that he was India’s first Education Minister, Heptulla said that the UGC and IIT took shape under him and “he wanted to develop Indians and Indian youth, not just Muslims”, and therefore the focus was on him. “He laid the foundation stone for India’s future development,” she said, adding, even as she hailed Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and S Radhakrishnan were ‘great leaders.’The Minister earlier inaugurated the Regional Office of the National Minorities Development and Finance and the Skill Development Center of Maulana Azad National Academy for Skills. She also signed MoUs with some sector skill councils for skill development. (Times of India 22/11/14)

26. Muslims, dalits and tribals make up 53% of all prisoners in India (7)

NEW DELHI: Muslims, dalits and adivasis — three of the most vulnerable sections of Indian society — make up more than half of India’s prison population, according to an official report on prisons released this month. Although the proportion of these three communities in India adds up to about 39%, their share amongst prisoners is considerably higher at 53%.India had 4.2 lakh people in prison in 2013. Nearly 20% of them were Muslims although the share of Muslims in India’s population is about 13% according to Census 2001. Religion-wise data from Census 2011 is yet to be released but it is unlikely to be much different. Dalits make up 22% of prisoners, almost one in four. Their proportion in population is about 17% according to Census 2011. While adivasis make up 11% of prisoners, their share in the general population is 9%.Most experts say that this disturbing trend is not because these communities commit more crimes. Rather, it arises because they are economically and socially under-privileged, unable to fight costly cases or often even pay for bail. Some say that these communities are targeted with false cases. Former chief justice of Delhi high court Rajinder Sachar, who headed the committee that brought out a report on the condition of Muslim community in India in 2006, pointed out that there had been several cases of Muslim youths being acquitted after years in prison. “Poverty is more prevalent among these three communities and that becomes an obstacle in dealing with the legal system,” said Colin Gonsalves, human rights activist and lawyer. “Our system has an ingrained communal and casteist bias. Also, the proportion of these communities in the police officers and even judiciary is less. These are key factors behind this shocking imbalance,” he added. Pointing out that nearly 68% of the prisoners are undertrials, Abusaleh Sharif, who was member-secretary of the Sachar Committee and later brought out an updated report on the conditions of Muslims, said that they had to remain behind bars because of inability to negotiate the hostile system.”Among those in prison under preventive detention laws, nearly half are Muslims. This is the kind of thing that the government needs to speedily investigate and resolve,” Sharif said. Ramesh Nathan of the National Dalit Movement for Justice alleged that false cases are filed against dalits in order to intimidate them, causing this disturbingly high number of prisoners among vulnerable sections. “In my experience as a lawyer, whenever a dalit person files a case under the Atrocities Act, a false countercase under some penal code provision is filed by the culprits,” he said. Prison statistics are published annually by the National Crime Records Bureau since 1995, although caste breakup is available since 1999. The proportions of Muslims, dalits and adivasis have remained virtually unchanged over the past 15 years indicating that this is a systemic problem. ITimes if India 24/11/14)

27. Gujarati Muslims welcome Sharia-based SBI mutual fund (7)

Ahmedabad: Muslims in Gujarat have welcomed the decision of the State Bank of India to launch the Shariah-compliant mutual fund from next month. SBI is the first government bank in the country to launch Shariah-based equity and equity-related instruments. Social and religious leadership of the community have reacted with approval about the development as objective of the new equity fund, they say, is to provide medium and long term capital gains by those Muslims who avoid investing in interest-based and other business activities not approved by Shariah, or the Islamic financial and business laws. “We welcome it with open arms if the new mutual fund launched by SBI is based on principles of Shariah”, said Mufti Ahmed Devlavi, president of the Gujarat unit of the Board for Protection of Madrasas  and a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). Devlavi said that AIMPLB had been demanding for long for a permission to set up an Islamic Bank in India but the government denied it on the ground that the demand was not in consistence with the policies of the Reserve Bank of India. Welcoming the decision, social activist J S Bandukwala said that a large number of Muslims avoided investing in companies because they were not aware of which companies were doing what kind of business and whether it was in line with the business laws prescribed by Shariah. Shariah prevents investment in companies or projects associated with taking and giving of interest,  gambling, alcohol, pork and pornography. Stating that the new initiative of SBI would bring into circulation a huge amount of money which was lying idle, social and political activist Zubair Gopalani said that it was a “revolutionary step” of SBI that would change the economic scenario of the country. He said that SBI seemed to have been attracted to launch the new equity fund  because of  better performance of Shariah-compliant mutual fund activities run by some private players for the last several years and returns on these investments were higher than in non-Shariah mutual fund investment. Mufti Imtiaz Malek of the Darul Qaza(Islamic Court), appreciating the effort of the SBI in this regard, said that it would help in economic integration of a large section of the Muslim community who kept themselves aloof from investing in equity market. He said that  the new fund was quite okay as it was not interest based and customers were to share both the profit as well as losses. The scheme will be advised by a Shariah Advisory Board to ensure adherence to Shariah law in the portfolios. (Indian Express 26/11/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

28. Sister Euphrasia, Father Chavara: spiritual motivation for devotees (7)

Thrissur: : Sister Euphrasia and Father Kuriakose Chavara were spiritual motivation for the believers, said Auxiliary Bishop of Thrissur Archdiocese Mar Raphael Thattil. He was delivering homily during a holy mass at St. Mary’s convent chapel, Ollur, on Sunday just an hour before Pope Francis conferred sainthood on Sister Euphrasia and Father Kuriakose Chavara at Vatican. “Thrissur is the cradle of Christian belief. St. Thomas apostle first landed in the country at Kodungallur. The Church in India was first established at Palayur. Ollur, which was blessed with the long association of Sister Euphrasia, has been known as ‘Little Rome’. Thrissur has a rich tradition in Christian faith,” said Mar Thattil. Though she was confined to the convent for her entire life, Sister Euphrasia prayed for everyone around her, he said. Her life was for the poor. The Auxiliary Bishop received a torchlight procession and relics taken out from Sister Euphrasia’s house at Aranattukara to St. Mary’s Church, Ollur. Many people paid floral tribes to the relics. Statues of Sister Euphrasia and Father Kuriakose Chavara were installed at St. Thomas Church Aranatukara, where Sister Euphrasia’s mother house is situated. (The Hindu 24/11/14)

29. A historic day for Catholic Church in Kerala (7)

KOTTAYAM: The services of Kuriakose Elias Chavara were recalled by leaders from all sections of society at a civic gathering held at St. Joseph’s Monastery, Mannanam, to coincide with his canonisation. Inaugurating the meeting, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said the call made by St. Chavara in his capacity as the vicar general of the Catholic community to start a school along with every parish church (Palliyodoppam Pallikkudom) was one of the key factors that led to the State’s march in the education sector during the past more than a century. He could not be claimed by any particular community or Church, but was part of the common heritage of Kerala society, Mr. Chandy said. His contributions were never confined to the spiritual and religious spheres but transcended them into the sphere of social reform where he crusaded for the downtrodden. Though acknowledgements of greatness were delayed, entire society could take pride in the recognition of his work globally, Mr. Chandy said. K.M. Mani, Ramesh Chennithala, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, Anoop Jacob (all Ministers); P.C. George, Government Chief Whip; Anto Antony and Joy Abraham, MPs, and others spoke on the occasion. The day began early Sunday at the last resting place of St. Chavara at Mannanam where thousands of devotees arrived to participate in the special prayers arranged in connection with his canonisation, along with that of five others, including Euphrasia Eluvathinkal. In the morning, there were special masses at 6.30 a.m. and 8 a.m. to coincide with the canonisation process. By 10.30 a.m., the rosary rallies taken out by the Kudamaloor, Athirampuzha, and Kaipuzha parishes started arriving. After the prayers at 1 p.m., the direct telecast of the canonisation process began. This was followed by a special thanksgiving mass celebrated by 100 priests. The special prayers of the day came to a close with the first rasa carrying the image of St. Chavara at Mannanam. (The Hindu 24/11/14)

30. Replace ‘Father’ with ‘Pracharya’, VHP asks Catholic church-run schools in Bastar (7)

In the tribal district of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, the Catholic missionaries are under intense pressure from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hind right-wing organisation, to implement a number of changes in the schools run by the Christian diocese, said an Indian Express report. As per the demands of VHP, the missionaries have now agreed that instead of the word “Father”, students will now on use the word “Pracharya”, or “Up-pracharya”, or “Sir” to address school principal. Also, photographs of “Maa Saraswati” and “great personalities who have worked for national interest” will be put up in classrooms. VHP wants Catholic school system changed According to a pact jointly signed by Bastar district VHP president Suresh Yadav and the spokesperson of the Bastar Catholic Community, Abraham Kannampala, “notice boards and assemblies of all Catholic educational institutions of Bastar” should specify that instead of “Father”, principals be addressed as Pracharya or Up-Pracharya or Sir. A statement issued by the Catholic missionaries adds, “The Catholic community expresses regret if any community, religion or society was hurt by our community.” In Bastar, a district which spreads over an area bigger than Kerala, the Catholic missionaries run 22 schools.’ The right-wing Hindu organisation has been targeting the missionaries for long over issues like religious conversion. The organisation which has gathered a new momentum after BJP took over the rule at the Centre has been organising “Ghar Vapasi” programmes in interior villages in Bastar to reconvert neo-Christians. Last week, during an address in Bastar, the Bishop of Jagdalpur church had said that a missionary school should be established with every church in the region. This enraged the VHP which immediately sent a letter to the Bastar Commissioner, Chief Minister Raman Singh and the Governor accusing the Church of trying to promote communalism and narrow-mindedness. (One India 24/11/14)

31. Woman made to parade naked for not working well in Pakistan (7)

Lahore: A 28-year-old pregnant Christian woman in Pakistan was allegedly paraded naked for not working up to the expectation of her employer. The victim is a resident of Christian Colony Rana Town of Sheikhupura district in Punjab Province. She worked as a maid.  The victim claimed that she was made to walk naked for about half an hour for not up to the expectations of her employer.  She said her employer’s son dragged her outside and tore her clothes with his four friends.  She said the culprits left her naked in the corner of the street where an elderly woman gave her clothes. She was later shifted to hospital by her relatives.  Flanked by her husband and other Christian leaders, the mother of four, said: “I was two-month pregnant and I lost my baby in the incident. Police are not arresting the accused. I will commit suicide if I am not given justice,” she warned.  Her husband said the police had registered a case against the accused after medical report confirmed five injuries. (Zee News 25/11/14)

32. Christian forum complains of VHP “pressure” (7)

RAIPUR: The Chhattisgarh Christian Forum (CCF) has accused the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) of “pressuring and threatening” the Catholic Diocese of Bastar to accept the demands of putting Hindu Goddess Saraswati’s picture in Catholic schools of Bastar and allowing non-Christian students to call Catholic teachers “Pracharya” instead of “Father”. The Catholic Diocese of Jagdalpur (Bastar) allegedly held a joint press conference with representatives of the VHP in Bastar on Sunday and issued a statement giving its “acceptance” to the VHP’s demands. “The Diocese and his people were pressurised and threatened to sign the statement, which says that Saraswati’s picture will be put in every Catholic school of Bastar and ‘Father’ can be called ‘Pracharya’ or ‘Up-pracharya’. This is a clear violation of our fundamental right to religion, which the Constitution provides us. Neither the VHP nor any of our own Diocese has the right to violate our fundamental rights,” Arun Pannalal, CCF president told The Hindu. “There is a decision-making system in our Church and any such decision has to go through a series of committees from town level to national level. The final decision is taken by the national body, which can issue statements on behalf of the community. The Jagdalpur Diocese is not authorised to take any such decisions or issue any statement,” claimed the CCF chief. However, the spokesperson of Catholic Diocese of Jagdalpur, Abraham Kannampala, denied being “threatened or pressured” into accepting VHP’s demands. “We gave an in-principle acceptance to VHP’s demands. But our decision will have to be endorsed by the Bishop, who is the final authority,” said Mr.Kannampala. According to Father Dominic Emanuel, former Delhi Archdiocese spokesperson, the Christian community is “certainly not [going] along” with the decision of Jagdalpur Diocese. “The Jagdalpur diocese may not be simply under physical pressure, but does he have a choice? He has to stay in Bastar and run schools there. We don’t know what kind of pressure he has faced and what will be the consequences if he goes back on his word,” said Father Emanuel. Both Father Emanuel and Mr.Pannalal claimed that the whole “drama” was an attempt by the VHP to “frighten” the minority community. However, the VHP denied the allegations levelled by the Christian bodies. “The Jagdalpur Catholic body had invited us for the meeting. We just proposed our demands and they accepted them. The allegations against us are baseless. They (CCF) want to disturb the peaceful atmosphere here,” VHP Bastar district president Mr.Suresh Yadav told The Hindu. The CCF president informed that the body will take a legal route against the demands imposed by the VHP. (The Hindu 26/11/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

33. Seven refugee camp inmates consume sleeping pills, stable (13)

TRICHY: High drama prevailed at the special camp for refugees inside the Trichy Central Prison on early Wednesday morning after 26 inmates were found in ‘drowsy’ condition following their alleged consumption of sleeping pills. Seven of them were taken to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital (MGMGH). The seven inmates were identified as Eela Nehru, 45, Srijeyan, 37, Chandrakumar, 44, Ramesh, 32, Sivaneswaran, 28, Maheswaran, 30, and Dhaya, 35. Doctors at the special camp and MGMGH said the condition of the inmates were stable. Twenty-six inmates of the special camp went on a fast since November 15 demanding their release at the earliest so that they could join with their family and relatives at the Sri Lankan refugee camp at Kottapattu in Trichy. Thirty-one refugees from Sri Lanka and Malaysia lodged at the special camp face charges of overstaying, trying to illegally enter into Australia, alleged links with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and ATM fraud. District collector Jayashree Muralidharan said the health condition of all the inmates was stable. “A very few of them consumed sleeping pills and they had mild drowsiness. They recovered after treatment and none of them is serious,” the collector said. The inmates accessed to the sleeping pills through their relatives who met them in the special camp. In the wake of the Wednesday’s incident, the doctors in the camp and the hospital were told to keep vigil on the inmates to prevent them from consuming any pills without the doctors’ advice. Sources said the district administration made several attempts to pacify the protestors by explaining to them about the legal procedures involved in their matter. A senior officer held talks with them on Tuesday night for more than an hour but the protestors refused to abandon their protest. Police sources said their demand to release them from the special camp could not be decided immediately as the cases were pending against them. (Times of India 20/11/14)

34. Keep tabs on refugees living in Hyderabad, cops tell NGO (13)

HYDERABAD: In no mood to take chances with Myanmarese refugees after the recent arrest of Mohammed Khalid by the National Investigation Agency for alleged links to the Burdwan blast case, the police came knocking on the doors of Cova, an NGO to examine if they have processes to monitor their movement. Officials of Cova, which is an implementing partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and coordinates with asylum seekers of various nationalities, said that police from both Cyberabad and Hyderabad, in deliberations held on Wednesday, asked the NGO to devise strong tracking mechanisms, which is not in place. The thrust of the meeting was on community-based monitoring. It was also decided that the asylum seekers and refugees living in various parts of the city would be divided into clusters. A “reliable” person of each cluster would be appointed as a “cluster head”. Cluster members can report any suspicious activity or person to the cluster head. The cluster head in turn would appraise Cova and police, sources privy to the meeting said. Admitting that it is difficult to keep a watch on “migrant” refugees, those who move from city to city, a Cova official, who did not wish to be identified, said: “In case any Myanmarese wants to leave the city, he or she will now have to provide details of their destination, including the address where they will be living, and also the purpose of leaving the city. The refugees are afraid of being profiled and do not want any trouble with police, which is why they have assured us of their full cooperation.” Registration of refugees is an international United Nations convention and does not give asylum seekers special privileges, the source clarifed. The refugees and asylum seekers were asked to submit copies of documents such as proof of identity and also their application for refugee status filed at the UNHCR office in New Delhi with Cova. The NGO estimates the number of asylum seekers and refugees in the city to over 2,000 living in Balapur, from where Khalid was arrested, Barkas, Shaheen Nagar, Shastri Puram, Hafeez Baba Nagar and Kishan Bagh. (Times of India 21/11/14)

35. 270 Syrian refugees saved off coast of Cyprus (13)

Nicosia: A boat carrying 270 Syrian refugees trying to reach Europe was towed to the Turkish controlled northern coast of Cyprus after drifting for several hours. The rescue operation took place overnight between Saturday and Sunday, reported Xinhua citing a Turkish Cyprus media release. According to the statement, the boat left the Turkish port of Mersin for Italy, a favourite destination of most illegal immigrants from the Middle East. The authorities controlling northern Cyprus did not comment on the reports. Reports said the Syrian refugees, including 30 children, were initially taken into an indoor stadium. Most of the refugees were returned to Turkey Sunday but 10 were left behind to be treated at a hospital. The reports said the crew abandoned the boat which was left drifting off the Cypriot coast. In September, Cypriot authorities saved 340 people from Syria after their boat met rough seas off the coast of the island. (The Hindu 24/11/14)

36. Rehabilitation Package for Migrant Indians (13)

Delhi: Recently, 6977 persons have been evacuated from Iraq and 3284 persons have been evacuated from Libya. However, there may be other persons who have come back to India on their own & the assessment in this regard is not feasible. Rehabilitation of returnees rests mainly with the State Governments. The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) has advised the State Governments that the existing State/ Central Sector Schemes be used for rehabilitation. Presently, the Ministry does not have any scheme for providing assistance to State Governments for rehabilitation of returnees from abroad. This information was given by Minister of State Overseas Indian Affairs General & External Affairs (Retd.) V.K. Singh in Lok Sabha Today. (Business Standard 26/11/14)

37. Rohingya Muslims at the crossroads (13)

HYDERABAD: On a chilly morning, 30-year-old Akram (name changed) stood at the gate of the colony where he stays in Balapur, near Chandrayangutta. He is one among the thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees living in the city after fleeing from persecution in his homeland of Myanmar. Now, after few years of calm, Akram and several others in his colony are a worried lot, after they learnt that a member of their community had been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over alleged terror charges. “Our name is tainted now because of this one incident. We don’t even feel like showing our faces to the people we meet everyday,” said Wasim (name changed), another refugee, who does labour work daily. Wasim explained that apart from the daily hardships he and his community members face, they now have to deal with questions regularly about their identity as well. “Of course, people ask about the arrest, and also whether we knew that man (Khaled). But the truth is that none of us knew him, as he would barely talk to us. We only knew that he was living nearby,” he said. Reflecting on the past, of the persecution they had to flee from, both Wasim and Akram are now wondering about their uncertain future. They narrated how they left their properties and valuables and fled from their State of Arakan in Myanmar, hoping to live in India. “We chose to come to India thinking that life would be better here, and that we would be safe. But our existence here is also a question mark now,” said Akram. With limited work available for men, who are burdened with taking care of their families, both the them hope that the coming days would be better, so that they can at least carry on with their existence here. (The Hindu 27/11/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

38. Depts ignoring DoPT rules in RTI matters: notice issued (1)

New Delhi: Even nine years after enactment of the Right to Information Act, officials have been found to be rejecting applications with fee drawn in favour of ‘Accounts Officer’ as mandated by the Central Government. Taking a stern view against the practice, the Central Information Commission recently issued a show-cause notice to the Delhi Government for rejecting an RTI application on the grounds it was drawn in favour of “Accounts Officer” and not in favour of “Executive Engineer” as per their internal rules. This is not the only case where application has been rejected. In a number of cases, public authorities like Army and Indian Air Force demand fee drawn as per their rules and do not follow the DoPT norms. The application sought details of MPLAD funds and their expenses during the last five years on flood control measures. It was returned by the Irrigation Department claiming that name of the payee was wrong on the fee submitted by the applicant. “The Commission directs Rajesh Singh, Executive Engineer: Civil Division:IV to show cause as to why penalty u/s 20 should not be imposed upon him for not accepting the IPO in the name of the Accounts Officer despite clear instructions from DoPT. “He is directed to submit his response so as to reach the Commission within three weeks of receipt of this order,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said. If the officer fails to explain the reason for rejecting the application, the Commission may penalise him at the rate of Rs 250 per day from the day the application was filed subject to a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000. He also directed the PIO to ensure that while responding to the RTI application, the PIO should ensure that reference date is mentioned so that appellants do not find it difficult to link it to their RTI application. “Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) has repeatedly reminded public authorities to accept all payments under RTI Act made in ‘Accounts Officer’. But difficulties are being faced by RTI petitioners because of public authorities not complying with DoPT circulars,” RTI applicant Subhash Agrawal said. (Business Standard 20/11/14)

39. 55 info officers to be fined Rs 25,000 each (1)

MEERUT: State Information Commissioner (SIC)Rajkeshvar Singh, on a visit to Meerut on Saturday, instructed the district magistrate to penalise 55 information officers from different departments with a penalty of Rs 25,000 each. The SIC was in the city to address a meeting of officials on the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005. On getting to know that there were as many as 832 RTI applications pending in Meerut, the official said those responsible for the large pendency – and Meerut has the dubious distinction of being the district with the largest pendency of RTI applications in the state – should be penalised. Chaudhary Charan Singh University accounts for 116 of the pending RTI applications. The SIC asked the district magistrate to recover Rs 13,75,000 from the 55 information officers who showed laxity in responding to RTI applicants. He directed all departments to dispose of pending applications in a period of one or two months. Addressing the media, he said, “Awareness of RTI Act is a big reason of the increasing pendency. Information officers are not intentionally showing laxity. This is the system. It is not so perfect. Under the law, information must be provided in 30 days.” The SIC explained that departments that have the largest public dealings also have the highest pendency. “Following the CCSU, the revenue department is at second position, having 100 pending cases. Power Corporation and Meerut Development Authority have 60 and 54 pending applications respectively.” Asked about threats to RTI applicants, the SIC said, “The protection of RTI activists is not in the hands of the Information Commission. It is the responsibility of police and district administration.” He urged citizens to refrain from misusing the RTI Act. If bizarre information is sought, it takes up time and energy that could be better spent elsewhere, he said. “Information on a private person cannot be provided. Information that affects business interests is also not given. There is a provision to consider the needs of secrecy,” the SIC explained. A special hearing of RTI applications is scheduled in Lucknow on December 27. RTI applications that pertain to the Meerut Development Authority and the city municipal corporation will be heard on January 17 next year. (Times of India 22/11/14)

40. PM Modi’s wife Jashodaben files RTI on her security cover (1)

Mehsana: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wife Jashodaben has filed an RTI application with Mehsana police to seek clarity on security cover given to her and wanted to know what she is entitled to. Mehsana Superintendent of Police(SP) J R Mothalia said that Jashodaben wants to know what are her rights as PM’s wife as far as the security aspect is concerned. “Today, she came to our office and filed an RTI to know about her rights as PM’s wife with regard to security cover. We will give our written reply to her in stipulated time,” said Mothalia. Jashodaben lives with her brother Ashok Modi at Unjha town of Mehsana district. After Modi was sworn-in as PM, she has been given security by Mehasana police. “We have deployed ten of our policemen, including armed guards, for her security. They work in two shifts, five each in one shift.” said Police Inspector of Mehsana Special Operations Group(SOG) J S Chavda. In her application, Jashodaben sought several documents from the police department related to her security cover given as per the protocol, including the certified copy of actual order passed by government about providing security. She also wanted to know the laws and related provisions in Indian Constitution about security cover given to a PM’s wife. She asked the government to explain the definition of protocol and sought details about what is included under it and what other benefits she is entitled for as per that protocol. She also expressed unhappiness about the current security set-up, where her guards travel in government vehicles like car, while despite being a PM’s wife she has to travel in public transport. Jashodaben noted that late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by her own bodyguards and that she felt scared of her guards. She asked the government to make it compulsory for each guard to produce copy of deployment order. (Business Standard 25/11/14)

41. Govt ignoring monthly reports: RTI (1)

What’s the best way to ensure your government works? The answer may lie in the monthly summaries that every ministry and department must submit to the cabinet secretariat on the work they’ve been doing. But when transparency activist Venkatesh Nayak attempted to obtain reports for 27 departments under 10 ministries through the Right to Information Act, only six replied in full. More than half didn’t bother writing back at all. And some replied without giving him the information. Nayak, programme coordinator with Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, is now set to petition the government to disclose these monthly summaries on all ministry and department websites. Filing monthly summaries is mandatory under the ‘Rules of procedure in regard to proceedings of the cabinet,’ a manual compiled in 1987 which itself was kept secret until Nayak battled the administration through RTI in order to get hold of a copy. Nayak filed an RTI query in August this year, asking for monthly summaries for departments under key ministries such as home, finance, defence, external affairs, social justice and water resources. While Nayak received the maximum number of replies from departments under the ministry of finance, his applications were rejected by the ministry of defence. The department of defence under the ministry of defence rejected the RTI application to provide monthly reports on the grounds that it was exempt from disclosing information under section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI act, dealing with national security. “This is a complete misreading of the clause. Information is exempt only if disclosure will affect national security. The department did not bother to explain how the entire monthly summary attracts this provision,” says Nayak. Ironically the department of personnel and training, which looks after the implementation of the RTI and the Lokpal Act, did not reply to the RTI query on monthly submissions. Strangely, while Nayak did not receive any information from the departments of disinvestment and financial services under the ministry of finance, sister departments such as expenditure, revenue and economic affairs were prompt with their response. “One of the reasons for what was believed to be policy paralysis under the previous government may have been a lack of adequate monitoring of the work that each department did. If a report does not come at all, or a report with the word ‘nil’ is filed, how will the cabinet secretariat or the prime minister even get to know if work is progressing well or has slowed down?” asks Nayak. (Times of India 27/11/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

42. Anganwadi workers protest dilution of ICDS (11)

NEW DELHI: As UNICEF acknowledged India’s success in improving the lot of children in the State of the World Children Report 2015 — unveiled on Friday — hundreds of anganwadi workers took to the streets in the Capital to protest the dilution of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), one of the biggest interventions made at the national level for early childhood development. Under the banner of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers — associated to the Centre of Indian Trade Unions — the anganwadi employees submitted four crore signatures to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking his intervention in saving ICDS from privatisation. Apart from flagging the problems faced by anganwadi workers who “have no minimum wages or pension after 38 years of service,” the Federation said India still accounts for 42 per cent of the world’s undernourished children. “Seventy-eight per cent of them are anaemic. 85 lakh children die at birth every year.’’ Asserting every child’s right to education and healthcare, the Federation said: “Shall we leave our future to the mercy of some ‘big’ ‘good’ people and corporate companies who may or may not help some of the `poor’ to eat food through some of their ‘charity’ programmes which fund the ICDS?’’ (Th Hindu 22/11/14)

43. Future uncertain for boy admitted under RTE Act (11)

JAIPUR: Seven-year-old Rohan (Name changed), a Class II student, is sitting at home from past 40 days. He is missing his classes and missed his exams. Every day he argues with his father to take him to school but is left disappointed. For the second time in this year he was expelled by his school Jaipuria Bal Vidhalaya situated on JLN Marg for non-payment of fees. He was admitted in the 2011-12 session under the Right to Education Act-2009. It means the state has to reimburse his fees to the concerned school. His father, Mahesh Kumar Tak, is a clerk in education department at Shiksha Sankul on contractual basis. The family had been all praises for the Act which made it possible for them to see their ward studying in a reputed private school. The dream lasted for a year. This January, the school issued a notice to them asking to deposit the fees as education department hadn’t reimbursed a single penny on account of Rohan’s admission. Rohan was forced out of school for a week then. The family was under the pressure due to final exams which were round the corner. They borrowed money and paid the fees thinking that the matter will be fixed soon. Mahesh Tak then approached the education department officers who refused to help him saying that they cannot waste time and energy on a single case. This left him with no choice but to knock on the door of Rajasthan High Court which directed the school that since the petitioner was given admission under RTE……the respondent (School) is restrained to charge fees in April 2014. Even after the court order, the school refuses to budge. Again in October this year, the school issued a notice to Rohan’s parents asking them to pay the fees of this session as they had again not received any reimbursement from the government. It came as a rude shock for the parents to see the matter was not resolved even after the court issued orders. “I went to school and showed them the court order but they refused to honor it. I again went to the court which directed me to file contempt petition on November 7,” said Tak who is suffering from a chronic disease and does not even have enough money to file a contempt case in the court which amounts to more than his son’s annual fees. Sunil Upadhaya, additional block officer, Jaipur, said, “I have already written a letter to the school directing them to admit the expelled student. Though, we have not received any communication from the school. On Monday, we will take further action against the school for not complying with the court order.” (Times of India 23/11/14)

44. Sangham: How the RSS is charting out changes in education (11)

On the 30th of October, Union Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani had a meeting with a group of 22 at Delhi’s Madhya Pradesh Bhawan. Though this was the sixth meeting between her and RSS leaders in six months, that group was the largest to meet her. The guests represented 11 outfits of the RSS involved in education, who offered their suggestions to Irani over a six-hour meeting, with the understanding that there would be many such meetings in the days to come. Nine days later, a former RSS pracharak, Ram Shankar Katheria of Agra, joined Irani as Minister of State, HRD. The Sangh’s “role” in the Narendra Modi government may now be no more than a matter of academic debate, but a sphere where it is more or less settled is education. It is also one area where Modi’s “development agenda”, both when he was chief minister of Gujarat and now in the Prime Minister’s chair, is quite at peace with the Sangh’s. To interact with the government and the BJP, the RSS has divided its frontal organisations into six groups, namely Arthik Samooh, Sewa Samooh, Shiksha Samooh, Suraksha Samooh, Jan Samooh and Vichar Samooh. The 11 outfits that met Irani are part of the ‘Shiksha Samooh’, and vary in scale, ambition and spread. The shortlisting of 11 “liaisons” from them, to be in constant touch with the minister, was just an indication of the kind of broad policy-level changes the RSS wants, though things may have got off on the wrong foot. RSS functionaries have been irked by Irani’s “indecisiveness”. “Several appointments are delayed,” said a representative who attended the October 30 meeting. “We have offered Irani possible names for some posts but she did not show enthusiasm.” The choice of Katheria as MoS is being seen as dictated by the RSS, to advise Irani on “Sangh interests” and to keep her “in tune” with them. However, Katheria’s start too has been wobbly, shadowed by the charge that he forged his graduation marksheet. Irani has stressed several times that a new education policy is in the works. At an RSS function in Varanasi last week, she said that the new policy would be announced next year. Her most controversial move so far has been the decision to discontinue German as third language in Kendriya Vidyalaya schools. The board of governors of the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan led by Irani announced that Central schools could only offer a Indian language, especially Sanskrit, as third language. Interestingly, the organisation fighting this cause, the Sanskrit Shikshak Sangh, is not affiliated to the RSS but patronised by former Congress MP Mahabal Mishra. On December 13-14, RSS-affiliated organisations will hold a national-level seminar on the “recommendations, implementation and relevance of education commissions since Independence”, in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh. Topics such as autonomy of educational institutions, value-based education, science and spirituality, examination system, teachers’ training and research are on the agenda. (The Hindu 24/11/14)

45. Delhi high court wants 25% free EWS seats in playschools (11)

NEW DELHI: In a landmark verdict, Delhi high court on Monday directed playschools that were allotted land at concessional rates in the capital to offer 25% of their seats free of charge to children from the weaker sections. A division bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw said Directorate of Education (DoE) must do a yearly compliance check and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) must cancel the lease of schools flouting this order. “People affected by such an attitude of the respondents (government and DDA) are most in need of education, and for providing which the scheme (allotment of land at concessional rates) was devised,” the court said, slamming DoE and DDA for passing the buck. While DoE had said the issue of compliance was between DDA and the schools, the land owning agency claimed it had not received any complaints. “We do not expect the weaker sections of the society, for whose benefit the aforesaid scheme of allotment of prime land at concessional rates on the condition aforesaid was devised, to be in the know of the said condition or to claim enforcement thereof. It is also not as if the respondents have taken any steps, year after year at the time of admission to schools, to advertise the said scheme so as to make the citizens belonging to the weaker sections of the society aware, to be able to approach the schools who are bound by the said condition,” HC observed. HC’s directions came on a plea filed on behalf of the NGO Justice For All by advocate Khagesh Jha, seeking directions for admitting 25% of students from the EWS category in aided and unaided schools that have been granted land at concessional rates. The court said, although orders were passed from time to time, it is issuing fresh directions to “avoid any ambiguity” and its orders will extend to all schools, including nursery, primary, middle or secondary. It further directed DoE to verify annually if schools are abiding with their land allotment clause and providing free education to EWS students. The bench also made a distinction between the 25% EWS clause provided in the lease deed and a separate obligation for another 25% imposed by the Right to Education Act for which the government has to reimburse these schools. It requested the LG, who is also chairman of DDA, to look into the issue and file an affidavit before March 31, 2015 explaining to what extent RTE Act is being enforced on the 25% EWS quota. It also asked whether the government is reimbursing schools that provide free-ships. The RTE Act 2009 requires every recognized school imparting elementary education to admit at least 25% of its strength from children belonging to the weaker sections and disadvantaged groups in the neighbourhood, and provide free and compulsory education to them. (Times of India 24/11/14)

46. Court order on school admission (11)

Guwahati, Nov. 26: A Gauhati High Court division bench of Chief Justice K.S. Rao and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan today delivered a slew of directives regulating admissions to all schools in Assam imparting pre-primary education from the calendar year 2015. The order was passed after a public interest litigation (PIL No. 94/2013) was filed by Children’s Welfare Association, a non-government organisation, on October 31, highlighting various issues confronting pre-elementary or pre-primary education in Assam, particularly the one relating to admission. The court said no school would conduct any admission test or interview of the child or parents and the number of seats available should be clearly indicated. Admission can be based on various criteria such as first-come-first-served basis, neighbourhood of the school, sibling of an existing student, girl child or child of a single parent and specially-abled children but criteria should be placed in public domain, the court order said. The judgment passed said classrooms should not be cramped, schools should maintain healthy teacher-pupil ratio, have adequate and proper toilet facilities and space for sporting activities. Schools should have a child-friendly atmosphere, the court said. It stated that fees to be paid should be disclosed at the time of announcing the admission schedule. Besides, the order stated that a district-level Grievance Redressal Committee has to be constituted and the commissioner and secretary to the government of Assam education (elementary) department has to ensure compliance and implementation. The petitioner had in the PIL alleged that such schools have mushroomed all over the state without adhering to any objective norms with the primary purpose of making nursery and KG education a totally commercial proposition. Parents are not informed about the admission criteria and disproportionately high fees are charged. (The Telegrap 27/11/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

47. Lawmakers from over 170 countries are urged to push on nutrition commitments (21)

NEW DELHI : United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva urged lawmakers from around the world meeting in Rome to play their part in transforming into positive results the commitments to provide healthier diets for all people which governments are expected to adopt at this week’s global nutrition conference. “Improving nutrition requires a collective effort. It requires well-designed laws that improve food systems, ensure healthy diets and strengthen school meals. It also requires adequate public budgets and it calls for strong legal frameworks that consolidate advances and allow us to press ahead,” said Silva. The FAO Director-General was speaking at a meeting organized in Rome by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) which represents lawmakers from over 170 countries. The event held under the title “Parliaments for better nutrition” served as a forum for an exchange of views on key nutrition challenges and opportunities ahead of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) which began in Rome on Wednesday and is scheduled to end on Friday. More than 90 ministers and hundreds of government officials will attend ICN2 which is organized by FAO and the World Health Organization (WHO). Countries are expected to adopt the Rome Declaration on Nutrition, and a Framework for Action, which set out recommendations for policies and programmes to address nutrition across multiple sectors. In his address at the meeting in Rome’s municipal town hall, IPU Honorary President Pier Ferdinando Casini, expressed hope that ICN2 “will stir the necessary action among all stakeholders, including parliaments, to devise and implement coherent policies and better coordinated actions to ensure a sustainable approach to nutrition.” Casini described parliaments as well “one of the most important actors in driving the ICN2 agenda at the country level”. He also said they can review, monitor and supervise government action, including the implementation of policy and legislation related to nutrition, and ensure it is well-delivered. Casini noted that the outcome of the “Parliament’s for better nutrition meeting” would be presented in the form of a statement to ICN2 on the final day of the conference. During Wednesday’s meeting the Latin American Parliamentarians network gave the FAO Director-General an award in recognition of his commitment and support for the regional Parliamentarian Front against Hunger. The Front was established in 2009 within the framework of the FAO-supported Hunger-Free Latin America and Caribbean Initiative. The region is the first to have met the hunger target of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) – halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015. The meeting with the international group of parliamentarians is part of FAO’s initiative to involve the participation of a broader group of stakeholders in hunger and nutrition-related issues. Ahead of ICN2, similar meetings have been organized with representatives from civil society and the private sector. (Times of India 21/11/14)

48. Government to provide interest subvention for housing loans (21)

New Delhi: The government Monday said it will offer interest subvention on housing loans to make it more affordable for the poorer sections of the society to own a house. “We are coming out with an interest subvention scheme for the housing sector for the economically weaker section and lower income group people,” said Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu at an industry event here. As per government data, the housing shortfall is 18.78 million out of which more than 90 percent is in the LIG segment. The projected housing shortage of 30 million units is predicted by 2022, the government requires funding of Rs.22.50 lakh crore in overcoming the house shortage during the period. According to Naidu, who was addressing the ninth conclave of the confederation of real estate developers association of India (CREDAI), the government has incorporated all the inputs from builders, consumers and other stake holders in the new real estate regulation and development bill. “We have taken the views of various stakeholders including real estate sector. Then we will go to the cabinet shortly. Once the cabinet approves, I am hoping we will get early clearance,” Naidu said regarding the approval procedure of the new bill. “If not this session, at least by the budget session the real estate development and regulation bill will be a reality.” C. Shekar Reddy, national president, CREDAI recommended to the government that units under the area of 40 sq mts be treated as national infrastructure. Reddy further said that housing is the only sector that attracts multiple taxation. Presently the total tax to be paid is 30-40 percent. “The status of priority sector lending to the affordable housing segment (already announced by RBI for affordable housing) is a needed decision, yet to be implemented,” Reddy said. (Business Standard 24/11/14)

49. Ebola crisis may result in more hunger: UNDP report (21)

United Nations: Wild price swings caused by the Ebola health crisis are making it more difficult for households to feed themselves and make a stable living, according to a new UN report released Monday. The report said that action is required to protect the poor and support farmers, Xinhua reported. “Border closures, movement restrictions and a slowdown in farming activity are shaking food markets badly,” said Ayodele Odusola, chief economist at the Regional Bureau for Africa of the United Nations Development Program(UNDP). Since the onset of the Ebola crisis early this year in West Africa, buying power went down by 20 percent in Sierra Leone and by more than 25 percent in Liberia, said the study. The study also found rural communities were worst affected, due to soaring transport costs and declining farming incomes. Reduced traffic has been observed in more than two-thirds of Liberia’s counties. Till the date, WHO has reported 15,351 Ebola cases in eight countries since the outbreak began, with 5,459 reported deaths, mostly in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the three hardest-hit West African countries. (Business Standard 25/11/14)

50. Food security: WTO may advance deadline to Dec 2015 (21)

New Delhi: The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is ready to advance the deadline for finding a permanent solution on the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes to the end of next year. On India’s insistence, a paragraph is being added to the Bali Ministerial Decision specifying that members shall engage to adopt a permanent solution by December 31, 2015, instead of 2017, an official privy to the on-going negotiations in Geneva told BusinessLine. This follows the recent settlement between India and the US on the issues of food security and trade facilitation after it agreed to support certain changes in the provisions on food security in the Bali Ministerial Decision. Along with the move to find a permanent solution by end 2015, the draft to amend the Bali Ministerial decisions will also make the peace clause, which gives immunity against action for breaching farm subsidy limits, perpetual. “The draft decision on food security arrived at by all members on Monday together with the draft decision on the protocol for Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) is likely to be adopted at the WTO’s General Council meeting on November 26,” the official said. New Delhi had refused to support a protocol on trade facilitation in July this year as it wanted its food security concerns to be adequately addressed. India had wanted the peace clause to be made perpetual till a permanent solution was found. It had demanded that as a permanent solution to the risk of its food procurement schemes leading to a breach in subsidy caps, they should either be dropped from the list of trade distorting subsidies, or calculated on a more recent base year or get indexed to inflation. As per the WTO draft, negotiations on a permanent solution shall be held in the Committee on Agriculture in special sessions, distinct from agriculture negotiations under the broader Doha Round. (Business Line 26/11/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

51. India committed to labour reforms without compromising working class: Dattatreya (14)

New Delhi: Union Labour Minister Bandaru Dattatreya has said that the NDA Government is committed to labour reforms, but these reforms will not be initiated or introduced at the expense of the interests of the nation’s working class. India’s outdated labour laws strictly limit hiring and firing, while an onerous ‘inspector raj’ deluges employers with paperwork, discouraging them from expanding and adding staff. “The government led by Narendra Modi is committed to labour reforms but not at the cost of working class,” said Dattatreya at a meeting with major trade unions here. Just eight percent of Indian workers have formal jobs with any security and benefits, such as provident Ffnd, while the vast majority work in the informal sector, experts say. The change would benefit chiefly firms that employ just a few people. In 2009, 84 percent of India’s manufacturing workers were employed by firms with fewer than 50 staff, research by the Asian Development Bank shows. “Our aim is national interest. We are not at all narrow-minded. We don’t want to bulldoze anybody. Our interest is national interest. We are looking forward and we are not looking backward,” Dattatreya added. Even though the World Bank says India has one of the world’s most rigid labour markets, fears of a trade union backlash and partisan politics have deterred governments from reform. Business leaders have high hopes for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, an advocate of smaller government and private enterprise, to change that. (New Kerala 20/11/14)

52. Labour budget exercise under rural job scheme under way (14)

Tiruvannamalai: The Intensive Participatory Planning Exercise (IPPE) to draft labour budget for 2015-16 under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is under way in Thandarampattu block, one of the five blocks identified to be backward in Tiruvannamalai district. The IPPE was launched on November 11 and is expected to conclude on December 15. The planning exercise would be carried out as per newly laid down guidelines. Five trained block planning teams headed by an officer in the rank of Block Development Officer have been dedicated for this exercise. These teams would cover 47 village panchayats. V. Sivakumar, Block Development Officer (block panchayat) of Thandarampattu told The Hindu that the IPPE mainly focused on the realistic estimation of labour budget for 2015-16, through an intensive door-to-door survey covering all households. The teams would take a few days to complete their surveying in a village with help from volunteers. “Transect walk will be performed to assess the hidden resources and unutilised infrastructure facilities of the village. On the final day, social mapping, resource mapping and seasonal mapping will be done by taking people’s views into account. This is to assess the felt individual need and that of the society as a whole. In the concluding session, the labour budget will be finalised. The IPPE will result in preparation of an integrated development plan for each village panchayat of the block under the guidance of District Collector A. Gnanasekaran and Project Director (DRDA), J. Sampath,” he said. The drive was launched at Edathanur. N.S. Saranyadevi, Assistant Project Officer (Wage and Employment — 1) of DRDA, panchayat president R. Sangamithirai and N. Krishnamoorthy, Block Development Officer, also took part. (The Hindu 21/11/14)

53. Rights groups urge Gulf states to protect migrant workers (14)

Kuwait City: International rights and labour groups called Sunday for urgent action to protect migrant workers from abuse in Gulf countries. Ahead of a meeting this week of Gulf and Asian labour ministers, 90 groups issued a statement saying millions of Asian and African workers are facing abuses including unpaid wages, confiscation of passports, physical violence and forced labour. “Whether it`s the scale of abuse of domestic workers hidden from public view or the shocking death toll among construction workers, the plight of migrants in the Gulf demands urgent and profound reform,” said Rothna Begum, Middle East women`s rights researcher at New York-based Human Rights Watch. HRW was one of the signatories of the statement along with other groups including Amnesty International, the International Trade Union Confederation and the International Domestic Workers Federation. Ministers from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Asian countries are meeting on November 26-27 for the third round of the so-called Abu Dhabi Dialogue on labour migration. About 23 million foreigners, including at least 2.4 million domestic servants, live in the six-nation GCC that brings together Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. GCC countries have come under fire for the kafala system of sponsorship for migrant workers, which is used to varying extents across the Gulf. It restricts most workers from moving to a new job before their contracts end unless they obtain their employer`s consent, trapping many workers in abusive situations, the statement said. It called for comprehensive laws to protect migrant labourers and reforming the kafala system to allow workers to change employers without permission from their sponsors. (Zee News 23/11/14)

54. Govt to change archaic provisions in labour laws (14)

NEW DELHI: After Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India” pitch, the labour ministry is “actively” considering to amend several archaic provisions in labour laws, including Factories Act, Apprenticeship Act and Minimum Wages Act. The BJP government is also considering amending the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act to bring it in tune with the Right to Education (RTE) Act, which has been operational since 2010, making education compulsory for all children up to the age of 14 years. “The government is actively considering amendments in the Child Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act 1986, Factories Act 1948, Mines Act 1952, Minimum Wages Act 1948 and the Apprenticeship Act 1961,” Labour Minister Bandharu Dattatreya told Rajya Sabha. Elaborating on the proposed amendments in Factories Act (1948), the minister said there are proposals to amend section 66 of the Act relating to permission for employment of women for night work with adequate safeguards, amendment of sections 64 and 65 to enhance limit of overtime hours from the present 50 hours per quarter to 100 hours per quarter among others. Another proposal is to empower the Central government to make rules under the Factories Act on some important provisions. (Times of India 27/11/14)

55. Tripura CM leads protest against shrinking NREGA at Jantar Mantar (14)

NEW DELHI: A cross-section of political leaders, activists and academics came together on Wednesday at JantarMantar against what they call NarendraModi government’s attempt to dilute Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme. Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar, the first CM to lead a dharna against the dilution of MGNREGS, said his state is facing a massive cut in funds from the Centre. He said it has come down to Rs 650 crore from last year’s Rs 1400 crore. Sarkar said right from the beginning, vested interests in rural areas, big landlords, money lenders, big capitalists and corporate houses were opposed to the programme. He attacked the UPA-II government which had started curtailing MGNREGA. He accused the Modi government of failing to deliver on its promises. “The decision to curtail MNREGS will adversely affect Tripura which is the best performing state in this regard. This will not be tolerated,” he said. Inaugurating the dharna, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said his party will take the protest to each village. In West Bengal, 38,000 villages are observing a bandh and in all of Kerala too demonstrations are being held at the panchayat level. “Modi government is acting at the behest of corporates and the vested interests in the rural areas who are now compelled to pay higher wages since the implementation of the scheme,” he said. Senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said fight against dilution of MGNREGS will not end with one-day protest but will continue inside and outside Parliament. He said assurance given by rural affairs minister Venkaiah Naidu does not mean anything as their main demand for increase in allocation is not being looked into. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar said MGNREGA is facing threats from the big landowners and industrialists. JD (U) president Sharad Yadav said Sarkar is among the best chief ministers in the country and he came to the protest function to laud his efforts in saving MGNREGA from dilution. (Times of India 27/11/14)

RESERVATION

56. State-specific reservations don’t apply to UoH (25)

HYDERABAD: Reservations specific to neither Telangana nor Andhra Pradesh exist at the University of Hyderabad (UoH), where seats are open to students from across the country, insist university officials. Only two supernumerary seats are reserved for students from Jammu & Kashmir and the North Eastern States to encourage students from those regions, officials said in response to news reports that efforts were onto keep the UoH in the jurisdiction of Andhra Pradesh, despite bifurcation of the State. The issue of the university’s jurisdiction was raised by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in 2007, when it asked UoH why its jurisdiction was confined to AP in its Act – when other central varsities did not have the specific mention. Senior teachers said UoH had come into being as part of a six-point formula during the 1969 Telangana and 1971 Andhra agitations, and the sixth point was the creation of a central university. However, seats were always open to students from across the country. Moreover, the jurisdiction of the State had become necessary to ensure that associate and external institutes that offer research courses to students on behalf of UoH have legality. The university allows top institutes like the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology to admit Ph.D students, while the degree is awarded by UoH. Similarly, the UoH selects a few research students who get to work under researchers in top institutions. To ensure that only institutes within the erstwhile AP were eligible, the AP jurisdiction part was adopted by the Executive Council two years ago, officials argue. Meanwhile, a senior UoH teacher said the court meeting had to take place on Friday, November 21, as they received a letter from the MHRD to send an audited report for 2013-14 and for the annual report to be placed in the Parliament session that begins November 24. The reports have to be cleared by the court meeting consisting of all UoH professors and five appointed Parliament members. Among the five, three are no more MPs – including K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Anjan Kumar Yadav and Nama Nageshwar Rao – while the term of Y. Sujana Chowdary and V. Hanumanth Rao will expire soon. Officials say some employees whose appointments were questioned by the MHRD committee were raking up these issues to save themselves. (The Hindu 20/11/14)

57. Reservation policy failed to provide succor to dalits (25)

MYSORE: Karnataka Dalit Vedike convenor Shivakumar Swamy on Sunday revealed that more than 60,000 employees in the state’s various departments have got employment by producing fake caste certificates and said SC and ST leaders have failed to tackle this menace . Speaking at an interaction sessions on “declining reservations” he said the new amendment brought to reservation policy on SC and ST is detrimental to the interests of the poor and the politicians and bureaucrats have failed to take note of it’s anti-dalit intent. Lack of awareness and determination on the part of SC and ST job seekers to get employment has diluted the reservation policy, besides denying jobs to these communities in government departments, he felt and said caste Hindus and their leaders are increasingly questioning the reservation facility. They have started questioning the reservation policy itself and seeking its end, he added. Shivakumara Swamy said instead of questioning the reservations, one should think and analyze whether the purpose of providing reservations has yielded results and achieved goals. Meanwhile in contrast the people who have been benefitted by reservations should introspect on what they have given in return to the society by getting jobs through this facility, he said and stressed the need for relaunching an agitation on this issue. Academician and rationalist K S Bhagwan in his speech said reservation benefits have failed to reach the large section of deserving people. Reservations in proportionate to the population should resolve the issue, he said. Another academician from Krishna Devaraya University, Hampi J Somashekar said this is the time for planners and politicians to review the impact of reservations in these last 64 years and why the reservation facilities have been not extended to Judiciary and army. “No body is questioning why reservation facility has been not been extended to army and judiciary” he criticized questioning the sincerity of promises made by the politicians on the eve of election on extending reservation facility to private sector jobs. “Most surprising is that the government which extended a red carpet welcome to the private corporate bodies and alloted them lands have failed to give a piece of land to dalits for burying the dead” he said urging the dalit activists and leaders to work out an action plan on this issue and how to wage a war against the government to get the benefits. (Times of India 23/11/14)

58. Quota in play schools: HC slams Delhi govt for non-compliance (25)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Monday termed as “unfortunate” and slammed the Delhi government for failing to devise any mechanism to ensure 25 per cent reservation to poor children in play schools running on land alloted at concessional rates. Hearing a plea filed by NGO Justice for All seeking implementation of Right to Education Act in play schools and nurseries, saying they are alloted land by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) at concessional rates, a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also directed the Directorate of Education (DoE) to ensure that all schools, which have been allotted land, abide by the provision. It further ordered DoE that if any such school is found in breach of the above then DDA should be immediately intimated. The persons affected by such an attitude of the respondents are most in need of education and for providing which the aforesaid scheme was devised. Such persons have very little access to justice too. “We do not expect the weaker sections of the society, for whose benefit the aforesaid scheme of allotment of prime land at concessional rates on the condition aforesaid was devised, to be in the know of the said condition or to claim enforcement thereof. “It is also not as if the respondents have taken any steps, year after year at the time of admission to schools, to advertise the said scheme so as to make the citizens belonging to the weaker sections of the society aware thereof, to be able to approach the schools who are bound by the said condition,” the court said. It said that instead of achieving the purpose, the scheme “benefitted the allottees of such land who on one hand have been able to acquire prime land at rates much below the prevalent market rate… “… And on the other hand owing to the respondents not enforcing the condition subject to which such concession was given, being relieved thereof and resultantly being able to also admit students to the said 25 per cent of the seats which were meant for weaker sections of the society, on paid basis.” The court requested Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, who is also the chairman of DDA, to look into the issue and file an affidavit in this regard before March 31, 2015. RTE Act, 2009 mandates every recognised school imparting elementary education to admit to the extent of at least 25 per cent of the strength, children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood and provide free and compulsory education to them.  (Zee News 25/11/14)

59. Gujjars seek intervention of PM on 5 pc quota (25)

Jaipur: Upset over the deadlock with the state government on five per cent special backward classes (SBC) reservation, the Gujjar community of Rajasthan will seek the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and block two national highways in protest. Community leaders and members will march to New Delhi to meet PM and demand categorisation of Other Backward Classes (OBC) quota in government jobs the state. The community has declared plans to start fresh agitations and block two national highways, NH-11 and NH-8,  in the state. “Around one lakh Gujjars will march down to Delhi and a delegation of our leaders will meet the PM to demand categorisation of the OBC quota,” said Himmat Singh, a Gujjar leader. “We will soon take an appointment to meet him,” said Singh. “If we are not allowed to meet Modi, we will hold protest outside Parliament,” he added. Members of rgw Gujjar community have been agitating for five per cent SBC quota, but now they are demanding categorisation of OBC quota. As per Supreme Court directives, state government cannot exceed 50 per cent total reservations 50 under normal conditions. Earlier, governments had given five per cent SBC reservation to Gujjars, which exceeded the prescribed limit of 50 per cent, and this was challenged in the court. Now Gujjars are of the view that categorisation of OBC reservation will ensure reservation to them without exceeding the limit set by the SC. “Around 82 castes in Rajasthan, including Gujjars, come under OBC category. For the last many years, very few castes have been taking all the benefits of OBC reservation. We demand categorisation of the OBC quota,” said Singh. “Gujjars and four other nomadic castes should be given five per cent reservation within the overall 21 per cent of the OBC quota,” added Singh. (Deccan Herald 26/11/14)

60. MRPS presses for SC Categorisation Bill (25)

ONGOLE: Activists of Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS) on Wednesday laid siege to the District Collectorate demanding that the Union government ensure the passage of the Constitution Amendment Bill for Scheduled Caste categorisation during the winter session of Parliament. Leading the protest, MRPS general secretary T. Babu Rao said there should be no issues in getting the bill passed when the TDP, BJP and other parties had committed themselves in their poll manifestos to micro-classification of SCs for reservation in educational institutions and government jobs. Social justice could be ensured to sub-castes only through categorisation of SCs, said MRPS State secretary P. Prabhudas. Madigas got over 22,000 additional jobs when categorisation of SCs was in vogue in the State for four years, said Samiti Prakasam district convenor P. Narendra. “We cannot tolerate any further delay on the issue of micro classification of SCs, said MRPS city president A Venkateswar. (The Hindu 27/11/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

61. Human rights groups slam IAAF for Qatar decision (1)

BERLIN: Human rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Wednesday slammed athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, for awarding the 2019 world championships to Qatar. The Qatari capital of Doha was named host of the 2019 Athletics World Championships on Tuesday, just days after the Gulf state’s football officials were cleared of corruption by FIFA in their successful bid for the 2022 World Cup. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced Doha had beaten off Barcelona and Eugene, Oregon, to the dismay of the two human rights groups. A recent Amnesty International report into Qatar claims some migrant workers are victims of forced labour there and treated appallingly by subcontractors employed by leading construction companies in a sector rife with abuse. “We’re stunned and still in shock, our impression is that our pleas are going unheard,” Regina Spoettl, Amnesty International’s Gulf States expert, told SID, an AFP subsidiary. “We expect that sports events aren’t carried on the backs of millions of exploited workers. “We are concerned that because of the IAAF world championships, even more migrant workers will have to work in inhuman conditions.” Qatar has come under the media microscope since winning the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, with doubts thrown up over corruption, its human rights record and treatment of its massive foreign workforce. Human Rights Watch also criticised the IAAF’s decision. “We are very surprised that the IAAF has awarded the world championships to Qatar, because the public debate on human right and labour rights there has already been running for two years,” Human Rights Watch Germany’s spokesman Wolfgang Buettner told SID. “The awarding already shows an ignorance about the situation of migrant workers. “If the situation of migrant workers had improved, then you could say that the awarding was a kind of reward, but that is not the case as the situation hasn’t changed.” (Times of India 20/11/14)

62. NGOs extend support to cyclone-hit tribal families in Agency areas (1)

VISAKHAPATNAM: Shifting focus on the families and children in the cyclone-affected tribal regions of the Agency areas, Cyclone Relief Task Force Committees under the guidance of organisations like Save the Children (STC) and NGO Nature have launched various welfare projects. Based on the post-cyclone assessment, STC has initiated three programmes under immediate humanitarian response to support the families and children in 41 villages severely affected by the calamity. These programmes include Cash for Work (CFW), Child Friendly Space (CFS) – Balala Ananda Nilayam and Wash campaign, informed S Balaraju, member, state commission for child rights and founder-director of NGO Nature. Explaining the concept of CFW, Sree Nagesh Malladi, in charge of Humanitarian Response, STC, said, “Under CFW, 390 affected families are being supported by providing cash for work at 14 habitations. CFW is meant for only selected beneficiaries from the most-affected families with an objective to clean the debris in and around their houses, streets, water points, cleaning schools, Anganwadi premises and places where children play. The net cash given helps in purchase of essential commodities and food items.” STC has also sanctioned four CFS in four locations including Ashavanipalem in urban Vishakhapatnam, Mangamaripeta in Vishakhapatnam rural, Mukkam and Ramachandrapeta in Vizianagaram district. “These four centres, at a cost of Rs 1 lakh each, will benefit 270 children in the age group of 3-14 years. The objective of CFS is to create a space for children to play, learn and exhibit their talent and also vent the stress undergone during the disaster. Education, learning materials, sport and games materials will be provided for three months. Later, the CFS will be handed over to the community or school authorities,” averred Alka Singh, state programme manager of South Region. Finally, under the Wash campaign, educating the communities from around 30 villages on health, hygiene and sanitation through street plays or Kalajathas are being undertaken by Nature Cultural Team. The campaign aims at creating awareness on health, sanitation and precautions against communicable diseases while explaining the role communities should play during epidemics, explained K Bangaru Babu, field coordinator from NGO Nature. Activities such as distribution of house material kits worth Rs 29 lakh for 725 identified needy beneficiaries the first phase, expansion of CFW to strengthen Swachh Bharat activities in the affected areas, setting up of CFS in needy areas, continuation of Wash awareness campaigns, support to school children by providing 518 education kits at the cost of Rs 4 lakh are on, said G Hymavathi, secretary of NGO Nature. Underlining the future plans of the organizations, programme coordinator from STC K Ranganathan said, “Working on multi-thematic areas including child protection, safety and quality education, community based disaster preparedness (CBDP), comprehensive school safety plans in schools to safeguard children from natural disasters, life skill education to school children are on our list. Nutritional support for pregnant, lactating mothers and children below three years from 750 families would also be provided.” (Times of India 24/11/14)

63. NHRC seeks report on man-animal conflict (1)

Bhubaneswar: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the State Government to submit an action-taken report (ATR) over the consistent man-animal conflict that has caused deaths of both humans and wild animals in Kendrapada district over decades. The NHRC has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary in this regard on a petition filed by Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy. Tripathy told the top human rights body that gravity of man-animal conflict in the district has become so deep that it became a poll plank in the last general election in several villages close to the Bhitarkanika National Park. Estuarine crocodiles and wild boars have been posing life threat in these villages since long, he stated in the petition. Tripathy also informed the NHRC that the seven-month-long embargo on sea-fishing have added woes to nearly 1 lakh people of seaside villages under the Rajnagar and Mahakalpada Assembly constituencies, who have already been affected by attacks of crocodiles and wild boars and forest laws as well. Pointing out that the deaths and injuries of women, children and senior citizens and loss of livelihood amount to gross violation of human rights, Tripathy urged the NHRC to direct the Odisha Environment and Forests Department to take permanent solution to the conflict and to pay adequate compensation to the families of the deceased and the injured. (Pioneer 25/11/14)

64. A complaint to NHRC blew the lid off multi-crore pension scam in Haryana (1)

New Delhi: It was a complaint moved before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) that blew the lid off a multi-crore age-old pension scam that has rocked Haryana. As many as 29,025 bogus beneficiaries have been found in just one district — Karnal — causing a loss of at least Rs 10 crore to the exchequer and indicating that the detection is merely a tip of the iceberg. As of now, the government is collecting details of irregularities in the scheme from other districts. Haryana CM Manohar Lal, while speaking in Vidhan Sabha , had said the state government was probing the scam, which may be worth more than Rs 100 crore. The bogus beneficiaries, all underage, allegedly forged their age on voter identity cards, a mandatory document for availing the pension. After the detection of the fraud, the state government has stopped the pension of all such beneficiaries and proceedings have been initiated for taking penal action against the accused. The complainant in the case is a Delhi-based Right to Information (RTI) activist, Rajhans Bansal, who lodged the complaint with the NHRC in March this year. “I relentlessly tried to apprise the previous Haryana government of the multi-crore scam, but they neither responded nor showed any willingness to probe the scam. Despite several RTI applications filed, I did not get a reply. Finally, I approached certain officials in NHRC, who asked me to file a complaint in this regard. They took cognizance and the probe was finally ordered by the state government on NHRC’s instructions”, Bansal told The Indian Express. “It is not only in Karnal, similar scams have taken place in many other districts of the state. Such fake beneficiaries can be found in districts of Mahendergarh, Rewari, Bhiwani, Rohtak, Panipat, Jhajjar and Hisar,” Bansal alleged. (Indian Express 27/11/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

65. 37 years on, Emergency-era law to go (19)

NEW DELHI: The law commission has submitted its fourth report to the government on Tuesday that recommends among others repeal of a special article introduced in the Constitution by late Indira Gandhi during Emergency in 1977. This act nullifies general procedure followed for disputing elections of an elected representative who becomes prime minister. Almost 37 years after the Emergency, the Narendra Modi government is all set to repeal the Disputed Elections (PM & Speaker) Act of 1977 which was brought in by late Indira Gandhi when Emergency proclamation was still in place. The special provision, inserted in the Constitution through Article 329A, was brought in to nullify the general procedure for disputing an election by presenting an election petition to the high court. This act provides that any other law will not apply where the elected representative goes on to become the Prime Minister or Speaker of the Lok Sabha. In such cases, this act would apply, and election petitions questioning their elections would be heard by a single judge of the Supreme Court, set up as a separate authority under this act. The decisions of the authority were final. Article 329A allowed this distinction to be made. Both the amendment and this law were created during the time the Emergency proclamation was still in place. Indira had brought in this law after her election from Rae Bareli as an MP in the 1971 Lok Sabha was set aside by the Allahabad high court. Raj Narain who had fought against Gandhi had challenged her election win accusing her of using “corrupt electoral practices.” On June 12, 1975 the Allahabad HC had upheld the accusations and disqualified Indira and barred her from contesting for next six years. This verdict had led to imposition of Emergency. Subsequently, when the Janata Party government came to power defeating the Congress in the 1977 general elections, this special provision was dropped. “Article 329A was subsequently removed through the 44th Amendment to the Constitution in 1978″.The law commission, which has recommended repeal of 30 obsolete laws in its fourth report, has said that “without Article 329A this law is unconstitutional since the Constitution does not allow a distinction to be made between the election disputes of different types of elected representatives. Hence the constitutionality of this act is suspect and should be repealed.” The law panel has also recommended repeal of the Illegal Migrants (determination by Tribunals) Act 1983. The act instituted procedures to determine whether persons suspected to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh did, in fact, fall under that category, and expel them from India. It was applicable only to the state of Assam (detection of foreigners in other states is done under The Foreigners Act, 1946). The act established tribunals for determining whether a person is an illegal migrant. The court, in Sarbananda Sonowal v. Union of India (2005) struck down the act and declared that the Foreigners Act and other related acts would operate in Assam instead. Since the act has been struck down by the Supreme Court and is not in use, it should be repealed, the law panel has recommended. The Chandigarh Disturbed Areas Act, 1983 has also been recommended for repeal. The act provided to make better provision for the suppression of disorder and for the restoration and maintenance of public order in disturbed areas in Chandigarh. In 2012, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Surinder Bhardwaj v. Union Territory of Chandigarh and Anr. (2013) removed the ‘disturbed area’ tag off the city of Chandigarh and it ceased implementation of the notification issued in 1983 during the days of terrorism in Punjab. “The Act does not serve any purpose now and hence, it should be repealed,” the law panel has said in its report. (Times of India 20/11/14)

66. False dowry charge ground for divorce, Supreme Court rules (19)

NEW DELHI: If a woman’s complaint accusing her husband and in-laws of cruelty under the dreaded Section 498A of Indian Penal Code turns out to be false, then the man is entitled to divorce, the Supreme Court has ruled. Allowing dissolution of marriage between K Srinivas and K Sunita, the court said, “We unequivocally find that the respondent-wife had filed a false criminal complaint, and even one such complaint is sufficient to constitute matrimonial cruelty. We accordingly dissolve the marriage of the parties.” After the wife left her matrimonial home on June 30, 1995, the husband filed a divorce suit on July 14, 1995 on the ground of cruelty as well as irretrievable breakdown of marriage. The wife retaliated by filing a criminal complaint against her husband and seven of his family members under various provisions of IPC and Dowry Prohibition Act. The husband and his family members were arrested and jailed. A Hyderabad court on June 30, 2000, acquitted the husband and his family members of the charges leveled against them by the wife. Another family court granted divorce to the husband on December 30, 1999 on grounds of cruelty as also irretrievable breakdown of marriage. But the HC, on the woman’s appeal, set aside the divorce decree. On the woman’s statement to police on the complaint lodged by her against her husband and his relatives, an apex court bench of justices Vikramjit Sen and PC Pant said, “This is clearly indicative of the fact that the criminal complaint was a contrived afterthought. We affirm the view of the HC that the criminal complaint was ‘ill advised’.” The judgment, authored by Justice Sen, added. “In these circumstances, the HC ought to have concluded that the wife knowingly and intentionally filed a false complaint, calculated to embarrass and incarcerate the husband and seven members of his family and that such conduct unquestionably constitutes cruelty as postulated under Section 13(1)(a) of the Hindu Marriage Act. In any event, both parties were fully aware of this facet of cruelty which was allegedly suffered by the husband.” There are reports of misuse of Section 498A of the Indian Penal Code by women to harass their husband and in-laws. (TOI illustration)  Though the court granted divorce, it did so on the ground of cruelty to husband and not on irretrievable breakdown of marriage, a ground which was coined by the apex court in K Srinivas Rao judgment last year. The court said the Law Commission of India in its reports in 1978 as well as in 2009 had recommended introduction of irretrievable breakdown of marriage as a ground for dissolution of marriage and the Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill of 2013 incorporating this ground had even received the assent of Rajya Sabha. “It is, however, highly debatable whether, in the Indian situation, where there is rampant oppression of women, such a ground would at all be expedient. But that controversy will be considered by the Lok Sabha,” the court said. (Times of India 24/11/14)

67. Madras HC bench orders notice on PIL for murder victims’ compensation (19)

Madurai: A PIL seeking compensation from the Government for those killed by hirelings was filed in the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court here on Monday. When the petition came up for hearing, a Division bench comprising Justice A Selvam and Justice V S Ravi ordered notice to the Principal Home Secretary returnable by December 4. Petitioner A Sadayandi, a PIL litigant, submitted that 19 innocent persons were murdered by hirelings in various districts, including Madurai and Virudhunagar, in the three years ending December 2013. But their families have not been compensated although it was the duty of the police to protect people. People had lost faith in the police administration as cases had been registered against both aggressors and the victims in many criminal cases, he said, adding, out of 7,586 cases registered in 23 districts in Tamil Nadu 5,413 had been registered both against the aggressors and the victims in the three year period. This was a violation of Police Standing Order which said both parties should not be charged. The cases against the victims of aggressors should be quashed and there should be periodical inspection about this factor. Another charge levelled against the police, according to the petitioner, was that they made compromise in cases where the complainant had made out a cognizable offence. The duty of the police was only to register case and not compromise. In nine districts, police had compromised 21,644 cases which was totally unfair practice, he contended. (Zee News 24/11/14)

68. Criminal justice system victimises poor and vulnerable: CJI (19)

New Delhi: The criminal justice system largely victimises the poor and vulnerable sections of society and there is an urgent need for reform on multiple fronts, Chief Justice of India HL Dattu said today as he called for the scrapping of laws which criminalise begging and sex work. “Not only does the criminal justice system largely victimise the poor and vulnerable sections of society, very often, laws themselves criminalise poverty and destitution,” Dattu said on the occasion of Law Day function on the Supreme Court lawns. “In India, laws criminalising beggary, sex work and certain occupations of the tribal community are often largely seen by the scholars and human rights activists as widening the net of criminality by punishing destitution. “Along with legal aid, there must be an intense process to redo the acts that are criminalised towards decriminalisation of acts that has a disproportionate impact on the poor,” he said at the function where Union Law Minister DV Sadananda Gowda, too, was present. On the issue of protection of women against sexual violence, Dattu said, “We seem to be having a growing affinity for ensuring physical safety of women by curbing their freedom. “As far as I am concerned, I would like to emphatically state in no uncertain terms that the security of women is not achieved by curbing their freedom and liberty and it is no security at all. We have to evolve some systematic reforms,” he said. The Law Minister, who spoke before the Chief Justice, dwelt upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious ‘Make in India’ project, saying that the country is being converted into a major global player through the creation of a business- friendly environment. Efforts should be undertaken to make India an international arbitration hub, he added. He said, “The government is pushing the concept of ‘Make in India’ and converting the country into a major global player, for which we need to have a business-friendly environment. (Zee News 26/11/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

69. KPS Gill bats for continuance of AFSPA in Kashmir (1)

NEW DELHI: As calls for removal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) gather steam following the recent sentencing of five army officers to life in a case of fake encounter in Jammu & Kashmir, former Punjab police chief KPS Gill on Saturday ferociously argued in favour of the act. Gill, who is credited with ending the Punjab militancy of the 1980s, said that the Act should not be removed from the valley as youngsters are getting attracted to ISIS. Gill, who has been a regular at VHP functions in the recent past, was speaking at the World Hindu Congress. Gill said: “In Jammu & Kashmir, there is a problem of terrorism and now some of the youngsters are getting influenced by ISIS.” The issue of removal of AFSPA from the valley, or certain parts of it, has been argued time and again by human rights activists and even J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah. In fact, one of Abdullah’s promises before the last assembly elections which he won was that he would get AFSPA removed from certain parts of the valley. The reason cited has been that militancy is at its lowest ebb in the valley for several years now and less and less local youths are picking up guns. However, Gill said the act does not give any impunity to army officers. “The army officers are charged if they do something wrong,” said Gill, referring to the recent conviction of five armed forces personnel. “I think there is a propaganda against AFSPA,” he added. Lambasting the state government for failing to ensure Kashmiri pandits’ return to the valley, Gill said: “What has happened in Kashmir is tragic. The resettlement should have taken place by now … the government of Kashmir is a shame if it can’t settle the pandits.” (Times of India 23/11/14)

70. Cases of custodial torture in rural stations (1)

Kozhikode: When the entire State Police Department boasts of upholding virtues of community policing, incidents of custodial tortures are slowly staging a coming back in the Kozhikode Rural police station limits. Within a short span of two weeks, two incidents have been reported from the rural police stations that have drawn wide public ire against the primitive method of policing. In recent incidents, the persons who were beaten up were found innocent and later allowed to go without any charges. In the first incident, the victim was the cleaner of a school bus who was held on the charge of sexually abusing a minor girl at a private English medium school in Nadapuram. The cruel story of lock-up torture came to light when a group of local people who came to know about the foul play of police to trap the youth staged a sit-in at Nadapuram and eventually freed him. Later, Muneer, the victimised youth, said the two civil police officers from the Nadapuram station attacked him cruelly to make him admit to the crime and recount the incident as they wanted him to in the court. He also told mediapersons that the police opted for primitive methods of tortures and threat against life to make him admit that he sexually assaulted the girl. Muneer was picked up though two senior students of the school were first identified as the accused. Later, the two were arrested, and strangely, even after their arrest, no disciplinary action was taken against the police officers who tortured Muneer. The negligence continued even after Muneer mentioned the names of the two officials who manhandled him. In the second incident, a youth hailing from Valayam was cruelly beaten up by the Vadakara police on the charge of stealing a mobile phone. Police attacked the youth following a complaint from a woman commuter that her phone was stolen by somebody during the travel. The youth was picked up, as he was using a similar phone and he travelled in the same bus as the woman. At the police station, V. Sunil Kumar, the victim, was forced to admit that he stole the phone. Though the man admitted the ‘crime’ after sometime to escape police torture, the foul play was exposed when his relatives produced the bill and other details obtained when he bought the phone. He was later admitted to a hospital with several injuries on his body. (The Hindu 24/11/14)

71. AFSPA withdrawal key to ending gender-based violence (1)

New Delhi: A national plan action, the withdrawal of the armed forced from conflict areas, revised curriculum in schools, eradication of manual scavenging and legal acceptance to same sex marriages are some of the recommendations of UN Women to end gender-based violence in India. Twenty-years ago, in 1995, the United Nations adopted the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) at the Fourth World Conference for Women. The agenda of BPfA was women’s empowerment and to ensure that women get equal opportunities to participate in all areas — social, economical, cultural and political decision-making. To mark its anniversary, the UN invited 171 activists and policy-makers, activists, academics and government officials from the country to in August draft recommendations for the faster implementation of the BPfA. Last week, Union Minister of Women and Child Development was in Bangkok to be a part of the Asian and Pacific Conference on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: Beijing+20 Review, organised by UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), where she stressed the need for gender equality to to be a sustained effort to be seen as “something more than a slogan”. The committee looked at sustainable development goals for women, the end of gender-based violence, strengthening women’s voice and agency and the development of women’s institutions and budget. The two-day event, held on 11th and 12th August, was attended by Asha Kowtal of All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, Jagmati Sangwan of All India Democratic Women’s Association, Suneeta Dhar of Jaagori, Ruth Manorama of National Alliance of Women, amongst others. The recommendations entail that the government must make efforts to recognise, reduce and redistribute women’s unpaid work and ensure that workplaces follow measures such as day care centres and maternity leaves, etc. In the field of education, the panel recommended inclusion of sexuality education. To ensure safe health, the panel recommended the prevention of sex-biased selection with strict implementation of the PC-PNDT Act, and end discriminations against sex workers and people who are HIV positive, disabled or belong to the LGBTQ community. The panel called for the immediate demilitarisation of the civilian spaces of Kashmir, Northeast India, Chhattisgarh and affected areas of Andhra and Odisha, and the withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 in operation in the North East and Kashmir. The panel also recommended the strengthening of the efforts to ensure the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill. And in the areas of media and communications, the panel called for the access to the internet and digital technologies to be seen as a basic right, and not a privilege of a few. (DNA 25/11/14)

72. Army finds 9 soldiers guilty of killing Kashmiri teenagers (1)

New Delhi: The Army has admitted that it was a case of mistaken identity.The Indian Army on Thursday found nine soldiers, including an officer, guilty of killing two Kashmiri teenagers when they opened fire on a car in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district earlier this month. The Army had admitted that it was a case of “mistaken identity” when they fired at the Maruti car the boys were driving. “There was some information about a white car with terrorists. Obviously, the identity was mistaken in this case. We take responsibility for the death,” Lt General D S Hooda of the Northern Army command had said on November 7. The two teenagers, identified as Faisal Yusuf Bhat and Mehrajuddin Dar, were killed on November 3 while two others – Shaker Bhat and Zahid Naqash – were injured when soldiers of 53 Rashtriya Rifles opened fire on the Maruti car they were travelling in at Chattergam village in Badgam district, 20 km from Srinagar. The Army had claimed that the driver of the car did not stop at a mobile vehicle check post after he was signalled to do so. An inquiry was later ordered into the killing. Clashes had also broken out between the locals and security personnel in Budgam over the killing of the two teenagers. The National Human Rights Commission had also issued a notice to the Defence Ministry and the Jammu and Kashmir police over the killing. (India Today 27/11/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

73. Congress condemns attack on media at Rampal’s ashram (1)

NEW DELHI: Congress on Tuesday condemned the attack on media personnel during a clash at godman Rampal’s ashram in Hisar in Haryana and sought an apology from chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar over the incident. “The attack on media at Sant Rampal’s ashram in Hisar today is unacceptable and extremely unfortunate. Reporters and cameramen have been brutally beaten up and injured by the police in mindless lathicharge,” AICC communication department chief Ajay Maken said. “This assault on media is a demonstration of the fact that Haryana government did not wish to be put under media scrutiny in handling the Hisar ashram crisis,” he added. Maken demanded an apology from the Haryana CM and an explanation how “such brutal action” was sanctioned. “This high handedness and brutal attitude of the BJP government in dealing with the media is only indicative of the threats that our democracy faces,” he said. While condemning “this attack on media”, he said the Congress stands in solidarity with mediapersons. Maken’s statement came after several persons, including security and media personnel, were injured as clashes erupted at the ashram of controversial godman Rampal in Barwala in Hisar. (Times of India 20/11/14)

74. NE scribes urge Naga body to lift ban on book (1)

GUWAHATI: A forum of journalists in the northeast has expressed concern over a ban by the apex body of the Ao tribe in Nagaland on a book written by a Dimapur-based journalist. It urged the tribal body to withdraw the ban. The Journalists’ Forum Assam (JFA) expressed concern over a ban on “Cogitating For a Better Deal”, a book by journalist and Nagaland Page editor Monalisa Changkija, imposed by the Ao Senden, the apex body of the Ao tribe in Nagaland. The tribal body said the book levels false allegations against it. Released Oct 25, the book, published by Heritage Publishing House in Dimapur, is a compilation of six seminar papers which the author presented at various national events. The conflict began after Changkija said the tribal body has “no mandate to arbitrate over intra and/or inter village disputes.” The leader of the Ao Senden said it can do so as the statutory apex body of the Ao tribe. This led to the conflict between the journalist and the Ao Senden. Changkija also belongs to the Ao tribe. (Times of India 23/11/14)

75. Nirmala Sitharaman slams media for objectifying women (1)

NEW DELHI: Union minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday lambasted the media for portraying women as a commodity and called for self-regulation. She said if the government steps in, it is called moral police. She also urged stakeholders to exercise freedom of choice with a certain sense of discretion. Emphsaizing that women’s empowerment had to begin with participation of women, Sitharaman said, “You are encouraging a certain theme, a certain narrative, story, picturization of women, where she’s made a commodity, where she is being projected as a doormat, and you are comfortably watching it, shedding tears … The moment government tries to come in, we will have equally n number of women saying ‘Oh, moral policing!’.” The commerce and industries minister was speaking at a session on women’s empowerment at the World Hindu Congress. Sitharaman hinted at the need to change the mindset of the viewers. “Let’s not pretend. There is an audience for this. I am not saying therefore it should go on. But if we are constantly telling the government what are you doing about it, I want to ask for a minute, what are we doing about those people who are watching it,” she asked. “The government will come in, but as long as we believe in the freedom of choice, I think it is for us much more than the government, to exert this freedom of choice with a certain sense of discretion and ‘Sanskaar’,” she added. Highlighting the role of women in mass movements like the Chipko Andolan and their participation in politics, she said, “There are enough examples to talk about how women have had a role in what I call politics which is not narrow to holding positions.” Asserting that Indian women have a significant role to play in nation-building, Sitharaman said women should start “documenting their achievements”. She said: “The women should start recording their achievements, not in a pompous way but document it, show it out.” Acknowledging that women have always contributed to every segment of their lives, society and country, Sitharaman said the documentation was necessary as “in the 21st century, some kind of narration is required”. She said modern women are multi-faceted and their participation in the country’s politics is significant. “Politics is like an open box which draws from all the streams, so let’s not make it into an exclusive business. Women are there and should continue to be there,” she said adding that women should “be assertive and engage with everybody”.Former IPS officer and activist Kiran Bedi too supported the idea and suggested that the contribution of women in India’s history be included in the school syllabus. “Let’s document the contribution of women in India’s history. Not for adults but for the youth. It should be a student edition for the age group of 13 to 16. It can be included in the school syllabus,” Bedi said. She said the dream of a developed India could only be realised if the country’s women are literate. “We need to focus on making the women sakshar (educated) and saksham (capable),” she said. (Times of India 24/11/14)

76. Attack on journalists at Hisar, SC to hear plea on Monday (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear on Monday a petition filed by a group of journalists seeking a direction to the Centre and Haryana for ordering a judicial probe into alleged assault on them and other media persons during a police operation to arrest ‘godman’ Rampal in Hisar. “List it on Monday,” a bench comprising Chief Justice HL Dattu and justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri said. The court’s order came as soon as senior advocate Rajeev Dhawan, appearing for journalists, started his argument saying the matter pertained to assault on media persons in Haryana recently. The plea filed by a group of media persons has sought punishment for “erring police officials” for resorting to lathi charge “without caution and care”.It has also alleged there was an increasing tendency to “muzzle the press” by government authorities and sought “appropriate compensation” for affected journalists and framing of guidelines to ensure “free and fair functioning of the media”.”The petitioners, who are media persons being victims and aggrieved to the unprovoked lathi charge on them in Hisar, during the stand-off between police and supporters of Rampal, are filing the present writ petition to seek justice for violation of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution and freedom of press which means absence of interference by the State with the media, except in so far as it is authorised by the Constitution and by enactments which are constitutionally valid,” the plea said. Besides the incident at Hisar, it also referred to various recent incidents in which media persons have been attacked. “It is surprising that, despite proper approval from their channels and local authority the journalists were targeted by police from behind and subjected to the unprovoked attack suddenly near Satlok Ashram near Barwala town of Haryana while they were covering the violent clash between sect followers and security forces…,” it said, adding a superior police officer first allowed them to go near the site and later resorted to ‘lathi charge’. (Times of India 26/11/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

77. Gujarat government took all necessary steps to control riots: Nanavati (7)

Ahmedabad: The 2002 post-Godhra riots were “purely communal” in nature and erupted specifically as a reaction to the Sabarmati train burning incident. The Gujarat government and the police took all necessary steps to control the incidents, Justice (retd.) G.T. Nanavati, Chairman of the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry, told The Hindu in an interview on Wednesday. “Whatever steps are required to be taken, we found that they were taken,” Mr. Nanavati said when asked if the State and the police had responded in an appropriate manner during the riots. On whether the Commission had given a clean chit to Mr. Modi, Mr. Nanavati refused to divulge the contents of the report. “That is a matter of the contents of the report and I would not like to disclose it at this stage. But I can only say that we have considered everything. At this stage, I cannot say if the report indicts Mr. Modi or not.” In an indication that the Commission did not find any merit in the allegations against Mr. Modi, Mr. Nanavati said the panel saw “no justification” for calling him. Asked why the panel had not summoned Mr. Modi even as a point of inquiry, he said: “What inquiry. If there are nine allegations against you and if I find that almost eight allegations are false and there is only some substance in one allegation, should I call you to appear before the Commission personally, if I can get answers in some other manner?” Commenting on Mr. Modi’s role, he said, “Naturally, ultimately riots are initially required to be controlled by the police. So, obviously the police will be involved. The State being ultimately responsible for law and order, the State’s role is also to be considered. So, we have to consider the role of the police force, the bureaucrats and also the top persons… We examined whether there was negligence, connivance, abetment.” Asked whether the panel saw the riots as spontaneous, Mr. Nanavati said: “It is a matter of inference and we have drawn the appropriate inference. The communal riots obviously happened because of the Godhra incident … had the Godhra incident not happened, the riots would not have happened.” The Commission Chairman remained non-committal on whether the riots were heinous or brutal. “I don’t know what you mean by one of the most heinous incidents, because I am not aware of all the incidents everywhere. ” (The Hindu 20/11/14)

78. Riot rate dipped in 2014, Rijiju tells Parliament (7)

NEW DELHI: Incidents of communal violence have declined to 561 between January and October this year from 694 and 668 in the corresponding period of 2013 and 2012. Interestingly, the number of those killed in communal riots dipped from 143 (tentative figure cited in reply to a Lok Sabha question dated December 10, 2013) until October last year to 90 over the same period this year. The corresponding figure for 2012 was 94 deaths. Similarly, the number of those injured until October this year stood at 1,688, as compared to 1,978 (as per the data placed in Parliament on December 10 last year) and 2,117 during the corresponding period of 2013 and 2012 respectively. Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju, while replying to a Rajya Sabha question on Wednesday seeking details of communal incidents in the current year, attributed the 561 incidents, 90 deaths and 1,688 injuries until October 31 this year to “religious factors, gender-related issues, land and property disputes and other miscellaneous issues”.The higher casualty on account of communal riots during 2013 may be attributed to the violent clashes that broke out in Muzaffarnagar in August-September. Uttar Pradesh reported the highest levels of communal violence at nearly 250 incidents, 95 deaths and 313 injured (tentative figures as per December 10, 2013 data). (Times of India 27/11/14)

COMMUNALISM

79. Resolution moved in Bengal Assembly on attempts to create communal disturbance (26)

Kolkata: Trinamool Congress, Left parties and Congress on Thursday moved a resolution in the West Bengal Assembly expressing concern over attempts made by communal forces to create disturbances in the state. Participating in a discussion on the resolution under Rule 185, Minister for Urban Development Firhad Hakim wondered why Muslims as a group were being called terrorists. “Not all Muslims are terrorists. There has been a growing tendency to dub Muslims as terrorists,” he observed. He blamed a particular party aided by a media company for the character assassination and observed that culture and traditions of West Bengal cannot be destroyed. “It is a land of Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam. Hindus and Muslims are two flowers,” he said. Apparently referring to the terror modules sneaking into Bengal, he said the central agencies had failed to police the border properly, but was passing the buck on the state government. With the BJP attacking the state government over the Burdwan blast, Hakim said the Modi government had failed to prevent infiltration across the international border. “Where is the vigil across the border? What the BSF is doing?” he asked and added “Why the state would be blamed for the failure of the Centre to do its job properly” in checking the infiltration from across the border. The resolution was moved by West Bengal education minister Partha Chatterjee, Leader of Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra of the CPI(M), Gyan Singh Sohan Pal of Congress and some other TMC, Left and Congress members. The resolution said that there was attempt to disturb communal amity and peace by communal forces and noted with concern that there were attempts to communalise the issue following reports of arms training camps in some parts of the state.  (Zee News 20/11/14)

80. Progressive’ Hindu pontiffs and Hindu Right tussle over anti-superstition Bill (26)

Bengaluru: A new dimension has been added with the entry of 208 Hindu seers, called Progressive Pontiffs Forum, who were recently on hunger strike demanding the passage of the bill, which seeks to ban practices such as Madey Snana, where people from lower castes roll over food leftover by Brahmins believing that their saliva has medicinal properties. Siddaramaiah grabbed the opportunity to revive the bill, which had been gathering dust since November last year, by promising the progressive seers that he will push for the bill in the next cabinet meeting. While Siddaramaiah’s enthusiasm to ban superstitious practices has opponents within his own party such as party president G Parameshwara, a major legal hurdle has also cropped up. Earlier this week, the Karnataka High Court passed an interim order allowing the Madey Snana practice to be held at the State run Kukke Subrahmanya temple near Mangaluru. As a result of the court’s order, the anti-superstition bill cannot be tabled in the upcoming winter session of the Karnataka assembly. “The anti-superstition bill also seeks to ban Madey Snana. Attempting to pass it now (in the light of the court order) will create a conflict between the judiciary and the legislature,” Law Minister T B Jayachandra told HT. Jayachandra said that the only way for the State government is to go on appeal before the Supreme Court. However, sources close to Siddaramaiah revealed that he is keen to push for the bill notwithstanding the HC order. Meanwhile, Bajrang Dal State president Sharan Pumpwell told HT that leaders of various Sangh outfits held an emergency meeting on Wednesday where it was decided to hold State-wide demonstrations against the Bill. Describing the Progressive Pontiffs Forum, as a “group of fake swamis”, Pumpwell said, “Will the government ban superstitious practices among Muslims such as circumcision and the violent Muharram processions?” The bill, which was drafted by the National Law School University of India (NLSUI), seeks to contain practices such as human sacrifice, magical cures for diseases in addition to Madey Snana. (Hindustan Times 22/11/14)

81. No ‘Father’, Bastar Catholic schools will have Maa Saraswati (26)

Raipur: Under intense pressure from the VHP, the Catholic missionaries of Bastar have agreed that principals in their schools, normally referred to as “Father”, would now be addressed as “Pracharya”, or “Up-pracharya”, or “Sir”. The missionaries have also agreed to put up photographs of “Maa Saraswati” and “great personalities who have worked for national interest” in their educational institutions. A statement saying the missionaries agreed to the above was issued following a meeting between the VHP and the missionaries in Jagdalpur in Bastar on Sunday. It was signed jointly by Bastar district VHP president Suresh Yadav and the spokesperson of the Bastar Catholic Community, Abraham Kannampala. The Catholics run 22 schools in the tribal district of Bastar, spread over an area bigger than Kerala. As per the joint statement, “notice boards and assemblies of all Catholic educational institutions of Bastar” should specify that instead of “Father”, principals be addressed as Pracharya or Up-Pracharya or Sir. The statement added, “The Catholic community expresses regret if any community, religion or society was hurt by our community.” While the VHP has been targeting missionaries for long over issues in Bastar, and “Ghar Vapasi” programmes have been undertaken in interior villages to reconvert neo-Christians, the recent controversy began a few days ago when, during an address in Bastar, the Bishop of Jagdalpur church said a missionary school should be established with every church in the region. The VHP immediately dispatched a letter to the Bastar Commissioner, with copies to Chief Minister Raman Singh and the Governor, saying “the address aimed to promote communalism and narrow-mindedness”. The letter also alleged instances when “Chirsitian missionaries put non-democratic pressure on Hindu society and administration on the pretext of education”. The VHP demanded that “Father be immediately replaced by Pracharya or Guruji” and statues of “Maa Saraswati be installed”. In Sunday’s statement, the missionaries clarified that “they have no intention” to follow the suggestion given by the Bishop. Asserting that the statement “upholds the sentiments of Hindu students and community,” VHP leader Suresh Yadav justified the demand that principals not be called Father, saying they had been seeking it for long. “We asked these missionaries what was the meaning of father? Father means pita. We have only one father, how can we address a teacher as father? They said that their Bible says so, and that they consider God father. We asked them that Bible is a religious book, why do they bring it to educational institutions?” he said. “In other English-medium schools, no one uses Father for teacher. Why only here? Addressing a teacher as father puts emotional pressure on students and their parents,” he added. Yadav said there was no contradiction in calling Saraswati “Maa”, though. “Maa and behenji are words of respect. We address older women as mataji, younger women as behenji. Matayen aur behanen, we say before any address. But we never address an old man as pita.” The spokesperson for the Bastar Catholic Community said they didn’t intend to hurt anyone. “We never pressure anyone to say Father. We also agreed to installing statues of Saraswati and noted personalities. (Indian Express 24/11/4)

82. Create new education model acceptable to all, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says (26)

NAGPUR: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat told intellectuals, educationists and academicians to come out with a new indigenous model of education that would be universal in its appeal and produce better human beings. “No one is happy with the education system. Globally, there is a view that the way we teach and learn needs drastic changes. They are all looking towards India to provide a new direction because, in ancient times, India was the greatest centre of learning. We held leadership position for centuries and now have to regain it,” said Bhagwat. He was addressing a gathering of over 250 academicians, including eight vice-chancellors, professors and educationists who are here to deliberate on theme of ‘Nationalist Education: Concept and Structure,’ organized at the Reshimbagh facility of the RSS. The opening session of the two-day conference that began on Tuesday was addressed by senior Sangh functionary Suresh Soni. Ahmadabad-based Punarotthan Vidyapeeth ( Revival University) headed by Sangh activist Indumati Katdare is the organizer of the meet. The objective is to work out a consensus on an indigenous education system based totally on ancient Indian values and knowledge base. Govind Prabhu of ISKCON presided over the function. “The change is much-needed and even cause of worry because education shapes the next generation and impacts whole of humanity. Several thinkers with varying ideological affinities are at work. So we have a huge responsibility, more so with the whole world hoping that India would show the path to better learning for peaceful and contended life,” said the RSS chief. “Any such endeavour should be all-encompassing, broad and universal in scope. The Vidyapeeth should widen its consultations drawing from all thinking classes and sections to evolve a system that is acceptable to even critics of Sangh Parivar,” said Bhagwat. He said the process should be more of a social movement and not a constricted view. “First fix your goals, summon the requisite determination to pursue it. But then also ensure that the new model is practicable. The process should also involve a lot of unlearning and decolonization of mindsets,” he told the stakeholders. The Sarsanghchalak also made it clear that the new model should take a holistic view and revamp the education system. “Make it worth it so that we don’t have to go to others seeking patronage but make others to come to us to adopt this model,” he said implying that the non-government process was not to be thrust on governments but to be offered as a superior model that would be lapped up by all those fervently seeking a better model. (Times of India 26/11/14)

TERRORISM

83. Delhi, Dhaka exchange lists of fugitives (12)

DHAKA: Intelligence agencies in Bangladesh and India have exchanged lists of suspected fugitives believed to be hiding in each other’s countries to evade trials. The visiting team of India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) has handed over a list of 11 “top Indian terrorists” to Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), including suspects in the Bardhaman blast case. The RAB has given a list of 51 suspected criminals, including 10 militants, who are purportedly holed up in India. The lists were given at a high-level meeting at the RAB headquarters here on Tuesday. NIA Director-General Sharad Kumar and RAB Director-General Mokhlesur Rahman led the respective teams. Both agencies also shared images and other details of the suspected militants. The Bangladesh list includes the names of Sunny and Boma Mizan, who are among the top three Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) members snatched by a group of armed men from a prison van on a highway in February this year. NIA officials believe that bomb-making expert Boma Mizan is training young JMB militants in explosives-manufacturing in West Bengal. The NIA team’s visit to Dhaka was aimed at investigating the jihadi networks following the October 2 blast at a house in West Bengal’s Bardhaman. The house had been turned into a factory for making Improvised Explosive Devices by JMB militants, the investigators claimed. Two suspected militants died in the explosion and their wives, believed also to have been trained by the banned outfit, were apprehended. (The Hindu 20/11/14)

84. Burdwan blast kingpin’s wife held in Bangla (12)

DHAKA, Nov 23 – In a prize catch, the wife of the Burdwan blast prime accused and the chief of the women’s wing of the banned JMB militant group was arrested today in Bangladesh along with three others, reports PTI. Fatema Begum, who confessed to training at least 25 women militants in India, is said to be the wife of Sajid, the Burdwan blast prime accused, said Masudur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP). She was the women’s wing chief of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, Rahman said. Sajid is the prime accused in the October 2 blast at Burdwan in West Bengal that left two people dead. “She was held along with three of her associates from Dhaka’s Sadarghat along with explosives, bomb-making materials and jihadi books,” Rahman was quoted as saying by The Daily Star. The four-member team of officials of the NIA that visited Dhaka last week to probe the Burdwan blast plot had provided some names and up to 15 mobile phone numbers to their counterparts here to help them in cracking the case. During initial interrogation, Begum is said to have confessed she trained at least 25 women, including five Bangladeshis, in Shimulia area of Kolkata, Islam said. Begum was a training coordinator of JMB and she was with Sajid, the political chief of the militant group, during the Burdwan blast, Islam added. (The Assam Tribune 24/11/14)

85. ISIS earned $45m in ransom, says UN (12)

The ISIS group which controls a large swath of Syria and Iraq has received between $35 million and $45 million in ransom payments in the past year, a UN expert monitoring sanctions against Al Qaeda said Monday. Yotsna Lalji told a meeting of the UN Security Council’s counter-terrorism committee that an estimated $120 million in ransom was paid to terrorist groups between 2004 and 2012. Kidnapping for ransom “continues to grow,” she said, as demonstrated by the money the extremist group calling itself the ISIS has collected, between $35 million and $45 million in the past years. She said in recent years that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have made kidnapping “the core Al Qaeda tactic for generating revenue.” She pointed to an October 2012 recording in which Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri incites militants worldwide to kidnap Westerners. Ms Lalji said Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which operates from Yemen, received $20 million in ransom between 2011 and 2013, and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which operates in North Africa, received $75 million over the past four years. She said the Al Qaeda-linked extremist groups Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al-Shabab in Somalia also “have collected millions of dollars over the past years,” and the Abu Sayyaf militant group in the Philippines has received about $1.5 million in ransom. According to the Al Qaeda sanctions committee, although the media focuses on international hostages who have generated the largest ransom payments, the vast majority of victims are nationals kidnapped within their own country. Ms Lalji said terrorist groups either carry out kidnappings themselves or in the case of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula they work with tribesmen in Yemen who deliver hostages for a fee. Last week, President Barack Obama ordered a review of how the United States responds when its citizens are taken hostage overseas in light of the beheadings of Americans by ISIS militants, but it will not include changing the longstanding US policy of refusing to pay ransom. (Asian Age 26/11/14)

86. Ulfa Plotting Terror Attacks: Assam Police (12)

GUWAHATI: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit here on November 29, the Assam Police on Wednesday claimed that the outlawed United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) was planning to trigger blasts in the city. “We received inputs that two youth with tribal features and possibly from the Ulfa have sneaked into the city and are planning to plant explosives on city buses. We appeal to people to contact us immediately if they come across any suspicious objects,” Senior SSP (Kamrup) A P Tiwary told reporters here on Wednesday. “Efforts are on to nab them. We have also sounded an alert,” he added. The police carried out raids in the hills surrounding the state capital on Tuesday, in order to track down the suspected militants. On November 29, the Home Minister would  inaugurate a conference of the DGPs and IGPs, while Prime Minister Modi would address the conclave the following day. During his two-day visit, the Prime Minister is also scheduled to flag off the first train from Meghalaya, lay the foundation stone of the Bharibi-Sairang railway track, and address a meeting of party workers here, among other things. (New Indian Express 27/11/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

87. Naxals, police in verbal war over Gopi’s surrender (12)

NAGPUR: The cadres of the banned outfit of Communist party of India (Maoist) and police machineries have locked horns through a pitched propaganda battle over the surrender of senior red cadre Nirangsai Madavi, alias Gopi, last week. In the period when guns have not fired, both camps have kept the flames alive through claims and counter-claims. Anti-Naxal Operation’s (ANO) publicity wing, which is part of the state’s information and mass communication department, was quick to issue a press communication following Gopi’s surrender stating that the Korchi-Kurkheda’s former area committee secretary had decided to leave the movement due to intense internal squabbling and dissent among the cadres. North Gadchiroli-Gondia division’s secretary Baburao Togha has now interpreted Gopi’s surrender, through a counter press release which is in possession of TOI, as a compromise with one’s self-esteem and betrayal of the oppressed masses for whom once he worked. The reds have claimed that Gopi’s worth in the party had come to end due to indiscipline but police had declared a reward of few lakhs on a spent force of the movement to highlight their own achievement. The Naxals have now appealed to the people of Gadchiroli district to criticize the spineless surrender of Gopi. A week ago, the ANO press release had claimed that Gopi had lost the faith and confidence of his seniors. The party bosses were also upset over Gopi’s relationship with Shamco, alias Shanta Korcha, who was killed in a police encounter. Already married, Gopi had developed an illicit relation with Shanta while participating in dalam movements. The police’s press note had details of the Gopi’s agony in the party as the seniors started strongly objecting to his romantic liaison. The note also stated that the Central committee member and former secretary of Maharashtra state committee Milind Teltumbde had assigned the then commander of Gadchiroli-Gondia division Pahad Singh, alias Kumarsai Katlami, to keep a watch on Gopi. This was mentioned in a letter dated June 28, 2013 which was seized during an operation. The Naxals have now claimed that Gopi, elevated to higher post in 2011 as area committee secretary for Korchi-Kurkheda, had lost focus and also place in the party due to indiscipline. He had also started conducting activities revolving around his vested interests deviating from party agenda and path of revolution. Gopi ignored party’s repeated alerts to him to remain away from indiscipline. A senior official stated that the Naxals are getting it back in the propaganda war from the security forces. “The Naxal and police are now almost at par in propaganda war too as government has realized that the movement needs to be tackled at psychological levels too,” said the official. (Times of India 21/11/14)

88. Maoist-hit areas to get 78 communication towers (2)

VARANASI: Problems like weak signals and unavailability of cellular mobile phone services in remote jungles of Maoist-affected districts of east UP will end soon as the Union home ministry has paved way for installation of 78 new communication towers. Work on the project will start from December. IG Varanasi zone Amarendra Kumar Sengar said on Monday that all basic formalities for installation of mobile towers have been completed and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited will start work from December. It is expected to be completed by March 2015. “The installation of new towers will help in maintaining communication with operational forces,” he said. After facing menace of Maoist groups in Sonebhadra, Chandauli and Mirzapur since mid-90s, police started evolving strategies to put an end to it. But efforts for developing infrastructures like road started after 2004. Even after development of good network of roads in difficult terrains of these three districts, the police and paramilitary forces faced problem in maintaining communication with the teams moving in the remote zones. The police and paramilitary forces identified areas, where mobile signals were either unavailable or weak. These spots were declared as ‘shadow areas’. A proposal was sent to Union ministry of home affairs to set up communication towers. The officials said that many other ministries and departments, including forest and communication had to give clearance. The technicalities of inter-departmental coordination lingered the issue for years. Later, the proposal of installing 78 towers, including 66 in Sonebhadra and six each in Chandauli and Mirzapur, was considered. Before giving final approval to this proposal, the government also sought details of the sites of installation to know whether these would remain safe or could be damaged by Maoist ultras. Sengar said that the site of 20 towers was shifted in safer zones. He informed that 71 towers had already been procured by the BSNL and work is expected to start from December. (Times of India 25/11/14)

89. 472 Naxals surrendered this year, highest in 3 years: Govt (12)

New Delhi: A total 472 Naxals have surrendered to security forces in Maoist-affected states so far this year, highest in last three years. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju today told Lok Sabha that of the 472 Maoists who surrendered till October 2014, 247 laid down arms in Chhattisgarh, 80 in Odisha, 76 in Andhra Pradesh, 30 in Maharashtra, 17 in Jharkhand and 15 in Telangana. The total number of Naxals who surrendered in 2013 was 283, 445 in 2012 and 394 in 2011. Rijiju said to bring left-wing extremists (LWEs) into the mainstream, the state governments have their own surrender and rehabilitation policies. The central government reimburses the expenditure incurred by the state governments for rehabilitation of surrendered LWEs in terms of its own policy in this regard. It has revised the guidelines for the scheme in the affected states with effect from April 1, 2013. The rehabilitation package in the revised policy includes an immediate grant of Rs 2.5 lakh for high-ranked LWE cadre and Rs 1.5 lakh for middle/lower-ranked cadres who surrender before the state government concerned. The cadres are provided a monthly stipend of Rs 4,000 for a period of three years for vocational training, Rijiju said. (Zee News 26/11/14)

TRAFFICKING

90. 20 children missing in New Delhi every day, says police (1)

New Delhi: According to the Delhi Police, on an average nearly 20 children go missing from the national capital on a daily basis, linking the disappeared kids to the human trafficking mafia. “It is shocking that such a large number of children are being lost daily in the national capital itself. Where do they go? It’s a big concern,” said Delhi Police Joint Commissioner (Traffic) Anil Shukla, speaking at an international conference entitled ‘Emerging challenges in an urbanising India’ here. Shukla further linked the missing of children to the human trafficking mafia and added that human trafficking has become a very serious issue. Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Jharkhand Additional Director General of Police Satya Narayan Pradhan also agreed with Shukla, pointing out that his state is a big victim of this mafia. “Jharkhand is a great victim to human trafficking. The mafia has a great hand in this, having trafficked lakhs of women, mainly tribal, in the guise of domestic helps by the so-called placement agencies,” he said. Pradhan further said even some highly influential politicians are part of the mafia, pointing out that his team had recently arrested even a state minister. (New Kerala 20/11/14)

91. Child trafficking: Delhi cops not cooperating in raids (1)

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police team, which is in New Delhi to crackdown on trafficking racket, has accused Delhi police of not cooperating with further investigation to find the main accused involved in trafficking of children. State police, in a series of raids, had busted a racket on Wednesday arresting four accused and rescued ten children including girls in Delhi. According to police officials, Delhi police barred Chhattisgarh police team when it wanted to raid the house of Guddu- the kingpin of trafficking, who is at large. “Guddu’s house is located in Delhi’s Subhash Nagar police jurisdiction. But when the SHO Ram Mehar was contacted for cooperation in raiding the house, he denied saying that police from other state couldn’t do such investigation and in case they violated rules, he would take action against them,” an official on condition of anonymity said. The official added that the team was asked to take permission from sub-divisional magistrate for conducting raids. In its investigation, TOI found that police teams from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam were trying to reach Subhash Nagar in search of Guddu who was the main accused for trafficking of over 10,000 children. But Subhash Nagar police weren’t co-operating. According to Ravi Kant, a supreme court lawyer, “Any investigating officer asking support from inter state police at their jurisdiction cannot be denied assistance. Any resistance should be strictly taken into consideration by ministry of home affairs.” (Times of India 22/11/14)

92. China seizes 31 trafficking suspects holding Myanmar women (1)

Chinese authorities in the northern region of Inner Mongolia arrested 31 people on suspicion of trafficking women because they had held 14 people, 11 of them from Myanmar, state media said on Monday. Five of the non-Chinese victims were younger than 18 and were handed to Myanmar police after a three-month investigation into the gang, which ensnared the women by offering them tours and jobs, the official Xinhua news agency said. The victims were then sold as wives in rural China for as little as 50,000 yuan ($8,142) China`s gender imbalance, the result of its one-child policy and illicit abortion of girl babies because of a traditional preference for boys, has led to a huge surplus of single men. The latest census showed 118 newborn males for every 100 females. In September, state media reported that Chinese police would clamp down on websites that sell group tours to enable men to meet “foreign brides” in Southeast Asian countries, as the practice leads to human trafficking and prostitution. Last year, a U.S. State Department report cited Russia and China as being among the world`s worst offenders in fighting forced labor and sex trafficking. (Zee News 24/11/14)

93. Trafficking in children on the rise, says new UN report (1)

New York, Nov 25 (IBNS) One in three known victims of human trafficking is a child, and girls and women are particularly targeted and forced into “modern slavery,” according to the 2014 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, released on Monday by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna. Unfortunately, the report shows there is no place in the world where children, women and men are safe from human trafficking, said UNODC Executive Director, Yury Fedotov. Official data reported to UNODC by national authorities represent only what has been detected. It is very clear that the scale of modern-day slavery is far worse, he added. The situation is particularly bad for girls and women. According to the report report, girls make up 2 out of every 3 child victi And together with women, they account for 70 per cent of overall trafficking victims worldwide. In some regions such as Africa and the Middle East child trafficking is a major concern, with children constituting 62 per cent of victi Trafficking for forced labour including in the manufacturing and construction sectors, domestic work and textile production has also increased steadily in the past five years. About 35 per cent of the detected victims of trafficking for forced labour are female. However, no country is immune there are at least 152 countries of origin and 124 countries of destination affected by trafficking in persons, and over 510 trafficking flows criss-crossing the world. This needs to change, Fedotov stressed. Every country needs to adopt the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the protocol and commit themselves to the full implementation of their provisions, he added. Often times, however, trafficking mostly occurs within national borders or within the same region, with transcontinental trafficking mainly affecting rich countries. Even if most countries criminalize trafficking, many people live in countries with laws which are not in compliance with international standards that would afford them full protection, such as the Trafficking in Persons Protocol. Fedotov said. There are, however, regional variations as to why people are trafficked in the first place. For example, victims in Europe and Central Asia are mostly trafficked for sexual exploitation, whereas in East Asia and the Pacific forced labour drives the market. In the Americas, the two types are detected in almost equal measure. The report found that most trafficking flows are interregional, and more than 6 out of 10 victims have been trafficked across at least one national border. The vast majority of convicted traffickers 72 per cent are male and citizens of the country in which they operate. The report also highlighted that impunity remains a serious problem: 40 per cent of countries recorded few or no convictions, and over the past 10 years there has been no discernible increase in the global criminal justice response to this crime, leaving a significant portion of the population vulnerable to offenders. (Sify News 25/11/14)

CORRUPTION

94. Govt to amend Lokpal selection process (5)

NEW DELHI: Union Law Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda on Wednesday confirmed the government’s decision to amend the provisions of the Lokpal Act and the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act to do away with the requirement of quorum in the high-profile committees to select the anti-corruption ombudsman and the CBI Director, respectively. The inclusion of a clause in the statutory provisions dealing with the selection panels would provide a legal safeguard against any challenges on the validity of an appointment. Mr. Gowda said necessary amendments would also be made in the statutes to include the leader of the single largest group in the Opposition as a member of the selection committee in the absence of a recognised Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha. This would bring these statutes in line with the Central Vigilance Act, 2003 and Right to Information Act, 2005. On the ratification process of the National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, the Minister said he has written to Chief Ministers to ratify the Bill at the earliest. At least 15 States have to ratify the Bill for it to be made law. Noting that three States have so far ratified the Bill, he referred to reports in the media that the Gujarat Assembly has also followed suit. Dismissing apprehensions that the Bill threatens judicial independence, he said, “We have the highest regard for the independence of the judiciary.” Mr Gowda said the government was considering a proposal to increase the retirement age of high court judges from 62 to 65, and also increase the number of high court judges from the present strength of 925 to 1,112. The Minister said a National Litigation Policy is being framed and inputs have been sought from various Ministries to reduce the backlog in the courts. He emphasised that alternative dispute redressal mechanisms like arbitration and conciliation should be used more often to resolve disputes arising within government departments and bodies. (The Hindu 20/11/14)

95. Don’t presume you have got clean chit, SC tells Srinivasan (5)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court rapped suspended BCCI chief N Srinivasan on Monday over conflict of interest for owning an IPL team while remaining at the helm of the cricket establishment and warned the sports body against “killing the game”. The court’s stinging observations come as a blow for Srinivasan who is seeking reinstatement as India’s top cricket administrator after a probe panel said he was “not involved with match fixing activity” and “not found to be involved in scuttling the investigations into match fixing”. “You (Srinivasan) are only assuming that you have been given a clean chit. Don’t go by the Mudgal panel conclusion alone. The question is whether you should at all be serving the BCCI,” the bench of justices TS Thakur and FMI Kalifullah said. “Conflict of interest is a serious issue. IPL seems to be a mutually cooperative benefit society between BCCI and IPL teams.” The top court had asked Srinivasan to step aside from his position till the justice Mukul Mudgal panel completed its probe into the match-fixing and betting scandal during the Indian Premier League cricket carnival’s sixth edition. Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan, identified by the inquiry committee as a team principal for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) franchise, is accused of betting on IPL games. CSK, led by India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is owned by the India Cements company of which Srinivasan is the managing director and has won the seven-year-old IPL tournament twice. The court’s comments came after it perused the replies filed by Srinivasan, IPL chief operating officer Sundar Raman, Meiyappan and co-owner of the Rajasthan Royals franchise Raj Kundra – all indicted by the Mudgal panel. The hearing will resume on Tuesday. The league has been mired in controversy since May last year when fast bowler S Sreesanth and two of his teammates from the Rajasthan Royals were arrested by Delhi Police on charges of spot fixing, or influencing the outcomes of parts of a match in exchange for money. Srinivasan, currently the chairman of the International Cricket Council (ICC), had called Meiyappan a “cricket enthusiast” who was not a stakeholder in the team. The panel said Srinivasan and other IPL officials were involved in a “cover up” of misdeeds of an unnamed player who violated the players’ code of conduct. Moments after the Supreme Court’s observations, former IPL chairman Lalit Modi who was banned for life by the BCCI in September last year, called for both Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals to be banned. “CSK and RR must be cancelled. If owners indulge in betting activity the rule book must be thrown at them. Raman should be locked up too,” he tweeted. The BCCI argued in the top court that the body had its own rules and any future action should be taken by it. It also defended Srinivasan, contending that the cricketer – referred to as individual number three in the report– committed a wrong not related to the IPL The court appeared disinclined to grant the cricket body’s request. “You yourself need to be above suspicion, which you are not. If you allow these things to happen, then you are killing the game of cricket,” the judges said. “What promotes the game is that it is played in true spirit of gentleman’s game.” (Hindustan Times 24/11/14)

96. Coal scam: Was not permitted to examine Manmohan, CBI tells court (5)

New Delhi: A special court here dealing with the coal block allocation cases on Tuesday asked the Central Bureau of Investigation why former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was not questioned as a prosecution witness in a case involving erstwhile Coal Secretary P.C. Parakh and Adiyta Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla. Dr. Singh was then in charge of the Coal Ministry. Special Judge Bharat Parashar questioned the investigating officer who submitted that “though initially his [PM] examination was found necessary, later on, the investigating agency found it was not required.” The officer said that though he had examined certain officers of the Prime Minister’s Office, the then Coal Minister was not questioned. He said the accused were questioned, but their statements were kept only in the case diary and the crime file. Later, Mr. Parashar asked the investigating officer to produce the “case diary and the crime file.” The case will now come up for hearing on November 27. The CBI had earlier sought closure of the case. However, when the Special Judge pulled it up for filing a patchy probe report, it filed a revised one and took a U-turn, stating that “there is prima facie enough material on record” to prosecute Mr. Parakh and Mr. Birla. The case pertains to the allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco, owned by the Aditya Birla Group, allegedly in violation of rules. The CBI last year lodged an FIR against Mr. Parakh, Mr. Birla and others, alleging that Mr. Parakh had reversed his earlier decision not to allocate coal blocks to Hindalco and shown undue favour to it. (The Hindu 25/11/14)

97. Bhushan files complaint against CBI chief Sinha (5)

NEW DELHI: Aam Aadmi Party leader and noted activist Prashant Bhushan has filed a complaint with the Delhi Government’s Anti-Corruption Branch accusing the Central Bureau of Investigation director Ranjit Sinha of criminal misconduct and abusing his office. Highlighting that several accused in cases pertaining to corruption had met Mr. Sinha at his residence several times, without any of the investigation officers present, Mr. Bhushan alleged that the CBI director deliberately tried to save certain influential persons from prosecution in the 2G and coal scam. “He has abused his position as the CBI director,” said Mr. Bhushan, who submitted the complaint on Tuesday. He added that Mr. Sinha had committed various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act relating to criminal misconduct by a public servant as well as under Section 217 and 218 of the Indian Penal Code. “The offences of bribery can also be established by a thorough investigation,” said the complaint. Mr. Bhushan requested that the matter be thoroughly and impartially investigated and an FIR registered. “Please note that registration of an FIR is mandatory (after the authoritative Supreme Court judgment of 2014) once there are allegations of cognisable offences having being committed. It is important to note that almost all the offences have been committed in the territory of Delhi,” said Mr. Bhushan. A CBI officer, on condition of anonymity, said the ACB could not probe the matter as it was outside its jurisdiction. Mr. Bhushan’s complaint mentions a Central Government notification issued in July 2014 that said the jurisdiction of the ACB and the Delhi Police shall not extend to the officers of the Central Government. He, however, said the notification was in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code, which vests the jurisdiction of criminal cases on the State Police based on the territory and not on potential accused in the case. (The Hindu 26/11/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

98. Ministry frowns at PCMC for ignoring plastic waste rules (9)

PUNE: The Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change has directed the principal secretary of the state urban development department to issue appropriate directions to the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation to implement the Plastic Waste (Management and Handling) rules, 2011, in letter and spirit. The ministry has also sent a letter to the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board’s member secretary in this matter. The principal secretary has been told to inform the Union ministry about the status of the state-level advisory body that monitors the implementation of the rules. These directions were given after Shiv Sena corporator Seema Savale complained that the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation was not following these regulations. The Union ministry has framed the rules and amended them under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The municipal corporation is the authority for enforcement of the provisions relating to use, collection, segregation, transportation and disposal of plastic waste. Savale had sent a notice on June 30, 2014 under section 19(b) of the act to the principal secretary of the state environment department, member secretary and regional office of the pollution control board, secretary of the Union ministry of environment and forests, the municipal commissioner and the executive engineer. She had obtained information under the Right to Information Act, 2005, which showed that PCMC had not sent quarterly reports of the action taken to implement these rules. Savale said, “I have been following up the implementation of the plastic management rules with the environment department for the past two years. But they are not implementing them effectively. The municipal commissioner and pollution control board must act against the civic body’s executive engineer for environment Sanjay Kulkarni.” Kulkarni said the then municipal commissioner Shrikar Pardeshi, on December 1, 2012, had delegated powers to take action against carry bags that are less than 50 microns to the zonal officers and the health executive officer. “These officers have to submit the reports to the environment department for us to compile and send as a quarterly report to the state government. We do not get the reports from the zonal offices on time so we cannot compile the reports. We have sent many reminders to the zonal officers, but there is always a delay,” he added. (Times of India 21/11/14)

99. India needs to improve energy efficiency by 2030: UN report (9)

New Delhi: Nearly 100,000 premature deaths take place annually due to air pollution in India and some other countries which can be avoided by 2030 by improving energy efficiency measures in transport and industrial sectors, a United Nations report today said. The fifth Emissions Gap Report 2014 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which was released today, said that countries across the globe need to “shrink” greenhouse gas emissions to net zero between 2080 and 2100 in order to limit global temperature rise to two degree Celsius. The report said that improving energy efficiency can be an excellent opportunity for linking sustainable development with climate mitigation. Launching the report in India, report co-author and professor at TERI University Ritu Mathur said that given the frequencies observed of extreme events taking place in the world as well as developing countries like India, there is a need to improve the preparedness level as countries like India have lesser coping capacities with such extreme events. “Improving energy efficiency also has important positive social impacts. It reduces, for example, air pollution and its public health risks… “…Nearly 100 000 premature deaths related to air pollution in six regions – Brazil, China, the EU, India, Mexico and the USA – could be avoided annually by 2030 through energy efficiency measures in the transport, buildings and industrial sectors,” the report said. In many cases these benefits have a higher priority for governments than climate change mitigation. Hence improving energy efficiency can be seen as an excellent opportunity for linking sustainable development with climate mitigation, it said. The report, released ahead of UN Conference on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, said that in order to limit global temperature rise by two degree Celsius and head off the worst impacts of climate change, global carbon neutrality should be attained attained by mid to late century. “Taking into account non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane, nitrous oxide and hydroflurocarbons, total greenhouse gas emissions need to shrink to net zero between 2080 and 2100,” the report said. (Business Standard 22/11/14)

100. ‘Environment panel lacking in locus standi ’(9)

GUWAHATI, Nov 25 – A high-level committee constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and headed by the former Cabinet Secretary of India, TSR Subramanium with the alleged intent of diluting the existing environment, forest and wildlife laws, has been ‘found to be lacking in’ any locus standi. The committee was constituted allegedly in a hurried manner to review all the environmental, forests and wildlife laws and the notifications and judgements of the courts and tribunals related to these laws. It submitted its report on November 18, 2014. The report is yet to be made available in the public domain. The committee had former Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Viswanath Anand, former Judge of Delhi High Court AK Srivastava and former Additional Solicitor General of India, K N Bhat as its members. The reply of the MoEFCC to an RTI petition filed by the New Delhi-based EIA Resource and Response Center (ERC) revealed that the committee was not constituted under any Act or Rules of Parliament, said the ERC in a statement. Instead of obtaining mandatory approval of the Prime Minister for forming the committee, it was constituted with the approval of the MoEFCC. Moreover, eligibility of its members to work in the areas of environmental, forest and wildlife laws was not examined before nominating them to the committee. As per the June 14, 2011 circular of the MoEF, approval of the Prime Minister, through the Cabinet Secretary, is obligatory for constituting or altering the composition of the committee if it is to be designated as a high-level committee. The circular also pointed out that the MoEFCC can approve the composition of ‘important committees’, other than the high-level committees. Thus, it is clear that the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change has no power to constitute high-level committees. As per the above MoEF circular, it is clear that the above high-level committee, which was entrusted with the job to review environmental, forest and wildlife laws does not have the required administrative authority to review the environmental laws, said the ERC. “This only reflects the casual manner in which this committee has been constituted,” said environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta. Review of environmental law is a serious task and requires both expertise as well as effective public consultation, he observed. RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury, who is also involved in the process of unearthing the real status of the committee, has described it as an unconstitutional entity designed only to legalise the illegalities committed in according permission to the NE hydel projects. (The Assam Tribune 26/11/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

101. ‘False promises causing farmer suicides’ (20)

ANANTAPUR: CPI national executive committee member K. Narayana on Wednesday said several farmers had committed suicide in the district, with many cases going unnoticed, because of the government’s failure to fulfil its promises. He was speaking during a dharna conducted by the party in front of the District Collectorate, demanding that the government implement its promise of loan waiver immediately. Dr. Narayana said many a death in rural areas was directly or indirectly linked to the crisis in the farm sector. “This is the sixth consecutive drought that the district is facing. There is a dearth of everything in rural areas,” he said. He said people voted for the TDP expecting that their debts would be waived, but the indifference of the government had left farmers high and dry. The CPI leader demanded that the government implement all its promises including loan waiver for farmers and SHG women. “Impetus ought to be given to the growth of the farm sector, which will automatically improve the conditions of the rural economy,” he added.  Dr. Narayana and other party activists, who arrived at the venue on a bullock cart, blocked the entry to the Collectorate for some time, prompting police to swing into action and arresting the protesters. (The Hindu 20/11/14)

102. Farmers’ suicides leave permanent scars (20)

ADILABAD: How long does it take for a poor woman to come to grips with her drastically changed reality owing to the sudden and unexpected death of her husband as in the case of a farmer committing suicide? In some cases, it may even be a lifetime. Factors which have influenced farmers to take the extreme step notwithstanding, life of thousands of those whom they have left behind is not the same. Awarding ex gratia of Rs. 1 lakh and a debt settlement amount of Rs. 50,000 as envisaged in GO 421 issued on June 1, 2004, at best can only be a half measure towards providing succour to them. Take the case of Godmalle Juglabai, a poor Andh tribal woman of Anji village in Indervelli mandal. Her world had come crashing down on her on April 22 earlier this year when her husband Bapu Rao, a farmer took the extreme step. No sooner the last of the rites connected with the farmer’s death were completed, Juglabai was thrown out of her home by her brothers-in-law. She now lives in the house of her mother Gawale Radhabai with her only daughter of four years. She was also ‘unlucky’ in so far as getting some succour from the government. As the inquiry did not find it to be a ‘genuine’ farmer suicide, she became ineligible even for the solatium which the Congress and TDP are giving to families of farmers, who had committed suicide. For Jayashree Kale of Buddhanagar in the same mandal, whose farmer husband Atmaram had committed suicide on August 12, life has become a big struggle. She will be all alone while looking after her five daughters and the struggle is most likely to be long drawn as the youngest of her children is just one year old. “I am still unable to understand why God has chosen me for this test,” observes Jayshree as she comes close to tears. Her gaze is all too distant and is said to have become her characteristic since the fateful day when her world turned upside down. There are hundreds of Juglabais and Jayashrees in Adilabad district for whom the future holds no hope. Some more of a healing touch nevertheless, can be provided if the government takes measures to bring the families out of distress as enlisted in GO 421, according to observers. (The Hindu 22/11/14)

103. Suicide by Farmers (20)

Delhi: Recent incidents of suicide by farmers due to agrarian distress during the year 2014 have been mainly reported by the State Governments of Maharashtra (204-upto April, 2014), Telangana (69- upto October, 2014), Karnataka (19 in 2014-15 so far), Gujarat (03-Upto October, 2014), Kerala (03- upto October, 2014) and Andhra Pradesh (03- upto June, 2014). Agriculture including agricultural indebtedness being a State subject, State Governments take appropriate measures for development of agriculture sector in the State including payment of compensation to the bereaved families of suicide victims. Government of India supplements the efforts of States through appropriate policy measures and budgetary support. Government of India has taken several steps to revitalize the agriculture sector and improve upon the condition of farming community on sustainable basis by increasing public investment, improving farm practices, rural infrastructure, extension, marketing, etc. Various programmes/ schemes for the development of agriculture sector are being implemented in a decentralized manner with flexibility to State Governments to formulate and implement appropriate projects to suit their specific requirements. The focus of Government is primarily on expansion of farm income, creation of non-farm income opportunities, improvement in productivity of rainfed agriculture, increasing coverage of farming areas under protective irrigation and forging appropriate backward and forward linkages. Other measures taken by the Government for the benefit of farmers include enhancement in minimum support prices of agricultural commodities, increase in institutional credit flow to agriculture sector, post-harvest loan for six months to eliminate distress sale of agricultural produce by farmers, debt waiver/relief, interest subvention on crop loans, revival package for strengthening Short Term Rural Cooperative Credit Structure, etc. The current budgetary allocation of Rs.22309 crore for Agriculture & Cooperation has been finalized based on requirements of various schemes/programmes in consultation of planning Commission. This information was given today by Minister of State for Agriculture Dr. Sanjeev Kumar Balyan in a written reply to a Lok Sabha question. (Business Standard 25/11/14)

104. 204 farmer suicides in Maharashtra in 4 months, 97 in 5 other states (20)

NEW DELHI: Maharashtra continues to face the challenge of dealing with rising cases of farmers’ suicide. It has reported 204 such suicides in the first four months of the year – which is nearly half of what the state had reported in the entire year in 2013. The Union agriculture ministry on Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha of Maharashtra’s dubious record followed by Telangana, Karnataka and Gujarat. Though Maharashtra’s figures are available only till April, the number of farmers’ suicide in the state (204) is still higher than the collective figure of five other states (97) where such suicides were committed by farmers this year. Other states’ data are mostly updated till October, showing the Maharashtra’s figure till that month would certainly be much more as many more suicides had been reported from the state after April. The suicide figure for the state between May and October is, however, not available with the Centre. The ministry has arrived at the figures for Telangana, which was carved out from Andhra Pradesh, by taking into account the suicide that took place in the districts which fall under the new state. The ministry shared the figures in the Lower House of Parliament through its written response to a Parliament question. Though the government remained silent over the exact reasons which might have forced farmers to take such drastic steps, it indicated the possibility of “agriculture indebtedness” being the primary factor behind such suicides. The ministry, at the same time, put the onus on states to take measures to prevent such suicides as agriculture including agricultural indebtedness is a ‘state subject’. “The government of India supplements the efforts of states through appropriate policy measures and budgetary support”, said the ministry. It also enlisted a number of measures taken by the Centre for the benefit of farmers. Those measures include: enhancement in minimum support prices of agricultural commodities, increase in institutional credit flow to agriculture sector, post-harvest loan for six months to eliminate distress sale of agricultural produce by farmers, debt waiver/relief and interest subvention on crop loans. (Times of India 26/11/14)

LAND ACQUISITION/ DISPLACEMENT

105. No ordinance to amend land acquisition law, law minister Sadananda Gowda says (4)

NEW DELHI: Law minister Sadananda Gowda on Wednesday ruled out taking the ordinance route for any amendments in the Land Acquisition Act though he said the government was in favour of bringing some changes. “There is a proposal. The call has to be taken by the concerned (rural development) ministry,” he said, without elaborating on the proposed changes. Finance minister Arun Jaitley had last week said the government will amend the “tough” land acquisition law even without opposition support as it looks to restore confidence in the economy. The government is in favour of consulting other parties and developing a consensus on the proposed changes. Some states have already expressed concern and cited difficulties in acquiring land for infrastructure projects with stringent clause such as obtaining consent of at least 70% of affected landowners in case of PPP projects and 80% in case of private projects. On ratification of the judges appointment commission bill by states, Gowda said he has written to state governments to ratify the bill which will put in place a new mechanism to select Supreme Court and high court judges. The Constitution amendment bill requires ratification by at least 50% of state legislatures. Goa, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Tripura legislatures have already ratified the bill. Gowda said since winter sessions of state legislatures were lined up in coming days, the required number of ratifications could be completed soon. Parliament had in August cleared a Constitution amendment bill to facilitate setting up of a commission for appointment of judges, replacing the 20-year-old collegium system, which has been under severe criticism. The law minister said with many proposals getting stuck due to inter-ministerial litigation, the government was bringing a new policy to ensure that departments did not sue each other and cases were settled through arbitration and reconciliation. Along with the National Litigation Policy that the government plans to bring, ministries and departments are being encouraged to amend laws to reduce court cases. In this direction, the finance ministry is likely to amend the Negotiable Instruments Act to reduce burden on courts with regard to litigation related to cheque bounce cases. The transport ministry is also likely to amend the Motor Vehicles Act to reduce litigation related to challans. (Times of India 20/11/14)

106. Governments have wrong notion on development, says Medha Patkar (4)

Mangaluru: Activist and Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar said “the governments have perverted vision on development. Whenever they want, they raise the issue of environment concern and are ready to do away with the environment issues when it comes to investment by corporates.” Speaking after flagging off a boat rally organised under the banner of Kerala Swathanthra Malsyathozhily Federation, National Fish Workers Forum and Coastal Karnataka Fishermen’s Action Committee, from Mangaluru to Thiruvananthapuram, aimed at protection of sea, coast, inland water bodies and fisheries resources here on Friday, she flayed the Modi government over a move to amend provisions of the Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act, 2013. “The consent and social impact assessment provision was introduced to do away with the anomalies. Earlier, farmers who were dependent on the land were never consulted while initiating a project. Fertile land were given to private corporates in the name of development. It will be a retrograde step if we go back to the British legacy. The new land acquisition act was the result of mass movements across the country,” she said.  Social impact assessment is essential before taking up any project, she added. “Modi visited Japan as investors from Japan have invested in industrial corridors back in India. It is a tragedy that agreements at the global level do not come for discussion in the Parliament or assembly. No one has any clear cut idea on the issues dealt in the agreements signed at the global level,”  Patkar said. “Fishermen are asserting their right to stay near their livelihood,” she said. Stating that the previous UPA government shelved Murari committee report and constituted Meera Kumari committee.  The Meera Kumari committee has welcomed foreign fishing vessels and foreign crews to fish on the Indian water. This is direct violation of the recommendations of P Murari Committee, according to which no further licenses should be provided to foreign fishing vessels. If the policies of the UPA government are followed by the Modi government, then fishing sector will be pushed to a major crisis. “The government has a false contention that those who have money are real investors. Those who invest on land and water like fishermen and farmers for livelihood are not in favour of development. Fishermen should show their strength by unitedly fighting for rights. Fishermen, agriculturists, tribals are the one who live with nature and engaged in bringing in balance in nature. National Fishworkers Forum secretary T Peter said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised of Blue revolution before the parliamentary election. However, the budget of the central government was disappointing. The fishermen urged for the creation of a separate ministry for Fisheries. Peter said coastal land were being given to tourism and industries while the rights of the fishermen were being curtailed. Foreign vessels are allowed to fish in Indian waters. This will adversely affect the Indian fishermen. The government should reject the recommendations of an Meena Kumari committee to allow joint ventures with foreign vessels to fish in Buffer Zone (where sea water is 200 ft to 300 ft deep). Instead, Indian fishing community should be encouraged to catch fish in the zone using modern technology. A march to New Delhi will be organised later to pressurise the Union government to heed to the demands of fishermen. He said the government should take measures to ensure that boat owners get subsidised kerosene. No boat owner was able to receive subsidised kerosene because it was reserved for BPL card holders. “Will a mechanised boat owner possess a BPL card?” he said. Minister for Fisheries Abhayachandra Jain said that the government is committed to protect the interest of the farmers. As a part of the rally, six boats from Mangaluru took part in the boat march. The campaign will witness a series of public meetings along the west coast, culminating at a national conference in Thiruvananthapuram on November 30. (Deccan Herald 22/11/14)

107. Govt may need gram sabha nod for acquiring property (4)

BENGALURU: People in rural areas will soon have a major say in the government acquiring their land or property for projects, if a proposed amendment to the Karnataka Panchayat Raj Act becomes a reality. Instead of applying the top-down model, the government will have to obtain clearance or an NoC from the local gram sabhas before going ahead with land acquisition. The proposed amendment aims to give more teeth to gram panchayats to help them discharge their functions effectively. Former speaker K R Ramesh Kumar, who heads the high-power committee on amendments to the Act, told TOI on Monday that such consultations will be a must for rehabilitating persons affected by development projects, giving mining leases or granting licence for liquor shops in villages. “We will also explore legal options to see whether GPs can be given powers to say no to a project if they find it to be against public interest,” the Congress MLA said at an interaction here. The amendment also proposes to take the panchayat to people through habitation sabhas. “In several places, people are staying in habitations or small settlements very far from the Gram Panchayat village. Their voices are not heard as they are not able to attend meetings or participate in the functioning of the GP,” said former MP C Narayanaswamy, the core committee chairman. The government will table the report in the winter session of the legislature scheduled to be held in Belagavi in December. (Times of India 25/11/14)

108. Government Delays Key Land Reform. Here’s Why. (4)

New Delhi:  The government has decided to postpone a reform seen as essential for developing much-needed infrastructure. A proposal to change land acquisition laws will not be introduced in the month-long parliament session that began on Monday, said sources. Instead, the government would like to shore up the opposition’s support to liberalise the insurance industry, a long-delayed reform expected to help improve investor confidence. Restrictions to buying land, strengthened under the last Congress government, are among the biggest barriers to new projects worth billions of dollars in roads, railways, ports and power installations. The government is in a minority in the Rajya Sabha or Upper House. Without opposition support, it cannot pass important legislation there. For this session, it has decided to prioritize a bill that lifts the cap on foreign investment in insurance and pension ventures from 26 percent to 49 percent. A total of 189 projects, including $10 billion in highways, are stalled because of difficulties with land acquisition, environment clearances and red tape, says the Transport Ministry headed by Nitin Gadkari.  The land purchase law enacted by the last government – and supported by the BJP while it was the opposition – sets compensation to landholders at four times the market price and requires the approval of 80 percent of landowners for any deal. A land acquisition law passed by the last government and supported by the BJP while in opposition dramatically increased compensation to farmers for land. Stringent rules requiring consensus among sellers have made it difficult for industry to buy land. The government wants to make it a much faster process. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said he supports the higher compensation but wants to loosen other barriers to land purchases. The government wants parliament to remove a requirement to get landholders’ consent in the case of public-private partnership projects, or at least bring the threshold down to 50 percent of affected landowners. (NDTV 27/11/14)

RIGHT TO HEALTH

109. WHO Lauds TN Health Sector (3)

CHENNAI: Dr Nata Menabde, Representative of World Health Organisation to India on Wednesday heaped praise on the several initiatives of Tamil Nadu government in the health sector and said “we want other States to learn from Tamil Nadu’s successful examples and its great experiences.” “Tamil Nadu has been an exemplarily leading State in implementing WHO’s programmes for reduction of infant mortality, maternal mortality, achievement of Millennium Development Goals”, Menabde said speaking at the National Conference on Free Medicines Schemes in the States in India, organised by the WHO. “This State has been a leading State in ensuring access to medicine to the people for many years even before other State had launched the free medicine schemes’, she said. (New Indian Express 20/11/14)

110. 32 newborn babies die in Odisha daily (3)

BHUBANESWAR: : Despite several steps claimed to be taken to bring down Infant Mortality Rate, Odisha has been witnessing on an average 32 newborn deaths per day, the State Legislative Assembly was informed. According to a reply furnished by State Health and family Welfare Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak in the State Assembly, 10,459 newborn ( up to four weeks) deaths were reported in 2013-14 while 5,797 newborns had already died between April and September this year. Many tribal dominated districts and poverty-stricken districts of western Odisha have reported high incidences of newborn deaths. As many as 967 newborn deaths were registered in Bolangir, a western Odisha district, during the last financial year. The district has already witnessed 524 such deaths this year. Its neighbouring district, Kalahandi, saw 836 deaths last fiscal and 443 this year. Mayurbhanj, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Bargarh have reported high number of newborn deaths during these periods.Incidentally, Ganjam despite having a large geographical area had only 34 newborn deaths during 2013-14. But during the first six months of the current fiscal, 41 new born deaths have been reported from the district. If one goes by average per day newborn deaths, Odisha had 29 newborn deaths per day during the last financial year. However, in the first six months of the current fiscal, average per day newborn deaths was around 32. Mr. Nayak said that to check newborn and neonatal deaths, there are 29 sick newborn care units, 49 newborn care units and 662 newborn care corners in operation in the States. Besides, Asha workers are being imparted training on home-based newborn care so that they could monitor and counsel parents on health of newborns till 49 days, the minister pointed out. During the past three years, the State government claimed to have spent Rs. 200 crore on strengthening of infrastructure for reduction of IMR. Health Department sources, however, said there had been a remarkable reduction in IMR by 22 points from 75 in 2005 to 53 in 2011 as per Sample Registration Survey – the sharp decline was the highest in the country. Similarly, Neonatal Mortality Rate had gone down from 53 (SRS 2005) to 40 (SRS 2011) which had kept pace with decline in IMR. (The Hindu 23/11/14)

111. India spent Rs.500 crore on TB treatment in 2013-14 (3)

New Delhi: India spent Rs. 500 crore (Rs.5 billion/$81 million) in fiscal 2013-14 on the treatment of tuberculosis, including providing free medicines, Health Minister J.P. Nadda said Tuesday. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, the health minister said that in 2011-12, the amount incurred on prevention and control of TB was Rs. 391.16 crore, which went up to Rs. 467 crore the next year. In 2013-14 that ended March 31, the amount spent on TB treatment was Rs. 500 crore. The minister also said that the government is implementing the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme in the country, under which diagnosis and treatment facilities, including anti-TB drugs are provided free of cost to all TB patients. Designated microscopy centres have been established for quality diagnosis for every one lakh population in the general areas and for every 50,000 population in the tribal, hilly and difficult areas, he said. To conduct the diagnosis, he said, more than 13,000 microscopy centres have been established in the country. “Drugs are provided under direct observation and the patients are monitored so that they complete their treatment,” he said. Nadda also said that programmatic management of Drug Resistant TB (PMDT) services, for the management of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) and TB-HIV collaborative activities for TB-HIV co-infection are also being implemented throughout the country. The minister said as use of irrational treatment regimen is one of the major reasons for development of resistance to anti-TB drugs, the government has moved the drugs from schedule H to H1, under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, which lays down certain conditions on their usage. Indian government has also released standards for TB Care in India, an initiative to introduce uniform standards for TB care in all sectors. “This is the first time such standards have been defined in India and is an important step to standardize diagnosis, treatment, public health action and social support systems for all TB patients in the country,” he said. (New Kerala 25/11/14)

112. Baby deaths in Attappady due to mothers’ ill health: survey (3)

Palakkad: An official health survey has found that anaemia and deficiency of folic acid among pregnant tribal women are the prime reasons for the death of newborns at Attappady. It was being speculated of late that overuse of pesticides, including the banned endosulfan, in farms was the reason for the growing infant mortality among tribespeople. The survey was conducted by Nileena Koshy and three other medical experts from Government Medical College, Thrissur, following a directive from the Health Department. The doctors, who travelled extensively in Attappady, said in their report that pesticide played no role in infant deaths in the region. Nineteen newborns have died since January this year of a condition called anencephaly — a result of folic acid deficiency and septicaemia caused by home delivery in unsterile conditions. The report, accessed by The Hindu , says that anaemia is widely prevalent among pregnant and lactating mothers in Attappady. It also says that most pregnant tribal women in the region do not get proper health care especially during the last months of their pregnancy. The team also found that 83 percent of children aged below five years in Attappady are underweight. “The term anencephaly means absence of bone covering the brain. It is a lethal condition and the chances of survival are slim. It is caused by folic acid deficiency, and is preventable. Folic acid is recommended for pregnant women, and its administration must begin a month before conception to three months after conception. If there was a system to supply of folic acid to pregnant women, most of the infant mortality cases could have been averted,” says the report. The team highlights the failure of the Health Department in recording and maintaining registers on pregnant women’s weight. Most pregnant women get folic acid tablets four months after they report their pregnancy to visiting health workers. Most women do not get proper vaccinations or essential medicines. The report recommends measuring haemoglobin content in the blood of pregnant women every three months. It blames the Health Department for not adopting measures to prevent the death of infants. (The Hindu 26/11/14)

113. Watch out for hospital-acquired infections: experts (3)

CHENNAI: Infections acquired in hospitals have become a major cause for concern around the world. In India however, very few hospitals track infection rates. According to a review of hospital infections conducted by V. Ramasubramanian, senior consultant, Infectious Diseases, HIV & Tropical Medicine, Apollo hospitals, the incidence of Hospital-Acquired Infections (HAIs) varies from 11 per cent to 83 per cent for different kinds of infections. There is an increasing trend in HAI incidence in India over the last decade. However, according to Prabhu Vinayagam, Asia-Pacific Managing Director of Joint Commission International (JCI), who was in the city recently, few hospitals have baseline data on such infections. “Most hospitals do not even have protocols in place that will allow them to see how high the incidence of HAIs is. Unless there is data, control of HAIs is very difficult,” he said. JCI is an agency that identifies, measures, and shares best practices in quality and patient safety with hospitals across the world. “Although it is difficult to say how bad the situation is in the country, poor medical infrastructure and the uncontrolled use of antibiotics have increased the risk of development of these infections in India,” Dr. Vinayagam said. “Unlike other infections, HAIs are resistant to antibiotics. They are very difficult to manage and cure, which is why it is critical for hospitals to have proper monitoring and patient safety protocols,” Dr. Vinayagam said. “The highest incidence of HAIs is in patients admitted to the ICU, since their immune systems are also compromised,” Dr. Vinayagam said. Patients should be aware there is a chance of contracting these HAIs and know their rights when it comes them. JCI, along with the Advanced Sterilization Products, that develops infection prevention solutions have designed a new infection-prevention toolkit to provide hospital administrators a proper protocol. (The Hindu 26/11/14)

HIV/AIDS

114. AIDS: Need for more focus on groups at risk (3)

New Delhi: The District AIDS Prevention Control Committee (DAPCU) reviewed various activities for awareness and control of HIV-TB programme in Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital on Friday. The District Programme Manager presented the district’s six months performance at the event. There should be more efforts to conduct tests among the High Risk Groups (HRG), said a senior official. NGOs can also play a key role in scaling up HIV testing camps among the HRG and ensure their participation, the District Magistrate (East) said. The Delhi State AIDS Control Society (DSACS) will provide the manpower and other resources through DAPCU. The DM also stressed on involvement of other departments such as Social Welfare, Family & Community Services, Revenue and even the banks to give easy access to the HRGs. (Deccan Herald 22/11/14)

115. Anti-HIV drugs can affect unborn babies’ hearts (3)

Washington: The drugs given to HIV-positive pregnant women can cause significant long-term heart problems for the non-HIV-infected babies they carry, says a new study. Such medicines help prevent the transmission of the virus from mother to infant but may cause impaired development of heart muscle and reduced heart performance in non-HIV-infected children. “What our study indicates is that there is potentially a long-term price to be paid for protecting the children of HIV-infected mothers from the virus,” said Steven E. Lipshultz, pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in the US and chair of pediatrics for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. The study compared heart development and long-term heart functioning in 428 uninfected children of HIV-infected mothers to children who had not been exposed to HIV from 2007 to 2012. There was a significant association between lagging heart muscle development and impaired pumping ability in the children of the HIV-infected mothers who had received the medications, found the study. The findings show clearly that further investigation of their long-term impact on the heart health of the children involved is needed, said Lipshultz. The study appeared in the journal AIDS. (Business Standard 23/11/14)

116. Only 30% Americans living with HIV have virus in check- Government report (3)

Chicago: Just 30% of Americans living with HIV have the virus in check, putting others at risk of infection, U.S. health officials said on Tuesday. The report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 840,000 of the 1.2 million people infected with HIV in 2011 were not consistently taking anti-HIV drugs that keep the virus suppressed at very low levels. Of that number, 66% had been diagnosed with HIV but were not getting regular care; 20% did not know they were infected, and 10% were prescribed anti-HIV medicine known as antiretroviral treatment but were still not able to get the virus under control, and 4% of patients were under physician care but were not prescribed antiretroviral medicines. Studies have shown that viral suppression can extend the lives of people infected with the virus and can cut the risk of transmitting the infection to others by as much as 96%. According to the CDC, the%age of Americans with HIV who achieved viral suppression remained roughly stable, with 30% achieving that goal in 2011, the latest year for which data are available, compared with 26% in 2009. Young people were least likely to have the virus in check, the report found. Only 13% of people aged 18-24 achieved viral suppression in 2011 compared to 23% of those aged 25-34, 27% of those aged 35-44, 34% of those aged 45-54, 36% of those aged 55-64, and 37% of those aged 65 and older. The researchers attribute the disparity in large part to fewer than half (49%) of 18-to-24-year olds with HIV having been diagnosed. “There is untapped potential to drive down the epidemic through improved testing and treatment, but we’re missing too many opportunities,” Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Prevention, said in a statement. According to the CDC, as many as 50,000 Americans become infected with HIV each year. The CDC recommends treatment with antiretroviral drugs for everyone infected with HIV, regardless of how many copies of the virus are circulating in a person’s blood, a term known as viral load. (DNA 25/11/14)

117. Hospitals shoo away HIV positive accident victim (3)

HOWRAH: An HIV positive woman, who suffered injuries in a road accident, was allegedly turned down by two government hospitals in Howrah and Kolkata. Howrah District Hospital admitted her after a person intervened, but there she was allegedly kept overnight near the toilet of a ward, next to where a body was kept. When informed by TOI, the Howrah chief medical officer (health) expressed shock over the incident and said that he would get her admitted on Wednesday. On November 8, Babita Dolui (name changed), a resident of Ramrajatala, was travelling on a bicycle with her husband on Kona Expressway. The 32-year-old woman and her husband are masons and both of them were returning home from work . A speeding lorry knocked them down in Chatterjee Haat police station area. Babita fractured her right arm and cracked her spine, while her husband escaped with minor injuries. The police rushed her to Howrah District Hospital. “She was semi-conscious when she was taken to the hospital. Doctors and nurses at the hospital asked Babita’s husband whether she had any chronic disease. Her husband reportedly told them that she was HIV+. The doctors and nurses told my son-in-law that he also suffers from the “dirty” disease and they ought to lock him up. After hearing this, my son-in-law ran away. We came to know of the accident late in the evening. When we went to the hospital, Babita was lying on the floor and hadn’t been attended to. The doctors and nurses told us to take her away as they wouldn’t even touch her,” said Babita’s mother. The next day, Babita’s mother took her daughter to the Medical College and Hospital in Calcutta. The doctors there looked at the documents issued by the Howrah Hospital and told the elderly woman to take Babita away. “They told me that such patients can’t be treated there. They asked me to take her back home and wait for the injuries to heal naturally,” Babita’s mother added. When the woman produced a reference letter from local MLA Jatu Lahiri, a doctor allegedly retorted: “Who is the MLA to refer such a patient to us?” On Novermber 18, Babita’s mother informed the matter to their family friend Amit Goswami, who is a law clerk. Goswami then took her to Howrah District Hospital and insisted that they admit her. The hospital authorities assured Goswami that things would be taken care of. “Next morning, Babita was found lying on the floor next to the toilet of a ward. She said that a body had been kept on the floor beside her,” Babita’s mother said. (Times of India 26/1/14)

118. Probe into HIV+ woman’s ordeal (3)

HOWRAH: After TOI reported about the plight of a 32-year-old suspected HIV-positive woman from Ramrajatala in Howrah, government machinery went into overdrive on Wednesday and got her admitted to the female surgical ward of the Howrah District Hospital. The woman had been thrown out of two state-run hospitals even after suffering serious injuries in a road accident. Debashis Roy, the chief medical officer (health), Howrah, set up a three-member committee to probe the allegations and informed that all expenses for the woman’s treatment will be borne by the district administration. Babita Dolui (name changed) fractured her right arm and cracked her spine in a road accident on November 8. When she was taken to Howrah District Hospital, doctors and nurses turned her away when her husband reportedly said she was HIV-positive. The Calcutta Medical College Hospital also refused Babita. She was admitted to the Howrah hospital on November 18, but had to spend the night on the floor next to a corpse beside the toilet. Since then, Babita was at home. When Roy was contacted by TOI on Tuesday, he said Babita would be admitted to the Howrah hospital on Wednesday. Around 4.45pm, she was wheeled into the female surgical ward with the dignity that all patients deserve, notwithstanding whether they are HIV-positive or not. In the morning, the CMOH called up Babita’s family and asked them to take her to the hospital. Neighbours then fetched an ambulance. “It was a shameful incident. I took steps from the time I came to know of this from TOI on Tuesday. Funds for her treatment will be provided from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. A three-member committee comprising deputy CMOH-I Ranjit Das, Howrah District Hospital superintendent Narayan Chatterjee and nursing superintendent Manisha Ghosh has been set up to probe the incident. The committee will submit its report in two days. Tests will be carried out to ascertain whether the woman is HIV-positive. Her mother claims that she has no knowledge of this. I wonder on what basis the doctors mentioned this on her prescription,” the CMOH said. Bablu Adak, a neighbour, said that they will stand by Babita. “We will ensure she doesn’t suffer. We want to know on what basis the doctors declared her HIV-positive,” Adak said. Minister Arup Roy said that he read about Babita’s plight in TOI and called up the CMOH. “I asked him to arrange for her treatment immediately and conduct a proper inquiry and take necessary action against those responsible,” he said. Gautam Mukherjee, the Howrah hospital doctor who wrote her prescription on November 18, declaring her HIV-positive was unrepentant. “Her husband was carrying a medical slip that had HIV-positive written on it. The emergency doctor wrote HIV-positive on the prescription and I signed on good faith. I refuse to give an explanation as to why no test was carried out,” he said. (Times of India 27/11/14)

 

 

Posted by admin at 28 November 2014

Category: Uncategorized

DALITS/SCHEDULED CASTES

1. Dalit triple murder: court nod for polygraph tests (2)

Pune: With Dalit groups in Maharashtra seething over alleged police inaction in the unsolved triple murder of a Dalit family in Ahmednagar district, the District and Sessions court on Monday gave the green signal for polygraph tests on five witnesses. “We had submitted an application to the court to conduct the tests as there was strong discrepancy in the versions of these witnesses,” said Inspector General of Police (Nashik Range), Pravin Salunkhe, speaking to The Hindu. Mr. Salunkhe, however, refused to divulge any names. Even after 18 days, the police have not detained any suspect.The dismembered bodies of Sanjay Jadhav, his wife Jayashree and their teenage son, Sunil, were discovered on October 22 by their relatives in the village of Javkhede Khalasa in Pathardi taluk. According to sources, the tests are to be conducted on members of the upper-caste Wagh family, who lived on land adjacent to the Jadhavs, and some of their relatives. There is speculation that the murders are ‘honour killings’ by the Wagh household. “We demand narco-analysis tests on suspects, if any. It is high time the police discover the motive for the murders,” said Republican Party of India (A) leader Sunil Salve. The slaughter of the Jadhav family, which has sent shockwaves across Maharashtra, mirrors the murder of three Dalit youths in Ahmednagar’s Sonai village in January 2013, in which the trio were hacked to death and their mutilated body parts scattered in a septic tank. Almost a year-and-a-half after the crime, the trial of the accused in the Sonai killings began in the Nashik Sessions Court on Monday. The hearings are to last four days with a verdict expected by the end of the week, said special public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. Mr. Nikam is also likely to take over the Javkhede murder case, said government sources. (The Hindu 11/11/14)

2. Dalits stage march against Javkhed killings (2)

CHANDRAPUR: Thousands of members of dalit community staged a protest march to district collectorate to flay the killing of three members of a dalit family in Javkhed village in Ahmadnagar district. Stressing on immediate arrest of the accused involved in brutal killing, protesters submitted a memorandum to the district collector. The march was held under the banner of Republican Sangharsh Samiti, the action committee of dalit leaders in city. Protesters gathered at Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar’s statue in the afternoon and then marched under the leadership of Ankush Waghmare, Gopal Deogade, Chikte, Siddarth Waghmare, Sankar Sagore, Rameshchandra Raut, Satyajeet Urade and Rajesh Wankar. Protesters shouted slogans, flaying rising incidents of atrocities on dalits and demanding immediate arrest of murderers of Jadhav family. They also flayed the BJP government in the state for overlooking the case. Later, a delegation met district collector Deepak Mhaisekar and submitted a memorandum. (Times of India 12/11/14)

3. Maha Dalit killings: NGO to stage protest in Maharashtra tomorrow (2)

Mumbai: A city-based NGO will stage a protest here on Saturday against the recent killings of Dalits at a village in Maharashtra. Noted personalities like Nana Patekar, Amol Palekar, theatre and film director Jabbar Patel, film producer N Chandra and singer Faiyyaz are likely to participate in the protest which will be organised at the Shivaji Park here. “Atrocities against Dalits and tribals have increased over a period of time. The conviction rate is only 5.5 per cent and many of them are living under tremendous fear. The protest is to show solidarity towards the society and the backward class people who are still not getting justice,” Congress MP Husain Dalwai, who runs the NGO, told reporters here late last evening. Describing the Indian society as a multi-cultured fabric, Dalwai said efforts should be made to keep all the communities united. “However, the dalits, women and tribals are deprived of their constitutional rights on several occasions and they are facing a lot of challenges even after 65 years of independence,” he lamented. Dalwai condemned the brutal murder of three members of a Dalit family at Javkheda village in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district last month and also the earlier killings of people from the community at Khairlanji, Sonai and Kharda villages in the state. He demanded that the government should take immediate steps to arrest the culprits in all these cases. The Congress leader also demanded appointment of a panel to probe such matters and a separate committee under a judge for the protection of the victims. (Zee News 14/11/14)

4. Government official booked for humiliating Dalit woman in Kendrapada (2)

KENDRAPARA (Odisha): A case has been registered against a senior government official for allegedly making caste-based derogatory remarks against a Dalit woman here, police said on Saturday. The case was registered against district education officer Markat Keshari Ray following a complaint lodged by Tuni Mallik. The incident took place on Wednesday when Mallik had gone to meet the official to file a grievance petition, said Santanu Kumar Padhi, sub-divisional police officer, human rights protection cell. A case under section 3 of the prevention of atrocity against scheduled caste and scheduled tribes Act was registered against the DEO on Friday, he said. (Times of India 15/11/14)

5. Villagers lock heads over amenities (2)

RAMANATHAPURAM: Villagers of Kizhakku Kudiyiruppu in Kozhindurai Panchayat in Mudukulathur block staged a sit-in dharna in the Collectorate complex, demanding basic amenities even as villagers of Vadakku and Therkku Kudiyiruppu of the same panchayat thronged the Collectorate to complain against them for disconnecting water supply and putting up road blockades. About 200 men and women of Kizhakku Kudiyiruppu, dominated by Dalits staged the dharna on public grievance day on Monday and offered to surrender the ration cards protesting against denial of basic amenities such as road, drinking water and lighting facilities for the past three years. Even as they were agitating, a large number of people of other communities from Vadakku and Therkku Kudiyiruppu complained that the Dalits had indulged in highhandedness by disconnecting water supply and put up road blockades preventing vehicle movement. In a petition to the Collector, the Dalits said they have been fighting for basic amenities for the last three years, but the Panchayat President, T. Gajendran, though a Dalit, never bothered to provide the facilities. Seeking his intervention, they said if the Collector failed to intervene, they would be forced to surrender the ration cards and vacate the village, they said. Meanwhile, villagers of Vadakku and Therkku Kudiyiruppu of the same panchayat complained that the Dalits, alleging that they were discriminated, took law into their hands and disconnected water supply. They also put road blockades causing a lot of inconvenience. School students were the worst-affected as school buses could not enter the village for the past two weeks, they said. Vehicles carrying ration items also could not come into the village due to the road blocks, they said. N Aravindan, vice president of Kozhundurai Panchayat found fault with the style of functioning of Mr. Gajendran. After he was dismissed by the Collector on charges of forgery, he managed to get favourable orders from higher officials and continued as President. He had lost the confidence of all the nine members, including three scheduled caste members, but continued as President, Mr. Aravindan said. (The Hindu 18/11/14)

TRIBALS

6. Assam MLAs press for ST status (6)

New Delhi, Nov. 10: Assam legislators across political lines joined hands today to press Union home minister Rajnath Singh to recognise six communities of the state as Scheduled Tribes. A 12-member delegation, led by Speaker Pranab Gogoi, called on Singh at North Block and submitted a memorandum seeking ST status for the Koch-Rajbongshi, Tai Ahom, Moran, Muttock, Chutia and tea tribe communities, whose demand has been rejected for years because they do not “fulfil certain criteria”. The home and tribal affairs ministries are understood to have thought a way out of the problem. The rationale of the urgent need for ST status is to counter alleged Bangladeshi illegal immigrants’ claim over land and resources, sources said. “It is very important for us to prevent conflict. It is a crisis of identity against question of survival of illegal immigrants,” Gogoi told The Telegraph after meeting Singh. The Speaker said they had conveyed to the home minister that it was possible for the Centre to do it. Recognition of these communities as Scheduled Tribes is imperative not only for them but also for the entire state, he added. The legislators’ demand coincided with that of Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, who was participating in a discussion at the North East Festival here. Rajkhowa said Assam was facing a threat from illegal migration from Bangladesh. Ulfa has been demanding ST status for the six communities ever since the outfit’s leadership returned from Bangladesh. “The proposal will be cleared by early next year, we hope,” Rajkhowa told The Telegraph. Gogoi hoped the proposal would be cleared before the 2016 Assembly election. The delegation had tribal MLAs from the BJP and the AGP and the memorandum was signed even by an All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) legislator. The Speaker said they did not see any politics happening over the issue. Over 60 Assembly constituencies in Assam could have Scheduled Tribe majority if the Centre recognises six major communities as ST. For recognition of communities as ST, the initial proposal comes from the state government. It is examined by the registrar-general and census commissioner, the tribal affairs ministry and the National Scheduled Tribes Commission. The final call is taken by the tribal affairs ministry, which will have to draft an amendment bill to include the communities in the ST list. (The Telegraph 11/11/14)

7. Two tribals sterilised against law; 1 dead, other critical (6)

Raipur: One of the two women belonging to Baiga community a primitive tribe adopted by President of India for their conservation on Wednesday succumbed to reported infections following botch-up surgery in a government-sponsored free health camp set up at Gauerila in Chhattisgarh’s Bilashpur district. Officials were tight-lipped over the incident. “I am not aware of any such incident”, state health minister Amar Agrawal said. According reports reaching from Bilashpur, two Baiga tribe women on whom tubectomy surgeries were conducted in a separate camp at Gauerila in Bilashpur district on Monday developed nausea and were admitted to a hospital in the town. “One Baiga woman, identified as Chaital Bail of Dhanauli village in Bilashpur district, died following botch-up sterilisation in Gauerila camp. Another Baiga woman, identified as Mangli Bai of Malia Kachha village in the same district, was in a critical condition,” Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee said. PCC president Bhupesh Baghel has written a letter to the President demanding action against the state for violating Constitutional provisions which prohibited sterilisation of Baiga tribal people as they are categorised as an endangered community. (Asian Age 13/11/14)

8. Cases of rising infant deaths in tribal hamlets worry officials (6)

A.KONDURU (KRISHNA DT.): Efforts to counsel Lambada tribal women on the importance of protecting girl child notwithstanding, the Women and Child Welfare Department is worried over the increasing incidents of death of infants in the tribal hamlets in the district. Krishna District Women Development and Child Welfare Department Project Director K. Krishna Kumari admitted that instances of killing of infants were reported from some areas. “Instructions have been given to the ICDS staff, Anganwadi teachers and workers to keep a watch on pregnant women before and after the delivery,” she said. According to senior officials, with the department stepping up vigil on the hamlets, tribal women are resorting to steps like exposing the just-born babies to direct sunlight and not feeding them properly. This, according to them, was a deliberate bid to avoid complications like registration of medico legal cases. Tribal women, it is said, were neglecting female babies suffering from diarrhoea, fever and other chronic diseases. The situation is alarming in some tribal hamlets, said Tiruvuru Child Development Project Officer M. Ankamamba. “It is a fact that girl child is neglected in many Lambada families in A. Konduru, Gampalagudem and parts of Vissannapeta mandals. The problem is more in Repudi Thanda, Kummariguntla Thanda and other tribal hamlets,” said an Anganwadi teacher working in Tiruvur division. (The Hindu 14/11/14)

9. Tribals protest move to amend FRA (6)

Berhampur: The tribal people, including primitive tribal groups (PTG) in southern Odisha, along with their associate activities have strongly protested the Union government’s decision to amend the Forest Rights Act (FRA). The rights of the gram sabha would be taken away for giving consent for an industrial project if the amendments in the act are carried out. “The change will facilitate the industrial houses like Vedanta and Posco to set up their plants and mine in the green belts,” said the tribal leaders. The tribal people including Dongaria Kandhas from southern Odisha districts-Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Rayagada and Kalahandi staged demonstration in Bhubaneswar on Saturday in protest against the Central government’s decision to change FRA. The proposed mining project in Niyamagiri hill to feed bauxite to the Vedanta Aluminium’s Langigarh refinery was denied by the Central government when almost all gram sabhas on the foothills of Niyamgiri, straddling Kalahandi and Rayagada districts, rejected the proposal last year. “The change in FRA will facilitate mining in the hill. We will oppose any change of the FRA,” they said. “The move of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) is aimed at facilitating the major industrial houses,” said Prafulla Samantara. It would be easy to get approval for projects coming up near green areas not recorded as forests by the erstwhile British government and not having tribal population since 2001. However, it fails to recognise rights of other forest dwellers,” added Bhala Chandra Sarangi, another activist. The change notified by MoEF through a circular recently, gives powers to the district collectors to notify whether FRA is applicable to the project site or not, sources said. They will have to certify that the green area was not a notified forest in 1930 and no tribals lived in the villages as per the last two census. It would be enough for the ministry’s forest advisory committee (FAC) to exempt FRA compliance for the project, sources said. “It means that the mandatory consent of the gram sabha-the village body in and around the project site will not be required,” said Samantara. “It also dilutes the objective of FRA,” the activists said. The Ministry’s order violates the FRA in its interpretation of the Act which is meant to undo the historical injustice suffered by forest dwelling tribal and non-tribal communities, they added. (Business Standard 16/11/14)

10. Panel to probe atrocities against Kuravans (6)

VILLUPURAM: The National Commission for Scheduled Castes has constituted a committee headed by its assistant director (Chennai) P Ramasamy to study the problems faced by the Kuravan community with specific reference to the police atrocities against the community in Tamil Nadu. The commission has also nominated Chennai-based advocate P V P Ajeetha and a Villupuram-based social worker V A Rameshnathan as the members and directed the committee to submit its report before December 15. The committee will study the alleged bias and subjective handling of cases involving Kuravan community by the police and suggest remedial measures including relief and rehabilitation. It will also focus on the violations committed against children and women of the community and ensure educational facilities for them. The commission directed the committee to gather sufficient secondary data on atrocities and to undertake random inquiries into the reported incidents. It also insisted that the committee members record the statements of the victims before finalizing the report. The commission in September this year summoned the director general of police, Tamil Nadu to appear before commission’s member P M Kamalamma for discussions regarding complaints of police atrocities on scheduled caste people at its headquarters in New Delhi following a complaint from the Tamil Nadu Kuravar Makkal Sangam (TNKMS). TNKMS submitted a representation highlighting 28 cases of police atrocities on Kuravan community people since 1993 including rape, custodial torture, illegal arrest and detention, custodial deaths, deaths in judicial custody and fake encounters to the commission’s member during a camp at Chennai in September 2. The cases include illegal detention of a 14-year-old boy and brutal assault by Thiruthangal policemen in Virudhunagar district in which the boy lost his right eye in 2014 and rape of a minor girl by policemen in Tiruvarur, Ariyalur, Pudukottai and Thanjavur districts, in 2009 and 2010. Kuravans, an underprivileged community with 10 lakh members, form the sixth largest scheduled caste population in Tamil Nadu. They are also living in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. But the community has been demanding that the Union government notify them as Scheduled Tribes (ST). Basically hunters, they of late started eking out an living by making articles of household out of bamboo and palm leaves following a ban on hunting. They are also involved in rearing pigs. Their traditional professions also include tattooing and fortune telling using parrots. (Times of India 18/11/14)

WOMEN

11. 6 in 10 Indian men admit violence on wives: UN study  (8)

New Delhi: Six out of 10 Indian men, especially those experiencing economic stress or those who faced discrimination as children, have admitted acting violently against their wives or partners at some point of time, according to a study released here on Monday. The study, Masculinity, Intimate Partner Violence and Son Preference in India, highlights unequal balance of power between men and women in India, prevalence of intimate partner abuse, and high preference for a male child. “What we found is that in India, rigid forms of masculinity where men exhibit controlling behaviours and inequitable gender attitudes, strongly determines their preference of sons over daughters as well as their tendency to perpetuate violence against an intimate partner,” revealed the study launched at the four-day Second MenEngage Global Symposium. The research for the study was conducted in seven states Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh — and involved 9,205 men and 3,158 women, aged between 18 and 49 years. Most of these states show a strong boy preference and have an adverse sex ratio at birth, ranging between 832 and 938 girls for every 1,000 boys. A staggering 75 per cent or three-fourths of men in Odisha and Uttar Pradesh admitted inflicting violence on their intimate partners, followed by 66.1 per cent in Rajasthan and 61.9 in Madhya Pradesh. The figures were much lower in Maharashtra (37 per cent) and Punjab/Haryana (43 per cent). Around two out of five men in these seven states are so rigid in their masculinity that they believe “women should neither be seen or heard.” The men characterised their masculinity by exercising control and admitted controlling to women to the extent that one in three did not allow their wives to wear clothes of their choice and 66 per cent believed that they had greater say than their wife/partner in the important decision that affect them. Seventy-five per cent expected their partners agree to sex at all times and over 50 per cent did not expect their partners to use contraceptives without permission. The study, by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Washington-headquartered International Centre for Research on Women, said only 52 per cent women said they had experienced some form of violence during their lifetime. But, according to the study, the reason was that women were reluctant to report intimate partner violence due to a feeling of shame or fear of social stigma. They may have also believed such acts were normal in a relationship and expected men to exert some control on their lives. Nearly 38 per cent women have experiences of physical abuse such as being kicked, slapped, choked and burned. This was followed by emotional, sexual and economic violence. “Central to the problem of gender-based violence in India is that Indian men and women have been socialised to believe that men’s dominance over women is normal and acts of violence against women are justified,” the study explained, adding that women were expected to be “tolerant” and “accepting.” (Asian Age 11/11/14)

12. 61 women killed, 40 raped this year : UNMM (8)

Imphal, November 11 2014: Altogether 61 women have been murdered and 40 raped till November 10 this year, according to data compiled by the United NGOs Mission Manipur (UNMM) . Speaking to media persons at Manipur Press Club here today, UNMM women committee convenor Sobita Mangshatabam said that 61 women have been murdered and 40 raped in the State in the past 10 months and 10 days. Of the 61 women killed, 24 were murdered in the most ghastly manner. Out of them, four were below 10 years and they were murdered after being raped. One 18 year old girl was also murdered after being raped. 16 women including 13 housewives were found dead under controversial circumstances. Of the 13 housewives, four were pregnant. 16 other women died by allegedly committing suicide. Two women were killed in bomb blasts. Three other women died during or after child delivery. Sobita pointed out that procreation is impossible without women. Of the 61 women who have died or have been murdered this year, reproductive system of 57 were active. These 57 women had the capacity to bear 558 children at the rate of nine children per woman. If Manipuri women are killed continuously in such manner, migrants would definitely outgrow the indigenous population shortly. Of the 40 women raped this year, 26 were below 18 years of age and 13 below 10 years. In case these victims, shaken by their harrowing experiences, decide to stay unmarried throughout their lives, who would make up their reproductive capacity, Sobita asked. Even as rape and killing of civilians by security forces have come down considerably in the State, rape and killing of civilians by civilians have been rising at an alarming rate. Abuse of drugs and other intoxicating substances are closely related to many criminal activities including rape and murder. As such, the Government need to step up its counter measures against smuggling and peddling of drugs in the State, Sobita said. Till November 10 this year, there are reports of 287 cases of violence against women including rape and murder. These figures are based on what were reported in the newspapers. If the crime rate is so high, one would like to ask the 60 MLAs what they have been doing all these days, she said. Police investigation is either too slow or ineffective and the justice delivery system is not at all satisfactory, she alleged. Sobita further called upon all sections of the society to come out for an open revolt against repeated rape and murder of women in the society. (E-Pao 12/11/14)

13. Event held to spread awareness against female foeticide (8)

Gurgaon: Aimed at creating awareness against female foeticide by engaging school students, an event was held here Thursday. The event titled ‘She – The Girl Child!’ was an initiative of Paras Hospitals. The event drew nearly 40 Gurgaon school students who spoke on the topic of female foeticide in India, its causes and also suggested measures to stop the practice. In this context, Rakhee Gogoi, head of radiology department at Paras Hospitals, said doctors, especially sonologists, “have a major role to play”.”No doubt the government has developed strong measures against sex determination, but the gap still remains. It is because most of the radiologists still allow sex determination tests and such professionals should be severely punished,” she said. Poornima Savargoankar, a former scientist now associated with NGO Uthaan, told IANS that such events can help lend a voice to the cause. “As the students who participated today (Thursday) are our future, they can propagate the message at school, at their homes and everywhere they go,” she said. On the occasion, a short film themed “Let the girl child blossom” was screened. (Business Standard 13/11/14)

14. Domestic violence: Elite women most vulnerable (8)

BHOPAL: United Nation’s damning report this week about 6 out of 10 Indian men admitting to domestic violence unearths the horrific reality in society’s underbelly. While Odisha and Uttar Pradesh hog the hall of shame, the situation in Madhya Pradesh is no better. According to one-stop crisis centre in Bhopal, India’s first centre aimed at protecting women from violence, it’s educated, urban women who face the brunt of abuse in Madhya Pradesh. And, all this in the cloak of marriage and within four walls of home. The centre received more than 500 cases of domestic violence in five months, most of which are lodged by the women from elite and middle class families. This fact is corroborated by the UN report which states more than 35% men in Madhya Pradesh expressed “rigid masculinity with highly negative gender attitudes”.While the major reason of domestic violence amid rural women still continues to be dowry, urban women are subjected to violence for being “independent”, according to the OSCC. Rekha Sharma 28 was battered by her husband for not quitting her job and becoming a full-time homemaker. Her husband, who was earlier comfortable with Rekha working in a MNC soon grew insecure of her high salary package. When Rekha arrived at OSCC looking for help, the centre called her husband and his parents. Surprisingly, instead of accepting his mistake, he accused Rekha of being mentally unstable. But what was more disappointing was the fact that Rekha’s parents still wanted her to go back to her husband despite the torture. Similarly, when Lata Dubey, 31, an IT professional from Bhopal wanted to continue with her career after becoming a mother, sparks flew. Not only was she given an ultimatum to choose between her child and job, she was also accused of infidelity. The daily arguments and her husband’s fury would end up leaving Lata with bruises. She filed for a divorce for domestic violence and mental harassment.”People think an educated urban woman leads a happy life, but no one knows what’s going on behind closed doors. These women from decent backgrounds are treated with brutality by their husband and in-laws for trying to create their own identity. Major reasons for violence faced by woman in marriage are triggered by jealousy, insecurity and ego. In many cases, parents of women are not supportive. They want them to endure the violence and call it a personal matter or a passing phase,” said Sarika Sinha of Action Aid that volunteers activities of OSCC. OSCC received more than 500 cases of domestic violence in five months, most of which are lodged by women from elite and middle class families (Times of India 15/11/14)

15. 14,570 Plaints, Just 416 cases Get Registered (8)

MADURAI: In a stunning revelation by a reply to a Right to Information Act (RTI) query, the City Police and the Madurai Rural Police have registered only 416 cases out of a total of 14,570 complaints on crimes against women and children during the past three years. The RTI information obtained by Madurai-based advocate R Vignesh from the Madurai Commissioner of Police and Superintendent of Police, Madurai (Rural) shows that while crime against women and children has steadily increased from 2011 to 2014, both police forces seem to have been reluctant to register such crimes. The advocate also sought details on cases such as dowry, harassment, rape, eve teasing and other atrocities against women and children. The Madurai Commissioner of Police stated that during the three-year period, 5,393 complaints were received by Tallakulam, Town and South all women police stations (AWPS) but only 95 cases were registered. The reply also said that 3,435 cases were dropped and the rest were referred to the District Social Welfare Officer. Rural Superintendent of Police (SP) said that Tiruparankundram, Melur, Thirumangalam, Samayapuram and Tirumangalam police stations have received 9,177 complaints but registered only 321 cases. City-based lawyer Anand said that the police were least bothered about a Supreme Court order in the Lalitha Kumari case making first information report (FIR) mandatory for all cases. (New Indian Express 17/11/14)

16. Rs 100cr-plus corpus likely for women survivors of crime (8)

LUCKNOW : Inaugurating the state’s most modernised control room on Wednesday, Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is likely to announce a corpus fund for women, apparently on the initiative of his wife and MP of the ruling party Dimple Yadav. The corpus fund of around Rs 100-150 crore is to be earmarked for protection and rehabilitation of women who are survivors of violence and crime. Dimple has been raising the issue of crime against women from different platforms and personally too has asked her chief minister husband to strengthen protection of women in the state. At the party’s national convention of women on Monday, Dimple Yadav had also expressed her concern over the alarming rate of foeticide in the country and appealed to check it at the earliest. It is learnt that Dimple Yadav has been pursuing the government to earmark some funds for rehabilitation of women survivors of violence within the family and outside too. “At times it has been seen that a woman becomes an outcaste once she is assaulted or molested. The state has decided to intervene in such cases too,” informed a senior government official, adding that part of the fund would be extracted from the labour cess while remaining would be borne by the state. In the previous BSP regime, then chief minister Mayawati had asked for Scheduled Caste survivors of rape be given compensation. Senior police officers were seen doling out compensation to the rape survivors in many places, but the BSP scheme created resentment as non-Dalit survivors were denied compensation Samajwadi Party government has planned the survivors of violence of any caste be compensated adequately so that they live respectably and also contest the case in court. Under the scheme, the government would set up counseling centres allover the state in every district to guide the survivors in legal matters and also to help them lead a respectable life. The counseling centres would also provide skill training to women survivors to make them self-reliant. (Times of India 19/11/14)

CHILDREN/ CHILD LABOUR

17. 25 schools form panel to raise awareness on child rights (14)

Mangaluru: Children from Ranipura School while highlighting rights of children through a song and dance, at Prajna Counselling centre as a part of its programme on “Prajna’s step towards women and child empowerment,” said that 25 schools in Mangalore and Bantwal have formed a committee to raise awareness on child rights. The committee meets and discusses on activities to increase awareness. The problems faced by the children in their schools are brought to the notice of the Gram Panchayat President, said the kids. The event is aimed at creating awareness through songs, dance, skits and street-plays about child rights. It was a part of the activities conducted by Prajna’s Empowerment and Participation of Women and Children Projects. Explaining computer training programme imparted at the Centre, co-ordinator Geetha Pandith said that the destitute poor kids and unemployed women are imparted training in animation. For a cartoon story which she has written entitled ‘Druthi and Drutali,’ destitute Mubeena has drawn illustrations. Elaborating Mubeena’s experience, she said that she wanted to pursue her studies after fourth standard. However, owing to poverty, her mother pushed her to work in a house. I was ill treated by the employees in Chikkamagaluru. Later, I came to Mangalore to work in a house, from where I escaped and landed in Prajna centre. Looking at my drawings, Geetha madam taught me animation, illustrations using computer.” Beneficiary of CFI programme, Pathunhi said, “we women spend majority of our time sitting inside four walls of the house. After I became member of SHG, I started saving money and preparing phenol, soaps and pearl necklaces and imitation jewellery. With the money I earned, I was strong enough to educate my daughter who is a lawyer now. My grand daughter is pursuing MBBS.” Chinnara Tangudhama, an initiative of SSA and Prajna Counselling Centre,  teacher Veena said that 270 kids were enrolled to the Thangudhama. At present, 30 kids are pursuing their studies. A total of 177 students have already been brought to the mainstream schools through Thangudhama. Deputy Commissioner A B Ibrahim said that NGOs play a pivotal role in implementing various welfare schemes of the government. The Prajna Counselling centre should spread its wings and open its centre in other districts. The district administration will provide all the helping hand to the activities of the Prajna counselling centre. Senior civil judge Ganesh B also spoke. (Deccan Herald 12/11/14)

18. Nobel Laureate Satyarthi appeals to ‘save childhood’ on Children’s Day (14)

New Delhi: Calling child trafficking the “worst form” of human rights violation, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi on Thursday made a strong appeal to “save the childhood” of every child. On the eve of the 125th birth anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, celebrated nationwide as Children’s Day, Satyarthi said it is imperative that the society takes care of the right to education, health and freedom of every child. “Child trafficking is the worst form of human rights violation. It makes me cry when children are taken away and sold cheaper than cattle,” he said. NHRC Chairperson Justice K G Balakrishnan, who also spoke during the interaction organised by NHRC during its two-day National Seminar on Prison Reforms, said that the society is in “complete denial” on the issue of child labour. “The fact that large number of child labourers continue to work in factories and elsewhere do not seem to affect us. All these we completely deny,” he said. Noting that it was only in the beginning of the 1990s that the concept of child rights came to exist, Satyarthi said that it was otherwise couched in the package of “charity”.”When I started working during the initial eighties the concept of child right didn’t even exist. There was no child labour law in India until 1986. Although it was only after the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) came into effect that the concept made a shift from charity to rights,” the Nobel Peace Prize winner said. Terming it as a period of “paradigm shift”, he said that it was then that the discourse on child labour and rights were beginning to be viewed from the “human rights prospective”.60-year-old Satyarthi, was on October 10 named for this year’s Nobel Peace prize along with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai. He has been working for child rights for over 30 years through Bachpan Bachao Andolan, the NGO which is credited with freeing over 80,000 child labourers across India. (Zee News 14/11/14)

19. Govt plans law for complete ban on child labour (14)

NEW DELHI: The government is likely to introduce a key legislation that proposes a complete ban on child labour in all sectors in the coming winter session of Parliament. The legislation aims to amend the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act to bring it in tune with the Right To Education (RTE) Act, which makes education compulsory for all children up to the age of 14. Though the proposal for complete ban on child labour up to 14 years of age was once cleared by the Cabinet, it could not get parliamentary approval. Under existing laws, child labour is not a punishable offence in some “non-hazardous” sectors such as farming. It was argued that there should not be any discrimination on working in hazardous or non-hazardous industry in terms of the ban. The proposal aims to ban all work for children under the age of 14 and restrict non-hazardous work to adolescents between the age of 14 and 18. Employing a child under 14 for any work — hazardous or non-hazardous — will be a cognizable offence punishable with imprisonment up to two years or a fine up to Rs 50,000 or both, an increase from the current one-year jail or Rs 20,000 punishment. Repeat offenders can be imprisoned for up to three years. Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi has urged Parliament to pass a strong anti-child labour law in the upcoming session. He has demand complete ban on all forms of child labour and bringing the law in sync with RTE Act. He sought prohibition of employment of children between 14-18 years in hazardous occupations and processes. (Times of India 17/11/14)

20. Kailash Satyarthi calls for global action to end child slavery (14)

LONDON: Nobel peace laureate Kailash Satyarthi called on Monday for global support for a campaign to end child slavery that will be launched this week as new figures estimated almost 36 million people are living as slaves today. Satyarthi, who was the surprise co-recipient of this year’s Nobel peace prize for his work fighting child slavery and exploitation in India, said not enough was being done to protect children from lives of servitude. His comments came as the second global slavery index by the Walk Free Foundation, an Australia-based human rights group, estimated 35.8 million are born into servitude, trafficked for sex work, trapped in debt bondage or exploited in forced labour. The International Labour Organisation estimates that there are 21 million people in forced labour worldwide, of which 5.5 million, or 26 percent, are aged under 18. Satyarthi, 60, whose non-government organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) has been credited with freeing over 80,000 child labourers in India over the past 30 years, urged global backing for an “End Child Slavery Week” campaign that will be launched at the Trust Women conference in London this week. “(We must) build new alliances and partnerships that help us march towards the goal of creating a society free from child slavery,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the eve of the conference on trafficking and other women’s rights issues. “The fight against child slavery is the fight against traditional mindset, policy deficit and lack of accountability and urgency for children across the globe.” The campaign is an initiative involving various groups including the Global March against Child Labour, Anti-Slavery International, Education International, International Trade Union Confederation, Kids Rights Foundation and the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Satyarthi was little known when he was awarded this year’s Nobel prize along with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai who has become a global icon for girls’ education after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban. When the prize was announced on Oct. 10 he only had 100 followers on Twitter. Now he has over 45,000. In India, however, Delhi-based BBA is known for staging often dramatic rescues of child labourers, many sold into servitude by poor families, and rehabilitating them in residential homes. Aware that 70 percent of child labourers come from villages, BBA has also created nearly 400 “model villages” in India which are free from child exploitation and promote children’s education and address traditions such as child marriage. Satyarthi, who founded BBA in 1980 after quitting his job as an electrical engineer, said winning the Nobel Prize had created unprecedented attention for all forms of economic exploitation, violence, denial of education and other child rights. Satyarthi, who will address the Trust Women’s conference organised by the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Wednesday and help launch the End Child Slavery campaign, said a major challenge was to maintain attention on this issue. As part of the End Child Slavery Week campaign, the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Monday launched #Choosetosee, a strategic initiative with a video and petition to fight child slavery. “As the anti-slavery community, we must together ensure that this attention is transferred into concrete action and results,” Satyarthi said. (Times of India 19/11/14)

MINORITIES – GENERAL

21. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi vows security to minorities (7)

New Delhi: Newly-inducted Union minister of state for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who took charge on Tuesday, said the government will work towards providing “security and prosperity” to various minority communities of the country. He said the Narendra Modi government, through its principles of good governance, will work in this regard. He said one of his priority areas would be to provide opportunities of development for the last man in queue without any discrimination. According to him, the role of the minority affairs ministry has become crucial at a time when a “political effort” is on to create a sense of mistrust among minorities. “The minority affairs ministry has an important role to play. Its role becomes all the more crucial at a time when a political effort is being made to create a sense of mistrust among minorities,” said the minister after taking charge of his office. He, however, did not name any political party. “We have to keep away brokers and middlemen. People say much of the schemes have remained on paper and nothing is reflected on ground. I want the ministry to reach the people with its schemes… People are feeling secluded. That has to go,” he said. Mr Naqvi said he would choose areas where he would focus and ensure a proper ground assessment of the works done by the ministry. Before taking over, Mr Naqvi, who was inducted into the Union council of ministers on Sunday, met his senior minister Najma Heptulla. (Asian Age 12/11/14)

22. Minorities under attack in Bengal: BJP MLA (7)

KOLKATA: Shamik Bhattacharya, the lone BJP MLA in West Bengal Assembly, today alleged that minorities and the poor were under attack in the state and the government was refraining from taking any step. “Minorities, marginal farmers and the poor are being attacked by ruling Trinamool Congress in the state for which they are joining our party,” Bhattacharya told reporters after staging a walk-out from the house. Referring to Birbhum, where four persons were injured in a clash between BJP and ruling TMC activists at troubled Parui in Birbhum district during a visit by BJP state president Rahul Sinha to a nearby village, said the government was frequently changing the officer-in-charge of the police station but was ‘not doing what needed to be done’. The law and order situation in Birbhum was ‘very alarming’ and BJP’s minority supporters were subject to attacks and torture by Trinamool Congress activists, he alleged. BJP state president Rahul Sinha’s car was attacked at Imadpur in Birbhum district yesterday when he was going to address a meeting at troubled Parui village, he said. “The Birbhum district Trinamool president is virtually playing the role of the district SP,” he alleged and added that BJP had wanted a statement from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the law and order situation in Birbhum. “If not the CM, the parliamentary affairs minister could have given the statement”, he said. He criticised West Bengal Minorities Commission for keeping its ‘eyes closed’. “Where are they? The panel members are not to seen around even the minorities are being attacked.” (Times of India 13/11/4)

23. 90 Per Cent of Poor in India, South Africa Are Minorities: Former Justice Yacoob (7)

HYDERABAD: Achieving equality in society is the only solution to eliminate poverty in this world, said Justice Zakeria ‘Zac’ Yacoob, Retired Justice of Constitutional Court of South Africa at the 13th CD Deshmukh memorial lecture here on Saturday. His lecture was on the topic ‘Equality, Non-discrimination, Religion and Disability: South Africa and India’. “Once everybody in the society treats everyone equally, poverty will automatically be eliminated,” he said. He reminded that more than 90 percent of the poor in South Africa and India are from the minority classes. Yacoob, who has been working in the field of Socio-economic Rights for a long time, said he strongly believes that discrimination is based on various factors such as race and religion. It has become one of the biggest hurdles in the path towards development across the world. He said both India and South Africa stand on the same position when it comes to inequality and discrimination against the vulnerable groups. However, Yacoob felt that ‘race’ has been the most common factor for discrimination in both the countries. “Perhaps that is the reason, constitutions of both the countries chose to give reservations based on race,” he said. From his research on the social development of both the countries for past few decades, he said minorities have always been oppressed, while the majority section continues to dominate. In the context of formation of Telangana state, Yacoob felt the new state is the result of discrimination that Telangana people faced for years. And now the state has manyopportunities to achieve social and economic development. “Every time a new state is formed, there is a great desire for development,” he said. He said he finds hope in the fact that oppressed communities such as the Dalits in India and Black Africans in South Africa are now doing well in various fields like education and business. “The change is happening, but it is at a slow pace,” he added. Organised by the Council for Social Development, the memorial lecture was attended by the research scholars and students from Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), University of Hyderabad (UoH) and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). (New Indian Express 16/11/14)

MINORITIES – MUSLIMS

24. Shiv Sena presents Muslim skull cap to Eknath Khadse (7)

Mumbai: The Shiv Sena has claimed to have presented a green cap to revenue and minority affairs minister Eknath Khadse on the first day of special session of the Assembly for his alleged “soft corner” for Muslims. However, Mr Khadse has denied the incident. Opposing the proposal by Mr Khadse to introduce Urdu as an optional subject for students studying in Marathi-medium schools in the state, Shiv Sena MLC Diwakar Raote brought a green skull cap to the Assembly on Monday. “Nobody has demanded this. Even if one student opts for Urdu, a teacher will have to be appointed, arrangements made for namaz and other requirements. What is the need for this?” Mr Raote asked. However, Mr Khadse denied the claim he was given a skull cap. “I received appreciation from Muslims, including MIM MLAs. Even a representative of Shahi Imam called to inquire about the decision,” said Mr Khadse. “My intention is very clear. The Muslims should be brought into mainstream; they should get education like other students studying in Marathi medium schools,” he said. He further added, “There are only 0.25 per cent Muslim officials in government jobs due to lack of proper education. We want to change the situation.” (Asian Age 11/11/14)

25.  ‘Court stay will impede Muslim integration into mainstream’ (7)

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has observed that an interim stay on reservation in education for the 50 sub-castes of Muslims specified by Maharashtra government “will certainly impede the process of drawing the Muslim youths into the mainstream of secular education.” In its judgment on Friday, the court refused to grant interim stay on Maharashtra government’s ordinance giving five per cent reservation to Muslims in education. But the court granted interim stay to reservation for specified Muslims sub-castes in government jobs on the grounds that “the State has no power to breach the ceiling limit of 50 per cent.” It also said that five per cent additional educational reservation could not be imposed on private and unaided educational institutes as it would be an unreasonable restriction on their fundamental right. While relying on Sachar Committee report, Justice Ranganath Mishra Committee report, report of the Maharashtra State Minority Commission and Dr. Mehmood-ur-Rehman Study Group report, the court said there was quantifiable data for the formation of the ‘Special Backward Category’ consisting of the 50 sub-castes of the Muslim community. “In the present case, the material relied upon by the State government for determining the backwardness of the Specified Communities of Muslims, at least prima facie, spells out a case for the existence of an extraordinary situation, in which the State government was justified in exceeding the ceiling limit of 50 per cent by another 5 per cent insofar as reservations in educational institutions is concerned,” the court said in its order.The court denied the petitioners’ contention that reservation was granted to Muslims only on the basis of their religion, and was thus against the spirit of the Constitution. “In the first place, the impugned Ordinance is clear, inasmuch as the reservation is for certain specified communities from out of Muslims and not for members of the Muslim community in general or in entirety. Secondly, both Articles 15(1) and 16(2) prohibit discrimination against any citizen on grounds only of religion. Since the State Government has relied upon the relevant indicators for the purposes of determining backwardness of 50 sub-castes of Muslim community, we see no infringement of Articles 15(1) and 16(2) of the Constitution of India,” the court said. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

26. West Bengal turf war as TMC loses ground to BJP (7)

New Delhi: In BJP’s “Mission Bengal”, the saffron forces have begun matching the Trinamul Congress’ muscle power. In the last few months, there have been over 400 clashes between the TMC and the BJP in Bengal, with the maximum being reported from Birbhum district. What is worrying the Trinamul is that Muslims are also shifting towards the BJP. The state BJP leadership has claimed that over 1.75 lakh Muslims have joined the party. Over the last few months, Birbhum has emerged as the epicentre of clashes between BJP and Trinamul Congress workers. While three people have been killed so far, scores of others have been injured in clashes which have now become a regular feature in various villages in Birbhum district. The BJP, some feel, was being able to “stand up to the Trinamul’s muscle power” as a large number of CPI(M) and Congress workers are moving towards saffron forces. Sources revealed that some villages in Birbhum district have become BJP strongholds and Trinamul workers were trying to take back lost territories. For instance, a major clash happened on October 27 in a village under Panrui police station in Birbhum district. After the Lok Sabha polls, the saffron forces had moved in to take control of the village. Interestingly, Birbhum district is a Muslim-dominated region. Alarm bells have begun to ring as the Muslims in these areas have started moving towards the BJP. The party’s state unit president, Mr Rahul Sinha, has claimed that 1.75 lakh Muslims have joined the saffron party after Mr Modi became Prime Minister. If Mr Sinha’s claim is to be believed, another major shift is taking place in Bengal’s Muslim votebank. The minority community, which was the traditional votebank of the Left, shifted to the Trinamul during the last Assembly elections in the state. The BJP is hopeful and repeatedly claiming that the majority of this votebank, which amounts to nearly 33 per cent in the state, was shifting rapidly towards the saffron camp. The BJP, which is eyeing Bengal, is preparing to contest at least 150 of the 294 seats during the Assembly polls in the state in 2016. However, Bengal watchers even in the BJP feel that this could be a “Herculean task”. Trinamul Congress leaders, while talking about the BJP, secretly acknowledge that “Modi magic is working in Bengal”. But how much of it will translate into votes remains to be seen, he said. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

27. In poll-bound Kashmir, BJP banks on Muslim clerics (7)

Srinagar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has deployed Islamic clerics from other states for canvassing in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley to boost its chances in the five-phase state election that begins this month. A key campaigner for the party is Deoband-based Maulana Suhaib Qasmi who heads the Jamaat Ulema-e-Hind that reportedly has about 16,000 clerics as its members. Qasmi’s endorsement of the BJP hasn’t surprised analysts since he openly supported Narendra Modi ahead of the Lok Sabha polls this year. “They (the clerics) are here to clear misconceptions about the party. They are here to tell people that BJP is not anti-Muslim,” said Altaf Thakur, the party’s media in-charge in Jammu and Kashmir. Confident of its chances in the core Hindu belt of Jammu, the BJP is going all out in the Valley with the target of winning 44 of the state’s 87 assembly seats. The Lok Sabha elections gave the party a head start as it won three of the six seats in the state with Modi’s popularity pulling Hindu votes towards the BJP. Qasmi, who said during the parliamentary polls that Muslims should barter support for development, says Kashmir is craving for growth and Modi is the only leader who can accomplish this. “We are here to listen to problems of the people and help find solutions,” he said. The cleric said those judging Modi must go beyond the 2002 Gujarat riots narrative as the country also witnessed several instances of communal violence under Congress-led regimes. Qasmi said the PM’s “Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas” slogan is in the right spirit and “there is hardly any rally where he (Modi) has not mentioned Muslims.” Apart from Muslims, the BJP is trying to woo social media users in a big way. The party has called in seven IT experts from Mumbai, setting up a media war room in Srinagar’s Raj Bagh area. Shakeel-ul-Rehman, who heads the party’s social media cell in Jammu and Kashmir, said his team will be sending out constant updates on Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp to inform and engage voters. “We will be telling people about the party’s aim, promises and also give updates about rallies, interactions across the state,” he said. (Hindustan Times 19/11/14)

MINORITIES – CHRISTIANS

28. Nine Pak Christian families forced to leave their homes (7)

Lahore: Nine Pakistani Christian families have reportedly been forced to leave their houses after a man of their community married a Muslim woman in Sahiwal district of Punjab, the third such incident in the province. Shahab Masih, a young man of the Christian community, married a Muslim woman Rukhsana Kausar, who is in her early 20s last month, Abid Masih said. “Last month the couple contracted a court marriage. The Muslims of the village warned us to produce the girl or face serious consequences. We told them that Shahab lived in Khanewal and they should better visit his place to settle the issue but to no avail,” he said. Shahab from Khanewal district of Punjab, some 400 kilometers from Lahore, often visited his relatives in Sahiwal where he developed friendship with the girl. Jamil Husain, the girl’s father, has filed an abduction case in Shahkot police against Shahab, his two family members. “It was not only the FIR against my two family members, but the whole Muslim community of the village turned against the Christians and started hurling death threats at us. The Christian elders of the locality then finally decided to leave their village and sought refuge?somewhere else to save their lives,” Abid said. This was the third such incident in recent times in Punjab when the Christians families have been forced by Muslims to leave their residences. The other two incidents took place in Sargodha and Narowal districts. The police have registered a case against Shahab Masih and others for kidnapping a Muslim girl, Sub-Inspector Muhammad Riaz said. He said the police also received an application from the Christians of the village that they had been receiving threats related to the case. “We have arrested no one as yet. Knowing the sensitivity of the case we will lay hand on anyone after a thorough probe,” Riaz said. “We have brought the matter to the knowledge of the Punjab home secretary. The 25 members of?nine families have to leave their residences and shops in Sahiwal because they had serious threats from the Muslims of area,” said Aslam Sahotra, Christian leader and head of Human Liberation Front Pakistan. Sahotra requested Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to provide security to the affected Christians and ensure their resettlement. Last week, a Muslim mob burnt alive a young Christian couple after throwing them in the brick kiln furnace on the charges of allegedly desecrating the Quran. (Zee News 13/11/14)

29. Catholic Church in State All Set to Celebrate Canonisation (7)

KOCHI: The Catholic Church in Kerala is all set to celebrate the canonisation of Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sr Euphrasia Eluvathingal. Various functions are being organised in Kochi, Ollur and Mannanam. In Kochi, functions are being held at Kakkanad and Koonammavu, where Fr Chavara was laid to rest, first. Fr Chavara  and Sr Euphrasia  will be elevated to sainthood by Pope Francis at a ceremony to be held in Vatican on November 23.  On November 24, a thanksgiving Holy Mass in Syro Malabar Rite will be celebrated at the main altar of the St Peters Basilica in Vatican. “Special prayers will be held at Mannanam, Koonammavu and Ollur on the day of canonisation. A thanksgiving Holy Mass will be celebrated at Kakkanad on November 29,” said Syro Malankatra Catholic Church Cardinal Baselius Cleemis. Cardinal Baselius Cleemis will deliver a speech on the occasion. Priests and  bishops of the Latin Church and the Malankara Catholic Church will attend the function. A procession carrying holy relics from Mannanam and Ollur will reach Kakkanad on the day. Syro Malabar Church head Cardinal Mar George Alencherry will be the main celebrant at the Holy Mass. “Prior to the Mass, Pope Francis will address the faithful from Kerala. Around 1 lakh people, in different groups, are expected to attend the ceremonies in Vatican,” Cardinal Alencherry said at a press conference in Kochi on Thursday. “Delegations representing the Central and State governments will attend the ceremonies in Vatican. Ministers K C Joseph and P J Joseph are expected to represent the State Government,” he said. The official celebration of the Kerala Catholic Church will be held On November 29.  There will be a thanksgiving Holy Mass at Rajagiri Valley (on the ground of Rajagiri College of Engineering), followed by a public meeting. “Apostolic Nuncio to India Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio will inaugurate the public meeting, which will be presided over by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Heads of various Christian denominations, SC Judge Justice Krian Joseph and representatives of various religions and political parties  will attend. Around 50,000 people are expected to take part in the  celebration,” the cardinal said. CMI former General Fr Paul Achandi said that  social welfare projects worth `1 crore will be launched to mark the historic event. The projects include housing scheme, treatment aid for cancer patients and  financial aid for students. Replying to a query, Cardinal Alencherry said that there was no dispute over the final resting place of Fr Chavara. Nobody ever disputed the importance Konnammavu holds in the life of Fr Chavara. Though Vatican recognises Mannanam as his resting place, it does not belittle the importance of Koonammavu, where Fr Chavara spent the last years of his life and died. Also, at first, he was buried at Koonammavu. The mortal remains were taken to Mannanam with the consent of the then religious and civil authorities, and there are documents to prove it. When Vatican initiated the proceedings for the canonisation, the tomb at Mannanam was opened for exhuming. Thus, Vatican recognises Mannanam as his resting place,” the Cardinal said. (New Indian Express 14/11/14)

30. Priests conduct mass for Dalit Christians near RS Mangalam (7)

RAMANATHAPURAM: The raging controversy over the expulsion of Dalit seminarian G. Michael Raja of Diocese of Sivaganga, allegedly for indiscipline, took a new turn on Friday with priests from other dioceses in the State conducting a mass for Dalit Christians in connection with ‘All Souls Day’ near RS Mangalam in this district. Ever since the Dalit seminarian was suspended from the seminary three years ago after he had completed the theology course, Dalit Christians have raised a banner of revolt against the Diocese of Sivaganga, comprising churches in Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts and ‘restrained’ priests from visiting the Dalit villages. After violence broke out in Oriyur Church over the issue two years ago, the Diocese of Sivaganga withdrew residential parish priests in at least 10 parishes, comprising Dalit villages in Devakottai, RS Mangalam, Tiruvadanai and Thondi blocks for security reasons and appointed administrators for each parish to help the devotees in conducting services. As parish priests refrained from visiting the parish and sub station churches in Dalit villages, masses could not be organised in these villages during festivals and important occasions. On All Souls Day on November 2, the Dalit Christians could just visit the cemeteries and offer prayers as parish priests were not available to conduct the mass. Against this backdrop, about 13 priests from the Dioceses of Chengalpattu, Chennai, Thanjavur, Puducherry, Kumbakonam and Tirunelveli visited Saveriyar Nagar near RS Mangalam in this district and conducted mass for Dalit Christians for All Souls Day. They visited the village at the request of local Dalit Christians. “We could not say no when people call us for prayers and conduct masses,” A Aruldoss, President of the Tamil Nadu Dalit Christian Makkal Kootaimuppu said quoting a priest. Parish priests were not visiting more than 100 sub station churches in Dalit villages, he said. Meanwhile, Rev. S. Michael Raj, spokesman of the Diocese of Sivaganga took objection to priests from other dioceses conducting the mass without the permission of the Bishop of Sivaganga Diocese. “This is not only indiscipline, but amounted to promoting divisions,” he said. The diocese was ready to conduct prayers in churches in Dalit villages provided they gave up the demand for the ordination of Raja and cooperated with the diocese, he added. (The Hindu 15/11/14)

31. Modi Government’s Decision Ruffles Catholic Feathers (7)

NEW DELHI: Two Indian Catholics are about to attain ‘sainthood’ in Vatican and Narendra Modi Government has decided to send a three-member delegation to Vatican for the canonisation ceremony as a mark of respect. The story should have ended on a happy note there. But it has not, thanks to the ‘secular’ nature of the delegation. The canonisation ceremony-where two revered Catholic figures — Fr Kuriakose Elias Chavara and Sr Euphrasia Eluvathinkal, will be declared as ‘saints’ by Pope Francis – will be held on November 23. The Modi Government’s decision has stirred up factional feelings within the Christian community as the delegation has no Catholics in it. As of now, the delegation is being led by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien and two other MPs. Kurien is a Marthomite and he owes no allegiance to the Pope or Rome. The other two members are TDP MP P Raveendra Babu and Nagaland Peoples Front MP Neiphiu Rio. While the former is a Hindu, Neiphiu, a three-time Nagaland Chief Minister, is a Protestant Christian. “All delegations till date had included Catholics. It is for the first time that an official Indian delegation is going to Vatican with no Catholics in it,” said Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) spokesperson Fr K C Joseph. “We don’t know whether it is deliberate. But why should the Centre send non-Catholics, who do not look up to Rome or the Pope, to this sacred function,” asked another priest with the CBCI. He said that the previous 13-member delegation for the canonisation of St Alphonsa during the UPA Government in 2008, comprised entirely of Catholics. The delegation was headed by the then Union Labour and Employment Minister Oscar Fernandes and he was accompanied by K M Mani, K V Thomas, P C Thomas and others. The CBCI is planning to take up the matter with the PM, said the priest. But sources in the government said there will not be any change in the members of the delegation. “The government decided to send a delegation as the CBCI had written to both the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) requesting the same. And when the Centre sends a delegation, it has to be secular in nature,” said the official. He further said that two of the members are Christians. When the intricate variations in denominations was pointed out, the official said that a secular government need not think about all these intricacies in a hair splitting manner. “It is an official delegation and whoever goes, he or she is representing the country,’’ he said. He pointed out that it was Vice-President Hamid Ansari who had represented the country when Pope Francis was anointed. “But that was an official function as Pope is also the Head of the Vatican. But this is purely a religious function,’’ said a priest. (New Indian Express 16/11/14)

32. Christian organisations protest against ‘The Lost Gospel’ (7)

ONGOLE: Members of three Christian organisations staged a demonstration at the busy Church Centre here on Monday taking strong objection to the contents of ‘The Lost Gospel’ book by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie A. Wilson. Leading the protest, members of the All India Trust Christian Council, College Of Bible Technology and Church of Christian said the duo had hurt the sentiments of believers by making unwarranted references to Jesus. According to Bible, Jesus did not marry, maintained AITCC Ongole unit president Ch.Venkateswarulu and Br. E.Babu Rao and Br. N. Lucas and, principals of College of Bible Technology at Ongole and Kanigiri respectively. (The Hindu 19/11/14)

REFUGEES/ MIGRANTS

33. U.N. says 13.6 million displaced by wars in Iraq and Syria (13)

Geneva: About 13.6 million people, equivalent to the population of London, have been displaced by conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and many are without food or shelter as winter starts, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Tuesday. Amin Awad, UNHCR`s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said the world was becoming numb to the refugees` needs. “Now when we talk about a million people displaced over two months, or 500,000 overnight, the world is just not responding,” he told reporters in Geneva. The 13.6 million include 7.2 million displaced within Syria – an increase from a long-held U.N. estimate of 6.5 million – as well as 3.3 million Syrian refugees abroad. In Iraq, 1.9 million have been displaced this year by tribal fighting and the advance of Islamic State, adding to 1 million previously displaced, and 190,000 have left the country to seek safety. The vast majority of Syrian refugees have gone to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq or Turkey, which Awad said “are putting us all to shame” with their support for homeless Syrian families. “Other countries in the world, especially the Europeans and beyond, should open their borders and share the burden.” The U.N. World Food Programme has cut rations for 4.25 million people and lack of funds could force a break in its supplies next month for refugees, spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told Reuters. WFP recently received new pledges that may have averted immediate cuts, Byrs said, although it still needs $325 million to cover its operations for Syria and the region for the rest of 2014. “Until these pledges are confirmed, WFP`s actual funding situation remains dire, with cuts in assistance anticipated during the upcoming winter,” she said. UNHCR says it is short of $58.5 million in donations to prepare 990,000 people for winter, forcing it to prioritise help for people at higher, colder altitudes and for more vulnerable cases, such as newborn babies. U.N. figures show that leading donors include the European Union, United States, Japan, Norway and some Gulf Arab countries. The data show Russia and China have each provided just 0.1 percent of the total humanitarian funding raised by donors this year for Syria. “Politically they cannot really be indifferent, therefore humanitarian (aid) is an imperative and it has to be put first and foremost if there is no (political) settlement … They need to contribute one way or the other, like the others do,” he said. (Zee News 12/11/14)

34. Concessions for Af-Pak Hindu, Sikh refugees (13)

New Delhi: The government on Thursday announced a number of concessions for Hindu and Sikh refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which includes relaxation in the procedure for granting them Indian citizenship. Home minister Rajnath Singh has approved a proposal for manual acceptance of applications for granting of Indian citizenship to minority community nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India prior to December 31, 2009. There are about one lakh minority community refugees from Pakistan and Afghanistan living in India. The home ministry has said that eligible applicants who were facing difficulties in submitting online applications can now submit the same manually along with their passports. However, the long term visa of the applicant should be valid at the time of submitting the citizenship application at the office of the district magistrate, collector or deputy commissioner, an MHA statement said. An affidavit filed before the authority prescribed under Rule 38 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009, will be considered in lieu of renunciation certificate, it said. In a significant move, the home ministry also said that the children of such refugees, who entered India on the basis of their parents’ passport, can also apply without passport for the grant of Indian citizenship after the regularisation of their stay in India. Similar relaxation has been provided to children of such persons born in India and they will also be able to apply without passport for grant of Indian citizenship after regularisation of their stay in the country. These children will have to register with the foreigners registration office in the district concerned for the regularisation. The decision came after the home minister took into consideration the difficulties being faced by minority community nationals of Pakistan and Afghanistan in submitting their applications for grant of Indian citizenship. There are about 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities such as Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Many Sikh refugees live in Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and UP. (Asian Age 14/11/14)

35. Sri Lankan refugees begin fast (13)

TIRUCHI: Twenty-six, including 25 Sri Lankan refugees, who have been quarantined at a special camp at the Central Prison here, started a fast on Saturday, demanding the early completion of the cases against them. They are facing charges, including illegal entry and suspected association with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Many of them were recently transferred to the special camp here from different camps in the State. A Malaysian citizen is among them. Sources said the 26 persons did not have breakfast and lunch. They told the authorities that they would not take food unless there was an assurance that the cases against them were settled soon. It was unfair to conduct the trial of the cases for so long when peace prevailed in Sri Lanka, they said. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

36. ‘Thousands of Rohingya migrants missing’ (13)

Bankok: Thousands of Rohingya boat people who have left Myanmar in the past month have yet to reach their destinations, say relatives and an advocacy group for the persecuted minority, raising fears their boats have been prevented from reaching shore. About 12,000 Rohingya, a mostly stateless Muslim people, have left the western Myanmar state of Rakhine since October 15, said Chris Lewa of the Arakan Project, which plots migration across the Bay of Bengal. Another 4,000 boat people, both Rohingya and Bangladeshis, left neighbouring Bangladesh during the same period, said Lewa. The boat people are headed for Malaysia, but most transit through Thailand, where smugglers and traffickers hold them at jungle camps near the Malaysian border until relatives pay ransoms to secure their release. About 460 boat people were found and detained by the Thai authorities in November, but thousands more have not made landfall or contacted relatives after what is usually a five-day voyage. “Where are they?” said Lewa. “We have become very concerned.” The last time so many boat people went missing was in 2008, said Lewa. Hundreds of Rohingya, many of them starving and dehydrated, were later rescued from Indonesian and Indian waters, while others were feared lost at sea. Thailand’s PM later said there were “some instances” in which Rohingya boats had been pushed out to sea to “let these people drift to other shores”, but that they had adequate food and water. Tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims were displaced in 2012 after deadly clashes with Buddhists in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Many Rohingya now live in squalid camps with little or no access to jobs, healthcare or education. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

RIGHT TO INFORMATION

37. No need for model format for replying to RTI query: Govt panel (1)

New Delhi: A government-appointed committee has rejected the need for having a standard format for replying to applications filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. It also suggested that Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs), who replies to RTI queries, should mention email ID and telephone numbers among others mandatorily while answering the applications. A three-member committee was recently formed by the government to evolve model format for RTI replies, comprising one representatives each from Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), nodal department to see implementation of the transparency law, Ministry of Home Affairs and Central Information Commission. During its meeting held late last month, the Committee observed that there is neither any provision in the RTI Act or rules for a model or standard format of filing application or replies. “There should not be a model or standard format for reply to the RTI application, as there is no such provision in the RTI Act or the RTI rules,” the panel said in its report submitted to the DoPT. However, the panel suggested certain mandatory points for adherence by the CPIOs. “The name, designation, official telephone no and email ID of the CPIOs should be clearly mentioned (in the RTI replies). In case the information requested for is denied, reasons for denial quoting the relevant sections of the RTI Act should be clearly mentioned,” it suggested. In case the information pertains to other public authority and the application is transferred, details of the public authority to whom the application is transferred should be given, the panel said. In the concluding para of the reply, there should be clearly mentioned that the First Appeal, if any, against the reply of the CPIO may be made to the First Appellate Authority within 30 days of receipt of reply of CPIO. “The name, designation, address, official telephone no and e-mail ID of the First Appellate Authority should also be clearly mentioned,” it said. Wherever the applicant has requested for certified copies of the documents or records, the CPIO should certify the documents or records by putting a seal of his name, designation and signing with date. “Above the seal, the remarks that ‘documents/records provided under the RTI Act’ should be endorsed,” the panel has suggested. The DoPT will issue necessary guidelines on the basis of the committee’s recommendation. (Zee News 11/11/14)

38. Don’t decide RTI appeals without hearing applicants: CIC (1)

New Delhi: Deciding first appeals against RTI replies without hearing the appellant by a public authority is illegal, the Central Information Commission has said in its order against the Law Ministry. Under the Right to Information Act, an appellant gets a chance to appeal twice against the order of the Central Public Information Officer who receives and answers the application. The First Appeal is filed before an officer, senior to CPIO, within the department where application is filed. The Second appeal is filed before the Central Information Commission. It is a common practice that at the First Appeal stage, public authorities do not invite applicants for hearing and decide the case on the basis of appeal filed by them. The order of Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu may help in curbing the practice of deciding the first appeals without giving a chance to the applicant to explain himself during the hearing. The case relates to number of RTI applications filed by activist R K Jain from the Law Ministry. “Passing orders in first appeal without hearing or sending hearing notice is illegal and will render the order invalid. The Commission sets aside the order of First Appellate Authority for violating RTI Act and breach of natural justice by denying the appellant a chance of presenting his case and by raising entirely a new defence which was never claimed,” Acharyulu said in the order. He said, “It deserves action though the concerned officer retired from service and recommends Public Authority to initiate disciplinary action against the concerned FAO for acting totally against the RTI Act in this case”. (Zee News 13/11/14)

39. UP officers fined for not providing information under RTI (1)

Lucknow: A fine of Rs 25,000 each was imposed on 50 officers of various departments on charges of not providing information sought under the Right to Information Act. Taking serious note of not providing information sought under RTI, the Uttar Pradesh State Information Commission has imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 each on 50 officers of various departments, an official release said here. During the meeting chaired by Information Commissioner Hafiz Usman, directives were also issued to take departmental action against some officers, it said. The commission issued notice of disciplinary action against Divisional Commissioner of Faizabad Vishal Chauhan and issued order of personal appearance on January 30. (Zee News 15/11/14)

40. Tihar averse to sharing Guru info, to move High Court (1)

New Delhi: The Tihar prison authority decided to challenge the Central Information Commission order before the Delhi high court to disclose the document related to Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging. The prison authority decision to challenge the CIC records of Guru’s hanging are unlikely to be made public soon. A communication in this regard has been sent to Aligarh-based RTI applicant Paras Nath Singh by director general of prisons at Tihar. “It is informed that prison department is going to file an appeal before the high court of Delhi against the decision of CIC,” said law officer (Prisons), Sunil Kumar. On September 26, information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu had directed the Tihar authorities to make public specific records related to the execution of Guru. The commissioner had given 10 days to the authorities to comply with the order. According to the legal position, Tihar authorities should have either procured a stay from the high court through a writ petition or provided the information. The CIC had directed the country’s largest prison to make public Guru’s death warrant along with copies of communication sent to his family informing about the date of execution. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

41. 74% accounts in Jan Dhan Yojana are with zero balance (1)

New Delhi: Around Rs 5,400 crore have been deposited in banks in over seven crore bank accounts opened under Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana of which 74% accounts are with zero balance, according to an RTI reply. The data provided by Department of Financial Services says that as on November 7, 2014 a total of 7.1 crore bank accounts have been opened of which 5.3 crore were accounts with ‘Zero balance’. The reply provided to activist Subhash Agrawal said as on November 7, the total balance in these accounts was Rs 5,482 crore. Majority of these accounts, over 4.2 crore, have been opened in rural areas, whereas in urban areas 2.9 crore have been opened. The highest number of accounts, under the scheme, have been opened by State Bank of India which started over 1.2 crore new accounts followed by Bank of Baroda which opened 38 lakh accounts and Canara Bank 37 lakh accounts, it said. PMJDY is national mission for financial inclusion to ensure access to financial services, namely, banking and savings and deposit accounts, remittance, credit, insurance, pension in an affordable manner. It focuses on coverage of households as against the earlier plan which focused on coverage of villages. An overdraft facility upto Rs 5,000 would be available to one account holder of PMJDY per household after six months of satisfactory conduct of the account. (Business Standard 18/11/14)

RIGHT TO EDUCATION

42. ‘Women Teachers Only’ Idea is Against Constitution: Lawyer (11)

BENGALURU: Teachers, ma-nagements and educationists are slamming the Home Department’s suggestion that schools hire only women to teach children up to Class 5. The department has made the suggestion, among others, in the wake of campus crimes against children.“Why do you give it a gender colour instead of tightening the guidelines?“ said Shashi Kumar D, General Secretary of the Karnataka Private Schools Association. Many managements feel male teachers are facing harsh scrutiny because of the recent spate of rapes. Both girls and boys are vulnerable to child sexual abuse, they said.  “There are two sides to a coin. On what grounds are the police doing background checks of only male staff? Do they have any evidence that women don’t commit crimes?” said Rangalakshmi Srinivasa, principal, Basaveshwara School. If schools are packed with women staff and men are completely removed from primary education, that amounts to discrimination which is illegal, said Madhusudan R Naik, senior advocate. The Constitution decrees there should be no discrimination on the basis of gender. So, no male teacher can be removed from his job just because he is male, he explained. “But if the government feels hiring women is more conducive for learning, it is acceptable as long it doesn’t deprive men of opportunities,” he said. He said in the long haul, background verification of all staff, irrespective of gender, should be done. Dr C Gayathri Devi, principal of Little Flower Public School and secretary of the Karnataka ICSE Schools Association, offers a different view. “While I believe everyone needs to get a fair chance at employment, women teachers can better understand the needs of young children,” she said. Mohammad Mohsin, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said, “The suggestion is not feasible. We don’t have any proposal of this nature.” (New Indian Express 12/11/14)

43. Citizens’ forum lobbies for change in education system (11)

NASHIK: The nationwide campaign by the Akhil Bharat Shiksha Adhikar Manch (All India Forum for Right to Education) for total transformation of the education system that began from November 2 reached the city on Wednesday to create awareness about the Right to Education and protest against the commercialisation of education. The western zone of the forum that began from Goa and travelled through Kolhapur, Konkan, Pune and Sangamner, reached the city at 9 am near the Shivaji statue at Nashik Road. It was joined by the Forum Against Commercialisation of Education (FACE), the coordinator of the programme in North Maharashtra, and other like-minded organisations. From there the activists then proceeded to the office of the deputy director of education and handed over a memorandum of their demands. Rallies, a human chain, seminars, meetings, a street play and discussions against commercialisation of education and other related issues were carried out throughout the day in the city. Contentious issues of private schools and the NMC’s B D Bhalekar High School were also discussed with various education institutes and parents. The forum, which comprises of 40 organisations, along with other like-minded associations, began the campaign from five different places in the country. A total of 200 organisations are participating in it The activists staged a dharna in front of St Francis High School, Tidke Colony, which came to the limelight recently for alleged fee hike. “We have been fighting against the escalating fee hike by the school for a year now,” said Chhaya Deo of FACE. Later, during an open discussion at B D Bhalekar High School, a parent, Sanjay Patil, said the school has been hiking the fees every year by 15% in the last four years and this year, it increased the fees by 25%, following which, the parents protested. “There is a limit to how much the parents can tolerate. Ashoka Universal School and Rasbihari International School have also hiked their fees illegally. Parents of all these schools should come together and fight against this fee hike,” Patil said. Bhalekar School, which was closed last year due to the dwindling number of students, was restarted this year following the persistence of the activists and the civic body. The activists took a rally to the NMC headquarters and demanded the removal of NMC’s education officer Gotise. They also enacted a street play related to all the issues crippling education. Gotise was unavailable for comment. (Times of India 13/11/14)

44. Yatra focus: prevention of commercialisation of education (11)

Mandya: The All-India Forum for Right to Education (AIFRTE) Yatra against commercialisation and communalisation of education, which was flagged off at Kanyakumari on November 2, arrived at Mandya on Thursday. Students from a few educational institutions and members of non-governmental organisations offered a warm reception to the Yatra on its arrival at Sri Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar Cirlce on Bangalore-Mysore highway. It had reached Srirangapatna on Wednesday. The Yatra, which is meant to create public awareness about the need to avert commercialisation and communalisation of education, later went to Pandavapura and K.R. Pet, members of the AIFRTE told presspersons here. After halting for a while at the circle, the Yatra reached Gandhi Bhavan, where a symposium on education was held. In his address, AIFRTE member G. Haragopal said that the objective of the Yatra was to mobilise public opinion for protesting commercialisation and communalisation of education. “We should fight against all forms of discrimination in education. Free and common education system across the nation is the need of the hour,” he said. Kannada Kriya Samiti member S.R. Sudarshan, advocate B.T. Vishvanath, Venkatagiriaiah, Prashanth Babu, writer H.L. Kehsva Murthy, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader Rajegowda, Guruprasad Keregodu, Muthu, C. Lakshman and AIFRTE members were present. The yatra will culminate at Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh on December 4, after covering various States and Union Territories, the AIFRTE members said. A booklet on education was released on the occasion. (The Hindu 15/11/14)

45. Students want board exams back (11)

NEW DELHI: Students on Monday asked the government to scrap the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) system in schools and bring back the board examinations. The students felt that the present system was having an adverse impact on academic growth as several of them were not taking studies seriously. In a first-of-its-kind interaction with Minister for Human Resource Development (HRD) Smriti Irani here, students told her that the no-detention policy stipulated under the Right to Education Act should also be scrapped. “The CCE is not doing any good to school students. As there is no system of board examinations now, most of the students take their studies for granted. Those faring well feel demotivated because the grading system does not reflect their actual performance. There must be a fear of examination among students so that they work hard,” a student of Delhi’s Modern School suggested. A small delegation of students from more than 12 schools, both private and government, from Delhi, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir were invited by the HRD Ministry to interact with the minister and suggest changes in the school education system that can improve the quality of education. Students highlighted several loopholes in the implementation of the CCE in schools and rejected its relevance, saying many complete their project work by lifting contents from Internet. Though, the minister did not express her views on their suggestions, many officials in the ministry felt that some “course correction” was urgently required to prevent further “damage” that CCE was causing on student’s academic growth.  Students also suggested that arrangements should be made at the school for career counselling right from the Class XI, saying most of the children remain clueless about their future even when they reach Class XI or XII. Most of the students of class XI and XII complained that they had to look for coaching institutes for preparation of joint entrance test (JEE)  conducted for admissions to Indian Institutes of Technology and other technical institutes because what they are taught at their schools were inadequate to meet the standard of the test. “The standard of JEE is not at par with what we are taught in schools. Why don’t we have an education system where students do not require to look for costly coaching institutes for preparation of competitive examination?” a student of DPS RK Puram said. The students vehemently criticised the text books of the National Council of Education Research and Training, saying books on science, mathematics and other subjects are not updated andare not up to the standards. Students suggested that some changes should be brought both in the school syllabus and the JEE pattern to fill the gap in the system. On this, Irani suggested that central board of secondary education and IITs should “sit together” and find a solution. Eva Sharma, a class XI student of Delhi’s Kamal Model School, told the minister to introduce counselling for parents also.  “I am studying biology and other science subjects because my mother wants me to become a doctor but I am interested in History. There should be counselling for parents also,” she said. (Deccan Herald 18/11/14)

RIGHT TO FOOD/ HUNGER

46. Poverty forces 16-year-old girl to commit suicide in UP (21)

Mathura: Abject poverty forced a teenaged girl to commit suicide Tuesday evening in village Hola of Mathura district, police said. Dolly, 16, left a suicide note behind in which she said she was taking the extreme step due to poverty. The villagers wanted to cremate her body but the police took it away for post-mortem examination. Her father had died some years ago leaving behind her along with two sisters and two brothers. Her mother grazes goats for others. Villagers said Dolly was about to be married in December but arranging dowry was proving to be a huge burden. (New Kerala 12/11/14)

47. Malnutrition due to lack of awareness: World Bank (21)

New Delhi: India’s woes with malnutrition is little to do with poverty or food insecurity, but is exasperated by inadequacies in child care, feeding information and awareness, the latest World Bank report has said. “Appropriate infant and young child feeding practices even in the highest wealth quintile are extremely poor. Effective interventions, which cover the three critical determinants, when provided at scale during the first 1,000 days of life, can reduce stunting and improve under-nutrition significantly,” said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director in India while releasing the Nutrition in India report on Thursday. The report says stunting in children from households in middle and upper wealth quintiles is also quite high – about 50 and 25 per cent respectively. It reveals that even amongst the wealthiest Indians, the top third of the wealth distribution, only about 7 percent children between 6 and 24 months receive adequate feeding, health care and environmental health. “While nearly 70 percent of them have adequate environmental health (water and sanitation), only 36 percent receive appropriate health care and an even lower about 18 percent are fed recommended quality and quantity of food for their age,” the report says. (Deccan Herald 14/11/14)

48. Maharashtra Government Plans to Link Ration Cards With Aadhaar (21)

MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government is mulling a proposal to link ration cards with Aadhaar numbers so as  to enhance the Public Distribution System (PDS) in the state. The move is being planned with a view to ensuring that the benefits provided by the government reach the beneficiaries and the process remains transparent. “The Narendra Modi government at the Centre has been very enthusiastic about the food security scheme. In keeping with that, the state government, too, has shown its keenness in continuing with the scheme in Maharashtra minus the loopholes in the PDS,” Deepak Kapoor, Food and Civil Supplies Secretary told PTI. The senior officer said that the state Cabinet has asked the administration to be ready with a presentation on the food security scheme, initiated by the previous UPA government at the Centre, following which a final decision to link the two will be taken. “We will be dividing our presentation into three parts. First, we have to present the current scenario to the government, which would help them gauge the situation on ground. We will also be presenting a financial picture which would help assess the cost structure. “We will finally be putting in our suggestions, after considering which, the Cabinet will take a final call,” he said. “It is here that we will suggest to the government to link ration cards with Aadhaar numbers so that the right beneficiary gets benefits and the role of middlemen can be contained,” Kapoor said. At present, the number of people below poverty line (BPL) in Maharashtra is around 7 crore, while 1.8 crore are registered as Above Poverty Line (APL) beneficiaries. A total of 2.32 crore ration cards are already digitised with the state administration. The Director of the Information and Technology department, Virendra Singh, said that the administration is ready to link Aadhaar numbers of ration cardholders at any given point of time. (New Indian Express 15/11/14)

49. Bihar govt to bring all SC, ST, EBC people under BPL ambit (21)

PATNA: No FIR would be registered against any of the Vikas Mitras (VMs) across the state without prior permission from the SC/ST welfare department, said chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi at a skill development workshop for them on Tuesday. He said there were people who were branding the VMs as Left-wing extremists as they have to organize meetings in nondescript areas as part of their assignment. Manjhi was responding to the request made by Patna divisional commissioner Narmadeshwar Lal who urged him to ensure better treatment for the VMs. Lal was all praise for the VMs working in the area of his jurisdiction and said they were did a commendable job during the preparations for Chhath festival. Regarding the anomalies in the list of below poverty line (BPL) people in the state, he said a rule will be formulated after the cabinet nod in the current calendar to include people from the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and extremely backward castes (EBCs) in the list provided they aren’t eligible for paying income tax and don’t own a four-wheeler or a large residential premises or land more than five acres. Speaking further, the CM said those possessing tractors or houses with less than five rooms would also be included in the BPL list. In another important announcement, the CM said tola sevaks, VMs and homeguard jawans would also be incorporated in the list because they were not regular government employees provided they comply with the said norms. He said the persons in the above three categories can also take the benefits of Indira Awas Yojana. The CM said the government is planning to open the state unit of Ambedkar Foundation and Dashrath Manjhi Research Institute in Bihar. Evoking the VMs to give their best for the uplift of the members of the marginalized sections of the society, Manjhi said the state government would reward the best of the lot at state, district, subdivision and block levels. Elaborating on the bounty, he said the awards would fetch Rs 10 lakh, Rs 1 lakh, Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000, respectively. He also promised Rs 50,000 medical insurance cover to the Tola Sevaks and VMs. The CM said the 500 vacant posts of VMs would be filled soon. (Times of India 19/11/14)

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

50. NHRC Direction to State on NREGA (14)

BHUBANESWAR: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday directed the State Government to take immediate steps for payment of wages to people who have availed work under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA). Protestations of State Government citing non-release of funds from Centre notwithstanding, the single member bench of SC Sinha said it was the Government’s responsibility to make the payments. The poor people who take up labour under the scheme do not know who is going to pay their wages. Their due wages should be paid on time, Sinha observed at the start of the two-day camp sitting of the Commission here on Monday. The Commission took up the petition, filed by rights activist Akhand, regarding non-payment of the wages as the first case of the sitting. Appearing before the bench, Panchayati Raj Secretary DK Singh submitted that payments were affected as Centre has not released funds for over two months. Wage overdue on the Government under MGNREGA has accumulated to over `200 crore. Funds available with the State Government exhausted 15 days back, bringing wage payments to complete standstill. Compensation in lieu of delayed payments has also not been released since 2013-14. Further, the works under the programme cannot be stopped as the law mandates provisioning of job to any one who applies for it, Singh stated. The Commission had earlier sought an action taken report from State Chief Secretary in the matter. Akhand had appealed for directions to Government to strictly adhere to the rules in terms of timely payment and compensation. In another case, the bench also took up the problem of bonded labour and the plight and suffering of such people and directed the Government to initiate comprehensive steps for their rehabilitation. Sinha asked Collectors of Bargarh and Balangir, which are beset with the problem, to ensure that the labourers rescued from other States are covered under different welfare and social security schemes of both the Centre and State Government. The Commission is set to take up over 55 cases pertaining to the State in its two-day sitting. Open house discussion with common people and NGOs will be held on November 12. Sinha is also scheduled to conduct meeting with Chief Secretary GC Pati and senior Government officials on the day. (New Indian Express 11/11/14Z)

51. Centre not ready to amend labour Acts (14)

New Delhi: The Centre is not yet ready to amend labour laws on the lines of the Rajasthan government’s changes, according to sources. “It is still early to make any move towards bringing such amendments,” said a senior labour ministry official, who did not wish to be named. President Pranab Mukherjee had on Friday given his assent to Rajasthan’s amendment to three laws – the Factories Act, Industrial Dispute Act and Contract Labour Act. Since labour is on the concurrent list of the Constitution, both the Centre and states can frame their own laws. While industry has termed it a move to attract investments, central trade unions are viewing it as a pro-industry and anti-labour move. The official cited above said the Union government wants to examine how the changes in these rules work out in Rajasthan before taking any decision. “Right now, tripartite consultation is going on,” said the official. After Rajasthan, the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet, too, approved amendments on similar lines. Among the major steps taken by the Rajasthan government are the one allowing companies employing up to 300 people to lay off workers or close down the company without taking the government’s prior approval. Earlier, only those with less than 100 employees were allowed to do so. The ministry official also raised the contention that the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government doesn’t have a clear majority in the Rajya Sabha, which could be seen as a hurdle in passing any labour law. Notably, the Opposition had created an uproar in the Lok Sabha when the Centre introduced amendment Bills for the Factories Act and Apprentices Act in the Budget session in August. The opposition parties demanded the Bill be sent to a Parliamentary Standing Committee. While the Apprentices Act was cleared by the Lok Sabha, it has to be passed in the Rajya Sabha as well. Apart from these two bills, the Labour Laws (Exemption from Furnishing Returns and Maintaining Registers by Certain Establishments) Act, which was cleared by the Cabinet in July this year, is awaiting introduction in both the Houses. The Centre is planning to introduce a Bill, which seeks a blanket ban on child labour, in the upcoming winter session. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Bill will bring the law in consistency with the Right to Education Act by banning employment of children below 14 years of age in any occupation. The Winter Session of Parliament will begin on November 24. (Business Standard 12/11/14)

52. Unorganised sector labourers demand fair pay (14)

KOLKATA: : Even the daima (midwife) at district health centre get a better pay than us even though we serve as helpers to doctors, said Sarma Rajak who works as a ‘link person’ at a health centre at Nasipur village in Malda district of West Bengal. Several people like Ms. Rajak assembled here on Tuesday to participate in a rally demanding their rights; they have prepared a charter of demands on fixing of a minimum wage for all types of labourers. With the State witnessing the shutdown of several tea estates, the charter also demanded that the government immediately open the tea estates, declare minimum wage for tea workers and provide for land or a house for tea workers. “I started working as a link person from 2005 and have been paid Rs. 100 per month ever since then. Now we realise that our wage should have been Rs. 6,600,” Ms. Rajak said. She was accompanied by 50 other link persons from Malda. As a link person, she is expected to accompany doctors during their visits and administer vaccines to pregnant ladies and infants. Writing letters and meeting officials at the local Block Development Office has been of no help as their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, she said. Majority of India’s working force is employed in the unorganised sector, which denies them the benefits of government-regulated welfare schemes like minimum wages, public provident fund, pension, etc. “No one from our village (Hasnabad in North 24 Parganas district) was employed under the 100-day scheme in the past one year. Wages of many people, who had earlier worked under the scheme, have still not been cleared. The situation has worsened ever since the ruling All India Trinamool Congress came to power,” Utpal Sarkar, who heads a union of unorganised sector labourers in the village, said. (The Hindu 13/11/14)

52. Union Government Limits MGNREGA to 69 Taluks (14)

BENGALURU: The Narendra Modi government, which has recently cut the funds to the state for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), has now limited the scheme to cover just 69 most backward taluks. According to an official source, the Union Ministry of Rural Development has sent a communication to the state government asking it to focus on the most backward taluks, instead of all the 176 taluks, while preparing the labour budget for 2015-16. Under MGNREGA guidelines, the district programme coordinator of the scheme prepares the labour budget in December every year, anticipating the demand for employment. The most backward taluks were identified after considering the percentage of the population coming under below poverty line  as per the 2013 Planning Commission estimates. The Union Government had shortlisted 2,500 most backward taluks in the country after excluding 4,076 taluks following the intensive participatory planning exercise. For Gujarat, 77 of the 223 taluks have been retained under the scheme, while for Goa it’s one taluk, Andhra Pradesh 539 (655) and Uttar Pradesh 403 (823). Confirming the restriction in the number of taluks under the scheme, an official in the state Rural Development and Panchayat Raj said, “The state government has appealed to the Union Rural Development Ministry to increase the number of backward taluks to 100.” Reacting to the revised guidelines, former Yadgir Zilla Panchayat member Naganagouda Patil said, “It is nothing but a body blow to the world’s largest rural job guarantee scheme.” He added that the Union Government has also stipulated stringent guidelines for Gram Panchayats to utilise the funds, including holding four gram sabhas in a year to monitor the scheme, which is practically impossible. (New Indian Express 17/11/14)

54. 44 p.c. of rescued bonded labourers are from north India (14)

MADURAI: Periodic intervention by voluntary agencies to rescue bonded workers not withstanding, bonded labour is prevalent in many districts of Tamil Nadu in rice mills, brick kilns and other places. Details of prevalence of bonded labour, obtained by Evidence, a Madurai-based non-governmental organisation, using the Right to Information Act, for the period from January 2010 to June 2014 reveal that 44 per cent of rescued workers were from Orissa and other northern States. Most of the released workers belonged to Scheduled Castes and many employers had engaged children in their units. But no arrest had been made during the period even after registration of cases. According to the RTI data, 864 bonded workers were rescued from nine districts during the period. They included 52 children (below 14 years) and 420 women. Tiruvallur district accounted for the highest number of 509 bonded labourers, and 379 among them were from North India. Interestingly, there are no bonded workers in The Nilgiris, Theni, Tiruchi, Tiruvarur, Tuticorin, Karur and Dindigul districts as per the data. According to the applicant, data could not be obtained for Cuddalore, Madurai, Nagapattinam, Sivaganga, Tiruvannamalai, Villupuram, Ramanathapuram and Krishnagiri districts. Though the laws are clear that a rescued bonded labour shall get Rs.20,000 and 2.5 cents of land, a survey conducted by Evidence indicates that only six persons among the 864 had received Rs.20,000. As many as 165 rescued labourers got Rs.19,000; three of them were given Rs.2000 each; 690 labourers received just Rs.1,000 and three could get 2.5 cents of land each. The replies under the RTI Act also showed that 551 persons were engaged in rice mills, 106 in brick kilns, 78 in sugarcane cutting and other menial jobs. According to A. Kadir, executive director, Evidence, 131 cases had been booked against the employers but not a single person had been arrested. (The Hindu 19/11/14)

RESERVATION

55. ‘Recruitment of sweepers subject to final verdict’ (25)

JAIPUR: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday said the appointment of safai karmacharis in the state would be subject to the final disposal of a writ petition challenging the recruitment process initiated by the department of local bodies as it has not followed the reservation policy in these appointments. Justice Mohammad Rafiq issued the order on a petition filed by one Bhajanlal Saini. The director of local bodies had announced the recruitment of 30,000 safai karmacharis in May last year and it has initiated the selection process. However, mid way through the recruitment process, the director, via a corrigendum, said the recruitment would be held in two phases. In the first phase, vacancy of 20,000 candidates would be filled from general category and Scheduled Castes only. In the second phase, vacancy of 10,000 candidates would be filled from the remaining castes (ST and OBC). The petitioner’s counsel R K Gautam argued that his client, who neither belonged to the general nor the Scheduled Caste category, had been ousted from the competition in the first phase due to the directive. He said the action of the director of local bodies in changing the pattern and criteria of the exam after initiating of the selection process is apparently bad, illegal and unreasonable. (Times of India 11/11/14)

56. HC ‘no’ to quota in state judicial services (25)

PATNA: The Patna high court has quashed the government notification that provided for reservation to backward classes in judicial services in the state. Passing the order, a division bench of Justice Rekha M Doshit and Justice Ashwini Kumar Singh on Monday opined reservation system gives an opening to “substandard candidates” in the administration. “Reservation in public services is more a political manifesto than a necessity, and the effort is to appease the masses by including more and more castes and communities in one or another reserved category without reference to necessary criteria such as normal profession of the community concerned or educational level,” observed the bench and added the impact of reservation on the efficiency of administration is one factor that is totally overlooked. In June 2009, the state government had amended the ‘Bihar Civil Service (Judicial Branch) (Recruitment) Rules, 1955′. The amendment introduced ‘rule 3A’ according to which “‘The Bihar Reservation of Vacancies in Post and Services (for SCs, STs and OBCs) Act 1991′ (as amended from time to time) shall also apply to direct recruitment to the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division).” This led to 50% reservation in the service. A similar amendment was made to the ‘Bihar Superior Judicial Service Rules, 1951′ by introducing rule 4A. This was applicable in case of direct recruitment to the post of additional district and sessions judge. The HC order came on a writ petition filed by one Dayanand Singh and others. The order reads, “Although the state is empowered to provide reservation to SCs, STs and OBCs, the Constitution does not compel the state to provide such reservation nor does it restrict the extent to which such reservation can be provided. Probably, the Constitution makers relied on the wisdom of the state to provide reservation only to the extent it is necessary, maintaining efficiency in the administration.” As provided under the 1991 Act, if candidates in reserved categories are able to secure general standard of selection, they are accommodated on general category posts. Commenting on the quality of reserved category candidates, the court observed, “Those reserved category candidates who are appointed on reserved posts are necessarily candidates of below general standard of selection. In other words, they are necessarily below average or below par, though it sounds derogatory, substandard candidates.” The number of sanctioned judicial posts is not more than 1,500 in Bihar. If 50% officers of such a small cadre are selected on the basis of reservation, who are below general standard of selection, it would certainly impair the dispensation of justice, the court said and added it was satisfied with adequate representation of backward classes at all levels in the state judiciary and, as such, reservation for them was not required. Principal additional advocate general Lalit Kishore told TOI the state government would soon challenge the high court’s judgment in the apex court. “I personally don’t agree with the notion that reservation would adversely affect quality of judicial services.” (Times of India 13/11/14)

57. ‘Reservation decision taken in hurry’ (25)

Mumvai: After making an entry into the Maharashtra state Assembly for the first time with two MLAs, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi has alleged that the erstwhile Congress-NCP government took the decision of providing reservation to the Maratha and Muslim communities in haste ahead of the elections. He added that the reservation issue wasn’t properly advocated in the Bombay high court that led the court into giving a ruling against the reservation decision. Mr Owaisi was in Ahmednagar to meet the family of the Dalits killed in Javkheda. “Reservation to Maratha and Muslim communities was given keeping the polls in mind and thus haste was shown in taking the decision by the previous government,” Mr Owaisi told reporters. Commenting on the issue of Dalit killings, he blamed Congress for failing to provide justice in similar cases. “If the Congress government would have punished the convicts of the previous cases, then such incidents would not have been repeated,” he stressed. He also protested against the statement of Solapur Congress MLA Praniti Shinde for terming AIMIM anti-national. He said that at the time of taking support to save its government at the Centre AIMIM wasn’t anti-national. Alleging it was anti-national, Ms Shinde had recently asked for a ban on AIMIM for which a defamation notice has also been served to her. Mr Owaisi also indicated that his party would field its candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections against Sushilkumar Shinde, former Union home minister in Solapur. “The secular ‘burkha’ of Congress has been torn apart. Is Congress a stamp paper to certify people as secular?” he asked. Taking potshots at another Congress and former minister MLA Abdul Sattar, Mr Owaisi called him a ‘joker’. “We are determined towards developmental works and to provide basic facilities to the people,” he said. (Asian Age 17/11/14)

58. Government Promises 12 pc Quota for STs (25)

HYDERABAD: The State government proposes to provide 12 per cent reservation to Scheduled Tribes. Replying to a question raised by T Venkateshwarlu and others, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao said the government has constituted the Telangana State Tribal Advisory Council by issuing a GO in August this year and is in the process of constituing a Telangana State Commission for STs. On implementation of the quota, the Chief Minister said it is under the active consideration of the government and the proposed enhancement of reservation would  be implemented at the earliest. For the benefit of farmers, the government is implementing the Rythu Bandhu scheme. Orders were issued in July for enhancement of pledge loan from Rs  1 lakh to Rs  2 lakh or 75 per cent of value of the pledge stock. Replying to a question raised by Divakar Rao and others, Minister for Irrigation T Harish Rao said that as many as 10,416 farmers have been benefited. They include Warangal (344), Khammam (2,522), Nalgonda (4,481),  Adilabad (41), Karimanagar (81), Mahbubnagar (74), Nizamabad (2,971), Rangareddy (49), Medak (4) and Hyderabad  (29). The government will constitute a special tribunal with judicial powers to protect and safeguard Wakf properties.  In reply to a question, the Chief Minister said thousands of acres of Wakf land worth crores of rupees had been encroached in the last several years. The government proposes to develop a garden on the lines of Brindavan Gardens in Mysuru near Lower Manair Dam in Karimnagar district. The Chief Minister said based on a request from the State government, the Union Ministry of Tourism has prioritised a project in 2014-15 to develop Karimnagar and surrounding places as a tourism destination. Under phase-1 of the project, a detailed project report with an outlay of Rs  502.36 lakh was submitted to the Central government. Work will begin after the release of funds from the Central government.(New Indian Express 19/11/14)

HUMAN RIGHTS/ CIVIL SOCIETY/ NHRC

59. NHRC asks Odisha government to take action against absentee doctors (1)

Bhubaneswar: NHRC on Tuesday asked Odisha government to take stern action against doctors found abstaining from duty. The directions were issued by NHRC member S C Sinha to the secretary to the health and family welfare department while hearing a petition on the plight of poor patients due to lack of doctors in rural pockets. The state government has so far identified 423 doctors who regularly abstain from their places of posting. “We are taking actions against such doctors. This apart, the state government haS already started taking steps to fill up vacant posts by appointing ad hoc doctors. The government has also hiked the remmuneration of contractual doctors in order to encorage them,” health and family welfare secretary Arati Ahuja said. NHRC also criticised the government for the plight of the tribal and dalit students in state-run school hostels and sought to know why a single agency was not formed to look after the students in tribal schools and hostels. While the school and mass education department was in-charge of the schools, the scheduled tribe and scheduled caste welfare department look into the affairs of the school hostels. The commission also asked the government to include migrant labourers under different social security schemes like MGNREGA, pension scheme and others, besides taking tough steps against liquor shops if they sell to persons below 21 years of age. In Odisha the legal age of drinking is 21, official sources said. (DNA 11/11/14)

60. Amnesty welcomes Machael verdict (1)

Srinagar: Amnesty International said on Thursday that it welcomes recent measures taken by the Indian Army “indicating a commitment to deliver justice for victims of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir.” The Amnesty Interna-tional’s optimism is based on November 12 conviction by an Army court martial of five soldiers for shooting and killing three men in a “fake encounter” and, earlier on November 7, the Army’s accepting responsibility for the killing of two Kashmiri teenagers by soldiers in Budgam district on 3 November and that it was willing to cooperate with a state police investigation into the incident, . “The military court verdict in the Machael case should be followed by justice for the many other cases of human rights violations in Jammu and Kashmir,” said Shailesh Rai, programmes director at Amnesty International India. He added: “Too often, military authorities dismiss the complaints they receive about human rights violations.” The official also said the Indian government has told UN bodies that nine out of ten complaints about human rights violations by armed forces were found to be false, but refuses to disclose more details. “The Pathribal case where soldiers charged by the CBI with murder were let off by the Army was also a reminder that the military justice system do not always lead to justice… For justice to be the rule and not the exception, all cases of human rights violations should be investigated and prosecuted by independent civilian authorities.” (Asian Age 14/11/14)

61. NHRC favours replacing of “very old” Prison Act (1)

New Delhi: Terming the 1894 Prison Act as “very old”, National Human Rights Commission on Friday recommended today that it be replaced to ensure basic human rights for prisoners. NHRC Chairperson, Justice KG Balakrishnan, also pitched for uniformity in prison manuals so that prisoners get the same privileges. “The Union Ministry of Home Affairs can also suggest some model rules for amendment in the 1894 Prison Act”, he said. He said action taken reports of different states presented some good picture of reforms in prisons but a lot was required to be done. States need to spend more on prison reforms, Justice Balakrishnan said at the end of a two-day national seminar on prison reforms. Highlighting some of the key recommendations of the seminar, NHRC Member Justice Cyriac Joseph said there was near unanimity that governments should provide sufficient funds to prisons. One important recommendation was that the 1894 Prison Act, being very old, is needed to be replaced with a new one and NHRC should prepare a draft Bill, said Joseph. Justice Balakrishnan said a large number of courts were required to be set up to clear the backlog of cases so that the undertrial prisoners do not stay in jails beyond one year to avoid overcrowding which may lead to violation of basic human rights of inmates. He also mentioned that prison should be perceived as a “home for corrective and reformative custody and care” and that prisoners were also entitled to basic human rights within the limitations of imprisonment. Another important recommendation of the conference is that prison manuals also require amendments with a human rights perspective.  (Zee News 15/11/14)

62. NHRC notice to TN govt on manual scavenging (1)

NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Tamil Nadu government for workers cleaning manholes without protective gear in Chennai on October 25 after the city received heavy rainfall. The commission observed that manual scavenging violated the fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution against discrimination on the basis of caste. It said it was inhuman and was considered one of the worst surviving symbols of untouchability. A group of workers was reportedly spotted going down the manholes to clean them despite a legislation that prohibits the employment of manual scavengers. According to a media report on October 27, the abhorrent practice continued unchecked in many parts of the city. Considering it a serious violation of human rights, NHRC issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu government, through its chief secretary, and sought a report on the steps taken to implement the provisions of Prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, within eight weeks. The commission also said it viewed the prevalence of manual scavenging as a serious intrusion on human dignity and abolition of this practice should be taken up as a national mission. (Times of India 19/11/14)

JUDICIARY/ LAW

63. Decision to amend Lokpal Act for appointment of CBI director deferred (19)

NEW DELHI: The Cabinet on Monday deferred a decision on its proposal to amend the Lokpal Act to allow leader of the single largest opposition party in Lok Sabha to be on the three-member panel to select the CBI director. This has been necessitated as there is no recognized leader of opposition in the current Lok Sabha. As per the new selection process for CBI director laid down by the Lokpal Act (through amendments made to the Delhi Police Special Establishment Act), he must be selected by a panel comprising the Prime Minister, LoP and Chief Justice of India or a Supreme Court judge to be appointed by the CJI. The proposed amendment seeks to add an explanation to the part in the Lokpal Act dealing with amendments to the DPSE relating to appointment of CBI director, stating that where there is no recognized LoP, the leader of the single largest party in the opposition may be part of the selection panel. Congress, with 44 MPs in the Lok Sabha, is the largest opposition party in the House. However, this number being less than one-tenth of total strength of the Lok Sabha, the Speaker has ruled it ineligible to claim stake to post of LoP. Mallikarjun Kharge is the Congress leader in the Lok Sabha. Sources indicated that further discussion will take place on the proposal ahead of winter session of Parliament. The amendments are likely to be moved during the session.  CBI director Ranjit Sinha’s tenure ends on December 2. The decision to give the leader of the single largest opposition in the Lok Sabha a say in appointment of CBI director is based on the opinion given by the law ministry which said it would technically not be possible to appoint a CBI chief unless leader of the opposition was present on the panel. (Times of India 11/11/14)

64. Judiciary can’t challenge Rampal’s divine powers: Mahender Das (19)

BARWALA (HISAR): Satlok Ashram head Rampal’s brother on Wednesday claimed the controversial preacher has “divine powers and is like god for lakhs of disciples” while asserting the judiciary has challenged his supremacy, “which would not be tolerated”.Mahender Das told TOI their fight was against the “atrocities” of the judiciary, and this time, it would be a “do-or-die”.Rampal has been evading the Punjab and Haryana high court’s summons. His stance had angered the court and forced it to issue fresh non-bailable warrants against him on Monday. Police were ordered to bring him to court even if he was hiding in a bunker to stand trial in a contempt case. Das clamed his brother was not well. “Don’t judges fall ill? Judges are under the wrong impression that they are lords.” He said Haryana is governed by two powers — democratically-elected government and the judiciary. “Our main grouse is against the judiciary, which has pledged to eliminate us through the draconian weapons like contempt of court.” Satlok Ashram has been turned into a fortress by Rampal’s followers. Das said the judiciary started targeting them after their ashram published three books including ‘Corrupt Judges on Wrong Path’ and ‘Nayayalaya ki Girti Garima’. He said they would not let the judiciary behave in a dictatorial way. “We are ready to die but will not bow to the judiciary’s pressure. Our protest would continue till all the cases against Rampal, including the murder charges registered in 2006, are re-investigated or withdrawn.” He said the armed youth, who formed a human chain to protect their guru, belong to the Rashtriya Samaj Sewa Samiti, which is associated with their ashram. “It is like RSS, which is a wing of the BJP. RSS also holds processions with weapons on several occasions. Why are they not being questioned or restrained? These armed volunteers are here out of their faith in Rampal Maharaj.” He said non-bailable warrants were issued against imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid last year, but the court had not taken such stern view like in their case. “We are followers of Kabirpanth, set up by Rampal Ji Maharaj, and the judiciary is deliberately attacking our rights of being a minority group.” He said no recovery of objectionable matter was shown during the trial. “That alleged recovery was made following pressure from then chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who had acted on behalf of a special group of persons.” (Times of India 13/11/14)

65. Marriage law change (19)

New Delhi, Nov. 16 (PTI): The Centre plans to bring a bill to make marriage laws more women-friendly and allow both parties to file for divorce on the ground of “irretrievable breakdown” of marriage. The law ministry has circulated a draft note on a Marriage Laws (Amendment) Bill for consultations. Once it gets feedback, it will go to the cabinet, an official said. Among the key proposals is one to provide the wife and children sufficient compensation from the husband’s immovable property in case of a divorce. Another is to allow courts the discretion to grant divorce after three years if one partner does not move a “joint application” for divorce with mutual consent. (The Telegraph 16/11/14)

66. No need for lawyers in consumer forum cases up to Rs 2 lakh (19)

NEW DELHI: In a move to encourage more people to approach consumer forums, the government has proposed to bar both consumers and sellers or service providers from hiring lawyers to fight a case if the value is less than Rs 2 lakh. This has been proposed in the Consumer Protection Law that will be amended soon. “This will mean a consumer can fight his own case and he does not have to face a legal expert from the other side. However, there are exceptions only in cases where it needs experts,” said an official of the consumer affairs department. For the first time, a provision for mediation between both the parties during the entire course of legal proceedings has also been proposed to reduce the number of pending cases in such forums. In another provision, the draft bill proposes that consumer forums have to either admit or reject a case within 21 days. If no decision is taken and the consumer is not informed during this stipulated time frame, the complaint would be deemed to be accepted after three weeks. Concerned over the pending cases in consumer forums, the department has proposed that there would be only one stage for appeal in higher forum. (Times of India 17/11/14)

67. Modi govt queues up 19 bills for passage during winter session (19)

NEW DELHI: The government has lined up 19 bills for passage during the upcoming winter session of Parliament, including the legislation to raise foreign direct investment (FDI) in the insurance sector to 49% from 26% and to appoint a regulator for the real estate sector. At least 18 more bills are likely to be introduced including the one to curb the growing menace of ponzi schemes which have robbed citizens of their savings in states like West Bengal and Odisha. The Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Amendment Bill will facilitate effective regulation of such companies and entities. The list also includes the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill to get the stamp of Parliament for the ordinance which allowed government companies and private players to carry on coal mining operations in any form either for own consumption, sale or for any other purpose in accordance with the prospecting licence or mining lease. This is seen as one of the measures to clean up the mess in the coal sector. Sources said the bills were shortlisted on Tuesday at a meeting, chaired by finance minister Arun Jaitley, where representatives from all ministries submitted their plans. The government is keen to accelerate the legislative business in Parliament after a successful first session in July. It is also expected to step up the pace of reforms and the governance process through legislations. A couple of major legislations to be introduced include the Lok Pal and Lokayuktas (Amendment) Bill and Marriage Laws (Amendment Bill). The first one seeks to replace the leader of opposition clause in the existing Act with the leader of the single largest opposition party as a member of the panel that selects the Lok Pal and Lokayuktas. The second bill seeks to introduce irretrievable breakdown as ground for divorce and will provide a woman share in the moveable and immoveable property of her husband. The amendments were passed under UPA. The government also aims to introduce two bills to protect consumers and ensure that they get quality product and services. Similarly, the Press and Registration of Books Bill seeks to define paid news and introduces penalties like cancellation of registration if a media house is found guilty of indulging in paid news. Another key legislation likely to be taken up for consideration and passage is Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment Bill) dealing with regulation of clinical trials and the medical equipment sector having separate chapters on clinical trials and medical devices. The Bill also seeks to establish the Central Drugs Authority (CDA) to regulate pharmaceuticals. The other bills include Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which provisions to ensure the rights of differently-abled persons and Prevention of Corruption that makes the act of bribing a public servant a criminal offence and creates provisions to cover all aspects of bribery, including definition of various elements of bribery. (Times of India 19/11/14)

POLICE/ AFSPA/ CUSTODIAL DEATHS

68. Step up confidence-building measures in J&K (1)

Srinagar: The inexplicable killing of two young boys by the men in uniform in Srinagar suburb last week has created ripples across Kashmir and beyond with people in unison throughout the country condemning this barbaric act. The army personnel shot the two boys dead from point blank range when it could well have shot at the windows or tyres, if the aim was to stop the vehicle, they were travelling in. There is no denying the fact that the bullets that pierced the tender bodies of the two children were intended to kill. The army apart from killing 14-year old Faisal Bhat and 20-year-old Mehraj Dar, also critically injured two of their friends travelling with them in the ill fated car. The dreadful act  is a feature of an ongoing cycle of violence people of Kashmir are facing with a feeling of nemesis descending on a population already bruised from September devastating floods. The killings are a glaring example how unsafe life of a Kashmiri is and it has once again put the question mark on the claims of army that it is the saviour of people of Jammu and Kashmir. In the latest incident, the conduct of the army was no better than that of an occupying force. For the people of Kashmir, the reality of the army being in their face and often trigger-happy, has not changed. The injured boys have clearly stated they were not warned or asked to surrender before the troops pumped bullets into the car. Unfortunately, army as an institution has always tried to justify the acts of ‘rouge’ individuals when innocents were gunned down in Kashmir. If the institution tries to defend or justify the act of violence, the whole process becomes institutionalised. Even after nearly 15 years, the army personnel involved in Pathribal fake encounter are yet to be punished despite the fact CBI investigation finding the officials guilty but the army’s own investigation gave them a clean chit. Though in the latest incident, the army, for a change, has admitted its mistake and its Northern Commander, based in Udhampur in Jammu specially flew to Srinagar to accept the mistake before the media, it is to be seen whether the promise he made that the inquiry will be completed in 10 days was aimed at calming tempers or the Government of India means business at least this time. People in Kashmir have a reason to doubt the outcome of inquiries ordered by the authorities after every such incident. They treat it as a joke and don’t believe in the results of such probes. The state government and the armed forces have ordered 63 inquiries since January 2009, to look into the circumstances leading to different incidents of human rights violations and killings by armed forces. However, only one probe was taken to a logical conclusion, which led to the arrest of a few BSF men for killing Zahid Farooq, a teenage Srinagar youth, on February 5, 2010… (Deccan Herald 11/11/14)

69. Manorama ‘mercilessly tortured’ (1)

NEW DELHI: She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station, states the report. The judicial inquiry report on the murder of Thangjam Manorama, a Manipuri girl, in 2004, handed over to the Supreme Court recently after being kept under wraps for over a decade, reveals the “brutal and merciless torture” by a 17 Assam Rifles team. The murder gave renewed impetus to calls for withdrawal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. After a decade of remaining under wraps, the report by the Judicial Inquiry Commission graphically reveals the last hours of “brutal and merciless torture” Manipuri village girl, Thangjam Manorama, suffered at the hands of a team from the 17th Assam Rifles before she was shot dead. The Manorama case led to widespread protests against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) and spurred calls for a review of the law, especially by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee in 2013. The report, submitted to the State government way back in December 2004, was never made public. This week, the government handed it over to the Supreme Court. The court had demanded it as part of a hearing on a PIL seeking probe into custodial deaths in the north-east States. “This is one of the most shocking custodial killing of a Manipuri village girl,” C. Upendra Singh, retired District and Sessions Judge, Manipur, who was Chairman of the Commission, wrote. He describes how Manorama was picked up by “a strong-armed troops of 17th Assam Rifles” in the night between July 10-11, 2004 from her home in Imphal East District. She was found dead with multiple gun shot injuries on her private parts and thighs at Ngariyan Yairipok Road, hardly two km away from a police station. The report details how the incidents of the night started with her younger brother, Thangjam Basu, watching the Hindi film Raju Chacha half past midnight, heard some noise outside. Within the next few minutes, the Assam Rifles party crashed into the house. The report said that Manorama, who was “clutching on to her mother Khumaleima”, was dragged out screaming “Ima Ima Khamu (mother, mother please stop them)”. The report said she was tortured on her front porch, as the family watched. It said how Basu remembers hearing his sister’s “muffled and dimmed voice saying Ie Khangde (do not know)” to the troops’ questions. It said the men then took her away to “places”. The report said that the two FIRs filed by the 17th Assam Rifles claimed she led them to recover Kenwood and Chinese grenades and an AK 47 rifle. It said she tried to escape and was shot in the legs. The FIRs claimed she had bled and died. The Commission report blamed the police for leaving the investigation to the “discretion and mercy” of the Assam Rifles. It narrated how the Assam Rifles had invoked the AFSPA with the Enquiry Commission. Mr. Singh said he countered that his enquiry was only a fact-finding exercise, and sanction under Section 6 of AFSPA would only come later when the personnel is found to have done wrong. The Commission said not a single one of the 16 bullets fired at Manorama hit her legs. The report called the escape story a “naked lie.” The report said most of the injuries would reveal that she was shot when “helpless”. It said some injuries suggest sexual assault too. The Commission had examined 37 witnesses. (The Hindu 14/11/14)

70. Rights activists ridicule Chidambaram for AFSPA remark (1)

IMPHAL : Human rights activists of Manipur on Saturday ridiculed former Union minister P Chidambaram for his statement that the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA) was ‘obnoxious’. They said Chidambaram should have expressed his views when he was in power. “We appreciate the former Union minister’s statement against AFSPA, but it is quite surprising that he had maintained a long silence when he was in power. The erstwhile UPA government under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had failed to scrap the Act,” said Babloo Loitongbam, executive director of Human Rights Alert (HRA). If at all he (Chidambaram) is against AFSPA, he should have taken some steps to repeal the Act when he was the Union minister, added Babloo. Another Imphal-based rights activist, while belittling Chidambaram’s statement, demanded the Centre to honour and comply with the people’s growing campaign and Irom Sharmila Chanu’s epic protest against the oppressive Act. On Friday, Chidambaram had welcomed the Army’s decision to grant life sentence to five personnel in the Machil fake encounter case in Jammu and Kashmir and termed AFSPA an ‘obnoxious law’ which had no place in a modern and civilized country. There are reports that Union minister for state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju and BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had criticized Chidambaram for making such remarks when polls are round the corner. Rijiju had termed Chidambaram’s statement ‘opportunistic and unfortunate’ and stated that while the latter was the home minister, he knew what was the situation and under what condition this law had been implemented. (Times of India 16/11/14)

71. Time for AFSPA to go (1)

The Indian army needs to be commended for having meted out exemplary punishment to the officers and jawans involved in the fake encounter at Machil. As a former armyman, one can understand the anguish and soul-searching behind this necessary and hard decision. The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which provides protection to soldiers in such circumstances, has come under scrutiny once again and calls for its repeal have reached a crescendo. There is merit in the argument that AFSPA has outlived its utility, and must go. It is worth recalling that while AFSPA was introduced in 1958, the Assam Disturbed Areas Act was enacted in 1955 to provide a legal framework for security forces to deal with the Naga insurgency. When the army was inducted soon thereafter, the then army chief in a Special Order of the Day exhorted his troops, “…you are not to fight the people of the area but to protect them (from disruptive elements)… you must therefore do everything possible to win their confidence and respect…” It is a sad commentary that half a century later, AFSPA still remains in force in the Northeast and the clamour for its revocation has come from events in Kashmir, where it was imposed in 1990. It is sadder still that despite untold sacrifices, the army seems to have lost the “confidence and respect” of the people. If that is the case, then it is time that AFSPA went. If the act is revoked, how will it affect the security of the country? First, the basics. Every Indian will agree that there can be no compromise on the territorial integrity of the country. It is the Constitution that provides that India will be a Union of States (Article 1) and it has no provision to cede territory (sub-Clause 3). Article 51 enjoins all citizens “to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India”. So any demand for separation is to be resisted. Look now at the security aspects. Our executive machinery at the district level has always had the authority to use force, requisitioning troops if necessary, to restore law and order. So, whenever the armed forces operate, they are acting in aid of the civil authority. It follows that once the situation is brought under control, the civil administration re-assumes responsibility. If the government machinery in Kashmir is prepared to assume responsibility, the army would only be happy to go back to their task of protecting the Line of Control (LoC)… (Indian Express 19/11/14)

MEDIA/ FREEDOM OF SPEECH

72. Aligarh Muslim University students slam media for ‘biased’ reports on library row (1)

ALIGARH: Aligarh Muslim University Women’s College Students’ Union (AMUWCSU) and AMU Students’ Union (AMUSU) on Wednesday organized a joint protest against alleged “biased media reports” over the issue of access to girls to the university’s central Maulana Azad Library. More than 2000 girls took out a procession culminating at the Sir Syed crossing here. “We are deeply outraged by the manner in which the media has distorted our demands for access to Maulana Azad library and has presented it in a highly biased manner,” newly-elected president of the AMUWCSU Gulfiza Khan said while addressing the protesters. She said that some misguided individuals in the media were trying to project a highly distorted version of their demand which is very painful. The protesters later burnt an effigy of a leading English news daily, which, they alleged, was spreading malicious news. The procession was being followed by a separate similar protest led by the office bearers of newly-elected students union. In a press release issued jointly by the AMUSU and AMUWCSU, the protesters said, “the AMU at present already provides an unrestricted entry to all girls from undergraduate, postgraduate and research courses”.”We demand that the HRD ministry should provide additional funds so that the Women’s College library, which is away from the main University campus, should become suitably equipped to cater to the demands of the undergraduate girls of the women’s college” they said. Referring to the reported notice issued by the HRD minister to the AMU vice-chancellor Zameer Uddin Shah, the statement said,”if the HRD minister is so concerned about the girls students at AMU, she should immediately sanction funds for upgrading the Women’s College library”.”We are deeply concerned over the manner in which communal forces in the country are distorting the entire incident and giving it a biased colour. We strongly oppose the politics of hate and division which is very harmful for the nation,” the statement further said. The joint press release also criticised the AMU VC for making “careless remarks” in this connection which led to the confusion in the entire matter. (Times of India 12/11/14)

73. Manipur journalist browbeat by MHA official (1)

IMPHAL: One ranking official of the Ministry of Home Affairs posted in Imphal is reported to have browbeat Rameshchandra Mutum, a reporter of the Hueiyen Lanpao group which brings out three newspapers on Wednesday. Rameshchandra Mutum, is reported to have taken some photographs of the official’s car which had a red beacon, on Wednesday. By a recent government order only top ranking Ministers are permitted to use red beacon. Irked over this, the MHA official asked his body guards to ask the reporter to delete the photographs. They also tried to snatch the camera. When the reporter refused to budge, they threatened to arrest him citing security reasons for taking the photographs. The issue was sorted out after a meeting between the All Manipur Working Journalists’ Union and the official. (The Hindu 13/11/14)

74. Journalists Trying to Talk to Kunal Ghosh Assaulted (1)

KOLKATA: Several journalists sustained injuries when they were assaulted by the police who tried to prevent them from interacting with suspended Trinamool Congress MP and Saradha scam accused Kunal Ghosh outside a premier state government hospital. Photojournalists who tried to take Ghosh’s pictures, as he was being taken out from an ambulance at the gates of the SSKM Hopsital, also bore the brunt of a cane-charge by the police. Ghosh, admitted to the critical care unit of the hospital since early Friday after he claimed to have taken 30-40 sedatives to “commit suicide’ in the high security Presidency Jail, had been taken to the Bangur Institute of Neurology during the day for some medical tests. Earlier while being taken out from SSKM and once he reached Bangur, the journos had managed to get Ghosh’s bytes where he demanded arrest of the “main culprits” who were “roaming outside freely. “Those (who are) guilty, must be arrested immediately. They are roaming outside freely . They are using all their might to influence the probe. They are delaying it. They are wasting time,” Ghosh said from his stretcher during those brief interactions. The Rajya Sabha member, who headed Saradha media arm before being arrested in November last year, has been for over one and half years alleging the involvement of several leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress, including its top brass in the chit fund scandal. But Saturday, after television channels aired his comments, police deployment was intensified outside the gate of the SSKM, where Ghosh was brought back after the tests. As Ghosh was being brought out from the ambulance, the journalists tried to move near him, but were stopped by the police, leading to an argument and then a scuffle with the security personnel. It was then that the police resorted to a baton charge that left some journalists and photojournalists with minor injuries. A police officer was seen using his cap to hide Ghosh’s face so that the media was unable to speak to him. Though Ghosh protested, but a police officer almost pushed him on to a stretcher. Deputy Commissioner of city police (South) Murlidhar Sharma promised action if he was shown a footage of any assault on journalists. However, he claimed that the problem lay with media management . “There was a need for proper media management here. But that was not in place. Probably we were not informed that so many mediapersons will assemble.” When a scribe pointed out that he himself was at the spot when the trouble broke out, Murlidhar said: “I cannot see everywhere.” Ghosh, now in judicial custody, had Monday threatened to to commit suicide if others involved in the scandal were not arrested within three days. He, was rushed to the hospital around 3 a.m. Friday in a partially drowsy condition and admitted to the critical care unit. Hospital director Pradip Mitra said Ghosh claimed that he had taken 30-40 Alprazolam tablets from the evening upto night time Friday “to take his own life”.Ghosh’s purported suicide attempt has landed West Bengal’s Trinamool Congress government in the eye of a storm, with the opposition and legal luminaries questioning the administration’s lack of vigil in a high-security jail on an MP who had openly declared four days back that he would attempt suicide if those involved in the swindle were not rounded up within three days. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reacted by suspending jail officials and the on-duty hospital staff, while an FIR was filed against Ghosh in a city police station for attempting suicide. (New Indian Express 15/11/14)

75. Haryana DGP downplays attack on media personnel (1)

CHANDIGARH: Haryana Director General of Police S.N. Vashisht on Tuesday sought to downplay the completely unwanted and unprovoked attack on scores of  media personnel covering the police action at Satlok Ashram in Barwala, Hisar. Some of the journalists injured in the police action, like Siddharth Pandey of NDTV, claimed that they were attacked despite being hundreds of metres away from the scene of violence. He said the attack began after some camerapersons began shooting the injured who were being dragged out from the ashram. While all through the day the electronic media showed footage of how it was attacked, Mr. Vashisht chose to play with words saying while the operation was on, “everyone’s life was in danger and the first duty of the police, which is a trained force, was to keep the media at a safe distance while bullets were being fired from the ashram.” Mr, Vashisht admitted that Times Now and Aaj Tak had called him in the morning saying their reporters were being stopped. “I gave entry to 86 media personnel and told the IG Range about it. I also sent a DSP with them. I treat media as my ally. You show the truth.” On what provoked the brutal attack on the media persons, he said “possibly some personnel treated the media badly while trying to keep them away from harm and if any one is at fault, we will investigate.” He also claimed that there were no orders to damage the cameras of the television crews.  (The Hindu 19/11/14)

COMMUNAL RIOTS

76. Why is Delhi communally restive? (7)

New Delhi: Cramped living, fierce competition, limited resources and an ever-increasing population have given Delhi its famous short fuse. But as a city, it was never communally overwrought. But the past one month has changed that. With elections set to be declared any given day, the city has seen a full-blown riot and four other instances of religion being at the centre of conflict. How this has become the city’s reality is something its residents have failed to understand. Trilokpuri, where the riots broke out on Diwali, is a place inured to violence. People from all parts of the country and religions live here. And clashes break out every other week. The 1984 anti-Sikh riots had ravaged the settlement but since then, there was never a full-blown riot. In the recent years, fights have been contained with the help of local leaders and the police. But how did a riot as severe as the one on Diwali that shut the area for five continuous days could break out in an area like this has left residents with several burning questions. And there are no clear answers. Bawana, Babarpur and Okhla, too are areas where periodic violence is common. Communal tension, however, is contained and usually resolved at the local level. Is it then a mere coincidence that polarisation has knocked on Delhi’s doors just before elections are to be announced? According to Harsh Mander, a noted social activist who has studied communal clashes extensively, riots and communal tensions follow a set template. “If left to themselves, people from different areas and communities tend to live together largely peacefully. It is political interference that causes stress and this is done in three stages,” he said. He went on specify the three stages. “The first,” he said, “is when hatred for another community is generated around a sensitive issue. These issues are usually related to places of worship, love affairs, or instances like cow slaughter. Further deterioration of the situation is achieved by organising people in a collective on the basis of this hatred. Weapons, in many cases bricks and stones, are distributed. The third important thing is allowing it to fester for some time. Strict action is not taken at the first instance.” “A riot is a carefully manufactured product. With elections round the corner, this template is being followed. But we won’t see violence that will result in loss of life as that leads to sympathy. The violence should be just enough to let people forget other problems,” he added. The role of local politicians in flaring tensions has been highlighted by the police in their report to the ministry of home affairs. Members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have also alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been instrumental in igniting communal tensions. “If it was one isolated incident, one would not have read into the motivations. But there are a number of other cases as well and there is a pattern to it. You are forced to look at the timing and context in which these things are happening. It doesn’t take too much to understand who is behind these things and who stands to gain from this polarisation,” said Yogendra Yadav, a senior leader of AAP. “It happened in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana before the election and now it is happening here. The aim is to polarise voters. I don’t have any concrete proof, which I can hand over to the police,” he added. The BJP too agrees that the clashes have been engineered to cause polarisation and blamed AAP for it. “The incident at Trilokpuri was not communal to start with. It was given a communal colour. The other incidents are also part of a larger conspiracy by people who want to create fear psychosis in the minority community. AAP is provoking such incidents to keep its voter base intact,” said Ashish Sood, general secretary, Delhi BJP. The police points out how a society which is densely populated by poor, multi-lingual, multi-regional and multi-religious people falls easy prey to communal tension. According to senior police officials, each group has its own priorities, sensibilities and response to social situations. Lack of resources, especially space, further accentuate the fight for limited resources for their community. (Hindustan Times 12/11/14)

77. Tension in Palwal: Union home ministry asks for a report.. (7)

NEW DELHI: The Union home ministry has sought a report from the new BJP government in Haryana on the communal tension that erupted in Palwal district on Tuesday night. The ministry has noted the first such incident under the new government with concern and asked Chief Minister Jagdish Khattar-led government to furnish a detailed report, officials said. Indefinite curfew has been clamped in Hathin town of Palwal district since midnight after protestors set ablaze the official vehicle of the district commissioner as well as a motorcycle showroom and a medical store. As per a preliminary intelligence report available with the home ministry, trouble started on November 11 evening when a group of Muslims offered namaz in a mosque, which is said to be a disputed structure, and the Hindu community raised objections. “Activists of Ram Sena Sangathan set ablaze some kiosks, cow dung and wooden heaps belonging to the Muslims,” the report says. Later in the night, “unidentified miscreants” set ablaze two vehicles including those belonging to the deputy commissioner of Palwal along with two stores, according to the report. “As a precautionary measure, the district administration had imposed an indefinite curfew in the town since midnight,” it adds. (Economic Times 13/11/14)

78. Dalit-Muslim clashes rattle western Uttar Pradesh again (7)

Lucknow: A village in Shamli district after the communal riotThree incidents of communal violence were reported from the volatile western part of Uttar Pradesh in the last 24 hours. On Tuesday night, Dalits and Muslims clashed at Sonata village in Shamli district over sharing water from a hand-pump. At least six houses of both the communities were set on fire by the rioters. Half-a-dozen people also sustained injuries. The Dalits alleged that they were prevented from using the hand-pump in the village. “We were not being allowed to use the hand-pump for the last one year. We used to avail the service of another hand-pump. But now we have no option because it is not working,” villager Ram Babu told the police. A large police force has been deployed to prevent further violence in the village. In another incident on Tuesday evening, a Muslim youth died of bullet injury sustained in a communal clash at Datiyana village in Muzaffarnagar district. Eyewitnesses told the police that trouble broke out when the youth tried to stop a villager from thrashing a labourer. “This led to a clash between the two communities. Both the sides fired at each other. The youth was hit by a bullet and died on his way to the hospital,” an eyewitness said. One person has been arrested in connection with the murder. Matkota area in Hathras district witnessed communal clashes on Wednesday when some people objected to dumping of construction material on the road. The construction material was meant to build a house in the locality. The clash left two people injured. (India Today 14/11/14)

79. Six communal violence incidents in UP in April-August period (7)

LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh government on Monday said that between April to August this year, six incidents of communal tension took place in the state. “In UP, six incidents of communal tension were reported between April to Aug 25, 2014″, parliamentary affairs minister Mohd Azam Khan said in Vidhan Sabha. Khan said this while replying to BJP member Satish Mahana in Vidhan Sabha during question hour. Accusing BJP for flaring up communal incidents, Khan claimed that he, “witnessed shame on the face of the BJP member when he was asking the question”.Alleging that the BJP was taking advantage of communal tension for political gains, he said, ” they took benefit of Muzaffarnagar riots. The person, who said ‘leave to Pakistan’ (for those not supporting Narendra Modi) is a central minister, those having criminal cases against them are MPs.” On controlling such incidents, Khan said that detailed directives have been issued to district police chiefs and district magistrates to check such incidents and act timely to control them. “Continued dialogue and meetings should be held with locals to counter rumours, if any and holding regular meetings of peace committees have been issued”, he said. (Times of India 18/11/14)

COMMUNALISM

80. RSS men may fill gaps in BJP left by new mantris (26)

NewDelhi: Om Mathur and Kailash Vijayvargiya, who headed party in Maha, Haryana polls, will be added to ‘Team Shah’As vacancies have been created in BJP chief Amit Shah’s team, speculation is rife that Om Mathur and Kailash Vijayvargiya, who were party’s election in-charge in Maharashtra and Haryana respectively could be accommodated. National vice presidents Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Bandaru Dattatreya along with general secretaries J.P. Nadda, Rajiv Pratap Rudy and Ram Shankar Katheriya are now part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Council of Ministers. Another vice-president Kiran Maheshwari is also part of the Vasundhara Raje’s government. Speculation is rife that leaders having proximity to the RSS have a better chance in being accommodated. Also, the party could bring down the number of its various cells to almost one-third. There were more than 40 different cells in the BJP which were recently dissolved by Mr Shah. BJP leader Mahendra Pandey, has been giving the task to trim down the number of cells and merge some of the cells. To pacify Himachal Pradesh former chief minister P.K. Dhumal’s camp, his son and party’s youth wing chief Anurag Thakur could be promoted, while Bhadhoi MP Virendra Singh could also be brought at the central level. Uttarakhand, which failed to get its representative in the Modi government, is unlikely to get any other representative than Anil Baluni in Team Shah. Mr Baluni is one of the national spokespersons of the party. Sources disclosed party wants more representations from the northeastern states and also West Bengal in Team Shah but the party faces a leadership crisis in these states. (Asian Age 11/11/14)

81. To corner BJP, Sena to fall back on Hindutva (26)

Mumbai: Shiv Sena, which has been forced to sit in the Opposition after failing to get an equitable formula to partner the BJP in the Maharashtra government, has declared its plan to revive the hardline Hindutva ideology to corner its former saffrom ally. “Hindutva is the core of our existence which has got us to where we are. It is a constituency which is being targeted by the BJP as well. We will do all that is possible from now to ensure that we dent the BJP’s hold on this electorate,” a senior Sena leader said. The party has already started attacking the BJP on some decisions taken by the state Minority Development Ministry headed by Eknath Khadse. Till late Tuesday night, the Sena leadership was hopeful of a face-saving deal with the BJP. “Consultations between the two parties went on till 1 am. The BJP was, however, unwilling to relent or even give concrete assurances that we would get desired ministries like Home and Revenue. We realised they were not interested in associating with us,” a senior Sena leader said. Till Wednesday morning, the Sena leadership harboured hopes and even cleared an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana where it almost pleaded the BJP not to join hands with the NCP and instead take the Sena on board. With no calls from the BJP, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray decided to ask his MLAs to vote against the BJP during the confidence motion in the Assembly. Interestingly, the BJP leadership made two calls to Uddhav only after which Sena announced that it was sitting in the Opposition in the Assembly. “Such calls have no meaning. They took us for a ride all along,” a Sena leader said. Uddhav, who went into a huddle with senior party leaders to formulate the party’s strategy on Wednesday, will start a tour of Maharashtra starting November 17 in which he hopes to reach out to party workers. (Indian Express 13/11/14)

82. VHP to use ‘full energy’ to build Ram temple  (26)

Patna: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) will use all its resources and energy to construct a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh, its leader Pravin Togadia said on Sunday. “The VHP will use its full resources and energy to construct a Ram temple at Ayodhya,” Togadia told the media here. He said the Ram temple was the VHP`s main agenda. “The VHP has never forgotten the agenda of Ram temple nor will it forget it. We will construct the temple at any cost.” Togadia said the temple in Ayodhya won`t be built due to anyone`s benevolence. “It will come up thanks to the powerful unity of the Hindus.” He said the VHP would raise the temple issue before the Bharatiya Janata Party at the “right time”.VHP supporters razed the 16th century Babri Masjid in Ayodhya Dec 6, 1992, triggering widespread riots. They then built a small Ram temple at the site that is now heavily protected. The VHP has repeatedly declared its intention to construct a grand Ram temple on the ruins of the Babri mosque. Togadia also expressed serious concern over the illegal entry into India of Bangladeshis and urged the central government to stop it. He said the World Hindu Congress would be held in Delhi Nov 21-23 to mark the the 50th anniversary of VHP. It will be attended by 1,500 delegates from around the world. (Zee News 16/11/14)

83. HC declines to stay order on RSS march (26)

CHENNAI: The State government has moved appeals before the Madras High Court challenging a single judge’s order allowing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to take out a procession as part of its founder’s day celebrations. The government submitted that issuing permission was solely within the domain of the executive. As per decisions of the High Court, the court should not have issued a positive direction to grant permission to hold meetings/processions. However, a Division Bench comprising Justices Satish K. Agnihotri and K.K. Sasidharan on Tuesday declined to stay the single judge’s order of November 7. After the court granted permission, the RSS tried to take out processions at seven places, including Chennai and Coimbatore on November 9, but the police detained them. The government appealed that the judge had erred in arriving at a finding that Section 41-A (1) of the Chennai City Police Act did not apply to processions. The legal provision should be read as a whole. The sweep of the provision was very broad and included within its scope movement of an assembly, i.e. a procession. The RSS members wore uniforms resembling that of the police force. For this reason, Section 41-A was applicable. When the matter came up, counsel B. Rabu Manohar took notice on behalf of the RSS office-bearers, who had earlier filed the petitions. (The Hindu 19/11/14)

TERRORISM

84. Govt bans militant outfit Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (12)

NEW DELHI: Having found to be involved in several recent blasts in West Bengal and the northeast, militant outfit Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), which operates in West Bengal and Assam and is fighting for a sovereign state, has been declared a banned terrorist group by the government. In a gazette notification, the Home Ministry said that exercising the powers conferred under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, the central government proposes to add Kamatapur Liberation Organisation and all its formation and front organizations as a terrorist organization. KLO, which came into existence in 1993 has been consolidating its position in the fourteen districts in Assam and six districts in West Bengal both organisationally and in terms of weapons and cadres and to achieve the objective of a separate “sovereign Kamatapur state”.The outfit is also resorting to terrorism in the form of killing of innocent civilians and security forces and engaging in other violent activities including looting, kidnapping, landmine and bomb blasts, the notification said. The central government “believes that the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation is involved in terrorism,” it said. KLO was formed to address problems of the Koch Rajbongshi community and perceived neglect of Kamtapuri language, identity and grievances of economic deprivation of the community. It is alleged that the outfit is connected to militant groups such Ulfa and NDFB. (Times of India 12/11/14)

85. Wagah suicide bomber was 25-year-old: militants (12)

Islamabad: The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction Thursday released details of a man it said carried out the deadly suicide bombing near the Pakistan-India border crossing killing 60 people. A spokesman for the group, Ehsanullah Ehsan, said Hanifullah alias Hamza, 25, detonated himself Nov 2 targeting people returning from the flag-lowering ceremony at the Wagah border gate, Dawn online reported. The militants also released a photo of the alleged bomber. According to officials, Hanifullah belonged to a bordering town in Mohmand tribal agency. Ehsan said the banned outfit would release a video of the attack, which it added was carried out to avenge a military operation against the Taliban and tribesmen in the FATA region bordering Afghanistan. (Business Standard 13/11/14)

86. UAE lists Muslim Brotherhood as terrorist group (12)

DUBAI: The United Arab Emirates has formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood and local affiliates as terrorist groups, state news agency WAM reported on Saturday citing a cabinet decree. The Gulf Arab state has also designated Nusra Front and the Islamic State, whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as terrorist organisations, along with other Shi’ite militant groups such as the Houthi movement in Yemen. Saturday’s move echoes a similar move by Saudi Arabia in March and could increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the group has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies. It also underscores concern in the US-allied oil producer about political Islam and the influence of the Brotherhood, whose Sunni Islamist doctrines challenge the principle of dynastic rule. The UAE has designated al-Islah group, which is a local Islamist group banned in the UAE for its alleged link to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, as a terrorist group. UAE authorities have cracked down on members of al-Islah and jailed scores of Islamists convicted of forming an illegal branch of the Brotherhood. Al-Islah denies any such link, but says it shares some of the Brotherhood’s Islamist ideology. In an unprecedented public move, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors to Qatar in March, accusing Doha of failing to abide by an agreement not to interfere in one another’s internal affairs. So far efforts by members of the GCC, an alliance that also includes Oman and Kuwait, to resolve the dispute have failed. The three states mainly fell out with Qatar over the role of Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Gulf officials say the three want Qatar to end any support for the Brotherhood. Qatar says it backs all Arabs, not just Brotherhood members. Qatar’s emir on Tuesday publicly invited fellow Gulf rulers to a Doha summit, apparently seeking to forestall what diplomats say is an attempt by some peers to move it elsewhere in protest at what they see as an Islamist tilt in his foreign policy. (Times of India 16/11/14)

87. Militant attack deaths soar to all-time high (12)

Washington: The number of people killed in militant attacks worldwide jumped more than 60 per cent in 2013 to a record high of nearly 18,000 and the figure could rise further in 2014 due to an escalation of conflict in the Middle East and Nigeria, a report showed on Tuesday. Four Islamist groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria were responsible for two thirds of the 2013 attacks and the vast majority of the deaths occurred in those countries, the Australia and US-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) said in its Global Terrorism Index. However, militant attacks are on the rise more broadly, with two dozen countries seeing more than 50 deaths in 2013, it said. The four most active militant groupings are Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (now renamed Islamic State), Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and transnational al Qaeda-affiliated networks. “There is no doubt it is a growing problem. The causes are complex but the four groups responsible for most of the deaths all have their roots in fundamentalist Islam,” said IEP founder Steve Killelea. “They are particularly angry about the spread of Western education. That makes any attempt at the kind of social mobilising you need to stop them particularly difficult it can just antagonise them more,” he said. The number of attacks themselves rose 44 per cent in 2013 from the previous year to almost 10,000. Deaths in such attacks are now five times higher than in 2000, the report showed, citing analysis of data in the University of Maryland’s Global Terrorism Database. Most but not all militant attacks were religiously motivated. Attacks in India the sixth most affected country rose 70 per cent in 2013 largely due to attacks by communist insurgents. The majority remained non-lethal. Increased targeting of police by the militant groups makes managing the problem even harder, Mr Killelea said, sometimes fuelling rights abuses that compound existing grievances. The report showed 60 per cent of attacks involved explosives, 20 per cent firearms and 10 per cent other actions such as arson, knives or attacks with motor vehicles. Only five per cent of all incidents since 2000 have involved suicide bombings. (Asian Age 19/11/14)

NAXALS/ MAOISTS

88. Six Maoists, including a woman, surrender before cops in Chhattisgarh (12)

Raipur: Six Maoists, including a woman cadre, on Tuesday surrendered in Chhattisgarh’s Kondagaon district, police said. “The Maoist cadres turned themselves in before senior police officials citing disappointment with exploitation of lower rung cadres by senior leaders of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and getting impressed with the surrender policy of the Chhattisgarh state government,” Kondagaon Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Surjit Atri told PTI. Among those who surrendered, Agnu alias Sagnu (30), who was Kiskodo Janmilitia commander of the banned CPI (Maoist), is the most dreaded one, Atri said. He was trained in making bombs, laying booby traps and using emergency medical aid in the forests of Karimnagar district of then undivided Andhra Pradesh state, the ASP said adding, he worked there from 2008 to 2013. He was involved in several Maoist incidents in both Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh and carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his head, he said. Other Maoists cadres who surrendered were identified as Pankaram Gond, 47, Sukhdev Marai 48, Sukhram 25, Lakru Ram, 28 and a woman cadre Ramo Bai, 32. All of them were working as Maoist squad members, Atri said. They would be provided?assistance?as per the Chhattisgarh government’s policy, he said. According to Chhattisgarh government statistics, the total number of Maoist rebels laying down their arms this year has crossed 340 in the insurgency-hit state. (Zee News 11/11/14)

89. Anti-Naxal ops: CRPF finds Chattisgarh, Jharkhand most tough (12)

New Delhi: CRPF, the lead anti-Naxal force, considers Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand as the most challenging states when it comes to tackling the menace of left-wing extremism (LWE) in the country. It also feels said that states are “under utilising” the paramilitary force’s potential in security-related tasks. “Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand remain to be the most challenging states for us given the high density of forests and difficult terrain in these states,” Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Director General Dilip Trivedi told reporters on the eve of the forces’ 75th Raising Day. “There is some truth in the whole situation,” he said when asked if state police forces were not taking a lead role in anti-Naxal operations. “I did feel that there was some underutilisation of our capabilities (by the states) but these issues can be solved through mutual interactions and we have done so on many occasions,” he said. The DG said the force’s largest area of concern, when it came to violence perpetrated by armed Maoist cadres, was the use of “explosives” and various kinds of improvised devices. “The major concern is explosives. There has been an improvement in the type of explosives being used by them (Naxals) like pressure bombs and command wires for triggering them. They are obtaining capabilities to detonate a mine from a large distance. We are not bothered about the weaponary that they use but explosives that they possess,” Trivedi said when asked about the biggest challenge for the force in this theatre of operations. The DG said Naxals are getting explosives “easily”. It has been found by security and intelligence agencies and through seized Naxal literature that the ultras are running short of weapons, he said. “Explosive and mine attacks are also very demoralising for our troops as in such an ambush CRPF men do not even get an opportunity to fight back,” he said. (Zee News 12/11/14)

90. Naxals appeal for ‘caste eradication organizations’ across state (12)

Nagpur: The banned Communist party of India (Maoist) has called for setting up of ‘caste eradication organizations’ across state in the backdrop of killings of three of a Dalit family in Javkheda village in Pathardi taluka of Ahmednagar district last month. The rebel outfit, comparing the brutality of the incident with that of Khairlanji murders, has also appealed before the cross-sections of the society for intensifying struggle at grass-root level against the Fascism of Brahman-driven BJP’s central government under Prime minister Narendra Modi. The reds have appealed to the masses on behalf of their Peoples’ liberation guerilla warfare (PLGA) and ‘Jantana sarkar’ to shun democratic means of protest and resort to violence for protest on the lines of agitations following Khairlanji and Ramabai Ambedkar incidents in the past against Modi sarkar or government. Maharashtra state committee and Dandakaranya special zonal committee, issuing press releases and pamphlets, have strongly criticized the killings blaming the Hindu fascism for the brutalities. The reds have also claimed that RSS and such organizations are fast trying to spread its influences which required to be challenged at every level of the society. They have also highlighted that national broadcaster preferred beaming RSS’s programme rather than focusing on the congregation at the Deekshabhoomi on Dussera. The Naxals have also held the communal forces to target Muslims apart from Dalits in different pockets of the country. The fascist Hindu, the reds claimed, has been also trying to stifle the voice of the other weaker sections like women in their press communication. The reds have also hit out at the majority radical system for engaging in conversing tribal population and usurping their native places for gains of the corporate world. The so-called political prisoners lodged in Nagpur central jail, nabbed for their alleged involvement in Naxal involvement, also have observed a day long hunger strike protesting the Javkheda killings. The naxals have put up their trademark red banners at different places in Gadchiroli protesting the Javkheda incident. A banner at a place like Solapur, which far away from the affected districts of Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur, have raised the concern of the security and intelligence wings. A section of the security forces feel that Naxals are trying to provoke the Dalit to initiate mass struggle against the government and target its establishments and forces which is part of their national agenda. A senior security and intelligence advisor stated that Naxals’ ‘Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution’ of 2007 already has laid down elaborate agenda for the banned outfit to capitalize on Dalit section and try to draw them into mass struggle and resistance movements. The Naxal literature, in possession of TOI, stresses on the need to ‘initiate and lead the struggles against violence on Dalits from our own class organization. There is also urgent need to build organisations to fight against caste discrimination and in eradicayion of the caste system as a part of the new democratic transformation of the society’. (Times of India 14/11/14)

91. Compensation sought for kin of civilians slain by Naxals (12)

KARIMNAGAR: The district administration has decided to write to the government recommending compensation of Rs. 5 lakh each to 43 bereaved family members of civilians, who were killed by the naxalites in Karimnagar district. At a meeting here on Saturday, Collector M Veerabrahmaiah said that “the government order says that if there is no eligible family members in the family at the time of death of civilian to provide compassionate appointment, the ex-gratia can be sanctioned in addition”. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

92. Maoist vs Maoist in Daltonganj and Tamar (12)

RANCHI: It is Maoist versus Maoist in Daltonganj and Tamar. Girija Singh alias Giriji, a former sub-zonal commander of the Tritiya Prastuti Committee (a Maoist breakaway faction), is set to fight it out with Vinod Sharma, an exMaoist zonal commander, in Daltonganj. Girija has been fielded by Nawjawan Sangarh Morcha led by former minister Bhanu Pratap Shahi. Tamar will witness a contest between former Maoist Marshal Turi’s wife, Salomi Turi, and Mahadev Ravinath Pahan, brother of Maoist zonal commander Kundan Pahan. Salomi is fighting on a JMM ticket while Mahadev is a JVM-P candidate. Considering their past, police are keeping a close watch on them so that they do not take support from their former organizations. Dissatisfied with extremisim, Giriji has decided to join mainstream politics to help the poor. “He is a popular candidate and should win from Daltonganj. The sitting MLA, KN Tripathi does not stand a chance against him. In fact, Tripathi has not done anything for the people in the last five years,” said his aide Shambhu Chaurasia. He also added that Giriji is campaigning in forested areas. Vinod Sharma, Giriji’s opponent, is sure of winning from Daltonganj. “I have lived the life of both a Maoist and civilian. I know what problems people face. I can represent them better,” said Sharma on Tuesday. Sharma was earlier arrested in 2008 and spent four years in jail. “There are pending cases against me in court but I am sure of being acquitted in all of them,” said Sharma, who is contesting as an independent. Salomi Turi and Kundan claim they have a better chance of victory. “We are keeping a watch in Tamar. No reports of covert support have been extended to the candidates by Maoists. However, if they do come out in support, it will help us arrest them,” said Ranchi IG, M S Bhatia. (Times of India 19/11/14)

TRAFFICKING

93. Kids Brought to State Not Trafficked, Bihar Tells HC (1)

KOCHI: The Bihar Government on Monday submitted before the Kerala High Court that the children who were brought from Bihar to orphanages in Kerala were not victims of child trafficking. In a counter affidavit, Bihar Social Welfare Department deputy director Jagjit Kaur Ghai submitted that the interstate transportation of children was done primarily for providing them free education, food and clothing, which were available in Kerala.   “The children were brought to Kerala with the consent of their parents or guardians,” he said. The Bihar Government made the submission in response to petitions seeking a CBI probe into allegations of trafficking of children to orphanages in the State.   Officials from Bihar had visited the Mukkam Muslin Orphanage and the Palakkad Orphanage, and had revealed that many of the children were already studying in institutions, after due inquiry allowed them to go back and continue their studies. It was found that no child had complained of ill-treatment or abuse by the staff of the orphanages. The officials had interacted with the apprehended children. All of whom belonged to a single community and hailed from certain particular areas in Bihar. The majority of the children came from the districts of Banka, Bhagalpur and  Madhepura in Bihar. The remaining children were brought from the Godda district of Jharkhand. According to the children, they had valid train tickets. It also submitted that based on an order issued by the Child Welfare Committees of Palakkad and Thrissur, 41 children were taken to Patna by a special coach on June 19. As per the reports from the district child protection units, all the children were restored to their families. Meanwhile, the State Government submitted that there are 1,172 orphanages and other charitable homes in Kerala, which are recognised by the Board of Control of Orphanages. Government has set special regulations for the admission of children from other states to care-homes in Kerala, with a view to ensure their protection, and to eliminate any possibility of trafficking.  “Providing free education and care to children belonging to poor families, by institutions registered under the Board of Control of Orphanages, is a well-accepted proactive step. From the humanitarian point of view, it is not fair on the part of a state to deny services to children who do not come under the purview of Juvenile Justice Act,” State submitted. A state-level monitoring committee headed by the Chief Minister, and district-level monitoring committees headed by the district collectors were formed to monitor the charitable institutions. Meanwhile, a Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice A M Shaffique directed the Advocate General to produce the order of the Supreme Court on child trafficking, and to file a counter affidavit bringing on record the relevant directives of the State pertaining to the issue. (New Indian Express 11/11/14)

94. Cops bust child trafficking network (1)

TRICHY: The Trichy police busted a child trafficking network with the arrest of a 40-year-old woman and her 30-year-old boyfriend in the city on Tuesday. According to the Thillai Nagar police, Arjath Khan, 2, went missing while playing in front of his house on November 4. His parents Shahinsha, 30, an auto rickshaw driver, and Anees Fatima, 28, of Dargah Colony in Thennur lodged a complaint with the Thillai Nagar police, who registered a case of child missing. As the child trafficking cases were reported from across the state of late, the police suspected that Arjath Khan too might have been kidnapped by a gang involved in trafficking of children. The needle suspicion pointed to Jenifer, who was a neighbour to Arjath Khan’s house. On investigation, the police found that Jenifer’s house was locked for a few days since the boy went missing. However, the police managed to pick Jenifer, who spilled the beans. On interrogation, Jenifer confessed that she abducted the child in connivance with her friend, an employee of a hotel in the city. According to Jenifer, she took the boy and handed him over to her boyfriend, who took him to Karur, where the child was kept in a lodge. Later, Jenifer joined with her friend. However, her friend came back to Trichy while Jenifer took the child to her brother in-law in Mangalore to sell him off. Based on Jenifer’s information, her friend was also taken into custody. A police team has rushed to Mangalore to rescue the child from Jenifer’s brother-in-law. Arjath Khan, 2, went missing while playing in front of his house on November 4. His parents Shahinsha, 30, an auto rickshaw driver, and Anees Fatima, 28, lodged a complaint with police. (Times of India 13/11/14)

95. Delhi emerges as hub of human trafficking (1)

New Delhi: The horror narrated by the minor girl again shows that the capital has turned out to be a hub of trafficking of girls and women from different parts of the country. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 368 girls and women were kidnapped across the country last year for prostitution. They are sold to brothels or made to end up in massage parlours, social activists say. Rakesh Senger, National Secretary of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, says that most children who go missing end up in traffickers’ hands. “Organised gangs kidnap minors and transport them to other cities for prostitution. Children below eight years are forced into begging, while the older ones are pushed into child labour,” said Rakesh Senger, National Secretary of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan. Trafficking of young girls from countries like Nepal and Bangladesh for forced prostitution also shows no signs of abatement, claims a study conducted by Global March Against Child Labour. The study titled ‘Economics Behind Forced Labour Trafficking’ was spearheaded by Nobel Peace Prize winner and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. In a similar case last month, after 13 years of repeated assault, a 25-year-old woman from Assam had succeeded in escaping from the clutches of traffickers who kept her in confinement in Haryana’s Rohtak district. She had escaped from the house to reach Delhi and approached Rajouri Garden police station with the help of a well-wisher. The issue of human trafficking and missing children was also discussed during an inter-state coordination meeting held between senior officers of Delhi Police and their counterparts from Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday. They have decided to share technology in policing and upload details of missing persons on Zonal Integrated Police Network (ZIPNET) without loss of time. “Delhi Police Commissioner Bhim Sain Bassi has also told district police to revive the anti-human trafficking cell, while the special cell and crime branch have also been asked to form such cells,” said a police officer. (Deccan Herald 15/11/14)

96. Garhwal registers 330 cases of missing persons in 2014 (1)

Dehradun: The annual report on human trafficking happening in various police stations of the State, especially in Garhwal Range, revealed that there has been a rapid increase in cases related to missing of persons and trafficking of women and teen-aged girls for the past many years. Around 330 cases of missing persons were reported in various police stations of Garhwal region in 2014 so far. However, only five cases of human trafficking in 2013 and four cases in 2014 have been reported in anti-human trafficking cell of Garhwal Range established by the State Government at Kotdwar and Haridwar. Statistics revealed that women and teenage girls are being transported in other States, including Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, with the traffickers luring them with the offer of jobs or arranging marriages. In the past, some cases of trafficking of women and teenage girls had come up from two or three villages of Chamoli, Uttar Kashi and Rudraprayag districts of Uttarakhand. In order to train the police personnels on how to solve the registered cases of missing persons in the anti-human traffic cell, a one- day long refresher course on human trafficking was hosted for police personnel held at Garhwal Range office on Monday, said Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Sanjay Gunjyal. He reviewed cases related to human trafficking with the police officers and policemen. He expressed disappointment with the slow pace of works involving the police personnel deputed at the Cell and directed them to take measures for swift redressal of registered cases of human trafficking. In the reviewing meeting, it was revealed that cases of human trafficking were reported from two or three villages of Chamoli, Uttar Kashi, Rudraprayag districts. In these villages, women and teen-aged girl were transported in other States. These women are not in contact with their parents or there is no information of their location since their marriage. In the training programme, the policemen were acquainted with the Centre’s guidelines on how to deal with human trafficking cases and the victims’ rehabilitation. He further said that the police men will be assigned with the tasks and their performance at the cell they are deployed will be reviewed every week. Teams will be deployed in the villages where human trafficking cases were reported in the past. They will interact with the Pradhan and chowkidar to get the details of the missing persons and action will be taken accordingly. Teams will perform pre- rescue protocol, rescue operation and post- rescue protocol. With the help of non- government organisations, the victims will be rehabilitated. (Pioneer 18/11/14)

CORRUPTION

97. Panel proposes CBI probe in Food and Drug Administration (5)

Mumbai: An inquiry committee formed by a former food and drug administration (FDA) minister of Maharashtra found the conduct of officials questionable and has recommended a CBI investigation to look into the matter. The committee was formed by the government of Maharashtra on January 21, 2013 to curb the corruption and malpractices in the FDA and submitted its detailed report on April 17, 2014. As per the report, which was obtained through an RTI query, the findings made by any committee that has to do with basic necessities or relating to endangering public life has to be inquired into by a central agency. The report also recommended that the controller would be responsible for any situation arising due to negligence that directly or indirectly endangers the life of a common man. In the 159-page report, the committee has said that it would be better for the CBI to investigate into the matter for the benefit of the common people. The report also found that the government had never intervened with the working of FDA, directly or indirectly, thus resulting in negligence in duty and responsibility by the state exchequer. Then FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade was the head of the committee along with two other members. RTI activist Anil Galgali, who procured the data, has demanded that the government make the report public. Mr Galgali has also appealed to chief minister Devendra Fadanvis to hand over the commission report to the CBI for investigation. “The report is a nothing, but a sordid story of how the lives of people are put at a larger risk by FDA. The department is full of corruption,” said Mr Galgali, adding, “The 17-point recommendations made by the committee must be strictly followed by the government.” When contacted, Manisha Mhaiskar, medical education and drugs department secretary said, “Yes, the report has been submitted and the department is in process of taking further action.” (Asian Age 11/11/14)

98. Second arrest in Rs 2.5cr PUNSUP scam (5)

MOHALI: Punjab Vigilance Bureau arrested a public distribution clerk of Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (PUNSUP) for his alleged involvement in the embezzlement of wheat bags and other objects worth Rs 2.57 crore from a godown in Mohali last year. The accused has been identified as Gurmeet Singh, who was working as a clerk in PUNSUP, Mohali, and was absconding ever since a case was lodged against him in March. This is the second arrest in the scam. In October, a clerk named Sunil Kumar was arrested from Dera Bassi. Two other accused in the scam are PUNSUP district manager Inder Mohan Singh and clerk Rajiv Sood, who are still on the run. Gurmeet was arrested from his village Baroli on Thursday and was produced before the court, which sent him to two days’ police remand. The scam was unearthed in 2013 when a vigilance team raided a godown in Daon Majra village and carried out an inspection of wheat stock, in which 28,065 wheat bags worth Rs 2.37 crore were missing. Other articles worth Rs 19.82 lakh were also found missing. Inder Mohan was working as district manager during this period. When the FIR was lodged, an inquiry was conducted by additional managing director of PUNSUP. It concluded that Inder Mohan had failed to do his duty while being part of the fraud that caused loss of crores of rupees to the government. A corruption case was registered under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and section 13 (1) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act at the VB Flying Squad I police station in Sector 68. The accused in the case applied for bail earlier this year, but the court rejected anticipatory bail. (Times of India 14/11/14)

99. G20 leaders vow to fight corruption (5)

Brisbane: G20 leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Sunday vowed to implement an anti-corruption action plan as part of a drive against the use of shell companies and trusts to engage in tax evasion and money laundering. “We endorse the 2015-16 G20 Anti-Corruption plan that will support growth and resilience,” the leaders said in a communiqué released at the end of the two-day summit. A set of principles for governments to follow that aims to make it easier to find out who is the beneficial owner of entities which are stated to facilitate hundreds of billions of dollars in illicit financial flows was unveiled by the G20 and contained in annexures to the communiqué. “Our actions are building cooperation and networks, including to enhance mutual legal assistance, recovery of the proceeds of corruption and denial of safe haven to corrupt officials,” the communiqué said. “We commit to improve the transparency of the public and private sectors, and of beneficial ownership by implementing the G20 High-Level Principles on Beneficial Ownership Transparency,” it said. The anti-corruption plan seeks to ensure investments by corporates or individuals and the details of it are shared between developing and developed countries. G20 host and Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the initiative will be operational in the next three years. “My understanding is, it starts now and we will build up over the next couple of years,” he told reporters. “In 2014, corruption remains a very significant threat to global growth and financial stability,” said a G20 2014 — Brisbane anti-Corruption update, adding that “there is a clear link between illicit financial flows and company structures.” The G20 countries recognised that bribery imposes a heavy price on the public and private sectors with the annual cost of bribery estimated by the World Bank to be $1 trillion. The principles state that countries should ensure that legal persons maintain beneficial-ownership information onshore and that information is adequate, accurate and current. “Countries could implement this, for example, through central registries of beneficial ownership of legal persons or other appropriate mechanisms,” says the statement of principles. It also calls on countries to ensure that information is shared between domestic and international agencies, including law-enforcement bodies. (The Hindu 16/11/14)

100. Srinivasan cleared in IPL scam; Meiyappan, Kundra indicted (5)

New Delhi: In charges that could affect cricket tournament Indian Premier League (IPL)’s teams Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Rajasthan Royals (RR), the Mukul Mudgal committee indicted the teams’ respective officials Gurunath Meiyappan and Raj Kundra of betting and confirmed their roles in their teams but it cleared N Srinivasan of match-fixing and scuttling the probe. The three-member committee, in its report to the Supreme Court, however, indicted Srinivasan, the International Cricket Council (ICC) chairman, for not taking action against a cricketer, whom it did not name, for violating the players’ code of conduct despite being aware of it. It confirmed Meiyappan was a team official (team principal) of CSK while RR’s owner Kundra’s “infractions violated BCCI/IPL anti-corruption code”.A provision in the IPL code of conduct says any team official found guilty of “bringing the game into disrepute” by betting or match-fixing could see his/her team expelled. The committee held Srinivasan’s son-in-law Meiyappan was involved in betting but not match-fixing. It questioned why the Rajasthan police had stopped a probe into Kundra’s alleged betting activities abruptly, after the case was transferred from the Delhi police. Further, the committee found IPL Chief Operating Officer Sundar Raman had known a contact detail of a bookie and had contacted him eight times in a season. “Raman accepted he had received information about Meiyappan and Kundra taking part in betting activities but was informed by the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit chief this was not actionable information. He accepted this information was not conveyed to any other individual,” the committee said. (Business Standard 18/11/14)

ENVIRONMENT/ CLIMATE CHANGE

101. Focus on alternatives for coal-based power: Jairam (9)

Bengaluru: India needs to develop radical thinking in terms of renewable energy resources, former union minister Jairam Ramesh has said. Climate change has added a whole new dimension to our energy policy, the Rajya Sabha member said. He was delivering a lecture on ‘The Changing Climate for India’s Energy Policy,’ organised by National Institute of Advanced Studies and The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy here on Monday. On the impact of coal use, he pointed out that over half of India’s greenhouse gas emissions (expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent terms) is from the power generation sector alone. With coal-based power generating sector increasing rapidly, these emissions are likely to increase further, he said. “We use about 500 million tonnes of coal to generate electricity and we have plans of doubling this by the end of this decade. It will be imperative for us to think of alternative forms of energy,” Ramesh said. Discussing alternatives, he said one option could be nuclear power, since atomic power plants emit no carbon dioxide or sulphur dioxide. “However, our performance on the nuclear power front has been disappointing. Forty five years after the first atomic power plant at Tarapur became operational, nuclear power still accounts for just about 3.5 per cent of the supply,” he said. When it comes to wind and solar energies, they account for 13 per cent of the total generating capacity. As far as hydel projects are concerned, even though they are non-polluting, they pose ecological challenges, especially when they involve storage dams and large-scale displacement of people becomes inevitable. So, a sensitive approach to hydel power was needed, he said, concluding that the country had to plan for much cleaner coal, while focusing on other aspects of energy policy such as use of biogas. India must play a significant role in the global climate change agreement in Paris in December 2015. (Deccan erald 11/11/14)

102. Rs1700cr OK’d for cleanliness drive (9)

Patna: The state urban development department has decided to launch door-to-door collection of garbage in the city from next month as a part of its cleanliness drive. The state government has OK’d a sum of Rs 1,700 crore for initiating cleanliness drive in the state. On October 2, CM Jitan Ram Manjhi had launched the ‘Swachh Bharat’ mission from Gandhi Maidan by administering oath to people to keep the city clean. Manjhi had praised PM Narendra Modi for launching the nationwide cleanliness campaign and appealed to all to make at least 100 people aware of the importance of cleanliness and devote 100 hours every year for this work. Talking to reporters here, state urban development minister Samrat Choudhary said the solid waste management treatment plant would be inaugurated here at Bairiya, on the outskirts of the city, on November 19. (Times of India 13/11/14)

103. Massive clearing of green cover seen in Aravalis (9)

NEW DELHI: Amid reports of increasing cases of leopards entering human habitats in and around Aravalis in Gurgaon and Faridabad, a fresh instance of massive clearing of green cover close to Ansals Retreat in Raisina area has now been reported. This has exposed how the local forest department has failed to detect and stop deforestation. Huge patches of land that had trees have become bald in the past two months and boundary walls have come up. These land parcels fall under the gair mumkin pahar (common hill land) and gair mumkin rad where no non-forest activity is allowed. As per Aravali notification of 1992, any non-forest activity including cutting of trees, construction of any clusters of dwelling units, farmhouses and any other activity connected with such construction in prohibited in such areas. “This area is frequented by wildlife and particularly leopard because of good forest cover. If the forest department fails to stop this, we won’t see these wild animals. There have been cases of animals straying out of the hills due to deforestation and getting killed,” said a local resident. A forest department official said they have received complaints of this major irregularity. “We have asked the local forest employees to give a detailed report on this. Prima facie it seems there has been deforestation in the locality,” the official said. In fact, even Google Earth images show certain patches of land around Raisina have been cleared of vegetation between March and August. Local residents said tree cutting has happened in the past two months. TOI has learnt that while the rate of farmhouse land in Aravalis – which still faces legal hurdles – is around Rs 80 lakh per acre. While Haryana laws do not prohibit buying gair mumkin pahar land or any other land in Aravalis, the rules are clear that such land in Gurgaon cannot be used for any other purpose other than maintaining the area as forest. (Times of India 16/11/14)

104. Drowning kills 372,000 people each year: UN (9)

A newly-released World Health Organisation (WHO) report shows that drowning claims the lives of 372,000 people each year, UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said Monday. The WHO Monday released the global report on drowning: Preventing a leading killer, which reveals that drowning kills more than 40 people every hour and is among the 10 leading causes of death for children and young people in every region, Xinhua reported. Haq said at a daily briefing that the report calls for a substantial scaling-up of efforts and resources to prevent drowning and outlines several actions to be taken by both national policy-makers and local communities. “It also draws attention to the need to make drowning prevention an integral part of a number of current debates, such as climate change which leads to increased flooding; mass migrations, including of asylum seekers travelling by boat; and issues such as rural development and water and sanitation,” he added. (Business Standard 18/11/14)

AGRICULTURE/ FARMERS SUICIDES

105. How Met forecasts saved crops (20)

More than 200 agro-meteorologists from various parts of the country attending an IMD review meeting at Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) maintained that accurate weather and climate information passed on by the Met department had helped farmers in a big way. Addressing the 8th annual review meeting of India Meteorological Department, BAU vice chancellor George John said weather forecast-based agro-advisory services of IMD and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) had made significant contributions to minimising crop loss due to adverse weather conditions, even while maximising agricultural output under favourable weather conditions. “Sometimes these services are under evaluated. We can just imagine the extent of damage to agriculture and human and animal wealth if such services were not available,” the VC said and asked agro-meteorologists to make such services available to all stakeholders at the shortest possible time. V.U.M. Rao, project coordinator, all India coordinated research project on agro-meteorology, Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture, Hyderabad, pointed out that although the shortfall in rainfall this year was 12 per cent with 50 to 60 per cent deficiency in agriculture-rich states of Punjab and Haryana, the yield was expected to be normal or near normal. The credit, he said, would go to weather forecasts and agro-advisories. S.C. Bhan, scientist, IMD, Pune, stressed that IMD was devising strategies for providing advisories to line departments and its managers at least 15 days in advance to ensure availability of required seeds and fertilisers to farmers. “Our services are aimed at meeting the challenges of food security, water security, climate change and variability in the country. We are also sharing our expertise with SAARC countries,” N. Chattopadhyay, deputy director general (Agrimet), IMD said. Shilpa Mehta, consultant, New Delhi, presented details of mKisan, a portal that provides information on availability of seeds, fertilisers, their prices, local dealers and other services to registered farmers through sms. Mehta pointed out that the farmers’ portal provided a one-stop shop for meeting all information on agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries. Share on email Share on print Share on facebook Share on twitter More Sharing Services (The Telegraph 11/11/14)

106. For the first time, Pakistan to attend India’s biggest farm fair (20)

NEW DELHI: A farmer and industry delegation from Pakistan will attend this year’s biennial ‘Agro Tech and Business Fair’ which is to be organized by the CII in