Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Posted by admin at 9 April 2014

Category: Uncategorized


1. Custodial death sparks brawl between police and locals (1)

JAIPUR: Over a dozen people including a lady legislator and a DSP were injured after the suspicious death of a youth in judicial custody triggered violent clashes between police and local residents of Sriganganagar’s Raisinghnagar area on Friday. The man was arrested on charges of smuggling liquor on Wednesday and was remanded in judicial custody. The jail administration rushed him to a hospital in Sriganganagar, where he died while undergoing treatment on Thursday night. The family members and local residents alleged that he died due to police torture. The man, identified as Gurmeet Singh alias Meeta was a resident of Chak 44 PS village in Sameja police station area near Raisinghnagar. A court had issued an arrest warrant against him after he was booked for three different cases of liquor smuggling. A police team from Sameja police station arrested Meeta on Wednesday and produced him in court on Thursday. He was remanded in judicial custody. Meeta allegedly fainted in the jail following which he was brought to the local government hospital. The doctors there referred him to the district government hospital in Sriganganagar. He died while undergoing treatment on Thursday night. Meeta’s family members gathered outside the police station on Friday. Local MLA Sonadevi Bawari also reached the police station. While people started hurling stones at the policemen, the cops resorted to lathicharge. Eleven policemen and three local residents were injured in the clashes. DSP Mukesh Kumar Sankhala and MLA Sonadevi also got injured. Police said the allegations leveled by the family members are baseless as Meeta had been produced in a court before being remanded in judicial custody. The legislator, family members and locals, however, alleged that Meeta was tortured when he was in police custody for a day after his arrest. A judicial enquiry has been launched into the mysterious death of Gurmeet Singh. (Times of India 5/4/14)


2. Nido case: 4 sent to custody (1)

NEW DELHI: Four people arrested in connection with the death of 19-year-old Arunachal Pradesh student Nido Tania were on Monday remanded in 14 days’ judicial custody by a trial court. Additional chief metropolitan magistrate Pritam Singh extended the custody of accused Farman, Sunder Singh, Pawan and Sunny Uppal till April 21 after CBI did not seek their custodial interrogation. The case was transferred to CBI from Delhi Police after the victim’s parents met Union home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi demanding speedy justice. They had alleged police negligence in the case and also demanded action against the guilty personnel. The accused were apprehended after relatives of Tania, alleged that he had an altercation with some shopkeepers at Lajpat Nagar market on January 29 after they made fun of his hair style. Following the altercation shopkeepers had allegedly thrashed him. He was brought dead to AIIMS the next day. (Times of India 8/4/14)


3. Tortured boy’s kin to meet Maharashtra DGP (1)

MUMBAI: Relatives of the teenaged boy who was allegedly tortured by the police in the city decided to meet the director general of police with a request to withdraw the case registered against him. The 17-year-old boy, Mohammed Wajid, was talking on his cellphone when policemen escorting a handcuffed suspect on a Wadala street thought he was taking their pictures and arrested him. Wajid said he was subjected to third-degree torture at the police station, which left him with severe internal injuries to his private parts. The police booked Wajid under Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) of the IPC. They also mentioned his age as 19 years. Subsequently, an inquiry was ordered by senior police officers. After Wajid’s relatives met senior IPS officer Sanjay Pande of the Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission, the officer asked them for related papers, medical documents and Wajid’s age proof. He also asked for the police report. Wajid was treated at the Sion hospital OPD when he complained of being unable to pass urine but was admitted after complications on April 6. His medical report said he sustained blunt trauma on his abdomen and chest, probably caused by belts and lathis. It also said a toothpick was inserted in his anus. (Times of India 9/4/14)



4. Neighbour sells woman for Rs 30,000 (1)

DEHRADUN: In a horrifying case of human trafficking, a woman was sold for Rs 30,000 allegedly by her neighbour. She was kept captive for four days and sexually exploited by her buyer. Her trauma was alleviated when she lost her four-month old son in captivity since she could not provide medicines for him. not provide the required medical assistance. Having no As she had no money, she was forced to immerse the boy’s body in a canal. Two people, including a woman, involved in the racket have been arrested while another accomplice is still at large. Police said the rape survivor, who is from Kauria in Kotdwar, and her child went missing under mysterious circumstances on April 2. The neighbour, Sunita Devi, allegedly took her to a secluded spot on the pretext of getting medical treatment for her son. There she was offered a drink laced with sedatives. After she fell unconscious, she was sold to a Bijnor resident, Jaipal. As the child was not given the required medical attention, he died a day or two after she was sold, police said. The woman’s husband, a rickshawpuller, alerted the police, who traced her at Bijnor and rescued her. When the efforts of her husband, who is a rickshaw puller, to trace them went in vain, he informed police about the incident. He suspected the involvement of neighbour Sunita Devi and her son Gajendra in the incident. (Times of India 6/4/14)


5. Taxi driver helps bust child trafficking racket (1)

Bangalore: A taxi driver at the Bangalore City Railway Station helped child helpline volunteers bust a child trafficking racket, leading to the arrest of a 45-year-old rag-picker. The rag-picker had allegedly kept a 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy in his captivity and reportedly forced them to beg for him. Following the taxi driver’s tip-off, a team of volunteers from BOSCO childline swung into action on Saturday and found the boy begging at the railway station’s taxi stand. The boy initially told the volunteers he was living with his parents and was begging since his father was ill. The sceptical volunteers traced Raju, a rag-picker sitting in a corner of the railway station along with a 15-year-old girl. Raju claimed that the girl was his wife, but a detailed inquiry by the officials of the human trafficking unit and Railway Protection Force exposed the racket. During the conversation with the children, the girl said she was around 15 years and was from a slum in Kalyan in Mumbai. The girl said she was a high school dropout and worked as a domestic help until she was lured by Raju in Mumbai 18 months ago. Raju promised big money and the two went to Rajasthan. Once there, Raju forced her to beg and allegedly abused her when she did not. “Whenever the girl tried to escape, he would torture her and insist she was his wife,” the girl told the officials. Raju would move from one place to another, and during a visit to Delhi, they found the 12-year-old runaway boy from Uttar Pradesh. Raju forced the boy to work for him and the three landed in Bangalore. The boy said he ran away from home a year ago since his parents used to beat him. He met Raju last month in Delhi. Raju took him along promising to get a job and later forced him to beg. The children have been referred to the Child Welfare Committee and have contacted their counterparts in Kalyan and Uttar Pradesh, seeking their help to trace the victims’ family, Executive Director of BOSCO, Fr. P.S. George said. The Anti Human Trafficking unit officials arrested Raju and produced him before the court, which remanded him in judicial custody. (The Hindu 7/4/14)



6. Two female Western journalists shot in Afghanistan, one dead (1)

A female Western journalist was shot dead and another wounded in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost on Friday, police said, on the eve of the country’s presidential election. “Two female journalists were shot this morning inside a district police headquarters, one has been killed, while the other is seriously wounded,” Khost provincial spokesman Mobarez Mohammad Zadran said. Zadran and deputy Khost police chief Yaqub Mandozai said that the gunman was wearing police uniform. The woman is the second Western journalist killed in Afghanistan during the election campaign, after Swedish journalist Nils Horner was shot dead in Kabul on March 11. to help us personalise your reading experience. AFP’s senior Afghan reporter Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of his three children were killed on March 20 when gunmen smuggled pistols into Kabul’s high-security Serena hotel and shot dead nine people including four foreigners. Horner, 51, a veteran of Swedish national radio, was killed while researching a story about a January attack on a nearby restaurant which killed 21 people, including 13 foreigners. Khost province borders Pakistan’s restive North Waziristan tribal area, a stronghold of the Haqqani militant network blamed for numerous high-profile attacks in Afghanistan, many targeting foreigners. Kabul has been rocked by a string of high-profile attacks in the run-up to tomorrow’s election, which will be the first democratic handover of power in Afghanistan’s turbulent history. In addition to Horner’s murder and the Serena assault, a charity’s guesthouse has come under attack, along with offices of the Independent Election Commission (IEC). Most recently, six police officers were killed in a suicide bombing at the interior ministry in Kabul on Wednesday. Security was tight across Afghanistan ahead of the vote to elect a successor to President Hamid Karzai, who is constitutionally barred from standing again. More than 400,000 personnel including police, army and intelligence services have been deployed to ensure security around the country, Interior Minister Omar Daudzai said. (Indian Express 5/4/14)


7. Politicians use social media to woo voters (1)

PATNA: Their busy schedules in the Lok Sabha election notwithstanding, politicians have been wooing the voters through popular social networking sites. Many of them are also promoting their rallies, speeches and events by posting photos and videos on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, which go viral soon. Leaders like Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal are proving their presence strongly on Twitter with 3.66 million and 1.59 million followers, respectively. Both are often seen not only sharing their views but also verbally spitting on each other through these sites. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad, once known for IT-YT comment, are also active on social networking sites. Though LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan does not believe in following the trend, his son Chirag Paswan is very social on these sites. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi have so far stayed away from this race, but other Congress leaders like Kapil Sibal and Prem Chandra Mishra keep their accounts updated. Mishra said, “I am an active Facebook and Twitter account holder. I never forget to post updates at least once every day, either early morning or late evening.” BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi seems to be leading among Bihar leaders as far as their presence on social networking sites is concerned. He regularly updates his blog. “I have over 66,600 followers on Twitter and their number increases by 500 daily. Nowadays I don’t get to write on my blog daily, but to keep it updated I post articles on them and same goes with my Facebook page. I cannot let even a single day go without doing some workout to keep myself fit and updated on social media. These are integral part of my life.” NCP leader Tariq Anwar, who is also a visible face on social media sites these days, said, “I mostly update my daily schedule on Facebook and my views on Twitter.” Social media has become a key platform for reaching out to voters, especially the young lot who are actively present on such sites and get their updates mostly from there, instead of other news sources. “Maybe, that’s the reason why leaders are opting for their active presence on social media,” said Prabha Kumari, a postgraduate student. Going with the data available with Bihar chief electoral office, nearly 12.75 lakh people from Bihar in the age group of 18-19 years are expected to vote in the ensuing LS polls. (Times of India 6/4/14)



8. Dalit Chaitanya Yatra begins (2)

ANANTAPUR: Union Minister J.D. Seelam on Friday kicked off the Dalit Chaitanya Yatra from Anantapur in the company of another Minister Panabaka Lakshmi. The yatra, which was kicked off after garlanding the statue of Ambedkar at Anantapur, received a little more than a lukewarm response in the townSpeaking to the press, Mr. Seelam said that the Congress is not the sole cause for bifurcation and that the consent from all political parties, except the CPI(M) had forced the party to go through with bifurcation. Nonetheless, he opined that the Seemandhra region is presented with a unique chance to grow in an unprecedented manner with the help of a Congress Government at the Centre, which would facilitate such fast growth. Even as he said that the UPA government led by the Government had ensured enough safeguards for the realisation of fast growth in the bifurcation bill, he argued that the Dalits owe it to the Congress for bringing about their upliftment. Meanwhile, Ms. Panabaka Lakshmi said that the Congress manifesto is part of a new deal for the Dalits in the country as it sought to explore employment avenues for them in the private sector too by trying to arrive at a consensus on the issue with the industry. The meeting was also attended by Tirupati Congress MP China Mohan, besides former Minister Dokka Manikya Vara Prasad. Leaders of the Congress party urged the cadre to take the pro-Dalit message in the Congress manifesto to people and ask for their support. (The Hindu 5/4/14)


9. Dalit man ‘beaten to death’ by Yadav girl’s family in UP (2)

Allahabad: A 25 year old Dalit man was Thursday murdered allegedly by the family of the girl he was having an affair with in Wajidpur village under Mau Aima police station area here. The girl belonged to Yadav community while the victim was from Pasi community, the police said. Police said they got a call about a man being thrashed in the village and when they reached there they found the body of Raju Bharatiya, a resident of Sarangapur village. Police said there were injuries, apparently caused by a blunt object, all over his body and ligature marks around his neck. Though a post-mortem report is awaited, they suspect he was strangulated to death after being beaten up. “Raju’s father lodged a complaint on the basis of which an FIR has been registered against Jagdish Yadav and his three sons. They have been booked under Section 302 of the IPC, and various sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act),” said SO (Mau Aima), Raj Kumar Sharma. Circle officer (Soraon) Dr Ram Yash Singh said: “Raju and Jagdish’s daughter had known each other for over a year as she was staying at her grandfather’s home to pursue her studies and Raju, who worked in a local music group, was known to her cousin. Raju developed a friendship with her, as he used to frequent the house where she stayed.” The two allegedly eloped around Holi. “It is being said the girl’s family had traced them and brought her to her father’s house. Raju traced her and Thursday went near her house with a friend. The girl’s family saw Raju and beat him up. His friend escaped,” he added. No arrests have been made so far and the girl’s entire family is absconding. (Indian Express 5/4/14)


10. Dalit Activists Attacked (2)

KASARGOD: Nine Dalit activists, including three women, were admitted to Kanhangad District Hospital after they were allegedly attacked by CPM workers at Nandankuzhi in Madikai on Sunday. The injured have been identified as Binu Palankal, 30; Rameshan Arinkal, 27; Manikuttan Kallanchira, 27; Binu Karivedakam, 27; Usha Kallanchira, 26; Priya Kodumkuzhi, 30; Reshma Karivedakam, 18; Rajeev, 30;  and Sukumaran Palankal, 30. The incident took place around 11 am when a group of people, allegedly CPM workers, unleashed attack on Dalit Service Society (DSS) activists who were campaigning for their candidate Gothramooppan Nellikkadan Kannan at Nandankuzhi. “People who believe in democracy must wake up to realise that we no more enjoy our rights enshrined in the Constitution. “Dalits are living oppressed in the so-called CPM party villages. It’s the politics of the CPM and people must vote without fear or favour to have a democratic secular government,” said O K Prabhakaran, district president of the DSS. This is the third attack against Dalits in the past seven days. Earlier, a woman was allegedly attacked by a police officer on duty and DSS activists were restrained from seeking votes for their candidate by an unknown gang. When contacted, ADM O Muhammed Aslam said: “Strict instructions have been given tothe police for taking immediate action against the culprits. The District Collector will initiate action against the police officers if they fail to do so.” Police, when contacted, said: “CPM workers are behind this attack and two people, named Ananthan and Subhash, were identified by the petitioners. “They threatened the Dalits from visiting the colonies seeking votes and also beat them up.” A case has been registered against the culprits under Sections 364, 323, 324, 147, 143, 148, 341, 323, 506 and 149 of the IPC. (New Indian Express 7/4/14)


11. Dalit voters hold key to Northwest Delhi (2)

NEW DELHI: It’s a battle for Dalit votes in the largest of Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha constituencies. Scheduled castes and Jats are the two large communities in North West Delhi, and the three important candidates are using their reserved-category background to the hilt to win support. The fight this time seems to be between BJP’s Udit Raj and AAP’s Rakhi Birla as the two-term MP and Congress candidate, Krishna Tirath, battles anti-incumbency towards the UPA government and widespread disenchantment with her for “neglecting” the constituency. Tirath, ironically, was the last to start campaigning. While Birla hit the streets within two days of AAP declaring her candidature, Udit Raj started his rallies, public meetings and padyatras immediately after joining the party in March. Analysts say Tirath’s over-confidence could be her undoing. “There is a strong anti-Congress wave in Delhi, and to counter it Congress candidates should have campaigned more aggressively. But in North West Delhi, BJP and AAP candidates are seen and heard more,” said Madan Khurana, a Rohini resident. Much of the constituency has a rural character with thousands of migrant workers living in unauthorized colonies, JJ clusters and slums spread across Mangolpuri, Sultanpuri, Sultanpur Majra, etc. Jats form the other large vote bank. The middle and upper-middle classes have a presence in areas like Rohini, Ashok Vihar and Civil Lines. Voters in the resettlement colonies and slums seem to be backing Birla despite all the controversies and criticism surrounding her party’s short-lived government in the state. “Congress and BJP did not let Kejriwal work. He took steps to reduce power tariff and improve the water supply but the bigger parties pulled down his government. And now they are targeting him,” said Surti Devi, a resident of Mangolpuri. She said AAP leaders are attacked because they represent and raise concerns of the poor. AAP’s supporters are not touched by the Modi “wave”. Nor has BJP’s decision to field Udit Raj, a known Dalit leader and former IRS officer, helped the party poach AAP’s Muslim and SC support. However, the party may still benefit from the popularity of Narendra Modi, in villages like Narela, Bawana and Mundka where people swear by him. “There is no issue, no party. This election is about Modi and we will vote for him,” said Ashok Rana, who lives in Prahladpur Village. Support for Modi could help the BJP candidate counter the weight of AAP’s Dalit vote bank. North West Delhi constituency came into existence in 2008 and is reserved for candidates belonging to the scheduled castes. While BJP and AAP seem more popular than Congress this time, they have got their share of criticism. Birla’s candidature raised eyebrows in her party as she is an MLA and was accused of asking for money to campaign for the original AAP candidate, Mahender Singh. Udit Raj, meanwhile, is battling the ‘outsider’ tag. (Times of India 9/4/14)



12.  ‘Delhi slums are fast turning into high-risk zone for children’ (3)

NEW DELHI: Registering an infant mortality rate of 35.6 per 1,000 and an under five-year-old mortality rate at 73.6 per 1,000 in Delhi slums, the Capital has registered itself as a high-risk zone for children. Highlighting the condition of children in urban slums, over a hundred representatives from 50 bastis across all the nine districts of Delhi met in the city recently to spell out the agenda to ensure safety and protection, access to health care and education for urban slum children. The agenda, which has been handed over to all major political parties, noted that the absence of day-care arrangement led to many accidents, while poor quality of schools, anganwadis and dispensaries adversely impacted the children. The worst hit are differently-abled children and those whose lives have been disrupted by relocation and slum clearances. Batting for the children, Devika Singh from non-government organisation Delhi FORCES said: “We appeal to the political leaders to put their will behind the various Acts that have been passed for the benefit of children; implement the programmes for children that have been planned – this is the action needed.” “At the meeting, we had speakers from the slum clusters who listed the problems faced by their children. A mother spoke of her child falling into an open drain when she was at work. The child was being looked after by her eight-year-old daughter. Though the child survived, the prospects of child safety in the slums is frightening. The only anganwadi in the area works for a few hours, which isn’t enough,” noted Devika. A release issued by NGO Alliance of Peoples’ Rights noted that “gangsters roam in the areas (urban slum clusters) where both parents work. Once a child is picked up he/she is almost always untraceable. Shockingly, at least 14 children go missing every day.” “Eviction from bastis is another major issue and has adverse impact on women and children due to the collapse of the system and absence of basic services, anganwadis, schools, etc., in the area that they are relocated into,” added the group. (The Hindu 6/4/14)


13. Are communicable diseases covered under health insurance? (3)

Communicable diseases including the vector borne type like Dengue and Malaria are at an all-time rise in India owing to urbanization and globalization. India’s climate and huge population have both been favourable for the spread of the disease. On the other hand, medical inflation, rising healthcare cost and advancement in medical technology has directly affected the treatment cost of such diseases. Health insurance extends help to cover hospitalization expenses however with health insurance penetration level at less than 5% in India; most people would end up paying it from their pockets. At Max Bupa, we cover hospitalization for vector borne diseases  under our  indemnity and fixed benefit plans including our flagship product Heartbeat, Health Companion and also as a part of Hospital cash under our fixed benefit product Health Assurance wherein  the customers can claim for additional expenses incurred due to hospitalization of their loved ones. Over the past one year, we have observed a 25% increase in claims related vector borne diseases. There has been a 5% increase in claims related to Dengue and Malaria. With the increase in hospitalization costs, the average claim amount for such diseases is also on a rise, with most customers claims over Rs 40,000. In our experience, there have been more customer claims from key Northern cities like Delhi, Mumbai,  Bangalore and Surat for dengue while we have received more claims for Malaria from Eastern cities like Kolkata. (Financial Express 7/4/14)



14. Congress promises CBI probe into Odisha mining, chitfund scam (5)

Bhubaneswar: Promising CBI probe into mining, chitfund and other scams in Odisha, the Congress on Friday said it would review all MoUs signed by BJD government in the state in last 10 years, provide pucca houses to landless and allowance to unemployed youths if voted to power. “Congress will provide good governance and get scams like mining, water, land and chitfund scandals investigated by CBI,” Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Jaydev Jena said while releasing party’s manifesto for Odisha where both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls are being held. In order to provide corruption free administration, an empowered and strong Lokayukta would be set up in the State by undertaking necessary amendments in the law, Mr. Jena said. Effective steps would be taken for protection of precious mineral resources and their proper utilisation, while all MoU’s signed by the State government during the last 10 years would be thoroughly reviewed, he said. No individual and private agencies would be given mining lease, Mr. Jena said adding steps would be taken for providing lease to Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and similar other government agencies if Congress is voted to power. While local industrialists would be encouraged, steps would be taken to ensure proper compensation and rehabilitation for people being displaced due to projects, Mr. Jena said. Promising proper implementation of Justice M.B. Shah Commission’s recommendation on mining scams, the Congress manifesto said Rs. 60,000 crore would be recovered from those who looted minerals by auctioning their property. While all registered unemployed youths would be provided allowance in five years, over two lakh vacant posts would be filled, Mr. Jena said adding minimum pay would be fixed for those working in unorganised and private sector. Stating that all revenue villages would be converted into panchayats, he said a pension scheme would be introduced to cover all marginal and handicapped farmers and landless farm labourers. Similarly, farm loan would be given at 1 per cent interest and loan up to Rs. 25,000 will be interest free and farmers would be provided free electricity. All landless persons would be identified and given permanent land patta and pucca house in a time-bound manner, the OPCC chief said adding no one would be allowed to die of starvation for which food security law is in place. All urban slum dwellers would also be provided with pucca houses, Mr. Jena said. For the welfare of minority communities, there would be a minority commissioner and special policy would be framed for security of these communities, he said. Recommendations would be made for establishment of permanent benches of Odissa High Court in western and southern regions of the State, while steps would be taken for setting up four medical colleges in these two regions. The headquarters of Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) would be shifted to a main location in western region to make it more effective, he said. (The Hindu 5/4/14)


15. Charges framed against eight in investment scam (5)

MUMBAI: The special Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act court on Saturday framed charges against eight persons in the alleged multi-crore investment Suman Motels scam. Over the years, several complaints were filed by investors who were unable to recover funds deposited in a time-share investment scheme of Suman Motels. Suman Motels had floated 12 investment schemes offering stakes in holiday homes, plantations and resorts. “The company floated bonds, certificates, promissory notes and even advance cheques, all of which bounced, and investors were left in the lurch,” said Chetan Kothari, an RTI activist. (Times of India 6/4/14)


16. PIL questions govt inaction against tainted officials (5)

HYDERABAD: A public interest petition was filed in the AP high court on Saturday urging it to direct the state government to explain why it is not according sanction to prosecute the officials facing corruption charges. The petitioner, advocate O Yella Reddy of Secunderabad, complained that the state government has been consistently failing to grant prosecution permission even in cases where the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) had recommended it. He sought a direction to the government to submit a detailed report to the court explaining its inaction, while alleging that it is shielding corrupt officials. He also wanted the government and ACB to disclose the information regarding corrupt officials to the general public as it would facilitate people to come forward and give evidence against them. The petitioner submitted that there are a total of 1,860 cases wherein the ACB had recommended prosecution from 2005 to 2014 (till Feb this year). About 817 cases of trap and disproportionate assets were pending during this period. The chief secretary and ACB director general were named as respondents. HC to review safety norms for power plant workersThe AP high court has taken up the cause of those working in coal-based power plants. In accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta has decided to oversee the steps initiated by the State, Centre and statutory authorities in putting in place relevant rules and regulations, health and safety norms for those working in various Coal Fired Thermal Power Plants (CFTPPs) in Andhra Pradesh. In January this year, the Supreme Court had issued directions while dealing with a case pitting the Occupational Health and Safety Association against the Union of India. The petition pertained to framing of guidelines with respect to occupational safety and health regulations to be maintained by various industries, constituting a committee to monitor the working of thermal power plants in AP.  (Times of India 7/4/14)


17. PGMET scam accused sent to judicial remand (19)

VIJAYAWADA: Four students and seven brokers who were arrested by the CID sleuths in Hyderabad on Monday in connection with PGMET-2014 scam, were produced before the Additional City Metropolitan Magistrate here on Tuesday, and sent for 14 days judicial remand. Today being a holiday on account of Sri Rama Navami, the accused were produced before the judge at his residence. With these 11, the total number of persons arrested has gone up to 20. Earlier, about nine days ago, two brokers and seven students were taken into custody. The brokers who were produced before the Magistrate today include — Ch. Bhushan Reddy, Paulson, Kistappa, Chakravarthi, Vijay, Abhimanyu and Patrik. The students includes Ch. Rama Rao (14 ranker), Ch. Sai Praneeth (15), K. Ramana (26) and P. Bharath Kumar (7).

Probe. The probe was ordered by Governor and Chancellor of Dr. NTR University of Health Sciences E. S. L. Narasimhan, after students and PG aspirants, raised hue and cry over some students with questionable credentials, securing top ranks in the examination. After a detailed probe by the CID, it was assessed that the PGMET-2014 question paper was secured by the brokers before hand and sold to a select group of students who secured top ranks. (The Hindu 9/4/14)



18. Tribal people to confront leaders over fate of villages (6)

ADILABAD: Tribal voters in over 40 villages falling under the buffer zone of Kawal Tiger Reserve (KTR) in the Assembly constituencies of Khanapur, Bellampally and Asifabad in Adilabad district continue to be worried over rumours of their villages getting evicted as part of the development plans for the only Tiger Reserve in Telangana. “We will question leaders who come to us seeking votes,” asserts Atram Letha, a Kolam bamboo artisan from Ravunur Kolamguda on the border of Sirpur (U) and Tiryani mandal in interior Asifabad constituency. The issue has been hanging fire since the declaration of the 892 sq. km. area of Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, mainly located in Jannaram forest division, as a Tiger Reserve in April 2012. The plan for the development of KTR includes relocation of four tribal villages located within the core area with the consent of the inhabitants. The government has offered a rehabilitation package of Rs. 10 lakh for each member of the family in these villages — Alinagar, Dongapalli, Malyal and Maisampet which was agreeable to the inhabitants. Tribal people, however, grew apprehensive when an area of 1,100 sq. km. encompassing the over 40 habitations in question around the KTR was incorporated as its buffer area. “Authorities say that there will be no eviction in the buffer zone but we do not trust their word,” says Letha. “We want leaders to settle the matter once and for all,” demands Jugnaka Ramu of Dampur village, which lies on the fringe of the buffer zone in Tiryani mandal. “We do not want to be dispossessed of our villages and lose our livelihood,” Letha says. His fear stems from the rumour that his village will be resettled far away from the bamboo forests from which he ekes out his livelihood. (The Hindu 6/4/14)


19. ‘Atrocities on tribals by Cong, BJP gov led to rise in Maoism’ (6)

Raipur: Senior Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan today held atrocities on tribals during the rule of both Congress and BJP governments responsible for the rise in Maoism in Chhattisgarh. “The parties looted natural resources of tribals. They (tribals) have suffered huge atrocities when they took stand for their rights. Even today, thousands of tribals are languishing in jail. All these things gave rise to Maoism,” the lawyer-turned politician said in a press conference here this late evening. “I squarely held responsible Raman Singh government and Congress for this,” he said. He also accused ruling BJP of snatching farmers’ land for developing new Raipur capital without providing them adequate compensation. Bhushan was in the state to campaign for AAP candidate Soni Sori who is contesting from Bastar Lok Sabha seat which is going to polls on April 10. “Both BJP and Congress gave preference to dynasty politics in selecting their candidate from Bastar while we have nominated a woman (Soni Sori) who is a victim of this system and has been fighting for the tribal rights,” he said. BJP has fielded the sitting MP and the son of a former MP late Baliram Kashyap, Dinesh Kashyap from Bastar seat. Similarly, Congress has fielded the son of former leader of opposition late Mahendra Karma, Deepak Karma from the seat. He further alleged the BJP government of not taking action against its MP and MLA who were allegedly linked with people involved in raising funds for Maoists. Kanker Lok Sabha’s sitting BJP MP Sohan Potai and Antagarh BJP MLA Vikram Usendi allegedly had connection with businessmen who were recently arrested on charges of raising fund for Maoists but no action was taken against the leaders, he alleged. Meanwhile, a group of youth reached the venue of the press conference and raised slogans against Bhushan. However, they left the spot later. (Deccan Herald 7/4/14)


20. Of 85 lakh tribals, not one up for Pune’s tribal centre (6)

Pune: Here’s an example of a big plan that went horribly wrong. Of the 85 lakh tribals in the state (figures as per the last census data), not even 15 are interested to come to the Pune-based Tribal Research and Training Institute for a course that could help improve their financial condition. The course, which was started amidst much fanfare with the nobel mission of preserving tribal community’s arts and improving their economic conditions is now staring at a gloomy future.  Merely four months after its inception, the course is struggling to get tribals to enroll themselves. The course imparts special training on making tribal arts such as Warli paintings, paper masks and bamboo products more commercially viable and suitable to newer markets.  However, after the first batch of 15 tribals completed the two-month long course, the centre struggled to get even a dozen people for their second batch. The reason – the remuneration paid is so less, that even the tribals are refusing to leave their families struggling for daily expenses while they learn in these hallowed halls. The centre pays Rs200 per day to tribals undertaking the course and provides lodging. All other expenses including food and travel are expected to be borne by programme participants, apart from their own household expenses. In December 2013, TRTI which is the first training centre in the state for tribal arts completed its golden jubilee, and was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee. Interestingly, he had at the function said, “As we have to learn from the tribal society, we also have a duty to empower rural and tribal communities and contribute to the guiding spirit of the Indian Constitution.” Speaking to dna, Santosh Nanaware, a museum curator of the centre, said, “In our first batch, we received a good response as 15 people attended the training session. However, we do not have a single person to train in the second batch as people say that they cannot afford to spend money on food and manage house expenses simultaneously.”  He added, “According to them, they are the breadwinner of their house and have responsibility to look after other family members. And thus they cannot stay here.”  On being asked how the centre will get the students in future, Nanaware said, “We have sent new proposal to the government where we have demanded that attending persons should be given meals and Rs300 remuneration along with accommodation.” The other reason for the low appeal for the course could be that most of the tribal communities stay in Nandurbar, Gadchiroli, Nashik, Thane and other parts of the state.  As a result, it is not easy for them to come here for training at Pune.  “The government is planning to start a new training centre in tribal districts as well,” added Nanaware. (DNA 7/4/14)


21. Tribals to Use NOTA Option to Protest Non-inclusion in ST List (6)

PUDUCHERRY: Nettapakkam Commune Pazhankudi Makkal Nala Sangam, an association of tribal community in Puducherry, has decided to use NOTA option to protest their non-inclusion in the Scheduled Tribe list. The tribals have been seeking recognition as Scheduled Tribe for more than 15 years. Though a survey done by a committee appointed by the government of Puducherry had recommended inclusion of five castes as Scheduled Tribes,  the recognition has not yet come through. Though the tribal community is backward, they are not entitled to benefits under ST. Till recently, they were included under ‘general category’. However, the Puducherry administration had granted them backward tribe status and one per cent reservation. But the community is still trying to get ST status. “We have sent representations to the State  and Central government, Union Minister of State for PMO, but nothing has materialised.  The candidates have neither included the issue in their agenda nor given assurance,” said G Shankar, presidet of the Nala Sangam. He said that around 18,000 tribal people are residing in Puducherry, who will exercise the NOTA option to reject all candidates, to protest their non-inclusion in the ST list. (Indian Express 9/4/14)



22. ‘BJP-led Gov would be detrimental to religious minorities’ (7)

Washington: Several eminent officials and experts from both India and the US have told lawmakers that a BJP-led government at the center would be detrimental to the basic rights of the religious minorities in India. Testifying before the influential Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress (TLHRC) on ‘The Plight of Religious Minorities in India’, the US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Vice Chair Katrina Lantos on Friday said the USCIRF has been closely monitoring the situation in India. “Many religious minority communities have reported to USCIRF that they fear that a BJP win, and the election of Narendra Modi as the country’s Prime Minister, will be detrimental to them and religious freedom. The BJP last led the national government between 1998 and 2004,” Lantos said. “Between 2002 and 2004 USCIRF had recommended that the State Department designate India a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC) for the government’s systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom,” she said. She said the USCIRF long has been concerned about the BJP’s and Modi’s close association with Hindu nationalist organizations. “The activities of these groups, especially those with an extremist agenda or history of using violence against minorities, often negatively impact the status of religious freedom in the country,” she said. Many of these groups exist under the banner of the Sangh Parivar, some 30 organisations including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). “Sangh Parivar entities aggressively press for governmental policies that would promote a Hindu nationalist agenda, and adhere in varying degrees to an ideology of Hindutva, which holds non-Hindus as foreign to India,” Lantos said. Meanwhile, Congressman Tulsi Gabbard, the first ever Hindu lawmaker in the US Congress, questioned the timing of the Congressional hearing and alleged that its goal is to influence the Indian elections. “I do not believe the timing of this hearing is a coincidence. The national elections in India begin on Monday and continue until May 12. I am concerned that the goal of this hearing is to influence the outcome of India’s national elections, which is not an appropriate role for the US Congress,” Gabbard said. (Indian Express 5/4/14)


23. Pakistan Christian couple gets death over ‘blasphemous’ text message (7)

LAHORE: A court in eastern Pakistan has sentenced a Christian couple to death for sending a blasphemous text message insulting the Prophet Muhammad, their lawyer said on Saturday. Judge Mian Amir Habib handed the death sentence to Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar in a jail in the town of Toba Tek Singh on Friday, defence lawyer Nadeem Hassan told AFP. Prosecution department officials confirmed the sentence. The impoverished couple, who are in their forties, have three children and live in the town of Gojra, which has a history of violence against Christians, Hassan said. Both denied the charges, Hassan said, adding that they would appeal the sentence. Maulvi Mohammad Hussain, the prayer leader at a local mosque in Gojra, lodged a complaint against couple on July 21 last year for sending him a text message which he said was insulting to the Prophet Muhammad. Hussain accused the husband of sending the message from his wife’s cellphone. However, defence lawyer Hassan said that the text originated from a cellphone which the couple had lost some time before the incident, so they could not have sent the message. The defence lawyer said that the couple had suspected rivals of implicating them into blasphemy case to settle personal scores and that they had ties with the complainant. Pakistan has extremely strict laws against defaming Islam, including the death penalty for insulting the Prophet Muhammad, and rights campaigners say they are often used to settle personal disputes. In 2009 a mob attacked a Christian neighbourhood in Gojra and burned 77 houses and killed at least seven people after rumours that a Quran had been desecrated. On March 27 another Christian man Sawan Masih was sentenced to death in eastern city of Lahore for insulting the Prophet Muhammad during the course of a conversation with a Muslim friend in the Joseph Colony neighbourhood in March last year. Some 97 per cent of the 180 million population are Muslim, and even unproven allegations can trigger a violent public response. (Times of India 5/4/14)


24. Parliamentary Panel Punches Holes in Minority Welfare Programme (7)

NEW DELHI: A parliamentary standing committee on social justice and empowerment headed by Biswal, who is seeking re-election from Sundergarh on a Congress ticket, has rated the UPA government poorly on minority welfare and expressed displeasure over the Centre’s failure to implement Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s 15-point programme for the Minority Affairs Ministry. Though the Prime Minister’s 15-point programme was announced in December 2005, nine years on, its implementation has been dismal. The 15-point programme is an umbrella project monitored by the Ministry of Minority Affairs. There is no separate budget for it, except for schemes implemented for minorities by the Ministry of Minority Affairs. The standing committee in its 46th report on “Implementation of Prime Minister’s New 15 Point Programme” of the Ministry of Minority Affairs, said, “The committee is shocked that despite a plethora of schemes for minorities, the Muslim community, being the largest minority, is still lagging behind in respect of socio-economic parameters and social status.” “Even if some progress has been made in the Muslim community in terms of relevant parameters, they have not been able to catch up with the rest of the population. This gives rise to the question of the efficacy and reach of the various programmes or schemes,” the committee said. The committee noted that apart from lack of relevant data on the output from the ministry, a huge amount of money specially sanctioned for the minorities has not been utilised properly and with the result, goals could not be achieved. “The committee are of the considered view that had there been concerted efforts and better synergy between the Centre and states, Muslims would have surged ahead in terms of developmental indices, as has been in the case of Christian and Sikhs, with the aid and assistance of the minority-targeted programmes and schemes involving thousands of crores year after year,” the committee said. During election season, every party bats for minorities. However, the committee was disappointed to note that no financial assistance had been asked for by states and no amount released during the year 2013 for appointment of Urdu teachers in schools.  “The committee cannot comprehend how there is no demand for Urdu teachers across the country, especially when the Sachar Committee Report categorically emphasized the need for Urdu teachers at the primary level, which according to it, should be imparted in Urdu where it is child’s mother tongue,” the committee saidReferring to state-wise grants sanctioned by Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) during the last three years, the committee said it is evident that the lion’s share of the grant-in-aid has gone to Uttar Pradesh, both in terms of money (Rs 1662.90 lakh) and the number of NGOs assisted (132), whereas other states with sizable population of Muslims such as Assam (6 NGOs and `86 lakh) have been given a pittance. (New Indian Express 6/4/14)


25. SC to J&K govt : Book culprits of Kishtwar violence (7)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to ensure proper investigation of all cases arising out of communal clashes in Kishtwar last year and asked the Commission of Inquiry set up by the state government to submit its report on the incidents within three months. A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam also upheld the state government’s policy in awarding a higher amount of compensation to state subjects who are victims of the violence. “The state government is directed to ensure due and proper investigation of all such cases registered in connection with the two incidents in question if such investigation has not been completed in the meantime and thereafter bring all such cases to a logical end in accordance with law by completion of the trial against the accused, wherever necessary,” it said. Communal clashes had broken out in Kishtwar town in Jammu region on August 9 last year leaving three persons dead and dozens others injured. Property worth crores of rupees was set ablaze by the rival communities, forcing the government to impose curfew and seek army assistance in controlling the situation. The government then appointed a Commission headed by Justice R C Gandhi, a retired judge of the Jammu & Kashmir High Court, to inquire into the incident. “We, accordingly, request the Commission to complete its enquiry as early as possible, preferably, within a period of three months from today, if the final report has not already been submitted in the meantime. The government will naturally be duty bound to take all necessary and consequential steps on the basis of the said report as would be mandated in law,” the apex court said. In the meanwhile, the bench rejected a bunch of petitions filed by family members of contract labourers who were killed by militants at Mirbazar Tehsil Kelgam in Anantnag district in 2000. They had pleaded for enhanced compensation. Business Standard 7/4/14)


26. Anti-secularism act is treason, says Rajinder Sachar (7)

PATNA: Justice (retd) Rajinder Sachar has hit out at his critics who spread wrong propaganda about the famous comparative report on the condition of Muslims submitted by a panel headed by him, and said Muslims and Christians in India are not outsiders but an integral part of the country. “Secularism and socialism are fundamental elements of the preamble of the Constitution, without which no government can run, and those against these fundamentals can be tried for treason,” said the 90-year-old legal luminary while addressing a seminar on ‘Educational, economic and social uplift of Muslim minority in Bihar’. The seminar was organized by Tauheed Educational Trust here on Monday. The former chief justice of Delhi high court said secularism is wrongly defined by some people, but the fact remains that it is not against any religion. Secularism means religious equality and that no religion is superior to others, he added. Justice Sachar said all persons are equal before law and there can’t be any discrimination on the basis of religion, race, colour and region. The Indian constitution also accepted this position. He also quoted Swami Vivekanand, who had asked Hindus not to treat themselves as superior, and said all religions are one and Vedantism was incomplete without Islam. “The country can’t progress without equal rights and participation of Muslims and Christians. Discrimination on the basis of majority and minority is sheer foolishness. The governments should examine conflict as a result of discrimination and inequality in society,” he said. Justice Sachar said his report, which he submitted in 2006, is a comparative study of the condition of Muslims and other religious groups and so far nobody could prove his findings wrong. Lauding the work done by the Bihar government for Muslims, he said the state government made good schemes in 19 districts where Muslim population is 25 to 30% and above. “Targeted schemes should be made for minorities and implemented at block level,” he said quoting his recommendations. Justice Sachar also lauded the teachings of Islam and said no other religion gave so much stress on education, equal rights to women and right of inheritance. He also condemned the attitude to see Muslims with suspicion in the wake of terrorism. He referred to the December 6, 1992 demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and said the Lucknow high court had observed that those involved in this act were not suited to run government. The Supreme Court had also put its seal of approval on this observation. Following the shameful tragedy of December 6, 1992, its anniversary should be observed as national mourning day, he added. (Times of India 8/4/14)



27. Will parties help 50 million domestic helps get a fair deal? (8)

NEW DELHI: Estimates say there are over 50 million of them in the country. Yet, domestic workers remain unrecognized and unaccounted for in the legal framework. Their demand for a legislation to recognize and regulate domestic work isn’t new. But as India heads to the polls yet again, hardly any party raises their issues. Mostly women, domestic workers refuse to be drowned in the overarching definition “marginalized”, for fears of violence, abuse and trafficking stalk them like never before. “We domestic workers of India, a large number of us women hailing from dalit, backward and tribal communities, petition parliament through you to enact an appropriate law for our protection,” this is from a petition 1 lakh domestic workers submitted to MPs last year after a public rally. The petition said they were part of the National Platform of Domestic Workers an umbrella formation of over 20 organisations representing workers across 15 states. Delhi alone has an estimated 10 lakh workers. With their families, they account for 30 lakh national Capital voters. To reinforce their vulnerability, the petition cites the fact that till date there is no precise data on their numbers. “Our estimated numbers vary from 4.75 million (NSSO 2005) to over 90 million. The former is a gross under estimation, the latter may be exaggerated. It can be safely estimated that we number more than 50 million,” it says.  The network’s national convenor, Subhash Bhatnagar, says beginning with the Domestic Workers (Conditions of Employment) Bill, 1959, there’ve been many attempts to legislate for this sector, without success — the most recent being the Domestic Workers (Conditions of Service) Bill, 2009. But there still isn’t an Act of parliament to protect the largest and fastest-growing sector of employment for women in urban areas. Rishikant from NGO Shakti Vahini talks of the rising cases of traffi cking. Due to uneven development in many states with substantial tribal population such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bengal, Assam and Orissa, the migration of women to the big cities has been on the rise. “The migration happens through unregulated placement agencies that often indulge in human traffi cking,” Rishikant says. NGOs working with domestic workers say traffi cking in Delhi /NCR has grown over 10 years. “Many girls end up in exploitative circumstances and are treated as slaves. Placement agencies make huge profi ts and human traffi cking victims never get salaries for their back- breaking work,” he says. (Times of India 7/4/14)


28. Govt to launch insurance scheme for girl child (8)

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government will soon table an insurance scheme under which a girl child born in below poverty line families will get Rs 1 lakh for education on turning 18. Mooted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development,the scheme —Sukanya —will be tabled in the Cabinet meeting on Friday. to help us personalise your reading experience. Under the scheme,if a girl child is born in a BPL family,the government will deposit Rs 21,200 in her name after January 2014. “The girl will get Rs 1 lakh on maturity after she is above 18,for her education purposes,” said an official. Earlier,WCD Minister Varsha Gaikwad,who had initiated the scheme,had met with opposition from the finance department and Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar in view of the possible burden on the state exchequer. “Over 2 lakh girls are born every year in BPL families and they are expected to be covered under the scheme,which is likely to cost the state government around Rs 576 crore,” said the official. The ministry is also expected to table a proposal aimed to provide financial aid to rape and acid attack victims in the next week’s cabinet meeting. Around Rs 3 lakh would be granted as financial assistance to victims of rape and acid attacks for their treatment,legal aid,counselling and rehabilitation purposes,” added the official. (Indian Express 8/4/14)


29. Supreme Court notice to Maharashtra government on women’s safety (8)

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre and Maharashtra and Gujarat governments and has sought an ‘action taken’ report from their agencies on women’s safety measures. The apex court’s order came after a PIL filed by a Delhi advocate on the basis of a TOI report about a woman whose breast was cut off by a pimp for her refusal to join the flesh trade. A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and P V Ramana acted immediately when advocate Kumud Das presented the PIL and sought judicial intervention for protection of women. She said the TOI report highlighted a gruesome reality. The SC will hear the PIL again on April 15 and directed that in the meantime the local police must “file an action taken report and status on the health condition of the victim regarding the incident published in the Times of India (Delhi edition) dated March 24, 2013 —Women says no to sex trade, pimp chops off her breasts”. The TOI report said that the victim, who hails from a poor family in Gujarat, was promised marriage and lured to Mumbai where she was sold for Rs 30,000 to a brothel owner and pimp, Ruby Munshi, in Bhiwandi. (Times of India 9/4/14)


30. Criminalisation of politics affects women most: Brinda (8)

Mangalore: Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat on Tuesday reached out to the people on issues of the region, including the talk of a ban on arecanut, assaults on women, and the “criminalisation of love”. While campaigning for CPI(M) candidate K. Yadav Shetty from Dakshina Kannada Lok Sabha constituency, she referred to the rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl near Ujire in October 2012. Ms. Karat said: “A person with mental disabilities was arrested to protect the actual culprits. Political parties go to police stations not with the victim, but to protect the accused. The criminalisation of politics affects women the most.” Referring to the recent sexual assault of a woman councillor here allegedly by right wing activists, and assaults on inter-faith couples, she said there was a “criminalisation of love” where there was no safety in consensual relationships. She said the “tragedy” of Indian politics was that both the national parties were an “unholy alliance” that worked for the interest of the corporate sector. “There is no difference between the manifestos of the two parties… They want to remove the little labour laws there are, to benefit the industries. The BJP uses tax terror in their manifesto. Terrorism implies attack on innocents. In the BJP’s language, this implies not price rise that affects the ordinary person, but taxes that are levied on corporates,” Ms. Karat said and added that in the process, the rights of health activists, beedi, anganwadi and midday meal workers were ignored. She lambasted the ‘Gujarat model of development,’ saying the State had high malnutrition rates and the “worst” record in the public distribution system. The Left had consistently demanded a universal, right to 35 kg of rice at Rs. 2 a kg. “The Hindutva agenda is sure to spread under Modi…,” said Ms. Karat. With the Congress being “an army without soldiers,” she believed it was only the Left and regional parties that could defeat the BJP. Terming the BJP manifesto as representing corporates and Hindutva, Ms. Karat said the three divisive points of the Hindutva agenda that had been “kept on the back burner” by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government in 1998 were now back in the “forefront”. (The Hindu 9/4/14)



31. U.S. gives Mumbai police equipment to fight terror (12)

New Delhi: The Mumbai Police on Thursday received counter-terror equipment from the United States. The explosive incident countermeasures equipment, worth $300,000, which include explosive ordnance disposal suits, specially designed helmets, disruptors and scanners, were handed over to the Mumbai Police, a statement from the U.S. Embassy here said. Addressing a special function organised to hand over the equipment, the outgoing U.S. Ambassador, Nancy J. Powell, said the relationship between the U.S. and India, the oldest and largest democracies in the world, was very strategic. “Our two nations are committed to fighting terrorism and working to make life safe for all. I am delighted to give explosive incident countermeasures equipment worth $300,000 to the Mumbai Police to aid in the fight against terrorism,” she said. Since the first anti-terrorist assistance programme in 1995, the U.S. State Department has partnered with the Government of India in delivering 113 courses to the Indian Police. More than 2,000 officers have received training. “Since my arrival to New Delhi, the U.S. has contributed approximately $10 million in training and equipment through the anti-terrorist assistance programme,” Ms Powell said. The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD-9) bomb suit and helmet have been designed with direct input from bomb disposal technicians to provide the highest degree of modular protection and operational flexibility, the statement said. The helmet offers protection against fragments with velocities of over 683 metre per second, is made of high-strength fibre and weighs only 3.6 kg with visor. The ergonomic design allows easy movement and good visibility without strain. (The Hindu 5/4/14)


32. IM terrorists brought to Kerala (12)

Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 5 : Indian Mujahideen (IM) head Tehseen Akhtar alias Monu and another top militant Waqas were on Saturday brought to Kerala for collecting evidence. “They were brought to Cochin in a special aircraft and from there to Munanr in Idukki district in separate helicopters,” reported CNN-IBN. The Special Cell of Delhi Police arrested Akhtar, who is the India commander of terrorist outfit Indian Mujahideen (IM), on Mar 25. According to the police, Akhtar was heading the outfit post the arrest of IM founder Yasin Bhatkal. He was interrogated by a joint team of Delhi Police Special Cell and central intelligence agencies. This came after four IM terrorists were arrested by the Special Cell of Delhi Police from two locations in Rajasthan on Mar 22 evening. The arrested terrorists were identified as Waqas, Mahroof, Mehraj and Saquib. “One of them, Waqas, is alleged to be the chief bomb-maker of the banned outfit and a close aide of its jailed co-founder Yasin Bhatkal,” NDTV channel reported. Waqas, a Pakistani national, is one of the most wanted men in connection with several blasts in the country, including the serial blasts in Mumbai in July 2011 that killed 27 persons and injured over 130. (New Kerala 5/4/14)


33. Militant killed, two policemen injured in Kashmir gunfight (12)

Srinagar: A militant was killed and two policemen injured Monday in a gunfight between security forces with separatist guerrillas holed up in a house in in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district, police said. The exchange of fire was still on late in the evening. One of the two militants believed to be in the house in Zunrishi (Chokibal) village of Kupwara district, 130 km from here, was killed in the operation launched by security forces on specific information, a senior police officer said. “When the security forces cordoned off a house and challenged the hiding militants to surrender, they started indiscriminate firing at the surrounding security forces,” he said, adding that two police personnel – an assistant sub-inspector and a constable – were injured. “The cordon around the house where the militants are hiding was tightened and the injured policemen were shifted to hospital for treatment,” he added. He said exchange of firing and the security forces was going on as on 9.30 pm. (Zee News 8/4/14)


34. High court acquits 6 persons accused in terror conspiracy case (12)

HYDERABAD: A division bench of the high court on Monday set aside the conviction of six persons in the infamous 2005 Arms Procurement Case related to terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and acquitted all of them. Jahangir Khan, Shabbir Ahmed, Ravinder Kumar, Mohammed Yaseen alias Pappu, Zohra Nishat and Shaik Awadh, all associates of self-styled commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Mujeeb Ahmed, were arrested by the sleuths of Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Hyderabad police in December 2005 for allegedly hatching a criminal conspiracy against the state by procuring sophisticated AK 47 rifles from Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin of Pakistan. The illegal arms procurement and criminal conspiracy case was busted in Rajasthan after the Ajmer district police arrested a truck driver Shabbir and cleaner Ravinder and recovered AK 47 rifles from their vehicle. The SIT booked them under IPC Sections 122 and 124 (A) and Section 23 (2) of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Mujeeb, who is accused number one in this case, was also convicted in section 39/40 of Indian Wireless Telegraphic Act. After four years of trial the first additional metropolitan sessions judge at Nampally criminal courts convicted Mujeeb Ahmed to life imprisonment in August 2009. The judge also convicted the other six accused to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment. The same year all the convicts filed an appeal in the high court and pleaded to set aside the order of the lower court. After hearing the argument of public prosecutor and defence counsels, the division bench of Justice L Narsimha Reddy and Justice M S K Jaiswal, while allowing the appeal of six accused, upheld the conviction of Mujeeb Ahmed. Two other accused, former Naxalite Nayeemuddin alias Bhongir Nayeem and Hizbul chief Syed Salahuddin, have been declared as fugitives. Mujeeb Ahmed is in Ajmer district jail following his conviction by a local court in the same case. (Times of India 9/4/14)



35. High Court Lawyers Cry Foul over Selection of Judges (19)

HYDERABAD: The recommendation reportedly made by the AP High Court collegium to consider the names of some of the advocates to fill up the vacancies of judges in the High Court has come in for sharp criticism from the general body of the AP High Court Advocates’ Association. The general body of the association demanded on Monday that the recommendations be recalled forthwith. At a meeting held in the association hall, it resolved to launch a protest against the appointment of judges to the existing High Court. There was difference of opinionover giving a boycott call. Members of the association, including Telangana Advocates’ JAC convener S Satyam Reddy, state Congress committee legal cell convener C Damodar Reddy, advocates Gandra Mohan Rao, V Raghunath, Javed, Chandrasekhar Reddy, P Govardhan Reddy and others said that the entire process of recommending the names of advocates by the collegium to appoint them as judges as unconstitutional, arbitrary, not in good taste and smacks of some unknown urgency before the state bifurcation. They wondered how the governor can process the recommendation of the collegium even before the appointed day i.e. June 2. “The collegium consists of two judges from outside the state and the remaining member is being elevated to the Delhi High Court as chief justice. Moreover, there is no representation from the Telangana region in the collegium. Therefore, the recommendation by the collegium is not proper.” They pointed out that the present strength of the High Court was 36. Earlier, it had functioned with only 24 judges. As such, there was no urgency to send the above proposal at this stage, it said.  The members condemned the process adopted while making it clear that the merits of individuals was not the subject matter. They contended that when the popularly elected governments were not in place at the Centre and in the state and on the eve of  formation of state of Telangana such a move was most unwarranted. The general body further demanded that the process for selection of junior civil judges also be stalled and the notification withdrawn as the subordinate judiciary was in the process of being bifurcated and allotted to two states.  The executive was authorised to make representations to the authorities concerned and chalk out agitation programme which includes abstaining from work. Advocates belonging to Seemandhra also attended the meeting. (New Indian Express 8/4/14)


36. Can Supreme Court impose life imprisonment without remission? (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, which has become increasingly reluctant to uphold the death penalty even for those guilty of brutal multiple murders, had 7 years ago devised a method to balance the scales of justice by imposing life sentence without remission, meaning the convict would spend rest of his life in prison. Award of life sentence without remission has raised a serious legal and Constitutional question – can the Supreme Court take away the Constitutionally conferred power on governments to remit sentence of a lifer after he/she has served 14 years in jail? Noted legal expert Fali S Nariman sought an early adjudication of this question, which he had raised more than five years ago and still remains pending. A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi agreed that the question needed to be referred to a five-judge Constitution bench and posted it for hearing on April 30. On April 6, 2010, after hearing Nariman and Attorney General G E Vahanvati, the apex court had agreed to consider the question, but felt impeded by a three-judge bench judgment of July 22, 2008 in Swami Shraddananda case. Swami Shraddananda was sentenced to death by a Karnataka trial court for murdering his wife, who was the rich granddaughter of former Dewan of Mysore. The high court upheld the sentence. On appeal, a two-judge bench of SC in 2007 gave a split verdict – Justice S B Sinha preferring life sentence without remission and Justice Markandeya Katju upholding death sentence. In 2008, a three-judge bench of Justices B N Agrawal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam unanimously endorsed Justice Sinha’s view and said: “We accordingly substitute the death sentence given to the appellant by the trial court and confirmed by the High court by imprisonment for life and direct that he shall not be released from prison till the rest of his life.” Appearing for writ petitioner Subash Singh Thakur, Nariman had questioned the Constitutionality of the apex court’s decision to order imprisonment of a person for life without remission, which is a power conferred on state and central governments by the Constitution. While admitting the petition for hearing, a bench of Justices H S Bedi and R M Lodha had on April 6, 2010 said: “The basic issue raised by Nariman in this case is whether the direction of the Supreme Court in Shraddananda case that imprisonment of life would mean imprisonment till the rest of the life encroached on the legislative field as it ignored the provisions of Article 21 of the Constitution and Sections 53 to 55 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 433A of the criminal procedure code.” Though the bench had four years ago referred the petition to the CJI for hearing by a larger bench, it had not been taken up for hearing. But, the apex court appeared careful in later cases, like the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case where it commuted the death penalty of three to life imprisonment with provision for remission of sentence. It is another matter that, the Tamil Nadu government immediately proposed to release the three by remitting the rest of their life term on the ground that they had already served more than 20 years in prison. The SC had to step in on the Centre’s petition to stay their impending release. Swami Shraddananda too has filed a petition posing the same question. Shraddananda was first lodged in Bangalore Central Prison and is now kept in Sagar Central Prison in Madhya Pradesh. (Times of India 8/4/14)


37. Don’t blame judges for death penalty: SC (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday reprimanded the two convicts in the December 16 gangrape case over their attempt to blame the judges for handing out death penalty. Summarily shooting down the endeavour to put the blame on the judges who dealt with the case, a bench of Justices B S Chauhan and J Chelameswar warned the convicts against adopting this line of argument as they challenge their conviction and the consequent punishment. The court also told the counsel for two the convicts not to seek refuge under a contention over inadequate and inefficient legal representation in the trial court and the Delhi High Court so as to say the conviction was a result of bad lawyering. “Don’t try to find fault with the judges… and with the lawyers. We cannot permit you to start levelling these baseless allegations against them. You have to argue only on the legal and factual points and not preach us about the judges and the lawyers,” the bench told advocate M L Sharma. Sharma represented convicts Mukesh and Pawan Gupta, whose death sentences have been stayed by the SC, pending their appeal. Sharma had tried to argue that a “grave miscarriage of justice” had been caused by sentencing his clients to death since there were serious issues in the manner their lawyers argued the matter in the lower courts. The bench however cut him short. “We don’t need to know how good you are and what you would have done had you represented them. We are also not interested in any public debate on the issue. Just tell us what according to you are the flaws in the judgments of the two courts that held you guilty and sentenced you to death,” the court said. At this, Sharma began by pointing to the injuries caused to the victim and the medical reports in this regard. But when asked by the court, he failed to show from the case record where these medical reports lay. The apex court then gave him a week to present all the medical records, including the post-mortem report of the Singapore hospital where the victim was treated before she succumbed to injuries. It extended till April 14 the stay on the execution of death penalty of the two convicts. Besides Mukesh and Pawan, the High Court had also upheld the conviction and death penalty of Akshay Thakur and Vinay Sharma. While dismissing their appeals, the High Court had termed the offence as “extremely fiendish” and “unparalleled in the history of criminal jurisprudence” while adding that the “exemplary punishment” was the need of the hour. The court also asserted that if this case was not the rarest of rare cases” then “there is likely to be none”. (Indian Express 9/4/14)



38. Farmers’ widows: Forgotten by state, neglected by society (20)

Amravati: The block development officer (BDO) in Amravati’s Teosa taluka had promised to help Bhavnatai Patil (name changed) get compensation for her husband’s suicide. Hence, when she went to meet him at his office the next time, she did not suspect anything to be amiss. But minutes after she reached, he allegedly forced himself on her. She fought back and hit him before escaping. In Amravati’s suicide-ridden villages, tales abound of the suffering inflicted on the widows of farmers who have killed themselves because of the agrarian crisis in the region. While candidates from national parties in the district slug it out ahead of the April 10 polls in suicide-hit villages in the state, farmers’ widows continue their battles. In Amravati’s villages, tales abound of the suffering inflicted on the widows of farmers who have killed themselves because of the agrarian crisis in the region. Stuck between a state that is apathetic to their plight and a society that is insensitive to their emotional needs, these widows often end up fighting several battles. According to Aarti Bais from the Apeksha Homeo Society, who works extensively with such widows, it is worse for those widowed in their 20s. Fearing society’s reaction if they remarried, these women seldom seek companionship. “After the husband’s death, they cannot forge new relationships with men. Even if they make friends with other women, they cannot share everything since they all belong to the same village.” Many face harassment from those they confide in, like the inlaws. “Young widows have often been sexually exploited by the father-in-law or the brother-inlaw. Often, their maternal families refuse to take them back, so they have nowhere to go,” says Bais. Bais adds that many men in the village change the way they look at a young widowed woman. “There are deliberate transgressions when they speak to her. She is also subjected to intense scrutiny by the village. Each step she takes attracts close attention.” A patriarchal mindset isn’t the only obstacle. Often, insensitive authorities cause serious financial problems. After her husband Sanjay killed himself by consuming poison, Sangeeta Dodke, 33, who got married at 20, had to take charge of the house. Even though the suicide was three years ago, she is yet to receive compensation for it. She saw a ray of hope with Sanjay’s insurance policy. But she has to submit his body’s post-mortem report to claim the money. The local police, however, claim they can’t find it. Gajanan Kale, another member of the Apeksha Homeo Society, says such roles are tough for women who have never stepped out of their homes. “When faced with extreme situations, they break down.” But in Saavla most widows are stoic. “At first, they depend on authorities for help. But when it doesn’t come, they realise the need to move beyond the tragedy and take charge of their life,” said Kale. (Hindustan Times 7/4/14)


39. Attack those who caused you distress, Raj tells farmers (20)

Mumbai: In his first election rally in Vidarbha’s Yavatmal district, infamous for a large number of farmers’ suicides, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray asked peasants to attack those responsible for their distress instead of committing suicide. “Rather than killing yourself, attack those who are responsible for your condition. Those who committed atrocities against you, those responsible for such crime, attack them and then commit suicide if you want,” he said on Tuesday. “Suicide can never be the solution to your problem,” Mr. Thackeray said while campaigning for his party’s candidate from Yavatmal-Washim constituency. Mr. Thackeray also attacked the Congress-NCP government in Maharashtra for neglecting pending farmers’ issues in the state. “It is really sad that the only thing for which this district is known for is farmers’ suicides,” said Mr. Thackeray. The Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday said that the Congress party is examining the speech of Mr. Thackeray. “Any decision on whether to file a complaint with the Election Commission or not will be taken only after going through his entire speech,” Mr. Chavan said. (The Hindu 8/4/14)


40. No aid yet, hailstorm-hit villages may shift loyalties (20)

On January 19, two days after a 20-minute spell of hailstorms destroyed the wheat harvest over his 2-acre farm in Amravati’s Bhivkundi village, 33-year-old Anand Panade had decided to end his life. Unseasonal heavy rainfall last June had already wiped out his cotton plantation and left him in a debt of Rs 1.2 lakh. But Panade was stopped by other farmers in his village before he could consume the fatal mix of klinol phenyl and alcohol. While the government claims to have already disbursed Rs 600 crore of the total relief package of Rs 4,000 crore announced for hailstorm-hit farmers, the situation on the ground is different. All farmers that The Indian Express spoke to in the district said they had not received any aid so far. An official from the relief and rehabilitation department said 12.75 lakh farmers had to be compensated in all and many had not been reached out to yet. Panade is one of the 130 families in this small village in Morshi taluka on the border of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. “Lemon-sized” hails started pouring here on the night of January 17 and destroyed the entire standing crop. But the government issued the special compensation package only for villages affected by hailstorms in February and March, angering farmers in this region. “Being a farmer is difficult, but the last two years have made us feel like it is a curse. No aid has reached this village either for last year’s heavy rainfall or this year’s hailstorms. The government knows that hailstorms lashed our village on January 17 but they announced the special aid only for February and March,” said Panade.  The village that has traditionally been voting for the Congress till now is now showing signs of shifting loyalties. Sarpanch Tejabhau Dike, who lost crop on 12 acres, said most farmers had now decided to vote for BJP candidate Ramdas Tadas even though they never saw or heard of him. Wardha is a stronghold of Congress, where sitting MP Datta Meghe’s son Sagar is contesting. “In 2009, 99 per cent of the votes went to the Congress. But the government has been inconsiderate to us at a time when our losses and debts are at an all-time high owing to natural calamities,” said Panade. Three farmers who have got pucca houses under the Indira Awas Yojana, too, are not happy. They complain about receiving only 8 hours of electricity for agriculture while the village in MP less than 6 km away receives 18 hours of power. Only 40 km away from Morshi is the Warud taluka, which was famously termed “the California of India” by Maharashtra’s first chief minister Yashwantrao Chavan. It is the only region in the state that exports orange saplings. The hailstorm on January 17 destroyed 70 per cent of saplings and half of the orange plantations in Shendurjana Ghat village… (Indian Express 9/4/14)



41. BJP manifesto comes under attack for ‘Hindutva agenda’ (26)

NEW DELHI: Political parties on Monday slammed BJP’s manifesto especially over inclusion of Ram temple and other ‘Hindutva’ issues, saying it was only aimed at hoodwinking voters. Congress leader Digvijaya Singh accused BJP of exploiting religion for political gains. Pointing to a recent sting on the Ram Mandir agitation, he said many VHP leaders were heard saying that the death of some Hindus was required to infuse a new life into the movement. “They spoke about religion and have exploited it politically,” the Congress general secretary said. He welcomed BJP’s offer to help madrassas, saying it is a good sign for country. Left parties also came down heavily on BJP for the mention of Ram Temple issue in its manifesto, saying it is intended to “consolidate” Hindu votes. Observing that BJP has reiterated its “hardcore Hindutva agenda” by highlighting issues like the Ram Temple, abrogation of Article 370 and a uniform civil code, senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said “this is its real agenda”.”That it will abide by the Constitution on the temple issue is a total eyewash. Which constitutional provision has endorsed the destruction of Babri Masjid,” he asked. Terming the manifesto as mere sloganeering, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah said people have witnessed in the past that issues like Common Civil Code, Ram Mandir and Article 370 are “handles” for BJP to come to power. Similar views were echoed by his father and president of National Conference Farooq Abdullah who said BJP was trying to fool people of this country by “selling dreams”.Omar reminded that this is not the first time that issues like Article 370, Ram temple and Common Civil Code have been raised. “Please tell me when did they actually address these issues when they were in power. What was the development done by them on these issues,” he said, adding, “This is purely an effort to hoodwink the voters of this country.” Naresh Agarwal of Samajwadi Party said the manifesto was only a showpiece and BJP was interested in grabbing power by any means. “Their manifesto is eating… and cheating. It is about grabbing power, doing the politics over dead bodies…,” he said. Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi questioned how BJP will fulfil its promise of building a house for every family and reaching drinking water to all villages. “Where from will money come? How long will it take? They should be clear about it,” he said. Meanwhile, in Farukkhabad, Union minister Salman Khurshid said “if taking revenge was a part of Modi’s manifesto, then it’s wrong. Revenge would pose a threat to the democracy.” While talking to reporters here, Khurshid attacked Modi saying how a party which could not frame its manifesto could claim to run the country.  (Times of India 7/4/14)


42. Besides Article 370, VHP demands jobs for Hindu youths (26)

Indore: Togadia said Hindus should also vote for a party which cares about their rights. Togadia said Hindus should also vote for a party which cares about their rights. Senior VHP leader Pravin Togadia today asked the political parties, especially BJP, to promise various concessions and schemes for Hindu community in their manifestos, apart from enactment of law to build the Ram temple in Ayodhya. “We on behalf of the majority of Hindus have demanded that all the political parties should promise to provide fee-reimbursement to Rs 10 crore poor Hindu students in their manifestos,” said Togadia, the international working president of VHP. Jobs should be provided to Hindu youths and security to over four lakh Kashmiri Hindus living in refugee camps, he said. The parties should also promise to enact a law to facilitate construction of the Ram Temple in Aydhya, he said. Cow slaughter and religious conversions should be banned, article 370 of Constitution should be removed and common civil code should be implemented, he said, listing other demands. He said he has high hopes from BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in this regard. When asked about Congress President Sonia Gandhi seeking support of the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid, Togadia said “in the democracy everyone has the right to seek votes”. He said Hindus should also vote for a party which cares about their rights. (Indian Express 7/4/14)


43. RSS, Ramdev, Ravi Shankar Engaging in Politics: Congress (26)

NEW DELHI: The Congress Tuesday moved the Election Commission against the RSS, yoga guru Ramdev and Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, saying they have been conducting political activities. It also urged the panel to keep a close tab on any campaign-related issue. In a complaint to the poll panel, K. C. Mittal, secretary of Congress’ legal and human rights department said that persons and organisations other than BJP “namely, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar have been conducting political activities without being registered as a political party”. The complaint said that the RSS claims to be a social and cultural organisation and also referred to reports about political message at yoga camps held by Ramdev in the capital. “Unfortunately, all of them are indulging in political activties without following down norms laid down by the poll panel for free and fair elections,” the Congress alleged. The party urged the poll panel to issue instructions so that all activities and movements relating to election campaign were monitored and video-graphed. It said that any activity to arouse religious feeling to seek votes in the name of religion, caste or community should be booked under the relevant laws. The Congress said special observers may be deputed to ascertain the actual expenditure incurred by organisations and “saints” indulging in campaigning and it should be added to the account of the respective candidate. (Indian Express 9/4/14)



Posted by admin at 7 April 2014

Category: Uncategorized


1. Info on MLAs’ Assets Held up for 16 Months (1)

HYDERABAD: For nearly 16 months the information on year-by-year appreciation of the declared assets of MLAs and MLCs sought under RTI Act continues to elude the RTI applicants as the Assembly and Council authorities delaying their response. This, despite the authorities admitting that RTI petitions on the subject were piling up. The information sought being a public document according to Assembly rules makes RTI activists wonder what prevents its disclosure. Rule 364 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in AP Legislature states, “Every member should declare his/her assets and liabilities to the Speaker within 30 days of taking oath and, thereafter, shall declare only whenever there is a change in his/her assets and liabilities before July 31 next, while in office. Such declaration shall be treated as a public document.” Secretary of the AP Legislature Secretariat S Raja Sadaram, however, cites suspended animation of the legislature as the latest hurdle in the process. “Of course, it is a public document but the issue is still pending with the ethics committee which does not exist now. Some legislators have declared their assets but a considerable number have not. It is not a penal offence,” he says. Rakesh Kumar Dubbudu, who had filed a petition seeking details of year-by-year appreciation of assets of MLAs and MLCs in November 2012, is yet to receive a response even after a second appeal. “Since it is a public document, there is no question of hiding it under the pretext of ethics committee or any other committee. A public document has to be in the public domain. This is once again an attempt to hide information which is supposed to be public in the first place,” he points out. Chief information commissioner Jannat Hussain, without admitting that many petitions on second appeal were pending before him, just said that it was a public document and had to revealed. Another official at his office, suggested, “Since the commission is keeping silence, it is best to file an ad-joinder petition before the High Court keeping the upcoming elections in mind.” The second appeal, made in February 2013, is still pending despite Dubbudu’s appeals to the CIC several times in writing. “I have requested the CIC multiple times in writing that this hearing be expedited since this is an important issue with elections approaching. The SIC has decided not to act on this. With elections just a month away, I hope that the SIC does something on this,” he hopes. Responding to Dubbudu’s RTI, Assembly officials said some information was available on their website and as for the rest of the information the issue is pending with the ethics committee. A webpage meant to divulge the said information on the AP Legislature website launched in July 2012 is still under construction. (New Indian Express 2/4/14)


2. No RTI reply, BMC to pay Rs 50,000 to South Mumbai man (1)

MUMBAI: The state chief information commissioner (CEC) has directed the BMC to pay Rs 50,000 compensation to south Mumbai resident Nandu P Kapadia who had sought information under an RTI application, but did not get it within the 30-day stipulated period resulting in his house on Princess Street being demolished. This is the second such landmark ruling by the state CEC. In 2013, the Mumbai University was told to pay Rs 1 lakh compensation to an RTI applicant, who had sought records of the minutes of the management council meetings in the last 10 years. After hearing Kapadia’s complaint, state CEC Ratnakar Gaikwad directed the first appellate officer to ensure payment of the compensation before April 30, and issued a show-cause notice asking the officer to appear before him for clarifications. “If not, then a penalty will be imposed on the officer,” the order said. The penalty can be up to Rs 25,000. On October 11, 2013, Kapadia filed an RTI plea seeking information from the C ward office on certain documentary proof related to his property, which was under litigation, that had to be presented in court. When he did not get the information, he approached the first appellate officer on December 6, 2013. The officer ordered that Kapadia get the information within seven days, but he never got it. Kapadia told Gaikwad that the official neither responded to his plea properly nor told him that he had to deposit an amount to get photocopies of the required documents. “He has suffered an irreparable loss following the inability of the officials in giving information within the stipulated timeframe,” the order said. (Times of India 2/4/14)


3. HC stays CIC order on withdrawal of security clearance to GVHL (1)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has stayed a Central Information Commission order directing the Ministry of Home Affairs to disclose the reasons behind withdrawal of security clearance to Global Vectra Helicorp Limited (GVHL), the country’s largest private helicopter company. Justice Manmohan was of the “prima facie” view that the ministry was exempted under the Right to Information (RTI) Act from providing the information as directed by the commission. The order had come on the plea of the ministry which has contended that security inputs of government agencies cannot be disclosed as it would impede the process of ongoing probe by agencies like Enforcement Directorate. “Having heard counsel for petitioner, this court is prima facie of the view that exemption under Right to Information Act 2005 are attracted to the present case. Consequently, the order of the CIC dated November 20, 2013 is stayed till further orders,” the court said. The Central Information Commission (CIC) had directed the ministry to broadly provide the reason, as available on the record of the public authority, for withdrawal of the security clearance of GVHL, after which the company’s Non-Scheduled Operator’s Permit was suspended by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The CIC had passed the order on the plea of an RTI applicant Rakesh Soni. The court also issued notice to Soni and others and has sought their responses by the next date of hearing September 30. (Business Standard 6/4/14)


4. RTI impact: Neither transparent, nor opaque but translucent (1)

New Delhi: The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the Centre lists the Right to Information (RTI) Act – enacted in 2005 – among its foremost contributions during a decade in power. While Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi insists the Act brought transparency into governance, Congressmen say it has become the party’s bane. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international non-governmental organisation that works for human rights, estimates four million RTI applications were filed across the country in 2011-12. A majority of these, 33.8 per cent, were filed in Maharashtra, followed by 32.5 per cent with the central government. Armed with a right to seek information from public authorities, citizens have been using it to expose corruption and misgovernance. Prominent scams unearthed through the RTI include the Adarsh Housing scam in Mumbai and the mismanagement of finances during the Commonwealth Games held in Delhi. Venkatesh Nayak from the Access to Information Programme of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in New Delhi, said, “Even in the ninth year of its implementation, the RTI has not realised its potential. As far as imbibing the values of transparency in governance and responsibility of citizens are concerned, these areas need to be developed.” Even the government did not realise the extent to which the RTI could be used to demand accountability, he added. So, when the Central Information Commission ruled that the six national political parties were covered by the RTI, the Congress-led UPA government moved the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013, to curtail it. But the controversy it generated forced Members of Parliament (MPs) to send the Bill to a parliamentary standing committee. The main obstacle to the RTI fulfilling its potential are bureaucrats who still treat it as a burden and provide information on a need-to-know basis. Nayak emphasises the right must be viewed holistically as a provider of information, supplemented by digitisation of records and routine disclosures. Transparency in governance also entails administrative reforms the authorities are reluctant to undertake. The ineffectiveness of information commissions is another factor hampering the RTI. Activists have been opposing the government’s practice of appointing retired bureaucrats as information commissioners. Those who spent their professional lives opposing disclosure of information are unlikely to be votaries for access to information, activists claim. The UPA has also failed to implement the awareness activities it was required to undertake in the countryside, thereby restricting the Act’s impact to cities. Maharashtra and Karnataka lead in the number of RTI applications filed mainly because these states enacted their own laws much before the central legislation. Again, several state governments appoint favourably disposed information commissioners and the commissions themselves are poorly staffed. As the band of dedicated RTI activists grows, several have become targets. Approximately 250 activists have been killed in the past nine years. This group is keenly awaiting presidential assent for the much-needed Whistleblowers Protection Act, 2011. Taking the right to information campaign a step further, organisations like the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative are working with the Comptroller and Auditor General, on social audit of public authorities. Politicians who have been attacking the CAG for its zeal in unearthing scams like those over selling air waves to telecom companies and allocation of coal blocks, could face a formidable challenge if ordinary citizens armed with the RTI were to aid the auditor. (Business Standard 7/4/14)



5. Rights Groups Want Views Reflected in Manifestoes (1)

BHUBANESWAR: As political parties try to reach out to all sections of the electorates by setting their priorities for the next five years and making a bagful of promises, several civil society and rights groups have seized the opportunity to ensure that their views are reflected in the election manifestoes. The State chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has recommended enactment of a legislation to protect and conserve Odisha’s heritage. In a memorandum to mainstream political parties Congress, BJD and BJP  State convener of INTACH A B Tripathy has pleaded for a heritage policy for the State. The organisation has further recommended  setting up special training centres for the continued skill training in ancient art forms like temple architecture, murals and carvings for capacity building. “The Archaeological Survey of India is neglecting the proper upkeep of the valued heritage of the State. The State Archaeological department is in moribund state. There is an urgent need to take these measures on a war-footing,” the memorandum said.  The Nisha Mukti Odisha, a voluntary organisation spearheading a public movement against sale of liquor, has called upon the political parties to impose  total prohibition. ‘Drushti Daan,’ which is committed to the cause of eye donation and combating corneal blindness, has approached the political parties for enactment of organ donation laws to facilitate eye donation. The Eastern India Philatelic Association, Bhubaneswar chapter, has also made a representation to the political parties to fight for the State, which is neglected by the Centre. “The State is not getting adequate representation on the postage stamp issued by the Government of India,” said Anil Dhil of the association. Patita Udhar Samiti, an organisation working for the welfare of commercial sex workers and destitute, has made a strong plea to the political parties for economic welfare measures in their agenda for these marginalised groups so that they can live a life of dignity. While organisations working for tribal and forest dwellers’ rights have drawn the attention of the political parties to their plights, the LGBT groups have demanded that they be covered under social security net. Several Child  Rights groups, non-governmental organisations like Action Aid, CRY and CYSD, senior citizen organisation like Helpage India and organisation fighting for the rights of women have also made separate representations to the political parties to accommodate their views in the manifestoes. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


6. UN asks Sri Lanka to cooperate with UNHRC (1)

United Nations: UN chief Ban Ki-moon has asked Sri Lanka to engage “constructively” and cooperate with its human rights body to implement a resolution calling for an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed during the final stages of the country’s civil war. Mr. Ban has “consistently underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law in Sri Lanka,” the UN Secretary General’s Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters here on Tuesday. “He welcomes the determination by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to advance accountability and promote lasting peace and reconciliation in the country,” he said. Mr. Haq said Mr. Ban “calls on the government of Sri Lanka to constructively engage and cooperate with the Office of the High Commissioner (for Human Rights) on the implementation of the resolution adopted last week by the Human Rights Council.” Mr. Haq was responding to a question on comments by Sri Lankan Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe that Sri Lanka would not participate or cooperate in the investigations into human rights violations. The Council had on March 27 voted to open an international inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the final stages of a decades-long conflict that ended in 2009. India had abstained from voting on the resolution which was adopted by a vote of 23 in favour to 12 against. The Geneva-based Council requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to undertake a “comprehensive investigation” into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations “with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability.” Mr. Haq said Mr. Ban recalled the commitments made to him on accountability by the President of Sri Lanka in their joint statement of 2009. The United Nations will remain engaged with Sri Lanka to support Sri Lanka’s efforts to make progress in accountability, reconciliation and a lasting political solution,” Mr. Haq added. The resolution had also called on the Sri Lankan government to release publicly the results of its investigations into alleged violations by security forces, including the attack on unarmed protesters in Weliweriya in August 2013, and the report of 2013, by the court of inquiry of the Sri Lanka Army. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay had stressed the need to ensure justice and accountability, including through the establishment of an independent and credible investigation, saying: “This is essential to advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress.” (The Hindu 2/4/14)


7. Row over timing of US panel’s Modi remarks (1)

WASHINGTON: A US Congressional panel’s hearing on religious freedom in India came under fire from some of its own members on Friday. They called it an attempt to influence elections in India, even as Hindu activists in the US said the partisan event was aimed at undermining BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi. The hearing by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC), named after a late Congressman whose holocaust survival resulted in a lifelong devotion to human rights, was deliberately timed to impact the election, US lawmaker Tulsi Gabbard, a self-described Hindu-American, told the panel, after a Hindu activist group complained that the panel had packed the hearing with witnesses who have an “ulterior motive”.”I do not believe the timing of this hearing is a coincidence. The national elections in India begin on Monday and continue until May 12. I am concerned that the goal of this hearing is to influence the outcome of India’s national elections, which is not an appropriate role for the US Congress,” Gabbard, a Democrat, told the panel. “We need to be especially careful not to directly or indirectly contribute to sectarian strife in India or other countries,” Gabbard added. “Any attempt by the United States to have an effect on the Indian elections will backfire,” Gabbard’s senior colleague Brad Sherman cautioned. Leaders of the Hindu American Foundation ( HAF) echoed similar concerns, noting the “unbalanced” panel of four witnesses, all of whom expressed concern over the prospective election of Modi as PM. A witness that would have offered a Hindu perspective to ground realities and the multi-dimensional nature of inter-religious tensions in India was not included, despite requests by some members of the TLHRC, the Foundation said. Witnesses who testified before the committee included Katrina Lantos Swett, vice chair, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch, Robin Phillips, executive director, The Advocates for Human Rights, John Dayal, member, National Integration Council, Government of India. Swett has been a leading advocate of continuing the US denial of visa for Narendra Modi. The panel’ s leading witness made no secret of her concern over a Modi-led government coming to power. “Many religious minority communities fear religious freedom will be jeopardized if BJP wins and the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi becomes Prime Minister. We hope that is not the case,” USCIRF’s Katrina Swett said. (Times of India 6/4/14)



8. Govt to continue focusing on AIDS prevention (3)

MUMBAI: From a programme that was wholly funded by foreign donors, India’s HIV/AIDS control programme now enjoys 67% domestic funding. “When we launched the National AIDS Control Programme-III, the government’s contribution to the programme was only 12.3%. But with NACP IV, the domestic funding has increased to 67%,” said Dr B B Rewari, who is the national programme officer with Naco (National AIDS Control Organisation). The percentage of local funding has increased mainly due to the fact that foreign funding is no longer available. In fact, the Planning Commission has earmarked Rs 13,400 crore for the next five year for HIV\AIDS control. “The AIDS control programme is one of the most successful health programmes of India. Every rupee that is allocated to it is spent in a transperant manner,” said the official. A big chunk of the budget allocated for HIV\AIDS control will be dedicated to advocacy or creating awareness about the disease. “We have to remember that 99.7% of India is not infected by the disease. We have to keep it that way. Hence, 60% of the budget will continue to be spent on advocacy,” said Dr Rewari. Around 24% of the budget is spent on providing care, support and treatment. (Times of India 1/4/14)


9. Aids Stigma Claims 4 lives (4)

NAMAKKAL: In tragic incident, a couple allegedly hanged their two children before hanging themselves at their house near here on Sunday night. Police sources said Govindaraj (45), his wife G Valaramathi, (35), their daughter G Priya (14) and son G Sarathkumar (16) were found hanging from the ceiling of their house located at a farm in Pottireddipatti near here on Monday morning. The incident came to light when a milk vendor went to their house for collecting milk. Since no one responded to his calls, the milk vendor peeped into the house through a half opened door and found them hanging. On information, top police officials including DSP A Rajendran visited the spot. “The girl, Priya has just completed here Plus Two board examinations while the boy, Sarathkumar, was a Plus One student,” the DSP said, adding that the Erumaipatti police registered a case and further probe is on. The bodies were taken to the Govt District Headquarters Hospital for autopsy. Meanwhile, inquiries have revealed that Govindaraj, who had been a truck driver, and his wife were infected with HIV and it could have driven them to commit suicide along with their children, police sources told. A suicide note, found at the site, stated that the properties belonging to the couple must go to their parents and a brother of Govindaraj. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


10. A lab staffer arrested in false HIV +ve report (3)

MUMBAI: The Charkop police arrested a staff of a Malad based pathology laboratory on Sunday who had allegedly gave false HIV positive report to a patient and cheated him. The police are inquiring about one more accused in the case. On Saturday, the police registered the cheating case against the arrested accused Rajendra Mehra and his wanted accomplice Geeta Mehra of a pathology laboratory, Pacific Lab, in Malad. The complainant, Joel Chettiar, 38, is a real estate consultant. Last month, he had submitted a blood sample at the lab for a routine blood investigation including an HIV screening. He was shocked when the report revealed that he was HIV positive. Chettiar was very worried and after an argument at home, he decided to get another HIV screening done where he tested negative. To be sure, he did a third screening which too was negative for HIV. He then approached a social worker and eventually the Charkop police station earlier this week. After an initial probe, the police registered an FIR on Saturday under sections 467, 468, 420, 34 of IPC against the Mehras. (Times of India 7/4/14)



11. ‘Court order on Land Act draws clear lines on implementation’ (4)

New Delhi: Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh today said the Supreme Court judgement upholding the retrospective clause of the new Land Acquisition Act has drawn “clear and humane lines” for the implementation of a significant clause in the law. He said that the March 14 judgement by a two-judge Supreme Court bench deals with land acquisition which had been pending for over the prescribed five year period (in the retrospective clause – Section 24). “In this case, the award was passed in 1995 and the parties had still not accepted compensation or parted with possession. In the light of this, the Supreme Court, relying on the retrospective clause, ordered the return of the land to the original owners,” the Minister said in a release here. The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, enacted by Parliament in September last year to provide just and fair compensation to those whose land is taken away for constructing roads, buildings or factories, came into force on January 1, replacing the 120-year-old legislation. Ramesh also said the Supreme Court had passed a similar judgement on the new law on February 2. “This judgement also relates to the operation and interpretation of Section 24 – the retrospective clause. The learned bench overturned a 2004 judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court (which had upheld a long pending acquisition) and quashed the quashed the acquisition, returning the land to the original owners,” he said. Welcoming the judgements, the Minister said, “This demonstrates the Hon’ble Supreme Court has drawn clear and humane lines for the implementation of a very significant clause in the law.” “These add to the growing list of important precedents which will have a far-reaching impact on those who have suffered historically from arbitrary acquisitions and give life to the intention behind the new law,” he said. (Business Line 1/4/14)


12. Probe allotment of land to metro rail: Country club to high court (4)

HYDERABAD: The Country Club of India Limited (CCIL) on Thursday said it would move the high court seeking a CBI probe into alleged irregularities in land allotment to the Hyderabad Metro Rail project. CCIL was responding to a notice by Hyderabad Metro Rail Limted (HMRL) to partially demolish their corporate office in Begumpet. Addressing the media, club chairman Rajeev Reddy said the move was illegal as the HMRL had given a no-objection certificate (NOC) for the office. HMRL was going ahead with the demolition process despite the high court staying the construction on the premises of the CCIL, he said. “The CCIL had spared over 1700 sq yards for the Metro Rail project in 2006, following which the HMRL issued an NOC to build the corporate office. We built the office only after receiving the NOC. But now the HMRL has issued a notice to partially demolish the building,” Rajeev Reddy said. Apart from CCIL, buildings including White House, Lifestyle and Varun Motors face the threat of demolition . Charging HMRL with deviating from norms and changing the alignment of the project to save properties of some vested interests at the cost of the traders in Begumpet, Reddy said there were irregularities in the land acquisition and allotment. “I see vested interests of real estate sector behind the move. We will request the High Court to order a CBI probe into it,” Rajeev said. (Times of India 4/4/14)


13. Over 300 hectares land lying vacant in SEZs in Odisha (4)

Bhubaneswar: More than 300 hectares (ha) of land are still lying vacant within the processing area of some of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Odisha. Aditya Birla Group owned Hindalco Industries Ltd, Saraf Agencies and stateowned Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (Idco)are the developers yet to utilise full land within their notifiedSEZs. In Hindalco’s aluminium products SEZ at Lapanga near Sambalpur, 115.70ha land is lying vacant. Saraf Agencies is yet to utilize 105.20 ha for its  mineral products SEZ at Chhatrapur in Ganjam district. The Kolkata-based developer had proposed to set up a titanium dioxide plant, committing an investment of Rs 1,200 crore. In the first phase, the company had decided to produce 10,000 tonne per annum (tpa) of high titanium slag and 6,000tpa of high purity pig iron. Similarly, Idco has used 20.44 ha out of a notified area of 106.26 ha within the IT SEZ at Jatni in Khurda district. According to data compiled by the Board of Approvals of SEZ under Union commerce ministry, developers like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)and Vedanta Aluminium Ltd (VAL) have achieved full utilization of land in their notified SEZs in Odisha. TCS has set up a software development centre in Bhubaneswar that has been notified as an SEZ. VAL’s1.25 million tonne per annum (mtpa) aluminium smelter at Jharsuguda set up as a sector specific Special Economic Zone (SEZ) at Jharsugudais lying idle presently for want of power. Due to non-finalisation of its SEZ policy by the Odisha government, VAL was unable to avail SEZ benefits. The ministry’s data reveals out of 47,803.77 ha area notified in seven SEZ zones- Cochin, Madras, Noida, Vishakhaptnam, Kandla, Falta and Santacruz Electronics Exports Processing Zone, 21,310.03 ha is lying vacant in the processing area. (Business Standard 4/4/14)


14. Settle Posco ore lease issue: Centre to Odisha (4)

NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked the Odisha government to resolve without delay the issue of giving iron ore lease to Posco’s Rs 52,000crore steel project, the largest ever FDI in India. The development comes in the wake of a high-level panel’s meeting last month. The committee was formed to address issues impeding mega projects in the steel sector. The South Korean steel player’s plans to set up a 12-million tonne steel plant at Jagatsinghpur entailing an investment of Rs 52,000 crore has been stuck for the past eight years due to regulatory hurdles and delays in land acquisition. In May last year, the SC had set aside an Odisha HC order that quashed the state decision to allot iron ore licence to Posco in Khandadhar hills. “The SC judgment on the matter should be initial point for finding the way forward to resolve the issue. The state government in consultation with the ministry of mines should discuss and settle the matter without further delay,” steel secretary G Mohan Kumar, who chairs the Inter Ministerial Group (IMG), has conveyed to the Odisha government. (Times of India 7/4/14)



15. Climate change may lead India to war: UN report (9)

NEW DELHI: Asia is facing the brunt of climate change and will see severe stress on water resources and food-grain production in the future, increasing the risk of armed conflict among India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, the latest report of a UN panel has warned. UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its report assessing impacts of climate change on human health, settlements and natural resources released on Monday, carried a dire warning. “The worst is yet to come,” it said, if no measures are taken to curb the ill-effects of global warming. India, like other developing economies, may lose up to 1.7% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) if the annual mean temperature rises by 1 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrialization level, hitting the poor the most. The report also predicts an increase in extreme weather events such as last year’s flash floods in Uttarakhand and cyclone Phailin in Odisha if steps are not taken to control the rise in temperature. “Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” R K Pachauri, IPCC chairman said while making the report public in Yokohama, Japan. The report says rise in temperatures would also affect ‘beach tourism’ in many countries. India surprisingly stands out as the most vulnerable among 51 countries where beach tourism is an important sector. Climate change is not just about the future. The report said people around the world were already getting hit as it directly affects livelihoods, reduces food-grain production, destroys homes and raises food prices. These trends will accelerate if climate change is left unchecked. Among other things, the report warns that climate change increases the risk of armed conflict around the world because it worsens poverty and economic shocks. “Climate change is already becoming a determining factor in the national security policies of states”, said a statement issued by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which has been working to arrive at a global climate deal by 2015 to fight the menace effectively through combined efforts of nations. Though the report doesn’t have country-specific predictions, its region-wise findings brought out many eye-opening conclusions for India. Aromar Revi, lead author of one of the chapters of this report, said the impacts of climate change would be felt severely in Indo-Gangetic plains, affecting poor people in the entire region. “The areas which are facing frequent floods these days may face drought like situation in the distant or near future. We cannot ignore the changes which are taking place either in the Indus river basin or in Brahmputra river system over the longer period,” said Revi, explaining the implications of the report in Delhi. Another lead author, Surender Kumar, explained how climate change would affect the poorer nations. He said if mean temperatures increased beyond 1 degree C, it would knock 3% off the GDP of developing economies…. (Times of India 1/4/14)


16. Reduced year-round flow killing Yamuna river (9)

NEW DELHI: A recent scientific study has established the need to maintain at least 50% to 60% of the total monsoon flow into a river throughout the year for transporting river sediment, biodiversity balance and preventing algal choking . The study found that Yamuna’s Delhi stretch gets only about 30% of the flow during the rains and only 16% during the rest of the year. Yamuna is overexploited and its flow needs a proper recharge for it to support life. Long-term overuse will terminally affect the river and its surroundings. The study published in the Current Science journal is the first attempt, according to its authors, to understand the minimum flow required for desilting and carrying debris. Godavari fares well with 70% of the total monsoon flow kept up throughout the year. The monsoon flow is also called ‘virgin-free flow’. Narmada, meanwhile, is gradually deteriorating with less than 50% of free flow all year round. The study has measured the size of sand particles and then calculated the discharge required to transport these particles. “These are approximate averages of how much flow is required to carry sand particles. Through various calculations we have deduced the velocity needed to carry these particles. This is the first such study, and Yamuna has fared very poorly. Its total free flow is extremely low,” said Vikram Soni of Jamia Millia Islamia, co-author of the study. The total monsoon flow is measured during July, August and September, when the waters peak. The study says that at least 50% to 60% of this peak level needs to flow during the remaining nine months. Activists have highlighted the issue. The study, co-authored by Shashank Shekhar of DU and activist Diwan Singh, points to heavy sewage discharge of grit and metallic waste. It explains why Yamuna is lifeless compared to other rivers. Before the river flows into Delhi, its depth is 0.6m through peak summer, which is too little for a fish population. The flow downstream of Delhi is mainly sewage. If the mean annual environmental flow is maintained at about 50%, some biodiversity can be revived. (Times of India 3/4/14)


17. March had lowest air pollution in 4 years, IITM scientists say (9)

NEW DELHI: This March recorded the lowest particulate matter (PM2.5) levels-fine, respirable pollutants-in the past four years. While this could seem like a relief at the moment, scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) say pollution levels are becoming increasingly unpredictable because of erratic meteorological conditions. The average monthly PM2.5 level dropped to 72 microgram per cubic metre this year from 112 (approximately) in March 2012. Scientists who analysed the data said the extreme pollution event in 2012 could be linked to the dust storm in the Gulf that time. “The 2012 event was like the Saharan dust cloud that has covered England. This year, winds are blowing from cleaner places at a relatively high speed and have swept away the pollutants. Such events can either take air pollution to dangerous levels, or bring it down. So while the local emissions are increasing, we need to factor in climate change,” says Gufran Beig, chief project scientist at System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research. The PM2.5 levels in 2008, 2009 and 2010 were around 100 microgram per cubic metre, he said. IITM, under the ministry of earth sciences, is preparing a report on the link between air quality and climate change. “The higher temperature raises boundary layer and a relatively high wind speed swept away the local pollutants. This brought down the PM2.5 levels in March 2014. The trend will change soon,” added Beig. While the monthly average for March 2012 may not seem too high, there were instances of PM2.5 levels crossing 250 microgram per cubic metre against a standard of 60. “Between October 7 and October 9 in 2012, peak levels touched 500 microgram per cubic metre. The winds that usually come from the northeast and are usually clean changed direction and came from northern India. Burning of the agricultural residue in Punjab and Haryana meant the winds were laden with particles that added to the pollution. Instances of extreme weather have affected pollution levels,” said Beig. “It’s obvious that the unusual rain in February and March this time has swept away all pollutants. But I am not sure if the 2012 pollution levels were linked to dust from the Gulf. We will have to go through IITM’s study to see the link with climate change,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of Centre for Science and Environment. (Times of India 7/4/14)



18. AMU to set up school for riot-affected kids (11)

ALIGARH: Disenchanted with the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, and sending out messages against it ahead of the elections, the Aligarh Muslim University Teachers’ Association has now set about offering riot-displaced children their right to education. The fraternity plans to build a school, and some members of the university’s teachers’ association and students went scouting for land in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts on Sunday. The university has a tradition of organizing an annual dinner in honour of its founder, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. Each year, teachers and students pool funds for the dinner. The amount collected this year for the purpose, amounting to Rs 60 lakh, will be used for the purpose of educating children living in the relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli. At least 5,000 students are expected to benefit from the effort. Vice Chancellor Lt General Zameerud-din Shah has constituted a committee for the purpose, comprising members of the teachers’ association and three students. AMUTA secretary Aftab Alam said, “Earlier we thought of sending the displaced students to schools already running in unaffected Muslim villages. But we discovered that the Muslim villages are without schools. Now we have to put more money into the effort, to build a school and find the land.” He said that ideally, the school could be located at the Kairana-Malakpur bypass, within easy reach of Shamli and Shahpur. “The children have suffered displacement, and many are still in trauma. We also have to hold sessions with families, because there are people in the camps who believe education is no use, and the children had better work,” said Alam. Faraz Badr, who is part of the university’s committee and has also worked with NGO Jagriti that helped some displaced children appear for their board examinations, said, “As part of my work with the NGO, we sent 85 displaced children to Shiksha Niketan (a nearby school). We have only three months before a fresh academic session begins, so we need to work on a war footing now.” (Times of India 1/4/14)


19. NGOs to push schools to follow rule, parents to use law (11)

The government and private schools have for two successive years failed to ensure that 25% of seats are reserved for underprivileged students under the RTE Act and that these seats are allotted to the intended beneficiaries. But the situation may be looking up, with student volunteers and NGOs getting ready to take needy children to schools in their neighbourhood and ensure they are admitted under the legislation. Schools and government officials in 2012 fell back on the excuse that they could not meet the stipulated number of admissions because the RTE Act was still in its pilot stage. Last year, they said the government had curtailed the time for admissions, making it hard for students to get admission under the law. Instead of taking up the problem of limited time with the state at the eleventh hour, groups of student volunteers have decided to get parents to complete admissions within the seven-day window between May 3 and 9 set by the government. In Project Knock Knock, student volunteers will reach out to economically backward families, inform them of their children’s rights under the RTE Act and urge them to make use of its provisions. “We want to move quickly in the short period available and get admissions for as many underprivileged students as possible,” said Kota Ashwin Kumar, a final-year engineering student working for the project organised by Becoming I Foundation. “We will organise an outreach venture between April 25 and May 2 to create awareness on the right of underprivileged children to study in good schools,” Kumar said. He said college students who want to take part in the campaign can apply at or contact 9884270145/9840841607. Meanwhile, NGOs under the RTE Forum, a group comprising several organisations, are also working to make sure the seats reserved for children from poor families are filled. “Individuals are ready to volunteer to ensure that children from poor families are not denied a proper education. This should help increase the number of RTE admissions,” said RTE Forum Tamil Nadu state convener K Murthy. Siva Amirthavalli of the Krishnagiri-based NGO Rural Organisation for Action and Development says the government is likely to receive the number of RTE seats by April 3. “We will then go from house to house to encourage parents to use the RTE Act for the benefit of their children ,” Amirthavalli said. The organisation has been keeping tabs on schools that illegally charge RTE students a fee after admitting them. (Times of India 3/4/14)


20. Treat children with special needs separately for admissions: Court (11)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Union and Delhi Governments to treat “children with special needs” (CWSN) separate from those belonging to the economically weaker sections (EWS) and the disadvantaged group for admissions in pre-primary and other classes. A Division Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice R.V. Easwar gave this direction on a public interest litigation challenging an amendment to the Right to Education Act and a paragraph of the Delhi Government guidelines for nursery admissions that clubbed these students with those belonging to economically sections and the disadvantaged group. The petitioner, Pramod Arora, is the parent of a child with special needs. He argued that he got his ward admitted with great difficulty to a Delhi school last year. The child could not progress and was neglected on account of lack of proper attention and infrastructure. He further submitted that the number of schools equipped with infrastructure and personnel to handle these students were very few. The nature of the guidelines is such that these children have very little chances of getting admission in these institutions. Allowing the plea, the Bench said: “This Court is therefore of the opinion that the petitioner’s argument is merited and has to prevail. First, the imperative of Section 26 [of The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995] is that the Government has to ensure that all CWSN are given access to education till age 18.” The Court directed the Delhi Government to “create a list of all public and private educational institutions catering to CWSN. This list shall be created zone wise. It shall include full details as to the nature of disability the institutions are able to cater to, the facilities available, whether residential or day-boarding, and the contact details for the concerned authority in that institution in case of any clarifications”. The Court also directed it to create a nodal agency under the authority of the Department of Education (DoE) for the processing of all applications pertaining to admission of CWSN. “This nodal agency shall structure a single form to be utilised by parents and guardians of CWSN for admissions into public and private institutions, including all relevant details required for the purposes of admission,” the Bench said. This Court had during the pendency of this petition directed the Delhi Government to ensure that a certain number of seats are set aside in the pre-primary and primary admission processes to 43 schools. The matter will now come for hearing on May 7. (The Hindu 4/4/14)


21. Disabled Kids Face Bias Under RTE: Study (11)

BANGALORE: Anjum (name changed), aged five, from KR Puram, is special. She suffers from a physical disability which has left her with tiny hands joined. Born to a disabled father and into a poor household, little did she imagine that she would go to school or hold a textbook in her hands. NGOs came to her rescue and worked hard to get her enrolled under the Right to Education (RTE) quota at a private school in Devasandra. Taufiq (name changed), an orphan, too was enrolled  along with her. But not all children are as lucky as these two. A study has found that disadvantaged children living with HIV and those with disabilities face discrimination at schools and the Education Department as a majority of RTE seats are taken by children from scheduled castes and tribes and other backward classes. The study covered 36 unaided schools in Bangalore North and Bangalore South  and 16 in Delhi. The study, titled ‘Inclusion of Marginalised Children in Private Unaided Schools under the RTE Act, 2009: An Exploratory Study’, has been brought out by rights group Oxfam India. It notes that the problem stems from the fact that neither does the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) maintain records on such disadvantaged children being admitted under the RTE, nor do schools indicate such admissions. Anjum and Taufiq belong to a very small per cent of kids who have made it to schools, says Premalatha, who works at the Association for Promotion of Social Action (APSA). The study says that certain disadvantaged groups such as children with disabilities have been left out in the larger pool of disadvantaged children. Orphans, street and migrant children and those with HIV are not included. But SC, ST and OBC children have benefited from this quota, with OBCs availing the most number of seats. Student enrolment under RTE last year paints a different picture. Of the 17,011 kids enrolled in 1,927 schools in Bangalore North and South, 69 per cent belonged to the OBC category, 28 per cent to SC and the rest ST. Rao said even the lottery process, conducted by schools that have surplus RTE applications, is not done in a fair manner for these kids. “While drawing lots, schools use only three categories — SC, ST and OBC. So we don’t really know where these disadvantaged kids figure,” he said. In fact, the study points out that there is an emerging issue of ‘multiple disadvantages’ as the definition of ‘disadvantaged’ doesn’t account for the complex multiple disadvantages existing on ground, for eligibility under RTE Act. According to a government order dated March 18, 2013, 16 per cent of seats of the 25 per cent quota are earmarked for children from disadvantaged and weaker sections (including OBCs), while 7.5 per cent is for SC and 1.5 per cent for ST. DPI statistics reveal that not a single child from this disadvantaged group was admitted under RTE Act in unaided schools. Meanwhile, only 69 children found seats in 5,790 aided schools across the state… (New Indian Express 7/4/14)



22. 33 booths shifted in Gadchiroli due to Naxal threat (12)

NAGPUR: Election commission has approved shifting of 33 polling booths to safer places in Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district while polling in four assembly constituencies will be held between 7am and 3pm. Around 22 polling booths in Aheri would be shifted along with six in Armori and five in Gadchiroli. In the last parliamentary election held in 2009, around 35 booths had to be shifted in Gadchiroli. Around 46 booths were also shifted to safer zones in the last assembly election. This time, polling at Amgaon (Gondia), Gadchiroli, Armori and Aheri assembly segments will be held till 3pm only. However, voters at Brahmapuri and Chimur assembly segments, which is also part of the Gadchiroli-Chimur Lok Sabha parliamentary constituency, can exercise their franchise till 6pm like rest of the state. According to deputy district election officer, Subhas Choudhari, the restriction on voting timing is to ensure that polling parties return to the base camps during the daytime itself due to Naxal threat. Though the official claimed tight security arrangement, he maintained that every precaution is being taken to ensure smooth poll proceedings. “District has been exempted from shifting the polling officials to other talukas during randomization due to inhospitable terrain and Naxal threats but they would be definitely deployed at different polling stations other than the places where they had been posted for regular duties,” he said. Collector and district election officer Ranjit Kumar stated political parties and candidates or their representatives have been asked to remain present when the electronic voting machines (EVM) are being readied in the first week of April. Party representatives, including independent candidates, were also present during randomization process when polling parties and EVMs were allotted booths last week to ensure transparency. “The lists generated after randomization of EVMs were also handed over to party members and representatives of the candidates,” he said. The administration informed that voters’ slips would be distributed through booth level officials in the first week of April. Apart from Gadchiroli, officials from Gondia and Chandrapur districts too were present during the randomization. The process was conducted in presence of general observer K Shrinivasan. (Times of India 1/4/14)


23. Maoists urge people to boycott polls (12)

Bhubaneswar: Urging people to stay away from the ensuing elections, the Maoists have called for a bandh in four southern Odisha districts where polling would be held on April 10. In an audio tape released to the media, Maoist leader Umakant of Bansadhara-Ghumusar-Nagabali Division has urged the people of Rayagada, Kalahandi, Kandhamal and Gajapati districts not to allow the political parties including the Congress, BJP, BJD and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as the leaders of these parties are trying to woo the people for power. “The BJD Government during its 15-year rule in Odisha has been exploiting the poor and innocent tribals while it has handed over the land, forest, mines, minerals and water to the companies,” he said, adding the policy of the ruling party would not be tolerated and the people should try their best to unseat the party from power this time. The Maoist leader has also informed that to protest the elections, the Maoist outfits have called for bandh on April 10 in these four districts. Reports said president of the Odisha Maobadi Party Sabyasachi Panda in an audio release has also given the bandh call in these districts. (Pioneer 2/4/14)


24. Naxal commander surrenders in Rajnandgaon (12)

Raipur: A Naxal commander surrendered before the police here on Saturday. The red-rebel was working for the Maoists since 2007, police informed, adding that the ultra was a commander of the Dallirajhara area committee and deputy commander of Pallemade local operating squad (LOS). He was deeply dissatisfied with the dual standards adopted by the Naxals, informed Additional Superintend of Police (Naxal Operation) YP Singh on Saturday. According to police, Dinesh alias Naval alias Billu, resident of Ghodagaon area of Khadgaon region, was working for the Naxals since 2007. Initially he used to paste posters for the ultras and in this way he came in contact with Maoists leaders. He worked for them for about six months after which he detached himself from the Naxal activities. However, in 2010 he formally joined the Naxal cadre and was given a 12-bore gun. In 2012 he was allotted a 303 gun and was made member of the area committee. While he was working for the Naxals he realised that the ground level Naxals had to live hard life. After closely watching the real condition he decided to shun the path of violence, police said. (Pioneer 6/4/14)


25. Naxal attack in Chattisgarh, CRPF official injured (12)

RAIPUR: A CRPF official was today injured when Naxals attacked a camp of paramilitary forces in insurgency-hit Sukma district in southern Chhattisgarh. The incident took place at the camp of 150 battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force in the premises of Chintagufa police station early this morning, Sukma Additional Superintendent of Police Neeraj Chandrakar told PTI over phone. Armed rebels opened indiscriminate fire at the camp leaving sub inspector rank official Mahendra Singh Meena seriously injured, he said. However, rebels fled the spot after security forces launched retaliatory attack on them, he said adding a rescue team is being sent to retrieve the injured official out of the jungle. (Times of India 7/4/14)



26. Polling begins in Bru refugee camps (13)

AGARTALA: A week before the country’s first phase of polls is slated to begin, Bru refugees living in six relief camps of North Tripura on Tuesday exercised their franchise by casting postal ballots for the lone Mizoram Lok Sabha seat amid tight security. Despite protests from a few Mizoram-based NGOs, about 3,200 electorate have cast the postal ballots to decide the fate of three contestants on the first day, said a senior election official of North Tripura. Over 11,200 eligible voters will exercise their franchise till Thursday through seven polling desks set up by the Election Commission. To facilitate free and fair polls, about 200 polling personnel from both Tripura and Mizoram and more than 1,000 men in uniform have been deployed around the camps. Special security measures have been taken in all the entry points of the camps and entry points of Mizoram. BSF has deployed extra forces along the Tripura-Bangladesh-Mizoram border to make sure the voters can exercise their franchise fearlessly, said Tripura chief electoral officer (CEO) Asutosh Jindal. Five NGOs, including the Young Mizo Association and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), have been opposing the Election Commission’s decision to let the Bru refugees vote through postal ballots and had organized protest rallies in several places of Mizoram last week. They said the refugees should be told to come back to their native villages and vote from there. They also wrote to chief election commissioner V S Sampat detailing their demand before the assembly elections in Mizoram last November, but the Commission did not respond. The Commission has sent seven observers for conducting election in the Bru refugee camps. They will be escorting the ballot boxes to Aizawl after the voting ends on April 3, Jindal said. He said the district administration in North Tripura has arranged all logistics and extended support to the election observers and officials of Mizoram during the polling. (Times of India 2/4/14)


27. Nepal repressing refugee Tibetans following enormous pressure from China, … (13)

Washington: Nepal has restricted the political freedoms of Tibetan refugees living in the country after enormous pressure from China. The Tibetans are subjected to abuse and harassment by the security forces, and are even spied on for Chinese officials, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch. According to the New York Times, the 100-page report, ‘Under China’s Shadow: Mistreatment of Tibetans in Nepal’, revealed the repression faced by Tibetans who cross into Nepal, often illegally, from Tibet. The report also discussed how some of those refugees might never enter Nepal, as there are ‘serious concerns that Nepal may at times forcibly return Tibetans to China’. Many Tibetans have complained of repression, including torture and suppression of religious practices, under Chinese rule. Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the situation for the Tibetan refugee community in Nepal has markedly deteriorated since China’s violent crackdown on protests in Tibet in 2008. (New Kerala 2/4/14)


28. Syrian refugees in Lebanon surpass 1 million: UN (13)

Beirut: The number of Syrians registered as refugees in Lebanon after fleeing war in their country has surpassed one million, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday. Refugees from Syria, half of them children, now equal a quarter of Lebanon’s resident population, the UNHCR said in a statement, warning that most of them live in poverty and depend on aid for survival. The UN agency said the figure is “a devastating milestone worsened by rapidly depleting resources and a host community stretched to breaking point”.Tiny Lebanon has now become the country with “the highest per capita concentration of refugees worldwide,” and is “struggling to keep pace”, the statement said. “The influx of a million refugees would be massive in any country. For Lebanon, a small nation beset by internal difficulties, the impact is staggering,” UNHCR chief Antonio Guterres said in the statement. Syria’s three-year war has killed more than 150,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights while half of the population is estimated to have fled their homes. Of those who have fled Syria, nearly 600,000 have registered as refugees in Jordan and around 670,000 in Turkey. According to the Guterres, “Lebanon has experienced serious economic shocks due to the conflict in Syria”, while security has deteriorated as a result of rising regional instability. The influx has put severe strains on Lebanon’s health and education sectors as well as on electricity, water and sanitation services. “The Lebanese people have shown striking generosity, but are struggling to cope. Lebanon hosts the highest concentration of refugees in recent history,” Guterres said. The UNHCR chief urged the global community to boost its support for Lebanon. “International support to government institutions and local communities is at a level that, although slowly increasing, is totally out of proportion with what is needed,” Guterres said. The humanitarian appeal for Lebanon “is only 13 percent funded,” even as the needs of a rapidly growing refugee population become ever more pressing. “The number of school-aged children is now over 400,000, eclipsing the number of Lebanese children in public schools. These schools have opened their doors to over 100,000 refugees, yet the ability to accept more is severely limited,” it added. The vast majority of Syrian refugee children, however, are out of school. Because of the dire economic situation their families endure, many children are now working, “girls can be married young and the prospect of a better future recedes the longer they remain out of school,” it said. (Hindustan Times 3/4/14)


29. Ill Health Lands SL Refugee in Hospital (3)

VELLORE: Sri Lankan Refugee Chenthuran (alias) Murugan (32) has been admitted to the Government Vellore Medical Hospital after his health deteriorated on Thursday, the 28th day of his fast unto death. Prison department sources said, Chenthuran had been observing the hunger protest since March 7, demanding the closure of special camps for Lankan Tamils in the State. He also urged the State not to file case against Lankan Tamils under the Foreigners Act 1956 and drop all the cases filed against him. After he refused to consume food, the prison authorities had filed a case against him in the Bagayam Station on charges of attempt to suicide. On March 19, the prison authorities forcibly administered IV fluid on him after he refused to end his hunger protest. He was drinking water during his protest. But in the last few days, he had stopped even drinking water, said the prison official, adding, “After his health condition worsened, he was shifted to the GH in Adumgamparai.” The doctors said Chenthuran was admitted to the intensive care unit and his health condition was stable now. “The hospital administration has received a strict order from the Directorate of Medical Education (DME) that no one should be allowed to see Chenthuran,” said a hospital source. Chenthuran’s wife Mangayarkarsy, who came to see her him from Chennai, told Express that the she was not allowed to see her husband. “I was informed by the officials in the special camp in Chengalpattu that my husband was admitted to the hospital. I came all the way to meet him along with our daughter, but the police are not allowing us to see him,” she said. “I was also not allowed to see my husband in the prison on March 19. I waited for more than four hours. I will not leave the place until I am allowed to see my husband,” said Mangayarkarsy firmly. (New Indian Express 4/4/14)



30. Rural job scheme: a game changer now too? (14)

Chennai: Many still believe that the UPA regime’s flagship rural job scheme, the ‘Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS)’, silently did wonders for the Congress in 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Will it be a game-changer in the 2014 polls also? There is no straight ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ for an answer, as this correspondent discovered during a tour of some of the districts in Tamil Nadu where MGNREGS has increased incomes of rural households. Lakshmi of Surapattu village in Villupuram district, Punithaeswari of Bouthiramanickam village in Tiruvarur district and Magudeeswari of Muthunaickenpatti near Oddanchatram in Dindigul— from three different rural pockets of the State— have hardly anything in common. But perhaps one thing that bonds these women, in the 25- 40 years age-group, vis-à-vis sarkaari intervention in poverty alleviation, is that they all proudly claim that they “participate meaningfully in the implementation of MGNREGS”. Will that straight translate into dividends in the coming election? They are hardly sure. Those courageous women were nonetheless affirmative about one thing: rural voters would take the Centre’s rural job scheme as one of the factors, but only that much. People’s traditional party preferences are another factor when they go to the polling booths on April 24. Thus, opinion is divided in rural parts of the State on how much this scheme would impact voting behaviour. Some of the villagers spoken to – like A. Siva, a former Chairman of Anniyur primary agricultural cooperative society in Villupuram district and P.R. Pandian of the CPI-affiliated ‘Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam’ in Kottur block in Tiruvarur district are categorical that MGNREGS would have no impact on the polls. The supervening issue of “corruption” against the Congress will be a strong determinant of voter preferences in the coming polls, they feel. However, there are other voices too. D. Murugan of Ariyalur Thirukkai and K. Malayathipathi of Surapattu, both in Villupuram district, said, “There may not be any visible impact now.” But any future government in Delhi trying to tamper with MGNREGS, will have to face disastrous consequences, they warned. This seems like a back-handed compliment to the Congress, but will its campaigners pick up the cue? Perhaps, Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram already did it partly, expressing worries that the job scheme could be withdrawn if the BJP was to form the next Government in Delhi. The BJP denies it, but irrespective of outcomes, MGNREGS is already part of poll discourse. (The Hindu 1/4/14)


31. Khader decries Swamy’s statement on MNREGA (14)

MANGALORE: Health Minister U.T. Khader condemned the reported statement of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy seeking withdrawal of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) if the BJP comes to power. Talking to reporters here on Wednesday, Mr. Khader said the MNREGA has brought in much needed confidence among rural masses, who had been struggling to get proper wages. “There might be some deficiencies in the implementation. But it cannot be a reason for its scrapping,” Mr. Khader said. Getting proper wages has been a right granted under the Act and it cannot be withdrawn. “I am surprised with statement of Mr. Swamy.” The Bharatiya Janata Party should make its stand clear about the Act. When pointed out at the reported effect of MNREGA on paddy cultivation as wages of labourers was ill-affordable in Dakshina Kannada, Mr. Khader said the MNREGA had worked wonders in areas such as Gulbarga, Bidar, Koppal and Jamkhandi. Mr. Khader dismissed reports that a section of young Congress activists brandished swords when they had come to meet the Ullal Block Congress president on Monday. Mr. Khader said like in any other party these young party workers were in disagreement with the Block Congress President. “The same was resolved in 30 minutes and the young activists apologised for their conduct. There is no question of brandishing swords during the meeting,” he said. Asked whether he agreed with the stance of B. Janardhana Poojary to oppose the Yettinahole Project, Mr. Khader said, “Mr. Poojary is a senior politician. He has strength and thinks in a broader sense. We respect him and ensure he gets elected.” On the move of some of environmentalists calling voters to exercise NOTA (none of the above) as a mark of protest against the Yettinahole Project, Mr. Khader said, “At least this will make them come out of the house and exercise the right.” (The Hindu 3/4/14)


32. Tripura tops rural jobs scheme for the fifth year (14)

Agartala: Tripura maintained its top position for the fifth consecutive year by providing 87 person-days’ rural jobs per household during the 2013-14 fiscal, an official said on Friday. “Tripura has been providing the highest average employment for the past five years under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS),” state’s rural development joint secretary C.K. Jamatia told reporters in Agartala. “Tripura provided 87 days of work per household in the 2013-14 fiscal against the national average of 45 person-days,” he said. “Tripura has retained the top position since 2009-10. Another north-eastern state, Sikkim came second with 58 person-days per household, followed by Tamil Nadu with 56 person-days,” he added. The MGNREGS mandates 100 days of employment in a financial year to at least one member of each rural household. According to the central government performance report on the MGNREGS, of the 644 districts in India, South Tripura district topped with 97.46 person-days. Mr. Jamatia said the central government has allocated Rs.1,406.93 crore for the current financial year (2014-15) to generate 5.13 crore person-days. He said Tripura can further improve its figures if central funds are received on time. Tripura also leads in participation of tribals in the MGNREGS with 45 percent against the national average of 16. A total of 48 percent women got rural jobs directly in the state against India’s average of 54. The official said Tripura also expects a rise in its MGNREGS allocation for the coming fiscal. He said Tripura was the first to introduce the e-FMS (Electronic Fund Management System) last year to make the monetary system – from fund allocation by the union and state governments to payment to labourers – transparent, hassle and error-free and paperless besides eliminating administrative delays. Tripura is providing wages to the MGNREGS workers at their doorstep through business correspondents engaged by various nationalised and regional rural banks, he said. Besides providing rural jobs, the MGNREGS has created rural assets that include household latrines, drinking water sources, rural road connectivity, livestock promotion, pisciculture, watershed management, and afforestation, securing livelihood activities. (The Hindu 4/4/14)


33. Pension Parishad appeal to voters (14)

NEW DELHI: Traversing the seven parliamentary constituencies of the National Capital to raise awareness among voters of their rights and entitlements, Pension Parishad members have asked electors from the most vulnerable sections to support only political parties or candidates who back their demand for social security. Supported by activists of the Right to Food Campaign, the Parishad is demanding an inflation-indexed universal old-age pension, a hike in pension every six months and provision of ration and free healthcare to all the elderly, particularly the vulnerable groups. “Another campaign would be organised in Rajasthan next week to defend the existing social welfare measures like NREGA [National Rural Employment Guarantee Act], food security and free medicines which are being described as doles by the present government,’’ Right to Information activist Nikhil Dey said here on Friday. “Individual income, rather than family income, should be made the criterion [for approval of pensions] and the upper limit for inclusion should be at least Rs.1 lakh per year, and pension should be disbursed on a specific date every month,’’ said activist Aruna Roy. A single-window approval system should be adopted for pension. “Irregularities in the Delhi Pension Scheme like the requirements of a five-year domicile certificate and proof of the beneficiary being a current voter should be done away with,” Ms. Roy said. (The Hindu 6/4/14)



34. After Polio, Target Other Child Killers (3)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally certified that India and 10 other Asian countries are now free of polio, meaning the disease has been eradicated in 80% of the world. The WHO certification is particularly significant in India, home to 1.2 billion people, which until 2009 accounted for half of all cases globally. It confirms one of India’s biggest public health success stories, accomplishing something once thought impossible, thanks to a massive and sustained vaccination programme. There are only three countries where polio is still endemic: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. However, isolated outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and war-torn Syria emerged as causes for concern in 2013, and vaccination workers in Pakistan are still being killed by the Taliban. Until polio is globally eradicated, all countries are at risk, and the region’s polio-free status remains fragile. India embarked on the programme to rid the nation of polio in 1995, when the virus used to cripple over 50,000 children annually. A 2.3-million strong team of polio volunteers and 150,000 supervisors worked hard to reach every child. On Monday, India completed three years without reporting any case of polio. It is only the second time in history that a disease is being eliminated in India through immunisation after small pox in May 1980. For India the success in the campaign against polio means it has for the first time the tools and infrastructure to tackle other childhood diseases. Polio eradication in India used mass vaccination campaigns. These social networks of volunteers and some paid staff should now be retooled to fight measles and other child-killing diseases in India. Measles is a leading cause of childhood deaths. Every year around three million cases are seen and about 900,000 children die because of measles around the world. In India, 500 children die of measles every day. The most worrying part is that the vaccine coverage against measles in India is only 66% and even below 50% in many states. By eradicating polio, India has shown that it is up to the challenge of rooting out measles. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


35. 36 Per Cent Delhi Kids Malnourished: Report (14)

NEW DELHI: About 36 percent of the children in Delhi are malnourished with a nutritional scheme targetted at the 0-6 age-group reaching only 30 percent of the intended beneficiaries, a report released Wednesday said. At 38 percent, the malnutritional rate is higher among girls than boys (34 percent). This means that four out of every 10 children in Delhi are malnourished. And, while the coverage of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is already low, its monitoring of the growth of children is its weakest element said the report of NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) and Alliance for People’s Rights (APR). It covered 21 blocks/wards and 3,650 children living in slums of west, southwest, north, northwest and northeast areas in Delhi. “The fast pace of urbanisation poses a significant challenge to children living in urban slums – especially newborns and infants whose health depends on the availability of the mother to breastfeed,” CRY associate general manager Jaya Singh said. The report highlights the fact that only 35.2 percent of women breastfeed their children due to their low socio-economic condition. “The analysis of our report suggests there is an urgent need to strengthen government mechanisms to ensure access to services to curb the growing menance of malnutrition,” Jaya Singh added. With malnourishment figures at 51 percent being the highest in the northwest district, 56 percent girls there were found to be malnourished. Further, there is a shortfall not only with the ICDS scheme but also with the 11 Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (NRC) that are operational in the national capital. “The children are hardly availing referral services for their immediate care in the NRCs and also the community health workers are unaware of such a facility,” CRY regional director Soha Moitra said. “We were shocked at the plight of people residing in the slums of Delhi. There is no streamlined targeting of nutrition related programmes for pregnant women and children in these areas. There is a need to increase coverage and central funding to schemes in Delhi,” said APR convener Reena Banerjee. The report recommends making ICDS centres functional, sensitising the community and policy prioritisation towards reducing malnutrition. (New Indian Express 2/4/14)


36. Activists flay TV reality shows for ‘abuse’ of kids (14)

HYDERABAD: Child rights activists on Thursday accused vernacular TV channels of abusing children in reality shows and warned them of legal consequences. They said such treatment of child contestants is in violation of the Juvenile Justice Act and the Child Labor Protection Act. In one such instance, children were made to perform various tasks in a scary location, said Anuradha Rao, general secretary AP Balala Hakkula Sangham. “This could lead to permanent fears and mental stress,” she said, adding that almost all vernacular channels were guilty of violating sections 22 and 23 of the Juvenille Justice Act. She pointed out how in another programme, children as young as five were made to stand for several hours to do tasks set by judges. “In yet another show, children are made to perform dangerous feats like standing on ice, which could lead to physical problems,” she said. Activists alleged that in a popular show, children were being ‘honoured’ with perfume if they did well or punished with pepper spray if they failed. The BHS has already given a complaint to the human rights commission regarding one of the programmes. “We will now make a complaint to the Commission for the Protection of Child Rights,” Rao said. (Times of India 4/4/14)


37. Children seek to raise issues before lawmakers (14)

New Delhi, April 5 : A manifesto written by children about issues facing them and what they need from the government and lawmakers was Saturday unveiled by 23 NGOs in the “Vote 4 Children” campaign for “children’s representation” in the Lok Sabha. Devendra Tak, national manager of media and communications for NGO “Save the Children” said: “36 percent Indians are children and some of them have written this manifesto. We are fighting against child labour and for better health and quality education.” Steve Rocha of “Nine is Mime” and convenor of the “Vote 4 Children” said: “The children can’t vote. Therefore, it is important they should be able to influence people who represent their issues and concerns in parliament.” The demands include increasing allocation for child protection, health and nutrition in the union budget to 10 percent of the GDP, raising public expenditure on health as per WHO standards and stopping child labour. The manifesto demands amendment of child labour laws and considering every individual below the age of 18 as a child. It has called for abolition of foeticide, infanticide and gender-based selection of children. A national nutrition policy to combat malnutrition has also been asked for. Surabhi, a student, who was part of a children’s delegation to the UN, said: “We went to the general assembly in New York and designed the manifesto after a lot of rational discussions.” She added: “I feel political parties should include it in their manifestos.” She added: “Development is not development unless it has women and children who form a major part of India’s population.” (New Kerala 6/4/14)



38. UN’s poverty index shows 41% of Gujarat is poor: Congress (21)

Maharashtra Congress said the United Nations’ multi-dimensional poverty index developed in 2013 showed that 41 per cent of people in Gujarat were poor. “Out of 41 per cent of the poor, 18.5 per cent live in severe poverty. How can a state where every fifth person lives in abject poverty and 41 per cent in poverty claim to be a model for anyone,” Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman Sachin Sawant said at a press conference here today. He said the study showed that besides 41 per cent poor, another 17 per cent are vulnerable to poverty in Gujarat. The state is ranked 12th in terms of development needs and falls in the “less developed” category. It is not the most developed state in the country, but on the contrary, it is the 12th most developed state, according to the RBI, he said. Similarly, a state that boasts of agriculture growth, has 25 per cent of its population suffering from hunger and its condition is even worse that Odisha, he said. Gujarat is ranked 13th (24.69 per cent of its population facing hunger) out of 17 states, in terms of states with the highest percentage of population affected by hunger, while the national average of such population is 23.31, he said. Hitting out at BJP national treasurer Piyush Goyal, who on Sunday said that Gujarat had not seen farmers’ suicides, Sawant, quoting documents submitted by the Gujarat government in the legislative assembly, said from 2008 to 2013, 122 farmers committed suicide due to inability to repay their loans, crop losses and other reasons. Sawant said the national growth rate had reached 9.3 per cent during the UPA regime and all states, including Gujarat, had benefited. “By speaking about Gujarat and criticising other states, Modi insults people of those states,” he said, adding that the MPCC would bring out a book highlighting Narendra Modi’s “lies”.”BJP should be called Bahut Jhooti Party,” he said.(Rediff 1/4/14)


39. India ranks 102 on 132 in social progress index (21)

London: New Zealand came first in a global index published on Thursday that ranks countries by social and environmental performance rather than economic output in a drive to make social progress a priority for politicians and businesses. The Social Progress Index (SPI) rates 132 countries on more than 50 indicators, including health, sanitation, shelter, personal safety, access to information, sustainability, tolerance and inclusion and access to education. The SPI asks questions such as whether a country can satisfy its people’s basic needs and whether it has the infrastructure and capacity to allow its citizens to improve the quality of their lives and reach their full potential. “The index shows that economic growth does not automatically lead to social progress,” Michael Green, executive director of the Social Progress Imperative, a non-profit organisation that publishes the index, told Thomson Reuters Foundation. “If we are to tackle problems such as poverty and inequality, it shows that measuring economic growth alone is not enough.” New Zealand received high scores for personal rights and freedom, internet access and school enrolment. It was followed in the Top 10 by Switzerland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark and Australia. Some of the world’s largest economies did not fare so well, with Germany in 12th place, the United Kingdom in 13th, Japan 14th, the United States 16th and France 20th. All of them except Germany scored poorly on environmental sustainability. The United States also ranked poorly on health and wellness – despite being a top spender on healthcare – and on access to basic knowledge, with just 92 percent of children in school. France lagged Slovenia (18th) and Estonia (19th) and had low scores on sustainability and opportunity, especially tolerance and inclusion. Italy was in 29th place, hurt by poor access to advanced education, sustainability and tolerance and inclusion. The low rankings of China (90th) and India (102nd) showed that their rapid economic growth is not yet being converted into better lives for their citizens, said Green. Chad ranked last, below Central African Republic, Burundi, Guinea, Sudan, Angola, Niger, Yemen, Pakistan and Nigeria.Even though economic growth and social progress are correlated, especially for poorer countries, the connection is far from automatic, said Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter, one of the index’s backers.Costa Rica and South Africa, for example, have similar levels of gross domestic product (GDP), the most commonly used indicator for economic performance. But the central American nation achieves much greater social progress than South Africa thanks to progressive environmental and healthcare policies. Social upheavals around the world prompted by citizens’ frustration over a lack of opportunities and inequality are also a sign that economic performance alone is not an adequate measure of progress, said Green. A 2014 survey by Deloitte found that the majority of the almost 7,800 millennials (people born in the 1980s and 1990s) it had surveyed in 28 countries prioritised education, health care, employment and protection from crime above improving their financial situation. They also believe social progress lies not just with governments but also with businesses. “GDP doesn’t necessarily tell you what to do whereas the SPI does give indications where you need to focus attention to make progress,” Steve Almond, global chairman of Deloitte, which supports the SPI financially, told Thomson Reuters Foundation. (Hindustan Times 3/4/14)


40. India needs multi-pronged approach to eradicate poverty: Report (21)

NEW DELHI: A multi-pronged approach with focus on inclusive economic growth would help eradicate poverty, which is increasingly getting concentrated in a few geographical areas, says a research report. The observations are part of the India Public Policy Report ( IPPR) 2014 jointly published by O P Jindal Global University and Oxford University Press. “Overcoming poverty requires a context specific multi-pronged strategy that includes: a basic needs approach, a human rights entitlement approach, a natural resource management approach and a focus on inclusive economic growth,” the report released this week said. Poverty in India is getting increasingly concentrated in a few geographical areas, among specific social groups and is increasing in urban areas, it said. It also noted that access to a diverse food basket alone may not help in effectively overcoming malnutrition. The report’s Policy Effectiveness Index ( PEI) showed that at all India level there is a gradual, but only a marginal, improvement in the policy effectiveness index over the three decades – period from 1981 to 2011. The index is based on four factors – livelihood opportunity, social opportunity, rule of law and physical infrastructure development. (Economic Times 5/4/14)



41. SC notice to govt on Jats in OBC list, to hear Apr 9 (25)

New Delhi: In a setback to the UPA-2 government on the eve of the Lok Sabha polls, the Supreme Court Tuesday asked the Centre for an explanation over its decision to include Jats in the OBC category even though a statutory body had allegedly advised against it. “This seems to be a serious matter and we want to know if serious application of mind went into it,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam. The bench asked the ministry of social justice and empowerment to place before it all files and records on the decision to extend reservation benefits to Jats by a March 4 notification. The bench, that included Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana, also sought attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati’s assistance and will hear the matter April 9. The orders came on two petitions challenging the notification to include Jats in the OBC list and seeking a stay on it. The notification included Jats in the OBC list in Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan (Bharatpur and Dholpur districts), Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Senior advocate K.K. Venugopal, appearing for OBC Reservation Raksha Samiti, alleged it was an “outrageous notification” issued in haste with “votebank” politics in mind. “Before the election, largesse is given by the party in power to purchase votes,” Mr Venugopal said. (Asian Age 2/4/14)


42. With growing SC population, more reserved seats in Rajasthan likely (25)

JAIPUR: Rajasthan has four Scheduled Caste (SC) and three Scheduled Tribe (ST) reserved seats for the upcoming Lok Sabha election. The SC reserved seats are located in eastern and northern Rajasthan while two of the ST seats are located in the southern part and one is in eastern Rajasthan. Barring the Bikaner SC seat, which was bagged by BJP’s Arjun Ram Meghwal, a former IAS officer who has a record number of questions asked in the current Lok Sabha, all other seats – Bharatpur, Dholpur-Karauli, and Ganaganagar – were in Congress’ kitty. The SC has the highest individual population comprising almost 18% of the state’s total population enjoys reservation in 34 out of the 200 Assembly constituencies. Their estimated population in the state is over 1.20 crore. Apart from Udaipur, Dungarpur, Banswara and Rajsamand, the SC has reserved Assembly seats in all the districts. In each district, the number of reserved seats for the SC is either one or a maximum of two. But in Ganganagar and Huamnumangarh districts, the percentage of SCs voters are quite high and their percentage is above 26. In the Ganganagar reserved constituency of which Hanumangarh is a part has about 34% SC electors. Common SC communities settled across the state are Meghwal, Berwa, Raigar, Koli, Jatav, Khatik, Harijans, Naik, Dhobhi, Dhanuk, Mochhi, Jeengar, Dome, Dholi, Mehaar, Mehra, Nat, Bedi, Mogia and Sansi. Percentagewise, the Meghwals are about five, Berwas and Raigar about four each, and other castes collectively are 5.16%.The highest percentage of SC in an Assembly segment is in Ajmer’s Lok sabha constituency Ajmer(South) where their percentage is above 33 followed by Dholpur-Karauli’s Assembly segment Hindaun (SC) 29.71%, Bharatpur’s (SC Reserved) Weir (SC) 27.33%, Bayana (SC) 26.29%, Kota Lok Sabha constituency’s Assembly segment Ramganjmandi (SC) 24.76%, Tonk’s Khandar (SC) 24.56% and Jaipur (rural) Bagru (SC) 23.61%. Altogether, 13 Assembly segments have the percentage of the SCs between 20 and 23. Interestingly, the highest number of SCs in a single constituency is Ganganagar; however, the highest SC voters in one single constituency is Raisingnagar where their number is over 1.30 lakh, closely followed by Anupgarh at 1.26 lakh and both are SC reserved Assembly segments. Even in the Assembly segment of Karanpur, the number of SC electors is over a lakh and in Sadulshahar it is 95,000. Pilibanga, which is also a reserved Assembly segment in Ganganagar, the number of SC electors is 1.1 lakh. Suratgarh constituency in Ganganagar has 86,000 SC electors while Sangaria has over 85,000. Hanumangarh constituency has also over 85,000 SC electors. Thus, in Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts, if the population of the SCs grows further, in all likelihood they will follow suit of Banwara, Dungarpur and Pratapgarh which are all reserved for ST. Both the districts may have to be reserved for SC where their presence is more than 50,000 and there will not be a single general seat left. (Times of India 3/4/14)


43. JD(U) promises job reservation for pvt sector (25)

Patna: The Janata Dal (United) on Saturday promised job reservation in private sector and a special law for protection of migrant labourers. Releasing its manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, the party also promised 50 per cent reservation for women in elections to the panchayati raj organisations along with special status for “states like Bihar”.The party manifesto said if it came to power at the Centre, it would introduce reservation for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other backward classes in the private sector. It has also pledged “zero tolerance” against corruption and communal violence. Attacking his bête noire Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said if Modi comes to power at the Centre, Bihar’s development would take a beating. “Anything can happen,” said Kumar. Kumar said his party’s manifesto offered an “alternative vision” for development and pledged to replicate Bihar’s model of “inclusive growth” on a pan-India basis. He said, “Good governance, inclusive growth, communal harmony, revamped state-centre relations and rule of law are our five basic pillars of this alternative vision for the future of the country. We want bring development to every section of the society. Therefore, we have promised a commission to study the socio-economic condition of the economically weak section of upper castes at the national level.” “Given the rising attacks on migrant labourers, we want a special law against that. These attacks endanger the very notion of our right to freedom. Therefore, we will seek a new and tough law, making it mandatory for the state governments to guarantee security of life and property of all migrants.” The chief minister said central schemes should be abolished. “It is a complete wastage of our scarce resources. They formulate schemes without even consulting us and then want us to finance those schemes. Shoes of particular kind cannot fit every person,” said Kumar. He also harped on redefining Centre-State ties. Meanwhile, party leaders also launched a scathing attack on both the Congress and the BJP on this occasion. Party President Sharad Yadav said his party had fulfilled Dr Ram Manohar Lohia’s dreams and attacked the saffron party, saying the tie-up between corporate and communal forces is complete. “The BJP has purchased all the choppers. It is shamelessly flaunting its money power.” Meanwhile, Kumar also took on the corporate sector and said, “Earlier capitalists used to help in the election, now they are investing. Corporate houses are pumping in money in elections.” Kumar also slammed the Congress. He said, “Nowadays the Congress is busy distributing certificates of secularism. It must look its own track record. Who was responsible for the 1984 riots, who opened the locks in Ayodhya Ram Janmabhoomi temple and who was responsible for the 1989 Bhagalpur riots? It becomes secular only during the elections.” (Business Standard 5/4/14)


44. BJP will end quota for SC/STs if it comes to power, warns Mayawati (25)

LUCKNOW: Launching a blistering attack on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, BSP chief Mayawati on Sunday said if he became the PM, the country would become vulnerable to communal riots. “If Modi becomes the Prime Minister, communal riots will take place in the country any day. The country will be destroyed,” Mayawati said while addressing a rally for Meerut and Bijnor parliamentary seats on Hapur Road. She said it was in the interest of the people and the country to stop BJP from coming to power. “And for this, it is important that Muslim votes are not divided,” Mayawati reiterated. She said all Muslims should vote for only one party. The former UP CM said if BJP came to power, it would end the reservation being given to the SC/ST. “When BJP came to power at the Centre for the first time, it formed a panel to review the Indian Constitution for ending the reservation in education and services being given to Dalits,” she said. Taking on Congress, Mayawati said it should also be stopped from coming to power, as during its 50 years of rule, the party had done nothing for the welfare of the people. The BSP chief raked up the Muzaffarnagar riots to attack SP. “Apart from Hindus, Muslims also suffered losses. The Supreme Court has blamed the SP government for failures during the communal violence,” she said. Later, while addressing a rally in Baghpat, Mayawati attacked Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh. Mayawati said she hardly considered RLD a political outfit. She alleged that Ajit Singh hardly did anything for the farmers in the region despite being a Union minister. THE BSP chief said it was during her government that the farmers, especially of sugarcane, were given their dues. (Times of India 7/4/14)


Posted by admin at 4 April 2014

Category: Uncategorized


1. NHRC denies it asked Delhi Police to take action against Somnath Bharti (1)

NEW DELHI: Dispelling the confusion following reports that the National Human Rights Commission has directed Delhi Police to take “appropriate action” against former Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti in connection with the midnight raid to bust an alleged drug and sex racket involving Ugandans, the panel clarified that it “has not given any such direction”.In a statement, the NHRC said a complaint received on the incident at Khirki Extension was “forwarded to the concerned authority for taking such action as deemed appropriate”.Meanwhile, the NHRC has received a judicial enquiry report in the matter. The report is under its consideration. The rights panel had earlier taken suo motu cognizance of the incident and sought reports from authorities concerned. A team of the rights panel is also probing Bharti’s midnight raid and the report is awaited. On January 15, Bharti, then a minister in the AAP government, had gone to Khirki Extension area in his Malviya Nagar constituency claiming a drug and prostitution ring was being run from a house and demanded police raid the place. The police had refused saying they did not have a warrant. An FIR was registered following a court order. (Times of India 1/4/14)


2. NCP pledges to scrap AFSPA (1)

Imphal, April 02 2014: Noting that the controversial AFSPA 1958 has been repealed from seven assembly constituencies, NCP national general secretary and spokesperson Narendra Verma said if the party nominee in the Outer Manipur Parliamentary Constituency Chungkhokai Doungel is elected to the 16th Lok sabha the party would initiate all possible measures for scrapping the Act from the entire State. Speaking to newspersons at the party’s State office today, Narendra said NCP considers AFSPA and insurgency problem as important issues and is determined to settle them as well as other local issues on priority basis. Affirming that NCP will do the needful for protecting Manipur’s territorial boundary at any cost along with ensuring that suitable steps would be initiated for safeguarding Manipuris studying or working at Delhi and other cities, he also said that as Union Agriculture Minister NCP national president Sharad Pawar waived bank loans of over Rs 60,000 crore owed by farmers in addition to tabling the Food Security Bill in the Parliament. Citing political acumen for the election of C Doungel to the State Assembly for four terms, Narendra Verma exuded confidence that unanimity on nominating Doungel for the outer seat would be one of the factors for his success in the upcoming parliamentary election. Taking into account experience and political background of Doungel the NCP nominee would certainly get maximum vote than his rivals, said the party leader in the presence of NCP State president L Ibomcha and Doungel  (E-Pao 2/4/14)


3. Consider within 3 months mercy plea of old prisoners: Allahabad High Court (1)

ALLAHABAD: Taking serious note of the fact that several old prisoners have been languishing in jails even after completing 14 years of term, the Allahabad High Court has directed the state government and other authorities to consider within three months the mercy petitions of approximately 153 prisoners, who are over 70 years old and have undergone more than 14 years of imprisonment. Passing the above order, the court also directed that in case their mercy petitions are rejected, then written orders be passed mentioning reasons why further detention of these old prisoners are necessary and also provide concrete information on which inference is based. The court directed to list this PIL on April 21 for the next hearing. Passing the above directives, a division bench comprising Justice Amar Saran and Justice Vijay Lakshmi observed, “Prima facie under normal circumstances, there appears no good reason for further detaining such prisoners, some of whom have crossed 75, 80 or even 90 years and some are incapable of walking without support or are suffering from other ailments, whose continued detention is a burden on the jail and the state after they have served out 14 or more years.” The court also took serious note of the fact that a total of 247 prisoners are suffering from mental ailments in various jails of Uttar Pradesh in six ranges of Agra, Allahabad, Bareilly, Lucknow, Meerut and Gorakhpur. The court also seriously considered the fact that only a limited number of them are being kept in mental hospitals, mainly at Varanasi and a few in Agra, while the rest are confined in normal jails. While directing the Additional Director General (Prisons) and Director General (Medical and Health) UP to provide better information on this point on the next date, the court observed, “There appears to be no proper protocol for treating or caring for these prisoners in jail.” Regarding the women prisoners and their children kept in various jails of UP, the court directed all the jail superintendents and also the district judges to provide information whether doctors have been provided, who are visiting jails and addressing problems of women prisoners and their minor children. The court passed the above order when the Director General (Medical and Health) UP disclosed in his affidavit that directions have been issued for providing private health care for women prisoners in Kanpur and Allahabad jails, and that an order has been issued on February 21 by the Director General (Medical and Health) to the chief medical officers across the state to assign duties of specialist government women doctors for female inmates and for their minor children in jails. (Times of India 3/4/14)



4. Gang of Child Traffickers Busted, 7 Held (1)

SALEM: The city police have busted a child-trafficking gang by detaining seven persons and rescued a 4-year-old boy here on Monday. According to Suramangalam police, Fathima (30), a resident of Selathampatty, and her husband Sherif, who died a few months back, had two children, Basha (4) and a one-year-old girl. Fathima was a hearing and speech impaired and her friends Selvi, a resident of Selathampatty and Azhamelu, a resident of Thiruvagoundanur, earned money through begging in Salem junction. On March 25, Selvi allegedly bought liquor and gave it to Fathima, who fainted on consuming it. The next morning, Fathima woke up and found Basha, Selvi and Azhamelu missing. She lodged a complaint with Suramangalam police, who interrogated Selvi and Azhamelu and found that the child was allegedly sold to Venkatesan, a resident of Namakkal district. The police rescued Basha. On inquiry, Venkatesan revealed that he wanted a boy child and told this to Sathish, a resident near Salem Junction. Sathish gave this information to Selvi, who was begging with Fathima. Then as per their plan, Sathish and his wife Suganthi, Venkatesan and Raja Lakshmi allegedly kidnapped Fathima’s son Basha. Police detained Selvi, Azhamelu, Venkatesh, Raja Lakshmi, Sathish, Suganthi and Manikandan. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


5. 15 held for flesh trade in Purnia, 35 women rescued (1)

PATNA: The anti-human trafficking unit of Purnia police on Wednesday night arrested 15 men for their alleged involvement in flesh trade and rescued 35 women from five areas in the district. The team led by SP (weaker section) Kim conducted raids on residential premises in five different areas of Mujra Patty, Lakhan Jhari, Gulabagh, Zero Mile and Harda in Purnia. Kim said the 15 pimps were sent to jail and the rescued 35 women would be sent to the rehabilitation centre in Purnia. “Their medical tests are being conducted and after we get the reports, the minor among them will be sent to the children’s home,” she said. According to Kim, the Purnia, Araria and Katihar districts falling in Seemanchal area have become safe den for the pimps involved in flesh trade. The flesh trade is flourishing in the region engaging women brought from Nepal, West Bengal and Bangladesh. “The antisocials easily access these areas because of the porous border. They were running the flesh trade in palatial houses equipped with modern electronic gadgets. We have identified five such houses and are trying to verify the ownership of the property,” Kim added. Under the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, the police will give a requisition to the district magistrate of Purnia to attach the property of people who own the property beyond their disclosed or known sources of income. “The property can also be seized if we prove that flesh trade was running on the premises,” said Kim. “We are planning a crackdown on the flourishing sex racket in different cities as the gangs operate through well organized network beyond the state’s border. Often it is found that the girls get trafficked to Bihar and then the pimps route them to Delhi and other states. We are aiming to hit the economy behind flesh trade,” she said. Police source said, “The pimps often hide their business by running some orchestra troupe or dance group. They involve young girls by offering them hefty amount for a single show. The girls are not always poor and uneducated. But they are too young to judge the trap. But many times their parents are not aware of the girls’ involvement in any such entertainment troupe.” (Times of India 4/4/14)



6. Expose corrupt journalists, says Kejriwal (1)

Ghaziabad, March 31 : AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal Monday told party activists to expose “corrupt journalists” for targeting his party but said most journalists were doing a honest job. Addressing over 1,000 volunteers at Vaishali, Kejriwal named a couple of journalists in the electronic media who he said were biased in their reporting. “The rest of media persons are performing their duty without prejudice,” he said. “Go to the masses directly and expose the biased reporting and corrupt journalists.” (New Kerala 1/4/14)


7. Seamless media management system serving BJP well (1)

NEW DELHI: BJP may still be stuck with its ticket distribution, and its poll manifesto, vision document and chargesheet against the UPA government may have got delayed but the party has successfully created a media management system involving leaders, spokespersons, the party’s media cell and a team of tech-savvy volunteers that seems to be working well. Within minutes of the ‘Har Har Modi’ controversy breaking out, BJP media managers swung into action to save the party from further embarrassment. A tweet from party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman within half-an-hour of the issue coming to the fore clarified the official campaign line and denied that ‘Har Har Modi’ was endorsed by the BJP. That was picked up immediately by the media, and the message went out that BJP was dissociating itself from the spontaneous slogan for Modi in Varanasi. The prompt damage control, Sitharaman said, was possible because of a well coordinated media management system which was in place. Party spokespersons speak of another recent success by its team working on the social media network, providing 24×7 backup to the media cell. Within minutes of Congress candidate Narendra Rawat pulling out of the Vadodara contest against Modi and being replaced by the seasoned Madhusudan Mistry, BJP media managers were ready with background information on Rawat to be used against Congress. The attack began in minutes as BJP spokespersons targeted Rahul Gandhi. The backup team had found that Rawat was Rahul’s choice who came up through the primaries held by the Congress vice-president and that he was a Scheduled Caste candidate. BJP took the line that Rawat had been made the scapegoat. The party felt it worked well. BJP has learnt from goof-ups too, like the Pramod Muthalik incident. No one in the central BJP leadership knew that Muthalik was already inducted into the party by the Karnataka unit. National spokespersons started getting calls from mediapersons for reaction to the Sri Rama Sene chief’s entry into the party. They refused to take calls, as they were in no mood to defend the induction. Calls were made to party chief Rajnath Singh and other senior leaders who were out of town. It took the whole day’s firefighting to reverse the decision, but by then it had made headlines to BJP’s great embarrassment. What seems to be working like a well-oiled machine now is the use of social media like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. The party’s view on any issue is promptly backed up by senior leaders and spokespersons on social media. It has created a link with the mainstream media, which helps. Apart from this, the party’s spokespersons and TV panelists meet or speak three times a day to ensure that no one goes out of sync. There is also an audio bridge that happens at 1 pm every day when all state BJP units and their spokespersons come on line. “So we give them the party line on national issues and get the state input on something that has happened there,” Sitharaman said. At 4.30 pm, leaders, spokespersons and TV panelists exchange notes through video and audio conferencing, with national organization secretary Ram Lal (RSS representative) overseeing the hookup. Usually, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley and occasionally Modi brief the group at the 4.30 meeting. (Times of India 2/4/14)



8. Woman attacked by upper caste men for questioning their atrocities (2)

MADURAI: A middle-aged woman belonging to the paliyar tribe was allegedly attacked in Theni district recently by the dominant caste Hindus, when she questioned their atrocities against her community people. The attack has brought to light decades of exploitation by the upper caste people on the innocent paliyar tribe. R Malliga, like many of the tribal people does not know even her age. She was attacked in broad daylight at a bus stand in Periyakulam. She was attacked to force her to pay a debt, her family owed for lease amount of the caste Hindu’s land. Malliga said that they never received cash and were actually trapped into debt by the caste Hindus to exploit their labour. S Thanaraj, a Madurai-based tribal activist attached with Ekta Parishad, an NGO said that the usually shy paliyar tribe, habitat of hilly forests used to keep themselves away from others, until a decade ago. They are nomadic by nature and would shift their place in search of forest produce. Most of them do not even have voters’ identity cards. But, after the forest lands were encroached upon by people from the plains, they were forced to mingle with them. They slowly started to work in their lands and soon the exploitation started, Thangaraj said. The case of Malliga is just a tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of families spread over Palani hills in Dindigul district, Varusanadu hills and hills in Bodi and Periyakulam in Theni districts are exploited by the upper castes, according to Malliga, who boldly fought against the upper castes for almost a week to force the police to book the caste Hindus under the SC/ST Act. A case against the upper caste has been registered and being investigated upon. There was a counter complaint from the caste Hindus against the paliyar people of attacking them. But it seems the complaint is a false one, said R Sethu, deputy superintendent of police, Periyakulam range. The livelihood of paliyars conventionally depended on forest produce like honey, medicinal plants. Later, they started relying on silk cotton, lemon and coffee grown in forest lands belonging to caste Hindus. The upper castes would lure and provide the paliyars their land for lease. Since they would not have money they have to harvest and sell the produce to none other than the landlords and settle the amount. Since the tribal people do not have any idea about the money value, land and their produce, the landlords would fix the lease amount and price for the produce. At the end of lease the easily gullible paliyars would have earned nothing. However, they would be forced by cough up money as the caste Hindus would show some accounts that there is mismatch between the money lent and the produce they received. They would be tortured to pay or would be forced to work in their land as bonded labourers until they pay the rest, claimed Thanraj. (Times of India 1/4/14)


9. Guru Packages Maniratnam as the new Dalit face of PMK (2)

CHIDAMBARAM: Nearly a fortnight after his party joined the rainbow NDA coalition in Tamil Nadu, PMK leader and Vanniyar Sangam president Kaduvetti J Guru on Wednesday hit the campaign trail at the Chidambaram constituency, supporting party candidate K I Maniratnam, whom he helped join the PMK recently. Guru formally introduced Maniratnam, a former Congressman, to the NDA cadre here. Guru joining the campaigning perked up the morale of the PMK, as it has been missing party boss S Ramadoss at rallies since the deal with the BJP was sealed. While the party maintains Ramadoss is recovering from a bypass surgery, the buzz was that he was unhappy with the poll alliance.   At the meeting here, PMK leaders, including Guru and R Govindhasamy, counted Maniratnam among the prominent Dalit faces of the party after former union ministers Dalit Ezhilmalai and E Ponnusamy. “PMK is proud to introduce Maniratnam as the candidate for Chidambaram constituency. Our leader Ramadoss and I have the desire to unite of Dalits and Vanniyars. To achieve the goal, we joined hands with (VCK chief) Thirumavalavan but due to some reasons he moved away from us. At present, some forces are creating bitterness between these two castes. I hope Maniratnam will solve such problems and unite the people belonging to both castes,” Guru said. Guru poked fun at the other candidates, implying that they would lose their election deposits. Maniratnam strongly criticised Thirumavalavan, though he did not name him directly. “I have resolved to remove a person from politics. That person has been betraying Scheduled Caste people for several years and has done nothing for their upliftment. This constituency should not fall into the hands of that anti-social element again.” (New Indian Express 3/4/14)


10. In Odisha, AAP proud of its NaMo (2)

Bhubaneswar: The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) stand on honesty and transparency is no secret, but a candidate it has fielded for the 2014 polls in Odisha has 28 criminal cases against him. The number of cases against Narendra Mohanty (the NaMo of Odisha) is highest among the 98 candidates in the fray for the first phase of elections, according to Odisha Election Watch, a body compiling and disseminating candidates’ affidavits. Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha seats. Polls in 11 of them, including Mohanty’s seat Kandhamal, will be held in the first phase on April 10. The AAP is, however, proud of its NaMo. The party’s Odisha convenor, Nishikanta Mohapatra, said Monanty was a social activist fighting for tribal rights, spearheading anti-liquor campaigns and was also known for his stand against fake police encounters in Kandhamal, one of the most backward constituencies in the country. “In Kandhamal, where innocent tribals are tortured by police in the name of tackling Maoists, Mohanty has been their saviour and is in the forefront of fighting state atrocities against innocent people. “By giving him a ticket, AAP has already stood for commoners’ right to fight state injustice and police atrocities,” Mohapatra said. Tribals (53.58%) and Dalits (15.75%) account for the majority of Kandhamal’s population. Most of the Dalits here are Christians. In 2008, the district witnessed an anti-Christian riot that left 36 dead following the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. In the fray against Mohanty from Kandhamal are ruling party Biju Janata Dal’s Hemendra Kumar Singh, a scion of Nayagarh royal family, and veteran Congress leader Harihar Haran. The cases against Mohanty include three murder cases (Section 302 of IPC), an attempt to murder (Section 307 of IPC), and a dacoity and murder (Section 396 IPC). But Mohanty said the cases against him were not on the basis of FIRs by individuals, but on police information. “These are used by the state for suppression and repression of the masses.” (Hindustan Times 4/3/14)



11. After Polio, Target Other Child Killers (3)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has finally certified that India and 10 other Asian countries are now free of polio, meaning the disease has been eradicated in 80% of the world. The WHO certification is particularly significant in India, home to 1.2 billion people, which until 2009 accounted for half of all cases globally. It confirms one of India’s biggest public health success stories, accomplishing something once thought impossible, thanks to a massive and sustained vaccination programme. There are only three countries where polio is still endemic: Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. However, isolated outbreaks in the Horn of Africa and war-torn Syria emerged as causes for concern in 2013, and vaccination workers in Pakistan are still being killed by the Taliban. Until polio is globally eradicated, all countries are at risk, and the region’s polio-free status remains fragile. India embarked on the programme to rid the nation of polio in 1995, when the virus used to cripple over 50,000 children annually. A 2.3-million strong team of polio volunteers and 150,000 supervisors worked hard to reach every child. On Monday, India completed three years without reporting any case of polio. It is only the second time in history that a disease is being eliminated in India through immunisation after small pox in May 1980. For India the success in the campaign against polio means it has for the first time the tools and infrastructure to tackle other childhood diseases. Polio eradication in India used mass vaccination campaigns. These social networks of volunteers and some paid staff should now be retooled to fight measles and other child-killing diseases in India. Measles is a leading cause of childhood deaths. Every year around three million cases are seen and about 900,000 children die because of measles around the world. In India, 500 children die of measles every day. The most worrying part is that the vaccine coverage against measles in India is only 66% and even below 50% in many states. By eradicating polio, India has shown that it is up to the challenge of rooting out measles. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


12. Health threat from water supplied without permits (3)

Kozhikode: The ban on supplying drinking water by tanker lorries without obtaining proper permits from the local self-government institutions concerned is reportedly being flouted in many locations in the city. In the wake of the increasing water scarcity, commercial establishments such as hotels and restaurants are dependant on the supply of water by tanker lorries. According to sources, many of these tanker lorries lack a valid licence to supply the drinking water. Also, the water sources of the tanker lorries are unknown in many cases. Last year, the situation was a bit different as the health department convened a special review meeting of its officials to ensure proper vigilance in the sector and prevent all unauthorized supply of drinking water to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. It had also alerted local self government bodies to check the licences and seize all vehicles those violated the norms. As per the recent orders from the government, three-tier panchayats, municipalities and the city corporation have the legal powers to seize vehicles that supply water without obtaining licence from the concerned local bodies. The rule also makes it clear that people who are caught for the illegal water supply will also be liable to face further legal action if the seized water contains impure substances or is found to be contaminated after checking in a government laboratory. A health department official said it is the responsibility of the local self-government bodies to enforce the rule. Meantime, efforts are on to ensure the purity of all public drinking water sources through chlorination process. The private wells too will be covered in the drive shortly. The plan of the department is to begin the pre-monsoon health campaign by the middle of May. (The Hindu 1/4/14)


13. 36 Per Cent Delhi Kids Malnourished: Report (3)

New Delhi: About 36 percent of the children in Delhi are malnourished with a nutritional scheme targetted at the 0-6 age-group reaching only 30 percent of the intended beneficiaries, a report released Wednesday said. At 38 percent, the malnutritional rate is higher among girls than boys (34 percent). This means that four out of every 10 children in Delhi are malnourished. And, while the coverage of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme is already low, its monitoring of the growth of children is its weakest element said the report of NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) and Alliance for People’s Rights (APR). It covered 21 blocks/wards and 3,650 children living in slums of west, southwest, north, northwest and northeast areas in Delhi. “The fast pace of urbanisation poses a significant challenge to children living in urban slums – especially newborns and infants whose health depends on the availability of the mother to breastfeed,” CRY associate general manager Jaya Singh said. The report highlights the fact that only 35.2 percent of women breastfeed their children due to their low socio-economic condition. “The analysis of our report suggests there is an urgent need to strengthen government mechanisms to ensure access to services to curb the growing menance of malnutrition,” Jaya Singh added. With malnourishment figures at 51 percent being the highest in the northwest district, 56 percent girls there were found to be malnourished. Further, there is a shortfall not only with the ICDS scheme but also with the 11 Nutritional Rehabilitation Centres (NRC) that are operational in the national capital. “The children are hardly availing referral services for their immediate care in the NRCs and also the community health workers are unaware of such a facility,” CRY regional director Soha Moitra said. “We were shocked at the plight of people residing in the slums of Delhi. There is no streamlined targeting of nutrition related programmes for pregnant women and children in these areas. There is a need to increase coverage and central funding to schemes in Delhi,” said APR convener Reena Banerjee. The report recommends making ICDS centres functional, sensitising the community and policy prioritisation towards reducing malnutrition. (New Indian Express 2/4/14)



14. Irrigation scam probe fails to name Pawar (5)

MUMBAI: The Chitale committee which probed the irrigation scam in the state has found “major irregularities” in the way project costs were increased through revised administrative approvals (RAA) and recommended “strict action” against officials involved. The Special Investigative Team (SIT) headed by Madhav Chitale found that RAAs for 27 projects in Vidarbha, Tapi and Godavari-Marathwada were illegal. The state finance department was kept in the dark when these RAAs were sanctioned by various irrigation corporations between October 7, 2006, and August 20, 2009. “That the government did not know this is difficult to digest and cannot be accepted. These officers must be identified,” it said. But the committee did not investigate the core issue of corruption, including arbitrary increase in tender costs, awarding additional works to contractors without inviting tenders and involvement of senior ministers in the scam, saying the issues were beyond its mandate. The report mentioned that “these core issues were riddled with grave irregularities which require deep and thorough investigation by a competent authority”.The man at the centre of the controversy, the then water resources minister Ajit Pawar who briefly resigned following a TOI expose in September 2012, finds no mention in the report. This newspaper had reported how Pawar had issued circulars which circumvented the mandatory approval of the state finance department and were directly responsible for jacking up tender rates. The report has apportioned the blame on officials… (Times of India 1/4/14)


15. HUDA land scam: Final buyers move HC for re-allotment letters (5)

Chandigarh: The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) scam about multiple plot allotment in 18 reserved categories, including defence, has left the present purchasers a harried lot and forced them to move the Punjab and Haryana high court for re-allotment letters. In one case where a defence officer had sold his HUDAallotted reserved plot further and then secured another, two Kurukshetra people have challenged HUDA’s refusing to issue the re-allotment letter for the initial sold plot. Taking up the petition of Parveen Kumari and her husband, the division bench comprising justices Surya Kant and Lisa Gill on Tuesday issued a notice of motion to HUDA to demand its reply before May 20. In the petitioner’s case, officer Jasvinder Singh Ghotra was the original allottee of 325 squareyard defence-quota plot at Urban Estate, Kurukshetra, in May 2002. In May 2005, he sold the plot, after which it had six owners in eight years. In September 2013, it came into the petitioners’ hands. In June 2006, after a year of selling his first plot, officer Ghotra had another HUDAdefence-quota plot in his name at Jagadhri. In September last year, after the execution of sale deed, the petitioners approached the HUDA officials in Kurukshetra for the transfer of ownership in their name. In October 2013, the HUDA office issued them a letter stating that the plot could not be re-allotted, as the original allottee, officer Gohtra, had obtained multiple plots fraudulently. The plot in question was first allotted to officer Jasvinder Singh Ghotra in 2002 when he had no other HUDA plot in his name and there was no cap on re-sale in the allotment letter, the petitioners’ counsel, Vijay Kumar Jindal, has argued. Since Ghotra was allotted another plot in 2006, the first cannot be said to be illegal, and so HUDA cannot refuse re-allotment in petitioners’ name, the counsel has added. (Hindustan Times 2/4/14)


16. Rs 1.76L Crore Scam-hit Raja Has Just Rs 3.61 Crore (5)

COONOOR/COIMBATORE: Former Union Telecom Minister A Raja, the DMK’s articulate Dalit face accused of being the architect of the 2G scam, the ‘Mother of all Scams’ which caused a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the country, is not among the richest candidates in the fray this General Elections. Far from it, on Wednesday he declared assets of Rs 3.61 crore, which is merely one-and-a-half times the assets worth Rs 1.45 crore he declared in 2009 when he had no corruption case against him. Raja’s net worth would be dwarfed if one were to even compare it with his predecessor from the constituency and current Congress candidate in Coimbatore, R Prabhu, who has declared an asset value of over Rs 61 crore. Raja, 50, filed his nomination before Nilgiris Returning Officer P Shankar declaring in his affidavit that he has been named as an accused in a corruption case that could attract a punishment of two years or more adding that no other criminal case is pending against him. While declaring a liability of Rs 35.51 lakh and Rs 3.92 lakh in his and his wife M A Parameswari’s name respectively, he declared a Toyota Corolla Altis car worth Rs 13.81 lakh which he bought in 2010-11. His movable assets total Rs 1.45 crore, including Rs 7.98 lakh cash, Rs 64.79 lakh bank deposits, Rs 22.09 lakh worth investments and Rs 1.2 lakh in National Saving Certificate.  Besides, his gold holdings remain the same as 2009 — a 108 sovereign-memento — except that its value has appreciated to Rs 26.58 lakh. His silver holdings are worth Rs 1.95 lakh. He owns furniture worth Rs 2.3 lakh. While he earned an income of Rs 8.09 lakh in 2012-13, his wife earned Rs 5.74 lakh during the same period. Interestingly, he has also loaned Rs 3.91 lakh to his wife. His 2,400 sqft house at Ganapathy Nagar, Tiruchy, which he had purchased in October 1994, is now worth Rs 32.85 lakh. Parameswari owns 5.53-acre agricultural land at Serkudi in Musiri near Tiruchy valued at Rs 5.53 lakh. She also has five acres of land at Melapuliyur in her native Perambalur district worth Rs 8.59 lakh. Besides, Raja has inherited 1.62 acres of agricultural land at Velur in Perambalur. His wife has movable assets worth Rs 93.93 lakh, 175 sovereign gold jewellery valued at Rs 43.07 lakh and silver worth Rs 4.68 lakh. She also has a stake of Rs 32.38 lakh in partnership firm Shivakamam Agency Capital. Raja’s daughter Mayuri has Rs 18.15 lakh worth movable assets, including 25 sovereigns of gold worth Rs 6.15 lakh and a Rs 12 lakh diamond stud. Raja has Rs 41.03 lakh worth Hindu Undivided Family assets. (New Indian Express 3/4/14)



17. Preserving the tradition of tribal art in modern times (6)

NEW DELHI: In an attempt to acknowledge the roots of a great artistic tradition established by communities which have been consistently kept outside the ambit of established art history through blatant marginalisation, the National Tribal Art Conclave organised by Lalit Kala Akademi began here on Monday. The conclave at Rabindra Bhavan, Meghdoot II, will be on till April 6. The event was inaugurated by well-known art critic Keshav Malik. The Akademi hosted its 55th National Exhibition of Art recently wherein it awarded 10 artists with national awards for their contemporary art works. The Institute has now brought 100 artists from all over the country to the conclave where the tribal and contemporary artists will experiment and create art forms to narrate their landscape. Speaking about the event, Lalit Kala Akademi chairman Dr. K.K. Chakravarty said: “The transformation, over the past two centuries, of forests from non fiscal, non timber, ecological habitats into timber mines, empty areas for development, carbon sinks and fiscal resource have deprived the folk and tribal artists of kinship, imagery and rituals. The co-evolutionary inter-dependence of human and non-human, organic and inorganic communities has also been lost.” “The presentation of these arts in urban festivals and formal state celebrations rather than celebrating them in their unique context has tended to dilute the arts of their relevance in addressing the rhythm of life and livelihood,’’ he added. These artistic work, according to a Lalit Kala Akademi official, has been appreciated in the international market for its aesthetic sensibility and authenticity but has failed to get its due in it’s own homeland. “This initiative by Lalit Kala Akademi is to give the ‘Tribal Arts’ its due credit and create a mass awareness,’’ said Dr. Chakravarty. Gond, Warli, Rathwa, Muria Gaud, Konda,Tiba, Manjuli, Dhuri, Maring, Maram, Mizo, Mishing and Meena are few of the tribal traditions that are being showcased in the conclave. The art works produced by the artist in the conclave will go on to become a part of ‘XIIth Triennale India’s National Pavilion”. (The Hindu 1/4/14)


18. Anti-Polavaram activists to file mass nominations (6)

KHAMMAM: In a bid to register their protest against the Polavaram project, the town-based Sparsha Samajika Adhyayana Vedika is mulling filing nominations en masse to the Khammam Lok Sabha seat. Sources said the move was aimed at highlighting the plight of lakhs of adivasis facing the threat of submergence and “large-scale” displacement on account of the project. The proposal comes close on the heels of the decision of the Mumpu Pranthala Parirakshana Samithi to boycott the ZPTC and MPTC elections in Kukunoor and Velerupadu mandals, which fall under the Polavaram submergence zone. Not a single nomination was filed for the local body elections in the two mandals. Although the strategy of the Sparsha Vedika appears opposite to that of the Samithi as the latter gave a call for the total boycott of polls, the two approaches are aimed at highlighting the Polavaram issue at the national level. Both organisations have been vociferously opposing the Centre’s “decision” to transfer several mandals of Bhadrachalam Agency to the residual State of Andhra Pradesh and demanding cancellation of the project. When contacted, Sparsha Vedika convener K. Bhaskar said the move to file nominations en masse was intended to bring the burning issue of Polavaram project to the focus at the national level for spearheading a mass movement against the project. “In such a scenario, elections in the particular constituency could be postponed due to technical reasons like inability to print election symbols of a large number of contestants on the ballot papers to be uploaded into EVMs,” he said. Meanwhile, the CPI ML-New Democracy (Chandranna Group) has also mooted a similar plan, with an objective to garner public support against the project. In a similar move, people of the fluoride affected areas in Nalgonda district filed nominations en-masse to register their protest against “government’s apathy” to provide them safe drinking water. (The Hindu 2/4/14)


19. Gram sabha to decide forest fate (6)

A crucial gram sabha is being organised by the local tribal population to decide the fate of the Mahan forests in Madhya Pradesh. This gram sabha will be along the lines of the gram sabhas held in the Niyamgiri hills, which had said no to bauxite mining. These ancients forests comprising of virgin sal trees have been in the eye of a storm ever since Stage 2 clearance was granted to the Mahan coal block, which would see the destruction of over five lakh hectares of forest. The local tribals, organised under the banner of the Mahan Sangharsh Samiti (MSS), have now girded their loins and are determined to give voice to their anger at losing this last tract of green. “Signatures had been forged in the earlier gram sabha meet held on March 6, 2013. We will not allow this to be repeated a second time over,” said Bechan Lal Shah, a member of the MSS. Singrauli collector M. Selvendran concedes there was “some discrepancy in the signatures in the earlier gram sabha” which is why he instituted an inquiry, whose result “I am still awaiting… but we will hold another gram sabha meet whose recommendations will be forwarded to the state government. Forest land diversion can start only after that.” Rukun, a tribal woman who lives in Budher village located inside the forest, is emphatic that “Our livelihood , our customs and our culture are tied up with our forests.” Ram Lelu Singh Kerhwar, also a resident of Budher, who does agriculture on two acres of revenue land which falls within the forest, said, “When we raised the issue of how our signatures had been forged with our chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, he did not respond to our queries.” Pria Pillai, a Greenpeace campaigner working in Singrauli district, said, “The decision of the gram sabhas in Niyamgiri has set a precedent in terms of the Forest Right Act since 40 per cent of the population in the Mahan forests is tribals.” “There are no individual tribal rights to settle but community rights of grazing and pasture do remain to be settled,” the collector, Mr Selvendran, said. He explained, “We received 20,000 applications for individual tribal rights from which 1,200 are still pending. Forty-five hundred pattas have been given in the district.” (Asian Age 3/4/14)



20. Several Injured in Clash Between CPM, RSS (7)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Five people were hacked and several others injured as CPM and RSS workers clashed at Aruvikkara late on Sunday night. Party workers, who were engaged in campaigning work in Irumba and Pandiyodu regions, had differences over the installation of flex boards at Aruvikkara, leading to the clashes, the police said. Anilkumar and Shivan, both CPM activists, were hacked in the forehead and thighs respectively. The police have registered cases against 15 RSS activists based on the complaints lodged by the duo. RSS activists Pradeep, Pradosh Kumar (Pradeep’s brother) and Nitish also suffered cuts on their bodies. The police also registered cases against several CPM activists. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


21. Goa BJP using Catholic legislators to criticise Church: NCP (7)

Panaji, April 1 : The Goa BJP is using Catholic legislators in the party as a “mask” to openly criticize the Church in Goa for hyping the secularism versus communalism debate ahead of general elections, the NCP Tuesday alleged. Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) vice president Trajano D’Mello also told a press conference here that the drug mafia had shifted its allegiance to the present government, which was why a legislative committee report on drug trade in Goa was not being adopted by the BJP-led coalition government. “Why are BJP’s Hindu MLAs not coming forward to criticise the Goa Church for starting a debate on secularism and communalism? Why are only Christian MLAs being used as a mask by the BJP?” D’Mello said, accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of trying to start in-fighting within the minority community in Goa. Goa Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza of the BJP and other Catholic legislators, who are either members of the saffron party or are part of the ruling coalition, have been openly criticising the Church as well as the Roman Catholic priests in Goa for the last one week. While D’Souza blamed the Church for trying to create a secularism versus communalism divide, Benaulim legislator Caitu Silva accused Catholic priests of supporting the Congress. “I want to know why the priests do not tell the people two months in advance to support the Congress. Why do they tell us to support the Congress only on the eve of election,” Caitu told reporters Sunday. The criticism of the Church and one of its social organisations by the ruling Catholic MLAs follows attempts by the former to kindle a secularism versus communalism debate ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, much to the displeasure of the BJP, which has insisted on development as the agenda for the general elections. A circular and a voters’ pledge issued by the Church and its satellite organisations was also obliquely critical of exclusionary and corrupt governance methods adopted by both BJP’s prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi and Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. The Goa Church is a significant player in Goa’s socio-political space with its Catholic population pegged at nearly 27 percent. D’Mello also said the delay by the BJP-led Goa government to act on a crucial legislative committee report on the police-politician drug mafia in Goa, could mean that the drug mafia had switched loyalties to the incumbent government. The report, which was tabled last year, has not been adopted by the government yet. “When was the report tabled? Why is the government not adopting it? BJP MLAs themselves are on record in the assembly as saying that minor children are slowly being addicted to drugs. Does the government want to encourage this?” D’Mello said. Incidentally, D’Mello’s NCP is backing Congress candidate Ravi Naik for the North Goa parliamentary seat. Naik and his son Roy find themselves indicted in the very same report for their links to Goa’s drug mafia. (New Kerala 1/4/14)


22. Shiv Sena Opposed to ‘Anti-national Muslims’, Says Uddhav (7)

MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena will continue to oppose the “anti-national Muslims” who do not respect the country’s laws and create problems for people, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday. “Like my father (the late) Bal Thackeray, those Muslims who consider India their motherland, respect the laws of this country, don’t ignite riots and live amicably, we have nothing against them — as far as the others, they have no right to live in India,” Thackeray told his party journal “Saamana”.When asked about how Hyderabad-based Muslim leader Akbaruddin Owaisi was spewing venom against Hindus by threatening to wipe out the majority (Hindu) community in 15 minutes, Thackeray cited the example of his father. “Though he was the only Hindu ‘Hridaysamrat’ (Emperor of Hindu hearts), Bal Thackeray never said he would annihilate the Muslims in 15 minutes. Can somebody dare to speak in this fashion (like Owaisi) among the Pakistani Hindus? Under such a situation, it is up to the Hindus to decide who will protect them,” Thackeray said. Referring to ally Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s brand of “Hindutva”, Thackeray rued that whenever there is talk of Modi, it gets linked to Gujarat riots and attempts are made to measure his “Hindutva” based on that incident. “However, one thing is clear — under Modi, Gujarat has not witnessed any communal riots and the Hindus are feeling secure in that state,” Thackeray said. Discussing the prospects of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Maharashtra, Thackeray recalled that way back, the late Bal Thackeray had advised social campaigner Anna Hazare to keep away from his “Team Anna”.”Now ‘Team Anna’ has distanced itself from Hazare — on whose name it came up in the first place… AAP came with a bang and fell with a whimper in Delhi and only the people of that state had to suffer,” Thackeray said. He dismissed the contention that the AAP broom (party symbol) was sweeping Maharashtra, and said it doesn’t pose any challenge to the established parties. “In fact, the people of Mumbai are already irritated by the AAP. The Shiv Sena is the only voice of the people of Maharashtra,” he said. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


23. BJP could have fielded at least 1 minority candidate in Goa to prove they are secular: Coutinho (7)

MARGAO: Congress spokesperson Pratima Coutinho congratulated deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza for openly airing the apprehension of minorities that they feel threatened by the prospects of Narendra Modi becoming Prime Minister of India. Coutinho said that in the 2012 assembly elections, about 34% of the minorities in Goa voted for the BJP based on their manifesto promises. But the numerous U-turns of the BJP government has made them realize that the BJP has fooled them. Coutinho said the BJP had a great opportunity to show the people they are secular by fielding at least one minority candidate in Goa. (Times of India 1/4/14)


24. NIA torturing minority youths in the name of probe: Kavita Krishnan (7)

PATNA: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has donned political and communal colours and is torturing youths of the minority community in the name of investigations. This was revealed by ML politburo member and All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) secretary Kavita Krishnan at a press meet after the party consulted few alleged terrorists arrested in Patna serial blasts. Some of the alleged terrorists were also present. “Most of the youths arrested are being forced to admit their involvement in the blasts,” Krishnan said, adding, “Muslim youths from Arwal district were detained by the investigating officers and tortured till they admitted to committing terrorist acts. Many such youngsters have narrated to us the horrid tales of torture.” Maksood Alam, whose 19-year-old son Aslam Parvez was arrested by NIA in the Patna blasts case, said, “My second son Rustam Ansari and I were told by the officers to coax Parvez to admit his connection in the blasts. He was beaten and tortured in front of me and was kept in custody from March 5 to 30 without any documents.” Another youth Irfan Ahmad, who was also arrested, said, “Initially, the questioning was done in Jehanabad. Then I was called to Delhi where I was beaten up so that I could admit my connections in the bomb blasts.” The ML leaders also alleged the NIA to be influenced by political outfits. “Aslam Parvez, who was arrested by NIA, was asked about his political affiliation by the investigating officers,” Krishnan said, adding, “Why should any investigating agency ask people which party they vote for?” ML politburo member Dhirendra Jha, who was also present on the occasion said, “Earlier we had freed two youths of north Bihar – Meher Alam and Aftab Alam, from the NIA, who were accused of being involved in the Patna bomb blasts. We will take the matter to the court if needed.” The party also plans to approach the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and National Commission for Minorities (NCM) for providing justice to the youths. “The investigating agencies should also be made answerable to the Parliament,” said the ML leaders. (Times of India 2/4/14)


25. Mulayam’s SP unveils poll manifesto, promises muslim quota (7)

Lucknow: Mulayam Singh Yadav said it would ensure justice to 2002 Gujarat riot victims and implementation of recommendations of Srikrishna commission. Mulayam Singh Yadav said it would ensure justice to 2002 Gujarat riot victims and implementation of recommendations of Srikrishna commission. Seeking to woo Muslims as well as upper castes, Samajwadi Party on Wednesday promised quota in police and other government jobs for minority community, release of “innocent” youths jailed on terror charges and constitution of an Upper Caste Commission in its manifesto brimming with sops. Vowing to enact tough law against communal violence, the SP led by Mulayam Singh Yadav said it would ensure justice to 2002 Gujarat riot victims and implementation of recommendations of Srikrishna commission. Provisions for free education and healthcare will be made in the country if a non-Congress, non-BJP government of which SP is a part is formed at the Centre after the Lok Sabha polls, the party, which is in power in Uttar Pradesh, said. “The party will constitute a commission on lines of women, minorities and others commissions for problems pertaining to Upper Caste. The party will also make amendment in Constitution for providing reservation to Muslims on basis of their population in government jobs and give them 15 per cent reservation in police and PAC,” Mulayam said while releasing the party’s 24-page manifesto. “The party will include 17 backward castes in the SC category if voted to power,” he said. The manifesto also promised to release “innocent” Muslim youths lodged in jail on terrorism charges. Party National General Secretary Ramgopal Yadav said if SP is voted to power, it would make education free from primary to higher level. “We will do this by increasing expenditure in education. Presently four per cent of the GDP is spent on education and we will increase it to seven per cent for making education free,” Ramgopal said. For service class, SP manifesto promises increasing the retirement age to 65 years for government employees, judges of higher and lower courts and teachers and other employees of educational institutes. Priority will be given to Agriculture sector, Mulayam said, adding his government would ensure that the “ignored” sector is given due weightage. “Only a country, where agriculture is promoted can make progress. China’s economy became better than India due to agriculture sector,” he said. Highlighting the steps to be taken in the health sector, the SP supremo said that mini AIIMs would be opened in rural areas and facilities like x-ray, MRI, CT-scan and pathological tests would be made “free for the poor”.  (Indian Express 2/4/14)


26. Bukhari likely to announce support to Cong, AAP claims Muslims rooting for Kejriwal (7)

New Delhi: On Tuesday, a delegation of Muslims leaders led by Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari met Congress president Sonia Gandhi at her 10, Janpath residence. After a meeting that lasted 45 minutes, Shahi Imam Bukhari said issues such as, “the arrest of Muslim youths in terror cases, implementation of Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Commission recommendations and Anti-Communal Violence Bill” were discussed. Sources close to Bukhari said the decision to support the Congress has been finalised and an announcement is likely on Friday. While an endorsement from Bukhari can bolster the Congress’s campaign in the upcoming elections, especially in Uttar Pradesh, the AAP believes that by directly contesting against BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal can change equations. to help us personalise your reading experience. Four of the eight seats that the Congress managed to win in the Delhi Assembly elections came from areas where the Muslim population was significant. “The tide has changed. Muslims no longer view Congress as the natural alternative to vote in order to keep communal forces at bay. During the Assembly elections, we received 15-20% of the Muslim vote in Delhi. In the Lok Sabha elections, we expect this to reach 80%,” Irfanullah Khan, leader and the president of AAP’s Jamia Nagar coordination committee, said. Fearing this loss from their traditional vote bank, the Delhi unit of the Congress had proposed the fielding of at least one Muslim candidate from Delhi for the Lok Sabha elections. But with each of the seven sitting MPs being renominated by the party, senior Congress leaders said that they expect the endorsement from the influential Muslim cleric to further consolidate their vote bank. “The Congress will get the Muslim votes in Delhi. Bukhari’s endorsement of the Congress party will help us win votes not just in Delhi but elsewhere as well,” senior Congress leader Mateen Ahmed said. (Indian Express 3/4/14)



27. Dowry death: Husband, in-laws booked for woman’s death (8)

HYDERABAD: KPHB police registered a dowry death case against a human resource manager of an optics firm and his family members after his 26-year-old wife committed suicide by hanging at their house in Nizampet on Tuesday. The victim was identified as Indira, 26, wife of Vastavai Deepak Varma from Bhimavaram. Deepak and Indira were classmates while pursuing MBA at Eluru a few years ago. The couple fell in love with each other and got married with the consent of their parents two years ago. Indira left behind a seven-month-old daughter. After the marriage, Deepak and Indira shifted to Nizampet. At 11.30pm on Monday, Indira called her sister and told her that Deepak had been beating her up and mentally harassing her for the past few months by finding fault with her about petty matters. A little while after midnight, Deepak’s family alerted Indira’s brother Madhu saying that her condition was critical and asked the latter to come to a hospital at KPHB. “Madhu reached the private hospital and he was told by doctors that Indira was pronounced dead on arrival,” Indira’s cousin Palla Srinivas told TOI. The victim’s relatives then lodged a complaint with KPHB police on Tuesday alleging that Indira committed suicide by hanging due to the harassment of her husband and in-laws. “At the time of marriage, Indira’s father Raju gave 50 tolas of gold and Rs 7 lakh cash as dowry. Despite that, Deepak and her in-laws harassed Indira and drove her to commit suicide,” Srinivas said. The victim left no suicide note. After the inquest, KPHB police registered a case under section 304-B (Dowry death) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against Deepak, his parents Ramachandra Raju and Soumya Sree. No arrests were made yet. (Times of India 2/4/14)


28. Suryanelli Case: HC Judgment on Friday (8)

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court will pronounce its judgment on the appeals filed by the accused in the sensational Suryanelli rape case on Friday. A Division Bench comprising Justice K T Sankaran and Justice M L Joseph Francis had reserved judgment on conclusion of the arguments. The Suryanelli case relates to the abduction and sexual assault of a minor girl by several men in 1996. The prosecution case was that the 16-year-old schoolgirl from Suryanelli in Idukki district was enticed, abducted, and sexually-exploited by a bus conductor on January 16, 1996. She was later handed over to two others, including the prime accused, who was a lawyer. The duo presented her to several other men. The abductors released the girl some 40 days later, on February 26. On September 6, 2000, a special court sentenced 35 accused persons to rigorous imprisonment for varying terms. The first accused, conductor Raju, and the second accused, Usha, were sentenced to 13 years’ rigorous imprisonment with fine, and an additional jail term of four years on different counts. The key accused, Dharmarajan, had been absconding, but was arrested later. The trial court had convicted all the 35 accused on charges of rape, gangrape and kidnapping, but the High Court had acquitted all except one. Based on an appeal filed by the state and the victim, the Supreme Court had ordered the High Court to consider afresh the appeals filed by the accused. (New Indian Express 2/4/14)


29. Five booked for kicking pregnant housewife over dowry demands (8)

Thane: The police booked five family members, including a couple, for allegedly kicking a pregnant housewife due to which the foetus died, the police said today. Reuters file photo for representation onlyThe police booked five family members, including a couple, for allegedly kicking a pregnant housewife due to which the foetus died, the police said today. Police sub-inpsector Avinash Mahajan of the Vartak Nagar police station told PTI that the 22-year-old Chayya Prakash Rathod was married to Prakash Rathod in 2013 and she was four months pregnant. Soon after she began residing with her husband and in-laws at Lokmanya Nagar, her husband and in-laws began harassing her constantly for dowry, demanding Rs 4 lakh from her family members. After she expressed her inability to fulfill the dowry demands, her in-laws, including her husband, tortured her mentally and physically, though she was pregnant by four months, the complaint said. Allegedly, they also kicked her in the abdomen after which the foetus died and she had to undergo abortion, the complaint said. The police based on her complaint booked her husband Prakash Pattu Rathod (25), mother-in-law Yashoda Rathod (45) father-in-law Pattu Rathod (50), sister-in-law Mukta Rathod (22) and brother-in-law Vikas Rathod (20), the police said. The five have been booked under Sections 498-A, 406, 313, 323, 504 and 506 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, the police said, adding that investigations are on. (Deccan Herald 3/4/14)


30. Women’s safety clinching factor this election, survey finds (8)

NEW DELHI: Women’s safety is going to a be second most crucial factor in the coming Lok Sabha elections, finds a survey conducted by Marketing and Development Research Associates (MDRA) and Avaaz, an online campaigning community. The issue will be top-of-mind for 91% voters, as per the study. Of the 8,284 people surveyed between March 28 and April 1, 94% would like the new government to initiate a public awareness campaign on the issue of gender violence. The survey, which was conducted on those who said they intend to vote in the coming elections, found that corruption was ranked as No1 issue followed by women’s safety at number two. When asked if they were willing to vote a candidate who commits to specific policies to stem violence against women, 85% answered in the affirmative. The survey also found that 75% of respondents were dissatisfied with the electoral promises made so far by politicians to tackle gender inequalities. The survey also quizzed people on Womanifesto, a six-point plan created by 70 civil society movements, organizations and eminent individuals to address problems of women’s safety and empowerment. The Womanifesto calls on all candidates fighting elections to commit to enforcing this plan within one year of being in power. Already, the AAP and CPI (ML) have committed to these six points and BJP MP Jay Panda has promised to get the party to commit to it. “This election parties are addressing voters’ concerns on women’s safety and equality more often,” says Karuna Nundy, a Supreme Court lawyer and co-drafter of the Womanifesto. “Politicians can still make equal power and real freedom for women a cross-party common minimum programme,” she adds. Educating for equality, making laws count, putting women in power, policing for the people, ensuring swift justice and support for survivors of violence and safe spaces for women are the six points of the Womanifesto. (Times of India 4/4/14)



31. Britain considering ban on Muslim Brotherhood: report (12)

Cairo: According to The Times newspaper in London, Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered intelligence agencies to review the Islamist group’s operations in Britain. Britain’s government is considering banning the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, according to a report Tuesday, over concerns the group is behind terrorist attacks in Egypt. Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsy was ousted as Egypt’s first democratically elected President last year by the military and the group has since been blamed by Cairo for a wave of attacks. The Brotherhood insists it is a peaceful organization with no links to violence. Egyptian authorities have launched a crackdown on Islamists since July, during which hundreds were killed and thousands injured. Last months, a court in southern Egypt handed down death sentences to 529 alleged backers of Morsy over rioting and killing a police officer in August, drawing strong condemnations from human rights organizations. A verdict is expected on April 28 for a further 683 defendants on trial under similar charges. According to The Times newspaper in London, Prime Minister David Cameron has ordered intelligence agencies to review the Islamist group’s operations in Britain. One of the key incidents under review is an attack in February against tourists in the Sinai peninsula, which killed four people. Since being banned in Egypt, the Brotherhood has moved some of its operations to Britain. The British review is being handled by the country’s top diplomat in Saudi Arabia. Riyadh, historically hostile to organized political Islamic movements, this year declared the Muslim Brotherhood to be a terrorist organization and the monarchy has supported Egypt’s military rulers. Meanwhile, al—Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — the networks’s Yemen—based branch — released a new video in which they mocked the Saudi government as being a pawn of the United States. AQAP condemned the ban on the Brotherhood and said it was a sign the Saudi government would never tolerate Islamist groups. “The infidels will not accept them until they give up everything associated with Islam,” the terrorist group said. The video was released following US President Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend. AQAP has hundreds of Saudi and other foreign fighters in its ranks and is considered one of the most dangerous branches of al—Qaeda. (The Hindu 1/4/14)


32. Sri Lanka bans LTTE, 15 other Tamil diaspora groups (12)

Colombo: Sri Lanka today banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and 15 other Tamil diaspora groups for their alleged terror links and involvement in reviving the Tamil rebel movement. Defence Ministry spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said Sri Lanka has banned 16 organisations, including the LTTE, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution 1373. These organisations have been classified as “terrorist” under the new government proclamation, he said. From now on it will be illegal to have any contact with these organisations, Wanigasooriya said. He said among the organisations proscribed are the LTTE’s Trans National Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), Global Tamil Forum (GTF), which is active in Europe, and the UK—based British Tamil Forum (BTF). Wanigasooriya said all these groups are being led by four different individuals. The announcement came as the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva last week adopted a resolution calling for an international investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Sri Lankan troops during the final battle with the LTTE that ended in 2009. Sri Lanka had accused the LTTE front organisations of moving the resolution against the country as means to take revenge from Colombo for militarily crushing the LTTE, which had fought for nearly 30 years for a separate Tamil homeland under Velupillai Prabhakaran. Up to 40,000 Tamil civilians were killed at the end of the separatist war, rights groups and UN experts have said. Sri Lankan officials claim that proscription of organisations such as GTF and BTF are particularly aimed at educating the Western nations on the presence of the LTTE members among the front organisations that operate in various Western capitals, Wanigasooriya said. The government will urge for an investigation into these organisations and their funding of terrorism, he said. Sri Lanka will also request the governments to classify LTTE front members as offenders and name them as wanted by the Interpol for terrorist activity. Sri Lankan nationals and political parties will be forbidden from making contact with such organisations. The individuals belonging to these organisations would face arrest under anti—terrorism laws when travelling to Sri Lanka, Wanigasooriya said. (The Hindu 2/4/14)


33. Delhi Police wins custody battle of two top IM operatives (12)

New Delhi: After a tug of war, Delhi Police today had its way when a special court granted it 13-day custody of Indian Mujahideen (IM) operatives Tehseen Akhtar, Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas and three others by brushing aside claims of NIA to quiz them first. Additional Sessions Judge Daya Prakash passed the order after Special Cell of Delhi Police and National Investigation Agency (NIA) exchanged heated arguments to take the custody of Tehseen and Waqas, who were wanted for their alleged roles in the February last year Dilsukhnagar blasts in Hyderabad. Tehseen and Waqas, along with other alleged IM operatives, Mohd Maroof, Wakar Azhar and Mohd Saqib Ansari, who all were arrested by the special cell last month, were produced before the court in muffled faces after expiry of police custody. The special cell sought extension of their custody for 15 days on the ground that they have to be interrogated to know about the whereabouts of others members of the terror outfit. However, NIA opposed the police’s plea saying that being a federal investigating agency, they should be permitted to formally arrest Tehseen and Waqas, a Pakistani national, in Dilsukhnagar blasts case. Special Cell’s prosecutor Rajiv Mohan countered the claims of NIA saying they have arrested these accused first and they need to interrogate them to unearth the conspiracy. “You cannot curtail the rights of local police in the name of NIA Act… They (NIA) have not arrested the accused. We (special cell) had not stopped them (NIA) from arresting these accused,” Mohan argued. He said that some more wanted IM operatives, including its co-founder Riyaz Bhatkal, was to be arrested on the basis of the interrogation of these accused persons. NIA prosecutor Ahmed Khan, however, submitted that the NIA Act has overriding effect and being a central agency, they have the right to interrogate these two accused. “What you (police) have done in last 10 days?,” he asked the special cell and argued in the court that police was duty bound to inform them after arresting these accused. (Zee News 3/4/14)



34. Supreme Court does away with disparity in pensions of high court judges (19)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday removed a 60-year-old disparity in computation of pension for two categories of high court judges – those appointed from judicial service from lower courts and others from among advocates. Judges appointed from subordinate courts on retirement get pension for the entire period of service, including the time they worked as judicial officers, even if their tenure as a high court Judge was for three years. Advocates appointed as HC judges, say a decade before reaching the retirement age of 62 years, had their pension computed taking into account their period of service as only 10 years. A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N V Ramana erased this disparity between those who get elevated from trial courts and those from among advocates. “The experience and knowledge gained by a successful lawyer at the Bar can never be considered to be less important from any point of view in comparison to the experience gained by a judicial officer. If the service of a judicial officer is counted for fixation of pension, there is no valid reason as to why the experience at the Bar cannot be treated as equivalent for the same purpose,” said Justice Sathasivam, who authored the verdict. He added, “The fixation of higher pension to the judges drawn from subordinate judiciary who have served for shorter period in contradistinction to judges drawn from the Bar who have served for longer period with less pension is highly discriminatory and breach of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution.” Such disparity in pension affected the image of judiciary, the apex court admitted and cited this as a prime reason why many successful lawyers were shunning the offer of judgeship. “When pensions are meager because of the shorter service, lawyers who attain distinction in the profession may not, because of this anomaly, accept the office of judgeship. When capable lawyers do not show inclination towards judgeship, the quality of justice declines,” the bench said. The court said “one rank one pension must be the norm in respect of a constitutional office”. It said, “When a civil servant retires from service, the family pension is fixed at a higher rate whereas in the case of the high court, it is fixed at a lower rate. No discrimination can be made in the matter of payment of family pension.” Allowing petitions seeking parity in pension for HC judges, the bench said, “We accept the petitioners’ claim and declare that for pensionary benefits, 10 years practice as an advocate be added as a qualifying service for judges elevated from the Bar.” The court added 10 years service to this category of judges because the Constitution provides that a lawyer becomes eligible to be appointed as an HC judge if he has 10 years experience. (Times of India 1/4/14)


35. Supreme Court reserves verdict on government ads ahead of polls (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved on a petition seeking guidelines for Central and State governments on issuing advertisements in the media, highlighting the programmes, policies and achievements on the eve of elections or on the birthdays of leaders. A three-judge Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana on a writ petition filed by Common Cause in 2003 and Centre for Public Interest Litigation in 2004 for a mandamus to the Centre and the States to desist from issuing large-sized advertisements in newspapers for commemorating any political personality or event, or for making the inauguration of a project to avoid enormous and unwarranted expenditure to the exchequer. The Bench asked counsel for the parties to give their suggestions within one week to enable the court to frame necessary guidelines in this regard. The petition was filed in the wake of ‘India shining’ advertisements issued by the NDA government trumpeting its achievements. Subsequently the petitioner filed an application drawing court’s attention to media campaign launched by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on completion of one year in office in 2012. It said many of these advertisements contained photographs of government functionaries and important political personalities and sought to glorify them to create an impression that they were responsible for providing benefits to the people. During the course of arguments on Wednesday, the CJI Sathasivam asked counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for CPIL whether there could be any objection for a government issuing advertisements to inform the public about its policies and programmes without the photographs of leaders. Mr. Bhushan said, “I have no objection but even this is wrong as this could be misused for issuing advertisements with an eye on political mileage.” When the CJI wanted to know whether advertisements of government with photograph of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister to convey something to the people was also not permissible, counsel said this could also be misused. Senior counsel K. Radhakrishnan appearing for the Centre submitted that there were enough guidelines for issuance of advertisements by various ministries and departments, the CJI said “these guidelines had nothing to do with the issue before the court.” The Bench then reserved verdict on the petitions. (The Hindu 2/4/14)


36. SC agrees to consider open court hearing of curative petitions (19)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to consider an open court hearing of curative petitions, filed by gay rights activists against its verdict on criminalising homosexuality. “We will go through the papers and consider… we will definitely consider,” said a Bench led by Chief Justice P Sathasivam as a group of senior lawyers appearing for the LGBT rights activists pleaded for an open court hearing. Curative petition is the last legal resort to get a verdict overturned. It is usually considered by judges in-chamber unless an application for an open court hearing is overtly allowed. The petitioners, including NGO Naz Foundation and Voices Against 377, which have been spearheading the legal battle on behalf of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community, claimed that the SC judgment of December 11 last required a re-look since the court had ignored various developments in law. “The judgment was reserved on March 27, 2012 but it was delivered after around 21 months. During this long period, lots of changes took place, including amendment in laws. But these changes were failed to be considered by the Bench which delivered the judgment,” senior advocate Ashok Desai told the Bench. He said the curative petition should be heard in open court so to accord them adequate opportunity to argue on the legal points. He also said the case should have been heard by a Constitution Bench instead of a two-judge Bench, which delivered the verdict. The court has already dismissed a batch of review petitions filed by the Centre and gay rights activists against its December 2013 verdict, declaring gay sex an offence punishable up to life imprisonment. Withdrawing the legal protection to what it called “so-called rights” from a “minuscule fraction of the country’s population” comprising LGBT, the SC had ruled that Section 377 in the IPC will continue making gay sex — “irrespective of age and consent” — an offence. (Indian Express  4/4/14)



37. 17 suicides in 18 days in Tripura’s Dhalai district (20)

Agartala: Kamalpur in Tripura’s Dhalai district has become increasingly suicide-prone with as many as 17 persons of different ages having ended their lives over the last 18 days in the town. The issue has been discussed in the State Assembly and other forums, but no concrete plan has emerged to try to mitigate the problem. Prayas — a social initiative of the Tripura police — organises awareness programmes and counselling every now and then to check suicidal tendencies. The initiative was recently introduced at Jamthum, a remote locality in Kamalpur, in the wake of the rising suicide trend in the subdivision. “This is basically to create awareness against social evils like torture for dowry which often lead to suicide,” Pradip Das, Kuchuchara police officer, told The Hindu on Monday. He said the programme in the area would get more focus after the Lok Sabha election. Among those who committed suicide in Kamalpur were farmers, housewives, youths and students. Tripura has seen a high rate of suicide in the past few years. In an Assembly session, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar expressed his concern after tabling statistics on the social peril. According to Mr. Sarkar, 301 persons committed suicide in five months in the State, which has a population of a little over three million, putting the rate at two persons per day. (The Hindu 1/4/14)


38. Rs 994 cr relief package to be given to 17.17 lk Marathwada farmers (20)

Aurangabad, Maharahstra, Apr 2 : The 17.17 lakh farmers from Marathwada region comprising eight districts who were affected by the recent unseasonal hailstorm rain that ruined 8.05 lakh hectors standing crops will get Rs 994 crore relief package. About 50 panic stricken farmers, including women, in the region have committed suicides by different means after losing their standing crops due to the hailstorm rains. According to the Divisional Commissioner official sources, unseasonmal rains which started on February 24 and ended on March 23 last month lashed the region and ruined standing Rabbi crops like jawar, maize, grams, while horticulture was also severely damaged. The process of the Panchanamas to estimate losses were completed recently. After the Panchanamans there were 17.17 lakh farmers eligible for relief package, they said. About 8.05 lakh hectors land was affected. From that Osmanabad was most affected with 1.76 lakh hectors, followed by Jalna 1.39 lakh hectors, Parbhani 1.36 lakh hectors, Latur 1.04, Beed 77,000 hectors, Aurangabad 73,000 hectors, Nanded 66,000 hectors, and Hingoli 29,000 hectors, sources said. Out of the Rs 994 crore package, Osmanabad district will get 191.85 crore, followed by Jalna 185.61 crore, Parbhani 157.36 crore,Latur 125.58 crore, Aurangabad 111.28 crore, Beed 100.42 crore,Nanded 84.46 crore and Hingioli 37.58 crore, sources added. (New Kerala 2/4/14)


39. Farmers urge political parties to promise a say in policy matters (20)

CUDDALORE: As the Lok Sabha elections are round the corner, the Consortium of Indian Farmers’ Associations (CIFA) has urged the political parties to give a promise to the farming community to the effect that they would get a say in policy formulation, and planning and implementation of the farm-related programmes. To start with farmers should get representation in the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, said R. Vriddhagiri, State general secretary of the CIFA. The CIFA at its general body meeting held recently here passed a resolution in this regard. It alleged that owing to the apathy of the rulers and the political class the plight of the farmers remained unmitigated. Unlike any other sector the farming sector was devoid of any power to fix prices for their produce. The farming community was at the mercy of the vicissitudes of nature such as floods, drought and other natural disasters which used to have heavy toll on farm yield and their livelihood. Unremunerative prices and wrong import and export policies of the government too had driven the farmers to commit suicides. It was estimated that on an average about 30,000 farmers commit suicide, thousands migrate to other places in search of livelihood. The CIFA expressed the view that if such sordid affairs were to be reversed the Centre should bring out a separate budget for agriculture as in the case of the railways. It should also remove agriculture from the State List and incorporate it in the Concurrent List. It suggested using of manpower deployed under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme for increasing farm production. It felt that formation of a national water way and giving priority to linking of the rivers and putting up a mechanism for amicable resolution of disputes relating to sharing of river waters would give a fillip to agriculture. The CIFA called for revision of the Minimum Support Prices on the lines of the formula advocated by the National Commission on Farmers. The panel suggested a profit margin of 50% over and above the production cost. Expressing abhorrence about the introduction of the genetically modified seeds the CIFA called for 40 per cent grant to promote nature farming. Ethanol mixing in fuel should be raised to 25 per cent and permission must be granted to produce ethanol from sugar syrup as was being done in Brazil, besides extracting ethanol from other sources such as tapioca, maize and molasses. The CIFA sought bank loans for farm sector at 4 per cent interest rate and writing off the loans of the farmers affected by cyclones “Thane” and “Neelam” and sanctioning of fresh loans to them. It urged the government to abandon the coal bed methane production project to safeguard the livelihood of the Cauvery delta farmers. The GAIL pipeline should not cut across the farm land but instead it should run along the roadside. The CIFA also sought pension for the farming community, including women who have completed 55 years and men who crossed 60 years. (The Hindu 3/4/14)


40. CM’s statement on farmer’s suicide sparks controversy (20)

Belgaum: The suicide of farmer Vithal Arabhavi in November last year has come back to haunt the Congress government. It is now snowballing into a political controversy. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah reportedly said on Wednesday that the farmer had died due to excessive consumption of liquor and that his government was not responsible for the farmer’s death. The Opposition parties have turned it into an election issue. On Thursday, Siddavva, Arabhavi’s widow, said, “Siddaramaiah is responsible for the death of my husband. Farmers, including my husband, had been protesting for three days for better sugar cane prices. But the government did not relent. This drove my husband to take the extreme step.” The chief minister’s statement that the government was not responsible for the farmer’s suicide has hurt the family, she said at her house at Kankanwadi in Raibag taluk. The farmer’s family claims that he had consumed poison as the government did respond to the protests. Siddavva said that her husband used to consume liquor occasionally, but was not addicted to it and also did not have debts. “If he had any problem, he would have committed suicide in the village itself.” She demanded that the government provide employment to her son. Making statements against her husband does not behove the chief minister’s dignity, she said. Farmers’ leader Basayya Pujari demanded that the chief minister should apologise for his statement and resign. He cautioned that farmers would intensify their protests against Siddaramaiah. (Deccan Herald 4/4/14)



41. Nepal Will Be ‘Hindu State’ If Modi Takes Power: VHP (26)

KATHMANDU: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Ashok Singhal Tuesday said that Nepal will turn into a Hindu state if Narendra Modi becomes India’s prime minister. “He (Modi) is set to come (to) power in India,” Singhal told a gathering of Hindus in the eastern Nepali city of Biratnagar. Once Modi assumes office, it will not take much time to see Nepal as a Hindu state, he said. Nepal was the world’s only Hindu state until 2008 but was declared secular once the Maoists ousted the monarchy. Since then, a section of Hindu leaders in Nepal and India have campaigned to reinstate Nepal’s identity as a Hindu state. “The day Modi comes in power in India, I declare that Nepal will turn into a Hindu state,” said Singhal. “Under pressure from China, the US, Europe and some Muslim countries, the Hindu identity was finished here,” he said. Singhal was given a rousing welcome in Biratnagar with thousands of Hindu activists gathering to listen to him. (New Indian Express 1/4/14)


42. Constant threat of communal riots if Modi becomes PM: Mayawati (26)

Kolkata: Raking up the 2002 Gujarat riots issue, BSP chief Mayawati on Monday claimed the country would be under a constant threat of communal violence if Narendra Modi became the prime minister and spoke of forming her party government at the Centre. Addressing a meet of West Bengal party workers, the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister also criticised the Mamata Banerjee government, saying it had failed to live up to people’s expectations in the state. “The BJP has anointed Narendra Modi as their prime ministerial candidate. Who is Narendra Modi? Modi is the same man against whom there are allegations of staying mum during Godhra riots in 2002. The country will always remain under the threat of communal riots if he becomes PM,” Ms. Mayawati said. Hinting at her prime ministerial ambition, she said that a BSP government at the Centre would remove corruption and bring the country back to the growth path. Without taking any name, the BSP chief also took a potshot at the Trinamool Congress regime in West Bengal for not doing much for the development of the state. “There was communist rule in the state for a long time and it failed to remove corruption and unemployment. But the new regime too has failed to live up to the people’s expectation of removal of poverty and ushering in of development for the state,” she said. She said that Mr. Modi in his various speeches had made false promises that he would bring the country to the growth path again. “My question is what were they doing during the NDA tenure from 1998-2004?” Ms. Mayawati also took a swipe at the UPA regime for “pro-capitalist” economic policies and rampant corruption. “The country is reeling under crises because of the policies of the Congress, which have helped a handful of rich people and increased corruption. The Congress is trying to project their ‘prince’ as their PM candidate, but this will not help,” she said, in an apparent reference to Rahul Gandhi. She pointed out that the Congress can’t run away from the responsibility as it has been ruling the nation for the most part after Independence and promised to take up policies which would ensure economic growth and increase employment. (The Hindu 1/4/14)


43. General elections 2014: 2,000 RSS men to run BJP after polls (26)

NEW DELHI: The RSS has plans to loan some 2,000 of its committed cadre to BJP to ensure that the Sangh ideology does not get diluted if the party forms the next government. The move is aimed at addressing the concern of power corrupting and weakening the party’s ideological core, RSS sources said. Senior party leaders usually take over the reins of the government when a party comes to power, creating an organisational vacuum. The RSS strategy is to move in hardcore cadres into the party at various levels who will strengthen the party without getting into electoral politics. The effort is seen as a move to prevent a possible tilt of balance of organisational power in favour of the heavy weights in the government. Sources in the RSS say that it is a long-term plan, envisaging induction of these members in the party over the next two to three years. They are expected to work their way up and to wrest control of the party in about five years, the sources said. The plan has already been put in place and the inflow of RSS functionaries in the party has started. In Uttar Pradesh, for instance, three members of the RSS have been posted in sensitive positions in the past two weeks alone – Ratnakar Pandey in Lucknow, Chandra Shekhar Pandey in Varanasi and Bhawani Singh in Rae Bareilly.BJP president Rajnath Singh didn’t respond to an email seeking comment. RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya told ET that the movement of Sangh cadres into the BJP “is a natural process.” He said that currently all of them were focused on 2014 general elections in national interest. “The rest of the things will be taken up after the elections. Induction of our workers may be need based.” Incidentally, this is not the first time the RSS has undertaken such an exercise. It last happened in a systematic manner in 1988-89 when Madhukar Dattatreya ‘Balasaheb’ Deoras was the RSS chief. He had sent Narendra Modi along with KN Govindacharya, Seshadri Chari and L Ganeshan among others to strengthen the BJP. Other RSS members followed. “The party was at a low and there was an urgent need to breathe life into it. That was the time we all were sent to BJP,” said Chari. “RSS believes that not everybody in the party should be in the government. The party can’t be neglected at any time. The RSS members will ensure it doesn’t happen and the BJP does not become weak organisationally,” Chari told ET. (The Economic Times 3/4/14)


44. Babri demolition planned; Advani, P V Narasimha Rao knew of plot: Cobrapost sting (26)

NEW DELHI: An elaborate sting operation, conducted on 23 key people of the Ram Janambhoomi movement, claims that the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, was elaborately planned by the various wings of the Sangh parivar and executed with precision by trained volunteers. It wasn’t, as it is claimed, a case of mob frenzy going out of control, leading to the fall of the disputed 16th century structure. The investigation, carried out by Cobrapost, claims that by piecing together the versions given by the top Ram Janambhhomi players, among them Sakshi Maharaj, Acharya Dharmendra, Uma Bharti, Mahant Vedanti and Vinay Katiyar, it is apparent that top BJP leaders like L K Advani and the then UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, as well the former Congress PM, P V Narasimha Rao, were aware of the planned demolition of Babri Masjid. TOI has no independent confirmation of these claims, or whether the purported confessions are accurate or not. Posing as a would-be-author researching his book on the Ayodhya movement, Cobrapost associate editor K Ashish travelled to Ayodhya, Faizabad, Tanda, Lucknow, Gorakhpur, Mathura, Moradabad in UP, Jaipur, Aurangabad, Mumbai and Gwalior interviewing 23 of those who participated in the operation. He clandestinely recorded conversations with them. If what they claim is true, the Ram Janambhoomi leaders and activists toiled secretly for months on a plan codenamed ‘Operation Janmabhoomi’ and executed it with military precision. Volunteers were trained, logistics painstakingly put in place and the assault on the disputed shrine launched using large surging crowds with volunteers skilled in demolishing structures embedded in it. Not only do those interviewed spell out details of the planning, they also allegedly reveal how enthusiastic young participants were deliberately used as cannon fodder by provoking a police firing on kar sevaks in 1990 because of the belief of some leaders that the movement would not gather steam unless ‘some Hindus die’. Many of those interviewed by the make-believe author are accused in CBI cases pertaining to the demolition. Yet, they seemed to have no qualms in “confessing” (or boasting) about their role in the episode that left a deep communal schism in India… (Times of India 4/4/14)


Posted by admin at 1 April 2014

Category: Uncategorized


1. Executions rising the world over: Amnesty International (1)

NEW DELHI: According to Amnesty International, executions across the globe have risen to 778 in 2013, up from 682 the year before. DH graphic A “new secretive trend” in some countries, including India, where some prisoners on death row are being put to death without their families and lawyers knowing has seen the global rate of executions go up by 14 per cent, according to a new report. According to Amnesty International, executions across the globe have risen to 778 in 2013, up from 682 the year before. The international human rights watchdog also said at least 23,392 people were on death row at the end of 2013 while 1,925 death sentences were recorded in 57 countries in 2013, an increase from the 2012 figure of 1,722 death sentences in 58 countries. Indian courts sentenced 72 people to death last year. Amnesty said the year 2013 was marked by “some challenging setbacks” on the journey to abolition of the death penalty as four countries – Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Vietnam – resumed executions and there was a significant rise in the number of people executed, driven primarily by increases in Iraq and Iran. The lone execution in India was that of Parliament attack case convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged in secret in Tihar jail in Delhi. The report noted that there were “serious concerns about the fairness” of the execution, including the fact that Afzal did not receive legal representation of his choice or a lawyer with adequate experience at the trial stage. “His family was not informed in time of his imminent execution and his body was not returned to the family for last rites and burial, in violation of international standards. Afzal Guru was also denied the opportunity to seek a judicial review of the decision to reject his mercy petition,” the report said. Talking to a news channel, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde admitted that the controversial hanging could have been handled better. He claimed that he had given instructions but it didn’t work. “In such cases I am of the view that the family must be informed properly as per jail rules,” Shinde told the channel. The number of executions in Iran was at least 369 and Iraq 169. “While the number of executions in China is kept secret, Amnesty International believes thousands are put to death every year,” said the report. Saudi Arabia (79), the US (39) and Somalia (34) follow Iran and Iraq in executions. “The virtual killing sprees we saw in countries like Iran and Iraq were shameful. But those states who cling to the death penalty are on the wrong side of history and are, in fact, growing more and more isolated,” said Salil Shetty,  secretary general of Amnesty International. (Deccan Herald 26/3/14)


2. India abstains from anti-Lanka resolution at UN (1)

NEW DELHI: In a brave decision marking reclamation of foreign policy from narrow political interests, India abstained from voting on a US-sponsored resolution on human rights situation in Sri Lanka. While India had supported it in 2012 and 2013, the latest resolution was much tougher, calling for an independent investigation into alleged human rights violations in the island nation. The resolution passed with 23 votes in favour, 12 against and 12 abstentions. India’s abstention comes after MEA raised the red flag on the resolution, saying it would be create precedents that would be difficult to withstand. Colombo, too, had mounted a strong diplomatic offensive with the Indian leadership, including long meetings with the national security adviser Shivshankar Menon. Pakistan did its best to help Sri Lanka by proposing a separate vote on the operative paragraph 10 (deemed most offensive) hoping to remove it totally from the resolution, but it failed 16 votes to 25. BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Thursday congratulated Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for India’s abstention. “I congratulate Manmohan Singh for ordering the Indian delegation in UNHCR not to support the dangerous US resolution seeking international probe into the so-called human rights violations during 2009 anti-LTTE war by Sri lanka,” Swamy said in a statement. In 2013, Menon and MEA failed to prevail upon a determined Congress offensive, led by finance minister P Chidambaram, to punish Sri Lanka. Sources said this had a lot to do with the ruling UPA government’s sensitivity to Tamil parties. This time, Chidambaram is not fighting the polls and the government has been free to take a decision based on India’s foreign policy interests. If India had voted against Sri Lanka, the government could have opened itself to the charge that it was influencing the Tamil vote. Besides, it would have dealt a body blow to relations with a neighbour that is arguably India’s closest economic and security ally in South Asia. The abstention gives India greater flexibility with Sri Lanka, greater ability to push for changes that Mahinda Rajapakse needs to undertake. Rajapakse has taken several steps in the last one year like holding provincial council elections in the north which was seen as the result of intensive Indian diplomacy. “Things will go in the right direction now,” said diplomatic sources. If India had failed to stand with Sri Lanka at this time, it would not have been able to stop the Chinese influence from spreading in the country. Moreover, the government has concluded that many countries pushing the resolution are being pressured by their Tamil-Lankan diaspora. India is wary of allowing its policies to be dictated by such interests, though in the past couple of years the UPA government has caved in even at the cost of foreign policy. This year marks a correction in what most foreign policy analysts had seen a downward trajectory. Explaining why it abstained from the vote, MEA statement said, “It has been India’s firm belief that adopting an intrusive approach that undermines national sovereignty and institutions is counterproductive…. any external investigative mechanism with an open-ended mandate to monitor national processes for protection of human rights in a country, is not reflective of the constructive approach of dialogue and cooperation envisaged by UN General Assembly resolution 60/251 that created the HRC in 2006 as well as the UNGA resolution 65/281 that reviewed the HRC in 2011.” But the passage of the resolution was welcomed by human rights groups. Meenakshi Ganguly of Human Rights Watch said, “”This is a welcome decision, and one that will encourage victims and activists in Sri Lanka who have strived so courageously for accountability and justice.” The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) as well as activist filmmaker Callum McCrae have both welcomed it. (Times of India 28/3/14)



3. RTI activists begin three-day hunger strike today (1)

AHMEDABAD: RTI activists from across the state will stage a three-day hunger strike against the RTI commissioner at Sector 6 in Gandhinagar from Monday. The activists alleged that they were not given information by the commissioner and several of their appeals are pending till date. Around 1,000 RTI activists are likely to gather at Satyagrah Chhavni in Gandhinagar. Bharatsinh Zala, an activist, said, “Today, there are around 50,000 RTI appeals pending with the information commission and in most of the cases, neither information has been given nor fine levied on the public information officers concerned for the delay. To protest this, we will go on hunger strike, which will start from 10 am on Monday and continue till 6 pm on March 26.” Zala alleged that apart from the 50,000 appeals that are pending with the panel, around one lakh RTI applications are still awaiting answers in various departments of the state government. He said that the applicants who have been waiting for their reply, will come together to oppose this. (Times of India 24/3/14)


4. RTI activist kills self, names 52 (1)

Pune: Right to information (RTI) activist Vilas Baravkar committed suicide at his Chakan residence by hanging himself in the Pune district on Tuesday early morning. The Chakan police has recovered a suicide note from the spot, in which he has allegedly mentioned names of approximately 52 people, including some politicians and senior police officials. This includes the name of one of the top politicians in the state and an IPS officer currently posted in Mumbai. However, the police informed that they had registered an accidental death report and will take appropriate action only after investigation is complete.

Baravkar was working as an RTI activist who had exposed certain illegal constructions by co-operative societies in the Chakan area. The incident came to light at around 7.30 am on Tuesday, when Baravkar’s family members got suspicious when he did not open his room’s door in the morning and did not respond despite repeated knocking, according to the police. When they broke open the door, they discovered his body. They then informed the Chakan police about the incident. “We rushed to the spot after being informed by the family members and recovered his body and the suicide note from the spot. We sent his body to Chakan Rural Hospital for further medical process,” Kishor Patil, assistant police inspector of Chakan police station said “As of now we have registered a case of accidental death. We have recovered a suicide note, but we are investigating the facts. We will take action after investigation is complete,” the API added. The family members of the deceased demanded action against the people named in the suicide note. Baravkar expressed his desire to donate his body in the suicide note. (Asian Age 26/3/14)


5. Ropar RTI activist booked after mining expose on Akalis (1)

CHANDIGARH: Ropar-based advocate and RTI activist, who had recently exposed three Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders for allegedly conducting illegal mining of sand and gravel in Punjab, was charged with attempt to murder on Thursday. The FIR accused him of engineering assault on a tax collection agent. The Ropar Police booked well-known crusader Dinesh Chadha, also a district lawyer for attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy following a complaint made by one Amarjit Singh on Wednesday. In his FIR, Amarjit alleged that a group of men, under instructions from Chadha, battered him at night when he demanded the mandatory royalty tax from them for carrying mined sand at Nurpur Bedi area of Ropar. Chadha, however, hit back at the police for fabricating the charges against him as none of the attackers knew him personally. The activist also said that neither the area Nurpur Bedi fell under the tax zone nor the complainant was authorized to collect tax in that area in the absence of a government employee at night. The Ropar Police later relented and said Chadha would not be arrested. “We have set up an inquiry. If charges are proved untrue, we will instead file an FIR against the complainant for misleading us,” said Gurpreet Singh Toor, SSP Ropar. “I am shocked that the police did not act on my complaints on March 4 when we exposed the illegitimate tax being collected at Nurpur Bedi and booked me instead. Even the timing of the FIR, which is 12:05 am, raises a stink. Which agent collects tax at night when the hours prescribed are between 9 am and 6 pm,” said Chadha. There are only five certified quarries in Ropar – Surewal, Bhalan, Kiratpur Sahib, Palasi and Dayapur. The FIR triggered a series of reactions from opposition Congress, which charged Akali Dal of trying to scuttle the whistleblower’s expose on its leaders. Chadha, who has been spearheading campaigns against mining mafia in Ropar, had only two weeks ago launched a series of protests with the support of more than 1,000 local villagers against illegal collection of tax by mining site owners. While the government rate is fixed at Rs 30 per tonne, Chadha has alleged that agents on behest of SAD leaders had been collecting arbitrary tax at Rs 5 per square foot for gravel and Rs 12 per square foot for sand. The excavation at Ropar quarries had been banned for three years by Punjab and Haryana high court in 2010 until it was revoked last July. (Times of India 28/3/14)



6. ‘Journalists Should Be Active, Not Activists’ (1)

New Delhi: A panel of eminent mediapersons today discussed issues related to activism and responsibility in journalism with many expressing the view that the role of a journalist is to bring facts to light rather than resort to activism. The media’s job is not activism but to be active, said Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta who added journalism is a profession of patience, of scrutiny to arrive at the truth, not activism. He said the training of a journalist was to avoid activism and engage in scrutiny. “Somebody brings you a fact, it looks fantastic, you have to check,” he said while speaking at the discussion which was a part of the CII National Conference here. Editor-in-Chief of the India Today Group Aroon Purie said the mainstream media had been by and large responsible. He said mediapersons should not have agendas. “As far as activism is concerned, I have a very simple view. There is good journalism and bad journalism, there is no such thing as activism or non-activism. I think if a consequence happens because of good journalism, it is a good consequence, it is a byproduct,” he said. Poorie said he did not think that journalists should think of the consequences of their stories except in very rare cases as it could lead to stories getting corrupted. “I think the biggest poison in journalism is journalists, editors, proprietors having agendas,” he said. “I think activism should be nowhere near it, if it happens as a byproduct, I am okay with it,” Poorie said. Senior TV journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief of the IBN News Network, said there is a difference between ‘activist’ journalism and what he termed as ‘supari’ journalism. He said ‘supari journalism’ is the unnacceptable tendency to target a particular entity and through this tendency agendas come in. Sardesai said the presence of a large number of channels competing for the same viewership had affected the standards in TV journalism. Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar said an activist media can be responsible only when it chooses to be responsible and is capable of being responsible. He also said while there had been a debate abroad about the Leveson report, the Indian media had not written much about it. Star India CEO Uday Shankar, who moderated the discussion, said he felt there was way too much reverence in Indian media and what was need is a lot more irreverence. (Outlook 27/3/14)


7. Change in certification of political parties’ ads (1)

Bhopal: The Election Commission has effected changes in the process of certification of political parties’ advertisements on electronic media. According to it, now political parties and candidates can submit transcript of advertisement with application. Its electronic form can be presented at the time of final certification. Earlier, copy of electronic advertisement and transcript had to be submitted 3 days before telecast. The commission has constituted State and district level media certification and monitoring committees to certify political advertisements to be aired on television channels, cable networks, FM radio, cinema halls and public places. Meanwhile, the C-Dac has set up a 24X7 social media monitoring cell in the office of the Chief Electoral Officer, Bhopal. The cell is being run by Applied AI Group of Pune. So far, the cell has scanned 35 Hindi and 30 English web portals, 5 web pages of political leaders and parties and social media (twitter) pages of 27 political parties and other public representatives. The cell has scanned 25,661 web pages so far. The social media monitoring cell has evolved a strategy that necessary action can be taken after registering a case against concerning person in case of violation of model code of conduct. The cell converts high-level information, classification, analysis and information based on necessary electoral processes into special input. During scanning of web portals, the cell has found 6 news regarding model code of conduct and 51 general news in English and 26 news regarding model code and 25 general news in Hindi. Number of tweets made by political parties is 75.  (Pioneer 28/3/14)



8. Four dalit girls kidnapped, one gang-raped (2)

HISAR: Tension prevailed in village Bhagana near here when four dalit girls, including two sisters, were kidnapped by five youths and one of them was allegedly gang-raped. These girls were later found at Bathinda railway station on Tuesday and were taken back to Hisar by police, police said on Wednesday. One of the victims, an 18-year-old girl, in a complaint alleged that five youths Sumit and Lalit, both brothers and Sandeep – all residents of Bhagana village – and two unknown youth kidnapped her and her three friends aged between 15 to 18 years on March 23 and gang-raped her after giving some drugs, they added. (Time of India 26/3/14)


9. Railway Cop ‘Kidnaps’ Dalit Youth (2)

CHENNAI: In a curious case of police stepping into the shoes of criminals, a Dalit youth was allegedly abducted by Special Sub-Inspector, who demanded a ransom of 300 sovereigns gold. According to a Habeas Corpus Petition filed by 51-year-old Ramalakshmi on March 13, her son Vijayan, an unemployed graduate, was picked up by SSI R Subramanian, Special Team, Railways, Tiruchy on the pretext of an enquiry while he was travelling to Chennai by train. According to the petition, Vijayan was forcibly made to get down from Podhigai Express at Tiruchy on March 9 and was kept in illegal detention at Railway Police Station. On March 14, a day after the HCP was filed, Vijayan’s arrest was recorded, he was remanded in judicial custody and subsequently lodged in Palayamkottai Central prison. Her son was beaten up and tied to the furniture and was not provided proper food, Ramalakshmi contended. A day before the youth was taken into illegal custody, Subramanian and another policeman had visited Vijayan and his father Palanisamy, a retired BSNL employee, at their house in Sivakasi, initially introducing themselves as marriage brokers. In the course of the conversation, Subramanian revealed that he was a policeman and suspected the youth’s involvement in a laptop theft case. He also allegedly abused the father and son in the name of caste and searched the house, the petition said. The policemen even forced the duo to drop them at nearest railway station and rode pillion on their two-wheelers before collecting `200 as “transport charges”, the complaint said. After detaining Vijayan the next day, Subramanian contacted family members and told them that the youth was involved in a series thefts of laptops and jewelry weighing around 300 sovereigns. The SSI demanded the family cough up 300 sovereigns of gold so that the issue could be “settled” without a case being registered. In course of the negotiations, the SSI allowed a family member to speak to Vijayan. Four conversations with the SSI had been secretly recorded by the relative and was submitted before the High Court to substantiate that the youth was kidnapped for ransom. The youth told his mother Ramalakshmi when she met him at the central prison that Subramanian was the only officer who handled his case. “The cop forced me to give a written confession statement after thrashing me since the family was not relenting to his demands… I was abused by my caste name. My legs were tied during the nights,” Vijayan was quoted as saying in the petition. Vijayan was produced before the Bench comprising of Justice V Dhanapalan and Justice G Chockalingam in connection with the HCP on March 21, when he categorically told the court that he was kept in unlawful custody since March 9. After hearing the case, the court issued a notice to the policeman and asked to file a counter. In reply to the notice, the SSI admitted of having arrested Vijayan but denied keeping him in illegal custody. He claimed that the youth was summoned everyday for interrogation in the said period of illegal detention and he had voluntarily confessed to various crimes that fell in various jurisdiction of the Railway Police. Express has a copy of the voice recordings submitted in the court, which proves the SSI indeed had Vijayan in his custody and bargained for ransom (New Indian Express 28/3/14)


10. Website to track atrocities on dalits launched (2)

CHENNAI: A new website to track atrocities on dalits has been launched. Any aggrieved person can send an SMS to the cellphone number 9898915455 or log in to the website to seek help for incidents of caste atrocities across the country. The person has to send his name and the type of offence to the number. The ‘atrocity tracking and monitoring’ (ATM) website will also help send alert messages to the collector and other officials to take actions within a stipulated time under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. The interactive website, launched by the National Coalition for Strengthening SC/ST Act 1989 and Social Awareness Society for Youths (SASY), attains prominence after the SC/ ST Act amendment ordinance 2014 was signed by the President on March 4. “Establishment of exclusive courts and final judgments in two months from the date of filing the chargesheet are included in the ordinance,” said I Pandiyan, director of SASY. “Cases of attack on dalits are on the rise. We hope the state government will enforce this ordinance by issuing an order to the concerned department,” he said.  (Times of India 28/3/14)



11. Health Organisations Call for Alcohol Ban (3)

CHENNAI: The immediate ban of alcohol in Tamil Nadu was the top demand by various health organisations in the Tamil Nadu People’s Health Manifesto released by Makkal Nalvaazhvu Iyakkam (People Health Movement). The manifesto also reiterated that alcoholism needed to be considered as a Public Health Emergency. Members of the health organisations say that alcoholism, which makes up 25 per cent of the State Government’s income in Tamil Nadu, has disrupted many families and has substantially increased the number of school and college dropouts. It has also affected the mental health of most families, according to a survey conducted by them across 446 panchayats in 10 districts in Tamil Nadu. The manifesto also talks about abolishing privatisation in the health sector, which deterred the quality of healthcare. “This includes both active and passive privatization. In one form, the government money is re-routed to private hospitals in the name of insurance schemes that do not effectively benefit the lower income group. This is because the lower income groups end up spending more money in availing the benefit and hence they do not prefer it. The other form is privatization of facilities, which is on an upswing in Tamil Nadu. About 80 per cent of facilities in the State, like ambulances, X Rays and health data management among others are private,” said Shanmugavelayutham, managing trustee of Foundation for the Rights of Young Child. “This calls for an immediate regulation of the private health sector,” he added. Those present also expressed their dissatisfaction at the violation of reservation policies, a trend they said was on an upsurge in the State. Various other issues like unavailability of doctors in Public Health Centres (PHCs), inefficient Out Patient Departments (OPD) in PHCs, demand for proper functioning of sub-centres in rural areas and corruption at government hospitals were also discussed. “Any policy is not complete without community participation but in Tamil Nadu, there is no policy that supports it. In order to efficiently utilise funds, it is necessary that community participation is initiated and monitored,” said Ameer Khan, Member of National Coordination Committee, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA). The members also urged the State Government to take notice of healthcare issues to ensure quality. (New Indian Express 27/3/14)


12. Disease dwells with humans in Lucknow slums (3)

LUCKNOW: Oblivious to the infections around her, Guddi runs like a free bird after a goat kid in the slum near Mankameshwar Temple. Her smile is perfect, but teeth expose the dental decay. A visit to Guddi’s home shows how disease and related problems run in the family of six. A study conducted by the faculty of the community medicine and public heath department of King George’s Medical University and community medicine department of Lucknow’s Era Medical College shows that children are the worst victims of the deprived life in slums. The study points out that that three out of five slum kids are diseased while 57% of them suffer from behavioural problems like aggression. This means risk of complex ailments looms large over these children. About 12.2% children had only one illness whereas in 34.1% children the incidence of illness was higher. Of all the diseases, infections of tonsils and lymph nodes were most common. Every fourth kid in the sample had such problems. All these children were at the risk of developing rheumatic fever caused by a bacterial infection that breeds in unhygienic and impoverished environs. “Rheumatic fever often translates into rheumatic heart disease which forms a major portion of cardiac disease burden in India,” informed Nirmal Gupta, head of cardio thoracic and vascular diseases department, Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences. The diseases and problems eventually affect mental growth of the children. They grow up with below average health and qualify only for physical labour. “Poor nutrition and diseases adversely affect brain development,” explained Gupta. Aggression, the behavioral problem which was found in 12.2% of children, is another example. “Unresolved aggression may lead to poor intellectual development of the child because a part of the brain may be involved due to poor nutrition. It may also lead to social, occupational and relationship maladjustment which tends to manifest into a revengeful attitude. In extreme cases, the anger may take a criminal bend,” explained Harjeet Singh, city based child psychiatrist. Social activists say one reason for disease is that ‘kids are the victims of circumstances’. “Born to unhealthy and unprepared parents with poor or low education is their destiny. The factors contribute to form a vicious circle of poor health and development and breaking this trap is almost impossible,” said Tariq Khan, who works with slum dwellers of old city. They bank on the National Urban Health Mission for change. The second reason is of course the kind of life they lead. “Everyone knows how the slums lag,” said principal researcher, Dr Aneesh Khanna. “Problem may be solved by addressing sanitation and drinking water needs.” He added that community’s participation in meeting the challenges of urbanisation was also needed. “We cannot be ignorant to what’s happening in the nearby slum. Their quality of life has an impact on our environment too. How can we aspire for a disease-free life if the slum dwellers continue to be a reservoir of disease,” questioned Dr Khanna. (Times of India 28/3/14)



13. HC Orders Inquiry into Rs 6000 Crore Tribal Schemes (6)

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court today ordered an inquiry by a retired High Court Judge M G Gaikwad into the alleged financial irregularities in tribal welfare schemes in Maharashtra during the period 2004-05 to 2008-09. The order was passed on a PIL filed by a tribal, Bahiram Motiram, from Nashik district demanding probe into the alleged Rs 6,000 crore scam with regard to tribal schemes. A bench headed by Justice V M Kanade asked the State Government to come out with a G R on April 1, appointing Gaikwad as the Chairman of the five-member committee to probe the allegations. The Court also ordered that the enquiry shall commence immediately after the G.R is notified. On a plea made by petitioner’s lawyers, Rajendra Raghuvanshi and Rutuja Ambekar, the bench further directed that Justice (Retd) Gaikwad heading the inquiry would recommend action to be taken against the concerned persons responsible for the scam. All the recommendations would be submitted to the High Court, the judges ruled and kept the PIL pending until then. The Court noted that the Chairman of the committee would decide on the procedure for holding the inquiry. The Court order is considered in legal circles as a heavy blow to Vijaykumar Gavit, the then Minister for Tribal Welfare. The Government today submitted a draft of G.R which it proposed to notify to appoint the inquiry committee. The bench went through the proposed G.R and approved it. The other members of the inquiry committee are Bipin Shrimali, Managing Director, Maharashtra State Electricity Commission Co Ltd, Dhananjay Kamlakar, Special Inspector General of Police, Nashik, Sunil Bhosale, Joint Director (Finance), Maharashtra State Aids Control Society, and Sanjeev Kumar, Tribal Development Commissioner. (New Indian Express 27/3/14)


14. Birbhum gang-rape: SC raps Bengal govt, directs Rs 5 lakh compensation to victim (6)

Kolkata: The Supreme Court on Friday rapped the West Bengal government saying that it failed to protect the fundamental right of the 20-year-old Birbhum gang-rape survivor. In addition to already sanctioned Rs 50,000, the SC today directed the Bengal government to give Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the tribal girl who was gang-raped by 13 men on the orders of a kangaroo court after she expressed her inability to pay a fine for being in love with a man from a different community. The apex court said that all states are duty-bound to protect the right of women, adding that women have the freedom of choice in marriage. The 13 people, including the ‘morol’ (community head) Balai Murdy accused of the gang-rape are in police custody. (Times of India 28/3/14)



15. Christians Seek Kejriwal to Bear the Cross in Delhi (7)

NEW DELHI: Their population may be just one per cent in Delhi, but the Christian community wants their voice to be heard loud and clear this Lok Sabha elections. Christians who were traditionally supporters of the Congress party are now looking at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as an alternative in Delhi. Members of the community have approached AAP for a meeting with senior party leaders and national convener Arvind Kejriwal to discuss issues and understand the party’s view on the minority community. Pastor M M Singh of the New Cavalry Church in South Extension met party volunteers at Kejriwal’s Tilak Lane residence last Tuesday. Pastor Singh believes the former Delhi chief minister is a “good human being” and “wants to change the society” by removing “corruption” and “fighting against corrupt people”. “I have spoken to other pastors in Delhi and all of us want to hold prayers for Kejriwal so that he has power of God to fight and succeed in the polls,” he said. Does it mean that Protestants in Delhi would vote for AAP? Pastor Singh says they are open to supporting Kejriwal in all his endeavours. People from the community say they would vote for a party that is secular, non-corrupt and interested in the welfare of Christians. Most believe they’ve been taken for a ride by the ruling Congress-led UPA government as their long pending demand for providing Scheduled Caste status to Dalit Christians has not been met. And they see the BJP as a non-secular party. Father Dominic Emmanuel, the spokesperson of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, says the community is now more conscious about politics and ready to explore other alternatives like newer regional parties. “In churches we never tell followers to vote for a specific community or candidate but what kind of candidate and party they should vote for, including that they must exercise their right to vote. We tell them they should vote for someone who is secular, not corrupt, recognises rights of all communities, believes in freedom of religion, is open to social change and does not impose forced conversion,” said Father Emmanuel, hinting that AAP could be such an option. AAP leaders are individually reaching out to all communities to garner support ahead of polls. The party has given Lok Sabha tickets to a sizeable number of Muslims but not many Christians have applied for the same. “We are a secular party and many religious communities have approached us and pledged to support AAP in the polls for they want change and we are giving them an alternative,” said an AAP leader. (Indian Express 23/3/14)


16. Minorities should develop their own potentialities’ (7)

CHENNAI:  The Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammed Abdul Ali urged the Muslim community, in particular, to develop their own potentialities, instead depending on the Government’s help at all times. He was speaking at the inaugural function of Indian Minorities Welfare Trust, on the topic ‘Challenges Ahead of Minorities and Sources of Scholarships.’ “While poverty prevails among people of all communities, it prevails to a greater extent among the mass of Muslims than among the mass of Hindus, according to the data compiled by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO),” said the Prince, who was also the chief guest of the occasion. He also said that the defense of minorities guaranteed under our Constitution was a matter, not of ‘appeasement’ (as the votaries of pseudo-nationalism allege) but of basic fair play. No society could call itself democratic and modern unless it defended and protected its minorities — religious, linguistic or any other, he added. When it came to education, Indian Muslims had adequate opportunities to advance, he said, and also pointed out that India’s religious minorities, Muslims in particular, were under-represented in their professions, government as well as private sector employment and educational institutions, according to official statistics. He also called upon the minority communities to ensure that the Minorities Welfare Fund from the government reached them periodically. Justice Akbar Ali, Judge, Madras High Court, Mohammed Ashraf, secretary and correspondent, New College, Shafee Ahmed, president, Indian Minorities Welfare Trust and I S Khan witnessed the event. (New Indian Express 24/3/14)


17. AAP rules out reservation for Muslims, special inquiry on Batla House case (7)

New Delhi: Members of Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) manifesto drafting committee on Monday made it clear that the party was not in favour of reservation for Muslims, as it is something that has fallen afoul of courts. The view was aired despite the party’s vision document acknowledging the role of reservation in development of backward classes and weaker sections of society, including minorities. “The mechanism for development of backward communities is work in progress. There are some options which are not according to the tenets of the Constitution. When a (AAP) government is formed, it is for the government to explore the avenues of development,” Irfanullah Khan said. Khan is a member of AAP’s political affairs committee as well as that of one of the draft committees formed by the party to generate inputs for its manifesto. Laying out the “Roadmap For Indian Muslims”, so that the community is looked at beyond the realm of vote bank politics, Khan said the party had accepted that Muslim issues should be addressed by Muslims themselves. “AAP maintains that the Muslim community is the most backward and our strategy is clear, we will devise a mechanism to drive them out of this backwardness. The challenge is to replace their despair with opportunity,” he said. The roadmap is the outcome of a Muslim convention held by the AAP on March 18. It states that Muslim politics has traditionally been dominated by typical religious leaders or by leadership imposed by the political parties. “For this, the parties trusted selected Muslim leaders and rewarded them with crucial political administrative posts. But this leadership never bothered to empower the community,” the roadmap states. AAP leader Fakhruddin Mohammad said, “Reservation is a lollipop that has been handed to the community by successive governments but it has been turned down by the courts. There is a need to evolve new mechanisms.” However, on a question about whether reservation for Muslims is unconstitutional, all draft committee members replied in the negative. The party has formed 31 committees to generate inputs for its manifesto. Apart from Khan who had lost the Assembly elections from Okhla, journalist Adil Mohammed too is a member of the committee that deals with Muslim issues. Khan said a reading of Article 341 of the Constitution shows that “the Constitution does not categorically say that religion-based benefits cannot be given. Muslims are enjoying reservation in many states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala though the Andhra Pradesh High Court had asked for a report on backwardness from the government.” Khan also ruled out any special inquiry into the Batla House encounter. This had been one of the promises the party had made ahead of the Assembly elections.(Indian Express 25/3/14)


18. Minority schools federation sends notice to education department over RTE (7)

BANGALORE: The Karnataka State Minorities Educational Institutions Managements Federation has sent a notice to the commissioner for public instruction, Karnataka seeking clarifications with regards to press note issued by him. The Federation has claimed that as per the Supreme court verdict the RTE act is not applicable to unaided minority schools and the high court of Karnataka has also issued a direction on February 7,2014 asking the authorities not to take any coercive action against the member institutions of the Federation in relation to implementation of RTE. The Federation has said that it will be constrained to to intiate contempt proceedings against the commissioner for public instruction, the DDPIs and BEOs if they continue to harass the member institutions over implementation of RTE. The Federation also wants the commissioner to issue a clarificatory press note over the issue.  (Times of India 27/3/14)


19. Pakistani Christian gets death in blasphemy case (7)

LAHORE: A court convicted a Pakistani Christian man and sentenced him to death Thursday in a blasphemy case that sparked a riot last year in the eastern city of Lahore, according to his lawyer. Naeem Shakir, the lawyer for Sawan Masih, said a judge announced the verdict during a hearing at the jail where the trial has been held out of fears that Masih might be attacked on his way to court. Shakir said he would appeal. Although Pakistan has never executed anybody under the law, crowds angered over blasphemy accusations have been known to take the law into their own hands and kill those they suspect of violating it. Once an accusation is made it is extremely difficult to reverse, in part because law enforcement personnel do not want to appear to be going easy on suspects. Such vigilantism has created a climate of fear, forcing frightened judges into holding court sessions inside jails and keeping witnesses from coming to the defense of those on trial. Many human rights activists say the blasphemy law, which allows for punishment of life in prison or death, is misused as a way to target people for personal gain or revenge. The incident that led to Thursday’s conviction began March 7 last year when a young Muslim man accused Masih of maligning the Prophet Muhammad. Police arrested Masih, but the next day a mob ransacked the neighborhood where he and other Christians live, setting fire to homes and destroying household possessions. Fearing for their safety, hundreds of Christian families fled the area overnight ahead of the riots. Many in the neighborhood have since moved back, and their homes have been rebuilt. The police arrested 83 suspects following the rampage, including the man who brought the complaint against Masih, said a Lahore police official, Rana Taseer Riaz. But so far none of the suspects have been convicted and all were released on bail, he said. Pakistan’s blasphemy law has existed since even before the country’s 1947 founding. During the 1980s, the U.S.-backed military dictator, Gen. Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, amended it to add the death penalty and single out Islam as the religion that may not be insulted, among other changes. (Times of India 27/3/14)


20. UP govt’s initial negligence led to riots flaring up: SC (7)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday indicted the Akhilesh Yadav government and said the state’s lethargy in reacting to the volatile ground situation led to full-pitched communal rioting in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts in which 59 persons were killed last September. “After the mahapanchayat on September 7, 2013, certain incidents such as eve-teasing of other community girls followed by murders took place. Thousands of people gathered at a particular place in order to take revenge or retaliate, it is expected of the state intelligence agencies to apprise the state government and district administration in particular, to prevent such communal violence,” the court said in its 98-page ruling. A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justices Ranjana P Desai and Ranjan Gogoi said neither the Centre nor the UP government placed any authoritative information before the apex court whether there was gross intelligence failure or inaction on the part of district administration with regard to the ground situation. Though it turned down the petitioners’ plea for a special investigation team or CBI probe, the court sought accountability for the incidents with the CJI saying, “It is made clear that the officers responsible for maintaining law and order, if found negligent, should be brought under the ambit of law irrespective of their status.” Justice Sathasivam, who authored the judgment for the bench, said, “Had the central and state intelligence agencies smelt these problems in advance and alerted the district administration, the unfortunate incidents could have been prevented. Thus, we prima facie hold the state government responsible for being negligent at the initial stage in not anticipating the communal violence and for taking necessary steps for its prevention.” However, the court rejected the PIL petitioners’ plea to hand over investigation into riot cases either to a special investigation team or the CBI taking into account steps taken by the state in providing relief and rehabilitation to riot victims, implementing compensation schemes for those preferring relocation and the security measures for rape survivors. But the court did express serious concern over police reporting recovery of AK-47 assault rifles and 9 mm cartridges in Kirthal village in Baghpat district and ordered, “The police have to identify the persons concerned and proceed against them under provisions of Indian Penal Code and Arms Act.” The state had set up a Special Investigation Cell (SIC) to investigate 566 riot-related cases. The bench also termed as “unacceptable and untenable” the police claim that whenever it attempted to arrest riot case accused, the women folk in the villages formed human chains and prevented wanted persons from being taken into custody. It said if the accused persons, irrespective of their party affiliation, were not arrested expeditiously, it would take action against police officers concerned. On riot-related rape survivors, the court ordered the state to pay an additional compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of them towards rehabilitation. Taking a general view of the prevailing circumstances in the country, the bench said, “The government will have to formulate and implement policies in order to uplift the socio-economic conditions of women, sensitization of police and other concerned parties towards the need for gender equality and it must be done with focus in areas where statistically there is high percentage of crime against women.”  (Times of India 27/3/14)


21. Riots likely in India if Modi becomes PM, says Mayawati (7)

Amravati: In a fierce attack on Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi here on Thursday, BSP chief Mayawati said there was every possibility of communal riots in the country if he became the Prime Minister. Blaming Modi for the Gujarat riots in 2002, she claimed there had been no caste or communal riot in Uttar Pradesh during her four terms as the chief minister. Launching the BSP’s election campaign here, Mayawati lashed out at both the Congress and BJP. She said these parties should not be given more chances as they have always worked against the interests of backwards, Dalits and tribals. She said both the parties gained power with the help of big industrialists and framed policies to suit the latter’s needs. “We want to ensure that the interests of the backwards, poor, Dalits and other deprived classes are protected,” she said. Targeting Congress and its vice president Rahul Gandhi, she said the party was pushing its “yuvraj” as the prime ministerial candidate without naming him. “You have to stop the Congress from coming back to power as it has done little for the poor and the downtrodden despite enjoying power for five decades,” she added. The former chief minister alleged that attempts were being made to take away the benefits of job and education reservations to SCs, STs and OBCs by framing new laws. New castes were included in the quota list to deprive the backward people of benefits, Mayawati said without directly mentioning Jats, who were recently added to the OBC list. Hindustan Times 28/3/14)


22. Muslims in Varanasi warm up to Kejriwal (7)

VARANASI: Qaish Khan, owner of a sports supplement shop in the Muslim-dominated Beniabagh area of Varanasi, listened attentively as Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal addressed a rally at a nearby park on Tuesday. He was anxious about the response of the leader to the unsavoury protests that he faced in the city earlier in the day. “Just because a few unruly elements engaged in such acts [spraying black ink on Mr. Kejriwal] does not mean that the people of Varanasi protested against Mr. Kejriwal,” said Mr. Khan. “As an Indian, I like Mr. Kejriwal for his honesty. As a Muslim I will support him as we have been cheated by every other party,” he said. Despite his sympathy for Mr. Kejriwal, Mr. Khan was wary of committing full support to the former Delhi Chief Minister as he feared that the leader might not be able to attract mass support to defeat BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. The Muslim belts of Varanasi, which has around three lakh voters, are eagerly awaiting the Congress naming its candidate. Muslims are expected to engage in tactical voting to defeat the BJP candidate. Ajay Rai, the Pindra MLA and former BJP man, is considered the frontrunner for the Congress ticket as he commands a good sway among the minority as well as the Brahmins, the two largest communities in the constituency. The dilemma of Muslims could get bigger if Quami Ekta Dal leader and alleged don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari decided to contest from the seat. QED chief and Mukhtar’s brother Afzal Ansari said the final decision would be announced on Friday. The AAP is trying to woo weavers to strike a chord with Muslims. Atiq Ansari, who presented a safa (traditional headgear) to Mr. Kejriwal on Tuesday on behalf of the weavers of Varanasi, said both the NDA and the UPA had failed them. Mr. Modi, in his speech in Varanasi last December, had compared the handloom industries in Surat and Varanasi. “I requested Mr. Kejriwal to challenge Mr. Modi to present a blueprint on how he plans to change Varanasi into Surat,” said Mr. Ansari, according to whom the dismal condition of weavers in Varanasi was due to the high power bills and cost of labour, and expensive raw material. Some Muslims dismissed Mr. Kejriwal as a “non-threat” to Mr. Modi. A senior railway official of the Ansari Community said Mr. Kejriwal has “lost his charm” and dismissed his promises to help the weavers as “mere talk”.  (The Hindu 28/3/14)



23. Mumbai has most the women candidates among metros (8)

MUMBAI: While political parties in India have for long paid lip service to the cause of women’s representation in governance, an analysis of candidates fielded in India’s metropolitan cities shows a near absence of women. Only four of the 21 candidates fielded by major players in Mumbai are women, and yet, at 19%, this is the highest tally for India’s metros. Two of the four women in Mumbai are from Aam Aadmi Party, the newest entrant on the political scene, while the BJP and Congress fielded one each. The Shiv Sena, MNS and NCP have not fielded any women from Mumbai. Three out of 21 candidates from Delhi (14%) and three out of 17 in Kolkata (17%) are women. Bangalore has only one woman candidate, but if the two the JD(S) intends to field are counted, the ratio works out to 18%. Chennai has only one woman candidate from the CPM. No major party in Chennai has fielded women. Two women are pitted against each other in Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Delhi, which means that all women candidates from the metros cannot win. The figures are dismal as they represent India’s mega cities, where one would hope women would find a more equitable representation. The data makes a compelling argument for passing of the women’s reservation bill, which calls for 33% reservation for women in Parliament and state legislatures. “While I don’t believe in reservations, it seems absolutely necessary in the current scenario. It is unlikely that political parties will bridge the gap unless they are obliged to fulfill their commitment to women. When we talk of Members of Parliament, we are referring to representatives of people. So how can 50% of India’s population go unrepresented?” asks Kamini Jaiswal, Supreme Court advocate and trustee of the Association for Democratic Reforms. She feels the figures are dismal as they represent metros, where people are more educated and men and women work shoulder-to-shoulder. “This situation is repeated at every election. It will take another century before we have 33% women in Parliament,” says Brinda Karat (CPM) who has for long advocated greater representation for women. “Across the world, it is only with the help of a legal or constitutional mandate that more women have been represented at the highest levels,” she adds. Karat says many countries have a two-term limit for parliamentarians, but not India. “We do not have a women’s reservation bill or a two-term limit for representatives. So how can change be effected?” she asks. “With or without reservations, every party should make a conscious effort to field more women and create an atmosphere that is conducive to women,” feels Priya Dutta, MP from Mumbai North Central. She feels that women’s issues, from education and empowerment to crimes against women, will be better addressed in Parliament if there are more women MPs. “Many women don’t enter politics because of a perception that it is dirty,” adds Dutt. Politics can be particularly challenging for women. “I have campaigned for five days after delivering a baby. I was lucky to have a lot of support from party workers.” (Times of India 27/3/14)


24. ‘Judges are not immune from charges of sexual harassment at workplace’ (8)

NEW DELHI: Allegation, if established, will amount to misbehaviour and will be a ground for removal, says court-appointed panel Judges, howsoever high, are not immune from charges of sexual harassment at workplace if and when such a charge is made and proved, a Supreme Court-appointed panel has said. The panel, comprising senior advocates Fali Nariman and P.P. Rao, was appointed by a Bench headed by Chief Justice P. Sathasivam, hearing a writ petition from a law intern levelling allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Swatanter Kumar, Chairperson of the National Green Tribunal. In its report submitted to the court on Wednesday, the panel said a continuous course of sexual harassment of women at workplace, if established, would amount to “proved misbehaviour” and would be a ground for removal from high office. If a charge of sexual harassment at work place was made against retired judges of the Supreme Court or the High Court manning judicial tribunals, they would not be protected by the shield of irremovability from office. It wanted the Supreme Court to devise measures similar to the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. (The Hindu 27/3/14)



25. Five Naxals Nabbed from Weekly Market in Chhattisgarh (12)

RAIPUR: Five Naxalites were arrested from a weekly market in the insurgency-hit Narayanpur district of Chhattisgarh, police said Monday. Acting on a tip-off, the cadres were nabbed from Narayanpur police station limits by a team of local police last night, Narayanpur Additional Superintendent of Police O P Sharma told PTI. Based on information about some rebels having arrived at the Narayanpur weekly market, security personnel launched an investigation at the spot during which five suspects were held, he said. Later, during interrogation they admitted being involved in the movement, he said. Those arrested were identified as – Chamru Gota (26), Soma Salaam (50), Antu Korram (36), Soma Pattavi (48) and Jainu Gota (36). They were involved in several incidents of crime in the region, the ASP said, adding that it was yet to be ascertained to which ‘dalam’ or group of Maoist they belong. (New Indian Express 24/3/14)


26. Equipment re-tendering to delay telecom towers in Naxal areas (12)

New Delhi: In a development that will further delay plans to beef up communications network in Naxal-affected areas, inter-ministerial body Telecom Commission on Thursday decided to re-tender the purchase of equipment for setting up mobile towers. The project to set up mobile towers in the Naxal-affected areas was originally scheduled for completion by June but it got mired in differing cost estimates as the capex estimated by state-owned BSNL exceeded the budget estimates. “We will re-tender the project in the coming 15 days as its cost is working out to be a bit higher right now,” said a source in the Department of Telecom. State-owned telecom firm BSNL’s estimate for putting up mobile towers exceeded the project’s budget, approved by the Cabinet, by about Rs 789 crore. The Cabinet had approved the proposal at a cost of about Rs 3,046 crore in nine states affected by Naxal violence soon after 27 people, including senior Congress leaders, were killed in a Maoist attack at Bastar in Chhattisgarh last year. BSNL called for equipment tender last year but only two firms bid for the project, and foreign players stayed away as they found the cost estimates for work of that magnitude to be too low. Sources said that even the bid cost was higher than estimates and so now the firm will re-tender for the equipment. BSNL was mandated to set up the towers, the cost of which would be borne by the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF), which is administered by the DoT. The lack of telecom infrastructure in the Left Wing Extremism affected areas of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh severely compromises the position of the security forces vis-a-vis Maoist ultras. On March 11, Naxals ambushed a security team killing 15 people in Chhattisgarh, in a chilling reminder of the 2010 massacre in which 76 security personnel were killed in the same area in the worst-—hit Sukma district. (The Hindu 27/3/14)


27. Centre warns of Maoist attacks in Kerala (12)

Kozhikode: The Union Home Ministry has alerted the State police about the possibility of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) trying to create trouble during the Lok Sabha polls on April 10. Official sources told The Hindu here on Thursday that the Ministry had sounded the warning in view of the campaigning hotting up in the State. Armed cadres belonging to the CPI (Maoist) had earlier visited various Adivasi colonies in Kannur, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Malappuram and Palakkad at least 50 times after they were first sighted in Kanjirakolly in Kannur district early last year. Inspector General of Police (Kannur Range) Suresh Raj Purohit, who is overseeing the anti-Maoist operations in the State, said that Thunderbolt commandos, along with the local police, were keeping vigil over suspected tribal regions. No sighting has been reported in north Kerala during the last one month, he said. He said that the police had no idea whether the Naxalites had receded into the forest in the wake of combing operations or whether they were waiting for an opportunity to strike. In any case, the police were on alert and forces were coordinating with their counterparts in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, Mr. Purohit said. Several booths in north Kerala have been classified either as hyper-sensitive or critical in the Maoist-sighted regions. Battalions attached to the Central Industrial Security Force would be deployed in these polling stations. All these polling booths would also have video-surveillance. The security in the tri-junction bordering Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has also been stepped up following intelligence inputs. Activities of the banned outfit at the tri-junction were reported as early as 2011. It is believed that the outfit had plans to create a red corridor from Jharkhand to Wayanad. Incidents such as setting ablaze an earth-mover at Kavilumpara panchayat in Kozhikode and attack on local people in Nilambur colonies in Malappuram district had made the police to step up vigil during the polls. Members of the Western Ghats Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist) had distributed copies of Maoist bulletins. Intelligence agencies said that the recent attack on the security forces in South Chhattisgarh was part of the annual tactical counter offensive campaign of the Maoists. By and large, such operations were to demonstrate their strength during the summer. The attack, however, coincided with the Lok Sabha elections. These counter-attacks are generally carried out in the affected areas, including Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. Such types of attacks are not expected in the State. But it is the 10th year of the formation of the CPI (Maoist). So the extremists disrupting Lok Sabha polls or creating mischief could not be ruled out, officials said. (The Hindu 28/3/14)



28. Kerala resort for terror (12)

Thiruvananthapuram, March 27: If Kerala’s hill resorts have provided shelters for many terrorists targeting India, some of this week’s developments may partially explain why. When it emerged after the arrests of the Indian Mujahideen’s officiating head and an associate that they had stayed in Munnar, central Kerala, towards end-2013 and early 2014, state police seemed to be clueless. Now the embarrassed cops have launched a “massive combing operation” to identify the hideouts — months after the duo left the state before being arrested by Delhi police this week — but with little success. Tehsin Akhtar alias Monu, who headed the Indian Mujahideen since its chief Yasin Bhatkal was nabbed in Bihar last August, was apparently arrested in Darjeeling on Tuesday. His associate Zia-ur-Rehman alias Waqas was held in Ajmer on Sunday. Their interrogation has revealed that they had moved to Kerala after Bhatkal’s arrest, Delhi police sources have said. Reports say Waqas was in Munnar for about three months, and Akhtar joined him for a month. The hundreds of homestays and lodges in Munnar would have provided easy cover for the duo, who are believed to have shifted their location a couple of times. Going by a statement from Kerala home minister Ramesh Chennithala, the state police knew about Waqas’s movements in the state — so it remains unclear why they didn’t hunt him down. Quizzed by reporters, Chennithala said the police had tipped the central agencies off about Waqas. He refused to speak further on the subject. Earlier, Lashkar-e-Toiba operative David Coleman Headley had stayed in Munnar before the 26/11 attacks, in which he was involved. The Indian Mujahideen had itself been born at a terror camp organised by the outlawed Students Islamic Movement of India (Simi) in Vagamon, a hill town less than 50km from Munnar, in December 2007. Ernakulam police had picked up the two camp organisers, Ansar Moulavi and Shaduli, along with 16 others from a secret meeting in August 2006. Yet they booked only five of the 18 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and let the others off. Reports had accused the investigating officer of fudging the evidence and showing one of the Simi men as the complainant, but political pressure saved the cop’s skin. Shaduli and Moulavi were released on bail and allegedly went on to mastermind the Jaipur blasts of May 2008, which killed 68 people. Rajasthan police later arrested them and Shaduli’s brother Shibly, a computer engineer and key Simi operative. According to the central intelligence agencies, Kerala’s links with the Gulf — a grazing ground for Pakistan-backed terrorists aiming to target India — make it a potential refuge for militants. The state, especially its capital, has a considerable presence of Maldivians too. With the island nation increasingly turning hard-line and moving closer to Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, experts have stressed the need for more vigilance in Kerala. (Telegraph 27/23/14)


29. Terrorists attack civilians, Army camp in J&K; 4 killed (12)

Jammu: In a daring attack, unidentified gunmen wearing Army uniforms fired at a private vehicle in Kathua district of the Jammu region on Friday. Four people, including two terrorists, one Army jawan and one civilian, were killed in the attack and the ensuing encounter. The gunmen, who are suspected to be Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists, were intercepted after a two-hour chase near an Army camp and a private college in Kalibari-Janglote belt of Kathua district, triggering a heavy exchange of fire between the two sides. Two terrorists have been killed in the encounter. Meanwhile, an Army jawan, injured in the firing, has succumbed to his injuries. “Three persons wearing Army uniform intercepted a SUV, forced out the occupants and opened fire on them at Tarnah Nallah bridge in Dayala Chak belt of Kathua district (on the Jammu-Pathankote national highway)”, a police officer said. One of the injured told police that the only word uttered by terrorist was “utro” (get down) and after which the driver was separated from the passengers. The terrorists opened fire at the occupants, who were on their way to Gurdaspur, and hijacked the vehicle along with driver Taraseem Singh. Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Ashok Prasad told a news agency that immediately after the police control room was informed at 4:47 AM, all check posts and security establishments were alerted. Despite bad weather, helicopters were pressed into service to locate the vehicle which was finally spotted in a nallah (seasonal canal) outside 111 Rocket division in Kathua, he said. Meanwhile, Army Chief General Bikram Singh has briefed Defence Minister AK Antony about the encounter, a Defence Ministry official said. (Zee News 28/3/14)



30. Cobrapost sting reveals Aadhaar card fraud (13)

New Delhi: Whistleblower website Cobrapost has claimed after a “sting operation” that the unique identity system Aadhaar is prone to fudging and immigrants with doubtful citizenship can potentially enrol themselves in the programme. The sting claimed enrolment officers had said there was no problem of getting an Aadhaar card made without a proper address proof. Cobrapost correspondent posed as a benefactor for refugees from Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan and approached Aadhaar offices, the website said. He told the officers that these immigrants have no identity or address proof but need help in getting an Aadhaar card. Aadhaar officers wanted a photograph and address for making an affidavit to be countersigned by the local MLA or a gazetted. The fees varied from Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 5,000. A recent RTI query revealed that UIDAI had not checked the antecedents of the companies that have been enlisted to collect biometric data. (Hindustan Times 25/3/14)


31. Wages, food, only agenda of migrant labourers (13)

Mangalore:  “What election you people are asking about? We are waiting for the contractor to get two week’s pending wages. Then only we can send money to village,” frowned Abdusalam, a native of Karandighi in West Bengal who has been into construction labour at MRPL since two years. Salam along with 20 others, all from Bengal are living in a three-room asbestos roofed building at Meenakaliya on the fringes of MRPL in absolute abysmal conditions. His response was to the query this correspondent posed whether they are going to native place to cast vote, a question which seems out-of-pace in such a deprived situation. It is far off imagination how these 20 men were put up in these three congested rooms with each room can boast of  tiny ventilation only. S K Tajamulla, another Bengali told that wife of Congress leader Priyaranjandas Munshi, Deepa Dasmunshi is the Congress candidate in Raigunj constituency under which his name is in electoral rolls. Neither the election date nor the names of other candidates are known to any of them. “We are not going. It will make a huge hole of Rs 1000 in our pocket for a to-and-fro journey,” Tajamulla clarified.  Adjacent to them, is a group from Kurnool in Andhra Pradesh with children and women among them. The ‘home’ of Andhrites is a small cover-up made of tarpaulin sheet which cannot withstand even a breeze. If one has to enter, it will need an aerobatic expertise to sneak in. The open cooking on the land and the logging of waste water has made the place filthy, fit enough to invite epidemics. Of the seven children in the group, three school going children are now out of the school to eke out a living. “We have to reach home on Monday for Ugadi. Hence, we are eagerly waiting for the contractor to clear the dues,” said Marappa, aged 36 in his brazen voice. They have been in Mangalore since 2011 at regular intervals for doing odd jobs at MRPL or Kudremukh Iron Ore Company. Ask about whether they have heard about ‘minimum wages,’ ‘medical insurance’ or ‘child labour,’ a firm ‘no’ will be the reply. They have been getting Rs 300 on working days, with which they are a happy lot and don’t desire for more ‘luxury’ is the one lesson they have learnt in life. As election comes along with Ugadi, they have planned to vote. When asked about Andhra bifurcation, Marappa responded that they are against it as Rayalaseema, the region which he belongs to will lost hold of Hyderabad. Santhosh Kumar Sahu, a 26-year-old welder from Nayagarh district of Odisha whom Deccan Herald met at Koorikatta in Panabur said election has nothing to do with his plans and he was not going home either. Isthkar Khan, from Jharkhand who is an excavator operator at Mangalore harbour too echoed similar opinion. He and his family are least bothered about the electoral process in the world’s largest democracy. But the case with a number of Tamilians at Bunder is entirely different. “We are eagerly counting days to go home to caste vote for ‘Amma’, beams Lakshmi, a native of Kallakurichi near Salem. Amma refers to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalitha. “Amma had provided us bicycle, laptops, plenty of rice, goats…all free,” explained Hemavalli. Then why you are slogging it out here? “We have neither industry nor sea related jobs there. Agriculture is the only sustenance,” she replied. The entire female group are into cleaning fish and they charge Rs 40 for cleaning a box of fish. But several women have the headache of their better halves contributing nothing to support the family and a few indulging in trivial issues also. Still, after a hard toiled day, smiles keep their faces alive with that indomitable spirit. (Deccan Herald 26/3/14)


32. Buddhist mobs in Myanmar attack aid workers (13)

Yangon: Buddhist-led mobs tore through streets hurling stones at the offices and residences of international aid workers in Myanmar’s western Rakhine State on Thursday, prompting the evacuation of some staff members, residents and officials said. There were no immediate indications anyone was hurt in the violence, which started in the State capital, Sittwe, late Wednesday and picked up again early Thursday, with angry crowds swelling in size from several hundred to more than 1,000. At least one building was looted and three cars damaged, officials said on condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation. Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million, emerged from a half-century of military rule in 2011. But newfound freedoms of expression that accompanied its transition to democracy have given voice to religious hatred, causing violence that has left up to 280 people dead and sent another 140,000 fleeing their homes. Most of the victims have been members of the Rohingya Muslim minority, many of whom have lived in the country for generations but are denied citizenship by national law. Aid groups that have been providing care for the displaced have faced threats and intimidation. Last month, Doctors Without Borders, one of the biggest lifelines for the displaced, was expelled from Rakhine State in part because its staff included Rohingya. Tensions in Rakhine have been soaring ahead of a national census the first in 30 years with many Buddhist ethnic Rakhine saying members of the religious minority should not be allowed to identify themselves as Rohingya on the survey. Religious flags have been place in front of almost every house and office in Sittwe as a sign of protest. Up to 300 people surrounded Malteser International late Wednesday following reports that a woman had removed a Buddhist flag flying in front of the group’s office, State spokesman Win Myaing said. The organisation could not immediately be reached for comment. Police fired 40 to 50 warning shots to disperse the crowd, Mr. Win Myaing said. The violence continued on Thursday, with more than 1,000 people running through a street that houses international aid workers, throwing rocks at homes and damaging several of the residences. “If police stopped them at one place, the mob moved to a different location and threw stones at (nongovernmental organization) houses,” Sittwe resident Aung Than said by phone. “The mob is angry because the NGO staff treated our religious flag with disrespect.” Police escorted aid workers from their homes for safety reasons, Mr. Aung Than said. Other aid groups said they were evacuating non-essential staff from Sittwe. At least two charter flights, one flying out Thursday and another Friday, have been arranged. Local Rakhine residents have been angry with international non-governmental staff since sectarian violence first erupted in mid-2012, accusing them of being biased in favour of the Muslim community. There have been several peaceful protests in the past, but this is the first time property of the international aid organizations has been so directly targeted. Sittwe resident Tun Tha said a 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew had been imposed. Authorities were driving around the city announcing the curfew through loudspeakers, he said, adding that soldiers and police were being stationed near the offices of the United Nations and international aid groups. (The Hindu 27/3/14)



33. For a child-friendly manifesto (14)

Tamil Nadu Child Rights Observatory, a network organisation working for child rights with the support of UNICEF, released a manifesto keeping the rights of children. It speaks about areas where the State is lagging behind. For instance, according to a survey, 800 schools (21.13%) out of 3,785 schools in Tamil Nadu are not following the provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act. Another statistics says that the State has the highest number (115 registered) of child sexual abuse cases in the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. TNCRO has urged all political parties to put the demands of children. Health care, education for all, strengthening Integrated Child Development Scheme, abolish all forms of child labour and allocate sufficient budget for children are some of the suggestions. It has also highlighted the demand in a huge poster at its office in Ayyavu Colony, Aminjikarai. (The Hindu 23/3/14)


34. Child rights panel to ban participation of kids in dahi handi pyramids (14)

Mumbai: Observing that the involvement of children during dahi handi celebrations, in which they formed human pyramids, was risky and could also be fatal, the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) on Tuesday decided to ban the participation of children below 14 years in such pyramids. An order on the same will be passed soon by the MSCPCR. The commission took cognisance of a complaint filed by Pawan Kumar Pathak, a resident of Sakinaka, that stated that children were being used for commercial purposes to earn prize money and goodwill. “We will ban the participation of children, up to the age of 14, in human pyramids during dahi handi celebrations. We will soon pass an order to this effect,” said the commission on Tuesday. Pathak said several political parties participated, and a huge sum was attached to it. “This lures mandals, which play with the life of children. There have been several occasions where the celebrations have turned fatal. The mandals that employ children pay a meagre amount to the family of the children, who meet with accidents. There is an urgent need to stop such injustice,” he said. A report submitted by the Mumbai Police Crime Branch to the MSCPCR stated that concerns raised by the complainant were valid, as there were no safety measures for children and it was risky to use children to form dahi handi pyramids. Stating that stringent action must be taken against mandals that employ children, and parents who allow such participation, the report says that use of children in such pyramids must be banned and the government must formulate rules and guidelines for it.  “In the last eight to 10 years, Dahi Handi celebrations have been commercialised and it has become a means of gimmick for political parties that puts up hoardings and advertisements across the city. The true spirit of the festival is lost and it’s primary objective has been replaced by competition. Using a child at the top of a human pyramid is in demand due to competition. Children are purposely chosen as they weigh less, are easy to place at the top and thus beneficial for teams. There are no safety measures for children. Some mandals use helmets and guards, but it’s an eyewash and not sufficient,” it says. The Crime Branch report further says that till date, mandals have failed to take appropriate steps to help those injured. “While the Govindas, who are injured, may be paid an insurance of Rs 2-3 lakh, they don’t get back their normal life. Hence, it is important to stop using children,” the report further states. The state’s child policy, which was approved by the Cabinet last month, states that children used for entertainment, sports, cultural programmes, religious activities and social customs, among others, should be told about their rights. The policy further said that during various festivals, the state should conduct campaigns to create awareness on the misuse of children. (Indin Express 26/3/14)


35. Election Commission orders parties to not hire minors (14)

NEW DELHI: In keeping with the directions of the Election Commission, the chief electoral officer of Delhi has issued directions to all political parties and election officers to ensure that children under 18 years of age are not engaged as laborers during preparations for the Lok Sabha polls. Issuing the orders on March 21, CEO Vijay Dev cited the provisions of the Plan of Action for Abolition of Child Labour in Delhi and the high court judgment on child labour. The circular states EC had issued instructions in May 2009, making it clear that children must be kept away from various hazardous and non-hazardous activities during election process. “Employment of children below 14 years of age in specific occupations such as transport of goods is considered unsafe and harmful as per the Child Labour (Prohibition and regulation) Act, 1986,” the circular states. The Delhi Commission of Protection of Child Rights, too, had brought to the notice of the CEO office in the run-up to the December assembly polls the legal provisions to ensure that children are not forced to work as cheap labour by candidates.  (Times of India 28/3/14)



36. In 2014, Hindutva versus caste (26)

Of the numerous public appearances by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi over the last year or so, two have been strikingly inconceivable. Both happened in Kerala, often projected as a politically progressive State. In February 2014, Mr. Modi addressed a meeting of Pulayas, a Dalit community that has been for years a bedrock of support for the Communist parties. In April 2013, Mr. Modi was chief guest at the Sivagiri Mutt, founded by Kerala’s legendary social reformer, Sree Narayana Guru who led the backward Ezhava community to social awakening. The Ezhavas too have been largely supporters of the Left. At both the platforms — events separated by more than a year — Mr. Modi made a similar pitch. “Social untouchability may have ended, but political untouchability continues,” he said, referring to the continuing isolation that he faces from various quarters. “The next decade will belong to the Dalits and the backwards,” he said, emphasising his own lower caste origins, at a rally in Muzaffarpur in Bihar on March 3. That event too was significant as he was sharing the stage with Lok Jansakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who returned to the saffron fold 12 years after he quit it over the Gujarat riots. And there is more to it. Dalit leader Udit Raj, who has been fashioning himself as the new age Ambedkar, joined the BJP. So did Mr. Ramkripal Yadav, who has for years been a shadow of Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, a champion of backward class politics in Bihar. The BJP’s efforts to overcome caste barriers in its project to create an overarching Hindu identity are showing signs of success, though it is still far from being a pan-Indian phenomenon. “Mr. Modi has broken the stranglehold of caste. The affinity of these Dalits and backward leaders for the BJP is a clear indication of his acceptance among them,” says Mr. Dharmendra Pradhan, BJP general secretary… (The Hindu 26/3/14)


37. Goa Congress to ask Karnataka to ban Sri Ram Sene (26)

Panaji, March 27 : The Congress in Goa Thursday said it will ask its party’s government in neighbouring Karnataka to ban the Sri Ram Sene for its opposition to “secular” culture. Addressing a press conference here, Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat said the threat by Sene promoter Pramod Muthalik to close down pubs and night spots in Goa would affect tourism and that banning the group once and for all would stop it from spreading. “We are asking our Congress government in Karnataka to ban the Sri Ram Sene. They have openly claimed that they would close down pubs and restaurants in coastal Goa. This would cripple our tourism. It’s best to shut down the Sene in Karnataka itself, where it started under the BJP rule,” Kamat said. Goa is known for beach tourism and late night party hotspots. The Sri Ram Sene is best known for its moral police styled attack on a pub in Mangalore, where they beat up young men and women for following Western culture. Muthalik recently hit the news after he joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), but his entry was thwarted by the party after some senior leaders including Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar allegedly protested. Muthalik has now threatened the Goa government that he would start units of the Sri Ram Sene in Goa after the Lok Sabha polls. (New Kerala 27/3/14)


38. VHP demands apology from Maneka Gandhi (26)

Vishwa Hindu Parishad office bearers in the city today alleged that BJP Lok Sabha candidate from Pilibhit Maneka Gandhi has misbehaved with a priest of a local temple and demanded an apology from her. “Gandhi has hurt the religious feeling by insulting priest of Jara temple at Pooranpur road and threatening him of demolishing the temple,” VHP district president Deepak Agarwal told reporters here. “She will have to apologies otherwise we will meet Superintendent of Police and demand action against him,” he said adding that VHP will resort to agitation against the act. (DNA 27/3/14)


39. RSS to start door-to-door campaign (26)

New Delhi: The RSS is clearly not leaving the Lok Sabha campaigning in the national capital to the BJP alone. Armed with inputs on each booth, the RSS has decided to start full-fledged campaigning in the city, including door-to-door canvassing. In a closed-door meeting, 70 coordinators, mostly RSS workers, were appointed to carry out the campaign. They have been given data collected through a survey carried out by the saffron party’s ideological parent. According to party sources, the detailed survey report includes voter segregation on the basis of gender, age and caste. They also have details on candidates who contested from a particular booth, who won or lost and the reasons for it. Senior party leaders believe that this kind of data will be useful in tapping voters who have not been voting for the BJP or have started supporting the AAP. Only the 70 coordinators have been given passwords to access this data. “If any BJP leader wants to access the data, he/she will have to seek permission from the coordinator concerned. The coordinator will inform the office that the leader be allowed to study the data. Printouts or copying of data has been strictly restricted by the RSS,” the senior leader said.]The RSS, along with BJP workers, will keep a strict vigil on campaigning activities and accompany workers when they go on door-to-door campaigning. Before the Assembly elections last December, despite the BJP’s claims that door-to-door campaigning was done, senior leaders had later accepted that little effort was put into campaigning activities and that the workers had failed to carry out door-to-door campaigning. This cost the party the chance to form a government in Delhi, despite emerging the single-largest party. “The RSS workers will accompany us while we start our door-to-door campaigning on April 1,” a senior BJP leader said. (Indian Express 28/3/14)


Posted by admin at 28 March 2014

Category: Uncategorized


1. Indian scientists warn of more intense freak weather in coming days (9)

HYDERABAD: India’s states will see more intense unpredictable freak weather in the coming days, warned climate change scientists, days after huge chunks of hail killed at least 10 people and wounded scores in Andhra Pradesh and hail storms this week destroyed cropland across Karnataka and Maharashtra. “The key word is these extreme events will increase under climate change and we near to gear up quickly to counter it before it’s too late though micro-level climate vulnerability assessment and drastic cut on fossil fuel emission,” G Bala, a top climate change expert at the Indian Institute of Science’s Divecha Centre for Climate Change in Bangalore. In absence of quality assessment, met department officials are struggling to answer why places like Hyderabad gets heavy rainfall in early March and sudden hail storms destroys lakhs of acres of land in Warangal, Bidar in Karnataka or Nasik and Aurangabad in Maharashtra this week. Scientists have predicted that the frequency of extreme weather is likely to increase with less rainy days, but more quantum of rainfall because of more intensity and severe drought hitting other places. They say states should immediately carry out a micro-level study to assess the unpredictable weather as the country’s fossil fuel emission is going up at alarming levels with no effort being made by governments to address climate change at local levels. “Knowledge is very important and information about climate change must be provided to politicians and policy makers. But there is simply no information. Climate action plans for states lack quality and there is no solid quality which is based on science,” said Bala. Scientists say last June’s cloudburst in Uttarakhand, a severe cold wave in north India this year, heavy snowfall in Chevalla, a sleepy hamlet in Andhra Pradesh last January, and Bangalore city recording 32 degree Celsius in January this year, are all extreme local weather phenomena, which needs to be studied and analyzed carefully. “What needs to happen is a clear micro-level vulnerability assessment that can help us understand and prepare for these unusual weather that will only increase,” says Siddharth Pathak, an International policy coordinator at the Climate Action Network International. (Times of India 11/3/14)


2. State to begin work on Kasturi draft soon (9)

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief minister Oommen Chandy said on Tuesday that the state biodiversity board would begin the process of fine-tuning and implementation of ecologically-sensitive areas (ESAs) as per the guidelines issued in the draft notification by the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF). The ministry has, however, provided 60 days for various stakeholders to give suggestions and complaints on the draft notification before the issue of the final notification. Chandy said the MOEF’s draft notification had accepted all demands put forward by Kerala and exempted 3,115 sq km ESAs in the state. The total area under ESA will be around 9993.7 sq km; out of this, forest land would be around 9,107 sq km and grasslands and barren land 856.7 sq km. The notification has also approved specific demands made by Kerala to exempt plantations, agriculture land and human habitations from ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs). “The boundaries of ESAs as identified by the HLWG may be fine-tuned after receiving inputs from stakeholders/state governments and suggest modifications based upon physical verification,” the draft notification said. “Kerala had pointed out that while in all other states in the Western Ghats region only a portion of natural landscape has been recommended as ESA by HLWG. In Kerala, the area of ESA (13,108 sq km) was more than the area of natural landscape (12,477 sq km),” a state official said. The HLWG had earlier classified around 13,108 sq km as ESAs in Kerala using satellite data. These included large areas of plantations and human settlements. Chandy said all concerns regarding the Kasturirangan committee report has been addressed by the draft notification. “The expert committee completed the massive survey within 40 days after having 30 sessions in all 123 villages. All complaints have been addressed and not a single person will lose his property of livelihood in the high ranges,” he said. Chandy said other clauses in the office memorandum issued on November 13 would remain the same. The major conditions include banning of quarrying and mining in the ESAs and restriction of construction above 20,000 sq m in ESAs. He said it was unfortunate that the LDF did not participate in any of the all-party meetings organised in connection with the Kasturirangan committee report. “The BJP had, in fact, attended the meeting but supported the Madhav Gadgil report, which was rejected by the state government,” he said. Chandy said he could not predict the future, on asked if the new government at the Centre if the BJP is voted to power could reject the Kasturirangan report and the ground work done by the state. (Times of India 12/3/14)


3. Pollution getting worse in Indian cities: Pachauri (9)

Beijing: A study pointing that the pollution levels in New Delhi is worse than that of Beijing may have been quoting the data from the worst period of the year but the air quality in Indian cities is progressively getting worse, UN climate change chief Rajendra Pachauri said on Monday. “We also have to allow the fact that there are variations in the composition of PM 2.5 in the atmosphere which varies from season to season. It may very well be the study they are quoting is that of the worst period during the year,” he told media here at a pre-launch function of the report on the India-China Low Carbon Study. The report will be formally launched on Tuesday. But at the same he said the situation is progressively getting worse in Delhi and Bangalore and even in second rung cities like Ludhiana. “Frankly I have to look at the numbers to be able to comment. All I can say it is getting progressively worse,” he said responding to questions on a study by Yale University stating that Delhi’s air quality is worse than that of Beijing, which is battling out worst polluted smog considered to several higher than the levels prescribed by the WHO. Dr. Pachauri, chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with former US vice president Al Gore in 2007. The Yale data was contradicted by officials in Delhi who contradicted it citing data of their own obtained from monitoring stations on the ground. About the quality of the data provided by the officials in Delhi, he said: “There are gaps in Delhi data. It is an issue needs to be investigated. We are taking about imperfect and inadequate information, we should need to get into this.” The Ministry of Environment should commission two or three institutions to carry out detailed assessment of the situation and what are the drivers of things making this is worse and future policy making, he said. On the debate about the safety of the nuclear power plants, he said: “Frankly we have to demystify nuclear energy. People have to have make decision. In a democracy you cannot ignore that aspect.” He ducked the question whether he is for the nuclear energy or not saying that “one has to be cautious. I would not say close your eyes let us go ahead with nuclear power“. “Nuclear energy is not a panacea to solve all our problems. We are little glib about it,” he said. He was answering questions abut China’s plans to build 28 nuclear power plants which are under various stages of construction. Asked about what India can learn from China, he said both can learn each from their strengths. “One cannot generalise. Some sectors they have done well, some we have done well. There has to be exchange of knowledge which will have enormous value for both,” he said. (The Hindu 17/3/14)


4. Forum in Mangalore to campaign for Gadgil report (6)

Mangalore: A series of programmes to create awareness and gather support for the implementation of the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report will begin in the district with a public discussion at Kudremukh National Park near Aladangady in Belthangady taluk on April 1. Suma Nagesh from Chikmagalur-based Save Democracy Forum told presspersons here on Monday that the programme would dispel myths about the report among forest-dwellers, while highlighting the “negative” aspects of the K. Kasturirangan Commission report that was commissioned to replace the Gadgil panel report. “The Gadgil panel report sought to comprehensively conserve the Western Ghats, which is a bio-diversity hotspot. The government conveniently used the Kasturirangan report to reject the Gadgil report. We have petitioned the President to reconsider the Gadgil committee report, while also creating awareness among the tribal people and forest-dwellers about the report,” said Mr. Nagesh, referring to a letter written to Pranab Mukherjee on March 15. He blamed vested interests, industrial lobbies, and political representatives for creating fear among farmers about displacement if the reports were implemented. “The only fear is that mining and industries will shut down. The Gadgil panel report clearly states that forest-dwellers were needed in conservation projects and it does not advocate for their displacement,” he said. The meet will also discuss the government’s “surreptitious attempts” at displacing tribal people from KNP, said Harish Malekudiya, a resident of Aladangady. “The government refuses to give us basic amenities, while attempting to lure us with money to leave our homes. We don’t want to shift elsewhere, but the government is making it difficult to stay on,” he said. Mr. Gadgil will address the Kudremukh forest-dwellers — some of whom are fighting against displacement — on April 1. Apart from him, activist S.R. Hiremath and writer Na. D’Souza, who had criticised the government on their “inactivity” over conserving the ghats, are expected to participate. The group will travel around the six States through which the Western Ghats traverses, and distribute materials and books in local languages elaborating on the need to implement the WGEEP report. An integral part of the organisation’s demand is the scrapping of the Yettinahole project, which they called a hasty decision that endangers the ghats. (The Hindu 18/3/14)


5. Odisha to move MoEF seeking fund for Similipal biosphere reserve (9)

BHUBANESWAR: The State government will move Ministry of Environment and Forests seeking Rs. 2.14 crore assistance for overall development of Similipal Biosphere Reserve. A management action plan that has been prepared keeping in mind the infrastructure and manpower requirement has been approved by Biosphere Reserve Management Council headed by Chief Secretary J. K. Mohapatra here on Thursday. The prominent feature of management plan is to prepare a five-year Comprehensive Master Plan by an independent agency. Government sources said the Regional Plant Resource Centre (RPRC) will act as a lead institute for carrying out the work for which fund requirement of Rs. 10 lakh has estimated. The management plan also include strengthening of livelihood support, extensive water body development, pond creation and maintenance, solar energy promotion, health and veterinary camps in peripheral villages as well as research work. Chairing the meeting Mr. Mohapatra suggested that Similipal authority should document the rich biodiversity as has been done by Chilika Development Authority for Chilika Lake. The Similipal Biosphere Reserve came into existence during 1994 as per Man And Biosphere (MAB) programme of UNESCO with the objective of bringing the people and domestic cattle along with the forest and wildlife into one fold of management so that the economic condition of the people is enriched through eco-development programmes. The total area under the biosphere reserve is 5,569 sq km. with Similipal Sanctuary at the nucleus. Similipal has about1,076 flowering species and 96 species of orchids. It is home to wild animals including 55 species of mammals, 304 species of birds, 20 species of amphibians, 62 species of reptiles and 37 species of fishes. (The Hindu 21/3/14)


6. 2013 sixth warmest year on record (9)

LONDON: The year 2013 has now been confirmed to have been the sixth warmest year on record. Thirteen of the fourteen warmest years on record have all occurred in the 21st century, and each of the last three decades has been warmer than the previous one, culminating with 2001-2010 as the warmest decade on record. The average global land and ocean surface temperature in 2013 was 14.5°C – 0.50°C above the 1961-1990 average and 0.03°C higher than the 2001-2010 decadal average. Temperatures in many parts of the southern hemisphere were especially warm, with Australia having its hottest year on record and Argentina it’s second hottest. The year 2013 once again demonstrated the dramatic impact of droughts, heat waves, floods and tropical cyclones in all parts of the planet, according to the World Meteorological Organization’s Annual Statement on the Status of the Climate released late on Monday. Scientists have predicted that in another 87 years, planet earth will be the warmest ever. Scientists for the first time reconstructed Earth’s temperature history back to the end of the last Ice Age using data from 73 sites around the world and found that the planet today is warmer than it has been during 70 to 80% of the time over the last 11,300 years. What was most worrying are projections of global temperature for the year 2100, when virtually every climate model evaluated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that temperatures will exceed the warmest temperatures during that 11,300-year period known as the Holocene – under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Highlighting the key climate events of 2013, WMO said Typhoon Haiyan was one of the strongest storms to ever make landfall, devastated parts of the central Philippines. Surface air temperatures over land in the Southern Hemisphere were very warm, with widespread heat waves; Australia saw record warmth for the year, Argentina its second warmest year and New Zealand it’s third warmest. Frigid polar air plummeted into parts of Europe and the southeast United States while Angola, Botswana and Namibia were gripped by severe drought. Heavy monsoon rains led to severe floods on the India-Nepal border besides causing devastation in northeast China and the eastern Russian Federation. Northeastern Brazil experienced its worst drought in the past 50 years while the widest tornado ever observed struck El Reno, Oklahoma in the US. Extreme precipitation led to severe floods in Europe’s Alpine region and in Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Poland, and Switzerland while Israel, Jordan and Syria were struck by unprecedented snowfall. Greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere reached record highs and global oceans reached new record high sea levels. The Antarctic sea ice extent also reached a record daily maximum in 2013. “Naturally occurring phenomena such as volcanic eruptions or El Nino and La Nina events have always contributed to frame our climate, influenced temperatures or caused disasters like droughts and floods. But many of the extreme events of 2013 were consistent with what we would expect as a result of human-induced climate change. We saw heavier precipitation, more intense heat, and more damage from storm surges and coastal flooding as a result of sea level rise — as Typhoon Haiyan so tragically demonstrated in the Philippines,” said WMO secretary-general, Michel Jarraud. “There is no standstill in global warming,” said Jarraud. “The warming of our oceans has accelerated, and at lower depths. More than 90% of the excess energy trapped by greenhouse gases is stored in the oceans. Levels of these greenhouse gases are at record levels, meaning that our atmosphere and oceans will continue to warm for centuries to come. The laws of physics are non-negotiable.” (Times of India 25/3/14)



7. RTE 25% admissions to go online in Mumbai (11)

MUMBAI: All unaided non-minority schools in the city will have to conduct RTE 25% reservation quota admissions online this year, said officials from the education department. In a meeting held in the city on Wednesday, the commissioner of education as well as officials from the BMC and education department decided that anybody seeking admission under the reserved quota for academic year 2014-15, will get a chance to apply to three schools within a 1 km radius, and will be placed a seat in any one of the schools based on lottery system. “Applicants can choose any three schools of their interest in their neighbourhood, within one kilometre. We will then conduct a lottery system to decide which school the applicant will be placed in,” said Mohan Adtani, additional municipal commissioner, BMC. He added that online admissions will only be applicable to the 300-odd unaided non-minority schools in the city. RTE online admissions were supposed to go online for schools across the state this year but it was later decided that only on a pilot basis, schools in Mumbai and Pimpri Chinchwad will have to follow this procedure this year. “Based on the success of the model, it will later be followed in other parts of the state. We will form a proper schedule for this process soon and send it out to schools,” added Adtani. A notification about this will be sent to schools in the city on Thursday. (Times of India 12/3/14)


8. ‘Closure of small schools to do more harm than good’ (11)

HYDERABAD: When the Right to Education (RTE) Act was first brought into being, the legislation seemed to be a precursor of good tidings for lakhs of poor children across the country. But the much-touted law seems to have failed, both in its implementation and non-implementation. On one hand several crucial aspects like 25 per cent reservation for poor children in private schools have not been implemented, on the other hundreds of small schools running in slum areas have been shut down as they do not conform to the standards set by the RTE Act. Activists in the state said this has denied thousands of children their only chance at English-medium education. After the deadline to implement RTE measured expired in March last year, over 400 schools have been closed down by the state government, most of which provided English-medium education to students whose families are below the poverty line. With 800 more schools facing the axe soon, experts rue that the implementation of the Act may actually add to the woes of several students. Activists and politicos are now planning to highlight this issue. Kadiyam Srihari, ex-education minister and chairman of the manifesto committee of TRS, said the matter will be made a part of their manifesto. “The implementation of the Act has been faulty. The gist of RTE is to bring education to the poor and not take away education from them. RTE says there should be schools near the homes of children whose parents belong to the working class,” Srihari said. While the government said that the schools they shut were unrecognized ones that did not have basic facilities, the point being highlighted by activists is that these schools were charging only Rs.200-400 per month as fees. This made them incapable of implementing measures like playground and required student-teacher ratio. “The schools which were closed could have had few children studying in them. Nonetheless, they did provide temporary relief for children from deprived backgrounds,” said Y Rajendra Prasad from MV Foundation. Activists also pointed out that bigger private schools, which have failed to implement the reservation for poor students, have not been touched by the implementers of the Act. Most schools that were closed were located in slum pockets in the cities. Of the 34 unrecognised schools asked to shut shop in Ranga Reddy district, 60 per cent catered to children from slums. In Rajendranagar, about 14 of the 21 schools which faced closure were attended by children from similar backgrounds. “The need of the hour is to get more schools in areas where poor children live. Before closure of schools, the government should put in place alternative schooling solutions,” said Ramesh Patnaik from AP Save Education Committee. Meanwhile, the children in the schools that were shut down were shifted to nearby government schools, a move most of their parents resented due to their lack of belief in the Telugu medium of instruction. (Times of India 16/3/14)


9. Govt. to hold special camps to admit out-of-school children (11)

Bangalore: The State government on Monday told the High Court of Karnataka that special admission camps would be held in villages and taluks during the third and fourth week of March to admit out-of-school children to nearby schools. A submission in this regard was made by the government counsel during the hearing of a public interest litigation petition initiated suo motu by the court last year based on a newspaper report about children remaining out of school despite the Right to Education Act. Meanwhile, the government also told the court that around 30,000 children had been admitted to various private schools under the 25 per cent quota of the RTE Act for the ensuing academic year. It was also submitted on behalf of the government that the RTE Rules were being amended to bring down number of school dropouts. A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, which is hearing the petition, adjourned further hearing till April 8, while orally asking the State to ensure that the school dropout rate came down to zero. The government would have to take appropriate steps to achieve this task, it said. In another case, the Bench on Monday ordered issue of notice to the State government and the Lokayukta on a PIL petition, which alleged that special deputy commissioners were illegally exercising powers on appeals and revisions about disputes on mutation entries under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964. In their petitions, freedom fighters H.S. Doreswamy and Suresh Chandra Babu alleged that the special DCs were illegally exercising powers even after the government in October 2011 entrusted only deputy commissioners to deal with appeals or revision under Section 136 (3) of the Act. Despite this directive, more than 1,000 appeals had been dealt with by special DCs in Bangalore and as many as 680 appeals had been dealt with by a single officer occupying this post, the petitioner alleged.

The Bench ordered issue of notice to the Lokayukta on a oral request made by the petitioners’ counsel, while pointing out that an investigation ordered by the High Court in 2011 against special DC Ramanjaneya and others was closed by the Lokayukta in November last year citing that there was no complainant. The court also ordered issue of notice to several officials who had occupied the post of special DC in Bangalore Urban district, including the incumbents.  (The Hindu 18/3/14)


10. 98% of aspirants fail test for teachers in India (11)

NEW DELHI: Questions over the quality of teacher training in the country continue with more than 98% of aspiring school teachers failing to clear the Central Teacher Eligibility Test (CTET) 2014. Just 13,428 of 7.50 lakh aspirants passed the test, conducted in January by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). In all, 8.26 lakh aspirants registered for the test. About 7.50 lakh finally appeared for the test, of which only 13,428 managed to clear either Paper I or II or both. Clearing Paper I is mandatory for those wishing to teach classes I to V while Paper 2 is for those wishing to teach classes VI to VIII. Aspirants who wish to get certified for classes I to VIII need to clear both the papers. The papers feature objective questions which test the aspirants’ knowledge of English, mathematics and environmental science. This year’s results actually mark a marginal improvement over last year, when over 99% of the candidates failed to pass. But CBSE sources said the board had worked on the difficulty level as well as extended the duration of the test, keeping in mind dismal results in the past. The CTET was introduced in 2011 by the human resource development ministry to improve the quality of teaching in schools after the enactment of the Right to Education Act. CTET certification has been made mandatory to become a teacher for classes I to VIII in any central government school, while CBSE-affiliated schools can either recruit teachers based on CTET or the respective test conducted by states. In fact, the Delhi government too decided to adopt CTET for recruitment of teachers for government-run and aided schools. All CTET applicants need to be BEd graduates. (Times of India 22/3/14)


11. Nursery admissions stalemate persists, stay on draw of lots to continue (11)

New Delhi: The agonising wait for parents to get their children admitted in nursery was prolonged as the Delhi High Court on Monday said its stay on fresh draw of lots will continue till Friday when it will hear pleas against the admission guidelines. The court also rejected the data provided by Directorate of Education (DoE) of Delhi Government in pursuance of earlier direction seeking details pertaining to nursery admission in the unaided recognised private schools. The bench of Acting Chief Justice BD Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul asked the DoE to file the data afresh containing recent status of seats and other aspects related to the nursery admission. During the brief hearing, the court was not convinced with the reply of government that nursery admission guidelines have been framed after proper deliberations, taking into account all relevant issues including the neighbourhood scheme. “What about the larger issue? What about the right to education? The issue is simply of demand and supply. Seats are few and demands are more. What are you doing to deal with it,” it said. “In every academic year, the courts are flooded with such petitions,” the bench said in the packed courtroom. As per the guidelines, out of 100, 70 points are given kids who reside within 0 to 8 kms of a school. Twenty points to a child whose sibling is studying in the same school and 5 points are earmarked for the kids whose parents were alumni. Delhi government has recently done away with five points which were being awarded to kids under inter-state transfer category. The court is hearing several petitions and appeals filed by parents against various aspects of nursery admission. One of the appeals seek scrapping of 5 and 20 points being awarded to kids falling under alumni and sibling categories respectively saying the kids, having only 70 neighbourhood points, are left with no hope or scope of getting admission. Another appeal has been filed by some parents against the March 6 order of the single judge bench by which government was asked to conduct a fresh draw of lots among similarly placed kids who have secured 70 points on the basis of neighbourhood criteria. The petition alleged that kids, who have already declared selected for nursery admission after the draw of lots, will have to undergo the same process again in pursuance of the single judge bench order on the issue. The present dispute started after the Lieutenant Governor (LG) had on February 27 issued an order abolishing 5 points, out of 100, being awarded to inter-state transfer cases. The LG’s order had said, “If a school has conducted draw of lots for those applicants securing 70 points, that draw shall remain valid for selected/confirmed candidates only…. (Zee News 24/3/14)


12. RTE admissions to be held online from April 1 (11)

MUMBAI: Entry-level school admissions in the city will be conducted online between April 1 and 10 this year. While the education department, along with BMC education officials, are yet to release the admission schedule, they aim to finish it before April 10. “A proper schedule will be shared with schools in the next two days and we will advertise about the same in all English and vernacular newspapers,” said a senior official from the BMC education department. All 300-odd unaided non-minority schools in the city will have to conduct online 25% quota admissions under the Right to Education (RTE) Act from this academic year, said officials from the state education department. As a pilot project, schools in Pune and Mumbai will be conducting 25% RTE admissions online. The applicants will get a chance to apply to three schools within a one-km radius of their home, and will be given a seat in any one of them based on a lottery system. (Times of India 27/3/14)



13. Won’t be able to change lives in 10 days but will attempt: Rahul Gandhi (14)

Khara Ghoda: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday assured salt pan workers here that their problems would be addressed though he might not be able to bring a change in their lives in the “next 10 days”.He met the salt-pan workers in this village of little Runn of Kutch in Surendranagar district and listened to the problems faced by them. “I have understood your problems and I will try my best to address those issues. I am not saying that I will change your life in the next ten days but I will make attempts,” he said. The central government has introduced schemes like Right to Food, Right to Shelter and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme (MNREGA), he said, adding, “You people should get benefit of those schemes. We believe that each and every citizen should get the basic rights.” On the issue of development, Rahul said, “There are two thoughts associated with the idea of development. First is to build roads and claim that it is development, while another is to provide shelter to people like you.” “Until and unless you people do not have floor beneath your feet and roof over your heads it cannot be claimed development… Every citizen of this country should participate in the growth story and should be benefited.” Representatives of the salt pan workers told him that they do not even get drinking water on a daily basis. Responding to this, Rahul said, “In independent India, if we cannot provide you drinking water, then there is some serious problem.” A woman representative told him that despite losses due to unseasonal rains, the salt pan workers do not get any compensation. “Government must have introduced so many welfare schemes, but we are not benefited by them. We are left dry as we do not get even a drop of those schemes,” she added. Gujarat is the largest producer of salt in the country and the salt pan workers have to spent six months in the Little Runn of Kutch to produce salt without any basic facilities, the representatives said. Responding to this, Rahul said, “Despite rains, you people do not get water. There must be some loopholes in the system. Schemes are not reaching up to you people. I will try to address your issues.” Workers also told him that their work is considered illegal as they are not getting lease for salt panning, to which he said, “You people should get rights over the land and the lease should be renewed soon.” (Zee News 11/3/14)


14. Delhi High Court notice to 38 officials on hawkers’ plea (14)

New Delhi, March 12 : The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued contempt notice to 38 government officials, including the Delhi police commissioner and an MCD councillor, on a plea by hawkers alleging harassment and for flouting the court’s earlier order. A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul issued the contempt notice to Delhi Police Commissioner B.S. Bassi along with 20 other police officials. Municipal Corporation Of Delhi (MCD) councillor Jeevan Lal along with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) commissioner, deputy commissioner, licensing inspector and other officers were also issued contempt notice for defying the court’s order. The court’s order came on a contempt plea filed by around 130 hawkers of Harkesh Nagar Subzi Mandi, Okhla Industrial Area Phase II, who formed an association called Delhi Shramik Sangathan (DSS). The plea said that despite the court’s earlier order not to harass the hawkers, police and the MCD continue to torture them. The court Jan 16 had restrained Delhi Police from interfering with the 130 petitioners saying that their right to pursue street-vending was protected. The association through advocate Indira Unninayar told the court that police and MCD officials were harassing them to vacate the premises where they have been hawking since the past more than 20 years, and demanding “hafta” (extortion money). The petitioners alleged that the MCD was piling up garbage in the surrounding area, thereby making their lives miserable. The Supreme Court through its Sep 9, 2013 order had also directed that no hawker can be removed, the plea said. Advocate Unninayar said municipal officials, with police assistance, were obstructing the livelihood of street hawkers and humiliating them. She said officials were beating up hawkers, and later filing false criminal cases against them alleging that they were obstructing public officials in performing their duty. Seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the officials, the lawyer said they had even arrested some hawkers who had filed a plea to lead honest and dignified lives in the pursuit of their occupation. “The inaction by the commissioners and other senior officials of SDMC, MCD and police are also contempt of court orders,” the plea said. Taking serious note of the piling of garbage in spaces where hawkers or vegetable vendors sit and their harassment by police and MCD officials, the court directed the removal of all garbage from the area. (New Kerala 12/3/14)


15. SC snubs UP plea, extends CBI probe ambit into NREGS scam (14)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday threw out a spirited challenge from the Akhilesh Yadav government to an Allahabad high court order extending CBI probe into alleged irregularities in MNREGA implementation from seven districts to the whole of Uttar Pradesh. Appearing for the state, senior advocate U U Lalit said CBI probe into MNREGA implementation in all 75 districts would bring the socially beneficial scheme to a standstill and pointed out that the government had already registered 495 FIRs in seven districts against 760 officers, filed 154 charge-sheets and arrested 208 persons. “The state has done an expeditious inquiry after allegations about irregularities into the alleged scam in implementation of MNREGA,” Lalit said. He attempted to show to the apex court that the HC’s January 31 order permitting CBI to look for into alleged MNREGA irregularities would cast a heavy burden on the central agency and at the same time render the state investigating machinery redundant. A bench of Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice N V Ramana was unimpressed. “When so much material about alleged irregularities has been found in seven districts, why not scrutinize implementation of MNREGA in other districts too? At this stage we don’t think we will intervene,” it said. Lalit said it was not a case where the state wanted to protect anyone as the period of scrutiny related to the previous regime. “The Akhilesh Yadav regime was not in power during the period when the irregularities were reported. When there is not even a whisper of allegation about irregularities in other 68 districts, was it required for CBI to carry out a roving inquiry,” he asked. The bench rejected the appeal saying, “If everything is in order, why is the UP government fearing an inquiry?” Centrally sponsored MNREGA funds were released to seven districts between 2007 and 10. The biggest financial fraud, allegedly to the tune of Rs 250 crore, was detected in Sonbhadra district in construction of check dams. After a warning letter from the Centre, the then Mayawati government conducted inquiries and found that funds were embezzled. But instead of taking action against senior officials, the government only acted against 50-odd junior level officers. (Times of India 15/3/14)


16. 56 bonded labourers including 10 children rescued from brick kiln (14)

Trichy: The revenue and police department, on Sunday, rescued 56 bonded labourers from a brick kiln on the outskirts of Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district. Steps are on to send back the bonded labourers to their respective districts. Investigation is on to arrest the brick kiln owners for subjecting the innocent people to work as bonded labourers for a meagre payment. A joint operation by revenue officials and the police department brought the issue to light on Sunday. The official acted on a complaint from International Justice Mission (IJM), an NGO which brought the matter to the notice of the Kumbakonam sub-collector M Govindarao. The officials conducted raid at GKM Agencies a brick kiln run by one Parvathi and her four sons at Thirumalairajan river bank at Kabisthalam village in Papanasam taluk. “A thorough interrogation with the labourers at the brick kiln brought to light that they were subjected to bonded labour for a long time. They were even paid meagre salary and were denied permission to go outside the kiln. So, we rescued them from the kiln. Police investigation is on to book the accused in connection with the case,” M Govinda Rao, sub-collector, Kumbakonam. The bonded labourers included 23 men, 23 women, six girls and four boys. They were hailing from Ariyalur, Thiruvidaimarudhur and Thirumancheri. “We got a tip-off few backs back that the labourers were denied their basic rights. A family of two was paid Rs 500 per week as salary for their work. Moreover, some labourers were not even allowed to go outside even during emergency. All of them expect two families belonged to the scheduled caste. We then informed the IJM which brought the matter to light,” said Irulappoo Selvakumar, secretary of Irular Tribal Development Society. The process was on to provide the immediate compensation and release certificate to them. “We will provide Rs 1,000 compensation for each labourer and issue release certificate. They will be sent to their town immediately,” Govindarao said. Meanwhile, investigation is on to arrest the owners of the kiln and few others for subjecting those labourers as slaves. (Times of India 17/3/14)


17. Central ministries to soon come under EPFO ambit (14)

New Delhi: Central ministries will soon come under the ambit of the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation, which manages retirement savings of formal sector non-government employees. With over half a dozen Central government ministries found to be defaulting on payment of provident fund contributions of its contract employees, the EPFO now plans to allot the establishment codes to each of them. Under the proposal being mooted, the drawing and disbursing officer (DDO) of each ministry, who is in-charge of payment of salaries and pensions to government employees, would be issued a provident fund code and would withhold the retirement contributions of the contract workers. “All DDOs in government departments and other organisations may be notified as establishment in respect of employees not getting any PF, pension or insurance benefits,” said the EPFO in an internal missive after a review meeting of its key officials. The proposal is similar to what is done for permanent employees on government roles whose retirement savings are withheld by the DDOs and deposited with the General Provident Fund or the National Pension System. The plan comes after the central labour commissioner found nine government ministries including labour, commerce and industries and railways, violating employment laws for contract workers. Notices were also sent by the CLC to departments of expenditure and revenue, ministries of petroleum, human resource development and health and welfare. Over 4,000 contract workers are estimated to be working in these ministries. The issue was also flagged by the Parliamentary consultative committee on labour that had pointed to the poor working conditions and non-compliance of labour laws for contract workers hired by several Central government departments and public sector enterprises. (Financial Express 16/3/14)


18. Cong promises 8 pc growth, generate 10 cr jobs (14)

Congress today promised to push economic growth rate to 8 per cent in the next three years, create 10 crore jobs and take firm steps to contain inflation. In its manifesto for the upcoming elections released by Congress President Sonia Gandhi, the party also pledged to encourage Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and push Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Direct Taxes Code (DTC) within one year of coming into power. The party also expressed its commitment to create a national consensus on affirmative action for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for jobs in the private sector. The 15-point agenda for socio-economic and political transformation include initiatives like promoting flexible labour laws, systemic efforts to recover black money and increasing health expenditure to 3 per cent of GDP. Indian economy, which grew by over 9 per cent before the 2008 global financial crisis, has slipped to decade’s low of 4.5 per cent in 2012-13. In the current fiscal, it is estimated to expand by 4.9 per cent. “Continuing our record of delivering India’s highest growth rates, we will restore India to 8 per cent plus growth rate within 3 years,” the manifesto said adding that government would continue to take firm action to control inflation even in difficult global economic scenario. Admitting that there will be a moderate level of inflation in a developing economy, it said “Reserve Bank must strike a balance between price stability and growth while formulating monetary policy”.The RBI, it may be mentioned, has been maintaining a hawkish monetary policy stance in its bid to contain inflation. The central bank is scheduled to announce its next policy policy on April 1. Although the WPI inflation which was nearing double digits fell to a nine month low of 4.68 per cent, the retail inflation still remained elevated at 8.1 per cent in February. As regards jobs creation, the manifesto said, that within 100 days of coming into power the party would announce “a detailed jobs agenda to ensure that we create 10 crore new jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for our youth. (Business Standard 26/3/14)


19. Rs 1100cr rural dues pop up before polls (14)

Calcutta, March 26: Mamata Banerjee has instructed the panchayat department to request Delhi for funds under the 100-day job scheme after it emerged that payments to the tune of Rs 1,100 crore was yet to be made to rural beneficiaries. Nabanna sources said the backlog in payments under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act was discussed at a review meeting on Monday. According to the sources, the chief minister expressed her unhappiness at the failure to make payments and told panchayat department officials to do whatever they could to ensure that funds were released at the earliest. “The chief minister has reasons to be worried as delay in payment of dues could become an issue in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls and hurt the ruling establishment,” a senior state government official said. He said Mamata instructed Saurav Das, the panchayat department secretary, to go to Delhi to get some funds released. The sources said it emerged at the meeting that the panchayat department needed Rs 1,250 crore to clear the backlog but had only Rs 150 crore. “We need at least Rs 1,100 crore from the Centre to clear the dues of villagers. But it appears we will not get the money before the next financial year as the Centre has informed us that it has exhausted the funds allotted for the scheme,” a senior panchayat department official said. State government officials said the administration needed to pay beneficiaries in 18 districts but the situation was particularly bad in Hooghly, Nadia and West Midnapore. The government needs Rs 100 crore to clear the backlog in each of the three districts. Trinamul leaders said that during campaigning, they were facing uncomfortable questions from scheme beneficiaries who were yet to be paid. “It is getting tough for us with each passing day. We are finding it difficult to make villagers understand that funds for the project come from Delhi. As the rural bodies implement the 100-day job scheme, they villagers think the panchayats release the funds,” a Trinamul MLA said. The state government officials said the Centre couldn’t be blamed solely for the situation. “At the beginning of a financial year, the Centre gives a chunk of the money allotted under the scheme. The state can seek more funds only after it spends around 70 per cent of the amount released earlier. This year, the Centre had sent around Rs 1,000 crore under the scheme,” an official said. The state, the sources said, failed to use the funds on time and the demand for further allotment could be placed only in the last two quarters of this financial year because of the delay in holding the panchayat polls. “Work under the scheme actually started in November and it gained momentum in January and February. But by the time we sought more funds, the Centre had exhausted the money set aside for the scheme as other states had made timely claims,” the official said. The officials said the cash crunch made it impossible for the state government to release Rs 1,100 crore from its own coffers and get it reimbursed by the Centre. State panchayat department officials hoped they would be able to pay some of the beneficiaries as the finance department had promised to release Rs 200 crore soon. (The Telegraph 27/3/14)



20. Judges are not ‘caged parrots’, says court (19)

New Delhi: Judges are not “caged parrots” and courts do not work as the “post office” of prosecuting agency, a special court on Monday observed, while rejecting the allegation that ex-Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal had been spared “purposely” by the CBI in the Rs 10 crore cash-for- post railway bribery case. “While dealing with cases of corruption, it will be appropriate and wise to pass orders which send a strong message to the society that judges do not work as caged parrots and the judiciary in this country works freely without fear or pressure,” Special CBI Judge Swarana Kanta Sharma said. The court observed this while dismissing the plea of NGO, Delhi Pradesh Social Progress Society (DPSPS), holding that the petition was “devoid of merit” and that in the present case charges have already been framed against the accused persons. The plea claimed the CBI citing Bansal as a witness in the case was a bid to spare him. (Indian Express 11/3/14)


21. December 16 gang-rape brought major reforms: Delhi HC (19)

The Delhi High Court Thursday the December 16, 2012 gang rape brought about major reforms in criminal law dealing with offences against women. A division bench of Justice Reva Khetrapal and Justice Pratibha Rani observed that the incident sparked an unprecedented public movement where people from every strata of the society came on a common platform demanding justice for the victim. It said the outcry was for safety of women and punishment proportionate to the crime for the offenders and the demand was for amending the penal law, thereby prescribing death sentence in deserving cases of rape. The court said the volcano that erupted led to set up of a judicial committee headed by Justice J.S. Verma by the government to suggest amendments to the criminal law. “The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2013 was passed amending the Indian Penal Code to provide death penalty in rape cases that lead to death of the victim or leave her in a vegetative state,” the court said. The court said that within days of the incident, fast track courts were ordered to be set up in all parts of the country to deal with cases related to sexual assault against women. Overnight, safety of women became a cause for concern. The court said the incident not only shocked the nation but even the international community. The bench dismissed the appeals of the four convicts – Mukesh, Akshay Thakur, Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma – and confirmed the death sentences awarded to them by a trial court Sep 13. The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern was gang-raped by six men, including a juvenile, in a moving bus. The woman died of grave intestinal injuries Dec 29, 2012 at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital. (DNA 13/3/14)


22. Meeting Accused: HC Suspends Chief Judicial Magistrate (19)

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has suspended V P Indira Devi, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thrissur, from service as part of disciplinary action. The decision was taken by the administrative wing of the High Court after it was found that Indira met  Mini an accused who was absconding after being implicated in a case. Mini was an accused in a case related to the missing of court documents from the Chalakkudy court. While Mini was absconding in the case, Indira met her at the Chalakkudy guesthouse with DySP Pradeep Kumar, stated a complaint by the Chalakkudy Bar Association before the High Court. The association produced a photograph and CD of the meeting, along with their complaint. Following this, the Vigilance wing of the High Court conducted a probe. Indira, who had been promoted as the District Judge at Manjeri District court, is yet to take charge there. (New Indian Express 20/3/14)


23. Aadhaar card not a must, reasserts SC (19)

New Delhi, March 24: Allegations that the government was denying services like marriage registration and property sales to people lacking Aadhaar cards today annoyed the Supreme Court, which ordered that any notification making the scheme mandatory must be withdrawn immediately. Solicitor-general Mohan Parasaran assured the court that if any such notification had indeed been issued, it would be withdrawn. Official sources told The Telegraph that no such notification had been issued and that the official website of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which handles the Aadhaar programme, clearly states that the scheme is voluntary. “We had earlier passed an order; why are you not implementing it?” the court said, referring to an interim order of September 23 last year that said that Aadhaar cards could not be made mandatory for extending welfare schemes to beneficiaries. It today stressed that no one should be deprived of any service for not possessing Aadhaar cards if they are otherwise eligible for such services. Parasaran replied: “I will ensure that fresh instructions are issued for compliance of the order.” Earlier, Justice B.S. Chauhan, heading a two-judge bench, had told Parasaran: “I have received a number of letters stating that you are insisting upon Aadhaar cards for providing certain services. “In one case, one lady said, ‘My marriage is not being registered for not providing Aadhaar card,’ while some say properties are not being registered if there are no Aadhaar cards.” He added: “You issue instructions withdrawing the notification making the Aadhaar card mandatory for availing the schemes.” The bench also restrained the UIDAI from transferring Aadhaar-related data to any investigative agency or government department without the express consent of the person concerned. It did so while staying a recent Bombay High Court order that had asked the authority to share with the CBI certain details of a group of Aadhaar cardholders who are suspects in a Pune rape being probed by the agency. An aggrieved UIDAI had approached the apex court complaining that such an order would encourage all investigative agencies to seek similar data from it, increasing its workload beyond manageable proportions. The bench, which also comprised Justice J. Chelameshwar, posted the next hearing after four weeks. The September 23 interim judgment came on a public interest litigation filed by a former Karnataka High Court judge, Justice Puttaswamy, alleging the Aadhaar scheme had been launched without statutory backing and violated citizens’ fundamental rights. Puttaswamy’s petition also raises privacy concerns. It is being heard by a three-judge bench comprising Justices Chauhan, Chelameshwar and S.A. Bobde. (The Telegraph 25/3/14)


24. Justice eludes consumers claiming damages (19)

LUCKNOW: Denied insurance claim in a case filed six years ago against a car company, an aggrieved person is waiting for justice. An engineer who booked a house in a posh locality of the city in 2007 was asked to wait for two years after paying 95% of the amount. He waited for 5 more years, before filing a case two years back but there is still no sign of the case being taken up. It is a common perception that in case a consumer is cheated or harassed one can file a case in the consumer forum and rest assured of justice within 90 days. But actually, there is no time-frame and in the real estate sector there are innumerable complaints. As in December 2013, there was pendency of 76,032 cases in the district consumer forum, filed from different parts of Uttar Pradesh. Out of these 4,876 cases were filed from Lucknow, despite there being two forums functional in the city. There is a pendency of 27,000 in the UP State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission. It is evident that neither the government nor the judiciary is concerned about the woes of the common man. Though there is a marked rise in number of cases filed, the manner in which consumer forums take them up leads to unnecessary delay. Experts in the field say though there is lack of awareness about consumer rights in a certain section of the society, need of the hour is for more NGOs and social workers to sensitise not only the masses but also lawyers, judges and government authorities about the difficulties the ‘aam admi’ faces. A consumer forum works parallel to the civil court but litigants are mostly disappointment and have to wait endlessly. Narrating innumerable cases in which consumers have been fooled, advocate R K Porwal said “solution lies in a well planned awareness initiative by government comprising information, education and communication (IEC) strategy that must be deployed for desired results.” “The establishment of consumer forums is not just to spread knowledge about consumer rights but also to uphold consumer duties,” said Vijay Acharya, president Bharat Jyoti, a consumer protection and social welfare organisation. He said consumers must check the expiry date of the product. (Times of India 27/3/14)


25. Govt notifies 183 Sections of new Companies Act (19)

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday notified 183 Sections of the Companies Act, 2013, pertaining to incorporation of a company, management, rotation of auditors and independent directors among several others. The rules to operationalise the Sections, effective April 1, are expected to be released later this week, an official source said. However, the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) did not notify the Sections relating to the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) and the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) along with those related to investor protection, winding up of companies, sick companies, among others. While the NCLT is under litigation in the Supreme Court, the NFRA has been facing stiff opposition from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) on the grounds that it will lead to multiplicity of institutions. “The Sections relating to the NFRA and NCLT will come into being only when these institutions have been set up,” the official said. Lauding the development, experts said that while the notification ends the uncertainty for Corporate India, they emphasised that the rules should provide enough transition period to companies for conforming to the new act. ‘’While this has come practically in the last week of the year, giving corporate very little time to understand the ramifications of the detail in the final rules, one does hope the rules contain some additional transitional provisions that would provide companies some reasonable time to comply with the new requirements,” Sai Venkateshwaran, head of accounting advisory services, KPMG India, said. He said the requirement to approach the NCLT intermingles with several Sections of the Companies Act, notably the Sections relating to mergers and restructuring and winding up of companies. Until the NCLT and NFRA are formed, the regulatory framework under the Companies Act, 1956, would continue to apply, he added. The MCA has also not notified Sections relating to transfer of unclaimed dividend and corresponding shares to the Investor and Education Fund. Also, the new Act requires valuation to be done by registered valuers in many cases but the section for the same is also yet to be notified. (Financial Express 27/3/14)



26.  ‘Food Security Act a big step in addressing malnutrition’ (21)

Bangalore: The national Food Security Act marks an important first step in the fight to eliminate hunger in India, but much more remains to be done, eminent agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan has said. Addressing the ninth edition of the Nutra India Summit organised by the International Society for Nutraceuticals, Nutritionals and Naturals, Prof. Swaminathan said on Wednesday that the provisions of the legislation enshrined access to food as a legal right, which was a very important step. The implementation of the Act would address the problem of calorie deficiency among the Indian population, but not hunger and malnutrition, and protein and micronutrient deficiency, he observed. Prof. Swaminathan, who later received the lifetime achievement award for work in the field of agriculture and nutrition, said South Asia remained an enigma because although the region had seen rapid economic growth in the last decade, 39 per cent of children suffered from stunted growth and malnutrition. Studies, he said, showed that malnutrition affected economic growth by about 8 per cent. Dinesh Gundu Rao, Minister for Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, said while malnutrition continued to be a major problem among the poor, there was also the problem of “excesses” among the rich. Delegates from more than 15 countries are participating in the three-day conference. (The Hindu 13/3/14)


27. Unemployment, poverty rates high among Muslims: Study (21)

Poverty among Muslims in urban areas was twice the national average in 2011-12 and four times more than among  upper caste Hindus, says a committee which has probed the issue for the government. Also, it says, the employment situation among Muslims has not undergone much  change vis-a-vis other groups since the UPA government said it would go by the Sachar committee report in 2006. The panel, however, says job reservation for Muslims isn’t the answer. The committee was constituted by the government to assess implementation of the Sachar recommendations and the Prime Minister’s 15-point programmes for minorities. Chaired by Amitabh Kundu, a professor from the Centre for Study of Regional Development at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, it gave an interim report on Friday to the minority affairs minister, K Rahman Khan. Official data showed 13.7 per cent of Indians were below the poverty line (BPL) in urban areas in 2011-12, compared to 25.7 per cent in 2004-05. In absolute terms, 52.8 million people were BPL in urban India in 2011-12, compared to 80.2 mn in 2004-05. In the country as a whole, the proportion of BPL dropped from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05 to 21.9 per cent in 2011-12. In absolute terms, 269 mn were BPL in 2011-12, against 407 mn in 2004-05. In 2011-12, unemployment among educated urban Muslim youth was 18 per cent. In  lower educational categories, the unemployment rate was highest among Muslims, followed by scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs). While the Kundu panel does not favour a reservation quota for Muslims, it favours the inclusion of those engaged in occupations similar to SC Hindus (like Arzaal Muslims) in the SC list, instead of the Other Backward Classes (OBC) category. Due to its historical association with secessionism, the demand for a separate quota for all Muslims or even a  separate sub-quota for them within the OBC category, without bringing in socio-economic considerations, is not feasible, the report said. It is, however, for a law to bar social discrimination against Muslims, on the lines of the existing one for SCs and STs. Rather, the panel wanted the government to go for resource allocation for public and private enterprises based on a diversity index, showing the percentage of  different social  groups employed by companies. It wants a diversity index-linked resource allocation for all public and private enterprises, instead of a separate Muslim quota, a senior official associated with the committee said. The panel said except for the northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, the economic condition of Muslim OBCs had worsened in most other states in comparison to the SC population between 2004-05 and 2011-12. The assessment was based on the 61st and 68th round of Monthly Per Capita Expenditure Survey of the National Sample Survey. The committee said that though the growth rate in consumption had risen in Muslims in 2011-12 as compared to 2004-05 and 1993-94, this cannot be attributed only to the Sachar committee’s implementation, since this was in sync with the pattern among all communities. The committee says the percentage of poor among OBC Muslims was higher than the SC population in West Bengal, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Assam and Tripura in 2011-12. The committee also said properties under ‘Waqf’ should be exempted from certain enactments like the Rent Control Act, Land Reforms Act, etc, and unused cemeteries could be developed by changing their land use by the appropriate agencies. This would stop illegal encroachments, it said. (Business Standard 15/3/14)


28. NULM set for April 1 launch, to benefit city’s BPL population (21)

KOLHAPUR: The civic body will implement the centrally-sponsored National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM) for the benefit of 43% of the city’s population living below the poverty line. The scheme, to be launched on April 1, involves providing employment to poor people, shelters to the homeless and training to street vendors. It will replace the existing Swarna Jayanthi Shahari Rojgar Yojana (SJSRY), which has failed to provide jobs due to the lack of trained manpower and non-availability of funds with the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC). Deputy municipal commissioner Ashwini Waghmale said, “Not even half of the candidates who had applied for the scheme (SJSRY) got any benefit. The new scheme also aims to provide jobs to the poor people in the city, but emphasizes on adding to the capacity of civic employees to make it successful.” During the last one year, the KMC has provided jobs to 32 individuals from the 63 proposals it received. It also received the 26 proposals from various organizations to start self-help groups, but could not do anything about those due to the lack of competent staff. “The state government, which was supposed to fund the implementation of the SJSRY, did not do so despite repeated demands. In the case of the new scheme, however, a separate management unit will be established and two technically sound staff members will be appointed for the execution. Its progress will be monitored by third party consultants to avoid frequent delays,” Waghmale added. The component of the NULM to develop the skills of street vendors was not included in SJSRY. Now, the civic administration has to conduct a periodic socio-economic survey of street vendors, register and issue identity cards to them. “We have completed the survey and issued identity cards to street vendors. The drafting of the police is in its last stage,” Waghmale said. According to guidelines, the Union government has to share 75% of the total cost to be disbursed to the beneficiary. The rest of it will be taken care of by the state government. “We hope for the maximum number of beneficiaries as they will not have to bear any financial burden. The earlier scheme (SJSRY) required them to bear 25% of the cost starting a small scale enterprise,” Waghmale said. On shelters for the homeless, she said, “The guidelines say they should house 50 to 100 persons. Once the scheme is rolled out, we will survey the homeless and see where the facilities could be set up. (Times of India 20/3/14)


29. Africa: UN urges concrete measures to end hunger (21)

New York, Mar 25 : The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned on Monday that despite notable recent economic progress, Africa remains the world’s most food insecure continent and calls on all African agriculture ministers to focus their investments and support efforts on smallholder farmers, including youth and women. Kicking off in Tunis on Monday its 28th Regional Conference for Africa, FAO applauded the continent’s continuous growth since 1999, and called for providing an enabling environment to end hunger in the region by 2025. With an average annual GDP increase of 4.8 percent between 2000 and 2010 – up from 2.1 percent in the previous decade – Africa has seven out of the top 10 fastest growing economies in the world. The agricultural sector, in particular, has progressed considerably, with the intensification of staple food production, improved varieties of banana in eastern and central Africa, high-yielding varieties of maize in east and southern Africa and increased productivity in cotton production in Burkina Faso and Mali, and in tea and floriculture in east Africa. On average, agricultural production has increased slightly less than 1 percent per year, compared with about 2 percent in developing countries. “The question is how African leaders can build on this progress by providing stable agriculture and fiscal policies that encourage investment, as committed 10 years ago in the Maputo Declaration, and strengthen governance and accountability mechanisms that contribute to more systemic implementation of policies and programmes,” said Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, adding that “these actions are critical to trigger a transformation” in countries’ ability to deliver sustained growth and development. Eleven African countries have already met the first Millennium Development Goals (MDG) hunger target to reduce by half the proportion of hungry people between 1990 and 2015. Three countries – Djibouti, Ghana, and São Tome and Principe – have also met the even more ambitious 1996 World Food Summit goal to reduce by half the total number of hungry. Despite all the progress, levels of hunger and undernourishment remain worrying in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa, FAO warns, estimating that of the 388 million who live in extreme poverty in the continent, approximately 239 million are chronically undernourished. The 2012 UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Report states that Africa is 41 percent “off” the first MDG poverty target versus 25 percent in South Asia and 6.1 percent in Latin America. FAO insists that there are significant opportunities for accelerating smallholder-driven agriculture and agri-business in Africa as the basis for transforming and commercializing the sector. With 40 percent of Africa’s population now living in cities and consuming approximately 50 percent of the total food, the importance of rural-urban food supply chains should be acknowledged, FAO says, and policy makers should consider this urban market, which is more accessible to family farmers, at least as much as an opportunity as the export market. Numerous examples of the dynamic growth of rural-urban supply chains can be found throughout the continent: millers-cum-retailers of teff in Addis Ababa markets, the millet supply chain in Senegal, the chicken supply chain in urban Nigeria, Mozambique and many other African countries, and the rapid rise of dairy processing companies linked to small farmers in Kenya and Zambia. With a view to enhancing FAO contributions to the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) at country, regional and continental levels, the organization undertook important activities in 2013 towards strengthening and aligning capacity on CAADP activities for 2014 and 2015…. (New Kerala 25/3/14)



30. Most rural population now not solely in agriculture: NCAER survey (20)

NEW DELHI: Employment in agriculture has fallen sharply over the last seven years and a combination of farm-oriented and non-farm work is now the most common form of rural employment, according to the findings of a nationwide representative sample survey conducted by the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER).The Hindu is reporting exclusively from the findings of the NCAER’s 2011-12 round of the India Human Development Survey. The NCAER team covered 42,000 households across the country, 83 per cent of which were surveyed for the last round of the IHDS in 2004-05. The IHDS is the largest independent household sample survey in the country. The IHDS’s findings on employment show that the fall in agricultural employment — documented in the 2011 Census as well — is much larger than what was previously believed. In 2004-05, half of all rural men and 83 per cent of rural women worked only on farms, making it the most common type of rural employment. However, exclusive farm-oriented work is still the most prevalent form of employment among rural women, engaging 66 per cent. The IHDS findings contradict the latest data of the government’s National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), which shows purely farm-based work as the biggest employer in the country. “It is a fact that the NSSO has not been able to adequately capture the combinations of different types of economic activities that people engage in,” said Preet Rustagi, a labour economist, professor and joint director at the New Delhi–based Institute for Human Development (IHD). According to the IHDS findings, non-farm work is now a bigger employer for rural men in Punjab, Haryana, Assam, north-eastern States, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The same is true for rural women as well in the two southern States. The IHDS confirms an alarming trend — the NSSO found so too — of a fall in the participation of women in the workforce — from 47 per cent women aged 15-59 in 2004-05 to 43.7 per cent in 2011-12. The participation rate, which considers all those employed or looking for work, for men is 78.9 per cent and 77.2 per cent in 2004-05 and 2011-12 respectively. While the fall in male participation is primarily explained by rising higher education enrolment, the work participation rate for women have fallen even for those in their 20s and 30s. The IHDS also confirms that wages have grown exponentially over the last decade. The daily agricultural labour wage has nearly tripled for men in the last seven years, while the non-agricultural wage has more than doubled. The wages of women workers, though still much less that male workers, have grown similarly. (The Hindu 25/3/14)


31. Distraught Maharashtra farmer attempts suicide in collector’s office (20)

Nagpur: Distraught over not getting compensation for losses suffered in the recent hailstorm in Maharashtra, a farmer consumed poison in the Yavatmal collectorate office, officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred late Monday. Farmer Janardhan Raut, 70, hails from Akpuri village and is now battling for life in a hospital. “There was this unfortunate incident just outside my office and we rushed him to hospital. We are taking details about the farmer, his debts, losses, etc,” Yavatmal collector Ashwin Muddal said. “We have found a suicide note from his person and we are investigating,” an official from Yavatmal police station said. According to Kishore Tiwari, chief of NGO Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, Raut had gone to the collectorate to enquire when he would get the compensation for losses suffered in the hailstorm. “He is also facing harassment from some private money lenders for old farm loans, details of which we are inquiring into,” Tiwari told IANS. The hailstorm and unseasonal rains lashed 28 of the 35 districts in the state in February-March, damaging or destroying standing crops in about 1.90 million hectares of farmland barring the coastal Konkan region. As many as 18 farmers have committed suicide in the Vidarbha region alone while the state-wide figure has crossed 100, Tiwari said. Despite announcements by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and a visit by a central assessment team, the farmers have not received any assistance, he added. “The largest number of suicides have taken place in Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra. We wonder if all the aid has been diverted to western Maharashtra which has barely reported any case of a farmer ending life in the past couple of weeks,” Tiwari said. He said the state government has already declared a relief package of about Rs.4,000 crore, but officials at the ground level say the amount would not be disbursed till the Lok Sabha elections are over. (Zee News 26/3/14)



32. 30 pc quota for women in central jobs: DMK (25)

Chennai: In a bid to improve living standards of the marginalised and minorities, the DMK made several promises in its manifesto, including 30 per cent reservation for women in central government jobs, proper implementation of reservation in PSUs for differently-abled, recognition of transgenders as the third gender and boost to self-respect (inter-caste) marriages across the country. In its election manifesto released by party chief M Karunanidhi on Tuesday, the DMK promised to include the fishing community in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list and create a separate ministry at the Centre to protect their interests in relation to other countries. Promising to espouse the cause of Tamils living across the globe, the DMK promised to press the Centre to take steps for conducting a referendum among the Tamils in Sri Lanka and appoint only Tamil envoys to nations which have a sizeable diaspora. While vowing to redeem Katchatheevu, an islet off Tamil Nadu coast ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1976, the DMK also promised to work for resettlement of Lankan refugees in India, after ascertaining their willingness. Sticking to its demand for implementation of the contentious Sethusamudram project, which it claimed would promote economic development in southern Tamil Nadu, the DMK said it would create a congenial atmosphere to again begin work by expediting disposal of cases pending before the apex court. The party also promised to seek waiver of farm loans, necessary laws to ensure construction of a second spaceport at Kulasekarapatinam in Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu, institutionalise Tamil as the official court language and additional language in central government institutions, appointment of 10 lakh women across the country as people welfare workers and a Constitutional amendment to abolish death penalty. (Deccan Herald 11/3/14)


33. OBCs, minorities encroaching on SC, ST quota (25)

LUCKNOW: Over 50% police stations in the state have station officers hailing from other backward classes and minorities, whereas number of officers from scheduled cast and tribe are less than 40%, reveals a Right to Information query. These appointments, applicant claims, violates government order on posting of officers and Supreme Court slab on reservation. The government order dated June 7, 2002 says clearly that 21% station officers in each district shall belong to Scheduled Caste (SC) and2% to Scheduled Tribes (ST) category persons. As per the RTI information obtained by RTI activist Dr Nutan Thakur from the DGP office, however, UP has a total of 1,447 police stations. Thus, as per the GO, a minimum of 303 station officers should have belonged to SC category and 30 to ST category. Against this, only 120 SC officers and one ST office have been posted as station officers. Further, the GO prescribes for 27% reservation for other backward classes, including minority communities which makes it 420 police stations. Against this, actually 614 station officers are from backward castes and 102 are from minority community, taking the total to 734. This, she said, makes up for more than 50% reservations and is clearly against the upper slab for reservation by the Supreme Court. (Times of India 14/3/14)


34. Karnataka has highest number of OBCs in police (25)

New Delhi: Southern states have the highest number of people belonging to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in their police forces, with Karnataka topping the list. Over 55 per cent of the state’s police personnel come from these communities, according to the latest data on police organisations released by the government think-tank Bureau of Police Research and Development. Karnataka had 50,333 OBC personnel out of a total of 91,169 as on January 1, 2013.The state had sanctioned 33 per cent reservation for OBCs in the force, but the presence of such personnel in Karnataka Police is 55.21 per cent.“The Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes, the traditional weaker sections, in India have been covered by affirmative action to accelerate the process of their socio-economic upliftment,” said the document. Tamil Nadu follows Karnataka with 48.86 per cent of its personnel coming from OBCs, followed by Kerala at 33.86 per cent and Andhra Pradesh at 23.63 per cent.At the pan-India level, there are 3,74,303 policemen from OBCs, constituting 16.94 per cent of the total of over 22 lakh personnel. (Deccan Herald 15/3/14)


35. 43 women among 318 candidates fielded by Congress (25)

Delhi: For all the claims of giving greater say to women this election, of the total 318 candidates announced so far by the Congress party just about 14 per cent happen to be women. The party has so far announced 43 women candidates. The party announced its third list late last night. The first list had 194 names while the second and third list announced featured 71 and 58 candidates respectively. Of 28 women candidates announced earlier in the first list, the party later brought it down to 26. Further, in the second and third list, the party selected 11 and six women candidates respectively for the polls. A month ago, while addressing an all-women rally in Tumkur, Congress vice-president stated that the opposition party, BJP did not support women. Further, he charged then that BJP didn’t want to give either positions or share its administration with women. Gandhi reiterated the view that the country can be transformed into a super power by giving more representation to the ‘fair sex’. Key highlights: 1) So far, the Congress party has announced 43 women candidates for the upcoming polls. 2) Till now, the party has offered less than 14 per cent seats to women. 3) Maximum 11 candidates have been fielded from Uttar Pradesh (UP) followed by Rajasthan (6), Madhya Pradesh (3), Bihar (3) etc. 4) The party has listed its first preference to enact the women’s reservation bill. This explains that why women remain grossly under-represented at the Indian Parliament. Just 11 per cent of seats were held by women in 15th Lok Sabha as against the global average of nearly 21 per cent.  As per state-wise list of Cong women candidates so far, maximum 11 candidates have been fielded from Uttar Pradesh (UP) followed by Rajasthan (6), Madhya Pradesh (3), Bihar (3), Chhattisgarh (3) etc. Not ignoring the importance of UP which represents 80 out of the 543 members of Lok Sabha, the party has fielded some prominent women candidates from there. For instance, former Uttar Pradesh PCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi has been made the candidate from Lucknow. Similarly, senior party leader Begum Noor Bano has been fielded from Moradabad, a Muslim-majority seat. Further, actress Nagma has received a ticket from Meerut. Other prominent women who are given tickets by the party include: Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece Karuna Shukla (from Chhatisgarh), actress Aparajita Mohanty (Odisha), and journalist Sucharita Mohanty (Odisha). Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar (Bihar) and sitting MP from Madhya Pradesh, Meenakshi Natrajan got selected to fight the upcoming general polls in the state. Likewise, Priya Sunil Dutt (Maharashtra), Girija Vyas (Rajasthan), Chandresh Kumari (Rajasthan), Jyoti Mirdha (Rajasthan), Rajesh Nandini Singh (Madhya Pradesh), Ranee Narah (Assam), Divya Spandana Ramya (Karnataka), Deepa Dashmunshi (West Bengal), and Mausam Noor (West Bengal) are some other sitting MPs who got re-nominated for the big event. Congress party’s has listed its first preference to enact the women’s reservation bill giving 33 per cent reservation to women in the Lok Sabha and assemblies. (Zee News 20/3/14)


36. Tribal Sangha demands rights (25)

Kokrajhar, March 23: The All-Assam Tribal Sangha has demanded reservation of majority seats for indi- genous people in the Assam Assembly. The Sangha adopted some important resolutions during its three-day 36th triennial general conference which concluded today after three days of colourful programmes at Mancotta in Dibrugarh. The Sangha said majority seats should be reserved for indigenous people of Assam in the state Assembly so that their rights and interests are protected and the minority indigenous communities have representatives in the Assembly. It also demanded that the rights and interests of the indigenous communities should be looked after for good, protection of tribal belts and blocks, eviction of illegal encroachers of tribal land, inquiry into the illegal mutation cases in tribal belts and blocks areas, land rights for the scheduled tribal forest dweller according to the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Sangha general secretary Aditya Kakhlary said they would discuss with the government and the BTC authorities on forest rights issue. “There is an urgent need to safeguard the tribal belts and blocks and protection of tribal lands from illegal encroachers,” he said. The Sangha also demanded enhancement of reservation for ST (plains) from 10 per cent to 15 per cent as per the 2011 census and inclusion of five more communities in list of ST (plains) in 2002. It criticised the state government for working against rights of tribal people saying the government and its machinery are not at all interested in proper implementation of reservation policy and rights of tribal people. Kakhlary said land issues are of foremost importance. “There is an internal strategy to grab tribal land and drive away the tribal people from their land,” he said. The apex tribal organisation criticised the Assam government for oppression and discrimination against the aboriginal people. “The tribal people are deliberately deprived of their rights by the state government,” Kakhlary said. He warned Dispur that this kind of discriminatory role and anti-tribal policy will not be tolerated and demanded implementation of the Assam Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Vacancies in Services and Post Amendment Act, 2012, in the state. (The Telegraph 24/3/14)


37. Congress seeks to woo upper caste with quota (25)

New Delhi: In a bid to lure the upper caste, the Congress manifesto promises of looking at the option giving reservation on economic ground without distorting the current facilities provided to Other Backward Classes (OBCs), Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). In its manifesto for the 2014 elections, which was released here on Wednesday, the party said, “The Congress is committed to finding a way forward for introducing reservation in education and employment for economically weaker sections of all communities without in any way affecting existing reservations for SCs, STs and OBCs.” It is now generally believed that this promise is a clear indication of the Congress’ attempt to bring back to its fold the traditional upper caste support base, as except for a few in the upper caste population, most of the Hindu castes are benefiting from the current reservation policy. “Undoubtedly, the BJP has played the OBC card in this election by projecting Narendra Modi (an OBC) as its prime ministerial candidate. The BJP has also for long been a favourite of upper castes among Hindus. Thus, the Congress had no option to play its upper castes card,” said an analyst. However, in a bid to balance out its overtures to upper castes, the party in its manifesto also expressed its commitment “to create national consensus on affirmative action for SCs and Sts in the private sector”. Taking the caste card further to ensure that the present equilibrium does not get disturbed, the manifesto also promises to establish “special commission for SCs, STs and OBCs to identify communities within each group, which have not benefited so far”. It also promises to ensure that the existing Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship for SC and ST candidates will be extended to students belonging to Other Backward Classes” (Asian Age 27/3/140


Posted by admin at 26 March 2014

Category: Uncategorized


1. 17 custodial deaths in three years: Govt (1)

CUTTACK: In last three years, at least 17 custodial deaths have taken place in the state. According to information obtained by human rights campaigner Biswapriya Kanungo through Right to Information (RTI) Act, the deaths occurred between April 6, 2010, and December 23, 2013. The figure includes three custodial deaths each in Bhubaneswar and Ganjam district, two deaths each at Keonjhar and Berhampur and one each at Sambalpur, Rourkela, Angul, Dhenkanal, Malkangiri, Mayurbhanj and Kandhamal. He had sought information from home department regarding compensation provided, inquiry done and accountability fixed on officials in the cases, but the authorities failed to provide them, the campaigner claimed. (Times of India 11/3/14)


2. Notice to Amit Shah in Ishrat Jahan case (1)

Ahmedabad: The CBI court‘s show cause notice asks the former Gujarat Minister of State for Home why he should not be made an accused in the case A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court here issued notices to the Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s close confidante Amit Shah in the 2004 Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. The CBI court’s show cause notice asked Mr. Shah, the then Minister of State for Home and presently l BJP general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh, why he should not be made an accused in the encounter case. Notices have also been issued to the then Ahmedabad Police Commissioner K.R. Kaushik and the CBI. This follows an application by Gopinath Pillai, father of Javed Pillai who was among the four victims of the encounter besides 18-year-old Mumbai girl Ishrat Jahan. The notices are returnable on March 26. The CBI filed two charge sheets in the fake encounter case naming seven Gujarat police officials and four Intelligence Bureau officials, including the then State IB chief Rajinder Kumar, as the accused. The names of Mr. Amit Shah and Mr. Kaushik did not figure in the charge sheet. (The Hindu 14/3/14)


3. BJP promises to repeal AFSPA (1)

IMPHAL: With minimum presence in the North-east, the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party is leaving no stone unturned to capitilise on Narendra Modi’s growing popularity in Manipur The Manipur unit of the BJP has been trying to win the hearts of the people of the State by pledging to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 if it comes to power. The State unit president Chaoba Thounaojam has been making the announcement. But people are taking it with a pinch of salt since the party had done nothing about it in the past. On the other hand, Deputy Chief Minister and PCC president Gaikhangam Gangmei recently said Manipur burned during the regime of the BJP led union government. It had extended the ceasefire with the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) on June 14, 2001 “without territorial limits.” On June 18, 2001 people from all walks of life had come out on the streets and torched offices of political parties, manhandled many elected representatives and torched the Assembly secretariat and offices of the Chief Minister and other Ministers and MLAs. 18 persons were killed in the police retaliation. Earlier Thounaojam launched a broadside against Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh contending that he had given his approval to the construction of the border fence deep inside Manipur. However the Chief Minister brushed it aside as misleading and not factual. Now the people’s agitation has fizzled out since the construction work has been suspended. The BJP has also been harping on the alleged corruption of the Loktak Development Authority which is chaired by the Chief Minister. However, in the absence of support from other political parties, nothing came out of the demand made on the basis of the expose by a news magazine. Thounaojam says there is corruption everywhere and that if the BJP comes to power some politicians in Manipur will be incarcerated. However sources in the ruling Congress brush aside these strident charges saying the state unit of the BJP is on a fishing expedition. They said that it has been failing to secure a single seat in the 60 member Manipur Assembly for the last two terms. They said that a “party hopper like Thounaojam” cannot befool the people. Meanwhile the BJP has fielded a former academic, R.K. Ranjan, in the general Lok Sabha seat. Another former academic and minister has also been fielded in the reserved seat. (The Hindu 17/3/14)


4. Police atrocities form bulk of rights violations: Hungund (1)

Mangalore: A bulk of the human rights violations in the State refer to police atrocities; if the police follow procedure, the violations in the State will reduce drastically, said C.G. Hungund, Member of Karnataka State Human Rights Commission, here on Sunday. Delivering a talk at ‘Praja dharma’, a convention of human rights awareness held here, Mr. Hungund estimated that up to 70 per cent of the complaints in Bangalore were of police atrocities, while up to 50 per cent of the complaints in other districts involved the police department. “I don’t agree with the contention that human rights comes in the way of the police maintaining law and order. All we ask for is that they follow procedure during arrest. Illegal custody occurs as the police believe it is the only way to maintain peace,” said Mr. Hungund, and added that there was a need to sensitise officers who believed that human rights was low priority. The KHRC member said modernisation and privatisation had led to issues such as female foeticide, enforcement of the Right to Education Act, and bonded labour — albeit existing in a “concealed form” of low wages and lack of benefits – and inter-country adoption, which amounted to “human trafficking” – that continued to persist in the state and needed the attention of human rights activists. “Violations such as moral policing come out of modernisation and deviation from our culture,” said Mr. Hungund. U.T. Khader, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, believed that using “human rights” as an excuse to release anti-social elements came in the way of police functioning. “Yes, there are numerous cases of police not taking complaints and other violations. But, there are cases when their hands have been tied after the culprit starts to take shield under human rights,” he said . The programme, organised by the nongovernmental organisation Human Rights Federation of India, also saw eight activists from Uttara Kannada, Hassan, Udupi, Chikmagalur, Shimo (The Hindu 17/3/14)


5. Mother seeks compensation for son’s custodial death (1)

MADURAI: Home secretary and director general of police will have to answer on a plea seeking Rs 15 lakh compensation for the death of a youth following custodial torture. On Monday, the high court order to issue notices to them came up during the hearing on a petition filed by the victim’s 65-year-old mother, Periyamangi. Her 24-year-old son Pandiyaran died last November after alleged torture in police custody. Periyamangi is a resident of Anaiyur in Madurai. According to the petitioner, Pandiyaran, alias Rasukutti, had eloped on November 13 with a girl studying in class 12. Pandiyaran, who was working as a van driver at a private school in Madurai, was in love with a student of the same institute. After the girl’s father lodged a complaint before Koodalputhur police in Madurai, the lovers surrendered at Kariyapatti police station. Koodalputhur police reached Kariyapatti in Virudhunagar, along with the petitioner, girl’s parents and a few others. A friend of Pandiyaran had informed police that both the boy and the girl were staying at the house of the van owner in Kariyapatti. At the Kariyapatti police station, petitioner’s son was assaulted by two people, including sub inspector, in the presence of the petitioner. She was sent out of the station by the police after she wept. Later, when Periyamangi returned to the station, she saw police thrashing Pandiyaran and subsequently, being taken to a nearby house. Later, she was told that her son committed suicide. Seeking action against concerned police personnel, Periyamangi had sent representation to the state human rights commission (SHRC). As there was no follow up on it, she filed a petition at the high court bench which directed the SHRC to look into her complaint, the petition said. Periyamangi further said that her son who surrendered before the police should have been produced before the court as per legal provisions. But, police allegedly killed him and they continue in the service. Hence, they should be punished and be made liable to pay compensation of Rs 15 lakh to her. The court had recently passed orders transferring the investigation to the CBCID. (Times of India 18/3/14)


6. CBI court acquits ex-Haryana DGP in custodial killing case (1)

NEW DELHI: Nearly 20 years after two persons were killed in police custody, a special CBI court in Ambala convicted two persons on Tuesday even as three other police officers, including the then Director General of Haryana Police Lachman Dass have been acquitted. Besides Dass, the then SP (Vigilance) Ved Parkash and head constable Sube Singh were also allowed to go scot-free. The case relates to Jitender Pahal and Randhir Singh, both known criminals, who were killed while being taken from Jind to Sonipat in police custody on October 25, 1994. On the petition of Pahal’s mother, Punjab and Haryana high court had directed CBI to take over probe in the matter as the petitioner had alleged role of Haryana police officers in the killing of the two. Ambala special court convicted two policemen, Nar Singh and Ramesh Chander. Arguments for quantum of sentence will be heard on March 20. During the probe, CBI found that Pahal and Singh were known criminals in Haryana and were lodged in the prisons while Lachman Dass was serving as DG (Prisons) in the state. In 1991, a friend of Dass’s son Bunty, Budh Ram entered in a clash with Pahal. In November 1991, Bunty visited Ambala prison where Pahal was lodged and both threatened each other with dire consequences. “The CBI investigation disclosed that during the period from August 24, 1994 to April 30, 1995, Dass while posted as DGP Haryana entered into a criminal conspiracy with Ved Prakash Verma, Nar Singh, Ramesh Chander, Sube Singh and Mangat Singh Gill and in pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy eliminated both Jitender Pahal and Randhir Singh,” CBI alleged in its chargesheet. The agency charged Dass along with others with murder and furnishing false evidence. During the trial Gill died. “The court of Ambala district and sessions judge has held accused Nar Singh and Ramesh Chander guilty for commission of offences of murder while accused Lachman Dass, V P Verma and Sube Singh have been acquitted,” CBI spokesperson said. (Times of India 19/3/14)


7. Centre to discuss policy on encounters with states (1)

New Delhi: Unable to come up with a national policy on encounters, the Centre will hold consultations with state governments next week on the contentious issue of guidelines to be followed in instances of exchange of fire between police and terrorists/other criminals. The mha had earlier objected to Narendra Modi-led Gujarat government’s demand for a national policy on encounter cases arguing that law and order being a state subject, the Centre cannot frame a unilateral policy on the matter. The two-day meeting convened by Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami is likely to be attended by the chief secretaries from the states and DGPs, said officials. In 2012, the Gujarat government facing flak for a large number of encounter deaths during Modi’s regime moved the apex court demanding a national policy. More than two dozen police officials in Gujarat are facing CBI probe in alleged fake encounter cases of Ishrat Jahan, Sohrabuddin Sheikh and Sadiq Jamal. The MHA is likely to suggest states to come up with their own guidelines which can be the template for a national policy for the police force across the country later. However, they cautioned that each situation will demand a different response and it will be difficult for any police force to follow a standard operating procedure (SoP) in a situation which warrants a gunfight. The police response will vary, depending on if terrorists, Maoist or criminals are facing them, said officials A senior Home Ministry official said it will be difficult to implement such a policy in troubled areas of North East and Jammu & Kashmir but may lead to controversy because of the AFSPA. The Home Secretary will also take stock of security arrangements for the Lok Sabha elections. The Gujarat government had demanded a national policy arguing that it would serve to stop extra-judicial killings under the garb of fake encounters and at the same time ensure that police officers discharging their duties honestly against terrorist organisations/organised criminals are not demoralised by motivated allegations. The Gujarat police had taken the stand that the policemen from the state were being punished while police officers in other states were feted for gunning down terrorists. Highlighting zero tolerance to terrorism, the Gujarat government claimed it is a vigilant state. Gujarat police said it is tough for policemen armed with service revolvers to protect citizens from terrorists carrying AK-56, and be accused of engineering fake encounters. (Indian Express 19/3/14)


8. Two Haryana policemen get life sentence for fake encounter (1)

Ambala: Two Haryana policemen have been sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court for killing two criminals in a fake encounter in 1994 even as it acquitted the then DGP of the state. The then Inspector Nar Singh and Constable Ramesh Chander were sentenced yesterday for their involvement in the Jitender Pahal encounter case and slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 each. The then Director General of Haryana Police Lachman Dass and two other policemen have been acquitted. The case relates to Pahal and Randhir Singh, both known criminals, who were killed while being taken from Jind to Sonepat in police custody on October 25, 1994. On the petition of Pahal’s mother, Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed CBI to take over probe in the matter as the petitioner had alleged the role of Haryana Police officials in the killing of the two. During the probe, CBI found that Pahal and Singh were were lodged in the prisons while Lachman Dass was serving as DG Prisons in the state. In 1991, a friend of Dass’ son Bunty Budh Ram was involved in a clash with Pahal. In November 1991, Bunty visited Ambala prison where Pahal was lodged and both threatened each other with dire consequences. “The CBI investigation disclosed that during the period from August 24, 1994 to April 30, 1995, Dass while posted as DGP Haryana entered into a criminal conspiracy with Ved Prakash Verma, Nar Singh, Ramesh Chander, Sube Singh and Mangat Singh Gill and in pursuance of the said criminal conspiracy eliminated both Jitender Pahal and Randhir Singh,” CBI had alleged in its charge sheet. The agency charged Dass along with others with murder and furnishing false evidence. Gill died during the trial. (Zee News 22/3/14)


9. Activists write open letter to political parties on AFSPA repeal (1)

New Delhi: Around a hundred civil society members and several rights organisations have endorsed an open letter to all political parties urging them to take up the issue of repeal of AFSPA (Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958) imposed in the North-East and Jammu & Kashmir. The concerns of people in AFSPA-imposed states are being ignored while promises of development, secularism and corruption are being made in rallies and public meeting, says the letter issued by the ‘Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign’. Irom Sharmila, known as the “Iron lady of Manipur’, has been on fast since 13 years demanding repeal of AFSPA. “Your promises of development are incomplete and impossible without the repeal of AFSPA. Where is the place for your symbols of ‘development’ in the cities torn apart regularly by the repressive state machinery and military? Where schools and public parks are transformed into military camps?” adds the letter. On the “promise of challenging corruption” the letter says “You cannot challenge corruption without challenging AFSPA because AFSPA is the face of corruption — a corruption of humanity.” As of now, only the CPI(M) has included the issue in its election manifesto. Several political parties, such as BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Janata Dal (United) and Left parties have assured support to the demand of AFSPA repeal. Among the signatories to the letter are Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA Secretary, Advocate Vrinda Grover, activists Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Nandini Sundar, Lalita Ramdas journalist N Jayaram, Nandita Narain of Delhi University and various human rights activists, workers and women’s organisations. (The Hindu 24/3/14)



10. Pictures of missing girls at GB Road not helpful in tracing them: police (1)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police’s idea of putting up pictures of trafficked and missing girls on a notice board hanging outside the police post on GB Road has proved to be a dud as policemen posted there say that no one has ever come to them with information on any of these girls. The idea was brought in by the last Deputy Commissioner of Police Central District Devesh Srivastva about a year ago. “If a person going inside any of the brothels spots a girl whose picture is displayed on this board, he can immediately inform us and we can rescue the girl,” said a police officer explaining the idea behind the notice board, adding that they have not received any help from this so far. A constable posted at the police post said: “I have been posted here for the last six months and never has a single person come to the police booth with any information about the girls whose pictures are displayed here.” Another one added, “People keep coming here to stick pictures of the women who have gone missing but we have not received any clue on a missing woman through this notice board.” While senior police officers refused to comment on the utility of this idea, some social activists slammed it saying it was destined to fail. “As soon as a person puts up a picture of a missing girl on a notice board, the information reaches the brothel where the girl is kept and the brothel owners either hide the girl or send her somewhere in Meerut or Agra for sometime, so that there is no possibility of people tracing them there,” said Rishi Kant, who works for rescuing trafficked girls. Another reason because of which the plan failed was that most of the people who come to GB Road are either those who come looking for a brothel or businessmen who come for work at the hardware market below. “Neither are interested in looking at the pictures of these girls,” quipped a police officer. According to the data gathered by an NGO working in the field of trafficking, almost 600 girls were trafficked to Delhi in the last two year and 60 to 70 per cent of them were brought to GB Road. However, the number of girls rescued out of them is miniscule. (The Hindu 12/3/14)


11. ‘Ignorance Major Cause of Human Trafficking’ (1)

BERHAMPUR: Lack of public awareness is the major cause for increasing human trafficking from the State and the organised crime continues to flourish under political patronage.Public intervention is a must to check the social menace dogging the Sstate. This was the opinon of speakers at a workshop on human trafficking organised by Seva, an NGO, which also highlighted that Berhampur railway station is the main transit point from where children mostly girls in the age group of 10 to 20 years from Ganjam, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Rayagada, Koraput and Malkangiri are being sent to places like Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Assam for commercial and sexual exploitation. The traffickers alure the children from poor families in the name of employment and marriages and in turn use them for wrong purposes. Secretary of Seva, Laka Sahu quoting police records,  said 87 human trafficking cases were registered in 2012. Of those, 72 related to women. While 164 persons were arrested in this connection, police rescued 200 victims. However, the figure doubled in 2013. Out of 421 human trafficking cases registered in the State during the year, 391 concerned women. While 299 persons were arrested in this connection, 464 victims were rescued. More than 35 members of different NGOs participated in the workshop where some rescued victims also narrated their ordeals. (Indian Express 22/3/14)


12. ‘Andhra one of the leading states in trafficking of women, kids’ (1)

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh, along with West Bengal and Maharashtra, witnesses the highest number of trafficking cases, judicial and law enforcement officials said on Saturday. Speaking at a one-day colloquium organized by the AP Judicial Academy, the experts attributed the thriving trafficking to loopholes in the law. “Along with Maharashtra and West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh reports high incidents of trafficking. It is going on with the support of politicians and officials in key posts,” said AP high court Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta. He appealed to the judges in the gathering to take up trafficking cases and deliver justice quickly. Legal experts said various factors, including poverty and lack of education, drives people to trafficking. To protect victims from further exploitation, Justice K G Shankar said judges should restrain from levying huge monetary fines on convicts, who may later harass other victims to recover the penalty costs. Retired IPS officer S Umpathi, who is known for his work to curb trafficking, highlighted the magnitude of the problem saying an abducted girl may be subjected to abuse from hundreds of clients within the first week itself. “About 32 lakh women and children in the country are victims of trafficking, which thrives due to a nexus with local police officials and the support of the wealthy,” he said. The experts also spoke on the need to step up rehabilitation facilities for rescued victims. They said awareness should be created in rural areas from where women and girls are lured or abducted, as re-entry into the family and community becomes very difficult for the rescued victim. “The only government home for rehabilitation of victims in Kukatpally is not functional, forcing us to rely on public homes. Also, given the magnitude of the crime, there is no dedicated budget to tackle it,” Umpathi said. The audience mostly comprised the members of the AP Judicial Academy and public prosecutors, in addition to representatives from the ministry of home affairs. (Times of India 23/3/14)


13. Prioritise cases of human trafficking, judges urged (1)

Hyderabad:  “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Chief Justice Kalyan Jyoti Sengupta said as much when he shook the societal conscience to the menace posed by human trafficking. At a judicial colloquium here on Saturday, Justice Sengupta called for restoring the civic sense of people to the problem. The colloquium was organised by the A.P. Judicial Academy in coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs to examine human trafficking, which had become a global phenomenon and draw strategies to tackle the challenges posed to judicial, police and administrative wings of government. In a touching address, Justice Sengupta gave a graphic account of how the syndicate lured young girls with the promise of good salary and luxurious lifestyle. Justice K.G. Shankar of the High Court recalled the case of a young girl who was booked under section 294 IPC. The girl admitted to the offence and when he was about to impose penalty on her, she pleaded to be sent to jail for three months. When quizzed, the girl said she desperately needed some rest. If she was let off with a fine, her body would be exploited further, she cried. Justice Shanker urged judges to give top priority to cases of human trafficking and show compassion to the victims who were arraigned as accused. Justice R. Subhash Reddy, president, A.P. Judicial Academy, said human trafficking had become the third largest source of making-money after arms smuggling and drugs. He recalled a report in The Hindu about the exploitation of children by a circus company at Goa for 14 long years to show how youngsters were being abused. Speakers touched upon human trafficking from various perspectives. (The Hindu 24/3/14)


14. Couple booked for trafficking a maid from Assam (1)

NAGPUR: Three persons, including a couple, have been booked for procuring a girl from Assam and forcing her to work as a domestic help. Sunita (name changed) was brought from Assam with hordes of other girls on the promise of getting them jobs in factories and other such establishments, but later made to work as domestic helps. An offence has been registered against Gunjam and Satyam Rusiya along with Adam Horpad at Sadar police station following an order from the court. Sunita was brought to Delhi from Assam in 2012. She was forced to work as a domestic help in Delhi before being shifted to the city. Sunita was working as a help at the residence of Rusiyas in Sadar. Since she was reluctantly working here, the Rusiyas had informed the agency in Delhi that had sent Sunita to their residence. An agent had been sent to take Sunita back to Delhi. However, Sunita, who claims to have been underpaid, decided to stay back in the city to fight a case. Social worker Radhika Hedao and eunuch community from Pachpaoli supported Sunita and ensured she approached the cops at Sadar police station. However, offence was not registered for more than a month despite much efforts by the social workers, following which they approached the court, which directed filing of a complaint. (Times of India 26/3/14)



15. HIV patients stage protest against drug scarcity (3)

MUMBAI: HIV/AIDS patients are going to protest against the scarce supply of drugs that requires them to frequent the treatment centres way too often. The protest is going to be staged outside the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS) office in Wadala on Thursday. Patients are livid that they are given only a week’s supply of the antiretroviral therapy medicines when the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) allows the patients to take home a month’s quota. MSACS is responsible for giving free HIV drugs medicines to to all patients across the state, but has done little to tackle the severe shortage of HIV medicines. “Patients from as far as Nagpur and Sindhudurg and several other parts of the state have to travel every week to Mumbai to get these medicines. They cannot do this forever managing their jobs and concealed HIV status at workplaces or risk losing their jobs and dignities, because of the stigma attached to the illness,” said one of the patients. (Times of India 13/3/14)


16. Rare female to female HIV transmission detected (3)

Texas: According to media reports, a Texas woman has apparently contracted HIV through sexual contact with another woman, the Centres for Disease Control reported on Thursday, a rare female to female transmission of the virus. Testing confirmed the 46 year old woman with newly diagnosed HIV “had a virus virtually identical to that of her female partner, who was diagnosed previously with HIV and who had stopped receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2010,” according to the CDC’s Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report, a CNN  report said. “HIV transmission through female to female sexual contact “has been reported rarely and is difficult to ascertain,” officials were quoted as  saying in the report. Past confirmation of such transmission “has been difficult because other risk factors almost always are present or cannot be ruled out,” the report said. “In this case, other risk factors for HIV transmission were not reported by the newly infected woman, and the viruses infecting the two women were virtually identical.” The CDC said it was contacted by the Houston department of health about the case in August 2012. The woman newly diagnosed with HIV did not report any other risk factors, such as injection drug use, tattooing, transfusions or transplants, officials said. The woman is believed to have been infected by her 43 year old sexual partner, the CDC said. She told officials the woman was her only sexual partner six months before she tested positive. (Deccan Herald 15/3/14)


17. Most hospitals refuse to treat HIV patients (3)

COIMBATORE: A day after a private hospital in Race Course in the city refused to treat a 16-year-old boy further because he was HIV positive, NGOs working with HIV positive patients said almost 98% of private institutions in the city reject patients if they are HIV infected. Kamakshi (name changed), 43, a house-wife who was HIV positive had to undergo a simple colonoscopy because her physician advised her to do so after she complained of chronic stomach pain. She approached a mid-level hospital in Sundarapuram and got her admission form done. However, when she told the staff that she was HIV positive, they returned her admission and claimed they had too many patients lined up for colonoscopy for the next two days and didn’t have a vacant bed even in the general ward. “They asked me to a call three days later or better approach a government hospital for the test,” she said. The Coimbatore Positive Network, a city-based NGO, said the polite rejection that Kamakshi received was better than usual. “Almost all private hospitals in the city and surrounding districts refuse to treat or operate on HIV patients,” said the network’s president M Somesh. “They tell patients that they don’t have facilities or infrastructure to treat HIV positive people,” he said. They tell them to go to government hospitals in Coimbatore or Pollachi, he added. A campaign by the network sensitization programmes held by Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TANSACS), three large hospitals have agreed to treat and operate HIV patients. “We have got them to conduct around 15 deliveries so far,” says Somesh. However, these hospitals charge HIV patients twice the amount they take from regular patients. “They claim they have to purchase disposable instruments and gear such as gloves, masks, costumes which they have to dispose after one use and hence the higher charge,” said Somesh. But we are glad that they at least treat us, so we have learned to bear the costs, he said. Though Coimbatore district has more than 10,300 registered HIV positive patients, the two government hospitals and one link centre are the only venues where a patient can get Anti retroviral therapy (ART) at subsidised rate. “Even if other private hospitals offer ART, they do not tell us. In fact, hospitals that treat HIV positive patients do not want it to be known,” said Somesh. Hospitals said they can’t be blamed, because ART medication is expensive and the general public is scared of being treated along-side HIV positive patients. “We have a separate wing to treat HIV patients, conduct surgeries and even do deliveries. We do not publicise it much because we do not want our general patients to live in fear of a transfusion mistake or infection,” said a doctor at one of the hospitals that treat HIV patients. “We do not want doctors to lose out on their normal patients,” he added. Surprisingly, not a single complaint has been filed against any hospital for rejecting a HIV positive patient. “We have not got any such complaints against a hospital so far,” said Dr A S Valan, regional coordinator, TANSACS. “When we get such a complaint we will refer it to the Indian Medical Association and sensitise the particular hospital,” he says. The law clearly mentions that HIV patients can’t be discriminated against. IMA officials said many hospitals refuse HIV patients not because they intend to discriminate but simply because “they lack the expertise to treat them”. “Treatment of HIV patients is becoming a specialty on its own. For example, you need to understand the stage of the virus and there are drugs which can’t be prescribed along with ART drugs,” said IMA state president Dr M Balasubramanian. This is a far cry from Chennai where almost all big hospitals have started treating HIV patients. “We haven’t got any complaints from our members about being turned away from a hospital, despite them being very poor,” says S Noori, president, South India Positive Network. (Times of India 16/3/14)


18. Past HIV vaccine trials pave way for new treatment (3)

Washington: A multi-national research team led by Duke Medicine scientists has identified a subclass of antibodies associated with an effective immune response to an HIV vaccine. Earlier analyses of the results of that trial, known as RV144, suggested that antibodies to sites within a part of the HIV envelope called V1V2 correlated with reduced risk of HIV infection. These antibodies belong to a class called immunoglobulin G, or IgG. The new studies by two independent laboratories both found that only one subclass of V1V2-directed IgG antibodies—the IgG3 subclass—is associated with antiviral responses linked to the reduced risk of HIV infection seen in RV144. The experiments were led by Georgia D. Tomaras, PhD, of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, and Galit Alter, PhD, of the Ragon Institute, with funding in part from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. In the study led by Tomaras, scientists found that V1V2-specific IgG3 antibodies correlated with a decreased risk of infection in RV144 vaccinees and were linked to HIV-eliminating activity. The researchers also discovered that the level of V1V2-specific IgG3 antibodies in vaccinees’ blood waned rapidly, as did the efficacy of the investigational vaccines tested in the RV144 trial (from 60% efficacy at 12 months post-vaccination to 31.2% efficacy at 42 months). The study led by Dr. Alter demonstrated that RV144 vaccination induced antibodies able to direct multiple, coordinated HIV-eliminating activities, and that these activities were conducted primarily by V1V2-specific IgG3 antibodies. The finding has been published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. (DNA 20/3/14)


19. HIV patients 50 times more likely to develop TB (3)

New Delhi, March 23 : People infected with HIV have more chances of getting infected with tuberculosis – often fatally – and should get themselves tested in time as it can be cured if diagnosed early, experts said. “Ten percent of HIV patients are at the risk of suffering severe consequences of TB due to their low immune power,” Neeraj Gupta, senior consultant pulmonology, Paras Hospital, Gurgaon, told IANS. “HIV positive patients should regularly get themselves screened for the sputum and other mandatory tests,” he added. Gupta said that 80 percent of the people in India are likely to be affected by tuberculosis. “But among them, the HIV patients are more prone to the disease, which intensifies as the immune power among the patients keeps on decreasing,” he said. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 60 percent of the HIV patients in the world die due to TB. Between 2010-13, a total number of 3,80,000 HIV patients have died due to the disease – the highest in the last one decade, according to health officials. There are 2.2 million tuberculosis patients in India, which makes it the world’s highest TB-burden country. TB killed 1.3 million people worldwide in 2012 and India alone accounted for 26 percent of the total cases, according to WHO. Shashi Baliyan, managing director, Clearmedi Healthcare Private Limited, said an “estimated one third of the 40 million people living with HIV worldwide are co-infected with tuberculosis”.”People with HIV are up to 50 times more likely to develop TB in a given year than HIV negative people,” he added. B.R. Das, president, research and innovation, mentor-molecular pathology and clinical research services, SRL Diagnostics Limited said that in the active stage, patients infected with the disease show symptoms like weight loss, loss of appetite along with evening rise of temperature. Gupta said that though the symptoms remain hidden, fever and cough for more than three weeks could be worrisome. “If a HIV infected patient suffering from fever and cough for a long time does not respond to the treatment, he/she should immediately get all the tests for TB done,” he said. The biggest problem with HIV-infected patients is that they ignore problems of fever and cough, said Gupta. “HIV patients do not even bother to get the tests done for TB done as they believe that suffering from HIV is the end of their life. But they need to understand that by ignoring symptoms synonymous to TB, they are inviting death much faster than the death caused by HIV,” he said. “As both HIV and TB are curable, it is important for people to realise this and get it diagnosed early and get cured,” he added. Baliyan added that TB remains a leading cause of death among people living with HIV. “Many people infected with HIV in the developing countries develop TB as the first manifestation of AIDS,” he said. He suggested a few remedies which include access to quality diagnostics. “Political commitment for a sustained TB and HIV control, access to quality diagnostics, access to standardized and uninterrupted supply of medicines, surveillance and recording system and social awareness form the key suggestions,” he said. (New Kerala 23/3/14)


20. HIV+ patients to get 3rd-line treatment at JJ hospital soon (3)

MUMBAI: Due to growing resistance to second-line anti-retroviral therapy (ART) among HIV-positive people, the National AIDS Control Organisation (Naco) will soon roll out the third-line regimen. State government-run JJ Hospital in Byculla will be one of the 10 centres across the country where these specialized drugs will be distributed free of cost. “The decision has already been taken, but the drug-procuring process will take time,” said Dr B B Rewari, Naco’s national programme officer (ART). But the rollout should take place within six months, added Dr Rewari, who was in the city to attend the ongoing HIV Congress. India rolled out free ART in 2008, with 7.5 lakh people availing of it in 2014. Of these, around 7,500 HIV-positive people were moved to the second-line regimen after developing resistance. “Of these, 250 people are showing resistance to the second-line drugs as well,” said Dr Rewari. However, the government plans to prepare dosages of the third-line regimen for up to 1,000 patients. (Times of India 23/3/14)


21. ‘Provide Good Food for HIV Patients’ (3)

BANGALORE: The Karnataka State HIV-positives Welfare Association on Sunday asked the government to ensure that nutritious and good quality food is provided in all Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) centres in the state. Association president V A Nagaraj said he would submit a memorandum on measures needed to help people living with HIV to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Monday. “Free bus and train passes must be provided to individuals affected by HIV and patients who are admitted to government hospitals should be given free medicines,” he said. He also asked the government to set up special education funds for children of people suffering from HIV. (New Indian Express 24/3/14)


22. Suicides by HIV-TB patients stress need for counselors (3)

MUMBAI: Two alleged suicides of HIV-TB patients in a span of 45 days at Sewri TB Hospital have put the spotlight back on the need for counsellors at the city’s biggest TB hospital. Shockingly, the hospital that treats over 850 patients at any given point of time does not have a single full-time counsellor. On Monday, an HIV-positive woman, who was admitted to the hospital, about 10 days ago for multidrug-resistant TB (MDR) treatment allegedly jumped off the lift duct on the first floor of the hospital. Her brother and his wife had paid her a visit just a few hours before she allegedly committed suicide. The autopsy report showed that she died of head injury. On February, it was a 19-year-old boy from Bandra who slashed his wrist after he could no longer bear to go through the long-drawn treatment regime. “MDRTB treatment lasts for up to two years during which the patient can suffer from adverse effects ranging from nausea, deafness, blindness, among other things. The patient needs to be constantly motivated to take the medicines,” a senior public health official said. Currently, there is only one counsellor from Medicine Sans Frontiers visiting the Sewri hospital. Tnn “Counselling should be made mandatory for resistant TB cases. They suffer from extreme mood swings. Most of them endure enormous financial and personal hardships that inadvertently affect their treatment,” said a senior doctor from the TB hospital. The TB Hospital is already reeling under vacancies. For instance, only eleven assistant medical officer posts out of 27 are filled up. The hospital is running without two of its deputy medical superintendents. A BMC official, however, said that the situation will soon change. “Sewri TB Hospital will get four counsellors for its DOTS plus centres and so will KEM, Nair and Sion hospitals. The posts have already been sanctioned from the centre under the Revised National Tuberculosis Programme (RNTCP),” the official said. (Times of India 26/3/14)



23. Odisha fixes Jan 1 as cut-off date for land prices under new law (4)

Bhubaneswar: The state government has decided to fix January 1, 2014, as the cut-off date to evaluate the benchmark value of land, the same day when the revised land acquisition law, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (RFCTLAR&R), 2013, came into effect. The date would be applicable for finalising rates of land acquisition cases initiated before 2014. The new law has provision that the prices of the land must be taken into account from the date of the issue of initial land acquisition notification. But in cases where land acquisition process has already been initiated and price finalisation notice has not been served by the end of December, 2013, there was no clear instruction as to which date to be considered as cutoff date as per the revised law. “The new act does not indicate any cut-off date for those cases already initiated under the old act. In such a situation, it would be most appropriate to accept the date of coming into force of the RFCTLAR&R, 2013, as the cut-off date for determination of market value of land in those land acquisition cases initiated prior to December 31, 2013,” said additional chief secretary (revenue) Tara Dutt in a circular to all collectors last month. The revised act provides for better compensation for private land to be acquired for government or private projects. It includes calculation of 12 per cent increase of land price every year from the date of price notice along with all other immovable property prices on the land such as trees and houses. Besides, the land losers will be entitled to receive 100 percent solatium making the effective the land price double of the value after considering all criteria to fix the rate. The government has asked the collectors to submit data for showing the inventory of land acquisition processes that has not been completed. Though the new act makes land acquisition process costlier, major projects would not be affected as the land acquisition process for these projects had started earlier. Land acquisition for steel projects of Posco, Essar, Jindal Steel and Power Ltd, Tata Steel and power projects such as Odisha Ultra Mega Power Project had begun couple of years back with several people already receiving compensation for their land. However, upcoming steel projects along with many coal mining projects could face the blow due to the new rates applicable as per the revised law. Several port projects announced by the state government might also get hampered by the new land law, sources said. (Business Standard 11/3/14)


24. Poll code hits land acquisition for Gannavaram airport’s expansion (4)

VIJAYAWADA: The Gannavaram airport expansion process is likely to take some more time as the district administration is awaiting orders from the government for land acquisition. The payment of compensation could be a violation of model code of conduct hence the proposed acquisition may take some more time, according to officials. “The model code of conduct will not come in the way for land acquisition process. But, the payment of compensation will attract provisions of code,” said an official, who didn’t want to be identified. However, the official said that there shouldn’t be any problem in going ahead with acquisition process as the payment of compensation would come into picture at the end. The government would acquire little above 490 acres for the expansion . Notwithstanding, there is a talk in the villages that the government is likely to pay Rs. 35 lakh to Rs. 1 crore per acre. The government is proposing to acquire 243 acres at Buddhavaram, 133 acres at Kesarapalli and 115 acres at Ajjampudi villages. Initially, there was resistance from farmers towards acquisition but it subsided after assurance from officials that compensation will be paid according to the New Land Acquisition Act. The acquisition process is now suspended as the officials are yet to receive guidelines on payment of compensation and orders to go ahead with the acquisition. The district higher-ups are not willing to comment on the compensation to be paid to the farmers saying that they are yet to receive the guidelines on fixing the price. They, however, are quick to add that the compensation will be agreeable to the farmers who are giving their lands. The State government had entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for expansion and development of the airport in 2007. As per the MoU, a modern passenger terminal building and hangers were to be built by 2009. The ILS and Automation of the Air Traffic Control (ATC) were some of the major developmental works taken up after the 2007. (The Hindu 16/3/14)


25. Forum to create awareness on Gadgil panel report (4)

Mangalore: A series of programmes to create awareness and gather support for the implementation of the Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report will begin in the district with a public discussion at Kudremukh National Park near Aladangady in Belthangady taluk on April 1. Suma Nagesh from Chikmagalur-based Save Democracy Forum told presspersons here on Monday that the programme would dispel myths about the report among forest-dwellers, while highlighting the “negative” aspects of the K. Kasturirangan Commission report that was commissioned to replace the Gadgil panel report. “The Gadgil panel report sought to comprehensively conserve the Western Ghats, which is a bio-diversity hotspot. The government conveniently used the Kasturirangan report to reject the Gadgil report. We have petitioned the President to reconsider the Gadgil committee report, while also creating awareness among the tribal people and forest-dwellers about the report,” said Mr. Nagesh, referring to a letter written to Pranab Mukherjee on March 15. He blamed vested interests, industrial lobbies, and political representatives for creating fear among farmers about displacement if the reports were implemented. “The only fear is that mining and industries will shut down. The Gadgil panel report clearly states that forest-dwellers were needed in conservation projects and it does not advocate for their displacement,” he said. The meet will also discuss the government’s “surreptitious attempts” at displacing tribal people from KNP, said Harish Malekudiya, a resident of Aladangady. “The government refuses to give us basic amenities, while attempting to lure us with money to leave our homes. We don’t want to shift elsewhere, but the government is making it difficult to stay on,” he said. Mr. Gadgil himself will address the Kudremukh forest-dwellers — some of whom are fighting against displacement — on April 1. Apart from him, activist S.R. Hiremath and writer Na. D’Souza, who had criticised the government on their “inactivity” over conserving the ghats, are expected to participate. The group will travel around the six States through which the Western Ghats traverses, and distribute materials and books in local languages elaborating on the need to implement the WGEEP report. An integral part of the organisation’s demand is the scrapping of the Yettinahole project, which they called a hasty decision that endangers the ghats. (The Hindu 18/3/14)


26. Navi Mumbai Airport: CIDCO might start land acquisition afresh (4)

Mumbai: The state-run City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), nodal agency for the Navi Mumbai international airport, will have to start afresh the land acquisition process for 271 hectares under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2014, if the villagers opposing the acquisition fail to come on board. This is necessary as the validity of the notices served in phases under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to the project affected persons (PAPs) in 2012 would be over in July. CIDCO would have to serve new notices for the acquisition of 271 hectares of private land from six of the  17 villages under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2014. PAPs from these villages are opposed to land acquisition and they have refused to accept the state government’s compensation package announced in November last year. According to the provisions of the new act, land acquisition would be possible only after seeking approval from 70 per cent of the PAPs. Besides, under the new act, the compensation to PAPs would be four times of the prevailing market rate. Of the total area of 2,268 hectares proposed for the aeronautical and non-aeronautical works, 1,572 hectares is already in CIDCO’s possession. Of the 2,268 hectares, the core airport area would be 1,160 hectares. Despite several rounds of negotiations with villagers, CIDCO is yet to acquire 271 hectares required for the core airport area. PAPs last week held marathon meeting with the Cidco management reiterating their opposition for land acquisition and the compensation package. Cidco on February 5 has floated request for qualification and the bidders will have to submit it till June 18 this year. Cidco vice chairman and managing director Sanjay Bhatia told Business Standard ”Our efforts are on to convince the PAPs that the compensation offered by the state government is quite higher than what they will get as per the provisions of new act. As per the government package, PAPs will get 22.5 per cent of developed land for every hectare of land acquired. They will be provided one floor space index (FSI) for 12.5 per cent of developed land and 2.5 FSI for another 10 per cent. Further, the PAPs would get three times more land to the current residential plot they occupy.” Bhatia reiterated that government’s compensation is at a higher side. However, he clarified that PAPs have an option to go for compensation under the new act. Bhatia said that Cidco is currently engaged in the joint surveys of the villages and hoped that it will be in a position to acquire 271 hectare by end of July. Mahendra Patil, sarpanch of Pargaon, one of the village from where the land acquisition is yet to be done, indicated that the villagers are not in a mood to relent but continue their opposition to the Navi Mumbai international airport. He informed that retired judges PB Sawant and BG Kolse Patil have extended their support to their cause. (Business Standard 23/3/14)


27. ‘Development on Posco Project Only After Polls’ (4)

BANGALORE: Clearing the uncertainty around the Rs 52,000 crore 12 mtpa (million tonnes per annum) steel plant in Odisha, South Korean mining major Posco has said that any progress on the project will be likely taken up only after upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The company evinced their interest to set up the plant in June 2005 and said that they required 4000 acres of land for the same in Jagatsinghpur. Over 1700 acres of land has been transferred so far and the company is awaiting the transfer of 1000 acres of land as they need a total of 2700 acres for the first phase of the project. The company had announced to scrap their Rs 30,000 crore, 6 mtpa plant in Karnataka last year after local opposition and delays in clearances and land acquisition. Agencies reported that the state government is not likely to transfer land to the company before the general elections to be held from April-May 2014. The first phase of the project will commence operations in 2018 and the next two phases will commence operations within three years of every phase. The steel project had received initial clearance from the Environment Ministry in 2007 and final approval was granted in 2011. (New Indian Express 24/3/14)


28. 25-acre Tata Steel land fetches 1,100 crore bid (4)

MUMBAI: One of the biggest parcels of land in Mumbai, the 25-acre Tata Steel land in Borivli (E) is believed to have fetched the highest bid of Rs 1,155 crore following a day-long e-auction on Monday. It is rumoured that Oberoi Realty may be the highest bidder. But a Tata Housing source said, “We are still in the race. The bidder hasn’t been finalized yet. We understand the process is still going on.” Tata Steel declined to comment on the status of the transaction. Others in the race are Lodha Group, Oberoi Realty, Kalpataru, Peninsula Land and Indiabulls. Lodha stretched its final offer till Rs 1,150 crore before giving up, said sources. The reserve price was fixed at Rs 750 crore when the e-auction began at 11pm. Developers kept on increasing their bids by Rs 5 crore till it reached the final Rs 1,155 crore around 7pm. The auction was coordinated by global property consultant Knight Frank; its India chairman Shishir Baijal declined to comment. The land close to the Western Express Highway has a development potential of 28 lakh sq ft or 40 lakh sq ft in case the developer submits a proposal for parking FSI. Property rates in Borivli are currently in the range of Rs 13,000 a sq ft.”The land will be developed for residential purposes,” said a source. Tata Steel has put the onus of procuring regulatory permissions and clearances on the winning bidder, and that too, within three months of the deal being sealed. Of the total 1 lakh sq-m sprawl, an estimated 29,130 sq m is “Sanad” land, acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Tata Steel wants the winning bidder to obtain permission for sale of this portion from the collector’s office and an NOC from the Labour Authority within three months. The winning bidder will have to pay around Rs 150 crore to the collector as unearned income for this portion. “In case, the highest bidder is unable to obtain the approvals, the MoU shall automatically stand cancelled and participation deposit and earnest money deposit (Rs 20 crore) shall be forfeited,” said the information memorandum prepared by Knight Frank. “The balance consideration paid at the time of signing MoU shall be returned to the highest bidder along with interest etc,” he added. The Tata Steel document said only developers who have completed 2 million sq ft in the last three years and have a net worth of Rs 200 crore can participate. The successful developer has to pay 10% of the bid amount within two days of signing the letter of intent. The balance 90% has to be paid within a month of signing of the MOU. (Times of India 25/3/14)



29. Vigilance probes J&K land scam (5)

Jammu: In fresh trouble for the Congress at the time of Lok Sabha elections, the state vigilance body has begun preliminary probe into the Rs 25,000 crore land scam in Jammu and Kashmir, that was unearthed by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) during an audit implementation of the much-hyped Roshni Act.  Official sources said two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) have been constituted to scrutinise the revenue record pertaining to the transfer of the state land to the occupants in Jammu, Samba and Udhapur districts, besides Srinagar and Budgam districts. The respective deputy commissioners have been asked to provide relevant records to the SITs. This reportedly followed instructions from State Vigilance Commission (SVC) headed by Kuldeep Khoda. Denying the registration of any formal FIR in the matter, IG (SVC) Alok Puri, said a preliminary scrutiny of the relevant revenue record is being conducted. The Jammu Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act was enacted by Farooq Abdullah’s NC in 2001 to mobilise Rs 25,448 crore for financing hydel projects in the state. For this, the Act envisaged selling of an over 20.64 lakh kanals of state land under to its occupants at market rates. The Act was later amended by the Congress-PDP regime and the Ghulam Nabi Azad government implemented it. (Indian Express 13/3/14)


30. Coal scam: Manish Tewari brands BJP a ‘self-firing automatic weapon full of blanks’ (5)

New Delhi: With the opposition targeting the Prime Minister over coal block allocations in wake of remarks of ex-Coal Secretary P C Parakh,Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari hit back at the BJP,calling it a “self-firing automatic weapon which is unfortunately full of blanks”. “Our attention has been drawn to some reports which have appeared in sections of press today. Most respectfully,I would like to submit that the entire matter is under investigation and the investigation that is being monitored by the Supreme Court of India directly. Therefore,in a subjudice matter where investigations are in progress it is inappropriate for people to be commenting in a manner in which they’ve done” he told reporters at New Delhi. Parakh,who has been booked by CBI in the coal scam,earlier said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the final decision maker and must be counted as a “conspirator”,prompting BJP to demand a thorough probe. On if the latest FIR in connection with alleged irregularities in the allocation of two coal blocks in Odisha would give fresh ammunition to BJP,Tewari said,”Well do you think that the Bhartiya Janata Party requires ammunition? They are a self-propelled and self-firing automatic weapon which is unfortunately full of blanks,” he said. Attacking the opposition party,Tewari said,”To expect anything else from BJP except irresponsibility would be expecting the Sun to rise from the west rather than the east. I don’t think it is important as to what BJP has to say,because they have been saying this for the last ten years. But responsibility and propriety demand that in an investigation which is being monitored by the apex court,people need to be restrained in their utterances,” he said. The Minister said that if some people did have anything to say,they will have their say at the appropriate forum,at the appropriate time. The government has provided all documents to the investigators and,therefore,this “unnecessary speculation” is something which needs to be avoided,he added. On a complaint being lodged against a Madhya Pradesh minister for allegedly handing over cash after the model code had come to force in poll-bound state,Tewari said distribution of money,especially when the model code has kicked in,its an extremely serious violation. “The Election Commission needs to take cognisance of and,accordingly,take appropriate action,” he said. To another question as to whether Congress was underestimating the challenge posed by BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi,Tewari said,”The proof of the pudding lies in the eating and the eating would be determined in 2014 when Lok Sabha elections would be contested.” (Indian Express 14/3/14)


31. Missing file may help babus get away in coal scam (5)

New Delhi: Bureaucrats responsible for the Hyderabad-based Navbharat Power Private Ltd (NPPL) being allocated two coal blocks in Odisha in 2008 despite misrepresentations made in the firm’s application could get away as a crucial coal ministry report that could determine their complicity is missing. The agency suspects that government officials responsible for scrutinising applicants for basic criteria appear to have colluded with the firm, but it cannot charge any government functionary yet as the file containing the report is missing. Earlier this week, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed its first charge sheet in the coal blocks allocation scam in which it accused NPPL and its two top officials of misrepresenting facts in their application for the coal blocks. NPPL was allocated the Rampia and Dip-side of Rampia coal blocks and the CBI has alleged that the firm’s promoters made an illegal profit of around `208 crore by selling the company in 2010 after it was allocated those blocks. A senior CBI source told HT that some other coal scam cases – the agency filed 16 FIRs in all – are also likely to be affected because of the missing file. The Supreme Court has directed the CBI to file charge sheets in five cases by the end of this month. In 2007, the government had asked experts from the public-sector Coal India Limited (CIL) to scrutinise applications to ascertain the financial strength of the applicants. The CIL had prepared a scrutiny report but the file containing this report is missing. “It would have helped us determine if public servants had colluded with the accused firm via willful omission or it was negligence or a systemic flaw,” a CBI officer said. For a proposed power project of 2,220 MW capacity, the firm was required to have a net worth of at least Rs. 4,000 crore as per the coal ministry’s norms. But the firm’s total worth — including that of its two promoters — was only Rs. 300 crore when it applied for the coal blocks. “NPPL wrongfully claimed to have a net worth of around R1 lakh crore on the strength of two European firms — Globeleq and Suez Energy International — in its application form,” the official said. Acting on an SC directive, the CBI had filed two preliminary enquiries (PE) last September to probe if there was any conspiracy on the part of government officials due to which files related to the coal-scam probe in 29 categories were missing from the coal ministry. In January, senior CBI officials said that since most of the missing files had been recovered and no criminality against any government official was found, the agency would approach the apex court for its permission to close the PEs. (Hindustan Times 15/3/14)


32. Corruption, bribery and fraud biggest risks for India Inc: Survey (5)

New Delhi:  ‘Corruption, bribery and corporate frauds’ has emerged as the biggest risk affecting corporate India, according to a new survey. The India Risk Survey 2014 released here on Friday was carried out by FICCI and Pinkerton to assess the impact of risks across the industry and geography of the country. ‘Strikes, Closures and Unrest’ has been rated as the second biggest risk. In last year’s survey, it was ranked as the biggest risk, the survey added. Interestingly, ‘Corruption, Bribery and Corporate Frauds’ ranked fourth in the last year’s survey. ‘Political and Governance Instability’ has been rated as the third biggest risk this year, an obvious pointer towards political uncertainty surrounding the upcoming general elections. ‘Crime’ and ‘Information and cyber insecurity’ have been rated as the No. 4 and No. 5 risks, respectively. G.K. Pillai, Chair, FICCI Homeland Security Committee and former Union Home Secretary, said, “Political and governance instability will not lead to creation of employment which is the most important issue facing the nation and its youth. A policy environment that trusts businessmen and entrepreneurs is the need of the hour.” The results of the survey are based on a collation from a set of 12 risks that have been identified after a series of brainstorming sessions. (Business Line 21/3/14)


33. Corruption being blown out of proportion: Sam Pitroda (5)

Bangalore: Chairman of National Innovation Council Sam Pitroda feels that corruption has become a way of life in Indian society and it was being blown out of proportion. “I think lot of this corruption is blown out of proportion. First of all, let me tell you – not that I like corruption, don’t get me wrong, corruption is a way of life in our society,” Pitroda told reporters replying to a question on corruption being a big issue for UPA government today. Speaking at “Meet the Press”, organised by the Bangalore Press Club and the Reporters Guild of Bangalore, he said that it was not that any party was corrupt or not, but everybody in the society was corrupt. “Business is corrupt, teachers are corrupt, doctors are corrupt, politicians are corrupt, everybody is corrupt. Not just the Indian society is corrupt, there is corruption in US but it is sophisticated. As it is sophisticated, you and I don’t get affected directly. There is corruption in China, Japan, Russia – so it has became a way of life, not that I like it. But let’s not get hung-up on it,” he said. Pitroda said that one can’t stop doing things just because there was corruption. “If somebody is corrupt, action should be taken… but you can’t take 20 year to decide it. Fix it soon, three years or whatever.” He stressed on the need to improve the system slowly and said if somebody has done wrong then he should pay for it; each one of us has to take responsibility…so I think we will have to work with the system we have and slowly and slowly improve.” Pitroda also stated that good work done by the government was not being publicised and said “we probably didn’t do a good job of communicating, explaining to people.” To a question as to who was accountable for this communication gap, he said “I don’t blame anybody, there is no sense in blaming somebody, everyone has their own style; we didn’t do a good job of communicating, that’s what people think and I am just telling, what people tell me.” (The Financial Express 22/3/14)


34. Vasundhara Raje attacks Congress over corruption (5)

Jaipur: Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje today kick started the Lok Sabha campaign with an attack on Congress, alleging that each person in the state is under a debt of Rs 75,000 due to the policies of its previous government in the state and at the Centre. “People in the state are under a debt of Rs 75,000 each and the economy suffered due to the policies of the Congress governments,” she said. Addressing rallies in Jaipur and Churu, Raje alleged that corruption was rampant during the rule of former Congress government in Rajasthan and government did nothing for the development of the state. “Due to the former government, the state is facing a difficult phase financially. There was a gap between people and the government during Congress rule but when BJP came to power, we started doing ‘Jan Sunwai’ and Cabinet meetings at divisional headquarters level to get the ground level feedback,” she said, while asking people to vote for BJP to get a better government at the Centre. BJP secretary Bhupendra Yadav, party’s state president Ashok Parnami, health minister Rajendra Rathore and other leaders were present in the rallies. (Zee News 23/3/14)


35. Whistleblower writes to PM, says PMO officials withholding info (5)

NEW DELHI: Facing roadblocks in his crusade against corrupt public servants, whistleblower Sanjiv Chaturvedi, an Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer, has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking action against certain PMO officials who were allegedly protecting powerful politicians and bureaucrats of the B S Hooda-led Haryana government by not sharing information under the transparency law. Chaturvedi alleged that some PMO officials were concealing certain information directly and indirectly linked to the ‘proposed’ CBI probe into the multi-crore plantation scam in the state unearthed by him during his posting in Haryana in 2009. The IFoS officer, posted as chief vigilance officer of AIIMS, had sought this information from the PMO under the RTI Act which, he claimed, would go a long way in fixing responsibility of politicians and bureaucrats in many cases of corruption in Haryana. The specific information sought by him pertained to documents and file notings on meetings of officers of the ministries of personnel and environment that took place in the PMO on the issue of recommending a CBI inquiry into the plantation scam. Unable to get the information, he went on to appeal before the first appellate authority under the transparency law. Though the authority in November last year directed the PMO to provide Chaturvedi the relevant information, he has not got the details. In his letter to the PM on March 10, the Haryana-cadre IFoS officer of 2002 batch said, “This is a very unfortunate situation where officers of your own office are involved in blatant violation of one of the flagship legislations (RTI Act) of your tenure, which has always been projected by your good self as the most significant achievement of your government.” Without taking names of public servants, he alleged that the motive of these officers (of the PMO) appeared to be to somehow protect corrupt politicians and bureaucrats of Haryana government. “However, in the process, these officers of your esteemed office have simply made a mockery of the RTI Act, 2005, for which, they should be properly punished,” Chaturvedi said in his letter which he claimed to have written in his “private capacity as citizen of India”.Besides demanding inquiry against concerned PMO officials, Chaturvedi also forwarded his letter to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) seeking immediate protection for himself under the statutory provisions related to protection of whistleblowers. Chaturvedi had exposed the scam while he was posted as divisional forest officer in Jhajjar in January 2009. He had detected that funds from international donor agencies were allegedly embezzled in the state in the name of plantation. He had blown the lid off the irregularities when he found that the plantation existed only on paper. The ministry of environment and forests carried out an inquiry and termed it a fit case to probed by CBI. The ministry had in its inquiry in 2010 even named certain bureaucrats and politicians in Haryana as being involved in the scams and harassment of the whistleblower. Chaturvedi had in November 2012 moved the Supreme Court to implement the ministry’s inquiry report and order a CBI inquiry into the matter. The state government, however, recently filed a petition before the high court for quashing the inquiry report. (Times of India 26/3/14)


36. CBI arrests two more in fake MCI registration scam (5)

NEW DELHI: The CBI on Tuesday arrested alleged middleman Jitendra Jagodia and a leady cleark of the Medical Council of India (MCI) in its probe in the scam involving registration of fake doctors. The illegal network of fake doctors who got their medical degrees from Russia and China was being assisted by Jagodia in getting clearances from the medical body. Sources said that certificates, that allow doctors to practise anywhere in India, were being sold for Rs 15 lakh each. Jagodia, sources said, was in touch with MCI officials. “They didn’t require undertaking exams for getting the clearance. The records were altered in MCI to favour the doctors,” said an officer. CBI had last week unearthed the scandal after arresting five doctors who possessed medical degrees from Russia and China and allegedly obtained recognition from MCI through fraudulent means. So far, nine people have been arrested in the scandal. At least three of the doctors, who had allegedly got a forged registration from MCI, were working in government hospitals in Gujarat, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. The CBI case was also against unnamed officials of MCI and some others. Government has made screening test mandatory for medical students who passed out from erstwhile USSR countries and China to be eligible to practise in India. CBI alleged these candidates had colluded with MCI officials who gave them permission to practise in return for illegal gratification even as the doctors did not fulfill the necessary parameters. Sources said there could be more arrests soon. The registration documents seized during searches last Thursday would be sent for forensic examination. (Times of India 27/3/14)



37. Odisha tribal leader Linga fails to appear in public (6)

NARAYANPATNA (ODISHA): The CMAS leader, who has remained underground since November 2009, decided not to appear in public apprehending arrest at the hands of para-military forces before he could surrender in court. Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) leader Nachika Linga, who has been underground for more than four years, failed to appear in public as was speculated due to heavy deployment of para-military forces in an around Balipeta panchayat in Narayanpatna block of Odisha’s Koraput district on Tuesday. Mr. Linga was to address a meeting of his supporters at Balipeta, after which he was to appear before a court at Laxmipur, about 30 km away. A team of social activists and journalists, who went to bring Mr. Linga to the venue of the meeting from his hideout, told the gathering that Mr. Linga decided not to appear in public apprehending arrest at the hands of para-military forces before he could reach the court. The CMAS leader has remained underground since November 2009, following a clash between CMAS activists and police at Narayanpatna police station in which two of Mr. Linga’s associates were killed. Though the team of activists had earlier informed the State Director General of Police that Mr. Linga was likely to appear before the court at Laxmipur, there was no sign of any district police at Balipeta. Despite deployment of para-military forces and personnel of Special Operations Group, hundreds of supporters of Mr. Linga and a large number of media persons had gathered at Balipeta. Had Mr. Linga been able to surrender before the Laxmipur court, which had issued several warrants against him, it was speculated that he was also likely to contest the coming assembly elections from Laxmipur assembly segment in an attempt to join the social mainstream. The CMAS, under the leadership of Mr. Linga, has been spearheading the agitation of tribals in Narayanpatna block for land rights and other issues related to development. About 2000 para-military personnel have been deployed in Narayanpatna block since 2010 to counter Maoist activities in the area. Though the police had earlier alleged that Mr. Linga had Maoist links, the social activists who interacted with him on Tuesday told the gathering at Balipeta that he had no relations with left wing extremists. (The Hindu 11/3/14)


38. PUCL condemns killing of security personnel in Chhattisgarh (6)

New Delhi, March 13 : The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) has condemned the killing of 15 security personnel and one civilian by Maoists in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh March 11. In a statement released Wednesday, the human rights organisation regretted the loss of lives in the incident and said it “is part of a continuing and seemingly endless series of bloody and counter attacks by security forces and Maoists in the state”.Observing that under no circumstances can violence be justified, the PUCL said the unending spiral of violence is of utmost concern to it. It said the only way out of the present context of “vicious violence” is for the government to initiate a process of unconditional ceasefire, which could end hostilities on both sides and create the ground for talks. “We appeal to the Maoists also to agree to an unconditional ceasefire and engage in talks,” it said. “It is very important that adivasi groups like the Adivasi Mahasabha, Sarva Samaj and other representative organisations need to be included in the talks to end violence, apart from the two sides – the Maoists and the government,” PUCL added. Quoting studies by the Planning Commission — which said the only solution to the issue is land distribution, implementation of the Forest Rights Act and acknowledgement of rights of the tribals, the PUCL said the best way to restore faith in democracy is by integrating human rights, equity and social justice considerations into all government policies, plans and programmes and abandon militaristic solution. (New Kerala 13/3/14)


39. Tribals to Play NOTA Card to Claim Rights (6)

TIRUNELVELI: While political parties are busy preparing strategies for the parliamentary elections, tribal leaders across the State are mobilising their communities to wrench out their long pending demands using the ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) voting option threat. Though Kanikkarar community in Nagercoil has already announced its decision of choosing NOTA, Paliyars from Madurai, Uralis and Solakars from Erode have kept the option open in case their demands go unheeded. According to S Rajan Kani, member of Kani tribe and president of Pecchiparai Panchayat in Kanyakumari, “Our traditional settlements and livelihood activities should be safeguarded. Though Forest Rights Act was introduced in the State in 2008, it has not been implemented. We have decided to opt for NOTA to register our protest.” (New Indian Express 15/3/14)


40. Adivasis call for boycott of local body polls(6)

KHAMMAM: After boycotting the local body poll process by not filing a single nomination for eight MPTC and one ZPTC member posts in Kukunoor mandal, the Mumpu Pranthala Parirakshana Samithi has stepped up efforts to ensure withdrawal of nominations filed in other areas under the submergence zone of Polavaram project in the district. The Samithi consisting of various Adivasi organisations, political parties and associations representing people living in Polavaram submergence zone under Bhadrachalam and Palvancha divisions has given a call for boycott of the ensuing local body elections. The move is intended to register its strongest protest against the Central government’s “decision” to shift five mandals totally, one almost fully and one partly from Bhadrachalam Agency in Khammam district, an integral part of Telangana, to the successor State of Andhra Pradesh. Kukunoor mandal in Palvancha division is one among the five tribal sub-plan mandals earmarked for merger with the residual State of Andhra Pradesh. The Centre’s merger plan envisaged transfer of Bhadrachalam mandal, barring the revenue village of Bhadrachalam, including the temple town, to successor State of Andhra Pradesh. The boycott call assumes significance in the backdrop of the series of agitations recently organised by Adivasi organisations demanding scrapping of Polavaram project and some political parties seeking change in the existing design of the project to prevent large-scale submergence of vast tracts of tribal lands. Meanwhile, the Samithi leaders held discussions with the representatives of various political parties in Velerupadu, V.R. Puram and Kunavaram mandals to persuade them to ensure withdrawal of nominations filed by their candidates before the stipulated time slated for Monday. “We will explore all options to exert pressure on the Centre withdraw its “detrimental decision” and ensure continuation of all the seven mandals in Khammam district as part of Telangana State,” said S.K. Ghouse, an “all-party” mandal level committee representative of Kukunoor. A plan is on the anvil to give a call for boycott of the upcoming general elections too, he said pointing out that the seven mandals, including Kukunoor mandal constitute more than 1.10 lakh voters under the ST reserved Aswaraopet, Bhadrachalam and Pinapaka Assembly segments in the district. (The Hindu 22/3/14)


 41. ‘Schemes for tribal people not implemented properly’ (6)

Udhagamandalam: Condemning the alleged callous outlook of officials towards the problems concerning tribal communities, members of the Erumad Adivasi Kurumbas Munnetra Sangam staged a demonstration in front of the Collectorate here on Monday. N.M. Balan, president of the sangam, said that though their grievances were many, they wanted the officials to take action on at least some of them. Though the government had evolved several schemes, and enacted laws to uplift the tribal communities they were not being implemented properly by many of the officials. Owing to this they were not serving their purpose. By misusing the schemes, the officials were defeating their objectives. Many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were getting funds from the government and other agencies within the country and abroad for the uplift of tribal communities. Of the amount, 80 per cent was used by the NGOs for paying salaries and meeting other expenses. This gave the impression that the focus of the NGOs was not on tribal development but ensuring the livelihood of their employees. Several complaints notwithstanding nothing tangible has been done to check the trend. Referring to a scheme implemented recently by the Department of Adi-Dravidar and Tribal Welfare for the benefit of the Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Communities, he said that action should be taken against officials who allegedly distributed benefits to ineligible persons. Education assistance for tribal students for 2012-13 should be fully disbursed. The mystery surrounding the death of Govindan of Kallichal in Cherambadi at K.R. Pet in Karnataka in January 2010 should be unravelled. The explanations given so far by the police were not satisfactory. (The Hindu 25/3/14)


42. Latehar activist shares tribal woes on Aamir show (6)

Tribal rights crusader James Herenj, who is associated with MGNREGS Sahayata Kendra in Latehar’s Manika block, recently had his tryst with television when he appeared as a special guest in Season 2 of Aamir Khan-hosted Satyamev Jayate on March 23. The episode, Sachha Loktantra Kisko Kahenge, saw discussions on various aspects of Indian democracy, including state employment schemes, RTI provisions, social audit and self-governance. Guests from various backgrounds and age groups shared their opinions on the issues. Shyama Singh, also associated with the MGNREGS centre, appeared on the show with Herenj. Speaking to The Telegraph, Herenj said: “We were invited as special guests on show and during our interaction with Khan saab, we apprised him of our daily struggles for the implementation of MGNREGS in Naxalite-affected Latehar district.” On being asked how they got the opportunity to appear on the much-coveted programme, Herenj said that it all started when the show’s research team visited Manika block in January. “The team captured videos of our work under MGNREGS. These were shown to Aamir Khan and we were invited on his recommendation,” he added. Shyama Singh said that during the episode, they told Aamir and the audience how the benefits of government schemes did not reach most villages. “We also shared our achievements. We motivated residents of Swadih village in Manika block to construct roads without any help from contractors,” she said. The duo recalled interesting behind-the-scenes conversations with Aamir and other special guests on the show. “A day before this episode was telecast, Aamir Khan asked us why we did this work. We replied, ‘Aamirji, someone has to come forward and become the tribals’ voice. In places like Latehar, villagers suffer in silence owing to fear. We decided to come forward and implement schemes like MGNREGS so that they can earn a livelihood,” he said. Both Herenj and Singh went on to say that even after six years of MGNREGS implementation in Jharkhand, people were unaware of their rights under the Act. “We are struggling to ensure timely payment of wages to NREGA workers and making efforts to employ as many people as possible,” said Herenj. He added that in Manika block alone, there were around 22, 000 MGNREGS workers. Of these, only 50 per cent were currently employed. “We’re trying our best to streamline this scheme. Now we have another problem. Due to forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, our people are again out of work,” he said. (The Telegraph 26/3/14)



43. Gender-based violence remains a challenge in India: UN report (8)

NEW DELHI: Women across India have unanimously cited gender-based violence as a widespread an d persistent challenge, linking it directly to alcoholism and dowry, according to a new UN Women report “Hearts and Minds: Women of India Speak.” Some women, however, felt they were more aware of their rights and more were reporting violence to the police than before. Child marriage was cited as common as female foeticide, though at reduced levels than earlier due to legislation that has made sex-determination illegal, according to the report released here on Monday. Violence against women in the work place was identified as another “blind spot,” especially in industries and areas where women work as informal labour without any rights, such as garment industry or as domestic help. Similarly, the report said that while there was greater awareness about HIV and AIDS in select quarters in rural India, the awareness level remains very low and associated stigma and discrimination is very high. “Rural women are in a “high risk” category as the most common way they contract disease is unknowingly through their husbands. The stigma adversely impacts their health and nutrition, ability to earn a livelihood and their children’s lives, which women living with HIV and AIDS are most concerned about,” the report said. Speaking on the occasion, Rebecca Reichmann Tavares, Representative, UN Women Multi Country Office for India, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka said: The report ensures that the voices of those who remain socially and economically marginalised are meaningfully reflected in India’s policies and the emerging global Post-2015development agenda. The Gender Equality Goal, developed by UN Women calls for increased participation if women in decision-making. In the context of the upcoming elections, this is a pertinent issue as despite the advances made through Panchayats, women account for only 10 per cent of seats in Parliament.” The survey was conducted over a year in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Rajasthan where women were spoken to individually and in groups. In terms of women’s empowerment, most feel that there have been positive, even some transformative, changes in their lives over the past decade compared to previous generations. They said they had greater visibility, more education and employment, better health-related access, facilities and social security cover especially for pregnant and lactating mothers, among other things. However they raised many issues that remain unaddressed such as access to water and sanitation, housing, roads, electricity, lack of employment options and skills training. (The Hindu 11/3/14)


44.  “Death sentences will not deter increasing crimes against women” (8)

NEW DELHI: Punishing the December 16 gang-rape case convicts with death sentences will not deter the increasing crimes against women, rights activists said on Thursday. The Delhi High Court on Thursday confirmed the death sentence and upheld the conviction given by the fast-track court in the case that has captured public attention due to its gruesome nature. According to the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, the death penalty ignores the wider socio-economic and cultural factors in play. “This was an extremely gruesome and unacceptable crime on a defenceless girl,” said PUCL national general secretary Dr. V. Suresh. But, he added: “The PUCL is against the death penalty in principle. There is no proof that it acts as a deterrent.” Crimes are committed due to circumstantial and socio-cultural factors, Dr. Suresh said, adding that widespread unemployment was leading to misplaced frustration and anger among young men. Women’s rights activists, however, were divided on the death penalty acting as a deterrent in sexual assault cases. The secretary of the All-India Progressive Women’s Association, Kavita Krishnan, said: “Death penalty is not synonymous with justice”. On whether the death sentence in this case could deter such crimes in the future, Ms. Krishnan said: “Let us not kid ourselves”. Centre for Social Research director Ranjana Kumari, however, welcomed the High Court’s decision. “It is a good message to criminals and sexual assaulters in the country that they can’t get away,” she said. Though she added this was “not enough”, Dr. Kumari said if all rape cases are tried by fast-track courts then it could have a deeper impact. Giving examples of the Khairlanji and the Manorama Devi cases, Ms. Krishnan said: “If justice has to be even-handed, you can’t have one law for cases in Delhi that get more attention and another for those in other parts of the country.” “We need to fight for a uniform standard for justice,” Ms. Krishnan said. With the December 16 case bringing protesters out on the streets across the country, Dr. Suresh said people today want instant justice. “There is no instant solution for systemic failures that are leading to crimes. We need to go back to our schools and tell boys that girls have equal rights,” he said. While activists agreed that the crime was indeed brutal, as the Court found, they couldn’t agree on whether the order would have an impact on the instances of sexual assault. “This is not the first crime of this kind and will not be last,” Dr. Suresh said. (The Hindu 14/3/14)


45. Sex-violence reaching epidemic levels globally: ‘Nirbhaya’ play director (8)

Ahmedabad: Theatre can play an important role in helping women speak up against sex violence, which has now reached epidemic levels globally, says acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber whose award-winning play ‘Nirbhaya’ makes its India premiere. Theatre can play an important role in helping women speak up against sex violence, which has now reached epidemic levels globally, says acclaimed playwright and director Yael Farber whose award-winning play ‘Nirbhaya’ makes its India premiere. “Sex violence has reached epidemic levels universally and the more we can get people to talk about the issue, it is better. Theatre can play a role in initiating dialogue and help women raise their voices and break the silence,” Farber told PTI in an interview. The South African-origin director, who now lives in Montreal is bringing the play “Nirbhaya-Breaking the Silence” based on the December 16 bus gangrape incident in 2012 to the country. It will be staged in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore between March 17 to March 28. The seven-member cast stars five women, including “Delhi Belly” actress Poorna Jagannathan, TV actor Priyanka Bose, celebrity hairstylist Sapna Bhavnani and acid attack survivor Sneha Jawale, who narrate their personal experiences on sexual and gender based violence. “These testimonies include dowry bride burning, child abuse, marital rape, gang rape – as well as the daily iniquities of sexual harassment on public transport and in the streets of urban India,” says the director. Farber weaves Nirbhaya’s story within the five personal stories. The remaining two performers, Japjit Kaur and Ankur Vikal evoke the key people, events of the night of December 16 and what followed in its wake. “It is highly personalised material and required tremendous courage by the artists. It is a profound gesture of breaking the silence that has been culturally engendered as a response to sexual violence around the world,” says Farber. Although Farber’s productions, including her previous one titled “Mies Julie” have toured the world extensively earning her a reputation for hard-hitting, controversial works, this is the first time she is showing in India. “We are keeping our expectations open and very humble about it. We don’t know how the audience will consider our play. We understand that we are bringing it home now,” says Farber. The production was conceived when Poorna Jagananthan contacted Farber on Facebook after the gruesome rape incident. British Council, Unesco, Oxfan along with South African Airways and DHL have supported the production, which opened at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in London and has won Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award, the Scotsman Fringe First, and the Herald Angel Award for Outstanding New Play. (DNA 16/3/4)


46. Sri Lanka army admits torture of women recruits (8)

Colombo: Sri Lanka’s military admitted today soldiers had abused and tortured female recruits, a rare admission of guilt after years of allegations over its personnel’s treatment of Tamil rebels during an uprising. A military spokesman said it accepted the authenticity of a video leaked on a dissident website that appeared to show soldiers torturing women soldiers, adding instructors had overstepped their authority for an undisclosed act of violating “military discipline”.”The investigation which is being carried out by the Sri Lanka Army Corps of Military Police has so far revealed that the video in question is an authentic one,” military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya said in a statement. “According to a preliminary report, the instructors (the troops) have punished the recruits for an act in violation of military discipline,” Wanigasooriya added. “However, the method adopted is not in accordance with standard procedures,” he said. The anti-establishment website, which is blocked by Internet providers in Sri Lanka but can be accessed through servers outside the country, published the 4.41-minute footage Friday, saying it had been filmed on a phone camera by another soldier. The fuzzy footage showed women recruits being subjected to cruel and degrading treatment and sustained beatings by men in uniform. The spokesman said the incident had taken place in October 2012 in the north-central district of Anuradhapura, further south of the war zone where fighting ended in May 2009 with the defeat of Tamil Tiger rebels. “The individuals who carried out this excessive action had overstepped their mandate and acted in (sic) their own volition,” he said. It is the first time the military has accepted a leaked video showing torture as authentic, previously rejecting as fabrications several others allegedly showing executions of surrendered Tamil rebels and sexual abuse of female detainees. The latest video came a week before the UN Human Rights Council was due to debate a US-led resolution pressing for an international investigation into allegations that Sri Lankan troops killed up to 40,000 civilians after ordering them into a no fire zone. International rights groups have said Sri Lanka’s government was complicit in many of the crimes. A study published yesterday by South African human rights lawyer and UN adviser, Yasmin Sooka, alleged that Sri Lankan troops carried out horrific sexual abuse of ethnic minority Tamils even after the end of the island’s separatist war. She said the “highest levels” of Sri Lanka’s government were complicit in raping, torturing and abducting ethnic Tamils following the war and accused security forces of sexual abuse of Tamils, including forced oral sex and anal rape as well as water torture. Colombo did not comment specifically on Sooka’s report but has always denied such allegations and also insists that not a single civilian was killed by its troops while battling Tamil Tigers known for their trademark suicide bombings. Colombo, in turn, has accused the defeated rebels of using civilians as human shields. (Deccan Herald 22/3/14)


47. Big drop in child sex ratio in 9 Indian states (8)

NEW DELHI: In many of India’s least developed states, girls are disappearing not so much from foeticide as from infanticide or just plain neglect of the girl child leading to more number of girls dying. This is revealed in the latest Annual Health Survey data of the census office, which shows a substantial fall in the sex ratio in the 0-4 years age group in several districts spread across nine states. Since many of these are the most populous states, this fall would account for lakhs of missing girls. In fact, in four of the nine states, it is not just specific districts but the entire state that has seen a worsening of the 0-4 sex ratio. What is also worrying about this trend is that most of these states have traditionally had better sex ratios than the national average. The malaise, it appears, is growing even where it wasn’t much in evidence in the past. In a majority of the districts in these states, the sex ratio at birth has actually improved. But about 84 of the 284 districts recorded a fall, even if in 31 of them the fall was marginal. The fall in sex ratio in the 0-4 age group is much more widespread, with 127 districts exhibiting this trend, 46 of them showing a significant drop.  The census office has been conducting an annual health survey in nine states — Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Assam. A baseline survey conducted in 2007-09 has been followed up by similar ones in 2010 and 2011. Jharkhand, which had a relatively better sex ratio to begin with, and Rajasthan, which figured at the bottom of the pile, have shown the greatest improvement in both sex ratio at birth (SRB) and the 0-4 sex ratio. States that started off with high sex ratio in both categories, such as Chhattisgarh and Assam, have recorded the biggest declines in 0-4 sex ratios along with Bihar and Odisha. In Uttar Pradesh, 30 per cent of the districts recorded a fall in the 0-4 sex ratio. In Chhattisgarh, the ratio fell in 13 out of 16 districts. As a result, the state’s 0-4 sex ratio fell from 978 to 965. Having started with a very high sex ratio, despite the steep decline, Chhattisgarh continued to have the best sex ratio among the states surveyed. The sharpest dip among all 284 districts was in Chhattisgarh’s Kawardha district where it fell from 1076 to 1001. In Bihar, 21 of 37 districts registered a decline in 0-4 sex ratio. Of these most recorded a steep decline. Darbhanga dipped by 39 points from 908 to 869, Vaishali from 909 to 874 and Sitamarhi from 877 to 855, making it the district with the worst 0-4 sex ratio in the state. In Orissa, the 0-4 sex ratio declined in 21 out of 30 districts. In Madhya Pradesh, the SRB declined in 20 of 45 districts and 0-4 sex ratio in 17 districts. However, the decline was marginal, except in a few districts. Uttarakhand had the worst sex ratio among these nine states to start with and despite showing some improvement, it continues to be the worst. While the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) (regulation and prevention of misuse) Act might address foeticide and help improve sex ratio at birth, there is no law to protect the girl child from neglect within her family. And the health survey data reveals that overall improvement in sex ratio often masks pockets of intense and growing skew in the sex ratio. (Times of India 23/3/14)


48. Dowry law cannot be harassment tool, says court (8)

New Delhi: A court here has observed that dowry prohibition law cannot be allowed to become a tool for harassment. Granting relief to a man, who was booked in a dowry harassment case by his wife, the court ordered investigation against the complainant for filing a false case. The man’s wife in July 2012 filed a first information report (FIR) against him in a South Delhi police station, alleging that he demanded dowry and subjected her to cruelty, which resulted in her miscarriage. Police investigated the complaint and filed a cancellation report, giving a clean chit to the accused. Metropolitan Magistrate Shivani Chauhan, accepting the cancellation report of Delhi Police, said Sections 498A (subjecting woman to cruelty) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) and Dowry Prohibition Act are special legislations enacted for the “protection of women” and have serious penal consequence for the offender. “Under no circumstances can it be permitted to become a tool for harassment of innocent persons,” the magistrate said. “There is a enough material on record to show that the complaint was false and fabricated.” During the investigation it was revealed that it was the woman’s second marriage and there was no evidence of dissolution of the first. The woman alleged cruelty by the man which had resulted in her miscarriage. But the court noted that the investigation report showed she had voluntarily got the medical termination of her pregnancy. It was observed the woman had mentioned the name of the other man in the medical report. The bills of hospital were cleared by the other man. (Deccan Herald 24/3/14)


49. Mathura: Panchayat bans girls from wearing jeans (8)

Mathura: The mahapanchayat, held at Rahera village in Mathura on Sunday, also decided to ban child marriages, use of DJ at weddings, grant of dowry and gambling by members of the community. “The decision will help control evils of the society,” said community leader Udai Singh, who presided over the mahapanchayat. “It has also been decide that a maximum of only Rs. 21,000 can be given as gift during ‘kanyadaan’ (a marriage ritual carried out by the girl’s parents),” he said. “It is a good decision. The ban on use of DJ in marriages, child marriage, use of liquor is also welcome,” said a saint, Ramesh Baba, while addressing the mahapanchayat. “Use of liquor has ruined several families. It (the ban) would pave the way to uplift the community,” he stated. The mahapanchayat has decided on a fine of Rs. 11,000 for not following the orders. The panchayat also decide to give a reward of Rs. 2100 to anybody who will bring to its notice any violation of the orders. Other leaders who attended the mahapanchayt were Gopal Singh, Ram Swaroop, Jaipal Singh and Raghubir Singh. The mahapanchayat was attended by members of the Yadav community from 52 villages in Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan, they claimed. (Hindustan Times 26/3/14)