Archive for March 13th, 2013

Posted by admin at 13 March 2013

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HUMAN RIGHTS/ RIGHTS GROUP/ NHRC

1. Civil society split over new bill (1)

New Delhi: Anti-graft campaigner Anna Hazare on Friday threatened to launch a fresh stir against the new Lokpal Bill cleared by the Cabinet, even as civil society, including his associate Kiran Bedi, appeared to be divided over it. Though Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal has expressed opposition to the Lokpal draft, he does not seem to be inclined on launching fresh agitations over the issue. “I will keep trying for a strong Lokpal Bill and if need be, will sit on a fast again before the 2014 elections,” Hazare said in a hurriedly called press conference in the national capital, soon after his return form Patna. “I may even go back to the Ramlila Maidan and ask the people to elect someone who will give you laws that empower you.” He said the Lokpal will be ineffective if the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Central Vigilance Commission are not made autonomous, adding that the government did not bring class 1, 2 , 3, and 4 employees under the Lokpal despite promises. Former Army chief General V K Singh was also present at the press conference. However, Kiran Bedi seemed positive about the developments. “From nothing to something to more, as we move on! This is how we can read the lokpal bill! Unless we want to stay at nothing!” she tweeted. Bedi also welcomed changes in the draft and said most of the concerns were addressed. “Its Anti Corruption wing has been brought under oversight of Lokpal. Which is what we needed!” she tweeted. “It is open to opposition parties to improve the Lokpal as part of their manifesto!” Activist Aruna Roy also chimed in, describing it as a step forward. However, Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan opposed the draft. “This will protect the corrupt,” Kejriwal said . “Nitin Gadkari has resigned, but nothing happened on our allegations against Robert Vadra and Salman Khurshid. Instead, Khursid is getting promotions.” (Deccan Herald 1/3/13)

 

2. Custodial death probe on as per NHRC rule: DCP (1)

CUTTACK: The Cuttack city DCP S. Praveen Kumar on Saturday assured that the investigations into the allegation of Friday’s custodial death in energy police station here are being conducted as per the guidelines specified for such cases by National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). A 24-year-old youth, booked for theft charges by the energy police station died in SCB medical college and hospital here late last evening. While the energy police station personnel maintain that Krutibash Mohapatra died after consuming poison, his family members allege that Mohapatra, who was working as a security guard in the store of a power distribution company died due to brutal police assault. The family members who are refusing to take the body of Mohapatra for cremation and demanding stringent action against policemen are protesting in front of the Mangalabag police station here with the body. The Mangalabag police here are investigating into the matter by registering two separate cases. “While the family members have filed one case against the energy police station, the energy police station on the other hand have made a complaint stating Mohapatra had consumed pesticide”, informed the Mangalabag police inspector P.K. Rath adding that the investigations into the both the cases are being done as per the law. It may be mentioned here that the energy police station had registered a theft case against the security guard Mohapatra following theft of some items from the CESU store located at Choudwar, on the outskirts of the city. (The Hindu 3/3/13)

 

3. ‘Engage’ US on rights issue in UN: India to Lanka (1)

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of demands by Tamil parties that India should vote against Sri Lanka at the UN on human rights, government on Wednesday remained evasive on the stand it will take even as it asked Sri Lanka to treat it as a humanitarian issue rather than “a matter of ego”. With a US-sponsored resolution set to be moved on Lankan Tamils at the United Nations Human Rights Council, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid said he has asked his Lankan counterpart GL Peiris to work with the Unitd States and report progress if any made on the issue to arrive at a draft which is “acceptable to everybody”. “Government will take a stand. As of now I have told my colleague foreign minister of Sri Lanka to engage the US. If you have moved forward (on human rights issue), you should bring that to the knowledge of the US to arrive at a consensual draft which is acceptable to everybody,” Khurshid told reporters outside Parliament. “It is a humanitarian issue. It is not an issue on which anybody should stand on ceremony or ego. If it is possible, speak to them directly and find a suitable and acceptable draft,” he said. His comments came against the backdrop of mounting demands by Tamil parties that India should take a tough stand against Sri Lanka and vote in favour of resolution to be moved against it. The US is set to move the new resolution against Sri Lanka at the current session of the UN Human Rights Council for its alleged war crimes, asking the country to promote reconciliation and accountability. The resolution will ask the government of Sri Lanka to follow through on its own commitments to its people, including implementing the constructive recommendations from the report by Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission. (Hindustan Times 6/3/13)

 

4. SC castigates Punjab, Bihar cops for violation of rights (1)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of Punjab police assaulting a woman in Tarn Taran and Bihar police caning contractual teachers in Patna saying the governments had failed to safeguard people’s right to life and dignity from “wholly unwarranted” police action. Initiating proceedings on its own in discharge of its mandate to protect fundamental rights of citizens, particularly women and weaker sections, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and Ranjana P Desai said, “We feel that it is proper for this court to take cognizance of the gross violation of human rights as well as the constitutional rights of the people.” On February 4, television channels showed two Punjab policemen abusing, slapping and caning a 25-year-old dalit woman and her ex-serviceman father in Tarn Taran. The woman was complaining to police against some taxi drivers who allegedly molested her. Though Punjab government ordered a magisterial inquiry, state police chief Sumedh Singh Saini defended non-registration of FIR against the two cops involved in the incident. The other incident related to lathi-charge and tear gas firing by Bihar police on February 5 against contractual teachers who were demanding wages. Referring to news reports, the bench said, “Contents of the news items revealed that members of Punjab police and Patna police have mercilessly beaten an unarmed woman and teachers. Both the incidents have shocked the conscience of the entire nation.” The bench faulted the Prakash Singh Badal and the Nitish Kumar governments for failure to take “adequate steps for protecting the people against the wholly unwarranted action taken by the police at Tarn Taran and Patna”.”These incidents raise important constitutional issues relating to Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution and dignity of individual,” the bench said and sought assistance of attorney general G E Vahanvati and senior advocates Harish Salve and U U Lalit to help the court as amicus curiae in the matter. It posted further hearing for March 11. Long before the Justice J S Verma panel, appointed in the aftermath of Nirbhaya’s gang-rape, suggested that judiciary must initiate suo motu action against blatant violations of fundamental rights of citizens, the Supreme Court and high courts have from time to time initiated proceedings on their own, taking cognizance of reports of gross violation of human rights. The Supreme Court of India may not match its counterpart in Pakistan, which has in the last five years initiated 86 suo motu actions, but it did not remain a mute spectator when citizens’ rights were targeted by those tasked to protect it. Justice Verma panel had in its January 23 report to the government said, “The judiciary has the primary responsibility of enforcing fundamental rights through constitutional remedies. The judiciary can take suo motu cognizance of such issues being deeply concerned with them both in the Supreme Court and the high courts. An all-India strategy to deal with this issue would be advisable.” Last year, the Supreme Court had initiated suo motu proceedings in a number of cases, including VVIPs flaunting red beacons on their vehicles and travelling with a large security detail, inconveniencing citizens. On November 21, the court had taken suo motu cognizance of private guards using firearms, as was alleged in the shootout at a farmhouse killing liquor baron Ponty Chadha and his brother, and asked the Union government to frame a regulatory mechanism for private security agencies. (Times of India 7/3/13)

 

5. Kerala State Human Rights Commission to seek report on conductor’s death (1)

KOZHIKODE: State Human Rights Commission(SHRC) will seek report from the district police chief into the death of a bus conductor, who in his suicide note had held a few police officials from Kasaba police station responsible for his death. “We have started the proceeding to seek the report from the city police commissioner to ensure justice to the victim,” K E Gangadharan, member of SHRC said. The deceased person, in his suicide note had held some of the police personnel from Kasaba responsible for his suicide and KSHRC has decided to involve in the case to ensure proper investigation into the involvement of the police, said the commission member. Police recovered 10 suicide notes against the cops and the commission wants to ensure that these notes should be considered as the dying declaration of the person, he added. The commission will monitor the police investigation and intervene if any irregularity is found in the police investigation, said the commission member. CPM leaders who visited the house of Dayanandan at Palakkottu Vayal, near Ozhukkara demanded proper investigation into the involvement of police persons. “It was not a suicide but he was murdered by the police who mentally tortured him,” alleged Elamaram Kareem, MLA and state general secretary of CITU. Of the 10 suicide notes, written by Dayanandan, one letter was addressed to CPM area committee. CITU will hold bus strike if the police show any negligence in the investigation, said Elamaram Kareem. Meantime, city police commissioner G Sparjan Kumar denied the allegation that police were responsible for the death of the person. Police, in no way, could be held responsible for the suicide or death of a person before or after interrogation, he claimed. The police personnel of Kasaba station were doing their duty on receiving a petition, claimed the official. According to police, Dayanandan in a statement given to the police had blamed his eye sight for the mistake. Officials with Kasaba police station claimed that they summoned Dayanandan and the house of the person was searched as part of the investigation. Dayanandan, 49, a bus conductor was found hanging near his residence on Wednesday. The deceased was interrogated by the police on a complaint that Dayanandan, instead of giving five rupee coin cheated a passenger by giving two 50 paise coins fixed together using gum. (Times of India 8/3/13)

 

TRAFFICKING

6. Trafficking of tribal girls: Sick gardens trigger exodus (1)

Several Delhi-based placement agencies, that claim to provide work to these trafficked girls, are being run illegally and without any registration. These agencies work in nexus with the ‘agents’ who are local tea garden workers and known to the victims. The ignorant poor parents, who cannot feed their children, are ready to lap up the opportunity of sending the children to Delhi for work. in order to get rid of the their responsibility and also in the hope of getting a regular monthly income. Once the victims reach Delhi, they stay in touch with the families for a few days. some of them is in contact with the family. But soon they are barred from communicating with their parents and also, money stops reaching their families. Only a handful of them get work as domestic help, while the rest are either sold in brothels or for marriage. About four months ago, a placement firm by the name Sai Placement Agency lured four girls from the Mateli police station area. Shakti Vahini members rescued the girls with the help of West Bengal Police. The agency was found to be fake and the trafficker Neelima Sharma was arrested after an FIR (number 223/12 under section 363/366/374 dated 21/11.2012) was lodged with the Mateli police. Though the trend of migration by tribal girls started way back in 2000, the exodus has taken a massive proportion in last five to six years after several tea gardens were declared sick. Many of these tea estates do not even have primary schools and heathcare facilities. There is hardly any penetration by organizations that work for the welfare of the tribals. Jalpaiguri police are aware of the magnitude of the problem and admitted that there is need to do much more to prevent trafficking. Police’s anti-trafficking activities like awareness programmes are restricted to educational institutions, a place that is out of bounds to the girls here. “Poverty is the main issue. Unless it is addressed, the girls here will remain vulnerable. Though we cannot do much on that front, we are working on other preventive measures. Few days back we arrested two agents in Banarhat for trying to lure some girls. We need to penetrate deeper into the tea gardens. Officers-in-charge of all police stations have been asked to maintain records of girls who are going away for work, the persons taking them away, contacts of employers in collaboration with the local panchayats,” said Jalpaiguri SP Amit P Javalgi. The schemes for the poor, like the BPL card and old age pension, are distant dreams. Most are not even aware of the existence of such schemes. There is no effort worth mentioning on part of local politicians for uplift the economic status of this tribal population. A major portion of the funds under schemes like NREGA are being pocketed by local panchayats. “Recently we found misappropriation of NREGA funds by the local panchayat. Many garden workers were made to sign that they were paid for 100 days work, whereas these illiterate workers were paid only for seven days. We were even threatened by some panchayat members for unearthing this information and educating workers on their rights and dues,” said Omega Minj, a field worker… (Times of India 4/3/13)

 

7. Congress walks-out on human trafficking (1)

BHOPAL: The Opposition Congress on Wednesday staged a walk-out in the state assembly on the issue of 4,990 minor girls who have gone missing over the past five years from the state. The Congress suspected that these girls could have become victims of human trafficking and alleged that neither the government nor the police were taking any serious heed of the increasing number of such cases. During the Question Hour, the matter was brought-up by Congress MLA Ram Niwas Rawat who asked in the House: Will the home minister tell us whether the police headquarters has information about girls being abducted for human trafficking? If so, from 2008 to January 2013 how many such cases have been reported and from which districts?” Rawat wanted to know the number of persons arrested in connection to human trafficking cases. The Congress also asked if special cells were constituted in the districts of Gwalior and Shivpuri to stop human trafficking and the facilities these cells were provided so they could work efficiently. In reply, home minister Uma Shankar Gupta admitted that the police had such information that girls were going missing. From 2008 onwards, 4990 minor girls were reported as missing. Human trafficking and the sale of minor girls is a matter of great concern for us,” the home minister said. He explained that 426 accused were arrested and special anti-human trafficking cells have been constituted in Gwalior and Shivpuri under the supervision of a joint superintendent of police for each cell to control the menace. Gupta added that the special cells have been provided with vehicles, motorcycles, computers, furniture and all other infrastructure. But the Congress was not convinced. Rawat argued that all reports of missing girls are only registered as missing reports while cases should be registered for buying and selling of minor girls under sections 372 and 373 of the IPC. Uma Shankar Gupta defended that every case cannot be put one a set of IPC sections. There are circumstances when girls come back to their homes and the parents don’t come back to tell the police that their ward is back. So not every case is that of human trafficking,” he added. Congress leader of Opposition Ajay Singh told the House that the state government did not seem to be serious on the issue. He said while the state runs a ‘Beti Bachao Abhiyan’ against female foeticide, it was not concerned about girl children being abducted and sold. The state is not serious about such a sensitive issue and hence, we are walking out,” he said. All Congress MLAs followed him out of the House. (Times of India 7/3/13)

 

8. Cong stages walkout over ‘missing’ girls (1)

Bhopal: Main Opposition in the State Assembly, Congress on Wednesday staged a walkout over the alleged police failure to trace 4,990 minor girls who have gone missing in the State in five years. Raising the matter during the Question Hour, Ramniwas Rawat (Congress) alleged that the Government was spending crores of rupees on ‘Beti Bachao Andolan’ but was not concerned over such a large number of missing girls. He sought that a human trafficking case should be registered in the matter. Home Minister Uma Shankar Gupta said 29,828 girls had gone missing from 2008 to 2013. Of them, 24,838 girls were traced while special teams were formed to trace the remaining 4,990. Pointing out that such incidents did not come under human trafficking, Gupta said a case of human trafficking was registered only when a victim was sold or purchased. The Home Minister said that Government had formed an anti-trafficking cell in Shivpuri and Gwalior to curb human trafficking. He said that 87 cases related to human trafficking of 40 adults and 138 minors were registered in 25 districts from 2008 to 2013. In these cases, 426 persons were arrested out of 491 accused. Dissatisfied with the reply, Congress members created uproar for about seven minutes, despite Speaker Ishwardas Rohani saying the matter was serious and police were making efforts. However, Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh said the State government and the Minister concerned were not serious over the issue and led a walkout by Opposition members. In reply to a written query by Arif Aqueel of Congress, the Home Minister said 7,306 cases of rape with of minors were registered from 2008 to 2013. Later, while talking to media persons, the Home Minister stated that figures did not indicate so many girls are missing. “The figure is on the higher side because most parents who approach police for filing cases do not revert,” he added. (Pioneer 8/3/13)

 

9. Trafficking of girls on rise along Indo-Pak border: NCW head (1)

Panchkula: Chairperson of National Commission for Women (NCW), Mamta Sharma, on Friday said that the trafficking of girls has seen a rise in Rajasthan along the Indo-Pak border. Speaking on the occasion of Women’s Day on Friday at the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL), Sharma said that it is a matter of concern that “girls are being trafficked to Afghanistan and Pakistan along the border in Rajasthan.” She also added that the trafficking of girls was also happening along the country’s border with Nepal and the matter had earlier been taken up with the Napal government. The NCW Chairperson highlighted other issues of concern, such as child marriages happening in rural areas of the country as well as the declining sex ratio. “Female foeticide is one of the main reasons for decline in sex ratio and it is alarming in some areas and destabilizes the population dynamics,” said Sharma. She also added that the other major area of concern is domestic violence and also emphasised on the need for change in the mindset to arrest incidents of “family violence.” She said that harassment to woman is not only happening in “poor” families but is also rampant in the families of well-to-do people. “We have received cases of harassment from all sections of society including business families and those of bureaucrats. We need to change the mindset to ensure that domestic violence ends,” she said. The NWC Chairperson also emphasised pointed out that women have already made their mark in different spheres of activity in society. She however said that there is more that needs to be done to ensure gender equality, particularly in the work place. Mamta Sharma also expressed concern over the recent Delhi gang rape and made her anguish clear over the incidents of cops misbehaving with women. She said that there is a need to rein in on the police force to prevent incidents of public thrashing of women. (Indian Express 9/3/13)

 

10. We need coordination between police and society, says SSP (1)

Ranchi: A meeting on preventing violence against women and children was convened on Friday under the joint aegis of Women Helpline, Child Line, Ranchi police and resource institutes. The chief guest for this convention, Ranchi SSP Saket Kumar Singh, emphasised on coordination between police department and social bodies for preventing atrocities against women and children more efficiently and smoothly. Earlier in his address, Director, Xavier Institute of Social Service, Father Ranjit Toppo too pointed out the need for harmony between police and civil society when it comes to sensitive cases involving women and children. “Whenever members of a NGO go to rescue victims of human trafficking or child labour and such, they should inform the police beforehand. This way, not only will they have help ready for them, if need be, also no one will question their authority,” the SSP said. He suggested that the NGO workers should get themselves registered under the ‘Police Mitra’ initiative so that they do not have to face such problems. Talking about the never-ending problem of human trafficking in the State, he said, “There is scarcity of jobs in Jharkhand, especially in the rural areas. That is why, people are compelled to migrate to earn their living and then, they fall prey to human trafficking. Even after they are rescued, they cannot be rehabilitated due to fewer jobs and again have to head for other States. So the best and only solution is to provide good jobs close by, especially in rural areas.” When asked about the issue of minor drug abuse in the city, he stated, “The medicines’ sale can only be partially regulated, even if they are intoxicating. Same is the case with the adhesive Dendrite, another intoxicant used by youngsters. Parents and teachers should try to observe any behavioural changes in the child to detect drug abuse.” He also promoted the victims of eve-teasing, domestic violence, human trafficking and such to come forward and file a complaint in writing and assured that their problems will be solved immediately. “Awareness and bravery can help keeping any problem at bay,” Trainee DSP Nisha Murmu said during the meeting. (Pioneer 9/3/13)

 

DALITS/ SCHEDULED CASTES

11. Dalits return land, can keep houses (2)

Faridkot: The fear of turning homeless has passed off for nearly 60 Dalit families.

On Friday at Bir Sikhan Wala village in this district, the Maharval Kheva Ji Trust of Faridkot and the families reached an amicable solution. The agreement says that the Dalits would remain on the trust land on which they have their houses but vacate another about 5 acres they use for various purposes. The sitting down for agreement was forced by the outcome of a court decision on the dispute, in which Bohar Singh of Bir Sikhan Wala and others had pleaded for making the possession of land legal. The Dalits lost the case because the 15 acres, on the most part of which they made 150 houses more than 50 years ago, is the property of Raja Haridner Singh, former ruler of the erstwhile princely estate of Faridkot, which after his death, is cared by the Maharwal Kheva Ji Trust. After the order of the Faridkot court, nearly all Dalit people on the land were illegal occupants of the site in khasra 342. After the verdict, however, efforts were made for settlement, which both parties reached on Friday. After the trustees sought help from the court in executing the order, the revenue department had asked the police for force to support the operation to demarcate the site for the trust. The kanungo of Panjgrain Kalan had first written to the police for security before the February 11 eviction plan but there could be no operation that day. The court had again instructed the officials concerned to implement the order before Saturday (March 2). On Friday, a heavy police contingent, quick reaction team, and fire brigade were at the village to avoid any clash and the trust had the possession back smoothly. “We were there to implement the court orders but out of sympathy, the trust agreed to spare the Dalit houses,” confirmed tehsildar Darshan Singh Sidhu. “The MKJ Trust, however, will reclaim the land that is vacant.” “Everything was peaceful. The force didn’t have to prevent anything,” said Bikramjeet Singh, deputy superintendent of police from Jaitu, who was at the site. (Hindustan Times 1/3/13)

 

12.  ‘Government not looking after Dalits’ (2)

Hassan: State secretary of Dalit Sangharsh Samiti (Ambedkar Vada) Mavalli Shankar on Sunday alleged that the State government was more interested in granting crores of rupees to religious institutions than looking after the poor and Dalits. He was speaking after inaugurating a programme, organised by the Hassan district wing of the DSS, to mark Jyotiba Phule’s birth anniversary. Mr. Shankar claimed that a large number of government schools and hostels had been closed in the last few years, denying hundreds of students the opportunity to study. He also took serious exception to the government’s “lack of action” against the former president of the Karnataka Unaided Schools’ Management Association president G.S. Sharma for his alleged derogatory remarks on admitting children under the 25 per cent quota of the Right to Education Act. Praising Jyotiba Phule as the first man to open a school for girl children in India, Mr. Shankar said the students should be taught about his contribution. “Students should be made to remember Jyotiba Phule,” he said. Artist K.T. Shivaprasad and D.G. Krishne Gowda were present at the programme. (The Hindu 4/3/13)

 

13. Tension in Bhiwani village after clash over wedding tradition performed by dalit boy (2)

BHIWANI: Police have been deployed in a village of Bhiwani district in Haryana following a clash between dalits and upper-caste youths during a wedding ceremony on Friday night. The situation had turned tense when some upper caste youths forcibly stopped a dalit groom from performing ghurchari, a traditional marriage ceremony in which the groom rides a mare and takes a round of the village. An uneasy calm prevailed in Ratera village even on Monday, four days after the clash in which over a dozen persons, including women, had received injuries. Police on Saturday had registered a case under various sections of IPC and SC/ST Act against 20 upper caste youths and arrested ten of them on Sunday. However, with no comprise struck between the two parties, the entire village is living under a shadow of fear, sources said. The dalit victim’s family on Monday called on police officials and demanded the arrest of all accused as around ten persons are still roaming free in the village. The dalit groom, Rakesh Kumar, 24, who is employed as a conductor with Haryana Roadways, had got married on Friday. Before going to his bride’s village to tie the knot, the marriage ceremony of ghurchari was being performed in the village on Friday when some upper caste men objected, saying that ghurchari by dalits is not allowed in the village. “Though police have arrested ten persons, some more are still present in the village, who could be a threat to us. We met the SP today and demanded that all the accused should be arrested”, Rakesh’s aunt Indravati Devi said. Bhiwani SP Simerdeep Singh said that police had nabbed ten persons and deployed force in the village and at the house of the victim. “The situation is normal in the village. A probe has started into the case. Whoever found guilty would be arrested as police have booked the accused under various sections of IPC and SC/ST Act”, he said. (Times of India 5/3/13)

 

14. Panchayat imposes social boycott of Dalits (2)

Patna: A panchayat in Bihar’s Kishanganj district has imposed social and economic boycott of Dalits as a deterrent to their filing of cases under the Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Dosia panchayat of Charakhpura village called upon the village not to sell provisions to Dalits and exclude them from other facilities. The problem began after a Muslim woman had a fight with a Dalit girl over picking up dung from a field. “The woman assaulted the girl. After this, there were rumours that Dalits were planning to file a case under the Atrocities Act. In anticipation, the mukhiya, sarpanch and zilla parishad [ZP] members had a meeting in which they told the Muslim community to socially and economically boycott Dalits. They said Dalits were filing cases under the Act,” Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar told The Hindu . An FIR under the Act was filed against 15 persons, including village head Anwar Alam and ZP members. No one has been arrested yet. Tension prevailed in the village for some time on Tuesday. (The Hindu 6/3/13)

 

15. K’pada village Dalits denied school, road by upper caste (2)

KENDRAPADA: Dalits from Karandiapatana village under Mehendipur Gram Panchayat under Marshaghai block on Monday urged District Collector Durga Prasad Behera for a primary school and a road in their village after the upper caste people assaulted and ostracized them over a land dispute in February, 2010. District Welfare Officer (DWO) Charulata Mallick said the Dalits met the District Collector in the grievance cell and told him that their children were earlier abused and misbehaved with by the upper caste villagers when they attended the school. Their children were told not to use the road which passes through the houses of upper caste people. They said the Dalits were harassed for over three years. They said that they were forced to admit their children in a neighbouring school at Japada, about 1.5 km from the village after taking school leaving certificate from the local school. District Collector Behera directed the DPC of SSA to take steps for sanctioning a project primary school for the Dalits and a road. When contacted, SSA DPC Kailash Chandra Das stated that the district administration has written to the Mass Education department for sanctioning a project primary school for the Dalit children. Notably, the Dalits of Karandiapatana village drew the wrath of the upper caste people on February 18, 2010 over digging of earth from a Goochar land for the construction of a Hanuman temple. The upper caste people forcibly entered into their houses and ransacked the houses by throwing household items, utensils and clothes by damaging valuable household items. Even they had allegedly molested the Dalit women. Later, the police had nabbed 10 upper caste persons for creating the mayhem. At least 25 Dalit children of Karandiapatana village in Kendrapada district’s Marsaghai block had allegedly been compelled to obtain school leaving certificates (SLC) from Surendra Vidyapith in Rankal village and got themselves admitted to another school. The National Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Department had funded sum of Rs 2.09 lakh as financial assistance to the Dalit victims of the village. Later, the district administration had distributed compensation amount to 43 Dalits. Notably, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) in March, 2010 had intervened in the matter and sought report from the District Collector and the SP on the issue. (Pioneer 7/3/13)

 

16. Dy SP’s murder could unravel grand anti-dalit plan (2)

NEW DELHI: The continuing outrage over the murder of a Muslim police officer threatens to neutralize the cunningly crafted Samajwadi plan to use “promotion quota” to mobilize Muslims, backwards and upper castes on the anti-dalit plank. The young widow’s finger of suspicion at Mulayam Singh Yadav protege and Kunda MLA Raja Bhaiya has locked the Samajwadis into a defensive posture, unable to rebuff the accusation for fear of sending a negative signal to Muslims. Reports that DySP Zia-ul-Haq was finalizing a report on a communal attack that could implicate Raja Bhaiya’s aides has compounded the sensitivity of the issue. The murder as a sign of growing law and order problem under Akhilesh Yadav’s watch could dash Mulayam’s hope of cobbling together a wider social coalition sans dalits who vote for Mayawati, a hope raised by the response to his decision to oppose “promotion quota”.Disquiet among Muslims is palpable but compounding the Samajwadi misery is the disappointment among upper caste-middle classes who see their worst fears on law and order coming true. Now, if CBI arrests Raja Bhaiya and he faces prolonged incarceration, SP could face the anger of the influential Thakurs whom it has been wooing, ironically, through leaders like the Kunda MLA. The damage potential of Zia’s shooting was evident in Parliament this week as Samajwadis uncharacteristically discouraged the “religious angle” to the incident while the rivals went on the offensive. The political class is unanimous that SP’s fate would depend on how the Kunda murder unfolds in the coming days. If widow Parveen Azad, already being seen as a symbol of courage, continues to raise suspicion on the Samajwadi-Raja Bhaiya combo, it could have disastrous consequences. The signs are ominous as Parveen urged visiting Congress MPs Nirmal Khatri and junior home minister RPN Singh on Friday that “CBI team from Delhi should probe the case” – betraying fears that local sleuths could be influenced. Since winning Lucknow an year ago, Samajwadis have been into an extended campaign mode for 2014, coalescing non-dalits under the party banner and doling out benefits to bait the poor. However, Muslims have been seething at rising communal incidents after the absolute peace under Mayawati. Zia’s murder, rivals claim, can do to SP what hushing up of Rizwanur Rahman’s killing did to the Left regime in Bengal. (Times of India 9/3/13)

 

LAND ACQUISITION/ SEZ

17. Land acquisition for Posco resumes (4)

DHINKIA (ODISHA), March 3, 2013: As uneasy calm prevailed after the death of three anti-POSCO project activists in a bomb explosion in Patna village on Saturday, the Jagatsinghpur district administration resumed acquiring land on Sunday for the South Korean major’s mega steel plant. The betel vines of three persons were torn down at Gobindpur without any resistance — many residents had fled the villages fearing police action — and Rs. 10.45 lakh was paid in compensation. “We have destroyed three vineyards. Land acquisition will be carried out on a bigger scale in the coming days,” Superintendent of Police Satyabrata Bhoi said. The administration said one person was also seriously injured in Saturday’s explosion. But the Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, which has been spearheading the movement against land acquisition, has urged all political parties and rights organisations to carry out an independent investigation, charging the police with spreading a false propaganda over the deaths. “The police claim that three persons lost their lives while preparing bombs is rubbish. In the past eight years of our struggle, we have never taken up arms. In fact, bombs were hurled at the three activists, who were in hiding for fear of police action. As heavy police deployment was made prior to the resumption of land acquisition, project supporters got excited and executed the fatal attack,” PPSS president Abhaya Sahoo said. “The incident will not stop us from carrying forward our movement. We will intensify it, though the government machinery and hired criminals are being used to pin us down,” he said. As many as 12 police platoons were deployed in the area. Last month, the Odisha government destroyed 20 betel vineyards. Observers said the government was under tremendous pressure to complete the acquisition of 2,700 acres for the POSCO India Private Limited to set up the eight million tonne-a-year plant, which was announced seven years ago. (The Hindu 3/3/13)

 

18. State government to take action against Industries acquiring private land without approval (4)

BHUBANESWAR: Faced with criticism over its ‘inconsistent’ policy on land acquisition, the State government on Saturday decided to take 125 companies to take to task for purchasing private land without obtaining its decision. Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Surya Narayan Patro informed that 140 companies had purchased 5350.40 acres of private land in the State, but only 15 of these companies had taken due government approval prior to acquiring the land. “Only 15 companies have taken approval for acquiring 1876.05 acres of land as per 73 (C) of Odisha Land Reforms Act. Rest 125 companies have purchased 3474.35 acres of land without any approval,” Mr. Patro said. The Minister directed district magistrates to file cases against the companies those had acquired land exceeding ceiling limit as per Odisha Land Reforms Act. “Tehsildars who have fraudulently recorded land in favour of these companies should face disciplinary action. Besides, district magistrates should take steps to cancel record of rights settled in favour of the companies,” Mr. Patro said in a statement issued here. Recently, a draft performance audit report by Comptroller and Auditor General of India pointed out irregularities committed in land acquisition by industries. As per the draft report, Steel and Mines Department had signed memorandum of understanding with industrial houses making commitments therein for land, water and minerals and thereafter allotted the same. The report had pointed out in eight out of 19 test checked MoUs-based industries in audit, administrative approval for acquisition of 1,745 acres of private land was given with approval of Minister of Steel and Mines prior to signing of MoU with the promoters, which was highly irregular and is indicative of extension of undue favour to private promoters. As many as 93 MoUs were signed by the State government with private companies between 2001 and 2012 for setting up of industries in the State. As of March 2012, 35,793 acres of land (25012 acres of acquired private land and 10781 acres of government land) was allotted to 54 MoU-based industries. After leakage of the draft report, sources in RDM department said, an internal investigation was set up (The Hindu 4/3/13)

 

19. Govt not to acquire land for Posco from Patana village (4)

Paradip (Odisha), March 6, 2013: Odisha government has decided not to acquire any area for now at Patana village where three anti-Posco activists died while allegedly making bombs even as land acquisition for Posco steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district continued for the fourth day on Wednesday. “Land acquisition was carried out and 10 betel vine plantations were razed to the ground at Gobindpur village with the cooperation of villagers,” Additional District Magistrate (Paradip) Surjit Das said. As many as 65 trees were also cut during today’s operations, he said, adding Rs 17 lakh would be paid to the farmers whose betel vineyards were demolished and trees cut. About 200 acres of land had been acquired since the current phase of acquisition began on Sunday, Das said, adding the process would continue as many villagers were voluntarily coming forward to hand over land. About 250 acres of land had been acquired during four days of acquisition drive undertaken last month, the ADM said. However, it has been decided not to undertake any land acquisition operation at Patana village for now, he said adding that earlier it had been made clear that no land would be acquired in Dhinkia village for the mega steel project. Three anti-Posco activists were killed and another was critically injured while allegedly preparing bombs on Saturday near a house at Patana village. While police maintained that explosion took place during bomb preparation, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), an anti-project body, alleged there was a bomb attack by supporters of Posco. As land acquisition resumed on Sunday after remaining suspended since February 6, armed policemen in strength camped in the area to ensure trouble-free operation. Patna village under Dhinkia grampanchayat, considered the epi-centre of the anti-Posco agitation, continued to remain cordoned off by armed policemen. PPSS leaders said they would oppose land acquisition for the mega steel project as it would affect local farmers. (The Hindu 6/3/13)

 

20. Differing with Mamata, MP quits as industry advisor (4)

Kolkata: Differences with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue of land for industry may have prompted senior Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy to quit as advisor to the West Bengal Industries, Commerce and Information Technology departments. Differences with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on the issue of land for industry may have prompted senior Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy to quit as advisor to the West Bengal Industries, Commerce and Information Technology departments. While Mr. Roy, who was entrusted with drafting an industrial policy, refused to comment on his resignation, senior leaders in the party said he had sent his resignation to the Chief Minister on Wednesday evening. His recent remark that “there is no scope to bring big industries to the State” because of paucity of land and the government’s policy on land acquisition was in sharp contrast with the claims of Ms. Banerjee and Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee. Both of them are maintaining that proposals for investments of over Rs. 2 lakh crore in the State have been made since the Trinamool came to power. Asked about Mr. Roy’s resignation, Mr. Chatterjee told journalists here on Thursday that he had “no information as yet” and “there is no difference between us.” Mr. Roy “is a veteran leader of the Trinamool,” he added. However, Opposition leaders said Mr. Roy had to quit for having tried to give the government some “rational” suggestions for attracting big investments. “The advisor lost his job for giving proper advice,” said Communist Party of India (Marxist) Central Committee member Mohd. Salim. “What he said was correct but in the party [Trinamool] if something is not in agreement with Ms. Banerjee’s views then such is the fate people have to suffer,” Mr. Salim said. Congress leader Omprakash Mishra said many others would also quit their posts as the government had made very little progress in attracting investments. “The Trinamool government has neither a proper land policy nor a policy to attract industries. In this situation, is not possible for people like Mr. Roy to continue their work,” Rahul Sinha, State BJP president, said. Seven former Union Ministers from the Trinamool, including Mr. Roy, were made advisors to various departments in October 2012 after the party had withdrawn support to the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre in September. (The Hindu 7/3/13)

 

21. Road Min mulling policy change for BOT projects (4)

New Delhi: With several projects hitting roadblocks due to inordinate delay in land and environmental clearances, the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ submission to the Supreme Court on Thursday will pave the way for kick-starting pending projects. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has already been deliberating over a policy change for the Built Operate Transfer (BOT) projects mired in controversy over land, environmental and other clearances. The Ministry is considering inviting bids only after obtaining mandatory land and environmental clearances for faster execution of highway projects. At present, request for proposal (RFP) is given before getting these clearances. “All necessary clearances for a project have to be obtained before the RFP is called by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). “State related issues, in many cases political, also affect the projects. Before inviting bids, the authority will have to obtain the agreement details from State(s) which will obviously be backed by the Centre. For this discussions are at a preliminary stage with the Finance Ministry for a single-window system,” said a top MoRTH official. Inordinate delay in land acquisition, environmental, forest and other related clearances have become a roadblock in the construction of highways. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha early this week, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways Sarvey Sathyanarayana admitted that development of highways has been a casualty of delay in land acquisition, environmental and forest clearances etc. Alarm bells started ringing in the Ministry after key players like GMR, GVK, Larsen and Toubro, backed out of projects citing inordinate delay in getting clearances. This affected projects nearly worth Rs 50,000 crore, and according to NHAI sources many more companies may withdraw from road projects. GVK Power and Infrastructure and GMR Infrastructure has terminated contracts for major highways like the Shivpuri-Dewas Expressway in Madhya Pradesh and Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad highway last month. With big players exiting from major road projects, the officials also pondered over allowing an easy exit or changeovers for the developers from existing or under-construction projects. The apex body of highway builders National Highways Builders Federation (NHBF) has written several times including very recently to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, seeking a direction to NHAI to invite bids only after acquiring land and putting other clearances in place. The NHBF stated there are projects where the NHAI is yet to specify dates for execution of work as there have been no environment and forest clearances. Several of them have problems related to land acquisition, they said. Peeved by the dismal performance in road construction, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) early this week had discussed many issues and measures needed to resolve them. There was also a discussion over compensating the concessionaires in the event of delays due to clearances of projects besides a proposal that developers can change mid-way or be allowed to exit. “We are also worried about another situation wherein one developer is involved in more than one project and then makes an exit from most of them citing a financial crunch. They invest simultaneously in projects like power, roads, shipping, etc where there is a coordination problem and then they seek financial review from the Government in other stakes. This also hampers other projects and the Finance Ministry is reviewing the matter, especially for those involved in roads and highway projects,” added the official. (Pioneer 8/3/13)

 

TRIBALS

22. Tribals not trespassers: HC (6)

Kochi: The Kerala High Court has held that tribal or forest dwellers cannot be termed trespassers when they reside in the forest and eke out a living by collecting forest produce. They cannot be called so especially when they have not caused serious damages to the forest, the court observed. Justice B Kemal Pasha made the observation, while allowing an appeal filed by three tribal people, challenging a two-month imprisonment awarded by the Thodupuzha Judicial First Class Magistrate. The three accused admitted trespassing into reserve forest and clearing reeds in an attempt to take possession of the forest land. The petitioners had challenged the verdict before the Sessions Court but it had dismissed the plea. Government Pleader (Forests) submitted before the court that on the date of occurrence, they had no authority to collect reeds or to trespass into reserve forest. The court, however, observed that from time immemorial, the forest dwellers and their ancestors have been occupying the reserve forest. (Indian Express 1/3/13)

 

23. Tribals protest, demand title deeds (6)

Madikeri: Demanding title deeds for the forest dwellers, Budakattu Krishikara Sangha office-bearers and tribals staged a protest in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office on Friday. The protesters said that the areas where tribals resided inside the forests should be declared as notified area. The administration should initiate measures to distribute community and individual title deeds under Forest Rights Act. The protesters took out a procession from Sudarshan Circle. Addressing the protesters, Sangha district unit president J P Raju said that the district administration should implement Forest Rights Act effectively in the district. “Tribals have been residing in the forests for generations. However, officials have violated the Act by not distributing individual and community title deeds for the forest dwellers. The government has failed to educate the tribals on the recommendations made by Prof Madhav Gadgil committee,” he said. Madikeri taluk unit president Kudiyara Muthappa said that the Centre and state governments had chalked out several programmes for the welfare of the tribals. But authorities had failed to implement the same. The BJP-led State government has done injustice to the tribals by failing to announce any special package for the tribals in the State budget. It has however announced special packages for mutts and religious institutions, he alleged. Also, Kodagu had three Assembly constituencies in the past. But by delimiting it to two, the government has done injustice to the tribals. The tribals should be given an opportunity to select an MLA from the community in Kodagu, Chamarajanagar, Mysore, Chikmagalur districts, he added. (Deccan Herald 3/3/13)

 

24. ‘We can’t rid Odisha of Maoists sans tribal help’ (6)

BHAWANIPATNA : In recognition of rights of the tribals for cutting bamboo in the forests and sell it in the market, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh, accompanied by Union Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj V Kishore Chandra Deo and State Revenue Minister Surjya Narayan Patro, handed over bamboo transit passes to the tribals at a Gram Sabha at Jamguda village of M- Rampur block in Kalahandi district on Sunday. Ramesh said that in India, 82 districts have been declared Maoist-hit out of which 18 are in Odisha. “I personally visited six out of these 18 in Odisha and I must also cover the other districts and improve the situation in favour of the tribals.” he said, adding, “Without help of tribals we can’t eliminate the Maoists. Both the Central and State Governments should understand why the tribals are joining hands with the Maoists.” Jamguda is the second village in India after Mandalekha of Gadchirolli district in Maharashtra where bamboo transit passbooks are executed, said Ramesh, As per the Forest Rights Act 2006, the Gram Sabhas would hand over the transit passes to the tribals for sale of the forest produce in the market at the actual price, he said. Ramesh said that according to the FRA, as many as 3,25,000 land pattas have been handed over to people in Odisha while rights over only 2,000 community forests have been given. “In two years, we have issued bamboo transit passes only in two villages of the country, but we hope that with the joint efforts of the States and the Centre this can be done in all areas,” he said. (Pioneer 4/3/13)

 

25. In Chhattisgarh, tribal women retract rape charges (6)

Dantewada (Chhattisgarh), March 6, 2013: Of the six tribal women of Shamsetti village in Sukma district of Chhattisgarh who in 2009 gave statements in court that they had been gang-raped by Salwa Judum functionaries, three have now withdrawn their charges. Three key witnesses — family members of the women — have also retracted their statements. Some lawyers in Dantewada familiar with the case say that the women are withdrawing due to “severe pressure” from several quarters. Many Salwa Judum members have now been inducted into the regular police force as constables. The lawyers say that the remaining victims and witnesses may appear in court soon and retract their statements. “It is difficult to say whether their complaints were made under pressure or the withdrawal. But the way they are turning hostile it is a matter of time before the accused, who are on bail, are set free,” said Mamta Sharma, the chief public prosecutor at Dantewada court, who is defending the women. “Clearly there is severe pressure on these women, else why would they retract their statements?” a lawyer said on condition of anonymity. Sudha Bharadwaj, the lawyer who represented the Shamsetti women in the Konta court where the statements were recorded, said the women and their relatives recorded their statements through a translator in 2009. “The magistrate did not record any unusual demeanour on their part. Surprisingly, in these cases the accused were granted bail even prior to withdrawal, meaning prosecution did not seriously oppose bail and no departmental enquiry, not that I know of, was carried out against the accused, who are State employees,” she said. In December 2012, The Hindu reported about six tribal women who had come forward to lodge formal complaints of gang rape against Special Police Officers (SPO) of the now defunct anti-Maoist vigilante force Salwa Judum, amidst allegations of hundreds of rapes in the conflict-ridden south Chhattisgarh between 2005 and 2009. With some of them withdrawing their statements now, many in Dantewada, Chattisgarh, are asking if this was yet another instance of miscarriage of justice — one in which the State actively connived. In the first week of February 2013, Mira and Sanika (names changed) retracted their statements in front of the sessions judge of Dantewada, A. K. Beck. According to their statements given in June 2009 before the judicial magistrate of Konta, Amrit Kerketta, both women, along with four others, had described how they were gang-raped in 2006 by seven SPOs of Sukma district. However, in their latest statements, copies of which are with The Hindu, Mira and Sanika stated that “nothing ever happened” to them. Mira said, “I never went to the police station to complain. I never submitted any complaint letter in the Konta court or made any statement in any court.” The legal fraternity in Dantewads is questioning the validity of the retractions. “Are we to assume that the magistrate in Konta recorded false statements? Or that the women are faking statements now,” asked a lawyer. An investigation by The Hindu revealed that one of the accused, Kwashi Mangalram, was picking up the complainants and witnesses from Shamsetti and bringing them to the court. Mr. Mangalram denied the accusation and said he was not pressurising the women. An SPO-turned-peon in Dornapal School, he said, “I am inspired by Communist thought, you can check with CPI leaders. I am against such actions [rape].” Last Saturday, at the Dantewada court, another complainant, Era (name changed), retracted her statement. When asked by the court if she knew one of the accused, Madkam Kama, a constable from Erabore, the young Muria Gond girl took a cursory look at him and denied having seen him before hurrying away. However, Era had accused Kama of rape four years ago in court. On Saturday, she denied having made a statement in 2009. While Era was retracting her statements inside the court, four of the main accused, Kiche Nanda, Biddu Raja, Markam Kama, Kwashi Mangalram — all former SPOs — were seated on a bench outside. Nanda, who headed the dreaded Nanda group at the peak of the Salwa Judum movement, denied his involvement in the gang rape when he spoke to this correspondent in December. Markam Kama, another accused, also refuted the charges against him and said: “I am seeing this girl [Era] for the first time.” (The Hindu 6/3/13)

 

26. British salesman ‘crowned’ king of Andhra tribal village (6)

London: A former insurance salesman from Wales has been crowned king of a village in India. Barry Watson was given the title King Bazza after helping to rescue scores of families from life on a rat-infested rubbish dump. The Yanadi tribe from Andhra Pradesh have even named their village Barrypuram in his honour, the Daily Express reported. The 60-year-old father of four forked out 20,000 pounds so they could build huts with light and water and funded a school and a church. He also spent months teaching the villagers to become self-sufficient. “I wanted to give them a better life without the trappings of Western civilisation, keeping their own culture. On the tip they had nothing. Their life expectancy was only about 40,” he said. Barry was inspired to help after meeting Julie Davies, who runs the Elizabeth-Ann charity in memory of her 16-year-old daughter. He set up a charity of his own, Help The Village, and dedicated his life to raising funds for the community. He has helped the village women start a sewing business so they can earn money. Barry, who lives with wife Shirley, 47, in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, now makes regular trips to India to continue his philanthropic work. His impact has been so profound the community look upon him as their spiritual leader. (Indian Express 9/3/13)

 

LABOUR/ MGNREGA

27. ‘Centre should consider legitimate demands of labour unions’ (14)

Raipur: It was shocking to see that the Government of India let the labour unions go on strike, said Jyrki Raina, general secretary of Industri ALL Global Union, the biggest union working for the welfare of labourers across the world. Raina on his maiden visit to Chhattisgarh, after returning from Bangladesh, said this while talking to the media on Friday. Raina said, “The Government of India would have learnt a lesson after the strike and would now consider the legitimate demands of labour unions.” IndustriALL Global, with its headquarters in Geneva, is a global labour union working for about 50 million workers in 140 countries in the mining, energy and manufacturing sectors. Earlier, Raina, along with the South Asia regional secretary of the organisation, Sudarshan Rao Sarde met the managing director of Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), Pankaj Gautam and discussed with him issues related to labourers. The BSP MD said to them that the contractual labourers were being paid well in Bhilai Steel Plant. “We support the demand of Indian trade unions to fix the wages or salary of contractual labourers to Rs10,000 per month. Rs10,000 or about $200 is the global standard wages for labourers and we demand the same for Indians,” he said. Informing about the recent initiatives taken by Governments of other nations he said, “Recently, the Indonesian Government had raised the minimum wages of labourers to $200. Similarly, the Chinese Government was raising the wages of labourers step by step and labourers in Thailand earn around $300 every month.” Lashing out at the industrial houses, Raina said that industrial houses were replacing permanent workers with contractual labourers to cut down the establishment expenses. The contractual labourers were paid half and at some place less than half of what was being paid to the regular workers for the same work, he added. Raina said IndustriALL Global Union would keep on supporting the labour movement in India. (Pioneer 2/3/13)

 

28. Unorganised workers to protest today (14)

NEW DELHI: While the Budget Session of Parliament is going on, a large number of rural and urban workers from the unorganised sector, including elderly women and men, farmers, labourers, domestic workers, waste-pickers are expected to come together at Jantar Mantar here today (Monday) for a four-day protest. With the slogan of “APL-BPL khatam karo, sabko ration, pension do” and “Give work to every hand, give full pay for all work, give rest in old age”, they want to raise their main demands of doing away with the official distinction of Above Poverty Line (APL) and Below Poverty Line (PBL), ration and universal pension. The protest would be a part of series of peoples’ campaigns since May 2012, where senior citizens and marginal communities have assembled at Jantar Mantar during every Parliament session—monsoon, winter and now budget— in order to emphasize that Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, secured urban employment and livelihoods, and pension for the elderly have to go together to ensure the dignity and survival of the 94 per cent workforce in the unorganised sector. In their appeal for universal pension, activists Aruna Roy and Baba Adhav, highlighted the irony faced by workers when they turn old. “Workers have given the best years of their lives to build our homes, till and grow grains and vegetables, lay roads, deliver every kind of backbreaking work and manual services that has made our lives possible inside and outside our homes. Yet in old age they face insecurity, hunger and hopelessness and face a life a cycle of dependence and misery.” Speaking about the unbearable plight of the elderly in drought hit districts like Latur in Maharashtra, Baba Adhav highlighted the extent of distress faced by older women. “I met 84-year-old Mudrika Savai who still works in the grocery market collecting grains that spill during loading and unloading. While offering a glass of water she asked me if she would get pension before she dies.” The five-day dharna will dedicate parts of each day to rural and urban employment, food security, pensions and social security, governance and grievance redress. On 4 March–day one–the emphasis will be on social sector budget analysis of Budget 2013. (The Hindu 4/3/13)

 

29. Labourers to have facilitation centres at three places in city (14)

VIJAYAWADA: For the first time in the State, the Labour Department is planning to construct facilitation centres-cum-rest rooms for labourers. The rest rooms will be constructed at three major ‘addas’ (labour meeting places) in the city. Following the death of five labourers in a road accident on the Highway at Benz Circle on January 14, Collector Budha Prakash M. Jyothi responded to the plight of ‘coolis’ and directed the Labour Department to construct facilitation centres, which can also be used as rest rooms for the shelter less and migrated labourers. Krishna District Commissioner of Labour (DCL) S.Y. Srinivas has said that proposals have been sent to the Commissioner for taking approval for construction of rest rooms. The Revenue Department officials have assured to allot land at Benz Circle and other places, says the DCL. “Five out of seven persons slept on the pavement at Benz Circle died when a speeding lorry fell on them. The victims were homeless. The Labour Department officials should construct the rest rooms at Rs.10 lakh each,” says Mr. Budha Prakash. Under A.P. Building and Other Construction Workers Act, rest rooms should be constructed for labourers, but the rule is not being implemented in the State. Following the directions of the district Collector, the Labour Department is taking measures for construction and maintenance of facilitation centres, says the DCL. The government has introduced several schemes for the welfare of labourers. The Labour Department disbursed Rs.1.26 crore to the labourers during 2012 under A.P. Building and Other Construction Workers Act. The Labour Officers and the Assistant Labour Officers have been instructed to take up a drive for registering labourers in Krishna district. Training is being provided for registered electricians, mason, plumber, carpentry, and other trades to hone up their skills, according to Mr. Srinivas. (The Hindu 5/3/13)

 

30. Minimum wage hiked under central scheme in state (14)

Kolkata: In another development that marks a thaw in the relations between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, just about two months before the panchayat polls, the Centre on Monday increased the minimum wages in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS) in West Bengal from Rs 136 to Rs 151. “Our demand was Rs 174 per day and for this I have written nine letters to Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh since I became minister for this department two years ago,” Subrata Mukherjee, state minister for panchayat and rural development, told The Indian Express. The state is still behind states like Haryana which has the highest wages with Rs 200, and states like Goa, Karnataka, Punjab, Delhi, among others. In 2006 when the scheme was launched the state had only Rs 68 as minimum wage. Following a meeting between officials of the panchayat department and those of the Ministry of Rural Development on February 25 in New Delhi, the Centre has fixed a target of creating 22.61 crore man days in the next year and for this a total of Rs 5432.50 crore will be spent. Out of this, while the central government will spend Rs 4919.93 crore, the state will spend Rs 512.57 crore. Cartoon row: state seeks time to file report The state government has sought six weeks’ time from the West Bengal State Human Rights Commission to file its action-taken report on its recommendation over the arrest of Prof Ambikesh Mahapatra in April last year. (Indian Express 6/3/13)

 

31. No takers for MGNREGS in 7 GPs in DK district (14)

Mangalore: Going by the available statistics, it seems to be that there are no takers for the ambitious Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in seven gram panchayats of Dakshina Kannada district, wherein below 10 households have been offered employment as on March 1.

Though 139 job cards have been issued in Padumarnadu gram panchayat, only two housesholds with six members have been given employment under the scheme. In Kilpady gram panchayat, five households with 12 members have been provided with employment. The total number of job card holders is 31. In Naringana gram panchayat, only two households with seven persons have been given employment. The number of job card holders in the GP is 469. In Kalmanja gram panchayat, employment has been given to six households with 30 members. The total number of job card holders is 125. As many as eight households with 19 persons have been given employment under the scheme in Nekkiladi gram panchayat of Puttur taluk. There are 148 registered job card holders in the gram panchayat. Five households with 11 members have been guaranteed employment in Kombaru gram panchayat of Puttur taluk. The total number of job card holders in the GP is 384. About eight households with 19 persons have been provided employment under the scheme in Balila GP of Sullia Taluk. The total number of job card holders is 211. There are 26 gram panchayats in the district wherein employment has been provided to about 20 households. This includes four Gram Panchayats each in Mangalore taluk, Bantwal and Belthangady taluks, seven GPs each in Puttur and Sullia taluks. Speaking to Deccan Herald, a few Panchayat Development Officers said that many do not come forward to take up employment under MGNREGA. “Even after pursuading them, they are not ready to work under MGNREGA as they feel that the wages are less when compared to the work in construction site, or cashew/tile factories.” About 70,835 job cards have been issued in the district so far. However, employment has been provided to 12,702 households with 31,097 persons. The total progress under MGNREGA is only 16.74 per cent. About 348 individuals have completed 100 days of work during the year. This includes—Puttur—5, Bantwal—159, Belthangady—57, Mangalore—105 and Sullia—22. Work worth Rs 983.6 lakh has been taken up in the district as on March 1. Nidle gram panchayat has taken up work worth Rs 48.79 lakh during the year. Employment has been provided to 444 households with 16,686 mandays of work. Five persons have completed 100 days of work in the GP. Work worth Rs 44.26 lakh has been implemented in Kolnadu gram panchayat. Employment has been provided to 319 households with 1025 persons. DK MGNREGA Ombudsman Sheena Shetty said that the gram panchayats which have provided employment to less than 10 households have failed to implement their action plan itself. “In many gram panchayats, the annual development plan is not prepared as per the guidelines. Plans are prepared based on the labour budget given by the Taluk Panchayat EO and not on the basis of the demand for the work. It slowly becoming a scheme based programme, which is a dangerous trend,” he said. (Deccan Heralds 6/3/13)

 

32. NREGA days of work raised to 150 (14)

JAIPUR: In a bold step aimed at improving the lives of poor, the state government has increased the guaranteed number of days of work under MGNREGA from 100 days to 150. While 100 days of work is funded by the Centre, the state has decided to fund the additional 50 days. Not just that, chief minister Ashok Gehlot in his budget speech also announced a grant of Rs 2,100 for every family who finishes 100 days of work under the flagship scheme in 2012-13. The money will be given by the government next year as a grant for self-employment. Though the move received a general appreciation, critics are taking it with a pinch of salt as it came at a time when there aren’t too many takers for the scheme in the state. “The number of people deriving benefit from the scheme has fallen drastically. A significant amount, nearly 30%, of money allocated for MGNREGA in the state is unutilized. Therefore increasing the number of work days is meaningless. It is just a gimmick,” says an activist. According to the state’s MGNREGA website, this year families have been employed under the scheme for just 37 days. “The incentive for 100 days is a lure by the government just to get its records straight. The NGREGA website itself says that only 1.11% of the people have completed 100 days of work. So where is the question of more days being granted. The grant is a lure to get families finish the 100 days of work given by the Centre before the year is over,” he said. While that may be so, the proposal to set up a fund with a grant of Rs 200 crore so that traditional water resource structures can be refurbished under MGNREGA has been lauded. The scheme restricts materials costs to just 40 % of the total expenditure though such work could not be taken up as they require more material cost. “This will now ensure that the desert state gets back many of its traditional water resource structures,” says the acitivist. The budget also allocates Rs 70,000 as grant for BPL houses under ‘Mukhyamantri BPL Awaas Yojna’ and Rs 20,000 per household for setting up 25,000 bio gas plants. Master plans will also be made for 81 villages with a population of 10,000 for which Rs 1 crore per village has been set aside while a sum of Rs 10 crore has been kept for the next financial year for preparing similar plans for villages with 5,000 population. (Times of India 7/3/13)

 

POVERTY/ HUNGER

33. Global Hunger Index, 2012 (21)

The report ‘Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2012’ by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is based on three equally weighted indicators, namely undernourishment (proportion of undernourished people as percentage of population), child underweight and child mortality. This report mentions that India has lagged behind in improving its GHI score despite strong economic growth along with the statement that GHI data is based partly on outdated data. The approach in dealing with the nutrition challenges has been two pronged: First is the Multi-sectoral approach for accelerated action on the determinants of malnutrition in targeting nutrition in schemes/ programmes of all the sectors. The second approach is the direct and specific interventions targeted towards the vulnerable groups such as children below 6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating mothers. The Government has accorded high priority to the issue of malnutrition especially among children and women including young girls and is implementing several schemes/programmes through State Governments/UT Administrations. The schemes/programmes include the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Mid-Day Meal Scheme, Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) namely SABLA, Indira Gandhi Matritva SahyogYojna (IGMSY) as direct targeted interventions. Besides, indirect multi-sectoral interventions include Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), National Horticulture Mission, National Food Security Mission, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, National Rural Drinking Water Programme etc. All these schemes have potential to address one or other aspect of Nutrition. This was stated by Smt. Krishna Tirath, Minister for Women and Child Development, in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today. (Govt. of India PIB 1/3/13)

 

34. PRI reps asked to stay alert on starvation deaths (21)

BHUBANESWAR: With allegations about starvation deaths being frequently made from many western Odisha districts, district administrations have been asked to make representatives of panchayait raj institutions (PRI) aware about their responsibilities to deal with situation. “Districts should take special measures to make the PRI representatives aware about their roles and responsibilities to deal with starvation situations and power to provide food assistance up to 10 days in deserving cases,” said P. K. Mohapatra, State special relief commissioner. Deputy Collectors and assistant collectors from all districts, who participated in a day-long orientation programme here on Wednesday, were updated about provisions in Odisha Relief Code which also deals with starvation cases. (The Hindu 2/3/13)

 

35. Supreme Court seeks Central response on Chhattisgarh PDS model (21)

NEW DELHI: Finance minister P Chidambaram may have brushed aside the Gujarat model of development but the Centre will now have to comment on the efficacy of the model set up by BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh in implementing targeted public distribution system providing subsidized food grains to the poor. The Supreme Court on Monday sought the Centre’s comment on the Raman Singh government’s model of TPDS implementation, which was repeatedly cited by petitioner People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as the one which could be taken as a model for other states to emulate. “We would like the Centre’s comment on the Chhattisgarh model because we do not have a mechanism to check. If everyone agrees that Chhattisgarh model is the best, what is the Centre’s view and can it be emulated in other states,” asked a bench of Justices TS Thakur and FM I Kalifulla. Attorney general GE Vahanvati was initially liberal in praising the implementation of TPDS by the Chhattisgarh government and said the Centre had cited the state’s example in international forums. However, when the praise grew louder, the AG said he would have to get feedback from the ministry of consumer affairs on the issue of implementation of TPDS in Chhattisgarh. PUCL counsel Colin Gonsalves said Chhattisgarh had abolished privately run fair price shops which had become dens of corruption as food grain meant for the poorest of the poor was diverted to the open market by unscrupulous elements. “Chhattisgarh has given the distribution to mahila mandals (women’s conferences) and self-help groups (SHGs). These have achieved excellent results in the state,” Gonsalves said. But the bench asked whether permitting SHGs to operate fair price shops was tested anywhere else and wanted to know what should be the time period for the switchover from private dealers to SHGs. Gonsalves cited another BJP-ruled state as an example. “Madhya Pradesh too experimented with the Chhattisgarh model to achieve huge success in reaching the poorest of the poor with subsidized food grains. Chhattisgarh first trained the mahila mandals and SHGs in running the FPS and then brought in a law abolishing private run FPS. In six months, the switchover happened,” he said. (Times of India 5/3/13)

 

36. About 30% people were below poverty line in 09-10 (21)

New Delhi: About 30 per cent of people in India were below the poverty line in 2009-10 that was based on the monthly per capita consumption expenditure (MPCE) of Rs 673 for rural areas and Rs 860 for urban areas, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. “As per the latest available information, the poverty line at all India level for 2009-10 is estimated as MPCE of Rs 673 for rural areas and Rs 860 for urban areas. “The percentage of people living below poverty line in the country in 2009-10 has been estimated at 29.8 per cent,” Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Rajeev Shukla told the Lok Sabha in a written reply. Planning Commission is the nodal agency for estimating the number of percentage of people living below poverty line, which it defines on the basis of monthly per capita consumption, he said. In reply to a separate question, Shukla said that to address the issues relating to hunger, the government has taken a number of steps to ensure food security of the people particularly those below poverty line. “Government has been providing food grains at highly subsidised prices to the targeted population through states/union territories under the Targeted Public Distribution System and other welfare schemes,” he said. Also, he added, the government has introduced National Food Security Bill in the Lok Sabha which proposes to provide food and nutritional security, in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices, to people to live a life with dignity. In addition to providing food security, the government has been implementing various welfare schemes for the poor to address issues like employment, health care, housing. Keywords: Below poverty line, India, based, monthly per capita, consumption expenditure, MPCE, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Planning Rajeev Shukla, Lok Sabha, (Business Line 6/3/13)

 

37. “India has all requirements to return to 8% growth” (21)

London: India has all the requirements to return to a GDP growth rate of 8 per cent in the coming years, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said, while highlighting that current account deficit is a big problem right now. “India has averaged 7.5 per cent growth in the last 10 years. It should have done that for 15 years but it is possible to bring it back to the average performance of the last decade. The target for 2013-14 is 6.5-7 per cent and then accelerate further. India has all the requirements to return to 8 per cent, even if it is later than expected,” he told a gathering of students and academics at Oxford University. “A little over 5 per cent is a slowing down but the whole world is experiencing a slowing of growth. It is a worry because we expect much more but it is not as big a disaster as the media makes it out to be. Growth is important but that growth has to be inclusive and sustainable,” Ahluwalia said last evening. India’s leading economic strategist also stressed that the pace of poverty reduction in the country was within the target set by the government. “It is clear that the government knows how to get growth going but there is a perception that we lag behind on inclusiveness. It is something the government takes very seriously and latest data indicates that the pace of poverty reduction has increased. The extreme view that the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer, is nonsense. There is a lot of good news in terms of the pattern of growth being more inclusive,” he said. The former alumnus of the University of Oxford, who was invited by the Blavatnik School of Government to speak about ‘India’s Challenges Ahead’, was in the UK on his way back from the G-20 Sherpas Meeting in Moscow. “The state of the world economy is a challenge. The focus of government policy is to re-assure foreign investors that India is wide open for business. India has the human resources in place and an expanding private sector. The only problem is the current account deficit. But the global financial system appears to be stabilising and the most important message is that India is a good bet for foreign investment and that message is getting across,” he said. (Pioneer 7/3/13)

 

38.  ‘Implement Swaminathan panel recommendations’ (21)

KADAPA: CPI State leader and Director of Neelam Rajasekhara Reddy Research Centre T. Lakshminarayana on Friday demanded the implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations for ensuring remunerative prices for farm produce. Delivering a memorial lecture on agricultural crisis, government policies and Right to Food on the 17th death anniversary of CPI leader J. Venkataram Reddy at YSR Memorial Press Club here, he said nearly 58 per cent of the population depended on agriculture. The rural folk are migrating to urban areas due to lack of proper education, medicare and employment facilities in villages, he said. Farming has become all the more difficult with the growing influence of Multinational Companies in seeds, pesticides, modern farm tools and gradual weaning away of subsidies to farmers, Mr. Lakshminarayana said. Tonnes of foodgrains are being exported even as poverty and starvation are on the rise. He charged the UPA government with diluting PDS and endangering food security. Such a situation can lead to growth of terrorism, naxalism, unemployment and unrest. The CPI leader deplored allotment of a meagre 1.62 per cent of the central budget to agriculture, while giving concessions worth Rs. 2.25 lakh crore to industrial houses in the last three years. Farmers and agricultural labourers are on the verge of revolting, he said. KC Canal was the sole irrigation provider in Kadapa district, CPI district secretary G. Easwaraiah and CPI(M) district secretary B. Narayana said. They charged the government with ignoring the farmers’ interests. Pruning of subsidies can lead to rise in prices of urea and phosphate from Rs. 580 in January 2011 to Rs. 1,280 now, they said. CPI leaders Abdul Khader, Chennakesava Reddy, P. Krishnamurthy, B. Ramaiah, Rythu Sangham district president T. Ramasubba Reddy, J. Venkataram Reddy’s kin Narayana Reddy and leaders of frontal organisations participated. (The Hindu 9/3/13)

 

RESERVATION

39. Bangalore wants its 25% from deemed varsities (25)

Bangalore: The state higher education department and deemed universities in the state could be heading for a showdown. The higher education department has issued a warning to the seven deemed universities in the state to provide 25% seat reservation for Karnataka students, failing which no-objection certificates (NOCs) issued to them would be withdrawn. Every year, while conducting the CET, the state government directs the deemed universities to provide 25% UG engineering seats to eligible CET students from the state by offering those seats through the government quota. But most of the institutions don’t bother to oblige. Now, the higher education department has decided to cancel the NOCs. State higher education minister CT Ravi, said,“We have been observing the attitude of some of the deemed universities. This time we will not let them off the hook.” Sources in the higher education department said the deemed universities had taken a conditional undertaking while being granted NOCs for setting up their institutions that 25% seats would be reserved for students from Karnataka. “This time we have received strict instructions from the minister (CT Ravi) to withdraw NOCs if they do not provide the seats,” said a senior official from the department. He explained the measures the government planned to take. “If the deemed universities want to enhance their number of seats, they have to approach the AICTE. But that is done through the higher education department. At that time they apply for Eligibility Certificate (EC)/ Feasibility Certificate (FC). If they resist providing seats to students from the state, we will just not give them the ECs/FCs.” As per information available with the Karnataka Examinations Authority (KEA), three out of seven universities are not providing seats, because of which KEA is losing around 300 seats every year. (DNA 2/3/13)

 

40. Bill for quota in promotion to be tabled in current session: Punia (25)

Lucknow: National SC/ST Commission Chairman P L Punia Saturday said the UPA government will be tabling the the Bill for providing reservation in promotion to the SC/ST officials during the ongoing Budget session of Parliament. “The Bill will be brought in this session. We are speaking at the political level (to garner support for the Bill),” Punia said on the sidelines of a meeting with the state, zonal and district level SC/ST Commission coordinators of UP. The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha but the Lok Sabha had witnessed repeated disruptions in the Monsoon session by the Samajwadi Party. With UP being the centre of anti-quota in promotion protests, Punia asked the coordinators to spread the “correct” information about the Bill in their respective zones and districts. (Indian Express 3/3/13)

 

41. ‘No stay on one per cent reservation for SBCs’ (25)

Jaipur: The Rajasthan High Court on Monday clarified that there is no stay on one per cent special reservation extended to Gujjars and other four communities under the ‘special backward classes’ category in the state. The order came when a division bench of the High Court was hearing an application of the Rajasthan government seeking certain modification of a court stay order dated January 29. On January 29, the High Court had stayed the five per cent special reservation given to SBC candidates. Last year, the Rajasthan government had decided to award five per cent reservation to Gujjars, Raika, Banjaaras, Gadiyalohar and Gadariya communities. The state already has 21 per cent reservation for OBCs and another 28 per cent for SC/STs. In its order, the bench ruled, “What prevailed upon our mind while staying the provision of the law was that it was exceeding the upper ceiling of 50 per cent as fixed by the Supreme Court in various judgements.” “Further the prayer of PIL petitioners is also limited as they have challenged only the four per cent reservation that is in excess of the upper ceiling as such no modification of our stay order dated January 29, 2013 is required,” the bench of Justices NK Jain and JK Ranka said, while rejecting the government’s application. (Zee News 5/3/13)

 

42. West Bengal for quota in higher education (25)

Kolkata, March 6 : Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Wednesday announced that her government will introduce reservation for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) in institutions of higher education in West Bengal. “We have come up with a ‘West Bengal Higher Education Reservation in Admission Bill’ which is a revolutionary decision related to higher education,” she said. “We have decided to introduce reservation for SC (22 percent), ST (six percent) and OBC (17 percent, including minorities) students in higher educational institutions for the first time in the state,” Banerjee said here after the cabinet gave its nod to the proposed bil. The legislation is aimed at ensuring a better future for students of the reserved category. “We have already provided reservations for OBCs in jobs. In order to complement jobs with higher education, this step will go a long way in uplifting the lives of SCs, STs and OBCs in the state,” said Banerjee. “This reservation will not affect the existing seat availability for general category students. For this reservation, extra/additional seats and infrastructure will be created to provide higher education (New Kerala 7/3/13)

 

43. Bengal quota for SC/STs & OBCs (25)

The Mamata Banerjee government will introduce reservation of seats for SC/STs and OBCs in higher education in the state. The decision was taken in a Cabinet meeting chaired by the chief minister on Wednesday. “We have decided to introduce reservation for SC (22 per cent), ST (6 per cent) and OBC (17 per cent, including minorities) students in higher educational institutions for the first time in the state,” Ms Banerjee said, adding that it was a revolutionary decision. The chief minister made it clear that the reservations will not impinge on the existing seat availability for general category students. “The government will create additional seats for these reservations without affecting the seat prospects of general category students,” she explained. Ms Banerjee will get the West Bengal State Higher Education Institutions Reservation Bill, 2013, passed in the coming budget session of the state Assembly. “We have already provided reservations for OBCs in jobs. In order to complement jobs with higher education, this step will go a long way in uplifting the SCs, STs and OBCs in the state,” she elaborated. She informed that for the implementation of the reservation, additional infrastructure would be created at a cost of `1,000 crore, out of which `600 crore would be spent annually. Meanwhile, in order to improve the work culture, the state government is planning to bring a new bill: Paschim Banga Lok Pariseba Bill. “This bill will ensure that people receive proper and prompt services from various departments. They will now get services like driving licences, birth and death certificates, land conversion certificates electricity connections and health services without any problem,” she added. If any citizen complained against any government employee of non-cooperation in providing any of these services then he would have to pay a fine between `250 to `1,000. To curb its misuse, the government will impose some safeguards. (Asian Age 7/3/13)

 

44. Protesting Jats threaten to cut supplies to Delhi (25)

Hisar: Jats have threatened to cut supply of milk, water and vegetables to Delhi in protest against their demand for inclusion into the Central list of OBCs. The Haryana government had accorded the OBC status to the community. While one group has decided to welcome the decision another grouping has expressed dissatisfaction. Ram Bhagat Malik of the All India Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti said they were not satisfied with the state government’s decision. Malik said the Samiti would launch an indefinite stir from March 15 and disrupt supplies to the national Capital. Meanwhile in New Delhi, scores of protesters from the Jat community agitated outside the residence of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. They were demanding reservation in government jobs and educational institutions. One of the protesters said the community had decided to launch an agitation ahead of the Commonwealth Games but it was suspended following an assurance by Dikshit that she will take up their demands with top leaders in the Union Government. “We want reservation in government jobs. We have been asking the Union government to make required changes in the law,” a protester said. (Hindustan Times 8/3/13)

 

45. ‘Political reservations for Muslims not possible’ (25)

HYDERABAD: Union Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan has stated that poor awareness among Muslims has been the major impediment in accessing government schemes by the community, even as he admitted defects in the delivery systems. “Defective delivery mechanisms are not a problem just to minorities’ schemes but it’s glitch for all schemes implemented by governments in the country. However, lack of proper awareness about the schemes being designed and implemented for Muslims has been denying them of the opportunities,” the Minister felt while participating in a debate on the implementation of Sachar Committee recommendations here on Friday. He noted that the Centre had accepted 72 out of 76 recommendations made by the committee but could not implement three aspects due to some technical reasons. He said that they were in the process of putting in practice national diversity index, preparing a data bank and setting up an equal opportunities commission. Faulting NGOs (non-governmental organisations) for not involving them much in the implementation of schemes for Muslims the Union Minister said they were planning to set up NGOs’ advisory councils from national to block level to improve their participation. Responding to remarks and suggestions of other panel members – Amitabh Kundu of JNU, Zahed Ali Khan, Editor of Siasat, Wajahat Habibullah, Chairperson of National Committee for Minorities, and others – the Minister said it was not possible to implement political reservation for Muslims but the amendments brought in the Delimitation Act could help them to some extent in future. On the “attitude of hatred towards Muslims whenever the incidents of terrorism occur” the Union Minister said change must come in the society and the social inclusion of Muslims could help overcome the problem. Later, at the valedictory of a conference on the “Status of Muslim women in Indian sub-continent” in Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) Mr. Rahman Khan said reservation to Muslims in education and employment had limited purpose and it was not a solution for their emancipation. Social activist from Gujarat Teesta Seetalvad said Muslim women must overcome patriarchy, prejudice and majoritarianism to put an end to their oppression. (The Hindu 9/3/13)